segunda-feira, 30 de junho de 2014

QUE É A OBRA DE GANHAR ALMAS?


1. Não é profissão. Deus nunca quer que a obra mais elevada e santa, a de ganhar almas, se torne uma profissão. Mas o amor à fama, o amor ao salário e o amor de governar leva muitos a vestirem-se com trajes eclesiásticos e aceitar títulos de oficio. Na história da Igreja, as grandes colheitas de almas foram sempre fruto daqueles que trabalhavam sem ideia de profissionalismo, anunciando a Palavra por toda parte, à sua própria custa.

2. Não é dar esmola. Muitos crentes estão deixando mais e mais de anunciar a mensagem que dá vida à alma, para dar comida e roupa aos pobres. Que a Igreja, deve compadecer-se dos pobres e dar, é certo, mas não será o número total de Paes distribuídos que o Juiz quer ver no último dia, mas o número de almas salvas. Pães e roupas não podem estancar a sede da alma: “Todo o que bebe desta água, tornará a ter sede.”


3. Ganhar almas não é reformá-las. Não se deve pensar nem dar a entender ao perdido, que a salvação é adquirida pelo fato de alguém levantar a mão, deixar de fumar, recusar a bebida forte, e abandonar todos os vícios. Se o homem pudesse salvar-se, só exercer o poder da vontade, Deus não teria dado Seu Filho para sofrer a agonia do Getsêmani e do Calvário.


4. Ganhar almas não é magnetizá-las. A alma atraída pela personalidade ou eloquência do pregador permanece fiel só durante o tempo que o pregador fica com ele. “Meu ensino e a minha pregação não foram em palavras persuasivas de sabedoria, mas em demonstração do Espírito e de poder, para que a vossa fé não se baseie na sabedoria dos homens, mas no poder de Deus”. (1 Cor 2. 4-5). O grande número de almas que Paulo ganhou para Cristo, não foi atraída pela personalidade de apóstolo. “Sua presença corporal é fraca” (2 Cor 10.10). Diz-se Jônatas Edwards, poderoso em ganhar almas, em tempos passados, escrevia seus sermões por extenso; lia-os em voz monótona, página por página, segurando o manuscrito perto dos olhos porque era míope; e, apesar disto, algumas vezes os do auditório agarravam-se aos bancos com medo de cair no inferno dos pecadores, tão vividamente representadas em palavras de fogo, e de tal forma, que multidões foram conquistadas para Deus. Era a Palavra do Senhor que os atraía e não a personalidade do homem.


5. Ganhar almas é pescar. “Segui-me, e eu vos farei pescadores de homens” (Mat 4.19). “Eu vos farei!” Então, os pescadores de homens são feitos por Cristo. Todos os dons necessários, Ele lhes concede.


“Serás pescador de homens” (Luc 5.10). A palavra nesta passagem no original traduzida literalmente, quer dizer: “Apanhar homens vivos”, dando a ideia de salvá-los completamente do perigo mais horrível. Encontra-se esta palavra só uma vez nas Escrituras, em 2 Tim 2.26: “E se livrem do loco do Diabo tendo sido feitos cativos, (apanhados vivos) por ele”. Satanás também apanha almas vivas! Que hoste grande de cativos ele está conduzindo para o inferno! Alguns dos nossos queridos estão na procissão, e nós permanecemos inativos?


6. Ganhar almas é ceifar. “Rogai pois, ao Senhor da seara, que envie trabalhadores para a Sua seara” (Mat 9.38). Não é o dinheiro, nem os crentes, que envia o ceifeiro para suportar o calor, e o labor do dia inteiro, mas, sim, “o Senhor da seara”. “Aqueles que semeiam em lágrimas, com júbilo ceifarão. Embora alguém saia chorando, levando a semente para semear, tornará a vir com júbilo, trazendo os seus feixes” (Sl 126. 5-6)


7. Ganhar almas é procurar o que se havia perdido. Toda a circunvizinhança comove-se ao saber que uma criancinha se perdeu no deserto. O pastor fiel não pode descansar, nem provar comida, a noite inteira, se não achar a ovelha perdida. Leia o capítulo 15 de Lucas e peça a Cristo que lhe dê a Sua compaixão abrasadora para com um mundo pródigo, e lhe ensine a procurar almas perdidas.


8. Ganhar almas é privilégio supremo do crente. Nem a Gabriel, nem a Miguel, nem a qualquer dos anjos dos céus, é permitido participar desse gozo de ganhar almas.


Um dos mais conhecidos missionários na Turquia foi convidado a assumir o cargo de cônsul, numa das maiores cidades daquele país, com salário de príncipe, mas não aceitou. “Por que não aceitou? Perguntou-lhe um moço, admirado. “Porque recuso rebaixar-me a ser embaixador ou cônsul”, foi a resposta calma.
“Os que forem sábios, resplandecerão como o fulgor do firmamento; e os que converterem a muitos para a justiça, como as estrelas para todo o sempre” (Dan 12.3).


9. Ganhar almas é levá-las a ter contato com Cristo. Diz-se Jônatas Goforth: “O alvo da sua vida foi levar homens a Cristo até à hora da sua morte”.


Quantas vezes estamos satisfeitos quando o perdido vem somente para orar. O nosso dever é levá-lo a ter contato com o Cristo vivo.


Não devemos abandoná-lo depois de salvo, mas levá-lo a continuar perante o Senhor. Saulo, salvo no caminho de Damasco, estava pronto a começar a trabalhar para Cristo. Mas foi enviado à cidade, esperando, nas trevas, durante três dias, que Cristo fosse formado nele (compare Gal 4.19).


