W. H. T. (William Herman Theodore) Dau.

Four hundred years ; commemorative essays on the reformation of Dr. Martin Luther and its blessed results, in the year of the four-hundredth anniversary of the reformation. online

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Online LibraryW. H. T. (William Herman Theodore) DauFour hundred years ; commemorative essays on the reformation of Dr. Martin Luther and its blessed results, in the year of the four-hundredth anniversary of the reformation. → online text (page 1 of 29)
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Purchased by the
Mrs. Robert Lenox Kennedy Church History Fund.

BR 326 .D3 1916

Dau, W. H. T. 1864-1944,

Four hundred years











3mr i^nnhnh f ^ars.

Commemorative Essays on the Reformation of
Dr. Martin Luther and Its Blessed Results.

In the year of the

of ti|f Epformatinn.


Edited by PROF. W. H. T. DAU.

St. Louis, Mo.
concordia publishing house.



A comparatively "iinknown priest and professor in a
small German town on the border of civilization sought
to ease his pastoral conscience by inviting the learned
doctors of his day to discuss with him a very sfaiple ques-
tion of Biblical teaching and Christian morals : Can par-
don for sins be sold and bought at so much per? There
was nothing unusual in his action : hundreds of others
had done the same thing before him, many more after
him. Nor was the question difficult. There has never
lived a person who has truly believed that a moral debt
can be liquidated in hard cash. But in every age there
have been persons credulous enough to become impressed
with a pretension of mysterious spiritual power ; and there
have been others of a shrewdly calculating disposition who
have thought it a fine convenience to be permitted to
settle their account, if not with God, at least with the
Church, on the contract plan of Give and Take, rather
than on the terms which the Eedeemer offers, when He
says : Repent and believe the Gospel ! Every age, too,
has produced enterprising men who would contrive in some
way to accommodate these interesting religious bargain-

Four hundred years have passed since the event took
place. That is a sufficiently long time for the entire affair
to be forgotten. Few deeds of men amid the kaleidoscopic
scenes of this fleeting life outlive oblivion. lAither's pro-
test contained the seeds of immortality. The world lias
assured itself long ago that there was wrapped up in that
simple, but courageous challenge more than a cursory
glance at the event in its external aspect would warrant


any one to assume. Xot onh' has the original act of the
Friar of Wittenberg been studied with unflagging interest
during four centuries, but also the bearings of that act on
the entire spiritual life of mankind have been uncovered.
Aside from its immediate effect on the accredited form of
the Christian religion of the day, there have resulted from
it, more or less indirectly, great changes in the intellectual
and social status of the race. Measuring the magnitude
of importance that is now attached to the event against
the insignificance of its original setting, one marvels that
out of so little there should have come so much. Surely,
this is not a mere man's doing: this is the finger of the
Almighty. The feat of slaying a panoplied giant with
a ridiculous pebble hurled from the sling of a shepherd
boy has been repeated.

Once more the world is preparing to review causes and
effects of this remarkable event. In the form of histories,
biographies, popular narratives, works of fiction, the Eefor-
mation in Germany has been told by hundreds of authors.
In thousands of monographs particular features of the
movement have been subjected to minute investigation.
Some years ago a brother, at our request, spent hours in
the British Museum of London turning the pages of that
part of the catalog of the famous institution that contains
the "Lutherana.'' Vastly greater still are treasures of this
kind hoarded by the libraries of Germany. It seems hardly
possible that anything new can be written on the subject.

The present volume of studies in the history of Luther
and liis work is put forth with no claim that it contributes
elements hitherto unknown to the world's knowledge. It
desires to be viewed, first, as a thank-offering to God and
an appreciation of God's instrument in the upbuilding of
His one, holy. Christian Church on earth. It is, there-
fore, a record of the personal faith of the contributors to
this volume and of hundreds of thousands of brethren who


share that faith witli them. The individuality that is*
stamped upon these essays^ and the variety of views which
they afford of identical or related facts, has not destroyed
the unity of the whole, but will^, it is hoped, lead the
reader to the reflection that real unity is inward, not out-
ward; it is not sameness, dead monotony, repetition, but
the lively working together of the members of an intelli-
gent organism, who, while acting independently and in
conformity with their peculiar powers in their given tasks,
still are obeying a common principle and realizing a com-
mon aim. Secondly, the special studies here offered, by
focusing attention on a particular feature in the character
of Luther and his work or on a critical episode in his
activitv, exhibit the many-sidedness of the Eeformer and
the wealth of information that can be gathered b}^ effort
concentrated on a given point. It is always, the same
Luther that is portrayed, but he is shown in each case at
a different angle of vision. Turning to any chapter of
this book, the reader will get a fairly complete account of
a subject, the materials for which he could not gather him-
self except by laborious research in many volumes. In
arranging the various articles, historical sequence has l)een
followed in a general way, discussions of the more abstract
subjects having been placed in suitable connections. The
chronological table at the end helps to locate events in the
panorama of Luther's life.

