Life Of Philip Melanchthon. -- By: B. B. Edwards

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:10 (May 1846)
Article: Life Of Philip Melanchthon.
Author: B. B. Edwards


Life Of Philip Melanchthon.

B. B. Edwards

Professor at Andover.

Introductory Observations.

It was the remark of a zealous adherent of Luther, Professor Mayer of Greifswalde, that for the Reformation of the Church, three Luthers would be worth more than three hundred Melanchthons. This observation of the eager partizan contains some truth and some error. That Luther merits the first place as a reformer, there can be no doubt. That he could perform the work assigned him far better without Melanchthon, than Melanchthon could undertake it without Luther, is alike unquestionable. To expect to demolish the errors and abuses of the Romish hierarchy with a cautious and lenient hand, would be a mere delusion. An earlier period had shown, that even men of an intrepid character, with their writings filled with admonitory voices, could pass by and leave few traces behind. A man of dauntless courage, who could wield the club of Hercules, was needed,—one who would stand firmer and more erect, in proportion to the number and fierceness of the assaults which should be made upon him. Such an heroic spirit was Luther, and distant ages will not forget that it was he who broke the fetters of superstition, and led Christendom once more into the light of civil and religious freedom.

But it must not be forgotten, that Luther was one of those excitable spirits, who are inclined, in the violence of passion, to break over all restraint. It was a wise arrangement of Divine Providence that Melanchthon should appear, a spirit of gentler mould, who could, with a wise hand and at the right moment, calm and direct the vehement feelings of his great leader. Luther’s excessive zeal was tempered by Melanchthon’s mildness, while Melanchthon’s yielding nature was quickened and invigorated by the courageous bearing of his friend. Luther alone, or two leaders like Luther, might have rushed into perilous extremes, and occasioned the ruin of the edifice which they were at so much pains to erect. A striking example of Melanchthon’s

happy influence over Luther is mentioned by the former. “Luther, on one occasion, seemed to be angry beyond measure. A deep silence reigned around among all. At length I addressed him with the line,

‘Vince animos iramque tuam, qui caetera vincis.’

Luther, laughing, replied: ‘We will dispute no further about it.’”

Another ground of the necessity of Melanchthon’s influence in the Reformation, consists in his extraordinary ability to present related truths in their due order and logical method. Luther, in his unceasing contests, had little leisure to investigate fundamentally and develop fully the truths w...

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