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Luther, Martin

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the greatest of the Reformers of the Christian Church, whose name is the watchword of Protestantism, and marks a new aera in the history of Europe.

I. Youth. He sprang from an old and widely-extended German family, of which there are documentary traces as early as 1137. He was born at Eisleben, a village of Lower Saxony, November 10, 1483 (see, however, an argument for a later date, 1484, Studien u. Kritiken, 1872) fifteen years before the martyrdom of Savonarola. As one of the heralding stars declined to its setting in blood, the Morning Star of the Reformation drew near the horizon of the new day. His father, Hans Luther, was a miner of the village of Moehra. His mother's name was Margaretha Lindemann. His parents subsequently removed to Mansfeld, and there his father became a man of property and town senator.

Luther grew up under pious but rigorous discipline. His father was characterized by severity, tempered with great honesty and clearness of judgment. Luther's mother was a woman of earnest piety, which, however, had also a tinge of harshness. Luther went to school at Magdeburg in 1497, in 1498 to Eisenach, and in 1501 he entered the University of Erfurt. Here he took the Bachelor's degree in 1503, and the degree of Master of Arts, which entitled him to teach in the university, in 1505. He was designed for the profession of the law; but a prevailing discomfort and occasional anguish of mind, under a sense of sin and the dread of the wrath of God, heightened first by the sudden, violent death of a friend, and later by a stroke of lightning which fell near his feet, determined Luther quite otherwise. He vowed to St. Ann that he would become a monk. The evening before his entrance to the cloister of the Augustinians he spent in lively conversation and song with his university friends, and the first announcement to them of his purpose was made at the close of the festal hours. "To-day you see me; after this you will see me no more," said Luther. When night was passing into morning, July 17,1505, he presented himself for admission at the convent soon to become the the birthplace of Lutheran Protestantism and of the evangelical doctrine of justification by faith without the works of the law.

II. Cloister Life (1505-1517). He passed through his novitiate, and finally, in opposition to his father's wishes, to whom it seemed that his son had chosen "a life little differing from death," took the vows, and was consecrated to the priesthood May 2, 1507. Luther had entered the priesthood to find peace for his soul. He says, "I chose for myself twenty- one saints, read mass every day, calling on three of them each day, so as to complete the circuit every week; especially did I invoke the holy Virgin, as her womanly heart was more easily touched, that she might appease her Son. I verily thought that by invoking three saints daily, and by letting my body waste away with fastings and watchings, I should satisfy the law and shield my conscience against the goad; but it all availed me nothing: the further I went on in this way the more was I terrified, so that I should have given over in despair had not Christ graciously regarded me, and enlightened me with the light of the Gospel." From his deep depression of soul he was lifted by a brother in the cloister, who fixed his attention on the article in the Apostles' Creed, "I believe in the remission of sins." Staupitz, one of the noblest men of his time, dealt with Luther very faithfully. "Staupitz," says Luther, "once comforted me on this wise: 'You would be a painted sinner, and have a painted Christ as a Savior. You must make up your mind that you are a very sinner, and that Christ is a very Savior.' "I sought to make out the meaning of Paul in the term 'the righteousness of God,' and at last I came to apprehend it thus: Through the Gospel is revealed the righteousness which availeth with God a righteousness by which God in his mercy and compassion justifieth us, as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.' The expression, 'the righteousness of God,' which I so much hated before, became now dear and precious, my darling and most comforting word and that passage of Paul was to me the true door of Paradise."

Luther now zealously devoted himself to the earnest study of theology. "The writings of Biel and D'Ailly he could repeat almost word for word; Occam he read long and carefully, and rated his acumen higher than that of Thomas and Scotus. He read Gerson with diligence, but the entire writings of Augustine he had read more frequently and fixed more thoroughly in his memory than any others" (Melancthon, Vit. Luth.). "Next after the holy Scriptures," says Luther, "no teacher in the Church is to be compared with Augustine; take the entire body of the fathers together, there is not to be found in them half that we find in Augustine alone" (Werke, 14:209). It was an unconscious presage when Luther, on entering the cloister, took the name of Augustine. Among the mediaeval writers, Bernard held the highest place in Luther's regard. "If ever there was a holy monk, Bernard was that monk. He is golden when he teaches and preaches then he surpasses all the doctors in the Church" (Werke, 12:1696; 22:2050). Augustine and Bernard became increasingly precious to him as his continued studies of the holy Scriptures brought him to a profounder acquaintance with the truth. In 1508 his scholarship received acknowledgment by a call to the chair of philosophy in the newly-founded University of Wittenberg, the capital of the old electorate. The university was under the protection of the elector (Frederick) not of an ecclesiastic which was a happy circumstance for its part in the future. Its patron saints were Paul and Augustine. Luther went thither, and lectured on dialectics and physics according to Aristotle. In 1509 he became Baccalaureus ad Biblia; 1511, Sententiarius (Sentences of Lombard, first two books), Formatus (Sentences, last two books); October 4, 1512, Licentiatus (to teach theology in general); and October 19, 1512, Doctor of Theology, a degree which involved not a mere honor, but an office, in receiving which Luther swore "to teach purely and sincerely according to the Scriptures." He now transferred his labors from philosophy to theology. His favorite books, on which he delivered his earliest theological lectures, were the Psalms and the Epistle to the Romans. The lectures rested upon a study of the Vulgate and of the fathers. Philosophy he still prized, but most of all as a handmaid to true theology, which, he says, "searches for the kernel of the nut, the marrow of the fruit." A journey to Rome was made by Luther in 1510, on foot. He went partly in the interests of his order, and yet more as a pilgrim. As the Eternal City rose before his eyes, he fell on his knees. and fervently exclaimed, "Hail, sacred Rome! thrice hallowed with the blood of martyrs!" St. Peter's was half finished. The man now looked upon it who was to make its completion the bankruptcy of Rome, though Rome held the world's coffers in her hands. New Rome stood on the heaped graves of the dead, old pagan city. Luther was not insensible to the historical and antiquarian interest which clustered around every site, but every other feeling was subordinate to the religious one. He was full of honest fervor, full of pious credulity. He went up the staircase of Pilate on his knees, yet with his heart protesting as he crept: Not thus do "the just live by faith." He looked upon the handkerchief of Veronica; he gazed on the heads of Paul and Peter, and his strong sight was too much for his strong credence he pronounced the heads carvings in wood, and bad carvings. Luther saw the pomps and the corruptions of Rome, but his heart remained fixed still in its strong love to the "Roman Church, honored of God above all others" (1519).

