Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary

196 Lutherans


Those Christians who follow the opinions of Martin Luther, the celebrated reformer of the church, in the sixteenth century. In order that we may trace the rise and progress of Lutheranism, we must here refer to the life of Luther himself. Luther was a native of Eisleben, in Saxony, and born in 1483. Though his parents were poor, he received a learned education, during the progress of which he gave many indications of uncommon vigour and acuteness of genius. As his mind was naturally susceptible of serious impressions, and tinctured with somewhat of that religious melancholy which delights in the solitude and devotion of a monastic life, he retired into a convent of Augustian friars; where he acquired great reputation not only for piety, but for love of knowledge, and unwearied application to study. The cause of this retirement is said to have been, that he was once struck by lightning, and his companion killed by his side by the same flash. He had been taught the scholastic philosophy which was in vogue in those days, and made considerable progress it ; but happening to find a copy of the Bible which lay neglected in the library of his monastery, he applied himself to the study of it with such eagerness and assiduity, as quite astonished the monks; and increased his reputation for sanctity so much, that he was chosen professor first of philosophy, and afterwards of theology, in Wittemburg, on the Elbe, where Frederic, elector of Saxony, had founded an university.

While Luther continued to enjoy the highest reputation for sanctity and learning, Tetzel, a Dominican friar came to Wittemburg in order to publish indulgences. Luther beheld his success with great concern; and having first inveighed against indulgences from the pulpit, he afterwards published ninety-five theses, containing his sentiments on that subject. These he proposed not as points fully established, but as subjects of inquiry and disputation. He appointed a day on which the learned were invited to impugn them, either in person or by writing; and to the whole he subjoined solemn protestations of his high respect for the apostolic see, and of his implicit submission to its authority. No opponent appeared at the time prefixed: the theses spread over Germany with astonishing rapidity, and were read with the greatest eagerness.

Though Luther met with no opposition for some little time after he began to publish his new doctrines, it was not long before many zealous champions arose to defend those opinions with which the wealth and power of the clergy were so strictly connected. There cause, however, was by no means promoted by these endeavors: the people began to call in question even the authority on the canon law, and of the pope himself. The court of Rome at first despised these new doctrines and disputes; but at last the attention of the pope being raised by the great success of the reformer, and the complaints of his adversaries, Luther was summoned, in the month of July, 1518, to appear at Rome, within sixty days, before the auditor of the chamber. One of Luther’s adversaries, named Prierius, who had written against him, was appointed to examine his doctrines, and to decide concerning them. the pope wrote at the same time to the elector of Saxony, beseeching him not to protect a man whose heretical and profane tenets were so shocking to pious ears; and enjoined the provincial of the Augustinians to check, by his authority, the rashness of an arrogant monk, which brought disgrace upon their order, and gave offence and disturbance to the whole church.

From these letters, and the appointment of his open enemy Prierius to be his judge, Luther easily saw what sentence he might expect at Rome; and therefore discovered the utmost solicitude to have his cause tried in Germany, and before a less suspected tribunal. He wrote a submissive letter to the pope, in which he promised an unreserved obedience to his will, for as yet he entertained no doubt of the divine original of the pope’s authority; and, by the intercession of the other professors. Cajetan, the pope’s legate in Germany, was appointed to hear and determine the cause. Luther appeared before him without hesitation; but Cajetan thought it below his dignity to dispute the point with a person so much his inferior in rank; and therefore required him, by virtue of the apostolic powers with which he was clothed, to retract the errors which he had uttered with regard to indulgences and the nature of faith, and to abstain for the future from the publication of new and dangerous opinions; and, at the last, forbade him to appear in his presence, unless he promised to comply with what had been required of him.

This haughty and violent manner of proceeding, together with some other circumstances, gave Luther’s friends such strong reasons to suspect that even the imperial safe-conduct would not be able to protect him from the legate’s power and resentment, that they prevailed on him secretly to withdraw from Augsburg, where he had attended the legate, and to return to his own country. But before his departure, according to a form of which there had been some examples, he prepared a solemn appeal from the legate, ill-informed at that time concerning his cause, to the pope, when he should receive more full intimation with respect to it. Cajetan enraged at Luther’s abrupt retreat, and at the publication of his appeal, wrote to the elector of Saxony, complaining of both; and requiring him, as he regarded the peace of the church, or the authority of its head, either to send that seditious monk a prisoner to Rome, or to banish him out of his territories. Frederic had hitherto, from political motives, protected Luther, as thinking he might be of use in checking the enormous power of the see of Rome; and though all Germany resounded with his fame, the elector had never yet admitted him into his presence. But upon this demand made by the cardinal, it became necessary to throw off some of his former reserve. He had been at great expense, and bestowed much attention on founding a new university, an object of considerable importance to every German prince; and foreseeing how fatal a blow the removal of Luther would be to its reputation, he not only declined complying with either of the pope’s requests, but openly discovered great concern for Luther’s safety.

