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Life of Luther by Julius Koestlin

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eyes, something unusual with him, and making him call on God to put
an end to his pain or to his life. A copious discharge of matter
from his ear, which occurred in Passion Week, gave him relief; but
for a long while he continued very weak and suffering. To his
prince, who sent his private physician to attend him, he wrote on
April 25, thanking him, and adding, 'I should have been well content
if the dear Lord Jesus had taken me in His mercy from hence, as I am
now of little more use on earth.' He attributed his recovery to the
intercessions which Bugenhagen had made for him in the Church.

Whilst he was still feeling his head thus full of pain and unfit for
work, he was called upon to give his opinion on the preparations for
the religious conference at Ratisbon, and afterwards upon its

Bright prospects seemed now to be opening for the victory of the
Gospel. Men of understanding and really desirous of peace had for
once been commissioned, by the Catholics as well as by the
Protestants, to conduct the debate. The chief actors were no longer
an Eck, though he, too, was one of the collocutors, but the pious,
gentle, and refined theologian Julius von Pflug, and the electoral
counsellor of Cologne, Gropper, who vied with him in an earnest
desire for reform and unity. Contarini also was there, as the Papal
legate--a man influenced by purely religious motives, and a convert
to the deeper Evangelical doctrine of salvation. Melancthon and
Butzer were also there. The questions of most importance from the
Evangelical point of view were first dealt with--namely, those which
related, not to the external system and authority of the Church, but
to man's need of, and the way to obtain, salvation, to sin, grace,
and justification. And it was now unanimously confessed that the
faithful soul is sustained solely by the righteousness given by
Christ; and for His sake alone, and not for any worthiness or works
of its own, is justified and accepted by God.

Never before, and never since, have Protestant and Catholic
theologians approached each other so nearly, nay, been so unanimous,
on these fundamental doctrines, as on that memorable day. And the
Catholics, in this, distinctly left the ground of mediaval
scholasticism, and went over to that of the Evangelicals. How
distinctly this was done will be apparent to any one who compares
the propositions accepted at the Conference of Ratisbon with the
Catholic reply to the Augsburg Confession of 1530.

Nevertheless, we do not find that Luther felt particularly elated by
the news from Ratisbon. The formula which embodied their agreement
seemed to him a 'roundabout and patched affair.' In connection with
faith, as the only means of justification, too much, he thought, was
said of the works which must spring from it; in connection with the
justification given to the faithful through Christ, too much was
said of the righteousness which each Christian must strive to
attain. He, too, had always taught and demanded both works and
righteousness. But the present arrangement of clauses seemed to him
calculated to lessen and obscure again the primary importance of
Christ and of Faith, as the sole means of salvation. And we see what
objection was uppermost in his mind, in his allusion to Eck, who
also was obliged to subscribe the formula. Eck, said Luther, would
never confess to having once taught differently to now, and would
know well enough how to adopt the new tenets to his old way of
thinking. They were putting a patch of new cloth upon an old
garment, and the rent would be made worse. (Matt. ix. 16.)

Luther was spared, however, a decision as to the acceptance or
non-acceptance of an agreement. For among the Catholic Estates of
the Empire he found, so far as he had followed the debate of the
Diet, too strong an opposition to hope for real union. Moreover,
the collocutors themselves were unable to agree when they came to
further questions, as, for example, the Mass and Transubstantiation;
they still shipwrecked, therefore, on those points which were of the
most vital importance for the external glorification of the
priesthood and the Church, and the surrender of which would have
meant the sacrifice of a dogma already ratified by a Conciliar

On June 11 an embassy from Ratisbon appeared before Luther in the
name of those Protestant states which were most zealous for unity.
Prince John of Anhalt was at their head. Luther was requested to
declare his concurrence with what had been done, and assist them in
giving permanent effect to the articles agreed to at the Conference,
and arranging some peaceful and tolerant compromise with regard to
those points on which agreement had been impossible. Luther was
quite prepared to acquiesce in such toleration, provided only the
Emperor would permit the preaching of the articles referring to the
doctrine of salvation, leaving it open to the Protestants to
continue their warfare of the Word on the points still remaining in
dispute. The Emperor, however, would only sanction those articles on
the understanding that a Council should finally decide upon them,
and that, in the meantime, all controversial writings on matters of
religion should cease. By the Catholic Estates at the Diet they were
strenuously opposed. Luther's own opinion remained substantially the
same as before--namely, that any trust or hopes were vain, unless
their enemies gave God the honour due to Him, and openly confessed
that they had changed their teaching. The Emperor must see and
acknowledge that within the last twenty years his Edict had been the
murder of many pious people.

The Conference accordingly remained fruitless. The Diet, however,
did not close without achieving an important result for the
Protestants; for the Emperor granted them, at their request, the
Religious Peace of Nuremberg.

The main reason that induced Charles so far to toleration and
leniency was the trouble with the Turks. With regard to these,
Luther now addressed himself once more to his countrymen with words
of earnestness and weight. He published an 'Exhortation to prayer
against the Turks,' teaching and warning his readers to regard them
as a scourge of God, and make war against them as God commanded.
From this time also dates his hymn

Lord, shield us with Thy Word, our Hope,
And smite the Moslem and the Pope.

When a tax was levied for the war with the Turks, Luther himself
begged the Elector not to exempt him with his scanty goods. He would
gladly, he said, if not too old and too infirm, 'be one of the army
himself.' In 1542 he brought out for his countrymen a refutation of
the Koran, written in earlier days, that they might learn what a
shameful faith was Mahomed's, and not suffer themselves to be
perverted, in case by God's decree they should see the Turks
victorious, or even fall into their hands.



The Reformation, against which the Emperor had so repeatedly to
promise his interference, and with which he was compelled to seek
for a peaceful understanding, continued meanwhile to gain ground in
various parts of Germany.

[Illustration: Fig. 45.--JONAS. (From a portrait by Cranach, in his
Album at Berlin, 1543.)]

Luther hailed with especial joy its victory in the town of Halle,
which had formerly been a favourite seat of the Cardinal Albert and
the chief scene of his wanton extravagances, and where now one of
Luther's most intimate and most learned friends from Wittenberg,
Justus Jonas, was installed as reformer and Evangelical pastor. Here
the final impetus was given to the movement, among the mass of the
population, of whom the large majority had long espoused the cause
of Luther, by those money difficulties which played such a serious
and grievous part in the life of Albert. When, in the spring of
1541, the town was called on to pay taxes to the amount of 22,000
gulden, to defray the Cardinal's debts, the citizens made the
payment conditional on their Council appointing an Evangelical
preacher. Jonas was accordingly invited to the town, and received at
once, on his arrival, a regular appointment through the magistracy
and a committee of the congregation. In Passion Week, when Luther
was recovering from his illness and Albert had to attend the Diet at
Ratisbon, Jonas for the first time took his place in the principal
church in the town, then recently rebuilt, in the pulpit which the
Archbishop had had erected with elaborate carvings in stone. Soon
after the two other churches in the town received Evangelical
preachers. The general regulation of Church matters was entrusted to
Jonas, and remained under his control. Luther, however, supported
his friend with his advice, and continued on terms of trusted
intimacy with him till his death. He did not conceal his joy that
the 'wicked old rogue,' Albert, should have had to live to see this,
and praised God for upholding His judgment upon earth. The
collection of countless and wonderful relics with which the
Cardinal, twenty years before, had sought to carry on the traffic in
indulgences, so hateful to Luther, he now wished to exhibit in like
manner at Mayence, his town of residence. Thereupon Luther, in 1542,
published anonymously, but with the evident intention of being
recognised as its author, a 'New Paper from the Rhine,' which
announced to German Christendom a series of new, unheard-of relics,
collected by his Highness the Elector, such as a piece of the left
horn of Moses, three tongues of flame from his burning bush, &c.,
and lastly a whole drachm of his own true heart and half an ounce of
his own truthful tongue, which his Highness had added as a legacy by
his last will and testament. The Pope, said Luther, had promised to
anyone who should give a gulden in honour of the relics, a remission
for ten years of whatever sins he pleased. Contempt of this kind was
all that Luther found the exhibition deserved. Albert remained

About the same time the Elector John Frederick undertook a novel,
important, though a dangerous, and to Luther an objectionable step,
in connection with a bishopric then vacant. The Bishop of Naumburg
had died. The Chapter of the Cathedral, with whom lay the election
of his successor, were accustomed to guide their choice by the wish
of the Elector, as their territorial sovereign. They now elected,
without waiting to hear from John Frederick, who had seceded from
Catholicism, the distinguished Julius von Pflug. The Elector, on the
contrary, was anxious, as his privilege was hurt by this neglect, to
nominate a bishop of his own choice, and, moreover, a member of the
Augsburg Confession. His Chancellor, Bruck, protested earnestly
against this step, and Luther could not refrain from endorsing his
remonstrance. If the common herd of Papists, he said, had been
content to look on and see what had been done to priests and monks,
they and the Emperor would not care to see the same things done with
the Episcopate. The Elector thought this pusillanimous; he wished to
be bolder and more spirited than Luther. It was a pity only that his
pious zeal lacked the more circumspect judgment of his advisers, and
that the interests of his own authority were also concerned. He
declined even to accept the advice of the Wittenberg theologians,
who suggested that, at all events, the bishopric should be given to
the eminent prince of the Empire, George of Anhalt, but chose
Nicholas von Amsdorf--a man of better promise, not, indeed, solely
from his theological principles, but as being likely to be more
dependent on his territorial sovereign, though perhaps, as an
unmarried man and a member of the nobility, less repugnant than any
other Protestant theologian to the Catholics. On January 18, 1542,
the Elector brought him in solemn state to Naumburg before the
chapter there assembled.

Luther was glad, nevertheless, to see an Evangelical bishop. He took
care to introduce him in Evangelical manner. According to the
Catholic doctrine, as is well known, the Episcopate is transmitted
from the Apostles by the act of consecration, with the laying on of
hands and anointing, which can only be done by one bishop to
another, and only a bishop can then consecrate priests or the
clergy. The Reformers would easily have been able to continue this
so-called Apostolical succession through the Prussian bishops who
went over to them. But, as they never acknowledged the necessity of
this with regard to the inferior clergy, neither did they with
regard to the new bishop. Luther himself consecrated Amsdorf on
January 20, together with two Evangelical superintendents of the
neighbourhood, and the principal pastor and superintendent of the
Evangelical congregation at Naumburg, with prayer and the laying on
of hands, in the presence of the various orders and a multitude of
people from the town and district assembled in the Cathedral. The
congregation were first informed that an honest, upright bishop had
now been nominated for them by their sovereign and his estates in
concert with the clergy, and they were called upon to express their
own approval by an Amen, which was thereupon given loudly in
response. In this manner at least it was sought to comply with a
rule especially enjoined by Cyprian: namely, that a bishop should be
elected in an assembly of neighbouring bishops and with the consent
of his own congregation. Luther gave an account of the ceremony in a
tract, entitled 'Example of the way to consecrate a true Christian

[Illustration: FIG. 4e.-AMSDORF. (From an old woodcut.)]

Bruck's apprehensions meantime were only too well founded. The
complaints raised against this consecration weighed heavily with
even the more moderate opponents of the Reformation, and especially
with the Emperor. It was at the same time very evident that, as we
have elsewhere observed, the Elector, good Churchman as he was by
disposition, frequently displayed too little energy in regard to the
general relations and interests of his Church. Thus the arrangements
required for the bishopric remained neglected, and the new bishop
was furnished with a most inadequate maintenance. Luther complained
that the Electoral Court undertook great things, and then left them
sticking in the mire. Moreover, among many of the temporal lords,
even on the Protestant side, there were signs of spiteful jealousy
and suspicion against the honours and advantages enjoyed by their
theologians. Luther himself proceeded therefore with the utmost
possible caution. He even declined once a present of venison from
his friend Amsdorf, in order not to give occasion for calumny by the
'Centaurs at Court;' though, as he said, they themselves had
devoured everything, without any prickings of conscience. 'Let
them,' he wrote to Amsdorf, 'guzzle in God's name or in any other.'

