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his eyes a great privilege to be able to profit by the treasures of this vast collection.
One day, (he had been then two years at Erfurth, and was twenty years of age,) he was opening the books in the library one after another in order to read the names of the authors. One which he opened in its turn drew his attention. He had not seen any thing like it till that hour. He reads the title :it is a Bible ! a rare book, unknown at that time. His interest is strikingly excited; he is filled with astonishment at finding more this volume than those fragments of the gospels and epistles which the church has selected to be read to the people in their places of worship every Sunday in the year. Till then he had thought that they were the whole word of God. And here are so many pages, so many chapters, so many books, of which he had no idea! His heart beats as he holds in his hand all the scripture divinely inspired. With eagerness and indescribable feelings he turns over ihese leaves of God's word. The first page that arrests his attention, relates the history of Hannah and the young Samuel. He reads, and can scarcely restrain his joyful emotion. This child whom his parents lend to the Lord as long as he liveth; Hannah's song in which she declares that the Lord raiseth up the poor out of the dust and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill
, to set him among princes; the young Samuel who grows up in the temple before the Lord; all this history, all this revelation which he has discovered, excites feelings till then unknown. He returns home with a full heart. 'Oh! thought he, .if God would but give me such a book for my own!' Luther did not yet understand either Greek or Hebrew. It is not probable that he should have studied those languages during the first two or three years of his residence in the university. The Bible that had filled him with such transport was in Latin. He soon returned to the library to find his treasure again. He read and re-read, and then in his surprise and joy, he went back to read again. The first gleams of a new truth then arose in his mind.
« Thus has God caused him to find his wird! He has now discovered that book of which he is one day to give to his countrymen that admirable translation in which the Germans for three centuries have read the oracles of God. For the first time, perhaps, this precious volume has been removed from the place that it occupied in the library of Erfurth. This book, deposited upon the unknown shelves of a dark room, is soon to become the book of life to a whole nation. The Reformation lay hid in that Bible.” Vol. i. pp. 131, 132.
But it is the history of Luther's conviction and conversion which, more than any part of this work, interests and affects
It extends through many pages, and cannot therefore be extracted; nor would we willingly do any thing which might make our pages a substitute for the volume itself. A few paragraphs, however, we must offer to the reader, in the hope that after this specimen, he will peruse the whole account. After a minute and most instructive recital of the anxieties and mental conflicts experienced by the young monk, while yet under the condemnation of the law, and vainly endeavouring to procure peace to his conscience by rites and penances, the following interview is related between him and Staupitz, vicar-general of the Augustine monks of Germany. It will be seen, that even amidst the errors and abuses of the monastic life, this good man had discovered what was the way of salvation.
“ The heart of Luther, which had remained closed under harsh treatment, at last opened and expanded to the sweet beams of love. •As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.' (Prov. xxvii. 9.) Staupitz's heart responded to that of Luther. The vicar-general understood him. The monk felt towards him a confidence till then unknown. He opened to him the cause of his sadness, he described the horrid thoughts that distressed him, and hence ensued, in the cloister of Erfurth, conversations full of wisdom and instruction.
“ . It is in vain,' said the dejected Luther to Staupitz, that I make promises to God; sin is always too strong for me.'
“Oh, my friend,' answered the vicar-general, looking back on his own ex, perience, “I have vowed to the holy God more than a thousand times that I would live a holy life, and never have I kept my vow! I now make no more vows, for I know well I shall not keep them. If God will not be merciful to me for Christ's sake, and grant me a happy death when I leave this world, I cannot, with all my vows and good works, stand before him. I must perish.'
“The young monk is terrified at the thought of divine justice. He confesses all his fears. The unspeakable holiness of God-his sovereign majesty fills him with awe.
Who can endure the day of his coming? Ilho can stand when He appeareth
« Staupitz resumed. He knew where he had found peace, and it was in his heart to tell the young man. Why,' said he, “ do you distress yourself with these speculations and high thoughts? Look to the wounds of Jesus Christ, to the blood which he has shed for you ; it is there you will see the mercy of God. Instead of torturing yourself for your faults, cast yourself into the arms of the Redeemer. Trust in him,-in the righteousness of his life, in the expiatory sacrifice of his death. Do not shrink from him; God is not against you; it is you who are estranged and averse from God. Listen to the Son of God. He became man to assure you of the divine favour. He says to you, You are my sheep; you hear my voice; none shall pluck you out of my hand.?
“But Luther could not find in himself the repentance he thought necessary to his salvation ; he answered (and it is the usual answer of distressed and timid minds,) . How can I dare believe in the favour of God, so long as there is no real conversion? I must be changed before he can receive me.'
“ His venerable guide proves td him that there can be no real conversion, so long as man fears God as a severe judge. • What will you say then,' cries Luther, “to so many consciences, to whom are prescribed a thousand insupportable penances in order to gain heaven?
Then he hears this answer from the vicar-general ;-or rather he does not believe that it comes from a man; it seems to him a voice resounding from heaven. There is,' said Staupitz, ‘ no true repentance but that which begins in the love of God and of righteousness. That which some fancy to be the end of repentance is only its beginning. In order to be filled with the love of that which is good, you must first be filled with the love of God. If you wish to be really converted, do not follow these mortificatious and penances. Love him who has first loved you.'
“Luther listens, and listens again. These consolations fill him with a joy before unknown, and impart to him new light. “It is Jesus Christ,' thinks he in his heart; “yes, it is Jesus Christ himself who comforts me so wonderfully by these sweet and salutary words.'
" These words, indeed, penetrated the heart of the young monk like a sharp arrow from the bow of a strong man. In order to repentance, we must love God! Guided by this new light, he consulted the scriptures. He looked to all the passages which speak of repentance and conversion. These words, so dreaded hitherto, (to use his own expressions,) become to him an agreeable pastime and the
sweetest refreshment. All the passages of scripture which once alarmed him, seemed now to run to him from all sides, to smile, to spring up and play around him.
« • Before,' he exclaims, though I carefully dissembled with God as to the state of my heart, and though I tried to express a love for him, which was only a constraint and a mere fiction, there was no word in the scripture more bitter to me than that of repentance. But now there is not one more sweet and pleasant to me. Oh! how blessed are all God's precepts, when we read them not in books alone, but in the precious wounds of the Saviour.” Vol. i. p. 149–152.
We fear these instructions are far too evangelical for some who in our day assume the direction of inquiring souls; they refer too much to the work of Christ, and too little to the work of the sinner. Yet it was these views of the freeness of the gospel which brought peace to the soul of Luther; these were the grounds of hope which he ever afterwards preached as the support of sinking souls; and these were the pillars of the Reformation, wherever it was established in Europe.
It is no part of our intention to follow the train of events, as they are here related. In their general aspect, they are familiar to our readers, and our author's peculiar way of presenting them can be learnt only by a perusal of his work. He has shown the happy art of bringing before us, with all the interest of novelty, occurrences with which we have been made acquainted long since by the common histories. As an example of this, let us cite his graphic description of Tetzel and his traffic.
“A great agitation reigned at that time among the people of Germany. The church had opened a vast market on the earth. Judging from the crowd of buyers, and the noise and jests of the dealers, we might call it a fair ; but a fair held by monks. The merchandise they extolled, offering it at a reduced price, was, said they, the salvation of souls !
- The dealers passed through the country in a gay carriage, escorted by three borsemen, in great state, and spending freely. One might have thought it some dignitary on a royal progress, with his attendants and officers, and not a common dealer, or a begging monk. When the procession approached a town, a messenger waited on the magistrate : The grace of God, and of the holy father, is at your gates!' said the envoy. Instantly every thing was in motion in the place. The clergy, the priests, the nuns, the council, the schoolmasters, the trades, with their flags,-men and women, young and old, went forth to meet the merchants, with lighted tapers in their hands, advancing to the sound of music, and of all the bells in the place ; so that,' says an historian, 'they could not have given a grander welcome to God himself.? Salutations being exchanged, the whole procession moved toward the church. The pontiff's bull of grace was borne in front, on a velvet cushion, or on cloth of gold. The chief vender of indulgences followed, supporting a large red wooden cross; and the whole procession moved in this manner, amidst singing, prayers, and the smoke of incense. The sound of organs, and a concert of instruments, received the monkish dealer and his attendants into the church. The cross he bore with him was erected in front of the altar; on it was hung the pope's arms; and, as long as it remained there,
the clergy of the place, the penitentiaries, and the sub-commissioners, with white wands in their hands, came every day after vespers, or before the salutation, to do homage to it. This great bustle excited a lively sensation in the quiet towns of Germany.
