History of the christian church

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7157 Köstlin says (Engl. transl. of the short biography, p. 65): "Obedience to the Pope was not required at Wittenberg, as it was at other universities." But it is implied in obedience to the Roman church. The university was chartered by the Emperor Maximilian, but the Elector had not neglected to secure the papal sanction. See Jürgens II. 207.

8158 This book, published at Pforzheim, 1506, at the author’s expense, is the first Hebrew grammar written by a Christian, and broke the path for Hebrew learning in Germany. So far Reuchlin was right in calling it a monumentum aere perennius.

9159 DeWette, I. 34: "Petimus a te, Graece, ut controversiam nostram dissolvas, quae sit distantia inter anathema per epsilon, et anathema per h ... Nescio figuras literarum pingere." In his Table Talk he says: "Ich kann weder griechisch noch hebräisch; ich will aber dennoch einem Griechen und Hebräer ziemlich begegnen." Comp. on his linguistic studies and accomplishments, Jürgens, I. 470 sqq.; II. 428 sqq.

0160 He had the Latin text of the Psalms printed, and wrote between the lines and on the margin his notes in very small and almost illegible letters. Köstlin gives a facsimile page in Luther’s Leben, p. 72 (Engl. ed. p. 64). The whole was published with painstaking accuracy by Kawerau in the third volume of the Weimar ed. (1885).

161 The innumerable references to the Hebraeus are never intended for the original, but for Jerome’s Psalterium juxta Hebraeos. Paul de Lagarde has published an edition, Lips., 1874.

2162 Luther illustrates this double four-fold scheme of exegesis by the following table (Weimar ed. III. 11):
Litera Occidens

hystorice terra Canaan



Allegorice Synagoga vel

persona eminens in eadem

tropologice Justitia phari-

saica et legalis

anagogice Gloria futura

secundum carnem
SpiritusVivificans de corpore

hystorice populus in Zion exis-

tens Babylonico Ecclesiastico



Allegorice Ecclesia

vel quilibit




Tropologice Justitia fidei

vel alia excellen ...

Anagogice gloria

eterna in celis.
Econtra Vallis Cedron per oppositum.

3163 This fanciful allegorizing and spiritualizing method of interpreting the Psalms by which they are made to teach almost anything that is pious and edifying, is still popular even in some Protestant churches, especially the Church of England. Comp. e.g. Dr. Neale and Dr. Littledale’s Commentary on the Psalms from primitive and mediaeval writers. London, fourth ed., 1884, 4 vols. The celebrated Baptist preacher, Spurgeon, has written a commentary on the Psalms, in seven volumes, which is likewise full of allegorizing interpretation, but mostly derived from older Protestant and Puritan sources.

4164 Hence the saying: "Si Lyra non lyrasset, Lutherus non saltasset."

5165 Ed. by Dr. Bertheau in the fourth vol. of the Weimar ed. (1886).

6166 See the first ed. in the Weimar ed. of his works, vol. II. 436-618. This commentary of 1519 must be distinguished from the larger work of 1535 which has the same title, but rests on different lectures.

7167 In December, 1531: "Epistola ad Galatas ist meine Epistola, der ich mich vertraut habe, meine Kethe von Bora." Weimar ed. II. 437. Melanchthon called Luther’s commentary the thread of Theseus in the labyrinth of N. T. exegesis.

8168 Both prefaces are printed in the Weimar ed. of his works I. 153 and 378 sq. The book itself has gone through many editions; the best is by Franz Pfeiffer, Theologia deutsch, Stuttgart. 1851, third ed. 1855. There is a English translation by Susanna Winkworth, Theologia Germanica, with additions by Canon Kingsley and Chevalier Bunsen, (London, 1854, new ed. 1874; reprinted at Andover, 1846). Several characteristic mystic terms, as Entwerdung, Gelassenheit, Vergottung, are hardly translatable.

9169 Ed. von Hartmann, the pessimist says (Die Philos. des Unbewussten, Berlin, 1869, p. 276): "Die Mystik ist eine Schlingpflanze, die an jedem Stabe emporwuchert und sich mit den extremsten Gegensätzen gleichgut abzufinden weiss."

