Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Tuesday Tombsday-Melancthon's Funeral Oration For Martin Luther
Here's an excerpt from, 'A FUNERAL ORATION ON THE REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER, PRONOUNCED AT WITTENBERG', by Philip Melancthon.
"In orations such as the present, much is usually said of the individual excellencies of those whom we wish to commend; passing however, in silence over this part of my theme, it is my design to dwell principally on that main point, the call to gospel ministry; and here we may unite in opinion with all just thinkers, that if Luther has illustrated a wholesome and necessary doctrine in the church, we ought to return thanks unto God, that He has been pleased to raise him up to this work, whilst his personal labours, his faith, his constancy, and his other virtues are to be commended, and his memory to be held most dear by all good men. Let this therefore be the beginning, of our oration.
The Son of God, as Paul says, sits on the right hand of the Eternal Father, and gives gifts unto men; these gifts are the voice of the Gospel and of the Holy Spirit, with which, as He imparts them, He inspires Prophets, Apostles, Pastors and Teachers, and selects them from this our assembly, that is to say, from those who are yet in the rudiments of divine knowledge, who read, who hear, and who love the prophetic and apostolic writings; nor does he often call to this warfare those who are in the exercise of established power, but it even pleases him to wage war on these very men through leaders chosen from other ranks. It is cheering and instructive to take a retrospect of the church throughout all past ages, and to contemplate the goodness of God who has sent out from its bosom gifted ministers in so unbroken a series, that as the first of these have passed away, others have pressed closely in their footsteps.
The line of the first fathers is well worthy of our consideration. Adam, Seth, Enoch, Methusalem, Noe, Sem, and Abraham, who was raised up to be a fellow-helper of Sem and his associate in the all-important work of spreading true religion; and although at this time Sem was still dwelling in the neighbourhood of Sodom, the people had lost the recollection both of his precepts and those of Noe, and were altogether abandoned to the worship of idols. To Abraham succeeded law and Jacob; next Joseph_who kindled the light of truth throughout all Egypt, at that time the most flourishing kingdom in the world. After these, we read of Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and David; then Elisha, of whose ministry the prophet Isaiah was a partaker; then Esdras, Onias, and in succession the Maccabees, Simeon, Zacharias, and John the Baptist: and lastly, Christ and His Apostles. It is delightful to behold this unbroken chain, which is a clear testimony to the presence of God in his church.
After the Apostles followed a band, which although somewhat weaker, was nevertheless honoured with the blessing of God. Polycarp, Irenaeus, Gregory the Niocaesarien, Basilius, Augustinus, Prosper, Maximus, Hugo, Bernardus, Taulerus, and others; and although this later age has become more corrupt, yet God has always preserved a remnant of the faithful, whilst it is evident that the light of the gospel has now been peculiarly manifested through the preaching of Luther.
He is therefore to be numbered with that blessed company, the excellent of the earth, whom God has sent forth for the gathering together and the building up of his church, and whom we truly recognize as ornaments of the human race.
Solon, Themistocles, Scipio, Augustus, and others were indeed great men, who founded, states, or ruled over vast empires; yet do they rank far below our spiritual leaders, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Paul and Luther. "
For more texts by or about Martin Luther, visit Project Wittenberg.