Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/422

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CHAPTER XXIV.

THE EXCOMMUNICATION.

AN innumerable crowd lined the streets, praying with folded hands to the Lord that he would protect the undertaking of their liberator. In front rode the Imperial herald with the eagle, and the soldier of God's Word followed, accompanied by travellers the same way in shining steel and gorgeous accoutrements. And when he entered the assembly, his admirers climbed on the roofs, and filled the streets and windows, for each one esteemed himself highly favored who caught sight of him. And when he had boldly and manfully fought the battle, he was borne home in triumph, and a voice was heard to cry, "Blessed are the hands that bear him." Thus, in the year 1521, Martin Luther went to Worms, the bold champion of the freedom of the Divine Word.

It is hard to sustain a conflict with power and custom at any time; it is painful to support it publicly; but the thousand upturned sympathetic faces are like a glory round the head of the champion, and raise his strength to be the strength of thousands. And if he finds himself overcome, he has felt the blessings of innumerable hearts in whom