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From Here to Forever

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    Luther Summoned to Appear

    The council now demanded the Reformer's appearance. The emperor at last consented, and Luther was summoned. With the summons was issued a safe-conduct. These were borne to Wittenberg by a herald commissioned to conduct him to Worms.HF 95.1

    Knowing the prejudice and enmity against him, the friends of Luther feared that his safe-conduct would not be respected. He replied: “Christ will give me His Spirit to overcome these ministers of error. I despise them during my life; I shall triumph over them by my death. They are busy at Worms about compelling me to retract; and this shall be my retraction: I said formerly that the pope was Christ's vicar; now I assert that he is the Lord's adversary, and the devil's apostle.”7Ibid., bk. 7, ch. 6.HF 95.2

    Besides the imperial messenger, three friends determined to accompany Luther. Melanchthon's heart was knit to Luther's, and he yearned to follow him. But his entreaties were denied. Said the Reformer: “If I do not return, and my enemies put me to death, continue to teach, and stand fast in the truth. Labor in my stead. ... If you survive, my death will be of little consequence.”8Ibid., bk. 7, ch. 7.HF 95.3

    The minds of the people were oppressed by gloomy forebodings. They learned that Luther's writings had been condemned at Worms. The herald, fearing for Luther's safety at the council, asked if he still wished to go forward. He answered, “Although interdicted in every city, I shall go on.”9Ibid., bk. 7, ch. 7.HF 95.4

    At Erfurt, Luther passed through the streets he had often traversed, visited his convent cell, and thought upon the struggles through which the light now flooding Germany had been shed upon his soul. He was urged to preach. This he had been forbidden to do, but the herald granted him permission, and the friar who had once been made the drudge of the convent, now entered the pulpit.HF 95.5

    The people listened as if spellbound. The bread of life was broken to those starving souls. Christ was lifted up before them as above popes, legates, emperors, and kings. Luther made no reference to his own perilous position. In Christ he had lost sight of self. He hid behind the Man of Calvary, seeking only to present Jesus as the sinner's Redeemer.HF 96.1

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