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The History of the Reformation, Martin Luther

Written by: D'Aubigne, Merle    Posted on: 03/17/2003

Category: Biographies

Source: CCN

        ******************  S H A R E W A R E  ******************

                        The Story of Martin Luther

        This disk contains a modern revision of that classic work         Merle D'Aubigne's HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION published in         1835.  This magnificent Work occupies many megabites of         disk space and therefore only a minuscule amount can be         presented here.  The whole work consists of five volumes         with four books per volume.  This file contains the         contents and Book 2  Chapters 1-11 of Volume 1.         Please feel free to copy and give as many copies of this         file to your friends as you like.  Many months of typing,         proofreading and editing went into this work.  Therefore,         if you would like to make a contribution to help produce         more of this type of SHAREWARE, any amount would be         appreciated.         The whole Set, Volumes 1-5 (on disk in IBM format), is         available from me at the address below.  If you are         interested please send a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope         for information.

                          Angela Pitts                           P.O. Box 459                           Experiment, Georgia 30212                             HISTORY


                        THE REFORMATION


                      THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY

                BY J. H. MERLE D'AUBIGNE, D.D.,

      President of the Theological School of Geneva, and           Vice President of the Societe Evangelique.

                  FROM THE AUGUST 1835 EDITION

                  VOL. I. BK. II. CHAPS. I-XI.

                      REVISED JUNE 1989.


                      ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.



                            BOOK 2



                            CHAPTER 1

Luther's Descent--His Parents--His Birth--His Poverty--Paternal Home-- Severity--First Knowledge--School of Magdeburg--Hardships--Eisenach--The Shunamite--House of Cotta--Arts--Recollections of these Times--His Studies-- Trebonius--The University.

                            CHAPTER 2

The University--Scholastic Divinity and the Classics--Luther's Piety-- Discovery of the Bible--Illness--Luther admitted M.A.--Conscience--Death of Alexis--The Thunder Storm--Providence--Farewell--Luther enters a Convent.

                            CHAPTER 3

His Father's Anger--Pardon--Humiliation--The Sack and the Cell--Endurance-- Luther's Studies--St. Augustine--Peter d'Ailly--Occam--Gerson--The Chained Bible--Lyra--Hebrew and Greek--Daily Prayers--Asceticism--Mental Struggles-- Luther during Mass--Useless Observances--Luther in a Fainting-fit.

                            CHAPTER 4

Pious Monks--Staupitz--His Piety--Visitation--Conversations--The Grace of Christ--Repentance--Power of Sin--Sweetness of Repentance--Election-- Providence--The Bible--The aged Monk--Forgiveness of Sins--Ordination--The Dinner--Festival of Corpus Christi--Luther made Professor at Wittemberg.

                            CHAPTER 5

The University of Wittemberg--First Instructions--Biblical Lectures-- Sensation--Luther Preaches at Wittemberg--The Old Chapel--Impression produced by his Sermons.

                            CHAPTER 6

Journey to Rome--Convent on the Po--Sickness at Bologna--Recollections of Rome--Julius II--Superstitious Devotion--Profanity of the Clergy-- Conversations--Roman Scandals--Biblical Studies--Pilate's Staircase--Effects on Luther's Faith and on the Reformation--Gate of Paradise--Luther's Confession.

                            CHAPTER 7

Luther returns to Wittemberg--Made Doctor of Divinity--Carlstadt--Luther's Oath--Principle of the Reformation--Luther's Courage--Early Views of Reformation--The Schoolmen--Spalatin--Reuchlin's Quarrel with the Monks.

                            CHAPTER 8

Faith--Popular Declamations--Academic Teaching--Luther's Purity of Life-- German Theology or Mysticism--The Monk Spenlein--Justification by Faith-- Luther on Erasmus--Faith and Works--Erasmus--Necessity of Works--Luther's Charity.

                            CHAPTER 9

Luther's First Theses--The Old Adam and Grace--Visitaton of the Convents-- Luther at Dresden and Erfurth--Tornator--Peace and the Cross--Results of Luther's Journey--His Labors--The Plague.

                          CHAPTER 10

The Relics--Relations of Luther with the Elector--Advice to the Chaplain--Duke George--His Character--Luther's Sermon before the Court--Dinner at Court-- Evening with Emser.

