Illustrations of the life of Martin Luther - LUTHER ON THE WARTBURG

4th MAY, 1521 4th MARCH, 1522.
Autor: Labouchere, P. H. (?-?), Erscheinungsjahr: 1862
Enthaltene Themen: Reformation, Reformationszeit, Reformatoren, Martin Luther, Melanchthon, Wittenberg, Wartburg, Eisenach,
ABOUT two English miles from Eisenach may be seen a mountain, surrounded on three sides by the dark forests of Thuringia, and on whose supimit stands an ancient castle, built by the landgrave Louis the Leaper. The landgraves of Thuringia long kept their court there, and in 1207 they held in it a famous poetical tournament, at which the most celebrated Minnesingers recited their ballads.

At midnight, on the 4th of May, 1521, all was sleeping on the Wartburg; darkness and silence reigned around its old and lofty walls. On a sudden the sound of horses' feet, slowly climbing the mountain-side, was heard; a loud knocking at the gate startled the porter from his slumbers, and a well-known voice bade him open. He lit a torch, drew back the bolts, raised the iron bars, threw back the folding gates, and six horsemen entered. One with the look of a nobleman, was Burkhard von Hund, lord of the neighbouring castle of Altenstein; the second was John of Berleps'ch, commandant of the Wartburg; three others belonged to the garrison of the castle; but it was the sixth that attracted the astonished eyes of the porter, and by the flickering light of his torch he distinguished a monk about forty years of age, pale, thin, and apparently fatigued by his journey. As soon as he had alighted from his horse, he was led into a room in the castle, where the governor showed him the costume of a knight, which he was henceforward to wear. A sword was girt to his side; he was to allow his hair and beard to grow; and, added. John of Berlepsch: "You will go by the name of Sir George."

This monk was Luther.

A week after he had left Worms, as the waggon in which he was riding with his brother and one of his friends, was going through a hollow way, five masked horsemen sprang out upon him, and carried him off. His fellow-travellers ran away in alarm, and soon spread abroad the terrible news, that echoed like a shriek of anguish through all Germany: "Luther has fallen into the hands of his enemies!" The abduction had been contrived by order of Frederick of Saxony, who saw no other way of saving the Reformer.

When Luther rose the next morning, he recollected that he was to dress as a knight; and casting a last look on his monastic garments, he said: "Farewell, thou miserable cowl, that suffices in the monks' opinion to ransom from sin and from death! Farewell, proud robe, which they compare nay! which they prefer to the spotless robe and precious blood of Jesus Christ! . . . . Farewell!"

Having put on the military dress which had been left for him by the Commandant the evening before, Luther carefully examined his room, went to the window, and looked long and earnestly on the gloomy, solitary, silent, and boundless forests which lay beneath him. Then retiring from the window, he sat down, and began to think upon all that had happened to him. He called to mind that suffering and humiliation are necessary to Christians; and though his heart recovered its temper in the waters of bitterness, he cried out with gratitude: "In the time of trouble thou hidest me in thy
Tabernacle." He felt happy in the Wartburg.

This tranquillity was not of long duration. Luther could not keep his thoughts from dwelling upon what was taking place in the world without. "They will accuse me of deserting the field of battle", he said. "They will take advantage of my absence to undo the work I have begun!" Bodily sufferings were soon added to the anguish of his soul: he fell sick, and passed whole nights without sleeping. He would rise, and sitting on his bed, in the darkness and silence of night, would utter cries of torture that were heard in the other apartments of the castle. Luther, whose imagination was excited, fixed his wandering eyes on a certain part of the opposite wall. He fancied he could see Satan rejoicing over his captivity could distinguish his infernal and malicious smile. Luther spoke to him, defied him; but the same satanic sneer was ever visible. One day, in alarm and irritation, he caught up his ink-bottle, and threw it at his adversary's head. The demoniac form vanished, and the bottle was dashed to atoms against the wall.

