Charles Ebert Hay.

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Lnth(M-\s only assoeiat<'S had been his eloister-
brother, Jacob Praepositus, and a little dog. For
more than a year no one had made the Reformers
l)ed. There were still dust-covered dishes in the
closet^!, and Iumv and there some pieces of modest
furniture which the departing monks had hem
unable to carry with them. Onler and comfort
now (piickly si)rung into being at the magic touch
of a woman's hand, and a tone of rencwc«l hope-
fulness soon l)ccame noticeable in the Reformer's
bearing, alternating, however, with j)eriods of de-
pression and anticipations of approaching death,
lie himself found it dillicult to realize that he was
actually a married man, a fact of which Katie was
not slow to remind him from time to time, lli^
work went on without interruption.



LrTllEu's j»lan of iciticnt tolcratiun in iii;itt<'rs
of extornal form luul now Ix'cn pursiud for sev-
eral years. I'lulcr the faithful i)r('ac-lunjT of the
(lospel and the l)ol<l denuiieiation of ]>apal ahiises,
the great hotly of the j^eople at \\'itten)>er«,^ ami in
many other centres of inlluenee had gradually
lost interest in the old forms and learned to tlnnk
of the Church as independent of the Roman hier-
arehy. Released from their ancient hondage, they
were scattered as sheep without a shepherd.

It was evident that the time had come lor a
re-organization upon the hasis of evangelieal
piineiples. Arrangement must he made for the
supply of capahle ministers and for their ade-
(|Uate support. There must also he some hond of
union hetween the scattered congregations, and
some means of awakening renewed interest in
localities where the poj>ulac(» had long heen in-
(hlTerent to all religious life.

Tlie task was a stupendous one. Lutlier
shruid< from it, not only hccause he himself had
little talent for organization, hut heea use he feared
that the new life of the Church might he again
stitle*! under a system of outward laws and regu-
lations. He dei^ired to allow in external things
the largest liherty consistent with order and
(Hicient oversight. In his own home, Saxony,
any movement in this direction was hindered hy
the extremely conservative spirit of the aged
iHeetor, who pleaded that no unnecessary imio-


vations sIkhiUI l)c iiiade in worsliij) or the govern-
ment of llic conprejrationF until the voiee of the
Chureli at large eould he heard through a peneral
couneil. While in the parish chureh at Witten-
})erg. under the ininicdiatf dinetinn of Luther,
the services were gradually divested of nil oh-
jeetionahle features, the castle chureh continued
to ohserve all the ancient cireinonies. Nearly a
thousand masses for souls were annually cele-
hrated, and o'>,(KX) pounds of wax were hurned
each year in honor of departed saints. Luther
could, at length, no longer endure this inconsist-
ency, and, regardless of the displeasure of the
Klcx*tor, he denounced from the ])ulpit the idolatry
thus enci»uraged in his prince's church. After
an entire year of ceaseless and determined agita-
tion, the authorities of the church yielded t<» the
force of jtuldic ojtinion, and at Christmas, 1024,
the masses were abandoned. With this con-
cession Luther was satisfied for the time being,
although in all other j)oints the ancient Romish
customs were continued.

Upon the death of the heloved Elector, Fred-
erick the Wise, the accession of his more ])osi-
tive and aggressive I'rotlnr. John the Sttndfast,
opened the way for more efficient measures of
nform, and, despite the t<rrors of the Peasant
War, then just inaugurated, and the important
changes in Luther's ]»rivate life, the latter was
not slow to improve the j)r()vidential oj)jK)rtunitv.
Already on the 2(nh of May he s^nt to the
camp of the new Elector hifore Miihlhausen, a
jilan for the re-organization of the I'niversity,
which at once received cordial cndoi-senicnt. The
popish ceremonies at the castle church were now
at once ahandon<'d, and spe<ial instructions issued
to pastor- tlir..n"lM.nt S;iv..nv t.. i.i. i.-l. ..nU" the


)>uiv (l«>sj)(l aiul to ;i(liniiiistt'r tlic siUTainciits in
tlu' fnrni in wliii-h Chrisl hud institutfcl tluni.

