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helping, and to appear before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ. And though some one should say after my death, if that Luther lived now, he would teach and hold differently on this or that article, for he has not considered it sufficiently: to this I shall say then as now, now as then, that by the grace of God I have considered all these articles most diligently, that I have dragged them often, again and again, through Scripture, and that I should defend them as surely as I have now defended the sacrament of the altar. I am neither drunk nor rash. I know what I say, and feel what it will mean to me on the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to the day of judgment. For this reason no one sh all treat my writings as loose talk or an amusement. I am in earnest. For I know Satan, by the grace of God, fairly well. If he can pervert and confuse God's Word and Scripture, what will he not do with my words or another man's ?
It would be very wide of the mark to assume that Luther intended to teach systematic theology. Theology in his mind was not a body of dogmas, but a living religion. Still less did he ever intend to found a new church. He does not use the word dogma, he never thought of writing a theological or any other system, and probably the best theological treatise he ever wrote is his smaller catechism, which is still used in all Lutheran schools. In Luther, therefore, as in all true divines, the theological, religious and purely human elements are blended into one harmonious personality, and it is this blending of many elements that makes his individuality. Like Shakes. peare he appropriated freely whatever came under his observation. But unlike Shakespeare he was a laborious student who wrote two languages with ease, besides having mastered Greek and Hebrew. Like Shakespeare he was an acute observer of nature, and it is not certain that he lacked Shakespeare's psychological insight. In dealing with men, he was simple and almost naive. It never occurred to him to organize his followers, and from first to last he confined himself to religious work, just as Shakespeare confined himself rigorously to poetry and the stage. It is essential to observe that Luther viewed the true church as a matter of faith, not as an institution or a corporation, that he regarded church government as altogether secondary, that he cared very little for church ordinances, and that he was entirely unwilling to interfere with civil government or secular affairs. It can be charged against Luther that he alludes with a certain contempt to the German peasants, who
were then mostly serfs, and that he looked upon princes as having something like divine rights. The true explanation of this remarkable fact is, perhaps, that Luther accepted the social and political institutions of his time as beyond his jurisdiction. Accordingly he never preached political or doctrinal sermons. On the other hand, he was intensely German, and his allusions to the other nations of his time are quite meagre. His acquaintance with ancient Greece and Rome, however, was intimate.
What Luther strove after was the salvation of his immortal soul. Heaven, hell, the justice of God, the day of judgment, and the saving death of Christ were to him as real and definite as the facts of natural history are to us. It was natural, therefore, that he turned from the law, for which his father intended him, to theology and religion. He began his public career as a professor of philosopby. But immediately he plunged into theology, and it was as a doctor of divinity that he began Hebrew, and perfected himself in Greek. With his usual thoroughness be did not stop toiling until he had fairly mastered these languages, and he perfected himself in German in order to make his sermons intelligible to his plainest hearers. Incidentally he stumbled upon Popery as a human institution; but Luther devoted more attention to his own necessities as a sinner that needed a Saviour, and to the religious necessities of those who followed him, than he ever did to Popery, bishops and ecclesiastics. He has been criticised harshly for his treatment of Calvin and Zwingle; this criticism should be applied no less to the singular severity with which Luther treated bis own friends and himself in all theological matters.
Theology was to him an objective reality such as the Rocky Mountains are to us, and it was foreign to his mind to beg that men might acknowledge the fact. He accepted the Bible as the Word of the living God, and it is not strange tbat he measured all things by its revelation. His own profound agitation was due no less to his temperament than to his unquali. fied acceptation of the Old and New Testaments as the literal Word of God to be accepted under the pain of everlasting damnation. Luther never ceased to dread the justice of God, and to tremble at the day of judgment. By the side of this profound terror, his treatment of opponents in theology is con
sistent, although his language is unbridled and at times terrific. No honorable historian defends the horrors of the French revolution, but history explains them. In a like sense the unmeasured violence of Luther against theological opponents and himself, as well as his friends, is explained, when we remember the power of the Papacy, and the unswerving firmness with which Luther accepted every syllable of the Bible as the Word of the righteous God who judges the quick and the dead. Calvin made and defended a system in which there was hardly a flaw. Luther had no system, and wished for no system ; he assumed the Trinity, plenary inspiration, and the accuracy
of the early creeds, precisely as he did not assume God to be merciful on the ground of justice. This belief was not so much linked to a heroic soul, as it made him a hero, and fairly forced him into gigantic proportions. It was his religion that called into activity and enlarged whatever nature bad planted in his breast. And baving grown up toward the ideal demands of his stern, great belief, it was no wonder that he could readily respond to the gentler appeals which innocent childhood or modest piety made to him. For his children he wrote this Christmas hymn :
I. SONG OF THE ANGEL.
II. SONG OF THE CHILDREN.
Then let us all right joyous be,
It is not strange that Luther has never found outside of Germany that appreciation which his countrymen have for him. He is one of them in a stronger sense than Shakespeare was an Englishman. Luther wrote pamphlets for his country. men, and for these writings there is no universal demand, save with such rare scholars and students as would approach Lord Bacon, Augustine, and Aristotle: The perennial magic of Luther's name in Germany is less due to his theology than to the marvelous and heroic proportions which religion gave to his German mind, heart, and aspirations. It is not an accident that the language of the German people is full of expressions, puns, and witticisms coined by Luther; for he created the literary language of his country, and he could do it, because he lived, felt, and spoke like a true-bearted German. Next to his relig.
a ious character, then, it is his German way of thinking with the beart that reveals the nature of Martin Luther. Had he not been a German, he would not have called himself Doctor through life, and on all occasions. Few people, except the Germans, would ransack all scholarship and history in order to find arguments for the dogmatic assumption with which Luther started, and to which he clung tenaciously. Like so many eminent Germans, Luther was somewhat imaginative in his conclusions, dogmatic in his assumptions, and not always orig. inal in his fundamental ideas. In one respect he resembles Alexander Humboldt, who never published a line which the world would wish to perish. But a more perfect parallel may be drawn between Shakespeare, the poet, and Luther, the German prose writer. As a religious character, Luther is unique for his want of secular prudence and executive skill, for his self-concentration upon purely religious interests and for a certain neglect of ethics. For to him the acceptance of God's revelation in Christ outweighed all matters of secular conduct. It is not strange, therefore that the Lutherans of the present time are lacking in organization, and that they exalt their pure doctrines above morality. Neither is it strange that they glory in the name of Luther,-a name which will probably be uttered with increasing joy, when a century from now the Protestaut world celebrates the five hundredth anniversary of Lutber's birtb.