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the commencement of the controversy respecting indulgences in the year 1516. Continuing the work on the same plan, the author must extend it to some ten or twelve volumes of equal size, which, one would think, might be sufficiently complete.
So far as possible, I have endeavored to make out the narrative by extracts literally translated from Luther himself and his contemporaries, which is the method altogether the most satisfactory to those who wish for an accurate picture of the times.
In the little village of More, on the southern border of the Hartz mountains in Saxony, (now a part of Prussia), there lived, during ther eign of the Emperor Maximilian I., towards the close of the fifteenth century, a robust young German laborer, named John Luther.* He was a peasant born, and was sometimes employed in cutting slate stones, and sometimes he worked in the mines. He became attached to a healthful, pious, fresh-looking
. peasant girl of Franconia, named Margaret Lindemann; and so soon as, by their mutual industry, they could collect the means of a frugal housekeeping, expecting always to live by the work of their hands, they were married. In the autumn of 1483, a few months after their marriage, they removed to Eisleben, the market town of their neighborhood. During the excitement of the fair, Margaret became the mother of a fine, healthy sont The child was born at 11 o'clock in the evening of the 10th of November, which being St. Martin's day, he was the next morning baptized in the St. Peter's Church of that town, and was named Martin. The saint after whom the child was named, was Martin of Tours, who had been a Roman soldier, was converted to Christ, became the apostle of France, and died in the year 397. The birth of Martin Luther took place in the same year in which Savonarola was burned at the stake in Florence, for attempting a reformation in Italy. Melancthon says he had often asked Luther's mother the date of his birth. She remembered perfectly the day and the hour, but the year she was not certain of. His younger brother, James, said it was 1483. Said Luther, when his fame filled the civilized world, “I am a peasant's son; my father, my grandfather, all my ancestors, were real peasants."
When Martin was six months old, John and Margaret removed to Mansfield, a mining town in the same district. Here they were quite poor; for to help out their scanty means of subsisience, while John was at work in the mines, Margaret would go to the woods with her little boy, and there cut and bind up faggots, which she carried to town on her back. I They soon had other children, a large family of them, for whose birth John always returned hearty thanks to God, considering them his greatest treasure; but little Martin, with his curly auburn hair, and bright blue eyes, his fair face, and sweet voice, and sprightly manners, was always the special favorite. No others of the family ever acquired celebrity. They were respected in their places of abode as honest, industrious, God-fearing people; but their fame was never widely extended. John Luther, considering that he was a hard-working man of that period, was remarkable both for piety and intelligence. It was his delight, in winter evenings, to sit with his family, and relate Bible stories, or read aloud from books which he borrowed from a neighboring convent. Clergymen and school-masters, and other men of village celebrity for learning, he often invited to his house; and to their conversation the litile Martin listened with an eagerness that greatly interested them. He made rapid improvement. At the age of six years he could read and write with fluency. He was regarded as a child of great promise; and while he was asleep, his father would often kneel by his bed-side with loud and earnest prayer to God, that he would grant his grace to the child, and make him the means of great good to the world.
* Mathesius 4.
+ Mathesius 2.
Margaret was very strict in the religious training of her children, and both she and her husband were anxious to give to Martin in particular, the best education in their power. They sent him very young to the village school, where he soon attracted notice; and when the roads were muddy, or the snow deep, so that the little favorite could not well walk, the larger boys were proud to take him in their arms, or carry him on their backs. Luther, in the height of his fame, whenever he met any of these rustic helpers, would delight to remind them of the service they had rendered him. According to the notions of the times, he was subjected, both at school and in the family, to a harsh and severe discipline, but ill adapted to a nature so sensitive and susceptible as his.' To it may be traced no small part of the mental anguish and terror of his subsequent life. He said himself, in respect to this point, “My parents brought up with great severity, so that I was made timid, and ran into a cloister to become a monk. They meant it most heartily for good; but they did not understand that different dispositions require different modes of treatment and different kinds of punishment. It was the serious and severe life of my mother that made me a monk."*
By a life of industry and good conduct, his parents at length obtained competency and respectable rank in society. John Luther became the owner of two smelting furnaces, and was appointed one of the magistrates of Mansfeldt. This brought him into association with lawyers, and not doubting that his
• Pf. 6.
i + Math. 4.
little Martin could learn to plead as well as the best of them, he determined to fit him for ihe university, and the study of the law. His actual income, however, was yet small, and he was able to give his son but little in the way of money. At Magdeburg there was a so-called Schola Currenda, professedly a charity school, where boys were taught gratuitously, on condition that they would sing in the churches, and from door to door in the city, and thus beg money to put into the treasury of the establishment. This was the school to which John Luther proposed to send his son. One morning in May, in the year 1497, two lads were seen passing along the streets of Mansfeldt, with little packs on their backs, and staves in their hands, and their eyes swimming in tears. These were Martin Luther, then fourteen years old, and his chum, John Reineck, of the same age, who had set out on foot to trudge across the Hartz Mountains, a distance of more than fifty miles, through a wild country, in that rude age, in order to attend the charity school at Magdeburg. *
John succeeded by his singing, in getting money enough from the neighbors to make it an object for the institution to keep him; but poor Martin had such bad luck, that before the year was out, the teacher told him they could keep him no longer. He went home quite disheartened. His mother did not, however, yet despair. She had relatives at Eisenach, a city at about the same distance south of Mansfeldt, where was a similar school of the Franciscan order, and where the then celebrated John Trebonius was teaching poetry and eloquence, with great reputation. Thither, therefore, his parents sent him to make a second trial; and here, eventually, better success awaited him. Not that he immediately escaped from the inconveniences and ills of poverty. These he had for a long time to endure, even to the actual suffering of hunger, without the means to buy a morsel off ood; and at that early age, he was obliged to learn to trust in him who feedeth the young ravens when they cry. Like other poor students of those days, he would go to the doors of the rich and sing some popular air, for which he was sometimes rewarded with a supply of food or a little money, and sometimes was roughly ordered to depart, and not disturb people with his noise. Though naturally of a cheerful and buoyant disposition, his hardships and privations would often make him discouraged and sad. He loved his books, and could not think of abandoning his studies; but he was actually in a suffering condition, from inability to supply the commonest physical wants.