On October 'JOth, :i new order of worship,
prepaivil hy Luther an<l approved hy the l-'lector,
was introdueed into the })arish ehureli at W'itten-
l)eri;. It was adaj)ted particularly to the exislin«^
cir«-uinstanct»S()f the eon^n-e^Mtion, and I^uther did
not re;<ard it as a final, tixed form, nor did he de-
sire that "any i)etter orders" in use elsewln're
sln>uld 1)0 disjilaced by it. The use of vestments,
candles, etc., was to be continued " as long as they
last, or until we choose to alter them." He re-
connnended that, for the sake of j^ood order, only
• •neformof servict^ should be em]>loyed in each
t ity or |)rineii)ality. His own formula was widely
distrii)Uted and adopted, with «;reator or less vari-
ation, in many other ])laces. It was, however, in
direct contravention of his own desire, when, in
the Lenten season of 1520, an electoral mandate
required the introduction of the latter throughout
tlie realm. In Southern (lermany, the necessities
<»f the case had already led to tlie adoption of var-
ious forms of worship, which were commonly
simpler an<l prepared with less regard to tradi-
tional customs. However diversified these new
orders, tboy were all distinctly evangelical in char-
aett r, and tlieir employment in<licated a final sep-
aration from the Komish church.

P>ut Luther felt that far more essential mat-
ters than these demandetl attention. Most im-
portant of all was the proper instruction of the
jK'ople, and especially th(i training of the young.
To this end, he had already furnished valuable
<-ontributions in various publications which after-
wards formed tlie l)asis of his catechisms. It was
now felt tliat there should be some system ot reg-
ular i)v<r<ldit, Tin- bi-li(.i.^ bad lull" iH-Lrlectod

128 UTiiKH, TiiK i{KF(H{Mi:n.

tlioir dutio?, and tlic masses of tin* jxojilo wvra
sunken in almost incndil*!^ ignorance. LutliiT
]\in\ liimsi'lf, in 1524, visitoil a ninnlxT of commu-
nitit's and learned from his own o!)8ervation how
8ore was the need of spiritual traininjr. He now
enlled upon the Elector and )»rinees of the realm to
act as " emerjxeney hishops" in estahlishinj? j)as-
toral districts, ap])ointini: ministers, and or^^aniz-
\n*l schools, basin«r their ri^rht to act in such mat-
tirs. not upon their secular ollices. hut uj)on their
posititui as the most iiillucntial nmonir the p'Ueral
congrej^ation of helievers. When the jjrinces re-
fused to undertake such work, he urged congropja-
tions to pclect from their own numher competent
men and solenmlv set these a|»art as pastoi*s to
administer the Word and sacraments. In some
cases, the councils of cities in which evangelical
views were in the ascendancy assumed the author-
ity of calling ministers. Luther ajjproved of all
these methods, well content when in any onlerly
way the (Jospel was permitted to have free course
among the people. He as little thought of de-
nian<ling uniformity in church organization as in
liturgical formulas.

In Saxony, tlu' cordial sympathy of the court
opened to the Reformers a witlc Held of usefulness.
Committees of visitation were a|)point»'d, tinhrae-
ing theologians and laymen, Luther and .Mclanch-
thon themselves accepting tin ir share nf tlu' active
w<»rk. The formal visitation, hegiiming in
1527, revealed a state of spiritual destitution far
heyond all anticipations. Ignorant tradesmen
who had for years hei'U acting as ivomish priests,
falling in with tin- popular current, had ])rof«'ss«'*l
adherence to the ( lospel, hut were imahle to preach
— in some eases, couhl not even read. The rude
peasantw had in n)any places lost all regard for re-


lij^on, :in<l were so utterly altaiulonc*! t«» vice that
tlio visitors drspaired of c'lTirtinf]^ their reformation
and directed tlieir own etTorts almost entirely to
the reselling: of the ehildnii.