                          CHAPTER 11

Return to Wittemberg--Theses--Free Will--Nature of Man--Rationalism--Proposal to the University at Erfurth--Eck--Urban Regius--Luther's Modesty--Effect of the Theses.

                          CHAPTER ONE

        All was ready.  God who prepares his work through ages, accomplishes it by the weakest instruments, when His time is come.  To effect great results by the smallest means--such is the law of God.  This law, which prevails everywhere in nature, is found also in history.  God selected the reformers of the Church from the same class whence he had taken the apostles.  He chose them from among that lower rank, which, although not the meanest, does not reach the level of the middle classes.  Everything was thus intended to manifest to the world that the work was not of man but of God.  The reformer Zuingle emerged from an Alpine shepherd's hut; Melancthon, the theologian of the Reformation, from an armorer's shop; and Luther from the cottage of a poor miner.         The first period in man's life--that in which he is formed and molded under the hand of God--is always important.  It is eminently so in the career of Luther.  The whole of the Reformation is included in it.  The different phases of this work succeeded one another in the soul of him who was to be the instrument for effecting it, before they were accomplished in the world.  The knowledge of the change that took place in Luther's heart can alone furnish the key to the reformation of the Church. It is only by studying the particulars that we can understand the general work.  Those who neglect the former will be ignorant of the latter except in its outward appearance.  They may acquire a knowledge of certain events and certain results, but they will never comprehend the intrinsic nature of that revival, because the principle of life, that was its very soul, remains unknown to them.  Let us therefore study the Reformation in Luther himself, before we proceed to the events that changed the face of Christendom.         In the village of Mora, near the Thuringian forests, and not far from the spot where Boniface, the apostle of Germany, began to proclaim the Gospel, had dwelt, doubtless for many centuries, an ancient and numerous family of the name of Luther.  As was customary with the Thuringian peasants, the eldest son always inherited the dwelling and the paternal fields, while the other children departed elsewhere in quest of a livelihood.  One of these, by name John Luther, married Margaret Lindemann, the daughter of an inhabitant of Neustadt in the see of Wurzburg. The married pair quitted the plains of Eisenach, and went to settle in the little town of Eisleben in Saxony, to earn their bread by the sweat of their brows.         Seckendorf relates, on the testimony of Rebhan, superintendent at Eisenach in 1601, that Luther's mother, thinking her time still distant, had gone to the fair of Eisleben, and that contrary to her expectation she there gave birth to a son.  Notwithstanding the credit that is due to Seckendorf, this account does not appear to be correct:  in fact, none of the oldest of Luther's historians mention it; and besides, it is about twenty-four leagues from Mora to Eisleben, and in the condition of Luther's mother at that time, people do not readily make up their minds to travel such a distance to see a fair; and, lastly, the evidence of Luther himself appears in direct opposition to this assertion.         John Luther was an upright man, diligent in business, frank, and carrying the firmness of his character even to obstinacy. With a more cultivated mind than that of most men of his class, he used to read much.  Books were then rare; but John omitted no opportunity of procuring them.  They formed his relaxation in the intervals of repose, snatched from his severe and constant labors.  Margaret possessed all the virtues that can adorn a good and pious woman.  Her modesty, her fear of God, and her prayerful spirit, were particularly remarked.  She was looked upon by the matrons of the neighborhood as a model whom they should strive to imitate.         It is not precisely known how long the married pair had been living at Eisleben, when, on the 10th of November, one hour before midnight, Margaret gave birth to a son.  Melancthon often questioned his friend's mother as to the period of his birth.  "I well remember the day and the hour," replied she, "but I am not certain about the year."  But Luther's brother James, an honest and upright man, has recorded, that in the opinion of the whole family the future reformer was born on St. Martin's eve, 10th November, 1483.  And Luther himself wrote on a Hebrew Psalter which is still in existence:  "I was born in the year 1483."  The first thought of his pious parents was to dedicate to God, according to the faith they professed, the child that he had given them.  On the morrow, which happened to be Tuesday, the father carried his son to St. Peter's church, where he received the rite of Infant Baptism and was called Martin in commemoration of the day.         The child was not six months old, when his parents quitted Eisleben to repair to Mansfeldt, which is only five leagues distant.  The mines of that neighborhood were then very celebrated.  John Luther, who was a hard-working man, feeling that perhaps he would be called upon to bring up a numerous family, hoped to gain a better livelihood for himself and his children in that town.  It was here that the understanding and strength of young Luther received their first development; here his activity began to display itself, and here his character was declared in his words and in his actions.  The plains of Mansfeldt, the banks of the Wipper, were the theater of his first sports with the children of the neighborhood.         The first period of their abode at Mansfeldt was full of difficulty to the worthy John and his wife.  At first they lived in great poverty.  "My parents," said the Reformer, "were very poor.  My father was a poor wood- cutter, and my mother has often carried wood upon her back, that she might procure the means of bringing up her children.  They endured the severest labor for our sakes."  The example of the parents whom he revered, the habits they inspired in him, early accustomed Luther to labor and frugality.  How many times, doubtless, he accompanied his mother to the wood, there to gather up his little faggot!         There are promises of blessing on the labor of the righteous, and John Luther experienced their realization.  Having attained somewhat easier circumstances, he established two smelting furnaces at Mansfeldt.  Beside these furnaces little Martin grew in strength, and with the produce of this labor his father afterwards provided for his studies.  "It was from a miner's family," says the good Mathesius, "that the spiritual founder of Christendom was to go forth:  an image of what God would do in purifying the sons of Levi through him, and refining them like gold in his furnaces."  Respected by all for his integrity, for his spotless life, and good sense, John Luther was made councillor of Mansfeldt, capital of the earldom of that name.  Excessive misery might have crushed the child's spirit: the competence of his paternal home expanded his heart and elevated his character.         John took advantage of his new position to court the society which he preferred.  He had a great esteem for learned men, and often invited to his table the clergy and schoolmasters of the place.  His house offered a picture of those social meeting of his fellow-citizens, which did honor to Germany at the commencement of the sixteenth century.  It was a mirror in which were reflected the numerous images that followed one another in the agitated scene of the times.  The child profited by them.  No doubt the sight of these men, to whom so much respect was shown in his father's house, excited more than once in little Martin's heart the ambitious desire of becoming himself one day a schoolmaster or a learned man.         As soon as he was old enough to receive instructions, his parents endeavoured to impart to him the knowledge of God, to train him up in His fear, and to mold him to christian virtues. They exerted all their care in this earliest domestic education. The father would often kneel at the child's bedside, and fervently pray aloud, begging the Lord that his son might remember His name and one day contribute to the propagation of the truth.  The parent's prayer was most graciously listened to. And yet his tender solicitude was not confined to this.         His father, anxious to see him acquire the elements of that learning for which he himself had so much esteem, invoked God's blessing upon him, and sent him to school.  Martin was still very young.  His father, or Nicholas Emler, a young man of Mansfeldt, often carried him in their arms to the house of George Emilius, and afterwards returned to fetch him home.  Emler in after- years married one of Luther's sisters.         His parents' piety, their activity and austere virtue, gave the boy a happy impulse, and formed in him an attentive and serious disposition.  The system of education which then prevailed made use of chastisement and fear as the principal incentives to study.  Margaret, although sometimes approving to too great severity of her husband, frequently opened her maternal arms to her son to console him in his tears.  Yet even she herself overstept the limits of that wise precept:  He that loveth his son, chasteneth him betimes.  Martin's impetuous character gave frequent occasion for punishment and reprimand. "My parents," said Luther in after-life, "treated my harshly, so that I became very timid.  My mother one day chastised me so severely about a nut, that the blood came.  They seriously thought that they were doing right; but they could not distinguish character, which however is very necessary in order to know when, or where, or how chastisement should be inflicted. It is necessary to punish; but the apple should be placed beside the rod."         At school the poor child met with treatment no less severe. His master flogged him fifteen times successively on one morning. "We must," said Luther, when relating this circumstance--"we must whip children, but we must at the same time love them."  With such an education Luther learnt early to despise the charms of a merely sensual life.  "What is to become great, should begin small," justly observes one of his oldest biographers; "and if children are brought up too delicately and with too much kindness from their youth, they are injured for life."         Martin learnt something at school.  He was taught the heads of his Catechism, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, some hymns, some forms of prayer, and a Latin grammar written in the fourth century by Donatus who was St. Jeromes's master, and which, improved in the eleventh century by one Remigius, a French monk, was long held in great repute in every school.  He further studied the calendar of Cisio Janus, a very singular work, composed in the tenth or eleventh century: in fine, he learnt all that could be taught in the Latin school of Mansfeldt.         