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He had a rich font of mother wit and quaint humor. His moral conduct was unblemished; and the mouth of slander did not dare to blacken his reputation till after the theological passions were roused by the Reformation. He went regularly to mass and observed the daily devotions of a sincere Catholic. He chose for his motto: to pray well is half the study. He was a devout worshipper of the Virgin Mary. In his twentieth year he first saw a complete Latin Bible in the University Library, and was surprised and rejoiced to find that it contained so much more than was ever read or explained in the churches.
But he did not begin a systematic study of the Bible till he entered the convent; nor did he find in it the God of love and mercy, but rather the God of righteousness and wrath. He was much concerned about his personal salvation and given to gloomy reflections over his sinful condition.
Once he fell dangerously ill, and was seized with a fit of despair, but an old priest comforted him, saying: "My dear Baccalaureus, be of good cheer; you will not die in this sickness: God will yet make a great man out of you for the comfort of many. In he was graduated as Bachelor of Arts, in as Master of Arts.
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This degree, which corresponds to the modern Doctor of Philosophy in Germany, was bestowed with great solemnity. I consider that no temporal or worldly joy can equal it. But he inclined to theology, when a remarkable providential occurrence opened a new path for his life. In the summer of Luther entered the Augustinian convent at Erfurt and became a monk, as he thought, for his life time. The circumstances which led to this sudden step we gather from his fragmentary utterances which have been embellished by legendary tradition. Shortly afterward, on the second of July, , two weeks before his momentous decision, he was overtaken by a violent thunderstorm near Erfurt, on his return from a visit to his parents, and was so frightened that he fell to the earth and tremblingly exclaimed: "Help, beloved Saint Anna!
I will become a monk. Paul at the gates of Damascus. On the sixteenth of July he assembled his friends who in vain tried to change his resolution, indulged once more in social song, and bade them farewell. On the next day they accompanied him, with tears, to the gates of the convent.au.dusigamumezo.tk
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The only books he took with him were the Latin poets Vergil and Plautus. His father almost went mad, when he heard the news. It was simply a transition from secular to religious life—such as St. Bernard and thousands of Catholic monks before and since passed through. He was never an infidel, nor a wicked man, but a pious Catholic from early youth; but he now became overwhelmed with a sense of the vanity of this world and the absorbing importance of saving his soul, which, according to the prevailing notion of his age, he could best secure in the quiet retreat of a cloister.
He afterward underwent as it were a second conversion, from the monastic and legalistic piety of mediaeval Catholicism to the free evangelical piety of Protestantism, when he awoke to an experimental knowledge of justification by free grace through faith alone. The Augustinian convent at Erfurt became the cradle of the Lutheran Reformation. All honor to monasticism: it was, like the law of Israel, a wholesome school of discipline and a preparation for gospel freedom.
Erasmus spent five years reluctantly in a convent, and after his release ridiculed monkery with the weapons of irony and sarcasm; Luther was a monk from choice and conviction, and therefore all the better qualified to refute it afterward from deep experience. He followed in the steps of St. Paul, who from a Pharisee of the Pharisees became the strongest opponent of Jewish legalism. If there ever was a sincere, earnest, conscientious monk, it was Martin Luther.
His sole motive was concern for his salvation. To this supreme object he sacrificed the fairest prospects of life. He was dead to the world and was willing to be buried out of the sight of men that he might win eternal life. His latter opponents who knew him in convent, have no charge to bring against his moral character except a certain pride and combativeness, and he himself complained of his temptations to anger and envy.
It was not without significance that the order which he joined, bore the honored name of the greatest Latin father who, next to St. Augustin, after his conversion, spent several weeks with some friends in quiet seclusion on a country-seat near Tagaste, and after his election to the priesthood, at Hippo in , he established in a garden a sort of convent where with like-minded brethren and students he led an ascetic life of prayer, meditation and earnest, study of the Scriptures, yet engaged at the same time in all the public duties of a preacher, pastor and leader in the theological controversies and ecclesiastical affairs of his age.
