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Table of contents
The only plausible argument which Dr. Keller brings out in his second publication pp. The hostility of several Popes and Councils to the circulation of vernacular translations of the Bible implies the existence of such translations, and could not prevent their publication, as the numerous German editions prove. Dutch, French, and Italian versions also appeared among the earliest prints. The Italian edition exhibited in at London is entitled: La Biblia en lingua Volgare per Nicolo di Mallermi.
Rosso Vercellese, , fol. A Spanish Bible by Bonif. Ferrer was printed at Valencia, see Reuss, Gesch. The Bible is the common property and most sacred treasure of all Christian churches. The art of printing was invented in Catholic times, and its history goes hand in hand with the history of the Bible. The Bible was the first book printed, and the Bible is the last book printed.
Between and , an interval of four centuries and a quarter, the Bible shows the progress and comparative development of the art of printing in a manner that no other single book can; and Biblical bibliography proves that during the first forty years, at least, the Bible exceeded in amount of printing all other books put together; nor were its quality, style, and variety a whit behind its quantity.
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It was, from beginning to end, a labor of love and enthusiasm. While publishers and printers made fortunes, Luther never received or asked a copper for this greatest work of his life. We must judge it from the times. A German translation from the original languages was a work of colossal magnitude if we consider the absence of good grammars, dictionaries, and concordances, the crude state of Greek and Hebrew scholarship, and of the German language, in the sixteenth century.
Luther wrote to Amsdorf, Jan. As regards the text, it was in an unsettled condition. The science of textual criticism was not yet born, and the materials for it were not yet collected from the manuscripts, ancient versions, and patristic quotations. Luther had to use the first printed editions. He had no access to manuscripts, the most important of which were not even discovered or made available before the middle of the nineteenth century.
Biblical geography and archaeology were in their infancy, and many names and phrases could not be understood at the time. They are most numerous in Job and the Prophets, who present, even to the advanced Hebrew scholars of our day, many unsolved problems of text and rendering. The English Version of had the great advantage of the labors of three generations of translators and revisers, and is therefore more accurate, and yet equally idiomatic.
The basis for the New Testament was the second edition of Erasmus, published at Basel in Switzerland in He derived the text from a few mediaeval MSS. Stephen, in his "royal edition" of the basis of the English Textus Receptus , and by the Elzevirs in their editions of and the basis of the Continental Textus Receptus , and which maintained the supremacy till Lachmann inaugurated the adoption of an older textual basis Luther did not slavishly follow the Greek of Erasmus, and in many places conformed to the Latin Vulgate, which is based on an older text.
He also omitted, even in his last edition, the famous interpolation of the heavenly witnesses in 1 John 5: The German language was divided into as many dialects as tribes and states, and none served as a bond of literary union. Saxons and Bavarians, Hanoverians and Swabians, could scarcely understand each other. Nobody seems to care sufficiently for it; and every preacher thinks he has a right to change it at pleasure, and to invent new terms.
Luther brought harmony out of this confusion, and made the modern High German the common book language. He chose as the basis the Saxon dialect, which was used at the Saxon court and in diplomatic intercourse between the emperor and the estates, but was bureaucratic, stiff, heavy, involved, dragging, and unwieldy. He enriched it with the vocabulary of the German mystics, chroniclers, and poets.
He gave it wings, and made it intelligible to the common people of all parts of Germany. He adapted the words to the capacity of the Germans, often at the expense of accuracy. He cared more for the substance than the form. He substituted even undeutsch! Still greater liberties he allowed himself in the Apocrypha, to make them more easy and pleasant reading. He avoided foreign terms which rushed in like a flood with the revival of learning, especially in proper names as Melanchthon for Schwarzerd, Aurifaber for Goldschmid, Oecolampadius for Hausschein, Camerarius for Kammermeister.
He enriched the vocabulary with such beautiful words as holdselig, Gottseligkeit. Erasmus Alber, a contemporary of Luther, called him the German Cicero, who not only reformed religion, but also the German language. It brings out the whole wealth, force, and beauty of the German language. It anticipated the golden age of German literature as represented by Klopstock, Lessing, Herder, Goethe, Schiller,—all of them Protestants, and more or less indebted to the Luther-Bible for their style. The best authority in Teutonic philology pronounces his language to be the foundation of the new High German dialect on account of its purity and influence, and the Protestant dialect on account of its freedom which conquered even Roman Catholic authors.
He published, by order of Duke George of Saxony, a new translation for the purpose of correcting the errors of "Luther and other heretics. The charge that Luther adapted the translation to his theological opinions has become traditional in the Roman Church, and is repeated again and again by her controversialists and historians. The same objection has been raised against the Authorized English Version. In both cases, the charge has some foundation, but no more than the counter-charge which may be brought against Roman Catholic Versions.
It is well known that Luther deemed it impossible to harmonize the two apostles in this article, and characterized the Epistle of James as an "epistle of straw," because it had no evangelical character " keine evangelische Art ". He therefore insisted on this insertion in spite of all outcry against it. His defense is very characteristic. Doctor Martin Luther will have it so, and says: Papist and donkey are one thing; sic volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas. For we do not want to be pupils and followers of the Papists, but their masters and judges.
Paul in dealing with his Judaizing opponents 2 Cor. Are they the writers of books? And I shall further boast: I can expound Psalms and Prophets; which they can not. I can translate; which they can not Therefore the word allein shall remain in my New Testament, and though all pope-donkeys Papstesel should get furious and foolish, they shall not turn it out. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic translators used the same liberty of marginal annotations and pictorial illustrations in favor of the doctrines and usages of their own church.
The same may be said of the other two German Catholic Bibles of the age of the Reformation. To be just, we must recognize the sectarian imperfections of Bible versions, arising partly from defective knowledge, partly from ingrained prejudices. A translation is an interpretation. Absolute reproduction is impossible in any work. A Jew cannot understand the Old Testament till he becomes a Christian, and sees in it a prophecy and type of Christianity. No synagogue would use a Christian version, nor any church a Jewish version. So also the New Testament is rendered differently by scholars of the Greek, Latin, and Protestant churches.
And even where they agree in words, there is a difference in the pervading spirit. They move, as it were, in a different atmosphere. A Roman Catholic version must be closely conformed to the Latin Vulgate, which the Council of Trent puts on an equal footing with the original text. The Romanist must become evangelical before he can fully apprehend the free spirit of the gospel as revealed in the New Testament. There is, however, a gradual progress in translation, which goes hand in hand with the progress of the understanding of the Bible. A future generation will make a still nearer approach to the original text in its purity and integrity.
If the Holy Spirit of God shall raise the Church to a higher plane of faith and love, and melt the antagonisms of human creeds into the one creed of Christ, then, and not before then, may we expect perfect versions of the oracles of God. Halle Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses , It is called the Probebibel.
The revised New Testament had been published several years before, and is printed by Dr. The work was very severely criticised by opposite schools for changing too much or too little, and was recommitted by the Eisenach Conference of for final action. The Anglo-American revision of the Authorized English Version of was set in motion by the Convocation of Canterbury, and carried out in fifteen years, between and , by two committees,—one in England and one in the United States each divided into two companies, -one for the Old Testament, one for the New, and each consisting of scholars of various Protestant denominations.
Dorner, on his visit to America in , desired to bring about a regular co-operation of the two revision movements, but it was found impracticable, and confined to private correspondence. The two revisions are similar in spirit and aim; and as far as they run parallel, they agree in most of the improvements. Both aim to replace the old version in public and private use; but both depend for ultimate success on the verdict of the churches for which they were prepared.
They passed through the same purgatory of hostile criticism both from conservative and progressive quarters. They mark a great progress of biblical scholarship, and the immense labor bestowed upon them can never be lost. The difference of the two arises from the difference of the two originals on which they are based, and its relation to the community. The authorized German and English versions are equally idiomatic, classical, and popular; but the German is personal, and inseparable from the overawing influence of Luther, which forbids radical changes.
The English is impersonal, and embodies the labors of three generations of biblical scholars from Tyndale to the forty-seven revisers of King James,—a circumstance which is favorable to new improvements in the same line. In Germany, where theology is cultivated as a science for a class, the interest in revision is confined to scholars; and German scholars, however independent and bold in theory, are very conservative and timid in practical questions.
