Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 146. MARTIN LUTHER

146. MARTIN LUTHER

Illustration -- Martin Luther's Birth-Place

Illustration -- Portrait of Martin Luther

Martin Luther, after he was grown in years, being born at Eisleben in Saxony, A.D. 1483, was set to the university, first of Magdeburg, then of Erfurt. In this university of Erfurt, there was a certain aged man in the convent of the Augustines (who is thought to be Weselus above mentioned) with whom Luther, being then of the same order, a friar Augustine, had conference upon divers things, especially touching the article of remission of sins; the which article the said aged father opened unto Luther after this sort: declaring, that we must not generally believe only forgiveness of sins to be, or to belong to Peter, to Paul, to David, or such good men alone; but that God's express commandment is, that every man should particularly believe his sins to be forgiven him in Christ: and further said, that this interpretation was confirmed by the testimony of Bernard, and showed him the place, in the sermon of the Annunciation, where it is thus set forth: "But add thou that thou believest this, that by him thy sins are forgiven thee. This is the testimony that the Holy Ghost giveth thee in thy heart, saying, Thy sins are forgiven thee. For this is the opinion of the apostle, that man is freely justified by faith."

By these words Luther was not only strengthened, but was also instructed of the full meaning of St. Paul, who repeateth so many times this sentence, "We are justified by faith." And having read the expositions of many upon this place, he then perceived, as well by the purpose of the old man, as by the comfort he received in his spirit, the vanity of those interpretations, which he had read before of the schoolmen. And so, reading by little and little, with conferring the sayings and examples of the prophets and apostles, and continual invoction of God, and excitation of faith by force of prayer, he perceived that doctrine most evidently. Then began he to read St. Augustine's books, where he found many comfortable sentences: among other, in the exposition of the Psalms, and specially in the book of the "Spirit and Letter," which confirmed this doctrine of faith and consolation in his heart not a little. And yet he laid not aside the sententiaries, as Gabriel and Cameracensis. Also he read the books of Ocham, whose subtlety he preferred above Thomas Aquinas and Scotus. He read also and revolved Gerson: but above all the rest, he perused all over St. Augustines works with attentive cogitation. And thus continued he his study at Erfurt the space of four years in the convent of the Augustines.

About this time one Staupitz, a famous man, who, ministering his help to further the erection of a university in Wittenberg, and endeavouring to have schools of divinity founded in this new university; when he had considered the spirit and towardness of Luther, recalled him from Erfurt, to place him in Wittenberg, A.D. 1508, and of his age twenty-six. There his towardness appeared in the ordinary exercise, both of his disputations in the schools, and preaching in churches; where many wise and learned men attentively heard Luther, especially Dr. Mellarstad.

This Mellarstad would oftentimes say, that Luther was of such a marvellous spirit, and so ingenious, that he gave apparent signification; that he would introduce a more compendious, easy, and familiar manner of teaching, and alter and abolish the order that then was used.

There first he expounded the logic and philosophy of Aristotle, and in the mean while intermitted no whit his study in theology. Three years after be went to Rome, about certain contentions of the monks: and returning the same year, he was graded doctor, at the expense of the elector Frederic, duke of Saxony, according to the solemn manner of schools: for he had heard him preach; well understood the quietness of his spirit; diligently considered the vehemency of his words; and had in singular admiration those profound matters which in his sermons he ripely and exactly explained. This degree Staupitz, against his will, enforced upon him; saying merrily unto him, that God had many things to bring to pass in his church by him. And though these words were spoken merrily, yet it came so to pass anon after; as many predictions or presages prove true before a change.

After this, he began to expound the Epistle to the Romans, and, subsequently, the Psalms: where he showed the difference betwixt the law and the gospel. He also confounded the error that reigned then in schools and sermons, teaching that men may merit remission of sins by their proper works, and that they be just before God by outward discipline; as the Pharisees taught. Luther diligently reduced the minds of men to the Son of God; and as John Baptist demonstrated the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world; even so Luther, shining in the church as a bright star after a long cloudy and obscure say, expressly showed, that sins are freely remitted for the love of the Son of God, and that we ought faithfully to embrace this bountiful gift.

These happy beginnings of so good matters, got him great authority, considering his life was correspondent to his profession, the consideration whereof allured to him marvellously the hearts of his auditors, and also many notable personages.

All this while Luther yet altered nothing in the ceremonies, but precisely observed his rule among his fellows. He meddled in no doubtful opinions, but taught this only doctrine, as most principal of all others to all men, opening and declaring the doctrine of repentance, of remission of sins, of faith, of true comfort in times of adversity. Every man received good taste of this sweet doctrine, and the learned conceived high pleasure to behold Jesus Christ, the prophets and apostles, to come forth into light out of darkness; whereby they began to understand the difference betwixt the law and the gospel; betwixt the promises of the law, and the promise of the gospel; betwixt spiritual justice, and civil things; which certainly could not have been found in Thomas Aquinas, Scotus, nor such-like school-clerks.

It happened, moreover, about this time, that many were provoked, by Erasmus's learned works, to study the Greek and Latin tongues; who perceiving a more gentle and ready order of teaching than before, began to have in contempt the monks' barbarous and sophistical doctrine; and especially such as were of a liberal nature and good disposition. Luther began to study the Greek and Hebrew tongue, to this end, that after he had learned the phrase and property of the tongues, and drawn the doctrine from the very fountains, he might give more sound judgment.

As Luther was thus occupied in Germany, which was A.D.1516, Leo the Tenth of that name, succeeding after Julius the Second, was pope of Rome, who, under pretence of war against the Turk, sent a jubilee with his pardons abroad through all Christian realms and dominions, whereby he gathered together innumerable riches and treasure; the gatherers and collectors whereof persuaded the people, that whosoever would give ten shillings, should at his pleasure deliver one soul from the pains of purgatory. For this they held as a general rule, that God would do whatsoever they would have him, according to the saying, Whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, the same shall be loosed in heaven; but if it were but one jot less than ten shillings, they preached that it would profit them nothing. This filthy kind of the pope's merchandise, as it spread through all quarters of Christian regions, so it came also to Germany, through the means of a certain Dominic friar named Tetzel, who most impudently caused the pope's indulgences or pardons to be carried and sold about the country. Whereupon Luther, much moved with the blasphemous sermons of this shameless friar, and having his heart earnestly bent with ardent desire to maintain true religion, published certain propositions concerning indulgences, which are to be read in the first tome of his works, and set them openly on the temple that joineth to the castle of Wittenberg, the morrow after the feast of All Saints, A.D. 1517.