Scarcely had the Elector's instalment of the bishop (1542) awakened
these bitter feelings of resentment, when a war threatened to break
out between the Elector and his cousin and fellow-Protestant, Duke
Maurice of Saxony, the successor of his late father Henry--a war
which would have imperilled more than anything else the position of
the Protestants in the Empire, and which stirred and disquieted
Luther to his inmost soul.

Between the ducal, or Albertine, and the Electoral, or Ernestine
lines of the princely house of Saxony, various rights were in
dispute, and among them, in particular, those of supreme
jurisdiction over the little town of Wurzen, belonging to the
bishopric of Meissen. When now the Bishop of Meissen refused to let
the subsidy, levied at Wurzen for the war against the Turks, be
forwarded to the Elector, the latter, in March 1542, quickly sent
thither his troops. Maurice at once called out his own troops
against him. Both continued to arm, and prepared to fight. Luther
thereupon, in a letter of April 7, intended for publication,
appealed to them and their Estates in terms of heartfelt Christian
fervour and perfect frankness. He reminded them of the Scriptural
admonition to keep peace; of the close relationship of the two
princes as the sons of two sisters; of their noble birth; of their
subjects, the burghers and peasants, who were so closely
intermingled by marriage that the war would be no war, but a mere
family brawl; furthermore, of the petty ground of their fierce
contention, just as if two drunken rustics were fighting in a tavern
about a glass of beer, or two idiots about a bit of bread; of the
shame and scandal for the Gospel; and of the triumph of their
enemies and the devil, who would rejoice to see this little spark
kindle into a conflagration. If either of the two, instead of using
force, would declare himself content with what was just and right,
whether it were his own Elector or the Duke, Luther for his part
would assist him with his prayers, and he might then trust himself
with confidence against aggression, and leave spear and musket to
the children of discontent. He told the others that they had
incurred the ban and the vengeance of God; nay, he advised all who
had to fight under such an unpeaceful prince to run from the field
as fast as they could.

The Landgrave Philip, who had hitherto, on account of his second
marriage, continued somewhat on strained terms with John Frederick,
brought about at this critical moment a peaceful understanding
between him and Maurice. The young duke, however, burned with an
ambition which longed to satisfy itself, even at the expense of his
cousin and other Protestant princes, and his power, moreover, was
far superior to the Elector's. Luther augured evil for the future.

The Reformation was now accepted in the territory also of Duke Henry
of Brunswick. The Landgrave Philip and John Frederick had taken the
field together against him, on account of his having attacked the
Evangelical town of Goslar and sought defiantly to execute against
it a sentence, in connection with ecclesiastical matters, which had
threatened it from the Imperial Chamber, but was suspended by the
Emperor. This war against 'Henry the Incendiary' Luther considered
just and necessary, the question being one of protecting the
oppressed. Wolfenbuttel, whose fortress the Duke boasted to be
impregnable, speedily succumbed on August 13, 1542, to the fate of
war and the boldness of Philip. Luther saw with triumph how the
fortress which, it was reputed, could stand a six years' siege, had
fallen in three days by the help of God. He hoped only that the
conquerors would be humble and give the glory of the exploit to God.
They then occupied the land, the prince of which fled, and proceeded
to establish the Evangelical Church, in accordance with the general
wish of the population.

Maurice of Saxony, who still strenuously adhered to the Evangelical
confession and to his rights as protector of the Church, not only
continued the reformation commenced in the Duchy by his father, but
succeeded in extending it peacefully to the bishopric of Merseburg.
The chapter there decided, in 1544, on his nomination, to elect to
the vacant see his young brother Augustus, who, not being himself an
ecclesiastic, delegated at once his episcopal functions to George of
Anhalt, Luther's pious-minded friend. Luther in the summer of the
following year consecrated him, in the same manner as Amsdorf,
together with several superintendents, and with Bugenhagen,
Cruciger, and Jonas.

Events far greater and more important were occurring in the
archbishopric of Cologne. Here an Archbishop at once and Elector,
the aged, worthy Hermann of Wied, had resolved, from his own free
conviction, to undertake a reformation on the basis of the Gospel.
In 1543 he invited Melancthon for this purpose from Wittenberg.
Melancthon's fellow-labourer was Butzer, who had the reputation of
always allowing himself to be carried too far by his zeal for
general unity in the Church, and at the same time, in regard to the
doctrine of the Sacrament, even as accepted by the Wittenberg
Concord, of preferring a more vague conception of his own. Luther,
however, promoted the undertaking with thanks to God, himself
furthered Melancthon's going, assured him of his entire confidence,
and learned from him with joy of the Archbishop's uprightness,
penetration, and constancy. In like manner, the Bishop of Munster
also began to attempt a reformation, in conformity with the wishes
of his Estates.

The Emperor at length, who since 1542 had been again at war with
France, and who needed therefore all the assistance that his German
Estates could give him, displayed at a new Diet at Spires, in 1544,
more gracious consideration to the Protestants than he had ever done
before. In the Imperial Recess he promised not only to endeavour to
bring about a general Council, to be assembled in Germany, but
undertook, since the meeting of such a Council was still uncertain,
to convoke another Diet, which should itself deal with the religion
in dispute. In the meantime, he and the various Estates of the
Empire would consider and prepare a scheme for Christian unity and a
general Christian reformation. The Archbishop Albert, now wholly
embittered against the Reformation, had issued a warning, after the
Diet of 1541, against any agreement to hold a Council on German
soil, as the Protestant poison would here have too powerful an
influence; in a national German Council he foresaw the threatening
danger of a schism. The resolutions passed at Spires brought down
severe reproaches from the Pope against the Emperor. What particularly
scandalised his Christian Holiness was that laymen--aye, laymen, who
supported the condemned heretics--were to sit as judges in matters
concerning the Church and the priesthood.

Protestantism, both in its extent and power, had now reached a point
of progress in the German Empire which seemed to offer a possibility
of its becoming the religion of the great majority of the nation,
and even of this majority being united. Charles V., nevertheless,
kept his eyes steadily fixed on his original goal--nay, he probably
felt himself nearer to it than ever. By his concessions he obtained
an army, which enabled him in the September of that year to conclude
a durable peace with King Francis, stipulating, as before, but
secretly, for mutual co-operation for the restoration of Catholic
unity in the Church. The next thing to be done was to persuade the
Pope at length to convene a Council, which should serve this object
in the sense intended by the Emperor, and then to enforce by its
authority the final subjection of the Protestants.

This possibility of a final triumph of Protestantism might have been
counted on with hope, if only that breath of the Spirit which had
once been stirred by the Reformer and had already responded to his
efforts had remained in full force and vigour in the hearts of the
German people; and if the new Spirit, thus awakened, had really
penetrated the masses, or, at least, the influential classes and
high personages who espoused the new faith, and had purified and
strengthened them to fight, to work, and to suffer. But Luther
complained from the very first, and more and more as time went on,
how sadly this Spirit was wanting to assist him in proclaiming the
Gospel and combating the anti-Christian system of Rome. Thus he
again complained, when hearing of what had happened at Cologne, at
Munster, and at Brunswick, that 'much evil and little good happens
to us;' he adapted to his own Church community the proverb, 'The
nearer Rome, the worse, the Christian,' as well as the words of the
prophets, lamenting the iniquity of Jerusalem, the holy city. In his
zeal he reproached the Evangelical congregations even more severely
than his Catholic and Popish opponents would ever have ventured to
reproach them, inasmuch as their own moral position, to say the
least, was not a whit better. But against the former, his own
brethren, Luther had to complain of base ingratitude to God for the
signal benefits He had vouchsafed them. Thus the peasantry, in
particular, he taxed again and again with their old selfish and
obstinate indifference and stupidity; the burghers with their luxury
and service of Mammon; and his fellow-countrymen in general with
their gluttony and their coarse and carnal appetites. It pained him
most to see these sins prevail among his nearest fellow-townsmen and
followers, his Wittenbergers; and he lashed out with all his force
against the students whom, as a class, he saw addicted to unchastity
and to 'swinish vices,' as he called them. The authorities, in his
opinion, were far too unmindful of their high appointment by God, of
which he had taken such pains to assure them. When Church discipline
came to be really introduced and made more stringent, he foresaw
quite well that it would only touch the peasants, and not reach the
upper classes. Among the great nobles at Court, especially at
Dresden, but also at that of the Elector, he found 'violent Centaurs
and greedy Harpies,' who preyed upon the Reformation and disgraced
it, and in whose midst it was difficult--nay, impossible--even for
an honest, right-minded ruler to govern as a true Christian. He had
already, and especially in these latter years, been in conflict with
lawyers, including some of well-recognised conscientiousness, such
as his colleague and friend Schurf, about many questions in which
they declared themselves unable to deviate from theories of the
canon or even the Roman law, which he considered unchristian and
immoral. He declared it, for example, to be an insult to the law of
God that they should insist so strongly on the obligation of vows of
marriage, made by young people in secret and against their parents'
will. So far from anticipating the triumph of the Evangelical
religion, while such was the condition of Germans and German
Protestants, he predicted with anxiety heavy punishment for his
country, and declared that God would assuredly cause the confessors
of the Gospel to be purged and sifted by calamity.

Just at that time, when a decisive moment was approaching for the
great ecclesiastical contest in Germany, Luther felt himself
constrained to rend asunder once more the bond of peace and mutual
toleration which had been established with such trouble between
himself and the Swiss Evangelicals. In doing so, he had seen no
reason either to change or conceal his old opinion about Zwingli.
The Swiss, on the other hand, offended by Luther's utterances, took,
in a manner, their honoured teacher and reformer under their
protection; from which Luther concluded that they still clung to all
his errors. A lurking distrust of Luther had never been wholly
dispelled among them. Luther heard, moreover, of corrupting
influences still exercised by the Sacramentarians outside
Switzerland. A letter reached him to that effect from some of his
adherents at Venice, whose complaints of the mischievous results of
the Sacramental controversy among their fellow-worshippers ascribed
that controversy to the continued influence of Zwinglianism. In
August 1543 he wrote to the Zurich printer Froschauer, who had
presented him with a translation of the Bible made by the preacher
of that town, saying briefly and frankly that he could have no
fellowship with them, and that he had no desire to share the blame
of their pernicious doctrine; he was sorry 'that they should have
laboured in vain, and should after all be lost.' Even in a scheme of
reformation which Butzer, with Melancthon, had prepared for Cologne,
he now discovered some suspicious articles about the Sacrament, to
which a criticism of Amsdorf had drawn his notice; they passed over,
it appeared, Luther's declaration, already agreed on, about the
substantial presence of Christ's Body in the Sacrament, or merely
'mumbled it,' as was Luther's expression. Nay, he heard it said that
even Wittenberg and himself would not adhere to his doctrine on this
point. Occasion, indeed, was given for this remark by the
circumstance that the ancient usage of the Elevation of the Host,
which, though connected with the Catholic idea of sacrifice, had
nevertheless been hitherto retained, though interpreted in another
sense, was now at length abolished at Wittenberg. After much anger
and discontent, Luther broke out, in September 1544, with the tract,
'Short Confession of the Holy Sacrament.' He had nothing to do with
any new refutation of false teachers--these, he said, had already
been frequently convicted by him as open blasphemers--but simply to
testify once more against the 'fanatics and enemies of the
Sacrament, Carlstadt, Zwingli, Oecolampadius, Schwenkfeld, and their
disciples,' and once and for all to renounce all fellowship with
these lost souls.

