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A History of the Life and Actions of the Very Reverend Dr. Martin Luther - Part 1

By Philip Melancthon

                                          A HISTORY OF THE LIFE AND ACTIONS

                                    OF THE VERY REVEREND DR. MARTIN LUTHER,

                                    FAITHFULLY WRITTEN BY PHILIP MELANCTHON.

                                                WITTEMBURG. 1549. (sic)

                                                   DR. MARTIN LUTHER.
                                                                              That venerable man, Martin
       Luther, whilst he was yet with us, gave us reason to hope that he might
       himself, narrate the story of his life, with the circumstances of' conflict
       attending it; and this he would undoubtedly have accomplished, had he not been
       so soon called out of this mortal existence, onto the eternal fellowship of
       God, and of his children in heaven.

       Profitable indeed, would have been the contemplation of his private life,
       clearly set forth, for it was full of examples calculated to confirm in after
       times. the piety of the wise-hearted; and profitable also would have been the
       recital of events which might tend largely to the information of posterity.
       Such a work would also have refuted the calumnies of those who profess that
       Luther, incited by the principal men of the day, or possibly by others, to
       seek the downfall of episcopal power and dignity, or inflamed by personal
       ambition, had become the instrument in loosing the bands of monastic thraldom.
       Much advantage would have been derived from a copious and complete notice of
       these incidents, illustrated and recorded by himself; and although malevolent
       persons may object, that self-praise is an unworthy theme for a man to choose,
       yet we well know the character of Luther to have been of such solidity, that
       he would have written, even his own history, with the utmost good faith. We
       may also assert, that many excellent and intelligent men are yet living, to
       whom he could not but be aware, that the series of these events was well
       known; it would then have been great folly, if as is sometimes done in works
       of imagination, he had fabricated any other narrative; but since his lamented
       death has deprived the world of his autobiography, we shall now, with
       fidelity, relate those things connected with it which we have heard from his
       own lips, and those to which we have ourselves been eyewitnesses.

       The name of Luther is widely spread throughout the ramifications of an ancient
       family within the Lordship of the illustrious Counts of Mansfield, but the
       parents of Martin Luther originally resided in the town of Eisleben, where he
       was born, subsequently they removed to Mansfield, where his father, John
       Luther, filled the office of magistrate, and for his integrity of character,
       was valued and beloved by all good men.   In his mother, Margaret Luther, was
       found a fair assemblage of domestic virtues; and a peculiar delicacy of mind
       was conspicuous in her character, accompanied by the fear of God and the
       spirit of prayer, so that many excellent women found in her a bright example
       of Christian virtues.   Her reply to questions which I have occasionally put to
       her, respecting the time of her son's birth, was, that she clearly remembered
       the day and the hour, but that she was doubtful as to the year; she said,
       however, that he was born on the 10th of November, after eleven o'clock at
       night; and that the name of Martin was given to the infant, because the
       following day on which, by baptism, he was initiated into the church of God,
       was dedicated to Saint Martin.   But his brother James, a man of uprightness
       and integrity, was accustomed to say, that the opinion of the family,
       respecting Luther's age was, that he was born in the year of our Lord 1483.

       When be had attained an age at which be was capable of receiving instruction,
       his parents diligently accustomed their son Martin to the service and fear of
       God, in connection with the performance of' social and family duties; and, as
       is usual with good persons, they took care that he should receive literary
       instruction, so that whilst yet quite young his education was entrusted to the
       care of the father of George Emilius, who, as he is still living, can bear
       witness to the truth of this relation.   At that time the grammar-schools of
       Saxony were not in a flourishing condition, and on this account, when Martin
       had entered his fourteenth year, he was sent to Magdeburg, accompanied by John
       Reineeke, whose character was afterwards of a shining order, and the influence
       which he obtained in that neighbourhood consequently great. The affection
       which subsisted between Luther and Reinecke, whether arising from a natural
       accordance of mind, or from their companionship in youthful studies, was both
       ardent and lasting.   Luther, however, did not remain at Magdeburg longer than
       twelve months.

       During four succeeding years, passed in the school of Eisenach, he had an
       opportunity of hearing a preceptor who illustrated grammatical studies with
       greater accuracy and ability than he could have met with elsewhere; for I
       remember to have heard his talents commended by Luther, who was sent to this
       town from the circumstance of his mother's descent from an ancient and
       honorable family in those parts.. Here he completed his grammatical studies.
       The powers of his intellect being of a gigantic order and peculiarly adapted
       to the science of eloquence, he speedily surpassed his contemporaries, both in
       the copiousness of his language as a public speaker, and in prose composition;
       whilst in poetry, be with ease excelled his competitors in the course of

       Having thus tasted the sweets of literature, the soul of Luther ardently
       thirsted for deeper draughts; and with this feeling he sought the University,
       as being the fountain head of learning.   The scope of so great a mind might
       easily have embraced all the arts in succession, had it found teachers
       competent to the work; and it is indeed possible that the calmer pursuits of
       philosophy combined with oratory, would have proved advantageous in moderating
       the impetuosity of his natural temperament.   But at Erfurt, he was subjected
       to the subtle dialectics prevalent at that time; these he readily embraced,
       since by the acuteness of his understanding, he perceived with more facility
       than other men, the causes and designs of those studies.

       His spirit thus thirsting for knowledge, continually sought a more abundant
       and better supply.   He read many of the works of the ancient Latin authors, as
       Cicero, Virgil, Livy and others; these he perused, not as schoolboys commonly
       do, merely by gathering together a vocabulary of words, but for solid
       instruction, and as mirrors of human life, by which means he gained a full
       perception of the views and opinions of these writers, and as his memory was
       both accurate and tenacious, much of what he read and heard was clearly placed
       before his mental vision.   Hence it was remarkable that even in his youth, the
       talents of Luther were the admiration of the whole University.

       Having attained the degree of Master in Philosophy, Luther now in his
       twentieth year applied himself to the study of the law; and this he did by the
       advice of his friends, who deemed that a mind of such large endowment, and of
       such fertility in thought and diction ought by no means to be kept in the
       shade, but to be called out for the benefit of the state.   Soon afterwards
       however, and when he had entered his one and twentieth year, suddenly, and in
       a manner unexpected by his parents and other relatives, he went to the College
       of Augustine monks, at Erfurt, and requested to be received into it.   On his
       entrance there, he not only applied with the closest diligence to
       ecclesiastical studies; but also, with the greatest severity of discipline, he
       exercised the government of himself, and far surpassed all others in the
       comprehensive range of reading and disputation with a zealous observance of
       fasting and prayer. He possessed a constitution at which I have often
       marvelled, being of no small bodily stature, nor of a weekly (sic) habit
       though very abstemious; I have seen him during four days successively, when in
       perfect health, literally abstain from both meat and drink; at other times for
       many days together, he has been satisfied   with a small allowance of bread and

       But the occasion of his entering on this course of life which he considered
       more particularly adapted to the attainment of piety and the knowledge of God,
       as he himself has related, and as many are already aware, was the following;
       often when contemplating the wrath of God, as exhibited in striking instances
       of His avenging hand, suddenly such terrors have overwhelmed his mind, as
       almost to deprive him of consciousness; and I myself have seen him whilst
       engaged in some doctrinal discussion, involuntarily affected in this manner,
       when he has thrown himself on a bed in an adjoining room, and repeatedly
       mingled with his prayers the following passage "God has concluded them all in
       unbelief that he might have mercy upon all." These terrors he experienced
       either for the first time, or in the most acute manner, during the year in
       which he was deprived of a favorite friend, who lost his life by some accident
       of which I am ignorant.

       It was not therefore poverty, but religious zeal that led him to this kind of
       monastic life, in which although he daily made himself acquainted with the
       doctrine then taught in the schools, read "the Sententiaries," and in public
       disputations, ably elucidated to admiring audiences, labyrinths of science,
       inexplicable to others: yet, as in this course of life he sought, not the fame
       of intellect, but an accession to his piety, he pursued these studies as a
       recreation, and thus mastered with ease the systems of the schools.   Meanwhile
       he drank with avidity from those fountains of celestial wisdom, the prophetic
       and apostolic scriptures, that he might acquaint himself with the will of God,
       and that be might by the surest testimonies, increase his filial fear and
       confirm his faith whilst the force of his mental anguish impelled him to
       pursue with greater intensity, these devotional exercises.

