King James Bible Adam Clarke Bible Commentary Martin Luther's Writings Wesley's Sermons and Commentary Neurosemantics Audio / Video Bible Evolution Cruncher Creation Science Vincent New Testament Word Studies KJV Audio Bible Family videogames Christian author Godrules.NET Main Page Add to Favorites Godrules.NET Main Page




Bad Advertisement?

Are you a Christian?

Online Store:
  • Visit Our Store

  • HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION - STRUGGLES.


    PREVIOUS CHAPTER - NEXT CHAPTER - HELP - FACEBOOK - GR FORUMS - GODRULES ON YOUTUBE    

    (1524-1527.)

    GUSTAVUS VASA, as we have seen, had gone to Malmoe for the purpose of arranging with Frederick, king of Denmark, such measures as were required by the grave circumstances in which they were both placed. Christian II. had been set aside, and these two princes were to divide his dominions between them. The compact between Denmark and Sweden was signed at the same time that Olaf and Lawrence appeared before the chapter of Upsala (October 1524). Shortly after this formality, Gustavus returned to his capital.

    No sooner had the king passed within the gates of Stockholm than he heard of the disorder and disturbances which filled the town. He gave orders to be taken straight to the castle; but a very strange sight met his eyes in the streets through which he had to pass. He saw them thronged with priests, tradesmen, women and children, who were running about in all directions, many of them uttering wild cries. On reaching the square he found there heaps of broken images and fragments of statues, with monks standing beside the debris , weeping and touching with trembling hands those heads and arms and mutilated bodies, crying out in piteous tones, — ‘Behold, our saints, the blessed patrons of the kingdom, how shamefully they have been treated!’ There were also some of the townsmen standing by, who looked on the destruction of these idols as a pious deed. Some giddy ones among them even bragged of their exploits. One young man beginning to laugh and to mock at the pope, the populace had fallen on him and treated him in a horrible manner. f406 Gustavus could hardly suppress his astonishment and indignation. As soon as he arrived at the castle he sent for Olaf and his colleague Langerben, and asked them in angry tones what all this meant. They answered that they had nothing to do with these violent proceedings, but that they were instigated by certain merchants of the Netherlands who had lately arrived; that two of them especially, Knipperdolling and Melchior Rinck, declaring that the Holy Ghost spoke by their lips, had secretly made partisans; and that then, feeling sure of their case, they had taken possession first of St. John’s Church, and afterwards of other churches, had preached in them on the Apocalypse, and had cast down the images and broken the organs to pieces. ‘And how is it,’ said the king, ‘that you have tolerated such disorders?’ Olaf replied that the only effect of opposition on their part would have been to excite these enthusiasts still more; that the best course was to wait till the people came to their right mind, which they were sure to do ere long. Gustavus testified his displeasure at the toleration of disturbances calculated to undo all that he had done. He summoned the two iconoclasts to his presence, commanded them to depart the kingdom, and declared at the same time that if they ever entered it again, it would be under pain of death.

    While the fanaticism of the ‘Illuminated’ was turning Stockholm upside down, the Roman clergy took advantage of it to bring back to their side those who had appeared friendly to the Reformation.

    Gustavus, who possessed in a high degree those gifts of great men which make a look or a word enough to persuade men, saw that his first duty was to pacify the people. According to the custom of newly elected kings, he took what was called Erics road , and, making a progress through all the provinces of his kingdom, he appeared everywhere like a father full of love, even for the least of his subjects. He counseled the ecclesiastics to preach the Gospel with meekness, and the flocks to put it in practice. A storm had passed over Sweden, but the presence of Gustavus was like the beneficent sun which lifts up the drooping grass and restores rigor to the blasted trees.

    The ministers, on their part, sought to enlighten men’s minds; and while Olaf preached the Gospel with power and boldness, his colleague proclaimed it with prudence and meekness. Discourses and dogmas were not enough. Olaf aimed at morality, at a Christian life; and he thought that it was his duty to begin with the heads of the churches, who rejected marriage, and had formed for the most part illicit connections. In his view it was a necessity to substitute for an impure celibacy the holy institution divinely established from the beginning of the world. He knew that such a course would give rise to interminable complaints; but nothing could hinder him when the question was one of obedience to a command of God.