0170 See Hermann Hering, Die Mystik Luthers im Zusammenhange seiner Theologieund in ihrem Verh. zur älteren Mystik. Leipzig, 1879. He distinguishes three periods in Luther’s relation to mysticism: (1) Romanisch-mystische Periode; (2) Germanisch-mystische Periode; (3) Conflict with the false mysticism of Münzer, Carlstadt, the Zwickau Prophets, and Schwenkfeldt.

171 Weimar ed., vol. I. 154-220. A Latin copy had appeared already in 1513 and is preserved in the library at Wolfenbüttel, from which Prof. E. Riehm of Halle published it: Initium theologiae Lutheri. S. exempla scholiorum quibus D. Lutherus Psalterium interpretari coepit. Part. I. Septem Psalms paenitentiales. Textum originalem nunc primum de Lutheri autographo exprimendum curavit. Halle, 1874. Luther’s closing lectures of 1516 exist likewise in MS. at Dresden, from which they were published by J. C. Seidemann in: Doctoris M. Lutheri scholae ineditae de Psalmis annis 1513-1516. Dresden, 1876, in 2 vols.

2172 On the early colleagues of Luther, see Jürgens, II. 217-235.

3173 Luther made good use of it for his translation, but was not pleased with the writings of Erasmus. As early as March 1, 1517, he wrote to John Lange: "I now read our Erasmus, but he pleases me less every day. It is well enough that he should constantly and learnedly refute the monks and priests, and charge them with a deep-rooted and sleepy ignorance. But I fear he does not sufficiently promote Christ and the grace of God, of which he knows very little. He thinks more of the human than the divine .... Not every one who is a good Greek and Hebrew, is also for this reason a good Christian. The blessed Jerome with his five tongues did not equal the one-tongued Augustin, although Erasmus thinks differently."—Briefe, ed. De Wette, I. 52.

4174 On St. Peter’s church, see the archaeological and historical works on Rome, and especially Heinr. von Geymüller, Die Entwürfe für Sanct Peterin Rom, Wien (German and French); and Charles de Lorbac, Saint-Pierre de Rome, illustré de plus de 130 gravures sur bois, Rome, 1879 (pp. 310).

5175 The Council incidentally admits that these evil gains have been the most prolific source of abuses,—"unde plurima in Christiano populo abusuum causa fluxit,"—and hence it ordained that they are to be wholly abolished: "omnino abolendos esse."(Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, II. 205 sq.) A strong proof of the effect of the Reformation upon the Church of Rome.

6176 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol., Pars III. Quaest. LXXXIV., De Sacramento Poenitentiae; and in the supplement to the Third Part, Quaest. XXV.-XXVIL, De Indulgentia. Comp. literature in vol. IV. 381.

7177 See the papal documents in Pallavicini, in Löscher (I. 369-383), and Walch, L.’s Werke, XV. 313 sqq. Compare Gieseler, IV. 21 sq. (New York ed.); Hergenröther’s Regesta Leonis X. (1884 sqq.).

8178 J. May: Der Kurfürst Albrecht. II. von Mainz, München, 1875, 2 vols.

9179 Janssen, II. 60, 64: "Das Hofwesen so mancher geistlichen Fürsten Deutschlands, insbesondere das des Erzbischofs Albrecht von Mainz, stand in schreiendem Widerspruch mit dem eines kirchlichen Würdeträgers, aber der Hof Leo’s X., mit seinem Aufwand für Spiel und Theater und allerlei weltliche Feste entsprach noch weniger der Bestimmung eines Oberhauptes der Kirche. Der Verweltlichung und Ueppigkeit geistlicher Fürstenhöfe in Deutschland ging die des römischen Hofes voraus, und erstere wäre ohne diese kaum möglich gewesen." He quotes (II. 76) Emser and Cardinal Sadolet against the abuses of indulgences in the reign of Leo X. Cardinal Hergenröther, in the dedicatory preface to the Regesta Leonis X. (Fasc. I. p. ix), while defending this Pope against the charge of religious indifference, censures the accumulation of ecclesiastical benefices by the same persons, as Albrecht, and the many abuses resulting therefrom.

