Monday, September 5, 2016

Hausvater Project: The Father as Mentor to His Sons – Ten Topics for Man-to-Man Discussion

Hausvater Project
As many readers may be aware, I have been a long-time advocate of Classical Education. Indeed, several essays and innumerable comments on these pages broach the topic of Education in a way that (a) identifies the errors of today's post-Modern learning theories (like Social Constructivism), as I was trained in them at one of the nation's top ten Colleges of Education (according to the NEA) back in the 1990's; (b) differentiates them from the errors of Progressive pedagogies that were introduced by John Dewey and which dominated most of the 20th Century; and (c) as an alternative, promotes the ideologies and methods of The Great Tradition – an ideology of education which is:
    –– an ancient form of learning that develops within a student the Artes Liberalis, or the arts of the free man, and, seating him before the greatest figures produced by Western Civilization where he imbibes their accomplishments in their own idiom, equips him intellectually with the creative genius by which many of history's most difficult problems were solved and the greatest advances achieved;
    –– a form of learning which was rediscovered during the time of the Renaissance, and was systematized by Luther, Melanchthon, Sturm and others, as the general system of education for the German people, in order that the Reformation – a doctrinal reformation – would continue, and which was eventually adopted everywhere in Europe and in early colonial America;
    –– and the form of education by which Western Civilization had been passed on to successive generations, to which each generation added its own accomplishments, and by which Western Civilization advanced.
The Great Tradition, known today as Classical Education, was the system of education that was crushed by the Educational Revolution of John Dewey, the utopian Industrialists who financed him desiring instead a labor pool of workers that were trained (not necessarily educated) in the Artes Servilis, or the arts of the slave. Those essays can be found by following the link, Classical Education, which is also a search label for this blog.

Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education
Many readers will also be aware of the fact that I have been an enthusiastic advocate of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education (CCLE). Having been a member of this organization for nearly ten years, and having attended its annual Conferences nearly every year, I remain convinced that the true brain-trust in Lutheran education is to be found among them. I know of nowhere else where a genuinely Lutheran ideology of education, that isn't mashed up and ruined with post-Modern drivel, is even attempted, nor of any truly compelling source of Lutheran educational ideology today, outside of the work of this organization, outside of the truly exciting rediscovery of The Great Tradition and efforts to reimplement it, in which the CCLE is engaged.

What many readers may not know is that, as parents of seven children, my wife and I have been committed Home Educators for well over a decade. My wife herself a graduate of home school, we were in agreement even before marriage – even while I was a graduate student studying Education at a public university – that we would educate our children in the home, and, already having adopted it in theory, that we would follow the ideology of Classical Education. Our life together from the beginning had this objective in view. Thus today, in addition to being a full time homemaker and wife, between the two of us Elizabeth being the true intellect, she is also Head Mistress of our “home-based educational program” (as we are obliged to refer to it in the State of Wisconsin), and lives the life she had dreamed of as a girl, and for which she prepared herself in college.
One Sunday after Church - a recent photo
Sunday after Church
A Recent Photo
Her full time vocations as mother, wife and educator, being altogether as prodigious as they are (especially with seven children), we have very selectively sought supplemental assistance in the latter of these, especially for our older children whose subjects grow more demanding with each passing year.

We have been very pleased with the educational services of Wittenberg Academy, in this regard. This online school was started by Justin and Jocelyn Benson several years ago as an overtly Lutheran source of Classical Education, and today, after several years of hard work, they can boast (although I think they may be too humble to boast...) of having a highly qualified staff of teachers delivering an impressive array of course offerings, to those desiring supplemental coursework for their children (whether Home Educators like us, or otherwise), as well as to those who've enrolled their children in Wittenberg's fulltime high school degree program.

Even though I had been acquainted with the Bensons through our mutual association with the CCLE over the years, and with our children's involvement in Wittenberg Academy, I was still rather surprised to be asked by them to lead a discussion group last April, at their first annual Wittenberg Academy Family Retreat. We had been registered for some time already, were planning to attend, and were looking forward to taking in Dr. Ryan MacPherson's three-part presentation on Vocation, entitled Discovering Your Vocations in the Family, Church, and Society. We had met Dr. MacPherson and his wife several years ago, and though having only infrequently corresponded with him via email since then, we have always been interested in his work, and eager to read and hear what he has to say. A Professor of American History at Bethany Lutheran College, Dr. MacPherson is also President of the Hausvater Project – an organization that "seeks to equip Christian men and women for distinctive and complementary vocations in family, church, and society, by fostering research and education in light of Holy Scripture as proclaimed by the Lutheran Confessions." It was under the auspices of the Hausvater Project that he delivered the plenary sessions at the Family Retreat.

Wittenberg Academy
Seal of the Wittenberg Academy
What was requested of me, however, was that I compose a list of ten questions concerning the vocation of fatherhood and the unique challenges faced by concientious Christian fathers in our own post-Modern era, along with a bullet-pointed summary of an approximately 15 minute introduction that would preceed the 45 minute discussion that I would lead and moderate. The questions, along with the bullet-pointed summary, was to fit on a single sheet of paper, and would be handed out to those in attendance (and I made sure that only one single sheet was necessary, as long as the printer was capable of half-inch margins and could print on both sides of the paper!). In addition to the obvious challenges of rearing sons and preparing them for a lifetime of Christian adulthood (of holding on to their faith in a world that desperately seeks to rob them of it; of avoiding the pitfalls of sexual immorality and of seeking, instead, his own "lifelong helpmeet"; etc.), the specific context of the issues addressed in these questions was that of family entrepreneurialism and of re-introducing the father's role as mentor in this regard – which I interpreted as the role of equipping his sons with a trade, of training them for a life of entrepreneurialism, and modeling for them Christian business practices. In addition to the handout, I composed an approximately eight-page essay as background to those questions focusing on marraige and entrepreneurialism, invoking Natural Law to establish the relationship of the Natural Family to Property Ownership and entrepreneurialism, its importance to the continuance of political Liberty and American Society, and the vital role of a Liberal Arts education to this end. Far too long to read in only 15 minutes, I read only excerpts before proceeding to the discussion. Afterwards, Dr. MacPherson asked if he might have a copy of the essay to go along with the handout, consolidate them, and publish the result on the website of the Hausvater Project. Somewhat flattered, I obliged; and in July he posted his adaptation of those two works on the Hausvater Project, under the title, The Father as Mentor to His Sons: 10 Topics for Man-to-Man Discussion. I think Dr. MacPherson did a fine job of consolidating the handout and the essay, into the single concise article he produced for the Hausvater Project; and given that today is Labor Day here in the United States, and that the thoughts expressed in that brief work closely pertain to the Vocation of Fatherhood, and address the post-Modern challenges faced by today's Christian fathers, I thought it would be appropriate to preface it here on Intrepid Lutherans, and share a link to the article that he posted. For those interested in reading it, I also include, below, the Topic Headings he gave to each question:

The Father as Mentor to His Sons: 10 Topics for Man-to-Man Discussion
by Douglas Lindee
  1. Fatherhood and Society
  2. The Priority of Mentoring
  3. Home Catechesis
  4. Roles of Fathers and Mothers
  5. Modeling a Christian Marriage
  6. Recognizing Genuine Beauty
  7. Industriousness
  8. Diligence
  9. Entrepreneurship
  10. Generosity

Monday, July 4, 2016

When the Government Forbids Orthodox Pastors to Christian Congregations: The Sad Story of America’s First Lutheran Colonists

Last year, our Fourth of July post, The Lutheran Conception of a Christian Commonwealth according to King Gustavus Adolphus, and its Mighty Impact on the Formation of our Great Republic, and on the State of Pennsylvania in particular, recounted the happy history of Swedish Lutheran colonists who originally settled New Sweden – an area that is now Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware – under a Charter devised by the beloved Swedish King, Gustavus Adolphus, prior to his grizzly death at the Battle of Lützen in 1632, and later carried out by his successor, Axel Ostenstiern. A pious Lutheran aggrieved by the plight of Christians in the face of State sponsored religious persecution, who fought gallantly in the name of Religious Liberty, and died as a victorious leader in its cause, his plan for a colony in the New World, which would guarantee and protect the Fundamental Rights of the people, was defended by him for almost a decade as
    “a Free State, where the laborer should reap the fruit of his toil, where the Rights of Conscience should be inviolate, and which should be open to the whole Protestant world... [where] all should be secure in their persons, their property, and their Rights of Conscience... [and] should be an asylum for the persecuted of all nations.”
Under the plan of the Lutheran King, Gustavus Adolphus, the Swedes of New Sweden paved the way for the Quaker, William Penn, who would receive credit for most of the work they had accomplished under the plan of Gustavus Adolphus, prior to Penn’s arrival.

Although gratifying in some respect, last year’s post may have been disturbing, if not offensive, to today’s American Confessional Lutheran, whose germano-centric Lutheran universe may have him so deluded as to think that all positive Lutheran accomplishments must be only of direct German origin. Today’s post will heap coals upon those suffering such bigoted delusions; for the first Lutheran colonists in America were not German, nor were they Scandinavian: they were Dutch Lutherans. Yes. Lutherans in the Netherlands having been the first Protestants to obtain the crown of martyrdom, Lutherans from the same country were the first Protestants in America to have the honor of suffering solely for their religious opinions. In fact, Germany did not even have the sea-faring capability to mount colonizing expeditions to the New World, even in the 17th Century.

In a 19th Century history of The Lutherans in America, published in 1889, and endorsed by Henry Eyster Jacobs of the General Council, we read the sad story of Dutch Lutherans who traveled to America, and, although in Calvinist Holland nevertheless permitted the free exercise of Conscience, were forbidden such exercise in the Dutch colonies run by the Holland West India Company in New Amsterdam (New York) and Beverswycke (Albany). Not for a few years, but for a full generation, the Dutch Lutherans were forbidden, by name, the public exercise of religious Conscience, and were thus also forbidden a pastor by the governing authorities.

