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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Sayings of Luther
By Martin Luther (1483–1546)
I HAVE no pleasure in any man who despises music. It is no invention of ours: it is the gift of God. I place it next to theology. Satan hates music: he knows how it drives the evil spirit out of us.  1
  THE STRENGTH and glory of a town does not depend on its wealth, its walls, its great mansions, its powerful armaments; but on the number of its learned, serious, kind, and well-educated citizens.  2
  GREEK and Latin are the scabbard which holds the sword of the Spirit, the cases which inclose the precious jewels, the vessels which contain the old wine, the baskets which carry the loaves and fishes for the feeding of the multitude.  3
  ONLY a little of the first fruits of wisdom—only a few fragments of the boundless heights, breadths, and depths of truth—have I been able to gather.  4
  MY own writings are like a wild forest, compared with the gentle, limpid fluency of his [Brenz’s] language. If small things dare be compared with great, my words are like the Spirit of Elijah,—a great and strong wind, rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks; and his is the still small voice. But yet God uses also coarse wedges for splitting coarse blocks; and besides the fructifying grain, he employs also the rending thunder and lightning to purify the atmosphere.  5
  I must root out the stumps and trunks, and I am a rough woodsman who must break the road and prepare it: but Magister Philip [Melanchthon] goes on quietly and gently, plows and plants, sows and waters joyfully.  6
  BE temperate with your children; punish them if they lie or steal, but be just in what you do. It is a lighter sin to take pears and apples than to take money. I shudder when I think what I went through myself. My mother beat me about some nuts once till the blood came. I had a terrible time of it; but she meant well.  7
  NEVER be hard with children. Many a fine character has been ruined by the stupid brutality of pedagogues. The parts of speech are a boy’s pillory. I was myself flogged fifteen times in one forenoon, over the conjugation of a verb. Punish if you must; but be kind too, and let the sugar-plum go with the rod.  8
  MY being such a small creature was a misfortune for the Pope. He despised me too much. What, he thought, could a slave like me do to him—to him who was the greatest man in the world? Had he accepted my proposal he would have extinguished me.  9
  THE BETTER a man is, the more clearly he sees how little he is good for, and the greater mockery it is to him to hold the notion that he has deserved reward. Miserable creatures that we are, we earn our bread in sin. Till we are seven years old, we do nothing but eat and drink and sleep and play; from seven to twenty-one we study four hours a day, the rest of it we run about and amuse ourselves; then we work till fifty, and then we grow again to be children. We sleep half our lives; we give God a tenth of our time; and yet we think that with our good works we can merit heaven. What have I been doing to-day? I have talked for two hours, I have been at meals three hours, I have been idle four hours: ah, enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord!  10
  THE BARLEY which we brew, the flax of which we weave our garments, must be bruised and torn ere they come to the use for which they were grown. So must Christians suffer. The natural creature must be torn and threshed. The old Adam must die, for the higher life to begin. If man is to rise to nobleness, he must first be slain.  11
  THE PRINCIPLE of marriage runs through all creation, and flowers as well as animals are male and female.  12
  PRAISE be to God the Creator, who out of a dead world makes all live again. See those shoots, how they bourgeon and swell on this April day! Image of the resurrection of the dead! Winter is death; summer is the resurrection. Between them the spring and autumn, as the period of uncertainty and change. The proverb says—
  “Trust not a day
Ere birth of May.”
  Let us pray our Father in heaven to give us this day our daily bread.  14
  WE are in the dawn of a new era; we are beginning to think something of the natural world which was ruined in Adam’s fall. We are learning to see all around us the greatness and glory of the Creator. We can see the Almighty hand—the infinite goodness—in the humblest flower. We praise him, we thank him, we glorify him; we recognize in creation the power of his word. He spoke, and it was there. The stone of the peach is hard, but the soft kernel swells and bursts when the time comes. An egg—what a thing is that! If an egg had never been seen in Europe, and a traveler had brought one from Calcutta, how would all the world have wondered!  15
  IF a man could make a single rose, we should give him an empire; yet roses, and flowers no less beautiful, are scattered in profusion over the world, and no one regards them.  16

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