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HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION - ‘CESAROPAPIE.’
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(1528 — 1546.)
IN pursuance of the resolutions of Westeraas, the Reformation had been introduced in every part of the kingdom. But there was a large number of Swedes who still closed their eyes to the light which had arisen upon their native land. Many of the priests who retained their posts retained with them the Romish dogmas; and, taking their stand between their parishioners and the Gospel, persuaded them that any change in the services of the Church was an apostasy from Christianity. The kingdom thus presented the spectacle of a grotesque medley of evangelical doctrines and Romish rites. Exorcism was practiced in connection with baptism, and when the dead were buried, prayers were made for their deliverance out of purgatory. The king, therefore, determined to convoke a synod, which should be authorized to complete the work of reformation, to abolish the superstitious services of Rome, to set aside the Pope, and to establish the Holy Scriptures as the sole authority in matters of religion. f451 The assembly met at the beginning of January, 1529, at Orebro, the birthplace of Olaf and his brother, near the street in which their father used to work at the forge. The bishops of Strengnaes, Westeraas, and Skara, and ecclesiastics from every diocese of Sweden came to the meeting. The archdeacon and chancellor, Lawrence Anderson, was the king’s delegate, and presided on the occasion. Olaf sat beside him as his counselor.
Gustavus had consulted his two representatives as to the manner in which the assembly ought to be conducted. Olaf’s keen intellect, his presence of mind, and the ease with which he could fathom deep subjects, and give a luminous exposition of them qualified him well for such an office. But the very liveliness with which he had grasped the truth, the importance which he attached to a sincere reform, and his frequent intercourse with Luther, did not render him tolerant towards error. He could not endure contradiction. The king had good reason to fear that Olaf did not altogether share his views. In fact, Gustavus looked upon matters of religion from a political point of view. He was afraid of everything which might possibly occasion disputes and schism; and if he was severe towards the guilty, he was merciful to the simple and the weak, and he did not wish to have these estranged or possibly driven to revolt by an abrupt alteration of the old ecclesiastical rites. He had therefore come to an understanding with his two delegates; and Olaf, remembering the Scripture saying, We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, ( Romans 15:1) had entered, partly at least, into the views of the prince. The chancellor, who was a politician as well as a religious man, had done so much more fully.
These two reformers were, however, determined to do a really evangelical work, and they resolved, therefore, to lay a solid foundation. At the moment of their rejection of the Chair of St. Peter, from which strange dogmas were promulgated by a man, they set up another, the throne of God, from which a heavenly word proceeded. Luther had said that we must look upon the Scriptures as God Himself speaking . While recognizing the secondary author who imprints on each book the characteristics of his own individuality, Olaf also recognized above all the primary author, the Holy Spirit, who stamps on the whole of the Scriptures the impress of His own infallibility. The main point in his view was that the divine element, the constitutive principle of the Bible, should be acknowledged by all Christians, so that they might be truly taught of God . He attained his object. All the members of the assembly made the following solemn declaration: ‘We acknowledge that it is our duty to preach the pure Word of God, and to strive with all our powers that the will of God revealed in His Word may be made plain to our hearers . f453 We promise to see to it that in future this object is attained by means of preaching established in the churches both in towns and in country places.’ It was resolved that Holy Scripture should be daily read and explained in the churches, at which not only the students, but also the young country pastors should be present. Readings of a similar kind were to be given in the schools. Every student was to be provided with a Bible, or at least with a New Testament. Well-informed ministers were to be settled in the towns, and the pastors of the rural districts should be bound to attend their discourses, to the end that they might increase in the understanding of the Divine Word. The pastors of the towns were also required to go into the villages, and there faithfully preach the Word of God. It was stipulated that, if the more learned ministers should find anything to censure in the sermons of those less enlightened, to avoid scandals they should not point out the faults in their public discourses, but should modestly and privately represent them to their colleagues. f454 The assembly agreed in acknowledging that the numerous saints’ days were a cause of disorder and prevented necessary labor. The festivals were therefore reduced to a small number. It was added, ‘that simple folk must be distinctly taught that even the keeping of Christ’s passion and resurrection has no other object but to impress on the memory the work of Christ who died for us and rose again.’ f455 It has been said that ‘the doctors who composed this council acknowledged as their rule of faith the Confession of Augsburg.’ This is not correct; for that Confession did not appear till ten months later (June, 1530). We may imagine that Olaf of his own accord would have presented a similar confession, or one even more decided. This was not done, either because the doctrines established by Olaf at Upsala, in 1526, were looked upon as accepted, or because Gustavus was afraid that such a confession would give rise to dissension, which he so much dreaded. Little was gained by this course; for the struggles which they hoped to avoid began afterwards and disturbed Sweden for five-and-twenty years.
At length they came to the subject of ecclesiastical rites. Anderson and Olaf would have preferred to suppress those to which superstitious notions were attached. But most of the members of the synod thought that to abolish them would be to suppress the religion of their forefathers.
Anderson and Olaf got over the difficulty. They determined to maintain such of the ceremonies as had not a meaning contrary to the Word of God, at the same time giving an explanation of them. ‘We consent to your keeping holy water (eau lustrale ),’ they said, ‘but it must be plainly understood that it does not wash away our sins, which the blood of Christ alone does, and that it simply reminds of baptism. You wish to keep the images , and we will not oppose this; but you must state distinctly that they are not there to be worshipped, but to remind of Christ or of the holy men who have obeyed Him, and of the necessity of imitating their piety and their life. The outward unction of the chrism denotes that the inward unction of the Holy Ghost is necessary for the faithful. Fasting is kept up that the faithful soul may renounce that which gratifies the flesh, and render to God a living worship in the spirit. Festivals likewise are not a kind of special service. They only instruct us that we ought to set apart the time necessary for hearing and reading the Word of God, and for enabling workmen wearied with their toil to taste some repose.’
These concessions were made from a good motive; but were they prudent?
The Romish mind, especially when uncultivated, easily lets go the spiritual signification and keeps only the superstitious notions which are attached to the sign. It would have been better to abolish everything that was of Romish invention and without foundation in Scripture. This was seen at a later period.
On Quinquagesima Sunday, February 7, 1529, the ecclesiastics present signed this ‘Form of Reformation.’ The articles received the royal sanction, and henceforth the Reformation was virtually established in the kingdom; but it was not universal. In some districts opposition was strong. Two evangelical ministers having been sent to preach and teach in the cathedral church of Skara, no sooner had one of them entered the pulpit than the people rose up and drove them away. The second having established himself in the school, while preparing to expound the Gospel according to St. Matthew, was assailed with stones and obliged to abandon the place. These weapons, although not very spiritual, produced some effect. Similar occurrences were taking place in the provinces of Smaland and West Gothland. Even in those places where evangelical ministers were received or reforms effected, murmuring and grief were frequently found amongst the women. Mothers were in a state of sharp distress about the salvation of their children. As the ministers had not exorcised them, the mothers believed that they had not been properly baptized and really regenerated; and they wept as they gazed upon the little creatures in their cradles. Other women could not be comforted because prayers for the dead had been abolished. If they lost any beloved one, they suffered cruel anxiety and sighed to think of him day and night as still in the fires of purgatory. So easy it is to plant in the human heart a superstition which is not easily to be eradicated. f458 But if there was discontent on one side, there was just as much on the other. Olaf, in spite of his peremptory disposition, had made large concessions, either in pursuance of the king’s orders, or because, knowing the character of his people, he considered (as everyone, moreover, asserted) that if the Reformation suddenly appeared in its purity and brightness it would terrify the timid, while if its progress were comparatively slow, men would become accustomed to it and scandals would be avoided. On returning to Stockholm, he found that serious discontent prevailed, not at the court, but in the town. The most decided of the evangelicals, especially the Germans, gave him a very unfriendly reception. They reminded him angrily of his concessions. ‘You have been unfaithful to the Gospel. You have behaved like a coward.’ ‘Take care,’ replied Olaf, ‘lest by your sayings you stir up the people to revolt. Here in our country we must deal gently with people and our advance must be slow.’ He did not, however, remain inactive, but strove to dispel the darkness which he had felt bound to tolerate. He composed for the use of ministers a manual of worship, from which he excluded such of the Romish rites as appeared to him useless or injurious. He published afterwards other works, particularly on the Lord’s Supper and on justification by faith. ‘It is altogether the grace of God which justifies us,’ he said. ‘The Son of God, manifested in the flesh, has taken away from us, who were undone by sin, infinite wrath which hung over us, and has procured by His merits infinite grace for all those who believe. The elect in Christ are children of God by reason of the redemption of Him who was willing to become our brother.’ f461 But the king himself intervened in the dispute. He wrote to his servants not to display overmuch zeal. ‘Little improvement is to be hoped for,’ he said, ‘so long as the people are no better informed.’ Acting in harmony with his convictions, he undertook the restoration of the schools, which were in a very bad condition. To Olaf he gave the superintendence of those at Stockholm, and as the rector was dead he entrusted the seals to him. He urged him to attend above all to the training of good masters. Olaf applied himself to this work with heart and soul, and drew up a plan of studies which was approved by the king. He taught personally, and succeeded in engaging the interest of his young hearers in so pleasant a manner that they heartily loved him. He presented the most conscientious and diligent pupils to the king, who provided for the continuation of their studies. He did not allow them to leave the gymnasium for the university until they were well grounded in all branches of knowledge, and especially in the knowledge of religion. f462 The principles of the Reformation were thus gaining ground, and the transformation of the Church became more visible. There were conversions, some gradual, and others more sudden. The prior, Nicholas Anderson, having become acquainted with evangelical truth, at once left the monastery of Westeraas, and became dean of the church of the same place. The monks of Arboga also went out of their convent and became pastors in the country. They changed not only their dress, but their morals and way of living. Some shadows gray and dark were undoubtedly still to be seen; but we must acknowledge the life where it really exists. The inhabitants turned the convent into a Gospel church. In many places were seen ex-priests or monks devoting themselves joyfully to the ministry of the Word of God, ‘purified,’ they said, ‘from papistical pollutions,’ a sordibus papisticis repurgatum . The reading of the New Testament, biblical expositions, and the prayers of the reformer overcame obstacles which had appeared to be insurmountable. The Finlanders themselves, perceiving that ‘the truth was so vigorously springing up,’ opened their hearts to it.
To Olaf she gave courage to prefer her behests to the opinion of those whom he most highly esteemed; while Lawrence obeyed her secret voice especially in the discharge of his daily duties. He fulfilled his functions with great punctuality. The charity which breathed in all his actions and all his words won the hearts of men. He made his students acquainted with the Bible; he taught them to preach in conformity with Scripture, and not after the traditions of men. But notwithstanding the rare nobleness and candor of his character, the enemies of the Gospel hated him. Gustavus who, in 1527, had given him a proof of his satisfaction by naming him perpetual rector of the university, was now about to confer on him a still higher dignity.
Archbishop Magnus had vacated his archiepiscopal see; it was therefore necessary to fill it up. The king consequently called together at Stockholm, on St. John’s Day, 1531, a large number of ecclesiastics. The chancellor Anderson requested the assembly to take into its consideration the choice of a new archbishop, imposing at the same time the condition that he should be a man thoroughly established in evangelical doctrine. The assembly pointed out three candidates — Sommer, bishop of Strengnaes; Doctor Johan, dean of Upsala; and Lawrence Petersen. It then proceeded with the definitive election, and, on the suggestion, as it seems, of Gustavus, Lawrence obtained one hundred and fifty votes, and was therefore elected. The king testified his complete satisfaction with the result. The question might be asked, how was it that their choice did not fall on Olaf, who was the principal reformer? The assembly, doubtless, was unwilling to remove him from the capital. Lawrence’s long residence at Upsala qualified him for this high dignity; and perhaps the Scripture saying, ‘A bishop must be temperate,’ caused the preference to be given to his brother. The king handed to Lawrence a costly episcopal crosier, saying to him, ‘Be a faithful shepherd of your flock.’ The old proverb, ‘Wooden crosier, golden bishop; golden crosier, wooden bishop,’ was not to be applicable in this case.
The new archbishop was about to exercise, ere long, important functions.
The king, desirous of founding a dynasty, had sought the hand of Catherine, daughter of the duke of Saxe-Lauenburg. Lawrence married the royal couple, and placed on the head of the wife the crown of Sweden. He did this with a dignity and a grace befitting the solemnity. At table the archbishop was called to take the place of honor which belonged to him.
While at court, he was respectfully treated by the king; but the canons of Upsala, who were also present at the feast, and who, as passionate adherents of the pope, had been bitterly grieved to see an evangelical archbishop elected, were provoked at the honors which were paid him.
They called their new head a heretic, treated him as an enemy, and seized every opportunity of showing their contempt for him. The son of an ironmaster of Orebro to hold the highest place next to the king in Sweden!
