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BR 325 .W67 1856 v.l 

Worsley, Henry. 

The life of Martin Luther 













&c.. Se.c., &c., 




Cljisi 23iog;rapi;|) 



The " Life of Martin Luther" now offered to the public 
is an attempt to supply a simple, impartial, and truthful nar- 
rative of the great Reformer's public acts and personal and 
domestic history in a succinct and readable form. Although 
many Biographies of Luther existed previously in foreign 
languages, it would be difficult to point out one which is in 
any measure a complete work, or aims at being such ; for the 
custom has been to dilate on the early portions of the Re- 
former's career, and to finish off the remainder of the story in 
a few pages or paragraphs. There is indeed no instance be- 
sides the life of Luther by Keil, and perhaps one or two more 
works of the same kind, which has even aspired to chrono- 
logical arrangement. To the majority of readers, what is 
known of Luther has probably been derived from the popular 
work of D^Aubigne, an interesting and graphic, as well as able 
history, which no candid person would be willing to depre- 
ciate : but, besides that it is a history of the Reformation, and 
not of its principal agent, it does not carry down the narra- 
tive lower than the Diet of Augsburg, and Luther's life was 


extended nearly as much as sixteen years beyond that date. 
Whether, however, the present biography has supplied the 
desideratum which has unquestionably existed, can only be 
determined by the unbiassed judgment of the public. 

The sources of information from which the narrative is 
drawn are principally the writings of Luther himself, or of 
his cotemporaries. The writings of Melancthon, Mathesius, 
Spalatin^ Myconius, Cochlseus, and others, are of importance 
only second to the accounts transmitted by Luther's own pen. 
The observations of many cotemporaries of what they saw 
or heard arc collected in the careful pages of Seckendorf ; and 
Walch's German edition of Luther^s works, in twenty-four 
parts, published at Halle in 1750^ which also contains many 
documents, public and private, bearing on the Reformation 
and the great Reformer's career, has been found of essential 
senice. There is also much to be gathered from the less 
trodden field of epistolary correspondence ; and the familiar 
letters of Melancthon and Erasmus, and Zwingle and CEiCO- 
lampadius, are considerable helps towards forming a true 
estimate of the character of persons and of the times. But 
Luther's own writings are, of course, the best and most 
authentic ground on which to compile his biography. These 
have been published in various editions at different times, in 
Latin and German : but it is a disadvantage that no edition of 
his works hitherto brought to a close is quite perfect and 
complete. For the " Acts," or reports of events, conferences, 
&c., which appeared at the time from the pen of some Wit- 


tenberg writer, and answered the same purpose as the news- 
paper reports of the present day, and which evidently, from 
the frequent intermixture of the first with the third personal 
pronoun, were generally revised by the Reformer himself, and 
therefore are authorised versions of what they relate, refer- 
ences are made for the most part either to the Jena or the 
Altenberg edition of Luther's works. The references to the 
Table-talk (Tischreden) are to Fbrstemann's admirable edition, 
published at Leipsic in 1844. And great use has been made 
of De Wette's excellent edition of Luther's letters, published 
at Berlin in 1825 — a source of information altogether invalu- 
able for his biography, as in perusing his unpremeditated 
familiar correspondence with an infinite variety of characters, 
monarch and merchant, warrior and scholar, his bosom 
friends and his acquaintances of yesterday, the biographer in 
fact takes his seat at the entrances of his heart, and views 
character and motives in their spring and well-head. 

But other means of obtaining information, or of arriving at 
a fair and impartial estimate of acts and opinions, have not 
been overlooked. Amongst these may be mentioned such 
German and French biographies of Luther as have been pro- 
curable, as well as the pages of Seckendorf, Sleidan, Father 
Paul, Pallavicini, Maimburg, &c., and also the more general 
histories of the period. And the greatest obligation must be 
acknowledged to the modern historian Ranke, whose stores 
of information are as immense as his philosophical instruc- 
tions are invaluable, and who has enjoyed access to manuscript 


letters of ambassadors, and others personally engaged in the 
transactions they record, preserved amongst the archives of 
Princes and Cities, which throw a new light on history. 

It is not pretended that this English biography of Martin 
Luther has been undertaken in any undecided or lukew^arm 
spirit, as to the comparative merits of Popery and Protes- 
tantism. Every one who is blest with common sense and 
with common honesty must concur with the French author 
M. Villers, in his "Essay on the Spirit and Influence of 
the lleformation of Luther," which gained the prize of 
the National Institute, that, even in a merely temporal 
point of view, we owe to the lleformation very much of 
whatever constitutional freedom, civil liberty, social refine- 
ment, and improved civilization the nations of Europe en- 
joy. The blessings of the lleformation are read in the 
striking difference between the Romanist and Protestant Can- 
tons of Switzerland ; in the rarity or almost absence of crime 
amongst the Waldenses of Piedmont ; and the rarity of crime 
generally in Protestant communities, and their superior tran- 
quillity, morality, and industry, as compared with nations 
still under the yoke of the most licentious, profligate, and 
criminal city in the world — the metropolis of Popery, But 
these undeniable facts do not constitute any inducement for 
dealing more tenderly than truth demands with the actions 
and life of the Reformer, to whom more than any other 
human agent the achievement of that great religious and 
intellectual revolution is attributable ; for had Luther been as 


exceptionable a character as Henry VIII. of England, the 
movement which he originated would nevertheless have to 
take its stand strictly on its own merits. The endeavoui' has 
been to represent Luther such as he actually was ; neither to 
feign motives nor suppress facts : but to give his unbiassed 
story from his birth to his grave, without magnifying his ex- 
cellences or extenuating his failings. As regards Luther's 
opinions, it is hardly necessary to say, that a mere biographer 
can be in no way responsible for them : the only duty incum- 
bent upon him in treading the perilous ground of contested 
doctrine, is to state with truth and accuracy what the subject 
of his biography really said, thought, and believed. 

The second volume, which will conclude the Life of Luther, 
will make its appearance — unless unforeseen events preclude — 
at no distant interval of time. And, should the work afford 
any satisfaction to the public, it is intended that Luther's 
Life should form the first in a series of Biographies, having 
for their object to illustrate the history of the Reformation 
by sketches of the public and private careers of the most re- 
markable of those who, in different countries, were the 
chief instruments in the Divine work. 




The Reformers who preceded Luther 1 



Luther's birth— Domestic training — School life at Mansfeld, Mag- 
deburg, and Eisenach — Career at Erforth University — Monastic 
life — Spii'itual conflicts — Acquamtance with Staupitz^— Ordina- 
tion — Removal to Wittenberg — Lecturing and preaching — Visit 
to Rome — Doctor's vow — Sermons on the Ten Commandments — 
Theses — Correspondence — Inspection of the Forty Convents — 
Sermon at Dresden — Ninety-nine propositions . . . ,38 



The plenary indulgence — Tetzel at Juterbock — Luther's sermon — 
All Saints' Eve and the ninety-five Theses — Letter to the Arcli- 
bishop of Mentz, and the Bishop of Brandenburg — Popular ex- 
citement — The Elector's dream — Luther quite alone in his acts 
— The counter Theses of Tetzel — Burnt by the Wittenberg stu- 



dents— Prierias' dialogue— Luther's calmness — John Eck — 
The Obelisks— The Asterisks— Luther's disputes at Heidelberg 
—Encloses his "Solutions" to Leo— Hochstraten— Luther 
preaches on excommunication — Is cited to appear at Rome — 
Publishes the Solutions— Answers Prierias— The Augsburg Diet 
— The Pope commissions Cardinal Cajetan to try Luther — Me- 
lancthon— Luther at Augsburg— Effects of the Augsburg inter- 
views — Luther returns to Wittenberg — Ready to depart — Elec- 
tor's reply to Cajetan— The Edict— Miltitz — Maxmilian dies — 
Luther disputes with Eck at Leipsic — The residts — Eck goes to 
Rome — Charles of Spain elected Emperor — Luther wi-ites to him 
— In high esteem at the Saxon Court — Edits the "Epitome" with 
Notes — News from Rome — The Bull — Luther appeals to the 
Christian nobility— Aleander and Eck— Eck's insolence — Eck at 
Leipsic — Charles' coronation — Caraccioli and Aleander address 
Cliarlcs — Frederic — Frederic's answer — Erasmus — Luther dis- 
sembles — Publishes the "Babylonian Captivity" — Perseverance 
of Miltitz — Luther appeals to a Coimcil — Writes " against the 
execrable Bull of Anticlu-ist " — Publishes his " Assertion of the 
condemned Articles " — Burns the Bull — Remarks on the develop- 
ment of Luther's views — The three movements — The prospects 
of the Reformation — Luther's faith and humility . .78 



Obstacles to Luther's appearance at Worms before the Diet — His own 
wishes — Designs of the Papists — Glapio's interview with Bruck 
— Discussion on Luther introduced — Aleander's speech — The 
German grievances — Luther summoned — His labours at Witten- 
berg in the interval — Staupitz — Hutten — Luther chooses a 
middle course — Bugenhagen — Luther starts for Worms — Luther 



at Weimai' — Erfui'th — Eisenach — Franlifort — The Dean of 
Franlifort — Glapio with Sickengen — Bucer — Spalatin's message 
— Luther's tree — Luther's entrance into Worms — The evening 
before his appearance before the Diet — His first appearance — 
Tumult in the evening — His prayer — His second appearance — 
His speech — His refusal to recant — He is recalled — His second 
reftisal— Luther at his hotel — The can of Einbek beer — Joy of 
the Elector— The imperial message to the States — Popular agi- 
tation — Hutten and Sickengen — Mediation of the Elector of 
Treves — First conference- — Renewed in private — Luther again 
refiises to recant — By-scenes — The mediations resumed at 
Luther's hotel — Luther's final interview with the Archbishop of 
Treves — His Clmstian firmness — The imperial message — Lu- 
ther at Frankfort — His letter to Luke Ci-anach — His letters to 
the Emperor and the States — Luther at Hirschfeld — at Mora — 
He is made prisoner — Conducted to the Wartbm-g — League of 
Pope and Emperor — Papist artifice — The Edict — Charles' selfish 
policy 202 



Tlie Edict of Worms futile — Luther's popularity enhanced by his 
temporary seclusion — Luther's own feelings — His employments 
in the Wartburg — His illness — Apparitions — His hunting — His 
literary labours — "Confutation of Latomus" — Judgment of the 
Sorboime — Luther's merriment— His " extempore answers " — 
Passing events — Social and religious changes— Monastic vow re- 
nounced — Luther's view of the case— His treatise on the monastic 
vow — Objections to the Reformation as a sensual movement con- 
sidered — The private mass denounced — Luther's treatise — Appa- 
rition of Satan — Elector appoints delegates to discuss the mass 



with the Augu.stiue monks — His hesitation — Luther and the 
Elector of Mentz — Luther's secret visit to Wittenberg — Transla- 
tion of the New Testament — Carlstadt — The Zwickau prophets — 
Frederic's perplexity — Iconoclastic fury — Luther's verdict on the 
Zwickau doctiines — His resolution — Luther at the Black Bear 
at Jena — His letter from Borna — Luther appears at Wittenberg 
— His sermons — All is quiet again — -Conference with the celestial 
prophets — Luther's missionary tour — Translation of the Old 
Testament begun — Bohemians — Henry VIII. of England — The 
Diet of Nuremberg — Episcopal visitations — Luther follows over 
the same field — Diet meets again at Nuremberg in the autumn 
— The Centmn Gravamina — The Report — The Recess — Adiian's 
\'iolent brief — The Elector consults the Reformers — Immense 
progi'ess of the Reformation — Extreme brightness of its pro- 
spects — Luther's prophetical foresight 274 




The Reformers who rose up at difiPerent periods in the history 
of the Church may be divided into three classes : 1. The 
assertors of the right of private judgment against spiritual 
despotism; 2. The impugners of clerical excesses and ecclesi- 
astical abuses ; 3. The revivers of true doctrine in opposition 
to the false tenets of the infallible Church. This last deno- 
mination must be allowed to constitute the most solid claim 
to the name of Reformer ; but, in giving a brief glance at the 
Reformers, whether individuals or reforming communities, 
who preceded Luther, some members of the two former sec- 
tions must not be overlooked. 

In the third century the Novatians objected to the re- 
admission into the bosom of the Church of those who had 
fallen from the faith in the persecution of Decius. They bore 
the appellation of the Cathari, or the pure, on account of 
their rigid opinions, and were excommunicated by the Bishop 
of Rome : but whatever judgment may be passed on their 
peculiar sentiments, their attempt to reform the manners of 
professing Christians is at least the earliest on record. 




lu the following century, yErius, in the eastern provinces 
of Asia Minor, inveighed against the arrogance of the 
Bishops in assuming that they constituted a distinct order 
from the presbyters ; condemned prayers for the dead, peri- 
odical fasts, and the multitude of ceremonies which were 
already deforming the simplicity of primitive worship : hut 
the taint of Arianism caused him to be regarded as a heretic, 
and threw suspicion on the most commendable of his doc- 

In the same age, Jovinian, a monk of Milan, raised his 
protest against ascetism, denying any disparity of rewards in 
a future world ; he denounced self-imposed austerities, and 
maintained that celibacy is in no respect more pleasing to 
God than matrimony. He was declared a heretic by Syricius 
Bishop of Rome, and Ambrose Bishop of Milan, and con- 
demned by the latter in a council convened at Milan in 
390. And application being made to the Emperor Honorius, 
Jovinian was banished from Italy to the desolate island of 
Boa, off the coast of lUyria. 

In the next century, a Reformer arose of more vigorous 
mind, and more powerful eloquence, Vigilantius, a native of 
Convenae or Lyons, among the eastern roots of the Pyrenees, 
who performed the functions of Presbyter at Barcelona, in 
Spain. He had travelled to Egypt and Palestine, and wit- 
nessed the system of monasticism as there carried to its 
height, and had returned filled with a just disgust of the in- 
flated pietism which he perceived to be the genuine growth 
of self-mortification pursued as a holy discipline. He set 
himself in earnest to the task of exposing the false notions on 
which such superstitious practice rested. He assailed with 
boldness the idea that the relics of martyrs, or the spots 
where they have been entombed, enjoy any peculiar sanctity : 
he condemned burning tapers at their sepulchres as Pagan in 


origin : he derided pilgrimages, periodical fastings, the pre- 
tensions of celibacy as a more holy state of life, prayers to 
departed saints, lying legends of miracles, and the preposter- 
ous doctrine that almsgiving can atone for sin. But the 
reign of darkness had already so far deepened on the Christian 
world, that it was not necessary for a council to be sum- 
moned to extinguish the influence of such scriptural teaching. 
The monk of Bethlehem, in his declamatory style of rabid 
abuse, pronounced Vigilantius a heretic ; and this was enough 
to compel the victim of such denunciation to seek refuge 
from persecution in those sequestered valleys running down 
from the eastern declivities of the Cottian Alps, which were 
destined to prove the fastnesses of Christ^s true Church in the 
outpouring of moral and doctrinal corruptions over the rest 
of Christendom. 

But Augustine Bishop of Hippo, a convert from Manichaeism 
through the excellent example of his mother Monica and the 
preaching of Ambrose, is the greatest name of this period. 
He taught salvation by grace alone, as none had taught it 
since St. Paul ; and he may with justice be esteemed the spi- 
ritual father of Luther and the Reformation. He was raised up 
in God^s providence to be a witness to the truth before the 
grossest doctrinal corruptions had taken firm root, as Luther 
was raised up when the papal church was overshadowed with 
their fullest growth. In the intervening thousand years, what- 
ever true Christianity subsisted within the Roman pale is due 
to the Scriptures or to Augustine their best expositor. And 
it would be as impossible for Rome to reconcile the decrees 
of the Council of Trent with the writings of Augustine, whose 
authority she professes to recognize, as with those of Luther 

Towards the beginning of the ninth century a man of 
apostolical piety is found in those very valleys which had 

B 2 


slieltcred the last days of Vigilantius, whose light shone ao 
briditlv as to be reflected in the Christianity of Piedmont 
long after his decease. Claude was by birth a Spaniard^ and 
from being chaplain to Lewis the Meek was promoted to the 
episcopal office^ and commenced his duties as Bisliop of Turin 
in 823. It was the era in which the contest about images 
was raging with great virulence; and Claude went beyond 
the French divines and the Iconoclast Emperors of Constan- 
tinople in his resistance to image worship, removing from the 
churches throughout his diocese not only images but the 
crucifix and every material of superstition. Image worship 
he accounted idolatry : " My adversaries/^ said he, "have not 
abandoned idols, but have only changed their names." He 
also discouraged the veneration for relics, pilgrimages, the 
doctrines of the merits of saints and their intercession ; he 
denied that the power of the priesthood to bind and loose 
extends beyond this world, and asserted, in reference to the 
Pontiff, that " he is not to be called Apostolic who merely 
occupies the Apostle^s seat, but he who fulfils the functions of 
the Apostle." He diligently studied the Scriptures, and wrote 
commentaries on several of the sacred books, and doubtless 
derived the purity of his doctrine from the source of inspira- 
tion. There was a practical tendency in all his teaching. 
" If," he declared, " a man does not himself persevere in the 
faith, the righteousness, and the truth, in which the Apostles 
persevered, he cannot be saved." But Claude does not stand 
alone at this epoch as a witness for the Gospel. Agobard 
Archbishop of Lyons, as is proved by his writings, shared the 
scriptural faith of the Apostle of Piedmont ; so did Paulinus 
Bishop of Aquileia ; and many others of less note preserved 
in their own hearts and for their flocks the flame of pure 

The name of an independent enquirer in the same century 


must not be altogether omitted. Godeshalcus, a German by 
birth, a monk of Orbais in the diocese of Soissons, broached 
the doctrine of a twofold predestination, of the elect to ever- 
lasting life and of the wicked to everlasting damnation. He 
defended his opinion by the authority of Augustine : but he 
was condemned by Rabanus Maurus, the most famous theo- 
logian of the day, in a council held at Mayence in 848, and he 
was subsequently severely handled by his own Diocesan the 
celebrated Hincraar, Having been subjected to torture of 
protracted duration he was next removed to a convent, where 
he was kept in confinement for twenty years, but without any 
eflfect upon his faith, for he died protesting the truth of the 
tenet for which he had suffered. 

In the next century the darkness of ignorance would seem 
to have settled down with impenetrable gloom on the human 
intellect, and to have reached its extreme verge : but in the 
eleventh century another enquiring mind appears. Berenger 
Archdeacon of Angers, and principal of the public school of 
Tours, impugned the doctrine of transubstantiation, which 
Paschasius Radbert had introduced into the Church about a 
century and a half before, and maintained the real presence 
in the Lord's Supper to be simply spiritual. He was con- 
demned in a council held at Rome in 1050 : and also in two 
councils summoned in France. In a council convened at 
Tours in 1055, when Hildebrand was the legate of Pope 
Victor II,, he was dismissed on signing a statement to the 
effect that he believed in the real presence. Four or five 
years later, in a council held at Rome, Berenger affixed his 
signature to a document affirming transubstantiation in the 
broadest terms. In 1078, in another council under the pon- 
tificate of his friend Gregory VII., he was suffered to escape 
by a profession of faith such as he had before made at Tours ; 
but as this did not satisfy the more bigoted ecclesiastics, in a 


second council at Rome under the same PontiflF, he declared 
his adhesion to transubstantiation to the fullest extent in 
explicit terms. But he continued to inculcate the same doc- 
trine of only a spu'itual presence as before ; and died in 1088 
overwhelmed with the most bitter remorse of conscience in 
that he should ever have denied by mouth a doctrine rooted 
in his heart. With brilliant talents and extensive learning 
he possesses excellent claims to the genius of independent 
thought ; but his faith was too feeble for the patient endurance 
of a martyr. 

The partial revival of letters in the eleventh century was 
continued with increasing success in the twelfth. Universities 
arose, in which learned men lectured ; and the contentions 
about the nature of universals, which occupied the subtle and 
ingenious, could not be pursued without expanding the realm 
of thought, and questions in theology following in the train of 
questions in philosophy. Abelard, Canon of Paris, founder 
of the Paraclete, monk and abbot of Huys, and finally an 
inmate in the monastery of Clugny, is an instance of this. 
He transferred his freedom of thought and subtlety of acumen 
from disputations on matters of logic to religious topics, 
roused against himself the hatred of the intolerant, and par- 
ticularly of St. Bernard, and, in the close of his career, was 
glad of any shelter from persecution. His teaching and 
writings, however, had the effect of exciting enquiry, and 
stimulating others to resist the papal oppression. His dis- 
ciple, Arnold, of Brescia, united the reformer with the patriot, 
insisted on the distinction between civil and spiritual, and 
called on the Pontiff to lay down his temporal dignity, and 
on the clergy to return to the old simplicity and virtue of 
their profession. Somewhat earlier, Peter de Bruys, the 
founder of the sect of Petrobrussians, had laboured to over- 
throw the dominant superstition in Languedoc and Dauphiny. 


He destroyed the crucifix wherever he went, he denied tran- 
substantiation, and ridiculed the notion of the condition of 
the dead being affected by prayers or oblations ; but he carried 
his zeal beyond the limits of orthodoxy, and repudiated 
infant baptism and structures for divine worship. Another 
reformer, Henry, the founder of the Henricians, an Italian 
by birth and a hermit, travelling from Lausanne in Switzer- 
land to Mans, and, on his being banished thence, to Poictiers, 
Bordeaux, and Toulouse, with a tall cross in his hand, 
attracted a concourse of peasants in the villages and towns he 
passed through, to whom he dilated on the avarice and vices 
of the clergy, and censured the festivals and ceremonies, multi- 
plied by the Church for the sake of lucre. Each of these three 
last-mentioned Reformers fell a victim to persecution. Arnold, 
condemned by a Lateran Council in 1139, retired to Zurich, 
where he broke up the ground for the seed of the Gospel, to 
be sown with effect four centuries later by Zwingle; but, 
returning to Home, was crucified there in 1155. Peter de 
Bruys was burnt at St. Giles' in 1130. Henry, overpowered 
by the antagonism of St. Bernard, ended his days in prison. 

A Reformer, whose character and peculiar tenets are better 
knoAvn to history, flourished towards the close of the same 
century. Peter Waldus, or Waldo, was a native of Lyons, 
and, whilst still a Romanist, was so eager for the diffusion of 
Christianity amongst the people, that he had the four Gospels 
and other parts of the sacred writings translated into the vulgar 
tongue; and, through the study of his own versions of Scripture, 
was converted to the truth, and enabled to see the hostility of 
Popery to the Bible. His profession was that of a merchant, and 
he had acquired considerable property ; but he relinquished the 
pursuit of merchandise, dispersed his goods in charity, and con- 
secrated his time and energies to the revival of pure religion. 
The sanctity of his behaviour and the earnestness of his preach- 


ing at first won him many converts in his native place; butj 
after a timCj he iucarred the displeasure of the archbishop, 
and found a retreat from persecution in the valleys of Pied- 
mont; amongst Christians of congenial habits and doctrine, who 
had transmitted unimpaired, father to son, from age to age, 
the scriptural faith of their apostle, Claude of Turin. 

It is jiist at this period in church history that distinct com- 
munities of Christians, acknowledging a faith at variance 
with Romanism and based on Scripture, came more under 
notice. These Waldenses, or Vallenses — that is, inhabitants 
of mountain valleys — or Vaudois, as they are variously called, 
were in possession of a territory adapted by nature to be the 
seed-plot of the Gospel for the rest of Europe. Continually 
subjected to persecution, they found a safeguard against anni- 
hilation in the natural obstacles which environed their Alpine 
recesses ; and persecution so far aided the cause of the Gospel 
that it quickened the tendencies commonly felt by the inha- 
bitants of a poor and mountainous district to migrate to more 
favoured countries, where industry may reap a surer i-eward 
of toil. Thus emigrants from the Vaudois expired at the 
stake in Cologne for their religious steadfastness in 1140; at 
the commencement of the thirteenth century, the number of 
Vaudois in Germany provoked a persecution from Frederic 
II ; a hundred and fourteen Vaudois were burnt at Paris in 
1304 ; there was a numerous colony of them in Treves witli 
regular schools and recognised teachers, between 1330 and 
1390; the Turlupins, or companions of the wolves in Flanders, 
were Vaudois, or converts to the doctrines which the exiled 
Protestants of the Alps everywhere carried with them : and 
in 1370 a Vaudois colony was planted in Calabria. The 
original district over which Waldensian doctrine circulated 
extended on either side of the Alps, penetrating the fastnesses 
of the Pyrenees, to the west, and traversing the plains of 


Lombardy to the east ; and hence they are sometimes called 
the poor men of Lyons, and sometimes the poor men of 
Lombardy, although this distinction appears to be more than 
local, since the former, it is stated, entertained communist 
notions on the subject of property which were not found 
among the latter. In their own valleys, or in the countries to 
which they wandered, they retained a fast rooted antipathy to 
Popery. The Pope they termed Antichrist and his prelates 
Simonists ; and the ancient verse record of their faith in the 
language of the Troubadours, La Nobla Leczyon, composed 
in 1099, is a conclusive demonstration of the scriptural excel- 
lence of the articles of their creed at that early date. If 
credit is due to their own historians, the Vaudois, as a reli- 
gious society, are earlier than the time of Claude, and sepa- 
rated from the Latin Church at the era when, by the conver- 
sion of Constantine, wealth, as poison, flowed into its bosom, 
introducing luxury among its members, vitiating the primitive 
purity of the Christian life, and, by rapid consequence, per- 
verting the principles of the faith " once delivered unto the 
the saints." 

But the most important emigration from this " persecuted 
but not forsaken" remnant of the Apostolic Church remains 
to be spoken of. In 1176 a colony of Waldenses migrated 
to Bohemia, and formed a settlement on the river Eger ; and 
in this new land they discovered, according to Moravian 
writers, a community of Christians attached to the Greek 
ritual, Avlio had been struggling for upwards of two centuries 
against the papal prescription. They coalesced with such 
congenial minds, and formed an united religious body. The 
metropolis, as it were, of these confederate Christians, con- 
tinued to be in Piedmont, whither such as were intended for 
the ministry were despatched to pursue their studies, and to 
be trained for their spiritual labours. The zeal of the frater- 


nity was active and influential ; their missions embraced 
Hungary, Brandenburg, Pomerania, England, and yet more 
distant countries ; and in lapse of time their teaching was 
not without its effect on some of the priests of the Roman 
communion in their neighbourhood. 

Thus a principal stream which irrigated with life some 
parts of the barren sohtude of the Western Church, sprang 
from the Cottian Alps. In the eastern division of the great 
Koman Empire a kindred stream may be traced in very early 
times, less pure in its origin, but filtered and purified in its 
course, the windings of which were very tortuous, its tri- 
butaries widely dispersed, until it would seem to mingle with 
different branches from the chief current of European Pro- 
testantism. The Paulicians were to be found among the 
villages and mountains bordering on the Euphrates in the 
seventh century, a proscribed religious sect ; stigmatised by 
the Greek Church as tainted with Gnostic or Manichsean 
heresy. But one of their members, Constantine, who after- 
wards took the name of Sylvanus, received from a stranger, 
a deacon, to whom he had given lodging in his return from 
Syrian captivity, as a token of gratitude for his hospitable 
treatment, a copy of the New Testament. Constantine read 
it with careful study, and communicated its contents to his 
Armenian fellow exiles, to whom it imparted a new and cor- 
rect view of the doctrines of the Gospel, and by whom it was 
ever afterwards appealed to as the only standard of Christian 
truth, as well as employed as the chief means of propagating 
their own sentiments. Hence the name of the community, 
Paulicians, as those who embraced with especial ardour the 
doctrines insisted on by the Apostle Paul in his epistles. 
They endured continued persecution from the Greek Church 
and Emperor. Under Theodora a strict inquisition was made 
for them throughout Lesser Asia, and as many as a hundred 


thousand, according to the boast of the orthodox, were put to 
death by the order of that Empress. But these severities 
produced retaliation ; and the Paulicians used the sword for 
some time with considerable success, but lost in the profes- 
sion of arms much of the Christian character which had pre- 
viously distinguished them. In the eighth century they are 
found in Thrace in close friendship with other Armenians 
differing from them in faith. In the thirteenth century his- 
tory records their appearance in Croatia, Dalmatia, Italy, and 
France, still in their varied adventures and trials retaining 
something of their ancient faith, and equally distinct from 
the Greek Church and the Latin. 

The Paulicians appeared in the largest numbers at the be- 
ginning of the thirteenth century in the south of France, to 
which the access was easy from Thrace, Constantinople, and 
Italy ; and there combining with members of the Vaudois 
Church and some remnants of the Petrobrussians and Hen- 
ricians, they formed the Albigenses, so named, as some suppose, 
from the town of Albigia or Albi; or, as others conjecture, 
from the term Albigensium, by which the south of France was 
designated in the middle ages. The Albigenses went com- 
monly by the name of Paulicians, or Publicans, the latter 
probably a corruption of the former ; Bulgarians, Paterini, 
from a certain place called Pataria, Cathari or Gazari {i.e. 
Puritans), andBoni Homines. The descriptions of them have 
come down exclusively from their adversaries, and are there- 
fore instructive chiefly by implication ; and it does not appear 
that they were like the Flagellants, the Dancers, the Bianchi 
of Italy, and other sects of the period, mere fanatics ; but on 
the contrary, from the favour of the Counts of Toulouse, under 
whom they lived, that they were eminent for the pacific 
virtues of settled industry. It was not long, however, before 
the hue and cry of heresy was raised, and Innocent III. sent 


his emissaries, amongst them Dominic, the founder of the 
Dominicans, charged with the work of extirpation. The papal 
functionaries bore the title of Inquisitors : the roving commis- 
sion was soon altered to a standing local tribunal ; the simple 
forms of judicial enquiry yielded their place to the most re- 
fined subtleties; and from the crucible of bigotry and intoler- 
ance finally came forth the tribunal of the Inquisition. The 
secular arm was further called to the aid of the spiritual ; and 
Simon de Montford, one half a selfish politician, and the other 
half a relentless fanatic, omitted no article of sanguinary 
cruelty in obeying the behests of the Church. So complete 
was the extermination, that in the middle of the thirteenth 
century it would have been a task of difficulty to find an 

The destruction of the Albigenses was a signal triumph for 
Rome, and a disheartening retrospect to the narrow band of 
Reformers on the summit of the Alps; so much so, that, 
either from the zeal of the opponents of the Papacy being 
calmed, or the vengeance of Rome slaked, the Waldenses had 
a lengthened respite from persecution. But the century 
which succeeded to this wholesale martyrdom was very dark, 
feebly illumined by a scattered name or two of Christian 
worth, such as that of Gross-teste Bishop of Lincoln, who 
refused to institute an Italian boy to a benefice at the Pope^s 
bidding, and is reported on his deathbed to have pronounced 
the Pope to be Antichrist. The demand from without for a 
Church Reformation had been quenched in the blood of 
hundreds of thousands : but the demand was in itself so well 
gi'ouuded, that an attempt for a revival was made from within, 
and the four orders of friars rose upon the ruined reputation 
of the monks, bound to a holy life by the additional obligation 
of poverty. But from the bosom of this new papistical insti- 
tution, framed to consolidate the power of Rome, and generally 


truly subservient to that purpose^ tliere proceeded devout and 
humble minds, who, from their earnestness in religion, were 
soon placed in antagonism to Rome. To many of the Fran- 
ciscan order the regulation of their founder imposing absolute 
poverty appeared needlessly severe : and application was made 
to the Pontiff, not without effect, to relax its stringency. But 
another party of the Franciscans were resolved to adhere, in 
opposition both to the Pope and their brother friars, to the 
plain literal construction of their founder's will. One section 
of these dissentients remained in outward union with the 
Franciscan body, and were only distinguished from the rest 
by the appellation of Spirituals. The Fratricelli, however, 
went farther ; and separating themselves from the degenerate 
Franciscans altogether, formed establishments of their own, 
repudiating not merely any right of property in possessions, 
but even the use, and consistently with this principle, sup- 
porting themselves by alms begged from door to door. In 
addition to these, there were the Tertiaries, a secular fraternity 
who followed the third rule of St. Francis, which imposed the 
same rigid obligation on them as on the regulars of their order, 
with the exception of the vow of celibacy. All these three 
classes of dissentients emanating from the Franciscan com- 
munity, believed for the most part in a book entitled, "^ The 
Everlasting Gospel," commonly ascribed to the famous Abbot 
Joachim, the chief subject of the revelations of which referred 
to the coming lleformation of the Church. An explanatory 
introduction was prefixed to this work by Gerhard, one of the 
Spirituals, in which the definite assertion was advanced, that 
the anticipated Reformation would be brought about by the 
preaching of humble and barefooted friars, destitute of every 
worldly possession. In the contest between the Pope and the 
Emperor Louis of Bavaria, many of the Franciscan Spirituals 
took refup;e with the latter ; and among them the celebrated 


William Occam, a native of a village of the same name in 
Surrey, who did not refrain from venting his antipathy to the 
Papacy in the keenest satire. There were, paoreover, in Flanders, 
many societies both of men and women, resembling in their 
organization the Tertiaries of St, Francis, who appropriated to 
themselves an appellation derived from the Canticles, of the 
" Vineyard of the Lord.'' And many of these societies of lay 
brethren and sisters, called Cellites, from living in cells, and 
Alexians, from their patron saint Alexius, bestowed much 
attention, about the beginning of the fourteenth century, on 
visiting the sick, particularly such as were afflicted with the 
plague, whom the clergy were afraid to approach ; and they 
were accustomed to lay in the graves the corpses of such as 
had died of pestilence, accompanying their charitable act with 
muttering a low funeral dirge. Hence the term Lollard, or 
singer, which became co-extensive with Beghard,"^ the proper 
appellation of the Franciscan Tertiaries ; and the English 
Beghards were more generally styled Lollards. There may 
have been much of error as well as of truth mixed up in the 
notions of these religionists ; and the records of them trans- 
mitted by the pens of opponents charge them with many 
heresies ; but the devotedness of life shown by at least numerous 
members of their societies argue a sincere desire to know and 
do the truth, which God does not often leave unenlightened or 
in fatal error ; and the assiduity with which the Dominicans 
fed the fires of the Inquisition with such inoffensive victims, 
is another testimony to their worth. 

What was the tendency of the opinions entertained on 
religion by the Lollards or Beghards, as all those were called 
who professed more than ordinary sanctity, (just as the term 
Methodist has been applied in later times,) is best evidenced by 

* Bcghard denoted prayerful, devout, and also subsist in o^ hy begging 


the life and tenets of a Reformer, greater than any of his prede- 
cessors, who earned the title of the " Apostle of the Lollards." 
John de Wycliffe was born in the north of England, in the 
village of Wycliffe, in Yorkshire, and of an ancient family, in 
1324 ; and first brought himself into notice by a tract, entitled 
" Able Beggary," directed against the mendicant friars, the 
devoted and most active abettors of the papal pretensions. 
In 1361, Wycliffe was presented to the living of Fillingham, 
in Lincolnshire ; and, later in the same year, was advanced 
to the wardenship of Baliol College. In 1365 he was made 
Master of Canterbmy Hall, which, as Fuller says, has " since 
like a tributary brook, been swallowed up in the vastness of 
Christ Church."'^ But the death of his patron, Simon de 
Islep Archbishop of Canterbury, taking place not many months 
afterwards, Peter Langham — who had been a monk himself, 
and therefore espoused the monastic and mendicant cause in 
opposition to the universities and secular clergy — was elevated 
to the primacy, and removed Wycliffe from his mastership, in 
which he reinstated Woodhall, the previous master, whom 
Simon de Islep had degraded for his contentions and refrac- 
tory spirit. Against this act of the new Prinvite Wycliffe 
appealed to the Pope ; but he did not on that account in any 
measure recede from the bold defence of the universities and 
clergy against the monks and friars, in which he was embarked. 
Indeed, while the cause was pending, the refusal of Edward 
III. to pay to the Pontiff the tribute which John had agreed 
to pay annually to the Holy See, in recognition of feudal 
submission, was defended by Wycliffe against a monk who 
had written a tract on the pontifical side, and challenged the 
Reformer to answer him. But this high-spirited conduct de- 
termined the verdict of Urban V. Wycliffe, however, was com- 

* Cluircli History of Britain, I., p. 439. 


prusuted for tlic deprivation of his mastership of Canterbury 
Hall by being raised by the University of Oxford to the chair 
of Professor of Theology. An enlarged sphere of usefulness 
was thus opened to liira, in which he laboured with great 
energy, enlightening the age by his writings and lectures. It 
is not exactly known by what means Wycliffe had obtained 
the patronage of John of Gaunt, but probably by his defence 
of the King against the Pope, Avhich had also led to his being 
appointed a royal chaplain; and the joint efforts of the duke 
and the chaplain were directed to the laudable object of separat- 
ing the spiritual and the temporal, and confining the attention 
of ecclesiastics to the charge of their own flocks. In 1374, 
Wycliffe was chosen one of the delegates to treat with the 
papal commissioners on restraining within certain bounds the 
patronage of the Pontiff"; for the statutes against provisors, 
and other eff'orts of the king and parliament, had proved in- 
sufficient to prevent or eff'ectually abate the evil. The nego- 
eiations were carried on at Bruges. Had Avignon itself 
been the theatre of the discussions, the display of papal sen- 
suality and iniquity would have been more complete ; but the 
Reformer sajv enough in the dealings of the commissioners to 
conceive a more rooted hostility to Rome than before ; and 
ever afterwards he denounced the Pope as unequivocally " the 
Antichrist." He was not forgotten by the king in his 
absence, but was presented first to the prebend of Aust, in 
the collegiate church of Westbury, in the diocese of Wor- 
cester, and soon afterwards to the rectory of Lutterworth, in 
Lincolnshire. It appeal's that he did not return to En^-land 
until 1376 ; and, in the meantime, William of Wykeham 
Courtney, and the party of the prelates, had contrived so far 
to excite the resentment of the public against John of Gaunt 
that an attack upon Wycliffe was deemed practicable. In the 
commencement of 1377 he was simimoned on the charge of 


erroneous and heretical opinions to appear before his ecclesi- 
astical superiors in St. PauFs, and the 19tli February was 
fixed for his defence. He entered the place of trial accompa- 
nied by Lord Percy the Earl Marshal, and by John of 
Gaunt, whose protection was regarded by the prelates as 
intrusive; and, in the altercation which ensued, Percy insisted 
that WyclifiPe should be seated before his judges, and the Duke 
used language to the effect that he would humble the pride of 
the whole prelacy of England. The Londoners, according to 
Walsingham, were all Lollards ; but the faction of the bishops, 
taking advantage of the unpopularity of John of Gaunt, was 
able to excite a tumult, which proceeded to acts of violence 
and bloodshed ; and thus the affair of Wycliffe's trial ter- 
minated for the present. But, in the July following, bulls 
were received from the Pope, by which Wycliffe was pro- 
nounced a heretic of a similar grade to John of Ghent (John 
de Ganduno) and Marcillus of Padua ;* and he was summoned 
by the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, but not with- 
out some reluctance, to answer to the charges made against 
him before his superiors, in the chapel of Lambeth. But on 
this occasion, no political feelings intervening to turn aside 
the bias of public sentiment on religion, the populace with a 
menacing air surrounded the chapel. Sir Louis Clifford, in 
the name of the Queen Mother, forbade the proceedings ; 
and the bishops, in no little alarm, desisted from their attempt. 
The Grand Schism which followed, in 1379, allowed the 
Reformer a respite from persecution, and enabled him to 
undertake and accomplish his most important work — of trans- 
lating, by the aid of expository comments, not only the New 
Testament but the whole Bible, from the Vulgate into 
English ; and, at the same time, added to the vigour with 

* They placed the civil above the ecclesiastical authority. 
VOL. 1. C 


which he composed and published popular religious tracts, 
drawing attention to the goodness of Christ, " who hath begun 
already to help us graciously, in that he hath clove the head 
of Antichrist." But these labours brought on a severe sick- 
ness, in which, stretched upon his bed at Oxford, he was 
visited by representatives of the orders of friars and some 
city aldermen, who admonished him to think of his approach- 
ing end, and repent of his ways ; upon which Wychffe, haviog 
been bolstered up in bed by his attendants, exclaimed, " I 
shall not die, but live, and shall again declare the evil deeds 
of the friars." This prediction proved true ; and he was 
enabled not only to resume his sermons and lectures, but his 
itinerant instruction to the scattered peasantry, amongst 
whom his venerable appearance in his plain garb and long 
frieze gown, and simple but powerful style of eloquence, 
gained him great influence ; and such as he could not visit 
himself, he found means of enlightening in the principles of 
the Gospel by the agency of his "poor priests," who preached 
in churches, markets, fairs, and wherever they could find an 
auditory. In the spring of 1381 he gave great prominence 
in his university lectures to his denial of the doctrine of 
transubstantiation, asserting that the sacramental elements 
are " not Christ nor any part of him, but an effectual sign of 
him." This attack on the centre point of the Romish system 
aroused the full enmity of his opponents. His teaching was 
first prohibited by the authorities of his university, from whom 
he appealed to the civil power, employing himself in the 
interval before the meeting of Parliament in composing the 
treatise known as " Wycliftc's Wicket," in which he arraigned 
the monstrous absurdity of pretending that " the thing which 
is not God to-day shall be God to-morrow; yea, that the 
thing which is without spirit of life, but groweth in the field 
by nature, shall another time be God ! " Just at this pei'iod, 


by the death of Simon Sudbury, the bigoted Courtney was 
appointed Archbishop of Canterbury ; and in May, 1382, a 
few days before the Parliament met, convoked a synod famous 
as the Council of the " herydene," or earthquake, by which 
its proceedings were for a moment interrupted, which con- 
demned twenty-four articles extracted from Wycliffe^s writings, 
ten as heresies, and the rest as errors. The crown and the 
mitre were for a while united in sentiment at this juncture, 
and a bill passed the Lords, but not the Commons, and 
received the royal sanction, which is the fir^t iVct to be found 
among the English statutes for the suppression of heresy. 
Even John of Gaunt, the patron of Chaucer, and up to this 
time of Wycliffe, who had strained every nerve to confine 
within narrower limits the domination of Rome, drew back 
from alliance with a man who had dared to assail a principal 
dogma of the faith. But before persecution could wreak its 
vengeance on his head, Wycliffe was mercifully released from 
his trials and his labours, which had never been checked by 
the resistance opposed to them. As he was raising the chalice 
in solemnization of the Lord's Supper, in his church of Lut- 
terworth, he was struck by paralysis, and expired on the last 
day of the year 1384; his enemies imputing his death to the 
divine judgment, and his friends regarding it as a special 
mark of divine love, that the death stroke fell when he was 
in the act of performing the highest function of the Christian 

None of the preceding Reformers had attained in any 
measure to Wyclifi'e's celebrity : and his opinions were so 
singularly enlightened that, if not in the words which he em- 
ployed to communicate them, yet in the reality of his mean- 
ing, they fell but little short of the sum of Christian truth. 
He insisted strongly in his teaching on Augustine's great 
points, the depravity of man, and the grace through Christ; 

c 3- 


he bowed submissively before no authority save tliat of Scrip- 
ture : he rejected transubstantiation, monasticism, and the 
whole religion of ceremonial : he characterised pardons and 
indulgences as " a subtle merchandise of anticliristian clerks, 
causing men to wallow in sin like hogs:" he repudiated 
auricular confession ; asserted the simply ministerial character 
of priestly absolution ; disdained excommunications and in- 
terdicts ; and maintained that bishops and priests belonged 
originally to the same order. He did indeed retain the seven 
sacraments, but understood the term in a very lax sense, as 
appears from his observation, that " the baptism of water pro- 
fiteth not without the baptism of the Spirit." It must be 
imputed to the austere and melancholy Aiews, which the evils 
of the times forced upon him, that he spoke of music in 
divine worship as unsuitable " in this valley of tears ; " to the 
vices of the clergy, that he regarded tithes merely as alms; 
and to the worldly pride of the prelates, that he could see 
little else in confirmation than means of episcopal aggrandise- 
ment. He objected to oaths on whatever occasion as profane ; 
and warmly advocated peace. Of the Pope he spoke as that 
" evil manslayer, poisoner, and burner of the servants of 
Christ, the root of all the misgovernance in the Church:" and 
he subjected the property and conduct of ecclesiastics to the 
award of civil tribunals ; and looked to the State as in right 
and duty bound to reform the Church. His opinions on 
many subjects were much like guesses after truth; and he 
may be viewed as occupying something of the same position 
in relation to subsequent Reformers which Roger Bacon 
occupied in reference to the philosophers of a more favoured 
era : and, according to human judgment, it sufficiently ex- 
plains his failure to accomplish the object of his labours and 
of his life, that his genius and knowledge shot so far beyond 
the confined notions and servile principles of his age. 


As has already been shown, side bj side with the true 
Church of Christ protesting against Rome, attempts were 
continually making from within the papal fold, not to reform 
the doctrines, but to reform the corrupt morality which was 
jeopardizing doctrines and the worldly interests of which the 
doctrines were the palladium. Had Wycliffe inveighed as 
exclusively as he did severely against the manners of the 
times, and particularly of the ecclesiastical order, he would 
.have been the precursor of such men as Peter D^Ailli, Cle- 
mangis, and John Gerson, and would have ended his career in 
the favour of the powerful and the repute of the world. 
Gerson, the oracle of the Councils of Pisa and Constance, de- 
nounced in an equally bold tone the laxity of ecclesiastical 
morals and the infamy of the Pontiffs; but he placed the 
decisions of Councils in the stead of Scripture, the Church, as 
he termed the Latin Apostacy, in that of Christ; and whilst 
in one sentence he vigorously called for a Reformation of the 
Church, in the next he consigned those true Reformers, who 
had probed the evil deeper than himself, to the dungeon or 
the stake. 

But it has been beautifully said of the remains of Wycliffe, 
which, by a decree of the Council of Constance, were exhumed 
from their resting-place more than forty years after inter- 
ment, and thrown into the adjoining brook : — " The brook 
did convey his ashes into Avon: Avon into Severn : Severn 
into the narrow seas : they into the main ocean. And thus the 
ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrines, which now 
are dispersed all the world over.'^ The transit of Wy differs 
tenets and writings to Bohemia was facilitated by the return 
of the ladies of the court of the good Queen of the ill-fated 
Richard II., Anne of Bohemia, after her demise, to their 
native land : and the communication was kept open by 
Bohemian noblemen resorting to Oxford, where the disciples 


of the Reformer were still numerous, and by Oxford students 
travelling to Bohemia. The influence which a great man 
always exerts was exemplified most powerfully in the history 
of an eminent Reformer and Martyr, a pupil of Wycliffe by 
the study of his writings, who next rose up in this very 
country, watered of old and prepared to receive with fruitful 
energy the seed wafted from England. 

John Hussinitz or Huss, so called from the rural -sdllage of his 
birth, was remarkable for a pale thoughtful face, an attenuated 
form, and a gentleness and affability of address which scarcely 
less than his eloquence gained him the good will of all ranks. 
In 1400 he was appointed confessor to Sophia of Bavaria, the 
Queen of Bohemia : a year later he became President or 
Dean of the philosophical faculty in the University of Prague : 
in 1409 he was raised to be Rector of that University: but 
for some years previously his sermons in the chapel of Beth- 
lehem, delivered in the language of his countrymen, had 
begun to attract great attention. In these sermons he solemnly 
declared that the doctrines of "Wycliffe were the sum of 
truth, and expressed his devout wish that on quitting this life 
his soul might pass to the same region as that in which the 
soul of Wycliffe had its dwelling-place. The clergy of Bo- 
hemia at first had not shown themselves unfavourable to 
IIuss, but as his character expanded, and his doctrinal system 
developed, they conceived a stronger and stronger dislike to 
him, and combining as against a heretic accused him to 
John XXIII. , by whom he was summoned to stand his trial 
at Rome. The papal mandate was disregarded and contemned. 
The case was next taken up by the Council of Constance, 
which among its earliest acts ordered John Huss to appear 
before it ; and a safe-conduct from the Emperor Sigismund 
seemed to preclude the idea of danger to his person. Huss, 
who set a very different value on the authority of the Pontiff 


aud that of a General Council, obeyed the requisition of the 
latter with alacrity, and, confident in the justice of his cause, 
addressed letters to his opponents, challenging them to meet 
him face to face at Constance. But within a month after his 
arrival he was thrown into prison : on the 14th May, 1415, 
the writings and the bones of WyclifFe were condemned to 
the flames : and it shortly afterwards was made apparent that 
Sigismund's safe-conduct would only prevail so far as to pro- 
cure Huss the mockery of a trial. From the Council Huss 
appealed to Jesus Christ ; but this they declared was in deri- 
sion of ecclesiastical authority ; and they registered their de- 
cision that a promise given to a heretic is not binding. The 
process of deprivation of the priestly office was formally carried 
through. Huss was dressed in his full canonical robes with 
the communion cup in his hands : the cup was first taken out 
of his hands ; then his robes were stripped off" him : a cap 
with " heresiarch " inscribed on it in large letters was put on 
his head : after which his sentence was read, and his soul 
consigned to the infernal devils, and he was finally led away 
to the stake. His last words were, " Lord Jesus, I endure 
with humility this cruel death for thy sake : and I pray thee 
to pardon all my enemies." His ashes were thrown into the 
Lake of Constance. 

But another victim was requu'ed to satiate the orthodox 
vengeance of a Council convened on the business of E/cform. 
Jerome, the disciple of Huss, Master in Theology and Lec- 
turer in the University of Prague, was accused of entertaining 
the same theological principles as his Bector, and cited to 
Constance to answer to the accusation. His first appearance 
before the Council was on the 23rd May, when his constancy 
stood proof against every demand of retractation. On June 14, 
it was decided that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper should 
be administered in one kind only, in opposition to the Bohemian 


practice : and in the beginning of July Huss suffered martyr- 
dom. These acts of the Council daunted the courage of 
Jerome : and on his second appearance he wavered in his re- 
plies; and on the third formally recanted, anathematizing all 
heresies and especially those of Wycliffe and Huss. But he 
was nevertheless reconsigned to prison ; and Gerson published 
a tract intended to cast suspicion on the revocation of their 
tenets by heretics. JNIcanwliile better feelings were re-awak- 
ened in Jerome's breast. He earnestly and repeatedly solicited 
to be taken once more before the Council, and on this request 
beiug complied with, on the 23rd May 1416 he revoked his 
former guilty recantation, and openly declared that it had 
been wrung from him against his convictions by the appre- 
hension of a painful death. Seven days afterwards he suffered 
on the same spot on which Huss had sealed his testimony with 
his blood. But as if to evince his shame at the weakness of 
his earlier conduct, he ordered the executioner to kindle the 
fire not behind his back but full before his face, and as the 
flames ascended he imitated Huss in chaunting a hymn with 
devout joy until the power of speech failed him. 

The followers of Huss, incensed at the barbarous murder of 
their spiritual father in the teeth of the imperial safe-conduct, 
retired to a high mountain, to which they gave the name of 
Thabor, whence they themselves obtained the designation of 
Thaborites. They celebrated the holy communion in both 
kinds in the most solemn manner; and took up arms in de- 
fence of their faith, first under Nicholas de Hussinet, afterwards 
of the famous John Zisca, and on his decease, of Procopius 
Rasa. For some time their warlike operations were signally 
successful, but at length their unhappy division into two par- 
ties, the Calixtines, who expressed themselves satisfied with 
retaining the use of the cup in the eucliarist, and the Thaborites 
more strictly so called, who extended their views to a General 


Reform^ sowed the seeds of disaster and finally of defeat. In 
1433 tlie Council of Basle condescended to negociate with 
heretics who had proved their skill in the use of the sword. 
In 1436 a concordat was arranged between them and the 
Emperor Sigismuud; but the Pontiff would hear of no com- 
promise, and refused to confirm the appointment of Rokysan 
a Calixtine to the See of Prague. In 1451 J^neas Sylvius, the 
liberal Cardinal, and afterwards as Pius II. the intolerant Pope, 
visited the Hussites, but with no effectual result. The hopes 
of union with the Greek Church which Rokysan and the 
Bohemians had formed were overthrown together with Con- 
stantinople itself in 1453 ; and in 1466 Paul II. excommuni- 
cated the Bohemian monarch, proclaimed a transfer of his 
sceptre to Corvinus the son of Hunniades, and diverted the 
arms levied against the Turks to the extirpation of heresy. 
But persecution and presumption failed of their object. 
Gradually, however, the resistance to Homish pretensions lan- 
guished into indifference : even party denominations became 
lost : only a remnant survived whom the sword had not quelled 
and whose zeal for truth had not been extinguished by the 
more powerful agency of the surrounding indiflFerence. Be- 
lieved of adherents never more than partially enlightened as to 
religious truth, this devoted remnant obtained a settlement in 
the Lordship of Lititz, a domain laid waste by war on the 
boundary of Silesia and Moravia ; and here they remodelled 
their doctrines by the standard of Scripture, and established 
themselves in a Christian society, to which they gave the name 
of the United Bohemian or Moravian Brethren ; and to mark 
their sympathy with the Christians in the Alpine valleys, their 
first bishop, Matthew, was ordained by the Waldensian Bishop 
Stephen. Congregations rapidly sprung up throughout Bo- 
hemia and Moravia in connexion with this " Uuitas fratrum : " 
missions were formed : and the new colony grew to a thriving 


religious community, the centre of light to their neighbour- 
hood, and even the more distant parts of Germany. So much 
was this the case that their tenets engaged the attention of 
Leo X. in 1513, and he invited their delegates to bear a share 
in the deliberations of the fifth Lateran Council. And thus 
when Luther sounded the notes of evangelical truth a few 
years later, he drew to his banner amongst the foremost, Bo- 
hemian and Moravian Christians, who amidst doctrinal cor- 
ruptions on all sides, had ftiithfully repudiated the mass, 
transubstantiation, purgatory, image worship, prayers for the 
dead, the authority of Councils, and the usurpation of the 

It is now necessary to retrace the steps to England, and 
there behold a Reformer like Huss, animated with a firm 
faith in the doctrines of Wycliffe and the Scriptures, and, 
like the Bohemian prophet, adorned too with the crown of 
martyrdom. Sir John Oldcastle, or Lord Cobham, was one 
of the most popular noblemen in England, equally a favourite 
with Henry V. and with the people ; but at a period when a 
newly established throne required clerical support, and there- 
fore loose reins had been given to the prelates, he had distin- 
guished himself by his ardour in opposing intolerance in his 
place in Parliament, and had, moreover, laboured to instruct 
the multitude by disseminating WyclifFe's writings, and em- 
ploying the more gifted of his disciples as preachers. The 
prelates accused him of heresy to his sovereign, and in a pri- 
vate interview with Henry, Cobham was so bold, or so indis- 
creet, as to declare, " As sure as God's word is true, it is 
fully evident to me that the Pope is the great Antichrist fore- 
told in Holy Writ.'' He was summoned to appear before 
the Archbishop, and disregarding the summons, was excom- 
municated. He now took alarm, and waited upon the king 
with a written statement of his opinions; but at this very 


moment the summoner entered the apartment, and cited him 
to appear before the Archbishop. With the precipitancy of 
his temperament he exclaimed, " Since I have no other 
justice I appeal to the Court of Rome." Indignant at the 
aftront, Henry commanded that he should be immediately 
conveyed to the Tower. In two successive trials which fol- 
lowed he behaved with the elevation of his character, de- 
claiming against clerical avarice and vice, asserting the real 
presence in the eucharist, but not " materially,^^ and main- 
taining that the Romish communion constituted no part of 
the Church of Christ. He was of course condemned as a 
heretic, but in the interval before the execution of the sen- 
tence effected his escape into Wales. At this point Henry V. 
seemed disposed to let the matter sink into oblivion, and 
leave Cobham in the obscurity of the Welsh valleys : but the 
clergy were actuated by the virulence of disappointed blood- 
hounds who had suffered the prey to escape from their teeth. 
They feigned a conspiracy of the Lollards, with Cobham at 
its head, against the royal authority, and so wrought on the 
king's irascible mood, as to induce him with a few armed 
attendants to set upon an assembly of Lollards congregated 
in St. Giles' Fields for prayer, or some harmless object, whose 
numbers sacerdotal artifice had swelled to twenty thousand. 
Twenty were killed, and sixty taken prisoners ; but what was 
more to prelatical taste, a price was set on Cobham^s head. 
For four years his vigilance baffled the arts of his pursuers ; 
but at last, captured by the exertions of Lord Powis, he 
suffered the double punishment which a recent Act of Par- 
liament attached to the crime with which he was charged : 
he was hung in chains, and, a fire being kindled under the 
gibbet, consumed to ashes. The severity of the law against 
heresy was again increased ; but notwithstanding the san- 
guinary decrees of the king and his parliament, Lollardism 


grew and multiplied, and England, as a nation, welcomed the 
Gospel more and more, which her rulers despised. 

Towards the close of the fifteenth century the light was 
becoming more and more distinct in the horizon, harbinger- 
in<i- the dawn. Heretofore the Reformers of note had been 


" few and far between f now many appeared at one time, 
and almost every land could boast its own luminary. In 
1479 John of Wesalia taught at Erfurth the futility of 
indulgences, of the holy chrism, pilgrimages, and fast days, 
and expatiated on the worthlessness of Pope, Bishops, and 
Clergy, as instruments of salvation. John Wesselus of Gro- 
ningen, denominated "the light of the world,^' taught the 
same truths with greater force and genius ; so much so, that 
his works were subsequently edited by Luther, who says of 
him, " He lived without blood and contention, and this is the 
only thing in which he differed from me.^^ It is a character- 
istic trait, that when Wesselus was asked by his friend Pope 
Sixtus IV. what he should do for him, he requested the pre- 
sent of a Greek and a Hebrew Bible. Spain too possessed 
her Reformer in Peter Osma, of Salamanca : and France in 
John Laillier, Licentiate in Theology at Paris. 

But the Italian Savonarola so far eclipsed all the other 
Reformers of the era immediately preceding Luther, that his 
actions, opinions, and fate deserve a more lengthened notice. 
Born at Ferrara in 1452, Jerome Savonarola entered a 
Domincan convent in 1475, and was early initiated into the 
doctrines of grace, as taught by Augustine, and derived from 
the Scriptures. His first attempts in pulpit eloquence were 
unsuccessful, in consequence of the tenuity of his voice, the 
effect of which was not diminished by a feeble bodily consti- 
tution and a stature rather below the ordinary. But with 
great pains he surmounted these physical difficulties ; and 
subsequently the peculiarity of his appearance, a delicate 


frame, lofty and deeply furrowed forehead, brilliant blue eyes, 
aquiline nose, and fingers so emaciated as, held before the 
light, to resemble transparency, are spoken of as adding to 
the influence, and giving a kind of ethereal charm to a rapid 
enunciation and the impassioned glow of eloquence, which 
was regarded by many, and by himself, as inspiration. Having 
been mentioned with high encomium by Pico della Mirandula 
to Lorenzo de Medici, he became Prior of the convent of San 
Marco, at Florence. The burden of his pulpit denunciations 
was the iniquity of the times, which must shortly call down 
divine vengeance : " The sword of the Lord upon the earth, 
soon and sudden.^' In August, 1489, he commenced an 
exposition of the Revelation of St. John, his favourite apostle, 
as the Apocalypse was his favourite book, in the convent 
garden, under a canopy of Damascus roses, to an immense 
audience, which numbered the gay and the recluse, the igno- 
rant and the learned. But to the mystic and ascetic he added 
the character of the unyielding republican. Lorenzo de 
Medici admired his powers and his probity, and desired his 
familiarity and friendship ; frequently he walked in the con- 
vent garden alone, having intimated his presence by a trusty 
messenger to the prior; but Savonarola persisted in avoid- 
ing his society. At last, upon his deathbed, Lorenzo sent for 
the Prior of San Marco. After the commendation of the 
sick man to the Divine clemency, and instilling religious 
consolation, Savonarola asked " if he had a strong and living 
faith?" ''Yes," was Lorenzo's ready answer. "You must 
also," continued the monk, " part from all sin, repent, and 
restore whatever you have wrongfully taken, or you cannot 
be saved." Lorenzo promised so to do. " Wilt thou, then," 
urged the intrepid prior, "restore liberty to Florence?" Tlie 
dying man shook his head, the demand was too great, and the 
negative being still returned to the rej)ented question, Savona- 


rola abruptly left the palace without administering the last 
sacraments. When Charles VIII. of France invaded Ital.y, 
Savonarola appeared in his presence with his characteristic 
fortitude, and, in his capacity of prophet, assured the king 
that he had foretold his advent, and warned him to restrain 
the licentiousness of his soldiers, and to act as God's agent 
for the regeneration of the Church of Italy. Amid his own 
religious society his efforts as a Reformer had already been 
exerted with success ; and two convents, that of San Marco 
at Florence and another at Fiesole, separated from the Lom- 
bard congregation, professed the rigid rule of St, Dominic. 
But on Charles VIII. quitting Florence, the monk came for- 
ward in the new character of civil legislator ; and, although 
none had been a more staunch opponent of the Medici in 
their period of prosperity, one of his earliest endeavours was 
to repress every thought of vengeance, and procure a perfect 
amnesty. The image present to his aspirations was "■ Florence 
a spiritual city, a divine state, a Christian democracy," or 
rather a theocracy. The ancient Church, he was wont to 
tell his auditors, had a roof of gold, porticoes of the finest 
marble, and pavement of mosaic; but now the glory of the 
primitive building was displaced by a fabric of wood ; the roof 
was fallen in, and all was ruin. The decay of the Church he 
attributed to " locking up the springs of Holy Scripture." 
The spirituality of life and of worship Avhich he strove to 
revive, went so far as the rejection of music and other 
external adjuncts to devotion : and consistently with this 
principle he valued unuttered above vocal prayer. So power- 
ful were his discourses, that his audience, after leaving the 
Church, would form a ring for the enjoyment of spiritual 
dances in the streets, a friar and a citizen hand-in-hand shout- 
ing, "Viva Christo." But a more conclusive proof of his ora- 
torical effectiveness was, that a change of manners was every- 


where observable ; places of public amusement were closed ; 
sensuality was excluded, and spirituality reigned in its stead ; 
and Florence the gay had become Florence the sober. But 
how was this to last ? The Pope instinctively dreaded Savo- 
narola's influence, and had attempted to buy his alliance by 
the proffer of a cardinal's hat, which was of course refused, 
and that too in a thrilling cry from the pulpit. " The car- 
dinal's hat to be set on my brow shall be the crown of 
martyrdom dyed in blood." But, when after a wbile the 
reaction came, and the waning popularity of the Prior of San 
Marco allowed the Pontiff to drop the mask, it was soon 
apparent that no mercy would be shown the heretic. Savo- 
narola was cited to appear at Rome; the Tuscan convents 
were reincorporated with the Lombard congregation; and 
until he had been tried, the Reformer was interdicted from 
preaching, and was finally excommunicated. In return the 
pontifical authority was rejected : and an appeal for the 
reformation of the Church by a General Council was made to 
the Christian ci\dl rulers, accompanied by the assurance that 
Alexander VI. is " no Pope nor even a Christian : " and the 
Pontiff himself admonished " no longer to delay thinking of 
his soul's salvation." Savonarola preached for the last time 
publicly on the 18th March, 1498, when he declared, "that 
he took refuge from the earthly Pope, from the hellish power 
of Satan, with the heavenly Pope, even Christ." The catas- 
trophe was not long postponed. A Franciscan brother had 
decoyed Domenico di Pescia, a friend and disciple of Savona- 
rola, into agreeing to subject their respective claims as to the 
truth of their doctrines to the decision of the ordeal by fire : 
and Savonarola, whose genius was not superior to superstition, 
and had even hinted at the proof of his tenets by miracle, was 
induced by the tendency of his own principles, and regard 
for his friend, but against the warnings of his better judg- 


incut, to sanction this trial. The Franciscan, -when all was 
arranged, declined to enter the fire with any but Savonarola 
himself. Another, however, was substituted in his place : and 
a pile of wood having been raised in the Piazza, the Prior of 
San Marco, bearing the host, and in his priestly attire, re- 
paired to the spot at tlic head of a procession of his monks. 
A delay was occasioned by Domcnico's insisting that he wovdd 
carry the host with him through the flames, which the adverse 
party as stoutly resisted : and meanwhile torrents of rain fell, 
to which a more portentous significancy seemed to be given 
by thui\derclaps and terrific lightning, and the pile was so 
drenched that to ignite it was no longer possible. The dis- 
appointment of the public curiosity completed the ruin of 
Savonarola : his convent was stormed amidst scenes of blood- 
shed; and he was compelled to deliver himself up to the 
officers sent by the Signory to apprehend him. He was 
examined by various modes of torture, some of which were 
excruciating in the extreme to his delicate and highly sensitive 
organization : but if he made any recantation under acute 
pain he recanted it on returning to his senses : and the case 
made out against him was after all a weak one. But Alexan- 
der VI. had vowed his destruction : " He shall die," he ex- 
claimed, "were he John the Baptist himself!" Commis- 
sioners arrived from E,ome : the mock formality of a second 
trial was gone through ; and sentence of death was pronounced 
upon him with two of his associates. They were hanged in 
the Piazza, Savonarola in the midst : their bodies were then 
burnt, and their ashes were throAvn into the Arno. 

The resemblance of Savonarola's history to Luther's is 
stronger than to that of either Wycliflfe or Huss. Like 
Luther he immured himself in a convent against his parents' 
consent ; and like Luther, in the earlier part of his career, 
maintained the doctrines of Augustine and the sacred writinas 


whilst he remained in visible union with Rome. But Savo- 
narola continued through life, what Luther was only for a 
time, a mystic and ascetic. The monk of Florence was, 
moreover, deemed inspired ; a dove, it was aflSrmed, would 
frequently alight on his shoulder and whisper in his ear : his 
prophetical gift was revered ; and in his reported personal 
conflicts with the powers of darkness, there is much that 
anticipates the private history of the monk of Wittenberg. 
In his doctrine Savonarola more nearly harmonises with 
Wycliffe, for he believed, like him, not merely in the invisi- 
bility of the true Church, and the incompatibility of the 
priestly character with the guilt of mortal sin, but disowned 
every external adjunct or stimulant as an infringement on the 
purity and spirituality of devotion. He was so far, in com- 
mon with the Reformers of his age, inferior to Luther in 
enlightenment, that he fulminated his denunciations against 
the " Roman Babylon'' more on account of its moral defec- 
tion than its doctrinal corruption. But he has been recog- 
nised as a brother by Luther himself ; and in his torrents of 
invective against the vices of the times, his stirring calls to 
repentance, his own ascetic rigour, and his pointing to a 
speedy ecclesiastical revival, he merits the name of the John 
the Baptist of the Reformation. 

The time was now near at hand when the ashes of the 
martyrs, scattered to the winds and to the waves, were to 
prove the seeds of new and multiplied spiritual life. Under 
the obscure vault of night illusions cheat the senses, which 
the light of day dissipates : and the revival of letters, which 
had been progressively advancing, and had received a mighty 
impulse from the importation of Greek scholars and books 
into Europe from Constantinople, the rapid spread of intelli- 
gence by the discovery of the art of printing, the new and 
correct ideas in science which were just unfolding, all be- 

VOL. I. D 


tokened that superstition was losing its hold, and the religious 
emancipation of the mind could not be long deferred. Side 
by side with the Reformers, more strictly so called, must be 
placed the men who by their attainments, their writings, and 
their influence, cleared away prejudices, and were the ap- 
pointed pioneers of the Reformation. 

Of this class two individuals in particular attained to strik- 
ing eminence, Reuchlin and Erasmus. The latter, small in 
stature, slight in figure, with observing blue eyes peering un- 
der their falling lids, overwhelmed with nervous timidity at 
the name of death or the idea of danger, who had experienced 
the evils of monasticism forcibly in his own history, as the son 
of parents whom the conventual vow into which the father 
had been deceived by falsehood had debarred from matrimony, 
to borrow a comparison from later times, was the Voltaire of 
the Reformation. Whilst a favourite of sovereigns and of the 
Pope, who was not without thoughts of making him a cardi- 
nal, he was holding up to universal ridicule, with acute wit and 
in his easy and entertaining style, the ignorance and vices of 
the monks, and the many absurdities of the whole Romish 
system. A service of a more positive kind to the cause of 
truth was his edition of his New Testament in Greek, with a 
Latin version in correction of the Vulgate, dedicated, accord- 
ing to the literary rage of the day, to Leo X. himself, and ac- 
cepted by him with the highest approbation. Although 
nothing can be more false than the common saying that 
" Erasmus laid the egg which Luther hatched,'^ yet he has 
earned a statue not far from the vestibule of the tcmjjle of the 
Reformation. He taught that Christianity was not in pil- 
grimages or fastings, the monk's hood or nun's veil, but a life 
according to the Gospel. Reuchlin, in physical qualities and 
in mental gifts a contrast to Erasmus, finally applied his great 
powers of acquiring knowledge to the study of Hebrew, com- 


piled a Hebrew Grammar^ and became one of the greatest 
Hebrew as well as Greek scholars of the age. Thrown into 
direct collision with the persecuting bigotry of the monks, he 
came off^victor : a proof that the tide of general taste and 
feeling had already taken a turn. But there were many 
minor Erasmuses and Reuchlins, such as Hutten, men who, 
by their fables and dialogues, letters and poems, were per- 
petually ridiculing priests and priestcraft. Every city, too, 
had its society of learned men, of poets, or spiritualists, who 
under the forms of Komanism were cherishing the life of Pro- 
testantism ; and amongst priests and cardinals, in the metro- 
polis of Romanism, at the table of its high priest, no one was 
altogether in the fashion who did not combine with a rage 
for literature a contempt for the fast wearing out religious 
superstition of the middle ages. Thus pontiffs and cardinals 
were buying up Greek and Latin manuscripts at immense 
sums, were heightening the flavour of their sensualities by the 
admixture of literary refinement, were making the dogmas 
which their bread was given them to teach, the subject of 
their jests, and fondly dreaming the structure secure which 
their own hands had contributed to undermine. The at- 
tempts which the more serious and devout spirits in commu- 
nion with Rome had made to purge away moral grossness 
and regenerate a decrepit system had proved failures, or only 
existed in writing, to be the more palpably mocked in the 
life : and it was not in the nature of things that a condemned 
pile, sinking under the mass of its own rottenness, and which 
had declined the hand of repair, could much longer be pre- 
served in tottering coherence. 

It will be asked, "Why was Germany selected as the 
theatre of the coming struggle?" To this question it may 
be answered, that, according to God's all- wise designs, the 
light of evangelization was travelling northwards. Spain had 

D 2 


early been illuminated, but under the powerful influence of 
monks and Councils and the Inquisition an impenetrable 
gloom had settled down on her plains and rivers, save only 
that some of the tops of the Pyrenees still reflected'Hhe twi- 
light. France, always superficial, had derided the pretensions 
of the Pope only to raise upon their destruction the preten- 
sions of the Sorbonne, or of a General Council, and desired 
no doctrinal but only a moral amendment, and thus had in 
fact repudiated God^s Gospel. Italy had been favoured with 
a Reformer after her own heart, a fervid spiritualist; but 
gaiety and dissipation had choked the seed of divine life. 
England, on the other hand, had not rejected God's word as a 
nation ; for, although king, nobles, and clergy had succeeded 
in driving it from them for a time, in the hearts of the com- 
mon people, even under the priest-ridden rule of the princes 
t)f the house of Lancaster, the leaven was fermenting more 
and more until it should leaven the whole lump. But Ger- 
nianj'^ was a new country in civilization and in religious cul- 
ture. It had recently emerged from barbarism. It had re- 
ceived and welcomed into its bosom the refugee Waldenses, 
the persecuted Lollards; its limits bordered on the Bohe- 
mian Brethren; it had many souls deep thinking, labori- 
ous, and devout, who revered the memory and studied the 
writings of Wycliffe and Huss. It seemed as if, when other 
lands had been overflown with the deluge of political and cle- 
rical indifference and persecution, God had been building in 
Germany the ark of his Church. Besides this, there was no 
land where the extortionate bondage of Rome, pushed to its 
extremest point, had become moi'e odious to the people; 
annates, reservations, coramendams, the countless artifices of 
the Roman Chancery, had drawn German wealth in im- 
poverishing prodigality into the stream of the Tiber : and the 
prelate princes of Germany, who frequently felt as civil rulers 


rather than as ecclesiastics, had many causes of dissension and 
estrangement from an usurious master like the Pontiff. To 
this it may be added, that, as the seat of the transferred 
Roman and Greek Empire, and particularly as under the 
sceptre of the mightiest modern potentate in the person of 
Charles V., whatever should be done in Germany would pre- 
eminently be done in the face of the whole world, and as an 
example to the rest of Europe. Thus divine Providence had 
marked out the time and the country in which the Reforma- 
tion of Christendom should take its rise ; and when all was 
in readiness, the divinely accomplished instrument, for the 
momentous task was moved forward on the stage — Martin 




1483. In the close of the fifteenth century, there lived an industrious 
and frugal couple, John and Margaret Luther by name,^ in a 
peasant's cottage, in the village of Mora, near Eisenach. The 
family to which the name of Luther appertained, was a large 
and respected onef among the peasantry of that part of 
Saxony, and had its representatives in all the neighbourhood 
surrounding Eisenach. If there was any difference between 
John and Margaret Luther, and other families of the same 
extensive genealogical stock, it was certainly not in the article 
of worldly circumstances, for John was a wood-cutter, ex- 
tremely poor ; and Margaret often carried home upon her 
shoulders, with a child trudging at her side, bundles of 
faggots which her good man had cut in the forest. The dis- 
tinction was rather in the superior sense, piety and worth of 
the young couple at Mora. John was a rigidly just, truthful, 
and withal strict man, an example of household severity, re- 
calling instances of the patriarchal age : and Margaret, says 
Melchior Adam, was " a model to her sex in chastity, reve- 

* Spelt also Ludder or Luder. Margaret's maiden name was Lin- 

t The cognizance of the Luthcrs was a hammer. Martin changed 
the hammer to a cross, which he placed between three circles intersecting 
one another, and in each of the intersections a rose. His Doctor's ring 
has this coat of arms ; and it is also to be seen in his cell at Erfurth by 
his portrait ; and in the inscription on the wall by his grave in Wit- 
tenberg church. 


rence, and devoted piety/^ as well as in laborious housewifery 1483. 
and thrifty economy. Two sons had already been born to the 
estimable pair, when on the 10th November, the eve of St. 
Martin's day, in a friend's liouse or in an inn at Eisleben,"^ 
whither they had been attracted by the fair, (although some 
accounts state that they had already left Mora, and were then 
settled at Eisleben,) Margaret gave birth very unexpectedly to 
a third son,t who was taken into St. Peter's Church the next 
day, and after the saint to whom it was sacred, baptized by 
the name of Martin. No prognostics or prophecies foretold 
the celebrity to which this son was destined. John and Mar- 
garet Luther subsequently removed to Mansfeld, a district 
under the Lordship of the Counts of Mansfeld, renowned for 
its extensive and lucrative mines. Here they prospered by 
honest industry : and John became the owner of two small 
furnaces, and in process of time was elevated to be a member 
of the Town Council. 

The influence of education in forming the mind and the 
character, can only be ranked second to that of nature itself, 
or the stamp which God himself infixes on the heart and on 
the head. And certainly the education which little Martin 
enjoyed or underwent, was exactly adapted to fit and prepare 
him for the arduous duties and trials of his future career. 
John Luther was a pious man, and often prayed that his 
children might be filled with the grace of God. He moreover 
loved learning ; assembled in his cottage, as often as he could, 
such learned men as would honour his dwelling with a visit ; 

* The house iu which Luther was born was made public property, 
renovated, and formed into a school-house for boys a century after his 

t Besides two sons older than Martin there were several daughters 
older or younger, six in all, of whom only two it appears married ; and 
the number of children was made up to ten by the birth of another son, 
James, who will be met with in these pages. 


1483. and resolved that little Martin, who evinced superior abilities 
at a very early age, should be brought up to be a scholar. 
"With a view to this he used to carry liim on his own shoulders, 
when he was too young to walk alone, or have him conveyed 
under the charge of Nicolas Emler, or Emilius, who after- 
wards became his son-in-law, to a day-school in Mansfeld,* 
where Martin acquired the elements of knowledge, learnt his 
Creed, Ten Commandments, and " Our Father," Donatus, and 
Cisio Janus, and to sing Christian hymns. f Martin suffered 
from no deficiency of moral domestic discipline ; for, though 
rigidly upright and just, so that his character was widely re- 
spected, and this influence was ever afterwards felt by INIartin 
himself in his days of celebrity, John Luther was so severe 
a father, that his favourite son, if he had done wrong, would 
often hide away from his resentment in the large chimney of 
the cottage ; and such a congenial help-meet in this respect 
was Margaret, that little Martin was once whipped by her for 
some act of dishonesty about a nut, until the blood ran; 
and he never forgot the chastisement or its lesson. At school 
severity was practised on a more rigorous plan than even at 
home ; and once Martin was flogged in one day fifteen times. 
Doubtless the spirit was braced and tlie nature hardened 
against the rougher discipline of mature life by these early 
chastisements : but they had t]\e effect of associating in the 
mind the ideas of justice and severity, as inseparably united 
together; and his regarding the Almighty under that double 
aspect was the principal reason which impelled Martin Luther 
when just attaining manhood to enter a monastery. 

1497. In 1497, when fourteen years of age, Martin was sent to 

* " Gestavit in ludum literarium adhxic parvulum Georgii Emilii 
pater, qui cum adhuc vivat, testis liujus narrationis esse potest." — 

t Matbesius, p. 4. 


the choral school of Magdeburg, conducted by Franciscans, 1497. 
together with Jolm Reiueck, a boy of tlie same town, his 
friend and playmate : with whom the friendship thus con- 
tracted in childhood continued through life, when Luther had. 
become the greatest name in Germany, and Reineck was also 
a distinguished man. The time when Martin Luther was 
sent to Magdeburg was memorable as the period of Andreas 
Proles' teaching in that city the necessity of a reform in the 
Church. As John and Margaret were still poor, their son 
■was obliged to eke out a maintenance by the resource common 
with German boys of singing in the streets at the house-doors, 
and begging in recompense of the song for scraps of meat or 
a piece of bread. And thus Luther acquired many a lesson 
of experience which he could in after years recount to his 
audience from the pulpit in illustration of the duties of the 
Christian life. " Importunity in prayer," he would say, 
" will always in the end bring down from heaven the blessing 
sought. How well do I remember singing once as a boy 
before the house of a rich man, and entreating very hard for 
some bread. At last the man of the house came running out, 
crying aloud, ' Where are you, you knaves ? ' We all took to 
om- heels ; for we thought that we had angered him by our 
importunity, and he was going to beat us ; but he called us 
back, and gave us two loaves.^^^ When Luther had himself 
become great, if not rich, his door was never shut against the 
poor boys who sang for the dole of charity : and he would 
admonish others to practise the same liberality. " Never 
despise the poor boys who sing at the house-doors, and ask 
bread for the love of God. How often have I been one of 
such a group ! " 

Notwithstanding that the instruction at Magdeburg was 

* House-Postils.— Walch. XIII. p. 535. 


14U7. gratis, his parents' means proved inadequate to maintain 
Martin beyond a year at the choral school there ; and he was 
then sent to a school at Eisenach, in the neighbourhood of 

1498. which, as well as in the town itself, he had many relatives, 
who might be disposed to lend a helping hand towards his 
subsistence. But even at Eisenach the straits of penury were 
severely felt by the Mansfeld miner's son ; and it seemed un- 
certain whether he could support very long the unequal con- 
test with necessity. But in this dilemma, God himself found 
him a friend. Martin was one day very cold and hungry 
singing in George-street, when a good woman, Ursula Cotta, 
the wife of Conrad Cotta, a man of consideration among the 
burghers, struck with the musical tones of his voice, and ob- 
serving he was the same boy who sang so sweetly in church, 
and whose demeanour there was so good, opened her door, 
called him in, and gave him a hearty meal. Her husband 
Conrad soon afterwards came in, was pleased with Martin's 
countenance and conversation, and learning that he was very 
poor, assented to his wife's proposition that he should become 
an inmate of their dwelling. The Cottas had a little son, 
Henry, with whom Martin soon formed a close intimacy, 
questioned him on his catechism, and retained this, like all 
his other friendships, for the remainder of his life. " There 
is nothing kinder than a good woman's heart," Luther would 
say in after years, commemorating the never-to-be-forgotten 
charity of the Cottas towards him ; " happy he whose for- 
tune it is to obtain it ! " Thenceforward he was safe from 
want during the rest of his stay at Eisenach. His studies in 
the school embraced Latin, rhetoric and verse-writing; his 
amusements consisted chiefly in playing on the flute and lute, 
of both which, the good Cotta pleased to encourage his talent 
for music, made him a present ; and he learnt to play on tliem 
without a master; and especially excelled in accompanying 


the lute with his voice. His taste for poetry developed itself 1498. 
as early as his turn for music, and at this period of boyhood 
he was remarkable for extreme fluency and copiousness of 
language, both in speaking and writing, and for skill in verse- 
making. It is some indication even of boyish character that 
the Rector of the school, John Trebonius, gained his esteem 
and regard, not more by his ability than by the courtesy and 
respect with which he treated his scholars. In contradis- 
tinction to the unmannerly overbearance of the other masters, 
Trebonius would take off his hat to the scholars on entering 
the schoolroom, and admonish others to show the same defe- 
rence to worth and learning, as yet .in a state of pupillage. 
" There are great men,'' he would say, " here before us : some 
of these boys will one day be men of learning, burgomasters, 
chancellors, and doctors." Such words struck a cord in 
Luther's heart. 

In his eighteenth year, and on the seventeenth of July, 1501, 
1501, he commenced his career at the University, or High 
School of Erfurth, his father making considerable personal 
sacrifices, although with the utmost cheerfulness, working 
earlier and later, and living more sparingly, to afl"ord him this 
advantage. At the University he read Cicero, Virgil, Livy, 
and other Latin authors, not only, Melancthon states, for 
the beauty of their style of writing, but even more for the 
examples of life and the excellent precepts of morality with 
which their writings abound. He likewise studied and rapidly 
acquired the science and art of dialectics, the thorny labyrinth 
which beset the entrance of every learned profession of that 
age. But his simple truthful nature revolted from useless 
subtleties and idle quibblings ; and his inclination rather led 
him to acquire an acquaintance with things, than to expend 
much time and labour ou the study of words. The influence 


1501. of domestic piety, as exemplified at the miner's hearth in 
Mausfeld, -was not lost upon the University student ; and even 
at this period, Mathesius is careful to observe that he was 
diligent in praj'er, and took for his motto that " earnestly 
prayed is more than half studied." Had he enjoyed more 
general and extensive mental culture, Melanethon is of opinion 
it would have exerted a most beneficial effect in softening 
tliose asperities of character which controversy and other trials 
afterwards revealed ; but all that he learnt he learnt thoroughly ; 
he rather "knew much than many things/' and his acquire- 
ments, as compared with those of cotemporary students, Mere 
a theme of admiration to the whole University. 

It seemed accident which first directed his mind into that 
channel of reading and thought in which he was destined 
to reflect the light of God to men. One day he was opening 
one volume after another in the University library, when he 

1502. lighted upon a book which riveted his attention. It was the 
Latin Vulgate of the whole Bible; and Martin Luther found 
with surprise that it contained " more Gospels and Epistles 
than those in the Postils." He turned over the pages, and was 
arrested by the history of Hannah and Samuel, and warmed 
over the description of the mother dedicating the child of 
many prayers to the Lord. He was soon called away, but, as 
often as he could, returned to the library and spent his spare 
moments in poring over the new found treasure. 

1503. In 1503, he became Bachelor of Philosophy. But soon 
afterwards a severe and dangerous malady stretched him upon 
his bed in despair of life, and in this state he was visited by 
an aged priest, who addressed him with words of comfort. 
" My bachelor, take heart ; you shall not die of this sickness : 
our God will yet make a great man of you, and use you to 
comfort many others ; for whom God loves on him he lays the 


holy cross, under whicli the patient learns much."* This 1503. 
prophecy re\dved Martin's courage, and years after its fulfil- 
ment he was wont to recur to it with strong feelings of grate- 
ful recollection. 

In 1505, he was made Doctor of Philosophj^, or Master of 1505. 
Arts; and began to lecture on the physics and ethics of Aris- 
totle, until, as he says, he knew them almost by heart, and 
he lectured also on other branches of philosophy, and for a 
while entertained the idea of studying for the bar, according 
to his father's long-cherished wish. 

