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Title: Luther, vol 2 of 6
Author: Grisar, Hartmann
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                         TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:

—Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.

—Whereas adequate character is unavalaible, superscripts are rendered
 as word^[sup].


                  C. SCHUT, S.T.D.,
                                      _Censor Deputatus._

                 EDM. CAN. SURMONT,
                    _Vic. Gen._

                    _Westmonasterii, die 10 Julii, 1913._



                         HARTMANN GRISAR, S.J.



                             E. M. LAMOND

                               EDITED BY

                           LUIGI CAPPADELTA

                               VOLUME II

                KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRÜBNER & CO., LTD.
                BROADWAY HOUSE, 68-74 CARTER LANE, E.C.


“His most elaborate and systematic biography ... is not merely a book
to be reckoned with; it is one with which we cannot dispense, if only
for its minute examination of Luther’s theological writings.”--_The

“There is no room for any sort of question as to the welcome ready
among English-speaking Roman Catholics for this admirably made
translation of the first volume of the German monograph by Professor
Grisar on the protagonist of the Reformation in Europe.... The
book is so studiously scientific, so careful to base its teaching
upon documents, and so determined to eschew controversies that are
only theological, that it cannot but deeply interest Protestant
readers.”--_The Scotsman._

“Father Grisar has gained a high reputation in this country through
the translation of his monumental work on the History of Rome and the
Popes in the Middle Ages, and this first instalment of his life of
Luther bears fresh witness to his unwearied industry, wide learning,
and scrupulous anxiety to be impartial in his judgments as well as
absolutely accurate in matters of fact.”--_Glasgow Herald._

“It is impossible to understand the Reformation without understanding
the life and character of the great German. The man and the work are so
indissolubly united that we cannot have right judgments about either
without considering the other. It is one of Father Grisar’s many merits
that he does not forget for a single moment the fundamental importance
of this connection. The man and his work come before us in these
illuminating pages, not as more or less harmonious elements, but as a
unity, and we cannot analyse either without constant reference to the
other.”--_Irish Times._

“Professor Grisar is hard on Luther. Perhaps no Roman Catholic can
help it. But it is significant that he is hard on the anti-Lutherans
also.... He shows us, indeed, though not deliberately, that some
reformation of religion was both imperative and inevitable.... But he
is far from being overwhelmed with prejudice. He really investigates,
uses good authorities, and gives reasons for his judgments.”--_The
Expository Times._

“This Life of Luther is bound to become standard ... a model of every
literary, critical, and scholarly virtue.”--_The Month._

“The most important book on Luther that has appeared since Denifle’s
epoch-making ‘Luther und Luthertum.’ ... It is an ordered biography,
... and is therefore very probably destined to a wider general
usefulness as a Catholic authority.”--_The Irish Rosary._


                                                            _pages_ 3-44


  Friends among the Humanists: Crotus Rubeanus, Eobanus
  Hessus, etc. The nobility and the revolutionary
  knights. Piety of Hutten’s language when addressing
  Luther. Franz von Sickingen. Offer made by Silvester
  von Schauenberg. Report that Hutten had trapped the
  Papal Legates; Capito counsels greater moderation.
  Luther’s reason for only meeting the knights
  half-way. Luther’s work, “Von dem Bapstum tzu Rome,”
  1520; its violence contrasted with Luther’s earlier
  demands of the “man of good will.” The manifesto
  against Alveld. Prierias the Dominican attacks
  Luther’s Indulgence-theses; the latter’s intense
  annoyance; summary of his second reply. Treatment of
  Hoogstraaten the Inquisitor. Luther’s description of
  himself as a “man of contentions.” Scolded by Emser
  for his lack of self-control                              _pages_ 3-15


  By holding out hopes of reconciliation, Luther delays
  the final decision. His missive to Bishop Scultetus,
  in whose diocese lay Wittenberg. Three letters
  to Pope Leo X; why the last was antedated; its
  purport. Letter to the Emperor Charles V; reason and
  setting of the letter; its contents. Luther’s later
  description of his “inaction” during this period. His
  correspondence with Spalatin; the real aim of many of
  the letters: to promote his cause at Court; his offer
  to resign his professorship. The diplomatist coupled
  with the enthusiast                                      _pages_ 15-26


  “To the Christian Nobility”; “On the Babylonish
  Captivity”; “On the Freedom of a Christian Man”;
  specimens from the last of Luther’s taking way of
  addressing the people; his rejection of external
  authority and assertion of the right of private
  judgment against the “tyranny” of Popes and Bishops.
  His new conception of faith. The pietist and
  religious revolutionary                                  _pages_ 26-37


  The deep-set discontent of the Germans leads even
  the best-disposed to welcome Luther’s strictures.
  Two famous Nurembergers: Willibald Pirkheimer’s
  intervention on Luther’s behalf; his subsequent
  deception; withdraws from the cause. Albert Dürer’s
  prepossession in Luther’s favour; his art in Luther’s
  service; did he afterwards alter his ideas?              _pages_ 38-44

  BAPTISM IN THE WARTBURG                                  _pages_ 45-96


  The proceedings in Rome postponed and then resumed.
  The 41 propositions. The Bull “_Exsurge Domine_”
  menaces all Lutherans with excommunication in the
  event of their refusing to submit; some excerpts
  from the Bull. Luther’s writings against the Bull;
  futility of his appeal to a General Council; the
  burning of the Bull. “_Compos mei non sum_”;
  his feverish activity; “_Fluctibus his rapior
  et volvor_”; his hints at armed opposition; on
  “washing hands in blood”; moderates his language
  when addressing the Saxon Court. Conviction that
  the Pope is Antichrist strengthened by the birth of
  the Freiberg Calf. His “Instruction to penitents
  concerning forbidden books” (February, 1521) composed
  in view of the Easter confession                         _pages_ 45-61


  The Diet assembled. Luther’s journey to Worms.
  Happenings at Erfurt. Arrival at Worms; his
  interrogation; unofficial attempts to reach a
  settlement; his final refusal to recant. Sympathisers
  among the members of the Diet; pressure brought to
  bear by the Knights; the Elector of Saxony. Luther’s
  departure; preaches sermons in spite of the condition
  laid down in his safe-conduct; carried off to the
  Wartburg; formally declared an outlaw; a letter to
  Sickingen                                                _pages_ 61-69


  The story of the Emperor’s breach of the
  safe-conduct. Luther’s asseveration that his
  opponents refused to argue because they knew him
  to be in the right. What Luther stood for at Worms
  was no “freedom of conscience” in the modern sense.
  The legendary utterance “Here I stand. I cannot
  do otherwise. God help me. Amen.” Various tales
  unfavourable to Luther: His supposed drunkenness
  and excesses at Worms; despatches of Contarini the
  Venetian minister and Aleander the papal nuncio          _pages_ 69-79


  Luther’s disposition and occupation in his lonely
  retreat. Rising scruples crushed; gloomy thoughts;
  bodily assaults of the evil one; temptations. His
  cogitations on the question of celibacy; discovers
  the best argument to use against vows and priestly
  obligations, viz. “evangelical freedom”; result
  committed to print in his work “On Monastic
  Vows”; his own intention to remain unmarried. His
  self-accusations of gluttony and laziness not to
  be taken literally. His translation of the New
  Testament. His work “On the Abuse of the Mass”;
  its frightful caricature of the Pope of Rome. His
  spiritual Baptism; his conviction of the reality of
  his Divine mission                                       _pages_ 79-94


  Luther’s own language responsible for certain
  unfounded charges against him. Meaning of the
  “_titillationes_” and “_molestiæ_” of which he
  complains. The haunted castle; incident of the
  visit of “Hans von Berlips’s wife”; the ubiquitous
  ink-smudge                                               _pages_ 94-96



  Luther quits the Wartburg and returns to Wittenberg.
  Progress of the movement at Wittenberg during his
  absence. Carlstadt a cause of misgivings. The Zwickau
  Prophets appeal to Holy Writ and their Divine
  mission; Luther preaches against their ways; haste
  to be deprecated; he bases his superior claim on
  the priority of his revelation; he is backed by the
  Court. He invites people to smash the Bishoprics and
  drive away the “wolves” (1522). As organiser of a new
  Church he is faced by practical difficulties owing
  to his having no clear notion of what the Church
  should be. Apocalyptic dreams. A dilemma: Is the
  new church-system to be introduced by the secular
  authorities or to spring up spontaneously within
  the congregations? The free brotherhood without law
  or coercion. The new “Christians”; use of title
  “Evangelicals.” Two points to be settled first, viz.
  the celebration of the Supper and the appointment of
  pastors. Luther’s then leanings to the democratic
  congregational ideal. “_De instituendis ministris
  ecclesiæ_” and his writing to the Church of Leisnig
  (1523) a programme of congregationalism. High hopes
  and excessive claims; his mysticism gives him the
  assurance that unity will be achieved                   _pages_ 97-115


  Advantages and disadvantages of Luther’s warfare
  on the state of religious celibacy. His work “On
  Monastic Vows.” His exhortations to a religious to
  “pocket his scruples and be a man.” On man’s need
  to marry. Significant admissions. His teaching in
  the Postils and Larger Catechism; advice to the
  Prince-abbots and Knights of the Teutonic Order;
  sarcastic remarks concerning the olden Fathers,
  particularly Jerome, and their “petty temptations”;
  connection of Luther’s attack on vows and his early
  dislike of “works.” The character of the new pastors
  and preachers; Luther suggests the erection of a
  jail for their especial benefit; Eberlin, Hessus,
  and Cordus, Erasmus and Ickelsamer on the reformed
  pastors’ failings. Eberlin’s testimony in favour of
  the Franciscans                                        _pages_ 115-129

  PRIVATE LIFE (1522-1525).

  The “scandal” of his life as it appeared to the
  Fanatics; displeasure of a Catholic contemporary;
  reports carried to the Court of King Ferdinand; moral
  circumspection imposed on Luther by his situation:
  “we are a spectacle unto the whole world.” Flight
  of Catherine von Bora and the Nimbschen nuns; the
  “delivery” of other convent-inmates elsewhere;
  Luther’s intercourse at Wittenberg with the escaped
  nuns; his allusions to them. His joke about his
  “three wives”; urges the Archbishop of Mayence to
  wed, the latter’s retort and Luther’s offer “to
  prance along in front” as an example to His Grace.
  Some characteristic extracts from his letters to
  intimates. Melanchthon shocked at Luther’s behaviour
  and jests. Dungersheim on Luther’s doings in the
  “herd of runaway nuns.” Eck on Luther’s character
  and conduct. Luther’s sermons on self-control,
  devil’s chastity, etc. “On Conjugal life.” Luther’s
  disregard for decency unmatched by any writer of his
  age. His description of King Henry VIII. Rebuked
  by contemporaries for his incessant recourse to
  invective                                              _pages_ 129-157


  General descriptions of Luther’s personal appearance.
  His reputed portraits not good likenesses. Effect
  of anxiety and overwork on his nervous system.
  Discussion of the question whether Luther suffered
  from the venereal disease so common in his time; the
  newly discovered letter of the physician Rychardus
  in 1523 regarding Luther’s indisposition. Luther’s
  fits of depression; he relieves his feelings by
  greater violence in his attacks on the Church of
  Rome, religious vows, the Popish Mass, and the foe
  within the camp; Satan raging everywhere; the end
  of all not far off. He invites Amsdorf to come and
  comfort him, being “very sad and tempted”; falls
  into a fainting-fit when alone at home; recovers his
  composure under the cheering influence of music;
  requests Senfl of Munich to set to music a favourite
  anthem                                                 _pages_ 157-172

  AUGSBURG (1525-1530) _pages_ 173-399


  Luther’s unexpected wedding with Catherine von Bora;
  his justification of it; Melanchthon’s mixed feelings
  shown in his confidential letter to Camerarius; his
  surprise that Luther should have chosen this “unhappy
  time” (the period of the Peasant-War) for his
  marriage. Luther’s excitement during the War and his
  presentiment of approaching death; his determination
  to spite the devil and himself; his marriage a “work
  of God.” The death of Frederick the Wise removes an
  obstacle to Luther’s matrimony. Luther’s jesting
  references to the step. His friends’ misgivings.
  Erasmus sadly disappointed in his hope that
  marriage would tame Luther. Dungersheim’s lament.
  Marriage-legends: The statement that the marriage was
  consummated before being solemnised, due to a mere
  misunderstanding; report of Bora’s early confinement
  based on a statement of Erasmus which he afterwards
  withdrew. Statements of Heyden and Lemnius regarding
  Luther’s misconduct with Bora, too general to be of
  historical value                                       _pages_ 173-189


  Connection of the Peasant-rising with the new
  preaching. The “Twelve Articles” of the Swabians;
  “Evangelical” demands of the Peasants; the Peasants
  incited by fanatical preachers; efforts made by the
  better pastors to quiet the populace. Luther drawn
  into the movement; his “Exhortation to peace”; its
  description of the lords calculated to fan the flame;
  his broadside “Against the murderous Peasants” and
  its drift: “Hew them down, slaughter, and stab them
  like mad dogs.” The pamphlet alienates the lower
  classes. Luther’s writing on the defeat of Münzer.
  His “Circular letter on the severe booklet against
  the Peasants.” Contemporary opinions regarding
  Luther’s action; Zasius, Cochlæus, Erasmus. Luther’s
  later references to his intervention in the revolt;
  he ceases to be any longer the idol of the people.
  The Catholic Princes take steps to maintain
  their authority against the encroachments of the
  innovators. The Dessau League and the Assembly of
  Mayence. Luther’s suppressed tract “Against the
  Mayence proposal,” 1526. The Lutherans enter into
  an alliance at Torgau; Luther on the aversion of
  both lords and peasants for himself. His abiding
  distrust of the peasants. The “awful ingratitude”
  of the people. His excitement and his polemics only
  deepen his conviction of his Divine mission. Emser’s
  indignation with Luther expressed in verse. The
  multiplicity of the matters of business referred to
  Luther                                                 _pages_ 189-223


  The earlier Church on freedom of the will. Growth
  of Luther’s denial of freedom from the time of the
  Commentary on Romans; his attack on free-will in the
  “Resolutions” after the Leipzig Disputation and in
  the “_Assertio_” against the Bull of Excommunication
  (1521): “_Omnia de necessitate absoluta eveniunt_,”
  anything else mere Pelagianism; St. Augustine; the
  “religion of the Cross”; Scripture the sole rule of
  faith; Luther’s deviations from his stern doctrine
  in his practical works; objections within his own
  fold. Erasmus invited to take the field on behalf
  of freedom; previous attitude of the leader of the
  Humanists: partly for, partly against Luther; his
  eyes opened in 1520; his regret in 1521 for having
  fanned the flames by his writings; the saying:
  “Erasmus laid the egg which Luther hatched”; various
  opinions regarding Erasmus. Luther seeks in vain
  to dissuade Erasmus from writing against him;
  publication of the “_De libero arbitrio diatribe_,”
  1524; Luther’s reply: “_De servo arbitrio_”; contents
  and character of the work; religious determinism;
  God the only real agent; peace to be secured only
  at the price of surrendering free-will; unfreedom
  and predestination to hell; God’s Secret Will versus
  His Revealed Will; existence of commandments and
  penalties; how explained? Man’s will a saddle-horse
  mounted alternately by God and the devil. Luther’s
  psychology as portrayed in his work on the enslaved
  will. Laurentius Valla. Luther’s later dicta on the
  enslaved will and predestination; his own opinion
  unaltered to the end; he commends, however, the
  second edition of the “_Loci Theologici_” in which
  Melanchthon sacrifices determinism. Letter to
  Count A. von Mansfeld on the scandal of the weak;
  consolation for the damned. Recent views on Luther’s
  attitude                                               _pages_ 223-294


  Luther’s own estimation of the value of his teaching
  on the subject. How his views were reached. His book
  “Von welltlicher Uberkeytt,” 1523; his depreciation
  of the Princes: “A good Prince a rare bird from
  the beginning.” Antagonism to the fanatics and
  revolted peasants and his desire to serve the cause
  of the Evangel lead him to exaggerate the secular
  authority at the expense of the spiritual; Luther’s
  self-contradictory utterances on the subject of the
  use of earthly weapons in the service of the Evangel   _pages_ 294-312


  Döllinger on the preparation of the ground for
  the Reformation. The proceedings at Altenburg,
  Lichtenberg, Schwarzburg, and Eilenburg typical of
  the action of the town councils. Partial retention of
  olden ceremonial for the sake of avoiding scandal.
  An instance of misplaced enthusiasm: Hartmuth
  von Cronberg. Proceedings at Wittenberg, in the
  Saxon Electorate and in the free Imperial city of
  Nuremberg. Lutheranism introduced at the University
  town of Erfurt; Luther’s own part in this; the
  Catholic opposition headed by Usingen; anticlerical
  rising in the town; invasion of the peasants and
  overthrow of the magistracy; awkward position of
  Luther on being appealed to by the committees set
  up by the revolutionaries; negotiations with the
  Saxon Elector and the Archbishop of Mayence; partial
  success of the Archbishop’s threats                    _pages_ 312-362


  Advantages accruing to Luther from his warfare
  with the Anabaptists. Thomas Münzer’s opinions and
  doings. Luther’s Circular on the spirit of revolt
  and Münzer’s “Schutzrede”; with whom is the decision
  as to the quality of the spirit to rest? Münzer’s
  capture and execution; Luther exults. Luther’s tracts
  against Carlstadt; all his gainsayers possessed by
  the devil; Münzer’s description of Luther as the Pope
  of Wittenberg. Ickelsamer’s objection that Luther
  goes only half-way with his principle of private
  judgment. Luther’s view that every man sent by God
  must be “tried by the devil.” Luther shocks his wife   _pages_ 363-379

  AND AUGSBURG (1530).

  Previous Diets; the Diet of Spires in 1526; the
  Protest at the Diet of Spires in 1529; that of
  Augsburg in 1530; Melanchthon’s diplomacy approved
  by Luther; “_insidiæ_” pitted against “_insidiæ_”;
  the Gospel-proviso; Luther’s admission to Philip of
  Hesse; failure of the Augsburg Diet; the tale of the
  spectre-monks of Spires; Luther’s obsessions in the
  fortress of Coburg; vehemence of his tract against
  the “pretended Imperial edict”; his reply to Duke
  George the “Dresden assassin.” Luther’s fidelity to
  certain central truths of Christianity, particularly
  to the doctrine of the Trinity                         _pages_ 380-399

                               VOL. II.

                             THE APOSTASY




1. Allies among the Humanists and the Nobility till the middle of 1520

AS his work progressed the instigator of the innovations received
offers of support from various quarters where aims similar to his were

In the first place there were many among the Humanists who greeted him
with joy because they trusted that their ideals, as expressed in the
“_Epistolæ obscurorum virorum_,” would really be furthered by means of
Luther’s boldness and energy. They took his side because they looked
upon him as a champion of intellectual liberty and thus as a promoter
of noble, humane culture against the prevalent barbarism.

Erasmus, Mutian, Crotus Rubeanus, Eobanus Hessus and others were
numbered amongst his patrons, though, as in the case of the first
three, some of them forsook him at a later date. Most of the Humanists
who sought, in verse and prose, to arouse enthusiasm for Luther in
Germany were as yet unaware that the spirit of the man whom they
were thus extolling differed considerably from their own, and that
Luther would later become one of the sternest opponents of their views
concerning the rights of reason and “humanity” as against faith.
Meanwhile, however, Luther not only did not scorn the proffered
alliance, but, as his letters to Erasmus show, condescended to crave
favour in language so humble and flattering that it goes far beyond
the customary protestations usual among the Humanists. He also drew
some very promising Humanists into close relation with himself, for
instance, Philip Melanchthon and Justus Jonas, whom he won over to his
cause at an early date. Crotus Rubeanus, the principal author of the
“_Epistolæ obscurorum virorum_,” sought to renew his old acquaintance
with his friend by letter in October, 1519. To him Luther appeared
as the man of whose courage in opposing tyrants all the world was
talking, and who was filled with the Spirit of the Lord. Crotus, at
the instigation of Hutten, was anxious to bring about an understanding
between Luther and the Knight Franz von Sickingen.[1]

The nobility was another important factor on whose support Luther was
later to rely.

Ulrich von Hutten, the Franconian Knight and Humanist, a typical
representative of the revolutionary knights of the day, speaks to the
Monk of Wittenberg in the same devout terms as Crotus. The language,
well padded with quotations from the Gospel, which he adopts to please
Luther and the Reformers, makes a very strange impression coming from
him, the libertine and cynic. His first dealings with Luther were in
January, 1520, when, through the agency of Melanchthon, he promised
him armed protection should he stand in need of such. The message was
to the effect, that Franz von Sickingen, the knight, would, in any
emergency,[2] offer him a secure refuge in his castle of Ebernburg.
As a matter of fact Sickingen, in 1520, made over this castle--called
the “Hostel of Justice”--to Hutten, Bucer and Œcolampadius as a place
of safety. Representatives of the nobility who had fallen foul of the
Empire there made common cause with the theologians of the new teaching.

As yet, however, Luther felt himself sufficiently secure under his
own sovereign at Wittenberg. He maintained an attitude of reserve
towards a party which might have compromised him, and delayed giving
his answer. The revolutionary spirit which inspired the nobility
throughout the Empire, so far as we can judge from the sources at our
disposal, was not approved of by Luther save in so far as the efforts
of these unscrupulous men of the sword were directed against the
power of Rome in Germany, and against the payments to the Holy See.
His own appeals to the national feeling of the Germans against the
“Italian Oppression,” as he styled it, were in striking agreement with
the warlike proclamations of the Knights against the enslaving and
exploitation of Germany.

Thus sympathy, as well as a certain community of interests, made the
Knights heralds of the new Evangel.

In February, 1520, Hutten, through the intermediary of Melanchthon,
again called the attention of Luther, “God’s Champion,” to the refuge
offered him by Sickingen.[3] Luther did not reply until May, nor has
the letter been preserved; neither do we possess the three following
letters which he wrote to Hutten. Cochlæus, his opponent, says, he had
seen “truly bloody letters” written by Luther to Hutten.[4] He does
not, however, give any further particulars of their contents; how the
words “bloody letters”--probably an unduly strong expression--are to be
understood may be gathered from some statements of Luther’s regarding
another offer made him about the same time.

The Knight Silvester von Schauenberg, a determined warrior, at that
time High Bailiff of Münnerstadt, declared he was ready to furnish
one hundred nobles who would protect him by force of arms until the
termination of his “affair.”[5] Luther made Schauenberg’s letter
known amongst his friends and adherents. He informs Spalatin, that
“Schauenberg and Franz von Sickingen have insured me against the fear
of men. The wrath of the demons is now about to come; this will happen
when I become a burden to myself.”[6] “A hundred nobles,” he repeats in
another letter, “have been promised me by Schauenberg in the event of
my fleeing to them from the menaces of the Romans. Franz Sickingen has
made the same offer.”[7]

He had already, several months before this, spoken openly in his sermon
“On Good Works” (March, 1520) of the intervention of the worldly powers
which he would like to see, because the spiritual powers do nothing
but lead everything to ruin.[8]

Hutten, who was more favourably disposed towards an alliance than
Luther, continued to make protestations of agreement with Luther’s
views and to hold out invitations to him. On June 4 he wrote to him
among other things: “I have always agreed with you [in your writings]
so far as I have understood them. You can reckon on me in any case.”
“Therefore, in future, you may venture to confide all your plans to
me.”[9] In another letter Hutten gave him to understand that, on
account of the action of the Papal party, he would now attack the
tyrant of Rome by force of arms,[10] at the same time informing also
the Archbishop of Mayence, and Capito, of his resolution.[11] Luther
was so carried away by this prospect that he wrote to Spalatin that
if the Archbishop of Mayence were to proceed against him (Luther)
in the same way as he had done against Hutten, viz. by prohibiting
his writings, then he would “unite his spirit [meaning his pen] with
Hutten’s,” and the Archbishop would have little cause to rejoice; the
latter, however, “by his behaviour would probably put a speedy end to
his tyranny.”[12]

In the autumn of 1520 it was said that, near Mayence, Hutten had fallen
upon the Papal Nuncios Marinus Caraccioli and Hieronymus Aleander, who
were on their way to the Diet at Worms; Luther believed the report,
which was as a matter of fact incorrect, that Hutten had attacked the
Nuncios and that it was only by chance that the plot miscarried. “I am
glad,” he wrote at that time, “that Hutten has led the way. Would that
he had caught Marinus and Aleander!”[13]

Luther’s threats to use brute force soon became a cause of annoyance,
even to certain of his admirers. We see this from a friendly warning
which Wolfgang Capito addressed to him in the same year, namely,
1520. After recommending a peaceable course of action he says to him:
“You affright your devoted followers by hinting at mercenaries and
arms. I think I understand the reason of your plan, but I myself look
upon it in a different light.” Capito advises Luther to proceed in a
conciliatory manner and with deliberation. “Do not preach the Word of
Christ in contention, but in charity.”[14]

He had thus been forewarned when he received from Hutten, that
turbulent combatant, a confidential account of his work and a request
to use his influence with the Elector in order that the latter might
be induced to lend his assistance to him and his party; the Prince
was “either to give help to those who had already taken up arms or at
least, in the interests of the good cause, to shut his eyes to what
was going on, and allow them to take refuge in his domains should
the condition of things call for it.”[15] Hutten, with his proposed
alliance, became more and more importunate. To such lengths Luther
was, however, not inclined to go; he prized too highly the favour
in which he stood with his sovereign to be willing to admit that he
was in favour of civil war or a supporter of questionable elements.
In his reply he thought it necessary to declare himself averse to
the use of arms, notwithstanding the fact that he hailed with joy
Hutten’s literary attacks which, according to his own expression,
“would help to overthrow the Papacy more speedily than could have been
anticipated.”[16] We learn from his own lips that he wrote to Hutten,
saying, “he did not wish to carry on the struggle for the Gospel by
means of violence and murder.” Writing of this to his friend Spalatin,
at Worms, he adds a reflection, intended for the benefit of the court:
“The world has been conquered, and the Church preserved by the Word,
and through the Word it will be renewed. Antichrist who rose to power
without human assistance will also be destroyed without human means,
namely, by the Word.”[17]

On the other hand, in a letter to Staupitz, who was already at that
time staying at Salzburg, he again makes much of the importance of
Hutten’s and his friends’ literary work for the advance of the new
teaching. “Hutten and many others are writing bravely for me.... Our
Prince,” he adds, “is acting wisely, faithfully and steadfastly,” and
as a proof of the favour of the Ruler of the land he mentions that
he is bringing out a certain publication in Latin and German at his

“The Prince is acting faithfully and steadfastly,” such was probably
the principal reason why Luther refrained from joining the forward
movement as advocated by the Knights of the Empire. The clever Elector
was opposed to any violent method of procedure and was unwilling to
have his fidelity to the Empire unnecessarily called in question.
To Luther, moreover, his favour was indispensable, as it was of the
utmost importance to him, in the interests of his aims, to be able
to continue his professional work at Wittenberg and to spread abroad
his publications unhindered from so favourable a spot. He was also
not of such an adventurous disposition as to anticipate great things
from the chimerical enterprise proposed by Hutten’s Knights. He was,
however, aware that the religious revolution he was furthering lent
the strongest moral assistance to the liberal tendencies of the
Knights, and he on his part was very well satisfied with the moral
help afforded by their party. His coquetting with this party was,
nevertheless, a dangerous game for Germany. As is well known, Sickingen
appealed in exoneration of his deeds of violence, and Hutten in defence
of his vituperation, to the new gospel which had recently sprung up in
the German land.

Efforts have frequently been made to represent Luther as treating the
efforts of the party opposed to the Empire with sublime contempt.
But it is certain “he was as little indifferent to the enthusiastic
applause of the Franconian Knight [Hutten] as to the offers of
protection and defence made him by Franz von Sickingen and Silvester
von Schauenberg, the favourable criticism of Erasmus and other
Humanists, the encouraging letters of the Bohemian Utraquists, the
growing sympathy of German clerics and monks, the commotion among the
young students, and the news of the growing excitement amongst the
masses. He recognised more and more clearly from all these signs that
he was not standing alone.”[19]

His language becomes, in consequence, stronger, his action bolder and
more impetuous. He casts aside all scruples of ecclesiastical reverence
for the primacy of Peter which still clung to him from Catholic times
and he seeks to arrogate to himself the rôle of spokesman of the
German nation, more particularly of the universal discontent with the
exactions of Rome. Both are vividly expressed in his book “Von dem
Bapstum tzu Rome” which he wrote in May, 1520, and which left the press
already in June.

 He addressed his book “Von dem Bapstum tzu Rome” to a very large
 circle, viz. to all who hitherto had found peace of conscience and
 a joyous assurance of salvation in fidelity to the Church and the
 Papacy. He sought to prove to them that they had been mistaken,
 that the Church is merely a purely spiritual kingdom; that the
 riches of this kingdom are to be obtained simply by faith without
 the intervention of priestly authority or the hierarchy; that God’s
 Kingdom is not bound up with communion with Rome; that it exists
 wherever faith exercises its sway; that such a spiritual commonwealth
 could have no man as its head, but only Christ. Ecclesiastical
 authority is to him no longer what he had at first represented it,
 an authority to rule entrusted to the clerical state, but a gracious
 promise of Divine forgiveness and mercy to consciences seeking
 salvation. His new dogmatic or psychological standpoint, with its
 tendency to tranquillise the soul, is noticeable throughout.

 In the same work he deals angrily with the prevailing financial
 complaints of the Germans against Rome. He tells the people, in the
 inflammatory language of Hutten and Sickingen, that in Rome the
 Germans are looked upon as beasts, that the object there is to cheat
 the “drunken Germans” of their money by every possible thievish trick
 from motives of avarice. “Unless the German princes and nobles see
 to it presently, Germany will end in becoming a desert, or be forced
 to devour itself.”[20] A prediction which was sadly verified in a
 different sense, indeed, from that which Luther meant, though largely
 owing to his action. The German princes and nobles did indeed do their
 share in reducing Germany to a state of desolation, and the misery of
 the Thirty Years’ War stamped its bloody seal on Luther’s involuntary

In the same year, 1520, Luther hurled his so-called “great reforming
writings,” “An den Adel” and “_De captivitate babylonica_,” into the
thick of the controversy. They mark the crisis in the struggle before
the publication of the Bull of Excommunication.

Before treating of them, however, we must linger a little on what has
already been considered; in accordance with the special psychological
task of this work, it is our duty to describe more fully one
characteristic of Luther’s action up to this time, viz. the stormy,
violent, impetuous tendency of his mind. This, as every unprejudiced
person will agree, is in striking contrast to the spiritual character
of any undertaking which is to bring forth lasting ethical results and
true blessing, namely, to that self-control and circumspection with
which all those men commissioned by God for the salvation of mankind
and of souls have ever been endowed, notwithstanding their strenuous

 The necessity of these latter qualities, in the case of one who is
 to achieve any permanent good, has never been better set forth than
 by Luther himself: “It is not possible,” he says in his exposition
 of the Lord’s Prayer, “that any man of good will, if really good,
 can become angry or quarrelsome when he meets with opposition. Mark
 it well, it is assuredly a sign of an evil will if he cannot endure
 contradiction.”[21] “But deep-seated pride cannot bear to be thought
 in the wrong, or foolish, and therefore looks upon all others as fools
 and wicked.”[22] He declares that these passionate and self-seeking
 men are the “worst and most shameful in the whole of Christendom,”
 forgetting that he himself was classed by his contemporaries and
 pupils among these very men.[23] If he really was desirous of hearing
 the voice of Christ speaking within him, as he actually believed
 he did hear it, then he ought not to have allowed that voice to be
 drowned by his passionate excitement. Men chosen by God had always
 been careful to await the Divine inspirations with the greatest
 composure of mind, because they knew well how easy it is for a
 troubled mind to be deaf to them, or to mistake for them the deceptive
 voice of its own perverse will.

 The writing already mentioned, “Von dem Bapstum tzu Rome,” contains
 the saddest examples of Luther’s unbridled excitement, and of the
 irritation which burst into a flame at the least opposition to his

 It is directed against the worthy theologian of Leipzig, Augustine
 Alveld, a Franciscan, who had ventured to take the part of the
 Apostolic See, and to gauge Luther’s unfair attacks at their
 true value. Luther falls upon this learned friar with absolutely
 ungovernable fury, calls his book the “work of an ape, intended to
 poison the minds of the poor laymen,” and him himself “an uncouth
 miller’s beast who has not yet learnt to bray.” “He ought to have
 too much respect for the fine, famous town of Leipzig [whence Alveld
 wrote] to defile it with his drivel and spittle.”[24]

 Alveld, however, may have consoled himself with the fact, that Rome
 and the Papacy were the object of Luther’s wildest rage: “The Roman
 scoundrels come along and set the Pope above Christ.” But he is
 “Antichrist of whom the whole of Scripture speaks ... and I should be
 glad if the King, the Princes and all the Nobles gave short shrift to
 the Roman buffoons, even if we had to do without episcopal pallia. How
 has Roman avarice proceeded so far as to seize on the foundations made
 by our fathers, on our bishoprics and livings? Who ever heard or read
 of such robbery? Have we not people who stand in need of such that we
 should enrich the muleteers, stable-boys, yea, even the prostitutes
 and knaves of Rome out of our poverty, people who look upon us as the
 merest fools, and who mock at us in the most shameful fashion.”[25]

 Such unrestrained violence, which tells of a bad cause, is not merely
 the result of Luther’s embittered state of feeling arising from the
 struggle with his opponents; we notice it in him almost from the
 outset of his public career, and it is evident both in his utterances
 and in his writings.

 The ninety-five Theses, of which the wording was surely strong
 enough, were followed by his first popular writing, the “Sermon on
 Indulgences and Grace,” which ends with a furious outburst against
 his adversaries; whatever they might advance was nothing but “idle
 tattle”; he will not “pay much heed to it”; “they are merely dullards
 who have never so much as sniffed the Bible,” but are infatuated
 with their “threadbare opinions.”[26] The exclamation of Duke George
 of Saxony at the Disputation at Leipzig: “Das wallt die Sucht,” might
 be taken as the watchword for the whole of the disputatious and
 passionate course Luther pursued, from the nailing up of the Theses
 to the advent of the Bull of Excommunication. It is not deliberate
 and calm logic which leads him on from step to step, rather he
 advances by leaps and bounds, and allows himself to be carried away
 in his excitement against his opponents to still stronger outbursts
 against the Church, sometimes, it is true, merely for the pleasure
 of trouncing his enemies and winning the applause of readers as
 quarrelsome as himself. Only a few months after the publication of
 the Theses, he wrote in this sense to a friend: “The greater the
 opposition, the further I advance; the former propositions I leave to
 be barked over, and set up others in order that they may fall upon
 them also.”[27]

 At the same time, however, he declares that his only crime is that,
 “he teaches men to place their hopes in Christ alone, not in prayers,
 merits and works.”[28]

 The Dominican, Silvester Prierias, in his Dialogue directed against
 Luther, had touched upon the Indulgence Theses, though only cursorily;
 Luther was, however, intensely annoyed by the circumstance of his
 having replied from Rome, and in his character of Master of the Sacred
 Palace, for that Luther’s true character should be unmasked at Rome
 could prove extremely dangerous to him; he was also vexed because
 Prierias upheld the authority of the Pope, both as regards indulgences
 and Church matters in general. Luther says, it is true, that as
 regards his own person he is ready to suffer anything, but that he
 will not allow any man to lay hands on his theological standpoint, his
 exposition of Scripture and (as he insists later) on his preaching
 of the Word and Gospel; “in this matter let no man expect from me
 indulgence or patience.”[29]

 He certainly proved the truth of the latter promise by his first
 coarse writing against Prierias, who thereupon entered the lists with
 a rejoinder certainly not characterised by gentleness. In his answer
 to this, Luther’s anger knew no bounds. It would be most instructive
 and interesting to compare the two replies of the Wittenberg professor
 in respect of the advance in his controversial theological position
 exhibited in the second reply when placed side by side with the first.
 We must, however, for the sake of brevity, content ourselves with
 selecting some characteristic passages from Luther’s second reply,
 which appeared at the same time as the work on the Papacy, directed
 against Alveld.[30]

 “This wretched man wants to avenge himself on me as though I had
 replied to his feeble jests in a ridiculous manner; he puts forth a
 writing filled from top to bottom with horrible blasphemies, so that I
 can only think this work has been forged by the devil himself in the
 depths of hell. If this is believed and taught openly in Rome with the
 knowledge of the Pope and the Cardinals, which I hope is not the case,
 then I say and declare publicly that the real Antichrist is seated in
 the Temple of God and reigns at Rome, the true Babylon ‘clothed in
 purple’ (Apoc. xvii. 4), and that the Roman Court is the ‘Synagogue of
 Satan’ (_Ibid._, ii. 9).” He unjustly imputes to Prierias the belief
 that the Bible only receives its inward value from a mortal man (the
 Pope). “Oh, Satan,” he cries, “Oh, Satan, how long do you abuse the
 great patience of your creator?... If this [what is contained in
 Prierias’s book] is the faith of the Roman Church, then happy Greece,
 happy Bohemia [which are separated from Rome], happy all those who
 have torn themselves away from her, and have gone forth from this
 Babylon; cursed all those who are in communion with her!”

 He goes so far as to utter those burning words: “Go, then, thou
 unhappy, damnable and blasphemous Rome, God’s wrath has at last
 come upon thee ... let her be that she may become a dwelling-place
 of dragons, an habitation of every impure spirit (Isaias xxxiv.
 13), filled to the brim with miserly idols, perjurers, apostates,
 sodomites, priapists, murderers, simoniacs and other countless
 monsters, a new house of impiety like to the heathen Pantheon of olden
 days.” He inveighs against the teaching of Rome with regard to the
 primacy; “if thieves are punished by the rope, murderers by the sword,
 and heretics by fire, why not proceed against these noxious teachers
 of destruction with every kind of weapon? Happy the Christians
 everywhere save those under the rule of such a Roman Antichrist.”[31]
 Prierias himself is described by Luther as a “shameless mouthpiece of
 Satan,” and as “a scribe held captive in Thomistic darkness, and lying
 Papal Decretals.”

 In a similar fashion Luther, in his controversial writings, heaps
 opprobrious epithets upon his other opponents, Tetzel, Eck and Emser.

 It is true that in their censures on Luther his opponents were not
 backward in the use of strong language, thus following the custom of
 the day, but for fierceness the Wittenberg professor was not to be

 Luther was not appealing to the nobler impulses of the multitude who
 favoured him when, in 1518, he sought to incite his readers against
 another of his literary opponents, the Dominican Inquisitor, Jakob
 van Hoogstraaten, and his fellow-monks, with the violent assertion
 that Hoogstraaten was nothing but a “mad, bloodthirsty murderer,
 who was never sated with the blood of the Christian Brethren”; “he
 ought to be set to hunt for dung-beetles on a manure heap, rather
 than to pursue pious Christians, until he had learned what sin,
 error and heresy was, and all else that pertained to the office of
 an Inquisitor. For I have never seen a bigger ass than you ... you
 blind blockhead, you blood-hound, you bitter, furious, raving enemy of
 truth, than whom no more pestilential heretic has arisen for the last
 four hundred years.”[32] Is it correct to characterise such outbursts
 in the way Protestants have done when they mildly remark, that Luther
 fought with “boldness and without any fear of men,” and that, though
 his onslaught was “fierce and violent,” yet he was ever fearful “lest
 he should do anything contrary to the Will of God”?[33]

 Luther, on the other hand, as early as 1518, made the admission: “I
 am altogether a man of strife, I am, according to the words of the
 Prophet Jeremias, ‘A man of contentions.’”[34]

Hieronymus Emser, who had met Luther at the Leipzig Disputation and
before, might well reproach him with his passionate behaviour, so
utterly lacking in calmness and self-control, and liken him to “the
troubled sea which is never at rest day or night nor allows others to
be at peace; yet the Spirit of the Lord only abides in those who are
humble, in the peaceable and composed.”[35] In another work he laments
in a similar way that, “in the schools and likewise in his writings
and in the pulpit Luther neither displays devotion nor behaves like a
clergyman, but is all defiance and boastfulness.”[36]

It was in vain that anxious friends, troubled about the progress of
their common enterprise, besought him to moderate his language. It is
true he had admitted to his fellow-monks, even as early as the time
of the nailing up of his theses, his own “frivolous precipitancy and
rashness” (“_levitas et præceps temeritas_”).[37] He did not even find
it too hard a task to confess to the courtier Spalatin, that he had
been “unnecessarily violent” in his writings.[38] But these were mere
passing admissions, and, after the last passage, he goes on to explain
that his opponents knew him, and should know better than to rouse
the hound; ... “he was by nature hot-blooded and his pen was easily
irritated”; even if his own hot blood and customary manner of writing
had not of themselves excited him, the thought of his opponents and
their “horrible crimes” against himself and the Word of God would have
been sufficient to do so.

Such was his self-confidence that it was not merely easy to him, but
a veritable pleasure, to attack all theologians of every school; they
were barely able to spell out the Bible. “Doctors, Universities,
Masters, are mere empty titles of which one must not stand in awe.”[39]

2. The Veiling of the Great Apostasy

Besides his stormy violence another psychological trait noticeable
in Luther is the astuteness with which he conceals the real nature
of his views and aims from his superiors both clerical and lay, and
his efforts at least to strengthen the doubts favourable to him
regarding his attitude to the hierarchy and the Church as it then was.
Particularly in important passages of his correspondence we find,
side by side with his call to arms, conciliatory, friendly and even
submissive assurances.

The asseverations of this sort which he made to his Bishop, to the
Pope, to the Emperor and to the Elector are really quite surprising,
considering the behaviour of the Wittenberg Professor. In such cases
Luther is deliberately striving to represent the quarrel otherwise than
it really stood.

If the cause he advocated had in very truth been a great and honourable
one, then it imperatively called for frank and honest action on his

The consequence of his peaceable assurances was to postpone the
decision on a matter of far-reaching importance to religion and the
Christian conscience. Many who did not look below the surface were
unaware how they stood, and an inevitable result of such statements of
Luther’s was, that, in the eyes of many even among the nobles and the
learned, the great question whether he was right or wrong remained too
long undecided. He thus gained numerous followers from the ranks of
the otherwise well-disposed, and, of these, many, after the true aims
of the movement had become apparent, failed to retrace their steps.

In fairness, however, all the means by which the delay of the
negotiations was brought about must not be laid to Luther’s charge,
and to his intentional misrepresentations. It is more probable that
he frequently assumed an attitude of indecision because, to his
excited mind, the stress of unforeseen events, which affected him
personally, seemed to justify his use of so strange an expedient. Be
this as it may, we must make a distinction between his actions at the
various periods of his agitated life; the further his tragic history
approaches the complete and open breach which was the result of his
excommunication, the less claim to belief have his assurances of peace,
whereas his earlier protestations may at least sometimes be accorded
the benefit of a doubt.

To the assurances dating from the earlier stage belong in the first
place those made to his Ordinary, Hieronymus Scultetus, Bishop of
Brandenburg. To him on May 22, 1518, he forwarded, together with a
flattering letter, a copy of his “Resolutions,” in order that they
might be examined.[40]

 “New dogmas,” he states, have just recently been preached regarding
 indulgences; urged by some who had been annoyed by them to give a
 strong denial of such doctrines, but being at the same time desirous
 of sparing the good reputation of the preachers--for upon it their
 work depended--he had decided to deal with the matter in a purely
 disputatory form, the more so as it was a difficult one, however
 untenable the position of his opponents might be; scholastics and
 canonists could be trusted only when they quoted arguments in defence
 of their teaching, more particularly from Holy Scripture. No one
 had, however, answered his challenge or ventured to meet him at a
 disputation. The Theses, on the other hand, had been bruited abroad
 beyond his expectations, and were also being regarded as actual truths
 which he had advocated. “Contrary to his hopes and wishes,” he had
 therefore been obliged, “as a child and ignoramus in theology,” to
 explain himself further (in the Resolutions). He did not, however,
 wish obstinately to insist upon anything contained in the latter, much
 being problematic, yea, even false. He laid everything he had said
 at the feet of Holy Church and his Bishop; he might strike out what
 he pleased, or consign the entire scribble to the flames. “I know
 well that Christ has no need of me; He proclaims salvation to the
 Church without me, and least of all does He stand in need of great
 sinners.... My timidity would have kept me for ever in my quiet corner
 had not the presumption and unwisdom of those who invent new gospels
 been carried so far.”

When Bishop Scultetus thereupon declared himself against the
publication of the Resolutions, Luther promised to obey; he even
made this known to those about the Elector, through Spalatin the
Court-preacher. On August 21, 1518, the work nevertheless appeared. Had
Luther really been “released” from his promise, as has been assumed by
one writer in default of any better explanation?[41]

Let us consider more closely Luther’s letter to Pope Leo X, which
has already been referred to cursorily (vol. i., p. 335). As is well
known, it accompanied the copy of the Resolutions which, with singular
daring, and regardless of the challenge involved in their errors, he
had dedicated to the Supreme Teacher of Christendom.[42] Luther had
lavished flattery on his Bishop, but here he surpasses himself in
expressions of cringing humility.

 He prostrates himself at the feet of the Pope with all that he has and
 is; it is for His Holiness to make him alive, or kill him, to summon
 or dismiss, approve or reprove, according to his good pleasure; his
 voice he will acknowledge as the voice of Christ, and willingly die
 should he be deserving of death. He is “unlearned, stupid and ignorant
 in this our enlightened age,” nothing but dire necessity compels
 him, so he says, “to cackle like a goose among the swans.” “The most
 impious and heretical doctrines” of the indulgence preachers have
 called him forth as the defender of truth, indeed of the Papal dignity
 which is being undermined by avaricious money-makers; by means of the
 Disputation he had merely sought to learn from his brothers, and was
 never more surprised than at the way in which the Theses had become
 known, whereas this had not been the case with his other Disputations.
 Retract he cannot; he has, however, written the Resolutions in his
 justification, from which all may learn how honestly and openly he is
 devoted to the Power of the Keys. The publication of the Resolutions
 “under the shield of the Papal name and the shadow of the Pope’s
 protection [Luther is here alluding to the dedication] renders his
 safety assured.”

As a matter of fact, the principal result of the dedication to the Pope
was a wider dissemination of the work among the learned, Luther’s
Bishop, the weak and uninformed Scultetus of Brandenburg, being
likewise hindered from taking any action against his unruly subject.
The move, if it really was intentional, had been well thought out.

After a lengthy delay Luther, in accordance with his promise to
Miltitz, drafted a second letter to Pope Leo X, on January 5 or 6,

 He, “the off-scouring of humanity, and a mere speck of dust,” here
 declares, as he had done shortly before at Augsburg, that he cannot
 retract; since his writings are already so widely known and have met
 with so much support, a retractation would, he says, be useless, and
 indeed rather injure the reputation of Rome among the learned in
 Germany. He would never have believed, so he says, that his efforts
 for the honour of the Apostolic See could have led to his incurring
 the suspicion of the Pope; he will, nevertheless, be silent in
 future on the question of indulgences, if silence is also imposed
 upon his opponents; indeed, he will publish “a work which shall make
 all see that they must hold the Roman Church in honour, and not lay
 the foolishness of his opponents to her charge, nor imitate his own
 slashing language against the Church of Rome,” for he is “absolutely
 convinced that her power is above everything, and that nothing in
 Heaven or on earth is to be preferred to her, excepting only our Lord
 Jesus Christ.” This letter was not sent off, probably because it
 occasioned Miltitz some scruples.[44] In any case, it is a document of
 considerable interest.

Luther assumes an entirely different tone in the historic third and
last letter to Leo X, with which, in 1520, he prefaced his work “Von
der Freyheyt eynes Christen Menschen”; this letter was really written
after October 13 of that same year.[45]

 The very date of the letter has a history. It was published by Luther
 in Latin and German, with the fictitious date of September 6. The
 questionable expedient of ante-dating this letter had been adopted
 by Luther to satisfy the diplomatist Miltitz, and was due to the
 necessity of taking into account the Papal Bull condemning Luther,
 which had already been published on September 21, 1520; thereby it was
 hoped to avoid all appearance of this letter having been wrung from
 Luther by the publication of the Bull. This was what Miltitz[46] wrote
 at a time when he still entertained sanguine hopes of what the letter
 might achieve in the interests of the Pope and peace.[47] Luther, for
 his part, looked on the antedated letter as a manifesto which might
 considerably weaken, and to his advantage, the effect of the Bull on
 public opinion. The vehement blame therein contained regarding the
 corruption of the Roman Church ought surely to lessen the authority
 of the excommunication, while the loud appreciation of the person
 and good qualities of Leo would naturally cause the author of the
 excommunication (supposing it to have been published subsequently to
 the letter) to appear either ungrateful, or misled by others.

 The Roman Church, in the words of this letter, has become the “most
 horrible Sodom and Babylon,” a “den of murderers worse than any other,
 a haunt of iniquity surpassing all others, the head and empire of sin,
 of death and of damnation, so that it would be impossible to imagine
 any increase in her wickedness even were Antichrist to come in person.
 Yet you, Holy Father Leo, are seated like a sheep among the wolves,
 like a Daniel amidst the lions”; Pope Leo, the author goes on to
 assert with unblushing effrontery, is much to be pitied, for it is the
 hardest lot of all that a man of his disposition should have to live
 in the midst of such things; Leo would do well to abdicate. He himself
 (Luther) had never undertaken any evil against his person; indeed,
 he only wished him well, and, so far as lay in him, had attempted
 to assist him and the Roman Church with all his might by diligent,
 heartfelt prayer. But “with the Roman See all is over; God’s endless
 wrath has come upon it; this See is opposed to General Councils, and
 will not permit itself to be reformed; let this Babylon then rush
 headlong to its own destruction!”

 After this follow renewed protestations of his peaceableness
 throughout the whole struggle from the very beginning, attempts to
 justify the strong language he had later on used against thick-headed
 and irreligious adversaries, for which he deserved the “favour and
 thanks” of the Pope, and descriptions of the wiles of Eck who, at
 the Leipzig disputation, had picked up some “insignificant chance
 expression concerning the Papacy” so as to ruin him at Rome.
 This, of course, was all intended to weaken the impression of the
 excommunication on the public. Another bold assertion of his, of
 which the object was the same, ran: “That I should retract what I
 have taught is out of the question ... I will not suffer any check or
 bridle to be placed on the Word of God which teaches entire freedom,
 and neither can nor may be bound.” “I am ready to yield to every man
 in all things, but the Word of God I cannot and will not forsake or

Luther also approached the Emperor Charles V in a letter addressed
to him at the time when Rome was about to take action. He begged the
Emperor to protect him, entirely innocent as he was, against the
machinations of his enemies, especially as he had been dragged into the
struggle against his will. The letter was written August 30, 1520,[48]
and safely reached the Emperor, possibly through the good offices of
Sickingen; when it was again submitted at the Diet of Worms such was
Charles’s indignation that he tore the missive to pieces.

In order rightly to appreciate its contents we must keep in mind
that Luther had it printed and published in a Latin version in 1520,
together with an “Oblation or Protestation” to readers of every tongue,
wherein he offers them on the title-page his “unworthy prayers,” and
assures them of his humble submission to the Holy Catholic Church, as
whose devoted son he was determined to live and die.[49] Nevertheless,
at the end of August[50] part of his work “On the Babylonian Captivity
of the Church” already stood in print, in which, at the very
commencement, the Papacy is declared to be the Kingdom of Babylon and
the empire of Nimrod, the mighty hunter, and in which, as a matter of
fact, an end is made of the whole hierarchy and Church visible.

Luther’s Prince, the Elector Frederick, had grave misgivings concerning
the hot-headed agitator who had fixed his residence at the University
of Wittenberg, though, hitherto, thanks to the influence of Spalatin,
his Court Chaplain, he had extended to Luther his protection and
clemency. Both the Emperor, who was altogether Catholic in his views,
and the laws of the Empire, called for the greatest caution on his
part; were the Church’s rights enforced as the imperial law allowed,
then Luther was doomed. It was by the express advice of the Elector
that Luther drew up the above-mentioned letter to Charles V and the
pious “Protestation.” It was to these documents that the astute Elector
appealed when, towards the end of August, he warned his agent at Rome,
Teutleben, of the ostensibly dangerous disturbances which might result
in Germany from any violent action against Luther unless he had been
previously confuted by “strong and veracious proofs and statements
clearly set forth in writing.”[51] This letter too had Luther himself
for its author, Spalatin having, as usual, acted as intermediary.
Spalatin in fact received both documents from him beforehand for

 After these few words regarding the object and origin of the
 celebrated letter to the Emperor, we may go on to quote some of the
 statements it contains. Luther, at the commencement, protests that he
 presents himself before Charles “like a flea before the King of kings,
 who reigns over all.” “It was against my will that I came before the
 public, I wrote only because others traitorously forced me to it by
 violence and cunning; never did I desire anything but to remain in the
 retirement of my cell. My conscience and the best men bear me witness
 that I have merely endeavoured to defend the truth of the Gospel
 against the opinions introduced by superstitious traditions. For three
 years I have, in consequence, been exposed to every kind of insult
 and danger. In vain did I beg for pardon, offer to be silent, propose
 conditions of peace, and request enlightenment. I am, nevertheless,
 persecuted, the sole object being to stamp out the Gospel along with

 Things being thus, “prostrate before him,” he begs the Emperor to
 protect, not indeed one who lies “poor and helpless in the dust,”
 but, at least, the treasure of truth, since he, the greatest
 secular sovereign, has been entrusted with the temporal sword for
 the maintenance of truth and the restraint of wickedness; as for
 himself, he only desired to be called to account in a fair manner,
 and to see his teaching either properly refuted, or duly accepted by
 all. He was ready to betake himself to any public disputation, so
 he declares in the “Protestation,” and would submit to the decision
 of any unprejudiced University; he would present himself before any
 judges, saintly or otherwise, clerical or lay, provided only they
 were just, and that he was given state protection and a safe conduct.
 If they were able to convince him by proofs from Holy Scripture,
 he would become a humble pupil, and obediently relinquish an
 enterprise undertaken--this, at least, he would assert without undue
 self-exaltation--only for the honour of God, the salvation of souls
 and the good of Christianity, simply because he was a doctor, and
 without any hope of praise or profit.

This manifesto was sufficient to satisfy the Elector Frederick. The
growing esteem in which Luther was held and the delay in the settlement
of his case served admirably Frederick’s purpose of making himself less
dependent on the Emperor and Empire. Calculation and politics thus
played their part in an affair which to some extent they shaped.

At a later date, it is true, Luther asserted in the preface to his
Latin works, that his success had been the result only of Heaven’s
visible protection; that he had quietly “awaited the decision of the
Church and the Holy Ghost”; only one thing, namely, the Catechism, he
had been unable to see condemned by the interference of Rome; to deny
Christ he could never consent. He was willing to confess his former
weaknesses “in order that--to speak like Paul--men may not esteem me
for something more than I am, but as a simple man.”[53]

From the pulpit, too, where honest truth usually finds expression,
he declared that it was not violence or human effort or wisdom that
had crowned his cause with the laurels of victory, but God alone: “I
studied God’s Word and preached and wrote on it; beyond this I did
nothing. The Word of God did much while I slept, or drank Wittenberg
beer with my Philip [Melanchthon] and Amsdorf, so that Popery has been
weakened and suffered more than from the attacks of any Prince or
Emperor. I did nothing; everything was achieved and carried out by the
Word.”[54] His object here is to oppose the violence and fanaticism of
the Anabaptists, and, if he points out to them that he has achieved
his mighty work without force of arms, and that the great success of
his movement was out of all proportion to the means he could employ as
professor and preacher--the truth being that his success was chiefly
due to the circumstances of the time--there is much in his contention.

In the circle of his friends, at a later date, he thus expressed
his conviction: “I did not begin the difficult business of my own
initiative ... rather it was God who led me in a wonderful manner....
All happened in accordance with God’s will.”[55] “I thought I was
doing the Pope a service [by throwing light upon the question of
Indulgences]; but I was forced to defend myself.” “Had I foreseen that
things would turn out as, thank God, they have, I would have held my
tongue; but had I kept silence it would have fared much worse with the
Papacy; the Princes and the Powers, enraged at its usurpations, would
finally have made an end of it.” “I acted with moderation and yet I
have brought the Papacy to an evil day.”[56]

The genius of history could well hide its face were such statements
accepted as reliable testimonies.

       *       *       *       *       *

Certain extracts from Luther’s correspondence with Spalatin deserve
special consideration.

The worldly-wise Chaplain of Frederick, the Saxon Elector, frequently
gave Luther a hint as to how to proceed, and, in return, his Wittenberg
friend was wont to speak to him more openly than to others. It is,
however, necessary, in order to arrive at a right appreciation of this
correspondence, to distinguish between the letters written by Luther to
Spalatin as a personal friend and those he sent him with the intention
that they should reach the ruling Prince. It would betray a great lack
of critical discrimination were the whole correspondence with Spalatin
taken as the expression of Luther’s innermost thought. The fact that
Spalatin’s letters to Luther are no longer extant makes it even more
difficult to understand Luther’s replies. Nevertheless, it is easy to
trace a persistent effort throughout the correspondence, to secure
in the Saxon Electorate toleration both for the new teaching and its
originator without arousing the misgivings of a prudent sovereign. The
Court had to be won over gradually and gently.

 Acting on Spalatin’s advice, Luther made the following declaration for
 the benefit of the Elector, on March 5, 1519: “The Roman Decrees must
 allow me full liberty with regard to the true Gospel; of whatever else
 they may rob me, I don’t care. What more can I do, or can I be bound
 to anything further?”[57]

 “If they do not confute us on reasonable grounds and by written
 proofs,” he says, on July 10, 1520, in another letter addressed to
 Spalatin, but really intended for the Elector, “but proceed against
 us by force and censures, then things will become twice as bad in
 Germany as in Bohemia” [an allusion to the Husite apostasy].[58]
 “Where then can I turn for better instruction?”[59] ... “Let His
 Highness the Prince,” he here writes, coming to the question of
 the University professorship which provided him with his means of
 livelihood, “put me out into the street so that I may either be better
 instructed or confuted.” He, for his part, is ready to resign his
 public appointment, retire into private life, allow others to take
 his place, and let all his belongings be burned. But he also thinks
 it just that the Elector, being personally unable to instruct him,
 should also refuse to act either as judge or as executioner until a
 (true ecclesiastical) sentence be pronounced. The principal thing is,
 so he says, that “the question under discussion has not been solved,
 and my enemies have not touched it with so much as a single word. The
 Prince, under these circumstances, may well refuse to punish anyone,
 even though he be a Turk or a Jew, for he is in ignorance whether he
 be guilty or not; his conscience bids him pause, and how then can the
 Romanists demand that he should step in and obey men rather than God?”

 Thereupon Frederick, the Elector, actually wrote to Rome that Luther
 was ready to be better instructed from Holy Scripture by learned
 judges; no one could reproach him, the Prince; he was far from
 “extending protection to the writings and sermons of Dr. Martin
 Luther,” or “from tolerating any errors against the Holy Catholic

 At the very last moment before the promulgation of the Bull of
 Excommunication, Luther made offers of “peace” to the Roman Court
 through Cardinal Carvajal, professing to be ready to accept any
 conditions, provided he was left free to teach the Word, and was
 not ordered to retract. This step was taken to safeguard his public
 position and his future; Spalatin, and through him the Elector,
 received due notification of the fact on August 23, 1520.[61]

 Yet only a few weeks before, on July 10, he had already expressly
 assured the same friend privately: “The die is cast; I despise alike
 the favour and the fury of the Romans; I refuse to be reconciled
 with them, or to have anything whatever to do with them ... I will
 openly attack and destroy the whole Papal system, that pestilential
 quagmire of heresies; then there will be an end to the humility and
 consideration of which I have made a show, but which has only served
 to puff up the foes of the Gospel.”[62]

 He had also not omitted, at the same time, to bring to the knowledge
 of the Elector, through his same friend at Court, the promise of
 a guard of one hundred noblemen, recently made by Silvester von
 Schauenberg; he likewise begged that an intimation of the fact might
 be conveyed to Rome, that they might see that his safety was assured,
 and might then cease from threatening him with excommunication and
 its consequences. “Were they to drive me from Wittenberg,” he adds,
 “nothing would be gained, and the case would only be made worse; for
 my men-at-arms are stationed not only in Bohemia, but in the very
 centre of Germany, and will protect me should I be driven away, for
 they are determined to defy any assault.” “If I have these at my back
 then it is to be feared that I shall attack the Romanists much more
 fiercely from my place of safety than if I were allowed to remain in
 my professorship and in the service of the Prince [at Wittenberg],
 which is what will certainly happen unless God walls otherwise.
 Hitherto I have been unwilling to place the Prince in any difficulty;
 once expelled, all such scruples will vanish.”[63]

 In conclusion, he extols his great consideration for the Prince.
 “It is only the respect I owe my sovereign, and my regard for the
 interests of the University [of Wittenberg] that the Romanists have to
 thank for the fact that worse things have not been done by me; that
 they escaped so lightly they owe neither to my modesty, nor to their
 action and tyranny.”

All the diplomacy which he cultivated with so much calculation did
not, however, hinder his giving free course to the higher inspiration
with which he believed himself to be endowed; the result was a series
of works which may be numbered among the most effective of his
controversial writings. He there fights, to employ his own language,
“for Christ’s sake new battles against Satan,” as Deborah, the
prophetess, fought “new wars” for Israel (Judges v. 8).[64]

In Luther we find a singular combination of the glowing enthusiast
and cool diplomatist. Just as it would be wrong to see in him
nothing but hypocrisy and deception without a spark of earnestness
and self-sacrifice, so too, at the other extreme, we should not be
justified in speaking of his success as simply the result of enthusiasm
and entire surrender of earthly considerations. History discerns in him
a combatant full of passion indeed, yet one who was cool-headed enough
to choose the best means to his end.

3. Luther’s Great Reformation-Works--Radicalism and Religion

It was at the time when the Bull of Excommunication was about to be
promulgated by the Head of Christendom that Luther composed the Preface
to the work entitled: “An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation von
des christlichen Standes Besserung.”[65] The booklet appeared in the
middle of August, and by the 18th four thousand copies were already
in circulation, eagerly devoured by a multitude of readers hungry for
books of all kinds. Staupitz’s warning not to publish it had come too
late. “Luther’s friends, the Knights, were urging him on, and something
had to be done at once.”[66]

This inflammatory pamphlet, so patronised by the rebellious Knights,
was, with its complaints against Rome, in part based on the writings of
the German Neo-Humanists.

 Full of fury at the offences committed by the Papacy against the
 German nation and Church, Luther here points out to the Emperor, the
 Princes and the whole German nobility, the manner in which Germany
 may break away from Rome, and undertake its own reformation, for the
 bettering of Christianity. His primary object is to show that the
 difference between the clerical and lay state is a mere hypocritical
 invention. All men are priests; under certain circumstances the
 hierarchy must be set aside, and the secular powers have authority
 to do so. “Most of the Popes,” so Luther writes with incredible
 exaggeration, “have been without faith.” “Ought not Christians, who
 are all priests, also to have the right [like them, i.e. the bishops
 and priests] to judge and decide what is true and what false in
 matters of faith?”

 The work was, as Luther’s comrade Johann Lang wrote to the author,
 a bugle-call which sounded throughout all Germany. Luther had to
 vindicate himself (even to his friends) against the charge of “blowing
 a blast of revolt.”[67] It is not enough to acquit him to point out
 in his defence that he had merely assigned to the Rulers the right
 of employing force, and that his intention was to “make the Word

 One of the most powerful arguments in Luther’s work consisted in the
 full and detailed description of the Roman money traffic, Germany and
 other countries being exploited on the pretext that contributions
 were necessary for the administration of the Church. Luther had drawn
 his information on this subject from the writings of the German
 Neo-Humanists, and from a certain “Roman courtier” (Dr. Viccius)
 resident in Wittenberg.

It was, however, the promise he received of material help which
spurred Luther on to give a social aspect to his theological
movement and thus to ensure the support of the disaffected Knights
and Humanists. Concerning Silvester von Schauenberg, he wrote to a
confidant, Wenceslaus Link: “This noble man from Franconia has sent me
a letter ... with the promise of one hundred Franconian Knights for
my protection, should I need them.... Rome has written to the Prince
against me, and the same has been done by an important German Court.
Our German book addressed to the whole Nobility of Germany on the
amelioration of the Church is now to appear; that will be a powerful
challenge to Rome, for her godless arts and usurpations are therein
unmasked. Farewell and pray for me.”[68]

By the end of August another new book by Luther, which, like the
former, is accounted by Luther’s Protestant biographers as one of the
“great Reformation-works,” was in the press; such was the precipitancy
with which his turbulent spirit drove him to deal with the vital
questions of the day. The title of the new Latin publication which was
at once translated into German was “Prelude to the Babylonish Captivity
of the Church.”[69]

 He there attacks the Seven Sacraments of the Church, of which he
 retains only three, namely, Baptism, Penance, and the Supper, and
 declares that even these must first be set free from the bondage in
 which they are held in the Papacy, namely, from the general state of
 servitude in the Church; this condition had, so he opined, produced in
 the Church many other perverse doctrines and practices which ought to
 be set aside, among these being the whole matrimonial law as observed
 in the Papacy, and, likewise, the celibacy of the clergy.

 The termination of this work shows that it was intended to incite the
 minds of its readers against Rome, in order to forestall the impending

This end was yet better served by the third “reforming” work “On the
Freedom of a Christian Man,” a popular tract in Latin and German
with its dangerously seductive explanation of his teaching on faith,
justification and works.[70]

 In this work, as a matter of fact, Luther expresses with the utmost
 emphasis his theological standpoint which hitherto he had kept in the
 background, but which was really the source of all his errors. As
 before this in the pulpit, so here also he derives from faith only
 the whole work of justification and virtue which, according to him,
 God alone produces in us; this he describes in language forcible,
 insinuating and of a character to appeal to the people; it was
 only necessary to have inwardly experienced the power of faith in
 tribulations, temptations, anxieties and struggles to understand that
 in it lay the true freedom of a Christian man.

 This booklet has in recent times been described by a Protestant as
 “perhaps the most beautiful work Luther ever wrote, and an outcome
 of religious contemplation rather than of theological study.”[71] It
 does, as a matter of fact, present its wrong ideas in many instances
 under a mystical garb, which appeals strongly to the heart, and which
 Luther had made his own by the study of older German models.

 The new theory which, he alleged, was to free man from the burden
 of the Catholic doctrine of good works, he summed up in words, the
 effect of which upon the masses may readily be conceived: “By this
 faith all your sins are forgiven you, all the corruption within you
 is overcome, and you yourself are made righteous, true, devout and
 at peace; all the commandments are fulfilled, and you are set free
 from all things.”[72] “This is Christian liberty ... that we stand in
 need of no works for the attainment of piety and salvation.”[73] “The
 Christian becomes by faith so exalted above all things that he is made
 spiritual lord of all; for there is nothing that can hinder his being
 saved.”[74] By faith in Christ, man, according to Luther, has become
 sure of salvation; he is “assured of life for evermore, may snap his
 fingers at the devil, and need no longer tremble before the wrath of

 It was inevitable that the author should attempt to vindicate himself
 from the charge of encouraging a false freedom. “Here we reply to
 all those,” he says in the same booklet,[75] “who are offended at
 the above language, and who say: ‘Well, if faith is everything and
 suffices to make us pious, why, then, are good works commanded? Let
 us be of good cheer and do nothing.’” What is Luther’s answer? “No,
 my friend, not so. It might indeed be thus if you were altogether an
 interior man, and had become entirely spiritual and soulful, but this
 will not happen until the Day of Judgment.”

 But in so far as man is of the world and a servant of sin, he
 continues, he must rule over his body, and consort with other men;
 “here works make their appearance; idleness is bad; the body must
 be disciplined in moderation and exercised by fasting, watching
 and labour, that it may be obedient and conformable to faith and
 inwardness, and may not hinder and resist as its nature is when it is
 not controlled.” “But,” he immediately adds this limitation to his
 allusion to works, “such works must not be done in the belief that
 thereby a man becomes pious in God’s sight”; for piety before God
 consists in faith alone, and it is only “because the soul is made pure
 by faith and loves God, that it desires all things to be pure, first
 of all its own body, and wishes every man likewise to love and praise

In spite of all reservations it is very doubtful whether the work “On
the Freedom of a Christian Man” was capable of improving the many
who joined Luther’s standard in order to avail themselves of the new
freedom in its secular sense. “By faith” man became, so Luther had
told them, pure and free and “lord of all.” They might reply, and as a
matter of fact later on they did: Why then impose the duty of works,
especially if the interior man has, according to his own judgment,
become strong and sufficiently independent? Such was actually the
argument of the fanatics. They added, “to become altogether spiritual
and interior,” is in any case impossible, moreover, as, according to
the new teaching, works spring spontaneously from the state of one who
is justified, why then speak of a duty of performing good works, or
why impose an obligation to do this or that particular good work here
and now? It is better and easier for us to stimulate the spirit and
the interior life of faith in the soul merely in a general way and in
accordance with the new ideal.

As a matter of fact, experience soon showed that where the traditional
Christian motives for good works (reparation for sin, the acquiring
of merit with the assistance of God’s grace, etc.) were given up, the
practice of good works suffered.

There is, however, no doubt that there were some on whom the booklet,
with its heartfelt and moving exhortation to communion with Christ, did
not fail to make a deep impression, more particularly in view of the
formalism which then prevailed.

 “Where the heart thus hears the voice of Christ,” says Luther with a
 simple, popular eloquence which recalls that of the best old German
 authors, “it must needs become glad, receive the deepest comfort and
 be filled with sweetness towards Christ, loving Him and ever after
 troubling nothing about laws and works. For who can harm such a heart,
 or cause it alarm? Should sin or death befall, it merely recollects
 that Christ’s righteousness is its own, and then, as we have said,
 sin disappears before faith in the Righteousness of Christ; with the
 Apostle it learns to defy death and sin, and to say: O death, where is
 thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin,
 but thanks be to God Who has given us the victory through our Lord
 Jesus Christ, so that death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. xv. 54

 Pious phrases, such as these, which are of frequent occurrence,
 demanded a stable theological foundation in order to produce any
 lasting effects. In Luther’s case there was, however, no such
 foundation, and hence they are merely deceptive. The words quoted, as
 a matter of fact, detract somewhat from the grand thought of St. Paul,
 since the victory over sin and death of which he speaks refers, not to
 the present life of the Faithful, but to the glorious resurrection.
 The Apostle does, however, refer to our present life in the earnest
 exhortation with which he concludes (1 Cor. xv. 58): “Therefore, my
 beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in
 the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the

 Protestants frequently consider it very much to Luther’s credit
 that he insisted with so much force and feeling in his work “On the
 Freedom of a Christian Man” upon the dignity which faith and a state
 of grace impart to every calling, even to the most commonplace;
 his words, so they say, demonstrate that life in the world, and
 even the humblest vocation, when illumined by religion, has in it
 something of the infinite. This, however, had already been impressed
 upon the people, and far more correctly, in numerous instructions
 and sermons dating from mediæval times, though, agreeably with the
 teaching of the Gospel, the path of the Evangelical Counsels, and
 still more the Apostolic and priestly vocation, was accounted higher
 than the ordinary secular calling. A high Protestant authority,
 of many of whose utterances we can scarcely approve, remarks: “It
 is usual to consider this work of Luther’s as the Magna Charta of
 Protestant liberty, and of the Protestant ideal of a worldly calling
 in contradistinction to Catholic asceticism and renunciation of the
 world. My opinion is that this view is a misapprehension of Luther’s

 It was this booklet, “On the Freedom of a Christian Man,” that the
 author had the temerity to send to Pope Leo X, with an accompanying
 letter (see above, p. 18), in which he professed to lay the whole
 matter in the hands of the Sovereign Pontiff, though in the work
 itself he denied all the Papal prerogatives. In the latter denial
 Luther was only logical, for if the foundation of the whole of the
 hierarchy be upset, what then remains of the position of the Pope?

To appreciate the effects of the three works just mentioned it may be
worth our while to examine more closely two characteristics which there
appear in singular juxtaposition. One is the deeply religious tone
which, as we said, is so noteworthy in Luther’s book “On the Freedom of
a Christian Man.” The other is an unmistakable tendency to dissolve all
religion based on authority.

Luther, as we said before, positively refused to have anything to do
with a religion of merely human character; yet, if we only draw the
necessary conclusions from certain propositions which he sets up, we
find that he is not very far removed from such a religion; he is,
all unawares, on the high road to the destruction of all authority
in matters of faith. This fact makes the depth of religious feeling
evinced by the author appear all the more strange to the experienced

Some examples will make our meaning clearer.

 In the work addressed to the Christian nobility, Luther confers on
 every one of the Faithful the fullest right of private judgment as
 regards both doctrines and doctors, and limits it by no authority save
 the Word of God as explained by the Christian himself.

 “If we all are priests”--a fact already proved, so he says--“how then
 shall we not have the right to discriminate and judge what is right
 or wrong in faith? What otherwise becomes of the saying of Paul in 1
 Corinthians ii. [15], ‘The spiritual man judgeth all things, and he
 himself is judged of no man,’ and again, ‘Having all the same spirit
 of faith,’ 2 Corinthians iv. [13]? How then should we not perceive,
 just as well as an unbelieving Pope, what is in agreement with faith
 and what not? These and many other passages are intended to give us
 courage and make us free, so that we may not be frightened away from
 the spirit of liberty, as Paul calls it (2 Cor. iii. [17]), by the
 fictions of the Popes, but rather judge freely, according to our
 understanding of the Scriptures, of all things that they do or leave
 undone, and force them to follow what is better and not their own

 “A little man,” he had said already, “may have a right comprehension;
 why then should we not follow him?” and, with an unmistakable allusion
 to himself, he adds: surely more trust is to be placed in one “who has
 Scripture on his side.”[80]

 Such assertions, as a matter of fact, destroy all the claims made
 by the visible Church to submission to her teaching. Further, they
 proclaim the principle of the fullest independence of the Christian
 in matters of faith; nothing but private judgment and personal
 inspiration can decide. Luther failed to see that, logically, every
 barrier must give way before this principle of liberty, and that Holy
 Scripture itself loses its power of resistance, subjectivism first
 invading its interpretation and then, in the hands of the extremer
 sort of critics, questioning its value and divine origin. The inner
 consequences of Luther’s doctrine on freedom and autonomy have been
 clearly pointed out even by some of the more advanced Protestant
 theologians. Adolf Harnack, for instance, recently expressed the truth
 neatly when he said that “Kant and Fichte were both of them hidden
 behind Luther.”[81]

 The second work “On the Babylonish Captivity,” with its sceptical
 tendency, of which, however, Luther was in great part unconscious,
 also vindicates this opinion.

 The very arbitrariness with which the author questions facts of faith
 or usages dating from the earliest ages of the Church, must naturally
 have awakened in such of his readers as were already predisposed a
 spirit of criticism which bore a startling resemblance to the spirit
 of revolt. Here again, in one passage, Luther comes to the question of
 the right of placing private judgment in matters of religion above all
 authority. He here teaches that there exists in the assembly of the
 Faithful, and through the illumination of the Divine Spirit, a certain
 “interior sense for judging concerning doctrine, a sense, which,
 though it cannot be demonstrated, is nevertheless absolutely certain.”
 He describes faith, as it comes into being in every individual
 Christian soul, “as the result of a certitude directly inspired of
 God, a certitude of which he himself is conscious.”[82]

 What this private judgment of each individual would lead to in Holy
 Scripture, Luther shows by his own example in this very work; he
 already makes a distinction based on the “interior sense” between the
 various books of the Bible, i.e. those stamped with the true Apostolic
 Spirit, and, for instance, the less trustworthy Epistle of St. James,
 of which the teaching contradicts his own. Köstlin, with a certain
 amount of reserve, admits: “This he gives us to understand, agreeably
 with his principles and experience; it is not our affair to prove
 that it is tenable or to vindicate it.”[83]

 Luther says at the end of the passage in question: “Of this question
 more elsewhere.” As a matter of fact, however, he never did treat of
 it fully and in detail, although it concerned the fundamentals of
 religion; for this omission he certainly had reasons of his own.

 A certain radicalism is perceptible in the work “On the Babylonish
 Captivity,” even with regard to social matters. Luther lays it down:
 “I say that no Pope or Bishop or any other man has a right to impose
 even one syllable upon a Christian man, except with his consent; any
 other course is pure tyranny.”[84] It is true that ostensibly he is
 only assailing the tyranny of ecclesiastical laws, yet, even so, he
 exceeds all reasonable limits.

 With regard to marriage, the foundation of society, so unguarded is
 he, that, besides destroying its sacramental character, he brushes
 aside the ecclesiastical impediments of marriage as mere man-made
 inventions, and, speaking of divorce based on these laws, he declares
 that to him bigamy is preferable.[85] When a marriage is dissolved on
 account of adultery, he thinks remarriage allowable to the innocent
 party. He also expresses the fervent wish that the words of St. Paul
 in 1 Corinthians vii. 15, according to which the Christian man or
 woman deserted by an infidel spouse is thereby set free from the
 marriage tie, should also apply to the marriages of Christians where
 the one party has maliciously deserted the other; in such a case, the
 offending party is no better than an infidel. Regarding the impediment
 of impotence on the man’s part, he conceives the idea[86] that the
 wife might, without any decision of the court, “live secretly with her
 husband’s brother, or with some other man.”[87] In the later editions
 of Luther’s works this statement, as well as that concerning bigamy,
 has been suppressed.

 Luther, so he says, is loath to decide anything. But neither are
 popes or bishops to give decisions! “If, however,” says Luther, “two
 well-instructed and worthy men were to agree in Christ’s name, and
 speak according to the spirit of Christ, then I would prefer their
 judgment before all the Councils, which are now only looked up to
 on account of the number and outward reputation of the people there
 assembled, no regard being paid to their learning and holiness.”[88]
 Apart from other objections, the stipulation concerning the “Spirit
 of Christ,” here made by the mystic, renders his plan illusory, for
 who is to determine that the “Spirit of Christ” is present in the
 judgment of the two “well-instructed men”? Luther seems to assume that
 this determination is an easy matter. First and foremost, who is to
 decide whether these men are really well-instructed? There were many
 whose opinion differed from Luther’s, and who thought that this and
 such-like demands, made in his tract “On the Babylonish Captivity,”
 opened the door to a real confusion of Babel.

 Neither can the work “On the Freedom of a Christian Man” be absolved
 from a certain dangerous radicalism. A false spirit of liberty in the
 domain of faith breathes through it. The faith which is here extolled
 is not faith in the olden and true meaning of the word, namely the
 submission of reason to what God has revealed and proposes for belief
 through the authority He Himself instituted, but faith in the Lutheran
 sense, i.e. personal trust in Christ and in the salvation He offers.
 Faith in the whole supernatural body of Christian truth comes here
 so little into account that it is reduced to the mere assurance of
 salvation. All that we are told is that the Christian is “free and has
 power over all” by a simple appropriation of the merits of Christ; he
 is purified by the mere acceptance of the merciful love revealed in
 Christ; “this faith suffices him,” and through it he enjoys all the
 riches of God. And this so-called faith is mainly a matter of feeling;
 a man must learn to “taste the true spirit of interior trials,” just
 as the author himself, so he says, “in his great temptations had
 been permitted to taste a few drops of faith.”[89] Faith is thus
 not only robbed of its true meaning and made into a mere personal
 assurance, but the assurance appears as something really not so easy
 of attainment, since it is only to be arrived at by treading the
 difficult path of spiritual suffering.

 Luther thereby strikes a blow at one of the most vital points of
 positive religion, viz. the idea of faith.

 The author, in this same work,[90] again reminds us that by faith all
 are priests, and therefore have the right “to instruct Christians
 concerning the faith and the freedom of believers”; for the
 preservation of order, however, all cannot teach, and therefore some
 are chosen from amongst the rest for this purpose. It is plain how,
 by this means, a door was opened to the introduction of diversity of
 doctrine and the ruin of the treasure of revelation.

The religious tone which Luther assumed in the work “On the Freedom of
a Christian Man,” and his earnestness and feeling, made his readers
more ready to overlook the perils for real religion which it involved.
This consideration brings us to the other characteristic, viz. the
pietism which, as stated above, is so strangely combined in the three
works with intense radicalism.

The religious feeling which pervades every page of the “Freedom of a
Christian Man” is, if anything, overdone. In what Luther there says we
see the outpourings of one whose religious views are quite peculiar,
and who is bent on bringing the Christian people to see things in
the same light as he does; deeply imbued as he is with his idea of
salvation by faith alone, and full of bitterness against the alleged
disfiguring of the Church’s life by meritorious works, he depicts his
own conception of religion in vivid and attractive colours, and in
the finest language of the mystics. It is easy to understand how so
many Protestant writers have been fascinated by these pages, indeed,
the best ascetic writers might well envy him certain of the passages
in which he speaks of the person of Christ and of communion with Him.
Nevertheless, a fault which runs through the whole work is, as already
explained, his tendency to narrow the horizon of religious thought
and feeling by making the end of everything to consist in the mere
awakening of trust in Christ as our Saviour. Ultimately, religion to
him means no more than this confidence; he is even anxious to exclude
so well-founded and fruitful a spiritual exercise as compassion
with the sufferings of our crucified Redeemer, actually calling it
“childish and effeminate stupidity.”[91] How much more profound and
fruitful was the religious sentiment of the genuine mystics of the
Church, whom the contemplation of the sufferings of Christ furnished
with the most beautiful and touching subject of meditation, and who
knew how to find a source of edification in all the truths of faith,
and not only in that of the forgiveness of sins. Writers such as they,
described to their pious readers in far greater detail the person
of Christ, the honour given by Him to God and the virtues He had

The booklet “To the Nobility,” likewise, particularly in the Preface,
throws a strange sidelight on the pietism of the so-called great
Reformation works.

 Here, in his exordium to the three tracts, the author seeks to win
 over the minds of the piously disposed. The most earnest reformer
 of the Church could not set himself to the task with greater fear,
 greater diffidence and humility than he. Luther, as he assures his
 readers, is obliged “to cry and call aloud like a poor man that God
 may inspire someone to stretch out a helping hand to the unfortunate
 nation.” He declares that such a task “must not be undertaken by one
 who trusts in his power and wisdom, for God will not allow a good work
 to be commenced in trust in our own might and ability.” “The work
 must be undertaken in humble confidence in God, His help being sought
 in earnest prayer, and with nothing else in view but the misery and
 misfortune of unhappy Christendom, even though the people have brought
 it on themselves.... Therefore let us act wisely and in the fear of
 God. The greater the strength employed, the greater the misfortune,
 unless all is done in the fear of God and in humility.”[92]

 Further on, even in his most violent attacks, the author is ever
 insisting that it is only a question of the honour of Christ: “it is
 the power of the devil and of End-Christ [Antichrist] that hinders
 what would be for the reform of Christendom; therefore let us beware,
 and resist it even at the cost of our life and all we have.... Let us
 hold fast to this: Christian strength can do nothing against Christ,
 as St Paul says (2 Cor. xiii. 8). We can do nothing against Christ,
 but only for Him.”[93]

 In his concluding words, convinced of his higher mission, he declares
 that he was “compelled” to come forward. “God has forced me by them
 [my adversaries] to open my mouth still further, and, because they
 are cowards, to preach at them, bark at them, roar at them and
 write against them.... Though I know that my cause is good, yet it
 must needs be condemned on earth and be justified only by Christ in
 heaven.”[94] When a mission is Divine, then the world must oppose
 it.--One wonders whether everything that meets with disapproval must
 therefore be accounted Divine.

 It is the persuasion of his higher mission that explains the religious
 touch so noticeable in these three writings. The power of faith there
 expressed refers, however, principally to his own doctrine and his own
 struggles. If we take the actual facts into account, it is impossible
 to look on these manifestations of religion as mere hypocrisy. The
 pietism we find in the tract “To the German Nobility” is indeed
 overdone, and of a very peculiar character, yet the writer meant it as
 seriously as he did the blame he metes out to the abuses of his age.

 We still have to consider the religious side of the work “On the
 Babylonish Captivity.” Originally written in Latin, and intended not
 so much for the people as for the learned, this tract, even in the
 later German version, is not clad in the same popular religious dress
 as the other two. Like the others, nevertheless, it was designed as a
 weapon to serve in the struggle for a religious renewal, especially in
 the matter of the Sacraments. Among other of its statements, which are
 characteristic of the direction of Luther’s mind, is the odd-sounding
 request at the very commencement: “If my adversaries are worthy of
 being led back by Christ to a more reasonable conception of things,
 then I beg that in His Mercy He may do so. Are they not worthy, then
 I pray that they may not cease to write their books against me, and
 that the enemies of truth may deserve to read no others.”[95] His
 conclusion is: He commits his book with joy to the hands of all the
 pious, i.e. of those who wish to understand aright the sense of
 Holy Scripture and the true use of the Sacraments.[96] He further
 declares in an obstinate and mocking manner his intention of ever
 holding fast to his own opinion. His more enlightened contemporaries
 saw with anxiety how every page of his work teemed with signs of
 self-deception and blind prejudice, and of a violent determination to
 overthrow religious views which had held the field for ages. To those
 who cared to reflect, Luther’s religiousness appeared in the light of
 a religious downfall, and as the chaotic manifestation of a desire to
 demolish all those venerable traditions which encumbered the way of
 the spirit of revolt.

4. Luther’s Followers. Two Types of His Cultured Partisans: Willibald
Pirkheimer and Albert Dürer

Owing to the huge and rapid circulation of the three “Reformation
works,” the number of Luther’s followers among all classes increased
with prodigious speed.

The spirit of the nation was roused by his bold words, the like of
which had never before been heard.

Too many of those whose Catholicism was largely a matter of form were
seduced by the new spirit that was abroad, and by the “liberty of the
Gospel,” before they rightly saw their danger. The fascination of the
promised freedom was even increased by Luther’s earnest exhortations
to commence a general reformation, to cultivate the inner man, and to
assert the independence of the German against immoral Italians, the
extortioners of the Curia and the spiritual tyranny of the Pope. Even
better minds, men who despised the masses and their vulgar agitation,
were powerfully attracted. At no other time, save possibly at the
French Revolution, was mankind more profoundly stirred by the force of
untried ideas, which with suggestive power suddenly invaded every rank
of society. Scholars, writers, artists, countless men who had heard
nothing of Luther that was not to his advantage, and who, from lack of
theological knowledge, were unable fully to appreciate the spirit of
his writings, were carried away by the man who so courageously attacked
the crying abuses which they themselves had long bewailed.

In explaining this universal commotion we cannot lay too great stress
upon a factor which also played a part in it, viz. the comparative
ignorance of most people regarding Luther, his antecedents and his
aims. Eminent men, and his own contemporaries, who allowed themselves
to be borne away by the current, were incredibly ignorant of Luther as
he is now known to history. They knew practically nothing of the whole
arsenal of letters, tracts and reports which to-day lie open before us
and are being read, compared and annotated by industrious scholars.
It is difficult for us at the present day to imagine the condition of
ignorance in which even cultured men were, in the sixteenth century,
regarding the Lutheran movement, especially at its inception.

To show the seduction and fascination exercised by Luther’s writings
even on eminent men, we may take two famous Nurembergers, Willibald
Pirkheimer and Albert Dürer.

Willibald Pirkheimer, a Senator of Nuremberg and Imperial Councillor,
was one of the most respected and cultured Humanists of his day. He
edited or translated many patristic works. After taking a too active
part in the Reuchlin controversy against the theologians of Cologne,
owing to his zeal for a reformed method of studies, he put himself
on Luther’s side, again out of enthusiasm for reform, and under the
impression that he had found in his doctrine a more profound conception
of religion. He received Luther as his guest when he passed through
Nuremberg on his return journey from Augsburg, after his appearance
before Cardinal Cajetan. In a letter to Emser he declared that the
learned men of Wittenberg had earned undying fame by having been, after
so many centuries, the first to open their eyes, and to distinguish
between the true and the false, and to banish from Christian theology
a bad philosophy.[97] Eck even inserted his name in the Bull of
Excommunication which he published, though Pirkheimer was absolved on
appealing to Pope Leo X. He wrote, in Luther’s favour, a letter to
Hadrian VI which, however, was perhaps never despatched, in which he
calls him “a good and learned man.” The entire blame for the quarrel
was thrust by this disputatious and peculiar man on Eck and the

In later years, however, he withdrew more and more from the Lutheran
standpoint, chiefly, as it would appear, because he perceived the
unbridled nature of the Reformers’ views and the bad moral and social
effects of the innovations. He died in 1530 at peace with the Catholic

 “I had hoped at the commencement,” he wrote already in 1527 to Zasius
 in Freiburg, “that we might have obtained a certain degree of liberty,
 but of a purely spiritual character. Now, however, as we see with
 our own eyes, everything is perverted to the lust of the flesh, so
 that the last state is far worse than the first.”[98] He admitted his
 definite turning away from Lutheranism in a letter to Kilian Leib,
 Prior of the Rebdorf Monastery (1529), in which he at the same time
 relates the reason of his previous enthusiasm: “I hoped that [by
 Luther’s enterprise] the countless abuses would be remedied, but I
 found myself greatly deceived; for, before the former errors had
 been expelled, others, much more intolerable, and compared to which
 the earlier were mere child’s play, forced themselves in. I therefore
 began to withdraw myself gradually, and the more attentively I
 considered everything the more clearly I recognised the cunning of the
 old serpent.”[99]

 His letter to his friend Tschertte in Vienna (1530) also contains
 a “loud lamentation and outburst of anger against Luther’s work.”
 We can see that he has entirely broken with it.[100] In this letter
 he says: “I admit that at first I too was a good Lutheran, like our
 departed Albert [Dürer]. We hoped thereby to better the Roman knavery
 and the roguery of the monks and parsons.” But the contrary was the
 result; those of the new faith were even worse than those whom they
 were to reform. Members of the Council had also hoped for a general
 improvement of morals, but had found themselves shamefully deceived.
 He knows for certain--a valuable admission in view of the unhistorical
 idea of some Catholics that Luther’s partisans were all frivolous
 men--that “many pious and honourable men” lent a willing ear to his
 teaching; “hearing beautiful things said of faith and the holy Gospel,
 they fancy all is real gold that glitters, whereas it is hardly

 Another statement against Luther, made by this same scholar in 1528,
 is still stronger: “Formerly almost all men applauded at the sound of
 Luther’s name, but now nearly all are seized with disgust on hearing
 it ... and not without cause, for apart from his audacity, impudence,
 arrogance and slanderous tongue he is also guilty of lying to such an
 extent that he cannot refrain from any untruth; what he asserts to-day
 he does not scruple to deny to-morrow; he is instability itself.”[102]

We see also from the example of Albert Dürer of Nuremberg, who is
rightly accounted one of the greatest masters of Art, how overwhelming
an influence the stormy energy, the calls for reform and the religious
tone of Luther’s writings could exert on the susceptible minds of
the day. Of a lively temper,[103] full of imagination and religious
idealism, as his sixteen wonderful illustrations to the Apocalypse
proved in 1498, he, like his Nuremberg friend Willibald Pirkheimer,
gave himself up from the very first to the influence of the Lutheran
writings, with which to a certain extent he was in sympathy. In his
enthusiasm for freedom he considered that Christianity was too much
fettered by oppressive rules of human invention, and was profoundly
troubled by the desecration of holy things introduced in many regions
by the greed and avarice of a worldly-minded clergy.

 In 1520 he wrote to Spalatin: “God grant that I may meet with Dr.
 Martinus Luther, for then I will make a careful sketch of him and
 engrave it in copper, so that the memory of the Christian man may long
 be preserved, for he has helped me out of much anxiety.” He believed
 that light had been brought to him by means of Luther’s spiritual
 teaching, and a little further on he calls him “a man enlightened by
 the Holy Ghost and one who has the Spirit of God”; these words, which
 came from the depths of his soul, are an echo of Luther’s writings.
 Altogether prepossessed in Luther’s favour, though he never formally
 abandoned the Church, he wrote in his Diary, on May 17, 1521; “The
 Papacy resists the liberty of Christ by its great burden of human
 commandments, and in shameful fashion sucks our blood and robs us of
 our sweat for the benefit of idle and immoral folk, while those who
 are sick are parched with thirst and left to die of hunger.”

 Being at that time somewhat anxious with regard to his material
 position, he had gone to Holland, and had heard of Luther’s supposed
 capture and disappearance after the Diet of Worms. In the same
 Memorandum, therefore, he summons Erasmus to undertake a reform of
 the Church: “O Erasmus Roderdamus, why hangest thou back? Listen, O
 Christian knight, ride forth by the side of the Lord Christ and defend
 the cause of truth.... Then the gates of Hell, the Roman See, shall,
 as Christ says, not prevail against thee ... for God is on the side of
 the holy Christian Churches.” And he adds in Apocalyptic tone: “Await
 the completing of the number of those who have been slain innocently,
 and then I will judge.”[104] Yet even on this journey through the
 Netherlands, Dürer showed interest in the manifestations of Catholic
 life, attended the Catholic services, and, with his wife, duly made
 his Easter Confession.

 Two thoughts, the oppression of the Faithful by man-made commandments
 and the unjust extortion of their money, held him under the spell of
 Luther’s writings with their promise of deliverance.

 “O God, if Luther is dead who will in future expound the Holy Gospel
 to us so clearly? What would he not have written for us in ten or
 twenty years!” “Never,” he says, “has anyone written more clearly
 during the last 140 years [i.e. since the death of Wiclif in 1381],
 never has God given to anyone so evangelical a spirit.” So transparent
 is his teaching, that “everyone who reads Dr. Martin Luther’s books
 sees that it is the Gospel which he upholds. Hence they must be held
 sacred and not be burnt.”[105]

The man who wrote this was clearly better able to wield the pencil
or brush than to pass theological judgment on the questions under
discussion. Dürer was already among the most famous men of the day.
Led astray by the praise of the Humanists, he, and other similarly
privileged minds, easily exceeded the limits of their calling, abetted
as they were by the evil tendency to individualism and personal
independence prevalent among the best men of the day.

On his return to Nuremberg in the autumn of 1521 he lived entirely
for his art and remote from all else, clinging to the opinions he had
already embraced, or at least suspending his judgment. How greatly the
real or imaginary abuses in Catholic practice were capable of exciting
him, especially where avarice appeared to play a part, is proved by his
indignant inscription in 1523 to an Ostendorfer woodcut, representing
the veneration of a picture of our Lady at Ratisbon: “This spectre
has risen up against Holy Scripture at Regenspurg ... out of greed of
gain”; his wish is that Mary should be rightly venerated “in Christ.”
In 1526 he presented his picture of the four Apostles, now the ornament
of the Munich Pinacothek, to the Nuremberg bench of magistrates who had
just established Protestantism in the city, exhorting them “to accept
no human inventions in place of the Word of God, for God will not allow
His Word to be either added to or detracted from.” The “warnings,” in
the form of texts, afterwards removed, which he placed in the mouths
of Peter, John, Paul and Mark in his celebrated picture, also refer
to religious seducers and false prophets, more particularly those who
seize on the possessions of the poor through avarice and greed. We can
hardly do otherwise than apply these texts to the abuses which met with
his disapproval, and alleged false teaching of the Catholic Church. It
is plain that the Elector Maximilian I of Bavaria understood them in
this sense when he ordered their removal. This view is also supported
by Dürer’s letter in 1524 to Nicholas Kratzer, in which he says: “We
are derided as heretics,” but this must be endured. At a later date
Pirkheimer seems to have regarded him as merely “on the way to becoming
a Lutheran” (p. 40). It cannot be affirmed with certainty that,
when he died suddenly at Nuremberg, on April 6, 1528, he was either
entirely convinced of the justice of Luther’s cause or had reverted
to Catholicism.[106] At any rate, his art grew up on the soil of the

 Luther himself spoke of him after his death, on the strength of the
 reports received, and, perhaps, also from a desire to reckon him
 amongst his followers, in a letter to the Nuremberg Humanist Eobanus
 Hessus, as “the best of men,” and one to be congratulated “for that
 Christ allowed him to die so happily after such preparation” (“_tam
 instructum et beato fine_”), sparing him the sight of the evil days to
 come. “Therefore may he rest in peace with his fathers, Amen.”[107]
 Melanchthon says a few words of regret on the death of the great
 artist, but from them nothing definite can be gathered. Venatorius,
 the Lutheran preacher at Nuremberg, preached his panegyric.[108] In
 his letter to Tschertte, in 1530, on the other hand, Pirkheimer counts
 him, like himself, among those who were at first good Lutherans, but
 were afterwards disappointed in their hopes. “The close friendship
 which united Dürer to this passionate and conceited scholar, who could
 not brook the slightest contradiction, is, in fact, a proof which we
 must not undervalue, of a certain affinity in their views with regard
 to the cardinal question of faith and religious belief.”[109] It is
 not impossible that Dürer, like Pirkheimer, began to have doubts,
 and withdrew at last the open support he had previously given the

The spiritual experiences of Pirkheimer and Dürer help to bring before
our eyes typical instances of the false paths followed by many of their
contemporaries and the struggles through which they went.



1. The Trial. The Excommunication (1520) and its Consequences

ON June 15, 1520, Leo X promulgated the Bull condemning forty-one
Propositions of Luther’s teaching, and threatening the person of their
author with excommunication.[110]

The Bull was the result of a formal suit instituted at Rome on the
details of which light has been thrown in recent times by Karl Müller,
Aloys Schulte and Paul Kalkoff.[111]

The trial had taken a long time, much too long considering the state
of things in Germany; this delay was in reality due to political
causes, to the Pope’s regard for the Elector of Saxony, the
approaching Imperial Election and to the procrastination of the German
Prince-Bishops. Even before Dr. Johann Eck proceeded to Rome to promote
the case the negotiations had been resumed in the Papal Consistories
at the instance of the Italian party. The first Consistory was held on
January 9, 1520.

After this, from February to the middle of March, the matter was in the
hands of a commission of theologians who were to prepare the decision.
A still more select commission, presided over by the Pope in person,
then undertook the drafting of the Bull with the forty-one Propositions
of Luther which were to be condemned. Upon the termination of their
work, in the end of April, it was submitted to the Cardinals for their
decision; four more Consistories, held in May and June, were, however,
necessary before the matter was finally settled. Certain differences
of opinion arose as to the question whether the forty-one Propositions
were, as Cardinal Cajetan proposed, to be separately stigmatised as
heretical, false, scandalous, etc., or whether, as had been done in the
case of the Propositions of Wiclif and Hus at Constance, they should be
rejected in the lump without any more definite characterisation. The
latter opinion prevailed. In the last Consistory of June 1 the Pope
decided on the publication of the Bull in this shape, and by June 15 it
was complete.

Two Cardinals, Pietro Accolti (Anconitanus) and Thomas de Vio
(Cajetanus), had all along been busy with the case. The moving spirit
was, however, Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici.[112] Everything points to
“the matter having been treated as a very grave one.”[113]

Legally the case was based on the notoriety of Luther’s doctrines,
he having proposed and defended them at the Disputation of Leipzig,
according to the sworn evidence of the notaries-public. The Louvain
theologians and Eck had their share in selecting and denouncing the
Theses. It would seem that during the trial Eck submitted the official
printed minutes of the Leipzig Disputation in order to prove that the
errors were really expressed in Luther’s own words.

This utilisation of the Leipzig Disputation was justified, as it
rendered nugatory Luther’s appeal to a General Council. At the
Disputation in question he had denied the authority even of Œcumenical

Eck’s efforts were of assistance in elucidating and pressing on the
matter. But we may gather how incorrectly the question was regarded in
Rome by many, who, it is true, had little to do with it, from the fact
that, even on May 21, persons were to be found holding the opinion that
the publication of a solemn Bull would tend to injure the cause of the
Church rather than to advance it, and that the scandal in Germany would
only become greater if it were apparent that so much importance was
attached to Luther’s errors.[114]

In the final sentence pronounced by the Pope, i.e. in the Bull
commencing with the words: _Exsurge Domine_, the forty-one Propositions
are condemned _in globo_ as “heretical or false, scandalous,
offensive to pious ears, insulting, ensnaring and contrary to
Catholic truth.”[115] A series of Luther’s principal doctrines on
human inability for good, on Faith, Justification and Grace, on the
Sacraments, the Hierarchy and Purgatory were there condemned.

The Papal sentence did not proceed against Luther’s person with the
severity which, in accordance with Canon Law, his fiercest adversaries
perhaps anticipated. Even the errors mentioned as occurring in his
writings are designated only in the body of the Bull, and with
much circumlocution. The only penalty directly imposed on him in
the meantime was the prohibition to preach. The Bull declares that
legally, as his case then stood, he might have been excommunicated
without further question, particularly on account of his appeal to a
General Council, to which the Constitutions of Pius II and Julius II
had attached the penalties of heresy. Instead of this he is, for the
present, merely threatened with excommunication, and is placed under
the obligation, within sixty days (i.e. after a triple summons repeated
at intervals of twenty days) from the date of the promulgation of
the Bull, of making his submission in writing before ecclesiastical
witnesses, or of coming to Rome under the safe conduct guaranteed by
the Bull; he was also to commit his books to the flames; in default of
this, by virtue of the Papal declaration, he would, _ipso facto_, incur
the penalties of open heresy as a notorious heretic (i.e. be cut off
from the Communion of the Faithful by excommunication); every secular
authority, including the Emperor, was bound, in accordance with the
law, to enforce these penalties. A similar sentence was pronounced
against all Luther’s followers, aiders or abettors.

With respect to the terms in which the Papal Edict is couched, the
severe criticism of certain Protestant writers might perhaps have been
somewhat less scathing had they taken into account the traditional
usages of the Roman Chancery, instead of judging them by the standard
of the legal language of to-day. Such are the harsh passages quoted
from Holy Scripture, which may appear to us unduly irritating and
violent. When all is said, moreover, is it to be wondered at, that,
after the unspeakably bitter and insulting attacks on the Papacy and
the destruction of a portion of the German Church, strong feelings
should have found utterance in the Bull?

 The document begins with the words of the Bible: “Arise, O God, judge
 thine own cause: remember thy reproaches with which the foolish man
 hath reproached thee all the day” (Ps. lxxiii. 22). “Shew me thy face;
 catch us the little foxes that destroy the vines” (Cant. ii. 15)....
 “The boar out of the wood hath laid it waste: and a singular wild
 beast hath devoured it” (Ps. lxxix. 14). “Lying teachers have arisen
 who set up schools of perdition and bring upon themselves speedy
 destruction; their tongue is a fire full of the poison of death,” etc.
 “They spit out the poison of serpents, and when they see themselves
 vanquished they raise calumnies.” “We are determined to resist this
 pestilence and this eating canker, the noxious adder must no longer
 be permitted to harm the vineyard of the Lord.” These, the strongest
 expressions, are taken almost word for word from the Bible; they
 might, moreover, be matched by much stronger passages in Luther’s own
 writings against the authorities of the Church.

 Further on the Pope addresses, in a mild, fatherly and conciliatory
 fashion, the instigator of the dreadful schism within a Christendom
 hitherto united. “Mindful of the compassion of God Who desireth not
 the death of a sinner, but that he be converted and live, we are ready
 to forget the injury done to us and to the Holy See. We have decided
 to exercise the greatest possible indulgence and, so far as in our
 power lies, to seek to induce the sinner to enter into himself and to
 renounce the errors we have enumerated, so that we may see him return
 to the bosom of the Church and receive him with kindness, like the
 prodigal son in the Gospel. We therefore exhort him and his followers
 through the love and mercy of our God and the precious blood of Our
 Lord Jesus Christ, by which the human race was redeemed and the Church
 founded, and adjure them that they cease from troubling with their
 deadly errors the peace, unity and truth of the Church for which the
 Saviour prayed so fervently to His Father. They will then, if they
 prove obedient, find us full of fatherly love and be received with
 open arms.”

Luther was aware that, after the promulgation of the Bull, he could
place no further hope in the Emperor Charles V, whose devotion to
the Church was well known, but he was sure of the protection of his
Elector.[116] It was clear to Luther that, without the support of the
Elector, the execution of the Bull by the secular power after the
excommunication had come into force would mean his death.

Before publicly burning his boats he launched among the people his
booklet “Von den newen Eckischenn Bullen und Lügen,”[117] pretending
that the Bull (which he knew to be genuine) was merely a fabrication of
Dr. Eck’s. Here, with a bold front, he repeated that his doctrine had
not yet been condemned, nor the controversy decided, and that all the
hubbub was merely the result of Eck’s personal hatred.

This was shortly after followed by the pamphlet “Against the Bull
of ‘End-Christ,’”[118] issued by his indefatigable press. The Latin
version of the little work, brimming over with hatred, was ready by the
end of October, 1520.

 Although, in order to keep up the pretence of doubting the
 authenticity of the Bull, he here deals with it hypothetically, he
 nevertheless implores the Pope and his Cardinals, should they really
 have issued it, to reflect, otherwise he would be forced to curse
 their abode as the dwelling-place of Antichrist. In the same strain he
 proceeds: “Where art thou, good Emperor, and you, Christian Kings and
 Princes? You took an oath of allegiance to Christ in baptism and yet
 you endure these hellish voices of Antichrist.”[119]

 In the German version, from motives of policy, the tone is rather
 milder. Luther shrank from instigating the German princes too openly
 to violent measures. The appeal to them and to the Emperor is there
 omitted. The call to the people, however, rings loud and enthusiastic:
 “Would it be a wonder if the Princes, the Nobility and the laity were
 to knock the Pope, the Bishops, parsons and monks on the head and
 drive them out of the land?” For the action of Rome is heretical,
 the Pope, the Bishops, the parsons and the monks were bringing the
 laity about their ears by this “blasphemous, insulting Bull.” Then he
 suddenly pulls himself up, but to very little purpose, and adds: “not
 that I wish to incite the laity against the clergy, but rather that
 we should pray to God that He may turn aside His wrath from them, and
 set them free from the evil spirit that has possessed them.”[120]

 In the German version, however, he refers more distinctly to the
 existence of “the Bulls against Dr. Luther which are said to have
 recently come from Rome.”[121] He here declares, as to the theological
 question involved, that “as a matter of fact the whole Christian
 Church cannot err,” viz. “all Christians throughout the whole world,”
 but that the Pope is guilty of the most devilish presumption in
 setting up his own opinion, as though it were as good as that of the
 whole Church. The work is thus levelled at the doctrine of Papal
 Infallibility, which had always been accepted in the Church in cases
 where the Pope decides on matters of doctrine as supreme judge; this
 doctrine had ever been taken for granted, and stood in the forefront
 in all the measures previously taken by the Church against the attacks
 of heretics. Even in those days the Church had always based her action
 against separatists on her infallibility as a teacher.