       He has often said that he was strengthened about this time by the discourses
       of a certain aged man, in the college of Augustines at Erfurth, who, when he
       disclosed to him the conflicts of his spirit, introduced his mind to new views
       on the subject of faith; and he has told me that he led him to that article in
       the creed, in which it is said " I believe in the remission of sins," which be
       thus interpreted, "that it is necessary not only to believe in general terms,
       that sins are remitted to some, as the devils also believe that they were
       remitted to David or to Peter in particular, but that it is the command of God
       that each individual man should realize the behest that his sins are forgiven
       him.(") Luther said that this interpretation of his friend was confirmed by
       the testimony of Bernardus, and that a passage in the discourse on the
       Annunciation, has these words ; "but add, that then believe this also, that by
       Him thy sins are forgiven thee." Such is the testimony which the Holy Ghost
       speaketh in thine heart, saying,   "thy sins are remitted unto thee;" and this
       is in accordance with apostolic writ, being justified freely by his grace,
       through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Luther was also established
       in these opinions, not only by the above conversations, but also by the whole
       tenor of the writings of the Apostle Paul, who uniformly inculcates the
       doctrine that we are justified by faith.   And when afterwards, he placed the
       expositions of various authors on this subject, in comparison with the
       preceding conversations, and with his own consoling experience of the work of
       the Spirit, he evidently perceived the fallacy of the tenets supported by
       these writers; and as he read and compared the precepts and examples recorded
       by the Prophets and Apostles, and prayed daily for the establishment of his
       faith, a clearer light by degrees, shone upon his way.

       He now first directed his attention to the pages of Augustine, where both in
       "The Interpretation of the Psalms," and in "The Treatise on the Letter and the
       Spirit," he found many perspicuous sentiments which confirmed this doctrine of
       faith, and fanned the flame of hope that had been kindled in his breast; nor
       did he altogether relinquish the "Sententiaries.(") He could recite Gabrielis
       and Cameracensis, almost verbatim; for a long time also, he applied closely to
       the writings of Occam, the acumen of which author, he preferred to Thomas and
       Scotus.   He also read Gerson with diligence; but all the works of Augustine
       were frequently read by him, and well stored in his memory. This rigid course
       of application he commenced at Erfurt, in which town, at the Augustine
       College, he remained four years.

       At this time, in the year 1508 the Venerable Stupicius (sic) who had favored
       the opening of the University at Wittenburg, and who was desirous of promoting
       the study of Theology in that College, when he became acquainted with the
       talent and erudition of Luther, then in the twenty-sixth year of his age,
       invited him to that place, and there amid the daily literary exercises in the
       schools, his intellectual powers gained still increasing brilliancy.

       Luther was attentively listened to by men of high attainments, Doctor Martin
       Mellerstadius and others; and Doctor M. has often said, that so great were the
       energies of his mind, as to give clear evidence that he would one day, effect
       the overthrow of the theories of learning which were then taught in the
       schools.   He now first expounded the Physics and Dialectics of Aristotle; at
       the same time not forgetting his own favorite study, that of Theology.

       After three years he went to Rome, on account of a monkish controversy, and
       returning within a year, be was according to the custom of the schools,
       presented to the Elector, Frederic, Grand Duke of Saxony, and dignified with
       the degree of Doctor; for the Elector had heard him speak in public, and much
       admired his lofty genius, his convincing eloquence, and the happy mode in
       which he illustrated subjects brought forward in the assembly: but to form a
       just estimate of his we should remember that the degree of Doctor was
       conferred on Luther when only in the thirtieth year of his age. He has himself
       told us, that when he strenuously declined accepting the degree, he received a
       charge from Stupicius not to reject the honour conferred on him, adding in
       pleasantry, that God had much work to be done in the church, for which purpose
       at some future time, his labours would be called into action ; this although
       uttered in jest, was realized in the event; as a host of presages often
       indicates the approaching convulsions.

       Luther now began his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans; then, that on
       the Psalms; and he illustrated these writings in such a manner that, in the
       opinion of the wise and good, the light of truth first dawned upon them after
       a long night of darkness.   He here shewed the distinction between the law and
       the gospel; he refuted the error then reigning in the schools and councils,
       which taught that men deserve the remission of their sins on account of their
       own works, and the dogma of the Pharisees, that men are in themselves just
       before God.   In this manner Luther led the minds of men to the Saviour, and,
       like John the Baptist, he pointed out "the Lamb of God who taketh away the
       sins of the world".; he allowed that sins are freely remitted through the Son
       of God, and that we must all receive this blessing by faith; these, with other
       points of Christian doctrine, be set forth to them in a clear light.