The visitation of the cloisters of Misnia and Thuringia, conducted by Luther (1516), in the absence of the provincial Staupitz (who was then in the Netherlands), was the means of opening Luther's eyes to the corruptions among the people and the clergy, but did not shake his faith in the Church. "His first prejudices were enlisted in the service of the worst portion of the Roman Catholic Church; his opening reason was subjected to the most dangerous perversion; and a sure and early path was opened to his professional ambition. Such was not the discipline which could prepare the mind for any independent exertion; such were not the circumstances from which any ordinary mind could have emerged into the clear atmosphere of truth. In dignity a professor, in theology an Augustinian, in philosophy a Nominalist, by education a mendicant monk, Luther seemed destined to be a pillar of the Roman Catholic Church, and a patron of all its corruptions."

The first light of the Gospel as Luther sheds it, beams forth in his lectures on the Psalms and Romans. Among his earliest works are his series of sermons on the Ten Commandments, his exposition of the penitential psalms, printed in 1517, and his exposition of the Lord's Prayer, delivered during Lent in 1517, and printed in 1518. He had become a student of Tauler and of the "German theology." The influence of the pure and profound mysticism of these books shows itself in all of Luther's later life, for true mysticism is the internal mirror of the truth of God. Luther's advance in Biblical study, and the influence of this loftier mysticism, brought him more and more out from the influence of Aristotle and of scholasticism. He was unconsciously preparing for the opening of that grand part which he was to play in the history of the Church and in the history of mankind.

The traffic in indulgences (q.v.) had been brought into the vicinity of Wittenberg, with the approval of the archbishop of Mayence, by Tetzel, a Dominican monk. The expressions with which Tetzel recommended his treasure appear to have been marked with peculiar impudence and indecency. But the act had in itself nothing novel or uncommon; the sale of indulgences had long been recognized as the practice of the Roman Catholic Church, and was sometimes censured by its more firm or more prudent members. But the crisis had at length arrived in which the iniquity could no longer be repeated with impunity. The cup was at length full, and the hand of Luther was destined to dash it to the ground. In the attitude which Luther took toward this traffic, his design was not to array himself against the Church, but to vindicate her against what he believed to be an abuse of her sacred name. At the confessional and in the pulpit he began to warn his people. He wrote earnest letters of remonstrance to the bishops of Brandenburg and Mayence, holding in regard to repentance that a distinction is to be made between the internal repentance, which is of the heart, and tie external thing of confession and satisfaction. Receiving unfavorable comments on his position from the prelates, he determined to make his opposition public.

III. First Movements as a Reformer (October 31, 1517-May 4, 1521). On the 31st of October, 1517, at midday, Luther affixed to the castle church at Wittenberg ninety-five theses, which he proposed to defend at the university, completely denying the position on which Tetzel rested the merits of indulgences. He declared, in substance, that the command of Jesus to repent implies that the whole life is to be a repentance, not to be confounded with the confession and satisfaction made to a priest. Repentance, indeed, demands with that which is internal an external mortification of the flesh. The power of the papal indulgence can go no further than the penances imposed by the pope himself. The papal indulgence, consequently, can produce no reconciliation with God, nor, in fact, take away the guilt of the smallest daily sin. The pope can only announce and confirm the forgiveness imparted by God. This, indeed. is not to be despised, yet it can be found without the pope's indulgence where there is true compunction and faith. The true treasure of the Church is not a treasure of indulgences entrusted to the pope, but is the Gospel of the grace of God. He distinctly held the obtaining of grace to be a thing of immediate relation between the sousl and God. In these theses Luther believed that he expressed throughout the mind of the pope, who he supposed was ignorant of the abuses that had been practiced in his name. It seems at first remarkable that Luther gives so little prominence to faith in the theses, and in the sermons on indulgence and grace which appeared simultaneously with the theses, and were meant for the people, November 1517. But a careful study will show that his conception of repentance is that larger Biblical one in which it embraces both penitence and faith. Repentance is sometimes used as synonymous with penitence, and we then speak of repenting and believing, repentance and faith. Sometimes repentance covers both, and then God is said to command men everywhere to repent. Thus, in the 12th art. of the Augsburg Confession, it is said: "Repentance properly consists of these two parts: The first is contrition, or the terrors of a conscience smitten with acknowledged sin. The other part is faith, which is conceived from the Gospel or absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake sins are remitted." "This first act of Luther's evangelical life," says Gieseler, "has been hastily ascribed by at least three eminent writers of very different character Bossuet, Hume, and Voltaire to the narrow monastic motive, the jealousy of a rival order. It is asserted that the Augustinian friars had usually been invested in Saxony with this profitable commission, and that it only became offensive to Luther when transferred to the Dominicans. There is no ground for this assertion. The Dominicans had been for nearly three centuries the peculiar favorites of the holy see, and objects of all its partialities; and it is particularly remarkable that, after the middle of the fifteenth century, during a period scandalously fruitful in the abuse in question, we very rarely meet with the name of any Augustinian as employed in that service. Moreover, it is almost equally important to add that none of the contemporary adversaries of Luther ever advanced this charge against him, even at the moment in which the controversy was carried on with the most unscrupulous wrath." The influence of the theses was instantly felt far and wide. "The theses," says Luther himself, "ran clear through all Germany in fourteen days, for all the world was complaining about the indulgences; and be cause all the bishops and doctors were silent, and nobody was willing to bell the cat, Luther became a renowned doctor, because at last somebody had come who took hold of the thing." Luther, in his frank, artless confidence that the pope would be his most enthusiastic patron, was soon undeceived, but his higher trust was strengthened by the course of events. "If," said he, "the work be of God, who call overthrow it?" (Compare here the article (See LEO X) in this volume, especially page 363 sq. A careful reprint of the theses, after the original, is givesn in Ranke's Reformation's Geschichte.)

