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of the Humanists. The latter was a man of

really extensive and accurate learning, a diligent

(lO'.l)



11<) I I rHKI{, TIIK REFORMEH.

stiulcnt. and tl»e master of an elegant Latin diction.
He liad rmderiHl lurinanent scrvite hy his investi-
gatinns of ancient vt'rsit»ns of tlie Scriptun s and l>y
the puhliiation of a(Jrcck New Tistanunt. \\v had
travclc<l wi(h ly, rcsidini; and teaching in London,
Oxford, ('ainl)ridgc, in France, Italy and llolhnul.
He, and tlie great llehrew scholar, Kcuclilin,
were called the " Kyes of (Jermany." By his
keenly satirical writings against prevailing ahuses,
whicli were most widely circulated, he had j)re-
pared the minds of many among the educated
classes foranopen ru]»ture\\ iththechurchof Koine.
Luther entertained a liigh regard for the attain-
ments of Erasmus, ami tlie latter at lirst welcomed
the \H)h\ utterances of tlie monk as tending to
hreak tile sliackles of n)e<na'val dogmatism. An
occasional correspondence sprung up hetween
the two men, initiated hy Luther, who was very
anxious to secure as far as possihle the scholarship
and iniluence of the celehrated scholar f<»r the
cause of the CIospcl. As early as 1517, however,
he ex])resse<l to his friends distrust of the moral
sincerity of Erasmus, and he soon hecame con-
vinced that no active support was to he expected
from tlie sage of Kottenlam. In 1024, he ad-
dressed to him an exceedingly can<lid U'tter as a
last appeal, hegging him to confmc himself to
the sfilu re for wliicli his talents so j)eculiarly fitted
him, and not to yield his pen to the service of the
enenjy. Hut this plea came too late, if indeed
it< imperious tone did not, l.y wounding the pride
of Erasmus, give additional eni'rgy to the assault
which he was even then engaged in ])rej>aring.
He had heen urged hy many to avenge the in-
juH'd honor of Enghunl's king hy entering the
lists against Luther. This now appeared a per-
fectly safe and politic thing t«»do, as Erasnnis had



FAI.TEHINC, AM.IE.^. Ill

finally concliulod to rast in his lot with the j)a]ial
l>arty, ami fonld of connsc ]»roinott' his jicrsonal
interests hy aidinir thcin in tlu-ir cU'siuTati' conflict
with tlu' invinciitic monk.

TIm' point of attack was most skilfully clioscn.
Krasmiisdid not dare to ('X])ost' himself to ridicule
hy rushinj^ to the tlcfcnce of the papal ahsurdities
over which he had himself so often made merry,
lie must select st^me thenu^ which would call for
-cholarly treatment ami which had not heen
already discussed hy men less celehrati'd than
himself. Luther had very hroadly denied the
ahility of man hy his own strcnirth to choose or to
do that which is ri^ht. Erasmus, the self-reliant
r(>j>resentative and exponent of the culture which
man may attain hy a proper discii)line of his na-
tural powei^s, would take up the cause of human
ahility. In Septemher. ir)'24, a])peared his book
entitled: Of the Free Will. Luther at once re-
coLHiized that he had here an antaironist more
worthy of his steel than any who had yet assailed
liim. He declared openly that Erasmus was the
lirst of all his enemies to touch the real hcjirt of
the controversy. All others had disj»uted ahout
outward trilles, hut here the very citadel of his
teachinj:^ was assailed, and he rejoiced in the op-
portunity to write upon themes of real importance.
Nevertheless, the arguments of Erasmus, though
l)eautifully exi)ressed, appeared to him sur])ris-
ingly weak, and he did not lu^sitate to op])ose to
them a thorough statcmmt of his own vi(■^v< in
the treatise entitle.l: Of the Enslaved Will.
This document contains the most uncjualilied as-
sertions of man's utter heli)lessncss and of the ab-
solute sovereignty of (Jod. The most extreme
views of Augustine touching the eternal divine*
decrees are cordially endorsed, and tlu' autlun* is



IIJ LVTHKK, THE HEFOKMEK.

at no pains to reconcile tlie fretiiient tifclaration,
that "all things come to i)a.ss of necessity," with
that conviction of five aj^uncy upon which nsts
the universal sense of |u'rsonal responsihility.

In estiniatinj? the positions here assumed l»y
Luther, it is imj»ortant to remember that they are
not the (le<lucti(»ns «>f abstract reasoning', hut were
maintained so zealously as seemingly essential
to the integrity of the fundanu'iital doctrine (»f tht-
Gospel, 1. <•., salvation hy pure ^race, without any
admixture of human worthiness. This doctrine,
he felt, must he defendeil at all hazards, however
trying to the human reason may he the inferences
n'^juired. It is very noticeable that in the later
utterances (»f the Reformer the extreme statementi^
here defended in tin; heat of controversy d<t not
ri'<*ur, although they were never formally recalled.
Their assertion at this time, as in llie eiiually
strict statements found in the theological works of
Mclanchtlion, did much to eni]>hasize the line of
demarcati<»n between the shallow work-righteous-
ness of the Romish church, and the liumble yet
conlident dependence upon the free mercy of CJod
which distinguished the genuine Reformers, and
wliich has pervaded all Lutheran thciiloL'v. The
docunn-nt is not lacking in the personal invec-
tive which entei*s so largely into all the contro-
versial writings of the ju'iiod, and which Luther
felt to be the more needful the ujorc exalted the
reputation of those who dared to arisi' as the
champions of error. To have spoken lightly now
would have seemed to indicate fear of his illus-
trious antagonist or indiiTerence to the labored
attempt of the latter to lay a logical foundation
for the religion of human merit. From this time
onward, Krasnuis is to be numbere«l among the
open foen of th*' Ref<)rmation, though always



FALTKKI.V; A LI. IRS. 113

couiis« lini: iiKKU'ration in tlio oiitwanl measures
adopted for its suj»})r('ssi()n.

Lutlur was more di^jtly pained l»y tlio defec-
tion of Ids old friend, Staupitz, thron^di wliose
wise counsels lie had l>een so ^'really aided in the
days of his spiritual distress in tiie monastery.
Tlie latter, after following the f(trtunes of the Re-
former for some yeai*s, thoujrh with faltering ste]),
heeame alarmed by the increasing rancor of the
strife and longing to end his days amid the
l»eaeeful activities of an established ecclesiastical
order, had returned to tlie service of the })apal
church, beconnng al)bot of a cloister at Salzl»urg,
and vicar to the cardinal-archhishoj). Lutlu'r con-
tinued to maintain correspondence with this gen-
ial hut faint-hearted man until the latter, disap-
]iointed and self-rei>roachful, was released from
his trying jiosition by death in December, 1524.
Luther's sad comment was: "God has slain him,"
yet he always spoke of him with tenderest reganl.

Luther was well aware tliat Staupitz wjis the
representative of a large number of i)ersons who,
fully e(»nvinced of the righteousness of his cause
and kindly inclined toward himself, were yet
shrinking back into the camp of the enemy,
frightened by the extent of the general ui)heaval
of society and alienated, in i)art. by the seeming
arrogance of his own bearing and the rude vigor
of his speech. Yet he refused to moderate in the
least the bluntness of his language, convinced that
no smoother ]»hraseology would suHiee to arrest
the insolence of the unscru])ul«)Us defenders of the
apostate church nor to arouse timid believers to
open and uncomj»romising resistance. Others
might flinch before the foe; he must l)Ut stand the
morelirmly, and, though he stand alone, hurl de-
liance into the face of every champion of error.



fllAITKIt VI



RAGINC; PEASANTS.



Vigorous ns were the protests of Lutlicr a^raiiist
prcvailin«x errors, In' always consistently main-
tainc*! that no sword hut that of the Spirit n)ust
he used in difenee t)f thr truth. Ahuses and in-
juri«'s must hv endured in Christian meekness
until tliey can he nin<'<lit(l hy lawful means.
Obedience to the powers that be, he ur»red as
a primary duty of every Christian eitizen. When,
in his Aflilrejis to the XuhlUtj/^ he so fervently ajn
peals to his countrymen to throw of! the yoke of
foreiirn oppn^ssors, lie always has distinctly in
view an onlerly resistiince conducteil hy the law-
ful lea«lers of the nation. ]UU nut all the a«ritatnrs
of the day were thus conscientious, and the j)a-
tient peasantry of (lermany had already a hundred
years l)efore given evidence that their wrath, whm
fully aroused, could hrook no resistance. The
grievances were manifold, and mainly of a politi-
cal nature. The ancient feudal system, still in
part maintained, involved the ahject sul»je<'tion of
the common man to his lie<re-l(»rd and the su{»|»nrt
• tf a laru'e hody of prtly nohility. Thr imperial
taxes were unscrupulously levied. The Church
was never done with its exactions, an<l njain-
taincd its sway over the supei-stitious masses hy
••alhnp to its const^mt aid the shadowy forms of
departed saints, and painting in lurid colors the
pangs of purgatory and perdition.

