LUTHER AS AN AUTHOR--1483-1546.
IN the long list of the noteworthy men of the sixteenth century, the men who helped to shape the history not only of their own generation, but of long series of generations to come, a leading place, possibly the leading place, must be assigned to Martin Luther.
The story of the bold-hearted Augustinian monk, who, strong in his convictions of the justice of his cause, and strong in his faith that the Lord would protect his own, ventured to assail the abuses and, finally, even to question the authority of the Church of Rome, the only Church then known to Europe, and who dared, standing almost alone, to withstand the mandates of pope and of emperor--this story, forming one of the great dramas of history, has been often told. For the purposes of the present narrative, however, I am not concerned with Luther as a Reformer, as a fighter, or as a Christian hero, but simply with his work and his relations as an author.
It was inevitable, in selecting two authors as examples of the literary activities and of the publishing methods of the first part of the sixteenth century, that one of these two should be Luther, whose writings achieved a larger popularity and exercised a more far-reaching influence than could be claimed for any books of the century. It is to be borne in mind, however, that Luther's work as an author was not something apart from his interests as a Reformer. He wrote because he felt the spirit of the