0180 Löscher (I. 505-523) gives both dissertations, the first consisting of 106, the second of 50 theses, and calls them "Proben von den stinkenden Schäden des Papstthutms." He ascribes, however, the authorship to Conrad Wimpina, professor of theology at Frankfurt-on-the-Oder, who afterwards published them as his own, without mentioning Tetzel, in his Anacephalaiosis Sectarum errorum, etc., 1528 (Löscher, I. 506, II. 7). Gieseler, Köstlin, and Knaake are of the same opinion. Gröne and Hergenröther assign them to Tetzel.

181 Mathesius, Myconius, and Luther (Wider Hans Wurst, 1541, in the Erl. ed. XXVI. 51) ascribe to him also the blasphemous boast that he had the power by letters of indulgence to forgive even a carnal sin against the Mother of God ("wenn einer gleich die heil. Jungfrau Maria, Gottes Mutter, hätte geschächt und geschwängert"). Luther alludes to such a monstrous saying in Thes. 75, and calls it insane. But Tetzel denied, and disproved the charge as a slander, in his Disp. I. 99-101 ("Subcommissariis ac praedicatoribus veniarum Imponere, ut si quis per impossibile Dei genetricem semper virginein violasset ... Odio Agitari Ac Fratrum Suorum Sanguinem Sitire"), and in his letter to Miltitz, Jan. 31, 1518. See Köstlin, I. 160 and 785, versus Körner and Kahnis. Kayser also (l.c. p. 15) gives it up, although he comes to the conclusion that Tetzel was "ein unverschämter und sittenloser Ablassprediger" (p. 20).

2182 In Theses 55 and 56 of his first Disputation (1517), he says that the soul, after it is purified (anima purgata, ist eine Seele gereinigt), flies from purgatory to the vision of God without hinderance, and that it is an error to suppose that this cannot be done before the payment of money into the indulgence box. See the Latin text in Löscher, I. 509.

3183 "Auch hatte er zwei Kinder." The letter of Miltitz is printed in Löscher, III. 20; in Walch, XV. 862; and in Kayser, l.c. 4 and 5. Tetzel’s champions try to invalidate the testimony of the papal delegate by charging him with intemperance. But drunkards, like children and fools, usually tell the truth; and when he wrote that letter, he was sober. Besides, we have the independent testimony of Luther, who says in his book against Duke Henry of Brunswick (Wider Hans Wurst, p. 50), that in 1517 Tetzel was condemned by the Emperor Maximilian to be drowned in the Inn at Innsbruck ("for his great virtue’s sake, you may well believe"), but saved by the Duke Frederick, and reminded of it afterwards in the Theses-controversy, and that he confessed the fact.

4184 Sobald der Pfennig im Kasten klingt,

Die Seel’ aus dem Fegfeuer springt."

Mathesius and Johann Hess, two contemporary witnesses, ascribe this sentence (with slight verbal modifications) to Tetzel himself. Luther mentions it in Theses 27 and 28, and in his book Wider Hans Wurst (Erl. ed. xxvi. 51).

5185 Jüterbog is now a Prussian town of about seven thousand inhabitants, on the railroad between Berlin and Wittenberg. In the Nicolai church, Tetzel’s chest of indulgences is preserved.

6186 The wooden doors of the Schlosskirche were burnt in 1760, and replaced in 1858 by metal doors, bearing, the original Latin text of the Theses. The new doors are the gift of King Frederick William IV., who fully sympathized with the evangelical Reformation. Above the doors, on a golden ground, is the Crucified, with Luther and Melanchthon at his feet, the work of Professor von Klöber. In the interior of the church are the graves of Luther and Melanchthon, and of the Electors Frederick the Wise and John the Constant. The Schlosskirche was in a very dilapidated condition, and undergoing thorough repair, when I last visited it in July, 1886. It must not be confounded with the Stadtkirche of Wittenberg, where Luther preached so often, and where, in 1522, the communion was, for the first time, administered in both kinds.