His example served as an inspiration and furnished a sort of authority to several monastic associations which arose in the thirteenth century.
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Pope Alexander IV. They belonged to the mendicant monks, like the Dominicans, Franciscans and Carmelites. They laid great stress on preaching. In other respects they differed little from other monastic orders. In the beginning of the sixteenth century they numbered more than a hundred settlements in Germany.
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The monks were respected for their zeal in preaching, pastoral care, and theological study. They lived on alms, which they collected themselves in the town and surrounding country. Applicants were received as novices for a year of probation, during which they could reconsider their resolution; afterward they were bound by perpetual vows of celibacy, poverty and obedience to their superiors. Luther was welcomed by his brethren with hymns of joy and prayer. He was clothed with a white woollen shirt, in honor of the pure Virgin, a black cowl and frock, tied by a leathern girdle.
He assumed the most menial offices to subdue his pride: he swept the floor, begged bread through the streets, and submitted without a murmur to the ascetic severities. He said twenty-five Paternosters with the Ave Maria in each of the seven appointed hours of prayer. He was devoted to the Holy Virgin and even believed, with the Augustinians and Franciscans, in her immaculate conception, or freedom from hereditary sin—a doctrine denied by the Dominicans and not made an article of faith till the year He regularly confessed his sins to the priest at least once a week.
At the same time a complete copy of the Latin Bible was put into his hands for study, as was enjoined by the new code of statutes drawn up by Staupitz. At the end of the year of probation Luther solemnly promised to live until death in poverty and chastity according to the rules of the holy father Augustin, to render obedience to Almighty God, to the Virgin Mary, and to the prior of the monastery.
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He was sprinkled with holy water, as he lay prostrate on the ground in the form of a cross. He was greeted as an innocent child fresh from baptism, and assigned to a separate cell with table, bedstead, and chair. The two years which followed, he divided between pious exercises and theological studies. He read diligently the Scriptures, and the later schoolmen,—especially Gabriel Biel, whom he knew by heart, and William Occam, whom he esteemed on account of his subtle acuteness even above St.
Thomas and Duns Scotus, without being affected by his sceptical tendency. He acknowledged the authority of Aristotle, whom he afterward denounced and disowned as "a damned heathen. His heart was not satisfied with brain work. His chief concern was to become a saint and to earn a place in heaven. No one surpassed him in prayer, fasting, night watches, self-mortification. He was already held up as a model of sanctity. But he was sadly disappointed in his hope to escape sin and temptation behind the walls of the cloister.
He found no peace and rest in all his pious exercises. The more he seemed to advance externally, the more he felt the burden of sin within. He had to contend with temptations of anger, envy, hatred and pride. He saw sin everywhere, even in the smallest trifles. The Scriptures impressed upon him the terrors of divine justice.
He could not trust in God as a reconciled Father, as a God of love and mercy but trembled before him, as a God of wrath, as a consuming fire. He could not get over the words: "I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God. He could not point to any particular transgression; it was sin as an all-pervading power and vitiating principle, sin as a corruption of nature, sin as a state of alienation from God and hostility to God, that weighed on his mind like an incubus and brought him at times to the brink of despair.
He passed through that conflict between the law of God and the law of sin which is described by Paul Rom. There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. Potsdam, , vol. His " Nachfolge Christi " was first published in ; his book " Von der Liebe Gottes " especially esteemed by Luther in , and passed through several editions; republ. Gotha, , p. Staupitio ejusque in sacr.
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Ritschl : Die Lehre v. Mallet : in Herzog , 2 XIV. Paul Zeller : Staupitz. Seine relig. Anschauungen und dogmengesch. Stellung , in the "Theol. Maurenbrecher, Leipzig, , p. Keller connects Staupitz with the Waldenses and Anabaptists, but without proof. Kolde : Joh.