Martin Luther Collection: Luther, Martin - Theses & Life: 4a. History of Martin Luther's life

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Martin Luther Collection: Luther, Martin - Theses & Life: 4a. History of Martin Luther's life

TOPIC: Luther, Martin - Theses & Life (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 4a. History of Martin Luther's life

Other Subjects in this Topic:

The history of the life and acts of Luther (1547-8)

Melancthon, Philip

Prepared by Dr. Steve Sohmer 1996

Translated by T.Frazel 1995 c Dr. S.T. Sohmer 1995-6

[Library cover: (handwritten)]

Philip Melancthon

The history of the life and acts of Luther


[Library plate: (German)]

[Frontispiece: (printed)]

HISTORY OF THE LIFE AND ACTS OF THE REVEREND MAN DR. MARTIN / Luther, true Doctor of Theology, / a bona fide document / by Philip Melancthon. / Offered by John Policarius Carmina on account of the (?) blessings which God through Luther bestowed upon the whole world. Including several distichs on the Acts of Luther, which were recounted in this same year. 1548.


NOTE: the dedication by Pollicarius (Cygnaeus) is not translated. The text of Melancthon's life begins on Folio Aiiii.recto.


Reverend Martin Luther gave us hope that he would relate the course of his life and the occasions of his struggles, and he would have done so if he had not been called from this mortal life into the everlasting converse of God and the heavenly Church. Both a lucidly written contemplation of his own private life would have been useful, for it was full of Lessons which would have been useful in strengthening the piety in good minds, as well as a recitation of events which he could have made known to posterity about many things, next he would have refuted the slanders of those who, either incited by leading men or others, invent that he destroyed the dignity of the Bishops, or that, he himself inflamed by private lust, broke the bonds of Monastic servitude.

He would have published these things, wholly and copiously set forth and commemorated by himself. For even if Evilwishers were to reproach with that common saying, He himself blows his own pipe, nevertheless we know there was so much seriousness in him that he would have related the Account with the utmost fidelity. And many good wise men are still living, to whom it would have been ridiculous for another account to be mixed in, as sometimes happens in poems, since he knew they were aware of the order of these events. But because his day of death turned aside the edition of so important an account, we shall recite in good faith about the same matters those things which partly we heard from the man himself, partly those which we ourselves saw.

There is an old family, with many descendants of middle-class (?) men, by the name Luther, in the district of the famed Companions of Mansfield. The parents of Martin Luther first made their home in the town of Eisleben, where Martin Luther was born, then they moved to the town of Mansfield, where his father, Johannes Luther, acted as Magistrate and was most cherished by all good men because of his integrity.

In his mother Margarita, the wife of Johannes Luther, since all the other virtues of an honest Matron were seen coming together -- modesty, fear of God, and prayer especially shown forth -- the other honest women looked to her as an example of virtues. She answered me as I asked several times about the time of her Son's birth that she remembered the day and hour exactly, but she was uncertain of the year. However she affirmed that he was born the night of 10 November after eleven o'clock, and the name Martin was given to the infant, because the next day, on which the infant was brought into the Church of God through Baptism, had been dedicated to Martin. But his brother Jacob, an honest and upright man, said the family believed that the year of his birth was A.D. 1483.

After he was at the age capable of learning, his parents had diligently accustomed their son Martin to the knowledge and fear of God and to the duties of the other virtues by domestic instruction, and as is the custom of honest men, they saw to it that he learned to read, and his father brought him, even as a quite young boy, to the elementary school of George Aemilius, who can be a witness to this story because he is still living.

At that time, however, Grammar Schools in Saxon towns were not that good, so when Martin reached his fourteenth year, he was sent to Magdeburg along with Johannes Reinec, whose virtue was later so outstanding that he had great authority in these Regions. There was exceptional mutual kindness between these two, Luther and Reineck, whether by some concord of nature or whether rising from that companionship of boyhood studies; nevertheless, Luther did not remain in Magdeburg longer than a year.

Next in the school at Eisenach he studied for four years with a Praeceptor who taught Grammar more correctly and skillfully than others; for I remember Luther praised his intelligence. He was sent to that city because his mother had been born of an honest and old family in those parts; here he completed grammatical study, and since the power of his intelligence was the most keen, and especially suited for eloquence, he quickly surpassed his coevals, and easily conquered the rest of the youths who were learning at the same time in speaking with both words and fluency of diction, and in writing prose and Verses.

Therefore, having tasted the sweetness of literature, by nature burning with the desire for learning, he sought out the Academy, as the source of all learning. So great a power of intelligence would have been able to grasp all the arts in order, if he had found suitable Doctors, and perhaps both the gentler studies of Philosophy and attention in forming speech would have benefitted in softening the vehemence of his nature. But at Erfurt he encountered the Dialectic crabbed enough for his age and he quickly seized it, since by the sagacity of his intelligence he grasped the causes and sources of the precepts better than the rest of the boys.

And since his mind was eager for learning, he sought more and better things, and he himself read the many writings of the ancient Latin writers, Cicero, Vergil, Livy and others. He read these, not as boys do, picking out the words only , but, as it were (?), the teaching of human life, or, since he looked at the counsels and sayings of these men more closely, and as he had a faithful and firm memory and read and heard many authors, the images were in sight and before his eyes. Thus he was therefore outstanding among the youth, so that Luther's intelligence was a thing of wonder to the whole (?) Academy.

Decorated therefore with the degree Master of Philosophy at the age of twenty, on the advice of his relatives, who judged that so great a power of intelligence and fluency should be brought forth into the light and for the Republic, he began the study of law. But a short time later, when he was twenty-one, suddenly, against the opinion of his parents and relatives, he went to the College of Augustinian Monks at Erphord, and sought to be admitted. He was admitted, soon he learned the teaching of the Church not only by the most intense study, but he himself also gained self-mastery by the greatest severity of discipline, and he far surpassed the others in all the exercises of readings, disputes, fasts, and prayers. He was however by nature, something I often marvelled at, in a body neither small nor feeble, strong (?)

from a modicum of bread and drink; I saw him on four consecutive days, even though he was completely strong, neither eat nor drink a thing the entire time; I often saw that other times on many days he was content with a tiny bit of bread and fish (sauce?) per day.

This was the occasion of his starting in on that manner of life which he reckoned more suitable for piety and studies of the doctrine about God, as he himself told and many know. Often great terrors so suddenly terrified him as he thought more intently on the anger of God or the awesome examples of punishments that he was almost put out of his mind. And I myself saw him, when he was overcome by tension in a certain debate about doctrine, go to bed in the neighboring cell, where he repeatedly mixed that recalled idea with a prayer, he rounded off everything under sin, so that he would be forgiven for all. He felt those terrors either from the beginning, or most sharply in that year because he lost his companion who was killed by some (?) accident.

Therefore not poverty but eagerness for virtue led him into this mode of monastic life, in which even if he daily learned the customary learning in the schools, and read the Sententarii, and in public Debates eloquently explained to amazed crowds labyrinths inexplicable to others, nevertheless because he sought the nutriments of piety in that type of life, not the renown of his intelligence, he put his hand to these studies as if they were a side interest, and he easily grasped those scholastic methods. Meanwhile he himself avidly read the sources of heavenly doctrine, i.e. the writings of the Prophets and the Apostles, in order to educate his mind about the will of God, and by faithful witnesses nourish his fear and faith. He was moved by his own sorrows and fears to seek after this endeavor more.

And he told that he was often encouraged by the conversations of a certain old man in the Augustinian College at Erphord, to whom when he set forth his worries. He heard the old man discuss much about faith, and he said that he was lead to the Creed, in which it is said, I believe in the forgiveness of sinners. That old man had interpreted this Article so that it should be believed not only in general, i.e. forgiven by some persons or others, as they believe Demons are forgiven by David or Peter, but that is was a commandment of God that we believe that the sins of individual men are forgiven by us. And he said that this interpretation was confirmed by a saying of Bernard, and then he pointed(?) to a place in his sermon on the Annunciation, where there are these words, But in addition that you might believe also this, that sins are given TO YOU individually, this is the testimony, which the Holy Spirit bestows in your heart, saying, Your sins are forgiven by you. For the Apostle thinks thus, that man is gratuitously justified through faith.

Luther said he was not only strengthened by this statement, but even forcibly reminded of the whole passage of Paul, who so often hammers home this saying, that we are justified by Faith. About which, since he had read the explications of many, <he said> that then he regarded the falsity of current interpretations from the conversations of that man and the calming of his own mind. Little by little, as he read and compared the sayings and lessons recorded in the Prophets and Apostles, and as he kindled his faith in daily prayer, he approached more illumination.

Then he also began to read the works of Augustine, where he found many clear statements, in both the Commentary on the Psalms and the On the Holy Spirit and the Letters, which confirmed this doctrine concerning faith, and he found consolation, which had burned in his own heart (?). Nor nevertheless did he completely abandon the Sententiarii, he had been able to recite Gabriel and Cammera by memory almost word for word. He read for a long time and thoroughly the writings of Occam, whose perspicacity he preferred to Thomas and Scotus.

He also carefully read Gerson, but he often read all the works of Augustine, and remembered them the best.

He began this most intense study at Erfurt, where he stayed for four years at the Augustinian College.

At this time, because Reverend Stupicius, who had helped the beginnings of the Academy of Witteberg, was eager to stimulate the study of Theology in the new Academy, since he had had confidence in Luther's intelligence and learning, he brought him to Witteberg, in 1508 when Luther was already twenty-six. Here, amidst the daily exercises of the School and the lecture, his intelligence began to shine even more. And since wise men, Doctor Martin Mellrstadt and others, would listen to him attentively, Mellerstadt often said, that there was so great a power of intelligence in that man, that he plainly foresaw that he would change the common form of learning, which was the only one being transmitted in the Schools at that time.

Here he first commented on Dialectic and Aristotle'sPhysics, yet all the while not dropping that eagerness of his for reading Theological writings. After three years he set out for Rome, on account of debates of Monks, when he returned that same year, in the usual manner of scholars, with Freidrich Duke Elector of Saxony offering money, he was adorned with the rank of Doctor, as we customarily say. For he had heard Luther debating, and had marvelled at the power of his intelligence, the powers of his speech, and excellence of his explications of matters in debates. And so that you might see that the rank of Doctor was conferred on him as if for a certain maturity of judgement, you should know that this was the thirtieth year of Luther's life. He himself used to tell that Staupicius ordered him, as he was completely running away and refusing, to let himself be adorned with this rank, and that Staupicius jokingly said that there would be a great deal of works for God in the Church already, which he would use for his own works. (?) To which statement, even if it was at that time uttered as a joke, nevertheless the outcome responded that many premonitions precede changes.

Afterwards he began to comment on the Epistle to the Romans, next the Psalms; he so illuminated these writings that, as light after a long, dark night, so new doctrine seemed to appear, by the judgement of all pious and prudent men.

Here he pointed out the essential point of the Law and the Evangelists, there he refuted the error, which held sway at that time in the Schools and in debates, which taught that men merited forgiveness of sins by their own works, and that men were justified before God by instruction, as the Pharisees taught. Accordingly Luther called the minds of men back to the son of God, and, like the Baptist, he showed that the lamb of God, who took away our sins, freely offers sins to be forgiven on account of the Son of God, and therefore this favor ought to be accepted by faith. He also explained other parts of Ecclesiastical doctrine.

These beginnings of the greatest things put great authority around him, especially since the morals of the one teaching matched up with his speech, and his speech seemed born not on his lips, but in his heart. This admiration of his life produced great changes in the minds of his audience, so that as even the Ancients said, His character was, almost, so to speak, the strongest proof. Wherefore, when he later on changed certain accepted rites, honest men who knew him were less vehemently opposed, and, in those statements in which they saw, with great sadness, the world torn apart, they gave assent to him on account of his authority, which he had previously acquired by the illustration of good things and by the sanctity of his morals.

Neither did Luther back then change anything in rites -- rather he was a severe guardian of discipline -- nor had he mixed anything of rough opinions (?). But he was more and more explaining that universal and absolutely necessary doctrine to all, about penitance, the remission of sins, faith, and the true consolations in the cross. By the sweetness of this pious doctrine all were strongly won, and what was pleasing to the learned, as if Christ, the Prophets, and Apostles were lead out of darkness, jail, and squalor, the essential point of the Law, and the Evangelists, the promises of the Law, and the promises of the Gospel, of Philosophy and the Evangelists, became apparent, <and> something certainly not found in Thomas, Scotus and others like them, the essential point of spiritual Justice and political affairs.

He approached the understanding of Latin and Greek, to which place the studies of his youth had already been invited by the writings of Erasmus, wherefore, since the sweeter type of his doctrine had been shown, many men endowed with good and free minds, began to abhor the barbaric and Sophistical doctrine of the Monks.

