MARTIN LUTHER, the greatest of the Protestant reformers of the 16th century, was born at Eisleben, on the 10th of November 1483.
His father was a miner in humble circumstances; his mother, as Melanchthon records, was a woman of exemplary virtue, and esteemed in her walk of life. Shortly after Martin's birth, his parents removed to Mansfield, where their circumstances ere long improved by industry and perseverance. Their son was sent to school; and both at home and at school his training was of a severe and hardening character. When he reached his eighteenth year, he entered the university at Erfurt, with a view of qualifying himself for the legal profession. He went through the usual studies in the classics and the schoolmen, and took his degree as Doctor of Philosophy, or Master of Arts, in 1505, when he was twenty-one years of age. Previous to this, however, a profound change of feeling had begun in him.
Chancing one day to examine the vulgate version of the Bible in the University Library, he saw with astonishment that there were more gospels and epistles than in the lectionaries. He was arrested by the contents of his newly found treasure. His heart was deeply touched, and he resolved to devote himself to a spiritual life. He separated himself trom his friends and fellow-students, and withdrew into the Augustine convent at Erfurt.
Here he spent the next three years of his life – years of peculiar interest and significance, for it was during this period that he laid in the study of the Bible and of Augustine, the foundation of those doctrinal convictions which were afterwards to rouse and strengthen him in his struggles against the papacy. He describes very vividly the crisis through which he passed, the burden of sin which so long lay upon him, "too heavy to be borne;" and the relief that he at length found in the clear understanding of the "forgiveness of sins" through the grace of Christ.In the year 1507, Luther was ordained a priest, and in the following year he moved to Wittenberg, destined to derive its chief celebrity from his name. He became a teacher in the new university, founded there by the Elector Frederick of Saxony.In 1510 or 1511, he was sent on a mission to Rome, and he has described yery vividly what he saw and.