Luther And His Work -- By: Judson Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 041:161 (Jan 1884)
Article: Luther And His Work
Author: Judson Smith

Luther And His Work

Rev. Judson Smith

The greatest movement of modern times is the Reformation of the sixteenth century, which began in Germany, and spread at length to every nation in Europe. The originator of the revolution in Germany, and its principal figure for more than a quarter of a century, was Martin Luther. No one can worthily describe the Reformation without assigning the first and most significant place to Luther and his work. And no man can speak intelligibly of Luther who does not dwell on this grand religious revolution. In its initial stages and primitive forms Luther is the Reformation embodied and in elemental ferment. And on the other hand, the Reformation is Luther’s deeply scored mark upon the fortunes of Europe and the human race. So indissolubly are they connected in reality and in the thoughts of men.

The general movement throughout Protestant Christendom to mark with special recognition and suitable honors the fourth centennial of the birth of such a man is most deserved and appropriate. And it is as fit for us, in this new world all unknown at his birth, as for his own countrymen and descendants. The work which he began was hemmed in by no national boundaries, by no mountain ranges, by no ocean shores; its benefits were confined to no limits of time, to no single people or tongue. We who dwell in these latter days, whether in Europe or America, we all breathe an atmosphere which was cleared by that convulsion, and which is vital still with the original forces of that age; and Luther’s was the spirit that raised the storm, his the thunder that pealed, his the lightnings that leaped and flashed. The

German people cannot justly claim Luther as all their own. They wrong his memory and limit his fame when they extol him simply as a great patriot,— to the German nation what Washington is to America. It was for Christendom that he spoke and toiled; and it is the whole Protestant world that has reaped the fruits of his labor, and that speaks his praise. The principal features of our modern life, those that have most worth, that hold within them most of hope and promise, can be traced directly to the Reformation, and to those parts of it in which Luther broke the way.

In the complex results of that revolution we find the work and trace the influence of many men, and they men of noble stature and of splendid gifts. But we cast no dispraise on any other one among all the heroic figures that fill that age, when we sing first and foremost the name and deeds of Martin Luther. He moved first and alone, at the sole call of conscience and of God, where many others pressed quickly after, and grandly took up the cause. His voice broke the silence, while as yet not another sou...

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