Alarming reports were spread about attacks being also meditated by
Luther against Butzer and Melancthon. Melancthon himself trembled;
he seriously feared he should be compelled to retire into exile. But
not a word did Luther say against Butzer, beyond calling him, as he
did now, a chatterbox. Against Melancthon we find nowhere, not even
in Luther's letters to his intimate friends, a single harsh or
menacing expression from his lips. He maintained his confidence in
him, even in respect to the later proceedings in the Church. When
urged to publish a collection of his Latin writings, he long refused
to do so, as he says in the preface to his edition of 1545, because
there were already such excellent works on Christian doctrine, such
as, in particular, the 'Loci Communes' of Melancthon, which its
author had recently revised. It must be regretted that Melancthon,
at moments like these, which must have caused him pain, did not open
his heart with more freedom and courage to the friend whose heart
still beat with such warm and unchanging affection for himself.

Luther never, till the day of his death, bestowed much care or
calculation on the immediate consequences of his acts and of the
work to which he felt himself called and urged by God, and which
certainly brought out in strong relief the individuality of his
nature. While committing, as he did, the cause to God alone, he kept
steadily in view the ultimate goal to which God was surely guiding
it--nay, that goal was immediately before his eyes. His confident
belief in the near approach of the last day, when the Lord would
solve all these earthly doubts and difficulties, and manifest
Himself in the perfect glory and bliss of His kingdom, remained in
him unaltered from the beginning of his struggle to the end of his
labours. We recognise in this belief the intensity of his own
longings, wrestlings, and strivings for this end, as also the
sincerity of his own conviction, little as the days of which we are
now speaking, so busy with events of every kind, corresponded with
the time ordained by God. Luther stretched out his view and
aspirations beyond this world, all the time that he was teaching
Christians again how to honour the world in the moral duties
assigned to them, and to enjoy its blessings and benefits with
thankfulness to God. 'No man knoweth the day or the hour'--of this
he constantly reminded them, and warned them against idle
speculations. But his hopes, nevertheless, he still rested on the
nearness of the end. These hopes he expressed with peculiar
assurance in a small Latin tract, written during these later years
of his life, in which he treats of Biblical chronology, and further
of the epochal years in the history of the world. In referring, for
example, to the wide-spread theory, originating with the Jews, of a
great Week of six thousand years, to be followed by the final and
everlasting Day of Rest, he sought with much ingenuity of reasoning
to prove that of those six thousand years probably only half would
be accomplished. Since now, according to his chronology, the year
1,540 was the 5,500th year of the world, the end was bound to be at
hand--nay, was already overdue--when his little book appeared in
1541. Yet, whatever were his views on this point, he never, like so
many others, allowed himself to be drawn by such hopes and desires
into illusions dangerous in practice.

This year passed by without any further or greater literary labour
on his part.

In addition to this continued polemic against the popedom and false
teachers, we must not omit to mention some characteristic
controversial writings, provoked from him by his indignation at the
attacks on Christianity by Jews, nay, by their seduction of many
Christians. As early as 1538, a strange rumour of a 'Jewish rabble'
in Moravia--a country rich in sectaries--having induced Christians
to accept the Mosaic law, had called forth from him a public 'Letter
against the Sabbathers.' He launched out with vehemence against them
in 1543 in some further tracts, inveighing mainly against the dirty
insults and savage blasphemies which the brazen-faced Jews dared to
employ towards Christ and Christians, and also against the usurers,
in whose toils the Christians were ensnared. He declared even that
their synagogues, the scene of their blasphemies and calumnies,
should be burnt, and they themselves compelled to take to honest
handicraft, or be hunted from the country.

In the grand and beautiful labour of his life, the German
translation of the Bible, he was busily occupied until his death.
After the second chief edition had appeared, in 1541, he endeavoured
to improve, at least in some points, those which followed in 1543
and 1545. He meditated also revising and further improving the most
important of his sermons, which have been left to posterity. After
having undertaken this task in 1540 with a number of them, he caused
three years later the 'Summer-Postills,' which Roth had previously
edited and brought out, to be published in a new form by his
colleague Cruciger. This work was now completed by the addition of
his sermons on the Epistles.

We have already seen how earnestly, even before the great end should
come, Luther longed for his eternal rest, and for release from the
struggles and labours of his earthly life, and the burden of his
bodily suffering. He spoke of his death with calmness but with deep
earnestness, and, indeed, with a touch of humour which pained those
who heard him speak, or read his writings. Thus, when in March 1544
the Elector's wife, Sybil, asked him 'anxiously and diligently'
about his own health and that of his wife and children, he answered:
'Thank God, we are well, and better than we deserve of God. But no
wonder, if I am sometimes shaky in the head. Old age is creeping on
me, which in itself is cold and unsightly, and I am ill and weak.
The pitcher goes to the well until it breaks. I have lived long
enough; God grant me a happy end, that this useless body may reach
His people beneath the earth, and go to feed the worms. Consider
that I have seen the best that I shall ever see on earth. For it
looks as if evil times were coming. God help his own. Amen.'



Frequently as Luther complained of his old age and ever-increasing
weakness, lassitude, and uselessness, his writings and letters give
evidence not only of an indomitable power and unquenchable ardour,
but also, and often enough, of those cheerful, merry moods, which
rose superior to all his sufferings, disappointments, and anger. He
himself declared that his many enemies, especially the sectaries,
who were always attacking him, always made him young again. The true
source of his strength he found in his Lord and Saviour, Whose
strength is made perfect in weakness, and to Whom he clung with a
firm and tranquil faith. To this, indeed, we must add one
particularly favourable influence, in regard to his life and
calling, which had been awakened since his marriage. In speaking of
his family, his wife, and his children, he is always full of thanks
to God; his heart swells with emotion, and he breathes amid his
heated labours and struggles a fresh and bracing air. Just as,
during the Diet of Augsburg, he had pointed out encouragingly to the
Elector the happy Paradise which God had allowed to bloom for him in
his little boys and girls, so he himself was permitted to experience
and enjoy this Paradise at home. In his domestic no less than in his
public life he saw a vocation marked out for him by God; not,
indeed, as if he, the Reformer, had here any peculiar path of life,
or exceptional duties to perform, but so that in that holy estate
ordained for all men, however despised by arrogant monks and
priests, and dishonoured by the sensual, he felt himself called on
to serve God, as was the duty of all men and all Christians alike,
and to enjoy the blessings which God had given him.

[Illustration: Fig. 47.--LUTHER. (From a portrait by Cranach, in his
Album, at Berlin.)]

Five children were now growing up. The eldest, John, or Hanschen
(Jack), was followed, during the troublous days of 1527, by his
first little daughter, Elizabeth. Eight months after, as he told a
friend, she already said good-bye to him, to go to Christ, through
death to life; and he was forced to marvel how sick at heart, nay,
almost womanish, he felt at her departure. In May 1529 he was
comforted to some extent by the birth of a little Magdalene or
Lenchen (Lena). Then followed the boys: Martin in 1531, and Paul
in 1533. The former was born only a few days--if not the very
day--before the feast of St. Martin, and the birthday of his father;
hence he received the same name. His son Paul he named in memory of
the great Apostle, to whom he owed so much. At his baptism he
expressed the hope that 'perhaps the Lord God might train up in him
a new enemy of the Pope or the Turks.' The youngest child was a
little daughter, Margaret, who was born in 1534.

His family included also an aunt of his wife, Magdalene von Bora.
She had been formerly a nun in the same cloister as her niece, where
she had filled the post of head-nurse. She lived among Luther's
children like a beloved grandmother. It was she whom Luther meant by
the 'Aunt Lena,' of whom he wrote to his little Hans in 1530 saying,
'Give her a kiss from me;' and when in 1537 he was able to travel
homewards from Schmalkald, where he had been in such imminent peril
of death, he wrote to his wife: 'Let the dear little children,
together with Aunt Lena, thank their true Father in Heaven.' She
died, probably, shortly afterwards. Luther comforted her with the
words: 'You will not die, but sleep away as in a cradle, and when
the morning dawns, you will rise and live for ever.'

[Illustration: Fig. 48.--WITTENBERG. (From an old engraving.)]

At this time Luther had two orphan nieces living with him, Lene and
Else Kaufmann of Mansfeld, sisters of Cyriac, whom we found with him
at Coburg, and also a young relative, of whom we know nothing
further than that her name was Anna. Lene was betrothed in 1538 to
the worthy treasurer of the University of Wittenberg, Ambrosius
Berndt, and Luther gave the wedding. He used also from time to time
to have some young student nephews at his house.

[Illustration: Fig. 49.--THE "_LUTHER-HOUSE_" (previously the
Convent), before its recent restoration.]

When his boys grew up and the time came for them to learn, he had a
resident tutor for them. For his own assistance he engaged a young
man as amanuensis; thus we find Veit Dietrich with him at Coburg in
this capacity. We hear afterwards of a young pupil--indeed, of two
or more--who lived with Dietrich at Luther's house. This seems,
however, to have somewhat overtaxed his wife; in the autumn of 1534
Dietrich left his house on that account.

[Illustration: Fig. 50.--LUTHER'S ROOM.]

Luther, like other professors, used to take several students for
payment to his table. Among these there were men of riper years who
were eager, nevertheless, to share in the studies at Wittenberg,
and, above all things, to make his acquaintance. Besides this, his
house was open to a number of guests, theologians and others, of
high or low degree, who called on him in passing through the town.

The dwelling-place of this large and growing household was a portion
of the former Convent. The Elector John Frederick had assigned it to
Luther for his own. The house, which had not been completed when the
Reformation began, was still unfinished when Luther went there, and
it needed many improvements. The present richer architectural
features of the building date from a very recent restoration. It
stood against the town wall, and was protected by the Elbe. His own
small study looked out in this direction, and formed a gable above
the water of the moat; though, as he complained in 1530, it was
threatened with alterations for military purposes, and perhaps
during his lifetime fell a prey to them. Only one of the larger
rooms of the house, situated in front, has been preserved in the
recollection of posterity, and is now called Luther's room. It was
probably the chief sitting-room of the family.

The young couple possessed at first a very slender maintenance.
Neither of them had any private means. When, in 1527, Luther was
lying apparently on his deathbed, he had nothing to leave his wife
but the cups which had been given him as presents, and it happened
that he was obliged to pawn even these to find money for their
immediate wants.

By degrees, however, his income and property increased. His salary
as professor at the University (he received no honorarium for his
lectures) was raised on his marriage by the Elector John from 100 to
200 gulden, and John Frederick added 100 gulden more--the value of a
gulden at that time being equal to about 16 marks of the present
German money. He received, also, regular payments in kind. Now and
then he had a special present from the Elector, such as a fine piece
of cloth, a cask of wine, or some venison, with greetings from his
Highness. In 1536 John Frederick sent him two casks of wine, saying
that it was that year's growth of his vineyards, and that Luther
would find how good it was when he tasted it. Luther's share of his
father's property was 250 gulden, which he was to be paid later in
small instalments by his brother James, who was heir to the real
estate. In 1539 Bugenhagen brought him from Denmark an offering of
100 gulden, and two years afterwards the Danish king gave him and
his children an allowance of 50 gulden a year. Luther never troubled
himself much about his expenses, and gave with generous liberality
what he earned. His wife kept things together for the household,
managed it with business-like energy and talent, and tried to add to
their income.

