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is capable of knowing; it not only will, but can lead others
to knowledge; its conclusions lead us to an apprehension
of our being and of our origin; through it we apprehend
the origin and activity of the good, of Creator and creature ;
it teaches us to discover the truth and to unmask falsehood ;
it teaches us to draw conclusions ; it shows us what is valid
in argument and what is not; it teaches us to recognize
what is contrary to the nature of things; it teaches us to
distinguish in controversy the true, the probable, and the
wholly false ; by means of this science we are able to in-
vestigate everything with penetration, to determine its
nature with certainty, and to discuss it with circumspection.

Therefore the clergy must understand this excellent art
and constantly reflect upon its laws, in order that they may
be able keenly to pierce the craftiness of errorists, and to
refute their fatal fallacies.

8. Arithmetic is the science of pure extension determi-
nable by number ; it is the science of numbers. Writers on
secular science assign it, under the head of mathematics, to
the first place, because it does not presuppose any of the
other departments. Music, geometry, and astronomy, on
the contrary, need the help of arithmetic; without it they
cannot arise or exist. We should know, however, that the
learned Hebrew Josephus, in his work on Antiquities,
Chapter VIII. of Book L, makes the statement that Abra-


ham brought arithmetic and astronomy to the Egyptians;
but that they as a people of penetrating mind, extensively
developed from these germs the other sciences. The holy
Fathers were right in advising those eager for knowledge
to cultivate arithmetic, because in large measure it turns the
mind from fleshly desires, and furthermore awakens the wish
to comprehend what with God's help we can merely receive
with the heart. Therefore the significance of number is
not to be underestimated. Its very great value for an
interpretation of many passages of Holy Scripture is mani-
fest to all who exhibit zeal in their investigations. Not
without good reason is it said in praise of God, " Thou
hast ordained all things by measure, number, and weight."
(Book of Wisdom XL 21.)

But every number, through its peculiar qualities, is so
definite that none of the others can be like it. They are
all unequal and different. The single numbers are differ-
ent; the single numbers are limited; but all are infinite.

Those with whom Plato stands in especial honor will
not make bold to esteem numbers lightly, as if they were
of no consequence for the knowledge of God. He teaches
that God made the world out of numbers. And among us
the prophet says of God, " He forms the world by num-
ber." And in the Gospel the Savior says, " The very hairs
of your head are all numbered." . . . Ignorance of
numbers leaves many things unintelligible that are ex-
pressed in the Holy Scripture in a derivative sense or with
a mystical meaning.

9. We now come to the discussion of geometry. It is
an exposition of form proceeding from observation ; it is
also a very common means of demonstration among phi-
losophers, who, to adduce at once the most full-toned evi-
dence, declare that their Jupiter made use of geometry in
his works. I do not know indeed whether I should find


praise or censure in this declaration of the philosophers,
that Jupiter engraved upon the vault of the skies precisely
what they themselves draw in the sand of the earth.

When this in a proper manner is transferred to God, the
Almighty Creator, this assumption may perhaps come near
the truth. If this statement seems admissible, the Holy
Trinity makes use of geometry in so far as it bestows
manifold forms and images upon the creatures which up
to the present day it has called into being, as in its adorable
omnipotence it further determines the course of the stars,
as it prescribes their course to the planets, and as it assigns
to the fixed stars ttieir unalterable position. For every
excellent and well-ordered arrangement can be reduced to
the special requirements of this science. . . .

This science found realization also at the building of the
tabernacle and temple; the same measuring rod, circles,
spheres, hemispheres, quadrangles, and other figures were
employed. The knowledge of all this brings to him, who
is occupied with it, no small gain for his spiritual culture.

