Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Gems.

MEDITATE. For why have you a mind if you do not use it. Yourself and others, heaven and earth, time and eternity, God, and Christ, and glory! What themes for meditation!

THE GOSPEL is the chariot of the Sun of Righteousness.

WISDOM in men is but a beam. Christ is the Sun of Righteousness, and all the light we have which is worth having comes from Him.

THE SUFREME BEING was too high and too holy to treat with man -and man was too low and vile to treat with the Supreme. The Son of God became man that for man he might mediate with God.

CHRIST DIED FOR US.-Amazing! What mind among men or angels can fully grasp the mighty fact? Through all eternity the wonder will rise and the mystery increase.

ONE THING I have to do in this world, which, compared with all else I might do, is yet the only one thing worth doing--and that is to know Christ and be found in Him.

HOW DELIGHTFUL it will be to be in Heaven: always in health, always living, always growing wiser, always increasing in happiness. What a contrast to earth.

HOW DREADFUL to be in Hellexcluded from God, the source of bliss. No light, peace, hope, joy, for ever! Awful!

THOUGHTLESS THOUSANDS, all around us, go on in the ways of sin week after week without one serious thought about their eternal wellbeing. Truly the patience of God is wonderful. Oh that they were wise!

DO YOU EVER TRY in good earnest to bring one soul to Christ? Never! Then what will you say to Christ, and what will Christ say to you, when you give up an account of your stewardship?

Poetic Selections.

MY REFUGE.

WHEN thoughts of sin affect my heart,
I then to Calvary flee;
Desponding fears at once depart
When I thy sufferings see.

[blocks in formation]

THE CHILDREN'S CORNER.

The Children's Corner.

MY MOTHER.

Written by a Son during the sufferings of his beloved Mother, which terminated shortly in death.

[blocks in formation]

THE LUTHERAN REFORMATION IN GERMANY.

A GREAT movement was going on. The Reformation, which, after the Diet of Worms, had been thought to be confined with its first teacher in the narrow chamber of a strong castle, was breaking forth in every part of the empire, and, so to speak, throughout Christendom. The two classes, hitherto mixed up together, were now beginning to separate; and the partisans of a monk, whose only defence was his tongue, now took their stand fearlessly in the face of the servants of Charles V. and Leo X. Luther had scarcely left the walls of the Wartburg, the pope had excommunicated all his adherents, the imperial diet had just condemned his doctrine, the princes were endeavouring to crush it in most of the German states, the ministers of Rome were lowering it in the eyes of the people by their violent invectives, the other states of Christendom were calling upon Germany to sacrifice a man whose assaults they feared even at a distance; and yet this new sect, few in numbers, and among whose members there was no organization, no bond of union, nothing in short that concentrated their common power, was already frightening the vast, ancient, and powerful sovereignty of Rome by the energy of its faith and the rapidity of its conquests. On all sides, as in the first warm days of spring, the seed was bursting from the earth spontaneously and without effort. Every day showed some new progress. Individuals, villages, towns, whole cities, joined in this new confession of the name of Jesus Christ. There was unpitying opposition, there were terrible persecutions, but the mysterious power that urged forward all these people was irresistible; and the persecuted, quickening their steps, going forward through exile, imprisonment, and the burning pile, everywhere prevailed over their persecutors.

The monastic orders that Rome had spread over Christendom, like a net intended to catch souls and keep them prisoners, were the first to break their bonds, and rapidly to propagate the new doctrine throughout the church.

The monks were not the only persons who rallied round the standard of the Gospel; priests in still greater numbers began to preach the new doctrines. But preachers were not required for its propagation; it frequently acted on men's minds, and aroused them from their deep slumber without any one having spoken.

THE LUTHERAN REFORMATION IN GERMANY.

Luther's writings were read in cities, towns, and even villages; at night by the fireside the schoolmaster would often read them aloud to an attentive audience. Some of the hearers were affected by their perusal; they would take up the Bible to clear away their doubts, and were struck with surprise at the astonishing contrast between the christianity of the Bible and their own. After hesitating between Rome and Scripture, they soon took refuge with that living Word which shed so new and sweet a radiance on their hearts. While they were in this state, some evangelical preacher, probably a priest or a monk, would arrive. He spoke eloquently and with conviction; he announced that Christ had made full atonement for the sins of his people; he demonstrated by Holy Scripture the vanity of works and human penances. A terrible opposition would then break out; the clergy, and sometimes the magistrates, would strain every nerve to bring back the souls they were about to lose. But there was in the new preaching a harmony with Scripture and a hidden force that won all hearts, and subdued even the most rebellious. At the peril of their goods, and of their life if need be, they ranged themselves on the side of the Gospel, and forsook the lifeless and fanatical orators of the papacy. Sometimes the people, incensed at being so long misled, compelled them to retire; more frequently the priests, deserted by their flocks, without tithes or offerings, departed voluntarily and in sadness to seek a livelihood elsewhere. And while the supporters of the ancient hierarchy returned from these places sorrowful and dejected, and sometimes bidding farewell to their old flocks in the language of anathema, the people, transported with joy by peace and liberty, surrounded the new preachers with their applause, and, thirsting for the Word of God, carried them in triumph into the church and into the pulpit.

A word of power, proceeding from God, was at that time regenerating society. The people, or their leaders, would frequently invite some man celebrated for his faith to come and enlighten them; and instantly, for love of the gospel, he abandoned his interests and his family, his country and friends. The persecution often compelled the partisans of the Reformation to leave their homes: they reached some spot where it was as yet unknown; here they would enter a house that offered an asylum to poor travellers: there they would speak of the gospel, read a chapter to the attentive hearers, and perhaps, at the request of their new

THE LUTHERAN REFORMATION IN GERMANY.

friends, obtained permission to preach once publicly in the church. Upon this a vast uproar would break out in the city, and the greatest exertions were ineffectual to quench it. If they could not preach in the church, they found some other spot. Every place became a temple. At Husum in Holstein, Hermann Tast, who was returning from Wittemberg, and against whom the clergy of the parish had closed the church doors, preached to an immense crowd in the cemetery, beneath the shade of two large trees, not far from the spot where, seven centuries before, Anschar had proclaimed the Gospel to the heathen. At Arnstadt, Gaspard Guttel, an Augustine monk, preached in the market-place. At Dantzic, the Gospel was announced on a little hill without the city. At Gosslar, a Wittemberg student taught the new doctrines in a meadow planted with lime-trees; whence the evangelical christians were denominated the Lime-tree Brethren.

Men of the lowest station, and even the weaker sex, with the aid of God's Word, persuaded and led away men's hearts. Extraordinary works are the result of extraordinary times. At Ingolstadt, under the eyes of Dr. Eck, a young weaver read Luther's works to the assembled crowd. In this very city, the university having resolved to compel a disciple of Melancthon to retract, a woman, named Argula de Staufen, undertook his defence, and challenged the doctors to a public disputation. Women and children, artisans and soldiers, knew more of the Bible than the doctors of the schools or the priests of the altars. One day, a Franciscan going his rounds, stopped with the box in his hand begging alms at a blacksmith's forge in Nuremberg: "Why," said the smith, do you not gain your bread by the work of your hands?" At these words the sturdy monk threw away his staff, and seizing the hammer plied it vigorously on the anvil. The useless mendicant had become an honest workman. His box and frock were sent back to the monastery.

66

The printing-press, that powerful machine discovered in the fifteenth century, came to the support of all these exertions, and its terrible missiles were continually battering the walls of the enemy. The impulse which the Reformation gave to popular literature in Germany was immense. Whilst in the year 1513 only thirty-five publications had appeared, we find in 1523, four hundred and ninety-eight. And where were all these published? For the most part at Wittemberg. And who were their authors? Generally Luther and his friends.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »