TRANSLATED BY WILLIAM HAZLITT, Esq.
The Lutheran Publication Society
Typed by: Kathy Sewell email@example.com
June 1, 1997
This book is in the public domain
On Easter Sunday, 1544, Luther made an excellent sermon on the resurrection from the dead, out of the epistle appointed for that day, handling this sentence: "Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die." When Abraham intended to sacrifice his son, he believed that God out of the ashes would raise him again, and make him a father of children. The faith of Adam and of Eve preserved them, because they trusted and believed in the promised seed. For to him that believes everything is possible. The conception and birth of every human creature, proceeding out of a drop of blood, is no less a miracle and wonder-work of God, than that Adam was made out of a clod of earth, and Eve out of a fleshy rib. The world is full of such works of wonder, but we are blind, and cannot see them. The whole world is not able to create one member, no, not so much as a small leaf. The manner of the resurrection consists in these words: "Arise, come, stand up, appear, rejoice ye which dwell in the dust of the earth." I shall arise again and shall speak with you; this finger wherewith I point must come to me again; everything must come again; for it is written: "God will create a new heaven and a new earth, wherein righteousness shall dwell." It will be no arid waste, but a beautiful new earth, where all the just will dwell together. There will be no carnivorous beasts, or venomous creatures, for all such, like ourselves, will be relieved from the curse of sin, and will be to us as friendly as they were to Adam in Paradise. There will be little gods, with golden hair, shining like precious stones. The foliage of the trees, and the verdure of the grass, will have the brilliancy of emeralds; and we ourselves, delivered from our mundane subjection to gross appetites and necessities, shall have the same form as here, but infinitely more perfect. Our eyes will be radiant as the purest silver, and we shall be exempt from all sickness and tribulation. We shall behold the glorious Creator face to face; and then, what ineffable satisfaction will it be to find our relations and friends among the just! If we were all one here, we should have peace among ourselves, but God orders it otherwise, to the end we may yearn and sigh after the future paternal home, and become weary of this troublesome life. Now, if there be joy in the chosen, so must the highest sorrow and despair be in the damned.
The 7th of August, 1538, Luther discoursed concerning the life to come, and said: In my late sickness I lay very weak, and committed myself to God, when many things fell into my mind, concerning the everlasting life, what it is, what joys we there shall have, and I was convinced that everything shall be revealed, which through Christ is presented unto us, and is already ours, seeing we believe it. Here on earth we cannot know what the creation of the new world shall be, for we are not able to comprehend or understand the creation of this temporal world, or of its creatures, which are visible and corporal. The joys that are everlasting are beyond the comprehension of any human creature. As Isaiah says: "Ye shall be everlastingly joyful in glorious joy." But how comes it that we cannot believe God's Word, seeing that all things are accomplished which the Scripture speaks touching the resurrection of the dead? This proves original sin as the cause of it. The ungodly and damned at the last day shall be under the ground, but in some measure shall behold the great joys and glory of the chosen and saved, and thereby shall be so much the more pained and tormented.
Has our Lord God created this evanescent and temporal kingdom, the sky, and earth, and all that is therein, so fair; how much more fair and glorious will he, then, make yonder celestial everlasting kingdom!
When I lay sucking at my mother's breast, I had no notion how I should afterwards eat, drink, or live. Even so we on earth have no idea what the life to come will be.
I hold the gnashing of teeth of the damned to be an external pain following upon an evil conscience, that is, despair, when men see themselves abandoned by God.
I wish from my heart Zwinglius could be saved, but I fear the contrary; for Christ has said that those who deny him shall be damned. God's judgment is sure and certain, and we may safely pronounce it against all the ungodly, unless God reserve unto himself a peculiar privilege and dispensation. Even so, David from his heart wished that his son Absalom might be saved, when he said: "Absalom my son, Absalom my son;" yet he certainly believed that he was damned, and bewailed him, not only that he died corporally, but was also lost everlastingly; for he knew that he had died in rebellion, in incest, and that he had hunted his father out of the kingdom.