This beggarly friar, hoping to obtain the pope's blessing, assembled certain monks, and sophistical divines of his convent, and forthwith commanded them to write something against Luther. And while he would not himself seem to be dumb, he began not only to inveigh in his sermons, but to thunder against Luther; crying, "Luther is a heretic, and worthy to be persecuted with fire." And besides this, he burned openly Luther's propositions, and the sermon which he wrote of indulgences. This rage and fumish fury of this friar, enforced Luther to treat more amply of the cause, and to maintain his matter.

And thus rose the beginnings of this controversy; wherein Luther, neither suspecting nor dreaming of any change that might happen in the ceremonies, did not utterly reject the indulgences, but required a moderation in them: and therefore they falsely accuse him, which blaze, that he began with plausible matter, whereby he might get praise, to the end that in process of time he might change the state of the commonweal, and purchase authority either for himself or other.

And certes, he was not suborned or stirred up by them of the court, (as the Duke of Brunswick wrote,) insomuch that the Duke Frederic was sorely offended that such competition and controversy should arise, having regard to the sequel thereof.

And as this good Duke Frederic was one, of all the princes of our time, that loved best quietness and common tranquillity, neither was avaricious, but willingly bent to refer all his counsels to the common utility of all the world, (as it is easy to be conjectured divers ways,) so he neither encouraged nor supported Luther, but often represented semblance of heaviness and sorrow which he bare in his heart, fearing greater dissensions. But being a wise prince, and following the counsel of God's rule, and well deliberating thereupon, be thought with himself, that the glory of God was to be preferred above all things: neither was he ignorant what blasphemy it was, horribly condemned of God, obstinately to repugn the truth. Wherefore he did as a godly prince should do, he obeyed God, committing himself to his holy grace and omnipotent protection. And although Maximilian the emperor, Charles, king of Spain, and Pope Julius, had given commandment to the said Duke Frederic, that he should inhibit Luther from all place and liberty of preaching; yet the duke, considering with himself the preaching and writing of Luther, and weighing diligently the testimonies and places of the Scripture by him alleged, would not withstand the thing which he judged sincere. And yet neither did he this trusting to his own judgment, but was very anxious and inquisitive to hear the judgment of others, which were both aged and learned; in the number of whom was Erasmus, whom the duke desired to declare to him his opinion touching the matter of Martin Luther; saying and protesting, that he would rather the ground should open and swallow him, than he would bear with any opinions which he knew to be contrary to manifest truth; and therefore he desired him to declare his judgment in the matter to him freely and friendly.

Erasmus, thus being entreated of the duke, began thus jestingly and merrily to answer the dukes request, saying, that in Luther were two great faults; first, that he would touch the bellies of monks; the second, that he would touch the pope's crown; which two matters in no case are to be dealt withal. Then, opening his mind plainly to the duke, thus he said, that Luther did well in detecting errors, and that reformation was to be wished, and very necessary in the church: and added moreover, that the effect of his doctrine was true; but only that he wished in him a more temperate moderation and manner of writing and handling. Whereupon Duke Frederic shortly after wrote to Luther, seriously exhorting him to temper the vehemency of his style. This was at the city of Cologne, shortly after the coronation of the new emperor, where also Huttenus, Aloisius, Marlianus, Ludovicus Vives, Halonius, with other learned men, were assembled together, waiting upon the emperor.

Futhermore, the same Erasmus, the next year following that, wrote up to the archbishop of Mentz a certain epistle touching the cause of Luther; in which epistle thus he signifieth to the bishop:

"That many things were in the books of Luther condemned of monks and divines for heretical, which in the books of Bernard and Austin are read for sound and godly. That the world is burdened with men's institutions, with school doctrines and opinions, and with the tyranny of Begging Friars; which friars, when they are but the pope's servants and underlings, yet they have so grown in power and multitude, that they are now terrible, both to the pope himself, and to all princes; who, so long as the pope maketh with them, so long they make him more than a God; but if he make any thing against their purpose or commodity, then they weigh his authority no more than a dream or fantasy. Once it was counted a heresy when a man repugned against the gospel, or articles of the faith. Now he that dissenteth from Thomas Aquinas is a heretic: whatsoever doth not like them, whatsoever they understand not, that is heresy. To speak Greek is heresy, or to speak more finely than they do, that is with them heresy."

And thus much by the way concerning the judgment of Erasmus.

 

Review of Luther's conduct and writings.

It is also apparent, that Luther promised the Cardinal Cajetan to keep silence, provided also his adversaries would do the like. Whereby we may gather, that at that time he determined not to stir any new debates, but rather coveted the common quietness, and that he was provoked by little and little to other matters, through the provoking of unlearned writers.

Then followed disputations of the difference betwixt Divine and human law; also of the horrible profanation of the supper of our Lord, in selling and applying the same for other purposes. Here he was forced to express the cause of the sacrifice, and to declare the use of the sacraments.

Now the godly and faithful Christians, closed in monasteries, understanding that images ought to be eschewed, began to abandon that wretched thraldom, in which they were detained. Now Luther, the plainer to express the doctrine of repentance, of remission of sins, of faith, and of indulgences, added also to these matters, the difference of Divine and human laws, the doctrine of the use of our Lord's supper, of baptism, and of vows; and these were his principal conflicts. As . touching the question of the Roman bishop's power, Eckius was the author thereof; and for no other respect, than to inflame the fiery wrath of the pope and princes against Luther. The symbol of the apostles, also of Nice and Athanasius; he conserved in their integrity.