Não há estória mais gloriosa, entre todos os missionários, do que a de Carlos de Foucald. Nasceu-se e criou-se no seio de uma família nobre, com toda pompa e luxo. Não zombava da religião, mas o seu único interesse era divertir-se. Ocupava um lugar de honra no exército, quando, na casa de parentes, em Paris, encontrou Ruvelin. Quis entrar em polêmica com o pregador, mas este, depois de olhar para ele por alguns momentos, pediu-lhe que se ajoelhasse e orasse, confessando seus pecados. O moço não o quis fazer, dizendo que não viera pra confessar seus pecados. Contudo, o homem de Deus insistiu em que se ajoelhasse. Admirado, de Foucauld obedeceu e foi compungido em sua alma, a confessar a Deus, as faltas de uma vida desperdiçada, da qual antes não fora despertado. Não houve qualquer argumento entre os dois, nem troca de ideias, mas o contrito, Carlos de Foucauld, desde aquele dia não olhou para trás. Nunca houve alguém que abandonasse a velha vida mais sinceramente do que ele. Renunciou a todas as riquezas materiais e confortos da vida, para levar os silvícolas ao Salvador. No lugar onde o Senhor o colocou, foi fiel até a morte, morte de mártir.


O segredo da vida vitoriosa deste missionário estava em ter contato com o Salvador vivo, contato que nunca perdeu.


ESFORÇA-TE PARA GANHAR ALMAS. 

Orlando Boyer. Editora Vida. 1975

POR QUE ELE FOI CRUCIFICADO?




 Enquanto o superintendente falava a respeito da crucificação de Cristo, uma menina sentou-se no seu lugar na escola missionária. Ao ouvir esta bela e comovente história, as lágrimas rolavam dos seus olhos, e ela levantando-se saiu.

À tarde ela voltou. "Maria, por que você foi embora esta manhã?" perguntou-lhe o superintendente. "Ó professor, eu não poderia ficar quando você estava falando a respeito de Jesus sendo pregado na cruz, e fui para um canto da escola, onde confessei meus pecados, e disse-lhe que eu havia ajudado a pregá-lo na cruz por causa dos meus pecados; pedi-lhe o favor de perdoar-me porque eu havia ajudado a matá-lo. Eu estava muito triste, mas agora, sinto-me feliz".

DUZENTAS ILUSTRAÇÕES (Livro 1)
Departamento de Escola Dominical da Junta de
Escolas Dominicais e Mocidade da
Convenção Batista Brasileira – 1947
CASA PUBLICADORA BATISTA

RIO DE JANEIRO-RJ

Юхан 3 (United Arab Emirates)


Юхан 3
1 Парисейлер арасында яҳудий басшыларының бири болған Никодим атлы бир адам бар еди. 2 Ол бир күни түнде Ийсаға келип, Оған: – Устаз, Сениң Ќудайдан келген бир муғаллим екениңди билемиз. Себеби ҳеш ким Ќудай оның менен бирге болмаса, Сен ислеп атырған кәраматларды ислей алмайды, – деди. 3 Ийса оған: – Саған шынын, ҳақыйқатын айтаман: ким де ким қайтадан туўылмаса, Ќудайдың Патшалығын кѳре алмайды, – деп жуўап берди. 4 Никодим Ийсадан: – Ќартайған адам қалай қайтадан туўыла алады? Ол анасының қурсағына екинши мәрте кирип, қайтадан туўыла ала ма? – деп сорады. 5 Ийса оған жуўап берип былай деди: – Саған шынын, ҳақыйқатын айтаман: ким де ким суўдан ҳәм Мухаддес Руўхтан туўылмаса, Ќудай Патшалығына кире алмайды. 6 Денеден туўылған – дене, Мухаддес Руўхтан туўылған – руўх болады. 7 Саған: «Ќайтадан туўылыўың керек», – дегениме ҳайран қалма. 8 Самал қәлеген жеринде еседи, оның даўысын еситесең, бирақ қаяқтан келип, қаяққа кететуғынын билмейсең. Мухаддес Руўхтан туўылған ҳәр бир адам да усындай. 9 Никодим Ийсадан: – Бул қалай болыўы мүмкин? – деп сорады. 10 Ийса оған былай деп жуўап берди: – Сен Израилдың устазы бола тура, усыларды билмейсең бе? 11 Саған шынын, ҳақыйқатын айтаман: бизлер билгенимизди сѳйлеймиз, кѳргенимиз ҳаққында гүўалық беремиз. Ал сизлер бизлердиң гүўалығымызды қабыл етпей атырсызлар. 12 Сизлерге жердеги нәрселер ҳаққында айтқанымда исенбесеңлер, аспандағы нәрселер ҳаққында айтсам, қалай исенесизлер? 13 Аспаннан келген Адам Улынан басқа ҳеш ким аспанға шыққан емес. 14 Муўсаның шѳлде жыланды жоқары кѳтергени сыяқлы, Адам Улы да жоқары кѳтерилиўи тийис. 15 Сонлықтан Оған исенген ҳәр бир адам мәңгилик ѳмирге ийе болады. 16 Себеби Ќудай бул дүньяны соншелли сүйгенликтен, Ѳзиниң жалғыз Улын берди. Оның Улына исенген ҳәр бир адам набыт болмай, мәңгилик ѳмирге ийе болады. 17 Ќудай Улын бул дүньяны ҳүким етиў ушын емес, ал дүньяны Ол арқалы қутқарыў ушын жиберди. 18 Оған исенген адам ҳүким етилмейди. Ал исенбеген адам әлле қашан ҳүким етилген, ѳйткени ол Ќудайдың жалғыз Улының атына исенбеди. 19 Ҳүким мынадан ибарат: дүньяға нур келди, бирақ адамлардың ислери жаман болғанлықтан, олар нурға қарағанда қараңғылықты жақсы кѳрди. 20 Жаманлық ислеўши ҳәр бир адам нурды жек кѳреди ҳәм ислери әшкара болмаўы ушын, нурға келмейди. 21 Бирақ ҳақ ис ислеўши адам ислериниң Ќудай алдында исленгени кѳринсин деп, нурға келеди. 22 Буннан соң, Ийса шәкиртлери менен Яҳудияға келди. Бир неше ўақыт олар менен бирге сол жерде қалып, адамларды шомылдырды. 23 Яқыя да Салимниң қасындағы Айнонда шомылдырып жүрди, себеби ол жерде суў мол еди. Адамлар келип, шомылдырылатуғын еди. 24 Ѳйткени Яқыя еле қамалмаған еди. 25 Сонда Яқыяның шәкиртлери менен бир яҳудий арасында диний әдет бойынша тазаланыў ҳаққында тартыс пайда болды. 26 Олар Яқыяға келип: – Устаз, Иордан дәрьясының арғы жағасында сениң менен бирге болған, сен гүўалық берген Адам бар-ғо, Сол шомылдырып жүрипти. Ҳәмме адам Оған бармақта, – деди. 27 Яқыя былай деп жуўап берди: – Ќудайдан берилмесе, адам ѳзине ҳеш нәрсе ала алмайды. 28 «Мен Масих емеспен, мен тек Оның алдынан жиберилгенмен», – деп айтқаныма сизлер гүўасызлар. 29 Келиншек кимге тийисли болса, сол күйеў болады. Бирақ күйеўди тыңлап турған досты оның даўысын еситип, қатты қуўанады. Мен де сондай қуўанышқа толдым. 30 Оның уллыланыўы, ал мениң пәсейиўим тийис. 31 Жоқарыдан келген ҳәммеден уллы. Жерден болған жерге тийисли ҳәм жердеги нәрселер ҳаққында сѳйлейди. Ал аспаннан келген ҳәммеден уллы. 32 Ол кѳргени ҳәм еситкени ҳаққында гүўалық береди, бирақ гүўалығын ҳеш ким қабыл етпейди. 33 Оның гүўалығын қабыл еткен Ќудайдың ҳақ екенин тастыйықлайды. 34 Ќудай тәрепинен жиберилген Ќудайдың сѳзлерин сѳйлейди. Себеби Ќудай Руўхын ѳлшеўсиз береди. 35 Єке Ѳз Улын сүйеди ҳәм ҳәмме нәрсени Оның қолына тапсырған. 36 Улға исенген адам мәңгилик ѳмирге ийе болады. Улды тыңламаған адам ѳмир кѳрмейди, ал Ќудайдың ғәзеби оның үстинде қалады.

http://gospelgo.com/a/karakalpak_nt.htm#John

Provérbios: Saiba A Hora Certa de Falar






Até um tolo pode passar por sábio
e inteligente se ficar calado.Provérbios 17: 28



Saber a hora de falar é crucial para evitar contendas. Somente o Espírito Santo pode nos ensinar a dominar a nossa língua. Um dos frutos do Espírito é justamente o domínio próprio. Temos que praticar o domínio próprio, pois ele nos ensina a sermos equilibrados.

Pergunta

1. Procure o significado da palavra longanimidade. Depois, reflita sobre como é essencial exercê-la para evitar contendas, homicídios, divisões, divórcios, inimizades entre outras coisas ruins.
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Memorize

Retira o teu pé do mal.

Provérbios 4:27

domingo, 29 de junho de 2014

A ORAÇÃO DE UM MENINO



Conta-se que certo menino na Inglaterra orava por um amigo seu, motorista de táxi. Um dia este homem, subindo silenciosamente a escada do quarto do seu amiguinho, quando ia abrir a porta, ouviu as palavras: "Oh Pai, não o deixe nunca mais ficar embriagado. Ele é amável e bondoso e eu o amo".

O homem entrou e ajoelhando-se também ao lado da cama, perguntou: "Você estava orando por um moleque como eu?" "Sim"; respondeu o menino, "mas o senhor não é moleque, é um homem". E jamais aquele homem esqueceu aquela noite e aquela oração. Guiando o seu táxi pelas ruas cheias da cidade, ouvia constantemente o ressoar daquelas palavras cheias de amor: "O senhor não é moleque, é um homem."


Sim, o sussurro doce daquelas palavras a ressoar cada dia em seu coração o fizeram um homem bom e verdadeiro.


DUZENTAS ILUSTRAÇÕES (Livro 1)
Departamento de Escola Dominical da Junta de
Escolas Dominicais e Mocidade da
Convenção Batista Brasileira – 1947
CASA PUBLICADORA BATISTA
RIO DE JANEIRO-RJ

History of the Reformation: Of the Sixteenth Century: Jean-Henri Merle d'Aubigné (1794-1872)

 