They enlarged their garden by buying some more strips adjoining it,
as well as a field. In 1540 Luther purchased for 610 gulden from a
brother of his wife, who was in needy circumstances, the small farm
of Zulsdorf or Zulsdorf, between Leipzig and Borna--it must not be
confounded with another village of the same name. The market at
Wittenberg being usually very poorly furnished, his wife sought to
supply their domestic wants by her own economy. She planted the
garden with all sorts of trees, among these even mulberry-trees and
fig-trees, and she cultivated also hops; and there was a small
fish-pond. This little property she loved to manage and superintend
in person. At Wittenberg she brewed, as was then the custom, their
own beer, the Convent being privileged in that respect. We hear of
her keeping a number of pigs, and arranging for their sale. Luther
incidentally makes mention of a coachman among his other servants.
Finally, in 1541, Luther purchased a small house near his residence
at the Convent, fearing that he would have to give up the latter
entirely for the work of fortification, and thus be prevented from
leaving it to his wife. He was only obliged in ten years to pay off
a portion of the purchase money.

In this happy married life and home the great Reformer found his
peace and refreshment; in it he found his vocation as a man, a
husband, and a father. Speaking from his own experience he said:
'Next to God's Word, the world has no more precious treasure than
holy matrimony. God's best gift is a pious, cheerful, God-fearing,
home-keeping wife, with whom you may live peacefully, to whom you
can entrust your goods, and body, and life.' He speaks of the
married state, moreover, as a life which, if rightly led, is full to
overflowing of good works. He knows, on the other hand, of many
'stubborn and strange couples, who neither care for their children,
nor love each other from their hearts.' Such people, he said, were
not human beings; they made their homes a hell.

In his language about this life and his own conduct in it, there is
no trace of sentimentality, exaggerated emotion, or artificial
idealism. It is a strong, sturdy, and, as many have thought, a
somewhat rough genuineness of nature, but at the same time full of
tenderness, purity, and fervour; and with it is combined that
heartfelt and loyal devotion to his Heavenly Creator and Lord, and
to His Will and His commands, which marked the character of Luther
to the last.

With regard to his children, Luther had resolved from the moment of
their birth to consecrate them to God, and wean them from a wicked,
corrupt, and accursed world. In several of his letters he entreats
his friends with great earnestness to stand godfather to one of his
children, and to help the poor little heathen to become a Christian,
and pass from the death of sin to a holy and blessed regeneration.
In making this request of a young Bohemian nobleman, then staying in
his house, on behalf of his son Martin, he grew so earnest that, to
the surprise of all present, his voice trembled; this, he said, was
caused by the Holy Spirit of God, for the cause he was pleading was
God's, and it demanded reverence. And yet, in the simple, natural,
innocent, and happy ways of children he recognised the precious
handiwork of God and His protecting Hand. He loved to watch the
games and pleasures of his little ones; all they did was so
spontaneous and so natural. Children, he said, believe so simply and
undoubtedly that God is in Heaven and is their God and their dear
Father, and that there is everlasting life. On hearing one day one
of his children prattling about this life and of the great joy in
Heaven with eating, and dancing, and so forth, he said, 'Their life
is the most blessed and the best; they have none but pure thoughts
and happy imaginations.' At the sight of his little children seated
round the table, he called to mind the exhortation of Jesus, that we
must 'become as little children;' and added, 'Ah! dear God! Thou
hast done clumsily in exalting children--such poor little
simpletons--so high. Is it just and right that Thou shouldst reject
the wise, and receive the foolish? But God our Lord has purer
thoughts than we have; He must, therefore, refine us, as said the
fanatics; He must hew great boughs and chips from us, before He
makes such children and little simpletons of us.'

In what a childlike spirit Luther understood to talk to his children
is shown by his letter from Coburg to his little Hans, then fourteen
years old. He himself taught them to pray, to sing, and to repeat
the Catechism. Of his little daughter Margaret he could tell one of
her godfathers how she had learnt to sing hymns when only four years
old. His hymn 'From the highest Heaven I come,' the freshest, most
joyful, most childlike song that has ever been heard from children's
lips at Christmas, he composed as a father who celebrated that
joyous festival with his own children. It appeared first in the year
1535. He might well, after the manner of old Festival plays, have
let an angel step in among them, who in the opening verses should
bring them the good tidings in the Gospel, to which they should
answer with 'Therefore let us all be joyful.' The words 'Therefore I
am always joyful, Free to dance and free to sing,' call to mind an
old custom of accompanying the Christmas Hymn with a dance.

Luther warned against all outbursts of passion and undue severity
towards children, and carefully guarded himself against such errors,
remembering the bitter experiences of his own childhood in that
respect. But he could be angry and strict enough when occasion
required; he used to say he would rather have a dead son than a bad

There was no really good school at Wittenberg for his boys, and
Luther himself could not devote as much time to them as they
required. He took a resident tutor for them, a young theologian. His
boy John nevertheless gave some trouble with his teaching and
bringing up. His father, contrary to his own wishes, seems to have
been too weak, and his mother's fondness for her first-born seems to
have somewhat spoilt him. Luther gave the boy over afterwards to his
friend Mark Crodel, the Rector of the school at Torgau, whom he held
in high respect as a grammarian, and as a pedagogue of grave and
strict morals.

[Illustration: Fig. 51.--LUTHER'S DAUGHTER 'LENE.' (From Cranach's

His favourite child was little Lena, a pious, gentle, affectionate
little girl, and devoted to him with her whole heart. A charming
picture of her remains, by Cranach, a friend of the family. But she
died in the bloom of early youth, on September 20, 1542, after a
long and severe illness. The grief he had felt at the loss of his
daughter Elizabeth was now renewed and intensified. When she was
lying on her sick-bed, he said, 'I love her very much indeed; but,
dear God, if it is Thy will to take her hence, I would gladly she
were with Thee.' To Magdalene herself he said, 'Lena, dear, my
little daughter, thou wouldst love to remain here with thy father;
art thou willing to go to that other Father?' 'Yes, dear father,'
she answered; 'just as God wills.' And when she was dying, he fell
on his knees beside her bed, wept bitterly, and prayed for her
redemption, and she fell asleep in his arms. As she lay in her
coffin, he looked at her and exclaimed, 'Ah! my darling Lena, thou
wilt rise again and shine like a star--yea, as the sun;' and added,
'I am happy in the spirit, but in the flesh I am very sorrowful. The
flesh will not be subdued: parting troubles one above measure; it is
a wonderful thing to think that she is assuredly in peace, and that
all is well with her, and yet to be so sad.' To the mourners he
said, 'I have sent a saint to Heaven: could mine be such a death as
hers, I would welcome such a death this moment.' He expressed the
same sorrow, and the same exultation in his letters to his friends.
To Jonas he wrote: 'You will have heard that my dearest daughter
Magdalene is born again in the everlasting kingdom of Christ.
Although I and my wife ought only to thank God with joy for her
happy departure, whereby she has escaped the power of the world, the
flesh, the Turks and the devil, yet so strong is natural love that
we cannot bear it without sobs and sighs from the heart, without a
bitter sense of death in ourselves. So deeply printed on our hearts
are her ways, her words, her gestures, whether alive or dying, that
even Christ's death cannot drive away this agony.' His little Hans,
whom his sick sister longed to see once more, he had sent for from
Torgau a fortnight before she died: he wrote for that purpose to
Crodel, saying 'I would not have my conscience reproach me
afterwards for having neglected anything.' But when several weeks
later, about Christmas-time, under the influence of grief and the
tender words which his mother had spoken to him, a desire came over
the boy to leave Torgau and live at home, his father exhorted him to
conquer his sorrow like a man, not to increase by his own the grief
of his mother, and to obey God, who had appointed him, through his
parents' direction, to live at Torgau.

The care of the children and of the whole household fell to the
share of Frau Luther, and her husband could trust her with it in
perfect confidence. She was a woman of strong, ruling, practical
nature, who enjoyed hard work and plenty of it. She served her
husband at all times, after her own manner, with faithful and
affectionate devotion. He must often have felt grateful, amidst his
physical and mental sufferings, and the violent storms and
temptations that vexed his soul, that a helpmate of such a sound
constitution, such strong nerves, and such a clever, sensible mind
should have fallen to his share.

Luther lived with her in thankful love and harmony; nor have even the
calumnies of malicious enemies been able to cast a shadow of doubt
upon the perfect concord of his married life. In his 'Table Talk' he
says of her: 'I am, thank God, very well, for I have a pious, faithful
wife, on whom a man may safely rest his heart.' And again he said once
to her, 'Katie, you have a pious husband, who loves you; you are an
empress.' In words now grave, now humorous, he told her of his tender
love for her; and how trustful and open-hearted were their relations
to each other we gather from the way in which he mocks and occasionally
teases her for her little weaknesses. In later life and in his last
letters he calls her his 'heartily beloved housewife' and his 'darling,'
and he often signs himself 'your love' and 'your old love,' and again
'your dear lord.' Still he said frankly and quietly that his original
suspicion that Catharine was proud was well-founded. In some of his
letters he speaks of her as his 'lord Katie' and his 'gracious wife,'
and of himself as her 'willing servant.' Once he declared that if he
had to marry again, he would carve an obedient wife out of stone, as he
despaired of finding obedience in wives. He spoke also of the
talkativeness of his Katie. Referring to her loving but over-anxious
care for him on his last journey, he called her a holy, careful
woman. From her thrift and energy she gained from him the nicknames
of Lady Zulsdorf, and Lady of the Pigmarket; thus one of his last
letters is addressed to 'my heartily beloved housewife, Catharine,
Lady Luther, Lady Doctor, Lady Zulsdorf, Lady of the Pigmarket, and
whatever else she may be.'

The 'careful' Catharine was not permitted to check the kind
liberality of her husband. His friend Mathesius tells us, of their
early married life, 'A poor man made him a pitiful tale of distress,
and having no cash with him, Luther came to his wife--she being then
confined--for the god-parents' money, and brought it to the poor
man, saying, 'God is rich, He will supply what is wanted.'
Afterwards, however, he grew more careful, seeing how often he was
imposed upon. 'Rogues,' he said, 'have sharpened my wits.' An
example of how particular, nay anxious, he was never even to let it
seem that he sought for presents or other profit for himself, was
given in his letter to Amsdorf, declining a gift of venison. He
wrote once to the Elector John, who had sent him an offering: 'I
have unfortunately more, especially from your Highness, than I can
conscientiously keep. As a preacher, it is not fitting for me to
enjoy a superfluity, nor do I covet it; ... therefore I beseech your
Highness to wait until I ask of you.' In 1539, when Bugenhagen
brought to him the hundred gulden from the King of Denmark, he
wished to give him half of it, for the service Bugenhagen had
rendered him during his absence. For his office of preacher in the
town church he never received any payment; the town from time to
time made him a present of wine from the council-cellar, and lime
and stones for building his house. For his writings he received
nothing from the publishers. Against over-anxious cares and
troubles, and setting her heart too much on worldly possessions, he
earnestly cautioned his wife, and insisted that amid the numerous
household matters she should not neglect to read the Bible. Once in
1535 he promised her fifty gulden if she would read the Bible
through, whereupon, as he told a friend, it became a 'very serious
matter to her.'

Luther frequently assisted his wife in her household. He was very
fond of gardening and agriculture, and we have seen how he sent
commissions to friends for stocking his garden at Wittenberg. On one
occasion, when going to fish with his wife in their little pond, he
noticed with joy how she took more pleasure in her few fish than
many a nobleman did in his great lakes with many hundred draughts of
fishes. In 1539 he had to order a chest at Torgau for his 'lord
Katie,' for their store of house-linen. Of the handsome and
elaborate way in which Catharine thought of ornamenting the exterior
of their house--the home of her illustrious husband--a fine specimen
remains in the door of the Luther-haus at Wittenberg. Luther wrote,
by her wish, to a friend at Pirna in 1539, pastor Lauterbach, about
a 'carved house-door,' for the width of which she sent the
measurement. The door, carved in sandstone, and bearing the date
1540, has on one side Luther's bust and on the other his crest, and
below are two small seats, built there according to the custom of
the times.

