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´╗┐Title: Life of Luther - with several introductory and concluding chapters from - general church history
Author: Just, Gustav
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life of Luther - with several introductory and concluding chapters from - general church history" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Illustration: Dr. Martin Luther.]






(Translated from the German by S. and H.)


St. Louis, Mo.


Copyright, 1903,



St. Louis, Mo.


    CHAPTER    I. The Christians of the First Century                 1

      "       II. The Persecutions                                    8

      "      III. Constantine and the Spreading of Christianity in
                  Germany                                            14

      "       IV. Popery and Monkery                                 17

      "        V. The Forerunners of the Reformation                 21

      "       VI. Luther's Childhood                                 26

      "      VII. Luther's Student Days                              28

      "     VIII. Luther in the Cloister                             34

      "       IX. Luther as Teacher                                  38

      "        X. Luther the Reformer                                43

      "       XI. Luther the Mighty Warrior                          49

      "      XII. Luther the Staunch Confessor                       56

      "     XIII. The Fanatics and the Peasants' War                 64

      "      XIV. The Colloquy at Marburg                            69

      "       XV. The Augsburg Confession                            70

      "      XVI. Bible, Catechism, and Hymnbook                     76

      "     XVII. Luther's Family Life                               82

      "    XVIII. Luther's Last Days and Death                       91

      "      XIX. Afflictions of the Lutheran Church in Germany
                  after the Reformation                              95

      "       XX. The Lutheran Church in America                     99


Remember them which have the rule over you, who have
spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow
considering the end of their conversation.

Hebrews 13, 7.


The Christians of the First Century.

1. THE APOSTLES OF THE LORD. When our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bid
farewell to His disciples on the Mount of Olives, and ascended into
heaven, He commanded them to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued
with power from on high. In this power they were to go forth into all
the world and bear witness of that which they had seen and heard. He
said unto them: "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is
come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and
in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the
earth," Acts 1, 8.

The disciples faithfully executed this command of the Lord; for after
the day of Pentecost upon which they had received the Holy Ghost, they
went forth and proclaimed the Gospel of Christ crucified in Jerusalem,
in Judaea, in the surrounding countries, and in the whole world. They
baptized Jews and heathen, and everywhere founded Christian
congregations. But at once the word of the Lord was fulfilled: "If they
have persecuted me, they will also persecute you," John 15, 20. For the
spreading of Christianity aroused bitter enmity among Jews and Gentiles
against the disciples of the Lord. _James_, the brother of John, was the
first of the apostles to suffer martyrdom at Jerusalem. We are told:
"When the officer, who was to bring him into court, saw how steadfastly
James adhered to his faith in Christ, he was so affected, that he
confessed himself likewise a Christian. Thus both of them were
condemned. While they were being led away he begged James to forgive
him, whereupon the apostle replied, 'Peace be with thee,' and kissed
him." Hereupon both were beheaded at the command of Herod Agrippa.

[Illustration: The Apostle Peter.]

When Herod saw that this pleased the Jews, he had _Peter_ also
apprehended and cast into prison, from which the apostle was
miraculously delivered by an angel. Fearlessly he continued to preach
Christ and founded many congregations in Asia Minor. The legend says
that he was crucified under Emperor Nero at Rome.

[Illustration: The Evangelist Matthew.]

_James_, the Lord's brother, was bishop of the congregation at
Jerusalem. Because of his pious life, he was at first highly esteemed
among the Jews. But finally he also became an object of their hatred.
The legend reports that the high priest led him to the pinnacle of the
temple and there commanded him to deny Christ. When, however, he boldly
confessed his Savior, he was hurled to the ground below. Then the
enraged mob pressed about him in order to stone him to death, when he
cried out upon his knees, "I implore Thee, God Father, for them; for
they know not what they do." Then a tanner stepped up and killed him
with a club.

[Illustration: The Evangelist John.]

_Philip_ is said to have perished in Phrygia, _Bartholomew_ in Asia
Minor, _Thomas_ in India proper, and _Andrew_ in Scythia.

_John_, at first, labored in Jerusalem, and later became pastor of the
congregation at Ephesus. For a time he was banished to the Isle of
Patmos, afterward, however, he was permitted to return to Ephesus. When,
because of his advanced age, he could no longer preach nor walk, he
would have himself carried into the assembly and would always address it
in these words, "Little children, love one another." He died a natural
death, nearly one hundred years of age.

[Illustration: The Apostle Paul.]

Chief of all the apostles was the apostle of the Gentiles, _Paul_.
Although he did not belong to the twelve disciples of the Lord, he was,
nevertheless, directly called and made a chosen vessel of the Lord.
Before his conversion his name was Saul, and he belonged to the strict
sect of the Pharisees. Being an enemy of the Lord's disciples, he was
gratified to see Stephen expire when stoned to death by the Jews. Soon
thereafter he himself became a zealous persecutor of the Christians in
Jerusalem, and wished to continue his cruel work also in Damascus. But
on the way thither he was converted by the Lord and called to be an
apostle. Thenceforth he preached the Gospel of the Savior of sinners,
especially among the Gentiles, and soon many Christian congregations
arose also among them. But he also shared the fate of the other
apostles; he likewise suffered death for the doctrine of Christ. About
61 A. D. he was taken a prisoner to Rome. There he abode two years.
Chained to a soldier he preached the Gospel in that city and wrote many
letters to the congregations which had been founded by him among the
Gentiles. For a short time he regained his liberty, but was imprisoned a
second time. In 67 or 68 A. D. he suffered martyrdom, being beheaded
under Nero.

2. THE FIRST CHRISTIAN CONGREGATIONS. "And they continued steadfastly in
the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in
prayers," Acts 2, 42. This, in a few words, is the picture which the
"Acts of the Apostles" paints of the first Christian congregation at
Jerusalem. The first Christians were diligent and attentive hearers of
God's Word. Thereby they grew in knowledge and in the faith of the
exalted Savior, and in His power they defied all temptations and
persecutions. Through the Word they remained in communion with their
Head, Jesus Christ, and practiced intimate fellowship with each other.
This showed itself in breaking of bread, Holy Communion, and in their
united praying, praising, and giving of thanks.

How intense their love was for their Savior and their brethren, we may
see from the following words in the Acts: "And the multitude of them
that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of
them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they
had all things common. Neither was there any among them that lacked, for
as many as were possessed of lands and houses sold them and brought the
prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles'
feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had
need," Acts 4, 34. 35. They were ready to sacrifice life itself for
their Savior and for each other. After their Lord's example they
practiced charity towards their enemies, and prayed for them. They
obtained favor with God and man, and the Lord added daily to the church
such as should be saved. For many Jews forsook their national faith and
joined the Christian congregation. True, some hypocrites and false
Christians were found among them, as the example of Ananias and Sapphira
plainly shows. As with the congregation at Jerusalem, so with all other
Christian congregations of the first century the word of the apostles
was the only rule and guide of faith and life.

The apostles were the first teachers of the congregations. Together with
the apostles the presbyters and elders, sometimes also called bishops,
presided over the congregations. It was their duty to conduct divine
services and watch over faith and life of the congregations. They were
assisted by the deacons and almoners to whom was entrusted the care for
the poor and the sick. Sunday was chosen by the Christians as their day
of public worship because on this day the Lord Jesus arose from the
dead. At first the congregation assembled at the homes of its members.
It was only later that churches were built for this purpose. At these
services, spiritual hymns and psalms were sung, portions of the Holy
Scriptures were read and explained, and prayers offered. Holy Communion
was celebrated every Sunday, and was received by the entire

Strict discipline was practiced in the Christian congregation. If anyone
walked disorderly, he was admonished; if, in spite of this, he continued
impenitent, he was excluded from the Christian congregation as a heathen
and publican, and not received again until he repented.

3. THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM. At last the word of Jesus was
fulfilled: "For the day shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall
cast a trench about thee and compass thee round, and keep thee in on
every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children
within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another:
because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." The terrible
judgment drew near! The cruel Emperor Nero at that time ruled in Rome.
Under him the Jews rebelled and drove the Romans from their country.
Nero sent his general Vespasian to chastise the rebels. Victoriously he
pressed forward. Soon thereafter Nero died, and Vespasian was recalled
and himself elected emperor. His son Titus was to complete the
chastisement of the Jews. In the spring of 70 A. D. he marched against
Jerusalem with an enormous army and laid siege to the city. His demand
that the Jews surrender, in order to save their city and magnificent
temple, was rejected with scorn by the proud leaders. Titus at once cast
a trench about the city, and bombarded it by means of catapults.

[Illustration: The Destruction of Jerusalem.]

The condition of the city was frightful. It happened to be the time of
the passover, and because of this festival more than two millions of
people had assembled in Jerusalem. They were not at one among
themselves; some were in favor of surrendering to the Romans, others
were determined to resist to the last. The latter gained the ascendency,
and filled with ferocity and desperation they fought against the Romans.
No one dared even to speak of surrender, because the leaders had
forbidden it under penalty of death. Soon frightful famine and much
other misery arose. Everything was eaten, even the most disgusting
things, as, for instance, the excrements of animals; yes, a woman of
noble birth killed and devoured her own child. Epidemics broke out and
carried off thousands. Because the corpses could not be buried, they
were thrown over the walls and filled the trenches. Yet, in spite of
this, the Jews would not surrender. Then Titus took the city by storm,
and the Romans killed and slaughtered whatever came in their way. The
temple was defended by the Jews with great stubbornness. Titus had
commanded to preserve this building, but a soldier threw a firebrand
into it, and soon the magnificent edifice was enveloped in flames. The
city of Jerusalem was laid even with the ground, according to the word
of the Lord: "Not one stone shall remain upon another," Luke 19, 14.

The siege had lasted four months, and in this time one million of Jews
had perished. The prisoners were led away, some being compelled to fight
with wild beasts in the arena, others being sold into slavery.--But what
had become of the Christians? As the swallows forsake the house whose
walls the masons are tearing down, so the congregation of the Lord had
left Jerusalem before the siege, and had found a refuge in the mountain
village of Pella, on the Dead Sea, on the other side of the river


The Persecutions.

100 A. D. the apostles of the Lord had all fallen asleep. The preaching
of the Gospel, however, had not ceased, but was carried on vigorously
everywhere, and now persecutions against the Christians arose also among
the heathen. They began already under _Nero_. In 64 A. D. this cruel
tyrant set fire to Rome, the great capital of the then known world, and
amused himself with the spectacle. The conflagration raged for six days,
and reduced the greater part of the city to ashes. In order to shield
himself against the wrath of the people, who accused him of kindling the
fire, he charged the hated Christians with the crime. These were now
forced to endure the most excruciating torments and tortures. Many were
sewed into the skins of wild beasts, and then thrown to dogs who tore
them to pieces. Others were covered with wax and pitch, placed in the
imperial gardens and set afire, that as torches they might illuminate
the darkness of the night.

One of the most severe persecutions occurred under Emperor _Decius_. For
nearly half a century the Christians had lived in peace, but this peace
had made many of them secure and lukewarm. Origen, a noted teacher of
the time, complains: "Some attend church only on the high festivals, and
then, generally, only to pass away time. Some leave the church as soon
as the sermon is ended, without speaking to the teachers or asking them
questions; others do not listen to a single word, but stand in some
corner of the church and chatter with each other." From this sinful
security they were aroused by the persecution bursting over them like a
sudden storm. The emperor issued a decree that the Christians were to be
forced by threats and tortures to sacrifice to the heathen deities.
Whoever refused to do this was to suffer death. This terrible decree
caused the greatest consternation among the Christians. Many, especially
of the rich, readily ran to the altars and offered the required
sacrifices. Yes, so great was their fear of man that they denied ever
having been Christians at all. Others, in spite of tortures, remained
steadfast at first, but finally also denied their faith. However, there
were also such as remained firm in the faith and praised God who
considered them worthy to suffer death for Christ's sake.

The last and most frightful of all persecutions began under Emperor
_Diocletian_. The churches of the Christians were torn down, the
collections of Holy Scriptures were burned, and innumerable Christians
were tortured to death. They were left to starve in dungeons; they were
forced with bare feet to walk upon hot, burning coals, or sharp nails;
they were fastened to wooden machines by means of which their limbs were
torn from their bodies. The torturers tore their flesh with iron nails,
or covered them with honey, and laid them bound into the sun that they
might be stung to death by the flies. But many Christians suffered these
tortures with great firmness and could not be forced to forsake Christ.
The executioners, finally, became weary, their swords grew dull,
and--the church of the Lord remained unconquerable.

[Illustration: Christians Suffering Death in the Circus.]

2. IGNATIUS. Ignatius was a disciple of the apostles and presided over a
flourishing congregation at Antioch. Emperor Trajan demanded of him to
deny his Savior and sacrifice to the gods. But he declared that the gods
of the heathen were vanities. He said, "There is but one God, who has
made heaven and earth, and one Christ, whose kingdom is my inheritance."
Because of this confession he was taken to Rome and suffered martyrdom.
He listened to his death sentence with composure, even with joy; he
desired to depart and to be with Christ. He wrote concerning his
journey: "From Syria to Rome I fought with wild beasts who became the
more enraged the more benefits were bestowed upon them. However, let
them throw me into the fire, let them nail me to the cross, let them
tear my limbs from my body--what is all that, if I may enjoy Jesus!" How
joyfully he met death can be seen from the words he addressed to the
Romans: "I am seeking Him who died for us; He is my gain that has been
preserved for me. Let me follow the sufferings of my God; my love is
crucified; I long for the bread of God, for the flesh of Jesus Christ."
To the Christians who attempted to have him set at liberty he wrote:
"Do not trouble yourselves on my account; it is better for me to die for
Christ's sake than to rule over the kingdoms of this world. I am God's
wheat, and am to be ground by the wild beasts in order to become pure
bread. What of it if the beasts become my grave--thus I trouble no one
in my death." Upon his arrival in Rome he was delivered to the Governor.
A few days thereafter he was thrown to the wild beasts, who fell upon
him and tore him to pieces, while the assembled heathen witnessed the
frightful spectacle with fiendish delight. His remaining bones were
gathered by his faithful servants and laid to rest in Antioch.

3. POLYCARP. He was a disciple of St. John, and, later on, became bishop
of Smyrna, in Asia Minor. Under Marcus Aurelius he suffered martyrdom at
the stake. Polycarp, listening to the entreaties of his congregation,
who would gladly have saved him from his persecutors, fled to a country
seat. His abode was soon betrayed, and he was delivered to his captors
who found him engaged in prayer with several friends. Noticing that the
house was surrounded, he said, "The Lord's will be done!" Thereupon he
invited his enemies in, received them in the most hospitable manner, and
asked them to grant him one hour for prayer. With so much earnestness he
prayed to his Savior that even the heathen were touched by his devotion.
He was led back to the city on an ass. There he was at first kindly
urged to sacrifice to the gods, but he replied, "I will not follow your
advice." At sight of the aged man (he was ninety years old) the Governor
was touched and said to him, "Consider your great age. Swear by the
emperor, deny Christ, and I will release you!" Polycarp exclaimed: "For
eighty-six years I have served Him, and He has done me no ill; how can I
now denounce my King and my Savior?" The Governor said, "I will throw
you to the wild beasts, or I will force you by fire, if you do not
change your mind!" Polycarp replied, "You threaten me with the fire
that burns for a short time and is soon extinguished, because you do not
know the fire of the coming judgment which is in store for the wicked.
Why do you hesitate?" When hereupon the herald in the arena announced,
"Polycarp confesses himself to be a Christian," the entire multitude
cried, "To the lions with Polycarp!" But he was condemned to die at the
stake, and at once the enraged people on all sides gathered fagots for
the burning. Polycarp now took off his own clothes, loosed his own
girdle, and even tried to take off his own shoes. His prayer, not to
nail him to the stake, was granted. Firm and immovable he stood against
the erected pole and praised God with a loud voice. The pile was
kindled. But it is reported that the fire would not touch this faithful
witness of the Lord. The flames surrounded him, as sails caught by the
wind, and his body shone like gold and silver that is being refined in
the oven. As his body was not consumed the executioner thrust his sword
into his breast, and the corpse fell into the fire. The members of his
sorrowing congregation piously gathered his remains and interred them.

4. PERPETUA. In the beginning of the third century the Christians were
fiercely persecuted in Northern Africa. Among the prisoners at Carthage
there was a young woman of noble birth, Perpetua. She was the mother of
a nursing child. Her heathen father took the greatest pains to persuade
his daughter to forsake Christ. In pleading accents he begged her, "My
daughter, have pity upon my gray hairs. Oh, pity your father, if I have
ever been worthy of this name! Take pity on your child which cannot
survive you. Can nothing move you, my daughter? If you perish we will be
disgraced before all men!" In saying this her father kissed her hands
and fell down at her feet. But Perpetua did not deny the Lord; she
remained firm and resisted all temptations in the strength of Him whom
we are to love more than father or mother. On the day before her
execution she celebrated the customary love feast with her fellow
prisoners, and to the gazing heathen she declared, "Look straight into
our faces, that you may know us on the day of judgment!" Filled with
consternation and shame, many of the heathen walked away and were
converted.--The day of her deliverance approached; the fights with the
wild beasts began. Perpetua, together with her maid Felicitas, was
thrown to a wild cow, which at once tossed them to the ground. To her
brother who stood near she cried, "Abide in the faith, love one another,
and do not let my sufferings frighten you!" Finally, she received the
death blow at the hands of a gladiator. Thus she entered into glory, and
received the crown of life at His hands to whom she proved faithful unto


Constantine and the Spreading of Christianity in Germany.