Shortly after, Luther allowed a respite for a season to his 
studies, and paid a visit to the miner's dwelling at Mansfeld. 
If any one had met him, it has been well said,t as he travelled 
on foot towards his home, his sword and hanger at his side, a 
warlike appearance with a gentle and peaceful heart, gay in 
his indigence, with pure morals under the ostentation of dis- 
order, he would have failed to recognise in the young German 
the future Reformer, f It was as he was returning to the 
University from this visit, that an event occurred which de- 
termined his future path in life. He had approached very 
near to Erfurth, when a violent thunderstorm overclouded the 
heavens, and according to some accounts a stroke of lightning 
struck his dear companion Alexius dead at his side.§ Luther, 

* Keil. p. 11. 

t Michelet, Memoires, I. p. 21. 

X Lingke relates, that, in returning home, Luther's sword fell out of 
the sheath and cut a vein in the leg. Luther was carried home, and 
the effusion of blood stayed by his invoking the Virgin. 

§ This account is very doubtful. Melancthon only remarks, " Hos- 
terrores seu primum seu acerrimos sensit eo anno cum sodalem nescio 
quo casu interfectum amisisset." Melchior Adam says, "Fulmine, ut 
volunt, et commililonis violenta morte territus." Jiirgens supposes 
that Luther's friend met his death in a duel, and that the thunderstorm 
was later ; and as Luther entered the monasteiy on St. Alexius' day, 
the name of the Saint was giveii by common rumour to his friend. 


1505. in the utmost terror of God, fearing that his own end -was 
imminent, vowed to St. Anne that if liis life were spared he 
would consecrate it to religion by taking the monk's hood. 
It seemed as if a voice from licivcn spoke to him in the crash 
of the thunderstorm : a light from heaven struck on his senses 
as on another Saul ; he had been providentially rescued from 
the divine vengeance; his future years were to be spent in 
appeasing God's anger and earning heaven. 

But before he parted for ever from the world, he resolved to 
have one evening of merriment and social converse with his 
most intimate associates. He spread the best cheer he could 
before them ; music and wit seasoned the mirth of the com- 
pany ; all was enjoyment : and the host was very careful not 
to let a hint drop of the determination which he had formed."^ 
It was the seventeenth July, St. Alexius' day. As soon as 
ever his friends had left his apartment, Luther chose two 
books from his collection, a Virgil and a Plautus, and with 
these in his hand in the dead of the night sought the convent 
of the Eremites of St. Augustine. The gate opened to his 
knock ; he passed beneath the portal ; the fraternity were 
equally surprised and rejoiced that one of the brightest orna- 
ments of the University demanded to be enrolled in their 
number. The next day, he took leave of his friends and 
messmates in a letter, sent back to the University his master's 
ring and go^vn, and wrote to inform his parents of the reso- 
lution which he had carried into effect. Many members of 
the University came to the convent gate, and requested to 
speak with him ; for the course he had adopted seemed to 
them the height of the wildest folly : but they were not 
granted admission, and for a whole month no one could see or 

* Keil. p. 12. Ohne ihnen das jreringste von seinem vorhaben 
mcrkeu zu lasseii. But there are different accounts. — Walch. XXIV. 
p. 70. 


approach him. His father was overcome with rage and dis- 1505. 
appointment; and it was in vain that his wife laboured to 
console him. He had anticipated Martin's acquiring emi- 
nence in the legal profession, contracting a Avealthy alliance, 
and becoming a person of opulence and note. That such 
hopes might be realised, what sacrifices had he not made for 
a long succession of years ! In a letter expressive of extreme 
displeasure, he again addressed his son with the pronoun 
" Thou," instead of the respectful " You," which he had 
employed towards him ever since his taking the degree of 
Master of Arts. And some accounts state that John Luther 
journeyed to Erfurth and expostulated with Martin at the 
convent : " Take care that that voice you heard from heaven 
prove not a delusion of the devil ; how can a son do right in 
disobeying the counsel of his parents ? " But the enraged 
father was to be taught acquiescence in the will of Provi- 
dence. The same year the plague carried off" two of his sons ; 
and it was reported that the monk of Erfurth also was dead : 
tlie father's heart became softened ; and he had so far relented 
two years later, when Martin was ordained priest, as to con- 
sent to be present at the ceremony. 

Meanwhile the drudgery to which Luther was subjected in 
his noviciate would have disgusted any mind less earnestly 
devoted than his to monasticism. " If ever monk," he after- 
wards said, '^ could have got to heaven by monkery, I might 
have done so. I wore out my body with watching, fasting, 
praying, and other works." '^ What I underwent as a monk," 
he would declare from the pulpit in after years, " so shattered 
my head, that I have never recovered the effects of it, and all 
my life long I never shall."* As novice Luther had to open 
and shut the gate, wind up the clock, sweep the chapel, clean 
the rooms, and such-like menial duties. He found most of his 

* House-Postil for Seventh Sunday after Trinity. 


1505. brother monks lazy, stupid, and ignorant, fond of good cheer, 
and each had set before him for supper two cans of beer and 
a can of winc."^ It was their maxim that holy words, even 
without being understood by those who repeated them, would 
make the devil fly ; and all their devotion was to mumble 
over at stated times the horse canonicas. Most of them soon 
conceived a dislike to Luther as a man of learning. If he 
asked time for his studies, he was reminded that the interests 
of the convent were served, not by study, bnt by bringing 
home flour, eggs, fish, flesh, and money ; and as soon as he 
had finished his indoor labours the cry was in their doggerel, 
" Saccum per nackum,^^ — " Go through the streets with the 
sack and get us what you can to eat." It was only the mind 
bent on appeasing God's wrath which rendered this tedious 
and unceasing drudgery at all bearable. At length the Uni- 
versity interfered in behalf of one of its members ; and it Avas 
arranged by the Prior that Luther should be allowed time for 
private study. 

He flew to reading with the avidity of one long debarred 
a favourite pursuit. He read the patristic writings, above 
all, the woi'ks of Augustine througbout, but particularly his 
Exposition of the Psalms, and treatise on the Letter and the 
Spirit. But reading Augustine inflamed his thirst to draw 
more deeply from the well of Scripture itself. He longed to 
have a Bible, that unattainable book, as his own ; as it was, 
he could only use the Vulgate from the convent library : and 
much that he read of the Scriptures seemed at first strange 
and inexplicable to his apprehension. He read of God^s con- 
versing with the patriarchs, as detailed in Genesis; and 
feared it must all be fable ; the terrible God could never con- 

150G. verse as man with man.t After his ordination he was 

* Tiscliredcn II. p. 290, &c. 
t ''As one shooniaker with another" — are Luther's exact words. 


directed to study the Schoolmen, not a congenial task ; but 1506. 
in the spirit of obedience he read Peter D'Ailly, and Gabriel 
Biel, till he knew them nearly by heart : he read Occam, 
whom he preferred to Aquinas, and also Scotus ; he read also 
Gerson, and studied the Glossa Ordinaria and Nicolas Lyra. 
Not only was his memory exceedingly tenacious, but he pro- 
foundly reflected on all that he read ; and often a single pas- 
sage or word would engage and engross his thoughts for hours. 
At the same time he was studying Greek and Hebrew with 
such helps as the convent offered. 

The general demeanour of Luther amazed the Eremite 
brethren. His character before entering the monastery had 
been social, and even jovial : he was now exactly the reverse ; 
silent, abstracted, and solitary. The monks could not com- 
prehend him. He confessed very often : not about women, 
or any of the usual sins of monks; but about his spiritual 
conflicts, or what he calls, '' the true knot, the real question 
— How shall a man be just before God?^^ His father con- 
fessor knew nothing of such trials ; he had never experienced 
or even heard of them before ; and Luther became more de- 
spondent than ever, thinking that he alone was harassed with 
such perplexities and struggles. He gasped for communion 
with God, for a sense of reconciliation, an assm-ance of salva- 
tion. Consciousness of sin thrust him back from God. " It 
is not God who is angry with you," his father confessor told 
him repeatedly, " it is you who are angry with God." But it 
was of no use. He read the passage, " Save me in thy 
righteousness ; " and enquired how the righteousness of God 
could be a cause of salvation. " I thought only," he after- 
wards wrote, "of that active righteousness whereby God 
punishes the wicked : I understood not of that passive right- 
eousness whereby he maketh righteous in Christ the penitent 
sinner. The righteousness of God in the Scriptures almost 

VOL. I. E 


150C. always means faith and grace.'' On one occasion^ if Coch- 
Iseus is to be believed, when mass was celebrating, Luther, in 
the intensity of agony, fell down crying aloud, " It is not I — 
It is not I ''* — meaning, perhaps, that Christ's blood could 
not cleanse such a sinner as he was ; or there may have 
been some ideal sin present to his imagination of which he 
protested he was not guilty. On another occasion he re- 
mained closeted in his cell without food for some days ; this 
was not unusual with him, excepting in the duration of his 
absence, so that at last his door was tried; it was found 
locked ; they called to him, but no answer was returned : the 
door was then forced open, and Luther was discovered lying 
insensible upon the ground. His friends in the town heard 
of his state ; and Lucas Edenberger entered with some choral 
singers, and struck up one of his favourite hymns ; this 
revived the poor monk, he opened his eyes, consciousness 
returned, and he arose from the ground. But often did 
Luther spend whole days and nights without food or rest, 
and even forgetting his prayers, in the intensity of study; 
then he was overwhelmed with regret for this omission, and 
to make amends he spent days and nights in the intensity of 
prayer. The only joyful interlude in such a troubled history 
is supplied by the recreation of music. He sometimes retired 
to lonely haunts and amused himself with his flute; and after 
his ordination he would sometimes preach to the shepherds 
and ploughmen of a neighbouring village, and returning 
liome listen to their songs, or join in themf with all the 
enthusiasm of his heart. 

When the Vicar-General of the Augustines in Germany, 
John Staupitz, came on a visit of inspection to the convent of 
Erfurth, amidst the usual variety of common -place characters 

* Cochlfcus, p. 2. t Seckend. I. p. 21. 


which the fraternity presented, his eye rested with curiosity 150(3. 
on such a serious brow as "brother Augustine's;" such was 
the name which Luther had assumed. Staupitz enquired 
the history of the young monk from the prior, and that added 
to the interest awakened by his appearance. In the confes- 
sional, the sympathy of congenial tastes was increased to 
friendship ; and Luther unburdened his conscience with the 
greatest confidence to such a gentle superior, whose character 
for piety was held in universal esteem. 

" I promise to God,'' he exclaimed, " but sin is always too 
strong for me." " I have myself vowed more than a thousand 
times to lead a holy life," Staupitz replied, "and as often 
broken my vow. I now trust only in the mercy and grace of 
God in Christ." To Luther's statements of his terror of God 
on account of his sinfulness, the Vicar- General answered, 
" Look at the wounds of Jesus Christ ; see the Saviour bleed- 
ing upon the cross ; and believe in the mercy of God." Lu- 
ther's idea of repentance was, that it is made up of mortifica- 
tions and macerations of the flesh, and he could never be 
satisfied that his degree of repentance was sufficient to propi- 
tiate the Divine favour. Staupitz explained to him, that to 
repent is to turn with the heart to God, the God who had 
first loved him ; and that the heart, not the body, must be 
contrite and broken. But iDcsides instruction from his own 
lips, Staupitz gave to the young monk a Bible for his own 
property, and thus placed him at the feet of the Saviour 
himself. Luther's heart overflowed with gratitude when the 
prize which he had so long coveted was at last in his hands, 
his own possession, never to be removed from his cell. Still 
his melancholy could not wear entirely away ; but despair at 
times again seized him. Observing him one day seated at 
table in a very abstracted mood, Staupitz enquired, " Brother 
Martin, why arc you so sad?" " How should I be other- 

E 2 


150G. wise?" Luther replied. But when they were alone, Staupitz 
unfolded to him the divine motives in his trials : " Dear 
Martiuj you know not how profitable and necessary such 
temptations are for you. God sends them not in vain ; he is 
training you, and will use you for great things." " He 
thinks/' Luther said to himself, '' that I am learned, and 
that, without such trials, I should become proud." Keeping 
up a correspondence with his spiritual father between the 
different visits of inspection, Luther in one letter exclaimed 
in his anguish, '^ My sins! my sins! my sins!" "Oh," 
Staupitz replied, " your sins are ideal ; Christ is the Saviour 
not of fictitious but of actual siimers." 

Luther's health sunk under the pressure of his severe con- 
flicts, and he became dangerously ill. The old monk who 
was his ordinary father confessor visited him in his sickness, 
and, after listening to the details of the horror which he felt 
of God's wrath on account of his guilt, and the doubts which 
perplexed his heart, and aggravated his maladj'^, replied by 
citing the article of the Apostles' Creed, " I believe in the 
forgiveness of sins;" that is, not merely of Peter's sins, or 
David's sins — for devils believe so much — but of my own 
sins." And the old monk went on to quote a passage from a 
sermon of St. Bernard : " The testimony which the Holy 
Spirit applies to thy conscience is this : ' Thy sins are forgiven 
thee.' And so, declares the Apostle, ' we are justified by faith.'" 
These enlightened words, confirmed by Scripture, from the 
lips of the simple old man, poured the balm of comfort on 
Luther's troubled spirit. His illness abated as peace returned ; 
he rose from his bed, and regained his strength. It was pro- 
bably this old brother monk who gave Luther "■ The Dialogue 
between Athanasius and Arias before Constautine, copied 
out with his own hand," of which he says subsequently that 
he read it with the utmost ardour of faith, and gratitude to 


the donor, who he doubted not was a true Christian, altliough 150G. 
under the cowl of damnation.* Luther was now deeply con- 
versant with the Scriptures, particularly with St. Paul's 
Epistles, which he studied with delight and an intuitive com- 
prehension of their meaning, from their applicability to his 
own trials as well as because his mind was cast in the same 
logical mould as the Apostle's ; and, when his trials recurred, 
he comforted himself under them with the passage, " We are 
justified by faith without the deeds of the law." The Gospel 
scheme of salvation acquired order and consistency in his 
apprehension. " The eternal laws of the universe," says 
Ranke, " require that a deep and earnest longing of the soul 
after God should at length be appeased with the fulness of 
conviction ; " in other words, the scriptural promise was at 
last made good to Luther—" Every one that seeketh 

In the spring of 1507, '^ Brother Augustine" was to be 1507. 
ordained priest by Jerome Bishop of Brandenburg. And on 
this occasion, in inviting John Braun, Vicar of Eisenach, to 
be present at his ordination, Luther, in his earliest extant 
letter, says — " Since the glorious God, holy in all his works, 
has deigned to exalt me, who am a wretched man and every 
way an unworthy sinner, so eminently, and to call me to his 
sublime ministry by his sole and most liberal mercy, may I 
be grateful for the magnificence of such divine goodness (as 
far at least as dust and ashes may), and duly discharge the 
office committed to me." He was very glad of an opportunity 
for full reconciliation with his father, and wrote to him a most 
dutiful letter, imploring the favour of his presence, and 
requesting him to fix the day of ordination. John Luther 
complied with this entreaty, and named the 2nd May (Domi- 

* De Wotte, IV. p. 427. " Sub daranato cucullo verus Cliristianus." 


1507. nica Cantate*) ; when the Bishop of Brandenburg, placing 
the cup in Tjuther's hand, bestowed on him the power of 
" sacrificing for the living and the dead." " I marvel," Lu- 
ther used afterwards to say, " that, at that moment, the earth 
did not open and swallow us both up." John Luther had 
come attended by twenty horsemen, Martin's old friends and 
comrades, and had brought his son a present of twenty 
guilders ; and after the ceremony withdrew, with many of the 
company, to partake of a repast in the refectory. The event 
of the day formed naturally the subject of conversation, and 
the self-sacrifice of Martin in renouncing all his worldly 
prospects, bright as they were, and shutting himself up within 
the walls of a monastery, to secure his salvation and to serve 

* God, was highly applauded. But this was more than the 
father could brook. " You men of learning !'' he exclaimed, 
"have you never read in the Scriptures God's command, 
'Honour thy father and mother?"' These words left a 
deep and unfading impression on the heart of Martin Luther ; 
he thought more of them than of all the idle compliments 
which were buzzing around, and their truth aff'orded him one 
cogent reason for his subsequent work of exterminating 

Soon after his ordination, the anniversary of Corpus 
Christi was celebrated at Eisleben, with great pomp, by the 
Augustine fraternity. The Vicar-General walked first in the 
procession, carrying the host : Luther followed in his priestly 
robes. But the idea that the actual body of the Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ was borne before him overwhelmed his 
soul ; he staggered, and could with difficulty keep his place in 
the procession : his own sinfulness and God the avenger 
overpowered him with dread. When he was left alone with 

* Fourth Sunday after Easter. 


Staupitz, he recounted the agony which he had undergone at 1507. 
the thought of his proximity to God made flesh. " That is 
not Jesus Christ," Staupitz answered ; " Jesus Christ does 
not terrify, he only comforts." 

Luther had been three years, or rather more, in the Con- 
vent of Erfurth, when it pleased God, by the instru- 
mentality of Staupitz, to draw him forth from obscurity to 
the theatre of active life. The University of Wittenberg had 
been founded in 1502 by Frederic Elector of Saxony, com- 
monly called the Wise, partly on his own suggestion, partly on 
the recommendation of his brother Ernest Bishop of Magde- 
burg. The Pope had given his consent, as in the case of the 
Universities of Treves and Tubingen, for the amalgamation of 
the duties and revenues of several clerical offices in Witten- 
berg and its neighbourhood, with the diff'erent Profess'orships. 
The University studies were conducted upon the humanist 
principle, in opposition to the scholastic system, which conti- 
nued to prevail in many of the more ancient seats of learning. 
And indeed the two men who were principal agents of the 
Elector in this undertaking, were both distinguished by a 
spirit of enlightenment beyond that of their age. Dr. Martin 
Pollich, of Mellerstadt, " the first rector and father of the 
University of Wittenberg," according to the inscription on 
his tomb, was known in a period of high-sounding titles as 
" the light of the world," and held the rational opinion that 
the study of theology would be best promoted by the general 
study of literature. The other agent in founding the new 
school of learning was Dr. Staupitz, already mentioned in 
these pages, the Vicar- General of the Augustines, with espe- 
cial jurisdiction over forty convents in Misnia and Thuringia, 
whose injunction to the monks under his authority to " study 
above all books the Holy Scriptures, and instead of Augustine 
or any of the fathers to have the Bible read to them over their 


1507. meals," is a sufficient indication of religious enlightenment. 
Staupitz of a noble family in Misnia, of dignified appear- 
ance, much used to courts, and a general favourite with the 
great, and particularly with Frederic the Wise, by his genial 
temper and vein of homely humour. His office gave him 
peculiar facilities for selecting fit persons for the different 
Professors' chairs at Wittenberg ; and he now recommended 
" brother Mai-tin," as one for the extent of whose attainments 
and abilities he could readily vouch, to the notice of the 

1508. Accordingly, Luther was rather suddenly summoned from 
Erfurth in October, 1508, to occupy a cell in the Augustine 
Convent of Wittenberg, of which at that time only the dor- 
mitory was standing, the foundations of the rest of the 
building being not much more than level with the ground. 
He packed up his few possessions, the principal of which were 
a Greek and a Latin Bible, and obeyed the call with so much 
speed that he was obliged to wish several of his friends near 
Erfurth good-bye by letter from Wittenberg. He was ap- 
pointed Lecturer in Physics and Dialectics. " I am now," he 
wrote to his old friend Braun, " by the will or permission of 
God, at Wittenberg ; and am well by God's grace, excepting 
that the study of philosophy is much against the grain with 
me, and from the first I would most gladly have changed it 
for theology ; the theology I mean that searches the kernel of 
the nut, the marrow of the wheat, the marrow of the bones. 
But God is God, and man is often, nay always, mistaken in 

1509. his judgment."* But in March, 1509, Luther was created 
Bachelor of Theology, and entered upon his deeply desired 
task of lecturing on the Holy Scriptures. His spiritual 
training had been progressing as at Erfurth ; he had explored 

* De Wette, I. p. 6. 


the Bible deeper and deeper, and had besides spent much time 1509. 
over Augustine and the sermons of Tauler the Dominican, 
one of the mystic school who had flourished in the preceding 
century. And in his temptations to despair on account of his 
sinfulness, he had repeatedly felt the sustaining power of the 
text, " The just shall live by faith." 

Passing from his cell to the lecturer's chair with the Scrip- 
tures in his hand, he proceeded to pour out with the enthu- 
siasm of his own rooted convictions, to a crowd of students 
which was continually augmenting in number, the truths 
which he had learnt himself by long and most trying process, 
but the joy of which beamed over his features as he spoke. 
Such lecturing was altogether a novelty : the Bible itself was 
a new book in that day : and Luther's profound acquaintance 
with every part of it raised the admiration of his auditors. 
Dr. Mellerstadt himself went to hear him lecture, and pro- 
nounced the verdict, " The monk wiU reform the whole 
Romish Church ; he builds on the prophets, apostles, and the 
word of Jesus Christ : and that no philosophy can overthrow, 
no Sophist, Scotist, Albertist, Thomist, or Tartarist."* 
Luther's lecture time was the first hour after dinner.f 

Staupitz was much gratified by the success of his " dear 
Martin " in the lecture room, and requested him next to essay 
his powers in the pulpit. " It is no light thing," Imther 
replied, " to speak in God's stead." He proceeded to insist 
that he had fifteen arguments for resisting the call to the office 
of preacher : in fine that, if the Vicar-General compelled him 
to undertake it, it would prove his death within a quarter of 
a year. '■' Be it so," Staupitz answered with a smile, " Our 
Lord God has great things a doing, and needs wise people 

* Matlies. p. 11. 

t It sliould have been at six o'clock in the morning ; but was changed 
" ob commoditatem." Seckend. I. p. 19. 


1509. above also." The vow of obedience precluded any farther 
objection. The old Augustine church stood amidst the rising 
foundations of the Augustine convent, a tottering mouldering 
edifice of wood, thirty feet long and twenty broad,* propped 
up on every side with stays. It has been likened by a co- 
temporary writer to the stable at Bethlehem in which the 
Kedeemer of the world was born. The pulpit was a rude 
structure of unpolished planks standing by the south wall of 
the church, three feet high fi'om the floor. Here Luther 
first preached the Gospel of Christ, in language as plain and 
simple as the rustic edifice, but with a clearness, power, and 
zeal which won the heart, it being evident, in the language of 
Melancthon, that " his words had their birthplace not on his 
lips but in his soul.'^f Within a short period, the timbers 
of the ancient church creaked with the throng of attentive 
listeners. The Town Council then did Luther the honour to 
choose him for their preacher; and he preached in the parish 
church. On one occasion Frederic the Wise was one of his 
auditors ; and afterwards remarked that he was surprised to 
hear how well the monk spoke, and at the fund of matter with 
which his mind was stored. Eventually, inasmuch as the 
pastor of Wittenberg parish church, the brother of Gregory 
Bruck, subsequently distinguished as an Electoral Councillor, 
was an invalid, and in very poor pecuniary circumstances, 
Luther gratuitously became his ordinary substitute both in 
the pulpit and in the parish. 

To complete the training of the future Reformer for his 
great work, it was ordered by divine Providence that he should 
witness the practical working of the Papal system in Rome 
itself. This visit to the metropolis of the Papacy took place 

1510. most probably in 1510, but some writers have assigned 1511, 

* Seckend. I. p. 17. t "Non nasci in labris sed pectore." 


others 1512 as the date* Seven convents of the Augustine 1510. 
order were at variance on some points which cannot now be 
exactly ascertained, with the Vicar- General, and chose Martin 
Luther to represent their case to the Pope, because Cochla^us 
says he was "of acute intellect and bold and vehement in 
contradiction/' He was allowed ten ducats to engage the 
assistance of an advocate at Rome ; and a brother monk was 
assigned him as his travelling companion. Having crossed 
the Alps, Luther and his comrade found themselves amidst 
scenes of luxury and splendour such as they had never beheld 
in Germany. They rested at a convent of the Benedictines, 
and were amazed at the sumptuous apartments, the gay 
dresses, and the magnificent cheer of the holy recluses : on 
Wednesdays and Fridays the table was loaded as on other 
days with every variety of viands; and the monastic severity 
was metamorphosed into a pursuit of every kind of luxury 
and pleasure. The German strangers looked at one another 
in amazement; and at last Luther ventured gently to remind 
the monks that they were breaking the Pope's command by 
eating meat on fast days. But this mild reproof very nearly 
cost him his life; and it was only by favour of the door- 
keeper that he was enabled to effect a clandestine escape from 
the dangerous spot, and reach Padua in safety. Here he 
fell very sick, and suspected that the monks had given him 
poison : but by eating a pomegranate he obtained some relief 
from the violence of the pains in his head. At Bologna he 
was again seized with severe pains in the head, attended with 
a dreadful ringing in the head and ears. The idea of God 
as an avenger again haunted him ; consciousness of sin again 
tortured his mind ; and he was only enabled to bear up under 

* Mathesius places it in 1510; Melancthon in 1512. "Post trien- 
nium Eoman profectus, &c." 


1510. sickness and spiritual anguish by the comfort of the text, 
" The just shall live by faith/' And this text proved his best 
medicine. As soon as health would allow he resumed his 
journey with brother Ursel; and after a toilsome travel of 
many days, through Milan, where he found with surprise 
another mass book than the Roman in use, and through Flo- 
rence, which enkindled his warm admiration by its well- 
ordered hospitals, across an arid country, contrasting with the 
Saxon verdure, he came at last in sight of the long looked- 
for towers of the holy city. Falling prostrate to the earth, 
and raising his hands to heaven, Luther exclaimed, in the 
fervour of his delight, " God save thee, O Rome, seat of the 
Holy One ; yea, thrice holy by the blood of the sainted mar- 
tyrs shed within thy walls." 

Luther entered Rome by the gate of the people, and re- 
mained a short time, about fourteen days, in the holy city. 
But it was a season of continued religious excitement and 
enthusiasm to a youthful devotee of his imaginative and en- 
thusiastic temperament. He ran from church to church and 
tomb to tomb, listened with rapt interest to every idle legend, 
and believed implicitly all that was told him. He celebrated 
mass frequently, and half grieved that his parents were not 
dead, that he might release them from purgatory by his 
masses, prayers, and works. He had heard the proverb — 
" Blessed is the mother whose son says mass on St. John's 
eve ; " and, indeed, he had hurried to Rome with a longing 
desire to win the blessing ; but the crowd of competitors pre- 
vented him from achieving his hope. He attempted to climb 
upon his knees the Scala Sancta, or Pilate's Staircase, mira- 
culously transported, as the legend declared, from Jerusalem 
to Rome. But in the midst of this holy effort, a voice in the 
depth of his heart seemed to rebuke him, crying, "The just 
shall live by faith." He saw and heard a great deal which, 


without producing much impression at the time, bore durable 1510. 
fruits afterwards, and was never obliterated from his memory. 
He heard anecdotes of Alexander VI., Csesar Borgia, and the 
reigning Pope Julius II., of other popes, of their sons, 
daughters, and mistresses, which drew from him an involun- 
tary shudder.* He stood by the statue of a pope, " repre- 
sented as a woman with a sceptre in her hand, arrayed in the 
pontifical garb, and with a child in her arms ; " she had 
been delivered of a child on that spot, so the legend affirmed ; 
but the Saxon enthusiast only expressed his astonishment 
that the Pope and Cardinals should sufier it to remain where 
it was. He sat at table with many priests, and heard them 
laugh over their wine at the mysteries of the Christian reli- 
gion, and boast how they deluded the silly people by changing 
the words of consecration in the mass to " Bread thou art, 
and bread thou shalt remain ; wine thou art, and wine thou 
shalt remain." When he said mass, he was reproved for his 
tediousness; the Roman priests could say mass seven times 
over as quickly as he could say it once. He was one day at 
the Epistle when the priest next to him had finished the mass. 
He was jogged and urged on. " Speed, speed ! Send back 
our Lady her Son quickly." " I would not have missed see- 
ing Rome," he used to say in after years, "for a thousand 
florins !" "At Rome one maybe anything save a good man." 

In 1512, under a tree in the convent garden, which Luther 1512. 
in subsequent years was fond of pointing out as a spot cherished 
in his recollections, the wish of his order was communicated to 
him by Staupitz — that he should be elevated to the degree of 
Doctor. Luther objected. " I am a weak and sickly brother, 
and have not long to live ; look out a sound man to make 

* Tisclireden III. p. 181, &c. Mathes. p. 11. Walch. XIX. p. 1509. 
Audin is strangely forgetful. I. pp. 40 — 44. 

62 THE LiFii; or martin luther. 

1512. Doctor." " Our God/' Sta\\pitz answered, " will shortly have 
great things to do in heaven and earth, for which he needs 
young and laborious doctors. Whether you live or die, God 
requires you of his counsel. Obey the will of your convent, 
and my will, as your vow obliges you. All the costs our gra- 
cious Elector will pay of his own chamber to our God for the 
furthering of this university and cloister." On the 22nd of 
September, Luther wrote to his brother monks of Erfurth, to 
inform them of his intended elevation, to entreat their prayers, 
and request their presence at the ceremony ; he would not 
burden them with such an expense unless the Vicar-General 
had enjoined him, and it were meet in itself to invite them. 
But he had considerable difficulty in obtaining the money for 
his doctorate from the Elector's servants ; he had to travel to 
Leipsic, and after much delay he had nearly returned without 
it. At length, on the 18th of October, the festival of St. 
Luke, at one o'clock in the afternoon, he was admitted Licen- 
tiate or Master of Theology, by Andrew Bodenstein Carlstadt, 
Archdeacon of All Saints' Church, in the presence of the 
whole university and a large attendance of strangers. The 
following day the great bell sounded, the members of the 
university and many strangers assembled in the great hall, 
and Martin Luther was adorned with the insignia of Doctor 
in the Holy Scriptures, by Carlstadt, with all the customary 
formahties. When he was made Licentiate, he took the oath, 
" I swear to defend the truth of the Gospel with all my 
power;" and on being made Doctor, he swore ''never to 
preach strange doctrine, condemned by the church and 
offensive to pious ears ; but all my life long to study diligently 
and preach the Holy Scriptures, and maintain the Christian 
faith by disputation and writing against all heretics. So help 
me God!"* 

* Mathes. p. 12. Keil. p. 21. 


Soon afterwards the convent of Erfurth, jealous of Witten- 1512. 
berg University — which, says Juncker, " was raising its head 
like a cypress beside the other trees of the garden " — at the 
instigation of John Nathin, one of their society, declaimed 
against Luther as a perjured man, who had forsaken his rightful 
university and convent. He was at first much incensed, but 
finally wrote to them a very temperate Jetter,"**" to the effect 
that they might have prevented his being made Doctor by one 
word had they pleased, and moreover that he had never sworn 
upon the Bible at Erfurth : " he was not conscious of having 
taken a single oath there. ^^ This vow to maintain the Holy 
Scriptures proved a source of great encouragment and strength 
to Luther in his future perilous career. In the midst of his 
trials and troubles, he says that the devil often insinuated the 
question, "What call have you to do all this?" Then his 
oath recurred to his memory ; and he told his antagonists he 
must carry out at all hazards his Doctor's vow. He lectured 
at this time on the Psalms and the Epistle to the Romans, 
and then passed on to the Epistle to the Galatians. 

Just about this period, the first letter appears of that series 
of correspondence between Luther and Spalatin, the Elector's 
secretary, which ere long swelled to a volume. Spalatin, 
tlirough John Lange, an Augustine brother, who had aided 
Luther in learning the rudiments of Hebrew at Erfurth, 
enquired his opinion on the controversy which was then 
raging between Reuchlin and the University of Cologne. A 
converted Jew, of the name of Pfefferkorn, had ransacked 
the Talmudists and Cabbalists, and descried many blasphemies ; 
on account of which he demanded that all Jewish writings, 
except the Scriptures, should be committed to the flames. 
Reuchlin had opposed this Vandal demand ; upon which 

* De Wetto, I. p. 12. 


1512. Hoclistraten, the papal inquisitor at Cologne, and Ortuinus 
Gratius, censor and poetaster, had fastened on Reuchlin him- 
self, as a heretic who ought to be led to the stake. The con- 
troversy engrossed the public mind ; pamphlet replied to 
pamphlet ; and, when the process against Reuchlin was stayed 
by papal rescript, the German Humanists exulted in their 
victory. To Spalatin's enquiry Luther replied, that John 
Reuchlin, or Capnio,^ was in his judgment quite innocent, and 
a most learned man ; he held him in great price and regard ; 
but his judgment might be open to suspicion, for he was 
hardly free and neutral. " But what," he continued, '' shall 
T say of this, that they are attempting to cast out Beelzebub, 
and not by the finger of God ? It is this I mourn and grieve 
over. We Christians are wise abroad, and fools at home. 
There are a hundred fold worse blasphemies in all the streets 
of Jerusalem, and everything is full of spiritual idols." 

Yet with all this anxiety for Church Reform Luther's 
reverence for the Pope and his rules was scarcely less fervent 
than ever : he speaks of himself as " a most insane Papist " at 
this period :t and notwithstanding his dislike and even hatred 
to Aristotle and the Schoolmen, a tincture of scholasticism, 
such is the force of education, was pertinaciously clinging to 
his mind. The progress of enlightenment was very gradual. 
There is a sketch of a sermon delivered by him in German, 

1515. dated November 1515, in which the symbolical language of 
the Canticles is applied to the harmony of the different parts 
of Scripture, and then to the operations of the Holy Ghost 
acting on the spirit through the flesh. A sermon preached 
by him in December of the same year contains an explanation 
of the mystery of the Trinity upon the Aristotelic theory of 

* Capnio was Keuclilin's classical name, as Schwartzerd was called 
Melancthon ; Gerard, Erasmus ; Cauvin, Calvin, &c. 
t Papista insanissimus. 


beiugj motion, and rest. But on the essential doctrines of 1515. 
Christian faith, especially justification by Christ's merits 
alone, his convictions and teachings were as clear as the sun's 
unclouded rays at noon. He was, in fact, not yet at one with 
himself; his doctrinal principles had to be carried out to their 
necessary conclusions by the logic of experience. 

His " Sermons on the Commandments," although not pub- 151G. 
lished until 1518, were delivered to the Wittenberg people in 
1516 and 1517, and are most characteristic of the author and 
aflford a summary of his opinions at this time. His object in 
them was to produce chiefly conviction of sin. Ascending 
the pulpit of the parish church he told the common people, 
in the plainest German, that " whoever hangs upon anytliing 
else save God for help or salvation is guilty of a breach of the 
first commandment. Outward idols are only signs of the in- 
ward idolatry of the heart, in which the whole world is sunk. 
There is no one who does not worship the devil in his heart, 
even though he refrain from the external worship of an idol. 
And no one can believe and trust in God unless the Holy 
Ghost illumine his soul." According to Luther, an act as 
regarded in itself is nothing. Prayers, alms, and fasting are 
nothing in themselves. And the law, by compelling outward 
conformity to God's will, the rather deters from inward con- 
formity as using compulsion, therefore the law only produces 
an outside or pretended holiness. The Gospel, the Spirit of 
God, must create faith in the heart : then there is liberty ; 
and in such a way alone can the commands of God be kept as 
they should be in any measure. He summed up with the 
confession of universal depravity. "All men alike are sinners 
in their hearts. Let no one boast himself good in God's 
sight : we are all guilty under every one of the ten com- 
mandments. Whoso looks in his bosom finds it so. There- 
fore let us all cry and howl to God to give us his Spirit, that 

VOL. I. F 


1516. wc may not only be outwardly good before the world, but be 
so before God in the heart. Amen." * 

He also endeavoured to simplify the duties of the con- 
fessional. " It is not expedient/' he said, " to load the 
memory and weary out the priest with so many divisions of 
sins — as, 1. Omission and commission. 3. The heart, the 
mouth, the act. 3. The five senses. 4. The six acts of 
mercy. 5. The seven sacraments. 6. The seven mortal sins. 
7. The seven gifts. 8. The eight beatitudes. 9. The nine 
sins against one's neighbour. 10. The ten commandments. 
11. The twelve articles of faith. 12. The twelve fruits of the 
Spirit; and, further, The four cardinal and three theological 
virtues. Also mute sins, and sins that cry to heaven ; and, 
lastly, sins against the Holy Ghost. All this is confusion 
and distraction." 

An article in Luther's doctor's vow was to defend the Holy 
Scriptures by disputation ; and he zealously had recourse to 
this instrument also of spreading the truth. His sermons 
were for the vulgar ; his propositions or theses were for the 
learned. In February, 1516, he requests John Lange by 
letter to convey the enclosed theses to Jodocus Trutvetter, 
his old tutor at the University of Erfurth. They were di- 
rected against " the logic, philosophy, and theology then in 
vogue " — in other words, against Aristotle, Porphyry, and the 
schoolmen — which he denominates " the useless studies of 
the age." He says, " There is nothing I burn to do so much 
as to reveal that stage player, who with his Greek mask has 
deluded the Church. If Aristotle had not been flesh, I should 
not blush to affirm that he was the devil himself. And it is 
])art of, or ray greatest cross, to see excellent abilities lost in 
his mire."t The theses in question consisted of three cou- 

* WaU'h. III. p. 1511, &c. t De Welie, I. p. IG. 


elusions, with three corollaries to each, " on the strength and 1516. 
will of man without grace;" and were maintained, under 
Luther^s presidency, by his pupil Bernard of Feldkerchen, at 
that time Professor of Aristotelian Physics. The enquiry pro- 
posed in them was, '' Whether man, created in God's image, 
can keep his Creator's precepts by his natural strength ; and 
whether, if grace be given him, he can merit anything, and 
know that he does so?" The answer was entirely in the 
negative. " It is superstitious," Luther states, " at man^s 
discretion to assign to different saints different offices of 
ministration." " Christ Jesus," he says, in another proposi- 
tion, " is our virtue, our righteousness, the searcher of the 
heart and reins, alone cognizant of our merits, our Judge."* 

Correspondence by letter was also sedulously kept up by 
Luther with his brother monks, and with many of the prin- 
cipal members of the humanist party, and habitually ren- 
dered subservient to a religious use. He had sold some 
property belonging to George Spenlein, an Augustine monk 
of Memmingen, and after giving an account of the proceeds, 
enquires of his " dearest brother^^ — " How is it with your 
soul ? Are you weary of your own righteousness, and only 
breathing and relying in the righteousness of Christ? My 
dear brother, learn Christ, and him crucified ; learn to sing to 
him ; and, despairing of yourself, say — Lord Jesu, thou art my 
righteousness, I am thy sin : thou didst take mine and give 
me thine ; thou didst take what thou wert not, and give me 
what I was not. Never seek to seem to yourself without sin. 
Christ only dwells in sinners. If you are the lily and rose 
of Christ, your conversation must be among thorns : only 
become, not through impatience or pride, a thorn yourself.'' t 
To another Augustine monk, who was suffering from heavy 

* L. Op. Lat. Jenfe, 1564, I. p. 1. f De Wette, I. p. 17. 

F 2 


1516. trials, he wrote—" The cross of Christ is divided through 
the whole world. Reject it not ; rather receive it as a most 
sacred relic, not into a vase of gold or silver, but a heart of 
gold, a heart imbued with meekness." To Spalatin he de- 
clared his judgment of persons and things with remarkable 
freedom : " What offends me in Erasmus, a most erudite 
man, is, that in interpreting the apostles' ' righteousness of 
the law,' he excludes the moral law and confines the term to 
the ceremonial and figurative. The righteousness of the law 
includes the entire decalogue. Without faith in Christ men 
may become Fabricii or Reguli, but can no more become holy 
than a crab-apple can become a fig. We do not, as Aristotle 
asserts, become just by doing just acts ; we must first be just, 
then we shall do just actions. The heart must be changed; 
the works will follow : Abel is acceptable; therefore his offer- 
ings are so." Of Frederic the Wise, he wrote to that Prince's 
private secretary : " Many things pleases your Prince which 
are displeasing and hateful to God. I do not deny that he is 
a very wise man in things of this world ; but in things apper- 
taining to God and the soul's safety, he is oppressed with a 
sevenfold blindness, and so is your Pfeffinger. I say not this 
in a corner, as a detractor; but would willingly say it to 
either, to his face." 

This severe judgment had most probably reference to the 
superstitious zeal of Frederic the Wise. In the Spring of 
151G, the Vicar-General of the Augustines was despatched to 
the Low Countries on the holy errand of procuring relics for 
the Elector's new and favourite church of All Saints : and 
meanwhile Luther was deputed to discharge the functions 
of inspector of the forty convents in Misnia and Thuringia. 
" Brother Martin " set about his new duties with his charac- 
teristic devoted energy. He proceeded to Grimma, thence to 
Dresden ; to Erfurtli, where ho had the satisfaction of insti- 


tuting John Lange hs Prior ; to Gotha and Salza, in which 1516. 
two places he found the condition of the monasteries most 
pleasing; Nordhausen, Sangerhausen, and so home. This 
tour occupied about six \Teeks, including the whole of May ; 
and^ by the 8th June, he had returned to Wittenberg. His 
admonitions to the monks, whom he found better read in 
St. Thomas than in St, Paul, were to establish and diligently 
maintain schools, "the prime object of monasteries/^ to live 
peaceably and chastely; and to study God's word continually. 
A monk of Dresden had fled thence to the priory of Mentz ; 
and it is in these words that Luther requested he might be 
sent back : — " The lost sheep is mine ; send him to me, either 
to Dresden or Wittenberg : I will receive him with open 
arms. It is no miracle for a man to fall. The cedars of 
Lebanon, which touch heaven with their summits, fall. An 
angel fell in heaven : Adam in Paradise. The miracle is 
when he who has fallen is raised again." He advised John 
Lange to keep a register of the consumption of bread, wine, 
&c., on Saints' days and holidays, which would furnish a cor- 
rect estimate of the hospitality of the Convent, and be a check 
on the grumbling propensities of the monks. To the Prior of 
Neustadt, who was involved in differences with the fraternity, 
he wrote first upon conventual matters, and then adverted to 
religion — " Care not for the peace of the world ; and say not 
with Israel, Peace, Peace, when there is no peace : say with 
Christ, the cross, the cross, and there will be no cross. The 
cross will cease to be a cross as soon as you can say, with joy, 
— Blessed cross, of all woods there is none such." Luther 
was not in good health at this time ; * yet his zeal in the 
cause of religion was not to be quenched or allayed by any 
impediment of that kind. 

* De Wette, I. p. 23. 


151(5. This year is also memorable for the printing of Erasmus' 
edition of the Greek Testament at Basle^ whither the scholar 
had fled from the fm'y of the papistical party in England^ and 
either lodging in the house of the celebrated printer, John 
Frobenius, corrected the sheets as they came fresh from the 
press, or superintended the work from his wanderings in Hol- 
land. In his address to the reader Erasmus expressed his 
hope that " even women would study the Pauline Epistles ; " 
that " the husbandman would sing some portion of the sacred 
book as he held the plough, the weaver to the sound of the 
shuttle, the traveller on his wearisome road : " * words which 
bear a very deep significancy on the very eve of the Reforma- 
tion, as prophetical of the commutation of his Greek and 
Latin versions of the Evangelists and Apostles, which quickly 
followed, into the living tongues of Europe. Luther too was 
not idle in the work of publication. In 1516 he edited the 
" German Theology," with a preface from his own pen ; he 
Avas preparing a catechism : and in the next year he published 
the seven penitential psalms translated into, and explained in, 
German. "The morning star of the Reformation," as has 
been often said, rose with the opening of the year 1516. Yet 
in proof that the wisest of men dip but very shallowly into 
the councils of Providence, how little did Frederic the Wise — 
negociating in relics for his Cathedral Church of All Saints, 
Erasmus editing his New Testament, Luther visiting the 
Saxon convents, each a chosen instrument of God in the puri- 
fication of his Church — dream of events severed from the 
world of facts only by the thin veil of a year and a few 
months ! 

The reputation of Luther had attracted a large number of 

* "Utinam liinc ad stivam aliquid dccantct agricola, liinc nonniliil 
ad radios suos moduletur lextor, hujusmodi fabulis itiueris tedium levet 


students to Wittenberg. Amongst others many monks, par- 1516. 
ticularly such as belonged to his own order, came to enjoy the 
benefit of his lectures ; many more than he could find accommo- 
dation for in his convent, or even in the town ; and, at the end 
of August, in a letter to Lange, he put a veto on any further 
arrivals. The plague was expected. On the twentieth October 
he wrote to Lange — " I require two secretaries or chancel- 
lors : I do scarcely anything else all day but write letters. I 
am preacher to the Convent, reader at table ; I am required 
each day as parish preacher ; I am regent of studies, vicar — 
that is, prior eleven times over : inspector of the fish -ponds at 
Litzkau ; counsel for the Hertzberg cause at Torgau ; lecturer 
in Paul, also lecturer in the Psalms ; besides, what engrosses 
most of my time, writing letters. I have seldom time to 
pray as I should, to say nothing of conflicts with the flesh, 
the world, and the devil. Yesterday you began the second 
book of the Sentences : to-morrow / shall begin the Epistle to 
the Galatians ; although I fear the plague will interrupt the 
prosecution of it. The plague has carried ofi" one or two per- 
sons. My neighbour Faber over the way buried one son to- 
day who was quite well yesterday, and has another son just 
seized with the pestilence. So you wish me and Feldkerchen 
to take refuge with you ? I hope the world will not go to 
pieces, if brother Martin should drop. I shall send the 
monks away ; but my own post is here -, obedience will not 
suffer me to fly. Not that I am without fear of death : I am 
not the Apostle Paul, although I lecture on his writings ; but 
I hope the Lord will deliver me from my fear." Luther 
weathered out the plague unscathed. But with so much in- 
trepidity, he was at this time distinguished by his gentle de- 
portment, and frequently admonished Lange, whose manners 
were austere, to be conciliatory towards the monks under his 
authority and to avoid all harsh and contumelious language. 


1516. In a letter to Spalatin of the fourteenth December, Luther 
expresses his thanks to the Elector for having clothed him 
most liberally, " in better cloth than became the hood, were 
it not a Prince's gift/^ The secretary had forwarded the in- 
formation that Frederic made frequent and honourable men- 
tion of him. " I am quite unworthy," Luther replied, "of 
mention from any one, and much more from so great a Prince. 
I find indeed that those who make the worst mention of me 
are my truest friends. To God alone be praise, honour, and 
glory. Amen." Spalatin had consulted him upon a project 
of translating some book into German. " What can do more 
good,'^ Luther answered, "than the Gospel of Christ? But 
it is to many a savour of death unto death, to very few of life 
unto life. Above all things ask counsel of Christ. Even our 
good deeds do not please him, if they are done without his 
command and will. I may add, that if you are pleased with 
pure solid theology like the ancient, study the sermons of 
Tauler the Dominican. I know not in Latin or German any 
theology more accordant with the Gospel. Taste, and see how 
sweet the Lord is ; and you will see how bitter is all that we 
are." In another letter to Spalatin, Luther begs the loan of 
one of the Epistles of Jerome : his own copy Lange had 
taken away with him ; and he was anxious to read what 
Jerome said about St. Bartholomew, with a view to a sermon. 
He therefore wanted the book, or a copy of the particular 
passage, before twelve o'clock. " I am strangely offended," 
he adds, " with the follies and lies of the Catalogue and 
Legend." As bold in his criticism as in everything else, 
Luther had also denied, to the great disgust of Carlstadt and 
others, that the tract on " True and false Penitence," ascribed 
to Augustine, was really the production of that Father ; " it 
was a most senseless and absurd treatise." 

Ho had now attained to so much celebrity, as the most 


learned man of his age in Northern Germany, and the great 1516. 
attraction of the University of Wittenberg, that his friend- 
ship was esteemed an honour, even by men who enjoyed con- 
siderable reputation themselves. Christopher Scheurl, the 
town clerk of Nuremberg, united Staupitz and " Brother 
Martin " in his eulogies, and requested to be allowed the pri- 
vilege to be ranked amongst the friends of the latter. "I 
would not have you to be my friend,^' Luther replied,* " for 1517. 
it will not turn to your glory but to your danger, if the old 
proverb is true — ' what belongs to friends is common.^ " But 
the friendship thus begun survived many of those shocks 
which it would appear the future Reformer already antici- 
pated. Luther moreover observed, with great thankfulness to 
God, the influence of his lectures, sermons, and disputations in 
his own University, which was daily growing in reputation 
and numbers. " Our theology,^^ he wrote to Lange, " and 
St. Augustine are proceeding prosperously, and reign here by 
the power of God : Aristotle is on the decline ; he totters to 
his ruin, which I hope will be eternal : the lectures on the 
Sentences are scorned ; and if any lecturer would have an 
audience he must lecture on the Bible, St. Augustine, or one 
of the Fathers.^' 

Staupitz was requested by George Duke of Saxony, of the 
Albertine branch of the Saxon house and cousin to the 
Elector of Saxony, to recommend him a good and learned 
preacher. The Vicar- General recommended "Brother Martin,^^ 
who was accordingly invited by the Duke to preach in the 
Castle Chapel at Dresden. Luther obeyed the summons, and 
preached before the Duke on the twenty-fifth of July, the 
festival of James the Great. He chose for his subject the 
Gospel of the day, the petition of the mother of Zebedee's 
children in behalf of her two sons, and began by remarking 

* In a letter dated tlie 27th January, 1517. 


1517. on the frequency of foolish wishes and prayers ; and then 
passed to the right object of desire — the soul's salvation. He 
spoke of faithj the badge of Christian discipleship, of free 
election and the comfort of such a doctrine viewed in con- 
nexion with the Saviour's finished work_, of the obligation on 
all men never to despair of salvation, if they only diligently 
read and obey the Word of God ; and he concluded with an 
anecdote of three virgins.* It was the first time that Luther 
and Duke George had been within the same walls. At his 
dinner table the Duke turned to his Duchess' lady of the bed- 
chamber, Barbara Von Sala, and inquired what she thought of 
the sermon ? "I could die in peace/' she eagerly replied, 
" could I only hear such another ! " and a month afterwards 
she did die, in the fulness of Christian faith. But the Duke 
grew very angry : " he would give a great deal," he said, 
" that he had never heard such a sermon at all ; such 
preaching could have no effect but to encourage and harden 
men in sin.'' And he repeated his opinion aloud, with great 
warmth, several times. There was in the palace a secretary 
and councillor of the Duke, a licenciate of canon law^, Jerome 
Emser by name, who entreated or rather compelled Luther to 
take supper with him on the evening of the day on which he 
had preached. John Lange and the Piior of Dresden, and a 
Master of Arts of Leipsic, were the other guests. It soon 
appeared that a snare had been laid for Lulher by his enter- 
tainer : for the Master of Arts directed the conversation into 
the channel of doctrinal controversy ; whilst behind the door 
a Dominican was intently listening to all that passed, and had 
considerable difficulty in restraining himself from bursting 
into the room and spitting in Luther's face. Neither Thomas 
himself, nor any Thomist, Luther asseverated, had ever really 
understood a single chapter of Aristotle. On both sides the 

* De Wette, I. p. 81. See Seckend. I. p. 23. 


controversy became excited and noisy. The Master of Arts 1517. 
bragged a great deal of his acquirements and talents, and 
treated his opponent as far beneath him in learning. " Come/' 
Luther said, nothing daunted, " do you Thomists club all 
your learning together, and define in what obedience to the 
commands of God consists : I know there is not a Thomist in 
the world who knows as much as that.^^ " GiA^e me my fee 
first/' said the Master of Arts, extending his hand. Luther 
and his friends laughed outright at this evasion ; and the 
party broke up. But Emser took care to inform the Duke of 
Saxony that Luther had been completely worsted in argument, 
and had not been able to say a word in his own defence in 
Latin or German. And to aggravate the disgrace he had 
fallen into with the Duke and his creatures, it was pretended 
that the story of the three virgins was intended to have a 
personal application, and had been supplied from the private 
history of the Dresden Court. 

A little later Luther published ninety-nine propositions, 
" on the will and understanding " against the Pelagianism of 
the day, based on Aristotle and the schoolmen. The follow- 
ing selections will show the drift of his views : — 

" Man having become a corrupt tree can only do what is 

" The appetite is not free to pursue good or evil ; it is not 
free, but bound. 

" Man by nature does not wish God to be God ; but wishes 
himself to be God. 

" Nothing precedes grace but an indisposition for, or rebel- 
lion against, grace. 

" Man without God's grace sins every moment, though he 
may not commit murder, or adultery, or theft. 
" It is sin not to fulfil the law spiritually. 
" To love God is to hate one's self, and to love nothing else 
but God. 


1517. " Syllogism has no place in theology.^' * 

These propositions Luther forwarded to Lange, and offered 
to maintain them publicly, either in the University or in the 
Augustine Convent at Erfurth ; for " he did not wish merely 
to whisper them in a corner, if the University of Wittenberg 
could be of so small account as to be no better than a cor- 
ner." Desirous that the principles of scriptural theology 
should be circulated as widely as possible, he sent them also to 
Scheurl of Nuremberg, with the request that he would com- 
municate them to " our Eck, that most learned and ingenious 
man, that I may hear and see what he says of them." This 
Avas John Meyer, more generally called Eck, from a village in 
Suabia, whose fame in Southern Germany, as the chief orna- 
ment of the University of Ingoldstadt, rivalled that of Luther 
in Northern Germany. 

The preceding narrative has attempted to point out the 
successive stages in Luther's preparation or education for that 
great part in the revival of the true faith of Christ which Pro- 
vidence had assigned him. Early hardships, mental disci- 
pline — above all, spiritual conflicts and the deep study of 
God's word — had ripened him for his work. He had found 
God his Saviour for his own heart : and, like David, he had 
already poised in his hand the pebbles from the brook, the 
holy principles drawn from the stream of inspiration, which 
were to strike to the ground the giant of Pelagianism and 
formal religion. It would be untrue to say that he had not 
formed the idea of becoming a Reformer ; t for he had dis- 
tinctly formed it, had counted the cost, and even launched on 
the enterprise, and his mind was engrossed with the para- 
mount duty of reviving the ancient doctrine of the Church, 
the doctrine of Scripture and of the Fathers, in place of that 

* Nulla forma syllogistica tenet in terminis divinis. 
t This oven the mendacious Audin seems to confess. See Vol. I. 
pp. 56, 57. 


Aristotelic Thoraist school theology which had paralysed 1517. 
faith and heart piety. But this was all he had as yet con- 
ceived, excepting so far as he was conscious that the revival of 
Scriptural truth would bring in its train great moral bless- 
ings. His reverence for the Roman Church was as yet deep 
and untouched; and he only wanted to remind that large 
section of it^ whom Aristotle and the schoolmen had deluded, 
what was in fact the real doctrine of the Catholic Church, 
as taught by the early fathers, and founded on the Bible. 
With a view to this doctrinal regeneration he was doing all 
that lay in his power, to excite curiosity, and stimulate 
enquiry, as the first step towards the attainment of truth. 

But it must be added, that all his faith as to the success of 
his endeavours was built upon God alone. His religion was 
"God, not man;" and this principle ran through the whole 
of his individual character, as well as constituted the bond of 
unity in his teaching. Thus he never moved an inch beyond 
his proper sphere. He had been advanced step by step 
towards the goal, but rather against than with his own free 
consent. And making his solemn vows to God and in the 
face of man the landmarks of his course, he was about to 
be taught by the way what as yet he had no conception of: 
to proceed to a point far beyond his ken, nothing short of the 
reconstruction of the Christian faith and Church on their pri- 
mitive foundations, leading one half of Christendom with him. 
And, as an indirect result of his success, he was destined to 
fix the doctrines, invigorate the energies, and do something 
towards purifying the life, even of that branch of Christianity 
which should persevere in adhering to man's authority against 
the dictates of the inspired word. 




1517. Purgatory, the mass, and the plenary indulgence, are the 
three doctrines by which especially the Roman Pontiffs con- 
solidated their power and filled their coffers. The origin 
of the last was as follows : — In early times penance was 
exacted for spiritual or moral delinquencies with extreme 
rigour, not by way of expiation, but in proof of sincere 
contrition. But gradually the real object of penance came 
to be lost sight of, and in a superstitious age it was looked 
upon in the light of a satisfaction or atonement. To as- 
sume the cross and pass to Palestine to do battle for the 
Holy Sepulchre, was accepted by the Church in lieu of every 
penance : and not only was a plenary indulgence published to 
all those who took the vow of the crusader ; but, as money 
was required as well as soldiers, it was sold to such as prefer- 
red remaining at home at a cost proportioned to their rank 
and wealth. The application of this doctrine to another sub- 
ject was easy, particularly as pilgrimages were often enjoined 
by way of penance : and in 1300, the centenary jubilee year 
was established by Boniface VIII., and a plenary indulgence 
was granted to all who visited Rome within the allotted time. 
But the interval of a hundred years was found too long, and 
was abbreviated first to fifty, then to twenty-five years ; and 
at last the opportunity of buying pardon recurred at the 
Pope's discretion :* and a journey to Rome not always being 

* Walch. XV. pp. 3—275. See Polani, Hist. Cone. Trid. p. 4. 


convenient, the papal pardoners were soon to be found in 1517. 
every land. Like prayers and masses^ the indulgence was 
brought to bear on the condition of the dead in purgatory ; it 
conveyed remission, so at least tauglit the indulgence mer- 
chants, for every conceivable sin ; and, as the power of the 
keys was without limit, was even declared to avail for the 
pardon of sins, past, present, or future. 

Leo X. was not the Pontiff to forego such a means of 
revenue. Engaged in erecting the magnificent fabric of 
St. Peter's at Rome, with a most costly establishment of mi- 
nisters to his pleasures, poets, painters, musicians, huntsmen, 
grooms, and falconers, with a taste for all the elegancies of 
life, sculpture, architecture, rare manuscripts and articles of 
vertu, and besides, with the family of the Medici leaning 
upon him for support, far better acquainted with the art of 
giving than acquiring, and for the latter purpose compelled to 
employ the skill of the Cardinal Quatuor Sanctorum, he 
found even the mines of wealth which the Chm'cli had dis- 
covered in the credulity of the people, inadequate to satisfy 
his needs. In some countries the Pontiff was wont to keep 
the management of the indulgence traffic in his own hands ; 
in others to let it out to contractors. When Albert Arch- 
bishop of Mentz and Magdeburg, made application to farm 
the profits of the sale in Germany, Leo demanded the pay- 
ment due for his pallium. This the Fuggers of Augsburg, 
the great money firm in Germany in that age, consented to 
advance on the security of the indulgence proceeds ; and, by 
their entering into a contract with Albert, the Archbishop was 
enabled to conclude his bargain with Leo. Personages of 
however high rank and position, involved in such an affair of 
huckstering for their reciprocal advantage, were not likely to 
be scrupulous in their choice of a subordinate agent, and ac- 
cordingly .John Diezel, or Tetzcl, the son of a goldsmith of 


1517. Leipsic, a Dominican and inquisitor, who had often filled the 
oflfice before, and had remarkable talents for it, the voice of a 
town-crier, mendacity unlimited in power of invention, and 
extreme impudence, was pitched upon to hawk about the 
spiritual wares, and dispose of them on the most lucrative 
terms. "^ The Gruardian of the Franciscans was joined with 
Albert in the Pope^s commission ; but he was a mere cypher, 
a name which might serve to reflect a little respectability on 
the undertaking ; for as to any actual concern in it he and his 
order were opposed to the whole proceeding. 

In the summer of 1517 Tetzel established his indulgence mar- 
ket at Juterbock, a few miles from Wittenberg. He was pro- 
hibited by Frederic from entering Saxony, because he ob- 
jected to the indulgence tax being levied on his subjects, and 
also on personal grounds, for at Inspruck Tetzel had been con- 
victed of adultery, and sentenced to be thrown in a sack into 
the river. Frederic had himself begged him off,t but was in- 
censed that the pardon traffic should be entrusted to an agent 
of proved bad character, and for other reasons he was not on 
particularly good terms with the Archbishop of Mentz. Yet 
Frederic had purchased letters of indulgence for his Church 
of All Saints immediately from Rome, and thus given his 
sanction to the indulgence doctrine itself. Notwithstanding, 
however, the known sentiments of their Prince, many of the 
inhabitants of Wittenberg flocked to TetzeFs pardon-counter 
at Juterbock, and returned home with a plenary indulgence. 

The theatrical colouring which Tetzel was careful to throw 
over his proceedings was well adapted to influence the popu- 
lace. He and his party, consisting of Friar Bartholomew and 

* Tetzel sold, besides indulgences, dispensations to eat meat, &c., on 
fast days, licences to choose such a father confessor as was most accept- 
able, &c. Polaui. Histor. p. 4. 

t Melchior Adam. Vitse Theologorum, p. 105. 


two secretaries, were generally received at the gates of a town 1517. 
hj the Council and the clergy in their robes, monks, nuns, 
choristers, and the scholars of the principal schools, and with 
lighted candles, floating banners, and amidst the ringing of 
bells mingling with the notes of music, conducted to the 
church or cathedral. The Pope's brief was borne in state 
before him, and he carried in his hand the red cross. On 
entering the church the tall red cross, surmounted with the 
Pope's arms, was set up at the high altar ; the money counter 
was placed beneath it; and the papal brief on its velvet 
cushion was displayed in full view. Then Tetzel, in the garb 
of the Dominicans, mounted the pulpit, and with stentorian 
voice harangued the multitude on the infallibility of the Pope 
and the efficacy of his pardons. The indulgence, he stated, 
was the very grace of Jesus Christ ; and he himself, as the dis- 
penser of such a blessing, was not to be compared with St. 
Peter, for he had saved many more souls than the Apostle. 
At the close of the oration Brother Bartholomew shouted, 
" Come and buy, come and buy." 

The penitents knelt at confessionals suspended with the 
Papal arms ; they mumbled over their confession, and passed 
to the altar ; dropped the stipulated sum into the money box, 
and received in return a sealed letter of pardon. But after 
his traffic in any place had been concluded, Tetzel commonly 
sat down with his assistants to a merry drinking bout ; played 
at dice, staking sometimes, it was said, the salvation of souls 
on the cast; and jested at the credulity of the poor fools 
whom he had tricked of their money. The tavern keeper had 
to take his indulgence letters in exchange for his accommoda- 
tion ; and they thus circulated like paper money, only that 
they were made payable in another world. 

An instance of his craft, which occurred at Zwickau, has 
been particularly noted by cotemporaries. The money bag 

VOL. I. G 


1517. liad been sealed up when the chaplains and altarists applied 
to Tetzcl to give them a supper. His invention was put to 
the rack, but quickly struck upon a device. He ordered the 
church bell to be tolled, and ascended the pulpit. The in- 
habitants of the place, roused by the bell from their occupa- 
tions, and prompted by curiosity, repaired to the church ; 
when Tetzel informed them that he had intended to quit 
their town that very day, but in the preceding night his 
slumbers had been broken by groans from the adjoining 
cemetery, of some poor soul still suffering in purgatory. 
Whose relative he or she might be no one could affirm, but 
it was unquestionably the soul of a poor adulterous man or 
woman; and all the pious were concerned to release the 
sinner from torment : in such a cause he would be the first 
to contribute. His example was followed by the whole com- 
pany, for all wished to be regarded among the pious, who 
could compassionate the sins of others and their punishment. 
An ample sum was collected ; and Tetzel and his associates 
sat down to a jovial entertainment, made the more merry by 
the adroitness which had procured it.* 

When Luther first heard of Tetzel' s proceedings he ex- 
claimed, " God willing, I will beat a hole in his drum." But 
it was in the confessional that Luther's sincere principles of 
religion were first brought into actual collision with the reck- 
less and avaricious dogmas of Tetzel. Several persons con- 
fessed their iniquities and demanded absolution with the frank 
acknowledgment that they had no intention of lea^dng off 
sin, which would be an unnecessary act of self-denial. In 
explanation of such a statement they displayed a prospective 
indulgence letter. Luther assured them of the absurdity of 
their notions and the worthlessness of the paper which they 

* Walch. XV. p. 442. 


thought a passport to heaven, and refused them absohition 1517. 
unless they were seriously bent upon amendment. In reply 
they confronted with his teaching the pulpit declarations of 
Tetzel; and when an opportunity offered, reported to the 
pardon-seller what the Doctor of Wittenberg asserted of the 
doctrines he declaimed with such vehemence from the pulpit. 
The hostility was thus begun ; and fresh fuel was continually 
added to its fire. On the 14th September Luther, from the 
pulpit of Wittenberg parish church, discoursed to the people 
on the delusions which had obtained circulation on the subject 
of indulgences. '' According to Aquinas," he said, " Repent- 
ance was divided into Contrition, Confession, and Satisfaction : 
indulgences could only affect the last, but could be no satis- 
faction for guilt ; for God of his mercy freely forgives through 
Christ all who will turn to him and lead a holy life for the 
future. Indulgences therefore only remit the satisfaction or 
penance imposed by the Church. The poor of the place had 
the first claim for charity, the churches of the neighbourhood 
the next ; and when these prior demands had been satisfied, 
then it might be well to contribute towards the erection of St. 
Peter's."^ Yet it must be far better to give to build St. Peter's 
out of pure charity than to compound with the gift for a letter 
of indulgence.'^ But he allowed of the authority of the Pope, 
and the existence of purgatory. When Tetzel heard of this 
sermon he flew into a towering rage ; mounted the pulpit, 
vaunted the infallibility of the Pontiff, and consigned his ad- 
versary to eternal perdition as a blasphemous heretic. f And 
to symbolize his sense of his deserts he caused a monster bon- 

* Seckend. I. p. 24. Walcli. VIII. p. 533. L. Lat. op. Jense, I. p. 13. 

t " I^on jam conciones sed fulmina in Lutherum torquet, vociferatur 
ubique hunc liaereticum igni perdendum esse ; propositiones etiam 
Lutlieri et concionem de indulgentiis publice conjicit inflammas." — 

G 2 


1517. fire to be lighted in the market square, aud rioted in his 
denunciations of heresy and its doom. He afterwards pub- 
lished in more moderate tone " a refutation " of the sermon, 
mentioning it as the sermon of twenty articles ; and to this 
"refutation" Luther replied,"^ or rather to the corner stone 
of its doctrine, commending all Tetzel's "superfluous paper 
flowers and dry leaves to the dear wind Avhich had leisure 
to dispose of them.'^ f Some time before this, however, the 
Dominican had broken up camp from Juterbock, and moved 
to Frankfort on the Oder. 

On the 31st October, the eve of the festival of All Saints, 
when the saintly bones and precious relics, enclosed some in 
gold, others in silver, or in gems, which Frederic had collected 
at incredible pains and cost for his favourite church, were ex- 
posed to the public gaze, and multitudes of pilgrims were 
thronging the way to the cathedral, Luther appeared in the 
crowd and posted on the door ninety -five theses J on the doc- 
trine of indulgences, which he engaged to maintain in the 
University against whatever opponent, mouth to mouth, the 
next day, or against the absent by letter. The first proposi- 
tion stated — "Our Lord aud Master Jesus Christ, in saying 
Repent, intended that the whole life of the faithful should 
be a repentance." He proceeded to say — 

4. The Pope does not intend to remit and cannot remit any 
punishments but those he has himself imposed of his own 
will or by the Canons. 

8. The penitential Canons ought to be imposed on the living 
only ; nothing ought to be imposed on the dying in obedience 
to them. 

* Freyheit des Sermons, &c. Walcb. XVII. p. 564, &c. It was 
written by Luther in June, 1518. 

t Dem lieben winde der aucb mussigcr ist. 
;J; Lat. op. JeniB, I. p. 3. 


16. Hell, purgatory and heaven seem to differ as despair, a 1517. 
feeling akin to despair, and safety, 

20. The Pope by the plenary remission of all penalties 
means simply all those imposed by himself. 

25. The same power which the Pope has over purgatory 
generally, every bishop has also in his own diocese, and every 
curate in his own parish. 

26. The Pope is right in that he gives remission to the 
dead, not by power of the keys (which he cannot), but by 

32. They will be condemned for ever with their masters, 
who believe that by letters of indulgences they are secure of 
their salvation. 

35. It is unchristian to teach that an indulgence letter in 
behalf of the dead or living can dispense with the necessity 
of contrition. 

43. He who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does 
far better than he who buys an indulgence letter. 

58. The merits of Christ and the saints always, without the 
Pope, work grace in the inner man ; the cross, death, and 
hell in the outward man. 

62. The true treasure of the Church is the ever blessed 
Gospel of God's grace and glory. 

76. The papal pardons cannot remit even the least of venial 
sins as regards the guilt. 

Such propositions exhibit the enlightenment of Luther's 
mind, notwithstanding much lingering ignorance on the 
merits of saints, the necessity of macerating the body, and 
the existence of purgatory. But he did not intend to main- 
tain all the ninety-five theses in the affirmative : he threw 
them out, according to his wont, to awaken enquiry with a 
view to the better information of himself and others. 

The same evening he enclosed the theses to the Archbishop 


1517. of Mentz, whom he addressed in a most humble letter. 
"The grace and mercy of God^ and all that may be and is. 
Spare me, most reverend Father in Christ, illustrious Prince, 
that I the dregs of men have so much boldness as to medi- 
tate a letter to your sublime dignity. The Lord Jesus is my 
witness that, conscious of my meanness and vileness, I have 
long deferred what now I essay with unabashed forehead, 
moved chiefly by a sense of the faithfulness I owe to you, my 
most reverend Father in Christ. Therefore will your High- 
ness deign to throw an eye on a piece of dust, and hear my 
prayer for your and the papal clemency ? Papal indulgences 
are carried about under your illustrious name for building 
St. Peter's Church, in which I do not blame the statements 
of the commissaries, for I have not heard them, but grieve 
over the false conceptions of the multitude, which I learn 
from all sides — that those who buy an indulgence are secure 
of salvation ; that the soul flies out of purgatory as soon as 
the money jingles in the box ; that the grace of the indul- 
gence is so great, that, if a man could perpetrate the impos- 
sible crime of violating the Mother of God, it would remit it ; 
and that by such means all punishment and all guilt are for- 
given and done away. O blessed God ! It is thus that souls 
committed to your charge, most reverend Father, are in- 
structed to death, and every day the account you will have to 
render becomes more awful. For no one can be assured of 
salvation through any Bishop; the grace of God within us 
cannot even make us secure ; but we are bidden to be always 
working out our salvation in fear and trembling. Even ' the 
righteous is scarcely saved :' — * Strait is the gate which 
leadeth to life :' and the Lord, by his prophets Amos and 
Zacharias, calls those who shall be saved ' brands plucked 
from the burning ;' and everywhere declares the extreme dif- 
ficulty of salvation. Why, then, by those false indulgence 


fables and promises make the people secure and without fear ? 1517. 
For indulgences are of no avail to the soul as regards its sal- 
vation or sanctificatioUj but only remove the sentence of the 
Church, the canonical penance. In fine, works of piety and 
charity are infinitely better than indulgences ; and the chief 
duty of a Bishop is to teach the Gospel and the love of Christ. 
Moreover, most reverend Father in the Lord, in the instruc- 
tion to the commissaries, published under your name (doubt- 
less without your consent or knowledge), it is stated that 
indulgences are the inestimable gift whereby man is recon- 
ciled to God, and the torments of purgatory are removed ; 
and that, for those who buy them contrition is unnecessary. 
What can I do, noble Prelate, illustrious Prince, but by the 
Lord Jesus Christ implore you to destroy that book clean out 
of hand, and give the commissaries another form for preach- 
ing ; lest perchance some one rise up to confute them and 
that book, to the great calumny of your most illustrious 
Highness. I should dread such an event; but I foresee it 
must be, unless timely measures are resorted to. May your 
Grace receive as a Prince and a Bishop these faithful offices 
from one so mean, which I ofl'er with the most faithful and 
devoted heart ; for I am a part of your fold. And the 
Lord Jesus keep you for ever. Your unworthy son, Martin 
Luther,'^ &c.^ 

He also enclosed the theses, and wrote to his diocesan, the 
Bishop of Brandenburg, and subsequently to others of the 
neighbouring prelates. The Bishop of Brandenburg in reply 
communicated with Luther by letter, and by a special mes- 
senger the Abbot of Lenin ;t hinted his concurrence in con- 
demning all the proclamations of indulgences, but regretted 

* De Weite, I. pp. 67—70. 

t De Wette, I. p. 71. Abbas Leninensis. 


1517. that Luther's sermon in German had been published^ and im- 
plored him not to publish, or at least to postpone the publica- 
tion of the proofs of his theses. Luther himself states that 
he was overcome by the condescension of this treatment, and 
in the confusion of his modesty answered, " I am content ; 
T had rather be obedient than work miracles." Albert of 
Meutz took no notice of his letter. 

But however eager the Bishop of Brandenburg might be to 
hush up the matter to avoid ecclesiastical scandal, and how- 
ever reluctant Luther himself was at this period, as he ex- 
pressly affirms, to advance, it was not probable that the monks 
and inquisitors, whose happiest dreams were of heretics con- 
sumed at the stake, would leave tlie Wittenberg Professor in 
peace ; nor could society, which was stirred to its depths by 
the sermon and theses, suffer the affair to drop. The theses 
passed to the Emperor Maximilian ; to Eeuchlin at Stutgard; 
to Erasmus in the Low Countries. The pilgrims carried them 
home in their wallets : translations of them appeared even in 
Holland and Spain ; within a month they had travelled the 
round of Europe; a copy was offei-ed for sale in Jerusalem. 
It seemed, says Myconius, as though the angels were the 
carriers. In the evening of one day an unknown monk had 
become an European character ; and palace and cottage rang 
Avith his name. Letters of thanks, acknowledgments of the 
truth he was vindicating, poured in upon him. Many monks 
who like Luther himself had a relish for evangelical piety, 
looked forth from their cells to hail the dawn of a new reli- 
gious era. E-euchlin, Hutten, Siekingen, were transported 
with joy ; Maximilian exclaimed, " This monk will give the 
priests some trouble ;" Erasmus hardly concealed his approval ; 
Bishop Bibra spoke out, and pronounced the prhiciples of the 
Wittenberg monk most conformable to the Scriptures; Albert 
Durer sent Luther a present, doubtless a work of his art, in 


token of his love.* The whole world exclaimed, " What a 1517. 
bold monk ! " The prophecy of John Huss was remembered, 
that, "though they might kill the goose (Huss), after a hun- 
dred years a swan would succeed to whose notes they would 
listen.^' The hundred years had just run their course. 

If the dream ascribed to the Elector of Saxony be true, it 
must be regarded as showing the current of opinion, or in 
other words, that '^coming events cast their shadows before 
them." It is said that on the morning of the 31st October, 
Frederic of Saxony in his castle of Schweinitz, six leagues 
from Wittenberg, was pondering how to keep the festival of 
All Saints when he fell asleep. He dreamt that the Almighty 
sent a monk to him, a true son of the Apostle Paul. The 
monk asked permission to write something on the door of 
the castle church of Wittenberg, which was granted. The 
monk took his pen and wrote, but in characters so big, that 
they could be clearly read as far as Schweinitz. The pen grew 
longer and longer, until at last its tip reached to Rome, 
wounded the ears of a lion, and shook the triple crown on the 
Pontifl''3 head. All the cardinals and princes put out their 
hands to stay the tottering crown. The Elector in his dream 
did the same ; and awoke with the effort. He soon dropped 
asleep again, and went on dreaming of the mighty monk with 
the long pen. The lion began to roar, the Pontiff and the 
States of the Empire roused themselves and called on the 
Elector to restrain the monk, because he was one of his sub- 
jects. Frederic awoke again; repeated a paternoster; and 
again fell asleep. He dreamt that the princes of the Empire, 
himself and his brother among them, flocked to Rome in 
order to break the pen ; but the more they tried, the stronger 
it grew ; it seemed made of iron and bafiled all their attempts. 

* Tlirough Scbeurl of Nuremberg. De Wette, I. p. 95. 


1517. The Elector enquired of the monk whence he had procured 
such a strong pen, and was answered that it once belonged to 
the wing of a goose of Bohemia. Presently a loud noise was 
heard ; a number of other pens had issued from the long iron 
pen, and were all writing. Frederic awoke, and it was day- 

Yet when the first act towards the accomplishment of this 
prophetic vision was achieved, the Elector of Saxony was far 
from according his approbation. He was full of alarm for the 
credit of his University ; he dreaded the height to which con- 
troversy might grow, and sent to Luther to intimate the pain 
which his conduct gave him. The monks of his convent also, 
and the Prior, expostulated with him on his rashness, and 
mourned over the disgrace which he would bring on his order. 
The monks of his old convent at Erfurth likewise arraigned 
him of conceit and pride. '' That,'^ he answered, " has always 
been made the charge against such as would not consult the 
oracles of the old opinions ; the humility you require of me 
would be mere hypocrisy." Luther in fact had acted quite 
alone; neither the Elector,* nor Staupitz, nor his brother 
monks had known anything of his intention ; he had been 
careful to act thus independently in order to implicate no one 
but himself. Moreover, whatever might be the admiration of 
high-spirited men like Hutten, the low-minded and timid, 
always the majority, anticipated Eriar Martin's ruin as the 
sequel of the history. "Alas! poor monk," it was said, 
" what can you do against the power of the Church ; creep into 
your cell, and cry. Have mercy on me." It cannot be sup- 
posed that such representations and forebodings carried no 
weight A\ath them, Luther has declared that he felt for the 
moment alone, a poor humble friar attenuated by study and 

* De Wette, I. p. 76. 


fastings until " he was more like a corpse than a living man." 1517. 
At the same time he revered the authority of the Church ; he 
not only venerated, but even almost adored the Pontiff; and 
thus there was a struggle in his own breast between his con- 
flicting and even contradictory sentiments. But on the other 
hand he was convinced he had done his duty, he had kept 
his vow; and it is thus he wrote to Lange — " I wish what I 
do, not to be done by man^s counsel but by God's. If the 
work be of God, who can prevent it? If it be of man, who 
can further it ? Thy will be done. Holy Father, who art in 
heaven. Amen." 

Just at this time he made application to the Elector for 
some cloth which had been promised him for a gown : the 
courtiers, he complained, would only spin him fine words, 
which " would not beat into good cloth : " * and by favour of 
Frederic his suit was complied with. No doubt the want of 
a suitable gown was impressed on his mind by the probability 
of his having to appear in public disputations. 

Tetzel had found a cordial shelter in the University of Frank- 
fort on the Oder, and under the wing of Conrad Wimpina, a 
learned professor, framed two distinct series of antitheses, 
which he engaged to maintain "to the glory of God, the 
defence of the Catholic faith, and the honour of the Apostolic 
See." The first series related to the subject of indulgences, 
and stated, that, 

3. "Whoever maintains that Christ when he preached. Re- 
pent, intended only inward repentance and outward mortifica- 
tion of the flesh, 

4. "Without teaching or implying the sacrament of penance 
and its parts, confession and satisfaction, as obligatory, errs. 
Nay it is of no avail, if inward repentance works outward 

* De Wette, I. p. 77. 


1517. mortification, unless there be in act or intention confession 
and satisfaction, 

5. This satisfaction (since God suffers no fault to go with- 
out vengeance) is by punishment or its equivalent in the Divine 

6. Which is either imposed by priests, at their discretion, 
or according to the Canon, or sometimes is exacted by the 
divine justice to be paid here or in purgatory. 

9. This punishment by way of satisfaction, if once duly 
paid, he who is absolved is not bound to pay again. 

11. This punishment imposed for deeds, for which contri- 
tion has been felt, and confession made, the Pope by indul- 
gences can entirely remit. 

Such was the Romish indulgence doctrine as explained by 
Conrad Wimpina, resting on the double assumption, that 
man can by his own acts or sufferings atone for his misdeeds, 
and that the priest, or at least the Pope, is in the place of 
God. But as the whole hinged on this supposed power of the 
Pontiff, the second series of antitheses, so framed as to detect 
" at the first glance every heretical, schismatical, pertinacious, 
contumacious, erroneous, seditious, ill-tongued, presumptuous, 
and injurious person,'^ declared — that 

1. The power of the Pope is supreme in the Church, and 
instituted by God alone; and the whole world together can- 
not restrain or augment it. 

3. The authority of the Pope is superior to that of the 
whole Church and of a General Council; and humble obedi- 
ence must be rendered to his statutes. 

4. The Pope can alone determine points of faith, and in- 
terpret Scripture. 

Here was the Aristotelic Thomist system of religion in full 
vigour. But it is important to observe how by this means, 
on the very threshold of the controversy, the question was 


sliifted back to first principles_, from the doctrine of Repent- 1517. 
ance and Indulgences to the alleged supremacy and infalli- 
bility of the Pope. " Tetzel," said Luther, "treats Scripture 
as a sow does a sack of oats.'^ It was Scripture and the 
earliest Christian records which the Reformer was now driven 
to search upon this one head, the claim of the Pope to infal- 
libility. One link in the Roman chain of doctrines had been 
unbound ; and now, in consequence, the metal itself, from 
which the chain was wrought, was to be tested. 

Tetzel and Wimpina had fixed the 20th January as the 
day for the disputation. It was much easier to defend their 
positions at Frankfort, than to take up the gauntlet which 
Luther had flung down, and meet him in the lists at Witten- 
berg. They promised themselves to carry the day without 
any antagonist offering to contest the palm. But in this they 
were deceived, for John Knipstrcw, a student of the Univer- 1518. 
sity, a youth of about twenty years of age, manfully main- 
tained the opinions of Luther ; and Tetzel retreated under 
the shield of Wimpina. At the close of the discussion Tetzel 
was elevated to the degree of Doctor : and in the evening, a 
pulpit and scaffold having been erected in the suburbs, the 
new made Doctor raved from the pulpit against heresy, and 
placing Luthex''s sermon and theses on the scaffold, burnt them 
amidst the acclamations of the crowd. Tetzel's antitheses 
were brought to Wittenberg by a man of Halle ; the students 
of Wittenberg bought or seized the 800 copies which the 
vendor had with him, and in the ardour of their zeal for the 
Scriptures, and in revenge of the insult to Luther, burnt 
them publicly at two o'clock in the afternoon in the market 
place. This act, however, was regarded by the authorities 
with great displeasure, as increasing the daager of Luther's 

The addresses of tlie indulgence-sellers to the populace 


1518. had never ceased to vilify the monk of Wittenberg with every 
term of abuse and mode of threat. Sometimes they gave 
out that within five days he wouUl be led to the stake; then 
the term of respite was extended to a month ; or he was to be 
summoned before the inquisitorial tribunal at Rome. It 
aggravated their fury that the fictions which they rehearsed 
to the multitude were every day falling more into disrepute ; 
and, amongst the clergy themselves, there were springing up 
those who, like Egranus the preacher of Zwickau, laughed at 
the foolish legends of the Saints, which a little while before 
had been deemed sacred. 

The first direct attack upon Luther^s indulgence doctrines 
came from Rome itself — from Sylvester Prierias, the Roman 
Censor, and Master of the Palace — and reached the Reformer 
early in January. It was a dialogue between Luther and 
Prierias, dedicated to Leo ; and the preface stated that the 
following answer to an obscure monk, Martin Luther by 
name, had occupied the author three days, and interrupted so 
long his commentary on the first chapter of the second book 
of St. Thomas. Yet the Pope himself gave no great encou- 
ragment to the zeal of his Master of the Palace. When he 
first heard of the famous theses, he spoke of them as " doubt- 
less the work of some drunken German ; " but, after an in- 
spection of them, when Prierias presented his Dialogue, 
replied, that " Friar Martin was a man of genius ; he did not 
wish to have him molested ; the outcry against him was all 
monkish jealousy." But Leo^s prudence or indifiference was 
easily overruled by his cardinals and courtiers. 

Before entering on the Dialogue, Prierias laid down four 
rules or first principles : — " 1 . The Universal Church essen- 
tially is a congregation for divine worship of all believers in 
Christ ; but the Universal Church is virtually the Roman 
Church, the head of all Churches, and the Supreme PontiflP. 


The Romish Church representatively is the College of Cardi- 1518. 
nals ; virtually it is the Supreme Pontiff, who is the head of 
the Church, but in a different sense from Christ. 2. As the 
Universal Church cannot err in determining concerning faith 
or manners, so a true Council, doing what in it lies to under- 
stand the truth, cannot err, by which I mean its head being 
included; or, at last and finally (it may perhaps at first be 
deceived as long as the act of enquiry into the truth continues ; 
nay, it has even sometimes erred ; but at last, through the Holy 
Spirit, it has understood the truth), in like manner, the Roman 
Church cannot err, nor the supreme Pontiff; that is, officially 
pronouncing and doing what in him lies to understand the 
truth. 3. Whoever does not rely on the doctrine of the 
Roman Church, and of the Roman Pontiff, as the infallible 
rule of faith, from which even Scripture derives its strength 
and authority, is a heretic. 4, The Roman Church, as it can 
in word so in act, can determine anything respecting faith 
and manners. And, consequently, as a heretic is one who 
thinks amiss concerning the truth of the Scriptures, so too 
one who thinks amiss concerning the doctrine and acts of the 
Church in matters pertaining to faith and manners, is a 

To these first principles was appended, as a corollary, that 
" He who, in the matter of indulgences, says that the Roman 
Church cannot do what it actually does, is a heretic." The 
Dialogue then opened with the invitation, " Come now, 
Martin, let us hear your propositions ;" and after severe casti- 
gation by word of mouth, Martin was handed over to the 
ministers of the Inquisition. 

Luther received this "Dialogue" from Nuremberg, and 
sent it to Spalatin, together with a Dialogue of Lucian, just 
translated into Latin by Mosellanus, both to be returned to 


1518. liim.* He consulted his fellow professors at Wittenberg on 
tlie expediency of returning an answer to Pricrias ; but it 
was generally agreed tliat the " Dialogue " must be a burlesque, 
like the " Literse obscurorum Virorum/' He continued to 
preach, lecture, and instruct the people by his writings. 
About this period he published an exposition of the 110th 
Psalm, an explanation of the Lord's Prayer, and other popular 
tracts ; and he was writing his " Solutions " of his ninety-five 
theses, the publication of which he still deferred out of respect 
to his Bishop. He was deeply studying Scripture and the early 
Fathers, and examining the foundations of the Papacy. " Be 
assured,'' he wrote to Spalatin, who had asked his advice on 
the true mode of studying the Bible, " that the Bible cannot 
be understood by mere study or intellect. Begin with prayer, 
that it would please God of his boundless mercy to grant you 
an understanding of his word ; not to your glory, but his own. 
Pray to be taught of God, and utterly distrust your own abi- 
lities ; and then, in entire self- despair, read the Bible through 
in order from beginning to eud."t " I have great reason," 
he wrote in another letter, " to be on the watch against pride, 
for my opponents are destitute of all literature, human and 
divine." "In every work," he wrote to Spalatin, "if we 
would be successful, we must be animated by two sentiments, 
despair and confidence ; despair of all we can do, confidence 
in God." " Send me," he wrote to Lange, " Lucian's Dia- 
logues, More's Utopia, which Richard Pace mentions, and his 
Epigrams, Wolfgang's Hebrew Institutes, above all Erasmus' 
Apology against Faber." Thus religiously composed, calm 
and peaceful, was Luther after the storm had begun, when the 
indulgence-merchants and the inquisitors were howling on all 
sides, and Rome was on the point of taking up their cause. 

* De Wette, I. p. 86. t De Wette, I. p. 88. 


A new antagonist rose up in the person of Dr. Eck, who 1518. 
had recently contracted a friendship with Luther, Avhich had 
been cemented by an interchange of letters. But Eck had 
two principal reasons for acting as he now did. The most 
eminent Professor of Ingolstadt University, itself an offshoot 
from Leipsic, and like that a rival of Wittenberg, he did not 
desire that Wittenberg or its Doctor should eclipse the repu- 
tation of other academies and Professors. He was moreover 
deeply imbued with the old scholastic spirit ; as Luther after- 
wards said of him, " crammed with the bran and husks of 
Scotus and Gabriel, and saturated with Aristotle." Eck 
wrote a treatise against the ninety-five theses, at the sugges- 
tion, as he stated, of his Diocesan the Bishop of Eichstadt, to 
whom he submitted it and then circulated it privately amongst 
his friends ; giving the work the name of the " Obelisks," 
because he marked with an obelisk those propositions which 
he could "not assent to. The work was full of virulent abuse, 
and styled Luther " heretical, seditious, and Bohemian." * 
It occasioned the Reformer much pain, as a breach of friend- 
ship; for Eck had neither written nor given any warning of 
his intention, nor implied that the regard between them was 
to cease in any way.f Yet Luther was willing to swallow the 
sop, and had resolved to do so; when his friends persuaded 
him that he was in honour and duty bound to reply. He 
wrote therefore the " Asterisks," and circulated his answer 
privately amongst his friends. Eck had objected to the 
statement that "the indulgence remits only the canonical 
penance ; " and argued, " if the penalties of the Canons are 
added in accumulation to the Divine penalties, they are a 
snare : if they are only declaratory, which is the truth, then 
the Pope does remit some actual penalties." "It is not 

* De Wette, I. p. 100. 
t Neque monens, ueque scribens, neque valedictens. 
VOL. I. H 


1518. true/^ Luther answered, ''that any penalties are imposed by 
God, for he freely forgives the penitent sinner, and has him- 
self paid all in Christ. If it is meant that to remit canonical 
penalties -without remitting Divine is a snare, this is true just 
as far as it is true that penalties are imposed by God at all, 
which is utterly false. But were Dr. Obelisk a theologian as 
much as he is a sophist, he would not be surprised to hear 
that the Canons are a snare, when the law itself is that net 
whereby God has concluded all under siu.^^ Again, Eck had 
asserted that the Sacraments of the New Law effect what they 
figure, in which they differ from the Sacraments of the Old 
Law. " The Sacraments of the New Law," Luther answered, 
" do not effect the grace of which they are seals ; but faith is 
required before every sacrament. Faith is grace. Therefore 
grace always precedes the Sacrament. The mistake of our 
Obelisk Theologian is in supposing that the Sacraments can 
work grace without any act on the part of the recipient, pro- 
vided he oppose no barrier. This is not indeed ' Bohemian 
poison ; ' but it is the hemlock of hell." The controversy 
was then taken up by Carlstadt, who published some proposi- 
tions for disputation against Eck's opinions. A reconciliation 
was attempted between Luther and Eck by Scheurl of Nurem- 
berg their common friend; and Luther on his part wrote a 
letter to Eck, " most friendly and full of courtesy," * and was 
willing to impute the whole to the malice of advisers. They 
afterwards met at Augsburg, and peace seemed restored. 

A Chapter of the Augustine Order was to be held at 
Heidelberg. Luther was advised not to be present, on ac- 
count of the dangers which might assail him by the way; 
but he was resolved to go. He started on foot, with a guide 
to carry his baggage, and passed through Erfurth and Juden- 

* " Scripsi ad eum ipsiim amicissimas ct pleuas literas humauitatc." 
Be Wotle, I. p. 126.' 


bach to Cobourg, but found the journey excessively fatiguing. 1518. 
" I sinned/' he wrote to Spalatin on the 15th April, from 
Cobourg, " in undertaking this expedition on foot ; but my 
contrition is perfect, the satisfaction I have paid complete, 
and I hope I may be allowed an indulgence letter.'' At 
Wurzberg he had an interview in the evening with the excel- 
lent Bishop Lawrence Bibra, who would hardly be refused 
the pleasure of sending an escort with him to Heidelberg. 
But he fortunately obtained a seat in the carriage of Staupitz, 
and after three days' pleasant travelling with the Vicar-Gene- 
ral and John Lange, alighted at the Augustine convent in 
Heidelberg. It is not known what was the exact object of 
this meeting of the Order : but Luther, seizing his oppor- 
tunity for disseminating the truth, published forty proposi- 
tions, twenty-eight on Theology, the remainder on Philoso- 
phy, which he engaged to maintain on the 26th April, in the 
Augustine convent, since the University would not allow him 
the use of their hall. He maintained his " paradoxes " on 
faith, grace, justification, and the spiritual impotency of the 
will, against five doctors ; of whom four argued with great 
modesty, and even dexterity, although the views advanced 
were strange to them ; the fifth remained silent, except that 
he once called aloud to Luther, to the amusement of the com- 
pany, " If the country folk heard this, they would stone you." 
It is worthy of remark, that amongst the audience were three 
men destined to be eminent witnesses to evangelical truth 
in their subsequent career, Bucer, Brentz, and Snepf, who in 
this disputation were favoured for the first time with a ray of 
Gospel light. Luther had brought a letter of recommenda- 
tion from the Elector to the Count Palatine Wolfgang, by 
whom he was received with great cordiality. He presented 
the letter to the Master of the Court, James Semler, who 
exclaimed on reading it, '' Indeed you hat)e got a letter of 

H 2 


1518. recommendation !"^ and he and his friends were invited to a 
repast by the Count, and enjoyed a most agreeable conversa- 
tion with their host^ eating and drinking, and viewing every- 
thing worthy of sight in Heidelberg Castle. He did not 
return home on foot, but was conveyed at the expense of the 
different Augvistine convents on the line of road. 

At Erfurth he wrote a letter to his old University tutor, 
Jodocus Trutvetter. " You know/' he said, " what able men 
we have at Wittenberg ; Carlstadt, Amsdorf, Schurf, Wolf- 
gang, the two Feldkirchens, and Peter Lupin. They all 
agree with me in the matter of indulgences : so does the 
Avhole University, with the exception of the Licentiate Sebas- 
tian; so do our Elector and Ordinary, and many Prelates 
besides, and all respectable citizens." The letter was fol- 
lowed by an interview between the former pupil and tutor; 
and Luther endeavoured, but in vain, to persuade Jodocus, 
that " unless the canons, decretals, scholastic theology, phi- 
losopliy and logic, then in fashion, were entirely done away 
with, and the study of the Bible and the Fathers revived, the 
Church could never be reformed." On the Sunday evening 
after Ascension day Luther re-entered Wittenberg. Wher- 
ever he had been known during his journeys he had been an 
object of attraction to the cui'ious. The expedition had been 
of benefit to his health ; and it was remarked that he had 
gained in flesh and strength. 

On the 2.2ud of May he wi'ote to the Bishop of Branden- 
burg, and enclosed his " Solutions," which were now finished, 
but not yet sent to the press. He had been forced, he stated, 
into the line of conduct which he had pursued in the affair of 
the indulgences, for his opinion had been asked again and 
again on the strange doctrines set forth by the commissaries, 

* Dicens sua Neckarcua lingua — ibr habt bj GoLt einen kystlicbeu 
credentz. De Wette, I. p. 111. 


and he had for a long while forborne replj'ing, until it was 1518. 
evident that the reverence dne to the Pontiff and the Church 
was in jeopardy. He entreated his Reverend Father to take 
the pen and strike out whatever displeased him in the " Solu- 
tions/' or even to burn thein altogether. The reply of his 
Diocesan must have beeu favourable ; for on the 30th May he 
addressed a letter to Staupitz, enclosing the " Solutions" in 
manuscript, and a letter to Leo himself, both of which he 
requested the Vicar- General to transmit for him to his Holi- 
ness, He reminded Staupitz of the conversations which had 
passed between them in the Erfurth monastery ; how he had 
received his " dearest father's" words as a voice from heaven, 
when he declared that the hatred of sin must begin with the 
love of God, and of holiness. " That declaration clung to his 
heart like the sharp arrow of the mighty ; and reading Scrip- 
ture in the new light tlius vouchsafed, he found all harmony, 
everything seemed to smile and leap up, as it were, to wel- 
come the true doctrine. And that word once inexpressiljly 
bitter to him, Kepentance, became most sweet, when he read 
its meaning, not only in books, but in tlie wounds of the 
beloved Saviour." 

The letter to Leo, after stating how he had been induced to 
avail himself, on the subject of indulgences, of that right of 
public disputation which his HoHness accorded to the Univer- 
sities on far more momentous topics, and after alluding to the 
unexpected celebrity which his propositions had attained, 
obscure and enigmatical as they were (and had I known, he 
said, that they would have run over almost the whole earth,"^ 
I would have made them much plainer), concluded with the 
humble surrender of himself and his cause to the Pontiff. 
" I lay myself prostrate at the feet of your Holiness, with all 

* "In omuom terram pceue exierinl." 


1518. 1 have and am. Grant me life or slay me, call or recall, ap- 
prove or disapprove, as may please you. I will receive your 
voice as that of Christ presiding and speaking in you. If I 
have deserved death, I do not refuse to die ; for the earth is 
the Lord's and the fulness thereof. Blessed be his name for 
ever! Amen. And may he preserve you to all eternity." 

The agitation against '^ Friar Martin," far from declining, 
was increasing in vehemence amongst the indulgence-mer- 
chants, the inquisitors of heresy, and the extreme Papist 
party. How could it be otherwise when the value of indul- 
gences as a commodity was nearly spoilt ?* James Hochstra- 
ten, the Dominican inquisitor of Louvain, called upon Leo to 
rise up with a lion^s fury against the heretic monk, and destroy 
him without farther delay. " Whatever is contrary to Scrip- 
ture," said Hochstraten, " is heretical." Luther replied in a 
brief letter, but in terms of greater severity than he had pre- 
viously used, and particularly addressed himself to the inqui- 
sitor's definition of heresy. "David's adultery was against 
Scripture, therefore David was a heretic. Every sin is against 
Scriptui'c, therefore the whole world is in heresy. The 
Church is heretical. Arise, O Leo, most gentle pastor, and 
make inquisition upon your heretical inquisitors by other in- 
quisitors, for they prove your Holiaess and the whole Church 
to be heretical. No," he continued, " a person may be in 
great error, yet is he not a heretic unless he pertinaciously 
asserts and defends his error. Now the Pope has not been 
fouiid in any great error, nor has he pertinaciously clung to 
any error, great or small. Go, wretch, blood-stained parri- 
cide, thou who thirsteth for thy brother's blood, make inqui- 
sition for beetles in their own filth, until you can comprehend 
the d-stinction between sin, error, and heresy. Thou bloody 

* Cochlseus, p. 8. "Earescebant mamis largientium." 


man! thou enemy to truth. If your fury urges you again 1518. 
to attempt anything against me, be cautious to act with judg- 
ment and consideration. God knows what I shall do, if I 

The adversaries who had risen up against Luther, instead 
of injuring, had in fact benefited his cause. Maimburg the 
Jesuit states that it was senseless in Prierias to throw back the 
question on the infallibility of the Pontiff, and that in Rome 
itself his opinions were regarded as ultra. It is certain that 
neither the learning nor the ability of the Master of the 
Palace was of a high order. The attack made upon Luther 
by Hochstraten sounded like the howl of the executioner for 
his victim. The interference of Eck, who had both erudition 
and talent, in the controversy, had been purchased by a disho- 
nourable breach of friendship, and wore very much the guise 
of personal rivalry. All these circumstances weighed upon 
the Elector's mind, and disposed him more and more favour- 
ably towards his Professor ; and this disposition was greatly 
increased by the reputation which Luther enjoyed, the avidity 
and admiration with which his writings were received, and 
the consent of the' whole University, and of all good men, 
with the sentiments which he had proclaimed. But, out of 
Germany, the indulgence party were able to carry everything 
their own way. How could Italy endure that Germany should 
deny her those large sums of money of which she had drained 
Europe, and Germany especially, like a subject province, for 
centuries, on the pretence of some cleverly-invented lies? 
Besides, the Thomist faction was very potverful at the Vatican, 
and, supported out of doors by Italian jealousy, Italian ava- 
rice, and everywhere by the monkish inquisitorial section 
before combined against Reuchlin, and by all those who were 
conscious of a vested interest in the permanence of ignorance, 
bigotry, and extortion, could almost dictate to the Pontiff 


1518. how he was to act. Luther felt all this ; and, anxious to pre- 
pare the people for the blow which he well knew the Court of 
Rome had already struck against liim, preached on the 15th July 
on the force and meaning of ecclesiastical excommunication. 
'' This/' he said, " was of two kinds, just as the Church itself 
was in one sense the body of true believers only, and in an- 
other sense the society of professing Christians. From the real 
Church of Christ no soul could be cut off but by his own sin. 
The visible Churchy however, could excommunicate, and might 
err in its sentence ; but even in such a case its chastisement was 
to be patiently borne as the rod of a mother ; and thus pa- 
tiently to endure an unjust punishment without receding from 
the path of duty, ' which is yet more requisite than patient 
endurance,' would convert the undeserved correction to a 
blessing. Although Annas and Caiaphas, Pilate and Herod, 
might be in chief authority in the visible Church, the example 
of Christ himself taught the obligation of paying them rever- 
ence." The sermon was followed by a series of theses, pro- 
posed for public disputation, on the same subject; but here a 
messenger from the Bishop of Brandenburg interposed, 
requesting that the disputation might be deferred, and Luther 
immediately obeyed.* 

About three weeks after the sermon on excommunication, 
Luther received a citation from the Papal Fiscal to appear 
within sixty days at Rome, to answer the charge of heresy, 
before Jerome, Bishop of Asculum, and Sylvester Prierias, 
Master of the Palace. He immediately wrote to Spalatin, 
who was at Augsburg in attendance upon the Elector during 
Aug. 8. the sitting of the Diet, in these words : " My dear Spalatin, 
I am now in the greatest need of your help j nay, the honour 
of the whole University requires it. The favour I implore is, 

* De Wcttc, I. p. 130. 


that you will petition our illustrious Prince and Pfeffinger, 1518. 
that our Prince and the Emperor will obtain a transfer or 
remission of my cause for trial in Germany. I have written 
to this effect to our Prince. I see how treacherously and ma- 
liciously the homicide preachers are compassing my ruin. 
There is not a moment for delay ; for the time prescribed is 
very short, as you will see by the enclosed citation. Read it 
with all its hydras and portents. If you love me and hate 
iniquity, make speed in the matter, and signify our Prince's 
pleasure to me, or rather to our Vicar-General Staupitz, who 
must ere this have reached Augsburg. In conclusion, I 
entreat you not to be moved or distressed on my account. 
The Lord will make a way of escape." 

The Elector also had received a letter from the Cardinal 
St. George, in which it was hinted that Frederic's fidelity to 
the Holy See had fallen under suspicion, and that, to re-instate 
himself in the esteem of the Church, it was trusted he would 
cease protecting his rebellious friar. It was an anxious moment 
for Luther. Rome was that giant's cave strewn with bones and 
stained with blood, the vestibide of which showed many enter- 
ing but no retiring footprints. His safety at this period, to 
human eyes, turned upon the decision of Frederic ; but there 
was every reason to believe, from the goodwill of Spalatin 
and Pfeffinger, and the firmness and discrimination of the 
Elector himself, that the support so much required would not 
prove wanting in this hour of extremity. 

The danger which was visibly hanging over his head did 
not for an instant repress Luther's zeal for truth. Just at 
this crisis, his " Solutions " were given to the world. He 
declared in them that " the Pope's power was not different in 
kind from that of any other priest, but only in quantity, as 
extending over the parish of the whole Church." Absolution, 
he affirmed, was never valid unconditionally ; but " the faith- 


1518. ful received exactly in proportion to their faith^ not on account 
of the Pope's or priest's declaration^ but by virtue of Chrisfs 
promise;" the use of absolution being simply to comfort the 
weak in faith^ assure them of the truth of God's word ; i e., 
work faith in faith. " He questioned the entire doctrine of 
the merits of saints, for he did not believe that any mere 
human being ever had done or ever could do a work of super- 
erogation." Of purgatory he averred that it was " not a 
workshop for paying the satisfaction of guilt," but a place in 
which souls neither without faith nor yet perfect in faith, in 
whom the new man was not completely formed, by conviction 
of sin and repentance, matured in faith, hope, and charity. 
God was not a merchant or an usurer who could not forgive 
without the payment of compensation money. And indul- 
gences were not an acquittance from purgatory, nor from a 
holy life, nor from deeds of mercy and charity, but simply 
from the canonical penance. To Leo personally he was 
most complimentary ; but he called Rome " that veritable 
Babylon," and pitied a good pontiff in such a den of Satan. 
Then, with increasing boldness : " I care little for what may 
merely please or displease the Pope. He is a man like others. 
I listen to the Pope as Pope ; that is, when he speaks in the 
Canons, or agreeably to the Canons, or determines in conjunc- 
tion with a Council ; but not when he speaks according to his 
own head. Otherwise, I shall be compelled to say, with 
some who know little of Christ, that the horrible spillings of 
Christian blood by Julius II. were the blessings of a gentle 
pastor bestowed on Christ's fold." His courage rose yet 
higher as his zeal waxed warmer. " t will speak out in a few 
words, and boldly. The Church must be reformed. And it 
is the work not of one man, as the Pape, nor many, as the 
Cardinals ; but for the whole world, or rather for God alone. 
The time of such a Reformation He only knows. Meanwhile 


our vices are patent beyond denial. The keys are put to the 1518. 
service of avarice and ambition. The torrent has received an 
impetus which we cannot stay." 

As soon as the " Solutions " were in the hands of the pub- 
lic, he employed his pen in answering the " most sylvestrian 
Dialogue " of Sylvester Prierias, " that sweetest man," who 
he had now discovered was a matter-of-fact existence and was 
"at once his adversary and his judge." The answer was 
written in the space of two days and was soon in print. " I 
know the Church," Luther said, " virtually only in Christ, 
representatively only in a Council. If whatever your virtual 
Church, i. e. the Pope does, must needs be the act of the 
Church, what enormities must be reckoned among the 
Church's acts ! The bloodsheddings of Julius II., the tyran- 
nies of Boniface VIII., who, as the saying runs, 'came in 
like a fox, reigned like a lion, and died like a dog ! ' " He 
proceeded to declare an extension of his doctrine in regard to 
the power of the keys — " In those words of Christ, ' What- 
soever thou shalt bind on earth, &c.,' no privilege is given to 
Peter. The words are an irrefragable law, given not to Peter 
only, but to all priests, and not to priests only, but to every 
Christian." This was indeed laying the axe to the root of 
sacerdotalism. In reply to the cavil of Prierias, that if, as 
Luther had stated. Repentance was the work for all life long, 
it would be an impossibility, he said, " The admonition is not 
' Do penance,^ as a false translation renders it, but ' Be con- 
verted or changed in heart.' Of course such true repentance 
must ever be in its perfect form and extent an impossibility 
on earth : but every real Christian is engaged in the mortifi- 
cation of sin each day and each moment. A sacramental 
penance every moment of the day would be an absurdity. 
But the real Christian in his most ordinary acts, whether he 
eats or drinks, does all to the glory of God. He lives to God 


1518. and dies to God. Even in sleeping lie obeys God's will, and 
to obey God's will, that is repentance. How can you or any 
one dare to assert that the believer in Christ when asleep is 
void of good acts and the work of repentance cannot be going 
on in him? On the contrary, he is then the fullest of good 
acts, when he suffers God placidly to act in him, and enjoys 
a Sabbath in the Lord.'' But it was not to be expected that 
Luther's scriptural profundity would meet with any corres- 
ponding quality in Prierias ; and this " answer " only elicited 
fresh effusions of ignorance and vanity from the Master of the 

In the meantime the deliberations of the Diet were pro- 
ceeding at Augsburg. Two subjects more particularly en- 
gaged attention : the threatened invasion of Germany by 
Sultan Selim, who had already overrun Armenia, Egypt, and 
Syria ; and the demand of Maximilian that his grandson 
should be elected King of the Romans during his own lifetime. 
The Elector of Saxony acted his usual independent part in the 
Diet; and from the great influence which he possessed from 
his high moral character and reputation for wisdom, was 
enabled to carry matters according to his wishes. He would 
not allow the papal legate. Cardinal Cajetan, to extract more 
money from Germany on the pretence of a Turkish war; but 
in resistance to such a demand ten grievances of Germany 
against Rome were delivered in writing to the Emperor, 
amongst which Indulgences and Tenths for a war never 
waged, were the eighth and ninth enumerated."^ And he 
succeeded in overthrowing Maximilian's policy, to have the 
reversion to the empire secured to his grandson against the 
fundamental laws of the constitution. But this latter service 
to the constitutional cause was also a great boon to the 

* Walch. XV. p. 550. 


Pontiff, and outweighed the incivility of refusing the tenths : 1518. 
as there was nothing which St. Peter's successor dreaded 
more sincerely than the union of half the sceptres of Europe 
in one hand. 

The Emperor and the Elector both wrote to the Pontiff 
from Augsburg. Maximilian, chagrined at the disappoint- 
ment of his schemes, denounced Martin Luther, hinting 
that the rebellious monk had found numerous defenders and 
patrons among the powerful. Whatever the Apostolic See 
might determine in the matter, the Emperor, in his profound 
reverence for the Vicar of Christ, would rejoice to carry into 
effect. And he trusted the Pontiff would restrain "wordy 
disputations after the scholastic fashion/^ which many grave 
authorities disapproved, and " the lawfulness of which was 
questioned in an ancient decree of the pontifical Senate." 
Frederic on his part, in replying to the Cardinal St. George, 
began with expressing his submission to the Holy See ; 
touched on personal matters ; and passed on to Doctor Mar- 
tin Luther, whose writings and sermons he denied that he 
had ever taken upon him to defend, "nor would he do so 
now." But he had been informed that Dr. Luther Avas will- 
ing, " under a safe-conduct," to submit his tenets to the ex- 
amination of "just, courteous, impartial, and learned judges." 
In conclusion, he mentioned his brother Elector and friend 
the Archbishop of Treves, as a very fit person to be entrusted 
with the management of the case. The Elector also ad- 
dressed the imperial secretary through Spalatiu, stating that 
Dr. Luther was willing to submit the points in dispute to the 
decision of any of the German Universities, excepting Erfurth, 
Leipsic, and Frankfort on the Oder. The University of Wit- 
tenberg also warmly took up the cause of their most distin- 
guished Professor; and in a letter to Charles von Miltitz, 


1518. the German Chamberlain of the Pontiff, spoke of Luther's 
"various and almost extraordinary erudition, of his simple 
and unadulterate manners;" and in a letter to Leo himself, 
alluded to his feeble health, which rendered him quite un- 
equal to a journey to Rome, and affirmed that his religious 
teaching had always enjoyed a most orthodox repute at Wit- 
tenberg, and still did so. Not a stone was left unturned to 
prevent the remission of the cause to Rome ; and Luther 
himself suggested that, if the case could not be tried in Ger- 
many, the Elector should save him from certain death by 
refusing his safe- conduct. 

But the power of Rome was far from being equal to her 
malice : in her complicated system one wheel was a check 
upon another j and as political considerations weighed with 
her more than religious, it seemed the direct reverse of good 
policy, in the present prospects of Europe, to break with such 
an influential Elector as Frederic. Leo therefore, probably 
with less reluctance than his courtiers, consented to a change 
of proceedings. '' We have heard," he wrote to Frederic, 
" from many most learned and religious men, and particularly 
from our beloved son the Master of the Sacred Palace, that 
Martin Luther has dared to assert and maintain publicly 
many impious and heretical tenets. We have therefore cited 
him to answer these charges before our beloved son Thomas, 
Cardinal St. Sixti, Legate de Latere of the Holy See, a man 
versed in all theology and philosophy, who will decide what 
he must do." The epistle concluded with an admonition 
to the Elector to keep the splendour of his family, of such 
saintly repute, unsullied by the calumny which had assailed 
him of protecting a heretic.^ This new arrangement was a 

* Lat. Op. Jena;, I. p. 181. 


great compliment to the Elector of Saxony, who had himself 1518. 
requested the Cardinal to- apply to the Vatican for the remis- 
sion of the cause to his judgment ; a suit which Cajetan had 
willingly undertaken, in order, by his success in reconciling 
Luther to the Church, to repair the failure of his endeavours 
in regard to the tenths. On the one part, the Cardinal de Vio 
promised the Elector that he would treat his monk with paternal 
gentleness ; on the other, Frederic engaged that Dr. Martin 
should appear before the Legate without fail at Augsburg, 
But such a fatality attended all the measures of Rome, that by 
this concession to Frederic she was involved in a transparent 
contradiction. By a new brief, dated the 23rd August, it was 
given out that the accused friar Martin had already been con- 
demned as a heretic, and that the Cardinal St. Sixti was 
commissioned to force and compel him to appear in his pre- 
sence, if he proved unwilling to do so, and to keep him in 
custody until the papal pleasure should be known ; or, if he 
voluntarily appeared before him, in that case treating him as 
a heretic already condemned, either to absolve him on his re- 
tractation ; or, if he would not retract, to lay an interdict on 
the dominions of any potentate, as long as the refractory 
heretic might remain in them, and for three days afterwards, 
the Emperor alone excepted. This brief was kept as snug as 
could be from all curious eyes : but that of course could be 
only for a time, although Rome trusted sufficiently long for 
her purpose to have been answered ; and when it afterwards 
fell into Luther's hands, he published it with this comment : 
— " The date of this brief is the 23rd August : but I had 
been cited only on the 7th August, an interval of sixteen days. 
The sixty days allowed me, beginning from the 7th August, 
would terminate about the 7th October. It is forsooth the 
custom and style of the Roman Curia to cite, admonish, 
judge, condemn, and publish the sentence all at once, whilst 


1518. the culprit is leagues away, aud knows nothing of the 

However, the citation to the Reformer to appear at Augs- 
burg before the Legate threw his friends into the utmost 
consternation. Some wrote to dissuade him from compliance : 
every where it was feared open violence or dangerous guile 
would track his footsteps : and even in his own language, "to 
go to Augsburg was to tempt God." But he never thought 
of recoiling from the path of duty. " You know my spiritual 
conflicts," he wrote to Staupitz, " they are so great that I 
think nothing of these earthly momentary trials." But Stau- 
pitz was overcome with anxiety for his dear Martin. " Come 
to me," he wrote to Luther, " let us live and die together : 
the world is exasperated against Christ, and the sentence 
against you is at the door." 

Before Luther started on his journey he welcomed to the 
University Pliilip Melancthon, whom the Elector had appointed 
Professor of Greek. Philip Schwarzerd or Melancthon was 
the son of a master armourer of Bretten ; but his father was 
dead : his mother Barbara who was still living was the daughter 
of John Renter a magistrate of Bretten, a woman of some 
poetical talent and an excellent mother. Melancthon was a 
protege of Reuchlin, and had received when a boy from that 
eminent scholar the present of a Greek Grammar and a Bible. 
He was only twenty-two years of age when he was called to 
the chair of Greek literature at Wittenberg, and had already 
lectiu-cd in the University of Tubingen. His personal ap- 
pearance, for his features were mean, and his stature low, his 

* Luther also declared that this brief was of German workmanship, 
sent from Germany to Rome, and having there received the approba- 
tion of some magnates, sent back again to Germany. Lat. Op. Jense, 
I. p. 92. 

t Letter of Staupitz, dated Sept. 14. See Seckend. I. p. 44. 


manners shy and diffident, belied his attainments and talents. 1518. 
But on the 29th August he delivered his inaugural lecture 
with such learning and terseness that Luther and the other 
Professors were overjoyed. "We have indeed an acquisition 
in our Greek Professor/' Luther Avrote to Spalatin; "I only 
hope his tender frame will not resent our spare diet, and shift 
to better fare at Leipsic, whither he has been invited. 
Pfeffinger is too close a guardian of our Prince's purse.* 
As long as I have Melancthon I want no better tutor 
in Greek." But even Luther was only partly conscious of 
the treasure which he had found ; and had yet to learn that 
Melancthon's mental and moral qualities, added to his own, 
made up the complement of a Reformer. 

On the 28th September Luther reached Weimar on his road 
to Augsburg, and lodged in the convent of the Bare-footed 
Friars, where he was beheld for the first time by Myconius, even 
then in heart a disciple to the doctrines of the Reformation. 
" My dear Doctor," Myconius relates, one of the fraternity 
exclaimed, in his compassion for the persecuted " Brother 
Martin," " the Italians are clever people ; you will never de- 
fend your cause against them : they will burn you." " Dear 
friend," Luther answered, " pray to our dear God and his 
dear Son Christ, whose cause it is, to uphold it for me." f 
From Weimar he pursued his route, still on foot, to Nurem- 
berg, where he borrowed of his old friend and brother monk, 
Wenceslaus Link, a monk's frock to appear in before the Le- 
gate, for his own was sore worn with age and the toils of the 
journey : and he had the advantage of the company of Link 
and another brother friar, by name Leonard, for the rest of 

* It was chiefly through Pfeffinger that the Elector laid himself open 
to Luther's jest — " Our Prince receives with the bushel, and measures 
out with the spoon." 

t Walch. XV. p. 672. 

VOL. I. I 


1518. the road. But when they were witliin a few leagues of their 
destination, Luther, who was extremely weary with travelling 
on foot, was seized with violent pains in the stomach ; and 
his two comrades were obliged to procure a waggon, in Avhich 
they laid him, and in this state, on the evening of Friday the 
8th October, he was conveyed into Augsburg. 

The next morning Luther was much better : the night's 
rest had wonderfully restored him. The Diet was over; 
Augsburg was deserted, the only strangers in it being the 
Legate and his followers, and Luther himself and his two 
brother friars. Luther's first act was to send Link and 
Leonard to inform Cardinal Cajetan of his arrival. The 
Elector had supplied the Reformer with letters of recom- 
mendation to several of his own friends in Augsburg : and the 
following day these called upon him, and with great warmth 
entered into his cause. They were Peutenger and Langen- 
mantel, both imperial councillors, the two brothers Adelraann, 
who were canons ; and with them was a Doctor Auerback, 
of Leipsic. They came into the room just after the orator 
Urbanus von Serra Longa,* one of the Legate's followers, had 
left it with the intention of preparing the Legate for the in- 
terview, and of shortly returning to conduct Luther to his 
presence. Hearing what had passed they remarked, "Of 
course you have a safe-conduct? " Luther had not thought 
of a safe-conduct : but they assured him that he m.ust by no 
means venture into the presence of the Nuncio until it had 
been procured, for without it there could be no guarantee for 
his personal safety, and they were only surprised that he 
should have entered Augsburg without such a safeguard. 
The Cardinal, they said, would be outwardly full of mildness, 
but in heart was most bitter against him. They quitted the 

* See Spalatiii's relation, Walcli. XV. p. G75. 


apartment ; and Serra Louga shortly afterwards returned, and 1518. 
was clamorous when he heard of Luther's resolution not to 
proceed to the interview until he had been furnished with a 
safe-conduct. " Why/' said the wily Italian, " you are 
making an easy and simple matter into a long and tiresome 
one. The Legate is an Italian ; it will not do for you to 
argue with him : but he will behave towards you with 
paternal gentleness; and three syllables, just six letters, 
' Revoco/ will settle the whole business.'' Luther answered 
that he had made up his mind to wait until a safe-conduct 
should have been granted. " What ! " rejoined the Italian, 
" it cannot be your intention not to revoke : do you imagine 
that any princes or lords will protect you against the Holy 
See? What support can you have? Where will you remain?" 
" I shall still have heaven," Luther answered. But the 
Italian's chattering continued : he spoke of the Abbot Joachim 
of Florance, who had revoked, and therefore had been pro- 
nounced no heretic ; of the Pope's word being law : all in 
vain ; for Luther remained resolute. " What would you do," 
asked the Italian, " if you had the Pope and the Cardinals in 
your power ? " "I would treat them," Luther replied, " with 
the utmost respect and reverence." Serra Longa made his 
grimaces, bit his finger, muttered " hem ; " and returned to 
the Legate. 

In this interval Luther wrote on Monday, the 11th October, 
to Melancthon ; and first alluded to his having engaged John 
Bossenstein as Hebrew lecturer at Wittenberg, and then ad- 
verted to the topic of pressing interest : — " I find Augsburg 
rife with the rumour of my name : every one must have a 
peep at the Herostratus who has kindled such a fire. Do you 
play the man, and instruct our students rightly. I go to be 
sacrificed for you and for them, if it please God. I had 
rather perish, and lose your delightful society, the greatest loss 

I 2 


1518. 1 should sustain, tliau revoke the truth and injure the noblest 
studies. Italy is plunged in Egyptian darkness ; its ignorance 
of Crn-ist and the things of Christ is total. Yet, these are 
our lords and masters in faith and morals ; and the curse of 
God is thus fulfilled — ' Children are their oppressors, and 
women rule over them.' " 

Probably before this letter had been written the safe-con- 
duct had arrived, having been easily procured from the Em- 
peror on the Cardinal's tacit permission ;* and on Tuesday 
Oct. 12. Luther proceeded, accompanied by his friends, his host, the 
Prior of St. Anne, and Link and Leonard, to his first inter- 
view with the Legate. He Avas careful to comply with the 
directions which Serra Longa had given him as to the cus- 
tomary formalities upon approaching a prince of the Roman 
Church ; he threw himself prostrate at the feet of the Legate, 
and waited his permission to rise. After these ceremonials a 
pause ensued ; the Cardinal was awaiting the monk's abject 
recantation. Einding that he was expected to speak, Luther 
broke the silence by craving pardon of " his most reverend 
lord,'' if he had done or spoken anything rashly, and profess- 
ing his readiness to be instructed and guided to sounder views. 
Cajetan in reply, with paternal clemenqy, commended and 
congratulated him on his humility, and stated that he only 
required three things : that he would retrace his wanderings, 
and return to his sober senses ; that he would promise obedi- 
ence for the future ; and that he would abstain from whatever 
might tend to disturb the peace of the Church. Luther 
begged permission to see the papal brief, but the Legate, with 
a waive of the hand, signified that he could not accede to such 
a request. " Most reverend father," Luther then answered, 
" deign to point out to me in what I have erred." Cajetan 

* De Welte, I. p. 143. Lat. Op. .Jens', I. p. 196. Seckend. I. p. 4. 


turned to the seventh proposition of the ninety-five theses : — 1518. 
" Observe^ you state that no one can receive the grace of the 
Sacraments without faith; and moreover, in your fifty- eighth 
proposition, yon assert that the treasure of indulgences does 
not consist of the merits and sufferings of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. Now this is contrary to the extravagant (Unigenitus) 
of Clement VI. Yon must revoke both these errors and 
embrace the true doctrine of the Chuixh." " In regard to 
faith in the Sacrament being requisite to its validity, that," 
said Luther, "is a truth I never can and never will revoke." 
" Whether you will or no," returned the Legate, " I must 
have your recantation this very day, or for this one error I 
shall condemn all your propositions." The Cardinal had 
promised to convict the poor friar of error by warrant of 
Scripture; but he did not adduce a word of Scripture, but 
I'citerated in proof of the opus opcratum doctrine of Rome, 
statements of doctors and councils. " Most reverend father, 
I ask for Scripture," Luther said ; " it is on Scripture my 
views are based ; " and he quoted several texts. " Oh," 
interrupted the Legate laughing, " he is speaking of faith in 
general." "No, most reverend father, not of faith in general, 
but that the Sacraments of Christ are of no efficacy without 
faith." They dropped this subject for the time, and came to 
the question of indulgences. Luther affirmed that he had 
read both the extravagant of Clement VI. and the analogous 
extravagant of Sixtus IV., but placed little reliance on them, 
inasmuch as they wrested the plain sense of Holy Scripture, 
and were merely reproductions of the notions of Thomas 
Aquinas. The Legate was much offended. " Do you not 
know," he said, " that the Pope is above all ? " " Not above 
Scripture." "Yes, above Scripture; the Pope," continued 
the Legate, " is above Scripture and above Councils ; why, he 
abolished the Council of Basle." Luther introduced the 


1518. mention of the University of Paris. " And with its merited 
punishment/^ exclaimed the Cardinal, " will that rebellious 
University be visited ; Gerson and all Gersonists are to be 
condemned.^^ " Who/^ Luther enquired, " are the Ger- 
sonists ? " But here the Legate intimated that he should not 
continue the subject ; and on Luther's requesting a day for 
deliberation, replied, that " he should not dispute with him, 
but must have a revocation, and would give him one day for 
reflection." After the usual ceremonials of respect, the Re- 
former withdrew ; but, as he passed through the courtyard, 
he was assailed with abuse and a sophistical argument by the 
CardinaPs master of the ceremonies, who had hardly restrained 
his vehemence in the Legate's presence, and had run after the 
heretic to give vent to it. Luther unriddled the sophistry 
with a stinging sarcasm, and the courtier slunk back to his 

On his return to the convent of the Carmelites, where he 
lodged, Luther, to his great delight, found the Vicar-General 
of the Augustine Order awaiting him. It was at once com- 
municated to Staupitz that the Cardinal demanded a naked 
recantation, would not vouchsafe any scriptural proof of doc- 
trine, but only cited the decretals and the Schoolmen. It was 
agreed that Luther should commit to writing a mild and 
humble, but firm protest against this treatment of the Legate, 
which was directly in the teeth of his own promise. And the 
next day, with protest in hand, Luther proceeded to his 
second interview with the Cardinal, accompanied by a more 
numerous body of friends than on the day previous, by the 
Vicar- General, four imperial councillors, amongst them Peu- 
tinger and the Dean of Trent, two electoral councillors, Ruel, 
a lawyer, and the knight Philip von Feilitzsch, and a notary 

* Spalatin's relation— Walcli. XV. p. 682. 


and witnesses. The Italian party had also been reinforced in 1518. 
the interim, for the Prior of the Dominicans, who had been 
reconciled to Cajetan, as Herod to Pilate, by the bond of a 
stronj^ common enmity, was fonnd seated beside the Cardinal. 

After the cnstomary obeisance Luther read his protest to 
the following eflPect : — " I protest that I honour and follow 
the holy Roman Church in all my words and deeds, present, 
past, and future. And if anything may have been said, con- 
trary or otherwise, I wish it unsaid, and so account it. I 
have only sought truth in my disputations, and cannot relin- 
quish that search, much less retract anything before I have 
been heard, and convicted of error. I know that I am but a 
man, and liable to err. I have therefore submitted, and now 
submit myself to the judgment and determination of the legi- 
timate holy Church, and to all persons my superiors in know- 
ledge. And over and above what may be necessary, I offer 
myself in person here or elsewhere, to render an account 
even in public of my words. If this is not agreeable to his 
most Reverend Lordship, I am ready to answer in writing 
whatever objection he may produce against me. Moreover, I 
am ready to submit my theses to the decision of the imperial 
Universities of Basle, Fribourg, and Louvain, and, if they are 
not enough, of Paris, from of old ever the most Christian, 
and in theology the most flourishing University." 

The Cardinal listened to this protest with a smile; and 
then assuming great mildness, entreated him to leave oft' 
these senseless counsels, and to return to his sound mind : — 
" Retract, my son, retract : it is hard for you to kick against 
the pricks." Luther replied, that he would plead the cause 
by reference to Scripture alone, and in writing ; there had 
been enough of fencing the day before." The Cardinal was 
highly oflbnded with what he termed the audacity of such a 
spcGch. " My sou," he answered, " I have neither fenced 


1518. with, nor shall I fence with you ; I am not here for such a 
purpose; but out of the regard 1 bear to the illustrious 
Elector Frederic, I am ready with all paternal benignity to 
hear, admonish, and teach, and, if possible, to reconcile you 
to the Holy See.""^ The Cardinal continued his discourse 
with great volubility, the strain of all his exhortations being 
that he must have an unconditional revocation. Luther re- 
mained perfectly silent : at last Staupitz rose and asked per- 
mission for the monk to put his answer in writing. This 
the Cardinal assented to ; and the second conference closed. 
Luther afterwards observed, in reference to the affront which 
his language had occasioned, " I ought not to have used the 
word ' fencing ;'f my Latinity was too elegant: I shoidd 
have said, ' disputing,' for we had really done nothing but 
dispute the previous day.'' 

'ct. 15. The interval of a day was suffered to elapse, and on Friday 
the Reformer appeared before the Legate for the tliird and 
last time, and deferentially presented his " declaration." 'Mt 
is most certain," this declaration stated, " that the Pope is 
not above, but under the authority of the word of God ; and 
I know it to be the uniform doctrine of the whole Church 
that the merits of Christ in the Spirit cannot be committed 
to man, nor be transmitted through men, nor by men. How 
many former decrees of Popes have been corrected by later 
ones ! Panormitanus shows that in matters of faith not only 
is a General Council above the Pope, but likewise any 
Christian whatever, if he depend on better authority and 
reason than the Pope, as did Paul in his argument with 

* Pallavicini puts somewhat different words in Cajetan's mouth. 
I. p. 15. 

t Pro disputare dij:;ladian dixeram clcgantius. — Do Wette, I. p. 181. 
See Cajclau's letter — Lai. Op. Jeua\ I. p. 195. 


Peter.* How can the merits of saints be a treasure, when 1518. 
the whole Scripture affirms that God rewards us all far 
beyond our deserts ? " On the subject of faith the " declara- 
tion^' first dwelt on justification before God by faith alone, 
then on the necessity of faith to the validity of a Sacrament. 
"■ By no disposition are we made meet, by no works meet for 
the Sacrament, but by faith alone." Scripture, Augustine, 
and Bernard, were quoted in evidence of this doctriue. And 
the whole concluded with an appeal to the Cardinal to " re- 
veal to him a truer light, for otherwise he must stand to his 
assertions, and obey God rather than man ; " and he im- 
plored the Cardinal to '' be his intercessor with Leo not to be 
rigorous towards a soul desiring only the light of truth." 

Cajetan took the " declaration," and, with a look of con- 
tempt, pronounced it '^ mere words " — " a long philactery " — 
and the quotations from Scripture quite irrelevant; but he 
would, he said, send the paper to Rome. He was even 
warmer than he had been two days previously, and reiterated 
with increased vehemence the old burden of his remarks — 
" Retract, my son, retract." If he would not retract the 
theses, at least he urged him to retract the sermon. Luther 
remained calm, silent, and immoveable under the storm of the 
Cardinal's volubility. At last, in a determined tone, he said 
— " Most reverend father, I will retract, if you can prove by 
the extravagant of Pope Clement that the treasure of indul- 
gences is the very merit of Christ." The Legate seized the 
volume with a look of triumph, and puffing with impatience 
and eagerness to confute his challenger, turned to the pas- 
sage, and read aloud — " The Lord Jesus Christ has acquired 
this treasure by his merits." The eyes of the Italians, who 
thronged the apartment during each interview, sparkled with 

* Gal. li. 


1518. malicious delight ; and Luther's friends feared that he was 
entrapped by his boldness. But with unchanged countenance 
he answered — " Most worthy father, if the Lord Jesus Christ 
has acquired a treasure by his merits, that is no evidence that 
the treasure and the merits are the same.^' The feelings of 
all in the room were in a moment changed ; and the Legate, 
anxious to divert attention from the flaw in his argument, 
with ready eifrontery turned to another topic, and resumed 
his vociferation and demand of an unqualified retractation. 
But Luther, perfectly awake to the advantage he had ob- 
tained, was not to be so put off. — " Most reverend father, you 
must not suppose that we Germans know nothing of gram- 
mar.^^'^ Cajetan's irritation now exceeded all bounds; he 
rose from his chair, and in a voice of thunder repeated, " Re- 
tract ;'' and at last, " Retract, or never appear in my presence 
again." Luther requested that the " declaration '^ might be 
forwarded to the Pope with his most humble prayers, and 
making a profound obeisance withdrew. 

After dinner a messenger waited on the Vicar-General from 
the Cardinal, to solicit his immediate attendance. Staupitz 
was of course aware what this meant ; and before obeying the 
summons released Luther from the vow of obedience to his 
Order, which was likely to prove as important for Luther as 
for the Vicar-General and the Order itself in the subsequent 
efforts of Rome to shake his constancy. But Luther felt this 
to be a moment of trial, and was ever aftemvards wont to call 
his exclusion from his Order his " first excommunication." 
Staupitz found Cajetan recovered from his recent agitation 
and more calm than ordinarily. " I no longer," he said to 
Staupitz, " regard Martin as a heretic : indeed I love him ; 
he has no greater friend than myself." He proceeded to 

* Sec Kucl's accoimt — Lat. Op. Jena?, I. p. 185. De VVctte, I, p. 181. 


request Staupitz, using that authority with which he was 1518. 
invested as Vicar- General, to point out to Martin the errors 
he was labouring under, and the heinous guilt of setting him- 
self in opposition to the decrees of the Church. Staupitz 
answered, that " Brother Martin " was his superior in ac- 
quaintance with the Scriptures and in ability. The Cardinal 
persisted in such arguments as he thought would induce 
Staupitz to use his influence and authority with Luther for 
his recantation. With some insight probably into the cha- 
racter of the Vicar- General, he touched upon the penalties to 
which he would render himself liable by in any way upholding 
or not disclaiming Martin's errors : on the other hand, he 
engaged that, if the monk would retract, the act should be 
attended by no disgrace or opprobrium whatever. " He 
meant," (Luther afterwards commented on these words,) " that 
that eternal disgrace would attend it, which never leaves those 
who act against truth and their conscience." Link likewise 
had an interview with the Cardinal, and found him in the 
same conciliatory mood, and full of gentle expressions towards 
Luther. It may be questionable what exact part Staupitz 
and Link were induced by the plausible and mild demeanour 
of the Cardinal to take in their arguments with Luther at 
this crisis. If Cajetan's own statement may be believed, they 
approved his proposals for an amicable accommodation, to 
avoid the necessity of referring the matter to Rome. At 
least they prevailed on Luther to address a most humble and 
deferential letter to the Cardinal, which he composed on 
Sunday the 17th October. The letter began by stating that 
his dearest father in Christ, John Staupitz, had implored 
him to act humbly, to give up his own opinion, and submit 
his own will ; and that Wenceslaus Link, his fellow- student 
from his earliest years, had joined in the same entreaty. " I 
confess," he continued, " O reverend fatlier in Christ, as I 


1518. have often coufessed at other times, that I have been indis- 
creet, too bitter and irreverent tovrards the PontiflF. And 
although I was strongly provoked to this irreverence, yet I 
now perceive that my duty bound me to handle the matter 
with more modesty and humility and deference, and not to 
answer a fool so as to become like him. I sincerely grieve, 
and ask pardon, and am willing to proclaim this my confes- 
sion from the pulpit, which I have done at other times when 
I have been guilty of an offence ; and I will speak of indul- 
gences no more, if my adversaries also will forbear. But I 
cannot retract my doctrines, for that would be against my 
conscience ; I ask for the decision of the Church, and to be 
convinced by better reason. I long to be worthy to hear the 
voice of the bride, for she must hear the voice of the bride- 
groom. Even if I should revoke without conviction in my 
conscience, what would such a revocation be worth? It 
would only be said that I had at first assented, and then 
revoked, without knowing wherefore or what I assented or 

To this letter Cajetan did not vouchsafe any reply; and it 
was generally believed that his feelings were not quite so 
kindly towards Luther as his words would imply. Even 
Staupitz received a proof of this, if the relation be correct, 
that he urged it upon the Cardinal to have another interview 
with " Brother Martin : ''' wlien Cajetan, thrown off his guard 
by his repugnance to the proposal, exclaimed, " I will not 
speak with the beast again : he has deep eyes ; and his head 
is full of speculations.^'* But it v;as commonly inquired, 
" Why this delay ? What is the Cardinal meditating ? " 
Rumour spoke much of Italian artifice and Italian revenge. 
It was known that the Legate had boasted that he was em- 

* Jlyc-onius— Wak-h. XV. p. 714. 


powered to throw Staupitz and Luther into prison ; and the 1518. 
very silence which surrounded him and his hive of attendants 
seemed to public apprehension to bode no good. A negotia- 
tion might already be on foot between the Cardinal and the 
Emperor, who it was known was hunting in the neighbour- 
hood ; and the result might be the imperilling of the Re- 
former's safety in a multiplicity of ways. In this state of 
uncertainty Monday passed and Tuesday. No message was 
received from the Cardinal, and nothing was heard of him 
beyond surmises. Luther and his friends were of opinion 
that no time was to be lost, and matured their plans for his 
immediate flight. The next morning, Wednesday the 20th 
October, before daybreak, he sallied forth through the dim 
and untrodden streets of Augsburg on a horse procured from 
Staupitz, but without a horseman's arms or accoutrements, 
under the conduct of an aged guide whom one of his friends 
had engaged as a trustworthy person to attend him. In this 
plight he reached a small low gate in the city walls, which a 
friendly hand, by the contrivance of the Senator Langen- 
raantel,* unlocked, and let Luther and his guide pass into the 
open country. He had before hesitated in what direction to 
pursue his flight, and had at one time contemplated escaping to 
France, for the envoy of the French monarch at the recent Diet 
had mentioned him favourably; but he had relinquished that 
idea, and turned his horse's head towards Wittenberg. He rode 
only eight miles the first day ; but when he dismounted in the 
stable of the hostelry, he fell down on the straw overcome with 
anxiety and fatigue. On reaching Nuremberg he saw for the 
first time the papal commission to Cajetan and was filled with 
thankfulness to God, who had delivered him from the dangers 
which had environed him. He entered Wittenberg in safety 

* Sec-kend. I. p!49. 


1518. on the Eve of All Saints' day — a memorable anniversary ; but 
there was no longer, as the year before, a crowd of pilgrims 
wending their way to the Castle Church. 

Meanwhile the friends who had attended him at Augsburg 
had likewise quitted that city, and were dispersed in different 
spots. Staupitz, on whose fears the Cardinal's implied threats 
left a lasting impression, disappeared almost as mysteriously 
as Luther, without, as the Legate complained, even bidding 
adieu to his host. Link had returned to Nuremburg ; Bro- 
ther Leonard, it seems, was left behind for a day or two to 
present the appeal which Luther had duly made before wit- 
nesses previous to his flight. And shortly afterwards John 
Frosch, the prior of the Carmelites, paid a visit to Witten- 
berg, where his hospitality to Luther at Augsburg was requited 
with the best cheer the Augustine convent could yield or 
Luther procure, by begging venison and eatables of all kinds 
from Spalatin. 

The directions of Luther had been to place his "appeal" in 
the hands of the Cardinal as well as to affix it in public : but 
no one durst enter Cajetan's presence on such an errand, and 
even placarding the "appeal" in public seemed to involve 
considerable hazard. The notary to whom this latter duty 
had been assigned was warned by one whom Luther, as he 
states, had deemed one of his best friends at Augsburg, that 
imminent danger would attend such an act. The diligence 
of the Prior, however, conquered this timidity, and the " ap- 
peal " was affixed in the market place and on the door of the 
Cathedral. It bore date the 16th October, and recapitulated 
Luther's arguments for withstanding the abominable teaching 
of the indulgence commissioners, complained of the unfairness 
of committing his cause for judgment to Sylvester Prierias, 
spoke of the sanguinary reputation of the city of Rome, of 
Luther's feeble health and extreme poverty as a mendicant. 


and insisted on the inconsiderate conduct of Cajctan in de- 1518. 
manding an unconditional revocation without deigning to give 
any proof of error. But Luther had not yet discarded the 
papal authority, and the style of the document ran thus : — '' I 
appeal from the most holy father the Pope, ill-informed^ to the 
most holy father the Pope Leo X. by name, by the grace of 
God to be better informed," &c. 

A farewell letter in explanation of his sudden departure had 
also been addressed by Luther to the Cardinal, to be delivered 
when he was at a safe distance. In this letter he dwelt on 
the decisive proofs which he had given of obedience, by tra- 
velling so long a journey through so many dangers, although 
weak in body and very lean in purse. He had thrown him- 
self, he said, and all his, at the feet of his Holiness, and had 
omitted nothing to demonstrate his submission to the Church. 
But his longer stay would have been a severe tax on the hos- 
pitality of the Carmelites, and the most reverend father had 
commanded him not to approach his presence without a recan- 
tation. He had therefore appealed to the Most Holy Lord 
Leo X. to be better informed, and he well knew that such an 
appeal would please the Elector of Saxony far better than a 
revocation; but in making it he had consulted the judgment 
of his friends rather than his own, for he had thought it 
enough that he had before resigned the matter into the hands 
of the Church, and with the docility of a scholar was waiting 
her sentence.* 

But, although Luther had escaped the immediate perils of 
Augsburg, his condition could not be regarded under any 
other light than as most precarious. Cajetan had of course 
become exasperated, and the Thomist party, of which he was 
the head, proportionately incensed. His refusal to retract, 

* De VVette, I. pp. 164, 1G5. 


1518. and now his flight, were added to the Roman catalogue of his 
deadly sins. But in reference to the progress of his cause, 
and the public estimation of his character, the result was 
widely different. Luther himself declared that all that had 
been done at Augsburg was to waste time and money. His 
description of Cajetan's theological acumen was, that it rivalled 
in excellence the skill of an ass in playing the harp. " Yet," 
he added, "he is the most learned of the Thomists, and 
Prierias ranks second ! What must the tenth or the hundredth 
be ! The dear God preserve me from being puflFed up.'^ But 
such words themselves afford a confutation of the estimate 
that nothing had been done at Augsburg. Luther had learnt 
the deep ignorance of a cardinal of most learned fame in 
divine things, and the public had become more awakened to 
the same fact : the aflFair had passed through another stage, 
and its adjustment had become more diflticult ; and the 
reforming party had acquired greater confidence in Luther 
himself; and these were all of them important points. 

Immediately on his return he resumed the quiet routine of 
his preaching and lecturing, and proceeded with his commen- 
tary on the Epistle to the Galatians. But on the 19th No- 
vember Frederic received a letter from the Cardinal St. Sixti, 
conveying his version of the Augsburg inter\dews, and im- 
ploring the Elector not to sully any longer his name and his 
house by favouring a heretic, against whom judicial proceed- 
ings were in process at Bome, and of whose affairs he himself 
had now for ever washed his hands. The letter was trans- 
mitted almost as soon as received to Luther by his Prince, 
and drew from the Reformer an admirable answer at some 
length, in which he corrected the Cardinal's version of the 
interviews, and showed that Cajetan had quite departed from 
his promise of convicting him of error from Scripture, and 
then s})oke of the misapplication, so gross that any layman 


could at once detect it, much less a prince endued with such 1518. 
wisdom as Frederic — of texts of Scripture to support the pre- 
tensions of Rome. This doctrinal sequel to a statement of 
historical facts throws light on the researches of the Reformer 
in his cell, in this anxious interval, which were directed to the 
basis on which the papal supremacy rested, which he found 
more rotten than he had anticipated. And, in strict accord- 
ance with the progress of his ecclesiastical enlightenment, 
Luther drew up another " appeal ; ^' and on Sunday, the 28th 
November, read it aloud in Corpus Christi Chapel, in the 
presence of a notary stnd witnesses. "I appeal," he said, 
"from the Pontiff as a man liable to error, sin, falsehood, 
vanity, and other human infirmities, not above Scripture but 
under Scripture, to a future Council to be legitimately con- 
vened in a safe place, so that a proctor deputed by me may 
have secure access, protected from those snares which daily 
beset me even in Wittenberg from my adversaries." And 
this advance must be attributed in part to the influence of the 
Augsburg discussions upon the direction of his studies, that 
he now in fact abjured the Pope, and no longer appealed from 
Leo ill-informed to Leo well-informed, but from the papal 
authority itself to that of a Council. 

But Luther's bold language seemed to mock at the actual 
dangers of his present situation. What might be the most 
effectual means of providing for his safety was a problem of 
very uncertain solution, and he received intimation from the 
Elector that he must be ready to start for any destination at 
a moment's notice; and he had further an interview with 
Spalatin at Lichtenberg upon the subject. At one time a 
retreat to France was in contemplation : at another a cap- 
tivity or concealment in one of the Elector's fortresses was 
even as early as this date suggested ; but all was precarious, 

VOL. I. K 


1518. " I am ready to go forth/' Luther said, " like Abraham, not 
knowing whither to go ; nay, most certainly knowing, for 
God is everywhere." At last the long expected mandate 
from Frederic actually arrived, that Luther must be prepared 
for instant departure ; he had everything in readiness, and 
was only waiting more definite directions, when a second 
mandate counter-ordered the first ; a change of plans result- 
ing, as was afterwards shown, from a change in the policy of 
Eome, which was bent on making another attempt at amica- 
ble adjustment. In this uncertain state Luther bade a con- 
ditional farewell to his Wittenberg congregation : a com- 
mand for him to quit the town might reach him, he told 
them, at any moment ; it would not then be in his power to 
wdsh them farewell ; he seized the opportunity, therefore, to 
do so once for all. 

All this while the other Professors of Wittenberg were 
keeping pace with Luther in his scriptural discoveries, or fol- 
lowing at no long interval : and the students generally were 
treading close on the heels of their Professors. The theology 
of Holy Scripture was at that time studied in the University 
of Wittenberg under the stimulus of controversy, and the in- 
terest natural to the mind in a newly opened source of know- 
ledge, with an ardour and perseverance for which it would be 
difficult to find a parallel in later times. " Our University," 
Luther said, "glows with industry like an anthill." More 
students were flocking in than accommodation could well be 
procured for in the town : and the general curiosity was 
directed to acquiring Hebrew and Greek, the two languages 
which, like porters, sit at the entrance of the Bible, holding 
the keys. But Bossenstein, the Hebrew Professor, did not 
give thorough satisfaction : he thought too much of prosody 
and minute scholarship, as if, Luther complained, we were 


dreaming of becoming Hebrew orators. The rage was to 1518. 
know Scripture ; and the lectures on Scripture or the early- 
fathers were crowded. This passion passed from the Uni- 
versity to the Court — indeed it was pervading Germany — 
and Spalatin, in his correspondence with Luther, perpetually 
asked and received expositions of scriptural texts; and be- 
hind his secretary's shadow the real querist was often most 
probably Frederic himself. Luther had delivered a remark- 
able sermon, perhaps in some measure tentative, in reference 
to the worship of saints ; and the Electoral Secretary enquired 
if he objected to the*worship of saints. "You must not 
expect me to say much," Luther answered, '' about saints or 
angels : I know only Jesus Christ, and him crucified." But 
he subsequently explained that his strictures had been level- 
led, not at the invocation of saints, but the objects for which 
they were invoked. " St. Lawrence is invoked against fire ; 
St. Sebastian against the plague ; Martin and St. Roch 
against poverty; St. Anne and the blessed Virgin against 
evils innumerable ; St. Valentine against the falling sickness ; 
Job against the scab. How is it that no saint is invoked for 
chastity, patience, humility, faith, hope, or charity?" 

But Luther had no settled conviction that it was Frederic's 
resolution to protect him against Rome, under the ordeal of 
the greater trials that must ensue ; and he related with 
avowed satisfaction to Spalatin a conversation which had been 
reported to him from the table of the Bishop of Brandenburg. 
'^ On what does this monk rely," a guest had enquired, 
" that he dares to assail Rome so courageously ? Is it on 
Erasmus and the literati ? " " No," the Bishop himself re- 
plied, " the Pope would care little for Erasmus and the 
literati; the University of Wittenberg and the Elector of 
Saxony are Martin's stronghold." 

At length, however, Frederic spoke out, still in a tone of 

K 2 


1518. moderation, but with so much sincerity as to render his real 
sentiments no longer dubious. He replied on the 8th Decem- 
ber to the Cardinal's letter, which, he said, although dated the 
25th October, not having been despatched by a special mes- 
senger, had failed to reach him until more than three weeks 
later. He objected to the Cardinal, that, in his treatment of 
Luther, he had forgotten his promise to use paternal gentle- 
ness and no coercion. The high esteem, he continued, in 
which Martin was held for his piety and learning was irre- 
concileable with the charge of heresy : he had been convicted 
of no error; and his services could* not be dispensed with 
without great detriment to the University of Wittenberg. 
And Dr. Martin, he believed, had already referred the points 
in dispute to distinguished Universities, or had offered to 
maintain his opinions in public disputation. It was evident 
that the opposition to him arose principally from those who 
had found his erudition an obstacle to their private emolu- 
ments. The reply of Luther to the Cardinal's statement of 
what had passed at Augsburg was enclosed in this letter, 
which diflFused the liveliest satisfaction in Wittenberg. 

It so happened that the very next day after this letter had 
been despatched, the Reformer's narrative* of the Augsburg 
interviews found its way into the hands of the public. But the 
connexion in the dates was only casual. The Elector had 
sent to request that the publication might be deferred : and 
Luther would have readily complied ; but the avidity of tlie 
public and the cupidity of the printers outstripped his caution. 
To such a height had the popular excitement attained, that the 
house in which the printing was carried on was beset by a 
crowd of every rank and age ; as each sheet came reeking from 
the press it was disposed of, and happy was the student or the 

* Acta Augustina. 


burgher whose hand was the first to seize the prize. In fact 1518. 
Luther himself was one of the last to see an impression of his 
own writing. 

The first public act of Rome, in reply to the intelligence of 
Luther's obstinacy, and Cajetan's failure, was to issue a new 
decretal, dated the 9th November, which was published on 
the 13th December following, by the Cardinal Legate himself, 
at Lintz in Austria,'^ sanctioning afresh the doctrine of indul- 
gences. It was a proof that Rome felt her authority to be 
tottering. The edict declared that " the Roman Church, the 
mother of all Churches,* had handed down by tradition that 
the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter who bore the keys, 
the Vicar of Christ on earth, by the power of the keys — the 
office of which is to open by removing impediments from the 
faithful, that is, by removing the guilt and punishment due 
for actual sins by indulgence — can for reasonable causes grant 
to the faithful of Christ, who by the bonds of charity are 
members of Christ, whether in this life or in purgatory, indul- 
gences out of the superabundance of the merits of Christ and 
the Saints ; can confer the indulgence by absolution, or trans- 
fer it by suffrage. And all those who have acquired indul- 
gences, whether alive or dead, are released from so much tem- 
poral punishment for their actual sins as is the equivalent of 
the acquired indulgence. This doctrine is to be held and 
preached by all, under penalty of excommunication, from 
which only the Pope can absolve, save at the point of death.'* 
But this was a weak decree for bolstering up a failing autho- 
rity. Indeed, if Rome had been bent upon demonstrating to 
the world in the most conclusive manner, that all which her 
adversaries alleged against her was true, she could hardly 
have hit upon a policy more directly calculated to serve this 

* Pallav. I. p. 20. Polanus, I. p. 7. 


1518. end than the proclamation of such an edict. It proved to the 
whole world that Tetzel and the Commissaries were not the 
only delinquents in the indulgence matter; that Cardinal 
Cajetan was not alone in his determination to preserve her 
revenues to the Church, but that the Chief Priest of Christen- 
dom himself clutched the money bag with as covetous a gripe 
as any needy friar, and made his doctrines equally subservient 
to his emolument. Nor is it difficult to trace the influence of 
this and other events, accumulating as it were the present 
upon the past, and adding passing acts to what he was reading 
in ecclesiastical records, upon the Reformer's mind, as seen 
in the clear mirror of his correspondence. " His pen," he 
tells Link at this time, " is teeming with some nobler achieve- 
ment than he had essayed hitherto : " he had before called 
Home Babylon, but now "the conviction is daily growing 
upon him that the Pope is Antichrist.'' And when Spalatin 
enquired, v/hat he thought of war against the Turk, " Let us 
begin," he replied, " with the Turk at home ; it is fruitless to 
fight carnal wars and be overcome in spiritual wars."* 

But it would be a mistake to suppose that Rome had as yet 
resolved upon extreme measures. On the contrary, her 
policy was double as before : a bold front to the world, and a 
whisper of conciliation for the heretic and his friends, a smart 
blow to be quickly succeeded by the kiss of peace. Having 
buttressed up the dignity and reputation of her Cardinal, and 
uttered her authoritative voice to the world, she prepared for 
more gentle dealing with those w^hose faith was not amenable 
to the parchment and lead of the Vatican. Frederic's good- 
will could not be forfeited in the present juncture of German 
affairs. Just at the crisis when Luther was about to appear 
before Cajetan, it had been intimated that the Pontiff would 

* Letter of December 21. De Wette, I. p. 200. 


present the Elector with the golden rose; and the delegate who 1518. 
was to make the presentation in the PontifF^s name was also em- 
powered to arrange the unpleasant business of "friar Martin's" 
heresy. It was the turn for moderate counsels. Cajetaiij it 
was guardedly hinted^ was a very improper person, as the 
Prince of the Thomist party, for the work of reconciliation ; 
as an Italian, he could not be acceptable to the German 
nation; and his behaviour had been peremptory instead of 
conciliatory. In the person of the envoy now to be de- 
spatched direct to the Saxon Court, all these defects were to 
be more than repaired by the opposite virtues. Charles von 
Miltitz, the Pope's chamberlain, was not a theologian, but a 
diplomatist ; he was not only a German but a Saxon ; and, 
in place of arrogance or harshness, he was an accomplished 
corn-tier, versed in the arts of conciliation. Letters were re- 
ceived from the Vatican by Pfeffinger and Spalatin, exhort- 
ing them in the most complimentary strain to use their 
influence with Frederic to second the efforts of the new envoy. 
Popular feeling, however, was far from being conciliated by 
this new move on the part of Rome. Miltitz, it was hinted, 
had lived too long at Rome not to have imbibed a touch of 
Italian craft : it was reported that he would come laden with 
apostolic briefs; that, if fair means failed, he had orders to 
carry off the Reformer by force ; and Luther's friends trem- 
bled for his safety more than ever, now that a Papal emissary 
was coming straight to their doors. 

Before the close of the year, Miltitz arrived in Misnia. 1519. 
He promptly paid a visit to Spalatin, an old friend, from 
whom he heard a good deal of Tetzel's malpractices, and 
sounded in return the feelings of the Saxon Court. And 
early in January he had an interview with Luther in Spala- 
tin's house at Altenburg. The affability of the envoy sur- 
prised the Reformer. " He came," Luther afterwards said. 


1519. " laden with seventy apostolic briefs to carry me alive, and 
bound, to that homicide Jerusalem, Rome, or rather Babylon : 
but, struck to the ground by God in the way — that is, terri- 
fied by what he has seen and heai'd of the popular agitation in 
the taverns by the road-side — he has changed his enmity to 
kindness." After the first civilities at meeting, Miltitz con- 
gratulated Luther on the high esteem in which he was held 
by the populace. " Out of five Germans, barely two, at the 
most three, were on the side of Rome. I should bs a bold 
man to think of carrying you off, with twenty-five thousand 
soldiers at my call : you have torn Germany from the 
Papacy." Then, looking in Luther^s face : " Brother Martin, 
I had expected to see an old man fond of prosing on theology 
in his chimney-corner ; but you are in the prime and vigour 
of life." From compliments Miltitz advanced smoothly 
enough to business, and laboured to establish five points : 
1. That the people had been seduced in the matter of indul- 
gences. 2. That Luther had been the instrument of this 
seduction. 3. That he had been sorely provoked to it by 
Tetzel. 4. That the Archbishop of Magdeburg was to blame 
for impelling Tetzel to act as he had done on the spur of 
gain. 5. That Tetzel had exceeded his commission. It 
seemed to the envoy that this skilful mode of apportioning 
blame would soothe any irritation of the feelings, and lead to 
Luther's acknowleding his error in assailing an established 
dogma of the Church. The Reformer, in reply, maintained 
that the blame really rested at the Pontiff's door, for he had 
forced the Archbishop of Magdeburg to get money by some 
means or other to defray the cost of his pallium, which he 
might have conferred freely : and thus the Pontiff himself had 
made the virtue of indulgences a laughing-stock. He hinted 
also at the avarice of the Florentines, who had lu-ged the Pon- 
tiff, a man himself of ingenuous mind, to gross pecuniary ex- 


actions; and, "whilst they thought themselves able to bring 1519. 
him into what port they pleased, were like to subject him to 
shipwreck. ^^ As to a retractation, Luther stated that as his 
first movement had been in defence of the Church against 
those who degraded her by false and covetous doctrines, so to 
retract without being convicted of error, would only deepen 
the Church's disgrace. It was ultimately agreed that both 
sides should be forbidden to write or act in the question ; 
that Luther should revoke upon proof of his errors, and that 
the matter should be referred to the management of an en- 
lightened Bishop. Luther suggested the Archbishop of 
Treves, or Salzburg, or the Bishop of Naumberg. At this 
arrangement the envoy expressed himself transported with 
joy; he mildly admonished Luther to forbearance, and let 
some few tears drop between his words. The Reformer 
looked on in silence : " I pretended not to understand,' ' he 
afterwards said, " those crocodile tears." They supped toge- 
ther on the most friendly and convivial terms, and Miltitis 
spoke of the hubbub which the affair had raised at Rome — 
" for a hundred years nothing had been known like it, and 
the Cardinals would give ten thousand ducats, rather than let 
the matter proceed any farther." And he dismissed the Re- 
former with a kiss, " a Judas kiss," said Luther, " but I would 
not let him perceive that I saw through his Italian tricks." 

But Miltitz regarded his duty as only half-performed in 
dealing with Luther. He had before summoned Tetzel into 
his presence to answer for his delinquencies ; but the indul- 
gence-trafficker had refused to appear, alleging the dangers of 
the road from many powerful chieftains, the adherents of 
Martin Luther. Miltitz therefore repaired" to Leipsic, where 
Tetzel, having discontinued his professional perambulations, 
had found a domicile in the Dominican Convent of St. Paul : 
he instituted an investigation into his proceedings, and dis- 


1519. covered from the Fuggers that he had swept large profits into 
his own pocket. The craven indulgence-retailer crept away 
into some obscure corner to hide his shame^ and not long 
afterwards died, the victim of misery and despair. Perhaps 
the only person who grieved at his fate was his old adversary 
Luther, who regarded him as the scapegoat of worse offenders 
and the victim of a corrupt system. 

In the midst of Miltitz^ conciliatory negotiations, which, to 
the superficial observer, seemed to promise well, the Emperor 
Maximilian expired, on the 12th January. This event, so 
important to Europe, had also an immediate bearing upon 
Luther's case, inasmuch as, by the Germanic Constitution, 
during the interregnum the government devolved on the 
Elector of Saxony. So long, therefore, his Professor had little 
to fear from Rome. But whatever hopes the Nuncio might 
entertain of a successful adjustment of the controversy — and 
he boasted at Dresden that Dr. Martin was in his hands — or 
whatever might be the general opinion, Luther himself did 
not for a moment conceive that the matter could rest where 
it was. " God himself," he wrote to Staupitz,* " hurries, 
drives, not tt) say leads me : I am not master of myself : I 
wish to be quiet, and am hurried into the midst of tumults." 
He published, in the spring, his "Operations on the Psalms," — 
he " could not call the work by a higher title," — and dedicated 
them to the Elector Frederic ; and put the finishing hand to 
his " Commentary on the Galatians," and committed it to 
the press. He was busy in his researches into ecclesiastical 
history, the canons, and decretals ; and, with the criticism of 
native sagacity, was sifting the wheat from the chaff, the 
genuine writings of antiquity from the spurious. But with 
his researches his convictions continued to deepen daily. 

* Letter of the 20tli Februury. De Wette, I. p. 231. 


''Whatever I have hitherto done against Rome," he said, 1519. 
" has been but jest : soon I shall be in earnest/' " Let me 
whisper in your ear," he wrote to Spalatin, " that I am not 
sure whether the Pope is Antichrist or his Apostle." 

Yet he honestly carried out his arrangement with Miltitz, 
and published in February a statement of his opinions on 
many points of doctrine, that the world might not suppose him 
a worse heretic than he really was. Prayers to the Saints he 
approved ; he believed in Purgatory ; he venerated the Roman 
Church, but left the extent and foundation of the papal 
supremacy to the judgment of the learned."^ He addressed 
also, on the 3rd March, a humble letter to the Pontiff. " Most 
blessed Father, necessity again compels me, albeit the dregs 
of mankind and the dust of the earth, to approach your 
Majesty. Lend paternal ears, as becomes the Vicar of Christ, 
to your poor sheep, and deign to regard my bleating." He 
stated that those acts of his which had been construed into 
irreverence to the Holy See had really sprung from zeal to 
preserve the honour of the Roman Church : that his writings, 
which his adversaries had sought to crush, had on that account 
only circulated the more widely, and had fixed their roots in 
the minds of men too deeply to be revocable. Indeed, that 
to revoke them would be to yield the Roman Church to the 
vituperation of all men. He protested that it never had been 
nor was it his intention to assail the Roman Church, whose 
power was paramount to everything save Jesus Christ the 
Lord of all. And he closed his epistle with a statement of his 
entire readiness to say nothing more whatever about indul- 
gences, provided his enemies would cease their empty and 
arrogant language. 

This letter produced little or no effect ; and shortly after- 

* Walch. XV. pp. 813—849. 


1519. wards Luther heard that he had been burnt in effigy at Rome, 
But Miltitz remained warm in his work. In the middle of 
May he invited the Reformer to appear at Coblentz before the 
Archbishop of Treves and in presence of Cardinal Cajetan. 
Luther answered, that no mandate had as yet arrived from 
Rome by which the affair was entrusted to the Archbishop ; 
that in the vacancy of the empire it was not likely any such 
mandate would arrive — if it should, the Archbishop might not 
accept it ; that Cajetan was not a Catholic Christian, but had 
attempted to turn him aside from the Christian faith at 
Augsburg, and, when he had leisure, it was his intention to 
write to the Pope and Cardinals, and convict him of his errors 
if he did not amend them ; and moreover, that the time ap- 
pointed for his disputation with Dr. Eck of Ingolstadt was 
near at hand. 

This contemplated disputation with John Eck was now the 
topic of general conversation, and was exciting much fear and 
hope in the breasts of both the antagonist parties. It has been 
already stated that Carlstadt had published a series of proposi- 
tions for public disputation against the tenets of Eck. And 
Luther had had an interview with Eck at Augsburg, and ar- 
ranged that the disputation to which Carlstadt had challenged 
the Ingolstadt Doctor should come off at Leipsic. But it 
afterwards appeared that through Carlstadt, Eck was aiming a 
blow at Luther : for he published a set of propositions in 
which he manifestly impugned the characteristic doctrines of 
the Wittenberg monk, particularly his denial of the Pope's 
primacy by Divine right. This was throwing down the gaunt- 
let, and Luther, writing to the Elector of Saxony, declared 
that he deemed it due to the honour of his University, that he 
should pick it up. But in fact he was eager enough to accept 
the challenge on other grounds, and rejoiced in an opportu- 
nity of bringing the foundation of the papal pretensions more 


fully before thQ public. There were however obstacles in the 1519. 
way of the two renowned Doctors of Germany breaking a lance 
with one another in the controversial lists ; and Luther wrote 
in vain three times to Duke George of Saxony, to obtain his 
permission to have the disputation held in his town of Leipsic. 
There was no difficulty raised as to the contest of Carlstadt 
with Eck, but the proposed combat of Eck and Luther seemed 
to involve a breach of the engagements entered into with 

That stipulation however, of reciprocal silence, had already 
been infringed by the Papist party. Jerome Dungershein 
of Ochsenfort, a Professor of Leipsic, had been canvassing the 
question of the papal supremacy with Luther in several letters, 
nominally indeed for the sake of information, but really in a 
spirit of hostility. Ijuther had replied very briefly but per- 
tinently. If this were not deemed an infringement — and how 
could it be less ? — yet the Minorites of Juterbock had openly 
preferred a charge of heresy against Luther to the Bishoj) of 
Brandenberg; they had searched his writings and clubbed 
together the heresies they had severally detected : they had 
visited Wittenberg itself on an inquisitorial mission, cate- 
chized his congregation as to his sermons, and taken down 
heritical propositions from his own mouth and the lips of his 
friends. Luther on his part answered their charge with con- 
tempt, warned them that no task could be easier than to 
expose their ignorance ; recommended them silence for the 
future} but ofifered them peace or war.'^ These were indica- 
tions of what common sense could scarcely have overlooked, 
even without them ; that the popular agitation had run too 
high, and the interest of all Germany in the struggle was too 
intense to be suppressed or curbed by the diplomatic ligatures 

* Lat. Op. Jenoe, I. p. 213. 


1519. of Miltitz. But beyond Germany the same agitation was fer- 
menting in the popular mind. Luther heard from Switzer- 
land that his writings were highly esteemed there. Froben of 
Basle had never entered upon such a profitable speculation as 
reprinting them : a bookseller of Pavia was selling numerous 
copies in Italy : all along the Rhine, in Spain and Graul, 
in Brabant and England, they were in great request : they 
were perused by the Doctors of the Sorbonne. Every other 
interest seemed absorbed in the great and overwhelming topic 
of religion — Rome or Scripture was the one question. And 
particularly in the interval of the interregnum, when thought 
seemed more than ordinarily unfettered and language unre- 
strained,* men of all ranks might be observed to be choosing 
their side, as for a war which every one knew to be unavoida- 
ble. But these are apologies for the conduct of Luther's ad- 
versaries, not of Luther, for he had been challenged by Eck, 
and his opinions openly assailed; and he was not bound to 
silence unless his opponents observed the same. 

The 27th of June had been fixed for the disputation, and 
three days previously the Wittenberg party entered Leipsic. 
Carlstadt led the van in one of the low open waggons on 
wooden wheels (roU-wagen) used in that age : Duke Barnim 
of Pomerania, as Rector of the University of Wittenberg, 
followed with Luther and Melancthon on either side : and 
about two hundred Wittenberg students, full of zeal for their 
Professors and University, and armed, as some accounts say, 
with pikes and halberts, brought up the rear. But in pro- 
ceeding through the town a wheel of Carlstadt's waggon broke 
down, and the Archdeacon was precipitated in the mire. 
Luther's waggon thus obtained the first place, and led the 
procession to the door of the lodging. And this accident was 

* Cocblasus, Acta et Scripta, p. 12. 


regarded by the bystanders as an omen of the issue of the 1519. 

It was however as yet by no means clear that Luther would 
be admitted to share in the disputation at all : and he says 
himself that he entered Leipsic as a spectator and not a com- 
batant. The Bishop of Merseburg had caused a notice, in 
prohibition of the controversy, to be nailed to all the church 
doors in Leipsic : but as soon as ever Duke George entered 
his capital, he resented this as a stretch of ecclesiastical 
power, and had the notices torn down. As soon, therefore, as 
Luther's arrival was known, Eck called upon him, and com- 
plained that he understood he was unwilling to contend with 
him. " You," he said to Luther, " are the principal ; I care 
very little for disputing with Carlstadt.^' " Obtain permission 
from the Duke," Luther replied, " and I will gratify you." 
Eck now addressed himself to Duke George, and represented 
the extreme anxiety which was generally felt that he should 
be allowed to enter the lists against Luther himself j he ad- 
verted to the laurels he had won already, and spoke with 
confidence of a triumph for the Roman Church on the present 
occasion. The Duke was induced to give his permission. 

The popular speculations passed over Carlstadt, and only 
dwelt on the chances of success as between Luther and Eck. 
Dr. John Meyer Eck had won polemical laurels in Pannonia, 
Lombardy, and Bavaria, and as yet had overborne every com- 
petitor. At first, the expectation prevailed that he would be 
the victor at Leipsic ; and Luther had to allay the apprehen- 
sion which even Spalatin and the Elector of Saxony felt on 
the subject, by laying before the secretary an account of the 
chief arguments available on both sides, his answers to Eck's, 
and the reasons he had for knowing that Eck could not satis- 
factorily explain away his. " In human judgment," he wrote 
to Spalatin, " I have been undone long ago : my theses, my 


1519. sermon, my answer to Prierias, my ' solutions/ the Augsburg 
interviews — all and each of these was to end in my ruin ! 
And God will overrule this disputation too for good." As 
the day approached, expectation began to veer, and pointed 
its finger to Luther as likely to be the conqueror ; and, on the 
eve of the discussion, there was generally this presentiment 
in Leipsic itself, where his doctrines at this period were held 
in the deepest aversion. His calm demeanour inspired re- 
spect for his abilities. 

A preliminary meeting was held to arrange the mode of 
conducting the disputation, and the question first canvassed 
was whether notes should be taken of the arguments. Carl- 
stadt demanded that what was said on both sides should be 
committed to writing for publication : Eck urged, that if 
notes should be taken of the proceedings, the fluency and 
vehemence of speaking would be obstructed. It was at 
length agreed that minutes should be made of the arguments : 
but it does not appear that any settlement was come to as to 
the question of publication. Afterwards, in an interview with 
Luther, Eck insisted that the disputation thus taken down in 
writing should be submitted to some judge for the award of 
victory, and he proposed the Pontiff. Luther answered that 
he never could consent to the Pontiff as judge; but, to avoid 
the appearance of wishing to decline the contest, he assented 
to submitting the disputation to the Universities of Erfurth 
and Paris. In regard to the question of publication he used 
no ambiguity. " Never imagine," he said, " that I will bind 
myself to hold my tongue." 