10. Music is the science of time intervals as they are
perceived in tones. This science is as eminent as it is
useful. He who is a stranger to it is not able to fulfil the
duties of an ecclesiastical office in a suitable manner. A
proper delivery in reading and a lovely rendering of the
Psalms in the church are regulated by a knowledge of this
science. Yet it is not only good reading and beautiful
psalmody that we owe to music; through it alone do we
become capable of celebrating in the most solemn manner
every divine service. Music penetrates all the activities of
our life, in this sense namely, that we above all carry out
the commands of the Creator and bow with a pure heart
to his commands; all that we speak, all that makes our
hearts beat faster, is shown through the rhythm of music
united with the excellence of harmony; for music is the


science which teaches us agreeably to change tones in
duration and pitch. When we employ ourselves with good
pursuits in life, we show ourselves thereby disciples of this
art; so long as we do what is wrong, we do not feel our-
selves drawn to music. Even heaven and earth, as every-
thing that happens here through the arrangement of the
Most High, is nothing but music, as Pythagoras testifies
that this world was created by music and can be ruled by
it. Even with the Christian religion music is most in-
timately united ; thus it is possible that to him, who does
not know even a little music, many things remain closed
and hidden.

ii. There remains yet astronomy which, as some one
has said, is a weighty means of demonstration to the pious,
and to the curious a grievous torment. If we seek to
investigate it with a pure heart and an ample mind, then
it fills us, as the ancients said, with great love for it. For
what will it not signify, that we soar in spirit to the sky,
that with penetration of mind we analyze that sublime
structure, that we, in part at least, fathom with the keenness
of our logical faculties what mighty space has enveloped in
mystery! The world itself, according .to the assumption
of some, is said to have the shape of a sphere, in order that
in its circumference it may be able to contain the different
forms of things. Thus Seneca, in agreement with the phi-
losophers of ancient times, composed a work under the title,
" The Shape of the Earth."

Astronomy, of which we now speak, teaches the laws of
the stellar world. The stars can take their place or carry
out their motion only in the manner established by the
Creator, unless by tbe will of the Creator a miraculous
change takes place. T\ms we read that Joshua commanded
the sun to stand still in Gibeon, that in the days of King
Josiah the sun went backward ten degrees, and that at the


death of the Lord the sun was darkened for three hours.
We call such occurrences miracles (Wunder}, because they
contradict the usual course of things, and therefore excite
wonder. . . .

That part of astronomy, which is built up on the investi-
gation of natural phenomena, in order to determine the
course of the sun, of the moon, and stars, and to effect a
proper reckoning of time, the Christian clergy should seek
to learn with the utmost diligence, in order through the
knowledge of laws brought to light and through the valid
and convincing proof of the given means of evidence, to
place themselves in a position, not only to determine the
course of past years according to truth and reality, but
also for further times to draw confident conclusions, and
to fix the time of Easter and all other festivals and holy
days, and to announce to the congregation the proper cele-
bration of them.

12. The seven liberal arts of the philosophers, which
Christians should learn for their utility and advantage, we
have, as I think, sufficiently discussed. We have this yet
to add. When those, who are called philosophers, have in
their expositions or in their writings, uttered perchance
some truth, which agrees with our faith, we should not
handle it timidly, but rather take it as from its unlawful
possessors and apply it to our own use.

i ^Le^tr*^ (MzJUu


Martin Luther, the greatest of the Protestant reformers,
was born at Eisleben, Germany, November 10, 1483. His
father was a miner in humble circumstances. The home-
training he received was severe and hardening. At school
he came under the prevalent cruel discipline, and was cruelly
flogged for not accomplishing tasks that were entirely be-
yond his power. He was sent at the age of fourteen to the
school at Magdeburg conducted by the Brethren of the
Common Life. A year later he went to Eisenach, where he
completed his secondary education under the learned human-
ist John Tribonius.