The Fathers made four sorts of hell. 1. The forefront, wherein they say, the patriarch's were until Christ descended into hell. 2. The feeling of pain, yet only temporal, as purgatory. 3. Where unbaptized children are, but feel no pain. 4. Where the damned are, which feel everlasting pain. This is the right hell; the other three are only human imaginings. In Popedom they sang an evil song: "Our sighs called upon thee, our pitiful lamentations sought thee," etc. This was not Christian-like, for the Gospel says: "They are in Abraham's bosom." Isaiah: "They go into their chambers;" and Ecclesiasticus: "The righteous is in the Lord's hand, let him die how he will, yea, although he be overtaken by death." What hell is, we know not; only this we know, that there is such a sure and certain place, as is written of the rich glutton, when Abraham said unto him: "There is a great space between you and us."
Ah! loving God, defer not thy coming. I await impatiently the day when the spring shall return, when day and night shall be of equal length, and when Aurora shall be clear and bright. One day will come a thick black cloud out of which will issue three flashes of lightning, and a clap of thunder will be heard, and in a moment, heaven and earth will be covered with confusion. The Lord be praised, who has taught us to sigh and yearn after that day. In Popedom they are all afraid thereof, as is testified by their hymn, Dies irae dies illa. I hope that day is not far off. Christ says: "At that time, ye shall scarcely find faith on the earth." If we make an account, we shall find, that we have the Gospel now only in a corner. Asia and Africa have it not, the Gospel is not preached in Europe, in Greece, Italy, Hungary, Spain, France, England, or in Poland. And this little corner where it is, Saxony, will not hinder the coming of the last day of judgment. The predictions of the apocalypse are accomplished already, as far as the white horse. The world cannot stand long, perhaps a hundred years at the outside.
When the Turk begins to decline, then the last day will be at hand, for then the testimony of the Scripture must be verified. The loving Lord will come, as the Scripture says: "For thus saith the Lord of Hosts, yet a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land: and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come." At the last there will be great alteration and commotion; and already there are great commotions among men. Never had the men of law so much occupation as now. There are vehement dissensions in our families and discord in the church.
About the time of Easter in April, when they least of all feared rain, Pharaoh was swallowed up in the Red Sea, and the nation of Israel delivered from Egypt. `Twas about the same time the world was created; at the same time the year is changed, and at the same time Christ rose again to renew the world. Perchance the last day will come about the same time. I am of the opinion it will be about Easter, when the year is finest and fairest, and early in the morning, at sunrise, as at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The elements will be gloomy with earthquakes and thunderings about an hour or little longer, and the secure people will say: "Pish, thou fool, hast thou never heard it thunder?"
The science of alchemy I like well, and, indeed, `tis the philosophy of the ancients. I like it not only for the profits it brings in melting metals, in decocting preparing, extracting, and distilling herbs, roots; I like it also for the sake of the allegory and secret signification, which is exceedingly fine, touching the resurrection of the dead at the last day. For, as in a furnace the fire extracts and separates from a substance the other portions, and carries upward the spirit, the life, the sap, the strength, while the unclean matter, the dregs, remain at the bottom, like a dead and worthless carcass; even so God, at the day of judgment, will separate all things through fire, the righteous from the ungodly. The Christians and righteous shall ascend upward into heaven, and there live everlastingly, but the wicked and the ungodly, as the dross and filth, shall remain in hell, and there be damned.
Allegories and spiritual significations, when applied to faith, and that seldom are laudable; but when they are drawn from the life and conversation, they are dangerous, and, when men make too many of them pervert the doctrine of faith. Allegories are fine ornaments, but not of proof. We are not lightly to make use of them, except the principal cause be first sufficiently proved, with strong grounds and arguments, as with St Paul in the fourth chapter to Galatians. The body is the logic, but allegory the rhetoric; now rhetoric, which adorns and enlarges a thing with words, is of no value without logic, which roundly and briefly comprehends a matter. When with rhetoric men will make many words, without ground, it is but a trimmed thing, a carved idol.
