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   Chapter 22 No.22

Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family By Elizabeth Rundle Charles Characters: 38992

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Elsè's Story.

October, 1521.

Christopher has just returned from a journey to Halle. They have dared once more to establish the sale of indulgences there, under the patronage of the young and self-indulgent Archbishop Albert of Mainz. Many of the students and the more thoughtful burghers are full of indignation at seeing the great red cross once more set up, and the heavenly pardons hawked through the streets for sale. This would not have been attempted, Gottfried feels sure, had not the enemy believed that Dr. Luther's voice is silenced for ever. Letters from him are, however, privately handed about among us here, and more than one of us know that he is in safe keeping not very far from us.

November.

Gottfried has just brought me the letter from Luther to the Archbishop of Mainz; which will at least convince the indulgence-mongers that they have roused the sleeping lion.

He reminds the Archbishop-Elector that a conflagration has already been raised by the protest of one poor insignificant monk against Tetzel; he warns him that the God who gave strength to that feeble human voice because its spoke his truth, "is living still, and will bring down the lofty cedars and the haughty Pharoahs, and can easily humble an Elector of Mainz although there were four Emperors supporting him." He solemnly requires him to put down that avaricious sale of lying pardons at Mainz, or he will speedily publish a denunciation (which he has already written) against "The New School at Halle." "For Luther," he says, "is not dead yet."

We are in great doubt how the Archbishop will bear such a bold remonstrance.

November 20.

The remonstrance has done its work. The Prince Archbishop has written a humble and apologetic letter to Dr. Luther, and the indulgences are once more banished from Halle.

At Wittemberg, however, Dr. Luther's letters do not at all compensate for his absence. There is great confusion here, and not seldom there are encounters between the opposite parties in the streets.

Almost all the monks in the Augustinian Convent refused some weeks since to celebrate private masses or to adore the host. The gentle Dr. Melancthon and the other doctors at first remonstrated, but were at length themselves convinced, and appealed to the Elector of Saxony himself to abolish these idolatrous ceremonies. We do not yet know how he will act. No public alterations have yet been made in the Church services.

But the great event which is agitating Wittemberg now is the abandonment of the cloister and the monastic life by thirteen of the Augustinian monks. The Pastor Feldkirchen declared against priestly vows, and married some months since. But he was only a secular priest; and the opinions of all good men about the marriage of the priests of the parochial churches have long been undivided amongst us.

Concerning the monks, however, it is different. For the priests to marry is merely a change of state; for the monks to abandon their vows is the destruction of their order, and of the monastic life altogether.

Gottfried and I are fully persuaded they are right; and we honour greatly these men, who, disclaiming maintenance at other people's expense, are content to place themselves among the students at the university. More especially, however, I honour the older or less educated brethren, who, relinquishing the consideration and idle plenty of the cloister, set themselves to learn some humble trade. One of these has apprenticed himself to a carpenter; and as we passed his bench the other day, and watched him perseveringly trying to train his unaccustomed fingers to handle the tools, Gottfried took off his cap and respectfully saluted him, saying,-

"Yes, that is right. Christianity must begin again with the carpenter's home at Nazareth."

In our family, however, opinions are divided. Our dear, anxious mother perplexes herself much as to what it will all lead to. It is true that Fritz's second imprisonment has greatly shaken her faith in the monks; but she is distressed at the unsettling tendencies of the age. To her it seems all destructive; and the only solution she can imagine for the difficulties of the times is, that these must be the latter days, and that when everything is pulled down, our Lord himself will come speedily to build up his kingdom in the right way.

Deprived of the counsel of Fritz and her beloved Eva, and of Dr. Luther-in whom lately she had grown more to confide, although she always deprecates his impetuosity of language-she cannot make up her mind what to think about anything. She has an especial dread of the vehemence of the Archdeacon Carlstadt; and the mild Melancthon is too much like herself in disposition for her to lean on his judgment.

Nevertheless, this morning, when I went to see them, I found her busily preparing some nourishing soup; which, when I asked her, she confessed was destined for the recusant monk who had become a carpenter.

"Poor creatures," she said apologetically, "they were accustomed to live well in the cloister, and I should not like them to feel the difference too suddenly."

Our grandmother is more than eighty now. Her form is still erect, although she seldom moves from her arm-chair; and her faculties seem little dimmed, except that she cannot attend to anything for any length of time. Sometimes I think old age to her is more like the tender days of early spring, than hard and frosty winter. Thekla says it seems as if this life were dawning softly for her into a better; or as if God were keeping her, like Moses, with undimmed eyes and strength unabated, till she may have the glimpse of the Promised Land, and see the deliverance she has so long waited for close at hand.

With our children she is as great a favourite as she was with us; she seems to have forgotten her old ways of finding fault; either because she feels less responsibility about the third generation, or because she sees all their little faults through a mellowed light. I notice, too, that she has fallen on quite a different vein of stories from those which used to rivet us. She seems to pass over the legendary lore of her early womanhood, back to the experiences of her own stirring youth and childhood. The mysteries of our grandfather's history, which we vainly sought to penetrate, are all opened to Gretchen and the boys. The saints and hermits, whose adventures were our delight, are succeeded by stories of secret Hussite meetings to read the Scriptures among the forests and mountains of Bohemia; of wild retreats in caves, where whole families lived for months in concealment; of heart-rending captures or marvellous escapes.

The heroes of my boys will be, not St. Christopher and St. George, but Hussite heretics! My dear mother often throws in a warning word to the boys, that those were evil times, and that people do not need to lead such wild lives now. But the text makes far more impression on the children than the commentary.

Our grandmother's own chief delight is still in Dr. Luther's writings. I have lately read over to her and my father, I know not how many times, his letter from the Wartburg, "to the little band of Christ at Wittemberg," with his commentary accompanying it on the 37th Psalm-"Fret not thyself because of evildoers."

Our dear father is full of the brightest visions. He is persuaded that the whole world is being rapidly set right, and that it matters little, indeed, that his inventions could not be completed, since we are advancing at full speed into the Golden Age of humanity.

Thus, from very opposite points and through very different paths, he and my mother arrive at the same conclusion.

We have heard from Thekla that Ulrich has visited Dr. Luther at the Wartburg, where he is residing. I am so glad to know where he is. It is always so difficult to me to think of people without knowing the scene around them. The figure itself seems to become shadowy in the vague, shadowy, unknown world around it. It is this which adds to my distress about Fritz. Now I can think of Dr. Luther sitting in that large room in which I waited for the Elector with my embroidery, so many years ago-looking down the steep over the folded hills, reaching one behind another till the black pines and the green waving branches fade into lovely blue beneath the golden horizon. And at sunset I seem to see how the shadows creep over the green valleys where we used to play, and the low sun lights up the red stems of the pines.

Or in the summer noon I see him sitting with his books-great folios, Greek, and Hebrew, and Latin-toiling at that translation of the Book of God, which is to be the blessing of all our people; while the warm sunbeams draw out the aromatic scent of the fir-woods, and the breezes bring it in at the open window.

Or at early morning I fancy him standing by the castle walls, looking down on the towers and distant roofs of Eisenach, while the bell of the great convent booms up to him the hour; and he thinks of the busy life beginning in the streets, where once he begged for bread at Aunt Ursula Cotta's door. Dear Aunt Ursula, I wish she could have lived till now, to see the rich harvest an act of loving-kindness will sometimes bring forth.

Or at night, again, when all sounds are hushed except the murmur of the unseen stream in the valley below, and the sighing of the wind through the forest, and that great battle begins which he has to fight so often with the powers of darkness, and he tries to pray, and cannot lift his heart to God, I picture him opening his casement, and looking down on forest, rook, and meadow, lying dim and lifeless beneath him, glance from these up to God, and re-assure himself with the truth he delights to utter-

"God lives still!" feeling, as he gazes, that night is only hiding the sun, not quenching him, and watching till the grey of morning slowly steals up the sky and down into the forest.

Yes, Dr. Melancthon has told us how he toils and how he suffers at the

Wartburg, and how once he wrote, "Are my friends forgetting to pray for me, that the conflict is so terrible?" No; Gottfried remembers him always among our dearest names of kith and kindred.

"But," he said to-day, "we must leave the training of our chief to God."

Poor, tried, perplexed Saint Elizabeth! another royal heart is suffering at the Wartburg now, another saint is earning his crown through the cross at the old castle home; but not to be canonized in the Papal Calendar!

December 21.

The chapter of the Augustinian Order in Thuringia and Misnia has met here within this last month, to consider the question of the irrevocable nature of monastic vows. They have come to the decision that in Christ there is neither layman nor monk; that each is free to follow his conscience.

Christmas Day, 1521.

This has been a great day with us.

Archdeacon Carlstadt announced, some little time since, that he intended, on the approaching Feast of the Circumcision, to administer the holy sacrament to the laity under the two species of bread and wine. His right to do this having been disputed, he hastened the accomplishment of his purpose, lest it should be stopped by any prohibition from the court.

To-day, after his sermon in the City Church, in which he spoke of the necessity of replacing the idolatrous sacrifice of the mass by the holy supper, he went to the altar, and, after pronouncing the consecration of the elements in German, he turned towards the people, and said solemnly,-

"Whosoever feels heavy laden with the burden of his sins, and hungers and thirsts for the grace of God, let him come and receive the body and blood of the Lord."

A brief silence followed his words, and then, to my amazement, before any one else stirred, I saw my timid, retiring mother slowly moving up the aisle, leading my father by the hand. Others followed; some with reverent, solemn demeanour, others perhaps with a little haste and over-eagerness. And as the last had retired from the altar, the archdeacon, pronouncing the general absolution, added solemnly,-

"Go, and sin no more."

A few moments' pause succeeded, and then, from many voices here and there, gradually swelling to a full chorus, arose the Agnus Dei,-

"Lamb of God, who takest away the sin of the world, have mercy on us. Give us peace."

We spent the Christmas, as usual, in my father's house. Wondering, as I did, at my mother's boldness, I did not like to speak to her on the subject; but, as we sat alone in the afternoon, while our dear father, Gottfried, Christopher and the children had gone to see the skating on the Elbe, she said to me,-

"Elsè, I could not help going. It seemed like the voice of our Lord himself saying to me, 'Thou art heavy laden-come!' I never understood it all as I do now. It seemed as if I saw the gospel with my eyes,-saw that the redemption is finished, and that now the feast is spread. I forgot to question whether I repented, or believed, or loved enough. I saw through the ages the body broken and the blood shed for me on Calvary; and now I saw the table spread, and heard the welcome, and I could not help taking your father's hand and going up at once."

"Yes, dear mother, you set the whole congregation the best example!" I said.

"I!" she exclaimed. "Do you mean that I went up before any one else? What! before all the holy men, and doctors, and the people in authority? Elsè, my child, what have I done? But I did not think of myself, or of any one else. I only seemed to hear His voice calling me; and what could I do but go? And, indeed, I cannot care now how it looked! Oh, Elsè," she continued, "it is worth while to have the world thus agitated to restore this feast again to the Church; worth while," she added with a trembling voice, "even to have Fritz in prison for this. The blessed Lord has sacrificed himself for us, and we are living in the festival. He died for sinners. He spread the feast for the hungry and thirsty. Then those who feel their sins most must be not the last but the first to come. I see it all now. That holy sacrament is the gospel for me."

February 10, 1522.

The whole town is in commotion.

Men have appeared among us who say that they are directly inspired from heaven; that study is quite unnecessary-indeed, an idolatrous concession to the flesh and the letter; that it is wasting time and strength to translate the Holy Scriptures, since, without their understanding a word of Greek or Hebrew, God has revealed its meaning to their hearts.

These men come from Zwickau. Two of them are cloth-weavers; and one is Münzer, who was a priest. They also declare themselves to be prophets. Nicholas Storck, a weaver, their leader, has chosen twelve apostles and seventy-two disciples, in imitation of our Lord. And one of them cried in awful tones, to-day through the streets,-

"Woe, woe to the impious governers of Christendom! Within less then seven years the world shall be made desolate. The Turk will overrun the land. No sinner shall remain alive. God will purify the earth by blood, and all the priests will be put to death. The saints will reign. The day of the Lord is at hand. Woe! woe!"

Opinions are divided throughout the university and the town about them. The Elector himself says he would rather yield up his crown and go through the world a beggar than resist the voice of the Lord. Dr. Melancthon hesitated, and says we must try the spirits whether they be of God. The Archdeacon Carlstadt is much impressed with them, and from his professorial chair even exhorts the students to abandon the vain pursuits of carnal wisdom, and to return to earn their bread, according to God's ordinance, in the sweat of their brow. The master of the boys' school called, from the open window of the school-room, to the citizens to take back their children. Not a few of the students are dispersing, and others are in an excitable state, ready for any tumult. The images have been violently torn from one of the churches and burnt. The monks of the Convent of the Cordeliers have called the soldiers to their aid against a threatened attack.

Gottfried and others are persuaded that these men of Zwickau are deluded enthusiasts. He says, "The spirit which undervalues the word of God cannot be the Spirit of God."

But among the firmest opponents of these new doctrines is, to our surprise, our charitable mother. Her gentle, lowly spirit seems to shrink from them as with a heavenly instinct. She says, "The Spirit of God humbles-does not puff up."

When it was reported to us the other day that Nicholas Storck had seen the angel Gabriel in the night, who flew towards him and said to him, "As for thee, thou shalt be seated on my throne!" the mother said,-

"It is new language to the angel Gabriel, to speak of his throne. The angels in old times used to speak of the throne of God."

And when another said that it was time to sift the chaff from the wheat, and to form a Church of none but saints, she said,-

"That would never suit me then. I must stay outside, in the Church of redeemed sinners. And did not St. Paul himself say, as Dr. Luther told us, 'Sinners, of whom I am chief?'"

"But are you not afraid," some one asked her, "of dishonouring God by denying his messengers, if, after all, these prophets should be sent from him?"

"I think not," she replied quietly. "Until the doctors are sure, I think I cannot displease my Saviour by keeping to the old message."

My father, however, is much excited about it; he sees no reason why there should not be prophets at Wittemberg as well as at Jerusalem; and in these wonderful days, he argues, what wonders can be too great to believe?

I and many others long exceedingly for Dr. Luther. I believe, indeed, Gottfried is right, but it would be terrible to make a mistake; and Dr. Luther always seems to see straight to the heart of a thing at once, and storms the citadel, while Dr. Melancthon is going round and round, studying each point of the fortifications.

Dr. Luther never wavers in opinion in his letters, but warns us most forcibly against these delusions of Satan. But then people say he has not seen or heard the "prophets." One letter can be discussed and answered long before another comes, and the living eye and voice are much in such a conflict as this.

What chief could lead an army on to battle by letters?

February 26, 1522.

Our dove of peace has come back to our home; our Eva! This evening, when I went over with a message to my mother, to my amazement I saw her sitting with her hand in my father's, quietly reading to him the twenty-third psalm, while my grandmother sat listening, and my mother was contentedly knitting beside them.

It seemed as if she had scarcely been absent a day, so quietly had she glided into her old place. It seemed so natural, and yet so like a dream, that the sense of wonder passed from me as it does in dreams, and I went up to her and kissed her forehead.

"Dear Cousin Elsè, is it you!" she said. "I intended to have come to you the first thing to-morrow."

The dear, peaceful, musical voice, what a calm it shed over the home again!

"You see you have all left Aunt Cotta," she said, with a slight tremulousness in her tone, "so I am come back to be with her always, if she will let me."

There were never any protestations of affection between my mother and Eva, they understand each other

so completely.

February 28.

Yes, it is no dream. Eva has left the convent, and is one of us once more. Now that she has resumed all her old ways, I wonder more than ever how we could have got on without her. She speaks as quietly of her escape from the convent, and her lonely journey across the country, as if it were the easiest and most every-day occurrence. She says every one seemed anxious to help her and take care of her.

She is very little changed. Hers was not a face to change. The old guileless expression is on her lips-the same trustful, truthful light in her dark soft eyes; the calm, peaceful brow, that always reminded one of a sunny, cloudless sky, is calm and bright still; and around it the golden hair, not yet grown from its conventual cutting, clusters in little curls which remind me of her first days with us at Eisenach. Only all the character of the face seems deepened, I cannot say shadowed, but penetrated with that kind of look which I fancy must always distinguish the face of the saints above from those of the angels,-those who have suffered from those who have only sympathized; that deep, tender, patient, trusting, human look, which is stamped on those who have passed to the heavenly rapturous "Thy will be done," through the agony of "Not my will, but Thine."

At first Gretchen met her with the kind of reverent face she has at church; and she asked me afterwards, "Is that really the Cousin Eva in the picture?" But now there is the most familiar intimacy between them, and Gretchen confidingly and elaborately expounds to Cousin Eva all her most secret plans and delights. The boys, also, have a most unusual value for her good opinion, and appear to think her judgment beyond that of ordinary women; for yesterday little Fritz was eagerly explaining to her the virtues of a new bow that had been given him, formed in the English fashion.

She is very anxious to set nine young nuns, who have embraced the Lutheran doctrine, free from Nimptschen. Gottfried thinks it very difficult, but by no means impracticable in time.

Meanwhile, what a stormy world our dove has returned to!-the university well-nigh disorganized; the town in commotion; and no German Bible yet in any one's hands, by which, as Gottfried says, the claims of these new prophets might be tested.

Yet it does not seem to depress Eva. She says it seems to her like coming out of the ark into a new world; and, no doubt, Noah did not find everything laid out in order for him. She is quite on my mother's side about the prophets. She says, the apostles preached not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord. If the Zwickau prophets preach him, they preach nothing new; and if they preach themselves, neither God nor the angel Gabriel gave them that message.

Our great sorrow is Fritz's continued imprisonment. At first we felt sure he would escape, but every month lessens our hopes, until we scarcely dare speak of him except in our prayers. Yet daily, together with his deliverance, Gottfried and I pray for the return of Dr. Luther, and for the prosperous completion of his translation of the German Bible, which Gottfried believes will be the greatest boon Dr. Luther has given, or can ever give, to the German people, and through them to them Christendom.

Saturday, March 8, 1522.

The great warm heart is beating amongst us once more!

Dr. Luther is once more dwelling quietly in the Augustinian cloister, which he left for Worms a year ago. What changes since then! He left us amid our tears and vain entreaties not to trust his precious life to the treacherous safe-conduct which had entrapped John Huss to the stake.

He returns unscathed and triumphant-the defender of the good cause before emperor, prelates, and princes-the hero of our German people.

He left citizens and students for the most part trembling at the daring of his words and deeds.

He returns to find students and burghers impetuously and blindly rushing on the track he opened, beyond his judgment and convictions.

He left, the foremost in the attack, timidly followed as he hurried forward, braving death alone.

He returns to recall the scattered forces, dispersed and divided in wild and impetuous pursuit.

Will, then, his voice be as powerful to recall and reorganize as it was to urge forward?

He wrote to the Elector, on his way from the Wartburg, disclaiming his protection-declaring that he returned to the flock God had committed to him at Wittemberg, called and constrained by God himself, and under mightier protection than that of an elector! "The sword," he said, "could not defend the truth. The mightiest are those whose faith is mightiest. Relying on his master, Christ, and on him alone, he came."

Gottfried says it is fancy, but already it seems to me I see a difference in the town-less bold, loud talking, than the day before yesterday; as in a family of eager, noisy boys, whose father is amongst them again. But after to-morrow, we shall be able to judge better. He is to preach in the city pulpit.

Monday, March 10, 1522.

We have heard him preach once more. Thank God, those days in the wilderness, as he called it, have surely not been lost days for Dr. Luther.

As he stood again in the pulpit, many among the crowded congregation could not refrain from shedding tears of joy. In that familiar form and truthful, earnest face, we saw the man who had stood unmoved before the emperor and all the great ones of the empire-alone, upholding the truth of God.

Many of us saw, moreover, with even deeper emotion, the sufferer who, during those last ten months, had stood before an enemy more terrible than pope or emperor, in the solitude of the Wartburg; and while his own heart and flesh were often well-nigh failing in the conflict, had never failed to carry on the struggle bravely and triumphantly for us his flock; sending masterly replies to the University of Paris; smiting the lying traffic with indulgences, by one noble remonstrance, from the trembling hands of the Archbishop of Mainz; writing letter after letter of consolation or fatherly counsel to the little flock of Christ at Wittemberg; and, through all, toiling at that translation of the Word of God, which is the great hope of our country.

But older, tenderer, more familiar associations, mastered all the others when we heard his voice again-the faithful voice that had warned and comforted us so long in public and in private. To others, Dr. Luther might be the hero of Worms, the teacher of Germany, the St. George who had smitten the dragon of falsehood: to us he was the true, affectionate pastor; and many of us, I believe, heard little of the first words of his sermon, for the mere joy of hearing his voice again, as the clear, deep tones, vibrated through the silent church.

He began with commending our faith. He said we had made much progress during his absence. But he went on to say, "We must have more than faith-we must have love. If a man with a sword in his hand happens to be alone, it matters little whether he keep it in the scabbard or not; but if he is in the midst of a crowd, he must take care to hold it so as not to hurt any one.

"A mother begins with giving her infant milk. Would it live if she gave it first meat and wine?

"But, thou, my friend, hast, perhaps had enough of milk! It way be well for thee. Yet let thy weaker, younger brother take it. The time was when thou also couldst have taken nothing else.

"See the sun! It brings us two things-light and heat. The rays of light beam directly on us. No king is powerful enough to intercept those keen, direct, swift rays. But heat is radiated back to us from every side. Thus, like the light, faith should ever be direct and inflexible; but love, like the heat, should radiate on all sides, and meekly adapt itself to the wants of all.

"The abolition of the mass, you say," he continued, "is according to Scripture. I agree with you. But in abolishing it, what regard had you for order and decency? You should have offered fervent prayers to God, public authority should have been applied to, and every one would have seen then that the thing came from God.

"The mass is a bad thing; God is its enemy: it ought to be abolished; and I would that throughout the whole world it were superceded by the supper of the gospel. But let none tear any one away from it with violence. The matter ought to be committed to God. It is His Word that must act, and not we. And wherefore? do you say? Because I do not hold the hearts of men in my hand as the potter holds the clay in his. Our work is to speak; God will act. Let us preach. The rest belongs to him. If I employ force, what do I gain? Changes in demeanour, outward shows, grimaces, shams, hypocrisies. But what becomes of sincerity of heart, of faith, of Christian love? All is wanting where these are wanting; and for the rest I would not give the stalk of a pear.

"What we want is the heart; and to win that, we must preach the gospel. Then the word will drop to-day into one heart, to-morrow into another, and will so work that each will forsake the mass. God effects more than you and I and the whole world combined could attempt. He secures the heart; and when that is won, all is won.

"I say not this in order to re-establish the mass. Since it has been put down, in God's name let it remain so. But ought it to have been put down in the way it has been? St. Paul, on arriving at the great city of Athens, found altars there erected to false gods. He passed from one to another, made his own reflections on all, but touched none. But he returned peaceably to the Forum, and declared to the people that all those gods were mere idols. This declaration laid hold on the hearts of some, and the idols fell without Paul's touching them. I would preach, I would speak, I would write, but I would lay constraint on no one; for faith is a voluntary thing. See what I have done! I rose in opposition to the pope, to indulgences, and the Papists; but I did so without tumult or violence. I pressed before all things the word of God; I preached, I wrote; I did nothing else. And while I was asleep, or seated at table in conversation with Amsdorf and Melancthon, over our Wittemberg beer, that Word which I had been preaching was working, and subverted the popedom as never before it was damaged by assault of prince or emperor. I did nothing; all was done by the Word. Had I sought to appeal to force, Germany might by this time have been steeped in blood. And what would have been the result? Ruin and desolation of soul and body. I therefore kept myself quiet, and left the Word to force its own way through the world. Know you what, the devil thinks when he sees people employ violence in disseminating the gospel among men? Seated with his arms crossed behind hell fire, Satan says, with a malignant look and hideous leer, 'Ah, but these fools are wise men, indeed, to do my work for me!' But when he sees the Word go forth and engage alone on the field of battle, then he feels ill at ease; his knees smite against each other, he shudders and swoons away with terror."

Quietly and reverently, not with loud debatings and noisy protestations of what they would do next, the congregation dispersed.

The words of forbearance came with such weight from that daring, fearless heart, which has braved the wrath of popedom and empire above for God, and still braves excommunication and ban!

Wednesday, March 11.

Yesterday again Dr. Luther preached. He earnestly warned us against the irreverent participation in the holy sacrament. "It is not the external eating, which makes the Christian," he said; "it is the internal and spiritual eating, which is the work of faith, and without which all external things are mere empty shows and vain grimaces. Now this faith consists in firmly believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; that having charged himself with our sins and our iniquities, and having borne them on the cross, he is himself the sole, the all-sufficient expiation; that he ever appears before God; that he reconciles us to the Father, and that he has given us the sacrament of his body in order to strengthen our faith in that unutterable mercy. If I believe these things, God is my defender: with him on my side, I brave sin, death, hell, and demons; they can do me no harm, nor even touch a hair of my head. This spiritual bread is the consolation of the afflicted, the cure of the sick, the life of the dying, food to the hungry, the treasure of the poor. He who is not grieved by his sins, ought not, then, to approach this altar. What would he do there? Ah, did our conscience accuse us, did our heart feel crushed at the thought of our shortcomings, we could not then lightly approach the holy sacrament."

There were more among us than the monk Gabriel Didymus (a few days since one of the most vehement of the violent faction, now sobered and brought to his right mind), that could say as we listened, "Verily it is as the voice of an angel."

But, thank God, it is not the voice of an angel, but a human voice vibrating to every feeling of our hearts-the voice of our own true, outspoken Martin Luther, who will, we trust, now remain with us to build up with the same word which has already cleared away so much.

And yet I cannot help feeling as if his absence had done its work for us as well as his return. If the hands of violence can be arrested now, I cannot but rejoice they have done just as much as they have.

Now, let Dr. Luther's principle stand. Abolish nothing that is not directly prohibited by the Holy Scriptures.

March 30.

Dr. Luther's eight discourses are finished, and quiet is restored to Wittemberg. The students resume their studies, the boys return to school; each begins with a lowly heart once more the work of his calling.

No one has been punished. Luther would not have force employed either against the superstitious or the unbelieving innovators. "Liberty," he says, "is of the essence of faith."

With his tender regard for the sufferings of others we do not wonder so much at this.

But we all wonder far more at the gentleness of his words. They say the bravest soldiers make the best nurses of their wounded comrades. Luther's hand seems to have laid aside the battle-axe, and coming among his sick and wounded and perplexed people here, he ministers to them gently as the kindest woman-as our own mother could, who is herself won over to love and revere him with all her heart.

Not a bitter word has escaped him, although the cause these disorders are risking is the cause for which he has risked his life.

And there are no more tumults in the streets. The frightened Cordelier monks may carry on their ceremonies without terror, or the aid of soldiery. All the warlike spirits are turned once more from raging against small external things, to the great battle beginning everywhere against bondage and superstition.

Dr. Luther himself has engaged Dr. Melancthon's assistance in correcting and perfecting the translation of the New Testament, which he made in the solitude of the Wartburg. Their friendship seems closer than ever.

Christopher's press is in the fullest activity, and all seem full of happy, orderly occupation again.

Sometimes I tremble when I think how much we seem to depend on Dr. Luther, lest we should make an idol of him; but Thekla, who is amongst us again, said to me when I expressed this fear,-

"Ah, dear Elsè, that is the old superstition. When God gives us a glorious summer and good harvest, are we to receive it coldly and enjoy it tremblingly, lest he should send us a bad season next year to prevent our being too happy? If he sends the dark days, will he not also give us a lamp for our feet through them?"

And even our gentle mother said,-

"I think if God gives us a staff, Elsè, he intends us to lean on it."

"And when he takes it away," said Eva, "I think He is sure to give us his own hand instead! I think what grieves God is, when we use his gifts for what he did not intend them to be; as if, for instance, we were to plant our staff, instead of leaning on it; or to set it up as an image and adore it, instead of resting on it and adoring God. Then, I suppose, we might have to learn that our idol was not in itself a support, or a living thing at all, but only a piece of lifeless wood."

"Yes," said Thekla decidedly, "when God gives us friends, I believe he means us to love them as much as we can. And when he gives us happiness, I am sure he means us to enjoy it as much as we can. And when he gives soldiers a good general, he means them to trust and follow him. And when he gives us back Dr. Luther and Cousin Eva," she added, drawing Eva's hand from her work and covering it with kisses, "I am quite sure he means us to welcome them with all our hearts, and feel that we can never make enough of them. O Elsè," she added, smiling, "you will never, I am afraid, be set quite free from the old fetters. Every now and then we shall hear them clanking about you, like the chains of the family ghost of the Gersdorfs. You will never quite believe, dear good sister, that God is not better pleased with you when you are sad than when you are happy."

"He is often nearest," said Eva softly, "when we are sad." And Thekla's lip quivered and her eyes filled with tears as she replied in a different tone,-

"I think I know that too, Cousin Eva."

Poor child, she has often had to prove it. Her heart must often ache when she thinks of the perilous position of Bertrand de Crèqui among his hostile kindred in Flanders. And it is therefore she cannot bear a shadow of a doubt to be thrown on the certainty of their re-union.

The evangelical doctrine is enthusiastically welcomed at Antwerp and other cities of the Low Countries. But, on the other hand, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities oppose it vehemently, and threaten persecution.

May, 1522.

Dr. Luther has had an interview with Mark Stübner, the schoolmaster Cellarius, and others of the Zwickau prophets and their disciples. He told them plainly that he believed their violent, self-willed, fanatical proceedings were suggested, not by the Holy Spirit of love and truth, but by the spirit of lies and malice. Yet he is said to have listened to them with quietness. Cellarius, they say, foamed and gnashed his teeth with rage, but Stübner showed more self-restraint.

However, the prophets have all left Wittemberg, and quiet is restored.

A calm has come down on the place, and on every home in it-the calm of order and subjection instead of the restlessness of self-will. And all has been accomplished through the presence and the words of the man whom God has sent to be our leader, and whom we acknowledge. Not one act of violence has been done since he came. He would suffer no constraint either on the consciences of the disciples of the "prophets," or on those of the old superstition. He relies, as we all do, on the effect of the translation of the Bible into German, which is now quietly and rapidly advancing.

Every week the doctors meet in the Augustinian Convent, now all but empty, to examine the work done, and to consult about the difficult passages. When once this is accomplished, they believe God will speak through those divine pages direct to all men's hearts, and preachers and doctors may retire to their lowly subordinate places.

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