Friday, February 20, 2015

Extracts From the Writings of Luther and Others, displaying Luther's Mind

Of my interests is tracking down Roman Catholic writings about Luther. Here's an old article: Extracts From the Writings of Luther and Others, displaying Luther's Mind from the Catholic Weekly Instructor, 1844. The publication appears to be British. It was also republished in 1845.  I have yet to determine the author of the article, and I do not believe the author compiled these quotes from actually reading Luther. 

Some of the quotes match up to earlier publications: Review of Fox's Book of Martyrs (1826) by William Eusebius Andrews and A Short history of the Reformation Chiefly Selected From Protestant Authors (1831) by Rev. P. Rafferty. This article appears to be based on the later. Even some of the actual commentary appears to be based on Rafferty's book. For instance, the article below states, "We see here a miserable being flying in the face of superiors, trampling upon authority..." Rafferty states, We see here a miserable wretch flying in the face of superiors, trampling upon authority..." The difference is one word. It may be that Rafferty wrote the article. If Rafferty didn't write the article, it's a blatant plagiarism of Rafferty. 

In his book, Rafferty claims he threw off "party interest," but one need only to read a few pages to see the author was a dedicated defender of Rome. He was in fact a Roman Catholic priest in Pennsylvania. Rafferty admits that his compilation of material was found "scattered up and down, through various authors of different casts of mind, and of different interests." this is a common method some of Rome's defenders use, even to this day. The article is a good illustration of 19th century Reformation invective, a Roman Catholic tradition that still is carried on today.  

No sensible Catholic denies but that at the time of the change of religion in this country no less than at the present time, a great improvement in the morals of the people was needed; but that Luther was the agent of God appointed to effect the change, or that the means he used, of breaking up unity of belief, proceeded from God, we may surely and reasonably deny, when we find in his own works, and in those of his immediate friends or supporters, passages like the following. Some of these passages we should hardly quote, were they not necessary to set the spirit of this man in a light beyond dispute. We hardly wonder at an opinion which we have been told has spread of late years among his followers, that at times Luther was clearly insane. We have before remarked, that the phrenologists of Germany (and we refer to this without wishing to give in the smallest degree weight to their science), who profess to have examined either his head or bust, have promulgated the same opinion respecting his insanity.

Nearly all the passages here selected for the reader, are taken out of that edition of his works printed at Wittenburg, the first volume in the year 1512, the second in 1562, the third in 1583, the fourth in 1574, the fifth in 1554, the sixth In 1580, the seventh in 1558; the other passages may be seen in the Amicable Discussion by the archbishop of Strasburgh.

"I, Martin Luther, by the grace of God, Ecclesiastes in Wittenburg, to the Popish bishops grace and peace. This title I now assume with the utmost contempt of you and Satan; that you may not plead ignorance. And should I style myself an evangelist by the grace of God, I could sooner prove my claim to this title, than any of you to that of bishop. For I am certain that Christ himself calls me so, and looks upon me as an Ecclesiastes. He is the master of my doctrine. Neither doubt I, but in the great day of accounts he will be my witness, that this doctrine is not mine, but the doctrine of God, of the spirit of the Lord, and of the pure and sincere gospel.—So that should you kill me, ye bloodsuckers, yet you will never extinguish either me, or my name, or my doctrine, unless Christ be not living. —Since now I am certain that I teach the word of God, it is not fit I should want a title for the recommending of this word and work of the ministry, to which I am called by God; which I have not received of men, nor by men, but by the gift of God, and the revelation of Jesus Christ.—And now I declare before-hand, that for the time to come, I will not honour you so far, as to condescend to submit myself or my doctrine to your judgment, or to that of an angel from heaven." Tom. 2 fol. 305.2.

[Here we have a piece of insolence and arrogance hardly to be paralleled, carried to a degree of frensy and madness. We see here a miserable being flying in the face of superiors, trampling upon authority, and even assuming to himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ!]

"I was mighty desirous, to understand Paul in his epistle to the Romans; but was hitherto deterred, not by any faintheartedness, but by one single expression iu the first chapter, viz. therein is the righteousness of God revealed. For I hated that word, the righteousness of God; because I had been taught to understand it of that formal and active righteousness, by which God is righteous, and punishes sinners and the unrighteous. Now knowing myself, though I lived a monk of an irreproachable life, to be in the sight of God a sinner, and of a most unquiet conscience, not having any hopes to appease him with my own satisfaction, I did not love, nay, I hated this righteous God, who punishes sinners; and with heavy muttering, if not with silent blasphemy, I was angry with God, and said: as if it were not enough for miserable sinners, who were lost to all eternity by original sin, to suffer all manner of calamity by the law of the decalogue, unless God by the gospel adds sorrow to sorrow, and even by the gospel threatens us with his righteousness and anger. Thus did I rage with a fretted and disordered conscience."

[Blessed God! What a disposition is here to prepare a man for the ministry of the gospel, the preaching of the pure word of God, and the reformation of Christ's Church! What strange marks are these of an extraordinary call! A man raging with a fretted and disordered conscience; angry with God, murmuring against him, nay, hating, and silently blaspheming his justice for punishing sinners!]

Again, Tom. 7. fol. 274. "I was the first to whom God vouchsafed to reveal the things which have been preached to you; and certain I am, that yon have the pure word of God."

[Now, if Martin Luther was the first, to whom God vouchsafed to reveal the things which he preached, it follows that the apostles never knew nor preached his doctrine.]

"Gently, my dear little Paul,* have a care, my ass, of stumbling. Have a care, my Pope-ass. Go no farther, my dear little ass, lest thou should fall and break a leg. For there has been this year so little wind abroad, that the ice is mighty slippery. And if unhappily thou art falling, all the world would laugh at thee, and say, what the devil is the matter here!"

* He is writing to the chief bishop of the Church.

"Away, I say, you wicked, desperate rascals, and blockish asses [speaking to the Pope and Cardinals] Why! can you imagine yourselves to be any better, than so many great blockish asses and fools! Truly, Pope, ass, a blockish ass thou art, and an ass thou wilt ever be."

Again, fol. 474. "Well! were I a master of the empire, I would order all those profligate rogues, the Pope, and Cardinals, and their families, to be fagotted up together, and carried to Ostia, three miles from Rome, where there is a puddle, called by the Latins, the Tyrrhean sea. It is a bath of wonderful virtue against all diseases and infirmities of the Papal sanctity. In this bath I would gently dip them; and if they stayed there but half an hour, I would engage my word, nay my Lord Christ's too, they should be cured of all their distempers."

[Are not these two master-pieces of offensive raillery! Are these like the words of an Ecclesiastes, or a man inspired! viz. desperate rascals, great, blockish, simple asses, profligate rogues, &c. Can the reader be delighted or edified with such raillery!]

Tom. 7. fol. 451. 2. "The Pope, and his Cardinals, are a company of desperate, profligate rogues and rascals, traitors, liars, and the very sink of the wickedest men living— They are full of the worst of devils that are to be found in hell: full, full I say; and so full, that they do nothing but spit, and blow devils through their nostrils."

"To be sure Luther must be frightened, when the king (Henry VIII.) in this book spends so much of Thomistical spittle in lies and prating I speak to a lying scoundrel..... If the fool of a king can so forget his royal majesty, why should it not become me to thrust back his lies into his own throat!"

Fol. 340. 1. "This Thomistical tub! This blockhead! Thou liest, thou sacrilegious and foolish king."
Fol. 341. 1. "Thus does this raving king sputter."

Fol. 341.1. "This immoveable blockhead."

[All this is plain English, and needs no comment. But we may safely say, this sort of language never descended from the fiery tongues in the Acts; but comes rather from the tongue St. James speaks of: yet to this tongue the reformation principally owes its birth and being!]

"Man's will is in the nature of a horse. If God sits upon it, it tends and goes as God would have it go If the devil rides it, it tends and goes as the Devil would have it. Nor can it choose which of the riders it will run to or seek. But the riders themselves strive who shall gain and possess it." De Ser. Arb. tom. fol. 334.2. l 

[This doctrine paves the way to, and is an apology for any wickedness whatsoever.]

"A person," says he, "that is baptised, cannot, though he would, lose his salvation by any sins, how grievous soever, unless he refuses to believe. For no sins can damn him but unbelief alone." Cap. Bab tom. 2. fol. 74. 1.

"The Papists teach, that faith in Christ justifies indeed, but that God's commandments are likewise to be kept. Now this is directly to deny Christ, and abolish faith," In. Ep. ad Gal. tom. 5. fol. 311.2. 

A man must be very wicked indeed to turn Papist, since they teach that God's commandments are to be kept. What follows is admirable.

"Let this be your rule: Where the scripture commands the doing a good work, understand it in this sense, that it forbids thee to do a good work, because thou canst not do it." Tom. 3. fol. 171.2. 

[This certainly is a most golden rule, to interpret the scriptures backwards.]

Epist. ad Amicos Argent, tom. 7. fol, 502. 1. "If Carlostadius, or any man else, could five years ago have convinced me, that in the sacrament there is nothing but bread and wine, he had wonderfully obliged me. For with great anxiety did I examine this point, and labour with all my force to get clear of the difficulty;" [Mark well the reason why he took so much pains] "because by this means I knew very well I should terribly incommode the Papacy.—But I find I am catched without hopes of escaping. For the text of the gospel is so clear and strong, that it will not easily admit of a misconstruction."

[Sad man! what a hardship was it upon him that he should be forced to own the truth, when he had so good an inclination to deny it! But why did he not spell the gospel backwards, according to his own rule, and declare that these words of Christ, "This is my Body, This is my Blood," signify the same as, "this is not my Body, this is not my Blood;" for this would have done his business with the greatest ease imaginable.]

Adversus Execrab. Anti Bullum, tom. 2. fol. 109. 1. "Whereas I said that some of John Huss's articles were evangelical; this I retract. And now I say, not that some, but alll, John Huss's articles were condemned at Constance by Antichrist and his apostles, in that synagogue of Satan. And I tell thee plainly to thy face, most holy vicar of God, that all the condemned propositions of John Huss are evangelical and Christian, and that all thine are wholly imipious and diabolical.—Therefore, as to tho condemned articles of John Huss, I maintain them all, and am ready by the grace of God to defend them."

[Observe: that one of John Huss's evangelical articles, which he had learned of his master, Wycliff, was this, viz. That the committing a mortal sin, made kings and bishops forfeit their power and character. Which doctrine introduces anarchy both in Church and state.]

1. "To the best of my judgment, there is neither emperor, nor king, nor devil, to whom I would yield; no, I would not yield even to tho whole world."*

2. "I burn with a thousand flames in my unsubdued flesh; * * * * * * I, who ought to be fervent in spirit, am only fervent in impurity."+

3. "While a Catholic, he says, he passed his life in austerities. in watching, in fasts and praying, in poverty, chastity, and obedience."++ When once reformed, that is to say, another man, he says, that—"he can no longer forego the indulgence of the vilest natural propensities."§

4. His timid companion acknowledges that he had received blows from him, ab ipso colaphos accepi.\\

5. "He was so well aware of his immorality, as we are informed by his favorite disciple, that he wished they would remove him from the office of preaching."U

6. "I tremble, (wrote he to the same friend,) when I think of the passions of Luther; they yield not in violence to the passions of Hercules."**

7. "This man, (said one of his contemporary reformers), is absolutely mad. He never ceases to combat truth against all justice, even against the cry of his own conscience."++

8. "He is puffed up with pride and arrogance, and seduced by Satan."++

9. " Yes; the devil has made himself master of Luther, to such a degree, as to make one believe he wishes to gain entire possession of him."§§

"I wonder more,O Luther (wrote Henry VIII. to him), that thou art not, in good earnest, ashamed, and that thou darest to lift up thine eyes either before God or man, seeing that thou hast been so light and so inconstant as to allow thyself to be transported by the instigation of the devil to thy foolish concupiscences. Thou, a brother of the order of St. Augustine, hast been the first to abuse a consecrated nun; which sin would have been, in times past, so rigorously punished. But so far art thou from correcting thy fault, that moreover, shameful to say, thou hast taken her publicly to wife, having contracted with her an incestuous marriage, and abused the poor and miserable to the great scandal of the world, tho reproach and opprobrium of thy country, the contempt of holy matrimony, and the great dishonour and injury of tho vows made to God. Finally, what is still more detestable, instead of being cast down and overwhelmed with grief and confusion, as thou oughtest to be, at thy incestuous marriage, O miserable wretch! thou makest a boast of it; and instead of asking forgiveness for thy unfortunate crime, thou dost incite all debauched religious, by thy letters and thy writings, to do the same." || ||

"God, to punish that pride of Luther, which is discoverable in all his works, (says one of the first sacramentarians,) withdrew his spirit from him, abandoning him to the spirit of error and of lying, which will always possess those who have followed his opinions, until they leave them."*

"Luther treats us as an execrable and condemned sect, but let him take care lest he condemn himself as an arch-heretic, from the sole fact, that he will not and cannot associate himself with those who confess Christ. But how strangely does this fellow let himself be carried away by his devils! How disgusting is his language, and how full are his words of the devils of hell! He says that the devil dwells now and for ever in the bodies of the Zuinglians; that blasphemies exhale from their insatanised, supersatanised, and persatanised breasts; that their tongues are nothing but lying tongues, moved at the will of Satan, infused, perfused, and transfused with his infernal poison! Did ever any one hear such language come out of an enraged demon!"* 

"He wrote all his works by the impulse and the dictation of the devil, with whom he had dealing, and who in the struggle seemed to have thrown him by victorious arguments."t

"It is not an uncommon thing, (said Zuinglius,) to find Luther contradicting himself from one page to another .....; and to see him in the midst of his followers, you would believe him to be possessed by a phalanx of devils."§

Erasmus, the most learned man of his age, he who was been called the pride of Holland, the love and delight of Great Britain, and of almost every other nation,|| wrote to Luther himself: "All good people lament and groan over the fatal schism with which thou shakest the world by thy arrogant, unbridled, and seditious spirit."

"Luther (says Erasmus again), begins to be no longer pleasing to his disciples, so much that they treat him as a heretic, and affirm that, being void of the spirit of the Gospel, he is delivered over to the deliriums of a worldly spirit."**

"In very truth Luther is extremely corrupt, (said Calvin;)++ would to God he had taken pains to put more restraint upon that intemperance which rages in every part of him! would to God he had been attentive to discover his vices." 

Calvin says again, that "Luther had done nothing to any purpose that people ought not to let themselves be duped by following his steps and being half papist; that it is much better to build a church entirely afresh...... "§§ is true, Calvin praised Luther so far as to call him "the restorer of Christianity." He protested however against their honouring him with the name of Elias. His disciples afterwards made the same protestations. "Those (said they) who put Luther in the rank of the prophets, and constitute his writings the rule of the church, have deserved exceedingly ill of the church of Christ, and expose themselves and their churches to the ridicule and cutting reproaches of their adversaries."

"Thy school, (replied Calvin to Wesphal the Lutheran,) is nothing but a stinking pig-stye...... ; dost thou hear me, thou dog! dost thou hear me, thou madman! dost thou hear me, thou huge beast!" 

Carlostadius, while retired at Orlamund, had so far ingratiated himself with the inhabitants, that they must needs stone Luther, who had run over to rate him for his false opinions respecting the Eucharist. Luther tells us this in his letter to the inhabitants of Strasburgh: "These Christians attacked me with a shower of stones. This was their blessing: may a thousand devils take thee! mayest thou break thy neck before thou returnest home again."**


Vincent VAN DER WEERDEN said...

Post 20th century Catholic writers no longer have such hostility towards Luther. At least the Historians dont.

James Swan said...

Vincent VAN DER WEERDEN said...
Post 20th century Catholic writers no longer have such hostility towards Luther. At least the Historians dont.

Hi Vincent,

On my sidebar under "Favorite Entries on Martin Luther" I have two links:

The Roman Catholic Perspective of Martin Luther(Part One)

The Roman Catholic Perspective of Martin Luther(Part Two)

The second link attempts to document exactly what you're saying.

Personally, I find the phrase "Catholic writers" somewhat ambiguous, especially in our Internet-age. I would rather refer to Roman Catholic historians and theologians to make a distinction between them and self-proclaimed defenders of Rome on the Internet that "write."

In the later category, the invective tradition against Luther still often lives.

PeaceByJesus said...