In England and America, where theology moves in close contact with the life of the churches, revision challenges the attention of the laity which claims the fruits of theological progress. Hence the Anglo-American revision is much more thorough and complete. It embodies the results of the latest critical and exegetical learning. It involves a reconstruction of the original text, which the German Revision leaves almost untouched, as if all the pains-taking labors of critics since the days of Bengel and Griesbach down to Lachmann and Tischendorf not to speak of the equally important labors of English scholars from Mill and Bentley to Westcott and Hort had been in vain.
As to translation, the English Revision removes not only misleading errors, but corrects the far more numerous inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the minor details of grammar and vocabulary; while the German Revision is confined to the correction of acknowledged mistranslations. The German Revision of the New Testament numbers only about two hundred changes, the Anglo-American thirty-six thousand. The revised German New Testament is widely circulated; but of the provisional Probebibel , which embraces both Testaments, only five thousand copies were printed and sold by the Canstein Bibelanstalt at Halle as I learned there from Dr.
Of the revised English New Testament, a million copies were ordered from the Oxford University Press before publication, and three million copies were sold in less than a year The text was telegraphed from New York to Chicago in advance of the arrival of the book. Over thirty reprints appeared in the United States. The Revised Old Testament excited less interest, but tens of thousands of copies were sold on the day of publication , and several American editions were issued.
The Bible, after all, is the most popular book In the world, and constantly increasing in power and influence, especially with the English-speaking race.
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Carl Schmidt , Phil. Both drew from the same fountain, and labored for the same end, but in different ways. Luther built up the Reformation among the people in the German tongue; Melanchthon gave it methodical shape for scholars by his Latin writings. The former worked in the quarries, and cut the rough blocks of granite; the latter constructed the blocks into a habitable building. Luther expressed a modest self-estimate, and a high estimate of his friend, when he said that his superiority was more "in the rhetorical way," while Melanchthon was "a better logician and reasoner.
They appeared for the first time before the Close of that year. This book marks an epoch in the history of theology. It grew out of exegetical lectures on the Epistle to the Romans, the Magna Charta of the evangelical system. It is an exposition of the leading doctrines of sin and grace, repentance and salvation.
It is clear, fresh, thoroughly biblical, and practical. Its main object is to show that man cannot be saved by works of the law or by his own merits, but only by the free grace of God in Christ as revealed in the gospel. It presents the living soul of divinity, in striking contrast to the dry bones of degenerate scholasticism with its endless theses, antitheses, definitions, divisions, and subdivisions. The first edition was written in the interest of practical Christianity rather than scientific theology.
It is meagre in the range of topics, and defective in execution.
It is confined to anthropology and soteriology, and barely mentions the metaphysical doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation, as transcendent mysteries to be adored rather than curiously discussed. It has a polemical hearing against the Romanists, in view of the recent condemnation of Luther by the Sorbonne. It also contains some crude and extreme opinions which the author afterwards abandoned. Altogether in its first shape it was an unripe production, though most remarkable if we consider the youth of the author, who was then only twenty-four years of age.
Under his improving hand, the Loci assumed in subsequent editions the proportions of a full, mature, and well-proportioned system, stated in calm, clear, dignified language, freed from polemics against the Sorbonne and contemptuous flings at the schoolmen and Fathers. He embraced in twenty-four chapters all the usual topics from God and the creation to the resurrection of the body, with a concluding chapter on Christian liberty. He approached the scholastic method, and even ventured, in opposition to the Anti-Trinitarians, on a new speculative proof of the Holy Trinity from psychological analogies.
He never forsakes the scriptural basis, but occasionally quotes also the Fathers to show their supposed or real agreement with evangelical doctrines. The Loci prepared the way for the Augsburg Confession , in which Melanchthon gave to the leading doctrines official shape and symbolical authority for the Lutheran Church. But he did not stop there, and passed through several changes, which we must anticipate in order to form a proper estimate of that work.
The editions of his theological manual are divided into three classes: This and the editions which followed embody, besides additions in matter and improvements in style, important modifications of his views on predestination and free will, on the real presence, and on justification by faith. He gave up necessitarianism for synergism, the corporeal presence in the eucharist for a spiritual real presence, and solifidianism for the necessity of good works. In the first and third article he made an approach to the Roman-Catholic system, in the second to Calvinism.