    He determined to do as Luther did. He made sure of the king’s approval; and on Septuagesima Sunday, in January 1525, he married a virtuous lady belonging to a Christian family of Stockholm. The ceremony, at which the king was present, was conducted, contrary to the usual practice, in the Swedish language. This marriage afforded the priests an opportunity of raising a great storm. Because a reformer had obeyed a command of God, they cried out at his impiety: ‘All rule is abolished,’ they said, ‘public order is at an end, and the most holy things are trodden under foot.’

    The bishop of Linkoping, as usual, headed the opposition, or rather constituted it in himself alone, and lamented the timidity of his colleagues.

    Brask was an eminent character, the best informed and most discreet man among the Swedes. To him Sweden was indebted for the introduction of useful industries. He it was who first conceived the project of uniting the Baltic with the North Sea by means of a canal, a plan which has been carried out in our own days. He procured from abroad not only breviaries, but Italian law-books and poets, some of them even profane. When one of his friends went to Rome he begged him to bring back for him the ‘Orlando Inamorato ’ and other books of the same kind. He stood forward as the champion of the liberty of the Church, of the kingdom, and of the nobility; and looking upon the marriage of priests as a tremendous attack on the Romish system, he rushed to the breach to defend it. He had welcomed the young king with a certain air of paternal condescension, and called him ‘dear Gustavus.’ He now wrote to him a violent letter. ‘This antichristian measure,’ he said, ‘is causing a great scandal in the kingdom.

    Never since the age of the Apostles has a priest dared to perpetrate so shocking an offense. What confusion, what bitter distensions I foresee in the future! And it is on you, Sire, that the blame will be laid; on you, who by your presence have sanctioned this marriage which is contrary to the laws of the Church and the State.’ He concluded by pronouncing a sentence of excommunication against Olaf. Gustavus too comprehended, although in a different sense from Brask’s, the importance of the step taken by the Stockholm pastor, and nobly came forward in his defense. He replied to the prelate that Olaf was prepared to prove by the Word of God the lawfulness of his union; and that for his own part he considered it strange that a man who acted in conformity with the law of God should for so doing be laid under an interdict, while every one was aware to what scandalous licentiousness the priests were addicted, and without being rebuked for it. ‘I should very much like to know,’ added the king, ‘whether such monstrosities are more in accordance with the divine law than marriage which is ordained of God for all. There is not a single passage in the Bible which prohibits the marriage of priests; and as for papal ordinances, they are everywhere falling into discredit. The antiquity of a custom cannot make it justifiable.’ The only effect of this reply was to exasperate Brask. He addressed Archbishop Magnus, who took no notice of his very bitter reproaches. He traveled all over his diocese, and prohibited priests and laymen from touching, were it only with the tips of their fingers, the foolish teachings of Luther, lest the contagion should infect and be the death of them. Brask was at least successful in stirring up the people against Olaf and Lawrence. In every direction were heard the exclamations — ‘Cursed heretics! disfrocked monks!’ Olaf published, according to the announcement of Gustavus, a work in which he maintained the doctrine that marriage is honorable in all . f411 This servant of God was now especially engaged on another task. While men were loading him with insults, he was employing the time which his ministry left at his disposal in translating the Scriptures into Swedish. The Chancellor Anderson, on his part, had done the same. These versions were printed, and ere long the bishops loudly murmured because the books of the New Testament were being read in every house. ‘Well, then,’ said the king, ‘translate it yourselves, as has been done in other nations.’ The bishops, finding that their authority was every day diminishing, applied themselves, though sorely against their will, to the task which the king proposed to them; and they distributed the books of the New Testament among the various chapters of canons, and the two monastic orders, the Dominican and the Carthusian. The bishops, the canons, and the monks were about to suffer still greater annoyance than the obligation to read the Bible.

    The Diet which met at Wadstena, at the beginning of 1526, persuaded the king to have himself crowned, adding that the crown should be hereditary.

    But Gustavus said that before being crowned king he was bound to provide for the maintenance of the kingdom. On investigating the resources of the State and of the Church, he found that the annual expenditure of the former was more than double its income, while the revenues of the Church were much larger than those of the country. The bloated priesthood were swallowing up the people. The king demanded that the Diet should grant to the State two-thirds of the church tithes, which would enable it to provide for the wants of the nation, and to reduce the taxation which pressed heavily on the third estate. The clergy were terrified; bishops and abbots inquired what was to become of them. Brask, indignant at the want of courage of which his colleagues had given so many proofs, told them that they were mere dastards, and got just what they deserved. They had also to endure his sarcasms; they had lost everything, money and honor too.

    All these distressed clerks turned now to the primate. Magnus, who had hitherto habitually tried to please Gustavus, changed his course entirely when he saw that the purses of the priests were threatened. He resolved to have done with reserve, to burn his ships, and haughtily to oppose clerical to civil authority ‘Have no fear,’ he said to the bishops assembled about him, ‘I will let the king see my power, and I will compel him to bend before us.’ Without any delay the primate established his court on a very grand scale, and received such of the gentry as were dissatisfied with the king. He clothed himself in purple and gold. He undertook a visitation of his diocese with a following of two hundred persons, partly gentlemen and partly guards. Whenever he entered a church rich carpets were spread under his feet, and when he took his meals he ordered the door to be thrown open to the public as a prince does. Everyone was struck with the pomp, the solemnity, and the state with which he was surrounded, with the number of the dishes and the magnificence of his table, for in all these things he surpassed the king himself. f415 But neither the opposition offered to the ministers of the Gospel, nor the pride and ostentation of the prelate, could stop the advance of the Reformation. Gustavus was convinced that God made man for progress, and that if there is progress for the body, there is the same likewise for the heart and the understanding. In his view the Reformation constituted a great advance in the sphere of religion; and he saw already many nations of Europe, awakened by the Gospel, marching ahead of others. Why should Sweden be left behind? In order to advance, courage and resolution were undoubtedly necessary; but Gustavus was not deficient in either of these qualities.

    The feast of St. Erick, celebrated on the 18th of May, was a great day in Sweden. It was the day on which honors were paid to the memory of King Erick IX. (1155), who had attempted to introduce Christianity in Finland, and had founded for his subjects wise institutions. An annual fair was held at this time at Upsala, to which large numbers of people were attracted.

    The king visited the fair in May 1526, attended by his Chancellor, Lawrence Anderson, and two thousand horsemen. He desired to conciliate the affections of the people, which the priests and the monks were stirring up against him, and to put the haughty archbishop back into his own place. He left his armed men in their quarters, and rode on horseback among the crowd, smiling on the people with a gracious air, which won all hearts. Having reached the top of one of the hills in the neighborhood of Upsala he halted, and assuming for the moment in addition to his royal functions those of a reformer, made a speech, sitting on his steed, to the multitude around him. ‘What is the use of the service in Latin?’ he said; ‘what is the use of the monastic life?’ Many expressed their agreement with these sentiments; but some peasants, who came perhaps from Linkoping, cried out, ‘We mean to keep the monks. They are not to be driven away; we will sooner feed them ourselves.’ The king, waiting for an opportunity which was soon to offer itself, of bringing down the pride of the priests, rode down the hill, returned to the town, and went to the palace of the archbishop, who had prepared a splendid banquet for him, and purposed to display before him all his magnificence. Towards the close of the feast the primate rose, determined to place himself on a level with the king, and holding his glass in his hand turned to Gustavus and said, ‘Our Grace drinks to the health of Your Grace.’ ‘Thy Grace and Our Grace,’ replied Gustavus, coolly, ‘cannot find room under one roof.’ f417 The king then called together the chapter of the cathedral and said, ‘By what right does the Church possess temporal power?’ The archbishop, disconcerted by the answer which the prince had made to him at table, remained silent. Iveran, provost of the cathedral, spoke in his stead, and named the Decretals as the foundation of their rights. The king, not satisfied with this authority, resumed: — ‘Is there in Holy Scripture a single passage which supports your privileges?’ Every one was silent. At length Doctor Galle, who was reputed the foremost theologian of Sweden, said, ‘Sire, the kings your predecessors conferred these privileges on us and maintained them.’ ‘Certainly then,’ replied Gustavus, ‘if kings conferred them, kings may withdraw them. For this purpose it is only necessary for them to recognize the fact that it was for want of knowledge these institutions were founded aforetime to humor superstitious requirements and to promote personal interests.’