Four hundred years ! As the eye sweeps down the vista
of centuries, and the dim past rises into view, the mind be-
comes fascinated by the mighty struggles, the astonishing
sacrifices, the noble faith of a heroic age. At first the
world seems out of joint and a new chaos impending. But
out of the confusion there rises a new order. Conquering
truth stands triumphant on the battle-field. Owing to the
folly and malice of men its coming was a challenge and
the signal of war. It will always be thus : the assertion


of truth spells strife in a world in which all men are liars.
The spirit of Luther is marching on, leading to new vic-
tories. But in reality the advent of evangelical truth four
hundred years ago has ushered in a great peace and pros-
perity. Coleridge probably knew too little of the Lutheran
Church to be able to estimate correctly her valuation of
Luther, but he is right otherwise when he says : "How
would Christendom have fared without a Luther? What
would Rome have done and dared but for the ocean of the
reformed that bounds her ? Luther lives yet — not so bene-
ficiallv in the Lutheran Church as out of it — an antas^o-
nistic spirit to Eome and a purifying and preserving spirit
to Christianity at large." So is Froude right : "Had there
been no Luther, the English, American, and German peoples
would be thinking differently, would be acting differently,
would be altogether different men and women from what
they are at this moment."

God bless the Church for which Luther labored, and
speed her cause in every part of the world: the cause of
the open Bible, of free grace, of saving faith ! May Christ
continue to be to her what Luther proclaimed Him : her
all-sufficient Teacher, her merciful Reconciler, her loving
Shepherd-King !

Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo.
On the Festival of the Reformation, 1916.

W. H. T. Dau.



Formation — Deformation — Reformation. ( Dr. Abbetmeyer ) 1

Luther's Family. (Rev. Both. )' 13

Luther's Successive Appeals. (Rev. Morhart.) 24

Luther at Worms. (Rev. Broecker.) 36

Luther and Erasmus. (Rev. 'M. Walker. ) 49

Luther and Justification. (Rev. Dallniann. ) 61

Luther at Marburg. (Prof. Biedermann. ) 74

Luther the Faithful Confessor of Christ. ( Prof. Bente. ) . . . . 88
The Three Principles of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura,

' Sola Gratia, Sola Fides. (Prof. Engelder.) 97

The Open Bit^le. (Prof. Miller.) 110

Luther and the Peasant War. (Rev. Schoenfeld. ) 123

Luther's Marriage. (Rev. Czamanske. ) 138

Luther's Two Exiles: Wartburg and Coburg. (Rev. H.

Frincke. ) 146

Wittenberg in the Days of Luther. (Rev. Koepchen.) 159

Luther and His Friends. (Prof. Moll. ) 173

Luther as a Preacher. (Rev. Fritz.) 188

Luther's Influence on Popular Education. (Prof. Kohn.).... 194
The Economic Teachings and Influence of Luther. (Rev.

Pannkols^e. ) 206

Luther a Lover of Nature. (Rev. J. W. Theiss.) 215

Music and the Reformation. (Prof. Renter.) 227

Luther and the Classics. (Prof. E. G. Sihler.) 240

When England Almost Became Lutheran. (Prof.Th.Graebner. ) 254

Luther's End. (Rev. Haertel. ) . . 268

Tributes to Luther. (Rev. 0. C. Kreinheder.) 277

Luther and the Constitution of the United States. (Prof.

Romoser. ) 294

Lutheranism and Christianity. (Prof. Dau. ) 301

Chronological Table of the Age of Luther. (Prof. Dau.) .... 315

Formation — Deformation — Reformation.

. Dr. C. Abbetmeyer, Concordia College, St. P:iul. Miiiii.

