Illustrations of the life of Martin Luther - POVEETY

(Scene: St. George's Square, Eisenach.) 1498.
Autor: Labouchere, P. H. (?-?), Erscheinungsjahr: 1862
Enthaltene Themen: Reformation, Reformationszeit, Reformatoren, Martin Luther, Melanchthon, Wittenberg, Wartburg, Eisenach,

About the year 1498, Martin Luther, then nearly fifteen years old, arrived in Thuringia, whither his father had sent him. He had left the Mansfeld school, and passed a year in that of Magdeburg. The reputation it had acquired under the celebrated Tribonius now attracted him to the grammar-school of Eisenach; besides which, John Luther, having some relatives in that town, had hoped that they would provide for the boy's wants. This hope was not realized ; and Martin, impelled by hunger, was forced to join the other scholars, who were in the habit of singing hymns in the streets, in order to obtain panem propter Deum (bread for the love of God).

One day these children, at the beginning of their hungry labour, stopped before a house and sang, as was their habit. Being turned away, they moved on, singing as they went. "Be off with you!" was their coarse greeting; and tears fell from Martin's eyes. Yet he was not discouraged ; he stopped before a third house, and selected his sweetest hymn. His fine alto voice combined well with the voices of his friends, and a strain full of harmony arose, begging bread of the wealthy inhabitants of the house. The song ended, yet nobody appeared. Upon this, Martin timidly went up and knocked at the door. "Idler! beggar! vagabond!" this was all the alms they gave him. They refused a crust of bread to him who was destined ere long to become the benefactor of Germany and of the world.

The poor boy shrunk back affrighted: his heart was wrung with grief; and he withdrew, a prey to shame and sorrow. "What!” said he mournfully to himself; "are we to be despised because we sing for bread ? Have not many great doctors and gentlemen begun like us?" And then he added bitterly: "Must I give up my studies, return to my father's, and work in the mines at Mansfeld?"

The unfortunate Martin was indulging in these gloomy reflections in St. George's Square, in front of a house of good appearance, inhabited by Ursula Cotta, a pious and wealthy woman, daughter of the rich burgomaster of Ilefeld. When she heard the distant voices of the students, she had approached the window, and witnessed the repeated humiliations inflicted on the poor boy. The scholar's beautiful voice and fervent prayers had long since attracted her attention at church, and she had seen with interest young Martin come near her house. The latter, disheartened, was preparing to return home with empty pockets and heart bowed down with sorrow, when suddenly oh, what joy! . . . he can scarcely believe his eyes . . . a door opens, a lady dressed in an elegant costume, according to the fashion of the times, appears on the threshold, descends the steps, and approaching him, says: "Come here, my boy; come into my house: I will give you some bread . . . She set him down at her table, spoke to him in sympathizing tones, and a few days after, being received under her roof, the poor scholar saw his studies secured. From that hour Martin Luther prayed with more faith and studied with more ardour. The charity of this Christian woman had worked in him a great transformation.
The school and his books had become dearer to him. He felt in his heart an inexpressible rapture. Sorrow had given place to joy, and in his leisure hours he practised on the flute and the lute. The chronicle of Eisenach calls Ursula the pious Shunainite, in remembrance of that rich woman of Shunem who constrained the prophet Elisha to enter her house (2 Kings, iv.); and Martin himself, thinking of his adoptive mother, gave utterance in after-years to the beautiful thought: "There is nothing on earth sweeter than the heart of a pious woman."

Such was Luther's poverty. "What is destined to grow great must begin small", says Mathesius, his disciple and biographer. This is one of the rules of God's government. Jacob, the patriarch of Israel, was once a young shepherd, who crossed the Jordan with his staff"; and Christianity began in a cradle. Must not the man, the elect of the Lord in the sixteenth century to restore to the Church the incomprehensible riches of His Word, be poor as the Saviour Himself? Luther, reflecting on the misery and privations of every kind to which so many children, and particularly so many students, were at that time exposed, acknowledged how wholesome was this discipline of God. "The children of the rich", he said, "are proud, presumptuous, and imagine they have no need to learn; but the children of the poor work with the sweat of their brow; and as they have nothing from which they can derive glory, they learn to trust in God alone. Therefore God bestows on them good heads, and makes them capable hereafter of giving lessons to princes, kings, and emperors."
Luther was destined to be a striking example of this truth.

Eisenach was the Bethlehem of the Reformation.

Luther, Armut

Luther, Armut