    The archbishop and the bishops, seeing so clearly the signs of the storm which was threatening to overthrow them, resolved, in order to control it, to take the initiative, and attack their adversaries. They therefore went in a body to the king, and the archbishop, in the name of them all, required of Gustavus that he should show himself the protector of religion. ‘The version of the New Testament made by Olaf,’ said he, ‘is simply Luther’s version. This is already condemned by the pope as heretical. Let Olaf and his followers, therefore, be brought to trial, as guilty of heresy.’ Gustavus, believing that he could turn this demand of the clergy to account in advancing reform another step, replied, — ‘I consent to a sentence of capital punishment against Olaf and his followers, on condition that they are justly convicted of the crime of heresy of which you accuse them. But I have observed so many beautiful traits in the life and the habits of this minister, that I question whether it is not out of hatred that you accuse him of heresy. Theologians are accustomed,’ he added sternly, ‘to blacken in this way those who do not think as they do.’ f419 The archbishop was much moved by this reply. The imprudent prelate exclaimed, — ‘I take upon myself to convict Olaf of heresy, on the most important points of the faith, and this in the presence of your Majesty and all your ministers.’ Magnus, mistaking his strength, had gone too far.

    Gustavus hastened to take advantage of it. He commanded a conference to be held such as was asked for, entertaining no doubt that it would turn to the triumph of the truth. He invited to it learned men, the members of the Diet, and all the nobles who desired to have the means of judging for themselves of the foundations on which the doctrines rested which were professed either by the adherents of the pope or by those of the Reformation. Olaf declared himself ready. The bishops, on the contrary, shuffled, either because they considered it beneath their dignity to hold a discussion with Olaf, or, as has been said, ‘because they were afraid of exposing themselves in a conflict with a learned and eloquent man.’ At last they chose, as defender of their dogmas, a distinguished divine, Peter Galle, the man who had previously replied to the king at Upsala. f422 The meeting was held in the chapter-house, and the king and the most influential men of his suite were present. Secretaries took their seats at a table for the purpose of taking down the discussion in writing. The champions of Rome and of the Gospel came forward, and the colloquy began. The first question contained within itself all the others. It was, whether the traditions , established by the Fathers and the ancient doctors of the Church must be abolished . Galle admitted that the Christian religion was certainly contained, as Olaf asserted, in the Holy Scriptures. ‘But,’ he said, ‘these Scriptures are difficult to understand, and we must therefore receive the explanation given of them by the ancient Fathers.’ ‘Let us admit the interpretation of the Fathers,’ replied Olaf, ‘when it does not disagree with the written Word; but when the teachings of the Fathers are at variance with those of Scripture, let us reject them. If we do not reject them, we should make no difference between the word of God and the decrees of men.’

    The discussion turned afterwards upon the great doctrine of the Reformation, — Is a man saved by his own merits or by the grace ofGod alone ? Olaf maintained that eternal life is ‘the gift of God ’ ( Romans 6:23), and that Christians are saved by grace ( Ephesians 2:8). Man obtains a reward solely by the grace of God and because Christ has merited it for him . This fundamental doctrine was met with among all nations at the epoch of the Reformation. Galle expected to triumph by maintaining the ecclesiastical princedom of the bishop of Rome, which had existed, he added, for twelve hundred years. ‘The office of a bishop,’ answered Olaf, ‘is not a lordship but a labor. The papacy has not existed for so long a time as you assign to it. Moreover, we have to consider, not the antiquity of an office but its goodness. Satan the tempter of man is very ancient , but it does not follow from this that he is good .’ The discussion continued on other matters in controversy, such as conversion, the Lord’s Supper, and particularly miraculous apparitions which Galle asserted still took place. He instanced those seen by St. Martin, St. Anthony, and Cyrillus, bishop of Jerusalem. ‘Every day new ones are witnessed,’ he added, ‘and so far from despising them, we ought to feel great reverence for them.’ ‘The Church of God,’ replied Olaf, ‘built up on the doctrine of prophets and apostles, has no need of apparitions. The Word of God is sufficient to impart the knowledge of salvation. But man who is a liar delights himself in these fallacious novelties because he has no relish for the Word of God. Holy Scripture forbids us to seek after the truth at the hands of the dead.’ In support of his proposition he quoted Deuteronomy 19:9; Leviticus 20:6; Isaiah 8:19; and Luke 16:27.

    The two combatants had displayed at first great moderation; but they gradually got excited and, forgetting the respect due to an assembly so august as that which was listening to them, they began to use, according to the practice of the age, rather strong expressions. The king declared the discussion to be ended, pronounced victory to remain with the evangelical doctor, and gave command that the proceedings of the disputation should be drawn up and published, in order that religious men might be able to judge on which side the truth lay. f427 This colloquy of 1526, notwithstanding, its great importance, was far from re-establishing unity. The partisans of the Roman Church regretted that they had allowed themselves to be drawn into it. Bishop Brask accused the archbishop of weakness, and severely blamed him for having authorized the disputation. ‘The Catholic faith,’ he wrote to him, ‘is beyond objection altogether, nor is it permissible to subject it to examination. You will never be able to justify yourself before the pope.’

    This fierce champion of the papacy was constantly repeating to those about him that ‘it was to the bishops and the doctors of the Church that Christ entrusted the interpretation of Holy Scripture; and that Olaf must be taken to Rome, not for the purpose of convincing him and those like him, but to have them put to death by fire or by sword.’ f429 These sayings provoked the friends of the Reformation. What! the laity must receive blindly the teaching of the priests! Did not St. Paul write to all the Christians of Thessalonica, — Prove all things ; and to those of Corinth, — I speak as to wise men , judge ye what I say ? But the reformed did not always proceed in a prudent manner. As pastors were sought for in all quarters, many young men left Upsala before they had gained the knowledge and the discretion which were needed. They preached justification by grace; but some of them did not sufficiently insist on the point that faith which does not produce works is dead; and when they spoke of the priests and the pope they made use of unguarded expressions. Gustavus frequently rebuked them, and Olaf published a work for their guidance. Occasionally, without being expected, he went to the churches, and after sermon affectionately pointed out to these young ministers the faults which had struck him, and counseled them to avoid provoking their opponents causelessly.

    But nothing could soothe the ruffled temper of the enemies of Reform.

    The archbishop, who had once more become a real Roman Catholic (un vrai Romain ), was continually stirring up his subordinates against the king. Brask did the same, and other prelates went greater lengths. The bishop and the provost of Westeraas, Sunnanwaeder, and Knut, instigated the peasants of Dalecarlia to revolt; and the latter, with threats, demanded of the king the banishment of the Lutheran faith from the kingdom.

    Gustavus reminded them of the calamities which the Roman clergy had brought on Sweden, adding that it was the duty of a king to shake off a yoke so burdensome. But the Dalecarlians, who were easily excited, were rude mountaineers who feared neither heat nor cold, were skilled in handling arms, and were equally content with sword and plough, peace and war, life and death. In 1526 they refused to pay the taxes, and in a short time they did more.

    At the beginning of 1527, there appeared in the remotest parishes of their country a young man calling himself Nils Sture, who stated that he was the eldest son of the deceased administrator, and that he had left Stockholm in order to escape from a heretical prince, who could not endure at his court the presence of the legitimate heir of the kingdom. ‘As soon as Gustavus perceived me,’ he added, ‘he cast a fierce glance at me, drew his sword, and attempted to take away my life. Is this the recompense due to the merits of my father, who lost his life to save Sweden?’ Saying these words he burst into tears, fell on his knees, and begged the good peasants who stood round him to say with him a pater-noster to deliver the soul of the prince his father out of purgatory. The young man was handsome in person, and could speak well, so that the Dalecarlians as they listened to him mingled their tears with his. To his pathetic appeals he added terrible accusations. ‘Gustavus,’ said he, ‘has not only laid aside the national dress, but he intends also to compel the Swedes to dress in the new fashion.’ This the Dalecarlians would have esteemed a disgrace. The pretended Nils Sture had soon a large following, for the Romish system was greatly reverenced, and the name of Sture was held in high honor among the Dalecarlians. The archbishop of Drontheim declared in his favor, and the partisans of Rome hailed the young man as a Maccabaeus who was going to raise up again the altars of the true God. The pretender surrounded himself with a bodyguard, formed a court, elected a chancellor, and coined money. This person, the hope of the sinking papacy, was in reality a farm servant from Bjoerksta in Westmanland, an illegitimate son of a female servant. He had served in several families of the gentry, and thus acquired a certain skillfulness. He was trained for the part he had to play by Peder Grym, a man who was formerly in the service of Sten Sture, and who had become the confidential attendant of bishop Sunnanwaeder. In spite of his cleverness he was soon detected. The Dalecarlians received one day a letter from the princess, the widow of the administrator, in which she put them on their guard against this impostor, and informed them that she had lost her eldest son. The unlucky fellow made his escape into Norway, and was there received as a prince by the archbishop of Drontheim.

    Anxious to dispel the calumnies circulated against him by the bishops, of which other impostors might make use, the king published a declaration, in which he laid down the end which he had set before himself. ‘We mean to have,’ he said, ‘the true religion, agreeable to the Word of God. Now there is no other but that which Christ and the apostles taught. On this point all are agreed. Controversy is maintained only about certain practices invented by men, and particularly respecting the immunity of prelates. We demand the abolition of useless rites, and we strive, as all Christians ought to do, to lay hold on eternal life. But the prelates who observe this, and who care only for their own bellies, accuse us of introducing a new religion. We earnestly exhort you to give no credit to this calumny.’ f433 Gustavus, aware that the archbishop was one of those who were circulating the reports in question, summoned him to Stockholm. Magnus went, in serious apprehension of what might happen. As soon, indeed, as he perceived the stern look of Gustavus, he was confused, his countenance changed, and he remained silent. The king told him some plain truths, and reminded him of proceedings which filled him with shame. ‘Your calling,’ continued the prince, ‘is to teach the Gospel, and not to talk big and play the grandee.’ The archbishop promised to do what the king wished. It appears that Gustavus ordered him to be confined for some days in a convent at Stockholm, in order to ascertain whether, as some asserted, Magnus had joined in the conspiracy of Sunnanwaeder and Knut. But he soon set him at liberty; and the king, intending to marry a Polish princess, entrusted him with a mission to Poland. The archbishop set out; but instead of going to Poland, he betook himself to Rome, and never returned to Sweden.

    Gustavus believed that the time was now come to complete his work. He wished to deliver the kingdom out of the state of strife in which it was plunged. Many members of the Diet and officers of the army urged him to get himself crowned, but he did not care for a name and a crown without the reality which they symbolize. The substance of kingly power was really in the hands of the clergy. The bishops had made themselves masters of the principal fortresses, had usurped a part of the rights of the monarch, and were in possession of wealth surpassing that of the State.