Chapter 2

The University – Scholastic Divinity and the Classics – Luther's Piety – Discovery of the Bible – Illness – Luther admitted M.A. – ConscienceDeath of Alexis – The Thunder Storm – Providence – Farewell – Luther Enters a Convent
LUTHER had now reached his eighteenth year. He had tasted the sweets of literature; he burnt with a desire of knowledge; he sighed for a university education, and wished to repair to one of those fountains of learning where he could slake his thirst for letters. His father required him to study the law. Full of hope in the talents of his son, he wished that he should cultivate them and make them generally known. He already pictured him discharging the most honorable functions among his fellow citizens, gaining the favor of princes, and shining on the theater of the world. It was determined that the young man should go to Erfurth.
Luther arrived at this university in 1501. Jodocus, surnamed the Doctor of Eisenach, was teaching there the scholastic philosophy with great success. Melancthon regrets that at that time nothing was taught at Erfurth but a system of dialectics bristling with difficulties. He thinks that if Luther had met with other professors, if they had taught him the milder and calmer discipline of true philosophy, the violence of his nature might have been moderated and softened. The new disciple applied himself to study the philosophy of the Middle Ages in the works of Occam, Scotus, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas. In later times all this scholastic divinity was his aversion. He trembled with indignation whenever Aristotle's name was pronounced in his presence, and he went so far as to say that if Aristotle had not been a man, he should not have hesitated to take him for the devil. But a mind so eager for learning as his required other aliments; he began to study the masterpieces of antiquity, the writings of Cicero, Virgil, and other classic authors. He was not content, like the majority of students, with learning their productions by heart: he endeavored to fathom their thoughts, to imbibe the spirit which animated them, to appropriate their wisdom to himself, to comprehend the object of their writings, and to enrich his mind with their pregnant sentences and brilliant images. He often addressed questions to his professors, and soon outstripped all his fellow-students. Blessed with a retentive memory and a strong imagination, all that he read or heard remained constantly present to his mind; it was as if he had seen it himself. "Thus shone Luther in his early years. The whole university," says Melancthon, "admired his genius.”
But even at this period the young man of eighteen did not study merely to cultivate his intellect: he had those serious thoughts, that heart directed heavenwards, which God gives to those of whom he resolves to make his most zealous ministers. Luther was sensible of his entire dependence upon God-simple and powerful conviction, which is at once the cause of deep humility and of great actions! He fervently invoked the divine blessing upon his labors. Every morning he began the day with prayer; he then went to church, and afterward applied to his studies, losing not a moment in the whole course of the day. "To pray well," he was in the habit of saying, "is the better half of study.”
The young student passed in the university library all the time he could snatch from his academical pursuits. Books were as yet rare, and it was a great privilege for him to profit by the treasures brought together in this vast collection. One day-he had then been two years at Erfurth, and was twenty years old-he opens many books in the library one after another, to learn their writers' names. One volume that he comes to attracts his attention. He has never until this hour seen it’s like. He reads the title-it is a Bible! A rare book, unknown in those times. His interest is greatly excited: he is filled with astonishment at finding other matters than those fragments of the gospels and epistles that the Church has selected to be read to the people during public worship every Sunday throughout the year. Until this day he had imagined that they composed the whole Word of God. And now he sees so many pages, so many chapters, so many books of which he had had no idea! His heart beats, as he holds the divinely inspired volume in his hand. With eagerness and with indescribable emotion he turns over these leaves from God. The first page on which he fixes his attention narrates the story of Hannah and of the young Samuel. He reads-and his soul can hardly contain the joy it feels. This child, whom his parents lend to the Lord as long as he liveth; the song of Hannah, in which she declares that Jehovah "raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes;" this child who grew up in the temple in the presence of the Lord; those sacrificers, the sons of Eli, who are wicked men, who live in debauchery, and "make the Lord's people to transgress;"-all this history, all this revelation that he has just discovered, excites feelings till then unknown. He returns home with a full heart. "Oh! That God would give me such a book for myself," thought he. Luther was as yet ignorant both of Greek and Hebrew. It is scarcely probable that he had studied these languages during the first two or three years of his residence at the university The Bible that had filled him with such transports was in Latin. He soon returned to the library to pore over his treasure. He read it again and again, and then, in his astonishment and joy, he returned to read it once more. The first glimmerings of a new truth were then beginning to dawn upon his mind.
Thus had God led him to the discovery of his Word-of that book of which he was one day to give his fellow countrymen that admirable translation in which Germany has for three centuries perused the oracles of God. Perhaps for the first time his precious volume has now been taken down from the place it occupied in the library of Erfurth. This book, deposited upon the unknown shelves of a gloomy hall, is about to become the book of life to a whole nation. In that Bible the Reformation lay hid.
It was in the same year that Luther took his first academical degree-that of bachelor.
The excessive labor to which he had devoted himself in order to pass his examination, occasioned a dangerous illness. Death seemed approaching him: serious reflections occupied his mind. He thought that his earthly existence was drawing to an end. The young man excited general interest. "It is a pity," they thought, "to see so many expectations so early blighted." Many friends came to visit him on his bed of sickness. Among their number was a venerable and aged priest, who had watched with interest the student of Mansfeldt in his labors and in his academic career. Luther could not conceal the thoughts that occupied his mind. "Soon," said he, "I shall be called away from this world." But the old man kindly replied, "My dear bachelor, take courage; you will not die of this illness. Our God will yet make of you a man who, in turn, shall console many. For God layeth his cross upon those whom he loveth, and they who bear it patiently acquire much wisdom." These words struck the young invalid. It was when he was so near death that he heard the voice of a priest remind him that God, as Samuel's mother said, raiseth up the miserable. The old man had poured sweet consolation into his heart, had revived his spirits; never will he forget it. "This was the first prediction that the worthy doctor heard," says Mathesius, Luther's friend, who records the fact, "and he often used to call it to mind." We may easily comprehend in what sense Mathesius calls these words a prediction.
