The faults of great men
(J. C. Philpot, "Pastoral Sketches")
Luther did not come forth as a theologian fully furnished
with a scheme of doctrines, or as a warrior armed at all
points--but advanced slowly, as himself a learner, from
one position to another, gradually feeling his way onward;
taking up no ground on which he had not been clearly set
down, and which he could not firmly maintain from the
express testimony of God.
It is true that this gradual progress of his mind involved
him at times in contradictions and inconsistencies, not
to say mistakes and errors--which his enemies have
availed themselves of, to sully and tarnish one of the
noblest characters, both naturally and spiritually, that
the world has ever seen.
Admiration, or what a popular writer of the present day
calls "hero-worship," should not indeed blind us to the
faults of great men. But a discerning eye, while it admits
Luther's inconsistencies, sees displayed more manifestly
thereby, the mercy and wisdom of God.
The Lord, indeed, was no more the author of Luther's
errors than He was of Luther's sins! But as He mercifully
pardoned the one, so He graciously passed by the other,
and over-ruled both to His own glory!