TRANSLATED BY WILLIAM HAZLITT, Esq.
The Lutheran Publication Society
Typed by: Kathy Sewell firstname.lastname@example.org
June 1, 1997
This book is in the public domain
Astronomy is the most ancient of all sciences, and has been the introducer of vast knowledge; it was familiarly known to the Hebrews, for they diligently noted the course of the heavens, as God said to Abraham: "Behold the heavens; canst thou number the stars?" etc. Haven's motions are threefold; the first is, that the whole firmament moves swiftly around, every moment thousands of leagues, which, doubtless, is done by some angel. `Tis wonderful so great a vault should go about in so short a time. If the sun and stars were composed of iron, steel, silver, or gold, they must needs suddenly melt in so swift a course, for one star is greater than the whole earth, and yet they are innumerable. The second motion is, of the planets, which have their particular and proper motions. The third is, a quaking or a trembling motion, lately discovered, but uncertain. I like astronomy and mathematics, which rely upon demonstrations and sure proofs. As to astrology, `tis nothing.
Astronomy deals with the matter, and with what is general, not with manner of form. God himself will be alone the Master and Creator, Lord and Governor, though he has ordained the stars for signs. And so long as astronomy remains in her circle, whereunto God has ordained her, so is she a fair gift of God; but when she will step out of her bounds - that is, when she will prophecy and speak of future things, how it will go with one, or what fortune or misfortune another shall have, then she is not to be justified. Chiromancy we should utterly reject. In the stars is neither strength nor operation; they are but signs, and have, therefore, just cause to complain of the astrologers, who attribute unto them what they have not. The astrologers commonly ascribe that to the stars, which they ought to attribute to the planets, that announce only evil events, except that star which appeared to the wise men in the east, and which showed that the revelation of the Gospel was at the door.
In the year 1538, the Seigneur Von Minckwitz made a public oration in honor of astrology, wherein he sought to prove that the sentence in Jeremiah, chap. x: "Be not dismayed at the signs of heaven," applied not to astrology, but to the images of the Gentiles. Luther said hereupon: These passages may be quibbled with, but not overthrown. Jeremiah speaks as Moses did of all the signs of heaven, earth, and sea; the heathen were not so silly as to be afraid of the sun or moon, but they feared and adored prodigies and miraculous signs. Astrology is no art; it has no principle, no demonstration, whereupon we may take sure footing; `tis all haphazard work; Philip Melancthon, against his will, admits unto me, that though, as he says, the art is extant, there are none that understand it rightly. They set forth, in their almanacs, that we shall have no snow in summer time, nor thunder in winter; and this the country clowns know as well as the astrologers. Philip Melancthon says: That such people as are born in ascendant Libra, in the ascension of Liber towards the south, are unfortunate people. Whereupon I said: The astrologers are silly creatures, to dream that their crosses and mishaps proceed not from God, but from the stars; `tis hence, they are not patient in their troubles and adversities. Astrology is uncertain; and as the predicamenta are feigned words in Dialectica, even so astronomy has feigned astrology; as the ancient and true divines knew nothing of the fantasies and divinity of the school teachers, so the ancient astronomers knew nothing of astrology. The nativities of Cicero and of others were shown me. I said: I hold nothing thereof, nor attribute anything unto them. I would gladly have the astrologers answer me this: Esau and Jacob were born together, of one father and one mother, at one time, and under equal planets, yet they were wholly of contrary natures, kinds, and minds. What is done by God, ought not to be ascribed to the stars. The upright and true Christian religion opposes and confutes all such fables. The way of casting nativities is like the proceedings in popedom, whose outward ceremonies and pompous ordinances are pleasing to human wit and wisdom, as the consecrated water, torches, organs, cymbals, singing, ringing, but withal there's no certain knowledge. An astrologer, or horoscope monger, is like one that sells dice, and bawls: Behold, here I have dice that always come up twelve. If once or twice their conjectures tell, they cannot sufficiently extol the art; but as to the infinite cases where they fail, they are altogether silent. Astronomy, on the contrary, I like; it pleases me by reason of her manifold benefits.
General prophecies and declarations, which declare generally what in future shall happen accord not upon individuals and particular things.
When at one time many are slain together in a battle, no man can affirm they were all born under one planet, yet they die altogether in one hour, yea, in one moment.
God has appointed a certain and sure end for all things, otherwise Babylon might have said: I will remain and continue; and Rome: To me is the government and rule given without ceasing. To Alexander and others were given empires and kingdoms, yet astrology taught not that such great kingdoms were to be raised, nor how long they were to last.
Astrology is framed by the devil, to the end people may be scared from entering into the state of matrimony, and from every divine and human office and calling; for the star-peepers presage nothing that is good out of the planets; they affright people's consciences, in regard of misfortunes to come, which all stand in God's hand, and through such mischievous and unprofitable cogitations vex and torment the whole life.
Great wrong is done to God's creatures by the star-expounders. God has created and placed the stars in the firmament, to the end they might give light to the kingdoms of the earth, make people glad and joyful in the Lord, and be good signs of years and seasons. But the star-peepers feign that those creatures, of God created, darken and trouble the earth, and are hurtful; whereas all creatures of God are good, and by God created only for good, though mankind makes them evil, by abusing them. Eclipses, indeed, are monsters, and like to strange and untimely births. Lastly, to believe in the stars, or to trust thereon, or to be affrighted thereat, is idolatry, and against the first commandment.
Luther advised all who proposed to study, in what art soever, to read some sure and certain books over and over again; for to read many sorts of books produces rather confusion than any distinct result; just as those who dwell everywhere, and remain in no place, dwell nowhere, and have no home. As we use not daily the community of all our friends, but of a select few, even so we ought to accustom ourselves to the best books, and to make them familiar unto us, so as to have them, as we say, at our fingers end. A fine talented student fell into a frenzy; the cause of his disease was, that he laid himself out too much upon books, and was in love with a girl. Luther dealt very mildly and friendly with him, expecting amendment, and said: Love is the cause of his sickness; study brought upon him but little of his disorder. In the beginning of the Gospel it went so with myself.
Who could be so mad, in these evil times, as to write history and the truth? The brains of the Greeks were subtle and crafty; the Italians were ambitious and proud; the Germans rude and boisterous. Livy described the acts of the Romans, not of the Carthaginians. Blandus and Platina only flatter the popes.
Anno 1536, Luther wrote upon his tablets the following words: Res et verba Philippus; verba sine re Erasmus; res sine verbis Lutherus: nec res, nec verba Carolostadius; that is, what Philip Melancthon writes has hand and feet; the matter is good, and the words are good; Erasmus Roterodamus writes many words, but to no purpose; Luther has good matter, but the words are wanting: Carlstad has neither good words nor good matter. Philip Melancthon coming in at the moment, read these criticisms, and turning with a smile to Dr. Basil, said: Touching Erasmus and Carlstad, `twas well said, but too much praise is accorded to me, while good words ought to be reckoned among the other merits of Luther, for he speaks exceeding well, and has substantial matter.
Luther, reproving Dr. Mayer, for that he was fainthearted and depressed, by reason of his simple king of preaching, in comparison with other divines, as he conceived, admonished him, and said: Loving brother, when you preach regard not the doctors and learned men, but regard the common people, to teach and instruct them clearly. In the pulpit, we must feed the common people with milk, for each day a new church is growing up, which stands in need of plain and simple instruction. Keep to the catechism, the milk. High and subtle discourse, the strong wine, we will keep for the strong-minded.
No theologian of our time handles and expounds the Holy Scripture so well as Brentius, so much so that I greatly admire his energy, and despair of equalling him. I verily believe none among us can compare with him in the exposition of St John's gospel; though, now and then, he dwells somewhat too much upon his own opinions, yet he keeps to the true and just meaning, and does not set himself up against the plain simplicity of God's Word.
The discourse turning among the great differences amongst the learned, Luther said: God has very finely distributed his gifts, so that the learned serve the unlearned, and the unlearned humble themselves before the learned, in what is needful for them. If all people were equal, the world could not go on; nobody would serve another, and there would be no peace. The peacock complained because he had not the nightingale's voice. God, with apparent inequality, has instituted the greatest equality; one man, who has greater gifts than another, is proud and haughty, and seeks to rule and domineer over others, and condemns them. God finely illustrates human society in the members of the body, and shows that one member must assist the other, and that none can be without the other.
Aristotle is altogether an epicurean; he holds that God heeds not human creatures, nor regards how we live, permitting us to do at our pleasure. According to him, God rules the world as a sleepy maid rocks a child. Cicero got much further. He collected together what he found good in the books of all the Greek writers. `Tis a good argument, and has often moved me much, where he proves there is a God, in that living creatures, beasts, and mankind engender their own likeness. A cow always produces a cow; a horse, a horse, etc. Therefore it follows that some being exists which rules everything. In God we may acknowledge the unchangeable and certain motions of the stars of heaven; the sun each day rises and sets in his place; as certain as time, we have winter and summer, but as this is done regularly, we neither admire nor regard it.
The Jews boast they are Abraham's children; and, indeed, `twas a higher honor of them, when the rich glutton in hell said, "Father Abraham," etc. But our Lord God can well distinguish these children; for to such as the glutton he gives their wages here in this life, but the rewards and wages for the others he reserves until the life to come.