In view of the existing political conditions there was but little hope
that it would be possible for the General Council, to which Luther had
appealed, to meet at an early date. At the time of Luther’s uprising,
moreover, the state of feeling, both in ecclesiastical circles and
among the laity, gave little promise of good results even in the event
of the calling together of a great Council. The stormy so-called
Reforming Councils of the fifteenth century had shown the dangers
of the prevailing spirit of independence, and the feeling among the
ecclesiastical authorities was, from motives of caution, averse to the
holding of Councils. Luther, on his part, was well aware how futile was
his appeal to a General Council.

That his request was useless and only intended to gain time was
apparent to all who had any discernment, when, on November 17, 1520,
he again appealed to a “free Christian Council.” Luther’s appeal
was published at the same time as his Latin work “Against the Bull
of End-Christ” Its character is plain from its invitation to the
people “to oppose the mad action of the Pope.” It was a method of
agitation calculated to call forth the applause of those who had become
accustomed to the ecclesiastical radicalism of the so-called reforming

       *       *       *       *       *

Luther gave practical effect to his view regarding the value to be set
on solemn Papal decrees on faith by his famous act before the Elster
Gate of Wittenberg.

On December 10 he there proceeded to burn the Bull of Excommunication
amid the acclamations of his followers amongst the students, whom
he had invited to the spectacle by a public notice exhibited at the
University. Not the Bull only was committed to the flames, but,
according to the programme, also “books of the Papal Constitutions and
of scholastic theology.” Besides the Bull the following were cast into
the great fire: the Decretum of Gratian, the Decretals with the “Liber
Sextus,” the Clementines and the Extravagants, also the Summa Angelica
of Angelus de Clavasio, the work then most in use on the Sacrament of
Penance, books by Eck, particularly that entitled “Chrysopassus,” some
by Emser, and others, too, offered by the zeal of private individuals.
The recently discovered account by Johann Agricola says, that the works
of Thomas and Scotus would also have been consigned to the flames but
that no one was willing to deprive himself of them for this purpose.
According to this writer, whose information is fuller than that of the
authority generally quoted, Luther, while in the act of burning the
Bull, pronounced the words: “Because thou hast destroyed the truth of
the Lord, the Lord consume thee in this fire” (cp. Josue vii. 25).[122]

A few weeks later Luther related, not without pride, how the students
“in the Carnival days made the Pope figure in the show [the students
being dressed up to play the part], seated on a car with great pomp; it
was really too droll. At the stream in the market-place they allowed
him to escape with his Cardinals, bishops and attendants; he was then
chased through various parts of the city: everything was well and
grandly planned; for the enemy of Christ is deserving of such mockery,
since he himself mocks at the greatest Princes and even Christ Himself.
The verses which describe the whole scene are now being printed.” This
was how Luther wrote to Spalatin, who was then with the Elector at the
Diet of Worms.[123]

Evil things were in store for Luther at Worms. It seemed that his
summons thither was unavoidable, since Pope Leo X, in the new Bull,
“_Decet Romanum Pontificem_,” of January 3, 1521, had declared that
Luther, owing to his persistent contumacy, had, _ipso facto_, incurred
excommunication and become liable to the penalties already decreed by
law against heretics.

Certain historians have extolled the great calmness which Luther
preserved even during the stormy days when the excommunication arrived;
they will have it that his composure of mind never deserted him. He
himself, however, speaks otherwise.

 According to his own statements contained in the letters which give
 so speaking a testimony to the state of his mind, he frequently did
 not know what he was doing, and blindly obeyed the impulse which drove
 him onward. Luther’s behaviour at that time was the very reverse of
 the clear-sighted, enlightened and self-controlled conduct of holy and
 virtuous Churchmen when in the midst of storm and stress. He himself
 confessed with regard to his polemics: “Yes, indeed, I feel that I
 am not master of myself (_compos mei non sum_). I am carried away
 and know not by what spirit. I wish evil to none, but I am not on my
 guard against Satan, and it is to this that the fury of my enemies is

 To explain this inward turmoil we must take into account, not only the
 excommunication, but also the unexampled overexertion which at that
 time taxed his mental and physical powers. He was necessarily in a
 state of the utmost nervous tension. “Works of the most varied kind,”
 he says, in the letter quoted, “carry my thoughts in all directions.
 I have to speak publicly no less than twice daily. The revision of
 the Commentary on the Psalms engages my attention. At the same time
 I am preparing sermons for the press, I am also writing against my
 enemies, opposing the Bull in Latin and in German and working at my
 defence. Besides this I write letters to my friends. I am also obliged
 to entertain my ordinary visitors at home.” At this time Luther not
 unfrequently kept three printing-presses at work at once.

Never before had Gutenberg’s art been of such service to any public
cause; all Germany was flooded with Luther’s writings with bewildering

He commenced printing the booklet “To the Christian Nobility” before
it was fully written, and its plan he settled whilst a second pamphlet
of his against Prierias was passing through the press. This, in turn,
was accompanied by a booklet against the Franciscan Alveld. Between
the publication of the three so-called great “Reformation works,”
which, with the new editions immediately called for, followed each
other in rapid succession, came the printing of a sermon on the New
Testament and the tracts already mentioned: “Von den newen Eckischenn
Bullen,” and “Against the Bull of Antichrist” (in Latin); then followed
the publication of his “Warumb des Bapsts und seyner Jüngern Bücher
vorbrant seyn,” then the “Defence of all the Propositions” condemned
in the Bull (in Latin), then the controversial pamphlets: “An den Bock
zu Leyptzck” (Hieronymus Emser), and “Auff des Bocks zu Leypczick
Antwort.” At the same time, however, he published some religious works
of a practical nature, namely the “Tessaradekas,” a book of consolation
for suffering and perturbed Christians, and the commencement of his
exposition of the Magnificat. The latter he dedicated to Johann
Friedrich, the Elector’s nephew; it is not only improving in tone, but
was also of practical use in increasing the esteem in which he was held
at Court.

Such incredible overtaxing of his strength naturally resulted in
a condition of serious mental strain, at the very time, too, when
Luther had to weigh in his mind profound and momentous questions,
vital problems, the treatment of which called for the most utmost
recollection and composure.

 “While I am preaching to others, I myself am a castaway,” so he once
 writes in biblical terms in a letter to Staupitz,[125] “so much does
 intercourse with men carry me away.” Pope Leo X, whose personal
 qualities he had shortly before been praising, becomes in this letter
 a wolf, who in his Bull has condemned all that Staupitz had taught
 regarding God’s mercy. Christ Himself is condemned by the Pope, damned
 and blasphemed. Staupitz might well exhort him to humility, for, alas,
 he knew he was proud, but Staupitz, on his part, was too humble,
 otherwise he would not retreat before the Pope. “Men may accuse me of
 every vice, of pride, adultery, murder and even of Anti-popery, but
 may I never be guilty of a godless silence in the presence of those
 who are crucifying our Lord afresh.... Therefore at least suffer me
 to go on and be carried away even though you may not yourself agree
 to follow (_sine me ire et rapi_).” It is here that he appeals to the
 assistance of Hutten and his party, and to the intervention of the
 Elector Frederick in the words already quoted.[126]

 And yet he confesses to a certain nervousness: “At first I trembled
 and I prayed while burning the Papal books and the Bull. But now I am
 more rejoiced at this than at any previous act of my life; they [the
 Romanists] are a worse pestilence than I had thought.” This he writes
 to his same fatherly friend, Staupitz.[127]

His perturbation, which had become to him almost a life-element, served
to dispel his fears and his doubts: “I am battling with the floods and
am carried away by them (“_fluctibus his rapior et volvor_”). “The
noise [of strife] rages mightily. Both sides are putting their heart
into it.”[128] Catholics discern with grief in this uncanny joy a sad
attempt on his part to find encouragement in the preposterous notion he
fostered of the “devilishness” of the Papacy. They will also perceive
in his outbursts of rage, and in the challenges to violence in which
he indulges in unguarded moments, the effect of the excommunication
working on a mind already stirred to its innermost depths. When we hear
him declare in a popular pamphlet, after the arrival of the Papal Bull,
that it would not be surprising were the Princes, the nobility and
laity to hit the Pope, the bishops, priests and monks over the head and
drive them out of the land,[129] we find that such language agrees only
too well with his furious words in his tract written in 1520 against
Prierias, where he compares the Pope and his followers to a band of

 If murderers are punished with the sword, why then should we not
 proceed with still greater severity against those “teachers of
 perdition” who are determined not to repent? “Why do we not attack
 them with every weapon that comes to hand and wash our hands in their
 blood, if we thereby save ourselves and ours from the most dangerous
 of flames? How happy are those Christians who are not obliged like
 us, the most miserable of men, to live under such an Antichrist.”
 Recognising the ominous character of the passage “_Cur non ...
 manus nostras in sanguine istorum lavamus_,” etc., later Lutherans
 added certain words which appear first in the Jena edition (German
 translation) in 1555: “But God Who says (Deut. xxxii. 35, Rom. xii.
 19) ‘Vengeance is mine’ will find out these His enemies in good time,
 who are not worthy of temporal punishment, but whose punishment must
 be eternal in the abyss of hell.” These words, which are not found
 in the original edition of 1520, are given in Walch’s edition of
 Luther, vol. xviii., p. 245. The argument in exoneration of Luther,
 based upon them by a recent Lutheran, thus falls to the ground. The
 addition will be sought for in vain in the Weimar edition (6, p. 347
 f.), and in that of Erlangen (“Opp. Lat. var.” 2, p. 107). Paulus has
 proved that the falsification of the text was the work of Nicholas
 Amsdorf, who was responsible for the Jena edition, though in the
 Preface he protests that his edition of Luther’s works is free from
 all correction or addition.[130]

 In view of the inflammatory language which he hurled among the
 crowd, assurances of an entirely different character, which, when
 it suited his purpose, he occasionally made for the benefit of the
 Court, really deserve less consideration. In these he is desirous of
 disclaiming beforehand the responsibility for any precipitate and
 dangerous measures taken by men like Hutten, and such as Spalatin
 in his anxiety fancied he foresaw. What Luther wrote on January 16,
 1521, was addressed to him and intended for the Elector;[131] here he
 says that the war for the Gospel ought not to be waged by violence
 and manslaughter, because Antichrist is to be destroyed by “the Word”
 alone. On this occasion he expresses the wish that God would restrain
 the fury of those men who threatened to injure His good cause and who
 might bring about a general rising against the clergy such as had
 taken place in Bohemia (i.e. the Husite insurrection).[132]

 1911, p. 17. He foresees, however, that the Romanists will bring this
 misfortune upon themselves through their obstinate resistance to “the
 Word.” As yet they were holding back (so he wrote when the meeting at
 Worms had commenced); but, should their fury burst forth, then, it was
 generally apprehended that it would lead to a regular Bohemian revolt
 in Germany, in which the clergy would suffer; he himself, however,
 was certainly not to blame, as he had advised the nobility to proceed
 against the Romanists with “edicts” and not with the sword.[133]

The menacing attitude of the Knights seemed to Luther sufficiently
favourable to his cause without their actually declaring war. We shall
return later to Luther’s ideas regarding the use of force in support of
the Evangel (vol. iii. xv. 3).

As for the above-mentioned references to Antichrist, we can only assume
that he had gradually persuaded himself that the Pope really was the
Antichrist of the Bible. According to his opinion the Antichrist of
prophecy was not so much a definite person as the Papacy as a whole,
at least in its then degenerate form. So thoroughly did he imbue his
mind with those biblical images which appealed to him, and so vivid
were the pictures conjured up by his imagination of the wickedness of
his foes, that we cannot be surprised if the idea he had already given
expression to, viz. that the Pope was Antichrist,[134] took more and
more possession of him. Owing to the pseudo-mysticism, under the banner
of which he carried on his war against the Church of Rome, he was the
more prone to indulge in such a view. His lamentations over Babylon and
Antichrist, and his intimate persuasion that he had unmasked Antichrist
and that therefore the second coming of Christ was imminent (see
below), undoubtedly rested on a morbid, pseudo-mystic foundation.

At about that time he set forth his ideas regarding Antichrist in
learned theological form, for the benefit of readers of every nation,
in a Latin exposition of the prophecies of Daniel, in which, according
to him, the Papacy is predicted as Antichrist and described in minutest
detail. This strange commentary is found in his reply to the Italian
theologian Ambrose Catharinus: “_Ad librum Catharini responsio_.”[135]
Cultured foreign readers can scarcely have gained from these pages a
very favourable impression of the imaginative German monk’s method of
biblical exposition. This curious tract followed too quickly upon that
to which it was a reply. Luther received a copy of the book against him
by Catharinus on March 6 or 7, yet, in order to forestall the effect
of the work on the Diet of Worms, in the course of the same month he
composed the lengthy reply which is all steeped in mystical fanaticism.
From that time forward the crazy fiction that the Pope was Antichrist
gained more and more hold of him, so that even towards the end of his
life, as we shall see, he again set about decking it out with new and
more forceful proofs from Holy Scripture.

Luther’s frame of mind again found expression in a tract which he
launched among the people not long after, viz. the “Deuttung des
Munchkalbes.”[136] Here he actually seeks to show in all seriousness
that the horrors of the Papacy, and particularly of the religious
state, had been pointed out by heaven through the birth of a misshapen
calf, an occurrence which at that time was attracting notice. Passages
from the Bible, and likewise Apocalyptic dreams, were pressed in to
serve the author of this lamentable literary production.

Yet, in spite of all these repulsive exaggerations with which his
writings were crammed, nay, on account of these images of a heated
imagination, the attack upon the old Church called forth by Luther
served its purpose with all too many. Borne on the wings of a hatred
inspired by a long-repressed grudge, his pamphlets were disseminated
with lightning speed by discontented Catholics. Language of appalling
coarseness, borrowed from the lips of the lowest of the populace,
seemed to carry everything before it, and the greater the angry
passion it displayed the greater was its success. What one man’s
words can achieve under favourable circumstances was never, anywhere
in the history of the world, so clearly exemplified as in Germany
in those momentous days. Luther’s enthusiastic supporters read his
writings aloud and explained them to the people in the squares and
market-places, and the stream of eloquence falling on ready ears proved
far more effective than the warnings of the clergy, who in many places
were regarded with suspicion or animosity.

Spalatin, in the meantime, was engaged in trying to prevent Luther from
incurring the only too well-founded reproach of openly inciting people
to revolt against the authority of the Empire; with such a charge
against him it would have been difficult for the Elector of Saxony to
protect him.

As, during Spalatin’s stay at Worms, the burning of Luther’s books
had already begun in various places, owing to the putting in force of
the Bull “_Exsurge Domine_,” the courtier was at pains to advise his
impetuous friend as to what he should do respecting such measures. He
counselled Luther to compose a pamphlet addressed to penitents, dealing
with the forbidden books, the matter being a practical one owing to
the likelihood of people confessing in the tribunal of penance that
they possessed works of Luther. It was no easy task to deal with this
question of the duty of confession. Luther, however, felt himself
supported by the attitude assumed by the Elector, at whose command,
so he says, he had first published his new booklet against the Bull,
“Grund und Ursach aller Artickel” (Ground and Reason of all the
[condemned] Articles), in German and Latin.[137]

He therefore determined to carry his war into the confessional and, by
means of a printed work, to decide, in his own favour, the pressing,
practical question regarding his books. The flames were blazing in
the bishoprics of Merseburg and Meissen, and to them were consigned
such of Luther’s writings as had been given up by Catholics or halting
disciples. Easter, too, was drawing near with the yearly confession.
Many a conscience might be stirred up by the exhortations of pious
confessors and be aroused to renewed loyalty to the Church. Luther’s
pamphlet, entitled “Unterricht der Beychtkinder ubir die vorpotten
Bücher” (An Instruction for Penitents concerning the prohibited books),
which appeared in the earlier part of February, 1521, affords us an
insight into the strategies adopted by Lutheranism at its inception.

 The language of this tract is, for a writer like Luther, extremely
 moderate and circumspect, for its object was to enlist in his cause
 the most secret and intimate of all acts, that of the penitent in
 confession; its apparent reticence made it all the more seductive.
 In his new guise of an instructor of consciences, Luther here seems
 fully to recognise the Sacrament of Confession. He has no wish, so he
 protests, to introduce “strife, disputation and dissension into the
 holy Sacrament of Confession.”[138]

 The penitent, who is in the habit of reading his works, he tells to
 beg his confessor in “humble words,” should he question him, not to
 trouble him concerning Luther’s books. He is to say to his confessor:
 “Give me the Absolution to which I have a right, and, after that,
 wrangle about Luther, the Pope and whomsoever else you please.” He
 encourages his readers to make such a request by explaining that these
 books, and likewise Luther’s guilt, have not yet been duly examined,
 that many were in doubt about the Bull, that Popes had often changed
 their minds upon similar matters and contradicted themselves, and that
 a confessor would therefore be acting tyrannically were he to demand
 that the books should be given up; this was, however, the unfair
 treatment to which he had ever been subjected. There was only one
 thing wanting, namely, that Luther should have repeated what he had
 shortly before declared, that, for the sake of peace, he would “be
 quite happy to see his books destroyed,” if only people were permitted
 to keep and read the Bible.[139]

 He continues: Since it might happen that some would be conscientiously
 unable to part with his writings, owing to knowledge or suspicion of
 the truth, such people should quietly waive their claim to Absolution
 should it be withheld. They were nevertheless to “rejoice and feel
 assured that they had really been absolved in the sight of God and
 approach the Sacrament without any shrinking.” Those who were more
 courageous, however, and had a “strong conscience” were to say plainly
 to the “taskmaster” (the confessor): “You have no right to force me
 against my conscience, as you yourself know, or ought to know, Romans
 xiv.” “Confessors are not to meddle with the judgment of God, to whom
 alone are reserved the secrets of the heart.” If, however, communion
 be refused, then all were first to “ask for it humbly,” “and if that
 was of no avail, then they were to let Sacrament, altar, parson and
 Church go”; for “contrary to God’s Word and your conscience no
 commandment can be made, or hold good if made, as they themselves all

 Such a view of the functions of a confessor and of his duty as a
 judge appointed by authority had certainly never been taught in the
 Church, but was entirely novel and unheard of, however much it might
 flatter the ears of the timid, and of those who wavered or were
 actually estranged from the Church. Most of his readers were unaware
 how shamelessly their adviser was contradicting himself, and how this
 apparently well-meaning instructor of consciences in the confessional
 was the very man who in previous polemical tracts had denied that
 there was any difference between priests and laymen.[140] Towards the
 close of this Instruction, however, the author reappears in his true
 colours, and whereas, at the commencement when introducing himself, he
 had spoken of confession as a holy Sacrament, at the end he describes
 it as an unjust invention of the priesthood, and, indeed, in his eyes,
 it was really a mere “human institution.” Towards the conclusion,
 where he relapses into his wonted threatening and abusive language,
 he “begs all prelates and confessors” not to torture consciences in
 the confessional lest the people should begin to question “whence
 their authority and the practice of private confession came”; as if
 his very words did not convey to the reader an invitation to do so.
 “The result,” he prudently reminds them, “might be a revolt in which
 they [the prelates] might be worsted. For though confession is a most
 wholesome thing, everyone knows how apt some are to take offence.”
 He points out how in his case the authorities had driven him further
 and further, well-intentioned though he was: “How many things would
 never have happened had the Pope and his myrmidons not treated me with
 violence and deceit.”[141]

 The Easter confession that year might prove decisive to thousands.
 The little earnestness shown by too many in the practice of their
 religion, the laxity of the German clergy, even the apparent
 insignificance of the question of retaining or perusing certain books,
 all this was in his favour. In the above tract he set before the
 devout souls who were “tyrannised” by their confessors the example of
 Christ and His Saints, who all had suffered persecution; “we must ask
 God to make us worthy of suffering for the sake of His Word.” The more
 imaginative, he likewise warned of the approaching end of the world.
 “Remember that it was foretold that in the days of ‘End-Christ’ no
 one will be allowed to preach, and that all will be looked upon as
 outcasts who speak or listen to the Word of God.” Those who hesitated
 and were scrupulous about keeping Luther’s writings, seeing they had
 been prohibited by law and episcopal decrees as “blasphemous,” he
 sought to reassure by declaring that his books were nothing of the
 kind, for in them he had attacked the person neither of the Pope nor
 of any prelate, but had merely blamed vices, and that if they were to
 be described as blasphemous, then the same “must be said of the Gospel
 and the whole of Holy Scripture.”[142]

Thus, in this ingenious work, each one found something suited to his
disposition and his scruples and calculated to lead him astray. The
culmination is, however, in the words already adduced: Nothing against
conscience, nothing against the Word of God! The “enslaved conscience”
and the “commanding Word of God,” these are the catchwords of which
Luther henceforth makes use so frequently and to such purpose. He
employs these terms as a cloak to conceal the complete emancipation of
the mind from every duty towards a rule of faith and ecclesiastical
authority which he really advocates. The “commanding Word of God,” on
his lips, means the right of independent, private interpretation of
the sacred Books, though he reserves to himself the first place in
determining their sense.

Conscience and the Word of God, words with which Luther had
familiarised the masses from the commencement of his apostasy, were
also to be his cry at the Diet of Worms in 1521, when he stood before
the supreme spiritual and temporal authorities there assembled around
the Emperor. Uttered there before Church and Empire, this cry was to
re-echo mightily and to bring multitudes to his standard.

2. The Diet of Worms, 1521; Luther’s Attitude

The Diet had been assembled at Worms around the Emperor since January
27, 1521.

Charles V showed himself in religious questions a staunch supporter of
the Catholic Church, to which indeed he was most devotedly attached. He
was not, however, always well-advised, and the multitudinous cares of
his empire frequently blinded him to the real needs of the Church, or
else made it impossible for him to act as he would have wished.

On February 13, 1521, in the presence of the Princes and the
States-General of the Empire, Hieronymus Aleander, the Papal Legate
accredited to the Diet, delivered the speech, which has since become
historic, on the duty of the Empire to take action against Luther as
a notorious, obstinate heretic, definitively condemned by the supreme
Papal Court. He did not fail to point out, that “it was a fact of
common knowledge that Luther was inciting the people to rebellion and
that, like the heretics of Bohemia, he was destroying all law and order
in the name and semblance of the Gospel.”[143]

On March 6 Luther was summoned to appear before the Diet at Worms,
the Emperor furnishing him with an escort and guaranteeing his safe
return. Encouraged by the latter promise, secure in the favour of his
own sovereign, and assured of the support of the Knights, he decided to
comply with the summons.

The thought of bearing testimony to his newly discovered Evangel before
the whole country and enjoying the opportunity, by his appearance in
so public a place, of rousing others to enthusiasm for the work he
had undertaken urged him on. Severe bodily ailments from which he was
suffering at that time did not deter him. His illness, he declared, was
merely a trick of “the devil to hinder him”; on his part he would do
all he could to “affright and defy him.” “Christ lives, and we shall
enter Worms in spite of all the gates of hell and the powers of the
air.”[144] To Spalatin we owe an echo from one of Luther’s letters at
that time: “He was determined to go to Worms though there should be as
many devils there as there were tiles on the roofs.”[145]

The journey to Worms resembled a sort of triumphal progress, owing to
the festive reception everywhere prepared for him by his friends, and
in particular by the Humanists.

His arrival at Erfurt was celebrated beforehand by Eobanus Hessus in
a flattering poem. On April 6 the Rector of the University, Crotus
Rubeanus, with forty professors and a great crowd of people, went out
to meet him when he was still three leagues from the city. The address
delivered by Rubeanus at the meeting expressed gratitude for the
“Divine apparition” which was vouchsafed to them in the coming of the
“hero of the Evangel.”[146]

On the following day Luther preached in the Church of the Augustinians.
He spoke of good works: “One erects churches, another makes a
pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella or to St. Peter’s, a third
fasts and prays, wears a cowl or goes barefoot ... such works are of
no avail and must be done away with. Mark these words: All our works
are worthless. I am your justification, says Christ our Lord, I have
destroyed the sins with which you are loaded; therefore believe only
that it is I alone who have done this and you will be justified.”
Luther fired invectives against the intolerable yoke of the Papacy
and against the clergy who “slaughtered the sheep instead of leading
them to pasture.” Himself he represents as persecuted by the would-be
righteous, the Pope and his Bull, on account of his teaching which was
directed against the false self-righteousness arising from works.[147]

On the occasion of this sermon Luther, as his followers asserted,
performed his first miracle, quelling a disturbance excited by the
devil during the sermon in the overcrowded church; the interruption
ceased when Luther had exorcised the fiend.[148]

At Erfurt the enthusiasm for his cause became so great that on the day
after his departure riots broke out, the so-called “Pfaffensturm” or
priest-riot, which will be considered below (xiv. 5), together with
other circumstances attending the introduction of the new Evangel at
Erfurt. Luther was at the time silent concerning the occurrence.[149]
Not long after his arrival at the Wartburg, referring to similar scenes
of violence, he says, in a letter to Melanchthon: “The priests and
monks raged against me like madmen when I was free; but now that I am a
captive they are afraid and have restrained their insane action. They
cannot endure the common people who now have them under their heel.
Behold the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, Who is working for us while
we are silent, suffer and pray.”[150] Nevertheless, when all was over,
he protested against the acts of violence committed at Erfurt in a
letter to Spalatin, which was found in that courtier’s library.[151]

On the journey through Thuringia he met the Prior of the
Rheinhardsbrunn monastery, whom he exhorted as follows: “Say an Our
Father for our Lord Christ that His Father may be gracious to Him. If
He upholds His cause, then mine also is assured.”[152] Such was the
strange manner in which he expressed his real inward feelings. Those
who expected him to recant at Worms did not know their man.

Reaching Worms on April 16 he was, on the following day, submitted to
the first interrogation. To the question whether he was the author
of the books mentioned, he replied in the affirmative, and when
exhorted to retract his errors he begged for “a respite and time for
consideration” that, as he says in his own notes at the time, “as I
have to give a verbal answer I may not through want of caution say too
much, or too little, to repent of it later,” especially as it was a
matter concerning “the highest good in heaven or on earth, the Holy
Word of God and the faith.” The respite granted was only for one day.
On April 18 he declared boldly, at his second interrogation, that
any retractation of the books he had written against the Pope was
impossible for him, since he would thereby be strengthening his tyranny
and unchristian spirit; the consciences of Christians were held captive
in the most deplorable fashion by the Papal laws and the doctrines of
men; even the property of the German nation was swallowed up by the
rapacity of the Romans. He would repeat what Christ had said before the
High Priest and his servants: “If I have spoken evil, give testimony
of the evil”; if the Lord was willing to listen to the testimony of a
servant, “how much more must I, the lowest erring creature, wait and
see whether any man brings forward testimony adverse to my teaching.”
He asks, therefore, to be convinced of error and confuted by the Bible.
“I shall be most ready if I am shown to be wrong to retract every
error.” He owed it to Germany, his native land, to warn those in high
station to beware of condemning the truth. After recommending himself
to the protection of the Emperor against his enemies, he concluded with
the words: “I have spoken.”

On returning after this to the inn through the staring crowds, no
sooner had he reached the threshold than “he stretched out his arms
and cried with a cheerful countenance: ‘I have got through, I have got

The Emperor bade him begone from that very hour, but the Estates, who
were divided in their views as to the measures to be taken, feared a
“revolt in the Holy Empire,” owing to the strength of the feeling in
his favour and the threats uttered by his armed friends, should “steps
be taken against him so hurriedly and without due trial.” Accordingly
an effort was made to persuade Luther by friendly means, through
the intermediary of a commission consisting of certain clerical and
lay members of the Diet under the Archbishop of Treves, Richard of
Greiffenklau. Their pains were, however, in vain.[154]

Even some of his friends besought him to commit his cause to the
Emperor and the Estates of the Empire, but likewise to no purpose. He
also refused the proposal that he should submit to the joint decision
of the Emperor and certain German prelates to be nominated by the Pope.
All he would promise was to hearken to a General Council, but even
this promise he qualified with a proviso which rendered his assent
illusory: “So long as no judgment contrary or detrimental to the
truth is pronounced.” Who but Luther himself was to decide what was
the truth? Cochlæus made an offer, which under the circumstances was
foredoomed to refusal, that a public disputation should be held with
the Wittenberg monk; to this Luther would not listen. Neither would he
give an undertaking to refrain from preaching and writing.

His final declaration at the Diet was as follows: Seeing that a simple
and straightforward answer was demanded of him, he would give it:
“If I am not convinced by proofs from Scripture or clear theological
reasons (‘_ratione evidente_’), then I remain convinced by the passages
which I have quoted from Scripture, and my conscience is held captive
by the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract, for to go against
one’s conscience is neither prudent nor right.” He concluded this
asseveration, after a protest had been raised and caused a tumult
amongst the audience, with the words which passed almost unheard: “God
help me, Amen!” The tragic and solemn setting which was very soon given
to these not at all unusual concluding words, was an uncalled-for
embellishment not in agreement with the oldest sources.[155]

After this, on April 26, in accordance with the command of the Emperor,
he was obliged to quit Worms. An extension of the safe conduct for
twenty-one days was expressly granted him, coupled, however, with
the injunction not to preach or publish anything on the way. Two
days later, while on his journey, Luther forwarded a missive to the
Emperor and another to the Estates in his own defence, the latter being
immediately printed by his friends as a broadsheet. The print depicted
Luther with a halo, and the dove or symbol of the Holy Ghost hovering
over him.

The fact that at the time the Diet was sitting a committee of the
Estates brought forward, under a new form, the so-called “Gravamina of
the German Nation” against the Roman See, was greatly to the advantage
of Luther’s cause. They consisted largely of legitimate suggestions
for the amelioration of ecclesiastical conditions and the removal of
the oppression exercised by the Curia. These were made the subject of
debate, and were exploited in Luther’s interests by those desirous of
innovations. Those among the Humanists who sided with him, and likewise
the Knights of the Empire, had taken various steps during his stay at
Worms to strengthen his position and to frighten the Estates by hinting
at violent action to be undertaken on his behalf.

 Ulrich von Hutten wrote to him from the Ebernburg on April 17: “Keep
 a good heart ... I will stand by you to the last breath if you remain
 true to yourself.” He knows how those assembled at the Diet gnash
 their teeth at him; his fancy indeed paints things black, but his
 hope in God sustains him.[156] In a second letter of April 20, Hutten
 speaks to him of trusting not only in God and His Christ, but also
 in earthly weapons: “I see that sword and bow, arrows and bolts are
 necessary in order to withstand the mad rage of the devil ... the
 wisdom of my friends hinders me from a venture, because they fear lest
 I go too far, otherwise I should already have prepared some kind of
 surprise for these gentlemen under the walls [of Worms]. In a short
 time, however, my hand will be free, and then you shall see that I
 will not be wanting in the spirit which God has roused up in me.”[157]
 In the same way as in his rhetorical language he ascribes his own
 mood to the illumination of the Spirit of God, so Hutten also sought
 to unearth a Divine inspiration in his friend Franz von Sickingen;
 all this was the outcome of Luther’s pseudo-mysticism, to which his
 friends were indebted for such figures of speech. Regarding Sickingen,
 Hutten wrote to Willibald Pirkheimer: “He has, so to speak, drunk in
 Luther completely; he has his little books read aloud at table, and I
 have heard him swear that he will never forsake the cause of truth in
 spite of every danger.” “You may well regard these words as a Divine
 Voice, so great is his constancy.”[158]

 Numerous threats of violence reached the ears of the timorous Estates
 assembled at Worms. A notice was affixed to the Rathaus in which
 400(?) sworn noblemen with 8000(?) men challenged the “Princes and
 Messrs. the Romanists.” It concluded with the watchword of the
 insurgents: “Bundschuh, Bundschuh, Bundschuh.” Towards the close of
 the Diet several hundred knights assembled around Worms.[159]

At the Diet the Elector of Saxony made no secret of his patronage of

He it was who, on the evening before Luther’s departure, informed him
in the presence of Spalatin and others, that he would be seized on the
homeward journey and conducted to a place of safety which would not be
told him beforehand.[160]

After having received this assurance Luther left Worms.

On the journey such was his boldness that he disregarded the Imperial
prohibition to preach, though he feared that this violation of the
conditions laid down would be taken advantage of by his opponents, and
cause him to forfeit his safe-conduct. He himself says of the sermons
which he delivered at Hersfeld and Eisenach, on May 1 and 2, that they
would be regarded as a breach of the obligations he had undertaken
when availing himself of the safe conduct; but that he had been unable
to consent that the Word of God should be bound in chains. He is here
playing on the words of the Bible: “_Verbum Dei non est alligatum_.”
“This condition, even had I undertaken it, would not have been binding,
as it would have been against God.”[161]

After the journey had been resumed the well-known surprise took place,
and Luther was carried off to the Wartburg on May 4.

In his lonely abode, known to only a few of his friends, he awaited
with concern the sentence of outlawry which was to be passed upon him
by the Emperor and the Estates. The edict, in its final form of May 8,
was not published until after the safe-conduct had expired. “To-morrow
the Imperial safe conduct terminates,” Luther wrote on May 11 from the
Wartburg to Spalatin; “ ... It grieves me that those deluded men should
call down such a misfortune upon their own heads. How great a hatred
will this inconsiderate act of violence arouse. But only wait, the time
of their visitation is at hand.”[162] The proclamation of outlawry
was couched in very stern language and enacted measures of the utmost
severity, following in this the traditions of the Middle Ages; Luther’s
writings were to be burnt, and he himself was adjudged worthy of death.
Of Luther the document says, that, “like the enemy of souls disguised
in a monk’s garb,” he had gathered together “heresies old and new.” The
impression made by Luther on the Emperor and on other eminent members
of the Diet, was that of one possessed.[163]

There was, from the first, no prospect of the sentence being carried
into effect. The hesitation of the German Princes of the Church to
publish even the Bull of Excommunication had shown that they were not
to be trusted to put the new measures into execution.

The thoughts of retaliation which were aflame in Luther, i.e. his
expectation of a “Divine judgment” on his adversaries, he committed to
writing in a letter which he forwarded to Franz von Sickingen on June
1, 1521, together with a little work dedicated to him, “Concerning
Confession, whether the Pope has the power to decree it.”[164] In it he
reminds Sickingen that God had slain thirty-one Kings in the land of
Chanaan together with the inhabitants of their cities. “It was ordained
by God that they should fight against Israel bravely and defiantly,
that they should be destroyed and no mercy shown them. This story looks
to me like a warning to our Popes, bishops, men of learning and other
spiritual tyrants.” He feared that it was God’s work that they should
feel themselves secure in their pride, “so that, in the end, they would
needs perish without mercy.” Unless they altered their ways one would
be found who “would teach them, not like Luther by word and letter, but
by deeds.” We cannot here go into the question of why the revolutionary
party in the Empire did not at that time proceed to “deeds.”

3. Legends

The beginning of the legends concerning the Diet of Worms can be traced
back to Luther himself. He declared, only a year after the event,
shortly after his departure from the Wartburg, in a letter of July
15, 1522, intended for a few friends and not for German readers: “I
repaired to Worms although I had already been apprised of the violation
of the safe-conduct by the Emperor Charles.”

 He there says of himself, that, in spite of his timidity, he
 nevertheless ventured “within reach of the jaws of Behemoth [the
 monster mentioned in Job xl.]. And what did these terrible giants [my
 adversaries] do? During the last three years not one has been found
 brave enough to come forward against me here at Wittenberg, though
 assured of a safe-conduct and protection”; “rude and timorous at one
 and the same time” they would not venture “to confront him, though
 single-handed,” or to dispute with him. What would have happened
 had these weaklings been forced to face the Emperor and all-powerful
 foes as he had done at Worms? This he says to the Bohemian, Sebastian
 Schlick, Count of Passun, in the letter in which he dedicates to him
 his Latin work “Against Henry VIII of England.”[165] It is worth
 noting that Luther did not insert this dedication in the German
 edition, but only in the Latin one intended for Bohemia and foreign
 countries where the circumstances were not so well known.

Luther always adhered obstinately to the idea, which ultimately passed
into a standing tradition with many of his followers, that no one
had been willing to dispute with him at Worms or elsewhere during
the period of his outlawry; that he had, in fact, been condemned
unheard; that his opponents had sought to vanquish him by force, not
by confronting him with proofs, and had obstinately shut their ears to
his arguments from Holy Scripture. He finally came to persuade himself,
that they were in their hearts convinced that he was right, but out of
consideration for their temporal interests had not been willing or able
to give in.

 He expressly mentions Duke George of Saxony, as an opponent who
 had taken up the latter position, also the influential Archbishop
 Albrecht of Mayence, and, above all, Johann Eck. “Is it not obdurate
 wickedness,” he exclaims in one of his outbursts, “to be the enemy
 of, and withstand, what is known and recognised as true? It is a
 sin against the first Commandment and greater than any other. But
 because it is not their invention they look on it as nought! Yet
 their own conscience accuses them.”[166] In another passage, in 1528,
 he complains of the persecutors in Church and State who appealed to
 the edict of Worms; “they sought for an excuse to deceive the simple
 people, though they really knew better”; if they act thus, it must be
 right, “were we to do the same, it would be wrong.”[167]

 Yet,even from the vainglorious so-called “Minutes of the Worms
 Negotiations” (“Akten der Wormser Verhandlungen”), published
 immediately after at Wittenberg with Luther’s assistance,[168] it
 is clear that the case was fully argued in his presence at Worms,
 and that he had every opportunity of defending himself, though, from
 a legal point of view, the Bull of Excommunication having already
 been promulgated, the question was no longer open to theological
 discussion. In these “Minutes” the speeches he made in his defence at
 Worms are quoted. Catholic contemporaries even reproached him with
 having allowed himself to be styled therein “Luther, the man of God”;
 his orations are introduced with such phrases as: “Martin replied to
 the rude and indiscreet questions with his usual incredible kindness
 and friendliness in the following benevolent words,” etc.[169]

 In order still further to magnify the bravery he displayed at Worms,
 Luther stated later on that the Pope had written to Worms, “that no
 account was to be made of the safe-conduct.”[170] As a matter of
 fact, however, the Papal Nuncios at Worms had received instructions
 to use every effort to prevent Luther being tried in public, because
 according to Canon Law the case was already settled; if he refused
 to retract, and came provided with a safe-conduct, nothing remained
 but to send him home, and then proceed against him with the utmost
 severity.[171] It was for this reason, according to his despatches,
 that Aleander took no part in the public sessions at which Luther was
 present. Only after Luther, on the return journey, had sent back the
 herald who accompanied him, and had openly infringed the conditions
 of the Imperial safe-conduct, did Aleander propose “that the Emperor
 should have Luther seized.”[172]

 Luther, from the very commencement, stigmatised the Diet of Worms
 as the “Sin of Wormbs, which rejected God’s truth so childishly and
 openly, wilfully and knowingly condemned it unheard”;[173] to him the
 members of the Diet were culpably hardened and obdurate “Pharaohs,”
 who thought Christ could not see them, who, out of “utterly sinful
 wilfulness,” were determined “to hate and blaspheme Christ at Wormbs,”
 and to “kill the prophets, till God forsook them”; he even says:
 “In me they condemned innocent blood at Wormbs; ... O thou unhappy
 nation, who beyond all others has become the lictor and executioner
 of End-Christ against God’s saints and prophets.”[174] An esteemed
 Protestant biographer of Luther is, however, at pains to point out,
 quite rightly, that the Diet could “not do otherwise than condemn
 Luther.” “By rejecting the sentence of the highest court he placed
 himself outside the pale of the law of the land. Even his very friends
 were unable to take exception to this.” It is, he says, “incorrect
 to make out, as so many do, that Luther’s opponents were merely
 impious men who obstinately withstood the revealed truth.” This author
 confines himself to remarking that, in his own view, it was a mistake
 to have “pronounced a formal sentence” upon such questions.[175]

That Luther, at the Diet of Worms, bore away the palm as the heroic
defender of entire freedom of research and of conscience, and as the
champion of the modern spirit, is a view not in accordance with a fair
historical consideration of the facts.

He himself was then, and all through life, far removed from the idea of
any freedom of conscience in the modern sense, and would have deemed
all who dared to use it against Divine Revelation, as later opponents
of religion did, as deserving of the worst penalties of the mediæval
code. “It is an altogether one-sided view, one, indeed, which wilfully
disregards the facts, to hail in Luther the man of the new age, the
hero of enlightenment and the creator of the modern spirit.” Such is
the opinion of Adolf Harnack.[176]

At Worms, Luther spoke of himself as being bound by the Word of God. It
is true he claimed the freedom of interpreting Holy Scripture according
to his own mind, or, as he said, according to the understanding
bestowed on him by God, and of amending all such dogmas as displeased

But he would on no account cease to acknowledge that a revealed Word
of God exists and claims submission from the human mind, whereas, from
the standpoint of the modern free-thinker, there is no such thing
as revelation. The liberty of interpreting revelation, which Luther
proclaimed at Worms, or, to be more exact, calmly assumed, marked, it
is true, a great stride forward in the road to the destruction of the

Luther failed to point out at Worms how such liberty, or rather
licence, agreed with the institutions established by Christ for the
preservation and perpetual preaching of His doctrine of salvation.
He was confronted by a Church, still recognised throughout the whole
public life of the nations, which claimed as her own a Divine authority
and commission to interpret the written Word of God. She was to the
Faithful the lighthouse by which souls struggling in the waves of
conflicting opinions might safely steer their course. In submitting his
own personal opinion to the solemn judgment of an institution which had
stood the test of time since the days of Christ and the Apostles, the
Wittenberg Professor had no reason to fear any affront to his dignity.
Whoever submitted to the Church accepted her authority as supreme, but
he did not thereby forfeit either his freedom or his dignity; he obeyed
in order not to expose himself to doubt or error; he pledged himself
to a higher, and better, wisdom than he was able to reach by his own
strength, by the way of experience, error and uncertainty. The Church
plainly intimated to the heresiarch the error of his way, pointing
out that the freedom of interpretation which he arrogated to himself
was the destruction of all sure doctrine, the death-blow to the truth
handed down, the tearing asunder of religious union, and the harbinger
of endless dissensions.--We here see where Luther’s path diverged from
that followed by Catholics. He set up subjectivity as a principle, and
preached, together with the freedom of interpreting Scripture, the most
unfettered revolt against all ecclesiastical authority, which alone
can guarantee the truth. The chasm which he cleft still yawns; hence
the difference of opinion concerning the sentence pronounced at Worms.
We are not at liberty to conceal this fact from ourselves, nor can we
wonder at the conflicting judgments passed on the position then assumed
by Luther.

 We may perhaps be permitted to quote a Protestant opinion which throws
 some light on Luther’s “championship of entire freedom of conscience.”
 It is that of an experienced observer of the struggles of those
 days, Friedrich Paulsen: “The principle of 1521, viz. to allow no
 authority on earth to dictate the terms of faith, is anarchical; with
 it no Church can exist.... The starting-point and the justification
 of the whole Reformation consisted in the complete rejection of all
 human authority in matters of faith.... If, however, a Church is to
 exist, then the individual must subordinate himself and his belief
 to the body as a whole. To do this is his duty, for religion can
 only exist in a body, i.e. in a Church.”[177] ... “Revolution is the
 term by which the Reformation should be described ... Luther’s work
 was no Reformation, no ‘reforming’ of the existing Church by means
 of her own institutions, but the destruction of the old shape, in
 fact, the fundamental negation of any Church at all. He refused to
 admit any earthly authority in matters of faith, and regarding morals
 his position was practically the same; he left the matter entirely
 to the individual conscience.... Never has the possibility of the
 existence of any ecclesiastical authority whatsoever been more rudely

 “It is true that this is not the whole Luther,” he continues.
 “The same Luther who here advocates ecclesiastical ‘anarchy’ at
 a later date was to oppose those whose conscience placed another
 interpretation on God’s Word than that discovered in it by the
 inhabitants of Wittenberg.” Paulsen quotes certain sentences in
 which Luther, shortly afterwards, denounced all deviations from
 his teaching: “My cause is God’s cause,” and “my judgment is God’s
 judgment,” and proceeds: “Nothing was left for the Reformers, if there
 was to be a Church at all, but to set up their own authority in place
 of the authority of the Popes and the Councils. Only on one tiresome
 point are they at a disadvantage, anyone being free to appeal from the
 later Luther to the Luther of Worms.” “Just as people are inclined
 to reject external authority, so they are ready to set up their own.
 This is one of the roots from which spring the desire for freedom
 and the thirst for power. It was not at all Luther’s way to consider
 the convictions of others as of equal importance with his own.” This
 he clearly demonstrated in the autocratic position which he claimed
 for the Wittenberg theology as soon as the “revolutionary era of the
 Reformation had passed.”

 “The argument which Luther had employed in 1521 against the Papists,
 i.e. that it was impossible to confute him from Scripture, he found
 used against himself in his struggle with the ‘fanatics’ who also
 urged that no one could prove them wrong by Scripture.... For the
 confuting of heretics a Rule of faith is necessary, a living one which
 can decide questions as they arise.... One who pins his faith to what
 Luther did in 1521 might well say: If heretics cannot be confuted from
 Scripture, this would seem to prove that God does not attach much
 importance to the confutation of heretics; otherwise He would have
 given us His Revelation in catechisms and duly balanced propositions
 instead of in Gospels and Epistles, in Prophets and Psalms....
 On the one hand there can be no authority on earth in matters of
 faith, and on the other there must be such an authority, such is the
 antinomy which lies at the foundation of the Protestant Church.... A
 contradiction exists in the very essence of Protestantism. On the one
 hand the very idea of a Church postulates oneness of faith manifested
 by submission; on the other the conviction that if faith in the
 Protestant sense is to exist at all, then each person must answer
 for himself; ... it is _my_ faith alone which helps me, and if my
 faith does not agree with the faith and doctrine of others, I cannot
 for that reason abandon it.... The fact is, there has never been a
 revolution conducted on entirely logical lines.”[179]

 That “authority in matters of faith” which Luther began to claim for
 himself, did not prevent him in the ensuing years from insisting
 on the right of private judgment, though all the while he was
 interpreting biblical Revelation in accordance with his own views.
 As time went on he became, however, much more severe towards the
 heretics who diverged from his own standpoint. But this was only when
 the “revolutionary era of the Reformation,” as Paulsen calls it, was
 over and gone. So long as it lasted he would not and could not openly
 refuse to others what he claimed for himself. Even in 1525 we find him
 declaring that “the authorities must not interfere with what each one
 wishes to teach and to believe, whether it be the Gospel or a lie.”
 He is here speaking of the authorities, but his own conduct in the
 matter of tolerating heretics was even then highly inconsistent, to
 say nothing of toleration of Catholics.

 From the above it is easy to see that the freedom which Luther
 advocated at Worms cannot serve as the type of our modern freedom of
 thought, research and conscience.

To return to the historical consideration of the event at Worms, the
words already mentioned, “God help me, Amen!” call for remark.

The celebrated exclamation put into Luther’s mouth: “Here I stand. I
cannot do otherwise. God help me, Amen!” usually quoted as the briefest
and most characteristic expression of his “exalted, knightly act” at
Worms, is a legend which has not even the credit of being incorporated
in Luther’s Latin account of his speech.

 He himself gives the conclusion as simply: “God help me, Amen,” a
 formula which has nothing emphatic about it, was customary at the end
 of a discourse and is to be found elsewhere in Luther’s own writings.
 Its embellishment by the historic addition was produced at Wittenberg,
 where it was found desirable to render “the words rather more forcible
 and high-sounding.” “There is not the faintest proof that the
 amplification came from anyone who actually heard the words.”[180] The
 most that can be said is that it may have grown up elsewhere.[181]
 The enlarged form is first found in the two editions of the discourse
 printed by Grüneberg at Wittenberg in 1521, one in Latin and the other
 in German, which are based as to the remaining portion on notes on the
 subject emanating from Luther. Karl Müller, the last thoroughly to
 examine the question, opines that Luther’s concluding phrase may very
 easily have been amplified without the co-operation of Luther or of
 any actual witness. The proposal made in 1897 in Volume vii. of the
 Weimar edition of Luther’s works to accept as reliable Grüneberg’s
 edition which contains the altered form of the phrase, must, according
 to Karl Müller, be regarded as “a total failure,” nor does he think
 much better of the Weimar edition in its account of the Worms Acts

 How little the exclamation can pretend to any special importance is
 clear from a note of Conrad Peutinger’s, who was present during the
 address and committed his impression to writing the following day.
 When Luther had finished his explanation, so it runs, the “official”
 again exhorted him to retract, seeing he had already been condemned by
 higher councils. Thereupon Luther retorted that the Councils “had also
 erred and over and over again contradicted themselves and come into
 opposition with the Divine Law. This the ‘official’ denied. Luther
 insisted that it was so and offered to prove it. This brought the
 discussion suddenly to an end, and there was a great outcry as Luther
 left the place. In the midst of it he recommended himself submissively
 to His Imperial Mt. [Majesty]. Before concluding he uttered the words:
 May God come to my help.” According to this account the words were
 interjected as Luther was about to leave the assembly, in the midst of
 the tumult and “great outcry” which followed his recommending himself
 to the Imperial protection.

 In view of the circumstances just described, P. Kalkoff, years
 ago, admitted that Luther’s words as quoted above had “no claim to
 credibility,”[182] while, quite recently, H. Böhmer declared that “it
 would be well not to quote any more these most celebrated of Luther’s
 words as though they were his. Many will be sorry, yet the absence
 of these words need not affect our opinion of Luther’s behaviour at
 Worms.”[183] W. Friedensburg is also of opinion that “we must, at any
 rate, give up the emphatic conclusion of the speech--‘Here I stand,’
 etc.--as unhistorical; the searching examinations made in connection
 with the Reichstagsakten have rendered it certain that Luther’s
 conclusion was simply: ‘God help me, Amen.’” Of this Karl Müller
 adduced conclusive proofs.[184]

 The immense success of the legend of the manly, decisive, closing
 words so solemnly uttered in the assembly is quite explicable when we
 come to consider the circumstances. The Diet, an event which stands
 out in such strong relief in Luther’s history, where his friends
 seemed to see his star rising on the horizon only to set again
 suddenly behind the mountain fortress, was itself of a nature to
 invite them to embellish it with fiction.

Apart from the legends in circulation among Luther’s friends, there
were others which went the rounds among his opponents and later
polemics. Such is the statement to the effect that Luther played the
coward at Worms, and that his assumed boldness and audacity was merely
due to the promises of material assistance, or, as Thomas Münzer
asserts, to actual coercion on the part of his own followers.

 According to all we have seen, Luther’s chief motive-force was his
 passionate prepossession in favour of his own ideas. It is true that,
 especially previous to the Diet, this was alloyed with a certain
 amount of quite reasonable fear. He himself admits, that when summoned
 to Worms, he “fell into a tremble” till he determined to bid defiance
 to the devils there.[185] On his first appearance before the Diet on
 April 17, he spoke, according to those who heard him, “in an almost
 inaudible voice,” and gave the impression of being a timid man.[186]
 Later his enthusiasm and his boldness increased with the lively sense
 of the justice of his cause aided by the applause of sympathisers.
 There can be no doubt that he was stimulated to confidence not merely
 by the thought of the thousands who were giving him their moral
 support, but by the offers of material help he had received, and
 by his knowledge that the atmosphere of the Diet was charged with
 electricity. “Counts and Nobles,” he himself says later, “looked hard
 at me; as a result of my sermon, as people in the know think, they
 lodged in court a charge of 400 Articles [the ‘Gravamina’] against
 the clergy. They [the members of the Diet] had more cause to fear me
 than I to fear them, for they apprehended a tumult.”[187] It was his
 fiery conviction that he had rediscovered the Gospel and torn away the
 mask of Antichrist, combined with his assurance of outward support,
 that inspired him with that “mad courage” of which he was wont to talk
 even to the end of his life: “I was undismayed and feared nothing;
 God alone is able to make a man mad after this fashion; I hardly know
 whether I should be so cheery now.”[188]

The unfavourable accounts, circulated from early days among Luther’s
opponents concerning his mode of life at Worms, must not be allowed to
pass unchallenged.

 Luther was said to have “distinguished himself by drunkenness,” and
 to have indulged in moral “excesses.” Incontrovertible proof would be
 necessary to allow of our accepting such statements of a time when he
 was actually under the very eyes of the highest authorities, clerical
 and lay, and a cynosure of thousands. We should have to ask ourselves
 how he came to prejudice his judges still further by intemperance and
 a vicious life. The accounts appealed to do not suffice to establish
 the charge, consisting as they do of general statements founded partly
 on the impression made by Luther’s appearance, partly on reports
 circulated by his enemies. That the friends of the Church were all
 too ready to believe everything, even the worst, of the morals of
 so defiant and dangerous a heretic, was only to be expected. The
 reports were not treated with sufficient discernment even in the
 official papers, but accepted at their face-value when they suited
 the purposes of his foes. Luther seemed deficient in the recollection
 looked for in a religious, though he wore the Augustinian habit; the
 self-confidence, which he never lost an occasion of displaying, had
 the appearance of presumption and excessive self-sufficiency; it may
 also be that the manners which he had inherited from his low-born
 Saxon parents excited hostile comment among the cultured members
 of the Diet; if he indulged a little in the good Malvasian wine in
 which his friends pledged him, this would be regarded by strangers as
 betraying his German love of the bottle; at the same time it is true
 that, when starting for Worms, and likewise during the journey, it is
 reported how, with somewhat unseemly mirth, he had not scrupled to
 indulge in the juice of the grape, perhaps to dispel sad thoughts.

 Caspar Contarini, the Venetian ambassador, who was present at Worms,
 wrote to Venice: “Martin has scarcely fulfilled the expectations
 cherished of him here by all. He displays neither a blameless life
 nor any sort of cleverness. He is quite unversed in learning and
 has nothing to distinguish him but his impudence.”[189] Perhaps the
 remark concerning Luther’s want of culture and wit, on which alone
 the Venetian here lays stress, was an outcome of Luther’s behaviour
 at his first interrogation; we have already seen how another witness
 alludes to the nervousness then manifested by him, but over which he
 ultimately triumphed.[190]

 The second authority appealed to, viz. the Nuncio, Hieronymus
 Aleander, writes more strongly against Luther than does Contarini. It
 is not however certain that he was an “eye-witness,” as he has been
 termed, at least it is doubtful whether he ever saw Luther while he
 was in the town, though he describes his appearance, his demeanour and
 look, as though from personal observation.[191] Aleander speaks much
 from hearsay, collects impressions and tittle-tattle at haphazard, and
 enters into no detail, save that he sets on record the “many bowls of
 Malvasian” which Luther, “being very fond of that wine,” drank before
 his departure from Worms. It is he who wrote to Rome that the Emperor,
 so soon as he had seen Luther, exclaimed: “This man will never make a
 heretic of me.” Aleander merely adds, that almost everybody looked
 on Luther as a stupid, possessed fool; and that it was unnecessary
 to speak of “the drunkenness to which he was so much addicted, and
 the many other instances of coarseness in his looks, words, acts,
 demeanour and gait.” By his behaviour he had forfeited all the respect
 the world had had for him. He describes him as dissolute and a
 demoniac (“dissoluto, demoniaco”).[192] Yet Count Hoyer of Mansfeld,
 who will be referred to more particularly below, and who blames
 Luther’s moral conduct after his stay at the Wartburg, alleging it as
 his reason for forsaking his cause, admits that, while at Worms, he,
 the Count, had been quite Lutheran; hence nothing to the prejudice of
 Luther’s morals can have reached his ears there. In the absence of any
 further information we may safely assume that it was merely Luther’s
 general behaviour which was rather severely criticised at the great
 assembly of notables.

A capital opportunity for a closer study of Luther’s mind is afforded
by his life and doings in the Wartburg.

4. Luther’s sojourn at the Wartburg

The solitude of the Wartburg afforded Luther a refuge for almost ten
months, to him a lengthy period.

Whereas but a little while before he had been inspirited by the loud
applause of his followers and roused by the opposition of those in high
places to a struggle which made him utterly oblivious of self, here, in
the quiet of the mountain stronghold, the thoughts born of his solitude
assailed him in every conceivable form. He was altogether thrown upon
himself and his studies. The croaking of the ravens and magpies about
the towers in front of his windows sounded like the voices which spoke
in the depths of his soul.

Looking back upon his conduct at Worms, he now began to doubt; how,
indeed, could an outlaw do otherwise, even had he not undertaken so
subversive a venture as Luther? To this was added, in his case, the
responsibility for the storm he had let loose on his beloved native
land. His own confession runs: “How often did my heart faint for fear,
and reproach me thus: You wanted to be wise beyond all others. Are
then all others in their countless multitude mistaken? Have so many
centuries all been in the wrong? Supposing you were mistaken, and,
owing to your mistake, were to drag down with you to eternal damnation
so many human creatures!”[193]

He must often have asked himself such questions, especially at the
beginning of the “hermit life,” as he calls it, which he led within
those walls. But to these questionings he of set purpose refused to
give the right answer; he had set out on the downward path and could
not go back; of this he came to convince himself as the result of a
lengthy struggle.

This is the point which it is incumbent on the psychologist to study
beyond all else. Luther’s everyday life and his studies at Worms have
been discussed often enough already.

 It is unheard of, so he says in the accounts he gives of his interior
 struggles in those days, “to run counter to the custom of so many
 centuries and to oppose the convictions of innumerable men and such
 great authorities. How can anyone turn a deaf ear to these reproaches,
 insults and condemnations?” “How hard is it,” he exclaims from his own
 experience, “to come to terms with one’s own conscience when it has
 long been accustomed to a certain usage [like that of the Papists],
 which is nevertheless wrong and godless. Even with the plainest words
 from Holy Scripture I was scarcely able so to fortify my conscience as
 to venture to challenge the Pope, and to look on him as Antichrist,
 on the bishops as the Apostles of Antichrist and the Universities as
 his dens of iniquity!” He summoned all his spirit of defiance to his
 aid and came off victorious. “Christ at length strengthened me by His
 words, which are steadfast and true. No longer does my heart tremble
 and waver, but mocks at the Popish objections; I am in a haven of
 safety and laugh at the storms which rage without.”[194]

 From the Catholic point of view, what he had done was violently to
 suppress the higher voice which had spoken to him in his solitude. Yet
 this voice was again to make itself heard, and with greater force than

 Luther had then succeeded so well in silencing it that he was able
 to write to his friends, as it seems, without the slightest scruple,
 that, as to Worms, he was only ashamed of not having spoken more
 bravely and emphatically before the whole Empire; were he compelled to
 appear there again, they would hear a very different tale of him. “I
 desire nothing more ardently than to bare my breast to the attacks of
 my adversaries.” He spent his whole time in picturing to himself “the
 empire of Antichrist,” a frightful vision of the wrath of God.[195]
 With such pictures he spurs himself on, and encourages Melanchthon,
 with whose assistance he was unable to dispense, to overcome his
 timidity and vacillation. In many of his letters from the Wartburg
 he exhorts his friends to courage and confidence, being anxious to
 counteract by every possible effort the ill-effects of his absence.
 In these letters his language is, as a rule, permeated by a fanatical
 and, at times, mystical tone, even more so than any of his previous
 utterances. He exhibits even less restraint than formerly in his
 polemics. “Unless a man scolds, bites and taunts, he achieves nothing.
 If we admonish the Popes respectfully, they take it for flattery and
 fancy they have a right to remain unreformed. But Jeremias exhorts
 me, and says to me: ‘Cursed be he who does the work of the Lord
 deceitfully’ (xlviii. 10), and calls for the use of the sword against
 the enemies of God.”[196]

Two phenomena which accompanied this frenzy render it still graver
in the eyes of an onlooker. These were, on the one hand, certain
occurrences which bordered on hallucination, and, on the other,
frightful assaults of the tempter.

Concerning both, his letters of that time, and likewise his own
accounts at a later date, supply us with definite information. It
is, indeed, a dark page on which they direct our attention. All the
circumstances must carefully be borne in mind. First, much must be
attributed to the influence of his new and unaccustomed place of abode
and the strange nature of his surroundings. His gloomy meditations
and enforced leisure; a more generous diet, which, in comparison with
his former circumstances, meant to the Monk, now metamorphosed into
“Squire George,” an almost luxurious mode of living; finally, bodily
discomfort, for instance, the constipation to which he frequently
refers as troubling him,[197] all this tended to develop an abnormal
condition of soul to which his former psychological states of terror
may also have contributed. He fancied, and all his life maintained,
that in the Wartburg he had suffered bodily assaults of the devil.

Luther believed that he had not only heard the devil tormenting him
by day, and more particularly by night, with divers dreadful noises,
but that he had seen him in his room under the form of a huge black
dog, and had chased him away by prayer. His statements, to which we
shall return in detail in another connection (vol. vi., xxxvi. 3;
cp. vol. v., xxxi. 4), are such as presuppose, at the very least,
the strangest illusions. Some have even opined that he suffered from
real hallucinations of hearing and sight, though they have adduced
no definite proof of such. The disputes with the devil, of which he
speaks, are certainly nothing more than a rhetorical version of his own

 If Luther brought with him to the Wartburg a large stock of popular
 superstition, he increased it yet more within those dreary walls,
 thanks to the sensitiveness of his lively imagination, until he
 himself became the plaything of his fancy. “Because he was so lonely,”
 writes his friend the physician Ratzeberger, on the strength of
 Luther’s personal communication, “he was beset with ghosts and noisy
 spirits which gave him much concern.” And after quoting the tale of
 the dog he goes on: “Such-like and many other ghosts came to him at
 that time, all of which he drove away by prayer, and which he would
 not talk about, for he said he would never tell anyone by how many
 different kinds of ghosts he had been molested.”[198]

The temptations of the flesh which he then experienced Luther also
attributed, in the main, to the devil. They fell upon him with greater
force than ever before. Their strength displeased him, according to
his letters, and he sought to resist them, though it is plain from his
words that he realised the utter futility of his desire to rid himself
of them. In this state of darkness he directed his thoughts more
vigorously than heretofore to the question of monastic vows and their
binding power. He seems to be clanking the chains by which he had by
his own vow freely pledged himself to the Almighty.

 In July, 1521, in a letter from the Wartburg to his friend
 Melanchthon, while repudiating, in the somewhat bombastic fashion
 of the Humanists, Melanchthon’s praise, he makes the following
 confession: “Your good opinion of me shames and tortures me. For I
 sit here [instead of working for God’s cause as you fondly imagine]
 hardened in immobility, praying, unhappily, too little instead of
 sighing over the Church of God; nay, I burn with the flames of
 my untamed flesh; in short, I ought to be glowing in the spirit,
 and instead I glow in the flesh, in lust, laziness, idleness and
 drowsiness, and know not whether God has not turned away His face from
 me because you have ceased to pray for me. You, who are more rich
 in the gifts of God than I, are now holding my place. For a whole
 week I have neither written, prayed nor studied, plagued partly by
 temptations of the flesh, partly by the other trouble.” The other
 trouble was the painful bodily ailment mentioned above, to which
 he returns here in greater detail. “Pray for me,” he concludes this
 letter--in which he seeks to confirm his friends in the course upon
 which they had set out,--“pray, for in this solitude I am sinking
 into sin.”[199] And in another letter, in December, we again have an
 allusion to his besetting temptations: “I am healthy in body and am
 well cared for, but I am also severely tried by sin and temptations.
 Pray for me, and fare you well.”[200] He here speaks of sins _and_
 temptations, but it may well be that under “sins” he here, as
 elsewhere, comprehends concupiscence, which he, in accordance with his
 teaching, looked upon as sin.

 “Believe me,” he says in a letter of that time to Nicholas Gerbel of
 Strasburg, “in the quiet of my hermitage I am exposed to the attacks
 of a thousand devils. It is far easier to fight against men, who are
 devils incarnate, than against the ‘spirits of wickedness dwelling in
 high places’ (Eph. vi. 12). I fall frequently, but the right hand of
 the Lord again raises me up.”[201]

 The distaste which was growing up within him for the vow of chastity
 which he had once esteemed so highly, did not appear to him to come
 from the devil, for he congratulates the same friend that he has
 forsaken the “unclean and in its nature damnable state of celibacy,”
 in order to enter the “married state ordained by God.” “I consider the
 married state a true Paradise, even though the married couple should
 live in the greatest indigence.” At the same time he privately informs
 Gerbel, that, with the co-operation of Melanchthon, he has already
 started “a powerful conspiracy with the object of setting aside the
 vows of the clergy and religious.” He is here alluding to the tract
 he was then writing “On Monastic Vows.” “The womb is fruitful, and
 is soon due to bring forth; if Christ wills it will give birth to a
 child [the tract in question], which shall break in pieces with a rod
 of iron (Apoc. xii. 5) the Papists, sophists, religiosists [defenders
 of religious Orders] and Herodians.” “O how criminal is Antichrist,
 seeing that Satan by his means has laid waste all the mysteries of
 Christian piety.... I daily see so much that is dreadful in the
 wretched celibacy of young men and women that nothing sounds more evil
 in my ears than the words nun, monk and priest.”[202]

Hence, at the beginning of November, 1521, when he was engaged on the
momentous work “On Monastic Vows,” he believed he had found decisive
biblical arguments against the state of chastity and continence,
recommended though it had been by Christ and His Apostles.

Previously the case had been different, when Carlstadt and others
first began to boggle at vows; Luther was then still undecided, seeking
for ostensibly theological arguments with which to demolish the
difficulty. At that time he had been troubled by such plain biblical
words as those of the Psalmist, “Vow ye and pray to the Lord your God”
(Ps. lxxv. 12). Even in August, 1521, he had confided his scruples to
Spalatin from the Wartburg: “What can be more perilous than to invite
so large a number of unmarried persons to enter into matrimony on the
strength of a few passages of doubtful meaning? The consequence will
only be that consciences will be still more troubled than they are at
present. I, too, would fain see celibacy made optional, as the Gospel
wills, but I do not yet see my way to proving this.”[203] We likewise
find him criticising rather unkindly Melanchthon’s reasons, because
they took a wrong way to a goal after which he was himself ardently
striving, viz. the setting aside of the vow of celibacy. He was
suffering, he admits, “grievous pain through being unable to find the
right answer to the question.”[204]

Such efforts were naturally crowned with success in the end.

Five weeks later he was able to inform Melanchthon: “It seems to me
that now I can say with confidence how our task is to be accomplished.
The argument is briefly this: Whoever has taken a vow in a spirit
opposed to evangelical freedom must be set free and his vow be
anathema. Such, however, are all those who have taken the vow in the
search for salvation, or justification. Since the greater number of
those taking vows make them for this reason, it is clear that their
vow is godless, sacrilegious, contrary to the Gospel and hence to be
dissolved and laid under a curse.”[205]

Thus it was the indefinite and elastic idea of “evangelical freedom”
which was finally to settle the question. Concerning his own frame of
mind while working out this idea in his tract, he says to Spalatin,
on November 11, in a letter of complaint about other matters: “I am
going to make war against religious vows.... I am suffering from
temptations, and out of temper, so don’t be offended. There is more
than one Satan contending with me; I am alone, and yet at times not

The book was finished in November and sent out under the title, “On
Monastic Vows.”[207] The same strange argument, based on evangelical
freedom, recurs therein again and again under all sorts of rhetorical
forms; the tract is also noteworthy for its distortion of the Church’s
teaching,[208] though we cannot here enter in detail into its theology
and misstatements. The very origin of the book does not inspire
confidence. Many great and monumental historical works and events
have originated in conditions far from blameless, but few of Luther’s
writings have sprung from so base a source as this one; yet its results
were far-reaching, and it was a means of seducing countless wavering
and careless religious, depicting the monasteries and furthering
immensely the new evangelical teaching. While writing the book Luther
had naturally in his mind the multitude he was so desirous of setting
free, and chose his language accordingly.

But what were his thoughts concerning himself at that period, when the
idea of matrimony had not yet dawned upon him?

 In the letter to Melanchthon just referred to, he says of himself: “If
 I had had the above argument [concerning evangelical freedom] before
 my eyes when I made my vow, I should never have taken it. I too am,
 therefore, uncertain as to the frame of mind in which I did take it; I
 was rather carried away than drawn, such was God’s will; I fear that
 I too made a godless and sacrilegious vow.... Later, when the vows
 were made, my earthly father, who was angry about it all, said to me
 when he had calmed down: ‘If only it was not a snare of Satan!’ His
 words made such an impression on me that I remember them better than
 anything else he ever said, and I believe that through his mouth God
 spoke to me, at a late hour indeed, and as from afar, to rebuke and
 warn me.”[209]

 Very closely connected with his own development is the fact that at
 that time, on several occasions, he described most glaringly and
 untruthfully the moral corruption in which the Papists were sunk,
 owing to the vow of chastity and the state of celibacy. It seems
 to have been his way of quieting his conscience. So greatly does
 he generalise concerning the evil which he attributes with much
 exaggeration to his fellows in the religious state, representing it
 as an inevitable result of monastic life, that, strange to say, he
 forgets to except himself. Only at a much later date did he casually
 inform his hearers that, through God’s dispensation, he had preserved
 his chastity.[210]

 As to whether he himself had any intention then of dissolving his
 vow by marriage, we may put on record what he had said at an earlier
 date in a written sermon intended for the general public: “I hope I
 have got so far that, with God’s grace, I may remain as I am,” but
 he adds: “though I am not yet out of the wood and dare not compare
 myself to the chaste hearts, still I should be sorry and pray God
 graciously to preserve me from it.”[211] The “chaste hearts” are the
 “false saints” whom he is assailing in that particular section of his
 sermon. To the “false saints” he opposes the true ones, much as in his
 earliest sermons at Wittenberg he had attacked the stricter monks and
 their observance, describing them opprobriously as little saints and
 proud self-righteous by works. The connecting link between the two,
 i.e. his erroneous opposition to all good works and renunciation of
 sensuality, here, and again and again elsewhere, is clearly Luther’s

 He fancies he hears those who were desirous of faithfully keeping the
 vow they had made to God reproaching him with his sensuality, “how
 they open their jaws,” and say, “alas, poor monk, how he must feel
 the weight of his cowl, how pleased he would be to have a wife! But
 let them blaspheme,” such is his answer, one typical of his language
 on the subject, “let them blaspheme, these chaste hearts and great
 saints, let them be of iron and stone as they feign to be; but as for
 you, beware of forgetting that you are a man of flesh and blood; leave
 it to God to judge between the angelical and mighty heroes and the
 despised and feeble sinners. If you only knew who they are who make a
 show of such great chastity and discipline, and what that is of which
 St. Paul speaks, Ephesians v. 12: ‘For of the things that are done
 by them in secret it is a shame even to speak,’ you would not esteem
 their boasted chastity fit even for a prostitute to wipe her boots
 on. Here we have the perversion that the chaste are the unchaste and
 deceive all that come in contact with them.”[212]

 Yet the pious religious who were true to their vows would certainly
 have been the last to deny that they were mere flesh and blood;
 they did not pretend to be made of “iron,” nor did they vaunt their
 “boasted chastity,” but prayed to God, did humble penance, and so
 acquired the grace necessary for keeping what they had cheerfully
 vowed in the fear of the Lord and in the consoling hope of an eternal
 reward. On the other hand, we hear but little of Luther’s praying in
 the Wartburg, and still less of his having performed penance. And yet
 those walls were full of the memory of that great Saint, Elizabeth
 of Hungary, whose life was a touching example of zealous prayer and

 Luther, during his stay in the Castle, accused himself in very strong
 terms, which, however, he did not intend to be taken literally, of
 gluttony and luxurious living, and also of idleness. “I sit here all
 day in idleness and fill my belly,” he says in hyperbolical language
 on May 14, 1521, in a letter to Spalatin,[213] soon after his arrival
 at the Wartburg. Already before this, at Wittenberg, in a letter to
 Staupitz, he had reproached himself with drunkenness.[214]

 If, however, the “luxury” with which he reproached himself was no
 graver than his “idleness,” then Luther is not really in such a bad
 case, for his “idleness” was so little meant to be taken literally,
 that, in the same letter, he immediately goes on to speak of his
 literary projects: “I am about to write a German sermon on the freedom
 of auricular confession [this duly appeared and was dedicated to
 Sickingen]; I also intend to continue the Commentary on the Psalms [a
 plan never realised]; also my postils as soon as I have received what
 I require from Wittenberg [the German postil alone was published]; I
 am also awaiting the unfinished MS. of the Magnificat [this also was
 published later].”

It was not in his nature to be really idle.

His chief German work, which was to render him so popular, viz. his
translation of the Bible, was commenced in the Wartburg, where he
started with the translation of the New Testament from the Greek. We
shall speak elsewhere of the merits and defects of this translation.
The general excellence of its style and language cannot hide the
theological bias which frequently guides the writer’s pen, nor can its
value as a popular work allow us to overlook the fact that he was often
carried away by the precipitation incidental to his temperament.[215]

Another work which he finished within those quiet walls treated of the
Sacrifice of the Mass. His thoughts early turned with aversion from
this centre of Catholic worship; indeed, he seemed bent on robbing the
Church of the very pearl of her worship. He appears to have said Mass
for the last time on his way to Augsburg to meet Cardinal Cajetan. In
the Wartburg he refused to have anything to do with the “Mass priest”
living there. On August 1, 1521, he wrote to Melanchthon, that the
renewal of Christ’s institution of the celebration of the Supper,
proposed by his friends at Wittenberg, agreed entirely with the plans
he had in view when he should return, and that from that time forward
he would never again say a private Mass.[216]

The work just mentioned, which appeared in 1522, is entitled, “On the
Abuse of the Mass.” He dedicated it in the Preface “to the Augustinians
of Wittenberg,” his dear brethren, because he had heard in his
solitude, so he says, “that they had been the first to commence setting
aside the abuse of Masses in their assembly [congregation].”[217] He is
desirous of fortifying their “consciences” against the Mass, because
he is anxious lest “all should not have the same constancy, and good
conscience, in the undertaking of so great and notable a work.” In the
same way as he in his struggle had attained to assurance of conscience,
so they, too, must act “with a like conscience, faith and trust, and
look on the opinion of the whole world as nothing but chaff and straw,
knowing that we are sent to a death-struggle against the devil and all
his might, yea, against the judgment of God, and, like Jacob (Gen.
xxxii. 28), can only overcome by our strength of faith.”

To despise the protests of the world was not so difficult, but to pay
“no heed to the devil and the solemn judgment of God” was a harder task.

It would seem that some of the Augustinians were not capable of this,
and had become uneasy concerning the innovations. He is thereupon at
pains to assure them that he is an expert in the matter; he declares
that he has learnt from experience how “our conscience makes us out
to be sinners in God’s sight and deserving of eternal reprobation,
unless it is well preserved and protected at every point by the holy,
strong and veracious Word of God.”[218] This “stronghold” he would fain
open to them by demonstrating from the Word of God the horrors of the
Sacrifice of the Mass.

 Hence he begins by overthrowing, with incredible determination,
 everything that might be advanced against him and in favour of the
 Mass in general by the “doctrine and discipline of the Church, the
 teaching of the Fathers, immemorial custom and usage,” commandments
 of men and theological faculties, Saints, Fathers, or, in fine, the
 “Pope and his Gomorrhas.” The utter unrestraint of his language
 here and there is only matched by the extravagance of his ideas and
 interpretation of the Bible.

 All men are priests, he declares; as to Mass priests there should
 be none. “I defy the idols and pomps of this world, the Pope and
 his parsons. You fine priestlings, can you point out to us in all
 the gospels and epistles a single bit of proof that you are or were
 intended to act as priests for other Christians?”[219] Whoever dares
 to adduce the well-known passages in the Bible to the contrary he
 looks on as a “rude, unlettered donkey.” Why? Because he would not
 otherwise defend the “smeared and shorn priesthood.” “O worthy
 patron of the shaven, oily little gods,” he says to him with mocking
 commiseration.[220] We are the persecuted party, we, who, whilst
 acknowledging Christ’s presence in the Sacrament, will have nothing
 to do with the sacrificial character of the Supper. For whoever
 holds fast simply to Christ’s institution is scolded as a heretic by
 the Pope. “There they sit, the unlettered, godless hippopotami, on
 costly, royal thrones, Pope, Cardinal, bishop, monk and parson with
 their schools of Paris and Louvain, and their dear sisters Sodom and
 Gomorrah.” As soon as they see the poor, small, despised crew [the
 opponents of the Mass] they wax wroth, “frown, turn up their noses,
 hold up their hands in horror, and cry: ‘The heretics do not observe
 the usage and form of the Roman Church’”; but they themselves are
 “unlearned dunces and donkeys.”[221]

 The author, whose very pen seems steeped in ire, goes off at a tangent
 to speak of the Pope and of celibacy.

 He is never tired of explaining “that the abominable and horrid
 priesthood of the Papists came into the world from the devil”; “the
 Pope is a true apostle of his master the hellish fiend, according to
 whose will he lives and reigns”; he has dropped into the holy kingdom
 of the priesthood common to all like the “devil’s hog he is, and with
 his snout” has befouled, yea, destroyed it; with his celibacy he has
 raised up a priesthood which is “a brew of all abominations.”[222] The
 devil himself does not suffice to make Luther’s language strong enough
 for his liking, and he is driven to his imagination for other ugly

 “I believe, that, even had the Pope made fornication obligatory, he
 would not have given rise to and furthered such great unchastity [as
 by celibacy].” “Who can sufficiently deplore the fury of the devil
 with his godless, cursed law?” The “Roman knave” wishes to rule
 everywhere, and the “universities, those shameless brothels, sit still
 and say nothing.... They, like obedient children of the Church, carry
 out the commands of the whoremaster. Every Christian ought to resist
 him at the risk of his life, even though he had a thousand heads,
 because we see how the poor, simple, common folk who stand in terror
 of his childish, shameful Bulls, do, and submit to, whatever the
 damned Roman rogue invents with the help of the devil.”[223]

 Many of his contemporaries may well be excused for having felt that
 such language was the result of the Pope’s Bull; the curse of the
 Church had overtaken Luther, in the solitude of the Wartburg it had
 done its work, and now the spirit of evil and darkness had gained
 complete mastery.[224]

 “So great,” he cries, “is God’s anger over this vale of Tafet and
 Hinnan that those who are most learned, and live most chastely, do
 more harm than those who learn nothing and live in fornication.” “O
 unhappy wretches that we are, who live in these latter days among
 so many Baalites, Bethelites and Molochites, who all appear so
 spiritual and Christian, and yet have swallowed up the whole world and
 themselves desire to be the only Church; they live and laugh in their
 security and freedom, instead of weeping tears of blood over the cruel
 murder of the children of our people.”[225]

 In conclusion, he gives his open approval to the Wittenbergers, that
 “Mass is no longer said, that there is no more organ-playing,” and
 that “bleating and bellowing” has ceased in the Church, so that the
 Papists say: “They are all heretics and have gone crazy.”[226] It
 seems to him that Saxony is the happiest of lands, “because there the
 living truth of the Gospel has arisen”; surely the Elector Frederick
 must be the Prince, foretold by prophecy, who was to deliver the Holy
 Sepulchre; himself he compares to the “Angel at the Sepulchre,” or to
 Magdalene who announced the Resurrection.[227]

His self-confidence and arrogance had not been shaken by the many weary
hours of lonely introspection in the Wartburg, but, on the contrary,
had been nourished and inflamed. That was the period of his “spiritual
baptism”; he felt volcanic forces surging up within him. He believed
that a power from above had commanded him to teach as he was doing.
Hence he called the Wartburg his Patmos; as the Apostle John had
received his revelation on Patmos, so, as he thought, he also had been
favoured in his seclusion with mysterious communications from above.

The idea of a divine commission now began to penetrate all his being
with overwhelming force.

When the ecclesiastical troubles at Wittenberg necessitated his
permanent return thither, he declared to the Elector, who had hitherto
never heard such language from his lips, “Your Electoral Grace is
already aware, or, if unaware, is hereby apprised of the fact, that I
have not received the Gospel from man, but from heaven only, through
Our Lord Jesus Christ, so that I might already have accounted myself
and signed myself a servant and evangelist, and for the future shall
do so.”[228] We must also refer to the days of his Saxon Patmos--which
exercised so deep an influence on his interior life--the remarkable
mystical utterance to which his pupils afterwards declared he had given
vent at a later date, viz. that he had been “commanded,” nay, “enjoined
under pain of eternal reprobation (‘_interminaretur_’) not to doubt in
any way of these things [of the doctrines he was to teach].”[229]

Every road that led back to his duty to the Church and his Order
was barred by the gloomy enthusiasm Luther kindled within himself,
subsequently to his spiritual baptism in the Wartburg.

The time spent in the Wartburg brought him his final conviction in
his calling as a prophet and his divine commission, but if we are to
understand Luther aright we must not forget that this conviction was a
matter of gradual growth (cp. vol. iii., xvi. 1).

We cannot doubt that even in the first years of his public career,
certainly in 1519 and 1520, the belief in his own divine mission had
begun to take firm root in his mind.

In order to explain the rise of this idea we must turn first of all to
his confidential letters dating from this period; his public writings
in this respect are of less importance. With their help it is possible
to recognise to some extent the course of this remarkable psychological
development. So soon as he had perceived that his discovery, of the
worthlessness of good works, and of justification by faith alone, was
in permanent contradiction to the teaching of the Roman Church, the
presentiment necessarily began to awaken within him, that the whole
body of the faithful had been led by Rome into the greatest darkness.
He fancied himself fortified in this idea by the sight of the real
abuses which had overspread the whole life of the Church in his time.
He thought he descried a universal corruption which had penetrated down
to the very root of ecclesiasticism, and he did not scruple to say so
in his earliest sermons and lectures. He felt it his duty to bewail the
falling away. In the hours in which he gave free play to his fancy, it
even seemed to him that Christ and the Gospel had almost disappeared.

The applause which greeted the appearance of his first writings, and
which he eagerly accepted, confirmed him in his belief that he had made
a most far-reaching discovery. He lacked the sense and discrimination
which might have enabled him to see the too great importance he was
ascribing to his invention. He says in May, 1518, to an elderly
friend who opposed his views: My followers, prelates of the Church
and scholarly men of the world, all rightly admit, that “formerly
they had heard nothing of Christ and the Gospel.” “To put it briefly,
I am convinced that no reform of the Church is possible unless the
ecclesiastical dogmas, the decisions of the Popes, the theology of the
schools, philosophy and logic as they exist at present are completely
altered.... I fear no man’s contradiction when defending such a
thesis.”[230] In the same year, in March, he wrote to a friendly
ecclesiastic, that the theologians who had hitherto occupied the
professorial chairs, viz. the schoolmen, did not understand the Gospel
and the Bible one bit. “To quibble about the meaning of words is not to
interpret the Gospel. All the Professors, Universities and Doctors are
nothing but shadows whom you have no cause to be afraid of.”[231]

If he wished to proceed further--and we know how he allowed himself to
be carried away--he could not do otherwise than assume to himself the
dignity of a divinely appointed teacher. No one save a prophet could
dare condemn the whole of the past in the way he was doing.

During the excitement incidental to periods of transition such as
Luther’s, belief in a supernatural calling was no rare thing. Those who
felt within themselves unusual powers and wished to assume the command
of the movements of the day not unfrequently laid claim to a divine
mission. Not only fanatics from the ranks of the Anabaptists, but
worldly minded men, such as Hutten and Sickingen, dreamt, in Luther’s
day, of great enterprises for which they had been chosen. In short,
there were only two courses open to Luther, either to draw back when
it was seen that the Church remained resolutely opposed to him, or to
vindicate his assaults by representing himself as a messenger sent by
God. Luther was not slow to adopt the latter course. The idea to him
was no mere passing fancy, but took firm root in his mind. He assured
his friends that he was daily receiving new light from God in this
matter through the study of the Scripture.

It was under the influence of this persuasion that, in January, 1518,
he wrote the following remarkable words to Spalatin: “To those who are
desirous of working for the glory of God, an insight into the written
Word of God is given from above, in answer to their prayers; this I
have experienced” (“_experto crede ista_”); he says that the action
of the Holy Ghost may be relied on, and urges others to do as he has
done.[232] It would also appear, that, believing firmly that he was
under the “influence of the Holy Ghost,” he, for a while, cherished the
illusion that the Church would gradually come over to his teaching.
When at length he was forced to recognise that the ecclesiastical
authorities were, on the contrary, determined to check him, he decided
to throw overboard all the preceding ages and the whole authority of
the Church. As a natural consequence he then proceeded to reform the
old and true idea of the Church. The preserving and proclaiming of
the faith is committed to no external teaching office instituted by
Christ, such was his teaching, but simply to the illumination of the
Spirit; each one is led by this interior guide; it is the Spirit who is
directing me in the struggle just commenced and who, through me, will
bring back to the world the Gospel which has so long lain hidden under

5. Wartburg Legends

Luther’s adversaries have frequently taken the statements contained
in the letters of the lonely inmate of the castle[233] concerning
his carnal temptations, and his indulgence in eating and drinking
(“_crapula_”), rather too unfavourably, as though he had been
referring to real, wilful sin rather than to mere temptation, and as
though Luther was not exaggerating in his usual vein when he speaks
of his attention to the pleasures of the table. At least no proof is
forthcoming in favour of this hostile interpretation.

On the other hand, the attempts constantly made by Luther’s supporters
to explain away the sensual lusts from which he tells us he suffered
there, and likewise the enticements (“_titillationes_”) which he
had admitted even previously to Staupitz his Superior, as nothing
more than worldliness, inordinate love of what is transitory, and
temptations to self-seeking, are certainly somewhat strange. Why, we
may ask, make such futile efforts?[234] Is it in order to counteract
the exaggerations of Luther’s opponents, who, in popular works, have
recently gone so far as, in all good faith, to declare the “trouble”
(“_molestiæ_”) of which Luther complained in his correspondence at that
time, was the result of disease arising from the sins of his youth,
though, from the context, it is clear that the “trouble” in question
was simply a prosaic attack of constipation.[235]

Luther related later, according to the “Table-Talk,”[236] how the wife
of “Hans von Berlips [Berlepsch, the warden of the Wartburg] coming to
Eisenach,” and “scenting” that he (Luther) was in the Castle, would
have liked to see him; but as this was not permitted he had been taken
to another room, while she was lodged in his. Luther mentions this when
alluding to the annoyance from which he complains he suffered owing to
the noisy ghosts of the Wartburg, whom he took for devils. Two pages,
who brought him food and drink twice a day, were the only human beings
allowed to visit him. He relates that during the night she spent in his
room this woman was likewise disturbed by ghosts: “All that night there
was such a to-do in the room that she thought a thousand devils were in
it.” The fact is that Berlepsch, the Warden of the Castle, was not then
married, wedding Beata von Ebeleben only in 1523.[237] Hence we have
here either an anachronism when the visitor to the Wartburg is spoken
of as being already his wife, or a case of mistaken identity. Luther
speaks of the visit quite simply. The woman’s object in calling at the
Castle may very well have been to gratify her feminine curiosity by a
sight of Luther, and to pay a visit to the Warden. The supposition that
the slightest misconduct took place between Luther and the visitor can
only be classed in the category of the fictitious.

The mention of the diabolical spectres infesting the Wartburg calls to
mind the famous ink-stain on one of the walls of the Castle.

The tradition is that it was caused by Luther hurling his inkpot at the
devil, who was disputing with him. The tradition is, however, a legend
which probably had its origin in a murky splash on the wall. In Köstlin
and Kawerau’s new biography of Luther this has already been pointed
out, and the fact recalled that in 1712 Peter the Great was shown a
similar stain in Luther’s room at Wittenberg, not in the Wartburg,
and that Johann Salomo Semler, a well-known Protestant writer, in his
Autobiography published in 1781, mentions a like stain in the fortress
of Coburg where Luther had tarried.[238]



1. Against the Fanatics. Congregational Churches?

Luther quitted the Wartburg March 1, 1522, after having previously paid
a secret visit to Wittenberg between December 3 and 11. He now made his
appearance at the birthplace of the Evangel in order to recommence his
vigorous and incisive sermons, which had become imperatively necessary
for his cause.

The action of Carlstadt, even more than that of the “Prophets of
the Kingdom of God,” who had come over from Zwickau, called for his
presence in order that he might resist their attacks. In his absence
the Mass had already been forcibly abolished, sermons had been preached
against confession and infant baptism, and the destruction of the
images had commenced. Like Luther himself, those who incited the people
to these proceedings, appealed on the one hand to the plain testimony
of Holy Scripture as the source of their inspiration, and on the other
to direct illumination from above.

Infant baptism, argued the Zwickauers, was not taught in Holy
Scripture, but was opposed to the actual words of the Saviour: “He that
believes and is baptised.” The “prophets” met, however, with little
encouragement. Carlstadt had not yet taken their side either in this
matter or in their pseudo-mysticism.

Against the Elector, Carlstadt, however, appealed expressly, as Luther
had done, to his duty of proclaiming the understanding of the Bible
which he had been granted.

“Woe to me,” he cried with the Apostle St. Paul, “if I do not preach”
(1 Cor. ix. 16). He declared that the diversions arose merely from the
fact that all did not follow Holy Scripture; but he, at least, obeyed
it and death itself would not shift him from this firm foundation; he
would remain “firmly grounded on the Word of God.” In demanding the
removal of the images he cried: “God’s voice says briefly and clearly
in Scripture: ‘Thou shalt not adore them nor serve them’; and hence it
is useless to argue: ‘I do not worship the images, I do not honour them
for their own sake, but on account of the Saints whom they represent.’”

Carlstadt, it is true, also suggested that it was for “the supreme
secular power to decree and effect the removal of the abuse.”[239] When
occasion arose he also advised “proceeding without causing a tumult and
without giving the foes cause for calumny.” That was his advice,[240]
but most of those who thought as he did were little disposed to wait
until the authorities, or the “priests of Baal themselves, removed
their vessels and idols.”

The first step towards liturgical change in Wittenberg was, however,
taken by Melanchthon when, September 29, 1521, he and his pupils
received the Sacrament in the Parish Church, the words of institution
being spoken aloud and the cup being passed to the laity, because
Christ had so ordained it. A few days later the Augustinians,
particularly Gabriel Zwilling, commenced active steps against the
Mass as a sacrifice, ceasing to say it any longer. Melanchthon and
the Augustinians knew that in this they had Luther’s sympathy. As
those who agreed with Luther followed Melanchthon’s example concerning
the Mass and the Supper, and ceased to take any part in the Catholic
Mass, introducing preachers of their own instead, a new order of
Divine worship was soon the result. “Alongside of the congregation
with the old Popish rites rose the new evangelical community.”[241]
But here Carlstadt stepped forward and gave a new turn to events;
he was determined not to see the followers of the Gospel left in a
corner, and without delay he set about altering the principal service
at Wittenberg, which was still celebrated in accordance with Catholic
usage, so as to bring it into agreement with the “institution of
Christ.” This new service was first celebrated at Christmas, 1521.
Those portions which express the sacrificial character of the Mass were
omitted, and a new Communion service introduced instead, the laity
partaking of the chalice and the words of institution being spoken
aloud. Confession was not required of the communicants. The novelty and
the ease of receiving communion attracted crowds to the new ritual,
which was first held in All Saints’ Church, then in the parish church,
and was subsequently introduced by his followers, such as Zwilling, for
instance, in the neighbouring parishes.

Great disorders occurred at the very first service of this sort.

Many communicated after eating and drinking freely. In January, 1522,
a noisy rabble forced its way into the church at Wittenberg, destroyed
all altars, and the statues of the saints, and cast them, together with
the clergy, into the street.

The Elector and his Councillors, for instance Hieronymus Schurf, were
very angry with the business and with the “pseudo-prophets,” i.e.
Carlstadt and his followers; the Zwickauers, who, as a matter of
fact constituted an even greater source of danger, held back on this

Melanchthon, then at Wittenberg, inclined to the belief that the
Zwickauers were possessed by a higher spirit, but it was, he thought,
for Luther to determine the nature of this spirit. The prophets, on the
other hand, argued that Luther was certainly right in most he said and
did, though not always, and that another, having a higher spirit, would
take his place.

The purer and more profound view of the Evangel upon which they
secretly prided themselves was a consequence of their eminently
reasonable opposition to Luther’s altogether outward doctrine of
justification and the state of grace. To them the idea of a purely
mechanical covering over of our sinfulness by the imputation of
Christ’s merits, seemed totally inadequate. They wanted to be in a
more living communion with Christ, and having once seceded from the
Church, they arrived by the path of pseudo-mysticism at the delusion
of a direct intercourse with the other world; thereby, however, they
brought a danger on the field, viz. religious radicalism and political
revolution. “It seems to me a very suspicious circumstance,” so Luther
writes of the Zwickau prophets, “that they should boast of speaking
face to face with the Divine Majesty.”[242]

Luther, after his period of study at the Wartburg, had at once to
define and prove his position, particularly as he disapproved of much
of the doctrines of Carlstadt’s party, as well as of his over-hasty
action. Without delay, he mounted the pulpit at Wittenberg and staked
all the powers of his personality and eloquence against the movement;
he was unwilling that the whole work of the Evangel which had begun
should end in chaos. In a course of eight sermons he traced back the
disorders to “a misapprehension of Christian freedom.” It grieved him
deeply, he declared, that, without his order, so much was being altered
instead of proceeding cautiously and allowing the faith to mature
first. “Follow me,” he cried, “I have never yet failed; I was the first
whom God set to work on this plan; I cannot escape from God, but must
remain so long as it pleases my Lord God; I was also the first to whom
God gave the revelation to preach and proclaim this His Word to you. I
am also well assured that you have the pure Word of God.”[243]

What he says is, however, rather spoilt by a dangerous admission.
“Should there be anyone who has something better to offer and to whom
more has been revealed than to me, I am ready to submit to him my sense
and reason and not to force my opinion upon him, but to obey him.”[244]
He, of course, felt that he could convict the so-called “fanatics” of
error, and was sure beforehand that his professed readiness to submit
to others would not endanger his position. His whole cause depended on
the maintenance of outward order and his own authority at Wittenberg;
he knew, moreover, that he was backed by the Elector.

His success against his adversaries, who, to tell the truth, were no
match for him, was complete. Wittenberg was saved from the danger of
open adherence to “fanaticism,” though the movement was still to give
Luther much trouble secretly at Wittenberg and more openly elsewhere,
particularly as Carlstadt, in his disappointment, came more and more
after 1522 to make common cause with the Zwickauers.[245]

       *       *       *       *       *

The success of his efforts against the fanatics secured for Luther the
favour of his Ruler and his protection against the consequences of his
outlawry by the Empire. Luther was thus enabled to carry on his work
as professor and preacher at Wittenberg in defiance of the Emperor and
the Empire; from thence, till the very end of his life, he was able,
unmolested, to spread abroad, with the help of the Press, his ideas of
ecclesiastical revolution.

In view of the movement just described, and of others of a like nature,
he published towards the close of his Patmos sojourn the work entitled
“A True Admonition to all Spirits to Avoid Riot and Revolt.”[246] This,
however, did not prevent him shortly after from furthering the idea
of the use of force with all his habitual incautious violence in the
tract “Against the Falsely-called Spiritual Estate of the Pope and
the Bishops” (1522),[247] in which, in language the effect of which
upon the masses it was impossible to gauge, he incites the people to
overthrow the existing Church government.

 “Better were it,” he cries in the latter work, “that all bishops
 were put to death, and all foundations and convents rooted out, than
 that one soul should suffer. What then must we say when all souls
 are lost for the sake of vain mummery and idols? Of what use are
 they but to live in pleasure on the sweat and toil of others and to
 hinder the Word of God?” A revolt against such tyrants could not, he
 says, be wicked; its cause would not be the Word of God, but their
 own obstinate disobedience and rebellion against God. “What better
 do they deserve than to be stamped out by a great revolt? Such a
 thing, should it occur, would only give cause for laughter, as the
 Divine Wisdom says, Proverbs i. 25-26: ‘You have despised all my
 counsel and have neglected my reprehensions. I also will laugh in your

 Expressing similar sentiments, the so-called “Bull of Reformation,”
 comprised in the last-mentioned tract, has it that “all who assist in
 any way, or venture life or limb, goods or honour in the enterprise
 of destroying bishoprics and exterminating episcopal rule, are
 dear children of God and true Christians.... On the other hand
 all who hold with the rule of the bishops ... are the devil’s own
 servants.”[249] Such is the teaching of “Ecclesiastes, by the Grace
 of God,” as Luther calls himself here and frequently elsewhere. They
 must listen to him; the bishops, for the sake of their idol the Pope,
 abused, condemned and consigned to the flames him and his noble cause,
 refusing either to listen to or to answer him, but now he will, so he
 says, “put on his horns and risk his head for his master,” in defiance
 of the “idolatrous, licentious, shameless, accursed seducers and

As a demolisher Luther proved himself great and strong. Was he an
equally good builder?

       *       *       *       *       *

The decisive question of how to proceed to the construction of a new
ecclesiastical system seems to have been scarcely considered at all by
Luther, either at the Wartburg, or even for some time after his return.
His mind was full of one idea, viz. how best to fight the Church of
Antichrist. He had no real conception of the Church which might have
assisted him in an attempt to plan out a new system; his notion of the
Church was altogether too dim and indefinite to serve as the basis of
a new organisation. Even to-day Protestant theologians and historians
are unable to tell us with any sort of unanimity how his ideas of the
Church are to be understood; this holds good of him throughout life,
but most of all during the earliest days of Protestantism, when the
first attempts were made to consolidate it.

 One of the most recent explorers in the field of the history of
 theology in those years, H. Hermelink, concludes a paper on the
 subject with the words: “Let us hope that we Protestant theologians
 may gradually reach some agreement concerning Luther’s idea of the
 Church and concerning the Reformer’s plans for the reorganisation of
 the Church.”[250]

 K. Rieker, K. Sohm, W. Köhler, Karl Müller, P. Drews, Fr. Loofs and
 many others who have recently devoted themselves to these studies
 which have aroused so much interest in our day, all differ more or
 less from each other in their views on the subject.

 The fact must not be forgotten that the Apocalyptic tendency of
 Luther’s mind at that time prevented his dwelling on matters of
 practical organisation. The reign of Antichrist at Rome seemed to him
 to portend the end of the world. Apocalyptic influences oppressed him,
 particularly in the years 1522 and 1523, and we find their traces at
 intervals even afterwards, for instance, in the years following 1527
 and just before his death;[251] in each case they were due to outward
 and interior “trials.” In the first crisis, at the commencement of the
 third decade of the sixteenth century, his false eschatology, based
 on an erroneous understanding of the Bible, led him, for instance, to
 anticipate the coming of the Last Day in 1524, in consequence of a
 remarkable conjunction of the planets which was confidently expected
 to bring about a deluge. His sermon on the 2nd Sunday in Advent fixes
 the year 1524 as the latest on which this event could occur.[252]

 In his work “To the Nobility on the Improving of the Christian State,”
 Luther still took it for granted that the Emperor, Princes and
 influential laity would forcibly rescue Christendom from the state
 of corruption in which it was sunk, and that after Christendom had
 accepted the evangel, the pre-existing order of things would continue
 very much as before under a reformed episcopate; should the bishops
 refuse to come over to the Gospel, plenty “idle parsons” would be
 found to take their place. As a matter of fact, he had no clear idea
 in his mind regarding the future shaping of affairs.

 At the Diet of Worms it became evident that his fantastic dreams
 were not to be realised, for the Empire, instead of welcoming
 him, proclaimed him an outlaw. Luther, accordingly, trusting to
 his mystical ideas, now persuaded himself that his cause and the
 reorganisation of Christendom would be undertaken by Christ alone.

In the Wartburg Luther received the fullest and most definite assurance
that the temporal powers who were opposed to him at Worms would submit
themselves in these latter days to the Word which he preached, and that
the weakening of the Church’s authority which had been begun had not
proceeded nearly far enough. It was revealed to him that his work was
yet at its beginning and that there yet remained to be established new
communities of Christians sharing his views. Hence we find him writing
to Frederick, his Elector, on March 7, 1522: “The spiritual tyranny
has been weakened, to do which has been the sole aim of my writings;
now I perceive that God wills to carry it still further as He did with
Jerusalem and its twofold government. I have recently learnt that not
only the spiritual but also the temporal power must give way to the
Evangel, willingly or unwillingly; this is plainly shown in all the
Bible narratives.”[253] With the Bible in his hand he seeks to prove,
from the passages relating to the end of the world, and the reign of
Antichrist, that, before the end of all, Christ will overthrow the
anti-Christian powers by the “breath of His mouth.”

“It is the mouth of Christ which must do this.” “Now may I and everyone
who speaks the word of Christ freely boast that his mouth is the mouth
of Christ.” “Another man, one whom the Papists cannot see, is driving
the wheel, and therefore they attribute it all to us, but they shall
yet be convinced of it.”[254]

Meanwhile some practical action was necessary, for, as yet, the
Evangelicals formed only small groups and unorganised congregations
which might at any time drift apart, whilst elsewhere they were
scattered among the masses, almost unnoticed and utterly powerless.
The mere attacking of Popery was not sufficient to consolidate
them. The “meetings” of those who had been touched by the “Word,”
Gospel-preaching and a new liturgy, did not suffice. The further growth
and permanent organisation of the congregations Luther hoped to see
effected by the help of the authorities, by the Town-councillors, who
were to play so great a part later, and, better still, by the Princes
whom he expected to win over to the new teaching as he had already done
in the case of Frederick, the Elector of Saxony. It is true he would
have preferred the setting up of churches to have been the work of the
newly converted Faithful, i.e. to have taken place from below upwards.
Those who had been converted by the Gospel, “the troubled consciences”
as he calls them, who were united in faith and charity, were ever to
form the nucleus around which he would fain have seen everywhere the
congregations growing, without the intervention of the worldly power.
The force of circumstances, however, even from the commencement,
compelled him to fall back on the authorities.

In short, the ideas he advanced concerning organisation were, not
only various, but frequently contradictory. His favourite idea, to
which we shall return later, of a community of perfect Christians was
utterly incapable of realisation. “To maintain within the Congregation
a more select company forming a corporation apart was hardly feasible
in the long run.”[255] At the back of his various plans was always
the persuasion that the power of the Gospel would in the end do
its own work and reveal the right way for the building up of a new
organisation, just as of its own power it had shattered the edifice of
Antichrist. Instead of searching for the link connecting his discordant
utterances, as Protestant[256] theologians have been at pains to do, it
will be more practical and more in accordance with history to present
them here in disconnected groups. For any lack of clearness which may
be the result Luther must be held responsible.

In one and the same work, shortly after his visit to Wittenberg from
the Wartburg, the destruction of the Papacy is depicted first as the
result of the action of the governments (who accordingly are bound
to provide a new, even if only temporary, organisation), then as
taking place through no human agency and without a single blow being
struck.[257] In writing thus, he was the plaything of those “states
of excitement” which constitute a marked feature of his “religious
psychology.”[258] Luther was then aware of the threatening movement at
Wittenberg and elsewhere, and attempted to stem it with the assurance
that the kingdom of Antichrist was already crumbling to pieces; he does
not, however, omit to point to the governments as the real agents of
which Christ was to make use to achieve the victory: “Hearken to the
government; so long as it does not interfere and give the command, keep
your hands, your mouth and your heart quiet and say and do nothing. But
if you are in a position to move the authorities to intervene and to
give the order, you may do so.”[259]

It would seem from all this as though he expected the help necessary
for the change of faith to come solely from those in authority, an
opinion which he had expressed in his pamphlet to the nobility, the
Princes and the gentry; the secular power after making its “submission”
to the Evangel was to do all that was required in the interests of the
Evangel; it was its duty to see that uniformity prevailed in the “true
worship” throughout its dominions, to watch over the public services
and exclude false worship. But whether the “Kingdom of God was to
be introduced by the Princes, or to rise up spontaneously from the
Christian Congregation, he does not clearly state.”[260] From 1522 to
1525 he frequently speaks as though it were to proceed solely from the
congregation, which by reason of the common priesthood of its members
was possessed of the necessary qualifications.

In any case, we may gather the following regarding Church organisation:
no outward government, no power or legislative authority exists in the
Church itself; on earth there is but one outward authority, viz. the
secular; the Church lives only by the Word of God and supports and
governs itself by this alone.

 If legislation and external authority were called for in the Church,
 then this would have to be borrowed from the State, or, as Rudolf
 Sohm expresses it: “If legislation and judicial authority were needed
 in the Church of Christ, then, according to Luther’s principles,
 the government of the Church would have to be set up by the ruler
 of the land.” For, according to Luther, the authority of the Church
 is intended merely to foster piety,[261] and a spiritual governing
 authority would result in compulsion and simply make people “impious.”
 “The ecclesiastical authority to rule of the parson, i.e. his teaching
 office, is not a legal power.” In his treatise on canon law, Sohm
 is one of the principal supporters of this principle.[262] To judge
 from the praise bestowed upon him by Hermelink, he had “penetrated
 deeply into Luther’s thought,” and “on the whole saw things in a right
 light,” although he was possibly too fond of simplifying them in the
 interests of a system.[263] It is perfectly true that in Sohm and
 other Protestant Canonists, the contradictions in Luther’s opinions
 are left in the background; Luther’s views of the formation of
 congregations having their own rights and their own authority, which
 appear side by side with his other schemes, receive, as a rule, little

 In any case, Luther at that time made use of “every artifice to prove
 that it was the right of each individual Christian to judge of the
 preaching of the Gospel and of the avoiding of false prophets.”[264]

 In those early days Luther was so full of the ideal of the
 congregation that, in order to support it, he even appeals to the
 natural law. In order to save souls every congregation, government or
 individual has by nature the right to make every effort to drive away
 the wolves, i.e. the clergy of Antichrist; no apathy can be permitted
 where it is a question of eternal salvation; the alleged rights and
 the handed-down possessions of the foes, on which they base their
 corruptive influence, must not be spared: “We must not fall upon
 and seize the temporal possessions of others, above all not of our
 superiors--except where it is a question of doctrine and the salvation
 of souls; but if the Gospel is not preached, the spiritual authorities
 have no right to the revenues.”[265] “According to Luther,” says
 Hermelink, “the authorities of Altenburg had a perfect right to drive
 away the Provost and his people from Altenburg as ravening wolves”;
 they were only to wait “a little” to see whether the monks would hold
 their tongues or perhaps even preach the pure Gospel. When thereupon
 Luther cries: “Their authority is at an end, abrogated by God Himself,
 if it be in conflict with the Gospel,”[266] Hermelink admits the
 presence of a certain “antagonism between the right of each individual
 Christian and the common law of society.”

