Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The Fortunate and the Unfortunate
I was skimming through a few pages of Wilhelm Loehe's Three Books Concerning the Church (which, btw, Concordia Fort Wayne sells an English translation). I have Edward T. Horn's 1908 translation. His profound words on pages 120-21 are just as insightful today as they were 150 years ago. Loehe writes:
"The extension of the Church is just like everything that is spoken of as either fortunate or unfortunate. What man of experience, what man who ever has read the thirty-seventh or seventy-third Psalms, what Christian who, ripening under the Cross, has learned to understand the trials of Job and the words of Ecclesiastes, would ever draw a conclusion as to the worth or unworthiness of a man, a people, or a Church from their good or bad fortune? In that way he would condemn all the children of God from the beginning of the world. The Ever-blessed One upon the Cross and the Emperor Augustus of Rome, the martyrs and their tyrants,—these would have to change places with each other in the estimation of the world! The righteousness of God goes through life, and at the end His sentence is declared concerning everyone; but what man ever makes a completely right judgment here upon earth?—To have the majority of voices is accounted fortunate; to be in the minority, is considered a misfortune but both are in the hand of the Lord;—or should we not rather say, a wide extension of the Church is a gift of God’s grace to the world,—a decrease of her numbers is a misfortune to the world? The way of the Lord is to us dark, but His judgments are at the same time just and inscrutable; it is in His power to give to His Church in our days again victory and hosts of evangelists and confessors; He can lift up His lonely and lowly followers whom He has chastened and humbled, so that they can join in the song of the Mother of God. “Who is like unto the Lord our God Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth? He raises up the poor out of the dust and lifts the needy out of the dunghill; that He may set him with princes, even the princes of His people; He makes the barren woman to keep house and to be a joyful mother of children. Hallelujah!” (Psalm 113:5 ss.) “He is a God Who sets the solitary in families: He brings out those who are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.” (Psalm 68:6) Who knows whether He has not already girded His sword upon His thigh with His glory and majesty? In His majesty will He ride prosperously, because of truth and meekness and righteousness, and His right hand shall teach us terrible things.” (Psalm 45:3,4.)"
Here are a few Loehe links you might find interesting: