Luther occupies so great, unrivalled, and apostolical a position among the Reformers, that we should not feel surprised to see his life and labors presented to the evangelical community again and again. Although we are far from encouraging an idolatrous worship of the man, we believe we are acting in the spirit of the word of God, when we encourage men to follow his faith. But we should act very ungratefully if, on account of this Prince in Israel, we should lose sight of the other distinguished men of God in the days of the Reformation. And among these, Philip Melanchthon occupies the highest place. The age in which he lived called him the Teacher of the German people, because he exerted a powerful influence upon the scientific and Christian culture of Germany. And we too may give him the same name, for his writings continue to exert a great influence, and justly claim our consideration. To show that this is indeed true, that he is still calculated to be the teacher of the German people, especially[Pg iv] of the evangelical community, is the object of this Biography. As this volume was prepared for the general reader, all learned discussions were necessarily avoided. It does not enter into critical investigations, but faithfully appropriates known facts, in order to present them to the reader in an intelligible manner. A candid examination must decide how far the author has succeeded in accomplishing this object. It is the first attempt of the kind, for the Life of Melanchthon has not been written often; and when it was written, it was not treated in a popular manner.
It was therefore the principal aim of the author of the present volume to present a truthful picture of the faith and the life of the Reformer. The man who wrote the Augsburg Confession, and its Apology, Confessions which, after three hundred years, are still a stumbling-block to some, but also an encouragement and consolation to many; a man who, notwithstanding all his scientific attainments, in which he no doubt excelled the great majority in our own day, yet held fast to the fundamental principles of Christianity, to the manifestation of God in the Flesh, to the Redemption, to Justification by Faith, in life and in the hour of death,—undoubtedly deserves to be introduced from the past into the present, in order to preach salvation in Christ to the present generation.
If Melanchthon's godly walk and conversation should be instrumental in leading him who is a stranger to[Pg v] salvation in Christ, to seek this; if it should serve to comfort and strengthen others, then may that word of the Scriptures be remembered: "The memory of the just is blessed;" and may every one gratefully rejoice, with the Reformer, in that glorious promise: "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever."
Ardently desiring that this volume may be useful and profitable unto salvation to very many, we suffer it to go forth upon its way.
St. G. On the first Sunday in Advent, 1846.
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