In 1518 the Augustinian Order held a convention at Heidelberg. All of Luther's friends counseled him against going thither, as his life was threatened. Luther, faithful to the vow to his order, went, on foot, to the convention. In Heidelberg he disputed on theses in theology and philosophy; on free-will and the fall; grace, faith, justification, and good works. He took ground against Aristotle. An immense audience, not only of students, but of citizens and courtiers, attended the disputation. Amongr the auditors were Bucer, Brentius, and others, destined to play a memlorable part in the scenes of the coming Reformation. Meanwhile the principles maintained in the ninety-five theses had provoked the assaults of a number of stanch adherents to the practice of the indulgence traffic; but Luther stoutly defended himself against all of them in his "Resolutiones," that is, solution of points in dispute concerning the virtue of indulgences; and, still hoping for redress from Rome, sent these to Leo X. His appeal was first of all to holy Scripture, and, next to this, to Augustine, as the profoundest expositor of Scripture among the fathers.

While the elector, in the interest of the university, protected Luther, Rome avoided coming to the last extremity. As early as February 1518, the pope had instructed the general of the Augustinian Order, Gabriel Venetus, to turn Luther from the path he was following. As this measure failed of success, Luther had been called forward for trial to Rome. By the intercession of the elector, in place of appearing at Rome to answer the citation, the appointment was made that cardinal Cajetan should give him a hearing at Augsburg. Urban, the orator of the marquis of Montferrat, tried his arts of persuasion previous to Luther's meeting Cajetan. To him Luther said, "If I call be convinced that I have said anything in conflict with the understanding of the holy Roman Church, I will at once condemn it, and retract it." Urban said, "Do you think the elector is going to hazard his land for you?" Luther replied, "I would in no wise have it so." "Where, then, will you abide?" Luther answered, "Under the cope of heaven." The Italian replied, "Had you the pope and the cardinals in your power, what would you do?" "I would," said Luther, "give them all due honor and reverence." At this the messenger, after the Italian manner, biting his thumbs, went away (Fuller, Abel Redivivus [Nichols], 1867, 1:44).

The cardinal himself attempted, October 1518, to bring "little brother Martin" to submission, but without success. "I don't wish to talk more with this beast; he has a deep eye, and marvellous speculations in his head." The good offices of Staupitz, the head of the Augustinians, and a firm friend of Luther, were also called in to move Luther, but the service was not one after his heart. When Luther asked Staupitz for some other interpretation of the Scripture than that on which his faith rested, Staupitz acknowledged that he could not give it, and showed where his heart was when he said to Luther "Remember, dear brother, that thou hast begun in the name of Jesus." In order that Luther might not be hampered, Staupitz had absolved him from the vow of obedience to the order. Luther finally appealed from "our most holy master Leo X, illy informed, to Leo X, to be better informed." Having reason to fear violence, he made his escape in the night of October 20. Staupitz furnished him with a horse and an old guide. Luther, disguised in a long mantle, barefooted, and unarmed, rode until the evening of the day following, and when dismounted, could not stand, but lay helpless on the straw. At Grafenthal he was overtaken by count Albert of Mansfeld, who laughed heartily at Luther's style of horsemanship, and insisted on having him as his guest. Two days after Luther's departure the appeal was fastened to the door of the cathedral at Augsburg.

The papal bull of the month following condemned the attacks upon indulgences, and claimed for the pope the power of delivering sinners from all punishments due to every sort of transgression. Luther, now despairing of any reasonable accommodation with the pontiff, finding that nothing short of the six letters " r e v o c o" would answer, appealed on November 25, 1518, from the pope to a general council. Leo, however, by this time aware of the greatness of the schism likely to occur in the German Church, seeing around Luther fast gathering the great, and the strong, and the learned, hastily dispatched Miltitz, the papal chamberlain and legate, whose moderation and skill adapted him for the mission of conciliation. Though he utterly failed to procure any recantation, he yet succeeded in obtaining from Luther (1519) an expression of submissiveness, and induced him to write to the pope a letter full of courtesy and humility, promising silence if it were also imposed on his adversaries. (See LEO X.)

IV. Leipsic Disputation. But the vanity and eagerness of his opponents were too great to allow the stipulation any practical force. They saw spurs to be won, and would not lift their lances from rest. Eck in the previous year (1518) had challenged Carlstadt to a disputation, but his whole course proved that Luther was to be the main object of his attack, and Luther hesitated not to appear in defense. The disputation took place at Leipsic, in the Pleissenberg Castle, from June 26 to July 16, 1519. Carlstadt was no match for Eck, who was incomparably the best debater on the side of Rome in the century. The discussion was so tedious at times that the hall was emptied. The debate itself, and the part Luther himself took during its progress, have already been spoken of in the article ECK (See ECK) ,

The breach with Rome was decided at these disputations by Luther's declaration that among the articles of Huss there were also some condemned by the Council of Constance completely Christian and evangelical, thus clearly denying, de facto, the authority of the Church to decide in matters of faith. In August 1520, appeared the reformatory writing, "To the Christian Nobles of the German Nation, of the bettering of the Christian State." In this work Luther unsparingly exposed what the pope had done to convert the Germans, a noble, loyal race, into treacherous perjurers, and showed with what forbearance Germany had borne these indignities. The German knighthood had offered to draw sword in Luther's defense, but he declined the aid of all earthly power, as out of keeping with the holy interests of the kingdom.

This great book showed to the knights that Luther's arms were mightier than theirs. In his book, " Of the Babylonish Captivity of the Church," October 6, 1520, Luther presented the doctrinal aspects of the Reformation, as in his book to the nobles he had looked at it in its political relations. He demanded the total abrogation of indulgences as "devilish institutions," the restoration of the cup to the laity, the limitation of the number of the sacraments: "If we wish to speak rigidly, there are in the Church two sacraments only." He declared transubstantiation to be no article of faith, and set forth the view that "true bread and true wine," not their mere accidents, remain in the Supper. He urges the cessation of external ecclesiastical satisfactions. Through the whole he argues the sufficiency of the faith by which alone man is justified. It might have seemed fixed that reconciliation with the Church of Rome was no longer possible; yet, as the result of a second conference with Miltitz at Lichtenberg, October 12, 1520, Luther expressed himself willing once more to test the question. If reconciliation were to be had at all, the sermon "Of the Freedom of a Christian Man" (Wittenb. 1520) breathed the very spirit in which alone it was possible. It is "pleasant, without polemics, full of devoutness, and of the overwhelming might of love to God and love to man. In it the reformatory principle appears in its depth, its rich devotional spirit, its religious freshness. Its life- breath is the spirit of the higher peace; it contains a treasure of new impulses for the intellectual, and, indeed, the speculative life of the Christian soul. The evangelical principle, as it involves faith and love, has perhaps never been unfolded with such clearness, fullness, and depth. It is noble and full of significance that Luther appended this golden little book to his last letter to the pope (September 6, 1520), as if with a petition for a peaceful separation and a more kindly construction. But it is a happy thing besides to note the quiet self-possession, the profound repose, and clearness of soul with which Luther stood as the strife grew more threatening, and the bull of excommunication was impending. This undoubted mirror of a childlike heart, reflecting the peace of heaven, is in amazing contrast with the thunder-storm which gathered about it, and is a demonstration that the confessor of the justification which is by faith had what he confessed, and was what he taught" (Dorner, Gesch. der Prot. Theol. pages 101, 108).