Luther himself began to give himself to the studies of Greek and Hebrew, so that having learned the peculiar quality of the language and the diction, the doctrine having been drawn from the sources, he might be able to judge more skilfully.

When Luther was in this course of study, venal Indulgences were circulated in these regions by Tecelius the Dominican, a most shameless Deceiver. Luther, angered by Tecelius' impious and execrable debates and, burning with the eagerness of piety, published Propositions concerning Indulgences, which are extant in the first volume of his writings, and he publicly attached these to the Temple, which is next to Witteberg Castle, on the day before the feast of all Saints, 1517. This Tecelius, true to his character, and also hoping he would obtain favor before the Roman Pontiff, calls his Senate, a few Monks and Theologians lightly imbued in some way or other with his own Sophistry, and orders them to cobble something together against Luther. Meanwhile Tecelius himself, so that he would not be a silent actor, brandishes not just Public Debates, but thunderbolts, he cries aloud everywhere that this Heretic must be condemned to fire, he even publicly hurls Luther's Propositions and Debate concerning Indulgences into flames. These ravings of Tecelius and his Henchmen place the necessity on Luther of more expansively discussing these matters and of preserving the truth.

These were the beginings of this controversy, in which Luther, as yet suspecting or dreaming nothing about the future change of rites, was not at all completely throwing out indulgences themselves, but only urging moderation. Wherefore they falsely accuse him, who say that he began for a praiseworthy reason, so that afterwards he could change the State and seek psower either for himself or for others.

And he was so removed, that suborned and incited by princes, just as the Duke of Brunsweig (?) wrote that even Duke Friedrich, looking far ahead, lamented that struggles were set in motion, although the beginning was from a praiseworthy matter, nevertheless little by little this flame would wander wider, as is said in Homer about the Quarrel, From small fear at first, soon it lifted itself into the upper air.

Since Friedrich was the one Prince of our era both the most fond of public tranquillity, and the least greedy, and he was especially accustomed to set forth plans for the common well-being of the world, ? from many matters it can be seen <that> he was neither an instigator nor an applauder of Luther, and he often made known his own grief, which he continually proclaimed, fearing greater dissensions.

But, not only following profane judgements, which bid that the gentle beginnings of all changes be most quickly suppressed, but also employing the divine precept in decision, which bids the Gospel to be heard, and which forbids opposing the known truth, and calls blasphemy horribly damned condemned by God, a stubborn adversary to the truth, the wise man did what many other pious and learned men did, he yielded to God, and carefully read those things which were written, and those which he judged to be true, he did not want to do away with.

For I know that he often ascertained the opinions of the erudite and learned about these very matters, and in that Convention, that Emperor Charles V held in the city Agrippina Colonia after his coronation, affectionately bade Erasmus of Rotterdam to freely say if he reckoned Luther was wrong in these controversies about which he had especially discoursed. Then Erasmus clearly said that he thought Luther was correct, but that he looked for mildness in the man. Wherefore Duke Friedrich afterward writing to Luther with the greatest seriousness strongly encouraged him to lighten the harshness of his pen.

It is agreed that Luther would have promised Cardinal Cajetan that he would be silent, if he had also enjoined silence on his opponents. From which thing it is clearly able to be seen that indeed at that time he had not yet shown that he would in turn set other struggles in motion, but he was desirous of tranquillity, but little by little he was dragged into other subjects, with the uneducated challenging him on all sides with the Scriptures.

Therefore the Debates followed, Concerning the essential point of divine and human laws, concerning the abominable profanation of the Supper of the Lord in its sale and application for others (cf. applicatio, p.58) (i.e. offering masses for other people). Here the entire theory of Sacrifice was set forth and the use of the Sacraments was shown. And when pious men in the Monasteries heard that Idols must be fled, they began to depart from their impious servitude.

Therefore Luther added to the explanation of the doctrines on penance, the remission of sins, faith, and Indulgences, also these topics: the essential point of the divine and human laws, the doctrine on the use of the Supper of the Lord and the other Sacraments, and concerning Prayers. And these were the principal points of contention. Eccius proposed an investigation of the power of the Roman Bishop, for no other reason than to fire up the enmities of the Pontiff and the Kings against Luther.