Further, he sufficiently declareth in divers of his works what innovation is to be required in the ceremonies and traditions of men; and wherefore they ought to be altered. And what form of doctrine and administration of the sacraments he required and approved, is apparent by the confession which the elector, John, duke of Saxony, and Prince Philip, landgrave of Hesse, presented to the Emperor Charles the Fifth, A.D. 1530, in the assembly at Augsburg. It is manifest also by the ceremonies of the church in this city, and the doctrine that is preached in our church, the sum whereof is fully comprised in this confession. I allege this, that the godly may consider not only what errors he hath corrected and reproved, but also they may understand that he comprehended also the whole doctrine necessary for the church; he hath set the ceremonies in their purity, and given examples to the faithful to reform the churches, and it is necessary for posterity to know what Luther hath approved.

I will not here rehearse, who were the first that published both parts of the supper of our Lord, who first omitted private masses, and where first the monasteries were abandoned: for Luther disputed very little of these before the assembly which was made in the town of Worms, A.D. 1521: he changed not the ceremonies, but in his absence Carolostadt and others altered them. Then Luther returning, (after Carolostadt had devised and done certain things rather to breed muttering than otherwise,) manifested by evident testimonies, published abroad touching his opinion, what he approved, and what he misliked.

We know that politic men evermore detested all changes: and we must confess, there ensueth some evil upon dissensions, and yet it is our duty evermore in the church, to advance God's ordinance above human constitutions. The eternal Father pronounced this voice of his Son: This is my well beloved Son, hear him! And he menaced eternal wrath to all blasphemers, that is, such as endeavour to abolish the manifest verity. And therefore Luther did as behoved a Christian faithfully to do, considering he was an instructer of the church of God. It was his office, I say, to reprehend pernicious errors, which the rabble of epicures most impudently heaped one upon another, and it was expedient his auditors dissented not from his opinion, since he taught purely. Wherefore, if alteration be hateful, and many perils grow of dissension, as we certainly see many, whereof we be right sorry, they are partly in fault that spread abroad these errors, and partly they that with devilish disdain presently maintain them. I do not recite this to defend Luther and his auditors, but also that the faithful may consider now, and in time to come, what is the governance of the true church of God, and what it hath always been: how God hath gathered to himself one eternal church, by the voice of the gospel, of this lump of sin, and filthy heap of human corruption; among whom the gospel shineth as a spark in the dark. As in the time of the Pharisees, Zachary, Elizabeth, Mary, and many others, reverenced and observed the true doctrine; so have many gone before us, who purely invocated God, some understanding more clearly than others the doctrine of the gospel. Such a one was the old man of whom I wrote, that oftentime comforted Luther, when his astonyings assailed him; and after a sort declared unto him the doctrine of the faith. And that God may preserve henceforth the light of his gospel, shining in many, let us pray with fervent affection, as Isaiah prayeth for his hearers: Seal the law in my disciples. Further, this advertisement showeth plainly that coloured superstitions are not permanent, but abolished by God: and since this is the cause of changes, we ought diligently to endeavour, that errors be neither taught, nor preached in the church.

But I return to Luther. Even as at the beginning he treated of this matter, without any particular affection, so, though he was of a fiery nature, and subject to wrath, yet he always remembered his office, and prohibited wars to be attempted, and distinguished wisely offices wherein was any difference; as the bishop, to feed the flock of God; and the magistrates, by authority of the sword committed unto them, to repress the people subject unto them. Wherefore when Satan contendeth by slanders to dissipate the church of God, and contumeliously to rage against him, and delighteth to do evil, and rejoiceth to behold us wallow in the puddle of error and blindness, smiling at our destruction; he laboureth all he can to inflame and stir up mischievous instruments and seditious spirits to sow sedition; as Monetarius and his like. Luther repelled boldly these rages, and not only adorned, but also ratified, the dignity and bands of politic order and civil government. Therefore, when I consider in my mind how many worthy men have been in the church, that in this erred, and were abused; I believe assuredly that Luther's heart was not only governed by human diligence, but with a heavenly light; considering how constantly he abode within the limits of his office.

Luther held not only in contempt the seditious doctors of that time, as Monetarius and the Anabaptists; but especially these horned bishops of Rome, who, arrogantly and impudently, by their devised decrees, affirmed, that St. Peter had not the charge alone to teach the gospel, but also to govern commonweals, and exercise civil jurisdiction. Moreover, he exhorted every man to render unto God that which appertained unto God, and to Cæsar that which belonged unto Cæsar; and said, that all should serve God with true repentance, knowledge, and maintaining of his true doctrine, invocation, and works, wrought with a pure conscience: and as touching civil policy, that every one should obey the magistrates under whom he liveth, in all civil duties and reverences, for God's sake. And such a one was Luther. He gave unto God what belonged unto God: he taught God; he invocated God; and had other virtues necessary for a man that pleaseth God. Further, in politic conversation he constantly avoided all seditious counsels. I judge these virtues to be such excellent ornaments, that greater and more divine cannot be required in this mortal life. And albeit that the virtue of this man is worthy of commendation, and the rather for that he used the gifts of God in all reverence; yet our duty is to render condign thanks unto God, that by him he hath given us the light of the gospel, and to conserve and enlarge the remembrance of his doctrine. I weigh little the slander of the epicures and hypocrites, who scoff at and condemn the manifest truths; but I stay wholly hereupon, that the universal church hath consented perpetually to this very doctrine, which is preached in our church, whereunto we must frame our life and devotion conformably. And I believe that this is the doctrine whereof the Son of God speaketh, If any love me, he will keep my commandments, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and plant our dwelling with him. I speak of the sum of the doctrine, as it is understood and explained in our churches, by the faithful and learned ministers. For albeit that some one oftentimes expoundeth the same more aptly and elegantly than some other; yet, as touching the effect, the learned and faithful do agree in all points.

Then weighing and perpending with myself long time, the doctrine that hath been of all times, it seemeth unto me, that since the apostles there have been four notable alterations after the first purity of the gospel. Origen had his time; albeit there were some of a sound and sacred opinion, as Methodius, who reproved certain suspected doctrines of Origen, that he converted the gospel into philosophy in the hearts of many; that is to say, he advanced this persuasion, that the moral discipline deserveth remission of sins, and that this is that justice, whereof is said, The just shall live by faith. That age lost almost the whole difference of the law and the gospel, and forgot the words of the apostles; for they understood not the natural signification of these words: Letter, Spirit, Justice, Faith. Now when the propriety of words was lost, which he notes of the very things, it was necessary that other things should be contrived.

