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SERMONS OF MARTIN LUTHER -
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In the edition of Luther’s works after 1546, the following text is found: “These passages all speak of the last times, when the Jewish Kingdom and the true priesthood are to be established so that many Jews would be converted unto the true King and Priest, Christ; which came to pass after Christ’s ascension, through the Apostles, and later by the preaching of the Gospel. See Walch (old edition) vol. 22, 2315ff; Erlangen Edition 62 vol. 376p. Also in this vol. Sermon for the 2nd Sunday in Advent §56. Paragraphs 88-93, which are not found in the edition of 1540 or the following editions, were inserted in the complete Wittenberg edition of 1563, vol. IV, 472 with the following superscription: “The following part of the explanation of the Gospel Luke 2 for the Sunday after Christmas, on the words: “And she had been a widow even unto fourscore and four years,” was left out of the Church Postil, because it speaks only of the spiritual meaning of the numbers seven, twelve and eighty-four. But we have inserted it here so that it might not be lost in the course of time. From this short portion of the sermon it may especially be seen with what great diligence and zeal this sainted man examined the Holy Scriptures, investigating everything as thorougly as possible.” See Erl. Ed. 10,261. A custom is referred to here which arose in the latter part of the Middle Ages. On New Year’s Day the preacher declared from the pulpit special New Year’s wishes to his hearers with reference to the different classes among them. The custom introduced many absurdities and improprieties into the church service. Cf. Hauck, Realencyclopaedie sub voce Neujahrsfest.—Translator. §88-93 of this sermon were printed by Aurifaber in the Eisleben appendix volumes of the Jena edition in volume I under the title: “Thoughts of Dr. Martin Luther on what the numbers seven, twelve and eighty four mean spiritually, 1522.”
This note also appears: “This is found in the Church Postil under the explanation of the Gospel of Luke 2, the Sunday after Christmas, on the words: ‘Anna was a widow of four and eighty years;’ but it was omitted in the first edition. It is however inserted here especially for the purpose that we may here see with what great diligence and earnestness this beloved and blessed man searched in the Scriptures and the old fathers, and wished to examine everything in the most painstaking manner.” The Eisleben print agrees with the Wittenberg edition. This sermon closes that part of the Postil which Luther edited in 1522.
Therefore we find the following words at the end of this part: “Here we will tarry for a while that this book may not become too large and that the reader may not be wearied. I hope though that in the twelve Epistles and Gospels the Christian life has fully been pictured, that a Christian has been instructed enough in what is necessary for salvation.
Oh, would to God, that my interpretation and that of all teachers perish and that every Christian himself would read only the Scriptures and the pure Word of God. You can see for yourself from your sermons how incomparably better the Word of God is than the word of any man and how no man with all his words is able sufficiently to expound and interpret a single Word of God. It is an infinite Word which must be comprehended and contemplated with a still spirit, as we read in the 84th Psalm: I will hear what God himself says in me. And no one but such a still contemplating spirit is able to comprehend it. For him who could attain this without glasses and interpretations, my glasses and those of other men would be unnecessary, yes, would be but a hindrance. Therefore into the Scriptures, into the Scriptures, dear Christians, and let my interpretation and that of other teachers be but a scaffold for the true structure that we may comprehend and taste the pure unadulterated Word of God and remain there. For there alone God lives in Zion, Amen.”
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