Martin Luther’s High School and College Days: Part 3
When Martin Luther was 15, his parents sent him to Eisenach to attend the School of St. George to prepare for study at a university. Luther was happy in the Latin school. There Luther was introduced to Aesop’s Fables, classic literature, and history. Recognizing his gifts the teachers encouraged him to enter the university. At Eisenach Luther soon was at the top of his class in speech, languages, and poetry. In order to stay in school, the poorer students begged for food by signing in the streets. Even though his father could pay his way, Martin liked to join the other boys in this singing. Luther lived with a rich Merchant and his family They had heard him sing and encouraged his musical talents. Here he learned to play the flute and the lute.
In the spring of 1501, at age 17, Luther graduated from high school. His father had always wanted him to become a lawyer, so he sent Luther to the University of Erfurt, one of the best universities in Germany. The two thousand university students lived together in large buildings, about six or eight to a room. A bell rang when it was time for classes, meals or bed. The students got up at 4 am and went to bed at 8 pm. Like many of his classmates, Luther wore colorful clothes and carried a sword at his side. He bought a lute (a kind of guitar), and played it for songfests in his room. He also liked to hike through the countryside around Erfurt. Luther studied the liberal arts, which consisted of grammar, logic, rhetoric math, astronomy and music.
Logic was the most important because it taught Luther how debate and defend an argument. He also became familiar with the writing of famous Romans and the great thinkers of Greece.
In September of 1502 he received the Bachelor of Arts degree. He was 18.
After two more years of hard study, Luther earned the Master of Arts degree in January 1505. This entitled him to teach at the university. He wasn’t a lawyer yet. He would begin his law studies in May. To encourage Luther to become a lawyer, his father bought him an important and expensive law book. At the library, however, he spent most of his time reading other things. One book Luther discovered in the library was a Latin Bible. He loved the story of the birth of Samuel. As Luther read more, a whole world opened to him because he had only known the Bible stories read in church.
Luther was still troubled in spirit. All his schooling hadn’t changed his ideas about God and his fear of eternal punishment. He had gone to Mass and said the confession faithfully. He had prayed to Mary and many other saints to help him win Jesus’ mercy. Nothing had brought him spiritual comfort when he was seriously ill or when he accidentally injured himself in the leg with his sword. Deep in his heart he wasn’t certain God had forgiven him.
One day in July 1505 Luther sold all his law books and invited his friends to a party. As the party ended, Luther said to his friends, “Today you still see me, but never again. I am going to become a monk.” His friends were shocked. They begged and argued with him, but it was no use. He had made his decision. The next morning some of Luther’s friends went with him to the Augustinian cloister in Erfurt. The gates opened, and Luther went in. His friends returned in tears. Why should their companion, who had such a great future, throw it all away and become a monk? But God had plans for Martin Luther.