Out of this seed sprang the error of Pelagius, which wandered largely abroad: and therefore, albeit the apostles had given unto the church a pure doctrine, as clear and wholesome fountains, yet Origen intermixed the same with some corruption in that part. Then, to correct the errors of that time, or at least some part of them, God raised up St. Austin, who purged in some part the fountains; and I doubt not, if he were judge of dissensions at this day, but he would speak for us, and defend our cause. Certainly, as concerning free remission, justification by faith, the use of the sacraments and indifferent things, he consenteth wholly with us. And, albeit that in some places he expoundeth more eloquently and aptly what he will say than in others, yet if in reading any do carry with them a godly spirit and quick understanding, all evil judgment ceaseth; they shall soon perceive that he is of our opinion. And whereas our adversaries sometimes do cite sentences selected out of his books against us, and with clamour provoke us to the ancient fathers, they do it not for any affection they bear unto the truth or antiquity, but maliciously to cloak them with the authority of the ancient fathers, which antiquity never knew of any of these horned beasts and dumb idols, as we have known in these days. Nevertheless it is certain, there were seeds of superstition in the time of the fathers and ancient doctors; and therefore St. Austin ordained something of vows, although he wrote not thereof so strangely as others: for the best sometimes shall be spotted with the blemish of such follies as reign in their age. For as naturally we love our country, so fondly we favour the present fashions, wherein we be trained and educated. And very well alluded Euripides to this effect:

 

"What customs we in tender youth
By nature's lore receive;
The same we love and like always,
And loath our lust to leave."

But would to God, that such as vaunt they follow St. Austin, would always represent one like opinion and mind, as St. Austin: certainly they would not so clip his sentences, to serve their purposes. The light restored by St. Austin's works hath much profited posterity; for Prosper, Maximus, Hugo, and some other like writers, that governed studies to St. Bernard's time, have for the most part imitated the rule of St. Austin. And this, while the regiment and riches of the bishops still increased: and thereof ensued a monstrous regiment; profane and ignorant men governed the church, among whom, certain were instructed in sciences and practices of the Roman court, and some others exercised in pleadings.

Then the orders of Dominican and Franciscan friars began; who, beholding the excess and riches of the bishops, and contemning their ungodly manners, determined to live in more modest order, or, as I might say, to enclose them in the prisons of discipline: but first ignorance increased the superstitions. Then after, when they considered men's minds wholly addicted to the study of the civil laws, (for pleading at Rome advanced many to great authority, and enriched them,) they endeavoured to revoke men to the study of divinity. but they missed of their purpose, and their counsel failed them. Albert, and such like, that were given to Aristotle's doctrine, began to convert the doctrine of the church into profane philosophy.

The fourth age not only corrupted the fountains of the gospel, but also gave out poison, that is to say, opinions manifestly approving all idolatries. Thomas Aquinas, Scotus, and their like, have brought in so many labyrinths and false opinions, that the godly and sound sort of divines have always desired a more plain and purer kind of doctrine: neither can we deny without great impudency but it was expedient to alter this kind of doctrine, when it is manifest that such as employed their whole age in this manner of teaching, understood not a great part of the sophisms in their disputations. Further, it is plainly idolatry confirmed, when they teach the application of sacrifice by work wrought; when they allow the invocation of saints; when they deny that sins be freely remitted by faith; when of ceremonies they make a slaughter of consciences. Finally, there are many other horrible and pernicious devices, that when I think on them, Lord! how I tremble and quake for fear.

Now to return, and to treat something orderly of the acts and conflicts of Luther with his adversaries. After that Tetzel, the aforesaid friar, with his fellow monks and friarly fellows, had cried out with open mouth against Luther, in maintaining the pope's indulgences; and that Luther again, in defence of his cause, had set up propositions against the open abuses of the same, marvel it was to see how soon these propositions were sparkled abroad in sundry and far places, and how greedily they were caught up in the hands of divers both far and near. And thus the contention of this matter increasing between them, Luther was compelled to write thereof more largely and fully than otherwise he thought; which was A.D. 1517.

Yet all this while Luther never thought of any alteration to come of any ceremony, much less such a reformation of doctrine and ceremonies as afterwards did follow; but only hearing that he was accused to the bishop of Rome, he did write humbly unto him: in the beginning of which writing he declareth the inordinate outrage of those his pardon-mongers, who so excessively did pill and poll the simple people, to the great slander of the church, and shame to his Holiness. And so proceeding, in the end of the said his writing thus he submitteth himself:

"Wherefore, most holy father, I offer myself prostrate under the feet of your Holiness, with all that I am, and that I have. Save me, kill me, call me, recall me, approve me, reprove me, as you shall please. Your voice, the voice of Christ in you speaking, I will acknowledge. If I have deserved death, I shall be contented to die: for the earth is the Lord's, and all the fulness thereof, who is to be blessed for ever. Amen."

This was A.D. 1518.

After that Martin Luther, provoked thus by Tetzel, had declared his mind in writing lowly and humbly, and had set up certain propositions to be disputed; not long after, among other monks and friars steppeth up one Silvester de Priero, a Dominic friar, who first began to publish abroad a certain impudent and railing dialogue against him. Unto whom Luther answered again, first alleging the place of the apostle in 1 Thess. v., that we must prove all things. Also the place in Gal. ii., that if an angel from heaven do bring any other gospel than that we have received, he ought to be accursed. Item, he alleged the place of Austin unto Jerome, where the said Austin saith, That he was wont to give this honour only to the books of canonical Scripture, that whosoever were the writers thereof, he believeth them verily not to have erred. But as touching all other men's writings, were they never so holy men, or learned, he doth not believe them therefore, because they so say; but in that respect as they do agree with the canonical Scripture, which cannot err. Item, he alleged the place of the canon law; wherein he proved, that these pardon-sellers, in their setting forth of the pope's indulgences, ought to go no further by the law, than is enjoined them within the letters of their commission. And in the latter part of his answer, thus Luther writeth to the reader, "Let opinions remain opinions, so they be not yokes to the Christians. Let us not make men's opinions equal with the articles of faith, and to the decrees of Christ and Paul." "Moreover, I am ashamed," quoth he, "to hear the common saying of these divine school-doctors, who, holding one thing in schools, and thinking otherwise in their own judgment, thus are wont secretly among themselves, and with their privy friends talking together, to say, 'Thus we do hold, and thus would we say being in the schools; but yet (be it spoken here amongst us) it cannot be so proved by the Holy Scriptures,'" &c.

