It was thus that the same man who asked nothing of the world, so far as his own personal feelings were concerned, and whose soul was troubled only by thought for the Eternal, delivered mankind from the ban of asceticism. He was thereby really and truly the life and origin of a new epoch, and he gave it back a simple and unconstrained attitude towards the world, and a good conscience in all earthly labour. This fruitful work fell to his share, not because he secularised religion, but because he took it so seriously and so profoundly that, while in his view it was to pervade all things, it was itself to be freed from everything external to it.
The question has often been raised whether, and to what extent, the Reformation was a work of the German spirit. I cannot here go into this complicated problem. But this much seems to me to be certain, that while we cannot, indeed, connect Luther’s momentous religious experiences with his nationality, the results positive as well as negative with which he invested them display the German; the German man and German history. From the time that the Germans endeavoured to make themselves really at home in the religion handed down to them—this did not take place until the thirteenth century onwards—they were preparing the way for the Reformation, And just as Eastern Christianity is rightly called Greek, and the Christianity of the Middle Ages and of Western Europe is rightly called Roman, so the Christianity of the Reformation may be described as German, in spite of Calvin. For Calvin was Luther’s pupil and he made his influence most lastingly felt, not among the Latin nations but among the English, the Scotch, and the Dutch. Through the Reformation the Germans mark a stage in the history of the Universal Church. No similar statement can be made of the Slavs.