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A Christian sermon over the body and at the
funeral of the venerable Dr. Martin Luther,

preached by Mr. Johann Bugenhagen

Pomeranus, doctor and pastor

of the churches in Wittenberg.



Printed in Wittenberg
by Georg Rhau,
in the year 1546.

year1546martinlutherfuneral.gif


Paul, the holy apostle, says in I Thessalonians 4:

We do not want to hold back, dear brothers, concerning those who are asleep

so that you may not be sorrowful as the others who have no hope.

For since we believe that Jesus has died and risen, even so,

God will bring those with Him who have fallen asleep through Jesus.


Dear friends,


I am now supposed to preach a sermon at the funeral of our dearly beloved father, blessed Dr. Martin, and gladly do so. But what shall I say and how shall I speak, since I probably will not be able to utter a word because of my tears? And who shall comfort you if I, your pastor and preacher, cannot speak? Where can I turn from you? I will, no doubt, cause more crying and mourning with my sermon. For how should we not all mourn heartily, since God has sent us this sorrow and has taken from us the noble and dear man, the venerable Dr. Martin Luther? Through him God has rendered inexpressible gifts and grace to all of us and to all the churches of Christ in Germany, as well as to many in foreign countries. Through him God has also triumphed gloriously over the kingdom of Satan and against so much shameful idolatry and human ordinance, indeed, as Paul says, against the devil's teachings throughout the world, and has revealed to us in the Gospel the sublime, great

heavenly secret, his dear Son Jesus Christ (as Paul also says in Ephesians and Colossians). Through him, our dear father, Christ has defended his Gospel against the grievous pope and various rabble and tyrants, indeed, against all the portals of hell. He gave to this dear man the spirit of power and strength so that he is afraid of no one, however great and mighty he may be. He held so boldly to the Gospel and to pure doctrine that the world often believed that he was too sharp and too excessive with his rebuking and scolding, just as the Jews and Pharisees, the bitter and poisonous vipers, accused Christ, for it hurt them severely and caused them pain that they were chastised by means of the pure truth. However, they did not accept the salutary teaching.

God has taken away from us this great teacher, prophet, and divinely sent reformer of the church. Oh, how can we cease mourning and crying? How can we, after all, obey the dear Paul here when he says: "You should not grieve because of those who are asleep?" But he adds immediately: "Like the others who have no hope." We who believe know that those who have fallen asleep in Christ will be awakened again to a better life where we will meet them again and be together with them eternally.


However, the world was not worthy to have this dear man of God any longer, to continue to slander and persecute him. Albeit, that same, ungrateful world received much good through this great man, especially that it has been freed from a variety of oppression and tyranny of the loathsome papacy. Therefore, many of the adversaries (who still have some wisdom and understanding) would have preferred that the dear man had continued to live for a long time.

This I have said initially, that we truly have great cause to mourn heartily since we have lost such a great and dear man. And truly (since this may help a bit) Christian kings, princes, and cities and all who have recognized the Gospel of truth mourn with us. Therefore, we do not mourn alone, but many thousands in Christendom mourn with us from time to time. It was not fitting that the current, grievous pope, the Cardinal of Mainz, or Duke Henry (all of whom he enraged mightily with the truth) should ever delight in the death of this man. And I hope that the adversaries will not delight in his death for long. For the person has indeed died in Christ, but the mighty, blessed, godly doctrine of this precious man still lives most powerfully.

For he was without doubt the angel concerning whom it is written in Revelation 14, who flew through the midst of heaven and had an eternal Gospel, etc., as the text says:


And I saw an angel flying through the midst of heaven. He had an eternal Gospel to proclaim to those who sit and dwell on earth, to all heathen and races and languages and nations. And he said with a loud voice: Fear God and give him honor, for the time of his judgment has come. Worship the one who has made heaven and earth, the seas and the springs of water. And another angel followed and said: "She has fallen, she has fallen, Babylon, the great city, for she has made drunk all the heathen with the wine of her harlotry."


