The Religious Experience Of Luther In The Cloister Of Erfurt -- By: B. Sears

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 005:19 (Aug 1848)
Article: The Religious Experience Of Luther In The Cloister Of Erfurt
Author: B. Sears


The Religious Experience Of Luther In The
Cloister Of Erfurt

B. Sears

The origin of the Reformation, as a religious movement and as connected with the efforts of Luther, is to be traced to what he himself experienced in the convent at Erfurt. There he first made thorough trial of that outward and legal system of religion which had nearly banished the gospel of Christ from the church. There he groped his way through the mazes of papal error, and found the path that led to Christ as the simple object of his faith and love. He went through all the process of overcoming the elements of a ceremonial and of appropriating those of an evangelical religion by the force of his individual character, and by the power of the word and the Spirit of God. He found himself standing almost solitary on the ground of justification by faith alone, and private judgment in interpreting the Scriptures. From the time of his going to Wittenberg to the year 1517, he was chiefly employed in working out these two ideas, reconciling his experience with well established truths, and trying upon the minds of others, namely, of his pupils and some of the younger professors, the same experiment which he had unconsciously made upon himself. When he came to feel the full strength of his foundation, and, with the Bible and the sober use of reason as his weapons, prostrated the scholastic theology, and professor and student confessed their power,

his conscience impelled him to seize upon the first and upon every public opportunity to propagate these principles that others might share with him so unspeakable a blessing.

The study of Luther’s religious experience has a two-fold interest, first, in itself as one of the most striking on record, and then as a key to the religious character of the Reformation. Until recently the subject has been wrapt in such obscurity and confusion that it’ has appeared more as a romance than a reality. To Karl Jürgens1 belongs the honor of having first collected and arranged all the known facts of the case in such a way, as to furnish a pretty clear history of what was before both imperfect and chaotic. Availing ourselves for the most part, of the results of his recent investigations, we shall venture to attempt an outline of Luther’s religious history from the time that he entered the monastery to that of his removal to Wittenberg, when the stupendous moral change in him had become complete.

The Bible

We learn from Mathesius, what we might, indeed, infer from his subsequent character, that Luther was a young man of buoyant and cheerful feelings; and, at the same time, that he began every day with prayer, and went daily ...

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