« EdellinenJatka »
Church of England Magazine.
FEBRUARY 1, 1823.
MEMOIRS OF THE REFORMERS.
who would find in the intrepidity of The providence of God was con- their client a great moral check to spicuous in the work of reforma- vacillating policy. The heroes of tion, in making use of instruments Zurich and Basle, with a calm cousuited to their respective circum- 'rage, went round the hill to meet stances. In Switzerland, where their enemy; the Wittenberg leader republican feeling and popular go- seized a standard, dashed up the vernment prevailed, and where ascent, and called on all brave men public measures were discussed in to follow him till they gained the deliberative assemblies, Zuinglius, summit. Ecolampadius, and their associ- Consistent with this boldness of ates, proceeded with that cautious personal character was the sharp and measured advance, which cha- and nervous manner in wbich he racterized innovators addressing conducted theological controversy. their propositions to liberal autho- He occasionally seasoned his arrities, who would be guided in gument with so much Roman wormtheir determinations by a majority wood as well as Attic salt, that it of votes. In Germany, the case
is no wonder his enemies should was different. The Saxon Re- have called him bitter and intemformer had to contend with despo- perate. But it was easier to centic princes and powerful ecclesias- sure his warmth, than to equal his tics, to whom he was bound to op- zeal or his talent. Erasmus did pose an undaunted front. He him justice, when he declared, that found himself not unfrequently
“God sent that latter age a severe placed in situations, in which posi- physician on account of its invetetive assertion would do more than rate maladies.” If he had neither submissive reference; and had to the polish of Erasmus nor the deal with persons, to whom, hu- gentleness of Melancthon, it was manly speaking, concession would because he saw the barrenness of have been fatal to his cause. That the former, and the inefficiency of firmness and decision which mark- the latter; and men do not look for ed the character of Luther contri- the grace of the Apollo in the buted mainly to his success; for it muscle of the Hercules. Milton had this advantage, that it brought defended the occasional severity of matters at once to a crisis, and this great polemic. After alluding tended to give him the immediate to the strength of prophetical debenefit of any aid to be derived nunciation in Holy Writ, he obfrom such patrons as God might see serves,
will ft to raise up in his support, and had immediate warrant from God
to be thus bitter; and I say, so which they had lain so long." To much the plainlier it is proved, that this, however, Bayle replied, that, there may
be a sanctified bitterness “ because God is pleased someagainst the enemies of Truth. Yet times to make use of such instruthat ye may not think inspiration ments, it will not follow that pasonly the warrant thereof, but that it sion and violence are commendable, is, as any other virtue, of moral upon pretence that the corruption and general observation, the ex- of the world needs the harshest ample of Luther may stand for all;" treatment *.” whom God made choice of before Nor is it pretended to exculpate others, to be of highest eminence in any character that wrath of man, and power in reforming the church; which worketh not the righteouswho, not of revelation, but of judg- ness of God. And Luther, who ment, writ so vehemently against had the example of an apostle for the chief defenders of old untruths sharp rebuke, was yet not free in in the Romish church, that his own its exercise from the admixture of friends and favourers were many human passion. But the greatness times offended with the fierceness of the work that he accomplished of his spirit. Yet he being cited inclines us to overlook the roughbefore Charles V. to answer for ness of the handling. If, in conhis books, and having divided them ducting the processes of his moral into three sorts, whereof one was chemistry, he sometimes neglected of those which he had sharply the due preparation of his vessel, written, refused, though upon deli- when about to be exposed to unberation given him, to retract or usual heat, we readily exchange unsay any word therein, as we may regret at the passing inconvenience, read in Sleidan. Yea, he defends for admiration of the adventurous his
eagerness, as being of an ardent skill which conferred so much bespirit, and one who could not write nefit on the world. It ought to be in a dull style; and affirmed, he added, that while some allowance thought it God's will to have the is made for his controversial inventions of men thus laid open, warmth from constitution or proseeing that matters quietly handled, vocation, the fashion of the time were quickly forgot. And here should be taken into consideration, withal, how useful and available which sanctioned, in the mildest God had made this tart rhetoric in disputants language, which in a the church's cause, he often found more refined age would be accountby his own experience. For when ed scurrilous; and that by prayer he betook himself to lenity and and watchfulness he not only bemoderation, as they call it, he came guarded against acrimonious reaped nothing but contempt, both feeling, but even discovered placafrom Cajetan and Erasmus, from bility on very trying occasions. Cochlæus, from Eccius, and others; When Melancthon once came to insomuch, that blaming his friends him much moved with passion, he who had so counselled him, he re- addressed him with this conciliatsolved never to run into the like ing admonition : “ Command thy