On the morning of the 27th, mass was celebrated in the 
Church of St. Thomas. Princes, nobles, councillors, and 
professors walked in procession to the church, and after the 
service returned in the same order to Pleissenberg Castle, 
where the great hall had been fitted up as the scene of the 


disputation. Duke George, the hereditary Prince John of isiy. 
Saxony, the Duke of Pomerauia, and Prince George of 
Anhalt, had separate seats assigned them : the less distin- 
guished of the audience sat upon benches : and two pulpits 
had been erected for the disputants. When all had taken 
their places, an introductory address, an exhortation to 
courtesy and gentle language, was delivered by Mosellanus. 
On the conclusion of the address the notes of the organ 
pealed through the hall ; and all the company bending upon 
their knees joined in the hymn, ''Veni Sancte Spiritus." 
This was the inauguration of the contest ; and at the close of 
the hymn the assembly dispersed for their noonday repast : 
Duke George himself gave a grand entertainment to the dis- 
putants, and the more eminent of the spectators. At two 
o'clock in the afternoon the discussion commenced between 
Eck and Carlstadt. Its knotty subject was the power of the 
human will, which Carlstadt affirmed was spiritually altogether 
in bondage, but which Eck asserted possessed a measure of 
freedom, so as to be able to co-operate with God's grace. Eck 
was very much annoyed that Carlstadt had his books with him, 
and that Philip Melancthon would sometimes walk from his 
bench to Carlstadt's pulpit, and suggest an argument or quo- 
tation, until at last Eck thundered out, " Sit down, you 
grammarian, and don't disturb me." And when he suc- 
ceeded in having Carlstadt's books put aside, his overpowering 
voice and voluble eloquence crushed opposition, and reigned in 
the hall. But this disputation attracted no large amount of 
interest, and latterly the benches were almost empty. As to 
the controversial merits of the arguments adduced on either 
side, Luther avers that " to his certain knowledge Carlstadt 
carried back his proposition safe and unharmed to Wittenberg." 
But whilst this discussion continued, the Duke of Pome- 
rania requested that Luther would preach in the private chapel 

VOL. I. L 


1519. of the castle on the anniversary of St. Peter and St. Paul. 
At an early hour the chapel was filled, and as many who were 
eager to be present could not obtain seats or standing room, an 
adjournment was made to the large hall of disputation. Luther 
took as his text the Gospel of the day;* and treated, first, of 
the grace of God, and the human will, and secondly, of the 
power of Peter and the keys. Of the will, he said, that the 
beginning of its freedom was the entrance of grace. The 
grace of God must create God's image in the heart, and the 
best preparation for his grace was to despair of self. Under 
his second head he declared that the keys were not given to 
Peter exclusively, but in his person to the Christian Church, 
" to me and to you, for the comforting of our consciences." 
This sermon inflamed to greater intensity the hatred of the 
partisans of Rome. The charge of " Bohemian poison" re- 
sounded in a tone of menace ; and he was subjected to per- 
sonal afiront from the populace in the streets : and on one 
occasion, when he chanced to enter a church whilst mass was 
celebrating, the priests hurried away the wafer and the sacred 
utensils, and passed rapidly out of the sacred edifice, crossing 
themselves as they went. All the pulpits in the city were 
placed at Eck's service, and four times successively he fulmi- 
nated his anathemas against heresy ; and when Luther de- 
manded permission to reply, every pulpit was closed against 
him. The University offered him the usual compliment of 
wine ; but this was the narrow extent of their civility : and 
the only friends he had of the inhabitants of the city were 
Doctor Auerbach, who had stood by his side at Augsburg, 
and Doctor Pistor, the younger. The Leipsic and the Wit- 
tenburg students more than once came to blows in the streets ; 
and if Luther escaped the assault of open violence, it may be 



accounted for in some measure from the superstitious horror 1519. 
which enveloped him, a tale of the clergy having gained 
general circulation, that he carried the devil about with him 
in a small box. 

At length the anxiously awaited moment arrived : and on 
the 4th July, at seven o'clock in the morning, the great hall 
was filled to overflowing with an excited audience, the per- 
sonal friends, or warm allies of the two champions. Eck's 
natural confidence had been additionally inflated by his mani- 
fest superiority in learning and ability to Carlstadt. In per- 
son he was tall and handsome, and showed ofi" his fine figure to 
the best advantage by the animated action with which he dis- 
puted: and his strong voice harmonised with his stalwart 
frame. Mosellanus remarked, in reference to his mental 
powers, that his memory was astonishing ; and " if the 
strength of the other faculties corresponded, he would be an 
extraordinary man." On the tapestry hanging from his 
pulpit the figure of St. George was embroidered. Luther 
was of a stature but little above the ordinary ; he was so thin 
at this time that his bones almost seemed to pierce his skin ; 
his voice, far less powerful than Eck's, was clearer and more 
musical ; his eyes beamed with earnest thought, and his fea- 
tures generally wore the impress of the severe spiritual con- 
flicts which he had passed through. He mounted his pulpit, 
before which the figure of St. Martin was suspended with a 
nosegay in his hand, and with a cheerful air : but when he 
prepared for the discussion, his countenance assumed deep 
seriousness of expression. The idea impressed on the specta- 
tors by their relative appearances was, that John Eck, in the 
confidence of his learning and talents was seeking renown ; 
Luther, in reliance on God, was seeking truth. 

Before beginning the disputation Eck protested that he 
''submitted all he was about to say to the judgment of the 

L 2 


1519. supreme See and the Lord who sat upon it." Luther, in his 
turn, protested — " In the name of the Lord, Ameu. I em- 
brace and follow the protestation of Dr. Eck. I add this, 
that in reverence to the Pope and the Roman Church, I 
would willingly have omitted this subject, as unnecessary and 
extremely invidious, had I not been dragged into it by the 
proposition of Dr. Eck. I grieve at the absence of those 
who were bound to be present, I mean the heretical inquisi- 
tors," "^ The proposition alluded to was the thirteenth and 
last in Eck^s series, to this effect : " We deny that the 
Roman Church was not superior to others before the times of 
Sylvester ; and we always recognise as successor of Peter and 
General- Vicar of Christ him who holds the See and the faith 
of the blessed Peter." In opposition to this, Luther's thir- 
teenth proposition maintained : " The superiority of the Ro- 
man Church to others is only proved by cold decrees of 
Pontiffs not more than four hundred years old, against which 
there are eleven hundred years of approved history, the text 
of Scripture, and the decree of the most venerable Council 
of Nice." The disputation was immediately directed to this 
article, the Pope's primacy, as based or not on divine precept, 
which the Papists themselves, Prierias, Cajetan, and now Eck, 
had made, according to a military phrase, " the key to their 

"The Church," Eck commenced, " is a monarchy after the 
type of the heavenly monarchy," and he quoted Scripture and 
the fathers to prove this statement. Luther declared his 
assent. "And the head of this earthly monarchy," Eck 
proceeded, " is the Pontiff, the successor of Peter." " No," 
Luther replied, " the Church militant is a monarchy, but its 
head is not man, but Christ himself; for 'He must reign till 

* Lat. Op. Jcnfp, I. p. 232. 


he hath put nil enemies under his feet ; ' and again, ' LOj I 1519. 
am with you always ; ' and again, ' Then cometh the end 
when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even 
the Father ; ' and he himself exclaimed to St. Paul, ' Saul, 
Saul, why persecutest thou me ? ' Here, as Augustine says, 
is the head speaking for its members." Quotations followed 
from the fathers and decrees of Councils. But Luther went 
farther, and advanced a mass of proof from the patristic 
writings, that " by divine right all Bishops are equal ; " and 
also a passage from Jerome in evidence that presbyter and 
bishop were in primitive times the same, and " differed now 
by custom rather than divine authority." 

Eck, in support of the Divine right of the primacy, rested 
on two texts of Scripture alone or principally — " Thou art 
Peter, and on this rock I will build my church," &c. ; and 
the injunction thrice repeated to Peter — "^Feed my sheep." 
Luther replied — " The true translation of the first quoted text 
is, 'Thou art Peter (a stone), and on this rock I will build 
my Church ; ' that is, as Augustine and Ambrose explain, not 
on Peter, but on Peter's confession of faith : for ' other founda- 
tion can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ ; ' 
and as Peter himself declares, ' To whom coming as unto a 
living stone, &c., ye also as lively stones are built up a 
spiritual house.' All believers are stones built on the founda- 
tion-stone or rock Jesus Christ." In answer to the other 
text Luther stated, " The thrice repeated injunction to Peter 
was a solemn warning to him to spurn every dignity, to love 
nothing but the Saviour, to deny himself and that self- 
righteous confidence through which he had thrice denied the 
Lord." "But," continued Eck, "It was Peter who walked 
on the sea to go to Christ, which, says St. Bernard, typified 
the world made subject to him : Christ commanded him, 
' Follow thou me : ' Peter exhorted the Apostles previous to 


1519. the election of Matthias." Luther answered^ " To exhort is 
no proof of primacy, but the common office of Apostles : as 
to the admonition to ' follow ' the Saviour, so far St. John 
might have better claims to the primacy, as the notion was 
current that he should never die : in walking on the waters 
Peter was beginning to sink, but really to trample the world 
under foot is the duty of every Christian. I might add, that 
the Apostles sent Peter as well as John to Samaria: that 
James confirmed the speech of Peter ; * that Paul ' withstood 
Peter to the face because he was to be blamed ; ' that in the 
description of the ecclesiastical body by St. Paul there are 
enumerated — ' first Apostles, then prophets, thirdly teachers : ' 
no hint of any primacy; that Paul spoke of himself as the 
' Apostle of the Gentiles,' of Peter as the ' Apostle of the cir- 
cumcision ; ' that Matthias was not ordained, nor Paul and 
Barnabas separated to the ministry by Peter; that 'the thief 
on the cross kept the faith,' as saitli Augustine, ' which Peter 
denied ; ' that ' the new Jerusalem ' has twelve foundations ; 
the brazen sea was supported by twelve oxen, Solomon's 
throne by twelve lions, twelve stones wer^ placed by the 
Jordan, all in direct contradiction to the idea of any in- 
equality." But Luther was at this time willing to concede 
to St. Peter a primacy of honour. When the argument 
came to ecclesiastical history, Luther maintained that the 
Church of Christ had existed for twenty years before the 
Church of Rome existed at all ; that Cliurch was itself an 
oflfshoot from the Church of Jerusalem : the Greek Church 
had been independent for 1400 years, and " now at last were 
Gregory Nazianzen, Basil, Epiphanius, Cyprian, and a host 
of saints to be driven from their seat in heaven ?"t that in 
the fourth century many churches were independent of Rome, 

* Acts XV. t De ccelo deturbare. 


and the patriarchates were on an equality, as appeared by the 1519. 
decree of the Council of Nice ; that Gregory the Great had 
repudiated expressly the title of Oecumenical or Universal 
Bishop. Yes, Eck replied, but there is a difference between 
Universal Bishop and Bishop of the Universal Church. The 
audience laughed at the sophistry ; and Luther observed that 
he had obtained one valuable piece of information to take 
back with him to Wittenberg. 

Throughout the disputation Luther laboured under the dif- 
ficulty of having to confront citations from authorities now 
well ascertained to be spurious, such as Dionysius the Areo- 
pagite and the false decretals. Eck's reading had been more 
extensive than the Reformer's ; and in quoting passages from 
rare authors he did not fail to remark that probably his ad- 
versary had not heard their names before. But with that 
intuitive sagacity, which, with all his immense reading and 
prodigious memory, the Doctor of Ingolstadt wanted_, Luther 
boldly advanced the charge of spuriousness from internal evi- 
dence against many of the works quoted; as, for instance, 
against an alleged constitution of Anacletus, in Avhich it was 
asserted that '^Cephas'' Avas synonymous with head. 

But EcVs strong point was the insinuation of heresy 
against his ojiponent ; and he pushed Luther hard with the 
accusation of l3eing " a patron of the doctrines of Wycliffe, 
Huss, and the Bohemians.'^ This charge was deliberately 
made, and the effects of the reply it was well known would 
be felt throughout Europe : there were Bohemians in the hall 
whom the controversy had called to Leipsic : and Duke 
George and the audience were carried away by the over- 
whelming interest of the moment, and half rose from their 
seats in expectation of the manner in which the accusation 
would be met. It evidently cost Luther an effort to answer 
as he did, for he foresaw the consequences ; but he disdained 


3519. equivocation "The Bohemians/' he rephed_, "are schis- 
matics, and I strongly reprobate schism ; the supreme divine 
right is charity and unity. But amongst the articles of John 
Huss, condemned by the Council of Constance, some are 
plainly most Christian and evangelical." Hence it followed 
that a general Council was not infallible ; tliis conclusion was 
inevitable : and this was in fact the chief result to the Re- 
former's system of doctrines from the Leipsic disputation. 
He had appealed from the Pope to a General Council, and 
condemned the primacy as cf divine right by the voice of a 
Council ; but he was now driven from this transition stage, 
and fell back on the Bible, and tlie Bible alone, as the only 
infallible standard. But Eck had so far gained his point that 
he had clear proof of his opponent's heresy for the papal ear. 
The debate on the primacy lasted five days. Duke George 
acted the part of a courteous, and for the most part an im- 
partial president of the contest. He one day observed to 
Luther and Eck at his own dinner-table in interruption of 
their conversation — " Whether the Pope be by divine or 
human right, at least he is Pope." " I was much pleased," 
Luther remarked afterwards, " with this observation, for it 
proved the Duke saw the folly of our discussion." In some 
respects the Reformer perceived a decided leaning to Eck, but 
" I could distinguish," said he, " between the pipe and the 
breath which blew on it : whenever the Duke spoke of his 
own mind his words were most princely." After the question 
of the Primacy the doctrines of Indulgences, Repentance, 
Absolution, Satisfaction, and Purgatory passed under discus- 
sion. Luther did not deny Purgatory, but maintained that 
Scripture spoke only of two states in the eternal world. Of 
prayers to the dead, he remarked that the Maccabees com- 
mended them ; but the apocryphal books were not canonical ; 
the Jews had never regarded them as such. Tlie nearest ap- 


proxiniation in opinion between Luther and Eck was on the 1519. 
subject of Indulgences, which supplied matter chiefly for 
ridicule, and " was almost hissed off the stage." Their dis- 
putation concluded on the morning of the ]4th at eight 
o'clock : after which Carlstadt and Eck renewed their en- 
counter, discussing the merit of good works ; and on the 16th 
the whole was closed by a sermon and the chaunt of Te Deum. 
The opinions were various to which side the palm of 
victory was due. The Leipsickers declared that it remained 
with Eck. But that Eck himself did not feel this to be cer- 
tain, is evident from his complaint that the Wittenberg party 
brought their books into the hall of disputation, took careful 
notes of all that was said, and in the interval studied the 
subject for discussion for the next day, and were many against 
one. " There were," he averred, " two doctors, Lange the 
Vicar of the Augustines, two licentiates, a very arrogant 
nephew of Eeuchlin, three doctors of law, and a host of 
masters." Yet Eck had Emser and the Leipsic Professors to 
aid him with their counsel ; and if he wanted books the 
University Library was all at his service : and in fact the 
Leipsic masters asserted that they had won the cause for him. 
Eck persisted that he was all alone, and Luther confirmed his 
assertion, so far at least as that his coadjutors kept quite quiet 
and he was always clamouring. There can be no doubt, the 
Reformer said that he " outbellowed " us. But he did not 
think highly of Eck's argumentative claims. " We had exa- 
mined at Wittenberg," he said, " the subjects in dispute so 
closely as to count the bones ; Eck only grazed the skin : he 
is a water spider and runs along the surface ; he flies before a 
text of Scripture as the devil before the cross." He told Eck, 
with one of those flashes of his genius with which he ever 
and anon lighted up the maze of the controversy, that, " The 
theologian, if he would not err, must place the whole of 


1519. Scripture before his eyes^ and compare contraries with con- 
traries ; and then seeming contraries, Hke the faces of the 
cherubim turned away from one another yet meeting over the 
centre of the mercy-seat, would all be found to meet in 
Christ." Eck ceased to brawl of Luther that he was a man 
without learning ; but the most convincing proof that he 
knew himself to be vanquished, is that his wounded pride 
never healed ; but the amity which had till then been main- 
tained with some kind of semblance was exchanged on his 
part for the most rancorous and untiring persecution. 

The controversy sounded throughout Germany, and every- 
where produced an incredible sensation. Indulgences were 
quite forgotten in the vastly more interesting enquiry which 
had now been brought before the public, aiFecting the ground- 
work of the pretensions of Rome ; and the popular sympathies 
rushed into this new channel with a force of which there had 
been no example. The painters caricatured Dr. Eck, the 
poets satirized him, the ballad-singers sung his defeat at the 
street corners. And against this aggregate of talent he had 
only the poetaster E-ubeus to chime his praises. The pun of 
Erasmus became popular; "Don't call him Eck, call him 
Jeck.^'* Ulric Hutten, ever amongst the foremost, sharpened 
his sword, for he was rejoiced to think he might have need of 
it, and sharpened his pen ; and, having abjured Rome for 
ever, as his motto said, " the die being cast,'' made a dash at 
Eck in the "planed-ofF corner (Eck)." Lazarus Spengler, 
and Bilibald Pirkheimer, let him taste the pungent salt of 
Nuremberg. And the " unlearned regulars " of the diocese of 
Misnia, who had been accused to their Bishop by Eck of 
Lutheranism, requested, by the pen of CEcolampadius, of 
" the most glorious, superlatively learned, and triumphant 

* Dutch for fool. 


Dr. Eck," to explain his arguments^ wliicli surpassed their 1519. 
comprehension, nay, that of the Pope himself; whereas 
Luther's were so level to their simple minds, in such striking 
harmony with Scripture and the fathers, as well as accept- 
able, which was strange, to the most learned men of the 
age. None of the flying squibs of the day stung Eck more 

But besides this " biting from beneath a hedge,^'* as Luther 
called these anonymous satires, various accounts of the dispu- 
tation were soon afloat, to Eck's extreme annoyance. Me- 
lancthon forwarded his description of the controversy to 
QEcolampadius ; and Eck, from fulminating against his oppo- 
nent, and chaunting his own panegyric in the Leipsic pulpits, 
turned to his pen, and wrote his version of the disputation in 
answer to the "grammarian,'^ who, although he was "not 
quite ignorant of Greek and Latin," was too far below him to 
be " challenged in the theological stadium." But his hopes 
were fixed on the Universities ; and, by the agency of the aged 
Hochstraten and Duke George, he trusted to influence the Uni- 
versities of Louvain and Paris to deliver a verdict in his favour. 
His only confidence was thus in a packed jury of academicians. 
The public eye shot scorn and ridicule. Thirty versions of 
the disputation were already in existence, so pressing was the 
demand, when the authoritative account, as taken down by 
the notaries of the Wittenberg side, made its appearance, and 
was hailed by Eck and his faction with a chorus of reproach, 
as against the preliminary agreement. On the heels of this 
document Luther published his " Solutions of the Thirteen 
Propositions " with a preface, in which he quoted his own ex- 
plicit words — " Never imagine that I will consent to hold my 
tongue." And this preface again entangled him with Eck^s 

* Morsus sub sepe. 


1519. An important effect of the Leipsic disputation was the in- 
tercourse thus opened between the Christianity of Witten- 
berg and of Bohemia. The prefect of the College of the 
Emperor Charles^ at Prague, wrote Luther a letter of congra- 
tulation, and enclosed some books of Huss ; and Luther, in 
return, sent the Bohemians all or the greater part of his own 
treatises. The Curate, also, of the Cathedral of Prague, for- 
warded to him the assurance of the hearty goodwill of the 
Bohemian Christians, who " had prayed night and day to God 
in his behalf, and offered up supplications in all their churches 
for his success." But Jerome Emser, Luther's old Leipsic 
acquaintance, thought he might put with advantage a spoke 
of his own into the wheel, and wrote to the administrator of 
the Catholic Church in Prague to encourage him in, bringing 
back stragglers to the '" one fold/' by saying that Luther, 
" in his rare erudition,'' had not disclaimed any charge witli 
such vehemence as that of sympathy with the Bohemian 
Beghards. Luther marked the craft and malevolence of this 
insinuation, and indited a sharp reply to the '^Emseran he- 
goat," twitted him on his avarice and incontinence, and ad- 
vised him to borrow a little of his friend Eck's memory. " The 
Adam in him," the Reformer said, " was full of gall, but the 
Christ in him suppressed it." As for the Bohemians, they 
were schismatics, and schism was condemned in Scripture, 
but only a lying tongue could call them heretics. The paper 
war, if for a moment it had shown a tendency to slacken, re- 
doubled in activity after the Leipsic combat. Augustine Alveld, 
a Franciscan of Leipsic, attacked Luther in a tract, which, 
said he, " in brain, nose, mouth, and hair, shows the Leipsic 
ox;'''^ and, as he had not a spare hour to waste, he deputed 
Lonicer, a Wittenberg student, to write from his suggestions 

* I. e. Dungersheim of Oclisenfort. 


an answer for him. And when Thomas Rhadiuus, no other, 1519. 
as he supposed, but incorrrectly, than the "he- goat" under a 
personated name, made another butt at him, he handed over 
this aggressor to his faithful armour-bearer, Melancthon*. 

But by far the most important result of the disputation was 
its influence in expanding and consolidating Luther's theolo- 
gical system. He had before said, '' Wycliffe and Huss 
assailed the morals, but in assailing the doctrines of Rome we 
seize the goose by the throat ; '' but by perusing the writings 
of Huss, he found that the strictures of the Bohemian Apostle 
had not been confined to the mode of life, that there was 
much he might learn from him, and he exclaimed with deep 
earnestness that " God would assuredly visit it upon the world, 
that truth had been proclaimed a century ago and had been 
burnt. St. Paul, Augustine, John Staupitz, all of us,'' he 
exclaimed, " are Hussites." He found that Huss had repu- 
diated the doctrine of Purgatory, and being convinced by 
renewed examination tliat Scripture was with him, he rejected 
it also. He read with great interest the objections of Huss, 
on plain grounds of Scripture, to the denial of the cup to the 
laity in the Lord's Supper ; and shortly afterwards, in a sermon 
to his Wittenberg people, declared his conviction that it was 
" highly advisable that a General Council should determine 
the administration of both kinds to the laity in the Sacrament." 
These discoveries led the way to others. In treating upon 
confession from the pulpit at this period, he divides it into con- 
fession to God, or that of faith; confession to the injured 
party, or that of charity ; and auricular confession, " the ap- 
pointment not of God but of the Pope." He began to hint 
that a General Council would do well to '' allow curates their 
lawful wives instead of strumpets : " and pronounced with 

* See Bretschneider, I. p. 288. 


1519. emphasis his condemnation of the " monk's begging sack/' 
which Eck made a special charge against him ; " for himself, 
he had much rather have learnt some honest handicraft, and in 
that faith he should die, despite Dr. Eck." Again, the 
Franciscans of Juterbock, who had slunk back to growl in 
secret at Luther's first rebuff, had now obtained the patronage 
of Eck ; and under his wing were clamouring with augmented 
fury against the Wittenberg heretic. Luther in his reply 
warned them of their folly in trusting to Dr. Eck, who was, 
" as the wolf said to the nightingale, voice and nothing more : " 
but it is more worthy of remark, that, as in the constant 
expansion of his views in almost every tract he throws out a 
fresh ray of light, so here he says, " I ask what passage of 
Scripture gives power to the Pope to canonize Saints : next, 
what necessity there is to canonize Saints : finally, what 
utility there is in canonizing Saints." ^ About the same 
time also the treatise of Laurentius Valla on " the donation of 
Constantine," edited by Hutten, fell into his hands, and he 
learnt from it, and communicated the intelligence with exulta- 
tion to Spalatin, that the famous donation was all a fiction. 

It was likewise a memorable trophy of the Leipsic disputa- 
tion that Caspar Cruciger, whose name will often occur in this 
biography, at that time a student at Leipsic, was converted by 
means of Luther's arguments to a knowledge of the Gospel. 
And a scarcely less illustrious trophy was that Melancthon 
thenceforward became a theologian, and soon afterwards 
commenced lecturing on St. Paul's Epistles, with so much 
penetration and ability that Luther exclaimed with pride, 
" The little Greek will beat me too in theology." In the in- 
terval which followed on the discussion, before men's minds 
had been drawn to some other subject by some fresh event, 

* Contra malifrnum Johan. Eccii judicium. Op. Jense, I. p. 225. 


Melancthou published in answer to Eck, his first theological 1519. 
writing, terse and elegant like all the fabrics of his intellect. 
It proclaimed Scripture as the only Lydian stone to test 
truth. That Scripture is abused, he asserted, is the fault 
not of Scripture but of those who bring the heat of prejudice 
to its study : " as the polypus imbibes the colour of the rock 
it clings to, so is Scripture coloured by human fancies and 
preconceived notion s.^^ And this in one sentence was cer- 
tainly the greatest result of the collision in Pleissenburg 
Castle, that thenceforth— not the Pope, nor even a General 
Council, but Scripture, was recognised by the Lutherans as 
the only religion of Christians. " The reed of Egypt nothing 
against the sword of the Spirit." 

On the other hand, the disputation, which had yielded such 
fruits to the reforming party, had not left the Uomanists 
without hope. To a certain extent Luther had faUen into 
the trap which had been laid for him ; and Duke George, fol- 
lowing in the traces of Eck, in a letter to Frederic before 
the end of the year, hinted that the promotion of his Professor 
to be " Bishop of Prague " might be shortly looked for. The 
University of Cologne condemned Luther^s writings before 
the end of August ; and that of Louvain did the same early 
in November. One or two bishops placed his writings and 
Hutten^s in their " index expurgatorius." The Bishop of 
Misnia placarded in public his condemnation of Luther's 
sermon on the Sacrament of the Altar. The Bishop of Bran- 
denburg, who had hitherto shown him some countenance, 
had now become his determined foe ; and, in the presence of 
his courtiers, taking up a brand and throwing it into the fire, 
exclaimed, " I will never rest till Martin is consumed like 
that brand." The priests of Misnia did not scruple to declare 
that to kill Luther would be no sin. And the malice of his 
enemies, building on the foundation laid at Leipsic, had 


1519. invented and circulated a story that he was of Bohemian 
birth and parentage, which he found it necessary to disprove 
in a letter to Spalatin, and in a public '^ declaration." 

The least idle of all the Romanist party was the leader of 
the persecution himself. Eck, after various rencontres with 
pen and ink in sequel to the great Leipsic combat, prepared 
for a public bonfire of Luther's writings at lugolstadt ; but 
the good sense of Reuchlin prevailed upon the University to 
exercise forbearance. Eck then turned from attempting to 
burn to attempting to refute ; and with his best talent, and 
most ostentatious learning, composed an elaborate treatise on 
the primacy of St. Peter. The work was an ingenious super- 
structure built on piles of quotations from spurious fathers, 
spurious decretals, and spurious decrees of Councils. Having 
thus refuted Luther, which he had promised to do — and hs 
told the reader he had kept his word — and having given the 
minor spirits of his Pandemonium their cue, he hastened 
away at the end of February to Rome, to present his book in 
person to the Pontiff. There was one vigorous hope in his 
breast, of which he was assured he should not be disappointed, 
to add his strength to that of Prierias, Cajetan, and the 
Thomist phalanx around Leo, and crusb his adversary for ever 
by the whole weight of the Papacy. It was the Pope who 
must now speak, in accents such as he had not yet used, that 
infallible judge to whom he had submitted all that he had 

Simultaneously with the early part of the Leipsic disputa- 
tion^ the electoral conclave at Frankfort was engaged in deep 
deliberation on whose brow the crown of the empire should 
be placed. The deliberations commenced on the 17th June. 
The competitors for the prize Avere Francis of France, and 
Charles of Spain ; for Henry of England had retired from the 
contest. The Pope, who dreaded the union of the kingdom 


of Naples with the empire, was on the side of Francis, and 1519. 
had exerted himself in the cause with a zeal which had even 
been deemed intrusive by the Rhenish Electors, who were 
more favourably disposed to France, and in this way had 
added to the unpopularity of the Papacy in Germany. The 
course of events inclined against Francis. The private wars 
which raged before and during the canvass took a turn so de- 
cidedly opportune for Austria just at the crisis of the election, 
and Spanish gold flowed so freely among the electoral de- 
pendants, aided by large promises of various kinds to the 
Electors themselves, that before the decisive day the issue 
could be foreseen. The Electors of Treves, Brandenburg, and 
Saxony alone remained unpledged to Austria. Many had 
been the attempts, and large the offers of the Austrian nego- 
ciators, to extract from the incorruptible Frederic the promise 
of his vote, to which a peculiar moral weight was attached ; 
yet, although no engagement had been entered into, a mar- 
riage contract between the son of his brother and colleague 
Duke John and Catherine, sister of Charles V., pointed to the 
bias of his sentiments. There were, however, those among 
the Electors who had formed the scheme of setting aside both 
the professed candidates, and filling the imperial throne by a 
choice from their own body. Joachim of Brandenburg was 
ambitious enough to covet earnestly this elevation for himself, 
but he did not enjoy that public esteem which constituted one 
of the many qualifications of Frederic. And accordingly, in 
a nocturnal conference, the Elector of Treves exhorted his 
brother Elector of Saxony to accept the diadem, if it should 
be offered him, and to sanction his canvassing in his behalf. 
Had he assented, the interest of the French monarch, who 
despaired of his own chance of success, and the interest of 
the Pontiff, would both have been thrown into the scale, and 

VOL. I. M 


1519. would probably have turned it in his favour. But on mature 
consideration Frederic rejected the proposal, on the ground 
that in the present turbulent times his authority would be 
insufficient to maintain internal tranquillity and check the 
encroachments of the Turks. Charles of Austria was of 
German descent, and the most powerful prince of the age: 
and after Frederic's refusal he stood alone in his claims. On 
the 28th June, the Electors assembled in the dimly lighted 
chapel in the choir of the Church of St. Bartholomew, in their 
scarlet robes of state ; and the Elector of Treves being asked 
by the Elector of Mentz for whom he gave his vote, replied, 
'' For Charles of Austria." The voice of the entire College 
repeated the same words. And Charles, King of Spain, both 
the Sicilies, Jerusalem, Hungary, Dalmatia and Croatia, 
Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Count of Hapsburg, 
Flanders, and the Tyrol, and lord of a new hemisphere, was 
pronounced duly elected Emperor of Germany. But had the 
election been postponed an hoar, the success of some German 
adherents of France against the partisans of Austria, trivial 
in itself, and, as events turned out, without fruit, might pos- 
sibly have altered the destinies of Europe. 

Charles was at Barcelona holding the Catalonian Cortes 
when the news of his election reached him. And meanwhile, 
until he could visit Germany, Frederic of Saxony was nomi- 
nated Lieutenant of the Regency. No council of Regency, 
however, was appointed. The public affairs were administered 
by the imperial Commissioners at Augsburg ; the old Coun- 
cillors of Maximilian presided over by the Archduchess Mar- 
garet; and notwithstanding the Electors had made express 
stipulations for enlarging the liberties of the States, every- 
thing proceeded in the old despotic fashion. But in the 
absence of Charles the settlement of religious dissensions, as 


dependant on the civil power, of course remained in abeyance. 1519. 
And in this way divine Providence again sliielded the rising 
struggles of truth. 

In the middle of January Luther addressed a letter to the 1520. 
youthful emperor^ imploring him to cast a favourable eye 
upon his cause, which was " worthy to come before the throne 
of heaven^ much more before an earthly potentate.^' He had 
been drawn, he said, from his corner against his will, and 
solely by his love of truth ; he had offered mutual silence to 
his adversaries in vain ; he had demanded proof of his errors, 
none had been vouchsafed. It was evident that in plotting 
his ruin his foes meant nothing less than the extirpation of 
the Gospel. He therefore implored his most Serene Majesty, 
the prince of the kings of the earth, to take the cause of truth 
under the shadow of his wings, to defend which God had 
entrusted to him the sword, and not to suflfer him to be con- 
demned unheard.* Towards the end of the same month, the 
Spanish Ambassador paid a visit to the Saxon Court, and was 
honoured with a magnificent entertainment by Frederic, to 
which Luther and Melancthon were invited, and argued the 
great religious question with the Ambassador. This invitation 
was a proof to the Imperial Court of the Elector's regard for 
Luther's cause ; and it is memorable as the only occasion on 
which Frederic and Luther ever conversed together : they 
afterwards met face to face for the last time in the Diet of 
Worms. The Reformer soon afterwards addressed an epistle, 
deprecating being condemned unheard, to the Archbishop of 
Mentz, and another to the same purport to the Bishop of 
Merseberg. In this letter he spoke of his readiness to be 
relieved from the wearisomeness of public notice and his 
office of teaching, for it was his continual grief that " he did 

* De Wette, I. pp. 392, 394. 

M 2 


1520. not live as he taught •" * and he had never sought his own 
glory, but only truth. The Archbishop replied that Luther 
was culpable in declaiming with vehemence on such points 
as freewill and the Pope's primacy ; and the Bishop, that he 
was rebelling against the papal power.f The curtain was 
already let fall on the indulgence controversy. 

Fresh proofs were afforded the Reformer of his Prince's 
regard, by the request which the Elector made through Spa- 
latin, that he would write an explanation of the Epistles and 
Gospels throughout the Christian year, a work begun this 
spring, and which appeared in parts, as promptly as Luther's 
other multifarious labours would allow, under the title of 
^'Postils." The wish of Frederic was to divert the Re- 
former's attention from " quarrelsome, biting, and turbulent 
writings," and lead him to " apply his mind to the quiet pur- 
suit of sacred literature." But, at the same time, Luther 
had become the court theologian, and his judgment was con- 
stantly referred to in explanation of passages of Scripture. 
He was asked to write a consolatory treatise for the use of 
Frederic, who was labouring under severe iRness, and pro- 
duced the " Tessaradecas," and dedicated it to his patron. 
He had preached a sermon on " good works," dwelling on his 
great principle that good works, as men call them, are not in 
outward acts, but in the heart, which Spalatin, at the sugges- 
tion of Duke John, requested him to write down and print : 
he did so, enlarging it from a sermon to a book, and dedicated 
it to the Duke. He gave the preference to this tract over all 
his previous works : but " perhaps this very leaven," he added, 
" of self-satisfaction has tainted and spoilt it." But it was in 
vain that Spalatin, here also the mouthpiece of the Saxon 
Court, tried to instil the importance of avoiding bitterness 

* Quod non vivo quod doceo. t Walch. XV. p. 1651. 


in controversy, on occasion of a severe reply from the Re- 1520. 
former to an inhibitory schedule placarded against his sermon 
on the Eucharist by the Bishop of Misnia."^ Luther answered 
that the Gospel was so dear to him, that he would not per- 
mit an angel from heaven to defame one of its truths, much 
less a Bishop — "a terrestrial idol/^ And he defended his 
severity on the plea that tame writings soon fall into oblivion ; 
and, if his own age judged him too acrimonious, the judgment 
of posterity would be more compassionate. "You cannot," 
he continued, "make a sword into a feather, or war into 
peace : and the word of God is war, it is ruin, a reproach, per- 
dition, and poison ; it meets the children of Ephraim as a 
bear in the way, and a lioness in the wood." But the cou- 
trast between Luther's words and acts was never better 
evidenced than at this very time. A riot between the stu- 
dents and some of the townspeople had filled the streets of 
Wittenberg with tumult ; many of the University authorities, 
and amongst them the Rector Burckard, took the side of the 
students ; but Luther sharply reproved this timorous partia- 
lity ; he insisted that the Elector's mandate should be obeyed, 
and no weapon be carried by any student, and, mounting the 
pulpit, reprimanded both the offending parties with even- 
handed justice. The devil, he said, had been foiled at Augs- 
burg and at Leipsic, and, being very wroth, trusted to traduce 
the Gospel by fomenting brawls at Wittenberg. 

"The wild ass of Leipsic," so Luther styled Alveld, "brayed 
again ;" f and the Reformer followed up Lonicer's writing by 
a tract from his own pen, " On the Papacy." Having thus 
dealt a settling blow to one adversary, he turned round to deal 
one to another. Prierias, " the Greek barbarian and Roman 

* Lat. Op. Jense, I. p. 465. t De Wette, I. p. 445. 


1520. cook,"* had not only replied to Luther's " Answer/' but was 
engaged in compiling a standing exposure of Luther's hetero- 
doxy, a learned medley of scholastic quotations, and had sent 
the Reformer an epitome of the third book, to let him under- 
stand by tlie sample of one rod what must be the combined 
weight of the implement preparing for his chastisement. 
Luther served this '^ Epitome " as he had before served the 
" Reply." He re-edited it with marginal notes, adding a pre- 
face and epilogue ; and he bound up with it a treatise of John 
Nannes, a Dominican of Viterbo, in the last century, who 
had advanced what Prierias had reproduced, that Daniel's 
fifth monarchy, the reign of the Saints, was the reign of 
the Papacy. To this, Luther rejoined that his scriptural re- 
searches had not led him to the conclusion that Daniel's fifth 
monarchy was realised in the Pope's temporal and spiritual 
despotism; but he was convinced of the apostolicity of the 
Papacy, and that it had its prototype in Judas Iscariot. " In 
the purple harlot of the Apocalypse, the mother of fornications 
and abominations of the earth, the mystic Babylon, drunk 
with the blood of the saints and of the martyrs of Jesus, riding 
on the scarlet beast, full of names of blasphemy, he recognised 
the scriptural prediction of the reign of the Pope." 

Spalatin continued to represent the duty and necessity of 
forbearance. But how hopeless were his efforts, the publica- 
tions of each successive month, or even week, most clearly 
demonstrated. Treatise followed treatise, " like sparks from 
the iron under the stroke of the hammer,'^ f each spark 
brighter than the preceding, and adding to the fiiry of the fire 
blazing on all sides. But before the appearance of this last 

* Magister palatii, was couverted by the Lutlieraus into Magirus 
palatii — palace-cook, 
t Eankc's Kef., trans, by Sarah Austin, I. p. 340. 


mentioned publication Rome had resolved npon^ or already 1520. 
taken, a decided step in the affair, as Luther was very well 
aware, by the rumours floating in all quarters, and by direct 
accounts from the papal city. It was reported that a physi- 
cian, well skilled in the art of poisoning by the most secret 
and inscrutable means, who had moreover the power of ren- 
dering himself invisible at pleasure, had been hired at a costly 
price by the Roman Curia to make short work with Luther. 
And to complete the tragedy, his advent at Wittenberg was 
fixed for All Saints' eve. But this is only one of the terrors 
which the popular apprehension conjured up. In the begin- 
ning of May tidings were received from Eck that he was 
almost certain of success in his enterprise; a minute of a 
bull against Luther had been roughly sketched ; at the next 
consistory it would be matured, and, if the Pontiff would be 
guided by him, every Cardinal and Bishop should subscribe 
it. But the pestilent heretic's doctrines had been very inade- 
quately appreciated at Rome before his arrival. Nor were 
Eck's statements, however deeply tinged with the personal 
braggadocio of such " an animalcule of vain-glory," as Luther 
termed him, incorrect as to facts. The utmost excitement of 
feeling prevailed at the Vatican; and Leo himself, against 
whom the Thomist party had long murmured in secret as not 
walking in the via regia of the Popes, but encouraging litera- 
ture to the detriment of theology, bowed to the fury of the 
angry spirits around him, or was carried away by a current 
too strong to be resisted. Cajetan, although labouring under 
severe indisposition, was conveyed to every consistory, and 
took an eager share in the proceedings. A difference of 
opinion was manifested between the jurists and the divines 
of the Curia : the former were for citing Luther again before 
pronouncing his excommunication. They argued, that be- 
fore the Almighty condemned Adam, he enquired, ''^Adam, 


1520. where art thou ? " So of Caiu, " Where is Abel thy bro- 
ther ? " And in the destruction of the cities of the plain, 
" I will go down now and see." * The latter would not 
brook delay. But this difference was arranged by a com- 
promise : Luther was pronounced excommunicated unless 
within sixty days he recanted his errors; and the famous 
bull of excommunication, caDing on God, on Peter, on Paul, 
on the Saints and the whole Church, to rise up against 
the new Porphyry,t and which condemned forty-one pro- 
positions extracted from his works, and consigned all his 
books to the flames, and declared the decrees of the Univer- 
sities of Louvain and Cologne most holy, was signed on the 
15th June.J 

Besides other intelligence, a letter from Valentin Deutleben, 
the Saxon representative at the Vatican, and also a letter 
from the Cardinal St. George to Frederic, both which were 
immediately transmitted to Luther, had prepared him for 
this event. Deutleben told his master that all his affairs 
were at a standstill, for he could not obtain a hearing on 
account of the protection afforded Luther. The Cardinal in 
strong terms urged Frederic to rigorous proceedings against 
his heretic monk. In reply to these letters, the Reformer 
requested his " most illustrious Prince " not to embroil him- 
self in his cause at all, but to keep aloof as heretofore ; only 
to refuse to be his judge or executioner, at least until proof 
had been afforded of his guilt. " Whatever I have done," 
Luther said, " I have done upon compulsion, and have always 
been ready to have peace, provided the truth of the Gospel 
were left free. This is all I ask, not a cardinal's hat, or gold, 
or any of those things which at Rome they prize, but the way 

* Polau. I. p. 9. 

t The Bull, with Hutten'a notes— Walch. XV. p. 1692, &c. 

J The seventeenth day before July 1. 


of salvation left open to Christians. I hope your illustrious 1520. 
Highness will frame such an answer as to make the Roman 
heads comprehend that Germany, not through her own, but 
through Italian rudeness, has been hitherto oppressed by the 
secret judgment of God." The Elector's reply stated, that he 
had hitherto kept the accused monk near him at the desire of 
Miltitz, to prevent his acting with greater freedom beyond 
the limits of Saxony ; that the challenge of Eck, and the con- 
stant attacks of his enemies, had precluded Dr. Martin from 
observing that silence which otherwise he had been most 
willing to maintain : and, moreover, that there were so many 
learned men in Germany, and so many students of the Bible 
even among the laity, that the mere authoritative sentence 
of the Church, without scriptural proof, would only occa- 
sion bitter offence, and give rise to horrible tumults. This 
was plain language for the Vatican : and from all quarters 
Luther^s encreasing danger elicited warmer demonstrations in 
his favour. The knight Taubenheim placed himself at his 
service. Sickengen, through the medium of Hutten, offered 
the refuge of his castle. The Eranconian knight Schaum- 
burg,* proffered his fortress and a hundred devoted swords. 
There were a multitude of free spirits to whom the vision of a 
war against the tiara was fraught with delight. 

With a grateful sense of the kindness extended to him, 
Luther determined nevertheless to remain at Wittenberg, and 
there await the explosion of the storm. He even resolved 
to anticipate its burst, and, with a spirit-stirring blast which 
should ring from one end of Germany to the other, to arouse 
his countrymen to a conviction of their duty and to summon 
especially the magistracy, the civil rulers, and the Emperor to 
the great work of reforming the Church. "The time for silence 

* See Seckend. I. p. 111. 


1520. is past, and the time to speak is come." The Appeal began 
with bemoaning the misery of Germany, and then passed to 
the promise of better times from the young noble blood just 
made the national head. The great work to be done, however, 
must be entered upon in the strength of God; for it was 
because he leaned on his own might that Frederic I. had been 
trampled under foot by the Pope ; the bloodthirsty Julius II. 
had been raised so high because France, Germany, and 
Venice trusted to themselves ; forty-two thousand of the 
Israelites fell by the children of Benjamin, because they ven- 
tured on battle in their own strength. The Papists had built 
up three walls against a Church Reformation ; the first, that 
temporal power had no right or jurisdiction over spiritual ; ^ 
the second, that none should read the Scriptures save the 
Pope ; the third, that none could summon a Council save the 
Pope. " Now help us God, and give us one of the trumpets 
whereby the walls of Jericho fell down, that we may blow 
around these walls of straw and paper and make them fall." 
He demolished the walls successively. Then he drew a 
picture of the ruined condition of Germany, her wealth sucked 
up by Rome; by indulgences, annates, commendams, and 
countless modes of extortion, all in the name of Christ and 
St. Peter ; so that the wonder was, not that princes, nobles, 
states, cathedrals, land and people were poor, but that they 
had ought remaining at all. AU went into the Roman sack, 
which had no bottom. Here was open robbery ; the fraud 

* The Papacy, Luther would say, has painted the Church as a great 
ship : in the forepart the Pope and Cardinals with the Holy Ghost ; 
the bishops, clergy, and monks aft, monks at the oars, all bound 
straight for heaven. But not a single layman is in the ship ; all of 
them, kings and nobles, are in the water : many sink, but some swim 
to the ship and cling to it, others lay hold of ropes thrown out from the 
ship, and so arc saved. Sec the Engraving, Centifol. Luther, p. 256. 


and tyranny of the gates of hell ; destruction of soul and 1520. 
body ; the groans and spoils of Christendom. Talk of war 
against the Turk : the Roman Turk was the fellest Turk in the 
world. Talk of hanging thieves and decapitating robbers: 
Roman avarice was the greatest thief and robber that had ever 
bestrode the earth. All too in the name of God ! The 
remedies to be sought against such evils from the temporal 
power were that each prince^ noble, or state, should forbid 
their subjects giving annates to Rome; that the Christian 
nobility should resist the Pope as the foe and perdition of 
Christendom, and throw his bann, seal, and briefs into the 
Rhine or the nearest stream ; that an imperial decree should 
be issued prohibiting archbishops and bishops from receiving 
their dignities from Rome ; that all causes should be tried by 
the civil power ; that the oath taken by bishops to the Pope 
should be abolished ; that the Emperor should no longer kiss 
the Pope^s toe or hold his stirrup ; that the Pope should leave 
princes and lords to govern, and, renouncing his temporal 
sovereignty, should preach and pray ; that pilgrimages to Rome 
should cease ; that the clergy should have their lawful wives ; 
that man^s ordinances should be done away with and God's 
ordinances be restored. " Hearest thou, O Pope, not all-holy 
but all-sinful? Who gave thee power to lift thyself above 
God and break his laws ? The wicked Satan lies through thy 
throat. O my Lord Christ, hasten thy last day and destroy 
the deviPs nest at Rome. There sits the man of sin, of 
whom Paul speaks, the son of perdition ! What is Popery 
but leading souls to hell under thy name ? " This appeal to 
secular Germany against the Papacy was commenced in June, 
and published early in the August ensuing. Before the 18th 
August, four thousand copies had been sold in that illiterate 
age. Before the end of August a new edition was in print, 
and was speedily caught up by persons of every rank and class. 


1520. The storm was coming on apace ; but through the black- 
ness of its columns the form of Dr. Eck, as its guiding 
genius, could be distinctly seen. Every one exclaimed, " It is 
Eck^s Bull." Its prolixity, obscurity of wording, and forensic 
style, were sharply criticised.^ And certainly, if the policy 
of Rome had before been short-sighted, it was now nothing 
less than infatuated. There were no two more unpopular 
men than Aleander, the creature, so it was affirmed, of Alex- 
ander VI., the secretary of the infamous Caesar Borgia, and 
subsequently engaged in the service of Leo X ;t and Eck, the 
baffled antagonist of Luther. Yet it was to these heads of the 
ultra- Romanist faction, and neither of whom, to countervail 
other disadvantages, possessed any weight of moral character, 
that Rome assigned the task of conveying the bull to Ger- 
many, and providing for its publication and execution. Some 
Wittenberg wags immediately attacked the salient points in 
Aleander's reputed history. " It cannot be denied," they 
told the public, " but he is a clever linguist ; Hebrew is his 
vernacular ; whether he was ever baptized is dubious ; but it 
is clear he is no Pharisee, for he does not believe in the resur- 
rection of the dead, but lives as if body and soul would perish 
together. In arrogance, avarice, and lust, he is insatiate ; and 
has found his pretended conversion to Christianity a very lucky 
speculation." In the case of Eck the popular indignation 
was still deeper, on account of the personal spleen and malice 
displayed in his condiict. On the other side, a persecution 

* "Quasi de causa feudal! ferenda esset sententia," says Father 
Paul ; and he observes that one of the sentences contained four hundred 
words at the least. — Histor. I. p. ] 1. 

t The real cause of Aleander's appointment was, that, before he en- 
tered the service of Leo, he had been in the service of the Bishop of 
Liege, an Austrian partisan, afterwards named a cardinal to please 


conducted in such a way raised Luther in public regard higher 1520. 
than he had ever stood before^ and made him the rallying 
point of all that was free, generous, and patriotic, as well as 
enlightened and Christian in Germany. 

The brother nuncios had each a separate sphere of opera- 
tions marked out for him. Aleander descended the Rhine, 
burnt Luther's writings with exultation at Mentz, and directed 
his course to Louvain ; and the very day that the Emperor, 
whose coronation at Aix-la-ChapeUe was shortly to take place, 
quitted the town, he had some of Luther's books burnt in the 
market-place, to make believe, the Lutherans averred, that the 
Emperor had ordered it. Eck, elate with his official dignity, 
was advancing from the more southern districts of Germany 
towards "Wittenberg itself, to menace, and, if possible, to 
drive the lion from his den. In the course of September * he 
had copies of the bull affixed in public in Meissen, Merse- 
burg, and Brandenburg. As the bull was aimed not only at 
Luther, but at his adherents also, the singular privilege had 
been conferred upon Eck of annexing to the Reformer's name, 
the names of any of his allies whom it might be particularly 
desirable to reduce to conformity ; and he took advantage of 
this indiscreet indulgence to gratify his private pique. He 
inserted in the bull the names of six persons, all held in high 
respect by the public, Adelmann of Adelmannsfeld, his 
brother canon, with whom he had once all but come to 
blows in the heat of controversy ; Spengler and Pirkheimer of 
Nuremberg, whose satirical effusions were not to pass un- 
punished; Carlstadt and Feldkirchen of Wittenberg; and 

* The September of this year is remarkable for Melancthon's marriage 
with Catherine Crappin, the daughter of a Wittenberg burgher, by the 
advice of his friends. The scholar spoke of his wife as "a temporal 
chastisement for his sins, but a mild and paternal one." Luther, it was 
thought, made up the match. 


1520. Egranus^ the preacher of Zwichau^ who had called the veracity 
of the legend of St. Anne into question. This crowning act of 
insolence and malice made the cup of popular indignation run 
over, and served to fill up Avhatever might be wanting, to the 
entire discredit of the bull. Yet, with such despotic autho- 
rity was Eck armed, that out of the six persons whom 
he had singled from the crowd of heretics in alliance with 
Luther for special condemnation, the three who did not live 
under the protection of the Elector of Saxony were forced to 
yield and declare their submission to the Holy See. 

But Wittenberg was unassailable. The University was 
exempt from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Brandenburg, 
and the Elector of Saxony was a tower of strength against the 
papal artillery. And it was of no little moment that the 
centre of the reforming movement was thus secure. But even 
elsewhere, in the ferment of popular indignation, which was 
shared not only by such ecclesiastics as the Bishops of Wurz- 
burg and of Breslaw, but by many others, indeed the majority 
of the hierarchy, who felt the appointment of a man of no 
high station in the church, like Eck, to an exalted office, as an 
affront to themselves, the way was by no means so smooth for 
the overthrow of Luther's doctrines as Rome could have 
wished. In some dioceses the demand of the Nuncio for the 
publication of the bull was rejected ; in others compliance 
was long postponed. Eck himself entered Leipsic in a tri- 
umphal mood, and boasted over his wine that he should soon 
bring back Friar Martin to his senses. But besides the " ox," 
the "he-goat,'* and the 'Svild ass," (or Ochsenfort, Emser, 
and Alveld,) and Duke George, and the Bishop of Merseburg, 
he found few supporters ; in fact, within less than a year, a 
thorough revulsion of feeling had taken place; jeers and gibes 
assailed him in the streets ; pasquinades met his eye on every 
wall, and he feared for his personal safety in a town which 


had SO recently exhibited the most noisy proofs of admiration 1520. 
for his talents, and he repaired from the general scorn to the 
cloisters of St. PauFs, which had before screened the humilia- 
tion of Tetzel. Even here he was still annoyed by tlu'eaten- 
ing letters ; and so, after forwarding the bull, together with a 
letter to the University of Wittenberg on the 3rd October, he 
fled by night to Friburg,* and thence to Coburg. But not 
only had Leipsic become Lutheran : at Erfurth, the students 
literally obeyed Luther's directions in his great "Appeal,"' 
seized the copy of the bull, tore it to pieces, and threw 
the fragments into the Elbe, exclaiming, " It is a bubble 
(bulla), let it swim." And so all-pervading was the feeling 
of hostiHty to Rome, that even in the Low Countries, under the 
very eye of the Emperor himself, the indications of the popu- 
lar antipapal spirit could not be suppressed. At Antwerp, it 
was attempted to burn Luther's writings, but in vain. Every- 
where, whatever had before remained unalienated from the 
Papacy, seemed now estranged from it ; and the bull, which 
was intended to extinguish the Reformation for ever, gave it 
new life, and may be regarded as the turning act in the 
struggle which decided its success. 

The most important question was — What part will the Em- 
peror take in the religious warfare, which, having embroiled 
the states of the empire, threatened to invade his hereditary 
dominions? Luther had appealed from the Church to the 
State, from the priesthood to the laity : and Rome, in her 
turn, was about to invoke the temporal arm in aid of spiritual 
weapons whose use had outlived their efficacy. The yomig 
Emperor had sailed from Corunna on the 22nd May : on the 
26th he had landed at Dover, and prepossessed the heart of 
Henry of England and his ambitious favourite Wolsey in his 

* Walch. XV. p. 1873. 


1520. favour ; and from the time of his landing in the Netherlands 
he had been busied with multifarious negociations, and with 
making preparations for the war with France, which was in- 
evitably soon to break out. The 23rd October had been fixed 
as the day for his coronation at Aix-la-Chapelle. Princes, 
nobles, and knights, the representatives of secular power, and 
the papal legate Caraccioli, and the commissioner Aleander, 
might be seen approaching from different sides the ancient 
city of Charlemagne. And on the appointed day, amongst a 
constellation of German magnificence, more solemn and gor- 
geous than had previously met on any similar occasion, the 
crown of the empire was placed on the brows of the young 
Prince, whose reign was destined to mark indelible traces on 
the future history of the world. 

The ceremony was no sooner over than Charles, accom- 
panied by the Elector of Saxony and the other Princes, re- 
treated before the plague from Aix-la-Chapelle, and took 
refuge at Cologne, where he held his court. Marino Carac- 
cioli and Hieronymus Aleander followed him thither, and 
pressed the immediate exercise of the imperial authority in 
giving effect to the papal condemnation of heresy. In some 
points Charles showed no disinclination to uphold the power 
of the Church, and consented to the conflagration of Luther's 
writings throughout his own dominions, which was accord- 
ingly promptly commenced, and carried through with great 
vigour by the clergy and monks. But when this did not 
satisfy the envoys, but the demand was made that the author 
should be led to the stake, the Emperor drew back. " We 
must consult," he said, " the Princes of the empire, and espe- 
cially our father', the Elector of Saxony, before we can strike 
such a blow against a sect so numerous and powerful." 

All appeared to turn once more on the decision of Frederic. 
The Pope had accompanied the enclosure of the bull by a 


letter dated the 8th July, in which he thanked the Elector 1520. 
that he had " always abhorred the attempts of that son of 
iniquity, Martin Luther, and had never aided nor favoured 
him," and then stated that, with the counsel of his venerable 
brethren, and of men learned in the canons and divine Scrip- 
ture, " under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which in cases 
of such a nature has never been absent from the Holy See, 
we have framed a decree, inscribed in apostolic letters, and 
decorated with the leaden bulla, in which, from amongst the 
almost innumerable errors of this man, we have condemned 
some as plainly heretical, others as likely to relax in the 
minds of the simple the bonds of obedience, continence, and 
humility/' And his Holiness requested Frederic first to ex- 
hort Friar Martin to a recantation ; but, if he proved obstinate, 
on the expiry of the allotted time to seize and send him to 
Rome, "whereby he would repel no slight stain from his 
own, his family's, and the national honour." Such a letter 
was added, in the Elector's mind, to the indignities which he 
enumerated as already sustained from Rome, the treatment 
of Luther by Cajetan, the reference of the controversy, as 
arranged by Miltitz, to an enlightened judge effectually stulti- 
fied, and the ready credence given at the papal court to a dis- 
appointed braggart like Eck. His own high sense of the 
obligations of truth and integrity made the Elector of Saxony 
feel more poignantly the unworthy conduct of the Papacy. 

On the Sunday after All Saints' day Frederic was engaged Nov. 3. 
in divine service in the convent of the Cordeliers before the 
hour of noon, and the mass had just begun, when he was 
accosted by Carraccioli and Aleander. The former placed in 
his hands the bull ; and, from the praises of the Elector and 
his house, diverged to the benignity of the Pontiff, in transfer- 
ring the empire from the Greeks to the Germans : but at this 
point Aleander pushed himself forwards, and with the vchc- 

VOL. I. N 


1520. mcnce of his character, designating Luther as a heretic worse 
than Huss or Jerome, demanded, first, that the Elector would 
command that Luther's writings should be burnt ; and, se- 
condly, would apprehend Luther, and either keep him captive 
or send him to Home. '' The Emperor and all the other 
Princes,'' said he, " assent to the Pontiff's demand ; you are 
the only obstacle.'' Frederic answered by the mouth of the 
Bishop of Trent, that on such a momentous subject he must 
be allowed time for reflection, but would signify his pleasure 
as soon as he conveniently could. 

The next day * Carraccioli and Aleander presented them- 
selves in the convent of the Cordeliers in the afternoon, to 
receive the Elector's answer. Frederic replied by the Bishop 
of Trent as before. He stated, that in his unavoidable ab- 
sence to attend the coronation of the Emperor, Dr. Eck, of 
his own caprice, had added in his published bull to the name 
of Luther the names of several others, whom he had thus 
wantonly exposed to extreme peril; that such conduct was 
inconsistent with the duties of a Nuncio; and what lively 
gratitude it must inspire in his own breast, might easily be 
imagined. He had never made common cause with Luther. 
He had refrained from banishing him from his University at 
the express request of Miltitz. But how had it come to pass, 
that although Luther had always been willing, under sufficient 
security, to appear before the Archbishop of Treves, such an 
arrangement had been superseded ? Luther would never have 
written as he had done, unless he had been provoked thereto 
l)y the attacks of embittered rivals, as calumnious as they 
were imj)ious. It had never been proved that Luther's writ- 
ings were deserving of the flames : and it would be most 
unjust to burn them before he had been heard in his defence, 

* Quarfa feria post omnium Sanctorum. 


and convicted of error. And he requested, therefore, that the 1520. 
present course of procedure might be abandoned, and the 
cause committed to just, learned, pious, and unsuspected 
judges, and the public faith and a safe-conduct be granted 
Luther to appear before them in a convenient place. And 
then if Luther should be convicted of error by arguments, 
learned reasons, pious and solid scriptural proofs, he (the 
Elector) would act as would become a Christian and an 
obedient son of the Church. 

The Nuncios, after hearing this answer read to them, with- 
drew for a while and then returned to resume their suit with 
unabated importunity. Carraccioli spoke of the many endea- 
vours of the Pontiff to recall Luther to a sense of duty, and 
affirmed that Luther had not kept the promise which he had 
made : and here again Aieander took up the thread of the 
argument, and urged that the commission to the Archbishop 
of Treves had of course been extinguished by the Pope re- 
moving the cause to his own tribunal ; that the Pope alone 
could determine a question of faith, and that he and his col- 
league had no alternative but as the bull prescribed to hunt 
out and burn Martin Luther's books ; as for his person the 
Pontiff did not desire " to make his hands fat with his blood.^' * 
It was growing late in the day, and the remonstrances of the 
Nuncios were neither exhausted nor seemed likely to become 
so, when Frederic, on the plea of his presence being required 
elsewhere, broke up the audience. 

The very next day the Elector of Saxony received in his 
apartments, by special invitation, the world-famed scholar of 
Rotterdam. As the prince of literature Erasmus was disposed 
to think favourably of Luther in the proportion in which the 

* Nolit mauus suas (ut Aleandri verbis iitannur) ejus sanguine 

N 2 


1520. monks reviled him ; and at Louvaiu he had been singled out 
for more pointed censure than Luther himself in the oration 
of Edmuudanus one of the Professors. He had hardly en- 
tered the room before the Elector in his straightforward way 
enquired his opinion of Luther. The scholar looked surprised, 
knit his brow, bit his lips, and was seeking time for delibera- 
tion before he committed himself by a definite answer. The 
Elector fixed his eyes on him, with the peculiar expression 
which they were accustomed to wear when he was determined 
to ascertain the real sentiments of the person he interrogated. 
" Luther,^' said Erasmus, " has struck the Pope on the crown, 
the monks on their belly.'' And from this introduction he 
proceeded to enlarge upon the facts of the controversy. 
Spalatin accompained him on his departure to his lodging, 
and prevailed on him to enter in writing the various topics on 
which he had touched in his conversation with the Elector. 
This paper is extant under the title of " The Axioms of Eras- 
mus,"^ and is a curious and instructive document in connexion 
with the great religious revolution. The fountain of the per- 
secution it stated to be the hatred of literature, and the ambi- 
tion of domination ; the mode of persecution, the true stream 
from such a source, clamours, conspiracies, animosities, and 
virulent writings. The leaders of the persecution were all 
persons of suspected character ; and everywhere the best men 
and the most imbued with the evangelical doctrine were the 
most favourably inclined to Luther. The good-nature of Leo 
must have been abused, for the bull was unworthy the gentle 
Vicar of Christ. Two Universities only had condemned Luther, 
and they had condemned without convicting him of error, and 
their judgments were marked by disagreements. Luther had 
done the utmost that could reasonably be expected, in offering 

* See L. Lat Op. Jt-xm. 


to defend his opinions in public disputation or to submit them 1520. 
to impartial umpires. The arguments of those who had 
written against Luther had been disapproved even by his op- 
ponents. The world was athirst for truths and seemed im- 
pelled towards it by a preternatural force^ which it must be 
wickedness to resist. Spalatin bade adieu to the scholar^ and 
returned to his master, delighted to have the precious docu- 
ment in his possession^ which in fact the timid Erasmus had 
scarcely given out of his own hands, before he manifested an 
anxiety to recall it. The inteiest however which Erasmus 
professed in Luther's behalf was real; and he exerted the 
influence which he conceived that he possessed with the 
Nuncios, (and he had been intimate with Aleander in the 
house of Aldus Manutius, the printer of Venice,) with more 
energy than was usual with him to procure a reconsideration 
of the question with a view to its adjustment by arbiters : and 
probably his vanity cajoled him into imagining that he should 
be selected as the fittest person, from his moderate opinions, 
to strike a balance between conflicting extremes of religious 

All this while, the leader of the Reform movement at Wit- 
tenberg, instead of cowering from fear, roused, if possible, to 
more activity and boldness by his own peril, and the critical 
state of the struggle was heaping fresh faggots on the fire 
which was to consume to ashes the tyrannical pretensions of 
Rome. Yet, with all his enthusiasm in the cause, he acted 
prudently. " Dr. Eck," he exclaimed, " has come into Ger- 
many with a long beard, a long purse, and a long bull ; but 
I laugh at his bull, or rather, his bombast. I must see the 
seals, handle the strings, and examine the signature, or else 
all the noise which it has made will not affect me a straw." 
He asserted that the bull was not the Pontiff" 's, but had ema- 


1520. nated from the papal inquisitors of Louvain,* the ground tvork 
Hochstraten's^ and the finish Eck's. In his private corres- 
pondence^ however, he owned that he had no doubt but the 
bull was genuine. "Eck had been the Pope's Paraclete." 
And whilst it suited his purpose to question its authenticity, 
his answer to it was in course of preparation. He did not re- 
ceive certain intelligence of its publication until the 3rd 
October ; and on the 6th he published his " Babylonian Cap- 
tivity of the Church/' the exposition of his doctrinal senti- 
ments, as the " Appeal to the Christian Nobility " had been 
the exposition of his views on the relation of the Church to 
the State. But he still wrote as if he questioned the real 
pontifical origin of the bull. 

Two years before, he said, he had disputed and written on 
the subject of indulgences; and, from a superstitious rever- 
ence for the Roman tyranny, had afiirmed that they were not 
utterly to be rejected; but now, he would entreat readers and 
booksellers to burn his treatises, and, in place of all he had 
advanced on the subject, to take this single proposition — " In- 
dulgences are a wicked fiction of papal flatterers.'"' Next, in 
argument with Eck, he had denied the divine, but conceded the 
human right of the Papacy ; and he would therefore request 
that all his books on this topic also might be burnt to ashes, 
and this proposition be substituted for all he had said — "The 
Papacy is a vigorous hunt, led by the Roman Bishop." He 
next animadverted upon the contradictory and senseless abuse 
heaped upon him for expressing his hope that the Church 
would ordain the administration of the Lord's Supper in both 
kinds : and thence he proceeded to treat of the Sacraments, 
He could not any longer acknowledge seven, but only three, 

* Bullam illam terrificam Lovanii natam. Acta Acad. Lovan. Lat. 
Op. Jenae, I. p. 464. 


viz.j baptism, penance, and bread, in reference to each of 1520. 
which the Roman Consistory had put Christendom under the 
yoke of bondage, and despoiled the Church of her rightful 
liberty. Or more properly, in the language of Scripture, 
there was but one Sacrament, and three Sacramental signs. 

He first treated on the Lord's Supper, and would not 
allow that the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel had any re- 
ference to it ; it spoke only of spiritually eating and drinking, 
that is, by faith, " which alone gives life." It was therefore 
unfairly appealed to by the Bohemians in advocating the ad- 
ministration in both kinds. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, how- 
ever, expressly stated that Christ delivered ^the whole Sacra- 
ment to his disciples ; and it was certain that St. Paul 
administered it in both kinds. Our Lord's words in Matthew 
were not. Eat ye all of it, but " Drink ye all of it/^ and the 
narrative of Mark was not, They all ate of it, but "They all 
drank of it." As for the argument, that the Apostles were 
presbyters — and such words, therefore, only applied to pres- 
byters — if such an argument were valid for refusing the cup 
to the laity, it must be equally valid for refusing the bread 
to the laity. The words of Christ, " This is my blood which 
is shed for you and for many," included in the " many " all 
for whom his blood was shed, whether priests or laity. And 
the Church had no more right to divide the Sacrament of the 
altar, than to divide baptism or penance. This was the first 
article in which Rome had introduced Babylonian bondage. 

The second captivity of the Church was the doctrine of 
transubstantiation, which had never been heard of for twelve 
hundred years, but was now insisted on by the Thomist Aris- 
totclic Roman Church as a point of faith, although, in apply- 
ing to this subject Aristotle's doctrine of substance and acci- 
dents, Aquinas had been altogether ignorant what Aristotle's 
doctrine really is. The Scripture called the sacred elements 


1520. after consecration bread and wine, and therefore, of course, 
they must remain bread and wine. And why shoukl not the 
body of Jesus Christ be contained in the substance as well as 
in the accidents of bread and wine? The words of Christ, 
" This is my body," were enough : Christians should simply 
cling to the Saviour's words, exploding the idle curiosity which 
would investigate the mode of divine operation. The third 
captivity, and the most impious of all, consisted in the mass 
being regarded as a good work and a sacrifice, an abuse which 
had difi'used an infinite deluge of other abuses, until a divine 
sacrament had been degraded to a matter of marketing, 
huckstering, and vile bargaining. The Lord's Supper he de- 
fined to be " a promise of the forgiveness of sins given by 
God, and sealed in the blood of God the Son.'' As a promise 
no works, nor strength, nor merits were required to approach 
it, but only faith. On the one side was the word of God pro- 
mising, on the other the faith of man accepting. And the 
sign or memorial of so great a promise were the body and 
blood of Christ contained in the bread and wine. 

He then turned to baptism. " Blessed," he said, "be God, 
who in his abundant mercy has preserved at least this one sacra- 
ment in his Church uncontaminated by human constitutions, 
and free to all nations and all ranks." Baptism being adminis- 
tered to infants incapable of avarice and superstition, its virtue 
and glory had been preserved from the defilement of that over- 
reaching ecclesiastical tyranny, which otherwise woidd have 
been sure to invent " preparations'^ and meetnesses, reserva- 
tions and restrictions, nets to catch money, so that water 
would be sold as dear as parchment." But although Satan had 
])een unable to extinguish the virtue of baptism in infants, he 

* " Preparaliones et dignitates deinde reservationes restrictiones, et 
si qua sunt similia retia pecuniarum ; quibus aqua non vilior quam 
nunc membrante venderentur." 


had extinguished it in adults, for there was scarce one who 1520. 
remembered his baptism, much less gloried in it ; which had 
occasioned that dangerous saying of Jerome, " They trust to 
repentance, their second raft after shipwreck," whereas " bap- 
tism is repentance.'^ The baptized person must believe with- 
out a doubt that by baptism he is really saved, according to 
the Saviour's words, "He that believeth and is baptized shall 
be saved.'^ The force of baptism was not destroyed by sin, 
but it ever remained one unbroken vessel, never split into 
planks, in which all sailed who should reach the wished-for 
haven. The baptismal formula, "In the name of the Father," 
&c., marked that the rite was administered not by man, 
but through man as the instrument, by the blessed Trinity. 
The sacramental sign was immersion in water; but there 
was no occult virtue in the word or in the water; faith in the 
divine promise was the submersion of the old man and the 
resurrection of the new ; and this faith was so essential that 
even without the sacrament it would avail to salvation, and 
only "he who believeth not shall be damned." This true 
science of baptism had been reduced under bondage by the 
Pope, who was worse than the Turk. 

The sacrament of penance, like the two preceding, con- 
sisted of a sign, the word of the divine promise on the one part, 
and faith on our part. The promise was, "Whatsoever ye 
shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, &c. — whosesoever 
sins ye remit they are remitted." But as he had spoken on 
this subject before, a few words would suffice now. The 
Papacy had magnified contrition beyond faith, nay, had extin- 
guished faith altogether, whereas in truth contrition and con- 
solation flowed out of faith. Truly " by the waters of Babylon 
we sat down and wept when we remembered thee, O Zion ; 
as for our harps we hanged them up upon the willows that 
were there by." IMight the Lord curse those barren willows ! 


1520. Amen. Confession and satisfaction had been made famous 
workshops for lucre and power to the Roman Babylon. He 
did not wish to do away with confession ; but the true office 
of a priest was to preach the Gospel and take care of the poor, 
not to hear confessions. Any Christian might confess to 
another Christian. The injunction, "Tell it unto the Church/' 
did not mean tell it to a prelate or to a priest. The true 
satisfaction was not whippings with scourges, vigils, and fast- 
ings, but the faith of the contrite heart and an amended life. 
The insatiable Roman leech cried, " Bring money, bring 
money, and I will sell you sin.'' Thus the Princes of Babylon 
and Bishops of Bethaven, Jeroboam's priests of Dan and 
Beersheba, who waited on the worship of the golden calf, had 
reduced the sacrament of penance under a woeful captivity. 

Confirmation, matrimony, orders, and extreme unction could 
not be ranked as sacraments, because there was no word of 
divine promise on which faith could rely. In regard to ordi- 
nation a priest differed from a layman in nothing except the 
functions of ministry; the character indelibills was a mere 
figment; and he rejoiced that by the demolition of this fig- 
ment the Papacy itself, with its characters, would fall, and 
"joyous liberty" return, whereby all Christians would recog- 
nise their equality, that " he who is a Christian has Christ, 
and he who has Christ has all things appertaining to Christ." 
As to extreme unction, he enquired, " why extreme ? " Why 
should that be special which the Apostle makes general? 
Why only to the dying, when the words of St. James are, 
" If any be sick among you let him call for the elders of the 
Church ? " &c.* St. James stated that the prayer and the 

* James v. 14, 15. Luther, however, states, in his " Babylonian 
Captivity," that he questions the canonicity of the Epistle ascribed to 
James. This was on account of its apparent contradiction to the other 
Scriptures on the doctrine of faith. It seems also that in the editions 


oil would be blest to the sick man^s recovery ; what then could 1520. 
be the meaning of extreme unction ? Alas ! scarcely one 
priestling * now attended at the sick man^s bed, not to anoint 
the sick, Ijut to offer prayer ; for anointing the sick was only 
efficacious in the apostolic age, and was now merely to be 
ranked with such rites as the consecrating and sprinkling of 
salt and water. He concluded by saying that he had heard 
from others who had heard it,t that bulls and Papist curses 
were prepared against him to compel him to revoke or declare 
him a heretic. If there were any truth in such reports he 
could wish this treatise to be a portion of his recantation, and 
the remainder, such as hitherto Rome had not seen or heard, 
should follow speedily. 

If, in the " Appeal," Luther had sounded a trumpet-blast 
for war, in the "Babylonian Captivity" he unfurled his 
standard. But whilst the chasm between Rome and Witten- 
berg, the Papacy and Luther, was thus daily widening, it 
must not be supposed that Miltitz had relaxed in his efforts 
for reconciliation. On the 11th October, in the preceding 
year, he had had an interview with Luther at Liebenwerd, 
and found him still willing to appear before the Archbishop 
of Treves, under a safe-conduct, and with the Elector's con- 
sent, at which he had expressed his extreme joy. In the 
December following he had been favoured with an audience 
by Frederic at Torgau; but the displeasure of the Elector 
with the behaviour of the Roman Court, and his unwilling- 

prior to 1525, tlie assertion occurs, that in comparison with the Epistles 
of Paul and Peter, it was a strawy (straminea) work. But see Bayle's 
Dictionary, III. p. 2065 (the 4 vols., folio edition, in English). Sub- 
sequently, he saw that there was no real contradiction, and accepted it 
as part of Scripture. 

* Vix unus sacerdotulus. 

t Auditum enim audio. 


1520. ness to permit Luther to undertake a journey to Treves, until 
there was more reason to hope the sincerity of the Vatican, 
and a mandate had been issued to the Archbishop, had 
afforded little encouragement to his zeal. But even the 
events of the ensuing spring, the letters from Rome, finally 
the signing the bull, which had convinced every unprejudiced 
mind that the time for mediation was gone by, had not 
deterred Miltitz from a fresh effort. A Chapter of the 
Augustines had been held at Eisleben in the beginning of 
September; when Staupitz, timid and anxious at Brother 
Martin's difficulties, revisiting Saxony after a long absence, 
resigned into the hands of his order his Vicar- Generalship, 
M'hich was conferred on John Lange. In the midst of the 
assembled fraternity Miltitz made his appearance, and in 
German, marked with a strong Italian accent, implored them 
to use their influence to restrain Luther, and induce him to 
address a letter to the Pontiff in refutation of the calumny 
that he had ever assailed his sacred person — " If he would do 
this, all would yet be well." Accordingly Staupitz and Lange 
waited upon the Reformer, and solicited him to write the re- 
quired letter. But Luther postponed writing it until after an 
interview with Miltitz himself at Lichtenberg on the 13th 
October. There was some little difficulty in the previous 
publication of " The Babylonian Captivity," so he dated back 
the letter to the 6th September. 

It was laid to his charge, he said in this letter, that he 
had not even spared in his raslmess the person of the Pontiff : 
but the accusation was entirely false, for he had always used 
the most honourable and reverential terms in treating of his 
Holiness. He had defended his innocence against a calum- 
niator like Sylvester ; he had called him Daniel in Babylon ; 
and prayed for his salvation. But Leo himself could not 
deny that the Roman Consistory exceeded Babylon or Sodom 


in corruption ; and it grieved hira to the heart to contemplate 1520. 
the Roman Church, once the glory of all Churches, now a 
den of robbers, a shameless brothel, a kingdom of sin, death, 
and hell, so that were Antichrist present, no conceivable addi- 
tion could be made to its abominations. And if Leo, " a 
lamb amidst wolves, Daniel among the lions, Ezekiel among 
the scorpions," and three or four cardinals with him, should 
try to reform such flagrant iniquities, they would all be cut 
off by poison. Would that Leo would renounce his glory, 
and become a private priest, or live on his paternal lands, and 
leave to Iscariots that dignity which they alone were worthy 
of. The Church, once the gate of heaven, had become the gulf 
of hell : and, in one word, to be a Christian was to be not a 
Roman. He had given a bill of divorce to the Roman Con- 
sistory, and addressed her in the words, " He that is unjust, 
let him be unjust still," &c. : but Satan had opened his eyes, 
and stirred up his minion, John Eck, a noted adversary of 
Christ, to attack him about one little word which he had let 
fall on the primacy of Rome. Under the pretence of esta- 
blishing Rome's primacy, Eck had aimed to establish his own 
primacy among theologians ; and when his expectation failed, 
had been driven mad with rage. For his own part he had 
never been opposed to peace. Cardinal St. Sixti, had he 
been content Avith exacting silence only, might have settled 
the dispute with a word. Miltitz, with all his assiduity, had 
only been able to have one or two conferences with him, and 
had always found him ready to keep silence. He had agreed 
to accept as judge either the Archbishop of Treves or the 
Bishop of Naumburg. But Eck must rush in and confuse 
evei-ything. He concluded with exhorting Leo not to credit 
the flatterers who told him he had any power whatever over 
heaven, hell, or purgatory. What a dissimilarity between 
Jesus Christ and his Mcar ! too trulv Christ's Vicar, for 


1520. " the Vicar has place where the King is absent.'^ And Christ 
being absent, the Church was a congregation without Christ. 
What was such a Vicar but really Antichrist ? This might be 
deemed impudence, but it was after the example of St. Ber- 
nard, whose book, addressed to Eugenius, every Pope ought to 
have by heart. Not to approach his Holiness empty-handed, 
he offered him his little tract on Christian Liberty, which he 
enclosed, a pledge of peace, and a sample of those studies in 
which he had much rather spend his time than in contention. 
In writing this letter Luther acted as he ever had done, 
putting no obstacle in the way of peace, but not the less 
steadily pursuing the line of freedom and truth. It soon 
became impossible to pretend ignorance that the bull which 
had been published, and was the topic in every mouth, and by 
all allowed to be genuine, was the true offspring of the Roman 
Curia. Luther therefore ceased to dissemble, and adopting 
the precaution, which his position, the ideas of the time, and 
his past history suggested, renewed his appeal in the most 
solemn form from Leo X. to a future Council. On Saturday the 
17th November,"^ at ten o'clock in the morning, in the Augus- 
tine Convent, and in the presence of "many venerable witnesses 
of various dioceses," amongst them Caspar Cruciger, he read 
his appeal from a schedule in his hand, and the notary took 
down his words as he spoke. " I appeal,'^ he said, " from 
Leo X., first, as an unjust, rash, and tyrannical judge, because 
he passes judgment on me merely by his own power without the 
statement of causes or of information. Secondly, as in error, 
and obstinate in error, a heretic and apostate condemned by 
Holy Writ, who would have me deny that faith is necessary 
to the validity of the Sacraments. Thirdly, as an enemy, 

* Die Saturni 17 Mensis Novembris, &c. See Lat. Op. Jense, II. 
p. 315. 


adversary^ and Antichrist, an oppressor of the whole of sacred 1520. 
Scripture, in that he sets his naked words against the words 
of divine Scripture. Fourthly, as a blasphemous, proud con- 
temner of the Holy Church of God, and of a legitimate coun- 
cil, becaiise he presumptuously and falsely declares that a 
council is nothing in the nature of things.^' In proof of the 
truth of these assertions, he professed his readiness to appear 
at a given time and place against any who should contradict 
them. And he called upon " the Emperor, the Electors' 
Princes, Barons, Nobles, Senators, and the entire Christian 
Magistracy of Germany, for the redemption of Catholic truth, 
for the faith and Church of Christ, for the liberty and right of 
a lawful council, to stand by him and his appeal, to resist the 
impious tyranny of the Pope, or at least to remain quiet, and 
defer the execution of the bull, until he had been legally sum- 
moned, and heard by impartial judges, and convicted from 
Scripture and worthy documents." 

His words, very little less rapid than his thoughts, Luther, 
on the 4th November followed up his " Appeal " by a tract 
against "the execrable bull of Antichrist. '' The bull, he 
complained, had gone out over almost the whole earth, before 
it had reached him, the object of its fury. It had so feared 
the light of his face, that it was only with great difficulty, by 
the aid of friends, he had at last been enabled to see the bat 
in its true shape. It was the undoubted progeny of that 
monster of iniquity, John Eck, a man huddled up and sewn 
together from lies, hypocrisies, errors, and heresies : an 
apostle worthy of the apostleship assigned him. He had at 
one time heard that the saliva of the bull was so displeasing 
to all men of learning, that it had been postponed, nay, sup- 
pressed. And he could not believe that Leo and the learned 
among the cardinals could be the real authors of such mad- 
ness, not out of any respect for Rome, but lest he should be 


1520. puffed up with pride^ and imagine himself worthy of such 
glorious opprobrium for the truth. With the confidence of 
his whole soul he embraced the articles condemned in the 
bull, and pronounced that all Christians under penalty of 
eternal damnation must embrace them ; and he declared, that 
whoever agreed with the bull was Antichrist, and together 
with all those who knew and loved Jesus Christ, he should 
account all such as heathens, and avoid them. Amen. " This 
was his recantation in answer to the bull." He proceeds to 
expose the unprecedented and absurd character of the bull. 
The Apostles, he said, in their councils had always adduced 
Scripture : but the bull advanced no argument of any sort, 
but its mere ipse dixit. What fool, what ass, what mole, 
what stock could not condemn after such a fashion vrith a 
simple no7i'2)lacet ! The bull, moreover, condemned some 
articles as heretical, others as only erroneous, without defining 
which were which ; which was as good as to say, " We don't 
exactly know which are heretical and which are only erro- 
neous." The bull, too, decided that those of his writings in 
which there was no error should nevertheless be all burnt. 
The infernal dragon yelled in that bull. It was a common 
saying, " The ass would bray better if he did not begin too 
high ; " and that bull would have brayed better if it had not 
lifted its blasphemous mouth to heaven with more than dia- 
bolical impiety to condemn proved and acknowledged truth. 
" Where are you, most noble Charles our emperor ? Where 
are you. Christian kings and princes ? You have been bap- 
tized into Christ. Can you endure to hear the tartarean howl 
of Antichrist ? Where are you, O bishops, and doctors? — ■ 
O Leo, cardinals, and all at Rome, if you admit that this 
bull is yours, I must use the power, whereby in my baptism I 
was made a child of God, and joint-heir with Christ, built on 
the sure Rock ; I bid, warn, and exhort you in the Lord to 


return to your senses from your diabolical blasphemies, and 1520. 
to put a stop to your presumptuous impieties, and that quickly. 
And if you will not do this, know that I, and all who love 
Jesus Christ, shall account your seat the seat of Antichrist, 
the condemned seat of Antichrist, towards which, instead of 
obedience, detestation and execration are due : in the name 
of Him whom you persecute, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
Jesus Christ still lives and still reigns ; and soon will he 
come and slay with the breath of his mouth, and destroy 
with the brightness of his coming this man of sin and son of 
perdition." And he ended with the words, '■ As they have 
excommunicated me, according to their sacrileg-ious heresy, 
so do I excommunicate them, according to God's holy truth. 
Christ the Judge will see which excommunication shall avail 
with him. Amen." ^ 

Rome had to do with an adversary whose vigour was inex- 
haustible. " My thoughts," Luther himself said, " run in a 
stream, and have never to be drawn drop by drop : and I am 
a rapid penman." The stream never ceased, but was ever 
swelling in volume, and gathering strength. On the 1st De- 
cember he published his " Assertion of all the Articles con- 
demned by the last Bull of Leo X." In touching on the old 
subject of indulgences, he said, "When I first treated of them 
I knew not that the Pope is Antichrist, who at the bidding 
of Satan is ruining Christendom." When he came (in the 

* Luthor alluded m this tract lo the report tliat money liad been 
offered him to defray his expenses in journeying to Rome. He insisted, 
on the contrary, that "the Bank had offered money, some hundred 
gold pieces, but it was to assassins to slay him. But let the Bank give 
him money, provided it were enough to raise 20,000 foot and 5000 horse, 
and without caring for a safe-conduct he would appear at Rome, for 
then he should be sure of good faith in that city where holy fathers 
murdered their beloved sons, and l>rother brother, in true Roman style, 
all out of love to God," &c. 

VOL. I. O 


1520. thirtieth Article) to the mention of John Huss, he said, 
" They are incorrect in calling me a Hussite ; if he was a 
heretic, I am a tenfold worse heretic : I before stated tliat 
some, I now state that all the Articles of Huss condemned by- 
Antichrist and his apostles at Constance, in that synagogue of 
Satan, are evangelical." In speaking of Purgatory (in the 
thirty-seventh Article), he pronounced the doctrine peculiar to 
the Roman Church, " the most schismatical of all Churches." 
The existence of Purgatory was " a dream of the Pope, who 
knew less on such topics than the very least of believers." 
Under the forty-first and last Article he had been to 
declare that " Prelates and Princes would do well to remove 
all the sacks of mendicity." He had not said "sacks," he 
observed, he cared not about their " sacks," for, if they had 
not them, they would have " vases and waggons ;" but he de- 
sired the extinction of all mendicity. " What man Avas there, 
heathen or Christian, endowed with sense, who did not exe- 
crate the mendicity of laymen, how much more that of priests ! 
Most holy Vicar of God, your tenets are utterly impious and 
diabolical. O Satan, Satan, Satan, woe unto you with your 
Pope and Papists ! Farewell, guilty abomination. May the 
Lord Jesus visit you quickly with the brightness of his 
coming. Amen." 

But Luther was not satisfied with reiterating his contempt 
for the bull, defending his own teaching, and exposing the 
anti- scriptural character of the Roman doctrines. Convinced 
that the Babylon of the Apocalypse pourtrays the Papacy, he 
had that text of the sacred book perpetually recurring to his 
thoughts, " Reward her, even as she hath rewarded you, and 
double unto her double according to her works," In con- 
formity with this curse on Rome, he had pronounced her con- 
demnation in answer to his own j she had proclaimed him a 
heretic, and he liad in turn proclaimed her heretical, schis- 


maticalj and diabolical ; she had excommunicated him, and he 1520. 
had excommunicated her, appealing to Jesus Christ as Judge. 
An additional requital remained. Rome had burnt his books, 
and he was resolved to deliver her volumes in turn to the 
flames ; and he was well aware that if this act should be par- 
ticipated in by the masters and scholars of the University, it 
would be a demonstration to the world that Wittenberg went 
heart and hand with her great professor. The University 
reply to Eck's letter, and the bull, had been framed in the 
presence of Luther and Carlstadt, and in accordance with 
their wishes; but it was evident that an overt act of the 
University, marking condemnation of and secession from 
Rome at such a juncture, would speak with more power to 
the popular mind than any written document. Luther, 
therefore, had notices affixed throughout Wittenberg, that on 
Monday the 10th December, at nine o'clock in the morning, 
at a spot behind the poor's house, a mile and a half from the 
town, the Antichristian decretals would be given to the 

The enthusiasm elicited by the occasion even exceeded 
expectation. The inhabitants of Wittenberg flocked to wit- 
ness the spectacle with the ready zeal of earnest partisans ; 
and the students, not far short of six hundred in number, 
hastened in a troop with the still more glowing fervour of 
youth and scholastic interest to the place of conflagration. 
At the appointed time, or soon after, the pile was built up 
and set fire to by a Master of Arts of distinction ; and then, 
Luther coming forward, threw first the Decretals, Clementines, 
Extravagants, and Canon Law, with sundry writings of Eck, 
Emser, and Dungersheim, and the " Summa Angelica," into 
the flames, and finally the copy of the bull itself, saying, ''Thou 
hast troubled God's Holy One, and therefore may fire eternal 
trouble thee." Doctors, masters, students, and townsmen 

o 2 


1520. crowded around the Reformer, and in sometliing like a 
triumphal procession attended him back to the town. 

The next day, as he was lecturing on the Psalms, adverting; 
to the recent scene, he warned his audience against the pa- 
pistical statutes. The conflagration, he said, of Popish writings 
was nothing : the grand point to be attained was the con- 
flagration of the Pope, that is, of the papal See itself. His 
brow gathered as he spoke, and he pronounced with emphasis, 
" Unless with all your heart you dissent from the papal reign, 
you cannot obtain the salvation of your souls. The reign of 
the Pope is so alien from the kingdom of Christ and the 
Christian life, that it would be safer to roam the desert, and 
never behold a human face, than to continue under the rule 
of Antichrist. Every one must look carefully to his soul's 
welfare, and take heed that, by assenting in any way to the 
Papists, he may not deny Christ. The time is come, when 
each Christian must choose between death here and death 
hereafter ; and for my own part, I choose death here, and will 
never lay such a burden on my soul as to hold my peace, but 
shall think of the reckoning to be made to God. I abomi- 
nate the Babylonian pest. As long as T live, I will proclaim 
the truth. And if the wholesale destruction of souls through- 
out Christendom may not be prevented, at least it shall be 
my labour to rescue my own countrymen from the bottomless 
pit of perdition." 

He also published his reasons for burning the bull and the 
papal books. He had done so, he stated, — First, because 
abominable writings ought to be burnt. Secondly, because, 
by his baptismal vow, and the oath he had taken as Doctor of 
the Holy Scriptures, he was bound to use his best efforts for 
the extinction of error. Thirdly, because the Pope and his 
faction had rejected all his warnings to them. He added, 
that the authority for Ijurning his writings had been purchased 


of the civil power by the Universities of Cologne and Louvain 1520. 
for a very large sum ; and he believed that Leo X. individually, 
as far at least as he understood, was not responsible for it. 
But, as such burning might lead to a shipwreck of truth with 
the ignorant populace, he had retaliated on the papal books, 
under the influence, as he thought, of the Holy Spirit, for the 
confirmation and preservation of Christian verity. He an- 
nexed thirty Articles culled from the books of the Canon Law, 
which justly sentenced them to the flames. '' The sum and 
substance of the Canon Law," he continued, " is this — The 
Pope is God upon earth, superior to every other being, celes- 
tial or terrestrial, spiritual or secular. All things appertain to 
the Pope, and none can say to him, What dost thou ? " And 
such a pretension proved that the Papacy was " the abomi- 
nation of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing 
iu the holy place,^' The example set at Wittenberg, of burn- 
ing the bull, told with effect throughout Germany; and in 
several cities, and amongst them Leipsic and Torgau, de- 
monstrations of a similar kind declared the popular senti- 
ments.* The humanist poets were loud in their notes of 

War was now publicly declared on both sides; every 
barrier broken down, the sword drawn, and the scabbard 
thrown away. And at this point another stage may be re- 
garded as completed in Luther^s religious development. He 
had become thoroughly acquainted with the essential doc- 
trines of Scripture, and had habitually taught them long 
before Tetzel erected his indulgence market at Juterbock ; and 
the indulgence controversy, far from producing the Reform a- 

* At Doeblin the bull was torn and disfigured, and tlie inscription 
appended, " The nest is here, the birds are flown : " at Magdeberg it 
was publicly gibbetted (fixus in publico palo quod Sack seu den Pranger 
vocant.) De Wettc, I. p. 569. Pallav. I. p. 34. 


1520. tioUj found the Reformation already in existence, and was 
simply the spark Avhich fired the train. But, from the assertion 
of truth, Luther had now advanced to the detection of error. 
From holding evangelical principles himself, and proclaiming 
them to others, he had been taught their application to the 
rest of his creed; and had discovered that, as a necessary 
consequence of such tenets, he must condemn the worldly 
status aud the doctrinal system of the Church of Rome. His 
progress had been gradual ; Romish fictions had fallen, one 
after another, tried by the touchstone of scriptural truth; 
and, in the mysterious course of divine Providence, the argu- 
ments of his antagonists had proved highly subservient to his 
progressive enlightenment. But it is very remarkable that 
he had attained very nearly to the fulness of his antipapal 
convictions before the ordeal of the Diet of Worms. Within 
the three preceding years, almost all his anti-Romanist dis- 
coveries have their date; and from that period, although to 
carry his conceptions into execution, to write, preach, teach 
the Gospel and translate the Scriptures, engrossed his whole 
life, his opinions, under the force of circumstances, if any- 
thing, instead of advancing, rather retrograded, if an excep- 
tion be made of some few points, such as his more decisive 
judgment on monastic vows. 

The true view of the great revolution, of which Luther was 
the divinely appointed instrument, is, that it was primarily a 
religious doctrinal movement, seconded by a literary and na- 
tional movement. The people were " athirst for evangelical 
truth " — that was the centre around which all revolved. But 
it cannot be denied that the inferior tendencies of the Refor- 
mation — its literary tendency as a rebellion against scholasti- 
cism, and its national tendency as a resistance to tyranny and 
extortion — extended and enforced its influence. Thus Luther^s 
character combined these three elements ; although in him, as 


in the Reformation itself, the religious greatly preponderated. 1520. 
And in the same way Frederic of Saxony was the head of the 
constitutional party in Germany, the founder of a humanist 
University, as well as the patron of Luther and a student of 
the Bible. It is, however, clear that the Reformation must 
have proved a failure, unless the religious centre had imparted 
warmth and vitality to all the subordinate parts. Duke 
George of Saxony, for instance, was profoundly national in 
spirit ; yet his hatred to the doctrine of grace made him the 
most bitter foe the Reformation met with in its career. And 
Erasmus, the prince of letters, notwithstanding his many 
feelings in common, and the early sympathy which he showed 
with the impulse for Reform, not being sufficiently enlightened 
in doctrine to steer a determined course, was ere long sucked 
back into the vortex of Rome. 

Apart from considerations of divine agency, the chances of 
success, if surveyed from the point of view of the sixteenth 
century, held out little encouragement to the advocate of 
ecclesiastical reform. It is true that much had been done 
within an incredibly short space of time. At Copenhagen 
the chair of divinity was filled by Martin Reinard, the chair 
of Greek by Matthias Gabler, both pupils of Luther. Carl- 
stadt spent some months there in the next year : the King of 
Denmark, Christian II,, was disposed to favour the evange- 
lical cause to ingratiate himself with his people. Under the 
Swiss Alps the Gospel plant had taken root by the instrumen- 
tality of Ulric Zwingle, and was covering with its shadow the 
waters of the lake of Zurich, and spreading its roots on all sides. 
In Germany, the most influential of the Electors, the Nestor 
of the commonwealth,* had so far, at least, sheltered the great 

* "Germanici imperii Nestor et unicus quideni." — Melancthon, 
Bret. I. p. 284. 


1520. monk. The flourishing University of Wittenberg was com- 
mitted to his cause ; and the current of popular sentiment had 
strongly set in the direction of religious emancipation. But 
what were all these against the gigantic power of the Church 
of Rome, with its long recognised authority, and with its de- 
voted army of monks, and its subservient and interested allies 
in every town and village ? No instance appeared on record 
when the Pope had failed to silence or to overthrow a religious 
innovator. Moreover, there was every reason to conclude 
that the Emperor, if not at the commencement of the struggle, 
yet, as it proceeded, would definitely unite himself with the 
Pontiff. Their cause was identified as that of authority 
against enquiry, and precedent against reason. As far as the 
burning of Luther's writings in his own dominions, Charles 
had already complied with the papal ban ; and, in the war 
which was imminent against France, expediency, or rather 
necessity itself, must drive him into the arms of the Pontiff. 
Against Pope and Emperor, the spiritual and the temporal 
arm, how slight the resources of an isolated Prince, a newly 
founded University, some knights, merchants, doctors, pea- 
sants, and mechanics, with some poets and men of letters, led 
by a feeble and attenuated friar ! 

These reflections are important, in order to comprehend 
not only Luther's actual position, but the essential features of 
his extraordinary character. The improbability of success, 
far from exciting his apprehension, was one of his strongest 
grounds of hope, because, as he argued, in the inadequacy of 
human means, God's hand would work most surely and effec- 
tively. In regard to himself, he might doubt his continued 
safety from the arts and the power of Rome ; and he was de- 
lighted to repeat that he was probably only an Elijah prepar- 
ing the way for an Elisha, Phihp Melancthon, or some other 
instrument to be raised up by heaven, and endued with a 


double portion of the prophetic spirit. But he never doubted 1520. 
for the cause. " We are standing on the threshold of some 
marvellous dispensation," was his certain conviction. "If 
they kill me/' he declared, " after three days the truth will 
rise again." " My life will be the bane of the Papacy, my 
death will be its ruin.'^ Then again, the thought of his un- 
worthiness recurred more forcibly, and he predicted that he 
should not fall by the poison, the sword, or the fire of Rome, 
because by his sins he had forfeited the privilege, the highest 
glory of humanity, to be a martyr for Christ ; and he should 
deem himself too richly blessed to be '' one day the last in the 
kingdom of God.""^ 

* Utinam aliquando merear ultimum membrum fieri Ecclesise. 




1521. The great theme of conversation was now the Diet, that 
meeting of the States so long deferred by unexpected events, 
which to human apprehension must determine the fate of 
Luther and his doctrines. Three topics in particular pressed 
for decision by the national assembly : the nomination of a 
Council of Regency, according to the Election Capitulations, 
to supply the Emperor's place as often as he might be absent, 
and moreover retain some authority when he might be present 
(but this latter part of the requirement was obliged to be 
given up); the jurisdiction of the imperial chamber; and 
above all, that religious controversy which in the minds of 
many was so paramount as to put every other thought far in 
the back ground. Frederic had been requested to bring 
Luther with him to the Diet, but had declined the charge,* 
apprehending, as he hinted in his reply, peril to the Reformer 
from the burning of the bull ; and proceeded in December 
with Spalatin to Worms without the great monk, whom the 
populace would gladly have descried amongst his train. The 
Emperor had then directed that Frederic should take Luther 
with him as far as Frankfort ; but the Elector had already 
proceeded half way on his journey when the second letter 
reached him. And indeed there were not a few obstacles of a 
more serious nature to the popular feeling being gratified by 

* De Wette, I. p. 542. See Seckcnd. I. p. 142. Walch. XV. pp. 2021 



Luther's appearance before the highest political assemblage of 1521. 
the empire. On the 3rd January a second bull was issued, 
finally expelling him from the communion of the Church. 
The Papists objected to the heretic's appearing before the 
Diet at all, particularly now that the Church had so authori- 
tatively and conclusively spoken, and decided that the only 
duty of the Diet was to decree that temporal pmiishment 
which ought invariably to follow the Roman ban. This 
high argument, drawn from Ultramontane notions on the 
relation of Church and State, was aided by other reasons. 
Cajetan had proved Luther's ability; and therefore a con- 
demnation of him unheard, besides being strictly orthodox, 
was highly expedient. Moreover, Aleander, in his journey 
through Germany, had been startled at the demonstrations of 
sympathy with the excommunicated heretic which presented 
themselves on all sides. The office, the person of the nuncio, 
were marks for contempt from the German populace : at some 
inns he was refused admission ; he had often to resort to the 
very meanest, and oftentimes on entering his apartment his 
eye rested as the first object on the portrait of Dr. Martin 
Lather over the mantelpiece. He exclaimed that " Germany 
to a man was Lutheran," and vowed to use all his art and 
eloquence to preclude the national hero from being heard in 
his defence before the national tribunal. 

But on the other hand there were those, and some of them 
personages of high consequence, who were resolved that 
Luther should, at whatever cost, appear before the Diet. 
The extortions of the Papacy had been so exorbitant, and 
the print of its withering policy so deeply branded on the 
German soil, that the constitutional party were bent on not 
losing the opportunity which the energies of a solitary monk 
had supplied for instituting a better order of things in re- 
ligious matters, and desired to back their own eff'orts by all 


1521. the force of Luther^s personal presence. Nobles and princes 
came to the Diet armed with the great " Appeal." Aa 
abridgment of it had even obtained larger circulation than 
the original document. It was the national mind and voice; 
and the man who had written it, in right of common fairness, 
which Germany loved, and even in gratification of that pride 
with which his countrymen named his name, was not to be 
immured or stifled in a corner, but to be heard in public. 
Charles himself varied according to the variations in the sen- 
timents which were buzzed most noisily round him, and now 
addressed another letter to the Elector of Saxony (his pre- 
vious letters he had recalled) , demanding Luther's appearance 
at Worms. This was made known to the Reformer, and drew 
from him a memorable reply in declaration of his joyful 
assent. " I call Christ to witness that it is the cause of God, 
of the Christian Church, of the whole German nation, not of 
one man, still less my cause. I implore your Electoral Grace 
to beseech his Majesty in my behalf to grant me a safe-con- 
duct, to prevent that violence which I have so much reason to 
apprehend, and to provide that the cause may be examined by 
good, learned, and prudent men, above suspicion, and pious 
Christians, both from among the clergy and laity, men well 
grounded in the Scriptures, and acquainted with the distinc- 
tion between divine and human laws. With the security of a 
safe-conduct for my journey to and from Worms, I am most 
ready in humble obedience to present myself before the Im- 
perial Diet and submit to be tried by just, learned, and 
honest and impartial judges : for in all that I have written 
and taught I have obeyed my conscience, my vow and duty, 
as a poor scholar in the Scriptures, to the praise of God, the 
health of Christendom, and the weal of Germany." * 

* Letter of Jan. 25. Be AVette, I. p. 548. 


But if Charles, a very young man, and hitherto, as it 1521. 
seemed, under the control of his prime minister and those 
about him, vacillated according as the impulse from one side 
was for a time stronger than that from the other, the Papist 
party kept steadily in view one object, constantly pursued 
through every diflEiculty, to prevent by whatever means Lu- 
ther^s presence. With a view to this Glapio the Franciscan, 
the Emperor's confessor, who represented the Reform party 
within the Roman pale, sought an interview with Gregory 
Bruck or Pontanus, the councillor of the Elector of Saxony, 
and with great wilyness laboured that Luther's friends might 
commit him, and so ruin his cause. Glapio's project was a 
committee of learned and impartial men to examine Luther's 
writings, and hear the Reformer's explanation viva voce of 
dubious or objectionable passages in them. He protested that 
his conviction of a Church reformation was as strong as that 
entertained by Luther himself, or by any one else ; and he 
had assured the Emperor that he was called by God, under 
penalty of signal chastisement, to the work of reform. He 
stated that Luther had acted most properly in opposing the 
indulgence traffic ; that he had read his writings witli much 
approval, and in a certain measure they bad been acceptable 
to the Emperor himself. Only the " Babylonian Captivity " 
formed an exception from this general eulogy. "He had 
himself, on perusing it, felt as if a scourge had struck him 
from head to foot ; it exhibited neither the peculiar style nor 
industry of Luther's other writings : it could not be his ; or, 
if it were, it must have been indited under the maddening 
influence of the recent bull. Luther must disown that pro- 
duction; and as the worst evils were not without remedy, 
so here a remedy would be presently found." Bruck, with 
the sagacity of his character, saw tlirough the duplicity of the 
Confessor, and replied that the Elector of Saxony had never 


1521. taken upon himself to defend Martin Luther, and that, even 
if he were wilKng to do so, Luther would be unwilling to en- 
trust his defence to him. And when Glapio demanded a 
private interview with the Elector himself, the demand was 
courteously but decidedly declined. The conversations, how- 
ever, between Glapio and Bruck were continued. The latter 
observed that a slight had been shown his master by his ex- 
clusion from those councils which were daily carried on in the 
imperial presence relative to the mode of dealing with Luther: 
and that his master's services in the late election to the 
throne had not deserved such a recompense. Glapio parried 
this side blow as well as he could, and returned to the busi- 
ness of his negociation, insisting, that on Luther's retracting 
his "Babylonian Captivity," the Pontiff would reverse his 
sentence. " But what ! " Bruck exclaimed, " if when Mar- 
tin's books have been deposited with the impartial umpires, 
who, according to your suggestion, are to settle the whole 
matter, the Emperor should go into Spain, and the Pontiff 
issue his mandate to the umpires to burn the books ! " The 
Confessor would not recognise such an event as possible, 
although Aleander's views on the pontifical supremacy and 
independence had been already freely broached. And when 
Bruck finally declared that the Elector could see no mode of 
arriving at any decision but by Luther's personal appearance 
before the Diet, with a deep sigh Glapio again protested, and 
called God to witness the sincerity with which he desired a 
reform of the Church, and the grief with which he foresaw 
that " the noble merchandise which Luther had almost 
brought into port, would all be shipwrecked." * The effect 

* I have preferred taking Spalatin's view of Glapio's motives to 
E.anke's. Spalatin saj'S — " Luthero favere visum esse Glapionem : alios 
aiitem affii-mare extreme illi infensum, et veliementer territiim fuisse, 
cum adventare eum audisset." Seckend. I. pp. 143, 144. 


of these negociatious was to confirm Frederic in his estimate 1521, 
of the Reformer's cause, and in the conviction that his pre- 
sence before the Diet was of essential moment. 

All this while, and for months previously, the imperial 
negociations with the Papal Court had been proceeding, and 
had at last reached a definite result. On the one side the 
Pope consented to withdraw his aid from the Spanish Cortes, 
and recall all his briefs mitigating the inquisitorial system in 
Spain : on the other side the Emperor agreed to sacrifice 
Luther to the pontifical vengeance. A singular bargain, by 
which ultramontism through the influence of the Emperor, 
an ultramontanist in Spain, and of the Pope, an ultramon- 
tanist in Germany, seemed efifectually established in both 
countries. When the compact had thus been sealed in 
tyranny and bloodshed, Charles, one day in February, when 
the imperial banner had been unfurled, and everything seemed 
ready for a tournament, suddenly summoned the princes and 
nobles to his own presence, to hear read to them a brief 
which he had received from Rome, exhorting him to put in 
execution the ecclesiastical sentence upon Luther, and also 
the edict which he had caused to be drawn up in conformity 
to the Papal pleasure. It was a bold step, just such as Aleau- 
der might have prompted to secure the assent of the Diet by 
a surprise, and preclude Luther's appearance by the arbitrary 
and summary settlement of his cause. But the forms of the 
constitution required Charles to add, that, "if the States 
knew anything better, he was ready to hear them.'' Aleander 
and his party may have counted much upon the natural prone- 
ness on the part of his nobles to gratify a young and recently 
elected emperor ; but the Diet was very jealous of prescrip- 
tive rights : even those of its members who were resolved to 
cling to Romish doctrine desired a reformation in externals, 
especially that a curb should be put on the extortions of 


1521. the Vatican ; and therefore time was requested for delibera- 

The subject which was uppermost in the general mind hav- 
ing been thus formally brought under consideration, very 
clamorous altercations ensued in the Diet, Pallavicini states 
that the Elector of Saxony and the Elector of Brandenburg, 
the political heads of the opposing parties, grew so warm in 
argument on one occasion, that the loud tone of the former 
could be heard beyond the precincts of the hall, and from 
words they had all but come to blows, " an unprecedented de- 
viation from the respect mutually rendered by princes/'^ 
But this tale is very inconsistent with Frederic's established 
character for prudence and calmness ; nor had he as yet so 
energetically committed himself to Luther's cause. On the 
13th of February, Aleander proceeded to try the effect of 
rhetoric ; and^ having been exhorted by Charles and his tutor 
and minister, the Lord of Chievres, to " speak without fear of 
any one,"t delivered an oration of three hours' length in a 
strain of the utmost vehemence and vituperation. The Elec- 
tor of Saxony was absent on plea of sickness; but he had 
careful notes taken of the speech.J The Nuncio produced an 
authentic copy of the bull, to remove every doubt as to its 
genuineness, and commenced with averring that the question 
really at issue was, whether the Pope should continue to wear 
the tiara or not. There was enough in Luther's writings to 

* PalJav. I. p. 40. Pallaviciui's statement is as little to be trusted 
that the doorkeeper, a Lutheran in heart, thrust back Aleander as he 
was entering the hall with a blow of his fist on his breast, in order to 
divert the Nuncio's atte7ition from the public to a private cause ! I. p. 46. 

t At an earlier stage in the negociations Chievres had told Aleander 
that the Emperor would act towards the Pope as the Pope acted 
towards him. 

X Seckendorff'a account is founded on these notes. Pallavicini iu- 
yonts a speech for Aleander. 


sanction the burning of 100,000 heretics. Besides defending 1521. 
Wycliffe and Huss, Martin Luther had taught that the body 
of Christ is not really in the sacrament ; that a Christian is 
not bound to obey the magistrates ; that there is no such 
place as Purgatory, contrary to the decree of the Council of 
Florence, which he produced and laid before the Emperor ; 
that every Christian is a priest, in accordance with which the 
"Babylonian Captivity '' had just been reprinted at Strasburg, 
with a representation of two dogs biting one another, to de- 
note the clergy and laitj'^ ; that he had rejected monasti- 
cisra ; that he had blasphemed against the Saints, for he had 
showered contempt on the writings of Dyonysius the Areopa- 
gite ; that he had called the Council of Constance " the Sink 
of Satan;" that he denied the freedom of the will, and 
made fate the arbiter of human actions. As to summoning 
Martin Luther to answer for himself before them, such a 
course must be useless, for an angel from heaven would not 
turn him from his errors, and he had already been cited to 
appear at Rome, and had refused to go thither. It was an 
affair exclusively appertaining to the Church, in which the 
laity had no right to intermeddle ; and it behoved the 
Emperor to act as Constantine had done in the case of Eut}'^- 
ches, and resign the heretic to the ecclesiastical authority. 
The books of Martin Luther must be everywhere proscribed, 
and consigned to the flames ; and the heresy be prevented 
from spreading any further, or else the Jews, the Turks, and 
Pagans would say, " The Christians, above all the Germans, 
a nation especially esteemed for piety, are disputing about 
their faith." Luther had vilified Rome as the seat of hypo- 
crisy, but it must be well known that imitation brass is only 
in request where the true gold is held in value. The Luthe- 
rans were the scum of men ; the Catholics were in every 
respect their superiors. And the judgment of almost every 

VOL. I. p 


1521. crowned head in Europe had ah'eady been given, or was on 
the eve of being given, against the most pestilent of heresies. 
He concluded with a few observations personal to himself, in 
reply to the allegation that he was a Jew. His family was 
generally known ; in the vicissitudes of life it had been reduced 
to poverty, but it was descended from the Marquises of Istria : 
he was himself of legitimate birth, for he was a Canon of 
Liege, and no Jew ; although, were he such, it would be far 
removed from a disgrace, for Christ and his Apostles were 
Jews. When he sat down, exhausted with his efforts, the 
countenances of the Papists in the Diet bore witness to their 
inflamed hostility to Luther ; and, as gold had flowed freely 
to Aleander's touch from the treasures of the Vatican, san- 
guine hopes were entertained that heresy would be extermi- 
nated without its author being heard.* 

But the effect of the oration very speedily evaporated ; 
there were stern facts of papal encroachment and extortion 
which rhetoric could not successfully smooth away, and a few 
days later Duke George of Saxony himself rose in the Diet to 
deliver a philippic against the avarice and artifice of Rome, 
and the enormity of ecclesiastical abuses which these had 
engendered. The Duke passed in review the chief features of 
Roman venality and profligacy ; annates, buying and selling 
of benefices, relaxations for money, expectative graces, the 

* Pallavicini says that the Emperor was so much moved by the 
speech as to tear the letter he had received from Luther to pieces, and 
give the pieces to Aleander to send to Rome. I. p. 46. Audin, after 
Pallavicini, describes Aleander as an exemplary man. Eanke, on the 
contrary, states that " his correspondence is a mixture of cunning, 
cowardice, arrogance, and every base passion." Judging, as is usual 
with bad men, of others by himself, he boasted that the Diet would 
dance to Rome's piping if they saw her gold. Hutten afTirms tliat 
John Eck, the Chancellor of Treves, who questioned Luther before tlie 
Diet, had been bribed very largely. 



multiplication of stations in order to prey upon the poor, in- 1521. 
dulgences procurable for money, penances contrived so as to 
cause a repetition of the offeuce, civil causes drawn to eccle- 
siastical tribunals, heavy fines unjustly imposed for the sake 
of revenue, the abominable vices of the papal officials, com- 
mendams, whereby abbeys and monasteries were emptied, and 
their wealth went to cardinals and foreign bishops ; all which 
" grievous perdition of miserable souls ^' demanded a universal 
reform, which could not be more fitly obtained than by a 
General Council, " which, with the utmost zeal, and with due 
submission, they implored might be convened." But the 
ecclesiastical members of the Diet enhanced the emphasis of 
Duke George's summary of abuses, by alluding, as if to screen 
themselves, to the existing Pope's taste for pleasure, and his 
consequent bestowal of Church patronage on jesters, fal- 
coners, grooms, valets, and other ministers to his whims and 
pastimes. The feeling on the subject became so strong that 
a committee was appointed to draw up a catalogue of griev- 
ances ; and the result was a list of abuses under one hundred 
and four heads,"^ specified in the spirit of Hutten's writings, 
or of Luther's " Appeal," to which it was above all things in- 
cumbent that the knife of reform should be vigorously ap- 
plied. But beyond this the Diet required that Martin Luther 
should be summoned to appear before them. Aleander now 
plied his craft with more energy than ever, for he was pain- 
fully solicitous as to the influence which the burning words of 
an intrepid monk might exert over an assembly which had 
already shown the inflammable temper by which it was actu- 
ated. The Elector of Saxony had demanded that Luther 
should be permitted to appear in order to explain any words 
or passages in his writings which might be open to censure. 

* Walch. XV. pp. 2058— 2] 14. 

p 2 


1521. And the Emperor^ who discerued the inexpediency or impos- 
sibility of resisting the national will, contrived to steer mid- 
way between the requirements of the two antagonistic parties : 
he consented to summon Luther, but not for the purpose of 
explaining the sense of his writings, but simply to answer the 
questions whether the books ascribed to him were really his ? 
• and whether he was willing to retract the errors contained in 
them? Accordingly on the 6th March the summons to Lu- 
ther to present himself within twenty-one days before the 
Diet at Worms, received the imperial signature. A safe- 
conduct was enclosed in the citation ; and Caspar Sturm, the 
imperial herald, was despatched to be the bearer of these 
documents to the Reformer. 

Meanwhile, Luther at Wittenberg, far from suffering his 
danger to engross his thoughts and depress his activities, had 
been engaged in the constant routine of his duties and avoca- 
tions ; writing as fearlessly, and preaching and lecturing * as 
energetically, as if neither Pops nor Emperor, but only God 
had his eye upon him. He had received information of the 
gradual progress of the counsels of the Diet from Spalatin, 
and in answer to the catalogue of the heretical propositions 
extracted from his works, which he would be required to re- 
tract, affirmed that " if he were summoned to Worms to 
recant, he should refuse to go; he might as well send his 
refusal from Wittenberg : but if he were summoned to be 
put to death he should go, for he would never fly and forsake 
God's truth." And this settled temper of confidence kept 
him firm and resolute, and comparatively indifferent to the 
result of the public deliberations. He speaks of himself at 
this time as " preaching two sermons a day, writing a com- 

* He had prooeedccl in his lectures as far as Gen. xx. and to J6\xn 
the Baptist in the Gospels, when he was cited to "Worms. 


mentary ou the Psalms, going on with the ' Pastils/ answer- 1521. 
ing his enemies, attacking the bull in Latin and German, and 
defending himself, to make no mention of correspondence, 
conversations," &c. He was translating his " Assertion" of 
the condemned articles into German at the request of Fre- 
deric. His Commentary on the Psalms had been commenced 
in 1519, and he had begun the publication of it in series, two 
Psalms at a time ; and his pen was suspended in his comment 
on the twenty-second Psalm when Caspar Sturm entered and 
presented him the imperial citation. He had his " Postils" 
for the four Sundays in Advent in the press to be ready 
against the Frankfort fair, with a dedication to the Elector. 
He was also engaged in a commentary on the Magnificat.* 
He had been reassailed by Emser, and by Emser's friend, 
Thomas Murner, who lifted the pen of satire, while Emser 
himself wielded the more weighty pen of argument. As he 
considered that Jerome Emser spoke with the authority of 
Duke George, he condescended to reply to the " Leipsic he- 
goat," embracing in the same tract some observations upon 
Murner's jests ; and Emser retorted " against the Wittenberg 

In addition to the attacks of these neighbour antagonists, 
which had become ordinary events, a controversial treatise 
was wafted to him from Italy through the agency of Winces- 
laus Link — a work of Ambrosius Catharinus,t in defence of 
Sylvester Prierias' assumption that " the reign of the saints 
in Daniel is the reign of the Pope." Luther sent back the 
book to Link " by way of retaliation for having lost him so 
many hours in reading it," and together with it a " refuta- 
tion" addressed to his friend, whom he warned against sup- 

* Dc Wctte, I. p. 562. 

t Venit tandem a Norimbcrga Ambrosius Catliarimis proli Deum ! 
(juam iusulsus et stolidua Thomista. Dc Wetle, I. p. 570. 


1521 posing that by such au act he was subjecting himself again to 
his authority. Luther insisted in this refutation, that the 
Pope and the Papists cannot be the Church of Christ, be- 
cause the gates of hell have prevailed against them. But his 
answer is chiefly remarkable for the more full evolution con- 
tained in it of his prophetical views. He identifies the king 
of fierce countenance in Daniel with the Pope, pre-eminently 
" the king of masks ;" and then describes the twelve masks 
of the Papacy. He hazards* also the conjecture that "the 
fifth angel which sounded/' in the ninth chapter of the 
Apocalypse, is the Roman Pontiff; the "star'' which "fell 
from heaven," Alexander de Hales, or Thomas Aquinas ; the 
" smoke " rising out of the pit the vapours and fumes of Aris- 
totle's doctrines ; the king of the bottomless pit, Abaddon, or 
Apollyon, no other than Aristotle himself. Thus the bottom- 
less pit appeared to his fancy as the cauldron of the Papacy 
surrounded by the archi-magirus and his assistant ministers. 
Passing on to the second chapter of St. Paul's second Epistle to 
the Thessalonians, he declares, as he had before done, that 
"the man of sin, the son of perdition," is the Pope, the Vicar of 
God, who had raised himself above and displaced God; and then 
he proceeds to the delineation of the Papacy in St. Peter and 
St. Jude, closing with the statement that in this workf he 
offers to the world the other part of his recantation, which 
he had promised in the " Babylonian Captivity." " Christ 
lives and reigns, and in this confidence I shall not fear many 

* Meo hie sensu periclitabor. 

t Some, Audin amongst tliem, incorrectly assign the treatise against 
Catlieriiius to the Wartburg period of Luther's life. But the letter to 
Link with which it closes is dated Wittenberg, April 1. Walch. XVIII. 
p. 1941. The mistake has been caused by the printing having been 
later, when Luther made some additions. See his letter to Spalatin. 
De Wette, II. p. 41. 


thousand Papists." At this time he was assailed also by 1521. 
Latomus of Louvain, whom he answered a few months later 
from the Wartbnrg. 

Thus in his own words Luther " grasped the sword with 
one hand^ and builded the wall with the other " — " an Ehud 
with the full use of both his hands.^^ * But he was not with- 
out many encouragements at this trying hour, and thousands 
of warm hearts throbbed with his own. He received intelli- 
gence that the printing of his '' Operations on the Psalms " 
had been undertaken at Basle under Conrad Pellican, for the 
use of the Swiss. His sermons on the Ten Commandments 
and on the Lord's Prayer had been translated into Bohemian. 
Accounts also reached him that Duke Henry of Saxony and 
the King of Hungary would not suffer that his writings 
should be condemned in their dominions. The Marquis of 
Brandenburg, as he passed through Wittenberg on his way 
to the Diet, requested to see him, and held an agreeable con- 
versation with him. Dr. Henry Schmidberg of Eilenburg 
left him a legacy of one hundred florins; he accepted the 
money as a token of favour from God ; but when another 
legacy almost directly afterwards Avas poured into his lap, he 
drew back in dismay. " I enter my protest," said he, " with 
Almighty God that I will not have my reward in this life ; " 
and he made the prior of his convent a happy man with 
the present of half. 

And if Luther looked beyond the grating of his cell, or 
walked the streets of Wittenberg, it was only to witness some 
new pantomime by which the students marked their devotion 
to his cause. One of them would personate the Pope, and 
several others his cardinals ; an ass would be led with great 
ceremony, from whose neck the papal bull was suspended, 

* Epistle dedicating the Postils to Frederic, March 3, 1521. 


1521. which was dipped with suppressed merriment in every gutter 
traversed in the procession : presently the Pope and the Car- 
dinals took to their heels and fled in various directions, pelted 
and pursued by the crowd of students amidst jeers and up- 
roarious laughter. And these exhibitions of the pervading 
sentiment in mimic forms, highly acceptable to the German 
taste, found imitators in most of the universities and large 
towns. On the other hand it was only at Meissen, Merseburg, 
and at Leipsic, that a counter demonstration was made by 
burning Luther's books ; and it was exclusively the work of 
the priests ; the people had no share in it.* 

Not, however, that, amidst continual proofs of the popular 
enthusiasm, Luther's feelings were not painfully lacerated by 
instances of individual timidity. Staupitz, who was receding 
farther and farther from Luther, as the Reformer's doctrines 
were more clearly developing and becoming more and more 
decidedly anti-E-omanist, liad been accused to his friend the 
Archbishop of Salzburg, by the Pope, as an ally of the Wit- 
tenberg monk, and in reply had declared his submission to 
the Holy See. So much was the Reformer grieved at this 
pusillanimity that he addressed a letter on the subject to 
Staupitz, in which affection seems to vie with remonstrance. 
" You have too much humility, and / have too much pride. 
Let me be found guilty of every sin there is or can be rather 
than of impious silence at a time like the present, when 
Christ is in his agony, and says, ' I looked on my right hand, 
and beheld, but there was no man that would know me.' I 
fear that you will continue to vacillate midway between Christ 
and the Pope, who are diametrically opposed. Indeed, I am 
not a little vexed at your recent submission, whereby you have 
shown yourself another man from the Staupitz who once 

* Bretsch. I. p. 361. 


preached grace aud the cross. Philip salutes you^ and prays 1521, 
for you an increase of courage. Your son, Martin Luther.'^^ 
Eeuchlin too showed himself very cautious, and requested 
Melancthon not to write to him, that he might not incur 
suspicion. Another defection was that of Adrian, the Hebrew 
Professor, who removed from Wittenberg to Leipsic, now that 
Luther's affair was growing serious ; but this was a loss which 
few regretted. t 

If some, like Staupitz, were dejected, and step by step re- 
turning to Kome, there were others who were for wildly rush- 
ing into the coimter extreme, and settling religious differences 
by the sword. Hutten, the little valiant knight, who had 
singly repulsed five Frenchmen who set upon him at once 
when he was returning from one of his enterprises, was the 
mouthpiece of this warlike party, and had formed, in con- 
junction with Sickengen, a plan of the campaign. These 
counsels were as offensive to Luther as the timid drawing 
back of Staupitz. He knew that his own life was in imminent 
jeopardy, but the very last means by which he would pur- 
chase peace was bloodshed. His words are very memorable. 
" Hutten,^' he wrote to Spalatin, " would contend for the 
Gospel with violence and carnage. I decline any such instru- 
mentality. The world was conquered by the Word, the 
Church saved by the Word, and by the Word it must be re- 
newed. Antichrist must be broken without hand by the 
Word." And in reliance on the power of the Word, and of 
that God whose Word it is, he was prepared to go to Worms, 
and face the Emperor, the Nuncio, all the stratagems and 
perils of Satan ; but not a sword or a hand was to be moved 
in his behalf " The will of the Lord be done." 

It was on the 24th March, or some say on the 26th, that 

* De Wette, I. pp. 557, 558. 

t The Hebrew professorship thus vacant was given subsequently to 


1521. (>aspar Sturm, the imperial herald, passed through the streets 
of Wittenberg. The Elector of Saxouy had furnished him 
with a safe-conduct for Luther;"^ but that was a point of 
small moment, as everywhere in Germany, and how much 
more in Saxony ! the great monk was the object of popular 
idolatry. It seemed likely to be a more important precaution 
that Frederic directed the magistrates to provide by every 
means in their power for the safety of the herald, and if 
necessary appoint him a guard; but, although considerable 
excitement prevailed at Wittenberg, order and tranquillity 
reigned there. Luther's feelings were thoroughly under- 
stood ; and those who feared for his safety were scarcely dis- 
posed to wrong the Reformer or his cause by denying him 
the glory of bearing witness to the truth at Worms. But a 
few days' delay was requisite for completing preparations for 
the journey, and making arrangements for supplying Luther's 
place during his absence, in the lecture-room and in the 
pulpit. It was a providential coincidence that just at this 
time Bugenhagen, or Pomeranus, so called because the town 
Wollin, in Pomerania, was his birthplace, came to Witten- 
berg, a fugitive from the persecution of the Bishop of Camin. 
His conversion from Romanism had been very recent. At 
Treptow, where he was Rector of the Grammar School, he 
was seated at table with the Inspector of the Church, in com- 
pany with other guests, in the closing month of 1520, when 
the " Babylonian Captivity " was placed in his hands, and his 
opinion enquired as to its merits. He turned over a few 
pages as he sat at the table, and exclaiming that " the author 
of that book was the most pestilent heretic that had ever 
vexed the Church," read aloud some of the statements which 
it contained. But he took the book home with him, perused 

* Luther had also a safe-conduct from Duke George. Walch. XV. 
p. 2126. 


it more attentively, and after a few days returned to his for- 1521. 
mer messmates, with an apology for the hasty judgment 
which he had expressed, since " on closer study he had be- 
come convinced, that the whole world was wilfully blind, and 
was plunged in Cimmerian darkness, and Luther alone saw 
the truth." The arrival at Wittenberg of this warm-hearted 
and learned disciple, a man after his own heart, who earned 
the distinctive title of " the Priest or Pastor," rendered 
Luther's mind easy as to the provision to be made for theo- 
logical lectures in his absence, and inspired him with re- 
newed gratitude to God. His pulpit ministrations he assigned 
to Feldkerchen."^ He had now only to think of his journey ; 
and it was agreed that John Pezenstein, an Augustine brother, 
Nicolas AmsdorflF, Jerome Schurff, a professor of law, and 
Peter Suaven, a young nobleman from Denmark, who lodged 
in Melancthon's house, at their own anxious solicitation, 
should be his companions to the scene of his trial. And on 
Tuesday in Easter week, the 2nd April, bidding an affec- 
tionate farewell to Melancthon, who reluctantly remained at 
Wittenbergjt and to the many friends who were assembled 
to witness the departure, Luther and his companions mounted 
the waggon which the town council had provided for him at 
their own cost, with every regard to his own dignity and the 
honour of the cause of which he was the champion, and pro- 
ceeded on their road. The herald in the insignia of his office 
rode first; his servant on horseback followed; and Luther 
and his comrades came last in their waggon, which could be 
either opened or covered at pleasm-e. 

The same day they reached Leipsic, where the only civility 
shown was that the customary compliment of wine was offered 
to them. The next day they proceeded to Naumburg, where 

* So I gather from Lutlier's letter. De Wette, I. p. 589. 
t Bretschneider, I. p. 365. 


1521. Luther and the herakl were entertained at table by the bur- 
gomaster Grsessler. He left Naumburg early on the morrow, 
and a priest of that town sent after him a present, a portrait 
of the Italian Reformer Savonarola, accompanied by a letter, 
in which he exhorted Luther " to be manful for the truth, 
and stand by God, and God would stand by him.'^^ Luther 
took the portrait in his hand, gazed on the features, and im- 
printing a kiss, repeated what he was wont to say as often as 
the Italian Heformer was spoken of, that Savonarola had been 
a true servant of Jesus Christ. On the 4th April, they arrived 
at Weimar, where Luther had an audience with Duke John, 
who had from the first espoused his cause more openly than 
his brother the Elector, and from whom he received money 
for his journey : and he preached before him at his request. 
But at Weimar a new spectacle met his eyes. The very day 
after the citation to Luther to appear before the Diet had 
been signed by the Emperor, an edict requiring every one 
who had any of the Reformer's writings in his possession to 
carry them to the magistrates, also received the imperial sig- 
nature. It was a sop to the Papists, whom Charles was 
eager to conciliate, after that their wishes in reference to 
Luther's non-appearance had been set aside ; but it was equi- 
valent to prejudging the cause and pronouncing condemna- 
tion on Luther as a heretic, and had been employed by the 
Romanists as a means of erecting yet another barrier against 
an event so dreaded as his presence. In the streets of 
Weimar officials were seen affixing this edict to the walls. 
The herald turned round and looked at Luther, and in a hesita- 
ting tone enquired, " Well, Doctor, will you go on ? " " Yes," 
Luther returned ; " though they should kindle a fire between 
Wittenberg and Worms to reach to heaven, I will go on. I 
will confess Christ in Behemoth's mouth between his great 
teeth. "t 

* Mathes. p. 41. f Waloh. XV. p. 2173. 


The journey was next to Erfurth, which, in a letter ad- 1521. 
dressed to John Lange previous to leaving Wittenberg, the 
Ueformer had anticipated that he might be debarred from en- 
tering ; but his reception was more cordial there than it had 
been in any town which he had passed through. The Rector 
of the University, and with him Eoban Hess and Jodocus or 
Justus Jonas, a licentiate of law, and many others, in all a 
cavalcade of forty horsemen, met him at a distance of about 
two miles from the town-gate, and conducted him on his way 
and through the streets ; and at the gate a number of country 
people and of the town folk had assembled, who, as he passed, 
loudly cheered him. There was, indeed, much at Erfurth to 
excite half-painful, half- pleasureable sensations : the University 
in the library of which he had first found the Bible, the cell 
which had witnessed the vivid struggles of his earliest convic- 
tions, and outside the town the spot where religious impres- 
sions were fastened on his soul in the terrors of the thunder- 
storm. But not only these, every object in the old town 
suggested a prayer or excited a reminiscence. He passed 
through the graveyard, and marked a little cross of wood 
above the remains of a brother of his order, whom he had 
known intimately, and who had fallen asleep in Christ, and 
pointing it out to Justus Jonas observed, '^ How calmly he 

sleeps, and I ^ He sat down on the gravestone, and 

remained in deep meditation for a long time, until he was at 
length interrupted by Amsdorff and warned of the lateness of 
the hour. The next day, the 7th April, was Sunday; and 
he was earnestly requested to preach.'^ The Emperor had in- 
deed prohibited him from preaching on the way, but nothing 

* Audin says, with wilful falsehood, II. p. 86, "He demanded 
and obtained permission to preach." Seckendorft' expressly states, 
" Instanter rof^atus concionem habuit." I. p. 152. And it was Lutlier's 
maxim never to preach without a call. 


1521. was clearer to his conscience than that he was bound to obey 
God rather than man; and that God's word could not be 
bound ; and Caspar Sturm, whose inclination to Lutheranism 
had ripened into a settled persuasion by his intercourse with 
the Reformer, was not disposed to assert his authority to 
prevent a step from which he promised a blessing to himself 
and others. But had he attempted it, it would have been in 
vain. The little church of the Augustines at Erfurth was 
filled to overflowing on the report that Luther would preach ; 
and it is related by Selneccer, that in the middle of the ser- 
mon part of the outer wall of the sacred building fell down 
with a loud crash. The congregation were using all haste to 
escape from the scene of danger; but Luther raising his 
hand and elevating himself in the pulpit, called them back 
and exhorted them to composure. "Do you not understand," 
he said, " that this is a machination of Satan to hinder you 
from listening to the word of God ? Remain. Christ is Avith 
us." They returned to their places, and the Reformer con- 
tinued his discourse, which treated of the folly of trusting in 
human merit, and directed a severe censure against the vices 
of the clergy, amidst perfect tranquillity. It appears that he 
preached also in other towns and villages, as at Gotha, where 
Myconius relates * that the devil in his wrath threw down 
some stones from the church gable which had remained firm 
for two hundred years ; and Varillas mentions a town by the 
name of Andors, which is however not to be found in any 
map, either ancient or modern, where he delivered a sermon 
with so much effect, that when it was concluded the inhabi- 
tants to a man declared themselves converts to the evangelical 
doctrines. On leaving Erfurth the party was increased by 
the addition of the schoolmaster Euricius Cordus, and of 

* Walcli. XV. p. 2172. 


Justus Jonas, Professor of Law, who had contracted a warm 1521. 
friendship for Luther, and would not be deterred by any dis- 
suasion from accompanying him to his trial. 

From Erfurth he passed through Gotha to the Benedictine 
convent of Reinhardsbrunn, where he rested for the night; 
and so on to Eisenach, over ground every step of which echoed 
to the recollections of childhood. " Are you the man who 
has taken upon him to reform the Papacy? " said an officer of 
the Emperor to Luther at one of the inns on the roadside, 
looking him hard and contemptuously in the face ; " are you 
the person about whom there is all this noise ?" " Yes," the 
Reformer replied, " I am the man ; my reliance is placed in 
God, whose word and command I am obeying." " Ah ! " 
rejoined the officer, abashed by the gentleness yet firmness of 
the reply, " there is something in what you say. I am my- 
self a servant of the Emperor, but you serve a Master greater 
than mine." At Eisenach Luther was seized with severe 
illness, and it was found necessary to bleed him : the Schul- 
thess John Oswald administered a cordial which had the efiect 
of throwing him into a profound slumber, from which he 
awoke very much revived, and with the malady abated. But 
for the remainder of the journey he suffered severely from 
illness. Prom Frankfort on the Maine he wrote to Spalatin 
on Sunday the 14th April, not cheerfully, but wath un- 
diminished fortitude, "All the way from Eisenach I have 
been, and still am languishing with sickness, in such a way as 
I never experienced before. That the mandate of the Em- 
peror was published to terrify me T am well aware. But 
Christ lives; and we shall enter Worms despite all the gates 
of hell, and all the powers of the air. I send you copies of 
the imperial letters. It has not seemed good to me to write 
more until I shall be present and see what must be done, that 
I may not inflate the pride of Satan, whom I am resolved on 


1521. the contrary to contemn. Prepare my lodging for me. Fare 
thee well." Luther was too ill to derive much comfort from 
the incidents which Cochlseus enumerates, that " wherever he 
went a crowd thronged to see him : in the hotels at which he 
rested there were drinking healths, good cheer, and the de- 
lights of music : and Luther himself played on his lute, and, 
like another Orpheus, but an Orpheus shorn, and wearing a 
cowl, drew all eyes upon liim.-"'^ The Reformer paid a visit 
to the school of William Ness, the eminent geographer, at 
Frankfort, and pronounced his benediction on two of his most 
promising pupils presented to him by the master. But the 
enthusiastic reception which greeted him at every corner of 
the streets, the multitude who thought themselves too happy 
to look in his face, and only envied those who approached 
near enough to press his hand, produced such an influence on 
the fears of Cochlseus, the Dean of Frankfort, that Luther had 
not long quitted the town, when he hastened after him to 
Worms, bent on aiding the counsels of a congenial spirit such 
as Aleander, and resolved, as he said, if need should be, to 
lay down his life in defence of the Roman Church. 

However, the papistical faction of the Diet were not con- 
tent without making one more efl"ort to prevent Luther from 
entering Worms. The imperial mandate for the destruction 
of his books had failed of one part of the object which the 
Romanists had sought by it : but they reminded one another 
that natures which are the least open to the influence of 
terror are often the most easily won over by a show of kind- 
ness. Glapio, the Emperor's confessor, the connecting link 
between the party of extreme, and that of moderate Papists, 
and who was peculiarly adapted by his character, and the sen- 
timents which he ostentatiously professed, for the task of 

* Acta et Scripta, L. p. 31. 


mediator, and together with him the imperial chamberlaiuj 1521. 
Paul von Armsdorf, suddenly left Worms for the Castle of 
Ebernberg, the residence of the knight Francis Sickingen. 
Glapio with little difficulty induced Sickingen, who probably 
had his own reasons for welcoming his advice, and in fact had 
already invited Luther to his fortress, to give his countenance 
to the scheme which he had devised,"^ which was to divert 
Luther from his journey to Worms to Sickingen's fortress, 
where, in a private interview, differences might be adjusted, 
and through his own paramount influence with the Emperor the 
whole matter be satisfactorily arranged, without in any way 
either compromising the Reformer, or exposing his person to 
the perils which must await him at Worms. Sickingen's 
chaplain was Martin Bucer, one of Luther^s Heidelberg con- 
verts, the very man to fall in readily with Glapio^s suggestion, 
and second the proposition with the utmost ardour. Bucer 
was deputed to be the bearer of Sickingen's invitation, and of 
Glapio's expressions of cordial good will to Luther ; and he 
came up with the Reformer and his party when they were not 
far from Oppenheim. Luther's companions were at once 
moved by Bucer's representations, and gladly caught at 
Glapio's assurance, that every difference should be accommo- 
dated without the Reformation or its author being imperil- 
led. " Let us go," they turned to Luther and said, " to 
Ebernberg : we can rely upon Sickingen and Bucer : your 
life will be forfeited at Worms." But the Reformer never 
wavered for an instant. " My reply is," he said to Bucer, 
" that if Glapio has ought to communicate to me, he will find 
me at Worms. I obey the Emperor's command." In fact, 
the twenty-one days allow^ed in the safe-conduct were within 

* Luther attributed the scheme to the Archbishop of Mentz. Walch. 
XV. p. 2171. 

VOL. 1. Q 


1521. three days of expiring ; and had he turned aside to Ebernberg 
Castle, he would have been after that period at the mercy 
of his enemies. 

But shortly afterwards another messenger greeted Luther 
and his company, sent from Spalatin, whose fears for his friend's 
safety, shared in some measure by the Elector himself, had 
been wrought to a high pitch by all that he saw and heard, 
which the E/Oraanists studiously contrived should impress 
their adversaries with the worst forebodings. "Carry back 
this answer to your master," Luther replied to the messenger, 
and wrote down the words on paper : " that I am resolved 
and fixed to enter Worms in the name of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, although as many devils should set at me as there 
are tiles upon the housetops.""^ 

At Pfifflingheim, very near to Worms, the Reformer was 
overcome with fatigue, and lay down to refresh his energies 
with a brief slumber, on a spot near which a young elm (since 
celebrated as Luther's tree) t was planted in memorial of this 
repose, on the eve of the eventful struggle. Luther prayed 
that " his doctrine might increase, and grow like the branches 
of the elm." When he awoke from his sleep he found nume- 
rous countrj'^ people, who had gathered from all quarters on 
liearing that he was in the neighbourhood, anxiously expect- 
ing his rising — a glorious opportunity of proclaiming to them 
the Gospel of God, which he did not permit to pass unem- 
ployed. After his discourse some of them drew close around 
him, and reasoned with him on the hazard he was incurring in 

* The Acta WormatiaB have it differently — " Mihi vero, qui vocatus 
sum, decrotum et certum est ingredi urbem in nomine Domini Jesu 
Christi, et iara si scirem tot Diabolos mihi oppositos quot sunt tegulse in 
omnibus totius orbis tectis." Lat. Op. Jena?, II. p. 412. See De Wette, 
II. p. 139. Walch. XV. p. 2174. 

t This tree vcrxs struck by lightning in 1811. 


venturing to present himself before the Emperor and the 1521. 
States at Worms. The case of John Huss gave small war- 
rant for the security of a safe-conduct. He smiled at their 
remonstrances, but answered in the spirit of the sentiment 
with which he habitually solaced his misgivings, that, if his 
foes should burn him to ashes, at least they would be unable 
to burn the truth with him. 

Continuing his route, about ten o'clock on Tuesday the 16th 
April, he beheld the walls of Worms.* The herald, with his 

* Audin writes — " A la vue des vieux cliochers de la ville, il se leva 
debout sur son cliariot et se mit a chanter cet hymne, dont il avait, dit 
on, improvise les paroles et la musique a Oppeuheim deux jours aupa- 
ravant : C'est la Marseillaise de la Eeforme." II. p. 90. Notwith- 
standing that this celebrated hymn does not appear in the editions of 
Luther's hymns until 1529, I believe, with M. Audin, Peter Busch, 
and others, that it was composed at this time, and not, as is generally 
thought, some years later, when the Reformer was at Coburg. Because — 
1. The words are in themselves far more applicable to this than to any 
other period of Luther's career. 2. The same vein of thought runs 
through this hymn as the prayer which he framed expressly for this 
occasion ; and in some instances even the expressions are identical. 
3. He wrote to Melancthon from the Wartburg — " Sing by night the 
song of the Lord which I sent to you : I will sing it too ; let us be only 
anxious for the word. ' Canticum Domini in nocte mandatum canite ; 
concinam et ego : tantum pro verbo soliciti simus.' " De Wette, II. 
p. 10. To what hymn can allusion be here made but to his paraphrase 
of the 46th Psalm, "Ein feste burg ist unser Gott," &c., which answers 
exactly to the description, "canticum Domini?" And it is well 
known that whenever tidings of any calamity to the Reformation 
reached Wittenberg, he used to comfort his friends, " Come and let us 
sing the 46th Psalm." The following is an attempt to translate this 
noble hymn ; the pith and spirit of which it is hopeless to think of 
transferring to a translation : — 

Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, A tower of strength is God, 

Ein' gute Wehr unci Waften, A shield on every side, 

En hilft uus frei aus allcr Noth, A sure defence the Almighty rod. 

Die uns jest hat betroffen. Lot what e'er will betide. 

(J 2 



1521. tabard embroidered with the imperial eagle, preceded ; Luther, 
in his mouk's dress, followed, with his comrades in his waggon ; 
and Jonas and another of the party came behind on foot.^ 
Several of the Saxon nobility, Bernhard of Hirschfeld, 

Dei- alte bose Feind 
Mit Eriiste er's jest meint. 
Grots' Macht unci vielo List 
Seiii graiisam Riistung ist, 

Old Satan grim and fell, 
In sootli he knows it well ! 
His wily plots, his triple mail, 
'Gainst him are all of light avail. 

Auf Erd' ist nicht seiu's Gleichen. On earth there's none beside. 

Mit uusrer Macht ist nichts gethan 

Wir sind gar bald verloren. 

Ks streit't fiir uns der rechte Mann 

Den Gotfc hat selbst erkoren. 

Fragst du wer der ist ? 

Er heitsett Jesus Christ, 

Der Herre Zebaoth, 

Und ist kein andrer Gott, 

Das Feld muts er behalten. 

Und wenn die Welt voU Teufel war', 
Und wollten uns verschlingen. 
So fiirchten vvir uus nicht so sehr 
Es soil uns doch gelingen. 
Der Fiirste dieser Welt, 
Wie sauer er sich steUt, 
Thut er uns doch nicht ; 
Das macht ; er ist gericht't 
Ein Wortlein kann ihn fallen. 

Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn 
Und kein'n Dank dazu haben. 
Er ist bei uns wohl auf dem Plan, 
Mit seinem Geist und Gaben. 
Nehmen sie uns den Leib, 
Gut, Ehre, Kind und Welb : 
Lats fahven dahin ! 
Sie haben's kein'n Gewinn 
Das Reich nints uns doch bleiben. 

See M, L.'s 

Our toil and pains are empty cost. 

With human might all's quickly lost. 

He fights for us, and fights alone, 

God's chosen true eternal One. 

Ask'st thou his name ? He's God's own Son, 

Christ Jesus, Lord and Kmg, 

Of Sabaoth God, save Him 

None other God and King : 

The field he keeps, the victory won. 

And though the world with devils swarm. 
With open mouth and fierce alarm : 
Their wildest rage can nought us harm : 
Tlieu' spite and guile shall perish. 
The haughty Prince of this world's den 
Can work no hurt to faithful men. 
How grim soe'er he look. 
One word from out the book, 
God's book, will make hun vanish. 

God's word! no fiend shall quench its force. 
No thanks for that ! unmoved its base. 
He guides us safely in our course : 
At every turn we feel we trace 
His Spirit's gifts, his Spirit's grace. 
Let them take child and wife. 
Let them take gold and life. 
Small is their utmost gain : 
Our wealth shall still remain. 
Geistliche Liedia- von Wachernngel, p. 55 ; 

and Anhang. p. 155. 

* See tlic account of Veit Warbeck, an oyo-witncss, iu Seckejidorff, 
1. p. 152. 


John Schott, and Albert of Lindenau^ and many of the 1521. 
courtiers of the princes in attendance on the Diet, were 
waiting the Reformer's arrival outside the city, and formed 
an escort or guard round his waggon in the procession 
through the streets. The inhabitants were all at their noon- 
day meal; but as soon as the watchman on the church 
tower descried the costume of the herald, he blew his trumpet, 
and in a few instants the deserted streets were moving with a 
crowded scene of human heads — Germans, Spaniards, and 
Italians, peasants, nobles, princes, and mechanics, mingled in 
the throng to witness the entrance of the monk of Wittenberg. 
The first sight which confronted his eyes in the streets of 
Worms was a mournful and ill-omened pageant. A man, 
dressed in grotesque attire, appeared, bearing a cross, as is 
customary in Popish countries before a corpse carried out for 
interment, and chaunting in dismal cadence notes which 
sounded like a prophetic requiem — 

" At lengtli thou art come, O longed for one, 
• In our dark abode we waited thee." 

But the crowd was vast and impatient, and, hurrying eacii 
before his fellow to catch a glimpse of Luther, soon shut out 
from view the lofty cross and the strange bearer, who was no 
other than Beffler, the court fool of one of the Dukes of 
Bavaria, who chose this quaint style of representing his sense 
of the transparent folly of a poor monk in doing battle against 
the great ones of the earth. Luther's waggon moved with much 
difficulty through the increasing throng, and at length halted 
before the hotel of the Knights of Rhodes, (on the same side 
of the street, and very near to the inn known by the sign of 
the Swan, in which the Elector Palatine was lodging,) where 
the Electoral Councillors, Frederic von Thun, and Philip von 
Feilitsch had taken up their quarters, with whom the Re- 


1521. former was to sliarc accommodations. Almost directly after 
his arrival, he sent information to Glapio, that if he desired to 
speak with him, he was now in Worms, but received the 
answer " that an interview would no longer be of any use." 
The Elector of Saxony received the intelligence of Luther's 
arrival with manifest pleasure; the Archbishop of Mentz 
looked blank with astonishment.* General opinion had pre- 
dicted that Luther would never dare to enter Worms. 

There was no rest for Luther after the fatigues of travelling 
and the harass of excitement. All the evening, and until 
deep in the night, visitors in unprecedented numbers, so that, 
as the Elector Frederic said, " never was prince so honoured," 
flocked to the hotel to feast their curiosity with the spectacle 
of one whose daring and reputation contrasted so forcibly with 
his humble origin and poverty. Princes, counts, barons, 
knights and nobles, priests and laymen, are stated to have 
jostled one another at this unanticipated levee of the Re- 
former; and as one tide of visitants ebbed, there was a full 
flow of more to supply their room. William Duke of Bruns- 
wick, and Prince William of Henneburg, are expressly men- 
tioned among the shoals of the curious. The surprise was 
universal at the striking serenity of the Reformer's coun- 
tenance, which, to some, seemed to breathe divine peace, to 
others bore the impress of Satanic temper and resolution. 
Luther was prevented from retiring to rest until a very late 
hour, and he slept that night but little : he walked up and 
down his chamber, turning to the window and looking up at 
the starlit heavens, as was his custom when engaged in 
meditation and prayer ; and sometimes he touched his lute, 
and the air and words of some of his favourite hymns deep- 
ened his composure. 

* "And liad I been as great a coward as the Archbishop of Mentz," 
Luther observed, " no doubt I never should have come." 


At eight o'clock the next morning, Uhic Pappenheim, the 1521, 
imperial hereditary Grand Marshal, who was lodging in the 
same hotel, officially cited Luther to appear at four o'clock in 
the afternoon of the same day before his Imperial Majesty and 
the States of the empire, to hear for what purpose he had 
been summoned. The forenoon of Wednesday, the 17th 
April, the Reformer employed in prayer, beseeching God to 
carry through and determine his own cause : and when the 
Grand Marshal with the herald appeared to conduct him to the 
Diet, he was in readiness and quite calm. The herald pre- 
ceded ; then the Marshal ; and Luther followed. The win- 
dows of the houses along the route were blocked up with tiers 
of faces ; and the roof tops here and there were covered with 
spectators. But it was soon evident that, from the density of 
the crowd, a passage through the streets would be attended 
with great difficulty ; and^ accordingly, the herald adopted a 
circuitous route, and conducted the Reformer through the 
garden of the Knights of Rhodes along the backs of houses, 
and led him by a private staircase directly opposite the Town 
Hall, in which the Diet was sitting. But even so the popu- 
lace rushed through the alleys and courts, and even forced 
their way through houses to obtain a sight of " the wonder 
man." At the Town Hall the multitude formed a complete 
block, and it was necessary that a path should be cleared by 
the imperial soldiery; but, as Luther passed, some voices from 
the crowd declared the popular sympathy — "Blessed is the 
womb that bare thee." In the vestibule of the Town Hall 
not only the area, but every vacant niche and window recess 
Avere filled with courtiers or their dependents, who were so lucky 
as to obtain admission. And at the door of the room Luther 
was met by the veteran George Freundsberg, whose name 
with the Germans of that age was the symbol of gallantry. 
" My monk, my good monk," the great soldier said, putting 


■l 221 ^^is hand on Luther's shoukler, " you are going a path such as 
I and our captains in our hardest fight have never trodden. 
But if you are sure of your cause, go on in God's name ; fear 
not ; He will not leave you." 

The doors of the room were thrown open, and Luther was 
ushered into the presence of the full array of the assembled 
wisdom and grandeur of the empire. The Emperor had the 
three ecclesiastical Electors on the right of his throne, the 
three secular Electors on the left ; at his feet on either side the 
two Nuncios ; his brother Ferdinand sat on a chair of state a 
step below the throne. The sun, verging to its setting, was 
streaming full on the scene of worldly magnificence, so 
strangely varied by every colour and form of dress. The 
Spanish cloak of yellow silk, the velvet and ermine of the 
Electors, the red robes of Cardinals, the violet robes of Bishops, 
the plain sombre garb of the deputies of towns and jurists, 
and the monk's shorn head, were encircled with the dark 
flashing line of the mailed chivalry of Germany. A profound 
stillness marked the universal interest and anxiety, which was 
interrupted for a moment as Luther entered, by many of the 
Germans rising from their seats — a movement of homage 
rather than of curiosity, which even the presence of the Em- 
peror failed to restrain. And then the silence was as un- 
broken as before. 

Luther seemed at first bewildered; on observing which, 
some of the nobles near him whispered, " Fear not them 
which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul." 
"When 3''ou are called before governors and kings, do not 
premeditate, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom," &c. 
'^ Only speak," said Pappenheim, "in answer to the ques- 
tions put to you." The guards moved on clearing a way ; 
and presently Luther stood immediately in front of the throne 
of Charles V. 


Those assembled in tlie hall included the Emperor, the 1521. 
sovereign of half Europe, besides illimitable territories across 
the Atlantic ; his brother, the Archduke Ferdinand, who had 
been placed over the five Austrian duchies, and was subse- 
quently King of the Romans, and finally wielded the sceptre 
of the empire ; six electors, each a sovereign prince ; twenty- 
seven dukes, two landgraves, seven margraves, twentj'-one 
archbishops and bishops, besides abbots ; the deputies of ten 
free cities, princes, counts, barons, eight ambassadors, amongst 
them the representatives of England and France, and the 
two nuncios of his Holiness, in all more than two hundred 
personages of the highest rank in Germany or Spain.'^ And 
in the midst of this assembled group of earthly potentates 
there stood a man worn out with toil and study, and enfeebled 
with recent sickness, in his monk's frock, on whom every eye 
was bent, from Charles to his guards, who was there arraigned 
because he had dared to remind mankind of the supreme 
authority of God^s Word. 

It was expected that Glapio, the Emperor's confessor, 
would be the spokesman of the Diet : but instead of this, 
John Eck, the Chancellor of the Archbishop of Treves, a dis- 
tinct person from the theologian, rose, and in a sonorous voice 
repeated, first in Latin and then in German, these words : — 
" JNIartin Luther, his sacred and invincible Majesty has cited 
you before his throne, according to the advice of all orders of 
the Sacred Koman Empire, to interrogate you on two sub- 
jects. First, whether you acknowledge these writings,'' and 
as he spoke he pointed to a bundle of books in Latin and 
German, " which bear your name, to be yours. And secondly, 
whether you will retract and recall them and their contents, 
or on the contrary will persist and persevere in them." 

* AValch. XV. pp. 2225—2231. 


3521. Jerome SchurfF, the lawyer, was by the side of his friend, 
and cried out aloud, " Let the titles be read." The Chan- 
cellor read the titles of the treatises, mentioning among them 
Luther's Commentary on the Psalms, on the Lord's Prayer, his 
tract on good works, and other writings not of a controversial 
nature. After which Luther replied, not without a little 
faltering and indistinctness of voice, first in Latin and then in 
German, as follows : — " His Imperial Majesty proposes to me 
two questions. As regards the first, I cannot but confess 
that the books just named are mine, and I will never deny 
any of them. As regards the second, since it is a question 
concerning faith, and the salvation of souls, and affects the 
Word of God, than which nothing is greater in heaven and in 
earth, which we are all bound to revere, it would be alike rash 
and dangerous to advance anything without due considera- 
tion, for I might say less or more than the circumstances and 
the truth warrant, and in either case I should fall under the 
condemnation of Christ : ' Whosoever shall deny me before 
men, him will I deny before my Father which is in heaven.' 
I therefore as a suppliant implore his Imperial Majesty to 
grant me time for deliberation, that I may answer the enquiry 
without wrong to the Divine Word, and hazard to my own 

The Diet rose to consider this request. Charles and his 
ministers retired to one chamber ; the electors and the 
princes to another ; the deputies of the free cities to a third. 
The Emperor had eyed the Reformer very narrowly, and 
before rising observed to a courtier near his person, "Cer- 
tainly that man would never make a heretic of me." After a 
short time spent in consultation, the members of the Diet re- 
turned to their seats. It was agreed that the request should 
be granted. Eck again rose and said, " Martin Luther, 
although you might have understood from the imperial man- 


date for what purpose you were summoned^ and on that ac- 1521. 
count are unworthy to have a longer time for deliberation 
allowed you, nevertheless his Imperial Majesty, of his innate 
clemency, grants you an indulgence of one day, and com- 
mands you to appear to-morrow before him at the same hour, 
on condition that you answer not by writing, but by word of 
raouth." Luther bowed his acknowledgments ; and the herald 
came forward, and conducted him back to his hotel. 

In the seclusion of his own apartment Luther sat down to 
indite a letter to the imperial councillor Cuspinianus, in 
which, after a brief statement of what had just passed, and a 
reference to the ordeal of the morrow, he adds, " I shall not 
retract an iota, by the grace of Christ/^ Meanwhile the fer- 
mentation in men's minds, which the events of the day and 
the anticipation of the conclusive scene of the next day had 
heightened to intensity, resulted in considerable uproar and 
commotion in the streets of Worms. The Spaniards of the 
middle class sympathised cordially with Luther ; for the ex- 
ertions of their own Cortes against the Inquisition and its 
functionaries, resembled the struggle of the German patriot 
and Reformer against the rapacity and tyranny of sacer- 
dotalism; but the upper classes of the nobility, led by the 
sanguinary Alva, raved of Luther as the incarnation of evil. 
Violent passions grew more violent by collision. The Spanish 
nobility made an attack on the booksellers' stalls which were 
supposed to contain writings of Luther or Hutten : the Ger- 
man populace took part with the insulted booksellers; and 
frequent scuffles and fights ensued. Again, some paintings 
posted in public, particularly over the lodging of the Elector 
of Saxony, occasioned grievous offence to the Homanists. 
The ark of God was represented as borne by Hutten and 
Luther : Erasmus appeared in front, and John Huss in rear 
of the ark, which was surmounted with two cups. And vari- 


1521. ous caricatures of Aleander circulated amongst the populace."^ 
Besides paintings and engravings, verses of Hutten and of 
Hermann Buscli the Westphalian poet, who was then in 
Worms, parodies f f^nd satires, in derision of the Nuncios, the 
Pope and Cardinals, and all that was Roman, contributed to 
stimulate Spanish bigotry and ferocity, as well as to kindle 
the passion and fire of German nationality. The threat re- 
sounded that the heretic should perish at the stake; and the 
answer reverberated, that, if so, the fire should be quenched 
in the blood of the Papists. 

Before the dawn of the 18th April, the Privy Council of 
the Papist faction, Glapio, Aleander, Eck, and Cochlreus, had 
met in conclave, and were busied for some time in determin- 
ing the course which it would be incumbent on them to p "r- 
sue. On the other hand, the Reformer in his chamber was 
preparing for the decisive ordeal on his knees before God. 
He glanced over his writings ; endeavoured to throw his an- 
swer into a proper shape ; studied the Word of God in its 
most applicable passages; and again prayed fervently. Ex- 
postulating in the fervour of devotion, he said, " Almighty, 
Eternal God, how there is but one thing to be seen upon 
earth ! How the people open wide their mouths ! How small 
and slight is the trust of man in God ! How is the flesh so 
tender and weak, and the devil so mighty and powerful 
through his apostles and worldly-wise ones ! How does the 
world draw back the hand and hum, as it runs the common 
track, the broadway to hell, the portion of the godless ! And 
it looks only and merely at Avhat is commanding and power- 

* Pallav. I. p. 39. 

t See tlie German Litany, Walcli. XV. p. 2175, of wliicli the follow- 
ing may serve as a sample : — 

From Annates, Good Lord deliver us. 

!From wrath, Good Lord deliver Aleander. 


ful^ strong and mighty, and bears a goodly mien. If I should 1521. 
turn mine eyes thitherwards, it would be all over with me ; 
my doom decided ; and my sentence passed ! O God ! O 
God ! My God, O thou my God ! stand by me against all 
the world^s reason and wisdom ; Thou must do it ; Thou alone ; 
for it is not my cause but thine ; I have nothing to do for 
mine own self; nothing to do with these great lords of the 
world ; I would have good, peaceable days, and be free from 
tumult. But it is thy cause. Lord ! the true eternal cause ! 
Stand by me, thou true eternal God ! I trust in no man. 
It is in vain and to no purpose all that is flesh, it is lame and 
halt, all that savours of flesh, O God ! my God ! Hearest 
thou not, my God ! art thou dead ? No. Thou canst not 
die. Thou only hidest thyself. Hast thou chosen me to 
this ? I ask of thee that I may be assured thereof, if it be 
thy will ; for all my life long I never thought to have to do 
with such great lords. I have not taken it upon myself, O 
God ! Stand by me in the name of thy dear Son, Jesu 
Christ, who shall be my defence and shelter, yea, my fast 
tower through the might and the strength of thy Holy Ghost. 
Lord ! where abidest thou ? Thou, my God ! Avhere art thou ? 
Come ! come ! I am ready to lay down my life patiently as a 
lamb. For the cause is right, and it is thine. I shall never 
be separated from thee ! Be this determined in thy name ! 
The world must leave my conscience unconstrained. And 
though it be full of devils, and my body, thy handiwork and 
creation, go to the ground, and be rent to fragments and 
dust, it is but the body ; for thy word is sure to me ; and 
my soul is thine, to thee it belongeth, and shall abide with 
thee to eternity. Amen. God help me. Amen.^' •^ 

Hising from prayer, and placing his left hand on the volume 

* Keil. p. 100. 


1521. of Scripture open on the table before him^ and raising his 
right hand to heaven, he swore never to forsake the truth of 
God, but, should it be God's will, to seal his testimony with 
his blood. 

Four o'elock struck quickly amidst such wrestlings with 
Jehovah, and the herald presented himself with the grand 
marshal, as on the previous day, to conduct Luther to the 
Town Hall. When they arrived at the vestibule of the hall 
the Diet was in deep deliberation ; and two hours intervened 
before Luther was admitted to their presence. Two hours of 
expectancy, adding to the severity of the trial ! And it was 
thought that Aleander and his clique had calculated upon the 
influence of this delay and had purposely arranged it, that 
the uproar on all sides, the blending of confused sounds, and 
the harassing influence of suspense, might shake the equili- 
brium of the mind, and render it weak for the hour of trial that 
was to succeed. The hall was illuminated by torches, which, 
flashing on rich dresses and proud high-born features, made 
the scene more imposing, when Luther was ushered, as on 
the preceding audience, to his place in front of the throne. 
Charles was there as before, grave and thoughtful, the same 
Spanish dress, with the ostrich plume and the chain of pearls, 
from which hung the order of the Golden Fleece ; but Luther 
gazed upon his sovereign with a calm fixed eye, an index of 
his inward tranquillity. There was no bewilderment of man- 
ner or look ; no embarrassment, as on the previous day ; the 
most common observer could predict that when the moment 
to answer should come, there would be no trembling in the 

The Chancellor of the Elector of Treves rose and said, first 
in Latin and then in German, " Martin Luther, although you 
had no right to demand a longer period for deliberation, inas- 
much as you were well aware of the purpose for which you 


were summoned, and a matter of faith ought to be so 1521. 
grounded in the minds of all, that any one, at whatever time 
he might be questioned, should be able to render a sure and 
settled reason for it ; Come, then, and answer the imperial 
demand. Do you maintain all the books you have acknow- 
ledged to be yours ? or are you willing to retract anything? '' 
In a suppliant and modest tone, without the least vehe- 
mence, but with the firmness of Christian courage,^ Luther 
answered : " Most serene Emperor, most illustrious Princes, 
most gracious Lords, I appear before you obediently at the 
time appointed me yesterday evening, entreating, by the 
mercy of God, that your most serene Majesty, and your 
most illustrious Lordships, will deign to hear with clemency 
this cause, as I believe, of justice and truth. And, if through 
my ignorance, I should fail to give to any one his proper titles, 
or in any way whatsoever offend against the manners and 
habits of courts, that you will kindly pardon me, for I have 
lived not in courts, but cloisters, and can testify only this of 
myself, that, so far, I have taught and written with such sim- 
plicity of heart, as to regard only the glory of God, and the 
sincere edification of the faithful in Christ. Most serene 
Emperor, most illustrious Princes, to those two articles pro- 
posed to me yesterday by your most serene Majesty, viz., 
whether I recognised the books published in my name as 
mine? and whether I persevered in their defence, or was 
willing to retract them ? I gave my ready and plain answer 
on the former article, in which I still persist, and shall per- 
sist, and shall for ever persist, viz., that they are my books, 
and were published in my name by myself, unless, perchance, 
by my rivals^ cunning or dishonest wisdom, ought have been 

* Quanquam supplicitci', non claniosc ac modeste, non tamen siuo 
Christiana animositate et coustantia. 


1521. cliaiigedj or unfairly omitted ; I acknowledge nothing but 
what is truly my own, written by myself aloue, and have no- 
thing to do with the construction which may be industriously 
attached to it. 

"In replying to the other question, I entreat your most 
serene Majesty and your Lordships will deign to consider that 
my books are not all of the same kind. There are some in 
which I have handled the faith and piety of manners so 
simply and evangelically, that my adversaries themselves arc 
compelled to confess them to be useful, harmless, and w^orthy 
of a Christian's perusal. Nay, the bull, fierce and cruel as it 
is, declares some of them harmless, although it condemns even 
these by a judgment which is truly monstrous. Should I 
then retract these, what should I do but, alone of all men, 
condemn that truth which my foes and friends alike ac- 
knowledge, struggling singly against the common consent. 

" The second class of my writings inveighs against the 
Papacy, and the doctrine of the Papists, as persons who, by 
their foul doctrines and examples, have wasted Christendom 
with evils both spiritual and temporal. No one can deny 
this, nor pretend that it is not so. The experience of all, 
and of the whole world, is witness that, by the laws of the 
Pope and by the doctrines of men, the consciences of the 
faithful have been most miserably entangled, vexed, and tor- 
tured, their property and substance, especially in this re- 
nowned nation of Germany, by incredible tyranny, devoured, 
and, up to this very day, devoured without end and by shame- 
ful means; although, by their own laws, they provide that 
the laws and doctrines of the Pope, if contrary to the Gospel, 
or the sentiments of the Fathers, shall be accounted erroneous 
and reprobate. 

" If then I recall these, what else shall I do but add strength 
to tyranny, and throw wide open not only the windows, but 


the doors to gross impiety, which will stalk more widely and 1521. 
freely than it has hitherto ever dared. By such revocation 
the reign of their iniquity will become most licentious and 
unabashed, utterly intolerable to the poor vulgar ; it will be 
strengthened and established, especially if it be noised abroad 
that I acted by the authority of your most serene Majesty 
and the whole Roman Empire. O ! good God ! what a 
cloak I should be made to cover iniquity and tyranny ! 

" The third class of my writings is addressed to some private 
individuals, who laboured to defend the Roman tyranny and 
to overthrow the doctrine which I taught. I confess that I 
have been more bitter towards them than becomes my reli- 
gion or profession. I do not rank myself as a saint ; nor is 
the dispute about my life, but about the doctrine of Christ. 
But I cannot retract even these, because by such retractation 
tyranny and impiety would reign, and oppress the people of 
God more violently than even heretofore. 

" I am but a man, and not God, and can uphold my books 
in no other way than that in which the Lord Jesus Christ 
himself maintained his doctrine. When he Avas questioned 
before the High Priest Annas, and buffeted, he said, ' If I 
have spoken evil bear witness to the evil.' If the Lord him- 
self, who knew that he could not err, did not refuse to hear 
testimony against his own doctrine, even from the vilest slave, 
how much more ought I, who am but the scum of men, and 
can do nought but err, to require and expect what testimony 
may be rendered against my doctrine ? 

" I implore by the mercy of God that your most serene 
Majesty, and your most illustrious Lordships, and whosoever 
can, be he of the highest or lowest grade, will render testi- 
mony against it, convince me of my errors, and disprove them 
by the writings of the Prophets and Evangelists. I shall be 

VOL. I. R 


1521. most ready, if thus convinced, to retract every error, and will 
be the first to throw my writings to the flames. 

" From this I think it clear that I have sufficiently weighed 
the dangers and hazards, the emulations and dissensions, of 
which my doctrine has been the occasion in the world, on 
which subject I was gravely and strongly admonished yester- 
day. It pleases me most of all to see the Word of God the 
occasion of emulations and dissensions ; for such is the course 
of God's word, its consequence and issue, as he says, ' I came 
not to send peace, but a sword — I came to set a man against 
his father,' &c. 

" Let us reflect, therefore, how our God is wonderful and 
terrible in counsel, lest if we begin by condemning the Word 
of God, which all this heat is aiming at, it prove the opening 
of an intolerable deluge of evils, and the reign of our youthful 
illustrious Emperor (in whom, next to God, our hope is 
placed) be clouded by an untoward and inauspicious com- 

'' I could adduce many instances from Scripture of mo- 
narchs, of Egypt, Babylon, and Israel, who never lost them- 
selves so much as when, by their own wise counsels, they 
laboured to pacify and strengthen their realms. He it is who 
taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and overthroweth the 
mo\intains, and they know it not. To fear is the work of 
God. I do not say this because such noble potentates need 
my instruction or admonition, but because I am bound to pay 
the service which I owe to my beloved Germany. With these 
words I commend me to your most serene Majesty and your 
Lordships, humbly imploring that you will not suff'er me, 
through the zeal of my enemies, to become odious to you 
without a cause. My speech is said." 

Luther delivered this answer in German, and, when he had 


finished it^ he was quite overcome and exhusted with the 1521, 
exertion. The Chancellor requested him to repeat what he 
had just stated in Latin. The Emperor was not partial to 
German, and understood it very imperfectly. Although Fre- 
deric von Thun^ who stood at the Reformer's side at the 
Elector's command, as the Knight Chum had stood by John 
Huss at Constance, to ward off any sudden violence, ob- 
serving his fatigue, intimated to him, " If you are exhausted, 
what you have said is enough ;" after a few moments' respite, 
Luther recommenced, and went through the whole in Latin : 
the facility with which he did this gave the utmost satisfac- 
tion to the Elector of Saxony. The speech in German and 
Latin occupied two hours. 

At the conclusion the Chancellor remarked, in a chiding 
tone, " You have not answered to the point. The doctrines 
condemned and defined by Councils cannot be brought into 
question. Give a simple and direct answer. Will you re- 
tract, or will you not ? " 

Luther, unmoved, replied, " Since your most serene Ma- 
jesty and your Lordships require a simple and direct answer, I 
will give one as simple as language can express. Unless I am 
convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or plain reason — (for 
I do not believe in the Pope, nor in Councils alone, for it is 
certain they have often erred, and have contradicted them- 
selves) — unless I am convicted by the texts which I have ad- 
duced (and my conscience is a captive to the Word of God), I 
cannot retract, nor will I retract anything, for to act against 
my conscience is neither safe nor honest. Here I stand : I 
can do no otherwise : God help me. Amen." 

An indistinct murmur of applause, which even the imperial 
presence could not quite overawe and suppress, ran through 
the Hall at these words. And Charles himself half reversed 
his opinion of the previous day, and said, " The monk speaks 


1521. boldly with confident courage.'^ The Chancellor resumed — 
" If you do not retract, the Emperor and the States of the 
Empire will know how to deal with an irreclaimable heretic." 

"God help ma/' Luther exclaimed emphatically, "for I 
can retract nothing." 

The Reformer left the Hall, and the assembled potentates 
proceeded to deliberate. But the blow dealt that day to the 
power of Kome, seemed to the papal satellites fraught with 
such formidable consequences, that they resolved to make 
yet another attempt to avert it ; and Luther was recalled. 
"Martin," it was said to him, "you have answered more 
boldly than beseems your character, and, moreover, not to the 
purpose. You make a division of your books without any 
bearing on your answer. Had you retracted those in which 
a large part of your errors is contained, without doubt his im- 
perial Majesty, of his innate clemency, would not permit the 
desti'uction of those which are good. You revive doctrines 
which the Council of Constance has condemned, and you 
demand to be refuted by Scripture, which is thorough doatiug. 
To what purpose is a new disputation on matters condemned 
by the Church and a Council, unless peradventure a reason 
should be given on whatsoever subject to whosoever may 
require it. If he who impugns Councils and the sense of 
the Church must be convinced by Scripture, there will be 
no point in Christianity sure and determined. On this 
account his imperial Majesty demands of you a simple and a 
plain answer, in the negative or aflfirmative. Do you defend 
all your doctrines as Catholic ? or, are you willing to retract 
any of them?" 

Luther replied with gentleness and modesty — "My con- 
science is a captive to the Holy Scriptures. His imperial 
Majesty must not suffer me to be forced to retract without 
plain proofs on the part of my opponents. I have given a 


simple and direct answer^ and I have no other to give. The 1521. 
decrees of Councils are not necessarily true : nay, Councils 
have erredj and have often contradicted one another. Hence 
the invalidity of my opponents' arguments. I can show that 
Councils have erred, and cannot revoke doctrines which are 
clearly and emphatically laid down in Scripture.'''^ 

The official merely replied, that '' it could not be proved 
that Councils had erred.'' To which Luther answered, that 
" he certainly could prove it, and would undertake to do so." 
But it was now impossible to press that point any farther : 
the Reformer's language had been decided and unmistake- 
able : and he was dismissed by the Diet. 

It quickly circulated through the city that Luther in the 
most positive terms had refused to revoke, and had been in 
consequence unequivocally condemned. And when he was 
observed to be conducted away from the Town Hall by the 
officers, in the dark of the evening, the rumour spread in all 
quarters that he was led away to be consigned to prison. 
Some noblemen shouted to him, " Whither are they taking 
you?" "To my hotel," Luther answered ;t and thus the 
public anxiety was pacified, and a tumult which was on the 
point of breaking out prevented. Some of the Spanish nobi- 
lity, however, and their dependants, who were wont to parade 
the streets proudly on their mules, and would never let an op- 
portunity slip to show their national contempt for the Ger- 
mans, vented their idle malice on the Reformer, by following 
on his track through the dim streets, with scoffs and mock- 
ings, like the howling of wild beasts. 

On Luther's return full of joy to his hotel, Spalatin and 
his other friends joined him. Their feelings were in perfect 

* Quod sedulo palam expressum sit in Scriptura. 
t Walch. XV. p. 2234. 


1521. unison, and breathed fervent gratitude to God. " Had I a 
thousand lives/^ Luther said, " I would lay them all down 
rather than retract a word."* In the midst of general con- 
gratulations a servant entered bearing a silver can of Einbeck 
beer. Luther enquired who had sent him this token of his 
regard ; and was informed that the aged Duke Eric of Bruns- 
wick, a partisan of Rome, who had drunk out of it himself 
first, had sent it him with the hope of aflFording him refresh- 
ment after his fatigue. Luther was parched with thirst, 
raised the can to his lips, took a long draught, and then 
putting it down, said, " As Duke Eric has remembered me 
this day, so may our Lord Christ remember him in his last 
struggle ! " t And it is related, that as Duke Eric was dying 
he thought on Luther's words, and begged one of those by his 
bedside to read some portion of the New Testament to him ; 
and the Saviour's promise was read, " Whosoever shall give to 
drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the 
name of a disciple, verily I say unto you. He shall in no wise 
lose his reward." This incident is important, as implying the 
remarkable impression which Luther's bearing before the Diet 
had produced, even on those who were strongly the antagonists 
of his religious sentiments. 

The table was spread for supper in the apartment of the 
Elector of Saxony when Spalatin returned to his patron. 
They had fasted long; and the water had already been 
brought in for washing the hands; but Frederic could not 
satisfy the calls of appetite until he had beckoned his secre- 
tary! iii^o his retiring-room, and given expression to his de- 
light. " I am filled with joy : how nobly Luther spoke before 

* Walch. XV. p. 2235. 
t Keil. p. 102. 

X Winckten sie mir iu ilire kamer zii folgen. Walch. XV. p. 2247. 
Seckend. I. p. 157. 


the Diet ! my only apprehension was lest he should say too 1521. 
much." And he requested Spalatin to report what he had 
said to Luther. Bitterly did Aleander and his coterie blame 
their own shortsightedness in allowing the Reformer to speak 
at all, or at least in not interrupting the current of his re- 
marks. His words had told too powerfully. Some, before 
steadfast in adherence to Rome, had been shaken in their 
constancy; others, who had wavered from side to side, had 
become decided in the conviction that the evangelical tenets 
were true : the Elector of Saxony, and the nobles who had 
before been friendly to the Reformation, had acquired fresh 
boldness and determination. 

But Aleander and his conclave still built largely on the 
Catholic temper and constancy of the Emperor ; and in the 
warmth of his hopes the Nuncio did not hesitate to speak of 
Charles V, as "■ the most sincere spirit that had been born 
into the world for a thousand years." Events proved that 
they might reckon with more certainty on his attachment to 
their cause on the motive of temporary expediency. The 
next day, Friday, a message relating to the proposed treat- April 19. 
ment of Luther was written by the Emperor in French 
in his own hand, and was by his command read aloud the 
following day in the Diet. It was to this effect : " Our 
ancestors, Emperors of Germany, Kings of Spain, Archdukes 
of Austria, Dukes of Burgundy, were all obedient to the 
Roman See from the cradle to the last moment of their lives. 
Their ordinances they handed down for us to observe ; and 
we must tread in the footsteps of our excellent fathers. Hence 
I am resolved to maintain the decrees of the holy Council of 
Constance and all the other Councils. And since one monk, 
deceived by self-opinion, wishes to raise his judgment above 
that of all Christendom, were his judgment true, it would 
be hard to believe that all Christendom has been so long in 


1521. error : but as it is most false, and a diabolical invention, I will 
sacrifice my kingdoms, my empire, power, friends, body, 
blood, life, and soul, rather than that this sad beginning 
should proceed further ; considering that such an issue would 
be to my great dishonour and disgrace, as well as that of the 
renowned nation of Germany, the vindicators of justice, pro- 
tectors and defenders of the Catholic faith. And whereas we 
yesterday heard the obstinate reply which Luther made to us, 
I assure you by this my own writing, and certainly affirm, 
that it pains me in my heart to have delayed so long to pro- 
ceed against the aforesaid Luther; and I recommend that he 
be reconducted home according to the tenor of the safe- 
conduct, with the understanding that the conditions named in 
it be strictly observed — that he shall not preach, write, nor be 
in any way the occasion of popular riot. And for Avhat re- 
mains I am determined to proceed against him as against a 
manifest heretic, and demand that your resolutions be such 
as becomes good and faithful Christians, as you are and as 
you have promised." 

This message gave deep umbrage to many members of the 
Diet ; for Charles had failed to observe the established custom 
of asking first the opinion of the States, and had acted on 
his own arbitrary will. It occupied their attention the whole 
of the Saturday, and occasioned a very warm and passionate 
debate. The Elector of Brandenburg, as the mouthpiece of 
Aleander, and his own brother of Mentz, revived the doctrine 
that a promise is not to be kept to a heretic, and instanced as 
a precedent the execution of John Huss by the Council of 
Constance. This was the object at which the extreme Papists 
were now driving — the violation of the safe-conduct, and the 
destruction of Luther. But the Elector Palatine, who was 
very favourable to a reformation of the Church, rejected this 
counsel with disdain, and declared that neither victory nor 


prosperity had blest Germany since that treacherous act of 1521. 
burning Huss, but many calamities had befallen her in just 
retribution of perjury. Duke George of Saxony also charac- 
terised the perfidy recommended as " unbefitting the ancient 
good faith of the Germans.'' But there is no reason to sup- 
pose that, under the circumstances of the period, even if the 
Elector of Brandenburg's proposition had met with less 
strenuous resistance, it could ever have been carried into exe- 
cution. Some noblemen assured Luther himself, that if a 
hand were laid on him for harm, there should be blood for 
blood. A sci'oll was found in the Emperor's bedchamber, nor 
could the least clue as to whose hand had put it there be dis- 
covered, with these words inscribed on it, " Woe to the land 
whose king is a child." And a placard appeared on the doors 
of the Town Hall threatening ruin to the Archbishop of Mentz, 
which four hundred knights had pledged their word to exe- 
cute ; and it was added that the writer would do " some great 
harm at the head of eight thousand foot soldiers. Bundschuh ! 
Bundschuh ! Bundschuh ! " '^ The Archbishop was so much 
moved by this menacing notice that he swooned away on his 
seat. The Emperor merely remarked, with a smile, that he 
" doubted not the four hundred would prove like Mutius' three 
hundred, only one man." However, the popular resentment 
could not be aroused without the most imminent danger to 
all who should be concerned in any act of severity to Luther's 

It was known that the castle of Ebernburg, at an easy dis- 
tance, was crowded with the Reformer's staunch supporters, 
that every eye was turned to Worms, and that Hutten was 
amongst them, who had addressed letters of warning to the 
Emperor and the States, and had twice written in animating 

* The gathering cry of the peasanti'y in the insurrections of 1501-2. 


1521. and warlike terms to " the invincible theologian and evange- 
list Martin Luther, my saintly friend." " There is a great 
difference between your undertaking and mine/^ he wrote to 
Luther ; " I rely on man's arm, you on God only.'' Many, 
he told the Reformer, came to him with the expression of 
their earnest hopes that Luther would remain steadfast. " Ah," 
he replied to them, " I see you want to be Luther." ^ To 
such a spirit, more Lutheran than Luther himself, to whom 
the struggle against Rome was the breath of his life, the in- 
spirer of a large section of Germans who were not too loyally 
inclined to the Emperor, it was thoroughly understood by the 
Court that the most daring scheme would be the most accept- 
able. Indeed, Hutten was at this time negociating a league 
between the cities and the nobles, with a view to overthrowing 
the power of the ecclesiastical princes. He had Luther's 
works read at Sickengen's table; and had conceived some 
very ambitious designs for Sickengen himself, of whom he 
spoke as " the greatest soul of the age." His cry was for 
sword, bow, battle-axe, and cannon. And, further, the reports 
that reached Worms from distant parts of the empire proved 
that a finger laid on Luther would be the beginning of con- 
vulsions which would tear up order and government by the 
roots. These were powerful arguments, and precluded the 
idea of infringing the safe-conduct from being entertained for 
a moment by practical minds of the Romish party. 

It was now the turn for moderate measures. The Arch- 
bishop of Mentz, admonished by his fears, and perhaps in 
some measure influenced by Wolfgang Capito, his chaplain, a 
Reformer at heart, but a cautious temporiser, waited on the 
Emperor, and prayed that time might be allowed to try the 
effect of renewed arguments and exhortations with Luther. 

* Ihi' wurdet ein Luther seyn. 


Charles would not hear of farther delay. But afterwards the 1521. 
princes in a hodj waited on the Emperor, and importuned him 
to grant the concession ; and he yielded so far as to extend 
the safe-conduct for three days, during which time whoever 
would might treat with the Reformer privately. The princes 
assigned the office of mediator to the Archbishop of Treves, 
who, as a courteous man of the world, and an old and inti- 
mate friend of his brother Elector of Saxony, was every way 
well adapted for this part. The Archbishop despatched two 
priests of his household^ to Luther, about supper time on 
Monday, to request a visit from him at six o'clock on the 
morning of Wednesday, the 24th April ; for the intervening 
Tuesday was sacred to St. George, and the festival was to be 
kept with much pomp. 

At four o'clock on the Wednesday morning Aleander sent 
for Cochlffius, and deputed him to watch the proceedings in 
the Papist interest, and note with strict accuracy the lan- 
guage used on either side, but on no account to enter into 
any argument with Luther. At the appointed hour the Re- 
former was at the Archbishop's hotel, and found the Arch- 
bishop himself. Margrave Joachim Elector of Brandenburg, 
Duke George of Saxony, the Bishops of Augsburg and Bran- 
denburg, and the Master of the Teutonic Order, with Jerome 
Wehe Chancellor of Baden, who was to conduct the conference, 
assembled there. George Count of Wertheim, and Dr. Bock 
of Strasburg, and Peutinger of Augsburg, came into the 
apartment afterwards. Luther was himself attended by his 
friends, and by electoral councillors, whom Frederic, who was 
not over well pleased with this renewal of admonition and 
expostulation, had appointed to this duty. 

Wehe opened the conference, by saying, that " the motive 

* Cochla>us, p. 37. 


1521. for their desiring an interview was not to dispute on doctrinal 
points^ but in the spirit of Christian charity and gentleness to 
exhort Luther as a brother." He went on to observe, that 
Councils had passed different, but not contrary decrees. And 
even had they erred egregiously, that would be no reason 
why Luther should set up his own sentiments above them. 
Human laws were necessary : there must be order and an 
ecclesiastical system : and the tree must be judged, not by its 
blossom, but by its fruit. Martin, Nicolas, and many other 
saints, had taken a share in the deliberations of Councils. The 
Reformer's writings had kindled angry commotions, and espe- 
cially his tract on Christian Liberty, which was abused to un- 
dermine the basis of ecclesiastical authority, and stimulate 
rebellion. And the devil took advantage of such abuse to 
bring those of his writings, the tendency of which was really 
good, into discredit, and thus debar them from any profitable 
influence. If the ecclesiastical ruler erred or sinned foully, 
his power and authority were not forfeited on that account. 
It was earnestly hoped that Luther would prove amenable to 
reason. And Wehe proceeded to enumerate thirteen distinct 
arguments why he should yield to the brotherly admonition 
addressed to him ; " but if he persisted in the course he had 
chosen, the Emperor had no alternative but to adopt severe 
measures against him, and banish him from the Empire.^' 
So well did Dr. Wehe speak, Luther himself remarked in 
his relation of the interview, ''^as to let me know that the 
Chancellor of Treves was not worthy to pour water on his 
hands." * 

At the close of the address, several of the Reformer's 
friends were pressing forward to furnish him with an answer 
to an objection, or to offer a suggestion ; but Frederic von 

* Walch. XV. p. 2294. 


Tlmn repressed tlieir eagerness, by saying, " Let him alone ; 1521. 
lie is quite able to make answer for himself." Luther replied 
that he was grateful for the condescension and kindness of so 
great princes towards one so insignificant as he was. He had 
condemned the Coiincil of Constance chiefly for denying the 
truth -Averred by Huss— "The Church of Christ is the uni- 
verse of predestined souls " — and so denying by consequence 
this article of the Nicene Creed — " I believe in the Holy Ca- 
tholic Church." He quite agreed with what had been said on 
the obedience due to all in authority : but his objection was 
not that popes, cardinals, and bishops led godless and iniqui- 
tous lives ; but that they taught false and unscriptural doctrine. 
The spirit of obedience and brotherly love was pushed too far, 
if it sanctioned the corruption of God's Word. And then 
raising his hands and enumerating in order upon his fingers 
Wehe's thirteen arguments, why he was bound to yield — 
" ' Obedience to the magistrate ' — Yes ! I acknowledge obe- 
dience to be due to all in authority, although their lives be 
sinful and iniquitous ; — ' Obedience to the Church ' — Yes ! I 
am willing to accord it ; I allow all ; I will yield all : save only 
that which I dare not and cannot yield, because it is not mine 
to yield, but God's, the Scriptures, the Word of God. I will 
renounce all my own notions and opinions ; I have stated as 
much again and again in my writings, but the Word of God, 
it is not mine to surrender." 

Luther withdrew, and the Princes conferred together alone. 
After a short time he was recalled : and Wehe enquired, 
" Will you submit your writings to the judgment of the Em- 
peror and the States ? " He replied that he most willingly 
submitted his writings to the judgment not only of the Em- 
peror, but of the very meanest of his subjects, provided only 
the judgment were formed according to the dictates of God's 
AVord. He quoted St. Augustine on the sole infallibility of 


1521. Holy Scripture, and cited St. Paul — '^ Though an angel from 
heaven should preach unto you another Gospel, let him be 
accursed."' ' We must not then, it is evident," he continued, 
" believe an angel from heaven against God's own Word. I 
supplicate and implore that you will not urge m}'' conscience, 
which is enchained to the truth of the divine Scriptui-es, to 
deny the clear declarations of God. I beg that I may be 
most humbly commended to his imperial Majesty, with the 
assurance that I will comply with any requirements of which 
my conscience does not disapprove." " Do you mean," asked 
the Margrave of Brandenbm^g, " that you will never yield 
unless you are convinced by Holy Scripture ? " " Yes, that 
is my meaning, most gracious Lord," Luther answered, " un- 
less I am convinced by Scripture, or by clear and indubitable 

The meeting broke up after this explicit statement. But 
when the rest took their departure, John Eck, the Chancellor 
of Treves, and Cochlseus, stayed behind with the Archbishop, 
who requested Luther's attendance, with two of his friends, 
Amsdorf and Schurff, in a private apartment. Here Eck, 
taking up the thread of the previous conversation, endea- 
voured to argue the Reformer out of his dependence on Holy 
Scripture, by enumerating various heresies which had ori- 
ginated from that very source ; and in particular laboured to 
impugn the position that the Catholic Church is the Com- 
munion of Saints. The Reformer and Schurff replied to the 
arguments advanced with great patience and moderation. 
"The Pope," Luther said, "is no judge in causes appertain- 

* Audin, II. p. Ill, adds — " Vous admettez done Tine raison supe- 
rieure a la parole de Dieu? Objecta vivement le chancelier : Luther 
resta silencieux." This addition is entirely Audin's invention ; nor is 
it to be supposed that such a commonplace objection, had it been made, 
would have posed Luther for an instant. 


ing to God's Word and faith; but each Christian must 1521. 
examine and judge for himself, as he must hve and die for 
himself. The master must follow the scholar, if the scholar is 
better read in God's Word." "^ Sometimes Cochlseus raised 
his voice in the discussion, and exhorted Luther to desist 
altogether from his undertaking, and cease to write and teach. 
But the private interview ended as the previous more public 
one had done. And it was reported to the Emperor, to his 
equal surprise and indignation, that the negociations had 
failed of their aim ; but as, notwithstanding, hopes continued 
to be cherished in some quarters of an amicable settlement, 
he consented to extend the furlough to two days more. 

Meanwhile Luther, at the hotel of the Knights of Rhodes, 
was an object of more general attention and curiosity than 
the Emperor and the princes and lords, not merely singly, but 
all united. One day Philip, the young Landgrave of Hesse, t 
rode into the courtyard of the hotel of the Knights of 
Rhodes, and, leaping from his horse, ran up the steps to 
Luther's apartment, requiring to speak with him. " My dear 
Doctor, how do matters go with you ? " " My gracious Lord, 
with God's help all will go well," Luther replied. "They 
tell me," the Landgrave said, '' that you teach that if a woman 
be married to an old man, it is allowable for her to quit him 
for a husband who is younger," aud he laughed as he spoke. 
Luther also smiled at this calumny, and replied, " No ! no ! 
Your highness must not say so." Seizing the Reformer's 
hand, and giving it a warm shake, Philip exclaimed, "Well, 
Doctor, if your cause is just, may God aid you ; " and rushing 
down stairs, and springing on his horse, rode out of the 
courtyard as abruptly as he had entered it. At another time 

* Luther's own account to Count Albert of Mansfeld, Walcli. XV. 
p. 2296. 

t Walch. XV. p. 2247. 


1521. Cochlseus walked into Luther's lodging after dinner time; 
and in the excitement of conversation, sometimes familiar and 
sometimes argumentative, made the Reformer the offer to 
dispute publicly with him, provided he would forego his safe- 
conduct. Jerome SchurfF smiled, and observed, " That would 
be an equal contest, indeed ! " Luther, however, was demur- 
ring, for a public. disputation in Worms itself presented to his 
mind important advantages, when another friend, the knight 
Vollrat von Watzdorf, rudely seized the dean, and without 
more ado thrust him out of doors. On another occasion 
Luther was supping at the table of an ecclesiastical dignitary, 
probably the Archbishop of Treves. At such times he usually 
overflowed with mirth and wit; and the Chancellor John 
Eck, who had interrogated him in the Diet, drank to his 
health, and according to custom passed the glass to Luther. 
The Reformer having made the sign of the cross on the glass, 
was raising it to his lips, when it suddenly flew into a hundred 
fragments. " Either this wine was not intended for me, or it 
would have disagreed with me," Luther observed, laughing; 
"no doubt the glass has flown because in washing it was 
dipped too suddenly in cold water." But his friends with 
less charity whispered among themselves that he had provi- 
dentially escaped being poisoned.'^ Such were some of the 
interludes between the various acts of the drama. 

On the evening of Thursday, the 25th April, the negoeia- 
tions were resumed, and Chancellor Wehe, in company with 
Dr. Peutinger, by the request of the Archbishop of Treves 
visited the Reformer at his hotel. The Elector of Saxony had 
been apprised of this intended visit, and sent Frederic von 
Thun and Dr. Philipp to be at the Reformer's side during the 

* From a manuscript history, preserved in tlie library of Gotha, of 
Eazeberg, physician to the Elector John Frederic. D'Aubigne, II. 
p. 326. Audin, II. p. 133. Kiel, p. 105. 


interview^ and use every precaution to prevent his being drawn 1521. 
into any snare. The bent of their solicitations was that 
Luther should resign the settlement of the case simply and 
absolutely into the hands of the Emperor and the States, in 
reliance on their Christian and friendly intentions. Luther 
replied that he acknowledged the power and authority of the 
Emperor, but he could never resign the Word of God. He 
found it written there, " Put not your trust in princes ; " and 
"Cursed is the man that trusteth in man.'' But on the 
Archbishop's delegates persisting in their efforts to persuade 
him to commit his cause to the arbitrament of the civil 
power, he frankly declared, " Rather than leave my cause to 
the Emperor, I would renounce my safe-conduct." Frederic 
von Thun upon this rose hastily from his seat and exclaimed, 
"That is enough; you have your answer; he can never 
renounce the safe-conduct ; " and immediately quitted the 
apartment. Doctor Philipp remained whilst they pressed 
their arguments a little farther, Luther firmly maintaining 
that "he could never let the Word of God go from his hands. 
What must become of him if he did ? " They then left him 
for the present, stating that they would call again in the 
afternoon, and meanwhile they hoped he would ponder favour- 
ably on what they had said. 

In the afternoon they returned with a new proposal, to the 
effect that Luther should submit his opinions, or some pro- 
positions extracted from his writings, to the decision of a Ge- 
neral Council. He replied that he was quite willing to give his 
assent to this proposal, on condition that the judgment to be 
passed by the Council should be in conformity to Holy Scrip- 
ture. And the negociators hastened back to the Archbishop 
with the welcome assurance that Luther had given his consent 
to the determination of the questions in dispute by a General 
Council. The Archbishop immediately sent for Luther, and 

VOL. I. s 


1521. greeting him very kindly, said, " My dear Doctor, I under- 
stand that you agree to submit your cause to the judgment of 
a Council." " My gracious lord/' Luther answered, " I can 
endure anything saving to surrender Holy Scripture.'' " Did 
you then make a reservation of the Scriptures?'' the Arch- 
bishop exclaimed, who had before suspected there must be 
some mistake. " My Doctors told me that you had given an 
unconditional assent : and I am glad that I had not carried their 
report to the Emperor before speaking personally with you." 
The good Archbishop then led the Reformer into a private 
room, Spalatin, it would appear, being the only witness of the 
interview, and essayed his own powers of persuasion with 
Dr. Martin. Luther honestly avowed that he could feel little 
confidence in submitting his opinions to the verdict of the 
Emperor and the States, after their summoning him to their 
bar and then condemning him before he had answered to the 
summons, by sentencing his books to be carried to the magis- 
trates to be burnt. After some conversation, which left the 
matter in as unsatisfactory a state as before, the Archbishop 
enquired, " Is there any remedy, Doctor, that you can yourself 
suggest to stay these unhappy dissensions ? " "I know not 
of any," Luther replied, " except the advice of Gamaliel, ' If 
this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought ; 
but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it.' Let the Emperor 
and the States write to the Pope that they are fully assured, 
that, if the doctrines so much decried are not of God, they 
will perish by a natural death within two or three years." 
The Archbishop enquired whether he had any objection to 
some of the propositions taken from his writings, which had 
excited the most stir in men's minds, being submitted to a 
Council. "None whatever," Luther replied, "provided they 
be not those which the Council of Constance condemned; 
for I am firmly convinced in my soul that they are scriptural." 


" I fear/' said the Elector, "they are the very same." " By 1521. 
those decrees, my gracious lord/' Luther continued, "the 
Word of God itself was condemned ; and I had rather lose 
my life and head than ever abandon the simple and plain 
Scriptures," The Archbishop now saw clearly that nothing 
could be done. 

The conduct of Luther at Worms has been arraigned with 
severity by two very opposite classes, by bitter Papists, and 
by some of the more extreme partisans of the Reformation ; 
and, strangely enough, by both on very nearly the same 
ground.^ According to these authorities, his look ought to 
have been stouter, his words should have been in bolder and 
sharper defiance of his enemies ; and, in particular, he ought 
not, on his first appearance before the Diet, to have requested 
space for deliberation ; but without any delay, which always 
implies indecision, he ought to have avowed his settled refusal 
to retract a word or a letter of his writings. Luther himself 
makes nearly the same complaint, when he writes to Spalatin, 
that " he is grievously vexed in conscience that he yielded to 
his advice, and that of his other friends, and tamed his spirit, 
and did not act with more of the power of Elias in presence 
of those idols." But, in his old age, when he delighted in 
reviewing past eventful scenes, he delivered a different judg- 
ment : " God himself inspired me with courage at that time : 
I had no fears, and was quite ready to lay down my life : I 
doubt whether I could be so fearless now." And this more 
mature verdict is undoubtedly the true one. There was 
Luther at Worms without that admixture of baser qualities 
which too often sullied his noble acts and glorious words ; all 
his firmness without his sarcasm, abusiveness, and violence. 

* See, for instance, on one side Audin, and on the other Vaughan, 
in the remarks prefixed to his translation of the " Bondage of the 

s 2 


1521. There can be no doubt but his demanding a day for further 
deliberation added much to the influence of his final answer : it 
showed that what he did was done not precipitately, but on due 
and careful reflection, with a full view of consequences ; and 
he was far too clear-sighted not to have anticipated, at the 
very moment of making the demand, the additional weight 
that would thus be given to his words. That he never for an 
instant dreamt of a revocation, even in a syllable, his familiar 
correspondence afi^ords uncontrovertible proofs. Nor is his 
conduct the less commendable, because, on the pedestal on 
which some of his warm admirers would fain have had him 
raise a statue or a monument to himself, he placed, not him- 
self or any of his own opinions or writings, but the Word of 
God. With less humility and forbearance he might have been 
guilty of despising " the powers that be," and by such weak- 
ness must have done grievous damage to his cause : but he 
was invincible by always appealing to Scripture as the only 
standard of truth, and reiterating that he himself and his 
notions were nothing, God and his Word were everything. 

On quitting the hotel of the Archbishop of Treves, Luther 
paid a visit to the sick chamber of John Minkwitz, a knight 
and councillor of the Elector of Saxony, whose illness seemed 
likely to terminate in death. After suitable discourse and 
prayer, Luther pronounced a benediction on the sick man, 
observing that " he should not be able to visit him again, for 
he should leave Worms to-morrow." Spalatin was in the 
room, and pulling Luther's cowl to make him turn round his 
head, said : " Doctor, how do you know that ? you have no 
intimation to that eff^ect ? " " You will see," Luther answered, 
"that I shall leave Worms to-morrow."^ His friends re- 
turned with him to the hotel of the knights of Rhodes, and 

* Waleh. XV. p. 2248. 


shortly afterwards^ about three hours from his quitting the 1521. 
Archbishop's hotel, the Chancellor of Treves, with Maximilian 
Trausilvanus, Secretary to the Emperor, and some other 
officials, presented himself before the Reformer, and read 
aloud the Imperial command. " Martin Luther, since you 
have in such various ways been admonished by the Emperor, 
the Electors, Princes, and States of the Empire, but all in 
vain, to return to your proper mind and to the unity of the 
Church, it only remains for his Majesty to resort to such 
measures as become an advocate of the Catholic faith. It is 
therefore the imperial command, that within twenty-one days 
you return whence you came, under the public safe-conduct, and 
that you excite no popular disturbance on the road by preach- 
ing or writing." On hearing this command, Luther bowed 
his head, and answered, "Be it so! as the Lord will! 
Blessed be the name of the Lord ! "^ He then desired the 
expression of his warmest thanks, most humbly and truly, to 
the Emperor, the Princes and the States of the Empire, for 
the gracious hearing they had vouchsafed him, and their gra- 
cious observance of the safe -conduct. " 1 have never required 
anything," he added, "but a reformation of the Church in 
accordance with Holy Scripture. In other respects I would 
undergo anything for the sake of his Imperial Majesty and the 
States of the Empire, life, death, fame, infamy, gain, loss.f 
But the Word of God must not be bound. It must be left 
free to me to confess and to proclaim it, without any reserva- 
tion. I most humbly commend me, and declare my submis- 
sion to his Imperial Majesty and the States of the Empire." 
The same evening, the Councillors of the Elector of Saxony 

* See Mathesius, p. 48. 
t Luther repeats this in his letter to Charles. Walch. XV. p. 2251. 


1521. concerted the means of providing for Luther's safety under 
the perils that were ready to burst on his head : and their 
plan was communicated to the Reformer, who, on the under- 
standing that Frederic desired his compliance, acquiesced very 
reluctantly in it. The Elector himself, for obvious reasons, 
wished that the whole management of the scheme should 
devolve on his councillors, and that everything should be con- 
cealed from himself except the mere outline of the plan. 
April 26. On Friday morning, the Reformer's friends breakfasted with 
him at his hotel, a parting meeting full of joy from the unani- 
mous sense of the glorious witness which he had been enabled 
to bear to the truth ; and at ten o'clock he bade them an aflPec- 
tionate farewell, and departed from Worms, accompanied by the 
same noblemen on horseback who had formed his escort when 
he entered the city. Remnants of the crowds of populace who 
had remained true in their devotion to Luther from his en- 
trance into Worms to his exit, might be still seen lingering in 
knots here and there in the streets after the cavalcade had 
passed the city gate. The imperial herald a few hours later 
rode after the party, and joined Luther at Oppenheim, where 
they rested for the night. 

The next day they proceeded to Frankfort, where Luther 
was lodged in the house of Wolfgang Prenter, who had cor- 
dially welcomed and entertained him before when going to 
his trial. Hence the Sunday morning following, he wrote a 
characteristic epistle to his Wittenberg friend, Luke Cranach, 
the painter, his coadjutor in caricatm-es. " My service, dear 
gossip Luke. I bless and commend you to God ; and for 
myself have given consent to their concealing me, but as yet 
I know not where. And though I had far rather have suf- 
fered death at the hands of the tyrants, especially the raving 
Duke George of Saxony, yet the counsel of good people it is 


not meet to despise.* .... I supposed that his Impe- 1521 . 
rial Majesty would have assembled some fifteen doctors or so, 
and have overcome the monk by argument ; but no, nothing 
of the sort. Are the books yours? Yes. Will you revoke 
or not? No. Get you gone, then. O ! blind Germans, 
what children we are, to let the Roman apes scoff at and be- 
fool us in this way ! Give my gossip, your dear wife, my greet- 
ing ; and I trust she will keep well till I have the pleasure of 
seeing her again. The Jews must be allowed to sing for once, 
Yo ! Yo ! Yo ! But our Easter week will come soon, when 
we shall sing Hallelujah. For a short time we must be silent 
and endure. ' A little time and ye shall not see me — and 
again a little time and ye shall see me.^ I hope it will prove 
so with us. But God^s will as always of all the best be done 
herein, as in heaven so on earth. Amen.'^ 

They prosecuted their route on the Sunday to Friedburg, April 28. 
and reposed there that night. In the evening of the Lord's 
day Luther sat down to frame two letters, one to the Emperor 
and the other to the States, both written with the same ob- 
ject, and often in nearly the same terms ; and which quickly 
passed into print, and served, as Luther intended they should, 
as the expositors of his feelings and principles, through the 
length and breadth of Germany. They recapitulated what 
had transpired at Worms, declared the most heai^tfelt loyalty 
to the Emperor and the States, and in this reverence to 
earthly potentates made no exception, save of " the holy, free, 
plain, and clear Word of God, the Lord of all, and hereafter 
the Judge of all.'' Luther closed his epistle to the States 
by saying, " If Christ my Lord and my God, prayed on the 

* It is singular that, with this letter before him, Michelet should 
say, " Luther avait renvoye le heraut, qui I'escortait a quelques lieues 
de Worms, et ses ennemis en ont conclu qu'il s'attendait a son enleve- 
ment. Le contraire ressort de sa correspondence." — Memoircs, I p. 90. 


1521. cross for his enemies, how much more am I bound to pray, 
implore, and entreat with all submission and faith for his Im- 
perial Majesty, the whole empire, my dearest lords, the rulers 
and magistrates, and the whole German people, whom in all 
obedience I commend to the grace and favour of Almighty 
God." Such words were his solemn farewell to the Diet. He 
gave these letters to Caspar Sturm to convey to Worms, and 
deliver to those to whom they were addressed : and he warmly 
embraced the herald on parting. 

The next day he travelled to Grunberg, a town in the 
dominions of Philip of Hesse, from whom, in contemplation 
of this route, he had obtained a safe-conduct,"^ the style of 
which betrayed not darkly the Lutheran tendency of the 
April 30. Landgrave ; and here he spent the night. On Tuesday, he 
proceeded to Hirschfeld, the Prince Abbot of which, Crato 
Milius, a monk of the Benedictine Order, sent his chancellor 
and treasurer to meet him at the distance of a mile from the 
city, whilst he himself, with a considerable retinue of horse- 
men, waited somewhat nearer the town, and conducted him 
to his palace, the Senate welcoming him at the gate.f That 
evening Luther was sumptuously entertained by the Abbot : 
it was insisted that he should occupy for the night the Abbot's 
own bed : and the next morning at five o'clock, in compliance 
with entreaties which would not admit of refusal, although he 
candidly stated the imperial prohibition, and the danger in- 
volved in disregarding it, he preached to the Abbot and his 
May 1. court in the Church. The evening of the same day (Wednes- 
day) he prosecuted his journey as far as Eisenach, whence he 
wrote a hurried account to Count Albert of Mansfeld of what 
had passed at Worms ; and here too he again ascended the 
pulpit, and preached those truths, for proclaiming Avhich he 

* See it in Walcli. XV. p. 2126. t De Wette, II. p. 6. 


had already been excommunicated, and was shortly to be out- 1521. 
lawed. The curate, with a notary and two witnesses at his 
side, stood trembling at the door of the church, and inter- 
posed his protest ; but merely with the object of screening 
himself from the consequences of acquiescing in an illegal 
act. On leaving Eisenach Luther turned aside from the 
high road, and directed his course towards the little village of 
Mora, where his uncle Henry Luther dwelt, with whom his 
aged grandmother resided ; and many other relatives lived in 
the neighbourhood. At this point, therefore, he parted from 
his comrades, Schurff, Jonas, and Suaven, who continued 
their journey to Wittenberg by the direct road through 
Gotha and Erfarth ; and he struck into the forest of Thuriu- 
gen, and, in company with Amsdorf alone, arrived at Mora 
the same evening. The whole of the Friday was passed in 
this secluded and tranquil scene, a delightful contrast to the 
turmoil of Worms, and the renewed artifices of his opponents. 
And on Saturday he started again on his journey, in com- May 4. 
pany with Amsdorf and his brother James, in the direction of 

They had not travelled far when, just as the waggon was 
passing a narrow defile near the ruined church of Glisbach, 
not far from the castle of Altenstein, the fortress of the 
knight Burckard von Hund, two armed horsemen, their faces 
concealed under masks, with three armed attendants also 
masked, suddenly made their appearance, and fell on the 
band of travellers. Immediately James Luther sprung out 
of the waggon, and, without a word of farewell to his bro- 
ther Martin, fled with precipitancy towards Walterhausen. 
The waggoner was thrown to the ground and beaten ; Ams- 
dorf was seized and held fast ; whilst Luther himself was se- 
cured and hurried away to a spot where a horse, ready bridled 
and saddled, had been tied, which he was made to mount, and 


1521. a knight's mantle thrown around him, and a knight's cap 
drawn over his brows. The object of the intrusion thus 
attained, the waggoner and Amsdorf were left without further 
molestation to pursue their way through the forest. The 
whole was the deed of a few moments, in executing which the 
horsemen observed a profound silence : and Luther having 
been mounted, they rode away, changing their course many 
times, as if with a view to baffle pursuit. One of them dropt 
his cap, but would not stay to pick it up. In this way they 
wore out the evening and the twilight, and so exhausted 
Luther, who was unused to riding, and had been weakened 
by his recent trials, that they were obliged to halt from their 
wanderings for some time, and suffer the Reformer to dis- 
mount, and rest on the ground under a beech tree near a 
fountain which still bears his name, with the waters of which 
he slaked his thirst. It was drawing on for eleven o'clock 
at night, when the party arrived at the foot of a very steep 
and almost precipitous hill. On its summit, frowning over 
the forest, whose umbrageous solitudes mantled their dark shel- 
ter round, and looking beyond to a range of hills which, open- 
ing at intervals, suffered the eye to escape with delight over 
" that golden land,"'^ the fertile and well-cultivated valleys of 
Thuringia, stood the venerable fortress of the Wartburg, or 
the Castle of the Watch-tower, sacred to St. Elizabeth, and once 
the seat of the Landgraves of Thuringia. Here one of the 
party was bound to represent a prisoner captured in the day's 
enterprise ; and thus the knights passed the portal, and, having 
aided Luther to dismount, led the way into the interior of the 
fortress. One of the knights proved to be Burckard von Hund, 
the Lord of Altenstein, and the other John von Berlepsch, 
the Provost of the Wartburg. Luther was conducted by the 

* So tlie Count of Mansfeld called it. 


latter, with all tlie respect that could be shown the most dis- 1521. 
tinguished guest, to an apartment which was found ah-eady 
prepared as for an expected visitor. He was provided with the 
attire and sword of a knight ; he was requested to suffer his hair 
and beard to grow ; and, to complete the incognito, he was to 
be known to the household by the title of Yonker George. 

Thus the scene is curiously and abruptly shifted from 
the Town Hall of Worms to the upper room in the soli- 
tary Wartburg; and a new chapter opens in the story of 
Luther's life. There was much in the change to vex and irri- 
tate, but something also to refresh his heart. " I had rather/' 
he affirmed, "have been laid on a bed of burning coals, 
than be compelled to endure the weariness of such a capti- 
vity ! " Wittenberg and his duties, his preaching and lectur- 
ing, his friends and intimates, the open honesty and hardi- 
hood of his life all resigned ! The sacrifice was not a light 
one. But, as he gazed round his apartment, looked over the 
battlements of his tower of refuge, surveyed his own figure in 
the mirror, he found subjects of congratulation. " Here I 
am," he exclaimed, " in a condition of true Christian liberty, 
disenthralled from all the enactments of the Roman tyrant ! " 

Luther had not been conveyed many days to a place of 
safety before the edict of the Diet was fulminated against 
him, and all who in any way shared his opinions. But this 
measure was intimately connected with political designs and 
alliances, of which it is essential to speak. 

Leo X., votary of the arts, and of sensuality, as he was, was 
not devoid of the ambition of acquiring glory ; to which he 
was stimulated by a jealous eagerness to rival the warlike 
fame of his predecessor, Julius II., and in particular, by a de- 
sire to recover Parma and Placentia, which, to his great dis- 
credit, he had lost. Well aware of the hostile feelings enter- 
tained by Francis towards a political rival who had carried off 


1521. the prize at which he had aimed, his first overtures had been 
made to the French monarch. But Charles had an able re- 
presentative at the Papal court in Don John Manuel, the 
staunch friend of his father Philip, and a sufferer in his 
behalf. But even of more moment at such a juncture than 
the skill of his ambassador, was the bait which Charles was 
able to hold out to secure the Pontiff's favour. Although 
Leo and his cardinals valued the doctrines of their Church 
chiefly as furnishing an inexhaustible subject for jest, yet it 
was impossible that they could view with any sentiment, save 
that of the keenest animosity, the spread of opinions which 
struck at the foundation of their political and social condi- 
tion : and none could better appreciate the force of Luther's 
words, that he had " bitten a good hole in the pocket of the 
Papists." And accordingly on Maundy Thursday, the anniver- 
sary of the institution of the Lord's Supper, when the Redeemer 
of the world, taking the cup in his hand, pronounced — " This 
is my blood which is shed for many for the remission of sins," 
and which the Roman Church selects as the day on which to 
pronounce her bitter and horrible imprecations on all who op- 
pose or deny her claims by her bull, " In Coena Domini," the 
name of Luther, as the latest and worst of heretics, was added 
to the list of those annually consigned by infallible authority to 
misery in this world and the next. Well aware, therefore, what 
sat uppermost in the mind of the Roman Curia for the time, Don 
John Manuel made an efficient use of the Emperor^s position 
in regard to the great Reformer. And at length it was under- 
stood that severity against Luther and his adherents would 
be accepted by the Papal See as the purchase of its assistance 
in political enterprise. The revocation of the papal briefs in 
regard to the Inquisition in Spain, as already alluded to, was 
the first fruits of this understood compact. And by virtue of 
it a treaty was further concluded between the Pope and the Em- 


peror on the 8th of May, which stipulated that by their united 1521. 
forces the French should be expelled from the Milanese, and May 8. 
the Duchy given to Francis Sforza : that Parma and Pla- 
centia should be restored to the Church ; that the Emperor 
should aid the Pope to conquer Ferrara ; that the annual 
tribute paid by Naples to the Holy See should be augmented ; 
that the Medici should be taken under the special protection 
of the Emperor ; that ten thousand ducats a year should be 
settled on the Cardinal, and lands in the kingdom of Naples 
to an equal annual value should be bestowed on Lorenzo's 
illegitimate son Alexander. 

But although the Emperor was thus committed to Luther's 
condemnation, an obstacle to fulfilling his intentions existed 
in the warm sympathy, which, ever since his appearance 
before them, the States had shown with Luther's cause and 
personal history. It was therefore necessary to tide over the 
arrangement of the business, till the opportunity should be 
ripe. And the delay was not long. The Elector of Saxony, 
who observed " that not only Annas and Caiaphas, but Pilate 
also and Herod, were adversaries to Christ," was too much 
disgusted by what transpired of the understanding between 
the Nuncios and the Emperor to remain much longer in 
Worms, particularly as his state of health was so feeble 
that he was scarcely able to walk from room to room with- 
out the support of attendants. His departure was followed 
by that of the Elector Palatine and the Archbishop of Co- 
logne, the other two Electors who were favourably inclined 
to Luther. And, following the example of the Electors, 
the princes and nobles of similar bias retired one after 
another from the theatre of discussion, and left the Diet at 
the mercy of the Spaniards in the Emperor's retinue — the 
Nuncios of his Holiness, and the papistical section of the Ger- 
man princes headed by the Emperor himself. As the ban 


1521. of the Diet had already been declared against Luther con- 
ditionally, unless he retracted,'^ it was ODly requisite that an 
edict should be drawn up on the basis of this previous resolu- 
tion. And it was deputed to Aleander to compose a rough 
draught of what might serve as the edict ; and he gratified to 
the full his virulent and vindictive feelings in the style of the 
May 25. composition. On the 25th May, when the Princes had es- 
corted back the Emperor from the Town Hall to the Bishop's 
Palace, in which he was residing, the draught of the edict was 
by imperial command suddenly and unexpectedly produced 
and read aloud to those present ; and the Elector of Bran- 
denburg, speaking for the rest, acknowledged his consent to 
it. The next day, just as mass was about to be solemnized in 
the Cathedral of Worms, Aleander, robed in the full insignia of 
his commission, approached the Emperor, and, kneeling at his 
feet with the edict in Latin in one hand, and a copy of it in 
German in the other, humbly prayed his Imperial Majesty to 
affix his signature and seal. The Emperor graciously smiled, 
and complied with the petition. 

The edict stated that it is the duty of the true Emperor of 
the Romans not only to extend the limits of the sacred 
Empire by the conversion of infidels to orthodoxy ; but like- 
wise to see that among the subject nations no spot of heresy 
defile the pure vesture of religion. That Martin Luther, an 
Augustine friar, had been condemned by the Church as guilty 
of monstrous heresy. That on extreme unction this grievous 
heretic thought with Wycliffe ; that on purgatory, the mass, 
and indulgences he held the same opinion as the Waldenses 
and Wycliflfe, contrary to the doctrine of the Church ; that as 
to the Church itself he spoke as did the Pelagians and 
Hussites ; that he termed the Council of Constance " Satan's 

* See the Eesolution, Walch. XV. p. 2057. 


synagogue ; " and that everywhere he excited the people to 1521. 
revolt, scliisra, murder, and every outrage. " But in fine," it 
continued, " this Luther is no man, but the devil himself in 
human form under a monk^s cowl, for the perdition of man- 
kind," That under the pretence of faith he was labouring to 
destroy true faith ; under pretence of liberty he was trying to 
introduce the servitude of Satan's yoke ; under the profession 
of the Gospel he sought to extirpate the peace and charity of 
the Gospel, to invert all order, and mar the beauteous har- 
mony of the Church. That he spurned at the authority of 
the Pope, the Church, and CEcumenical Councils. And 
therefore that after the expiration of twenty-one days, wher- 
ever he might be found, proceedings should be taken against 
him ; and whoever gave him meat or drink or any sort of aid 
by act, word, writing, or in whatever way, should suffer con- 
fiscation of all his goods, moveable and immoveable. That 
none should buy or sell, retain, read, copy, act, print, or 
cause to be printed or copied, preach, assert, or in any way 
maintain or defend his writings or doctrines. And the same 
was enacted in reference to every schedule, libel, picture, in- 
vective, satire, abuse, against the Pontiff, the Apostolic See, 
prelates, princes, or universities. And no one was to print, 
engrave, or publish anything relating, in however slight a 
degree, to sacred letters or the Catholic faith, without the 
licence of the ordinary of the place or his deputy, together 
with the sanction of the theological faculty of some neigh- 
bouring university. This edict bore date the 8th of May, but 
in reality it received the imperial signature, as has been 
already stated, on the 26th of May, and was ante-dated that 
it might seem to have been issued with the consent of the 
whole Diet in full assembly. 

But before the bolt fell the Reformer was securely lodged 
in his mysterious ■►retreat. Aleander's malice had a rao- 


1521. mentary gratification ; the Popish faction enjoyed a shortlived 
triumph ; but events ere long proved the edict to be little less 
futile than the bull had been. It has even been hinted by 
historians that the Emperor himself, although he signed the 
decree, was accessory to the plot by which Luther was ex- 
empted from the fate his enemies had prepared for him ; 
there can be little doubt that he was secretly pleased at his 
escape from the pontifical vengeance ; and it is certain that 
he never adopted any means to discover his concealment in 
order to apprehend his person. The Germans had concluded 
far too rashly that their young emperor was a person of very 
ordinary or even mean capacity, at least that he was by no 
means to be compared with his brother Ferdinand. But in 
reality the silence and gravity which wore the semblance of 
weakness and indecision, veiled powers for political intrigue 
and combination of the very highest order. The death of his 
prime minister, which occurred during the session of the Diet, 
left Charles more to his own counsels, but was not needed to 
develope faculties derived from nature rather than from edu- 
cation, and already in active exercise. It is very evident, on 
impartial examination, that in all Charleses seeming varia- 
tions there was a real unity ; he appeared to be driven, yet he 
in fact was steering his course straight for a haven he had 
deliberately marked out ; and by dexterously leaning first to 
one side, and then the other, he contrived to attain his own 
end while seeming to bend to the will of others. He had 
secured the alliance of the Pope by a harshly- worded, but, as 
events showed, an innocuous edict; on the other hand, he 
had not violated the safe-conduct granted to Martin Luther, 
and never dreamt of molesting him in his place of refuge. 
For however much it might now serve his turn to humour the 
ultramontane faction, Charles was far too sagacious and long- 
sighted to overlook the contingency, that if the great heretic's 


life were preserved^ he might, at some future day, be again 1521. 
as good a card in his hand in his deep game for political as- 
cendancy as he had proved already. And thus he quitted 
Worms as successful in his diplomacy as he had before quitted 
the shores of England. 

VOL. I. 




1521. The bull, which had been intended to crush for ever the re- 
formed opinions and their author, decided the success of the 
one, and the popularity of the other ; the edict of Worms, the 
imperial sanction of the bull, was certainly only less powerful 
than the bull itself in strengthening the cause it aimed at 
destroying : and Luther's removal from the theatre of active 
life to the seclusion and refuge of the Wartburg, was, further, 
a most effective instrument in spreading his tenets, and ren- 
dering his person almost an object of national adoration. The 
Papists hoped that the ink with which the edict was signed 
would scarcely dry up ere Lutheranism would be extinguished 
by such a bitter document. It was generally published ; and 
many of the Bishops, in their zeal for the Papacy, charged 
their clergy to refuse absolution to every Lutheran ; and in 
some places the Reformer's writings were publicly committed 
to the flames. The Emperor himself passed one of these bon- 
fires at Antwerp, but with a hardly-suppressed smile. All 
this lasted for some time. But as soon as the Emperor took 
his departure to draw together the threads of his diplomacy, 
and execute his warlike schemes, the tone of popular feeling 
became more and more audible and decided, and the German 
princes, who had either been entrapped into giving their sanc- 
tion to the edict, or had previously quitted the Diet in dis- 
gust, were willing enough to respect the will of their subjects, 
and let the offensive proscription be a dead letter. On the 


other hand, the Papist Princes, with the exception of such 1521. 
men as the Elector of Brandenburg, and Duke George of 
Saxony, were deprived of the presence of their Emperor, and of 
their own courage in the cause of religion, nearly at the same 
time. And the Archbishop of Mentz, whose destruction was 
reported to have been vowed by a conspiracy numbering 1800 
members,* went so far in his endeavours to allay the public 
indignation, as to prohibit the Minorites, who had made their 
churches ring with their invectives, from preaching against 
Luther any further. 

What had become of the Eeformer was the topic in every 
mouth ; and a great diversity of rumours obtained circulation. 
Some asserted that he had been waylaid and assassinated by 
emissaries of the Pope ; others declared that he had been con- 
veyed, out of regard for his safety, by friends, beyond the 
German frontier, and France was supposed to be the scene of 
his exile. At length an account of his seizure by armed 
horsemen, who had carried him off with his hands tied behind 
him, was one step attained towards the solution of the ques- 
tion by the prevailing curiosity; but the object of this cap- 
tivity, and the place of his imprisonment or concealment, 
remained an uncertainty, about which various conjectures 
were hazarded. The universal interest which these enquiries 
excited was anything rather than gratifying to the votaries of 
Rome ; and Aleander deridingly exclaimed, " We shall have 
to light a candle, and search through the land for this monk 
to give him back to his Germans!'^ When more certain 
tidings of his safety reached Wittenberg the joy was intense. 
" Our dearest father/' Melancthon wrote to Link, " is still 
living. O ! happy day, when I shall embrace him once 
more ! " 

* " Fertui' galerita Moguntinus hostes in se juratos habere 1800." 
-De Wette, II. p. H. 



1521. Meanwhile Luther in his watch-tower was a prey to bitter 
self-recrimination, both on account, as he now viewed it, of 
his "timid conduct" at Worms, and also of his acceding to 
the Elector's wish in receding for a time from his office of 
preaching and teaching. He accused himself of having treated 
the Emperor with too much respect, and of having failed to 
bear witness to Jehovah before Ahab and his guilty court, 
with more determined energy ; and he sought in vain for a 
proof sufficient to satisfy his conscience that the God who had 
commissioned him to declare his word had called him to the 
safe retreat of his present asylum. As he sat alone in this 
meditative mood the vision of the distressed condition of the 
Church rose before his eyes. "Alas !" he exclaimed, " that I 
was not worthy to suffer death from the Rehoboam of Dresden, 
and the Benhadad of Damascus ! ^ ' Oh ! that my head were 
waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep 
day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people,' 
the spiritually slain of Satan and the Pope. Would that the 
hog of Dresden had put me to death in the discharge of my 
true functions, whilst publicly preaching the Gospel ! But if 
it be not the Lord's will and my privilege to suffer for His 
sake. His will be done !" No letter was despatched by him 
from his retreat until the 12th May, and then he wrote to 
Melancthon, Amsdorf, and Agricola. It was the first day 
that he had received tidings of the Electoral court in a letter 
from Spalatin ; and previously, as he said, he had been appre- 
hensive that any letters he might send would be intercepted. 
" Pray for me," he wrote to PhUip, " that this seclusion may 
work out something for God's glory. You acknowledge your 
own calling and gifts. Be earnest as a minister of the Word ; 
set up the walls and towers of Jerusalem, until they seek your 

* Duke George of Saxony and the Elector of Brandenburg. 


life also." " The Lord visits me/' he wrote to Amsdorf, 1521. 
''pray for me, for I never forget you. Be bold and preach 
the Word with confidence. A cruel edict has been issued 
against us ; but the Lord will laugh them to scorn." " I sit 
here/' he wrote to Agricola, " of my own will, and yet against 
my will : of my own will because it seems God's will, and 
against it because it is my heart's desire to stand up in public 
for his Word. Your office is to instruct your scholars in the 
Word ; be zealous to fulfil this ministry." Agricola's wife had 
just given him a little daughter; Luther had engaged to be 
godfather, and he appends a postscript to his letter — " I send 
two gold pieces, one for your little daughter, the other for the 
mother to buy wine with, to increase her supply of milk." "^ 

In a letter to Spalatin two days subsequently, describing 
his journey from Worms, and his capture, he writes of him- 
self — " I sit idle, and full of meat and drink the whole day; 
I read the Bible in Greek and Hebrew ; I am writing a ser- 
mon in German on the liberty of auricular confession; I 
shall proceed with my comments on the Psalms, and with the 
Postils, as soon as ever I have received what I want from 
Wittenberg with the Magnificat which I had begun." A 
letter addressed to Melancthon the 26th May, exhibits him 
again immersed in his studies and writings, and gratified with 
the rumours which reached him from the neighbouring town 
of Eisenach, and from all sides, of the progress of the evan- 
gelical cause. " I am replying to James Latomus : I send sn 
exposition, which I have completed at my leisure, of the 68th 
Psalm : I intend to give the expositions of the Gospels and 

Epistles in German If the Pope assails all who think 

with me, Germany will be involved in tumult : God is moving 
the spirits of many, and the hearts of the people; the public 

* De Wette, II. pp. 1—4. 


1521. conviction cannot be repressed, and if that be attempted, it 
will only add tenfold force to the general impulse." Luther 
had heard with great pleasure of the marriage of a priest, his 
friend Bernard of Feldkirchen, pastor of Kemberg, and ob- 
served that he was " a husband strangely without fear in such 
troublesome times : the Lord direct him and mix delights with 
his lettuces, which will be the case without my prayers ; I fear 
he will be driven from his cure, and then another stomach 
will want besides his own, as well as the stomachs that may 
proceed from them. But if he has faith, God, who suffers 
not the fowl to starve, will provide for him.'^ 

The walls of the Wartburg often at this time rang with 
Luther's laughter, as he perused some of the satirical pieces 
against Popery, in the form of dialogue or otherwise, which 
had been forwarded to his retreat. " Wood from the burning of 
Luther's Books," the work of Francis Faber ; " The Dialogue 
between the He-goat and the Spectre," and other writings 
against Emser ; Hutten's " Address to the Hats and long- 
winged Hoopoes of Worms, i.e. the Cardinals and Bishops," 
afforded him especial amusement : and he examined with de- 
light the " Christ and Antichrist" of Luke Cranach, a series 
of antithetical engravings contrasting the meekness, humility, 
and sufferings of the Saviour, with the pomp, luxury, and ini- 
quities of his pretended Vicar ; to which Luther himself had 
added explanatory verses. 

Melancthon's " Common Places," the lasting value of which 
he had anticipated, had not been sent him, and he was very 
anxious to see what had as yet been printed of this celebrated 
work. " You will succeed to me," he wrote to Philip, " as 
Ehsha to EHas, with a double portion of my spirit. If I 
perish, the Gospel will not perish with me. It was not with 
my own will that I became a preacher of the Word. How can 
you complain that the Church is deprived of her pastor, when 


you and Amsdorf are at Wittenberg? I only wish that every 1521. 
Church were favoured with but a fourth part of you. Sing 
by night the song of the Lord which I sent you. I will sing 
it too without a care or solicitude about anything save the 
Word. He that is ignorant let him be ignorant : he that wiU 
perish let him perish, provided we are not lacking in our 
duty." " Behold," Luther wrote about the same period to 
Spalatin, " the hand of the mighty God of Jacob ! whilst I 
was free the priests and monks raved : now I am a captive 
they tremble. ' Be still, and God will fight for you/ ' Make 
your supplication upon your bed and be still.^ " 

But his joy at the progress of the Gospel was changed into 
sorrow when he heard of the uproar which the University 
students had raised at Erfurth. Draco, one of those who had 
met the Beformer at the gate of the town, had been dragged 
by his surplice from amongst the choristers, of whom he was 
one, by Severian, a bigoted Papist, in resentment of which the 
students had attacked the houses of the priests, and commit- 
ted much violence. " Such conduct," Luther complained to 
Melancthon, " is a shame and disgrace to our cause. Ah ! we 
are but the fig-tree by the walls of Jerusalem, only leaves and 
words, until we act as we teach." 

He used to date his letters " From the region of the birds," 
" From among the birds that sing sweetly on the boughs, and 
praise God with all their might night and day," or " From 
the place of my wandering," or " From the isle of Patmos," 
or " From my wilderness," or " Given at my mountain." 
Only Spalatin and Amsdorf knew of the actual place of his 
refuge : and the provost of the Castle used the utmost dili- 
gence, and with success, to prevent the secret from trans- 
piring. Towards the end of September, indeed, the secret 
was communicated to Duke John : and soon afterwards the 
secretary of the Duke, by some means or other, got an ink- 


1521. ling of the Reformer's whereabouts, and wrote to a woman 
of Torgau that he was concealed in the Wartburg ; * but 
the suspicion thus excited passed off without any injurious 

Before leaving Worms Luther had suffered very much from 
obstruction of the bowels ; and now in the Wartburg this 
malady returned with extreme severity and pain. He re- 
garded it as a correction from God; and blessed his name 
that " he did not leave him without the dear cross." But at 
times the apprehension which occasionally vexed him, that his 
seclusion was displeasing to God, gathered strength from this 
painful malady, which seemed a warning to go forth into active 
life again. Bodily indisposition was attended, as was usual 
with him, with spiritual trials : and he complained, that not 
only his body was still very weak, as at Worms, but also his 
spirit and his faith. On the 13th July, he wrote to Spalatin 
that for eight days he had suffered incredible pain, and, 
under the temptations of the flesh and the spirit, could 
neither write nor study : if the disorder continued he must go 
to Erfurth for medical advice, for " ten great wounds " would 
not be so bad as what he endured ! " Pray for me ! It is 
because I am alone, and you do not help me. Watch and 
pray \" He complained that often he could not pray for 
himself : but " sat insensible and hardened without a groan, 
without even a prayer for the Church of God." But the 
plague, which he himself thought very little of, for, " God," 
he said, " is everywhere," but which his friends estimated 
very differently, precluded his visit to Erfurth ; and Spalatin, 
earnestly and repeatedly implored by Melancthon to consider 
Luther's danger,t sent him some pills which afforded some 

* De Wette, II. p. 29. 

t Bret. I. 418. O utinam hac vili anima mea ipsius vitam emere 
queam, quo nihil nunc habet orbis terrarum Qetdrepoy. 


relief. Still the ailment was not overcome, but returned at 1521, 
intervals, until the 6th October, when he pronounced himself 
recovered. " My stomach and mouth are reconciled. Thanks 
be to God!" 

Luther's state of health will go far to account for the sen- 
sible assaults of Satan, and the preternatural sounds and 
noises which disturbed his quiet in the old castle. His apart- 
ment was divided from the other parts of the tower, and no 
one was allowed to approach him excepting two noble youths, 
who twice a day brought him food and drink. These attend- 
ants had brought him a bag of hazelnuts, which he placed in 
a chest, and ate of from time to time. He had withdrawn 
one night from his sitting apartment to his bedroom, and was 
laid down on his bed, when he was disturbed by an extraor- 
dinary commotion among the hazelnuts. They rolled and 
struck against one another with such violence, that they 
made the beams of the room to shake, and the bed on which 
Luther was lying to rattle. The same night, it would seem, 
although the steps leading to his solitary apartment were 
barred fast with iron chains and an iron door, so that no one 
could come up to them, after he had enjoyed a brief sleep he 
was suddenly awakened by a tremendous rumbling up and down 
the steps, which he describes as though threescore casks were 
rolling up and down. Luther, nothing doubting but that this 
was a machination of the devil, walked to the stairs head, and 
called aloud, — " Is it thou ? Be it so, then ! I commend me 
to the Lord Christ, of whom it is written in the eighth 
Psalm, ' Thou hast put all things under his feet.^ " And 
having said this he retired again to his repose. Another tale 
of the turret chamber of the Wartburg, relates that the Pro- 
vost's dame, who had been absent during the early part of 
Luther's sojourn, having heard it rumoured at Eisenach that 
he was her husband's guest, came to the Castle and insisted 


1521. on being allowed to see the Reformer. It was not thought 
safe to entrust her with the secret : so Luther was removed 
to another apartment, and the Lady von Berlepsch occupied 
the room which had before been his. But in the night her 
rest was broken in upon with every kind of noise, as if a 
thousand devils were holding their orgies round her. It was 
also at a later period of his stay in the Wartburg, that Luther, 
whilst engaged in the study of the New Testament, and trans- 
lating it from the Greek into German, was interrupted on 
more than one occasion by the baying of a dog at the door of 
his solitary room. The natural explanation is, that the Pro- 
vost's dog was the intruder ; but Luther was certain that no 
dog was near, or indeed could approach the door, and that it 
was the devil, who had assumed the form of a dog to molest 
him in his great work ; and he silenced the baying by appeal- 
ing to Christ. " That is the true way,^' said he, " to make 
satanical apparitions avaunt : show the devil you despise him, 
and call upon the Lord Christ." At another time the devil 
became a moth, fluttered round the candle, and flew buzzing 
round Luther's ears, who seized his inkstand and showered 
its contents over his wings. 

For an ailing body and an overwrought mind John von 
Berlepsch deemed the open air and active exercise the best 
medicine, and he recommended Luther to try this prescrip- 
tion. He took Yunker George out hunting with him. Then 
the Heformer would amuse himself with searching for straw- 
berries through the woods which clothed the sides of the 
mountain, where they abounded. Gradually becoming less 
anxious and cautious, the Provost assigned the Reformer a 
faithful and experienced attendant, in whose company he was 
permitted to visit the neighbouring towns and villages, and 
refresh himself in his ride at the inns or convents. On one 
occasion he was seated in the parlovir of an inn, when some 


books attracted his attention, and quickly laying aside his 1521. 
sword, he took up one of the volumes, opened it, and began 
reading, to the excessive annoyance of his companion, who 
admonished him to avoid such an unknightly act for the 
future, which could not fail to betray him if it were noticed. 
At the convent of Martschal, which he had before visited, he 
sat amongst his friends of the fraternity without being de- 
tected by any one. But at the convent of Rheinhardsbrunn, 
where it will be remembered he had rested a night in his journey 
to Worms, he was recognised by one of the lay brethren. The 
vigilant eye of the attendant promptly perceived this, and 
hinting to Luther that some particular business required his 
presence at a distant spot that evening, hurried him away and 
galloped home to the castle. But this adventure had the 
effect of circulating the intelligence that Luther was living in 
concealment somewhere in the neighbourhood of Eisenach : 
the Wartburg was suspected ; and the visit of the Provost's 
dame was occasioned by this report, and also an examination 
of the Wartburg itself by a prince and some great ladies who 
had heard the tidings. Fortunately, however, when these 
last-mentioned strangers arrived Luther was absent. Sitting 
at a table buried deep in thought, he had been overheard to 
exclaim, " O that I were at Wittenberg ! " and his host 
directed his attendant to escort him thither : and after re- 
maining some days in concealment at Amsdorfif's house, and 
conversing with his most intimate friends, he returned to the 
Wartburg without the secret of his retreat being divulged. 

In his knight's attire, in his excursions, and in the hunting 
field, Luther was still Luther, engrossed with his theology. 
AH he heard or saw ministered to the all-absorbing passion. 
" I have been engaged in hunting for two days," he wrote 
to Spalatin, " for I wished to experience that sweet and bitter 
pleasure of heroes. We took two hares and some poor par- 


1521. tridgcs : an occupation for men who have plenty of time upon 
their hands. But amongst the nets and dogs I turned theo- 
logian, and as much pleasure as the mimicry afforded, so 
mucli pity and pain did the mystery it veiled mingle with it. 
For it is but a mimic show. Satan with his snares and dogs, 
his impious masters, bishops and divines, hunts the innocent 
for his prey. I had a vivid sense of this sad mystery of 
simple and faithful souls. And the mystery grew more terri- 
ble when, after I had saved one leveret alive, and hid it in the 
sleeve of my coat, and removed to a little distance, the dogs 
scented out their victim, sprang up at it, broke its leg and 
throttled it. It is thus that Satan and the Pope rage. The 
souls that I Avould fain rescue they destroy, and care nought 
for my pains. I have had enough of hunting, and deem it 
sweeter sport to strike down, with javelin and arrow, bears, 
wolves, boars, and foxes, and such kind of vile teachers. It is, 
however, a solace to me that it is a mystery savouring of sal- 
vation that hares and innocent beasts should be caught by man 
rather than by bears, wolves, and rapacious hawks, and their 
counterparts Bishops and Divines. That would be a capture 
for hell, the other denotes a capture for heaven. I mention 
to you this similitude, to let you understand that you courtiers 
who pursue your prey, are a prey yourselves. Christ, the 
best huntsman, with great pains is trying to catch you and 
save you. Yon are yourselves a sport whilst you sport in 
huutiug.'^ * 

Nothing could exceed the attention of the Provost to his 
prisoner : the best of everything was placed on Luther's table : 
but this veiy profusion made him anxious to know at whose 
cost he was living in his wilderness. " I care not where I 
may be," he wrote to Spalatin, "provided I am not burden- 

* De Wette, II. p. 43. 


some to others. But I cannot endure that any one should be 1521. 
put to expense on my account. And if it were not my belief 
that I am maintained at the expense of our Prince, I would 
not remain here another hour and consume the substance of 
my guardian who supplies me with everything with the 
greatest alacrity and cheerfulness. If I am to waste any one's 
wealth, let it be the wealth of princes. For it is unavoidable 
but a prince must be in some measure a robber ; and how 
much the more a prince, so much the more a robber. Inform 
me upon this point." Luther made the best return he could 
to his host : and twice every Sunday preached to him and to 
such of his friends in the Castle, or from the neighbourhood, 
as were allowed the privilege of being present as being judged 
trustworthy. Then he would retire to his solitary room, and 
read and write. Sometimes day succeeded to day and night 
to night, and the Reformer, immersed in the study of the 
Hebrew or Greek Scriptures, or occupied with one of his 
writings, would forget the lapse of time in the ardour of his 
interest. At other times his pen would be laid aside, his 
books lie unopened, and he would be quite prostrated, and the 
fire of his energy for a time overpowered by the force of his 
temptations of the flesh and spirit. At such periods he wrote 
in the deepest melancholy, and with something of reproach to 
his friends, urging them to pray for him. "1 am exposed to 
a thousand Satans in this idle wilderness." " Multitudes of 
malicious and crafty devils scoff at me and rob me of my time." 
" I have more than one Satan with me, or rather against me, 
whilst I am thus alone : but sometimes I am not alone." 
Luther passed from one extreme to another, toiling for some 
days without intermission, then lost in dejection, partly phy- 
sical, partly of a spiritual origin, brooding over the woes of 
the Church, groaning under his own trials from his " untamed 
flesh," and lamenting his sinful idleness. 


1521. What he really achieved with his pen during his ten 
months of exile must appear to ordinary minds almost incre- 
dible. Having written a commentary on the 68th Psalm, 
finished his exposition of the 22nd Psalm,^ in which the herald 
had found him engaged when he summoned him to Worms, 
and having also concluded his comments on the Magnificat, he 
composed a sermon on Confession, for the edification of the 
Provost, and then enlarged the sermon into a book for general 
reading.f CEcolampadius, he found, had anticipated him in 
the subject, and he received his tract from Spalatin, and ad- 
mired the ^' free, confident, and Christian spirit " in which it 
was written, and was pleased that the Swiss divine and him- 
self had fallen on the same line of argument. Luther dedi- 
cated this treatise to Frank Sickengen, his " special lord and 
patron.'^ He affirmed in it that he could not discover any 
Scriptural warrant whatever for the confession of sins to the 
Pope, a bishop, or priest. The injunction simply declared — 
" Confess your faults one to another." So that, according to 
Scripture, the Pope himself must make confession of his own 
sins, as well as the meanest Christian. He sent also some 
theses on confession to Wittenberg for disputation : but the 
Elector prohibited any discussion being held on the subject, 
which gave great displeasure to Luther, and induced him to 
warn Melancthon not to heed the Court much : " had he 
himself heeded it, he should never have done half that he had 
done." On some spare space of the last sheet of the Treatise 
on Confession, he wrote a commentary on the 119th Psalm, but 

* Nam Psalmum xxi. antea misi completum ad typos suos. The 
reading should evidently be Psalmum xxii., for Psalm xxi. had been 
completed long before. 

t He also wrote an address to those who were questioned at the 
confessional, whether they had any of his books. Walch. XIX. pp. 1007 


retained it to give it the last touch, when he sent the other 1521. 
productions of this date to Spalatin for publication.* The 
119th Psalm contained, he observed, 176 verses; and yet it 
was all summed up in two things : first, that God must be the 
teacher ; secondly, to beware of man's teaching. 

He next turned his attention to Latomus' Vindication of 
the judgment of the University of Louvain, and in twelve 
days finished his " Confutation," which must ever be ranked 
amongst the ablest of his writings. He dedicated this work 
to Justus Jonas, who, by the death of Henning Goden, had 
just been appointed Provost of All Saints' Collegiate Church, 
a post of importance as giving supervision over thirty 
churches.f He implored Jonas, in his epistle dedicatory, 
" like Aaron in his sacred vestments, so clothed in the robe of 
Holy Scripture, the censer of prayer in his hands, to stand 
between the living and the dead, and stay the devastation of 
the Roman fire.'' 

Luther expressed his gratitude to God, in the commence- 
ment of this treatise, for the sure and certain conviction 
vouchsafed to him that the Pope is the Antichrist foretold in 
Scripture, and the universities synagogues of Satan, " wherein 
sophistical divines. Epicurean hogs, bear rule." Latomus had 
introduced in his work an old man, who, with what he cha- 
racterised as great wisdom, proposed three modes for mending 
the morals of the Bishop of Rome : the first, to cease making 
unworthy demands, and each one to correct his own failings : 
the second, prayer : the third, patience. The first, Luther 
replied, is the modus optativus, thinking that we may think ; 
as for instance, if an ass could but fly, an ass would have 
wings ; if the people did not make unworthy demands, the 

* See his letter of June 10. De Wette, II. p. 16. 
t The Provost was required to lecture on Canon Law, which Jonas 
refused to do without hindrance to his appointment. 


loJl. Pope would become a better man. ''What! Are the sheep 
to feed themselves, the people to direct themselves, and lead 
their shepherd to the pasture, and show their footprints to 
guide their guardian ! " As to the second mode, no one is 
prayed for more universally than the Pope : as to the third, no 
tjTanny has been endured with such long-continued patience 
as his. So what does the counsel of Latomus' wiseacre amount 
to ? Luther proceeds, " Quoth Latomus, ' You excite sedi- 
tion, and you do not make men better by your preaching.^ 
The argument of the Jews ! They objected to Christ that he 
stirred up the people, and men did not become a whit the 
better for his doctrine ; nay, they became worse. Was Christ 
silent on such grounds ? or is there any truth in the inference, 
' They will not hear, therefore you must hold your peace ? ' 
But what assurance is there that no one is made better ? The 
sedition which wastes the body is dreaded, the sedition which 
Avastes the soul is unthought of ! " Latomus had especially 
decried Luther's statement that every good act of man is 
really sin : and the " Confutation " is principally taken up 
with defending and explaining in all its bearings this theolo- 
gical verity. " Scripture," Luther said, " declares it emphati- 
cally in pronouncing of God, ' In thy sight can no man living 
be justified.' By sin is meant what is contrary to the law of 
God. The Fathers of the Church, for the most part gently, 
spoke of failings and infirmities : but Augustine, in round 
terms, after the example of Scripture, called failings and in- 
firmities by their true names, sins and iniquities. In Christ, 
however, there is a complete refuge for him who knows that 
he can do no good thing : and that God has commanded what 
no man can perform. In substitution for man's guilt there is 
Christ's righteousness : in place of that wrath, which every 
act of every man deserves, but which the blood of Christ has 
quenched, there is the grace of the Holy Spirit. And he who 


is under wrath is wholly under wrath : and he who is under 1521. 
grace is wholly under grace. God does nothing by halves. 
The righteousness begun in the Christian by the Holy Spirit 
must ever adhere to the righteousness of Christ, and as a 
wave from the ocean, flow from him, and roll back towards 
him, for his righteousness is certain and perpetual, without any 
failing or infirmity.^' 

At the close, the Reformer returned to Jonas. " My dear 
Jonas, I have done with Latomus, and send him to you, to 
spare myself further trouble, for I have begun the Exposition 
of the Gospels and Epistles in German, which is the reason 
why I was annoyed to have to read and reply to his jargon. 
At some other time I may answer all that he has said : but at 
present in my exile I am without books, and am under that 
sentence of the masters of heresy, that Jews should read the 
Bible only. I have only the Bible with me. Not that I 
make much account of being without other books; but T 
should have examined, had it been in my power, whether the 
quotations from the Fathers are honestly made by my adver- 
sary. He cites Dionysius on praying to God for the dead, 
whereas I very well remember that the passage simply refers 
to giving thanks to God in their behalf. But why not some 
of you reply to the remainder ? Why not you yourself? Or 
what is Amsdorf about ? I have crushed the head, why not 
some of you trample the serpent's body ? " 

The " Confutation " finished, Luther hastened on with his 
translation of the Postils from Latin into German ; and to 
those for the four Sundays in Advent, which he had to trans- 
late, he intended to add six Sundays more, and then have the 
whole ten published together.* He deemed the Postils of pri- 
mary importance. But his attention was divided by fresh 

* De Wette, II. p. 33. 
VOL. I. U 


1521. material for controversy. On the 15tli April the condemna- 
tion of his opinions had been pronounced by the University 
of Paris. The theological Faculty enumerated the heretics 
who had disturbed the peace of the Church from the earliest 
age, and ended with Martin Luther, who, if the " Babylonian 
Captivity," and the other works bearing his name, were really 
his, had united in his sentiments some portion of all the 
heresies of preceding times. An index of matter, and the 
citation, under separate heads, of propositions drawn from the 
Reformer's writings, seemed to imply that the work of con- 
demnation had not been executed carelessly or hastily. But 
it was also known that three Doctors, Beda, Quercus, and 
Christophorus,"^ had originated the condemnation, and that 
others of the Faculty had expressed disapprobation. And the 
Sorbonne had given no better reason for their sentence than 
— " This is absurd — This is heretical." In order that this 
judgment might not weigh with the public, from the character 
for erudition enjoyed by the Sorbonne, Melancthon imme- 
diately replied to it with great point and acuteness. He 
proved the Masters of the Sorbonne to be really the heretics 
instead of Luther ; he told them that any German school-boy 
could cobble up a refutation as good as theirs out of Gabriel 
and Scotus ; that it was most absurd to call, as they had done, 
University decrees, sayings of Fathers of the Church, and 
decrees of Councils, the first principles of the Christian faith ; 
that it mattered little what Paris thought, what was required 
was a sufficient reason for her thinking as she did ; that it was 
plain they had never read Augustine ; that they had misin- 
terpreted the author of the " Calling of the Gentiles," whe- 
ther Ambrose or some other Father ; and that of Scripture 
they knew nothing whatever. Their vocation was rather to 

* Named by Luther Bellua, Stercus. and Cliristotomos. 


make drains than to handle divinity, Luther read with delight 1521. 
Melancthon's reply, and set himself to work to translate it 
into German for popular reading, appending notes, as he went 
on, derisive of the " Parisian asses/' And shortly afterwards 
" The Comedy of Luther, condemned by the Stupid and Sa- 
crilegious Sorbonne ; or. The Second Determination of the 
Sorbonne in condemnation of Philip Melancthons's Apology,^^ 
made its appearance, the product probably of Luther^s humor- 
ous hours in his retreat. It consisted of three parts or books : 
the first, a parody of the condemnation of Luther, a proposi- 
tion from Melancthon^s work being recited, and then the 
verdict of the Faculty, delivered upon it in the pompous and 
self-satisfied style of the all-authoritative Sorbonne ; the second 
book gave the reasons why the judgment of the Sorbonne 
must be correct ; and the third demonstrated that the only 
reliable authority in the world was the Sorbonne. 

Luther had directed Amsdorf to reply to Emser, who had 
again attacked him in the " Quadruplia ; " but, considering 
what a " captious, cavilling Satan " dwelt in the he-goat as 
" in an appropriate vessel," he at last answered him himself. 
The topic for argument between Emser and Luther at this 
time was, the nature of the Christian priesthood, which the 
Reformer insisted appertained to every Christian in common. 
And he also wrote a commentary on the bull " In Csena 
Domini," as a new year's wish or present for the Pope. 

It must not be thought surprising that Luther spent some 
of his hours in his solitude in giving vent to his inexhaustible 
humour and talent for satire. It was a relief to his own 
mind under the weight of overpowering thoughts; and he 
knew the influence which the ridiculous exercises upon public 
sentiment. Germany was inundated with writings of this 
kind at this period, as if the profound spirit of the national 
convictions was working itself clear of the dregs of heat and 

u 2 


1521. irritation through such a channel. Never had Hutten tried 
his pen more felicitously than in his " Conclave of Theologers 
against the Friends of Germany and of Literature, held at 
Cologne.^^ Various expedients are suggested by the different 
theologians for relieving Eck from his embarrassments, who 
gives a piteous talc of his case to the meeting, and for staying 
the progress of the evangelical opinions. One proposes a 
ghostly apparition of St. Thomas, to proclaim the tenets of 
the Roman Church to be in strict accordance with his own 
infallible wisdom — a spiritual artifice not beyond the know- 
ledge or experience of the religious orders. Another inti- 
mates that a cardinal's red robe, or a bishop's crozier, w ould be 
the most likely means to quiet Luther. The aged Hochstraten 
(Hochstrata) , who presides, discovers something to detract 
from the value of every suggestion, and finally dismisses the 
conclave, by pronouncing the Faculty of Theology at Cologne 
extinct. Another popular dialogue represented Eck in a 
lamentable plight from sickness and remorse, and attended 
by a physician, a barber, and a confessor. The confessor, in- 
stead of hearing, as he expects, a confession of sins from the 
ailing divine, hears a list of Eck's academical titles and 
polemical triumphs, and only by the utmost dint of per- 
severing ingenuity extorts from him the various base motives 
which induced him to oppose Luther, The barber shaves his 
head, and looks aghast to find it inscribed up and down with 
propositions, syllogisms, and the complete science of scho- 
lasticism. The physician gives him an emetic ; and he 
vomits up the load from his stomach in the form of bulls, 
briefs, and decretals, &c, : and a purgative draught produces 
no less astonishing results, 

Luther also composed, during his banishment at his Patmos, 
an "Instruction on Baptism;" and a brief treatise "Against 
the falsely called spiritual rank of the Pope and Bishops," in 


which he promulgated his own bull excommunicating the 1521. 
Pope and Bishops, and pronouncing those who upheld them 
to be " servants of the devil," and those who would annihilate 
their antichristian rule to be " God's dear children." Jesus 
Christ, he said, had expressly forbidden all such dominion and 
authority as were exercised by the Princes of the Gentiles 
over the Gentiles. The objection against a return to the 
simple institution of the Church as founded by Christ, seemed 
to lie in the difficulty which the nobility would have in pro- 
viding for their children if bishoprics were dons away with. 
To obviate this, he proposed that the eldest son, as among the 
Jews, should inherit the largest portion of the father's pro- 
perty, and that the other children, who were not to be with- 
out their share, should be placed on a par with the burghers. 
For "it never could end in good for the nobility to inter- 
marry solely with the nobility." He was requested by Spa- 
latin, — who had first applied to Melancthon, and had been by 
him referred to Luther, — to write a consolatory treatise for 
the Elector under his many and increasing trials ; but this he 
declined to do, alleging that he had already framed a work 
with this object, the " Tessaradecas." But he composed a 
treatise, at the solicitation of Duke John, on the injunction 
of Christ to the ten lepers whom he had healed, to ''go and 
show themselves to the priests," in which the Papists asserted 
that the doctrine of private confession was inculcated. It 
seems, moreover, that at this period the Reformer wrote an 
exposition of John vi. 37 — 40,* for the instruction of the 
Saxon court, at the desire of Spalatin. But his industry 
was not seconded by the Elector's secretary with any kin- 
dred zeal in forwarding the printing of his writings. The 
Elector was apprehensive of offending the Emperor by in- 

* See Walch. VII. pp. 2565—2575. 


1521. fringing the edict, and the printing was intentionally post- 
poned, to Luther's excessive annoyance ; so that he was 
obliged to expostulate strongly with Spalatin, and insist on 
compliance with lus wishes. But even when he received his 
Treatise on Confession, printed by John Luft of Wittenberg, 
he was vexed by discovering the grossest inaccuracies in the 
execution, and directed that the Postils should be printed by 

A brief writing of this period, in a catechetical form, gives 
his " extempore answers '' to propositions alleged against him 
as heretical by his adversaries, taken from his " Babylonian 
Captivity," and his " Assertion." It is valuable as a concise 
representation of his doctrines. 

Question. The bread and wine remain in the Sacrament of 
the altar ; and there is no transubstantiation ? 

huther. I do not condemn such an opinion ; but deny it to 
be an article of faith, for there is no such doctrine as transub- 
stantiation in Scripture : but the body and blood of Christ 
are in the Sacrament. 

Q. The Sacrament is not entire and perfect in one kind only ? 

Luther. Not as regards the kinds, but perfect as regards 
the substance. The whole of Christ is in either kind ; but 
the Sacrament is not perfect without both. 

Q. All persons are impious who object to the laity com- 
municating in both kinds ? 

Luther. Yes ; they are guilty of a breach of the institution 
of Christ. 

Q. It is a palpable and impious error to offer mass for the 
dead ? 

Luther. Truly so as regards the mass or sacrament itself; 
but not as regards prayer in the Sacrament. For it is the 
nature of the Sacrament that each one must partake of it for 
liimself ; he cannot do so for another. 


Q. A baptized person cannot, if he will, lose salvation by 1521. 
any sins whatever, provided he have faith ? 

Luther. Because faith does away with all sins ; and he who 
has faith cannot sin wilfully. 

Q. No one has a right to impose anything upon a Christian 
without his consent ; and whatever is so imposed, is imposed 
in a tyrannical spirit ? 

Luther. Clearly so ; for Paul says (Coloss. ii.), " Beware 
lest any man spoil you, after the tradition of men." 

Q. It is not necessary to confess one's secret sins to a 
prelate or priest ; but it is lawful to disclose such sins to any 
brother or sister ? 

Luther. Because the duty of confessing such sins cannot 
be proved from Holy Scripture. 

Q. Whoever shall confess his sins of his own accord to any 
brother privately, and shall amend his life, is absolved from 
all his sins? 

Luther. Yes ; for Christ says to all Christians, " Whatso- 
ever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'^ 

Q. The circumstances of sins, the time, place, person, and 
all that is external are equal, and to be entirely disregarded ? 

Luther. Christ has made no mention of such points in his 

Q. The single circumstance to be considered is, that sin 
has been done ? 

Luther. Yes ; God accepteth no man's person. 

Q. Marriage cannot be prohibited, nor when contracted be 
dissolved, for any cause except too near afl&nity or consan- 
guinity ? 

Luther. So the law of God declares, although the law of 
the Pope says otherwise. 

