Illustrations of the life of Martin Luther - THE MARRIAGE

[Scene: Amsdorff's House at Wittemberg.) 13th JUNE, 1525.
Autor: Labouchere, P. H. (?-?), Erscheinungsjahr: 1862
Enthaltene Themen: Reformation, Reformationszeit, Reformatoren, Martin Luther, Melanchthon, Wittenberg, Wartburg, Eisenach,

LUTHER had remained alone in the Augustine convent, and his were now the only footsteps that echoed through its long corridors. He sat silent in the refectory, and the voices of the monks were heard no more around the table. In the midst of his solitude he thought: "The first commandment that God gave to man was to take to himself a help-mate. The first time our Lord manifested His glory was on a wedding-day. The only ray now left us of the joys of Paradise is the gentle radiance of domestic happiness. . . But, alas! popery has changed that divine order: the peace of a household and conjugal fidelity are every day troubled by the gross passions of priests and monks. We must bring this guilty celibacy to an end, and restore the Lord's institution."

Nine nuns living in a convent of Saxony had for some time past been studying the Holy Scriptures. "What a difference!" exclaimed one of them, by name Catherine von Bora, "between the Christian and the monastic life!" One day Catherine and her eight companions alighted from a waggon at the gate of the old Augustine convent at Wittemberg. Luther received them kindly, and placed them in the families of some of his friends. He found Catherine von Bora to be virtuous and pious, but a little proud, which displeased him. Yet, upon reflection, he recognized all the beauty of her character. "Of a truth", said he, "this noble lady will be of greater worth to the man who marries her than the republic of Venice or the kingdom of France."

Meantime the thoughts over which he had been brooding for some months still continued to occupy his mind. His aged father desired to see him married, and he began to wish for it himself. Day and night he prayed the Lord to guide him. "Must I marry", said he, "or must I abide alone?" He soon saw that if he was called to marriage as a man, he was also as a reformer. "By marrying", said he, "I shall break entirely with the institutions of popery; I shall encourage timid men to renounce their detestable errors. I will preserve nothing of my papistical life. If I take a wife, it is not to live with her long, for my end is near; but I wish to leave an unimpeachable confirmation of what I have preached hero on earth."

Luther's intentions were no sooner known than there was a great commotion in Wittemberg. "If this monk marries", said Dr. Scharf, shrugging his shoulders, "the world and the devil will laugh at him, and he will destroy with his own hand the work he has begun." "Indeed!" said the Reformer. "I shall play the world and the devil this trick then. I will brave my enemies, and do this pleasure to my father. I shall marry Catherine, and nobody shall make me afraid!"

At five o'clock on the afternoon of the 13th of June, 1525, Luther went to Amsdorff's house (or, as others say, to the town-clerk's), where Catherine had arrived before him. The betrothed pair stood side by side; Lucas Cranach the artist, Reichenbach, and the legist Apelles, gathered round them as witnesses; and then Pomeranus, whom Luther pre-eminently styled "The Pastor," began the ceremony. Luther and Catherine joined hands, the pastor blessed them in the name of the Lord. Luther was so moved that he could not restrain the feelings that came crowding into his heart, and exclaimed: "Heavenly Father, who hast called me to proclaim Thy name, and hast established me in the functions of the ministry, since it is Thy will that I should be called 'father,' give me Thy blessing that I may guide my well-beloved wife, my children, and my servants in a Christian manner." Then the Pastor, stretching his hands over them, said:

"May thy wife be as a fruitful vine by the side of thy house; thy children like olive-plants round about thy table; mayst thou see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life."

Two days later Luther wrote to Rühel, to John Thur, and to Caspar Muller:

"The nobles, priests, and peasants are all against me, and the whole world threatens me with death. . . I wish to be prepared for it, and with that view I desire to be found at my last hour in the state which God has appointed, and without retaining any traces of my old life. For this reason I married, and I intend to have a little feast on this account next Tuesday week. If you will come and meet my dear father and mother, and bring with you some good friends, you will give me much pleasure. I should very willingly invite my gracious lords. Counts Gebhard and Adelbert; but I dare not, for their Graces have plenty to do without thinking of me.

"Martin Luther."

Having despatched this letter, he took another sheet of paper, and wrote to Spalatin: -

"I am preparing a feast on the occasion of my marriage; you must be present at it. By this marriage I have drawn upon myself so much contempt and abuse, that the angels, I hope, rejoice, and all the devils weep. The world forgets that marriage is a pious and holy work of God, or (at least, so far as I am concerned) regards it as an impious and devilish thing! Pray for us!"

Sarcasms and calumnies were indeed lavished upon him from every quarter. "Antichrist will be born of this marriage", said one; "for our prophets foretell that he will be born of a monk and a nun." To which Erasmus replied, with a malicious smile: "If the prediction is true, what thousands of antichrists there must have been in the world already!" - "He who is in us", replied Luther, "is greater than the world, and those who are with us are more numerous than those who are with them. The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear! May God make this new kind of life a blessing to me!"

And He did so. Catherine consoled him when he was dejected, soothed him when he was vexed: she sat at his feet, and read to him from the Bible. "The married state", exclaims Luther, "compels a man to enter into the most heavenly life the life of faith! The husband loves his wife as Christ loved the Church, and the wife honours in her husband the image of Him who is her real Head. My Ketha submits to me in all things, and I count myself richer than Croesus."

The marriage of the ministers of the Lord put an end to a countless number of disorders and secret crimes. The reformers and their disciples became the models of their flocks in the most important relation of life; and a morality, till then unknown, spread through the middle classes. We may easily convince ourselves of this by comparing the nations under the rule of Scripture with those under the rule of popery.

Luther, Die Hochzeit

Luther, Die Hochzeit

RA 047 Luther und seine Gattin

RA 047 Luther und seine Gattin