The situation of our reformer, in the mean time, became daily more and more alarming. He knew very well what were the motives which induced the elector to afford him protection, and that he could by no means depend on a continuance of his friendship. If he should be obliged to quit Saxony, he had no other asylum, and must stand exposed to whatever punishment the rage or bigotry of his enemies could inflict; and so ready were his adversaries to condemn him, that he had been declared a heretic at Rome before the expiration of the sixty days allowed him in the citation for making his appearance. Notwithstanding all this, however, he discovered no symptoms of timidity or remissness; but continued to vindicate his own conduct and opinions, and to inveigh against those of his adversaries with more vehemence than ever. Being convinced therefore, that the pope would soon proceed to the most violent measures against him, he appealed to a general council, which he affirmed to be the representative of the Catholic church, and superior in power to the pope, who, being a fallible man, might err, as St. Peter, the most perfect of his predecessors had done.

The court of Rome was equally assiduous, in the mean time, to crush the author of these new doctrines, which gave them so much uneasiness. A bull was issued by the pope, of a date prior to Luther’s appeal, in which he magnified the virtues of indulgences, and subjected to the heaviest ecclesiastical censures all who presumed to teach a contrary doctrine. Such a clear decision of the sovereign pontiff against him might have been very fatal to Luther’s cause, had not the death of the emperor Maximillan, which happened on January 17, 1519, contributed to give matters a different turn. Both the principles and interest of Maximillian had prompted him to support the authority of the see of Rome; but, in consequence of his death, the vicariate of that party of Germany which is governed by the Saxon laws devolved to the elector of Saxony; and, under the shelter of his friendly administration, Luther himself enjoyed tranquillity; and his opinions took such root in different places, that they could never afterwards be eradicated. At the same time, as the election of an emperor was a point more interesting to the pope (Leo X.) than a theological controversy which he did not understand, and of which he could not foresee the consequences, he was so extremely solicitous not to irritate a prince of such considerable influence in the electoral college as Frederic, that he discovered a great unwillingness to pronounce the sentence of excommunication against Luther, which his adversaries continually demanded with the most clamorous importunity.

From the reason just now given, and Leo’s natural aversion to severe measures, a suspension of proceeding against Luther took place for eighteen months, though perpetual negotiations were carried on during this interval, in order to bring the matter to an amicable issue. The manner in which these were conducted having given our reformer many opportunities of observing the corruption of the court of Rome, its obstinacy in adhering to established errors, and its indifference about truth, however clearly proposed or strongly proved, he began, in 1520, to utter some doubts with regard to the divine original of the papal authority, which he publicly disputed with Eccius, one of his most learned and formidable antagonists. The dispute was indecisive, both parties claimed the victory; but is must have been very mortifying to the partizans of the Romish church to hear such an essential point of their doctrine publicly attacked.

The papal authority being once suspected, Luther proceeded to push on his inquiries and attacks from one doctrine to another, till at last he began to shake the firmest foundations on which the wealth and power of the church were established. Leo then began to perceive that there were no hopes of reclaiming such an incorrigible heretic, and therefore prepared to pronounce the sentence of excommunication against him. The college of cardinals was often assembled, in order to prepare the sentence with due deliberation; and the ablest canonists were consulted how it might be expressed with unexceptionable formality. At last it was issued on the 15th of June, 1520. Forty-one propositions, extracted out of Luther’s works, were therein condemned as heretical, scandalous, and offensive to pious ears; all persons were forbidden to read his writings, upon pain of excommunication; such as had any of them in their custody were commanded to commit them to the flames; he himself, if he did not within sixty days publicly recant his errors, and burn his books, was pronounced an obstinate heretic, excommunicated, and delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh; and all secular princes were required, under pain of incurring the same censure, to seize his person, that he might be punished as his crimes deserved.