“One person in particular drew the attention of the spectators in these sales. It was he who bore the great red cross, and had the most prominent part assigned to him. He was clothed in the habit of the Dominicans, and his port was lofty. His voice was sonorous, and he seemed yet in the prime of his strength, though he was past his sixty-third year. This man,
who was the son of a goldsmith of Leipsic named Diez, bore the name of John Diezel or Tetzel. He had studied in his native town, had taken his bachelor's degree in 1487, and entered two years later into the order of the Dominicans. Numerous honours had been accumulated on him. Bachelor of theology, prior of the Dominicans, apostolical commissioner, inquisitor, (hereticæ pravitatis inquisitor,) he had ever since the year 1502, filled the office of an agent for the sale of indulgences. The ex. perience he had acquired as a subordinate functionary had very early raised him to the station of chief commissioner. He had an allowance of 80 forins per month, all his expenses defrayed, and he was allowed a carriage and three horses; but we may readily imagine that his indirect emoluments far exceeded his allowances. In 1507, he gained in two days at Freyberg 2000 forins. If his occupation resembled that of a mountebank, he had also the morals of one. Convicted at Inspruck of adultery and abominable profligacy, he was near paying the forfeit of his life. The Emperor Maximilian had ordered that he should be put into a sack and thrown into the river. The Elector Frederic of Saxony had interceded for him, and obtained his pardon. But the lesson he bad received had not taught him more decency. He carried about with him two of his children. Miltitz, the pope's legate, cites the fact in one of his letters. It would have been hard to find in all the cloisters of Germany a man more adapted to the traffic with which he was charged. To the theology of a monk, and the zeal and spirit of an inquisitor, he united the greatest effrontery. What most helped him in his office was the facility he displayed in the invention of the strange stories with which the taste of the common people is generally pleased. No means came amiss to him to fill his coffers. Lifting up his voice and giving loose to a coarse volubility, he offered his indulgences to all comers, and excelled any salesman at a fair in recommending his merchandise.
As soon as the cross was elevated, with the pope's arms suspended upon it, Tetzel ascended the pulpit, and with a bold tone began, in the presence of the crowd whom the ceremony had drawn to the sacred spot, to exalt the efficacy of indulgences. The people listened and wondered at the admirable virtues ascribed to them. A Jesuit historian says himself, in speaking of the Dominican friars whom Tetzel had associated with him :-— Some of these preachers did not fail, as usual, to distort their subject, and so to exaggerate the value of the indulgences as to lead the people to believe that, as soon as they gave their money, they were certain of salvation, and of the deliverance of souls from purgatory.' Vol. i. pp. 209–211.
That the history is sufficiently minute, will appear from the fact that the second volume takes us down no further than the Diet of Wornis, in 1541. This fulness of the narrative contributes, in no small degree, to the vivacity of the work; for nothing is more tedious than a mere book of annals, in which events are recorded in general terms, without the thousand circumstances which characterize the scenes, and give individual prominence to the actors. In
the eighth book, we are introduced to the reformer Zwingle, and the beginnings of the reformation in Switzerland; a subject which is treated with all the enthusiasm and affection which we might expect in one living upon the borders of the land of which he writes. Zwingle is brought before us, with the same delightful particularity and brilliancy of delineation which we have remarked in the case of Luther.
We commend these most engaging volumes to every class of our readers. If sometimes, from the stirring nature of the recital, they should imagine that they are perusing the inventions of romance, they must attribute this to the skill of the historian, assured by his perpetual citation of original authorities, that every statement is drawn from authentic memorials. The book breathes the spirit of piety, and of that piety which is not indifferent to truth. There is no attempt to conceal those doctrines which offend the natural heart, and which, after being the powerful weapons of Luther and Zwingle, have been laid aside by so many of their successors. The history is evidently written in the very spirit in which its great deeds were enacted. That such a spirit is reviving in France and Switzerland. especially at a time when, as in the Canton of Vaud, the ancient landmarks are suffering violence from the hand of infidel governors, is matter of thanksgiving and of hope.
ART. VI.— The Prelatical Doctrine of Apostolical Suc
cession Examined, and the Protestant Ministry Defended against the Assumptions of Popery and High Churchism, in a Series of Lectures. By Thomas Smyth, Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Charleston, S.C. Boston, 1841. Svo. pp. 568.
This book does no small credit to the industry and talent of the author. The importance of his subject, the correctness of his views, and the abundance of materials which he seems to have had at his command, entitle his performance to the most respectful notice. It is true, the circumstance last mentioned is, in one respect, a disadvantage, as all makers of books know. Selection from a great mass of materials, including the rejection without mercy of whatever may be spared, is one of the most arduous duties of VOL. XIV. NO. I.