Luther and the Reformation: eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 145 pages of information about Luther and the Reformation:.

On the morrow Luther was conducted to the Diet by the marshal of the empire.  The excited people so crowded the gates and jammed about the doors that the soldiers had to use their halberds to open a way for him.  An instinct not yet interpreted drew their hearts and allied them with the hero.  From the thronged streets, windows, and housetops came voices as he passed—­voices of petition and encouragement—­voices of benediction on the brave and true—­voices of sympathy and adjuration to be firm in God and in the power of his might.  It was Germany, Scandinavia, England, Scotland, and Holland; it was the Americas and hundreds of young republics yet unborn; it was the whole world of all after-time, with its free Gospel, free conscience, free speech, free government, free science, and free schools,—­uttering themselves in those half-smothered voices.  Luther heard them and was strengthened.

But there was no danger he would betray the momentous trust.  That morning, amid great rugged prayers which broke from him like massive rock-fragments hot and burning from a volcano of mingled faith and agony, laying one hand on the open Bible and lifting the other to heaven, he cast his soul on Omnipotence, in pledge unspeakable to obey only his conscience and his God.  Whether for life or death, his heart was fixed.

A few steps more and he stood before Imperial majesty, encompassed by the powers and dignitaries of the earth, so brave, calm, and true a man that thrones and kings looked on in silent awe and admiration, and even malignant scorn for the moment retreated into darkness.  Since He who wore the crown of thorns stood before Pontius Pilate there had not been a parallel to this scene.[13]


[13] A Romanist thus describes the picture:  “When the approach of Luther was heard there ensued one of those deep silences in which the heart alone, by its hurried pulsations, gives sign of life.  Attention was diverted from the emperor to the monk.  On the appearance of Luther every one rose, regardless of the sovereign’s presence.  It inspired Werner with one of the finest acts of his tragedy....  Heine has glorified the appearance at Worms.  The Catholic himself loves to contemplate that black gown in the presence of those lords and barons caparisoned in iron and armed with helmet and spear, and is moved by the voice of ‘that young friar’ who comes to defy all the powers of the earth.”—­Audin’s Life of Luther.

“All parties must unite in admiring and venerating the man who, undaunted and alone, could stand before such an assembly, and vindicate with unshaken courage what he conceived to be the cause of religion, of liberty, and of truth, fearless of any reproaches but those of his own conscience, or of any disapprobation but that of his God.”—­Roscoe’s Life of Leo X., vol. iv. p. 36.

Luther himself, afterward recalling the event, said:  “It must indeed have been God who gave me my boldness of heart; I doubt if I could show such courage again.”

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Luther and the Reformation: from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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