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To his most Serene and Mighty Imperial Majesty and to the Christian Nobility
of the German Nation.
Dr. Martinus Luther.

     The grace and might of God be with you, Most Serene Majesty, most
gracious, well-beloved gentlemen!

     It is not out of mere arrogance and perversity that I, an individual poor
man, have taken upon me to address your lordships. The distress and misery
that oppress all the Christian estates, more especially in Germany, have led
not only myself, but every one else, to cry aloud and to ask for help, and
have now forced me too to cry out and to ask if God would give His Spirit to
any one to reach a hand to His wretched people. Councils have often put
forward some remedy, but it has adroitly been frustrated, and the evils have
become worse, through the cunning of certain men. Their malice and wickedness
I will now, by the help of God, expose, so that, being known, they may
henceforth cease to be so obstructive and injurious. God has given us a young
and noble sovereign, [1] and by this has roused great hopes in many hearts; now
it is right that we too should do what we can, and make good use of time and

[1: Charles V. was at that time not quite twenty years of age.]

     The first thing that we must do is to consider the matter with great
earnestness, and, whatever we attempt, not to trust in our own strength and
wisdom alone, even if the power of all the world were ours; for God will not
endure that a good work should be begun trusting to our own strength and
wisdom. He destroys it; it is all useless, as we read in Psalm xxxiii., "There
is no king saved by the multitude of a host; a mighty man is not delivered by
much strength." And I fear it is for that reason that those beloved princes
the Emperors Frederick, the First and the Second, and many other German
emperors were, in former times, so piteously spurned and oppressed by the
popes, though they were feared by all the world. Perchance they trusted
rather in their own strength than in God; therefore they could not but fall;
and how would the sanguinary tyrant Julius II. have risen so high in our own
days but that, I fear, France, Germany, and Venice trusted to themselves? The
children of Benjamin slew forty-two thousand Israelites, for this reason: that
these trusted to their own strength (Judges xx., etc.).

     That such a thing may not happen to us and to our noble Emperor Charles,
we must remember that in this matter we wrestle not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph. vi. 12), who may
fill the world with war and bloodshed, but cannot themselves be overcome
thereby. We must renounce all confidence in our natural strength, and take the
matter in hand with humble trust in God; we must seek God's help with earnest
prayer, and have nothing before our eyes but the misery and wretchedness of
Christendom, irrespective of what punishment the wicked may deserve. If we do
not act thus, we may begin the game with great pomp; but when we are well in
it, the spirits of evil will make such confusion that the whole world will be
immersed in blood, and yet nothing be done. Therefore let us act in the fear
of God and prudently. The greater the might of the foe, the greater is the
misfortune, if we do not act in the fear of God and with humility. If popes
and Romanists have hitherto, with the devil's help, thrown kings into
confusion, they may still do so, if we attempt things with our own strength
and skill, without God's help.