An allegory is when a thing is signified and understood otherwise than as the words express. Of all languages, none is so rich in allegories as the Hebrew. The German tongue is full of metaphors, as when we say: He hangs the clock according to the wind: - Katherine von Borna is the morning star of Wittenbert, and so on. These are metaphors, that is, figurative words. Allegories are, as when Christ commands that one should wash another's feet, of baptizing, of the Sabbath, etc.
We must not hold and understand allegories as they sound; as what Daniel says, concerning the beast with ten horns; this we must understand to be spoken of the Roman empire. Even so, circumcision in the New Testament is an allegory, but in the Old testament it is no allegory. The New Testament frames allegories out of the Old, as it makes two nations out of Abraham's sons.
The legend of St George has a fine spiritual signification, concerning temporal government and policy. The virgin signifies the policy; she is vexed and persecuted by the dragon, the devil, who goes about to devour her; now he plagues her with hunger and dearth, then with pestilence, now with wars, till at length a good prince or potentate comes, who helps and delivers her, and restores her again to her right.
To play with allegories in Christian doctrine, is dangerous. The words, now and then, sound well and smoothly, but they are to no purpose. They serve well for such preachers that have not studied much, who know not rightly how to expound the histories and texts, whose leather is too short, and will not stretch. These resort to allegories, wherein nothing is taught certainly on which a man may build; therefore, we should accustom ourselves to remain by the clear and pure text. Philip Melancthon asked Luther what the allegory and hidden signification was, that the eagle, during the time he broods and sits upon the eggs, hunts not abroad; and that he keeps but one young thrusting any others out of the nest. Likewise, why the ravens nourish not their young, but forsake them when they are yet bare, and without feathers? Luther answered: "The eagle signifies a monarch, who alone will have the government and suffer none besides himself to be his equal. The ravens are the harsh and hard-hearted swine and belly-gods, the papists."
The allegory of a sophist is always screwed; it crouches and bows itself like a snake, which is never straight, whether she go, creep, or lie still; only when she is dead, she is straight enough.
When I was a monk, I was much versed in spiritual significations and allegories. `Twas all art with me; but afterwards, when through the epistle to the Romans, I had come a little to the knowledge of Christ, I saw that all allegories wee vain, except those of Christ. Before that time I turned everything into allegory, even the lowest wants of our nature. But afterwards I reflected upon historical facts. I saw how difficult a matter it was for Gideon to have fought the enemy, in the manner shown by the Scripture; there was no allegory there or spiritual signification; the Holy Ghost simply says, that Faith only, with three hundred men, beat so great a multitude of enemies. St Jerome and Origen, God forgive them, were the cause that allegories were held in such esteem. But Origen altogether is not worth one word of Christ. Now I have shaken off all these follies, and my best art is to deliver the Scripture in the simple sense; therein is life, strength, and doctrine; all other methods are nothing but foolishness, let them shine how they will. `Twas thus Munzer troped with the third chapter of John: "Unless one be born again of water," and said: Water signifies tribulation; but St Augustine gave us the true rule, that figures and allegories prove nothing.
Few of the legends are pure; the legends of the martyrs are least corrupted, who proved their faith by the testimony of their blood. The legends of the hermits, who dwell in solitudes, are abominable, full of lying miracles and fooleries, touching moderation, chastity, and nurture. I hold in consideration the saints whose lives were not marked by any particular circumstances, who, in fact, lived like other people, and did not seek to make themselves noted.
In the legend of the virgin Tecla, who, as they say, was baptized by St Paul, `tis said: "she awakened in him carnal desire." Ah! loving Paul, thou hadst another manner of thorn in thy flesh than carnal. The friars, who live at their ease, and jollity, dream, according to their licentious cogitations, that St Paul was plagued with the same tribulations as themselves.
