Charles Ebert Hay.

Luther, the reformer online

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interpretiTs were his foes, and to this end s«tu.L'ht to
arouse tlicir animosity to the hii^hcst ])it(h l)y
statinir his own ])ositions in the hoMcst and most
offensive terms |)ossihU'. The lon<z;in<; to dej)art in
peace was now supplanted hy the passionate de-
termination to die in armor, wavinj^ his gleani-
inf; sword in defence of tlie whole truth as God
had <riven him to see it. IIow lar<r<'ly this change
of attitude was justified by the real situation is a
])oint upon which historians have differed; hut it
would certainly he an occasion for lament if the
tone of these lati' passionate utterances were to be
adopted as the normal tone of theological discus-
sion in times of peace. It is suflicient for us to
see in them the Reformer's dying plea for sincer-
ity and openness in the expression of religious
convictions.

The closing scene of this dramatic life is hap-
pily one of reconciliation. Serious alienations had
for some time ])revailed in the mutual relations of
the Counts of Mansfcld, Luther's early home-land.
It was finally agreed to submit the matters in dis-
pute to his decision. Despite his weakness, the
extreme cold, and the j)rotests of his friends, he
gladly undertook the mission, leaving his home
with his three sons and other mend)ers of his
household January 23d, ir)40. Floods in the
Saab' — a great Anabajjtist, Luther called it — de-
layed them for som(? days in Halle, where be
preached a vigorous sermon against pajml
abuses. A violent attack of sickness upon the
journey be attributed to tlu; devil, wlio, he de-
clare<l, always assailed him when he had any
great work on band. At Eisleben, where tin*
negf>tiations were con<lucted, be preached four
sermons, the hist on February 15tb, an<l also or-



200 LrTIIEH, TIIK KKFORMEU.

(lained two yoiin;: men to tin' (iospel ministry.
Twice he i)artook of tlic Lord's Sujiper. He
maintained an almost continuous eorrespondenee
in liis most genial style with his wife and his
bosom-friend Mehinclithon, and enhvened the ser-
ious hibors of his errand by frecjuent salUes of his
unfaihn<x humor. lie found an intensely embit-
tered feeling between the j)arties at strife, which
had been greatly aggravated by the interventiun
of otliers. Trayerful earnestness and jnitience
U])on his jtart, and the boundless regani of all fnr
his eharaeter and Cdunsel, at length elTected a com-
plete reconciliation.

Luther, feeling indisposed, wa.s excused from
attendance at the linal meeting on the 17th, in
which the details of the agreement were arranged
in legal form, and remained in his room during
the morning. lie was present at the evening
meal, leading the conversation as usual, int< r-
mingling serious themes with sallies of j)layful
humor. At eight o'clock he withdrew to his
room, and spent some time standing before the
window engaged in audible prayer. He then re-
joined thecomj)any, and sj)ent an hour with them
in j)leasant sociability. During the night his con-
dition became serious, and frientis and neighbors
were called to his side. His last connected
words were: "Father, into thy hands 1 mm-
mend my snirit. Thou hast redeemed me, Thou
faithful Clod." As his bodily senses were raj)idly
failing, one of the company called loudly to him:
•'Reverend Father, do you still hold linnly to
Christ and the doctrine which you have preached?''
to which he replied distinctly: *'Yes," — then
turned upon his side ami pjacefully expired.

As the tearful funeral procession movecl out
of the village, the rc« oucilcd C'ounl."^ of Mansf«M



SICKNESS AND DEATH. 201

rodr ill ;i<lvaiice, a puMic testimony tliat the last
triumph of tlie Hero of tlu- Reformation was a
triumph of peace. Dyinj; in tlie i)lace ui liis birth,
liis remains were fitly borne to the scene of his
hibors and solemnly interred within the walls of
the Castle-church, upon whose doors he had nailed
his great proclamation of the Church's emaiKij)a-
tion. His toil was ended, but his life's work was
but be«run. The j)rinciples which he jtroclaimed
have directed the course of modern proirress, and
so long as the world loves liberty, or the Church
rejoices in the doctrine of free j^^ace, can neither
fail to cherish the memory of Luther, the Reformer.



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Online LibraryCharles Ebert HayLuther, the reformer → online text (page 14 of 14)