Next after this Silvester, stepped forth Eckius, and impugned the conclusions of Luther. Against whom encountered Dr. Andreas Bedenstein, archdeacon of Wittenberg, making his apology in defence of Luther.

Then was Martin Luther cited, the seventh of August, by one Hierome, bishop of Ascalon, to appear at Rome. About which time Thomas Cajetan, cardinal, the pope's legate, was then lieger at the city of Augsburg, who before had been sent down in commission, with certain mandates from Pope Leo, unto that city. The university of Wittenberg, understanding of Luther's citation, eftsoons directed up their letters with their public seal to the pope, in Luther's behalf. Also another letter they sent to Carolus Miltitius, the pope's chamberlain, being a German born. Furthermore, good Frederic ceased not for his part to solicit the matter with his letters and earnest suit with Cardinal Cajetan, that the cause of Luther might be freed from Rome, and removed to Augsburg, in the hearing of the cardinal. Cajetan, at the suit of the duke, wrote unto the pope; from whom he received this answer again, the three and twentieth of the aforesaid month of August.

"That he had cited Luther to appear personally before him at Rome, by Hierome, bishop of Ascalon, auditor of the chamber; which bishop diligently had done what was commanded him: but Luther, abusing and contemning the gentleness offered, did refuse not only to come, but also became more bold and stubborn, continuing, or rather increasing, in his former heresy, as by his writings did appear. Wherefore he would, that the cardinal should cite and call up the said Luther to appear at the city of Augsburg before him; adjoining withal, the aid of the princes of Germany, and of the emperor, if need required; so that when the said Luther should appear, he should lay hand upon him, and commit him to safe custody; and after, he should be brought up to Rome. And if he perceived him to come to any knowledge or amendment of his fault, he should release him and restore him to the church again; or else he should be interdicted, with all other his adherents, abettors, and maintainers, of whatsoever state or condition they were, whether they were dukes, marquises, earls, barons, &c. Against all which persons and degrees, he willed him to extend the same curse and malediction (only the person of the emperor excepted); interdicting, by the censure of the church, all such lands, lordships, towns, tenements, and villages, as should minister any harbour to the said Luther, and were not obedient unto the see of Rome. Contrariwise, to all such as showed themselves obedient, he should promise full remission of all their sins.

ikewise the pope directeth other letters also at the same time to Duke Frederic, complaining, with many grievous words, against Luther.

The cardinal, thus being charged with injunctions from Rome, according to his commission, sendeth with all speed for Luther to appear at Augsburg before him.

About the beginning of October, Martin Luther, yielding his obedience to the Church of Rome, came to Augsburg at the cardinal's sending, (at the charges of the noble prince elector, and also with his letters of commendation,) where he remained three days before he came to his speech; for so it was provided by his friends, that he should not enter talk with the cardinal before a sufficient warrant or safe-conduct was obtained of the Emperor Maximilian. Which being obtained, eftsoons he entered, offering himself to the speech of the cardinal, and was there received of the cardinal very gently; who, according to the pope's commandment, propounded unto Martin Luther three things, or, as Sleiden saith, but two: to wit,

I. That he should repent and revoke his errors.

II. That he should promise, from that time forward, to refrain from the same.

III. That he should refrain from all things that might by any means trouble the church.

When Martin Luther required to be informed wherein he had erred, the legate brought forth the Extravagant of Clement, which beginneth, Unigenitus, &c., because that he, contrary to that canon, had held and taught in his fifty-eighth proposition, that the merits of Christ are not the treasure of indulgences or pardons. Secondly, the cardinal, contrary to the seventh proposition of Luther, affirmed, that faith is not necessary to him that receiveth the sacrament.

Furthermore, another day, in the presence of four of the emperor's council, having there a notary and witnesses present, Luther protested for himself, and personally, in this manner following:

"Imprimis, I Martin Luther, a Friar Augustine, protest, that I do reverence and follow the Church of Rome in all my sayings and doings, present, past, and to come; and if any thing hath been, or shall be, said by me to the contrary, I count it, and will that it be counted and taken, as though it had never been spoken.

"But because the cardinal hath required, at the commandment of the pope, three things of me to be observed: First, That I should return again to the knowledge of myself: Secondly, That I should beware of falling into the same again hereafter: Thirdly, That I should promise to abstain from all things which might disquiet the church of God: I protest here this day, that whatsoever I have said, seemeth unto me to be sound, true, and catholic: yet for the further proof thereof, I do offer myself personally, either here or elsewhere, publicly to give a reason of my sayings. And if this please not the legate, I am ready also in writing to answer his objections, if he have any against me; and touching these things, to hear the sentence and judgment of the university of the empire, Basil, Friburg, and Louvain."

Hereto when they had received an answer in writing, they departed.

After this, Luther by and by prepareth an answer to the legate, teaching, that the merits of Christ are not committed unto men: That the pope's voice is to be heard when he speaketh agreeable to the Scriptures: That the pope may err: That he ought to be reprehended. [Acts xv.] Moreover he showed, that in the matter of faith, not only the general council, but also every faithful Christian, is above the pope, if he lean to better authority and reason: That the Extravagant containeth untruths: That it is an infallible verity, that none is just: That it is necessary, for him that cometh to the receiving of the sacrament, to believe: That faith in the absolution and remission of sins, is necessary: That he ought not, nor might not, decline from the verity of the Scripture; That he sought nothing but the light of the truth, &c.