More than reading their sad story, however, we also learn a lesson from these Dutch Lutheran laymen. They publicly resisted. For a full generation. Forbidden public exercise of their religion, required to worship in the manner of the Calvinists, they refused to join them in worship, and instead held services in their homes. That’s right. These Lutherans, absent an orthodox pastor, did “home church” instead – a big no-no in today’s confessional Lutheran circles. At one point, all colonists were required to have their children baptized in the Reformed Churches, and to swear an oath to raise their children in the Reformed Confession. These Dutch Lutherans refused, and, it seems, baptized their children in their own homes as part of their regular worship.

More than mere resistance, however, we must emphasize that such resistance was not carried out in secret, but was known to the authorities, as these Lutherans continued to publicly defend evangelical Christianity and their Right of Free Conscience, openly writing petitions to be granted a pastor of their own Confession. Their continued practice of “home church,” flouted before the authorities, resulted in "anti-Conventicle" laws being passed in the Dutch colonies – laws which were openly disobeyed by the Dutch Lutherans. Theirs was not the practice of Lutheran Quietism, which is so popular today.

Eventually – after the Dutch colony on Manhattan Island had been without a Lutheran pastor for almost 35 years – the Classis of Amsterdam was persuaded to send the Lutherans a pastor of their own Confession. Upon his arrival, he was ordered by the colonial government to be returned on the same ship on which he had arrived, and forbidden to carry out the duties of his Office. Ten years later, another pastor would be sent – an angry drunk who was forcibly removed by the Dutch Lutherans themselves, after what must have been three long years. He was replaced by a third man, who, by all accounts, was a faithful servant of the Word. After almost fifty years since the founding of the Dutch colony in New Amsterdam and Beverswycke, the Lutherans there finally had a pastor, and finally enjoyed Freedom of Conscience. In the end, God brought this about through the use of tumultuous political events.

When governments and societies wage war against Christian conscience, the Lutheran Way has always been to openly resist, meeting our opponents on the battlefield of wits, wielding the Sword of Truth, publicly confessing with the mouth and the pen. Are American Christians prepared for a generation – or more – of open steadfast resistance in the face of continuous persecution? Do we have the fortitude, and the stamina, to undergo and endure it? Can we laymen survive without orthodox pastors, while waging battle after battle with the authorities, like these Dutch Lutherans did?



The Earliest Lutherans in America
Chapter Four of Rev. Edmund Jacob Wolf’s The Lutherans in America, 1889.

To the devout historian it was a notable coincidence that just at the time that Martin Luther was born into the world, Christopher Columbus was seized with the conviction that Heaven had commissioned him to discover a new world, and to find a new domain for the Christian Church. It devolved upon him, he believed in his heart, to plant the standard of the cross upon shores, concerning whose existence men had then as little knowledge as they had of the possibility of a Church of Christ outside the barriers of the Roman hierarchy. It was in 1483, the year of Luther’s birth, that the discoverer of America found for the first time an opportunity of laying his daring and visionary enterprise before a European court. And nine years later, while Luther was being taught in the schools of Mansfeldt the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, and was often unmercifully beaten by the schoolmaster, Christopher Columbus, after breaking the silence of ages over the trackless waters, offers the first Christian worship in this western world, falling upon his knees, and with tears of joy, giving thanks to God, kissing the new earth which He had given him, and consecrating it to His glory by naming the first islands discovered San Salvador and Santa Trinidata. (Click here for Part I of a history of the Life of Martin Luther, which contains links to Parts II and III following)

And just as all Europe is quaking from the commotion which the revived faith of the Gospel had produced, Hernán Cortés is marching his little band of heroic Spaniards into the gates of Mexico, overthrowing the most powerful tribes of the Aborigines, and opening the way for the conquest of the New World by the Missionaries of the Cross.

But heaven could not consent that the debased type of Christianity, which was represented by the bigoted and cruel Spaniards, and which was about to be overwhelmed in Europe by the outburst of a new life in the Church, should appropriate this virgin soil. This must be reserved for the spread and the sway of a purer faith. The inestimable treasures of truth, which had just been recovered from the debris of ages, were destined to find here a theater for their fullest expansion and for the unfolding of their noblest products. What a miscarriage of history it would have been, had a system, staggering under the fatal blows of the manifest hand of Providence, seized at the very crisis a new continent for its baleful triumphs. God never meant America to become Roman Catholic. This land was to be the home of the free. That power which has always been the enemy of freedom was not to acquire here an opportunity for strangling the genius of liberty when it took refuge in this western world.

The Gospel, in the glorious revelation it makes of the dignity of the human soul and the equality and brotherhood of all men, is the mighty liberator, and here it was foreordained to have a sphere, untrammeled by chains or bars, for creating a nation of freemen. It is from these shores that liberty is destined to enlighten the world. Roman Catholic governments, with their maritime ascendancy at the time, might serve as agents in the discovery and exploration of this vast continent, they might open the way across the sea for the grand march of colonization and immigration, but the establishment of institutions must be left to the hands of men who had learned in the school of Luther, who had imbibed the doctrines of the Reformation, and who knew to lay the foundations of a republic in which the Freedom of Conscience and the rights of the individual should be forever secure. An insolent and infamous Pope, Alexander VI, by a solemn decree gave, indeed, the whole New World to Spain, but one greater than the Pope gave it to a people who along with Luther had renounced all papal authority. Alexander’s infallibility must, about this time, have been nodding.

It is certainly noteworthy that while for a period of more than a hundred years after the discovery of this continent, the Roman Catholics of Spain and France and Portugal were planting their settlements and missionary stations over a vast area, extending from Florida to California, they were not permitted by Providence to lay the foundation on which the permanent institutions of a mighty Empire were to be erected. Their ideas and principles so far from leaving a permanent impress upon this country, contributed so little to the formation of its government that even the existence of these settlements is unknown except to the student of history.

Speaking of the Spaniards, Bryant, in his history remarks: “Fortunately for the progress of the human race and the future history of North America, all their efforts to gain a permanent foothold north of the Gulf of Mexico were in the main unsuccessful” (A popular history of the United States [1876]). And another eminent American historian, Dr. Dorchester, observes: “While thirst for gold, lust of power and love of daring adventure served the providential purpose of opening the New World to papal Europe, and Roman Catholic colonies were successfully planted in some portions, the territory originally comprised within the United States was mysteriously guarded and reserved for another – a prepared people” (Christianity in the United States from the First Settlement Down to the Present Time [1889]) – a people brought forth in the pangs of the Reformation, possessed of new ideas and loftier aims and intended by Providence to found in the New World a great Christian Republic, one of the mightiest agencies in human progress (Click here for a partial bibliography of works by Dr. Dorchester).

While the first Protestant colonists owed their religious faith and their convictions of civil polity to the Lutheran Reformation, the true adherents of the Lutheran Church could not, in the nature of things, take the leading part in the early settlement of this country. England and the Netherlands, and in some measure Sweden, were in the seventeenth century the only maritime nations among the Protestants of Europe, the only powers, accordingly, that were prepared to establish colonies beyond the sea. “The Reformation,” says Bancroft, “followed by collisions between English Dissenters and the Anglican Hierarchy colonized New England. The Reformation emancipating the United Provinces, led to European settlements on the Hudson” (History of the United States of America, Vol II [1888]).

But although debarred through lack of commercial equipments from having the ascendancy in the original colonization of America, it was in accordance with the fitness of things that Lutherans should form an element in some of the earliest Protestant settlements. Providence has in many instances employed them as the leaven where others held the more conspicuous place of the loaf. Their scriptural faith, their intelligence, their industry, thrift and sturdy moral principles constitute, it is well known, invaluable factors in a liberal and prosperous state, and it may be attributed to Providence that the earliest settlement of Lutherans in this land is almost coincident with its permanent settlement.

The first representatives of the Lutheran Church in this country came notably, not from Germany, the home of Lutheranism, but from Holland, the land which during the Reformation furnished the first martyrs for the evangelical faith, an event which called forth Luther’s well-known hymn “Ein neues Lied wir heben an,” said to have been his earliest hymnological composition. Although the Reformation in Holland assumed at an early period an extreme Calvinistic type, prosperous congregations of Lutherans maintained themselves in different parts of the country, the strongest of them being the Church at Amsterdam which afterward became “the foster mother of the Dutch Lutheran congregations in New York and New Jersey.” There is no evidence of their suffering persecution from the State Church prior to the rise of the Arminian party. From that time on, although they had no sympathy with Arminian doctrines, yet as they had along with their brethren in other lands always stoutly repudiated the extreme tenets of Calvinism, they became involved in the bitter and relentless persecution of the Arminians which followed the Synod of Dort in 1618. Intolerance did not stop to make any distinctions among the opponents of rigorous Calvinism, and Lutherans fell a prey to the same religious fury which beheaded a Barneveldt and imprisoned a Grotius.

To what extent their sufferings for conscience’ sake had a part in leading them to embark with others of their countrymen for the New World is not known, neither have we any evidence of opposition being offered to their coming. It seems quite probable that the religious oppressions as well as the political commotions which held sway in their native land, prompted them to go beyond the seas in quest of peace and worldly prosperity, if not primarily for the sake of religious freedom. Some of them appear, at all events, to have come with the first Dutch colony which in 1623 occupied Manhattan Island, the territory now comprised in the city of New York.

The prospect of commercial advantages had led the Holland West India Company to found this colony, and but little concern was consequently manifested for the religious interests of the settlers. At least five years elapsed before the first minister of the Reformed Church, Jonas Michaelius, came over and assumed pastoral care at New Amsterdam.

How early the Lutheran settlers took steps to organize a congregation or to celebrate worship according to the order of their Church, cannot be clearly determined, but when they moved to have the service of their own precious faith they at once encountered strong and persistent opposition from the Reformed, who represented the State Church of the fatherland.