1. CONSTANTINE. After many anxious years a time of refreshing peace
finally came for the Christians. For by God's wonderful providence a man
kindly disposed toward the Christians ascended the Roman throne. This
was Emperor Constantine. His father had already been a friend of the
Christians, and his mother had even accepted the faith. After his
father's death, Constantine was proclaimed Emperor by the army. This was
in the summer of 306. When, in 312, he marched against Maxentius, who
had disputed his power in Italy, he called upon the God of the
Christians for help against his opponent. The opposing forces met in the
vicinity of Rome. While the sun was setting, it is reported that
Constantine saw in the heavens a cross bearing the bright inscription:
_In hoc signo vinces_, _i. e._, "You will conquer in this sign!" He at
once had the eagles removed from the standards, and had them replaced by
the sign of the cross. Hereupon his army marched from victory to victory
till the power of his enemy was completely broken. And from this time
Constantine became a zealous protector of the Christian church. He
published a law permitting every Roman citizen to become a Christian. He
even went so far as to make the Christian religion the religion of the
state. He favored the Christians by appointing them to high public
offices. Sad to say, this increased the number of those who accepted
Christianity for the sake of worldly gain. The church now, indeed, had
rest from without. But Satan tried to ruin it by false doctrine. A
bishop, named Arius, arose and taught: "Christ is not true God, but only
a creature." Constantine then called a church council to assemble at
Nice, in Asia Minor, in 325 A. D. Three hundred and eighteen bishops
assembled there with him. In the discussions which followed Athanasius,
a deacon, and afterwards bishop, of Alexandria, took a most prominent
part. With irresistible eloquence he effected the overthrow of the false
doctrine of Arius and the victorious establishment of saving truth.
Constantine died on Pentecost Day, 337, having been baptized a short
time before. In compliance with his last wish he was buried in the
Church of the Apostles, at Constantinople.

the light of saving truth was to shine over Germany and dispel the night
of heathenish darkness. For some time already the Gospel had been
carried to Germany by Christian merchants and Roman prisoners, and thus
it came to pass that at isolated places Christian congregations were
founded; but the real spreading of Christianity began in the sixth
century through missionaries from Ireland and England.--Among the first
to visit Germany was the Irish monk _Fridolin_. Together with his
companions he arrived in the Black Forest among the Alemanni. With
visible success he preached the Gospel to these children of the forest.
He died in 550, and was succeeded by _Columban_, who, together with
twelve disciples, brought the message of salvation in Christ to the
inhabitants of the present Alsatia. But meeting with much opposition he
fled to Switzerland, and then to Italy, where he died in 615, a true
Christian to the last.--His pupil _Gallus_ had remained in Switzerland
and there had founded the farfamed cloister St. Gallus. Here he labored
with signal blessing for the spreading of Christianity among the Swiss
and Suabian tribes, until, in 640, the Lord called him to his reward.

Besides these messengers of the faith others also preached the Gospel in
Germany, _Emeran_ in Bavaria, _Kilian_ in Wuertemberg. The latter
suffered martyrdom with his followers in 685. Twenty years after
Kilian's death the English Presbyter _Willibrod_, with eleven
assistants, went to the Frisians. At first the heathen king Radbod
offered stubborn resistance, but in time he had Willibrod to baptize his
own son. And after the king's death the mission work met with great
success. Because of the multitude of fish Willibrod could scarcely haul
in the net. After fifty years of faithful labor he died as bishop of
Utrecht, in the year 739. These and other missionaries were the real
apostles of Germany, and independent of Rome. Through their labors
congregations were founded and flourished everywhere.

Before long, however, a man came to Germany who subjugated the German
church to the Pope. This was Winifred, also called _Boniface_. He
carried on his work mainly in Thuringia, Hessia, Bavaria, and Frisia. In
755, together with his companions, he was slain by the heathen Frisians.
The most stubborn resistance to Christianity was offered by the Saxons.
Only after thirty years of continuous warfare were they finally
conquered by Charles the Great, and the Gospel gained a foothold amongst
them.--Thus the Gospel of Christ sped from people to people, and in the
year 1000 great numbers everywhere in Germany confessed Christ Jesus and
Him crucified.


Popery and Monkery.

1. THE ORIGIN OF POPERY. When, in the course of time, the Christian
church continued to expand, it became necessary for the larger
congregations to engage more than one pastor. An immediate consequence
was that one of them attained to higher eminence and was called the
bishop by preference. Great deference was especially paid to the bishops
of Rome, of Jerusalem, of Alexandria, of Antioch, and of Constantinople.
The smaller congregations frequently sought their advice and requested
their decision in difficult matters. But the power and the authority of
the Roman bishops soon outstripped that of the rest. In consequence of
this they assumed a haughty demeanor, exalted themselves above the other
bishops, and, finally, arrogated to themselves the position of supreme
judges in the Church of God, and grew very indignant if any one dared to
dispute their authority. They now claimed that Peter had founded the
congregation at Rome and had presided over it for some time as its
bishop; that he had been the chief of the apostles, the authorized
viceregent of Christ upon earth, and that his successors, the bishops of
Rome, had inherited these powers from him. Although these arrogant
claims were by no means generally admitted, yet the Roman bishop
succeeded in enforcing his demands. He was pleased to have himself
called "_Papa_," or "Pope." The Western bishops finally submitted and
acknowledged him to be the supreme head of the church. In the East,
however, the bishop of Constantinople was accorded the highest rank.
Both bishops now fought for the supremacy in the church, and as neither
would submit to the other a schism resulted. There arose the Roman
Catholic and the Greek Catholic church, and this division remains to the
present day.

When, in 752, Pipin, the king of the Franks, presented to the Pope a
large territory in Central Italy, the Pope became a temporal prince.
From now on the Popes continually sought to increase their temporal
power and speak the decisive word in the councils of the mighty of this
earth. The man who raised popery to the highest pinnacle of its power
was Pope Gregory VII, formerly a monk called Hildebrand, the son of an
artisan. In 1073 he ascended the papal throne. He forbade the priests to
marry, and demanded that all bishops, who at that time were also
temporal princes, should receive their office and their possessions,
even their temporal power, not from their worldly overlords, but from
his hands. He asserted: "As the moon receives its light from the sun, so
emperors and princes receive their power from the Pope. The Pope is the
viceregent of Christ upon earth, where the mighty of this world owe him
obedience; he alone has the right and the power to appoint them to
office, or to depose them." Gregory died 1085. His successors accepted
his principles. Thus Innocent III demeaned himself as the absolute
spiritual lord and master over all Christian princes and kings, and
forced them to submit to his power. Then the word of Holy Scriptures,
concerning the Roman Popes, came to pass, 2 Thess. 2, 4: "Who opposeth
and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped;
so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he
is God."

2. THE FALSE DOCTRINES OF POPERY. Sad, indeed, grew the condition of the
church under the Popes. Many bishops and priests busied themselves more
with worldly affairs than with the Word of God and the welfare of the
church. The people were shamefully neglected. Generally speaking, they
had no schools, no books, and, especially, no Bibles. There was scarcely
any Christian knowledge, for the Word of the Lord was hidden in those
days. In consequence of this the saddest ignorance prevailed everywhere
among the common people. Such being the conditions, it was a small
matter for Satan to sow his tares among the wheat. With increasing
frequency false doctrines appeared in the church and displaced the Word
of God. For some time already mass had been celebrated instead of Holy
Communion. For the superstition had arisen, that Christ was sacrificed
anew by the priest when mass was celebrated on the altar. This false
doctrine was supported by the other superstition that through his
consecration the priest changed the bread and the wine into the real
body and blood of Christ. Because they feared that the blood of Christ
might be spilled they denied the cup to the laity, and thus mutilated
the Lord's Supper.

Early in its history popery invented the doctrine that the departed
souls went to purgatory, where, by intense suffering, they might be
cleansed from the dross of sin. However, it was held that the Pope and
the church had the power to shorten these pangs of purgatory by reading
countless masses. Whoever paid enough money was told that he need not
remain long in purgatory. This proved to be a profitable business for
the Pope. For many rich already in their lifetime set aside large sums
of money to pay for these masses.

Indulgence was another false doctrine. The Popes taught: The church
possesses an inexhaustible treasure in the merits of Christ and of the
saints. On this the Pope can draw at will for the benefit of the living
and of the dead, and with it forgive the sin of those who offer him
therefor sufficient money, or other equivalents. In the stead of
Christ's suffering and merit, which becomes ours alone through faith,
they substituted mere human works. Christ, our true Advocate, was thrust
aside, and the saints were called upon for their protection and
intercessions. The Virgin Mary, especially, became the refuge in time of
need, and this gave rise to the shameful "mariolatry." Nor did idolatry
stop here. Even pictures, statues, and real or supposed relics of the
saints were set up for worship and adoration. Thus was fulfilled the
word of Scriptures, 2 Thess. 2, 10. 11: "Because they received not the
love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God
shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie."

3. LIFE IN THE MONASTERIES. Already in the time of the great
persecutions many Christians had fled into the forests, caves, and among
the cliffs in order to spend their lives in pious meditation and
devotion. When, in the time after Constantine, the church grew more and
more worldly, the number of those increased who thought that they could
serve God better in quiet seclusion than amid the noise of a corrupt
world. These were the so-called hermits. As a rule, they led a life of
privations and self-inflicted tortures. In time, numbers of them united
and adopted certain rules and laws by which their communities were
governed. They also lived in their own buildings, called cloisters.
These were generally built in inhospitable regions. Whoever joined the
order had to forsake all his worldly possessions, and vow to lead a life
of celibacy and of absolute obedience to his superiors. These are the
so-called monastic vows.

This monastical life was regarded very highly by the people, and all
kinds of legacies added gradually to the lands and riches of the
cloisters. Their number increased rapidly; and in the twelfth century
there were thousands of them. The monks were the most zealous and the
most faithful tools of Antichrist, and everywhere endeavored to spread
the Pope's heresies. They incited the people to rebellion against their
lawful government and spied out and persecuted those who would no longer
submit to the Pope. But it was above all the halo of false holiness
which it possessed in the eyes of the people that made monkery such a
curse to the church. Men, women, and children ran into the cloister in
order to be sure of eternal life; for the delusive notion prevailed that
man could justify himself before God and be saved by his own works. And,
at that, they regarded the works commanded by God of little account,
esteeming their self-chosen, monkish practices of the highest
importance. Life in the monastery is, therefore, condemned by the words
of Christ: "In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men."


The Forerunners of the Reformation.

1. PETER WALDEN. Peter Walden, who was a rich and pious merchant of the
twelfth century, lived in Lyons, an important city in Southern France.
One day he was sitting at meal with his friends and conversing on the
evils of the time and the corruption of the church. Suddenly one of his
companions fell dead before their eyes. This occurrence made a deep
impression on Walden, and he sought now, more than ever before, the one
thing that is needful. Through diligent reading and study of Holy
Scriptures he came to a knowledge of the truth, and his heart was filled
with heavenly comfort and joy. The deeper he entered into the true
meaning of the Holy Scriptures the more he recognized the errors and the
decay of the Roman Catholic church. He saw that Christendom had departed
from the true way of salvation. He, therefore, felt constrained to bring
the sweet Gospel of Christ to lost souls. In 1170 he sold all his
possessions and traveled through the country, teaching and preaching. He
had the four Gospels translated into French and spread them among the
people. The scattered seed sprung up and bore rich fruit; for very soon
thousands wanted to hear of no other doctrine than the pure doctrine of
God's Word.

Walden and his adherents, called Waldensians, taught: "In all questions
pertaining to our salvation we dare trust no man or book, but must
believe the Holy Scriptures only. There is but one mediator; the saints
must not be worshiped; purgatory is a fable invented by men. There are
but two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper." Their life conformed
so well to their doctrine that King Lewis of France exclaimed: "Truly,
these heretics are better than I and all my people!" The following is
another beautiful testimony for the Waldensians: "They lead a purer life
than other Christians. They do not swear, except necessity demands it,
and beware of taking God's name in vain. They keep their promises
faithfully; they are truthful in their words and live peacefully
together in brotherly love."

But the more their doctrine and life testified of their faith, the more
the hatred against them increased. Peter Walden was forbidden to preach
or explain the Scriptures, and when, in spite of this, he continued to
sow the seed of the Word of God, he was excommunicated by the Pope. He
fled from one place to another, and everywhere proclaimed the Gospel
with signal blessing. His followers were most cruelly persecuted by the
Roman church, which used every means to destroy them. About a million of
them were slain in continuous wars of persecution. Seven thousand were
slaughtered in a church at one time. A judge in Spain had 10,000 of them
burned alive and imprisoned 97,000 who perished enduring the most
frightful tortures. But in spite of fire and sword they could not be
extirpated, and exist unto this day. Removed from the markets of the
world, and distant from the great highways, the descendants of the
Waldensians live in the unapproachable mountain glens of Savoy and

2. JOHN WYCLIF. John Wyclif was Doctor and Professor of Theology at the
University of Oxford. He directed his attacks chiefly against monkery,
and unsparingly denounced the idling, the begging, and the perversion of
religion by the monks. They therefore entered complaint against him with
the Archbishop, and Wyclif was deposed from his chair at the university.
From now on he testified even more decidedly against the errors and
abuses of popery. He maintained: "The Roman church is not superior to
the other churches; Peter had no preeminence over the other apostles,
and the Pope, as far as his power to forgive sins is concerned, is but
the equal of every other pastor." He spoke very emphatically against
indulgence, against the adoration of relics, and reproved the popular
errors by which the poor souls were deceived. Wyclif was now denounced
as a heretic at the court of the Pope, but his eloquent and masterful
defense at the trial procured his release. He translated the Bible into
English and taught pious men to preach the Gospel to the people. He died
in 1384 at Lutterworth, where he had been pastor. His numerous writings
were spread by his followers throughout all Europe, and especially
Bohemia, where they bore rich fruit. But the hatred against Wyclif did
not cease with his death. In compliance with an order of the Council of
Constance, where his doctrines were condemned, his bones were exhumed,
burned, and the ashes thrown into the river.

[Illustration: John Huss.]

3. JOHN HUSS. Huss was born in 1369 at Hussinecz, in Bohemia. Through
reading the Holy Scriptures and the writings of Wyclif he came to a
knowledge of the truth and boldly lifted his voice against the errors
and abuses prevalent in the church. He preached against indulgences,
purgatory, and the ungodly life of the priests. Thereby he became an
object of hatred to the Pope. He was soon excommunicated by the Pope,
and when he continued to preach in Prague, where he was pastor, and was
supported by that city, it was also placed under the ban. The churches
were closed, the bells were silent, the dead were denied Christian
burial, Baptisms and marriages could only be performed in the

Huss was cited to appear at the council to be held at Constance.
Although Emperor Sigismund promised him safe-conduct, nevertheless Huss
undertook the journey to Constance foreboding no good. And indeed, in
spite of the safe-conduct, he was taken and thrown into a foul prison
immediately upon his arrival. When Sigismund expressed his disapproval
the monks told him that faith need not be kept with a heretic. Huss
defended himself before the council with great steadfastness, and as he
would not recant he was condemned to die at the stake. He was deposed
from the priesthood and made an object of ridicule and scorn. On his
head was placed a paper cap painted with numerous devils who were
tormenting a poor sinner. He was led out to execution, and on the way
frequently called upon the Savior for mercy. He was then chained to an
upright pole, and hay and straw, saturated with pitch, were piled about
him. Once more he was tempted to recant and thus to save his life. But
Huss remained faithful. Now the flames surrounded him. The smoke curled
above him. "Christ, Thou Lamb of God, have mercy upon me!" the faithful
witness sang twice with a loud and clear voice. But when he began the
third verse, he was overcome by smoke and flames and gave up the ghost.
It is reported that while at the stake he prophesied: "To-day you are
roasting a goose, but after a hundred years a swan will come, which ye
will not roast."

4. JEROME SAVONAROLA. In Italy a man arose who was to startle the proud
Pope and his priests out of their security. This was Jerome Savonarola.
The misery and the corruption in the church had driven him into the
cloister. Through the Word of God he learned the truth, and then
publicly denounced the depravity of his time. He was an eloquent and
passionate preacher. He cried out: "Before long the sword of the Lord
will come over Italy and over all the earth, and then the church will be
renewed!" The Pope of that time lived in the grossest vices. Rome was
the hotbed of all sins and crimes. Savonarola complained: "The poison is
heaped up at Rome to such an extent that it infects France, and Germany,
and all the world. Things have come to such a pass that we must warn
everyone against Rome. Rome has perverted the whole of Scriptures!"

By the Pope he was anathematized, and by the temporal court condemned to
die at the stake. With two of his companions he was to be hanged on the
gallows, and then their corpses were to be burned. Savonarola
entertained the sure hope that judgment would come upon Rome, and the
Lord would renew the corrupt church. He said: "Rome will not be able to
quench this fire, and if it is quenched God will light another; aye, it
is kindled already in many places, but they do not know it. Before long
the desolation and idolatry of the Roman Pope will be reproved, and a
teacher will be born whom no one can resist." On Ascension Day, May 23,
1498, with cheerful resignation, he met death at the hand of the


Luther's Childhood.

1. LUTHER IN THE HOUSE OF HIS PARENTS. When Savonarola breathed his last
in the Market Place at Florence, God had already chosen His servant who
was to destroy the tyranny of the Pope. The swan, prophesied by Huss,
appeared. For on November 10, 1483, a son had been born to poor peasants
in Eisleben, at the foot of the Hartz Mountains. Already on the
following day he was baptized, and received the name Martin, in honor of
the saint to whom this day was sacred. His parents were Hans and
Margaret Luther. They came from the village Moehra, having emigrated to
Eisleben. When Martin was six months old they moved to the neighboring
town Mansfeld, where his father hoped to support his family by working
in the mines. Luther said of his ancestors: "I am the son of a peasant;
my father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather were all industrious
peasants. Later on my father moved to Mansfeld, where he worked in the
mines." Again he said: "My parents, at first, were very poor. My father
was a poor miner, and my mother often carried the wood upon her back in
order to raise us children. They endured many hardships for our sake."

The child was a great joy to its parents, and they loved it dearly. The
father would often step to the cradle and pray loud and fervently that
God would grant grace to his son that, mindful of his name, he might
become a true Luther and live a pure and sincere life. From earliest
childhood both parents trained their boy to fear God and love all that
is good. Parental discipline, however, was most severe, and tended to
make Luther a very timid child. In later years he said: "My father once
chastised me so severely that I fled from him and avoided him until he
won me to himself again." And of his mother he said: "For the sake of an
insignificant nut my mother once whipped me till the blood came. But
their intentions were the best." Luther at all times gratefully
acknowledged this.

2. LUTHER AT SCHOOL. Little Martin was not yet five years of age when,
followed by the prayers of his parents, he was brought to the school at
Mansfeld. This school was situated upon a hillside, in the upper part of
the city, and quite a distance from the boy's home. In inclement
weather, when the road was bad, he was often carried there by his father
or by Nicolas Oemler. Here he zealously learned the Ten Commandments,
the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer; he was also instructed in reading,
writing, and the principles of Latin grammar. The school even surpassed
his home in the severity of its discipline. The schoolmaster was one of
those incapable men that treated his children as hangmen and bailiffs
treat their prisoners. In one forenoon Luther received fifteen
whippings. Such tyrannical treatment filled him and his fellow pupils
with fear and timidity.

The religious instruction which he received also served to intimidate
and terrify him. He scarcely learned more than popish superstition and
idolatry. True, at Christmas time the church sang: "A Child so fair is
born for us to-day," but instead of the glad tidings: "Unto you is born
this day in the city of David a Savior," hell-fire was preached in the
school. Luther says: "From youth I was trained to turn pale at the very
mention of Christ's name, for I was instructed to regard Him as a severe
and angry judge. We were all taught that we had to atone for our own
sins, and because we could not do this we were directed to the saints in
heaven and advised to invoke dear Mother Mary to pacify the wrath of
Christ and obtain mercy for us."


Luther's Student Days.

1. LUTHER IN MAGDEBURG. When Luther was fourteen years of age he bade
farewell to his parents and home and, with his friend Hans Reinecke,
went to Magdeburg; for his father wished to give him a thorough
education. Having received no spending money from home, they were forced
to live upon the alms gathered on the way from charitable hands. In
Magdeburg Luther attended the high school, a noted school of that day.
But here, as everywhere, the false doctrines of popery prevailed, and
the sweet comfort of the Gospel was not preached. The poor pupils were
directed to perform such works and penances as the Roman church
considered meritorious. Luther relates the following incident as
illustrating the monastic sanctity of those days: "With these my eyes I
saw a Prince of Anhalt in a friar's cowl begging for bread in the
streets, and bending under the sack like an ass. He looked like a
specter, nothing but skin and bones. Whoever saw him smacked with
devotion and had to be ashamed with his secular calling."--In bodily
things also little Martin had to endure much hardship. It is true, lodge
and shelter were supplied by the city, and the instruction, given by the
monks, was free of charge, but the pupils themselves had to provide
their support. Because of his father's poverty Luther received but
little assistance from home and was compelled to sing for his daily
bread at the doors of the citizens. He relates the following story of
his experiences at that time: "During the Christmas holidays we made
excursions into the neighboring villages and sang at the doors the
Christmas carols in four parts in order to obtain our living. At one
time a peasant came out of his house and called to us in a rough tone of
voice, 'Boys, where are you?' This so terrified us that we scattered in
all directions. We were so frightened that we did not notice the sausage
in his hand, and it required no little coaxing to recall us."

While at Magdeburg Luther was taken sick with a violent and distressing
fever. Although he suffered great thirst he was forbidden to drink
water. But on a certain Friday, when all had gone to church, his thirst
became so unendurable that he crept upon his hands and knees into the
kitchen, seized a vessel filled with fresh water, and drank it with
great relish. Then he dragged himself back to his bed, went soundly to
sleep, and when he awoke the fever was gone.--Lack of support forced him
to leave Magdeburg at the end of the year.

2. LUTHER IN EISENACH. After a short stay under the parental roof Luther
complied with the wish of his parents and attended the high school at
Eisenach. His mother had many relatives there, and hoped that they would
do something for poor Martin. But these hopes were disappointed, and,
therefore, at Eisenach also he lived in great poverty. Again he had to
gain his daily bread by singing and saying prayers before the houses.
The gifts so received were called particles, that is, crumbs. In
after-years Luther said: "I have also been such a beggar of 'particles,'
taking my bread at the doors, especially in Eisenach, my beloved city."
At times, however, his poverty so depressed him that he determined to
return to his parents and help his father in the mines. But at last God
graciously provided for him. For some time already his earnest singing
and praying had won for him the heart of a pious matron, Frau Cotta. One
day, therefore, when, together with other scholars, he was again singing
at her door she took him into her house and gave him a place at her
table. Thus by God's wonderful providence he was relieved of this care
for his daily bread and could now joyfully devote himself entirely to
his studies. Luther never forgot his benefactress, Mrs. Cotta, and in
later years, when her son studied at Wittenberg, he received him into
his house.

[Illustration: Frau Cotta Taking Luther into Her Home.]

Luther delighted in attending the Latin school at Eisenach. He was
especially fond of the principal of the school, John Trebonius, who
treated his scholars with the greatest love and consideration. Upon
entering the schoolroom he would remove his academical cap, and did not
replace it till he had taken his seat at the desk. To the other teachers
he said, "Among these young pupils sit some of whom God may make our
future mayors, chancellors, learned doctors, and rulers. Although you do
not know them now, it is proper that you should honor them." Luther
outranked all his fellow pupils, and when, at one time, the celebrated
Professor Trutvetter of Erfurt visited Eisenach Luther, being the most
fluent Latin orator of the school, was called upon to deliver the
address of welcome. After the reception Trutvetter said to Trebonius,
"Sir, you have a good school here. It is in excellent condition. Keep an
eye on that Luther. There is something in that boy. By all means,
prepare him for the university and send him to us at Erfurt." Thereupon
he patted Luther on the back and said, "My son, the Lord has bestowed
special gifts upon thee; use them faithfully in His service. When thou
art ready and wishest to come to us at Erfurt remember that thou hast a
good friend there, Doctor Jodocus Trutvetter. Appeal to him, he will
give thee a friendly reception."

3. LUTHER IN ERFURT. At the expiration of four years Luther finished his
studies at Eisenach and, in 1501, seventeen years of age, he
matriculated at the celebrated university at Erfurt, where he found a
fatherly friend in Trutvetter. God had now so blessed his father's
persevering diligence and economy that Luther had to suffer no want at
Erfurt. In later years Luther said in praise of his father: "He
supported me at the University of Erfurt with great love and fidelity,
and by his arduous labor he helped me to attain my present position."
His father wished Martin to become a jurist, wherefore Luther zealously
devoted himself to the study of jurisprudence. Although he was naturally
of a wide-awake and cheerful disposition he, nevertheless, began his
studies every morning with fervent prayers and attendance at mass. His
motto was: Diligent prayer is the half of study. Here at Erfurt, in the
library, he found the book of all books, the Bible, which he had never
seen before. He was surprised to see that it contained more than the
Epistles and Gospels which were usually read at church. While turning
the leaves of the Old Testament he happened upon the story of Samuel and
Hannah. He read it hurriedly with great interest and joy, and wished
that God might some day give him such a book and make of him such a
pious Samuel. This wish was abundantly fulfilled--it is true, after
enduring manifold tribulations and trials.

While at the university Luther was seized with a severe illness and he
thought he was about to die. An old priest came to see him and comforted
him with these words: "My dear bachelor, be of good cheer. You will not
die of this illness. God will yet make a great man of you, who will
comfort many people. For whom God loveth and whom He would make a
blessing to his fellow men, upon him He early lays the cross; for in the
school of affliction patient people learn much." Luther, however, soon
forgot this comfort. Not long after this, while on a journey to his home
with a companion, and not far from Erfurt, he accidentally ran his
rapier, which after the custom of the students hung at his side, into
his leg, severing the main artery. His friend hurried back to call a
physician. In the mean time Luther endeavored to stanch the flow of
blood lying on his back, compressing the wound. But the limb swelled
frightfully, and Luther, beset with mortal fear, cried out, "Mary, help
me!" In the following night the wound began to bleed afresh, and again
he called upon Mary only. Later in life he said: "At that time, I would
have died trusting in Mary." Not long after, death suddenly robbed him
of a good friend, and this also tended to increase his melancholy. In
such periods of depression he would often exclaim, "Oh, when wilt thou
become really pious and atone for thy sins, and obtain the grace of
God?" With increasing power he then heard a voice within him saying:
Over there rise the peaceful walls of the Augustinian cloister; they are
beckoning you and saying, Come to us! Here, separated from the noise of
the world, your trembling soul will find rest and peace. What was he to
do?--For the sake of recreation Luther, in 1505, paid a visit to his
parents. Upon his return, in the vicinity of Erfurt, a terrible storm
suddenly broke upon him. The lightning, followed by a fearful crash of
thunder, struck close beside him, and, overcome and stunned, he fell to
the ground, crying out, "Help, dear St. Ann, I will immediately become a
monk!" For it was only in this manner that he hoped to appease God and
to find peace and rest for his soul.


Luther in the Cloister.

1. ENTRANCE INTO THE CLOISTER. Luther erroneously felt himself bound in
conscience to keep his vow, and therefore, on July 15, 1505, once more
invited his intimate friends to meet him, in order to bid them farewell.
They passed the time with song and instrumental music. As Luther seemed
to be happy and in the best of spirits no one dreamed of what was
passing in his soul. But before his friends parted from him he informed
them of his intention. At first they thought he was joking, and laughed
at him. But when Luther once more solemnly declared, "To-day you see me,
and never again," they urgently besought him to give up his resolution.
All their endeavors, however, were in vain, Luther remained firm. On the
evening of the 17th of July, therefore, they weepingly escorted him to
the gate of the Augustinian cloister within whose dark walls Luther now
sought rest and peace for his soul. When his father was subsequently
asked to give his consent he became very indignant that his son had
entered the cloister. On a later occasion, when Hans Luther paid his son
a visit at Erfurt and those about him praised his present monastic
state, the father said: "God grant that it may not be a deception and
Satanic illusion. Why, have you not heard that parents should be obeyed,
and that nothing should be undertaken without their knowledge and
advice?" After some time, however, he was somewhat pacified by his
friends and said, "Let it pass; God grant that good may come of it."

[Illustration: Luther Entering the Cloister.]

2. DISAPPOINTMENTS IN THE CLOISTER. Luther was scrupulously exact in the
performance of every work and penance prescribed by the cloister. He
acted as doorkeeper, set the clock, swept the church, yes, he was even
compelled to remove the human filth. The greatest hardship for him,
however, was to travel the streets of the city with a bag, begging for
alms. The monks told him, "It is begging, not studying, that enriches
the cloister." And yet Luther found time for diligent study of the
Bible. He learned to know the page and exact place of every verse of
the Scriptures, and he even committed to memory many passages from the
prophets, although he did not understand them at that time. The prior of
the cloister, Dr. John Staupitz, came to love him, released him from
menial labors, and encouraged him to continue in the diligent study of
Holy Scriptures. Others thought different and said to Luther, "Why,
Brother Martin, what is the Bible! You ought to read the old fathers,
they have extracted the substance of truth from the Bible. The Bible
causes all disturbances."

Thus Luther soon learned that the piety of most monks was nothing but
pretense. In later years he wrote: "The monks are a lazy, idle people.
The greatest vanity is found in the cloisters. They are servants of
their bellies, and filthy swine." But if others sought carnal lust in
the cloister Luther led a most rigid and holy life. In the simplicity of
his heart he sincerely worshiped the Pope. He regarded Huss as a
terrible heretic, and he considered the very thought of him a great sin.
And yet he could not resist the temptation to read this heretic's
sermons. He confessed: "I really found so much in them that I was filled
with consternation at the thought that such a man had been burned at the
stake who could quote the Scriptures with so much faith and power. But
because his name was held in such horrible execration I closed the book
and went away with a wounded heart."

In 1507 Luther was ordained to the priesthood, which made him very
happy, for he supposed that now, as a priest, he could please God with
greater and more glorious works. So thoroughly was Luther enslaved in
the bondage of popery. Who could break these fetters? By his own works
Luther endeavored to gain the grace of God. Day and night he tortured
and tormented himself with fasting and prayers, with singing and
studying, hard bedding, freezing, and vigils, with groanings and
weepings. He wanted to take heaven by storm. He could afterward
truthfully say: "It is true, I was a pious monk, and if ever a monk
could have gained heaven by his monkery I would have gained it. If it
had lasted any longer I would have tortured myself to death with vigils,
prayers, reading, and other works." The peace of his soul, however,
which he had not found in the world he found just as little in the
cloister with all his works. Later on he describes his condition at that
time in the following words: "Hangman and devil were in our hearts, and
nothing but fear, trembling, horror, and disquiet tortured us day and

3. LUTHER FINDS COMFORT. Staupitz one day found Luther in great distress
of spirit and said to him, "Ah, you do not know how salutary and
necessary such trials are for you; without them nothing good would
become of you. For God does not send them to you in vain. You will see
that He will use you for great things." At another time Luther
complained, "O my sin, my sin, my sin!" when Staupitz told him, "Christ
is the forgiveness for REAL sins. He is a _real_ Savior and you are a
_real_ sinner. God has sent His own Son and delivered Him up for us."
When, because of great anxiety for his sins, he became sick, an old
friar comforted him with these words, "I believe in the forgiveness of
sin," and explained these words to mean: "It is not enough that you
believe God forgives sins in general, for the devils also believe that.
You must believe that your sins, your sins, your sins are forgiven. For
man is justified by grace through faith." So, even at that time, a ray
of light fell into Luther's soul benighted with the darkness of popery,
and from this time on his favorite passage remained Romans 3, 28:
"Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the
deeds of the Law."


Luther as Teacher.

spent in this cloister Luther was called upon the stage where his battle
with popery was to be fought. In 1502 Elector Frederick of Saxony had
founded the University of Wittenberg. He charged Staupitz with the
selection of learned and able men for this school. One of those
recommended for his learning and piety was the well-known Augustinian
monk Luther, who now became professor at Wittenberg. As Staupitz urged
him to remove at once to Wittenberg, Luther did not even find time to
bid farewell to his friends at Erfurt. Moving caused him little trouble,
for a begging friar has few possessions. And thus, on an autumn day of
the year 1508, we see the pale and emaciated form of the 25 year old
monk traveling the road from Erfurt and entering Wittenberg by the
wooden bridge. He hurried through the long street to the Augustinian
cloister, where he found shelter and lodging.

[Illustration: Elector Frederick the Wise.]

2. LUTHER AS PROFESSOR AND PREACHER. In obedience to his superiors
Luther at first lectured on philosophy although he would have preferred
to teach theology. And this wish of his heart was soon granted. Already
in 1509 he received permission to expound the Scriptures to the
students. With joyful devotion he gave himself up to the study of the
Bible and diligently searched for the ground of salvation. And, indeed,
he very soon created such a sensation that Dr. Mellrichstadt exclaimed,
"That monk will confound all the doctors, and introduce a new doctrine,
and reform the whole Roman church, for he devotes himself to the
writings of the prophets and apostles, and stands upon the Word of Jesus
Christ." Thus God had led Luther to the Scriptures, and he made them his
guiding star. He felt that they alone could give him what he sought:
truth and peace. Staupitz also tried to persuade him to preach, but
Luther at first lacked courage. Finally, however, he consented and
preached the Word of Christ in the little chapel of the cloister. Its
appearance was very similar to the pictures which the artists paint of
the stable at Bethlehem in which Christ was born. In such a poor, little
church that man began to preach who was to thrill countless souls and
point the way to true peace. Very soon citizens and students gathered in
such numbers to hear him that the church could not hold them. He was
then called to the large parish church of Wittenberg, whose doors were
now thrown open to him. Here he had abundant opportunity to preach the
Word of Life in his powerful sermons to many thousands of hearers.