The legend of St Christopher is no history, but a fiction composed by the Greeks, a wise, learned, and imaginative people, in order to show what life that of a true Christian should be. They figure him a great, tall and strong man, who bears the child Jesus upon his shoulders, as the name Christopher indicates; but the child was heavy, so that he who carries him is constrained to bend under the burden. He traverses a raging and boisterous sea, the world, whose waves beat upon him, namely, tyrants, and factions, and the devil, who would fain bereave him of soul and life; but he supports himself by a great tree, as upon a staff; that is, God's Word. On the other side of the sea stands an old man, with a lantern, in which burns a candle; this means the writings of the prophets. Christopher directs his steps thither, and arrives safely on shore, that is, at everlasting life. At his side is a basket, containing fish and bread; this signifies that God will here on earth nourish the bodies of his Christians, amid the persecutions, crosses and misfortunes which they must endure, and will not suffer them to die of hunger, as the world would have them. `Tis a fine Christian poem, and so is the legend of St George; George, in the Greek, means a builder, that builds edifices justly and with regularity, and who resists and drives away the enemies that would assault and damage them.
`Tis one of the devil's proper plagues that we have no good legends of the saints, pure and true. Those we have are stuffed so full of lies, that, without heavy labor, they cannot be corrected. The legend of St Catherine is contrary to all the Roman history; for Maxentius was drowned in the Tiber at Rome, and never came to Alexandria, but Maximian had been there, as we read in Eusebius, and after the time of Jusius Caesar there had been no king in Egypt. He that disturbed Christians with such lies, was doubtless a desperate wretch, who surely has been plunged deep in hell. Such monstrosities did we believe in popedom, but then we understood them not. Give God thanks, ye that are freed and delivered from them and from still more ungodly things.
My advice is that the sees of the protestant bishops be permitted to remain, for the profit and use of poor students and schools; and when a bishop, dean, or provost, cannot, or will not preach himself, then he shall, at his own charge, maintain other students and scholars, and permit them to study and preach. But when potentates and princes take spiritual livings to themselves, and will famish poor students and scholars, then the parishes of necessity must be wasted, as is the case already, for we can get neither ministers nor deacons. The pope, although he be our mortal enemy, must maintain us, yet against his will, and for which he has no thanks.
These times are evil, in that the church is so spoiled and robbed by the princes and potentates; they give nothing, but take and steal. In former times they gave liberally to her, now they rob her. The church is more torn and tattered than a begger's cloak; nothing is added to the stipends of the poor servants of the church. They who bestow them to the right use are persecuted, it going with them as with St Lawrence, who, against the emperor's command, divided the church livings among the poor.
The benefices under popedom are unworthy that Christian use should be made of them, for they are the wages of strumpets, as the prophet says, and shall return to such again. The pope is fooled, in that he suffers the emperor and other princes to take possession of spiritual livings, he hopes thereby to preserve his authority and power. For this reason he wrote to Henry of England, that he might take possession of spiritual livings; provided he, the pope, were acknowledged, by the king, chief bishop. For the pope thinks: I must now, in these times of trouble and danger, court the beast; I must yield in some things. Ah! how I rejoice that I have lived to see the pope humbled; he is now constrained to suffer his patrons, his protectors, and defenders, to take possession of church livings to preserve his power, but he stands like a tottering wall, about to be overthrown. How will it be with the monasteries and churches that are fallen down and decayed? They shall never be raised up again, and the prophecy will be fulfilled. Popedom has been and will be a prey. Twelve years since, the pope suffered one prince to take possession of divers bishoprics; afterwards, at the imperial diet at Augsburg, the prince was compelled to restore them; now the pope gives him them again: this prince and his retinue may well forsake the gospel, seeing the pope yields so much to him. `Tis a very strange time, and of which we little thought twenty years past, to see the pope, that grizzly idol, of whom all people stood in fear, now permitting princes to condemn and scorn him, him whom the emperor dared not, thirty years past, have touched with but one word.