The Commandant saw that the broken health and agitated mind of his prisoner needed exercise, and invited him to walk about in the neighbourhood of the castle. These excursions were not always without danger. One day, when a cat had stolen into his room, Luther noticed that its eyes were fixed upon a bird in a cage hung near the window. "Tis thus", he said, "that the Pope watches me, ready to pounce upon me if I go out." No matter, he left his chamber. A masked gate in the castle wall was opened, and Sir George ventured into the numerous paths that wound across the slopes of the mountain, and whose sides were fringed with tufts of wild strawberries. He soon grew bolder, and desired to taste the pleasures of the chase; but while the escort that accompanied him cheered on the dogs who drove the game from their hiding-places, Luther was thinking of very different matters. He was meditating controversial topics. "Alas!" he exclaimed; "it is thus that the devil cheers on the Pope and the bishops to the chase of poor souls."

But when Luther returned to his tranquil abode, he displayed far more energy and activity than while he was in the Thuringian forest. He called the Wartburg his Patmos; and the place to which the Elector consigned him had in truth some resemblance to that island where St. John had been banished by the Emperor Doraitian. From the depths of his lonely retreat the new St. John delivered blow after blow against the great Babylon; his letters, tracts each of them was like a thunderbolt, striking and setting fire to the worm-eaten edifice of the Papacy. Men listened, and wondered at the destruction caused by the thunder that crashed from the Wartburg; while at the sight of these repeated blows and their terrible effects, his friends and his enemies, with equal astonishment, exclaimed: "He is still alive!"

The first of his works was directed against Confession; the second was against Latomus, who had written to prove that it was an excellent thing to burn Luther's books. After that came a treatise On the Abuse of the Mass; then another against the New Idol of Halle; and others quite as polemical. Finally, Luther engaged, but without making any show of it as yet, in the most important of all his labours.

One grand thought had entered into his mind, shortly after his arrival at the Wartburg; he had resolved to turn his leisure to account, by giving the Holy Scriptures to his nation. He said: "I will translate the New Testament into our mother-tongue Oh, if this book could but be in the hands in the hearts of all Luther must now retire, and the Bible advance; the man must disappear, and God appear." And he applied himself to his task.

Whilst he was translating the Holy Scriptures, the doctrine of justification by faith, which is particularly set forth in the Epistles of St. Paul, once more attracted all his attention; and he deduced from it a corollary, of which he had not hitherto thought. Seated in his arm-chair, leaning with his elbow on the table, where lay a crucifix and the New Testament, his head resting on his hand, he followed out in his mind all the consequences of Paul's doctrine. "Man is justified by grace, by faith", said he, "and not by his own works. What becomes, then, of the monastic life, based wholly on the presumed merits of the monks? Monkery and salvation by grace are in flagrant opposition If the doctrine of justification abides in the Church, no one can hereafter become a monk. Monkery must fall."

This thought was like a revelation to Luther. He rose in emotion, and, astonished at his great discovery, began to repeat aloud: "Yes! monkery must fall. I will deliver the young from the devilish fires of celibacy . . . . . The monks are the pillars of the Popedom: I will throw down these pillars. God has made nothing which Satan has not caricatured; and because it was God's will to have a nation of priests, Satan has made a nation of monks . . . . . . . But this diabolical race must disappear from the face of the earth . . . . . No, I am not a monk; I am a new creature, not of the Pope, but of Jesus Christ. Christ alone, Christ without any mediator, is my bishop, my abbot, my prior, my Lord, my father, my master; and I will have no other." Luther, excited and terrified as it were by the great revolution that he foresaw, fell back exhausted in his chair.

He soon recovered, however. "To work! to work!" he exclaimed; "no delay!" He took a sheet of paper, and wrote :
"Whatever cometh not of faith is sin.
"Whoever makes a vow of chastity, of service to God, without faith, makes an impious vow, a vow to the devil himself.
"We must utterly suppress all convents as the devil's houses.
"There is only one order that is holy and maketh holy - namely, Christianity and Faith."
Luther next addressed these propositions, which were his declaration of war against a monastic life, "to the bishops and deacons of the Church of Wittemberg."
The Reformation, by suppressing the monks, has restored the laity as essential and influential members of the Church. Luther in the Wartburg laid down the monk's cowl and took up the layman's dress. This transformation of the Reformer was a symbol of the immense transformation about to be wrought in the human race.

He said, then: All who possess the spirit of Christ are priests of the living God.

On this grand principle depend in part the holiness and life of the Church, the liberty and prosperity of nations.

Luther, Lutherzimmer auf der Wartburg

Luther, Lutherzimmer auf der Wartburg

Eisenach, Die Wartburg

Eisenach, Die Wartburg