The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview
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I HAVE need of two scribes or amanuenses. I do almost nothing all day but write letters, so that I do not know whether I repeat what I have said before. I am lecturer at the convent, reader during meals, I am also called from day to day to preach in the parish church, am regent of studies at the convent and subvicar, which means prior of eleven convents, have to collect fish at Leitzkau, administer the affairs of Herzberg at Torgau, lecture on Paul, edit my lectures on the Psalms, and besides am loaded down with writing letters which, as I have said, take the greater part of my time. I really do not have time for the prayers in the breviary or for saying Mass. Besides all that, I have to contend against the temptations of the world, flesh, and the devil. You can see how much leisure I have.1

This outburst gives a vivid picture of Martin's busy life in the fall of 1516. Students were streaming into the Wittenberg theological school, and the new buildings of the Augustinian cloister were becoming overcrowded with brothers sent from other cloisters to study.2 At the end of October the Eremites at Wittenberg were housing forty-one religious persons. In addition, the plague had broken out in the neighborhood in September and soon after invaded the city. It killed the son of the blacksmith just across the way from Martin's convent and prostrated a second son. Martin states that he is resolved to send the brothers away should the disease spread further, but he refuses to accept Lang's invitation to flee to Erfurt and is determined not to leave the city unless the general vicar insists on it: "Not that I shall not be afraid of death, for I am not the Apostle Paul, but only a lecturer on him, but I hope God will lift me out of my terror."3 Despite his busy life, he has his attacks of depression, and at the end of September writes to his friend Maskov, prior of the convent of another order at Leitzkau, in a tone which

Letter from Luther to Lang, Oct. 26, 1516, W AB, I, 72.
Luther to Lang, Oct.,1516, W AB, I, 65.
Luther to Lang, W AB, I, 73; see also ibid., p. 58.


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