Luther and the Reformation: eBook

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

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.[18]

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 offence.  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 benefactors—­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.[19]

FOOTNOTES: 

[18] “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.

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