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[From The Fifth Dialogue.]

Euist.[1] I hope so too, Bathynous. And yet, to speak impartially and <378> according to the truth of History, the Instruments God made use of in the first Reformation of the Church were not altogether of so unexceptionable demeanour and tenour in Doctrine and Practice, as that we should much build our faith upon the worth of their persons. But I must confess that Luther was one that made himself the most obnoxious.

Bath. What you say, Euistor, admit it were true, it does not one whit prejudice the cause of the Reformation. For the Reformation is not into the Opinion of any weak and fallible man, but into the knowledge and belief of the infallible Word of God. And therefore it is vainly and to no purpose alledged by the Romanists, That Luther was of so big and boisterous a spirit; That he was impatient of a single life; That he was mistaken in his judgement in severall things, in some things inconstant to himself, vehement and uncontroulable in all, and opposing all gainsayers with rudeness and bitterness of <379> speech. For notwithstanding all these Complexionall Infirmities, yet I cannot but believe that he had a substantial Sincerity underneath, a firm belief in God and Jesus Christ, and a lusty Indignation against the bloudy Tyranny, the gross Idolatry and base and unworthy Cheats and Impostures of the Church of Rome. Whenas, on the contrary, his Antagonist, Pope Leo, was not onely an open abettour of these, but a close Infidel or Atheist; as appears by that wicked saying of his to Cardinall Bembo, wherein he did insinuate that the whole History of Christ is but a mere Fable. Was not Luther, think you, holy enough to grapple with such an Holiness as this Leo the tenth? I must confess I cannot think so very highly of Luther as some do, and yet I think him to have been a very happy Instrument in the hand of God for the good of Christendome against the horrid Enormities of the Papal Hierarchie. And though he might not be allowed to be the Elias, the Con <380> ductour and Chariot of Israel, as some have styled him; yet I think at least he might be accounted a faithful Postillion in that Chariot, who was wel accoutred with his wax Boots, oiled Coat and Hood, and who turned the Horses noses into a direct way from Babylon toward the City of God, and held on in a good round trot through thick and thin, not caring to bespatter others in this high jogg, as he himself was finely bespattered from others.

The meaner the Romanists make our first Reformers, Euistor, the greater disgrace returns upon themselves, That the Corruptions of their Church were so gross, that even men but of an ordinary life and judgement could both discern them and detest them at once. If God by ordinary Instruments wrought extraordinary things, the more was his Glory, and the less hazard of eclipsing the luster of the Sacred Apostolicall Foundation, or of disturbing that Number that is so holy and celebrious in both History and Prophecy throughout the <381> Scripture. Unexceptionable Reformers had been a means rather to captivate us again to the flesh, to carnal respects and personal Dotages, then to promote the Dispensation of the Spirit, which must be the upshot of all. The Ministry of Luther and the Reformers was rather to recover to us the use of the Scripture, then to dictate a Law to us from their own infallible and unexceptionable worth; to break off the Papal Yoke, rather then to put us into new Fetters. The Word of God then it was, hid like a precious Cabinet, and sunk in that Augeæ stabulum, the overflowing Corruptions and down-bearing Tyrannies of the Church of Rome, which that noble Heros Luther, like another Hercules, by removing the filth, was to bring into the sight of the world again. And would you then have had him and his Fellow-labourers (not such as they were, but) such pure, spruce Gentlemen, in white Spanish-leather Pumps, in clean Linen Stockins and Holland Doublets, <382> with all other correspondent Elegancy and unexceptionable Neatness? and in this pure and splendid plight to have taken into hand their Shovells, Wheel-barrows and Muck-forks, to rid away this stinking Dunghill? Christ did not owe his wicked Corrivall for the Government of the World so much respect. And for such course work, there was more need of a resolute robustuous courage, such as Luther had, then of any such externall Sanctimony or accuracy of Wit and Judgement, as not to be taken tripping any-where in either Reason or Conversation.

Wherefore all Arguments against the Reformation from the quality of the Reformers are very weak, both because they were substantial good men in the main, notwithstanding what oversights soever they may be pretended to have committed through humour or passion or unavoidable surprize; and also because it is not their Authority we stand to in matters of Religion, but to the <383> Scripture, in the Recovery of the use and enjoyment whereof they were gloriously instrumental; and lastly, because all their particular judgements are swallowed up, not to be seen nor look'd upon any farther then they appear in the common judgement of Reformed Christendome represented in the Harmonie of their publick Confessions. But for God's carrying on the Reformation in particular Circumstances, in his taking the Kingdome to himself and judging the little Horn, if all be not so plain and pervious to our understandings; yet let us the rather take up the Psalmist's form of Devotion, and say, [2] The Lord reigneth, let the Earth rejoice. Clouds and Darkness are round about him, Righteousness and Iudgement are the habitation of his seat.

Philop. Bathynous has suggested many material Considerations in the behalf of the Reformation against all possible Cavills of the Adversarie touching the first Reformers, whom <384> I am very well assured that, according to the Genius of that Church, they do in many things most wickedly calumniate; and that those that are not Calumnies as concerning Fact, are no such horrid Crimes as theirs that accuse them, but more venial Infirmities or less commendable Humours. Insomuch that, notwithstanding all their Cavills, I am not at all shaken in my belief of Reformed Christendom's being the true visible Kingdome of God and his Christ. Which is the first Document, Philotheus, that you gave us, tending to the Interest of Reformed Christendome. I pray you now therefore, since I am so well satisfied in this, proceed with what dispatch you can to the rest, without any farther interruption.

[1] XXV. Of the Obnoxiousness of Luther and other Reformers.

[2] Psalm 97. 1, 2.

Cite as: Henry More, The Two Last Dialogues (1668), pp. 377-384, http://www.cambridge-platonism.divinity.cam.ac.uk/view/texts/diplomatic/More1668B-excerpt003, accessed 2020-10-21.