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Respecting The Reformation Of The Christian Estate
(Part III)

     25. The universities also require a good, sound reformation. I must say
this, let it vex whom it may. The fact is that whatever the papacy has ordered
or instituted is only designed for the propagation of sin and error. What
are the universities, as at present ordered, but, as the book of Maccabees
says, "schools of 'Greek fashion' and 'heathenish manners" (2 Macc. iv. 12,
13), full of dissolute living, where very little is taught of the Holy
Scriptures of the Christian faith, and the blind heathen teacher, Aristotle,
rules even further than Christ? Now, my advice would be that the books of
Aristotle, the Physics, the Metaphysics, Of the Soul, Ethics, which have
hitherto been considered the best, be altogether abolished, with all others
that profess to treat of nature, though nothing can be learned from them,
either of natural or of spiritual things. Besides, no one has been able to
understand his meaning, and much time has been wasted and many noble souls
vexed with much useless labour, study, and expense. I venture to say that any
potter has more knowledge of natural things than is to be found in these
books. My heart is grieved to see how many of the best Christians this
accursed, proud, knavish heathen has fooled and led astray with his false
words. God sent him as a plague for our sins.

     Does not the wretched man in his best book, Of the Soul, teach that the
soul dies with the body, though many have tried to save him with vain words,
as if we had not the Holy Scriptures to teach us fully of all things of which
Aristotle had not the slightest perception? Yet this dead heathen has
conquered, and has hindered and almost suppressed the books of the living
God; so that, when I see all this misery I cannot but think that the evil
spirit has introduced this study.

     Then there is the Ethics, which is accounted one of the best, though no
book is more directly contrary to God's will and the Christian virtues. Oh
that such books could be kept out of the reach of all Christians! Let no one
object that I say too much, or speak without knowledge. My friend, I know of
what I speak. I know Aristotle as well as you or men like you. I have read
him with more understanding than St. Thomas or Scotus, which I may say without
arrogance, and can prove if need be. It matters not that so many great minds
have exercised themselves in these matters for many hundred years. Such
objections do not affect me as they might have done once, since it is plain
as day that many more errors have existed for many hundred years in the world
and the universities.

     I would, however, gladly consent that Aristotle's books of Logic,
Rhetoric, and Poetry, should be retained, or they might be usefully studied
in a condensed form, to practise young people in speaking and preaching; but
the notes and comments should be abolished, and, just as Cicero's Rhetoric
is read without note or comment, Aristotle's Logic should be read without
such long commentaries. But now neither speaking nor preaching is taught out
of them, and they are used only for disputation and toilsomeness. Besides
this, there are languages-Latin, Greek, and Hebrew-the mathematics, history;
which I recommend to men of higher understanding: and other matters, which
will come of themselves, if they seriously strive after reform. And truly it
is an important matter, for it concerns the teaching and training of
Christian youths and of our noble people, in whom Christianity still abides.
Therefore I think that pope and emperor could have no better task than the
reformation of the universities, just as there is nothing more devilishly
mischievous than an unreformed university.

     Physicians I would have to reform their own faculty; lawyers and
theologians I take under my charge, and say firstly that it would be right to
abolish the canon law entirely, from beginning to end, more especially the
decretals. We are taught quite sufficiently in the Bible how we ought to act;
all this study only prevents the study of the Scriptures, and for the most
part it is tainted with covetousness and pride. And even though there were
some good in it, it should nevertheless be destroyed, for the Pope, having the
canon law in scrinio pectoris, [34] all further study is useless and deceitful.
At the present time the canon law is not to be found in the books, but in the
whims of the Pope and his sycophants. You may have settled a matter in the
best possible way according to the canon law, but the Pope has his scrinium
pectoris, to which all law must bow in all the world. Now this scrinium is
oftentimes directed by some knave and the devil himself, whilst it boasts that
it is directed by the Holy Ghost. This is the way they treat Christ's poor
people, imposing many laws and keeping none, forcing others to keep them or to
free themselves by money.

[34: In the shrine of his heart.]

     Therefore, since the Pope and his followers have cancelled the whole
canon law, despising it and setting their own will above all the world, we
should follow them and reject the books. Why should we study them to no
purpose? We should never be able to know the Pope's caprice, which has now
become the canon law. Let it fall then in God's name, after having risen in
the devil's name. Let there be henceforth no doctor decretorum, but let them
all be doctores scrinii papalis, that is, the Pope's sycophants. They say that
there is no better temporal government than among the Turks, though they have
no canon nor civil law, but only their Koran; we must at least own that there
is no worse government than ours, with its canon and civil law, for no estate
lives according to the Scriptures, or even according to natural reason.