Q. All baptized Christians are equally priests, that is, have 
the same power in the Word and Sacraments ? 


1521. Lnther. For Peter declares (1 Peter ii.), " Ye are a royal 
priesthood." But they do not all enjoy the functions of the 
ministry, but only those ordained to that power. 

Q. Any deacon or layman may ordain priests, consecrate 
churches and bells, and confirm children ? 

Luther. That is, these meaner offices ought to be committed 
to those of less account in the Church ; not to bishops, whose 
business is to preach the Gospel. 

Luther's almost superhuman energy in controversial and 
theological writings did not prevent his keeping a steady eye 
on the course of events. In him the man of s'udy and the 
man of action were united. His large correspondence kept 
him accurately and promptly informed of all that was passing 
amongst the reforming party ; the movements in the Papist 
body were also known to him ; and every rumour of public 
events was carried to his mountain. On most of these, as 
they occurred, his letters preserve his spontaneous judgments, 
delivered with his characteristic turn of thought. The death 
of a bishop who had been one of his most virulent opponents 
at AVorms, lie interpreted as a sign of God's Avrath and indig- 
nation against the Papists. On hearing that Chaiies' chief 
chamberlain was dead, and had left his master a million of 
gold pieces, '' How confident," he exclaimed, " is Christ, that 
he is not appalled by mountains of gold ! " The insurrection 
in Spain, and the war with France, which had already broken 
out in Navarre and in the Low Countries, drew from him 
the prophecy, that the Emperor would continue to be en- 
tangled in wars throughout his career ; that he would never 
enjoy prosperity ; but would pay the penalty of the impiety 
of others for repudiating to the face by their counsel the 
truth at Worms : and that Germany would be involved in 
calamity with him, because she had assented to impiety.* 

* Do Welti', II. p. 30. 


" But God \>dll know his own." His eye rested continually 1521. 
on Wittenberg, where the horizon seemed the brightest with 
hope. Philip was lecturing in the Colossians, Amsdorf in the 
Hebrews. " How I Avish/' Luther wrote to them, " that I 
could be a scholar in your lecture-room." He suggested that 
a sermon should be delivered on the afternoons of Sa"nts' 
days, to keep the people from the games and drinking which 
had converted the holidays of the Church to a use very dif- 
ferent from that which they had been intended to serve. 
And sensible of the importance of religious culture for society 
generally, and especially that most influential portion of it, 
the wife, mother, and sister, he entreated Melancthon, after 
the example of Origen, to establish a lecture in the Scriptures 
for women only, and to become '' a German bishop as he was 
already a Latin bishop." He was desirous of re-introduc- 
ing lay-preaching according to the custom of the primitive 
Church. It was his constant regret and complaint that 
Melancthon, with a wife and children, was so slenderly fur- 
nished with the needful, and he was repeatedly demanding an 
increase of salary for him from the Court. Then the plague 
was reported to be at Wittenberg ; and his afffection took the 
alarm lest Philip, on whom, under God, his hopes for Ger- 
many were built, should be cut ofi", and his safety Avas to be 
at once provided for by his temporary removal to a distance. 
So richly did he deem Wittenberg endowed with labourers in 
the Gospel field, that he projected himself undertaking the 
office of theological teacher at Cologne or at Erfurth, or of 
travelling as a missionary through Germany, as soon as ever 
he should quit his concealment. And it is a proof how alive 
he had become to the necessities of the times, that almost all 
his works in the Wartburg were written in German. Yet 
notwithstanding the daily progress of the Reformation, his 
mind was full of forebodings of evil. His friend Lupin 
Rhadheim, to whom, together with Carlstadt, he had dedi- 


1521. cated liis Commentary on the Galatians, had been called to 
rest. " How I envy him," Luther exclaimed, " his happy 
death ! I see daily more and more clearly from my watch- 
tower the signs of God^s wrath, which is so great against a 
wicked generation, that T fear few except infants are saved 
from the jaws of Satan." 

But if all Germany passed under Luther's review from his 
mount of observation, the Reformer himself, although absent 
in flesh, was never more really present in spirit with his 
countrymen than at this epoch. From the heights of the 
Wartburg, say his French biographers, he loomed upon the 
eye of all Germany.* A remarkable stage had been reached 
in the progress of the Reformation, that transition period in 
mental revolutions, when thoughts which have long animated 
one heart are transferred with such vital power to the hearts 
of others as to cause their presentation no longer in mere 
word or writing, but in act and life ; and the field of specula- 
tion is changed for that of practice. None of these alterations 
in religious and social life were indeed made at Luther's direct 
instigation : on the contrary, the part which he played in re- 
ference to them was to moderate and control, rather than to 
stimulate and impel, but they were not the less legitimate de- 
ductions from his system of doctrine. Some extravagant 
abuses of his teaching were attempted, as is natural in a period 
of commotion ; for ambitious and unscrupulous men are every- 
where to be found, Avho are sure to seize the opportunity which 
such a state of things holds out to them, for deluding others 
and aggrandizing themselves. But with these excesses Luther 
is by no means chargeable : on the contrary, he used his 
utmost endeavours and exerted all his influence to nip the evil 
in the bud. And it is thus from this point in his history that 

* " II plainc invisible du liaut du chateau."— Michelet. I. p. 93. Audin, 
II. p. 138. 


some of the most distinctive features of his character, which 1521. 
had before lain obscured, are drawn out by the force of cir- 
cumstances, and placed in a strong light. 

The first open inroad on the papal system was the infringe- 
ment of the law of clerical celibacy. Three priests, Bartholo- 
mew Bernard Feldkirchen, as already alluded to, and a pastor 
in the Mansfeld district, and James Seidler, pastor of Glas- 
hutte, with the sanction of their respective Churches, entered 
upon the married state. Feldkirchen, being pastor of Kem- 
berg, within the civil jurisdiction of the Elector of Saxony, 
appealed from the Archbishop of Mentz, who had expressed 
himself dissatisfied with his reasons for violating the customs 
of the Roman Church, as stated in a letter addressed to him,* 
to Frederic ; and he found so much favour with the Elector, 
that when the Archbishop demanded that the culprit should 
be sent to him to Halle, the answer was returned that the 
Elector would not act the part of a constable. But Seidler 
and the Mansfeld pastor were less fortunate. f Being under 
the jurisdiction of Duke George of Saxony, Seidler was deli- 
vered up by that prince to the Bishop of Misnia, who con- 
signed him to prison, where he died or was put to death, and 
the Mansfeld married clergyman was thrown into prison by 
the Archbishop of Mentz. It has been seen that the mar- 
riage of the secular clergy in these first instances at once re- 
ceived the approbation of Luther. It was decisive in his eyes 
that the Scriptures called the prohibition of matrimony " a 
doctrine of devils ; " and there was no self-imposed vow of 
celibacy in the case of the secular clergy as in the case of the 
monks. GermanyJ had been very reluctant to obey the Pope 

* This was wT-itten for Feldkirchen by Melancthon. See it in Walch. 
XV. pp. 2354, &c. 

t Bretsclineider, I. pp. 418, &c. 

X Et accepit jugum hoc infelix Germauia sero admodum nee nisi 
coacta. — Feldkirchen's Apology. 


1521. in the matter of celibacy from tlie first; and the Reformer 
had the vivid German appreciation of domestic life; and^ 
writing from the Wartburg to his friend Gerbel^ the lawyer, 
of Strasburg, to congratulate him on having entered the con- 
jugal state, observes, "Even in the depths of poverty matri- 
mony appears to me a paradise." But this beginning of 
throwing off the papal yoke could not stop short at one class 
or one tyrannical restriction. 

The renouncing of the monastic vow by several monks of 
the A-Ugustine Order soon followed. This was done at the 
fervent recommendation of Gabriel Zwilling or Didymus, a 
brother of the fraternity, who had been elevated into conse- 
quence by his pulpit talents in Luther's absence — for, not- 
withstanding a small stature and a very slender voice, he was 
possessed of an attractive popular eloquence; and he pro- 
claimed to his Order, in the little Augustine church at Wit- 
tenberg, that " there was no salvation under the cowl." And 
it shortly appeared that public opinion went with him in this 
denunciation. Such monks as seceded from the convent were 
received into society with general welcome and applause; 
whilst the lingerers in the Augustine and Carmelite monaste- 
ries in the town fell under such violent displeasure from the 
students and townspeople that they were in constant dread of 
an attack upon their asylums. Before long the Augustine 
monastery* became deserted by all except Conrad Helt, the 
prior, who alone did not relish the new proceedings ; and the 

* The Augustines of Misnia and Thuringia in December or January, 
1521-2, resolved — 1. That each monk might remain in his cloister or 
not, as he pleased, for " in Christ there was neither Jew nor Greek, 
monk nor layman." 2. Might please himself in garb and food. B. That 
love should be guide in all things. 4. That beggary be abolished. 
5. That such monks as had the gift of preacliing should devote them- 
selves to that office ; the rest learn some handicraft to support them- 
selves and their brethren. 6. Obedience should be shown to the 
superior from love, to avoid scandals. — Walch. XV. p. 2333. 


Elector forwarded invitations to monks in Misnia and else- 1521. 
where to come and occupy the vacant cells. 

Carlstadt had openly declared himself in some theses in 
favour of the abolition of the monastic vow : but his reasons 
were not satisfactory to Luther's mind. Melancthon also 
entertained the same sentiments as Carlstadt ; and letters on 
this and other subjects, now prominently throAvn into the 
crucible of popular discussion, were continually passing be- 
tween Wittenberg and the Wartburg. Bnt notwithstanding, 
Luther was at first disposed to place himself in the gap, and 
stay the work of demolition : his temper was strongly con- 
servative ; all that he had already done had, in fact, been con- 
servative, in restoration, or rather, in retention, in act as 
well as in profession, of the Divine authority of the Scrip- 
tures : and all that he had done had been accompanied by 
sharp pangs of self-accusation and reproach, which nothing 
but a sense of duty had availed to compose and overcome. 
And he now felt, that to throw open the convent gates to the 
monks and nuns, and let each who would settle down in some 
domestic sphere, would be not only a blow at the foundations 
of Popery, but an entire revolution in Christian society. He 
anticipated, what hasty innovators always overlook, the great 
peril which must ever attend the loosening an important stone 
in an old fabric. '^ "What ! " he exclaimed, " let the monks take 
wives ! At least they shall not obtrude a wife upon me ! " 
" The friars," he wrote to Melancthon, "have of their own 
accord preferred a life of celibacy. They are not like the 
priests ordained of God, and so absolved from the command- 
ments of men." But as he pondered on the subject with more 
searching deliberation, the recollection of his own conventual 
life came powerfully before his mind — the idleness, gluttony, 
and licentiousness, which his own experience had proved to him 
were the usual inmates of the cloister — and a ray of hope broke 
in upon his reveries, that, perhaps, even now Providence might 


1521. be preparing a way for the rescue of thousands of souls from 
" the hell of the monastery." In his own visits of inspection 
as temporary superintendent^ he had always acted upon the 
principle that a vow undertaken before the age of discretion 
was not binding. But what he required^ was to release 
others, as well as the very young, from a chain which galled 
soul and body. He fell upon his knees and prayed earnestly 
that the Lord Jesus would vouchsafe his teaching, and of his 
mercy grant that freedom which he alone could bestow. In 
this examination of the subject, he proposed to himself a sim- 
ple but conclusive question, "Is the monastic vow conform- 
able or otherwise to the spirit of the Gospel and the Word of 
God ? " And, by applying this test, he arrived at the conclu- 
sion, that the monastic vow, if based on the notion of human 
merit, and the supposition that God's anger is appeased by 
the denial of passions which he has himself implanted in 
the breast, must be opposed, not more to nature, than to 
the fundamental doctrine of Scripture, salvation by Christ 
alone through faith, and therefore quite irreconcileable 
with the primary obligation of obedience to the Divine 

Melancthon had tried the solution of the question by an- 
other mode, and dwelt on the impossibility of fulfilling the 
vow as decisive against it. Luther rejected this reasoning, 
because all the commands of God are, in strict language, im- 
possible of fulfilment, but they are not on that account not 
binding. " The difference," he wrote to Philip, " between the 
commands of God and the monastic vow is, that the latter is 
self-imposed. Make that, then, your ground of dispensing 
with it, and not the impossibility of fulfilment." But even so, 
he was not satisfied. '' We must annul the vow," he said, " not 
a posteriori, but a priori." He was resolved so thoroughly 
to sift the subject, as to satisfy his own conscience and the 
consciences of others, that the overthrow of monasticism was 


demanded by the principles of Sacred Writ. He dreaded 1521. 
nothiug more than hasty acts undertaken, not on the verdict 
of conscience, but the spur of some excited feeling, which, 
with the excitement, would be sure to pass away, and leave the 
mind to the stings and goads of a wounded conscience. The 
solution which he had already arrived at, was satisfactory to his 
judgment as far as it went ; but it did not release all monks and 
nuns from their self-imposed obligations, but only those who 
had incurred them under the mistaken idea that the cowl aad 
the veil are a passport to heaven. The question was thus left 
to be determined by the individual conscience, for, if the vow 
had not been undertaken under such an illusion, the command 
remained unrepealed, " Vow, and pay unto the Lord thy 
vows.^' He anxiously longed for a meeting with Melancthon 
in some secret place, to discuss and decide upon a point of 
such extreme moment. But gradually he assumed a more 
decided position ; and without any reference to individual in- 
tention, pronounced the vow itself, in every case, impious. 
" It is certain,^^ he subsequently Avrote to Melancthon, " that 
the vow is in itself impious. We have only to trust wholly in 
the Gospel. I thank our gracious Saviour and Lord Jesus 
Christ, for the firm and unhesitating conviction which he has 
aflPorded me.^' His long process of reflection on this subject 
was marked at the different stages, by the writings which he 
gave to the public : first, " Conclusions on Vows and the 
Spiritual Life of the Cloister ;" secondly, " Considerations and 
Information respecting the Monastic and other Vows ; ^' and 
last, came his mature and final judgment, in a treatise " On 
Spiritual and Monastic Vows." * 

This work was dedicated to his father, John Luther, in a 
striking letter. He assured his dear father that there was now 
nothing of which he was so strongly convinced, as of the reli- 

* It was printed in the January following. 


1521. gious obligation of a command from God. He had been a 
monk for nearly sixteen years. He had entered the convent 
in his twenty-second year, c<(ntrary to his father's wish. Ter- 
rors from heaven, not love of the belly, had driven him to 
such a step; and he had uttered an enforced vow under the 
dread of immediate death. But his father^s expostulation 
with him, " Did you never hear that children should obey 
their parents ? " had sunk deep into his heart. God, how- 
ever, had overruled all for good. He had become a monk to 
learn what the wisdom and sanctity of the monastery are by 
his own experience : and although his life had not been with- 
out sin, it had been without crime. " Well, then," he con- 
tinued, " you are still a father, and I a son ; all my vows are 
worthless. On your side is Divine authority, on mine nothing 
but human presumption. Celibacy, which they applaud with 
bursting cheeks, is nothing without obedience to God's com- 
mands. It is nowhere enjoined ; obedience to God is every- 
where enjoined. Celibacy has been tricked out by Papist art 
in feathers stolen from conjugal chastity. Will you, then, 
my dear father, now exert your parental authority to release 
me from the monastery ? To give you no cause to boast, the 
Lord has been beforehand with you, and has himself released 
me. I may still, indeed, wear the monk's garb and tonsure, 
but what of that ? The cowl belongs to me, not I to the 
cowl. My conscience is free, and that is the true and real 
freedom. I am, therefore, now a monk, and yet no monk, a 
new creature, not of the Pontiff, but of Christ. Christ is my 
Bishop, Abbot, Prior, Lord, Father, and Master. I know no 
other any more. And I trust that he took one son from you, 
that through that one he may comfort many of his sons. 
What greater joy could you experience ! And what if the 
Pope should kill me, or sentence me to hell ! Once killed, he 
will never be able to raise me to life and kill me asrain ; and 
as for his sentence, I pray that I may so sin in his eyes, as to 


sin unto death, and never be absolved by him. I am con- 1521. 
fident the day is approaching when that kingdom of abomina- 
tion and perdition shall fall. How glorious to be accounted 
worthy to be the first victims of the fire or the sword, that our 
blood might cry to heaven and hasten the day of his destruc- 
tion. But if we be not counted worthy to seal our testimony 
with our blood, at least let us pray and entreat for this mercy 
to bear testimony with our life, and with our voice, that 
Jesus Christ is our only Lord God, blessed for ever ! Amen. 
In whom, farewell, beloved father, and salute my mother, 
your Margaret, with all my kinsfolk in Christ.'^ 

Luther's position in his Treatise is, that the whole monastic 
life is built upon lies. Vows were to be kept, but only true 
vows. The vow of St. Paul, in the Acts, was nothing but a 
vestige of the ancient Jewish law. St. Anthony, the prince 
of monks, had taught that nothing should be attempted on 
any authority but that of Scripture ; and so he lived in the 
desert unwedded, but bound by no vow of celibacy. Now, 
Christ declared, as to the way of salvation, " I am the way, 
the truth, and the life.'' Monasticism had fabricated some 
other way. Monasticism turned Scripture into a lie in other 
points. It distinguished between the counsels and the pre- 
cepts of the Gospel, and also between the state of perfection 
and the state of imperfection of the Christian life. Celibacy 
was the state of perfection, and the precepts were addressed to 
all, the counsels only to such as might be disposed to listen to 
them in order to earn a higher condition of bliss hereafter. 
All these distinctions were lies. The Evangelist declared 
Christ went up into a mountain, sat down, opened his mouth, 
and taught. To teach must be to deliver precepts. And 
Christ himself declared of his teaching, "Whosoever shall 
break one of the least of these commandments, and teach men 
so, the same shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven." 

VOL. I. X 


1521. He called " commands " what the Roman Sodom and Go- 
morrah entitled " counsels." Christ said, " Agree with thine 
adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him, lest 
at any time thiue adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the 
judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 
Verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out 
thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." Here was 
a punishment and an eternal one denounced ; but the moles 
and bats of Paris would know that a punishment could not be 
threatened for neglecting a counsel. As to celibacy being 
'' the state of perfection, salvation, and glory," as Monasticism 
babbled, Christ and his Apostles attributed all to faith, and 
never spoke of celibacy as a more perfect state or anything 
meritorious in itself, but only as more free from cares and 
the tribulation of the flesh, and therefore better adapted for 
preaching God^s Word and making progress in faith. Celibacy 
was represented in Scripture as the handmaid of faith and 
other Christian graces; but nothing more. But out of the 
numerous counsels of Christ, as Monkery styled his com- 
mands, the Papists had selected three, and only three — obe- 
dience, poverty, and chastity — as the subjects of a special vow. 
But the monkish vow of obedience meant the overthrow of all 
obedience. It would run, if it spoke truly, thus — " O God, 
I vow that I will not, as thy Gospel bids me, be subject to all 
my superiors, but, instead of that, to only one." The votaries 
of poverty were notoriously the most avaricious and the 
wealthiest of mankind. Chastity only remained to the pro- 
fessors of " the state of perfection," and the adherents to the 
"counsels;" but theirs was a chastity drowned in lusts. 
The monastic vow, moreover, contradicted faith, for it denied 
Christ, and said, " I am Christ, I can save myself by my ovm 
works." It contradicted Christian liberty, charity, obedience 
to parents, and the love of one's neighbour. It contradicted 


reason, " that gross light of nature, too dull to be a sure 1521. 
guide in affirmatives, but infallible in negatives,^^ which 
proved its fulfilment impossible. And it was a blasphemy 
against baptism — " the all in all of Christians,^' for the bap- 
tismal vow contained in its terms the whole of a Christian's 
duties. At the conclusion reference was made to the passage 
in St. Paul's first Epistle to Timothy,'^ wherein, speaking of 
widows, he says, "When they have begun to wax wanton against 
Christ they will marry, having damnation, because they have 
cast off their first faith." Such a passage did not contain any 
warrant for vows, for the widows in question were under no 
vow, nor did St. Paul object to their re-marrying, on the con- 
trary, he said, "I will therefore that the younger widows 
marry ;" but his objection was to their marrying heathen 
husbands, which he called " waxing wanton against Christ," 
and " casting off their first faith." 

It was not to be expected that in the bandying of re- 
proaches between two rival creeds, such as Romanism and 
Protestantism, the first deviation in act from the system of 
the former, furnishing an easy loophole for misrepresentation, 
Avould be allowed to pass without severe strictures from its 
devotees. Aleander remarked, that " the contest was that of 
the flesh against the Spirit;" and from his day down to the 
present, Romanists have not ceased to decry the Reformation 
as a movement originating in carnal motives, and to ground 
their assertion on this very fact, that the evangelical clergy, 
as their first overt act of secession from Popery, took to 
themselves wives, and that Luther himself eventually became 
a married man. It has even been asserted that Luther's 
motive in entering on and prosecuting the career of a 
Reformer was simply this : to cease to be a monk, and to 

* 1 Tim. V. 

X 2 


1521. raarry. But such a supposition is too preposterous to be seri- 
ously combated : it is so utterly incomprehensible and incre- 
dible, that Luther's groans over his spiritual corruptions in 
his cell at Erfurth, his agonizing investigation of the great 
difficulty, " How can a man be just with God? " his standing 
alone at Worms, exposed to countless perils, risking his life 
and all he had on earth, with the intervening acts in his his- 
tory, were all based on a shrewd, selfish calculation of carnal 
gratification, to be realised in the obscure and distant future. 
If a man can believe this, he is far removed beyond the reach 
of argument. 

But the attack on the Reformation itself, that is, on its 
maintainers generally, on the ground just stated, carries with 
it a greater semblance of probability. The objection, how- 
ever, on this score, is at once done away with, if it is borne in 
mind that impurity in the priestly character was not only re- 
cognised and allowed by the Pope, but made a subject of gain, a 
taxable indulgence whence a revenue was derived to the Holy 
See :* and that concubinage was practised from the Pope him- 
self to the lowest grade of the ecclesiastical corporation, so 
notoriously, that in most cases the veil of decency was judged 
superfluous. M. Audin himself observes, that the clergy who 
married took to themselves as wives, for the most part, the 
women who had previously been their concubines. Where, 
then, is the gratification of the flesh ? The marriage knot was 
substituted in place of a conventional liaison : the conscience 
was relieved ; it had before been callous : the truths which the 
Reformation unsealed and disclosed made it tender and suscep- 

* Article XCI. of the "Centum Gravamina" stated, — "That in 
most places Bishops and their officials not only tolerated concubinage, 
upon paying money, in the more dissolute sort of monks, but exacted 
it also in the more coutiuent, saying, it was now at their choice to 
have ronpubines or not." 


tible ; but there was no other diiaPerenee of any account. And 1521. 
this description of the wives of the evangelical clergy will 
equally apply to the wives of thj monks on M. Audin's own 
statement^ which is, that the monks passed from the refectory 
to the kitchen, from the library to the dining-room, and made 
their cook or their waiting woman the partner of their mar- 
ried life;* which, considering the moral condition of the 
monasteries, as painted from the life by Erasmus and Hutten, 
and other writers of the time, who knew their subject well, 
simply means, that the monks followed in the footprints of 
the secular clergy. Again, it may be confidently asked. 
What gratification of the flesh is there here? Instead of a 
vow which was habitually broken, and was only an inlet to 
unfettered carnality, a vow is mutually undertaken which re- 
stricts every roving propensity by its direction to one special 
and exclusive object. And certainly it will hardly be pre- 
tended that in Italy, or in the south of Europe generally, in 
those countries still Romanist, where the monk and celibacy 
yet flourish, the passions are less warm, or the life more pure 
and chaste, than in those Protestant regions which have a 
married body of clergy. The direct contrary is a known fact. 
Enforced celibacy, therefore, is the triumph of sensuality; 
doing away with it is the rebellion of man's better nature 
against, and triumph over sensuality. For all supernatural 
virtue is an ironical term for preternatural vice. 

Nor is there any large amount of truth in the more general 
statement that the Reformation was a movement impelled by 
the engine of worldly motives. Luther reproached the Papists 
with " turning the Church of God into a market house, and 
rendering everything venal, even the forgiveness of sins ; " 
but Popery was unable to return this taunt on one Avho, like 

* " Du refectoire a la cuisine, de la bibliotheque a la salle a manger : 
c'est leur cuisiniere on leur servante qu'ils epousent ordiuairemcnt." — 
II. p. 201. 


1621. his colleague Melancthoii, had been teaching divinity at Wit- 
tenberg for a hundred florins a year. It was no doubt a great 
auxiliary to the cause of the Reformation that, by half the 
lands in Germany being the property of the Church, exempt 
from the taxation which fell on lands in private possession, 
and by the rapacity as well as other delinquencies of the 
clergy, as a body, the papal system had become odious to tiie 
people, and the man who raised a voice against it was wel- 
comed as a national deliverer. But whatever sway such mo- 
tives may have exercised with the crowd who thronged round 
the banner of the Reformation, at least they were extremely 
subordinate in the mind of him whose hands had lifted it on 
high. It is a singular feature in Luther's character and writ- 
ings, how very little the abuses of the ecclesiastical system 
seem to have moved and influenced him. Even indulgences 
drew his attention and elicited his censure as trenching upon 
the ground of scriptural doctrine. His arguments against 
Romanism were, that she had falsified truth, sealed up Scrip- 
ture, and substituted for it her own visions and lies. And no 
defect less vital than this could have justified him in his own 
eyes in the path which he pursued. No merely human 
teacher ever more strictly 'Haid the axe to the 7'oot of the 
ti'ce.'' And when allusions to abuses or to superstitious prac- 
tices, such as the morals of the Pope, cardinals, and bishops, 
their luxury and splendour, or the use of rosaries, sprinkling 
with holy water, &c., occur in his writings, they are generally 
incidental, and rather employed in the way of argumentum 
ad hominem than as possessing much weight or importance in 
his own judgment. Up to a certain point the Reformation 
itself was absolutely Luther. And in fact he and those par- 
tisans who formed the centre of the movement were them- 
selves, it must be remembered, of the clerical body, or chiefly 
so, and therefore, whilst they put their all to hazard, and jeo- 
pardised their lives, which some of them were privileged to lose 


in the cause tliey had espoused^ they went completely against 1521, 
their own worldly interests, for they destroyed with their own 
hands the harvest of Church wealth in which they might have 
been sharers.'^ If, on the other hand, it be conjectured that 
the desire of notoriety, the ambition of fame, was the in- 
spiring motive of Luther's conduct, this, too, is negatived by his 
modesty and humility, the honesty and sincerity, the longing 
for death,t and the real godliness which his familiar corres- 
pondence so abundantly discloses, and moreover by the sacri- 
fice of personal glory and popularity to the weal of others, 
and to truth, which, as these pages will hereafter show, he 
readily made as soon as ever duty demanded it. But to 
return to the narrative. 

Another innovation followed so quickly upon the abroga- 
tion of the vow of celibacy, as to be almost simultaneous with 
it, Gabriel Z willing, flattered by the success of his pulpit 
declamations on one point, turned his eloquence next against 
the abuse of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, in the 
adoration of the Host, and the administration of one kind 
only. From this it followed that the votive, private, or 
corner mass was a gross impiety. Again popular feeling 
went with him ; and so strong a sensation was produced by 
his words, that the Prior of the Augustines was compelled to 
discontinue private masses in the convent church. This 
change was of course reported to Luther, and he gave it his 
approval, qualified only by the apprehension that in the haste 
and hurry for change, the conscience might not be sufliciently 
instructed in the reasons which authorised and demanded it. 
On all Saints' Day he wrote an address to his Augustine 
brethren, and accompanied it with a treatise " On the Aboli- 

* Thus Bruck writes to the Elector — " If the monks abolish the 
private mass, they will find the difference in their kitchen and cellar." 

t Melancthon writes of him — " Scio quam cupiat ipse dissolvi et 
esse cum Christo." 


1521. tion of the Private Mass," which was printed iu the January 

That the Augustines had removed from them the abuse of 
tlie mass, had filled him, he said, with joy; it was proof 
that the Word of Christ was not idle ; but yet his joy was 
tempered by fear, lest they might not all have reached so 
arduous a decision Avith equal constancy and a clear con- 
science. Every one knew the day after day plots of the idola- 
trous pontiffs and priests of Baal against such as were weak 
in the faith ; how one extolled indulgences, another spread 
his snares for the consciences of the priests who had married, 
and in the emulation of wickedness every mind was teeming 
with some monster. They must be prepared for the most 
bitter taunts, to be reviled as reckless innovators even by 
those who were held in estimation for prudence and piety. 
It was true that blasts would blow and torrents break over 
them in vain if they were founded on the Rock ; but if their 
foundation was sand, their ruin was imminent. He knew the 
wrestlings of conscience by his own experience ; and it was 
only with the strongest balm of Gilead, the most plain and 
incontrovertible texts of Scripture, that he had been able to 
strengthen his own resolution singly to oppose the Pope, and 
proclaim him Antichrist, his bishops Antichrist's apostles, his 
universities brothels, whilst his trembling heart was throb- 
bing, and his perplexity suggesting the inquiry, " Art thou 
the only wise man ? '' He thanked God that his faith was 
now firm and settled, and he could meet the Papist arguments 
with the triumph of conviction, as the shore laughs at the 
storm. He was most anxious that the Augustines should be 
possessed with an equally deep and rooted conviction that in 
doing what they did they were doing what is right, so as to 
esteem the judgment of the whole world as but fluttering 
leaves and straws. It was easy to shut the ears to the voices 
of the world, but who could shut the ears to the voice of his 


own conscience, or to the inginuations of Satan, or the inqui- 1521. 
sition of God ? Hence the necessity of being sheathed in the 
armour of God's sure Word, and built upon the Rock. 

The Treatise demolished that sacerdotalism which is the 
corner-stone of Popery, and on which the sacrifice of the 
mass is based. Quoting all the passages in which the term 
priest occurs in the New Testament, he showed that in every 
case it is applied to all and each of Christ's true people. 
" Come then, you famous priests, produce, I challenge you to 
it, a single syllable or letter from the Gospels or Epistles to 
prove that your order is a separate priesthood from the com- 
mon priesthood of Christians. And the pretence of a peculiar 
priesthood being totally unscriptural, it follows that the laws 
of the Pope are nothing but figments, the papal priesthood a 
mere mask and idol, and the so-called sacrifice of the mass 
the climax of idolatrous impiety. Christ is the only sacri- 
ficing priest of Christians. He has made one sacrifice once 
for all, of which the mass is a commemoration.^^ He dwelt 
upon his favourite passage in 1 Cor. xiv. in demonstration 
that the right of prophecying or teaching originally belonged 
to every Christian — " Ye may all prophecy one by one, that 
all may learn, and all may be comforted." He continued, 
" Behemoth and his spawn may burst to learn that Christ 
gave the right of teaching and judging to all Christians, and 
did not set up one little Lucifer to tower over the rest. The 
mass-mongering papistical priesthood is Satan's handiwork." 
Proceeding in this strain, he instituted a comparison between 
Christ's bishops, " married laymen of good report," and the 
Pope's bishops and priests, " with their razored heads, oily 
fingers, and pharisaical vestments.'^ And he concluded with 
what he styled " an allegory of the synagogue," viz. that the 
priests of Bethaven, who waited on the worship of the golden 
calf, were to the Jewish what the Papacy is to the Christian 


1521. At the end of this Treatise he resumed his address to his 
Augustine brethren of Wittenberg — ''You, too, have got a 
Bethaven, that Church of All Saints, which the Elector 
Frederic has received by inheritance, and by Papist deceit has 
magnificently adorned. How many poor might have been 
relieved at the price of such costliness ! How many friends 
might he have made to himself with the mammon of un- 
righteousness, to welcome him into everlasting dwellings ! 
But it is much to be feared that the wealth of princes is 
seldom worthy to be put to a pious use, for it is generally 
acquired after the example of Nimrod. But, by the grace of 
God, we may indulge a pride that our Elector is by no means 
tyrannical, foolish, hasty, or severe, but a great lover of truth, 
calm in his judgments, an object of terror to the bad and of 
respect to the good. Finish what you have begun. By such 
opportunities God invites you, and stretches out his hand."* 

Luther underwent many dark struggles of spiritual conflict 
by reason of his repudiating the private mass : his settled 
conviction on the subject was turned into a weapon against 
him by the devil, to drive him to despair. One night, he re- 
counts that he awoke about midnight, and saw Satan standing 
by his bedside. "Listen, Luther, learned, thrice learned 
Doctor," the fiend said to him ; " for fifteen years you have 
celebrated private mass : what if the private mass turns out 
now to be idolatry, and what you adored to be simply bread 
and wine ? " Luther answered, " I am an anointed priest, 
anointed and consecrated by a bishop, and I acted in obe- 
dience to my superiors in all that I did ; I pronounced the 
words of Christ with seriousness, and with all the serious- 
ness of my soul celebrated the mass. Thou knowest it well." 
" Yes," replied Satan ; " but then you had no true faith or 

* Luther mentions tlie same grievance, the Bcthaven of All Saints' 
Church, in a letter to Spalatin. 


knowledge of Christ : you were no better tlian the Turks, or 1521, 
than we devils, who believe the history of Christ, but have 
him not as a Mediator and Saviour, but only as an angry 
Judge. So you deemed Christ an angry Judge; you flew 
to Mary and the Saints, and prayed them to mediate for 
you. You robbed Christ of the glory due to him, and sacri- 
ficed the mass as a Gentile or heathen. It was therefore 
no mass at all, for there was no consecrating power present, 
that is, no Christian faith. Again, you disobeyed the insti- 
tution of Christ, and did not distribute of the elements to 
others, but ate and drank alone. What sort of sacrament 
or communion is this? Christ knows nothing of it. You 
never once confessed Christ in the mass, as he enjoined, but 
muttered some words in a whisper to yourself. And you were 
ordained, contrary to the will of Christ, not to communicate 
the Sacrament to others, but to sacrifice for the quick and 
dead. What ordination is that? Or what kicd of mass did 
you celebrate? What kind of baptism would it be, if one 
baptized himself? or confirmation, to confirm one's self? or 
ordination, absolution, unction, or marriage, to ordain, absolve, 
anoint, or marry one's self. These are your seven sacraments. 
How could you perform the communion for yourself alone, 
any more than any other of the sacraments? Christ himself 
did not take his sacrament himself alone ; he distributed of it 
to his apostles. What sort of a minister have you been ? " 
" But I sacrificed," Luther replied, re-grasping, as before, the 
old weapons which he had used as a Papist, " in the faith of 
the Church, according to the intention of the Church ; if I 
did not believe aright, yet at least the Church did." "Where," 
Satan loudly rejoined to this reply, "where is the text of 
Scripture which states that an impious and unbelieving man 
can stand by Christ's altar and sacrifice in the faith of the 
Church? How could the Church give you her intention? 


1521. And what is the iiitcatiou of the Church but that of Christ, 
which is only to be learnt from his Word ? What, then, is 
that intention which is contrary to Christ's AVord ? Blas- 
phemous man ! in the private mass you contradicted the 
clear words of Christ. Ordination for such a purpose is no 
better than the baptism of a stone, or of a bell. You did 
not celebrate the sacrament at all, but turned it into a source 
of gain in blasphemy of Christ, serving not him but your own 
belly." After these words, with a ghastly laugh the tempter 
vanished. But it can hardly be supposed that Luther in- 
tended that this apparition of, and colloquy with Satan, 
should be understood literally ; it is far more probable that in 
representing how the evil spirit can and often does employ the 
conviction of truth to produce despair, he gives to the voice 
within, suggested by the devil, an outward existence, as if 
Satan in visible shape had uttered it.* 

How was the Elector of Saxony engaged whilst this reli- 
gious and social revolution was progressing with such rapid 
strides in his dominions ? Audin says t that he was walking 
in his pleasure grounds at Lochau with Horace or Juvenal in 
his hand. But the season of the year (October) would hardly 
suit such open-air studies ; and if it is necessary to fill up the 
gaps in history by the aid of the imagination, a picture 
nearer the truth would be, that of the aged and infirm 
Frederic seated in his easy chair, with Spalatin at his elbow, 
listening to his secretary as he read to him a letter lately 
received from Luther, or a portion of the book of God, or 
consoled him under the trials of age, infirmity, and public 

* The account of the colloquy with Satan did not appear in any 
earlier edition of the work than that of 1533. A barefooted monk, 
Caspar Schatzgeyer, opposed Luther's conclusions on the mass and the 
monastic vow ; but was quickly silenced. 

t Histoirc de Luther, II. p. 193. 


troubles with some passages from the Tessaradecas. Frederic's 1521. 
mind was made up as to the line of conduct which he should 
pursue ; and without abandoning the caution and prudence 
of his character, he was resolved to take truth as his pole- 
star. " The straight line is always the shortest road/' was 
his motto. How he acted in reference to the case of Feld- 
kirchen has been already seen. And when the question of 
the private mass was thus prominently brought into discus- 
sion, his first efforts were directed to ascertaining the sense of 
Scripture upon the subject. He appointed delegates from the 
university, Jonas, Carlstadt, Melancthon, Platner, Amsdorf, 
Doltz, and Jerome Schurf, to hold a conference with the 
Augustine fraternity ; and the delegates discussed with them 
for two days their reasons for the abolition of the private 
mass, and received at their hands a written statement in jus- 
tification of their proceedings. And the delegates made a 
report to Frederic in approval of the sentiments of the 
Augustines on all points save the rather material one of the 
private and sole communion of one person, which was not so 
certainly objectionable in the opinion of the delegates as in 
that of the fraternity.* In other respects they adopted ex- 
actly the views of Luther, that to call the mass " a good 
work and a sacrifice," is to obscure the essential doctrine of 
the Gospel— justification through Christ by faith alone; and 
they implored the Elector so to act, that at the day of judg- 
ment the reproach which had fallen on Capernaum might not 
be applied to him, that Christ's ineffable goodness had been 
vouchsafed in vain. But besides the difference between the 

* The Augustines said " Nee unquam unus privatim seipsum com- 
municasse legitur " — of which the delegates observed, " Quod autem 
inter reliqua et hanc causam sui facte exponunt neminem privatim et 
solum debere communicare, ea nobis quidem non satis firma videtur." 
— Lat. Op. JeuEB, II. pp. 472, 473 ; and Walch. XV. p. 2342. 


1521. fraternity and the delegates on one material point, a further 
difficulty was occasioned by the University as a body hesitat- 
ing to sanction the report of the delegates. The Elector 
therefore replied, that on a matter of so much moment, no 
determination must be formed hastily; that if the Gospel was 
clear on the subject, a more general consent would soon be 
arrived at : he begged to be informed when the abuse of the 
mass originated, and the apostolical usage ceased, and de- 
manded what was to become of the endowments of chantries 
if votive masses were done away with, and finally required 
that order and tranquillity should be rigorously maintained 
by all means."^ The delegates replied that the ancient col- 
leges and monasteries had served as schools for the education 
of Christian youth up to the age not only of Augustine but of 
Bernard : that the foundation only of the more recent con- 
vents, which did not date farther back than 450 years, was in 
connexion with the mass : that the administration in both 
kinds had continued unimpaired without question to the 
time of Cyprian, and remained so still in the Eastern Church 
to the present day : that the mass-book used by the Bishop 
of Milan was without many of the additions to be found in 
the Roman mass-book ; and that to offer the sacramental 
bread as a sacrifice for the quick and the dead was blasphemy 
and in the teeth of the express words of Christ. But as the 
University declined to co-operate with the delegates, Frederic 
preferred to leave the question undecided by any authoritative 
settlement on his part for the present. 

In the midst of his controversial labours and spiritual dis- 
quietudes, the resentment of the Reformer in the Wartburg 
was aroused to a towering height, by an unexpected piece of 
intelligence forwarded to him, that the Archbishop of Mentz 

* See his Instruction, Bretsch. I. p. 471. 


had re-established the indulgence traffic at Halle. It was 1521. 
reported that he spoke of Luther as "the excommunicated 
monk safe under bolts and bars.^^ Luther had been very in- 
dignant with the Archbishop before^ on account of his severe 
and crviel treatment of a married priest ; and this new intelli- 
gence made the fire of his wrath flame with tenfold violence. 
In this frame of mind Luther composed a treatise " Against 
the Idol Worship at Halle." But his intended publication 
quickly got wind, and the Archbishop despatched Capito and 
Auerback {i.e. Stromer) to Wittenberg, to use their influence 
with the Lutheran Professors to restrain Dr. Martin's im- 
petuosity ;, and prevent the step which he had been informed 
he was on the point of taking. They visited Jonas and 
Melancthon, and, as though incidentally, recommended that 
Luther should spare the Archbishop.^ Their embassy, how- 
ever, was ineffectual at Wittenberg ; but they next essayed 
Frederic, and represented in lively colours the great evils of a 
breach of peace, which Luther's violence must without fail 
occasion. Frederic was so much moved that he assured the 
Archbishop's delegates that he would not permit the publica- 
tion of the treatise. The Edict of Worms dwelt in his me- 
mory. And Spalatin was directed to convey to the Reformer 
the electoral prohibition of his intended publication against 
the Archbishop of Mentz. To this prohibition Luther rephed, 
in very decided terms, in a letter to Spalatin of the 11th or 
12th November : " I scarce ever read a less welcome letter 
than your last, so that I have not only postponed my reply, 
but had determined to send no reply at aU. First, I will 
never endure that our Prince will not suffer me to write 
against the Archbishop of Mentz, and disturb the public 
peace. Rather I will destroy you, and our Prince, and every 

* See Melancthon's account, Bret. I. p. 463. 


1521. creature. If I resisted the Pope, the creator, why am I to bow 
before his creature ? It is a fine excuse, forsooth, that the 
public peace must not be disturbed, when God's eternal peace 
is broken by such impious and sacrilegious doings of perdition. 
Not so, Spalatin ! not so, my Prince ! For the sheep of 
Christ I will resist with all my might that fell wolf, and make 
him an example to others. I send the book which I had 
already composed against him when your letter came, which 
has not induced me to change a single syllable : but I had 
intended to submit it to the judgment of Philip, to let him 
make any alteration that he might think fit. Beware of not 
forwarding the book to him. My determination is fixed. '^ ^ 

It was not long after this that Luther paid his secret visit 
to Wittenberg, and there arranged, amongst other matters, 
what part he should act towards the Archbishop. On his re- 
turn to the Wartburg he wrote a letter to him on the ] st De- 
cember, threatening to publish the treatise already composed 
" Against the Idol at Halle,'' unless within fourteen days he 
received a satisfactory answer from his Grace. He reminded 
the Archbishop that he had twice before addressed him, but 
in vain : he now addressed him once more, and would write in 
German. He had himself before undertaken his Grace's de- 
fence, and urged that the teaching of the indulgence commis- 
saries must be without his knowledge : but the Archbishop 
was now declaring to the Avhole world that by his own spon- 
taneous choice he oppressed and robbed the poor folk. A 
little spark oft gi'ew to a mighty fire. Every one had thought 
that the poor monk must fall before the power of the Pope. 
God, however, had ordained otherwise. And the same God 
still lived, whose delight it was to break the cedars, and 
abase the haughty Pharaohs. If the idol was not immedi- 

* De Wette, II. p. 94. 


ately removed, divine truth would compel him to treat the 1521. 
Archbishop as he had treated the Pontiff, to render him as 
infamous as he had rendered Tetzel, and to demonstrate to all 
the world the distinction between a bishop and a wolf. " His 
Grace must, moreover, leave the married priests in peace ; or 
else a voice would cry from the Gospel, ' Let the bishops first 
pull the beam out of their own eye/ let them put away their 
whores, before they call on honest men to put away their 
lawful vdves." * 

The most remarkable incident in the story is, that, before 
the fourteen days had elapsed, an answer arrived from the 
Archbishop in the following terms : — 
" Dear Doctor, 

"1 have received your letter, dated St. Catherine's Day, 
with all good will and favour; but the matter to which you 
refer has been remedied long since. It is my wish to be a 
good Bishop and a good Christian Prince, so far as God's 
grace, strength, and wisdom may be granted me ; and for this 
I will truly pray and implore others to pray also. I know 
that I can do nothing of myself, but stand in need of God's 
grace; for I am a sinful man, subject to daily errors and 
transgressions. There is no good in me without the grace of 
God ; and I am a stinking dunghill in myself, as much as 
others, if not more so. I have not wished to conceal from 
you my good inclinations towards you, for I am more than 
willing to show you grace and favour for Christ's sake. Bro- 
therly and christian rebuke I can well bear. I hope the 
merciful and good God will extend to me more grace, strength, 
and patience in this and in other things, to live according to 
his will. " Albert, 

" With his own hand."t 

* De Wette, II. p. 112. f Walch. XIX. p. 661. 

VOL. I. Y 


1521. This singular letter was accompanied by an epistle from the 
Archbishop's temporising chaplain, Capito, informing Luther 
that the Archbishop had replied in a mild strain by his advice, 
and recommending gentle handling of the sins and infirmities 
of persons in high station, in order to promote the progress of 
the Gospel. Luther left the Archbishop's letter unanswered, 
and replied to the chaplain — " The view you take is downright 
hypocrisy and a denial of Christian truth. What connexion 
is there between a Christian and a flatterer? Christianity 
is the most open and honest-dealing thing in the world. I 
suspect that you have shaped your Cardinal into an egregious 
hypocrite. If he is sincere in his professions, let him resign 
his cardinal's mask and his episcopal pomp, and gird himself 
to the ministry of the Word. You tell me that the married 
priest, of whom I made mention, is now released from impri- 
sonment. Released, indeed ! You made him first forswear 
his wife against his conscience ! and your Cardinal writes 
that that matter which I complained of has been long since 
remedied. Are you tempting the Holy Ghost ? Inform your 
Cardinal of my sentiments. I know not whether 1 ought to 
praise his sincerity or reprobate his hypocrisy. If I thought 
him sincere, O ! how gladly would I throw myself at his 
feet."* Thus the matter remained in abeyance : the Treatise, 
indeed, had found a deadlock in Spalatin's custody for the 
present; but it Avas afterwards published. 

As the duration of his solitude lengthened, Luther turned 
a more longing eye towards Wittenberg. There was much 
doing in his cherished town and University : every week was 
marked by some fresh conversion, or some new step in the 
opposite direction to Rome ; and the ire and insults of the 
Papists were redoubled on each successive move in the pro- 

* J)e, Wetto, II. pp. 129—134. 


gress of the evangelical tenets. With a view to comfort his 1521. 
townspeople under the calumnious imputations which their 
abolition of the most obnoxious usages of Rome drew upon 
them, he addressed to them an exposition of the 36th Psalm, 
and accompanied it with a letter, which ran in the highest 
strain of religious confidence. " I have appeared/^ he said, 
"before the Papists three several times, at Augsburg, at 
Leipsic, and at Worms; but they have been always afraid to 
show their faces at Wittenberg, and try their arguments by 
the test of a public disputation. They tremble at the light as 
the evil spirit at the name of the judgment day. Let them 
bleed themselves dry with slandering us. We have the Scrip- 
tures : they have not ; we stand in the plain : they sneak into 
corners like mice." ^ At last, his desire to see Wittenberg 
again, and to learn whether the reports which reached him 
stated the truth, grew too strong to be repressed ; and under 
the effectual disguise of his knightly character, and the con- 
duct of his faithful attendant, about the end of November, 
as has been mentioned, he passed unobserved through the 
streets, and halted at the door of Amsdorf^s house. His 
most intimate friends were privately apprised of his pre- 
sence ; and soon a group of Professors surrounded the 
strange-looking knight with the long beard. In such so- 
ciety once more met together, the moments passed winged 
with delight. All that he heard received his approval, and 
drew forth warm expressions of gratitude to God ; the only 
drawback was, that when he mentioned his recent treatises, 
his friends were found to be quite in the dark respecting 
them; Spalatin, in fact, had continued the policy against 
which Luther had before so warmly remonstrated, and sup- 
pressed them. Seizing a pen, he wrote immediately to the 

* De Weite, II. p. 63. 



1521. Elector's secretary :—" Amidst the endearments of my friends 
I have not been spared some admixture of wormwood. It is 
of no use for you to row against the tide. If my writings can- 
not be printed at Wittenberg, I will have them printed else- 
where. And if the copies have been lost^ or you have retained 
them, be assured that my spirit will become so embittered, 
that I shall handle the same subjects with far greater vehe- 
mence hereafter. All that I see and hear rejoices me. May 
the Lord comfort the hearts of those who wish well ; although 
upon my road I was so vexed with rumours of agitations and 
commotions, that I have resolved to compose a public exhort- 
ation to peace and quiet immediately on my return to my 
wilderness. Do not let the Elector know of my visit, for rea- 
sons which you are aware of, 

" Given in Philip's company at Amsdorff's house." 
The postscript to this letter mentions a Latin Bible, in the 
possession of Spalatin, which Luther requested might be sent to 
him ; and in the next letter addressed to Spalatin after his re- 
turn to the Wartburg, mention is made of a Greek Testament, 
which he desired to have forwarded to Philip, to be despatched 
to him with some other books. From these directions, added to 
the fact, that previously to this visit no allusion appears in his 
correspondence to his translation of the New Testament, and 
that subsequently its progress is a frequent theme of remark, 
it is probable that his intention in this respect was formed or 
matured at this Wittenberg meeting. During the remainder 
of his stay in the old fortress, his time was engrossed with 
the mighty work of translating the whole of the Greek New 
Testament, which has shed such glory around his own name, 
and the tower itself, and the room in which it was achieved. 
His lute, which had before beguiled many a wearisome hour, 
was laid aside ; his rides were discontinued ; the rafters and 
walls of his captivity no longer echoed with his peals of laugh- 


ter ; the New Testament was constantly in his hands, or 1521. 
before his eyes ; and within three months the Greek original 
had been converted into noble German. But before he com- 
menced the task, he performed his promise, and composed a 
popular exhortation to peace and quiet, and transmitted it to 
Spalatin in the beginning of December. 

The translation of the books of the New Testament into 
German was imperatively required, not only in completion of 
what had been begun, and as a palladium of its continuance, 
but as a barrier against those excesses and extravagances, to 
which the human mind in an unsettled and excited frame is 
pecidiarly liable, and which had been anticipated by Luther's 
foresight, as blots with which Satan would seek to mar the 
work of God in the Reformation. In fact, the disease broke 
out before the antidote had been provided. On the 3rd De- 
cember, just when the celebration of the mass was com- 
mencing in Wittenberg parish church, some students and 
burghers, who had mustered for the purpose, rushed towards 
the altar with knives in their hands, drove the priests from 
their places, and carried off the mass books. The town coun- 
cil, however, seemed resolved to check the first outbreak of 
riot, and summoned those implicated in this rude and violent 
disturbance of public worship, to appear at their bar, and had 
them apprehended : but upon this the townspeople rose 
en masse, demanded the liberation of the prisoners, and threat- 
ened open insurrection if their demand was not conceded. 
The town council gave way. 

This success of the popular cause encouraged the prime 
movers in the agitation to proceed with vigour in the path of 
religious change. Carlstadt had come prominently forward 
in objecting to clerical and monastic celibacy; and had openly 
declared against the private mass, the administration of the 
Sacrament in one kind, and the adoration of the Host. He 


1521. was a mau of a peculiar character, a type of the German mind, 
in its restless, less sound, and sceptical phase. He united the 
curiosity of intellectual speculation with the personal ambi- 
tion to occupy the sphere of a shining light in the Church. 
He had been diverted from scholasticism to attention to the 
Sacred Writings, by the influence and example of Luther ; 
but his diligence had not been sufficiently persevering to 
enable him to acquire a thorough acquaintance with the 
ancient languages in which the Scriptures were originally 
given to mankind. But his thoughts had early been directed 
to such enquiries, as, whether the five books generally attri- 
buted to Moses were really the productions of that lawgiver ; 
and whether the four Gospels had come down to mankind in 
the form in which they were at first composed. Luther's ab- 
sence had raised the Archdeacon of Wittenberg higher on the 
stage of public notice ; and resolving not to fall below the ex- 
pectations which had been formed of him, the little sallow, 
tawny man, whose eloquence had never been remarkable, pro- 
ceeded to discourse to crowds, of the sublimities of theologj^, in 
a mysterious and inflated language, which, for the very reason 
that it was not easy of comprehension, seemed to envelope a 
hidden and rare wisdom. As early as October Carlstadt ad- 
ministered the Lord's Supper, in conformity Avith the institu- 
tion of Christ, to twelve private friends. But on the Sunday 
before Christmas Day, he announced publicly from the pulpit 
that on New Year's Day he should administer the Sacrament 
in the parish church, divested of all those corruptions in doc- 
trine, language, and ceremonial, with which the Papacy had 
encumbered a simple commemorative rite. There were, how- 
ever, reasons for suspecting that his intention would be frus- 
trated by measures to be adopted by the Court, if he waited 
for the appointed day ; and therefore he forestalled this pre- 
sumed antagonism, and on Christmas Day seized the oppor- 


tuuity of solemnising the Lord^s Supper in public, according 1521. 
to the primitive mode. He admitted to the communion such 
as had only confessed generally in the prayers of the Church, 
as well as those who had attended auricular confession, ab- 
solving them in the words, " Sin no more." He distributed 
both the bread and the wine to the communicants, repeating 
as he did so some words in German : and, at the conclusion, 
the Agnus Dei was sung. Upon New Year's Day he again 1522. 
administered the Lord's Supper in the same manner, and 
continued so to do, without meeting with any opposition from 
the Saxon Court, beyond a verbal and personal rebuke from 
one of the courtiers. Popular opinion was energetically on 
his side : and in January the town council issued their order 
that the celebration of the Sacrament should uniformly be con- 
ducted according to the revived custom of the primitive age. 

As yet, however, no rupture between Luther and Carlstadt 
had taken place. Audin would indeed imply that the Arch- 
deacon^s vanity had been wounded by Luther's rejection of 
his reasons for abolishing the monastic vow."^ " The Homeric 
laugh," he says, of the recluse in the Wartburg, " sounded as 
far as Wittenberg." But this does not appear correct. Lu- 
ther had not publicly avowed any difference from Carlstadt's 
views : he had written his own reasons, which, although vary- 
ing from the Archdeacon's, arrived at the same conclusion ; 
and in his correspondence with Melancthon, he spoke gene- 
rally of Carlstadfs treatises as " neither deficient in genius 
nor in erudition, but wanting clearness." t " His endea- 

* Carlstadt, in his work, " De Cselibatu Monacliatu et Viduitate," 
cited as a reason the prohibition, Levit. xviii. 21, " Ne quis immolet 
semen Moloch." Luther observed to Melancthon privately, that such 
reasoning would make them a laughing-stock to the Papists. See 
De Wette, II. p. 37. 

t " Utinam Carlstadii scripta plus lucis haberent, cum et ingenii ct 
eruditionis magna vis in eis est." — De Wette, II. p. 40. 


1622. vours and industry," he says in another place, " are greatly 
to be approved." He still called him "the excellent Carl- 
stadt." Early in January the Archdeacon maiTied Anne 
Mochau, a spinster, of a house ranking among the nobility ; 
a special service beginning with, " God declared. It is not 
good for man to be alone," had been framed for the occasion ; 
and Luther sent his congratulations, and promised to bring his 
bridal gift himself in person, when he should return to Wit- 
tenberg. It does indeed appear from a passage in one of the 
Reformer's letters, that the precipitancy of the Archdeacon's 
conduct Avas regretted by Luther : but the words are gentle, 
and betoken regard : " I am pained about Carlstadt." ^ 

But Carlstadt's views and behaviour ere long became more 
widely divergent from the line of prudence, and ran deeper 
into the mazes of speculation. Luther's teaching had ele- 
vated the Scriptures to their rightful supremacy as the exclu- 
sive standard for doctrine and practice; and he had denied 
the right of any individual Doctor or Father of the Church, 
however learned or holy, and of the Society of Christians 
generally, as represented by an CEcumenical Council, to inter- 
pret Scripture authoritatively. Each one must live and die 
for himself, stand before God's judgment-seat himself alone, 
and answer for his own thoughts, words, and actions. Each 
one must, therefore, read, study, and believe God's book for 
himself. Such was his teaching. The Roman system had 
feigned a spiritual partnership among Christians, whereby the 
prayers of the priest could be a substitute for those of the 
congregation ; the Bible be a priest's book, not the people's 
book ; its truths be proclaimed or reserved, garbled or exag- 
gerated, as the priests might please; the good works of the 
Saints, over and above what they had need of for themselves, 

* Dolco de Carlstadio. 


be transferred to the tattered or bare sboulders of less meri- 1522. 
torious members of the religious community, the bonds of 
which remained undissolved by death, for even beyond that 
gulf masses and prayers could liberate the soul from misery. 
Such a religion, however poetical and even sublime in theory, 
with its high priest, the centre of the system, the Supreme 
PontiflF, holding the keys of destiny, and unlocking the gates 
of heaven to let the members of the Church militant on earth 
pass to the Church triumphant above, terminated practically, 
by a fatal necessity, in gross superstition, a lucrative priest- 
craft, and the substitution with the multitude of form and 
ceremony for vital and personal godliness. In overthrowing 
this flattering but fallacious notion of a joint-stock company 
in spiritualities, and laying the stress where the Scriptures 
lay it, on individual faith, charity, and holiness, Luther seized 
on the only means of refining religion from its dregs by in- 
troducing true and worthy ideas of the Church, as the com- 
munion of individual saints. But it is easy to see that this 
principle of individuality, like all truth, is liable to perversion 
and abuse. And this now proved the case in Germany. There 
arose a sect of fanatics, who laid claim to immediate inspi- 
ration from God, and urged that the Scriptures and every 
species of learning were useless, because they were themselves 
a Bible to themselves, they held communion with Jehovah, 
and were divinely illuminated in all things. Thus Luther, as 
he had already combated Bomanism, was next called upon to 
combat one of the most seductive forms of Rationalism. And 
these new sectaries, although apparently at the opposite pole 
to Popery, in reality approached very near to it ; for, like 
Popery, they discarded Scripture, substituting for it indivi- 
dual reason, or individual phantasies, as Popery substituted 
for it the reason of the so-called Church, or the reason of one 
assumed infallible man, the Pope. Luther declared for God, 


1622. not mail : man to be conformed to GocVs will, as made known 
in liis Word; Popery and Rationalism declared for man, not 
God — God's Word to be shaped and coloured, shortened or 
lengthened, according to human predilections, to be sealed 
up under the keys of the Church, or superseded by the 
plenary light of individual intuition. 

This new fanaticism, or rather this old fanaticism newly 
revived, took its rise at Zwickau. No tow^n had welcomed 
the evangelical tenets with greater zeal."^ Frederic Myconius, 
or Mecum, a Reformer before the Reformation, who had been 
taught the doctrine of justification through Christ alone by faith, 
from childhood, by a father who Melchior Adam supposes may 
have been one of the W^aldenses, and who had looked forth from 
his Franciscan convent at Annaberg with joy, when Luther's 
Theses appeared, to see that Sun beginning to shine upon the 
world which had long been shining upon his own heart, had 
proclaimed the Gospel there. He had removed to another 
sphere; but Nicholas Hausmann, the present pastor of 
Zwickau, was so eminent for his exemplary life, even among 
the earliest adherents of the Reformation, as to be distin- 
guished by Luther himself with the eulogy, " He lives as we 
preach." But the fervour of religious zeal easily becomes 
extravagance in some minds, or is readily converted by de- 
signing men into an instrument for promoting their selfish 
schemes. Nicholas Stork, a weaver of Zwickau, seems to 
have been the first to promulge there the fanatical notions of 
immediate inspiration superseding the use of all subordinate 
means. He was soon joined by Mark Thomas, also a weaver 
of Zwickau, by Mark Stubner, who had been a student of 
Wittenberg, and by Thomas Munzer, pastor of Alstedt. Not 

* Eauke says, that Peter of Dresden, wlio, with Nicolas, being 
banished by the Bishop of Misnia, had taken refuge in Prague, had 
sqiourned at Zwickau a long time.— Deutsche Geschichte, II. p. 16. 


satisfied with rejecting the Bible as unnecessary under the 1522. 
light which they enjoyed by direct contact with the Divine 
Being, they represented it as a servile book, ministering only 
to sin and wrath ; they depreciated learning as a hinderance 
to communion with the invisible world; and predicted the 
overthrow of the existing state of society, and the destruction 
of the civil power, to make way for the reign of the Saints. 
The Archangel Gabriel, Stork affirmed, had appeared to him 
in a vision, and said, " Thou slialt sit on my throne." As to 
their other opinions, they determined that an infant could not 
have faith ; and, faith being essential to the validity of a 
Sacrament, they required of those who espoused their doc- 
trines to be rebaptized. And hence the name which the sect 
afterwards acquired of the '^ Anabaptists." In imitation of 
Christ they chose from among their number twelve men 
whom they called apostles ; and seventy whom they placed in 
the subordinate rank of disciples. Great crowds of the lower 
orders and some of the class of tradespeople eagerly attached 
themselves to these opinions. But Hausmann energetically 
opposed such fanatical principles. And when the ardour of 
the new sect was beginning to display itself in commotion and 
tumult, the magistrates resolved to repress their seditious 
doctrines, and with a view to that end to prevent their 
meetings by the arm of authority. The fanatics persisted in 
holding their meetings, and were collecting weapons for self- 
defence, when the chief magistrate of the town, anticipating 
their intention of resorting to force, had the most factious of 
their party arrested. Upon this the rest abandoned Zwickau, 
and dispersed in various directions. Some turned their steps 
to Prague, where they hoped to make converts; but Stork, 
Stubner, and Thomas took the road to Wittenberg, where the 
agitated condition of the public mind seemed to promise a 
harvest for their enthusiastic and self- conceited dogmas. And 


1522. here they presently allied themselves with Carlstadt, whose 
notions upon Scripture were already in some measure in har- 
mony with their own. 

Melancthon found himself unequal to a contest with these 
visionary sectaries, and wrote to the Elector that the man to 
pass sentence on their tenets and to confront them personally 
was " Dr. Martin ; " ^ and glad enough was he even of this 
reason for Luther's return, for in all his letters to Spalatin he 
had never failed to reiterate, " Send us back our Elias." Their 
other opinions did not move Melancthon; but they stated 
their objections to infant baptism, and with all his learning 
he was perplexed for an answer; and according to his custom 
referred his difficulties for solution to the captive in the Wart- 
burg. Carlstadt, on the contrary, was not misled by their 
Anabaptist novelties; but he yielded to their vehement in- 
vectives against learning, closed his books, and recommended 
others to do the same ; and ceasing altogether the study of 
Scripture, in which his assiduity had often flagged, passed 
from the workshop of the artisan to the tradesman's counter, 
to hear divine truths from the lips of babes in worldly know- 
ledge, but preternaturally taught of heaven. The new sect 
declared their enthusiastic doctrines in their mystic language, 
to an audience in exactly that stage of mental and religious 
excitement when visionary ideas of immediate access to the 
invisible world are the most captivating ; and it was impossi- 
ble to foresee what influence they might acquire, how far and 
how deep their principles might fix their roots, and whether 
the triumph of the celestial prophets might not extend to the 
overthrow of the civil institutions of society, of all learning, 
and of civilization itself. It was certainly an auxiliary of 
some account towards eftecting the popular delusion, that the 

* See Melancthon's letter, Walcli. XV. p. 2367. Bret. II. p. 534. 


inspired of God held in the main the evangelical doctrines 1522. 
which Luther had impressed on the students and townspeople 
of Wittenberg. Mark Stubner, the only man of letters among 
the prophetSj was admitted by Melancthon to lodge in his 
house, ■^ either from the extreme benevolence of Philip's cha- 
racter, or his desire to become well acquainted with the 
Zwickau creed. Several of Melancthon's pupils became con- 
verts to opinions discrediting all learning, human or divine, 
save what was immediately imparted by God himself. Martin 
Mohr or Cellarius, the Rector of the Grammar School, called 
upon the citizens, from the windows of the school-house, 
to take away their children, and instead of seeking book- 
learning for them, to apprentice them to learn some useful 
trade or handicraft. Another schoolmaster, Neber Enders, 
also resigned his school, and turned to day labour as a 
peasant.f And several of the University students, acting by 
the guidance of the new lights, transferred their attention 
from literary study to the acquisition of some mechanical art. 
In this medley of notions and pursuits the Elector of 
Saxony himself, warmly as he loved peace, and fondly as he 
cherished his University, was not without bewildering per- 
plexities how he ought to act. He received from his coun- 
cillors and from learned men an account of the tenets of the 
Zwickau prophets ; and he sent for Melancthon and Amsdorf 
to Prettin, and conversed with them on the subject ; but he 
hesitated to adopt the same measures which the magistrates 
of Zwickau had used ; for he thought with himself, " What if 

* A conversation between Melancthon and Stubner has been pre- 
served. "What," said Stubner, "is your opinion of John Chrysos- 
tom ? " "1 value his writings highly," Melancthon replied, " although 
I regret their verbosity." " I saw him," Stubner resumed, " in Pur- 
gatory, and his face was very sorrowful." — Camerar. p. 50. 

t Mathes. p. 62. 


1522. tlieir teaching should after all be true ! " " I am a layman, 
and do not understand theology/^ he told Melancthon and 
Amsdorf, '' but I had rather take my staff in my hand and 
quit my country than resist God ! " * In this dilemma he at 
length determined to pursue the course which he had usually 
found the most prudent, to leave the question to unravel itself 
by the course of events. But not so the majority as well as 
the more sensible of the citizens and students. Their cry 
and prayer was for Luther's return. Earnest letters were ad- 
dressed to him, entreating that he would comply with the 
general wish. Even the inspired saints themselves appealed 
to him to endorse their sentiments. And it was evident to 
most persons of sound sense that if the vessel of the Reforma- 
tion was to be saved from total shipwreck, the firm and skilful 
pilot must once more be at the helm. 

Carlstadt was bent on finding his own advantage in his 
alliance with the Zwickau prophets; and having reached a 
more commanding influence by- their support, hastened to 
carry into execution his unripe projects for a more thorough 
Reformation. As if he knew that his opportunity would not 
last long, every day witnessed the downfall of some portion 
of the old ecclesiastical system. Auricular confession was 
abolished ; the attire of the priest was thrown aside, and a 
layman's garb assumed in its place. Antipapal zeal made a 
display of eating eggs and meat on "Wednesdays and Fridays. 
With puritanical ardour the church walls were stripped of the 
pictures which had adorned them ; candles, crucifixes, and the 
various decorations of the shrines of saints strewed the pave- 
ment. Carlstadt's discourses had been particularly directed 
against the idolatry of image-worship ; and a resolution had 

* "Ehe wollte icli einen stab in meine liaud nelimen und davon 
gehen."— Walch. XV. p. 2368. 


been made and notified by the civil authorities, for the re- 1522. 
moval of all incentives to this impiety ; but, as its execution 
seemed tardy, the Archdeacon incited the multitude to free 
the sacred edifices from the desecration of these "painted 
gods, idol logs,^^ with their own hands. The churches were 
tumultuously entered, the images torn down ; heads, hands, 
and limbs were broken, or chopped off, and the fragments left 
on the floor, or thrown into the streets, or consumed by fire 
amidst shouts of exultation. The citizens were then moved to 
petition the town council for the entire abrogation by formal 
order of masses, vigils, processions, and all useless ceremonies, 
which, under apprehension of more destructive riot, was con- 
ceded. The utmost liberty of preaching was granted to the 
Zwickau prophets, by whose aid these precipitate measures 
had been successfully accomplished : and matters were so 
rapidly maturing, that the project for organizing at Witten- 
berg a Christian society on the Zwickau principles, composed 
of none but saints exempt from error by divine illumination, 
was a principal topic of discussion. 

AH this while Luther was prosecuting his translation of the 
New Testament. His sense of the importance, or rather ne- 
cessity of this work, is thus expressed in a letter of the 18th 
December, to his old friend John Lange, who had himself 
previously, of his own independent thought, entered on the 
same task. " The Germans demand it. I hear that you are 
labouring in the same thing ; go on as you have begun. I 
would fain that every town in Germany should have its 
own translator, and that the book of books should be in 
every tongue, in every hand, before every eye, in every ear, 
and in every heart." But Luther found time to continue 
the Postils ; although the difficulties which he had to over- 
come in rendering the New Testament, for the first time, 
from the original Greek into a modern language, proved far 


1522. more onerous than he had at all anticipated. It was, he 
said, a work beyond his strength ; and he expressed a wish, 
in letters, both to Melancthon and Amsdorf, of the same 
day,^ that an apartment might be provided for him in some 
friend's house, or a lodging be procured to which he might 
repair, to avail himself of learned assistance. His plan had at 
first embraced the translation of the Old Testament from the 
Hebrew, as well as of the New from the Greek : but he now 
determined not to attempt the Old Testament, until he en- 
joyed the presence and co-operation of his friends. t And the 
disturbances at Wittenberg shortly afterwards assuming more 
alarming features, as has been related, which proved the ne- 
cessity of his speedy return in his proper character, made him, 
without question, expedite the translation of the New Testa- 
ment at the closing period of his seclusion, with all the de- 
spatch of incredible industry, joined to the highest native 

The Postils were advancing, the translation of the New 
Testament rapidly progressing, and yet Luther found spare 
time for epistolary correspondence, to solve questions in theo- 
logy proposed by his friends, and to communicate his counsel 
in the trying emergencies of the Reformation. Amsdorf en- 
quired his opinion on the subject of Purgatory. He stated in 
reply his belief, that it was rather a state than a place, " a 
taste of hell, such as Christ, Moses, Abraham, David, Jacob, 
Job, Hezekiah, and many other Scriptural characters en- 
dured," and still Purgatory, whether undergone in the body 
or out of the body. Of the soul in its intermediate state 
before reunion with the body, he held the opinion, that ex- 
cept in a few instances it remained in a dormant condition, 

* January 13. 

t Vetus Testamentum non potero attingere, nisi, &c. — De Wette 
II. p. 123. 


but yet so, that there might be a dreamy foretaste of the joys 1522, 
of heaven, or of the torments of hell. To Melancthon, he an- 
swered the objection against infant baptism, that infants 
were incapable of faith, by denying such an assumption alto- 
gether. " Let them prove first what they advance, without 
the least warrant of truth, that infants are incapable of faith.^^ 
The baptism of infants, he urged, had from the Apostolic age 
to the present been the invariable custom of the Church : 
and, although he had expected that " Satan would one day 
touch this sore,^^ the evil spirit had not done so under the 
Papacy, but had reserved such a dreadful wound for the era 
of the Reformation. No single truth of God had ever been 
left without its witness among men : and, therefore, it fol- 
lowed incontestably, that the Anabaptist doctrine, unheard of 
until broached by the Zwickau fanatics, was destitute of all 
foundation. Circumcision among the Jews was of equal virtue 
with baptism among Christians ; yet it had been ordained of 
God that that sign of faith should be marked upon infants : 
and this simple difference, that a specific time, the eighth day 
from the birth, was appointed the Jews, whereas no particu- 
lar period was set apart for baptism, only evinced the greater 
liberty which characterised the Christian dispensation. Even 
were infants incapable of faith, w^hich was untrue, yet the 
faith of the parents might suffice to warrant the admission of 
their children to the baptismal covenant ; or else what did the 
Apostle mean by saying, " Otherwise were your children un- 
clean, but now are they holy." 

From the very first Luther saw through the delusion of im- 
mediate inspiration, and the pretence of sensible colloquies 
with the Divine Being. And it raised his astonishment that 
Philip, so much his superior in attainments, should be stag- 
gered for an instant by the Anabaptist sophistries of the self- 
styled prophets, or ])e at any loss how to deal with their 

VOL. I. z 


1522. presumptuous claims. " Try them/' he wrote, " by such 
Scriptures as Deut. xiii. and 1 John iv. Their story upon its 
face is extremely suspicious, for they talk of divine colloquies. 
Enquire whether they have experienced that spiritual anguish, 
those divine births — death and hell. If you hear of nothing 
but blandness, tranquillity, devotion, and piety, even if they 
should speak of being carried to the third heaven, believe 
them not; because the sign of the Son of Man is wanting, 
which is the test, the sole touchstone of Christians, and the 
sure discerner of the spirits. Would you know the place, the 
time, the mode of divine colloquies ? Listen — ' Like as a 
lion he hath broken all my bones — I am cast away from the 
sight of thine eyes — My soul is filled with trouble, and my 
life draweth nigh unto hell.' The Divine Majesty doth not 
so speak that man may behold him, for ' There shall no flesh 
see me and live.' Nature cannot endure a scintillation of his 
voice. And, therefore, he speaks by the agency of man, be- 
cause we could not bear it if he spoke himself. The Virgin 
was afl'righted when she saw the angel. So was Daniel. And 
Jeremiah complains, ' Bring me into judgment with thee ; be 
not a terror unto me.' Need I add more? As if the Divine 
Majesty covdd speak with the old man, and not first slay and 
turn him to dust, that his foul stench might not arise, because 
God is ' a consuming fire.' Even the dreams and visions of 
the Saints are terrible when sleep has departed. Use these 
tests : and never hear of Jesus in glory, until you have first 
beheld Jesus on the cross." 

He had before resolved to return to Wittenberg after Easter; 
but the commotions which had arisen, or were threatening to 
arise, induced him to fix his return for the beginning of Lent. 
The tumultuous exit of the monks from many convents, as 
from that at Erfurth, which he made a matter of complaint to 
John Langc, and the agitation of the public mind generally, 


warned hira not to delay in his retreat longer than the great 1522. 
work he was engaged in imperatively required. Above all, the 
fanaticism of the Zwickau prophets, which was daily gaining 
the ascendant at Wittenberg, made it indispensable that not 
an unnecessary moment should be spent in the Wartburg. 
On the 17th January, he wrote to Spalatin to implore that 
the Elector would not imbrue his hands in the blood of the 
fanatics, nor have them bound and thrown into prison, nor 
use any kind of violence with them. " I shall soon return, if 
God will, either to remain at Wittenberg or elsewhere, or to 
journey from town to town. I was before resolved on return- 
ing, and now the rumours which reach me are worse and 
worse.^^ The month of February was passed in unremitting 
attention to his work of translation ; so much so, that it is 
only marked in his correspondence by one letter, strikingly 
characteristic, addressed in a consolatory tone of undaunted 
faith to the Elector Frederic. " Grace and blessing from 
God the Father, in respect of your new relics. For a long 
time your Highness has sent after relics into all lands ; but 
now God has heard your desire, and has sent you without 
your expense or pains a whole cross with nails, spears, and 
scourges. Once more, I say, Grace and blessing from God, 
for your new relics. Fear not : stretch out your arms in con- 
fidence, and let the nails enter deep : be thankful and joyful. 
It must and shall be so, with whoever shall hold fast God's 
word, that not only Annas and Caiaphas shall roar, but also a 
Judas shall be among the Apostles, and Satan among the 
children of God. Only let your Highness be prudent and 
wise, and not be led by reason and the appearance of things. 
Tremble not : all is not as Satan would have it. Your High- 
ness must believe me, fool as I am, a little longer ; I know these 
and such-like snares of Satan, and, therefore, I fear nothing, 
and that is. Woe to him. All is not as it seems. Let the 

z 2 


1522. world scream and pass its censure ; let who will fall^ fall : 
St. Peter and the Apostles shall come again on the third day 
at Christ's resurrection. That must still be fulfilled in us — 
' approving ourselves as the ministers of God in afflictions, in 
tumults,' Your Highness will excuse that my pen has run so 
fast in my haste : I have no more time ; and shall myself, 
if God will, soon be there," 

Luther toiled on at his translation, with his ear open to the 
tidings which continually reached him of the progress of 
fanaticism at Wittenberg. He heard that Melancthon avowed 
his " inability to stay the torrent ; " that Carlstadt vindicated 
his preaching anywhere and everywhere against the remon- 
strances of the Court, because, as he said, " the Word had 
come to him with such velocity * that he felt. Woe is me, if I 
do not preach ! " that the Elector by his councillors had ap- 
pealed both to the Town Council, and the University for the 
restoration of order, but without effect ; that Amsdorf preached 
in the parish church against violence and tumult, but the 
popular frenzy would brook no restraint. Such intelligence 
successively received gave speed to his energy, and scarcely 
allowed him to relinquish the pen from his hand for a moment. 
At last Februai'y Avas closing, and the translation of the 
New Testament wv\s completed. What was there now any 
longer to detain him in his towei", when Satan had entered 
among his flock at Wittenberg in the form of an angel of light, 
and was scattering the sheep, and rending the work of God ? 
He resolved accordingly to leave his Patraos on Saturday the 
1st March ; and hoAV strong was the tension of his faith, the 
strain of the preceding letter may demonstrate. On the even- 
ing of the Friday, when the arrangements for his journey had 
all been made, a letter was received from Frederic, requiring 
him to remain in his retreat, and employ himself in composing 

* Gesoliwintligkoit. 


his defence for presentation to the Diet, which had begun its 1522. 
session at Nuremberg : on no account whatever to quit his 
asylum, for it was impossible that he could undertake to de- 
fend hira, and the Emperor and the Pope would demand his 
surrender into their hands, and how could he excuse himself? 
But Luther's decision had been irrevocably taken ; his eye was 
towards God alone ; Frederic admitted this world, the princes, 
and the Diet, in the background of the picture, present to his 
worldly wisdom. Luther, on the contrary, discerned evidently 
the finger of God summoning him back to his old post; and 
his mind was too exclusively possessed with the interests of 
religion, to let the command, even of his prince, much less 
the apprehension of personal danger, weigh a feather in the 

It was late in the evening of Shrove Tuesday, the 4th 
March, when two Swiss students from the town of Basle, 
stopped at the sign of the Black Bear, in the outskirts of 
Jena. They had passed on through a pelting storm of rain 
into the heart of the town ; but the usual scene of rioting, 
masquerading, and jollity, the sure accompaniments of the 
Carnival in Roman Catholic districts, having attracted the 
neighbouring country people and strangers of all kinds to 
Jena, the central inns were crowded to overflowing, and the 
two Swiss travellers had been compelled to seek entertain- 
ment in a less frequented quarter. On entering the parlour 
of the Black Bear they found a knight seated alone at the 
table, accoutred in his riding apparel, red mantle, trunk- 
hose, and doublet, which showed that he was a traveller 
like themselves ; his right hand rested on the pommel of his 
sword, and a book was open before him, which he was intently 
perusing. The Swiss students paused in the entrance on ob- 
serving the knight, and were proceeding to take their places 

* Sec the letter, Walch. XV. p. 2377. Bret. II. p. 561, 


1522, at some distance, out of respect to the stranger, and in consi- 
deration of their wet and travel-stained garments, when the 
knight, courteously addressing them, oflFered them seats at 
the table, and, handing them a glass of beer, enquired from 
what part of Switzerland they were come. St. Gall, they 
said, was their native canton ; but they had been recently 
students at Basle, and were now on their road for Wittenberg, 
as they intended to study at that University. The conversa- 
tion naturally turned to Erasmus, the state of religious mat- 
ters at Basle, and the reputation in which Martin Luther was 
held there. The students ordered some wine, and requited 
their hospitable reception by offering some of it to the 
stranger. " If you are going to Wittenberg," said the knight, 
continuing the conversation, " you will find one of your own 
countrymen. Dr. Jerome Schurff, there." They replied, that 
the principal object of their journey was to see Dr. Martin 
Luther himself, and they should be extremely obliged to the 
knight, if he could inform them by what means they would 
be likely to obtain a sight of him. " I know, for a certainty," 
the knight replied, " that he is not at present at Wittenberg, 
but I am equally assured that he soon will be there." He 
then spoke of Philip Melancthon, and his immense erudition, 
and advised the students to pay the most careful attention to 
his lectures, and use the utmost assiduity for the acquire- 
ment of Greek and Hebrew, that they might be able to read 
the Scriptures in the original languages. But the students' 
curiosity had fixed itself upon Martin Luther, and they cared 
comparatively little about Melancthon. "We understand," 
they rejoined, ''that Luther's aim is to do away with the 
clergy and the mass, and, as we have oui'selves been educated 
for lioly orders, Ave are anxious to learn on what basis his 
principles are built." " What is thought of Luther by your 
countrymen?" the knight enquired. " Some persons," they 


aiisweredj " cannot be loud enough in his praise ; and others 1522. 
are not able to find words strong- enough to express their de- 
testation." " Yes, of course/' muttered the knight, " those 
are the priests." Emboldened by this familiar conversation, 
one of the students had the curiosity to open the volume, 
which was still lying on the table, in which the knight had 
been reading, and found to his surprise that it was the Psalter 
in Hebrew. "I would willingly give my little finger," he 
remarked, shutting i^p the book, and eager to find some 
apology for his inquisitiveness, "if I understood that lan- 
guage." " You have only to persevere," the knight answered, 
" and you may be assured that your wish will be gratified." 
But the curiosity of the students was now redoubled to know 
who the strange knight could be, who, booted and spurred, 
and with a sword at his side, talked nevertheless of Erasmus 
and Melancthon, and read Greek and Hebrew. 

In the middle of the conversation the landlord entered the 
room, and having heard the two Swiss express their eagerness 
to see Luther, observed, " Good friends, you should have been 
here two days ago, and you would have had your wish, for he 
sat in that very chair and at that very table," pointing to 
where the knight was seated. The landlord went out with a 
broad laugh on his countenance, and soon afterwards, calling 
one of the students aside, whispered in his ear, " I heard you 
say just now that you wanted to see Martin Luther; I will 
tell you a secret, if you can keep it : it is Luther with whom 
you have been conversing." " You are making a fool of me," 
the student exclaimed in astonishment. " No ; it is Luther 
himself; you may be assured that I am telling you the truth; 
only don't let him perceive that he is recognised." The Swiss 
hastened back to the parlour, and contrived, whilst leaning 
forward as if he were looking at the door, to apprise his com- 
panion that their host had just told him the strange knight 


1522. was Luther. " Impossible ! " the other answered, " he must 
have said Hutten ; the two names sound something alike." 
They agreed that the ear must have confused the sounds, and 
that the knight with the Hebrew Psalter was Ulric von 

Presently two travelling merchants entered the apartment, 
one of them with an unbound book in his hand, which he 
showed to the company, and which proved to be the first part 
of Martin Luther's '^ Postils," or " Commentaries on the 
Gospels and Epistles,'' dedicated to Albert the youngest of 
the counts of Mansfeld, and which had just been published. 
The book attracted the attention of the knight, and he ob- 
served, " I shall soon procure that book." 

It was now time for supper to be served; but the two 
Swiss, whose purses were but leanly furnished, apprehending 
the cost of sitting down to the same repast with a knight and 
two wealthy merchants, requested that they might be pro- 
vided for apart. But the landlord told them that he would 
be considerate and not fleece them ; and the knight, who 
guessed the true ground of their demurring to partake of 
supper with the merchants and himself, invited them to be- 
come his guests : " Come, come, I shall settle the score." 
The conversation at the supper-table quickly became exceed- 
ingly animated, and the knight delivered himself of such 
sensible and shrewd remarks, with so much point and fluency, 
that the rest of the company thought less of enjoying their 
meal than of listening to his observations. He dilated with 
some severity on the senseless manner in which the German 
nobles assembled at Nuremberg in attendance on the Diet 
were wasting their time, and instead of devoting their thoughts 
to the business of their country, were engaged in tourneys, 
sledging, revelling, and pageantry. "Such," he said, "are 
our Christian princes ! " " It is plain that tliat Martin 


Luther/' exclaimed one of the merchants, " is either an angel 1522. 
from heaven or a devil from hell ; I would give ten guilders 
to have the opportunity of confessing to him." 

At the conclusion of supper the landlord whispered to the 
students, " Martin has settled the reckoning.-" The mer- 
chants now rose from table to retire to rest, and thanking 
the knight for his generous hospitality, intimated that they 
supposed him to be Ulric von Hutten. The host came in 
shortly afterwards, and the knight related to him with a 
smile how he had just been taken for Hutten. " No, you are 
not Hutten," rejoined the landlord, " you are Martin Luther." 
Bursting into a hearty laugh, the knight exclaimed, " What ! 
they take me for Hutten, and you for Luther; I shall be 
taken next for Markolfus ! " The Swiss were left alone in 
the room with the knight, Avho, filling a glass with beer, and 
raising it to his lips, challenged his messmates in the manner 
of the country : " Swiss, one glass more for thanks ! " He 
was going to pass the glass to them, when recollecting that 
they did not drink beer, but wine, he poured out a glass of 
wine, and presented it to them instead. Then rising from 
table, and throwing his military cloak about his shoulders, 
he shook hands with the students, requesting them not to 
forget to give his salutation to Dr. Jerome Schurff. And 
" Who are we to say," they inquired, " bids us ofiPer him his 
salutation ? " '' Say," replied the knight, " that he who should 
come sends his salutation to him ; he will know who it is," 

The next morning the knight rose with the break of day, 
and was already mounted on his horse at the door of the inn, 
ready to depart, when the two merchants, who had been 
informed meanwhile by the landlord that the stranger was 
Martin Luther, hurried towards the knight, and offered their 
apologies for the freedom and incivility of their remarks the 
night before, of which they had been guilty in entire igno- 


1522. ranee who he really was. '' Well," the knight replied Avith a 
smile, " if you go to Wittenberg, and confess to Martin 
Luther, as you spoke of doing, you will see whether I am he 
or not : " and so saying, and nodding a farewell, he rode from 
the court of the Black Bear. 

That day, the 5th March (Ash Wednesday), Luther — for the 
courteous knight with the Hebrew Psalter was no other — con- 
tinued his ride until he reached Borna, a small town in the 
vicinity of Leipsic, where he rested for the night at the sign 
of the Guide. And that evening he wrote from Borna a let- 
ter to the Elector of Saxony, in reply to the communication 
which he had received from hira the evening before he set out 
from the Wartburg, in prohibition of his return. "Your 
Highness' letter reached me on Friday evening, when I had 
already fixed to start on my journey on the following morn- 
ing. It needs no acknowledgment or testimony from me that 
the intention of your Highness is all for the best ; for I am 
as assured it is so, as any human conviction can make me. 
On the other hand, that my own intention is for good, I know 
from a higher than any human conviction. 

■X- * * " What I wrote to your Highness did not proceed 
from any regard to myself; I never thought of that, but from 
concern at the gross proceedings which have recently tran- 
spired at Wittenberg, to the extreme scandal of the Gospel. 
I apprehended that your Highness would be greatly troubled 
by it. It has so grieved me myself, that were I not confident 
that the dear Gospel is with us, I should tremble for our 
cause. Every suffering that has as yet assailed me in this 
cause is mere child's play, and as nothing to it. Willingly, 
could I have done so, I would have redeemed us from such a 
scandal with my life. We cannot answer for it, either before 
God or the world : and it is woe to my very heart. The pur- 
port of my letter was, to direct the attention of your Highness 


to the plain footprint of the devil in this disgraceful game. If 1522. 
j^our Highness needed not such admonition, at least it be- 
hoved me to tender it. 

" As regards ray own cause, I answer, whether your High- 
ness knows it or not, let it now be declared, that I have not 
received the Gospel from man, but from heaven, through our 
Lord Jesus Christ, so that I well might boast, and write my- 
self, and henceforth I will do so, his servant and evangelist. 
That I offered my tenets for disputation, was never because I 
felt the slightest question of their truth, but in the hope of 
winning over others to embrace them. But I now see that 
my humble tone has been an injury to the Gospel, and that 
Satan will seize the vacant ground if I only give him a hand's 
breadth of room ; and, therefore, henceforth my conscience 
will compel me to act otherwise. Satan knows well that what 
I did 1 never did from fear. He saw my heart Avhen I en- 
tered Worms, that had I known that so many devils would 
have set upon me, as there were tiles upon the housetops, I 
should have sprung into the midst of them with joy. 

" Now Duke George is, after all, very different from only 
one devil. And since the Father of infinite mercies has made 
us joyful lords over all devils, and over death, and has given 
us the kingdom of faith, that we can dare to call him, ' Dear 
Father,' your Highness may infer that it is the deepest shame 
to our Father, not so far to trust him, as to believe that we 
shall be lords over the fury of Duke George. I well know 
that if the scene of this disturbance were at Leipsic, instead of 
at Wittenberg, I would ride into that town — your Highness 
must pardon my silly talk— although it should rain nothing but 
Duke Georges for nine days, and each one of them tenfold as 
furious as he is. He fancies my Lord Christ a man of straw, 
and that my Lord and I may endure for a little while. I will 
not hide it from your Highness, that 1 have prayed and wept 
for Duke George, and that not once merely, that God would 


]522. enlighten him with his grace. And I will pray and weep for 
him once again ; but never more after that. I implore your 
Highness to help too with your prayers^ if by any means we 
may turn away from him the judgment^ which, O Lord God ! 
is hastening with what speed to overtake him every hour of 
the day. I could choke Duke George with one word, if all 
coidd be settled so. 

" I would have your Highness know that I come to Wit- 
tenberg under a much higher protection than that of the 
Elector. I have not the least intention of craving protection 
from your Highness. On the contrary, I believe that 1 shall 
be better able to protect your Highness than your Highness 
will be to protect me. If I thought that your Highness either 
could or would protect me, I should not come. This cause 
no sword either can, or sliall counsel, or help. God must do 
all alone, without any care or aid of man. He who has the 
most faith will be the best able to afford protection. And 
knowing that your Highness is still very v. cak in faith, I can 
in no wise look upon your Highness as the man to protect 
or save me. 

" Since your Highness desires to know what you should do 
in this cause, under the impression that you have done too 
little, I reply, with all submission — Your Highness has done 
far too much already, and must do nothing at all. For God 
will not, and cannot endure any care or trouble on your 
Highness' part or mine. He will have everything left to 
himself alone. If your Highness can believe this, you will 
have peace : if your Highness cannot believe this, yet I be- 
lieve it, and must leave your Highness' want of faith to suffer 
the qualms of its own cares, which is the portion of those 
without faith. Since I do not follow the directions of your 
Highness, your Highness is guiltless before God, should I be 
apprehended or put to death. Your Highness, as an Elector, 
must be obedient to the supreme power, and allow his Im- 


perial Majesty in your Higliness' states and lands, to dispose 1522. 
of body and goods, as is his prerogative, according to the ordi- 
nances of the Empire, without offering atiy opposition, or inter- 
posing any hinderance, if the sovereign power should please to 
seize or slay me. For no one shall resist the supreme power 
save Him who appointed it. To do so, is rebellion against 
God. I hope, however, they will have sense enough to know 
that your Highness was rocked in too lofty a cradle to act the 
part of a gaoler over me. If your Highness will leave the gate 
open, and respect the safe-conduct, when they come them- 
selves to take me or send their messengers, by such conduct 
your Highness will sufficiently regard the duty of obedience. 

" Herewith I commend me to your Highness in the grace 
of God. I will write again speedily if there be need. I have 
despatched this letter in haste, that your Highness might not 
be grieved by the report of my coming ; for I shall and must 
be a comfort to every one, and not a bane, if I would be a 
true Christian. I have to deal with a different man from 
Duke George, one who knows me well, and whom I do not 
know ill. Could your Highness but believe, you should see 
the majesty of God : because you have not yet believed, you 
have as yet not seen it. To God be praise and love for ever. 

The allusion to Duke George in the preceding letter had 
reference to a proclamation which he had published for the 
suppression of all Lutheranism in his dominions : Duke 
Henry of Brunswick and some bishops had published procla- 
mations with a similar object ; but that of Duke George 
breathed inordinate fury, and sentenced Lutheran monks and 
priests, and all who communicated in both kinds, to prison 
without mercy ."^ 

* Keil. p. 125. Seckend. I. p. 192. 


1522. After two days' more travelling, on Friday, the 7th March, 
Martin Luther passed through the streets of Wittenberg, and 
dismounted at the gate of his convent. He retired to his cell, 
Init tlic transmutation which had taken place in the Wartburg 
was not immediately reversed : he still wore in the Augustine 
convent for a day or two the military costume of Yunker 
George. A letter in which he had replied to the entreaties 
of the Wittenberg townspeople for his return, had apprised 
them of his coming as near at hand ; but, although his arrival 
was thus not unexpected, it was not the less welcome to all 
friends of sober sense and order. The next day after his 
return Luther repaired to the house of Jerome Schurff, and 
there found Melanethon, Jonas, Amsdorff, and Augustine 
Schurff, the brother of Jerome, assembled and waiting his 
presence. Luther was standing in the centre of this group of 
professors, minutely inquiring the particulars of all that had 
passed since he was last with them, when the two Swiss stu- 
dents who had been favoured with the singular rencontre 
with the knight with the Hebrew Psalter at Jena, were 
ushered into the apartment. They were standing near the 
door in awe of the learned society among which they suddenly 
found themselves, when their eyes fell on the unmistakeable 
countenance of the knight of Jena, dressed in the same garb 
as when they had seen him before, who at once recognising 
them in turn, advanced and gave them a hearty welcome, 
and introduced them as his friends to the other professors. 
He led them to Melanethon, and said, "This is Philip of 
whom you heard me speak at Jena.'^ And on the strength 
of the acquaintanceship formed in the parlour of the Black 
Bear, Luther insisted that the two Swiss should spend the 
rest of the day with himself and his associates. 

The Elector Avas at this time at Lochau, and was deeply 
aflfected when he received the tidings of Luther's return. 


The heroism of the unfriended monk, who, relying on God 1522. 
alone, discarded human defence in his bold adherence to duty, 
was exactly calculated to touch the sympathies of a generous 
prince. Frederic's thoughts naturally turned immediately to 
the Diet, before whose consideration the Lutheran aflFair was 
shortly to be brought, and he thought with alarm on the 
effect which the hazardous step the Reformer had just token 
might produce on the states of the Empire ; but as that step 
could not now be retraced, he determined to use his best efforts 
to secure Dr. Martin's safety. He wrote therefore on the 6th 
March to Schurff, " Let Luther write to me stating the rea- 
sons of his return, in such a manner that his letter may be 
made public, and let him expressly avow that he returned 
without my consent ; and let him not on any account preach 
in All Saints' Church." 

Luther wrote a letter to the Elector in conformity with 
this request, in which he declared that the reasons which had 
induced him to venture on returning to Wittenberg were 
principally three. First, that the common voice of the Church 
in the most urgent entreaties had implored him to return. 
God had commissioned him to the Church of Wittenberg, 
and his conscience would ever have reproached him had he 
disregarded the call of his flock ; and it Avas not by others' 
consciences, but by his own conscience, that he must answer 
to God. Secondly, Satan, as a wolf, had fallen upon his 
flock in his absence, and excited disturbances, which no writ- 
ing, nothing he could do, short of his presence and " living 
mouth " would be able to quell. He would gladly suffer 
death for his flock ; he was bound to do so, for they were his 
children in Christ, should it be God's will ; and the wrath or 
no wrath * of the whole world was nothing in his estimation 

* AUer welt ;5orn imd nnzorn hintan zu setzen. 


1522. compared with his duty to his flock, Tliirdly, he foreboded a 
general insurrection throughout Germany, in Divine ven- 
geance on the national iniquities ; for the common people 
loved to hear the truth better than to practise it ; and the 
ruling powers were trusting to extinguish with the high hand 
the light which God had kindled, and were thus provoking 
the lower orders to rebellion. An infatuation from God had 
fallen on them, and they Avere courting destruction for them- 
selves and their children. It was true the spiritual tyranny 
had been weakened by his writings ; but the temporal power, 
he had now learnt, must bow to the Gospel either in the 
spirit of love, or under the groans of suffering. He had 
therefore returned to place himself, in Ezekiel's language, as a 
wall before the people, to avert from Germany, if possible, the 
scourge of the Divine anger. But he must act upon his own 
convictions, and would warn the Elector that the decree 
passed in heaven was different from that passed at Nurem- 
berg ; and that those w^ho were thinking to eat up the Gospel 
whole, would find to their woe that they had not yet " said 
grace " over it. In a postsci'ipt he requested the Elector, if 
anything were displeasing to him in the letter, to frame 
another more conformable to his taste and send it to him. 
Frederic availed himself of this permission to subdue mate- 
rially the tone of the epistle. For " Nuremberg,^^ he substi- 
tuted "earth " — '' different from the decree passed on earth,^' 
— and he prefixed " all-gracious '' to the mention of the 
Emperor — " my all-gracious lord." On the 12th March Lu- 
ther despatched the revised, or rather emasculated, letter to 
the Elector enclosed in a communication to Spalatin, in 
which he did not omit to complain of " the many signs of the 
Elector's timorous want of faith." He particularly regretted 
the epithet " all-gracious " as applied to the Emperor, and 
he said that only the popular style of speaking reconciled him 


to its adoption, for he had an extreme hatred to every form 1522. 
of falsehood,^ and all the world knew the Emperor had been 
anything but " all-gracious " towards him. 

On the Saturday after Luther's return there was but one 
theme of remark at Wittenberg ; and burgher met burgher, 
and student student, and with radiant countenances exchanged 
congratulations on the great event, " Luther is come.'' His 
sermon on the morrow was anxiously looked forward to ; and 
before the appointed hour had arrived, the University and the 
whole town had poured itself into the parish church. Carl- 
stadt and Gabriel Zwilling were there, as well as Jonas and 
Melancthon, all intent on listening to the man who, under 
the anathema of the Pope and the ban of the Emperor, it 
was yet felt, was the only man in Germany equal to the crisis. 
The fate of the Reformation in fact, and the destiny of 
humanity, seemed to hang upon his lips. 

What events had passed since last Luther stood in that 
pulpit ! But ascending it with the same calmness and quiet 
self-possession as ever, he began his discourse in his usual un- 
pretending style, insisting on the importance of a clear under- 
standing of the principles of the Christian faith. The first 
principle he declared to be, that we are all by nature the 
children of wrath ; the second, that God has sent his only- 
begotten Son that we should believe in him, and that who- 
ever with the heart trusts in him is free from all sin and a 
child of God. On these two momentous points he found no 
error nor failing among his flock. On the contrary, such first 
principles were clearly preached to them ; it would be grief 
indeed to him were it otherwise : nay, he could clearly see, 
and would dare to say, that several of them were better taught 
than he was ; not merely one, two, three, or four, but ten or 

* Fucos mire odi. — De Welte, II. p. 150. 
VOL. I. A A 


1522. more, so enlightened were they in knowledge. The third 
principle was, that '' we must also have love, and through love 
act towards one another, as God has acted towards us through 
faith." Without such love faith availed nothing ; nay, with- 
out it faith was no faith, but a mere semblance, just as the 
countenance of a man reflected in a mirror is no real coun- 
tenance but a semblance of the real. Under this head, how- 
ever, he had to regret a lamentable failure ; he could see no 
proof of such love in them, but must mourn over their sad 
defect of gratitude towards God for the rich treasure he had 
bestowed. Wittenberg was too like Capernaum. The fourth 
principle was the necessity of patience. " For the devil 
sleepeth not, but gives enough to do." By enduring trials 
faith waxed stronger day by day ; and a patient heart, graced 
with virtue, could never rest, but would strive for the profit 
and well-being of every brother, after the pattern of the Divine 

After laying down these principles, the discourse addressed 
itself more pointedly to the recent religious changes. It was 
the bouuden duty of every one to regard what was of use and 
furtherance to his brother, and not always to do all that he 
had a right to do. St. Paul declared, "All things are lasvful 
for me, but all things are not expedient : " and God, by the 
mouth of Moses said, " I have carried thee as a mother doth 
her children." How did a mother rear her children? At 
first by giving them milk, then pap, then other soft food. So 
must we bear with our brother's weakness, and feed him with 
milk till he should grow strong ; and not go to heaven alone, 
but take our brother with us. " Dear brother, hast thou 
sucked enough? cut not away the breast, but let thy brother 
suck, as thou hast sucked." The changes which had been 
made were good, but the zeal had been too precipitate ; and 
there were brothers and sisters on the other side who were yet 


to be brought OA'^er. The sun in the firmament had its light and 1522. 
its warmth ; nothing was so strong as to bend from its path the 
glance of the sunbeam ; but the ?ieat turned and bent itself on 
all sides round the sun. Faith, like the sun's ra}', must be 
inflexible, rooted in the heart, and never swerving from its 
course ; but love, like the sun's warmth, must shed itself on 
all sides, and fold our neighbour in its embrace. Some could 
run, others could scarcely creep, and the weak must not be left 
to be torn to pieces by the devil, by the strong outstripping 
him. He had himself been the first to preach the truth at 
Wittenberg ; and he well knew that he had proclaimed the 
clear Word of God. They must lie under one another's feet, 
reach out the hands to one another, and help one another. 
The contest was now, not against the Pope or his bishops, but 
against the devil. Did any suppose the devil slept? He was 
not asleep, but he saw the true light going out, it no longer 
flashed bright under his eyes, and he would soon run in at the 
side if they were not on the watch. He knew him well, he had 
eaten many a lump of salt with him, and he hoperl, by God's 
grace, that he was his master. It was true the mass was an 
impiety, but why had order been forgotten in abolishing it ? 
Such an undertaking ought to have been commenced with 
earnest prayer ; and the civil power should have been called 
in to lend its aid. Some things must be, others might, or 
might not be. Faith must be. But in such things as might 
or might not be, regard must be paid to the profit of others ; 
and to encourage a weak brother to eat meat on Fridays, was, 
perhaps, to load his conscience with scruples which would 
press sore on him in the death agony. They must earnestly 
supplicate God, and each act with patience and brotherly 
love, or all the woe which the Reformation had heaped upon 
the Papists, would recoil on the Reformation itself. 

On Monday Luther again mounted the pulpit, and preached 

A A 2 


1522. more particularly on the subject of the mass. The mass was 
a bad thing, and God detested it, for it was pretended that it 
was a sacrifice and a good work, and therefore it must be 
abolished. His prayer was, that all private masses through- 
out the world might be abolished, and only the common evan- 
gelical mass be celebrated ! But love must reign in the mat- 
ter. No one must draw or tear another away by the hair, 
but leave God to do his own woi'k, for the plain reason that 
no man has in his hand the hearts of others, and no man can 
make his words pass deeper than the ear. The Word of God 
must be freely preached, and this Word must be left to work 
in the heart ; and when the heart was won, then the man was 
won, but not till then. And as soon as by such means a 
general agreement was effected, then the work of abolition 
would be properly carried into eflPect. Not that he wished to 
restore the mass ; he " would let it lie where it was in the 
name of God: '^ but there could be no such thing as seizing 
or binding the faith. Faith must be free. When Paul walked 
from one idol to another at Athens, and saw them all, he 
moved not one of them with his foot, but he went into the 
market-place and preached against idolatry ; the Word settled 
in their hearts, and then the idols fell. The Word of God had 
created heaven and earth, and all things, and that Word must 
be the operating power, and " not we poor sinners." His own 
history was an example of the power of the Word. He de- 
clared God's Word, preached and wrote against Indulgences 
and Popery, but never used force : but this Word, whilst he 
was sleeping, or drinking his tankard of Wittenberg ale with 
Philip and Amsdorf, worked with so mighty a power that the 
Papacy had been weakened and broken to such a degree, as 
no prince or emperor had ever been able to break it. Yet he 
had done nothing, the Word had done all. Blood would have 
been shed if he had been disposed to tumult ; and at Worms 


a game would have been set on foot in wliich the Emperor 1522. 
would have trembled for his safety : but that would have been 
a fooFs game, only destruction of body and soul. He had 
done nothing, he had left the Word to its own action. What 
did they suppose the devil thought when man exerted his own 
power to accomplish the purposes of truth ? Seated in the 
depths of hell, he thought, O ! what a fine sport these fools 
will make for me ! but it was woe to him, when any one 
suffered the Word to operate unimpeded. The Word was 
almighty, it took captive the heart, and then the work fol- 
lowed as a matter of course. In St. PauFs time there were 
great contentions whether the law of Moses was binding in all 
its parts or not. Paul preached that a '' might or might not 
be," should not be changed into a " must be," but the ques- 
tion should be left to each one's decision according to his own 
conscience. This settlement remained in force until Jerome 
came, who was for abolishing every remnant of Judaism, and 
establishing the " must be." Then came Augustine, who un- 
derstood PauFs meaning, whereas Jerome was a full hundred 
miles away from it. The two Doctors thrust their heads 
hard together. On Augustine's death Jerome introduced the 
''must be," and enacted a law. Prom one law sprang a thou- 
sand laws, till they were overrun with laws. So would it be 
now : one law would grow to two, two to three, and so on. 
Compassion must be shown to weak consciences, and Christian 
freedom be maintained. 

On Tuesday he touched on the monastic life, and applied 
the same principle. " He could wish that every monk and nun 
heard his preaching, and had sense to leave the cloister, and 
that every monastery throughout the world might cease to 
exist." But it was left free by God to marry or to be un- 
married, to eat fish, or to cat flesh, and God's freedom must 
not be turned into a command. From this subject he passed 


1522. to that of images. These were imuecessary : " we might have 
them or not have them ; although it were better to be with- 
out them." The one party quoted the words of the Almighty, 
"Thou shalt make to thyself no graven image, nor the like- 
ness," &c. : the other party said — Yes, but the Almighty has 
added, " Thou shalt not worship them." Noah, Abraham, 
and Jacob had built altars ; Moses had erected a brazen ser- 
pent; St. Paul voyaged in a ship which bore as its figure-head 
the twin gods Castor and Pollux. Yet St. Paul did not tear 
away their images. Such representations were permissible, if 
they were not worshipped; if they were, they must be re- 
moved, as Hezekiah broke in pieces the brazen serpent which 
Moses had made, when it appeared that the Israelites ad- 
dressed prayers to it. The Word must be preached, that 
images are nothing, that God is not served by such things ; 
and such a course would more effectually do away with them 
than their tumultuous and forcible destruction. To destroy 
them at Wittenberg might be to keep them standing at Nu- 
remberg. Outward things could do no injury to faith, pro- 
vided the heart did not hang upon them. 

On Wednesday he resumed the subject of images. For 
any man to fancy he did a work acceptable to God by placing 
a silver or gold image in a church was direct idolatry; and 
the Elector Frederic, the Bishop of Halle, and others, who 
had spent so much wealth on images, would never have done 
so had they known that an image is nothing in God's estima- 
tion, and that it is far better to give a single guilder to a poor 
man than to dedicate an image of gold to God. A crucifix 
was not God — God was in heaven. That images were grossly 
abused no one could gaiusay; but that was not sufficient 
reason for destroying them. If everything that was abused 
ought to be abolished, the sun, moon, and stars, which some 
nations worshipped, must be torn down from their seats in 


the heavens ; wine and women must be done away with ; nay, 1522. 
a man must destroy himself, as his own heart was his greatest 
foe."^ He could wish there were not an image in the whole 
World ; but not compulsion, but the free preaching of God's 
Word, must hurl down the images. He passed to the subject 
of feasts and fasts. No one could deny that Christians were 
free to eat flesh, fish, eggs, and butter, when they pleased. 
The Pope had instituted a foolish dead ordinance — " Thou 
shalt not eat flesh on Fridays, but fish— Thou shalt eat only 
fish on fast-days, not butter or eggs." To vindicate Christian 
freedom against the Pope and stiff'-necked persons, it was right 
to transgress openly these ordinances of men. But, for the 
sake of the weak in faith, who would willingly believe what 
they ought, but were hindered through ignorance, it was meet 
to act with patience and avoid giving offence. On this prin- 
ciple St. Paul circumcised Timothy. But when St. Peter 
first ate swine flesh with the Gentiles, then abstained from it 
with the Jews, and thus led the Gentiles to conclude that 
they must keep the Mosaic law, St. Paul reasoned with him — 
"- If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, 
and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to 
live as do the Jews ? ' ' Thus evangelical freedom would use 
discernment of persons and seasons. 

On Thursday he treated of the Sacrament of the Lord's 
Supper, particularly of taking the bread with the hand, and 
of receiving the Sacrament in both kinds. Their conduct in 
respect to that sacrament, which- " is our highest treasure," 
had been such, that it would have been no wonder if thunder 
and lightning had struck them to the earth. God might 
endure all the rest, but he could by no means endure that 

* The reasoning is not very conclusive, as there is a material dis- 
tinction between trials and temptations ordered in the course of Divine 
Providence, and self-created trials. Images arc of the latter kind 


1522. they had made a compulsory ordinance. And if they did not 
recede from it, no Emperor need drive him from amongst 
them : he would himself depart undriven, and say of them, 
that no foe, although his foes had occasioned him much suffer- 
ing, had ever dealt him such a blow as they had dealt him. 
The words of the Saviour, " Take and eat," did not necessarily 
imply " Take with the hand ; " and in imagining the handling 
of the bread and the cup essential to a right reception, they 
were as silly as the Papists, who would not permit the altar- 
cloth to be washed by any woman, not even a pure nun, and 
if any one touched the body of the Lord would cvit off his 
finger, or yet worse. If handling the Lord made a Christian, 
Herod and Pilate would be the best of Christians. It was 
neither a good nor a bad act to take the bread with the hand ; 
but for the sake of the weak in faith it had better be discon- 
tinued. He approved of the administration in both kinds as 
agreeable to the institution of Christ, but it must not be 
framed into an ordinance and made compulsory. If they 
supposed they were good Christians because they handled the 
body of the Lord and received the Sacrament in both kinds, 
they must be told they were very bad Christians ; for a sow 
with her great snout could do as much, and so far be a good 
Christian. No outward act, but faith, made the Christian. 
The Word must be preached through the length and breadth 
of the land ; and if they demeaned themselves soberly, many 
weak but goodhearted men would come over to them, when 
they had heard the Word as long as they had. 

Friday was devoted to the renewed consideration of the 
Sacrament of the Lord^s Supper, particularly the preparation 
necessary in those who would partake of it — " Faith, in a 
humbled and trembling heart." 

Saturday resumed the subject, and was employed in investi- 
gatiug the effect of worthily partaking of the Sacrament, 


which he stated to be more particularly the increase of love, 1522. 
doing to our fellow-creatures as God has done to us. 

Sunday, the 15th March, wound up the series of discourses 
with the topic of confession. There were two kinds of con- 
fession grounded upon Scripture. The first, for open sins, 
enjoined by Christ, and alluded to in the words, ''If thy 
brother sin against thee, go and tell him his fault between 
thee and him alone : if he shall hear thee thou hast gained 
thy brother ; bu^t if he refuse to hear thee, tell it unto the 
Church." If the guilty party would not take the warning of 
the congregation in good part then it was incumbent that he 
should be excommunicated, until he came to his sober senses 
and repented. But of this species of confession there were 
no traces left ; and on this point the Gospel was trampled 
under foot. Whoever would restore this primitive discipline 
would do a good work. The second kind of confession was 
for secret sins, when the penitent went into a retired corner, 
and humbled himself before God, and implored pardon. The 
third kind of confession was not grounded upon Scripture, 
but was commanded by the Pope. It consisted in going into 
a private spot with another, and disclosing the sins and sorrows 
of the heart in order to hear a word of comfort. The Pope had 
not that power which he had arrogated to compel Christians 
to this mode of confession. But, on the other hand, whoever 
had fought oft and long with Satan must know well how 
much comfort and strength were thus imparted ; and since 
ours was a sore combat against the devil, death, hell, and our 
sins, no weapon must be taken from our hands. When the 
assurance of pardon conveyed from a fellow-creature^s lips 
was believed, and there Avas deep repentance for sin, and a 
hearty desire to be rid of it, the human sentence was ratified 
in heaven. But if any one possessed a firm and steadfast 
faith that his sins were forgiven him, he needed not the abso- 


1522. lution of his neighbour. The Gospel was full of the shelter 
of Divine absolution, such as the text, " If ye forgive men 
their trespasses your heavenly Father will forgive you your 
trespasses ; " and the clause in the Lord's Prayer, " Forgive 
us our trespasses as we forgive them/' &c. Baptism enabled 
us to cry to God, " See, O Lord, I am baptized in thy name, 
whereby I am assured of thy grace and compassion." The 
general absolution was moreover as if God himself declared, 
"Thy sins are forgiven thee." And in the Sacrament of the 
Lord's Supper we ate his body and drank his blood as a token 
that God has loosed us from our transgressions. 

These discourses from first to last vaere listened to by 
crowded congregations with fixed attention. The whole his- 
tory of the preacher, the fact, to which he appealed, that he 
had been the first to make known the Gospel at Wittenberg, 
his disinterested zeal, which had led him to brave the imperial 
edict, and, as he himself said, " throw himself into the midst 
of the rage of Csesar and the Pope, surrounded only by a 
heavenly guard," weighed on the minds of his audience, and 
put the seal of authority on his words. His conduct at 
Worms had thrown a lustre on Germany as well as rendered 
him more than ever the idol of his countrymen, and he now 
reappeared amongst his flock from some mysterious retreat, 
at a period of agitation and tumult, as in old time one of the 
prophets of Jehovah might suddenly appear on the scene 
after a temporary withdrawal, with a Divine message to the 
backsliders of Israel. The great majority even of those who 
had taken part in the disturbances excited by Carlstadt and 
the Zwickau fanatics, were electrified by the moving elo- 
quence of the preacher, the face, the form, the manner of 
the tried champion of truth, the accents of the well-known 
voice meeting the ear after an interval short in time but 
longer than a century in momentous events ; and with con- 


scious inferiority boMed before the unwavering decisions of a 1522, 
powerful intellect and a deeply Christian heart. In truth, at 
no moment of his career does Luther appear greater. In 
opposing the recklessness of lawless innovation, maintaining 
Scripture against fanaticism, and insisting on charity as the 
true exemplification of faith, he added completeness to his 
testimony at Worms, and greatly enhanced its value by prov- 
ing the purity of his motives, and the soundness of his 
scripturally informed judgment. And in his discourses, 
whilst there was unhesitating clearness, there was the gentle- 
ness of afiection blended with authority. He forbore from 
personal allusions, and abstained from touching on the 
Zwickau doctrines at all, as though he were unwilling to sup- 
pose it possible that his flock could be victims to such sense- 
less infatuation. And the self-sacrifice of his courageous de- 
portment, and the love which his acts attested and his words 
breathed, were vouchsafed the reward of the most speedy 
and complete triumph. The routine of customary life was 
restored as by magic. The merchant was again at his desk ; 
the student at his books ; the schools were again crowded with 
scholars, the lecture-rooms with auditors ; order reigned in 
the chm^ches and in the streets. Before the discourses had 
been concluded these eftects began to show themselves ; and 
Dr. Schurflf wrote to the Elector,"^ " O ! what joy has Dr. 
Martin's return diffused amongst us, whether learned or un- 
learned ! He is daily by Divine mercy bringing back our 
deluded people into the way of truth. It is as clear as da}''- 
light that the Spirit of God is with him, and a special Provi- 
dence has ordered his return." One of the first to acknow- 
ledge and renounce his errors was Gabriel Zwilling. When 
he was asked if he did not think Luther a wonderful preacher, 

* See the letter, WalcL. XV. p. 2401. It was written March 15. 


1522. he answered, " I scera to have been listening to no voice of 
man, but that of an angel from heaven." Wolfgang Capito, the 
temporising chaplain of the Archbishop of Mentz, spent two 
days at Wittenberg, in order to attend Luther^s discourses, 
and heard counsels of moderation and charity from lips of 
sincerity and truth with no feigned delight. Even Carlstadt 
became reconciled to Luther in appearance; and whatever 
objections he might really entertain against his doctrines, for 
the present at least behaved as if he were convinced of his 

The principle laid down by Luther, and now acted upon, 
was liberty within the lines drawn by God's Word ; to abolish 
every usage plainly forbidden by Scripture ; but wherever the 
verdict of Holy Writ was less evident, to permit the retention 
of the custom, or its disuse, as each individual conscience 
might dictate. This leniency did not proceed from any tinc- 
ture of indifference, but was the simple exercise of the 
true spirit of Christian charity. Luther with strict consist- 
ency turned round upon the enthusiastic party, and applied 
to them exactly the reproof which he had before directed 
against the Papists, that " the Pope had erected a tyranny, 
and they had only thrown down his to set up a tyranny of 
their own." No ordinance was to be enacted where God had 
made none. But his own views were defined on all the topics 
which had come under discussion, and in his letters, as in his 
preaching, he gave a distinct statement of them. " I con- 
demn," he wrote to Hansmann, " images, but by the Word ; I 
would not have them burnt, but no confidence placed in 
them. I condemn the laws of the Pope on confession, com- 
munion, prayer, and fasting, but by the Word, that the con- 
science may be set free."* And he appealed from the pulpit 

* De Wcttc, II. pp. 151, 152. 


to the recollection of his hearers, whether he was not now 1522. 
teaching what he had always taught.* Proceeding on this 
charitable and enlightened ground, it was determined that 
both the elements should be administered in the communion, 
and on this subject Luther composed a treatise at this time ; 
but that they should not be received with the hand : that 
private confession should or should not be resorted to at the 
discretion of the individual, but that regard should be had to 
the fitness of those admitted to be communicants ; and that, 
for the present, the Latin service for the mass should still be 
used, with the omission of the words in which it was designated 
as a sacrifice : and that the private mass should be altogether 
abrogated. Such images as had been untouched were to be 
left standing : and to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays was 
put on the same footing as private confession. Gabriel Zwil- 
ling was for a time suspended from preaching : but soon 
afterwards Luther was himself a petitioner in his behalf to 
Spalatin ; and towards the close of April recommended him 
as preacher to the Town Council of Altenburg, who had 
apphed to him to send them a man learned in the Scriptures : 
and, on opposition being offered by the canons of that town 
to his appointment, the Reformer pleaded his cause himself 
with Frederic. Carlstadt, who had intruded himself into the 
pulpit of the parish church without any sufficient call — for 
Luther could not recognize a right to preach without a call 
from the congregation — was gravely admonished of his error ; 
and a treatise of Carlstadt^s already in the press was prohibited 
from publication by the University, but without any request 

* Eanke and D'Aubigne both regard Luther as modifying his 
teaching at this time in insisting on the necessity of charity ; but it is 
easy to prove from his writings that his doctrine had always been the 
same, and he only advanced this or that section of it more prominently 
because circumstances demanded it. 


1522. to that effect or sanction of such proceeding on the part of 

Such was the quiet prevailing at Wittenberg after a length- 
ened storm, when Mark Stubner, and Nicolas, or Claus Stork, 
returned from their proselyting eff"orts in the neighbour- 
liood, to find their forces at head quarters completely put to 
the rout. Irritated beyond measure at the reverses which 
had befallen their doctrines in their absence, and elate with 
the dignity of being the inspired of Heaven, they demanded a 
conference with the Reformer, which Luther, who well knew 
the impatience of their temper, and the haughtiness of their 
ignorance, was unable to decline, however much disposed to 
do so. He therefore appointed a place, day, and hour, for 
the conference. The schoolmaster, Martin Mohr, or Cellarius, 
who had so warmly exulted in the proposed extinction of all 
learning, and had remained proof against the compunctions 
of common sense, which, under Luther's preaching, had re- 
visited the minds of most of those at first bewildered by fana- 
ticism, was the most vehement among the prophets, raged, 
roared, and foamed at the mouth, although uninvited to bear 
a part in the discussion. Stubner called on Luther to become 
a convert to the Zwickau creed ; and when answered that all 
which the prophets advanced was contrary to Scripture, de- 
clined to enter into argument, but renewed the demand of 

* In a letter of the 21st April to Spalatin, Luther says, " I implored 
Carlstadt in private not to publish anything against me, that I might 
not be compelled against my will to push against him horn to horn. 
He said that he had not written anything against me ; but his manu- 
script, which is in the hands of the Eector and University, tells a dif- 
ferent tale. They are soliciting him to retract or suppress his book, 
for which I am no advocate (quod non urgeo). I do not fear Satan or 
an angel from heaven, much less Carlstadt." Three days later he 
writes, "I hear the publication of Carlstadt's book is prohibited." — 
De Wette, II. pp. 184, 185. 


implicit credence. Luther then required that, as their doc- 1522. 
trine was not only beyond Scripture, but against it, they 
should at least prove its truth by miracles — the credentials 
which God had always committed to those whom he had 
entrusted with an express revelation. The prophets were 
at a nonplus for an answer; they could not uphold their 
pretensions by argument, and they could not work mira- 
cles; but they still insisted, that their assurances of Divine 
inspiration should be cred'ted on their own authority, and 
loudly asserted that the time would come when Luther 
would be compelled to credit them. Mohr stamped on the 
ground, and beat the table with his fists, like a frantic 
man. Yet, although they could lay no claim to any sen- 
sible miracle, they pretended to be gifted with prophetical 
power; and Stubner warned Luther that he was informed, 
that at the very moment the Reformer was expressing 
his incredulity, a secret emotion was disposing him to yield 
assent to their doctrines. Luther was silent for a while, 
and then exclaimed, " The Lord rebuke thee, Satan," 
A burst of enthusiasm now transported the prophets, and 
they shouted with one accord — "The Spirit, the Spirit." 
*' I slap your spirit on the snout," responded Luther. 
The conference ended by Luther's threatening " their 
God not to presume on working miracles in opposition to 
the will of his God." This meeting decided the downfal 
of the Zwickau fanatics at Wittenberg ; and that very day, 
the prophets in a body abandoned the scene of their former 
triumphs, and anathematized Luther in a letter addressed to 
him from Kemberg.''^ 

This period forms an epoch in the history of the Reforma- 
tion and Luther's life. He had previously been sounding the 

* Camerar, Vita Melancthon, pp. 43 — 53. Seckend. I. p. 193. 


1522. general mind, and instituting enquiries rather than answering 
them ; but from this period he no longer spoke as a searcher 
after trutli, but as one who had found it, and was authorita- 
tively commissioned to be its herald to the world. He still 
wore his monk's cowl and frock, and from his convent cell, 
as the centre, a vast religious movement spread on all sides, 
seized everywhere like a flame on the popular mind, and far 
beyond the limits of Germany, was met by repulsion or sym- 
pathy in the court and the cottage. 

In the latter part of March, and the month of April, he 
composed his treatise " On partaking of the Sacrament in 
both Kinds and other Changes," intended for the German 
nation, and especially the converts to the Zwickau doctrines, 
as his sermons had been necessarily addressed to his Witten- 
berg flock, or auditors from the immediate neighbom'hood. 
After Easter Sunday, which fell on the 20th April, had 
passed, he set out on a missionary tour through the towns and 
villages where he understood these fanatical tenets were most 
prevalent. To prevent the ire of Duke George from making 
him its victim, he was obliged to resort to a new disguise, and 
wore the dress of a countryman, but his monk's frock and 
hood were concealed in his waggon, and he put them on as 
often as he had occasion to address the people. In this tour 
he entered Zwickau itself; and from the balcony of the town 
haU addressed many thousands of the populace, who had con- 
gregated in the market-place, from Schneeberg, Annaberg, 
and all the towns in the vicinity. Without a rival in the art 
of popular addresses, from his happy union of original thought 
with the most simple and expressive language, his words fell 
on his vast audience with a telling power which seemed to 
promise the speedy return of common sense and Christian 
love. He passed also through Erfurth and Eulenberg, and 
was welcomed in Eidenberg Castle, and returned to Witten- 


berg before the 6th May, with spirits greatly cheered by the 1522. 
reception everywhere given to his exhortations to peace and 
brotherly forbearance. After his return he addressed an 
epistle to the evangelical Church of Ei'furth, which shows the 
spirit by which he was actuated in this controversy. " Would/' 
he said, "that the saints and ourselves might be forgotten, 
Moses and Elias vanish, and neither Abraham nor Israel 
know us any more, but only Christ crucified fill the heart." 
But he recommended the greatest indulgence to the weak, 
abstinence from all violence and vehemence, and reliance on 
the Word alone. " Christ Jesus," he said, in a private letter, 
" must remain alone on Mount Tabor; " and in proof that the 
only point that needed to be insisted upon was the utter use- 
lessness of images, he observed, that, vmder this conviction, 
all mention of the saints had insensibly been omitted from his 
own prayers, and he now implored Christ and God the Father 

The subject to which his utmost attention was next devoted 
was his translation of the New Testament. The whole had 
been translated by him in the Wartburg ; but the work re- 
quired revision, and he went through it all verse by verse 
with Melancthon, making use of his friend's great philo- 
logical attainments in explanation of difiScult words or sin- 
gular constructions, and then with his own mastership of the 
German tongue rendering each passage in its exact sense. 
Wherever aid could be procured for this great work it was at 
once enlisted. Spalatin was consulted on the names, colours, 
and general appearance of the precious stones mentioned in 
Rev. xxi., and by the Elector's kindness a box of specimens 
was forwarded to Wittenberg. On the subject of the coins 
of the ancients Melancthon made use of the treatise of the 
French scholar Budseus, but consulted also his friend Came- 
rarius, George Opercus, and other learned men. The work 

VOL. I. B B 


1522. proceeded rapidly. Before tlic 14th April the Gospel of St. John 
had been printed and despatched to Spalatin^ who was in at- 
tendance on the Elector at Nuremberg. By the 4th July 
St. Mark and the Epistle to the Romans were likewise for- 
warded to the Court. And by the 21st September the whole 
of the New Testament in German was in print, and could be 
purchased at the moderate sum of a florin and a half. The 
healing streams of the fountain of life flowed freely amongst a 
grateful people. As early as December a new edition was 
called for. Before eleven years had elapsed seventeen editions 
had issued from the Wittenberg presses alone, besides a much 
larger issue in other towns of this work, at once the seal of the 
Reformation's success and the earnest of its increasing 

But whilst the German version of the New Testament was 
passing through the press, Luther's indefatigable energy had 
already begun the still more arduous task of translating the 
whole of the Old Testament from the Hebrew original. As 
this labour advanced, he exclaimed, " If any man think him- 
self learned, let him attempt to translate the Bible, and he 
will find out his mistake." The translation was published 
piecemeal, and each portion or book was rapidly printed ofi". 
A fragment of the translation was forwarded to Spalatin as 
early as the 10th May ; and before the end of the year the 
whole of the five books of Moses had been completed. But 
with all the ardour which such a work, in the infancy of the 
Reformation, called into exercise, the immensity of the task 
of necessity occupied many years before an entire edition of 
the sacred volume in German could be forthcoming. 

No source of information, however humble, was neglected 
in the endeavour to give Germany as perfect a version as 
possible of the Old Testament. Before November Luther 
had translated as far as Leviticus, and whilst engaged in that 


book was often to be seen at the stalls of the butchers in the 1522. 
town, examining the division of the carcases of oxen and 
sheep, and learning the technical names of the various parts. 
On the subject of birds, beasts, and reptiles, on which he 
found the Vulgate even more than usually unsatisfactory, he 
consulted Spalatin, who it seems had some acquaintance with 
natural history. The industry and research which Luther 
expended on the German version of the Word of God was in 
marked contrast to the fluency and rapidity with which he 
threw off the, as he thought, valueless compositions of his 
own pen. Often one Hebrew word occupied a laborious con- 
sideration of three or four weeks. And as long as he lived 
the correction and improvement of his version of the Scrip- 
tures, by which, as his true monument, he desired that his 
name should be remembered with posterity, was a daily and 
unceasing study. 

And this may be the most appropriate place to mention the 
means which he adopted for this important end. When the 
translation of the whole Bible had issued from the press, 
necessarily very imperfect from the difficulty of the work and 
the haste of the execution, he organized a synod or sanhedrim 
of learned men, whose suggestions might be of value for its 
amendment and more complete finish. This synod was com- 
posed of Bugenhagen, Jonas, Melancthon, Craciger, Auro- 
gallus, and George E-orer, of which last the office was to note 
down the corrections agreed upon. They met once every 
week before supper in the Augustine convent; and if any 
learned man from another university should happen to be on 
a visit to Wittenberg, he was invited to the conference. 
Luther brought to the conclave his old Latin Bible and his 
German version with the Hebrew text interleaved ; Melanc- 
thon the Septuagint version; Cruciger the Hebrew and 
Chaldee texts; Bugenhagen his "well-thumbed" Latin 

B B 2 


1522. Bible. The Targums and the interpretations of tlie Jewish 
Rabbis were also consulted. The portion to be considered 
was stated beforehand, and, in the interval of the meetings, 
each studied it in private. When they Avere met, their 
opinions on the passage or topic under consideration were 
asked in rotation, and each, without interruption, delivered 
himself of the knowledge on the subject with which his re- 
searches in the interval or his previous learning had furnished 
him. But when the true meaning of the Hebrew original, as 
far as was possible, had thus been elicited, the task of clothing 
it in the most befitting German devolved on Luther alone. 
Acquainted with all that had been written in his own lan- 
guage, well read in the national poetry from its earliest bards 
to his own time, he had peculiar talents for this office ; and 
his rule was to choose the shortest, simplest, and most familiar 
words and phrases, never forgetting that his translation was 
to be the poor man's Bible. And it is a high praise, however 
subordinate to the thanks which all posterity owe him for 
being the first to translate the Scriptures into a modern tongue 
from the original text, that, by his prose writings, and yet 
more by the purity of his German Bible, he fixed the standard 
of his own language, and became the father of German litera- 
ture as well as the father of the Protestant Churches. The 
anniversary of the day on which the German version of the 
Scriptures had been completed was solemnly kept in Bugen- 
hagen's house, and was spent in united prayer and songs of 
thanksgiving to God. 

Next to the Bible itself, Luther valued the Aimotations of 
his "dear Philip'' on the sacred text; but his encomiums 
could not overcome Melancthon's diffidence of his own merits. 
Not only was Philip ever willing that the publication of his 
works should be retarded until the Wittenberg presses had 
given Luther's, as they were successively written, to the 


world; but it was with extreme reluctance that he would 1522. 
suffer some of his writings, on which others set a high value, 
to appear in print. His Commentaries on the Epistles to the 
Romans and Corinthians he absolutely refused to publish. So 
Luther abstracted them from his closet^ and sent them to the 
press, prefixing a preface, addressed to Melancthon himself, to 
the following effect: — " ' Be angry, and sin not ; commune with 
thyself upon thy bed, and be still.' It is I who have published 
your Annotations, and send yourself a present to yourself. If 
you are not pleased it is well ; but it is enough that we are 
pleased. The sin is yours, if there is any sin at all ; for why 
did not you publish them ? But I am willing to be called a 
thief, and neither fear your complaints nor accusations. To 
those who you may suspect will turn up their noses, I answer, 
' Do you write something better.' I claim for you what the 
impious ' Thomists ' falsely arrogate to their Thomas, that 
there was never a better commentator on St. Paul. What 
does it matter if those famous men and giants deride my 
judgment. The risk is my own. I shall next steal your 
Commentaries on Genesis and the Gospels of Matthew and 
John, if you are not beforehand with me. You say Scripture 
should be read alone without commentaries. This is very 
true of Jerome, Origen, and Aquinas; but your Annotations 
are not so much a commentary as an index to the study of 
Scripture and the gaining a knowledge of Christ." 

In addition to his philological labours, his writings, preach- 
ings, and lecturings, "the care of all the Churches" which 
had welcomed the truth devolved upon Luther, and this was 
every day becoming a more onerous office. As the religious 
movement quickened at Wittenberg, its influences were felt 
more and more strongly throughout the rest of Germany, 
and beyond its limits. Paul von Spretten proclaimed the 
Gospel in Augsburg, Wurzburg, Salzburg, and Vienna, and 


1522. continued his evangelizing route till he arrived at Iglau iu 
Moravia, where he found a society of Christians who had 
long existed in separate communion from Kome, and held 
articles of faith in harmony with those Avhich Luther had 
proclaimed in Northern Germany with such power. Through 
Spretten these Bohemian brethren were brought into direct 
contact with Luther himself, and consulted him on the con- 
dition of their Church, and on disputed points of faith and 
ceremony, particularly on the adoration of the Host. Luther 
answered, that " neither is the adoration nor the non-adora- 
tion of the Host a sin, for faith adored not the bread and 
wine, but Him whose body and blood the bread and wine 
contained.^^ And, in a letter to Spretten, marked by a total 
absence of dogmatism, and a sharp stricture on idle curiosity 
in religion, he asserted, on the subject of the Eucharist, 
the doctrine of " concomitancy,*' that is, of " consubstan- 
tiation ; " but he added, " the Sacrament itself is not abso- 
lutely necessary, faith and charity are absolutely necessary : 
it is only faith that consecrates the elements." Luther 
examined the ambassadors from the Bohemian bretlii'en as to 
the actual doctrines of their Church, and found them sound 
in all essentials, although their tenets were expressed in a 
phraseology which he designated as '' obscure and barbarous, 
not being derived from Scripture." He found their faith 
correct on the Eucharist and on Baptism : they baptized 
infants, but " attributed no efficacy to infant baptism," which 
probably means that they did not believe in baptismal rege- 
neration; they rebaptized those who joined their communion; 
and, like the Romanists, held seven sacraments. But it filled 
Luther's heart with sorrow to learn that there were some 
amongst the Bohemians who meditated submitting themselves 
to the Roman Chuich, in order to put an end to the various 
sects which divided and distracted them ; and he despatched. 


by the ambassadors, an epistle to the Bohemian estates, 1522. 
earnestly dissuading them from giving their sanction to such 
scandalous degeneracy. " The times had been/^ he said, ''when 
he had abhorred the name of Bohemian, but he had since 
learnt that the Pope is Antichrist, and now no one was more 
frequently reviled with the taunt of Bohemian than himself j 
and he trusted ere very long the Bohemians and the Germans 
would have one faith and one name. It was true the apostle 
forbade sects and schism; but these flourished most under 
the Papacy. The mendicants were split into several orders, 
all hating one another ; and the Franciscan order itself was 
split into divisions; and it was only by divisions that the 
Pope kept his throne. There was but one road to unity — the 
pure Gospel and one Christ. And to be reconciled to Rome 
would be the same as to imbrue their hands in the blood of 
their own martyrs, Huss and Jerome, to abjure Christ the 
Lord, and become children of perdition.'^ And he implored 
them to stand fast '' in that opposition to the devil in which 
they had hitherto persisted to the death, and not to bring 
contumely on the reviving faith of the Gospel.^' Thus, as 
Huss had been by his writings an instrument in Luther's en- 
lightenment, the German Reformer repaid the benefit by 
building up in their martyr's faith the spiritual children of 

It was not only, however, to the land of Huss that Lutheran 
missionaries travelled, circulating Luther's tracts, and pro- 
claiming the Gospel, but the land of Wycliffe also was the 
scene of similar exertions. The evangelical tenets were fast 
spreading in England, where Lollardism, far from dying out, 
had always been vigorously maintained among the lower or- 
ders, and had been rather increased than diminished by the 
sanguinary cruelty of the clergy, when the " Babylonian Cap- 
tivity " found its way to the English court, and fell into the 


1522. hands of Henry VITI. himself. The King read a little way 
in the book, and then thrust it from him with the exclamation 
that it was " most pestilent heresy." He caused Luther's 
writings to be placed under ban throughout his dominions ; 
and, on the 12th May, 1521, Wolsey, the Lord Chancellor, 
by royal command proceeded in state to St. Paul's, and com- 
mitted the publications of the Wittenberg monk to the flames 
in presence of a large confluence of spectators. He was not 
however content with this ; but, eager to show his learning as 
well as his zeal, composed a treatise in answer to the " Baby- 
lonian Captivity," which he entitled " A Defence of the Seven 
Sacraments, against Martin Luther, by the most invincible 
King of England and France, Lord of Ireland, Henry the 
eighth of that name ; " and had it presented by his ambas 
sador John Clarke, Dean of Windsor, to the Pontiff" in full 
consistory, who received it, as he said, with as much approba- 
tion " as if it were a treatise of St. Augustine or St. Jerome." 
And in a bull, dated the 10th October, 1521, the title of 
" Defender of the Faith " was conferred upon the royal 
author."^ The book, from the rank of its writer, excited a 
great deal of notice. " It was written," says Collier, " as it 
were with the sceptre." Treating the poor monk, as a king 
might treat a beggar. King Henry seemed to imagine the 
contest was one of relative station rather than of relative un- 
derstanding, and that a farrago of school divinity quoted by 
one of the first monarchs of Europe must be for ever decisive 
on the merits of the controversy. 

There is no allusion to this royal treatise in Luther's cor- 
respondence until the summer of 1522, when, in a letter to 
Lange, he says, inverting the fable of the ass in the lion's 
skin, "There is a mighty talk about a book of the King of 

* See Herbert, p. 95. kc. 


England : I suspect that the skin conceals a Lee (leo) ; " for 1522. 
general report averred that Edward Lee, Henry's chaplain, 
had had a large share in the composition. But, on reading 
the treatise, his indignation was kindled by the tone of scorn 
assumed by the haughty monarch, and as the book "was 
magnified by the clergy as the most learned work that ever 
the sun saw," and its authority was quoted to deter men from 
embracing the evangelical doctrines, he resolved to answer it, 
and expose its folly, and thereby " greatly provoke Satan." 
True, Henry was a king, and Luther revered the kingly power, 
but then he was not Luther's sovereign ; and the insolence of 
his language, only exceeded by the ignorance of his arguments, 
appeared to him an insult from a crowned piece of dust to the 
King of Heaven. It was to no purpose that the councillors of 
the Elector and the immediate friends of the Reformer laboured 
to prevent any reply whatever, or at least to mitigate his 
violence, by representing that Henry had only advanced the 
worn-out plea of human authority. He answered the protes- 
tations against any bitterness in writing by citing the words 
of Christ, of Peter, and of Paul, who had termed the Jews " a 
generation of vipers, murderers, children of the devil, and 
fools," and convinced that softness of speech was out of place, 
indeed had been used far too long, he bent his sarcastic and 
argumentative powers to break the pride of the vain-glorious 
monarch. His idea was, that, with the back stroke of his 
pen, Henry had pushed the crown from off his head, and he 
now intended to supply him with a more befitting head-gear. 
" The King of England had given an ell or two of coarse 
cloth, which Lee had cut out and made up into a fool's cap and 
lined ; and it was now his intention to give the whole a good 
brushing and to put on the bells." He dedicated his answer 
to the Bohemian Count of Passun, a partisan of the Reforma- 
tion, whose domains lay on the Bohemian and German con- 


1522. fines, in allusion to the royal taunt that he was a Bohemian, 
and would soon fly to the Bohemians : a taunt which '^ before 
God was a glorj^/' and which he accepted as a prediction that 
his doctrines would find a general welcome from that noble 
people. " Not,^^ he added, " that I approve everything in the 
Bohemian Church, for I am ignorant of much respecting it, 
and I hear that it is split into sects ; but, compared with it, 
the Papist rabble are stench and rottenness throughout the 

The whole text of the King of England, Luther said in his 
reply, was replete with the traditions of men, the glosses of 
the Fathers, and the customs of ages. " The Fathers, the 
Fathers ; customs, customs ; statutes, statutes," such was the 
Papists^ cuckoo cry. He should ever respond " The Gospel, 
the Gospel, Christ, Christ." King Henry, arrogant with his 
new divinity, imagined whatever he said must needs be be- 
cause he said it. He fought with his hay and stubble against 
the rock of God's Word. Insanity itself was not so mad, 
and stupidity itself not so gross. A mass of rottenness and 
a worm of the dust dared to forge lies against the King of 
Heaven : and therefore it must be lawful to befoul the majesty 
of England with his own mud and dung, and trample on a 
crown which lifted itself in blasphemy against Christ. The 
Thomist monarch charged him with contradictions, but 
whatever he had at any time written in favour of Rome, he 
would now revoke plenarily and totally : and whereas he had 
said, " The Papacy is a vigorous hunt led by the Roman 
Bishop," he would substitute for it this sentence, "The 
Papacy is the most pestilent abomination of King Satan which 
ever has been, or ever shall be, under the whole heaven." 
Such a learned and terrible Thomist as King Henry should 
extort from him so much by way of revocation. The English 
monarch accused him of acerbity of language, as if waggon 


loads of virulent contumely were the true mode of reforming 1522. 
acrimony of language in another. But he had been too 
gentle towards the Papist monsters in the hope of their re- 
pentance : henceforth he should feel convinced he never could 
suj[ficiently provoke such stolid blocks, such gross asses, such 
bloated hogs. But to come to argument, first generally then 
specially, after the pattern of Aristotle, the Thoraist's god. 
All King Henry's wisdom lay in the force of " So I think,'' 
like the reasoners in the schools who on a premiss in their 
syllogism being denied, have nothing for it but to repeat, 
" Nevertheless, so I think." " Custom," the King said, 
''established an article of faith against the plain text of the 
Gospel," a stretch beyond even Thomist absurdity; and a 
more direct blasphemy than Satan himself could be charged 
with. If the Thomist Samsons could allege nothing in behalf 
of their opinions but cvistom and antiquity, the faith of the 
Turks was more ancient than the conversion of Germany to 
Christianity, and ought to be embraced by the Germans in- 
stead of the Gospel. The Church was built, not on the 
custom or saying of any saint, not on John the Baptist, or 
Elias, or Jeremiah, or Isaiah, or any of the prophets, but on 
the only sure foundation, Christ the Son of God. The saints 
were but fallible men. God's "Word alone was unmixed 
truth. He then advanced to particulars, restricting his ob- 
servations to one of the Sacraments, the Eucharist. " King 
Henry had said that to administer the Sacrament in one kind 
only was within the power of the Church as much as to cele- 
brate the communion in the morning instead of the evening, 
when Christ instituted it, or to mix water with the wine with- 
out any scriptural warrant. But where was the parallelism ? 
Because customs were introduced without any scriptural 
warrant, did it follow that therefore a custom might be in- 
troduced in the teeth of the express letter of Scripture ? The 


1522. King liad built the doctrine of transubstantiation on the 
text, ' This is my body/ not * With this/ or ' In this is my 
body/ But the words of Scripture were, ' He took bread, 
blessed and brake it, and said. This is my body,^ i.e., This 
bread is ray body, for the ' this ' evidently meant that which 
was the subject of the taking, blessing, and breaking, viz., the 
bread. But the King required him to demonstrate that the 
elements are not transubstantiated. The stupid Thomist, to 
require him to prove a negative ! But he would ask Henry to 
explain the following passages : ' The bread which we break, is 
it not the communion of the body of Christ ? ' and ' Whosoever 
eateth this bread and drinketh this cup,' &c. The Apostle 
did not say this body. Again, to overthrow his assertion that 
the mass is not a good work or a sacrifice, the only argument 
which the King's stolid brain could devise was, that if it were 
not, the laity would never give their wealth to the clergy for 
celebrating it. So that it depended on the judgment of 
the laity and the verdict of money whether the mass was in- 
deed a good work and a sacrifice ! No harlot made a boast of 
her shame with more effrontery than this most impudent king 
made a boast of the covetousness and impositions of the 
clergy. The king asserted, without the least proof of his 
words, that the priests in the mass did not only what Christ 
did at supper, but what Christ did also upon the cross ! To 
which he would answer, that nothing could be plainer, than 
that the priests not only did not what Christ did at supper, but 
that they did what the Jews did to Christ upon the cross : for 
to pervert and extinguish God's Word is the same as to crucify 
the Son of God. The mass was simply a testamentary pro- 
mise, it could not therefore be a sacrifice; it was received 
and eaten, it could not* therefore be offered : for amongst the 
Jews the portion offered in sacrifice was never eaten but 
burnt. He needed not King Henry's instructions as to what 


Ambrose, Augustine, or tlie Councils affirmed ; he denied 1522, 
their authority, and therefore to adduce their opinions as de- 
cisive was, in true Thomist fashion, to write a book beside 
the point altogether — ' a begging of the question "* from 
first to last." 

This answer as much astonished as it exasperated the English 
Court. Henry, however, did not again venture into the arena 
of controversy, but left his defence to others. The venerable 
Bishop of Rochester, not more respectable as a man than viru- 
lent as a Papist, doomed himself to fall a victim to that perse- 
cuting spirit which he now recommended, published in reply 
his denunciation of Luther as a pestilent heretic ; and, quoting 
the words of Solomon's Song,* " Take us, the foxes, the little 
foxes, that spoil the vines ;" " this," he said, " is a warning to 
seize heretics ere they grow big ; but this Luther is a large, 
old, wily, and mischievous fox, and it is hard to catch him ; 
nay, he is a mad dog, a hungry wolf, a fierce she-bear." Sir 
Thomas More, also destined, like Bishop Fisher, by the retri- 
butive justice of Heaven, to lose his life by that very cruelty 
and self-conceit of his monarch, which he was now fostering, 
grasped the pen, and accused " the tippler Luther " of ribaldry 
and coarseness in a writing crammed so full of them both, as 
quite to outdo in that respect even the object of his censure. 
Henry's own retaliatory eff'orts were confined to forwarding 
letters to Duke George and the Elector of Saxony, represent- 
ing the doctrines of Luther as subversive of the priesthood, 
the Papacy, and royalty itself, and calling on them to extin- 
guish his accursed sect. Duke George, not altogether dissi- 
milar from Henry in character, and who, like the king of 
England, having been intended for holy orders, had enjoyed 
a better education than was usual with princes in that age, 

* Canticles, ii. 15. 


1522. heartily sympathised with the aggrieved monarch, and made 
Luther's treatment of royalty an express matter of complaint 
against him to the Council of Regency. With Frederic, the 
expostulations of Henry VIII. produced no farther effect 
than to lead him to regret more strongly than ever the acer- 
bity of the Reformer's controversial writings. 

And, on this occasion^ Spalatin was directed to express to 
Luther in decided terms the displeasure and annoyance which 
the acrimony of his tone had occasioned the Elector. But 
Luther was by no means in the mood to plead guilty to an 
accusation dictated, as he believed, by the motive of worldly 
fear. He had previously been much grieved by the removal 
of Gabriel Z willing from his office of preacher at Altenburg, 
after he had renounced his fanatical errors, and yet more by 
the maintenance of the mass by the Elector's command in 
many churches and chantries, and by the continuance of the 
" Bethaven of All Saints " in all its unprofitable splendour. 
He therefore turned sharply round on the Saxon court and 
its chaplain, and read them a plain lecture. " Do not falsely 
imagine," he wrote to Spalatin, " that God will be mocked. 
He will not be mocked by a court, however deeply versed in 
the arts of hypocrisy. And you, too, what are you doing at 
the court, you, a preacher of the Gospel ? Why do you not 
warn the wicked of his wicked way, and deliver your own soul, 
as Ezekiel bids you ? I know with what powerful words you 
courtiers are for ever declaiming against my bitterness of 
language ; but is it not much better to exasperate impiety and 
to give offence to many than to sooth and flatter sin and cling 
to a false peace ? Why thunder your censures against a hum- 
ble delinquent and pass over the errors of your Prince ? This 
is to have respect of persons, and to disown Christ." His 
friends, also, at Wittenberg, expostulated with him on the 
extreme severity of his reply to the royal treatise, to whom he 


answered, that " If his enemies, such excellent Christians as 1522. 
they thought themselves, were so vituperative, what could 
be expected from him, whom they called a vile heretic ? He 
had reasons for acting as he had done; they could not be 
known now, but they would be known hereafter." But 
everywhere amongst the common people the boldness with 
which Luther had chastised the ignorance of regal pride 
rather increased than detracted from his popularity, and ere 
long events showed that he was far from having declined in 
the esteem of the German nobility. 

The Diet had met at Nuremberg early in the spring, being 
summoned to enter upon its vocation with all convenient 
despatch, on account of the progress of Sultan Soliman, who 
had made himself master of Belgrade, and had spread con- 
sternation through the adjoining provinces. This invasion of 
the Ottomans was very opportune for Luther's security, for it 
swallowed up for the time every other question, and after 
providing for the expenses of the war, and regulating those 
points of internal administration which the great rise in the 
price of commodities and other circumstances rendered neces- 
sary, the Diet broke up its session, and deferred the consider- 
ation of religious dissensions until the autumn. But the 
Council of Regency continued sitting, and before this per- 
manent executive board the furious Duke George of Saxony 
hastened to bring his complaints of the rapid growth and 
fanatical tendency of the Lutheran tenets. The disturbances 
at Wittenberg and elsewhere lent a ready handle to these 
allegations, so that he succeeded in obtaining an order from 
the Council that the Bishops of Naumburg, Meissen, and 
Merseburg should visit the suspected districts, and use their 
endeavours to repress the rage for innovation and maintain the 
ancient rites and usages of the Church. In conformity with 
this order an episcopal visitation was commenced through the 


1522. Saxon Electorate, the rite of confirmation was administered, 
and sermons were preached to the people. Luther's attention 
was directed to these proceedings, and he wrote to Hausraan, 
the pastor of Zwickau, to inform him on the true meaning of 
confirmation, which " has no sacramental character belonging 
to it whatever." " When the episcopal puppet comes to you," 
he said, " question him closely on the articles of his faith, for 
they are twice babes in faith and in the knowledge of Christ." 
But whatever ill effect might be likely to result from this epis- 
copal visitation, by inflaming the anti-papal spirit of the lower 
orders, was effectually obviated by Luther himself following 
in the track of the bishops over the field of their exertions. 
Towards the end of September he set out for Leysnick; in 
October he visited Weimar ; towards its close, and in the be- 
ginning of November, he was at Erfurth, where he preached in 
St. Michael's Church several times."^ Everywhere his powerful 
addresses gained a strong hold on the public mind, and in- 
structed his audience both in the principles of the Christian 
faith, and also in the duty of obedience to the civil magistrate, 
denouncing riot and the sword as auxiliaries of truth. Much 
gratified with the success of his labours, he returned home to 
shut himself up in his cell to finish with uninterrupted toil 
his translation of the Pentateuch before the end of the year; 
and, after achieving that task, he composed a treatise on " the 
degree of obedience due to the temporal power," f dedicated 
to Duke John, which was completed by the first day of the 
new year. 

* See Bret. II. p. 579. Melancthon relates that Luther got down 
from his waggon some distance from Erfurth, and entered the town on 
foot, to avoid the disagreeableness of a popular welcome. But, not- 
withstanding, in the evening, in the house of the cui*ate of St. Michael's 
Church, with whom he lodged, he was overwhelmed with a tumultuous 
crowd of visitors. 

t Von wcltlicher Oberheit, wie weit man, &c. 


In the course of the summer the Elector of Saxony took 1522. 
his departure for Nuremberg, and from the period of his 
arrival there every peril which had menaced the Reformer 
seemed dispelled. Frederic became the animating spirit of 
the Council of Regency ; and the favour with which the Coun- 
cil regarded Luther was quickly manifested by the evasive 
answer returned to the repeated complaints of Duke George, 
that " insults against the Pope and Emperor were resounding 
on all sides." And it cannot be questioned but recent events 
had thrown a lustre round the Reformer's name, which added 
materially to the popularity of his cause. He had appeared 
as a pacificator, when the smouldering heat of popular pas- 
sions was rising into flame, and the tide of fanaticism had 
threatened to overwhelm all the landmarks of civilization ; 
and it was difficult to decide, whether the self-devotedness 
with which he had quitted his retreat, and exposed himself to 
death from any hand that might raise itself against him, or 
the power of his influence, which, at his first word, had re- 
duced chaos into order, the more enhanced his renown in the 
estimation of the public. 

Leo X. was dead. The excess of his joy at the capture of 
Milan by the imperial forces had induced a fever, which had 
brought his pontificate to a sudden termination in November, 
1521. His successor was elected on the 9th January in the 
following year — Adrian of Utrecht, Cardinal of Tortosa, who 
now became Adrian VI. The recommendation of Adrian to 
St. Peter's chair had been the favour in which the Emperor 
held him as his tutor, and as having faithfully served him in 
the Low Countries and in Spain ; but he was a widely differ- 
ent person from Leo in his tastes and habits, an orthodox 
Dominican in his tenets, scrupulously conscientious and strict 
in his private morals, and full of the zeal of an inquisitor 
of heresy against every impugner of the infallible Church. 



1522. Leaving his peaceful and pious Deanery at Louvain with 
regret, Adrian repaired to Rome in the August of 1522, con- 
soUng himself for the sacrifice which he had made of a 
secluded and studious life by the hope of accomplishing the 
resolution he had strenuously formed, to reform the debauched 
manners of the Roman Court, amend the morals of the clergy, 
and correct the multifarious abuses of the whole ecclesiastical 
system. He appointed Chieregati to represent him at the 
Diet, and wrote a letter to the Elector of Saxony, dated the 
5th October, imploring him to discountenance all heresy, and 
" after the example of his ancestors, to consult the dignitj'- of 
the Apostolic See, the safety and tranquillity of the whole 
Christian world, and to protect the holy faith." Frederic's 
reply, written by Melancthon, denied that he had ever es- 
poused or defended Luther's cause, but required that the 
monk should be refuted by Scripture, as every other argu- 
ment must be unavailing, and expressed his sincere desire 
for the establishment of God's truth, and the maintenance of 
the public peace. Proceeding with great zeal in the path on 
which he had entered, on the 25th November Adrian addressed 
a brief to the " Estates of the Sacred Roman Empire assem- 
bled at Nuremberg," summoning them to the defence of the 
Catholic faith, and reminding them that " the Omnipotent 
God had caused the earth to open and swallow up the schis- 
matics Dathan and Abiram ; that Peter, the Prince of Apostles, 
had struck Ananias and Sapphira with sudden death for lying 
against God ; that pious Emperors of old time had removed 
the heretics Jovinian and Priscillian by the temporal sword ; 
that St. Jerome had determined that the heretic Vigilantius 
should be delivered to destruction of the flesh, that his soul 
might be saved ; that their own ancestors had put John Huss 
and Jerome of Prague to death, who now seemed risen from 
the dead in Martin Luther." But on entering Germany 



Chieregati found that Pope Adrian's missive had been die- 1522. 
tated in entire ignorance of all that was passing in the hearts 
of the people to whose rulers it was addressed. As he raised 
his two fingers, after the usual manner, as a Cardinal of the 
Church, to hless the wayfarers, the populace, instead of bow- 
ing with humility to receive the apostolical benediction, imi- 
tated his gestures, or pointed the finger in ridicule at the 
Nuncio and his mule. When he reached Nuremberg, he 
found that free city all Lutheran. The chapel of the 
Hospital, the churches of the Augustines, resounded with 
the eloquence of scriptural truth, drunk in with eager ears 
by the toAvn-people who thronged tliem. And when he made 
this liberty of preaching a subject of strong complaint to the 
Diet, and the Archduke Ferdinand and the Elector of Bran- 
denburg aided his remonstrances, the former saying, that " he 
was there in the place of his brother the Emperor,'' he found 
that the bold reply of Planitz, the Saxon envoy, was received 
with signal approval, — " Your Highness is representative of the 
Emperor, only in conjunction with the Council of Regency, 
and under the laws of the Empire." And such ineffectual 
efforts to check the freedom of religious teaching only in- 
creased the boldness of the Lutheran preachers ; for the town 
council of Nuremberg publicly declared their resolution to 
uphold the rights of their free city, and, if force should be 
used against the preachers, to repel force by force. And 
when Chieregati intimated his intention of apprehending the 
preachers by his own authority, in the Pontiff's name, the 
Archbishop of Mentz and others, in consternation at the idea 
of a popular insurrection, replied that the attempt to execute 
such a project would be the signal for them to leave the city 
without a moment's delay. 

The instructions of Adrian to his Nuncio required him to 


1522. make two important demands of the Diet : firsts the execu- 
tion of the Edict of Worms ; and secondly, the establishment 
of an episcopal censorship. And to render the Diet the more 
disposed to accede to these demands, the Pope, with a well- 
intentioned candour, which Cardinal Soderini, and such mem- 
bers of the sacred college as knew the world well, and the 
Roman court still better, regarded as childish imbecility, pro- 
fessed his resolution to eflFect a universal reform of the 
Church. " We know," he said, " that for several years cer- 
tain vices have crept into the Roman chair, abuses in reli- 
gion, violations of law, in fine, perversion in everything : and 
the corruption has spread from the head to the members, 
from the Pontiff to the clergy. We are resolved to reform 
the Court of Rome ; the whole world calls for it." The 
papal party blushed to have thus an acknowledgment under 
the Pontift's own hand and seal, that the Lutheran com- 
plaints of ecclesiastical excesses and iniquities were the strict 
and patent truth. The fountain once unsealed, the waters 
welled out without check or hinderance. Noble after noble 
rose in the Diet ; and, taking the Pontiff's confession as his 
text, illustrated its truth and force by enumerating the vari- 
ous injuries or insults which he had to charge against the 
Holy See : and the result of the intense indignation thus ex- 
cited and kept alive, was the famous Centum Gravamina, a 
befitting chapter to the pontifical preface, a document which 
throws great light on the practices of the Roman Church, 
and a standing evidence of the imperative necessity for a 
thorough reformation. And it was stated that, " if prompt 
redress were not accorded, it would become the duty of the 
States to deliberate on some decisive method of putting a 
period to such flagrant wrongs." 

Tn reference to the answer to be returned to the Nuncio's 


demands, a committee was appointed to draw up a Report to 1522. 
be submitted to the Diet. The most influential member of 
this committee was John von Schwarzenberg, the Hofmeister 
of Bamberg, a man of great ability, and a decided Lutheran. 
The Report accordingly placed in its foremost paragraph the 
Pontiff's own admission of grievous abuses extending through- 
out the whole ecclesiastical economy, and his promise to 
rectify such an unhappy state of things. Under such cir- 
cumstances, it alleged that the execution of the Edict of 
Worms was an impossibility; instead of crushing heresy, 
such an attempt would only extend and perpetuate it, and 
would have the worst effect on the people, by inciting them to 
resist authority. It required the Pope to abolish annates, 
to carry out the concordats, and to remove grievances. For 
the extinction of schism, it demanded a General Council, 
to meet within the term of one year, in a neutral town, 
wherein not only members of the clergy, but also of the 
laity, should have a seat and voice, with full liberty of frank 
discussion on " godly, evangelical, and other generally profit- 
able afiairs." If these requirements were granted, the papal 
party were given to understand that Luther and his adhe- 
rents would refrain from disturbing the public repose in the 
interval. With overflowing joy, on the 13th January, Planitz 1523. 
forwarded this Report to the Elector of Saxony. 

This Report was sanctioned by the Diet, with a few imma- 
terial alterations, such as omission of the words which spoke 
of corruptions pervading all orders in the Church, and the 
omission of the word " evangelical,'' on the vehement objec- 
tion of the Archbishop of Mentz. The discussion was now 
transferred to the conduct to be observed by the antagonist 
religious parties, in the interim, before the Council : and the 
Papists succeeded in carrying the vote that Luther and his 
associates should be interdicted from printing and publishing 


1523. any writings,* and from everytliing calculated to interrupt 
the public peace. It remained to be determined what preach- 
ing should be tolerated from the pulpit. The Papists con- 
tended that the four Latin Fathers, Jerome, Augustine^ 
Ambrose, and Gregory, should be constituted the doctrinal 
standard conjointly with Scripture : the Lutherans insisted 
that Scripture alone should be made the rule of faith and 
teaching. At length a decision on the subject was agreed to, 
M'hich satisfied both parties by the ambiguity of its language, 
that *' nothing should be taught excepting the true, pure, 
sincere, and holy Gospel, and approved writings, piously, 
charitably, and christianly, according to the doctrine and 
exposition of writings approved and received by the Christian 
Church." And on the 6th March the Recess of the Diet was 
drawn up and published to this effect. 

When this Recess was published, it became evident to the 
whole of Germany, and not least to those Papist members of 
the Diet, who had given their sanction to it, that a decided 
and momentous victory had been gained by the evangelical 
side. Luther himself at once recognised in it the superin- 
tending hand of Divine Providence, and was filled with joy 
and thankfulness. Throughout Germany, hearts yearning, 
like his own, for religious freedom, exulted in it as an earnest 
of the more complete triumph of their cause. And beyond 
Germany notes of congratulation from fellow Christians strug- 
gling against Rome greeted the success of their German bre- 
thren, "The Pope," Zwingle wrote, "has been routed, and 
almost clean expelled from Germany." On the other hand, 
the Nuncio made no secret of his disappointment and vexa- 
tion ; he renewed his demands for the execution of the Edict 

* The Saxon envoy, however, protested that " his Prince could not 
consider himself bound by this prohibition, but should always know 
how to act in a Christian, praiseworthy, and irreproachable manner." 


of Worms, and the establishment of an episcopal censorship; 1523. 
but the Diet directed his attention to the Centum Gravamina^ 
'"' which must be transmitted to his Holiness, and the fulfil- 
ment of his promise awaited.^' 

Disappointed and chagrined, his own concessions turned 
into a weapon against him, Adrian directed his bitter wrath 
against the man to whom he imputed the defeat of his ortho- 
dox vengeance. He wrote a letter to the Elector of Saxony, 
in which he charged him with having " nourished the serpent 
in his bosom, who stained heaven and earth with his venom. It 
was due to the Elector that the churches were without con- 
gregations ; the people without priests ; the priests without 
reverence ; and Christians without Christ. That faith was 
being abandoned which had been sucked in with the mother's 
milk. So silly and senseless had the Elector been as to be- 
lieve one pigmy of humanity, covered with sins, rather than 
many renowned fathers of the Church, and so many uni- 
versal councils. The Bible was a sealed book, which only 
the Lion of the tribe of Judah could open, and loose the 
seals thereof; and could he suppose that one carnal man, 
belching out wine and drunkenness, had more understand- 
ing in God^s Word than so many spiritual fathers ? Lu- 
ther was continually inciting the laity to wash their hands 
in the blood of the priests. He taught that no satisfaction 
for sin was to be rendered to God ; that fastings, prayers, 
and lamentations, were no redemption of guilt ; that the 
body and blood of Jesus Christ ought not daily to be of- 
fered in sacrifice ; that vows were not binding. He polluted 
the sacred utensils of God^s house ; he restored to the world, 
or rather to the devil, the virgins espoused to Christ; he 
united the priests of Christ to harlots ; he derided the saints ; 
and with foul mouth contradicted the Councils ; under pre- 
text of liberty he was labouring to introduce a licentious life. 


1523. resembling that of the brutes ; he branded not only the friars 
and priests^ but even the successor of Peter, the vicar of 
Jesus Christ on earth, with names so impious and infamous, 
with contumelies, reproaches, and blasphemies so monstrous, 
that the modest tongue could not utter them, or a chaste ear 
bear the recital. He called that chair in which Peter the 
head of the Apostles had sat, whence sacerdotal unity had 
sprung, the seat of Antichrist; the Universities he called 
brothels, Sodoms and Gomorralis. It was true that there 
were bad and wicked priests. But was any one exempted from 
honouring his parents, if they were wicked ? Did not Christ 
command — ' The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses^ seat : 
all, therefore, which they bid you, that observe and do.' 
But now, the temples and monasteries were burnt and pro- 
faned ; the virgins dedicated to Christ, the priests and the 
monks, were cruelly persecuted, and the goods of the churches 
plundered; rapine, highway robbery, murder, conflagration 
produced universal confusion. O son, beloved in Christ, by 
the bowels of our E,edeemer, by Christian unity, by the love of 
your country, by your hope of salvation, we implore you, pity 
your country, which, once sincerely submissive to the yoke of 
the Lord, now instead of blushing as it ought, boasts that 
Martin, the public enemy of faith and piety, is sprung from 
her bowels. Think of Dathan and Abiram, and of Corah ; how 
Uzziah was struck with leprosy, because he ventured on the 
priest's office. Does not all history show that those have 
perished by the avenging hand of God by a miserable end, 
who have laid sacrilegious hands on the Lord's Christ ; whilst 
prosperity and a long life have been the lot of those who have 
venerated Christ in his priests ? " The letter concluded in 
fiercer accents. " Let it be your first business to see that 
that impure mouth be closed, that blasphemous tongue 
bridled ; and if you will do this, as the angels in heaven 


rejoice over one sinner that repentetli, so we will carry you as 1523. 
the lost sheep found again, to the fold of the Lord with rejoic- 
ing. But if you disregard our paternal and wholesome admo- 
nition, we tell you in the name of God and of Jesus Christ — 
whose vicar on earth we are— that in this present world your 
crime shall not go unpunished, and hereafter eternal flames 
await you. The Pope Adrian, and the most religious Empe- 
ror Charles, his dearest son in Christ and pupil, whose edict 
against Luther you have dared to set at nought, are alive in 
the same age. Those whom the Pope Adrian, with Charles 
the Great, begot in the faith — the Pope Adrian, with the Em- 
peror Charles, will not suffer to perish by the contagion of 
schism and heresy. Therefore, repent and return to your 
sober senses, you and your deluded Saxons, unless you would 
feel the sword of the Pope and the sword of the Emperor." 

As he read such words, the peaceable Elector Frederic — 
who, when told that he might seize and possess himself of 
the town of Erfurth with the loss of only five men, had 
replied, " The loss of otie would be too much," — felt his breast 
glow with indignation, and anticipated the period when he 
might be called upon to defend with the sword his rights 
as an Elector of the Empire, and the cause of Christ. He 
therefore referred the Pope's brief to the consideration of the 
Apostles of the Reformation, and requested their judgment on 
the lawfulness of waging war in behalf of the Gospel in resist- 
ance to the Emperor. Luther, Link, Melancthon, Bugen- 
hagen, and Amsdorf, met in conclave, and agreed vmanimously 
upon the reply to be returned to -this question. They an- 
swered that, first, a prince, in undertaking war, must be 
satisfied in his conscience that his cause was just : secondly, 
that he could only undertake war with the consent of his 
people, who had delegated to him his authority, and whom it 
was unjust to load with taxes ; but that the people could not 

D O 


1523. desire a war in defence of the Gospel, for they had no faith. 
Melancthon added as his private opinion that, thirdly, when 
the Jewish kings made war for God, it was by an express 
divine command; Christians, on the other hand, must not 
defend themselves or require others to defend them, but 
cheerfully pour out their lives for Christ. 

Such an answer sufficiently marks that a great epoch had 
been reached in the progress of the Reformation. The link 
between Saxony and the Papacy had at last been torn asunder 
by the Pontiflf himself: Lutheranism was beginning to take its 
stand as a recognised religious system ; it had refused in its de- 
fence carnal weapons, and sought refuge with God only; and the 
public sympathy with the evangelical cause had been declared 
by the Nuremberg Recess. Casting his eyes around, Luther 
beheld on every side the marvellous growth and extension, 
unparalleled save in the earliest history of Christianity, of 
those scriptural principles in vindication of which he had 
nailed his famous Theses to the door of the Castle Church. 
In Sweden, under Gustavus Eric, in Norway and in Denmark, 
under Frederic of Holstein, the evangelical religion was be- 
coming the national faith : along the Baltic and the North 
Seas, from Pomerania to the Netherlands, and inland from 
Hamburg to Vienna, the popular creed was Lutheran : in 
Switzerland a similar movement was daily gaining ground : 
and the seed had been wafted to other lands, which already 
afforded proofs that it could not remain without fruit. Such 
effects in a less space of time than six years showed the finger 
of God. And, so far, the progress of truth had been attended 
by no disaster. The attempts, public or private, to fetter its 
career, had added to its impetus : and even the efforts of 
fanaticism seemed to have been overruled for good, and to 
have enhanced the influence of the great Reformer. 

Such is the outline which history gives of the achievements 


of the Reformation at this period. Its prospects were so 1523. 
bright that, from the analogy of the past, it might fairly have 
been anticipated by a contemporary observer, that at no 
great distance of time the Roman faith would no longer exist, 
and the revived truths of Scripture would be professed by all 
Europe. But Luther himself was far from being thus misled 
by outside appearances. He was too deeply conversant with 
human nature, and looked below the surface to the under- 
current of motives. Hating, like Erasmus, all war, and be- 
lieving that, in a Christian point of view, scarcely any circum- 
stances can justify it, he had seen, with undissembled sorrow, 
the schemes of Hutten and the warlike party ripen into 
action, and Sickengen, with his adherents, enter the terri- 
tories of the Archbishop of Treves, and invest his capital, 
nominallj'^ for the sake of vindicating the liberty of religious 
teaching,"^ but in reality to carry into execution his political 
designs. But this was, in Luther's apprehension, only the 
little cloud arising "like a man's hand" which foreboded 
still greater troubles. He foresaw that a terrible collision 
must soon ensue, of the angry passions of the multitude, 
using their spiritual professions to cloak their carnal ends, 
with the cruelty and tyranny of many princes and nobles, 
who were driving from their boundaries, or imprisoning, the 
evangelical preachers, and had interdicted the circulation of 
the New Testament. Since leaving the Wartburg, admo- 
nitions to peace had rarely been absent from his lips. With 
his love for playing on words, he told his Wittenberg congre- 
gation, that the name of their Elector, Frederic, meant peace- 
able, and answered to Solomon in the Hebrew, who had been 
a type of the Prince of Peace. Peace seemed to him the 

* So Bucer wrote to Zwingle. See his letter, Zuing. Op. (Edit. 
Sculthess.) VII. p. 296. 


1523. greatest blessing next to the Gospel of Christ. But he com- 
plained that the reproclamation of that Gospel had chiefly 
served to stir from its depths the wickedness of the human 
heart ; that the people were willing enough to cease to be 
Papists, but very unwilling to become Christians ; and with 
fear and trembling he besought on his knees God's pity and 
compassion for his country, on which he predicted that the 
vials of the Divine wrath would soon be poured out. 

















The life of Martin Luther 

Princeton Theological Seminary-Speer Library 

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