Although the Reformation of the sixteenth century has
left its impress on niiiny phases of modern life, it is of
supreme significance as a religious movement, turning from
the aherrations of popery to the eternal foundations, restoring
the true conception of the Church and the mode of obtaining
membership therein, and building up, on the model of the
Apostolic Church of Christ, the Church of the Reformation.
Eor a proper appreciation of this great movement no retro-
spect from its consequences alone suffices; we must also and
chiefly consider its antecedents, that is to say, the Formation
and the Deformation of the Church, whose character and
origins are depicted in Scripture, and whose deterioration
and abasement is recorded by history.


According to Holy Writ, God created man good and holy,
and, even after the Fall, would have all men to be saved.
Most men reject the grace of God; some, however, believe
in Christ and have their sins forgiven. These, of whatever
time or clime, are "ilie com m anion of saints/' "a chosen
generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar
people," to show forth God's praises; a l-ingdom of souls in,
but not of, the world, believing in Christ, their King;
a spiritual edifice, erected, not of dead, but of living stones,
living children of God, who, living by Christ and in Christ,
and having the mind of Christ, are fitted together — brethren
all, though of various nations and stations — to form a holy
temple and habitation of God among men; one holy Chris-
tian Cluirch throughout all ages, against which the gates
c»f hell shall not prevail. God erects His Church by means

Four Hundrod Years. 1


of His Word, with which He endows His people to build
itself up by preaching in the name of Jesus repentance and
the forgiveness of sins, to grow stone by stone throughout
the ends of the earth, and to endure until the scaffolding shall
fall away, and the edifice, so long invisible to mortal eyes,
is completed and revealed in imposing grandeur and glory.

Wherever two or more believers are gathered together in
Christ's name, about His Word and Sacraments, the means
of the Church's growth and the signs of its presence, there
is God's people, there is a visible congregation, mixed, it
may be, with hypocrites, but in its outward complexion a con-
gregation of God's children. Under the form of visible
congregations the invisible Church within these performs
its duty of evangelizing the world, and enjoys the blessed
privilege of communion with God and the brethren.

In the apostolic days the temple walls grew apace, the
kingdom of God came with power ; and the Apostolic Church,
grounded as well as portrayed in the New Testament, will
for all time continue to be the model Church.

God established the early Church by means of His Word.
Wherever Peter, and Philip, and Paul, and Barnabas, and
Titus, and the other disciples went, their message was ever
forgiveness for sinners in the crucified and risen Christ.
"The Gospel," says Eusebius, "suddenly beamed on the earth
like a ray of the sun." And everywhere was manifested its
divine power. A breath of life moved over the vast field
of death. Gainsaying Jews and dissolute Gentiles — men
and women, rulers and slaves — in Jerusalem, in Samaria,
in Damascus, in Africa, in x\sia Minor, in Greece, in Home,
in the face of opposition and increasing persecutions, were
transformed into believing children of the living God. The
counsel and work was of God; no man could hinder or
overthrow it.

What was taught and believed in apostolic times we know
from the sacred writings of the apostles and the venerable
Apostles' Creed. The early Christians knew that forgiveness
of sin was by grace through faith in Christ, that faith was
the gift of God, that salvation was not for sinful man


a matter of merit and reward. They knew Christ to be their
only Priest and Mediator, and themselves to have free access
to the Son and the Father, They knew themselves to be
a company and society of forgiven, converted sinners and
therefore "the communion of saints," the spiritual temple
and body and bride of Christ. They knew that the Church
must have visible organizations for preaching the Word,
and that in these God knows His own.

The external organization and administration of the early
Church was such as befitted the "royal priesthood" of God's
children. In that community of brethren all were of equal
dignity. Each member had for himself access to the Word
and the heart of God, and to all conjointly had been given
one office, the ministry of the Word, the Office of the Keys,
a joint privilege and duty, to be performed, therefore, not
by individual initiative or promiscuously, but "decently and
in order," by the agreement of all. Accordingly, while the
apostles preached by the direct call of Christ, all other
preachers (termed "elders" and also "bishops," that is, over-
seers, as we learn from Paul's letter to Titus and from his
address to the Ephesian elders) derived their right to ad-
minister in public the office of the Church from the call
of the congregation, and they were thereby truly ministers
of Christ. By its own equal and free choice (probably, by
raising hands. Acts 14, 23) the congregations chose their
pastors, even as. Acts 6, "the whole multitude" chose deacons.
In matters of church-discipline, likewise, not an apostle or
bishop, but the congregation was the highest tribunal, in
accordance with Christ's words, "Tell it unto the church."

