“Luther was in the habit of talking much to the friends who gathered round him at the evening meal in his home at Wittenberg. In these talks he revealed himself with a frankness which has few parallels in history. Fortunately for posterity, there was a Boswell present in the person of John Goldschmidt, or, to give him his Latinized name, Aurifaber, who made copious notes of the talk of the master. Not satisfied with what he heard himself, he applied to other friends who had been longer guests at Luther’s table than himself; and from their recollections he supplemented his own…
“One more example may be given of German reverence for Luther. Heine was Jewish by birth, and a religious skeptic, and as a critic he often employed his unrivaled mastery of gibes and sarcasms in sneering away German reputations. But of Luther he wrote: —
“Honor to Luther! Everlasting honor to the dear man to whom we owe the recovery of our noblest rights, and through whose labors we live today! It becomes us ill to complain of the narrowness of his views. The dwarf who stands upon the shoulders of the giant may certainly see farther, especially if he puts on spectacles; but he cannot bring to the prospect the lofty emotion and the giant heart of the other. It becomes us the less to judge his faults severely, as his very faults were of more service to us than the virtues of a thousand others. The fine discernment of Erasmus, and the gentleness of Melanchthon, had never done so much for us as the divine brutality of Brother Martin.”
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