Luther's language with holy invectives could certainly be "over the top," though I think you have pointed out before similar contemporary Cath. language.

And while I do not defend it all, I came across this from a 1886 Cath source:

"If the propagation of good and the necessity of combating evil require the employment of terms somewhat harsh against error and its supporters, this usage is certainly not against charity. This is a corollary or consequence of the principle we have just demonstrated. We must render evil odious and detestable. We cannot attain this result without pointing out the dangers of evil, without showing how and why it is odious, detestable and contemptible. Christian oratory of all ages has ever employed the most vigorous and emphatic rhetoric in the arsenal of human speech against impiety. In the writings of the great athletes of Christianity the usage of irony, imprecation, execration and of the most crushing epithets is continual. Hence the only law is the opportunity and the truth.

But there is another justification for such an usage. Popular propagation and apologetics cannot preserve elegant and constrained academic forms. In order to convince the people we must speak to their heart and their imagination which can only be touched by ardent, brilliant, and impassioned language. To be impassioned is not to be reprehensible----when our heat is the holy ardor of truth. (LIBERALISM IS A SIN, Dr. Don Felix Sarda Y Salvany -

Of course, it is not simply the unwarranted coarseness language of apologetics that is the issue, but the content, and that of Rome in defense of her errors is damnable not matter how mild the tenor of them.

And this work actually attempts to argue that liberalism is a direct result of Protestantism, with its tenet of private interpretation of the Bible, as if SS held that in isolation, and apart from evident Biblical principles of hermeneutics (such as the immutability of moral laws, and historical events being literal, as well as recognition of other genres), and denied the need for and authority of the magisterial office (which Westminster affirmed).

Thus those who hold most strongly to Scripture literally being the wholly inspired of word of God are even today the most conservative group, in contrast to Caths. .

While what is ignored is that of the danger of following men as the supreme authority under the premise of ensured veracity.

For while that is the easiest means of doctrinal unity, it is also cultic, and also ensures the passing on of error, including via the flock following the interpretive example of leaders into deviation, whether that of the murder of theological dissenters or modern liberalism.

And thus we see today the realization of that, with the majority of those whom Rome treats as members in life and in death being liberal, even proabortion prosdomite public figures.

And of course, the SS=liberalism polemic also takes credit for positive Western values as coming from Rome, versus Scripture (of course,. they also imagine Caths wrote the Bible), forgetting the context of the Reformation .

Vincent VAN DER WEERDEN said...

James I found the following from Ratzinger:

"It is against this background of a profoundly shaken ecclesial consciousness that we are to understand that Luther, in the conflict between his search for salvation and the tradition of the Church, ultimately came to experience the Church, not as the guarantor, but as the adversary of salvation. (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for the Church of Rome, “Principles of Catholic Theology,” trans. by Sister Mary Frances McCarthy, S.N.D. (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1989) p.196).

James Swan said...

PeaceByJesus said...Luther's language with holy invectives could certainly be "over the top," though I think you have pointed out before similar contemporary Cath. language. And while I do not defend it all, I came across this from a 1886 Cath source:

I've come across this sort of argument from Rome's defenders as well as from Luther. It's been used against me, even recently.

Sometimes it seems to me more of an excuse just to say nasty things about another person rather than trying to present a defense of one's beliefs with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

Sure, I get a chuckle out of some of Luther's harsh rhetoric- even Calvin could be rough at times. Did Luther cross the line- yes, at times he did. Then again, I've never been deemed a heretic by the church, or an outlaw of the Empire. Perhaps when one's life is at stake, certain ways of arguing are more relevant.

From my perspective though, I think one should be very careful before using the insult method. I've tried to tone down my own polemics over the years, sometimes with success, sometimes not.

James Swan said...

Vincent VAN DER WEERDEN said...
James I found the following from Ratzinger:

Thanks for the link.

PeaceByJesus said...

Then again, I've never been deemed a heretic by the church, or an outlaw of the Empire.

Wait a minute. You mean being banned from Catholic Answers does not count for that?
Perhaps when one's life is at stake, certain ways of arguing are more relevant.

I think if such defenders of the cloak had their desires then us "heretics" might be eradicated, as per past papal decree to RC rulers to do!