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known. Thereon are written, in letters that burn themselves into the hearts of men, the words borrowed and emblazoned on the banners of Cosmism : “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Is the question as to how complete a redemption for mankind has been provided for by Christianity, and how perfect a union it has made possible with his Maker ? When the mystery of the personality of the God-man is understood, the question can be answered, never before. Not the truth as the church has understood it, but the truth as Christ has left it, is Christianity. The conscious grasping of the truth as it is in Christ, has been the goal that Christian speculation has ever been striving to reach. Notwithstanding many lapses, a progress is still traceable which steadily tends toward a theoretical and practical recognition of a divine personality immanent in the universe, yet distinct; through all, in all, but above all; and of that independent God-dependence which alone constitutes real manhood. Nevertheless, the church has been and still is far from apprehending the truth in its completeness. Rather does history show that the word of Christ and his Apostles in every generation "stretches beyond and over each, as the all-sufficient norm, even to the end of time.”
Christianity "archaic ?” “outgrown ?” What, then, is to take its place? Even from the modern standpoint of Evolu. tion, it must be confessed that “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
ARTICLE VIII.--PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF
THE statement that Martin Luther is the greatest of modern prose writers, in the same sense in which Shakespeare is the greatest of modern poets, will seem exaggerated to most men. For it is but the few that are familiar with the writings of the German reformer. Those who are, will not hesitate to place Luther, as a writer of German prose, by the side of Shakes. peare, the greatest of English poets. It happens, also, that peither the one nor the other was a professional writer, who lived by his pen, or intended to enrich his nation with literary inaster-pieces which were to shed honor and glory alike upon the writer and his country. Both writers, however, were conscious of their superiority, both knew that they wrote for ages to come as well as for their own time, and both were remarkably careless about the editing of their own collected works. There have been long periods during which both Luther and Shakespeare were very little read; but again and again there has taken place a great revival in the interest which men of ability have taken in the writings of these masters. Yet as a popular writer, Shakespeare has been the more fortunate of the two, while Luther has been more popular as a man and as the champion of German ideas. The writings of Shakespeare are more the property of all educated nations that have a stage, while Luther, emphatically a German, is yet to be appreciated at his true value by the world at large. But it is not too much to say that the reading of Luther's prose alone will repay the trouble of learning the German language.
It is a fact worth mentioning that, while Shakespeare has been studied assiduously and not without fair success in the United States, Luther has only been less fortunate, in that his works are widely read by the clergy and laity of a denomination by no means insignificant, and that several scholars of high standing have gone to much labor and expense, in collecting not only the earliest editions of Luther's very numerous publications, but also the tracts of the times in which the mighty name of Luther was on the lips of all Christendom. Yet the fact remains, that even in Germany, the writings of Luther are not read as generally as they deserve. The greatest philolog. ical master of this century never wearied of praising the language of Luther, and many hundreds of German books have been written in honor of Luther's writings. Just now the Ger. man government is engaged in the honorable work of publishing another complete and critical edition of Luther's writings. But the world, outside of Germany, knows Luther chiefly as the leader of the Protestant Reformation, and half the Protest. ant world remembers him as an opponent of unbounded severity. In Germany, however, the mere pame of Luther is still a great popular power; his sayings are current coin, and his sentiments find a responsive echo in the breasts of bigh and low, of profound students and the plain people, who rarely forget a true friend. So good an observer as Hagenbach, the Calvinistic historian, remarks shrewdly that there was an aristocratic tone in Calvin; Luther was democratic, not because he believed in popular power, for he never did, but because he was a man of the people, and because his writings retain the elements of the truest popularity after the lapse of nearly four centuries.
The titles of Luther's principal writings alone would fill the entire space of the present essay.
Walch's edition of his writ. ings is not complete, and fills twenty-four stout quarto volumes. The more critical Erlangen edition is even less complete, and makes about a hundred duodecimo volumes. Yet a reader really familiar with Luther's writings will be reluctant to recommend a selected edition, and to name the literary master pieces which have dropped from the pen of Luther, as showers drop from the skies. The reader of Luther's letters may think them most characteristic of the man; but in turning to his reformation pamphlets, these will seem essential, while, on general principles as well as upon special investigation, the great theologiau's exegetical works may well be held to occupy the place of honor. There remain the volumes of sermons, the catechetical works of immortal value, and the miscellaneous writings. To say what is best of all these riches is like guessing what is best in Shakespeare's plays. It may seem rash to
advise that men learn German in order to read Luther, and it may be rash to recommend all that Luther has written. But it is certain that the reader of Luther's letters, pamphlets, essays. and commentaries, will be repaid precisely as is the student of all Shakespeare's plays, and it is probable that Luther has never written a page that does not bear the vestiges of the great mind to which neither poetry nor philosophy, neither man nor nature, neither Greek and Latin antiquity, nor the logicians and scholastics of the Middle Age were strangers,a mind filled to overflowing with sentiment, imagination, learn. ing, literary impulses, and, above all else, a religious faith that shook the world. Surely, such a mind and such an author will be studied for ages to come, and as long as men are thirsty for what is noblest and strongest in literature.
It is true that Luther abominated Popery as an institution, and that he turned against the Swiss reformers. Accordingly neither ultramontanism nor distinctive Calvinism will derive much comfort from the tenets of Luther. But nearly as much may be said of the Lutherans themselves, if they go to Luther to find aid and comfort for their modern doctrines and tendencies. It is a reasonable question, however, whether the nineteenth century has any right to go to the sixteenth to find out what it should believe, or how it ought to conduct its affairs. For better or worse it has pleased Divine Providence to let us live nearly three bundred and fifty years after Luther, and these centuries cannot have been given to be merely forgotten. We do not ask physicists and astronomers to return to Copernicus for the only or final wisdom. But precisely as we return to Shakespeare for true poetry, so it is ever safe to go back to Luther as a great prose writer, though he wrote in German, and to study the Saxon reformer, if we wish to get the benefit of a singularly impressive writer, who was at the same time a great patriot, a great theologian, a great character, and a very great author. Quite likely, but few readers will be disposed to accept Luther's theological tenets, although it would be rash to call them moribund, even in this country. But we do not read Shakespeare for doctrines ; why then should we read Luther for theological opinions, inasmuch as he never cared to inaugurate a system of theology any more than he attempted
to organize a new church or a new sect? As we read Shakespeare for poetry, and are not alienated by the Elizabethan's occasional harshness, so it is well worth while to read Luther for his prose,—despite his passion, despite his theology, and despite his sixteenth-century learning. As men descend into the bowels of the earth for gold or coal, so the modern student may well plunge into the depths of Luther to win gold, silver, and hard iron,-to catch the mighty forces that lifted the better part of Christendom out of dependence, and to learn from personal contact with a profoundly religious character, that a great theological mind somehow commands more power than men of the world are prone to acknowledge.
The year 1530 brought rising Protestantism io a crisis, for the German Emperor bad resolved to avenge the schism which the Augustinian of Wittenberg had occasioned. Luther's friends insisted that he should not risk his life by attending the diet at Augsburg. He remained in Koburg, the name which he playfully reversed into Grubok. From there he wrote a series of epistles altogether unique in the history of letters. Luther bimself had been outlawed, and could not even visit bis father, who died about that time. In order to be near his friends at Augsburg, Luther went to the fortress of Koburg, where he promised Melanchthon that three tabernacles should be made,-one for the psalıns, one for the prophets, and one for Æsop. To the students whom he used to have at his table in Wittenberg, he wrote the following letter :
Grace and peace in Christ! Dear Gentlemen and Friends I have received your joint letter, and learned how goes the world. That you may understand in return how things go here, I let you know, that we, namely, myself, Master Vitus and Cyriacus, shall not go to the diet at Augsburg; in fact, we have come to a different kind of diet. Just below our window there is a grove, like a little forest, where the jackdaws and crows have appointed a diet. There is such a coming and going, and such a noise, day and night without end, as if they were all drunk and mad. Young and old scream together that I wonder how long their voices and breath will last. Fain would I know if any of the gentry and knightly squires still tarry with you, for methinks that they have come here from all the world.
I have not seen their emperor ; but their noblemen and big Johns flutter and sputter constantly before our eyes. They are not dressed very preciously, all having one uniform color, being black, with grey eyes to match ; and they sing the same song, but with a lovely differ