Rome had meanwhile been getting ready to settle the whole matter by a coup de main. In September 1520, Eck appeared in Germany with the papal bull, dated June 15. It condemned as heresies forty-one propositions extracted from Luther's writings, ordered his works to be burned wherever they were found, and summoned him, on pain of excommunication, to confess and retract his errors within sixty days, and to throw himself upon the mercy of the pope. This bull brought Luther to a step decisive beyond recall. Susceptible to gentleness, he met violence and threatening with unshakable courage. Like a great general, promptly accepting the warfare forced upon him, he carried the war instantly into the heart of the enemy's territory. Before the gate which opens towards the river Elster, at Wittenberg, in the presence of a vast multitude of all ranks and orders, he burned the papal bull, and with it the decree, the decretals, the Clementines, the Extravagants, the entire code of Romish canon law, as the root of all the evil, December 10, 1520. Archdeacon Manning, whose testimony here will carry peculiar weight, says: 'The just causes of complaint which made Luther first address the bishops, his steady appeals through every gradation of ecclesiastical order to the award of a general council; and, on the other, the violent and corrupt administration of Leo X, ending in an excommunication against a man whose cause was still unheard, seem effectually to clear both him and those who, for his sake, were driven from the unity of the Church from the guilt of schism" (Unity of the Church [London, 1842], pages 328, 329).

Thus Luther broke openly, as he had already broken virtually, with Rome, forever. This final rupture gave a character of sharpest decision to his appeal to a general council, with which he prefaced the burning of the bull, and to his writings Against the Bull of Antichrist, against Emser, and others. He still continued a faithful member of the Catholic Church of the West, holding its old faith, which knew nothing of a pope with unlimited despotic authority. He stood then in many respects in the same general position which is occupied by Dollinger now. The bull of excommunication promptly followed, January 6, 1521. In consequence of Luther's daring act, the papal legate, Alexander, demanded of the Diet sitting at Worms that he should be put under the ban of the empire. But it was the wish of the estates of the empire that, in advance of giving effect to the papal bull, Luther should be summoned to appear and have a hearing before the Diet. To this Diet, against the urgent advice of his friends, under a safeguard from Charles V, who had succeeded Maximilian in 1519, Luther went, saying, "Though there were as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on its roofs, still would I enter." In the memorable transaction at Worms, " the most splendid scene in history," as it has been styled, Luther stood in the presence of the emperor, the archduke Ferdinand, six electors, twenty-four dukes, eight margraves, thirty bishops, and other princes and prelates of the realm, April 17-18, 1521. It "was the most remarkable assembly ever convened on earth an empire against a man! Lucas Cranach's picture represents Luther as he stood there, so lone and strong, with his great full heart a second Prometheus, confronting the Jove of the 16th century and the German Olympus." "His friends were yet few, and of no great influence; his enemies were numerous and powerful, and eager for his destruction: the cause of truth, the hope of religious regeneration, appeared to be placed at that moment in the discretion and constancy of one man. The faithful trembled." But Luther was victorious in his good confession. Having examined the books laid before him, April 17, he acknowledged them as his own.

After deep reflection, for which he had solicited time, he defended himself on the following day in an address of two hours in length. He upheld freedom of conscience, and denied the right of the priesthood to control by force the religious convictions of men. His manner was free from all vehemence, his expression was modest, gentle, and humble; "but in the matter of his public apology he declined in no one particular from the fullness of his convictions. Of the numerous opinions which he had by this time adopted at variance with the injunctions of Rome, there was not one which in the hour of danger he consented to compromise." At the close of his speech, which was in German, he complied with the request to repeat it in Latin, for the sake of the emperor and of others. When urged with the direct question whether he would recant, he replied in Latin, "Unless I shall be convinced by the testimonies of the Scriptures or by evident reason (for I believe neither pope nor councils alone, since it is manifest they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted, and my conscience is held captive by the word of God; and as it is neither safe nor right to act against conscience, I cannot and will not retract anything." He added in German, "Here I stand; I cannot otherwise; God help me. Amen" (Acta Wormatiae habitae, in Opera [Jena], 2:414. The historical character of these last [German] words has been disputed [see Burckhardt, Stud. u. Krit. 1869], but without good grounds). Luther's enemies now made violent efforts to effect his ruin. They counseled the violation of the imperial safe-conduct. They appealed to the crime of Constance as a precedent. Charles replied that if honor were banished from every other home, it ought to find refuge in the heart of kings. The ban of the empire was published May 25, 1521. It made Luther an outlaw.

V. The Wartburg Exile and the Return (May 5, 1521-1522). On Luther's return from Worms the imperial herald accompanied him to the border of Hesse. At this point Luther, with no companion but Amsdorf, turned his face towards Mohra, to visit his grandmother. At Altenstein, May 4, in the Thuringian Forest, he was seized by masked horsemen, and was taken for protection by his friend the elector to the Wartburg, the Patmos of the opening apocalypse of history (see "Leo and Luther," by Eugene Lawrence, in Harper's Monthly, 39:91-106). Here, in the apparel of a knight, he was known as Jungker George. His enemies accounted for his sudden disappearance by asserting that he had been carried off by the devil, a theory which, from their point of view, does not give to that august person the due generally conceded to his sagacity if Rome was right, there was no one whom the devil had so much reason to wish to keep on earth as Luther. The leisure enjoyed by Luther at the Wartburg was employed by him in preparing the first draught of the translation of the New Testament. After an exile of ten months he was called back to Wittenberg, March 6, 1522, by the disorders which had broken out. The Augustinian monks had abrogated the mass; in the transactions which took place between them, the university, and the elector, Carlstadt had intermeddled. Carlstadt had gone on at once to introduce what, in his judgment, were manifest consequences of Luther's principles. The communion was administered in both kinds, with the exclusion of the sacrificial elements and of the mass, and without confession. A great number of the usual ceremonies also were set aside, and the marriage of the priests, and of others under ecclesiastical vows, was introduced. The radical violence of the whole tendency and of its modes gave evidence that Carlstadt was availing himself of Luther's absence to attempt what he would not have dared to do when Luther was present.