`Tis quite fitting a poor student should have a spiritual living to maintain his study, so that he bind not himself with ungodly and unchristianlike vows, nor consent to hold communion with the errors of the papists. Ah, that we might have but the seventh part of the treasure of the church, to maintain poor students in the church. I am sorry our princes have such desire for bishoprics; I fear they will be their bane, and that they will lose what is their own.
Cannons and firearms are cruel and damnable machines. I believe them to have been the direct suggestion of the devil. Against the flying ball no valor avails; the soldier is dead, ere he sees the means of his destruction. If Adam had seen in a vision the horrible instruments his children were to invent, he would have died of grief.
War is one of the greatest plagues that can afflict humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge, in fact, is preferable to it. Famine and pestilence become as nothing in comparison with it. Pestilence is the least evil of the three, and `twas therefore David chose it, willing rather to fall into the hands of God than into those of pitiless man.
Some one asked, what was the difference between Samson the strong man, and Julius Caesar, or any other celebrated general, endowed at once with vigor of body and vigor of mind? Luther answered: Samson's strength was an effect of the Holy Ghost animating him, for the Holy Ghost enables those who serve God with obedience to accomplish great things. The strength and the grandeur of soul of the heathen was also an inspiration and work of God, but not of the kind which sanctifies. I often reflect with admiration upon Samson; mere human strength could never have done what he did.
How many fine actions of the old time have remained unknown, for want of an historian to record them. The Greeks and Romans alone possessed historians. Even of Livy, we have but a portion left to us; the rest is lost, destroyed. Sabellicus proposed to imitate and continue Livy, but he accomplished nothing.
Victories and good fortune, and ability in war, are given by God, as we find in Hannibal, that famous captain, who hunted the Romans thoroughly, driving them out of Africa, Sicily, Spain, France, and almost out of Italy. I am persuaded he was a surpassing valiant man; if he had but had a scribe to have written the history of his wars, we should, doubtless have known many great and glorious actions of his.
Great people and champions are special gifts of God, whom he gives and preserves: they do their work, and achieve great actions, not with vain imaginations, or cold and sleepy cogitations, but by motion of God. Even so `twas with the prophets, St Paul, and other excelling people, who accomplished their work by God's special grace. The Book of Judges also shows how God wrought great matters through one single person.
Every great champion is not fitted to govern; he that is a soldier, looks only after victories, how he may prevail, and keep the field; not after policy, how people and countries may be well governed. Yet Scipio, Hannibal, Alexander, Julius and Augustus Caesars looked also after government, and how good rule might be observed.
A valiant and brave soldier seeks rather to preserve one citizen than to destroy a thousand enemies, as Scipio the Roman said; therefore an upright soldier begins not a war lightly, or without urgent cause. True soldiers and captains make not many words, but when they speak, the deed is done.
They who take to force, give a great blow to the Gospel, and offend many people; they fish before the net, etc. The prophet Isaiah and St Paul say: "I will grind him (antichrist) to powder with the rod of my mouth, and will slay him with the spirit of my lips." With such weapons we must beat the pope. Popedom can neither be destroyed nor preserved by force; for it is built upon lies; it must therefore be turned upside down and destroyed with the word of truth. It is said: "Preach thou, I will give strength."
The question whether without offending God or our conscience, we may defend ourselves against the emperor, if he should seek to subjugate us, is rather one for lawyers, than for divines. If the emperor proceed to war upon us, he intends either to destroy our preaching, and our religion, or to invade and confound public policy and economy, that is to say, the temporal government and administration. In either case, `tis no longer as emperor of the Romans, legally elected we are to regard him but as a tyrant; `tis, therefore, futile to ask whether we may combat for the upright, pure doctrine, and for religion; `tis for us a law and a duty to combat for wife, for children, servants, and subjects; we are bound to defend them against maleficent power.