The changes were the result of his continued study of the Bible and the Fathers, and his personal conferences with Roman and Reformed divines at Augsburg and in the colloquies of Frankfort, Hagenau, Worms, and Ratisbon. He calls them elucidations of obscurities, moderations of extreme views, and sober second thoughts. He denied at first, with Luther and Augustin, all freedom of the human will in spiritual things.
But on closer examination, and partly under the influence of Erasmus, he abandoned this stoic fatalism as a dangerous error, inconsistent with Christianity and morality. He taught instead a co-operation of the divine and human will in the work of conversion; thus anticipating Arminianism, and approaching the older semi-Pelagianism, but giving the initiative to divine grace. God precedes, calls, moves, supports us; but we must follow, and not resist. Three causes concur in the conversion,—the word of God, the Holy Spirit, and the will of man. He intimated this synergistic view in the eighteenth article of the altered Augsburg Confession, and in the German edition of the Apology of the Confession.
But he continued to deny the meritoriousness of good works; and in the colloquy of Worms, , he declined to condemn the doctrine of the slavery of the human will, because Luther had adhered to it to the end. He was willing to tolerate it as a theological opinion, although he himself had rejected it. But in this he was shaken by Oecolampadius, who proved that the Fathers held different opinions, and that Augustin did not teach an oral manducation. After he virtually gave up for himself, though he would not condemn and exclude, the conception of a corporeal presence and oral manducation of the body and blood of Christ; and laid the main stress on the spiritual, yet real presence and communion with Christ.
He changed the tenth article of the Augsburg Confession in , and made it acceptable to Reformed divines by omitting the anti-Zwinglian clause. But he never accepted the Zwinglian theory of a mere commemoration. His later eucharistic theory closely approached that of Calvin; while on the subject of predestination and free will he differed from him.
Calvin, who had written a preface to the French translation of the Loci Theologici , expressed, in private letters, his surprise that so great a theologian could reject the Scripture doctrine of eternal predestination; yet they maintained an intimate friendship to the end, and proved that theological differences need not prevent religious harmony and fraternal fellowship. Melanchthon never surrendered the doctrine of justification by faith; but he laid in his later years, in opposition to antinomian excesses, greater stress on the necessity of good works of faith, not indeed as a condition of salvation and in a sense of acquiring merit, but as an indispensable proof of the duty of obedience to the divine will.
Luther himself never adopted and never openly opposed them. The Loci of Melanchthon met from the start with extraordinary favor. Luther had an extravagant opinion of them, and even declared them worthy of a place in the Canon. Strigel and Chemnitz wrote commentaries on them. Leonhard Hutter likewise followed them, till he published a more orthodox compend which threw them into the shade and even out of use during the seventeenth century. The theological manual of Melanchthon proved a great help to the Reformation. The Romanists felt its power. Emser called it a new Koran and a pest.
In opposition to them, he and Eck wrote Loci Catholici. It is remarkable that the first and greatest dogmatic systems of the Reformation proceeded from these two lay-theologians who were never ordained by human hands, but received the unction from on high. While Luther and Melanchthon laid a solid foundation for an evangelical church and evangelical theology, their work was endangered by the destructive zeal of friends who turned the reformation into a revolution.
The best thing may be undone by being overdone. Freedom is a two-edged sword, and liable to the worst abuse as well as to the best use. Tares will grow up in every wheat-field, and they sometimes choke the wheat. But the work of destruction was overruled for the consolidation of the Reformation. Old rotten buildings had to be broken down before a new one could be constructed. The Reformation during its first five years was a battle of words, not of deeds. It scattered the seeds of new institutions all over Germany, but the old forms and usages still remained.
The new wine had not yet burst the old skin bottles. The Protestant soul dwelt in the Catholic body. The apostles after the day of Pentecost continued to visit the temple and the synagogue, and to observe circumcision, the sabbath, and other customs of the fathers, hoping for the conversion of all Israel, until they were cast out by the Jewish hierarchy. So the Protestants remained in external communion with the mother Church, attending Latin mass, bowing before the transubstantiated elements on the altar, praying the Ave Maria, worshiping saints, pictures, and crucifixes, making pilgrimages to holy shrines, observing the festivals of the Roman calendar, and conforming to the seven sacraments which accompanied them at every step of life from the cradle to the grave.
The bishops were still in charge of their dioceses, and unmarried priests and deacons performed all the ecclesiastical functions. The convents were still occupied by monks and nuns, who went through their daily devotions and ascetic exercises. The outside looked just as before, while the inside had undergone a radical change. This was the case even in Saxony and at Wittenberg, the nursery of the new state of things. Luther himself did not at first contemplate any outward change. He labored and hoped for a reformation of faith and doctrine within the Catholic Church, under the lead of the bishops, without a division, but he was now cast out by the highest authorities, and came gradually to see that he must build a new structure on the new foundation which he h ad laid by his writings and by the translation of the New Testament.
The negative part of these changes, especially the abolition of the mass and of monasticism, was made by advanced radicals among his disciples, who had more zeal than discretion, and mistook liberty for license. While Luther was confined on the Wartburg, his followers were like children out of school, like soldiers without a captain. Some of them thought that he had stopped half way, and that they must complete what he had begun. They took the work of destruction and reconstruction into their own inexperienced and unskillful hands. Order gave way to confusion, and the Reformation was threatened with disastrous failure.
Two young priests were excommunicated for taking part in the enthusiastic demonstrations. This created the greatest indignation. Twelve hundred students, workmen, and ruffians attacked and demolished in a few days sixty houses of the priests, who escaped violence only by flight.
The magistrate looked quietly on, as if in league with the insurrection. Similar scenes of violence were repeated during the summer. The monks under the lead of the Augustinians, forgetting their vows, left the convents, laid aside the monastic dress, and took up their abode among the people to work for a living, or to become a burden to others, or to preach the new faith. Luther saw in these proceedings the work of Satan, who was bringing shame and reproach on the gospel. During these troubles Crotus, the enthusiastic admirer of Luther, resigned the rectorship of the university, left Erfurt, and afterwards returned to the mother Church.
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The greatest celebrities left the city, or were disheartened, and died in poverty. From this time dates the decay of the university, once the flourishing seat of humanism and patriotic aspirations. It never recovered its former prosperity. The Revolution at Wittenberg. Carlstadt and the New Prophets. He was a man of considerable originality, learning, eloquence, zeal, and courage, but eccentric, radical, injudicious, ill-balanced, restless, and ambitious for leadership.
He wrote the first critical work on the Canon of the Scriptures, and anticipated the biblical criticism of modern times. He weighed the historic evidence, discriminated between three orders of books as of first, second, and third dignity, putting the Hagiographa of the Old Testament and the seven Antilegomena of the New in the third order, and expressed doubts on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. He based his objections to the Antilegomena, not on dogmatic grounds, as Luther, but on the want of historical testimony; his opposition to the traditional Canon was itself traditional; he put ante-Nicene against post-Nicene tradition.
This book on the Canon, however, was crude and premature, and passed out of sight. He invented some curious and untenable interpretations of Scripture, e. He referred the word "this," not to the bread, but to the body of Christ, so as to mean: At Christmas, , he omitted in the service the most objectionable parts of the Canon of the mass, and the elevation of the host, and distributed both wine and bread to a large congregation.
He announced at the same time that he would lay aside the priestly dress and other ceremonies. Two days afterwards he was engaged to the daughter of a poor nobleman in the presence of distinguished professors of the university, and on Jan. He gave improper notoriety to this act by inviting the whole university and the magistrate, and by publishing a book in justification of it.
He was not, however, the first priest who openly burst the chains of celibacy. Justus Jonas followed the example, and took a wife Feb. Luther approved of these marriages, but did not intend at that time to follow the example. Carlstadt went further, and maintained that no priest without wife and children should receive an appointment so he explained " must " in 1 Tim. He introduced a new legalism instead of the old, in violation of the principle of evangelical liberty and charity.
He also denounced pictures and images as dumb idols, which were plainly forbidden in the second commandment, and should be burnt rather than tolerated in the house of God. He induced the town council to remove them from the parish church; but the populace anticipated the orderly removal, tore them down, hewed them to pieces, and burnt them. He assailed the fasts, and enjoined the people to eat meat and eggs on fast-days. He repudiated all titles and dignities, since Christ alone was our Master Matt.
