The diet of Augsburg divided Germany into two religious and two political parties, by recognizing the independent rights and existence of both. Hitherto the Protestants had been looked on as rebels; they were henceforth to be regarded as brethren -- not indeed through affection, but necessity. By the Interim*, the Confession of Augsburg was allowed temporarily to take a sisterly place alongside of the olden religion, though only as a tolerated neighbour. To every secular state was conceded the right of establishing the religion it acknowledged as supreme and exclusive within its own territories, and of forbidding the open profession of its rival. Subjects were to be free to quit a country where their own religion was not tolerated. The doctrines of Luther for the first time received a positive sanction; and if they were trampled under foot in Bavaria and Austria, they predominated in Saxony and Thuringia. But the sovereigns alone were to determine what form of religion should prevail within their territories; the feelings of subjects who had no representatives in the diet were little attended to in the pacification. In the ecclesiastical territories, indeed, where the unreformed religion enjoyed an undisputed supremacy, the free exercise of their religion was obtained for all who had previously embraced the Protestant doctrines; but this indulgence rested only on the personal guarantee of Ferdinand, King of the Romans, by whose endeavours chiefly this peace was effected; a guarantee, which, being rejected by the Roman Catholic members of the Diet, and only inserted in the treaty under their protest, could not of course have the force of law.

* A system of Theology so called, prepared by order of the Emperor Charles V. for the use of Germany, to reconcile the differences between the Roman Catholics and the Lutherans, which, however, was rejected by both parties -- Ed.

If it had been opinions only that thus divided the minds of men, with what indifference would all have regarded the division! But on these opinions depended riches, dignities, and rights; and it was this which so deeply aggravated the evils of division. Of two brothers, as it were, who had hitherto enjoyed a paternal inheritance in common, one now remained, while the other was compelled to leave his father's house, and hence arose the necessity of dividing the patrimony. For this separation, which he could not have foreseen, the father had made no provision. By the beneficent donations of pious ancestors the riches of the church had been accumulating through a thousand years, and these benefactors were as much the progenitors of the departing brother as of him who remained. Was the right of inheritance then to be limited to the paternal house, or to be extended to blood? The gifts had been made to the church in communion with Rome, because at that time no other existed, -- to the first- born, as it were, because he was as yet the only son. Was then a right of primogeniture to be admitted in the church, as in noble families? Were the pretensions of one party to be favoured by a prescription from times when the claims of the other could not have come into existence? Could the Lutherans be justly excluded from these possessions, to which the benevolence of their forefathers had contributed, merely on the ground that, at the date of their foundation, the differences between Lutheranism and Romanism were unknown? Both parties have disputed, and still dispute, with equal plausibility, on these points. Both alike have found it difficult to prove their right. Law can be applied only to conceivable cases, and perhaps spiritual foundations are not among the number of these, and still less where the conditions of the founders generally extended to a system of doctrines; for how is it conceivable that a permanent endowment should be made of opinions left open to change?

What law cannot decide, is usually determined by might, and such was the case here. The one party held firmly all that could no longer be wrested from it -- the other defended what it still possessed. All the bishoprics and abbeys which had been secularized BEFORE the peace, remained with the Protestants; but, by an express clause, the unreformed Catholics provided that none should thereafter be secularized. Every impropriator of an ecclesiastical foundation, who held immediately of the Empire, whether elector, bishop, or abbot, forfeited his benefice and dignity the moment he embraced the Protestant belief; he was obliged in that event instantly to resign its emoluments, and the chapter was to proceed to a new election, exactly as if his place had been vacated by death. By this sacred anchor of the Ecclesiastical Reservation, (`Reservatum Ecclesiasticum',) which makes the temporal existence of a spiritual prince entirely dependent on his fidelity to the olden religion, the Roman Catholic Church in Germany is still held fast; and precarious, indeed, would be its situation were this anchor to give way. The principle of the Ecclesiastical Reservation was strongly opposed by the Protestants; and though it was at last adopted into the treaty of peace, its insertion was qualified with the declaration, that parties had come to no final determination on the point. Could it then be more binding on the Protestants than Ferdinand's guarantee in favour of Protestant subjects of ecclesiastical states was upon the Roman Catholics? Thus were two important subjects of dispute left unsettled in the treaty of peace, and by them the war was rekindled.

Such was the position of things with regard to religious toleration and ecclesiastical property: it was the same with regard to rights and dignities. The existing German system provided only for one church, because one only was in existence when that system was framed. The church had now divided; the Diet had broken into two religious parties; was the whole system of the Empire still exclusively to follow the one? The emperors had hitherto been members of the Romish Church, because till now that religion had no rival. But was it his connexion with Rome which constituted a German emperor, or was it not rather Germany which was to be represented in its head? The Protestants were now spread over the whole Empire, and how could they justly still be represented by an unbroken line of Roman Catholic emperors? In the Imperial Chamber the German States judge themselves, for they elect the judges; it was the very end of its institution that they should do so, in order that equal justice should be dispensed to all; but would this be still possible, if the representatives of both professions were not equally admissible to a seat in the Chamber? That one religion only existed in Germany at the time of its establishment, was accidental; that no one estate should have the means of legally oppressing another, was the essential purpose of the institution. Now this object would be entirely frustrated if one religious party were to have the exclusive power of deciding for the other. Must, then, the design be sacrificed, because that which was merely accidental had changed? With great difficulty the Protestants, at last, obtained for the representatives of their religion a place in the Supreme Council, but still there was far from being a perfect equality of voices. To this day no Protestant prince has been raised to the imperial throne.

Whatever may be said of the equality which the peace of Augsburg was to have established between the two German churches, the Roman Catholic had unquestionably still the advantage. All that the Lutheran Church gained by it was toleration; all that the Romish Church conceded, was a sacrifice to necessity, not an offering to justice. Very far was it from being a peace between two equal powers, but a truce between a sovereign and unconquered rebels. From this principle all the proceedings of the Roman Catholics against the Protestants seemed to flow, and still continue to do so. To join the reformed faith was still a crime, since it was to be visited with so severe a penalty as that which the Ecclesiastical Reservation held suspended over the apostacy of the spiritual princes. Even to the last, the Romish Church preferred to risk to loss of every thing by force, than voluntarily to yield the smallest matter to justice. The loss was accidental and might be repaired; but the abandonment of its pretensions, the concession of a single point to the Protestants, would shake the foundations of the church itself. Even in the treaty of peace this principle was not lost sight of. Whatever in this peace was yielded to the Protestants was always under condition. It was expressly declared, that affairs were to remain on the stipulated footing only till the next general council, which was to be called with the view of effecting an union between the two confessions. Then only, when this last attempt should have failed, was the religious treaty to become valid and conclusive. However little hope there might be of such a reconciliation, however little perhaps the Romanists themselves were in earnest with it, still it was something to have clogged the peace with these stipulations.

Thus this religious treaty, which was to extinguish for ever the flames of civil war, was, in fact, but a temporary truce, extorted by force and necessity; not dictated by justice, nor emanating from just notions either of religion or toleration. A religious treaty of this kind the Roman Catholics were as incapable of granting, to be candid, as in truth the Lutherans were unqualified to receive. Far from evincing a tolerant spirit towards the Roman Catholics, when it was in their power, they even oppressed the Calvinists; who indeed just as little deserved toleration, since they were unwilling to practise it. For such a peace the times were not yet ripe -- the minds of men not yet sufficiently enlightened. How could one party expect from another what itself was incapable of performing? What each side saved or gained by the treaty of Augsburg, it owed to the imposing attitude of strength which it maintained at the time of its negociation. What was won by force was to be maintained also by force; if the peace was to be permanent, the two parties to it must preserve the same relative positions. The boundaries of the two churches had been marked out with the sword; with the sword they must be preserved, or woe to that party which should be first disarmed! A sad and fearful prospect for the tranquillity of Germany, when peace itself bore so threatening an aspect.

A momentary lull now pervaded the empire; a transitory bond of concord appeared to unite its scattered limbs into one body, so that for a time a feeling also for the common weal returned. But the division had penetrated its

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