But the child's thoughts do not appear to have been there directed to God.  The only religious sentiment that could then be discovered in him was fear.  Every time he heard Jesus Christ spoken of, he turned pale with affright; for the Saviour had only been represented to him as an offended judge.  This servile fear--so alien to true religion--may perhaps have prepared him for the glad tidings of the Gospel, and for that joy which he afterwards felt, when he learnt to know Him who is meek and lowly in heart.         John Luther wished to make his son a scholar.  The day that was everywhere beginning to dawn, had penetrated even into the house of the Mansfeldt miner, and there awakened ambitious thoughts.  The remarkable disposition, the persevering application of his son, made John conceive the liveliest expectations.  Accordingly, in 1497, when Martin had attained the age of fourteen years, his father resolved to part with him, and send him to the Franciscan school at Magdeburg.  His mother was forced to consent, and Martin prepared to quit the paternal roof.         Magdeburg was like a new world to Martin.  In the midst of numerous privations, for he scarcely had enough to live upon, he inquired--he listened.  Andrew Proles, provincial of the Augustine order, was at that time warmly advocating the necessity of reforming religion and the Church.  It was not he, however, who deposited in the young man's heart the first germ of the ideas that were afterwards developed there.         This was a rude apprenticeship for Luther.  Thrown upon the world at the age of fourteen, without friends or protectors, he trembled in the presence of his masters, and in the hours of recreation he painfully begged his bread in company with children poorer than himself.  "I used to beg with my companions for a little food," said he, "that we might have the means of providing for our wants.  One day, at the time the Church celebrates the festival of Christ's nativity, we were wandering together through the neighboring villages, going from house to house, and singing in four parts the usual carols on the infant Jesus, born at Bethlehem.  We stopped before a peasant's house that stood by itself at the extremity of the village.  The farmer, hearing us sing our Christmas hymns, came out with some victuals which he intended to give us, and called out in a high voice and with a harsh tone, Boys, where are you?  Frightened at these words, we ran off as fast as our legs would carry us.  We had no reason to be alarmed, for the farmer offered us assistance with great kindness; but our hearts, no doubt, were rendered timorous by the menaces and tyranny with which the teachers were then accustomed to rule over their pupils, so that a sudden panic had seized us. At last, however, as the farmer continued calling after us, we stopped, forgot our fears, ran back to him, and received from his hands the food intended for us.  It is thus," adds Luther, "that we are accustomed to tremble and flee, when our conscience is guilty and alarmed.  In such a case we are afraid even of the assistance that is offered us, and of those who are our friends, and who would willingly do us every good."         A year had scarcely passed away, when John and Margaret, hearing what difficulty their son found in supporting himself at Magdeburg, sent him to Eisenach, where there was a celebrated school, and in which town they had many relatives.  They had other children; and although their means had increased, they could not maintain their son in a place where he was unknown. The furnaces and the industry of John Luther did little more than provide for the support of his family.  He hoped that when Martin arrived at Eisenach, he would more easily find the means of subsistence; but he was not more fortunate in this town.  His relations who dwelt there took no care about him, or perhaps, being very poor themselves, they could not give him any assistance.         When the young scholar was pinched by hunger, he was compelled, as at Madgeburg, to join with his schoolfellows in singing from door to door to obtain a morsel of bread.  This custom of Luther's days is still preserved in many German cities: sometimes the voices of the youths form an harmonious concert. Often, instead of food, the poor and modest Martin received nothing but harsh words.  Then, overwhelmed with sorrow, he shed many tears in secret, and thought with anxiety of the future.         One day, in particular, he had already been repulsed from three houses, and was preparing to return fasting to his lodgings, when, having reached the square of St. George, he stopped motionless, plunged in melancholy reflections, before the house of a worthy citizen.  Must he for want of bread renounce his studies, and return to labor with his father in the mines of Mansfeldt?......Suddenly a door opens--a woman appears on the threshold:  it is Ursula, the wife of Conrad Cotta, and daughter of the burgomaster of Ilfeld.  The Eisenach chronicles style her "the pious Shunamite," in remembrance of her who so earnestly constrained the prophet Elisha to stay and eat bread with her. The christian Shunamite had already more than once remarked the youthful Martin in the assemblies of the faithful; she had been affected by the sweetness of his voice and by his devotion.  She had heard the harsh words that had been addressed to the poor scholar, and seeing him stand thus sadly before her door, she came to his aid, beckoned him to enter, and gave him food to appease his hunger.         