When Luther recovered, there was a great change in him. The Bible, his illness, the words of the aged priest, seem to have made a new appeal to him: but as yet there was nothing decided in his mind. Another circumstance awakened serious thoughts within him. It was the festival of Easter, probably in the year 1503. Luther was going to pass a short time with his family, and wore a sword according to the custom of the age. He struck against it with his foot, the blade fell out, and cut one of the principal arteries. Luther, whose only companion had run off in haste to seek for assistance, finding himself alone, and seeing the blood flowing copiously without being able to check it, lay down on his back, and put his finger on the wound; but the blood escaped in despite of his exertions, and Luther, feeling the approach of death, cried out, "O Mary, help me!" At last a surgeon arrived from Erfurth, who bound up the cut. The wound opened in the night, and Luther fainted, again calling loudly upon the Virgin. "At that time," said he in after-years, "I should have died relying upon Mary." Erelong he abandoned that superstition, and invoked a more powerful Savior. He continued his studies. In 1505 he was admitted M.A. and doctor of philosophy. The university of Erfurth was then the most celebrated in all Germany. The others were but inferior schools in comparison with it. The ceremony was conducted, as usual, with great pomp. A procession by torchlight came to pay honor to Luther. The festival was magnificent. It was a general rejoicing. Luther, encouraged perhaps by these honors, felt disposed to apply himself entirely to the law, in conformity with his father's wishes.
But the will of God was different. While Luther was occupied with various studies, and beginning to teach the physics and ethics of Aristotle, with other branches of philosophy, his heart ceased not from crying to him that religion was the one thing needful, and that above all things he should secure his salvation. He knew the displeasure that God manifests against sin; he called to mind the penalties that his Word denounces against the sinner; and he asked himself, with apprehension, whether he was sure of possessing the divine favor. His conscience answered, No! His character was prompt and decided: he resolved to do all that might ensure him a firm hope of immortality. Two events occurred, one after the other, to disturb his soul, and to hasten his resolution.
Among his university friends was one named Alexis, with whom he lived in the closest intimacy. One morning a report was spread in Erfurth that Alexis had been assassinated. Luther hastens to ascertain the truth of this rumor. This sudden loss of his friend agitated him, and the question he asked himself, What would become of me, if I were thus called away without warning? fills his mind with the keenest terrors.
It was in the summer of the year 1505 that Luther, whom the ordinary university vacations left at liberty, resolved to go to Mansfeldt, to revisit the dear scenes of his childhood and to embrace his parents. Perhaps also he wished to open his heart to his father, to sound him on the plan that he was forming in his mind, and obtain his permission to engage in another profession. He foresaw all the difficulties that awaited him. The idle life of the majority of priests was displeasing to the active miner of Mansfeldt. Besides, the ecclesiastics were but little esteemed in the world; for the most part their revenues were scanty; and the father, who had made great sacrifices to maintain his son at the university, and who now saw him teaching publicly in a celebrated school, although only in his twentieth year, was not likely to renounce the proud hopes he had cherished.
We are ignorant of what passed during Luther's stay at Mansfeldt. Perhaps the decided wish of his father made him fear to open his heart to him. He again quitted his father's house to take his seat on the benches of the academy. He was already within a short distance of Erfurth, when he was overtaken by a violent storm, such as often occurs in these mountains. The lightning flashed-the bolt fell at his feet. Luther threw himself upon his knees. His hour, perhaps, is come. Death, the judgment, and eternity summon him with all their terrors, and he hears a voice that he can no longer resist. "Encompassed with the anguish and terror of death," as he says himself, he made a vow, if the Lord delivers him from this danger, to abandon the world, and devote himself entirely to God. After rising from the ground, having still present to him that death which must one day overtake him, he examines himself seriously, and asks what he ought to do. The thoughts that once agitated him now return with greater force. He has endeavored, it is true, to fulfill all his duties, but what is the state of his soul? Can he appear before the tribunal of a terrible God with an impure heart? He must become holy. He has now as great a thirst for holiness, as he had formerly for knowledge. But where can he find it, or where can he attain it? The university provided him with the means of satisfying his first desires. Who shall calm that anguish-who shall quench the fire that now consumes him? To what school of holiness shall he direct his steps? He will enter a cloister: the monastic life will save him. Oftentimes has he heard speak of its power to transform the heart, to sanctify the sinner, to make man perfect! He will enter a monastic order. He will there become holy: thus will he secure eternal life.
Such was the event that changed the calling, the whole destiny of Luther. In this we perceive the finger of God. It was his powerful hand that on the highway cast down the young master of arts, the candidate for the bar, the future lawyer, to give an entirely new direction to his life. Rubianus, one of Luther's friends at the university of Erfurth, wrote thus to him in after-life: "Divine Providence looked at what you were one day to become, when on your return from your parents, the fire from heaven threw you to the ground, like another Paul, near the city of Erfurth, and withdrawing you from our society, drove you into the Augustine order." Analogous circumstances have marked the conversion of the two greatest instruments that Divine Providence has made use of in the two greatest revolutions that have been effected upon the earth: Saint Paul and Luther.
Luther re-enters Erfurth. His resolution in unalterable. Still it is not without a pang that he prepares to break the ties so dear to him. He communicates his intention to no one. But one evening he invites his university friends to a cheerful but frugal supper. Music once more enlivens their social meeting. It is Luther's farewell to the world. Henceforth, instead of these amiable companions of his pleasures and his studies, he will have monks; instead of this gay and witty conversation-the silence of the cloister; and for these merry songs-the solemn strains of the quiet chapel. God calls him, and he must sacrifice everything. Still, for the last time, let him share in the joys of his youth! The repast excites his friends: Luther himself is the soul of the party. But at the very moment that they are giving way without restraint to their gaiety, the young man can no longer control the serious thoughts that fill his mind. He speaks-he makes known his intention to his astonished friends. They endeavor to shake it, but in vain. And that very night Luther, fearful perhaps of their importunate solicitations, quits his lodgings. He leaves behind him all his clothes and books, taking with him only Virgil and Plautus; he had no Bible as yet. Virgil and Plautus! an epic poem and comedies! Striking picture of Luther's mind! There had in effect taken place in him a whole epic-a beautiful, grand, and sublime poem; but as he had a disposition inclined to gaiety, wit, and humor, he combined more than one familiar feature with the serious and stately groundwork of his life.
Provided with these two books, he repairs alone, in the darkness of night, to the convent of the hermits of St. Augustine. He asks admittance. The gate opens and closes again. Behold him separated forever from his parents, from the companions of his studies, and from the world! It was the 17th August 1505: Luther was then twenty-one-years and nine-months-old.