Luther, however, generally prefers to give expression to other less
violent thoughts anent the building up of the congregations to be
formed from the Church of Antichrist.

The holy Brotherhood of the Spirit, he says in his idealistic way,
was to arise, knowing no constraint but only charity, and having a
ministry (“_ministerium_”), but no “power.”[267] “The freedom of the
Spirit which must reign, makes things which are merely corporal and
earthly, indifferent and not necessary.” “All things are indifferent
and free (‘_omnia sunt indifferentia et libera_’).” “Paul demands the
preservation of unity, but this is unity of the spirit, not of place,
of persons, of things or of bodies.”[268] We here again note the advent
of that mysticism which had formerly dragged him down to the depths
of a passive indifference. How these pseudo-mystical ideas were to
further the building up of the new ecclesiastical system it is hard to

The Brotherhood, however, is not intended to introduce an altogether
new ecclesiastical system. We are simply “Christians,” the true
Christians, members of the Churches which have always existed, but
purified from a thousand years of deformation. “To create sects is
stupid and useless”;[269] according to Luther, it is not even necessary
for the task of uniting under the Christian name, before the end of
the world, all the faithful and the pious consciences elected from the
Kingdom of Antichrist.

At that time he wished all his followers to be known simply as
“Christians”; and in the first days of the Protestant Churches he very
frequently makes use of this term.[270] Even at a later date he was
loath to hear them called after himself, in spite of his practical
action to the contrary, because they “share with the rest the common
teaching of Christ.”[271] The term “Evangelicals” does not appear
to have been much in use in Luther’s immediate surroundings.[272]
As “Christians” and “Evangelicals” they had not left the “Church,”
indeed, Luther always insists on the fact that it was they who really
constituted and represented the “Church.” According to the Augsburg
Confession in 1530 they belonged to the Catholic Church; they wished
to define their position rather as that of a party within the Church,
fighting for its existence, a party which accepted the Church’s
recognised articles of belief, sheltered itself under the testimony
of recognised Catholic authorities, and which had merely introduced
certain innovations for the removal of the abuses which had crept

Although, according to Luther, the inward organisation of the
Brotherhood referred to above was a matter of indifference, and the
approaching end of the world admonished him to suffer and wait to see
what Christ willed to do with it, yet we read in other passages of
his writings that it is necessary to work and to make great efforts
to provide every city with a bishop or elder to preach the Gospel;
“every Christian” is bound to help towards this end, both by personal
exertion and with his goods, and more particularly the secular power,
the authorities, whose duty it is to protect the pious. Those who are
now already parsons may, indeed must, at once “withdraw from their
obedience, seeing that they promised obedience to the devil and not to

This is certainly “something more than passive suffering and waiting
for the end.”[275]

The apostasy of the clergy, which had begun, made the question of
definite, external organisation a pressing one, for the new preachers
and the clergy who were coming over had, after all, to be responsible
to someone and had also to be maintained; it was also necessary that
they and their followers should receive external recognition for
their Churches and extricate themselves from the numerous ties which
united so closely the spiritual with the secular in Catholic life. The
appointment of pastors and the representation of the faithful by them
was one of the factors which called for further organisation of the
Churches: another factor, as we may notice in the case of Wittenberg,
was the manner of celebrating the Supper. It was, as a matter of fact,
the trouble at Wittenberg under Carlstadt which impelled Luther to
take into serious consideration the establishment of an independent
ecclesiastical organisation in that town, and which called for a
definite system of appointing the Lutheran pastors even elsewhere,
so as to prevent Carlstadt’s followers from getting the upper hand
throughout the country.

After Luther had set aside Carlstadt’s innovations at Wittenberg, with
the approval of the Elector who had forbidden them, he appointed the
celebration of the Supper for those of the new faith at Wittenberg on
the lines previously followed by Melanchthon; the communion became the
principal part of the ceremony, the offertory was omitted and the words
of consecration were spoken aloud either with or without certain of the
prayers of the Mass. Thus the abuses introduced by Carlstadt were, in
his opinion, removed, and the swarms of worldly minded and fanatical
nominal Christians, “Christian in name but almost heathen at heart,”
were no longer brought in contact with the true Evangelicals; the
employment of force towards those weak in the faith, whose convictions
Luther did not consider ripe for the purely congregational ritual of
Carlstadt, was also put an end to. All the external forms which had
been introduced, and to which, Luther feared, the people would have
clung in an unevangelical fashion as had formerly been the case in
Popery, were removed.

In order more particularly to avoid any compromising abuse of the
Sacrament of the Altar, Luther sought to establish a Christian
congregation in which confession should exist, though not as a
compulsory practice, and in which a certain supervision was exercised.

In order to proceed cautiously and in accordance with the Elector’s
ideas, he refrained from directing the bestowal of the chalice in the
order of Divine Service drawn up for the use of his followers; at
any rate, this was the case at Easter, 1522, though in the autumn of
that same year the chalice was again in general use.[276] In spite
of this, up to 1523, a special form of communion with the cup was in
use for true Evangelical believers, who were subject to a special
form of supervision. This arrangement agreed with Luther’s idea of an
“Assembly of true Christians,” on which he was to enlarge in 1523 in
his Maundy-Thursday sermon (see below). The special communion was, it
is true, speedily abandoned, but the idea of the select Assembly ever
remained dear to him.[277]

The other factor which called even more urgently for internal
organisation was the appointment of pastors.

The induction of new pastors could not well take place independently of
the authorities, indeed, it imperatively demanded their co-operation.
At Wittenberg the later alteration in the liturgy and the final
prohibition of the Mass, after it had been insisted on by Luther,
was carried out by a threatening mob with the connivance of the
Government.[278] Yet, in spite of the impossibility of dispensing
with the secular power, until 1525, Luther was for various reasons
more inclined to the Congregational ideal, which was less subject to
Government interference.

This congregational ideal tended to promote his plan of an “Assembly of
true Christians.”

In the newly erected congregations the “true believers,” according
to what Luther repeatedly says, formed the nucleus. It is to these
that he appeals in his instructions in 1523 (“_iis qui credunt,
hæc scribimus_”); “those whose hearts God has touched are to meet
together,” so he says, in order to choose a “bishop,” i.e. “a minister
or pastor.” Even though the congregation numbers only half a dozen, yet
they will draw after them others “who have not yet received the Word”;
the half a dozen, though but a handful and perhaps not distinguished
by piety, so long as they do not live as obstinate and open sinners,
are the real representatives of the true Church at their home. They
must also rest assured, that if in their choice they have prayed to
God for enlightenment, they “will be moved, and not act of themselves
(‘_vos agi in hac causa, non agere_’).” “That Christ acts through
them is quite certain (‘_plane certum_’).”[279] “Hence even a small
minority of the truly pious among the congregation possess not only the
right but also the duty to act; for to stand by and let things take
their course is contrary to the faith.”[280] The election derives
its “true validity solely from the half-dozen.”[281] Of any election
by the remaining members of the congregation or of any action of the
magistracy Luther says nothing whatever; he is speaking only to those
within the body of the congregation whose hearts God has touched.

 The above thoughts find their first expression in the writing “_De
 instituendis ministris ecclesiæ_,” which Luther sent to the Utraquists
 or Calixtines of Prague.[282]

 The Utraquists of Bohemia acknowledged the Primacy of the Holy See
 and obeyed the Catholic Hierarchy, though certain Lutheran tendencies
 prevailed amongst them, which, however, had been grossly exaggerated
 by Cahera, who informed Luther of the fact; Cahera even represented
 the greater part of the Council of Prague as predisposed in Luther’s
 favour, which was certainly not true. In instructing the burghers, and
 more particularly the Council of Prague, how to proceed in founding
 congregations of their own by means of elections, Luther was also
 thinking of Germany, and above all of Saxony. This explains why,
 without delay, he had the Latin writing published also in German.

 To the people of Prague he wrote that those whose hearts God had
 touched were to assemble in the city for the election. They were first
 to remind themselves in prayer that the Lord had promised that where
 two or three were gathered together in His name, there He would be
 in the midst of them; then they were to select capable persons for
 the clerical state and the ministry of the Word, who were then to
 officiate in the name of all; these were then to lay their hands on
 the best amongst them (“_potiores inter vos_”), thus confirming them,
 after which they might be presented to “the people and the Church or
 congregation as bishops, servants or pastors, Amen.” “It all depends
 on your making the venture in the Lord, then the Lord will be with
 you.” In the congregations scattered throughout the land the faithful
 were to proceed in like manner, firing others by their example; if
 they were few in number, there was all the more reason why they should
 make the venture. But as all was to be done spontaneously and under
 the influence of the Spirit of God, such Councils as were favourably
 disposed were not to exercise any constraint. He, too, for his own
 part, merely gave “advice and exhortation.”[283] Where a large number
 of congregations had appointed their “ministers” in this way, then
 these latter might, if they so desired, meet to elect Superintendents
 who would make the visitation of their Churches, “until Bohemia
 finally returns to the legitimate and evangelical Archiepiscopate.”

 At about that same time, in a writing intended for the congregation
 at Leisnig, Luther expressed his views on the congregational Churches
 to be established by the people. The confusion of his mind is no less
 apparent in this work; under the influence of his idealism he fails to
 perceive the endless practical difficulties inherent in his scheme,
 and above all the impossibility of establishing any real congregation
 when every member had a right to criticise the preacher and to
 interpret Scripture according to his own mind.[284]

 He here assumes that the liberty to preach the Word, and likewise
 the right of judging doctrines, is part of the common priesthood
 of Christians. Whoever preaches publicly can only do this “as the
 deputy and minister of the others,” i.e. of the whole body.[285] The
 congregation must see that no one seduces them with the doctrines of
 men, and therefore no one may be a preacher except by their choice.
 Where there is no bishop to provide for them, who holds Christian and
 evangelical views, they are themselves to give the call to the right
 preacher; but if they catch him erring in his doctrine, then anyone
 may get up and correct him, so long as “all done is done decently and
 in order.”[286] For St. Paul says concerning those who speak during
 Divine Worship [St. Paul is really alluding to the charismata of the
 early Christians], “If anything be revealed to another sitting, let
 the first hold his peace” (1 Cor. xiv. 30). “Indeed, a Christian has
 such authority that he might well rise up and teach uncalled even in
 the midst of the Christians.... For this reason, that necessity knows
 no law.” Therefore to preserve the purity of the evangelical teaching,
 “every man may come forward, stand up and teach, to the best of his

 The experience with the fanatics which speedily followed was
 calculated to dispel such platonic ideas. Luther does not appear to
 have asked himself on which side the “Christian congregation” and the
 Church was to be sought when dissensions, doctrinal or other, at that
 period inevitable, should have riven the fold in twain. The “Christian
 congregation” he teaches--merely restating the difficulty--“is most
 surely to be recognised where the pure Gospel is preached.... From the
 Gospel we may tell where Christ stands with His army.”[288]

 How bold the edifice was which he had planned in the evangelical
 Churches is plain from other statements contained in the writing
 addressed to the Leisnig Assembly.

 The president was indeed to preside, but all the members were to rule.
 “Whoever is chosen for the office of preacher is thereby raised to the
 most exalted office in Christendom; he is then authorised to baptise,
 to say Mass and to hold the cure of souls.”[289] Yet he is subject
 both to the community and to every member of it. “In the world the
 masters command what they please and their servants obey. But amongst
 you, Christ says, it shall not be so; amongst Christians each one is
 judge of the other, and in his turn subject to the rest.”[290]

He might say what he pleased against the abuses of the old Church,
such systematic disorder never prevailed within her as that each one
should teach as he pleased and even correct the preacher publicly, or
that the Demos should be acknowledged as supreme. It is in vain that,
in the writing above referred to, he mocks at this city set on a hill,
with her firmly established hierarchy, saying: “Bishops and Councils
determine and settle what they please, but where we have God’s Word
on our side it is for us to decide what is right or wrong and not
for them, and they shall yield to us and obey our word.”[291] We may
well explain the saying “to obey our word” by Luther’s own eloquent
paraphrase: “Pay no heed to the commandments of men, law, tradition,
custom, usage and so forth, whether established by Pope or Emperor,
Prince or Bishop, whether observed by half the world or by the whole,
whether in force for one year or for a thousand!” “Obey our word!” For
we declare that we have the “Word of God on our side.”[292]

The new congregations will, in spite of their own and every member’s
freedom to teach, agree with Luther, so he assures them with the most
astounding confidence, because “his mouth is the mouth of Christ,”
and because he knows that his word is not his, but Christ’s. We must
emphasise the fact, that here we have the key to many of the strange
trains of thought already met with in Luther, and also a proof of the
endurance of his unpractical ultra-spiritualism.

Luther, in fact, declares that he had “not merely received his teaching
from heaven, but on behalf of one who had more power in his little
finger than a thousand popes, kings, princes and doctors.”[293] Before
receiving his enlightenment he had had to learn what was meant by
being “born of God, dying often and surviving the pains of hell.”[294]
Whoever differed from him, as the fanatics did, had not been through
such an experience. “Wouldst thou know where, when and how we are
vouchsafed the divine communications? When that which is written takes
place: ‘As a lion, so hath He broken all my bones’ (Isa. xxxviii.
13).... God’s Majesty cannot speak in confidence with the old man
without previously slaying.... The dreams and visions of the saints are
dreadful.”[295] Such was the mysticism of the Wartburg.

2. Against Celibacy. Doubtful Auxiliaries from the Clergy and the

In establishing his new ecclesiastical organisation Luther thought it
his duty to wage war relentlessly on the celibacy of the clergy and on
monastic vows in general. Was he more successful herein than in his
project of reforming the articles of faith and the structure of the

According to Catholic ideas his war against vows and sacerdotal
celibacy constituted an unwarrantable and sacrilegious interference
with the most sacred promises by which a man can bind himself to the
Almighty, for it is in this light that a Catholic considers vows
or the voluntary acceptance of celibacy upon receipt of the major
orders. Luther was, moreover, tampering with institutions which are
most closely bound up with the life of the Church and which alone
render possible the observance of that high standard of life and that
independence which should distinguish the clergy. Yet his mistaken
principles served to attract to his camp all the frivolous elements
among the clergy and religious, i.e. all those who were dissatisfied
with their state and longed for a life of freedom. As a matter of fact,
experience speedily showed that nothing was more calculated to bring
the Reformation into disrepute. Lutheranism threw open the doors of the
convents, burst the bonds imposed by vows, and reduced hundreds of the
clergy to a moral debasement against which their own conscience raised
a protest. In outward appearance it was thereby the gainer, for by this
means it secured new adherents in the shape of preachers to spread the
cause, but in reality the positive gain was _nil_; in fact, the most
vital interests of the new work were endangered owing to the low moral
standard of so many of its advocates. Apart from the preachers, many
followers of the new Evangelical teaching, fugitive religious and more
especially escaped nuns, played a very lamentable part.

In various writings and letters Luther sought to familiarise the clergy
and monks with the seductive principles contained in his books “On
the Clerical State” and “On Monastic Vows.” His assurances all went
to prove that the observance of priestly celibacy and the monastic
state was impossible. He forgot what he had once learnt and cheerfully
practised, viz. that the sexual renunciation demanded in both
professions was not merely possible, but a sacrifice willingly offered
to God by all who are diligent in prayer and make use of the means
necessary for preserving their virtue, and the numerous spiritual helps
afforded by their state.

The powerful and seductive language he knows how to employ appears,
for instance, in his letter to Wolfgang Reissenbusch, an Antonine
monk,[296] who was already wavering, and in whose case Luther’s
strenuous efforts were crowned with success. The letter, which is
dated March 27, 1525, was written shortly before Luther’s union with
Catharine von Bora.

 The writer in the very first lines takes pains to convince this
 religious, that “he had been created by God for the married state
 and was forced and impelled by Him thereto.” The religious vow was
 worthless, because it required what was impossible, since “chastity
 is as little within our power as the working of miracles”; man was
 utterly unable to resist his natural attraction to woman; “whoever
 wishes to remain single let him put away his human name and fashion
 himself into an angel or a spirit, for to a man God does not give this

 Elsewhere Luther, nevertheless, admits that some few by the help of
 God were able to live unmarried and chaste. In view of the sublime
 figures to be found in the history of the Church, and which it was
 impossible to impeach, he declares that “it is rightly said of the
 holy virgins that they lived an angelical and not a human life, and
 that by the grace of the Almighty they lived indeed in the flesh yet
 not according to it.”

 He proceeds to heap up imaginary objections against the vow of
 chastity, saying that whoever makes such a vow is building “upon works
 and not solely on the grace of God”; trusting to “works and the law”
 and denying “Christ and the faith.” In the case of Reissenbusch, the
 only obstacle lay in his “bashfulness and diffidence.” “Therefore
 there is all the more need to keep you up to it, to exhort, drive and
 urge you and so render you bold. Now, my dear Sir, I ask of you, why
 delay and think about it so long, etc.? It is so, must be and ever
 shall be so! Pocket your scruples and be a man cheerfully. Your body
 demands and needs it. God wills it and forces you to it. How are you
 to set that aside?” He points out to the wavering monk the “noble
 and excellent example which he will give”; he will become the “cloak
 of marriage” to many others. “Did not Christ become the covering of
 our shame?... Among the raving madmen [the Papists], it is accounted
 a shameful thing, and though they do not make any difficulty about
 fornication they nevertheless scoff at the married state, the work
 and Word of God. If it is a shameful thing to take a wife, then why
 are we not ashamed to eat and drink, since both are equally necessary
 and God wills both?” Thus he attributes to the Catholics, at least in
 his rhetorical outbursts, the view that it was a “shameful thing to
 take a wife,” and accuses them of scoffing at the “married state,”
 and of “not objecting to fornication.” He did not see that if anyone
 strives to observe chastity in accordance with the Counsel of Christ
 without breaking his word and perjuring himself, this constancy is far
 from being a disgrace, but that the disgrace falls rather on him who
 endeavours to entice the monk to forsake his vows.

 “The devil is the ruler of the world,” Luther continues. “He it is who
 has caused the married state to be so shamefully calumniated and yet
 permits adulterers, feminine whores and masculine scamps to be held in
 great honour; verily it would be right to marry, were it only to bid
 defiance to the devil and his world.”

 In the closing sentence he aims his last bolt at the monk’s sense of
 honour: “It is merely a question of one little hour of shame to be
 succeeded by years of honour. May Christ, our Lord, impart His grace
 so that this letter ... may bring forth fruit to the glory of His name
 and word, Amen.”

 The letter was not intended merely for the unimportant person to whom
 it was addressed, and whose subsequent marriage with the daughter of a
 poor tailor’s widow in Torgau did not render him any the more famous.
 Publicity was the object aimed at in this writing, which was at
 once printed in German and Latin and distributed that it might “bear
 fruit.” The lengthier “_Epistola gratulatoria_ to one about to marry,”
 immediately reprinted in German, was despatched by Luther’s Wittenberg
 friend Bugenhagen at the time of Reissenbusch’s wedding. It had been
 agreed upon to utilise the action of Reissenbusch for all it was worth
 in the propaganda in favour of the breaking of vows and priestly

Luther was then in the habit of employing the strongest and most
extravagant language in order to show the need of marriage in
opposition to the celibacy practised by the priests and monks. It is
only with repulsion that one can follow him here.

 “It is quite true,” he says, in 1522, to the German people, “that
 whoever does not marry must misconduct himself ... for God created
 man and woman to be fruitful and multiply. But why is not fornication
 obviated by marriage? For where no extraordinary grace is vouchsafed,
 nature must needs be fruitful and multiply, and if not in marriage,
 where will it find its satisfaction save in harlotry or even worse
 sins?”[297] Luther carefully refrained from mentioning the countless
 number who were able to control the impulses of nature without in any
 way touching the moral filth to which, in his cynicism, he is so fond
 of referring. What he said filled with indignation those who were
 zealous for the Church, and called forth angry rejoinders, especially
 in view of the countless numbers, particularly of women, to whom
 marriage was denied owing to social conditions.

 It is true that after such strong outbursts as the above, Luther would
 often moderate his language. Thus he says, shortly after the utterance
 just quoted: “I do not wish to disparage virginity nor to tempt people
 away from it to the conjugal state. Let each one do as he is able and
 as he feels God has ordained for him.... The state of chastity is
 probably better on earth as having less of trouble and care, and not
 for its own sake only, but in order to allow one to preach and wait
 upon the Word of God, as St. Paul says 1 Corinthians vii. 34.”[298]

 But then he continues, following up the idea which possesses him: “He
 who desires to live single undertakes an impossible struggle”; such
 people become “full of harlotry and all impurity of the flesh, and at
 last drown themselves therein and fall into despair; therefore such a
 vow is invalid, being contrary to the Word and work of God.”[299] Most
 of the younger religious, he declares elsewhere in a description which
 is as repulsive as it is untrue, were unable to control themselves,
 for it is not possible to take from fire its power of burning; among
 them, and the clergy, there prevailed “either harlotry under the name
 of a spiritual and chaste life, or an impure, unwilling, wretched,
 forlorn chastity, so that the wretchedness is greater than anyone
 could believe or tell.”[300]

 What Luther says would leave us under the impression--to put the
 most charitable interpretation upon his words--that he had lived in
 sad surroundings; yet what we know of the Augustinian monasteries at
 Erfurt and Wittenberg affords as little ground for such an assumption
 as the conditions prevailing in the other friaries, whether Franciscan
 or Dominican, with which he was acquainted. He speaks again and again
 as though he knew nothing of the satisfaction with their profession
 which filled whole multitudes who were faithful to their vows, and
 which was the result of serious discipline and a devout mind. He goes
 on: “They extol chastity loudly, but live in the midst of impurity....
 These pious foundations and convents, where the faith [according
 to his teaching] is not practised stoutly and heartily,”[301] must
 surely be gates of hell. Those who refrain from marriage for the sake
 of the Kingdom of Heaven are, he considers, “so rare, that among
 a thousand men there is scarcely to be found one, for they are a
 special miracle of God’s own.”[302] He who enters a monastery, he
 writes (not in the least afraid of speaking as though this had been
 his own experience), can, in reality, never avoid sinning against his
 vow. The Pope leaves such a one to be, as it were, burnt and roasted
 in the fire; he accordingly might well be compared to the sacrifice
 which the children of Israel offered to Moloch the fiery idol. “What a
 Sodom and Gomorrha,” he cries in another passage, “has the devil set
 up by such laws and vows, making of that rare gift chastity a thing
 of utter wretchedness. Neither public houses of ill fame, nor indeed
 any form of allurement to vice, is so pernicious as are these vows and
 commandments invented by Satan himself.”[303] Such are his words in
 his “Postils,” written for general, practical use.

 His “larger Catechism” was also used as a means to render popular his
 most extravagant polemics on this subject. The sixth Commandment makes
 of chastity a duty, and Christ’s counsel of voluntary continence was
 to serve for the preserving and honouring of this very command. Yet
 Luther says: “By this commandment all vows of unmarried chastity are
 condemned, and all poor, enslaved consciences which have been deceived
 by their monastic vows are thereby permitted, nay ordered, to pass
 from the unchaste to the conjugal state, seeing that even though the
 monastic life were in other particulars divine, it is not in their
 power to preserve their chastity intact.”[304] Thus “the married
 state” is, at least, according to this passage, prescribed for all
 without exception in the Ten Commandments.

Still further to strengthen his seductive appeals to the clergy and
religious, Luther, as he himself informs us, advised those who were
unable to marry openly “at least to wed their cook secretly.”[305]

To the Prince-Abbots he gave the advice that on account of the laws of
the Empire they should, for the time being, “take a wife in secret,”
“until God, the Lord, shall dispose matters otherwise.” In 1523 he
advised all the Knights of the Teutonic Order, who were vowed to
chastity, “not to worry” about their “weakness and sin” even though
they had contracted some “illicit connections”; such connections
contracted outside of matrimony were “less sinful” than to “take a
lawful wife” with the consent of a Council, supposing such a permission
were given.[306] This last letter, too, was at once printed by Luther
for distribution.[307]

His spirit of defiance led him to clothe his demands in outrageous
forms. On one occasion he declared in language resembling that which he
made use of concerning the laws of fasting: “Even though a man has no
mind to take a wife he ought, nevertheless, to do so in order to spite
and vex the devil and his doctrine.”[308]

The Fathers of the Church accordingly found little favour with him when
they required of the clergy, monks and nuns, not merely the observance
of celibacy, but also the use of the means enjoined by asceticism for
the preservation of chastity; or when they betrayed their preference
for the vow of chastity, though without by any means disparaging
marriage. They quoted what Our Lord had said of this doctrine: “He that
can take it, let him take it” (Matt. xix. 12). The Fathers, in the
spirit of St. Paul, who, as one “having obtained mercy of the Lord,”
joyfully acquiesced in His “Counsel” of chastity (1 Cor. vii. 25),
frequently advocated the doctrine of holy continence. But Luther asks:
Of what use were their penitential practices for the preservation of
their chastity to the Fathers, even to Augustine, Jerome, Benedict,
Bernard, etc., since they themselves allow that they were constantly
troubled by temptations of the flesh? In his opinion, as we already
know, the attacks of sensuality, the movements of the carnal man and
the enduring sense of our own concupiscence are really sins.

Jerome in particular, the zealous advocate of virginity, received
at Luther’s hands the roughest treatment. This saint is erroneously
reckoned among the Fathers of the Church; he is of no account at
all except for the histories he compiled; he was madly in love with
the virgin Eustochium; his writings give no proof of faith or true
religion; he had not the least idea of the difference between the
law and the Gospel, and writes of it as a blind man might write of
colour, etc. His invitations to the monastic life are described by
Luther as impious, unbelieving and sacrilegious. Scoffing at the
Saint’s humble admission of his temptations in his old age and the
severe mortifications he practised to overcome them, Luther says: The
virgin Eustochium would have been the proper remedy for him. “I am
astounded that the holy Fathers tormented themselves so greatly about
such childish temptations and never experienced the exalted, spiritual
trials [those regarding faith], seeing that they were rulers in the
Church and filled high offices. This temptation of evil passions may
easily be remedied if there are only virgins or women available.”[309]

All these fell doctrines and allurements which without intermission
were poured into the ears of clergy and religious alike, many of whom
were uneducated, already tainted with worldliness, or had entered
upon their profession without due earnestness, were productive of
the expected result in the case of the weak. The sudden force of
Luther’s powerful and well-calculated attack upon the clergy and upon
monasticism has been aptly compared to the effect of dynamite. But
whoever fell, did so of his own free will. Such language was nothing
but the bewitching song of the Siren addressed to the basest though
most powerful instincts of man.

The historic importance of the attack upon ecclesiastical celibacy
is by no means fully gauged if we merely regard it as an effective
method of securing preachers, allies and patrons for the new Evangel.
It was, indeed, closely bound up with Luther’s whole system, and his
early theories on holiness by works and self-righteousness. His war on
vows was too spontaneous, too closely connected with his own personal
experience, to be accounted for merely by the desire of increasing the
number of his followers. The aversion to the practice of good works
which marked the commencement of his growth, his loathing for the
sacrifices entailed by self-denial, the very stress he lays on the
desires of nature as opposed to the promptings of grace, the delusion
of evangelical freedom and finally his hatred of those institutions of
the old Church which inspired her adherents with such vigorous life
wherever they were rightly understood and practised--all this served as
an incentive in the struggle.

A strange element which, according to his own statements, formed
an undercurrent to all this and which indicates his peculiar state
of mind, was that he looked upon the temptations of the flesh as
something altogether insignificant in comparison with the exalted
spiritual assaults of “blasphemy and despair” of which he had had
personal experience.[310] In the passage already referred to, where
he chides the Fathers with their “childish temptations,” he says: Why
on earth did they make such efforts for the preservation of their
beloved chastity, or exert themselves for something entirely, or
almost entirely, impossible of attainment? The temptations of the
flesh are nothing at all, he proceeds, “compared with the Angel of
Satan who buffets us; then indeed we are nailed to the cross, then
indeed childish things such as the temptations which worried Jerome and
others become of small account.” In Paul’s case, according to him, the
“_angelus colaphizans_” (the angel who buffeted him, 2 Cor. xii. 7) was
not a sting of the flesh at all, but exalted pangs of the soul, such
as those to which the Psalmist alluded when he said: “God, my God, why
hast Thou forsaken me?” where he really means: “God, Thou art become my
enemy without a cause,” or again, that a sword has pierced his bowels
(pains of the soul). He himself, Luther, had endured such-like things,
but “Jerome and the other Fathers never experienced anything of the

       *       *       *       *       *

Luther complains as early as 1522, i.e. at the very outset of this
“Evangelical” movement, of the character of the auxiliaries who had
been attracted to him by his attack on priestly and monastic continence.

 In a letter sent to Erfurt he expresses his great dissatisfaction at
 the fact that, where apostate Augustinians had become pastors, their
 behaviour, like that of the other preachers drawn from the ranks of
 the priesthood, had “given occasion to their adversaries to blaspheme”
 against the evangel. He says he intends sending a circular letter to
 the “Church at Erfurt” on account of the bad example given.[312] The
 person to whom these bitter words were addressed, Luther’s intimate
 friend, Johann Lang, the Erfurt Augustinian, had himself shortly
 before forsaken the monastery. The circumstances attending his leaving
 were very distasteful to Luther.

 The evangelical life at Erfurt, where many of the priests were taking
 wives, must be improved, so he writes, even though the “understanding
 of the Word” had increased greatly there. “The power of the Word
 is either still hidden” he says, of the new evangel, “or it is far
 too weak in us all; for we are the same as before, hard, unfeeling,
 impatient, foolhardy, drunken, dissolute, quarrelsome; in short, the
 mark of a Christian, viz. abundant charity, is nowhere apparent; on
 the contrary, the words of Paul are fulfilled, ‘we possess the kingdom
 of God in speech, but not in power’” (1 Cor. iv. 20).[313] In the
 same letter he complains of the monks who had left their convents to
 reinforce the ranks of his party: “I see that many of our monks have
 left their priory for no other reason than that which brought them in:
 they follow their bellies and the freedom of the flesh. By them Satan
 will set up a great stench against the good odour of our work. But
 what can we do? They are idle people who seek their own, so that it
 is better they should sin and go to destruction without the cowl than
 with it.”

 Luther complained still more definitely of his “parsons and preachers”
 in the Preface to the “Larger Catechism” which he composed for them
 in 1529: Many, he says, despise their office and good doctrine: some
 simply treated the matter as though they had become “parsons and
 preachers solely for their belly’s sake”; he would exhort such “lazy
 paunches or presumptuous saints” to diligence in their office.[314]
 What he had predicted in 1522 became more and more plainly fulfilled:
 “It is true that I fear some will take wives or run away, not from
 Christian conviction, but because they rejoice to find a cloak and
 reason for their wickedness in the freedom of the evangel.” His
 consolation, however, is, that it was just as bad and even worse in
 Popery, and if needs be “we still have the gallows, the wheel, sword
 and water to deal with such as will not do what is right.”[315]

In later years, as his pupil Mathesius relates in the “Historien” of
his conversations with him, Luther was anxious to induce the Elector
to erect a “Priests’ Tower” “in which such wild and untamed persons
might be shut up as in a prison; for many of them would not allow
themselves to be controlled by the Evangel; ... all who once had run
to the monasteries for the sake of their belly and an easy life were
now running out again for the sake of the freedom of the flesh.”[316]
According to Lauterbach’s “Tagebuch,” however (1538), the Elector had
before this decided to rebuild the University prison as a jail for such
of the clergy of Luther’s camp who misbehaved themselves,[317] and the
Notes of Mathesius recently edited by Kroker allow us to infer that the
prison had already been built in 1540.[318] Thus the account given by
Mathesius in the “Historien” and quoted by him in sermons at a later
date must be amended and amplified accordingly.

Even Luther’s own followers looked askance at many of the recruits from
the clergy and the monasteries, who came to swell the ranks of the
preachers and adherents of the new Evangel. We are in possession of
statements on this subject made by Eberlin, Hessus and Cordus.

 “Scarcely has a monk or nun been three days out of the convent,”
 writes Eberlin of Günzburg, “than they make haste to marry some woman
 or knave from the streets, without any godly counsel or prayer; in
 the same way the parsons too take whom they please, and then, after a
 short honeymoon, follows a long year of trouble.”[319]

 Eobanus Hessus, the Humanist, writes in 1523 from Erfurt to J. Draco
 that the runaway monks neglected education and learning and preached
 their own stupidities as wisdom; the number of such priests and
 nuns was increasing endlessly. “I cannot sufficiently execrate these
 fugitives. No Phyllis is more wanton than our nuns.”[320]

 A third witness, also from Erfurt, Euritius Cordus, complains in
 similar fashion in a letter written in 1522 to Draco: No one here has
 been improved one little bit by the evangel; “on the contrary, avarice
 has increased and likewise the opportunities for the worst freedom of
 the flesh”; priests and monks were everywhere set upon marrying, which
 in itself is not to be disapproved of, and the young students were
 more lawless than soldiers in camp.[321]

Protestant historians are fond of limiting the moral evils to the
period which followed the Peasant Wars of 1525 as though they had been
caused by the disorders of the time. The above accounts, given by
followers of the new movement, extend, however, to earlier years, and
to these many others previous to 1525 will be added in the course of
our narrative.

It has also frequently been said that the confusion which always
accompanies popular movements which stir men’s minds must be taken into
account when considering the disastrous moral effects so evident in the
camp of the Reformers. But this view of the matter, if not false, is
at least open to doubt. The disorders just described were not at all
creditable to a work undertaken in the name of religion. The results
were also felt long after. If all revolutions easily led to such
consequences, in this instance the lamentable moral outcome was all the
more inevitable, seeing that “freedom” was the watchword.

The undeniable fact of the existence of such a state of things was all
the more disagreeable to its authors, i.e. Luther and his friends,
since they were well aware that the great ecclesiastical movements in
former days, which had really been inspired by God, usually exhibited,
more particularly in their beginnings, abundant moral benefits. “The
first fruits of the Spirit,” as they had been manifested in the
Church, were very different from those attending the efforts of the
Wittenberg Professor, who, nevertheless, had himself designated this
period as the “_primitiæ spiritus_.”[322] It was but poor comfort in
their difficulty to strive to reassure themselves by considerations
such as Cordus brings forward to meet the complaints we quoted above:
“Maybe the Word of God has only now opened our eyes to see clearly,
to recognise as sin, and abhor with fear, what formerly we scarcely
heeded.” This strange fashion of soothing his conscience he had learnt
from Luther. (See vol. iv., xxiv.)

It is worth while to observe the impression which the facts just
mentioned made on Luther’s foes.

 Erasmus, who at the commencement was not unfavourably disposed towards
 the movement, turned away from it with disgust, influenced, in part
 at least, by the tales he heard concerning the apostate priests and
 religious. “They seek two things,” he wrote, “an income (_censum_)
 and a wife; besides, the evangel affords them freedom to live as they
 please.”[323] In a letter to the Strasburg preacher, Martin Bucer, he
 said: “Those who have given up the recital of the Canonical Hours do
 not now pray at all; many who have laid aside the pharisaical dress
 are really worse than they were before.”[324] And again: “The first
 thing that makes me draw back from this company is, that I see so
 many among this troop becoming altogether estranged from the purity
 of the Gospel. Some I knew as excellent men before they joined this
 sect; what they are now, I know not, but I hear that many have become
 worse, and none better.”--The evangel now prospers, he says elsewhere,
 “because priests and monks take wives contrary to human laws, or at
 any rate contrary to their vow. Look around and see whether their
 marriages are more chaste than those of others upon whom they look as

 Valentine Ickelsamer, an Anabaptist opponent of Luther’s, reminds
 him in his writing in defence of Carlstadt in 1525,[326] that Holy
 Scripture says: “By their works you shall know them.” Even while
 studying at Wittenberg [a few years before] he had been obliged to
 appeal to this “text of Matthew septimo,” out of disgust at the
 riotous life people led there; “they had, however, always found a
 convenient method of explaining it away, or got out of the difficulty
 by the help of some paltry gloss.” “You also,” he says to Luther,
 “loudly complained that we blamed only the faults on your side. No,
 we do not judge, or blame any sinner as you do; but what we do say is
 that where Christian faith is not productive of Christian works, there
 the faith is neither rightly preached nor rightly accepted.”

 It is true that this corrector of the public morals could only point
 to a pretence of works among his own party, and in weighing his
 evidence against Luther allowance must be made for his prejudice
 against him. Still, his words give some idea of the character of
 the protests made against the Wittenberg preachers in the prints of
 that time. He approves of the marriage of the clergy who had joined
 Luther’s party, and refuses to open his eyes to what was taking
 place among the Anabaptists themselves: “They” [your preachers], he
 says, “threaten and force the poor people by fair, or rather foul
 and tyrannical, means, to feed their prostitutes, for these clerical
 fellows judge it better to keep a light woman than a wedded wife,
 because they are anxious about their external appearance.... Such
 declare that whoever accuses them of keeping prostitutes lies like a
 scoundrel.... But if such are not the worst fornicators and knaves,
 let the fiend fly away with me. I often wonder whether the devil is
 ever out of temper now, for he has the whole of the preacher folk
 on his side; on their part there has been nothing but deception.”
 Were the people to seize the preachers “by the scruff of their neck”
 on account of their wickedness, then they would call themselves
 martyrs, and say that Christ had foretold their persecution; true
 enough the other mad priests [the Catholics] were “clearly messengers
 and satellites of the devil”; nevertheless he could not help being
 angered by Luther’s “rich, uncouth, effeminate, whoremongering mob
 of preachers,” who were so uncharitable in their ways and “who yet
 pretended to be Christians.”[327]

It is obvious that Ickelsamer and his party went too far when they
asserted that not one man who led an honest life was to be found
among the Lutheran preachers, for in reality there was no lack of
well-meaning men who, like Willibald Pirkheimer and Albrecht Dürer,
were bent on making use of their powers in the interests of what they
took to be the pure Gospel. This, however, was less frequently the case
with the apostate priests and monks. The thoughts of the impartial
historian revert of their own accord to the moral disorders prevalent
in the older Church. We are not at liberty to ignore the fact that it
was impossible for the Catholics at that time to point to any shining
examples on their side which might have shamed the Lutherans. They
were obliged to admit that the abuses rampant in clerical and monastic
life had, as a matter of fact, prepared the way for and facilitated the
apostasy of many of those who went over to Luther and became preachers
of the new faith. The Church had to lament not only the fate of those
who turned their back on her, but the earlier decay of many of her own
institutions; under the influence of the spirit of the age this decay
was hourly growing worse. At the same time the secession of so many
undesirable elements was itself a reason for not despairing of recovery.

A great contrast to the lives of the apostate monks and clergy is
nevertheless presented in an account which has been preserved by one of
the adherents of the new faith of the conditions prevailing in certain
monasteries where the friars, true to the Rule of their founder, kept
their vows in the right spirit. The Franciscan Observants of the
Province of Higher Germany were then governed by Caspar Schatzgeyer, a
capable Bavarian Friar Minor, and, notwithstanding many difficulties,
numbered in 1523 no less than 28 friaries and 560 members. In the
course of the fifteenth century the Franciscan Observantines had spread
far and wide as a result of the reform inaugurated within the Order
and approved of by Rome. The Franciscan foundations at Heidelberg,
Basle, Tübingen, Nuremberg, Mayence, Ulm, Ingoldstadt, Munich and other
cities had one after the other made common cause with the Observants
and, unlike the Conventuals, observed the old Rule in all its primitive

 It was Johann Eberlin of Günzburg, a Franciscan who had apostatised
 to Lutheranism, who, in 1523, in a tract “Against those spurious
 clergymen of the Christian flock known as barefooted friars or
 Franciscans,” was compelled to bear witness to the pure and mortified
 life of these monks with whom he was so well acquainted, though
 he urges that the devil was artfully using for his own purposes
 their piety, which was altogether devoid of true faith, “in order
 to entangle the best and most zealous souls in the meshes of his
 diabolical net.” “They lead a chaste life in words, works and
 behaviour,” says Eberlin, speaking of them generally; “if amongst a
 hundred one should act otherwise, this is not to be wondered at. If
 he transgresses [in the matter of chastity], he is severely punished
 as a warning to others. Their rough grey frock and hempen girdle,
 the absence of boots, breeches, vest, woollen or linen shirt, their
 not being allowed to bathe, being obliged to sleep in their clothes
 and not on feather-beds but on straw, their fasts which last half
 the year, their lengthy services in choir, etc., all this shows
 everyone that they have little or no care for their own body. Their
 simplicity in dress and adornment, their great obedience, their not
 assuming any titles at the University however learned they may be,
 their seldom riding or driving luxuriously, shows that they are not
 desirous of pomp or honour. Their possessing nothing, whether in
 common or individually, their taking no money and refusing even to
 touch it, their not extorting offerings or dues from the people, but
 living only on alms with which the people supply them of their own
 accord; this shows their contempt for the riches of the world. The
 world is astonished at these men who do not indulge in any of the
 pleasures of feminine company, or in eating and drinking--for they
 fast much and never eat flesh meat--or in soft clothing, or long
 sleep, etc. Hence the world believes them to be more than human; it
 also sees how these virtuous men preach and hear confessions, scare
 others from sin, exhort them to virtue, move them to fear hell and
 God’s judgments, and to desire the Kingdom of Heaven; ever with the
 Word of God and His judgments on their lips, so that they appear to be
 well-versed in Scripture, and to be carrying out in their whole life
 and practice what they teach.... Countless godly men have entered this
 state; from all ranks, places and countries, people have hastened to
 join this Order; every corner of Christendom is full of Franciscan

3. Reaction of the Apostasy on its Author. His Private Life (1522-1525)

The moral results of Luther’s undertaking and its effect upon himself
have been very variously represented. The character of the originator
of so gigantic a movement in the realm of ideas could not escape
experiencing deeply the reaction of the events in progress; yet the
opinion even of his contemporaries concerning Luther’s morals in the
critical years immediately preceding his marriage differ widely,
according to the view they take of his enterprise. While by his
adherents he is hailed as a second Elias,[329] some of his opponents do
not hesitate to accuse him of the worst moral aberrations. Ickelsamer,
however, one of the spokesmen of the “fanatics,” who did not scruple
to raise an angry voice against Luther’s preachers, and even against
Luther himself, was unable to adduce against him any evidence of
sexual misconduct during those years. It is also very remarkable
that Ickelsamer’s friend, Thomas Münzer, in his violent and bitter
controversial attack upon Luther dating from that time, was also unable
to bring forward charges of immorality. Both would doubtless have
gladly availed themselves of any offences against the moral code of
which Luther might have been guilty between 1522 and 1524, but in spite
of their watchfulness they failed to detect any such.

Nevertheless, accusations of Ickelsamer’s, in which he speaks more in
detail of Luther’s “faulty life,” are not lacking.

 He finds fault with his “defiant teaching and his wilful disposition,”
 also with the frightful violence of the abuse with which in his
 writings he overwhelms his adversaries; recklessly and defiantly he
 flung abroad books filled with blasphemies. He blames him for the
 proud and tyrannical manner in which he sets up a “Papal Chair” for
 himself so as to suppress without mercy the new teachers who differ
 from him. Concerning his administration, he admits that Luther
 “exerted himself vigorously to put down evil living, in which efforts
 it was easy to detect the working of the Christian faith,” but he
 adds that the “public fornication” of certain masters and college
 fellows, as well as others who were in high favour, was winked
 at;[330] he, Ickelsamer, would say of the Wittenberg Professors what
 had long before been said of Rome: the nearer they live to Wittenberg
 the worse Christians are. He also reminds Luther of the “scandal and
 offence” the latter had given him by his excuses for the “mad and
 immoral goings on” at Wittenberg: “You said, ‘We can’t be angels.’”
 Of his private life he merely remarks that it annoyed him that
 Luther, “neglectful of so many urgent matters,” “could sit in the
 pleasant room overlooking the water,” “drinking cheerfully,” “among
 the beer-swillers.” Finally, with the usual hypocritical severity
 of the Anabaptists, he reproaches him concerning other matters, his
 extravagance in dress, and the pomp displayed at the promotion of

 Thomas Münzer in his violent “Schutzrede”[332] speaks at great length
 of Luther’s pride, who, he says, wished to be a new Pope while making
 a show of humility; he “excited and urged on the people like a hound
 of hell,” though protesting that he did not wish to raise a revolt,
 “like a serpent that glides over the rocks.” Luther, in the very
 title of his work, he describes, as “that dull, effeminate lump of
 flesh at Wittenberg.” In the course of the same work he speaks of
 him scornfully as “Martin, the virgin,” and exclaims, “Ah, the chaste
 Babylonian virgin.” He classes him, on account of his sermons on
 “freedom,” with those teachers “who are pleasing to the world, which
 likes an easy life”; he speaks of him sarcastically as a “new Christ”
 with a “fine subject for his preaching,” viz. “that priests may take
 wives.”[333] He does not accuse him of any particular moral excess,
 but nevertheless remarks that “the disgraced monk” was not likely
 to suffer very severely under the persecution of which he boasted
 “when enjoying good Malvasian and feasting with light women.”[334]
 The latter allusion probably refers merely to Luther’s love of a good
 dinner, and his merry ways at his meals, which, to a strict Anabaptist
 like Münzer, seemed as deserving of execration as feasting with
 dissolute women.

It has recently been asserted by an eminent Protestant controversialist
that Luther’s contemporaries never accused him of moral laxity or of
offences against chastity, and that it was only after his death that
people ventured to bring forward such charges; so long as he lived “the
Romans,” so we read, “accused him of one only deed against the sixth
commandment, viz. with his marriage”; Pistorius, Ulenberg and “Jesuits
like Weislinger who copied them,” were the first to enter the lists
with such accusations.

To start with, we may remark that Weislinger was not a Jesuit and that
Ulenberg does not mention any moral offence committed by Luther apart
from his matrimony. In fact the whole statement of the controversialist
just quoted must be treated as a legend. As a matter of fact, serious
charges regarding this matter were brought against Luther even in his
lifetime and in the years previous to his union with Catherine von Bora.

In 1867 a less timorous Protestant writer, who had studied Luther’s
history, brought forward the following passage from a manuscript letter
written in 1522 by a Catholic, Count Hoyer von Mansfeld, to Count
Ulrich von Helfenstein: “He had been a good Lutheran before that time
and at Worms, but had come to see that Luther was a thorough scoundrel,
who drank deeply, as was the custom at Mansfeld, liked the company of
beautiful women, played the lute and led a frivolous life; therefore he
[the Count] had abandoned his cause.”[335] From that time Hoyer von
Mansfeld resolutely opposed Luther, caused a disputation to be held
against him in 1526, and, to the end of his life (1540), kept a part of
the Mansfeld estates loyal to the Catholic faith. Hoyer was an opponent
of Luther when he wrote the above, but he must have received a very bad
impression of Luther’s private life during the period subsequent to the
latter’s stay at the Wartburg if this was the reason of his deserting
Luther’s cause. It is conceivable that at the time of the Diet of
Worms, when Hoyer declares he was still a “good Lutheran,” the contrast
between Luther’s behaviour and the monastic habits of his earlier
life had not yet become so conspicuous. (See above, p. 79.) After his
stay at the Wartburg and subsequent to his attacks both literary and
practical on the vow of chastity and on celibacy, a change such as that
which Hoyer so distinctly refers to may have taken place. Wittenberg,
the rallying point of so many questionable allies and escaped nuns
in search of a refuge, was, in view of Luther’s social, not to say
jovial, disposition, scarcely a suitable place for him. His want of
self-restraint and the levity of his bearing were censured at that time
by others, and even by Melanchthon. (See below, p. 144.)

The following year, 1523, after the arrival at Wittenberg of the nuns
who had been “liberated” from their convents, there is no doubt that
grave, though grossly exaggerated reports, unfavourable to Luther’s
life and behaviour, were circulated both in Catholic circles and at the
Court of Ferdinand the German King. Luther’s attacks upon the Church
caused these reports to be readily accepted. An echo from the Court
reached Luther’s ears, and he gives some account of it in a letter of
January 14, 1524. According to this, it had been said in the King’s
surroundings “that he frequented the company of light women, played
dice and spent his time in the public-houses”; also that he was fond of
going about armed and accompanied by a stately retinue; likewise, that
he occupied a post of honour at the Court of his sovereign Prince. The
tale regarding his bearing arms and occupying posts of honour Luther
was able easily to repudiate by the testimony of his friends. He also
confidently declared the remaining statements to be merely lies.[336]

Proof is wanting to substantiate the charge of “fornication” contained
in a letter written from Rome by Jacob Ziegler to Erasmus on February
16, 1522. Ziegler there relates that he had been invited by a bishop
to dinner and that the conversation turned on Luther: “The opinion was
expressed that he was given to fornication and tippling, vices to which
the Germans were greatly addicted.”[337] Abroad, and more particularly
in the great Catholic centres, such reports met with a more favourable
reception than elsewhere. The Germans were always held up as examples
of drunkenness, and, regarding Luther, such accusations were at a later
date certainly carried too far. (See vol. iii., xvii. 7, “The Good

In order to judge objectively of Luther’s behaviour, greater stress
must be laid upon the circumstances which imposed caution and reticence
upon him than has been done so far by his accusers.

Luther, both at that time and later, frequently declared that he
himself, as well as his followers, must carefully avoid every action
which might give public scandal and so prejudice the new Evangel,
seeing that his adversaries were kept well informed of everything that
concerned him. He ever endeavoured to live up to this principle, for
on this his whole undertaking to some extent depended. “The eyes of
the whole world are on us,” he cries in a sermon in 1524.[338] “We are
a spectacle to the whole world,” he says; “therefore how necessary
it is that our word should be blameless, as St. Paul demands (Tit.
ii. 8)!”[339] “In order that worthless men may have no opportunity
to blaspheme,” he refuses later, for instance, to accept anything
at all as a present out of the Church property of the bishopric
of Naumburg,[340] and he reprimands a drunken relative, sternly
admonishing him: On your account I am evil spoken of; my foes seek out
everything that concerns me; therefore it was his duty, Luther tells
him, “to consider his family, the town he lived in, the Church and the
Gospel of God.”[341] Mathesius also relates the following remark made
by Luther when advanced in years: “Calumniators overlook the virtues
of great men, but where they see a fault or stain in any, they busy
themselves in raking it up and making it known.” “The devil keeps a
sharp eye on me in order to render my teaching of bad repute or to
attach some shameful stain to it.”[342]

In 1521 Luther thinks he is justified in giving himself this excellent
testimonial: “During these three years so many lies have been invented
about me, as you know, and yet they have all been disproved.” “I think
that people ought to believe my own Wittenbergers, who are in daily
intercourse with me and see my life, rather than the tales of liars who
are not even on the spot.” His life was a public one, he said, and he
was at the service of all; he worked so hard that “three of my years
are really equal to six.”[343]

His energy in work was not to be gainsaid, but it was just his numerous
writings produced in the greatest haste and under the influence of
passion which led his mind further and further from the care of
his spiritual life, and thus paved the way for certain other moral
imperfections; here, also, we see one of the effects of the struggle
on his character. At the same time he exposed himself to the danger of
acquiring the customs and habits of thought of so many of his followers
and companions, who had joined his party not from higher motives but
for reasons of the basest sort.

In 1522 Johannes Fabri writes of the moral atmosphere surrounding
Luther and his methods of work: “I am well aware, my Luther, that your
only object was to gain the favour of many by this concession [the
marriage of priests], and as a matter of fact, you have succeeded
in doing so.” Why, he asks, did you not rather, “by your writings
and exhortations, induce the priests who had fallen into sin to give
up their concubines?” “I see you make it your business to tell the
people what will please them in order to increase the number of your
supporters.... You lay pillows under the heads of those who, from
the moral standpoint, are snoring in a deep sleep and you know how
difficult, nay dangerous, it is for me and those who think as I do, to
oppose the doctrine which you teach.”[344]

That his work was leading him on the downward path and threatened to
extinguish his interior religious life, Luther himself admitted at
that time, though in some of his other statements he declares that his
zeal in God’s service had been promoted by the struggle. He confesses
in 1523, for instance, to the Zwickau Pastor Nicholas Hausmann, whom
he esteemed very highly, that his interior life was “drying up,” and
concludes: “Pray for me that I may not end in the flesh.” He is here
alluding to the passage in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians where he
warns the latter, lest having begun in the spirit they should end in
the flesh.[345] This Pastor was a spiritual friend to whom, owing to
his esteem for him, he confided much, though his confessions must not
always be taken too literally.

The well-known incident of the flight of the nuns from the convent at
Nimbschen, and their settling in Wittenberg, was looked upon by Luther
and his followers as a matter of the greatest importance. The apostasy
of the twelve nuns, among whom was Catherine von Bora, opened the door
of all the other convents, as Luther expressed it, and demonstrated
publicly what must be done “on behalf of the salvation of souls.”[346]
Some of these nuns, as was frequently the case, had entered the
Cistercian convent near Grimma, without a vocation, or had gradually
become disgusted with their state owing to long-continued tepidity
and want of fidelity to their profession. They had contrived to place
themselves in communication with Luther, who, as he admits later in
a public writing, himself arranged for them to be carried away by
force, seeing that their relatives would do nothing. The plan was put
into effect by one of the town councillors of Torgau, Leonard Koppe,
aided by two other citizens of that town. Koppe had shortly before
displayed heroic energy and skill in an attack upon a poor convent;
with sixteen young comrades he had stormed the Franciscan friary at
Torgau on the night of Ash Wednesday, 1523, thrown the monks who
offered any resistance over the wall and smashed the windows, doors and
furniture.[347] At the close of the Lenten season of the same year he
signalised himself by this new exploit at Nimbschen.

On the Saturday in Holy Week, 1523, agreeably with an arrangement
made beforehand with the apostate nuns, he made his appearance in the
courtyard of the convent with an innocent-looking covered van, in
which the nuns quietly took their places. As the van often came to
the convent with provisions, no one noticed their flight. So runs the
most authentic of the various accounts, some of them of a romantic
nature, viz. that related by a chronicler of Torgau who lived about the
year 1600.[348] Koppe brought the fugitives straight to Wittenberg,
where they were safe. After a while they were received into different
families in the town, or were fetched away by their relatives. Thus set
free from their “bonds” on that memorable day of the Church’s year,
they celebrated their so-called “resurrection.”

Luther declared, in a circular letter concerning this occurrence, that
as Christ, the risen One, had, like a triumphant robber, snatched his
prey from the Prince of this world, so also Leonard Koppe might be
termed “a blessed robber.” All who were on God’s side would praise
the rape of the nuns as a “great act of piety, so that you may rest
assured that God has ordained it and that it is not your work or your

The twelve nuns were, as Amsdorf writes to Spalatin on April 4,
“pretty, and all of noble birth, and among them I have not found one
who is fifty years old.... I am sorry for the girls; they have neither
shoes nor dresses.” Amsdorf praises the patience and cheerfulness of
the “honourable maidens,” and recommends them through Spalatin to the
charity of the Court. One, namely the sister of Staupitz, who was no
longer so youthful, he at once offers in marriage to Spalatin, though
he admits he has others who are prettier. “If you wish for a younger
one, you shall have your choice of the prettiest.”[350]

Soon after this three other nuns were carried off by their relatives
from Nimbschen. Not long after, sixteen forsook the Mansfeld convent
of Widerstett, five of whom were received by Count Albert of
Mansfeld. Luther reported this latter event with great joy to the
Court Chaplain, Spalatin, and at the same time informed him that the
apostate Franciscan, François Lambert of Avignon, had become engaged
to a servant girl at Wittenberg. His intention, and Amsdorf’s too,
was to coax Spalatin into matrimony and the violation of his priestly
obligation of celibacy. “It is a strange spectacle,” he writes; “what
more can befall to astonish us, unless you yourself at length follow
our example, and to our surprise appear in the guise of a bridegroom?
God brings such wonders to pass, that I, who thought I knew something
of His ways, must set to work again from the very beginning. But His
Holy Will be done, Amen.”[351]

Luther at that time was not in a happy frame of mind. He knew what
was likely to be his experience with the escaped monks and nuns. The
trouble and waste of time, as well as the serious interruption to his
work, which, as he complains, was occasioned by the religious who had
left their convents, appeared to him relatively insignificant.[352]
The large sums of money which, as he remarks, he had to “throw away
on runaway monks and nuns,” he might also have overlooked, as he was
not avaricious.[353] Yet the disorders introduced by the arrival of
so many people bent on matrimony were distasteful to him. In a letter
to Spalatin, July 11, 1523, this complaint escapes him: “I am growing
to hate the sight of these renegade monks who collect here in such
numbers; what annoys me most is that they wish to marry at once,
though they are of no use for anything. I am seeking a means to put
an end to it.”[354] The good name of his undertaking seemed to him to
be at stake. On the occasion of the marriage of a Court preacher to a
very old but wealthy woman, a match which was much talked about, he
complains bitterly that the step was a disgrace to the Evangel; the
miserly bridegroom was “betraying himself and us.”[355]

Above we have heard him speak of the monks who were desirous of
marrying; he was more indulgent to the nuns who had come to Wittenberg.
According to Melanchthon’s account he entered into too frequent and
intimate relationship with them. (See below.)

Of the twelve who escaped from Nimbschen, nine, who were without
resources, found a refuge in various houses at Wittenberg, while only
three went to their relatives in the Saxon Electorate. To begin with,
from necessity and only for a short time, the nine found quarters in
the Augustinian monastery which had remained in Luther’s hands, in
which he still dwelt and where there was plenty of room; later they
found lodgings in the town. Luther had to provide in part for their
maintenance. Catherine von Bora was lodged by him in the house of the
Town-clerk, Reichenbach.

There was no longer any question of monastic seclusion for those
quondam nuns, or for the others who had taken refuge at Wittenberg.
Bora started a love affair in 1523 with Hieronymus Baumgärtner, a
young Nuremberg patrician; he, however, married another girl in the
commencement of 1525.[356] Christian, the exiled King of Denmark, made
her acquaintance during his stay at Wittenberg in October, 1523; she
showed, at a later date, a ring he had presented to her. In 1524 she
was to have been married to Dr. Glatz, then Pastor of Orlamünde, in
consequence of Luther’s stern and repeated urging. She let it, however,
be understood that she looked higher, refused Glatz’s proposal, and
announced quite frankly to Amsdorf that she would give her hand only
to Luther himself, or to Amsdorf, his confidant. Amsdorf was not to be
allured into matrimony, and remained single all his life. Luther, on
the other hand, was also not then desirous of marrying and, besides,
stood rather in awe of a certain haughtiness of bearing which was said
to be noticeable in her, and which was attributed to her aristocratic

Had he wished to marry at that time Luther, as he declared later,
would have preferred one of the other nuns, viz. Ave von Schönfeld,
who, however, eventually married a young physician who was studying
at Wittenberg. He also speaks on one occasion, at a later date, of a
certain Ave Alemann, a member of a Magdeburg family, as his one-time
“bride,” but simply, as it seems, because Amsdorf had proposed her to
him as a wife. Confirmed bachelor as he was, Amsdorf appears to have
developed at that time a special aptitude for arranging matches.

Luther’s intercourse with his female guests at Wittenberg naturally
gave rise to all sorts of tales among his friends, the more so as he
was very free and easy in the company of women, and imposed too little
restraint upon his conduct. When it was said, even outside Wittenberg
circles, that he would marry, he replied, on November 30, 1524, that,
according to his present ideas, this would not happen, “not as though I
do not feel my flesh and my sex, for I am neither of wood nor of stone,
but I have no inclination to matrimony.”[357]

He was all the more zealous, however, in urging others, his friend
Spalatin in particular, to this step. Spalatin once jokingly reproved
him for this, saying he was surprised he did not set the example, being
so anxious to induce others to marry. To this friendly poke Luther
replied with a strange admixture of jest and earnest. He wrote to him,
on April 16, 1525, that, notwithstanding the fact that he himself was
far removed from thoughts of marriage, yet, after all, as God was wont
to bring the unexpected to pass, it might well be that of the two he
would be the first to wed. He also speaks of himself jestingly as a
“famous lover.” It was doubtless surprising, he says, that he, such a
famous lover, had not married, though, as he wrote so frequently about
marriage and had so much to do with women (_misceor feminis_), it was
still more astonishing that he had not long ago become a woman.[358]
The letter, which has been much discussed in recent times, is not to be
taken seriously; here it is that he speaks, with misplaced pleasantry,
of the “three wives” whom he had already had on his arm.

 This letter calls, however, for some further observations.

 It is hard to believe that Luther, in an everyday letter to a friend,
 should have spoken in earnest of a previous connection of his with
 three women at once. Is it likely that he would accuse himself of
 such intercourse, and that in a letter to a man whose good opinion of
 himself and his work he was in every way careful to preserve?

 We are not here concerned with the question whether such jests were
 suitable, coming from a reformer of faith and morals, yet they
 certainly do not, as has been thought, contain anything of a nature to
 compromise him in his relations with the escaped nuns.

 That Luther is jesting is plain from the conclusion: “Joking apart, I
 say all this in order to urge you on to what you are striving after
 [viz. marriage]. Farewell.” Hence it is clear that what precedes was
 said as a joke.

 He chose to make the matter one of jest because he fancied that
 thus he could best answer Spalatin’s objection against his former
 invitation to him to marry. The latter had retorted: “Why am I
 expected to start? Set the example yourself by your own marriage!”
 Luther thereupon replied in the following terms:

 “As for your observations about my marriage, do not be surprised that
 I, who am such a famous lover (_famosus amator_), do not proceed to
 matrimony. It is still more remarkable that I, who write so frequently
 concerning marriage and have so much to do with women (_sic misceor
 feminis_), have not become a woman long since, not to mention the fact
 that I have not as yet even taken one to wife. Still, if you want my
 example, here you have a forcible one, for I have had three wives at
 one time (_tres simul uxores habui_) and loved them so desperately
 that I lost two who will get other bridegrooms; as for the third I
 can hardly keep hold of her with my left arm, and she too will perhaps
 soon be snatched away from me. But you, you slothful lover, you do not
 even venture to become the husband of one wife. Take care, however,
 lest I [though still in spirit disinclined to marriage] do not
 nevertheless outstrip you people who are all ready for the wedding,
 for God is wont to bring to pass what we least expect.” Then follow
 the words already mentioned, introduced by the formula: “Joking apart.”

 These rather unseasonable words were written in a merry mood on Easter
 Sunday, just as Luther was on the point of leaving Wittenberg for
 Eisleben. As Luther had not yet made up his mind whether to marry or
 not, he evaded Spalatin’s invitation to do so immediately with the
 jest about being a “famous lover,” words probably applied to him by
 Spalatin in the letter to which this is an answer. He means to say:
 As a famous lover I have already given you the encouraging example
 you desire, and the proof of this is to be found in the “three
 women I loved so deeply as to lose them.” This refers doubtless to
 three aspirants to matrimony with whom Spalatin was acquainted, and
 whom common report had designated as likely to wed Luther; who they
 actually were we do not know. Some Protestants have suggested Ave
 Alemann and Ave Schönfeld (see above p. 139). The first, a native of
 Magdeburg, had been presented to Luther during his stay in that town
 as a likely wife. He would have preferred the second. But of neither
 could he have said in his letter that they would shortly have other
 bridegrooms, for Alemann had been married some time, and Schönfeld had
 to wait long for a spouse. Thus it is incorrect to class them amongst
 the “three wives,” and these must be sought among others who had
 intercourse with Luther. The third, at any rate, seems to have been
 Catherine von Bora, who was stopping at that time in Wittenberg and
 actually was engaged on matrimonial plans.

 In any case, the husband who loses three wives through his “too great
 love” is a joke on a par with the wonder expressed by Luther, that,
 after having written so much about marriage and had so much to do with
 women, he had not himself been turned into a woman.

 In his not very choice pleasantries when referring to the intercourse
 with women which resulted from his writings, Luther makes use of a
 very equivocal expression, for “_misceor feminis_,” taken literally
 in the context in which it stands, would imply sexual commerce with
 women, which is not at all what the writer intends to convey. It
 cannot be denied that the jest about the three women and the ambiguous
 word “_misceor_,” are out of place and not in keeping with the gravity
 and moral dignity which we might expect from a man of Luther’s
 position. Such jests betray a certain levity of character, nor can we
 see how certain Lutherans can describe the letter as “scrupulously

 It is nevertheless true, and more particularly of this letter, that
 the unrestrained humour which so often breaks out in Luther’s writings
 must be taken into account in order to judge fairly of what he says;
 it is only in this way that we are able to interpret him rightly.
 Owing to the fact that the jocose element which, in season and out of
 season, so frequently characterises Luther’s manner of speaking is
 lost sight of, his real meaning is often misunderstood.

Just as he had urged his friend Spalatin, so, though in more serious
language, Luther exhorts the Elector Albert, Archbishop of Mayence, to

 This alone should be a sufficient reason for him, he writes, namely,
 that he is a male; “for it is God’s work and will that a man should
 have a wife.... Where God does not work a miracle and make of a man
 an angel, I cannot see how he is to remain without a wife, and avoid
 God’s anger and displeasure. And it is a terrible thing should he be
 found without a wife at the hour of death.” He points out to him that
 the downfall of the whole clergy is merely a question of time, since
 priests are everywhere scoffed at; “priests and monks are caricatured
 on every wall, on every bill, and even on the playing cards.” The
 sanguinary peasant risings which were commencing are also made to
 serve his ends; God is punishing His people in this way because
 “the bishops and princes will not make room for the evangel”; the
 Archbishop ought therefore to follow the “fine example” given recently
 by the “Grand Master in Prussia,” i.e. marry, and “turn the bishopric
 into a temporal principality.”[359]

 This letter was printed in 1526. Dr. Johann Rühel received
 instructions to sound the Archbishop as to his views and seek to
 influence him. It is a well-known fact that Albert was more a temporal
 potentate than an ecclesiastical dignitary, and that his reputation
 was by no means spotless.

 Archbishop Albert was said to have asked Dr. Rühel, or some other
 person, why Luther himself did not take a wife, seeing that he “was
 inciting everyone else to do so.” Should he say this again, Luther
 writes to Rühel, “You are to reply that I have always feared I was
 not fit for it. But if my marriage would be a help to his Electoral
 Grace, I should very soon be ready to prance along in front of him as
 an example to his Electoral Grace; before quitting this life I purpose
 in any case to enter into matrimony, which I regard as enjoined by
 God, even should it be nothing more than an espousal, or Joseph’s
 marriage.”[360] In what way he feared “not to be fit” for marriage, or
 why he contemplated nothing more than a “Joseph’s marriage,” Luther
 does not say. A “Joseph’s marriage” was certainly not calculated to
 satisfy the demands which he himself was accustomed to make, in the
 name of nature, concerning conjugal life. At any rate, his observation
 to Dr. Rühel is very remarkable, as being one of the first indications
 of his approaching marriage.

At this critical period of his life the free and unrestrained tone
which he had employed at an earlier date becomes unpleasantly
conspicuous in his letters, writings and sermons. It is sufficient
to read the passages in his justification of the nuns’ flight where
he treats of his pet conviction, viz. the need of marrying, in words
which, from very shame, are not usually repeated. “Scandal, or no
scandal,” he concludes his dissertation on the nuns who had forsaken
their vow of chastity, “necessity breaks even iron and gives no
scandal!”[361] He had already once before complained that our ears have
become “much purer than the mouth of the Holy Ghost,” referring to
certain sexual matters spoken of very openly in the Old Testament.[362]
He himself, however, paid little heed to such conventions, and,
especially when jesting, delighted to set them at defiance.

Many passages already quoted from his letters to friends prove
this. The “_misceor feminis_” and the “three wives” on his hands
were unbecoming jokes. Kawerau, the historian of Luther, admits the
“cynicism of his language”[363] and this unpleasing quality, which
is more particularly noticeable when he becomes abusive, is also to
be met with even elsewhere, especially in the years which we are now

Luther, for instance, jocosely speaks of himself as a virgin,
“_virgo_,” and, in a letter to Spalatin where he refers playfully to
his own merry and copious tippling at a christening at Schweinitz, he
says: “These three virgins were present [Luther, Jonas and his wife],
certainly Jonas [as a virgin], for as he has no child we call him the
virgin.”[364] Jonas, one of the priests who married, had celebrated his
nuptials February 22, 1522.

On account of his habit of making fun Luther’s friends called him a
“merry boon companion.”

No one could, of course, blame his love of a joke, but his jokes were
sometimes very coarse; for instance, that concerning his friend Jonas
in his letter of February 10, 1525, to Spalatin, of which the tone
is indelicate, to say the least, even if we make all allowance for
the age and for the customs in vogue among the Wittenberg professors.
Jonas, he there says, was accustomed to write his letters on paper
which had served the basest of services; he (Luther) was, however, more
considerate for his friends. “Farewell,” he concludes, “and give my
greetings to the fat husband Melchior [Meirisch, the stout Augustinian
Prior of Dresden, who had married on February 6]; my wishes for him
are, that his wife may prove very obedient; she really ought to drag
him by the hair seven times a day round the market-place and, at night,
as he richly deserves, ‘_bene obtundat connubialibus verbis_.’”[365]

The reference in this letter to Carlstadt and his “familiar demon” (a
fanatical monk who was given to prophesying) calls to mind the indecent
language in which Luther assailed the Anabaptists and “fanatics” during
those years. He makes great fun at the expense of the “nackte Braut
von Orlamünde” and her amorous lovers, referring, in language which is
the reverse of modest, to a ludicrous, mystical work produced by the

Melanchthon is very severe in censuring Luther’s free behaviour and
coarse jests, especially when in the presence of ex-nuns. It has been
pointed out by a Protestant that Luther’s tendency to impropriety of
language, though it cannot be denied, is easily to be explained by the
fact of his being a “monk and the son of a peasant.”[367] It is hard
to see what his being a monk has to do with it, and by what right the
excesses which were perhaps noticeable in some few frivolous monks are
to be regarded as characteristic of the religious state. Melanchthon’s
reproaches lead the same writer to say, this time with at least some
show of reason, that his friend surpassed Luther in “delicacy of

Melanchthon, on June 16, 1525, in a confidential letter written in
Greek to Camerarius about Luther’s recent marriage, complains of his
behaviour towards the runaway nuns then at Wittenberg: “The man,” he
says, “is light-hearted and frivolous (_εὐχερής_) to the last degree;
the nuns pursued him with great cunning and drew him on. Perhaps all
this intercourse with them has rendered him effeminate, or inflamed his
passions, noble and high-minded though he is.” Melanchthon desiderates
in him more “dignity,” and says that his friends (“we”), had frequently
been obliged to reprove him for his buffoonery (_βωμολοχία_).[368]

In consequence of this unseemly behaviour with the nuns, blamed even by
his intimate friends, we can understand that the professors of theology
at Leipzig and Ingolstadt came to speak of Luther with great want of

 Hieronymus Dungersheim, the Leipzig theologian, who had before this
 had a tilt at Luther, wrote, with undisguised rudeness in his “Thirty
 Articles,” against “the errors and heresies” of Martin Luther: “What
 are your thoughts when you are seated in the midst of the herd of
 apostate nuns whom you have seduced, and, as they themselves admit,
 make whatever jokes occur to you? You not only do not attempt to avoid
 what you declare is so hateful to you [the exciting of sensuality],
 but you intentionally stir up your own and others’ passions. What
 are your thoughts when you recall your own golden words, either when
 sitting in such company, or after you have committed your wickedness?
 What can you reply, when reminded of your former conscientiousness,
 in view of such a scandalous life of deceit? I have heard what I
 will not now repeat, from those who had intercourse with you, and I
 could supply details and names. Out upon your morality and religion,
 out upon your obstinacy and blindness! How have you sunk from the
 pinnacle of perfection and true wisdom to the depths of depravity and
 abominable error, dragging down countless numbers with you! Where
 now is Tauler, where the ‘Theologia Deutsch’ from which you boasted
 you had received so much light? The ‘Theologia’ condemns as utterly
 wicked, nay, devilish through and through, all that you are now
 doing, teaching and proclaiming in your books. Glance at it again and
 compare. Alas, you ‘theologian of the Cross!’ What you now have to
 show is nothing but the filthiest wisdom of the flesh, that wisdom
 which, according to the Apostle Paul (Rom. viii. 6 f.), is the death
 of the soul and the enemy of God.”

 Dungersheim then quotes for his benefit the passage from the
 Epistle of St. James concerning the “earthly and devilish wisdom,”
 notwithstanding that Luther treats this Epistle with contempt; his
 real reason for refusing to recognise it was that it witnessed so
 strongly against his teaching. “What will you say on the day of
 reckoning to the holy Father Augustine [the reputed founder of the
 Augustinians] and the other founders of Orders? They come accompanied
 by a countless multitude of the faithful of both sexes who have
 faithfully followed in the footsteps of Christ, and in the way of the
 evangelical counsels. But you, you have led astray and to destruction
 so many of their followers. All these will raise their voices against
 you on the dreadful Day of Judgment.”[369]

The Leipzig University professor, in his indignation, refers Luther to
the warning he himself (in his sermons on the Ten Commandments) had
given against manners of talking and acting which tempt to impurity;
he continues: “And now you set aside every feeling of shame, you speak
and write of questionable subjects in such a disgraceful fashion that
decent men, whether married or unmarried, cover their faces and fling
away your writings with execration. In order to cast dishonour upon the
brides of Christ you [in your writings], so to speak, lead unchaste men
to their couches, using words which for very shame I cannot repeat.”

He also answers his opponent’s constant objection that without
marriage, on account of the impulse of nature, people must needs be
ever falling into sin. “You forget two things, viz. that grace is
stronger than nature and that, as Augustine rightly teaches, no one
sins without free consent. You exaggerate that impulse and speak of
‘sin’ merely to exonerate your own behaviour and your doctrine. In
other matters you declare that everything is possible to him who
believes. You, like all other Catholics, were formerly convinced
that involuntary movements of the flesh are not sinful unless a man
consents to them; they are to the good a cross rather than a fault, and
frequently only come from the devil and are not imputed to them at

 This protest from Leipzig was reinforced in 1523 from Ingolstadt by
 Dr. Johann Eck, who kept a keen eye on Luther and pursued him with a
 sharp pen. In the following description of Luther his bitter opponent
 complains not only of the frivolous behaviour of the apostate monk
 in his former monastery which the Elector had made over to him, but
 above all of the untruth and dishonesty displayed in his writings.
 “More than once have I proved,” he says, “that he is a liar and hence
 that he has for his father, him [the devil] of whom the Scripture
 says that he is a liar and a murderer.” “The fellow exudes lies from
 every pore and is inconstancy itself (_homo totus mendaciis scatens
 nil constat_). His teaching too is full of deception and calumny.
 What he has just advanced, he presently rejects without the least
 difficulty.” “The dregs of those vices of which he is always accusing
 the Christians, we rightly pour back upon his own head; let him drink
 himself of the cup he has mixed.” “He heaps up a mountain of evil on
 the Pope and the Church,” but with “his nun,”--this is what he adds
 in a later edition in his indignation with Luther’s marriage--“he is
 really worshipping Asmodeus”; and this he is not ashamed to do in the
 old monastery of the Augustinians, “where once pious monks served the
 Lord God, and pious foundations, now alienated from their original
 purpose, proclaimed the Christian virtues to the faithful.”[371]

It is no pleasant task to examine Luther’s sermons and writings of
those years, and to represent to ourselves the turmoil of his mind at
the time directly preceding his marriage.

In 1524 he repeatedly discourses to his Wittenberg hearers on his
favourite theme, i.e. that man cannot control himself in sexual
matters, save by a miracle and with the help of an “exceedingly rare
grace.” Speaking of impotence, he says, that although he himself “by
the grace of God does not desire a wife,” yet he would not like, as a
married man, to go through the experience of those who are impotent.
If nature was not to be satisfied, “then death were preferable.” “I
have no need of a wife,” he says, “but must provide a relief for your
need.”[372] This was perhaps his reply to those who said: “Oh, how the
monk feels the weight of his frock, how glad he would be to have a
wife!”[373] “Hitherto,” he says, “the married state has been condemned
and styled a sensual state.... Alas, would that all men were therein
... in support of it we have the Word of God.... Those who have the
grace to be chaste are few, and among a thousand there is scarcely one
to be found.”[374]

“I have frequently tried to be good,” he says to his hearers in 1524,
“but the more I try the less I succeed. See from this what free-will
amounts to.” And then, in excuse, he unfolds his theology. “Sin urges
so greatly that we long for death. If to-day I avoid one sin, to-morrow
comes another. We are obliged to fight without ceasing: the Kingdom
of Christ admits all, provided only they fight and hold fast to the
Head of the Kingdom, namely, [believe] that Christ is the Redeemer.
But if we exalt works, then all is lost!... If we desire to attain to
purity, this must not be done by works, but Christ must be born in us
anew [by faith].... Sin cannot harm (‘_mordere_’) us; the power of sin
is at an end. We hold fast to Him who has conquered sin.” “‘_Summa,
summarum_,’ works or no works, all is comprised under faith and true
doctrine.... But do not let us sleep meanwhile and lull ourselves into

In 1523 Luther wrote on “the Devil’s chastity,” as he called it, an
exposition of the 7th chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians,
which the Papists used, so he says, as a “fig-leaf” for celibacy and
the monastic state. In it he deals with the inspiring, spiritual
teaching of the Apostle of the Gentiles in the chapter which commences
with the words: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”[376]

This publication, which has been extolled as “the happy inauguration
of a healthy love of the things of sense,”[377] was preceded in 1522
by his sermon “On conjugal life.” We must here call to mind a similar
earlier publication of 1519. When, on the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, he
preached a “sermon on the conjugal state,” this was at once printed
by some stranger from notes made. Many who read it were filled with
astonishment at the unheard-of freedom of speech displayed. Very soon
Luther’s friend, Christoph Scheurl, expressed his disapproval of the
tone: “I have read many of Martin’s writings which appeal to his best
friends more than his sermon on Matrimony, because they are pure,
humble, modest, measured and earnest, as beseems a theologian.”[378]
After this letter Luther declared that the sermon had been printed
without his knowledge, and with many stupid mistakes, so that he was
“ashamed” of it,[379] and that same year (1519) he had it reprinted in
an amended form.[380] It has been proved, however, that another sermon,
which had been taken down and printed at the same time as the first
sermon on Matrimony, was reported quite correctly;[381] hence the first
printed edition of the sermon on Matrimony was probably not as inexact
as Luther afterwards pretended.

 When we come to examine the teaching contained in the sermon “On
 conjugal life” of the year 1522, we find, regarding the marriage tie,
 notwithstanding the protestation that marriage was to be considered
 sacred and indissoluble, such sentences as the following: “If the wife
 is stubborn and refuses to fulfil her duty as a wife,” “it is time for
 the husband to say: If you refuse, another will comply; if the wife
 will not, then let the maid come.” She is however to be reprimanded
 first “before the Church,” and only then is the above counsel to be
 put in force: “If she refuses, dismiss her, seek an Esther and let
 Vasthi go.... The secular power must here either coerce the woman or
 make away with her. Where this is not done, the husband must act as
 though his wife had been carried off by brigands, or killed, and look
 out for another.” In short, the marriage is dissolved, and the husband
 is at liberty to marry the maid.[382] We must not, however, overlook
 the fact that in other passages of the same sermon Luther gives some
 quite excellent advice, whether against evil desires, or for the
 exercise of patience in matrimony.

 As one on whom the highest authority has been unconditionally
 conferred, he declares in the same sermon that he “rejects and
 condemns” almost all the matrimonial impediments or prohibitions
 invented by the Pope.[383] Virginity he refuses to reject absolutely,
 but nevertheless he declares: “It is true that he who does not marry
 must lead an immoral life, for how can it be otherwise?” “without a
 special grace” it is utterly impossible.[384]

 According to his ideas, the duties incident to matrimony cannot
 be complied with without sin. “No conjugal duty can be performed
 without sin,” he teaches in conclusion,[385] “though God by His mercy
 overlooks it”--a statement which certainly does not show any great
 esteem for matrimony, although Luther is under the impression that he
 is raising the union of man and wife to a higher plane. The Church
 had never taught that the use of matrimony, which she looked upon as
 based on the order of nature, involved any sin. Some few theologians
 had, it is true, spoken of venial sin as unavoidable here, but these
 were opposed by others, and, besides, the views of these theologians
 concerning sinfulness differed widely from those of Luther. Luther’s
 erroneous notion that every feeling of concupiscence was sinful,
 indeed mortally sinful, caused him to see grievous sin even here.

 In view of his severity in this matter, the freedom of speech which he
 retains even in the revised edition (1519), and his coarse treatment
 of the sexual subject is all the more surprising. His tendency
 to throw off the fetters of decency is at times quite needlessly
 offensive. Cochlæus remarks of this work: “Luther here speaks in the
 most filthy way of the intercourse between husband and wife, contrary
 to the laws of natural modesty.”[386]

Others, and Cochlæus himself in his previous indecent writings, bear
witness to the excess of coarseness of this sort which, partly as
a consequence of Italian Humanism, had found its way into German
literature at that time. Few, however, went so far as Luther. Several
of his contemporaries told him so openly, though they were themselves
accustomed to strong expressions. It is notorious that the sixteenth
century was accustomed to speak more bluntly and openly than is at
present usual. Yet in judging Luther’s case a circumstance which
is often overlooked should also be borne in mind, namely, that the
standard by which he is to be tried is not that of profane authors
and literary men of Humanistic leanings, but that of professedly
religious writers. Luther not only professed to be a religious writer,
but also gave himself out as the introducer of a great reform in
faith and morals. From this standpoint the impropriety of his speech
must assuredly be more severely judged. He employs by preference
such language in his bitter and violent polemics, seeking to make an
impression upon the lower classes by a naturalism not far removed from
filthy talking. The vulgar figures of speech of which he makes use are
all saturated with hate and rendered still more distasteful by the
unclean aspersions he is ever casting on his adversaries; from his
manner of writing we can gather the satisfaction he derives from seeing
the defenders of virginity, the religious and clergy, thus overwhelmed
with filth.

Certain preachers of the late Middle Ages, religious and others, for
instance, Geiler von Kaysersberg, when dealing with sexual matters
sometimes went very far in their plain speaking on the subject, yet
their words were, without exception, characterised by gravity and
the desire of saving souls. Their tone excludes any levity; indeed,
the honesty and simplicity of these productions of the Middle Ages
impress the reader at every turn; he may perhaps be inclined to extol
the greater delicacy of feeling which obtains at the present day, but
he will refrain from blaming the less covert style of days gone by.
Luther’s “cynical” language, however, impresses one as an attempt
to pit nature, with all its brutality, with its rights and demands,
against the more exalted moral aims of earlier ages; the trend of such
language, as contemporary Catholics urged, was downwards rather than

One tract of Luther’s, which dates from about that time, that “Against
the Clerical State falsely so called of Pope and Bishops,” contains a
chapter “Concerning Vows,”[387] in which the descriptions are so coarse
and the language so nasty that Staupitz might well have considered even
his censure of certain earlier writings of Luther’s not sufficiently
strong: “Your works are praised,” he had told him, “by those who keep
houses of ill-fame,”[388] etc. Several particularly violent polemical
tracts of those years, meant by Luther for his theological adversaries
generally, are so brimful of words descriptive of the vilest parts and
functions of the human body, that it would be impossible to match them
in the writings of previous ages. His manner of speech was considered
by his foes to have reached the lowest depths of thought and feeling.
The vulgarity of his language was held to display the utter depravity
of his mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

In polemics Luther was not merely the “greatest, but also the coarsest
writer of his century”; such is the opinion recently expressed by a
Protestant historian.[389]

In the work dating from 1522, “Bulla Coenæ Domini, i.e. the Bull
concerning the Evening feed of our most holy Lord, the Pope,”[390] he
replies, with startling fluency, to the menaces of this Papal Bull
against all heretics, including himself. Therein he describes the life
and manners of the Roman “prostitutes” with the express intention of
degrading all that Catholics considered most worthy of respect and
veneration. The Pope and his followers he represents as indulging in
every kind of sensuality, “rape, seduction and fornication” to their
heart’s content.

Still more degrading are the opprobrious and insulting figures of
which he makes use in 1522 in his furious reply “Against King Henry
of England,” who had attacked and pilloried his teaching.[391] In
his tract it is his aim not only to “lay bare the shame of the Roman
prostitute before the whole world, to her eternal disgrace,” but also,
as he says further down, to reveal the “shameless audacity” of the
King of England, who is a defender of “the scarlet woman of Rome, the
tipsy mother of unchastity”; the King, “that fool,” “lies and gibbers
like the filthiest of prostitutes,” and that, merely to defend the
Pope and his Church, “who are after all nothing more than pimp and
procuress, and the devil’s own dwelling.” All this abuse is crammed
into a few pages. To conclude, the King, according to Luther’s dictum
and description, has been fitly consigned to “the dungheap with the
Thomists, Papists and other such-like excrements.” Side by side with
all this we find his grand assurances of his, Luther’s, position as the
messenger of God. “Christ through me has begun His revelations of the
abomination in the Holy Place”;[392] “I am convinced that my doctrines
have come down to me from Heaven,”[393] etc. The King he politely
describes as a crowned donkey, an infamous knave, an impudent royal
windbag, the excrement of hogs and asses. The King, according to him,
is more foolish than a fool; His Majesty ought to be pelted with mud;
he deserves nothing better, this stupid donkey, this Thomistic hog,
this lying rascal and carnival clown, who sports the title of king. He
is a nit which has not yet turned into a louse, a brat whose father
was a bug, a donkey who wants to read the Psalter but is only fit for
carrying sacks, a sacrilegious murderer. He is a chosen tool of the
devil, a papistical sea-serpent, a blockhead and as bad as the worst
rogues whom indeed he outrivals; an abortion of a fool, a limb of Satan
whose God is the devil--and so forth.

One of the unfortunate effects of his public struggle on Luther was,
that he entangled himself more and more in a kind of polemics in
which his invective was only rivalled by his misrepresentation of his
opponents’ standpoint and arguments.

 Preachers of the new faith frequently complained of his insulting and
 unjust behaviour.

 Thus Ambrose Blaurer, the spokesman of the innovation in Würtemberg,
 laments, in 1523, that Luther’s enemies quite rightly made capital
 out of the hateful language employed in his controversial writings.
 “They wish to make this honey [Luther’s teaching] bitter to us because
 Luther is so sharp, pugnacious and caustic, ... because he scolds and
 rants.... Verily this has often displeased me in him, and I should
 not advise anyone to copy him in this respect. Nevertheless I have
 not rejected his good, Christian teaching.”[394] Matthew Zell, also a
 Lutheran, wrote in 1523: “Nothing has turned me more against Luther
 and pleased me less in him, and the same is true of other good men,
 than the hard, aggressive and bitter vindications and writings which
 he has composed against even his own friends, not to speak of the
 Pope, the bishops and others whom he has attacked so violently and so
 derisively that hardly has anything sharper, more violent and mocking
 ever been read.”[395]

 Carlstadt, Luther’s friend, and later theological opponent, underwent
 such rough treatment at his hands, that a modern Protestant writer
 on Carlstadt says of the chief work Luther directed against him: Its
 characteristic feature is the wealth of personal invective.... Though
 attempts have been made to explain the terrible bitterness of his
 polemics by Luther’s disposition and the difficulty of his situation
 at the time the work was composed, yet the deep impression left by his
 controversial methods should not be overlooked. From that time forward
 they were generally imitated by the Lutheran party, even in disputes
 among themselves, and made to serve in lieu of true discussion; that
 such a procedure was entirely alien to Christian charity seems not
 to have been noticed. The author also refers and, with even greater
 reason, to the attacks against the “Papists,” “to the constantly
 recurring flood of abusive language, insults, misrepresentations and
 suspicions which the reformer poured upon his foes.” He made use of
 “his extraordinary command of language,” to accuse Zwingli, after his
 death, most maliciously of heresy.[396]

 Amongst other opponents of the new faith, Erasmus, in a writing
 addressed to Luther, says: “Scarcely one of your books have I been
 able to read to the end, so great and insatiable is the tendency to
 libel which they display (‘_insatiata conviciandi libido_’). If there
 were only two or three libels one might think you had given vent to
 them without due consideration, but as it is, your book swarms with
 abuse on every page (‘_scatet undique maledictis_’). You begin with
 it, go on with it, and end with it.”[397] Thomas Murner says, in a
 reply to Luther, as early as 1520, “I see and understand that you are
 angry. Therefore it will be best for me to keep cool in order that it
 may not be said that we both are mad. You really go too far.”[398]

 It is true that Murner is very severe and satirical towards Luther;
 in fact, all Luther’s opponents who wrote against him frequently made
 use of stronger expressions than became the cause they advocated,
 being incited and encouraged in this by the language he employed.
 The Dominican, Conrad Köllin, in his answer to Luther’s attacks on
 the indissolubility of Christian marriage, is a good instance in
 point.[399] The Dominicans of Cologne were particularly irritated by
 Luther’s insults, for at the very outset of the struggle he had called
 them asses, dogs and hogs.[400]

 That Luther’s scolding and storming grew worse and worse as the years
 went on has been pointed out by the Protestant historian Gustav
 Krüger, who remarks that Melanchthon could never “see eye to eye with
 him in this”; Luther, however, did not “by any means always reflect
 upon what he said, and he must not be held responsible for all he
 flung among the people by word and pen.”[401]

 Luther’s friend, Martin Bucer, strove to console himself in a peculiar
 fashion for the insults and libels which increased as Luther grew
 older. To the above-mentioned Ambrose Blaurer he wrote concerning
 Luther’s attacks on the Zwinglians: “These are terrible invectives
 and even calumnies, but if you take into account Luther’s character,
 the evil is diminished. He is by nature violent and accustomed to
 vituperation, and the abuse of such men (‘_conviciari assuetorum
 convicia_’) is not to be made so much of as that of persons of a more
 peaceable temper.” Two years later, however, Bucer confesses to the
 same friend his real concern regarding Luther’s outbreaks of passion:
 “It thrills me with a deadly fear (‘_tantum non exanimor_’) when I
 think of the fury that boils in the man whenever he is dealing with an
 opponent. With what utter rage did he not fall on the [Catholic] Duke

 In recent times Protestants have spoken with a certain admiration
 of the “heroic, yea, godlike,” rage which always inspired Luther’s
 vituperation. One admirer emphasises the fact, that he “was only too
 often right,” because his Popish opponents were altogether hardened,
 and “therefore it could do their souls no harm to make use of sharp
 weapons against them”; “it was necessary to warn people against
 these obdurate enemies and to unveil their wickedness with that
 entire openness and plainness of speech which alone could impress his
 contemporaries. He considered this his sacred duty and performed it
 with diligence.” “When he laid about him so mightily, so scornfully,
 so mercilessly, his efforts were all directed against the devil.”
 “Where it is necessary for the salvation of souls,” this theologian
 urges in excuse, “true charity must not refrain from dealing severe
 wounds, and Luther was obliged to describe as filth what actually
 was such.” “Thus we see why he not unfrequently chooses dirty, common
 words and comparisons intentionally in order adequately to express
 his horror. His eloquence becomes at times a stream carrying with
 it a quantity of mud, dirt and filth of every kind; but had it not
 been for it this filth would never have been swept away.”[403] All
 this is expressed, even more briefly and drastically, by the Luther
 biographer, Adolf Hausrath, where, in reply to Harnack’s criticism
 of the “barbarity of Luther’s polemics,” he says: “Since Luther’s
 road led him to his goal it must have been the right road, and
 fault-finders should hold their tongues.... He knew the best language
 to make use of in order to shake his Germans out of their stupid
 respect for the Roman Antichrist.” ... Luther, the “prophet,” treated
 his foes “exactly as they deserved,” save in the case of Zwingli.[404]

 This was too much for Gustav Kawerau, another historian of Luther.
 He pointed out, as against Hausrath, that, not to mention others,
 Duke George and also Schwenckfeld had experienced such treatment at
 Luther’s hands as was certainly not “deserved.” If Hausrath “thanked
 God” for the barbarity of Luther’s prophetical polemics, he, for his
 part, felt compelled to “protest against the proclamation of any
 prophetical morality which would oblige us to set aside our own moral
 standard.” “This is to do Luther and his cause, a bad service,” says
 Kawerau.... “We are not going to venerate in Luther what was merely
 earthly.”[405] Whether the “earthliness” of his libels and filthy
 polemics clung only to Luther’s feet, or whether it involved his
 character and whole work, Kawerau does not say.

We may fairly ask whether on the whole the character of the man has
been more correctly gauged by those who look upon his favourite kind
of controversy as nothing more than the disfiguring dirt under his
feet, or by those others who trace it back to the very nature of
his titanic struggle with the Church. Bucer, as we just saw, traced
Luther’s outbursts to the violence of his temper, and Luther himself
frequently declares that he wrote “so severely, intentionally and
with well-considered courage.”[406] This he looks upon as demanded by
his position and, therefore, it is, as he thinks, “well done.”[407]
According to Wilhelm Walther, Luther had chosen the “heroic method of
development,” i.e. “of isolating himself as it were from the whole
world”; his standpoint was not “within the grasp” of the world of his
opponents.[408] Thus, unless he wished to forsake his cause, he had
to carry it through single-handed, straining every nerve and having
recourse to vituperation the like of which had never hitherto been

We shall examine elsewhere the psychological questions involved in this
sort of polemics (vol. iv., xxvi. 3). The above will suffice concerning
the influence exercised on his literary activity by the public position
which Luther had assumed.

4. Further Traits towards a Picture of Luther. Outward Appearance.
Sufferings, Bodily and Mental

A change had gradually taken place in Luther’s outward appearance even
previous to his stay at the Wartburg. By the time he had returned to
Wittenberg his former leanness had gone and he was inclined to be stout.

Johann Kessler, a Swiss pupil who saw him often in 1522 and who
frequently played the lute to cheer him, writes in his “Sabbata”: “When
I knew Martin at the age of forty-one in 1522 he was by nature somewhat
portly, of an upright gait, inclined rather backward than forward, and
always carried his face heavenward.”[409]

Albert Burer, who was also studying at Wittenberg after Luther’s return
from the Wartburg, praises his amiability, his pleasant, melodious
voice, and his winning manner of speech.[410] Thomas Blaurer, then his
enthusiastic disciple, is also full of praise of his kindly, attractive
and sympathetic manner towards those who came under his influence and
to whom he ever behaved in a simple and natural fashion.[411] Neither
of them, however, describes his facial appearance.

From the likenesses of him to be referred to below it appears that
his face usually wore an expression of energy and defiance. His chin
and mouth protruded slightly and gave an impression of firmness; a
slight frown denoted irritability; over his right eye there was a
large wart; a lock of curly hair overhung his forehead. His “dark eyes
blinked and twinkled like stars so that it was difficult to look at
them fixedly.”[412] (J. Kessler.) As remarked above, his deportment was
upright and almost defiant.

Of what Luther must have been, judging by his descriptions, not one
of the portraits which have come down to us gives any good idea.[413]
This sounds strange, as the art of portrait painting was already
very highly developed in Luther’s day, whilst his likenesses were in
great demand and were despatched from Wittenberg to every quarter in
order to increase his popularity. Dürer and Holbein, who have left us
characteristic and faithful likenesses of Melanchthon, never employed
their brush or pencil in depicting Luther. The death-mask which we
still have was not taken till four days after Luther’s death from a
stroke, i.e. after decomposition had already made some progress, while
the portrait of the dead man painted in haste by Lucas Fortenagel is
almost terrifying and betrays a very unpractised hand.[414]

Lucas Cranach the elder, as is well known, sketched or painted several
likenesses of Luther, and as the two were very intimate with each
other we might have anticipated something reliable. He was, however,
not sufficiently true to life; he suppressed what he considered to
be defects in his sitter, and, in spite of his artistic talent, he
did not possess the special qualifications for faithfully reproducing
in a portrait the expression of the soul. In his pictures of Luther
we are at a loss to find certain traits mentioned in the accounts we
possess; the artist introduces into the face an expression of mildness
and tenderness which was foreign to Luther. Neither is it a fact that
we have hundreds of pictures from his studio, as is so often stated,
for of all the portraits and engravings ascribed to Cranach only five
can be considered as absolutely genuine, the copper plates of 1520 and
1521,[415] then the “Squire George” of the Wartburg in the Leipzig
Town Library, and two portraits in the Kaufmann Gallery in Berlin. “If
we examine the absolutely genuine ‘Cranachs’ we at once notice that
they have nothing in common with the typical Luther features [of a
later day].” From these original likenesses down to the pictures of
Luther which circulate to-day there are many steps. The transformation
was carried further and further, though the “broad, peasant face” and
the “powerful jaw” were destined to remain. Nearly all these pictures
represent an elderly man, inclined to corpulence, with somewhat blurred
features, with surprisingly abundant curly hair and small, kindly eyes.

This, the typical Luther of to-day, appears perhaps for the first time
in the so-called “_Epitaphium Lutheri_,” a woodcut which was made after
Luther’s death by the elder Cranach’s son, Lucas Cranach the younger.
The type in question became very generally known owing to the picture
of Luther painted nine years after his death by the younger Cranach
for an altar-piece in the parish church at Weimar, although in this
likeness, which has been so frequently copied, there may still be found
some traces of the bold, warrior features of the real Luther. Böhmer,
the Protestant historian, remarks: “In the most popular of these modern
‘ideal pictures,’ viz. the oleograph of Luther in the fur cappa which
‘adorns’ so many churches, even the Doctor’s own Catherine would be
unable to recognise her Martin.”

The pictured Luther has become almost a fable among Protestants. This
may well make us suspicious of the pen-picture of him now spread
abroad by so many of his followers and admirers. Is it in the least
trustworthy? Here again it is the Protestant authority cited above who
complains: “The literary Luther-portraits, though strikingly similar,
are all more or less unlike the original. In the strict sense they are
not portraits at all, but presentments of a type.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The strain of such strenuous literary work, in the case of one whose
public life was so full of commotion as Luther’s, could not fail to tax
the most healthy nervous system. We can only wonder how he contrived to
cope with the excitement and incessant labour of the years from 1520 to
1525 and to continue tirelessly at the task till his life’s end.

Amongst his works in those years were various controversial writings
printed in 1523, for instance, that against Cochlæus; also tracts
such as those “On the Secular Power” and “On the Adoration of the
Sacrament”; also the Instructions on the Supper, on Baptism and on
the Liturgy, etc., and, besides these, voluminous circular-letters,
translations from, and extensive commentaries on, the Bible. There
was also a vast multitude of sermons and private letters. Among the
writings on widely differing subjects dealt with by Luther in 1524-25
the following may be specified: “On Christian Schools,” “Two Unequal
Commands of the Emperor,” “On Trade and Usury,” “On the Abomination of
silent Mass,” “Against the Heavenly Prophets,” “Against the Murderous
Peasants,” “On the Unfreedom of the Will.” His publications in the
three years 1523-25 number no less than seventy-nine. His attacks on
the vow of chastity, and on celibacy, constitute a striking feature of
many of his then writings. Obstinacy in the pursuit of one idea, which
characterises the German, degenerates in Luther’s case into a sort of
monomania, which would have made his writings unreadable, or at least
tedious, had not the author’s literary gifts and unfortunately the
prurient character of the subject-matter appealed to many. The haste in
which all this was produced has left its mark everywhere.[416]

In those years Luther’s nerves frequently avenged themselves by
headaches and attacks of giddiness for the unlimited demands made upon
them. Irregular meals and the want of proper attention to the body in
the desolate “black monastery” of Wittenberg also contributed their
quota. Among the bodily disorders which often troubled him we find him
complaining of a disagreeable singing in the ears; then it was that he
began to suffer from calculus, a malady which caused him great pains in
later years and of which we first hear in 1526. We reserve, however,
our treatment of Luther’s various ailments till we come to describe the
close of his life. (See vol. v., xxxv. 1.)

We cannot, however, avoid dealing here with a matter connected with
his pathology, which has frequently been discussed in recent times.
The delicate question of his having suffered from syphilis was first
broached by the Protestant physician, Friedrich Küchenmeister, in 1881,
and another Protestant, the theologian and historian Theodore Kolde,
has brought it into more prominent notice by the production of a new
document, which in 1904 was unfortunately submitted to noisy discussion
by polemical writers and apologists in the public press.

 Küchenmeister wrote: “As a student Luther was on the whole healthy.
 From syphilis, the scourge of the students and knights at that time
 (we have only to think of Ulrich von Hutten), he never suffered, ‘I
 preserved,’ he says, ‘my chastity.’”[417]

 The inference is, however, not conclusive, since syphilis is now
 looked upon as an illness which can be contracted not merely by sexual
 intercourse, but also in other ways. There was therefore no real
 reason to introduce the question of chastity, which the physician here

 As regards, however, the question of infection, every unbiassed
 historian will make full allowance for the state of that age.
 Owing to the great corruption of morals which prevailed, syphilis,
 or the “French sickness, _malum Franciæ_,” as it was called, raged
 everywhere, but especially in France and Italy. The danger of
 infection was, as Luther himself points out, extremely great, so that,
 as he says, even “boys in the cradle are plagued with this disease.”
 So prevalent was this formerly unknown malady that “friends wished it
 to each other in jest.”[418] He sees in the spread of the “_scabies
 gallica_” a manifest Divine judgment for the growing lack of the fear
 of God, and looks upon it as a sign of the approaching end of the
 world.[419] In his “Chronicle” he says that, in 1490, a new illness,
 the French sickness, made its appearance, “one of the great signs of
 the coming of the Last Day.”[420]

The new material furnished by Theodore Kolde in his “_Analecta
Lutherana_” consists of a medical letter of Wolfgang Rychardus to
Johann Magenbuch dated June 11, 1523, taken from the Hamburg Town
Library, and is of a character to make one wonder whether Luther did
not at one period suffer from syphilis, at any rate in a mild form.[421]

 The circumstances of the letter are as follows: Luther was recovering
 from a serious attack of illness which he himself believed to be due
 to a bath.[422] We learn from Melanchthon that this indisposition was
 accompanied by high fever.[423] On May 24, however, the patient was
 able to report that he was better, but that he “was over-burdened with
 distracting labours.”[424] At that time a certain Apriolus, a renegade
 Franciscan and zealous disciple of Luther’s (his real name was Johann
 Eberlin), was staying with Luther at Wittenberg. He forwarded detailed
 accounts of Luther’s illness to a physician with whom he was intimate,
 Wolfgang Rychardus, at Ulm. Rychardus was also a great admirer of
 the Wittenberg professor and at the same time, as it would appear, a
 devoted friend of Melanchthon’s. In consequence of Apriolus’s reports
 he wrote the medical letter now in question to another physician
 then studying at Wittenberg, Johann Magenbuch of Blaubeuren, who also
 was intimate with the Wittenberg Reformers, had helped Melanchthon in
 his Greek lexicon with regard to the medical side, and was then in
 attendance on Luther. It was Magenbuch who had first brought Rychardus
 into touch with Luther, and both had already exchanged letters
 concerning him.[425] Rychardus remained Luther’s friend at a later

 Rychardus wrote to the physician attending Luther, that he had heard
 of the illness of the new “Elias” (Luther), but now rejoices to learn
 he is convalescent. It was evident that God was preserving him. In the
 meantime, out of pity [in a letter not extant], Apriolus had given him
 various particulars concerning Luther’s illness and his sleeplessness.
 He points out that it was not sufficient that Luther should only
 enjoy some sleep every second night, though, of course, his mental
 exertion explained his sleeplessness, hence, as a careful physician,
 he recommends his friend Magenbuch to give the patient a certain
 sleeping-draught, which he also describes, and with which Magenbuch
 (“_qui medicum agis_”) must already be acquainted. “But if,” he says,
 “the pains of the French sickness disturb his sleep,” these must be
 alleviated by means of a certain plaster, the mysterious components
 of which, comprising wine, quicksilver (“_vinum sublimatum_”), and
 other ingredients he fully describes; this would induce sleep which
 was absolutely essential for the restoration of health. “For God’s
 sake take good care of Luther,” he concludes, and adds greetings to
 Apriolus his informant.[427]

 Divergent interpretations have naturally been placed upon this
 letter by Luther’s friends and enemies. It might have sufficed to
 detail the circumstances and the contents of the letter, did not the
 somewhat violent objections raised against the view, that, owing
 to the information given him by Apriolus, Rychardus took Luther to
 be suffering from the French sickness, render some further remarks

 It has been said that Luther was not ill at all at the time Rychardus
 wrote, but had recovered his health long before. It is true that in
 June, 1523, his life was no longer in danger, since Rychardus had
 heard from Giengerius, who came from the fair at Leipzig, that Elias
 had recovered (“_convaluisse Heliam_”); but then his friend Apriolus
 forwarded the above disquieting accounts (“_multa de valetudine
 adscripsit_”) which led Rychardus to write his letter, which in turn
 is an echo of his informant’s letter. The circumstance that Luther
 was on the whole much better is therefore, as a matter of fact, of no
 importance. It has also been said that “Rychardus can be understood as
 speaking in general terms without any reference to Luther.” According
 to this view of the matter the physician’s meaning would amount to
 this: “Luther must be made to sleep by means of the remedy well known
 to you [and which he describes], but if along with it (‘_cum hoc_’)
 the pains of the French sickness should disturb anyone’s sleep, they
 must be allayed by a plaster,” etc. It is surely all too evident that
 such an explanation is untenable.

 Again, the word “if” has been emphasised; Rychardus does not say that
 Luther has syphilis, but that _if_ he has it. But, as a matter of
 fact, he does not write “if he be suffering from it,” but, “_if this
 malady disturbs his sleep_”; taken in connection with the account
 of the illness, supplied by Apriolus, the most natural (we do not,
 however, say necessary) interpretation to be placed on his words is
 that he was aware the patient was suffering from this malady, perhaps
 only slightly, yet sufficiently to endanger his sleep. “But if, when
 use is made of the sleeping-draught indicated, syphilis should prevent
 his sleeping,” is surely a proviso which no physician would make in
 the case of a patient in whom syphilitic symptoms were not actually
 present; Rychardus would never have spoken of the “new Elias” in this
 way unless he had reason to believe in the existence of the malady. It
 would have been far-fetched to introduce the subject of so disgusting
 a complaint, and much more natural to speak of other commoner causes
 which might disturb sleep.