Claude also, in excuse wrath, as thou canst all beside t. for his intemperance, pleaded that Then smiling said, “ Let us dispute
perhaps there was some particu- no more of this matter," and immelar necessity, at the time of the diately turned the conversation to Reformation, to employ the strong other topics. est expressions to awaken men This extraordinary individual from that profound slumber, in
* " error
* Bayle's Dict. art. Luther. * Milton's Prose Works, fol. ed. 1697, + Vince animos iramque tuam, qui cæ
first drew the vital air at Isleben in guished for humility as well as the county of Mansfeld, and in the for literary attainments: when circle of Upper Saxony; but his he entered the school, he took parents resided at Mæra, a village off his cap, and made a low bow near Eisenach. His birth occur- to the pupils, before he assumed ring on the eve of St. Martin, 1483, the chair; and when some of his he received at his baptism the colleagues chid him for that mark name of that saint. His surname of condescension, the more polite of Luther he derived from the cir- monk replied,
- I consider that we cumstances of his father's property are sitting here among lads, many and vocation, the former consisting of whom, in God's good time, will in mines, and the latter in metal- become consuls, chancellors, doclurgy. That respectable man was tors, and magistrates; and therea magistrate of great integrity at fore, though I cannot tell for whom Mansfeld, and known among his among them these honours are defellow-citizens by the appellation signed, yet I think them all entitled of John Luder or Luther, signify- to be treated with respect.” ing the refiner. His mother was an In 1502, he went to Erfurt, amiable and pious matron, called where he studied logic, and read Margaret Lindemann, whose father Cicero, Virgil, Livy, and other was a citizen of Neustadt, and of classics, not, as the generality a good Franconian house. She of the scholars, for the mere sake was not aware of her near approach of becoming a good Latinist, but to child-birth, and had gone to a with the further view of gaining fair at Isleben, where at night she a knowledge of the human characwas delivered of a son, and whither ter, through the instances brought with her husband she afterwards before him by these writers. He removed *.
was admitted Master of Arts in His parents were
careful to the following year, at the age of bring him up in the nurture and twenty; and having finished a admonition of the Lord; and when course of philosophy, and made instructed in bis catechism and the great proficiency in his studies, he first rudiments of learning, he was was advised by his friends to desent at fourteen years of age to vote himself to the study of the Magdeburg, with John of Rein- civil law, in the practice of which eck, a neighbouring nobleman's profession it was hoped that he son, between whom and Luther would be distinguished by his great there always remained a mutual abilities. esteem in after-life. Here he
pass- One day, however, as he was ed a year, living on the bounty of taking a walk in the fields with a others, though the son of a sub- particular intimate and brother-stustantial parent, which in those days dent, a flash of lightning struck his was no uncommon case. He was companion dead at his side. So then sent to Eisenach, in which distinguishing a mercy, by which town were some of his mother's one was left, while the other was, connexions, and where was a Fran- taken, was calculated to affect the ciscan seminary. He lodged in mind of a serious and thoughtful the house of Conrad Cotta, a gen- young man.
He was so much imtleman of senatorial rank, and at- pressed by the event, that he retended the lectures of John Trebo- solved to give up the study of the nius, under whom he studied gram- law, and entering into the Augusmar for nearly four years. This tine convent at Erfurt, devote himvenerable lecturer distin- self to that of theology. Accord
* Melchior Adam, p. 47.-Seckendorf, ing to some accounts, he was so Hist. Lutheran. p. 18-20.
much alarmed at the thunder-storm,
that he threw himself prostrate on committed many parts to memory,
This wrote to his friends, giving them an sickness is not unto death; for God account of his determination. They intends you for a man who shall were much vexed at a plan, which be a comfort to many others.” threatened to disappoint their hope During his noviciate he was harshly of his eminence in the practice of treated by the unfeeling friars, who the law; and his father advised him made him clean out their apartto beware, that while he obeyed ments, and go about the town with what he thought a call from heaven, a bag to solicit alms; but at the he was not in fact yielding to a de- intercession of the college of which lusion of the devil. The remon- he had been a member, he was exstrance was ineffectual, and he be- 'cused from an office which was came a monk.