     The civil law, too, good God! what a wilderness it is become! It is,
indeed, much better, more skilful, and more honest than the canon law, of
which nothing is good but the name. Still there is far too much of it. Surely
good governors, in addition to the Holy Scriptures, would be law enough; as
St. Paul says, "Is it so that there is not a wise man among you, no, not one
that shall be able to judge between his brethren?" (I Cor. vi. 5). I think
also that the common law and the usage of the country should be preferred to
the law of the empire and that the law of the empire should only be used in
cases of necessity. And would to God, that, as each land has its own peculiar
character and nature, they could all be governed by their own simple laws,
just as they were governed before the law of the empire was devised, and as
many are governed even now! Elaborate and far-fetched laws are only burdensome
to the people, and a hindrance rather than a help to business. But I hope that
others have thought of this, and considered it to more purpose than I could.

[35: Luther refers here to the "Sentences" of Petrus Lombardus, the
so-called magister sententiarum, which formed the basis of all dogmatic
interpretation from about the middle of the twelfth century down to the

     Our worthy theologians have saved themselves much trouble and labour by
leaving the Bible alone and only reading the Sentences. [35] I should have
thought that young theologians might begin by studying the Sentences, and that
doctors should study the Bible. Now they invert this: the Bible is the first
thing they study; this ceases with the Bachelor's degree; the Sentences are
the last, and these they keep forever with the Doctor's degree, and this, too,
under such sacred obligation that one that is not a priest may read the Bible,
but a priest must read the Sentences; so that, as far as I can see, a married
man might be a doctor in the Bible, but not in the Sentences. How should we
prosper so long as we act so perversely, and degrade the Bible, the holy word
of God? Besides this, the Pope orders with many stringent words that his laws
be read and used in schools and courts; while the law of the Gospel is but
little considered. The result is that in schools and courts the Gospel lies
dusty underneath the benches, so that the Pope's mischievous laws may alone be
in force.

     Since then we hold the name and title of teachers of the Holy Scriptures,
we should verily be forced to act according to our title, and to teach the
Holy Scriptures and nothing else. Although, indeed, it is a proud,
presumptuous title for a man to proclaim himself teacher of the Scriptures,
still it could be suffered, if the works confirmed the title. But as it is,
under the rule of the Sentences, we find among theologians more human and
heathenish fallacies than true holy knowledge of the Scriptures. What then are
we to do? I know not, except to pray humbly to God to give us Doctors of
Theology. Doctors of Arts, of Medicine, of Law, of the Sentences, may be made
by popes, emperors, and the universities; but of this we may be certain: a
Doctor of the Holy Scriptures can be made by none but the Holy Ghost, as
Christ says, "They shall all be taught of God" (John vi. 45). Now the Holy
Ghost does not consider red caps or brown, or any other pomp, nor whether we
are young or old, layman or priest, monk or secular, virgin or married; nay,
He once spoke by an ass against the prophet that rode on it. Would to God we
were worthy of having such doctors given us, be they laymen or priests,
married or unmarried! But now they try to force the Holy Ghost to enter into
popes, bishops, or doctors, though there is no sign to show that He is in

     We must also lessen the number of theological books, and choose the best,
for it is not the number of books that makes the learned man, nor much
reading, but good books often read, however few, makes a man learned in the
Scriptures and pious. Even the Fathers should only be read for a short time as
an introduction to the Scriptures. As it is we read nothing else, and never
get from them into the Scriptures, as if one should be gazing at the signposts
and never follow the road. These good Fathers wished to lead us into the
Scriptures by their writings, whereas we lead ourselves out by them, though
the Scriptures are our vineyard, in which we should all work and exercise

     Above all, in schools of all kinds the chief and most common lesson
should be the Scriptures, and for young boys the Gospel; and would to God each
town had also a girls' school, in which girls might be taught the Gospel for
an hour daily, either in German or Latin! In truth, schools, monasteries, and
convents were founded for this purpose, and with good Christian intentions, as
we read concerning St. Agnes and other saints [36]; then were there holy
virgins and martyrs; and in those times it was well with Christendom; but now
it has been turned into nothing but praying and singing. Should not every
Christian be expected by his ninth or tenth year to know all the holy Gospels,
containing as they do his very name and life? A spinner or a seamstress
teaches her daughter her trade while she is young, but now even the most
learned prelates and bishops do not know the Gospel.