7187 Knaake (Weim. ed. I. 230) conjectures that the Theses, as affixed, were written either by Luther himself or some other hand, and that he had soon afterwards a few copies printed for his own use (for Agricola, who was in Wittenberg at that time, speaks of a copy printed on a half-sheet of paper): but that irresponsible publishers soon seized and multiplied them against his will. Jürgens says (III. 480) that two editions were printed in Wittenberg in 1517, on four quarto leaves, and that the Berlin Library possesses two copies of the second edition. The Theses were written on two columns, in four divisions; the first three divisions consisted of twenty-five theses each, the fourth of twenty. The German translation is from Justus Jonas. The Latin text is printed in all the editions of Luther’s works, in Löscher’s Acts, and in Ranke’s Deutsche Geschichte (6th ed., vol. VI. 83-89, literally copied from an original preserved in the Royal Library in Berlin). The semi-authoritative German translation by Justus Jonas is given in Löscher, Walch (vol. XVIII.), and O. v. Gerlach (vol. I.), and with a commentary by Jürgens (Luther, III. 484 sqq.). An English translation in Wace and Buchheim, Principles of the Reformation, London, 1883, p. 6 sqq. I have compared this translation with the Latin original as given by Ranke, and in the Weimar edition, and added it at the end of this section with some alterations, insertions, and notes.

8188 Jürgens (III. 481) compares the Theses to flashes of lightning, which suddenly issued from the thunder-clouds. Hundeshagen (in Piper’s "Evangel. Kalender" for 1859, p. 157), says: "Notwithstanding the limits within which Luther kept himself at that time, the Theses express in many respects the whole Luther of later times: the frankness and honesty of his soul, his earnest zeal for practical Christianity, the sincere devotion to the truths of the Scriptures, the open sense for the religious wants of the people, the sound insight into the abuses and corruptions of the church, the profound yet liberal piety." Ranke’s judgment of the Theses is brief, but pointed and weighty: "Wenn man diese Sätze liest, sieht man, welch ein kühner, grossartiger und fester Geist in Luther arbeitet. Die Gedanken sprühen ihm hervor, wie unter dem Hammerschlag die Funken."—Deutsche Gesch., vol. I. p. 210.

9189 Luther gives the Vulgate rendering of metanoei'te, poenitentiam agite, do penance, which favors the Roman Catholic conception that repentance consists in certain outward acts. He first learned the true meaning of the Greek metavnoia a year later from Melanchthon, and it was to him like a revelation.

0190 "Dominus et magister noster Jesus Christus dicendo ’Poenitentiam agite,’ etc. [Matt. 4:17), omnem vitam fidelium poenitentiam esse voluit." In characteristic contrast, Tetzel begins his fifty counter Theses with a glorification of the Pope as the supreme power in the church: "Docendi sunt Christiani, ex quo in Ecclesia potestas Papae est suprema et a solo Deo instituta, quod a nullo puro homine, nec a toto simul mundo potest restringi aut ampliari, sed a solo Deo."

191 The German translation inserts here the name of Tetzel (wider Bruder Johann Tetzel, Prediger Ordens), which does not occur in the Latin text.

2192 The first four theses are directed against the scholastic view of sacramental penitence, which emphasized isolated, outward acts; while Luther put the stress on the inward change which should extend through life. As long as there is sin, so long is there need of repentance. St. Augustin and St. Bernard spent their last days in deep repentance and meditatation over the penitential Psalms. Luther retained the Vulgate rendering, and did not know yet the true meaning of the Greek original (matavnoia, change of mind, conversion). The Theses vacillate between the Romish and the Evangelical view of repentance.

3193 This thesis reduces the indulgence to a mere remission of the ecclesiastical punishments which refer only to this life. It destroys the effect on purgatory. Compare Thesis 8.

4194 These saints were reported to have preferred to suffer longer in purgatory than was necessary for their salvation, in order that they might attain to the highest glory of the vision of God.

5195 This and the following theses destroy the theoretical foundation of indulgences, namely, the scholastic fiction of a treasury of supererogatory merits of saints at the disposal of the Pope.

6196 The prophetic dream of the Elector, so often told, is a poetic fiction. Köstlin discredits it, I. 786 sq. The Elector Frederick dreamed, in the night before Luther affixed the Theses, that God sent him a monk, a true son of the Apostle Paul, and that this monk wrote something on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg with a pen which reached even to Rome, pierced the head and ears of a lion (Leo), and shook the triple crown of the Pope. Merle d’Aubigné relates the dream at great length as being, "beyond reasonable doubt, true in the essential parts." He appeals to an original MS., written from the dictation of Spalatin, in the archives of Weimar, which was published in 1817. But that MS., according to the testimony of Dr. Burkhardt, the librarian, is only a copy of the eighteenth century. No trace of such a dream can be found before 1591. Spalatin, in his own writings and his letters to Luther and Melanchthon, nowhere refers to it.