3. LUTHER IN ROME. By the study of the Bible and diligent preparation
for his sermons Luther steadily grew in the knowledge of divine truth,
and yet he was firmly held in the bondage of popery. He still considered
the Pope the viceregent of Christ upon earth. When he was therefore
directed to visit Rome in the interest of his order it filled his heart
with greatest joy. For he hoped by this visit to the holy (?) city to
find rest and comfort for his conscience. He had to make the journey on
foot, and he took the pilgrim staff in hand, and together with a
companion started out for Rome. They had no need of money, for shelter
and lodging they found in the cloisters by the way. But Luther did not
enjoy the journey, for the words kept ringing in his ears: "The just
shall live by his faith." After a long journey through beautiful
landscapes the way finally wound about a hillock, and before the eyes of
the German monks lay the Roman plain where, on the banks of the Tiber,
appeared the resplendent houses, churches, and fortresses of the city of
Rome. How his heart must have leaped when, in the radiant glow of the
evening sun, the city lay before him! He prostrated himself upon the
ground, lifted his hands, and exclaimed, "Hail, holy Rome! Thrice holy
because of the martyrs' blood that was shed in thee!"--In Rome Luther
devoutly sought to satisfy the cravings of his heart. With what
sincerity he went about this we see from his own words: "In Rome I was
also such a crazy saint. I ran through all churches and caverns, and
believed every stinking lie that had been fabricated there. I even
regretted at the time that my father and mother were still living, for I
would have been so glad to have redeemed them from purgatory with my
masses and other precious works and prayers." How revolting it must have
been for him to see the priests read mass with such levity and get
through hurry-skurry (_rips-raps_), as if they were giving a puppet
show! Luther relates: "Before I reached the Gospel the priest beside me
had finished his mass and called to me, 'Hurry up! Come away! Give the
child back to its mother!'" So it happened that his faith in Rome began
to waver more and more, and God again and again led him there where true
comfort can be found. The following is an example. On the Place of St.
John's there was a flight of stairs, called Pilate's Staircase, which
was said to be the same on which our Savior went up and down before the
palace of Pontius Pilate at Jerusalem. Now, while Luther was crawling up
these steps, hoping in this way to reconcile God and atone for his sins,
it seemed to him as if a voice of thunder was crying in his ears, "The
just shall live by his faith!" Thus this passage more and more became
the light which revealed to him the true way to heaven. This was his
opinion of the so-called Holy City: "No one believes what villainy and
outrageous sins and vices are practiced at Rome. You can convince no one
that such great abominations occur there, if he has not seen and heard
and experienced it himself." Thus Luther learned to know popery itself
in Rome, and was, therefore, the better qualified to testify against it
later on. He said: "I would not for a thousand florins have missed
seeing Rome, for then I would always fear that I were wronging the Pope
and doing him an injustice; but now we speak that which we have seen."

4. LUTHER IS MADE DOCTOR OF DIVINITY. After his return to Wittenberg
Luther took up his work with renewed diligence. One day, while sitting
with Staupitz under the great pear tree in the cloister garden, his
superior took his hand and said, "Brother Martin, I and all the brethren
have concluded that you ought to become Doctor of Divinity." Luther was
frightened and excused himself because of his youth, his need of further
study, and, also, because of his weak and sickly body, and begged him to
select a man more qualified than he was. But when his paternal friend
continued to persuade him, he said, "Doctor Staupitz, you will take my
life; I will not stand it three months." To this prophecy of approaching
death Staupitz playfully remarked, "In God's name! Our Lord has
important business on hand; He needs able men also in heaven. Now, if
you die you must be His councilor up there." Finally, Luther submitted
to the will of his superior and, on the 18th of October, 1512, Dr.
Carlstadt with great solemnity bestowed upon him the degree of Doctor of
Divinity. How important this was Luther himself points out when he says:
"I, Doctor Martin, have been called and forced to become a doctor
without my choice, purely from obedience. I had to accept the degree of
doctor _and to swear and vow allegiance to my beloved Holy Bible, to
preach it faithfully and purely_." Luther, later on, often comforted
himself with this vow, when the devil and the world sought to terrify
him because he had created such a disturbance in Christendom.

Luther now devoted himself entirely to the study of the whole Bible, and
by the power of the Holy Spirit he soon learned to distinguish between
the Law and the Gospel. And it was only now that he clearly and fully
understood the passage: "The just shall live by his faith." With great
power he now confuted the error that man could merit forgiveness of sins
by his own good works, and be justified before God by his own piety and
civil righteousness. On the contrary, he clearly and pointedly showed
that our sins are forgiven without any merit of our own, for Christ's
sake only, and that we accept this gift by faith alone. He proved that
Scriptures alone can teach us to believe right, to live a Christian
life, and to die a blessed death. Thus the light of the Gospel grew
brighter and brighter in Wittenberg, and, after the long night and
darkness, the eyes of many were opened. The beautiful close of a letter
which Luther wrote in 1516 to an Augustinian monk is a proof of the
clear knowledge, which he already had at that time, of eternal and
saving truth. It reads: "My dear brother, learn to know Christ, the
Crucified; learn to sing to Him; and, despairing of thyself, say, 'Thou,
Lord Jesus Christ, art my righteousness, but I am Thy sin. Thou hast
taken upon Thyself what is mine, and hast given me what is Thine.'
Meditate devoutly upon this love of His, and thou wilt draw from it the
sweetest comfort. For if we could gain peace of conscience by our own
works and sufferings, why did He die? Therefore thou wilt find peace in
no other way but by confidently despairing of thyself and thy works, and
trusting in Him."


Luther the Reformer.

[Illustration: John Tetzel Selling Indulgences.]

1. PAPAL INDULGENCES. At that time the papal chair was occupied by Leo
X. What this Pope believed we may gather from his words addressed to one
of his bishops. He exclaimed, "What an immense sum have we made out of
this fable about Christ!" Luther relates this of him: "He would amuse
himself by having two clowns dispute before his table on the immortality
of the soul. The one took the positive, the other the negative side of
this question. The Pope said to him who defended the proposition,
'Although you have adduced good reasons and arguments, yet I agree with
him who is of the opinion that we die like the beasts; for your doctrine
makes us melancholy and sad, but his gives us peace of mind!'" In order
to raise the necessary funds for his pleasures and dissipations he
published a general indulgence, pretending that he needed money to
complete the building of St. Peter's at Rome. He commissioned Archbishop
Albert of Mayence to sell these indulgences in Germany. This dignitary
was also excessively fond of the pomp and pleasures of life. He was to
receive one-half the receipts of these indulgences. Albert, again,
engaged monks who were to travel about Germany and sell the papal

Chief among these pardon peddlers was John Tetzel. He was a most
impudent fellow who, because of his adulterous life, had at one time
been condemned to be drowned in a sack. For his services he received 80
florins, together with traveling expenses for himself and his servants,
and provender for three horses. These papal indulgences were held in
high esteem by the people, wherefore Tetzel was everywhere given a
pompous reception. Whenever he entered a town the papal bull was carried
before him upon a gilded cloth. All the priests, monks, councilmen,
schoolteachers, scholars, men, and women went out in procession with
candles, flags, and songs to meet him. The bells were tolled, the organs
sounded, and Tetzel was accompanied into the church, where a red cross
was erected bearing the Pope's coat of arms. In short, God Himself could
not have been given a grander reception. Once in church, Tetzel
eloquently extolled the miraculous power of the papal indulgences. He
preached: "Whoever buys a pardon receives not only the forgiveness of
his sins, but shall also escape all punishment in this life and in
purgatory." The forgiveness for sacrilege and perjury was sold for 9
ducats, adultery and witchcraft cost two. In St. Annaberg he promised
the poor miners, if they would freely buy his indulgence the mountains
round about the city would become pure silver. The Pope, he claimed, had
more power than all the apostles and saints, even more than the Virgin
Mary herself; for all of these were under Christ, while the Pope was
equal to Christ. The red cross with the papal arms erected in church was
declared to be as saving as the cross of Christ. Tetzel claimed to have
saved more souls with his indulgences than Peter with his sermons. He
had a little rhyme which ran: "As soon as the money rings in my chest,
From purgatory the soul finds rest." Furthermore, he proclaimed that the
grace offered by indulgences is the same grace by which man is
reconciled with God. According to his teaching contrition, sorrow, or
repentance for sin were unnecessary if his indulgences were bought.

2. CONSEQUENCES OF THIS PARDON-MONGERY. After Tetzel had carried on his
godless traffic at many places he also came to Jueterbock, in the
vicinity of Wittenberg. Thither the people hurried from the whole
neighborhood, and even from Wittenberg they came in crowds to buy
indulgences. Luther relates: "At that time I was preacher here in the
cloister, a young doctor, full of fire and handy at the Scriptures. Now,
when great multitudes ran from Wittenberg to buy indulgences at
Jueterbock and Zerbst, I began to preach very moderately that something
better could be done than buying indulgences; that he who repents
receives forgiveness of sins, gained by Christ's own sacrifice and
blood, and offered from pure grace, without money, and sold for
nothing." And when some of Luther's parishioners stubbornly declared
that they would not desist from usury, adultery, and other sins, nor
promise sincere repentance and improvement, he refused to absolve them.
When they appealed to the indulgences which they had bought from Tetzel,
Luther answered them: "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,"
Luke 13, 3. He now addressed an imploring petition to Albert of Mayence
and other bishops, to put a stop to Tetzel's blasphemous doings, but met
with no success. Tetzel himself threatened to accuse Luther of heresy,
and built a pile of fagots on which, he said, all those should be burned
who spoke against his indulgences.

[Illustration: Luther Nailing His Ninety-five Theses to the Castle
Church of Wittenberg.]

3. THE NINETY-FIVE THESES. It was on the 31st of October, 1517, when the
bells ringing from the steeple of the Castle Church at Wittenberg were
calling the multitude into the house of God. The crowds were gathering
in the long street, awaiting the beginning of the service which usually
preceded the festival of church dedication which occurred on All Saints'
Day. Suddenly a man hurriedly pressed through the waiting multitude;
lean and lank was his body, and pale his countenance, but his eyes
beamed with life and fire. He stepped up to the door of the Castle
Church, drew a paper from his dark monk's cowl, and with vigorous blows
of the hammer nailed it to the church door. At first his action was
noticed only by those standing near by. When, however, one of the
bystanders read the superscription which, translated into English,
reads: "Disputation concerning the power of indulgences. Out of love for
the truth and with a sincere desire to bring it to light, the following
propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, the Reverend Father Martin
Luther presiding. Those who cannot discuss the subject with us orally
may do so in writing. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!"--then
the cry was heard: "Up there! Read to us the tidings of the wonderful


     1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ in saying: "Repent ye," etc.,
     intended that the whole life of His believers should be repentance.

     32. Those who believe that through letters of pardon they may be
     sure of their salvation will go to hell, together with their

     36. Every Christian who truly repents of his sin has complete
     remission of all pain and guilt, and it is his without any letters
     of pardon.

     37. Every true Christian, living or dead, partakes of all the
     benefits of Christ and of the Church. God gives him this without
     letters of pardon.

     62. The true treasure of the Church is the holy Gospel of the glory
     and grace of God.

4. THE EFFECTS OF THE THESES. The action of the Augustinian monk created
everywhere the greatest excitement among the people. Luther's theses
spread with a rapidity truly marvelous for that time. In fourteen days
they had passed through all Germany, and in four weeks through all
Christendom. Verily, it seemed as if the angels themselves had been the
messengers. The theses were translated into other languages, and after
four years a pilgrim bought them in Jerusalem. Like distant rolling
thunder the mighty sentences echoed out into the lands and announced to
Rome the storm that was brewing in Germany against popery. Luther had no
idea that God had destined them to accomplish such great things. For
innumerable souls they were as the sun rising after a long and anxious
night. They rejoiced as we rejoice at the light of day; for they saw
that in the light of this doctrine they could attain to that peace with
God and with their conscience which they had sought in vain with painful
toiling in the commandments of the Roman church. In the name of these
souls old Doctor Fleck exclaimed, "Aha! He'll do it! He is come for whom
we have waited so long!" Another confessed, "The time has come when the
darkness in churches and schools will be dispelled." And another
exulted, "Praise God, now they have found a man who will give them so
much toil and trouble that they will let this poor man depart in peace."
But, of course, there were also timid souls who were filled with anxious
concern for Luther. The renowned Dr. Kranz, for instance, in Hamburg,
cried out, "Go to your cell, dear brother, and pray, 'Lord, have mercy
upon me!'" and an old Low-German clergyman said, "My dear Brother
Martin, if you can storm and annihilate purgatory and popish
huckstering, then you are indeed a great man!" But Luther, full of
joyous courage and faith, replied to all such timid souls, "Dear
fathers, if the work is not begun in God's name, it will soon come to
naught; but if it is begun in His name let Him take care of it."


Luther the Mighty Warrior.

[Illustration: Luther Before Cajetan.]

1. LUTHER BEFORE CAJETAN IN AUGSBURG. Pope Leo X at first treated the
affair with contempt, thinking that the quarrel would soon die out. He
once said, "Brother Martin has a fine head, and the whole dispute is
nothing else than an envious quarrel of the monks." At another time he
said, "A drunken German has written these theses; when he sobers up he
will think differently of the matter." But when he noticed that his
authority was endangered, because many pious souls became attached to
the true doctrine, he summoned Luther to appear within sixty days in
Rome, and give an account of his heresy. If Luther had obeyed, he would
hardly have escaped death or the dungeon, for everyone knew that Rome
was like the lion's cave into which many prints of feet entered, but
from which none returned. But under the merciful guidance of God Elector
Frederick the Wise so arranged matters that Luther's case was tried in
Germany. For this purpose the Pope sent Cardinal Cajetan to Augsburg,
and in spite of all warnings Luther also boldly repaired to that city.
In Weimar a monk said to him. "O my dear Doctor, I fear that you will
not be able to maintain your case before them, and they will burn you at
the stake." Luther answered, "They may do it with nettles; but fire is
too hot!" When Luther finally arrived in Augsburg, weary and worn, he
would have called upon the cardinal immediately, but to this his friends
were opposed; they endeavored to obtain for him, first of all,
safe-conduct from the emperor. But three days passed before he received
it. In the meantime the servants of the cardinal came and said, "The
cardinal offers you every favor. What do you fear? He is a very kind
father." But another whispered in his ear, "Don't believe it, he never
keeps his promise." The third day an emissary, by the name of Urban,
came to Luther and asked him why he did not come to the cardinal who was
waiting for him so graciously. Luther told him that he was following the
advice of upright men who were all of the opinion that he should not go
there without the imperial safe-conduct. Evidently vexed at this reply,
Urban asked, "Do you think that the elector will go to war on your
account?" Luther answered, "I do not ask that at all." Urban: "Where do
you intend to stay then?" Luther: "Beneath the heavens!" Urban: "What
would you do if you had the Pope and the cardinals in your power?"
Luther: "I would show them every mark of respect!" When the safe-conduct
finally arrived Luther at once repaired to the cardinal, who abruptly
demanded that he recant his errors. But Luther declared, "I cannot
recant, I cannot depart from the Scriptures." After lengthy negotiations
Cajetan sprang up in anger and said, "Go, and let me not see you again,
unless you recant!" To Luther's friends the cardinal said, "I do not
wish to dispute with that beast any more, for he has deep eyes and
strange ideas in his head." Luther, however, wrote to Wittenberg: "The
cardinal is a poor theologian or Christian, and as apt at divinity as an
ass is at music." On the 31st of October Luther returned safely to

2. LUTHER BEFORE MILTITZ. Rome would now have preferred to excommunicate
Luther, but for good reasons it did not wish to offend the elector, who
was determined not to allow his professor to be condemned without proper
trial and refutation. The Pope therefore sent his chamberlain Karl von
Miltitz to the elector to present to him a consecrated golden rose. By
this means the elector was to be made willing to assist Miltitz in his
undertaking. But when the latter arrived in Germany he noticed at once
that he would have to deal kindly with Luther if he wished to retain the
good will of the people. At the meeting which occurred 1519 in
Altenburg, Miltitz, therefore, treated Luther with the greatest
consideration: "Dear Martin, I thought you were an old doctor who sat
behind the stove full of crotchety notions. But I see that you are a
young and vigorous man. Besides, you have a large following, for on my
journey I made inquiries to discover what the people thought of you, and
I noticed so much that where there is one on the Pope's side there are
three on yours against the Pope. If I had an army of 25,000 men I would
not undertake to carry you out of Germany!" With tears he begged Luther
to help in restoring peace. Luther consented to drop the controversy if
his opponents would do the same. After supping together they parted on
the best of terms, Miltitz even embracing and kissing Luther. Later on
Luther saw through the deceit of the Roman and called his kiss a Judas
kiss and his tears crocodile tears; for it was only his fear of Luther's
following that prevented him from executing his original plan of
carrying Luther to Rome in chains.

3. LUTHER AND DR. ECK IN LEIPZIG. Dr. Eck, a violent opponent of Luther,
became involved in a dispute with Dr. Carlstadt on several questions of
Christian doctrine into which Luther was also drawn. In 1519 these three
men gathered at Leipzig for a public disputation. At first Eck disputed
with Carlstadt on "Free Will," and then with Luther on the supremacy of
the Pope. Luther proved that the church indeed needed a supreme head,
but that Christ is this head, and not the Pope, and that the power which
the Pope arrogates to himself conflicts with the Scriptures and the
history of the first three centuries. As Eck could not maintain his
position he accused Luther of Hussite heresy. When Luther replied, "My
dear Doctor, not all of Huss' teachings are heretical," Eck flew into a
passion, and Duke George cried out, "The plague take it!" Then they
debated the question of purgatory, of indulgences, of penances, and the
allied doctrines. On the 16th of June they closed the debate, and Luther
returned joyfully to Wittenberg. Eck, who had flattered himself that he
would triumph over Luther, had to leave in disgrace.