Conrad approved of his wife's benevolence:  he even found so much pleasure in the boy's society, that a few days after he took him to live entirely with him.  Henceforward his studies were secured.  He is not obliged to return to the mines of Mansfeldt, and bury the talents that God has intrusted to him.  At a time when he knew not what would become of him, God opened the heart and the house of a christian family.  This event disposed his soul to that confidence in God which the severest trials could not afterwards shake.         Luther passed in Cotta's house a very different kind of life from that which he had hitherto known.  His existence glided away calmly, exempt from want and care:  his mind became more serene, his character more cheerful, and his heart more open.  All his faculties awoke at the mild rays of charity, and he began to exult with life, joy, and happiness.  His prayers were more fervent, his thirst for knowledge greater, and his progress in study more rapid.         To literature and science he added the charms of the fine arts; for they also were advancing in Germany.  The men whom God destines to act upon their contemporaries, are themselves at first influenced and carried away by all the tendencies of the age in which they live.  Luther learned to play on the flute and on the lute.  With this latter instrument he used often to accompany his fine alto voice, and thus cheered his heart in the hours of sadness.  He took delight in testifying by his melody his lively gratitude towards his adoptive mother, who was passionately fond of music.  He himself loved the art even to old age, and composed the words and airs of some of the finest hymns that Germany possesses.  Many have even passed into our language.         These were happy times for young Luther:  he could never think of them without emotion.  One of Conrad's sons coming many years after to study at Wittemberg, when the poor scholar of Eisenach had become the first doctor of the age, was received with joy at his table and under his roof.  He wished to make some return to the son for the kindness he had received from the parents.  It was in remembrance of this christian woman who had fed him when all the world repulsed him, that he gave utterance to this beautiful thought:  "There is nothing sweeter on earth than the heart of a woman in which piety dwells."         Luther was never ashamed of these days in which, oppressed by hunger, he used in sadness to beg the bread necessary for his studies and his livelihood.  Far from that, he used to reflect with gratitude on the extreme poverty of his youth.  He looked upon it as one of the means that God had employed to make him what he afterwards became, and he accordingly thanked him for it. The poor children who were obliged to follow the same kind of life, touched his heart.  "Do not despise," said he, "the boys who go singing through the streets, begging a little bread for the love of God (panem propter Deum):  I also have done the same. It is true that somewhat later my father supported me with much love and kindness at the university of Erfurth, maintaining me by the sweat of his brow; yet I have been a poor beggar.  And now, by means of my pen, I have risen so high, that I would not change lots with the Grand Turk himself.  Nay more, should all the riches of the earth be heaped one upon another, I would not take them in exchange for what I possess.  And yet I should not be where I am, if I had not gone to school--if I had not learnt to write."--Thus did this great man see in these his first humble beginnings the origin of all his glory.  He feared not to recall to mind that the voice whose accents thrilled the empire and the world, once used to beg for a morsel of bread in the streets of a small town.  The Christian finds a pleasure in such recollections, because they remind him that it is in God alone he should glory.         The strength of his understanding, the liveliness of his imagination, the excellence of his memory, soon carried him beyond all his schoolfellows.  He made rapid progress especially in Latin, in eloquence, and in poetry.  He wrote speeches and composed verses.  As he was cheerful, obliging, and had what is called "a good heart," he was beloved by his masters and by his schoolfellows.         Among the professors he attaches himself particularly to John Trebonius, a learned man, of an agreeable address, and who had all that regard for youth which is so well calculated to encourage them.  Martin had noticed that whenever Trebonius entered the schoolroom, he raised his cap to salute the pupils. A great condescension in those pedantic times!  This had delighted the young man.  He saw that he was something.  The respect of the master had elevated the scholar in his own estimation.  The colleagues of Trebonius, who did not adopt the same custom, having one day expressed their astonishment at his extreme condescension, he replied (and his answer did not the less strike the youthful Luther):  "There are among these boys men of whom God will one day make burgomasters, chancellors, doctors, and magistrates.  Although you do not yet see them with the badges of their dignity, it is right that you should treat them with respect."  Doubtless the young scholar listened with pleasure to these words, and perhaps imagined himself already with the doctor's cap upon his head!

                        BOOK 2  CHAPTER 2

The University--Scholastic Divinity and the Classics--Luther's Piety-- Discovery of the B

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