 It must, however, be allowed, that, both before and after this
 letter was written, no trace of such an illness occurs in any of
 the documents concerning Luther. The “_molestiæ_” twice mentioned
 previously, which by some have been taken to refer to this malady,
 have, as a matter of fact, an altogether different meaning, which is
 clear from the context.[428]

In addition to his bodily ailments, the result more particularly of
extreme nervous agitation, the indefatigable worker was over and again
tormented with severe attacks of depression and sadness.

They were in part due to the sad experiences with his followers and to
the estrangement--now becoming more and more pronounced--of his party
from the fanatical Anabaptists; in part also to the alarming reports of
the seditious risings of the peasants; also to his deception concerning
the Papacy, which, far from falling to pieces “at the breath of the
true Gospel,” had asserted its authority and even strengthened it by
reforms such as those commenced under Hadrian VI. It was, however,
principally his “interior struggles,” and the pressing reproaches of
his conscience concerning his work as a whole, which rendered him a
prey to melancholy. This mental agony never ceased; the inward voice
he had heard in the Wartburg, and which had pierced his very soul with
the keenness of a sword, continued to oppress him: “Are you alone wise?
Supposing that all those who follow you are merely dupes.”[429]

If he sought for distraction in cheerful conversation, this was merely
to react against such gloomy thoughts. The more and more worldly life
he began to lead may also be regarded as due in some measure to the
effort on his part to escape these moods. We may also find in them the
psychological explanation of the excesses he commits in his attacks
upon the Church, his very violence serving to relieve his feelings and
to reassure him. His customary defiance enables him to surmount all
obstacles: the external anxieties caused by his adversaries and the
interior temptations which he ascribes to the devil. “I have triumphed
over him [the devil],” he exclaims confidently, “who has more power and
cunning in his smallest claw than all the popes, kings and doctors....
My doctrine shall prevail and the Pope fall, in defiance of the gates
of hell and all the powers of the air, the earth and the sea.”[430]

We feel it our duty to complete this remarkable picture of passion,
defiance and struggle by some few additional traits taken from Luther’s
writings at that time.

 On the question of the vow of chastity and priestly celibacy a rude
 though perfectly justified answer was supplied him by many writers
 on the Catholic side, yet he ignored them all, and on the contrary
 proceeded on his way with even greater fury and passion. He proclaims
 a sacred command to marry, a command not one whit less binding than
 the Decalogue. Here, as in the case of other questions of morals
 and dogma, he is carried forward by passion, rather than by a calm
 recognition of the truth. He exclaims somewhat later: “Just as it is
 a matter of stern necessity and strict command when God says: ‘Thou
 shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ so there is also
 stern necessity and strict command, nay a still greater necessity and
 yet more stringent command: ‘Thou shalt marry, Thou shalt have a wife,
 Thou shalt have a husband.’ For there stands God’s Word (Gen. i. 27),
 ‘God created man ... male and female he created them’! The consciences
 of the unmarried must be importuned, urged and tormented until they
 comply, and are made at length to say: ‘Well, if it must be so, then
 let it so be.’”[431]

 When it was pointed out to him, that in the New Testament celibacy
 embraced from love of God was presented as one of the evangelical
 counsels, he straightway denied both the existence and the authority
 of the evangelical counsels. And when his opponents replied that
 Christ frequently counselled acts of great virtue without making of
 them strict commands, but mere counsels of perfection, for instance
 with the words: “If one smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him
 the other also,” Luther will have it that Christ, even here, gave the
 strict command to allow ourselves to be smitten also on the left cheek.

 In his attack on the Mass, in his excitement, he went so far as to
 state: No sin of immorality, nay not even “manslaughter, theft, murder
 and adultery is so harmful as this abomination of the Popish Mass.” He
 adjured the authorities to take steps against the blinded parsons “who
 run to the altar like hogs to the trough,” “the shame of the scarlet
 woman of Babylon” must be laid bare in order that the “dreadful
 anger of God may not be poured forth like a glowing furnace upon the
 negligence” of those who fail to use the “sword entrusted to them
 by God.” These were his words to the people in a sermon of the year

 How deeply his experiences with the fanatics excited and enraged him
 is apparent, for instance, from this statement concerning Carlstadt:
 “He is no longer able to go back, there is no hope for this orator,
 inflated and hardened as he is by the applause of the crowd”
 (“_plausu vulgi inflatus et induratus_”).[433] Carlstadt and his
 followers, according to him, “are always on the look-out for a chance
 of incriminating the evangel.”[434] Luther in these struggles felt
 bitterly that he himself, the originator of the great movement, had
 already become to many a byword and a jest, “a target for malice, for
 deceit, for buffoonery--by reason of my simplicity.”[435]

 It is true he had a fellow-sufferer at his side, Melanchthon, who at
 that time “was brought to the brink of the grave”[436] by cares and
 want of sleep; yet none of his friends suffered as much as he, for the
 whole burden of care settled upon him. To-day he has to dispute with
 a “sly and cunning monk,” who ill-uses his wife because she desires a
 separation, and, then, when she actually leaves him, wishes to marry
 another; Luther flings the desired permission after him (“if others
 will allow him so to do, I am content”).[437] On the morrow he has to
 go to Wittenberg to take steps “against a new sort of prophets arrived
 from Antwerp,” who deny the Godhead of the Holy Ghost, which, they
 say, is not founded on the “Word,”[438] On the day following he is
 assailed with complaints regarding the encroachments of the Lutheran

 “How does Satan rage,” he cries in view of the above, “how he rages
 everywhere against the Word!”[439]

 When the news of the fanatics with their revelations concerning
 the “Word” arrived from Thuringia, and of the iconoclastic tumult
 at Rothenburg-on-the-Tauber, he again exclaims: “Thomas Münzer at
 Mühlhausen, not only teacher and preacher, but also king and emperor!”
 “Thus Satan rages against Christ now that he finds Him to be the

 It was formerly believed, he says at this time, that the world was
 full of noisy and turbulent ghosts and hobgoblins, and that they were
 the souls of the dead, a delusion which has been dispelled to-day by
 the evangel, “for we know now that they are not the souls of men but
 merely naughty devils.” “But now that the devil sees that all his
 noise and storming is no longer of any avail, he acts in a different
 manner and begins to rage and storm in his members, i.e. in the
 godless [and false teachers], hatching in them all sorts of wild and
 shady beliefs and doctrines.”[441]

 “Yea, verily this rage of Satan everywhere against the Word is not the
 least significant sign that the end of the world is approaching.” At
 that time, scarcely ten years after the discovery of the evangel, this
 opinion was already firmly fixed in his mind. “Satan seems to be aware
 of it, hence his extraordinary outburst of anger.”[442] A confirmation
 of the approach of Judgment Day was discerned by Luther in the
 circumstance that, as he thought, “the princes were falling” (the
 French king had been taken captive by Charles V), “that the Emperor
 would also fall in the end,” and that “more of the princes will fall
 if they permit the people to grow so audacious.” “These are greater
 signs that many believe.”[443] The conjunction of the planets is also
 not to be overlooked, although, he admitted, “I do not understand much
 about them; the bloody western sun would seem to indicate the king
 of France, another in the centre, the Emperor; Philip [Melanchthon]
 is also of this opinion; both together foretell the end of the

 He declares later that it “may occur any day,” and that actual signs
 of extraordinary magnitude will be seen “in the sun and moon,”
 although we have “already sufficient warning in the sun”; above all,
 according to him, “the sign among men” [who shall wither away for
 fear and expectation, Luke xxi. 26] has already been fulfilled: “I am
 entirely of opinion that we have already experienced it. The evil Pope
 with his preaching has done very much towards this, namely by greatly
 affrighting pious minds.... The forgiveness of sin through Christ had
 disappeared.” We were “frightened to death at Christ, the Judge.”
 “Owing to the preaching of the evangel I am of opinion that this sign
 is in great part passed, in the same way that I hold most of the other
 signs in the heavens to have also already taken place.”[445]

His scruples of conscience and the “inward struggles” referred to above
Luther accustomed himself more and more to regard as the voices of the
Evil One. He fancied it was the Good Spirit who taught him to despise
them. It was only the Papists who were deluded and led astray by
“Satan.” “There,” he writes in 1522, viz. among the Papists, “the true
masterpiece of Satan is discernible, for he transforms himself into an
angel of light. As in the beginning he wished to be equal to the Most
High, so now he does not cease to pursue the same aim by deceiving
the sons of unbelief with godly words and deeds. Thus does he make
the Pope his instrument.” “To what an abyss,” he exclaims, “is he not
capable of dragging down the Church by means of his sophists seated in
the professorial chairs.”[446] When the thought of the day of reckoning
or remorse of conscience for their infidelity to the Church awoke
either in himself or in his followers, this was to be silenced as the
voice of the wicked angel. Uxorious renegades from the religious Orders
and the priesthood, who were now assailed by doubts, he consoles by
means of his own moral dialectics, telling them they should go “forward
with a strong conscience in order to be able to withstand the devil at
the hour of death.” They were to “arm themselves with the Word of God”
against the devil; “you will stand in need of it, but rely upon this,
that it is the Word of God, Who cannot lie; read this [my own] little
book ‘On Vows’ carefully and strengthen yourself as best you can,” for
the “devil will work against you with your vow for all it is worth
and make out your marriage and freedom to be sinful.”[447] Here he is
establishing a new school for the formation of consciences.

How greatly the “inward struggles” pressed upon him in those years,
notwithstanding such teachings and his own practice, is plain from two
incidents of which we hear by chance.

 On one occasion, in a letter written in March, 1525, he invites his
 old friend, Amsdorf of Magdeburg, to come to Wittenberg that he
 may assist him “with comfort and friendly offices,” because, as he
 complains, he is “very sad and tempted.” The captain of the garrison,
 Hans von Metzsch, is also, so he reports, in a very troubled state of
 mind: he too looks for Amsdorf’s help, and will put a carriage at the
 disposal of the Magdeburg guest for the journey here and back.[448]
 As Luther later, in 1529, urged Metzsch, who till then had remained a
 bachelor, to marry forthwith and so save himself mental trouble,[449]
 it has been assumed by Protestants that Metzsch was tormented by
 temptations concerning marriage as early as 1525, and that, as Luther
 in his letter to Amsdorf places himself in the same category with
 him,[450] “it was plain of what nature Luther’s temptations were.” It
 is certainly

 above, p. 166, n. 1. possible that Luther meant by what he styles his
 “temptations,”[451] the struggles he had to sustain on account of the
 question of his marriage, which was pressing upon him more and more
 heavily. He elsewhere admits his fear lest he should lower himself
 and his cause in the eyes of many by his marriage, while on the other
 hand he feels himself impelled to matrimony by the impulse of nature.
 It was not merely concern for the good name of the evangel (“We are a
 spectacle to the world,” etc.)[452] which troubled him. There is no
 doubt that these “temptations,” if they really referred to matrimony,
 consisted in scruples of conscience which he had not yet mastered. We
 can readily understand that it was only gradually, and by means of
 strong representations from within and from his friends, that he was
 at length able to overcome the hesitation which had persisted from his
 Catholic days when his opinions had been so different.

 Another instance of the effect of his temptations on his temperament
 is related in the Notes of his physician Ratzeberger.[453] The
 details refer to 1525 or 1524.[454] Ratzeberger says that Luther “had
 privatim to endure great attacks of Sathana,” and had “frequently been
 disturbed by the demon in various ways when studying and writing in
 his little writing-room.” On one occasion Master Lucas Edemberger,
 George Rhau and some other good comrades, who were musicians, came to
 visit Luther, but on enquiry at his house, learnt that he had “for
 some time past” shut himself up and refused to see anyone, or to
 taste food or drink. Edemberger received no answer to his knock, and,
 looking through the keyhole, saw Luther lying on his face on the floor
 with outstretched arms in a faint. He forced open the door, raised
 him and brought him to a lower chamber where some food was given him.
 “Thereupon he and his comrades began to play; at this Dr. Luther came
 to himself slowly, and his melancholy and sadness vanished”. Becoming
 cheerful he begged his visitors to visit him often and cheer him
 with their music, “for he found, that as soon as he heard music his
 temptations and melancholy disappeared; hence the devil was a great
 enemy of music, which cheers a man, for he loves nothing better than
 to reduce him to gloom and sadness and make him faint-hearted and full
 of doubts.”

We have here a remarkable example of how his temptations affected
Luther bodily and were in turn influenced by his bodily state, a
subject which we shall reserve for future consideration (vol. vi.,
xxxvi. 1, 2). This mutual influence finds its expression in the relief
afforded him by music.

Ratzeberger adds other interesting particulars, showing the happy
effect of music on Luther’s mind when confused by anxieties and inward

 “As he found great relief from music in his temptations, sadness and
 fits of melancholy, he wrote to Ludwig Senftlin [Senfl], the Ducal
 Bavarian Band-master, and begged him to set to music the text ‘_In
 pace in idipsum dormiam et requiescam_,’ which he did”; it was also
 Luther’s custom to have some music after supper with his guests,
 “especially devotional music, taken from the Gregorian chants.”[455]

 It is a relief to dwell for a moment, at the conclusion of a rather
 disagreeable chapter, on the pleasing trait of Luther’s fondness for
 the melodies of the Church which he had known and loved from his
 youth, and for music generally. Formerly, the notes of the Church’s
 chants had summoned him to “raise a clean heart to God,” and now music
 assists him to assuage to some extent the storms which rage in his

 His letter to the highly esteemed composer Senfl, who was in the
 service of the Duke of Bavaria, is still extant.[456] It is dated
 October 4, 1530, and in it Luther asks for a copy of a motet on the
 text “_In pace_,” etc., arranged for several voices, should Senfl
 have such a thing, for since his boyish days the (Gregorian) melody
 to this text had pleased him, and did so still more when he learnt to
 understand the meaning of the words of the text. If Senfl had no such
 composition in his possession then he would beg him to compose one
 later, perhaps after Luther’s death, for he now hoped that death would
 soon free him from a world of which he was as weary as it was of him,
 one reason why that Antiphon of the entrance into rest was so dear to
 him. It is the first Antiphon in the Nocturns of the Holy Saturday
 Office and runs: “In peace in the selfsame I will sleep and I will
 rest, for Thou, O Lord, hast singularly settled me in hope.”[457]

 “We know,” he continues, “that music is hateful and unbearable to
 the devils, and I am not ashamed to declare, that next to theology
 only music is able to afford interior peace and joy. The devil likes
 to cause us trouble and perplexity, but he takes to flight at the
 sound of music, just as he does at the words of theology, and for
 this reason the prophets always combined theology and music, the
 teaching of truth and the chanting of psalms and hymns.” “It was thus
 that David with his harp,” he said on another occasion, “allayed
 Saul’s temptations when the devil plagued him.... Do not dispute with
 the devil about the law, for he is a rare conjurer.”[458] “He has
 a bulwark against us in our flesh and blood; ... when he makes me
 fancy that God is far from me, I say: Well then, I will cry and call
 upon Him.”[459] “ Many temptations and evil thoughts are dispelled
 by music.”[460] “Singers are cheerful and drive away cares with

 Senfl’s sweet and charming motets had, he assures him, special power
 over him.[462] “But I allow myself to be carried away almost too
 much by my love for this art,” he says at the end of his letter to
 Senfl, “which has often refreshed me and delivered me from great

It would doubtless have been of great advantage to Luther’s cause
had his insistent praise of the person he is addressing, and of the
Dukes of Bavaria for their love of music, succeeded in securing for
him a footing in Munich. He does not in this letter conceal the fact
that these Dukes were not favourably disposed towards him. Senfl,
though holding constant intercourse with the followers of the new
teaching, remained a member of the Catholic Church, nor were the Dukes
of Bavaria, for all their enlightened ideas, to be tricked into a
compromise with heresy by any attempt, however clever and pious in
appearance. The warm expression of trust and confidence in God, such
as we find here, was not unusual in the letters Luther addressed to
princely Courts and high officers of state.



1. Luther’s Marriage

WHEN, in November, 1524, Spalatin, on the occasion of an enquiry made
by a lady, ventured to broach the question when Luther proposed taking
a wife, he received the following answer: He was to tell the enquirer
(Argula), that Luther was “in the hands of God, as a creature whose
heart He could fashion as He would; whom He was able to kill or to
make alive at any hour and any moment.” His feelings were yet foreign
to matrimony. “But I shall neither set bounds to God’s action in my
regard, nor listen to my own heart.”[463] By these words, which were
addressed to all observers and critics, he not only left himself an
open door, but attempted to describe his state in the terms of that
pseudo-mysticism of man’s bondage and lack of free will as regards
God’s designs to which at times he was wont to abandon himself more or
less completely, according to the varying circumstances of his life.

About March or April, 1525, a definite intention to marry begins to
appear. The letter to Spalatin referred to above, on p. 140, was
written on April 16, and, though in it he does not yet admit his
determination to marry, he speaks of himself jestingly as a famous
lover, who had had at one time three wives in his hands. His eye
fell on Catherine von Bora, who after her flight from the convent at
Nimbschen, had found a home in the house of the Town-clerk, Reichenbach
(above, p. 138). He speaks of her in a letter of May 4 as “my Katey”
and declares that he is about to marry her.[464] Owing to his intimacy
with her all sorts of stories went the rounds in the town during the
following months, to which intercourse with the ex-nuns referred to
above (p. 145) gave all the more colour.

Then, suddenly, without consulting any of his friends and with a haste
which surprised even his own followers, on the evening of June 13,
he celebrated his wedding with Bora in his own house, with all the
formalities then usual. Besides Bugenhagen and Jonas, Luther’s friends,
only the painter Lucas Cranach and his wife, and the Professor of
Jurisprudence, Dr. Apel, were summoned as witnesses. The consummation
of the marriage seems to have been duly witnessed by Bugenhagen as
Pastor of Wittenberg. The public wedding did not take place until June
27, according to the custom common in that district of dividing the
actual marriage from the public ceremony. During the interval Luther
invited several guests to be present, as we see from his letters,
which are still extant. From June 13 he speaks of himself already as
“_copulatus_,”[465] and as a “husband.”[466]

On June 14 Jonas sent by special messenger to Spalatin a letter,
evidently written under the stress of very mixed feelings: “Luther has
taken Catherine von Bora to wife. Yesterday I was there and saw the
betrothed on the bridal couch. I could not restrain my tears at the
sight; I know not what strong emotion stirred my soul; now that it has
taken place and is the Will of God, I wish the excellent, honest man
and our beloved father in the Lord, every happiness. God is wonderful
in His decrees!”[467]

Luther also was at pains to represent the incident as divinely
ordained, a high and holy act.

At a later date he said: “God willed that I should take pity on her
[Catherine].”[468] Even before taking the step, he had thought out
the plan of impressing upon his union with “Katey,” the ex-nun, the
character of a “reforming work.” “Because our enemies do not cease
to condemn matrimony,” he writes, and “our ‘little wiseacres’ daily
scoff at it,” he feels himself for that very reason attracted to it;
being determined to give celebrity to the true teaching of the Gospel
concerning marriage.[469] He had informed Albert, the archiepiscopal
Elector, that before quitting this life he would enter the married
state, which he considered as enjoined by God,[470] and somewhat
earlier he had confided to a friend that, if he could manage it before
he died, he meant “to take his Katey to wife in order to spite the
devil.”[471] This agrees in part with what he wrote shortly after his
marriage: “The Lord plunged me suddenly, while I still clung to quite
other views, into matrimony.”[472]

As a matter of fact it was the unpleasant rumours aroused when his
intimacy with Bora became known, which hastened the step. This is
what Bugenhagen, an authentic witness, says with evident displeasure:
Evil tales were the cause of Dr. Martin’s becoming a married man so
unexpectedly.[473] Luther himself admits this in a confidential letter
to Spalatin three days after the step. He informs him of his marriage
as follows: “I have shut the mouth of those who slandered me and
Catherine von Bora.”[474]

In the same letter Luther also refers to the reproach he had at first
dreaded, viz. of degrading himself by his marriage. He scoffs at
this: “I have become so low and despicable by this marriage,” he says
jokingly, “that I hope the angels will laugh and all the devils weep.
The world and its ‘wise ones’ do not yet recognise the pious and holy
work of God and in me they regard it as something impious and devilish.
Hence it pleases me greatly that, by my marriage, the opinion of
those who continue to persevere in their ignorance of divine things is
brought in question and condemned. Farewell, and pray for me.”[475]
Such utterances were directed also against many of the friends of
the Evangel. Hieronymus Schurf, the lawyer, and otherwise Luther’s
confidant, had been one of those opposed to his marriage. He had said:
“If this Monk takes a wife all the world and the devil himself will
laugh, and Luther will undo the whole of his previous work.”[476]

Melanchthon, too, expressed his deep displeasure at the marriage in the
remarkable Greek letter already once referred to (p. 145) addressed to
his friend Joachim Camerarius, and dated June 16, 1525.

The true wording of this Greek letter, which Camerarius saw fit to
modify, as is proved by the original in the Chigi Library in Rome, with
his “corrections” in red pencil, only became known in 1876.[477] He
revised it completely for his edition of Melanchthon’s letters because
he feared to make the severe censure it contained public; thus the
letter was formerly only known in the altered shape in which it was
also published in 1834 in the “_Corpus Reformatorum_,” which begins
with Melanchthon’s letters. A similar fate has befallen several other
letters of Melanchthon in the Camerarius editions, and consequently
also in the “_Corpus_.”

 Melanchthon, according to the real text of the letter (which we give
 in full in the note), commences with these words: “Since you have
 probably received divergent accounts concerning Luther’s marriage, I
 judge it well to send you my views on his wedding.” After detailing
 the external circumstances already referred to, and pointing out
 that Luther “had not consulted any of his friends beforehand,” he
 continues: “You will perhaps be surprised that, at this unhappy time
 when upright and right-thinking men are everywhere being oppressed,
 he is not also suffering, but, to all appearance, leads a more easy
 life (_μᾶλλον τρυφᾶν_) and endangers his reputation, notwithstanding
 the fact that the German nation stands in need of all his wisdom
 and strength. It appears to me, however, that this is how it has
 happened.” And here Melanchthon brings forward the complaints already
 related (p. 145) of the imprudent intimacy between a “man otherwise
 noble and high-minded” and the escaped nuns, who had made use of every
 art to attract him and thus had rendered him effeminate and inflamed
 his passions. “He seems after this fashion to have been drawn into
 the untimely change in his mode of life. It is clear, however, that
 the gossip concerning his previous criminal intercourse with her
 [Bora] was false. Now the thing is done it is useless to find fault
 with it, or to take it amiss, for I believe that nature impels man
 to matrimony. Even though this life is low, yet it is holy, and more
 pleasing to God than the unmarried state. And since I see that Luther
 is to some extent sad and troubled about this change in his way of
 life, I seek very earnestly to encourage him by representing to him
 that he has done nothing which, in my opinion, can be made a subject
 of reproach to him.”

 In spite of his misgivings Melanchthon seeks to console himself with
 two strange reflections: Advancement and honour are dangerous to
 all men, even to those who fear God as Luther does, and therefore
 this “low” way of life is good for him. And again, “I am in hopes
 that he will now lay aside the buffoonery[478] for which we have so
 often found fault with him.” Camerarius must not allow himself to be
 disconcerted by Luther’s unexpected mode of proceeding, even though
 he may be painfully aware that it is injurious to him. “I exhort
 you to bear this with patience ... God has shown us by the numerous
 mistakes (_πταίσματα_) the Saints committed in earlier ages, that He
 wishes us to prove His Word and not to rely upon the reputation of
 any man, but only on His Word. He would, indeed, be a very godless
 man who, on account of the mistake (_πταῖσμα_) of the doctor, should
 judge slightingly of his doctrine....” Melanchthon then reiterates his
 statement that nature impels a man to matrimony, adding to it the word

 The letter, which was not intended for publication and, probably
 for this reason, was written in Greek, contains a strange admixture
 of blame and dissatisfaction coupled with recognition and praise
 of Luther’s good qualities. We see clearly how Melanchthon tries
 to overcome the bitterness he feels by means of these reflections,
 which however reveal him as the learned and timid Humanist he really
 was, rather than as a theologian and man of the world. Protestants
 have attempted to moderate the impression created by this letter of
 Melanchthon’s by representing it as written hastily in a passing
 fit of temper. As a matter of fact, however, it does not bear the
 impress of having been so written, and, considering how the writer is
 evidently at pains to find some justification for Luther’s conduct, it
 cannot be described as written hastily and without due thought. The
 writer, in spite of all he says, is anxious that “what has taken place
 should not be blamed”; Luther to him is still “a noble and high-minded
 man,” one, too, who has given proof of his fear of God.

 One of the most recent of Luther admirers accordingly abandons
 this excuse, and merely speaks of the letter as a “hateful” one,
 “written in an extremely uncomfortable frame of mind.” After various
 reflections thereon he arrives at the following surprising conclusion:
 “If we place ourselves in poor Melanchthon’s position and realise the
 slight offered him in not having been apprised of the matter until
 after the wedding had taken place, and his grief that his friend
 should thus expose the cause of the evangel to slander, we must admit
 that, after all, the letter was quite amiable.” If, however, there
 was any question of slight in the matter, Melanchthon was certainly
 not the only one who had cause for complaint; accustomed as he was to
 such treatment on Luther’s part, he scarcely even refers to it, his
 objection being based on far more serious grounds. He showed no sign
 of having been slighted when, shortly after, he invited Wenceslaus
 Link to the public “_nuptiæ_,” expressing his good wishes that
 Luther’s marriage “may turn out well.”[480] The scruples which he
 shared with Camerarius concerning Luther’s intimacy with the ex-nuns
 were not new, but had long disquieted him. We may notice over and over
 again his secret esteem for celibacy, which he ranks above matrimony,
 and such thoughts may well have animated him when composing the
 letter, even though he repels them and praises the married state. “It
 is plain,” says Kawerau, “that a shudder passes through his frame at
 the very thought of marriage between a monk and a nun.”[481] We can
 only regard it as due to his state of indecision when he says in the
 letter in question, first that Luther “had done nothing that called
 for reproach,” and then, that “he had made a mistake.”

 We may nevertheless grant to the Protestant author, mentioned at the
 commencement of the previous paragraph, that Melanchthon--who was
 not, as a matter of fact, apprised by Luther of his thoughts at that
 time--“did not rightly understand the motive which caused him to enter
 the married state at such a moment.” Indeed, the motive was not to be
 readily understood. Luther’s intention, so our author thinks, was to
 set his enemies at defiance by his marriage and to show them “that he
 would pay less attention to them than ever”; being apprehensive of his
 approaching end, he determined to set the last touch to his doctrine
 on matrimony by a solemn and manly act.

 Many others, like Melanchthon, have been unable to appreciate this
 “great motive,” or at any rate the disadvantages of marriage in
 Luther’s case seem to have weighed more heavily with them than its
 compensating advantages in the service of the Reformation.

 This explanation, nevertheless, appears so convincing to our author
 that he does not insist further upon another reason which he hints at,
 viz. that Catherine von Bora “was unkindly disposed to Melanchthon,”
 and that he much feared she would alienate his friend’s heart from
 him. The same writer mildly remarks concerning the falsification of
 the letter committed by Camerarius: “it was not with the intention of
 falsifying, that he made various alterations, but in order to prevent
 disedification.” Camerarius has, however, unfortunately aggravated
 one passage in the letter, for where Melanchthon speaks for the first
 time of man’s natural inclination for marriage, Camerarius adds the
 word _αὐτόν_, thus referring directly to Luther what the writer
 intended for men in general: “I believe _he_ was forced by nature to
 marry,” which, following immediately upon the passage referring to
 his frivolous intercourse with the nuns and the calumnies about Bora,
 gives a still more unfavourable impression of Luther. This at any rate
 may serve to exculpate the Catholic controversialists, who erroneously
 referred this passage, and the other one which resembles it, directly
 to Luther, whereas he is comprised in it only indirectly.

According to what we have seen, the circumstance of Luther’s sudden
marriage occurring just at the time of the panic of the Peasant War,
made an especially deep impression on Melanchthon, who was ever
inclined to circumspection and prudence.

In point of fact, a more unsuitable time, and one in more glaring
contrast with nuptial festivities, it would have been impossible for
Luther to select. The flames of the conflagration raging throughout
Germany and even in the vicinity of Wittenberg, and the battlefields
strewn with the dead, slain by the rebels or the supporters of the
Knights and Princes, formed a terrible background to the Wittenberg

The precipitancy of his action was the more remarkable because at that
time Luther himself was living in a state of keen anxiety concerning
the outcome of the great social and religious upheaval.

Seeing that he was looked upon, by both lord and peasant, as the prime
instigator of the trouble, he had grave cause to fear for his own
safety. About five weeks later, writing from Seeburg, near Mansfeld,
after a preaching tour through the rebels’ country, he says: “I, who am
also affected by it, for the devil is intent upon my death, know that
he is angered because so far he has been unable either by cunning or by
force to harm me and is determined to be rid of me even should he be
forced to do his worst and set the whole world in an uproar; so that I
really believe, and it appears to me, that it is on my account that he
does such things in the world in order that God may plague the world.
If I reach home safe and sound, I shall, with God’s help, prepare
myself for death.”[482]

Whereas he had written not long before, that he was not thinking
of marrying because he awaited death, i.e. the death-penalty for
heresy,[483] according to his statements after his marriage it was the
thought of death which had led him to contract the union; God’s work
was unmistakable, God was shaming his adversaries. He repeatedly makes
statements to this effect, which we shall gather together with some of
his other assertions to form a picture of his mental state then.

 In one of the letters of invitation to the public wedding he writes:
 “The lords, priests and peasants are all against me and threaten me
 with death; well, as they are so mad and foolish I shall take care to
 be found at my end in the state [matrimony] ordained by God.”[484] He
 is forced, however, to brace himself up in order not to lose heart
 and be vexed at the falling away of the people from him; “to resign
 favour, honour and followers”[485] caused him grief of heart and an
 inward struggle.

 His conviction that the end of the world was approaching, also did its
 part in exciting him; “the destruction of the world may be expected
 any hour,” he writes.[486]

 Hence he is determined, as he declares, to marry “in order to defy
 the devil,”[487] i.e. he defies all his afflictions and anxieties,
 all the accusations of others as well as of his own conscience, and
 surrenders himself to the feeling, which, since the Wartburg days,
 ever stirred the depths of his soul on such occasions and made him
 hope to recover all the ground lost by means of force and violence.
 Peace and contentment of soul were not, however, the immediate result,
 for Melanchthon writes, that, after his marriage, Luther had been “sad
 and troubled.”[488]

 Luther will, however, have it that it was God Who had shown him the
 road he had taken.

 “God is pleased to work wonders in order to mock me and the world
 and to make fools of us.”[489] “That it is God’s work even the ‘wise
 ones’ among us are forced to acknowledge, though they are greatly
 vexed. The picture their fancy paints of me and the girl makes them
 lose their wits so that they think and speak godlessly. But the Lord
 liveth and is greater in us than he [the devil] that is in the world
 (1 John iv. 4).”[490] “God willed it and carried it out” (“_Sic Deus
 voluit et fecit_”).[491] “On account of this work of God I have, it
 is true, to suffer much abuse and many calumnies.”[492] “Thus, so far
 as I am able, I have [by my marriage] thrown away the last remnant
 of my former popish life; I am determined to make them [my foes]
 still madder and more foolish; this is the stirrup-cup and my last

 “Were the world not scandalised at us, I should be scandalised at the
 world, for I should be afraid lest what we undertake is not of God;
 but as the world is scandalised and withstands me, I am edified and
 comfort myself in God; do you likewise.”[494]

 “The cause of the Evangel has been greatly wronged by Münzer and the
 peasants,” he declares, therefore he wished to strengthen it by his
 marriage, in spite of the Papists who were shouting in triumph (“_ne
 videar cessisse_”), “and I shall do more still which will grieve them
 and bring them to the recognition of the Word.”[495]

If, to the motives for his marriage which he enumerates above, we add
a further reason, also alleged by him, viz. that he wished to show
himself obedient to his father, who desired the marriage, we arrive at
the stately number of seven reasons. They may be arranged as follows:
1. Because it was necessary to shut the mouth of those who spoke evil
of him on account of his relations with Bora. 2. Because he was obliged
to take pity on the forsaken nun. 3. Because his father wished it. 4.
Because the Catholics represented matrimony as contrary to the Gospel.
5. Because even his friends laughed at his plan of marrying. 6. Because
the peasants and the priests threatened him with death and he must
therefore defy the terrors raised by the devil. 7. Because God’s will
was plainly apparent in the circumstances. Melanchthon’s reason, viz.
that man is impelled to marriage by nature, Luther does not himself
bring forward.

We must not lose sight of the circumstance that the marriage took
place barely five weeks after the death of the Saxon Elector Frederick
the Wise. His successor was more openly favourable towards the
ecclesiastical innovations. Frederick would have nothing to do with the
marriage of the clergy, particularly with nuns, although he did not
permit any steps to be taken against those who had married. He wrote
to his Councillors at Torgau on October 4, 1523, that to undertake any
alteration or innovation would be difficult, more particularly in these
days when he had to anticipate trouble “for our country and people”
from the opponents of Lutheranism; “he did not think that a clergyman
ought to earn his stipend by idleness and the taking of wives, and by
works which he himself condemned.”[496] In May, 1524, we see from one
of Luther’s letters to Spalatin that difficulties had been raised at
the Court concerning the remuneration of the married clergy by the
Government. In this letter he recommends Johann Apel, formerly Canon
of Würzburg, who had married a nun, for a post at the University of
Wittenberg, and gives special advice in case his marriage should prove
an obstacle (“_quod si uxorcula obstet_,” etc.). He here condemns the
faint-hearted action of the Elector, and remarks, that he will not
thereby escape the animosity of his foes, seeing that he notoriously
“favours heretics and provides for them.”[497]

Luther did not lose his habit of jesting with his friends, though his
witticisms are neither proper nor edifying: “I am bound in the meshes
of my mistress’s tresses,” he writes to one,[498] and to another, that
it all seemed “very strange” to him and he could hardly realise he had
“become a married man, but the evidence was so strong that he was in
honour bound to believe it”; and to a third, since God had taken him
captive unawares in the bonds of holy matrimony, he would be obliged to
confirm this with a “collation” [dinner-party], therefore he and Mrs.
Catherine begged him to send a cask of the best Torgau beer for a good
drink; should “it turn out not to be good, the sender would have to
drink it all himself as a penalty.”[499] He speaks later in the same
jocose fashion of his “Katey” as the “Kette” [chain] to which he is
tied, and rather indelicately plays on his wife’s maiden name: “I lie
on the bier [’Bore’ = mod. Germ. ‘Bahre’], i.e. I am dead to the world.
My Catena [Kette, or chain] rattles her greetings to you and your
Catena.” This to Wenceslaus Link, the former Vicar of the Augustinians,
who was already married.[500]

Such jokes were likely to be best appreciated in the circle of apostate
priests and monks.

But many earnest men of Luther’s own party, who like Melanchthon
and Schurf, feared evil consequences from the marriage, were little
disposed for such trifling.

Luther jestingly complains of such critics: “The wise men who
surrounded him” were greatly incensed at his marriage;[501] he says he
knew beforehand that “evil tongues would wag” and, in order that the
marriage might “not be hindered,” he had “made all haste to consummate

Friends and followers living at a distance expressed strong disapproval
of his conduct when it was already too late. The Frankfurt Patrician,
Hamman von Holzhausen, wrote on July 16, 1525, to his son Justinian,
who was studying at Wittenberg: “I have read your letter telling me
that Martinus Lutherus has entered the conjugal state; I fear he will
be evil spoken of and that it may cost him a great falling off.”[503]

It was, however, useless for the new husband to attempt to defend
himself against the consequences by excuses such as the following:
“I am neither in love nor consumed by passion, but I esteem my wife
highly.”[504] According to his own assertion the step had not been
taken under stress of sensual passion, seeing that it was closely bound
up with his theology. “I had firmly determined, for the honour of
matrimony,” he says in the Table-Talk, “before ever I took a wife, that
had I had to die unexpectedly, or were lying on my death-bed, I would
have wedded some pious maiden.”[505] He again assures us, that even
when an old man and incapable of begetting children, he would still
have taken a wife “merely in order to do honour to the married state
and testify to his contempt for the shameful immorality and evil living
of the Papacy.”[506]

We are here confronted with a strange psychological phenomenon, a
candidate for death who is at the same time one for marriage.

Luther, however, speaks so frequently of this abnormal idea of marrying
at the hour of death, that he may gradually have come to look upon it
as something grand. In the case of most people death draws the thoughts
to the severing of all earthly ties, but Luther, on the contrary,
is desirous of forming new ones at the very moment of dissolution.
He arrives at this paradox only by means of two highly questionable
ideas, viz. that he must exhibit the utmost defiance and at the same
time vindicate the sacred character of marriage. It would have been
quite possible for him without a wife to show his defiant spirit, and
he had already asserted his doctrine concerning marriage so loudly and
bluntly, that this fresh corroboration by means of such a marriage was
quite unnecessary. What was wanted was, that he should vindicate his
own act, which appeared to many of his friends both troublesome and
detrimental. Hence his endeavours to conceal its true character by
ingenious excuses.

Luther’s Catholic opponents were loud in the expression of their lively
indignation at the sacrilegious breaking of their vows by monk and
nun; some embodied the same in satires designed to check the spread of
the movement and to open the eyes of Luther’s followers. One saying
of Erasmus has frequently been quoted: A wedding was the usual end of
a comedy, but here it was the termination of a tragedy. The actual
wording of the somewhat lengthy passage runs thus: “In the comic opera
the fuss usually ends in a wedding and then all is quiet; in the
case of sovereigns their tragedies also frequently come to a similar
conclusion, which is not particularly advantageous to the people, but
is better than a war.... Luther’s tragedy seems likely to end in the
same way. The Monk has taken a nun to wife.... Luther has now become
calmer and his pen no longer makes the same noise. There is none so
wild but that a wife can tame him.”[507] Erasmus, however, speedily
withdrew his last words, writing that Luther has become more virulent
than ever.[508]

More in place than such satires were the serious expressions of
disapproval and regret on the part of Catholics concerning the terrible
fall of the quondam monk and minister of the altar, by reason of his
invalid marriage with the nun. Hieronymus Dungersheim of Leipzig was
later to raise his voice in a protest of this sort, addressed to
Luther, which may be considered as an echo of the feeling awakened in
the minds of many by the news of Luther’s marriage and as such may
serve as a striking historical testimony: “O unhappy, thrice unhappy
man! Once you zealously taught, supported by Divine testimonies and
agreeably with the Church of God, that the insolence of the flesh must
be withstood by penance and prayer; now you have the fallen woman
living with you and give yourself up to serve the flesh under the
pretence of marriage, blinded as you are by self-indulgence, pride and
passion; by your example you lead others to similar wickedness.... What
a startling change, what inconstancy! Formerly a monk, now in the midst
of a world you once forsook; formerly a priest, now, as you yourself
believe, without any priestly character and altogether laicised;
formerly in a monk’s habit, now dressed as a secular; formerly a
Christian, now a Husite; formerly in the true faith, now a mere Picard;
formerly exhorting the devout to chastity and perseverance, now
enticing them to tread their vow under foot and to deliver themselves
without compunction into the hands of the Evil One!”[509]

       *       *       *       *       *

In the above, light has been thrown upon the numerous legends attaching
to Luther’s wedding at Wittenberg, and their true value may now be
better appreciated.

It is clear, for instance, from the facts recorded, that it is
incorrect to accuse Luther of not having complied with the then
formalities, and of having consummated the marriage before even
attempting to conclude these. The distinction mentioned above between
the two acts of June 13 and 27, each of which had its special
significance, was either unknown to or ignored by these objectors.
Were we merely to consider the due observance of the formalities, then
there is no doubt that these were complied with, save that objection
might be raised as to the legal status of the pastor. But, on the other
hand, Canon Law was plainly and distinctly opposed to the validity of
a marriage contracted between parties bound by solemn monastic vows.
Thus from the point of view of civil law the regularity of Luther’s new
status was very doubtful, as both Canon Law and the Law of the Empire
did not recognise the marriages of priests and monks, and lawyers were
forced to base their decisions upon such laws. We shall have to speak
later of Luther’s anger at the “quibbles” of the lawyers, and his anger
had some reason, viz. his well-founded fear lest his marriage should
not be recognised as valid by the lawyers, and hence that his children
would be stamped as illegitimate and as incapable of inheriting.

 The false though frequently repeated statement, that Catherine von
 Bora was confined a fortnight after her marriage with Luther can be
 traced back to a letter of Erasmus, dated December 24, 1525, giving
 too hasty credence to malicious reports.[510] Erasmus himself,
 however, distinctly retracted this statement in another letter of
 March 13, 1526: “The previous report of the woman’s delivery,”
 he writes, “was untrue, but now it is said she is in a certain
 condition.”[511] As his previous statement was thought to be correct,
 doubts were raised as to the authenticity of the second letter; the
 objections are, however, worthless; both letters are taken from the
 same set of the oldest collection of the correspondence of Erasmus,
 and, from their first appearance, were ever held to be genuine.

 Indeed, the assumption that Luther had unlawful intercourse with
 Catherine von Bora before his marriage is founded solely and entirely
 on certain reports already discussed, viz. his intimacy with the
 escaped nuns generally.

 It is true that soon after the marriage Luther speaks of Catherine von
 Bora as his “Mistress” (“Metze”) in whose tresses he is bound,[512]
 but the word he uses had not at that time the opprobrious meaning it
 conveys in modern German; it simply meant a girl or woman, and was a
 term of endearment in common use.

 An assertion made by Joachim von der Heyden, a Leipzig Master, has
 also been quoted; in a public writing of August 10, 1525, addressed to
 Catherine von Bora, he reproached her with having conducted herself
 like a dancing-girl in her flight from the convent to Wittenberg,
 and there, as was said, having lived in an open and shameless manner
 with Luther before she took him as her husband.[513] A circumstance
 which must not be overlooked is, that these words were intended
 for Catherine herself, and appear to come from a man who believed
 what he was saying. Yet on examination we see that he rests his
 assertion merely on hearsay: “as was said.” The “dancing-girl,”
 again, was adduced merely by way of comparison, though assuredly not
 a complimentary one, and refers either to the very worldly manners
 of the escaped nun, or to the secular, perhaps even scarcely modest
 dress, for which she exchanged her habit on her flight or afterwards.
 It is probable that at Leipzig, where Heyden lived, and which was
 one of the headquarters of anti-Lutheranism, something more definite
 would have been urged, had anything really been known of any actual
 immorality between Catherine and Luther.

 Another bitter opponent of Luther’s, Simon Lemnius, who has also been
 appealed to, likewise adduces no positive or definite facts. Among the
 inventions of his fancy contained in the “Monachopornomachia” he left
 us, he does not even mention any illicit intercourse of Luther with
 Bora before his marriage, though in this satire he makes the wives
 of Luther, Spalatin, and Justus Jonas give vent to plentiful obscene
 remarks touching other matters. He merely relates--and this only by
 poet’s licence--how Bora, after overwhelming Luther with reproaches on
 account of his alleged attempt to jilt her, finally dragged him away
 with her to the wedding.[514]

 Since in this work it is history in the strict sense which speaks,
 only such evidence can be admitted against Luther as would be
 accepted as proof in a court of law, and mere conjectures would be out
 of place. We have seen the historic complaint made by Melanchthon of
 Luther’s “effeminacy” and the “exciting of his passions by the nuns
 who pursued him with the utmost cunning,”[515] and have some idea of
 the scandal created by the quondam monk through his light-hearted
 intercourse with these women who had quitted their seclusion; we
 can now understand how natural was the gossip to which he himself
 and his friends bear witness. It is true that men like Eberlin of
 Günzburg, the apostate Franciscan, said at the time that the devil
 was busy everywhere stirring up “wicked and vexatious suspicions and
 calumnies” against Luther, etc.[516] Others gave vent to their spite
 against the manners of the ex-nuns, who were bringing the evangel into
 dispute.[517] We can comprehend such reflections as the following,
 made at a later date by indignant Catholic observers, even though in
 an historical work such as this we cannot make them our own. “To have
 remained spotless amidst such dangers Luther would have to have been
 an angel. Whoever has any knowledge of human nature, and knows that
 God as a rule punishes pride and haughtiness by this particular vice,
 will not wonder that many have their doubts as to Luther’s unblemished
 life before he took a wife.”[518]

2. The Peasant-War. Polemics

That the preaching of the new Evangel had a great part in the origin of
the frightful peasant rising of 1525 is a fact, which has been admitted
even by many non-Catholic historians in modern days.

 “We are of opinion,” P. Schreckenbach writes in 1895, “that Luther had
 a large share in the revolution,” and he endorses his opinion by his
 observations on “Luther’s warfare against the greatest conservative
 power of the day,” and the “ways and means he chose with which to
 carry on his war.”[519] Fr. v. Bezold, in 1890, in his “History of
 the German Reformation,” remarked concerning Luther’s answer to the
 hostile treatment he received from the Diet at Nuremberg (1524), and
 his allusions to “the mad, tipsy Princes”: “Luther should never have
 written in such a way had he not already made up his mind to act
 as leader of a Revolution. That he should have expected the German
 nation of those days to listen to such passionate language from the
 mouth of its ‘Evangelist’ and ‘Elias’ without being carried beyond
 the bounds of law and order, was a _naïveté_ only to be explained
 by his ignorance of the world and his exclusive attention to
 religious interests. Herein lies his greatness and his weakness.”[520]
 Concerning the effects of such language upon the people, the same
 historian wrote, as late as 1908: “How else but in a material sense
 was the plain man to interpret Luther’s proclamation of Christian
 freedom and his extravagant strictures on the parsons and nobles?”[521]

Luther’s Catholic contemporaries condemned in the strongest manner
his share in the unchaining of the revolt; they failed entirely to
appreciate the “greatness” referred to above.

 One who was well acquainted with his writings and published a
 polemical work in Latin against him at that time, referring to certain
 passages, some of which we have already met, makes the following
 representations to him on his responsibility in the Peasant War. It
 was he who first raised the call to arms, and it was impossible for
 him to wash his hands of all share in the revolt, even though he had
 told the people that they were not to make use of force without the
 consent of the authorities and had subsequently condemned the rising
 with violence. “The common people pay no attention to that,” he tells
 him, “but merely obey what pleases them in Luther’s writings and
 sermons.” “You declared in your public writings,[522] that they were
 to assail the Pope and the Cardinals with every weapon available, and
 wash their hands in their blood. You called all the bishops who would
 not follow your teaching, idolatrous priests and ministers of the
 devil; you said that the bishops deserved to be wiped off the face of
 the earth in a great rising.” “You called those, ‘dear children of God
 and true Christians,’ who make every effort for the destruction of the
 bishoprics and the extermination of episcopal rule. You said also that
 whoever obeyed the bishops was the devil’s own servant. You called the
 monasteries dens of murderers, and incited the people to pull them

A strong wave of anticlerical and of politico-social commotion due
to unjust oppression prevailed among the peasantry in many parts of
Germany even before Luther came forward. But it was the gospel of
freedom, the mistaken approbation found in biblical passages for the
desire for equality among the classes and a juster distribution of
property, as well as the example of the great spiritual upheaval then
going on, which rendered the crisis acute, and incited the peasants to
make their extravagant and violent demands.

An attempt was made to conceal the revolutionary character of the
movement by explaining it as mainly religious.

The “Twelve Articles of the Peasants of Swabia,” was headed, for
instance, by a demand for liberty to preach the Gospel and for
congregations to have the right of choosing their own pastors.[524] It
was believed by those who drew up these Articles that all the claims,
even those relating to the tithes, to hunting, fishing, forest rights,
etc., could be proved from Holy Scripture; only then, they said, were
they ready to abandon them when they were refuted by Holy Writ; at the
same time, however, they reserved to themselves the right to make in
the future such additional demands as they might come to recognise as
being in accordance with Scripture. Luther’s ideas were also embodied
in the thirty Articles of “Squire Helferich and the Knights Heinz und
Karsthanns,” indeed, they were for the most part couched in the very
words of Luther’s writings and the 28th Article swore deadly hostility
to all his foes.[525]

The peasants in the Rhine province and about Mayence in their rising
in May, 1525, demanded not merely the liberty to choose their own
pastors and to preach the Gospel, but also that the preachers of the
new faith imprisoned in Mayence should be set free. Their claim to
choose their pastors, which was likewise made elsewhere, for instance,
in the “Twelve Articles of the Peasants of Swabia,” signified nothing
less than the intention to fill the posts with preachers of the new

“The rebels everywhere either supported or opposed the Evangelical
demands, those of Evangelical views joining the rebels with the idea
that they would be able to enforce their wishes by this means.”
This explains why, after the rising had been put down, the Catholic
lords were disposed “to look on Lutheranism as no better than
rebellion.”[527] These words, written by a Protestant historian, refer
to the Rhine Province, but they are equally applicable elsewhere. So,
too, what he says of this district may also be said generally, viz.
that the enthusiastic expectation, which was widespread in Lutheran
circles, of a great change before the approaching end of the world,
helped to make of the followers of the new faith supporters of the
peasants. Luther encouraged such fanatical ideas among his readers till
the very outbreak of the revolt. (See below, p. 200 f.)

“What wonder,” the same historian says, “that when the social
revolution broke out in the spring, Luther’s persecuted followers
thought they recognised the beginning of the change, and in many
instances made common cause with the peasants and the lower classes of
the towns. Luther himself had no wish to carry through his religious
enterprise with the help either of the knights or of the peasants,
but his followers were not equal to making the necessary distinction
between the spiritual and the temporal.”[528]

Luther and his preachers had so frequently brought forward such
disparaging and degrading charges against the secular, and still
more against the spiritual authorities,[529] that clear-sighted
contemporaries, such as Bartholomew von Usingen, foretold a
revolution[530] as the result of such discourses and writings. The
destruction of the episcopal power, which, under the conditions then
prevailing, was so closely bound up with the secular, meant a radical
revolution in the law of property obtaining in the German Empire.

The “Christian freedom” of all, the equality of high and low in the
common priesthood, was proclaimed in the most incautious and seductive
terms. The peasants were taught by itinerant and often fanatical
preachers, concerning their real or alleged rights as vouched for by
Holy Scripture. Thus the esteemed Strasburg preacher, Caspar Hedio, of
the Rhinegau, in a sermon which he delivered on the Wachholder Heide,
near Erbach, explained to the people his views on the customary payment
of tithes; his words acting like a charm: He thought the peasants
should pay tithes only under protest, though they were nevertheless
not to attempt to abrogate the payment by force. Once roused, however,
who was to keep the crowd within these limits? In 1524 Hedio had two
sermons, preached on this subject in Strasburg, printed together with a
circular letter addressed to the inhabitants of the Rhinegau, “which,
there can be no doubt, exercised a certain influence upon the rising
there.”[531] In the circular he proposed, that the people themselves
should go in search of capable preachers if the ecclesiastical
authorities did not send such.[532]

A far-reaching social movement had been at work among the peasants,
more particularly in many districts of the south-west of Germany, even
previous to the rise of Lutheranism. They raised protests, which in
many instances were justifiable, against the oppression under which
they laboured. A crisis seemed imminent there as early as 1513 and
1514, and the feeling was general that a settlement of the difficulties
could only be brought about by violence. The ferment in many places
assumed an anticlerical character, which was all the more natural
seeing that the landowners and gentry who were the chief cause of
the dissatisfaction were either clergymen, like the Prince-Bishops,
or closely allied with the Church and her multifarious secular
institutions. The ill-feeling against the clergy was even then being
stirred up by exaggerated descriptions of their idle life, their luxury
and their unworthy conduct.

To seek to represent the movement, as has been done, as an exclusively
social one, is, even for the period before Luther, not quite correct,
although it certainly was mainly social. Yet it was, as a matter of
fact, the new ideas scattered among the people by Luther and Zwingli,
and the preaching of the apostasy, which brought the unrest so quickly
to a head. The anticlerical ideas of the religious innovators, combined
with social class antagonism, lent an irresistible force to the rising.
Hence the Peasant War has recently been described on the Protestant
side as a “religious movement,” called forth by the discussion of first
principles to which the Reformation gave rise, and which owed its
violent character to the religious contrast which it brought out.[533]
The expert on this period who writes thus, proves and justifies his
opinion, showing that Zwingli and Luther “were the primary cause” of
the War, not indeed directly, but because once the peasants had become
familiar with the new “biblical” ideas, which were so favourable to
their cause, they refused to stand by and see such doctrines suppressed
by violence, and preferred to take up arms against the Catholic rulers
and their energetic anti-Reformation measures.[534] According to the
same writer it is necessary to distinguish carefully between what the
peasants themselves represented in the course of the revolt as the
moving cause, i.e. the social disabilities of which they complained
(for instance in the Twelve Articles), and that which actually produced
the rising.

Nor must it be overlooked that, at the moment when passions were
already stirred up to their highest pitch, many attempts were made
on the Lutheran side to pacify the people. The catastrophe foreseen
affrighted those who were on the spot, and who feared lest the
responsibility might fall upon their shoulders. Quite recently a
forgotten pamphlet, written by an anonymous Lutheran preacher and
dating from the commencement of the movement, has been republished,
in which, after some pious exhortations, the author expresses his
firm hope that the fear of God would succeed in triumphing over the
excited passions; even biblical quotations against misuse of the
new evangelical freedom are to be found in this well-intentioned
booklet.[535] Then as now attention was drawn to Luther’s doctrine
concerning obedience to the powers that be, which required of “the true
Christian” that he should even “allow himself to be flayed,” and out of
love of the cross renounce all desire for revenge (xiv. 4).

Notwithstanding all this, the great responsibility which Lutheranism
shares in the matter remains. “It is no purely historical and objective
view,” says another Protestant historian, “but rather an apologetic
and false assumption, which attempts to deny the fact, that Luther’s
evangelical preaching most strongly encouraged and brought to a crisis
the social excitement which had been simmering among the lowest classes
since the fifteenth century. The agitation stirred up by the preachers
who followed in Luther’s footsteps contributed in a still greater
degree towards this result.”[536]

Special research in the different parts of the wide area covered by
the rising has to-day confirmed even more completely the opinion that
the accusations urged against Lutheranism by the olden supporters of
the Church were, after all, not so unjust in this particular. The
much-abused Johann Cochlæus, who made such charges, is rightly spoken
of by the last-mentioned historian as being “more suited” to depict
that revolutionary period than the diplomatic and cautious Sleidanus,
or the Protestant theological admirers and worshippers of Luther.[537]
The learned Hieronymus Emser wrote, in the stormy year 1525, a work
“Against Luther’s abominations,” a large part of which is devoted to
proving what is already explained in the sub-title of the book, “How,
and why, and in what words, Luther, in his books, urges and exhorts to
rebellion.” Emser also gave indignant expression to his conviction in
some verses intended for general circulation.

Luther was directly implicated in the beginning of the rising when the
“Twelve Articles of the Peasants of Swabia” was forwarded to him by the
insurgents. The peasants invited him, with confidence, “to declare what
was of Divine right.”[538] Luther’s honoured name came first in the
list of learned men who were to be consulted. The Wittenberg professor
grasped the full importance of the moment; he felt that the direction
of German affairs had been placed in his hands. Naturally he did not
wish to be the one to let loose the terrible storm, nor did he, as
the representative and “deliverer” of the people, wish to repulse the
movement which had been so long favourable to him, and the demands of
which were, in part at least, perfectly justifiable. He found himself
in a position exactly similar to that which he had occupied formerly
in regard to the Knights, who were anxious to take up arms, and with
whom he had, up to a certain point, made common cause, but whose
project afterwards appeared to him too dangerous and compromising to
the cause of the evangel. In the question of the Twelve Articles it
was difficult, nay, impossible, for him not to give offence either to
the gentry or to the populace, or to avoid barring the way for the new
evangel in one direction or the other. He determined to seek a middle
course. But the tragic consequences of the position he had always
assumed, the circumstances of the day and his unrestrained temper,
caused him to give mortal offence to both sides, to the lords as well
as to the peasants.

First, he flung his “Exhortation to Peace” on the field of battle--no
mere figure of speech, as, at the time of writing, the tumult had
already broken out and the horrors of Weinsberg been enacted (April
16, 1525), though of this Luther was ignorant when he composed the
pamphlet. Formerly this writing was thought to have been written in
May, but as a matter of fact it belongs to the period just after April

In this writing, as well as in the two following which treat of the
rising, certain sides of Luther’s character are displayed which must be
examined from the historical and psychological standpoint. The second,
which was the outcome of the impressions made by the bloody contest,
consists of only one sheet and is entitled “Against the murderous,
thieving hordes of Peasants,” or more shortly, “Against the insurgent
Peasants”; it, too, was written before the complete defeat of the
rebels in the decisive days of May.[540] The third is the “Circular
letter concerning the stern booklet against the Peasants,” of the
same year, and belongs to the time when the conquerors, flushed with
victory, were raging against the vanquished.[541]

The three writings must be considered in conjunction with the
circumstances which called them forth. Written in the very thick of
the seething ferment, they glow with all the fire of their author,
whose personal concern in the matter was so great. Whoever weighs their
contents at the present day will be carried back to the storm of that
period, and will marvel at the strength of the spirit which inspires
them, but at the same time be surprised at the picture the three
together present. He will ask, and not without cause, which of the
three is most to be regretted; surely the third, for the unmistakable
blunders of the author, who gives the fullest play to feeling and fancy
to the detriment of calm reason, go on increasing in each pamphlet.

In the first, the “Exhortation,” the author seeks to put the truth
before, and to pacify the Princes and gentry, more particularly those
Catholics who, subsequent to the Diet of Nuremberg, in 1524, had
entered the lists against the innovations. He also would fain instruct
and calm the peasants, his “dear Masters and Brothers.” Had Luther
been endowed with a clear perception of the position of affairs, and
seen the utter uselessness of any attempt merely to stem the movement,
he would not at this critical juncture have still further irritated the
rebels by the attacks upon the gentry, into which he allowed himself to
break out, and which were at once taken advantage of.

 He cries, for instance, to the authorities: “Your government consists
 in nothing else but fleecing and oppressing the poor common people
 in order to support your own magnificence and arrogance, till they
 neither can nor will endure it. The sword is at your throat; you think
 you sit fast in the saddle and that it will be impossible to overthrow
 you. But you will find that your self-confidence and obstinacy will be
 the breaking of your necks.” “You are bringing it upon yourselves and
 wish to get your heads broken. There is no use in any further warning
 or admonishing.” “God has so ordained it that your furious raging
 neither can nor shall any longer be endured. You must become different
 and give way to the Word of God; if you refuse to do so willingly,
 then you will be forced to it by violence and riot. If these peasants
 do not accomplish it, others must.”[542]

 He admonishes the peasants to suffer in a Christian manner, and to be
 ready to endure even persecution and oppression willingly. Such is
 the spirit of the evangel which he has always preached. The gospel
 made the material life to consist in nothing else but suffering,
 injustice, crosses, patience and contempt for all temporal goods,
 even life itself. Hence they must not base their earthly claims on
 the gospel. “Murderous prophets” had, however, come amongst them who,
 by their false interpretation of the Bible, injured the cause of the
 gospel and incited men to the use of force, which was forbidden. He
 himself had been so successful and yet had abhorred violence, which
 made the spread of his doctrine so much the more marvellous. “Now you
 interfere,” you wish to help the cause of the evangel, but you “are
 damaging it” by your violent action. The effect of these words which
 form the central point of his train of thought he destroys by fresh
 attacks upon the lords and Princes: If they “forbid the preaching of
 the gospel and oppress the people so unbearably, then they deserve
 that God should cast them from their thrones.”[543] Luther fancies
 he already sees the hands stretched out to execute the sentence, and
 concludes by addressing the Princes thus: “Tyrants seldom die in their
 beds, as a rule they perish by a bloody death. Since it is certain
 that you govern tyrannically and savagely, forbidding the preaching of
 the gospel and fleecing and oppressing the people, there is no comfort
 or hope for you but to perish as those like you have perished.”[544]

Such words as these were scarcely in place on the very eve of the
terrible struggle. Luther, in his excitement and his anxiety concerning
his teaching, was not a fit judge of the condition of things. It is
true that he fully realised that many of the burdens on account of
which the peasants had risen in revolt were far too oppressive,[545]
and the thoughts which he expresses on this matter are such as might
well be taken to heart for all time. But he places the interests of his
interpretation of the Bible so much in the foreground that he declares,
at the very outset, that what pleased him best in the Peasants’
“Articles,” was their “readiness to be guided by clear, plain,
undeniable passages of Scripture; since it is right and fair that no
man’s conscience should be instructed and guided otherwise than by Holy

Never has the liberty of Bible interpretation been proclaimed under
circumstances more momentous. Luther could not have been ignorant of
the fact, that the armed multitude and their preachers, particularly
the fanatical Anabaptists, had also, like him, set up a new
interpretation of their own of the Bible, one, however, which agreed so
well with their leanings that they would never relinquish it for any

Owing to the divergence of their teaching, and to the fact that they
were led by fanatics of Münzer’s persuasion, Luther came to see in the
warlike disturbances a mere work of the devil; hence he himself, the
chief foe of hell, feels it his duty to enter the lists against Satan;
the latter is seeking “to destroy and devour” both him and his evangel,
using the bloodthirsty spirit of revolt as his instrument, but let the
devil devour him and the result will be a belly-cramp.[547] In his
excitement he fancies he sees signs and wonders. “I and my friends will
pray to God that He may either reconcile you or else graciously prevent
events from taking the course you wish, though the terrible signs and
wonders of this time make me sad of heart.”[548] Like the end of the
world, which was supposed to be approaching, the “signs in the heavens
and the wonders on the earth” play their part in his mind. “They
forebode no good to you,” he prophesies to the authorities, “and no
good will come to you,” for “the many gruesome signs which have taken
place till now in the heavens and on the earth point to some great
misfortune and a striking change in the German land.”[549]

Shortly after the publication of the so-called “Exhortation to Peace,”
the news reached Wittenberg of the sanguinary encounters which had
already taken place. Everything was upside down. What dire confusion
would ensue should the peasants prove victorious? Luther now asked
himself what the new evangel could win supposing the populace gained
the upper hand, and also how the rulers who had hitherto protected his
cause would fare in the event of the rebels being successful in the
Saxon Electorate and at Wittenberg. Says the most recent Protestant
biographer of Luther: “Now that the rebellion was directed against
the Princes whose kindness and pure intention were so well known to
him, passionate rage with the rabble took the place of discriminating
justice.”[550] The fanatical mob that accompanied Thomas Münzer whetted
his tongue. We can understand how Luther, now thoroughly alarmed
by what he saw on his journeys and preaching-tours throughout the
insurgent districts, and by the daily accounts of unheard-of atrocities
committed by the rebels, was anxious to take a vigorous part in the
attempt to quench the flame. To his mind, with its constitutional
disability to perceive more than one thing at a time, nothing is
visible but the horrors of the armed rebellion. In “furious wrath” he
now mercilessly assails the rebels, allying himself entirely with the
Princes. The tract “Against the murderous Peasants,” comprising only
four pages, was composed about May 4.[551]

 “Pure devilry,” he says in this passionate and hurriedly composed
 pamphlet, is urging on the peasants; they “rob and rage and behave
 like mad dogs.” “Therefore let all who are able, hew them down,
 slaughter and stab them, openly or in secret, and remember that there
 is nothing more poisonous, noxious and utterly devilish than a rebel.
 You must kill him as you would a mad dog; if you do not fall upon
 him, he will fall upon you and the whole land.”[552]

 He now will have it that they are not fighting for the Lutheran
 teaching, nor serving the evangel. “They serve the devil under the
 appearance of the evangel ... I believe that the devil feels the
 approach of the Last Day and therefore has recourse to such unheard-of
 trickery.... Behold what a powerful prince the devil is, how he holds
 the world in his hands and can knead it as he pleases.” “I believe
 that there are no devils left in hell, but all of them have entered
 into the peasants.”[553]

 He therefore invites the authorities to intervene with all their
 strength. “Whatever peasants are killed in the fray, are lost body and
 soul and are the devil’s own for all eternity.” The authorities must
 resolve to “chastise and slay” so long as they can raise a finger:
 “Thou, O God, must judge and act. It may be that whoever is killed on
 the side of the authorities is really a martyr in God’s cause.”[554] A
 happier death no man could die. So strange are the times that a Prince
 may merit heaven more certainly by shedding blood than by saying

 Luther does not forget to exhort the evangelically-minded rulers to
 remember to offer the “mad peasants,” even at the last, “terms, but
 where this is of no avail to have recourse at once to the sword.”
 Before this, however, he says: “I will not forbid such rulers as are
 able, to chastise and slay the peasants without previously offering
 them terms, even though the gospel does not permit it.”[555]

 He is not opposed to indulgence being shown those who have been led
 astray. He recommends, that the many “pious folk” who, against their
 will, were compelled to join the diabolical league, should be spared.
 At the same time, however, he declares, that they like the others, are
 “going to the devil.... For a pious Christian ought to be willing to
 endure a hundred deaths rather than yield one hair’s breadth to the
 cause of the peasants.”[556]

 It has been said it was for the purpose of liberating those who had
 been compelled to join the insurgents, that he admonished the Princes
 in such strong terms, even promising them heaven as the reward for
 their shedding of blood, and that the overthrow of the revolt by
 every possible means was, though in this sense only, “for Luther a
 real work of charity.” This, however, is incorrect, for he does
 not speak of saving and sparing those who had been led astray until
 after the passage where he says that the Princes might gain heaven
 by the shedding of blood; nor is there any inner connection between
 the passages; he simply says: “There is still one matter to which
 the authorities might well give attention.” “Even had they no other
 cause for whetting their sword against the peasants, this [the saving
 of those who had been led astray] would be a more than sufficient
 reason.” After the appeal for mercy towards those who had been forced
 to fight, there follows the cry: “Let whoever is able help in the
 slaughter; should you die in the struggle, you could not have a more
 blessed death.” He concludes with Romans xiii. 4; concerning the
 authorities: “who bear not the sword in vain, avengers to execute
 wrath upon him that doth evil.”[557]

 While his indignant pen stormed over the paper, he had been thinking
 with terror of the consequences of the bloody contest, and of the
 likelihood of the peasants coming off victorious. He writes, “We
 know not whether God may not intend to prelude the Last Day, which
 cannot be far distant, by allowing the devil to destroy all order and
 government, and to reduce the world to a scene of desolation, so that
 Satan may obtain the ‘Kingdom of this world.’”[558]

The rebels, who had burnt the monasteries and demolished the
strongholds and castles in Thuringia and in Luther’s own country, were
soon to suffer a succession of great reverses. Münzer, the prophet,
was defeated in the battle of Frankenhausen on May 15, 1525, and after
being put to the torture, made his confession and was executed. Before
his end he with great composure implored the Princes to have mercy
on the poor, oppressed people. Luther said of his death, that his
confession was “mere devilish stupidity” and that his torture should
have been made much more severe; Melanchthon, in his history of Münzer,
also regretted that he had not been forced to confess that he received
his “Revelations” from the devil; he, too, did not think it enough that
he should have been tortured only once. Luther, however, was not sorry
to see the last of him. “Münzer, with some thousands of others, has
unexpectedly been made to bite the dust.”[559]

The open supporters of the rising, on account of his second tract,
called Luther a hypocrite and flatterer of the Princes.[560] Even some
of his best friends could not understand his ferocity in inciting the
lords against the peasants, more especially as it seemed to encourage
the victors in their savage treatment of the prisoners, which in some
places resembled a massacre.

Luther’s friend, Johann Rühel, the Mansfeld councillor, wrote to him,
at the time when the pamphlet against the peasants was making the
greatest sensation, expressing his misgivings. He reminded him of the
words he made use of in the passage last quoted concerning the “scene
of desolation” into which the world seemed about to be transformed.
This prophecy might prove only too true. “I am sore afraid,” he says,
“and really it seems as though you were playing the prophet to the
gentry, for, indeed, they will leave nothing but a desolate land to
their heirs; the people are being chastised so severely that I fear
the land of Thuringia and the County [of Mansfeld] will recover from
it but slowly.... Here they [the victorious party] give themselves up
to nothing but robbery and murder.”[561] Five days later Rühel again
wrote to Luther in tones of warning, saying that he meant well by him,
but must nevertheless point out the effect his pamphlet “Against the
Peasants” had had on the minds of some: “Be it as it may, it still
appears strange to many who are favourably disposed towards you that
you should allow the tyrants to slaughter without mercy and tell them
that they may thus become martyrs; it is openly said at Leipzig that
because the Elector has just died [May 5, 1525] you fear for your own
skin and flatter Duke George by approving his undertaking [i.e. his
energetic steps against the rising] out of fear for your own skin. I
will not presume to judge, but commit it to your own spirit, for I know
the saying: ‘_qui accipit gladium gladio peribit_,’ and, again, that
the secular power ‘beareth not the sword in vain ... an avenger to
execute wrath’ [Rom. xiii. 4].... I mean well, and beg you to remember
me in your prayers.”[562] The writer tells Luther that “the result
may well be that the victors in thus slaughtering without mercy will
appeal to Luther, and that thus even the innocent will be condemned
in Luther’s name.”[563] Rühel was a good Lutheran, and his words bear
witness to a deep-seated devotion to Luther’s spirit and guidance. In
his strange zeal for the evangel he urges Luther in this same letter to
invite the Archbishop of Mayence and Magdeburg to secularise himself
and take a wife.[564]

Luther’s intimate friend, Nicholas Hausmann, was also “rather horrified
and amazed” at the writing.[565] Complaints came from Zwickau that
not only the common people but also many of the learned were falling
away from him; it was thought that his manner of writing was very
unbecoming, and that he had been unmindful of the poor. The burgomaster
of Zwickau maintained that the tract against the peasants was “not
theological,” i.e. not worthy of a theologian.[566] “A storm of
displeasure broke out against Luther ... his ‘stab, slay, hew down’
sounded like mockery in the ears of the people when the aristocratic
bands were bathing in the blood of the vanquished.... The fact is
that Luther was not in his heart so indifferent as he made himself
out to be in the circular-letter he wrote in defence of his ‘severe

Before composing the circular-letter Luther sent a lively letter to
Rühel protesting that he was ready to stand by all he had written, and
that his conscience was “right in the sight of God.” “If there are
some innocent people among them, God will surely take care to save and
preserve them. But there is cockle among the peasantry. They do not
listen to the Word [but to Münzer], and are mad, so that they must
be made to listen to the _virga_ and the muskets, and ... serve them
right!” “Whoever has seen Münzer may well say that he has seen the
devil incarnate, in his utmost fury. O Lord God, where such a spirit
prevails among the peasants it is high time for them to be slaughtered
like mad dogs. Perhaps the devil feels the approach of the Last Day,
therefore he stirs up all this strife.... But God is mightier and

Elsewhere Luther declares that owing to this booklet everything God
had wrought for the world by his means was now forgotten; all were
against him and threatened him with death. He had even lived to see the
phrase, that “the lords might merit heaven by shedding their blood,”
regarded--though perhaps only ironically--as a denial of his doctrine
that there was no possibility of deserving heaven by works. “God help
us,” they cried, “how has Luther so far forgotten himself! He who
formerly taught that a man could arrive at grace and be saved only by
faith alone!”[569]

The effect of the reproaches of excessive severity showed itself,
nevertheless, to a certain extent in the pamphlet which Luther composed
between the 17th and 22nd May on the defeat of Thomas Münzer. The
title runs: “A terrible account of the judgment of God on Thomas
Münzer, wherein God plainly gives the lie to his spirit and condemns
it.”[570] This writing, it is true, does not deal so directly with the
peasant rising as the two previous ones, and the “circular-letter”
to be treated of below; its chief object is to cite the unfortunate
termination of Münzer’s enterprise as a practical refutation of the
prophetical office he had assumed. But, after the warning which the
author addresses to “all dear Germans,” not excluding the rebellious
peasants, against Münzer’s co-religionists, as the “noxious, false
prophets,” he concludes with this timely exhortation: “Of the lords
and authorities I would make two requests, first that if they prove
victorious they be not over-elated, but fear God, in whose sight they
are very culpable, and secondly, that they be merciful to the prisoners
and to those who surrender, as God is merciful to everyone who resigns
himself into His hands and humbles himself.”

The writing referred to on Münzer’s defeat gives examples of some of
the fanatical letters written by the leader of the Anabaptists. It
was an easy task for Luther to expose their fanaticism and danger.
The fellow’s end “made it plain that God had condemned the spirit of
revolt, and also the rebels themselves.” With bitter mockery he puts
these words into Münzer’s mouth: “I, a befouled prophet, am borne along
on a hurdle to the tower of Heldrungen.” (Luther knew nothing as yet of
Münzer’s death, but only of his imprisonment in Heldrungen.) Therefore
they ought to slay these “dangerous false prophets whom the judgment
of God had unmasked, and return to peace and obedience.” The fanatics
“who teach wrongly and falsely” are not to be regarded as leaders of
the people; “in future the people must beware of them, and strive to
preserve body and soul through the true Word of God.”

In order, however, to give an answer to all the “wiseacres, who wished
to teach him how he should write,”[571] he at once composed the third
work on the subject of the rising, which was now practically at an
end. This is the “Circular-letter on the severe booklet against the
Peasants,” dedicated to the Mansfeld Chancellor, Caspar Müller, one of
those who had informed him of the numerous complaints made against him.

 The concluding words, in which we hear the real Luther speaking, mark
 its purpose: “What I teach and write, remains true, though the whole
 world should fall to pieces over it. If people choose to take up a
 strange attitude towards it, then I will do the same, and we shall see
 who is right in the end.”[572] Such words are sufficient of themselves
 to give an idea of the tone which he adopts in this work, in which he
 goes beyond anything he had already said.

 At the commencement he bravely grapples with the opposition he has
 encountered. “‘There, there,’ they boast, ‘we see Luther’s spirit,
 and that he teaches the shedding of blood without mercy; it must
 be the devil who speaks through him!’” Thus everybody is ready to
 fall on him, such is the ingratitude displayed towards the “great,
 and bright light of the evangel.” “Who is able to gag a fool?” His
 accusers were “doubtless also rebels.” But “a rebel does not deserve a
 reasonable answer, for he will not accept it; the only way to answer
 such foul-mouthed rascals is with the fist, till their noses dribble.
 The peasants would not listen to him or let him speak, therefore their
 ears must be opened by musket bullets so that their heads fly into the
 air.... I will not listen to any talk of mercy, but will give heed to
 what God’s Word demands.”

 “Therefore my booklet is right and true though all the world should be
 scandalised at it.”[573]

 He attacks those who “advocate mercy so beautifully, now that the
 peasants have been defeated.” “It is easy to detect you, you ugly
 black devil”; every robber might as well come, and, after having been
 “sentenced by the judge to be beheaded, cry: ‘But Christ teaches
 that you are to be merciful.’” “This is just what the defenders of
 the peasants are doing” when they “sing their song of mercy”; they
 themselves are the “veriest bloodhounds, for they wish vice to go

 “Here, as in many other places, where Luther has to defend his
 standpoint against attack,” Köstlin says of this writing, “he draws
 the reins tighter instead of easing them.” “Here he no longer sees fit
 to say even one word on behalf of the peasants, notwithstanding the
 real grievances which had caused the rising.”[575]

 At a time, when, after their victory, many of the lords, both Catholic
 and Lutheran, were raging with the utmost cruelty against all the
 vanquished, even against those who had been drawn into the rising
 through no fault of their own, at a time when the loudest exhortations
 to mercy would have been far more in place, he unthinkingly pours
 forth such passionate words as these: “If wrath prevails in the Empire
 then we must be resigned and endure the punishment, or humbly sue for
 pardon.” It is true that those “who are of God’s Kingdom [viz. true
 Christians] must show mercy towards all and pray for them,” but they
 must not “interfere with the secular power and its work, but rather
 assist and further it”; “this wrath of the secular power [this at
 the moment entirely engrosses his thoughts] is not the least part of
 the Divine mercy.” “What a fine sort of mercy would that be, to show
 pity to thieves and murderers and to allow myself to be murdered,
 dishonoured and robbed?” “What more naughty was ever heard of than
 a mad rabble and a peasant gorged with food and drink and grown

 “As I wrote then, so I write now: Let no one take pity on the
 hardened, obstinate and blinded peasants, who will not listen: let
 whoever can and is able, hew down, stab and slay them as one would
 a mad dog.” “It is plain that they are traitorous, disobedient and
 rebellious thieves, robbers, murderers and blasphemers, so that there
 is not one of them who has not deserved to suffer death ten times over
 without mercy.” “The masters have learnt what there is behind a rebel
 ... an ass must be beaten and the rabble be governed by force.”[577]

 The inflammatory letter proceeds to deal with the objections brought
 against the writer; in any case, gainsayers argued, innocent persons
 who had been dragged into the rising by the peasants would “suffer
 injustice in God’s sight by being executed.” Even on this point, on
 which previously he had spoken with more mildness, he now refuses to
 surrender. “First I say that no injustice is done them,” for that no
 Christian man stayed in the ranks of the rebels; and even if such
 fellows had fought only under compulsion, “do you think they are
 thereby excused?” “Why did they allow themselves to be coerced?” They
 ought rather to have suffered death at the hands of the peasants
 than accompany them; owing to the general contempt for the evangel
 God ordains that even the innocent should be punished; besides, the
 innocent ever had to suffer in time of war. “We Germans, who are much
 worse than the olden Jews, and yet are not exiled and slaughtered, are
 the first to murmur, become impatient and seek to justify ourselves,
 refusing to allow even a portion of our nation to be slaughtered.”[578]

 He then boldly confesses his more profound theological view of the
 sanguinary war: “The intention of the devil was to lay Germany waste,
 because he was unable to prevent in any other way the spread of the

 Some of the excuses scattered throughout the pamphlet in reply to the
 objections, whether of his foes, or of critics among the adherents of
 the new faith, are decidedly unfortunate. Offence had been given by
 his inciting “everyone who could and was able” against the rebels,
 and setting up every man as at once “judge and executioner,”[580]
 instead of leaving this to the authorities. Needless to say he sticks
 to his guns. With rhetorical vehemence, he declares that rebels
 “fall upon the Lord with swords drawn.” Rebellion deserves neither
 judgment nor mercy, there is nothing for it but to slaughter without

 He now says he had never taught, “that mercy was not to be shown to
 the prisoners and those who surrendered, as I am accused of having
 done; my booklet proves the contrary.”[582] In point of fact his
 “booklet,” i.e. the pamphlet “Against the murderous Peasants,” does
 not prove the “contrary.”

 So far he had said nothing concerning mercy towards the prisoners;
 this he was to do only later. In his circular-letter he protests--it
 is to be hoped to some purpose--“I do not wish to encourage the
 ferocious tyrants, or to approve their raging, for I hear that some
 of my young squires are behaving beyond measure cruelly to the poor
 people.” Now, he speaks strongly, though rather late in the day,
 against the “ferocious, raging, senseless tyrants who even after
 the battle are not sated with blood,” and even threatens to write
 a special pamphlet against such tyrants. “But such as these,” so
 he excuses himself concerning his previous utterances, “I did not
 undertake to instruct,” but merely “the pious Christian authorities.”

 His opponents, who sympathised with the lot of the vanquished, asked
 why he did not also admonish the authorities who were not pious. He
 replies that this was not part of his duty: “I say once more, for the
 third time, that I wrote merely for the benefit of those authorities
 who were disposed to act rightly and in a Christian manner.”[583] Even
 in this letter he again incites against the peasants, everyone who
 can and by whatever means: he allows, as stated above, anyone to kill
 the rebels, openly or by stealth, nor does he retract the sentence,
 that “every man” who would and was able ought to act towards them as
 both “judge and executioner”; finally he declares that he is unable to
 blame the severity of such authorities as do not act in a Christian
 manner, i.e. “without first offering terms.” In a word, he absolutely
 refuses to remedy the mistakes into which his passion had hurried him,
 but takes pleasure in still further exaggerating them in spite of the
 scandal caused.

“The Catholic bishops at once laid the blame of the peasant rising at
the door of the ‘great murderer’ of Wittenberg,” so writes Luther’s
most recent biographer, “as having been his work.[584] The peasants
themselves in many instances believed this, while Luther himself
admitted a certain complicity. ‘They went out from us; but they are
not of us,’ he says in the words of the First Epistle of St. John (ii.
19). The natural connection of ideas necessarily implied that the
spirit of reform which had been let loose was not to work on the Church
alone. If all that was rotten in the Church was to fall, why should
so much that was rotten in the Empire remain? If all the demands of
the Papacy were to be rejected, why should those of squiredom be held
sacred? If Luther might treat Duke George of Saxony and King Henry
VIII of England as fools and scoundrels, why should more regard be
shown to the smaller fry, the petty counts and lords? If the peasant,
by virtue of the common priesthood of all Christians, was capable of
reforming the Church, why should he not have his say in the question of
hunting-rights and the right of pasture? The kernel of the Wittenberg
preaching was that all man-made ordinances were worthless, and that one
thing only was to be considered, viz. the Word of God. The Pope was
Antichrist, the Emperor a scarecrow, the Princes and Bishops simple
dummies. How could such words of Luther fail to be seized on with
avidity by the oppressed, down-trodden, and shamelessly victimised
peasantry? The forces which, owing to the religious disturbances, now
broke loose, would, however, have done their work even without Luther’s

It was not only the “Catholic bishops,” however, who accused Luther of
being the instigator of the rising, but also intelligent laymen who
were observing the times with a watchful eye. The jurist Ulrich Zasius,
who at one time had been inclined to favour Luther, wrote in the year
of the revolt to his friend Amerbach: “Luther, the destroyer of peace,
the most pernicious of men, has plunged the whole of Germany into such
madness, that we now consider ourselves lucky if we are not slain on
the spot.” He regrets the treaty made on May 24, 1525, at Freiburg
im Breisgau, where he lived, on its capitulation to the rebels, in
which provision was made for the “Disclosure of the Holy Evangel of
godly truth and the defence of godly righteousness.” That the “holy
evangel” and “godly truth” should only now be disclosed at Freiburg,
called forth his sarcasm. In the treaty, he says, “There is much that
is in bad taste and ridiculous, as we might expect from peasants,
for instance, their demand that the gospel be esteemed, or, as they
say, ‘upheld’; as though this had not been done long before by every

In 1525 Cochlæus published a criticism on Luther’s work “Against
the murderous Peasants,” where he says, “Now that the poor, unhappy
peasants have lost the wager, you go over to the princes. But in the
previous booklet, when there was still a good chance of their success,
you wrote very differently.”[586]

Erasmus, who was closely observing Luther, says to him, in view of
the fighting which still continued spasmodically: “We are now reaping
the fruit of your spirit. You do not acknowledge the rebels, but they
acknowledge you, and it is well known that many who boast of the name
of the evangel have been instigators of the horrible revolt. It is
true you have attempted in your grim booklet against the peasants to
allay this suspicion, but nevertheless you cannot dispel the general
conviction that this mischief was caused by the books you sent forth
against the monks and bishops, in favour of evangelical freedom, and
against the tyrants, more especially by those written in German.”[587]

It would appear that Luther himself had no difficulty whatever in
forming his conscience and accepting the responsibility. On one
occasion in later years, looking back upon the events of the unhappy
rising, he declared, that he was completely at ease concerning the
advice he had given to the authorities against the peasants, in spite
of the sanguinary results. “Preachers,” he says, in his usual drastic
mode of expression, “are the biggest murderers about, for they admonish
the authorities to fulfil their duty and to punish the wicked. I,
Martin Luther, slew all the peasants in the rebellion, for I said
they should be slain; all their blood is upon my head. But I cast it
on our Lord God, Who commanded me to speak in this way.” His usual
persuasion, viz. that he was God’s instrument, here again helps him.
He gives us, however, a further reason: The devil and the ungodly also
slew not a few, but it is a very different matter when the authorities
punish the wicked, for they are fulfilling a duty.[588]

Luther, after the appearance of these pamphlets, in various other
publications asked that leniency should be shown towards the peasants
who had been handled all too severely. In a private letter on behalf of
the son of a citizen of Eisleben, who had been taken prisoner, we also
meet with some fine recommendations in this sense.[589]

He was not, however, successful in calming the general ill-feeling
aroused by his violent invective against the “murderous peasants.”
His former popularity and his power over the masses were gone. After
1525 he lost his close touch with the people, and was obliged more and
more to seek the assistance necessary for his cause in the camp of the
Princes. For this change of front he was branded as a “hypocrite,” and
“slave of Princes,” by many of the discontented.[590] “The springtime
of the reformation was over,” says Hausrath. “Luther no longer passed
from one triumph to another as he had during the first seven years of
his career. He himself says: ‘Had not the revolted peasants fouled the
water for my fishing, things would look very different for the Papacy!’
The hope to overthrow completely the Roman rule in Germany by means of
a united, overwhelmingly powerful, popular movement had become a mere

       *       *       *       *       *

The Catholic princes of North Germany chose that very time to bind
themselves more closely together for self-defence against the social
revolution, and to repel Lutheranism. By the league of Dessau on July
19, 1525, they followed the example set by the bishops and dukes of
South Germany, who had likewise, at Ratisbon, taken common measures for
self-protection. The soul of the league was Duke George of Saxony;
Joachim of Brandenburg, Albert of Mayence and Magdeburg, and Henry and
Erich of Brunswick also joined him. An account given by Duke George,
at the period when the league was established, throws a clearer light
upon the motives which inspired it. Written under the influence of
the horrors of the previous weeks, it breathes the indignation of its
author at the part which Lutheranism had played in the misfortune,
and looks around for some means by which the “root of the rebellion,
the damned Lutheran sect, may be extirpated; the revolt inspired by
the Lutheran evangel had led to the diminution of the honour and
service of God, and had been undertaken with a view to damaging the
clergy, prelates and the lower orders of the aristocracy, nor could
it well be completely quelled except by the rooting out of these same
Lutherans.”[592] Duke George at that time entertained hopes--not
justified by events--of being able, by appealing to the experiences of
the Peasant-War, to alienate from Luther, Philip, Landgrave of Hesse,
and Johann, Elector of Saxony, who had just commenced his reign.

The above-mentioned Princes, who were Catholic in their views, met
together in Leipzig at Christmas, 1525, in order--as representatives
of the Catholic faith, the principles of which were being endangered
in Germany--to induce the Emperor to provide some remedy in accordance
with the provisions of the Diet of Worms.

The prolonged absence of the Emperor Charles from Germany, due to
his concern in European politics, was one of the principal causes of
the growing disturbances. To recall him to Germany and invite him to
interfere was the object of a measure taken by certain ecclesiastics
at a meeting held at Mayence on November 14, 1525. Delegates from the
twelve provinces of Mayence assembled at the instance of the Chapter
of Spires. It was a remarkable fact that the bishops themselves,
who by the indifference they displayed had, as a body, roused the
dissatisfaction of zealous Churchmen, did not attend, but only members
of the Chapters. They determined to insist upon their bishops making
a stand against the revolutionary Lutheran preaching, to send a
deputation to the Pope and the Emperor with an account of the general
mischief which had befallen Germany by reason of the apostasy, and
finally to urge the Emperor to return to Germany, and meanwhile to
name executors for carrying out the orders he might give for the
preservation of religion according to law. George of Saxony, Archduke
Ferdinand of Austria and the Bavarian Dukes were to be proposed to
the Emperor as such executors. The deputation from the Chapters
was, however, never sent, owing apparently to the lack of interest
displayed by those Chapters which assembled, and by those which were
invited but did not send the necessary funds. The zealous Dean of
Mayence Cathedral, Lorenz Truchsess von Pommersfelden, found himself
practically left single-handed.[593]

Upon learning what resolutions had been passed, Luther wrote, in March,
1526, a tract of frightful violence against the “Mayence Proposal”; it
was, however, suppressed by the Electoral Court of Saxony, owing to
the intervention of Duke George.[594] The Emperor, notwithstanding his
promise to arrive speedily, did not reach Germany until 1530, after
having achieved great success abroad. He came with the firm intention
to oppose the religious revolution with the utmost vigour, and to place
the Imperial authority on a firmer footing.

Meanwhile, the Courts of Saxony and Hesse, whose sympathies were with
the Lutheran party, had, however, at Gotha entered into a defensive
alliance which was finally concluded at Torgau on May 2, 1526.
The Emperor’s threats, which had become known, did their part in
bringing this about; and a further result of the Emperor’s letters
against the “wicked Lutheran cause and errors” was, that the Dukes
of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Philip of Brunswick-Grubenhagen, Henry of
Mecklenburg, Wolfgang of Anhalt and Albert of Mansfeld also joined the

Luther was greatly rejoiced at this proof of the favour of the Princes,
but, as yet, he refused to commit himself on the question as to whether
force might be used against the Emperor and the Empire. (See vol. iii.,
xv. 3.)

As a consequence of the Peasant-War the Princes grew in power, while
the people lost many rights and liberties which they had previously

“The practical outcome of the great popular movement was deplorable,”
writes F. G. Ward. “The condition of the common people became even
worse than before, and the national feeling which had begun to arise
again degenerated into particularism in the vast number of small,
independent States.”[595] Just as the common people ascribed their
misfortunes to Luther, who, at the critical moment, had deserted the
cause of the peasants, so likewise many of the nobility were angry
with him because of the discontent which his teaching fostered. The
confiscation of Church property by the nobility roused the hatred of
many of the powerful against Luther, whose aim it was to favour the
rapacity only of such as were favourable to his cause.

When, in February, 1530, Luther’s father lay on his death-bed, the fear
of his enemies prevented the son undertaking the journey through the
flat country to see him. He accordingly wrote to him, explaining why
he was unable to leave Wittenberg: “My good friends have dissuaded me
from it, and I myself am forced to believe that I may not tempt God by
venturing into this peril, for you know the kind of favour I may expect
from lord or peasant.”[596]

This dislike on the part of both the peasants and the lords, which
he frequently admits, has been taken as a proof that he did his duty
towards both in an impartial manner. It would, however, be more correct
to say, that he failed in his duty towards both parties, first to the
lords and then to the peasants, and that on both occasions his mistake
was closely bound up with his public position, i.e. with his preaching
of the new faith. He advocated the cause of the peasants with the
intention of thereby introducing the evangel amongst the people, while
he supported the lords in order to counteract the pernicious results
of the socio-religious movement which resulted, and to exonerate the
evangel from the charge of preaching revolt. There is, as a matter of
fact, no ground for the charge of “duplicity” brought against him
by his opponents; the changing circumstances determined his varying
action, and so little did he disguise his thoughts, that on both
occasions his strong language increased the evil.[597]

The unfavourable feeling which prevailed towards the peasants at once
influenced his views concerning the duty of the authorities. That the
authorities should meet every transgression of the law on the part of
the people by severe measures, appears to him more and more as one of
their principal obligations.

In 1526, at the instance of a stranger, he caused one of his sermons
to be printed, in which he says to the people: “Because God has given
a law and knows that no one keeps it, He has also appointed lictors,
drivers and overseers, for Scripture speaks thus of the authorities in
a parable; like the donkey-drivers who have to lie on the neck of their
beasts and whip them to make them go. In the same way the authorities
must drive, beat and slay the people, Messrs. Omnes, hang, burn, behead
and break them on the wheel, that they may be kept in awe.” “As the
swine and wild beasts have to be driven and restrained by force,” so
the authorities must insist upon the keeping of the laws.[598] So far
does he go as to declare that the best thing that could come about
would be the revival of serfdom and slavery.[599]

At a later date he frequently depicted the peasants, quite generally,
as rascals, and poured forth bitter words of anger against them. “A
peasant is a hog,” he says in 1532, “for when a hog is slaughtered
it is dead, and in the same way the peasant does not think about the
next life, for otherwise he would behave very differently.”[600] The
following date also from the same period: “The peasant remains a
boor, do what you will”; they have, so he says, their mouth, nose,
eyes and everything else in the wrong place.[601] “I believe that the
devil does not mind the peasants”; he “despises them as he does leaden
pennies”; he thinks “he can easily manage to secure them for himself,
as they will assuredly be claimed by no one.”[602] “A peasant who is a
Christian is like a wooden poker.”[603] To a candidate for marriage he
wrote: “My Katey sends you this friendly warning, to beware of marrying
a country lass, for they are rude and proud, cannot get on well with
their husbands and know neither how to cook nor to brew.”[604]

       *       *       *       *       *

“The peasants as well as the nobles throughout the country,” he
complains in 1533, in a letter to Spalatin, “have entered into a
conspiracy against the evangel, though they make use of the liberty of
the gospel in the most outrageous manner. It is not surprising that the
Papists persecute us. God will be our Judge in this matter!” “Oh, the
awful ingratitude of our age. We can only hope and pray for the speedy
coming of our Lord and Saviour [the Last Day].”[605]

       *       *       *       *       *

The psychological picture presented by Luther during the whole of the
year 1525 reveals more plainly than at any other time his state of
morbid excitement. The nervous tension which had been increasing in him
ever since 1517, together with his mental anxiety and the spirit of
defiance, reached their culminating point in the year of his marriage,
a year filled with the most acute struggles.

“His enemies called the temper of the strong man demoniacal,” says a
Protestant historian of the Peasant-War, “and, as a matter of fact,” he
adds, “the Luther we meet with in the writings of the years 1517-1525
bears but little resemblance to the earnest, but cheerful and kindly
husband and father whom Protestants are wont to picture as their

This remark applies with special force to the year 1525 when he
actually became a husband, though more stress should be laid upon
the mental strain he was undergoing. Luther undoubtedly acted at that
time, not only in the matter of the Peasant-War, but also in many other
complex questions, under the influence of an overwrought temper. It
was a period of combined internal and external conflict, which, so
to speak, raised his troubled spirit above the normal conditions of
existence. With the fanatics he had to struggle for the very existence
of his evangel; the contradictions and dissensions within the new fold
also caused him constant anxiety. His controversy with the learned
Erasmus on the subject of Free-Will angered him beyond measure, for
Erasmus, as Luther says, “held the knife to his throat”[607] by his
book in defence of the freedom of the human will. Luther was also at
war with the “wiseacres” who disapproved of his marriage, and had to
vindicate his action also to himself. In feverish delirium he fancies
he sees the jaws of death gaping for him, and feels that the devil
in all his strength has been let loose to seize upon his person, as
the one through whom alone, as he says, truth and salvation are to
be proclaimed to the world. He marries, and then exclaims with fear:
“Perhaps as soon as I am dead my teaching will be overthrown; then my
example may be a source of encouragement to the weak.”[608] “I see
the rabble as well as the nobles raging against me,” but this comfort
remains to me, “however hostile they may be to me on account of my
marriage or other matters, yet their hostility is only a sign that I
am in the right”; “were the world not scandalised at me, then I should
indeed fear that what we do was not from God.”[609]

The idea of his own divine mission, raising him far above the reach of
his enemies, finds expression to quite a marked degree in the letters
he wrote to his friends at that time. In these he is certainly not
speaking of mere fancies, but of views which he was earnestly desirous
of inculcating.

“God has so often trodden Satan under my feet, He has cast down the
lion and the dragon beneath me, He will not allow the basilisk to harm
me!” “Christ began without our counsel, and He will assuredly bring
His work to its completion even contrary to what we would advise....
God works above, and against, and under, and beyond all that we can
conceive.” “It is, however, a grief to me now that these blasphemous
enemies [certain of the preachers] should have been raised to the
ministry and the knowledge of the [Divine] Word through us. May God
convert them and instruct them, or else provide for their removal.
Amen.” He writes thus to his friend Nicholas Amsdorf, the later
“bishop,” who, perhaps of all his friends, was the one most likely to
have a real comprehension for language of this stamp.[610]

In utter contrast to the opinion Luther here expressed of himself
stands the description sketched by Hieronymus Emser of his person and
his work.

One of Luther’s humanistic followers, Euricius Cordus, had published
in 1525, in Latin verse, the so-called “Antilutheromastix” (scourge
of the antilutherans), in which he heaped scorn upon those literary
men who defended the Church against Luther. Emser himself was attacked
in the work for his championship of the older Church. Emser, however,
replied in a work, also couched in Latin hexameters and entitled
“Justification of the Catholics in reply to the invective of the
physician Euricius Cordus, and his Antilutheromastix.”[611] Under the
influence of the strong impression made upon him by Luther’s marriage
and the Peasant-War he has therein inserted some verses expressing his
indignation against Luther; from these we quote here some extracts.
The language reflects plainly Luther’s personality as it appeared in
the eyes of Emser and many of the Catholic controversialists of that
day, and thus serves to mirror the development and progress of the
intellectual struggle.[612]

 “God commanded vows to be kept, but Luther tears them to pieces.
 Christ commended those who renounced matrimony, but Luther praises
 those who wantonly violate chastity. Purity is pleasing in the sight
 of heaven, but to this height Luther cannot raise himself. Luther
 at one time renounced matrimony by a sacred promise made in the
 presence of God, but now he plunges into it because he, the monk,
 has been led astray by his passion for a nun. Whereas our Saviour
 lived unmarried, he, the unhappy and faithless man, desires to take a
 wife. Christ gave an example of humility, this man is proud and even
 rises in impudent rebellion against the authorities. He launches out
 into torrents of abuse and vituperation (“_Maledictorum plaustris
 iniurius_”). He heaps up mountains of insults, he burns the sacred
 laws and mocks at God and man in the same way as did the old tyrants
 of Sicily. Christ is the friend of peace, but this fellow calls to
 arms. He invites the raging mob to wash their hands in the blood of
 the clergy. He provokes and incites the masses under the screen of
 a false freedom so that they audaciously refuse to pay tithes, dues
 and taxes, and ruthlessly conspire against the life of the lords.” In
 Emser’s opinion it was Luther’s word and writings which caused the
 conflagration. “He persuaded the people to look on him as a prophet,
 and to set his foolish fancies on a level with the oracles of heaven.
 The German people, as though stupefied with drink, rise and follow
 him in a terrible tumult, turning their blood-stained weapons against

 The poet then directs the attention of the reader to the crowds of
 people massacred and the strongholds consumed by fire. “The priest,
 robbed of his means of livelihood and without a church, wanders to
 and fro; in the families grief and dissension reign; the nun who has
 forfeited her honour and her chastity, weeps. This, Luther, is the
 result of your fine writings. Whoever says that you took them from the
 Word of Christ and that the clear light of the gospel shines through
 them, must indeed have been struck with blindness. None is more fickle
 than Luther; nowhere does he remain true to himself; first he commits
 his cause to the appointed judge, then he refuses to abide by the
 decision or to acknowledge any jurisdiction on earth. At one time he
 recognises all the seven Sacraments, at another only three, and no
 doubt he will soon admit none at all.”

 This man, Emser continues, Cordus presumes to compare with Moses, the
 sublime, divinely appointed leader of the Israelites! This audacious
 comparison he is at pains to disprove by setting the qualities of the
 one side by side with those of the other. He says for instance: Moses
 sanctified the people, “but your Luther gives the reins to sinful
 lusts. The people, after casting off all the wholesome restrictions
 of the ancient laws of morality, are bereft of all discipline, of all
 fear either of God or the authorities; virtue disappears, law and
 justice totter.... The heart of the German race has been hardened
 to stone; sunk in the mire, and given over to their passions, they
 despise all the gifts they have received of God. The children suck in
 the errors of their parents with their mothers’ milk and follow their
 example, learn to blaspheme, are proud and thankless and thus become
 the ruin of their country. To this has your unhappy Moses brought
 them.” And now Luther was seeking to make further conquests by means
 of a flood of popular writings, embellished with pictures, verses and
 songs so as to penetrate more easily into the minds of the unwary;
 with this aim in view he did not even spare the Bible, circulating
 false translations and explaining it by venomous glosses. “How many
 thousand souls have not his writings already brought to eternal
 perdition! They fancied that in them they found the truth, and were
 miserably deceived by such doctrines.” What confusion, he says, will
 not be occasioned in the future among those who hang upon his words,
 by his translation of the Bible.

 “Go now, Cordus, and compare this man with Moses, the liar with
 the truth-loving saint, the wild stormer with the meek and patient
 leader of the people. Luther, desirous of leading us out of the Roman
 bondage, casts us into an unhappy spiritual bondage; he drags us from
 light into darkness, from heaven down to hell.”

What is pleasing in the long poem, apart from the smooth Latin verse,
is the generous recognition which Emser bestows on the numerous other
defenders of the Church, who, like himself, as he says, have withstood
Luther vigorously and successfully with their pen. Among these he
singles out for special mention Eck, Faber, Cochlæus, Dietenberger and
others. His frank admission that much in the Church stood in need of
improvement and that a real Catholic reformer would be welcome to all,
is also worthy of notice. He shares the desire, which at that time was
making itself so strongly felt in Catholic circles, that the Emperor,
as the highest temporal authority, should now lend his assistance to
the Church and give the impetus necessary towards the accomplishment of
the longed-for renewal. “ But though we do not defend the old abuses,
yet we condemn Luther’s foolish new doctrines. The rule of the earlier
ages of the Church ought to shine in front of us to guide our life as
well as to determine dogma. We must cling to the narrow way of the
gospel and to the apostolic precepts, the decrees of the Fathers and
the written and unwritten tradition as taught by the Holy Ghost who
guides the Church. For the success of the reform it is certainly not
necessary to overthrow the existing human and divine order of things,
or to fill the weary world with noisy strife. The Emperor has it in his
hands, let him only follow the example of so many of his predecessors
who helped the Church to renew her youth, particularly Charles the
Great and his pious son Lewis.”

Luther, meanwhile, was straining every nerve in the cause of the
intellectual revolution of which the plan floated in his mind. It
seemed as though he were incapable of fatigue.

His numerous labours, his constant cares and the excessive mental
strain are apparent from his letters. He writes of a supposed portent
in the world of nature. “The omen fills me with fear, it can presage
nothing but evil.” “I am altogether immersed in Erasmus,” he says,
“I shall take care not to let anything slip, for not a single word
of his is true:” he writes thus to Spalatin.[613] “Every day I am
overwhelmed with complaints from our parishes,” he laments to the
pastor of Zwickau: “Satan is busy in our midst. The people absolutely
refuse to pay anything towards the support of the preachers.” He
intends, he says, to persuade the Elector to organise a visitation of
all the churches throughout the land, he is also anxious to introduce
uniformity in matters of ritual; all this involves him in a hundred
difficulties.[614] Disagreements with the Zwinglians of Strasburg cause
some trouble. At the same time the negotiations with the Teutonic Order
call for his whole care and attention, the apostasy and marriage of
Albert, the Grand Master, greatly raising his hopes.

It was in this frame of mind, and in the midst of all this manifold
business, that Luther threw himself into the controversy on man’s
free-will. It was his object to establish a literary foundation for his
new doctrines as a whole by vindicating a pet doctrine on account of
which he had been so mercilessly attacked.[615]

3. The Religion of the Enslaved Will. The Controversy between Luther
and Erasmus (1524-1525)

That the will is free is one of the most indisputable facts of our
inner consciousness. Where there is reason there must needs be a
corresponding freedom, i.e. freedom from interior necessity.

Freedom is the basis of all worship of God, and if external compulsion
is rightly excluded from the idea of religion, surely still more
opposed to it is the assumption that the will lacks freedom when it
seeks and serves God. The true dignity of the soul’s worship of God
consists in the voluntary payment of homage to the highest of all
beings in the natural as well as the supernatural order. “God has made
you without your co-operation,” says Augustine, “but He will not save
you without it.”[616] God’s greatness and omnipotence are enhanced by
His creation of beings gifted with the power of self-determination,
who can will or not, who are free to choose this or that and are in a
position to embrace what is good instead of what is evil.

 The consensus of the human race as a whole in the belief in free-will
 finds its expression in the acknowledgment of the sense of duty.
 Virtue and vice, command and prohibition are written on every page of
 history since the world began. If however there is such a thing as a
 moral order, then free-will must exist. The misuse of the latter is
 followed, owing to the spontaneous protest on the part of nature, by a
 feeling of guilt and remorse, whence Augustine, the champion of grace
 and free-will, could say: “The feeling of remorse is a witness both to
 the fact that the individual who feels it has acted wrongly and that
 he might have acted aright.”[617]

 The doctrine of the Church before Luther’s time was, that free-will
 had not been destroyed by original sin, and that, in one who acts
 aright, it is not interfered with by God’s grace. The fall of our
 first parents did not obliterate but merely weakened and warped the
 freedom of moral choice by giving rise to concupiscence and the
 movements of passion. Among the many proofs of this appealed to in
 Holy Scripture were the words spoken by God to Cain: “Why art thou
 angry?... If thou do well, shalt thou not receive? but if ill, shall
 not sin forthwith be present at the door? but the lust thereof shall
 be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it.”[618] It was well
 known that Scripture always credited even the fallen will with power
 over the lower impulses, as well as with the choice between good and
 evil, life and death, the service of God and the service of idols.

 Seeing that Luther, in teaching the contrary, appealed to the power of
 divine grace which ostensibly does all, obliterating every free deed,
 it is worth our while to point out the scriptural proofs by which the
 Church vindicated man’s liberty even under the action of grace.

 Ecclesiastical writers, even in the days immediately before Luther’s
 time, were fond of laying stress on the words of the Apostle of the
 Gentiles: “We exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in
 vain”; or, again, on that other passage where he says of himself: “His
 grace in me was not void, but I laboured more than they all, yet not
 I, but the grace of God in me.” It was because he was conscious of
 freedom and of the power of abusing grace that the Apostle exhorted
 the Philippians as follows: “Work out your salvation with fear and
 trembling.”[619] Catholic writers likewise pointed out that the same
 inspired teaching concerning the liberty of choice in those called to
 the state of grace was also to be found in the Old Testament: “Choose
 therefore life that thou mayst love the Lord thy God,” an exhortation
 prefaced by the most solemn assurance: “I call heaven and earth to
 witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing
 and cursing.”[620]

 True Catholic mysticism also laid great stress on free-will, and if
 some mystical writers, led astray by semi-pantheistic or quietistic
 ideas, erred from the right path, at any rate their views were
 never sanctioned by the Church. Some mystics also were not rightly
 understood and the denial of free-will was attributed to them, whereas
 all there is to censure in them is their vague mode of expression.
 This is the case with the “Theologia Deutsch,” which Luther esteemed
 so highly but did not rightly comprehend. What the Frankfurt knight
 of the Teutonic Order says in this work, viz.: “When a man is in the
 state of grace and agreeable to God, he wills and yet it is not he
 who wills, but God, and there the will is not its own,” may sound
 equivocal, though it really is perfectly harmless, for the words which
 follow show that he does not deny man’s will, and that when he says
 that God Himself wills in man he is merely emphasising the harmony
 between the human and the Divine will: “And there nothing else is
 willed but what God wills, for there God wills and not man, the will
 being united to the Eternal Will.”[621] The will which thus acts in
 union with the Eternal Will is the free-will of man on earth.