[Illustration: Luther Burning the Pope's Bull.]

4. THE BULL OF EXCOMMUNICATION. Soon hereafter Eck journeyed to Rome and
persuaded the Pope to threaten Luther with excommunication. And indeed!
in 1520 the papal bull appeared which began: "Arise, O Lord, judge Thy
cause, for a boar has broken into Thy vineyard, a wild beast is
destroying it." Luther's doctrine was condemned, and his books were to
be burned that his memory might perish among Christians. He himself was
commanded to recant within sixty days, on pain of excommunication as a
heretic. As a dried limb is cut from the trunk of the tree they
threatened to cut Luther from the body of Christ. Triumphantly Dr. Eck
carried the bull about in Germany. In Erfurt the students tore it to
pieces and threw it into the water, saying, "It is a _bulla_ (bubble),
so let it swim upon the water." Luther wrote a pamphlet: "Against the
Bull of the Antichrist," and had it distributed broadcast among the
people. In it he said: "If the Pope does not retract and condemn this
bull, and punish Dr. Eck besides, then no one is to doubt that the Pope
is God's enemy, Christ's persecutor, Christendom's destroyer, and the
true Antichrist." He wrote to a friend: "I am much more courageous now,
since I know that the Pope has become manifest as the Antichrist and
the chair of Satan."

And now when Luther even learned that in accordance with this bull his
writings had been burned in Louvaine, Cologne, and also in Mayence, his
purpose was fixed. On the 10th of December he had the following
announcement published on the blackboard in Wittenberg: "Let him who is
filled with zeal for evangelical truth appear at nine o'clock before the
Church of the Holy Cross without the walls of the city. There the
ungodly books of the papal statutes will be burned, because the enemies
of the Gospel have dared to burn the evangelical books of Dr. Martin
Luther." When the students read this notice they gathered in crowds in
the streets and marched out through the Elster Gate, followed by many
citizens. At nine o'clock Luther appeared in company with many
professors and scholars, who were carrying books and pamphlets. A pile
of fagots was erected. Luther with his own hand laid upon it the papal
books, and one of the masters set fire to the pile. When the flames
leaped up Luther's firm hand threw in the papal bull, and he cried,
"Since thou hast offended the Holy One of God, may everlasting fire
consume thee!" On the next day he said to his audience: "If with your
whole heart you do not renounce the kingdom of the Pope you cannot be
saved." In a pamphlet he pointed out the reasons which induced him to
take this step, and at the same time he called attention to the impious
statutes contained in the popish jurisprudence. Some of these read: "The
Pope and his associates are not bound to obey God's commandments. Even
if the Pope were so wicked as to lead innumerable men to hell, yet no
one would have the right to reprove him."--On the third of January,
1521, another bull appeared in which the Pope excommunicated Luther and
his adherents, whom he called "Lutherans," and issued the interdict
against, every place where they resided.


Luther the Staunch Confessor.

his first diet at Worms. Among other matters Luther's case was also to
be discussed. The elector therefore asked Luther whether he were willing
to appear at the diet. Luther answered: "If I am called, I shall, as far
as I am concerned, go there sick if I cannot go there well, for I dare
not doubt that God calls me when my emperor calls. You may expect
everything of me save flight or recantation: I will not flee, much less
will I recant. May the Lord Jesus help me!" On the 26th of March the
imperial herald, Caspar Sturm, who was to act as Luther's safe-conduct,
arrived in Wittenberg and delivered to him the emperor's citation
according to which Luther was to appear at the diet within twenty-one
days. Friends reminded Luther of the danger awaiting him, fearing that
he would be burned like Huss. But Luther replied: "And if my enemies
kindle a fire between Wittenberg and Worms reaching up to heaven, yet
will I appear in the name of the Lord, step into the very mouth and
between the great teeth of the devil, confess Christ, and let Him have
full sway." Upon the journey Luther became dangerously ill; his enemies
also tried to keep him away from Worms. But filled with faith and
courage, he declared: "Christ liveth! Therefore we will enter Worms in
spite of the gates of hell, and in defiance of the Prince of the power
of the air" (Eph. 2, 2). And when even his friend Spalatin begged him
not to go to Worms Luther answered: "If there were as many devils in
Worms as there are tiles upon the roofs, yet I would enter it."

[Illustration: Luther's Entrance into Worms.]

2. LUTHER'S ENTRANCE INTO WORMS. On the 16th of April, 1521, the
watchman upon the cathedral spire at Worms gave the trumpet signal,
announcing the approach of a cavalcade. At its head rode the herald
wearing the imperial eagle on his breast. Luther, dressed in his monk's
cowl, followed in an open wagon surrounded by a great number of stately
horsemen, some of whom had joined him on the way, while others had gone
from Worms to meet him. A surging mass of people gathered and pressed
about the wagon. In boundless joy men and women, old and young cheered
him, and blessed the day on which they had been permitted to see the man
who had dared to break the fetters of the Pope, and to deliver poor
Christianity from his bondage. On stepping from his wagon at his lodging
place Luther said, "God will be with me!" On the same day Luther
received many of the counts and lords that waited upon him late into the
night. The Landgrave of Hessia also came to see him. Upon leaving this
nobleman shook his hand and said, "If you are in the right, Doctor, may
God help you!" The partisans of the Pope pressed the emperor to do away
with Luther and have him executed like Huss. But Charles said, "A man
must keep his promise." Luther spent the night in prayer to strengthen
himself for the ordeal of appearing before the emperor and the assembled

3. LUTHER BEFORE THE DIET. Early the next morning the marshal of the
empire came to Luther and delivered to him the imperial order to appear
before the diet at four o'clock that afternoon. The decisive hour was
drawing nigh in which this faithful witness of Jesus Christ was to stand
before the great and mighty of this earth, to profess a good profession
before many witnesses. At the time specified Luther was escorted into
the council chamber. Immense crowds had gathered in the streets. Many of
them had even climbed on the roofs, in order to see the monk, who,
therefore, was forced to take his way through hidden paths, gardens, and
sheds, in order to reach the assembly. When entering the hallway the
celebrated old General George von Frundsberg patted him on the shoulder
and said, "Monk, monk! you are now upon a road the like of which I and
many another captain have never gone in our most desperate encounters;
but if you are sincere and sure of your cause go on in the name of God
and be of good cheer. God will not forsake you." Then the door was
opened, and Luther stood before the mighty of this earth. Perhaps never
before had there been such a numerous and august assembly. The council
chamber was crowded, and about 5000 people had gathered in the
vestibules, upon the stairways, and at the windows.

[Illustration: Luther Before the Emperor and the Diet.]

The first question put to Luther was, whether he acknowledged the books
lying upon the bench to be his own, and whether he would retract their
contents, or abide by their teachings. Luther could not be prepared to
answer this question, for the imperial citation had only mentioned a
desire to be informed as to his doctrine and books. After Luther had
examined the title of all of the books he answered the first question in
the affirmative. As to the second question, however, whether he would
recant, he declared that he could not answer this at once, since it was
a matter that concerned faith, salvation, and the Word of God, the
greatest treasure in heaven and on earth, on which he must be careful
not to speak unadvisedly. He therefore asked the emperor to grant him
time for reflection. This request was granted, and the herald conducted
him back to his lodgings. On Thursday, April 18, he was called again. He
had to wait nearly two hours, wedged in the throng, before he was
admitted. When he finally entered the lights were already lit and the
council chamber brilliantly illuminated. He was now asked whether he
would defend his books, or recant. Luther replied at length, declaring
humbly but with great confidence and firmness that by what he had
written and taught in singleness of heart he had sought only the glory
of God and the welfare and salvation of Christians. He cited the word of
Christ: "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil," John 18, 23,
and prayed that they convince and convict him from the writings of the
prophets and apostles. If this were done he would at once be ready and
willing to retract every error, and be the first to cast his own books
into the fire. Hereupon the imperial spokesman addressed him in harsh
tones and told him that they wished a simple and clear answer, whether
or no he would recant. Distinctly and plainly Luther then replied:
"Since your Imperial Majesty desires a clear, simple, and precise answer
I will give you one which has neither horns nor teeth: Unless I am
convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, or by patent, clear,
and cogent reasons and arguments (for I believe neither the Pope nor the
councils alone, since it is evident that they have often erred and
contradicted themselves), and because the passages adduced and quoted by
me have convinced and bound my conscience in God's Word, therefore I
cannot and will not recant, since it is neither safe nor advisable to do
anything against conscience. Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise! God
help me! Amen."

About eight o'clock in the evening the session was closed, and two men
led Luther away. While he was still in the throng Duke Eric of Brunswick
sent him a silver flagon of Eimbeck beer, with the request that he would
refresh himself. Luther drank it and said, "As Duke Eric has now
remembered me, so may our Lord Jesus Christ remember him in his last
hour." At the same time Luther was of good courage. When he arrived at
his inn, where many friends were awaiting him, he cried with lifted
hands and beaming face, "I am through! I am through!" He also said, "If
I had a thousand heads I would rather lose everyone of them than
recant." By the courageous and steadfast confession of Luther many were
won for his cause. The emperor, however, exclaimed, "He will not make a
heretic of me!" But when the partisans of the Pope tried to persuade the
emperor to break his promise of safe-conduct he said with great
solemnity, "A man must keep his word, and if faith is not found in all
the world it ought to be found with the German emperor." The elector
said to Spalatin, "O how well Martin conducted himself! What a beautiful
address he delivered both in German and Latin before the emperor and all
the estates. To me he appeared almost too bold!" According to an order
of the diet several more attempts were made within the following days to
induce Luther to recant. Luther, however, remained steadfast, and again
and again requested, "Convince me from the Scriptures," and appealed to
the words of Gamaliel: "If this counsel or this work be of men it will
come to naught; but if it be of God ye cannot overthrow it."

4. LUTHER'S HOMEWARD JOURNEY. Together with several friends Luther, on
the 26th of April, left Worms after the emperor had again granted him
safe-conduct for twenty-one days. The imperial herald, Caspar Sturm,
accompanied him to Friedberg. At this place Luther dismissed him with a
letter to the emperor in which he returned thanks for the safe-conduct.
Although the emperor had forbidden it, nevertheless Luther preached to
large audiences at Hersfeld and Eisenach. He also visited his relatives
in Moehra and preached there under a linden tree, near the church. On
the 4th of May he continued his journey, his relatives accompanying him
to the castle Altenstein. There they separated. After a little while the
wagon turned into a narrow pass. Suddenly armed horsemen dashed out of
the forest, fell upon the wagon, and amid curses and threats commanded
the driver to halt, and tore Luther from his seat. Without molesting the
others they threw a mantle upon Luther, placed him upon a horse, and led
him in zigzag through the forest. It was nearly midnight when the
drawbridge of the Wartburg fell and the castle received the weary
horsemen within its protecting walls.

[Illustration: Luther Made Prisoner.]

5. LUTHER UNDER THE BAN. A presentiment had told Elector Frederick the
Wise what would come, and therefore he had sheltered the steadfast
confessor from the brewing storm. On the 26th of May already an imperial
order appeared which is known as the Edict of Worms. By it the ban of
the empire was proclaimed against Luther and all who would protect him.
It declared: "Whereas Luther, whom we had invited to appear before us at
Worms, has stubbornly retained his well-known heretical opinions,
therefore, with the unanimous consent of the electors, princes, and
estates of the empire, we have determined upon the execution of the bull
as a remedy against this poisonous pest, and we now command everyone
under pain of the imperial ban from the 14th day of this month of May
not to shelter, house, nor give food or drink to aforesaid Luther, nor
succor him by deed or word, secretly or publicly, with help, adherence,
or assistance, but take him prisoner wherever you may find him, and send
him to us securely bound. Also, to overpower his adherents, abettors,
and followers, and to appropriate to yourselves and keep their
possessions. Luther's poisonous books and writings are to be burned and
in every way annihilated."

6. OPINIONS ON LUTHER'S DISAPPEARANCE. Luther's sudden disappearance
caused great excitement everywhere in Germany. His friends mourned him
as dead, murdered by his enemies. His opponents rejoiced and spread the
lie that the devil had carried him off. A Roman Catholic wrote to the
Archbishop of Mayence: "We now have our wish, we are rid of Luther; but
the people are so aroused that I fear we will hardly be able to save our
lives unless we hunt him with lighted torches and bring him back." The
celebrated painter Albrecht Duerer of Nuremberg, who from the beginning
had rejoiced at Luther's words as the lark rejoices at the golden dawn
of day, wrote in his diary: "Whether he still lives, or whether they
have murdered him, I do not know; he has suffered this for the sake of
Christian truth, and because he reproved antichristian popery. O God, if
Luther is dead, who henceforth will purely preach to us the holy

7. LUTHER AT THE WARTBURG. While poor Christendom mourned and wailed
Luther sat upon the Wartburg securely sheltered against the curses of
the Pope and the ban of the emperor. For ten months he dwelled there,
known as Knight George. In order not to be recognized he had to lay
aside his monk's cowl, let his beard grow, and don the full dress of a
knight. At first he was not even permitted to study, that his books
might not betray him. He had to follow the knights and squires out into
the forest, over hill and dale, upon the chase, and to gather
strawberries. But wherever he went and wherever he stood he thought of
his beloved Wittenberg and the condition of the church. Once at a hunt,
when a poor little driven rabbit ran into his sleeve and the hounds came
and bit it to death, he said, "Just so Pope and Satan rage, that they
may kill the saved souls and frustrate my endeavors." In his quiet
retreat he studied Holy Scriptures, wrote sermons upon the Gospels, and
translated the New Testament into German.


The Fanatics and the Peasants' War.

1. DISTURBANCES AT WITTENBERG. The sound of the glorious Gospel had gone
out through all the lands. Satan indeed had tried to suppress it in
every way, by help of Pope, emperor, and learned men, but it had spread
only the more. Then the devil chose another means to suppress the truth
by creating schisms and offenses in Luther's own congregation. During
Luther's absence the Augustinian monks at Wittenberg had abolished the
papal mass and again introduced the right manner of celebrating Holy
Communion. But Dr. Karlstadt was not satisfied, and, besides, the
Reformation progressed too slowly for him. He therefore instigated the
students to break into the church where the priests were reading mass
and drive them and the people out in the most brutal and violent
manner. During the Christmas holidays they threw the images out of the
church and burned them. Then they demolished the altars and crucifixes,
abolished the candles, liturgy, and ceremonies, and even rejected the
use of chalice and paten. Without preparation or announcement they went
to Holy Communion, and took the wafers with their own hand. All this
they did from sheer presumption, without previously instructing the
people nor caring whether the weak were offended. Moreover, certain
fanatics from Zwickau came to Wittenberg who boasted that an audible
voice of God had called them to preach, and that they held intimate
conversation with God, and knew the future. They especially raved
against infant baptism, and declared it to be of no avail. They demanded
that everyone baptized in his infancy must be baptized again. For this
reason these fanatics were also called Anabaptists.

2. LUTHER'S RETURN TO WITTENBERG. Luther at first tried to allay these
disturbances by writings, but in vain. Things grew worse. His
congregation earnestly entreated him in a letter to come to Wittenberg
and check further desolation. He decided to leave immediately and
announced this fact to his friends in a letter. Certain of victory, he
wrote: "I do not doubt that without a thrust of sword or drop of blood
we will easily quench these two smoking fire brands." Thus Luther left
the castle which was to shelter him against the ban of the Pope and the
interdict of the emperor, and, contrary to the advice of the elector,
appeared again in the arena. In a letter he excused himself to the
elector and said: "If we would have the Word of God, it must needs be
that not only Hannas and Caiphas rage, but that Judas also appear among
the apostles, and Satan among the sons of God. As to myself, I know that
if matters stood at Leipzig as they do at Wittenberg I would ride into
it even though for nine days it rained nothing but Duke George's, and
each one were nine times more furious than this one. I go to Wittenberg
protected by One higher than the elector. Yes, I would protect your
Electoral Grace more than you can protect me. The sword cannot counsel
nor help this cause; God alone must help here, without all human care or
aid. Therefore, whoever believes most can here afford most protection."

3. LUTHER'S SERMONS AGAINST THE FANATICS. On the 6th of March, 1522,
Luther arrived in Wittenberg. For eight days in succession he preached
against the prevailing nuisances, opposed the fanaticism of Karlstadt
powerfully with the Word of God, and restored the peace of the church.
He told his hearers that they had wanted the fruit of faith, which is
love and which patiently bears the weakness of its neighbor, instructs
him in meekness, but does not snarl at and insult him. External
improvements are very well, but they must be introduced in due order,
without tumult or offenses, and not too hastily. Again he says: "We must
first gain the hearts of the people, which is done by the Word of God,
by preaching the Gospel, and by convincing the people of their errors.
In this way the Word of God will gain the heart of one man to-day, of
another to-morrow. For with His Word God takes the heart, and then you
have gained the man. The evil will die out and cease of itself."
Karlstadt now remained quiet for a few years, and the prophets from
Zwickau had to leave Wittenberg. Before going they wrote a letter to
Luther full of abuse and curses.

