only! All for defence, and nothing for assault ! That would be the weakest army that ever undertook a campaign. The Great Captain requires men superior to such soldiers. From all that I can learn, I think he would like soldiers that can do the great enemy some injury, as well as secure themselves from harm.

The only other professor that I shall notice, is one that thought he had buckled on the “ breast-plate of righteousness," and in his gladness at getting that on, forgot all the rest of the armour. Now it was no mistake of his to think that this piece of armour was of first-rate yalue. He would not have, been worth anything as a soldier if he had had Faul's whole catalogue, and had left this behind. A soldier of Christ without righteousness ! why, he could not have been enlisted at all. Indeed, I do not see how he could have had the other pieces of armour, this being absent. He could not have had the helmet of hope certainly, the ue' one I mean; and as for the shield of faith, there need not a word be said about it; the thing is an impossibility.--But, although he could not have been a soldier at all without this breast-plate, it was very unmilitary in him not to have had all the other parts of the armour on at the same time. Just see. Without the helmet of hope, even some of the lesser of Satan's arms might have filled his mind with great darkness and misery. And without the shield of faith, even his breast-plate would not have quenched all the fiery darts of the wicked. And if his feet were not shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, he could not obey the Great Captain's order, “ to run and not be weary, and walk and not faint." And without the sword of the Spirit, he could do no more against Satan's well-armed soldiers, than a man altogether unarmed against sabres and bayonets. I am sure that the professor who contents himself with the breast-plate only, makes a very great mistake. And I think the veteran Paul is on my side in this matter.

Christian soldier ! on with the whole armour; you cannot spare one article. You will not find the whole more than enough. You have so many and such powerful spiritual enemies, and so much to do in helping the Great Captain to carry on the war against his and your great foe, that


cannot part with anything that will qualify you for defence or assault. Paul, who is the finest model of a spiritual warrior on record, had, at all times, the whole armour on. He would have sooner parted with his heart's blood, than have parted with a

single piece. He found occasion for it all. Wherefore take unto yourselves the whole armour of God.,

THE CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH OF MARTIN LUTHER. SOME of the most remarkable of the Reformers arose from among the working classes of the people. The reformer of Switzerland, Zuingle, was the son of a shepherd of the Alps; the gentle-minded Melancthon, the most learned divine of the period, was the son of a manufacturer of arms, whom the liberality of Hans Reuchlin enabled to pursue his studies ; and the friend of Melancthon, the great Martin Luther, was the son of a poor miner residing at Mansfeld, in Germany.

Luther himself gave this account of his parents :—“My parents were very indigent: my father was a poor woodcutter, and


mother often carried his wood on her back to earn support for her children: they underwent, for our sake, the severest toils." The earliest occupation, then, of Martin Luther was, doubtless, that of gathering fagots in a German forest. The mines of Mansfeld were, however, very celebrated, and his father, John, or, in German, Hans Luther, having obtained employment there, soon got on better.

Martin was born on the 10th of November, 1483: it was St. Martin's day, and, as is usual in Roman Catholic countries, he was named after the saint. As his father got on better in life he was able to take more pains with the education of his children. He was very fond of meeting with men of information, and used often to ask the clergy and schoolmasters of the neighbourhood to his house. Thus, probably, little Martin, when a child, might have heard discourse which inspired him with a desire to acquire knowledge. It is said that,

as soon as he was of an age to receive some instruction, his parents sought to instil into him the knowledge and fear of God, and to form him to the practice of the Christian virtues.” He was sent to school when so young that his father, or a young man of Mansfeld, who afterwards married his sister, used to carry him in his arms to and from it. Fifty years afterwards, when that little boy had become one of the most wonderful men that perhaps the world had ever seen, he reminded his then aged brother-in-law of this kindness shown to him in his childhood.

The parents of little Martin were pious and laborious, and described as being of a “most severe virtue.” Their example “ Every

made him grave and reflective even when a child: they thought it their duty to treat him at times with great severity; and it is possible that such a disposition as his might, when a child, and when it was neither controlled by the power of his own reason nor disciplined by the grace of God, have called for frequent correction. “My parents,” he said, “ treated me with great harshness ; my mother chastised me one day so severely for a trifle that the blood came: they believed, with all their hearts, that they were doing me good; but they could not discriminate between minds differently constituted, so as to know on whom, and how punishments were to be inflicted.” It is probable that, with such a character, reason and gentleness would have had more influence. Little Martin, however, fared no better in this respect at school : his master beat him fifteen times in one day. From this severity, perhaps, it was that, in his early years, the only religious feeling that Martin Luther possessed was that of fear. time he heard the name of Christ mentioned he grew pale, regarding him as an angry judge."

That desire for learning and for light which the outbreaking of a new spirit was spreading over Germany was known even among the mines of Mansfeld; and John Luther, observing with pride the talents of his son, resolved to send him from his home to push his own way as a poor scholar, in the manner that many German youths then did and still do. Martin was, therefore, sent at the age of fourteen to the school of the Franciscan monks at Magdeburg, where the boys were gratuitously instructed, but obliged to maintain themselves.

It happened just then that an Augustin monk was preaching there with great energy on the necessity of a reform in the church, and his discourses might have had some effect on the boy's mind; but he himself said he had too many daily cares to suffer him to dwell much on such a subject. He had hardly any means of subsisting, save what public charity afforded. Martin had no friends, and gives a deplorable account of his situation : at study he trembled before his masters, and in the hours of recreation he was obliged to accompany lads as poor as himself in search of daily food.

In Germany this is not an uncommon practice. “I used,” says Luther, “ to beg some few victuals with my comrades. One day, at Christmas time, we were traversing the neighbouring villages together, singing, in four voices, our carols about the infant Jesus, born at Bethlehem ; we stopped before a peasant's dwelling at the end of the village; the peasant hearing us sing came out with some provisions, and called in a loud voice, Where are you, boys? ' Terrified at the sound, we ran off with all speed. We had no need to fear, but our hearts were rendered timid by the threats and tyranny with which masters used then to load their pupils, so that a panic seized us. However, as the peasant continued to call us, we stopped, dismissed our fears, ran to him, and received the good things he gave us.

It is thus we are accustomed to tremble and fly when our conscience is guilty and terror-stricken ; when we fear even those who wish to do us good.”

After one year of such a life, Martin's parents, hearing of his sufferings, sent him to another town, where he had relations; but, while studying there, he seems to have been no better off. Music is much practised and highly cultivated in Germany; it is practised and loved by all classes of people, and, in some parts, young men studying divinity, or students for other learned professions, frequently make admirable harmony in the streets in order to obtain some money to assist them in the expenses of their studious life.

Martin Luther was always a lover of music, and possessed very great talents, as well as an extensive knowledge of the art. When a youth he sang with his fellow-students in the streets, and from door to door, to obtain, as he himself afterwards said, a morsel of bread. He was very timid, (though, from moral power, through grace, he afterwards proved bold as a lion in the cause of truth,) and when instead of bread he sometimes received worse than a stone, that is unkind words and usage, he went away directly, thought of his hard lot, and shed tears. One day he was thus turned off from three houses, and was thinking of returning to his own dreary abode, hungry and sad, when, having stopped in a fit of reflection in the street, he was noticed by a kind woman, named Cotta, who had observed him in the church, and been struck with the sweetness of his voice and his apparent piety. She had heard him harshly spoken to, and, calling him to her house, supplied him with food to satisfy his hunger. This kind woman's husband proved equally kind; he was pleased with young Luther, and very soon after took him to live entirely in his house.

Martin now led a very different life from what he had hitherto done; he was free from care and from reproach ; he


could study without distraction ; his mind became calm, and his temper more open; for the mind of youth, like plants to the sunshine, will expand to the genial warmth of human love and kindness; his heart was lighter and happier; he was thankful to God, and prayed to him more fervently.

His thirst for knowledge increased, and he was able to gratify it. Besides devoting himself to learning and science, he studied the fine arts, which were then gaining ground in Germany: he learned to play on the flute and on the lute, and, in times of sadness, often soothed his heart by accompanying the latter instrument with his fine voice. In this way, also, he was able to make some return to the good dame who supported his indigent youth, and who was very fond of music. It was, in speaking of this benevolent friend in after

years, that Luther remarked, “ There is nothing sweeter on this earth than the heart of a woman in which piety has fixed its

When the voice of the famous Reformer had reached kings upon their thrones, and been heard from one end of Europe to the other, he was not ashamed to recall the memory of days when that voice had been heard singing daily or nightly in the streets in order to procure him the means of pursuing the studies which he afterwards turned to such vast account. Poor children forced to employ the same means of living always excited his sympathy. 66 Do not,” he would say,

despise the boys who sing from door to door ; I, too, have done the same. It is true my father afterwards maintained me at the university by the sweat of his own brow, still I have been a poor alms-taker, and now I have made such way

with my pen that I would not change fortunes with the Grand Turk himself; nay more, were all earth's goods piled together I would not take them in exchange for what I possess : yet I should not have reached the state in which I now am if I had not been to school and learned to write.” Martin made rapid progress in the ancient languages; he wrote discourses and made verses; some of our finest hymns are of his composition. He studied eloquence too with much success, as he showed in his after life; he was cheerful, obliging, and a general favourite with his masters and comrades.

When he had reached his eighteenth year he longed to enter an university ; and his father, proud of his talents, desired that he should do so, and wished him to study law. Martin, accordingly, entered the university of Erfurth. It was said of him while there, that, being endowed with a

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »