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Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family By Elizabeth Rundle Charles Characters: 4737

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Fritz's Story.

December 31, 1522.

We are betrothed. Solemnly in the presence of our family and friends Eva has promised to be my wife; and in a few weeks we are to be married. Our home (at all events, at first) is to be in the Thuringian forest, in the parsonage belonging to Ulrich von Gersdorf's castle. The old priest is too aged to do anything. Chriemhild has set her heart on having us to reform the peasantry, and they all believe the quiet and the pure air of the forest will restore my health, which has been rather shattered by all I have gone through during these last months, although not as much as they think. I feel strong enough for anything already. What I have lost during all those years in being separated from her! How poor and one-sided my life has been! How strong the rest her presence gives me, makes me to do whatever work God may give me!

Amazing blasphemy on God to assert that the order in which he has founded human life is disorder, that the love which the Son of God compares to the relation between himself and his Church sullies or lowers the heart.

Have these years then been lost? Have I wandered away wilful and deluded from the lot of blessing God had appointed me, since that terrible time of the plague, at Eisenach? Have all these been wasted years? Has all the suffering been fruitless, unnecessary pain? And, after all, do I return with precious time lost and strength diminished just to the point I might have reached so long ago!

For Eva I am certain this is not so; every step of her way, the loving Hand has led her. Did not the convent through her become a home or a way to the Eternal Home to many? But for me? No, for me also the years have brought more than they have taken away! Those who are to help the perplexed and toiling men of their time, must first go down into the conflicts of their time. Is it not this which makes even Martin Luther the teacher of our nation? Is it not this which qualifies weak and sinful men to be preachers of the gospel instead of angels from heaven?

The holy angels sang on their heavenly heights the glad tidings of great joy, but the shepherds, the fishermen, and the publican spoke it in the homes of men! The angel who liberated the apostles from prison said, as if spontaneously, from the fulness of his heart, "Go speak to the people the words of this life."

But the trembling lips of Peter who had denied, and Thomas who had doubted, and John who had misunderstood, were to speak the life-giving words to men, denying, doubting, misconceiving men, to tell what they knew, and how the Saviour could forgive.

The voice that had been arrested in cowardly curses by the look of divine pardoning love, had a tone in it the Archangel Michael's could never have!

And when the Pharisees, hardest of all, were to be reached, God took a Pharisee of the Pharisees, a blasphemer, a persecutor, one who could say, "I might also have confidence in the flesh," "I persecuted the Church of God."

Was David's secret contest in vain, when slaying the lion and the bear, to defend those few sheep in the wilderness, he proved the weapons with which he slew Goliath and rescued the host of Israel? Were Martin Luther's years in the convent of Erfurt lost? Or have they not been the school-days of his life, the armoury where his weapons were forged, the gymnasium in which his eye and hand were trained for the battle-field?

He has seen the monasteries from within; he has felt the monastic life from within. He can say of all these internal rules, "I have proved them, and found them powerless to sanctify the heart." It is this which gives the irresistible power to his speaking and writing. It is this which by God's grace enables him to translate the Epistles of Paul the Pharisee and the Apostle as he has done. The truths had been translated by the Holy Spirit into the language of his experience, and graven on his heart long before; so that in rendering the Greek into German he also testified of things he had seen, and the Bible from his pen reads as if it had been originally written in German, for the German people.

To me also in my measure these years have not been time lost. There are many truths that one only learns in their fulness by proving the bitter bondage of the errors they contradict.

Perhaps also we shall help each other and others around us better for having been thus trained apart. I used to dream of the joy of leading her into life. But now God gives her back to me enriched with all those years of separate experience, not as the Eva of childhood, when I saw her last, but ripened to perfect womanhood; not merely to reflect my thoughts, but to blend the fulness of her life with mine.

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