4. THE ORIGIN OF THE PEASANTS' WAR. The Anabaptists now zealously spread
the poison of their fanaticism among the people. Karlstadt also began
again to proclaim his false doctrines. He maintained, infant baptism is
wrong, study is superfluous, every Christian is fit to be a pastor, and
that Christ's body and blood are not essentially present in the Lord's
Supper. At many places such pernicious preaching caused the people to
fall away from God's Word. Their chief spokesman was Thomas Muenzer. He
attacked Luther violently and boasted of himself, "The harvest is
ripening; I am hired of heaven for a penny a day, and am sharpening my
sickle for the reaping." He proclaimed a visible kingdom of God and of
Christ, the New Jerusalem, where all earthly possession should be held
in common. He also preached rebellion against the government. To check
such disorder Luther himself traveled about and preached to the people.
But he was only partially successful. In Orlamuende the rage of the
people against him was so great that he had to flee at once, while some
cursed after him, "Depart in the name of a thousand devils, and may you
break your neck before you get out of the city!"

over Germany. In 1525 the flame of rebellion spread through Franconia,
along the Rhine, and almost through all the German states. The peasants,
"a wretched people, everybody's drudge, burdened and overloaded with
tasks, taxes, tithes, and tributes, but on that account by no means more
pious, but a wild, treacherous, uncivilized people," had banded together
in a so-called Christian union and demanded of the government the
granting of certain petitions. Some of these were: Every congregation is
to be permitted to choose its own pastor; serfdom is to be abolished.
Some of them demanded much more: they wanted one government for the
whole German empire and the abolition of the minor princes. Luther
declared that many of their demands were just and fair, at the same
time, however, he told them how terribly they sinned by rebelling. He
said: "Bad and unjust government excuses neither revolt nor sedition. Do
not make your Christian name a cloak for your impatient, rebellious, and
unchristian undertaking. Christians do not fight for themselves with the
sword and with guns, but with the cross and with suffering, just as
their Captain Christ did not use the sword, but hung upon the cross."
And with the same severity Luther also reproved the ungodly tyranny of
the princes.

6. THE OUTCOME OF THE PEASANTS' WAR. The flood of rebellion could no
longer be checked. The peasants marched about, robbing, plundering,
sacking, and murdering wherever they came, destroying more than 200
castles and many cloisters. Upon their enemies they took the most bloody
vengeance. In Weinsberg they impaled and cruelly tortured 700 knights.
Now Muenzer thought the time had come for him also. He sent letters in
every direction: "Thomas Muenzer, servant of God with the sword of
Gideon, calls all good Christians to his banners, that with him they may
strike upon the princes like on an anvil, 'bing-bang!' and not allow
their swords to cool from blood." Multitudes of the people gathered
about him. Then Luther lifted his mighty voice for the last time, and
advised the government to make the ringleaders a last offer of a
peaceable compromise, and if this proved fruitless, to draw the sword.
The compromise was offered, but in vain. Thereupon the princes took up
the sword, and the peasants were routed everywhere. The decisive battle
was fought at Frankenhausen. Muenzer encouraged his men to fight
valiantly against the tyrants. He cried, "Behold, God gives us a sign
that He is on our side. See the rainbow! It announces to us the victory!
If one of you falls in the front ranks, he will rise again in the rear
and fight anew. I will catch all bullets in my sleeve." The battle
began. But when the peasants saw that the slain did not rise, and that
Thomas Muenzer caught no bullets in his sleeve, they lost courage and
fled. Five thousand remained on the field, and three hundred were made
prisoners and beheaded. The braggart Muenzer was found in an attic of a
house in Frankenhausen where he had hidden, under a bed. He was dragged
out and taken to Muehlhausen, where he was tortured and finally


The Colloquy at Marburg.

1. ZWINGLI. At the same time that Luther issued his powerful theses
against popery a man lived in Switzerland whose eyes had also been
opened to the corruption of the church. This was Ulrich Zwingli, pastor
at Zurich. He also wished to help the church, but did not abide by the
pure Word of God. In many things he followed his own reason. Assisted by
the city council he changed the church service at Zurich after his own
fashion. The processions were abolished. Pictures, crucifixes, and
altars were removed from the churches. Communion was celebrated in both
kinds. The bread was carried about the church upon plates, and the wine
in wooden chalices. Concerning Holy Communion Zwingli taught that the
breaking and eating of the bread was a symbolic action. He maintained
that the words of Christ, "This is my body," meant nothing but, "This
represents my body." Of Baptism he likewise taught erroneously. Here
also he followed his reason. He would not admit that the person baptized
was in any way affected by Baptism; Baptism was to him only an external
sign of membership among God's people. He taught many strange things
concerning Christ's work of redemption, and called original sin a mere
infirmity of human nature.

Of these false doctrines the one concerning Holy Communion spread
rapidly and found many adherents. Earnestly and fervently Luther waged
war against this error both in his sermons and in his writings. But the
Zwinglians stubbornly adhered to their error and pursued their own way.

2. THE COLLOQUY AT MARBURG. In 1529 Landgrave Philip of Hesse succeeded
in arranging a colloquy between the Lutherans and the Zwinglians. It
occurred on the first, second, and third of October, at Marburg. Before
the doctrine of the Lord's Supper was taken up several other articles of
faith were discussed. In these points the Zwinglians accepted
instruction and counsel. When, finally, the doctrine of the Lord's
Supper came to be discussed Luther took a piece of chalk from his pocket
and wrote these words upon the table, "This is my body." These words
were his sure, firm ground, and upon it he determined to stand unmoved.
He demanded of his opponents to give all glory to God, and to believe
the pure, simple words of the Lord. However, they clung to their opinion
and cited especially John 6, 63, where Christ says: "The flesh profiteth
nothing." Clearly and unmistakably Luther proved to them that in this
passage Christ does not speak of His _own_, but of _our_ flesh. It would
also be an impious assertion, to say that Christ's flesh profiteth
nothing. Then they maintained: "A body cannot at the same time be
present at two places; now the body of Christ sitteth in heaven, at the
right hand of the Father, consequently it could not be present, upon
earth in the sacrament." Luther replied: "Christ has assumed the human
nature, which, therefore, according to the Scriptures, partakes of the
divine attributes and glory. Wherefore the human nature of Christ is
omnipresent; hence His body and blood is capable of being present in
Holy Communion." When Luther saw that his opponents grew more stubborn
in their opinion he closed the colloquy on his part. With the words,
"You have a different spirit from ours," he refused the hand of
fellowship offered him by Zwingli. Already in 1531 Zwingli perished in
the battle of Kappel. The false doctrines, however, which he had spread
have remained to this day the doctrines of the Reformed church.


The Augsburg Confession.

1. THE DRAFTING OF THE CONFESSION. In 1530 Charles V assembled a diet at
Augsburg. Contrary to common expectation his proclamation was very
friendly, saying that in this assembly all animosity was to be put
aside and everyone's views were to be heard in all love and kindness.
Elector John the Steadfast thereupon commissioned his theologians to
draw up a brief and clear summary of the principal doctrines of
evangelical truth, that he and his party might be ready to confess their
faith and their hope in a clear and unmistakable manner. The theologians
carried out this order and drew up a document upon the basis of 17
articles composed by Luther at an earlier date. In April of 1530 Elector
John, together with Luther, Melanchthon, Spalatin, Jonas, and Agricola,
started off for Augsburg to fight a good fight. As the ban of the empire
was still in force against Luther, and the city of Augsburg had
protested against his coming, the elector had him taken to the fortress
Coburg, on the morning of the 23d of April, that, in case of necessity,
he might be near at hand. Luther complied, although very unwillingly. In
order not to expose the elector to any danger the theologians requested
him also to remain away, and offered to go to Augsburg alone and give an
account of their teachings. But the elector answered courageously, "God
forbid that I should be excluded from your company. I will confess my
Lord Christ with you." Catholic estates, both spiritual and temporal
lords, among them Dr. Eck and Faber, were traveling the same road. In
Augsburg Melanchthon again set to work, and in agreement with Luther and
the other confessors completed the writing out of the confession. He
then sent a copy of it to Luther at Coburg for inspection. When
returning it Luther wrote: "I am well pleased with it, and cannot see
that I could improve or change it; nor would it be proper for me to
attempt this, for I cannot step so softly and gently. Christ, our Lord,
grant that it may bring forth rich abundance of precious fruit. That is
our hope and prayer. Amen." This is the origin of the confession which
is known as the Augsburg Confession. It is a pure, correct, and
irrefutable confession of the divine truths of Holy Scripture. Therefore
it is also the holy banner around which all true Lutherans everywhere
gather, and to this day the Lutheran church acknowledges only those as
its members who accept the Unaltered Augsburg Confession in all its
articles, without any exception.

2. HEROISM OF THE LUTHERAN PRINCES. Slowly the emperor finally
approached the city of Augsburg where the assembled estates were
expectantly waiting for him. In great pomp he entered the city on the
15th of June, followed by his brother Ferdinand and many other princes.
With amazement he at once noticed how great the contrast had grown in
the nine years between the Catholics and the Protestants. For when at
the entrance of the emperor the papal legate blessed the princes and all
others kneeled down in the customary fashion the princes of Saxony and
Hesse remained standing. And when, on the same evening, the emperor
demanded of the evangelical princes that on the following day they
should take part in the great Corpus Christi procession they declared
that by their participation they were not minded to encourage such human
ordinances which were evidently contrary to the Word of God and the
command of Christ. Upon this occasion Margrave George of Brandenburg
uttered these heroic words, "Rather than deny my God and His Gospel I
would kneel here before your Imperial Majesty and have my head cut from
my body." The emperor graciously replied, "Dear Prince, not head off!
not head off!"

3. SIGNING THE CONFESSION. So the ever memorable day, the 24th of June,
approached, on which the little band of Lutheran confessors were to
confess the Lord Christ before the emperor and the diet. On the evening
before Elector John invited his brethren in the faith to his lodgings.
At the upper end of a long table sat the elector. He arose, and the rest
followed him. In his hand was a roll of manuscript. He seized a pen and
subscribed his name with a firm hand. In doing so he said, "May Almighty
God grant us His grace continually that all may redound to His glory and
praise." In fervent words he admonished those present to stand firm,
saying, "All counsels that are against God must fail, and the good cause
will, without doubt, finally triumph." Now the others also signed the
confession. After the Prince of Anhalt, a right chivalrous lord, had
signed he cried with flashing eyes, "I have been in many a fray to
please others, why should I not saddle my horse, if it is necessary, in
honor of my Lord and Savior, and, sacrificing life and limb, hurry into
heavenly life to receive the eternal crown of glory?" The meeting closed
with a fervent prayer for blessing and success on the coming day.

Luther, in the mean time, remained at Coburg, but in spirit he
participated in the holy cause at Augsburg. Every day he spent three
hours in prayer for the victory of the beloved Gospel. He was
continually crying to God to preserve the brethren in true faith and
sound doctrine. In hours of anxiety and trial he wrote on the walls of
his room with his own hands the precious words of the 118th Psalm: "I
shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." He
addressed many consoling letters to the confessors in which he
admonished them to constancy. At this time there lived in his own heart
that trust in God which he had expressed in his heroic song, "A Mighty
Fortress is Our God."

[Illustration: Reading the Augsburg Confession.]

June, 1530, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the diet assembled in the
episcopal palace, where the confession was to be read. The German
emperor presided, and the highest dignitaries of the Roman empire had
gathered to hear the confession. Then the evangelical confessors arose
cheerfully, and in their name the two electoral chancellors, Dr. Brueck
and Dr. Baier, stepped into the center of the room, the first with a
Latin, the latter with a German copy of the confession. When the emperor
demanded that the Latin copy should be read, Elector John replied, "Upon
German ground and soil it is but fair to read and hear the German
tongue." The emperor permitted it. And now Dr. Baier began to read in a
loud and audible voice, so that even the assembled multitude without in
the courtyard could plainly understand every word of the confession.
Everyone was deeply touched by it. The learned Catholic Bishop of
Augsburg publicly admitted, "Everything that was read is the pure,
unadulterated, undeniable truth." Duke William of Bavaria pressed the
hand of Elector John in a friendly manner and said to Dr. Eck, who was
standing close by, "I have been told something entirely different of
Luther's doctrine than I have now heard from their confession. You have
also assured me that their doctrine could be refuted." Eck replied, "I
would undertake to refute it with the fathers, but not with the
Scriptures." Thereupon the duke rejoined, "I understand, then, that the
Lutherans sit entrenched in the Scriptures, and we are on the outside."
Luther wrote to one of his friends: "You have confessed Christ and
offered peace. You have worthily engaged in the holy work of God as
becometh the saints. Now for once rejoice in the Lord also and be glad,
ye righteous. Look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption
draweth nigh." Spalatin said that such a confession had not been made
since the world exists. Mathesius also aptly testifies, "There has not
been a greater and higher work and a more glorious testimony since the
days of the apostles than this at Augsburg before the whole Roman
empire." Very soon the confession was translated in many different
languages and spread in every land. Thereby many received true
information on the Lutheran doctrine, recognized its entire agreement
with Holy Scriptures and with the doctrine of the Apostolic Church, and
joyfully accepted it as their own.

At the emperor's command the papal theologians at once drew up a paper
in which they tried to refute the Augsburg Confession. This document,
called Confutation, proved to be such a miserable failure that it had
to be returned for revision. Melanchthon then wrote an excellent defense
of the confession, the Apology, which, however, the emperor would
neither receive nor permit to be read. He simply declared the case to be
closed, and said, "If the evangelical princes will not submit, then I,
the protector of the Roman church, am not disposed to permit a schism of
the church in Germany."

Before the close of the diet he issued a severe edict which granted the
evangelicals six months to consider matters and commanded them, before
the expiration of this time, to return to the Catholic church. Thereupon
the faithful confessors declared that, because they had not received a
thorough refutation from the Word of God, they were determined to abide
by the faith of the prophets and apostles, and everything else they
would commend to the gracious will of God. When taking leave of the
emperor, Elector John, rightly called the "Steadfast," spoke the
memorable words, "I am sure that the doctrine contained in the
Confession will stand even against the gates of hell." The emperor
answered, "Uncle, Uncle, I did not expect to hear such words from your
Grace. You will lose your electoral crown and your life, and your
subjects will perish, together with their women and children."


Bible, Catechism, and Hymnbook.

1. BIBLE. Among the many priceless treasures for which all Christendom
owes thanks, under God, to Luther, the translation of the Bible into
German is one of the grandest and one of the most glorious. In the
churches of that time Latin Bibles were used exclusively. The people,
however, were not acquainted with them; for, in the first place, laymen
could not read them, and, in the second place, they were forbidden to
read the Bible. In addition to this, the Bibles of that time were far
too expensive. An ordinary Latin Bible cost 360 florins, and one nicely
written out by monks even brought 500 dollars. It is true, there were
German translations of the Bible even before Luther, but they were so
inexact, and composed in such poor German, that the people could not use
them. And yet, if every Christian was to read and learn the Gospel which
Luther preached and proclaimed; if he was to convince himself from the
Scriptures of the errors of popery; if he was effectively to arm himself
against them; and if the Bible was to make him wise unto salvation, then
he had to have it in his own language. Luther was long since convinced
of this and had, therefore, already translated the seven Penitential
Psalms. When, in 1521, the Wartburg sheltered him against his enemies,
he, for the first, undertook the translation of the New Testament. He
wrote: "Till Easter I will remain here in seclusion. By that time I will
translate the Postil and New Testament into the people's language. That
is demanded by our friends." After completing the work he wrote to
Spalatin: "In my Patmos I had translated not only the Gospel according
to John, but the entire New Testament. Now we are at it to polish the
whole, Philip and I; God willing, it will prove a fine work." On the
21st of September, 1522, it appeared and sold at 1-1/2 florins. Although
the book was proscribed in many countries, the entire first edition was
sold in a few weeks. In the same year several new editions had to be
issued. Then Luther, with his friends, entered upon the translation of
the whole Bible. It was a most difficult task. Luther said of it: "It
frequently happened that we searched and inquired fourteen days, aye,
three or four weeks for a single word, and yet, at times, did not find
it." But God permitted him to complete the great work upon which, amid
countless battles and labors, his heart had been set for many years. In
1534 the complete Bible appeared.

[Illustration: The Translation of the Bible.]

Great was the joy with which Luther's translation was received at that
time. Melanchthon exclaimed, "The German Bible is one of the greatest
miracles which God has worked through Dr. Martin Luther before the end
of the world." And Mathesius added, "For to an attentive Bible-reader it
seems indeed as if the Holy Spirit had spoken through the mouth of the
prophets and the apostles in our German language." Now many thousand
thirsting souls could drink as often as they wished from that fountain
closed so long, and which offers pure, sweet, and truly satisfying
water. And they did it. Cochlaeus, a violent opponent of Luther, writes:
"Luther's New Testament has been so multiplied by the printers and
scattered in such numbers that even tailors and shoemakers, aye, even
women and the simple who had learned to read only the German on ginger
cakes, read it with intense longing. Many carried it about with them and
learned it by heart, so that, in a few months, they arrogantly began to
dispute with priests and monks on the faith and the Gospel. Indeed, even
poor women were found who engaged with learned doctors in a debate, and
thus it happened that in such conversations Lutheran laymen could
extemporaneously quote more Bible passages than the monks and priests."