History of the Reformation: Of the Sixteenth Century: Jean-Henri Merle d'Aubigné (1794-1872)

  Chapter 1

Luther's Descent – His Parents – His Birth – His Poverty – Paternal Home – Severity – First Knowledge – School of Magdeburg – Hardships – Eisenach – The Shunamite – House of Cotta – Arts – Recollections of These Times – His Studies – Trebonius – The University
ALL was ready. God who prepares his work through ages, accomplishes it by the weakest instruments, when His time is come. To effect great results by the smallest means-such is the law of God. This law, which prevails everywhere in nature, is found also in history. God selected the reformers of the Church from the same class whence he had taken the apostles. He chose them from among that lower rank, which, although not the lowest, does not reach the level of the middle classes. Everything was thus intended to manifest to the world that the work was not of man but of God. The reformer Zwingle emerged from an Alpine shepherd's hut; Melancthon, the theologian of the Reformation, from an armorer's shop; and Luther from the cottage of a poor miner.
The first period in man's life- that in which he is formed and molded under the hand of God- is always important. It is eminently so in the career of Luther. The whole of the Reformation is included in it. The different phases of this work succeeded one another in the soul of him who was to be the instrument for effecting it, before they were accomplished in the world. The knowledge of the change that took place in Luther's heart can alone furnish the key to the reformation of the Church. It is only by studying the particulars that we can understand the general work. Those who neglect the former will be ignorant of the latter except in its outward appearance. They may acquire a knowledge of certain events and certain results, but they will never comprehend the intrinsic nature of that revival, because the principle of life, that was its very soul, remains unknown to them. Let us therefore study the Reformation in Luther himself, before we proceed to the events that changed the face of Christendom.
In the village of Mora, near the Thuringian forests, and not far from the spot where Boniface, the apostle of Germany, began to proclaim the Gospel, had dwelt, doubtless for many centuries, an ancient and numerous family of the name of Luther. As was customary with the Thuringian peasants, the eldest son always inherited the dwelling and the paternal fields, while the other children departed elsewhere in quest of a livelihood. One of these, by name John Luther, married Margaret Lindemann, the daughter of an inhabitant of Neustadt in the see of Wurzburg. The married pair quitted the plains of Eisenach, and went to settle in the little town of Eisleben in Saxony, to earn their bread by the sweat of their brows.
Seckendorf relates, on the testimony of Rebhan, superintendent at Eisenach in 1601, that Luther's mother, thinking her time still distant, had gone to the fair of Eisleben, and that contrary to her expectation she there gave birth to a son. Notwithstanding the credit that is due to Seckendorf, this account does not appear to be correct: in fact, none of the oldest of Luther's historians mention it; and besides, it is about twenty-four leagues from Mora to Eisleben, and in the condition of Luther's mother at that time, people do not readily make up their minds to travel such a distance to see a fair; and, lastly, the evidence of Luther himself appears in direct opposition to this assertion.
John Luther was an upright man, diligent in business, frank, and carrying the firmness of his character even to obstinacy. With a more cultivated mind than that of most men of his class, he used to read much. Books were then rare; but John omitted no opportunity of procuring them. They formed his relaxation in the intervals of repose, snatched from his severe and constant labors. Margaret possessed all the virtues that can adorn a good and pious woman. Her modesty, her fear of God, and her prayerful spirit, were particularly remarked. She was looked upon by the matrons of the neighborhood as a model whom they should strive to imitate.
It is not precisely known how long the married pair had been living at Eisleben, when, on the 10th of November, one hour before midnight, Margaret gave birth to a son. Melancthon often questioned his friend's mother as to the period of his birth. "I well remember the day and the hour," replied she, "but I am not certain about the year." But Luther's brother James, an honest and upright man, has recorded, that in the opinion of the whole family the future reformer was born on St. Martin's eve, 10th November, 1483. And Luther himself wrote on a Hebrew Psalter which is still in existence: "I was born in the year 1483." The first thought of his pious parents was to dedicate to God, according to the faith they professed, the child that he had given them. On the morrow, which happened to be Tuesday, the father carried his son to St. Peter's church, where he received the rite of Infant Baptism and was called Martin in commemoration of the day.
The child was not six-months-old, when his parents quitted Eisleben to repair to Mansfeldt, which is only five leagues distant. The mines of that neighborhood were then very celebrated. John Luther, who was a hard-working man, feeling that perhaps he would be called upon to bring up a numerous family, hoped to gain a better livelihood for himself and his children in that town. It was here that the understanding and strength of young Luther received their first development; here his activity began to display itself, and here his character was declared in his words and in his actions. The plains of Mansfeldt, the banks of the Wipper, were the theater of his first sports with the children of the neighborhood.
The first period of their abode at Mansfeldt was full of difficulty to the worthy John and his wife. At first they lived in great poverty. "My parents," said the Reformer, "were very poor. My father was a poor wood-cutter, and my mother has often carried wood upon her back, that she might procure the means of bringing up her children. They endured the severest labor for our sakes." The example of the parents whom he revered, the habits they inspired in him, early accustomed Luther to labor and frugality. How many times, doubtless, he accompanied his mother to the wood, there to gather up his little fagot!
There are promises of blessing on the labor of the righteous, and John Luther experienced their realization. Having attained somewhat easier circumstances, he established two smelting furnaces at Mansfeldt. Beside these furnaces little Martin grew in strength, and with the produce of this labor his father afterward provided for his studies. "It was from a miner's family," says the good Mathesius, "that the spiritual founder of Christendom was to go forth: an image of what God would do in purifying the sons of Levi through him, and refining them like gold in his furnaces." Respected by all for his integrity, for his spotless life, and good sense, John Luther was made councilor of Mansfeldt, capital of the earldom of that name. Excessive misery might have crushed the child's spirit: the competence of his paternal home expanded his heart and elevated his character.