Luther was not in the least disconcerted by this sentence, which he had for some time expected. He renewed his appeal to this general council; declared the pope to be that antichrist or man of sin whose appearance is foretold in the New Testament; declaimed against his tyranny with greater vehemence than ever; and at last, by way of retaliation, having assembled all the professors and students in the university of Wittemburg, with great pomp, and in the presence of a vast multitude of spectators, he cast the volumes of the canon law, together with the bull of excommunication, into the flames. The manner in which this action was justified, gave still more offence than the action itself. Having collected from the canon law some of the most extravagant propositions with regard to the plentitude and omnipotence of the pope’s power, as well as the subordination of all secular jurisdiction to his authority, he published these with a commentary, pointing out the impiety of such tenets, and their evident tendency to subvert all civil government.

On the accession of Charles V. to the empire, Luther found himself in a very dangerous situation. Charles, in order to secure the pope’s friendship, had determined to treat him with great severity. His eagerness to gain this point rendered him not averse to gratify the papal legates in Germany, who insisted, that, without any delay, or formal deliberation, the diet then sitting at Worms ought to condemn a man whom the pope had already excommunicated as an incorrigible heretic. Such an abrupt manner of proceeding, however, being deemed unprecendented and unjust by the members of the diet, they made a point of Luther’s appearing in person, and declaring whether he adhered or not to those opinions which had drawn upon him the censures of the church. Not only the emperor, but all the princes through whose territories he had to pass, granted him a safe-conduct; and Charles wrote to him at the same time, requiring his immediate attendance on the diet, and renewing his promises of protection from any injury or violence. Luther did not hesitate one moment about yielding obedience; and set out for Worms, attended by the herald who had brought the emperor’s letter and safe-conduct. While on his journey, many of his friends, whom the fate of Huss under similiar circumstances, and notwithstanding the same security of an imperial safe-conduct, filled with solicitude, advised and entreated him not to rush wantonly into the midst of danger. But Luther, superior to such terrors, silenced them with this reply: “I am lawfully called,” said he, “to appear in that city: and thither I will go, in the name of the Lord, though as many devils as there are tiles on the houses were there combined against me.”

The reception which he met with at Worms was such as might have been reckoned a full reward of all his labours, if vanity and the love of applause had been the principles by which he was influenced. Greater crowds assembled to behold him than had appeared at the emperor’s public entry; his apartments were daily filled with princes and personages of the highest rank; and he was treated with an homage more sincere, as well as more flattering, than any which pre-eminence in birth or condition can command. At his appearance before the diet he behaved with great decency and with equal firmness. He readily acknowledged an excess of acrimony and vehemence in his controversial writings; but refused to retract his opinions, unless he were convinced of their falsehood, or to consent to their being tried by any other rule than the word of God. When neither threats nor entreaties could prevail on him to depart from this resolution, some of the ecclesiastics proposed to imitate the example of the council of Constance; and, by punishing the author of this pestilent heresy, who was now in their power, to deliver the church at once from such an evil. But the members of the diet refusing to expose the German integrity to fresh reproach by a second violation of public faith, and Charles being no less unwilling to bring a stain upon the beginning of his administration by such an ignominious action, Luther was permitted to depart in safety. A few days after he left the city, a severe edict was published in the emperor’s name, and by authority of the diet, depriving him, as an obstinate and excomunicated criminal, of all the privileges which he enjoyed as a subject of the empire; forbidding any prince to harbour or protect him; and requiring all to seize his person as soon as the term specified in his protection should be expired.

But this rigorous decree had no considerable effect; the execution of it being prevented partly by the multiplicity of occupations which the commotions in Spain, together with the wars in Italy and the Low Countries, created to the emperor; and partly by a prudent precaution employed by the elector of Saxony, Luther’s faithful patron. As Luther, on his return from Worms, was passing near Altenstrain, in Thuringia, a number of horsemen, in masks, rushed suddenly out of a wood, where the elector had appointed them to lie in wait for him and, surrounding his company, carried him, after dismissing all his attendants, to Wortburg, a strong castle, not far distant. There the elector ordered him to be supplied with every thing necessary or agreeable; but the place of his retreat was carefully concealed, until the fury of the present storm against him began to abate, upon a change in the political system of Europe. In this solitude, where he remained nine months, and which he frequently called his Patmos, after the name of that island to which the apostle John was banished, he exerted his usual vigour and industry in defence of his doctrines, or in confutation of his adversaries; publishing several treatises, which revived the spirit of his followers, astonished to a great degree, and disheartened at the sudden disappearance of their leader.