 If Luther, instead of endeavouring to find support for his opinions
 on such misunderstood passages, had examined with an open mind the
 teaching of the Church as expressed by Augustine, the greatest
 teacher on grace, he would have found, that Augustine holds fast
 to the liberty of the will notwithstanding that in his defence of
 grace he had to lay greater stress on the latter than on free-will.
 This Doctor of the Church brilliantly refutes the assertion of the
 Pelagians, that the Catholic doctrine did not allow to free-will its
 full rights. “We also, teach freedom of choice (‘_liberum in hominibus
 esse arbitrium_’),” he says, for instance. “On this point at least
 there is no difference between us and you. It is not on account
 of this doctrine that you are Pelagians, but because you exclude
 from free-will the co-operation of grace in the performance of good

 The Catholic doctrine represented all good-doing on man’s part--by
 which he rendered himself pleasing to God, attained to the state
 of justification and the right to an eternal reward--as an act
 organically one, effected equally by God’s Grace and by man’s free
 co-operation. Even in the preparation for the state of grace both
 elements were held to be essential, actual grace, and human effort
 supported and carried on by such grace. Concerning such preparation,
 theology taught that man thereby made himself in some way worthy of
 justification and of heaven, that he merited both, though not indeed
 in the strict sense, rather that, so to speak, he rendered himself
 deserving of justification as an unmerited reward, bestowed through
 the bountiful goodness of God (i.e. not “_de condigno_” but “_de
 congruo_”). Further examination of the scholastic teaching on this
 point would here be out of place, nor can we discuss the principle
 to which the Church ever adhered so firmly, viz. that God gives
 His grace to all without exception, because He wills to make all
 without exception eternally happy, according to the assurance of Holy
 Scripture: “God wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge
 of the truth.” But as regards man’s free-will or want of free-will
 under the action of grace, which is the background of the present
 phase of Luther’s history, according to the Church and her Doctors
 man’s freedom of choice, far from being deranged by the action of
 God’s grace, is, on the contrary, thereby assisted to arrive at a
 wholesome and unfettered decision. “Free-will,” says Augustine, in his
 striking and thoughtful way, “is not destroyed because it is assisted
 by grace; it is assisted because it has not been destroyed.”[623]

The position which Luther had assumed in the Commentary on Romans
in 1515-1516 concerning the doctrine of human free-will has already
been discussed in detail (vol. i., p. 202 ff.). It is of the utmost
importance to follow up his other statements on free-will dating
from that period, and the subsequent advance in his views during his
public struggle till the publication of the decisive book “_De servo
arbitrio_” in 1525. It not only affords a deep, psychological and
theological insight into his train of thought, but also shows how his
denial of free-will was the central point of his whole teaching. At the
same time we shall notice certain emphatic statements which he makes,
but which do not usually occupy a due place in descriptions of his
theology and which accordingly might easily be regarded by our readers
as not his at all, were they not attested conscientiously and in detail
by Luther’s own writings. We refer to such assertions as the following:
“Everything happens of necessity”; “Man, when he does what is evil, is
not master of himself”; “Man does evil because God ceases to work in
him”; “By virtue of His nature God’s ineluctable concursus determines
everything, even the most trivial,” hence “inevitable necessity”
compels us in “all that we do and everything that happens,” “God alone
moves and impels all that He has made” (“_movet agit, rapit_”), nay,
“He decrees all things in advance by His infallible will,” including
the inevitable damnation of those who are damned.--We shall hear these
views expounded below by Luther himself as the core and kernel of his
teaching (“_summa causæ_”); with spirit and energy he advocates them
through some hundred pages in one of his principal works, against the
greatest of the Humanists, who had dared to attack him; to question his
fundamental dogma was, says Luther, to “place the knife at his throat.”

_The Development of Luther’s Opposition to Free-Will from 1516 to 1524_

What Luther advanced in his Commentary on Romans, against man’s power
of choice for what is good, has been summed up as follows by Johann
Ficker, the editor of the Commentary: Luther allowed nothing to deter
him from following up his new theories, nor did he even shrink from
setting up the proposition of “the absolute impossibility of any
good in the natural sphere,” or from “stating in the strongest terms
of determinism the exclusive power and action of the salutary and
unconditional Divine Will.”[624]

In his sermon on the Feast of St. Stephen, in 1515, Luther had spoken
of the inward voice in man (“_synteresis_”), which urges him towards
what is good and to true happiness, thereby implying the admission of
free-will in man. This, he says, is capable of accepting or refusing
God’s grace, though he is careful to add that the remnant of vital
force represented by the synteresis does not indicate a condition
of health nor afford any cause for boasting in God’s sight, the
whole state of man being one of corruption; the synteresis, in fact,
constitutes a danger to us because it leads us to trust in our own
powers (“_voluntas, sapientia_”), so that we are readily induced to
regard our restoration by grace as unnecessary. Such confidence in
his own powers leads man to place himself on the side of those who
crucified Christ, for such a one has a wrong opinion of righteousness
and looks on Christ as superfluous, who is the source of righteousness.
“Thus it comes about,” he cries, “that grace is most strongly opposed
by those who boast most of it”; a paradoxical saying which often occurs
in Luther’s early sermons and which plainly owes its origin to his
quarrel with the “Little Saints.”[625]

Not here alone, but frequently in the sermons of those days, we
hear Luther warning the people against misusing the synteresis. His
opposition to man’s natural powers leads him at times so far that he
represents the synteresis merely as a vague and practically worthless
faculty. It is true he declares that he simply wishes to obviate an
irreligious over-esteem of free-will, but he really goes further,
now admitting, now rejecting it; his explanations let us see that
“here there is an unsolved contradiction in his theology. He fails
to explain how the remnant of vital force still in us is to be made
use of by Divine grace so as to produce health,” and how “it can be
of any importance or worth for the attainment of salvation in the
domain of reason and will.” “Is there, then, no right use for the
synteresis? Luther not only tells us nothing of this, but the natural
consequence of much that he says is an answer to the question in the
negative, although it should undoubtedly have been answered in the

If we cast a glance at the other sermons which coincide in point of
time with his Commentary on Romans, we shall find in certain remarks
on the regeneration of man a foretaste of his later teaching regarding
free-will. He says, for instance, of the attainment of the state
of grace, that here regeneration takes place not only “without our
seeking, praying, knocking, simply by the mercy of God,” but also that
it resembles natural generation, where the child does nothing (“_ipso
nihil agente_”); no man can be born for heaven by his own operation
and merits (“_sua opera suoque merito_”). He contrasts those who are
generated of God “in the spirit” with those who live after the flesh,
and who often “make a great show of spirituality”: they are, he says,
“carnal-spiritual” and, “with their horrid, hypocritical spirituality,
are doomed to destruction.”[627]

According to these sermons it is plain that God is the only worker in
the man who is thus born of God. In him free-will for doing what is
good does not come into account, for the good works of the righteous
man are God’s works, and his virtues and excellence are really God’s.
“He works all in all, all is His, He, the One Almighty Being, does all
things,” so we read in Luther’s sermon on August 15, 1516, the Feast
of the Assumption, i.e. at a time when by his study of the Epistle to
the Romans he had been confirmed in his bias against man’s natural

 The Wittenberg Disputation in 1516, “On man’s powers and will without
 grace,” immediately followed his lectures on the Epistle to the
 Romans; here we find it stated in plain words, that “man’s will
 without grace is not free, but captive, though not unwillingly.”[629]
 To complete what has already been said (vol. i., p. 310 ff.) we
 may add that the proof of this is sought in that the will sins in
 everything, and that, according to Scripture, “Whoever sins is the
 slave of sin.” We learn also from the Bible, we read, that we are
 then truly free when the Son (of God) makes us free. The natural man
 without grace is an evil tree, as such he can only desire and do what
 is evil. This degradation of the human will was intended to form the
 basis for a new appreciation of the grace and merits of Christ.

 It is probable that the three fragments, “On the unfreedom of the
 human will,” etc., which are in agreement with this last Disputation,
 date from the late autumn of 1516. Here “the captivity and slavery
 of the will” (“_voluntas necessario serva et captiva_”) with regard
 to the doing of what is good, i.e. “to merit and demerit,” is again
 emphasised. Freedom in respect of “those other, lower matters which
 come under the dominion of the will” is indeed conceded.[630] But as
 the modern Protestant editor of the texts in question remarks, “even
 this freedom is merely apparent,”[631] for Luther says briefly but
 meaningly: “I do not deny that the will is free, or rather _seems
 to itself_ to be free (‘_imo videatur sibi libera_’)[632] by the
 freedom of contrariety and of contradiction with regard to its lower
 objects.” Here we already have a clear indication of the determinism
 which Luther was to advocate at a later date, according to which God’s
 Omnipotence works all things in man, even indifferent matters.[633] In
 these fragments it is, however, chiefly a question of moral actions.
 Where it is a question of acts having some moral value Luther’s answer
 is already quite definite: “The will when confronted with temptation
 cannot without grace avoid falling; by its own powers it is able to
 will only what is evil.”[634]

 A year later the “Disputation against the theology of the Schoolmen”
 of September 4, 1517, which has been already described generally (vol.
 i., p. 312), laid the axe at the root of free-will in respect of what
 is good; its tenor is even more decided, and it greatly exaggerates
 the corruption of man by original sin: “It is false that the will is
 free to choose between a thing and its contrary [in the moral order];
 without grace the human will must of necessity do what is opposed to
 the will of God.” Hence nature “must be put to death absolutely.”[635]

 Concerning the Heidelberg Disputation in April, 1518, we need only
 recall the fact, that Luther caused the thesis to be defended, that,
 after the Fall, free-will is but a name, and that when man does the
 best he can, he simply commits a mortal sin. The doctrine of the
 sinfulness of the works performed by the natural man, which he had
 held even previously, he now supplements by an addition, in the nature
 of a challenge: “_Liberum arbitrium post peccatum res est de solo

In the Disputation with Eck at Leipzig in the following year, owing to
his views on the subject not yet being generally known, they were not
directly discussed.

When, however, after its termination, Luther, in August, 1519,
published the Latin “Resolutions” on the Leipzig Disputation, he
proclaimed himself to the world as a most determined opponent of
free-will, not even confining himself to attacking the power for doing
what is good.

“Free-will,” he says here, “is purely passive in every one of its acts
(‘_in omni actu suo_’) which can come under the term of will.... A
good act comes wholly and entirely (‘_totus et totaliter_’) from God,
because the whole activity of the will consists in the Divine action
which extends to the members and powers of both body and soul, no
other activity existing.”[637] In another passage of the “Resolutions”
he says: “At whatever hour of our life we may find ourselves we are
the slaves either of concupiscence or of charity, for both govern
free-will (‘_utraque enim dominabitur libero arbitrio_’).”[638] Julius
Köstlin is right when he sees in such words the complete renunciation
of free-will. “Of man’s free-will in the ordinary sense of the term,
or of any independent choice for good or for evil which should include
the possibility of a different decision, there is, according to Luther,
no question.” Köstlin points out that Luther does not here go into
the question as to whether the sinfulness and corruption of the lost
are to be attributed to God, Who did not cause His saving grace to be
sufficiently efficacious in them.[639] Luther certainly contrived to
avoid this dangerous objection, not only here, but also for long after
when speaking on the subject of the will.

In the “Resolutions” Luther had merely represented his opposition to
free-will as the consequence of his doctrine of the corruption of
human nature due to original sin, but subsequent to the appearance of
the Bull of Excommunication he goes further and declares the denial
of the “_liberum arbitrium_” to be nothing less than the fundamental
article of his teaching (“_articulus omnium optimus et rerum nostrarum
summa_”).[640] Among the propositions condemned by the Papal Bull
was Luther’s thesis directed against free-will at the Heidelberg
Disputation. It was given in Luther’s own words, viz. that free-will is
a mere empty name, etc.

In defence of the condemned propositions Luther wrote, in 1520, the
“_Assertio omnium articulorum_,” which was published in 1521. To prove
his denial of free-will it is usual to quote his “_De servo arbitrio_,”
but the “_Assertio_” already contains in substance all the strictures
embodied in his later attacks.

 After dealing with other subjects, he there declares that, as for the
 question of free-will, he had expressed himself far too feebly when
 speaking of the semblance of freedom; the term “_liberum arbitrium_”
 was a device of the devil; hence he withdraws his previous statement
 which erred on the side of weakness; he ought to have said that
 free-will was a lie, an invention (“_figmentum in rebus_”). “No one
 has the power even to think anything evil or good, but everything
 takes place agreeably with stern necessity (‘_omnia de necessitate
 absolute eveniunt_’), as Wiclif rightly taught, though his proposition
 was condemned by the Council of Constance.”[641]

 Luther now appeals to the belief in fate with which the heathen were
 already acquainted. He also appeals to the Gospel which surely gives
 him reason, for does not Christ say (Matt. x.): “Not a sparrow shall
 fall to the ground without your Father in Heaven,” and “the very
 hairs of your head are all numbered”? And in Isaias xli. does not
 God mockingly challenge the people: “Do ye also good and evil if you
 can”? The Pope and the defenders of the Bull, with their doctrine of
 free-will, he looks upon as prophets of Baal and he calls to them
 ironically: “Cheer up and be men; do what you can, attempt what is
 possible, and prepare yourselves for grace by your own free-will.
 It is a great disgrace that you are unable to produce anything from
 experience in support of your teaching.”

 “The experience of all,” he says boldly, “testifies to the contrary”;
 God has our life in His hands, and how much more all our actions, even
 the most insignificant. It is Pelagian to say that free-will is able,
 by means of earnest effort (“_si studiose laboret_”), to do anything
 good; it is Pelagian to think that the will can prepare itself for
 grace; Pelagian too, is the principle handed down in the schools, that
 God gives His grace to the man who does what he can. For if we do
 what we can, we perform the works of the flesh! “Do we not know the
 works which are of the flesh? St. Paul specifies them, Galatians v.:
 Fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, envies, murders, etc.
 This is what free-will works, i.e. what is of its nature, viz. works
 of death; for in Romans viii. we read: ‘The wisdom of the flesh is
 death and an enemy to God.’ How can we then speak of preparation for
 grace by enmity with God, of preparation for life by death?”[642]

 In these somewhat disorderly effusions of his pen he repeatedly harks
 back to the Bible, strangely forcing his texts. Paul denies free-will,
 saying in Ephesians i.: “God works all in all,” thus confirming the
 fact “that man, even when he does and thinks what is wrong, is not
 responsible.”[643] “God even works what is evil in the impious,”[644]
 as is written in Proverbs xvi.: “The Lord hath made all things for
 Himself, the wicked also for the evil day,” and in Romans i., of the
 heathen: “God delivered them up to a reprobate sense to do those
 things which are not convenient.”

 Room is also found for philosophical arguments: God as the highest
 Being cannot permit Himself to be influenced by man’s changeableness,
 in the way that free-will would involve; on the contrary, He must,
 by virtue of His nature, determine everything Himself, down to the
 very smallest matters; nor does He do so merely by the “_influentia
 generalis_” (“_concursus divinus generalis_”), which, according to
 the “chatterboxes,” alone assists our free-will; free-will must
 perish (“_periit_”) in order to make room for a strict and compelling
 influence. This applies to our pardon, for we cannot elicit or
 snatch this from God by our own efforts, as though we surprised Him
 in slumber. “_O furor, furorum omnium novissimus!_” he exclaims of
 the Papal Bull in the midst of this philosophical and theological
 digression: “All is of necessity, for we--every man and every
 creature--live and act not as we will, but as God wills. In God’s
 presence the will ceases to exist.”[645]

 It is not surprising that Augustine also is made to bear witness in
 his favour.

 This Doctor of the Church, though in many passages he declares himself
 emphatically in favour of free-will, nevertheless frequently in his
 works against the Pelagians asserts (perhaps too strongly were we to
 consider his words apart from that heated controversy) that, without
 grace, and left to itself, free-will cannot as a rule avoid sin; on
 such occasions he does not always express the firm conviction he also
 holds, viz. that the will nevertheless of its own strength is able
 to do what is naturally good. In one passage, he says for instance,
 apparently quite generally: “Free-will in its captive state has
 strength only to sin; for righteousness it has none until it has been
 set free by God, and then only with His help.”[646] And elsewhere
 again: “Free-will can do nothing but sin, when the path of truth is
 hidden.”[647] This latter assertion Luther places as a trump card at
 the head of the discussion of his thirty-sixth condemned proposition,
 though he alters the wording.[648] As a matter of fact it is not
 difficult to prove, as we shall do below, that Luther was quite wrong
 in appealing to the Doctor of Hippo in support of his own teaching.

 Of more importance for the present account is the significant position
 which Luther assigns to his supposed rediscovery of the doctrine of
 the captive will. He is full of enthusiasm for the idea of a religion
 of the enslaved will. This new religion of the enslaved will appears
 to him in the light of a “theology of the cross,” which, in return for
 his renunciation of free-will, descends upon man in order to point
 out to him the true road to God. “For what honour remains to God were
 we able to accomplish so much?” “The world has allowed itself to be
 seduced by the flattering doctrine of free-will which is pleasing to
 nature.”[649] If any point of his teaching, then certainly that of the
 captive will is to be accounted one of the “most sublime mysteries of
 our faith and religion, which only the godless know not, but to which
 the true Christian holds fast.”[650]

 It fills one with grief and tears, he says, to see how the Pope and
 his followers--poor creatures--in their frivolity and madness, fail to
 recognise this truth. All the other Popish articles are endurable in
 comparison with this vital point, the Papacy, Councils, Indulgences
 and all the other unnecessary tomfoolery.[651] Not one jot do they
 understand concerning the will. Sooner shall the heavens fall than
 their eyes be opened to this basic truth. Christ, it is true, has
 nought to do with Belial, or darkness with light. The Popish Church
 knows only how to teach and to sell good works, its worldly pomp does
 not agree with our theology of the cross, which condemns all that
 the Pope approves, and produces martyrs.... That Church, given up to
 riches, luxury and worldliness, is determined to rule. But it rules
 without the cross, and that is the strongest proof by which I overcome
 it.... Without the cross, without suffering, the faithful city is
 become a harlot, and the true kingdom of Antichrist incarnate.[652]

 He concludes, congratulating himself upon his having given Holy
 Scripture its rights.

 Scripture is “full” of the doctrine on grace described above, but for
 at least three hundred years no writer has taken pity upon grace and
 written in its defence, on the contrary all have written against it.
 “Minds have now become so dulled by their habitual delusion that I
 see no one who is able to oppose us on the ground of Holy Scripture.
 We need an Esdras to bring forth the Bible again, for [the Popish]
 Nabuchodonosor has trampled it under foot to such an extent that no
 trace of even one syllable remains.”[653] He is grateful for the
 cheering “revival of the study of Greek and Hebrew throughout the
 world,” and is glad to think that he has turned this to good account
 in his biblical labours. With this consolation he writes his final
 “Amen” at the end of this curious document on the religion of the
 captive will.

Since Luther in the above “_Assertio_” against the Bull of condemnation
sets up Scripture as the sole foundation of theology--he could not well
do otherwise, seeing that he had rejected all external ecclesiastical
authority--we might have anticipated that, in the application of his
newly proclaimed principle of the Bible only, he would have taken pains
to demonstrate its advantages in this work on free-will by the exercise
of some caution in his exegesis. It is true that he declares, when
defending the theory of the Bible only: “Whoever seeks primarily and
solely the teaching of God’s Word, upon him the spirit of God will come
down and expel our spirit so that we shall arrive at theological truth
without fail.” “I will not expound the Scripture by my own spirit, or
by the spirit of any man, but will interpret it merely by itself and
according to its own spirit.”[654] And again: It often happens that
circumstances and a mysterious, incomprehensible impulse will give to
one man a right understanding such as is hidden from the industry of
others.[655] Yet when, on the basis of the Bible only, he attempts to
“overthrow his papistical opponents at the first onslaught,”[656] he
brings forward texts which no one, not even Luther’s best friend, could
regard as having any bearing on the subject.

He quotes, for instance, the passage where the believer is likened to
the branch of the vine which must remain engrafted on Christ the true
vine, in order to escape the fire of hell, and finds therein a proof
of his own view, that grace completely evacuates the will, a proof so
strong that he exclaims: “You speak with the voice of a harlot, O most
holy Vicar of Christ, in thus contradicting your Master who speaks of
the vine.”[657] Another example. In Proverbs xvi. it is written: “It
is the part of man to prepare the soul and of the Lord to govern the
tongue,” hence man, reasons Luther, who cannot even control his tongue,
has no free-will to do what is good.[658] There too we read: “The heart
of man disposeth his way, but the Lord must direct his steps,” and
further on: “As the divisions of water, the heart of the king is in
the hand of the Lord, whithersoever He will He shall turn it.” After
adducing these texts, which merely emphasise the general Providence
of God, Luther thinks he is justified in demanding: “Where then is
free-will? It is a pure creation of fancy.”[659]

The saying of the clay and the potter (Isa. lxiv. 8) which manifestly
alludes to the Creation and expresses man’s consequent state of
dependence, he refers without more ado, both here and also later, to a
continuous, purely passive relationship to God which entirely excludes
free-will.[660] When Christ says (Matt. xxiii. 37; Luke xiii. 34) that
He wished to gather the children of Jerusalem like a hen under His
wings, but that they would not (_καὶ οὐκ ἠθελήσατε_), Luther takes this
as meaning: They _could_ not; they did not wish to, simply because they
did not possess that free-will which his foes believe in. It might
however be said, he thinks, that Christ only “spoke there in human
fashion” of the willingness of Jerusalem, i.e. “merely according to
man’s mode of speech,” just as Scripture, for the sake of the simple,
frequently speaks of God as though He were a man.[661] It is plain from
his explanation that Luther, as an eminent Protestant and theologian
says, “was seeking to escape from the testimony to the Divine Will that
all men be saved.”[662]

The best text against the hated free-will appeared to him to be
Ephesians ii. 3, where St. Paul deals with original sin and its ethical
consequences. “We were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”
“There is not,” so he assures his readers, a “clearer, more concise
and striking testimony in the Bible against free-will”; “for if all by
reason of their nature are children of wrath, then free-will is also a
child of wrath,”[663] etc.

He handled Scripture as an executioner would handle a criminal. All
unconsciously he was ever doing violence to the words of the Bible.
We naturally wonder whether in the whole history of exegesis such
twisting of the sense of the Bible had ever before been perpetrated.
Yet we find these interpretations in the very pages where Luther first
exposed his programme of the Bible only, and declared that he at least
would expound the Word of God according to its own sense, according to
the “Spirit of God,” and setting aside all personal prejudice. The old
interpretation, on the other hand, which was to be found in the book
of Lyra, with which Luther was acquainted, gave the correct meaning
retained among scholars to our own day, not merely of the texts already
quoted, but of many other striking passages alleged by Luther then or
afterwards against free-will.

Luther proceeds rather more cautiously in the German edition of the
“_Assertio_,” which speedily followed the Latin.

It deals with the denial of free-will at considerably less length.
Perhaps, as was often the case with him, after he had recovered from
the first excitement caused by the condemnation of the articles, he may
have been sobered, or perhaps he was reluctant to let loose all the
glaring and disquieting theses of the “_Assertio_” in the wide circle
of his German readers, whom they might have startled and whose fidelity
to his cause was at that time, after the sentence of outlawry, such a
vital matter to him. In later editions of the Latin text some of his
sayings were softened even during his lifetime so as to avoid giving

Luther had been careful in the “_Assertio_,” just as he had been in his
previous treatment of the subject, not to take into consideration the
consequences involved by his denial of free-will; that, for instance,
it follows that it is not man who actually does what is evil, but
rather God who works in him, and that many were condemned merely on
account of the necessity of sinning imposed upon them by God. Of this
he has as yet nothing to say, though he was, shortly after, to make an
attempt to obviate the difficulties.

 In his translation of the Bible, in 1522, he had to render the passage
 of the First Epistle to Timothy (ii. 4): “God will have all men to be
 saved (_σωθῆναι_, ‘_salvos fieri_’) and to come to the knowledge of
 the truth.” This he translated: “God wills that all be assisted.” He
 sought to escape the doctrine of the Divine Will for the salvation of
 all men, by attributing to the principal word a “comprehensive and
 somewhat indefinite sense,” for that “all be assisted” may only mean,
 that all are to be preached to, prayed for, or assisted by fraternal

 In a letter written at that time he even declares, that the Apostle
 says nothing more than that “it was God’s will that we should pray for
 all classes, preach the truth and be helpful to everyone, both bodily
 and spiritually”; that it did not follow from this that God called all
 men to salvation.[665] “And even though many other passages should be
 brought forward, yet all must be understood in this sense, otherwise
 the Divine Providence [i.e. prevision, predestination] and election
 from all eternity would mean nothing at all, whereas St. Paul insists
 very strongly upon this.”[666] Thus his own interpretation of Paul,
 the wholly subjective interpretation which he thought he had received
 through an interior revelation, was to govern the Bible as a rule
 admitting of no exception; it was, for instance, to elucidate for him
 the Epistles of Peter. In a sermon delivered about February, 1523,
 on the Second Epistle of Peter, he says of the passage: “The Lord is
 not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to
 penance,” that this was “one of the verses which might well lead a man
 to believe this epistle was not written by St. Peter at all,” at any
 rate, the author here “fell short of the apostolic spirit.”[667] At
 the back of this opinion lay Luther’s attachment to his pet doctrine
 and method of interpretation.

 Luther’s efforts to get rid of the plain texts on the salvation which
 is offered to all without exception arose, accordingly, from his
 strong aversion to free-will, and also from a certain fear of man’s
 co-operation by means of works (even performed under grace), which
 would result from free-will and lead to salvation. He admits this
 plainly enough where he expounds 1 Timothy ii. 4: “This saying of St.
 Paul, the Papists assert, confirms free-will; for since he says, that
 ‘God wills that every man be assisted’ [rather, that every man be
 saved], it no longer depends upon Him, but upon us, whether we comply
 with His Will or not. This is how they come to use these words as an
 objection against us.”[668]

For the time being he had but little to say of predestination, though
he had by no means given up the idea of absolute predestination, even
to hell, which he had advocated in the Commentary on Romans. (See vol.
i., p. 187 ff., 237 ff.). He probably had reasons of his own for being
more reticent in his public utterances on this subject. It is only
later, when treating of the revealed and the hidden God, that he again
lays stress on his doctrine of predestination.

When Melanchthon published his “_Loci communes rerum theologicarum_,”
in December, 1521, in this work, which was the technical exposition of
Lutheranism at that time, he gave clear expression to the denial of
free-will. “All that happens,” he says there, “happens of necessity
(‘_necessario eveniunt_’) in accordance with the Divine predestination;
there is no such thing as freedom of the will.”[669] Luther praised
this work as an “_invictus libellus_,” worthy, not only of immortality,
but of taking its place in the canon of the Bible.[670] It was only
later that Melanchthon came to a more correct view, making no secret of
his rejection of Luther’s determinism.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is of interest to note how Luther, in his practical writings and
exhortations, passes over his denial of free-will in utter silence.
Such a denial would, needless to say, have been out of place in works
intended for the furtherance of the Christian life. In admonishing
people to keep the commandments of God, to cultivate virtue and
practise charity, we must necessarily take free-will for granted. On
such occasions, therefore, Luther’s language is the very reverse of
that which we have just heard and furnishes a practical proof of the
falseness of his theory.

 Although he had commenced his attacks on free-will in 1516, yet in the
 practical writings which appeared in 1517 and 1518, in his exposition
 of the Penitential Psalms, the Our Father and the Ten Commandments,
 he speaks as though the Christian were free, with the help of grace,
 to hearken to his exhortations and follow the path of salvation. In
 his sermons on the Decalogue he even calls the opinion “godless,” that
 any man is forced by necessity to sin and not rather led to commit it
 by his own inclination. All that God has made is good and thus all
 natural inclination is to what is good.[671] And yet, in 1516, he had
 taught that man of necessity, though not with reluctance, follows his
 predominating inclination to evil.[672]

 When, at the commencement of 1520, he wrote his detailed “Sermon on
 Good Works”--to complete, or rather to vindicate, his theory of faith
 alone against the objections raised--dedicating it to Duke Johann
 of Saxony, he there expressed himself so unhesitatingly in favour
 of independent moral activity as to make it appear quite free and
 meritorious. “Since man’s nature and disposition cannot remain for a
 moment without doing or omitting, suffering or fleeing--for life is
 ever restless, as we see--let whoever aspires to piety and good works
 begin to exercise himself in living and working at all times in this
 belief, learning to do or leave undone all things in this assurance
 [of faith], and he will then find how much there is to keep him busy.”
 Doing thus the believer will find that everything is right, for “it
 must be good and meritorious.”[673] Even concerning faith we read in
 this remarkable work, that it must be united to charity, nay, that
 this must precede it, though charity is in reality the peculiar and
 noblest work of an unfettered will which strives after God. “Such
 confidence and faith brings with it charity and hope, indeed, if we
 regard it aright, charity comes first, or at least with faith.”[674]

 At a time when he was already quite convinced of the absence of
 free-will, Luther wrote, in October, 1520, his tract “On the Freedom
 of a Christian man.”[675]

 There he teaches that the Christian is “free lord of all and subject
 to none.” The servitude of the body does not extend to the soul;
 in God’s Holy Word the soul lives a free and godly life, enjoying
 wisdom, liberty and everything that is good; true, the interior man,
 in his freedom and righteousness by faith, has no need of any law
 or good works, but, since we are not altogether spiritual, we are
 obliged to exercise the body by means of discipline lest it resist the
 interior man, i.e. the will which rebels against God must be “quelled”
 more and more, so far as the carnal mind calls for subjugation, in
 order that the works which proceed from faith may be performed out
 of pure charity. In all his works man must endeavour to direct his
 intention towards serving and being helpful to his neighbour. This
 is to serve God freely and joyfully; by thus acting he will defy the
 upholders of ceremonies and the enemies of liberty who cling to the
 ordinances of the Church. In this way Luther is teaching the true
 Christian freedom, which “sets the heart free from all sins, laws and
 ordinances, and which is as far above all other liberty as the heavens
 are above the earth.”[676]--And yet, after his previous assertions
 against free-will, we are forced to ask whether he had not himself
 destroyed the basis of all this, for the free-will he attacked was the
 fundamental condition of all spiritual action which might be called
 free, and surely quite essential to his vaunted “Christian freedom.”

 In his sermons, expositions and practical writings of the next few
 years he continued, with a few exceptions,[677] to speak to the
 faithful as though they still enjoyed moral freedom of the will and
 liberty of choice, notwithstanding the position he had assumed in the
 “_Assertio_.” In what he says of earthly business and of life, public
 and private, his views are likewise not at all those of a determinist.
 Such inconsistency was altogether characteristic of him throughout his

In spite of all his attempts to make his view of the will acceptable
and to accommodate it to the prevailing convictions of humanity, many,
even amongst his own followers and admirers, were shocked at his
attacks on free-will. People were scandalised, more particularly by the
consequences involved.

At Erfurt his friends disputed as to how God could possibly work evil
in man, and Luther was forced to request them to desist from enquiring
into such matters, since it was clear that we did what was evil because
God ceased to work in us: they ought to occupy themselves all the more
diligently with the moral interests of the new churches.[678]

Capito declared himself openly against Luther’s theories concerning
the absolute enslavement of the will.[679] The Humanist Mosellanus
(Peter Schade), a great admirer of the Wittenbergers, spoke so
strongly at Leipzig against the propositions deduced from Luther’s
teaching on predestination to hell, that the latter was warned of what
had occurred.[680] Many who had previously been favourably disposed
to Luther were repelled, by his teaching on the enslaved will, and
fell away then or later, for instance, the learned naturalist George

Mosellanus, like many others, now went over to the side of Erasmus,
who, it had now leaked out, was growing more and more to dislike Luther
the more the latter showed himself in his true colours.

_Erasmus--His Attitude in General and his Attack on Luther in 1524_

Erasmus had frequently been invited by the highest authorities to take
up his pen and enter the field against Luther. This, however, presented
some difficulty to him owing to his timidity, his anxiety to play the
part of mediator and his real sympathy for many of Luther’s demands.
Even before Erasmus had reached any decision, Luther and his friends
had already a premonition of the great Humanist’s coming attack.

On August 8, 1522, Erasmus, while still wavering, wrote to Mosellanus
concerning the desire expressed by the Emperor, the King of England
and certain Roman Cardinals. “All want me to attack Luther. I do not
approve of Luther’s cause, but have many reasons for preferring any
other task to this.”[682] In May, however, a work on the question of
predestination and free-will was already looked for in Lutheran circles
at Leipzig, and the opinion was freely expressed that Luther “would
probably get the worst in the encounter.” Luther, nevertheless, sought
to inspire his friends with courage and confidence.

That Erasmus should have been solicited by so many parties to write
against Luther was due to the quite extraordinary fame and influence of
this scholar who, by common consent, was the first authority of the day
on classical and critical studies.

 The prolific Dutch author was venerated with fanatical admiration
 by the younger Humanists as the founder and head of their school.
 Mutian had gone so far as to write: “He is divine and to be honoured
 as a god.” The term “_Divus Erasmus_” was frequently applied to him.
 Since, owing to his peculiar standpoint in ecclesiastical matters, he
 was reckoned by Luther’s co-religionists as one of their party, the
 request to write against Luther amounted to an invitation publicly to
 renounce all allegiance to a party which was seeking to secure him in
 its own interests.

 His great fame in the domain of learning was unquestionably well
 merited. From his ever-changing place of abode, from England, Italy,
 the Netherlands and especially (1521-1529) from Basle, he sent forth
 into the learned world his books, all written in the most fluent
 Latin, and dealing not only with classical subjects and matters of
 general literary culture, but also with religious questions and
 historical criticism. Thanks to his philological learning he was able
 to handle most advantageously the text of the Bible and the Fathers of
 the Church. The applause which was showered upon him by all scholars
 who were dissatisfied with the traditional course of studies was due
 not merely to his polished language and his wit, but chiefly to the
 new method of which he made use, particularly in dealing with the
 Fathers, viz. to his endeavour to seek out the best and oldest sources
 with the help of criticism. Among the many who formed themselves on
 his example, and, so to speak, in his school, were several of Luther’s
 friends and co-workers, for instance, Melanchthon and Justus Jonas.

 The “_Enchiridion militis christiani_,” published by Erasmus in 1501,
 was greeted with joy by the neo-Humanists as a new presentment,
 in harmony with the tendency of the day, of the duties of a
 Christian;[683] many of them had, however, no better conception of
 Christianity than Erasmus himself, who had already then forsaken his
 Order--he was an Augustinian Canon--though he received the requisite
 dispensation only in 1517, and whose performance of his priestly
 duties was anything but satisfactory.[684] The writing in question,
 a devotional manual for the learned, also made him many enemies,
 for, in it, he attacked various popular devotions and religious
 institutions sanctioned by the Church, ostensibly in order to bring
 to light the true piety.[685] Even more so was this the case with his
 “Praise of Folly” (“_Encomium Moriae_,” 1509), a satire on the morals
 and ecclesiastical conditions of his time, brimful of exaggeration
 and animosity against certain institutions in the Church, more
 particularly the religious life. Among those who were desirous of
 innovations, the book was so well received that it ran through at
 least twenty-seven editions during the author’s lifetime. The proud,
 witty fault-finding of the great man achieved an equally great success
 in the “_Colloquia familiaria_,” which appeared in 1518 and showed
 his style at its perfection. Intended as a handbook of latinity and
 general conduct, it was fated to be excluded from the more serious
 schools on account of the licentiousness of tone and language which
 pervades certain chapters.

 The opinion of this leading spokesman of the Renaissance was, that
 it was necessary to break away completely from the Middle Ages; that
 for four hundred years Christ had been almost forgotten (“_Christus
 pene abolitus_”), and hence a return to the simplicity of the gospel
 was indispensable; to the “_simplicitas doctrinae_,” secured by
 the stripping off of all the padding of scholasticism, was to be
 united the original “_simplicitas vitae christianae_” and neglect of
 external practices. He set up a “Philosophy of Christ,” of which the
 bare sobriety had no need of the Pharisaism of ceremonies, i.e. of
 the invocation of Saints and the veneration of images and relics,
 of monastic vows, canonical hours, fast-days, etc. Erasmus was not
 desirous of shaking the foundations of the ancient dogmas, nor did
 he, like Luther, lay hands upon the authority of the Church; yet he
 attacked so many of her institutions and with such terribly effective
 satire that he seemed to threaten the Church herself. Hardly ever had
 respect for the Roman See been so undermined as by his censure of the
 Popes and his tendency to contrast their assumption of authority with
 the humility of the Bishops of Rome in olden days.

 Nor was even the Bible safe from his love of innovation, inasmuch
 as he was wont to elucidate more particularly the facts of the Old
 Testament with the help of a spiritual interpretation, termed by
 him allegorical, by which the historical and revealed contents were
 explained away. His wish, too, was that the Bible, with notes thus
 interpreting its narratives, should be read by all, even by the
 unlearned.[686] The “Simple Theology,” which he was eager to set up
 in place of Scholasticism, beneath the splendour of the Humanistic
 language in which it was clothed, was exceedingly poor in ideas;
 so elastic was his language also, “so infinitely flexible and
 accommodating, so susceptible of being variously interpreted according
 to individual taste, that people of all creeds and of no creed ...
 could point to him as their guide.”[687] He had himself to blame
 for the fact, that he was regarded with great suspicion in Catholic
 circles, for, owing to his diplomatic caution, no one knew how far
 he intended to go in his censure of ecclesiastical institutions;
 whether he merely wished to blame the corruption then rampant, or
 whether he wished to strike a blow at the Church herself. Besides
 his positive hatred of the monastic life, what is particularly
 noticeable is his fundamental rejection of Scholasticism, which,
 according to his oft-repeated assertion, “had replaced God’s Word by
 human ideas.” As a Protestant theologian opines: “We may say, that
 the mighty intellectual work, which, in spite of all its faults, was
 embodied in the ingenious systems of the Schoolmen failed entirely
 to be appreciated by him.”[688] Nor was this the only thing he
 failed to appreciate. He understood nothing of the mighty evolution
 of the Church in previous ages, of the character of her discipline
 and canon law, of her theology and of the great results attained by
 mediæval philosophy. He did not even possess sufficient knowledge of
 the practical requirements of his own age, when Luther’s hand was
 already at work, demolishing the edifice of the Church. The one-sided
 scholar, blinded by the incense of praise, was unfitted for the task
 of directing his contemporaries in matters of religion.

 It is wonderful to see how well he knew how to secure the good-will
 of dignitaries, secular or ecclesiastical, by low flattery expressed
 in classic language. He exhibited very markedly certain qualities not
 infrequently observed in eminent Humanists, viz. want of character,
 fickleness in words and behaviour and extraordinary sensitiveness
 to criticism. His vanity was matched by the petty vindictiveness of
 the satires with which he lashes his opponents, and all who dared to
 disagree with him. Material assistance from the great ones of the
 earth was never lacking to him, the demi-god of the intellectual
 sphere; when declining an invitation to go to Germany he could say:
 “The Emperor implores me to come to Spain, King Ferdinand wants me
 at Vienna, Margaret in Brabant and Henry in England; Sigismund asks
 me to go to Poland and Francis to France, and all offer me rich

It is not surprising, that when Luther came forward many elements of
his new teaching were at once welcomed with sympathy by Erasmus and his

“It cannot be denied, that Luther commenced to play an excellent part
and to vindicate the cause of Christ--which had been almost wiped
off the face of the earth--amidst great and general applause.”[690]
Thus wrote Erasmus to Duke George of Saxony as late as 1522. Many of
Erasmus’s sayings in his books and confidential letters in favour of
Luther’s reform were cherished as oracles. His testimonies in favour of
Luther’s writings and his private life were spread far and wide, though
he really knew little of Luther’s works (those written in German he
could not even read), and owed all his information concerning his life
to Humanist friends who were prejudiced in Luther’s favour.

 It was true that he was not personally acquainted with Luther, he
 wrote on April 14, 1519, from Antwerp to Frederick the Elector of
 Saxony, and, of his writings, he had, so far, read only certain
 extracts;[691] “but all who were conversant with his life approved
 of it, since he was above every suspicion of ambition. The purity of
 his character is such that he even wins over the heathen. No one has
 shown his error or refuted him, and yet they call him a heretic.”
 Hence he urges the Prince not to abandon an innocent man to malicious
 persons.[692] It was probably this letter which confirmed the Elector
 in his determination not to withdraw from Luther his protection.
 “Luther’s life is approved by everyone here,” Erasmus writes on April
 22 of the same year from Louvain to Melanchthon; “opinions differ
 with regard to his learning.... Luther has rightly found fault with
 some things, would that he had done so with a success equal to his
 courage.”[693] His letters to England are in the same strain: “All
 are agreed in praise of this man’s life. It is in itself no small
 matter that his conduct is so blameless that even his enemies can find
 nothing with which to reproach him.”[694]

 To Luther himself, on May 30, 1519, in reply to a friendly and very
 submissive letter received from him, he complains of the attacks
 made upon him at Louvain as the alleged prime instigator of the
 Lutheran movement. He had replied--what as a matter of fact deprives
 the testimony he had given in his favour of much of its weight--that
 Luther was quite unknown to him (“_te mihi ignotissimum esse_”),
 that he had not yet read his books and was therefore unable to
 express either approval or disapproval. “I hold myself, as far
 as is permissible, aloof (‘_me integrum servo_’), that I may be
 of greater service to the revival of learning. More is gained by
 well-mannered modesty than by storming.” He adds other admonitions
 to peaceableness and prudence, and, after some cautious expressions
 of praise and thanks for his Commentary on the Psalms,[695] at which
 he had been able to cast only a cursory glance, finally wishes him
 “a daily increase of the Spirit of Christ to His honour and the
 public weal.”[696] By this letter, which appeared in print a few
 weeks later, Erasmus offended both parties; to Luther’s followers the
 author appeared too reticent, and to be wanting in cordiality; to
 his opponents he seemed unduly to favour the innovations. To justify
 himself he sent out several letters, one being to Archbishop Albert
 of Mayence on November 1, 1519. In this he admits the existence of
 “certain sparks of an excellent, evangelical spirit” in Luther, “who
 is not striving after either honours or riches” and “at whose writings
 the best minds take no offence.” Luther should not “be suppressed,
 but rather brought to a right frame of mind”; he finds fault with the
 fact that in him an honest man has been unfairly and publicly defamed;
 Luther had only too just cause for his proceeding in the thousand
 abuses prevailing in ecclesiastical life and in theology. Here again
 he is careful to add, as usual, that he had not found time to peruse
 Luther’s writings.[697] This letter, which was to reach Albert
 through Hutten, and with which he at once became acquainted, Luther
 calls an “_egregia epistola_,” which might well be printed.[698]
 Hutten, in point of fact, had the letter printed before handing it
 to the addressee, and, on his own responsibility, altered the name
 “_Lutherus_” into the more significant “_Lutherus noster_.”[699]

 Erasmus, while thus whitewashing and indirectly furthering Luther’s
 cause, wrote with less restraint to Zwingli: “It seems to me that I
 have taught well-nigh all that Luther teaches, only less violently,
 and without so many enigmas and paradoxes.”[700] It was his desire to
 be reckoned a leader in every field.

After the breach between Luther and the ecclesiastical past had been
consummated in 1520, Erasmus became more and more guarded in his
utterances, whether public or private. His blame of Luther becomes ever
more severe, though he is still desirous of finding a _via media_,
and is willing to approve of far too much in Luther’s action. The
excommunication of the heretic by the ecclesiastical authorities he
describes in one of his letters after the publication of the Bull as an
unfortunate mistake, showing want of charity; a peaceful adjustment of
the controversy might easily have been reached by means of a council of
wise men; this course his biassed mind still regarded as feasible.[701]

 It was on July 6, 1520, only a few days before Luther broke out into
 the exclamation: “The dice have fallen in my favour” (above, p. 24),
 that Erasmus, alarmed at the tone of Luther’s controversial writings,
 wrote to Spalatin warning him that Luther was utterly wanting in
 moderation and that Christ was surely not guiding his pen.[702] He now
 exerted himself to dissociate from Luther those of his friends who
 had not as yet entirely gone over to him, and to retain them for the
 Church, for instance, Justus Jonas.[703] As for himself he declared he
 would never be dragged away, either in life or death, from communion
 with the ecclesiastical authority ordained by God.[704] His complaints
 concerning Luther’s unrestrained violence and vituperation were
 ceaseless;[705] he saw the effect on Luther of the popular feeling,
 and the great applause he met with, he even attributed his obstinacy
 in great measure to the “plaudits of the world’s stage,” which had
 turned his head.[706] In his letters he also gives expression to a
 happy thought: the upheaval accomplished by the Wittenberg Professor
 was indeed a misfortune for his own age, but it might also be a remedy
 for the future. On November 20, 1522, he wrote to King Ferdinand: “God
 grant that this drastic and bitter remedy, which, in consequence of
 Luther’s apostasy, has stirred up all the world like a body that is
 sick in every part, may have a wholesome effect for the recovery of
 Christian morals.”[707] Erasmus also set to work to compose practical
 booklets on religion and worship. A “_Modus confitendi_” he published
 in 1525 was frequently reprinted later; its aim was to restore to
 honour the Sacrament of Penance so maltreated by the innovators. At
 a later date he even composed a sort of Catechism, the “_Explanatio
 symboli_” (1533).

 “In Luther I find to my surprise two different persons,” Erasmus wrote
 on March 13, 1526, to Bishop Michael of Langres. “One writes in such a
 way that he seems to breathe the apostolic spirit, the other makes use
 of such unbecoming invective as to appear to be altogether unmindful
 of it.”[708] To another bishop, on September 1, 1528, he writes:
 “Whatever of good there may be in Luther’s teaching and exhortations
 we shall put in practice, not because it emanates from him, but
 because it is true and agrees with Holy Scripture.”[709]

 He continued to scourge the abuses in ecclesiastical life and to
 demand a reformation, but he did so in a fashion more measured and
 dignified than formerly, so that well-disposed Catholics for the most
 part agreed with him.

 Owing to the new position he assumed, the Popes did not repel him,
 but showed him favour and confidence. They were desirous of retaining
 him and his enormous influence for the good of the Church. A Spanish
 theologian, who had written an “_Antapologia_” against Erasmus to
 reinforce the attack made upon him by Prince Carpi, tells us that
 Clement VII, after glancing through the work, said to him: “The Holy
 See has never set the seal of its approbation on the spirit of Erasmus
 and his writings, but it has spared him in order that he might not
 separate himself from the Church and embrace the cause of Lutheranism
 to the detriment of our interests.”[710] According to one account,
 Paul III even wished to make him a cardinal; Erasmus, however, refused
 this dignity on account of his age.

Luther for his part was fond of saying, that he merely spoke out
plainly what Erasmus in his timidity only ventured to hint at. He
himself, he tells a correspondent, had led the believing Christians
into the Promised Land, whereas Erasmus had conducted them only as far
as the land of Moab.[711] He recognised, however, the great difference
between himself and Erasmus in their fundamental theological views,
for instance, as to the condition of man stained by original sin, as
to his free-will for doing what is good, his justification and pardon,
on all of which the Humanist scholar held fast to the traditional
teaching of the Church because, so Luther says, he could not, or would
not, understand the Bible. Luther was well aware that, as time went
on, Erasmus frequently protested that he had never had any intention
of writing anything contrary to the revealed Word of God as taught by
Holy Scripture and the common faith of Christendom; that he submitted
himself to the decisions of the Popes, that he was ready to accept,
as the Voice of God, what the authorities of the Church taught,
even though he might not understand the reasons, and be personally
inclined to embrace the opposite. His standpoint was accordingly miles
removed from that of Luther with its unfettered freedom in religious

 In one of his Apologies Erasmus states of his earlier writings--in
 which, it is true he often goes too far--that “neither Lutherans nor
 anti-Lutherans could clearly show him to have called into question
 any single dogma of the Church”; though numbers had tried hard to
 do so, they had merely succeeded in “bringing forward affinities,
 congruities, grounds for scandal and suspicion, and not a few big
 fibs.”[713] Concerning his tendency to scepticism he says nothing.

 Of the excessive zeal of certain critics he says in the same passage:
 “Some theologians, in their hatred for Luther, condemn good and pious
 sayings which do not emanate from us at all, but from Christ and the
 Apostles. Thus, owing to their malice and stupidity, many remain in
 the party adverse to the Church who would otherwise have forsaken it,
 and many join it who would otherwise have kept aloof.” He himself
 was not to be drawn by invective to embrace Luther’s cause. He even
 ventures to affirm that he was the first, who, almost single-handed
 (“_ipse primus omnium ac pene solus restiti pullulanti malo_”),
 opposed Luther, and that he had proved a true prophet in predicting
 that the play which the world had greeted with such warm applause
 would have a sad termination.--He speaks more truly when he seriously
 regrets having fanned the flames by his writings. Thus, in 1521, he
 writes to Baron Mountjoy: “Had I known beforehand that things would
 shape themselves so, I would either have refrained from writing
 certain things, or have written them differently.”[714]

 If Luther, after having met with strong opposition from Erasmus, in
 place of the support he had anticipated, denounced him as an infidel
 Epicurean, he only demonstrated anew how far passion and bitter
 disappointment could carry him.[715] “Luther,” says Kawerau, “when
 passing judgment on Erasmus, sees only the dark side of his character,
 and this the more as years go by.” “In his writings, and even in his
 most harmless utterances, Luther scents evil. In the contempt he pours
 upon him he is often grossly unfair, and, as a whole, his judgment of
 him does not do justice either to the greatness or the character of

 Even where Luther does not actually attribute unbelief and
 untruthfulness to his opponent he frequently goes too far in blaming
 his sarcasm. He says, for instance, at a later date, that Erasmus
 could do nothing but jeer; that to refute or disprove anything he
 was utterly unable. “If I were Papist I would easily get the upper
 hand of him.... By merely laughing at opponents no one will succeed
 in vanquishing them.”[717] He could see in Erasmus only the idle
 cynic Lucian and nothing else. As early as 1517 he declaims against
 the “Erasmic” habit of “making fun of the faults and miseries of
 the Church of Christ instead of bewailing them before God with deep
 sighs.” It has, however, been pointed out by a Protestant theologian
 that such serious complaints concerning the disorders in the Church
 are not lacking even in the earlier writings of Erasmus.[718]

A severe but not unfair criticism of Erasmus--which does not charge
him with unbelief or apostasy though censuring him for other grave
faults--is to be met with in two German writers, both of them well
conversant with their age, viz. Kilian Leib, Prior of the monastery of
Rebdorf, and Bl. Peter Canisius.

The former, in dealing in his “_Annales_” with the year 1528, complains
of the effect on the religious world of the sceptical and critical
manner of his contemporary. “Wherever Erasmus had expressed a wish,
or even merely conveyed a hint, there Luther has broken in with all
his might.”[719] He is here referring to the strictures contained in
the Annotations of Erasmus on the New Testament, in particular on
Math. xi., upon the fasts and feasts, marriage laws and practice of
confession, on the heavy burden of prayers, the number of Decretals and
the endless ceremonial rules.

The other, Peter Canisius, speaks of Erasmus in the Preface to
his edition of the Letters of St. Jerome. He says that Erasmus is
distinguished by the “fluency and richness of his literary style”
and his “rare and admirable eloquence.” In polite literature he had
undoubtedly done good service, but he should either have refrained
from meddling with theology or have treated it with more reserve and
fairness. No one before him had ventured to censure the Fathers, the
Schoolmen and the theologians in so severe and overbearing a fashion,
nor was one to be found more touchy when contradicted. “He has carried
this so far that he is now made as little of in the Catholic as in the
opposite camp. In his writings he paid more attention to the form than
to the matter.” The following sentence is worthy of attention: “I know
not by what spirit he was really led, for he dealt with the Church’s
doctrine according to the theology of Pyrrhus [the sceptic].”[720]

What, we may ask in this connection, was the origin of the saying which
became later so widely current: “Erasmus laid the egg which Luther

It is first alluded to by Erasmus himself in 1523, where he informs a
friend that this had been said of him by certain Franciscans; he adds,
that he had indeed laid a hen’s egg, but that Luther had hatched out
quite a different nestling.[721] In 1534 he speaks more definitely
of the German Franciscans as the purveyors of this saying, and in
particular of the Cismontane commissioner of the Order, Nicholas
Herborn, who with the assistance of other Friars had caused a volume
of sermons to be printed at Antwerp in which appeared “the favourite
asseveration of the brethren,” viz.: “Erasmus is Luther’s father; he
laid the eggs and Luther hatched out the chicks; Luther, Zwingli,
Œcolampadius and Erasmus are the soldiers of Pilate who crucified

Similar utterances were indeed current in Catholic circles. Canisius
mentions that he had frequently heard a saying which agrees with the
words in Leib: “_Ubi Erasmus innuit, illic Lutherus irruit_,”[723] and
might be rendered: Where Erasmus merely indicated, Luther violently
eradicated. So general was the feeling that the head of the Humanists
had really paved the way for Luther’s action.

As we have frequently pointed out, Luther’s speedy and unhoped-for
success is altogether inexplicable, unless his way had been prepared
beforehand by others, and that particular kind of Humanism which
Erasmus had been largely instrumental in furthering cannot but be
regarded as one of the causes which contributed to the spread of

It is true that Humanism in some regards presented an inspiring and
attractive spectacle. The revival of classical learning, the union
of which with Christian truth had been the original aim both of the
Humanists and of the Church, who had encouraged them; the idea of
liberty and of the rights of the individual; the criticism and revision
of ecclesiastical studies; all this, within due limits, seemed to
presage a spring-tide in the development of the Christian nations
at the close of the Middle Ages. The sanguine dreamt of a happy
amalgamation of the ancient faith with the new culture of an age which
was striving mightily upwards in all that concerned citizenship. Yet
even enthusiastic patrons of the Christian Humanism of the day could
not praise all the ideas current among those of its representatives
who looked up to Erasmus; in such quarters many were the grievances
raised against the Church, it being urged that religion had been
corrupted, and that a purer Christianity should be established on the
model of the earlier ages, and minus the mediæval errors. Ideas such
as these were distinctly revolutionary, especially when they had taken
root in the heads of the masses in an even worse form. “It cannot as
a matter of fact be denied,” says the French Academician P. Imbart de
la Tour, “that the Humanists by their mode of criticising, accelerated
the gathering of the revolutionary storm-clouds of the sixteenth

It was in the nature of an expiation that, along with Erasmus, many
like-minded Humanists, following the example of their leader, deserted
Luther’s cause, as soon as the air had been cleared by the master’s
work against Luther and the denial of free-will. At the head of the
German Humanists, Mutian, now an old man, welcomed the defence of
free-will embodied in the “_Diatribe_.”[725] Zasius and Crotus, like
Pirkheimer, returned to the Church. Others, especially those of Erfurt,
were not to be separated from Luther, such were Justus Jonas, Johann
Lang, Adam Kraft, Euricius Cordus, Draconites, Camerarius, Menius and
Eobanus Hessus, who, however, wavered long.[726]

Summing up all that has been said, we must discount both the
exaggerated charges brought against Erasmus, and the one-sided eulogies
lavished upon him. A type of the unfair critic was Hieronymus Aleander,
who was chiefly responsible for the violent attack made on Erasmus by
Prince Albert Pius of Carpi. In 1521 Aleander declared: “Erasmus has
written worse things against the faith than Luther”; he is of opinion
that Erasmus had preached a real “intellectual revolt in Flanders and
the Rhine-Lands.”[727] Equally exaggerated in the opposite direction is
the statement ascribed to the Emperor Charles V, which must have been
due to the glowing accounts given by the admirers of Erasmus, viz. that
Erasmus had greatly reduced the number of Lutherans and achieved what
Emperors, Popes, Princes and Universities had previously striven to
do, but in vain. The allusion would seem to be to the great Humanist’s
work against Luther’s denial of free-will.

What has been said tends to place in a true light a certain view which
has been put forward in modern days. Thanks to a wrong interpretation
of his antagonism to Luther’s principles and of his criticism of
Catholic doctrine and practice, an attempt has been made to represent
him as the “father of religious universalism” and of religion minus
dogma. His bold schemes for renovation it is said paved the way for a
great “renascence of Christianity” towards which we might well strive
even to-day. As a matter of fact this “original creator in the domain
of religion,” this “spokesman of modern religion,” never existed in
Erasmus. It is a mere figment of the imagination of those who desire
the complete reformation of religion and seek to shelter themselves
behind the great Humanist. What is really strange is that such a
deformation of the Erasmus of history has been attempted by certain
Protestant theologians, whereas in Luther’s day Erasmus was denounced
by Protestants as a free-thinker and unbeliever. There are other
Protestant theologians, however, who candidly admit the futility of
such efforts with regard to Erasmus.[728]

Catholics can see easily enough why the rise of Protestantism tended to
bring back many Humanists, among them Erasmus himself, to a firmer and
more clearly defined religious standpoint and to a more whole-hearted
support of the Church. Erasmus, as stated above, frequently spoke of
Luther’s work as a “remedy” (p. 249). It was a remedy above all for
himself and for the more serious elements among his own party, whom
the sight of the outward effects and internal consequences of the new
teaching served to withdraw from the abyss towards which they were

In his Annotations on the New Testament, Erasmus had clearly expressed
both his fundamental antagonism to Luther’s denial of free-will and
his own position. It so happens that the contrast between Luther and
Erasmus becomes apparent for the first time in Luther’s correspondence
of the famous year 1517. Luther had at that time been devoting some
attention to his future opponent’s interpretation of Romans ix., of
which the words concerning Divine election had confirmed him in his
false teaching, while supplying Erasmus with an opportunity to lay
stress on the freedom of the will under the influence of grace. The
Wittenberg professor, full of the spirit of his recently completed
Commentary on Romans, had, during his reading of it, written to his
friend Lang concerning Erasmus in words which seem to presage the
coming encounter: “I am reading our Erasmus, but every day he pleases
me less. That he should so boldly attack the religious and the clergy
for their ignorance pleases me, but I fear he does not sufficiently
vindicate the rights of Christ and the grace of God.... How different
is the judgment of the man who concedes something to free-will from one
who knows nothing besides grace!”[729]--In these words we hear, as it
were, the distant muttering of the storm which broke out seven years
later, when the two exchanged their thunderbolts, clearing the air and
plainly disclosing the difference between the Catholic and the Lutheran

       *       *       *       *       *

When a report reached Luther in 1522 that Erasmus was about to oppose
his teaching on free-will, he was carried away to say certain things in
his letters which greatly provoked his opponent.

 In a letter to the Leipzig Professor, Caspar Borner, he stated that
 Erasmus understood less about these matters than the schools of the
 Sophists (the Schoolmen). “I have no fear of being vanquished so long
 as I do not alter my opinion.”[730] “Truth is stronger than eloquence,
 the spirit mightier than talent, faith greater than learning”; with
 his habitual confidence he says that were he only to stammer forth
 the truth he would still be sure of vanquishing the eloquence even
 of far-famed Erasmus. He did not wish to vex the scholar, but should
 he dare to attack he would be made to see “that Christ fears neither
 the gates of hell nor the powers of the air”; he (Luther) well
 knew the thoughts of Satan (“_quandoquidem et Satanæ cogitationes
 noverimus_”).[731] Hence he seems to have regarded the doctrine of
 the absence of free-will as a sort of revelation, which the devil must
 necessarily oppose.

 Erasmus got to hear of this letter. With the expressions it contained,
 viz.: spirit, truth, faith, triumph of Christ, he was familiar, for
 they were Luther’s watchwords; the innovators, following Luther’s
 example, made use of them, in season and out of season, though they
 were not able to conceal their real nature, least of all from the
 sharp eyes of Erasmus. “All,” Erasmus wrote in 1524 to Theodore
 Hezius, “have these five words always on their lips: evangel, God’s
 Word, faith, Christ and Spirit, and yet I see many behave so that I
 cannot doubt them to be possessed by the devil.”[732]

 After long delay and anxious consideration, Erasmus finally decided to
 comply with the requests made of him and to publish a polemical work
 against Luther on the subject of free-will, for his own vindication
 and for the enlightenment of many whose eyes were turned upon him.
 In 1523 he set to work and forwarded a rough draft to Henry VIII of

 He has frequently been said to have declared, in his witty way, that
 he had only yielded against his will to strong persuasion and that the
 work had been wrung from him; that, writing of free-will, he had lost
 his own free-will, and was, therefore, not to be taken seriously. This
 legend rests upon a false interpretation of a passage, the text of
 Erasmus containing nothing of the sort.[733]

 In order if possible to delay or parry the attack, Luther, about the
 middle of 1524, wrote a strange letter addressed to the scholar.[734]
 He there complains openly of the criticisms Erasmus had directed
 against him latterly and of his ostensibly insulting remarks, and
 informs him that he, the Wittenberg Professor, has nothing whatever
 to fear, “even though an Erasmus should fall on him tooth and nail;”
 at the same time he begs him, with a most flattering eulogy of his
 gifts and standing, to consider well whether it would not be better
 to leave his (Luther’s) doctrines alone (“_intacta dimittere_”), and
 to busy himself with his own Humanist affairs. “I desire that the
 Lord may bestow on you a spirit worthy of your name. Should the Lord,
 however, still delay this gift, I would beg you meanwhile, if you can
 do nothing else, at least to remain a mere spectator of our tragedy;
 do not write against me or increase the number and strength of my
 opponents; particularly do not attack me through the press, and I for
 my part shall also refrain from attacking you.” The writer was all too
 well aware how heavily the words of Erasmus would weigh down the scale
 against him in public opinion.

 Erasmus, however, was not to be moved from his decision; indeed, he
 felt still further provoked to write by an allusion of Luther’s in the
 above letter to the kindness he had hitherto displayed towards godless
 and hypocritical foes; should Erasmus dare to come forward against him
 publicly Luther vows he will alter this tone.[735] In the latter event
 Luther, in another passage of the letter, had declared regretfully,
 in perfect accordance with his theory of grace and the absence of
 free-will, that “Erasmus had not yet received from the Lord the gift
 of strength and an inward mind,” which would have enabled him to ally
 himself freely and trustfully with him (Luther) in his struggle with
 the monsters who were attacking him; even from Erasmus one could not
 expect what was beyond his power and lay outside his way. “On the
 contrary, we have accepted with patience and respect your weakness and
 the limitation of God’s gift in you.”

 We may perhaps be permitted to remark here concerning the absence of
 the Divine action on the will, that Luther on other occasions did
 not allow himself to be swayed by “patience and respect,” as in the
 case of Erasmus, least of all when dealing with the Pope and his
 supporters. On the contrary, he reproves them severely for their
 “terrible blindness” and says, that the wrath of God had led to the
 setting up of an empire of error and lying, in spite of the Church
 having been so often warned by Christ and the Apostles against the
 Pope, i.e. Antichrist. The only explanation was in 2 Thessalonians ii.
 10: “Therefore God sent upon them the operation of error, to believe
 lying”; “this operation was so great (‘_illa energia tam potens
 fuit_’) that they were blind even to the worst errors”; thus it was
 that they had set up their horrid Papacy. Out upon you, he cries to
 those, who, on the Lutheran hypothesis, were unable to do otherwise,
 “the overwhelming effect of your delusion defies all opposition”
 (“_illa efficacia erroris potentissime restitit_”). “But I have
 attacked the Pope in his very marrow and teaching, not merely his
 abuses.” “Had I not brought about his downfall by means of the Word,
 the devil himself would have vomited him forth.”[736]

The work of Erasmus, “_De libero arbitrio diatribe_,” which appeared in
that same year, 1524, at Basle, was a severe blow to Luther.[737]

The ground chosen by Erasmus in his long-expected reply to all the
questions raised by the Reformers, viz. the matter of free-will,
was singularly apt; he launched forth at once into one of the most
important subjects, one, too, which was readily understood by the
people. His task was the exposure of the religion of the enslaved will.

Though the author was not thoroughly conversant with the learning
of the Schoolmen, which might perhaps have enabled him to place the
relationship between grace and free-will in an even clearer light,
and though in the work he is rather reserved, yet his refinement of
judgment and his eloquence more than compensate for his defects;
these at least insured him great applause in an age so favourable to
Humanism. Even the theologians were, on the whole, satisfied with
the scriptural proofs adduced by so learned a man, whose linguistic
knowledge and exegetical skill gave all the more weight to his work.
Many cultured laymen breathed more freely, as though relieved of a
heavy burden, when the authoritative voice of the great scholar was
at last raised against Luther and in defence of free-will, that basic
truth of sane human reason and pillar of all religious belief.

 Ulrich Zasius, the Freiburg-im-Breisgau lawyer, who had hitherto been
 hesitating, wrote in enthusiastic praise of the work to Boniface
 Amerbach.[738] Duke George of Saxony expressed his thanks to the
 author in a letter, with the honest and not altogether unwarranted
 remark: “Had you come to your present decision three years ago, and
 withstood Luther’s shameful heresies in writing instead of merely
 opposing him secretly, as though you were not willing to do him much
 harm, the flames would not have extended so far and we should not now
 find ourselves in the distressing present state of things.”[739]
 The moderation with which the champion of free-will wrote, was
 commended even by Melanchthon in a letter to Erasmus (“_perplacuit
 tua moderatio_”).[740] With this, other critics, Martin Lipsius for
 instance, agreed.[741]

 Luther was forced unwillingly to admit the kindness displayed by
 Erasmus, but the fact that the keen intellect of his opponent should
 have singled out for animadversion the most vital point of his
 teaching, as he termed it, was very bitter to him. The question dealt
 with, he said, certainly constituted the central point of the quarrel;
 it is absolutely essential that we should know what and how much we
 are capable of in our relations to God, otherwise we remain ignorant
 of God’s work, nay, of God Himself, and are unable to honour, to
 thank, or to serve Him.[742] Luther accordingly admitted, concerning
 Erasmus’s work--and this he was in his own way anxious to see regarded
 as it deserved--that the author, unlike his previous opponents, “had
 seized upon the real question at issue, the ‘_summa causæ_’”; he had
 not scolded him on the Papacy, indulgences and similar subjects, but
 had hit upon the cardinal point, and held the knife at his (Luther’s)
 throat. God had not, however, yet bestowed upon Erasmus the grace
 which would have fitted him to deal with the controversy. “God has
 not so willed nor given it; perhaps He may bestow it later and make
 this opponent capable of defending my doctrine more efficaciously
 than I can myself, seeing he is so far beyond me in all other things
 [especially in worldly learning].” These words, so remarkable from the
 psychological standpoint, are to be found in Luther’s reply.[743]

 In his “_Diatribe_” Erasmus dwelt with emphasis and success on the
 fact that, according to Luther, not merely every good, but also every
 evil must be referred to God; this was in contradiction with the
 nature of God and was excluded by His holiness. According to Luther,
 God inflicted eternal damnation on sinners, whereas they, in so far
 as they were not free agents, could not be held responsible for their
 sins; what Luther had advanced demanded that God should act contrary
 to His eternal Goodness and Mercy; it would also follow that earthly
 laws and penalties were superfluous, because without free-will no one
 could be responsible; finally, the doctrine involved the overthrow of
 the whole moral order.

 The scriptural passages bearing on the question, more particularly
 those appealed to by Luther in his “_Assertio_,” are examined with
 philological exactitude and with sobriety.

 “Erasmus, in defending free-will,” writes A. Taube, a Protestant
 theologian, “fights for responsibility, duty, guilt and repentance,
 ideas which are essential to Christian piety. He vindicates the
 capacity of the natural man for salvation, without which the identity
 between the old and the new man cannot be maintained, and without
 which the new life imparted by God’s grace ceases to be a result of
 moral effort and becomes rather the last term of a magical process.
 He combats the fatalism which is incompatible with Christian piety
 and which Luther contrived to avoid only by his want of logic: he
 vindicates the moral character of the Christian religion, to which,
 from the standpoint of Luther’s theology, it was impossible to do

The work of Erasmus reached Wittenberg in September, 1524. Luther
treated it with contempt and ostentatiously repudiated it. He wrote
to Spalatin, on November 1, that it disgusted him; he had been able
to read only two pages of it; it was tedious to him to reply to so
unlearned a book by so learned a man.[745] All the same, he did write
a lengthy and detailed answer; that he delayed doing so until late in
the following year is to be accounted for by the Peasant-War with its
terrors, which entirely engrossed his attention; it was also the year
of his marriage. In estimating the value of the reply, upon which he
then set to work with great energy, we must bear in mind the state of
the author and the inward and outward experiences through which he had
just gone. The impression made on his mind by the events of those days
has left its stamp in the even more than usually extreme utterances
contained in his reply to Erasmus. When once he had begun the work
he carried it to its end with a rush; he himself admits that it was
composed in excessive haste. We also know to whose influence his final
decision to take the work in hand was due, viz. to Catherine Bora. “It
was only at her request” that he undertook the work, when she pointed
out to him, “that his foes might see in his obstinate silence an
admission of defeat.”[746]

_Luther’s Book “On the Enslaved Will” against Erasmus_

The title “_De servo arbitrio_,” “On the enslaved will,” was borrowed
by Luther from a misunderstood saying of St. Augustine’s.[747] While
the book which bears it was still in the press his friend Jonas
commenced a German version and entitled it: “Dass der freie Wille
nichts sei.”[748]

However grotesque and exaggerated some of the principal theses of the
famous work, Luther was at pains to declare therein that they were the
result of most careful deliberation and were not written in the heat of
controversy. Hence, as a Protestant historian says, “we must not seek
to hide or explain them away, as was soon done by Luther’s followers
and has been attempted even in our own day.”[749] Another Protestant
scholar, in the preface to his study on the work “_De servo arbitrio_,”
remarks that “quite rightly it caused great scandal and wonder,”
and goes on to point out that “the hard, offensive theory” which it
champions was “no mere result of haste or of annoyance with Erasmus,
coupled with the desire clearly to define his own position with regard
to the latter,” but really “expresses the matured conviction of the

In this lengthy, badly arranged and rather confused work we see,
first, that Luther gives the widest limits to his denial of free-will
and declares man to be absolutely devoid of freedom of choice,
even in the performance of works not connected with salvation, and
moral acts generally. He does, indeed, casually remark that man is
free “_in inferioribus_,” and that the question is whether he also
possesses free-will in respect of God (“_an erga Deum habeat liberum
arbitrium_”).[751] “But it is doubtful whether we are to take Luther
at his word.” For “as a matter of fact he shows clearly enough that
he does not wish this limitation to be taken literally.”[752] “That
his intentions are, on the contrary, of the most radical character, is
plain from many other passages where he attacks free-will everywhere,
and represents all that we do and everything that occurs (‘_omnia quæ
facimus et omnia quæ fiunt_’), as taking place in accordance with
inexorable necessity.”[753] He lays it down as a principle that God’s
omnipotence excludes all choice on man’s part, and again supports this
on an argument from the Divine omniscience; God from all eternity sees
all things, even the most insignificant, by virtue of His prescience,
hence they must happen. Even where God acts on man apart from the
influence of grace (“_citra gratiam spiritus_”), according to Luther,
it is He Who works all in all, as the Apostle says, “even in the
impious.” “All that He has made, He moves, impels and urges forward
(‘_movet, agit, rapit_’) with the force of His omnipotence which none
can escape or alter; all must yield compliance and obedience according
to the nature of the power conferred on them by God.”[754]

In the same way as he here speaks of a certain “power” in the creature,
so also, in the same connection, he refers to “our co-operation” in the
universal action of God (“_et nos ei cooperaremur_”). By this, however,
he does not mean any real free co-operation but, as he says darkly,
only an activity of the will corresponding to its nature and governed
by law, “whether in submission to the universal omnipotence of God in
matters which do not refer to His Kingdom, or under the special impulse
of His Spirit [grace] within His Kingdom.”

Luther’s main object in the book “_De servo arbitrio_” is undoubtedly
the vindication of religious determinism.

His denial of free-will had its root in his mistaken conviction that
man was entirely passive in the matter of his salvation and in his
attempt to destroy all personal merit, even that won by the help of
grace, as at variance with the merit of Jesus Christ. He is fond of
dwelling with emphasis on the absence of any co-operation on man’s
part in his justification, which is effected by faith alone, and on
the so-called “righteousness” which had been effected in man by God
alone even previous to man’s choice. Even that free-will for doing what
is good, which is given back to the man who is justified, does not
strictly co-operate--lest the merit of Christ should suffer.

 “This, then, is what we assert: Man neither does nor attempts anything
 whatever in preparation for his regeneration by justification or
 for the Kingdom of the Spirit, nor does he afterwards do or attempt
 anything in order to remain in this Kingdom, but both are the work
 of the Spirit in us, Who, without any effort on our part, creates us
 anew and preserves us in this state.... It is He Who preaches through
 us, Who takes pity upon the needy and comforts the sorrowful. But
 what part is there here for free-will to play? What is left for it to
 do?--Nothing, absolutely nothing.”[755]

 Here we have a renewal of the attack on his old bugbear,
 self-righteousness, his dislike of which leads him to universal
 determinism; from his mechanical doctrine of faith alone it was merely
 a step to this mechanical view of everything.

 We can only marvel at the ease with which, in his zeal for the
 supposed glory of the Saviour, he closes his eyes to the devastation
 which such teaching must work in the spiritual domain. He declares
 that he is not in the least afraid of the consequences. He fancies
 he has at last placed the whole motive force of human action in its
 true light and estimated it at its real value. For “it is above
 all else necessary and wholesome for the Christian to know that
 God foresees nothing conditionally, but that He knows all things
 beforehand unconditionally, determines them and carries them out by
 His unchangeable, eternal and infallible Will.”[756] He builds up
 piety, humility and all consolation on the basis of this abnegation
 of the will. “Christian faith,” he says, would be “altogether
 destroyed, God’s promises and the whole gospel would be trodden under
 foot were we not to believe in God’s indispensable foreknowledge and
 that all happens through necessity; on the other hand, the greatest
 and only consolation for Christians in the trials they encounter is
 to know, that God does not lie but invariably performs all things,
 that there is no resisting His will and no possibility of change or
 hindrance.”[757] Herein, according to him, lies “the only possibility
 of leading man to entire self-abnegation, and to perfect humility
 towards God.” Therefore “this truth must be proclaimed aloud,
 everywhere and at all times”; here, as in the service of the Word
 in general, any _prosopolepsia_, _topolepsia_, _tropolepsia_, or
 _kœnolepsia_ is pernicious and damnable. The Protestant theologian
 from whom the last sentences are taken remarks: “We have here a
 peculiar form of piety, and it may remain an open question whether the
 same is to be judged pathologically or not.”[758]

 Luther seems to ignore--if indeed he ever was acquainted with
 them--the reliable solutions to the problem of the Divine prescience
 and omnipotence in relation to human free-will, furnished both by
 philosophy and by theology from the times of the Fathers. He dismisses
 with utter contempt the distinctions and definitions of the greatest
 theologians of earlier ages.

 On the other hand, he turns upon Erasmus and the theology of the
 Church with the formal charge: “You have denied God Himself by taking
 away faith in Him and fear of Him, you have shaken all God’s promises
 and menaces.” Without being clearly conscious of the fact, he is
 actually changing the true idea of God and seeking to set up a Being,
 who governs with the blind force of fate, in the stead of a God Who
 rules with wisdom, controlling His own power and restraining Himself
 with goodness and condescension.[759] Free-will, he says, belongs to
 God alone, Who alone is able to do what He wills in heaven and on

How the ideas of free-will and of God are treated in Luther’s “_De
servo arbitrio_” is made still more plain from the conclusions which he
draws in this work from the denial of free-will, and deals with without
the slightest reserve.

The first consequence is the absolute predestination of the reprobate
to hell.

 Luther here throws to the winds the will of God Almighty for the
 salvation of all men, and he does so, with regard to those who are
 delivered over to eternal death, with a precision which is quite
 shocking. They were incapable of being saved because God did not so
 will it. Owing to the reprobate, God has “an ‘_æternum odium erga
 homines_,’ not merely a hatred of the demerits and works of free-will,
 but a hatred which existed even before the world was made.”[760]
 Hence He inflicts eternal punishment upon those who do not deserve it
 (“_immeritos damnat_”).[761] And if sinners are thereby confirmed in
 their sins instead of being converted, this does not matter in the
 least, for the Spirit of God will nevertheless, in due season, lay
 hold of the elect and change them into children of God (“_electi tamen

 The severity of his doctrine does not here differ in any way from
 Calvin’s cruel views, though, as the fact is less generally known,
 Luther’s name has not been so closely associated with predestination
 to hell as Calvin’s. Luther’s doctrine on this matter did not come
 so much to the front as that of Calvin, because, unlike the latter,
 he did not make capital out of it by means of popular and practical
 exhortations, and because the early Lutherans, under the influence of
 Melanchthon, who became an opponent of the rigid denial of free-will
 and of Luther’s views on predestination, soon came to soften their
 master’s hard sayings. Yet there can be no doubt that the book “_De
 servo arbitrio_” does contain such teaching quite definitely expressed.

 The decree according to which God from all eternity condemns
 irrevocably to hell a great part of mankind, is, however, according
 to Luther, His “Secret Will” which we cannot investigate. With this
 His “Revealed Will” does not coincide. This distinction becomes a
 pet one of Luther’s, by means of which he fancies he can escape the
 embarrassment in which the many passages of the Bible concerning
 God’s desire that all men be saved, involve him. The “_voluntas
 occulta et metuenda_” of the “_Deus maiestatis_” determines man’s
 fate irrevocably; upon this we must not speculate, for it is beyond
 human investigation. We must, on the contrary, according to Luther,
 not go beyond the “_voluntas Dei revelata_”--which he also speaks
 of elsewhere as the “_voluntas prædicata et oblata_,” or “_voluntas
 beneplaciti_”--which, it is true, strives after the salvation of all
 men and the removal of sin.[763] “From this we must conclude that
 God, as He is preached, is not in every instance the same as He Who
 actually works, and that in some cases in His revelation He says what
 is quite untrue.”[764]

 Thus the author is no longer content to place another meaning upon
 the biblical statements concerning God’s will that all men be saved,
 as he did in the “_Assertio_,”[765] though even in the “_De servo
 arbitrio_” he still “attempts to place a different interpretation
 upon the passages of Scripture in question and to explain away by a
 desperate exegesis God’s will for the salvation of the whole human
 race as expressed in the New Testament.” Hence he takes refuge in the
 “_voluntas revelata_,” which differs from the “_occulta_.” Should
 the former not agree with the latter and revelation declare that God
 wills, whereas the “_voluntas secreta_” really does not so will, then
 the passages of the revealed word “are a proof that God is raised
 above our code of morality.”[766] “The ‘_voluntas occulta_’ becomes
 entirely arbitrary.” The demand, Luther says, that God should act as
 we think right is tantamount to calling Him to account for being God.
 We must believe that He is just and good even when He transgresses the
 codes of Justinian and Aristotle. Is He, forsooth, only to condemn
 that man whom we think deserving of condemnation? Shall we look upon
 it as an absurdity, that He should condemn the man whose lot it is
 to be declared deserving of damnation? Shall we consider it wrong
 that He should harden whom He chooses to harden, and have mercy on
 whom He wills to have mercy?[767] From the standpoint that we must
 simply accept the “_secreta maiestatis_” even when apparently most
 unreasonable, he pours out his scorn on the efforts of the olden
 theologians to harmonise free-will with eternal election to grace.

 His last word is that all we say of God is imperfect, inaccurate and
 altogether inadequate. As a matter of fact, however, as a Protestant
 critic already cited says,[768] “By the ‘_voluntas occulta_’
 everything is called in question that Christian theology affirms
 concerning God on the authority of the gospel. Luther not only saw,
 but allowed, these consequences, yet as he was perfectly alive to the
 danger which they constituted, he is careful to warn people against
 going further into the question of the ‘_Deus maiestatis_.’ ‘_Non
 est interrogandum, cur ita faciat, sed reverendus Deus, qui talia et
 possit et velit...._’ Luther always held fast to the actuality and
 rights of the Secret Will. That he never forsook this standpoint even
 later, when the ‘_voluntas beneplaciti_’ alone was of interest to him,
 has been established by recent research. In his practice, however, we
 find but little trace of what was really an essential part of Luther’s

 The same theologian is of opinion that the inconsistencies in which
 Luther at last finds himself entangled are the best refutation of his
 denial of free-will and the powers of the natural man.[769]

A second consequence of his teaching may also be pointed out here. From
his theory of the enslaved will Luther was forced to deduce that God is
responsible for evil.

 “It is indeed an offence to sound common sense and to natural reason
 to hear that God is pleased to abandon men, to harden and to damn
 them, as though He--He, the All-Merciful, the All-Perfect--took
 delight in sin and torment. Who would not be horrified at this?... and
 yet we cannot get away from this, notwithstanding the many attempts
 that have been made to save the holiness of God.... Reason must always
 insist upon the compulsion God imposes on man.”[770]

 According to Luther it is quite wrong to wish to judge of God’s
 secret, inscrutable action.[771] Fly, he repeats again and again,
 from these stumbling-blocks to faith. “_Quærere non licet._”[772]
 Adore the hidden ruling. “_Adorare decet._”[773]

 It is true that the author, here as elsewhere, shows a certain
 reluctance to credit to God Himself the performance of what is evil;
 he prefers to speak of God’s action as though it merely supplied man,
 whose own inclination is towards what is evil, with the power and
 ability to act.[774] The same theory is to be met with in Calvin.[775]
 But, the critics in Luther’s own camp objected:[776] “This does not
 settle the question, Luther must go further.... He admits that, after
 all, God not only has a part in the origin of sin, since owing to
 His omnipotence He is the cause of all things (‘_causa principalis
 omnium_’), but even made Adam to sin.[777] And yet, precisely on
 account of the difficulty, faith will not relinquish it.” “Surely a
 ‘_credo_,’ not only ‘_quamquam_,’ but, ‘_quia, absurdum_.’”[778]

We may, in the third place, cast a glance at the ethical consequences
of the theory.

Luther refuses to admit what all people naturally believe, viz. that if
God gives commandments man must be able either to obey, or to disobey,
and thus incur guilt. What he teaches is, that God has a right and
reasons of His own to impose commandments even though there should be
no free-will; since without Him we are unable to keep the commandments
He gives them for the wise purpose of teaching us how little we are
capable of. The law is intended to awaken in us a sense of indigence,
a desire for redemption, and the consciousness of guilt. When once
this is present, God’s power does the rest; but the groundwork of
all salvation is that we should become conscious of our nothingness,
for which reason the belief in the enslaved will is to be proclaimed
everywhere as the supreme virtue.

 “God,” he says, “has promised His grace first and foremost to the
 abandoned and to those who despair. Man cannot, however, be completely
 humbled so long as he is not conscious that his salvation is entirely
 beyond his own powers, plans and efforts, beyond both his will and his
 works, and depends solely upon the free choice, will and decree of
 another (‘_ex alterius arbitrio, consilio, voluntate_’).”[779]

 Hence, instead of a moral responsibility for not keeping the
 commandments, all there is in man is a certain compunction for
 being unable to keep them. But this is surely very different from
 the consciousness of guilt. “Without free-will there is no guilt.”
 “Luther can no longer assert that guilt is incurred by the rejection
 of grace.” If a sense of guilt actually exists it cannot but be a
 subjective delusion, nor can it fail to be recognised as such as soon
 as we perceive the true state of the case, viz. that it is all due to
 delusive suggestion. “When Luther instances Adam’s fall as a proof of
 guilt, we can only see in this an admission of his perplexity. In this
 matter Luther’s theology--I mean Luther’s own theology--is altogether
 at fault.”[780]

The greatest stress is laid by the champion of the “enslaved will” on
the alleged importance of this doctrine for the personal assurance of

It is this doctrine alone, he says, which can impart to timorous man
the pacifying certainty that he will find a happy eternity at the hands
of the Almighty, Who guides him; on the other hand, the assumption of
free-will shows man a dangerous abyss, ever yawning, into which the
abuse of his freedom threatens to plunge him. Better to trust to God
than to our own free-will.

“Since God,” he writes, “has taken my salvation upon Himself and
wills to save me, not by my own works but by His grace and mercy, I
am certain and secure (‘_securus et certus_’) that no devil and no
misfortune can tear me out of His hands.... This is how all the pious
glory in their God.”[781]

With enthusiasm he describes this consciousness, carefully refraining,
however, from looking at the other side, where perchance predestination
to hell, even without free-will, may lie.[782] When it presses on him
against his will he at once drowns the thought with the consoling
words of St. Paul on the greatness of the inscrutable ways of God. His
justice must indeed be unsearchable, otherwise there would be no faith,
but in the light of eternal glory we shall realise what we cannot now

The not over-enthusiastic critic, whom we have frequently had occasion
to quote, remarks: “Seeing that faith according to Luther is no act of
our will, but a mere form given to it by God, ... Luther is right in
saying, that the very slightest deviation from determinism is fatal
to his whole position. His ‘_fides_’ is ‘_fides specialissima_.’” It
is the assurance of personal salvation. But even though “combined
with a courageous certainty of salvation, Luther’s views, taken as
they stand, would still offer no consolation to the tempted, so that
when Luther has to deal with such he is forced to put these views in
the background.” The critic goes on to wonder: “How if the thought,
which Luther himself is unable to overcome, should trouble a man and
make him believe that he is of the number of those whom the ‘_voluntas
maiestatis_’ wills to hand over to destruction?” His conclusion is:
“The certainty of salvation, about which Luther is so anxious, cannot
be reached by starting from his premises.”[784]

At the end of his “_De servo arbitrio_,” summing up all he had said,
Luther appeals to God’s rule and to His unchangeable predestination of
all things, even the most insignificant; likewise to the empire of the
devil and his power over spirits. His words on this matter cannot be
read without amazement.

“If we believe that Satan is the Prince of this world, who constantly
attacks the Kingdom of Christ with all his might and never releases
the human beings he has enslaved without being forced to do so by
the power of the Spirit of God, then it is clear that there can be
no free-will.”[785] Either God or Satan rules over men; to this pet
thought he adds: “The matter stands simply thus ... when God is in us,
the devil is absent and then we can will only what is good; but when
God is not there, the devil is, and then we can will only what is evil.
Neither God nor Satan leaves us with an indifferent will.”[786] “When
the stronger of the two comes upon us,”[787] he says, “and makes a prey
of us, snatching us away from our former ruler, we become servants and
prisoners to such an extent that we desire and do gladly what he wills
(‘_ut velimus et faciamus libenter quæ ipse velit_’). Thus the human
will stands,” Luther continues, using a simile which has become famous,
“like a saddle-horse between the two. If God mounts into the saddle,
man wills and goes forward as God wills ... but if the devil is the
horseman, then man wills and acts as the devil wills. He has no power
to run to one or the other of the two riders and offer himself to him,
but the riders fight to obtain possession of the animal.”[788]

With frightful boldness he declares this view to be the very core
and basis of religion. Without this doctrine of the enslaved will,
the supernatural character of Christianity cannot, so he says, be
maintained; the work of redemption falls to the ground, because
whoever sets up free-will cheats Christ of all His merit;[789] whoever
advocates free-will brings death and Satan into the soul.[790]

In such passages we hear the real Luther, with all his presumptuous
belief in himself: “To me the defence of this truth is a matter of
supreme and eternal importance. I am convinced that life itself should
be set at stake in order to preserve it. It must stand though the whole
world be involved thereby in strife and tumult, nay, even fall into
ruins and dissolve into nothing.”[791]

He ventures again to assert of Erasmus, that it had not been given him
from above to feel, as he himself does, how in this great question
“faith, conscience, salvation, the Word of God, the glory of Christ and
even God Himself are involved.”[792] Concerning himself, on the other
hand, he assures the reader that, with no earthly motives, he is waging
a great war “with a God-given courage and steadfastness which his foes
call obstinacy; that he holds fast to his cause in spite of so many
dangers to his life, so much hatred, so many persecutions, in short,
exposed as he is to the fury of man and of all the devils.”[793]

In various passages a lurid light is thrown on his inner state. In
language which recalls the pseudo-mysticism of his Commentary on Romans
ten years earlier, he says, that the predestination to hell which he
advocated was certainly terrifying, that he himself had frequently
taken great offence at it and had been brought to the abyss of despair,
so that he wished he had never been born; but then “he saw how
wholesome was this despair and how near to grace.”[794] “For whoever is
convinced that all things depend on God’s Will, in his despair of self
avoids making any choice and simply waits for God to act; such a one is
near to grace and to finding salvation.” He himself “attributes nothing
to himself, hopes for nothing and desires nothing” for his salvation;
in thus waiting on the action of God’s grace he is very nigh to
salvation, though he is as it were dead, stifled by the consciousness
of guilt, and spiritually buried in hell; “whoever has read our works
will be familiar with all this.”[795]

The echo of the pseudo-mystical ideas in which he had formerly steeped
himself is plainly discernible in these words which go to form one of
the most remarkable of the pictures he has left us of his state.

Even the “self-righteous,” whom he had at one time so bitterly
assailed, again rise from their graves. The admission of free-will,
he tells them, destroys all inward peace. After every work performed,
the question still rankles: “Is it pleasing to God, or does God
require something more? This is attested by the experience of all
self-righteous (_iustitiarii_), and I myself, to my cost, was familiar
with it for many long years.”[796]

On the same page he gives us a glimpse of the psychological source
whence his whole theory of the enslaved will springs. The doctrine
was born of personal motives and fashioned to suit his own state of
soul. None the less, he insists that it must also become the common
property of all the faithful which none can do without, nay, the
very basis of the new Christianity. “Without this doctrine I should
believe it necessary to plague myself with uncertainty and to beat the
air with hopeless efforts, even were there no perils for the soul,
no tribulations and no devils. Though I should live and work for all
eternity, my conscience would never attain to a real peace and be able
to say to itself, you have done enough for God.” He goes so far as to
say: “For myself I admit, that, were free-will offered me, I should not
care to have it; I should not wish to see anything placed within my
power by means of which I might work for my salvation, because I should
never be able to withstand and endure the trials and dangers of life
and the assaults of so many devils.”[797]

The last words of the book even exceed the rest in confidence, and
the audacity of his demand that his work should be accepted without
question almost takes away one’s breath: “In this book I have not
merely theorised; I have set up definite propositions, and these I
shall defend; no one will I permit to pass judgment on them, and
I advise all to submit to them. May the Lord Whose cause is here
vindicated,” he says, addressing himself to Erasmus, “give you light to
make of you a vessel to His honour and glory. Amen.”[798]

       *       *       *       *       *

The great importance of the work “_De servo arbitrio_” for a knowledge
of the religious psychology of its author may warrant a description of
some of its other psychological aspects, and first of the connection
discernible between the denial of free-will and Luther’s so-called
inward experiences, which were supposed to be behind his whole

He always believed he was following the irresistible pull of grace,
and that he was merely treading the path appointed to him from
above. In this work he breaks out into a loud hymn in praise of the
irresistibility of the Divine action. “All that I have done,” he
exclaims, “was not the result of my own will; this God knows, and
the world, too, should have known it long ago. Hence, what I am and
by what spirit and council I was drawn into the controversy is God’s
business.”[799] In this explanation, so typical of his character and
way of thinking, is summed up his reply to that argument of Erasmus
against his doctrine, particularly of free-will, where the latter had
confronted him with the teaching of the whole of the Church’s past.

 For more than ten years, Luther adds, he had to listen to the reproach
 of his conscience: How dare you venture to overthrow the ancient
 teaching of all men and of the Church, which has been confirmed by
 saints, martyrs and miracles? “I do not think anyone has ever had to
 fight with this objection as I had. Even to me it seemed incredible
 that this impregnable stronghold which had so long withstood the
 storms, should fall. I adjure God, and swear by my very soul, that,
 had I not been driven, had I not been forced by my own insight and
 the evidence of things, my resistance would not have ceased even to
 this day.” But, under the higher impulse, he had suffered authorities
 ancient and modern to pass like a flood over his head that God’s grace
 might alone be exalted. “Since this is my only object, the spirit of
 the olden saints and martyrs and their wonder-working power witness in
 my favour.” The utter rigidity of his doctrine and line of thought,
 and the connection between his present attack on freedom and his
 own ostensible unfreedom in God’s hands could hardly be placed in a
 clearer light than here in Luther’s reply to the argument of Erasmus.

 In another passage he describes, perhaps unconsciously, his
 experiences with his own will, so inclined to contradiction and
 anger; he says: That the will is not free is evident from the fact
 that, “it becomes the more provoked the greater the opposition it
 encounters....[800] Whoever pursues an object passionately is not
 open to correction, as experience shows. If he gives way, this is not
 willingly, but under pressure, and because it serves his purpose. It
 is only the man who has no interest whatever who allows things to take
 their own course.”[801]

 From time to time the several pet ideas which had played a part in his
 previous development are harnessed to his argument and made to prove
 the servitude of the will.

 We are conscious, he says, that, pressed down to the earth by
 concupiscence, we do not act as we should; hence man is not free to
 do what is good. The “sting” of this inability remains, as experience
 teaches, in spite of all theological distinctions. Natural reason,
 which groans so loudly under it and seeks to resist God’s action,
 would prove it even were it not taught in Holy Scripture. But Paul,
 throughout the whole of his Epistle to the Romans, while vindicating
 grace, teaches that we are incapable of anything, even when we fancy
 we are doing what is good.[802]

 And further, the desire of gaining merit for heaven--the supposed
 error which he opposed quite early in his career owing to his distaste
 for works generally--can only be finally vanquished when the idol of
 free-will is overthrown. Then, too, he says, the fear of undeserved
 damnation by God also vanishes; for if there be no merit for heaven,
 then neither can there be any for hell; accordingly we may say without
 hesitation what must otherwise be repellent to every mind, viz. that
 God condemns to hell although man has not deserved it (“_immeritos
 damnat_”);[803] this is the highest degree of faith, to hold fast to
 the belief that “God is righteous when of His own will He makes us of
 necessity to be worthy of damnation (‘_necessario damnabiles facit_’),
 so that He would seem, as Erasmus says, to take delight in the
 torments of the damned and be more worthy of hatred than of love.”[804]

 Here another element of his earlier development and mental trend comes
 into view, viz. a disregard for the rights of reason, based ostensibly
 on the rights of faith.

 The denial of free-will seems to him in this regard quite
 attractive--such at least is the impression conveyed. For, when we
 deny the freedom of the will, so much becomes contradictory and
 mysterious to our reason. But so much the better! “Reason speaks
 nothing but madness and foolishness, especially concerning holy
 things.”[805] “Faith,” so he declares at great length, “has to do
 with things that do not appear (Heb. xi. 1); in order that true faith
 may enter in, everything that is to be believed must be wrapped in
 darkness. But things cannot be more completely concealed than when
 what is seemingly contradictory is presented to the mind, to the
 senses and to experience.”[806] In the present case, according to
 Luther, the apparent injustice of God in the “seemingly unjust”
 punishment of sinners, who are not free agents, is a grand motive for
 faith in His Justice.[807] Luther here displays his love of paradox.
 Even more than in his other writings plentiful opportunity for paradox
 presents itself in the “_De servo arbitrio_,” and of it he makes full
 use. “God makes alive by putting to death,” he writes in the passage
 under consideration, “He renders guilty and thereby justifies; He
 drags down the soul to hell and thereby raises it to heaven.”

 Among the forcible expressions by which, here as elsewhere, he
 attempts to convince both himself and others, that he is in the right,
 are the following: “Liberty of choice is a downright lie (‘_merum
 mendacium_’).”[808] “Whoever assigns free-will to man, thereby makes
 him Divine, and thus commits the worst form of sacrilege.”[809]
 “To get rid altogether of the term free-will would be the best and
 most pious work (‘_tutissimum et religiosissimum_’).”[810] Whoever
 follows the road of Erasmus “is rearing within himself a Lucian--or
 a hog of the breed of Epicurus.”[811] “Erasmus concedes even more to
 free-will than all the sophists hitherto.”[812] “He denies Christ
 more boldly than the Pelagians,”[813] and those who hold with him are
 “double-dyed Pelagians, who merely make a pretence of being their
 opponents.”[814] But he himself, Luther, had never fallen so low as to
 defend free-will: “I have always, up to this very hour, advocated in
 my writings the theory that free-will is a mere name.”[815]

 In this last assertion he repudiates his Catholic days and refuses
 even to take into account the works dating from that time; in his
 Commentary on the Psalms he had expressly admitted free-will for doing
 what is good and for the choice in the matter of personal salvation;
 it is true, however, that he never published this work. But in many
 of the writings composed and published even after his apostasy he
 had clearly assumed free-will in man and made it the basis of his
 practical exhortations, as shown above (p. 239). Now, however, he
 prefers to forget all such admissions.[816]

 On the other hand he pretends to recall that in his Catholic days,
 “Christ had been represented as a terrible judge, Who must be placated
 by the intercession of His mother and the saints; that the many works,
 ceremonies, Religious Orders and vows were invented to propitiate
 Christ and to obtain His grace.”[817] Out of this is forged a fresh
 proof, drawn from his own experience, of the servitude of the will.
 For had Christ not been regarded exclusively as a judge, but as a
 “sweet mediator,” Who by His blood has redeemed all, then recourse
 would not have been had to the empty works of a self-righteous
 free-will. As it was, however, he had been made to feel strongly, that
 this delusion of works and free-will could only lead to despair.--Yet
 if, in his agony of soul, he really had sought and found peace of
 conscience in the theory of the enslaved will, how can we explain
 his many statements, made at almost that very time, concerning his
 enduring inward anguish and doubts?[818] The Protestant theologian, O.
 Scheel, the last to translate and expound the “_De servo arbitrio_,”
 says of the comfort that Luther professed to have derived from the
 absence of free-will and from the theory of predestination, that “in
 the Reformer’s piety a tendency is discernible which militates against
 the supposed whole-hearted and settled confidence of his faith in the

Contradictions formed an integral part of Luther’s psychology. Long
pages of this work are full of them, though Luther seems quite unaware
of his inconsistencies, obscurities and confusion. Conflicting lines
of thought may be traced, similar to those which appeared in the
Commentary on Romans (vol. i., p. 256), while the author was still a
young man. They indicate a mentality singularly deficient in exactitude
and clearness. The workshop where his ideas were fashioned was
assuredly not an orderly one.

In the first place the main contention is very involved, while the
statements that the will of the man who does what is evil is moved by
God seem conflicting. The “_movet, agit, rapit_” in which the action
of God on the will usually consists, does not here assert its sway;
the Divine Omnipotence, which, as a rule, is the cause of all action,
interferes here, either not at all, or at least less strongly than
usual--God must not be made the direct author of sin. This illogical
twisting of his theory is particularly noticeable where great sins of
mighty consequence are in question. Is God to be regarded as having
caused the Fall of Adam and the treason of Judas? Luther certainly
does not answer this question in the affirmative so categorically as
Melanchthon in his “_Loci theologici_.”[820] Here he carefully avoids
speaking of an irresistible impulse of the will given by God; for the
time being we seem to lose sight altogether of God’s imperative and
exclusive action.

 In the case of the betrayal of Judas, as Scheel points out, Luther
 does not mention any necessity “which compelled Judas to act as he
 did”; Luther seems, at least in certain passages, to look on that
 act as necessary, only because, having been foreseen by God, it
 “inevitably occurs at the time appointed.”[821] Yet elsewhere he
 says: “His will [that of the traitor] was the work of God; God by
 His Almighty Power moved his will as He does all that is in the

 A similar confusion is apparent in his statements concerning Adam’s
 Fall. Adam was not impelled to his sin, but the Spirit of God forsook
 him, and intentionally placed him in a position in which he could
 not do otherwise than fall--even though his will was as yet free and
 though as yet he felt no attraction towards evil as the result of
 original sin. May we then say after all that God brought about the
 Fall and was Himself the cause of the depravity of the whole human
 race through original sin? To this question, which Luther himself
 raises, the only answer he gives is: “He is God; of His willing there
 is no cause or reason,” because no creature is above Him and He
 Himself “is the rule of all things.”[823] Because He wills a thing, it
 is good, “not because He must or ought so to will.” In the case of
 the creature it is otherwise; “His will must have reason and cause,
 not so, however, the will of the Creator.”[824] What seems to follow
 from these Occamistic subtleties is, that Adam’s sin was after all
 “brought about by God,”[825] and that Adam could not do otherwise
 than sin, even though God merely placed him in a position where sin
 was inevitable, but that he was nevertheless punished, and with him
 all his descendants. But is it so certain that in Adam’s case Luther
 excludes a real impulse, a real inner compulsion to transgress? The
 fact is that certain of his statements on this question present some
 difficulty. “Since God moves and does all, we must take it that He
 moves and acts even in Satan and in the godless.”[826] It is true,
 according to Luther, that He acts in them “as He finds them, i.e.
 since they are turned away from God and are wicked, and are carried
 away by the impulse of Divine Omnipotence (‘_rapiuntur motu illo
 divinæ omnipotentiæ_’), they do only what is contrary to God and
 evil.... He works what is evil in the wicked because the instrument,
 which is unable to withdraw itself from the impelling force of His
 might, is itself evil.”[827] If this means that the impulse on God’s
 part must in every case have an effect conformable to the condition of
 the instrument moved, then, in Adam’s case, its effect should surely
 have been good, inasmuch as Adam, being without original sin, was
 not inclined to evil by any passions. If then Adam fell we can only
 infer that the Almighty allowed an entirely different impulse from
 the ordinary one to take effect, one which led directly to the Fall.
 How, in that case, could God be exonerated from being the author of
 sin? Luther, unfortunately, was not in the habit of reconciling his
 conflicting thoughts. According to him there is nothing unreasonable
 in God’s punishing the first man so severely for no fault of his. Why?
 It is mere “malice on the part of the human heart” to boggle at the
 punishment of the innocent; it takes for granted the reward which,
 without any merit on their part, is the portion of the saved, and yet
 it dares to murmur when the matter is to its disadvantage and the
 reprobate too receive a reward without any desert on their part.[828]
 A reward is a reward, and the same standard should be applied freely
 in both cases.

 It is scarcely comprehensible how, after such wanderings out of
 the right path and the exhibition of such mental confusion, Luther
 could proclaim so loudly the victory of his “_servum arbitrium_.”
 He describes his proof of the “unchanging, eternal and infallible
 will by which God foresees, orders and carries out all things” as a
 “thunderbolt” launched against the Erasmic and Popish heresy.

 Even the editor of the Weimar edition of the “_De servo arbitrio_” is
 unable to refrain from remarking in connection with one such passage:
 “It cannot be denied that this mechanical conception of a God, Who
 is constantly at work, reeks strongly of pantheism.”[829] He also
 quotes the opinion of Kattenbusch: “Luther occasionally expresses his
 idea [of God’s constant action] very imperfectly.” “God becomes to a
 certain extent the slave of His own Power,” and all things “lose their
 resistance when in His presence.” “There is no doubt that the whole
 conception is strongly impregnated with pantheism.”[830] Kattenbusch
 says further: “Relying on such an argument, Luther could not fail to
 advocate the view that everything is determined by God, even what
 has no bearing on morality or religion.” Finally he concludes: “We
 were therefore right in refusing, as we did, to admit that Luther’s
 proposition: ‘_Omnia necessario fiunt_’ (p. 134 in the Erl. ed.)
 applied merely to the domain of morals, as Luther himself tries to
 make us believe.”[831] This subsequent explanation given by Luther is
 only a fresh proof of his mental confusion. Kattenbusch brings forward
 other evidences of the conflicting currents in Luther’s train of
 thought; for instance, in his conception of God and of destiny; into
 these we have, however, no time to enter.[832]

 The theoretical weakness of Luther’s attack on free-will and its
 manifest bias in his own religious psychology caused the theologian O.
 Scheel to exclaim regretfully: “Luther impressed a deterministic stamp
 on the fundamental religious ideas which he put before the world.”
 Luther’s determinism was vainly repudiated as a “reformed heresy” by
 the later Protestants. It is true that Luther based his predestinarian
 sayings on his “personal experience of salvation, which he felt to
 have been a free gift,” but then his “religious state was not normal,”
 as Kattenbusch already had “rightly pointed out.” Luther’s doctrine
 of the distinction between the “_Deus absconditus_” and the “_Deus
 revelatus_” Scheel ascribes to a false conception of God,[833] though
 he is inclined to look with favour on Luther’s fatalism, finding
 therein “nothing irreligious,” but merely Luther’s lively “trust in
 God”; he even speaks of the “religious power and truth inherent in
 this idea.”[834]

Under another aspect the work exhibits, better than any other, the
undeniable qualities of its writer, the elasticity of his mind, his
humour and imagination, and his startling readiness to turn every
circumstance to advantage; at the same time, undoubtedly because it was
a case of breaking a lance with Erasmus, the style is more polished
than usual and the language less abusive. The editor of the Weimar
edition speaks of the book as the “most brilliant of Luther’s Latin
polemics, nay, perhaps the most brilliant of all his controversial

Luther would not have committed this great work to writing had not
his mind been full of the subject. How far calm deliberation had any
place in the matter it is as hard to determine here, as it is in so
many of his other productions, where feeling seems to hold the reins.
It is likewise difficult to understand how Luther, in practice,
managed to compromise with the ideas he expounds, more especially as
he was the leader of a movement on the banner of which was inscribed,
not the gloomy domination of fatalism, but the amelioration of
religious conditions by means of moral effort in all directions. The
contradiction between lack of freedom on the one hand, and practice
and the general belief in free-will on the other, was a rock which he
circumnavigated daily, thanks to his self-persuasion that the strands
drawn by the Divine Omnipotence around the will were of such a nature
as not to be perceptible and could therefore be ignored. We believe
ourselves to be free, and do not feel any constraint because we
surrender ourselves willingly to be guided to the right or to the left;
this, however, is merely due to the exceptional fineness of the threads
which set the machine in motion.