Many practical difficulties were oncounterod.
The peasants, freed from the exactions of the
hishops, were unwilling to make any free-will of-
ferings for the support of an evangelical ministry,
an<l the ])ro])erty of the monasteries had been
already in great part apj^ropriated hy the secular
]>rinces. The local noliility, many of whom still
held allegiance to the liomish church, eiaime<l the
right of appointing the ])arish ])riests, or j)astoi*s.
Melanchthon, almost in desi>air at the })revail-
ing disorder, wius at times ready to compromise
with the hishoj»s, allowing the re-instatement
of the ancient ceremonies and of the episco-
j>al authority, if but the free preacliing of the
(lospel shcuild be conceded. The Instructions
for Church Visitors, prejtared by him, was made
the basis of a moic general and tliorough prosecu-
tion of the Work in the following year. The organ-
izing talent of Bugenhagen, the ])astor at Witten-
berg, rendered invaluable service, as also the
coun.sels of the practical Hausman, under whose
alile ministry almost the entin; ])opulation of
Zwickau had been won to the side of the Reforma-
tion. Similar efforts in other portions of (Jermany
were influenced more or less directly by the j)rin-
eiijhs amiounced in Saxony, and thus the evangel-
ical movement LMadually as-uiiicd something like
a definite and permanent form, by its inherent
power superseding tlu- everywhere discredited
jurisdiction of the Homish bisho|>s. When, in
1521), the catechisms of Luther appeared, they
found a cordial rweption and formed an in-
di4>solul)le bond oi spiritual unity between the


8oatt('ro<l congrej?atinnH throughout (irrni.iny. In
our own day, the rhunh \'isitalinns (tf Sax«»ny
from l.'>24 to 152*), witli all thcaiixiity ami uncon-
jrcnial toil which tliey inv<»lv(.Hl u|M»n the i»art of
many noble men, are remembered ehielly as liaving
given occasion for tlie j>rei)aration of this little vol-
ume, whieli has done more than all other writinjrs
of the Reformer to j;ive unity of faith to the pri'at
and frrowinj: connnunion which yet hears his
name. The fact is a most impressive illustration
of the j>rinci|ile, that not or^^anization, hut char
statement of the truth, is the surest basis uf abid-
ing power.

CHAi'Ti:i: \.

•oi.rriCAL EVENTS.

Tlow was it jtossible for those bold measures of
rcfoiiii to ln' prostvuted in a land povcmcd by
a lionian C'atliolic Knipcror and the l^)pe? The
<lii('stion rcijuircs us to glance at the course of
political events.

Upon the death of Leo X., in December, 1521,
the papal dignity was conferred uj)on Adrian,
who, having been the religious instructor of the
Knjpcror, might be expected to find in the latter
a willing tool in the enforcctncnt of extreme
measures against the new heresy. The legate of
the new Poi)c, a])pearing at tlic Diet of Nurem-
berg in 1522. denianded tlie strict enforcement of
the K<lict of \\'orms, denouncing Luther as worse
than Mohammed. He urged tlie immediate
arrc»st of the beloved pastor, Osiandcr, and the
other evangelical jireachers of Nuremberg. The
lK)ld denunciation of tliis ])roposition by the en-
raged citizens antl their (hterminati(»n to i)rotect
tlu'ir ]>astors at all hazards revealed to the
assembled ])rinc<'s the temper of the ])eople at
large, and the afTrighted legate, laying asi(h' his
haughty air, began to pose as a "martyr" in the
midst of a j)erseeuting rabble. Although the
majority of the Diet were zealous adherents of th(^
estal)hshed order, they "feared the people" and
had, moreover, various grievances of tlicir own
which they were anxious to have j)ublicly dis-.
cussed. They therefore finally agreed that the
Lutheran errors couM be exterminated oniv by a



general council held on German soil, in which
eviTV one jjIiouM he enjoined to speak out what
he helieved to he ''divine and (Jos[)el truth."
This ollieial deelaration, made within eigliteen
months after the eondenmation at Worms, was a
n(»tal)le testimony to the progress of Luther's