One day, when he was hungry and had nothing to eat, after
• Audin I. 3.
having been already repulsed from three doors, he ventured, as a last resort, to raise his stout mellow voice in a pensive air under the window of the lady Ursula, the wife of Conrad Cotta, a man in good circumstances, and a magistrate. This lady had often noticed the fair haired student at church, and had been pleased with the good taste and feeling with which he performed his part in the choir. Hearing his voice, she opened the window and dropped out a few small coins. He turned his face to thank her, and she saw that his eyes were filled with tears. Her pity was moved. She sent for him to come into the parlor, when she supplied his immediate wants, and engaged him in earnest conversation. She became deeply interested in him, and kept him there till her husband returned in the evening. He also was highly pleased with the handsome, intelligent boy; and before he left, they exacted of him a promise that he would make their house his home, and take his meals at their plentiful table during his stay in Eisenach; a promise which he was very willing to make, and as willing to keep after he had made it. The lady purchased for him a guitar and a flute, on both which he soon learned to play without a master. This excellent woman, who afterwards went by the name of the good Shunamite,* lived to see her protege in the height of his usefulness; and Luther thus early had rich experience of the truth to which he afterwards so often gave utterance,
" There is nothing on earth so sweet as the heart of a right good Christian woman.
He was now in easy circumstances, while pursuing the remainder of his studies at Eisenach. The castle of Wartburg, so memorable at a later period of his life, is on the summit of a steep mountain, just south of the city of Eisenach; and his youthful eye often rested on its antique towers and picturesque position, without once anticipating that it would for ages, derive its chief celebrity from being associated with his name. The school books from which he learned the rudiments of Latin, were an old Latin grammar by Donatres, the teacher of St. Jerome, the decalogue, the Lord's Prayer and the creed in Latin, and the Cicio Janus, a sort of church almanac, in which each month had a Latin verse, all which verses together contained as many syllables as there are days in the year, and the object of which was, to enumerate all the fasts and festivals of the church.t
In the year 1502, at the age of eighteen, he took leave of his kind friends in Eisenach, and entered the university of Erfort. His name is written in the university books, Martinus Lutherus, and when he received his baccalaureate it is written Luderus,
* 2 Kings iv. ch.
+ Math. 4, 394, 395.
without the th; and so he signs his name in many of his early letters. But as the word Luder in German signifies carrion, or
. rotten flesh, he soon dropped this mode of orthography, and spelled his name uniformly as it is now written, Luther. *
His father's circumstances were now improved, and his wants at the university were well supplied. He afterwards said, “My dear father sustained me with all love and fidelity, at the university of Erfort, and by his sweat and hard labor helped me to be what I now am.”+
He distinguished himself at once, as a scholar in all the branches then taught, and read with great delight the ancient classics, among whom Cicero and Virgil, Plautus and Livy, were his favorite authors. In his twentieth year, he took his master's degree, the second scholar in a class of seventeen, I and commenced the study of the law. One year after, (1505), only three years from the time he entered the university, in the twenty-first year of his age, he began himself to deliver lectures on the physics and ethics of Aristotle, with great approbation.
Such was the external history of Martin Luther, from his birth till he became a distinguished teacher in one of the best universities of his native country. . Let us now turn to his internal history, the struggles and conflicts of his mind during this period.
In Luther the religious sentiment was, by his own nature, developed with very great strength. His whole character was one of gigantic power; and the devotional element was one of the most vigorous of his mental qualities. His education had been strictly religious, but of a kind fitted to inspire terror and dread, rather than confidence and love. The popular religion of the day, consisting in forms and ceremonies, asceticisms, and willworship, and senseless mumblings, was far from meeting the wants of a mind like his; and the Bible, as a religious reading book, was then unknown.
At school, and in the university, amid all the ardor with which Luther pursued his studies, he never forgot or neglected the duties of religion. While a student at law, it was a common remark with him, that prayer is the best kind of study; (fleissig gebetet ist ueder die Helft studirt.) In his twentieth year, A. D.
, 1503, while turning over the books of the library of Erfort, to his surprise and delight, he found a complete copy of the Latin Bible. It was the first time he had ever seen one. which first met his eye was that of Hannah and her son Samuel, in which he became intensely interested. He read the volume through and through, with inexpressible eagerness.
Aud. i. 3.
† Pf. 15.
† Pf. 21.
S Math. 6, Pf. 16.