For an ennobling of human nature and of the Christian state such
a system was certainly not adapted. A tragic fate ordained that
the apostasy, of which the cause was ostensibly the deepening of
religious life and feeling, should bear this bitter fruit. Freedom
had been proclaimed for the examination of religious truth, and now,
the “submission of every man” is categorically demanded to doctrines
opposed to free-will and to the dignity of the Christian. Nevertheless,
both then and later, even to the present day, this curious, assertive
book, like the somewhat diffident one of Erasmus, to which it
was a reply--both of them so characteristic of the mind of their
authors--have drawn many to examine the spirit of that age and of its
two spokesmen.[836]

In the work “_De servo arbitrio_,” Luther speaks of Laurentius Valla
as one who had cherished similar views.[837] In his “Table-Talk”
he praises his opinions on free-will and the simplicity which he
cultivated both in piety and learning. “Laurentius Valla,” he says,
“is the best ‘Wal’ [Italian] I have ever come across in my life.”[838]
Opinions differ widely as to Valla’s views, which are expressed with
enigmatical obscurity in his Dialogue “_De libero arbitrio_.” At a
later date Erasmus took his part against Luther, rightly pointing out
that Valla was seeking to explain popularly how it is that the Divine
foreknowledge does not necessarily make all things happen without
freedom and of necessity.[839] Valla was a Humanist and critic, but
neither a theologian nor a philosopher. In the question at issue he
left the decision to faith, but laid great stress on the objections
raised by reason. According to a modern historian he did not deny
free-will, but merely left the problem, “which he neither could nor
would solve,” to the Omnipotence of God.[840]

_Luther’s Later Dicta on the Enslaved Will and on Predestination_

Luther always remained faithful to the position taken up in his great
work “_De servo arbitrio_,” as to both the absence of freedom and

In the Disputations of which we have records, he frequently reverts to
his denial of free-will.

 In a Disputation of December 18, 1537, for the sake of debate the
 objection is advanced, that there is no purpose in making good
 resolutions owing to the will not being free: “Man,” says the opposer,
 “has no free-will, hence he can make no good resolutions, and sins
 of necessity whether he wishes to or not.” The professor’s reply
 runs: “_Nego consequentiam_. Man, it is true, cannot of himself alter
 his inclination to sin; he has this inclination and sins willingly,
 neither under compulsion nor unwillingly. Man’s will, not God, is the
 author of sin.”[841] On another occasion, on January 29, 1536, the
 objector refers to the opinions of great Churchmen of olden times,
 that some freedom of the will exists. The reply is: “What such men
 say is not to be accepted as gospel-truth; they often gave proof
 of weakness and stood in need of additional purification by the
 ‘_remissio peccatorum_.’ You youngsters must not get into the habit of
 deriding them, yet we esteem Holy Scripture more highly.”[842]--In the
 same year we read the following in the theses of the School: “It is
 godless philosophy, and censured by theology, to assert that ‘_liberum
 arbitrium_’ exists in man for the forming of a just judgment and a
 good intention, or that it is man’s business to choose between good
 and evil, life and death, etc. He who speaks thus does not know what
 man really is, and does not understand in the least what he is talking

 Melanchthon, however, found urgent reasons in the growing immorality
 of the young men at the University and the sight of the evil results
 in the religious life of the people produced by the new doctrine of
 the will and good works to revise what he had said on free-will in his
 “_Loci Theologici_.” In the course of time he took up an altogether
 different standpoint, coming at last to acknowledge free-will
 and a certain co-operation with grace (“_Synergismus_”).[844]
 Luther, nevertheless, was loath to break with him on account of
 this divergence in doctrine; out of esteem for so indispensable a
 fellow-worker, he even recommended to his hearers the new edition of
 the “_Loci_” without a word about the corrections in question.

 But Luther himself never surrendered his favourite idea in spite of
 his anxiety and horror at the effect his preaching produced on the
 people, who seized upon his theory of human helplessness and the sole
 action of grace as a pretext for moral indolence. In 1531 he was again
 to be heard stating--this time in a public sermon, a very unusual
 thing--that man lacks free-will. Here he connects this doctrine with
 the impossibility of “keeping the Commandments without the grace of
 the Spirit.” In Popery they indeed preached, as he himself had also
 done at one time, “_quod homo habeat liberum arbitrium_,” to keep the
 Commandments by means of his natural powers; but this was an error
 which had grown up even in the time of the Apostles.[845]--As a matter
 of fact, however, the Church did not teach that fallen man could, at
 all times, keep all the Commandments without grace.

 When, in August, 1540, someone said to him: “People are merely
 getting worse through this preaching on grace,” he replied: “Still,
 grace must be preached because Christ has commanded it; and though
 it has been preached for a long time, yet at the hour of death the
 people know nothing about it; it is to the honour of God that grace
 should be preached; and, though we make the people worse, still God’s
 Word cannot be set aside. But we also teach the Ten Commandments
 faithfully, these must be insisted on frequently and in the right
 place.”[846] The Antinomians had just then attacked the preaching of
 the Decalogue on the pretext of Luther’s own doctrine regarding man’s

 In his “Table-Talk” Luther elsewhere declares it to be his “final
 opinion” that “whoever defends man’s free-will and says that it
 is capable of acting and co-operating in the very least degree in
 spiritual matters, has denied Christ.”[847] Absolute determinism,
 or the entire absence of free-will everywhere, is here no longer
 expressed. “I admit,” he says, “that you have free-will for
 milking the cows, for building a house, etc., but not for anything
 further.”[848] Of spiritual things, however, he says: “Man’s free-will
 does not work or do anything towards his conversion ... but merely
 suffers and is the material upon which the Holy Ghost works, as the
 potter fashions the pot out of the clay, doing this even in those
 who resist and are unruly like Paul. But after the Holy Ghost has
 worked on such a rebellious will, He renders it pliable so that
 it wills as He does.”[849] The example of those “whose bodies are
 possessed by the devil, who rends them and drags them about, rides
 and drives them,” he continues, shows how little “man’s will can
 do” for his conversion.[850]--Johann Aurifaber (1566), the old
 editor of the “Table-Talk,” says of Luther’s statement, referred
 to above, concerning his “final opinion”: “There you see, dear
 Christian brother, that it is a lie what some say and give out, more
 particularly the Synergists, viz.: that the dear Man of God modified
 in any way his opinion on free-will, which they term hard because
 it is directly opposed to their heresy. And yet they boast of being
 Luther’s disciples!”[851]

In his own mind Luther practically denied his doctrine as often as
he struggled with remorse, or sought to overcome his terrors of
conscience. Few men have had to exert their will with such energy (as
we shall have occasion to point out later, vol. v., xxxii.) to hold
their own against inward unrest. He, the advocate of the servitude of
the will, in his struggles with himself and his better feelings, made
his soul the battlefield of free-will, i.e. of a will vindicating its

From his artificial position of security he ventures to stand up
vigorously against others, great men even, who “abused” his doctrine.
Count Albert of Mansfeld was one of those who, according to Luther’s
account, said of predestination and the helplessness of the will:
“The Gospel? What is predestined must come to pass. Let us then do as
we please. If we are to be saved, we shall be saved,” etc. Luther,
therefore, takes him to account in a letter addressed to him on
December 8, 1542. He tells him that he intends to speak freely, being
himself “a native of the county of Mansfeld.” “He, too, had been
tormented with such thoughts or temptations” and had thus been in
danger of hell. “For in the case of silly souls such devilish thoughts
breed despair and cause them to distrust God’s grace; in the case of
brave people, they make them contemners and enemies of God, who say:
let me alone, I shall do as I please, for in any case all I do is to
no purpose.” He does not forbear to scold the Count for his behaviour,
for “withdrawing himself from the Word and the Sacrament,” for “growing
cold and set upon Mammon.” In the end he is, however, only able to give
him the following questionable consolation concerning his doctrine.
“It is perfectly true that what God has determined must certainly take
place,” but there is “a great distinction to be observed” between the
revealed and the secret will of God. He should not “trouble himself
much” about the latter; for those who do soon “come to care nothing for
the Word of God or the Sacrament, give themselves up to a wild life,
to Mammon, tyranny and everything evil; for, owing to such thoughts,
they can have no faith, hope or charity for either God or man.” Instead
of this he desires, as he had explained in his book against Erasmus,
that we should simply cling to the God Who has revealed Himself; “what
He has promised we must believe, and what He has commanded we must
do.” A servant, for instance, does not presume to seek out “the secret
thoughts” of his master before obeying him. “Has not God the same right
to secret knowledge of His own beyond what He chooses to tell us?” Some
say: If it is to be, then all will happen in any case according to
God’s will; “of what use, then, is baptism, Holy Scripture and every
other creature to us? If God wills it, He can surely do it without all

At that time the report of such frivolous talk among the great ones led
him to broach the subject in the lectures on Genesis which he happened
to be delivering.[853] Here, if we may trust the reporter, he reverts
to the doctrine he had defended in his “_De servo arbitrio_,” viz.
that all things happen of entire necessity (“_esse omnia absoluta et
necessaria_”).[854] He retracts nothing, but merely says, that he had
emphasised the necessity of paying attention only to the revealed God;
in this artifice he finds a means of preventing any frivolous abuse of
the theory of predestination, any despair or recourse to the complaint
“I cannot believe.”

In another letter he gives encouragement, no less doubtful in
character, to an unknown person, who, in the anxiety caused by his
apprehension of being predestined to hell, had applied to him. Luther
boldly re-affirms the existence of such absolute predestination:
“God rejected a number of men and elected and predestined others to
everlasting life before the foundation of the world, such is the
truth.” “He whom He has rejected cannot be saved, even though he should
perform all the works of the Saints; such is the irrevocable nature of
the Divine sentence. But do you gaze only upon the Majesty of the Lord
Who elects, that you may attain to salvation through our Lord Jesus
Christ.” In Christ, he proceeds, we have that revealed Majesty of God,
Who wills to save all who believe in Christ; “whom He has predestined
to salvation, He has also called by the gospel, that he may believe and
be justified by faith.”[855]--Yet, strangely enough, this letter also
contains a sentence which denies absolute predestination to hell, the
only such denial known to have been made by Luther.[856] The text of
the letter has, however, not yet been verified critically. The words in
question appear to be a quotation from Augustine added by another hand
in extenuation of Luther’s doctrine.

Although Luther did not put forth his rigid doctrine of predestination
to hell either in his popular or strictly theological writings, yet, to
the end of his life, he never surrendered it; that he “never retracted
it” is emphasised even in Köstlin and Kawerau’s Life of Luther.[857]

Of his book against Erasmus Luther spoke long after as the only one,
save the Catechism, which he would be sorry to see perish.[858] In
reply to the question put by Caspar Aquila, a preacher, why so many
who heard the Word did not believe, he refused to ascribe this to
free-will, and as regards the temptations to despair, which the same
enquirer complained were the result of his thoughts on predestination,
Luther insisted, that God had not chosen to reveal His secret will
(“_maiestas lucis illius occultata et non significata est_”),
hence the need to turn away resolutely from such thoughts and to
defy this “greatest of all temptations, truly a devilish one.” He
refuses to withdraw even the proposition, that all things happen of
necessity.[859] In his later years he is fond of speaking of the
power of sin over man’s interior, and though he does not allude so
decidedly or so frequently to man’s “absolute and entire dependence
upon God’s Omnipotence,” yet he has by no means relinquished the idea.
Thus the “difference between his earlier and later years” is one only
of degree, i.e. he merely succeeded in keeping his theory more in the

The controversy with Erasmus did not cease with the appearance of
Luther’s book, on the contrary. Apart from the question itself, the
injustice done to the eminent scholar, and still more to the Church,
by the arrant perversion of his opponent’s words to which Luther
descended in order to stamp him and the Catholic doctrine of the past
as altogether un-Christian, could not be allowed to pass unchallenged.
It has been admitted, even by Protestants, as Luther’s constant policy
in this work to make Erasmus say, that, in order to arrive at salvation
it was sufficient to use free-will and that grace was unnecessary,
and then to conclude that the Holy Ghost and Christ were shamefully
set aside by Catholics. This Luther did (as Kattenbusch says) “by a
certain, of course _bona fide_, perversion of his [Erasmus’s] words, or
by a process of forced reasoning which can seldom, if indeed ever, be
regarded as justified.”[861]

4. New Views on the Secular Authorities

“Since the time of the Apostles no doctor or scribe, no theologian or
jurist has confirmed, instructed and comforted the consciences of the
secular Estates so well and lucidly as I have done.”[862]

“Even had I, Dr. Martin, taught or done no other good, save to
enlighten and instruct the secular government and authorities, yet for
this cause alone they ought to be thankful to and well-disposed towards
me, for they all of them, even my worst enemies, know that in Popery
such understanding of the secular power was not merely discountenanced,
but actually trampled under foot by the stinking, lousy priests, monks
and mendicant friars.”[863]

“In Popery,” as hundreds of documents attest, the people were taught,
as they always had been, that the secular government was divinely
appointed and altogether independent in its own sphere;[864] that
it was nevertheless to govern according to the dictates of law and
justice; that, far from neglecting it, it was to promote the eternal
welfare of the subject; finally, that it was bound to recognise the
Catholic Church as the supreme guardian, of both the natural and
religious law. Government and secular Estate could work in all freedom
and prosperity. All that Luther taught rightly concerning the secular
power had been proclaimed long before by the voice of the Church and
put into practice.[865] As to the new and peculiar doctrines he taught
in the first period of his career, they must now be examined.

A curious changeableness and want of logic are apparent, not merely
in his way of expressing himself, but also in his views. This was due
in part to the fact that his mental abilities lent themselves less to
the statement and defence of general theories than to controversy on
individual points, but still more to the influence on his doctrine
exercised by the changes proceeding in the outer world.

The main point with him in the matter of the secular authorities was,
whether they might demand obedience from him and his followers in
matters concerning the new doctrine, i.e. whether they might compel
them to forsake the innovations, or whether the Lutheran party had
the right to resist the authorities and the Emperor, even by the use
of force. Another question was whether Catholics could be left free
to practise their religion in localities where the authorities were
on Luther’s side. Were the authorities bound to respect Catholic
convictions, or had the Lutheran Prince or magistrate the right to
force the refractory to accept the innovations? Finally, Luther’s
relations with those parties within the new faith who differed from him
raised fresh questions: Were the evangelical authorities to tolerate
these sectarians, or were they to repress any deviation from the
Wittenberg doctrine?

To formulate any definite answers to such questions was rendered still
more difficult in Luther’s case by the fact that prudence compelled
him to exercise great reticence and caution in his utterances on many
such points.[866] On the one hand he might easily have spoilt his whole
work in the eyes of his cautious sovereign had he proclaimed openly
the right of his friends among the nobles to resist the Emperor even by
force. On the other, many would have been repelled had he laid down the
principle of intolerance towards Zwinglians and Anabaptists as strongly
at the commencement as he did later. In considering his doctrine
concerning the secular authorities and the obedience due to them, we
must simply take his utterances in their historical sequence, at the
same time keeping a watchful eye on his actual behaviour in which we
shall find at once their explanation and justification.[867] Only in
this way shall we arrive at a clear estimation of his tangled ideas on
secular authority and religious toleration.[868]

As to his varying theories,[869] at the outset and during the first
stage of his revolt against the Church, Luther was fond of launching
out into very questionable and far-reaching statements concerning the
secular authority, as appears, for instance, in his tract addressed
in 1520 to the German Nobility. Where the authorities are on the side
of the Evangel, their power is so great that they may exercise their
office “unhindered,” “even against Pope, bishop, parson, monk or nun
or whatever else there be”; in that case, too, the secular authorities
are perfectly justified in summoning clerics to answer before their
tribunal.[870] “St. Paul says to all Christians,” Luther argues, “‘Let
every soul’--hence, I suppose, even the Pope himself--‘be subject to
higher powers, for they bear not the sword in vain.’ ... St. Peter,
too, foretold that men would arise who would despise the temporal
rulers, which has indeed come to pass through the rights of the
clergy.”[871] In such wise does he charge the past.

But now, he continues (owing to his efforts), “the secular power
has become a member of the ghostly body, and, though its office is
temporal, yet it has been raised to a spiritual dignity; its work may
now be done freely and unhindered among all the members of the whole
body, punishing and compelling, where guilt deserves it or necessity
demands, regardless of Pope, bishop or priest, let them threaten
and ban as they please.”[872] It is clear how the interests of the
“reformation” he has planned impel him to extend the rights of the
secular power, even in the spiritual domain, over all who resist.

In his work “On the secular power,” of March, 1523, we find an entirely
different language.

Here he insists with great emphasis on the fact that the secular
authorities have no right to interfere in the spiritual domain. The
explanation of his change of attitude is that here he is thinking of
the Catholic authorities who were placing obstacles in the way of the
spread of the Lutheran apostasy. His teaching is: The secular power
exists and is ordained by God, but it has no concern with spiritual
matters, may not place difficulties in the way of the preaching of
the “Word,” and has no right to curtail the interests of the Evangel,
by prohibiting Luther’s books, by threatening excommunication, or by
hindering the new worship. He thus sets up general principles which are
quite at variance with the line of action he himself constantly pursued
where the authorities were favourable to his cause.

His teaching he expounds in this way: Temporal rulers are, it is true,
established in the world by the will of God and must be obeyed; but
their sword must not invade a domain which does not belong to them;
it is not their business to render men pious, and they have nothing
whatever to do with the good, their only object being to prevent
outward crimes and to maintain outward peace as “God’s task-masters and
executioners.”[873] He speaks almost as though there were two kingdoms
of men, one, of the wicked and those who are not “Christians,” coming
under the rule of the authorities and belonging to the kingdom of the
world; the other, the kingdom of God, whose members are not subject
to earthly laws and authorities; such are “all true believers in and
beneath Christ.”

Not only could this curious dualism be objected to on the score of
want of clearness, but the assertion that the secular power was merely
an “executioner” for the punishment of outward crime actually tended to
abase and degrade it. The olden Church had, on the contrary, exalted
the secular power by permitting its representatives to share in many
ways in the spiritual work of the Church, and by desiderating the
harmonious co-operation of the two powers, spiritual and secular, in
the interests of the ultimate end of mankind.

 The singular attitude adopted by Luther is to be explained, as hinted
 above, by the fact that, in his work “On the secular power,” he has
 allowed himself to be so largely influenced by polemical regard for
 the Catholic authorities, whom he describes as those blind, wretched
 people, the Emperor and the wise Princes and tyrants generally. He
 inveighs against the “clever squires who seek to uproot heresy,” and
 against “our Christian Princes, who defend the faith.” The authorities
 with whom he is here concerned consist almost exclusively of persons
 who, “instead of allowing God’s Word to have free course,” would fain
 impose by compulsion the faith of bygone days upon their subjects,
 thus creating “liars by constraint.” They “command men to feel with
 the Pope,” but they act “without the clear Word of God” and must
 therefore necessarily perish in their “perverted understanding.”[874]

 In the work in question he nevertheless seeks to establish a general
 theory, though, partly owing to its being forcibly shaped to meet the
 special needs of the case, partly because it was based on a certain
 kind of pseudo-mysticism, the theory remains open to many objections.

 The secular power (more particularly where it is Catholic) cannot
 exercise any authority in spiritual matters, hence, he says, “these
 two governments must be carefully kept asunder, and both be preserved,
 the one to render men pious, the other to safeguard outward peace
 and prevent evil deeds.”[875] In speaking as he does here and
 elsewhere in this work of the “two governments” he is, however, very
 far from acknowledging an independent ecclesiastical or spiritual
 government such as had existed in Catholicism. What he called
 spiritual government was “without law or command,” and merely “the
 inward sovereignty of the Word,” “Christ’s spiritual dominion” where
 souls are ruled by the Evangel; there the Word of God is furthered
 by teaching and the sacraments, by which minds are led and heresy
 vanquished; “for Christians must be ruled by faith, not by outward
 works.... Those who do not believe are not Christians and do not
 belong to Christ’s kingdom, but to the kingdom of the world, and
 must therefore be compelled and governed by the sword.” “Christians
 do all what is good without compulsion and God’s Word suffices
 them.”[876]--Hence it is certain that he does not look upon this
 kingdom of the Christian as a real government, seeing that it implies
 no jurisdiction. The power to make and enforce laws in this world
 belongs only to the secular authorities. They alone form on earth a
 real government. “Priests and bishops,” too, have neither “supremacy
 nor power.”[877]

 True believers are subject to “no laws and no sword,”[878] for they
 stand in need of none. For this reason Christ commands us not to
 make use of the sword and to refrain from violence. “The words of
 Christ are clear and peremptory: ‘resist not evil’” (Matt. v. 39).
 These words and the whole passage concerning the blow on the cheek,
 the Sophists (i.e. the Schoolmen) had indeed interpreted as a mere
 “counsel.” In reality, however, they constitute a command, though
 only for “Christians”; “the sword has no place among Christians,
 hence you cannot use it upon or among Christians, since they need it
 not.”[879] He is here addressing Duke Johann, the Elector’s brother,
 who sympathised with his cause and to whom, in the Preface, the
 work is dedicated. He goes on to tell him that the Christian ruler
 nevertheless must not lay aside the sword on account of what has just
 been said, for in point of fact there are few such “Christians,”
 wherefore the sword was still “useful and necessary everywhere.” “The
 world cannot and will not do without” authority. Even with the sword
 you still remain “true to the gospel,” he tells this Christian Prince,
 and still hold fast to Christ’s Word, “so that you would gladly offer
 the other cheek to the smiter and give up your cloak after your coat,
 if the matter affected yourself or your cause.”[880] Every Christian
 likewise must comply with the command to relinquish his rights,
 “allow himself to be insulted and disgraced,” but in his neighbour’s
 cause he must insist upon what is just, even to having recourse to the
 sword of authority.[881]

 In this way he fancies, as he says in the Dedication, that he is the
 first to instruct “the Princes and secular authorities to remain
 Christians with Christ as their Lord, and yet not to make mere
 counsels out of Christ’s commands”; but the “Sophists” “have made a
 liar of Christ and placed Him in the wrong in order that the Princes
 may be honoured.... Their poisonous error has made its way throughout
 the world, so that everyone looks upon Christ’s teaching as counsels
 for the perfect and not as obligatory commands, binding on all.”

 Should the secular power exceed its limits and the rulers demand what
 is against conscience, then God is to be obeyed rather than man.[882]
 He now comes to the new Evangel. If the authorities require you “to
 believe this or the other,” “or order you to put away certain books,
 you must reply, ... In this respect you are acting like tyrants; you
 are going too far and commanding where you have neither right nor
 power, etc. Should they thereupon seize your property and punish you
 for your disobedience, you should esteem yourself happy and thank
 God.”[883] In the County of Meissen, in Bavaria, and in the March,
 where the authorities required, under penalties, that his translation
 of the New Testament should be given up, he says, “the subjects are
 not to surrender a single leaflet, nor even a letter, if they do
 not wish to imperil their salvation, for whoever does such a thing,
 surrenders Christ into the hands of Herod.” They are, however, not to
 offer violent resistance, but to “suffer.”[884]

 The Imperial Edicts issued against the innovations led him to speak
 more fully of the interference of the secular authorities on behalf of
 religious doctrine generally. “God,” he declares, “will permit none
 to rule over the soul but Himself alone.... Hence, when the secular
 power takes upon itself to make laws for the soul it is trespassing
 upon God’s domain and merely seducing and corrupting souls. We are
 determined to make this so plain that everyone can grasp it, and that
 our squires, Princes and bishops may see what fools they are when with
 laws and commandments they try to force the people to believe this
 or that.”[885] Such meddling of the authorities with matters which
 did not concern them was, so he says, due to the “commandments of
 men,” and was therefore utterly at variance with “God’s Word.” God
 would have “our faith founded only on His Divine Word,” but what the
 worldly authorities were after “was uncertain, or rather, certainly,
 displeasing [to God], because there was no clear Word of God in its
 favour.” “Such things are enjoined by the devil’s apostles, not by
 the Church, for the Church commands nothing save when she knows for
 certain that it is according to the Word of God.... As for them, they
 will find it a hard job to prove that the decrees of the Councils are
 the Word of God.”[886]

 It is well worth our while to consider the following general grounds
 he assigns for his repudiation of all interference of the authorities
 in matters of faith, for, not long after, his position will be very
 different. He declares that, speaking generally, the authorities have
 “no power over souls”; the soul is removed altogether from the hands
 of men and “placed in the hands of God alone.” The ruler has just as
 little control over a soul as he has over the moon. “Who would not
 be accounted crazy who commanded the moon to shine at his pleasure?”
 Besides, Pope, Bishops and Schoolmen are “without God’s Word,” “and
 yet they wish to be termed Christian Princes, which may God prevent!”
 Further proofs follow from the Bible, where we read, that God alone
 knows and governs all things, and from the fact, that “every man’s
 salvation depends on his belief, and he must accordingly look to it
 that he believes aright”; “faith is a voluntary act to which no one
 can be forced, nay, it is a Divine work of the Spirit.” Moreover, “it
 is a vain and impossible thing” to compel the heart, and God will
 bring to a dreadful pass the purblind rulers who are now attempting

 His conclusion is that “the secular power must be content to wait and
 allow people to believe this or the other as they please and are able,
 and not to compel any man by force.”[888]

 “Heresy can never be withstood by force,” he says further on.
 “Something else is needed.... God’s Word must here do the work, and
 if it fails, then the secular power will certainly not achieve it,
 though it should fill the world with blood.... God’s Word alone
 can be effective.” Hence the squires should learn at last to cease
 “destroying ‘heresy,’ and allow God’s Word which enlightens the heart”
 to have its way.[889]

 Nevertheless, he admits that it is the right of the bishops to
 “restrain heretics.” “The bishops must do this, for it appertains
 to their office though not to the Princes”--a theory which Luther
 persistently refused to see carried to its logical conclusion. He also
 admits, that “no one has a right to command souls unless he knows
 how to show them the way to heaven,”--though here, again, he would
 have denied the consequence which Catholics gathered from this truth,
 when they urged that the measures adopted by the Empire against the
 innovations were for the safeguarding of the road to heaven, which an
 infallible Church points out to mankind. In Luther’s opinion there
 no longer existed any Church able to “point out the way to heaven”
 without danger of error. “This no man can do,” he exclaims in the
 same passage,[890] “but God alone.” It was hopeless for Catholics to
 argue that the Church did so only in God’s name, and under explicit
 promise of His assistance. Facts are there to prove that, at the
 very time when Luther was proclaiming his theories of religious
 toleration, he was setting them at nought in the most outrageous
 fashion where Catholics were concerned; he was, however, careful to
 veil his invitation to abolish their faith and worship under the
 specious pretext of demolishing abuses, sacrilege and the Kingdom of
 Antichrist. Nor was it long before he invoked the help of the secular
 power against sectarians within his own camp.

 Where, towards the close of the work “On the secular power,” Luther
 passes on to show how Princes, who are “desirous of acting as
 Christian Princes and lords,” ought to administer their authority, he
 reaches a less controversial subject and is able to expound in that
 popular, imaginative language which he knew so well how to handle
 certain wholesome views which had already found expression in earlier
 times. In the forcible exhortations he here gives, rulers desirous
 of profiting might have found much to learn. Whoever wishes to be a
 Christian Prince must above all “lay aside the notion that he is to
 rule and govern by violence.” “Justice must reign at all times and
 in everything.” His whole mind must be set on “making himself of use
 and service to his subjects.” Secondly, “he must keep an eye on the
 Jacks-in-office and on his councillors, and behave towards them in
 such a way as not to despise any of them, while at the same time not
 confiding in any one man to such an extent as to leave everything to
 him.” “Thirdly, he must take care to deal rightly with evil-doers.”
 “He must not follow those advisers and fire-eaters who urge and tempt
 him to make war.” “Fourthly--what ought really to have been placed
 first-- ... the ruler must behave towards his God as a Christian,
 submitting himself to Him with entire confidence, and praying for
 wisdom to rule well.”[891]

 Concerning the latter point, viz. the attitude of the ruler towards
 God and towards religion, which, according to Luther, really should
 come first, the exhortations of earlier days addressed to the rulers,
 hardly ever failed to represent the protection of the Kingdom of God
 as the noblest task of any sovereign, who looked beyond temporal
 things to the world to come. Luther himself at a later period commends
 the protection and extension of the Kingdom of God most earnestly and
 eloquently to all rulers who followed the new faith, and instances
 the example of the Jewish Kings and Jewish priesthood.[892] Here,
 however, where he is full of other interests, we find not a word
 of the kind. On the subject of their relation to God, all he does
 is to remind the Princes in one sentence of the need of “true
 confidence and heartfelt prayer,” and, having done so, he breaks off
 and hurriedly brings the work to an end. In this circumstance, in
 itself insignificant, Luther’s violent breach with tradition is very
 apparent. Here, where, for the first time in any work of his, he
 puts forth his views as to what the conduct of secular authorities
 should be, in dealing with their relations to faith and worship, he
 has not a word in support of the recommendation to protect religion,
 albeit so justifiable and hitherto so usual; he could not give such
 a recommendation, because a few pages before he had laid it down
 that “the secular government has laws which do not extend beyond
 life and property and what is external on earth.” “The secular power
 must leave people free to believe this or that as they please”; “the
 blind, miserable wretches [the Catholic Princes] see not how vain
 and impossible a thing they are undertaking.”[893]--Nowhere in the
 writing, as a Protestant theological critic remarks, “does the idea
 appear that a Christian ruler has the right or the duty to pass beyond
 the limits of his temporal jurisdiction and to concern himself with
 ecclesiastical matters.”[894]

It is quite remarkable how Luther reduces the action of the secular
power and the rights of the authorities to a judicial constraint to be
exercised against evil-doers, or, as he says, to the task of a mere

For the explanation of these ideas on the secular power, two points are
of especial importance: In the first place, Luther was at that time
somewhat disappointed with the Princes and the nobles. In his work “To
the Nobility” he had urged them to make an end of the Papal rule, and
now he was vexed to see that, almost to a man, they had declined to do
anything, whilst he himself was under the ban of the Empire. Secondly,
it was his idea of the inward action of the Evangel upon souls and his
conception of a sort of invisible Church, which induced him to exclude
altogether the secular power from the spiritual domain, and to speak
in exaggerated and disparaging terms of the “outward actions” with
which alone it was concerned. In those years, when he was still to
some extent under the influence of his early pseudo-mysticism, he was
fond of picturing to himself the community of believers as an assembly
of all those who had been awakened by “the Word,” and who, in spirit,
were far above the compulsion of any earthly regulations. Thus, with
him, the Church, in comparison with the political community, tended to
evaporate into a mere union of souls, scarcely perceptible to earthly

To us now it is clear that, in spite of every effort to the contrary,
the new Church was bound in process of time to become entirely
dependent on the secular power, first and foremost in its outward
administration. Luther’s spiritual Church could not endure but for the
support of the authorities.

It is notorious that the tendency to make his Church depend upon the
secular authorities, as soon as they had embraced his cause, was part
of Luther’s plan from the very outset. A State Church corresponded
with his requirements. However much at the commencement Luther might
emphasise the congregational ideal, tracing the whole authority of the
freshly formed communities back to it, viz. to the priestly powers
inherent in all the faithful, yet, as occasion arises, he falls back on
the one external authority left standing, now that he has definitely
set aside one of the two powers recognised of old.

In the sixteenth century the Church was confronted not only by official
Protestantism, but by various other opposing bodies, Anabaptists,
fanatics and anti-Trinitarians. If among all these only the Wittenberg,
Zürich and Geneva groups “were able to assert themselves, this,”
says a recent Protestant theologian, Paul Wernle, “was not due, or
at least not solely due, to the fact, that they were more true or
more profound than the others, but that they accommodated themselves
better to existing conditions, and, above all, to the State.”[896] Karl
Sell, a Protestant professor of theology, speaks in the same strain:
“Where the Reformation gained the day it did so with the help of the
secular power, of the Princes or republics and, in every instance,
the Reformation itself strengthened the power of these authorities.
Upon them devolved the new office of caring ... for religion.... Thus
_the_ duty of providing for wholesome doctrine and right faith, for
the doctrine which alone could be pleasing to God, became one of the
principal concerns of the rulers; hence arose the strict adherence to
orthodoxy, the exclusion of erroneous teaching from the confines of the
State, in short, the theological police system which prevailed in all
Protestant countries till the middle of the seventeenth century.”[897]

The tendency to seek an alliance with the secular powers did not,
however, hinder Luther from degrading the authorities and the Princes
in the eyes of the people in the most relentless and public manner.
In his mortification at the want of response to his call he allowed
himself to be carried away to strictures and predictions which greatly
excited the masses.

 In his work “On the secular power” he asks: “Would you learn why God
 has decreed such a terrible fate to befall the worldly Princes?” His
 answer is: “God has delivered them up to a perverted mind and means to
 make an end of them, just as in the case of the clerical Princes....
 Secular lords should rule over the land and the people in outward
 matters. This they neglected. All they could do was to rob and oppress
 the people, heaping tax upon tax and rate upon rate.” He reminds his
 readers that the Romans, too, acted unjustly in things both spiritual
 and temporal--until “they were destroyed. There now! there you see
 God’s judgment on the great braggarts.”[898]--“There are few Princes,”
 he says, in the same writing, “who are not regarded as either fools
 or knaves. This is because they prove themselves to be such, and the
 common people are growing to understand it; scorn for Princes, which
 God calls ‘_contemptum_,’ prevails among the peasants and common folk;
 and I fear there will be no stopping this unless the Princes behave
 as beseems Princes and begin again to govern reasonably and justly.
 Your tyranny and wantonness cannot be endured much longer.”[899] His
 chief grievance here and elsewhere is, that the rulers do not allow
 the gospel to be freely preached, but their “dancing, hunting, races,
 games and such-like worldly pleasures” he also holds up to execration.
 “Who does not know that in heaven a Prince is like a hare?” i.e. it
 would take many beaters to locate one.[900] “I do not say these things
 in the hope that the secular Princes will profit”; it is not indeed
 absolutely impossible for a Prince to be a good Christian, “but such
 a case is rare.” A Prince who is at the same time a Christian is
 “one of the greatest wonders and a most precious sign of the potency
 of Divine Grace.”[901]--It has been already pointed out that, in
 seeking the causes of the Peasant-War, we must take into account these
 inflammatory discourses of Luther’s to the people and his imperious
 demand for freedom to preach the “Evangel.”

 In his “Exhortation to Peace” of the year 1525, he addresses “the
 Princes and Lords,” spiritual and temporal, and tells them they have
 themselves to blame for the seditious risings of the peasants: “We
 have no one on earth to thank for such disorder and revolt but you,
 Princes and Lords, and more particularly you, blind bishops and mad
 priests”; you are not merely enemies of the Evangel, but “rob and
 tax in order to live in luxury and state, until the poor, common
 people neither can nor will bear it any longer. The sword is at your
 throat,” etc.; here he is speaking to the “tyrannical and raging
 authorities,” as he terms them, of that sword which, according to the
 words he had flung among the people in earlier years, had long been
 unsheathed.[902]--To Frederick his Elector he had written, on March
 7, 1522, that the Princes who were hostile to the Evangel did not see
 that they were “forcing the people to rebel, and behaving as though
 they wished themselves or their children to be exterminated; this,
 without a doubt, God will send as a punishment.”[903]

 How Luther was wont to criticise the authorities in his sermons,
 regardless of the effect it might produce in such a period of
 excitement, appears from a sermon preached on August 20, 1525, i.e. at
 the time of the great peasant rising in Germany.

 “Let anyone count up the Princes and rulers who fear God more than
 man. How many do you think they will number? You could write all their
 names on one finger, or as someone has said, on a signet ring.”[904]
 “At the Courts nowadays infidelity, egotism and avarice prevail among
 the Princes and their councillors ... they say: my will be done and
 forget that there is a God in heaven above.”[905] “These braggarts and
 great lords think they are always in the right, and want others to
 give judgment and pass sentence as pleases them. If this is not done,
 woe betide the judge.”[906]

 In the same sermon, it is true, Luther quotes, happily and at the same
 time forcibly, passages from Holy Scripture in praise of good rulers.
 In his popular style he points out what should be the qualities of
 a righteous sovereign who is solicitous for his people’s welfare.
 Such a ruler, he says, is courageous and determined in dealing with
 evil of every sort, and says to himself: “Even though this rich,
 powerful, strong man, be he Jack or peer, becomes my enemy, I don’t
 care. By virtue of my office and calling I have one on my side who is
 far stronger, more respected and more powerful than he, and though
 he [the enemy] should have all the devils, Princes and Kings on his
 side, all worse than himself, what is all that to me if He Who sits
 up there in Heaven is with me? All undertakings should be decided in
 this way, and one should say: Dear Lord, I leave it in Thy hands,
 though it should cost me my life. Then God answers: Be steadfast and
 I will also stand by you.” Luther nevertheless concludes: “But where
 will you find such rulers? Where are they?”[907] In his sermon of
 December 3, likewise, he had drawn a beautiful picture of the modesty
 and renunciation which the example of Christ teaches both Princes and
 people. Yet there again, at the conclusion, we find him saying: “There
 is no kingdom that is not addicted to plunder. The Princes are a gang
 of cut-purses.”[908]

In the writing “On the secular power,” to which we must here revert,
Luther says, that the Princes are, as a rule, “the biggest fools or the
worst knaves on the surface of the earth”; a good Prince “had always
been a rare bird from the beginning of the world.” Because the world
is “of the devil,” therefore “its Princes too are of a like nature.”
In spite of this Luther ends by saying, that as God’s “hangmen,” the
Princes ought to be obeyed.[909] Later on he was to declare that the
passages from the Bible, which he had here quoted in support of this
obedience, were his best defence against the charge of diminishing the
respect due to Princes, or of teaching rebellion. “The fact that, in
that work, I based and confirmed the temporal supremacy and obedience
on Scripture is of itself sufficient refutation of such slanders.”[910]

When he asserts in the above writing, that “Among Christians no
authority can or ought to exist, but that everyone should be subject
to all,”[911] his intention was not, as has sometimes been erroneously
supposed by his opponents, to incite the people against the secular
power; the words, though badly chosen, must be understood in connection
with his mystical theory of the true believers, i.e. of the invisible
Church, being intended to convey, that no authority should rule by
enforced commands, but that, on the contrary, all must ‘serve,’ and
that even superiors should be mindful of their duty of ‘service.’ It
is not, however, very surprising that such a statement, so unwisely
expressed in general terms as that, “among Christians there neither
can nor ought to be any authority,” when taken out of its context and
published abroad among the people, was misapplied by the malcontents,
more especially when taken in conjunction with other questionable
utterances of Luther’s.

His experience with the fanatics, and, still more, the events of the
Peasant-War, caused Luther to dwell more and more strongly on the
duty and right of the authorities to exercise compulsion towards

In the work “Against the Heavenly Prophets,” the first published in the
stormy year 1525, he says: “The principal thing” required to protect
the people against the devils who were teaching through the mouths
of the Anabaptist prophets was, “in the case of the common people,”
compulsion by the sword and by law. The authorities must force them to
be at least “outwardly pious” (true Christians, of course, do all of
themselves); the law with its penalties rules over them in the same
way that “wild beasts are held in check by chains and bars, in order
that outward peace may prevail among the people; for this purpose the
temporal authorities are ordained, and it is God’s will that they be
honoured and feared.”[913] The change in his views concerning the
treatment of sectarians and heretics will, however, be considered

On the other hand, it must be pointed out here that he at least allows
the supreme secular power such authority as to deprecate any armed
resistance to it, even where the Evangel is oppressed. In his work “On
the secular power” we find him stating: “I say briefly that no Prince
may make war on his over-Lord, such as the King, or the Emperor, or any
other feudal superior, but must allow him to seize what he pleases.
For the higher authorities must not be resisted by force, but merely
by bringing them to a knowledge of the truth. If they are converted,
it is well; if not, you are free from blame, and suffer injustice for
God’s sake.”[915]--As early as 1520 we find him saying: “Even though
the authorities act unjustly God wills that they should be obeyed
without deceit, unless, indeed, they insist publicly on the doing of
what is wrong towards God or men; for to suffer unjustly harms no man’s
soul, indeed is profitable to it.”[916] At the outset he persisted in
dissuading Princes favourable to his cause from armed resistance to the

His earlier unwillingness, however, only contrasts the more strangely
with his later attitude, particularly after the Diet of Augsburg, when
his position had become stronger and when danger appeared to threaten
the new Evangel from the Imperial power, even though all the Emperor’s
steps were merely in accordance with the ancient laws of the Empire.
Addressing the protesting Princes, he tells them they must act as so
many Constantines in defence of their cause, and not wince at bloodshed
in order to protect the Evangel against the furious, soul-destroying
attacks of the new Licinii. His change of front in thus inciting to
rebellion he covered, by declaring he was most ready to render to Cæsar
the things that were Cæsar’s, but that when the Emperor forbade “what
God in His Word [according to Luther’s interpretation] had taught and
commanded,” then he was going beyond his province; in such a case it
was well to remember that “God still retained what was His,” “and that
they, the tyrants, had lost everything and suffered shipwreck.”[917] In
this case the action taken by the temporal power according to law must,
he says, be forcibly frustrated by the subject. New theories as to the
rights of the Emperor and the Princes did their part in justifying
these demands in his eyes. “Gradually,” says Fr. von Bezold, “his
experience of the limitations of the Imperial power and the liberty of
the Princes of the Empire brought about a change in him. Thus he became
... the father of the doctrine of the right of resistance.”[918]

In 1522 he had written in quite a different strain to his Elector. At
that time the critical question of the latter’s attitude towards the
Imperial authority and of the protection to be afforded Luther against
the Emperor was under discussion. “In the sight of men it behoves Your
Electoral Highness to act as follows: As Elector to render obedience
to the power established and allow His Imperial Majesty to dispose of
life and property in the towns and lands subject to Your Electoral
Highness, as is right and in accordance with the laws of the Empire;
nor to oppose or resist, or seek to place any obstacle or hindrance
in the way of the aforesaid power should it wish to lay hands on me
or kill me.... If Your Electoral Highness were a believer, you would
see in this the glory of God, but since you are not yet a believer,
you have seen nothing so far.”[919] This, compared to the summons to
resistance, spoken of above, reads like an invitation to submit with
entire patience to those who were persecuting the Evangel. It is true
that the then position of affairs to some extent explains the case. The
writer was well aware that the Elector might be relied upon to protect
him, he also knew that a little temporary self-restraint in his demands
would do his cause no harm, and that a profession of entire readiness
to sacrifice himself would be most conducive to his interests.[920]

But from this time the opinion that, in the pressing interests of
the gospel, it was permissible to make use of violence against the
authorities and their worldly regulations, breaks out repeatedly, and,
in spite of the reticence he frequently displays and of his warnings
against rebellion and revolt, he is quite unable to conceal his inner
feeling. Many passages of an inflammatory character have already been
instanced above and might be cited here.[921]

The opposition smouldering in his breast to the conduct of the
authorities in the matter of religious practices differing from
their own, comes out very strongly at an early period. Though he
declared that he had no wish to interfere, yet, even in 1522, he
requested Frederick the Elector of Saxony, through the intermediary
of Spalatin,[922] to have Masses prohibited as idolatrous, “an
interference in religious matters on the part of the authorities,”
as Fr. Paulsen remarks, “which it is difficult to reconcile with the
position which Luther assigns to them in 1523 in his work ‘On the
secular power.’”[923] Paulsen also recalls the statement (above, p.
300) that a sovereign may not even order his subjects to surrender the
book of the gospels, and that whoever obeyed such an order was handing
over Christ to Herod. It is true, he concludes, that here the order
would have emanated from “Popish authorities.”

When the Canons of Altenburg, in accordance with their chartered
rights, wished, in 1522, to resist the appointment of a Lutheran
preacher in that town, neither olden law nor the orders of the
authorities availed anything with Luther, as we shall see below (p. 314
ff); “against this [the introduction of the Evangel] no seals, briefs,
custom or right are valid,” he writes; it was the duty of the Elector
“as a Christian ruler to encounter the wolves.” Finally, we have the
outburst: “God Himself has abrogated all authority and power where it
is opposed to the Evangel, ‘we must obey God rather than men’” (Acts v.

Here we have a practical commentary on what he says when speaking of
the “Word” which must make its way alone: “The Word of God is a sword,
is destruction, vexation, ruin, poison, and as Amos says, like a bear
in the path and a lioness in the wood.”[925]

Even in his sermon on Good Works in 1520 he had made a remarkable
application of the above principle of the abrogation of all authority
in the case of those who ruled in defiance of God: People must not, he
declares in accordance with Acts v. 29, allow themselves to be forced
to act contrary to God’s law; “If a Prince whose cause is obviously
unjust wishes to make war, he must not be followed or assisted,
because God has commanded us not to kill our neighbour or to do him an
injury.”[926] A Protestant theologian and historian of Luther remarks
on this: “Luther does not, however, explain how far the responsibility,
right and duty of the subject extends, and clearly had not given this
matter any careful consideration.”[927]

A want of “consideration” may be averred by the historian concerning
all Luther’s theoretical statements on secular authority during the
first period of his career. The historian will find it impossible to
discover in Luther’s views on this subject the thread which, according
to many modern Protestant theologians, runs through his new theories.
Wilhelm Hans, a Protestant theologian, was right when he wrote in
1901: “Luther’s lack of system is nowhere more apparent than in his
views concerning the authorities and their duty towards religion. The
attempt to sum up in a logical system the ideas which he expressed on
this subject under varying circumstances and at different times, and
to bring these ideas into harmony with his practice, will ever prove a
failure. It will never be possible to set aside the contradictions in
his theory, and between his theory and his practice.”[928]

5. How the New Church System was Introduced

A complete account of the introduction of the new ecclesiastical system
will become possible only when impartial research has made known to us
more fully than hitherto the proceedings in the different localities
according to the records still extant.

Some districts were thrown open to the new Evangel without any
difficulty because the inhabitants, or people of influence, believed
they would thus be bringing about a reformation in the true sense of
the word, i.e. be contributing to the removal of ecclesiastical abuses
deplored by themselves and by all men of discernment.

 In the opinion of many, to quote words written by Döllinger when yet
 a Catholic, “there was on the one side a large body of prelates,
 ecclesiastical dignitaries and beneficiaries who, too well-provided
 with worldly goods, lived carelessly, troubling themselves little
 about the distress and decay of the Church, and even looking with
 complacent indolence at the stormy attacks directed against her; on
 the other side stood a simple Augustinian monk, who neither possessed
 nor sought for what those men either enjoyed in plenty or were
 striving to obtain, but who, for that very reason, was able to wield
 weapons not at their command; to fight with spirit, irresistible
 eloquence and theological knowledge, with invincible self-confidence,
 steadfast courage, enthusiasm, yea, with the energy of a will called
 to dominate the minds of men and gifted with untiring powers for
 work. Germany was at that time still virgin soil; journalism was
 yet unknown; little, and that of no great importance, had as yet
 been written on subjects of public and general interest. Higher
 questions which might otherwise have engrossed people’s minds were
 not then mooted, thus people were all the more open to religious
 excitement, while at the same time the nation, as yet unaccustomed
 to pompous declamation and exaggerated rhetoric, was all the more
 ready to believe every word which fell from the lips of a man who,
 as priest and professor of theology at one of the Universities, had,
 at the peril of his life, raised the most terrible charges against
 the Church, charges too which on the whole met with comparatively
 little contradiction. His accusations, his appeals to a consoling
 doctrine, hitherto maliciously repressed and kept under a bushel,
 he proclaimed in the most forcible of language, ever appealing to
 Christ and the gospel, and ever using figures from the Apocalypse
 to rate the Papacy and the state of the Church in general, figures
 which could not fail to fire the imagination of his readers. Luther’s
 popular tracts, which discussed for the first time the ecclesiastical
 system as a whole, with all its defects, were on the one hand
 couched in biblical phraseology and full of quotations and ideas
 from Holy Scripture, while at the same time they were the work of a
 demagogue, well aware of the object in view, and perfectly alive to
 the weaknesses of the national character. His writings could equally
 well be discussed in the tap-rooms and market-places of the cities
 or preached from the pulpits. Even more efficacious than the methods
 employed in propagating it were the motives embodied in the system
 itself; the doctrines--brought before the people in so many sermons,
 hymns and tracts--on justification without any preparation, by the
 mere imputation of the sufferings and merits of Christ, were sweet,
 consoling and welcome.... Then there was the new Christian freedom ...
 the abolition of the obligation to confess, to fast, etc. ‘Oh, what
 a grand doctrine that was,’ Wicel wrote at a later date, ‘not to be
 obliged to confess any more, nor to pray, nor to fast, nor to make
 offerings or give alms.... You ought surely to have been able to catch
 two German lands, not one only, with such bait, and to have dragged
 them into your net. For if you give a man his own way, it is easy to
 convert him.’”[929]

_Altenburg, Lichtenberg, Schwarzburg, Eilenburg_

When the first preacher of the Lutheran faith at Altenburg in the
Saxon Electorate, Gabriel Zwilling, a former comrade of Carlstadt’s,
began to behave in too violent and arrogant a manner, Luther, out
of consideration for his sovereign, admonished him to “lay aside
all presumption” and to “leave God to do everything.” “You must not
press for innovations, but, as I besought you once before, free
consciences by means of the Word alone, and by exhorting to pure faith
and charity.... I gave my word to the Prince that you would do this,
so don’t act otherwise and bring shame on me, upon yourself and the
Evangel. You see the people running after external things, sacraments
and ceremonies; this you must oppose and make an end of; see that you
lead them first to faith and charity in order that by their fruits they
may show themselves to be a branch of our Vine.”[930]

As, however, the gentle methods which Luther had promised his Elector
to employ did not appear to suffice, recourse was had to force. The
town-council, with the support of the inhabitants of Wittenberg, boldly
threw law and custom overboard.

Prejudiced in favour of Luther, they had invited him to visit Altenburg
and to preach there, and he had agreed. On that occasion Luther had
recommended Gabriel Zwilling to the magistracy as resident preacher, in
spite of the Anabaptist tendencies he had already shown. The Canons,
who were faithful to the Church and who for centuries had the gift
of the livings, opposed the appointment of Zwilling to one of the
parishes. Thereupon the town-council, in a complaint composed by Luther
himself, declared that, as the natural and duly appointed senate of
the congregation, it had the right to decide; that the councillors
were, by virtue of their office, not merely responsible for the secular
government, but also were bound by the duty of “fraternal Christian
charity” to interfere on behalf of the Evangel. The council, or
rather Luther, also pointed out, that according to Matthew vii. every
man has the right to drive away ravening wolves, that the Canons
with the Provost at their head were indeed such, not having scrupled
to appropriate the revenues, whilst all the while teaching false
doctrine; “Scripture does not give power to a ‘_Concilium_,’ but to
each individual Christian to judge of doctrine, to detect the wolves
and to avoid them.... Each one must believe for himself and be able to
distinguish between true and false doctrine.”[931] Luther here at one
and the same time, because it happens to serve his purpose, advocates
an extravagant religious freedom, manifestly inconsistent with any
religious commonwealth, and yet denies the unfortunate Canons any
liberty whatsoever: “They must either hold their tongues or teach the
pure Evangel”--or else depart elsewhere.

Luther supported the manifesto in a letter addressed to the Elector in
which he declares, that, “God Himself has abrogated all authority and
power where it opposes the gospel,”[932] though he does not say who is
to decide whether anyone may quote the gospel in his own favour, and
what is to be done if the authorities themselves assume the right of
“deciding in matters of doctrine.”

The Provost of the Canons, in the matter of the appointment,
represented the lawful authority. To the demand of the councillors
he replied by asking what they would say were he to appoint a new
burgomaster at Altenburg; yet they had as little right to introduce
a preacher as he would have to interfere in their affairs; further,
it was not his duty to stand by and see his collegiate establishment
deprived of any of its chartered rights.[933]

The decision came at last before the Elector. He refused to confirm the
appointment of Zwilling in his office of preacher, as his turbulent
Anabaptist views did not inspire confidence. In the summer of 1522,
however, he bestowed the appointment on Wenceslaus Link, one of
Luther’s friends, without paying any attention to the Canons and
obviously acting on Luther’s advice. Link, in February, 1523, resigned
the office of Vicar-General of the Augustinian Congregation, and soon
after was married by Luther himself at Altenburg. The Canons protested
in vain against the compulsion exercised.

In the spring, 1524, Link succeeded in inducing the council of
Altenburg to prohibit the Franciscans from celebrating Mass in public,
preaching and hearing confessions. The council vindicated its action
in a document--probably composed by Link--addressed to the Elector,
in which from the Old and New Testament it is shown that rulers must
not tolerate “idolatry.”[934] When Spalatin, after resigning his post
as Court Chaplain, became parish priest of Altenburg, he at once set
about suppressing the Catholic worship even in the Collegiate Church
of the town. A demand for the suppression of the “idolatrous worship”
at Altenburg, which Luther had addressed to the Elector on July 20,
1525,[935] was followed by another composed by Spalatin in October of
the same year.[936] Both were full of attacks on the un-Christian,
blasphemous mischief to which an end ought to be put. On January 10,
1526, a fresh document of a similar nature, written by Spalatin and two
Altenburg preachers, was forwarded to the Elector. There we read that
the sovereign, if he wishes to escape the severe chastisements of God,
must follow the example of the pious Jewish kings, who rooted out the
abomination of idolatry. Owing to the continuance of the service in
the Collegiate Church at Altenburg, the weak were exposed to spiritual
danger, and he must furthermore consider that “many a poor man would
readily come over to the Evangel if this miserable business were made
an end of.” The utmost that could be permitted was, that the Canons
should perform “their ceremonies in the most private fashion, with
locked doors, no one else being admitted.”[937]

This petition was at once based by Luther on the general theological
principles referred to above, i.e. the statement he had addressed
to the Elector, declaring that, owing to the value of the Evangel,
no place must be allowed in the Electorate for the practice of any
religion other than the “evangelical”: Let there be but one doctrine
in every place! Luther adds, that the Canons of Altenburg had indeed
alleged their conscience, but that this was not a true conscience but
merely a fictitious one, otherwise they would have agreed “to allow
their conscience to be formed and instructed from Scripture.” This
they had refused to do, and had appealed instead to traditional usage
“as vouched for by the Church,” “thereby giving ample proof that their
plea concerning their conscience was an invention and only brought
forward for the sake of preserving appearances; for a true conscience
desires nothing so ardently as to be instructed from Scripture.” If
they wished to continue publicly to blaspheme the true God by their
worship, they must “prove from Scripture their right and authorisation
to do so.”[938] The Canons were convinced that there was no need for
them to prove to Luther their right from the Bible, and also that the
best proof would be of no avail. The decision on the validity of any
such proof lay in the last instance with the Electoral Court, and he
would indeed have been blind who could have expected in that quarter
any judgment differing from Luther’s.

       *       *       *       *       *

Recourse was accordingly taken to force, and the Catholic religion was
obliged to retire from its last foothold. Nevertheless, a large number
of the burghers of Altenburg remained secretly faithful to the Church
of their fathers. When, in 1528, the Lutheran visitors held an enquiry
there, the town-councillors, who themselves were on the side of Luther,
declared there were still “many Papists” in the town.[939]

       *       *       *       *       *

Lichtenberg, in the Saxon Electorate, affords an example of how
Catholic ecclesiastics themselves promoted the falling away of their
flock by being the first to join the party of the innovators, sometimes
merely in order to be able to marry. As soon as Luther had heard that
Wolfgang Reissenbusch, the clerical preceptor and administrator of the
property belonging to the Antonines, was showing signs of a desire for
matrimony, by means of the seductive letter of March 27, 1525, already
quoted above,[940] he invited him to carry out his project boldly.
After his marriage, and notwithstanding the fact of his broken vow,
the monk not only retained his spiritual office, but even continued to
administer the temporalities of his Order, in defiance of all justice.
According to the custom now introduced, the property was placed at the
disposal of the Elector. Reissenbusch enjoyed the favour of the Court,
and in due course became one of the councillors of the Elector; his
district was gradually won over to Lutheranism.

       *       *       *       *       *

Count Johann Heinrich of Schwarzburg, son of Count Günther one of
Luther’s enemies, wished to see the new church system introduced in his
domains, but met with the resistance of the monks to whom his father,
legally and in due form, had entrusted the livings. He accordingly
approached Luther with the question whether he might deprive them of
the livings, rights and property.

 Luther soon came to a decision, replied in the affirmative and
 proceeded to explain to his questioner how he might quiet his
 conscience.[941] The Count’s father had made the transfer on the
 condition that the monks should: “Keep their observance and above
 all preach the Gospel.” Upon taking over the cure of souls they had
 assumed the usual obligation of preaching the Catholic faith. Now,
 he continues, it is only necessary that the Count should summon them
 before him, and in the presence of witnesses prove from their replies
 that they had not preached the Gospel (i.e. not according to Luther);
 thereupon he would have the “right and the power, indeed it would be
 his duty, to take the livings away from them ... for it is not unjust,
 but an urgent duty, to drive away the wolf from the sheepfold....
 No preacher receives property and emoluments for doing harm, but in
 order that he may make men pious. If, therefore, he does not make them
 pious, the goods are no longer his. Such is my brief answer.” This was
 indeed the principle which he applied throughout the Saxon Electorate.
 The result of its application to the bishoprics of Germany and to the
 great ecclesiastical domains in the Empire was to overthrow the very
 foundation of the law of property. If the bishop, abbot or provost no
 longer succeeds in making people pious, “then the property no longer
 belongs to him.”

 Johann Heinrich of Schwarzburg at once seized upon the property and
 rights which his father had made over by charter to the Catholic
 Church. The monks were ousted, the livings seized, the new teaching
 was introduced and the Count became the founder of Lutheranism in

In Eilenburg Luther proceeded through the agency at once of his
sovereign and the town-councillors, who were no less zealous than the
Prince himself in their efforts to extend their sphere of influence.
Luther himself had already worked there in person for his cause. On
the occasion of his second stay at Eilenburg he found the councillors
somewhat lacking in zeal. Those who favoured the innovations were,
however, of opinion that if the Elector were to invite them to apply
for a preacher, they would do so. There is no doubt that the Catholic
consciences of the councillors were still troubled with scruples, and
that the demand of a number of the new believers among the people had
as yet failed to move them.

Luther accordingly wrote from Eilenburg to the Court Chaplain,
Spalatin, asking him to employ his influence with the Elector in the
usual way. He was to obtain from the latter a letter addressed to
the town-councillors begging them to “yield to the poor people in
this so essential and sacred a matter,” and to summon one of the two
preachers whom he at once proposed. The reason he gives in these words:
“It is the duty of the sovereign, as ruler and brother Christian, to
drive away the wolves and to be solicitous for the welfare of his
people.”[942] The change of religion was thereupon actually carried
out, under the Elector’s pressure, in true bureaucratic fashion as
a matter appertaining to the magistracy. One of the two preachers
proposed, Andreas Kauxdorf of Torgau, arrived shortly after, having
been dutifully accepted by the councillors. He was permitted to
Lutheranise the people, however reluctant and faithful to the Church
they might be. He remained there from 1522 to 1543, in which year he

_General Phenomena accompanying the Religions Change_

It not infrequently happened that the people were deceived by faithless
and apostate clerics who became preachers of the new religion, and
were drawn away from the olden faith without being clearly aware of
the fact. After having become gradually and most insensibly accustomed
to the new faith and worship, not even the bravest had, as a rule,
the strength to draw back. The want of religious instruction among
the people was here greatly to blame, likewise the lack of organised
ecclesiastical resistance to the error, and also, the indolence of the

Mass still continued to be said in many places where Lutheranism had
taken root, though in an altered form, a fact which contributed to the
deception. One of the chief of Luther’s aims was to combat the Mass as
a sacrifice.

He expressed this quite openly to Henry VIII in 1522: “If I succeed
in doing away with the Mass, then I shall believe I have completely
conquered the Pope. On the Mass, as on a rock, the whole of the Papacy
is based, with its monasteries, bishoprics, colleges, altars, services
and doctrines.... If the sacrilegious and cursed custom of Mass is
overthrown, then the whole must fall. Through me Christ has begun to
reveal the abomination standing in the Holy Place (Dan. ix. 27), and to
destroy him [the Papal Antichrist] who has taken up his seat there with
the devil’s help, with false miracles and deceiving signs.”[943] In
respect of the deception of the Mass, “I oppose all the pronouncements
of the Fathers, of men, of angels, of devils, not by an appeal to
‘ancient custom and tradition’ nor to any man, but to the Word of the
Eternal Majesty and to the Gospel which even my adversaries are forced
to acknowledge.” “This is God’s Word,” he vehemently exclaims of his
denial of the sacrifice, “not ours. Here I stand, here I take my seat,
here I stay, here I triumph and laugh to scorn all Papists, Thomists,
Henryists, sophists, and all the gates of hell, not to speak of all the
sayings of men, and the most sacred and deceitful of customs.”[944]

It was of the utmost importance to him that the Mass should no longer
be regarded as a sacrifice and as the centre of worship. He wished to
reduce it to a mere “sign and Divine Testament in which God promises us
His Grace and assures us of it by a sign.”[945] Nor is the presence of
Christ in the sacrament, according to him, to be assumed as the result
of a change of substance; Christ is in, with, and beneath the bread.
The churches were robbed of their Divine Guest, for only in the actual
ceremony of reception was the Supper a sacrament, at all other times
it was nothing.[946]

Yet, in spite of all this, as already pointed out, Luther did not
wish to abolish every form of liturgical celebration at once. In the
reconstruction of public worship everything depended on not making
the change felt by the people in a way that was displeasing to them.
The very fact of the change was concealed from many by the form of
liturgy Luther advocated,[947] and by the retaining of the ceremonies,
vestments, lights, etc. Even the elevation was continued for a long
while. But, though the celebration was clothed in a Catholic garb, yet
of everything that expressed in words the sacrificial character Luther
had already said that it “must and shall be done away with.”[948]

“The priest,” says Luther thoughtfully, when giving detailed
instructions on the subject, “will easily be able to arrange that the
common people learn nothing of it, and take no scandal.”[949] “How
the priests are to behave with regard to the Canon,” he wrote in his
Instruction for the Visitors in the Saxon Electorate, “they know well
from other writings, and there is no need to preach much about this
to the laity.” One would have thought, nevertheless, that the “common
people,” no less than the learned, had a perfect right to the truth and
to being instructed.

Luther was also anxious that the innovation at communion should be
introduced in an unobtrusive manner. “Avoid anything unusual or any
attempt to oppose the masses.”[950]

Although to receive under both kinds was regarded as the only
“evangelical” way, agreeable “to Christ’s institution,” yet the weak
were to be permitted to receive under the form of bread only and
the reception of the chalice not to be prescribed “until we make
the Evangel better known throughout the world.”[951] “But if anyone
is so weak in this matter as rather to omit receiving the Sacrament
altogether than to receive under one kind only, he was also to be
indulged and allowed to live according to his conscience.”[952] In
justification of all this Luther declared that the practice of the
new religion must be introduced gently and “without detriment to
charity.” That it was really a question of preventing disturbances and
preserving charity, Cochlæus and others could not be made to see; this
writer, in his work on Lutheranism, goes so far as to speak of Luther’s
“hypocritical deception” of the masses.

Later, the advocate of this sagacious method of procedure could
declare: “Thank God, in indifferent matters our churches are so
arranged that a layman, whether Italian or Spaniard, unable to
understand our preaching, seeing our Mass, choir, organs, bells,
chantries, etc., would surely say that it was a regular papist church,
and that there was no difference, or very little, between it and his
own.” He rejoiced that, in spite of the hot-heads, no more had been
altered in the ritual than was absolutely necessary to conform it to
his teaching.[953]

Such is the course to pursue, he says, “If our churches are not
to be shattered and confused and nothing to be effected among the
Papists.”[954] As a matter of fact, the system he recommended did in
some districts “effect much” among Papists who would otherwise have
refused to have anything to do with him, the poor people not dreaming
of the wide gulf which separated the new worship from the old. The
people would not voluntarily have given up their faith in the truly
sacrificial character of the Eucharist, in transubstantiation and
sacrifice generally; as Melanchthon himself admitted: “The world is so
much attached to the Mass that it seems well-nigh impossible to wrest
people from it.”[955]

We may here mention what occurred at a later date within the Lutheran
fold. At the instigation of Wittenberg the adaptation of the Catholic
worship was carried out very thoroughly in some places, the principle
proving highly conducive to the acceptance of the new church system.
In few countries, however, was this the case to such an extent as in
Denmark, where Luther’s friend Bugenhagen was responsible for the
change of religion. Even to-day, in the Protestant worship established
in Denmark, Norway and the duchies formerly united to the Danish crown,
there is to be found a surprising number of Catholic reminiscences,
from the solemn Eucharistic service down to the ringing of the bells
thrice daily for prayer. In the celebration of the solemn Eucharist the
preachers even vest in a white linen alb and chasuble of red velvet;
the elevation, too, is still preserved, for, after the “consecration,”
which is pronounced from the middle of the altar according to
immemorial custom, the Bread and Wine are shown to the people.

Martin Weier, a young student of good family from Pomerania, took
counsel of Luther as to how, on his return from Wittenberg, he was to
behave with regard to his old father in the matter of Divine worship.
Luther, according to his own account, told him “to conform to his
father’s wishes in every way in order not to offend him; follow his
example concerning fasting, prayer, hearing Mass and the veneration
of the Saints, but at the same time instruct him in the Word of God
and on the subject of justification, so as, if possible, to become
his spiritual father without giving any offence.” Luther had declared
concerning himself that he had offended God most horribly by his former
celebration of Mass, more so than if he had been “a highwayman or
kept a brothel”; yet he tells his aristocratic pupil that he will be
committing no sin, if, “for the sake of his father, he is present at
Mass and other acts by which God is dishonoured.”[956]

A contrast to this system of accommodation and the gentle introduction
of innovations is presented by the acts of violence which too often
occurred on German soil at the time of the religious revolution. The
excesses perpetrated by the people were, as can be proved, encouraged
by the inflammatory speeches of the preachers, Luther’s own words
being frequently appealed to; their effect in such times of popular
commotion was like that of oil poured on the flames. In “the streets
and at every corner,” on all the walls, on placards, in broadsides,
and even on playing cards the clergy and the monks were abused, to
quote Luther’s own testimony.[957] “Turks” and “worse than Turks,” such
were the descriptions applied to them by the populace in imitation
of Luther. “We shall never be successful against the Turks,” he says
later, reverting to his earlier style of language, “unless we fall upon
them and the priests at the right moment and smite them dead.”[958]

In the case of Luther himself such expressions were empty words, but
the mob scrupled little about carrying them into effect. In many
instances, however, lust for riches on the part of the great, who
longed to possess themselves of Church property, and the long-standing
antagonism of towns and Princes to the rights claimed by bishops and
abbots, led to violence. The exaltation of their own power was for many
of the authorities their principal reason for taking sides against the
older Church. It must be borne in mind that, subsequent to 1525, Luther
himself was no longer the sole head of the movement of apostasy. More
and more he began to hand over the actual guidance of the movement to
the secular power, a condition of things which had been preparing since
the Diet of Worms. The direction of so far-reaching an undertaking was
scarcely suited to his talents, which were not of the administrative
order. To his followers, however, he remained the chief authority as
pastor, preacher and writer; he continued to take an active part in all
public affairs, and, on many occasions, exercised a direct and profound
influence on the spread of the new Church.

Many well-meaning and highly respected men supported the new
establishment from no selfish motives, and became open and genuine
promoters of Luther’s cause, because they looked upon it as just and
true. The ideal character, which Wittenberg was successful in stamping
on Luther’s aims, proved very seductive, especially in the then
prevailing ignorance of the real state of things, and in many places
won for the cause devoted and enthusiastic workers.

To take but one example: A knight, Hartmuth (Hartmann) von Cronberg,
in the Taunus, glowing with zeal for the new Evangel, wrote a letter
recommending the Lutheran congregational system to the inhabitants of
Cronberg and Frankfurt.

 In 1522 he published a letter, addressed to Luther, in which he
 expresses his readiness to work faithfully with him in order that
 “all may awake from the sleep and prison of sin.” I have heard, with
 heartfelt sympathy”, he says to Luther, of “your great pains and
 crosses arising from the ardent charity you bear towards God and your
 neighbour, for I am thoroughly aware, from sad observation, of the
 misery and dreadful ruin of the whole German nation.” “It is no wonder
 that a true Christian should tremble in every limb with horror when
 he considers the desolation and how awful the fall of Germany must be
 unless a Merciful God enlightens us by His Grace so that we may come
 to the knowledge of Him.” “Fain would I speak to the German lands and
 say: O Germany! rejoice in the visitation of your heavenly Father,
 accept with humble thanksgiving the heavenly light, the Divine Truth
 and the Supreme Condescension, avail yourself of the great clemency
 of God, Who of His Mercy is ready to forgive you your great sin....
 Throw off the heavy yoke of the devil and accept the sweet yoke of
 Christ.” The writer beseeches God to grant “that we may not trust in
 ourselves or our works; rather do Thou justify us by a strong faith
 and confidence in Thee alone, and Thy Divine promises, in order that
 Thy Divine, Supreme Name, Grace and Clemency may be increased, praised
 and magnified throughout the world.”[959]

 The same enthusiastic man of the sword had, even before this,
 expressed himself in favour of Luther in other writings in language
 almost fanatical. Luther, while at the Wartburg, had received two
 pamphlets from him, one addressed to the Emperor and the other to the
 Mendicant Orders. Luther had thanked him in similar tones for his
 zeal, and encouraged him to stand fast in spite of persecution.[960]
 The above-quoted letter, addressed by Cronberg to Luther, was his
 answer to Luther’s from the Wartburg; both were printed together and
 made the round of Germany under the title “A missive to all those who
 suffer persecution for the Word of God.”

 Luther there says to his admirer: “It is plain that your words spring
 from the depths of your heart and soul,” and this testimony seemed
 no exaggeration in the eyes of many who were also working for the
 spread of Lutheranism with all their heart, and in the best of faith.
 Cronberg and all these were animated by the spirit which Luther by
 his writings had sought to instil into all, and which he had once
 expressed in his own powerful, defiant fashion: “And even should Satan
 attempt greater and worse things he shall not weary us; he may as well
 attempt to drag Christ down from the right hand of God. Christ sits
 there enthroned, and we too shall remain masters and lords over sin,
 death, the devil and every thing.”

The earnestness with which Cronberg espoused the Lutheran ideas
is shown by the fact of his resigning, after the Diet of Worms, a
yearly stipend of 200 gold gulden, promised him by the Emperor, when
he entered his service with Sickingen in 1519.[961] The assistance
he lent to Sickingen’s treacherous machinations against the Empire
proved his undoing. His castle of Cronberg was seized on October 15,
1522. He sought to console himself for the loss of his property by a
passionate devotion to his religious and political aims. After a life
of “undismayed attachment to what he deemed his duty,” says H. Ulmann,
this man, “whose fidelity to conviction verged on puritanism,” died at
Cronberg on August 7, 1549.[962]

This Lutheran had demanded of the Emperor that he should convince the
Pope by “irrefragable proofs” that he was the viceroy of the devil,
nay, himself Antichrist. But should the Pope, owing to demoniacal
possession, not admit this, then the Emperor had full right and
authority and was bound before God to proceed against him by force,
as against “an apostate, heretic and Antichrist.”[963] Some of his
admirers, and likewise a eulogist of modern times, have extolled
Hartmuth von Cronberg as a “Knight after God’s own heart.” His
fanaticism, however, went so far that few dared to follow. The most
unjust acts of violence, not merely against the Papal Antichrist,
but also against church property which he declared everyone free to
appropriate, were exalted by him to principles. In a circular-letter
to Sickingen he wrote: “All ecclesiastical property has been declared
free [i.e. ownerless] by God Himself, so that whoever by the grace of
God can get some of it may keep it with God’s help, and no creature
whether Pope or devil can harm such property.” He warns the Frankfurt
priest, Peter Meyer, in a printed letter, that unless he is converted
to the “Evangel” any man may, with a good conscience, take action
against him, “just as it is lawful to fall upon a ravening wolf, a
sacrilegious thief and murderer, with word and deed.”[964]

_Wittenberg. The Saxon Electorate_

The abolition of the last remnants of Catholic worship in Wittenberg
was characterised by violence and utter want of consideration.

Only in the Collegiate Church, which was ruled by Provost and Chapter,
had it been possible to continue the celebration of Mass. On April 26,
1522, at the instance of Luther, the Elector Frederick determined that
the solemn exposition of the rich treasury of relics belonging to the
Church should be discontinued, in spite of the fact that the relics
were in great part his own gift to a Church which had enjoyed his
especial favour. Luther, however, was anxious completely to transform
this “Bethaven,” this place of idolatry, as he called the Church,[965]
and in this matter the Prior and some of the Canons were on his side.

After some unsuccessful negotiations, carried on with the Elector
through Spalatin, Luther himself invited the Chapter, on March 1, 1523,
to abolish all Catholic ceremonies, as abominations, which could only
give scandal at Wittenberg. “The cause of the ‘Evangel,’ which Christ
has committed to this city as a priceless gift,” forced him, so he
declared, to speak. “My conscience can no longer keep silence owing to
the office entrusted to me.” If they would not give way peaceably, then
they must be prepared for “public insults” from him, seeing that they
would have to be excluded from the congregation as non-Christians, and
have their company shunned.[966]

The Dean, who was faithful to the Church, and the Catholic members of
the Chapter persisted in their resistance, urging that the Elector
himself did not wish to see the Masses discontinued which his ancestors
had founded for the repose of their souls.

Luther, not in the least disconcerted, on July 11, 1523, repeated his
written declaration, this time in a peremptory tone. “If we endure
this any longer,” he writes, “it will fall upon our own heads and we
shall be burdened with the sins of others.” The Canons were not to
tell him that “the Elector commanded or did not command to do this or
to alter that. I am speaking now to your own consciences. What has the
Elector to do with such matters?” he asks, strangely contradicting his
own theory. “You know what St. Peter says, Acts v. 29, ‘We ought to
obey God rather than men,’ and St. Paul (Gal. i. 8), ‘Though an angel
from heaven preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached
to you, let him be anathema.’” He summons them to “obey,” otherwise
he will pray against them as he has hitherto prayed for them, and as
Christ was “jealous” it might be that his “prayer would be powerful and
you may have to suffer for it.” “Christ soon punishes those who are
His, when they wax disobedient (cp. 1 Peter iv. 17).”[967]

His violence in the pulpit gave reason for anticipating the worst when,
on the very next day, he gave free rein to his eloquence against the
Collegiate Church.

 On August 2, 1523, he again stirred up the excited mob against the
 Canons and their service.[968]

 He spoke to the multitude on that day of independent action to be
 taken by all who were able, without the Elector and even against
 him: “What does he matter to us?” he cried. “He commands only in
 worldly matters. But if he attempts to act further, we [i.e. Luther
 and the people] shall say: “Your Grace, pray look after your own
 business.”[969] It was an unequivocal invitation to make use of force
 when he told the people in the same sermon, that they also would be
 “responsible for the sins of others” if they permitted the Popish
 disorder any longer in their midst. “I am afraid that this may also
 be the reason why the Evangel effects so little amongst us, viz. that
 we suffer such things to be.”[970] Yet he was careful prudently to
 admonish the people not to touch the Canons’ persons.

 This admonition seems to have been more than counterbalanced by the
 remaining contents of the discourse. After the sermon the Elector sent
 to remind Luther earnestly that, as a rule, he had spoken against
 risings and that he trusted he would “not go any further,” as there
 was quite enough “discontent at Wittenberg already.”[971] The offender
 in reply assured the Elector by messenger, that he would give the
 people no occasion for the employment of force, for discontent or
 tumult,[972] and, for the time being, he refrained from any further
 steps. Whether he calmed the populace, or how he did this, we are not
 told. We do know, however, that he addressed a fresh letter to the
 Canons couched in such strong language as to draw down on himself
 another reprimand from the Elector, who urged that Luther did not
 act up to what he preached.[973] In the letter in question, dated
 November 17, 1524, he told the Canons quite openly, that, unless they
 refrained voluntarily from “Masses, vigils and everything contrary to
 the Holy Evangel,” they would be forced to do so; he moreover asked
 for a “true, straight and immediate answer, yea or nay, before next
 Sunday”; what has happened is that “the devil has inspired you with a
 spirit of defiance and mischief.” The “great patience with which we
 have hitherto supported your devilish behaviour and the idolatry in
 your Churches” is exhausted. He also hints that they could no longer
 be certain of the Elector’s protection.[974]

 Had he drawn the bow still tighter and incited to direct acts of
 violence, the results would have fallen on his own head. Yet a sermon
 which he delivered on November 27 against Mass at the Collegiate
 Church had such an effect upon the people, that the matter was
 decided. In it he asserted, that the Mass was blasphemy, madness and
 a lie; its celebration was worse than unchastity, murder or robbery;
 princes, burgomasters, councillors and judges must protect the honour
 of God, since they had received the sword from Him.[975] He exhorts
 “all princes and rulers, burgomasters, councillors and judges” to
 summon the “blasphemous ministers” of the “whore of Babylon” and
 force them to answer for themselves. His appeal is ostensibly for the
 interference of the responsible authorities, not of the masses.

The agitation intentionally fomented became, however, so great,
that the Canons did not know what steps to take against the “rising
excitement of the inhabitants” of Wittenberg,[976] for the saving
of the Catholic services, and for the safety of their own persons.
Even before this, students had perpetrated disorders at night in the
Collegiate Church, and Luther had himself declared that he was obliged
daily to restrain the people to prevent the committing of excesses. The
Canons were now tormented by the singing of satires on the Mass outside
their house, and had to listen to the curses which were showered on
them. One night the Dean had his windows smashed. The Town Council, and
also the University, now definitely took sides against the Chapter,
and, after warning them in writing of God’s anger, sent representatives
to advise the Canons of their excommunication. Although no actual
tumult took place, yet the public declarations and the threatening
attitude of the populace incited by Luther amounted to practical
compulsion. The few Canons still remaining finally yielded to force,
particularly when they saw that the Elector, Frederick “the Wise,”
refused to give any but evasive replies to their appeals.

On Christmas Day, 1524, for the first time, there was no Mass.

Protestants themselves have recently admitted that, “contrary to the
express wish of the sovereign and not without the employment of force
against the Canons”[977] did “Luther succeed in carrying matters
so far.”[978] “The Canons finally gave way before new outbursts of
violence on the part of the students and the citizens,” when, according
to Luther’s own account, there remained only “three hogs and paunches”
of all the Canons formerly attached to this Church, not of “All
Saints,” but rather of “All Devils.”[979]

An echo of his tempestuous sermon of November 27 is to be found in the
pamphlet which Luther published at the commencement of 1525: “On the
abomination of Silent Masses” (against the Canon of the Mass). In the
Preface he refers directly to the inglorious proceedings against the
unfortunate Chapter. He finds it necessary to declare that he, for
his part, had aroused no revolt, for what was done by the established
authorities could not be termed revolt; the “secular gentlemen,”
who, according to him, constituted the established authorities, had,
however, felt it their duty to take steps against the Catholic worship
in the Collegiate Church.

In that same year, 1525, under the auspices of the new Elector Johann,
a great friend to Lutheranism, who succeeded the Elector Frederick upon
his death on May 5, 1525, and whom Luther had long before won over
to his cause, the order of Divine Service at Wittenberg was entirely
altered. “The Pope” was at last, as Spalatin joyfully proclaimed
throughout the city, “completely set aside.”[980]

       *       *       *       *       *

Under the rule of the Elector Johann, Luther at once carried out the
complete suppression of Catholic worship throughout the Electorate.

On October 1, 1525, Spalatin wrote to the Elector Johann: “Dr. Martin
also says, that your Electoral Grace is on no account to permit anyone
to continue the anti-Christian ceremonies any longer, or to start them

With the object of helping him in his work at Court and of removing
any scruples he might have, Luther explained to Spalatin, in a letter
of November 11 of the same year, that by stamping out the Catholic
worship rulers would not be forcing the faith on anyone, but merely
prohibiting such open abominations as the Mass; if anyone, in spite of
all, desired to believe in it privately, or to blaspheme in secret, no
coercion would be exercised.[982] No attention was paid to the rights
of Catholics to a Divine Worship, attendance at which was to them a
matter of conscience. They were simply to be permitted to emigrate;
if they chose to remain they were not to “perform or take any part in
any public worship.”[983] It was on such principles as these that the
Memorandum which Spalatin presented to the Elector on January 10, 1526,
was based.[984]

Luther himself appealed to the Elector on February 9, 1526, seeking to
“fortify his conscience” and to encourage him “to attack the idolaters
with even greater readiness.” He points out to him, first, how damnable
is the blasphemous, idolatrous worship; were he to afford it any
protection, then “all the abominations against God would eventually
weigh upon his, the Prince’s, conscience”; secondly, that differences
in religious worship would inevitably give rise to “revolt and
tumults”; hence the ruler must provide that “in each locality there be
but one doctrine.”[985]

To the force of such arguments Johann could not but yield.

He answered in a friendly letter to Luther on February 13, 1526, that
he had been pleased to take note of the difficulty, and would for the
future know how to comport himself in these matters in a Christian and
irreproachable manner.[986] Subsequent to this assurance he acted as an
apt pupil of the Wittenberg Professor.

In accordance with the instructions given by the Elector in 1527 for
the general Visitation of the Churches in the Saxon Electorate, an
“inquisition” was to be held everywhere by the ecclesiastical Visitors
as to whether any “sect or schism” existed in the country. Whoever
was “suspected of error in respect of the sacraments or some doctrine
of faith” was to be “summoned and interrogated, and, if the occasion
required, hostile witnesses were to be heard”; if any refused to
give up their “error,” they were commanded to sell their possessions
within a given time and to quit the country.[987] One thing only was
still wanting, viz. that the people should be compelled by the Ruler
to attend the Lutheran sermons and services. Even this was, however,
implied in the regulations, since those who did not attend were classed
among the “suspects.” As time went on Luther demanded the exercise of
such coercion, and it was actually introduced in the Electorate and,
later, in the Protestant Duchy of Saxony.[988]

The proceedings on the introduction of the innovations in other
districts were similar to those in the Electorate of Saxony. Wherever
a small group of persons were willing to throw in their lot with the
first local representatives of the new faith--generally clerics--they
were backed up by the State authorities, who reconstructed the
religious system as they thought best. “Nowhere was the primitive
Lutheran ideal realised of a congregation forming itself in entire
independence.... Thus at an early date Lutheranism took its place among
the political factors, and its development was to a certain extent
dependent upon the tendencies and inclinations of the authorities and
ruling sovereigns of that day.”[989]

The Electors Frederick and Johann of Saxony were gradually joined by
a number of other Princes who introduced the innovations into their
lands, and the magistrates of the larger, and even of some of the
smaller, Imperial cities soon followed suit. Thus the whole movement,
having owed its success so largely to the authorities, was governed and
exploited by them and assumed a strongly political character, needless
to say, much to the detriment of its religious aspect.

What part the “inclinations of the ruling sovereigns” played, even
in opposition to Luther’s own wishes, is plain from the example of
the Margrave Philip of Hesse, who, next to the Elector of Saxony, was
the most powerful, and undoubtedly the most determined, promoter of
the great apostasy. This Prince, whose leanings were towards Zürich,
as early as 1529 was anxious to extend the alliance he had concluded
in the interests of the innovations with the Saxon Electorate, so
as to embrace also the Zwinglians. Attracted by Zwingli’s denial of
the sacrament, he also sought, with the assistance of theologians of
his own way of thinking, to amalgamate the Swiss doctrine with that
of Wittenberg; in this he was not, however, successful. The great
religious alliance with Wittenberg aimed at by Zwingli himself as well
as by Philip, and which it was hoped to settle at the Conference of
Marburg (see vol. iii., xix. 1), was never realised, Luther refusing to
give in on any point. In Hesse, however, the Zwinglian influence was
maintained through the agency of theologians of Bucer’s school, which
had the favour of the Court, while at Strasburg and other South German
cities the authorities, leaning even more to the Swiss Confession, set
up their “reformed” view as the actual rule of faith in their domains.


The history of the apostasy of Nuremberg, which may be considered
separately here, exhibits another type of the proceedings at the
general religious revolution.

 Here the two centres of the inception of the movement were the
 Augustinian monastery, inhabited by monks of Luther’s own Order,
 and, as in so many other places, the town-council. Several clerics
 had already preached the new doctrines when the magistrates, at the
 time of the Diet of Nuremberg, in 1522, from motives of prudence,
 forbade the discussion of controversial questions in the pulpit.
 In 1524 two Provosts, and likewise the Prior of the Augustinians,
 abolished the celebration of Mass. The most active in the cause of
 the change of religion was the former priest and preacher, Andreas
 Osiander. At the Diet of Nuremberg, in 1524, Catholic prelates were
 insulted by the excited mob. Wives were taken by the Augustinian
 Johann Walter, by Dominic Schleupner, preacher at St. Sebaldus, by
 the Abbot of St. Ægidius, by Provost Pessler and Osiander himself.
 Whereas the town-council--the moving spirits of which were Hieronymus
 Ebner, Caspar Stützel and particularly Lazarus Spengler, the Town
 Clerk--formally decided to join Luther’s party, many among the people
 remained wavering, doubtful and undecided; here, as in so many other
 places, we find no trace of any sudden falling away of the people as a

 What Charity Pirkheimer, the sister of the learned Nuremberg
 patrician, wrote of her native city is applicable to many other
 towns: “I frequently hear that there are many people in this city who
 are almost in despair and no longer go to any sermons, but say the
 preaching has led them astray so that they really do not know what to
 believe, and that they are sorry they ever listened to it.”[990]

 The magistrates of Nuremberg, by dint of violent measures, sapped all
 Catholic life little by little and prevailed on the chief families
 to embrace Lutheranism. The religious Orders were prohibited from
 undertaking the cure of souls, the clergy were ordained civilly,
 while, to those who proved amenable, stipends were assured for
 life. The monastery of St. Ægidius surrendered to the magistrates
 in 1525 with its community numbering twenty-five persons, likewise
 the Augustinian priory from which no less than twenty-four religious
 passed over to Lutheranism, likewise the Carmelite monastery with
 fifteen priests and seven lay brothers, of whom only a few remained
 staunch, and finally the Carthusian house, where most of the monks
 became Lutherans.

 All these changes took place in 1525.

 The Dominicans held out longer. At last the five surviving Friars
 surrendered their convent to the magistrates in 1543. The Franciscan
 Observantines, however, made the finest stand, enduring every kind of
 persecution and the most abject poverty until the last died in 1562.
 Together with the sons of St. Francis mention must also be made of the
 convent of Poor Clares, subject to them, and presided over as Abbess
 by Charity Pirkheimer, a lady equally clever and pious.

 The Poor Clares, eighty in number, were, like the nuns of the other
 convents in the town, deprived of their preachers and confessors and
 forced to listen to the evangelical pastors, which they did grudgingly
 and with many a murmur. For five years they were forcibly prevented
 from receiving the Blessed Sacrament. The priests of the town could
 only bring them spiritual assistance at the peril of their lives, and
 the consolations of the Church had eventually to be conveyed to them
 from a distance, from Bamberg and Spalt, by priests in disguise. One
 after another the inmates died in heroic fidelity to the Catholic
 religion; those who survived clung even more closely to the faith
 of their fathers and to the strict observance of their Rule. It is
 touching to read in the “Memoirs” of Charity Pirkheimer how the poor
 nuns passed through the misery of bodily privations and spiritual
 martyrdom in union with our suffering Saviour, in an inward peace
 which nothing could destroy; how they worked actively for their
 friends, the poor of the city, and even celebrated now and then little
 family festivals in joyful, sisterly love.

 Wenceslaus Link, the former Superior of the Augustinian house at
 Altenburg, had removed to Nuremberg with his wife, where he became
 warden and preacher to the new hospital, proving himself a fierce
 Lutheran. In 1541 he informed Luther of the sad experiences he had
 had with the Evangel in the city. The “Word” was despised, he writes,
 immorality was on the increase and went unpunished, the preachers
 were hated and he himself when he went out had the name “parson”
 derisively hurled at him; people dubbed the Evangel a human invention,
 and snapped their fingers at the sentence of excommunication. Luther
 expressed his sympathy with his downhearted correspondent and sought
 to encourage him: it grieved him deeply, he wrote, that this fate
 should have befallen the Word of God; such a state of things was the
 third great temptation in the history of the Church, the first being
 the persecutions in the times of the Pagan rulers, and the second the
 difficulties occasioned by the great heresies in the period of the
 Fathers of the Church, both of which had been safely withstood. He
 comforts Link by assuring him that this, the third great temptation of
 the Gospel, will also pass over happily. “Should this not be the case,
 however, then there is no hope for Nuremberg, for that would be to
 grieve the Holy Ghost, and it would be necessary to think of quitting
 this Babylon. ‘We would have cured Babylon, but she is not healed [he
 says with Jeremias li. 9]; let us forsake her.’”[991]

It would, of course, be unfair to ascribe to Luther all the deeds of
violence or injustice which took place in great number on the spread
of the new ecclesiastical system. It is notorious how much the unruly,
turbulent spirit of that day contributed to the distressing phenomena
of the struggle then being carried on. Such a far-reaching revolution
naturally set free forces and passions in both the higher and lower
spheres, which could only with difficulty be brought once more under
control. Now and then, too, faithful Catholics, laymen, priests and
religious, by a misuse of the power they happened to possess, gave
occasion to renewed acts of oppression on the part of the Lutherans.

It is, nevertheless, right to point out the turbulent stamp which
Luther impressed upon the movement. His own share in the work, some
examples of which we have considered above, were utterly at variance
with his advice to Gabriel Zwilling, viz. “to leave everything to God,
to avoid introducing innovations and to guide the people solely by
faith and charity” (above, p. 314).

_Luther and the Introduction of the New Teaching at Erfurt_

The most powerful impulse to the introduction of the new teaching in
Erfurt proceeded from the Augustinian house in that town. Its former
Prior, Johann Lang, became an apostle of Lutheranism after having
prepared the way for the innovation as a Humanist of modern views
closely allied with the Humanist group at Erfurt.

We find Lang, in the summer of 1520, still Rural Vicar of his Order,
and he may have retained the dignity for some time longer when
Wenceslaus Link was elected as Staupitz’s successor at the Chapter
held at Eisleben in that year. The fourteen monks of the Augustinian
Congregation--at one time so faithful to the Church--who quitted
the Order before Lang, remind us of the sad fact, that in his work
Luther met with support in many places from those who were originally
Catholics, and that the innovation was often heartily welcomed by
members of the clergy, secular and regular.

The Saxon Augustinian Congregation, which was strongly represented
at Erfurt, had been undermined by Luther’s spirit no less than by
the struggle between the Conventuals and the Observantines. At the
convention of the Order, held at Wittenberg on the Feast of the Three
Kings in 1522, it was decided that begging would henceforth be no
longer allowed,[992] “because we follow Holy Scripture.” At that time
many had already apostatised. It was further ordained, that, by virtue
of the evangelical freedom of the servants of God, everyone was free
to leave his monastery. “Among those who are Christ’s there is neither
monk nor layman. Whoever is not yet able to comprehend this freedom
may act as he thinks fit, but must not give scandal to others by his
conduct, in order that the Holy Evangel be not blasphemed.” On this the
Protestant historian of the Augustinian Congregation remarks: “This
[i.e. the giving of no scandal] was more easily commended than put
into effect.” And, speaking of the time when the Erfurt Augustinian
house was already almost empty (Usingen, Nathin and a few others alone
remaining faithful), he writes: “Lang and his companions were in great
danger of seeing the triumph of the Evangel rather in the rooting
out of Popery than in the promoting of the new evangelical life....
Usingen, exposed to the mockery and insults of his own pupils, which he
had certainly never deserved, at last quitted in anger the spot where
he had worked for many years,” “an honest man.”[993] He withdrew in
1525 to the Augustinian monastery at Würzburg.

Factors favourable to the spread of Lutheranism in Erfurt were:
The Humanism, antagonistic to the Church, which was all-powerful
at the University; the restlessness of the common people, who were
dissatisfied with their condition; the jealousy existing between the
secular and regular clergy, the struggle which the town was carrying on
with its chief pastor, the Archbishop of Mayence, concerning rights and
property; last, but not least, the hatred of the laity for the opulent
and far too numerous clergy. Here, therefore, we find the selfsame
elements present which elsewhere so ably seconded the preaching of the
new evangelists.

Erfurt affords an example of how pious foundations of former ages had
multiplied to an excessive and burdensome extent, a condition of things
which was no longer any real advantage to the Church, and simply tended
to arouse the jealousy of the laity and working man.

There were more than three hundred vicariates (livings, or benefices),
twenty-one parish churches or churches of the same standing, thirty
chapels and six hospitals; the number of secular clergy was in
proportion to the work entailed in serving the above, and there was
an even greater number of monks and nuns. In every corner there were
monastic establishments. Benedictines, the Scottish Brotherhood, the
Canons Regular, Carthusians, Dominicans and Franciscans, Servites and
Augustinians, all were represented. In addition to this were four or
five convents of women. Erfurt perhaps possessed more ecclesiastical
foundations and institutions than any other town in Germany, with the
possible exception of Cologne and Nuremberg.[994] The rich possessions
of the convents and churches at Erfurt were made the pretext for the
religious innovations. The immunity they enjoyed from the burdens borne
by the citizens was to be made an end of, the ecclesiastical property
was to be handed over to the town, and the town itself was to be
withdrawn from the temporal sway of the Archbishop of Mayence.

When Luther, who was already under the ban, preached at Erfurt, on
April 7, 1521, in the Church of the Augustinians (see above, p. 63), he
represented the religious change, the way for which had already been
paved, in the light of that evangelical freedom which his view of
faith and works was to bring to the inhabitants of Erfurt.[995]

 “We must not build upon human laws or works, but have a real faith in
 Him Who destroys all sin.... Thus we don’t care a straw for man-made
 laws.” He derides the ecclesiastical laws, enacted by shepherds who
 destroyed the sheep and treated them “as butchers do on Easter Eve.”
 “Are all human laws to be ignored?” “I answer and say, that, where
 true Christian charity and faith prevails, everything that a man does
 is meritorious and each one may do as he pleases, provided always
 that he accounts his works as nothing; for they cannot save him.”
 “Christ’s work, which is not ours,” alone avails to save us. He extols
 the “_sola fides_” in persuasive and popular language, showing how it
 alone justifies and saves us.

 It was on this occasion that, unguardedly, he allowed himself to
 be carried away to say: “What matters it if we commit a fresh sin!
 so long as we do not despair but remember that Thou, O God, still

 The contrary “delusion,” he says, had been invented and encouraged by
 the preachers, whose proceedings were infinitely worse than any mere
 “numbering of the people.” He storms against the clergy and vigorously
 foments the social discontent. To build churches, or found livings,
 etc., was mere outward show; “such works simply gave rise to avarice,
 desire for the praise of men and other vices.” “You think that as a
 priest you are free from sin, and yet you nourish so much jealousy in
 your heart; if you could slay your neighbour with impunity you would
 do so and then go on saying Mass. Surely it would not be surprising
 were a thunderbolt to smite you to the earth.” In order to complete
 the effect of this demagogic outburst he mocks at the sermons, with
 their legends “about the old ass,” etc., and their quotations from
 ancient philosophers, who were “not only against the Gospel, but even
 against God Himself.”

The result was stupendous, especially in the case of the young men at
the University whom the Humanists had disposed in Luther’s favour. On
the day after Luther’s departure one of his sympathisers, a Canon of
the Church of St. Severus, who had taken part in the solemn reception
accorded Luther on his arrival in the town, was told by the Dean, Jakob
Doliatoris, that he was under excommunication and might no longer
attend the service in choir. On his complaining to the University, of
which he was a member, the students intervened with demonstrations in
his favour.[997]

Luther heard of this only through certain unreliable reports and wrote
to Spalatin: “They apprehend still worse things at Erfurt. The Senate
pretends to see nothing of what is going on. The clergy are reviled.
The young apprentices are said to be in league with the students. We
are about to see the prophecy fulfilled: ‘Erfurt has become a new
[Husite] Prague.’” Previous to this, in the same letter, he had said of
his adversaries in the Empire: “Let them be, perhaps the day of their
visitation is at hand.”[998]

Soon after, however, he became rather more concerned, perhaps owing to
further reports of the unrest, and began to fear for the “good name
and progress of the Evangel,” in consequence of the acts of brutality
committed. “It is indeed quite right,” he wrote to Melanchthon, “that
those who persist in their impiety should have their courage cooled,”
but in this “Satan makes a mockery of us”; he sees in a mystical vision
“The Judgment Day,” the approaching end of the world at Erfurt, and
the fig tree, as had been foretold, growing up, covered with leaves,
but bare of fruit because the cause of the Evangel could not make its

In July, 1521, there broke out in the town the so-called “Pfaffensturm.”

In a few days more than sixty parsonages had been pulled down,
libraries destroyed and the archives and tithe registers of the
ecclesiastical authorities ransacked; little regard was shown for
human life. A little later seven clergy-houses were again set on fire.
Meanwhile the Lutheran preachers, with the fanatical Lang at their
head, were at liberty to stir up the people.[1000] The ruin of the
University was imminent; many parents withdrew their sons, fearing
lest they should be infected with the “Husite heresy.” The customary
Catholic services were, however, performed as usual, but the end
of Catholic worship could be foreseen owing to the ever-increasing
growth of “evangelical freedom.” Renegade monks, especially Luther’s
former Augustinian comrades, preached against “the old Church as the
mother of faithlessness and hypocrisy”; Lang spoke of the monasteries
as “dens of robbers.” Under the attacks of the preachers one human
ordinance after another fell to the ground. Fasting, long prayers,
founded Masses, confraternities, everything in fact, disappeared
before the new liberty, value being allowed only to temporal works of
mercy. The avarice of the “shorn, anointed priestlings” was no longer
to be stimulated by the people’s money. “Ruffianly crowds showed
their sympathy with the preachers by yelling and shouting in church.
Theological questions were debated in market-places and taverns, men,
women and boys expounded the Bible.”[1001]

Luther, through Lang, urged the Augustinians at Erfurt, who still
remained true to their monastic Rule, to apostatise; he merely
expressed the wish that there should be no “tumults” against the
Order. Lang was to “defend the cause of the Evangel”[1002] at the
next Convention of the Saxon Augustinians, a meeting which took place
at Epiphany, 1522 (above, p. 337). Lang justified his apostasy in
a work in which he expressly appeals to the new doctrines on faith
and good works. The exodus of the monks from their convent was not,
however, carried out as quietly as Luther would have wished; he dreaded
the “slanders of the foes of the Evangel” and was depressed by the
immorality of the inhabitants of Erfurt, and by his own experience with
his followers. He spoke his mind to Lang: “The power of the Word is
still concealed, or else you pay too little heed to it. This surprises
me greatly. We are just the same as before, hard, unfeeling, impatient,
sinful, intemperate, lascivious and combative, in short, the mark of
the Christian, true charity, is nowhere to be found. Paul’s words are
fulfilled in us: We have God’s Word on our lips, but not in power (cp.
1 Cor. iv. 20).”[1003] In 1524 Lang married the rich widow of an Erfurt

Those who had been unfaithful to their vows and priestly obligations,
and then acted as preachers of the new faith, gave the greatest scandal
by their conduct.

Many letters dating from 1522, 1523 and 1524, written by Lutheran
Humanists such as Eobanus Hessus, Euricius Cordus and Michael Nossenus,
who, with disgust, were observing their behaviour, bore witness to the
general deterioration of morals in the town, more particularly among
the escaped monks and nuns.[1004] “I see,” Luther himself wrote to
Erfurt, “that monks are leaving in great numbers for no other reason
than for their belly’s sake and for the freedom of the flesh.”[1005]

Meanwhile, discussions were held in the Erfurt circle of the
semi-theologian Lang, on the absence of free-will in man and on “the
evil that God does.” Lang applied to Luther for help. “I see that
you are idlers,” was his reply, “though the devil provides you with
abundance of occupation in what he plots amongst you. You must not
argue concerning the evil that God does. It is not, as you fancy, the
work of God, but a ceasing to work on God’s part. We desire what is
evil when He ceases to work in us and leaves our nature free to fulfil
its own wickedness. Where He works the result is ever good. Scripture
speaks of such ceasing to work on God’s part as a ‘hardening.’ Thus
evil cannot be wrought [by God], since it is nothing (‘_malum non
potest fieri, cum sit nihil_’), but it arises because what is good is
neglected, or prevented.”

This was one of the ethical doctrines proclaimed by Luther and
Melanchthon which lay at the back of the new theory of good works.
Luther enlarged on it in startling fashion in his book “_De servo
arbitrio_” (above, p. 223 ff.).

Bartholomew Usingen, the learned and pious Augustinian, who had once
been Luther’s professor and had enjoyed his especial esteem, witnessed
with pain and sadness the changes in the town and in his own priory.
The former University professor, now an aged man, fearlessly took his
place in the yet remaining Catholic pulpits, particularly at St.
Mary’s, assured of the support and respect of the staunch members of
the fold who flocked in numbers to hear him. There he protested against
the new doctrines and the growing licentiousness, though he too had to
submit to unheard-of insults, abuse and even violent interruptions of
his sermons when emissaries of the Lutherans succeeded in forcing their
way in. He also laboured against religious innovations with his pen.

 “If we are taught,” says Usingen, “that faith alone can save us, that
 good works are of no avail for salvation and do not merit a reward for
 us in heaven, who will then take the trouble to perform them?--Why
 exhort men even to do what is right if we have no free-will? And who
 will be diligent in keeping the commandments of God if the people are
 taught that they cannot possibly be kept, and that Christ has already
 fulfilled them perfectly for us?”[1006]

 Usingen points out to the preachers, especially to Johann Culsamer,
 the noisiest of them all: “The fruits of your preaching, the excesses
 and scandals which spring from it, are known to the whole world; then
 indeed shall the people exert themselves to tame their passions when
 they are told repeatedly that by faith alone all sin is blotted out,
 and that confession is no longer necessary. Adultery, unchastity,
 theft, blasphemy, calumny and such other vices increase to an alarming
 extent, as unfortunately we see with our own eyes (‘_patet per
 quotidianum exercitium_’).”[1007]

 “The effect of your godless preaching is,” he says, on another
 occasion, “that the faithful no longer perform any works of mercy, and
 for this reason the poor are heard to complain bitterly of you.”[1008]
 “The rich no longer trouble about the needy, since they are told
 in sermons that faith alone suffices for salvation and that good
 works are not meritorious. The clergy, who formerly distributed such
 abundant alms from the convents and foundations, are no longer in a
 position to continue these works of charity because, owing to your
 attacks, their means have been so greatly reduced.”[1009]

 The worthy Augustinian had shown especial marks of favour to his pupil
 Lang, and it grieved him all the more deeply that he, by the boundless
 animosity he exhibited in his discourses, should have set an example
 to the other preachers in the matter of abuse, whether of the Orders,
 the clergy or the Papacy. He said to him in 1524, “I recalled you from
 exile [i.e. transferred you from Wittenberg to the _studium generale_
 at Erfurt] ... and this is the distinction you have won for yourself;
 you were the cause of the Erfurt monks leaving their monastery; there
 had been fourteen apostasies and now yours makes the fifteenth; like
 the dragon of the Apocalypse when he fell from heaven, you dragged
 down with you the third part of the stars.”[1010]

Usingen mentions the “report,” possibly exaggerated, that at one time
some three hundred apostate monks were in residence at Erfurt; many
ex-nuns were daily to be seen wandering about the streets.[1011] Most
of these auxiliaries who had flocked to the town in search of bread,
were uneducated clerics who drew upon themselves the scorn of the
Humanists belonging to the new faith. Any of these clerics who were
capable of speaking in public, by preference devoted themselves to
invective. Usingen frequently reproached his foes with their scurrility
in the pulpit, their constant attacks on the sins and crimes of the
clergy, and their violent reprobation and abuse of institutions and
customs held in universal veneration for ages, all of which could only
exercise a pernicious influence on morality. “Holy Scripture,” he says
in a work against the two preachers Culsamer and Mechler, “commands
the preacher to point out their sins to the people and to exhort them
to amendment. But the new preaching does not speak to the people of
their faults but only of the sins of the clergy, and thus the listener
forgets his own sins and leaves the church worse than he entered it.”
And elsewhere: “Invective was formerly confined to the viragoes of the
market-place, but now it flourishes in the churches.” “Even your own
hearers are weary of your everlasting slanders. Formerly, they say,
the gospel was preached to us, but such abuse and calumny was not then
heard in the pulpit.”[1012]

It could not be but regarded as strange that Luther himself, forgetful
of his former regard, went so far as to egg on his pupils and friends
at Erfurt against his old professor. Usingen certainly had never
anticipated such treatment at his hands. “He has, as you know,” Luther
wrote to Lang, on June 26, “become hard-headed and full of ingrained
obstinacy and conceit. Therefore, in your preaching, you must draw down
upon his folly the contempt that such coarse and inflated blindness
deserves.” As from his early years he had never been known to yield to
anyone, Luther gave up the hope of seeing the stubborn sophist “yield
to Christ”; he sees here the confirmation of the proverb: “No fool like
an old fool.”[1013]

Carried away by his success at Erfurt, Luther urged the preachers not
to allow their energies to flag.

It is true that in an official Circular-Letter to the Erfurt
Congregation, despatched on July 10, 1522, and intended for
publication, his tone is comparatively calm; the superscription is:
“Martin Luther, Ecclesiastes of Wittenberg, to all the Christians at
Erfurt together with the preachers and ministers, Grace and Peace in
Christ Jesus, Our Lord.”[1014] Therein, at Lang’s request, dealing with
the controversy which had arisen at Erfurt regarding the veneration
of the Saints, he declares that whilst there was certainly no warrant
of Scripture for Saint-worship, it ought not to be assailed with
violence (i.e. not after the fashion of the fanatics whose doings
were a public danger). He trusts “we shall be the occasion of no
rising” and points to his own example as showing with what moderation
he had ever proceeded against the Papists: “As yet I have not moved
a finger against them, and Christ has destroyed them with the sword
of His mouth” (2 Thess. ii. 8).[1015] “Leave Christ to act” in true
faith--such is the gist of his exhortation in this letter so admirably
padded with Pauline phrases--but despise and avoid the “stiff-necked
sophists”; “Whoever stinks, let him go on stinking.” He concludes,
quite in the Pauline manner: “May Our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you
together with us in all the fulness of the knowledge of Himself to
the honour of His Father, Who is also ours, to Whom be Glory for ever
and ever, Amen. Greet Johann Lang [and the other preachers]: George
Forchheim, Johann Culhamer, Antony Musam, Ægidius Mechler and Peter
Bamberger. Philip, Jonas and all our people greet you. The Grace of God
be with you all, Amen.”[1016]

But when Luther, at the instance of Duke Johann of Saxony and his son
Johann Frederick, came to Erfurt, in October, 1522, accompanied by
Melanchthon, Agricola and Jacob Probst, and proceeded to address the
multitude who flocked to hear him (October 21 and 22), he was unable to
restrain his passion, and, by his words of fire, fanned the hatred and
blind fanaticism of the mob to the highest pitch.