If I live I will write an admonition to all the states of the Christian world, concerning our forced defense; and will show that every one is obliged to defend him and his against wrongful power. First, the emperor is the head of body politic in the temporal kingdom, of which body every subject and private person is a piece and member, to whom the right of enforced defense appertains, as to a temporal and civil person; for if he defend not himself, he is a slayer of his own body.
Secondly, the emperor is not the only monarch or lord in Germany; but the princes electors are, together with him, temporal members of the empire, each of whom is charged and bound to take care of it; the duty of every prince is to further the good thereof, and to resist such as would injure and prejudice it. This is especially the duty of the leading head, the emperor. `Tis true, the princes electors, though of equal power with the emperor, are not of equal dignity and prerogative; but they and the other princes of the empire are bound to resist the emperor, in case he should undertake anything tending to the detriment of the empire, or which is against God and lawful right. Moreover if the emperor should preceed to depose any one of the princes electors, then he deposes them all, which neither should, nor can be committed.
Wherefore, before we formally answer this question, whether the emperor may depose the princes electors, or whether they may depose the emperor, we must first clearly thus distinguish: a Christian is composed of two kinds of persons, namely, a believing or a spiritual person, and a civil or temporal person. The believing or spiritual person ought to endure and suffer all things, it neither eats, nor drinks, nor engenders children, nor has share or part in temporal doings and matters. But the temporal and civil person is subject to the temporal rights and laws, and tied to obedience; it must maintain and defend itself, and what belongs to it, as the laws command. For example, if, in my presence, some wretch should attempt to do violence to my wife or my daughter, then I should lay aside my spiritual person, and recur to the temporal; I should slay him on the spot, or call for help. For, in the absence of the magistrates, and when they cannot be had, the law of the nation is in force, and permits us to call upon our neighbor for help; Christ and the Gospel do not abolish temporal rights and ordinacnes, but confirm them.
The emperor is not an absolute monarch, governing alone, and at his pleasure, but the princes electors are in equal power with him; he has, therefore, neither power nor authority alone to make laws and ordinacnes, much less has he power, right, or authority to draw the sword for the subjugation of the subjects and members of the empire, without the sanction of the law, or the knowledge and consent of the whole empire. Therefore, the emperor Otho did wisely in ordaining seven princes electors, who, with the emperor, should rule and govern the empire; but for this, it would not so long have stood and endured.
Lastly, we should know that when the emperor proposes to make war upon us, he does it not of and for himself, but for the interest of the pope, to whom he is liegeman, and whose tyranny and abominable idolatry he thus undertakes to maintain; for the pope regards the Gospel not at all, and in raising war against the Gospel, by means of the emperor, intends only to defend and preserve his authority, power, and tyranny. We must not, then, remain silent and inactive. But here one may object and say: Although David had been by God chosen king, and anointed by Samuel, yet he would not resist the emperor, etc. Answer: David, at that time, had but the promise of his kingdom; he had it not in possession; he was not yet settled in his government. In our case, we arm not against Saul, but against Absalom, against whom David made war, slaying the rebel by the hands of Joab.
I would willingly argue this matter at length, whether we may resist the emperor or no? though the jurisconsults, with their notions of temporal and natural rights, pronounce in the affirmative, for us divines `tis a question of grave difficulty, having regard to these passages: "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." And: "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also the froward." We must beware how we act against God's Word, lest, afterwards, in our consciences, we be plagued and tormented. But still, we are certain of one thing, that these times are not the times of the martyrs, when Diocletian reigned and raged against the Christians; `tis now another kind of kingdom and government. The emperor's authority and power, without the seven princes electors, is of no value. The lawyers write: the emperor has parted with the sword, and given it into our possession. He has over us but only gladium petitorium, he must seek it of us, when he proposes to punish, for of right he can do nothing alone. If his government were as that of Diocletian, we would readily yield unto him and suffer.
I hope the emperor will not make war upon us for the pope's sake; but should he play the part of an Arian, and openly fight against God's Word, not as a Christian, but as a heathen, we are not bound to submit and suffer. `Tis from the pope's side I take the sword, not from the emperor's; and the pope, `tis evident, ought to be neither master nor tyrant.
To sum up:--
First: the princes electors are not slaves.
Secondly: the emperor rules upon certain conditions.
Thirdly: He is sworn to the empire, to the princes electors, and other princes.
Fourthly: He has by oath bound himself unto them, to preserve the empire in its dignity, honor, royalty, and jurisdiction, and to defend every person in that which justly and rightly belongs to him; therefore, it is not to be tolerated that he should bring us into servitude and slavery.
Fifthly: We are entitled to the benefit of the laws.
Sixthly: He ought to yield to Christian laws and rights.
Seventhly: our princes by oath are bound to the empire, truly to maintain privileges and jurisdictions in public and temporal cases, and not to permit any of these to be taken away.
Eightly: these cases are among equals, where one is neither more nor higher than another; therefore, if the emperor with tyranny deals with others; for thereby he lays aside the person of a governor and loses his right over the subjects, by the nature of relatives; for princes and subjects are equally bound the one to the other, and a prince is clearly obliged to perform what he has sworn and promised, according to the proverb: Faithful master, faithful man.
Ninthly: the laws are above a prince and a tyrant; for the laws and ordinances are not wavering, but always sure and constant, while a human creature is wavering and inconstant, for the most part following his lusts and pleasures, if by the laws he be not restrained.
If a robber on the highway should fall upon me, truly I would be judge and prince myself, and would use my sword, because nobody was with me able to defend me; and I should think I had accomplished a good work; but if one fell upon me as a preacher for the Gospel's sake, then with folded hands I would lift up mine eyes to heaven, and say: "My Lord Christ! here I am; I have confessed and preached thee; is now my time expired? so I commit my spirit into thy hands," and in that way would I die.
Two doctors in the law came to Luther at Wittenberg, whom he received and saluted in this manner: O ye canonists! I would well endure you, if ye meddled only with imperial, and not with popish laws. But ye maintain the pope and his canons. I would give one of my hands, on condition, all papists and canonists were compelled to keep the pop's laws and decrees; I would wish them no worse a devil. The bishop of Mayence cannot boast that with a good conscience he has three bishoprics; but ye maintain it to be lawful and right. Ye doctors who meddle with popish laws are nothing, for the popish laws are nothing; therefore a doctor in the popish laws is nothing; he is a chimera, a monster, a fable, nothing. A doctor in the imperial laws is half lame, he has had a stroke on the one side; the pope's laws and decrees altogether stink of ambition, of pride, of self profit, covetousness, superstition, idolatry, tyranny, and such like blasphemies.
Ye that are studying under lawyers, follow not your preceptors in abuses or wrong cases, as if a man could not be a lawyer unless he practiced such evil. God has not given laws to make out of right wrong, and out of wrong right, as the unchristianlike lawyers do, who study law only for the sake of gain and profit.
Every lawyer is sorely vexed at me because I preach so harshly against the craft; but I say I, as a preacher, must reprove what is wrong and evil. If I reproved them, as Martin Luther, they need not regard me, but forasmuch as I do it as a servant of Christ, and speak by God's command, they ought to hearken unto me; for if they repent not, they shall everlastingly be damned; but I, when I have declared their sins, shall be excused. If I were not constrained to give an account for their souls, I would leave them unreproved.
All they that serve the pope are damned; for, next the devil, no worse creature is than the pope, with his lying human traditions, aimed directly against Christ. The greatest part of the lawyers, especially the canonists, are the pope's servants, and although they will not have the name, yet they prove it in deed. They would willingly rule the church, and trample upon her true and faithful servants; therefore are they damned.
A lawyer is wise according to human wisdom, a divine according to God's wisdom.
Ah! how bitter an enemy is the devil to our church and school here at Wittenberg, which in particular he opposes more than the rest, so that tyranny and heresy increase and get the upper hand by force, in that all the members of the church are against one another; yea, also we, which are a piece of the heart, vex and plague one another among ourselves. I am verily persuaded that many wicked wretches and spies are here, who watch over us with an evil eye, and are glad when discord and offences arise among us; therefore we ought diligently to watch and pray; it is high time - pray, pray. This school is a foundation and ground of pure religion, therefore she ought justly to be preserved and maintained with lectures and with stipends gainst the raging and swelling of Satan.
Whoso after my death shall condemn the authority of this school here at Wittenberg, if it remain as it is now, church and school, is a heretic and a perverted creature; for in this school God first revealed and purified his Word. This school and city, both in doctrine and manner of life, may justly be compared with all others; yet we are not altogether complete, but still faulty in our kind of living. The highest and chiefest divines in the whole empire hold and join with us - as Amsdorf, Brentius, and Rhegius - all desiring our friendship, and saluting us with loving and learned letters. A few years past, nothing was of any value but the pope, till the church mourned, cried, and sighed, and awakened our Lord God in heaven; as in the Psalm he says: "For the trouble of the needy and the groans of the poor, I will now arise."
Our nobility exhaust people with usury, insomuch that many poor people starve for want of food; the cry goes, I would willingly take a wife, if I knew how to maintain her, so that a forced celibacy will hence ensue. This is not good; such wicked courses will cause the poor to cry and sigh, will rouse up God and the heavenly host. Wherefore i say: Germany take heed. I often make an account, and as I come nearer and nearer to forty years, I think with myself: now comes an alteration, for St Paul preached not above forty years, nor St Augustine; always, after forty years pure preaching of God's Word, it has ceased, and great calamities have ensued thereupon.
Dialectica speaks simply,straightforward, and plainly, as when I say: Give me something to drink. But Rhetorica adorns the matter, saying: Give me of the acceptable juice of the cellar, which finely froths and makes people merry. Dialecta declares a thing distinctly and significantly, in brief words. Rhetorica counsels and advises, persuades and dissuades; she has her place and fountain head, whence a thing is taken; as, this is good, honest, profitable, easy, necessary, etc. These two arts St Paul briefly taught, where he says: "That he may be able by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convince the gainsayers." (Tit. 1.). Therefore, when I would teach a farmer concerning the tilling of his land, I define briefly and plainly, his kind of life; his housekeeping, fruits, profits, and all that belongs to the being of his life, Dialectice; but, if I would admonish him according to Rhetorica, then I counsel and advise him, and praise his kind of life, in this manner, as: that it is the most quiet, the richest, securest, and most delightful kind of life, etc. Again, if I intend to chide or find fault, then I must point out and blame his misconduct, evil impediments, failings, gross ignorance, and such like defects which are in the state of farmers. Philip Melancthon has illustrated and declared good arts; he teaches them in such sort, that the arts teach not him, but he the arts; I bring my arts into books, I take them not out of books. Dialectica is a profitable and necessary art, which justly ought to be studied and learned; it shows how we ought to speak orderly and uprightly, what we should acknowledge and judge to be right or wrong; `tis not only necessary in schools, but also in consistories, in courts of justice, and in churches; in churches most especially.
I always loved music; whoso has skill in this art, is of a good temperament, fitted for all things. We must teach music in schools; a schoolmaster ought to have skill in music, or I would not regard him; neither should we ordain young men as preachers, unless they have been well exercised in music.
Singing has nothing to do with the affairs of this world, it is not for the law; singers are merry and free from sorrows and cares.
Music is one of the best arts; the notes give life to the text; it expels melancholy, as we see in king Saul. Kings and princes ought to maintain music, for great potentates and rulers should protect good and liberal arts and laws; though private people have desire thereunto and love it, yet their ability is not adequate. We read in the Bible, that the good and godly kings maintained and paid singers. Music is the best solace for a sad and sorrowful mind; by it the heart is refreshed and settled again in peace.