But the cardinal would hear no Scriptures; he disputed without Scriptures; devised glosses and expositions of his own head; and by distinctions, (wherewith the divinity of the Thomists is full,) like a very Proteus, he avoided all things. After this, Luther, being commanded to come no more into the presence of the legate except he would recant, notwithstanding abode there still, and would not depart. Then the cardinal sent for Johannes Staupitz, vicar of the Augustines, and moved him earnestly to bring Luther to recant of his own accord. Luther tarried the next day also, and nothing was said unto him. The third day, moreover, he tarried, and delivered up his mind in writing:

First, Luther thanked the cardinal for his courtesy and great kindness, which he perceived by the words of Staupitz toward him; and therefore was the more ready to gratify him in whatsoever kind of office he could do him service: confessing moreover, that where he had been somewhat sharp and eager against the pope's dignity, that was not so much of his own mind, as it was to be ascribed to the importunity of certain which gave him occasion. Notwithstanding, as he acknowledged his excess therein, so he was ready to show more moderation in that behalf hereafter, and also promised to make amends for the same unto the bishop; and that in the pulpit, if he pleased. And as touching the matter of pardons, he promised also to proceed no further in any mention thereof, so that his adversaries likewise were bound to keep silence. But whereas he was pressed to retract his sentence before defended, forasmuch as he had said nothing but with a good conscience, and which was agreeable to the firm testimonies of the Scripture, therefore he humbly desired the determination thereof to be referred to the bishop of Rome; for nothing could be more grateful to him, than to hear the voice of the church speaking, &c.

ho doth not see by this so humble and honest submission of Luther, but that if the bishop of Rome would have been answered with any reason, or contented with sufficient mean, he had never been touched any further of Luther? But the secret purpose of God had a further work herein to do; for the time now was come, when God thought good that pride should have a fall. Thus while the immeasurable desire of that bishop sought more than enough, (like to Æsop's dog coveting both to have the flesh and the shadow,) not only he missed what he gaped for, but also lost that which he had. But to the purpose of our matter again: this writing Luther delivered to the cardinal, the third day after he was commanded out of his sight; which letter or writing the cardinal did little regard. When Luther saw that he would give no answer nor countenance to the letter; yet, notwithstanding, he remained, after that, the fourth day, and nothing was answered. The fifth day likewise was passed with like silence, and nothing done. At length, by the counsel of his friends, and especially because the cardinal had said before, that he had a commandment to imprison Luther and John Staupitz the vicar; after that he had made and set up his appeal where it might be seen and read, he departed; thinking that he had showed such dangerous obedience long enough. Luther, a beholder and a doer of these things, recordeth the same, and showeth the cause why he submitted himself to the Church of Rome: declaring also, that even those things which are most truly spoken, yet ought to be maintained and defended with humility and fear. Some things he suppressed and concealeth, which he supposeth the reader to understand, not without grief and sorrow. At length he protesteth, that he reverenceth and followeth the Church of Rome in all things, and that he setteth himself only against those, who, under the name of the Church of Rome, go about to set forth and commend Babylon unto us.

Thus you have heard how that Luther, being rejected from the speech and sight of Cajetan the cardinal, after six days' waiting, departed by the advice of his friends, and returned unto Wittenberg; leaving a letter in writing to be given to the cardinal, wherein he declared sufficiently: first his obedience in his coming; the reasons of his doctrine; his submission reasonable to the see of Rome; his long waiting after he was repelled from the cardinal's speech; the charges of the duke; and finally, the cause of his departing. Besides this letter to the cardinal, he left also an appellation to the bishop of Rome, from the cardinal, which he caused to be affixed before his departure.

After that Luther was thus departed and returned again into his country, Cajetan writeth to Duke Frederic a sharp and a biting letter, in which, first he signifieth unto him his gentle entertainment and good will showed to reduce Luther from his error. Secondly, he complaineth of the sudden departing of him, and of Staupitz. Thirdly, he declareth the pernicious danger of Luther's doctrine against the Church of Rome. Fourthly, he exhorteth the duke, that as he tendereth his own honour and safety, and regardeth the favour of the high bishop, he will send him up to Rome, or expel him out of his dominions, forasmuch as such a pestilence breeding, as that was, could not, neither ought by any means long so to be suffered.

To this letter of the cardinal the duke answereth again at large, purging both Luther and himself; Luther, in that he, following his conscience, grounded upon the word of God, would not revoke that for an error, which could be proved no error. And himself he excuseth thus: that where it is required of him to banish him his country, or to send him up to Rome, it would be little honesty for him so to do, and less conscience, unless he knew just cause why he should do so; which, if the cardinal would or could declare unto him, there should lack nothing in him which were the part of a Christian prince to do. And therefore he desired him to be a mean unto the bishop of Rome, that innocency and truth be not oppressed before the crime or error be lawfully convicted.

This done, the duke sendeth the letter of the cardinal unto Martin Luther, who answered again to the prince; showing first how he came obediently unto Cajetan with the emperor's warrant, and what talk there was between them: how Cajetan pressed him, against his conscience and manifest truth, to revoke his errors. First, that the merits of Christ's passion were not the treasure of the pope's pardons: secondly, that faith was necessary in receiving the sacraments. Albeit in the first he was content to yield to the cardinal; in the second, because it touched a great part of our salvation, he could not with a safe conscience relent, but desired to be taught by the Scripture, or at least, that the matter might be brought into open disputation in some free place of Germany, where the truth might be discussed and judged of learned men. The cardinal, not pleased with this, in great anger cast out many menacing words, neither would admit him any more to his presence or speech; whereas he yet, notwithstanding, persisting in his obedience to the Church of Rome, gave attendance, waiting upon the cardinal's pleasure a sufficient time.