The Jews are the most miserable people on earth. They are plagued everywhere, and scattered about all countries, having no certain resting place. They sit as on a wheelbarrow, without a country, people, or government; yet they wait on with earnest confidence; they cheer up themselves and say: It will soon be better with us. Thus hardened are they; but let them know assuredly, that there is none other Lord or God, but only he that already sits at the right hand of God the Father. The Jews are not permitted to trade or to keep cattle, they are only usurers and brokers; they eat nothing the Christians kill or touch; they drink no wine; they have many superstitions; they wash the flesh most diligently, whereas they cannot be cleansed through the flesh. They drink not milk, because God said: "Thou shalt not boil the young kid in his mother's milk." Such superstitions proceed out of God's anger. They that are without faith, have laws without end, as we see in the papists and Turks; but they are rightly served, for seeing they refused to have Christ and his Gospel, instead of freedom they must have servitude.
If I were a Jew, the pope should never persuade me to his doctrine; I would rather be ten times racked. Popedom, with its abominations and profanities, has given to the Jews infinite offence. I am persuaded if the Jews heard our preaching, and how we handle the Old Testament, many of them might be won, but, through disputing, they have become more and more stiff-necked, haughty, and presumptuous. Yet, if but a few of the rabbis fell off, we might see them come to us, one after another, for they are almost weary of waiting.
At Frankfort-on-the-Main there are very many Jews; they have a whole street to themselves, of which every house is filled with them. They are compelled to wear little yellow rings on their coats, thereby to be known; they have no houses or grounds of their own, only furniture; and, indeed, they can only lend money upon houses or grounds at great hazard.
I have studied the chief passages of Scripture, that constitute the grounds upon which the Jews argue against us; as where God said to Abraham: "I will make my covenant between me and thee, and with thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant," etc. Here the Jews brag, as the papists do upon the passage: "Thou art Peter." I would willingly bereave the Jews of this bragging, by rejecting the law of Moses, so that they should not be able to gainsay me. We have against them the prophet Jeremiah, where he says: "Behold, the time cometh, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not as the covenant which I made with their fathers," etc. "But this shall be the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel; after this time, saith the Lord, I will give my laws into their hearts, and will write it in their minds," etc.
Here, surely the Jews must yield, and say: the law of Moses continued but for awhile, therefore it must be abolished. But the covenant of the circumcision, given before Moses time, and made between God and Abraham, and his seed Isaac in his generation, they say, must and shall be an everlasting covenant, which they will not suffer to be taken from them.
And though Moses himself rejects their circumcising of the flesh, and presses upon the circumcising of the heart, yet, nevertheless, they boast of that everlasting covenant out of God's Word; and when they admit that the circumcision justifies not, yet, nevertheless, say they, it is an everlasting covenant, thinking it is a covenant of works, therefore we must leave unto them their circumcision.
I, for my part, with all God-fearing Christians, have this sure and strong comfort, that the circumcision was to continue but for awhile, until Messiah came; when he came, the commandment was at an end. Moses was wise; he kept himself within bounds, for in all his four books after Genesis, he wrote nothing of physical circumcision, but only of the circumcision of the heart. He dwells upon the Sacrifices, the Sabbath, and showbread; but leaves this covenant of circumcision quite out, making no mention thereof; as much as to say: "Tis little to be regarded. If it had been of such importance and weight as the Jews make it, he would doubtless have urged it accordingly. Again, in the Book of Joshua, mention is made of the circumcising of the heart. The papists, however, blind people, who know nothing at all of the Scriptures, are not able to confute one argument of the Jews; theirs is truly a fearful blindness.
The verse in the 115th Psalm is masterly: "He shall bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great." Here the Holy Spirit is a fierce thunderclap against the proud, boasting Jews and papists, who brag that they alone are God's people, and will allow of none but of those that are of their church. But the Holy Ghost says: The poor condemned people are also God's people, for God saved many of the Gentiles without the law and circumcision, as without popedom.
The Jews see not that Abraham was declared justified only through faith: Abraham believed God, and that was imputed unto him for righteousness. God with circumcision confirmed his covenant with this nation, but only for a certain time. True, the circumcision of the Jews, before Christ's coming, had great majesty; but that they should affirm that without it none are God's people, is utterly untenable. The Jews themselves, in their circumcision, were rejected of God.
Christ drove the buyers and sellers out of the Temple, not by any temporal authority, but by the jurisdiction and power of the church, which authority every High Priest in the Temple had. The glory of this Temple was great, that the whole world must worship there. But God, out of special wisdom, caused this Temple to be destroyed, to the end the Jews might be put to confusion, and no more brag and boast thereof.
There can be no doubt that of old time many Jews took refuge in Italy and Germany, and settled there.
Cicero, the eloquent Gentile, complains of the superstition of the Jews, and their multitude in Italy; we find their footsteps throughout Germany. Here, in Saxony, many names of places speak of them; Ziman, Damen, Resen, Sygretz, Schvitz, Pratha, Thablon. The Jews inhabited Ratisbon a long time before the birth of Christ. At Cremona there are but twenty-eight Christians. It was a mighty nation.