They ought to have remembered that many of the popes had been of still lower origin. The king was going to do a deed which would make their annoyance sharper still. In the household of Gustavus was a noble damsel, whose grandmother was a Vasa. When the marriage feast was over, the king and the queen rose, all the company did the same, and Gustavus then, in the presence of his whole court, betrothed the archbishop to his kinswoman. Never could a greater honor be conferred on the primate of Sweden. f465 The canons of Upsala, far from being pacified, were still more inflamed with anger and hatred. They saw that the power of the pope in Sweden was at an end; and fancying that if they ruined the archbishop they should ruin the Reformation, they assailed him with their blows. They accused him of horrible crimes; they stirred up the people against him; and they formed the most frightful conspiracies. Fears were entertained for his life; a fanatic’s dagger might any day make an end of him. The king therefore assigned him a guard of fifty men to protect him from assassins. He did more than this; he removed the canons who had never been anything but idle clerks, and had displayed a temper so intractable; and he put in their place learned and laborious men who were devoted to the Gospel. f466 The evangelical archbishop was not the only man in Sweden whose life was threatened; the king was threatened also. The Hanse towns, with Lubeck at their head, desirous of regaining the influence which they had so long held in the North, allied themselves for this purpose with Denmark, and opened a correspondence with the Germans who were very numerous at Stockholm. The powerful Hanseatic fleet was thus to find in the very capital of its enemies trusty agents who pledged themselves to deliver up to it the town. But the scheme was detected; and Gustavus, who never hesitated when the business was to strike those who intended to strike himself, ordered the Germans and the Swedes who had taken part in the treacherous designs of the Hanseatics to be put to death. These events created great excitement throughout Sweden, especially at Stockholm. It was given out that the Germans had intended to bring gunpowder into the church and place it under the king’s seat, and then explode it during divine service. It was a Gunpowder Plot ; but in this case the king was to be attacked, not while discharging his political functions, but at the moment when he was offering to God the worship in spirit and in truth which the Gospel requires. This story, however, might be nothing more than one of those reports which circulate among the public, without any other foundation than the general blind excitement which gives birth to the wildest rumors. These events occurred in the year 1536. f467 Gustavus, having escaped the dangers with which his enemies threatened him, went forward in his work with a firmer step. Endowed with a peremptory and energetic character, he even took some steps of too bold a kind, and seemed to aim at commanding the Church as he would an army.
After the Diet of Westeraas, he had not only taken their castles from the prelates, which was a quite legitimate measure, but he had further taken the Church with the castles, and had confiscated the ecclesiastical foundations for the benefit of the crown; while the reformers had hoped to see their revenues applied to the establishment of schools and other useful institutions. Evangelical Christians were asking one another whether they had cast off the yoke of the pope in order to take up that of the king. It seemed to be the intention of Gustavus to defer indefinitely the complete reformation of Sweden. After the council of Orebro, Olaf had entered upon the prudential course which the king insisted on; but it appeared to him that he must now courageously advance in the paths of truth and freedom.
In his judgment, the work of the Reformation would be undone if it were allowed to crystallize in the midst of branches, images, holy water, and tapers. The young preachers supported him, and earnestly called for the suppression of those rites the plainest effect of which was to keep up superstition among the people. Some of them even uttered complaints from the pulpit that the royal authority obliged them to do or to tolerate acts contrary to their consciences.
This gave rise to extreme coolness between Olaf and the king; and ere long the confidential and affectionate intercourse which had united them was succeeded by a certain uneasiness and even actual hostility. Gustavus, having been informed of the discourses delivered by young ministers who had only just left the schools, was offended. He saw in the fact a spirit of rebellion, and he sharply rebuked Olaf, who, to his knowledge, sympathized with these desires for a complete reformation. He said to Olaf, — ‘The young ministers scandalize simple folk by the imprudence which leads them to aim at the abolition of the ancient usages of the Church; and I think further that they have cherished the purpose of giving a lesson to me and my government.’ The prince, far from taking a lesson from another, gave one, and that sharply, to the first preacher of the capital.
These two men were both of a noble nature. In each were greatness, devotedness, activity, and a strong love of good. But each had also a fault which laid them open to the risk of a rude collision with each other; and one shock of this kind might overthrow the weaker. Gustavus would dictate as law whatever seemed to him good and wise, and he did not intend to allow any resistance. He placed great confidence in any man who showed himself worthy of it; and of this he had given striking proofs to the two brothers Petri. He did not easily withdraw his favor; but once withdrawn, it was impossible to regain it.
