The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview
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THE autumn of 1519 was passed in the midst of absorbing activities. The "busiest and most sinful of your brethren," Martin signs himself to Lang on September 3.1 Eck is scattering "triumphal wreaths," assisted by the "innumerable frogs of Leipzig." Martin's reply to the Jüterbog Franciscans is in the hands of the printer. He is occupied putting a new commentary on Psalms through the press, from which that on Galatians has just issued.2 A task suggested by Spalatin, a consolatory tractate for the elector in his illness, claims such time as he can spare for it. Autumn goes by with no lessening of nerve-racking occupations. The struggle with Eck continues, and Emser is now added to his opponents. A further importunity of Miltitz takes him away for a week to a conference at Lochau and Liebenwerda. The persistent Dungersheim still drags at his cowl with a constant reiteration of the same pedantic arguments. Ideas born of experience with the cure of souls in the Wittenberg parish and ripening thoughts on the sacraments urge for expression in sermons and tracts, which must be carefully prepared. It is well that he is "swift of hand and ready in memory," as he says a few months later,3 so that whatever he writes "flows from him rather than that it has to be forced." As the year nears its end, he sums up his activities to Spalatin: "The Psalter requires a whole man; a whole man the series of sermons, for which I am working through the Gospel [ Matthew] and Genesis; a third whole man, the prayers and services of my order; a fourth, the work of exegesis, not to speak of writing letters and the occupation with other people's affairs, including the meeting with good friends -- I cannot call it feasting -- which steals away much of my time."4 The elector's chaplain,

W AB, I, 506 .
Printing was completed at Leipzig on September 3 .
Letter from Luther to Spalatin, February 8, 1520, W AB, II, 36, 11. 34 f .
W AB, I, 594, ll. 10 ff .


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