« PreviousContinue »
CHRISTIAN EXAMINER .
JULY, 18 6 2.
ART. I. — VIEWS OF LUTHER.
1. Bilder aus der deutschen Vergangenheit. Von Gustav FREYTAG.
Leipzig. 1860. 2. Historia Parallela Doctoris Martini Lutheri et Martini Episcopi
Turonensis. A M. E. HASENMILLERO, Auctore Historiæ Ordinis
Anno M. D. XCIII. 3. Life of Martin Luther, by CHEVALIER BUNSEN. With an Esti
mate of Luther's Character and Genius, by Thomas CARLYLE, and an Appendix by Sir William HAMILTON. New York : Delisser and Proctor. 1860.
We have before us one of the earliest and one of the most recent sketches of Luther. In each he is criticised by his own countrymen, but the results are somewhat dissimilar. The historian of the Jesuits, Hasenmiller, places in parallel columns, appropriately headed Lux and Tenebre, the various saintly acts and graces of St. Martin of Tours, — strangely omitting all mention of his opposition to the beheading of Priscillian, the first heretic judicially murdered by the Christian Church, — and a corresponding series of accusations against Luther for deficiencies in every one of those points in which his prototype or antitype was so illustrious. The author introduces his work as a comparison between virtue and vice, Christ and the Devil. He applies to Luther the choice titles of Omnium heresiarcharum pronymphus (paranymph ?), nostri seculi Pseudo-apostolus, Tenebræ et Nox Ecclesiæ, Fax VOL. LXXIII. 5TH S. VOL. XI. NO. I.
Germaniæ, Dedecus omnium Prædicantium, cloaca omnium hereticorum. He makes ingenious comparisons between Martin the bishop, dividing his cloak with the disguised Jesus, and Martin the heretic, rending asunder the seamless robe of Christ, the former division rewarded by glorious visions of the Redeemer, and the latter punished by terrible apparitions of Satan. Of course the zealous Jesuit soars far above anything like analysis of character or historic generalization. For these we must turn to the humbler pages of a popular novelist. The author of “Debit and Credit” (Soll und Haben) has given us a representation, at once picturesque and philosophic, of the exact appearance of the personality and agency of Luther, under the full light of the brightest and freshest German thought. Luther's limitations are fairly pointed out, while the true greatness of the man and the work is depicted in all the glowing beauty of the originals.
Freytag thinks that the Catholic theologian has almost as much cause to be grateful to Luther as the Protestant, and that German Catholicism owes what life and truth it has mainly to the great heresiarch. He attaches great importance to the influence of Luther's example, as the genial and pious husband and father, over the domestic life of his nation. He traces much of what is purest and noblest in the social relations of Germany to the marriage, as he says, " of an excommunicated monk and a runaway nun.” He points out the real melancholy which was the under-current of Luther's life, especially before his marriage, and gives some interesting particulars of his appearance and habits. Freytag's general historical views are so accurate, that we are very ready to pardon such errors in detail as where he regrets Luther's advising the Elector of Saxony to consent to having Ferdinand made King of Rome; the fact being that the Elector did protest against the election, which took place, nevertheless. We think the general plan of these sketches of the past — of which we are able to notice only the two entitled " Doctor Luther," and “Deutsche Fürsten auf dem Reichstage most admirable. Each great social movement and every class of mediæval society is first accurately and elegantly described, and then brought directly before us by some relic of