Author Archives: Matthew Phillips

God Crowns His Own Gifts

One day someone asked Martin Luther whether godly persons should expect merit for their good works that result from their justification.  Luther answered that even the justified were still sinners, who pray for forgiveness and live under grace.  While God … Continue reading

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Arise O Lord: The Political Origins of Luther’s Reformation

In his sermon given at the funeral of Duke John of Electoral Saxony (John the Steadfast) in 1532, Martin Luther stated, “a prince is also a human being and always has ten devils around him where another man has only … Continue reading

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The Laws of Tyrants

“Most foolish of all is the belief that everything decreed by the institutions or laws of a particular country is just.  What if the laws are the laws of tyrants?  If the notorious Thirty* had wished to impose their laws … Continue reading

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The Lust For Domination

“I know how great is the effort needed to convince the proud of the power and excellence of humility, an excellence which makes it soar above all the summits of this world, which sway in their temporal instability, overtopping them … Continue reading

Posted in Augustine of Hippo, community, grace, pride | 2 Comments

More Than a Feeling

“For virtue is nothing else than an affection of the mind ordered according to reason, and such affections are said to be very numerous according to the various inclinations of the same mind, yet having one root and origin, the … Continue reading

Posted in Bernard of Clairvaux, Christ, Cross, Hugh of St Victor, Incarnation, Love, medieval, theology | Leave a comment

The Spirit of Resistance

“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like … Continue reading

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Flattery Gets You Nowhere

“I prefer to be frank and not have anyone misled by flattery. I can testify that although my shell may be hard, still my kernel is soft and sweet.  I wish no one harm, but desire everyone to carefully consider … Continue reading

Posted in gospel, grace, Martin Luther, Reformation | Leave a comment

Mercy in Moderation

In 1534 Martin Luther published a commentary on Psalm 101.  He used this commentary as an opportunity to write a manual for the Christian prince.  In August 1532, John Frederick the Magnanimous became the Electoral Duke of Saxony with the … Continue reading

Posted in Aristotle, Cicero, Martin Luther, Politics | Leave a comment

Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms

On April 14, 1521 Martin Luther wrote the following words in a short letter to Georg Spalatin from Frankfurt-am-Main: I am coming, my Spalatin, although Satan has done everything to hinder me with more than one disease.  All the way … Continue reading

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The Special Function of History

“Now the special function of history, particularly in relation to speeches, is first of all to discover the words actually used, whatever they were, and next to establish the reason why a particular action or argument failed or succeeded.  The … Continue reading

Posted in history, Polybius, Rome | Leave a comment