The Jews read our books, and thereout raise objections against us; `tis a nation that scorns and blasphemes even as the lawyers, the papists, and adversaries do, taking out of our writings the knowledge of our cause, and using the same as weapons against us. But, God be praised, our cause has a sure, good and steadfast ground, namely, God and His Word.
Two Jewish rabbis, named Schamaria and Jacob, came to me at Wittenberg, desiring of me letters of safe conduct, which I granted them, and they were well pleased; only they earnestly besought me to omit thence the word Tola, that is, Jesus crucified; for they must needs blaspheme the name Jesus. They said: `Tis most wonderful that so many thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered, of whom no mention is made, while Jesus, the crucified, must always be remembered.
The Jews must be encountered with strong arguments, as where Jeremiah speaks touching Christ: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth; in his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is his name, whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." This argument the Jews are not able to solve; yet if they deny that this sentence is spoken of Christ, they must show unto us another king, descended from David, who should govern so long as the sun and moon endure, as the promises of the prophets declare.
Either God must be unjust, or you, Jews, wicked and ungodly; for ye have been in misery and fearful exile, a far longer time than ye were in the land of Canaan. Ye had not the Temple of Solomon more than three hundred years, while ye have been hunted up and down above fifteen hundred. At Babylon ye had more eminence than at Jerusalem, for Daniel was a greater and more powerful prince at Babylon than either David or Solomon at Jerusalem. The Babylonian captivity was unto you only a fatherly rod, but this last punishment was your utter extermination. You have been, above fifteen hundred years, a race rejected of God, without government, without laws, without prophets, without temple. This argument ye cannot solve; it strikes you to the ground like a thunderclap; ye can show no other reason for your condition than your sins. The two rabbis, struck to the heart, silenced, and convinced, forsook their errors, became converts, and the day following, in the presence of the whole university at Wittenberg, were baptized Christians.
The Jews hope that we shall join them, because we teach and learn the Hebrew language, but their hope is futile. `Tis they must accept of our religion, and of the crucified Christ, and overcome all their objections, especially that of the alteration of the Sabbath, which sorely annoys them, but `twas ordered by the apostles, in honor of the Lord's resurrection.
There are sorcerers among the Jews, who delight in tormenting Christians, for they hold us as dogs. Duke Albert of Saxony well punished one of these wretches. A Jew offered to sell him a talisman, covered with strange characters, which he said effectually protected the wearer against any sword or dagger thrust. The duke replied: "I will essay thy charm upon thyself, Jew," and putting the talisman round the fellow's neck, he drew his sword and passed it through his body. "Thou feelest, Jew!" said he, "how `twould have been with me, had I purchased thy talisman?"
The Jews having various stories about a king of Bassan, whom they call Og; they say he had lifted a great rock to throw at his enemies, but God had made a hole in the middle, so that it slipped down upon the giant's neck, and he could never rid himself of it. `Tis a fable, like the rest of the stories about him, but, perhaps, bears a hidden moral, as the fables of Esop do, for the Jews had some very wise men among them.
The destruction of Jerusalem was a fearful thing; the fate of all other monarchies, of Sodom, of Pharaoh, the captivity of Babylon, were as nothing in comparison; for this city had been God's habitation, his garden and bed; as the Psalm says: "Here will I dwell, for I have chosen her," etc. There was the law, the priesthood, the temple, there had flourished David, Solomon, Isaiah, etc.; many prophets were there interred, so that the Jews had just cause to boast of their privileges. What are we poor miserable folk - what is Rome, compared with Jerusalem? But the Jews are so hardened that they listen to nothing; though overcome by testimonies, they yield not an inch. `Tis a pernicious race, oppressing all men by their usury and rapine. If they give a prince or a magistrate a thousand florins, they exhort twenty thousand from the subjects in payment. We must keep on our guard against them. They think to render homage to God by injuring the Christians, and yet we employ their physicians; `tis a tempting of God. They have haughty prayers, wherein they praise and call upon God, as if they alone were his people, cursing and condemning all other nations, relying on the 23d Psalm: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing." As if that psalm were written exclusively concerning them.
`Tis a vain boasting the Jews make of their privileges, after a lapse of above fifteen hundred years. During the seventy years, when they were captives at Babylon, they were so confused and mingled together, that even then they hardly knew out of what tribe each was descended. How should it be now, when they have been so long hunted and driven about by the Gentiles, whose soldiers spared neither their wives nor their daughters, so that now they are, as it were, all bastards, none of them knowing out of what tribe he is. In 1537, when I was at Frankfort, a great rabbi said to me: My father had read very much, and waited for the coming of the Messiah, but at last he fainted, and out of hope said: As our Messiah has not come in fifteen hundred years, most certainly Christ Jesus must be he.
The Jews above all other nations had great privileges; they had the chief promises, the highest worship of God, and a worship more pleasing to human nature than God's service of faith in the New Testament. They agree better with the Turks than with the Christians; for both Jews and Turks concur in this, that there is but only one God; they cannot understand that three persons should be in one divine substance. They are also agreed as to bathings and washings, circumcision, and other external worshippings and ceremonies.
