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THE HISTORY AND FATE
THE SACRED WRITINGS,
EARLIEST PERIOD TO THE PRESENT CENTURY,
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES OF TRANSLATORS, AND OTHER
EMINENT BIBLICAL SCHOLARS.
BY REV. JAMES TOWNLEY, D. D.
PUBLISHED BY CARLTON & PORTER,
BIBLICAL LITERATURE. .
PART III, CONTINUED.
SIXTEENTH CENTURY CONTINUED.
Luther-German Version-Duke of Wurtemberg's Library-Melancthon-Bugenhagen ---Jonas-Cruciger--Aurogallus-Rorarius --Forster-Ziegler
-Emser's Catholic New Testament-Dietenberg's Bible--Other German Versions-Attempts to suppress Luther's Version-Low-Saxon, Swedish, Icelandic, Hungarian, and Dutch Versions-Potken's Ethiopic Editions-Progress of the Reformation-Zuingle-Latin Versions—Münster--Leo Judæ Bibliander-Cholin-Gualter--Bullinger-Pellican-German-Swiss and German Versions,
The great Saxon reformer, MARTIN LUTHER, was born at Eisleben, in the county of Mansfeld, and electorate of Saxony, in the year 1483. His father was employed in the mines, and rose by assiduity and intregrity to the possession of property, and the office of magistrate. His mother, who appears to have been a woman of exemplary piety, devoted considerable attention to the tuition of her infant son; and to her pious instructions he was probably indebted for the early devotional bias of his mind. After receiving a liberal education in the schools of Magdeburg and Eisenach, he repaired to the university of Erford or Erfurt, and commenced master of arts, at the age of twenty. In 1505 he retired to the Augustinian monastery in that place, under the influence of religious impressions, occasioned by the awful death of a friend, and his own providential deliverance from a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning. “In this university of Erford," says Fox, “there was a certain aged man in the convent of the Augustines, with whom Luther, being then of the same order, a Friar Augustine, had conference upon divers things, especially touching the article of the remission of sins; the which article the said aged father opened unto Luther after this sort; declaring, that we must not generally believe only forgiveness of sins to be, or to belong to Peter, to Paul, to David, or such good men alone; but that God's cxpress commandment is, that every man should believe his sins particularly to be forgiven him in Christ; and further said, that this interpretation was confirmed by the testimony of St. Bernard, and showed him the place, in the Sermon of Annunciation,' where it is thus set forth : “But add thou that thou believest this, that by him thy sins are forgiven thee. This is the testimony that the Holy Ghost giveth thee in thy heart, saying, Thy sins are forgiven thee. For this is the opinion of the apostle, that man is freely justified by faith. By these words Luther was not only strengthened, but was also instructed of the full meaning of St. Paul, who repeateth so many times this sentence, 'We are justified by faith.' And having read the expositions of many upon this place, he then perceived, as well by the purpose of the old man, as by the comfort he received in his spirit, the vanity of those interpretations which he had read before, of the schoolmen. And so reading, by little and little, with conferring the sayings and examples of the prophets and apostles, and continual invocation of God, and excitation of faith by the force of prayer, he perceived that doctrine most evidently."*
It was about the same time that Luther either received from one of the monks, or accidentally found in the library, a neglected copy of the Latin version of the Bible, bound in red morocco. To his great surprise, he discovered that there were many parts of the Scripture which were never read to the people in the public service of the church. He therefore studied the sacred volume with such constancy and diligence, that he was very soon able to refer with ease and promptitude to any particular passage. Many portions of it he committed to memory; and sometimes spent the whole day in endeavouring to gain the true sense of one sentence. The incredible ardour with which he applied himself to the study of the Scriptures, gradually enlightened his mind, and produced those important views of Christian doctrine, experience, and practice, that eventually led to the astonishing results which took place in the Christian church, and spread the pure light of the Gospel in every direction.
Luther also became a Biblical, or Scriptural Bachelor, (Baccalaureus Biblicus,) whose duty it was to read lectures upon certain portions of Scripture. The Biblical Bachelors were, however, considered as inferior to the Scholastic Bachelors, (Baccalaurii Sententiarii,) or those who read lectures on the sentences of Peter Lombard, and the works of other scholastic divines, and, therefore, their degree was regarded merely as a preparatory one in divinity. But it is worthy of notice, that at the time when Luther entered the order of the Augustinians, it was the only one capable of furnishing a Biblical Bachelor to the university of Paris ; for, at the reformation of the theological faculty, or college, at Paris, toward the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Augustine monks were selected to furnish the college of divinity, once a year, with a Biblical Bachelor, from which it is natural to conclude, that the Dominicans, Franciscans, and other Mendicant orders, had entirely neglected the study of the Scriptures, and especially, as by the original decree of the theological faculty, prior to the reformation of the college, cach of the Mendicant orders was enjoined to provide annually a Biblical Bachelor, yet in the reformation of the college, none but the Augustinians were able to satisfy that demand. Melancthon was a Biblical Bachelor of the same order as Luther.
* Fox's Actes and Monumentes, vol. ii, pp, 60, 61.
In his Augustine superior, Staupitius, or Staupitz, Luther found a zealous adviser of the study of the Scriptures, in preference to any other pursuit. In the technical language of the times, Staupitz recommended him to become a good textualis et localis, by which he meant, the acquisition of a thorough knowledge of the texts of Scripture, and an expertness in quoting them. In 1507 he was ordained; and the next year was called by Staupitz to the professorship of logic in the university of Wittemberg. In 1510 he was sent on special business to Rome, and after his return was created doctor in divinity; and exchanged the philosophical for the theological chair, of the same university.f He now commenced lectures on the Epistle to the Romans, and the Psalms; he also diligently applied to the study of the Hebrew and Greek languages, for the purpose of obtaining a more perfect knowledge of the SripLures.
Such," says Melancthon, "were the employments of Luther at * Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. by Maclaine, vol. iv, p. 218, note. Du Cange, Glossar. Lat., v. Baccalarii.
+ The learned reader will find Luther's views of the duty of a Christian divine, delineated in a summary, extracted from Melchior Adam's Life of the German Reformer : " Tria faciunt theologum, dixit : meditatio, oratio, toutatio : et tria verbi ministro facienda : evolvere Biblia ; orare seriò; et semper discipuliem manere. Optimi ad vulgus li sunt concionatores : qui pueriliter, trivialiter, populariter, et simplicissimè dlocentoM. Adami Vil. German. Thcolng., p. 165.