When tlie Diet re-assembled at Nurem-
berg, in 1521, llic evan<^elieal preachers j»f the
eity had hecoine ]K)lder, and adininistere<l the
conmiunion in l)oth elements U) tliousands of per-
sons, conspicuous anionic the throni^ l)ein«x the
Queen of Denmark, a sister of the Km|)eror and
Ferdinand. The Pope, throui^li his ie<:ate, a«rain
dcmandeil the execution of the KtUct of Worms,
l»ut was ohliired to he content with the assuram-e
that it should he exei'uted "as far as po.<sil>le. "
Arran<:ein«>nts were tlien holdly made for a "<^en-
eral a.^soml>ly of tlie (ierman nation," to he held
at Spires in the autumn of the s;ime year. Thi.s
compromise satisfied no one. Luther at onee
pul)lishe(l the e<Iict with annotations, denouncing
in sc^ithini,' terms thi' inconsistency of first sanc-
tioning Ills ccmdemnation and then arranging for
an examination of his teachings. The Pope hit-
t<'rly complained of the pn'sum|»tion of theder-
mans in c:illing a council without his advice,
while the Emperor declared the edict void and
prohihit<^<l th(^ proposi-d gathering. Thus per-
isiiecl the last hope of the peaceful organiz:ition of
Germany jus a political power.

In July, LVil, under the leadership of the
[)apal legate, Cainpeggio, a partisan league of
Catholic princes was f«»rmetl at Ratisbon, in
^vhich the <'onfederates resolved that n«»t the
slightest deviation from the prescrihed order of
Worship should he t4)lerated in their domains, and


l»le<l<;e(l tlirir unitt'd clYorts for the utter extinction
of tlie Lutheran heresy. IJoth Pope and Emperor
eiinhally approved this action, wliich must of
course compel the ori^anization of the evangrUcal
prin<-es in self-defence.

Philip, the energetic youn«^ Mari^ravi* of Ile.'^so,
havim,' l)een won for the cause of the Ueformation
lari^ely throu^^h a conversation with Melanchthon
it an accidental mcetinj< upon a journey, formed
an alliance with the Elector of Saxony at Gotha
in Fehruary, lo2o, which was joined hy other
princes at Mag:<lel)urg in the following; Juno, and
l»eeame the l)asis of a formal league of all the
Evangelical Estates, including the laruje cities,
conrlu'l""! at Torgau in Feljruary, 1520.

Thus, by the action of the papal party, the
nation had l)een divided into two distinctly
liostile camps when the Diet lussemhled at Spires
in June, 1526. It was now no longer Luther
who was t(3 be subdue<l, hut a valiant hand of
princes, supported by the foremoHt cities of the
realm, and resolved under no circumstances to
surrender their (Jospt'l liberty and how their
necks again beneath the yoke of papal bondage.
The church (pU'Sti<»n took precedence of all others.
It appeared, for a time, as though an undi-rstan*!-
ing might l)e reached by which both parties slutuld
l>e tolerated until the sunnnoning of the general
< ouncil whieh the Pope and Enii)cror had so often
agreed to call. Just upon tin? eve of the adoption
'•f such an agreement, the presiding oflicer, Ferd-
inand, produce*! an imperial httrrof instructions,
iM'.iiinLT ,l:itc (.f .March 27th, whieh strictly forbade
any action in regard to the I'Mict of W'ornjs or
any decision of pending church «piestions. This
was rightly interpret«'d :is indi<'ating the purpose
'<t" the ICmpeior to enforce the lou-j-'le-piscd edict


without fiirtlnT parley; Imt the princes sliriwdly
suspected that the eoiirse (►[ mure recent events
mi^dit have already weakened the imperial ri'so-
lution. The letter was written, they ohservetl,
under the stimulus of the Peace of Madrid, when
the Kin«r of France was a prisoner in the hands
of the Kmperor, and the latter was upon cordial
terms with the Pojm'. Since then, the wheel of
politieal fortune had reversed the situation. The
released Kin«^ of France and the I'ope were now
in leai^ue ai^'ainst the Empi'ror, who mi<;ht
urj^ently need the «;ood-will of all his (ierman
suhjects. It was therefore formally decreed that,
until the calling' of the council, every one should
'• so act in matters relating; to the Edict of Worms
as to he able to render an account to (Jod and
the Km})en>r." As anticipated, the I'jnperor was
too larj^ely occupied witli his wider political com-
plications to assert his jxjwer in Clermany, and
for the next three years the work of instruction
and organization })roeeeded unhinderi <1 under the
protection of the hr(»ad Edict of Toleration.
Meanwhile, the drift of j)uhlic st ntiment was
steadily in the (lirection of evan^relical liherty, and
the hearts of the Tn fnrniers Wt-re eheere«l hy many
notahle advances. Albert of Brandenburg, the
(Irand Master of the famous ( Ierman Order, under
the a<lvice of Luther, transformed his domini()ns
into a stvular duchy, severed all relati(»ns with the
]»apaey, and made provisi»»n for the rej^ular
preaching of the pure (iospel, tlius laying: tlw
foundation of the powerful I'rotrstant state of
Prussia. One hy one, the cities of Lower Ger-
many fell into line, and their church life was
or;,'ani/,ed in many cases hy personal friends of
liUthtr, while the hynms of the latter on the lips
of th(* people hnre down hrfore them all oppo,^iti(»n.



TiiK yoars lo'iO mid 1 ')i^7 cover a pi'ri(»(l of ])e-
culiar trial fertile Krfnniicr. lie sullVrcfl from
a nuinl)er of physical ailments, some of wliirli
were accompanied with excruciating pain, others
with fulness and rin<;ing sounds in the head,
tightness ui)on the chest and fainting. These at-
tacks now hecame more frecjuent and serious,
Iteing usually })reeeded hy seasons of great sjtir-
itual (le])ressi()n, which he himself regarded as
direct assaults of the devil, and in which he de-
( lare<l that lie ex])erienced the very tortures of
hell. At such times, he would sunmion his
friends to comfort him, and receive ahsolution at
the hands of liis ])astor. With the actual out-
hreak of the physical symptoms, his inward agony
gave j)lace to calm and triumphant faith.

In July, lo'JT, after a severe attack of his mal-
ady, he felt convinced that his end was at hand.
To his friends he then expressed himself as ready
to obey the Master's summons, although he
would gladly remain to help ihem light the Lord's
hattles against the Fanatics. He acknowledged
that lie had often written harshly, hut insisted
that he had done so only to terrify the hlas-
ijlK'mei-s. "(iod knows," he declared, *'that T
have wished harm to no one." More trying still
to his earnest spirit was the weakness which en-
sue<l, incapacitating him for rea<ling or writing,
and compelling him to lose many ])recions hours.

At just ahout this time, also, the pestilence


l>roki'()ut at Witt('nlMr<;. The University was ro-
iiiovtH.1 to Jena, and Luther was iir<:('il to accom-
pany his associat«'S. As pastor of the parish
chureli, however, ho felt ImuukI to remain, and,
despite his own weakness, he was, with Hui^rn-
haj^'en, the associate pastor of tlie vilhip\ unre-
mitting in Ids attentions to the sick. The wife
' 'f the hur;j:omaster died ahuost in his arms. Two
women in Ins own h(>me fell sick with the disease.
His wife w;ls helpless, and the care <»f their infant
sun, Hans, occasioned the greatest anxiety. The
hirth of a dauirhter (Klizaheth), while welcomed
with dclii^dit as a ray of sunshine amid th" dark-
ness, did not lij^liten the hurden of r«'Sponsil>ility
resting upon the isolated household. ''Conllict
without and terrors at home, thus tloes Christ try
us," he exclaimed, *'hut one comfort remains,
with which we can o]>posc the nging Satan — we
have the Word for tlie salvation of the souls of
tliem that helieve, even though he devours their
hodies." Under these circumstances, he rejoiced
greatly when Hugenhagen, whose house had be-
come infected, moved with his family into the
monast<ry. Several children, also, whose parents
had fallen victims to the scourge, here found a

It appears to have heen amid these trying
-eenes that the indt)mital>le faith of Luther in-
-i»ind tlie nohlest of his poetic productions, the

I. at Battle-hymn of the Reformation: "A
Mighty Fortress is our (lod." Although ha.seti
upon I*salm xlvi, it is hy no means a mere re|)n)-
luetion of the inspire(l original, hut rather a

pontaneoUH outl»urst of the ileeixst feelings of
LutluT himself, like him in its rugged simplicity
of diction — like him in its lM»ld defiance of all the
|M)wers of evil and in its joyous confidence in the
final victory of the ** Lon! (lod of**."