The apostles, as inspired teachers and also as elders
(1 Pet. 5, 1), instructed and advised; but aside from this
they were brethren among brethren. They taught, as Christ
had taught them, that in His kingdom greatness coitsisteil,
not in exercising dominion and authority, but in ministering
and being servants, and that He had said: "One is your
Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren." Thus Peter
exhorts the elders ncjt to be "lords over God's heritage"
(1 Pet. 5, n) ; and Paul upbraids the Corinthians for tohn -


ating arrogance (2 Cor. 11, 20). Xor did they contradict
and counteract their teaching by domineering iDractise. At
the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) the apostles spoke, but
when action was taken, we read : "Then pleased it the apostles
and elders with the whole church," etc. Happy a church
with such teachers !

The Word of Christ established the Church and ruled it,
and history bears witness to its purifying power in those
cleansed with the blood of Christ and sanctified by the Spirit
of His grace. Its high ideal of the Christian life becoming
to the saints and children of God prevented the impenitent
sinner from even outward union with the flock of Christ,
and taught the Christians to keep themselves unspotted
from the world, to respect the dignity and purity of woman-
hood, to regard even the slave as a brother in Christ, to honor
civil government, to succor the needy, and to do good to all
men, in short, to order their daily lives wholly and strictly
in accordance with their faith. Its regenerating influence,
as it had turned a Saul into a Paul, transformed many
a malefactor into a saint. Its consolations gave them calm-
ness and confidence and fearlessness in the face of the
bitterest animosity, to look away from the things of the
earth to the things of heaven. Its prophecy of their Lord's
second coming filled them with the joy of expectation.

Thus the early Church in doctrine and, to a high degree,
in life was a veritable garden of the Lord on earth. An
enthusiastic faith glowed in the hearts of the Christians.
The walls of the temple were growing, its early completion
was expected. Paul forewarned them, however, 2 Thess. 2,
that before Christ's second coming the Church must expe-
rience the great apostasy through "the man of sin," who
would exalt himself in the very temple of God as a god
to deceive men unto their destruction.


In the apostles' own times "the mystery of iniquity" was
already at work, Satan scattering abroad the seeds of heresy
and vanity to render Christ, the Prophet, Priest, and King


of His Church, the only Mediator, of none effect, and to usher
in the Antichrist.

During the early days of the conflict, the Church re-
mained, upon the whole, pure in doctrine and life. Presbyters
would not claim the ruling power belonging, as they well
knew, to all saints. But with Christianity in the ascendant
and the churches growing in numbers, wealth, influence,
and worldliness, the Church came to be regarded, no longer
as the invisible "communion of saints," but, by harking
back to the old Jewish notion, as an earthly kingdom, in
which the clergy (originally those chosen, elected) were an
order or caste of rulers, and the laity (the people, those out-
wardly connected with the Church) the ruled. Then in-
fluential presbyters called themselves bishops, and bishops,
styling themselves successors to the apostles, aspired to be
great princes of the Church. This episcopal aristocracy
claimed Christ's continual presence and His Spirit's guid-
ance. His keys to bind and to loose, His protection against
the gates of hell, as its own exclusive heritage and pre-
rogative. In the interest of the unity and purity of the
Church in the face of heresy and worldliness rather than
for the aggrandizement of the episcopate, Cyprian based the
episcopal authority on Christ's words to Peter (Matt. 16, 18),
emphasizing the equality of all bishops, though conceding
to Peter a certain primacy of honor. Here was the idea of
a Universal Bishop, of the Church as a sacerdotal monarchy.
The bishops of imperial Rome, the alleged successors to
Peter, "prince of apostles," seized upon the idea as promising
them even more than imperial glory and power. A voice
beside them seemed to whisper: "All this will I give you.
Ye shall be as gods !" In consequence, from century to
century they asserted more and more definitely, insistently,
impudently, threateningly, their right, as "vicars of Christ,"
to be the visible heads of all Christendom ; and with con-
summate zeal and ability, apt pupils of pagan Rome, now
biding their time, now forcing issues, now using "earth in
defense of heaven," now "heaven itself to defend earth\y
possessions," consistently, relentlessly, they str<»vo to make


the vision a reality, to convert the primacy of honor into
a supremacy of power.