2. CATECHISM. Another treasure which God gave to Christianity through
Luther is the Small Catechism. In order to inform himself on the
condition of the churches and schools Luther had early urged the elector
to order a general visitation of the churches. This visitation was held
with loving heart, but with open eyes, from 1527 to 1529. In the
vicinity of Wittenberg Luther and Melanchthon traveled from city to
city, from village to village, and inspected churches and schools. They
listened to the preachers and examined the church members. They found
things in a sad condition. The people and the pastors lived in deep
spiritual ignorance, for under the rule of the Pope they had received no
proper instruction in religion. In a village near Torgau the old pastor
could scarcely recite the Lord's Prayer and the Creed; in another place
the peasants did not know a single prayer and even refused to learn the
Lord's Prayer. Luther wrote: "Alas, what manifold misery I beheld! The
common people, especially in the villages, know nothing at all of
Christian doctrine; and many pastors are quite unfit and incompetent to
teach. Yet, all are called Christians, have been baptized, and enjoy the
use of the sacraments--although they know neither the Lord's Prayer nor
the Creed nor the Ten Commandments, and live like the poor brutes and
irrational swine." The following example illustrates how patiently
Luther instructed such people. When, at one time, he was examining the
poor peasants on the Christian Creed one of them, who had recited the
First Article, being asked the meaning of "Almighty," answered, "I don't
know!" Luther then said, "You are right, my dear man, I and all the
doctors do not know what God's power and omnipotence is; but only
believe that God is your dear and faithful father who will, can, and
knows how to help you and your wife and children in every need."

Such misery induced Luther, in 1529, to write the Small Catechism for
the instruction of poor Christendom. He himself says: "The deplorable
destitution which I recently observed during a visitation of the
churches has impelled and constrained me to prepare this Catechism or
'Christian Doctrine' in such a small and simple form." A learned doctor
writes of this excellent little book: "The Small Catechism is the true
Layman-Bible, which comprises the whole contents of Christian doctrine
which every Christian must know for his salvation." Of all books in the
world perhaps no other can be found that teaches the whole counsel of
God for our salvation in such brief form and in such clear and pointed
language. A truly popular book, it has cultivated the right
understanding of the Gospel among the common people and unto this day
proved of inestimable blessing. Very early Luther already could boast of
the fruits of his work. In the following year he wrote to the elector:
"How gracious is the merciful God in granting such power and fruit to
His Word in your country. You have in your country the very best and
most able pastors and preachers, such as you can find in no other
country of the world, who live so faithfully, piously, and peaceably.
Tender youth, boys and girls, are growing up so well instructed in the
Catechism and the Scriptures, that it makes me feel good to see how
young lads and little girls can now pray, believe, and speak better of
God and of Christ than formerly all institutes, cloisters, and schools."

3. HYMNS. Another precious gift for which all Christians should thank
Luther is the collection of his incomparable hymns and songs, so
childlike and devout, so simple and yet so powerful. When introducing
the Lutheran order of worship Luther took great pains that not only the
pastors and choristers, but also the congregations might sing their
hymns to God in heaven in their own mother's tongue. However, there were
very few German hymns at that time fit to be used in divine worship.
Luther, therefore, also undertook this work, and, in 1524, the first
hymnbook appeared. It contained eight hymns set to music, four of which
Luther had composed. The first evangelical church-hymn which Luther
wrote was that glorious song, "Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice."
In it, from his own experience, he describes human misery, and then
glorifies God's work of salvation. Then followed, "O God of Heaven, Look
Down and See," and, "Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee." Both of these
hymns are cries for help out of the depths of human misery in which the
congregation and every penitent Christian raises his voice to God on
high and is heard. Later on appeared hymns for the festive seasons:
"From Heaven Above to Earth I Come;" "All Praise to Jesus' Hallowed
Name;" "In Death's Strong Grasp the Savior Lay;" "Now Do We Pray God the
Holy Ghost." Then, among many more: "Though in the Midst of Life We
Be;" "In Peace and Joy I Now Depart." Above all others towers his hymn
of battle and triumph, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

Especially powerful was the effect produced by Luther's hymns in those
days. The people never wearied of singing them, and in very many places
the Gospel was introduced by the triumphant power of the Lutheran hymns
intonated by pious church members. The opponents complained, "The people
sing themselves into this heretical church; Luther's hymns have misled
more souls than all his writings and sermons." In Brunswick a priest
complained to the duke that Lutheran hymns were sung even in the court's
chapel. The duke, though also very bitter against Luther, asked, "What
kind of hymns are they? How do they read?" The priest answered, "Your
Grace, one of them is, 'May God Bestow on Us His Grace,'" whereupon the
duke rejoined, "Why, is the devil to bestow his grace upon us? Who is to
be gracious to us if not God?" Concerning the effect of Luther's hymns a
friend writes: "I do not doubt that by the one little hymn of Luther,
'Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice,' many hundred Christians have
received faith who never before heard the name of Luther; but the noble,
dear words of this man so won their hearts that they had to accept the


Luther's Family Life.

[Illustration: Luther's Marriage with Katharine of Bora.]

1. LUTHER ENTERS HOLY MATRIMONY. According to the Pope's doctrine all
so-called religious, like the monks, nuns, and priests, dare not marry.
Luther, on the contrary, proved from the Word of God that this doctrine
is false, that matrimony is God's institution and honorable in all men.
'Tis true, of himself he declared: "I have no disposition to marry,
because I may daily expect death as a heretic." But many of his friends
urgently requested him for the sake of strengthening many weak hearts
also to enter holy matrimony and thus confirm his doctrine by his
action. His father also dearly wished to see his son marry a pious
wife. By God's help Luther was soon firmly resolved by his own action to
testify before the world his own and the doctrine of Holy Scriptures
that matrimony is pleasing to God. He was of good courage and exclaimed,
"To spite the devil and to please my old father I will marry my Kate
before I die." And later on he said, "By my own example I wished to
confirm what I had taught, and because many were so timid although the
Gospel shone so brightly God willed it and accomplished it."

On the 13th of June, 1525, Luther invited his friends Bugenhagen, Justus
Jonas, Apel, and the painter Lucas Cranach, together with the latter's
wife, to supper, and in their presence he entered holy matrimony with
Katharine of Bora. Justus Jonas informed Spalatin of this joyous
occurrence in these words: "Luther has married Katharine of Bora;
yesterday I was present at the marriage; my soul was so deeply moved at
the spectacle that I could not retain my tears. Since it is now done and
God has willed it I sincerely wish this excellent and true man and dear
father in the Lord all happiness. God is wonderful in His works and in
His counsels."

2. TRAINING OF THE CHILDREN. Luther's marriage with Katharine of Bora
was blessed with six children, who were raised severely but piously.
Luther enjoyed their company and delighted to watch them at play. When
little Martin once played with a doll and in prattling said it was his
bride Luther remarked, "So sincere and without wickedness and hypocrisy
we would have been in paradise. Therefore children are the loveliest
starlings and dearest little chatterboxes--they do and speak everything
naturally and in the simplicity of their hearts." When he saw the boys,
as children will do, quarrel and then again make peace, he said, "Dear
Lord, how pleasing to Thee is such life and play of the children." When
at one time they all with beaming eyes and glad expectation stood about
the table on which the mother had placed peaches and other fruit, he
enjoyed the picture and said, "Whoever wishes to see the picture of one
rejoicing in hope, has here a true portrait. O that we could look
forward to judgment day with such joyous hope." When Luther, at another
time, visited Melanchthon, he found him in his study surrounded by his
family. He was well pleased with this and said, "Dear Brother Philip, I
praise you for finding things with you as they are with me at home, wife
and children in your company. I have also given my little Johnnie a ride
upon my knees to-day and carried my little Magdalene about upon her
pillow and pressed her to my heart." When Luther returned home from a
journey he never missed bringing something along for his children. At
the same time he was very strict. At one time he would not allow his son
John to come into his presence for three days, until he begged pardon
for an offense. And when his mother interceded for him Luther said, "I
would rather have a dead than a spoiled son." At another time he said,
"I do not wish my son John treated with too much leniency: he must be
punished and held to strict account." He was diligent in teaching his
older children the Catechism and prayed with them the Ten Commandments,
the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer.

How lovely he could speak with his children is shown by the following
letter, which he wrote when he was at Coburg to his little son John, who
was then four years of age: "Grace and peace in Christ. My dear little
son:--I am very glad to know that you learn your lessons well, and love
to say your prayers. Keep on doing so, my little boy, and when I come
home I will bring you something pretty from the fair. I know a beautiful
garden, where there are a great many children in fine little coats, and
they go under the trees and gather beautiful apples and pears, cherries
and plums; they sing and run about, and are as happy as they can be.
Sometimes they ride about on nice little ponies, with golden bridles and
silver saddles. I asked the man whose garden it is, 'What little
children are these?' And he told me, 'They are little children who love
to pray and learn, and are good.' Then I said, 'My dear sir, I have a
little boy at home; his name is Johnny Luther; would you let him come
into the garden too, to eat some of these nice apples and pears, and
ride on these fine little ponies, and play with these children?' The man
said, 'If he loves to say his prayers, and learn his lesson, and is a
good boy, he may come. And Philip and Jocelin may come too; and when
they are all together, they can play upon the fife and drum and lute and
all kinds of instruments, and skip about and shoot with little
crossbows.' He then showed me a beautiful mossy place in the middle of
the garden, for them to skip about in, with a great many golden fifes,
and drums, and silver crossbows. The children had not yet had their
dinner, and I could not wait to see them play, but I said to the man,
'My dear sir, I will go away and write all about it to my little son,
John, and tell him to be fond of saying his prayers, and learn well, and
be good, so that he may come into the garden; but he has an aunt, Lena,
whom he must bring along with him.' The man said, 'Very well, go write
to him.' Now, my dear little son, learn to love your lessons, and to say
your prayers, and tell Philip and Jocelin to do so too, that you may all
come to the garden. May God bless you. Give Aunt Lena my love, and kiss
her for me. A. D. 1530. Your dear father, Martin Luther."

[Illustration: Luther at the Coffin of His Daughter Magdalene.]

3. THE DEATH OF MAGDALENE. How dearly Luther loved his children we can
see from his pious and touching conduct during the sickness and death of
his little daughter Magdalene. In the beginning of September, 1542,
being then in her fourteenth year, she became ill. When she was now sick
unto death she longed very much for her brother John whom she loved
most dearly. He was then at school at Torgau. Luther at once sent a
wagon there and wrote to Rector Krodel that he should send John home for
a few days. John found his sister still alive. The disease tortured the
poor child for fourteen more days, and her father suffered very much
with her. When the hope of recovery vanished more and more, Luther
prayed, "Lord, I love, her very much and would like to keep her, but,
dear Lord, since it is Thy will to take her away, I am glad to know that
she will be with Thee." And when she lay a-dying he said to her,
"Magdalene, my dear little daughter, you would like to remain with this
your dear father, wouldn't you, but also gladly go to that Father?" The
child answered, "Yes, dear father, as God wills!"

She died in his arms on the evening of the 20th of September, at nine
o'clock. The mother was also in the same room, but at a distance from
the bed because of her great sorrow. As she wept bitterly and was very
sad Luther said to her, "Dear Kate, consider where she is going! She
fares well indeed!" When they laid her in her coffin he said, "You dear
little Lena, how happy you are! You will rise again and shine as the
stars, yea, as the sun." To the bystanders he said, "In the spirit,
indeed, I rejoice, but according to the flesh I am very sad. Such
parting is very painful. It is very strange--to know that she is in
peace and well off, and yet to be so sad!" The people who had come to
the funeral to express their sympathy he addressed thus, "You ought to
rejoice! I have sent a saint to heaven, yes, a living saint. O that we
had such a death! Such a death I would accept this moment!" After the
funeral Luther said, "My daughter is now taken care of both as to body
and as to soul. We Christians have nothing to complain of, we know that
it must be thus. We have the greatest assurance of eternal life; for God
cannot lie who has promised it to us through and for the sake of His
Son." Upon her grave he placed the following epitaph:

    "I, Luther's daughter Magdalene, with the saints here sleep,
     And covered calmly rest on this my couch of earth;
     Daughter of death I was, born of the seed of sin,
     But by Thy precious blood redeemed, O Christ! I live."

4. HOME LIFE AND CHARITY. Elector John gave Luther the former cloister
building as a residence. It was a large house with a beautiful garden,
close to the walls of the city. The narrow cloister cells were changed
into large rooms. Here Kate, now, went to housekeeping. She was a
faithful and saving housekeeper. Luther's income was very small; he
received a salary of 200 florins. Withal he was very charitable toward
the poor, and hospitable toward his visitors. Hardly a week passed that
he entertained no guests. From all countries they came to Wittenberg,
doctors and students, to see the man face to face who had accomplished
such great things. Besides this, he was daily visited by friends and
students. It was, therefore, no easy matter to manage the household with
the meager salary. But his friends took care that under God's blessing
he suffered no want, and Luther confessed: "I have a strange
housekeeping indeed! I use up more than I receive. Although my salary is
but 200 florins, yet every year I must spend 500 for housekeeping and in
the kitchen, not to speak of the children, other luxuries, and alms. I
am entirely too awkward. The support of my needy relatives and the daily
calls of strangers make me poor. Yet I am richer than all popish
theologians, because I am content with little and have a true wife."

The following are a few examples of Luther's charity: A student once
came to him and complained with tears of his need. As Luther had no
money he took a silver cup that was gilded within and said, "There, take
that cup and go home in God's name." His wife looked at him and asked,
"Are you going to give everything away?" Luther pressed the cup together
in his strong hand and said to the student, "Quick, take it to the
goldsmith, I do not need it." At another time a poor man asked him for
assistance. Luther had no money, but took his children's savings and
gave them to him. When his wife reproached him he said, "God is rich, He
will give us more." A man exiled because of his faith asked him for
alms. Luther had but one dollar (called "Joachim"), which he had
carefully saved. Without thinking long he opened his purse and called,
"Joachim, come out! The Savior is here!"

Friends, students, doctors, and all kinds of admirers often sat at
Luther's table. The meal was generally simple, but seasoned with serious
and cheerful conversation. After table he was fond of having a little
music with his friends and children. In praise of music he said: "Music
is great comfort to a sad person. It cheers and refreshes the heart and
fills it with contentment. It is half a schoolmaster and makes the
people softer, meeker, more modest, and more reasonable. I have always
loved music. Whoever knows this art has a good nature and is fit for
everything. Music should by all means be taught in the schools. A
schoolmaster must be able to sing, or I will not look at him." At
another time he said: "Music is a gift and blessing of God. Next to
theology I give to music the first place and highest honor."

married life: "God willed it, and, praise God, I have done well, for I
have a pious and true wife in which a man may confide; she spoils
nothing." In these words he lauds his Kate: "She has not only faithfully
nursed and cared for me as a pious wife, but she has also waited upon me
as a servant. The Lord repay her on that day. I consider her more
precious than the kingdom of France, for she has been to me a good wife,
given and presented to me of God, as I was given to her. I love my Kate,
yes, I love her more than myself, that is certainly true. I would rather
die myself than have her and the children die." In praise of marriage he
says: "According to God's Word there is no sweeter and dearer treasure
upon earth than holy matrimony, which He Himself has instituted, and
which He also preserves and has adorned and blessed above all other


Luther's Last Days and Death.

1. LUTHER'S PRESENTIMENT OF DEATH. Eight days after his last birthday,
which he celebrated on the 10th of November in the company of his
friends, he finished his exposition of Genesis and closed his lecture to
the students with these impressive words: "I am weak! I cannot continue;
pray God to grant me a blessed death." And he wrote to a friend: "I am
sick of this world, and the world is sick of me; it will not be
difficult for us to part, as a guest quits his inn. Therefore I pray for
a peaceful end, I am ready to depart." At the close of his last sermon
in Eisleben the thoughts of his heart are expressed in this wish: "May
God give us grace that we gratefully accept His beloved Word, increase
and grow in the knowledge and faith of His Son, and remain steadfast in
the confession of His holy Word unto our end! Amen."

2. LUTHER'S JOURNEY TO EISLEBEN. In the beginning of 1546 the counts of
Mansfeld requested Luther to come to Eisleben and settle a dispute which
had arisen between themselves and their subjects. Luther consented to
go, and, together with his three sons, on the 23d of January, he set out
on his last pilgrimage on this earth. In Halle he visited his friend Dr.
Jonas. While there he preached on the conversion of Paul and praised the
writings of this apostle as the holy of holies. On the 28th of January,
when crossing the swollen Saale in a small boat, his life was in great
danger. Luther said to Jonas, "Dear Jonas, how it would please the devil
if I, Dr. Martin, with you and our guides, would fall into the water and
drown!" Not far from Eisleben he became so weak that fears were
entertained for his life. But he soon regained his strength. In Eisleben
Luther preached several times, and took great pains to settle the
dispute between the counts and their subjects. When matters were
settled Luther began to think of returning home; but God had decided

[Illustration: Luther's Death.]