Luther, weary at length of his retirement, appeared publicly again at Wittemburg, upon the 6th of March, 1522. He appeared, indeed, without the elector’s leave; but immediately wrote him a letter to prevent him taking it ill. The edict of Charles V. severe as it was had little or no check to Luther’s doctrine; for the emperor was no sooner gone into Flanders, than his edict was neglected and despised, and the doctrine seemed to spread even faster than before. Carolostadius, in Luther’s absence, had pushed things on faster than his leader, and had attempted to abolish the use of mass, to remove images out of the churches, to set aside auricular confession, invocation of saints, the abstaining from meats; had allowed the monks to leave the monasteries, to neglect their vows, and to marry; in short, had quite changed the doctrine and discipline of the church at Wittemburg, all which, though not against Luther’s sentiments, was yet blamed by him, as being rashly and unseasonably done. Lutheranism was still confined to Germany; it was not to go to France; and Henry VIII. of England made the most rigorous acts to hinder it from invading his realm. Nay, he did something more: to show his zeal for religion and the holy see, and perhaps his skill in theological learning, he wrote a treatise Of the Seven Sacraments, against Luther’s book Of the Captivity of Babylon, which he presented to Leo X. in October, 1521. The pope received it very favourably, and was so well pleased with the king of England, that he complimented him with the title of Defender of the Faith. Luther, however, paid no regard to his kingship, but answered him with great sharpness, treating both his person and performance in the most contemptuous manner. Henry complained of Luther’s rude usage of him to the princes of Saxony: and Fisher, bishop of Rochester, replied to his answer, in behalf of Henry’s treatise; but neither the king’s complaint, nor the bishop’s reply, were attended with any visible effects.

Luther, though he had put a stop to the violent proceedings of Carolostadius, now made open war on the pope and bishops; and, that he might make the people despise their authority as much as possible, he wrote one book against the pope’s bull, and another against the order falsely called the Order of Bishops.

The same year, 1522, he wrote a letter, dated July the 29th, to the assembly of the states of Bohemia; in which he assured them that he was labouring to establish their doctrine in Germany, and exhorted them not to return to the communion of the church of Rome; and he published also this year a translation of the New Testament in the German tongue, which was afterwards corrected by himself and Melancthon. This translation having been printed several times, and being in every body’s hands, Ferdinand, archduke of Austria, the emperor’s brother, made a very severe edict, to hinder the farther publication of it; and forbade all the subjects of his Imperial Majesty to have any copies of it, or of Luther’s other books. Some other princes followed his example; and Luther was so angry at it, that he wrote a treatise Of the Secular Power, in which he accuses them of tyranny and impiety. The diet of the empire was held at Nuremberg, at the end of the year to which Hadrian VI. sent his brief, dated November the 25th; for Leo X. died upon the 2d of December, 1521, and Hadrian had been elected pope upon the 9th of January following. In his brief, among other things, he observes to the diet how he had heard, with grief, that Martin Luther after the sentence of Leo X. which was ordered to be executed by the edict of Worms, continued to teach the same errors, and daily to publish books full of heresies, that it appeared strange to him that so large and so religious a nation could be seduced by a wretched apostate friar; that nothing, however, could be more pernicious to Christendom; and that, therefore, he exhorts them to use their utmost endeavours to make Luther, and the authors of those tumults, return to their duty; or, if they refuse, and continue obstinate, to proceed against them according to the laws of the empire, and the severity of the last edict.

The resolution of this diet was published in the form of an edict, upon the 6th of March, 1523; but it had no effect in checking the Lutherans, who still went on in the same triumphant manner. This year Luther wrote a great many pieces; among the rest, one upon the dignity and office of the supreme magistrate; which Frederick, elector of Saxony, is said to have been highly pleased with. He sent, about the same time, a writing in the German language to the Waldenses, or Pickards, in Bohemia and Moravia, who had applied to him “about worshipping the body of Christ in the eucharist,” He wrote, also, another book, which he dedicated to the senate and people of Prague, “about the institution of ministers of the church.” He drew up a form of saying mass. He wrote a piece, entitled, An Example of popish Doctrine and Divinity; which Dupin calls a satire against nuns, and those who profess a monastic life. He wrote also against the vows of virginity, in his preface to his commentary on 1 Cor. viii. and his exhortations here were it seems, followed with effect; for, soon after, nine nuns, among whom was Catherine de Bore, eloped from the nunnery at Nimptschen, and were brought, by the assistance of Leonard Coppen, a burgess of Torgau, to Wittemburg. Whatever offence this proceeding might give to the Papists, it was highly extolled by Luther; who, in a book written in the German language, compares the deliverance of these nuns from the slavery of monastic life to that of the souls which Jesus Christ has delivered by his death. this year Luther had occasion to canonize two of his followers, who, as Melchior Adam relates, were burnt at Brussels, in the beginning of July, and were the first who suffered martyrdom for his doctrine. He wrote also a consolatory letter to three noble ladies at Misnia, who were banished from the duke of Saxony’s court at Friburg, for reading his books.