And the first picture of Lutherans in America is that of a noble band suffering persecution: Lutherans in the Netherlands having been the first Protestants to obtain the crown of martyrdom, Lutherans from the same country were now destined to be the first Protestants in America to have the honor of suffering solely for their religious opinions. For although the English Calvinists in Massachusetts were engaged in whipping and hanging Quakers and banishing Baptists at the same time that the Dutch Calvinists were fining and imprisoning Lutherans on the Hudson, it is pretty clearly established now that Roger Williams, Ann Hutchinson, and the Quakers generally, who were so obnoxious to the Puritans, were not made to suffer for their religious views so much as for their disturbance of civil order, their menace to the peace and stability of the colony, their dangerous political tenets and their wanton defiance of the constituted civil authority. The Lutherans, on the other hand, never in all history employed their religious teachings for the subversion of government. They never figured as political agitators, and the little band on Manhattan Island sought only the enjoyment of their spiritual rights under their own vine and fig-tree.



In a section of his well-regarded monograph defending confessionalism against the charge of abrogating private judgment, by demonstrating that common confession is nothing other than private judgment held in common, Charles Porterfield Krauth eloquently distinguishes the Lutheran Confession from all other major Christian confessions in regard to the misuse of the State by heterodox confessions for religious purposes, while forcefully asserting the right of the Church to defend herself from heresy through moral rather than physical means:
    It is the doctrine of the Reformation, not that there should be no checks upon the abuse of private judgment, but that those checks should be moral alone. The Romanists and un-Lutheran elements in the Reformation were agreed, that the truth must be maintained and heresy extirpated by the sword of government. Error is in affinity with the spirit of persecution. The first blood shed within the Christian Church, for opinion’s sake, was shed by the deniers of the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Arians. So strong was the feeling in the primitive Church against violence toward errorists, that not a solitary instance occurs of capital punishment for heresy in its earlier era. The Bishops of Gaul, who ordered the execution of the Priscillianists – though the lives of these errorists were as immoral as their teachings were abominable, were excluded from the communion of the Church. As the Western Church grew corrupt, it grew more and more a persecuting Church, till it became drunken with the blood of the saints. The maxims and spirit of persecution went over to every part of the Churches of the Reformation, except the Lutheran Church. Ulrich Zwingli countenanced the penalty of death for heresy. What was the precise share of Calvin in the burning of Servetus is greatly mooted; but two facts are indisputable. One is, that, before the unhappy errorist took his fatal journey, John Calvin wrote, that, if Michael Servetus came to Geneva, he should not leave it alive, if his authority availed anything; the other is, that, after the burning of Servetus, Calvin wrote his dissertation defending the right of the magistrate to put heretics to death (1554). The Romish and Calvinistic writers stand as one man for the right and duty of magistrates to punish heresy with death, over against Luther and the entire body of our theologians, who maintain, without an exception, that heresy is never to be punished with death. The Reformed portion of Protestantism has put to death, at different times and in different ways, not only Romanists and Anabaptists, but its terrible energies have been turned into civil strife, and Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Independents put each other to death, especially in the great civil wars of England, whose origin was largely religious... The Lutheran Church alone, of all the great Churches that have had the power to persecute, has not upon her skirts one drop of blood shed for opinion’s sake. The glorious words of Luther were: “The pen, not the fire, is to put down heretics. The hangmen are not doctors of theology. This is not the place for force. Not the sword, but the Word, fits for this battle. If the Word does not put down error, error would stand, though the world were drenched with blood.”

    By these just views, centuries in advance of the prevalent views, the Lutheran Church has stood, and will stand forever. But she is none the less earnest in just modes of shielding herself and her children from the teachings of error, which takes cover under the pretense of private judgment. She would not burn Servetus, nor, for opinion’s sake, touch a hair of his head; neither, however, would she permit him to bear her name, to “preach another Jesus” in her pulpits, to teach error in her Universities, or to approach with her children the table of their Lord, whom he denied. Her name, her confessions, her history, her very being, protest against the supposition of such “fellowship with the works of darkness,” such sympathy with heresy, such levity in regard to the faith. She never practiced thus. She never can do it. Those who imagine that the right of private judgment is the right of men, within the Lutheran Church, and bearing her hallowed name, to teach what they please in the face of her testimony, know not the nature of the right they claim, nor of the Church, whose very life involves her refusal to have fellowship with them in their error. It is not the right of private judgment which makes or marks a man Lutheran. A man may have the right to judge, and be a simpleton, as he may have the right to get rich, yet may remain a beggar. It is the judgment he reaches in exercising that right which determines what he is. By his abuse of the “inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” a man may make himself a miserable slave. The Right of Property Ownership belongs as much to the man who makes himself a beggar as to the man who has become a millionaire. Rights, in themselves, give nothing, and cannot change the nature of things. The right to to gather, gathers nothing; and if, under this right, the man gathers wood, hay, or stubble, neither the right nor its exercise makes them into gold, silver, and precious stones. The Church will not put any violence upon him who chooses to gather what will not endure the fire; but she will not accept them as jewels, nor permit her children to be cheated with them. The right of private judgment and the right of Church discipline are co-ordinate and harmonious rights, essential to the prevention, each of the abuse of the other. To uphold either intelligently, is to to uphold both. In maintaining, therefore, as Protestants, the right and duty of men, in the exercise of private judgment, to form their own convictions, unfettered by civil penalties in the State, or by inquisitorial powers in the Church, we maintain, also, the right and duty of the Church to shield herself from corruption in doctrine by setting forth the Truth in her Confession, by faithfully controverting heresy, by personal warning to those that err, and, finally, with the contumacious, by rejecting them from her communion, till, through grace, they are led to see and renounce the falsehood, for which they claimed the name of truth.

    (Krauth, C.P. (1871). The Conservative Reformation and its Theology. Philadelphia: Lippincott. pp.173-175)



The first distinct mention of the Lutherans at New Amsterdam is from the pen of the Jesuit Missionary, Isaac Jogues, whom the Dutch had rescued from captivity among the Iroquois, and who spent the time from August, 1642, to November, 1643, in the colony. He says: “No religion is publicly exercised but the Calvinist, and orders are to admit none but Calvinists, but this is not observed, for there are beside Calvinists, in the colony, English Puritans, Lutherans, Anabaptists, here called Minists” (Mennonites).

The opposition to Lutheran worship appears to have been for awhile not so inexorable as to drive them from the colony or to prevent their assembling in private dwellings where religious services after the Lutheran form were conducted by one of their number. The little band in the wilderness, without bishop or priest, formed with God’s Word a true Church of Christ. They had a bitter grievance in connection with the baptism of their children. This sacrament had to be administered by the Reformed pastor who required of sponsors a profession of faith which to a Lutheran conscience must have been, to say the least, unsatisfactory and compromising.

The settlement of Rev. John Megapolensis as pastor of the Reformed Church of New Amsterdam, in 1649, was the signal of more rigorous measures against the Lutherans and all non-conformists. The congregation considered itself capable of maintaining a pastor and desired to call one from Holland, formally petitioning Governor Stuyvesant for the privilege of worshiping publicly in a church by themselves. The resistance offered by the Reformed pastors against this petition was so strenuous, that the Governor, who was himself a zealous Calvinist, refused his permission “for the reason that he was bound by his oath to tolerate openly no other religion than the Reformed.”

The Lutherans hereupon addressed themselves to the West India Company and to the Home Government. The Reformed Pastors made a counter-appeal to the Classis of Amsterdam, to which had been entrusted the office of supervision of ecclesiastical affairs in America, urging the dangerous consequences of making such concessions to the Lutherans, and entreating them to prevent their being made. It would be a dangerous precedent.

The instructions which came from Holland in response to these appeals, were “that they would encourage no other doctrine in New Netherlands than the true Reformed.” No violence, indeed, was sanctioned, but it was made incumbent on the Governor “to use all moderate exertions to allure the Lutherans to the Dutch Churches and to matriculate them in the Public Reformed religion.” The tolerance granted them in the fatherland is to be denied in free America, and this document, bearing date February 26, 1654, expresses the hope that the Reformed Religion would now “be preserved and maintained without hindrance from the Lutherans and other errors.”

The Lutherans have somehow always been considered a “hindrance” by their sister churches. They have always stood in their way. Their presence has been dreaded as a menace to sectarian ascendancy and an obstruction to sacerdotal power. Their popular worship, their evangelical doctrine, their childlike faith and spiritual freedom can never hope for a welcome among those who are still partial to the bonds of legalism and who look to works as well as to faith as a condition to salvation. Standing midway between the sensualizing ceremonials and dogmas of Rome and the pronounced subjectivity of the Reformed system, a position rendered impregnable by history as well as by the Scriptures, the Lutheran Church is no more likely to command favor with the denominations of the Reformed type than with the papal communion. Happily she has vitality enough not to be dependent on this favor. Woe to her if she ever courts it at the expense of her principles.

Sustained by the ecclesiastical authorities of the mother country, the Calvinist Governor of New Amsterdam and his intolerant preachers now resolved on crushing out the Lutherans. Failing in the effort “to allure” them into the Dutch churches, and by this means to absorb them, as they had been instructed by the Directors, they resolved that resort must be had to penalties and imprisonments. Persecution must be tried where persuasion failed. Parents were henceforth required on presenting their children for baptism to profess their belief in the doctrines of the Synod of Dort, the most extreme deliverances ever put forth by Calvinism, and they must even promise to train up their children in the same – that is, to teach their offspring tenets which in their hearts they abhorred, knowing them to be contrary to the Gospel. Rome never did greater violence to the conscience, never showed stronger determination to force error into the minds of the unwilling. Resistance to these oppressive and sinful demands was followed by arrest, by fines, and in default of payment the recusants were thrown into prison. They must by force be made to conform to Calvinism.

Steadfast in their convictions and with the courage of martyrs the Lutherans persisted in having their assemblies for worship, and as their numbers, in spite of their persecutions, were continually increasing and their spirit growing more resolute and defiant, the wrath of the Reformed Pastors became more bitter and violent. They lodged complaint with the Governor against their “Conventicles,” as meetings for worship not authorized by the government were then called. Such meetings, they claimed, were sure to breed disorder in Church and State, and they succeeded in having him issue a proclamation “for the promotion of the glory of God, the increase of the Reformed Religion,” etc., forbidding the holding of conventicles not in harmony with the established religion, as set forth by the Synod of Dort. A fine of one hundred Flemish pounds was imposed for every violation of this ordinance by the preaching of a sermon, and twenty-five pounds on all persons guilty of meeting in private dwellings for the purpose of worshiping together. The penalty for preaching the Gospel was accordingly one hundred pounds, the penalty for hearing it twenty-five pounds. Lutheran services, even in private houses were thus absolutely suppressed. Mennonites and Quakers shared with Lutherans the honors and the horrors of these persecutions, but the published placard at Albany (then Beverswycke), specifically singled out the Lutheran congregation there as the particular object of this prohibition of worship.



Note that this state-sponsored prohibition of “Conventicles” in America occurs decades prior to Philipp Jakob Spener’s publication of Pia Desideria (1675). Following the rise of Pietism that resulted (a hallmark of which was the “Conventicle”), governments in Europe enacted anti-Conventicle laws, in part due to a peculiar form of millennial teaching espoused by some pietists which motivated them to subversive political activity. One can read more about this, and some other aspects of German and Haugean Pietism, and their impact on American Lutheranism, in an early pair of Intrepid Lutheran blog posts from 2010: Lay Ministry: A Continuing Legacy of Pietism and C.F.W. Walther on the Layman’s Role in the Congregation’s Ministry.



The Lutheran people were not dismayed, nor disposed to surrender their precious rights to worship God according to the faith of their Church. They now had recurrence to their brethren in Holland and sought especially their intervention with the authorities of the established Church, with the Directors of the West India Company and with the States General, in regard to their grievances, entreating that there might be granted them, “the united members of the Church of the unaltered Augsburg Confession,” the same tolerance and right of worship here which the Lutherans enjoyed in Holland, and that an ordained minister of their faith might be sent over “to instruct them and take care of their souls.” A more favorable response was now vouchsafed. The “overprecise” and oppressive measures of Stuyvesant were rebuked, a more liberal policy was enjoined as being indeed indispensable to the promotion of emigration. The doctrine of the unaltered Augsburg Confession should have the same toleration in the New Netherlands which was accorded it in the fatherland and a pastor for them, it was promised, would arrive the following spring. After this these persecuted people certainly had reason to hope that they would no longer be denied the privileges of their religion, and in most humble terms they implored Stuyvesant to allow them at least the service of sacred reading and singing. But the Reformed pastors were only exasperated by the orders of the West India Company to adopt a milder and more Christian course of conduct. They were inexorable, and in defiance of these orders secured the continuance of oppressive measures and the further prohibition of conventicles until they could once more communicate with the home authorities. And they forthwith renewed their “importunities with their friends in the Classis of Amsterdam, to save them from so terrible an evil as the establishment of a Lutheran Church in the pious colony of New Netherlands.”

Notwithstanding the implacable and indefatigable opposition of the clerical bigots in New Amsterdam, and to their infinite chagrin and dismay, the long-suffering Lutherans had in June, 1657, the inexpressible joy of welcoming their promised pastor. It was the Rev. John Ernest Goetwater, who was the first Lutheran minister to visit the banks of the Hudson. He had been sent out by the Lutheran Consistory of Amsterdam to minister to their suffering brethren in the New Netherlands, two congregations having been by this time organized, one at New Amsterdam (New York), and one at Beverswycke (Albany).

The reception accorded by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities to this servant of Christ, coming into this vast wilderness on the sole peaceful mission of dispensing the Gospel to humble souls whose cry had gone across the sea, was infamous not to say inhuman, and, even for that day, without the shadow or an excuse or extenuation. And it is strange that while every popular history expatiates on the wrongs endured by the Quakers and Baptists of Massachusetts about this same time, so little reference is made to the more cruel, unrelenting and utterly indefensible persecutions inflicted upon the Lutherans on the Hudson. This anomaly may in a measure be accounted for by the quiet patience with which, according to the spirit of Christianity, they bore their sufferings, seeking redress with the general government rather than resorting to reckless agitation or revolution.

An impartial historian, Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan, gives the following account: “Religious excitement now took the place of political... The Dutch clergymen immediately informed the authorities. Dominie Goetwater was cited before them and forbidden to exercise his Calling. Messrs. Megapolensis and Drisius demanded that he should be sent back to Holland in the same ship in which he had arrived. He was ordered to quit the Province accordingly. Sickness, however, prevented his compliance with this harsh and unchristian mandate. He was therefore put ‘on the limits of the city,’ and finally forced to embark for Holland,” which decree went into execution October 16, the Lutherans protesting in vain (History of New Netherland, Vol I & Vol II [1846]).

Though not allowed to conduct any public services, the presence of a pastor for several months among the distressed and desolate flock of Lutherans, must have in various ways proved a blessing to them. It is doubtful, as he was not allowed to exercise his Calling, whether he could even baptize their children, as the law required these to be presented by their parents in the Reformed Church, and he was closely watched with the suspicion and fear bred of bigotry, yet he could not be prevented from visiting the people at their homes, holding domestic worship with them and in personal ministrations offering them the counsels and consolations of the Gospel. For even this boon the hearts of Lutheran confessors would feel unutterably grateful.

Their bitter persecutors were neither ashamed of their heartless procedure, nor content with the success of the efforts they had instigated to prevent the settlement of a Lutheran Pastor. An exulting report of it must be forwarded to the home authorities. In this they glory in their shame and gloat over the triumph by which it was crowned at the hands of the provincial government. No Lutheran minister should be allowed to preach the faith of the Reformation within the limits of their jurisdiction, nor even by his presence to pollute this soil sacred to Calvinism. This report, dated August 6, 1657, is preserved in Volume III of the “Documentary History of New York,” pages 103—108, and is an interesting specimen of the malignant spirit of persecution. It is addressed to the Classis of Amsterdam, “fathers and brothers in Christ Jesus.” It acknowledges their fatherly care “and the trouble taken by them to prevent the injuries which threaten this community from the encroachments of heretical spirits.” “We being animated and cheered by your letters,” it proceeds to state, “hoped for the best, though dreading the worst, which even now has arrived, to the especial discontent and disapprobation of the congregation of this place, yea of the whole land, even of the English.” “We have already the snake in our bosom.” They certainly had not warmed it. “We demanded also that the noble Lord’s Regent should send the Lutheran minister back in the same ship in which he arrived... in order to put a stop to their work, which they seemed disposed to push forward with a hard Lutheran pate.” To their credit be it recorded these malign zealots had some appreciation of the qualities of a Lutheran head, which may have been one cause of their consternation when a Lutheran minister set foot on Manhattan.

The Dutch West India Company, whatever may have been its previous concessions or promises to the Lutherans, evidently approved of the expulsion of Pastor Goetwater, and absorbed as they were in commercial pursuits and caring little for the interests of religion, they now declined to allow them any other privileges beyond “permission for individuals to pray and read the scriptures” – a slight improvement on Romish persecution – and the pastors of the Reformed were enjoined to so modify the baptismal formulary as to remove the greatest grievance complained of by the Lutherans, and to adopt in general a policy of moderation so that they might in time be “gained over.” The real ground of hostility to the Lutherans was apparently the fact that they would not unite with the dominant Church, an objection to them that has possibly not yet lost its force in some communities. Warning was, however, also given to these over-zealous pastors that “if their present course were persisted in, a separate Church must be allowed to the Lutherans.”

The death blow must have fallen upon the Lutheran Church in New Netherlands, one would suppose, when their pastor immediately upon his arrival was forcibly driven from the country. But with an irrepressible faith and that “hard Lutheran pate” they maintained some form of an organization despite the severe disabilities and oppressions under which they labored. In November, 1660, we read that “the Lutherans were promoting a subscription for a clergyman of their own.” A petition addressed to Governor Colden, in 1763, affirms that at the time New Amsterdam passed under English control, in 1664, “the Lutheran congregation was in organized existence and enjoyed the benefits of the terms of the compact made” – a claim which was admitted by the Colonial authorities. They based upon this their right to a charter and perfect toleration, in accordance with the terms of capitulation made by the English with the Dutch governor, whereby all their religious privileges were guaranteed to the inhabitants of the Province.

The Directors of the West India Company, realizing that the oppressive measures which had been employed were proving detrimental to the prosperity of the colony, resolved in April, 1663, on pursuing a more liberal and Christian policy. They administered a severe rebuke to Stuyvesant for the violence which had been offered to the consciences and rights of subjects in his colony and put an end once for all to persecution in New Netherland. About a year after the arrival of this decree, a British fleet appeared before New Amsterdam and the rule of the doughty Knickerbocker himself, as well as of persecution, came to a sudden termination.

It is the judgment of Dr. William Morton Reynolds (President Capital University [1850-1854] and Carthage College [1858-1862]) that the Lutherans proceeded with the erection of a house of worship in 1663, immediately upon learning of the changed policy of the Directors, but Dr. Beale Melanchthon Schmucker says: “The first proof I have found of any action connected with the erection of the first church is in June, 1671, when certain dissatisfied members were compelled to pay subscriptions made for that purpose.” These subscriptions, it is more than likely had been made some years previous, the protracted delay quite naturally giving rise to dissatisfaction.

Whenever it was built, this first church stood, for some reason, “on ground without the gate of the city” and, of a piece with the singular succession of adversities which so long harassed and tried the Lutheran Church in New York city, there came subsequently, during the brief restoration of the power of Holland, 1673-74, an order from Governor Colve that it must be torn down. The pretext offered for this destruction was that this building along with some others outside the wall interfered with the necessary defenses of the place, and this plea would, perhaps, not be disputed, but for the inflexible hostility which the Reformed colonists had for half a century borne to their Lutheran brethren. The property so destroyed was to be valued by impartial persons, lots of equal value within the city were to be conveyed to the owners, and reimbursement allowed for the loss of buildings. Of the exact location of this first church no evidence is to be found.

Stuyvesant Surrenders to the British, 1664
Governor Stuyvesant Surrenders to the British, 1664
Soon after the whole colony had passed into the hands of the English government, application was made by the Lutherans to Colonel Nicholls, the governor, for permission to call a minister of their Confession from Europe, which application was promptly granted “by an act under his hand and seal.” The successor of Nicholls, Lord Lovelace, made subsequently public proclamation that James, the Duke of York, had communicated to him by letter his pleasure that the Lutherans should be tolerated, but added also “as long as his Royal Highness shall not order otherwise.”

For some reason, unknown to us, a number of Dutch Lutherans saw fit to withdraw from Manhattan Island, shortly after it passed under the government of the British, and they formed a settlement on James Island, southwest of the Ashley River, in South Carolina. They were at that time the only adherents of the Lutheran Church in the Carolinas. Their industry is said to have triumphed over incredible hardships, but of their spiritual progress nothing is known beyond their sturdy protest against the impious and impudent bigotry, which in 1704, established the Church of England in the two Carolinas and provided for its support from the public treasury. The shameless injustice of such legislation, when the Episcopalians had but a single church in the Province, while the “Dissenters” had three in Charleston and one in the country, was resented by the people of other creeds, and they made common cause in endeavoring to obtain its repeal, the Lutherans bravely uniting in transmitting a statement of their grievances to the Lords-proprietors.

The Lutherans of New York, having obtained from the newly established English authorities permission to call a preacher of their faith, they forwarded their petition to the Classis of Amsterdam – the Dutch being still the dominant party in the congregation, though Lutherans from other countries had in the meantime united with it – but four long and gloomy years were yet to pass by before their earnest entreaties for a shepherd were granted.

And when, at last, in 1668, more than forty years after the first Lutherans had settled in New York, and ten years after the banishment of Rev. Goetwater, they were to see their petitions granted and their hopes realized, they alas! found the fruit of all their efforts, to be like the apples of Sodom, a most grievous disappointment. A more unhappy selection could scarcely have been made for them. The Lutheran Consistory must have been ignorant not only of the peculiar requirements of the situation in this New World, but they must have been totally unacquainted with the character of the man whom they commissioned. It would have been a sad day for the the early Christian Church, if the congregation at Antioch had made a similar mistake when they sent forth Barnabas and Saul on the mission to the Gentiles. The man’s name was Jacob Fabricius. He was a sorry excuse for the spiritual head of a congregation that had languished so long without pastoral oversight, and had suffered so much from adversity and persecution. He proved to be utterly unadapted to the position.

He had received university training and was a man of uncommon talents and eloquent as a preacher. But he was of a haughty and violent temper, had neither tact nor prudence, and, saddest of all, was a victim of intemperance.

At Albany, where, as well as in New York, Governor Lovelace had given him permission to exercise his Office, he became seriously involved with the civil authorities and also with his congregation. Refusing to sanction civil marriage, which was at that time the law of the Province, he proceeded, whether from conscience or from covetousness, to impose a fine of one thousand six dollars upon one of his members whose marriage had been solemnized by a civil official. The party complaining to the governor, the latter suspended the arbitrary preacher from his functions in Albany for one year, allowing him still to continue his ministrations in New York, though in the course of another year he was there also authorized to preach his farewell sermon.

The work of erecting a church building in the latter place, which had been inaugurated prior to his coming, received at first, naturally, quite an impetus from his presence, but he soon became an element of discord in the congregation and his offensive, domineering, behavior threw everything into confusion. The people became so much dissatisfied that they not only refused to contribute to his support but they even declined to pay their subscriptions to the building of the church. The civil authorities had to be invoked and it was ordered by the magistrates, that the subscriptions made for the church building and those for the salary of the pastor should be paid “up to the time of their late public disagreement.” Compliance with this order was of course inevitable, but shortly afterward certain members of the church, doubtless its trustees or office bearers, petitioned the governor to have their accounts settled, adding that they wished to have nothing more to do with the pastor Fabricius. His brief and most unfortunate pastorate came to an abrupt close on August 11, 1671.

Surely God must have watched over this straitened and struggling little band holding to the faith of the Augsburg Confession, or the infant would certainly have been strangled in its cradle. Cast down but not in despair the congregation proceeded to petition for a new pastor, and to their heartfelt joy they were in a short period permitted to greet him welcome. His name was Rev. Bernardus Antonius Arensius. He is described as “a gentle personage, and of a very agreeable behavior,” the exact reverse of his predecessor. It is not known by whose authority he was sent across, nor is the date of his arrival settled, but as the same order of Governor Lovelace which granted permission to Fabricius to preach his farewell sermon empowered him also “to install the new-come minister, according to the custom used by those of their religion,” he must presumably have arrived shortly before that date.

He served the congregation at Albany as well as the one in New York. But his career was of that peaceable, noiseless tenor which seldom attracts the attention of the historian, and hence but few notices of this servant of God appear in the contemporary records. Governor Dongan’s report of the state of the Province, April 13, 1687, mentions a Dutch Lutheran among the ministers then living in New York, and the editor of the Historical Documents, III, page 415, speaks in a note of Rev. Bernardus Arsenius who “succeeded Dominie Fabricius and was minister of the Church in 1688.”

What the membership of his two congregations numbered is nowhere reported, but from a letter dated September 28, 1715, and written by one of his successors, Rev. Justus Falckner, we learn that at that time four small congregations existed in the province of New York, “and all these four consist in all of about one hundred constant communicants, besides strangers going and coming in the city of New York.” The second church was erected in 1684, on the corner of Broadway and Rector Street, on the lot which had been allotted for this purpose by Governor Colve, in lieu of the one on which the first Church had stood without the wall.

How long Pastor Arensius continued to live and minister to these congregations has not, up to this time, been ascertained, but as there is no trace of the presence of any other Lutheran minister in the province prior to the year 1700, it is probable that he continued until about the close of the century. He was succeeded for a short period by the Rev. Andrew Rudman, Provost of the Swedish Churches on the Delaware, but this calls our attention to a settlement of Lutherans in another section, who came from a different country, and whose early history is irradiated with brighter scenes than those through which the devoted band in New York was called to pass.

(And of this latter group of Lutherans we learned much, in last year’s Fourth of July post.)


Previous Independance Day articles:
    The Fourth of July is God’s day (2011)
    “The focal point of all history [and of the future] is the birth of the man called ‘The Christ’, and the subsequent promulgation of His beautiful Gospel message, especially through the mediums created and put to use by the Anglo-American empires of the 19th and 20th Century’s... I believe that we could do no better today than to commit as much of history to memory as possible, and so prepare ourselves and our children to meet the new challenges that are sure to arise in the future. They are going to need the knowledge, understanding, insight, and courage that only a Christian view of history can give them. We will have to teach them. Only in this way will we preserve our civilization, and, more important, our freedom!”

    We Are the Sons of Liberty (2014)
    The Declaration of Independance is one of the greatest Enlightenment documents ever written, invoking the clear and irrefutable conclusions of Natural Law that establish the existence of a Creator, it appeals to this transcendant Authority in defense of the Rights of Man:

      “...a separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them...”;
      “...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness...”;
      “...appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions...”;
      “...with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence...”

    An Enlightenment document, but NOT a “Deistic” document. The god of the Deist is not a Creator in the sense it is used in the Declaration (i.e., of persons who have personal reference to “their” Creator), but is an impersonal force – an “uncaused cause” or “one prime mover”; the god of the Deist is not a Judge, but is benevolently uninvolved and uninterested; the god of the Deist has absolutely no involvement or interest in the affairs of man, that it would have a need to Providentially orchestrate them to achieve its interests for their benefit and its glory. On the contrary, these are all terms and usages unique to Christian theology.


    The Lutheran Conception of a Christian Commonwealth according to King Gustavus Adolphus, and its Mighty Impact on the Formation of our Great Republic, and on the State of Pennsylvania in particular (2015)
    Repressed history, forcefully demonstrating the fundamental influence of Christianity in the formation of our Free Nation, the United States of America. King Gustavus Adolphus, a pious Lutheran aggrieved by the plight of Christians in the face of State-sponsored religious persecution, who fought gallantly in the name of Religious Liberty, and died as a victorious leader in its cause, consulted with the Protestant leadership of Europe to establish a colony in the New World:

      “a Free State, where the laborer should reap the fruit of his toil, where the Rights of Conscience should be inviolate, and which should be open to the whole Protestant world... [where] all should be secure in their persons, their property, and their Rights of Conscience... [and] should be an asylum for the persecuted of all nations.”

    The Swedes of New Sweden paved the way for William Penn, who would receive credit for most of the work they had accomplished prior to his arrival, under this plan of Gustavus Adolphus.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

From the Presentation to the Final Days of Dr. Martin Luther

Dr. Martin Luther, Eisleben, Germany
Dr. Martin Luther
Eisleben, Germany
On October 31, 2014, the 497th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther’s famous posting of his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Church in Wittenberg, and a day which Lutherans annually commemorate as the Festival of the Reformation, we published the first part of a history of Dr. Martin Luther with the post, Dr. Martin Luther, the Corruption of Rome, John Tetzel and Indulgences, and the Ninety-five Theses. It was taken from a work that was originally written by Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Seiss in 1888, Luther and the Reformation: The Life-Springs of Our Liberties. A co-founder of the General Council along with Charles Porterfield Krauth, Rev. Seiss was a 19th Century Lutheran pastor, serving congregations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One can read more details about him in the introduction to our first part of Luther’s history. This first part emphasized the facts that Luther initially proceeded out of great concern for the Pope’s good reputation and the integrity of Christ’s Church, writing many personal letters to his bishops detailing the abuses he had witnessed; that when it became evident that his letters were largely ignored he then began to write and speak more openly of these abuses – even seeking open debate – in hopes that open dialog might help bring resolution to these issues and reformation in the Church; that though many agreed with him, they nevertheless advised him to relent and be silent about these abuses; that some even conspired against him; that in the end, his separation from the Church was neither planned nor desired, but necessary due to Rome’s obstinacy.

Following this, on June 25, 2015, a day which marks the anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession in 1530, we published a second part to the history of Dr. Martin Luther and the Reformation in Germany, with the post From the Ninety-five Theses to the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. This second part emphasized the nature of Christian Confession, and its relation to Christian Conscience and Christian Martyrdom. It is growing ever more apparent that it is very necessary for Western Christians to once again be acquainted with what it truly means to Confess one’s faith in word and deed, as the consequences for doing so increasingly seem to invite discrimination, recrimination, financial and physical harm, and even death. Dr. Martin Luther, as he stood before Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521, was standing before his executioner when he refused to recant what he was convinced as a matter of Christian Conscience was the Truth, and instead emphatically Confessed the contrary, saying:
    “Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simply reply, I will answer... Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can not do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”

    [Bainton, R. (1950). Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. New York, NY: Abingdon-Cokesbury. pg 185.]
With these words Dr. Martin Luther taught the world. Nine years later, eight German Princes and the leaders of two free cities (Nuremberg and Reutlingen) stood before the Emperor, refusing on the basis of Christian Conscience to make political peace with the Empire under the requirement of adopting a false religion, stood their ground, instead reading their public Confession before him and all the world. The Presentation of the Augsburg Confession in 1530, represents a monumental shift in the history of the West – in both religious as well as political terms – as with Augustana the convictions of conscience were placed at the center, and at the pinnacle, of civil liberty. It seems, though, that such a position is it not so irrevocable. From a survey of today’s political landscape, it is more than apparent that human conscience itself is under attack: words which can be in any way construed as offensive, as well as the thoughts behind those words, are now regulated and punished in many places, even in the United States; in Europe, with the current Refugee crisis, even words which are taken as politically inconvenient are reprimanded by the authorities; “freedom of religion” is being supplanted by “freedom of worship”; and more frequently, in the interest of advancing the so-called secular State, we see a perplexing willingness – veritably, an open desire in Academia and the Press – to ignore the manifold crimes committed against Christians worldwide, especially by Muslims, or to even blame Christians themselves for those crimes. Thus, it is vitally important that Christians be reacquainted with the true meaning of Christian Confession, and its connection to Christian Conscience and Martyrdom, as the day is swiftly approaching in the West – even in America – when all Christians will be called upon to stand before their executioners where they will either confess or recant, and henceforward think, speak and act – live and die – accordingly.

Today, February 18, is another special anniversary. Unlike Festival of the Reformation and the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession, it is not a Festival of the Church year – not that I am aware. It is on this day in 1546 that Dr. Martin Luther died – in the same town in which he was born in 1483: Eisleben Germany. In honor of this date, we publish the final part of our three-part series on the history of Dr. Martin Luther. It begins where we left off last June, briefly bringing to a close the history of events in which he was involved after the Presentation, then concluding by, in effect, eulogizing him, by discussing who he was as a person, his achievements and their broad and lasting impact on the world.


From the Presentation to the
Final Days of Dr. Martin Luther
22

THE LEAGUE OF SMALCALD.

The emperor’s edict appeared November 19th, and the Protestant princes at once proceeded to form a league for mutual protection against attempts to force their consciences in these sacred matters. It was with difficulty that the consent of Luther could be obtained for what, to him, looked like an arrangement to support the Gospel by the sword. But he yielded to a necessity forced by the intolerance of Rome. A convention was held at Smalcald at Christmas, 1530, and there was formed the League of Smalcald, which planted the political foundations of Religious Liberty for our modern world.

By the presentation of the great Confession of Augsburg, along with the formation of the League of Smalcald, the cause of Luther became embodied in the official life of nations, and the new era of Freedom had come safely to its birth. Long and terrible storms were yet to be passed, but the ship was launched which no thunders of emperors or popes could ever shatter.

Doors of the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, on which Dr. Luther nailed his Theses
Doors of the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg,
on which Dr. Luther nailed his Theses in 1517
When the months of probation ended, France had again become troublesome to the emperor, and the Turks were renewing their movements against his dominions. He also found that he could not count on the Catholic princes for the violent suppression of the Protestants. Luther’s doctrines had taken too deep hold upon their subjects to render it safe to join in a war of extermination against them. The Zwinglians also coalesced with the Lutherans in presenting a united front against the threatened bloody coercion. The Smalcald League, moreover, had grown to be a power which even the emperor could not despise. He therefore resolved to come to terms with the Protestant members of his empire, and a peace – at least a truce – was concluded at Nuremberg, which left things as they were to wait until a general council should settle the questions in dispute.

LUTHER’s LATER YEARS.

Luther lived nearly fifteen years after this grand crowning of his testimony, diligently laboring for Christ and his country. The most brilliant part of his career was over, but his labors still were great and important. Indeed, his whole life was intensely laborious. He was a busier man than the first Napoleon. His publications, as reckoned up by Seckendorf, amount to eleven hundred and thirty-seven. Large and small together, they number seven hundred and fifteen volumes – one for every two weeks that he lived after issuing the first. Even in the last six weeks of his life he issued thirty-one publications – more than five per week. If he had had no other cares and duties but to occupy himself with his pen, this would still prove him a very Hercules in authorship.23

But his later years were saddened by many anxieties, afflictions, and trials. Under God, he had achieved a transcendent work, and his confidence in its necessity, divinity, and perpetuity never failed; but he was much distressed to see it marred and damaged, as it was, by the weaknesses and passions of men. His great influence created jealousies. His persistent conservatism gave offense. Those on whom he most relied betimes imperiled his cause by undue concessions and pusillanimity. The friends of the Reformation often looked more to political than Christian ends, or were more carnal than spiritual. Threatening civil commotions troubled him. Ultra reform attacked and blamed him. The agitations about a general council, which Rome now treacherously urged, and meant to pack for its own purposes, gave him much anxiety. It was with reference to such a council that one other great document – The Articles of Smalcald – issued from his pen, in which he defined the true and final Protestant position with regard to the hierarchy, and the fundamental organization of the Church of Christ. His bodily ailments also became frequent and severe.

Prematurely old, and worn out with cares, labors, and vexations – the common lot of great heroes and benefactor – he began to long for the heavenly rest. “I am weary of the world,” said he, “and it is time the world were weary of me. The parting will be easy, like a traveler leaving his inn.”

He lived to his sixty-third year, and peacefully died in the faith he so effectually preached, while on a mission of reconciliation at the place where he was born, honored and lamented in his death as few men have ever been. His remains repose in front of the chancel in the castle church of Wittenberg, on the door of which his own hand had nailed the Ninety-five Theses. 24

PERSONALE OF LUTHER.

The personal appearance of this extraordinary man is but poorly given in the painted portraits of him. Written descriptions inform us that he was of medium size, handsomely proportioned, and somewhat darkly complected. His arched brows, high cheek-bones, and powerful jaws and chin gave to his face an outline of ruggedness; but his features were regular, and softened all over with benevolence and every refined feeling. He had remarkable eyes, large, full, deep, dark, and brilliant, with a sort of amber circle around the pupil, which made them seem to emit fire when under excitement. His hair was dark and waving, but became entirely white in his later years. His mouth was elegantly formed, expressive of determination, tenderness, affection, and humor. His countenance was elevated, open, brave, and unflinching. His neck was short and strong and his breast broad and full.

Though compactly built, he was generally spare and wasted from incessant studies, hard labor, and an abstemious life.

Mosellanus, the moderator at the Leipsic Disputation, describes him quite fully as he appeared at that time, and says that “his body, was so reduced by cares and study that one could almost count his bones.” He himself makes frequent allusion to his wasted and enfeebled body. His health was never robust. He was a small eater. Melanchthon says: “I have seen him, when he was in full health, absolutely neither eat nor drink for four days together. At other times I have seen him, for many days, content with the slightest allowance, a salt herring and a small hunch of bread per day.”

Mosellanus further says that his manners were cultured and friendly, with nothing of stoical severity or pride in him – that he was cheerful and full of wit in company, and at all times fresh, joyous, inspiring, and pleasant.

Honest naturalness, grand simplicity, and an unpretentious majesty of character breathed all about him. An indwelling vehemency, a powerful will, and a firm confidence could readily be seen, but calm and mellowed with generous kindness, without a trace of selfishness or vanity. He was jovial, free-spoken, open, easily approached, and at home with all classes.

Audin says of him that “his voice was clear and sonorous, his eye beaming with fire, his head of the antique cast, his hands beautiful, and his gesture graceful and abounding – at once Rabelais and Fontaine, with the droll humor of the one and the polished elegance of the other.” In society and in his home he was genial, playful, instructive, and often brilliant. His Table Talk, collected (not always judiciously) by his friends, is one of the most original and remarkable of productions. He loved children and young people, and brought up several in his house besides his own. He had an inexhaustible flow of ready wit and good-humor, prepared for everybody on all occasions. He was a frank and free correspondent, and let out his heart in his letters, six large volumes of which have been preserved.

He was specially fond of music, and cultivated it to a high degree. He could sing and play like a woman.25 “I have no pleasure in any man,” said he, “who despises music. It is no invention of ours; it is the gift of God. I place it next to theology.”

Luther's Death Mask
Cast of Dr. Martin Luther’s face and hands,
made upon his death in 1546.
He was himself a great musician and hymnist. Handel confesses that he derived singular advantage from the study of his music; and Coleridge says: “He did as much for the Reformation by his hymns as by his translation of the Bible.” To this day he is the chief singer in a Church of pre-eminent song. Heine speaks of “those stirring songs which escaped from him in the very midst of his combats and necessities, like flowers making their way from between rough stones or moonbeams glittering among dark clouds.” Ein feste Burg welled from his great heart like the gushing of the waters from the smitten rock of Horeb to inspirit and refresh God’s faint and doubting people as long as the Church is in this earthly wilderness. There is a mighty soul in it which lifts one, as on eagles’ wings, high and triumphant over the blackest storms. And his whole life was a brilliantly enacted epic of marvelous grandeur and pathos.26

Luther’s qualities of mind, heart, and attainment were transcendent. Though naturally meek and diffident, when it came to matters of duty and conviction he was courageous, self-sacrificing, and brave beyond any mere man known to history. Elijah fled before the threats of Jezebel, but no powers on earth could daunt the soul of Luther. Even the apparitions of the devil himself could not disconcert him.

Roman Catholic authors agree that “Nature gave him a German industry and strength and an Italian spirit and vivacity,” and that “nobody excelled him in philosophy and theology, and nobody equaled him in eloquence.”

His mental range was not confined to any one set of subjects. In the midst of his profound occupation with questions of divinity and the Church “his mind was literally worldwide. His eyes were for ever observant of what was around him. At a time when science was hardly out of its shell he had observed Nature with the liveliest curiosity. He studied human nature like a dramatist. Shakespeare himself drew from him. His memory was a museum of historical information, anecdotes of great men, and old German literature, songs, and proverbs, to the latter of which he made many rich additions from his own genius. Scarce a subject could be spoken of on which he had not thought and on which he had not something remarkable to say.”27 In consultations upon public affairs, when the most important things hung in peril, his contemporaries speak with amazement of the gigantic strength of his mind, the unexampled acuteness of his intellect, the breadth and loftiness of his understanding and counsels.

But, though so great a genius, he laid great stress on sound and thorough learning and study. “The strength and glory of a town,” said he, “does not depend on its wealth, its walls, its great mansions, its powerful armaments, but in the number of its learned, serious, kind, and well-educated citizens.” He was himself a great scholar, far beyond what we would suspect in so perturbed a life, or what he cared to parade in his writings. He mastered the ancient languages, and insisted on the perpetual study of them as “the scabbard which holds the sword of the Spirit, the cases which enclose the precious jewels, the vessels which contain the old wine, the baskets which carry the loaves and the fishes for the feeding of the multitude.” His associates say of him that he was a great reader, eagerly perusing the Church Fathers, old and new, and all histories, well retaining what he read, and using the same with great skill as occasion called.

Melanchthon, who knew him well, and knew well how to judge of men’s powers and attainments, said of him: “He is too great, too wonderful, for me to describe. Whatever he writes, whatever he utters, goes to the soul and fixes itself like arrows in the heart. He is a miracle among men.

Nor was he without the humility of true greatness. Newton’s comparison of himself to a child gathering shells and pebbles on the shore, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before him, has been much cited and lauded as an illustration of the modesty of true science. But long before Newton had Luther said of himself, in the midst of his mighty achievements, “Only a little of the first fruits of wisdom – only a few fragments of the boundless heights, breadths, and depths of truth – have I been able to gather.”

He was a man of amazing faith – that mighty principle which looks at things invisible, joins the soul to divine Omnipotence, and launches out unfalteringly upon eternal realities, and which is ever the chief factor in all God’s heroes of every age. He dwelt in constant nearness and communion with the Eternal Spirit, which reigns in the heavens and raises the willing and obedient into blessed instruments of itself for the actualizing of ends and ideals beyond and above the common course of things. With his feet ever planted on the promises, he could lay his hands upon the Throne, and thus was lifted into a sublimity of energy, endurance, and command which made him one of the phenomenal wonders of humanity. He was a very Samson in spiritual vigor, and another Hannah’s son in the strength and victory of his prayers.

Dr. Calvin E. Stowe says: “There was probably never created a more powerful human being, a more gigantic, full-proportioned MAN, in the highest sense of the term. All that belongs to human nature, all that goes to constitute a MAN, had a strongly-marked development in him. He was a model man, one that might be shown to other beings in other parts of the universe as a specimen of collective manhood in its maturest growth.”

As the guide and master of one of the greatest revolutions of time we look in vain for any one with whom to compare him, and as a revolutionary orator and preacher he had no equal. Richter says, “His words are half-battles.” Melanchthon likens them to thunderbolts. He was at once a Peter and a Paul, a Socrates and an Æsop, a Chrysostom and a Savonarola, a Shakespeare and a Whitefield, all condensed in one.

HIS ALLEGED COARSENESS.

Some blame him for not using kid gloves in handling the ferocious bulls, bears, and he-goats with whom he had to do. But what, otherwise, would have become of the Reformation? His age was savage, and the men he had to meet were savage, and the matters at stake touched the very life of the world. What would a Chesterfield or an Addison have been in such a contest? Erasmus said he had horns, and knew how to use them, but that Germany needed just such a master. He understood the situation. “These gnarled logs,” said he, “will not split without iron wedges and heavy malls. The air will not clear without lightning and thunder.”28

But if he was rough betimes, he could be as gentle and tender as a maiden, and true to himself in both. He could fight monsters all day, and in the evening take his lute, gaze at the stars, sing psalms, and muse upon the clouds, the fields, the flowers, the birds, dissolved in melody and devotion. Feared by the mighty of the earth, the dictator and reprimander of kings, the children loved him, and his great heart was as playful among them as one of themselves. If he was harsh and unsparing upon hypocrites, malignants, and fools, he called things by their right names, and still was as loving as he was brave. Since King David’s lament over Absalom no more tender or pathetic scene has appeared in history or in fiction than his outpouring of paternal love and grief over the deathbed, coffin, and grave of his young and precious daughter Madeleine. “I know of few things more touching,” says Carlyle, “than those soft breathings of affection, soft as a child’s or a mother’s, in this great wild heart of Luther;” and adds: “I will call this Luther a true Great Man; great in intellect, in courage, affection, and integrity; one of our most lovable and precious men. Great not as a hewn obelisk, but as an Alpine mountain, so simple, honest, spontaneous; not setting up to be great at all; there for quite another purpose than being great. Ah, yes, unsubduable granite, piercing far and wide into the Heavens; yet, in the clefs of it, fountains, green, beautiful valleys with flowers. A right Spiritual Hero and Prophet; once more, a true Son of Nature and Fact, for whom these centuries, and many that are yet to come, will be thankful to Heaven.”

HIS MARVELOUS ACHIEVEMENTS.

A lone man, whose days were spent in poverty; who could withstand the mighty Vatican and all its flaming Bulls; whose influence evoked and swayed successive Diets of the empire; whom repeated edicts from the Imperial throne could not crush; whom the talent, eloquence, and towering authority of the Roman hierarchy assailed in vain; whom the attacks of kings of state and kings of literature could not disable; to offset whose opinions the greatest general council the Church of Rome ever held had to be convened, and, after sitting eighteen years, could not adjourn without conceding much to his positions; and whose name the greatest and most enlightened nations of the earth hail with glad acclaim – necessarily must have been a wonder of a man.29

To begin with a minority consisting of one, and conquer kingdoms with the mere sword of his mouth; to bear the anathemas of Church and the ban of empire, and triumph in spite of them; to refuse to fall down before the golden image of the combined Nebuchadnezzars of his time, though threatened with the burning fires of earth and hell; to turn iconoclast of such magnitude and daring as to think of smiting the thing to pieces in the face of principalities and powers to whom it was as God – nay, to attempt this, and to succeed in it – here was sublimity of heroism and achievement explainable only in the will and providence of the Almighty, set to recover His Gospel to a perishing race.30

HIS IMPRESS UPON THE WORLD.

To describe the fruits of Luther’s labors would require the writing of the whole history of modern civilization and the setting forth of the noblest characteristics of this our modern world.31

On the German nation he has left more of his impress than any other man has left on any nation. The German people love to speak of him as the creative master of their noble language and literature, the great prophet and glory of their country. There is nothing so consecrated in all his native land as the places which connect with his life, presence, and deeds.

But his mighty impress is not confined to Germany. “He grasped the iron trumpet of his mother-tongue and blew a blast that shook the nations from Rome to the Orkneys.” He is not only the central figure of Germany, but of Europe and of the whole modern world. Take Luther away, with the fruits of his life and deeds, and man today would cease to be what he is.

Frederick von Schlegel, though a Romanist, affirms that “it was upon him and his soul that the fate of Europe depended.” And on the fate of Europe then depended the fate of our race.

Michelet, also a Romanist, pronounces Luther “the restorer of liberty in modern times;” and adds: “If we at this day exercise in all its plenitude the first and highest privilege of human intelligence, it is to him we are indebted for it.”

“And that any faith,” says Froude, “any piety, is alive now, even in the Roman Church itself, whose insolent hypocrisy he humbled into shame, is due in large measure to the poor miner’s son.”

He certainly is to-day the most potently living man who has lived this side of the Middle Ages. The pulsations of his great heart are felt through the whole corpus of our civilization.

“Four potentates,” says the late Dr. Krauth, “ruled the mind of Europe in the Reformation: the emperor, Erasmus, the pope, and Luther. The pope wanes; Erasmus is little; the emperor is nothing; but Luther abides as a power for all time. His image casts itself upon the current of ages as the mountain mirrors itself in the, river which winds at its foot. He has monuments in marble and bronze, and medals in silver and gold, but his noblest monument is the best love of the best hearts, and the brightest and purest impression of his image has been left in the souls of regenerated nations.”

Many and glowing are the eulogies which have been pronounced upon him, but Frederick von Schlegel, speaking from the side of Rome, gives it as his conviction that “few, even of his own disciples, appreciate him highly enough.” Genius, learning, eloquence, and song have volunteered their noble efforts to do him justice; centuries have added their light and testimony; half the world in its enthusiasm has urged on the inspiration; but the story in its full dimensions has not yet been adequately told. The skill and energy of other generations will yet be taxed to give it, if, indeed, it ever can be given apart from the illuminations of eternity.32

HIS ENEMIES AND REVILERS.

Rome has never forgotten nor forgiven him. She sought his life while living, and she curses him in his grave. Profited by his labors beyond what she ever could have been without him, she strains and chokes with anathemas upon his name and everything that savers of him. Her children are taught from infancy to hate and abhor him as they hope for salvation. Many are the false turns and garbled forms in which her writers hold up his words and deeds to revenge themselves on his memory. Again and again the oft-answered and exploded calumnies are revived afresh to throw dishonor on his cause. Even while the free peoples of the earth are making these grateful acknowledgments of the priceless boon that a has come to them through his life and labors, press and platform hiss with stale vituperations from the old enemy. And a puling Churchism outside of Rome takes an ill pleasure in following after her to gather and retail this vomit of malignity.

Luther was but a man. No one claims that he was perfection. But if those who sought his destruction while he lived had had no greater faults than he, with better grace their modern representatives might indulge their genius for his defamation. At best, as we might suppose, it is the little men, the men of narrow range and narrow heart – men dwarfed by egotism, bigotry, and self-conceit – who see the most of these defects. Nobler minds, contemplating him from loftier standpoints, observe but little of them, and even honor them above the excellencies of common men. “The proofs that he was in some things like other men,” says Leasing, “are to me as precious as the most dazzling of his virtues.”33

And, with all, where is the gain or wisdom of blowing smoke upon a diamond? The sun itself has holes in it too large for half a dozen worlds like ours to fill, but wherein is that great luminary thereby unfitted to be the matchless centre of our system, the glorious source of day, and the sublime symbol of the Son of God?

If Luther married a beautiful woman, the proofs of which do not appear, it is what every other honest man would do if it suited him and he were free to do it.

If he broke his vows to get a wife, of which there is no evidence, when vows are taken by mistake, tending to dishonor God, work unrighteousness, and hinder virtuous example and proper life, they ought to be broken, the sooner the better.

And, whatever else may be alleged to his discredit, and whoever may arise to heap scandal on his name, the grand facts remain that it was chiefly through his marvelous qualities, word, and work that the towering dominion of the Papacy was humbled and broken for ever; that prophets and apostles were released from their prisons once more to preach and prophesy to men; that the Church of the early times was restored to the bereaved world; that the human mind was set free to read and follow God’s Word for itself; that the masses of neglected and downtrodden humanity were made into populations of live and thinking beings; and that the nations of the earth have become repossessed of their “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
    “And let the Pope and priests their victor scorn,
    Each fault reveal, each imperfection scan,
    And by their fell anatomy of hate
    His life dissect with satire’s keenest edge;
    yet still may Luther, with his mighty heart,
    Defy their malice

    Far beyond them soars the soul
    They slander. From his tomb there still comes forth
    A magic which appalls them by its power;
    And the brave monk who made the Popedom rock
    Champions a world to show his equal yet!”



------------
Endnotes:
  1. Seiss, J. Luther and the Reformation: The Life-Springs of Our Liberties. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates. 1888. pp. 111-134. (return)

  2. “Never before was the human mind more prolific.” “Luther holds a high and glorious place in German literature.” “In his manuscripts we nowhere discover the traces of fatigue or irritation, no embarrassment or erasures, no ill-applied epithet or unmanageable expression; and by the correctness of his writing we might imagine he was the copyist rather than the writer of the work.” – So says Audin, his Roman Catholic biographer.

    Hallam’s flippant and disparaging remarks on Luther, contained in his Introduction to the Literature of Europe, are simply outrageous, “stupid and senseless paragraphs,” evidencing a presumption on the part of their author which deserves intensest rebuke. “Hallam knows nothing about Luther; he himself confesses his inability to read him in his native German; and this alone renders him incapable of judging intelligently respecting his merits as a writer; and, knowing nothing, it would have been honorable in him to say nothing, at least to say nothing disparagingly. And, by the way, it seems to us that writing a history of European literature without a knowledge of German is much like writing a history of metals without knowing anything of iron and steel...Luther’s language became, through his writings, and has ever since remained, the language of literature and general intercourse among educated men, and is that which is now understood universally to be meant when the German is spoken of. His translation of the Bible is still as much the standard of purity for that language as Homer is for the Greek.” – Dr. Galvin E. Stowe. (return)

  3. “Nothing can be more edifying than the scene presented by the last days of Luther, of which we have the most authentic and detailed accounts. When dying he collected his last strength and offered up the following prayer: ‘Heavenly Father, eternal, merciful God, Thou hast revealed to me Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Him I have taught, Him I have confessed, Him I love as my Saviour and Redeemer, whom the wicked persecute, dishonor, and reprove. Take my poor soul up to Thee!’

    “Then two of his friends put to him the solemn question: ‘Reverend Father, do you die in Christ and in the doctrine you have constantly preached?’ He answered by an audible and joyful ‘Yes,’ and, repeating the vows, ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit,’ he expired peacefully, without a struggle.” – Encyclopædia Britannica. (return)

  4. Mattähus Ratzenberger, in a passage of his biography preserved in the Bibliotheca Ducalais Gothana, says: “Lutherus had also this custom: as soon as he had eaten the evening meal with his table companions he would fetch out of his little writing-room his partes and hold a musicam with those of them who had a mind for music. Greatly was he delighted when a good composition of the old master fitted the responses or hymnos de tempore anni, and especially did he enjoy the cantu Gregoriana and chorale. But if at times he perceived in a new song that it was incorrectly copied he set it again upon the lines (that is, he brought the parts together and rectified it in continenti). Right gladly did he join in the singing when hymnus or responsorium de tempere had been set by the Musicus to a Cantum Gregorianum, as we have said, and his young sons, Martinus and Paulus, had also after table to sing the responsoria de tempore, as at Christmas, Verbum caro factum est, In principio erat verbum; at Easter, Christus resurgens ex mortuis, Vita sanctorum, Victimæ paschali laudes, etc. In these responsoria he always sang along with his sons, and in cantu figurali he sang the alto.”

    The alto which Luther sang must not be confounded with the alto part of today. Here it means the cantus firmus, the melody around which the old composers wove their contrapuntal ornamentation.

    Luther was the creator of German congregational singing. (return)

  5. Luther’s first poetic publication seems to have been certain verses ode on the martyrdom of two young Christian monks, who were burned alive at Brussels in 1523 for their faithful confession of the evangelical doctrines. A translation of a part of this composition is given in D'Aubigné’s History of the Reformation in these beautiful and stirring words:

      “Flung to the heedless winds or on the waters cast,
      Their ashes shall be watched, and gathered at the last;
      And from that scattered dust, around us and abroad,
      Shall spring a plenteous seed of witnesses for God.

      “Jesus hath now received their latest living breath,
      Yet vain is Satan’s boast of victory in their death.
      Still, still, though dead, they speak, and trumpet-tongued proclaim
      To many a wakening land the One availing Name.”

    Audin, though a Romanist, says: “The hymns which he translated from the Latin into German may be unreservedly praised, as also those which he composed for the members of his own communion. He did not travesty the sacred Word nor set his anger to music. He is grave, simple, solemn, and grand. He was at once the poet and musician of a great number of his hymns.” (return)

  6. Froude supplemented. (return)

  7. It must be observed that the coarse vituperations which shock the reader in Luther’s controversial works were not peculiar to him, being commonly used by scholars and divines of the Middle Ages in their disputations. “The invectives of Valla, filelfo, Poggio, and other distinguished scholars against each other are notorious; and this bad taste continued in practice long after Luther, down to the seventeenth century, and traces of it are found in writers of the eighteenth, even in some of the works of the polished and courtly Voltaire.” – Cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. (return)

  8. “In no other instance have such great events depended upon the courage, sagacity, and energy of a single man, who, by his sole and unassisted efforts, made his solitary cell the heart and centre of the most wonderful and important commotion the world ever witnessed – who by the native force and vigor of his genius attacked and successfully resisted, and at length overthrew, the most awful and sacred authority that ever imposed its commands on mankind.” – A letter prefixed to Luther’s Table-Talk in the folio edition of 1652. (return)

  9. “To overturn a system of religious belief founded on ancient and deep-rooted prejudices, supported by power and defended with no less art than industry – to establish in its room doctrines of the most contrary genius and tendency, and to accomplish all this, not by external violence or the force of arms, are operations which historians the least prone to credulity and superstition ascribe to that divine providence which with infinite ease can bring about events which to human sagacity appear impossible.” – Robertson’s Charles V. (return)

  10. “From the commencement of the religious war in Germany to the Peace of Westphalia scarce anything great or memorable occurred in the European political world with which the Reformation was not essentially connected. Every event in the history of the world in this interval, if not directly occasioned, was nearly affected, by this religious revolution, and every state, great or small, remotely or immediately felt its influence.” – Schiller’s Thirty Years’ War, vol. i. p. 1 (return)

  11. “Luther was as wonderful as he was great. His personal experience in divine things was as deep as his mind was mighty, large, and unbounded. Though called by the Most High, and continued by his appointment, in the midst of papal darknem, idolatry, and error, with no companions but the saints of the Bible, nor any other light but the lamp of the Word to guide his feet, his heaven-taught soul was ministerially fumished with as rich pasture for the sheep of Christ, as awful ammunition for the terror and destruction of the enemies by which he and they were perpetually surrounded. The sphere of his mighty ministry was not bounded by his defence of the truth against the great and powerful. No! He was as rich a pastor, as terrible a warrior. He fed the sheep in the fattest pastures, while be destroyed the wolves on any side. Nor will those pastures be dried up or lost until time, nations, and the churches of God shall be no more.” – Dr. Cole’s Preface to Luther on Genesis (return)

  12. “It was by some of these qualities which we are now apt to blame that Luther was fitted for accomplishing the great work which he undertook. To rouse mankind when sunk in ignorance and superstition, and to encounter the rage of bigotry armed with power, required the utmost vehemenoe of zeal as well as temper daring to excess.” – Robertson’s Charles V. (return)




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