Sketches in the Life of the Man Who Shook the World - 2

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
IN the house of Conrad and Ursula Cotta Luther began to display his taste for and love of music. He learned to play on the flute and on the lute, accompanying the latter with his fine deep voice. He became passionately fond of music, and continued to be so all his days. “None but the devil,” he used to say, “hates music.” The kindness of Ursula Cotta was never forgotten by him. Many years afterwards, when one of her sons went to Wittenberg as a student, and when the poor scholar of Eisenach had become the greatest Doctor of his age, he received him to his house and table. He used to say, “Earth has nothing more tender than a woman’s heart, when it is the abode of piety.”
Luther never forgot those early days of want and penury. “Despise not,” he would say, “boys who by singing before people’s doors seek bread for the love of God. I, too, have done the same. It is true that at a later time, my father supported me lovingly and bountifully at the University of Erfurt, and that with the sweat of his brow: nevertheless I was once a poor applicant for alms.” By his cheerful, obliging, and good-hearted manners young Luther endeared himself alike to his masters and fellow-students. To one of the professors, John Trebonius, he particularly attached himself. Martin observed that on entering the classroom, Trebonius uncovered his head and saluted his scholars. To one of his colleagues who did not follow the same practice, and expressed his astonishment at his condescension, he replied, “Among these boys there are men whom God will one day make burgomasters (mayors), chancellors, doctors, and magistrates. Though you do not see them yet invested with the badges of their dignities, it is but fair that you should show them respect.”
When eighteen years of age, in 1501, Luther entered the University of Erfurt, then the principal university of Germany. He made rapid progress in his studies: but he did not forget higher things. Serious and thoughtful, and truly humble, he sought earnestly after high religious attainments. He began each day with prayer, then went to church, and so prepared himself for study, not losing a moment of time. “Earnest prayer,” he used to say, “is more than the half of study.”
Luther had been two years at Erfurt, when, one day as he was in the library, turning over the leaves of the books to see who the author was, a volume arrested his attention. Until that hour he had seen nothing resembling it. He read the title. It was a Latin Bible. The Book excited his liveliest interest. His heart beat high as he held in his hand the entire volume of Holy Scriptures. The first page that caught his attention told him the story of Hannah and the boy Samuel, which filled him with delight. His heart was full, and his longing was, “Oh that God would give me such a book to be my own!” It was then that the first dawn of a truth, entirely new to him, gleamed upon his mind. God had put His Word into his hands, and in that Book lay hid the Reformation.
The same year Luther took his first degree as Bachelor. The excessive exertions made in preparing for his examination threw him into a dangerous illness. Death seemed to be at hand. Grave reflections filled his mind, and he thought his earthly career was about to close. People felt sorry for the hopeful young man, and many friends came to see him on his sick bed. Among them was a venerable old priest who had watched with interest his academical life and labors. Luther could not conceal from him his apprehensions. “Soon,” said he, “I shall be called away from this world.” The old man kindly replied, “Don’t lose heart, my good Bachelor! You will not die of this illness; our God will yet make of you a man who in his turn will console many. For God makes His cross to be borne by those whom He loves, and they who bear it with patience learn much wisdom thereby.” The sick man was much struck with these words. It was while thus at the point of death that he heard words from the mouth of a priest that God, as the mother of Samuel had said, “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust.” The old man’s words shed sweet comfort over his heart, revived his drooping spirits, and made an impression never to be effaced.