Philip Melanchthon article

Philip Melanchthon from the portrait by Lucas Cranach
Philip Melanchthon from the portrait by Lucas Cranach

This is a hard-to-find article from 1889 by an anonymous writer giving a brief overview of the life of Philip Melanchthon and his relationship with Martin Luther. The article is in the public domain.

Anonymous, “Philip Melanchthon,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1815 (Feb. 9th 1889): 81-85.

Philip Melanchthon

In the closing years of the fifteenth century I there lived in the small town of Bretten in the Palatinate, a skilful armourer, George Schwarzerd. The excellence of his work and the worthiness of his character, had made him known far and wide, and brought him orders not only from the Palatinate princes, but from those of Bavaria and Saxony. He was a man of probity, and also of piety, as many of the laity were, according to the light they had, before the Reformation. The armourer’s wife, daughter of one of the magistrates of the town, was also devout in her way, and was remarkable for her shrewdness and prudence. To her is ascribed the authorship of some old-fashioned metrical sayings, still current among the German people, such as these:

No money’s lost in giving alms,
Nor time, at church, in prayers and psalms.
Ill-gotten wealth but loss secures;
God’s Word to error never lures.

This worthy pair had a son, born on the 14th of February, 1497, who was named Philip Schwarzerd; in after life, and in history, better known by the Greek paraphrase of Schwarz-Erd (black earth) Philip Melanchthon. Who gave him this name, and when, we shall presently hear.

Philip was not eleven years old when his father died. Two days before he breathed his last, George the armourer called his son to his bedside, and exhorted him to have the thought of God always present to his mind. “I foresee,” he said, “that there are troublous times coming upon the world. I have witnessed great changes, but greater are now preparing. May God guide and guard you!” Then the boy was sent to the house of a friend, at Spires, that he might not be distressed by the sight of his father’s death.

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