The Jews had excelling men among them, as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Daniel, Samuel, Paul, etc. Who can otherwise than grieve that so great and glorious a nation should so lamentably be destroyed? The Latin church had no excelling men and teachers, but Augustine; and the churches of the east none but Athanasius, and he was nothing particular; therefore, we are twigs grafted into the right tree. The prophets call the Jews, especially those of the line of Abraham, a fair switch, out of which Christ himself came.
In the porch of a church at Cologne there is a statue of a dean, who, in the one hand, holds a cat, and in the other a mouse. This dean had been a Jew, but was baptized, and became a Christian. He ordered this statue to be set up after his death, to show, that a Jew and a Christian agree as little as a cat and a mouse. And truly, they hate us Christians as they do death; it galls them to see us. If I were master of the country, I would not allow them to practice usury.
The Jews knew well that Messiah was to come, and that they were to hear him, but they would not be persuaded that our Jesus was the Messiah. They thought that the Messiah would leave all things as he found them; but when they saw that Christ took a course contrary to their expectation, they crucified him: yet they boast of themselves as being God's people.
A Jew came to me at Wittenberg, and said: He was desirous to be baptized, and made a Christian, but that he would first go to Rome to see the chief head of Christendom. From this intention, myself, Philip Melancthon, and other divines, labored to dissuade him, fearing lest, when he witnessed the offences and knaveries at Rome, he might be scared from Christendom. But the Jew went to Rome, and when he had sufficiently seen the abominations acted there, he returned to us again, desiring to be baptized, and said: Now I will willingly worship the God of the Christians for he is a patient God. If he can endure such wickedness and vallany as is done at Rome, he can suffer and endure all the vices and knaveries of the world.
The Turk is a crafty and subtle enemy, who wars not only with great power and boldness, but also with stratagem and deceit; he makes his enemies faint and weary, keeping them waking with frequent skirmishes, seldom fighting a complete battle, unless he have tolerable certainty of victory. Otherwise, when a battle is offered him, he trots away, depending on his stratagems.
The power of the Turk is very great; he keeps in his pay, all the year through, hundreds of thousands of soldiers. He must have more than two millions of florins annual revenue. We are far less strong in our bodies, and are divided out among different masters, all opposed the one to the other, yet we might conquer these infidels with only the Lord's prayer, if our own people did not spill so much blood in religious quarrels, and in persecuting the truths contained in that prayer. God will punish us as he punished Sodom and Gomorrah, but I would fain `twere by the hand of some pious potentate, and not by that of the accursed Turk.
They say the famine in the Turkish camp, before Vienna, was so great that a loaf of bread fetched its weight in gold, whereas Vienna and the archduke's army had all things in abundance. This victory is evidently the work of God. The Turk had sworn to conquer Germany within the year, and had unfurled a consecrated standard, but he was put to the rout without accomplishing anything of importance.
On the last day of July, 1539, came news that the king of Persia had invaded the states of the Turk, and that the latter had been obliged to withdraw his forces from Wallachia. Dr. Luther said: I greatly admire the power of the king of Persia, who can measure his strength with an enemy so formidable as the Turk. Truly, these are two mighty empires. Yet Germany could well withstand the Turks if she would keep up a standing army of fifty thousand foot, and ten thousand horse, so that the losses by a defeat might be at once repaired. The Romans triumphed over all their enemies, by keeping constantly on foot forty-two legions of six thousand men each, disciplined troops, practiced in war.
News came from Torgau that the Turks had led out into the great square at Constantinople twenty-three Christian prisoners, who, on their refusing to apostatize, were beheaded. Dr. Luther said: Their blood will cry up to heaven against the Turks, as that of John Huss did against the papists. `Tis certain, tyranny and persecution will not avail to stifle the Word of Jesus Christ. It flourishes and grows in blood. Where one Christian is slaughtered, a host of others arise. `Tis not on our walls or our arquebusses I rely for resisting the Turk, but upon the Pater Noster. `Tis that will triumph. The Decalogue is not, of itself, sufficient. I said to the engineers at Wittenberg: Why strengthen your walls - they are trash; the walls with which a Christian should fortify himself are made, not of stone and mortar, but of prayer and faith.
The Turks are the people of the wrath of God. `Tis horrible to see their contempt of marriage. `Twas not so with the Romans.
Let us repent, pray, and await the Lord's will, for human defense and help is all too weak. Five years since, the emperor was well able to resist the Turks, when he had levied a great army of horse and foot, out of the whole empire, Italians and Germans. But then he would not; therefore, meantime, many good people were butchered by the Turks. Ah, loving God, what is this life, but death! there is nothing but death, from the cradle unto old age. I fear all things go not right; the tyranny and pride of the Spaniards, doubtless, will give us over to the Turks, and make us subject to them. There is great treachery somewhere. I doubt the twenty thousand men, and the costly pieces of double cannon are willfully betrayed to the Turk. It is not usual to carry such great pieces of ordnance into the field. The emperor Maximilian kept them safe at Vienna. It seems to me, as though he had said to the Turk: take these pieces of ordnance as a present; slay and destroy all that cannot escape. This expedition has an aspect of treachery; for while our men slumber, the Turk constantly watches, attempting all he can, both with open power and with secret practices.
If the Turk were to cause proclamation to be made, that every man should be free from taxation and tribute for the space of three years, the common people would joyfully yield to him. But when he had got them into his claws, he would make use of his tyranny, as his custom is, for he takes the third son from every man; he is always father of the third child. Truly, it is a great tyranny, which chiefly concerns the princes of the empire themselves. I ever held the emperor in suspicion, yet he can deeply dissemble. I have almost despaired of him, since he opposed the known truth, which he heard at the Diet at Augsburg. The verse in the second Psalm holds ever good: "Why do the heathen so furiously rage together, and why do the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed," etc. David complained thereof, Christ felt it, the apostles lamented it; we feel it too. `Twas therefore St Paul said: "Not many wise even after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called." Let us call upon God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; let us pray, for it is high time.
The admirable great constancy of John, prince elector of Saxony, is worthy of everlasting memory and praise; who personally and steadfastly held over the pure doctrine of the Gospel at the imperial diet at Augsburg, 1530. And, unhappily, Germany is a prey to discord all this time. See how furious a hate the papists bear to the partisans of the Gospel. They have put their faith in the emperor against us, but they will come to confusion. A certain count had a great bonfire lighted in the night, when he learned the arrival of the emperor in Germany; and a popish priest, near Eisenach, said, he would bet all the cows he should have in the year, that Martin Luther and his adherents would be hanged before Michaelmas. These fellows thought it only needed for the emperor to march against the Lutherans, and they cherished horrible projects; but they were finely disappointed.
The emperor of the Turks maintains great pomp in his court. You have to traverse three vestibules before you reach the apartment wherein he sits. In the first vestibule are twelve chained lions; in the second, an equal number of panthers. He has under his rule very rich and populous countries; even within the last ten years, the number of his subjects has greatly increased.
The 21st of December, 1536, George, marquis of Brandenburg came to Wittenberg, and announced that the Turks had obtained a great victory over the Germans, whose fine army had been betrayed and massacred; he said that many princes and brave captains had perished, and that such Christians as remained prisoners, had been treated with extreme cruelty, their noses being slit, and themselves used most scornfully. Luther said: We, Germans, must consider hereupon that God's anger is at our gates, that we should hasten to repentance while there is yet time; by degrees, he subjugated the Saracens, who before were the lords of Syria, Asia, the Land of Promise, Assyria, Greece, and a portion of Spain. These Solyman utterly overthrew and well nigh annihilated. `Tis thus God plays with kingdoms, as in Isaiah, it is threatened: "I the Lord am a strong God over kingdoms; whoso sinneth I destroy." The Venetians made no resistance. They are effeminate and pretend not to be warriors. `Tis wonderful what progress the Turk has made in the last hundred years, yet that is nothing in comparison with the progress the Roman empire made in fifty years, though, during twenty-three years of the fifty, it had to maintain a terrible war with Hannibal. Such was its aggrandizement, that Scipio declared it advisable that in the public prayers the petition for extended domination should be omitted, it being his opinion that now they had better see to the taking care of what they had got. Yet God overthrew this mighty empire by the hands of barbarians.
The elector of Saxony wrote to Dr. Luther that the Turks had gained a great victory. Cazianus, Ungnad, Schlick, had all been brided by the enemy, and their names were now placarded all over Vienna, as condemned traitors. These generals led the German army close to the Turkish camp; a Christian who had made his escape from the infidels, cane and warned them to be on their guard, but they treated his counsel with contumely. When the enemy approached, these traitors took to flight, with the cavalry, abandoning the infantry to slaughter. The Turks next feigned a retreat, whereupon the Christian generals ordered the cavalry, eleven hundred in number, to return to the charge, but the Turks surrounding them, cut them in pieces also. Cazianus had received eighteen thousand ducats from the Turks through a Jew, to betray the Christian army, and had promised to deliver the king himself into the enemies hands. Luther, on hearing this news, said: Auri sacra fames, quid non mortalia pectora cogis? This traitor must everlastingly burn in hell. I would not betray a dog. I much fear it will go ill with Ferdinand, who has allowed so great an army to be thrust into the throat of the Turk, by the hands of a perjured Mameluke, who heretofore fell from the Turk to the Christians, and now has fallen again from the Christians to the Turk.