     Oh, how badly we treat all these poor young people that are entrusted to
us for discipline and instruction! and a heavy reckoning shall we have to give
for it that we keep them from the word of God; their fate is that described by
Jeremiah: "Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is
poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people,
because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They
say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded
in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers'
bosom" (Lam. ii. 11,12). We do not perceive all this misery, how the young
folk are being pitifully corrupted in the midst of Christendom, all for want
of the Gospel, which we should always read and study with them.

[36: See above, pp. 301, seq.]

     However, even if the high schools studied the Scriptures diligently we
should not send every one to them, as we do now, when nothing is considered
but numbers, and every man wishes to have a Doctor's title; we should only
send the aptest pupils, well prepared in the lower schools. This should be
seen to by princes or the magistrates of the towns, and they should take care
none but apt pupils be sent. But where the Holy Scriptures are not the rule,
I advise no one to send his child. Everything must perish where God's word is
not studied unceasingly; and so we see what manner of men there are now in
the high schools, and all this is the fault of no one but of the Pope, the
bishops, and the prelates, to whom the welfare of the young has been
entrusted. For the high schools should only train men of good understanding
in the Scriptures, who wish to become bishops and priests, and to stand at
our head against heretics and the devil and all the world. But where do we
find this? I greatly fear the high schools are nothing but great gates of
hell, unless they diligently study the Holy Scriptures and teach them to the
young people.

     26. I know well the Romish mob will object and loudly pretend that the
Pope took the holy Roman empire from the Greek emperor and gave it to Germany,
for which honour and favour he is supposed to deserve submission and thanks
and all other kinds of returns from the Germans. For this reason they will
perhaps assume to oppose all attempts to reform them, and will let no regard
be paid to anything but those donations of the Roman empire. This is also the
reason why they have so arbitrarily and proudly persecuted and oppressed many
good emperors, so that it were pity to tell, and with the same cleverness have
they made themselves lords of all the temporal power and authority, in
violation of the holy Gospel; and accordingly I must speak of this matter

     There is no doubt that the true Roman empire, of which the prophets (Num.
xxiv. 24 and Daniel ii. 44) spoke, was long ago destroyed, as Balaam clearly
foretold, saying, "And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall
afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever"
(Num. xxiv. 24). [37] And this was done by the Goths, and more especially since
the empire of the Turks was formed, about one thousand years ago, and so
gradually Asia and Africa were lost, and subsequently France, Spain, and
finally Venice arose, so that Rome retains no part of its former power.

[37: Luther here follows the Vulgate, translating the above verse:
"Es werden die Romer kommen und die Juden verstoren: und hernach werden sie
auch untergehen."]

     Since then the Pope could not force the Greeks and the emperor at
Constantinople, who is the hereditary Roman emperor, to obey his will, he
invented this device to rob him of his empire and title, and to give it to the
Germans, who were at that time strong and of good repute, in order that they
might take the power of the Roman empire and hold it of the Pope; and this is
what actually has happened. It was taken from the emperor at Constantinople,
and the name and title were given to us Germans, and therewith we became
subject to the Pope, and he has built up a new Roman empire on the Germans.
For the other empire, the original, came to an end long ago, as was said

     Thus the Roman see has got what it wished: Rome has been taken possession
of, and the German emperor driven out and bound by oaths not to dwell in Rome.
He is to be Roman emperor and nevertheless not to dwell in Rhme, and,
moreover, always to depend on the Pope and his followers, and to do their
will. We are to have the title, and they are to have the lands and the
cities. For they have always made our simplicity the tool of their pride and
tyranny, and they consider us as stupid Germans, to be deceived and fooled by
them as they choose.

     Well, for our Lord God it is a small thing to toss kingdoms and
principalities hither and thither; He is so free with them that He will
sometimes take a kingdom from a good man and give it to a knave, sometimes
through the treachery of false, wicked men, sometimes by inheritance, as we
read concerning Persia, Greece, and nearly all kingdoms; and Daniel says.
"Wisdom and might are His; and He changes the times and the seasons, and He
removeth kings and setteth up kings" (Dan. ii. 20, 21). Therefore no one need
think it a grand matter if he has a kingdom given to him, especially if he be
a Christian; and so we Germans need not be proud of having had a new Roman
empire given us. For in His eyes it is a poor gift, that He sometimes gives to
the least deserving, as Daniel says, "And all the inhabitants of the earth are
reputed as nothing; and He does according to His will in the army of heaven,
and among the inhabitants of the earth" (Dan. iv. 35).