In 1501 he entered the University of Erfurt which, un-
like many other universities of the time, welcomed the
study of the Latin and Greek classics. He took the Mas-
ter's degree there in 1505, and then entered the Augustin-
ian convent of mendicant friars at Erfurt, where he passed
through a profound religious experience. In 1507 he was
ordained to the priesthood, and a year later was called to the
newly founded University of Wittenberg, where he lectured
first on Aristotle and then on the Scriptures. On the 3ist
of October, 1517, in opposition to John Tetzel, who was
preaching indulgences throughout Germany, Luther nailed
his famous Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle
Church at Wittenberg. This event, which led to the sub-
sequent conflict with the Papacy, is commonly regarded as
the beginning of the Protestant revolution, which in the



next several decades firmly established itself among the
Teutonic peoples of Europe.

The necessities of the Reformation, as well as his pro-
found patriotism, gave Luther an intense interest in educa-
tion. Apart from frequent discussions of the subject in
other writings, he prepared two treatises which exhibit great
breadth of view and a marvelous though unrefined energy
of expression. The first of these is a " Letter to the Mayors
and Aldermen of All the Cities of Germany in Behalf of
Christian Schools," which was written in 1524, and the
second, a " Sermon on the Duty of Sending Children to
School," which was prepared in 1530. These treatises touch
on nearly every important phase of education, and are
admirable in their statement of principles and suggestion
of methods. The commendation of Dittes, director of the
Normal School in Vienna, is not unmerited : " If we survey
the pedagogy of Luther in all its extent," he says, " and
imagine it fully realized in practice, what a splendid picture
the schools and education of the sixteenth century would
present! We should have courses of study, text-books,
teachers, methods, principles, and modes of discipline,
schools and school regulations, that could serve as models
for our own age. But, alas! Luther, like all great men,
was little understood by his age and adherents; arid what
was understood was inadequately esteemed, and what was
esteemed was only imperfectly realized."

With Luther education was not an end in itself, but a
means of more effective service in church and state. If
people or rulers neglect the education of the young, they
inflict an injury on the cause of Christ and on the weal of
the state ; they advance the cause of Satan, and bring down
upon themselves the wrath of heaven. This is the funda-
mental thought that underlies all Luther's writings on


The " Letter to the Mayors and Aldermen of All the
Cities of Germany," which follows almost in its entirety, is
translated from the Leipzig edition of Luther's works. It
was written in the early years of the Protestant movement,
and exhibits in more than one passage the fierce energy of
a strong nature engaged in a struggle of life or death. But
in spite of its outbursts of rude polemic energy, we cannot
fail to recognize the breadth of view, solidity of judgment,
and excellence of recommendation, that make it an educa-
tional document of great importance. 1 It is the first great
contribution of Protestantism to the science and art of edu-
cation the beginning of the movement that has given
Europe and America its public schools.



First of all, we see how the schools are deteriorating
throughout Germany. The universities are becoming weak,
the monasteries are declining, and, as Isaiah says, " The
grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the spirit of the
Lord bloweth upon it," through the Gospel. For through \.
the word of God the unchristian and sensual character of
these institutions is becoming known. And because selfish
parents see that they can no longer place their children upon
the bounty of monasteries and cathedrals, they refuse to
educate them. " Why should we educate our children," they
say, " if they are not to become priests, monks, and nuns,
and thus earn a support ? "

1 For a complete presentation of Luther's pedagogy, the author may be
permitted to refer to his " Luther on Education " (Lutheran Publication
Society, Philadelphia), which contains a translation and systematic review of
nearly all that the reformer wrote on the subject.


The hollow piety and selfish aims of such persons are
sufficiently evident from their own confession. For if they
sought anything more than the temporal welfare of their
children in monasteries and the priesthood, if they were
deeply in earnest to secure the salvation and blessedness of
their children, they would not lose interest in education and
say, " if the priestly office is abolished, we will not send
our children to school." But they would speak after this
manner : " If it is true, as the Gospel teaches, that such a
calling is dangerous to our children, teach us another way
in which they may be pleasing to God and become truly
blessed ; for we wish to provide not alone for the bodies of
our children, but also for their souls." Such would be the
language of faithful Christian parents.