 He scolded the clergy as “fat and lazy priestlings and monks,” who
 “hitherto had carried on their deceitful trade throughout the whole
 world,” and upon whom “everything had been bestowed.” “So far they
 have mightily fattened their great paunches.” “Of what use were their
 brotherhoods, indulgence-letters and all their countless trickeries?”
 “Ah, it must have cost the devil much labour to establish the
 ecclesiastical Estate.... Alas for these oil-pots who can do nothing
 but anoint people, wash walls and baptise bells!” But the believer is
 “Lord over Pope and devil and all such powers, and is also a judge of
 this delusion.”

 And yet in remarkable contrast to all this, in his closing words,
 spoken with greater ponderance, he exhorts the people “not to despise
 their enemies even though they know not Christ, but to have patience
 with them.” Yet before this he had declared: “We must crush the
 fiendish head of this brood with the Evangel. Then the Pope will
 lose his crown.” He had also preached against the secular authority
 exercised at Erfurt by the Archbishop of Mayence: “Our Holy Fathers
 and reverend lords, who have the spiritual sword as well as the
 temporal, want to be our rulers and masters. It is plain they have not
 got even the spiritual sword, and certainly God never gave them the
 temporal. Therefore it is only right, that, as they have exalted their
 government so greatly, it should be greatly humbled.”[1017]

 Amidst all this he has not a single word of actual blame for the
 former acts of violence, but merely a few futile platitudes on
 peaceableness, such as: “We do not wish to preserve the Evangel by
 our own efforts,” for it is sufficiently strong to see to itself.
 He assures his hearers that, “he was not concerned how to defend
 it.”[1018] Yet he sets up each of his followers as “king” and
 “yoke-fellow of Christ,” having the Royal Priesthood so that they may
 defy the Hierarchy, “who have stolen the sword out of our hands.” All
 this while expressly professing to proclaim the great and popular
 doctrine of faith and Bible only.

 “You have been baptised and endowed with the true faith, therefore
 you are spiritual and able to judge of all things by the word of
 the Evangel, and are not to be judged of any man.... Say: My faith
 is founded on Christ alone and His Word, not on the Pope or on any
 Councils.... My faith is here a judge and may say: This doctrine is
 true, but that is false and evil. And the Pope and all his crew, nay,
 all men on earth, must submit to that decision.... Therefore I say:
 Whoever has faith is a spiritual man and judge of all things, and is
 himself judged of no man ... the Pope owes him obedience, and, were
 he a true Christian, would prostrate himself at his feet, and so too
 would every University, learned man or sophist.”[1019]

 All depends on one thing, namely, whether this believer “judges
 according to the Evangel,” i.e. according to the new interpretation of
 Scripture which Luther has disclosed.

 We naturally think of Usingen and those Erfurt professors who remained
 faithful to the Church when Luther, in the course of his sermon, in
 sarcastic language, pits his new interpretation of Scripture against
 the “sophists, birettas and skull-caps.” “Bang the mouths of the
 sophists to [when they cry]: ‘_Papa, Papa_, _Concilium, Concilium_,
 _Patres, Patres_, Universities, Universities.’ What on earth do we
 care about that? one word of God is more than all this.”[1020] “Let
 them go on with all their sermons and their dreams!” “Let us see what
 such bats will do with their feather-brooms!”[1021]

 The commanding tone in which he spoke and the persuasive force of his
 personality were apt to make his hearers forgetful of the fact, that,
 after all, his great pretensions rested on his own testimony alone.
 In the general excitement the objections, which he himself had the
 courage to bring forward, seemed futile: “Were not Christ and the
 Gospel preached before? Do you fancy,” he replies, “that we are not
 aware of what is meant by Gospel, Christ and Faith?”[1022]

 It was of the utmost importance to him that, on this occasion of his
 appearance at Erfurt, he should make the whole weight of his personal
 authority felt so as to stem betimes the flood let loose by others who
 taught differently; he was determined to impress the seal of his own
 spirit upon the new religious system at this important outpost.

 Even before this he had let fall some words in confidence to Lang
 expressive of his concern that, at Erfurt, as it seemed to him, they
 wished to outstrip him in the knowledge of the Word, so that he felt
 himself decreasing while others increased (John iii. 30),[1023] and
 in the Circular-Letter above mentioned, he had anxiously warned the
 Erfurt believers against those who, confiding in their “peculiar
 wisdom,” were desirous of teaching “something besides Christ and
 beyond our preaching.”[1024] Now, personally present at the place
 where danger threatened, he insists from the pulpit with great
 emphasis on his mission: “It was not I who put myself forward....
 Christ Our Master when sending His apostles out into the world to
 preach gave them no other directions than to preach the Gospel ...
 when He makes a man a preacher and apostle He also in His gracious
 condescension gives him instructions how to speak and what to speak,
 even down to the present day.” Those who heard him were therefore to
 believe for certain “that he was not preaching what was his, but, like
 the apostles, the Word of God.”[1025]

 Many of his hearers were all the more likely to overlook the strange
 pretensions herein embodied, seeing that a large portion of his
 discourse proclaimed the sweet doctrine of evangelical freedom and
 denounced good works.

 For the latter purpose he very effectively introduces the Catholic
 preachers, putting into their mouths the assertion, falsely credited
 to them, that “only works and man’s justice” availed anything, not
 “Christ and His Justice”; for they say, “faith is not sufficient,
 it is also necessary to fast, to pray, to build churches, to found
 monasteries, monkeries and nunneries, and so forth.” But “they will
 be knocked on the head and recoil, and be convicted of the fact, that
 they know nothing whatever of what concerns Christ, the Gospel and
 good works.” “We cannot become pious and righteous by our own works,
 if we could we should be striking Paul a blow on the mouth.” These
 “dream-preachers” speak in vain of “Works, fasting and prayer,” but
 you are a Christian if you believe that Christ is for you wisdom
 and righteousness. “The doctrine of those who are called Christians
 must not come from man, or proceed from man’s efforts.... Therefore
 a Christian life is not promoted by our fasting, prayers, cowls or
 anything that we may undertake.”[1026]

 He returns again and again to the belief, so deeply rooted in the
 heart, of the efficacy of good works in order that he may uproot
 it completely. The whole Christian system demands, he thinks, the
 condemnation of the importance attached hitherto to good works.
 “Thus the whole of Christianity consists in your holding fast to the
 Evangel, which Christ alone ordains and teaches, not to human words
 or works.”[1027] It is a “devil” who speaks to you of the meritorious
 power of works, “not indeed a black or painted devil, but a white
 devil, who, under a beautiful semblance of life, infuses into you
 the poison of eternal death.”[1028] Of the Christian who relies only
 on faith, he says, “Christ’s innocence becomes his innocence, and in
 the same way Christ’s piety, holiness and salvation become his, and
 all that is in Christ is contained in the believing heart together
 with Christ.”[1029] “But such faith is awakened in us by God. From it
 spring the works by which we assist and serve our neighbour.”[1030]

 He speaks at considerable length in the last part of his sermons of
 the particular works which he considers allowable and commendable. How
 much he wished to imply may, however, be inferred from what has gone

 Shall we not do good works? Shall we not pray any more, fast, found
 monasteries, become monks or nuns, or do similar works? The answer
 is: “There are two kinds of good works, some which are looked upon as
 good,” i.e. “our own self-chosen works,” such as “special fasting,
 special prayers, wearing a special dress or joining an Order.” “None
 of this is ordained by God,” and “Christian faith looks to nothing
 save Christ only,” therefore these works we must leave severely alone.
 There are, on the other hand, works which are better than these.
 “When once we have laid hold upon Christ, then good Christian works
 follow, such as God has commanded and which man performs not for
 his own advantage but in the service of his neighbour.” But even of
 these works Luther is careful to add that they should be performed
 “without placing any trust in them for justification.” “Fasting is
 a good work,” but then, “the devil himself does not eat too much,”
 and sometimes even “a Jew” fasts; “prayer is also a good work,” but
 it does not consist in “much mumbling or shouting,” and even “the
 Turk prays much with his lips.” “No one may or can bear the name of
 Christian except by the work of Christ.”[1031]

 Thus, even where he is forced to admit good works, he must needs add a

 Finally, where he is exhorting to the patient bearing of crosses, he
 immediately, and most strangely, restricts this exercise of virtue
 to the limits of his own experience: One bears the cross when he is
 unjustly proclaimed “a heretic and evil-doer,” not “when he is sick in
 bed”; to bear the cross is to be “deprived of interior consolation,”
 and to be severely tried by “God’s hand and by His anger.”[1032]

 In the new congregation at Erfurt it was a question of the very
 foundations of the moral life. Yet in Luther’s addresses we miss the
 necessary exhortations to a change of heart, to struggle against the
 passions and overcome sensuality. Neither is the sinner exhorted to
 repentance, penance, contrition, fear of God and a firm purpose of
 amendment, nor are the more zealous encouraged to the active exercise
 of the love of God, to self-denial according to the virtues of their
 state, or to sanctification by the use of those means which Luther
 still continued to recognise, at least to a certain extent, such
 as the Eucharist. All his exhortations merge into this one thing,
 trust in Christ. He preached, indeed, one part of the sermon of the
 Precursor, viz. “The Kingdom of God is at hand”; with the other:
 “Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance,” he would have nothing
 to do.

As far as the change at Erfurt went, the moral condition of the town
was to serve more than ever as a refutation of Luther’s expectation
that “the works will follow.”

On January 24, 1524, Eobanus Hessus wrote to Lang: “Immorality,
corruption of youth, contempt of learning and dissensions, such are
the fruits of your Evangel.”[1033] “I dislike being here very much,”
he says, in the same year, to his friend Sturz, “since all is lost,
for there is now no hope of a revival of learning or of a recovery in
public life. Everything is on the road to destruction, and we ourselves
are rendered odious to all classes by reason of some unlearned
deserters. “Oh, unhappy Erfurt,” he cries, in view of the “outrageous
behaviour of these godless men of God”; one seeks to oppress the other;
already the battlefield of passion is tinged with “blood.”[1034]

“You have by your preaching called forth a diabolical life in the
town,” Usingen wrote in 1524 of the preachers at Erfurt, “although this
is now displeasing to you, and you encourage it even up to the present
day; you set the people free from the obedience which, according to the
Divine command, they owe to the authorities of the Church, you deprive
the people of the fear both of God and of man, hence the corruption of
morals, which increases from day to day.”[1035]

Usingen, who continued courageously to vindicate the faith of his
fathers, was depicted by the preachers as a “crazy old man,” just as
they had been advised to do by Luther. “I am quite pleased to hear,”
Luther wrote to Lang some considerable time after his return, “that
this ‘Unsingen’ is still carrying on his fooleries; as the Apostle Paul
says, their folly must be made manifest (2 Tim. iii. 9).”[1036]

The champion of the Church, the alleged fool, was sufficiently
clear-sighted and frank to predict the Peasant-War as the end of all
the godless commotion, and to prophesy that the result of the general
religious subversion would be the ruin of his German Fatherland. A
fanatical preacher in the town had appealed to the mattocks of the
peasants. Him the Augustinian asks: “If the Word of God suffices in the
Church, why have you in your sermons appealed for help to the pickaxes,
mattocks and spades of the peasants?” “Why do you tell the people that
the peasant must come from the field with these weapons to assist
the Evangel, if your own and your comrades’ words prove of no avail?
Do you not know with what audacity the peasants are already rising
against their lords?” “The new preaching,” he complains, even where
it is not directly inflammatory, “renders the people, who are already
desirous of innovations and dearly love the freedom of the flesh, only
too much inclined for tumults, and this daily foments the spirit of
unrest.”[1037] “Do you not know that the mob is a hydra-headed monster,
a monster that thirsts for blood? Are you anxious to promote your cause
with the help of cut-throats?”[1038] Owing to the iconoclasts, the
ancient greatness of Constantinople fell, and the Roman Empire of the
East faded away; in like manner, so gloomily he predicts, the religious
struggle now being waged in Germany will bring about the ruin of the
Western Empire and the loss of its ancient greatness.[1039]

The help which the innovators received from the Erfurt magistrates
induced the leaders of the party to pin their trust on the support
of the secular authorities. Even this was justified by appeals to

Lang, on presenting to Hermann von Hoff, the president of the Erfurt
town-council, a translation which he had made of the Gospel of St.
Matthew, stated in the accompanying letter, that he had done so “in
order that all may know and take heed to the fact, that whatever
they undertake against the Gospel is also directed against you. It
is necessary, unfortunately, to defend the Gospel by means of the

 In July, 1521, an agreement had, it is true, been entered into which
 brought some guarantee of safety to the clergy, more particularly
 the Canons of St. Mary’s and St. Severus, yet in the ensuing years
 the Chapters were forced to make endless protests against the
 preachers’ interference in their services and the encroachments of the
 magistrates on their personal liberty, all in direct contravention of
 the agreement.

 The council demanded that the oath of obedience should be taken to
 itself and not to the Archbishop of Mayence, as heretofore. Priests
 were arrested on charges which did not concern the council at all,
 and were taken to the Rathaus. The clergy were obliged to pay taxes
 like other citizens on all farms and property which belonged to them
 or to their churches--which had been exempt from time immemorial--and
 likewise on any treasure or cash they might possess. When the
 peasants threatened Erfurt, the clergy were advised to bring all
 the valuables belonging to their churches to the Rathaus where the
 council, in view of the danger of the times, would receive them into
 safe custody, giving in return formal receipts. Since the council, as
 guardians of several monasteries, including St. Peter’s, had already
 appointed laymen who hindered the lawful Superiors from coming to
 any independent decision in matters of any moment, and as all the
 chalices and other vessels of gold and silver, together with the more
 valuable Church vestments, had already been seized at the Servites,
 the Brothers of the Rule and the Carthusians, the Canons saw how
 futile it would be to reject the “advice” given, and they accordingly
 decided to deliver up the more valuable objects belonging to the two
 principal churches, St. Mary’s and St. Severus, their decision being
 accepted by the council with “hearty thanks.” At the formal surrender
 of the vessels the magistrates protested that the Canons were really
 not fully aware how well disposed they, the magistrates, were towards
 them; that they had no wish to drive away the clergy, “but rather to
 show them all charity so that they might return thanks to God.” Yet we
 learn also that: Many persons belonging to the council whispered that
 it was their intention to make the position of the clergy unbearable
 by means of this and other like acts of despoliation.[1041]

 On April 27, 1525, on the occasion of the taking over of the treasure,
 with the co-operation of persons “distinguished for their strong
 Lutheran views,” a strict search was made in both the venerable
 churches for anything of any value that might have been left. Not the
 least consideration was paid to the private property of the individual
 clergy, objects were seized in the most violent manner, locked chests
 and cupboards were simply forced open, or, if this took too long,
 broken with axes. Every hasp of silver on copes and elsewhere was
 torn off. “Unclean fists,” says a contemporary narrator, “seized the
 chalices and sacred vessels, which they had no right to touch, and
 carried them with loud jeers in buckets and baskets to places where
 they were dishonoured.” As in other churches and convents, the books
 and papers on which any claims of the clergy against the council might
 be based were selected with special care. While precious works of
 art were thus being consigned to destruction,[1042] members of the
 town-council were consoling the Canons by renewed assurances, that the
 council “would protect both their life and their property.” Finally,
 the two churches were closely watched for some while after, “lest
 something might still be preserved in them, and to prevent such being
 taken possession of by the clergy.”[1043]

When, in 1525, on the news of the Peasant Rising in Swabia and
Franconia, meetings were held by the peasants in the Erfurt district,
the adherents of the movement determined to enforce by violence
their demands even at Erfurt. Those in the town who sympathised with
Luther made common cause with the rebels.[1044] The magistrates were
undecided. They were not as yet exclusively Lutheran, but were anxious
to make the town independent of the Archbishop of Mayence, and to
secure for themselves the property and rights of the clergy. For the
most part the lower orders were unfavourable to the magistrates, and
therefore sided with the peasantry.

The peasants from the numerous villages which were politically regarded
as belonging to the Erfurt district demanded that they should be
emancipated from the burdens which they had to bear, and placed on a
footing of social equality with the lower class of Erfurt burghers.
With this they joined, as had been done elsewhere, religious demands
in the sense of Luther’s innovations. The movement was publicly
inaugurated by fourteen villages at a meeting held in a beerhouse on
April 25 or 26, 1525, at which the peasants bound themselves by an
oath taken with “uplifted right hand,” at the risk of their lives “to
support the Word of God and to combine to abolish the old obsolete
imposts.” When warned not to go to Erfurt, one of the leaders replied:
“God has enlightened us, we shall not remain, but go forward.” As soon
as they had come to an agreement as to their demands concerning the
taxes “and other heavy burdens which the Evangel was to assist them to
get rid of,” they collected in arms around the walls of Erfurt.[1045]
The magistrates then took counsel how to divert the threatening storm
and direct it against the clergy and the hated authorities of Mayence.
The remembrance of the “Pfaffensturm” which, in 1521, had served as a
means to allay the social grievances, was an encouragement to adopt a
similar course. As intermediary between council and peasants, Hermann
von Hoff, who has been mentioned above as an opponent of the Catholic
clergy and the rights of Mayence, took a leading part; one of his
principles was that “it is necessary to make use of every means, sweet
as well as bitter, if we are to allay so great a commotion and to avert
further mischief.”[1046]

In their perplexity the magistrates, through the agency of Hoff,
admitted the horde of peasants, only stipulating that they should
spare the property of the burghers, though they were to be free to
plunder the Palace of the Archbishop of Mayence, the “hereditary lord”
of the city, and also the toll-house. The peasants made their entry
on April 28 with that captain of the town whom Lang had invited to
draw the sword in the cause of the Evangel. Not only was the Palace
despoiled and the toll-house utterly destroyed, but the salt warehouses
and almost all the parsonages were attacked and looted. In the name
of “evangelical freedom” the plunderers vented all their fury on the
sacred vessels, pictures and relics they were still able to find.

“In the Archbishop’s Palace Lutheran preachers, for instance, Eberlin
of Günzburg, Mechler and Lang, mixed with the rabble of the town and
country and preached to them.” The preachers made no secret of being
“in league with the peasantry and the proletariate of the town.” The
clergy and religious were, however, to be made “to feel still more
severely”[1047] the effects of the alliance between the three parties.

 At the first coming of the peasants, that quarters might be found for
 them, “all the convents of monks and nuns were confiscated and their
 inhabitants driven out into the street.” “Alas, how wretched did the
 poor nuns look passing up and down the alleys of the town,”[1048]
 says an eye-witness in an Erfurt chronicle. All those connected with
 the Collegiate churches of St. Mary and St. Severus had peasants
 billeted on them in numbers out of all proportion to their means. On
 the morning of April 28, the service in the church of St. Mary’s was
 violently interrupted. On the following Sunday, Eberlin, the apostate
 Franciscan, commenced a course of sermons, which he continued for
 several days with his customary vehemence and abuse. Exactly a week
 after the coming of the peasants they passed a resolution in the
 Mainzer Hof that the number of parishes should be reduced to ten,
 including the Collegiate church of St. Mary’s, and that in all these
 parish churches “the pure Word of God should be preached without any
 additions, man-made laws, decrees or doctrines.” As for the pastors,
 they were to be appointed and removed by the congregation. This was
 equivalent to sentencing the old worship to death. On the same day
 an order was issued to all the parish churches and monasteries to
 abstain in future from reciting or singing Matins, Vespers or Mass.
 The only man who was successful in evading the prohibition was Dr.
 Conrad Klinge, the courageous guardian of the Franciscans, who at the
 hospital continued to preach in the old way to crowded audiences.

 Most of the beneficed clergy now quitted the town, as the council
 refused to undertake any responsibility on their behalf; and as they
 were forbidden to resume Divine Worship or even to celebrate Mass in
 private, at the gate of the town they were subjected to a thorough
 search lest they should have any priestly property concealed about
 them. The magistrates sought to extort from the clergy who remained,
 admissions which might serve as some justification for their conduct.
 The post of preacher at the Dom, after it had been refused by Eberlin,
 who had at length taken fright at the demagogic spirit now abroad, was
 bestowed upon one of Luther’s immediate followers; the new preacher
 was Dr. Johann Lang, an “apostate, renegade, uxorious monk,” as a
 contemporary chronicler calls him.

 All tokens of any authority of the Archbishop of Mayence in the town
 were obliterated, and the archiepiscopal jurisdiction was declared
 to be at an end. Eobanus Hessus wrote gleefully of the ruin of the
 “popish” foe. “We have driven away the Bishop of Mayence, for ever.
 All the monks have been expelled, the nuns turned out, the canons
 sent away, all the temples and even the money-boxes in the churches
 plundered; the commonwealth is now established and taxes and customs
 houses have been done away with. Again we are now free.”[1049] Here
 the statement that the clergy of Mayence had been expelled “for ever”
 proved incorrect, for the rights of the over-lord were soon to be

 The magistrates were the first to fall; they were deposed, and the
 lower-class burghers and the peasants replaced them by two committees,
 one to represent the town, the other the country. In the latter
 committee the excited ringleaders of the peasantry gave vent to
 threatening speeches against the former municipal government, and
 such wild words as “Kill these spectres, blow out their brains” were

 The actual wording of the resolutions passed by both the committees
 was principally the work of preachers of the new faith. Eberlin, too,
 was consulted as to how best to draw up “the articles in accordance
 with the Bible,” but he cautiously declined to have anything to
 do with this, and declared that their demands seemed to him to be
 exorbitant and that, “the Evangel would not help them.” The Lutheran
 preachers also exerted themselves to bring about the reinstatement
 of the magistrates. It is said that on April 30, in every quarter of
 the town, a minister of the new doctrine preached to the citizens
 and country people to the following effect: “You have now by your
 good and Christian acts and deeds emancipated yourselves altogether
 from the Court at Mayence and its jurisdiction, which, according to
 Divine justice and Holy Scripture, should have no temporal authority
 whatever. But in order that this freedom may not lead you astray,
 there must be some authorities over you, and therefore you must for
 the future recognise the worthy magistrates of Erfurt as your rulers,”

 The words of the preachers prevailed, and the newly elected
 councillors became the head of a sort of republic. The burdens of the
 town increased to an oppressive extent, however, and the peasants who
 had returned to their villages groaned more than ever under the weight
 of the taxes. Financial difficulties continued to increase.

Yielding to the pressure of circumstances, the councillors gave their
sanction on May 9, 1525, “under the new seal,” to the amended articles,
twenty-eight in number, which had been drafted by the town and peasant
committees during the days of storm and stress. The very first article
made obligatory the preaching of “the pure Word of God,” and gave to
each congregation the right to choose its own pastors. “The gist of the
remaining articles was the appointment of a permanent administrative
council to give a yearly account, and to impose no new taxes without
the knowledge and sanction of both burghers and country subjects.”

In accepting the articles it was agreed that Luther’s opinion on them
should be ascertained, a decision which seems to show that the peasants
and burghers, though probably not the councillors themselves, reckoned
upon the weighty sanction of Wittenberg. Yet about May 4 Luther had
finished his booklet “Against the murderous Peasants” (above p. 201),
which was far from favourable to seditious movements such as that
of Erfurt. The council invited him by letter, on May 10, to come to
Erfurt with Melanchthon “and establish the government of the town,” as
Melanchthon puts it (“_ad constituendum urbis statum_”).[1052] Luther,
however, did not accept the invitation, and a month later the council
sent him a copy of the articles, requesting a written opinion. It is
difficult to believe that the Erfurt magistrates were not aware of
Luther’s growing bitterness against the peasants, which is attested
by the pamphlets he wrote at the time, or that they were incapable of
drawing the obvious conclusion as to his reply.[1053] “If the council
in taking this step,” says Eitner, “was relying on Luther’s known
attitude towards all revolutionary movements, and hoped to make an end
of the inconvenient demands of the people by means of the Reformer’s
powerful words, then their expectation was fully realised. Both
Luther’s letter (i.e. his answer to the council) and his written notes
on the copy of the articles sent him, are full of irony expressing
the displeasure of one whose advice was so much in request, but whose
interference in the peasant movement, in spite of his good intentions,
had thus far met with so little success.... The very articles which
the authors had most at heart were submitted by Luther to a relentless
and somewhat pointless criticism.... Thus we see in a comparatively
trivial case what has long been acknowledged of his action generally,
viz. that Luther’s interference in the Peasant-War cannot be altogether
justified.... His conduct shattered his reputation, both in the empire
and in his second native town [Erfurt], and paved the way for the
inevitable reaction.”[1054]

Luther, in his reply to the “Honourable, prudent and beloved” members
of the Erfurt council,[1055] declares in the very first sentences that
the Twenty-eight Articles were so “ill-advised” that “little good could
come of them” even were he present himself at Erfurt; he is of opinion
that certain people, who “are better off than they deserve,” are
putting on airs at the expense of the council, constitute a danger to
the common weal, and, with “unheard-of audacity and wickedness,” wish
to “turn things upside down.” Things must never be permitted to come
to such a pass that the councillors fear the common people and become
their servants; the common people must be quiet and entrust all to the
honourable magistrates to be set right, “lest the Princes have occasion
to take up arms against Erfurt on account of such unwarrantable
conduct.” Luther’s new sovereign, the Elector Johann, had just been
assisting in the suppression of the peasant rising. He was in entire
sympathy with the Wittenberg Professor, whom he so openly protected
and favoured, and doubtless they had discussed together the state of
affairs at Erfurt. In his written reply Luther asks whether it is not
“seditious” to refuse to pay the Elector the sum due to him for acting
as protector of the city. “Did they, then, esteem so lightly the Prince
and the security of the town, which, as a matter of fact, was something
not to be paid for in money?” Their demand really signified either that
“no one was to protect the town of Erfurt, or that the Princes were to
relinquish their claim to payment and yet continue to protect the town.”

The demand that the congregations of the parishes should appoint
their own pastors Luther considered particularly inadmissible; it
was “seditious that the parishes should wish to appoint and dismiss
their own pastors without reference to the councillors, as though the
councillors, in whom authority was vested, were not concerned in what
the town might do.” He insists that “the councillors have the right to
know what sort of persons are holding office in the town.”

Concerning some of the articles which dealt with taxes and imposts,
he points out that the business is not his concern, since these
are temporal matters. Of the proposal to re-establish the decayed
University of Erfurt he says: “This article is the best of all.” Of
two of the articles he notes: “Both these will do,” one being that,
for the future, openly immoral persons and prostitutes of all classes
were not to be tolerated, nor the common houses of public women, and
the other, that every debtor, whether to the council or the community,
should be “faithfully admonished no matter who he might be.” Concerning
the former of these two articles, however, we may remark, that a house
of correction for the punishment of light women had existed at Erfurt
under the Archbishop’s rule, but had been razed to the ground by the
very framers of the articles as soon as the peasants entered the town.

The principal thing, in Luther’s opinion, was to place the reins in
the hands of the magistrates, so that they may not sit there like an
“idol,” “bound hand and foot,” “while the horses saddle and bridle
their driver”; on the contrary, the aim of the articles seemed to
him to be, to reduce the councillors to be mere figureheads, and to
let “the rabble manage everything.”[1056] The “rabble” was just then
Luther’s bugbear.

The clergy who had quitted the city addressed, on May 30, a written
complaint to the Cardinal of Mayence, with an account of the
proceedings. On June 8 they also appealed to Johann, the Saxon Elector,
and to Duke George of Saxony, asking for their mediation, since they
were the “protectors and liege lords” of their Church. They also
did all they could with the council to recover their rights. The
councillors were, however, merely rude, and replied that the proud
priests might ask as much as they pleased but would get no redress.
This was what caused them to complain to their secular protectors that
they were being treated worse than the meanest peasant. Duke George
advised them to await the result of the negotiations which, as he knew,
were proceeding between the town of Erfurt and the Cardinal.

The Lutheran Elector, on the other hand, entered into closer relations
with the town-council of Erfurt, accepting with good grace their appeal
for help, their protestation of submission and obedience to his rule,
and the explicit assurance of the councillors at the Weimar conference,
on June 22, “that they would stand by the true and unfeigned Word of
God as pious and faithful Christians, and, in support of the same,
stake life and limb, with the help of God’s grace.” Thereupon the
Elector promised them, on June 23, that, “should they suffer any
inconvenience or attack because of the Word of God,” he, as their
“liege lord, ruler and protector,” would “stand by them and afford
them protection to the best of his ability,” since “the Word of God
and the Holy Evangel were likewise dear to him.” In point of fact he
did espouse the cause of the inhabitants of Erfurt, though, like Duke
George, it was his wish to see a peaceful settlement arrived at between
the town and its rightful over-lord.[1057]

The crafty councillors were actually negotiating with the
representatives of the Cardinal of Mayence at the very time when they
were seeking the protection of Saxony. The over-lord whose rights they
had outraged, through his vicar, had made known his peremptory demands
to the council on May 26, viz. entire restitution, damages, expulsion
of the Lutheran sect, re-establishment of the old worship and payment
of an indemnity. In the event of refusal he threatened them with the
armed interference of the Swabian League. The threat took effect, for
the Swabian League at that time was feared, and disturbers of the peace
had had occasion to feel its strength. The hint of armed interference
proved all the more effective when Duke George advised the inhabitants
of Erfurt to come to terms with the Mayence vicar and abolish
Lutheranism, as otherwise they would have to expect “something further.”

The council therefore assumed a conciliatory attitude towards Mayence,
and negotiations concerning the restitution to be made were commenced
at a conference at Fulda on August 25, 1525. After protracted delays
these terminated with the Treaty of Hammelburg on February 5, 1530.
This was, “from the political point of view, an utter defeat for the
inhabitants of Erfurt.”[1058] The council was not only obliged to
recognise the supremacy of the Archbishop, but also to re-erect all
buildings which had been destroyed, and to return everything that
had been misapplied; in addition to this, for the loss of taxes and
other revenues, the council was to pay the Archbishop 2500 gulden, and
to the two Collegiate churches, for losses sustained, 1200 marks of
fine silver. Both these churches were to be handed over for Catholic
worship. The reinstated over-lord, however, declared, for his part,
that, “As regards the other churches and matters of faith and ritual,
we hereby and on this occasion neither give nor take, sanction nor
forbid, anything to any party.”[1059]

Thus the rescinding of the innovations was for the present deferred,
and Luther had every reason to be satisfied with what had been effected
in a town to which he was attached by many links. How little gratitude
he showed to Archbishop Albert, and how fiercely his hatred and animus
against the cautious Cardinal would occasionally flame up, will be seen
from facts to be mentioned elsewhere.

Among the few Erfurt monks who, though expelled from their monastery,
remained true to their profession and to the Church, there was one who
attained to a great age and who is mentioned incidentally by Flacius
Illyricus. He well remembered the first period of Luther’s life in
Erfurt, his zeal for the Church and solicitude for the observance of
the Rule.[1060]

When considering Luther’s intervention in Erfurt matters, and his
personal action there, one thought obtrudes itself.

When Luther, now quite a different man and in vastly altered
circumstances, returned to Erfurt on the occasion of the visit referred
to above, is it not likely that he recalled his earlier life at Erfurt,
where he had spent happy days of interior contentment, as is shown
by the letters he wrote before his priestly ordination? In one of
the sermons he delivered there, in October, 1522, he refers to his
student days at Erfurt, but it does not appear that he ever seriously
reflected on the contrast presented by the convictions he held at that
time on the Church and his new ideas on faith and works. His allusions
to his Erfurt recollections are neither serious nor grateful towards
his old school. He speaks scoffingly of his learned Erfurt opponents,
some of whom he had been acquainted with previously, as “knights of
straw.” “Yes, they prate, we are Doctors and Masters.... Well, if a
title settles the matter, I also became a Bachelor _here_, and then
a Master and then again a Bachelor. I also went to school with them,
and I know and am convinced that they do not understand their own

Another circumstance must be taken into account. Whereas in later life
he can scarcely speak of his early years as a monk without telling his
hearers how he had passed from an excessive though purely exterior
holiness-by-works to his great discovery, viz. to the knowledge of a
gracious God, in 1522 he is absolutely silent regarding these “inward
experiences”; yet his very theme, viz. the contrast between the new
Evangel and the “sophistical holiness-by-works” preferred by Catholics,
and likewise the familiar Erfurt scene of his early life as a monk,
should, one would think, have invited him to speak of the matter

While Luther was seeking to expel by force the popish “wolves,” more
especially the monks and nuns, from the places within reach of the new
Evangel, an enemy was growing up in his own camp in the shape of the
so-called fanatics; their existence can be traced back as far as his
Wartburg days, and his first misunderstanding with Carlstadt; these, by
their alliance with Carlstadt, who had been won over to their ideas,
and with the help of men like Thomas Münzer, had of late greatly
increased their power, thanks to the social conditions which were so
favourable to their cause.

6. Sharp Encounters with the Fanatics

If, on the one hand, the antagonism which Luther was obliged to display
towards the fanatical Anabaptists endangered his work, on the other the
struggle was in many respects to his advantage.

His being obliged to withstand the claim constantly made by the
fanatics to inspiration by the Holy Ghost served as a warning to him
to exercise caution and moderation in appealing to a higher call in
the case of his own enterprise; being compelled also to invoke the
assistance of the authorities against the fanatics’ subversion of the
existing order of things, he was naturally obliged to be more reticent
himself and to refrain from preaching revolution in the interests of
his own teaching. We even find him at times desisting from his claim to
special inspiration and guidance by the “spirit” in the negotiations
entered into on account of the Münzer business; this, however, he does
with a purpose and in opposition with his well-known and usual view.
In place of his real ideas, as expressed by him both before and after
this period, he, for a while, prefers to deprecate any use of force
or violence, and counsels his sovereign to introduce the innovations
gradually, pointing out the most suitable methods with patience and

At first he was anxious that indulgence should be observed even in
dealing with the Anabaptists, but later on he invoked vigorously the
aid of the authorities.

In reality he himself was borne along by principles akin to those of
the fanatics whose ideas were, as a matter of fact, an outcome of his
own undertaking. His own writings exhibit many a trait akin to their
pseudo-mysticism. In the end his practical common sense was more than
a match for these pestering opponents, who for a time gave him so much
trouble. His learning and education raised him far above them and made
the religious notions of the Anabaptists abhorrent to him, while his
public position at the University, as well as his official and personal
relations with the sovereign, ill-disposed him to the demagogism of the
fanatics and their efforts to win over the common people to their side.

The fanatical aim of Thomas Münzer, the quondam Catholic priest who
had worked as a preacher of the new faith at Allstedt, near Eisleben,
since 1523, was the extermination by violence of all impious persons,
and the setting up of a Kingdom of God formed of all the righteous here
on earth, after the ideal of apostolic times. This tenet, rather than
rebaptism, was the mark of his followers. The rebaptism of adults,
which was practised by the sect, was merely due to their belief that an
active faith was essential for the reception of the sacraments, whilst
children of tender years were incapable of any faith at all.

As a beginning of the war against the “idolatry” of the old Church,
Münzer caused the Pilgrimage Chapel at Malderbach, near Eisleben,
where a miraculous picture of Our Lady was venerated, to be destroyed
in April, 1524. He then published a fiery sermon he had recently
preached, in which he exhorted the great ones and all friends of the
Evangel among the people at once to abolish Divine Worship as it had
hitherto been practised. The sermon was sent to the Electoral Court by
persons who were troubled about the rising, and who begged that Münzer
might be called to account. The sermon was also forwarded to Luther by
Spalatin, the Court Chaplain, evidently in order that Luther might take
some steps to obviate the danger. In point of fact, Luther’s eagle eye
took in the situation at a glance, and he at once decided to intervene
with the utmost vigour. With Münzer’s spirit he was already acquainted
through personal observation, so he said, and now he realised yet
more clearly that its effect would be to let the mob loose, with
the consequence that “heavenly spirits” of every sort would soon be
claiming to interfere in the direction of his own enterprise.

Luther at once composed a clever and powerful writing entitled “A
Circular to the Princes of Saxony Concerning the Spirit of Revolt.”
This appeared in the last days of July, 1524. To it we shall return
later, for it is of great psychological interest.

Münzer was dismissed from his situation, and went to Mühlhausen, where
the apostate monk, Heinrich Pfeifer, had already prepared the ground,
and thence to Nuremberg. At Nuremberg he brought out, in September,
1524, his “Hochverursachte Schutzrede und Antwort wider das geistlose
sanftlebende Fleisch zu Wittenberg” in reply to Luther’s Circular,
above mentioned. He then recommenced his restless wanderings through
South Germany and Switzerland. He remained for some time with the
ex-priest and professor of theology, Balthasar Hubmaier, then pastor of
the new faith at Waldshut. On his return to Mühlhausen, in December,
he put into execution his fantastic communistic scheme, which lasted
until he and the seditious peasants were defeated in the encounter
at Frankenhausen on May 15, 1525; his execution for a while put an
end to the endeavours of the fanatics. Nevertheless, in other places,
more particularly at Münster during the famous Reign of Terror from
1532-1535, the fanaticism of the Anabaptists again broke out under even
worse forms.

The short circular, “On the Spirit of Revolt,”[1063] referred to
above as a document curiously illustrative of Luther’s psychology, is
not important in the sense of furnishing a true picture of his inner
thoughts and feelings. Conveying as it does a petition and admonition
to the Princes, it is naturally worded politically and with great
caution, and was also manifestly intended for the general public.
Nevertheless its author, even where he clothes his thoughts in the
strange and carefully chosen dress best calculated to serve the purpose
he had in view, affords us an interesting glimpse into his mode of
action. He also shows throughout the whole circular in what light he
wishes to see his own higher mission regarded.

 Luther commences his writing with a complaint regarding Satan. It is
 his habit, he says, when nothing else avails, “to attack the Word of
 God by means of false spirits and teachers.” Hence, because he now
 perceives that the Evangel, though assailed by “raging Princes” (the
 opponents of the Saxon Princes), was nevertheless growing and thriving
 all the more, he had made a nest at Allstedt and caused his spirits
 there to proclaim that, “it was a bad thing that faith and charity and
 the Cross of Christ were being preached at Wittenberg. You must hear
 God’s voice yourself, they say, and suffer God’s action in you and
 feel how heavy your load is. It is all nonsense about the Scriptures
 [so Luther makes them say], all ‘Bible, Bubble, Babble,’” etc.

 Secondly, a charge which was likely to weigh as much or even more with
 the Princes, he proceeds, “the same spirit would not allow the matter
 to remain one of words, but intended to strike with the fist, to
 oppose the authorities by force and to bring about an actual revolt.”
 As against this he points out very skilfully, that, according to God’s
 ordinance, the Princes are the “rulers of the world,” and that Christ
 had said: “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John xviii. 36). Hence
 his urgent exhortation to them is “to prevent such disorders and to
 anticipate the revolt.”

 As to the spirit on which the fanatics pride themselves, it had not
 yet, so Luther declares, been proved, but “goes about working its own
 sweet will” without being willing to vindicate itself before two or
 three witnesses; Münzer, according to Luther’s previous experience of
 him, had no wish to present himself at Wittenberg (to be examined);
 “he was afraid of the soup and preferred to stay among his own
 followers, who say yes to all his excellent speeches.”

 “If I, who am so deficient in the spirit and hear no heavenly voices,”
 so he humbly assures the Princes, “had uttered such words against
 my Papists, how they would have cried out on me ‘Gewunnen’ and have
 stopped my mouth! I cannot glorify myself or defy others with such
 great words; I am a poor, wretched man and far from carrying through
 my enterprise in a high-handed way, I began it with great fear and
 trembling, as St. Paul, who surely might have boasted of the heavenly
 voice, confesses concerning himself (1 Cor. ii.).”[1064]

Luther now comes to the proof that, unlike the fanatics, his cause was
from God, that it was very different from Münzer’s enterprise, that he
was being unfairly attacked by this rival, and that consequently his
sovereign should support his undertaking as he had previously done.
Here he undoubtedly meets with greater difficulties than when he made
the off-hand statement that Münzer’s spirit was a “lying devil, and an
evil devil,” and that “storming and fanaticism” and acts of violence by
the rabble “Mr. Omnes” must not be permitted.

 From the burden of proof for his own mission from above, consisting
 in many instances of mere hints and allusions, we may select the
 following considerations submitted by him to his sovereign.

 First: I proceed “without boasting and defiance,” with humility,
 indeed with “fear.” “How humbly, to begin with, did I attack the Pope,
 how I implored and besought, as my first writings testify!”--We have
 seen that Luther’s writings and the steps he took from the outset
 of the struggle “testify,” as a matter of fact, to something quite
 different. Here he says never a word of the communications he believed
 he had received from the Spirit of God and his experience of being
 carried away by God. We may also add that his appeal to the example
 of Paul in the passage of Corinthians referred to above, when speaking
 of the “trembling and fear” he endured, was scarcely in place, since
 it was no question of actual fear in the case of the Apostle, as
 Paul, shortly afterwards, in the sublime consciousness of his Divine
 mission goes on to say: we are God’s coadjutors ... according to the
 grace of God which is given to me as a wise architect I have laid the
 foundation (1 Cor. iii. 9, 10). Paul merely states, that he is unable
 to speak to the Corinthians as to spiritual men, because they were
 still “babes in Christ,” not as though anything were wanting in him,
 for the testimony “of the Spirit and of power” never failed him.

 A second point upon which Luther lays great stress is, that, though I
 was of so humble and “poor a spirit” I nevertheless performed “noble
 and exalted spiritual works,” which Münzer certainly has not done.
 I stood up for the Evangel, which I preached in an “honourable and
 manly” fashion; indeed “my very life was in danger”: “I have had to
 risk life and limb for it and I cannot but glory in it,” he says,
 again with reference to Paul, “as St. Paul also was obliged to do;
 though it is foolishness and I should prefer to leave it to the lying
 spirits.”[1065] What exactly are the instances that he is so unwilling
 to relate of his noble scorn for death? “I stood up at Leipzig to
 dispute before a most dangerous assembly. I went to Augsburg without
 escort to appear before my greatest enemy. And I took my stand at
 Worms before the Emperor and the whole realm, knowing well beforehand
 that the pledge of a safe conduct would be broken, and that savage
 malice and cunning were directed against me. But, poor and weak as I
 then was, my will was nevertheless so determined that, had I known
 there were as many devils waiting for me as there were tiles on the
 roofs of Worms, I should still have ridden thither, and yet I had as
 yet heard nothing of heavenly voices and ‘God’s burdens and works’”
 (such as the fanatics pretended they had experienced). He commits his
 cause to Christ the Lord, so he declares, if He will support him then
 all will be well, but “before men and any assembly he is ready to
 answer boldly for himself” (as he had done at Leipzig, Augsburg and

 Münzer, in his “Schutzrede,” was not slow to answer Luther’s
 “boasting” concerning his three appearances in public. It must be
 touched upon here for the sake of completeness, although it must be
 borne in mind that it is the utterance of an opponent. Münzer calls
 Luther repeatedly, and not merely on account of this boasting, “Dr.
 Liar” and “Lying Luther.” He says to him: “Why do you throw dust in
 the eyes of the people? you were very well off indeed at Leipzig. You
 rode out of the city crowned with gilly-flowers and drank good wine
 at Melchior Lother’s? Nor were you in any danger at Augsburg [as a
 matter of fact every precaution had been taken], for Staupitz the
 oracle stood at your side.... That you appeared before the Empire at
 Worms at all was thanks to the German nobles whom you had cajoled and
 honeyed, for they fully expected, that, by your preaching you would
 obtain for them Bohemian gifts of monasteries and foundations which
 you are now promising to the Princes. Therefore if you had wavered at
 Worms, you would have been stabbed by the nobles sooner than allowed
 to go free, as everyone knows.... You made use of wiles and cunning
 towards your own followers. You allowed yourself to be taken captive
 by your own councillors [and brought to the Wartburg] and made out
 that you were ill-used. Anyone ignorant of your knavery would no
 doubt swear by all the Saints that you were a pious Martin. Sleep
 softly, dear lump of flesh. I should prefer to sniff you roasting in
 your defiance under the anger of God.”[1066] The falsity of Luther’s
 assertion, that the promise of a safe conduct had not been kept
 at Worms, has been already pointed out (p. 69). The reason of his
 appearing at Augsburg without an escort for the journey there and
 back, was, that the Elector trusted Cardinal Cajetan and did not wish
 Luther to apply for one.

 In proof of his being in the right Luther, in the third place, points
 emphatically to his learning and his success. His cause was thus
 based on a much firmer foundation than that of the Allstedt fanatic.
 “I know and am certain that by the Grace of God I am more learned in
 the Scripture than all the sophists and Papists, but God has thus far
 graciously preserved me from pride, and will continue to preserve
 me.” “I have done more harm to the Pope without the use of fists
 than a powerful king could have done”; “my words have emptied many a
 convent.” These fanatics “utilise our victory and enjoy it, take wives
 and relax papal laws, though it was not they who bore the brunt of the

 Fourthly: “I know that we who possess and understand the
 Gospel--though we be but poor sinners--have the right spirit, or as
 Paul says [Rom. viii: 23] ‘_primitias spiritus_,’ the first-fruits
 of the spirit, though we may not have the fulness of the spirit....
 We know what faith, charity and the cross are.... Hence we know and
 can judge whether a doctrine is true or false, just as we are able to
 discern and judge this lying spirit,” etc.

 Fifthly we must consider the fruits of our teaching. These are those
 mentioned by St. Paul (Gal. v. 22 f., Rom. viii. 13), viz: “charity,
 joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity and mildness”;
 Paul also says, “that the deeds of the flesh must be mortified and the
 old Adam, together with all his works, crucified with Christ. In a
 word, the fruit of our spirit is the keeping of the ten commandments
 of God.” The Allstedt spirit, he adds, ought really to bring forth yet
 higher fruits since it purports to be a higher spirit. If fruits are
 lacking then surely we also may admit that, “alas, we do not as much
 as we ought.”--It is notorious enough that Luther might have made
 still greater admissions of this sort. Nevertheless, he is able to
 point to “abundant fruit of the spirit produced by God’s Grace among
 our followers,” and is ready, “if it comes to boasting,” to set his
 own person, “which is the meanest and most sinful of all, against all
 the fruits of the Allstedt spirit, however greatly the fanatics may
 blame my life.” In order, however, the better to safeguard himself on
 this point, he remarks that, “on account of the life, the doctrine”
 must not be condemned, as this spirit “takes offence at our feeble
 life.” It appears that Münzer had spoken very strongly against Luther
 and the goings on at Wittenberg.

The one sentence in Luther’s writing which must have made the deepest
impression on his princely readers, and on their courtiers, was that
concerning the appropriation of the churches and convents, which had
been surrendered in consequence of the innovations. “Let the Rulers of
the land do what they please with them!” This invitation, in the mind
of those in power, was quite sufficient to make up for the deficiencies
of the other arguments and to be considered as an irrefragable proof of
the justice of the cause.

Luther’s higher mission being in his own opinion so firmly established
that he had no cause to fear any man, he goes so far in his Circular
as to propose that his Anabaptist foes should not be hindered. “Do not
scruple to let them preach freely!” He for his part will gird himself
for the fight, and we know of how much the force and violence of his
eloquence was capable. Confident that no one could stand against his
written or spoken word, he cries: “Let the spirits fall upon one
another and fight it out.... Where there is a struggle and a battle
some must fall and be wounded, but whoever fights manfully receives the
crown.” As a matter of fact, however, he was speedily to withdraw this
too-confident challenge; indeed, as we shall see, he later went so far
as to demand the infliction of the death-penalty upon those who dared
to differ in doctrine from himself, viz. the Anabaptists and fanatics,
establishing the necessity of this on passages from the Old Testament
which speak of the execution of false prophets.[1067]

Münzer’s party too had appealed in defence of their violent work of
destruction to the precepts of the Old Testament (Gen. xi. 2; Deut.
vii. 12; xii. 2, 3: “Destroy the altars and break down the images,”
etc.). Hence Luther deemed it necessary to point out in his Circular
against them, that “a certain Divine command then existed for such acts
of destruction which is not given to us at the present day.”

It was no uncommon thing for the Bible to furnish such matters of
dispute for the warring elements; in the question of the Divine
commission it ever occupied the foreground.

Luther solemnly raised the Bible on high and, to the Anabaptists and
other teachers of the new faith who differed from him, protested that
he and he alone had discovered the Word of God and was the appointed
teacher. Yet all those whom he addressed said the selfsame thing and
even maintained that they could show better proofs of their mission
than Luther. How, then, was the question to be decided?

The Catholic Church has never permitted individual doctors to set up
their own as the authentic interpretation of the Bible; she declared
herself to be the only divinely appointed supreme authority qualified
to determine the true sense of the written Word of God, she herself
having received the living Word of God, together with authorisation
to guard the whole body of Divine teaching, the written inclusive, in
its primitive purity, and to proclaim it with an infallible voice. She
appeals to the words of Christ: “Teach all nations,” “He that hears
you, hears me,” “You shall be witnesses for me to the ends of the
earth,” “I am with you, even to the consummation of the world.”[1068]

Outside this safe rule there is nothing but arbitrary judgment and
confusion. Luther and those he called “heretics” accused each other of
the most flagrant arbitrariness, and not without cause. They applied to
each other in derision the phrase: “Bible, Bubble, Babble,” for indeed
it was a confusion of tongues. It was not merely Luther who applied the
phrase to Münzer’s party, for, according to Agricola, Münzer mocked the
Lutherans with the same words when they ventured to attack him with
biblical texts. The Anabaptist Conrad Grebel, of Zürich, writing to
Münzer on September 5, 1524, says: “You have on your side the Bible,
which Luther derides as ‘Bible, Bubble, Babble, etc.’”[1069]

No one could prevent the fanatics from availing themselves of the
freedom of private interpretation which Luther had set up as a
principle. Münzer, no less than Luther, respected the Bible as such,
and knew how to make use of it skilfully. He also, declared, exactly
as Luther had done, that he taught the people “only according to Holy
Scripture,” and, “please God, never preached his own conceits.”[1070]
According to Luther’s own principles, Münzer’s faction had also a
perfect right to make the “outward Word” (the Bible) agree with the
“inward Word,” which they believed they heard. When Luther, at a later
date, insists so strongly on the need of accepting the outward Word as
well as the inner worth, this was really a retreat on his part (see
vol. iv., xxviii. 1); moreover, by the outward Word he here means the
Bible as he explained it.

To force those who were unwilling to accept the new, purely personal
and subjective interpretation, and to do so without the authority
of the Church, whose claims had been definitively discarded, was to
exercise an intolerable spiritual despotism. We can well understand
how Münzer came to complain, in one of his letters, that Luther in his
Circular-Letter “ramps in as ferociously and hideously as a mighty
tyrant.”[1071] He could well complain in particular of Luther’s
demand, that the spirit which spoke in Münzer should submit to an
examination before the Lutheran tribunal at Wittenberg previous to
being acknowledged as a spirit which had been duly called. This Luther
required, assuring his followers that Münzer’s party was execrated
even by the Papists, that it had no real commission and could show
no miracles on its behalf. He was anxious to retain for himself the
“first-fruits of the Spirit.” To this the retort of his foes was that
the first-fruits of the Spirit were theirs, belonging to them by
virtue of heavenly testimony. This fellow Luther wishes to ascribe the
first-fruits of the Spirit to himself, wrote Grebel to Münzer, and yet
he composes such a “wicked booklet.” I know his intentions; they are
thoroughly tyrannical. “I see he means to give you up to the headsman’s
axe and hand you over to the Princes.”[1072]

And yet, in spite of other differences between himself and the
Anabaptists, Luther found himself in agreement with them not merely
on the principle of free interpretation of the Bible but also in the
stress he lays on the inspiration from above supposed to be bestowed
on all. Luther did not deny that individual inspiration, the “whisper”
from on high, as he termed it, was one of the means by which faith
might be arrived at; on the contrary, the only question for him was how
far this might go.

Luther was fond of insisting that only a heart tried by temptation was
able to arrive at the understanding of the words of Scripture and of
religious truths in general. Münzer, too, demands this preliminary on
the part of the would-be theologian, though he does so in rather more
fantastic language. Study of Tauler’s mysticism had filled his mind,
even more than Luther’s, with confused notions. On the appearance of
Luther’s Circular-Letter, he offered to submit to an examination of
his spirit before the whole of Christendom. Those were to be summoned
from all nations who had “endured overwhelming temptations in matters
of faith and had arrived at despair of heart.” These words we find in
a letter addressed to the Elector of Saxony, August 3, 1524.[1073]
Luther, however, considered himself far better acquainted with the
abyss of interior sufferings than any other; Münzer must not be allowed
to interfere with him here. “We must not be bold in the Word of God,”
but “treat Holy Scripture with reverence and great fear; this the
rabble and the impudent spirits do not do.” Such things (what Christ
says concerning the new birth) “cannot be understood, unless a man has
experienced it, and himself undergone a spiritual regeneration.”[1074]

Luther, in point of fact, met the Anabaptists half-way on that doctrine
of baptism from which they took their name. Rebaptism he naturally
rejected, but he nevertheless advocated the principle for which the
Anabaptists stood, namely, that, for the reception of baptism,
faith is necessary on the part of the catechumen. To overcome the
difficulties which presented themselves in the case of children who
had not yet reached the use of reason, he had recourse to some curious
explanations. There was no help for it; they also must believe.
Probably they are enlightened at the moment of baptism, which, in
accordance with the Church’s ancient usage, must be administered to
them, and, by some Almighty action, are penetrated with that perception
of faith which is essential for the reception of this absolutely
necessary sacrament, After all, he argues, why should reason be
essential for faith? Is not reason really hostile to faith? Strange
indeed were the subterfuges in which he took refuge in order to evade
the consequences which Münzer and his party rightly drew from his

But in spite of all they might have in common, and notwithstanding his
being the actual father of the detestable Anabaptist error, he felt
himself removed far above the fanatics by a sense of superiority and
Divine support which no words could adequately express.

His conviction regarding his own supreme mission and his great gifts
and achievements, which increased in strength as he advanced in years,
derived further encouragement from the utter madness of the fanatics
and his success in overthrowing them.

No sooner had the unhappy Münzer been made prisoner and, after a
contrite Catholic confession, been beheaded at Mühlhausen, together
with Heinrich Pfeifer, a priest, and twenty-four rebels, than Luther
proclaimed the event throughout Germany in a pamphlet as a plain
judgment of God, which set a seal on his own Evangel and confirmed him
as the teacher of the truth.

 In this work, entitled “A frightful story and Divine Judgment,”[1076]
 he says: Had God spoken through him “this [his fall] would not have
 occurred. For God does not lie but keeps His Word. Since then Thomas
 Münzer has fallen, it is plain that he spoke and acted through the
 devil while pretending to do so in the name of God.... More than five
 thousand,” he continues, “rushed headlong to destruction of body
 and soul. Alas! the pity of it all! This was what the devil wanted,
 and what he is seeking in the case of the seditious peasants.” He
 protests that, “he feels sorry that the people should thus have
 perished in body and soul,” but he cannot help endorsing their eternal
 reprobation, as far as in him lies; “to the end they remained hardened
 in infidelity, perjury and blasphemy,”[1077] therefore if God has so
 manifestly punished these “noxious, false prophets,” this must serve
 to teach us to have a great regard for the “true Word of God.”

 “I do not boast of an exalted spirit,” Luther says, comparing himself
 with the fanatics and their like, but “I do glory in the great gifts
 and graces of my God and of His Spirit, and I do so rightly, so I
 think, and not without cause.... Münzer is indeed dead, but his spirit
 is not yet exterminated.... The devil is not asleep, but continues to
 send out sparks.... These preachers cannot control themselves, the
 spirit has blinded them and taken them captive, therefore they are not
 to be trusted.... Beware and take heed, for Satan has come among the
 children of God!”[1078]

His self-confidence makes it as clear as daylight to him that he is the
true interpreter of the Word of God, whether against the survivors of
Münzer’s party or against the fickle phantasies of Carlstadt; this we
see particularly in the caustic, eloquent tracts he launched against
the latter: “To the Christians of Strasburg against the fanatics” and
“Against the heavenly Prophets.”

In the latter, a famous book which will be dealt with later when we
have to speak of Carlstadt (vol. iii., xix. 2), Luther attacks the
fanatics along the whole line and unconditionally lays claim to a
higher authority for his own personal illumination and his Evangel.
Yet he does not omit to point out, in view of the fact that so many
repudiated this Evangel, that its power can only be felt by those whose
consciences have been “humbled and perturbed.”

Never for a moment does he relinquish his claim, that his
interpretation of the Bible is the only true one:--

 “What else was wanting in Münzer,” he says, “than that he did not
 rightly expound the Word?... He should have taught the pure Gospel!...
 It is a great art to be able to distinguish rightly between the Law
 and the Gospel.... God’s Word is not all of the same sort, but is
 diverse.... Whoever is able to distinguish rightly between the Law
 and the Gospel is given a high place and called a Doctor of Holy
 Scripture, for without the Holy Ghost it is impossible to make this
 distinction. This I have experienced myself.... No Pope, or false
 Christian, or fanatic, is able to separate these two [the Law and
 the Gospel] one from the other.”[1079] But because he had the “Holy
 Spirit,” Luther was able to make this supremely great discovery, and
 found thereby the key to the Scriptures, on which alone he builds.

 “I, for my part, have, by the grace of God, now effected so much that,
 thanks be to God, boys and girls of fifteen know more of Christian
 doctrine than all the Universities and Doctors previously did.” “I
 have set men’s consciences at rest concerning penance, baptism,
 prayer, crosses, life, death and the Sacrament of the Altar, and
 also ordered the question of marriage, of secular authority, of the
 relations of father and mother, wife and child, father and son, man
 and maid--in short, every condition of life, so that all know how to
 live and how to serve God according to one’s state.”[1080]

 Given his achievements, Luther was not going too far when he spoke of
 himself repeatedly as a “great doctor.”[1081] He also showed himself
 extremely sensitive, as we shall soon see, to the attempts of the
 sectarians and fanatics to deprive him of the honour of the first
 place, to discredit his discovery of the Gospel, and either to crown
 themselves with his laurels and possess themselves of the fruits of
 his struggles, or, at his expense, to invent novelties and launch them
 on the world. Seeing that Christ is “destroying the Papacy” through
 him and is bringing it to its “_exspiravit_,” i.e. to the last gasp,
 he is naturally annoyed to learn that there are other spokesmen of the
 new faith who refuse to follow him without question, and who cause
 “a great falling away from his preaching and much slanderous talk.
 There are some, who after having read a page or two or listened to a
 sermon, without further ado take it on themselves to be overbearing
 and to reproach others, telling them that their conduct is not that
 of the followers of the Gospel.” This, he declares, he himself had
 “never taught anyone,” rather, as St. Paul also had done, he had
 “strictly forbidden it. They merely act in this way because they are
 desirous of novelties.... They misapply Holy Scripture to their own

 All this he says when actually declaring that he has no wish to set
 himself above anyone, or to be “any man’s master.”

 There was scarcely one among the many teachers of the innovations who
 dared to differ from him whom Luther did not liken to the devil. “I
 have had more than thirty doctors of the fanatics opposing me,” he
 said on one occasion, “all anxious to be my instructors”; all these
 he had driven before him like chaff and vanquished the “devil” in

 “Münzer, Carlstadt, Campanus and such fellows, together with the
 factious spirits and sects, are merely devils incarnate, for all their
 efforts are directed to doing harm and avenging themselves.”[1084]

 Himself he looks upon as the champion of God against the devil,
 raised, as it were, to the pinnacle of the temple. It is the devil
 whom by heavenly power he repels and shames in the fanatics who arise
 in his camp. “Satan,” he says to them, “cannot conceal himself.”[1085]
 “Such fellows are beguiled by the devil.”[1086] Johann Agricola, a
 comrade of his, he delivers over to Satan, because he differed from
 him in some points of doctrine: “He goes on his way, all devoted to
 Satan as he is, sowing seeds of enmity against us.”[1087] Luther
 warns him that he may become a martyr, but like Arius and Satan, whom
 Christ punishes. “Good God, what utter malice! These heretics say of
 me what the Manichæans said of Christ, viz. that Christ had indeed the
 Holy Spirit but only in an imperfect degree, whereas they themselves
 possessed it in its perfection.”[1088]

 Caspar Schwenckfeld, like Agricola, he esteemed an heretical
 theologian desirous of innovations, “a mad fool possessed by the
 devil”; “it is the devil who spews and excretes his works.” Luther’s
 malediction on this heretical devil runs, “May God’s curse light on
 thee, Satan, thy spirit which called thee forth, be with thee to
 thy destruction.”[1089] Michael Stiefel, the Lutheran preacher and
 fanatic, is also no less possessed of the devil. “It is soon over
 with a man,” Luther laments over this old friend, “when the devil
 possesses him in this way.”[1090] Even Zwingli and the Zwinglians are
 also possessed through and through by the devil and are the servants
 of Satan.[1091] All who do not agree with him, but set up their own
 ideas, merely show that the devil is at work in the world. “This is
 how the work of the devil goes on. In twenty years I have met more
 than fifty sectarians desirous of teaching me, but God has preserved
 me, He Who said of St. Paul, ‘I will show him how great things he must
 suffer for my name’s sake’” (Acts ix. 16).[1092]

 It is these men whom the devil [of pride] carries high up “in the air
 and sets on the pinnacle of the temple.”[1093]

We must cut short this string of Luther’s utterances and quote some of
the words of his opponents. What Thomas Münzer said in reply is the
reverse of feeble, but at least it gives us a good idea of the way in
which controversies were conducted in those days. Thomas Münzer, in his
printed reply to Luther referred to above,[1094] is manifestly angry
that Luther should stamp all who contradict him as devils.

“That most ambitious, lying scribe Dr. Luther,” he says, becomes, “the
longer he lives, more of an arrogant fool, shields himself behind
Holy Scripture and utilises it to his advantage in the most deceitful

 The greatest of all crimes is that “no attention is paid to the
 commands of the Pope of Wittenberg,” Münzer remarks sarcastically;
 Luther was putting himself up “in place of the Pope,” while at the
 same time “he curried favour with the Princes”; “you, you new Pope,
 make them presents of convents and churches.” “You have distracted
 all Christendom with a false religion and now, when it is necessary,
 are unable to control it” except with the help of the rulers. He was
 introducing “a new system of logic-chopping with the Word of God”; he
 is desirous of “managing everything by the Word” and exalts himself
 as though he had not come into the world in the ordinary way but had
 “sprung from the brain.” He speaks of “our safeguard and protection”
 as though he himself were a Prince; with his “fantastic reason” he was
 working mischief, while making a great display of humility; he makes
 much of his own “simplicity,” but this resembled that of the fox, or
 of an onion which has nine skins. All his adversaries he labelled as
 “devils,” but he himself raved and ranted like a hound of hell, and
 if he did not raise an open revolt this was merely because, like the
 serpent, he glided over the rocks.[1096]

 Equally remarkable are the words addressed to Luther by Valentine
 Ickelsamer, one of the leaders of the fanatics. He tells Luther that
 his preaching only goes half-way, for it proclaims the right of
 private judgment in things Divine, but not for all men, and “confuses
 the people” by its want of logic and instability. Ickelsamer himself
 is determined to speak, “because the Evangel gives us freedom of
 belief and the power of judging.” Not only does he find numerous
 “Scriptural utterances which are against Luther’s views,” but he also
 inveighs strongly against the gigantic pride which leads Luther to
 “desire that everyone should look to him”; his self-exaltation leads
 him to commit the gravest “injustice and tyranny.” “Settle yourself
 comfortably in the Papal Chair” he cries to Luther, “for after all you
 only want to listen to your own singing.” Your obstinacy is such, he
 says, that you would have no scruple in contradicting the statement
 “Christ is God” “were you unfavourably disposed” towards its author.
 Would it not be a good thing if “Our Lord God were to smash the idols
 and set you up in their place?”[1097]

In spite of all remonstrances Luther continued, nevertheless, to
compare his adversaries to mere devils. The devil beguiles them to
employ their reason, to seek the reason (“_Quare_”) of the articles of
faith. Such words are tantamount to an attack on theology in general.
“The ‘_Quare_,’” he says, “leads us into all the unhappiness and heresy
by which our first parents were deceived by the devil in Paradise....
Verily we deserve to be crowned with coltsfoot for being so foolish and
falling so readily into the snare when the devil comes along with his
old ‘_Quare_.’”[1098]

 “They are lost [the fanatics], they are the devil’s own.”[1099]

 On the other hand, Luther makes the devil confirm his own mission.
 “The devil has been dreading this for years and smelt the roast from
 afar; he also sent forth many prophecies against it, some of which
 apply to me so that I often marvel at his great malice. He would also
 have liked,to kill me.”[1100] The devil desired Luther’s death simply
 in order to rid himself of his fine preaching.

 Another familiar thought which seemed to have an irresistible
 attraction for him frequently intervenes to confirm this theory. My
 interior sufferings, he says repeatedly, and my struggles with the
 devil, set the seal of most certain assurance on my teaching, and this
 seal the fanatics do not possess.

 Here comes Campanus, he says of a refractory theologian in his ranks,
 and “makes himself out to be the only man who is sure of everything”;
 “he prides himself on being certain upon all matters and of never
 being at a loss”; Campanus condemns him as a “liar and diabolical
 man,” and of this he was “as sure as that God is God.” And yet this
 Campanus has “never passed through any struggle, nor had a tussle
 with the devil, and actually glories in the fact.”[1101] On the other
 hand, he himself, he says, had been “tried by the devil” and proved by
 “temptation”; that is the true test and is essential for every real
 “student of theology”; “for as soon as God’s Word dawns upon you, the
 devil is sure to try you, and in this way you become a doctor in very

 “But those whom the devil takes captive by false doctrine and a
 factious spirit, he holds tight. He takes possession of their heart,
 making them deaf and blind, so that they neither see nor hear
 anything, and do not pay any heed to the plain, clear and manifest
 testimony of Holy Scripture; for they are so tightly caught in his
 clutches that they cannot be torn away.”[1103] At first heretics do
 not see where Satan is taking them. “They put forward the antecedent
 most devoutly and with a simulated peace of conscience. Thereupon
 the devil draws a consequence, which they [the factious spirits] had
 never dreamt of. Johann Agricola, for instance, does not see the
 consequence. But the devil is a capital dialectician and has already
 built up the syllogism, antecedent, consequence and all. And yet we
 still lull ourselves into a false security and think that the devil
 is not governing the world.”[1104] Luther refers the prejudice of
 heretics in favour of their errors to a kind of bewitchment by the
 devil, for if the devil is able to bewitch the bodily senses, as
 Luther was convinced he could, then he will also be able, “expert and
 dangerous adept” as he is, to take captive the hearts and consciences
 of men “with still greater ease.” “What is nothing but a lie, heresy
 and horrid darkness, they take for plain, pure truth and are not to be
 moved from their ideas by any exhortations or remonstrance.... They
 behave like those parents in the legend of St. Macarius, who, owing
 to a delusion of the devil, took their daughter for a cow, until they
 were at last set free from the spell.... Thus the devil in such people
 effects by false doctrine what he is otherwise wont to bring about by
 means of delusive pictures and fancies.”[1105]

We will here conclude with a family scene. On one occasion, in 1544,
Luther, in the presence of Catherine von Bora, poured out his ire
against Schwenckfeld for his want of acquiescence in his doctrines:
“He is ‘_attonitus_’ [moonstruck], like all the fanatics,” he says of
him. “He spurts the grand name of Christ over the people and wants me
to bow low before him. I thank God I am better off, however, for I know
my Christ well, and have no need of this man’s filth.” Here Catherine
interrupted him: “But, my dear Sir, that is really too rude.” Luther
replied: “They are my masters in rudeness. It is necessary to speak so
to the devil; he can make an end of this fanaticism,” etc.... “He leads
the Churches astray, though from God he has received neither command
nor mission! The mad, devil-possessed fool does not even know what he
is talking about.... Of the muck the devil spews and excretes through
his booklet I have had quite enough.”[1106]

7. Progress of the Apostasy. Diets of Spires (1529) and Augsburg (1530)

The Imperial Edict, issued after the Diet of Nuremberg and dated
February 8, 1523, had decreed, that the Gospel should be preached
agreeably to the teaching of the Christian Church.

At the Diet of Nuremberg, in 1524, it had been enacted that the edict
against Luther promulgated at Worms was to stand and to be enforced
as far as was possible; the Pope was also to be requested to summon
a General Council to meet in Germany, but, before this, it was to be
decided at a religious convention, meeting at Spires in the same year,
what attitude should be assumed towards the doctrines called into
question. Against this decree Luther published an angry, turbulent
pamphlet entitled, “Two unequal and contradictory commands.”[1107] He
therein showed that the orders of the Diet were self-contradictory; for
it was absurd to uphold the Edict of Worms in all its severity and yet
at the same time to reserve the decision regarding Luther’s doctrine to
the assembly at Spires.[1108]

He went, however, much further and attacked the authority of the
Estates and of the Emperor. On the other hand, at the conclusion of the
Diet, the Dukes William and Lewis of Bavaria, and twelve bishops of
South Germany, at the instance of Lorenzo Campeggio, the Papal Legate,
and Archduke Ferdinand, had met together and agreed to carry out the
Edict of Worms as far as they were able, and at the same time to
inaugurate a wholesome reform of morals amongst both clergy and people.
“By means of this agreement the temporal and spiritual Princes hoped
to maintain unimpaired the religious unity of the German Nation and to
insure internal tranquillity in their dominions.”[1109] Dissension for
a while prevented others from joining the league.

The indecision of the Diets was due not only to lack of unity among
the Catholics, but to a variety of other causes: to political
considerations, the state of general unrest, the need of adopting
measures against the Turks, the apprehensions of the Estates, and,
finally, to religious indifference.

The Diet of Spires, in 1526, decreed in language no less ambiguous,
that the Edict of Worms was to remain in force until a General Council
could be summoned, and that the sovereigns and Estates of the Empire
should “live, govern and conduct themselves as they hoped to answer
for it to God and His Majesty [the Emperor].” This cannot be read “as
implying that the evangelicals were given a formal right to separate
themselves from the communion with the Church and to set about the work
of reformation on their own account.”[1110]

The Diet held subsequently at Spires, in 1529, opposed the
anti-Catholic interpretation placed on the resolutions of 1526 and the
way in which they had been enforced. It pointed out the inconveniences
which had been their result, and sought earnestly to improve the
position of affairs.[1111] The article of 1526, it declared, had
been interpreted, during the time that had since elapsed, in a most
regrettable manner, “as an excuse for all sorts of shocking new
doctrines and sects” and had served as a cloak for “apostasy, strife,
dissension and wickedness”; wherefore it was to be rescinded and
certain other enactments put into force.

Then follow the resolutions of the Diet of Spires, accepted by the
Catholic majority and published with the Imperial sanction, against
which the Lutheran Princes and Estates raised the “Protest” from which
Protestantism took its name.

 Foremost among these resolutions is the following: Those who had
 previously adhered to the Edict of Worms, “are determined to abide by
 the same until the future Council shall be convened and to insist upon
 their subjects doing so too.” Further, it was enacted by the Estates,
 that, “where the new teaching had been introduced and could not be
 abolished without notable revolt, trouble and danger,” “novelties”
 were to be avoided until the assembly of the Council. Thirdly, in
 places where the new teaching was in force the Blessed Sacrament in
 particular was not to be assailed or preached against (as it was by
 the Zwinglians), neither were people to be hindered from attending
 Mass. After more stringent measures had been sanctioned against the
 Anabaptists and “those who attempted to stir up the people to revolt
 against the authorities,” for the preservation of peace in matters
 of religion it was further determined that, “no ruler might take the
 subjects of another ruler under his protection whether for reasons of
 belief or for any other.” What had been enacted at Worms was to remain
 in full force, but “if any Estate should commit a deed of violence”
 the Kammergericht was empowered to pronounce sentence of outlawry on
 the offenders.

 The latter enactments were occasioned by the preparations made by the
 Lutheran Estates to unite themselves still more closely in a common

Against these resolutions as a whole the party in the Reichstag which
sided with the promoters of the innovations raised, on April 19, 1529,
the “Protest” which has since become famous; they declared at the same
time that it was impossible for them to countenance any alteration in
the favourable Edict of 1526. Previous to the departure of their rulers
and representatives, the Saxon Electorate, and Hesse, and the cities of
Strasburg, Ulm and Nuremberg entered, on April 22, into the “particular
secret agreement” concerning mutual armed resistance to any attack
which might be made upon them in the “cause of the Word of God” by the
Swabian League, the Kammergericht or the Empire.

In a Memorandum of the same year, also signed by Melanchthon, Luther
approved the action of his Elector and sought to justify it from the
theological point of view; “first, and principally, on the ground, that
His Princely Highness [by accepting the Edict of Spires of 1529] would
have been acting contrary to His Highness’ conscience and condemning
the doctrines which he acknowledged before God to be both Christian
and wholesome.” He also seeks to pacify the Prince by instancing the
terrible abuses of the Papal Church in Germany, which had been so
happily removed by the new teaching and which he ought not to use his
authority to “re-establish or maintain.”[1112]

In the Reichstagsabschied there was, however, no question of the
maintenance of abuses, and, only to Luther, could the retention of
the Mass appear as the maintenance of an “abuse”; it was much more a
question of checking, for a time, the advance of the innovations and
the propaganda of the Lutherans and of securing the legal rights of
Catholics, more particularly in those districts where the new religious
system was already in being.

The protesters might have accepted such a settlement without in any
way sacrificing their claims to equity, had they really been desirous
of justice and of coming to an agreement. Melanchthon himself, in his
own name and that of his friends, could well write: “The Articles in
the Imperial resolution do not press hard upon us.”[1113] Luther’s
opinion, on the other hand, was quite different; it was only his
defiant attitude and their own obstinate determination to resist the
terms offered them which prevented the protesters from accepting the
resolution in question. Their action, however, tended to excite men’s
minds still further. They appealed to their conscience: “What would our
assent be,” they declared in the Protest, “but a public denial of our
Lord and Saviour Christ and His sacred Word, which there is no doubt we
now possess in all its purity, simplicity and justice?”

They then made the attitude they had thus assumed an excuse for
refusing assistance against the Turks, notwithstanding the fact that
news had already reached Spires that the Turkish fleet was cruising
off the coasts of Sicily and threatening Western Christendom. “It
is an undeniable fact, that they would not promise to render aid
against the Turks unless the Catholic Estates of the Empire arrived
at some other conclusion concerning the religious question than that
under discussion, which they declared it was impossible for them to

Such was the position of affairs when, in the summer of 1530, the
much-talked-of Reichstag at Augsburg was entrusted with the task of
bringing about the practical reconciliation of those who had separated
from communion with the Church. In the event of failure the Emperor
held out the prospect of the employment of sterner measures.

Luther and his followers agreed to the negotiations, but with the
so-called “proviso of the Gospel,” i.e. stipulating that the plain
Gospel, the Word of God, should not be tampered with.

What a grand temple of peace the old Augsburg Rathaus, with its
assembly-room for the forty-two members of the Reichstag, might have
become! In that case what significance the solemn procession of the
Blessed Sacrament, which, accompanied by the Catholic Princes and
Estates, passed through the streets of the city on the Feast of
Corpus Christi, would have possessed. Intentionally the feast had
been celebrated with a pomp and concourse of people such as had never
before been witnessed in the city, for was it not to symbolise the
establishment of religious unity? As it was, however, the work of
pacification completely miscarried, owing to the stubbornness of Luther
and his party.

Luther himself remained in the background during the proceedings.
He stayed in a place of safety at the Castle of Coburg, situated on
the Elector’s territory but sufficiently near to the city where the
Reichstag was held. His principal representative at Augsburg was
Melanchthon, who distinguished himself by his supple and politic
behaviour. In the afternoon of June 25, he caused the famous “Augsburg
Confession,” of which he was himself the author, to be read in the
Rathaus in the presence of the Estates of the Empire.[1115] The names
of the Elector and Prince Johann Frederick of Saxony, of Margrave
George of Brandenburg, of Dukes Franz and Ernest of Lüneburg, of
Landgrave Philip of Hesse, of Prince Wolfgang of Anhalt and of the
representatives of the Imperial cities of Nuremberg and Reutlingen were
appended to the document.

When, during the sessions, the new faith and the steps to be taken
towards peace came to be discussed, Melanchthon, greatly to the
surprise of the Catholics, spoke as though the spiritual jurisdiction
of the bishops was to be recognised by the Protestant party. The Papal
Legate wrote letters to Rome which aroused high hopes, at least in the
minds of the more sanguine. It was only gradually that the Catholic
party at Augsburg became convinced of the fact that they must exercise
the utmost caution. The ambiguity of the promises made by Melanchthon
rested on the fact, that acknowledgment of jurisdiction was tacitly
restricted to those bishops who should declare themselves in favour of
the new faith.

Melanchthon also made use of equivocation in the official document
just referred to, i.e. in the Augsburg Confession of Faith (cp. vol.
iii., xviii. 1). In the further negotiations with his opponents he
was “only too much inclined to agree to ambiguous formularies and
to make concessions not honestly compatible with the constantly
repeated ‘proviso,’ that nothing contrary to the Gospel was to be
conceded.”[1116] When, however, he showed himself shaky even with
regard to the sacrificial character of the Mass, the anxious Lutherans
at Augsburg thought it time to draw Luther’s attention to the matter.
It was pointed out to him by Lazarus Spengler that “our representatives
at Augsburg are going rather too far” in their concessions to the
demands of the Catholics.

Luther would not sanction any actual yielding, but was not averse to
a little diplomacy. He replied to Spengler, on August 28: “I have
written to him [Melanchthon] about this once before and am now writing
to him again, but hope that there is no real need. For though Christ
may appear to be somewhat weak, this does not mean that He is pushed
out of His seat.... Though too much may have been conceded--as may
be the case--still, the cause is not lost, on the contrary, a new
struggle has been entered upon that our adversaries may be convinced
how honestly they have acted. For nothing may be conceded above and
beyond the Gospel, whichever party’s ‘_insidiæ_’ hold the field; for,
in the proviso concerning the Gospel, ‘_insidiæ_’ are embodied other
than those which our adversaries can employ against us. For what is the
wisdom of man as compared with that of God? Therefore let your mind
be at rest; we can have conceded nothing contrary to the Gospel. But
if our supporters concede anything against the Gospel, then the devil
himself will seize on that, as you will see.”[1117]

This remarkable letter, with its allusions to the weakness of Christ,
the proviso of the Gospel and the successful “_insidiæ_,” calls for
some further consideration. Luther reckoned on two things, as we
shall see from his instructions to be quoted immediately. First, that
the best way to escape from the difficult situation created by the
Reichstag was to make general statements, which, however, were not
to surrender any part of the new teaching; he was anxious to pursue
this course in order to secure freedom for the Evangel, or at least
some delay in the condemnation of his cause. Secondly, that though at
Augsburg the evangelical spokesmen might be forced to give up some
part of the new teaching, yet this would be invalid, since against the
Gospel nothing can stand.

One can scarcely fail to see that one and the other of these
calculations militated against any serious, practical result of the
negotiations. They could only succeed in retarding any settlement of
the question, though any delay would of course tend to strengthen
Luther’s cause.

We have also a Latin letter of Luther’s to Melanchthon, bearing the
same date (August 28), which throws even more light on their treatment
of the Diet of Augsburg.

The letter describes the painful embarrassment in which Melanchthon
found himself placed as intermediary after the advances and concessions
he had made at Augsburg. Luther encourages him with strange arguments:
“I am reassured by the thought, that you cannot have committed anything
worse than a sin against our own person, so that we may be accused of
perfidy and fickleness. But what then? The constancy and truth of our
cause will soon set that right. I trust this will not be the case,
but I say, should it be, even then we should have no need to despair.
For when once we have evaded the peril and are at peace, then we can
easily atone for our tricks and failings (‘_dolos ac lapsus nostros_’),
because His [God’s] mercy is over us. ‘Expect the Lord, do manfully and
let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord’” (Psalm xxvi.

This highly questionable counsel refers to the second of Luther’s
calculations mentioned above. He was not, however, forgetful of
the first, and expressly tells Melanchthon that he will best elude
difficulties by the general statement that “they were ready to give to
God what was God’s, and to the Kaiser what was the Kaiser’s.... Let
them [the opposition] prove what they assert, viz. that God and the
Emperor were on their side.” “Let them show that what they demand is
according to the Word of God”; should they succeed, then they will have
a right to hold the field, because all they were anxious to do was to
obey the Word of God. With Luther, however, the Word of God was not
really the Word of God itself, but what he understood by the Word of
God. We cannot wonder if Catholics stigmatised this form of speaking as
mere “dissimulation.” Nor can it be matter of surprise that far-seeing
Catholic representatives at Augsburg dreaded some snare on the part
of the protesters. Luther’s conception of the “proviso of the Gospel”
which, according to his letter to Spengler, was under any circumstances
to lead to the success of his cause, certainly shows their suspicions
to have been amply justified. Luther was, however, wrong in imputing to
them any wish to make use of similar “_insidiæ_” against his cause.

In a Latin letter of the same date Luther pointed out to his friend
Jonas, who was also one of the theologians then at Augsburg, the course
he himself had pursued at the Diet of Worms as the best example and
rule to be followed at Augsburg. At Worms Luther had appealed in the
presence of the Empire to the Word of God as binding on his conscience.
“Whatever you may concede [to the opposition],” he says to Jonas,
“never forget to except the Gospel, as I did at Worms, for here the
circumstances are quite similar.” Previous to this he had said: “Christ
watches over His honour, though we may perhaps be asleep to our shame.
Let them boast that you have yielded much, for they do not understand
that they have not got the one and only thing for which we really care
[the Gospel]. Let them have their way, those spectre-monks of Spires,”
he adds in German.[1119]

 Nevertheless, in his letter of September 23, 1530, to the pastor
 of Zwickau, Nicholas Hausmann, Luther speaks of the readiness of
 his party to make concessions in the matter of the bishops, as of
 a serious and important matter: the Catholic party had required
 concessions of them which could only be described as “filthy, shameful
 and degrading.” “Our party have rejected their offers absolutely.”
 And he continues in the same serious tone: “They offered to admit the
 jurisdiction of the bishops again, if these would see that the Gospel
 was taught and all abuses done away with; some festivals also were to
 be retained. Nothing, however, came of it. Our foes are determined
 upon their own destruction; their inevitable fate hangs over their

 What he says to the Landgrave Philip of Hesse scarcely a month
 later, on looking back upon this matter, is less mystical and more
 diplomatic. The latter had expressed his “surprise” at the position
 which had been taken up at Augsburg towards the Catholics, and Luther
 was forced to seek an excuse. Here he represents the offers made as
 a mere pretence and thus comes, as a matter of fact, nearer to the
 truth than in the aforesaid letter to his zealous admirer Hausmann,
 which was anything but true to fact. We should assuredly have been
 guilty of a “fault,” he says, and have acted to the detriment of our
 party, had our advances been accepted, but of that there was little
 fear; now, however, we profit by our offer, for we can represent
 ourselves as having been badly treated and thus we get an advantage
 of the Papists. “I trust that Your Highness will not take offence,”
 so runs the passage, “that we offered to accept certain things, such
 as fasting, festivals, meats and chants, for we knew well that they
 could not accept any such offer, and it serves to raise our repute
 still further and enables me in my booklet to paint their disrepute
 still more forcibly. It would indeed have been a mistake on our part
 had the offer been accepted.”[1121] The Protestant author of the
 “Hessische Kirchengeschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation” thinks it
 necessary to make this extenuating remark: “The fact that Luther was
 here seeking to excuse himself will serve to explain the wording of
 this letter concerning his behaviour during the negotiations with
 the Catholics, which otherwise might be easily misunderstood.” He
 thinks there was no question of any original intention of taking
 advantage of his opponents’ good faith, but that Luther, merely as an
 afterthought, sought “to represent this as having been all along his
 intention.”[1122] But does this really suffice to establish Luther’s
 honesty and uprightness in the business?

 In agreement with what he had said to Philip of Hesse, in his
 “Warnunge an seine lieben Deudschen” (below, p. 391), which he was
 then writing, or at least thinking of, Luther made every effort “to
 enhance our repute” by instancing the ostensibly so conciliatory
 attitude of the evangelicals at Augsburg. He there speaks of the
 “humility, patience and pleading” which they “exhibited”;[1123] “our
 prayers and pleas for peace” were, however, “lost upon these obstinate
 men.” “The Papists,” he declared further on, quite untruly, had
 refused to hear of peace, truth or reproof, but, “with their heads
 down,” insisted upon waging war or raising a revolt. “Our offers, our
 prayers, our cries for peace” were all wasted. He gives no details
 concerning the spirit in which these “offers” were made.

The Emperor’s attempts to bring about peace at the Diet of Augsburg,
under the circumstances described above, were doomed to failure. It
was impossible for the Reichstag to bridge over the chasm which was
intentionally and artfully kept open by Luther and his party. The
final resolutions which were drawn up in due form and proclaimed by
the Emperor on November 19, declared that in matters of faith no
innovations might be introduced; worship, in particular the ritual of
the sacraments, the Mass and Veneration of the Saints, was to remain as
before until a decision by an Œcumenical Council; any interference with
or injury to churches and convents was forbidden; married priests were
to be removed from their posts and punished; preachers were only to be
appointed by the bishop; books were not to be printed without being
submitted to the censors, etc. The enactment, that Church property
which had been seized by the innovators should be returned without
delay, was a source of particular displeasure to Luther’s friends.

According to Luther the devil had triumphed at the Reichstag. “The
spectre-monks of Spires,” to use his own expression, i.e. the spirits
of hell, according to him, threatened his enterprise with destruction.

The apparition of the phantom monks of Spires was one of the
manifestations of diabolical animosity towards his teaching which
troubled Luther greatly at that time, in his lonely retreat of Coburg.
We here see the curious spirit-world in which he lived. A whole troop
of fiends disguised as monks, so he had been reliably informed, had
come to the Rhine at Spires at the beginning of the Diet of Augsburg
and had been ferried across the river on the pretext that “they were
from Cologne and wished to attend the Diet at Augsburg. But,” so the
story ran, “when they had crossed over, they all suddenly vanished,
so that they are believed to have been nothing but a band of evil
spirits.”[1124] Melanchthon looked upon the apparition of the “monks
of Spires” as the presage of a “terrible revolt.”[1125] His son-in-law,
George Sabinus, wrote a description of the incident in verse. Luther
himself was probably more inclined to look upon these spectres as
devils, because he had personally seen an apparition of the devil at
Coburg, where Satan had appeared in the garden below his window under
the form of a serpentine streak of light (cp. vol. vi., xxxvi. 3).

He was at that time dominated by fear and dread, partly owing to the
proceedings at the Reichstag, partly on account of the unfortunate
termination of the religious conference with Zwingli at Marburg,[1126]
where no understanding had been reached regarding the chief point
under dispute, and partly also because in his solitude his old inward
“temptations” and mental depression were again tormenting him. He
was also suffering much from the result of overwork. A malady due to
nervous exhaustion had, in 1527, so enfeebled him as to bring him to
the verge of the grave. The malady now returned with similar, though
less severe, symptoms. The spiritual desolation and fear, which were
the consequence of his doubts, now again assailed him as they had done
after his previous illness in 1527. Of this condition, Melanchthon, to
whom it was familiar enough, wrote to Dietrich, that one could not hope
to dispel it by human means, but only by recourse to prayer.[1127]

“Satan has sent me his emissaries,” Luther himself says of his
sufferings; “I was alone, Veit and Cyriacus were absent, and Satan was
so far successful as to drive me out of the room and force me to go
amongst the people.” He compares his mental state to a land dried up by
heat and wind and thirsting for water.[1128]

He observed to Melanchthon that as a rule he was weaker in such
personal combats than when it was a question of the common weal, or
of his public work.[1129] This may serve to correct those historians
who have nothing but “praise for Luther’s assurance and cheerfulness”
during the time when at Augsburg his cause stood in such imminent

Luther’s letters, previous to the breaking off of his followers’
pretended negotiations at Augsburg, certainly do not breathe a
spirit of interior peace. He says, for instance, to Jonas: “I am
actually bursting with anger and indignation (‘_pæne rumpor ira et
indignatione_’). I beseech you to cut the matter short and come back
home. They have our Confession and the Gospel. If they wish they can
accept them, if not let them depart.” Then there follows in the Latin
epistle a characteristic exclamation in German: “If war is to come, let
it come, we have prayed and done enough. The Lord has given them over
to us as a holocaust in order ‘to reward them according to their works’
[2 Tim. iv. 14]; us, His people,” Luther concludes, “He will save even
from the fiery furnace of Babylon. Forgive me, I pray, my Jonas, for
spewing out all this annoyance of mine into your lap; but what I have
written for you is meant for all.”[1130]

That it was indeed meant for all he showed by publishing, in 1531, in
anticipation of the “war” and in order that his party might not become
a “holocaust,” the “Warnunge Doctoris Martini Luther an seine lieben
Deudschen.”[1131] In this work, while indulging in the most virulent
abuse of the Reichstag, he declares, that in the event of a war or
tumult no assistance was to be rendered to the Papists; legitimate
self-defence demanded that such attacks should be met by resistance.
The determination shown by Luther after the Diet of Augsburg to
withstand the whole authority of the Empire is plainly manifest
even now in the vehemence of the tracts which he proceeded to throw
broadcast among the people. His purpose was to foster among the masses
a spirit of opposition which should be a constant menace to peace.

Losing no time, he at once attacked the Imperial Abschied in a special
pamphlet, “Auff das vermeint keiserlich Edict,”[1132] which immediately
followed the “Warnunge” and was soon being read throughout the German

It is true that at the beginning he here affirms that it is not his
wish to “write against his Imperial Majesty or any of the authorities,
temporal or spiritual.” Yet the whole work is nothing but a piece
of frightful abuse against the decision arrived at by Charles V and
against those Estates of the realm which had confirmed it. It is a
mere artifice when he declares that he is merely inveighing against
“traitors and other miscreants,” whether “Princes or Bishops, who work
their deeds of wickedness in the name of the Emperor,” “particularly
against that arch-knave, Pope Clement [VII] and his servant Campegius,”
for all the while, now with satire, now in deadly earnest, he is
really attacking the Reichstag and the authority of the Empire.
Incidentally we may mention that, quite oblivious of the Imperial
command, he had launched this pamphlet amongst the people without
submitting it to the censorship, and that in the very title he speaks
of the “supposed Edict,” though it was a question of an Edict issued
in due form and signed and sealed by the Emperor. His distortions
and misrepresentations, both of historical truth and of the Catholic
doctrine as put forward at the Reichstag, are so gross that they
deserve to be chronicled here.

Some of his misstatements were at once pointed out to him, in 1531, by
Franz Arnoldi, parish-priest at Cöllen, near Meissen, in the “Antwort
auf das Büchlein,” printed at Dresden, probably at the instance
of Duke George of Saxony.[1133] “As many lies as words,” exclaims
Arnoldi;[1134] “the devil, the father of lies and murderer of the human
race,” was anxious to support Luther by means of the “dissensions,
disagreements and revolts” which had already been stirred up, and, for
this purpose, had sent this shocking booklet among the people through
the agency of his “familiar and customary instrument and tool, Martin
Luther, that barrel brimful of abuse and slander.” Over and over
again Arnoldi expresses his conviction in the strongest and coarsest
language, that “the apostate undoubtedly worked under the devil’s own
direction.”[1135] Luther’s proceedings do not, however, stand out with
sufficient clearness in Arnoldi’s tract; indeed, the author was not
competent to grapple with the task he undertook. For instance, he fails
to show by examples how Luther, all through his pamphlet, makes use of
dishonest devices. Thus Luther represents the Imperial Recess as laying
it down that everything which the Lutherans opposed was certain on
the strength of the Gospel, or of a special inspiration received by
the Pope, and that this applied even to real ecclesiastical abuses, to
say nothing of certain pious customs not affecting the faith. Hoping
to mislead the people, Luther tells them that whoever refuses to take
Holy Water has, according to the Reichstag, fallen under sentence
of death; that, according to the same source, “befoulment with holy
things, pilgrimages and such-like” is a true revelation; that festivals
and fasts, cowls and tonsure, payments to Rome and pious brotherhoods,
come, according to the Papists, from the Gospel, in fact, constitute
their only Gospel. By his “inspirations” the Pope sets himself above
Holy Scripture, just as he makes himself Emperor and sets himself above
the Emperor, particularly in “secular government.” In support of this
last statement he cites the Decretals, though his references prove
nothing of the sort but rather the reverse.[1136]

It will be worth our while to examine rather more closely Luther’s
system of polemics as it appears in his work “Auff das vermeint
keiserlich Edict.” Its utter unfairness was, indeed, calculated to
rouse the masses to a pitch in which deeds of violence were to be

 Seeing that the Edict promulgated by the Reichstag merely leads people
 to “blaspheme God day and night,” it were better to be a Turk than
 a Christian under such a banner. The Edict “abuses and slanders the
 married state”--because it does not tolerate those priests who “live a
 dishonourable life or with dishonourable women.” It brings to nought
 the Word of God because it will not allow those to preach who teach,
 like himself, “that which is in accordance with faith in Christ.” It
 entirely degrades the authorities by inciting them only to “murder,
 burn, drown, hang and expel” the people. “Let no one,” he says, “be
 apprehensive of this Edict which they have so shamefully invented and
 promulgated” in the name of the pious Emperor, for in real truth it is
 the veriest devil’s dung.

 Many other almost incredible misrepresentations accompany his
 stream of eloquence. Bishops, cardinals and popes were merely
 squandering Church property “on women of easy virtue, on feasting
 and debauchery,” whereas Luther and his followers employed for good
 purposes such possessions of the Church as they had appropriated.
 If they did not hold them in very high esteem this was because so
 much “blasphemy” still adhered to them. The monks were stifled in
 their holiness-by-works; they were convinced, for instance, that they
 had infallibly won heaven by merely donning the religious habit.
 The clergy were a mere herd of “hogs and debauchees.” Many of his
 statements were made expressly to excite the contempt and laughter
 of the masses. The clerical doctrine of good works, for instance,
 consisted in believing that whoever inadvertently swallowed a drop of
 water or a gnat before communion, was not permitted to approach the
 sacrament. According to him the clergy declared that “whoever had a
 smudge on his rochet was guilty of a mortal sin.” Of himself and his
 preaching on faith he has it, that “he insisted more upon good works
 than Popery had ever done”; nevertheless, he would not have men seek
 salvation in their works without Christ, as the Pope taught, and as
 the sophistical authors of the Edict, “those imperial clerks and
 poets,” believed.

 Incidentally he seeks to lead the misguided people, who had no
 opinions of their own, to believe that the Catholic spokesmen who
 had rejected his doctrine of the slavery of the will, did not even
 know what the question at issue really was. They do not know “what
 free-will is; the Universities still disagree on the subject.... These
 great, rude, blockheads condemn what they themselves admit they do not
 understand”--as though, forsooth, a difference regarding the exact
 definition and meaning involved a doubt as to the existence of freedom.

 In their Edict they condemn my doctrine of justification, he cries,
 though they themselves clearly recognise the contrary and, in the
 secret of their hearts, are on my side, knowing well that their
 boasts are but idle lies. In confident tones he asserts that he has
 been defamed by sophistical charges of supporting doctrines which
 were altogether strange to him and which he had never defended;--in
 point of fact, these charges were not levelled at him at all, but
 against the Anabaptists and others; he makes out the Edict to contain
 contradictions,--of which in reality not the slightest trace is
 to be found. The Catholic declaration that to receive communion
 under both kinds is in itself allowable, he distorts into a general
 permission. Because the giving of the chalice was no longer part of
 the discipline of the Church, he calls the Popes spiritual robbers of
 the faithful and overt enemies of their salvation. Add to this his
 misinterpretation of Bible passages, the pious tone artfully assumed
 here and there, his deliberate passing over in silence of certain
 questionable points, and his pretence of awaiting the decision of a
 general Council.

What has been quoted is sufficient to show the stratagems to which the
author has recourse at the expense of truth, and the doubtful methods
employed by him in his popular controversial writings. Yet this
work is by a long way not the most violent and malicious specimen of
Luther’s literary output.

We may wonder whether Luther, in the stress of his controversial
struggle, was fully aware of the glaring dishonesty of his utterances.
Certain it is that he was frequently carried away by anger and
excitement. Some daring misrepresentations and inventions he reiterated
so often that he may at last have come to believe them. Without some
inward obsession playing upon his imagination such a phenomenon is
almost inexplicable.

 Although the contents of Luther’s “Warnunge an die Deudschen” and
 “Auff das vermeint keiserlich Edict” incited people to resist
 the Emperor,[1137] and thus far agreed with the demands of the
 revolutionary party, as made, for instance, by the Landgrave of Hesse,
 yet Luther was most careful to guard himself against any accusation of
 having preached revolt against the authority of the Empire. Previous
 to the publication of the “Warnunge” he had assured the Landgrave that
 the greatest caution would be exercised in the work, “so that it may
 not be stigmatised as seditious.”[1138] Later, too, he declared, quite
 at variance with the actual facts of the case, and notwithstanding the
 well-founded complaints of Duke George of Saxony and his own Elector’s
 disapproval of the inflammatory character of his work: “In it I have
 not treated of anything in a seditious manner and no one will be able
 to convict me of stirring up revolt thereby.”[1139] He informs the
 Elector, that the two pamphlets were really not “sufficiently severe”
 considering the tone of his literary opponents; he was “only sorry
 that he had not used stronger and more violent language,” whereas--the
 allegation is untrue, but was calculated to produce a powerful effect
 on the Elector--“unheard-of threats are contained in this horrible
 statute and sentence levelled against Your Electoral Highness and
 the members of your house, so that the sword and wrath of the whole
 Empire menaces Your Electoral Highness in life and limb, drenching
 Germany with innocent blood, making widows and orphans, and bringing
 destruction and devastation on the Empire.”[1140] He concludes: “May
 Our Merciful Father in Heaven comfort and strengthen Your Electoral
 Highness in His Word.”

The Catholic Duke George of Saxony, a clear-headed man and good
politician, owing to the attack made upon him by Luther, descended
into the literary arena at the time when the struggle was at
its height, after the Edict of Augsburg, writing an anonymous
“Gegenwarnung” against Luther’s “Warnunge” and against his “Vermeint
Edict.” This was published by Arnoldi, who added an epilogue of his
own.[1141] The work is written in powerful language and abounds with
good arguments. The Duke commences with the plain statement, that the
innovator is after nothing else than making “us Germans disloyal to the
Emperor and opposed to all authority.” He points out with how great
cunning and malice Luther had gone to work, telling countless lies,
making a loud clamour and using endless artifices; this should be taken
to heart by those who called him a living Saint and vaunted the spirit
of God which spoke through him.

Having learnt the name of the author, Luther replied immediately
in a booklet steeped in hate, entitled, “Widder den Meuchler zu
Dresen gedrückt.”[1142] He fell upon the Duke with such insults,
misrepresentations and calumnies that many Catholics, to whom Luther’s
conduct appeared ever stranger, shared the opinion expressed in
George’s reply, viz. that “Luther is certainly possessed by the devil,
with the whole legion which Christ drove out of the man who was
possessed”; if Paul was right in saying that the spirit was known by
its fruits (Gal. v. 22), then Luther’s spirit was “the spirit of lies,
which spoke fond inventions and untruths through him.”[1143]

 Luther, in his pamphlet “Widder den Meuchler, etc.” abuses the
 author of the “Gegenwarnung” as an “arch-villain,” a “horrid,
 impudent miscreant,” a fellow who tried to deck out and conceal the
 “traitorous, murderous tyranny” of the Papists under the mantle of the
 charges of “revolt and disobedience” directed against him, Luther. He
 stigmatises all his opponents, more particularly the Catholic rulers,
 as “bloodthirsty tyrants and priests,” as “bloodhounds” who have gone
 raving mad from malice, as “murderers who have shed so much innocent
 blood and are still desirous of shedding more.” They were “worthy
 offshoots, who believe our teaching to be true and nevertheless
 condemn it, and are therefore anxious for war and slaughter.” He also
 declares he had never seen a “bigger and more stupid fool” than the
 author. “Now then, squire assassin! Speak up and let us hear your
 opinion. Shame upon your book, shame upon your brazen effrontery and
 malicious heart; how is it that you do not blush to lay bare your
 murderous and shameful lies before all the world, to deceive such
 pious folk and to praise and vaunt such obstinate bloodhounds? But you
 are a Papist, hence the infamies of the Papacy cling to you so that
 you have gone mad and spit out such shameful words.”[1144]

 To describe the Catholic party at the Diet of Augsburg he makes use of
 the word “bloodhounds” six times within a few lines.[1145]

 The haste with which he dashed off the pamphlet was only equalled by
 his terrible excitement. He says at the end: “I have been forced to
 hurry for the Leipzig Fair [the book Fair], but soon I shall lick
 his gentle booklet into better shape for him.... I don’t care if he
 complains that it contains nothing but evil words and devils, for that
 redounds to my honour and glory; I wish it to be said of me in the
 future, that I was full of evil words, vituperation and curses on the
 Papists. I have humbled myself frequently for more than ten years and
 given them nothing but good words.”[1146]

What he really should have done would have been to defend himself
against the charge brought forward by George of stirring up revolt
against the authority of the Empire. He not only failed to vindicate
himself, but assumed a still more threatening and defiant attitude.

       *       *       *       *       *

After contemplating these far from pleasing pictures we may be allowed
to conclude by referring to one of Luther’s more favourable traits.
While, on the one hand, his soul was filled with deep anger against the
Papists, on the other he was also zealous in inveighing against those
who were threatening the foundations of those articles of the Christian
faith which he still held in common with Catholics, and which he was
ever ready to defend with the fullest conviction.

He foresaw that the freethinking spirit, which was involved in his own
religious movement, would not spare the dogma of the Trinity. He was
painfully alive to the fact that the arbitrariness of the Anabaptists
presaged the ruin of the most fundamental of Christian tenets.

In a sermon preached in 1526, speaking of the doctrine of the Trinity,
he had said: “The devil will not rest until he has managed to do the
same with this dogma as with the Sacrament; because we have snatched it
out of the jaws of the Pope and re-established its right use, turbulent
spirits now want to tread it under foot. The same will happen in the
matter of this article, so that we shall relapse into Judaism.”[1147]

A dangerous example of anti-Trinitarian tendencies had shown itself in
Luther’s immediate circle in the person of Johann Campanus, a native
of the diocese of Liege, who had been a student at Wittenberg since
1528. This man boasted that he was the first since the days of the
Apostles to rediscover the Gospel concerning the true unity or dualism
of God.[1148]

The doctrines of Campanus, which the latter submitted to the Elector
of Saxony, made Luther very angry; he described them as “wretched
doctrinal monstrosities” (“_misera monstra dogmatum_”).[1149] Their
author he termed an enemy of the Son of God, a blasphemer, a child of
Satan.[1150] Against Campanus Bugenhagen published certain writings
of St. Athanasius, with Luther’s approval, and the latter also wrote
a powerful preface to the edition. He wished, as he says, to strike
a blow at those Italian or German-Italian Humanists, who denied the
Trinity or were alienated from Christianity. In his exaggeration and
bitterness he counted Erasmus, the author of “_Hyperaspistes_,” among
the “_Viperaspides_” pointing him out as one of the anti-Trinitarians
who must be fought against.[1151] In the preface he vents his
indignation in his usual language: The doctrine of the Trinity, like
the other fundamental dogmas, was now being attacked by the “slaves of
Satan”; the example of St. Athanasius, the champion of faith in the
Trinity, demonstrated, how, in order to defend it, we must be ready
to stand against “all the fury let loose in hell, on earth and in
the whole realm”; in our “altogether distracted age” it is necessary
to “set up against these devils, these Epicureans, sceptics, Italian
and German monsters, Him [God the Father], Who had said to Jesus, our
Servant, ‘Thou art My Son,’ and again, ‘Sit Thou on My right hand.’
Thus we will wait and see if these giants come off victorious in their
titanic struggle against God.”

He recalls how, as a young monk, he had read these very writings of
St. Athanasius “with great zeal in the faith,” and informs us that
he had received a copy to read from his pedagogue or Novice-master,
written out in his own writing. He trusts that Bugenhagen’s work will
contribute to the glory of our Lord Jesus, Who, “through His boundless
love for us has chosen to become the servant of us poor sinners,” and
that “the Lord will soon destroy all those giants, which is what we
await and pray for day by day.”

                            END OF VOL. II

                              PRINTED BY

                     WILLIAM BRENDON AND SON LTD.



[1] “Hutteni opp.,” ed. Böcking (Lipsiæ, 1859, _seq._), 1, p. 433.

[2] _Ibid._, 1, p. 320 _seq._

[3] “Hutteni opp.,” ed. Böcking (Lipsiæ, 1859, _seq._), 1, p. 320 _seq._

[4] “_Vidimus certe cruentas eius litteras ad Huttenum._” C. Otto,
“Joh. Cochläus,” 1874, p. 121, note. Janssen-Pastor, “Gesch. des
deutschen Volkes,” 2^[18], p. 116.

[5] Schauenberg’s letter of June 11, 1520, in Luther’s “Briefwechsel,”
ed. Enders 2, p. 415.

[6] On June 17, 1520, “Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 443.

[7] To Wenceslaus Link, July 20, 1520, Letters, ed. de Wette, 1, p. 470
(“Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 444).

[8] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 20, p. 267; Weim. ed., 6, p. 258. The “_insignis
turbula_” which Luther announces in a letter to Spalatin of February,
1520 (“Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 344), is not the “revolution of the
nobility which Hutten planned,” but the ecclesiastical and political
storm to be roused by Luther’s own action.

[9] Text in Luther’s “Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 409 (better than in Böcking,
1, p. 355). At the head of the letter are the words, “_Vive libertas_.”
The phrase, “_Iubet ad se venire N. te, si tutus istic satis non sis_,”
must refer to Sickingen. Before this, Hutten says: “_Si vi ingruent,
vires erunt adversum, non tantum pares, sed, ut spero, superiores

[10] “_Se iam et litteris et armis in tyrannidem sacerdotalem ruere._”
Luther writes thus to Spalatin on September 11, 1520, “Briefwechsel,”
2, p. 478. Cp. _ibid._, p. 488: “_Armis et ingenio rem tentans_.”

[11] Cp. Enders, 2, p. 480, note 5.

[12] “_Iungam Hutteno et spiritum meum_,” etc. Letter of September 11,
1520, quoted above.