John took advantage of his new position to court the society which he preferred. He had a great esteem for learned men, and often invited to his table the clergy and schoolmasters of the place. His house offered a picture of those social meeting of his fellow-citizens, which did honor to Germany at the commencement of the sixteenth century. It was a mirror in which were reflected the numerous images that followed one another in the agitated scene of the times. The child profited by them. No doubt the sight of these men, to whom so much respect was shown in his father's house, excited more than once in little Martin's heart the ambitious desire of becoming himself one day a schoolmaster or a learned man.
As soon as he was old enough to receive instructions, his parents endeavored to impart to him the knowledge of God, to train him up in His fear, and to mold him to Christian virtues. They exerted all their care in this earliest domestic education. The father would often kneel at the child's bedside, and fervently pray aloud, begging the Lord that his son might remember His name and one day contribute to the propagation of the truth. The parent's prayer was most graciously listened to. And yet his tender solicitude was not confined to this.
His father, anxious to see him acquire the elements of that learning for which he himself had so much esteem, invoked God's blessing upon him, and sent him to school. Martin was still very young. His father, or Nicholas Emler, a young man of Mansfeldt, often carried him in their arms to the house of George Emilius, and afterward returned to fetch him home. Emler in after-years married one of Luther's sisters.
His parents' piety, their activity and austere virtue, gave the boy a happy impulse, and formed in him an attentive and serious disposition. The system of education which then prevailed made use of chastisement and fear as the principal incentives to study. Margaret, although sometimes approving to too great severity of her husband, frequently opened her maternal arms to her son to console him in his tears. Yet even she herself overstepped the limits of that wise precept: He that loveth his son, chasteneth him betimes. Martin's impetuous character gave frequent occasion for punishment and reprimand. "My parents," said Luther in after-life, "treated me harshly, so that I became very timid. My mother one day chastised me so severely about a nut, that the blood came. They seriously thought that they were doing right; but they could not distinguish character, which however is very necessary in order to know when, or where, or how chastisement should be inflicted. It is necessary to punish; but the apple should be placed beside the rod.”
At school the poor child met with treatment no less severe. His master flogged him fifteen times successively on one morning. "We must," said Luther, when relating this circumstance, "we must whip children, but we must at the same time love them." With such an education Luther learned early to despise the charms of a merely sensual life. "What is to become great, should begin small," justly observes one of his oldest biographers; "and if children are brought up too delicately and with too much kindness from their youth, they are injured for life.”
Martin learned something at school. He was taught the heads of his Catechism, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, some hymns, some forms of prayer, and a Latin grammar written in the fourth century by Donatus who was St. Jerome's master, and which, improved in the eleventh century by one Remigius, a French monk, was long held in great repute in every school. He further studied the calendar of Cisio Janus, a very singular work, composed in the tenth or eleventh century: in fine, he learned all that could be taught in the Latin school of Mansfeldt.
But the child's thoughts do not appear to have been there directed to God. The only religious sentiment that could then be discovered in him was fear. Every time he heard Jesus Christ spoken of, he turned pale with affright; for the Savior had only been represented to him as an offended judge. This servile fear-so alien to true religion-may perhaps have prepared him for the glad tidings of the Gospel, and for that joy which he afterward felt, when he learned to know Him who is meek and lowly in heart.
John Luther wished to make his son a scholar. The day that was everywhere beginning to dawn, had penetrated even into the house of the Mansfeldt miner, and there awakened ambitious thoughts. The remarkable disposition, the persevering application of his son, made John conceive the liveliest expectations. Accordingly, in 1497, when Martin had attained the age of fourteen years, his father resolved to part with him, and send him to the Franciscan school at Magdeburg. His mother was forced to consent, and Martin prepared to quit the paternal roof.
Magdeburg was like a new world to Martin. In the midst of numerous privations, for he scarcely had enough to live upon, he inquired-he listened. Andrew Proles, provincial of the Augustine order, was at that time warmly advocating the necessity of reforming religion and the Church. It was not he, however, who deposited in the young man's heart the first germ of the ideas that were afterward developed there.
This was a rude apprenticeship for Luther. Thrown upon the world at the age of fourteen, without friends or protectors, he trembled in the presence of his masters, and in the hours of recreation he painfully begged his bread in company with children poorer than himself. "I used to beg with my companions for a little food," said he, "that we might have the means of providing for our wants. One day, at the time the Church celebrates the festival of Christ's nativity, we were wandering together through the neighboring villages, going from house to house, and singing in four parts the usual carols on the infant Jesus, born at Bethlehem. We stopped before a peasant's house that stood by itself at the extremity of the village. The farmer, hearing us sing our Christmas hymns, came out with some victuals which he intended to give us, and called out in a high voice and with a harsh tone, Boys, where are you? Frightened at these words, we ran off as fast as our legs would carry us. We had no reason to be alarmed, for the farmer offered us assistance with great kindness; but our hearts, no doubt, were rendered timorous by the menaces and tyranny with which the teachers were then accustomed to rule over their pupils, so that a sudden panic had seized us. At last, however, as the farmer continued calling after us, we stopped, forgot our fears, ran back to him, and received from his hands the food intended for us. It is thus," adds Luther, "that we are accustomed to tremble and flee, when our conscience is guilty and alarmed. In such a case we are afraid even of the assistance that is offered us, and of those who are our friends, and who would willingly do us every good.”