He expressed contempt for theology and all human learning, because God had revealed the truth unto babes Matt. He ran close to the border of communism. He also opposed the baptism of infants. He lost himself in the clouds of a confused mysticism and spiritualism, and appealed, like the Zwickau Prophets, to immediate inspirations. In the beginning of November, , thirty of the forty monks left the Augustinian convent of Wittenberg in a rather disorderly manner. One wished to engage in cabinet making, and to marry.
He fiercely attacked the mass, the adoration of the sacrament, and the whole system of monasticism as dangerous to salvation. He had stirred up a religious excitement among the weavers of Zwickau in Saxony on the Bohemian frontier, perhaps in some connection with the Hussites or Bohemian Brethren, and organized the forces of a new dispensation by electing twelve apostles and seventy-two disciples.
But the magistrate interfered, and the leaders had to leave. These Zwickau Prophets, as they were called, agreed with Carlstadt in combining an inward mysticism with practical radicalism. They boasted of visions, dreams, and direct communications with God and the Angel Gabriel, disparaged the written word and regular ministry, rejected infant baptism, and predicted the overthrow of the existing order of things, and the near approach of a democratic millennium.
We may compare Carlstadt and the Zwickau Prophets with the Fifth Monarchy Men in the period of the English Commonwealth, who were likewise millennarian enthusiasts, and attempted, in opposition to Cromwell, to set up the "Kingdom of Jesus" or the fifth monarchy of Daniel. Wittenberg was in a very critical condition. The magistrate was discordant and helpless. Melanchthon was embarrassed, and too modest and timid for leadership.
He had no confidence in visions and dreams, but could not satisfactorily answer the objections to infant baptism, which the prophets declared useless because a foreign faith of parents or sponsors could not save the child. Luther got over this difficulty by assuming that the Holy Spirit wrought faith in the child. The Elector was requested to interfere; but he dared not, as a layman, decide theological and ecclesiastical questions. He preferred to let things take their natural course, and trusted in the overruling providence of God.
His strength lay in a wise, cautious, peaceful diplomacy. But at this time valor was the better part of discretion. The only man who could check the wild spirit of revolution, and save the ship of the Reformation, was Luther. De Wette , II. Luther was informed of all these disturbances. He saw the necessity of some changes, but regretted the violence with which they had been made before public opinion was prepared, and he feared a re-action which radicalism is always likely to produce.
The Latin mass as a sacrifice, with the adoration of the host, the monastic institution, the worship of saints, images and relics, processions and pilgrimages, and a large number of superstitious ceremonies, were incompatible with Protestant doctrines. Worship had sooner or later to be conducted in the vernacular tongue; the sacrifice of the mass must give way to a commemorative communion; the cup must be restored to the laity, and the right of marriage to the clergy. He acquiesced in these changes.
But about clerical vestments, crucifixes, and external ceremonies, he was indifferent; nor did he object to the use of pictures, provided they were not made objects of worship. In such matters he asserted the right of Christian freedom, against coercion for or against them. As to the pretended revelations of the new prophets, he despised them, and maintained that an inspired prophet must either be ordinarily called by church authority, or prove his divine commission by miracles.
He first went to Wittenberg in disguise, and spent three days there in December, He stayed under the roof of Amsdorf, and dared not show himself in the convent or on the street. When the disturbances increased, he felt it his duty to reappear openly on the arena of conflict. He saw from the Wartburg his own house burning, and hastened to extinguish the flames. He ordered him to remain in his concealment.
Luther was all his life an advocate of strict submission to the civil magistrates in their own proper sphere; but on this occasion be set aside the considerations of prudence, and obeyed the higher law of God and his conscience. He wrote in substance as follows: I received the letter and warning of your Electoral Grace on Friday evening [Feb. That your Electoral Grace is moved by the best intention, needs no assurance from me.
I also mean well, but this is of no account If I were not certain that we have the pure gospel on our side, I would despair Your Grace knows, if not, I make known to you, that I have the gospel, not from men, but from heaven through our Lord Jesus Christ Nay, I believe that I can offer your Highness better protection than your Highness can offer me. Did I think that I had to trust in the Elector, I should not come at all. The sword is powerless here. He who has most faith will be the most powerful protector. Your Electoral Grace asks me, what you are to do under these circumstances?
