Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

was

of two years, the title of “ Magis- this, and Luther was subsequently ter;" which confers the authority filled with regret at having provokof teaching in public. His invari-ed the displeasure of his father. able rule

to prepare

and Yet he was forced to remain in the strengthen himself for his pious cloister, and this was for good labours by prayer to the Lord, a purposes no doubt from an espractice he would often and ur-pecial providence of God. gently recommend to others. About this period, Frederick,

As the instrument, in the hands Prince of Saxony, conceived the of the Lord, through whom those plan of establishing a new univereternal truths, then almost entirely sity at Wittenberg Dr. Stanpitz, out of practical remembrance, the Prince's chaplain, was commiswere to be re-published to the sioned to appoint the requisite worki, he was in the first instance teachers to that establishment. led to a knowledge of them for Knowing Luther, as a young man himself. There was at Erfurth a both of learning and piety, Dr. large library, which Luther fre- Stanpitz called for him to Wittenquented with a view to the en-berg. In the year 1508 he became largement of his own knowledge. a master at the new university, Here he one day found a Latin Here his labours, from the very Bible, and how great was his joy ! commencement, were matter of He never had seen one before. astonishment to his colleagues. Opening it at the history of Samuel, Dr. Mellerstadt having heard him he read that portion through at on one occasion, said,

" In this once; and as often as he could, man dwells a fine spirit ; he rests returned to read his Bible, and firmly on the Bible and the word thus he acquired wisdom and di- of Jesus Christ, which no man can vine instruction.

overthrow." Yet, in order to his proclaiming Whenever it pleases God to acthe truth to the world, it appeared complish some divine appointment, best that he should have an official all things must combine to work in calling; and this was brought about its favour. Thus it was necessary by the Lord in a wonderful manner. that Luther should be made acLuther had consented, agreeably to quainted with the great corruption his father's wishes, to embrace the of the church at that time. In the profession of the law. Taking a year 1510, the cloister at Wittenwalk one evening, with a friend berg had some favour to seek at named Alexius, they were over the hands of the Pope. Luther taken by a severe thunder-storm. was called upon to proceed to A flash of lightning struck so near Rome, and this again was a manito Luther, that he fell to the ground festation of God's especial design, and remained senseless for some for thus Luther became an eyetime, whilst his friend was actually witness to the wickedness of the struck dead at his side by the clergy there, and to the general same flash. In his great fright, wretchedness which prevailed; and Luther vowed that he would be at which he felt deeply distressed. come an ecclesiastic, and enter a He afterwards frequently said, “ he cloister. He imagined thereby to would not take one thousand florins please the Lord, and accordingly not to have seen Rome.” he went forth with into the cloister On his return, in 1512, he was of Augustine at Erfurth, in 1507. commanded by his cloister to be His father was much displeased at come'“ Doctor of the Holy Scrip;

[ocr errors]

tures." At first he objected, not various countries, offered to the knowing the mind of God in this people, in the name of the Pope, providence; but he presently yield- and for money, absolution from ed, and the Prince himself defrayed acts of penitence, and forgiveness the requisite expences. The result of sins. One of these priests, was favourable. Luther now pos:

named John Tetzel, belonging to sessed authority and courage, and the cloister of the Dominicans at was able to dispute with effect. Pirna, was eminently skilful in On being reproached with the strict- these wicked extortions, which he ness of his teaching, he would accomplished by various sorts of reply, “ They have made me Doc- lies and deceptions, pretending he tor of the Holy Scriptures : I have possessed the power of pardoning, sworn by the Bible ; and to the by order of the Pope, the grossest Bible I will hold.”

sins, even such as they (the peoBefore he could apply a remedy ple) might intend to commit in against the corruption then pre- future, if they would but pay large vailing, it was necessary that he sums of money ; a truly horrible should first become more fully ac- state of things.

Such as gave quainted with its nature and extent; what he chose to demand, were and accordingly it pleased God so furnished by him with letters, testo order the course of events, that tifying that their sins were pardonLuther was commissioned by Dr. ed. These letters were called Stanpitz, in 1516, to visit all clois- letters of absolution. ters in Meissin and Thuringen. And In the year 1517, Tetzel came what did he discover there ! How into the neighbourhood of Juterdid he speak and teach! The Bible bock and Wittenberg, from which was what he universally recom- places several of the inhabitants mended to the clergy, and he in- went to him to purchase letters of sisted on order and regularity. absolution. Luther, upon being

Thus the principal instrument informed of this, taught the people was become prepared and fitted, in his sermons, that no forgiveby various means, for the accom- ness of sin could be purchased for plishment of the great work; and money, but that God was willing by him the other estimable indivi- to give it gratuitously and freely, duals mentioned before, who saw for Jesus Christ's sake, to all those more and more clearly the justness who were penitent and willing to of Dr. Luther's doctrines, and felt amend. Yet several came to him constrained to become his faithful to confess great sins. Dr. Luther coadjutors, were both instructed explained to them the nature of and encouraged to proceed. true repentance, but they replied ... But how was the work of refor- that they stood in need of none, mation carried on? Just like all having procured letters of absoludivine operations ; gradually, and tion. Luther, distressed and moved by means of particular circum- to pity by the deception practised stances favourably combining, al- on the people, earnestly told them though accompanied by many hin- that their letters could avail them drances and sacrifices. Among nothing, there being no remission the nearest and most important of of sins without repentance ; wherethese circumstances, was the great upon they returned to Tetzel, comabuse existing with respect to the plaining that they had purchased system of absolutions. Priests at his letters of absolution in vain. that time, travelling throughout | Tetzel bécame so enraged at this,

to

that lie said Luther ought to have himself, however, wrote to the his tongue cut out, and then to be Prince, complaining of the protecburnt alive. And in order to create tion he was extending to Luther, alarm, he actually caused a scaf- and demanded anew that he should fold to be erected at Juterbock. send him to Rome. But the Prince But what did Luther do? Confid- feared God, and complied not with ing firmly in God, whose glory he the Pope's desires. Luther's work, sought to promote, he published a meanwhile, made constant prolarge book, wherein he explained gress : be published many good how a man might obtain forgive- books, particularly sermons, which ness of sin. Nay, he wrote down travelled through the world, and ninety-five especial articles on the imparted light and comfort unto subject, and affixed them, accord- many. ing to the custom of the universi- The new year, 1519, brought ties, to the walls of the palace with it a new trial to Luther. The church at Wittenberg, inviting all Pope sent his Chamberlain, Mr. men of learning to discuss the Von Miltit, to the Prince of Saxony, matter with him, and to examine to try either to gain the Prince in whether or not these propositions his favour, or to turn the mind of were true, or whether they were Luther. To meet this messenger, able to disprove his doctrines. Luther was invited to come This took place on the 31st of Oc- Altenburg, and was there urged, in tober, 1517, which day is in many a very friendly manner, to change places celebrated annually as the his mind. Luther replied, “ What anniversary of the Reformation, to I have taught I cannot retract, for which great work this was the first I have taught the truth. great step. The consternation oc- willing, however, to desist from casioned hereby was so vast, as attacking Tetzel and his followers, speedily to reach the Pope, who, provided they hold their peace, in great rage, commanded Dr. and do not provoke me.” Thus Luther to come to Rome, to be outward quietness appeared to be punished; but God protected him. restored, but the enemies of truth He inclined the heart of the pious did not rest. Through their oppoPrince of Saxony) not to let him sition, they helped to forward the go. He was, however, obliged, in cause of 'reform. Dr. Eck, a 1518, to appear at Augsburg, to learned man, caused a disputation defend himself before a cardinal, to be held at Leipsic, but he could by whom Luther was commanded not prevail against Luther and to recant all his opinions, and to Carlstadt; incensed at which, he confess that he had been teaching proceeded to Rome, where he error. Dr. Luther replied, “This raised accusations against Luther, I cannot do: prove to me from the so strong as to provoke the Pope, Scriptures that it is so.” Being in great fury, to excommunicate threatened by the cardinal with Luther, and all who believed his punishment, he answered, “I have doctrines; permitting and comgiven up my will to the will of God, manding that they might be deand though I had four hundred prived of honour, office, property, heads, I would lose them all sooner and life. He caused the writings than retract my doctrine of faith.” of Luther to be publicly burnt at Whereupon, he was for this time Rome. But what did Luther, on set free.

hearing this ? Surprising is the step Some time afterwards, the Pope he now ventured upon. He took

I am

“ Since your

the Pope's bull and others of his prayer to God, and then was enpapers, and likewise burned them abled, by the strength of the Spirit publicly at Wittenberg ; thus prov- of the Lord, boldly to open his ing that he cared not for the pre- mouth, and to say tended visible head of the church. imperial majesty and your princely God, no doubt, gave him the cou- graces desire a round answer, I rage and the strength he thus dis- will give one that cannot easily be played.

misunderstood. Save that I be Still

many another hard conflict proved from God's word to have this brave reformer was destined erred, I neither can nor will retract, to sustain. God was with him seeing it is not good to do aught throughout, and Him he trusted contrary to conscience. Here I and obeyed; wherefore God did am ; I cannot turn; God help me. not forsake him.

A new emperor, Amen !” Charles V. had mounted the throne, The whole assembly was deeply and before him the Prince of agitated. They looked at one allSaxony and Dr. Luther were ac- other with astonishment. At length cused by the Pope ; the Doctor Luther was once more invited to being forthwith summoned to ap- retract, but he continued stedfast, pear at the Diet, to be held at requesting he might not be urged Worms, in 1521, before the empe- to act contrary to his conscience ; ror, princes, cardinals, and bishops, and then he was dismissed. Oli, in council assembled. Before these brethren, consider the hardness of he was to defend himself. He was the conflict, for his life was in advised by many not to go, seeing danger ; but remember also the the great danger attending such a glorious victory! Oh, the great step; but the brave Reformer re- power of faith and prayer! The plied, “I am called ; I must pro- emperor had given his promise to ceed in Christ, though there should have him safely re-conducted to his be at Worms as many devils as home, but now the ambassadors of there are tiles on the roofs of the the Pope urgently entreated the houses, yet I must go.” Some emperor not to keep this promise; reminded him of the fate of John to whom the emperor nobly reHuss, who was burnt alive at a plied, “And though truth and faith Diet held one hundred years before; should be found no where else in to whom he courageously replied, the world, they shall yet be found “ And if they made a fire, reach- with the Roman emperor.” Do you ing from Wittenberg to Worms, not again perceive here the finger yet I must go; I must defend the of God ? Gospel of Jesus.” How poble a But our hero for the truth had mind was Luther's! He arrived at not yet escaped from all dangers. Worms on the 16th of April, and After his departure, the ambassaimmediately on the following day dors succeeded so far as to induce was summoned to appear before the emperor silently to permit his the imperial assembly. Here lay being proclaimed “a banished the books published by him. He man;" that is, his life was placed was asked whether he were willing at the mercy of every man who to retract their contents. He re- might meet him. Luther was thus quested time for consideration, in the most imminent danger, but which was granted till the follow- his God was with him. He dising day. What must he have felt posed the heart of the Prince to then! He spent the whole night in send for him secretly, whilst yet on his journey home, and to secure These proceedings excited much a safe retreat for him. This was agitation at Wittenberg. Philip accomplished by means of armed Melanchthon and Justus Jonas, to horsemen, meeting him in a forest, whom alone the abode of Dr. Luwho forced him out of the carriage, ther was known, gave him inforplaced him on a horse, and hurried mation of what had taken place. with him to a castle named Wart- Luther did not hesitate, although burg. There he was disguised still in that state of great danger under the dress of a knight, a as to his life, in which he had been strange name being given him. placed by the declaration of “baThus he remained concealed for nishment” pronounced against him, the space of nine months, nobody he quickly ventured forth to Witknowing what was become of Dr. tenberg in the garb of a knight, Luther. Yet the work of the Re- and speedily succeeded in restorformation was not hereby stopped. ing order and peace.

For some No; that great cause was evidently time be kept himself concealed, advancing, for nothing ean prevent but soon resumed his occupations ; the accomplishment of whatsoever he taught, he put to print his transGod is pleased to foster. Dr. lated Bible, and he introduced a Luther here commenced the great better arrangement into the Chriswork of translating the Bible into tian service of God, with a view the German language; he also to a greater degree of edification. wrote many other good books, This was presently followed up by whilst his colleagues at Wittenberg similar changes at other places, were actively engaged in bringing and thus the work of reformaabout a salutary change at that tion succeeded in spite of all opplace. Many abuses were abo- position and persecution. The lished, a better style of preaching Prince Elector himself now dewas introduced, the holy sacra- clared, “ This is the work of God ment of the Lord's Supper admi- whom no man can resist.” In the nistered in a manner more consist- year 1524, Dr. Luther discontinued ent with the edification of the wearing the dress of a monk, and people, besides other improvements in the year following he was mareffected; and thus the Reforma- ried to Catharine von Bora, who tion was advancing at Wittenberg, had formerly been a nun. In the even during Dr. Luther's absence. same year the Prince Elector of Pretend not, feeble man, t'impede

Saxony died, and was succeeded The progress of the work of grace ; in the government by his brother God's great design shall still succeed, John, a Prince of the same princi

To bless and save our fallen race. ples of piety, and who upheld the The zeal, however, with which reformed church and its doctrine. the men in the case before us, pro- In 1528, the reformation was spread secuted their good work, was very through the whole of the princinigh made the cause of a danger- pality of Saxony. In the followous crisis. They proceeded too ing year, at the Diet held at Speyer, hastily, perhaps, to abolish rites the Emperor ordained that the reand practices, which, from the formed religion should no where want of more light in religious mat- be received; against which, howters at that time, were still held ever, the Princes protested, desacred by many; they quickly claring they could not, consistently removed all images from the with their own consciences, obey churches.

that order, and they were there

« PoprzedniaDalej »