The passionate violence of Carlstadt was fanned by the Zwickau Prophets, who at this time made their appearance at Wittenberg. The wild storm of iconoclasm was met by Luther with discussion for the scholar, with sermons for the people. The personal character and force of Luther, the solid truth of his position, and his irresistible popular eloquence gained a complete victory over Carlstadt (q.v.). The two men were in heart sundered from this hour, though they did not come into open controversy until 1525. Previous to the struggle with Carlstadt the life of Luther in every element and trait had made an ineffaceable impression of grandeur on the hearts of the whole German nation. Every independent heart, and all the nobler Roman Catholics, acknowledged him in the highest sense a man of the people, and, in a sense not less high, a man of God. He had "opened the sanctuary of a pure faith, and in heroic struggle had kept it open" (Dorner, Hist. of Prot. Theol., trans. by Robson and Sophia Taylor [Edinb. 1871], 1:97, 98). At this time took place his change from monasticism and asceticism to evangelical life: the former in 1524, when he dropped the monastic dress; the latter in 1525, when he married. Here also belong the part he took in 1529 at the colloquy in Marburg (q.v.), where an effort was made to harmonize the peculiar views of Luther and Zwingli on the Lord's Supper; and his work for the Augsburg Confession (q.v.).

VI. Last Efforts at Conciliation with Rome. All the later efforts to bridge over the gulf between himself and the papacy Luther regarded as too weak, in their very conception, to justify any great solicitude either of hope or of despair on his part. At Coburg, in 1530, he warned the sanguine among his own adherents of the hopelessness of the effort to compromise with the pope without the sacrifice of the truth. "The colloquy in Wittenberg, November 1535, with Vergerius, the papal nuncio sent by Paul III, Luther considered a farce. The embassy filed into Wittenberg "with twenty-one horses and one ass." Luther confided to his barber the chief preparation he felt it necessary to make for meeting the nuncio of the holy father, and, with a full sense of the humor of the position, put on the best clothes and the largest jewels he could command, and in the splendor of an open carriage, which would now be considered a cart, rode forth "pope of Germany, with cardinal Bugenhagen" at his side. The legate was treated with courtesy, but not with reverence. Luther declared himself willing to appear before a general council whenever it might be summoned, though he should know that it would end in his being burned. Vergerius: "The pope would not be unwilling to meet you here in Wittenberg." Luther: "Let him come; we shall be glad to see him." Vergerius: "Would you prefer his coming with an army, or without one?" Luther: "Just as he pleases; we are ready for him either way." When the legate had mounted, he said to Luther, "See to it that you are ready for the council." Luther replied, "I shall come, sir, if it costs me my head." His opinion of the proposed council was expressed in his work Of Councils and Churches (1539), and by his advice the evangelical (Lutheran) princes declined to participate in the council.

Melancthon in 1545 prepared the Wittenberg Reform, the sketch of a plan of union. To this Luther gave his subscription, but shortly afterwards published his book Against the Papacy at Rome, founded by the Devil, one of the very fiercest of his controversial works.

VII. Luther and the Bohemians. On the other hand, Luther sought to perpetuate the fellowship formed with the Bohemians, who in 1536 had again sent their representatives to him. He wrote prefaces to their Apology of the Faith in 1533 and 1538. The dissatisfaction he had felt in 1541 with some things in their doctrine of the Lord's Supper, which appeared to him suspicious, was dispelled in 1542.

VIII. Luther's last Days. The Protestant princes had drawn the sword in the feud. Luther did all in his power to preserve the peace between the princes and the emperor; but the future looked threatening, and his soul was as full of solicitude as a soul could be whose trust in God was so implicit. The council and the congregation in Wittenberg gave Luther very serious trouble. The great renown and prosperity of Wittenberg, given to it by Luther and his coworkers, had brought the evils which naturally attend the inflowing of wealth and the attainment of position. Frivolity and fashion corrupted the people. Luther fought with all his energies against the evil. In 1530, after a powerful sermon of rebuke, he withdrew, disheartened, for a long time from the pulpit. He at length left Wittenberg, and advised his wife to sell her property there. The elector himself was obliged to interpose, to restore the old relations. From the time of his return Luther continued to preach, but discontinued his lectures.

Luther's last work was one of love and conciliation. Under the pressure of many cares, he started, in February 1546, on a journey to Eisleben, to attempt a conciliation between the counts of Mansfeldt, a work in which they had solicited his good offices. For fourteen years Luther had been a sufferer from severe and complicated diseases. He was not well when he reached the inn at Eisleben, and from the beginning of his sickness had a presentiment that he would die in the place where he was born. He was able, however, to preach once. The day before his death he expressed a strong assurance that we shall know our loved ones in heaven. February 17 he was too ill to leave his bed. When Aurifaber called, he found him so much worse that he summoned medical aid at once. Rubbing and bathing afforded him temporary relief, and about nine o'clock Luther lay down upon a couch, and after gathering a little strength by an hour's rest, proposed to his attendants that he should be helped to his bed. Jonas, and Martin, and Paul, Luther's sons, and two servants, watched by his side. His pains, however, became so great that he could not remain in his bed. Count Albert and the countess sent in haste for their own physicians. Luther used everything prescribed, but spoke of nothing but his death, which he felt sure was at hand. He poured forth his soul in fervent prayer, and, after commending his soul into the hands of God, lay silent and waiting. Among the stimulants used was shavings of the horn of the narwhal, or sea- unicorn, a remedy then greatly prized. None of the stimulants had any effect. A little before his last breath Jonas and Coelius asked him whether he died in firm assurance of the truth of the doctrine he had taught. With a distinct voice, he replied "Yes." He expired about four o'clock in the morning, February 18, 1546 (C.E. Stowe, Last Days and Death of Luther, in the Bibl. Repository, 1845, pages 195, 212).

His body was taken to Wittenberg, followed along the whole route by thousands of mourners, the tolling of the bells, and the dirges which gave expression to a universal sorrow. It was interred in front of the pulpit in the Castle Church. The funeral discourses were pronounced by Bugenhagen and Melancthon. Six weeks after Luther's death his wife wrote: "My dear husband was not the minister of a city, or of a land, but of the whole world. To have lost a princedom, to have lost an empire, would not be such a loss as I deplore" (Briefe [De Wette, Leidemann], 6:650).

Luther's situation in reference to earthly possessions would have been that of very moderate competence (his greatest income was about three hundred gulden), had not his unbounded charity kept him perpetually poor. The large or older cloister of the Austin monks in Wittenberg was given to him by John the Constant. It was purchased from Luther's heirs for the academy at the price of 3700 gulden. Luther purchased the Little Cloister for 430 gulden: it was sold by his heirs for 300 thalers. He also owned an orchard and garden valued at 500 gulden, the manor of Wachsdorf, a malefief valued at 1500 gulden, and the Zeilsdorf property, which sold for 956 gulden. For his books, which enriched his publishers, he would take nothing.

IX. Domestic and Social Life. In the midst of the warfare which conscience compelled him to carry on with Erasmus, Carlstadt, and others, who professed to take in whole or in part the general ground against Rome, Luther entered on that domestic life, the charm of which still wins the heart of men, whose sympathies have been lost to him as a reformer, or as a conservator in reformation. June 13, 1525 he married Catharine von Bora, who had fled from the Cistercian nunnery of Nimptsch. "This was the event of his life which gave most triumph to his enemies and perplexity to his friends. It was in perfect conformity with his masculine and daring mind, that, having satisfied himself of the nullity of his monastic vows, he should take the boldest method of displaying to the world how utterly he rejected them." Luther's intercourse with his wife and children, his letters to them, the touching story of the death of Margaret and of Madeleine, present him as the model of the head of a Christian family (Krauth, Conservative Reform. pages 33-43; Stork, Luther at Home [1872]).

Luther had six children: 1. John, born June 7, 1526, was a jurist in Konigsberg, and died there October 28, 1575. Some of his descendants were found in Bohemia in 1830 in a state of poverty. 2. Elizabeth, born December 10, 1527; died August 3, 1528. 3. Madeleine (Magdalene), born May 4, 1529; died October 20, 1542. 4. Martin, born November 7, 1531, studied theology, but had not the intellectual gifts necessary for the ministry; laid down his office, and died as a private citizen, March 3, 1565. 5. Paul, born January 28, 1533, was physician in ordinary at various courts, and died March 8, 1593. 6. Margaret, born in 1534, was married to George von Kunheim, Prussian counselor, and died in 1570. See Nobbe, Stammbaum der Familie des Dr. Luther (Grimma, 1846); Hofman, Catharine von Bora, oder Luther als Gatte u. Vater (Leipzig, 1845); C. Becker, Luther's Familienleben (Kö nigsb. 1858).

The direct line of male descent from Luther terminated with Martin Gottlob L., who was an advocate in Dresden, and died in 1759. The family of Luther's brother, and of Catharine von Bora, have living representatives.

The great coworkers with Luther were also his dearest personal friends. First among them were Melancthon, Amsdorf, Justus Jonas, and Bugenhagen. The Tischreden (Table-talk), which appeared twenty years after Luther's death. professes to be a record of his conversations, made immediately after them. It is not strictly authentic, and where it conflicts with well known and carefully avowed opinions of Luther, is of no value as testimony. It often presents the prosiest construction of the poetry of Luther's mind, and the dullest matter-of-fact perversion of his most brilliant thoughts. It confounds Luther himself with the character he dramatizes, in order to vivify his aversion to it, and the liveliest sallies of his wit and humor are given with the air of the most solid and painful judgments. Luther's annalist had the idolatry of a Boswell, but little of his skill. Nevertheless, the Table-talk is a record, though a clumsy one, of many of Luther's best sayings.

X. Luther and Erasmus. In their negations Luther and Erasmus had many points of contact and sympathy. Luther admired the polished scholarship of Erasmus; Erasmus acknowledged the power of Luther, the purity of his motives, and the necessity for his earlier work. He wrote to Luther and of him as a friend (1519). When the diversity of their positions, the difference of their characters, and the pressure of circumstances made a conflict between them growingly probable, each dreaded the other as an antagonist as he dreaded no other man. (Compare here Luther's letter to Erasmus, cited in the article ERASMUS.) Erasmus was forced into the controversy. Had Erasmus had his own way, he would perhaps have never entered the lists against Luther, and he would never have written his Defence of freewill. The will of Erasmus was under bondage to the will of Henry VIII. Luther, with more solicitude than the presence of princes and prelates had ever given him, was obliged to take up the gage of battle. To the years 1524-1525 belongs this controversy. It began with an attack on the part of Erasmus in his book De libero Arbistrio. Luther wrote De sesrvo Arbitrio. Erasmus wrote in reply his Hyperasptistes. Luther felt that Erasmus had made no new points, and that his own had been sufficiently put, and the controversy ceased. As regards the vital point in this discussion, the mass of earnest Christian thinkers from Luther's time to this have been a unit in their estimate. Erasmus simply made a development of a refined pagan naturalism (for Pelagianism is no more) under the phrases of Christianity. Luther's main point is the common ground of evangelical Christianity, though many of his particular phrases might not meet with universal approval. "Erasmus makes man at first richer than Luther does, but yet how far is Luther's conception of freedom ultimately superior to that of Erasmus, who views the highest and best element of freedom as reached in freedom of choice, and who accordingly must logically teach an everlasting possibility of falling, and make perfection eternally insecure! Luther's conception of freedom leads to godlike, real freedom by grace; fir this it could seem to be no advantage, but only a defect, to be involved in choice and hesitation" (Dorner, Hist. of Prot. Theol. transl.], 1:217). In justifying the classing of this controversy with Luther's war against Rome, Kostlin says: "Not only did Erasmus write under the pressure brought to bear on him by the papal opponents of Luther, but Luther, in his reply, shows that he recognizes the same interest as involved here, as that which had so far conditioned his whole struggle with Rome. He writes under the consciousness that in Erasmus he has again to do battle with the old principle of the Pelagianism of Rome" (2:36). (Comp. here a review of M. Durand du Laur's Erasme in The Academy, September 15, 1872.)

XI. The character of Luther lies so open in his life that it is hardly necessary to trace its lines. He was so ingenuous that if all the world had conspired to cover up his faults, his own hand would have uncovered them. His violence was that of a mighty nature, strong in conviction, waging the battle of truth against implacable foes. The expressions which jar upon the refined ear of the modern world were natural in a rough aera, and from the lips of one who was too pure to be prudish. The coarsenesses of the mendicant life can hardly fail to leave their traces on any man who has been subjected to them the taint of a system in which filthiness is next to godliness, or, rather is a part of it. The inconsistencies charged upon Luther's thinking are those of a man of great intuitions, who grows perpetually, and who will not stop for the hopeless and useless task of harmonizing with the crudities of yesterday the ripeness of today. His widest diversities, after the sap of Reformation began to swell in his veins, are like those of the tree which bends with the mellow fruit of autumn, careless of consistency with its first buddings in the cold rains of March. That Luther was unselfish, earnest, honest, inflexibly brave in danger, full of tenderness and humanity, the ideal of Germanic strength and of Germanic goodness; that he was one of the great creative spirits of the race, mighty in word and deed, matchless as a popular orator, one of the very people, yet a prince among princes, a child of faith, a child of God this is admitted by all (see Krauth's Conservative Reformat. pages 45-87).

There is scarcely another instance in history in which an individual, without secular authority or military achievement, has so stamped himself upon a people, and made himself to so great an extent the leader, the representative, the voice of the nation. He has been to Germany what Horner was to Greece. "He was the only Protestant reformer," says Bayard Taylor, "whose heart was as large as his brain." (See "An Interview with Martin Luther," in Harper's Monthly, 22:231.) Luther was well-set, not tall, was handsome, with a "clear, brave countenance," and fresh complexion. His eyes were remarkable for their keenness, "dark and deep- set, shining and sparkling like a star, so that they could not well be looked upon," as old Kessler describes them. The fullness of face given him in his later pictures was the result, not of robustness, but of a dropsical tendency, resulting from his early austerities. His physical life was largely one of suffering. His habits were abstemious, and his enjoyments at the table were social, not Epicurean. His voice was not loud nor strong. Melancthon's happy phrase touching Luther's words is, that they were "fulmina," not "tonitrua" it was their lightning, not their thunder, by which their mighty effects were produced. The papal system, the upas of the ages, which they struck, is not dead, but it is riven and blasted from its crown to its root.

XII. Luther as a Conservator. The culmination of Luther's epic for the world at large is undoubtedly the defense at Worms. An obvious source of the diminution of interest in the later years of Luther's life is that the carrying through of what had been so grandly begun presents, in the nature of the case, less that brings before the mind, in all the magic of its unparalleled power, the personal character of Luther. When the warfare is ended, the life of the greatest soldier becomes as tame as that of the ordinary man. But, beyond this, a diminished interest and a divided sympathy are due to the fact that in the development of doctrine and of the constitution of the Church Luther took a position on which the Protestant world has divided. The occasion for the exhibition of Luther's conservatism was given by his conflict with the Zwickau Prophets (1522) and Carlstadt, and by the dreadful excesses of the peasant insurrections. In these he encountered what claimed to be results of the German mystical thinking a mysticism which he himself had cherished; he found that these wild fanatics put their own construction upon his views of Christian liberty and the rights of the congregation, and appealed to those views in self-defense. These results and this construction Luther looked upon with abhorrence. Luther brought to a fuller exhibition what was the real difference in principle between the position of these fanatics and his own. He saw that they consciously ignored and rejected a principle without which reformation would be transformed into a radical and violent revolution, foreign in its own nature to the whole genius and history of Christianity. This principle is that of the unbroken historical life and development of the Church. Not as a something isolated from the Church, but as a divine power within it, had the truth of God reached the soul of Luther. The power which opened to Luther the true nature of repentance, justification, and grace, had not simply lingered in the Church, but had ripened in it, and the Reformation could no more have been, nor Luther have been Luther, without the Church in history, than without the Word. Men are begotten of God through the Word, but the Church is the mother who bears them. The Word of God is the all-sufficient rule of faith, but it must be seen or heard in order to be applied; and the rule of faith does not write itself, print itself, circulate itself, or speak itself, and all the ordinary organs of its perpetuation, circulation, and application are within the Church. The divinity of the Word and the divinity of the Church are doctrines not only in harmony with each other, but necessary to each other's existence. The first without the second is fanaticism, sectarianism, and hopeless individualism; the second without the first is popery. The movement of Luther, from the hour of its riper self-perception, was so completely churchly and historical that the fanatics hated Luther more than they hated the pope. Among the evidences that Luther felt the need of building the sound, as well as of thinning down and removing the rotten, may be mentioned the Wittenberg Order of the Congregations, 1522; the Leisnig Order of the General Fund, 1523; letter to the landgrave of Hesse in regard to the Homberg Church-Order, 1527; the Visitation, 1527-1529; the part he took in the arrangement of the consistories and for the government of the Church. Those who do not sympathize with his conservatism yet admit that Luther's personal religious character was deep and consistent, and that in the sphere of conscience, and where he stands on the verities of his own internal experience, he is the unshakable reformer. But it is said by these objectors that where his own immediate religious consciousness ceases he shows himself under the influence of his earlier views; that, unknown to himself, he stands forth with the "ineffaceable traces of the monk, the priest, and the scholastic theologian." By this supposition is solved the fact that, while he rejected the mass as it embodied the idea that the Lord's Supper is a proper sacrifice, and rejected transubstantiation, he yet found it impossible to abandon the thought that the Lord's Supper veils the mystery of redemption, and is "more than an act in which a congregation unites in a pious and believing memorial." This it was, they think, which led him "to a conception of the sacrament obscure and indeterminate, and to a doctrine which maintains on a scholastic basis the presence of Christ, and the ubiquity, the omnipresence of his body." From the same direction comes the charge that, "blinded by the halo which to the eyes of the people invests the head of the imperial majesty, he overlooked the fact that it is not only Christian for a great cause to go cheerfully to the scaffold, but that it is also Christian and manly for inalienable rights to resist imperial oppression with the sword." Luther's holding back, and Luther's scruples, are charged as the main cause that the Evangelical States made so little use of the favorable opportunities which were so often presented in the political relations of the times; opportunities which, rightly used, would have enabled them to seize and to maintain the pre-eminence.

To these objections it may be answered that all that is of real importance in the judgment of Luther's position as to the Lord's Supper hinges upon the question, Is his doctrine the Biblical one? If it be Biblical, the main objections vanish. They could at the worst fix no more than the charge of doing a right thing in a wrong way. If we were to concede for Luther in these controversies what he confessed for himself at Worms, that he had fallen into personal expressions which did not become his character as a Christian, nor as a minister of Christ, yet we could say for him, as he said for himself at the same great aera, the question is not concerning his person, but his doctrine. If the doctrine be unbiblical, the proof of that fact swallows up all minor questions. But those who prize the thing will at least forgive the mode. Loving him for the "re" in which he was "fortiter," they will absolve him for its sake for having carried the "fortiter" also into the "modo." Here, as elsewhere, the estimate of Luther's character is properly made from the position of those who harmonize with his views, not of those who differ from him, for the practical difference between the construction of firmness and obstinacy usually is, that firmness stands fast to what we cherish, and obstinacy holds stiffly to what we reject, or care nothing about. To the Romanist Luther was obstinate at Worms, firm at Marburg; to the Zwingliau portion of Protestants he was obstinate at Marburg, firm at Worms.

As regards Luther's political position, it may be said that it saved the Reformation in its infancy; and when evil counsels of the friends of Protestantism harmonized with the efforts of the Romanists to drag the question of the aera into the arena of state-struggle, the Reformation was brought to the verge of ruin. Had Luther shared the political views of the Zwinglian side of the Reformation, the appeal to arms made in the Thirty Years' War might have come a century earlier, and might have ended in the overthrow of the Reformation. But once in his career did Luther yield to the pressure of political considerations (the bigamy of the landgrave of Hesse), and in that yielding the Reformation received its severest blow, and the name of Luther its solitary blot. His simple trust in God was the highest principle. It was, though Luther did not think of it as such, the highest policy.

A complete, comprehensive, and systematic statement of his doctrines was never given by Luther, not even in his confessional writings. Others have endeavored to arrange his views in systematic order: Kirchner, Thesaurus (in Latin, 1566; in German, 1566, 1570, 1578); Theodosius Fabricius, Loci Communes (Lond. 1593; 1651, Latin; and in German, 1597); Mains, M.L. Theologia Pura (1709; with a Supplement, 1710); Beste, N.L.'s Glaubenslehre (Halle, 1845). In this general class may also be mentioned And. Musculus, Schatz (1577), and Salzmann, Singularia Lutheri (1664, fol.). It was Luther's work to restore doctrine, he left to others the arrangement of it. He made history, others might write it. Luther's great aim constantly was to give prominence and strength to those doctrines which were denied, ignored, or corrupted. His plan of warfare was that of attack rather than of defense. He fought many battles, but underwent and conducted few sieges. "The wealth of his theological knowledge and teaching rests essentially upon his direct mighty grasp, intuition, and unifying view of truth. As the result of this, it is the peculiarity of his mind that there is a relative throwing into the background of that aspect and endowment of intelligence which are directed to calm reflection upon the diverse individual elements and parts of the object, to notional formulating, to logical or dialectical systematizing" (Kostlin, The Theology of Luther [1863]). The grand impulse of his life was to testify to the truth; so to impart the knowledge in which his own soul had found healing and salvation that it might be to others health and life.

XIII. Polemics and Irenics. Inflexible in his opposition to Rome, he yet showed himself solicitous to preserve peace while peace was possible. Very gradually and very cautiously he declared himself for the right of armed resistance, when, in the conscientious judgment of men learned in the law, the nature of the violation of rights is such as to demand war as the sole possible mode of self-defense.

1. The doctrine of the Lord's Supper grew to a subject of extended conflict, and of far-reaching doctrinal and practical power in Luther's life and in the Reformation. It became, indeed, a touchstone. The laws of interpretation which determined the doctrine of the Supper either way, conditioned more or less the entire distinctive characteristics of both tendencies in the Reformation. While he was engaged in the controversy with Carlstadt, he heard, November 12, 1524, that Zwingle, and January 13, 1525, that OEcolampadius held the same views "the poison widely creeping." There were, indeed, three mutually contradictory processes of interpretation; each of the three overthrew the other two, and was overthrown by them; but as they concurred in the one result, the denial of the true presence, Luther regarded them from the beginning as essentially one view.

2. Luther's course in the sacramental controversies exercised an immense influence on the internal and external history of the Reformation, and on nothing in his history has Protestant sentiment been so completely and so passionately divided. In his sermon on the venerable sacrament (1519), in which he for the first time presented with comparative fullness the evangelical view of the Lord's Supper, he still retained the doctrine of transubstantiation. His own doctrine of the true presence of the body and blood of Christ without a change in the elements ("true bread and wine remains") he first brought clearly forth in his work on the adoration of the holy sacrament (1523), addressed to the Bohemian Brethren, who had directed their inquiries to him. They claimed that they held an objective gift of God in the sacrament; and, although their doctrine has been asserted by some to be that of a purely spiritual presence, they gave it such an approximation to the doctrine maintained by Luther that he was entirely satisfied with their statement. He discussed the question further in a letter to the preacher at Strasburg (1525), and in a preface to the Suabian Syngramma (1526), with which he declared himself in harmony. He fought earnestly against the doctrine of the Lord's Supper proposed by Carlstadt and Zwingle, which had the common feature that it regarded the Lord's Supper not so much a divine institution as a movement of man towards God. Over against their views Luther designates the forgiveness of sins as the special, distinctive grace of this sacrament, as in that forgiveness Christ has laid the efficacy of his passion. That bread remains bread, and is yet, in the sacramental complex, the body of Christ, involves to faith no contradiction. He defended his views in the Sermon of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ (1526); that the Words "This is my Body" still standfast (1527); and in Confession touching the Supper (1529). The colloquy at Marburg (1529) only in part removed his suspicions of Zwingle: "You have another spirit than we." The Schwabach Articles gave renewed expression to the doctrine of the true presence, even stronger than that in the articles which were drawn up at Marburg to express the consent and dissent of the two parties. A more hopeful turn of mind was called forth by the

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Luther, Martin'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/l/luther-martin.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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