Our princes and rulers ought to march in person against the enemy, and not have him thus encountered; the Turk is not to be condemned. Truly, we Germans are jolly fellows; we eat, and drink, and game at our ease, wholly heedless of the Turk. Germany has been a fine and noble country, but `twill be said of her, as of Troy, fuit Llium. Let us pray to God, that, amidst such calamities, he will preserve our consciences. I dread lest the money and forces of Germany become exhausted, for then, perforce, we must yield to the Turk. They reproach me with all this; me, unhappy Martin Luther. They reproach me, too, with the revolt of the peasants, and with the sacramentarian sects, as though I had been their author. Often have I felt disposed to throw the keys before God's foot.
The Turks pretend, despite the Holy Scriptures, that they are the chosen people of God, as descendants of Ishmael. They say that Ishmael was the true son of the promise, for that when Issac was about to be sacrificed, he fled from his father, and from the slaughter knife, and, meanwhile, Ishmael came and truly offered himself to be sacrificed, whence he became the child of the promise; as gross a lie as that of the papists concerning one kind in the sacrament. The Turks make a boast of being very religious, and treat all other nations as idolaters. They slanderously accuse the Christians of worshipping three gods. They swear by one only God, creator of heaven and earth, by his angels, by the four evangelists, and by the eighty heaven-descended prophets, of whom Mohammed is the greatest. They reject all images and pictures, and render homage to God alone. They pay the most honorable testimony to Jesus Christ, saying that he was a prophet of preeminent sanctity, born of the Virgin Mary, and an envoy from God, but that Mohammed succeeded him, and that while Mohammed sits, in heaven, on the right hand of the Father, Jesus Christ is seated on his left. The Turks have retained many features of the law of Moses, but, inflated with the insolence of victory, they have adopted a new worship; for the glory of warlike triumphs is, in the opinion of the world, the greatest of all.
Luther complained of the emperor Charles negligence, who, taken up with other wars, suffered the Turk to capture one place after another. `Tis with the Turks as heretofore with the Romans, every subject is a soldier, as long as he is able to bear arms, so they have always a disciplined army ready for the field; whereas we gather together ephemeral bodies of vagabonds, untried wretches, upon whom is no dependence. My fear is, that the papists will unite with the Turks to exterminate us. Please God, my anticipation come not true, but certain it is, that the desperate creatures will do their best to deliver us over to the Turks.
Luther wrote a letter to the emperor's chief general in Hungary, admonishing him that he had against him four powerful enemies; he had not only to do with flesh and blood, but with the devil, with the Turk, with God's wrath, with our own sins; therefore he should remember to humble himself and to call upon God to help.
Luther heard that the emperor Charles had sent into Austria eighteen thousand Spaniards against the Turk. Whereupon he sighed, and said: `Tis a sign of the last day when those cruel nations, the Spaniards and Turks, are to be our masters: I would rather have the Turks for enemies than the Spaniards for protectors; for, barbarous tyrants as they are, most of the Spaniards are half Moors, half Jews, fellows who believe nothing at all.
The great hope I have is, that the Turkish empire will be brought to an end by intestine dissensions, as it has been with all the kingdoms of the world, the Persian, the Chaldean, the Alexandrian, the Roman: I hope the four brothers, the son of the great Turk, will dispute the sovereignty among themselves. Whoso climbs high, is in danger to fall; the best swimmer may be drowned. If it be the will of God, though the Turk has climbed high, he may fall to pieces in a moment.
The Turk will go to Rome, as Daniel's prophecy announces, and then the last day will not be very distant. Germany must be chastised by the Turks. I often reflect with sorrow, how utterly Germany neglects all good counsel. Victory, however, depends not on ourselves. There is a time for conquering the Turks, and a time for being conquered. The king of France long exalted himself in his pride, but in the end he was abased and made captive. The pope long despised God and man, but he too is fallen. They say the pope lately celebrated the circumcision of four of his sons, and invited the great khan, the king of Persia, and the chiefs of the Venetians, to the ceremony. He is extremely venerated by his subjects. He gives the people a passport, called vich, the bearer of which passes safely throughout the Turkish dominions, and is freely lodged wherever he goes.
Our Lord God deals with countries and cities, as I do with an old hedge-stick, when it displeases me; I pluck it up and burn it, and stick another in its stead.
Tacitus describes German very well. He highly extols the Germans, by reason of their adherence to promises, especially in the state of matrimony, in which particular they excelled all other nations. In former times it stood well with Germany but now the people are fallen from virtue, and become rude, proud, and insolent.
The best days were before the deluge, when the people lived long, were moderate in eating and drinking, beheld God's creature with diligence, celestial and terrestrial, without wasting, warring, or debate; then a fresh, cool spring of water was more sweet, acceptable, and better relished, than costly wines.
Germany is like a brave and gallant horse, highly fed, but without a good rider; as the horse runs here and there, astray, unless he have a rider to rule him, so Germany is also a powerful, rich, and brave country, but needs a good head and governor.