3. LUTHER'S ILLNESS AND DEATH. Already on the 17th of February Luther
could not attend the meetings because of his increasing weakness. In
accordance with the advice of his friends and the counts he remained in
his room and rested. About eight o'clock in the evening he took his
medicine and lay down on his couch, saying, "If I could sleep for half
an hour I believe I would improve." He now slept calmly till ten
o'clock, when he awoke, arose, and went into his bedroom. As he entered
the room he said, "In the name of God, I am going to bed. Into Thy hands
I commend my spirit; Thou hast redeemed me, Thou faithful God." At one
o'clock he awoke and said, "O Lord God, I feel so bad! Ah, dear Dr.
Jonas, I believe I shall die here at Eisleben where I was born and
baptized." Again he left his bedroom and entered the sitting room,
saying again, "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit, Thou hast redeemed
me, Thou faithful God." When he was again resting on his couch his
friends hurried to his side, with Count Albrecht, the countess, and two
physicians. When, upon repeated rubbings, he began to perspire freely
Dr. Jonas thought he was improving, but Luther answered, "No, it is the
cold sweat of death; I will give up my spirit, for the sickness is
increasing." Then he prayed thus: "O my heavenly Father, the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Thou God of all consolation! I thank
Thee that Thou hast revealed to me Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, in whom I
believe, whom I have preached and confessed, whom I have loved and
extolled, whom the wicked Pope and the ungodly dishonor, persecute, and
blaspheme. I pray Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, receive my poor soul into Thy
hands. O heavenly Father, although I must quit this body and be torn
away from this life, I nevertheless know assuredly that I shall be with
Thee forever, and that no one can pluck me out of Thy hands." Then
three times he repeated the passage: "God so loved the world, that He
gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not
perish, but have everlasting life," John 3, 16, and the words of the
68th Psalm: "He that is our God, is the God of salvation; and unto God
the Lord belong the issues of death." When the physician gave him a
cordial he took it and said, "I pass away; I shall yield up my spirit,"
after which he rapidly repeated these words three times: "Father, into
Thy hands I commend my spirit, Thou hast redeemed me, Lord, Thou
faithful God." Now he lay quiet, when spoken to he did not answer. Dr.
Jonas called into his ear, "Reverend father, are you firmly determined
to die upon Christ and the doctrine you have preached?" Loud and
distinctly Luther answered, "Yes!" Having said this he turned upon his
side and fell asleep, saved in the faith of his Redeemer, on the 18th of
February, 1546, between two and three o'clock in the morning.

4. LUTHER'S FUNERAL. The sad tidings of Luther's death spread rapidly
through town and country. A great multitude of people of all classes
gathered to view the previous remains of the man who had again brought
to light the saving Word of God. When the news of Luther's death reached
Wittenberg and Melanchthon told the students, he exclaimed, "Alas, he
has been taken from us, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof,
by whom the church was guided in this last age of the world!" On the
19th day of February the corpse was laid in a metallic coffin, borne
into the Castle Church of Eisleben, and placed before the altar. On the
following day Dr. Coelius preached an excellent sermon, after which the
corpse was carried in solemn funeral procession to Wittenberg. With
weeping and wailing a countless multitude surrounded the hearse, and in
nearly every village the bells were tolled. When, late at night, the
funeral approached the gates of Halle the clergy, the city council, the
schools, and the citizens, together with women and children, marched out
to meet it and escorted the corpse into the church. The service opened
with Luther's hymn, "Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee," the weeping being
heard more than the singing. On the 22d of February the funeral train
reached Wittenberg. Amid the tolling of the bells it moved toward the
Castle Church, the hearse being followed by Luther's widow, his four
children, and other relatives. Then came the faculty, the students, and
the citizens. Dr. Bugenhagen preached a comforting sermon, which was
frequently interrupted by his own tears and the weeping of his audience.
At the close Melanchthon delivered a Latin oration, after which the
corpse was lowered into the vault near the pulpit, where it awaits the
coming of the resurrection morn.


Afflictions of the Lutheran Church in Germany after the Reformation.

1. THE SMALCALD WAR. Already during the life of Luther clouds of war had
frequently arisen, threatening to destroy the Lutheran church. But as
long as Luther lived the storm did not break. His prophecy was
fulfilled: "I have fervently prayed to God, and still beseech Him daily,
to check the evil counsels of the papists and permit no war to come upon
Germany while I live, and I am sure that God has certainly heard my
prayer, and I know that as long as I live there will be no war in
Germany. Now when I am dead, rest and sleep do you also pray. I will die
before this calamity and misery come upon Germany." Scarcely had Luther
closed his eyes when the emperor and the Pope thought the time had come
again to strengthen popery and oppress the Lutheran doctrine with the
sword, aye, completely to destroy it. The emperor accused the Lutheran
princes of disobedience because they would not submit to the Edict of
Augsburg, and declared the ban of the empire against them. Soon
thereafter he made war upon them. The Lutherans also gathered an army
for their defense. Before the Elector John Frederick was aware of it the
emperor's army, led by a traitor, fell upon him.

On the 24th of April, 1547, the battle was fought near Muehlberg on the
Elbe. The army of the Lutheran princes was defeated; 3000 remained
upon the battlefield, and the elector himself was taken prisoner. Not
long thereafter he was condemned to die. Only on condition that he
surrender his electoral crown and domain to the Lutheran Duke Maurice of
Saxony, who had joined the forces of the emperor, was he to be pardoned.
The elector gave up his country without remonstrance, but he would not
forsake his faith. His high courage earned him the title, "The
Magnanimous." For when the emperor demanded that he sign the resolutions
of the Council of Trent in which the Lutheran doctrine was condemned, he
declared with indignation: "I will abide steadfast in the doctrine and
confession which, together with my father and other princes, I confessed
at Augsburg, and rather give up country and people, yea, and my head
also, than forsake the Word of God."

Thus the cause of the Lutheran confessors seemed to be lost. But right
in the midst of war's tumult and the enemy's triumph sounded the word of
the Lord: "Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the
word, and it shall not stand; for God is with us," Is. 8, 10. God helped
wonderfully. Maurice of Saxony demanded of the emperor the release of
his father-in-law, Philip of Hesse. When the emperor refused to do this
Maurice turned against him with his army and put him to flight. In 1555
the Peace of Augsburg was signed. By it complete liberty of religion and
worship was guaranteed to the Lutherans for the future.

2. DOCTRINAL CONTROVERSIES. Already in the days of Luther fanatics had
attempted to darken and displace the true doctrine with diverse errors.
After his death his prophetic words were fulfilled: "I see it coming, if
God does not give us faithful pastors and ministers the devil will
disrupt the church by factious spirits, and will not leave off nor cease
till he has finished it. If the devil cannot do it through the Pope and
the emperor he will accomplish it through those who now agree with us in
doctrine. Therefore pray God to let His Word remain with you, for
abominable things will happen. I know that after my departing shall
grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."

Scarcely had the faithful watchman and guardian been gathered to his
fathers when everywhere teachers and preachers arose who departed from
the truth of God's Word and tried to set up their own false teachings.
Thus some taught: Good works are necessary unto salvation; others,
again, maintained: Not only are they unnecessary, but they are harmful
to our salvation. Again, it was taught that man could prepare himself
for grace, and assist in his conversion. Others even secretly plotted to
introduce the false doctrines of the Reformed into the Lutheran church.
Thus the bright light which shone so brilliantly in Luther's days was in
danger of being obscured by the doctrines of men. But in the midst of
such confusion God had His faithful confessors. After heated contests
truth, by God's grace, obtained the victory. In 1577, by the united
labors of the faithful confessors, the Form of Concord, the last
confession of the Lutheran church, was completed. In this confession the
Lutheran church renounces all error and demands of all its members unity
of doctrine and confession. The reestablished unity of doctrine called
forth loud rejoicing and thanksgiving to God everywhere in Germany. In
1580 the Book of Concord of the Lutheran church, containing also the
Form of Concord, appeared in print for the first time.

3. THE THIRTY YEARS' WAR. This good fortune and peace of the Lutheran
church did not last long. Satan did not cease to attack her. For his
purpose he especially used the Jesuits, a new order of monks. These
allied servants of the Pope used every means to suppress the Lutheran
church. As advisers of princes, in the confessional, and as teachers at
the higher schools they fanned the flame of hatred against the
Lutherans, and their endeavors were not in vain. Through them a war of
thirty years began to rage in Germany. During the reign of Emperor
Rudolph II the religious peace guaranteed at Augsburg was broken
repeatedly, and the Lutherans were sorely oppressed. Finally, when a
Protestant church in Bohemia was forcibly closed and another was even
torn down, the storm broke loose. By it the greater part of Germany was
laid waste, and untold misery was caused. Everywhere the evangelical
princes were defeated, and their cause seemed to be lost. The Pope and
his minions rejoiced.

But in the hour of greatest distress help appeared in the person of
Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden. Everywhere the people welcomed him.
However, in his march of triumph through Germany he met with a bloody
death. On the 6th of November, 1632, a battle was fought at Luetzen. In
the Swedish army the trumpeters played the hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is
Our God." Then the whole army sang, "May God Bestow on us His Grace."
Whereupon the king cried, "Now at it! In the name of God! Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus, help us fight this day in honor of Thy holy name!" The Swedes
gained a glorious victory, but their king, struck by a bullet, fell
dying from his horse. Sixteen years longer the deplorable war raged on.
In 1648 the long-desired peace was finally concluded. In it the
Religious Peace of Augsburg was again acknowledged and extended to
include the Reformed church. The Pope protested violently, but in vain.

It is true, conditions after the war were terrible in Germany, also for
the Lutheran church. But the chastenings of the Lord strengthened the
faith in His Word, and the church flourished and prospered. Faithful
pastors strengthened the Christians by their sermons and their writings,
and everywhere the seed grew and brought fruit. It was just in this time
that pious poets made their harps resound and sang their glorious hymns
to the honor and praise of God.

4. RATIONALISM AND UNIONISM. In no way had the devil succeeded in
smothering the Lutheran church in its own blood or in destroying it by
false doctrine. Again and again courageous witnesses arose, and in loud
and clear words testified that man is justified and saved by grace
alone, for Christ's sake, through faith. At the end of the seventeenth
century, however, men arose in England who craftily sought to abolish
the Christian faith. These were the so-called Deists, or Freethinkers.
Their doctrine, at first, passed from England to France, and then to
Germany. Human reason was to take the place of the Bible. Luther's
prophecy was fulfilled: "Until now you have heard the true, faithful
Word; now beware of your own thoughts and your own wisdom. The devil
will light the candle of reason and deprive you of faith." Not the
Scriptures, the revelation of God, but human reason was to decide
matters of faith and salvation. Whatever did not agree with human reason
was simply to be rejected as superstition. Whoever confessed his faith
in the truths of the Bible was called an obscurant. Those were sad

In addition, the so-called "Union" in Germany, by sacrificing the
biblical truth, made the attempt to unite the Lutheran and the Reformed
churches into a mixed church, which was called the Evangelical church.
In this way the ruin of the church of the pure Gospel was to be
completed. Faithful Lutherans who would not join in this apostasy were
violently persecuted, cast into prison, cruelly punished, or compelled
to emigrate into foreign countries, Australia or America.


The Lutheran Church in America.

1. THE MUSTARD SEED. When the Lutheran church in Germany was in its
prime it was transplanted also across the waters, into the wilds of
America. As early as 1638 the first Lutheran Swedes emigrated to
America and founded the first Lutheran congregation in the valley of the
Delaware. In 1650 the Dutch had also founded Lutheran churches in the
State of New York. The most important of these churches was in the city
of New York. It was cruelly oppressed by the Reformed officials. The
true Lutheran confessors were frequently fined and imprisoned. As soon
as England, however, took possession of this Dutch colony the Lutherans
were granted liberty of conscience and freedom of worship.

On New Year's day, 1709, the first _German_ Lutheran congregation, with
its pastor, Kocherthal, landed on the coasts of America. They likewise
settled in the State of New York and founded several colonies on the
banks of the Hudson. The greatest number of Germans settled in the State
of Pennsylvania. Since 1742 their most zealous pastor was Henry Melchior
Muehlenberg. Together with diligent colaborers he founded many
congregations, which afterwards united to form the Pennsylvania Synod.
Since 1734 Lutheran Salzburgers were found in the Colony of Georgia.
Rationalism and fanaticism, however, made powerful inroads also into
this flourishing Lutheran church of America. The time came when very few
had any idea of the nature of true Lutheranism.

But the light was once more to shine in this land of the West. In 1839
seven hundred Lutheran Saxons came to America. They brought their
pastors, candidates, and teachers with them. After suffering severe
persecution they had left their old fatherland to live here, in this
land of liberty, in accordance with their most holy faith. A part of
them remained in St. Louis and founded a congregation with a Christian
school. The most of these faithful confessors settled in Perry County,
in the State of Missouri, where they founded a number of colonies with
congregations and Christian schools. In the colony of Altenburg a
seminary was even erected for the education of ministers. Since 1841 the
congregation at St. Louis was served by Carl Ferdinand William Walther
as pastor and preacher. This man has proved to be of inestimable
blessing for the Lutheran church of America. In 1844 he and his
congregation began to issue the _Lutheraner_ in order to gather the
scattered Christians around the Word of God. This paper was to be a
powerful means to acquaint people with the Lutheran doctrine and to
defend it against all error. The very first number was a trumpet that
gave a distinct and powerful sound. After reading it, the missionary
Wyneken joyfully exclaimed, "God be praised, there are more Lutherans in
America!" In the summer of 1838 he had come to this country a candidate
of the holy ministry, twenty-eight years of age, in order to bring the
Gospel to the scattered Germans. In Germany he had read and heard of
their great spiritual need, and their misery had touched Ids heart.
After a short stay in Baltimore he traveled inland, toward Ohio and
Indiana. He came to the little town of Fort Wayne, where he found a
little congregation. Here Wyneken preached several times, officiated at
funerals, and baptized. The people learned to love him, and called him
as their pastor. From here he journeyed to and fro, and, undaunted by
hardships, visited his scattered brethren of the faith, brought them the
Word of Life, and gathered them into congregations. In the following
years other Lutheran pastors, some of them accompanied by their
congregations, also came to America. In this way the Lutheran colonies
of the Saginaw Valley were founded.

2. THE TREE. In 1845 a number of likeminded pastors met in conference at
Cleveland, Ohio, to discuss the founding of an orthodox Lutheran synod.
In the following year several of these pastors met in St. Louis in order
to consult with Walther and other Saxon pastors concerning the same
matter. On this occasion the draft of a synodical constitution was
carefully considered together with the local congregation. This draft
was later on submitted to an assembly at Fort Wayne. Finally, in 1847,
at Chicago, the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and
other States was founded. Walther was unanimously elected president. The
members of this synod had recognized that the doctrine restored by
Luther and contained in the confessions of the Lutheran church is the
true and pure doctrine of the Word of God. Upon this foundation they
resolved to stand and in the future carry on together the work of the
Lord in this country. And to this day, by the grace of God, they have
remained true to this confession. They accept God's revealed Word as the
only source of knowledge for doctrine and practice. And the heart of all
their teaching is the doctrine of justification of a poor sinner before
God, not through his own works and merit, but alone through faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ. "God's Word and Luther's doctrine pure shall through
eternity endure," is the watchword which the synod has not only written
on its _Lutheraner_, but which its members also dearly cherish in their

For the preparation and education of its pastors and teachers the synod
has, in the course of years, established a large number of institutions.
The first of these is the Theological Seminary at St. Louis. In this
institution Dr. Walther labored with signal blessing as professor, and
through his lectures and his many writings became the leader of
teachers, pastors, and congregations. He died in 1887. In Springfield
the synod has its Supplementary Theological Seminary, in which Prof.
Craemer labored for many years. The Seminary for Teachers is in Addison.
Its first director was the sainted Prof. Lindemann. The preparatory
institutions are in Fort Wayne, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and at several
other places. About sixty professors teach at these institutions.
Essentially the work of the synod is carried on in the same way as at
the time of the fathers. In the same manner as Wyneken missionaries
travel about visiting their scattered brethren in the faith and
gathering them into congregations. At the same time with the
congregation the parochial school is founded and developed for the
education of the children in the Catechism.

In 1872 the Missouri Synod joined with other orthodox synods, forming
the Evangelical-Lutheran Synodical Conference. At present this is
composed of the synods of Missouri, of Wisconsin, of Minnesota, of
Michigan, and of the English Evangelical-Lutheran Synod of Missouri and
other States. The synods of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan have
united to form a general synod and possess several institutions for the
education of pastors and teachers. Their theological seminary is at
Milwaukee. The Norwegian Synod, which confesses the same faith, also has
several educational institutions. The English Synod at present has
colleges at Winfield, Kans., and Conover, N. C. All these synods are
indefatigable in the work of mission and in the preservation of the pure

The mustard seed has become a tree, a tree whose branches cover not only
the states of the union and a great part of British America, but whose
twigs extend even to South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia; a tree
continually growing new shoots beneath which birds of passage from every
province of Germany and from every country of the world have found their
home, and raise their hymns in the most diverse melodies to the honor
and praise, glory and worship of the triune God. Everywhere, nearly all
over the globe, is sung: "Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice," and
from countless lips Luther's hymn of battle and triumph is heard, "A
Mighty Fortress is Our God!"

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life of Luther - with several introductory and concluding chapters from - general church history" ***

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