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the "Christmas-Tree" has been trimmed and laden with toyful fancies-the bow with which Melancthon so often occupied a leisure hour in amusing little Martin-that picture of sweet innocence, little Magdelena, who looks as if she felt a presentiment of soon becoming an angel herself-surely the artist has here given us the picture of "a happy family," which may well interest us in recalling a few incidents in the domestic life of the Reformer which so aptly illustrate our subject.
Luther's attachment to the institution of Marriage and the Family appears to have matured almost to a feeling of veneration. He says, "There is not a more lovely, endeared, blessed relation, communion and society than a happy marriage, in which husband and wife live in peace and union with each other. Neither is there, on the other hand, anything more distressing or painful, than when the bond is severed by a separation or final parting. Next to which is the death of children, when they die, which I have tasted and experienced." Again: "When marriage is peaceful and agreeable, it is-next to a knowledge of God and his Word-the highest favor and blessing of God. For many married people are very obstinate and whimsical, neither concerning themselves about their children, nor cordially loving each other. Such people are not human beings." Again: "The highest favor and blessing of God is a pious, endearing, God-fearing and thrifty wife, with whom you can live in peace, to whom you can confide all your property, and what you possess, yea, your body and life, with whom you bring up children. But God plunges many into the married state, without consulting them, before they rightly consider the matter, and it is well he does so. Kate, you have a pious husband, who loves you; therefore, you, as other pious wives, are an empressacknowledge it and thank God. But it requires a person that is pious and God-fearing for such a station." Again: "Next to God's Word, the world has not a more lovely and endearing treasure on earth than the holy state of matrimony, which He himself has instituted, preserving it, having adorned and blessed it above all stations, from which not only all emperors, kings and all saints, but even the eternal Son of God, though in a supernatural way, are born. Whoever, therefore, hates the married state, and speaks evil of it, certainly is of the devil." "I live, continue and die, praising the holy state of matrimony."
On this account, he so ardently longed for his family when he lay so dangerously ill at Schmalkalden. "I thought," said he, afterwards, "I would not see my wife and children here again: how greatly did such separation pain me! I believe, indeed, that the natural inclination and love which a husband has for his wife,
We quote from MEURER'S LIFE OF LUTHER, for which we are indebted to John Baer & Sons, Booksellers, Lancaster.
and parents for their children, are most intense in persons that are dying. But as I have now, by the grace of God, again been restored to health, I love my wife and children so much the more. No one is so spiritual that he does not feel such natural inclination and love. For it is a mysterious thing, this union and communion between man and wife.'
Luther's second child, his little daughter Elizabeth, born to him in the year 1527, had again been taken away by death on the 3d of August, 1528. "I am surprised," he wrote in reference to this, to his friend Haussmann, whom he thanks for some toys, which the latter had sent to his little John, "at the frail, almost effeminate heart which she has left me, so greatly am I distressed on her account. I would scarcely ever have thought that a father's heart could become so tender towards his children."
In return for this affliction, God subsequently presented Luther with another daughter, Magdalena, and two sons, Martin and Paul, and finally a third daughter, Margaret. Being poor himself, he might well have been concerned for his wife and children; but he considered such concern vain, and committed them to Him who had to this day richly granted everything. On one occasion, he blessed one of his childen, which an aunt carried upon her arm, and said: "Go, and be pious; money I shall not leave to thee, but a rich God I will leave to thee, who will not forsake thee. Be pious; which may God grant thee to be. Amen." The children themselves he considered the greatest blessing of God.
