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Martin Luther.

Martin Luther.

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Published by: glennpease on Feb 21, 2013
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MARTIN LUTHER.BY PHILLIPS BROOKS(Address at Celebration by the Evangelical Alliance of the UnitedStates of the Four Hundredth Anniversary of his Birth.New York, November 13, 1883.)The noblest monument of modem Europe stands inthe old town of Worms, erected fourteen years a.go inmemory of the man who was bom in Eisleben at nineo'clock on the evening of the 10th of November, 1483,four hundred years ago last Saturday night. In the cen-ter of the group stands the stately effigy of Martin Lutherovertopping all the rest, and around him are assembledthe forerunners, the supporters, and the friends of himand of the Reformation, which must always be most as-sociated with his name. Savonarola, Wickliffe, Huss andWaldo, Frederick the Wise and Philip the Magnanimous,Philip Melanchthon and John Reuchlin, the city of Augs-burg with her palm-branch, the city of Magdeburg mourn-ing over her desolation, and the city of Spires holdingforth her famous protest ù all of these sit or stand in im-perishable bronze around the sturdy doctor who was themaster of them all.That monument at Worms but represents and uttersthe vivid memory in which the great Reformer is heldnot merely in Genoiany, but through all the world of Protestantism. The approach of the anniversary of hisbirth has been greeted with an overwhelming welcome.The old German towns in which he lived have reproducedin pageants and processions the pictures of his life. Hisunforgotten face has come back once more to a thousand375376 ESSAYS AND ADDRESSES.homes. His books have been re-read. His faults andvirtues have been re-discussed. His place and power inhistory have been estimated anew ; and the whole greatportion of the world which has been blessed through himhas thanked God once again that he w^as born.At such a tune the voice of the Protestants of Americacould not be silent. It has not failed to speak in manyways, and now to-night we have assembled at the sum-mons of the Evangelical Alliance to do honor to the mem-ory of Martin Luther, and to think together of what hewas and did.We are to think of one of the greatest men of human
history. I say advisedly one of the greatest nieii ; for atthe outset we ought to realize that it is the personality of Luther, afire with great indignations, believing in greatideas, writing books which in some true sense are greatbooks, doing gi*eat, brave, inspiring deeds, but carryingall the while its power in itseK, in his being what he wasù it is the personality of Luther which really holds thesecret of his power. It is lie that men hate and love withever fresh emotion, just as they loved and hated him fourcenturies ago. His books were burned, but the real ob- ject of the hate was he. His pamphlets, scattered broad-cast over Germany, were read and praised and treasui-ed,but the real love and loyalty and looking up for powerwas to him. Indeed, the name and fame of Luther com-ing down through history under God's safe-conduct hasbeen full of almost the same vitality, and has been at-tended by almost the same admiration and abuse, as wasthe figure of Luther in that famous journey wliich took liim in his rude Saxon wagon from Wittenberg to Wormswhen he went up to the Diet ; and at Leipzig, Niirnberg,Weimar, Erfurt, Goth a, Frankfiirt, the shouts of hisfrieuds and the curses of his enemies showed that noman in Germany was loved or hated as he was.MARTIN LUTBER. 3l iIt is this vigorous and persoual manhood which is thestrength of Luther, aud if we analyze it a little we cansee easUy enough out of what twif elements it was madeup, or, more properly, perhaps, in what two channels itran and made its strength effective. Both are distinct-ively religious. There are two senteuces out of two para-bles of Jeeus which describe indeed the two componentsof the strongest strength of all religious ineu. One istJiis, from the parable of the vineyard : " When the timeof fruit grew near, the loi-d of the vineyard sent his ser-vants to the husbandmen that they might receive thefruit of tlie vineyanl ; " and the, other is the cry of thereturning prodigal : " I will arise and go to my father,"Put these two together into any deep and lofty soul (youcannot put them into any other), and what a strengthyou have ! The consciousness of being sent from Godwith a mission for which the time is ripe, aud the con-sciousness of eager retm-n to God, of the great luimanstruggle after Him, possessing a nature which cannotHve withoiit Him ù the imperious commission from aboveand the tumultuous experience within ù these two, notinconsistent with each other, have met in all the greatChristian workers and i-efoi-mers who have moved andchanged the world. These two lived together in the wholelife of Luther. The one spoke out in the presence of the emperor at Wonns. The other wrestled unseen inthe agonies of the cloister cell at Erfni-t. The broad andvigorons issue of the two displayed itself in tlie exaltedbut always healthy and generous humanity which, withpervasive sympathy, filled and embraced all the hnmanity
about it, not as pei-suasions or convictionsù that wouldnot have worked any sneli residt ù but as the living forceswhich exalted and refined and consecrated and enlarged anatiu'e of great natural nobility and richness. So it wasthat the sense of the divine commission and the profound-378 ESSAYS AND ADDRESSES.ness of the human struggle created the Luther who shook the thrones of pope and Caesar and made all Europe new.You need only look into the faces of Hans Luther and hiswife Margaret, which hang, painted by Lucas Cranach, inthe Luther Chamber at the Wartburg, and you will seehow you have only to add the fine fire of a realized com-mission and a remembered struggle to the rugged Germanstrength of the father and the human sweetness in themother^s eyes, and you will have the full life of their greatson.It was in conformity to this fundamental character of Luther's greatness, his, large humanity inspired by theconsciousness of his mission and the depth of his pei"sonalstruggle after God, that he found his true place amongthe great Reformers, as then* leader, and yet as one whoneeded the supplementing help of others to make upthe total work. Every complete and permanent religiousmovement will have its moralists, its mystics, its theolo-gimis, its ecclesiastics, and its politicians. Of these char-acters Luther really possessed only the fii'st two. He wasnot properly a theologian ; John Calvin was that. TheEnglish reforiuei*s were ecclesiastics. Zwingle was thepolitician. But Luther Avas the moralist and the mystic.Direct, eternal righteousness, and the communion of thesoul Avith God, these were the poAvei*s by Avliich he lived,the ]>rizes for which he fought. When, with his soulindignant agtiinst poor Tetzel and his wi*etched iudul-giMiees, he nailed his theses on the ehuivh-door at Witten-Wrg, he Avas the moralist. It Avas for righteousness thathe s]H)ke i>ut. And it Avas to Tauler and to the TheologiaOermaniea, the niAstic onieles, that he alwavs, amonir allAvritei*s, gaA'e his h>ve and kn^keil for his inspiration.These an^ the nniversiU human elements of religiousstivngth and character. The tluvlogian may be far sepa-n\ttHl fi\>m humanity, the mere :;rrttnger of abstract ideas.MARTIN LUTHER.370

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