It is no wonder that the devil meddles in the matter, and
influences groveling hearts to neglect the children and the
youth of the country. Who can blame him for it? He is
the prince and god of this world, and with extreme displeas-
ure sees the Gospel destroy his nurseries of vice, the monas-
teries and priesthood, in which he corrupts the young beyond
measure, a work upon which his mind is especially bent.
How could he consent to a proper training of the young?
Truly he would be a fool if he permitted such a thing in his
kingdom, and thus consented to its overthrow ; which indeed
would happen, if the young should escape him, and be
brought up to the service of God.

Hence he acted wisely at the time when Christians were
educating and bringing up their children in a Christian
way. Inasmuch as the youth of the land would have escaped
him thus, and inflicted an irreparable injury upon his king-
dom, he went to work and spread his nets, established such
monasteries, schools, and orders, that it was not possible
for a boy to escape him without the miraculous intervention
of God. But now that he sees his snares exposed through


the word of God, he takes an opposite course, and dissuades
men from all education whatever. He thus pursues a wise
course to maintain his kingdom and win the youth of Ger-
many. And if he secures them, if they grow up under his
influence and remain his adherents, who can gain any ad-
vantage over him? He retains an easy and peaceful mas-
tery over the world. For any fatal wound to his cause
must come through the young who, brought up in the
knowledge of God, spread abroad the truth and instruct

Yet no one thinks of this dreadful purpose of the devil,
which is being worked out so quietly that it escapes obser-
vation; and soon the evil will be so far advanced that we
can do nothing to prevent it. People fear the Turks, wars,
and floods, for in such matters they can see what is injurious
or beneficial ; but what the devil has in mind no one sees
or fears. Yet where we would give a florin to defend
ourselves against the Turks, we should give a hundred
florins to protect us against ignorance, even if only one boy
could be taught to be a truly Christian man ; for the good
such a man can accomplish is beyond all computation.

Therefore I beg you all, in the name of God and of our
neglected youth, not to think of this subject lightly, as many
do who do not see what the prince of this world intends.
For the right instruction of youth is a matter in which
Christ and all the world are concerned. Thereby are we
all aided. And consider that great Christian zeal is needed
to overcome the silent, secret, and artful machinations of
the devil. If we must annually expend large sums on
muskets, roads, bridges, dams, and the like, in order that
the city may have temporal peace and comfort, why should
we not apply as much to our poor, neglected youth, in
order that we may have a skilful schoolmaster or two?


It is indeed a sin and shame that we must be aroused and
incited to the duty of educating our children and of con-
sidering their highest interests, whereas nature itself should
move us thereto, and the example of the heathen affords us
varied instruction. There is no irrational animal that does
not care for and instruct its young in what they should
know, except the ostrich, of which God says, " She leaveth
her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust ; and
is hardened against her young ones, as though they were
not hers." And what would it avail if we possessed and
performed all else, and became perfect saints, if we neglect
that for which we chiefly live, namely, to care for the
young? In my judgment there is no other outward offense
that in the sight of God so heavily burdens the world, and
deserves such heavy chastisement, as the neglect to educate

Parents neglect this duty from various causes. In the
first place, there are some who are so lacking in piety and
uprightness that they would not do it if they could, but, like
the ostrich, harden themselves against their own offspring,
and do nothing for them. In the second place, the great
majority of parents are unqualified for it, and do not under-
stand how children should be brought up and taught. In
the third place, even if parents were qualified and willing
to do it themselves, yet on account of other employments
and household duties, they have no time for it, so that
necessity requires us to have teachers for public schools,
unless each parent employ a private instructor.

Therefore it will be the duty of the mayors and councils
to exercise the greatest care over the young. For since the
happiness, honor, and life of the city are committed to their
hands, they would be held recreant before God and the
world, if they did not day and night, with all their power,
seek its welfare and improvement. Now the. welfare of a


city does not consist alone in great treasures, firm walls,
beautiful houses, and munitions of war; indeed, where all
these are found, and reckless fools come into power, the
city sustains the greater injury. But the highest welfare,
safety, and power of a city consist in able, learned, wise,
upright, cultivated citizens, who can secure, preserve, and
utilize every treasure and advantage.