This angel who says, "Fear God and give him the honor," was Dr. Martin Luther. And what is written here, "Fear God and give him the honor," are the two parts of Dr. Martin Luther s doctrine, the Law and the Gospel, through which all of Scripture is unlocked and Christ, our righteousness and eternal life, is recognized. To these two he has also added this passage ("the time of his judgment has come") and has taught regarding proper prayer and invocation of God the heavenly Father in Spirit and in truth. As the angel also says in Revelation 14: "Worship the one who has made heaven and earth, etc."


For after the teaching of this angel, another angel will follow, who will proclaim comfort to the sorrowful and persecuted church and the lightning and thunder of eternal judgment and condemnation against the adversaries, as, after all, the other angel said: "She has fallen; she has fallen, Babylon, the great city." Therefore, the adversaries will not rejoice long over our sorrow, as Christ also says in John 16: "Your sorrow shall turn to joy." For according to Revelation, the aforementioned fourteenth chapter, we see that this has happened before and still happens. If Revelation has some validity, then the other will, without doubt, follow.


But, oh, how do I ramble on so with my sermon in this time of our crying and sorrow? This is enough said about our rightful mourning, for we mourn justly that such a dear man, a proper bishop and shepherd of souls, has departed from us. But in this sorrow we should also rightly recognize God s grace and mercy to us and thank God that he has awakened for us through his Spirit this dear Dr. Martin Luther against the antichristian doctrines of the abominable, satanic pope and against the devil's doctrines only one hundred years after the death of the holy John Hus (who was killed for the sake of the truth in the year 1415), just as John Hus himself prophesied before his death about a future swan. Hus means "goose" in the Bohemian language. "You are now roasting a goose," (says John Hus), "but God will awaken a swan whom you will not burn or roast." And as they shouted much against him, which he could not answer, he supposedly said: "After one hundred years I will answer you." He has done that uprightly through our dear father, Dr. Luther, and has begun it precisely in the one-hundred-and-first year. Yes, we should thank God that he preserved this dear man for us and his churches in the violent disputes, in so many difficult conflicts, and that through him Christ has triumphed so often now for almost thirty years. To the Lord Christ be praise and honor in eternity. Amen.


But we should also rejoice with our dear father Luther that he left and departed from us to the Lord Christ in the highest apostolic and prophetic office in which he faithfully accomplished what he was commanded. For with Christ are the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and many to whom he preached the Gospel, all the holy angels, Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham, that is, in the eternal joy of all believers. We will experience what this interim period until the Day of Judgment is like, as Paul says in Philippians 1: "I desire to depart and to be with Christ; and as Stephen also says in Acts: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit"; and Jesus to the thief: "Today you will be with me in paradise."


For there is no doubt, just as the spirit of Christ was in the hands of the Father until the resurrection on Easter, since he said: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit, etc.," so will our spirits be in the hands of Christ until our resurrection. For that is the meaning of the words of Lazarus: "But now he is comforted while you are tormented."


What kind of peace or comfort the believers have and what kind of anxiety or torment the unbelievers have in the meantime, until the day of judgment, we cannot say so precisely on the basis of Scripture. Scripture says that they are asleep, as Paul says in Thessalonians, "concerning those who are asleep." However, just as in natural sleep the healthy rest in a sweet sleep and are thereby refreshed and become stronger and healthier, while the sick or the sorrowing and especially those who are in the terror or fear of death sleep with difficulty, with horrible dreams, and restlessly so that sleep is not rest for them but a more frightful, more desolate unrest than being awake, in the same way there is a difference between the sleep of the believers and the godless. But about this we cannot speak further or infer other than what the words of Scripture say.


Our dear father Dr. Martin Luther has now attained what he often desired. And if he were to return to us again now, he would reprimand our mourning and faint-heartedness with the word of Christ from John 16: "If you loved me you would rejoice because I go to the Father, and you would not begrudge me this eternal rest and joy." Christ has conquered death for us. Why, then, are we afraid? The death of the body is for us a beginning of life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord, who has become for us a noble, precious sacrifice.


I still remember that when our honorable, dear father, Dr. Martin Luther, saw several depart sweetly

in the confession of Christ, he said: "May God grant me that I may also depart so sweetly in the bosom of Christ and that