       A career of usefulness thus nobly begun, invested with no common authority, a
       teacher whose practice so beautifully harmonized with his precepts, that his
       appeals evidently arose, not from the lips only, but also from the heart.   The
       charm of so admirable a character won the affections of his hearers, as
       according to the old proverb, "manner has more weight than words; " so that
       when he afterwards effected a change in some of the established modes of
       worship, men of rank who knew him well, were the less vehemently opposed to
       him, on account of the ascendancy which he had gained over the public mind by
       his elucidation of important theories, as well as by the sanctity of his life;
       and united with him in lamenting the prevalence of opinions by which they saw
       that the world was distracted.

       Luther did not at this time make any alteration in the ceremonies of the
       church; on the contrary, he still maintained a severe course of discipline
       amongst his disciples, nor did he mingle therewith any of his own formidable
       sentiments, but he explained to them, with renewed earnestness, the universal
       and all-important doctrines of repentance, of the remission of sins, of faith,
       and of the true consolation of the cross.

       With so admirable a theology, the religious world was much captivated; and to
       the learned also, it was not unwelcome, for they beheld, as it were, Christ,
       the prophets and apostles brought out of darkness, the prison, and the prison
       house; they perceived the distinction between the law and the gospel, between
       the promises of the law and those of the gospel, and between philosophy and
       the gospel; distinctions which certainly are not recognized in Thomas, Scotus,
       and others of their school; he thus contrasted, spiritual Holiness with the
       moral law.

       At this time, the attention of the pupils in the university was directed to
       the writings of Erasmus, as studies in the Latin and Greek languages; and thus
       a more genial philosophy being exhibited to them, many who possessed sound and
       liberal understandings, for the first time conceived a horror at the barbarous
       sophistry of the monks.

       Luther now began to devote himself more particularly to the acquirement of
       Greek and Hebrew, in order that having made himself acquainted with the
       properties and peculiarities of languages, and having drunk at the
       well-springs of knowledge, he might attain a greater maturity of judgment.

       When he entered on this course, venal indulgences were promulgated by Tetzel,
       a friar of the Dominican order and a most audacious sycophant; at the same
       time, Luther, who was ardent in the pursuit of holiness, being irritated by
       his impious and nefarious harangues, published his own propositions on the
       subject of indulgences, which are to be found in the first volume of his
       works; these he affixed to the church contiguous to the castle of Wittemburg,
       on the day before the festival of Allsaints, (sic) in the year 1517.   Upon
       this, Tetzel, acting by no means inconsistently with his character, and hoping
       to ingratiate himself with the Roman Pontiff, called together, as his council,
       certain monks and theologians imbued more or less with his own sophistry;
       these men he directed to compose something against Luther, in the mean time,
       that he might not appear to be silenced, he hurled not only declamations as
       before, but thundering accusations against Luther, and vociferated on all
       sides that this heretic would be destroyed by fire.   His propositions also,
       and his protest, were publicly consigned to the flames.   These ravings of
       Tetzel and his satellites, imposed on Luther the necessity of a more ample
       discussion of these subjects, and a further vindication of the truth.

       Such was the origin of a controversy, in which Luther, not as yet suspecting
       or imagining the future overthrow of rites and ceremonies, forcibly enjoined
       moderation, for he did not at that time himself entirely reject the
       indulgences.   He was, therefore, basely calumniated by those who said that he
       had made a plausible beginning with an intention eventually, to overturn the
       government, and this, by seeking power, either for himself or for others; so
       little truth was there in the accusation of his having been suborned or
       incited by courtiers, as the Duke of Brunswick expressed in writing, that even
       the Elector Frederic was grieved by the report of these contests, foreseeing
       as he did, that although they originated in a popular cause, yet that this
       flame would gradually spread far and wide, as is said of the strife in Homer,_

       "Soon grows the pigmy to gigantic size."

       As Frederic, one of the greatest princes of our times, was particularly
       anxious for the preservation of public tranquility, he was accustomed to refer
       matters of debate which affected the common weal, to the States of the empire,
       so that by many evidences, it was clear that he neither instigated nor
       approved the proceedings of Luther, but he frequently manifested his regret at
       the existing state of things, as he was apprehensive of stir greater

       Frederic being a wise prince, and uninfluenced by that worldly policy which
       hastens to extinguish every appearance of reform, and adhering in his councils
       to the divine law, which commands its to listen to the voice of the Gospel,
       which forbids us to resist acknowledged truth, and which calls that a
       blasphemy under the awful condemnation of God, which pertinaciously withstands
       it; he followed the course which many wise and learned men have done, he
       yielded up the cause to God.   He also carefully read the polemic writings of
       the day, and those which appeared to be on the side of truth he was unwilling
       to reject.