not only a degradation of his rank, He continued for some time in a but an interruption to his studies. melancholy state, and would admit He became very dear to John Stauno one to converse with him for a picius, vicar-general of the order, whole month. As he was looking an exemplary and pious character, over the books of the college-li- who ordered the prior to let him brary he met with a Latin Bible, have time for reading and the culwhich to his great joy he found to tivation of his mind. He also told contain much more than was usu- Luther himself diligently to study ally read to congregations in the the Scripture; and when the young churches. He perused with avi- cenobite opened to him his mental dity several passages, particularly anxiety, and complained of the the story of Samuel and his mother distressing thoughts to which he Hannah, and laying down the vo- was subject, he observed, “ You lume exclaimed, in the fulness of do not know, Martin, how useful his heart, “ O that I could possess and necessary this trial may be to such a book as this !” On entering you. God does not exercise you the monastery he had parted with without reason. You will see by his classical and other works, ex- and by that he has some great purcept Plautus and Virgil, which he pose to execute by your means. retained for occasional recreation, The death of a friend named The brothers, perceiving his desire Alexius, who had been cruelly to be in possession of the sacred slain, added to his suffering. Every volume, which was a fair manu- afflictive dispensation produced script bound in red leather, pre- deeper views of the evil of sin, the sented him with it. The ardour of wrath of God against unrighteoushis mind was so great, that he ness, and the punishment awaiting wished to read all at once. He the wicked in another state of ex
istence. He would think on these clares the Apostle, that man is freesubjects, till he was ready to faint. ly justified by faith.” Luther was “ If these latter circumstances," much comforted by this remark, says a French Protestant autho- and reflected how often Paul has rity, speaking of his distress of said, “ We are justified by faith." mind, resolution of monasticism, He then perused every exposition &c. “ do not indicate an enlighten- upon which he could lay his hand, ed piety, they yet serve to show and studied attentively the writings that apprehension of the divine of the Prophets and Apostles. power, and that lively conviction He also much delighted in the of our responsibility, which form works of Augustine, as exhibiting one of the most characteristic traits more of the pure spirit of the Gosof a pious man.” And Milner re- pel, than any of the divines and marks: “ The fear of God predo- schoolmen which were then in minated to a very high degree in fashion. He read and wrote with Luther's mind; and a nice sensibi- so much assiduity, that he omitted lity of conscience, attended with an the repetition of the canonical uncommon insight into the depth of hours, to which service as a monk our natural depravity, allowed him he was obliged every day; and no rest. As yet he understood not then, when his conscience smote the Scriptures; nor felt that peace him, he would shut himself up in his of God which passeth understand- chamber, and go over as much as ing. He had too much light to sit served for two or three weeks, abdown in slothful content and indif- staining from meat and drink, and ference, and too little to discern the punishing himself with such rigour, rich treasures of the Gospel, and that for five weeks together he was apply its healing promises to deep a stranger to sound sleep, while convictions of sin and misery *." through inanition and wakefulness
“ I wish I knew," said he one he became light-headed. He found, day to his friend the old monk, however, much relief in his fa“ what is the full meaning of that vourite music, and in the compoarticle in the Creed, I believe in sition of hymns and chaunts. the forgiveness of sins.” –“ It In 1507 he was ordained, and means," answered he, “ not mere- celebrated his first mass on the sely that we are to believe that God cond of May. As he received forgives sins in a general way, as holy orders with a deep sense of the transgression of David or Peter his own unworthiness, so it has was remitted, which faith devils been allowed by his Popish adthemselves have; but that it is the versaries, that he was very dilicommand of God, that each one gent in the performance of the clerifor himself should believe in his cal office, “ From the time that particular pardon." He added, he entered the sacred function," that this interpretation was con- says one of the most bigoted, firmed by the testimony of Bernard, was accustomed to offer the most and pointed out a passage in his holy sacrifice of the mass almost sermon on the Annunciation to this every day; till he suffered himself effect: “ Thou must believe fur- to be persuaded by certain sugther, that thine own sins are for- gestions of Satan, that in the New given by him. This is the record Testament there was neither priestwhich the Holy Spirit witnesseth hood nor outward sacrifice*.” in thine heart, saying, “Thy sins The next year he was invited be forgiven thee. For thus de- by his friend Staupicius to teach
• Musée des Protestans célèbres, T. p. philosophy in the Augustine semiprem. part. p. 125.-Milner's Hist. of the nary at Wittenberg, where also he Church, rol. iv. p. 324.
• Ulenberg, Vita Lutheri, p. 8.