     Now, although the Pope has violently and unjustly robbed the true emperor
of the Roman empire, or its name, and has given it to us Germans, yet it is
certain that God has used the Pope's wickedness to give the German nation this
empire and to raise up a new Roman empire, that exists now, after the fall of
the old empire. We gave the Pope no cause for this action, nor did we
understand his false aims and schemes; but still, through the craft and
knavery of the popes, we have, alas! all too dearly, paid the price of this
empire with incalculable bloodshed, with the loss of our liberty, with the
robbery of our wealth, especially of our churches and benefices, and with
unspeakable treachery and insult. We have the empire in name, but the Pope has
our wealth, our honour, our bodies, lives, and souls and all that we have.
This was the way to deceive the Germans, and to deceive them by shuffling.
What the popes wished was to become emperors; and as they could not do this,
they put themselves above the emperors.

     Since, then, we have received this empire through God's providence and
the schemes of evil men, without our fault, I would not advise that we should
give it up, but that we should govern it honestly, in the fear of God, so long
as He is pleased to let us hold it. For, as I have said, it is no matter to
Him how a kingdom is come by, but He will have it duly governed. If the popes
took it from others dishonestly, we at least did not come by it dishonestly.
It was given to us through evil men, under the will of God, to whom we have
more regard than the false intentions of the popes, who wished to be emperors
and more than emperors and to fool and mock us with the name.

     The King of Babylon obtained his kingdom by force and robbery; yet God
would have it governed by the holy princes Daniel, Ananias, Asarias, and
Misael. Much more then does He require this empire to be governed by the
Christian princes of Germany, though the Pope may have stolen, or robbed, or
newly fashioned it. It is all God's ordering, which came to pass before we
knew of it.

     Therefore the Pope and his followers have no reason to boast that they
did a great kindness to the German nation in giving them this Roman empire;
firstly, because they intended no good to us, in the matter, but only abused
our simplicity to strengthen their own power against the Roman emperor at
Constantinople, from whom, against God and justice, the Pope has taken what
he had no right to.

     Secondly, the Pope sought to give the empire, not to us, but to
himself, and to become lord over all our power, liberty, wealth, body and
soul, and through us over all the world, if God had not prevented it, as he
plainly says in his decretals, and has tried with many mischievous tricks in
the case of many German emperors. Thus we Germans have been taught in plain
German: whilst we expected to become lords, we have become the servants of
the most crafty tyrants; we have the name, title, and arms of the empire, but
the Pope has the treasure, authority, law, and freedom; thus, whilst the Pope
eats the kernel, he leaves us the empty shells to play with.

     Now may God help us (who, as I have said, assigned us this kingdom
through crafty tyrants, and charged us to govern it) to act according to our
name, title, and arms, and to secure our freedom, and thus let the Romans see
at last what we have received of God through them. If they boast that they
have given us an empire, well, be it so, by all means; then let the Pope give
up Rome, all he has of the empire, and free our country from his unbearable
taxes and robberies, and give back to us our liberty, authority, wealth,
honour, body, and soul, rendering to the empire those things that are the
empire's, so as to act in accordance with his words and pretences.

     But if he will not do this, what game is he playing with all his
falsehoods and pretences? Was it not enough to lead this great people by the
nose for so many hundred years? Because the Pope crowns or makes the Emperor,
it does not follow that he is above him; for the prophet, St. Samuel, anointed
and crowned King Saul and David, at God's command, and was yet subject to
them. And the prophet Nathan anointed King Solomon, and yet was not placed
over him; moreover, St. Elisha let one of his servants anoint King Jehu of
Israel, yet they obeyed him. And it has never yet happened in the whole world
that any one was above the king because he consecrated or crowned him, except
in the case of the Pope.

     Now he is himself crowned pope by three cardinals; yet they are subject
to him, and he is above them. Why, then, contrary to his own example and to
the doctrine and practice of the whole world and the Scriptures, should he
exalt himself above the temporal authorities, and the empire, for no other
reason than that he crowns, and consecrates the Emperor? It suffices that he
is above him in all divine matters-that is, in preaching, teaching, and the
ministration of the Sacrament-in which matters, however, every priest or
bishop is above all other men, just as St. Ambrose in his chair was above the
Emperor Theodosius, and the prophet Nathan above David, and Samuel above Saul.
Therefore let the German emperor be a true free emperor, and let not his
authority or his sword be overborne by these blind pretences of the Pope's
sycophants, as if they were to be exceptions, and be above the temporal sword
in all things.

