Friday, October 14, 2011

A Brief History of Martin Luther, Part 2

Luther Enters The University:

When he was 18, in 1501, he entered the University of Erfurt which had been founded in 1392 and was one of the best in Germany. By this time his father was able to assist him so that he was free of care and could acquire a little library. His main studies were scholastic philosophy, namely: logic, rhetoric, physics and metaphysics. He also studied the ancient classics. In this way he was able to acquire sufficient mastery of Latin to write it with clearness and vigor, although not with elegance and refinement.

He had an unblemished moral character and his reputation was not sullied for sharp and scathing language until after his theological passions were roused by the Reformation. He went to mass regularly and observed the daily devotions of a sincere Catholic. His motto was: to pray well is half the study. He was a devout worshipper of the Virgin Mary.

He was 20 when he first saw a complete Bible in the University library. He was surprised to find that it contained far more than he heard explained in the churches. He began a systematic study of the Bible once he entered the convent. He was very 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."

He graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1502 and Master of Arts in 1505. This degree was bestowed with great solemnity. Speaking of the ceremony, Luther said, “What a moment of majesty and splendor was that when one took the degree of Master, and torches were carried before him. I consider that no temporal or worldly joy can equal it." His talents and attainments were the wonder of the University.

Luther now began to prepare himself for the profession of lawyer, after his father’s wishes. But certain circumstances opened a new path for his life. The events that led to this sudden step we gather from his fragmentary utterances which have been embellished by legendary tradition. He was shocked by the sudden death of a friend. Shortly afterward, on July 2, 1505 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." 

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