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retentive memory and a lively imagination, whatever he read or heard was always present to his mind as if he had seen it with his own eyes. At this period of his life Martin was of a serious cast of mind : his trying life had probably taught him to put his dependence upon God; and this sense of dependence is both the source of true humility and the incentive to all great actions and exertions. Every day the young student asked the Divine blessing on his labours: he began it with prayer, and then went to church, afterwards commenced study, and never needlessly lost a moment. He would often say, “ To pray well is more than half way to studying well."
The library of the university was a treasure to him, for books in those days were exceedingly scarce. One day he discovered in it the greatest treasure and the rarest bookit was the Bible. He was astonished to find it contained more of the sacred writings than the Church ordered to be read in her service: he happened to open at the interesting history of Hannah and her little son Samuel ; its simplicity and beauty filled him with delight; the song of Hannah inspired him with admiration, and he exclaimed, “Oh! if God would cause me to possess such a book ! That Bible was in Latin. Martin did not foresee that God would cause him not merely to possess such a book, but to make it known and common in the world by translating it into his native language. Every day he returned to the library to read the treasure he had found there.
In the course of the same year Martin was brought very near death, in consequence of excessive study for his examination. He was not prepared for death, and expressed his fears to a good old priest, who bade him to cheer up, for God would yet make of him a man who should console many. He augured well from the young man's spiritual distress : “ For God,” he said to him, “lays his cross on those he loves, and those who bear it with patience acquire much wisdom.” The discourse of this priest, and the perusal of the Bible, together with the natural effects of a serious illness, produced a great effect on Martin Luther's mind. He believed religion to be the one thing needful, and that, before all else, he ought to seek to secure his salvation.
He went to Mansfeld to see his parents, and perhaps to tell them of his wish to pursue divinity rather than law. On his
way back he was caught in an awful thunder-storm : while the lightning flashed around him, the fear of death over
whelmed him ; his conscience represented God as a God of judgment, not of mercy. He fell on his knees and vowed that he would become a monk, that he would enter a convent, and there lead a holy and devoted life. Martin re.. turned to his university, resolved that nothing should interfere with this resolution. He would not tell it to any one, fearing the dissuasions of friends, who admired him for his talents and genius.
When he had matured his plan he invited all his companions and fellow-students to supper, at which the music they loved was once more practised, and they were all cheerful and gay as usual. Their young host at once became serious, and, as the evening drew to a close, informed them that that was to be their last meeting, the last time they should ever unite in social cheer ; that thenceforth his sole companions should be monks; and the silence of the cloister, or quiet devotion of the chapel, must supply the place of their enlivening music and songs, or of their no less animated and intellectual discourse.
They all arose astonished, and combated his design ; but, fearing their intreaties, the young man left the university that very night, taking with him, of all his goods, only two books, a Greek poem, and a comedy! With these unsuitable companions, Martin appeared, in the darkness of night, at the door of the hermits of St. Augustin, demanded admission, and was received; thus, at the age of twenty one, abandoning his parents, friends, and pursuits, with the world, in which, by his varied talents and pleasant manners, he might have shone, to become an Augustin monk. This was a severe shock to his poor father, who could not so easily resign the prospects he had cherished for him : it was long before he could be reconciled; at last he reluctantly said, “Be it so; and God grant that he may prosper!”
If Luther had entered the convent with any worldly views, and not in the pious, but mistaken idea of obtaining spiritual peace there by wholly devoting himself to God and holiness, he would have made a great mistake in the former respect also. The monks, it is said, were glad to receive a doctor of the university, but did not wish that his learning or talents should exalt him above themselves. They set him the most unworthy and menial tasks; made him act as porter, wind up the clock, sweep the church, and clean the apartments; then, when he fancied all was done for the day, they would cry to him, “ Through the town with the bag;” and he was obliged
to carry out the bag and beg for the convent even at the houses of his former friends.
Martin's mind, however, was one that gave itself up to the work set before it: he bore all this, and wished to think his trials a part of his duty to Christ. He rejoiced to retire to his beloved studies; but often, just as he commenced them, some of the brothers would enter and say, “Come, it is not as a student you can be useful to the convent, but as a beggar of bread, flour, eggs, and fish, or money; and then Martin laid down his books and resumed the bag. Endowed with inflexible perseverance, he did not regret having entered the convent, and this determination of will and purpose being strengthened by his trials afterwards rendered him the wonderful man he became. His object in becoming a monk was to be holy : he strove to obtain this by mortifying himself; a little bread and herring was his diet, and fasting was so habitual to him, even from childhood, that his friend Melancthon said he could remain without food for four days together. Martin was anxious to fulfil his duties. “Never," it has been said, “ did the church of Rome possess a more pious monk; never did convent witness more sincere and arduous efforts to purchase eternal happiness.” When Martin Luther became more enlightened, he said, “Heaven was not to be bought;" and he knew this speech was true.
In writing to Duke George of Saxony in after days, he thus speaks of this time: "Truly I have been a pious monk, and have followed the rules of my order more severely than I can express. If ever monk had entered heaven by his
profession I should have so entered it: of this all churchmen who have known me can bear testimony. I might have been a martyr by dint of prayer, reading, watching, fasting, and other labours.” Martin Luther, however, was to learn a great truth—that salvation is not to be bought ; a great change was to take place in his own mind, and by means of that change he was to be the instrument of bringing light and freedom to the world, and of effecting a most wonderful, religious, and political revolution in Europe.
The childhood and youth of Martin Luther are now, however, ended. It can only briefly be added that the change effected in his mind was that which relates to men's justification with God. We must leave him in his convent, endeavouring to obtain righteousness before God by the deeds of the law, through yhich the apostle says, “No flesh shall be justified ;” “and how," asked Luther himself afterwards,
“ how could I, with works defiled in their very principle, stand before the holiness of my Judge? I felt myself to be a great sinner before God, and I saw it was not possible for me to appease him by my merits.”
Thus it was that Martin Luther arrived at “ the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.” It was this conviction of his sinfulness and inability to atone for it, that finally led him to seek for spiritual peace here, and eternal life hereafter, in the righteousness and merits of our Saviour; and that doctrine of justification by faith, which his preaching and writings proclaimed to the world, was the great cause of the Reformation, and is the chief doctrinal difference between the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches.
* KEEP TO THAT, AND YOU WILL DO. “KEEP to that, and you will do,” was a saying very often in the mouth of Rowland Dunn. I must have heard him say it, over and over, at least a hundred times, and he always brought it in well. I never think of Rowland Dunn without thinking at the same time of his favourite saying.
“Where was the text yesterday?” said he to Henry Hobbs, a boy who lived in the next parish. This was on a Monday morning, when Henry had brought him a message from his master. I dare say you remember where the text was yesterday? Henry told him it was the 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes, and that the words were
66 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” “Ay, ay,” said Rowland, " that is a text worth keeping in your memory; keep to that, and you will do. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction, Prov. i. 7. The text has more in it, Henry, than you
think it has, but you will find it out some day; keep to that, and you will do."
Roger Hart had quarrelled many times with Robert Mason, and Rowland heard of it, so the next time he met Roger he questioned him about it. " Why the truth is,” said Roger,
that Robert is as full of passion as an egg is full of meat. He is so peppery that there is no speaking to him, but I have made up my mind that as we can never meet without quarrelling, I will keep out of his way.” Very good," said Rowland, you could hardly follow a wiser plan. He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly.' • Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly,'
Prov. xvii. 12. Your resolution is a wise one; keep to that, and you
will do.” “ And how do you intend to manage, my little maid ?” said Rowland to Peggy Blake, who, though a very little girl, was going as a kind of under nurse-girl up at the Grange. “ How do you intend to behave yourself?” “ If you please," said Peggy, “I mean to do what my father and mother tell
"And that is the proper way of going to work,” says Rowland. 66 The commandment says, - Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee,' Exod. xx. What your pious parents tell
you to do, will, I doubt not, be right," said Row
keep to that, Peggy, and you will do.” As Rowland one day walked up the lane by the crooked crabtree, he met old Susan Law, so he asked her how she was getting on in her way to heaven. 6 What are you resting on, Susan ? What are you resting on?” Poor Susan told him that the ground had crumbled under her feet many times, but that, by God's help, she would in future try to stand on the Rock of Ages, for she knew that this alone could be safe. “ You are right, Susan,” replied Rowland, “ for that Rock will stand when all other rocks are crumbled away; keep to that, and you will do.”
William Tanner had been a sad wild young fellow, and had given his parents a great deal of trouble. Often and often had Rowland Dunn talked to him in vain, but at last he seemed inclined to mend. “I mean," said he, “in future to leave off reading those foolish books that led me astray, and to stick to my Bible.” 6. You cannot stick to a better thing,” said Rowland, “ Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto 'according to thy word,” Psa. cxix. 9. “ If you have made up your mind to be guided by God's holy word, I have hopes of you ; keep to that, William, and you will do.”
One morning early, Rowland Dunn fell in with Thomas Gough, the shepherd, who was removing, with the help of his dog, a flock of sheep from one field to another. morning, Thomas," said he, “ your sheep like a change, no doubt, as well as we do. You are the shepherd of this flock, but who is your Shepherd ?" Thomas Gough, being a humble Christian, replied, “ Blessed be God, The Lord is my Shepherd' and I shall not want,' Psa. xxiii. 1.” “I expected as much,” said Rowland, with a cheerful smile on his face; “ keep to that, Thomas, and you will do."