[13] To Spalatin, November 13, 1520, “Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 523. The
“attack” was supposed to have taken place in the beginning of November.
But Aleander, in the letters he sent to Rome in the middle of December,
does not speak of an actual attack, but merely of threats addressed
by Hutten to the Archbishop of Treves, and reported by the latter to
Aleander. Cp. A. Wrede, “Deutsche Reichstagsakten unter Karl V,” Bd.
2, Gotha, 1896, p. 460 f., and P. Kalkoff, “Die Depeschen des Nuntius
Aleander vom Wormser Reichstag,”² Halle, 1897, pp. 32, 46.

[14] Letter of December 4, 1520, in “Briefwechsel Luthers,” 3, p.
5 f. The able politician Capito served Luther well also at a later
date. It was chiefly owing to him that the carrying out of the Worms
proscription was prevented.

[15] Letter of December 9, 1520, Böcking, 1, p. 435 ff.

[16] Luther to Spalatin, December 15, 1520, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 20.
If the Papacy be not overthrown, the alternative is “_aut ultima dies

[17] “_Nollem vi et caede pro evangelio certari_,” etc. To Spalatin,
January 16, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 73.

[18] “_Princeps noster ut prudenter et fideliter ita et constanter
agit_,” etc., February 9, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 85. Luther was
then engaged on the “Assertio,” “Opp. Lat. var.,” 5, p. 156. “Werke,”
Weim. ed., 7, p. 91 ff. Cp. “Werke,” Erl. ed., 24², p. 55.

[19] Böhmer, “Luther im Lichte der neueren Forschung,”² p. 64.

[20] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 277 ff.; Erl. ed., 27, p. 85 ff.

[21] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 2, p. 103; Erl. ed., 21, p. 191.

[22] _Ibid._, pp. 91 and 173.

[23] See, for instance, Oldecop’s statements, vol. 1, pp. 24, 280.

[24] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 323; Erl. ed., 27, p. 138.

[25] _Ibid._, pp. 322, 136.

[26] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 1, p. 246.

[27] To Sylvius Egranus, preacher at Zwickau, March 24, 1518,
“Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 173.

[28] To Johann Staupitz, March 31, 1518, _ibid._, p. 176.

[29] “Von dem Bapstum tzu Rome,” “Werke,” Erl. ed., 27, p. 138; Weim.
ed., 16, p. 323.

[30] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 328; “Opp. Lat. var.,” 2, 80.

[31] Ibid., p. 347 = p. 107. We shall come back later to the harsh
exclamation which occurs in the course of this outburst: “_Cur non
magis hos magistros perditionis ... omnibus armis impetimus et manus
nostras in sanguine istorum lavamus?_” and to the mitigating additions
introduced into the Jena edition of Luther’s works, see below, p. 55,
n. 1.

[32] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 2, p. 384 ff. “Opp. Lat. var.,” 2, p. 294

[33] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 196.

[34] To Wenceslaus Link, July 10, 1518, “Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 211.

[35] “An den Stier von Wittenberg,” Bl. A.

[36] “Auff des Stieres tzu Wiettenberg wiettende Replica,” Bl. n. 3.

[37] To Johann Lang, November 11, 1517, “Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 124.

[38] In 1520, soon after February 18, _ibid._, 2, p. 329.

[39] To Sylvius Egranus, March 24, 1518, _ibid._, 1, p. 174.

[40] “Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 148. On the date see Kalkoff, “Z. für KG.,”
31, 1910, p. 411.

[41] Knaake, in “Werke,” Weim. ed., 1, p. 522. Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, pp.
170, 177.

[42] On May 30, 1518, “Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 200.

[43] “Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 442.

[44] Cp. Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, pp. 224, 355.

[45] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 3 ff., 39 ff., Erl. ed., 53, p.
41, after the German original; “Opp. Lat. var.,” p. 210, in Latin
(“Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 496).

[46] P. Kalkoff, “Die Miltitziade, eine kritische Nachlese zur Gesch.
des Ablassstreites,” 1911. Miltitz--a man whose ability was by no means
equal to his vanity, and who owed whatever influence he possessed
to his noble Saxon descent--was chosen to bring the Golden Rose to
the Elector of Saxony. His instructions were to induce Frederick to
abandon Luther’s cause and to hand him over to the ecclesiastical
judges. Though Miltitz was a mere “_nuntius et commissarius_” with
very restricted powers, he assumed great airs. The Elector, who knew
his man, soon found means to use him for his own political aims. In
September, 1519, when the Golden Rose had duly been handed over,
Miltitz’s mission was at an end, and he was thereupon engaged for
three years by Frederick himself (Kalkoff, p. 33). His further doings
revealed more and more both his untrustworthiness and his light-hearted

[47] To the Elector of Saxony,October 14, 1520, in extract,
“Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 495, n. 3.

[48] “Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 468.

[49] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 474 ff., “Opp. Lat. var.,” p. 5.

[50] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 338.

[51] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 339.

[52] To Spalatin, August 23 and 31, 1520, “Briefwechsel,” 2, pp. 464,

[53] “Opp. Lat. var.,” 4, p. 329 _seq._

[54] Sermon of 1522, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 28, p. 260 (2nd impression);
cp. _ibid._, p. 220 (1st impression), “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 3, p. 18.

[55] Colloquia, ed. Bindseil, 3, p. 178 _seq._

[56] _Ibid._, p. 170.

[57] To Spalatin, “Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 446: “_Bis monuisti, mi
Spalatine, ut de fide et operibus tum de obedientia ecclesiæ Romanæ in
apologia mea vernacula mentionem facerem_.”

[58] “Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 433, where he begins, on an enclosed slip;
“_Quod si Princeps etiam hoc adiiciat, esse Lutheranam doctrinam_,”
etc. (a hint for the Elector’s reply to Cardinal Petrucci). Cp.
“Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 430, n. 1.

[59] _Ibid._, p. 429.

[60] July 10, 1520, “Opp. Lat. var.,” 2, p. 351.

[61] “Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 464.

[62] _Ibid._, p. 432: “_A me quidem iacta est alea, contemptus est
Romanus furor et favor, nolo eis reconciliari nec communicare in
perpetuum_,” etc.

[63] “Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 432.

[64] To Conrad Saum, one of his followers, October 1, 1520, _ibid._, p.

[65] Printed in “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 381 f.; Erl. ed., 21, p. 274

[66] Kolde, “Luther,” 1, p. 256.

[67] _Ibid._, p. 267.

[68] Letter of July 20, 1520, “Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 444.

[69] Printed in “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 484 ff.; Erl. ed., “Opp. Lat.
var.,” 5, p. 13 _seq._

[70] Printed in Latin, “Opp. Lat. var.,” 4, p. 206 _seq._; “Werke,”
Weim. ed., 7, p. 39 ff. In German, “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 12 ff.
Erl. ed., 27, p. 173 ff.

[71] Kolde, “Luther,” 1, p. 274.

[72] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 23.

[73] _Ibid._, p. 25.

[74] _Ibid._, p. 27.

[75] _Ibid._, p. 29 f.

[76] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 29.

[77] Köhler, “Luther und die Kirchengesch.”, 1, p. 42.

[78] The true character of such utterances of Luther can be best judged
from the results they produced. “The effect not merely of the radical
tendencies, but of Luther’s sermons, was chiefly to make the people
believe that the freedom of a Christian was to be found in the utmost
contempt for all law, whether human or Divine,” G. Krüger, “Phil.
Melanchthon, eine Charakterskizze,” 1906, p. 14.

[79] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 412; Erl. ed., 21, p. 288.

[80] “Werke,” Weim. ed., p. 411 (287).

[81] “Preussische Jahrbücher,” 1909, Hft. 1, p. 35. In his review of
Denifle-Weiss, vol. ii., P. Albert Weiss, in many passages, describes
the consequences alluded to above.

[82] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 561. “Opp. Lat. var.,” 5, p. 102. The
summary is from Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 349.

[83] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 350. “With the nature and extent of the
Christian liberty which he [here] claimed he might have shocked even
libertines. Nor did he shrink from advocating it elsewhere in the same
work.” _Ibid._, p. 345.

[84] “_Dico itaque: Neque papa neque episcopus neque ullus hominum
habet ius unius syllabæ constituendæ super christianum hominem, nisi
id fiat eiusdem consensu; quidquid aliter fit, tyrannico spiritu fit_”
(p. 536 [68]). Cp. p. 554 [93], concerning the superfluousness of laws:
“_Hoc scio, nullam rempublicam legibus feliciter administrari.... Quod
si adsit eruditio divina cum prudentia naturali, plane superfluum et
noxium est scriptas leges habere; super omnia autem caritas nullis
prorsus legibus indiget_” (p. 555 [94]). “_Christianis per Christum
libertas donata est super omnes leges hominum._” On p. 558 [98], with
regard to the alleged corruption of the marriage law: “_Ut nulla
remedii spes sit, nisi, revocato libertatis evangelio, secundum ipsum,
exstinctis semel omnibus omnium hominum legibus, omnia iudicemus et
regamus. Amen._” This latter declaration of war, and other things
too, are not found in the Jena and Wittenberg editions. In all these
utterances we see the excessive zeal of a theorist devoid of experience
whose eyes are blind to the consequences. Many, indeed, are those who
in the course of history have been equally precipitate in pronouncing
on questions of moment, regardless of the number of their readers.

[85] p. 555 [100]: “_Digamiam malim quam divortium, sed an liceat, ipse
non audeo definire_.”

[86] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 348.

[87] p. 558 [99]: “_Consulam, ut cum consensu viri--cum iam non
sit maritus, sed simplex et solutus cohabitator--misceatur alteri
vel fratri mariti, occulto tamen matrimonio, et proles imputetur
putativo, ut dicunt, patri_.” Cp. his disgusting language regarding
the ecclesiastical impediments of marriage, p. 554, [93]: “_Quid
vendunt [Romanenses]? Vulvas et veretra. Merx scilicet dignissima
mercatoribus istis, præ avaritia et impietate plus quam sordidissimis
et obscoenissimis ... ut in ecclesia Dei loco sancto [sit] abominatio
ista, quæ venderet hominibus publice utriusque sexus pudibunda, seu, ut
scriptura vocat, ignominias et turpitudines, quas tamen antea per vim
legum suarum rapuissent._”

[88] p. 560 [101].

[89] Cp. the Latin edition, “Opp. Lat. var.,” 4, p. 206 _seq._ The
summary is from Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 358 ff.

[90] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 58. “Opp. Lat. var.,” 4, 233.

[91] “Opp. Lat. var,” 4, 233. Some preach, “_Ut affectus humanos
moveant ad condolendum Christo ad indignandum Iudæis et id genus alia
puerilia et muliebria deliramenta_.” One must preach, “_eo fine, quo
fides in eum promoveatur_”; this preaching is in agreement with the
teaching according to which in Christ, “_omnium domini sumus, et
quidquid egerimus, coram Deo placitum et acceptum esse confidimus_.”

[92] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 405; Erl. ed., 21, p. 278 f.

[93] _Ibid._, p. 414 [291].

[94] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 468 f. [360 f.].

[95] _Ibid._, 500 f. “Opp. Lat. var.,” 5, p. 20.

[96] _Ibid._, p. 173 f. [= 118].

[97] See Döllinger, “Die Reformation,” 1, p. 162.

[98] _Ibid._, p. 165.

[99] See Döllinger, “Die Reformation,” 1², p. 586 f. Cp. 169 ff., 1, p.
xv. Also J. Schlecht, “K. Leib’s Briefwechsel und Diarien,” Münster,
1909, p. 12.

[100] Friedr. Roth, “Wilh. Pirkheimer,” Halle, 1887 (Schriften des
Vereins für Reformationsgesch., v. 4). The author says, Pirkheimer’s
final opinion on Lutheranism is summed up in the words: “God keep all
pious men, countries and peoples from such teaching, for where it is
there is no peace, quiet or unity.” Though Pirkheimer confessed “with
energy that he was once more a member of the olden Catholic Church,”
he nevertheless remained as much a Humanist as a Catholic as he had
been as a Protestant. Yet that he still saw some good in Luther’s cause
is clear from what Melanchthon writes of him as late as April, 1530.
“_Fuimus apud Pirchamerum hodie, ego et Ionas, qui de te et causa
honorifice sentit._” To Luther, April 28, 1530, “Briefwechsel Luthers,”
7, p. 310. P. Drews, “Pirkheimers Stellung zur Reformation,” Leipzig,
1887, is more sceptical regarding his return to Catholicism, though he
brings forward no definite proofs to the contrary. He himself mentions
how Cochlæus, in a letter of March 10, 1529, invited Pirkheimer
(“Pirkheimer Opp.,” ed. Goldast, p. 396) to write a satire in verse on
Luther after the model of his own “_Lutherus septiceps_.”

[101] Döllinger, _ibid._, p. 168.

[102] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 26, p. 514.

[103] His father Albert came from Eptas in Hungary; he was a goldsmith.

[104] A. Dürer’s “Schriftlicher Nachlass,” ed. Lange and Fuchse, 1893,
p. 161 ff.

[105] A. Dürer’s “Schriftlicher Nachlass,” ed. Lange and Fuchse, 1893,
p. 161 ff.

[106] On his adhesion to Protestantism, see M. Zucker, “Albrecht
Dürer,” 1900, chap. xvi., and Lange in the “Grenzbote,” vol. lv. 1,
with reasons which are, however, open to criticism. E. Heidrich (“Dürer
und die Reformation,” 1909) makes Dürer die a Lutheran. For his final
profession of Catholicism see more particularly Ant. Weber, “Albrecht
Dürer,” 3rd ed., 1903. Cp. “Hochland,” 3, 2, 1906, p. 206 ff. W. Köhler
remarks in the “Theol. Jahresbericht,” 1908, vol. xxviii., p. 244:
“Dürer was more a follower of Erasmus than a Lutheran.” See also G.
Stuhlfauth in the “Deutsch-evangel. Blätter,” 1907, p. 835 ff., and
“Histor. Jahrb.,” 1910, p. 456 ff.

[107] April or May, 1528, “Briefwechsel,” 6, p. 255.

[108] Enders, _ibid._, p. 257, n. 3.

[109] Hagelstange, in “Hochland,” 1906, p. 314.

[110] “Bulla contra errores M. Lutheri,” Romæ, 1520. Printed also
in “Bullar. Rom.,” ed. Taurin., 5, p. 748 _seq._, and in Raynaldus,
“Annales,” a. 1520, n. 51; and with a bitter commentary by Luther, in
“Opp. Lat. var.,” 4, p. 264 _seq._

[111] K. Müller, in “Zeitschr. für Kirchengesch.,” 24, 1903, p. 46 ff.
A. Schulte, in “Quellen und Forschungen aus italienischen Archiven und
Bibliotheken,” 6, 1903, p. 32 ff., 174 ff. P. Kalkoff, “Zu Luthers
römischem Prozess,” in “Zeitschr. für Kirchengesch.,” 31, 1910, p.
372 ff.; 32, 1911, p. 1 ff.; p. 199 ff., 408 ff., 572 ff.; 33, 1912,
p. 1 ff. He deals fully with the part taken by the Dominicans in the
Indulgence controversy. Kalkoff’s researches have since been published
apart (“Zu Luthers römischem Prozess,” Gotha, 1912). A good general
view of the question in Pastor, “Hist. of the Popes,” Engl. Trans., 7,
p. 361 ff.

[112] P. Kalkoff, “Forschungen,” etc., p. 133.

[113] Schulte, “Quellen und Forschungen,” see above p. 45, n. 2, p. 35.
The statement of K. Müller that from the very outset there had been a
difficulty in proving Luther’s writing, rests, as Schulte shows (p.
43), merely on a misapprehended passage in one of the letters of the
Venetian Orator at Rome.

[114] Schulte, “Quellen und Forschungen,” p. 45.

[115] In Schulte (_ibid._, p. 49) this circumstance, on which theology
must necessarily lay great stress, is passed over. Not all Luther’s
propositions were branded as “heretical.”

[116] Kalkoff, “Forschungen,” p. 543 ff.

[117] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 576 ff.; Erl. ed., 24², p. 17 ff.

[118] _Ibid._, p. 595 ff. [38 f.]. “Opp. Lat. var.,” 5, p. 132 _seq._

[119] _Ibid._, p. 603; “Opp. Lat. var.,” 5, p. 142.

[120] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 24², p. 46.

[121] _Ibid._, p. 41.

[122] For the accounts of the burning, see M. Perlbach and J. Luther,
“Ein neuer Bericht über Luthers Verbrennung der Bannbulle” (“SB. der
preuss. Akad. der Wissenschaft.,” and also apart), Berlin, 1907, and
Kawerau, in “Theol. Studien,” 1908, p. 587. Luther’s words, quoted
in the new account, run as follows: “_Quia tu conturbasti veritatem
Dei, conturbat et te hodie in ignem istum_ (instead of ‘_igni isto_’).
_Amen_”; whereupon all those present answered, “_Amen_.” The form
given before this ran: “_Quia tu conturbasti sanctum Dei, ideoque te
conturbet ignis æternus_.” Were this correct, “_sanctum Dei_” would
refer to Christ as the “Holy One of God,” according to the biblical
expression, but we should scarcely be justified in taking it to mean
Luther himself, as some Catholics have done, as though he had arrogated
to himself this title. With regard to the books burnt, see also
Luther’s letter to Spalatin, on December 10, 1520, “Briefwechsel,” 3,
p. 18. On Thomas and Scotus see the source quoted above.

[123] On February 17, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 87. For the printed
verses, Enders, like Köstlin, refers to Selneccer, “Vita Lutheri,”
Witteb., 1687, p. 133.

[124] To Conrad Pellican, at the end of February, 1521, “Briefwechsel,”
3, p. 93.

[125] On February 9, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 83.

[126] He praises the Prince, saying that he walks “_prudenter,
fideliter_,” and “_constanter_.” Cp. above p. 8.

[127] January 14, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 70

[128] Both sentences, _ibid._

[129] Above, p. 49. Epitome of Prierias with Preface and Postscript
(Latin). “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 347. The commencement of the passage
is quoted above, p. 13.

[130] On the falsification of Luther’s works in the early editions, see
G. Arnold, “Unpartheyische Kirchen-und Ketzerhistorie,” 2, 1727, p. 419
ff.; Paulus, “Protestantismus und Toleranz im 16. Jahrh.,”

[131] To Spalatin at Worms, January 16, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 73.

[132] In the same month he wrote to Hutten to the same effect: “_Nollem
vi et cæde pro evangelio certari_.” The letter, however, did not reach
its destination. Enders, 3, p. 74, n. 8.

[133] Letter to Spalatin in Worms, February 27, 1521, “Briefwechsel,”
3, p. 90: The wrath of the Papists was being stayed by a Divine decree.

[134] See volume i., p. 359. H. Preuss, “Die Vorstellungen vom
Antichrist im Mittelalter,” 1909, gives instances of writers who
anticipated Luther in seeing Antichrist in the Pope. He looks upon
Luther’s controversial writings on the subject of Antichrist as
justified. “All Lutheran Christendom at the Reformation period,”
according to him, shared “its master’s” views and expectation of the
approaching end of the world (p. 196); he thinks it quite in order that
the article regarding Antichrist “should have been incorporated in the
Lutheran Confession of Faith” (p. 181).

[135] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 698 ff.

[136] _Ibid._, 11, p. 357-373; Erl. ed., 29, p. 1-16.

[137] To Staupitz in Salzburg, February 9, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p.
85: “_Princeps noster, cuius iussu assertiones istas utraque lingua

[138] Reprinted “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 284 ff.; Erl. ed., 24², p.
206 ff.

[139] “Widder die Bullen des Endchrists,” “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p.
616; Erl. ed., 24², p. 40.

[140] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 395, where this contradiction is pointed

[141] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 297 f.; Erl. ed., 24², p. 212.

[142] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 297; Erl. ed., 24, p. 212.

[143] Janssen-Pastor, “Gesch. des deutschen Volkes,” 2^[18], p. 165.
“Hist. of the German People,” Engl. Trans., 3, p. 178.

[144] Letter to Spalatin, April 14, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 121.
“Tischreden,” “Werke,” Erl. ed., 62, p. 75.

[145] Spalatin’s “Annals,” ed. Cyprian, 1718, p. 38. Cp. Enders,
“Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 122, n. 5; “Tischreden,” “Werke,” Erl. ed., 62,
p. 75.

[146] Janssen-Pastor, 2^[18], p. 174, Engl. Trans., 3, 189.

[147] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 16², p. 249 ff.

[148] Janssen-Pastor, 2^[18], p. 175, Engl. Trans., 3, 190.

[149] _Ibid._, Enders, p. 156, n. 4.

[150] Previous to May 12, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 147.

[151] About the middle of May, 1521, _ibid._, p. 158.

[152] “Ratzebergers Geschichte,” ed. Neudecker, p. 30.

[153] Janssen-Pastor, 2, p. 177, n. 3. According to the evidence of an
eye-witness, Sixtus Œlhafen.

[154] The report of the whole proceedings at Worms relating to Luther
has been collected in volume ii. of the German “Reichstagsakten,”
new series, 1896, ed. A. Wrede; see particularly Sections VII.
(Negotiations with Luther, etc.) and XI. (Correspondence, with
Aleander’s reports). Cp. H. v. Schubert, “Quellen und Forschungen über
Luther auf dem Reichstage zu Worms,” 1899.

[155] See below, p. 75 f.

[156] In Luther’s “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 124. The translation of
“_Equidem atrocissima omnia concipio_,” by “I will dare even the
worst,” is wrong, and the above, “My fancy paints things black,”
i.e. Luther’s treatment at the Diet, is better. Cp. S. Merkle, “
Reformations-geschichtl. Streitfragen,” 1904, p. 56 ff.

[157] “Luthers Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 126.

[158] On May 1, 1521, Janssen-Pastor, p. 184, from Böcking’s edition of
Hutten’s works, 2, p. 59 ff.

[159] Janssen-Pastor, pp. 178, 184 f. The placard was known before,
but a new rendering is found in the Mayence “Katholik,” 1902, vol.
lxxxii., p. 96, from a letter-Codex of the sixteenth century belonging
to the Hamburg city library, No. 469. We give J. Beyl’s translation:
“This protest against Luther’s condemnation is nailed to the Mint [at
Worms]. Whereas we, to the number of IIC simple-minded sworn noblemen
have agreed and pledged ourselves not to forsake that just man Luther,
we hereby advise the Princes, gentlemen, Romanists, and, above all,
the Bishop of Mayence, of our inveterate enmity, because honour and
righteous justice have been oppressed by them; we do not mention other
names [of those threatened] or describe the deeds of violence against
the parsons and their supporters. Bundschuh.” The numbers given vary,
and IIC is perhaps a mistake of the copyist of the illegible placard.
See “Freie Bayer. Schulzeitung,” 1911, No. 6; but cp. also, Kalkoff,
“Reformationsgesch.,” 1911, p. 361 ff.

[160] Spalatin’s “Annales,” p. 50.

[161] To Spalatin, May 14, 1521, from the Wartburg, “Briefwechsel,” 3,
p. 154.

[162] _Ibid._, p. 153.

[163] Thus Aleander, in the passage quoted below. Janssen-Pastor, p.

[164] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 75 (“Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 168).

[165] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 175 ff.; “Opp. Lat. var.,” 6, p.
385 (“Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 433).

[166] _Ibid._, Erl. ed., 58, p. 412 f. (“Table-Talk”).

[167] _Ibid._, 63, p. 276.

[168] _Ibid._, Weim. ed., 7, p. 825 ff.

[169] Cp. Thomas Morus, “_Responsio ad convitia Lutheri_” (“Opp.”
Lovanii, 1566), p. 60.

[170] Cordatus, “Tagebuch,” p. 474 f.

[171] “Reichstagsakten,” 2, p. 825, n. 1. Balan, “Monumenta reform.
Luth.” (1883 _seq._), p. 85. J. Paquier, “Jérôme Aléandre,” Paris,
1900, p. 243.

[172] Paquier, p. 242.

[173] Letter to Hartmuth von Cronberg, a friend of Sickingen (middle
of March, 1522). “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 125. (“Briefwechsel,” 3, p.

[174] _Ibid._, p. 126 f.

[175] Kolde, “Luther,” 1, p. 349.

[176] “Lehrbuch der Dogmengesch.,” 3^[4], 1910, p. 810 f.

[177] “Gesch. des gelehrten Unterrichts vom Ausgang des MA. bis zur
Gegenwart,” 1², 1896, p. 213 f.

[178] _Ibid._, p. 173.

[179] “Gesch. des gelehrten Unterrichts vom Ausgang des MA. bis zur
Gegenwart,” 1², 1896, p. 212 f.

[180] Thus A. Wrede, who, in his edition of the “Deutsche
Reichstagsakten unter Karl V,” 2, p. 555, has dealt anew with the
question. Cp. N. Paulus, “Kölnische Volksztg.,” 1903, No. 320.

[181] Thus Karl Müller, who treats the subject exhaustively in
“Luthers Schlussworte in Worms, 1521,” in “Philotesia,” dedicated to
P. Kleinert, Berlin, 1907, pp. 269, 289. Cp. the review by N. Paulus,
“Kölnische Volksztg.,” 1908, No. 1000.

[182] “Die Depeschen des Nuntius Aleander vom Wormser Reichstag,” 1897,
p. 174, n. 2.

[183] “Luther im Lichte der neueren Forschung²,” p. 25.

[184] “Schriften des Vereins für Reformationsgesch.,” No. 100, p. 26.

[185] Cp. above, p. 62, n. 2, the quotation from the “Table-Talk.”

[186] The Frankfort delegate, in Janssen-Pastor, “Hist. of the German
People,” Engl. Trans., 3, p. 191.

[187] Cordatus, “Tagebuch,” p. 474.

[188] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, pp. 409, 771.

[189] In the Diary of Marino Sanuto, “R. deputaz. Veneta di Storia
Patria,” t. 30, Venezia, 1891, 212. At the end of the passage Denifle
(in “Luther,” 1², p. 589, n. 1) proposed that “_impudentiam_” should
be read in place of “_imprudentiam_” (i.e. “impudenza” in place of
“imprudenza”), as the want of “prudence” had already been blamed. When
Contarini speaks of Luther as “assai incontinente,” the “incontinence”
is that of temper.

[190] Janssen-Pastor, “Hist. of the German People,” Engl. Trans., 3,

[191] Cp. Kalkoff, “Depeschen,”² p. 169, n. 1; p. 172, n. 1.

[192] Passages in Brieger, “Aleander und Luther,” 1884, p. 170. Cp.
Kalkoff, “Depeschen,” p. 170. Balan, “Monumenta reform. Lutheranæ,” pp.
109, 205.

[193] Preface to the tract, “On the abuse of the Mass,” indited as a
letter to the Wittenberg Augustinians, Latin Works, Weim. ed., 8, p.
411 _seq._ “Opp. Lat. var.,” 6, p. 116. Cp. “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 243.

[194] In the Latin text, _ibid._, p. 412 = 116.

[195] To Melanchthon, May 12, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 148.

[196] To Spalatin, September 9, 1521, _ibid._, p. 229.

[197] Cp. letter to Melanchthon of May 12, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p.

[198] Ratzeberger, “Gesch.,” ed. Neudecker, p. 54.

[199] On July 13, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 189.

[200] To his intimate friend Johann Lang, December 18, 1521, _ibid._,
p. 256.

[201] On November 1, 1521, _ibid._, p. 240.

[202] _Ibid._, p. 241.

[203] On August 15, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 218.

[204] On August 3, 1521, _ibid._, p. 213. The above is the real
translation of the words made use of, “_quantis urgear æstibus_,”
according to the context.

[205] On September 9, 1521, _ibid._, 3, p. 224.

[206] “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 247.

[207] The Latin work will be found in Weim. ed., 8, p. 564 ff.; in Erl.
ed., “Opp. Lat. var.,” 6, p. 234 _seq._ The MS. was sent to Spalatin on
November 22, and was published at the end of February, 1522. Denifle
has carefully analysed the contents and pointed out the fallacies
contained in the book and certain other things not at all to Luther’s
credit. See “Luther und Luthertum,” 1², pp. 29, 348. Cp. N. Paulus,
“Zu Luthers Scrift über die Mönchsgelübde” (“Hist. Jahrb.,” 27, 1906,
pp. 487, 517), an article rich in matter, called forth by O. Scheel’s
attack on Denifle. Paulus therein shows once more that Luther was
wrong in ascribing to the Church the teaching that perfection is to be
attained only in the religious state, and by the observance of vows
(cp. present work, vol. iv., xxiv. 4), or in claiming that the Church
has a “twofold ideal of life,” and conception of religion, a lower one
for the laity and a higher one for religious (p. 496 ff.). He proves,
at length, the falsehood of the view cherished among Protestants, in
spite of Denifle’s refutation, that all, or nearly all, entered the
religious life in order to obtain justification (p. 506 ff.), and
fully explains the late mediæval expression which compares religious
profession to Baptism (p. 510 ff.).

[208] Caspar Schatzgeyer, in a polemic against Luther wrote: “One is
almost tempted to think that this book, so brimful of ire, was written
by a drunken man, or by the infernal spirit himself” (“Replica” [sine
loc. et an.], Augsburg, 1522, fol. E1). The opinion of the Paris
theologian, Jodocus Clichtoveus (“Antilutherus,” Parisiis, 1524, fol.
124´), was very similar. As for Johann Dietenberger, he declared
that the book bristled with lies, calumnies, and insults (“De votis
monasticis,” lib. secundus, Colon., 1524, fol. T5´).

[209] “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 225.

[210] Sermon of 1537, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 44, p. 148: “I have myself had
it [the gift of chastity], although with many evil thoughts and dreams.”

[211] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 1, 1, p. 708; Erl. 102, p. 464.

[212] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 1, 1, p. 708; Erl. ed., 10², p. 464.

[213] “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 154: “_Otiosus et crapulosus_.”

[214] On February 20, 1519, “Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 431: “_Homo expositus

[215] Cp. Paul de Lagarde, “Mitteilungen,” 3, Göttingen, 1889, p. 336.

[216] “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 208. Cp. K. Müller, “Luther und Karlstadt,”
1907, p. 5 ff.

[217] Dedication of the German edition, 1522. “Werke,” Weim. ed., 8, p.
482; Erl. ed., 53, p. 93. The work in Latin in “Werke,” Weim. ed., 8,
p. 398 ff. German, _ibid._, p. 477 ff, and in Erl. ed., 28, p. 28. The
German dedication agrees with the Latin. See above, p. 80, n. 1.

[218] “Werke,” Weim. ed., p. 483; Erl. ed., 28, p. 30.

[219] _Ibid._, p. 488 = 36.

[220] _Ibid._, p. 488 f. = 37 f.

[221] “Werke,” Weim. ed., p. 510 = 68.

[222] _Ibid._, p. 538, 539, 540 = 106, 107, 109.

[223] _Ibid._, p. 549 = 121.

[224] Cp. volume iv., xxvii.

[225] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 8, pp. 559, 560; Erl. ed., 28, pp. 135, 137.

[226] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 8, p. 561 = 138.

[227] _Ibid._, p. 562 = 139 f.

[228] On March 5, 1522, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 106 (“Briefwechsel,”
3, p. 296).

[229] In Lauterbach’s “Tagebuch,” p. 62, n. (from Khummer’s Notes).

[230] To Jodocus Trutfetter, Professor at Erfurt, May 9, 1518,
“Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 188: “_Uno ore dicunt, sese prius non novisse nec
audivisse Christum et Evangelium_,” etc.

[231] To Sylvius Egranus, preacher at Zwickau, March 24, 1518,
“Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 173.

[232] To Spalatin, January 18, 1518, “Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 142.

[233] See vol. i., p. 369, n. 1.

[234] “_Carnis meæ indomitæ uror magnis ignibus_,” in the letter
to Melanchthon, July 13, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 189, where he
also employs the expression, “_tentationes carnis_.” In a letter
to Staupitz, February 20, 1519, “Briefwechsel,” 1, p. 431: “_Homo
sum expositus et involutus societati_, _crapulæ_, _titillationi_,
_negligentiæ aliisque molestiis_.” “_Titillatio_” is generally used
by Luther for sensual temptation, e.g. in the Commentary on Romans
(“Schol. Rom.,” p. 133): “_Luxuriosus, dum titillatio venit_,” etc.;
also in the tract on the Ten Commandments, “Werke,” Weim. ed., 1,
pp. 485, 491, 497. In the German version he translates the word by
“Kitzel”; see, for instance, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 34, p. 139.

[235] See references below, xiii. 4. The “_molestiæ_” in the passage
from the letter to Staupitz (see previous note) are probably of the
same character.

[236] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 59, p. 341.

[237] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, 440, 773.

[238] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, 440, 773

[239] C. F. Jäger, “Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt,” 1856, p. 273.
Cp. H. Barge, “Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt,” 1, 1905, p. 355 ff.

[240] Karl Müller, “Gemeinde und Obrigkeit nach Luther,” 1910, p. 29.

[241] _Idem_, “Luther und Karlstadt,” 1907, p. 15.

[242] On January 13, 1522, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 271 f. Cp. K. Müller,
“Luther und Karlstadt,” p. 218.

[243] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 3, p. 8; Erl. ed., 28, p. 211 f.

[244] _Ibid._, p. 8 = 212.

[245] Barge, “Karlstadt,” 1, p. 405; cp. 402 f.

[246] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 8, p. 670 ff.; Erl. ed., 22, p. 43 ff.

[247] _Ibid._, 10, 2, p. 93 ff. = 28, p. 141 ff.

[248] _Ibid._, p. 111 = 148 f.

[249] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 8, p. 140 = 178. It has been asserted,
strangely enough, that these words were spoken by Luther
hypothetically, i.e. in the event of the Romanists refusing to be
converted, and that the word he uses, and which we have rendered as
“destroying,” really means something slightly less drastic.

[250] H. Hermelink, “Zu Luthers Gedanken über Idealgemeinden und von
weltlicher Obrigkeit,” in “Zeitschr. für Kirchengesch.,” 29, 1908, p.
489; cp. p. 479 ff.

[251] H. Preuss, “Die Vorstellungen vom Antichrist,” 1906, p. 146.

[252] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 10², p. 69: “Der jüngste Tag, welchen sie [die
Constellation] gewisslich bedeutet.”

[253] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 111 (“Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 298).

[254] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 8, p. 683, in the “True Admonition,”
published early in December, 1521.

[255] Karl Müller, “Kirche, Gemeinde und Obrigkeit nach Luther,” p. 84.

[256] Cp. K. Müller, _ibid._, and the authors quoted in the
above-mentioned studies of P. Drews and H. Hermelink.

[257] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 8, pp. 683, 678.

[258] Hermelink (p. 297). He thinks the “states of excitement may be
easily accounted for.”

[259] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 8, p. 680.

[260] Hermelink, p. 488; cp. p. 322.

[261] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 11, p. 251 ff.; Erl. ed., 22, p. 68: “The
spiritual government which makes people Christians and holy,” etc.

[262] “Kirchenrecht,” 1892, pp. 528, 633 f.

[263] Hermelink, p. 322.

[264] Cp. Luther’s Memorandum for the Town Council of Altenburg (April
28, 1522), “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 347 ff. “For Scripture does not give
to a council but to each individual Christian the authority to decide
on doctrine and discern the wolves,” etc.

[265] Hermelink, p. 309.

[266] “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 349.

[267] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 721.

[268] _Ibid._, p. 720.

[269] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, 10, 2, p. 33.

[270] Cp. the addresses, “To the Christians at Wittenberg,” “To the
Christians at Augsburg,” and similar ones to those at Dorpat, in
Flanders, in Holland, in Livonia, at Miltenberg, at Reval, at Riga, at
Worms, at Antwerp, at Bremen, at Reutlingen, at Strasburg, etc.

[271] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 8, p. 685.

[272] Hermelink, p. 298.

[273] In this Confession we read that in their teaching there was
nothing, “_Quod discrepet a scripturis vel ab ecclesia catholica
vel ab ecclesia romana, quatenus ex scriptoribus nota est_.” “Corp.
Ref.,” 26, p. 290. So runs the address presented to the Emperor, which
Melanchthon afterwards toned down in the 2nd edition. Cp. Kolde, “Die
Confessio Augustana,” p. 11. Kawerau (Möller’s “Kirchengeschichte,”
3, vol. iii., 1907, p. 108) also quotes the Protestant declaration of
1546 (“Corp. Ref.,” 6, p. 35): “_Nostri affirmant ... confessionis
Augustanæ doctrinam ... esse consensum catholicæ ecclesiæ Dei_,” and
the Wittenberg Ordination-papers that the person in question “_tenet
puram doctrinam evangelii quam catholica ecclesia Christi profitetur
et nos in ecclesia nostra docemus_” (“Luthers Briefwechsel,” 11, 278;
October 7, 1537).

[274] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 2, pp. 140, 143, 144, 139, 110.

[275] Hermelink, p. 302.

[276] K. Müller, “Kirche, Gemeinde und Obrigkeit nach Luther,” p.
33, n. 3, where stress is rightly laid on the testimony of Sebastian

[277] Cp. Müller, _ibid._, p. 34.

[278] See below, xiv. 5, and vol. iv., xxviii. 6.

[279] “_De instituendis ministris ecclesiæ, senatui populoque
Pragensi_,” 1523. “Werke,” Weim. ed., 12, p. 194 f.; “Opp. Lat. var.,”
6, p. 530 _seq._ It follows from the context of the passage quoted
above that Luther’s assurance is intended to be their guarantee that
they are acting in God’s name, and are not themselves taking the
initiative, but submitting to be led. Cp. letter to the Bohemian
Estates (1522), Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 172 ff.; Erl. ed., 53, p. 144 ff.

[280] Paul Drews (“Entsprach das Staatskirchentum dem Ideale Luthers?”
p. 36), in the examination of the instruction mentioned in the previous

[281] Thus Hermelink (p. 483), though he does not find the
congregational principle so decidedly expressed in Luther’s writings as
Drews does. Luther’s statements in the years 1522-1525 concerning the
establishment of new congregations are certainly not at all clear, as
Karl Müller admits (“Luther und Karlstadt,” “Luthers Gedanken über den
Aufbau der neuen Gemeinden,” p. 121). Cp. concerning the existence of
Luther’s congregational ideal, “Kirche, Gemeinde,” usw., p. 40 ff.

[282] Above, p. 111, n. 2. The writing is addressed to the Council and
the inhabitants collectively (“_senatus populusque_”). Yet in certain
passages the Council alone is addressed.

[283] In the Preface: “_Nequaquam esse possum autor quidquam tentandi,
nisi per consilium et exhortationem_.”

[284] The title of the work describes it well: “The Scriptural ground
and reason why a Christian congregation or assembly has the right and
power to pass judgment on all doctrines, to call, appoint, or remove
pastors,” 1523. “Werke,” Weim. ed., 11, p. 401 ff.; Erl. ed., 22, p.
140 ff.

[285] _Ibid._, p. 412 = 147.

[286] _Ibid._

[287] _Ibid._, pp. 412, 413, 414 = 147, 148, 149.

[288] _Ibid._, p. 408 = 142.

[289] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 11, p. 415 f. = 151.

[290] _Ibid._, p. 410 = 145.

[291] _Ibid._, p. 409 f. = 143 f.

[292] _Ibid._, p. 408 f. = 142.

[293] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 228 = 28, p. 346, in his reply to
King Henry VIII “of Engelland” (1522).

[294] To Melanchthon, January 13, 1522, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 272 f.:
“_Veniam ad prophetas.... Explores etiam, num experti sint spirituales
illas angustias et nativitates divinas, mortes infernosque_.”

[295] _Ibid._, 3, p. 273.

[296] To Wolfgang Reissenbusch, Preceptor at Lichtenberg, “Werke,”
Weim. ed., 18, p.. 270-9; Erl. ed., 53, p. 286 ff. (“Briefwechsel,” 5,
p. 145).

[297] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 300; Erl. ed., 16², p. 537 f.

[298] _Ibid._, p. 302 = 539.

[299] In the letter to Reissenbusch; see above, p. 116, n. 1.

[300] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 127; Erl. ed., 28, p. 165. Against
the clerical state falsely so called.

[301] _Ibid._, p. 130 = 165 _seq._

[302] _Ibid._, p. 279 = 16², p. 514 f. “Sermon on the married life,”

[303] _Ibid._, 10, 1, 1, pp. 693, 708 = 12, p. 451, 465, “Postils.”

[304] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 21, p. 71.

[305] Letter of April or June, 1540, to the Elector of Saxony, quoted
by J. K. Seidemann in “Lauterbachs Tagebuch,” 1872, p. 198.

[306] See below.

[307] Cp. Enders, “Briefwechsel Luthers,” 4, p. 266 f.

[308] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 556.

[309] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 61, p. 262 (“Tischreden”). Cp. “Colloq.,” ed.
Bindseil, 2, pp. 315, 364; 3, p. 149.

[310] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 61, p. 262.

[311] “Colloq.,” ed. Bindseil, 2, p. 315.

[312] To Johann Lang at Erfurt, March 28, 1522, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p.
323 _seq._

[313] _Ibid._, p. 323.

[314] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 21, p. 26 ff.

[315] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 35; Erl. ed., 28, p. 311, in the
tract “Concerning the Sacrament under both kinds.”

[316] Mathesius, “Historien,” 1566, 11. Sermon 136´.

[317] “Lauterbachs Tagebuch,” p. 13.

[318] Mathesius, “Tischreden,” ed. Kroker, p. 72 f.

[319] Kampschulte, “Universität Erfurt,” 2, p. 173, quoted from a
publication which is not by the Erfurt preacher Mechler, as he thinks,
but by Eberlin. Cp. N. Paulus in Janssen, 2^[18], p. 240, n. 3.

[320] “Helii Eobani Hessi et amicorum ipsius epistolarum familiarium
libri 12,” Marpurgi, 1543, p. 87. Phyllis, the beloved of Demophon,
became the type of sensual passion.

[321] _Ibid._, p. 90. For date see Oergel, “Beiträge zur Gesch. des
Erfurter Humanismus,” in “Mitt. des Vereins für die Gesch. von Erfurt,”
part 15, 1892, p. 107.

[322] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 263 (“Briefwechsel,” 4, p. 372, July,
1524): “I know that we ... as St. Paul says, Romans viii. 23, have the
first fruits of the Spirit, _primitias spiritus_, although we have not
yet received the fulness of the Spirit.”

[323] Letter to W. Pirkheimer, 1528, “Opp.,” Lugduni Batavorum, 1702
_seq._, t. 3, p. 1139.

[324] “Opp.,” 3, p. 1030. Döllinger, “Die Reformation,” 1, p. 12.

[325] _Ibid._, 10, p. 1578 _seq._ Döllinger, p. 15.

[326] “Clag etlicher Brüder,” etc., ed. Enders (“Neudrucke deutscher
Literaturwerke,” No. 118, 1893), p. 48.

[327] “Clag etlicher Brüder” (above, p. 126, n. 5), p. 47.

[328] “Wider die falsch scheynende, usw.” No place, 1524. A³b. A^[4]ab.
In N. Paulus, “Johann Wild” (“3. Vereinsschrift der Görresgesellschaft
für 1893”), p. 3 f.

[329] See below, p. 134, n. 4, and p. 163.

[330] Clag (above, p. 126, n. 5), p. 48.

[331] _Ibid._

[332] “Hochverursachte Schutzrede und Antwort wider das geistlose
sanftlebende Fleisch zu Wittenberg,” ed. Enders (see above, p. 126, n.
5), p. 29 ff.

[333] “Hochverursachte Schutzrede und Antwort wider das geistlose
sanftlebende Fleisch zu Wittenberg,” ed. Enders, p. 31.

[334] _Ibid._, p. 30.

[335] In an anonymous review, important on account of its original
matter, of Burkhardt’s “Briefwechsel Luthers” (“Augsburger Allgemeine
Zeitung,” 1867, Beilage, No. 18). Unfortunately, the learned expert,
who takes Luther’s part, does not mention the source whence the above
passage is taken. It appears to occur in some unprinted MS.

[336] To Spalatin, “Briefwechsel,” 4, p. 278: “_Quod scortis, aleis,
tabernis vacarem.... Mendaciis satis sum assuetus_.”

[337] “_Summa sententia erat, scortatorem eum esse et compotorem,
qualibus viciis fere laborarent Germani._” “Archiv für
Reformationsgesch.”, 3, 1905, p. 79.

[338] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 15, p. 774.

[339] To Spalatin, August 15, 1521, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 218: “_Orbis
theatrum sumus_,” etc. Cp. 1 Corinthians iv. 9: “_Spectaculum facti
sumus mundo et angelis et hominibus_.”

[340] To Amsdorf, February 12, 1542, “Briefe,” ed. De Wette, 5, p. 434.

[341] Mathesius, “Tischreden,” p. 185.

[342] “Historien,” 1566, p. 154. Cp. “Lauterbachs Tagebuch,” p. 121,
and “Colloq.,” ed. Bindseil, 1, p. 420.

[343] “Auff des Bocks zu Leypczick Antwort,” “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7,
pp. 273, 275; Erl. ed., 27, pp. 208, 210, 211. For the manner in which
his pupils at Wittenberg praised him, see below, p. 157 f. Erasmus’s
eulogy on his manner of life is also an echo from the circle of his
enthusiastic friends; see xiv. 3.

[344] “Opus adv. nova quædam et a christiana religione prorsus aliena
dogmata M. Lutheri,” Romæ, Q 3a. R 2b.: “_Ponis cervicalia sub capita
eorum, qui stertunt_,” etc.

[345] Letter of May 24, 1523, “Briefwechsel,” 4, p. 144; Gal. iii. 3.

[346] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 559. See the text in the work mentioned,
p. 137, n. 1.

[347] See proofs given in the “Katholik,” 1892, 2, p. 421 f., in the
article by P. A. Kirsch.

[348] Cp. E. Kroker, “Katharina v. Bora,” Leipzig, 1906, p. 36 f.,
where the legends are ably criticised.

[349] In the writing, “Ursach und Anttwortt das Jungkfrawen Kloster
gottlich verlassen mugen,” which Luther sent on April 10, 1523, in the
form of a circular letter to Leonard Koppe. “Werke,” Weim. ed., 11, p.
394 ff.; Erl. ed., 29, p. 33 (“Briefwechsel,” 4, p. 132).

[350] Kolde, “Analecta Luth.,” p. 443.

[351] On June 24, 1523, “Briefwechsel,” 4, p. 169.

[352] To Johann Œcolampadius, June 20, 1523, _ibid._, p. 164:
“_Moniales et monachi egressi mihi multas horas furantur, ut omnium
necessitati serviam_.”

[353] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 560.

[354] “Briefwechsel,” 4, p. 177 f.

[355] To Spalatin, September 19, 1523, _ibid._, p. 233.

[356] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 728 ff.

[357] To Spalatin, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 77.

[358] On April 16, 1525, _ibid._, p. 157.

[359] June 2, 1525, “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 402 ff.; Erl. ed., 53,
p. 308 ff. (“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 186). Albert made no reply. On June
2, the very same day, the peasants were victorious at Königshofen.

[360] Letter of June 3, 1525, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 313
(“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 189).

[361] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 11, p. 400; Erl. ed., 29, p. 41, in “Ursach
und Anttwortt das Jungkfrawen Kloster gottlich verlassen mugen.”

[362] _Ibid._, 10, 1, p. 692; Erl. ed., 10², p. 450, in the Tract
against the state of chastity, embodied in the “Postils.”

[363] “Luther und seine Gegner, Vortrag,” 1903, p. 14. Here it is true
the cynicism is regarded as an “expression of his moral annoyance” with
the supporters of celibacy, who themselves led immoral lives.

[364] On March 8, 1523, “Briefwechsel,” 4, p. 96.

[365] “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 123, on Jonas and his writing materials
(“_schedas natales, hoc est de natibus purgatis_”).

[366] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 93; Erl. ed., 29, p. 169. According to
these foes of his, it is, he says, “die rechten evangelischen Prediger,
die der Braut von Orlamünde das Hembd und dem Bräutigam zu Naschhausen
die Hosen ausziehen.” _Ibid._, p. 84 = 160: “Wie aber, wenn Braut und
Bräutigam so züchtig wären, und behielten Hembd und Rock an? Es solle
freilich nicht fast hindern, wenn sie sonst Lust zusammen hätten.” Cp.
Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 681.

[367] The explanation is Köstlin’s, and is retained in the most recent
edition by Kawerau, 1, p. 736.

[368] See the whole Greek letter below, p. 176. The passage _αἱ μοναχαὶ
πάσῃ ἐμηχαν πιβουλευομέναι προσέσπασαν αὐτόν_, according to our
opinion, conveys the sense attributed to it above. Cp. Köstlin-Kawerau,
1, p. 736.

[369] _Articuli sive libelli triginta_, etc., art. 17, p. 81 _seq._

[370] _Articuli sive libelli triginta_, etc., art. 17, p. 83.

[371] Conclusion of the Tract “De Purgatorio,” “Opp.,” Pars II,
Ingolst., 1531, pp. 95´, 96. Cp. volume iv., xxii.: “Luther and Lying.”

[372] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 15, p. 560 ff.

[373] See above, p. 87.

[374] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 15, p. 667.

[375] _Ibid._, pp. 431, 437.

[376] “The 7th chapter,” etc., “Werke,” Weim. ed., 12, p. 92 ff.

[377] In the dedication to Hans Loser zu Pretzsch, Hereditary Marshal
of Saxony (“Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 199).

[378] On April 10, 1519, to Amsdorf; see Enders, “Luthers
Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 16, n. 33.

[379] To Johann Lang, April 13, 1519, “Briefwechsel,” 2, p. 12.

[380] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 2, p. 162 ff.; Erl. ed., 16², p. 49 ff.,
77 ff. In the Preface we read: “There is a great difference between
bringing something to light by means of the living voice or by the dead
letter” (“Werke,” Weim. ed., 2, p. 166). Of the marriages which were
concluded secretly (see below) and which were then [previous to the
Council of Trent] regarded as valid by the Church, he says here: “After
one has secretly pledged his word to a woman and thereafter takes
another, either publicly or secretly, I do not yet know whether all
that is said and written on the subject is to be accepted or not.”

[381] “_De duplici iustitia._” Pastor Knaake remarks of the first
edition of this sermon, that it is plain “what careful notes of the
reformer’s sermons were made even then.” See “Werke,” Weim. ed., 2, p.

[382] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 290; Erl. ed., 16², p. 526. For the
explanation of the phrase, “If the wife will not, let the maid come,”
see volume iii., xvii. 6.

[383] _Ibid._, p. 280 = 515.

[384] _Ibid._, p. 309 = 537 f.

[385] _Ibid._, p. 304 = 541.

[386] “Commentaria,” etc. Magunt., 1549, p. 61: “_Fœdissime contra
naturalem pudorem loquitur de commixtione maris et fœminæ_.”

[387] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 146 ff.; Erl. ed., 28, p. 186 ff.

[388] Luther to Staupitz, repeating his words, June 27, 1522,
“Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 406.

[389] Hausrath, “Luthers Leben,” 1, p. 226.

[390] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 8, p. 704 ff.; Erl. ed., 24², p. 166 ff.

[391] “Contra Henricum regem Angliæ,” 1522. “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10,
2, p. 172 ff. “Opp. Lat. var.,” 6, p. 385 _seq._ The German edition
published by Luther later (“Werke,” Erl. ed., 28, p. 344 ff.) is

[392] “Contra Henricum,” p. 220 = 445, etc.

[393] _Ibid._, p. 184 = 391.

[394] “Schutzschrift an den Rath in Costnitz,” in L. Hundeshagen,
“Beiträge zur Kirchenverfassungsgesch.,” 1864, 1, p. 423.

[395] Röhrich, “Gesch. der Reformation im Elsass,” 1, 1855, p. 294.

[396] Barge, “Karlstadt,” 2, pp. 223, 275, 445.

[397] “Hyperaspistes,” 1, “Opp.,” ed. Basil., 9, pp. 1066, 1096. Cp.
Erasmus in “Corp. ref.,” 1, p. 689.

[398] “An den grossmechtigsten ... Adel tütscher Nation,” Strasburg,
1520 (no name), Bl. K. 1.

[399] “Adversus caninas Martini Lutheri nuptias,” Coloniæ, 1530. By
Luther’s “canine marriages,” the author does not refer to Luther’s
union with Catherine Bora, as is usually inferred, but, according to
the preface, to the numerous marriages rendered possible by Luther’s
removal of the matrimonial impediments, so that it might happen that
one man could marry ten times even in the lifetime of the ten women
concerned. Cp. N. Paulus, “Die Dominikaner im Kampfe gegen Luther,” p.

[400] N. Paulus, _ibid._ He refers to Luther’s “Correspondence,” 1, p.
20; 2, p. 362; 6, p. 280.

[401] “Philipp Melanchthon,” 1905, p. 16, 4.

[402] “Correspondence of the brothers Ambrose and Thomas Blaurer,” ed.
Schiess, 1, 1908, pp. 329, 476; Bucer to A. Blaurer, March 5, 1532, and
March 3, 1534.

[403] Wilhelm Walther, “Für Luther Wider Rom,” 1906, p. 232 ff.

[404] “Luthers Leben,” 1, 1904, Preface, pp. x., xiii.

[405] “Deutsche Literaturztng.,” 1904, col. 1613.

[406] To an anonymous correspondent, August 28, 1522, “Werke,” Erl.
ed., 53, p. 149, answering the question, “Why I replied so harshly to
the King of Engelland.” Principal reason: “My method is not one of
compromise, yielding, giving in, or leaving anything undone.” “Do not
be astonished that so many are scandalised by my writings. This is
intended to be so and must be so, that even the few may hold fast to
the Gospel.” “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 447.

[407] Cp. Luther to the Elector Johann, April 16, 1531, “Werke,”
Erl. ed., 54, p. 223 (“Briefwechsel,” 8, p. 388), concerning his two
pamphlets, “Warnunge an seine lieben Deudschen,” and “Auff das vermeint
keiserlich Edict”: “I am only sorry that [the style] is not stronger
and more violent.” The Elector will “readily perceive that my writing
is far, far, too dull and soft towards such dry bones and dead branches
[as the Papists].” But I was “neither drunk nor asleep when I wrote.”

[408] “Für Luther Wider Rom,” p. 231.

[409] “Sabbata,” St. Gallen, 1902, p. 65.

[410] Letter of Burer, March 27, 1522, in Baum, “Capito und Butzer,”
1860, p. 83, and in “Briefwechsel des Beatus Rhenanus,” ed. Horawitz
and Hartfelder, 1866, p. 303.

[411] Thomas Blaurer, in a letter to his brother Ambrose, dated
February 15, 1521, calls Luther “_Pater pientissimus_”; previously, on
January 4, he speaks of him as “_christianissimus et sapientissimus
vir_,” and extols the fact that “_omnia contempsit præter Christum;
præter Christum nihil metuit nec sperat et id tamen ita humiliter, ut
clare sentias nullos esse his fucos_.” “Correspondence of the Brothers
Blaurer,” 1, 1908, pp. 33, 29 f.

[412] Cp. vol. i., p. 279, the “Dicta Melanchthonia” on Luther’s eyes.
Catholic contemporaries called them diabolical. See _e.g._ Aleander in
Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 500.

[413] Cp. for what follows H. Böhmer, “Luther im Lichte der neueren
Forschung,”², 1910, p. 4 f. Some of the matter contained in the first
edition is omitted in the second.

[414] See Denifle-Weiss, 1², Pl. IX

[415] The latter are shown in Böhmer, p. 2. Cp. _ibid._, p. 37.

[416] None but an expert can have any idea of the “speed with which
Luther wrote. He was a born stenographer.” It should be noted “that the
haste with which he wrote is far less noticeable in the manuscripts
which have been preserved than in the writings themselves with their
countless defects. Outside a small circle there are but few to-day
who could fall under the magical influence of Luther’s writings, and
not weary of listening to the monotonous song of the ‘Wittenberg
nightingale’” (K. A. Meissinger, in a review of Ficker’s edition of
the Commentary on Romans, “Frankfurter Ztng.,” 1910, No. 300). The
expression “Wittenberg nightingale” occurs, as is well known, in a poem
by Luther’s Nuremberg admirer, Hans Sachs.

[417] “Luthers Krankengesch.,” 1881, p. 122. “Commentar ad Gal.,” 1531,
1, p. 107. In this passage quoted by Denifle, 1², p. 391, Luther speaks
of his great zeal in doing penance in the monastery, and adds a little
further on (p. 109): “So long as I was a Popish monk, _externe non
eram sicut ceteri homines, raptores, iniusti, adulteri, sed servabam
castitatem, obedientiam et paupertatem_,” which, of course, only means:
“I was a good religious.”

[418] Cordatus, “Tagebuch,” p. 38.

[419] In the interpretation of Genesis iii. 17; “Opp. Lat. exeg.,”
1, p. 263. Cp. Cordatus, “Tagebuch,” p. 38, 481, where Luther makes
use of the usual word “Franzos” for the malady. In the latter passage
Luther declares himself ready to exchange his very painful gout for
this malady, or even for the plague, were that God’s will. Hence he was
then, i.e. in his later years, free from it.

[420] German translation of the “Chronicle” in “Werke,” ed. Walch, 14;
the passage, _ibid._, p. 1277.

[421] “Analecta Lutherana,” p. 50.

[422] To Spalatin, April 25, 1523, “Briefwechsel,” 4, p. 137.

[423] Melanchthon to Hammelberg, April 29, 1523, “Corp. ref.,” 1, p.

[424] To Nic. Hausmann, “Briefwechsel,” 4, p. 144: “_Corpore satis bene

[425] See Enders in “Luthers Briefwechsel,” 4, pp. 87, 88 n.

[426] Luther sent him a copy of his “Chronicle,” above mentioned, as a
present on May 15, 1544 (Seidemann, “Lutherbriefe,” p. 68).

[427] The text in question runs as follows: “_De Helia Luthero vulgata
est apud (nos) creberrima fama morbo laborare hominem. Giengerius tamen
ex Lipsiis rediens nundinis refert foeliciter, convaluisse scilicet
Heliam, qui nos omnes mira affecit lætitia. Clamabant adversarii
pseudoregem interiisse de Sickingero gloriantes, pseudopapam autem
ægrotum propediem obiturum. Deus tamen, cuius res agitur, melius
consuluit. Apriolus tamen multa mihi ex compassione de Lutheri nostri
mala valetudine adscripsit, et inter reliqua de nimia vigilia, qua
dominus Helias molestetur. Non est mirum, hominem tot cerebri laboribus
immersum, in siccitatem cerebri incidere, unde nimia causatur vigilia.
Tu autem, qui medicum agis, non debes esse oblitus, si lac mulieris
mixtum cum oleo violato in commissuram coronalem ungatur, quam
familiariter humectet cerebrum ad somnumque disponat; et si cum hoc
dolores_ MALI FRANCIE _somno impedimento fuerint, mitigandi sunt cum
emplastro, quod fit ex medulla cervi, in qua coquuntur vermes terræ
cum modico croco et vino sublimato. Hec si dormituro apponuntur,
somnum conciliant, qui somnus maxime est necessarius ad restaurandam
sanitatem. Nam quod caret alterna requie durabile non est. Cura
nobis Lutherum propter Deum, cuius fidei me commenda et charitati.
Melanchthonis (?) notum fac Apriolumque saluta._” (From the “Cod.
Rych.” in the Wolff collection of the Hamburg Town Library, p. 560.)

[428] In a letter to Staupitz, February 20, 1519, “Briefwechsel,” 1,
p. 431, Luther complains of “_molestiæ_,” which were not physical
sufferings but the weight of his position and undertaking. In the
letter to Melanchthon, July 13, 1519, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 189, he
means by the “other _molestia_” which tormented him, the constipation
which “together with temptations of the flesh had prevented him for a
whole week from writing, praying, and studying.” Cp. “Briefwechsel,”
3, p. 171: “_Malum auctum est, quo Vormaciæ laborabam: durissima
patior excrementa, ut nunquam in vita, ut remedium desperaverim_.” To
Spalatin, June 10, 1521. Cp. above, p. 95.

[429] Above, p. 79 ff. Cp. also volume iii., xviii.

[430] “Contra Henricum,” “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 184; “Opp. Lat.
var.,” 6, p. 391.

[431] Preface to Justus Menius’s book, “Œconomia Christiana,” 1529,
“Werke,” Weim. ed., 30, 2, p. 61; Erl. ed., 63, p. 279 (“Briefwechsel,”
7, p. 73). The preface is in the shape of a letter to Hans Metzsch, the
Captain of the Wittenberg garrison, an unmarried man whom Luther urged
in vain to marry.

[432] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 15, p. 773 f.

[433] To Spalatin, March 4, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 133.

[434] _Ibid._

[435] _Ibid._, March 23, 1525, _ibid._, 5, p. 140.

[436] _Ibid._, March 12, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 138.

[437] _Ibid._, April 15, 1525, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 290,
“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 157.

[438] _Ibid._, March 27, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 147.

[439] _Ibid._

[440] _Ibid._, April 3, 1525, _ibid._, p. 152. To Amsdorf, April 11,
1525, _ibid._, p. 156.

[441] To the Christians at Antwerp, beginning of April, 1525, “Werke,”
Weim. ed., 18, p. 547; Erl. ed., 53, p. 342 (“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 151).

[442] To Spalatin, March 27, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 147.

[443] _Ibid._, March 11, 1525, _ibid._, p. 136.

[444] _Ibid._, March 27, 1525, _ibid._, p. 147.

[445] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 1², p. 19 ff. Sermon of 1533, the second in
the “Postils.”

[446] “Contra Henricum regem,” “Werke,” Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 205 f.;
“Opp. Lat. var.,” 6, p. 424.

[447] “On the two kinds of the Sacrament,” 1522, “Werke,” Weim. ed.,
10, 2, p. 35; Erl. ed., 28, p. 311.

[448] On March 12, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 138.

[449] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 63, p. 277 (“Briefwechsel,” 7, p. 73). See

[450] “_Nos afflicti satis et tentati sumus._”

[451] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, pp. 796, n. 2, 729.

[452] See above, p. 133.

[453] “Handschriftl. Gesch.,” ed. Neudecker, p. 58.

[454] G. Kawerau, “Etwas vom kranken Luther” (“Deutsch-evangelische
Blätter,” 29, 1904, p. 303 ff.), p. 305.

[455] “Handschriftl. Gesch.,” p. 59.

[456] “Briefwechsel,” 8, p. 276. Letters edited by De Wette, 4 (not 3,
as stated by the editor of Ratzeberger), p. 181.

[457] From Psalm iv. 9 ff.

[458] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 60, p. 60 (“Tischreden”).

[459] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 60, p. 61.

[460] _Ibid._, 61, p. 307.

[461] _Ibid._, p. 309.

[462] _Ibid._

[463] On November 30, 1524, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 77 (see p. 181, n.
2). Here Luther remarks that there is much gossip (“_garriri_”) about
him and his marriage.

[464] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 293 (“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 164). In
October, 1524, he speaks of Pastor Caspar Glatz as her future husband,
without mentioning his own intentions (“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 35).

[465] To Amsdorf, June 21, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 204. Cp. Enders
in “Luthers Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 195.

[466] To the Marshal Johann von Dolzigk, June 21, 1525, “Werke,”
Erl. ed., 53, p. 322 (“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 201). Cp. p. 175, n. 5,

[467] Jonas to Spalatin, June 14, 1525, in “Jonas’ Briefwechsel,” ed.
Kawerau, 1, 1884, p. 94.

[468] “Colloq.,” ed. Bindseil, 2, p. 238, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 61, p. 184.

[469] To Spalatin, April 10, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 153.

[470] See above, p. 142.

[471] To Johann Rühel, May 4, 1525, “Werke,” Erl. ed., p. 53, 294
(“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 164).

[472] To Wenceslaus Link, June 20, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 201:
“_Dominus me subito aliaque cogitantem coniecit mire in coniugium_.”

[473] Vogt, “Briefwechsel Bugenhagens,” 1888, p. 32: “_Maligna fama
effecit, ut doctor Martinus insperato fieret coniux; post aliquot tamen
dies publica solemnitate duximus istas sacras nuptias etiam coram mundo

[474] On June 16, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 197: “_Os obstruxi
infamantibus me cum Catharina Bora_.” At a much later date he excuses
the haste by his wish to anticipate the proposal of his friends that he
should select some other woman.

[475] “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 197, 198.

[476] See Amsdorf in Scultetus († 1625), “Annales Evangelii,” 1, p.

[477] V. Druffel, “Die Melanchthon-Handschriften der Chigi-Bibliothek,”
in “SB. der Bayr. Akad. phil.-hist. Kl.,” 1876, p. 491 ff. W. Meyer,
“Uber die Originale von Melanchthons Briefen an Camerarius,” _ibid._,
p. 596 ff. “Katholik,” 1900, 1, p. 392, an article by P. A. Kirsch
with photo of letter. We are forced to depart from his translation
on certain points. Cp. also Nik. Müller’s reprint in “Zeitschr. für
Kirchengesch.,” 21, 1901, p. 595. The letter runs:

“_Εὖ πράττειν. Ὅτι μὲν ἔμελλε πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἡ φήμη οὐχ ὅμοια περὶ τοῦ
γάμου τοῦ Λουθέρου ἀγγεῖλαι, ἔδοξέ μοι περὶ αὐτοῦ ὡς γνώμην ἔχω σοι
ἐπιστέλλειν. μηνὸς ἰουνίου ἡμέρᾳι γ̓ ἀπροσδοκήτως ἔγημε τὴν Βορείαν ὁ
Λούθερος μηδενὶ τῶν φίλων τὸ πρᾶγμα πρὸ τοῦ ἀναθέμενος, ἀλλ̓ ἑσπέρας
πρὸς δεῖπνον καλέσας τὸν Πομερανιέα καὶ Λούκαν τὸν γραφέα καὶ τὸν
Ἄπελλον μόνους ἐποίησε τὰ εἰθισμένα προτέλεια._

“_Θαυμάσειας δὲ ἂν, τούτῳ τῳ δυστυχεῖ χρόνῳ, καλῶν κἀγαθῶν ἀνδρῶν
πάντοτε ταλαιπωρουμένων τοῦτον οὐ συμπάσχειν, ἀλλ̓ ὡς δοκεῖ μᾶλλον
τρυφᾶν καὶ τὸ αὐτοῦ ἀξίωμα ἐλαττοῦν, ὅτε μάλιστα χρείαν ἔχει ἡ
Γερμανία φρονήματός τε καὶ ἐξουσίας αὐτοῦ. Ἐγὰ δὲ ταῦτα οὕτω πως
γενέσθαι οἷμαι. Ἐστὶν ὁ ἀνὴρ ὡς μάλιστα εὐχερὴς και αἱ μοναχαὶ πασῃ
μηχανᾖ ἐπι βουλευομέναι προσέπασαν αὐτόν. Ἲσως ἡ πολλὴ συνήθεια, ἡ
σὺν ταῖς μοναχαῖς κἂν γενναῖον ὄντα καὶ μεγαλόψυχον κατεμάλθαξε ἤ καὶ
προσεξέκαυσε. τοῦτον τρόπον εἰσπεσεῖν δοκεῖ εἰς ταύτην τὴν ἄαιρον βίου
μεταβολήν. Θρυλλούμενον δὲ, ὃτι καὶ πρὸ τοῦ διακόρευσεν αὐτὴν, ἐψεῦσθαι
δῆλόν ἐστι._

“_Νυνὶ δὲ τὸ πραχθὲν μὴ βαρέως φέρειν δεῖ ἢ ὀνειδίζειν. ἀλλὰ ἡγοῦμαι
ὑπὸ φύσεως ἀναγκασθῆναι γαμεῖν. Οὗτος δὲ βίος ταπεινὸς μέν, ἀλλὰ ὅσιός
ἐστι καὶ θεῷ μᾶλλον τοῦ ἀγέμου ἀρέσκει. Καὶ ὅτι αὐτὸν τὸν Λούθερον
ἐπίλυπόν πως ὄντα ὁρῶ καὶ ταραχθέντα διὰ τὴν βιου μεταγολήν, πάσῃ
σπουδῇ καὶ ἐννοίᾳ ἐπιχειρῶ παραμυθεῖσθαι, ἐπειδὴ οὔπω ἔπραξέ τι, ὅπερ
ἐγκαλεῖσθαι ἀξιῶ ἢ ἀναπολόγητον δοκεῖ. ἔτι δὲ τεκμήριά τινα ἔχω τῆς
εὐσεβείας αὐτοῦ ὥστε κατακρίνειν οὐκ ἐξεῖναι. ἔπειτα ἂν μᾶλλον ἠυχόμην
αὐτὸν ταπεινοῦσθαι ἢ ὐψοῦσθαι καὶ ἐπαίρεσθαι, ὅπερ ἐστίν ἐπισφαλές, οὐ
μόνον τοῖς ἐν ἱερωσύνῃ, ἀλλὰ καὶ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις. τὸ γὰρ εὖ πράττειν,
ἀφορμὴ τοῦ κακῶς φρονεῖν γίνεται, οὐ μόνον, ὡς ὁ ῥήτωρ ἔφη, τοῖς
ἀνοήτοις, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς σοφοῖς._

“_Πρὸς τούτῳ καὶ ἐλπίζω, ὅτι ὁ βίος οὑτοσὶ σεμνότερον αὐτὸν ποιήσει,
ὥστε καὶ ἀποβαλεῖν τὴν βωμολοχίαν, ἧς πολλάκις ἐμεμψάμεθα. ἄλλος γὰρ
βίος ἄλλην δίαιταν κατὰπαροιμίαν καταστήσει._

“_Ταῦτα πρός σε μακρολογῶ ὤστε μή σε ὑπὸ παραδόξου πράγματος ἄγαν
ταράττεσθαι. οἶδα γὰρ ὅτι μέλει σοι τοῦ ἀξιώματος τοῦ Λουθέρον,
ὅπερ νυνὶ ἐλαττοῦθαι ἀχθεσθήσῃ. Παρακαλῶ δέ σε πράως ταῦτα φέρειν,
ὄτι τίμιος βίος ὁ γάμος ἐν ἁγίαις γραφαῖς εἶναι λέγεται. εἰκὸς δὲ
ἀναγκασθῆναι ἀληθῶς γαμεῖν. Πολλὰ τῶν πάλαι ἀγίων πταίσματα ἔδειξεν
ὁ θεὸς ἡμῖν, ὄτι θέλει ἡμᾶς βασανίζοντας τὸν αὐτοῦ λόγον, οὐκ ἀξίωμα
ἀνθρώπων ἢ πρόσωπον σύμβουλον πολεῖν, ἀλλὰ μόνον αὐτοῦ λόγον. πάλιν δὲ
ἀσεβέστατος ἐστιν, ὃστις διὰ τὸ διδασκάλον πταῖσμα καταγιγνώσκει τῆς

“Michaelis pergrata consuetudo in his turbis mihi est, quem miror, qui
passus sis isthinc discedere. Patrem officiosissime tractato, et puta
te hanc illi pro paterno amore gratiam debere _καὶ ἀντιπελαργεῖν_.
De Francicis rebus a te litteras expecto. Vale foeliciter. Postridie
corp. Christi. Tabellarius qui has reddet, recta ad nos rediturus est.
_Φίλιππος_.” (The seal is still preserved.)

[478] Not _βδελυρίαν_, debauchery, as was thought, but _βωμολοχίαν_,
is the correct reading. The latter might perhaps be translated as “the
passion for making coarse jests.” This is the opinion of G. Kawerau
in “Deutsch-Evangelische Blätter,” 1906, “Luther und Melanchthon”
(in the reprint, p. 37), who remarks that the only thing damning for
Luther in this letter was Melanchthon’s statement “concerning the
coarse jests to which Luther was given in his bachelor days, and which
had so often scandalised his friend.” Kawerau, for this very reason,
thinks that this much-discussed letter, “which Camerarius only ventured
to print after much revision” (p. 34), is much better calculated to
“make us acquainted with Melanchthon than with Luther, and simply
bears witness to the former’s sensitiveness” (p. 37). It is true that
“some of Luther’s talk appears to us to-day frightfully coarse, and
Melanchthon felt as we do on the subject”; but apart from the fact
that Melanchthon’s views were not representative of his age, Mathesius
declares that “he never heard an immodest word from Luther’s lips.” We
shall return later to the question of that age as a linguistic standard
of morality and to Mathesius’s statement, which, we may remark, refers
to a later period.

[479] _εἰκὸς δὲ ἀναγκασθῆναι ἀληθῶς γαμεῖν._ The subject of the
verb _ἀναγκασθῆναι_ is the infinitive _γαμεῖν_, as in the previous
passage _ἡγοῦμαι ὑπὸ φύσεως ἀναγκασθῆναι γαμεῖν_. On the passive form
_ἀναγκασθῆναι_, see e.g. Plato, “Phæd.,” 242a, 254a.

[480] “Corp. ref.,” 1, p. 750.

[481] _Loc. cit._, p. 36.

[482] To Johann Rühel, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 293 (“Briefwechsel,”
5, p. 164).

[483] To Spalatin, November 30, 1524 (“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 77):
“_Animus alienus est a coniugio, cum expectem quotidie mortem et
meritum hæretici supplicium_.” This he wrote under the influence of the
stringent decrees of the Diet of Nuremberg (April 18, 1524), and in
order to work upon his Elector. The decrees had led him to write: “You
are in a great hurry to put me, a poor man, to death,” but that his
death would be the undoing of his enemies. “Two unequal decrees of the
Emperor,” “Werke,” Erl. ed., 24², p. 222 f.; Weim. ed., 15, p. 254.

[484] To Johann Rühel, Johann Thür and Caspar Müller, “Werke,” Erl.
ed., 53, p. 314 (“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 195).

[485] Sermon on Psalm xxvi. preached in Wittenberg shortly after his
marriage, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 39, p. 115.

[486] From the concluding words of the tract of 1525: “Against the
murderous, thievish bands of peasants,” “Werke,” Erl. ed., 18, p. 361;
Erl. ed., 24², p. 309.

[487] See above, p. 175.

[488] See above, p. 178.

[489] To Leonard Koppe, June 17, 1525 (“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 199).

[490] To Michael Stiefel, June 17, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 199.

[491] To Amsdorf, June 21, 1525, _ibid._, p. 204.

[492] To Wenceslaus Link, June 20, 1525, _ibid._, p. 201.

[493] In letter quoted above, p. 181, n. 3.

[494] To Michael Stiefel, September 29, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 248.

[495] To Johann Brismann (after August 15?), 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5,
p. 226.

[496] “Corp. ref.,” 1, p. 641.

[497] On May 11, 1524, “Briefwechsel,” 4, p. 340.

[498] In the letter quoted above, p. 174, n. 3.

[499] To Leonard Koppe, June 21, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 202.

[500] To Wenceslaus Link, July 20, 1525, _ibid._, p. 222.

[501] In the letter quoted above, p. 182, n. 4: “_Vehementer irritantur
sapientes etiam inter nostros_.” These are the followers whom he had
complained of already on April 10, 1525: “_Nostri sapienticuli quotidie
idem (coniugium) ridere_.” To Spalatin, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 153.

[502] To Amsdorf, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 314, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p.

[503] “Archiv für Frankfurter Gesch.,” 7, 1855, p. 102 in Enders,
“Briefwechsel Luthers,” 5, p. 195, n. 4.

[504] To Amsdorf, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 204.

[505] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 61, p. 167.

[506] _Ibid._, p. 265.

[507] “Opp.,” Lugd. Batav., 1703, t. 3, col. 900. Erasmus to Nicholas
Everardus, Präses in Holland, from Basle, December 24, 1525.

[508] _Ibid._, col. 919, to Franciscus Sylvius, from Basle, March 13,

[509] “_Articuli sive libelli triginta_,” art. 17, p. 87 _seq._

[510] “Opp.,” Lugd. Batav., 1703, 3, col. 900, ep. 781.

[511] _Ibid._, col. 919, ep. 801.

[512] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 322; see above, p. 183.

[513] See Enders, “Briefwechsel Luthers,” 6, p. 334.

[514] See Strobel, “Neue Beiträge zur Literatur,” 3, 1, p. 137 ff.
Cp. Höfler, “SB. der k. böhm. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften,” 1892,
p. 110 f. Denifle states, “Luther,” 1², p. 284, n. 3, that there is a
specimen of the above work in the town library at Mayence.

[515] See above, pp. 145, 177.

[516] “Eberlins Sämtliche Schriften,” ed. L. Enders, 3, p. 165.

[517] Eobanus Hessus says of the escaped nuns: “_Nulla Phyllis nonnis
est nostris mammosior_.” Cp. above, p. 125, n. 1.

[518] Denifle, “Luther,” 1², p. 284.

[519] “Luther und der Bauernkrieg,” Oldenburg, 1895, p. 8.

[520] “Gesch. der deutschen Reformation,” Berlin, 1890, p. 447.

[521] “Die Kultur der Gegenwart,” T. 2, Abt. 5, 1, Berlin, 1908, p. 68.

[522] The passages were quoted above, cp. pp. 6 f., 9 f., 49 f., 55 f.,
63, 69, 100 f., 107.

[523] “Dissertationes quatuor contra M. Lutherum et Lutheranismi
fautores,” Moguntiæ, 1532, fol. 19. See Janssen-Pastor, “Hist. of the
German People” (Engl. trans.), 4, 1900, p. 56 ff.

[524] Ed. A. Goetze in “Hist. Vierteljahrsschrift,” 4, 1901, p. 1 ff.

[525] In Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 697, after a reference to the
oppression of the peasantry, their insolence and desire for innovation,
we read: “In addition to all this there now supervened the preaching of
the new Evangel.... A higher warrant was bestowed upon the complaints
and the demands concerning secular and material matters.... The
Christian liberty of which the New Testament speaks and which Luther
proclaimed was applied directly to temporal questions. Paul’s words
that in Christ there is neither bond nor free became a weapon.... Even
the Old Testament was also appealed to. From the circumstance that
God had granted to our first parents dominion over the birds of the
air, the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the field, they concluded
that at least the right to fish and hunt was common to all. Great
opposition was raised, above all, to the taxes due to the monasteries
and clergy, and even the very existence of the monastic state and
temporal authority of the clergy was called into question. Such ideas
were readily fostered among the excited masses when the new preaching
found its way amongst them by word of mouth or in writings”; p. 701:
“Luther, however, was the man of the Evangel on whom the eyes of the
great mass of the peasants in southern Germany were directed when
their rising commenced.” The editors of the Weimar edition of Luther’s
writings (18, 1908) remark in the first introduction to the same (p.
279): “The rebellion found its encouragement and support in Luther’s
victorious gospel of ecclesiastical reformation; ultimately, however,
it secularised the new gospel. Whence it came to pass that in the
end, not Luther, but rather the religious fanatics, above all, Thomas
Münzer, drew the excited masses under their spell and impressed their
stamp on the whole movement.” Concerning Luther’s attitude towards
the revolt at the time it was preparing, we read on p. 280: “Up to
that time [the spring of 1525], Luther had taken no direct part in the
social movement. He was, however, without doubt indirectly engaged;
his writings had fallen like firebrands on the inflammable masses, who
misunderstood them, interpreted them according to their own ideas and
forged from them weapons for their own use.”

[526] Fritz Herrmann, “Evangelische Regungen zu Mainz in den
ersten Zeiten der Reformation,” in “Schriften des Vereins für
Reformationsgesch.,” No. 100, 1910 (p. 275-304), p. 297.

[527] F. Herrmann, _ibid._, p. 298.

[528] F. Herrmann, p. 296. W. Vogt, “Die Vorgesch. des Bauernkrieges”
(in “Schriften des Vereins für Reformationsgesch.,” 20, 1887),
points to the general expectation prevailing, more particularly in
the south-west of Germany, that a fundamental change in the existing
state of things was imminent. “Every reform, however, even the most
trifling, in the social sphere encroached upon the political and even
the ecclesiastical domain, for the nobility and clergy, whose authority
and possessions were the subject of discussion, were at the same time
political and ecclesiastical factors.... All felt that in the last
instance the appeal would be to force” (p. 142).

[529] For examples, see above, p. 152 ff., and below, p. 297 ff.
Cp. also P. Drews, “Entsprach das Staatskirchentum Luthers Ideal?”
Tübingen, 1908, p. 31.

[530] Concerning Usingen’s utterance of 1523: “_Nescitis populum esse
bestiam ... quæ sanguinem sitit?_” etc., cp. N. Paulus, “Barthol.
Usingen,” p. 102. And (_ibid._) another striking saying of Usingen
concerning the preacher Culsamer. He declared that he feared Germany
would see a storm similar to that which Constantinople had suffered
at the hands of the iconoclasts (p. 101). The preacher Eberlin von
Günzburg announced in 1521: “There will be no end to the impositions
of the clergy until the peasants rise and hang and drown good
and bad alike; then the cheating will meet with its reward.” See
Janssen-Pastor, “Gesch. des deutschen Volkes,” 2^[18], p. 490 ff.

[531] F. Herrmann, _loc. cit._, p. 297.

[532] The circular letter, reprinted in the “Annalen des Vereins für
Nassauisshe Gesch.,” 17, 1882, p. 16 ff.

[533] W. Stolze, “Der deutsche Bauernkrieg,” Halle, 1907, p. v.

[534] Cp. particularly p. 22 ff. In “Archiv. f. Reformationsgesch.,”
1909, Hft. 1, p. 160, the author’s blame of the “previous prejudiced
insistence on the social side of the Peasant War” meets with
recognition; we read there, “the emphasis laid on the religious side by
Stolze appears to be thoroughly justified.”

[535] “Die scharf Metz wider die, die sich evangelisch nennen und doch
dem Evangelium entgegen sind,” 1525, ed. W. Lucke, in “Flugschriften
aus den ersten Jahren der Reformation,” vol. i., No. 3, Halle, 1906.

[536] W. Maurenbrecher, “Gesch. der kath. Reformation,” 1, Nördlingen,
1880, p. 257. Janssen, in his “Hist. of the German People,” has brought
this point out clearly. See more particularly (Engl. trans.) volume
iii.: “The populace inflamed by preaching and the press,” and volume
iv.: “The social revolution,” where it is pointed out that even apart
from Luther’s action and that of his followers, risings were imminent,
but that the “social revolution first received the stamp of universal
and inhuman ferocity from the conditions created or developed among
the people by the religious disturbances.” Concerning the effect of
the sermons and pamphlets on the people we read, in the original, vol.
2^[18], p. 490, n. 5, in a letter of Archduke Ferdinand to the Pope,
that the deluded people believed, “_se Dei negotium agere in templis,
cœnobiis, monasteriis diruendis_,” etc. Johann Adam Möhler, in the
Church History (ed. Gams), which appeared after his death, compares (3,
p. 118) the effects of the preaching of the liberty of the children
of God in the primitive Church, and describes the pure, virtuous life
of self-renunciation which resulted, how the lower classes learnt
to be content with their lot and the slaves became more faithful to
their masters. “The contrast between the effects of the old gospel
and the new evangel gave the most convincing proof of the difference
between them.” “From the spirit of the flesh which combined with the
religious in Luther’s writings to form one living whole, a tendency to
revolt gradually spread over all Germany; ecclesiastical and secular,
divine and human, spiritual and corporal, all ran riot together in the
people’s minds; everywhere prevailed a fanatical, perverted longing for
the liberty of the children of God” (p. 116). When Luther urged the
Princes to severity in repressing the movement, his ruling idea was
“to repress the opinion that elements dangerous to public order were
embodied in his principles” (p. 118).

[537] W. Maurenbrecher, “Studien und Skizzen zur Gesch. der
Reformationszeit,” 1874, p. 22.

[538] Cp. the writing, “Handlung, Ordnung und Instruktion,” in which
the delegates to be chosen to negotiate with the Swabian League on
the question of “divine law,” are referred, among others, to “Hertzog
Friederich von Sachsen sampt D. Martin Luther, oder Philipp Melanchthon
oder Pomeran [Bugenhagen].” In the introduction of the Weim. ed. (see
above, p. 191, n. 2), p. 280. Luther refers to this passage in his
“Ermanunge zum Fride auff die 12 Artikel” with the words: “particularly
as they appeal to me by name in the other writing.”

[539] The pamphlet in “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, 1908, p. 279 ff. Erl.
ed., 24², p. 271 ff. For the date see _ibid._, Weim. ed., 18, p. 281,
and Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 793.

[540] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 344 ff.; Erl. ed., 24², p. 303 ff.

[541] _Ibid._, p. 375 ff. = 310 ff.

[542] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 293 f.=273 f.

[543] _Ibid._, p. 300=277.

[544] _Ibid._, p. 329 f.=296 f. In the Weim. ed., 18, p. 790, it is
rightly remarked that Luther sees in the peasants of South Germany, to
whom the “Ermanunge zum Fride” was principally addressed, persecuted
men, and that from a distance he welcomes their rising with a certain

[545] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 717; cp. p. 792 ff.

[546] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 291; Erl. ed., 24², p. 272.

[547] _Ibid._, p. 316 = p. 288.

[548] _Ibid._, p. 334 = p. 299.

[549] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 293=p. 273.

[550] A. Hausrath, “Luthers Leben,” 2, p. 55.

[551] K. Müller, “Kirche, Gemeinde und Obrigkeit nach Luther,” 1910, p.

[552] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 358; Erl. ed., 24², p. 304.

[553] _Ibid._, p. 358 f.=p. 305. “The violent words of the circular
letter ‘Wider die ... Bawren’ were really directed against his bitter
opponent Thomas Münzer, the ‘arch-devil of Mühlhausen,’ and the
seditious Thuringian peasants.” So runs the introduction of the Weimar
edition, with which we may, to some extent, agree, though the pamphlet
speaks throughout of the rebellious peasants generally; on the very
first page we read, however: “More particularly the arch-devil who
reigns at Mühlhausen and who incites to nothing but pillage, murder,
and bloodshed.”

[554] _Ibid._, p. 360; Erl. ed., 24², p. 308.

[555] _Ibid._, p. 359=p. 306.

[556] _Ibid._, p. 361=p. 308.

[557] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, and p. 359 = p. 306.

[558] _Ibid._, p. 360 ff. = 307 ff.

[559] Melanchthon’s and Luther’s words given more in detail in
Hausrath, “Luthers Leben,” 2, p. 59.

[560] Luther to Amsdorf, May 30, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 182:
“_adulator principum_.” Luther pronounces the “Curse of the Lord” on
those Magdeburg preachers who had sided with the rebels.

[561] On May 21, 1525, Kawerau’s edition of the letter in “Schriften
des Vereins für Reformationsgesch.,” No. 100, 1910, p. 339 (“
Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 177).

[562] Kawerau’s edition, _ibid._, p. 342 (“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 180).

[563] Cp. K. Müller above (p. 201, n. 3), p. 148, where another
explanation is given which, however, cannot stand. Müller, p. 140 ff.,
deals with Barge’s “Karlstadt” (vol. ii.), and Barge’s reply to his
criticism. Barge was of opinion that “it is plain the princes and their
mercenaries [in their ruthless treatment of the conquered peasants]
understood Luther aright” (“Frühprotestantisches Gemeindechristentum,”
1909, p. 333). “Luther, in his pamphlet against the peasants, gave
high sanction to the impure lust for blood which had been kindled in
the souls of hundreds and thousands who played the part of hangmen....
By seeking to exalt the cynical thirst for revenge into a religious
sentiment he has stained the cause of the Reformation more than he
could have done even by allying himself with the rebels” (“Karlstadt,”
2, 1905, p. 357).

[564] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 308 (“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 186).
“I would that in these perilous days you would write a letter of
consolation and exhortation to my most gracious lord of Magdeburg
concerning his making a change in his mode of life; you understand what
I mean. But please send me a copy. I purpose going to Magdeburg to-day
to take steps in the matter. Pray God in heaven to give His grace in
this serious work and undertaking. Be hopeful; you understand me; it
cannot be committed to writing. For God’s sake implore, seek and pray
that grace and strength may be bestowed on me for the work.” Words so
pious concerning such a business prove how far men may be carried away
by their own prepossession.

[565] Cp. Kolde, “Analecta Lutherana,” p. 64.

[566] Cp. Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 715, with the references p. 794 and
Weim. ed., 18, p. 376, Introduction. E. Rolffs (“Preuss. Jahrbücher,”
15, 1904, p. 481): “When, incited thereto by his evangel of the freedom
of a Christian man, the oppressed and down-trodden peasantry sought
by flame and bloodshed to secure for themselves an existence fit for
human beings, then he no longer understood his German people. And
when, thereupon, he wrote his frightful book, ‘Against the murderous
and thieving hordes of Peasants,’ the German people also ceased to
understand him.”

[567] Hausrath, “Luthers Leben,” 2, p. 58 f.

[568] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 306 (“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 181).
“This rabble [the peasants under Thomas Münzer] was an enemy of the
evangel, and its leaders bitter opponents of the Lutheran teaching.”
Introduction to the circular-letter. Weim. ed., 18, p. 376.

[569] Luther’s own way of putting the objection, “Werke,” Weim. ed.,
18, p. 399; Erl. ed., 24², p. 331. Cp. Köstlin-Kawerau, _ibid._

[570] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 367 ff.; Erl. ed., 65, p. 12 ff. The
date is determined by K. Müller in the work quoted above, p. 201, n. 3,
p. 144.

[571] In the sermon at Wittenberg on June 4, 1525, Köstlin-Kawerau, 1,
p. 715.

[572] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 401; Erl. ed., 24², p. 334.

[573] _Ibid._, p. 384 ff.=pp. 311-14.

[574] _Ibid._, p. 387 f.=pp. 315-16.

[575] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 715, 717.

[576] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 390 f.; Erl. ed., 24², p. 319, 320.

[577] _Ibid._, pp. 392-4 = 322, 324.

[578] _Ibid._, pp. 394, 396; Erl. ed., 24², pp. 324, 327.

[579] _Ibid._, p. 397 = 328.

[580] “Against the murderous Peasants,” _ibid._, p. 358 = 304.

[581] _Ibid._, p. 398 f. = 330.

[582] _Ibid._, p. 399 = 331.

[583] _Ibid._, p. 399 f. = 330-3.

[584] Hausrath, “Luthers Leben,” 2, p. 29.

[585] “Epp. ad viros aetatis suae doctissimos,” ed. Rieggerus, 1774, p.

[586] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 376, quoted in the introduction to the

[587] “Hyperaspistes,” “Opp.,” 1, p. 1032.

[588] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 59, p. 284 (Tischreden). Cp. Cordatus,
“Tagebuch,” p. 307, Mathesius, “Aufzeichnungen,” p. 290.

[589] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, 714, 717 f.

[590] Cp. Enders, “Luthers Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 181, n. 1.

[591] Hausrath, “Luthers Leben,” 2, p. 62.

[592] Ed. W. Friedensburg, “Zur Vorgesch. des Gotha-Torgauischen
Bündnisses der Evangelischen,” 1884. Cp. Kawerau in “Theolog.
Literaturztng.,” 1884, p. 502.

[593] Cp. Fr. Herrmann, “Evangelische Regungen zu Mainz in den ersten
Jahren der Reformation,” in “Schriften für Reformationsgesch.,” No.
100, 1910, pp. 275-304.

[594] Cp. Köstlin-Kawerau, 2, p. 7 f. For the tract, so far as it is
known, see “Werke,” Weim. ed., 19, p. 252 ff.; Erl. ed., 65, p. 22 ff.

[595] Frank G. Ward, “Darstellung der Ansichten Luthers vom Staat und
seinen wirtschaftlichen Aufgaben,” 1898, p. 31.

[596] To Hans Luther, February 15, 1530, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 54, p. 130
(“Briefwechsel,” 7, p. 230).

[597] Janssen-Pastor, “Gesch. des deutschen Volkes,” 2^[18], p. 526 n.
“Luther’s conduct in the Peasant War was not ambiguous, but in both his
writings merely violent as usual; in the first, against the nobles,
more especially the higher clergy; in the second, against the peasants.”

[598] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 15², p. 276.

[599] _Ibid._, 33, p. 390. In the “Exhortation to Peace” Luther had
represented to the peasants that their demand for the abrogation of
serfdom was “rapacious,” “and directly contrary to the gospel.” Cp.
vol. v., xxxv. 5.

[600] Schlaginhaufen, “Aufzeichnungen,” p. 118.

[601] Schlaginhaufen, “Aufzeichnungen,” p. 125. Cp. Cordatus,
“Tagebuch,” 216.

[602] _Ibid._, p. 127. Cordatus, _ibid._, p. 217.

[603] _Ibid._, p. 131. Cordatus, p. 221.

[604] “Briefe,” ed. De Wette, undated Fragment.

[605] On August 25, 1533, “Briefwechsel,” 9, p. 333.

[606] P. Schreckenbach, “Luther und der Bauernkrieg,” 1895, p. 45.

[607] “_De servo arbitrio_,” “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 776. “Opp. Lat.
var.,” 7, p. 367: “_ipsum iugulum petisti_.”

[608] To Michael Stiefel, September 29, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 248

[609] _Ibid._, p. 248: “_metuens, ne non esset divinum, quod gerimus_.”

[610] May 30, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 182.

[611] In “Eurici Cordi Medici antilutheromastigos calumnias expurgatio
pro catholicis,” 1526. Cp. G. Kawerau, “Hieron. Emser,” 1898, p. 83 f.
For Emser’s work I made use of the very rare copy in the University
library at Munich.

[612] Verse 53 ff.

[613] September 28, 1525, “Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 246.

[614] On September 27, 1525, _ibid._, p. 245.

[615] Cp. letter of May 26, 1525, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 53, p. 304
(“Briefwechsel,” 5, p. 179).

[616] “_Qui te fecit sine te, non iustificat te sine te_,” “Serm.,”
160, n. 13.

[617] “_De duabus animabus_,” 14, n. 22.

[618] Genesis iv. 6 f. According to the Vulgate.

[619] 2 Corinthians vi. 1; 1 Corinthians xv. 10; Philippians ii. 12.

[620] Deuteronomy xxx. 19.

[621] Ed. F. Pfeiffer², 1855, p. 208.

[622] “De nuptiis et concup.,” 2, c. 8.

[623] “Epp.,” 157, c. 2. It is notorious that in his controversial
writings against the Pelagians, Augustine, in his later years, came to
insist more and more upon grace, yet he never denied free-will nor its
consequences, viz. merit and guilt. Some of Luther’s misrepresentations
of the statements of this Father of the Church will be given later.

[624] J. Ficker, in the Preface, p. lxxv, referring to “Schol. Rom.,”
38, 42, 71, 90, 91, 93, 101; cp. 171, 179, 188, 218.

[625] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 1, p. 30 ff. “Opp. Lat. var.,” 1, p. 55 f.

[626] A. Taube, “Luthers Lehre über die Freiheit ... bis zum Jahre
1525,” Göttingen, 1901, p. 10 f.

[627] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 1, p. 10 ff. “Opp. Lat. var.,” 1, p. 29 f.

[628] _Ibid._, p. 78 = p. 177. Cp. F. Kattenbusch, “Luthers Lehre vom
unfreien Willen,” Göttingen, 1875, p. 51 (the 2nd edition is a mere

[629] Cp. for this and for the other theses Luther’s works mentioned
in volume i., p. 310 ff., and also “Die ältesten Disputationen,” etc.,
ed. Stange, for instance, p. 5: “_Voluntas hominis sine gratia non est
libera, sed servit, licet non invita_.”

[630] Stange, _ibid._, p. 15.

[631] Stange, _ibid._, p. 16, n. 1, referring to his work, “Die
reformatorische Lehre von der Freiheit des Handelns,” in “Neue kirchl.
Zeitschr.,” 3, 1903, p. 214 ff.

[632] Cp. Kattenbusch, “Luthers Lehre vom unfreien Willen,” p. 48 f.

[633] On Luther’s Determinism, see below. For the deterministic
passages in the work, “De servo arbitrio,” 1525, cf. Taube, “Luthers
Lehre über die Freiheit,” p. 21.

[634] Latin text in Stange, _ibid._, p. 18. Cp. Kattenbusch., _ibid._,
p. 41 ff., for what Luther said in 1516.

[635] See Stange, _ibid._, p. 35 ff.

[636] Thesis 13, in Stange, _ibid._, p. 53. “Werke,” Weim. ed., 1, p.
354; “Opp. Lat. var.,” 1, p. 388. Cp. Thesis 14: “_Liberum arbitrium
post peccatum potest in bonum potentia subiectiva, in malum vero activa
semper_.” On the Heidelberg Disputation, see volume i., p. 315 ff.

[637] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 2, p. 421; “Opp. Lat var.,” 3, p. 272.

[638] _Ibid._, p. 424 = p. 276.

[639] Jul. Köstlin, “Luthers Theologie,” 1², Stuttgart, 1901, p. 218.

[640] In the “Assertio omnium articulorum,” “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7,
p. 148; “Opp. Lat. var.,” 5, p. 234. Cp. _ibid._, p. 146 = p. 231:
“_Patimur omnes et omnia: cessat liberum arbitrium erga Deum_.”

[641] _Ibid._, p. 146 = p. 230. This passage was toned down, after
Luther’s death, in the Wittenberg ed. (1546) and Jena ed. (1557);
Köstlin, “Luthers Theologie,” 2², p. 316 n.

[642] “Werke,” _ibid._, p. 143 ff.=p. 227 ff. It is strange but
characteristic how he appeals to experience as against the doctrine
of free-will: everyone possessed arguments against it “_ex vita
propria.... Secus rem se habere monstrat experientia omnium_” (p.
145=p. 230). His views of concupiscence come in here.

[643] “_Non est homo in manu sua, etiam mala operans et cogitans_”
(_ibid._, p. 145=p. 230).

[644] “_Nam et mala opera in impiis Deus operatur_” (_ibid._).

[645] “_Assertio_,” etc. “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 145 ff.; “Opp. Lat.
var.,” 5, p. 231 f.

[646] “Contra duas epp. Pelag.,” 1. 3, c. 8.

[647] “De spiritu et litt.,” c. 3, n. 5.

[648] In place of “_Neque liberum arbitrium quidquid nisi ad peccandum
valet, si lateat veritatis via_,” he makes Augustine say: “_Liberum
arbitrium sine gratia non valet nisi ad peccandum_.” Of the subject
itself sufficient explanation will be found in Catholic handbooks. Cp.,
for instance, Hurter, “Theolog. specialis,” pars. 2¹¹, 1903, p. 55 f.

[649] “Assertio,” etc. “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 146: “Opp. Lat. var.,”
5, p. 233.

[650] _Ibid._, pp. 95=158.

[651] _Ibid._, p. 148=234.

[652] _Ibid._

[653] Weim. ed., 5, p. 149=p. 235.

[654] _Ibid._, p. 97 f.=p. 161 f.

[655] _Ibid._, p. 100=p. 165.

[656] “Opp. Lat. var.,” 5, p. 96=p. 158.

[657] “Opp. Lat. var.,” 5, p. 142 f.=p. 226.

[658] _Ibid._, p. 145=p. 229.

[659] Cp. _ibid._, p. 145=p. 230: “_Unde non est dubium, satana
magistro in ecclesiam venisse hoc nomen liberum arbitrium, ad
seducendos homines a via Dei in vias suas proprias_.”

[660] Cp. “Opp. Lat. exeg.,” 1, p. 106. Köstlin, “Luthers Theologie,”
2², p. 70.

[661] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 10², p. 235. “Kirchenpostille,” Sermon of
1521. Cp. Köstlin, _ibid._, 1², p. 365.

[662] See Köstlin, _ibid._, p. 366. He admits (2², p. 82) that Luther
“expressly denies free-will” to those who “would not.”

[663] Weim. ed., 7, p. 147; “Opp. Lat. var.,” 5, p. 232.

[664] Köstlin, _ibid._, 1², p. 366.

[665] To Hans von Rechenberg, August 18, 1522, “Werke,” Erl. ed., 22,
p. 33 (“Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 444). This letter to the promoter of
Lutheranism at Freistadt in Silesia, was at once spread abroad in print
and is included amongst Luther’s catechetical works. Later he finds in
the same passage, viz. Timothy ii. 4, merely an expression of God’s
desire that we should render our neighbours “all temporal and spiritual
assistance” (“Werke,” Erl. ed., 51, p. 316 ff.). In support of this he
appeals to Psalm xxxvi.: “Men and beasts Thou wilt preserve, O Lord.”
To find in Scripture that salvation was open to all men whose free-will
was ready to accept it, was “to pluck out some words of Scripture and
fashion them according to our own fancy” (p. 317).

[666] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 51, p. 317.

[667] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 14, p. 73: Erl. ed., 52, p. 271; cp. _ibid._,
p. 69=p. 267.

[668] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 51, p. 317.

[669] “Corpus ref.,” 21, p. 87 f. Later we read: “_Fateor in externo
rerum delectu esse quandam libertatem, internos vero affectus prorsus
nego in potestate nostra esse_” (_ibid._, p. 92). Both passages in
Kolde’s edition based on the _editio princeps_, Leipzig, 1900, 3rd.
ed., pp. 67, 74.

[670] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 601; “Opp. Lat. var.,” 7, p. 117.

[671] Köstlin, “Luthers Theologie,” 1², p. 144.

[672] Thesis 16 of the Disputation of 1516 (see vol. i., p. 310):
“_Voluntas non est libera, sed servit, licet non invita_.”

[673] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 6, p. 212; 9, p. 238; Erl. ed., 16², p. 135.

[674] _Ibid._, p. 210=235=131.

[675] See above, p. 27 ff.

[676] “Werke,” Weim. ed., 7, p. 39; Erl. ed., 27, p. 199. Cp.
Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 358 ff.

[677] See below, p. 288, the Sermon in 1531.

[678] To Johann Lang, April 12, 1522, “Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 331.

[679] Köstlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 657.

[680] Cp. Luther to Kaspar Borner, Professor at Leipzig, May 28, 1522,
“Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 375.

[681] N. Paulus points out in his article “Georg Agricola”
(“Histor-polit. Blätter,” 136, 1905, p. 793 ff.), that this scholar had
never been one of Luther’s followers, and was particularly repelled by
his views on the absence of free-will, which he opposed as early as

[682] “Luthers Briefwechsel,” 3, p. 377, n. 6, from Weller’s “Altes aus
allen Teilen der Gesch.,” 1, 1765, p. 18.

[683] We may allude, for instance, to the beautiful words which,
strange to say, have been described by certain Protestants as a
moralistic explaining away of the true “evangelical comprehension
of the person of Christ and His work”: “_Ut certiore cursu queas
ad felicitatem contendere, haec tibi quarta sit regula, ut totius
vitae tuae Christum velut unicum scopum præfigas, ad quem unum omnia
studia, omnes conatus, omne otium ac negotium conferas. Christum
vero esse puta non vocem inanem, sed nihil aliud quam charitatem,
simplicitatem, patientiam, puritatem, breviter, quidquid ille docuit_”
(“_Enchiridion_,” Basil., 1519, p. 93). G. Kawerau quotes from the
correspondence of Justus Jonas which he edited, 1, p. 31, the words
of Eobanus Hessus (1519) on the “_Enchiridion_”: “_Plane divinum
opus_,” and the following utterance of Ulrich Zasius (1520) on the
same, from the correspondence of Beatus Rhenanus, p. 230: “_Miles
christianus, quem tamen, si vel solus ab Erasmo exisset, immortali
laude prædicare conveniebat, ut qui christiano homini veræ salutis
compendium, brevi velut enchiridio demonstret_.” “Luther und Erasmus,”
in “Deutsch-Evangel. Blätter,” 1906, Hft. 1, in the reprint, p. 4.

[684] In a letter to P. Servatius, July 9, 1514, Erasmus says:
“_Voluptatibus etsi quando fui inquinatus nunquam servivi_” (“Opp.,”
ed. Lugd., 3, col. 1527). Perhaps he meant more by this than when
he says of Thomas More, in a letter to Ulrich von Hutten, July 23,
1519, which is sometimes cited in comparison: “_Cum ætas ferret, non
abhorruit [Th. Morus] a puellarum amoribus, sed citra infamiam, et sic
ut oblatis magis frueretur, quam captatis et animo mutuo caperetur
potius quam coitu_” (“Opp.,” 3, col. 474 _seq._).

[685] A. Dürer’s exclamation given above, p. 41: “O Erasmus Roderdamus,
Knight of Christ, ride forth,” etc., is an allusion to the “_miles
christianus_” depicted by Erasmus in the “_Enchiridion_.” Kawerau,
_ibid._, p. 2.

[686] The passages in proof of his “rationalistic interpretation of
Scripture” are to be found in Janssen, “Hist. of the German People”
(Engl. trans.), 3, p. 21 ff.

[687] Janssen, _ibid._, p. 15.

[688] Kawerau, _ibid._, p. 5.

[689] To Christoph von Stadion, Bishop of Augsburg, August 26, 1528,
“Opp.,” 3, col. 1095 _seq._

[690] On September 3, 1522, “Opp.,” 3, col. 731. Cp. Fel. Gess, “Akten
und Briefe zur Kirchenpolitik Herzog Georgs,” Leipzig, 1905, p. 352.

[691] At the end of 1520 he declares that he has only read ten or
twelve pages of Luther’s writings. To Campegius, December 6, 1520, and
to Leo X, September 13, 1520, “Opp.,” 3, col. 596, 578.

[692] Cp. Max Richter, “Erasmus und seine Stellung zu Luther,” Leipzig,
1907, p. 10 ff.

[693] _Ibid._, col. 431 _seq._ Cp. his statement to Jodocus [i.e.
Justus] Jonas of July 31, 1518: “Luther had given some excellent
advice; had he but gone to work more gently. As to the value of his
doctrines, I neither can, nor wish to, express an opinion” (“Opp.,” 3,
col. 334).

[694] To Cardinal Wolsey: “_Vita magno omnium consensu probatur_,”
etc. (“Opp.,” 3, col. 322). Cp. his letter to Campegius, of December
6, 1520. To Leo X he writes, on September 13, 1520 (col. 578): “_Bonis
igitur illius [Lutheri] favi ... immo gloriæ Chriti in illo favi_.”
Assurances such as these may well explain Rome’s delay in condemning

[695] It is of a portion of the work (described briefly in volume i.,
p. 386) which had then appeared, that Erasmus writes: “_Vehementer
arrident et spero magnam utilitatem allaturos_” (col. 445). How ready
he was to express approval of any work of which a copy was presented
to him is shown by his reply to the Bohemian Brethren in 1511, who had
sent him one of their several confessions of faith founded on the new
interpretation of Holy Scripture: Of what he had “read in their book,”
he writes, he had “thoroughly approved and trusted that the rest was
equally correct”; from any public approval he preferred, however, to
abstain in order not to have his writings censured by the Papists, but
to “preserve his reputation and str