    Gustavus now opened his mind to his clever, eloquent, and bold chancellor, Lawrence Anderson. The latter had discerned the numerous evils brought upon the Church and the State by the temporal power and possessions of the clergy. He reminded the prince of the statement that in the primitive Church the faithful distributed their property to one another according as each had need, and that the apostles declared by the mouths of St. Peter and St. John that they had neither silver nor gold. Anderson, holding the same faith as Luther, frequently conversed with Gustavus about the principles advanced in Germany by that admirable doctor, and urged that this wholesome doctrine should be substituted for the horrible maxims of the priests.

    Gustavus understood him, and formed the purpose of withdrawing resolutely from the foreign domination of Rome, which had cost Scandinavia so much generous blood. He loved the evangelical doctrine; but we are obliged to confess that policy had a good deal to do with his resolution. The priest had invaded the rights of the crown, and he undertook to raconteur them. This conquest was juster and more legitimate than that of the Alexanders and the Caesars. For the accomplishment of the great work of religious renovation he relied upon Olaf and Lawrence Petri and Anderson. The Romish party immediately began to spread abroad the most abusive reports respecting these three persons. The chancellor, they said, intends to destroy the churches and the convents, and to introduce a new faith; and the two Petri to whom he entrusts the work are heretics and scoundrels. f434 The king, seeing what a commotion the priests were exciting in the kingdom, determined to call together the assemblies. He convoked the States of the kingdom at Westeraas, for St. John’s Day, June 24, 1527.

    The clergy on hearing of this measure were filled with fear, and Brask, at an interview which he had with his friend Thure Joensson, marshal of the kingdom, exclaimed, ‘How glad I am that I have but a little while to live!’

    The ecclesiastical members of the Diet at first hesitated to go to Westeraas; but many of them, and among others Brask, determined to go in the hope that by their presence they might to some extent prevent the great evils which they foresaw. The king himself arrived, accompanied by a numerous and imposing court. It was a long time since there had been any Diet of so important a character. Besides the ecclesiastics, there were one hundred and twenty-nine nobles; every town sent its burgomaster and a councilor, and every district sent six peasants.

    Gustavus had resolved in his own mind that this Diet should emancipate Sweden from the yoke of the priests, which had weighed on the people for centuries, and restore the laity to their own place. For effecting so salutary a revolution a resolute heart and a strong will were needed. Now, he possessed both. It was his intention to open the Diet with a grand banquet on the 23rd of June, and to this the members of the States had been invited. They all vied with each other in praising the courtesy of the king, who at the outset thus received them at his table. Gustavus entered the banquet-hall, and went toward the place where his cover was laid. Then the bishops came forward according to custom; for they used to take the highest places after the king, and in his absence they even took precedence of his representative. But now Gustavus, turning to his ministers of state, his councilors, and the grandees of the kingdom, invited them to sit near him, and next to them the bishops, afterwards the nobles, then the canons and other ecclesiastics who usually preceded the nobility, and last the burgesses and the peasants. This precedence assigned to the laity caused a lively sensation in the whole assembly. The bishops thus held back, overpowered with surprise, turned pale, and revealed in the expression of their countenances the bitterness of their souls. Nevertheless, they were speechless; and through fear of Gustavus they drank this cup. Many of them would fain have withdrawn, but the imposing presence of the king detained them, and they silently took their seats in those lower places which they looked upon as the greatest disgrace they had ever suffered.

    The king, observing the expression of their faces, addressed them. Hitherto their lips had remained closed, but by the king’s words they were opened; they showed that their usual place was on each side of him, and claimed to take it. Gustavus explained the reasons which had induced him to give the highest rank to his ministers. Up to this time the Church had lorded it over the State; now the State was freed. Henceforth Sweden rendered unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s. Order had been deranged, but now everyone was restored to his own place.

    GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - WORKS OF CALVIN INDEX & SEARCH

    God Rules.NET
    Search 80+ volumes of books at one time. Nave's Topical Bible Search Engine. Easton's Bible Dictionary Search Engine. Systematic Theology Search Engine.