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labours in such farces.

Somewhat more than a year afterwards, on May 18, 1517, he wrote on the same subject in a more sanguine mood: "God is working among us. Our theology and St. Augustine proceed prosperously, and by the help of God are triumphant in our university. Aristotle is gradually losing ground, and will presently be consigned to irretrievable ruin. The lectures on the Sentences are ill frequented, while all the hearers are attracted to the schools of biblical theology."

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Thus it seems that even in so short a space his exertions had produced their effect. In the place of "the mountebank of Greece," and all his followers, of Jerome and others who had inculcated the merit of works, Luther had already substituted the writings of Augustine, and established his favourite doctrine. The inefficacy of the will of man, and his gratuitous justification through faith by grace alone, was become the basis of his whole system of theological instruction. He was confident through his entire persuasion that such alone was the religion of the gospel and the path of safety. And in this consisted, in his opinion, the real dignity and value of the chair of Wittemberg, that it gave him authority to communicate to others the convictions which absorbed his own mind, and which were essential, as he ardently believed, to the eternal salvation of his disciples.

In 1516 he republished a spiritual work called 'The German Theology."* In the Preface he scrupled not to pronounce it the most profitable book he had ever read, except the Bible and Augustine; while he deplored the long neglect and contempt of the word of God. In respect to certain charges brought against the divines of Wittemberg, that they preferred new ideas, and against

* Luther's Werke, xiv. s. 206. ap. Marheinecke, t. ii. p. 44.

German theology in general, that it inclined to mysticism, "Be it so," he continued: "I thank God that I both understand and find my God in the German tongue, as we have yet been unable to find Him either in Latin, Greek, or Hebrew. God grant that this little book may become better known; so shall we have proof that the German theologians are, without comparison, the best."

For the still further diffusion of his doctrine, Luther induced one of his hearers, a professor of Aristotle's Physics, named Bernard of Feldkirchen, publicly to put forth certain theses containing it. Among them were the following: "He who has not received the grace of God cannot keep God's commandments, nor prepare himself, wholly or in part, to receive grace, but remains necessarily under sin. Without divine grace the will of man is not free, but enslaved and willing to remain enslaved. Jesus Christ our strength, our righteousness, is the only discerner and judge of our deserts. Since all things are possible, as Christ assures us, to him that believeth, it is superstitious to seek for other help, either in man's will or anything else deemed holy."

The disputation took place in 1516. Luther presided, and this little academical debate produced some sensation among the German theologians. It may have been for that reason, that in the following year he drew up a much ampler exposition of his doctrines, that relating to the human will especially, which he expressed in ninety-five theses. It is not necessary to enumerate them here. We find it advanced, among other similar positions,-That man, being a corrupt tree, can only will and do what is evil;-that the will cannot by its own operation effect good; that it is not free, but captive;-that the infallible and sole preparation for grace is the election and everlasting predestination of God;-that on man's part there is nothing that precedes grace, only helplessness and

disobedience ;-that there is no moral virtue without sin; -that we are not the masters of our actions, but their slaves;—that there is no reasoning or syllogism suited to the things of God;-that Aristotle is to theology as darkness to light;-that he who is destitute of the grace of God sins incessantly;-that the law of God and the will of man are two opposites, which cannot come together without the grace of God;-that the law makes sin to abound by irritating and repelling the will, while the grace of God makes righteousness to abound by Jesus Christ, who leads us to love the law;-that those are under the curse who do the works of the law, and those blessed who do the works of the grace of God.

In order to give notoriety to these propositions, Luther sent copies of them both to Erfurth and to Nuremberg. The former he addressed to his brother monk and correspondent John Langus; and in a letter, dated Sept. 4, 1517, declared his willingness to defend them in public disputation before the university. He was not ignorant how "paradoxical and even kakodoxical" they were likely to appear to the monks and theologians of Erfurth ; notwithstanding, he was desirous to support them, and did not tremble at the probable array of his antagonists. But the men of Erfurth discreetly declined the challenge, and contented themselves with a private expression of their displeasure.

At Nuremberg he recommended them to Christopher Scheurl, the town-clerk of the city, in a letter dated five days later. And through Scheurl he requested that they might be further communicated to the most distinguished professor at Ingolstadt, in Bavaria, John Meyer of Eck. "Present them," he said, " to my very learned and ingenious friend Eck, that I may know what he thinks of them." This divine, to whom so prominent a part was destined in the impending controversies, appears not to

have taken any public notice of Luther's theses. They occasioned no argument or disputation either at Ingolstadt or Nuremberg. For, in fact, they related to matters which, however great their importance, were of a nature for the most part speculative; they touched in no respect the abuses of the church. They were addressed to the erudition or the piety of the few; they contained no appeal to the common feelings of mankind, no allusion to any of those practical topics of general interest which were within the grasp of every mind, and which secretly agitated the whole bosom of the Christian community.

Such was Luther-such in character, talents, occupations, principles-in the beginning of the year 1517. Full of genius, energy, sincerity and zeal; devoted to his church, as the visible representative of his religion; thirsting for salutary truth, and fearless in his search of it; impressed with one great doctrine as the very essence of Christianity, and daily and earnestly employed in diffusing it, and thus already committed in opposition to the established method of theological education; he seemed destined to work some important change in the ecclesiastical system-to relieve it from some doctrinal abuses to revive in it some portion of evangelical holiness-to inspire into its dry and corrupted members some breath of the spirit of Christ; and, by thus conciliating the offended sense and piety of his countrymen, to impart to it some additional vigour and stability. At the same time, though the more penetrating among his personal friends and hearers had long marked him out for the accomplishment of some such work, it is clear that he had formed no such project himself, but was contented to follow up the religious principles, which entirely engrossed him, in whatsoever direction it might please Providence to lead him.

72

CHAPTER III.

LUTHER'S DISPUTE WITH TETZEL.

Luther's Visitation as deputy of Staupitz-his two letters to Spalatin concerning the Elector-remarks-the great variety of his occupationshis effective preaching-thus he had great local celebrity when Tetzel appeared at Jutterbock-his account of his first collision with Tetzel— his first movement was in the character of a parochial priest-Tetzel's fury rouses his indignation-he affixes his theses on the door of All Saints' Church-the substance of those theses-the doctrines proposed in them, and the limits of their application to the subject of indulgences -they proceeded from a hatred of the abuse and a friendly feeling towards the church-he sent a copy, with a letter, to Albert Archbishop of Magdeburg-the character of Albert of Brandenburg-his diocesan recommends him to be silent, and he promises obedience-rapidity with which the theses circulated-substance of a sermon on the same subject-reflections on the importance of the question in dispute, especially in the view taken of by Luther-Tetzel publicly burnt the theses at Francfort-and published replies both to them and to the sermon the former composed by Wimpina-their substance--they shifted the ground of defence from the preachers to the pope-Luther replied to them, and the students of Wittemberg burnt themLuther solemnly disclaimed any share in this act.

THOUGH the name of Luther had not yet acquired any general or distant celebrity, it was not unknown nor without authority in the part of Germany where he dwelt. During the absence of Staupitz in the autumn of 1516, in the Low Countries, on an errand of superstition imposed on him by the elector, Luther was appointed to fill the office of vicar-general. In the discharge of his new duties he made a visitation in Misnia and Thuringia, and inspected about forty monasteries. Among them was that of Erfurth, in which he had so lately performed the drudgery of the humblest menial;

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