(■iiAP'n:K XII.


ScAKiKLY liad the Rcformatinn l)(';^'\in to assert
its power as a ^reat ])0})iilar movement, wlicii
there arose a controversy in the ranks of its ad-
herents wliich diverted the attention of many
from the ^m-at fundamental (juestions at issue and
wrouLdit untold injury to the cause. Strangely
enougli, the Holy Supper, instituted by our
Lord as a bond (»f union anionu' l)elievers, became
the occasion of dissensions uhieli alienated the
h'aders of the evangi'lical movement in that day
and have ever since divided the great Protestant
hnst. This sad fact can be understood only in
the light of j)receding history.

The Koman Catholic Church had taught tlie
doctrine of transubstantiation, that is, that in
the act of consecration by the priest the bread
used in the Lord's Sup]>er is transformed into the
verita}>le ihsh of the Saviour's body, and the
wine into His blood. The sacred wafer, or
"host," was then "elevated" for adoration and
oiTered to (Jod anew in sacritice by the ])ricst.
This 'sacrifice of the mass" was supposed to
lie especially acceptable to (lod, securing from
Him remission of sins for those in whose b(>half
the sacrilice was made. The celebration of the
Lord's Supper thus l)ecamo a "good work," or
means of gaining the divine favor. It did not
rrijuin^ the ]»articipation, nor ev<n the presence,
of tlie ])ersons to be benelited. The agency of the
])rie.-«t alone was n( cessarv. and this eould be se-


ciin'<l — for tlic liviiiir <»r for the «l(':i<l, f«»r a term
t>f ycai-s or "in j>crp('tii<) " — by the donation of
money to the cofTers of the Church. In connec-
tion with every cathedral or monastery there
were shrines at wliicli private masses were said,
and the endowment of these was a fruitful source
of the Church's revenu<'.

In this "idolatry of the mass" was concen-
tratt'd the whoK' perverted development of the
pai»al church. Here was the citadel of the
enemy — the stron^diold of the system (tf Siilva-
tion hy works. If salvation hy faith was to l»e
maintained, the Reformers must i)rescnt some
radically difTerent view of tlie Lord's 8uj>]ier.
They are not responsihle, therefore, for makinjr
the saere<l ordinance a suhjeet of strife. It had
hcMii ))ound in a worse than '' Hahylonian ca])tiv-
ity," and they were com|>elled to address tlu^m-
selves to the task of freeing' it from its fetters of
human tradition.

lk'ne:ith the Ihiirrant error and ahuse lay, how-
ever, a great truth, i. e., the presence of the
lyord Ilimsi'lf in the H()ly Su]»]>er. II<>w was
this presen<'e to he conceived?

Luther at first accepted without «piestionin<r the
traditional theory of transuhstantiation. He very
~ooi], however, foUowin^^' a hint received from the
uritinjfs of D'Ailly, ri'alized that there is no ne-
cessity for ima^inin*; a miraculous transformation
of the elements, nor for discre<litinj^ the testimony
<»f our own sen.scs, which so clearly attest that the
l>read and wine remain unchanu'cd. The I/onl's
ImmIv is a sj)iritual l>o«ly, and could he present
just as well unseen with the earthly elements
f He can he present ( veryulic re wlim and as He
\Nill. This conception seeme«l to Luther to meet
ill the re(|uireiin nts of the scriptural laiiL'Uat'e


concerning' the ordinance, iind, at tlu' same time,

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Online LibraryCharles Ebert HayLuther, the reformer → online text (page 9 of 14)