This constant change in the fashion of dress will produce also an alteration of government and manners; we attend too much to these things. Emperor Charles frequently says: the Germans learn of the Spaniards to steal, and the Spaniards learn of the Germans to swill.
Venice is the richest of cities. She has two kingdoms, Cyprus and Candia. Candia once was full of robbers, for six hundred ruined merchants had fled thither. As the island is very hilly, they were not able, by force, to get rid of these robbers, so the Veneitans made proclamation that they would receive all the robbers again to favor, upon condition that each should bring to them the head of a fellow robber. By which means, one wretch being snapped by another, the island was cleared of these vipers. `Twas a good and wise council. Venice respects neither decency nor honor; she seeks only her own profit, is always neutral, hanging the cloak according to the wind. Now they hold with the Turk, ere long they will be for the emperor; what party has victory, has them.
Bembo, an exceeding learned man, who had thoroughly investigated Rome, said: Rome is a filthly, stinking puddle, full of the wickedest wretches in the world; and he wrote thus: "Vivere qui sancte vultus, discedite Roma, Omnia hic ecce licent, non licet esse probum."
In the time of Leo X., there were in an Augustine convent at Rome, two monks, who revolted at the horrible wickedness of the papists, and, in their sermons, found fault with the pope. In the night, two assassins were introduced into their cells, and next morning they were found dead, their tongues cut out, and stuck on their backs. Whoso in Rome is heard to speak against the pope, either gets a sound strappado or has his throat cut; for the pope's name is Noti me tangere.
When I was at Rome, they showed me, for a precious holy relic, the halter wherewith Judas hanged himself. Let us bear this in mind, and consider in what ignorance our forefathers were.
When they who have the office of teaching, joy not therein, that is, have not regard to him that called and sent them; it is, for them, an irksome work. Truly, I would not take the wealth of the whole world, now to begin the work gainst the pope, which thus far I have wrought, by reason of the exceeding heavy care and anguish wherewith I have been burthened. Yet, when I look upon him that called me thereunto, I would not for the world's wealth, but that I had begun it. It is much to be lamented, that no man is content and satisfied with that which God gives him in his vocation and calling. Other men's conditions please us more than our own; as the heathen said: - "Fertilior seges est alienis semper in agris, Vicinumque pecus grandius uber habet."
And another heathen: - Optat ephippia bos piger, optat arare caballus." The more we have the more we want. To serve God is for every one to remain in his vocation and calling, be it ever so mean and simple.
It is said, occasion has a forelock, but is bald behind. Our Lord has taught this by the course of nature. A farmer must sow his barley and oats about Easter; if he defer it to Michaelmas, it were too late. When apples are ripe they must be plucked from the tree, or they are spoiled. Procrastination is as bad as overhastiness. There is my servant Wolf: when four or five birds fall upon the bird net, he will not draw it, but says: O, I will stay until more come, then they all fly away, and he gets none. Occasion is a great matter. Terence says well: I came intime, which is the chief thing of all. Julius Caesar understood occasion; Pompey and Hannibal did not. Boys at school understand it not, therefore they must have fathers and masters, with the rod to hold them thereto, that they neglect not time, and lose it. Many a young fellow has a school stipend for six or seven years, during which he ought diligently to study; he has his tutors, and other means, but he thinks: O, I have time enough yet. But I say: No, fellow. What little Jack learns not, great John learns not. Occasion salutes thee, and reaches out her forelock to thee, saying: "Here I am, take hold of me;" thou thinkest she will come again. Then says she: Well, seeing thou wilt not take hold of my top, take hold of my tail; and therewith flings away.
Bonaventura was but a poor sophist, yet he could say: He that neglects occasion is of it neglected, and `tis a saying with us: Take hold of time, while `tis time, and now, while `tis now. Our emperor Charles understood not occasion, when he took the French king prisoner before Pavia, in 1525; nor afterwards, when he got into his hands pope Clement, and had taken Rome in 1527; nor in 1529, when he almost got hold of the great Turk before Vienna. `Twas monstrous negligence for a monarch to have in his hands his three great enemies, and yet let them go.
Germany would be much richer than she is, if such store of velvets and silks were not worn, nor so much spice used, or so much beer drunk. But young fellows without their liquor have no mirth at all; gaming makes not merry, nor lasciviousness, so they apply themselves to drinking. At the princely jollification lately held at Torgau, each man drank, at one draught, a whole bottle of wine; this they called a good drink. Tacitus wrote, that by the ancient Germans it was held no shame at all to drink and swill four and twenty hours together. A gentleman of the court asked: How long ago it was since Tacitus wrote this? He was answered, about fifteen hundred years. Whereupon the gentleman said: Forasmuch as drunkenness has been so ancient a custom, and of such a long descent, let us not abolish it.
THE END  The cause of the captain's commitment was his pressing the Lord Treasurer for arrears of pay.
 The identity of antichrist with the pope had already been asserted by John Huss, in his De Anatomia Antichristi.