Since, then, a city must have well-trained people, and
since the greatest need, lack, and lament is that such are
not to be found, we must not wait till they grow up of
themselves ; neither can they be hewed out of stones nor cut
out of wood; nor will God work miracles, so long as men
can attain their object through means within their reach.
Therefore we must see to it, and spare no trouble or ex-
pense to educate and form them ourselves. For whose
fault is it that in all the cities there are at present so few
skilful people except the rulers, who have allowed the young
to grow up like trees in the forest, and have not cared how
they were reared and taught? The growth, consequently,
has been so irregular that the forest furnishes no timber for
building purposes, but like a useless hedge is good only for

Yet there must be civil government. For us, then, to
permit ignoramuses and blockheads to rule when we can
prevent it, is irrational and barbarous. Let us rather make
rulers out of swine and wolves, and set them over peoples
who are indifferent to the manner in which they are gov-
erned. It is barbarous for men to think thus: "We will
now rule ; and what does it concern us how those fare who
shall come after us?" Not over human beings, but over
swine and dogs should such people rule, who think only
of their own interests and honor in governing. Even if
we exercise the greatest care to educate able, learned, and
skilled rulers, yet much care and effort are necessary in


order to secure prosperity. How can a city prosper, when
no effort is made?

But you say again, if we shall and must have schools,
what is the use to teach Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and other
liberal arts ? Is it not enough to teach the Scriptures, which
are necessary to salvation, in the mother tongue ? To which
I answer: I know, alas! that we Germans must always
remain irrational brutes, as we are deservedly called by
surrounding nations. But I wonder why we do not also
say: of what use to us are silk, wine, spices, and other
foreign articles, since we ourselves have an abundance of
wine, corn, wool, flax, wood, and stone in the German states,
not only for our necessities, but also for embellishment and
ornament? The languages and other liberal arts, which
are not only harmless, but even a greater ornament, benefit,
and honor than these things, both for understanding the
Holy Scriptures and carrying on the civil government, we
are disposed to despise; and the foreign articles which
are neither necessary nor useful, and which besides greatly
impoverish us, we are unwilling to dispense with. Are we
not rightly called German dunces and brutes?

Indeed, if the languages were of no practical benefit, we
ought still to feel an interest in them as a wonderful gift
of God, with which he has now blessed Germany almost
beyond all other lands. We do not find many instances
in which Satan has fostered them through the universities
and cloisters ; on the contrary, these institutions have fiercely
inveighed and continue to inveigh against them. For the
devil scented- the danger that would threaten his kingdom,
if the languages should be generally studied. But since he
could not wholly prevent their cultivation, he aims at least
to confine them within such narrow limits that they will of
themselves decline and fall into disuse. They are to him
no welcome guest, and consequently he shows them scant


courtesy in order that they may not remain long. This
malicious trick of Satan is perceived by very few.

Therefore, my beloved countrymen, let us open our eyes,
thank God for his precious treasure, and take pains to
preserve it and to frustrate the design of Satan. For we
can not deny that, although the Gospel has come and daily
comes through the Holy Spirit, it has come by means of the
languages, and through them must increase and be pre-
served. For when God wished through the apostles to
spread the Gospel abroad in all the world, he gave the
languages for that purpose ; and by means of the Roman
empire he made Latin and Greek the language of many
lands, that his Gospel mi-ght speedily bear fruit far and
wide. He has done the same now. For a time no one
understood why God had revived the study of the languages ;
but now we see that it was for the sake of the Gospel,
which he wished to bring to light and thereby expose and
destroy the reign of Antichrist. For the same reason he
gave Greece a prey to the Turks, in order that Greek
scholars, driven from home and scattered abroad, might

Online LibraryF. V. N. (Franklin Verzelius Newton) PainterGreat pedagogical essays; Plato to Spencer → online text (page 13 of 33)