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 savors 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 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 Lessing, “are to me as precious as the most dazzling of his virtues."
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.