[Illustration: Fig. 52.--Door of Luther's House at Wittenberg.]

In view of his approaching death, Luther wished, in 1542, to provide
for his devoted wife by a will. He left her for her lifetime and
absolute property the little farm of Zulsdorf, the small house at
Wittenberg (already mentioned), and his goblets and other treasures,
such as rings, chains, &c, which he valued at about 1,000 gulden. In
doing so, he thanked her for having been to him a 'pious, true wife
at all times, full of loving, tender care towards him, and for
having borne to him and trained, by God's blessing, five children
surviving.' And he wished to provide therewith that she 'must not
receive from the children, but the children from her; that they must
honour and obey her, as God hath commanded.' He further bade her pay
off the debt which was still owing (probably for the house),
amounting to about 450 gulden, because, with the exception of his
few treasures, he had no money to leave her. In making this
provision he no doubt considered that, according to the law, the
inheritance of a married woman who had formerly been a nun might be
disputed, together with the legitimacy of her marriage. Luther did
not wish to bind himself in his will to legal forms. He besought the
Elector graciously to protect his bequest, and concluded his will
with these proud words:

'Finally, seeing I do not use legal forms, for which I have my own
reasons, I desire all men to take these words as mine--a man known
openly in heaven, on earth, and in hell also, who has enough
reputation or authority to be trusted and believed better than any
notary. To me, a poor, unworthy, miserable sinner, God, the Father
of all mercy, has entrusted the Gospel of His dear Son, and has made
me true and faithful therein, and has so preserved and found me
hitherto, that through me many in this world have received the
Gospel, and hold me as a teacher of the truth, despite of the Pope's
ban, of emperor, king, princes, priests, and all the wrath of the
devil. Let them believe me also in this small matter, especially as
this is my hand, not altogether unknown. In hope that it will be
enough for men to say and prove that this is the earnest, deliberate
meaning of Dr. Martin Luther, God's notary and witness in his
Gospel, confirmed by his own hand and seal.'

The will is dated the day of the Epiphany, January 6, 1542, and was
witnessed by Melancthon, Cruciger, and Bugenhagen, whose
attestations and signatures appear below. After Luther's death, John
Frederick immediately ratified it.

As regards his servants, Luther was particularly careful that they
should have nothing to complain of against him, for the devil, he
said, had a sharp eye upon him, to be able to cast a slur upon his
teaching. To those who served him faithfully, he was ever gentle,
grateful, and even indulgent. There was a certain Wolfgang, or Wolf
Sieberger, whom he had taken as early as 1517 into his service at
the convent--an honest but weak man, who knew of no other means of
livelihood. Him Luther retained in his service throughout his life,
and tried to make some provision for his future. He once sought, as
we have seen, to practise turning with him, but of this nothing
further is related. He loved, too, to joke with him in his own
hearty manner. When, in 1534, Wolf built a fowling-floor or place
for catching birds, he reprimanded him for it in a written
indictment, making the 'good, honourable' birds themselves lodge a
complaint against him. They pray Luther to prevent his servant, or
at least to insist upon Wolf (who was a sleepy fellow), strewing
grain for them in the evening, and then not rising before eight
o'clock in the morning; else, they would pray to God to make him
catch in the day-time frogs and snails in their stead, and let fleas
and other insects crawl over him at night; for why should not Wolf
rather employ his wrath and vindictiveness against the sparrows,
daws, mice, and such like? When a servant named Rischmann parted
from him, in 1532, after several years of hard work, Luther sent
word to his wife from Torgau, where he was then staying with the
Elector, to dismiss him 'honourably,' and with a suitable present.
'Think,' he wrote, 'how often we have given to bad men, when all has
been lost; so be liberal, and do not let such a good, fellow
want..... Do not fail; for a goblet is there. Think from whom you
got it. God will give us another, I know.'

His guests valued highly his company and conversation, especially
those men who came from far and near to visit him. Several of them
have recorded sayings from his lips on these occasions. Luther's
'Table Talk,' which we possess now in print, is founded for the most
part on records given by Viet Dietrich and Lauterbach just
mentioned, who before his call to Pirna in 1539, when deacon at
Wittenberg, was one of Luther's closest friends and his daily guest.
These memorials, however, have been elaborated and recast many
times, by a strange hand, in an arbitrary and unfortunate manner. A
publication of the original text, from which recently a diary of
Lauterbach, of the year 1538, has already appeared, may now be
looked for. Last, but not least, we have to mention John Mathesius,
who, after having been a student at Wittenberg in 1529, and then
rector of the school at Joachimsthal, returned to study at
Wittenberg from 1540 to 1542, and obtained the honour which he
sought for, of being a guest at Luther's table. Deeply impressed as
he was by his intercourse with the Reformer, he described his
impressions to his congregation at Joachimsthal, when afterwards
their pastor, in addresses from the pulpit, which were printed, and
gave them a sketch of Luther's life, with numerous anecdotes about
him. He thus became Luther's first biographer, and, from his
personal intimacy with his friend, and his own true-heartedness,
fervour, and genuineness of nature, he must ever remain endeared to
the followers and admirers of the great Reformer.

[Illustration: Fig.53.--Mathesius. (From an old woodcut.)]

Mathesius tells us, indeed, how Luther used often to sit at table
wrapt in deep and anxious thought, and would sometimes keep a
cloister-like silence throughout the meal. At times even he would
work between the courses, or at meals or immediately after, dictate
sermons to friends who had to preach, but who wanted practice in the
art. But when once conversation was opened, it flowed with ease and
freedom, and, as Mathesius says, even merrily. The friends used to
call Luther's speeches their 'table-spice.' His topics varied
according to circumstances and the occasion--things spiritual and
temporal; questions of faith and conduct; the works of God and the
deeds of man; events past and present; hints and short practical
suggestions for ecclesiastical life and office; and apophthegms of
worldly wisdom; all enriched with proverbs of every kind and German
rhymes, which Luther had a great aptitude in composing. Jocular
moods were mingled with deep gravity and even indignation. But in
all he said, as in all he did, he was guided constantly by the
loftiest principles, by the highest considerations of morality and
religious truth, and that in the simple and straightforward manner
which was his nature, utterly free from affectation or artificial

In these his discourses, it is true, as in his writings and letters,
nay, sometimes in his addresses from the pulpit, expressions and
remarks fell occasionally from his lips which sound to modern ears
extremely coarse. His was a frank, rugged nature, with nothing
slippery, nothing secretly impure about it. His friends and guests
spoke of the 'chaste lips' of Luther: 'He was,' says Mathesius, 'a
foe to unchastity and loose talk. As long as I have been with him I
have never heard a shameful word fall from his lips.' It was a great
contrast to the coarse indecencies which he denounced with such
fierce indignation in the monks, his former brethren, as also to the
more subtle indelicacies which were practised in those days by so
many elegant Humanists of modern culture, both ecclesiastics and

Luther's conversation was also remarkable for its freedom from any
spiteful or frivolous gossip, of which even at Wittenberg there was
then no lack. Of such scandal-mongers, who sought to pry out evil in
their neighbours, Luther used frequently to say, 'They are regular
pigs, who care nothing about the roses and violets in the garden,
but only stick their snouts into the dirt.'

After dinner there was usually music with the guests and children;
sacred and secular songs were sung, together with German and
sometimes old Latin hymns.

Luther also had a bowling-alley made for his young friends, where
they would disport themselves with running and jumping. He liked to
throw the first ball himself, and was heartily laughed at when he
missed the mark. He would turn then to the young folk, and remind
them in his pleasant way that many a one who thought he would do
better, and knock down all the pins at once, would very likely miss
them all, as they would often have to find in future their life and

In his own personal relations towards God, Luther followed
persistently the road which he saw revealed by Christ, and which he
pointed out to others. He never lost the consciousness of his own
unworthiness, and therefore unholiness. In this consciousness he
sought refuge, with simple and childlike faith, in God's love and
mercy, which thus assured him of forgiveness and salvation, of
victory over the world and the devil, and of the freedom wherewith a
child of God may use the things of this world. He clung fondly to
simple, childlike forms of faith, and to common rites and
ordinances. Every morning he used to repeat with his children the
Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and a psalm. 'I do
this,' he says in one of his sermons, 'in order to keep up the
habit, and not let the mildew grow upon me.' He took part faithfully
in the church services; he who was wont to pray so unceasingly and
fervently in his own chamber declared that praying in company with
others soothed him far more than private prayer at home.

Lofty, nay proud as was the self-assurance he expressed in his
mission, and though possessed, as Mathesius says, of all the heart
and courage of a true man, yet he was personally of a very plain and
unasserting manner: Mathesius calls him the most humble of men,
always willing to follow good advice from others. Like a brother he
dealt with the lowliest of his brethren, while mixing at the same
time with the highest in the land with the most perfect and
unconscious simplicity. Troubled souls, who complained to him how
hard they found it to possess the faith he preached, he comforted
with the assurance that it was no easier matter for himself, and
that he had to pray God daily to increase his faith. His saying, 'A
great doctor must always remain a pupil,' was meant especially for
himself. The modesty which made him willing, even in the early days
of his reforming labours, to yield the first place to his younger
friend Melancthon, he displayed to the end, as we have seen in
reference to Melancthon's principal work, the 'Loci Communes.'
Whenever he was asked for a really good book for theological studies
and the pure exposition of the gospel, he named the Bible first and
then Melancthon's book. During the Diet at Augsburg we heard how
highly he esteemed the words even of a Brenz, in comparison with his
own. Touching Melancthon, we must add an earlier public utterance of
Luther's, dating from 1529: 'I must root out,' he said, 'the trunks
and stems.... I am the rough woodman who has to make a path, but
Philip goes quietly and peacefully along it, builds and plants, sows
and waters at his pleasure.' He said nothing of how much others
depended on his own power and independence of mind, not only as
regarded the task of making the path, but in the whole business of
planting and working, and how Melancthon only stamped the gold which
Luther had dug up and melted in the furnace. The later years of his
life were embittered by the conviction, gradually forced upon him,
that his former strength and energy had deserted him. His remarks on
this subject seem often exaggerated, but they were certainly meant
in all seriousness: he felt as he did, because the urgent need of
completing his task remained so vividly impressed upon his mind. He
wished and hoped that God would suffer him--the now useless
instrument of His Word--to stand at least behind the doors of His
kingdom. He wrote to Myconius, when the latter was dangerously ill,
saying that his friend must really survive him: 'I beg this; I will
it, and let my will be done, for it seeks not my own pleasure, but
the glory of God.'

With childlike joy he recognised God's gifts in nature, in garden
and field, plants and cattle. This joy finds constant expression in
his 'Table Talk,' and even in his sermons. It was chiefly awakened
by the beauties of spring. With sorrow he declares it to be the
well-earned penalty of his past sins that in his old age he should
not be able, as he might do and had need of doing, on account of the
burdens of business, to enjoy the gardens, the bud and bloom of tree
and flower, and the song of the birds. 'We should be so happy in
such a Paradise, if only there were no sin and death.' But he looks
beyond this to another and a heavenly world, where all would be
still more beautiful, and where an everlasting spring would reign
and abide.

Among all the gifts which God has bestowed upon us for our use and
enjoyment, music was to him the most precious; he even assigned to
it the highest honour next to theology. He himself had considerable
talent for the art, and not only played the lute, and sang
melodiously with his seemingly weak but penetrating voice, but was
able even to compose. He valued music particularly as the means of
driving away the devil and his temptations, as well as for its
softening and refining influence. 'The heart,' he said, 'grows
satisfied, refreshed, and strengthened by music.' He noticed, as a
wonder wrought by God, how the air was able to give forth, by a
slight movement of the tongue and throat, guided by the mind, such
sweet and powerful sounds; and what an infinite variety there was of
voice and language among the many thousand birds, and still more so
among men. Luther's best and most valued means of natural
refreshment, and the recreation of his mind and body, remained
always his intercourse and friendship with others--with wife and
children, with his friends and neighbours. Such was his own
experience, and so he would advise the sorrowful who sought his
counsel in like manner to come out of their solitude. He saw in this
intercourse also an ordinance of Divine wisdom and love. A friendly
talk and a good merry song he often declared to be the best weapon
against evil and sorrowful thoughts.

