November 6, 2023
… a 6 minute read
“Luther’s mysterious disappearance excited consternation throughout all Germany. Inquiries concerning him were heard everywhere. The wildest rumors were circulated, and many believed that he had been murdered. There was great lamentation, not only by his avowed friends, but by thousands who had not openly taken their stand with the Reformation. Many bound themselves by a solemn oath to avenge his death.”
“The Romish leaders saw with terror to what a pitch had risen the feeling against them. Though at first exultant at the supposed death of Luther, they soon desired to hide from the wrath of the people. His enemies had not been so troubled by his most daring acts while among them as they were at his removal. Those who in their rage had sought to destroy the bold Reformer were filled with fear now that he had become a helpless captive.”
“The only remaining way of saving ourselves,” said one,
“is to light torches, and hunt for Luther through the whole world,
to restore him to the nation that is calling for him.”
~ D’Aubigne, b. 9, ch. 1.
~ the edict of the emperor seemed to fall powerless
~ the papal legates were filled with indignation as they saw that it commanded far less attention than did the fate of Luther
~ tidings that he was safe, though a prisoner, calmed the fears of the people
~ his writings were read with greater eagerness than ever before
~ increasing numbers joined the cause of the heroic man who had, at such fearful odds, defended the word of God
~ the Reformation was constantly gaining in strength
~ the seed which Luther had sown sprang up everywhere
~ with new faith and earnestness new followers and leaders pressed forward to do all in their power, that the work so nobly begun might not be hindered
~ Satan was not idle, he now attempted what he has attempted in every other reformatory movement – to deceive and destroy the people by palming off upon them a counterfeit in place of the true work
~ As there were false Christs in the first century of the Christian church, so there arose false prophets in the sixteenth century
~ a few men, deeply affected by the excitement in the religious world, imagined themselves to have received special revelations from Heaven, claiming to have been divinely commissioned to carry forward to its completion the Reformation they declared had been but feebly begun by Luther
~ in truth, they were undoing the very work which he had accomplished
~ they rejected the great principle which was the very foundation of the Reformation—that the word of God is the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice; and for that unerring guide they substituted the changeable, uncertain standard of their own feelings and impressions
~ this act of setting aside the great detector of error and falsehood the way was opened for Satan to control minds as best pleased himself
~ confusion abounded
~ the Gospel was neglected
~ this terrible condition had not resulted from the teachings of Luther; but throughout Germany his enemies were charging it upon him
~ he set out on a perilous journey to Wittenberg, he was under the ban of the empire
~ enemies were at liberty to take his life; friends were forbidden to aid or shelter him
~ the imperial government was adopting the most stringent measures against his adherents, but he saw that the work of the gospel was imperiled, and in the name of the Lord he went out fearlessly to battle for the truth
“By the word,” said he, “must we overthrow and destroy what has been set up by violence.
I will not make use of force against the superstitious and unbelieving….
No one must be constrained. Liberty is the very essence of faith.”
~ Ibid., b. 9, ch. 8.
~ It was soon noised through Wittenberg that Luther had returned and that he was to preach
~ the people flocked from all directions, and the church where he was to preach was filled to overflowing
~ ascending the pulpit with great wisdom and gentleness he instructed, exhorted, and reproved
~ for a whole week, Luther continued to preach to eager crowds
~ the word of God broke the spell of fanatical excitement
~ the power of the gospel brought back the misguided people into the way of truth
~ Luther had no desire to encounter the fanatics whose course had been productive of so great evil, but, as they demanded an interview with him, he consented to meet them; and so successfully did he expose their pretensions that the impostors at once departed from Wittenberg
~ the fanaticism was checked for a time; but several years later it broke out with greater violence and more terrible results
~ the fanatical teachers gave themselves up to be governed by impressions, regarding every thought and impulse as the voice of God
~ consequently, they went to great extremes, some even burned their Bibles
~ the minds of the people, beginning to throw off the yoke of the papacy, were also becoming impatient under the restraints of civil authority
~ the false prophets’ revolutionary teachings, claiming divine sanction, led the people to break away from all control and give the rein to their prejudices and passions
~ the most terrible scenes of sedition and strife followed, and the fields of Germany were drenched with blood
~ the papist princes declared that the rebellion was the legitimate fruit of Luther’s doctrines
~ although this charge was without the slightest foundation, it caused the Reformer great distress
~ the leaders in the revolt hated Luther because he had not only opposed their doctrines and denied their claims to divine inspiration but had pronounced them rebels against the civil authority
~ in retaliation they denounced Luther as a base pretender
~ the Romanists exulted, expecting to witness the speedy downfall of the Reformation; and they blamed Luther, even for the errors which he had been most earnestly endeavoring to correct
~ the fanatical party, by falsely claiming to have been treated with great injustice, succeeded in gaining the sympathies of a large class of the people, and came to be regarded as martyrs
~ the ones who were exerting every energy in opposition to the Reformation were pitied and lauded as the victims of cruelty and oppression
~ this was the work of Satan, prompted by the same spirit of rebellion which was first manifested in heaven
“Satan is constantly seeking to deceive men and lead them to call sin righteousness,
and righteousness sin. How successful has been his work!
How often censure and reproach are cast upon God’s faithful servants
because they will stand fearlessly in defense of the truth!
Men who are but agents of Satan are praised and flattered,
and even looked upon as martyrs, while those who should be respected and sustained
for their fidelity to God, are left to stand alone, under suspicion and distrust.”
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