Luther and the Reformation: eBook

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

While in the Wartburg he was forbidden to issue any writings.  Leisure was thus afforded for one of the most important things connected with the Reformation.  Those ten months he utilized to prepare for Germany and for the world a translation of the Holy Scriptures, which itself was enough to immortalize the Reformer’s name.  Great intellectual monuments have come down to us from the sixteenth century.  It was an age in which the human mind put forth some of its noblest demonstrations.  Great communions still look back to its Confessions as their rallying-centres, and millions of worshipers still render their devotions in the forms which then were cast.  But pre-eminent over all the achievements of that sublime century was the giving of God’s Word to the people in their own language, which had its chief centre and impulse in the production of Luther’s German Bible.  Well has it been said, “He who takes up that, grasps a whole world in his hand—­a world which will perish only when this green earth itself shall pass away.”

It was the Word that kindled the heart of Luther to the work of Reformation, and the Word alone could bring it to its consummation.  With the Word the whole Church of Christ and the entire fabric of our civilization must stand or fall.  Undermine the Bible and you undermine the world.  It is the one, true, and only Charter of Faith, Liberty, and salvation for man, without which this race of ours is a hopeless and abandoned wreck.  And when Luther gave forth his German Bible, it was not only a transcendent literary achievement, which created and fixed the classic forms of his country’s language,[15] but an act of supremest wisdom and devotion; for the hope of the world is for ever cabled to the free and open Word of God.


[15] Chevalier Bunsen says; “It is Luther’s genius applied to the Bible which has preserved the only unity which is, in our days, remaining to the German nation—­that of language, literature, and thought.  There is no similar instance in the known history of the world of a single man achieving such a work.”


Up to the time of Luther’s residence in the Wartburg nothing had been done toward changing the outward forms, ceremonies, and organization of the Church.  The great thing with him had been to get the inward, central doctrine right, believing that all else would then naturally come right in due time.  But while he was hidden and silent certain fanatics thrust themselves into this field, and were on the eve of precipitating everything to destruction.  Tidings of the violent revolutionary spirit which had broken out reached him in his retreat and stirred him with sorrowful indignation, for it was the most damaging blow inflicted on the Reformation.

It is hard for men to keep their footing amid deep and vast commotions and not drift into ruinous excesses.  Storch, and Muenzer, and Carlstadt, and Melanchthon himself, were dangerously affected by the whirl of things.  Even good men sometimes forget that society cannot be conserved by mere negations; that wild and lawless revolution can never work a wholesome and abiding reformation; that the perpetuity of the Church is an historic chain, each new link of which depends on those which have gone before.

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