Dr. Jonas having once suspended a beautiful branch with cherries over the table, in remembrance of the creation, and praising the noble blessings of God in such fruits, Dr. Martin Luther said: "Why do you not much rather consider this in your children, as the fruits of your own body, which are more excellent, beautiful and noble creatures of God than any fruits of trees? In them you have displayed the omnipotence, wisdom and skill of God, who created them of nothing, in one year giving them body, life, and all their members, of such admirable perfection and beauty, and now also nourishes and preserves them. We, nevertheless, live on without greatly regarding such gifts of God, yea, perhaps, even become blind and avaricious because of them. As is commonly the case, that people, when they are blessed with children, become worse and more avaricious, scraping, flaying and shaving wherever they can, that they may lay up treasures for them, not knowing that a child, even before it enters the world and is born, has its portion, what and how much it is to have, and what it is to become, assigned to it, as the Scriptures testify, and as the common proverb says: "The more children the more blessing.' O, dear Lord God, how great, alas, is the blindness, folly and even wickedness in a man that does not consider this, but does the opposite with regard to the best and noblest gifts of God, which he
perverts to all manner of sinful and shameful uses, in accordance with his pleasure and lusts, never singing a Deo Gratias to our Lord God for them!" Once he beheld his children and said: "O, what a great, rich and noble blessing God confers upon the married state! What joy does not a man experience in his descendants, who are numbered from him, even after his death, when he lies and decays! Is that not the most delightful and the greatest joy?" Again: "Children are the most lovely fruits and bonds of marriage, which confirm and preserve the bond of love." He, however, also knew that the married state had its burthens and the holy cross (through the children.) On New-Year's day, his child once wept and cried so that no person could quiet it; then he and his wife were sad and distressed for a whole hour. Afterwards he said: "That is the disgust and the burthen in the married state, on account of which every one shuns and dreads it and hesitates to marry. We all dread the whimsical notions of the female sex, the bawling and crying of the children, great expenses, bad neighbors, &c. Therefore we wish to be free and unfettered, that we may remain free lords, and do what we chose."
The occupations and the manners of the children afforded Luther great joy. "The faith and life of children," said he, “are the best, for they have nothing but the Word. To this they cleave, in simplicity, giving God the honor, that He is true, being assured that He will do what he promises. But we, old fools, are subject to wretched, infernal doubt, which causes us first long to dispute about the Word, which they, the children, simply receive in a pure faith, without disputing. And, finally, if we wish to be saved, we must, in accordance with their example, base ourselves wholly upon the Word; as Christ says and avers with a solemn oath: "Verily, I say unto you, except you be converted and become like little children, you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven," &c. Mat. 18. It is one of the devil's artifices and tricks, that we suffer ourselves thus shamefully to be diverted from the Word through other business and matters, imagining that these are more important than God's Word (upon which, after all, our welfare and salvation, temporal and eternal, are wholly based.) Sometimes, too, we do so, ignorantly, not remembering that the matter is so important. Truly, we are unhappy people. Therefore, the best thing is, soon to die, and to be buried." On another occasion, Luther, took his little son, and said to him: "Thou art our Lord God's little fool, under his favor and forgiveness of sin; not under the law, thou dost not fear, art secure, and dost not trouble thyself about anything. What thou doest is well done."