When I.utlu'r now snatched the keys of heaven
un«l hell from the hands of sordid ecclesiastics and
(114)



KAGINC. rtJASANTS. 115

proclaiiiHMl tlint a Christian man is l>y viriiu' of
liis faith a fret' lord over all tliin;^'s, niultitinlcs
wlio IkkI no spiritual aspirations cauglit U]) the
cry of lilitrty, ami, ij^norini; tlio carrful t-ountcT-
-tatt'iucnt, that tlu' same Christian man isl)y virtue
nf his lovt' a ministering servant of all, demanded
in the name of the Reft)nner the demolition of
the whole social fahrie. Carlstadt, vanquished
at Wittenberg, found admittance t(> a ])ul])it in the
neijrhhoring town of Orlamund, and hepui anew
the i>roclamatit)n of his revolutionary i)rinciph's.
Kxjx'hed from Saxon territory, he traveled
throuixh Southern (i(Tmany, gaining followers
in many of the larger cities, lie assailed the
Church and her outward ordinances, holding that
true religion consists in a withdrawal of the soul
within itself, a losing of one's self in dreamy list-
lessness, thus appealing to the deep mystical ten-
dency which is so marked a trait of the German
national character. Yet with all this lauded and
unworldly (piietude he comhined a spirit of reck-
less violence, maintaining that the existing laws
must he ignored and the ancii iit M<'-;iic law he
rigidly enforced. Meanwhile Thomas Munzer,
having heen expelled from Zwickau early in 1521,
lia<l heen diligently spreading liis fanatical ideas
and gaining a large following. In lo'J.S, ho set-
tled at Alstedt in Thuringia and, still later, in
the imi)erial city of Miihlhausen. lie and his
.issociates claimed to be "overshadowed" by the
Holy Spirit, to receive frequent direct revelations
from (lod in dreams, and, in obedienc(» to these,
they procee<led to l)infl the "elect" everywhere
in solemn league, not only for tlu* overthrow of all
existing authority, but for the actual extermina-
tion of alhthe ungodly, /. r., all who should i^ot
swear allegiance to their new sjiiritual kingdom.



1 Iti UTIIER, THE KEFORMER.

riio oaFO with which such hlindly fanatical notions
were propagated is one of the nio^t impressive
evidences of tlie dense ignorance and superstition
of the masses. A faithless Church had lu'en for
centuries sowinf^ to tlie wind, and must now reap
tlie wliirlwind.

None so clearly saw tlie terril)le nature of the

;itherin<r storm as Luther, lioldly he traversed
the disaffected regions, urging; tlieiluty of suh-
iiiissinii tn lawliil authority. At Orlamund the

< xcited multitude greeted liim with jeers and

< urses. Carlstadt and Aliinzer, as chamj)ions of
the i>eople, assailed him in more hitter terms tlian
had ever ))een employed hy his j»apal antagonists,

ikI their malignant tracts were eagiTly read hy
tlie excited multitude. Luther met theui with all
his accustomed vigor in liis h-ngthy treatise:
' Against the Heavenly Prophets."

l^arly in l'>2.'), {]\r jMasants gatlierrd in aiiiiiy
mohs in Swahia and Franconia and oth«r regi«»ns
where Miinzer had i)repared the way. The hurgh-

is of the large cities, opj)ressed hy tlie grasping
merchants, and jealous of the ])Ower of the ])rinces,
made ccniimon cause with tliem. Their dcmantls
v. ere formulate<l in T^velve Articles, which he-

ime the standard around wliidi all the discon-
'••nted elements in the land were soon rallying.
These articles jiromincntly demanded unrestricte(l
lil>erty in the preacliing of tlie (Jospel, and the
right of every congregation to ele<-t its own pastor.
Only undercover of thi'se Christian j)ropopitions,
learned from Liithcr, aj)pear the sociahstic and
n-volutionary prin(ij>les which were the real mo-
tives of tlu! \iprising. Mingled with the fanatical
ideas were found, however, various suggestions of
economic ref(»rm which met the approval of Luther,
and which a later age Ikls ( inhodied in the statu-