In the beginning of the year 1524, Clement VII. sent a legate into Germany to the diet which was to be held at Nuremberg. Hadrian VI. died in October 1523, and was succeeded by Clement upon the 19th of November. A little before his death, he canonized Benno, who was bishop of Meissen, in the time of Gregory VII. and one of the most zealous defenders of the holy see. Luther, imagining that this was done directly to oppose him, drew up a piece with this title, Against the new idol and old devil set up at Meissen, in which, he treats the memory of Gregory with great freedom, and does not spare even Hadrian. Clement VII’s legate represented to the diet of Nuremberg the necessity of enforcing the execution of the edict of Worms, which had been strangely neglected by the princes of the empire; but, notwithstanding the legate’s solicitations, which were very pressing, the decrees of that diet were thought so ineffectual, that they were condemned at Rome, and rejected by the emperor.

In October, 1524, Luther flung off the monastic habit; which, though not premeditated and designed, was yet a very proper preparative to a step he took the year after: we mean his marriage with Catherine de Bore.

His marriage, however, did not retard his activity and diligence in the work of reformation. He revised the Augsburg confession of faith, and apology for the Protestants, when the Protestant religion was first established on a firm basis.

After this, Luther had little else to do than to sit down and contemplate the mighty work he had finished; for that a single monk should be able to give the church so rude a shock, that there needed but such another entirely to overturn it, may very well seem a mighty work. He did indeed, little else; for the remainder of his life was spent in exhorting princes, states, and universities, to confirm the reformation which had been brought about through him; and publishing from time to time such writings as might encourage, direct and aid them in doing it. The emperor threatened temporal punishment with armies, and the pope eternal with bulls and anathemas; but Luther cared for none of their threats.

In the year 1533, Luther wrote a consolatory epistle to the citizens of Oschatz, who had suffered some hardships for adhering to the Augsburg confession of faith; in which, among other things, he says, “The devil is the host, and the world is his inn; so that wherever you come, you will be sure to find this ugly host.” He had also about this time a terrible controversy with George duke of Saxony, who had such an aversion to Luther’s doctrine, that he obliged his subjects to take an oath that they would never embrace it. However, sixty or seventy citizens of Leipsic were found to have deviated a little from the Catholic way in some point or other, and they were known previously to have consulted Luther about it; upon which George complained to the elector John, that Luther had not only abused his person, but also preached up rebellion among his subjects. The elector ordered Luther to be acquainted with this; and to be told, at the same time, that if he did not acquit himself of this charge, he could not possibly escape punishment. But Luther easily refuted the accusation, by proving, that he had been so far from stirring up his subjects against him on the score of religion, that, on the contrary, he had exhorted them rather to undergo the greatest hardships, and even suffer themselves to be banished.

In the year 1534, the Bible, translated by him into German, was first printed, as the old privilege, dated Bibliopolis, under the elector’s hand, shows; and it was published the same year. He also published this year a book against masses, and the consecration of priest, in which he relates a conference he had with the devil upon those points; for it is remarkable in Luther’s whole history, that he never had any conflicts of any kind within, but the devil was always his antagonist. In February, 1537, an assembly was held at Smalkald about matters of religion, to which Luther and Melanethon were called. At this meeting Luther was seized with so grievous an illness, that there were no hopes of his recovery. He was afflicted with the stone, and had a stoppage of urine for eleven days. In this terrible condition he would needs undertake to travel, notwithstanding all that his friends could say or do to prevent him: his resolution, however, was attended with a good effect; for the night after his departure he began to be better. As he was carried along he made his will, in which he bequeathed his detestation of popery to his friends and brethren; agreeably to what he used to say: Pestis eram vivus, moriens ero mors tua, papa; that is, “I was the plague of popery in my life, and shall continue to be so in my death.”