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I answer, with all submission, Do nothing at all, but trust in God alone If your Grace had faith, you would behold the glory of God; but as you do not yet believe, you have not seen it. Let us love and glorify God forever. It is my flock, the flock intrusted to me by God; they are my children in Christ. I could not hesitate a moment. Luther rode without fear through the territory of his violent enemy, Duke George of Saxony, who was then urging the Elector to severe measures against him and the Wittenbergers.
He informed the Elector that he would pass through Leipzig, as he once went to Worms, though it should rain Duke Georges for nine days in succession, each fiercer than the original in Dresden. He safely arrived in Wittenberg on Thursday evening, the 6th of March, full of faith and hope, and ready for a fight against his false friends. On this journey he had on the 3d or 4th of March an interesting interview with two Swiss students, Kessler and Spengler, in the tavern of the Black Bear at Jena.
We have an account of it from one of them, John Kessler of St. Gallen, who afterwards became a reformer of that city. The episode was purely private, and had no influence upon the course of events; but it reveals a characteristic trait in this mighty man, who even in critical moments of intense earnestness did not lose his playful humor. We find the same combination of apparently opposite qualities when at Coburg he was watching the affairs of the Diet at Augsburg, and wrote a childlike letter to his little Hans.
Such harmless humor is like the light of the sun breaking through dark clouds. The two Swiss, who had studied at Basel, were attracted by the fame of Luther and Melanchthon, and traveled on foot to Wittenberg to hear them. They arrived at Jena after a terrible thunderstorm, fatigued and soaked through, and humbly sat down on a bench near the door of the guest-chamber, when they saw a Knight seated at a table, sword in hand, and the Hebrew Psalter before him.
Luther recognized the Swiss by their dialect, kindly invited them to sit down at his side, and offered them a drink. He inquired whether Erasmus was still living in Basel, what he was doing, and what the people in Switzerland thought of Martin Luther. The students replied that some lauded him to the skies as a great reformer; others, especially the priests, denounced him as an intolerable heretic.
At dinner Luther gave them a rare feast of reason and flow of soul. The astonished students suspected that the mysterious Knight was Ulrich von Hutten, when Luther, turning to the host, smilingly remarked, "Behold, I have become a nobleman over the night: The next thing will be that I am Marcolfus. When they wished to know the name of the sender of the salutation, he replied, "Simply tell him that he who is coming sends greeting, and he will understand it. When the students a few days afterwards arrived at Wittenberg, and called on Dr.
Schurf to deliver the message from "him who is coming," they were agreeably surprised to find Luther there with Melanchthon, Jonas, and Amsdorf. Luther greeted them heartily, and introduced them to Melanchthon, of whom he had spoken at Jena. They made the same impression on John Dantiscus, afterwards bishop of Culm and Ermeland, who on his return from Spain to Poland in saw Luther in Wittenberg; he reported that his "eyes were sharp, and had a certain terrible coruscation of lightning such as was seen now and then in demoniacs," and adds that, "his features were like his books," and "his speech violent and full of scorn.
Another student, Albert Burrer, who saw him after his return from the Wartburg, praises his mild, kindly countenance, his pleasant sonorous voice, his charming address, the piety of his words and acts, the power of his eloquence which moved every hearer not made of stone, and created a desire to hear him again and again. Luther restores Order in Wittenberg. The oldest editions, slightly varying in length, appeared On the Sunday after his arrival, Luther ascended his old pulpit, and re-appeared before his congregation of citizens and students.
Wittenberg was a small place; but what he said and did there, and what Calvin did afterwards in Geneva, had the significance of a world-historical fact, more influential at that time than an encyclical from Rome. Protestantism had reached a very critical juncture. Luther or Carlstadt, reformation or revolution, the written Word or illusive inspirations, order or confusion: Luther was in the highest and best mood, full of faith in his cause, and also full of charity for his opponents, strong in matter, sweet in manner, and completely successful.
He never showed such moderation and forbearance before or after. He preached eight sermons for eight days in succession, and carried the audience with him. They are models of effective popular eloquence, and among the best he ever preached. He handled the subject from the stand-point of a pastor, with fine tact and practical wisdom. He kept aloof from coarse personalities which disfigure so many of his polemical writings. Not one unkind word, not one unpleasant allusion, escaped his lips. The Foundation Perfect Weddings: A Romantic Comedy St. A Beach House Novel Killian: Monster Codex Box Wet Cement: Text Classics Love For Sale: And Dangerous For You, Too!
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