On another occasion, he observed the simplicity of his children, and praised their innocence, saying that they were much further advanced in the faith than we old fools. For that they in all simplicity, without disputing or doubting, believed that God was gra
cious, and that there was an eternal life after this life. How happy are children that die at such an age, although such an event would grieve me most greatly, for it would be a part of my body and a part of the body of their mother, that would die, and this natural love and inclination do not cease in pious and upright Christians; that they should not be affected or grieved or take it to heart, as is the case with obstinate, obdurate heads and dolts, when their children or relatives, whom they love, are afflicted. For such emotions and inclinations are works of divine creation, which God has implanted in the nature of man, and which are not in themselves sinful. Children live in admirable simplicity and purity of faith, not troubling themselves with the objections of reason, as Ambrosius says: reason is in fault, not faith. From Coburg he wrote the following letter to his little son John: "Grace and peace in Christ, my dear little boy; I am glad that you learn so well, and pray so diligently. Always continue to do so, my dear boy: when I return home, I will bring you a handsome present. I know a beautiful, delightful garden, in which there are a great many children, who wear golden coats, and go about under the trees, picking up beautiful apples, pears, cherries, and plums, singing, leaping about, and rejoicing; they likewise have handsome little horses, with golden bridles and silver saddles. And I asked the man to whom the garden belongs whose children those were? And he said they were the children that prayed and learned well, and were pious. Then I said: Good man, I also have a little son, whose name is Johnny Luther, might not he also come into your garden, and eat such beautiful apples and pears and ride upon such fine little horses and play with these children? Then the man said: If he prays and learns well, and is pious, he also shall come into the garden, Lippus and Jocelin too, and when they all come together, they also shall have fifes, tymbals, and lutes, making all manner of music, on stringed instruments, and shall dance too, and shoot with little cross-bows. And he showed there a pleasant meadow in the garden, prepared for dancing, and it was hanging full of golden fifes, tymbals, and beautiful silver cross-bows. But it was early, and the children had not yet taken their meal; therefore I could not stay for the dance, and said to the man: My good sir, I will go straightway and write all this to my dear little boy, Johnny, so that he may pray diligently and learn well and be pious, that he too may come into this garden; but he has an aunt, whose name is Lehne, her also he must bring with him. And the man said: yes, it shall be so, go and write all this to him. Therefore, my dear little boy, pray and learn diligently, and tell Lippus and Jocelin too, that they also learn and pray; then you will all come into the garden together. With this I commend you to Almighty God; greet aunt Lehne, and give her a kiss in my name. In the year 1530. Your dear
father, Martin Luther."
In the most trifling amusements of his children, as well as in the grandeur and sublimity of nature and the providence of God, Luther was accustomed to read useful lessons. On one occasion he was playing with his little daughter, Magdalena, and asked her: "Magdalena, what will Christ bring you?" Then he said: "Little children have such admirable thoughts of God, that he is their God and dear father in heaven." Then his wife brought to him his little son, Martin. Whereupon he said: "I wish that I had died at the age of this child, I would gladly for the sake of it give all the honor which I have obtained or might yet obtain in the world." "Alas, how much murmuring and pollution does our Lord God bear within us, more than a mother from her child!" On another occasion, observing his little son Martin, as he was playing wi a little dog which he had, he said: "This boy preaches God's Word by his actions, where God says: Have dominion over the fish of the sea and the beast of the earth; for the dog endures everything from the child." Once again he beheld his children, and observing how different their natures and dispositions were, he marvelled at the work and creation of God, and said: Just as the dispositions are different, so the gifts also are different, and one man fares well, another evil; the one experiences more happiness or misfortune than the other. Therefore we are to have regard only to God, the creator and originator, to trust in him, and to call upon him.
Luther nevertheless was very strict towards his children. Once he for three days refused to see his son, or again to take him into favor, unless he would first humble himself and ask forgiveness. And when his mother, Dr. Jonas and Dr. Teutleben interceded for him, he said: "I would rather have a dead than a disobedient son. St. Paul did not in vain say, that a bishop should be a man who ruled his own house well, and had obedient children, that other people might be edified through them, take good example from them, and be not offended. But our disobedient children cause others to take offence, and the boys commit wrong, presuming upon our privileges. Yea, and though they sin often, and are guilty of all manner of knavery, I still do not find it out, I am not informed of it, and it is concealed from me. Thus we fare according to the common proverb: The wrong that is done in our own houses, we hear last. Therefore he must be chastised, and not at all indulged or suffered to go unpunished."
While he was distinguished by the most tender affection for his wife and children, and friends, Luther has left a good example to his admirers in his manner of treating his servants. He highly esteemed faithful servants, and admonished them frequently not to occasion scandal in the house-"for," said he, "the devil watches me closely, being intent upon disparaging my doctrine, or casting some reproach upon me." When one who had served his family