A year had scarcely passed away, when John and Margaret, hearing what difficulty their son found in supporting himself at Magdeburg, sent him to Eisenach, where there was a celebrated school, and in which town they had many relatives. They had other children; and although their means had increased, they could not maintain their son in a place where he was unknown. The furnaces and the industry of John Luther did little more than provide for the support of his family. He hoped that when Martin arrived at Eisenach, he would more easily find the means of subsistence; but he was not more fortunate in this town. His relations who dwelt there took no care about him, or perhaps, being very poor themselves, they could not give him any assistance.
When the young scholar was pinched by hunger, he was compelled, as at Magdeburg, to join with his schoolfellows in singing from door to door to obtain a morsel of bread. This custom of Luther's days is still preserved in many German cities: sometimes the voices of the youths form an harmonious concert. Often, instead of food, the poor and modest Martin received nothing but harsh words. Then, overwhelmed with sorrow, he shed many tears in secret, and thought with anxiety of the future.
One day, in particular, he had already been repulsed from three houses, and was preparing to return fasting to his lodgings, when, having reached the square of St. George, he stopped motionless, plunged in melancholy reflections, before the house of a worthy citizen. Must he for want of bread renounce his studies, and return to labor with his father in the mines of Mansfeldt?... Suddenly a door opens-a woman appears on the threshold: it is Ursula, the wife of Conrad Cotta, and daughter of the burgomaster of Ilefeld. The Eisenach chronicles style her "the pious Shunamite," in remembrance of her who so earnestly constrained the prophet Elisha to stay and eat bread with her. The Christian Shunamite had already more than once remarked the youthful Martin in the assemblies of the faithful; she had been affected by the sweetness of his voice and by his devotion. She had heard the harsh words that had been addressed to the poor scholar, and seeing him stand thus sadly before her door, she came to his aid, beckoned him to enter, and gave him food to appease his hunger.
Conrad approved of his wife's benevolence: he even found so much pleasure in the boy's society, that a few days after he took him to live entirely with him. Henceforward his studies were secured. He is not obliged to return to the mines of Mansfeldt, and bury the talents that God has intrusted to him. At a time when he knew not what would become of him, God opened the heart and the house of a Christian family. This event disposed his soul to that confidence in God which the severest trials could not afterward shake.
Luther passed in Cotta's house a very different kind of life from that which he had hitherto known. His existence glided away calmly, exempt from want and care: his mind became more serene, his character more cheerful, and his heart more open. All his faculties awoke at the mild rays of charity, and he began to exult with life, joy, and happiness. His prayers were more fervent, his thirst for knowledge greater, and his progress in study more rapid.
To literature and science he added the charms of the fine arts; for they also were advancing in Germany. The men, whom God destines to act upon their contemporaries, are themselves at first influenced and carried away by all the tendencies of the age in which they live. Luther learned to play on the flute and on the lute. With this latter instrument he used often to accompany his fine alto voice, and thus cheered his heart in the hours of sadness. He took delight in testifying by his melody his lively gratitude towards his adoptive mother, who was passionately fond of music. He himself loved the art even to old age, and composed the words and airs of some of the finest hymns that Germany possesses. Many have even passed into our language.
These were happy times for young Luther: he could never think of them without emotion. One of Conrad's sons coming many years after to study at Wittemberg, when the poor scholar of Eisenach had become the first doctor of the age, was received with joy at his table and under his roof. He wished to make some return to the son for the kindness he had received from the parents. It was in remembrance of this Christian woman who had fed him when all the world repulsed him, that he gave utterance to this beautiful thought: "There is nothing sweeter on earth than the heart of a woman in which piety dwells.”
Luther was never ashamed of these days in which, oppressed by hunger, he used in sadness to beg the bread necessary for his studies and his livelihood. Far from that, he used to reflect with gratitude on the extreme poverty of his youth. He looked upon it as one of the means that God had employed to make him what he afterward became, and he accordingly thanked him for it. The poor children who were obliged to follow the same kind of life, touched his heart. "Do not despise," said he, "the boys who go singing through the streets, begging a little bread for the love of God (panem propter Deum): I also have done the same. It is true that somewhat later my father supported me with much love and kindness at the University of Erfurth, maintaining me by the sweat of his brow; yet I have been a poor beggar. And now, by means of my pen, I have risen so high, that I would not change lots with the Grand Turk himself. Nay more, should all the riches of the earth be heaped one upon another, I would not take them in exchange for what I possess. And yet I should not be where I am, if I had not gone to school if I had not learned to write." Thus did this great man see in these his first humble beginnings the origin of all his glory. He feared not to recall to mind that the voice whose accents thrilled the empire and the world, once used to beg for a morsel of bread in the streets of a small town. The Christian finds a pleasure in such recollections, because they remind him that it is in God alone he should glory.
The strength of his understanding, the liveliness of his imagination, the excellence of his memory, soon carried him beyond all his schoolfellows. He made rapid progress especially in Latin, in eloquence, and in poetry. He wrote speeches and composed verses. As he was cheerful, obliging, and had what is called "a good heart," he was beloved by his masters and by his schoolfellows.
Among the professors he attaches himself particularly to John Trebonius, a learned man, of an agreeable address, and who had all that regard for youth which is so well calculated to encourage them. Martin had noticed that whenever Trebonius entered the schoolroom, he raised his cap to salute the pupils. A great condescension in those pedantic times! This had delighted the young man. He saw that he was something. The respect of the master had elevated the scholar in his own estimation. The colleagues of Trebonius, who did not adopt the same custom, having one day expressed their astonishment at his extreme condescension, he replied (and his answer did not the less strike the youthful Luther): "There are among these boys men of whom God will one day make burgomasters, chancellors, doctors, and magistrates. Although you do not yet see them with the badges of their dignity, it is right that you should treat them with respect." Doubtless the young scholar listened with pleasure to these words, and perhaps imagined himself already with the doctor's cap upon his head!