       I know, indeed, that Frederic often inquired the opinion of scholars
       concerning these matters, and, that in the convention held at Cologne, by the
       Emperor Charles the fifth, after his coronation, be asked Erasmus, of
       Rotterdam, in a friendly manner, whether he considered that Luther was in the
       wrong, in those controversies which then engaged so much of his attention; to
       this Erasmus candidly replied, that he was of opinion that Luther was in the
       right, but that he was wanting in gentleness of spirit; respecting which the
       Duke Frederic afterwards writing seriously to Luther, exhorted him to moderate
       the asperity of his style.

       It appears also, that Luther made a promise to Cardinal Cajetan, that he would
       maintain silence if his opponents would enter into a similar agreement; from
       which we may clearly perceive, that at that time he had no intention of
       stirring up further commotions, but that he was desirous of peace: by degrees,
       however, his attention was drawn to other subjects, as he was attacked on
       every hand, by illiterate adversaries.

       Then followed disputations on "The Distinction between Laws Human and Divine,"
       and, on "the Disgraceful Profanation of the Lord's Supper, by making a common
       sale of it, and its perversion in other ways," herein the whole design of
       sacrifices was explained, and the use of sacraments set forth; and when, now,
       the pious in monasteries found that the worship of images was to be
       relinquished, they began to decline from such an unhallowed devotion, Luther
       added to his "Explications of' the Doctrine of Repentance," of the Remission
       of Sins," of "Faith" and "Indulgences," these additional subjects, "The
       Distinction between laws Human and Divine," "The Doctrine of the Lord's
       Supper," with other sacraments, and also that "of Vows;" these were the main
       points of the controversy.   Eccius at this time instituted an inquiry into the
       extent of power possessed by the Bishop of Rome, for no other purpose than to
       excite the hatred of the Pope and of crowned heads against Luther.

       Luther, however, retained unaltered the Apostles, the Nicene, and the
       Athanesian Creeds; but he explained in many of his writings to what extent,
       and on what grounds, a change must needs be effected in human rites and
       traditions; what form of doctrine he wished to retain, and what administration
       of the sacraments he most approved, were obvious from a confession which the
       Elector-John, Duke of Saxony, and Prince Philip Landgrave of Hesse, &c.
       presented to the Emperor Charles the Fifth, at an imperial diet, in the year
       1530, and are apparent both from the rites of the church in that city, and
       from the doctrine with which our church now resounds, the chief of which is
       clearly comprehended in the confession.

       I relate these circumstances, not only for the information of pious men as to
       the errors which Luther attacked and the idols which he removed, but to
       convince them that he embraced every important doctrine of the Church,
       restored purity to its ritual, and exhibited models of reform such as is
       desirable in Christian churches; and it is well that posterity should be made
       acquainted with the views held by Luther.

       I here feel reluctant to mention those who first administered the Lord's
       supper in both kinds, those who first omitted private masses, and also what
       monasteries were first deserted, for Luther disputed but little on these
       points before the convention which was held at Worms in the year 1521.   He
       himself made no change in the ceremonies, but during his absence Carolostadius
       and others did; and as he and his party caused some disturbance, Luther on his
       return, by a plain declaration of his sentiments, testified what he approved
       and what he disapproved.

       We know that statesmen are usually much prejudiced against innovations of all
       kinds, and must confess that discords often arise even in the discussion of
       important topics, as amid the sad confusion of human things some evil will
       ever intervene.   But nevertheless, in the church, it is imperative that we
       esteem the commands of God before all worldly considerations.   The eternal
       Father spake thus concerning His Son, "This is my beloved Son, hear Him." And
       he threatens with eternal wrath blasphemers, that is to say, those who
       endeavour to destroy acknowledged truth, for which reason it became the
       incumbent and Christian duty of Luther, to censure those pernicious errors
       which men of the Epicurean school. shamelessly augmented, and his auditors
       were necessarily compelled to agree with so correct a teacher.

       If a total change be odious, if dissentions commonly prove injurious, as we
       now perceive with sorrow to be the case, then those who first propagated
       error, are as much in fault as those who now with diabolical pertinacity
       maintain it.

       I have dwelt on these subjects not for the purpose of defending Luther, but
       that pious minds both now and in after generations, may comprehend what is,
       and ever will be the government of the true church: how from among this mass
       of iniquity, that is, the abominations of mankind, God by the voice of His
       Gospel, "which shines as a light in a dark place," gathers the everlasting
       church unto Himself.   For example in the times of the Pharisees, Zacharias,
       Elizabeth, Mary and many others, were guardians of the oracles of God: again,
       before that time, there were many who offered prayer acceptably unto Him; some
       with more, others with less clearness, holding the doctrines of the Gospel;
       and such was that aged man of whom I have spoken, as supporting Luther under
       his deep conflicts, and who was to him in some degree a preacher of the true

       Thus, that God may henceforward preserve this light in the hearts of many, let
       us ardently pray, as Isaiah did for his hearers, "Seal the law among my
       disciples." Finally, it appears by this recital, that vain superstitions are
       not enduring, but that they shall be rooted up by an Almighty hand: these
       being the origin of dissentions, care is necessary lest errors should be
       taught in the church.

       But to return to Luther; as he first entered on this cause, uninfluenced by
       private ambition, so, although he was of an ardent and choleric temperament,
       yet, being ever mindful of his calling, he contended by argument alone, and
       forbade recourse to arms; thus be knew how to make a distinction .between
       functions of opposite characters, between that of a bishop teaching in the
       church of God, and that of the magistrate who, in his proper office, restrains
       the people by the power of the sword.

       And as Satan ever studies to distract the church by scandal, and to affix
       disgrace on the cause of God, whilst he rejoices in iniquity and delights in
       the transgressions and ruin of miserable man; so on that occasion, be excited
       the instigators of seditious tumults, as Monitarius and others of the same
       opinions; these Luther severely condemned, but he lent his own influence to
       honor and confirm all the bonds of social life. When I reflect however, that
       high ecclesiastics have often been deceived on this question, I unhesitatingly
       conclude that a mind which so constantly abode within the bounds of its proper
       calling, must not only have been governed by human wisdom, but guided also by
       light from above.

       Thus then he dissented widely from the seditious teachers of this age,
       Monitarius and the Anabaptists, also from those Romish Bishops who most
       audaciously and shamelessly affirmed that in connection with the gift of the
       ministry, committed to Peter by secret decrees, political power also was
       vested in him.

       In fine, he exhorted all to "render unto God the things which be God's, and
       unto Caesar, the things which be, Caesar's;" that is, that in true repentance,
       in the acknowledgment and promulgation of sound doctrine, in sincere prayer
       and in the maintenance of a good conscience, they should worship God, and that
       every man should in the performance of his civil duties, submit himself unto
       Him.   These were Luther's true principles, and to them he adhered,_he rendered
       to God the things that be God's, he taught correctly, he prayed earnestly, and
       he possessed all the other graces essential in the man who is acceptable to
       God. Lastly, in political society he ever avoided seditious counsels; and
       these virtues I regard with the greater admiration, as they cannot in this
       life be surpassed.

       Although the name of Luther is deservedly of good report, since he reverently
       occupied his talent, above all must we render thanks unto God for that by this
       his servant, He has restored to us the light of His Gospel; let us then retain
       the remembrance of his ministry, and spread his doctrines abroad.   Unmoved as
       I am by the clamours of Epicureans and hypocrites who either deride or condemn
       the plain truth, it is my decided opinion, that the catholic church accords in
       receiving the doctrine sounded forth in our temples, as the voice of God, and
       that it is incumbent on us, that a due recognition of it should pervade our
       devotions as well as our entire lives: in short, that this is the very
       doctrine, of which the Son of God says, "If a man love me he will keep my
       words, and my Father will love him and we will come unto him and make our
       abode with him." I here speak of that profound doctrine as it is understood
       and explained in our churches by pious and learned men, for although some may
       expound it more aptly than others, or one may sometimes speak with greater
       asperity than another, yet on the whole there is a general agreement among the
       wise and good, on subjects of this character.

       Whilst I have reflected much and frequently on the subject of doctrine, in
       times least, up to the days of the Apostles, I have plainly perceived that
       after the first reign of purity had passed away, four remarkable changes in
       doctrine, followed. During the age of Origen, although there were some who
       thought correctly, amongst whom I would place Methodius, for he discouraged
       the fantasies of Origen, yet in the minds of the people, he made the Gospel
       bend to Philosophy, that is to say, he encouraged the opinion that the just
       exercise of reason, merits the remission of sins, and, that this is the
       justice of which it is said, "The just shall live by faith." At this time the
       distinction between the law and the gospel, with the remembrance of apostolic
       truths, was entirely lost sight of; nor did the words Letter, Spirit, Justice
       and Faith retain their original signification.   Thus the proper use of words
       which are the signs of ideas, being lost, it became necessary that something
       should be devised in their place.   From these germs arose the Pelagian error,
       which was widely spread, so that although the Apostles had taught holy
       doctrine, drawn from the pure and salutary fountains of gospel truth, Origen
       mingled therewith much impurity.

       That the errors of this age might be corrected, at least in some degree, God
       raised up Augustine; he partially cleansed the sources, nor do I doubt that if
       he could pass a judgment on the controversies of the present time, he would
       cast in his vote with us: certainly on the subjects of the Free Remission of
       Sins, Justification by Faith, the Use of the Sacraments, and other points of
       less importance, he does think with us.   For although in some parts of his
       writings, he expresses himself more distinctly than in others, yet, if his
       reader will exercise reason and candour in judging him, he will perceive that
       his sentiments agree with our own; and, although our adversaries sometimes
       quote passages taken from his writings, against us, and appeal loudly to the
       Fathers, they do it not from any regard for truth or antiquity, but like
       sycophants, they invest images of the present day, with the authority of the
       ancients, to whom these images were unknown.

       Nevertheless, the seeds of superstition appear to have existed even in the
       ages of the Fathers; thus Augustine established certain regulations respecting
       vows, although he treats the subject with less austerity than others have
       done.   The contamination of their own times always in some degree, affects
       even good men, because as we naturally favour the existing customs of the
       country in which we have been nurtured; that expression of Euripedes is found
       to be true, "Every thing from the companion of our childhood is sweet." But I
       could desire that all who boast of being followers of Augustine, would revert
       to his standing, opinions to the very genius of his mind, if I may so speak,
       and not maliciously pervert mutilated expressions to their own views.   And now
       light being revived through the writings of this author, be became a blessing
       to posterity, for after him, Prosper, Maximus, Hugo, and others of a similar
       class, who were leading men in the schools, down to the time of Bernardus,
       closely followed the institutes of Augustine.   Meanwhile, however, the power
       and wealth of the Bishops increasing, there followed, as it were, an age of
       giants ; unholy and unlearned men reigned in the Church, of whom, some were
       accomplished in forensic learning, and in the arts of the Vatican.

       Then arose the Dominicans and the Franciscans, who, when they beheld the pomp
       and luxury of the Bishops, whose dissolute manners had become obnoxious to
       them, formed to themselves a more correct mode of life; and for the sake of
       discipline, they incarcerated themselves in Monasteries. Ignorance at first
       fostered superstition; but when they afterwards saw that the studies in the
       schools were directed only to forensic learning since in Rome, at this time,
       the practice of the law augmented the influence and wealth of many, they
       endeavoured to call public attention to the study of theology.

       But their wisdom failed them in this attempt. Albertus and his followers, who
       had embraced the opinions of Aristotle, began to convert the doctrines of the
       Church into philosophy; and this fourth age was not only impure, but
       absolutely polluted; that is to say, it infused manifest idolatry into the
       fountains of Gospel Truth.   And such labyrinths of false sentiment are to be
       found in Thomas, Scotus, and similar writers, that wiser theologians have
       always felt the need of ft more simple and a purer doctrine.

       Nor can it be said without glaring effrontery, that such a reform was uncalled
       for; since it is evident that many of the sophisms contained in these
       disputations, were not intelligible even to those who were conversant with
       such arguments.   Hence it is plainly proved, that they are blindly devoted to
       idolatry who teach the virtue of sacrifices as contained in works, who
       sanction the use of image worship, who deny the forgiveness of sin by grace
       through faith, and who in human ceremonies, make a sacrifice of conscience;
       and there are truly other things yet more degrading, which cannot be told, and
       at which the whole frame shudders.

       Let us therefore give thanks unto God, the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus
       Christ, who has been pleased by the ministry of Martin Luther, again to purify
       the sources of Evangelic Truth, and to restore sound doctrine to the Church.
       Whilst contemplating this theme, it behooves all pious men the world over to
       mingle their prayers and their sighs, and to supplicate in fervency of spirit,
       that God will strengthen the work which He has begun in us, because of His
       Holy Temple.

       "O Thou, the living and true God, the Eternal Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
       the Author of all things and of Thy Church, Thine is the word and the promise,
       'For my name's sake I will do it, that they may not blaspheme.' To Thee I pray
       with my whole heart, for the sake of Thine own glory and that of Thy Son, that
       by the voice of Thy Gospel, Thou wilt ever gather the Eternal Church unto
       Thyself; And for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified for us,
       and rose again, our Mediator and Intercessor, may it please Thee to reign in
       our hearts and minds by the Holy Ghost, that we may in sincerity offer up our
       prayers, and render service acceptable unto Thee. Deign also to bless the
       pursuits of Philosophy, and direct and support those principles and that
       discipline which are the guardians of wisdom and the protection of Thy Church.
       When Thou shalt have so built up the human race, that Thou shalt be
       universally acknowledged and adored; for which purpose Thou least made Thyself
       known by such clear testimonies, oh, grant that this fold, in which Thy true
       doctrine is heard, may not he brought to desolation; and since Thy Son our
       Lord Jesus Christ, when about to endure his agony, prayed for us, 'Father,
       sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy word is truth,' so, to the prayer of this
       our Great High Priest, we join our supplications, that the light of Thy truth
       may for ever shine in the sons of men, to guide and govern them."

       In prayer for these blessings, we have heard Luther daily engaged, and amid
       these devotions, his spirit was gently called from its mortal tenement, when
       he was in the sixty-third year of his age.

       Posterity possesses many of Luther's works, doctrinal and devotional.   He
       published [Greek] ((((((((((( or dialectic writings, which contain doctrine
       wholesome and necessary to man, calculated also to enlighten sincere minds on
       the subjects of "Repentance," "Faith with its genuine fruits," (the use of the
       Sacraments," "the distinction between the Law and the Gospel," and "between
       the Gospel and Philosophy," "on the dignity of political rank," and lastly,
       "on the most important articles which are essential to the Church." He then
       added [Greek] ((((((((( in which he refuted many pernicious errors; he also
       published [Greek] (((((((((; these are "enlarged illustrations of the
       Prophetic and Apostolic Scriptures," in which class even his enemies confess,
       that he has excelled all previous commentators.

       The value of these writings is appreciated by the religious world; but
       certainly in usefulness and laborious research, they do not surpass another
       work of his, "the interpretation of the Old and New Testaments," the
       perspicuity of which is so great that his German version may serve as a
       commentary; nor is this publication a commentary only, for it has very learned
       annotations, with a synopsis of the several parts subjoined; both of which
       exhibit a summary of heavenly doctrine, and inform the reader on the subjects
       of the discourse so, that from these sources, the children of God may draw
       sure evidences of the truth.

       Luther himself, wished that none should linger amid the products of his own
       mind, but was anxious to lead the attention of all, to the fountain-head of
       divine wisdom: he wished that we might hear the voice of God, that it might in
       the minds of many, awaken the true faith, and prayer, that God might be truly
       glorified, and that many might be made heirs of eternal life. .

       And now it becomes us to acknowledge these desires and these more abundant
       labors, and to remember them as an example also, that each study according to
       his talents, how he may best adorn the Church of Christ; for to these two
       great ends, our whole life with all its purposes and designs, should be
       referred; in the first place, that we may show forth the glory of God, and in
       the next, that we may benefit His church: in allusion to the former, Paul says
       "Do all to the glory of God;" and the latter is referred to in Psalm cxxii.
       "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem;" with a sweet promise added in the same
       verse, "They shall prosper that love Thee." These heavenly commands and these
       promises invite all to an enlightened knowledge of Christian doctrines: they
       call upon us, to love the ministers of the Gospel, and those who teach it in
       its purity; whilst they direct our studies and our labors to the propagation
       of sound doctrine, and to the maintenance of harmony in the Church of Christ.


       "Establish in us 0 God! that which "Thou hast wrought, and perfect the work
       "which Thou hast begun in us to Thy "glory, Amen."

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