He kept the Apostolic, Nicenean, and Athanasian Creed <as the> most pure (?), next he fully explained in many writings what and why should be changed in human rites and traditions, and it is clear what he wanted to be kept and what form of doctrine and administration of the Sacraments he approved of from the Confession which Johannes Duke Elector of Saxony and prince Philip Landgraf of the Catti (?) and others presented in the Augustinian Convent to Emperor Charles V in 1530. The same is clear from the very rites of the Church in this city, and from the Doctrine which sounds forth in our Church, whose principal matter is manifestly expressed in the Confession. I therefore make mention of the Confession again not only for the pious to contemplate which errors Luther reproached and the Idols he removed, but also so that they might understand that it embraces a universal, necessary doctrine of the Church, that he restored purity in the rites, and that he taught Examples for renewing the Church to the pious. And it is useful for posterity to know what Luther approved.

I do not want to recollect in this place those who first publicly offered either part of the Lord's Supper, those who first ceased saying private Masses when the Monasteries were first abandoned. For Luther had discussed only a few things about these matters before the Synod which was in the city Vangionum (?) in 1521. He himself did not change the rites, but when he was not there, Carolostadt and others changed the rites: and since Carolostadt did certain things more tumultously, when Luther returned, he declared what he approved or disapproved (aeditis?) with clear testimonies of his opinion.

We know that political men vehemently detest all changes, and it must be admitted that even when upheavals are set into motion by the most just causes, something evil is to be lamented in this sad disorder of human life. But nevertheless in the Church it is necessary that the command of God is to be preferred to all human things. The Eternal Father said this statement about his Son: This is my beloved Son, listen ye to this man, and he threatens everlasting wrath against blasphemers, that is, against those who endeavor to obliterate the known truth, Wherefore Luther's pious and necessary duty was, especially since he taught the Church of God, to reproach destructive errors which Epicureans were heaping up with even new shamelessness, and it was necessary for those who heard to give assent to the one correctly teaching. If truly change is hateful, if there are many discomforts in upheaval, as we see with great sadness that there are, the blame is on those who in the beginning spread the errors, as well on the men who now defend those errors with a diabolic hatred.

I recall these things not only to defend Luther and his followers, but also so that pious minds might ponder at this point in time and hereafter what is and always was the government of the true Church of God, how God through the word of the Gospel selects the eternal Church for himself out of that mass of sin, that is from the great dregs of men, among whom the Gospel shines forth like a spark in the darkness. Just as in the time of the Pharisees nevertheless Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, and many others were guardians of the true doctrine, So even before these times there were many, who, duly calling upon God, were more clearly keeping the doctrine of the Gospel, others less so.

Such was also that Old Man, about whom I spoke, who often encouraged Luther as he was contending with fears, and who, in another way, was a teacher to him in doctrine and faith. Just as we should pray God with fervent voices to successively save the light of the Gospel in many men, so Isaiah prays for those his followers, Seal the law in my disciples. This remembrance then shows that counterfeit superstitions are not lasting but are rooted out by divine providence. Since this is the reason for the changes, care must be taken that errors are not taught in the Church.

But I return to Luther, just as he entered upon this cause without private lust, so, even if his nature was ardent and irascible, nevertheless he was ever mindful of his own function -- he only battled by teaching and avoided taking up arms, and he wisely distinguished from the whole kind the conflicting duties of a Bishop teaching the Church of God and of Magistrates, who restrain the multitude of other places by the sword.

Wherefore since at different times the Devil, who is eager to destroy the Church with temptations and to insult God, and as he is The evil one showing malignant joy, takes pleasure from the sins and downfall of pitiable men, <and> has inflammed factious natures to foment disturbances, as also those similar to Minters (?), he most vehemently condemned those ragings, and he not only adorned the dignity and all the bonds of the political order but also defended it. When however I ponder how many great men in the Church have often wandered in mind in this matter, I am of the distinct opinion that his heart was governed by not only human earnestness but also by a divine light, because he stayed so firmly within the boundaries of his office (Or, "so that he stayed...?).

Accordingly he cursed not only the factious Doctors, Minters, and Anabaptists of this age but also those Bishops of Rome, who most boldly and shamelessly asseverate in the Decrees they had written that not only was the duty of teaching the Gospel enjoined on Peter but Imperial politics were even handed over to him.

Accordingly he was an exhorter to all to give to God the things of God, to Caesar the things of Caesar, that is, to worship God with true penance, with the recognition and propagation of true doctrine, with true prayer, and with the responsibilites of a good conscience. Indeed let each man respectfully obey his own state in all civil duties on account of God. And Luther himself was in fact of such a kind: he gave to God the things of God, he taught properly, he called on God properly, he had also the other necessary virtues in a man which are pleasing to God, Finally in political custom he most consistently avoided all factious plans. I judge that these virtues were so seemly that other greater one are not able to be wished for in this life.

And although the virtue of the man himself who reverently used the gifts of God is praiseworthy, nevertheless it is especially necessary to give thanks to God, because through him He restored the light of the Gospel to us and the memory of its doctrine was preserved and propagated. Nor am I disturbed by the shouts of Epicureans or Hypocrites who either laugh at or curse evident truth, but I declare as true that this very doctrine which sounds out in our Churches is the uninterrupted concord of the Universal Church of God and that prayer and life are governed by the requisite admission of this doctrine. Accordingly <I say> that this is the very doctrine about which the Son of God says, If any man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and build a dwelling in his house. For I am speaking of the highest Doctrine as it is understood and explained in our Churches by the pious and learned. For even if some men at times explain something more properly and elegantly while other men explain less so, or one man speaks sometimes more unpolished than another, nevertheless there is harmony among the pious and educated about matters of the greatest importance.

And as I often think hard about the doctrine of all times <handed down> by the Apostles uninterruptedly from that time, after the initial purity four prominent changes of doctrine seemed to have followed.

The age of Origen, even if there were some men or other thinking rightly, I think that Methodius, who condemned the ravings of Origen, was the sort of man, nevertheless in the hearts of the multitude he turned the Gospel to Philosophy, that is, he spread this persuasion, that the moderate instruction of reason obtains the remission of sins and that it is justice about which was said: The just man will live from his own faith. This age almost completely lost the essential point of the Law and the Gospel and gave up the Apostolic teaching, For it did not keep the natural meaning in the words "letter,"

"spirit," "justice," "faith." And having lost the peculiar nature of words which are the signs of things, it is necessary to fabricate other things.

Pelagius' error, which spread widely, arose from these seeds. And since the Apostles had given the pure doctrine, or, the pellucid and most health-giving sources of the Church, he filled the Beginnings (?) with a great deal of mud.

So that the errors of this age would be corrected from at least some part, God roused up Augustine, this man moderately cleaned the sources again, nor do I doubt, if this man would have been the Judge of the disputes of this age, that we would be reckoned straightaway by the same vote. He clearly thought precisely as we do about the gratuitous remission of sins, justification by faith, the use of the Sacraments, and the indifferent things. However even if here he explained more eloquently or properly what he wanted, there less so, nevertheless if the Reader would bring brilliancy and skill in judging to him, he perceives that he thinks as we do. For the fact that our adversaries sometimes cite Augustine against us after having picked out sayings from him, and that they make an appeal to the fathers with a great shout, does not mean they do this out of eagerness for the truth and antiquity, but they deceitfully manufacture the authority of the ancients with the Idols before them, those Idols which had been unknown until a later age.

But nevertheless it is certain that the seeds of superstitions existed in that age of the Fathers. On that account Augustine decided certain things about prayers, even if he spoke less uncouthly about these than others did. However the pollutions of one's own age always sprinkle some of the follies with even individuals goods, because just as we are well disposed to our country, so to to the rites at hand on which we were brought up, and that saying of Euripides is absolutely correct, Everything familiar is pleasant. Would that all those who boast that they follow Augustine actually return to the uninterrupted idea, and, if I may put it this way, the heart of Augustine, and not merely deceitfully twist mutilated sayings into their own beliefs.

And light having been restored to the writings of Augustine, it benefited posterity, For thereafter Prosper, Maximus, Hugo, and those similar who direct studies, even to the age of Bernard, follow almost the rule of Augustine.

Meanwhile nevertheless the Empires and wealth of the Bishops were growing, and just as the age of the Titans followed, profane and uneducated men reign in the Church, some of whom had been refined in the arts of the Roman court or in the doctrine of the law court.