Olaf, on his side, endowed with a spirit of integrity and with a sincere and living faith, had a vivacity of temperament which prevented him from pondering the path of ’ his feet . He could not endure contradiction, he could hardly forget an offense, and he was too prone to attribute malevolent motives to his adversaries. He not only believed that the king intended to destroy the liberty of the Church (which was the fact), but also that his obstinate maintenance of Romish customs among the people would throw them back again into the Romish apostasy. He began loudly to complain of Gustavus. He said to all about him that the king was completely changed, and certainly for the worse. He did not refrain from speaking in this manner even in the presence of flatterers of Gustavus. The enemies of the reformer hastened to take advantage of this. They reported to the king what they had heard Olaf say, adding to it exaggerations of their own invention. Their one object was to stir up hatred, and that implacable, between the king and the reformer. They did not gain their end at the first stroke; but a change was gradually wrought in the relations between these two men, both so necessary to Sweden. The king manifested to Olaf his unconcern by his manner and his words. He saw him much less frequently; and when he did send for him, there was a reserve in his reception which struck the reformer. Frequently when Olaf requested to see the king, the latter refused to admit him; or if he did receive him, business was dispatched as speedily as possible, as if his only care was to get rid of him. This coolness, while it greatly grieved the sincere friends of the Gospel, rejoiced its adversaries; and on both sides people were wondering, some with a sense of alarm, others with secret but deep joy, whether Gustavus in thus gradually estranging himself from the reformer was not at the same time making friends with the pope, and whether a few steps more would not precipitate him into the abyss.
Olaf himself, who while complaining of Gustavus had nevertheless up to this time entertained no doubt of his good intentions, now took offense, and resolved to avail himself of his rights as a minister of the Word of God. Ought he to conceal the truth because it was to a prince that it must be spoken? Did not Elijah rebuke Ahab, and John the Baptist Herod? The feeling which blinded him did not allow him to apprehend the important difference existing between a Gustavus and an Ahab. An obvious fault of the king had often struck him. The habit of swearing in a fit of anger was very common at the court and in the town, and Gustavus set the example.
Olaf, pained to hear the name of God thus taken in vain, preached against the sin. He did not hesitate, at the close of his sermon, to designate the king as setting the example of swearing. He even had his discourse printed; and letting loose his displeasure, he complained loudly of the obstacles which the king placed in the way of a thorough reformation. The young pastors, encouraged by the example of their chief, went further than he did. They complained of the commands which the king had given them, and gave free vent to their indignation against a despotism which was, in their view, an attempt to violate the rights of the Word of God and of Christian freedom.
It was a serious matter, and Gustavus was much moved by it. He resolved to appeal to the archbishop. The primate, more temperate than his brother, confined himself to the duties of his calling. He was never seen either in places of amusement or at the court, which his predecessors used frequently to visit; but he was always at work in his diocese. In consequence of the death of the queen, he had gone at the king’s call to Stockholm, to marry him to his second wife, and had immediately returned to Upsala to devote himself to his work. Gustavus esteemed Lawrence; but he was, nevertheless, somewhat out of temper with him, because he knew that at bottom he shared his brother’s sentiments. To him, in his capacity of archbishop, the king addressed his mandate, in September 1539. ‘We had expected of you and of your brother,’ said Gustavus, ‘more moderation and more assistance in matters of religion. True, I do not know how a sermon ought to be composed, but; still I will tell you that preachers ought to confine themselves to setting forth the essence of religion without setting themselves up against ancient customs. You wrote me word that sermons were being preached at Upsala on brotherly love, on the life acceptable to God, on patience in affliction, and on other Christian virtues. Very good: see to it that similar sermons are preached throughout the kingdom. Christ and Paul taught obedience to the higher powers; but from the pulpits of Sweden are too often heard declamations against tyranny, and insulting language against the authorities. I am accused, abuses which are complained of are imputed to me, and these insults are published by the press. Holy Scripture teaches us that a minister ought to exhort his hearers to seek after sanctification. If people had any real grounds of complaint against my government, why not make them known to me privately instead of publishing them before the whole congregation?’ f470 This letter, addressed to the archbishop of Upsala, instead of soothing the Stockholm minister, irritated him and inflamed still more his ardent zeal. A circumstance which had little connection with the religious interests of Sweden, convinced him that the time was come to denounce the judgments of God. Olaf, in common with some of the most enlightened men of his time, among others Melanchthon, believed in astrological predictions.
Seven or eight mock suns, reflecting in the clouds the image of the sun, appeared over Stockholm at this time. The sun was of course Gustavus, and the mock-suns were so many pretenders who were on the point of appearing around the king, one or other of whom would take his place. ‘It is a token of God’s anger and of the chastisement which is at hand,’ exclaimed Olaf in his pulpit. ‘Punishment must come, for the powers that be have fallen into error.’ The unfortunate Olaf did more. Exasperated by the part which the king was taking in the government of the Church, he caused these mock-suns to be painted on a canvas, and this he hung up in the church, in order that all might satisfy themselves that God condemned the government and that His judgments were near. This proceeding was even more ridiculous than blameworthy, but it was both. It took place, undoubtedly, after the king in his capacity of Summus Episcopus had addressed the letter to the archbishop; for although he spoke in it of the sermons on swearing, there is no reference to that on the mock-suns, which was, moreover, by far the most serious affair.
The anger of Gustavus against Olaf was now at its height. His enemies gladly seized the weapon with which by his mistakes he furnished them against himself; and already they insulted him with their looks. A storm was gathering against the reformer; and Anderson, whose elevation and influence had made many jealous, was to fall with his friend. These two personages being manifestly in disgrace, the number of those who contributed to their ruin was daily increasing; and it seemed as though nothing short of the death of the objects of their hatred could satisfy them.
All this would have been without effect if Gustavus had continued to protect the liberty of the reformers. But he thought (this is at least our opinion) that he might take advantage of the animosity existing between the two parties for maintaining his own universal and absolute authority.
Olaf was blinded by excess of zeal, and Anderson did not sufficiently subordinate the interests of religion to those of politics. A sharp lesson must be given to each of them. Olaf was accused of having delivered seditious sermons, and of having censured in a historical work the ancestors of the king. This was not enough.
Some still more serious charge must be made. For this they went back four years (1536), and it was given out that the project, formed by the German inhabitants of Stockholm, of favoring the attack by the Hanse Towns had been confided to Olaf under the seal of confession — this institution was still in existence — and that he had not made it known. Even if this supposition had any foundation, was it not truer still that the hostility of the Germans was universally known, and especially by the vigilant Gustavus? But, in fact, there was little more in the case than rumors, no attempt whatever at execution of the plan having ever been made. To suppose that Olaf had intended to injure the king, his own benefactor and the savior of Sweden, is a senseless hypothesis. Many other persons in Stockholm had learnt as much of the matter and more than he had. But the enemies of the Reformation wanted to get rid of the reformer; they must have some pretext, and this appeared to be sufficient. People asked, indeed, why Olaf had not been prosecuted for this offense four years before, and why since that time no inquiry had been set on foot about it.
But all improbabilities were passed over. All the passions of men combined against Olaf. Men of lower degree felt the hatred of envy caused by the elevation of the son of the ironmaster of Orebro. The great felt the hatred of pride, a hatred which is seldom appeased. Worldly and bad men, such as were not wanting at the court, felt that irreconcilable hatred which is cherished against those who declare war on vice and worldliness. The king commanded that Olaf as well as Anderson should be brought to trial.
The writer who recounts, in a not very authentic manner, the alleged offense of the reformers, was a zealous Roman Catholic, and besides this a very credulous man. The archives of Lubeck, the town which played the leading part in the attack of which it was alleged that Olaf was all accomplice, are very complete for the history of this period; but they do not contain the slightest trace of any proceeding of the kind. Men of peremptory character resemble each other; and, although Gustavus Vasa was infinitely superior to Henry VIII., the proceedings against Olaf and Anderson remind us of those instituted by the king of England against his wives, his most devoted ministers, and his best friends. The same court influences, and the same pliability on the part of the judges were found in both cases; and, by a stroke which recalled the Tudor sovereign, the king insisted that the archbishop should sit as a judge at the trial of his brother.
Olaf and Anderson were condemned to death in the spring of 1540. This was paying rather dear for the folly of the mock-suns. ‘Simplicity,’ it is said, ‘is better than jesting;’ and a simple and credulous proceeding often disarms the man who has a right to complain of it. Olaf had been simple and credulous, but his foolishness did not disarm the king.
The sentence which filled the ultramontanes with joy threw consternation among the evangelical Christians, and especially among the parishioners of Olaf. The man who had so often consoled and exhorted them was to be smitten like a criminal. They could not bear to think of it. They remembered all the services which he had rendered them, and, what does not often happen in this world, they were grateful. They therefore bestirred themselves, interceded in behalf of their pastor, and offered to pay a ransom for his life. The king did not push matters to extremities, but granted a pardon. Perhaps his only intention had been to inspire fear in those who assumed to set limits to his power. The townsmen of Stockholm paid for their pastor fifty Hungarian florins. Anderson also saved his life, but by a payment out of his own purse. These pecuniary penalties contributed to keep people in mind that the king was not to be contradicted.
But he appears to have thought that strong measures were necessary for the purpose of maintaining himself on the throne to which he had been elevated. It was part of his system to strike and to strike hard.
Olaf subsequently resumed his functions as preacher at the cathedral. Was not the permission to reappear in the pulpit an acknowledgment of his innocence? On this occasion he delivered an affecting discourse by which the whole congregation was moved. He understood the lesson which Gustavus had given him, and acknowledged that henceforth resistance to the king’s authority in the church was useless. This resistance might sometimes have been not very intelligent, but it was always sincere and well meant. He could not begin again either to preach the Gospel or to reform Sweden unless he submitted. This, therefore, he did. Before everything the Gospel must advance. The king did not conceal his intention of governing the Church as well as the State. He said to his subjects, — ‘Take care of your houses, Your fields, your pastures, your wives and your children, but set no bounds to our authority either in the government or in religion. It belongs to us on the part of God, according to the principles of justice and all the laws of nature, as a Christian king to give you rules and commandments; so that if you do not wish to suffer our chastisement and our wrath, you must obey our royal commands in things spiritual as well as in things temporal.’ Olaf had learnt by experience that the wrath of a king is as the roaring of a lion . He had paid his debt to the liberty of the Church. Henceforth he bowed his head; he gave himself wholly up to his ministry; to instruct, to console, to confirm, to guide, these tasks were his life, and in the discharge of his duty he won high esteem. As for Anderson, he never recovered from the blow which had fallen upon him. This fine genius was extinguished. He who had done so much towards giving a durable life to the Church and to the State went slowly down to the grave, overwhelmed with sorrow. A strange drama, in which the actors, all in the main honest, all friends of justice, were carried away by diverse passions, the passion for power and the passion for liberty, and inflicted on each other terrible blows, instead of advancing together in peace towards the goal which both alike had in view.
Gustavus had won the victory. Olaf was not the only one who gave way.
The blow which had fallen upon Olaf alarmed the other evangelical ministers so much that they abandoned the thought of taking any part in the control of the Church, and left it all to the king. This pope was satisfied. The mock-suns had disappeared one after another, and the sun left alone shone out in all his glory.
Gustavus, having thus broken down what threatened to be an obstacle in his way, took up his position as absolute monarch in the Church and in the State. In 1540 he obtained at Orebro a declaration that the throne should be hereditary; and taking in hand the ecclesiastical government he named a council of religion under the presidency of his superintendentgeneral, who was strictly speaking minister of worship. The king had engaged, as governor to his sons, George Normann, a Pomeranian gentleman, who had studied successfully at Wittenberg, and had come into Sweden with testimonials from Luther and Melanchthon. ‘He is a man of holy life,’ Luther had written to Gustavus Vasa, ‘modest, sincere, and learned, thoroughly competent to be tutor to a king’s son. I recommend him cordially to your majesty.’ Luther, however, aimed at more than the education of the prince royal. Having had an opportunity of conversing with an envoy of the king, Nicholas, a master of arts, he wrote to Gustavus, — ‘May Christ, who has begun his work by your royal majesty, deign greatly, to extend it, so that throughout your kingdom , f476 and especially in the cathedral churches, schools may be established for training young men for the evangelical ministry. Herein consists the highest duty of kings who, while engaged in political government, are friendly to Christian piety. In this respect your majesty has the reputation of surpassing all others, illustrious king! and we pray the Lord to govern by his spirit the heart of your majesty.’ Along with George Normann, Luther sent a young scholar, named Michael Agricola, whose learning, genius, and moral character he extols. In conclusion he says, — ‘I pray that Christ himself may bring forth much fruit by means of these two men; for it is he who through your majesty calls them and assigns them their duties. May the Father of mercies abundantly bless, by his Holy Spirit, all the designs and all the works of your royal majesty.’ It seems as if Luther had some fear that Gustavus might monopolize too much the government of the Church. In his view it is Christ who governs it, who calls and appoints his laborers.
Gustavus appreciated the abilities and the character of Normann, and saw in him an honorable but yielding man, at whose hands he would not encounter the resistance which Olaf had offered. The bishops gave him some uneasiness, and as he did not venture to suppress them, he resolved to neutralize their influence by placing the protege of the Wittenberg reformer above all the clergy, including the bishops and even the archbishop. While allowing the episcopal order to subsist for form’s sake, he at the same time introduced a semblance of the presbyterian order. In 1540 he appointed in all the provinces conservators, counselors of religion, and seniors or elders who under the presidency of the superintendent were to administer ecclesiastical affairs and make regular visitations in the dioceses. No change might be made or even proposed in the Church without the express permission of the king. The opposition of Olaf and other ministers to certain remains of popery was not, however, without effect.
Gustavus abolished them. But this semi-episcopal and semi-presbyterian constitution could never be got to work perfectly; and at a later time fortunate circumstances restored to the Swedish Church a more independent standing. Gustavus continued to have at heart the serious fulfillment of the functions of supreme bishop. He made laws for the frequenting of the religious assemblies, for the observance of the rules prescribing a decorous behavior in the church, for the suppression of immorality both among the laity and among the ecclesiastics, for the improvement of teaching, and for the spread of civilization and culture among the people. Desirous of seeing the extension of the kingdom of God, he sent missionaries into Lapland. In Sweden likewise he set the inspired Word above everything. ‘Thou doest well,’ he wrote to one, of his Sons, ‘to read the writings of the ancients and to see how the world was then governed; but do not give these the preference over the Word of God. In this is found true instruction and reasonable morals; and from it we learn the best mode of governing.’
This zeal for good did not prevent him from hitting hard when he thought he saw anything amiss. He could be calm, gentle, and tolerant, but also earnest, terrible, and swift as a thunderbolt. If he perceived any opposition he struck energetically. ‘It is not right,’ he said one day, ‘that the bishop of Strengnaes should dwell in a stone house. It appears to me that a wooden house might suffice for a servant of him who made himself poor.’
The bishop boldly answered, — ‘It is doubtless in the same chapter of Holy Scripture that it is said that to the king tithe ought to be paid.’ The bishop’s reply having offended the king, he was not slow to show his displeasure. The marriage of the bishop was at this time being celebrated.
It was his wedding-day, and there was a large company and a grand feast in the stone house. Gustavus unhesitatingly sent his sergeants in the very midst of the rejoicings, with orders to carry off the bishop from the marriage table, paying no regard to the general alarm, and to cast him into prison. His benefice was given to another. The contemporaries of Gustavus might reproach him, and with good reason, for his severity; and yet this seems moderation in comparison with the ways of Henry VIII., Mary Tudor, Francis I., Henry II., Charles IX., and with those of his predecessor Christian II. ‘I am called,’ he said, ‘a harsh monarch; but the days will come when I shall be regretted.’ He had indeed other qualities which made people forget his severity. The beauty of his person predisposed men in his favor, and the eloquence of his speech carried away all with whom he had to do.
But there are other considerations which, although they do not justify his rigorous measures, explain them.
The kingdom of Christ not being of this world ought not to be governed by kings and by their secretaries of state. This principle once admitted, there are three remarks to make: — The development of Christian civilization was not sufficiently advanced in the sixteenth century for a recognition of the independence of the two powers. Catholicism was still so powerful in Sweden that nothing short of the authority of such a king as Gustavus could secure to the Gospel and to its disciples the liberty which they needed. Lastly, if Gustavus was wrong in assuming, as so many other princes did, the episcopal office in the Church, he did at least discharge its duties conscientiously.
In 1537 the king had received deputies from the elector of Saxony, the landgrave of Hesse, and the Protestant towns, who entreated him to unite with the evangelical churches of Germany. Gustavus had promised to do all that might be in his power for the good of their confederation. In 1546 he was formally asked to enter into the league of Smalcalde; but this he declined to do. The Confession of Augsburg was not accepted in his lifetime. It was only after many vicissitudes that Sweden was induced to place itself under this flag.