BLTC Press Titles

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The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner

Luther anecdotes

by James Macaulay



Editor of " The Leisure Hour"


56, Paternoster Row; 65, St. Paul's Churchyard;
And 164, Piccadilly.

//or.jf. 3,

ThESE Luther Anecdotes require little introduction. They speak for themselves. Or, rather, through them Luther speaks; for it has been my aim to give, from his books and letters, his own account, in his own words, of the chief events of the great movement of which he was the leader. The book is thus in some measure a fragment of autobiography.

Four hundred years ago the Catholic world had grown almost pagan, and Christianity was little more than a lifeless form. There had been witnesses before Luther, and evidence that the Divine life in the Church was not wholly extinct; but it was he who awoke Christendom from its death-like sleep, and recalled his own nation to the primitive faith. The influence he exerted was not felt in Germany alone, for it roused the papal world, and led to that Romish revival which checked the advance of Protestantism, and resuscitated the faith of Catholic nations. Even in Germany the old religion holds its own, and Protestantism has lost its expansive power because it has too much departed from the principles on which the Reformation first began. Reverence for the Holy Scriptures as the supreme authority in faith and practice, and the evangelical doctrine of justification by faith, or salvation by grace, not by merit, these cardinal points of the teaching of Luther have not mainly influenced German thought or feeling in the centuries since he went to his rest. But there has been all along a testimony maintained, and an evangelical succession kept up. And there is hope of better times when the venerated and beloved Emperor, as head and representative of the Fatherland, thus spoke in his Edict announcing the 400th anniversary of Luther's birth:—" I pray to God that He may listen to the supplications in which I and all the members of the Evangelical Church shall unite on the day of the Festival, in order that the celebration may be productive of lasting benefit to our beloved country and Church."

It is not as the leader of the Reformation alone that the German people have cause to honour the memory of Luther. His services to the German language and literature can scarcely be overrated, as Lessing and Schlegel and other high authorities have declared. But, besides this, Luther was really the founder of German patriotism. The religious influence of the Reformation has grown feebler than at first it'promised, but the spirit of freedom with which he stirred the people is mighty yet. Introduction.

Without Luther the united German Empire of today would have been impossible. And Germany will remain powerful and prosperous, the more that the spirit of the Reformation, the spirit of civil and religious liberty, and of dependence on the Divine protection and blessing, is maintained.

I was at Worms this year, when the whole place was in festival on account of the anniversary of Sedan. There was nothing that day to recall Luther in the city which he made historical, except the grand silent monument in the Luther Platz. Yet it needed little imagination to associate the triumph of Sedan, and the older victories of the days of Gustavus Adolphus as the head of the Protestant League, with the work of Luther. Across the Atlantic, in many a German emigrant's home west of the Mississippi, the Wartburg and Wittenberg Bible is found, and two companion portraits adorn the walls—Luther and Bismarck.

Nor is it to the German nation only that Luther's influence reached. His spirit ruled the movement of Reformation in all other Protestant lands. The power that our English Bible has exerted on the progress and prosperity of the Anglo-Saxon race, in the New World as in the Old, in language and literature, laws and institutions, all men acknowledge. William Tyndale's translation of the Scriptures into the vernacular was the foundation and beginning of this influence, for all other versions are but revisions of his. Now it is ascertained that Tyndale was indebted to Luther, if he was not actually present at Wittenberg when the famous conclave of foreign as well as German doctors and scholars were engaged in revising the New Testament, as Mr. Demaus, in his life of Tyndale, records. Certain it is that the quarto of Tyndale's Testament, printed in 1525, has striking resemblance to the folio of Luther, issued in 1522; the general appearance of the page, the arrangement of the texts, and the appropriation of the margins all being alike. And, what is of more importance, the marginal notes, those "pestilent glosis," against which the indignation of the priests was especially excited, have been to a large extent adopted by Tyndale from those of Luther.

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