KAdlNC. PEASANTS. 117

f(»rv lawp of (ItriiiMiiy. Luther at once jjrcparod
a response to tliis piil»lic (locuiiicnt, cxprcssinj^
liis jud^'iULnt wiilioiit fear or favor. lie pro-
nounees the disorderly asseinhhijres of the j)easants
Hi* acts of open and mifjodly insurrection, hut hiys
the chief hlanie U]»on the niercih'ss exactions of
tlie ruK'rs, whom lie faithfully warns aL'ainst con-
linuin;^ thus to invite the terrihlc visitations of
divine wrath. Then, turning to th(^ i)easants, he
plrads with tlK'Ui to pursue <»nly orderly methods
for the redress of their L^ievances.

Ikit all pleading was in vain. The multi-
tudes continued to flock together throughout
southern and central Germany, hurning and ])il-
laging on every hand. Miinzer's visions hecame
raj)turous. It was revealed to him that victory was
just at hand and that the whole order of the world
was to he changed. The j)rinces hesitated. Should
they venture to me«'t violence with force? Vs'vrc
they ahle to (juell this almost universal uprising?
Then was heard a commanding voice ahove the
din. Although the ])easants sang and prayed and
professed to he contending for the defence of the
Gospel, they had hecome rohhers and murderers,
and must he suhdued at all hazards. Luther
called ui)on the princes, regardless of their relig-
ious diiVerences, on the hasis of the secular calling
which had hcen hestowed upon them, to draw the
sword and smite the rehels to right and left with-
out mercy. To preserve the j)eace and quell dis-
order he pronounced the first duty of the civil
ruler.

At length the princes assumed the ofTensive.
Philip of Hesse, after <iuelling the outhreak in his
own domini«»ns, joined his forces with those of his
father-in-law, l)uk(; (Jeorgc; of Saxony, Duke
Henry of Brunswick and the Count of Mansfihl,



]\^ LUTHER, THE KEKOHMER.

ami tho iinitrd army was soon faco to face witli a
band of .S(KM) pt-asants intniuli»<l laliind a lino
of farm wagons at Frankenhausen. KlToits at
conciliation were maile with i)rosj)ects of succi'ss
by the njjn'scntiitivo of tlu' nuw ckctor, John of
Saxony, and by Luther's personal friind, tho
Count of Mansfold, when the arrival of Miinzor
from Miihlhausen awakened anew the frenzy of
the multitude. On May loth, the assault was
made; the insur^^nts met it only with the sinjrin^
of a hynni to the Holy (Ihost, then lied in ]»anie,
Miuizer himself heiii<i taken ea|»tive. The Kleetor
John, haviuL,' (|uiete«l the disorder in his own do-
main without bloodshed, now arrived from the
south. On May 2oth, Muhlhausen surren-
dered, an<l Miinzer, after abjeet confession of his
errors, was, with other rinirkaders, execute<l upon
the field. From cam]> to camp marcluHl tho vic-
torious tn»ops. Similar scenes were enacted in
other portions of the land, and in a few wi-eks the
insurrection was at an end. Fearfid was the ven-
j^eance of the princes, njultitu<les of helpless pris-
oners beinjr ruthlessly slain, apunst the earnest
protest of Luther. It was estimated that the
movement cost the lives of at least 1(K),000 of the
infatuat4'd peas:ints, while many of the fairest
portions of (lerniany had deen devastated.

Tlie results of the, insurrection were far-
rea<liin«r for the cause of the Kcformation and in
their inlluence upon the personal career (»f Luther.
The fear of an uprisin«rof the connnon peoi)le had
for years re.<train(Hl the Roman Catholic ]>relates
and ])rinces from violent measures; but now,
flushed with victory and charLMnir the disturb-
ance itself to the teaching (»f Luther, they were
eapT to crush out the last vesti^<' of the l*'van-
j:<'lical party. The I'ope sent his ctingratulations



RAC;iN(; PEASANTS. 119

to Philip of Ilesso uj^on tlic \w\)\o stand which he
had taken a^'ainst the 'Mni<;odly Lutherans."
On July WHh, LVio, a leaj^'ue was formed at
Dessau hetwcin thr j)rinces, Cieor<:e of Saxony.
Joaehini of lirainlenhurL'. Alhert of Mayrnce, and
the nukfs of Hrunswick for mutual dcfiiier and
for the extermination of the "accursed Lutlx ran
sect."

Meanwhile, the personal influence of Luther
had Imcu neutrali/A'd in many tjuartcrs. Not a
few of his warmest adherents were alienated hy
his advocacy of the use of the sword, failing; t(»
comprehend his doctrine of the divine riL'ht of
civil rulers. He was charjred with (lesertin«r tlu'
cause of the j)()or and the oj>])resscd in the hour
of tlieir sorest need in order to gain the favor of
the rulin<>: classes. Those who had heen won hy
his fearless denunciations of ojipression, hut who
did not sympathize with his religious views,
now lost all interest in the cause of the Kefor-
niation.

From t]ii< time onward, Luther ceased to be
the popular hero of the (Jerman nation. l'>ven
his life was fretpiently threatened hy those who
liad once itlolized his name. He had stirred up
in turn j)riests, princes and peasants to hitterest
enmity, and all the good that he had accom-
plished seemed to he forgotten. Doctrinal dis-
putes ha<l meanwhile hopelessly divided the
Kvangelical party, and the socialistic agitation
liad left W'ittenherg almost deserti'd. The l'>lector
Frederick, faithful friend and ])rotector, died on
^hly 5th, and was huried in the castle-church
amid the lamentations of the njultitude, the
funeral services being conducted l»y Luther and
Melanchthon.

Again the Uefoiiner seemed to .-tand alone.



120 Ll'TlIKH, THE REFOKMEK.

Ho had faced the fury of fanaticism as fearlessly
as he liad once br.ived the thmuiers i)f the iiapaev
— had smitten wroni: on every hand until tlie
wln)lr AVitrld scrnicd arrayed apiinst him. It
\va> the darkest hour in tl" lii-t..i\- ..f Luth«r.



CIIAITKR VTTT.



llnLV HONDS.



Nkveii was the dauntless spirit of the Re-
former more clftirly nKUiit\'stt»l than in these
days of univei*sal gloom. \\'ith (hinders tliicken-
ing on every side, he wrote to a friend on May
4th: "To spite the devil, I mean to take my
Katie to wife before I die. They sliall, at ail
events, not roh me of my courage and good
cheer." Kvtm this most ])t'rsonal step could not
In; taken without direct reference to the reforma-
tory work to whose advancement all else in
Luther's life was held sul)ordinate.

He had for several years distinctly maintained
liberty of marriage for the priesthood. lie ha»l
encouraged many of his friends to avail them-
selves of this lii)erty, hut at the same time
wondered at their temerity in assuming tlie re-
sponsibility of the married state in such troublous
times. Ills conception ot the cares and bur<lens
incident to wedd<'d lif(» was such as almost to
overshadow its advantages. When extremists at
Wittenberg pronounced marriage a duty, he ex-
claimed in indignation: " They shall never force
a woman upon me." To the kind incpiirv of a
friend in November, ]')24, he replied that, tiiough
he was neither wood nor stone, and his heart was
in the hand of the T.ord, yet he had no thought
of marrying and should not do so unless his feel-
ing in the matter should be entirely ihanged.

\U\t wlnii friend after friend assumed the sacred
bonds, anil he wa,s pernntted as a guest to share
(11>1)



122 LrTiiEii, tin: hkfohmer.

tin* warmth and l>rijrhtncss of tlioir hap]\v homos,
insiuh strikinjr contract \\\\h his own <:lcMnny (juar-
ters; wht'n ciuinij's tauntL'<l him ]>uhH(ly with
cowardice in shrinking' from a course to which he
hail ur^'cd so many others; and when he learned
throuj^di the medium of trusted^riends that Cath-
arine von Bora, one of the escaped nuns of the
Nimj»tzseh convent, for whom lie had made fruit-
less etT«»rts to seeuri^ a hushand, would ]»n)l)altly
he wiihn.i: to share the trials of his own l»>nrly lot
— his resolution wavered. Mysterious hints
and ])layful l)anter !•< ;^an to eriej* into his j>rivate
correspondence, and, with characteristic hardi-
hot)d, just when his ifrieiuls were all tremhlin*: in
terror and his foes most juhilant, he startled the
world with the sudden news: "The monk of
W'ittenherf]^ has married a nun!"

The simple marriage rites were ]Mrf<>rm<'d in
the monastery in tlic ]»r(sence of lUi.^enha«:en,
the pastor of the parish church, Justus Jonas, the
provost of the Inivcrsity, a lawyer named Ape),
and the painter, Lucas Cranaeh, with his wife, on
th<' eveiiinj,' of June VM\\. The marriage fes-
tivities to which a lar<rer nund)er of frien<ls. in-
chnhn*: the parents of Luther, were invited, w«re
held two weeks later. Venison for this occasion
was furnished hy tlie Elector; the town council
sent a keir of ICimiuck hcer and twenty gukli'iis;
the Lniversity ]»resented a silver cup plated with
gold, ami the LHiots liroUL'ht apprnpriati' wcdilin^i-
gifts.

Tlic public announcement of the event f«.r
the time heing overshadowed all other topics of
conversati(»n. Knemies, including Krasmus, at-
trihuted Luther's whole course of opi>osition to
the Romish church to his passionate frettin:'
under the restraints of celihacy and his admim-



ifoI.Y I'.oNDS. l2'->

lion for tlic "licaiitiful nun" (a dcsij^nation
wliirli her l)L'st friiiuls i-ould scarcely have claimed
for Catharine), while his Iririids almost without
exception lamented the step as lowerinj^ the di^^-
nity of the j^reat leader. Those least disj)osed to
criticize were heard to say: "If it oidy had not
lia])pened just now, or if he had chosen some
other than a nun!" Melanchthon thou«iht liis
friend heartless to indulge in we(Min«i: festivities
when the whole land was in m()urnin_L^ V>ui
Luther was undisturhed. He had the a])proval
of his conseienee, his father and his (iod, and had
been enabhil to strike another sturdy hlow at the
foundations of the perverted system of the paj)acy.
Th«' married life of Luther i>roved a hap]»y
one. lie entertained a cordial resj)ect for his self-
reliant and capable com])anion, whom he play-
fully called his "Lord Katie," and to whom he
committed the unreserved charge of the domestic
economy. Nor was it a slijrht undertaking for
this maiden of six and twenty years to enter into
life-])artnership with so famous a man, her senior
by sixteen years, accustomed from early youth to
masculine society alone, and confirmed in his
liabits of life by the loufi: discipline of a monas-
tery. But Catharine possessed a dauntless spirit.
Her capacity for the discharjie of household
duties had )»een displayed in the home of the city
ejerk, Keiehenbach. Her attractive ])ersonality
had secured her marked favors at the hand of
Christian, the exiled kintj of Denmark, and she
had always been perfectly at ease in the ])resence
"f the leanK'd men who ^^athered at Wittenberjr.
She had discovered, too, what a warm heart beat
beneath the stern exterior of the Reformer, and
^he had never, like lier associates, felt overawed
in his presence. He, upon his part, rei)elled at



IJI IIIIIKK, TIIK HKKOUMEH.

first hy her dignity, wliidi ho attrihultMl to prido,
seems to have Ikvii won at lenjrtli by her (hnision
and eandor. If slie (Hd not enter very heartily
into the tlieoloj^ical disenssions of the (hiy, she
yet knew tliat Luther was always right, and slie
entertaine<l a hearty aversion to the tyranny of
that ehureh whieh had imprisoned her for ten
years within the dingy walls of a eonvent. Her
liighest amhition now w:i.s to ]>r(>ve hcrsilf a nal
helpmeet to her overhunh'ned husband.

It was no luxuriously-furnished home to
which the bride w:is h-d. F<>r snim- months


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Online LibraryCharles Ebert HayLuther, the reformer → online text (page 8 of 14)