So Dominicans and Franciscans arose, who, when they saw the luxury and wealth of the Bishops, loathed profane morals, set up a simpler way of life and shut themselves up as if in the jails of discipline. But at first their inexperience increased the superstitions, then, when they saw that the studies of the men in the Schools were turned solely toward forensic doctrine, because already at Rome lawsuits were increasing the power and wealth for many, they themselves endeavored to call men back to Theological studies but they lacked a plan. Albert and those like him who had given themselves over to the doctrine of Aristotle began to transform the doctrine of the Church into philosophy. And these four ages poured not only mud but moveover poisons into the Gospel sources by approving ideas -- plain Idols -- and there is so great a labyrinth and false opinions in Thomas, Scotus and those similar that the sounder Theologians ever desiderated another simpler and purer kind of doctrine.

Nor can it be said without remarkable shamelessness that there was no need for the change of this doctrine, since it was evident that the great part of the Sophisms in those public debates were in no way grasped by those who grew old in that kind of doctrine. Then the idolmania is openly confirmed, when they teach the attachings (efficaciousness of works; applicationes; cf. p.35) of Sacrifice from work, when they excuse the invocations of statues, when they deny that sins are gratuitously forgiven by faith, when out of human Ceremonies they make those (?) of good conscience into an executioner, and finally there are many other things more loathsome and blasphemous, which, when I think about them, I shudder with my whole body.

Therefore we give thanks to God the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who wanted the dirt and poisons to be driven out again from the Gospel sources by his minister Martin Luther, and he restored the pure doctrine of the Church, wherefore it is proper for all pious thinking men in the whole world to join prayers and lamentations together and to beg with burning hearts that God strengthen that which he has done among us on account of his holy temple.

This is your word and promise, o living and true God, the etenal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, creator of all things and of the Church, On account of my name I shall pity ye, on account of me, On account of me I shall not be reproached. I pray You with my whole heart on account of your glory and the glory of your Son always to unite to you the eternal Church also among us by the word of your Gospel, and on account of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ crucified for us and resurrected, intercessor and suppliant, and to guide our hearts by the holy Spirit, so that we may truly call upon you and fulfill the duties pleasing to you.

Guide also the studies of doctrine and govern and preserve these governments and their order, which are the homes of your Church and disciples, since you created the human race for this reason so that you be known and invoked by men, wherefore you also made yourself known by brilliant witnesses, may you not allow these battles in which your doctrine sounds forth to be destroyed.

And since your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, as he was about to undergo his trial, prayed for us: Father, sanctify them in truth, your Word is truth. We join our prayers to the plea of this our Priest and we beg together with him that your doctrine may ever shine out in the human race, and that he govern us. We heard Luther also daily praying these, and during these prayers his soul was calmly called from his mortal body, when he had already completed his sixty-third year.

Posterity has many monuments of the man's doctrine and piety. He published Teachings in which he embraced the saving doctrine and the necessity for men instructing good minds about penance, faith, the true fruits of faith, the use of the Sacraments, the essential point of the Law and the Gospel, the honor of the political order, and finally the principal Articles of doctrine which must of necessity be present in the Church. Next he added Cross-examinations in which he refuted many destructive errors among men. He published Interpretations as well, that is, many commentaries on the Prophetic and Apostolic writings, in which genre even his opponents admit that he surpassed the commentaries of all men which are extant.

All pious minds see that these merits are great, but indeed he equaled these works in usefulness and labor, the translation of the old and new Testament, in which there is such great clearness that instead of a Commentary the very German reading itself is able to exist, which is not however bare but has the most learned notes added to it, and the arguments of individual sections which teach the most important part of the heavenly doctrine and which educate the Reader about the kind of style, so that from the very sources themselves good minds would be able to take solid witnesses of doctrine for use. For Luther did not want to detain them in his own writings but to lead forth the minds of all to the sources. He wanted us to hear the word of God itself, and by this way he wanted true faith and prayer to be kindled in many, so that God be truly worshipped and many men be made inheritors of everlasting life.

It is fitting to publish with thankful mind this purpose and these so great labors and to remember them for the sake of an example so that each of us also for our own sake will be eager to adorn the Church. For the whole of life and all the studies and plans of life must be especially referred to these two ends, First so that we embellish the glory of God: Next that we benefit the Church. About the one of which Paul says, Do ye all for the glory of God.

About the other Psa_122:1-9, Ask ye peace for Jerusalem. And the most pleasing promise is added in the same verse, Those who love the Church will be happy and blessed. May these heavenly commands and these promises invite all men to correctly learn the doctrine of the Church, may they love the ministers of the Gospel and the beneficial Doctors, and may they bring eagerness and dedication to spreading the true doctrine and to preserving the harmony of the true Church.