About his own bodily care and enjoyment, even with all his
conviction of Christian liberty and his hostility to monkish
scruples and sanctity, he cared very little. He was content with
simple fare, and he would forget to eat and drink for days amid the
press of work. His friends wondered how such a portly frame could be
consistent with such a very meagre diet, and not one of his hostile
contemporaries has ever been able to allege against him that he had
belied by his own conduct the zeal with which he inveighed against
the immoderate eating and drinking of his fellow-Germans; but he
preserved his Christian liberty in this matter. In the evenings he
would say to his pupils at the supper-table, 'You young fellows, you
must drink the Elector's health and mine, the old man's, in a
bumper. We must look for our pillows and bolsters in the tankard.'
And in his lively and merry entertainments with his friends the 'cup
that cheers' was always there. He could even call for a toast when
he heard bad news, for next to a fervent Lord's Prayer and a good
heart, there was no better antidote, he used to say, to care.

His physical sufferings were chiefly confined to the pains in his
head, which never wholly left him, and which increased from time to
time, with fresh attacks of giddiness and fainting. The morning was
always his worst time. His old enemy, moreover--the stone--returned
in 1548 with alarming severity. Some time since an abscess had
appeared on his left leg, which seemed at the time to have healed.
Finding that a fresh breaking out of it seemed to relieve his head,
his friend Ratzeberger, the Elector's physician, induced him to have
a seton applied, and the issue thus kept open. His hair became
white. He had long been speaking of himself as a prematurely old
man, and quite worn out.

In spite of his sufferings he retained his peculiar bearing with
head thrown back and upturned face. His features, especially the
mouth, now showed more plainly even than in earlier life the calm
strength acquired by struggles and suffering. The pathos which later
portraits have often given to his countenance is not apparent in the
earlier ones, but rather an expression of melancholy. The deep glow
and energy of his spirit, which even Cranach's pencil has failed
wholly to represent, seems to have found chief expression in his
dark eyes. These evidently struck the old rector of Wittenberg,
Pollich, and the legate Caietan at Augsburg; it was with these that,
on his arrival at Worms, the legate Aleander saw him look around him
'like a demon'; it was these that 'sparkled like stars' on the young
Swiss Kessler, so that he could 'hardly endure their gaze.' After
his death, another acquaintance of his called them 'falcon's eyes';
and Melancthon saw in the brown pupils, encircled by a yellow ring,
the keen, courageous eye of a lion.

This fire in Luther never died. Under the pressure of suffering and
weakness, it only burst forth when stirred by opposition into new
and fiercer flames. It became, indeed, more easily provoked in later
life, and produced in him an irritation and restless impatience with
the world and all its doings. His full and clear gaze was fixed on
the Hereafter.



The Emperor Charles, after concluding the peace of Crespy with King
Francis, turned his policy entirely to ecclesiastical affairs. The
Pope could no longer resist his urgent demand for a Council, and
accordingly a bull, of November 1544, summoned one to assemble at
Trent in the following March. With regard to the Turks, the Emperor
sought to liberate his hands by means of a peaceful settlement and
concessions. He entered into negotiations with them in 1545, in
which he was supported by an ambassador from France. These led
ultimately to the result that the Turks left him in possession, on
payment of a tribute, of those frontier fortresses which he still
occupied, and which they had previously demanded from him, and
agreed to a truce for a year and a half. 'This is the way,'
exclaimed Luther, 'in which war is now waged against those who have
been denounced so many years as enemies to the name of Christ, and
against whom the Romish Satan has amassed such heaps of gold by
indulgences and other innumerable means of plunder.'

Meanwhile the Elector John had commissioned his theologians to
prepare the scheme of reformation which was to be submitted
according to the decree of the Diet at Spires. On January 14,1545,
they sent him a draft compiled by Melancthon. Luther headed with his
own the list of signatures. It was a last great message of peace
from his hand. The draft set forth clearly and distinctly the
principles of the Evangelical Church; but expressed a hope that the
bishops of the Catholic Church would fulfil the duties of their
office, and promised them obedience if they accepted and furthered
the preaching of the gospel in its purity. This was too moderate for
the Elector. His chancellor Bruck, however, assured him that Luther
and the others were agreed with Melancthon, though the document bore
no evidence of 'Doctor Martin's restless spirit.'

Nor did Luther even here insist on that strong expression of opinion
with regard to the Lord's Supper which he himself gave to the
doctrine of Christ's Bodily Presence in the Sacrament. They only
spoke briefly of the 'receiving the true Body and Blood of Christ,'
and of the object and benefit of this reception for the soul and for

But Luther now unburdened his heart with redoubled energy and
passion against the Pope and the Popedom, of which no mention had
been made in the draft. In January 1545 he learned of that Papal
letter in which the Holy Father had protested to his son the
Emperor, with pathetic indignation, against the decrees of the Diet
at Spires. Luther at first took it seriously for a forgery--a mere
pasquinade--until he was assured by the Elector of the genuineness
of this and another and similar letter, and thus provoked to take
public steps against it. He thought that, if the brief was genuine,
the Pope would sooner worship the Turks--nay, the devil himself--than
ever dream of consenting to a reform in accordance with God's Word.
Accordingly, he composed his pamphlet 'Against the Popedom at Rome,
instituted by the Devil.' In this his 'restless spirit' spoke out
once more with all its strength; he poured out the vials of his wrath
in the plainest and most violent language--more violent than in any
of his earlier writings--against the Antichrist of Rome. The very
first word gives the Pope the title of 'the most hellish Father.'
Luther is not surprised that to him and his Curia the words 'free
Christian German Council' are sheer poison, death, and hell. But he
asks him, what is the use of a Council at all if the Pope arrogates
to himself beforehand, as his decrees fulminate, the right of altering
and tearing up its decisions. Far better to spare the expense and
trouble of such a farce, and say, 'We will believe and worship your
hellship without any Councils.' The piece of arch-knavery practised
by the Pope in himself announcing a Council against Emperor and Empire
was, in fact, nothing new. The Popes from the very first had practised
all kinds of devilish wickedness, treachery, and murder against the
German Emperors. Luther recalls to mind how a Pope had caused the
noble Conradin to be executed with the sword. Paul III., in his
admonition to his 'son' the Emperor Charles, referred in pious strain
to the example of Eli, the high-priest, who had been punished for not
rebuking his sons for their sins. Luther now points him to his own,
the Pope's natural son, whom the Pope was so anxious to enrich; he
asks if Father Paul then had nothing to punish in him. It was well
known what tricks Paul himself, with his insatiable maw, was playing
together with his son with the property of the Church. Further, he
puts before the Pope his cardinals and followers, who forsooth needed
no admonition for their detestable iniquities. But his dear son
Charles, it seemed, had wished to procure for the German Fatherland
a happy peace and unity in religion, and to have a Christian Council,
and, finding he had been made a fool of by the Pope for four-and-twenty
years, sat last to convene a national Council. This was his sin in the
eyes of the Pope, who would like to see all Germany drowned in her own
blood: the Pope could not forgive the Emperor for thwarting his
horrible design. Luther dwells at length on such reflections in his
introduction, and then says 'I must now stop, for my head is too
weak, and I have not yet come to what I meant to say in this
treatise.' This was the three points, as follow: Whether, indeed, it
was true that the Pope was the head of Christendom; that none could
judge and depose him; and that he had brought the Holy Roman Empire
to the Germans, as he boasted so arrogantly he had done. On these
points he then proceeds to enlarge once more with a wealth of
searching proof. On the last point we hear him speak once more as a
true German. He wished that the Emperor had left the Pope his
anointing and coronation, for what made him truly Emperor was not
these ceremonies, but the election of the princes. The Pope had
never yielded a hairsbreadth to the Empire, but, on the contrary,
had plundered it immoderately by his lying and deceit and idolatry.
The book concludes thus: 'This devilish Popery is the supreme evil
on earth, and the one that touches us most closely; it is one in
which all the devils combine together. God help us! Amen.'

Cranach published a series of sketches or caricatures, controversial
and satirical, against the Popedom, some of which are cynically
coarse, one of them representing to his countrymen the murder of
Conradin, the Pope himself beheading him, and another a German
Emperor with the Pope standing on his neck. Luther added short
verses to these pictures. But he disapproved of one of Cranach's
caricatures, as insulting to woman.

We have seen already what degree of importance Luther attached to a
Council appointed by the Pope. The Protestants could not, of course,
consent to submit to the one at Trent. On the other hand, their demand
that the Council must be a 'free' and a 'Christian' one in their sense
of the terms was an impossibility for the Emperor and the Catholics;
for it meant not only their independence of the Pope--which he could
never assent to--but also a free reversion to the single rule and
standard of Holy Scripture, with a possible rejection of tradition
and the decrees of previous Councils. The Emperor thereupon granted
something for appearance sake to the Protestant States by arranging
another conference on religion to be held at Ratisbon in January
1546. He told the Pope, in June 1545, that he could not engage to
make war on the Protestants for at least another year. The Council
was opened in December 1545, without the Protestants taking any part
in it.

While all this was going on, the newly-opened rupture between Luther
and the Swiss remained unhealed. In the spring of 1545 Bullinger
published a clever reply to his 'Short Confession.' It could,
however, effect no reconciliation, for, mild as was its language in
comparison with the violence of Luther's, it made too much merit of
this mildness, while, as Calvin, for example, accused the author, it
imputed more to Luther than common fairness justified, took him to
task for his manner of speaking, and contributed nothing to an
understanding in point of dogma. From the impression produced by
this letter upon Luther, fears were entertained again for
Melancthon, who had continued to maintain a friendly correspondence
with Bullinger; and Melancthon himself felt very anxious about the
result. But not one harsh or suspicious or unkind word was uttered
by Luther. He only wished to answer the Zurichers briefly and to the
point, for he had written, he said, quite enough on the subject
against Zwingli and Oecolampadius, and did not want to spoil the
last years of his life with arrogant and idle chatter. He only
inserted afterwards in a series of theses, with which he replied in
the late summer of that year to a fresh condemnation pronounced
against him by the theologians of Louvain, an article against the
Zwinglians, declaring that they and all those who disgraced the
Sacrament by denying the actual bodily reception of the true Body of
Christ were undoubtedly heretics and schismatics from the Christian
Church. This doctrinal antagonism was sufficient even now, when the
test of actual war was imminent, to keep the Swiss excluded from the
League of Schmalkald.

Luther still continued, in the face of menaces, to trust in God, his
Helper hitherto, and he found in the latest signs of the times still
more convincing proof of the End, which seemed to be at hand. In the
miserable oppression of the Germano-Roman Empire by the Turks he saw
a sign of its approaching downfall, as also in the impotence
displayed by the Imperial Government even in small matters of
administration. There was no longer any justice, any government; it
was an Empire without an Empire; and he rejoiced to believe that
with the end of this Empire the last day--the day of salvation--was

But more painful and harassing to him than even the threats of the
Romanists and the attacks upon his teaching, which his own words, he
was convinced, had long since refuted, was the condition of
Wittenberg and the university. It was a favourite reproach against
him of the Catholics that his doctrine yielded no fruits of strict
morality. Notwithstanding all the rebukes which he had uttered for
years, we hear of the old vices still rampant at Wittenberg--the
vices of gluttony, of increasing intemperance and luxury, especially
at baptisms and weddings; of pride in dress and the low-cut bodices
of ladies; of rioting in the streets; of the low women who corrupted
the students; of extortion, deceit, and usury in trade; and of the
indifference and inability of the authorities and the police to put
down open immorality and misdemeanours. Things of which there were
growing complaints at that time in the German towns and universities
became intolerable to the aged Reformer, who had no longer the power
to bring his whole influence to bear upon his own fellow-townsmen.