     27. Let this be enough about the faults of the spiritual estate, though
many more might be found, if the matter were properly considered; we must now
consider the defects of the temporal estates. In the first place, we require
a general law and consent of the German nation against profusion and
extravagance in dress, which is the cause of so much poverty among the nobles
and the people. Surely God has given to us, as to other nations, enough wool,
fur, flax, and whatever else is required for the decent clothing of every
class; and it cannot be necessary to spend such enormous sums for silk,
velvet, cloth of gold, and all other kinds of outlandish stuff. I think that
even if the Pope did not rob us Germans with his unbearable taxes, we should
be robbed more than enough by these secret thieves, the dealers in silk and
velvet. As it is, we see that every man wishes to be every other man's equal,
and that this causes and increases pride and envy among us, as we deserve,
all which would cease, with many other misfortunes, if our self-will would
but let us be gratefully content with what God has given us.

     It is similarly necessary to diminish the use of spices, which is one of
the ships in which our gold is sent away from Germany. God's mercy has given
us more food, and that both precious and good, than is to be found in other
countries. I shall probably be accused of making foolish and impossible
suggestions, as if I wished to destroy the great business of commerce. But I
am only doing my part; if the community does not mend matters, every man
should do it himself. I do not see many good manners that have ever come into
a land through commerce, and therefore God let the people of Israel dwell
far from the sea and not carry on much trade.

     But without doubt the greatest misfortune of the Germans is buying on
usury. But for this, many a man would have to leave unbought his silk, velvet,
cloth of gold, spices, and all other luxuries. The system has not been in
force for more than one hundred years, and has already brought poverty,
misery, and destruction on almost all princes, foundations, cities, nobles,
and heirs. If it continues for another hundred years Germany will be left
without a farthing, and we shall be reduced to eating one another. The devil
invented this system, and the Pope has done an injury to the whole world by
sanctioning it.

     My request and my cry therefore is this: Let each man consider the
destruction of himself and his family, which is no longer at the door, but
has entered the house; and let emperors, princes, lords, and corporations
see to the condemnation and prohibition of this kind of trade, without
considering the opposition of the Pope and all his justice and injustice, nor
whether livings or endowments depend upon it. Better a single fief in a city
based on a freehold estate or honest interest, than a hundred based on usury;
yea, a single endowment on usury is worse and more grievous than twenty based
on freehold estate. Truly this usury is a sign and warning that the world
has been given over to the devil for its sins, and that we are losing our
spiritual and temporal welfare alike; yet we heed it not.

     Doubtless we should also find some bridle for the Fuggers and similar
companies. Is it possible that in a single man's lifetime such great wealth
should be collected together, if all were done rightly and according to God's
will? I am not skilled in accounts, but I do not understand how it is possible
for one hundred guilders to gain twenty in a year, or how one guilder can gain
another, and that not out of the soil, or by cattle, seeing that possessions
depend not on the wit of men, but on the blessing of God. I commend this to
those that are skilled in worldly affairs. I as a theologian blame nothing but
the evil appearance, of which St. Paul says, "Abstain from all appearance of
evil" (I Thess. v. 22). All I know is that it were much more godly to
encourage agriculture and lessen commerce; and that they do the best who,
according to the Scriptures, till the ground to get their living, as we are
all commanded in Adam: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake. . . . Thorns also
and thistles shall it bring forth to thee. . . . In the sweat of thy face
shalt thou eat bread" (Gen. iii. 17-19). There is still much ground that is
not ploughed or tilled.

     Then there is the excess in eating and drinking, for which we Germans
have an ill reputation in foreign countries, as our special vice, and which
has become so common, and gained so much the upper hand, that sermons avail
nothing. The loss of money caused by it is not the worst; but in its train
come murder, adultery, theft, blasphemy, and all vices. The temporal power
should do something to prevent it; otherwise it will come to pass, as Christ
foretold, that the last day shall come as a thief in the night, and shall find
them eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, planting and
building, buying and selling (Matt. xxiv. 38; Luke xvii. 26), just as things
go on now, and that so strongly that I apprehend lest the day of judgment be
at hand, even now when we least expect it.

