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.
 “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.
 “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.
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.
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 to-day 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.