7197 Albert Krantz of Hamburg, who died Dec. 7, 1517. Köstlin, I. 177.

8198 He said of Tetzel, that he dealt with the Bible "wie die Sau mit dem Habersack" (as the hog with the meal-bag); of the learned Cardinal Cajetan, that he knew as little of spiritual theology as "the donkey of the harp;" he called Alveld, professor of theology at Leipzig, "a most asinine ass," and Dr. Eck "Dreck:" for which he was in turn styled luteus, lutra, etc. Such vulgarities were common in that age, but Luther was the roughest of the rough, as he was the strongest of the strong. His bark, however, was much worse than his bite, and beneath his abusive tongue and temper dwelt a kind and generous heart. His most violent writings are those against Emser (An den Emserschen Steinbock), King Henry VIII., Duke Henry of Brunswick (Wider Hans Wurst), and his last attack upon popery as "instituted by the Devil" (1545), of which Döllinger says (Luther, p. 48), that it must have been written "im Zustande der Erhitzung durch berauschende Getränke."

9199 "Beatissime Pater," he says in the dedication, "prostratum me pedibus tuae Beatitudinis offero cum omnibus, quae sum et habeo. Vivifica, occide, roca, revoca, approba, reproba, ut placuerit: vocem tuam vocem Christi in te praesidentis et loquentis agnoscam. Si mortem merui, mori non recusabo. Dominienim est terra et plenitudo ejus, qui est benedictus in saecula, Amen, qui et te servet in aceternum, Amen. Anno MDXVIII."Works (Weimar ed.), I. 529; also in De Wette, Briefe, I. 119-122.

0200 Weim. ed., I. 350-376. Comp. Köstlin, I. 185 sqq.

1201 Luther received at first a favorable impression, and wrote in a letter to Carlstadt, Oct. 14 (De Wette, I. 161): "The cardinal calls me constantly his dear son, and assures Staupitz that I had no better friend than himself. … I would be the most welcome person here if I but spoke this one word, revoco. But I will not turn a heretic by revoking the opinion which made me a Christian: I will rather die, be burnt, be exiled, be cursed." Afterwards he wrote in a different tone about Cajetan, e.g., in the letter to the Elector Frederick, Nov. 19 (I. 175 sqq.), and to Staupitz, Dec. 13 (De Wette, I. 194).

202 "Ego nolo amplius cum hac bestia loqui. Habet enim profundos oculos et mirabiles speculationes in capite suo." This characteristic dictum is not reported by Luther, but by Myconius, Hist. Ref. p. 73. Comp. Löscher, II. 477. The national antipathy between the Germans and the Italians often appears in the transactions with Rome, and continues to this day. Monsignor Eugenio Cecconi, Archbishop of Florence, in his tract Martino Lutero, Firenze, 1883, says: "Lutero non amava gi’ italiani, e gl’ italiani non hanno mai avuto ne stima ne amore per quest’ uomo. Il nostro popolo, col suo naturale criterio, lo ha giudicato da un pezzo." He declared the proposal to celebrate Luther’s fourth centennial at Florence to be an act of insanity.

3203 In Bavaria; not Mannheim, as Kahnis (I. 228) has it.

4204 "Dr. Staupitz" (says Luther, In his Table-Talk) "hatte mir ein Pferd verschafft und gab mir den Rath, einen alten Ausreuter zu nehmen, der die Wege wüsste, und half mir Langemantel (Rathsherr) des Nachts durch ein klein Pförtlein der Stadt. Da eilte ich ohne Hosen, Stiefel, Sporn, und Schwert, und kam his gen Wittenberg. Den ersten Tag ritt ich acht (German) Meilen und wie ich des Abends in die Herberge kam, war ich so müde, stieg, im Stalle ab, konnte nicht stehen, fiel stracks in die Streu."
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