Protests were of no avail ; the times favored Home. While
the Eastern bishoprics bowed to the Eastern Empire and
ere long, with the exception of Constantinople, were sub-
merged beneath the tidal wave of Islam, the papal see, the
Mother Church and only sedes apostolica of the West, in-
creasingly independent of civil control, attaching to itself
with the decline and fall of the Western Empire the imperial
glory of "eternal Rome," allying itself in the turmoil of
Teutonic migrations against the Arian menace with the
Franks, found in this Germanic people, from Chlovis to
Charlemagne, the rising tide that carried it to the supreme
power. The papal claims, born of human ambition and
Satanic delusion, based on misinterpretation of Scripture,
and bolstered up with interpolations and forgeries, were re-
pudiated wholly by the Eastern Church; in the West, how-
ever, Rome carried through its program with magnificent
success, until the pope held on earth, as he said, "the place
of God Almighty."

As "vicar of Christ" the pope was ^he head of a gigantic
hierarchical corporation, which he called the kingdom of God,
outside of which there is no salvation, for which he made and
unmade at will laws and articles of faith, and participation
in which he conditioned upon the administration of his
sacraments by his priests. The Scriptures, as being dark and
incomplete, he interpreted, supplemented, and perverted from
apocryphal legends, the teachings of tradition, or his own
fancy, saying in effect: "Search not the Scriptures; I am
the Lord, your God; I am the way and the truth and the
life." For his "infallible" ordinances he exacted uncon-
ditional obedience as the i)rice of salvation. His hand was
laid on men in their education, their reading, their amuse-
ments, their business. He touched them in this life and in
that to come, regulating the purgatorial sufferings and
opening or closing the door of heaven itself. He taxed all
Christendom with tithes and fees. All authority on earth
being derived from God, all temporal rulers were of necessity.


as no less a man than Augustine had taught in liis Cily of
God, subordinate to the pope, and bound to do his bidding
or lose their thrones. Active dissenters, were not only ex-
communicated and driven out of reputable association with
their fellow-men, but handed over to severe punishments,
inflicted, at his instance, by civil authority. Thus a priest
of the Tiber and his celibate abettors with spiritual sanctions
and with fire and sword held men in bondage, professedly
to save their souls. This was the sliip of Peter, pope and
clergy within, the laity struggling with the waves and im-
ploring to be rescued.

What, then, was the salvation held out to men by popery i
In brief,, salvation without Christ, an achievement of men's
own efforts, crowned by priestly mediation. Man was not,
by means of the Law, shown his utter sinfulness, but led to
believe himself possessed of at least some power for good.
He was not, from the Gospel, shown that the merits of Christ
are sufficient for the expiation of all sins, and that God for
His sake forgiveth us all our sins. Instead, he was told
that, as faith was to be accounted as little more than an
outward confession of the Creed, works were necessary for
salvation, chiefly works, and mainly such as the Church pre-
scribed, as fidelity to the pope, auricular confession, mass,
celibacy, monkery, invocation of Mary and of saints, by
which a holy man might wax holier than required even to
the winning of supererogatory merit. Man was told that
the priest could forgive his sins, though obliged to aug-
ment Christ's merit by offering up Christ again and again
in sacrificial mass, and that he could impose penances, such
as fastings, pilgrimages, flagellations, and the like, or com-
mute these, for a consideration, into indulgences transferring
to the sinner's account righteousness from the inexhaustible
treasury of merits laid up by saints and managed by the
priests. To be the more solicitous in works, man was led
to tremble forever in doubt of the certainty of his salvation.
Truly, here was man estranged from the love of Christ, and
delivered up to a greedy priesthood to his own undoing. To
charm the senses, the pope tricked out his system with


gorgeous ceremonies and alluring melodies. But amid the
pomp and pageantry of crowns and gowns and croziers, pro-
cessions and genuflections, relics and rosaries, incense and
chrism and candles and crucifixes, tinkling of bells and
sprinkling of holy water, benedictions and consecrations,
paternosters and Ave Marias, — a ceremonial not utterly
remote from the prayer-wheel and other rites of the Dalai

Online LibraryW. H. T. (William Herman Theodore) DauFour hundred years ; commemorative essays on the reformation of Dr. Martin Luther and its blessed results, in the year of the four-hundredth anniversary of the reformation. → online text (page 1 of 29)