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be various. The example of their priests and magistrates, the pomp of the ceremony, respect for an established usage, mere curiosity, or mere habit-these and a thousand other causes may have combined with superstition to attract them to the foot of the pontifical cross. Howbeit, the preacher, less regarding the motives than the numbers of his hearers, saw no cause to despair of his wonted harvest, or of the perpetual devotion of the people. He assumed the lofty tone which had hitherto overborne all resistance; he advanced the enormous pretensions which had so long subdued and paralysed the reason of mankind; and he had every promise before his eyes that the ordinary expedients would be followed by the long-accustomed success. Yet had Providence so ordered, that in this very moment of his pride and confidence the blow should descend upon himself and his church, and the age of disgrace and retribution at length commence.
LUTHER BEFORE 1517.
Birth and family of Luther-his father, John Luther-his early education at Mansfeld, Magdeburg, Eisenach-his necessary mendicitysupported by Ursula Cotta-his progress there and at Erfurth-his degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts-his musical talents— the strength of his religious feeling-he discovers a Latin Bible and applies to it—his sickness, and consolation by an aged priest-violent death of his friend Alexis-in spite of his father's reluctance he embraces the monastic life-his subsequent account of this to his father ―various drudgeries imposed on him-zeal with which he applies to study and meditation-ecclesiastical history, Greek, Hebrew, Dialectics -rigid in his observances-his inward conflicts or temptations become more violent-described by himself—founded in the fear of damnation -various quotations-he is noticed and consoled by the VicarGeneral Staupitz-his spiritual obligations to Staupitz, who gives him a Bible and predicts his future usefulness-doctrine of justification by faith-admitted to the priesthood, and in the following year raised to a professorship at Wittemberg-lectures first on Aristotleis then made Bachelor in Divinity, and lectures on the Bible with great success—his journey to Rome furnishes much valuable experience— Milan, Bologna, Rome-general infidelity of the Italians and of many of the Roman clergy-his disgust and its lasting effectbecomes Biblical Doctor in Divinity, and inculcates the efficacy and necessity of faith against the merit of works-his letter to George Spenlein-distinction between the Law and the Gospeldifference with Erasmus-his letters to Spalatin and Lanzus on that subject-he preaches before George of Saxony and gives offence-his doctrine carries him into direct opposition to Aristotle, and he expels him from Wittemberg-he publishes the "German Theology"-he puts forth theses on Grace, &c., in 1516, and the same amplified to 95 in 1517-and sends them to his friends, challenging disputation. -Such was Luther in 1517.
THE name of Tetzel introduces that of Luther. Through one of the vilest instruments of ecclesiastical rapacity we come to the mention of the man who not only
reformed the church, but regenerated the religion. And, since it is essential to the right understanding of the character of the Reformation that even the more minute circumstances of its origin should be placed in a clear light; and since this cannot be, unless we shall first form a just estimate of the principles and motives which influenced the chief agent in the mighty work; it will be proper in this place to notice what is important in the early life of the reformer, and to represent him such as he was, when he first emerged from academical obscurity and attracted the general attention of the Christian world.
Martin Luther was descended from a family of very moderate condition, which had long dwelt in the domains of the Counts of Mansfeld, in Thuringia. "I am the son of a peasant," he used to say; "my father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather, were honest peasants." His father, John Luther, an upright and industrious man, went soon after his marriage to reside at Eisleben, a small town in the part of Saxony contiguous. And it was there that, on the night of November 10th, 1483, a child was born to him: it was on the eve of St. Martin: the boy was baptized on the following day and named Martin accordingly.
John Luther had improved a naturally strong understanding by such application to books as was possible to one of so little leisure, and in those days. Margaret, his wife, was a devout and good woman, and was looked upon by her honest neighbours as a pattern of all virtue.* Thus was neither branch of Martin's education neglected. In his earliest years he was led to the knowledge and fear of God, and received, too, such intellectual culture as was provided by the spot where he lived.
His parents again removed to Mansfeld soon after his
* Melancthon, vita Lutheri.
birth, where they continued in great poverty. "My father was a woodcutter," says Luther, "and my mother has often carried the wood on her back to earn the means of bringing us children up." Their condition, however, was in due time somewhat improved. A connexion with the iron-mines worked at Mansfeld raised them above the lowest drudgery, and John, through the general respect acquired by his probity and good sense, was admitted into the local magistracy. This elevation advanced him to the level of the society which, humble as he was, he had ever courted-that of the better instructed among his townsmen,—and enabled him to assemble round his table the little scholars and ecclesiastics of the district.
Martin's first instructor was one George Emilius, the pedagogue of the place, from whom he received the foundation of his religious education, in the Catechism, the Decalogue, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, with some other prayers and hymns; and also the rudiments of Latin. But these acquirements were obtained through much severity and amid many stripes. On one occasion, as he himself relates, he was flogged by his master fifteen times in the same day. His domestic discipline was of the same character. His father administered with conscientious rigour what was so long considered as the only instrument of moral or intellectual cultivation; and even his mother engaged in the system with so much zeal as to draw blood by her chastisement. Some portion of these inordinate inflictions may, doubtless, be ascribed to the warm and resolute temper of the boy. And it was in the school of poverty and pain that he was formed for the hardships, and stripes, and struggles of a life of warfare.
When he had exhausted the literary resources of Mansfeld, as he had given some promise of proficiency, he was sent at the age of fourteen to a consider
able school at Magdeburg. He remained there for one year only; and history delights to record that one Andreas Proles, a provincial of the Augustinians, was there employed at that very moment in preaching with great zeal against the abuses of the church, and urging the necessity of an immediate and vital reformation.
The severity of Luther's education did not cease with the days of his childhood, or his removal from the parental roof and the rude hands of Emilius. He was withdrawn from Magdeburg through the inability of his parents to maintain him there, and sent to Eisenach, the native place of his mother, where he had many relatives, and where he might hope to find some friends. But there, too, he was driven to a somewhat humiliating method of providing for his subsistence. He went about, with the companions of his poverty, singing hymns from door to door, and receiving in return the slightest contributions of charity. It was not that any idea of degradation or disgrace was then attached, or is now attached, to that last resource of indigent scholars. "Let no one," (said Luther in after-life) " presume to despise in my presence the poor companions who go about singing from door to door and crying 'Panem propter Deum,'-' For the love of God, bread!' You know that the Psalmist says princes and kings have sung: and I also, I have been a poor mendicant; I have received bread at the house-door, particularly at Eisenach, my beloved city.” But the means of existence thus procured were at best precarious; and the occupation of mendicity, however necessitated and even authorised, was calculated to depress and chill the rising energies of the soul.
It does not appear that Luther was fortunate in this avocation he left Magdeburg through positive want, and it seemed likely that his residence at Eisenach would be of scarcely longer duration. It was becoming a ques