In the summer of 1545 he was tortured again by his old enemy the stone.
On Midsummer day his tormentor--as he wrote to a friend--would have
done for him had God not willed it otherwise. 'I would rather die,' he
adds, 'than be at the mercy of such a tyrant.'

A few weeks later he sought refreshment for mind and body in a
journey. He first travelled with his colleague Cruciger by way of
Leipzig to Zeitz, where Cruciger had to settle a dispute between two
clergymen. On the road he was cordially received by several
acquaintances, and that did him good. At Zeitz he took part in the
proceedings. He was anxious to proceed farther, to Merseburg, for
his friend there, George of Anhalt, had seized the opportunity to
send him a pressing invitation, in order to receive from him his
consecration. But the painful experiences he had made at Wittenberg
pursued him on his travels, and were aggravated by much that he
heard about his own town. On July 28 he wrote from Zeitz to his
wife, saying, 'I should be so glad not to return to Wittenberg; my
heart is grown cold, so that I don't care about being there any
longer.... So I will roam about and rather beg my bread than vex my
poor remaining days with the disorderly doings at Wittenberg, with
my hard and precious labour all lost.' He actually wished that they
should sell the house and garden at Wittenberg, and go and live at
Zulsdorf. The Elector, he said, would surely leave him his salary
at least for one year more, near as he was to the close of his
fast-waning life, and he would spend the money in improving his
little farm. He begged his wife, if she would, to let Bugenhagen
and Melancthon know this.

The excitement, however, as might be hoped, was only temporary. To
quiet his emotion, the university at once sent Bugenhagen and
Melancthon to him, the Wittenberg magistrate sent the burgomaster,
and the Elector his private physician Ratzeberger. The Elector also
reminded him in a friendly manner that he ought to have apprised him
beforehand of his intention to take this journey, to enable him to
provide an escort and defray his expenses. The Wittenberg
theologians, sent as deputies to Merseburg, had now arrived there,
and met Luther on August 2, at the solemn consecration of George.
Luther stayed with his host for a couple of days, during which he
preached in the neighbouring town of Halle, and was here presented
by the town-council with a cup of gold. This journey improved his
health. After having paid a visit to the Elector, at his desire, at
Torgau, he returned on the l6th of the month to Wittenberg, where an
attempt was now being made to put down, by an ordinance of police,
the immorality he had denounced.

He now resumed his lectures, in which he was still busily engaged
with the Book of Genesis, and which he brought at length to an end
on November 17. He also preached at Wittenberg several times in the
afternoons, it being unadvisable for him to do so any longer in the
mornings on account of his health. He further occupied himself in
writing a sequel to his first book against the Papacy, and at the
same time meditated a letter against the Sacramentarians.

The autumn of this year brought with it a matter from Mansfeld,
having nothing indeed to do with religion or doctrine, but which
called him away from Wittenberg. The Counts of Mansfeld had long
been quarrelling among themselves about certain rights and revenues,
especially in connection with Church patronage. Luther had already
entreated them earnestly in God's name to come to a peaceful
agreement. They now at length agreed so far as to invite his
mediation, and obtained permission from the Elector, who, however,
would rather have seen Luther spared this trouble. Luther all his
life had cherished a warm and grateful affection for this his early
home; whilst labouring for his great Fatherland of Germany, he
called Mansfeld his own special fatherland. Wearied as he was, he
resolved to serve his home once more.

At the beginning of October, accordingly, he journeyed thither with
Melancthon and Jonas, but his visit proved in vain, since the
Counts, before he could do anything for them, were called away to
war. He held himself in readiness, however, to make a second

In the meantime Luther quickly composed another pamphlet, with
reference to the Duke of Brunswick, who three years before had been
driven from his country by the Landgrave Philip and the Saxon
princes, and had now suddenly invaded it again, but was defeated and
taken prisoner by the combined forces of the allied princes,
assisted also by the Counts of Mansfeld. At the instigation of the
chancellor Bruck, and with the consent of his Elector, Luther
addressed a public letter to the princes and the Landgrave, and had
it printed. In it he warned them not to allow--as Philip for various
reasons seemed inclined to do--so dangerous a prisoner to go free,
and thereby to tempt God. Behind the Duke he saw the Pope and the
Papists, without whom he would never have been able to carry on his
campaign. They should at any rate wait and see until the thoughts of
hearts should be further revealed. None the less did he warn the
victors against self-exaltation and arrogance.

Once more he celebrated his birthday in the circle of his friends,
Melancthon, Bugenhagen, Cruciger, and some others. Just before that
day a rich present of wine and fish had arrived from the Elector.
Luther was very merry with his friends, but could not restrain sad
thoughts of an apostasy from the gospel which might follow with many
after his death.

At the conclusion of his lecture on November 17 he said: 'This is
the beloved Genesis; God grant that after me it may be better done.
I can do no more--I am weak. Pray God that He may grant me a good
and happy end.' He began no new lectures.

At Christmas time, then, and in the depth of cold, Luther journeyed
to Mansfeld with Melancthon. He wished, as he wrote to Count Albert,
to risk the time and effort, notwithstanding the pressing work he
had on hand, in order to lay himself in peace in his coffin in the
place where he had previously reconciled his beloved masters. But
his wish was not to be fulfilled. Anxiety for Melancthon, who was
ill, urged him home, though he promised to return. On his homeward
journey, in spite of the continued severity of the cold, he preached
at Halle, concluding his sermon with the words, 'Well, since it is
very cold, I will now end. You have other good and faithful

He had carefully brought his Melancthon home. When now the new
conference on religion was to be held at Ratisbon, and a Wittenberg
theologian was to be sent to it, he begged the Elector not to employ
his friend again for the 'useless and idle colloquy,' especially as
there was not a man among his opponents who was worth anything.
'What would they do,' he wrote, 'if Philip were dead or ill, as
indeed he is--so ill that I rejoice to have brought him home from
Mansfeld. It is his duty henceforth to spare himself; he is better
employed in his bed than at the Conference. The young doctors must
come to the fore and take up the word after us.' Of his opponents
and their designs, he said 'They take us for asses, who don't
understand their vulgar and foolish attacks.'

He described his own condition, in a letter of January 17, in these
words: 'Old, spent, worn, weary, cold, and with but one eye to see
with.' He must have lost therefore the sight of one of his eyes, but
we know nothing definite beyond this. He adds, however, that for his
age his health was fairly good.

Melancthon was spared a journey to Ratisbon, as also a third visit
to Mansfeld. Luther ventured the latter, however, in January. He
took with him his three sons, together with their tutor, and his own
servant, that they might become acquainted with his beloved native
home. When, shortly before, some students at his table heard of a
strange and ominous fall of a large clock at midnight, he said, 'Do
not fear; this means that I shall soon die. I am weary of the world,
so let us rather part like well-filled guests at a common inn.'

[Illustration: Fig. 54.--LUTHER IN 1546. (From a woodcut of

On the 23rd of the month he left Wittenberg, where on the previous
Sunday, the 17th, he had preached for the last time.

He reached Halle on the 25th, and stayed with Jonas. It was probably
then that he brought Jonas as a present the beautiful white Venetian
glass, which is still preserved at Nuremberg. The Latin couplet is
to this effect:

Luther this glass, himself a glass, doth on his friend bestow,
That each himself a brittle glass may by this token know.

[Illustration: Fig. 55.--JONAS' GLASS. The date when the portraits
of Luther and Jonas, together with the Latin verses and their
translation, were executed, is uncertain, (_a_) Luther.
(_bb_) Translation of Luther's verses. (_cc_) 'Dat vitrum vitro Jona
vitrum ipse Lutherus: Ut vitro fragili similem se noscat uterque.'
(_d_) Jonas.]

The breaking up of the ice, followed by heavy floods, detained him
at Halle for three days. The very day after his arrival he preached
again. He wrote to his wife telling her he was cheering himself with
good Torgau beer and Rhine-wine, till the Saale had done raging. To
his friends, however, in company he said, 'Dear friends, we are
mighty good comrades, we eat and drink together; but we must all die
one day. I am now going to Eisleben to help my masters, the Counts
of Mansfeld, to come to terms. Now I know how the people are
disposed; when Christ wished to reconcile His heavenly Father with
mankind, He undertook to die for them. God grant that it may be so
with me!'

On the 28th the travellers, who were joined by Jonas, crossed the
dangerous rapids formed by the narrow part of the river Saale below
the Castle of Giebichenstein, near the town, and thus on the same
day reached Eisleben, where the Counts of Mansfeld, with several
other nobles, were waiting for Luther. An escort of more than a
hundred horsemen in heavy armour accompanied him from the frontier
between the territories of Halle and Mansfeld. Just before entering
the town, however, he was seized with alarming giddiness and
faintness, together with a sharp constriction of the heart, and much
difficulty of breathing. He himself ascribed this to a chill, having
shortly before walked some distance and then re-entered his carriage
in a perspiration. At the village of Rissdorf, near Eisleben, so he
wrote to his wife on February 1, such a bitter wind pierced his cap
at the back of his head, that he felt as if his brain were freezing.
It was in this letter that he spoke of her laughingly as Lady
Zulsdorf, &c. 'But now,' he added, 'thank God, I am pretty well
again, except for the heartache caused by the beautiful women.' Only
three days after this attack he preached at Eisleben.

Luther was comfortably quartered at the Drachstedt, a house which
had been bought by the town-council, and was inhabited by the
town-clerk Albert.

The business was commenced at once, in the very house where he was
staying. But it was a work of much trouble and difficulty for
Luther. He sought one way after another to effect a reconciliation.
On February 6 he begged the Elector through Melancthon to send him a
summons back to Wittenberg, in order to put pressure on the Counts
to settle their dispute; and a few days after he wrote to his wife,
saying that he should like to grease his carriage-wheels and be off
in sheer anger, but concern for his native town prevented him. He
was shocked at the avarice, so ruinous to the soul, which either
party displayed. He was angry also with the lawyers, for backing up
each party to stand so stubbornly on his imagined rights. He who now
ought to have been a lawyer himself, came among them as a hobgoblin,
who checked their pride by the grace of God.

The multitude of Jews whom Luther met at Eisleben and thereabouts
were also an annoyance and vexation to him. He disliked to see the
Counts give room so far to men who blasphemed Jesus and Mary, who
called the Christians changelings, and sucked them dry, nay, would
gladly kill them all, if they could. He warned even his
congregation, as a child of their country, not to fall into their

Amidst all this business, he found time to preach four sermons. He
partook twice of the sacrament, and confessed and ordained two

To his wife, who worried herself constantly about him and his
health, he wrote from Eisleben five times in fourteen days. His
language to her, even when he has unpleasant news to tell, is always
full of affection, heartiness, and comfort. The humorous way in
which he addressed her we have noticed before. He told her how well
he fares with eating and drinking. He referred her to her God, in
Whose stead she wished to care for him, to the Bible and the small
Catechism, of which she had once declared that all it contained had
been said by her. He had also dangers to tell her of, which had
assailed him even while thus under her care. A fire chanced to break
out in a chimney near his room; and on February 9, so he writes to
her, notwithstanding all her care, a stone as long as a pillow and
as thick as two hands, had nearly toppled down upon his head and
crushed him. So he now takes care to say, 'While you cease not to
care for us, the earth at length might swallow us up, and all the
elements destroy us.'
[Footnote: A facsimile of the longest of these letters, bearing date
February 7, appears at the end of the volume. It runs as follows:
'Mercy and peace in the Lord. Pray read, dear Katie, the Gospel of
St. John and the' [_marginally_ 'little'] 'Catechism, of
which you once declared that you yourself had said all that it
contained. For you wish to disquiet yourself about your God, just as
if He were not Almighty, and able to create ten Martin Luthers for
one old one drowned perhaps in the Saale, or fallen dead by the
fireplace, or on Wolf's fowling-floor. Leave me in peace with your
cares; I have a better protector than you and all the angels. He--my
Protector--lies in the manger, and hangs upon a Virgin's breast. But
He sits also at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. Best,
therefore--in peace. Amen.

'I think that hell and all the world must now be free of all the
devils who have come together here to Eisleben, for my sake it
seems. So hard and knotty is this business. There are fifty Jews
here too' [_marginally_ 'in one house'], 'as I wrote to you
before. It is now said that at Rissdorff, hard by Eisleben, where I
fell ill before my arrival, more than four hundred Jews were walking
and riding about. Count Albert, who owns all the country round
Eisleben, has seized them upon his property, and will have nothing
to do with them. No one has done them any harm as yet. The widowed
Countess of Mansfeld (the Countess Dorothea, widow of Count Ernest,
born Countess of Solms), is thought to be the protectress of the
Jews. I don't know whether it is true, but I have given my opinion
in quarters where I hope it will be attended to. It is a case of
Beg, Beg, Beg, and helping them. For I had it in my mind to-day to
grease my carriage wheels _in ira mea_. But I felt the misery
of it too much; my native home held me back. I have been made a
lawyer, but they will not gain by it. They had better have let me
remain a theologian. If I live and come among them, I might become a
hobgoblin, who would comb down their pride by the grace of God. They
behave as if they were God Himself, but must take care to shake off
these notions in good time before their godhead becomes a devilhead,
as happened to Lucifer, who could not remain in heaven for pride.
Well, God's will be done. Let Master Philip see this letter, for I
had no time to write to him; and you may comfort yourself with the
thought how much I love you, as you know. And Philip will understand
it all.

'We live here very well, and the town-council gives me for each meal
half a pint of "Reinfall"' [_marginally_, 'which is very
good']. 'Sometimes I drink it with my friends. The wine of the
country here is also good, and Naumburg beer is very good, though I
fancy its pitch fills my chest with phlegm. The devil has spoilt all
the beer in the world with his pitch, and the wine with his
brimstone. But here the wine is pure, such as the country gives.

'And know that all letters you have written have arrived, and to-day
those have come which you wrote last Friday, together with Master
Philip's letters, so you need not be angry.

Sunday after St. Dorothea's Day (7 February) 1546.

'Your loving


(' To my beloved housewife, Catharine Lady Luther, Lady Doctor, Lady
of the Pigmarket at Wittenberg; my gracious wife, bound hand and
foot in loving service.')]

Luther kept up also at Eisleben his correspondence with Melancthon.
He wrote to him three letters, the last testimony of his friendship.
A letter to his 'kind, dear housewife,' and one to Melancthon, his
'most worthy brother in Christ,' both of February 14, are without
doubt the last he ever wrote. His sick body was well nursed and
tended at Eisleben. He went to bed early every night, after he had
stood before his window, according to his old habit, in fervent
prayer. The stone no longer troubled him, but he was very weary and
worn. His last sermon, on Sunday, February 14, he broke off with the
words: 'This and much more is to be said about the Gospel; but I am
too weak, we will leave off here.' Most unfortunately for him, he
had omitted to bring with him to Eisleben the applications used for
keeping his issue open, and now it was nearly closed. He knew that
the physicians considered this extremely dangerous.

At length his efforts to mediate between his masters the Counts were
crowned with success beyond all expectation. On February 14 a
reconciliation was effected upon the chief points, and the various
members of the Counts' families rejoiced, while the young lords and
ladies made merry all together. 'Therefore,' wrote Luther to Kathe,
'it must be seen that God is _Exauditor precum_.' He sent her
some trout as a thankoffering from Countess Albert. He wrote to her:
'We hope to return home this week, if God will.'

On the 16th and 17th of that month the reconciliation upon all the
points of dispute was formally concluded. The revenues of churches
and schools were fixed upon, and the latter to this day owe a rich
endowment to the arrangements there made. On the 16th Luther says in
his 'Table Talk': 'I will now no longer tarry, but set myself to go
to Wittenberg and there lay myself in a coffin and give the worms a
fat doctor to feed upon.'

On the morning of the 17th, however, the Counts found themselves
compelled, by Luther's state of health, to entreat him not to exert
himself any longer with their affairs; and so he only added his
signature where required. To Jonas and the Counts' court-preacher
Colius, who were staying, with him, he said he thought he should
remain at Eisleben, where he was born. Before supper he complained
of oppression of the chest, and had himself rubbed with warm cloths.
This relieved him, and he left his little room, going down the
staircase into the public room to join the party at supper. 'There is
no pleasure,' he said, 'in being alone.' At supper he was merry with
the rest, and talked with his usual energy on various subjects--now
jocular or serious, now intellectual and pious. But no sooner had he
returned to his chamber and finished his usual evening prayer than he
again became anxious and troubled. After being rubbed again with warm
cloths and having taken a medicine which Count Albert himself had
brought him, he laid himself down about nine o'clock on a leathern
sofa and slept gently for an hour and a half. On awakening, he arose,
and with the words (spoken in Latin) 'Into Thy hands I commend my
spirit, for Thou hast redeemed me, Thou God of truth,' went to his
bed in the adjoining room, where he again slept, breathing quietly,
till one o'clock. He then awoke, called his servant, and begged him
to heat the room, though it was quite warm already, and then exclaimed
to Jonas, 'O Lord God, how ill I am! Ah! I feel I shall remain here
at Eisleben, where I was born and baptized.' In this state of pain
he arose, walked without assistance into the room which he had
left a few hours before, again commending his soul to God; and
then, after pacing once up and down the room, lay down once more
on the sofa, complaining again of the oppression on his chest. His
two sons, Martin and Paul, remained with him all night. They had
spent most of the time at Mansfeld with their relations there, but
had now returned to their father (Hans was still absent), and his
servant and Jonas. Colius also hastened to him, and the young
theologian John Aurifaber, a friend of the two Counts who used to
associate with Luther together with Jonas and Colius. The town-clerk
was there, too, with his wife, also two physicians, and Count Albert
and his wife, who busied herself zealously with nursing the sick man;
and later on came a Count of Schwarzburg with his wife, who were
staying on a visit with the Count of Mansfeld. The rubbing and
application of warm clothes and the medicines were now of no avail
to ease Luther's anguish. He broke out into a sweat. His friends began
to feel more happy about him, hoping that this would relieve him; but
he replied, 'It is the cold sweat of death; I shall yield up my
spirit.' Then he began to give thanks aloud to God, Who had revealed
to him His Son, Whom he had confessed and loved, and Whom the godless
and the Pope blasphemed and insulted. He cried aloud to God and to the
Lord Jesus: 'Take my poor soul into Thy hands! Although I must leave
this body, I know that I shall be ever with Thee.' He then spoke words
of the Bible, three times uttering the text of St. John iii: 'God so
loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'
After Colius had given him one more spoonful of medicine, he said
again, 'I am going, and shall render up my spirit,' and three times
rapidly in succession he said in Latin, 'Father, into Thy hands I
commend my spirit, for Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.'
From that time he remained quite still, and closed his eyes, without
making any answer when spoken to by those around him, who were busy
with restoratives. Jonas and Colius, however, after his pulse had
been rubbed with strengthening waters, said aloud in his ear:
'Reverend father (_Reverende pater), wilt thou stand by Christ and
the doctrine thou hast preached?' He uttered an audible 'Yes.' He
then turned upon his right side and fell asleep. He lay thus for
nearly a quarter of an hour, when his feet and nose grew cold; he
fetched one deep, even breath, and was gone. It was between two and
three o'clock in the morning of February 18--a Thursday.

The body was laid in a white garment, first upon a bed, and then in
a hastily-made leaden coffin. Many hundreds, high and low, came to
see it. The next morning the face was painted by an Eisleben artist,
and the morning after that by Lucas Fortenagel of Helle.
Fortenagel's portrait is no doubt a foundation of all those which we
find in several places under Cranach's name, and which no doubt
really came from Cranach's studio.

[Illustration: Fig. 57.--LUTHER AFTER DEATH. (From a picture
ascribed to Cranach.)]

The Elector John Frederick at once insisted that the mortal remains
of Luther should rest at Wittenberg. The Counts of Mansfeld wished
at least to pay them the last honours. After they had been brought,
on the afternoon of the 19th, into the Church of St. Andrew, where a
sermon was preached by Jonas that day, and another by Colius on the
following morning, a solemn procession started at noon on the 20th,
with the coffin, for its destination. In front rode a troop of about
fifty light-armed cavalry, with sons of both the Counts, to
accompany the body to its last resting-place. All the Counts and
Countesses, with their guests, followed as far as the gates of
Eisleben, and among them was a Prince of Anhalt, the magistrates,
the school-children, and the whole population of the surrounding

[Illustration: Fig. 58.--CAST OF LUTHER AFTER DEATH. (At Halle.)]

In all the villages on the road the bells tolled, and old and young
flocked to join the procession. At Halle the coffin was received
with great solemnity, and placed for the night of the 20th in the
principal church of the town. There a cast was taken in wax, which is
preserved in the library of the church; the original features, however,
having been altered by putting in the eyes and improving the shape of
the mouth. To complete our picture of Luther's outward appearance, we
have in this cast the remarkably strong brow, which in Cranach's
portraits of Luther often recedes out of all proportion in his upturned
face. The two representations of Luther when dead are of great value,
deeply as it must be lamented that no more skilful hands than those of
the painter of Halle and the wax-modeller have had the privilege of
working upon them.

On the 21st the corpse was taken to Kemberg, after being received at
the frontier of the Electorate by deputies from the Elector. On the
morning of the 22nd it reached Wittenberg, where it was at once
taken to the Castle Church in solemn procession through the whole
length of the town. It was a long, sad procession. First went the
nobles representing the Elector, then the horsemen from Mansfeld and
their young Counts, and immediately after the coffin the widow in a
little carriage with some other gentlewomen. Then followed Luther's
sons and his brother James, with other relatives from Mansfeld; then
the University, the members of the Town Council, and all the
citizens of Wittenberg. In the church Bugenhagen preached a sermon,
and Melancthon, who, on the arrival of the sad news, had expressed
his grief in a charge to the students, gave a Latin oration as
representative of the University. Then, near the spot where the
great Reformer had once nailed up his theses, the body was lowered
into the grave.

Throughout the whole Evangelical Church arose a cry of lamentation.
Luther was mourned as a prophet of Germany--as an Elijah who had
overthrown the worship of idols and set up again the pure Word of
God. Like Elisha to Elijah, so Melancthon called out after him,
'Alas! the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof!' On the other
hand, fanatical Papists were not ashamed to insult his very deathbed
with slanders and falsehoods; even a year before he died a silly,
sensational story of his death was spread about by them.

Luther throughout his life and labours had never troubled himself
much about the praise or the abuse of men. After the example of his
great teacher St. Paul, he went his way in honour and dishonour,
through evil report and good report, along the road which he knew to
be pointed out from above. The portrait of his life, plain and
unadorned as it is presented to the present age, will at any rate
testify to the worth of this great man, and thus do something
towards that eternal end for which he was ready to sacrifice his
life and, in the eyes of the world, his honour and his fame.

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