This year the pope and the court of Rome, finding it impossible to deal with the Protestants by force, began to have recourse to stratagem. They affected, therefore, to think, that though Luther had, indeed, carried things on with a high hand, and to a violent extreme, yet what he had pleaded in defence of these measures was not entirely without foundation. They talked with a seeming show of moderation; and Pius III. who succeeded Clement VII. proposed a reformation first among themselves, and even went so far as to fix a place for a council to meet at for that purpose. But Luther treated this farce as it deserved to be treated; unmasked and detected it immediately; and, to ridicule it the more strongly, caused a picture to be drawn, in which was represented the pope seated on high upon a throne, some cardinals about him with foxes’ tails on, and seeming to evacuate upwards and downwards, (sursum deorsum repurgare, as Melchior Sdam expresses it.) This was fixed over against the titlepage, to let the reader see at once the scope and design of the book; which was to expose that cunning and artifice with which these subtle politicians affected to cleanse and purify themselves from their errors and superstitions. Luther published, about the same time, a confutation of the pretended grant of Constantine to Sylvester, bishop of Rome; and also some letters of John Huss, written from his prison at Constance to the Bohemians. In this manner was Luther employed till his death, which happened in the year 1546.

A thousand lies were invented by the Papists about Luther’s death. Some said that he died suddenly; others, that he killed himself; others, that the devil strangled him: others, that his corpse stunk so abominably, that they were forced to leave it in the way, as it was carried to be interred. Nay, lies were invented about his death, even while he was yet alive. Luther, however, to give the most effectual refutation of this account of his death, put forth an advertisement of his being alive; and, to be even with the Papists for the malice they had shown in this lie, wrote a book at the same time to prove, that “the papacy was founded by the devil.”

Lutheranism has undergone some alterations since the time of its founder. Luther rejected the epistle of St. James as inconsistent with the doctrine of St. Paul in relation to justification; he also set aside the Apocalypse: both of which are now received as canonical in the Lutheran church.

Luther reduced the number of sacraments to two, viz. baptism and the eucharist; but he believed the impanation, or consubstantiation; that is, that the matter of the bread and wine remain with the body and blood of Christ; and it is in this article that the main difference between the Lutheran and the English churches consists.

Luther maintained the mass to be no sacrifice: exploded the adoration of the host, auricular confession, meritorious works, indulgences, purgatory, and worship of images, &c. which had been introduced in the corrupt times of the Romish church. He also opposed the doctrine of free will, maintained predestination, and asserted our justification to be solely by the imputation of the merits and satisfaction of Christ. He also opposed the fastings of the Romish church, monastical vows, the celibate of the clergy, &c.

The Lutherans, however, of all Protestants, are said to differ least from the Romish church; as they affirm that the body and blood of Christ are materially present in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, though in an incomprehensible manner; and likewise to represent some religious rites and institutions, as the use of images in churches, the distinguishing vestments of the clergy, the private confession of sins, the use of wafers in the administration of the Lord’s supper, the form of exorcism in the celebration of baptism, and other ceremonies of the like nature, as tolerable, and some of them as useful. The Lutherans maintain with regard to the divine decrees, that they respect the salvation or misery of men, in consequence of a previous knowledge of their sentiments and characters, and not as free and uncontinual, and as founded on the mere will of God. Towards the close of the seventeenth century, the Lutherans began to entertain a greater liberality of sentiment than they had before adopted; though in many places they persevered longer in severe and despotic principles than other Protestant churches. Their public teachers now enjoy an unbounded liberty of dissenting from the decisions of those symbols or creeds which were once deemed almost infallible rules of faith and practice, and of declaring their dissent in the manner they judge the most expedient. Mosheim attributes this change in their sentiments to the maxims which they generally adopted, that Christians were accountable to God alone for their religious opinions; and that no individual could be justly punished by the magistrate for his erroneous opinions, while he conducted himself like a virtuous and obedient subject, and made no attempts to disturb the peace and order of civil society. In Sweden the Lutheran church is episcopal: in Norway the same. In Denmark, under the name of superintendent, all episcopal authority is retained; whilst through Germany the superior power is vested in a consistory, over which there is a president, with a distinction of rank and privileges, and a subordination of inferior clergy to their superiors, different from the parity of Presbyterianism.

Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.

Charles Buck on the Biblical Covenants (Complete)
Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary