« ZurückWeiter »
6. Mt. Luther's er bauliche Schriften im Auszüg. von B. Lindner,
IX Tble, 8vo. Halle, 1752. (Extracts from Luther's edi
fying writings.) 7. LUTHER's Deutsche Schriften theils vollständig theils in Aus
zügen herausgegeben von F. W. Lomler II Bde. Sro. Gotha, 1816–17. (General writings, partly entire and
partly in extracts.) S. LUTHER's Werke in einer des Bedürfniss der Zeit berücksicht.
igenden Auswahl von H. L. A. Vent, X Bde. 8vo. 2 Auf. Hamburg, 1727-28. (Works selected with reference to the
Wants of the Times.) 9. Luther's Sämmtliche Werke ausgewählt und angeordnet
von Gst. Pfizer. 4to. Frankfurt am Main, 1840. (Works
selected and arranged.) 10. LUTHER's Werke, vollständige Auswahl seiner Haupt
schriften, mit hist. Einleit. Anmerk. und Regist. von Otto von Gerlach, XXIV Bde, 18mo. Reformatorische Schriften, X Bde, Berlin, 1840-41. (Selec
tion of Luther's principal writings entire.) 11. Mr. Luther's Briefe, Sendschreiben, und Bedenken voll
ständig aus den verschied. Ausgaben seiner Werke gesammelt, krit. und hist. bearbeit. von W. M. L. De Wette, V Thle, 8vo. Berlin, 1826–28. (Letters and papers collected and illus
trated.) 12. Vt. L. von SECKENDORF, Coniment. histor. et apologet. de
Lutheranismo, sive de Reformatione Religionis, etc. folio,
Lipsiæ, 1694. (History and defence of Lutheranism.) 13. Dr. Philip MARHEINECKE, Geschichte der Deutschen Reformation, IV Bde. 2 Aufl
. Berlin, 1831–34. (History of the German Reformation.) 14. J. H. MerlE D'AUBIGNE, Histoire de la Reformation du
seizieme Siècle, II Tom. 12mo. Paris, 1815–37. (History
of the Reformation in the 16th century.) 15. J. M. V. AUDIN, Histoire de la Vie, des Ecrits, et de la
Doctrine de Mr. LUTHER, 2 vols. 8vo. Paris, 1841. (Lu
ther's life, writings, and doctrines.) 16. M. MICHELET, Mémoires de Mr. LUTHER par lui-même, 2
vols. 12mo. Paris, 1835. (Memoirs of Luther, written by himself, and edited by Michelet.)
We place at the head of this article a select list of the best editions of the great Reformer's writings, and the titles of a few of the best and most accessible sources of information respecting him. The great interest of the subject, at the present time, will make such a catalogue very acceptable to many of our readers; and to increase the usefulness of the catalogue, we shall give, in the course of our remarks, a brief description of each of the works enumerated in it.
Luther has left more of his impress on the German nation, than any other one man has left on any nation. Hear a literary gentleman, Protestant or Catholic, at this day talk of Luther in his own land; and so intense and glowing is the enthusiasm with which they mention his name, and so fresh and hearty the feeling they manifest, that you would think they must have seen him and talked with him but yesterday. Any one who has visited France, cannot fail to see at once the pride and home-feeling with which the memory of Napoleon is cherished by the French. A man will say to you,
“ Here I saw the Emperor,” as if he had stood on the spot but a few minutes before. So every spot where Luther stood, which can be identified, is still cherished by the Germans; and when they tell you that Luther stood here, though it were three centuries ago, they speak with such fondness of feeling and an eye so glistening, that you almost start as if the Reformer were actually there now. Riding once from Potzdam to Halle, I stopped for a few moments at a small hamlet by the roadside, and inquired of a peasant there the name of the place. “Luther's Brunnen" [Luther's Well,] replied he promptly and with a brightening eye. Why has it that name ?" continued I. With a face full of feeling and eyes glowing with pride, he answered, “ Luther once drank here.” This is but a specimen of what you meet everywhere in Germany. The cause of this national enthusiasm we trust the reader will be at no loss to discover, if he follow us patiently through the developments of this article.
On the most superficial glance at the writings of Luther, we are struck with astonishment at their number and variety, as well as their eloquence and power. Almost all subjects are embraced in them—theology, history, politics, education, literature, fables, poetry, music; he seeins in all nearly equally at home; and on every topic his views are original, and sketched with a masterly hand. He led a life of almost as great public activity as Napoleon; his public influence, cares, and responsibilities were little, if any, less than those of the great emperor; and he had no facilities, such as Napoleon had, for commanding the services of others. His correspondence alone seems enough to take more than the entire time of one strong man. In June, 1529, writing to one of his friends, he says: "The letters pour in upon me every day up to my neck; my table, benches, stools, writing-desk, window-seats, trunks, the floor itself is covered with them.”
From 1517 to 1526, the first ten years of the Reformation, the number of his publications was three hundred ; from 1527 to 1536, the second decade, the number was 232; and from 1537 to 1546, the year of his death, the number was 183. His first book was published in November, 1517, and he died in February, 1546, an interval of twenty-nine years and four months. In this time be published seven hundred and fifteen volumes, an average of more than twenty-five a year, or one a fortnight for every fortnight of his public life. He did not go through the manual labor of all this writing, it is true, for many of his published works were taken down from his lips by his friends; and it is also true, that several of the volumes were small enough in size to be denominated pamphlets; but many of them, also, are large and elaborate treatises. In the circumstances in which he wrote, his translation of the Bible alone would have been a gigantic task, even if he had had his lifetime to devote
He continued his labors to the very last. The six weeks immediately preceding his death, he issued thirty-one publications from the press, an average of more than five a week. He did not enjoy uninterrupted health, nor was he free from the family cares and accidents which interrupt the labors of other men.
For example, in one letter he says, " My home has become a hospital; Hannah is dangerously sick, Katey is near her confinement, and little Johnny is teething very hard.” In another, “ The plague has broken out here; Sebald's wife is dead, and I have taken their four children into my house." Again: “I am without help, for the kitchen-girl was so full of all mischief, that I was obliged to send her away." His own health often broke down under his labors. Says he in one letter, “I have such constant pains in my head I can neither read nor write.” In another, “I have taken such a cold that I cannot speak a loud word; I can do nothing but cough.” In another, “ I am suffering with dizziness and pains in my head and breast, and a constant cough. My brain is often worn out.” Nor was he at ease in his circumstances, and able always to
command the help which his family needed. His salary was small, he derived no income from his books, and he was often himself the nurse of his wife and children. All the family cares, anxieties, and binderances to study, which come upon our poorest ministers in these days, Luther felt to the utmost, as any one may see who peruses his voluminous correspondence. It was not, then, because he was well taken care of, and had little to do for himself and family, that he found time to do so much for the public. No wonder he sometimes in his old age uttered such complaints as the following, which are found in a letter to a friend : “Old, worn-out, weary, spiritless, and now blind of one eye, I long for a little rest and quiet-and yet I must still write, and preach, and work, and endure, as if I had never written, or preached, or worked, or endured. I am weary of the world, and it is time the world were weary of me. The parting will be easy, like that of a traveller leaving his inn. I pray only that God may be kind to me in my last hour.” “If the great pains and labor I undergo were not endured for the sake of him who died for me, all the money the world can offer were not enough to induce me to write a single book or translate the Bible. I desire not to be rewarded by the world for my work; the world is too, too poor and mean to give me satisfaction. This world by itself, what is it? The decalogue reversed, a witch's prayer, the devil's picture.” The above extracts are not selected, they are just taken at hazard from Luther's letters; a hundred others of similar import may there be found; and the object of quoting these is simply to show, that when God called Luther to the mighty work which he accomplished, he did not give him leisure for it by exempting him from the little every-day ills and vexations of life. Had he not learned to bear these magnanimously and cheerfully, and to perform every little duty in its place as well as every great one, he could never have been God's instrument to accomplish the Reformation. With all his public labors and responsibilities, Luther as a neighbor was uniformly pleasant and accommodating; as a companion and friend, cheerful, generous, and lively; as a husband and father, affectionate, provident, and faithful.
The writings of Luther, as is well known and has been often repeated, have created the language and literature of modern Germany. Considering the circumstances in which he was placed and the object which he had in view, though we may justly find fault with many paragraphs he has written, yet
taking his treatises as a whole, few of them have ever been surpassed, and some of them have never been equalled. Luther was the author of modern church-music and psalmody as distinguished from the ancient chants. He was the first to appreciate the essential importance of an extended and well-sustained system of common school education for the instruction of all the people; and his eloquent and thrilling appeals to the German nation on this subject, find nothing to excel them among the educators of modern times. As a whole, his sermons, bis commentaries, his popular addresses, his controversial treatises, his hymns, his music, his fables, his letters, are all of a high order of excellence.
The German style of Luther is wonderfully idiomatic, pointed, piercing, and full of speaking pictures. There is no mark of labor in it; it is visibly a mighty mind and a great heart overflowing like Niagara. His sentences are like full charges of cannister shot : they hit in all directions, they hit everywhere, and they hit all the time. It is in his native German, the German of his own creation, that his full power
and never out of it.
As a revolutionary orator, Luther was irresistible. So much coolness and so much fire, so much self-possession and so much excitability, so inuch logical power and so much exuberance of fancy, so much good sense and such ready wit, with such advantages of person and voice, have seldom, if ever, been found united in one individual. Conceive of the steady, flaming, religious fervor of George Whitefield, united with the perspicuity to seize, and the genius to reproduce, every phase and fleeting form of human character,-the skill to touch, by the right word and the right metaphor, in exactly the right place, every chord of popular emotion,- which characterize Shakspeare ; all this set off by a muscular frame of fine proportion and manly strength, a fair
, glowing face, which portrayed every sentiment before it was uttered,-a large, clear blue eye, that radiated his very soul (and such a soul),-a voice powersul as thunder and musical as an organ—and you have some idea of what Luther was as a public speaker. Such was the power and flexibility of his voice, that even in his old age, he sang the alto to the delight of all who heard him.
In the revival of the papal controversy at the present day, in the revival of the domineering and blasphemous claims of the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, no treatises