     Lastly, is it not a terrible thing that we Christians should maintain
public brothels, though we all vow chastity in our baptism? I well know all
that can be said on this matter: that it is not peculiar to one nation, that
it would be difficult to demolish it, and that it is better thus than that
virgins, or married women, or honourable women should be dishonoured. But
should not the spiritual and temporal powers combine to find some means of
meeting these difficulties without any such heathen practice? If the people
of Israel existed without this scandal, why should not a Christian nation be
able to do so? How do so many towns and villages manage to exist without these
houses? Why should not great cities be able to do so?

     In all, however, that I have said above, my object has been to show how
much good temporal authority might do, and what should be the duty of all
authorities, so that every man might learn what a terrible thing it is to
rule and to have the chief place. What boots it though a ruler be in his own
person as holy as St. Peter, if he be not diligent to help his subjects in
these matters? His very authority will be his condemnation; for it is the
duty of those in authority to seek the good of their subjects. But if those
in authority considered how young people might be brought together in
marriage, the prospect of marriage would help every man and protect him from

     But as it is every man is induced to become a priest or a monk; and of
all these I am afraid not one in a hundred has any other motive but the wish
of getting a livelihood and the uncertainty of maintaining a family. Therefore
they begin by a dissolute life and sow their wild oats, (as they say), but I
fear they rather gather in a store of wild oats. [38] I hold the proverb to be
true, "Most men become monks and priests in desperation." That is why things
are as we see them.

[38: Luther uses the expression ausbuben in the sense of sich
austoben, viz., "to storm out one's passions," and then coins the word sich
einbuben, viz., "to storm in one's passions."]

     But in order that many sins may be prevented that are becoming too
common, I would honestly advise that no boy or girl be allowed to take the
vow of chastity or to enter a religious life before the age of thirty years.
For this requires a special grace, as St. Paul says. Therefore, unless God
specially urge any one to a religious life, he will do well to leave all vows
and devotions alone. I say further, If a man has so little faith in God as to
fear that he will be unable to maintain himself in the married state, and if
this fear is the only thing that makes him become a priest, then I implore
him, for his own soul's sake, not to become a priest, but rather to become a
peasant, or what he will. For if simple trust in God be necessary to ensure
temporal support, tenfold trust in God is necessary to live a religious life.
If you do not trust to God for your worldly food, how can you trust to Him
for your spiritual food? Alas! this unbelief and want of faith destroys all
things, and leads us into all misery, as we see among all conditions of men.

     Much might be said concerning all this misery. Young people have no one
to look after them, they are left to go on just as they like, and those in
authority are of no more use to them than if they did not exist, though this
should be the chief care of the Pope, of bishops, lords, and councils. They
wish to rule over everything, everywhere, and yet they are of no use. Oh,
what a rare sight, for these reasons, will a lord or ruler be in heaven,
though he might build a hundred churches to God and raise all the dead!

     But this may suffice for the present. For of what concerns the temporal
authority and the nobles I have, I think, said enough in my tract on Good
Works. For their lives and governments leave room enough for improvement; but
there is no comparison between spiritual and temporal abuses, as I have there
shown. I daresay I have sung a lofty strain, that I have proposed many things
that will be thought impossible, and attacked many points too sharply. But
what was I to do? I was bound to say this: if I had the power, this is what I
would do. I had rather incur the world's anger than God's; they cannot take
from me more than my life. I have hitherto made many offers of peace to my
adversaries; but, as I see, God has forced me through them to open my mouth
wider and wider, and, because they do not keep quiet, to give them enough
cause for speaking, barking, shouting, and writing. Well, then, I have another
song still to sing concerning them and Rome; if they wish to hear it, I will
sing it to them, and sing with all my might. Do you understand, my friend
Rome, what I mean?

     I have frequently offered to submit my writings for inquiry and
examination, but in vain, though I know, if I am in the right, I must be
condemned upon earth and justified by Christ alone in heaven. For all the
Scriptures teach us that the affairs of Christians and Christendom must be
judged by God alone; they have never yet been justified by men in this
world, but the opposition has always been too strong. My greatest care and
fear is lest my cause be not condemned by men, by which I should know for
certain that it does not please God. Therefore let them go freely to work,
pope, bishop, priest, monk, or doctor; they are the true people to persecute
the truth, as they have always done. May God grant us all a Christian
understanding, and especially to the Christian nobility of the German nation
true spiritual courage, to do what is best for our unhappy Church. Amen!

At Wittenberg, in the year 1520.