At last when no answer would come, after he had waited the space of five or six days to his great detriment and greater danger, by the persuasion of his friends he departed whereat if the cardinal were displeased, he had the more cause to blame himself. "And now, whereas the cardinal threateneth me," saith he, "not to let the action fall, but that the process thereof shall be pursued at Rome, unless I either come and present myself, or else be banished your dominions; I am not so much grieved for mine own cause, as that you should sustain for my matter any danger or peril. And therefore, seeing there is no place nor country which can keep me from the malice of mine adversaries, I am willing to depart hence, and to forsake my country, whithersoever it shall please the Lord to lead me; thanking God who hath counted me worthy to suffer thus much for the glory of Christ's name."

Here, no doubt, was the cause of Luther in great danger; being now brought to this strait, that both Luther was ready to fly the country, and the duke again was as much afraid to keep him, had not the marvellous providence of God, who had this matter in guiding, here provided a remedy where the power of man did fail, by stirring up the whole university of Wittenberg; who, seeing the cause of truth thus to decline, with a full and general consent addressed their letters unto the prince, in defence of Luther and of his cause; making their humble suit unto him, that he, of his princely honour, would not suffer innocency, and the simplicity of truth so clear as is the Scripture, to be foiled and oppressed by mere violence of certain malignant flatterers about the pope; but that the error first may be showed and convicted, before the party be pronounced guilty.

By the occasion of these letters, the duke began more seriously in his mind to consider the cause of Luther, and to read his works, and also to hearken to his sermons: whereby, through God's holy working, he grew to knowledge and strength; perceiving in Luther's quarrel more than he did before. This was about the beginning of December, A.D. 1518.

As this passed on, Pope Leo, playing the lion at Rome, in the mean time, in the month of November, (to establish his seat against this defection which he feared to come,) had sent forth new indulgences into Germany, and all quarters abroad, with a new edict, wherein he declared this to be the catholic doctrine of the holy mother Church of Rome, prince of all other churches, that bishops of Rome, who are successors of Peter, and vicars of Christ, have this power and authority given to release and dispense, also to grant indulgences, available both for the living and for the dead lying in the pains of purgatory: and this doctrine he charged to be received of all faithful Christian men, under pain of the great curse, and utter separation from all holy church. This popish decree and indulgence, as a new merchandise or ale-stake to get money, being set up in all quarters of Christendom for the holy father's advantage, came also to be received in Germany about the month of December. Luther, in the mean time, hearing how they were about in Rome to proceed and pronounce against him, provided a certain appellation conceived in due form of law, wherein he appealeth from the pope to the general council.

When Pope Leo perceived, that neither his pardons would prosper to his mind, nor that Luther could be brought to Rome; to essay how to come to his purpose by crafty allurements, he sent his chamberlain, Carolus Miltitius, above mentioned, (who was a German,) into Saxony, to Duke Frederic, with a golden rose, after the usual ceremony accustomed every year to be presented to him; with secret letters also to certain nobleman of the duke's council, to solicit the pope's cause, and to remove the duke's mind, if it might be, from Luther. But before Miltitius approached into Germany, Maximilian the emperor deceased in the month of January, A.D. 1519. At that time two there were who stood for the election; to wit, Francis, the French king, and Charles, king of Spain, who was also duke of Austria, and duke of Burgundy. To make the matter short, through the means of Frederic, prince elector, (who, having the offer of the preferment, refused the same,) the election fell to Charles, called Charles the Fifth, surnamed Prudence: which was about the end of August.

Illustration -- The debate at Leipsic

In the month of June before, there was a public disputation ordained at Leipsic, which is a city in Misnia, under the dominion of George, duke of Saxony, uncle to Duke Frederic. This disputation first began through the occasion of John Eckius, a friar, and Andreas Carolostadt, doctor of Wittenberg. This Eckius had impugned certain propositions or conclusions of Martin Luther, which he had written the year before touching the pope's pardons. Against him Carolostadt wrote in defence of Luther. Eckius again, to answer Carolostadt, set forth an apology, which apology Carolostadt confuted by writing. Upon this began the disputation, with safe-conduct granted by Duke George to all and singular persons that would resort to the same. To this disputation came also Martin Luther, with Philip Melancthon, who, not past a year before, was newly come to Wittenberg; Luther not thinking then to dispute in any matter, because of his appellation above mentioned, but only to hear what there was said and done.

First, before the entry into the disputation it was agreed, that the acts should be penned by notaries, and after to be divulged abroad. But Eckius afterwards went back from that, pretending that the penning of the notaries would be a hinderance and a stay unto them, whereby the heat of them in their reasoning should the more languish, and their vehemency abate. But Carolostadt without notaries would not dispute. The sum of their disputations was reduced to certain conclusions; amongst which the Greeks call αυφαιρετον [Greek: aythaireton]: that is, "Whether a man have of himself any election or purpose to do that is good: or, (to use the terms of the school,) "Whether a man of congruence may deserve grace, doing that which in him doth lie?" Herein when the question was to be discussed, what the will of man may do of itself without grace, they, through heat of contention, (as the manner is,) fell into other by-matters and ambages little or nothing appertaining to that which Carolostadt proposed. Eckius affirmed, that the pure strength to do good is not in man's will, but is given of God to man, to take interest and increase of man again, which first he seemed to deny. Then, being asked of Carolostadt, whether the whole and full good work that is in man proceedeth of God; to this he answered, "the whole good work, but not wholly:" granting, that the will is moved of God; but to consent, to be in man's power. Against this reasoning Carolostadt alleged certain places of Austin, and especially of St. Paul, who saith, that God worketh in us both to will and to perform. And this sentence of Carolostadt seemed to overcome. Eckius, for his assertion, inferred certain extracts out of Bernard, which seemed little to the purpose. And thus was a whole week lost about this contentious and sophistical altercation between Eckius and Carolostadt.

Luther (as was said) came, not thinking at all to dispute; but, having free liberty granted by the duke, and under the pope's authority, was provoked, and forced against his will, to dispute with Eckius. The matter of their controversy was about the authority of the bishop of Rome. Here is first to be admonished, that Luther before had set forth in writing this doctrine: That they that do attribute the pre-eminency to the Church of Rome, have no foundation for them, but out of the pope's decrees, set forth not much past four hundred years heretofore; which decrees he affirmed to be contrary to all ancient histories, above a thousand years past; contrary also to the Holy Scriptures, and unto the Nicene council.

Against this assertion Eckius set up a contrary conclusion; saying, that those who hold that the supremacy and pre-eminency of the Church of Rome above all other churches was not before the time of Pope Silvester the First, do err, forasmuch as they that succeeded in the see and faith of Peter, were always received for the successors of Peter, and vicars of Christ on earth.

This being the last of all the other themes of Eckius, yet thought he chiefly to begin with this against Luther, to bring him into more displeasure with the bishop of Rome; wherein Luther himself much refused to dispute, alleging that matter to be more odious than necessary for that present time, and that also, for the bishop of Rome's sake, he had much rather keep silence in the same. Whereunto, if he must needs be urged, he would the fault should be understood of all men to be where it was; namely, in his adversaries who provoked him thereunto, and not in himself. Eckius again, clearing himself, translateth all the fault unto Luther, who first, in his treatise De Indulgentiis Papæ defended, that before Pope Silvester's time the Church of Rome had no place of majority or pre-eminence above other churches: and also before, the Cardinal Cajetan affirmed, that Pope Pelagius wrested many places of the Scripture out of their sense, unto his own affection and purpose: "Wherefore the fault hereof," said he, "to him rather is to be imputed, who ministered the first occasion."

Thus Luther being egged and constrained to dispute, whether he would or no, the question began to be propounded touching the supremacy of the bishop of Rome; which supremacy Eckius did contend to be founded and grounded upon God's law. Martin Luther, on the other side, denied not the supremacy of the bishop of Rome above other churches, nor denied the same, moreover, to be universal over all churches; but only he affirmed it not to be instituted by God's law. Upon this question the disputation did continue the space of five days; during all which season, Eckius very dishonestly and uncourteously demeaned himself, studying by all means how to bring his adversary into the hatred of the auditors, and into danger of the pope. The reasons of Eckius were these: "Forasmuch as the church, being a civil body, cannot be without a head, therefore, as it standeth with God's law that other civil regiments should not be destitute of their head, so is it by God's law requisite, that the pope should be the head of the universal church of Christ." To this Martin Luther answered, that he confesseth and granteth the church not to be headless, so long as Christ is alive, who is the only Head of the church; neither doth the church require any other bead beside him, forasmuch as it is a spiritual kingdom, not earthly: and he alleged for him the place of Colossians i. Eckius again produceth certain places out of Jerome and Cyprian, which made very little to prove the primacy of the pope to hold by God's law. As touching the testimony of Bernard, neither was the authority of that author of any great force in this case, nor was the place alleged so greatly to the purpose.

Then came he to the place of St. Matthew, chap. xvi., Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock will I build my church, &c. To this was answered, that this was a confession of faith, and that Peter there represented' the person of the whole universal church; as Austin doth expound it. Also that Christ in that place meaneth himself to be the Rock, as is manifest to collect, both by his words, and the order of the sentence, and many other conjectures. Likewise to the place of St. John, Feed my sheep; which words Eckius alleged properly and peculiarly to be spoken to Peter alone. Martin answered, that after these words spoken, equal authority was given to all the apostles, where Christ saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose sins so-ever ye remit, they are remitted, &c. "By these words," saith he, "Christ, assigning to them their office, doth teach what it is to feed; and what he ought to be, that feedeth.

After this, Eckius came to the authority of the council of Constance, alleging this amongst other articles: That it standeth upon necessity of our salvation, to believe the bishop of Rome to be supreme head of the church; alleging moreover, that in the same council it was debated and discussed, that the general council could not err. Whereunto Martin Luther again did answer discreetly, saying, that all the articles which John Huss did hold in that council, were not condemned for heretical; with much other matter more. Again, of what authority that council of Constance is to be esteemed, that he left to other men's judgments. "This is most certain," said he, "that no council hath such authority to make new articles of faith." Here Martin Luther began to be cried out of by Eckius and his complices, for diminishing the authority of general councils: although indeed he meant nothing less, but ever laboured to confirm the authority of the same, yet was he called heretic and schismatic, and one of the Bohemians' faction, with many other terms besides of reproachful contumely. Eckius then granted the authority of the apostles to be equal; and yet not to follow thereby, the authority of all bishops therefore to be equal; "for between apostleship and ministry," said he, "there is great difference."

To conclude, Eckius in no case could abide, that any creature should decline from any word or sentence of the pope's decrees, or the constitutions of the forefathers. To this again Luther answered, grounding himself upon the place in Galatians ii., where St. Paul, speaking of the principal apostles, saith, And of them which seemed to be great, what they were before, it maketh no matter to me; for God accepteth no man's person. Nevertheless they that were of some reputation did avail nothing at all, &c. Eckius to this said, that as touching the authority of the apostles, they were all chosen of Christ, but were ordained bishops by St. Peter. And whereas Luther brought in the constitution of the decree, which saith, Yea, let not the bishop of Rome be called universal bishop, &c. To this Eckius answered in this sort: that the bishop of Rome ought not to be called universal bishop; yet he may be called (saith he) bishop of the universal church. And thus much touching the question of the pope's supremacy.

From this matter they entered next to purgatory, wherein Eckius kept no order; for when they should have disputed what power the pope hath in purgatory, Eckius turned the scope of the question, and proved that there is purgatory; and alleged for him the place of Maccabees. Luther, leaning upon the judgment of Jerome, affirmed the book of Maccabees not to be canonical. Eckius again replied, the book of Maccabees to be of no less authority than the Gospels. Also he alleged the place, 1 Cor. iii., He shall be saved, yet so as it were by fire. Moreover, he inferred the place of Matthew v., Agree thou with thine adversary while thou art in the way with him, lest he commit thee to prison; from whence thou shalt not escape till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing, &c. To this he added also the place of the Psalms, We have passed though the fire and water, &c. How these places be wrested to purgatory, let the reader discern and judge.

Then was inferred the question of indulgences, whereof Eckius seemed to make but a toy, and a matter of nothing, and so passed it over.

At last they came to the question of penance; touching which matter, the reasons of Eckius digressed much from the purpose, which went about to prove, that there be some manner of pains of satisfaction: which thing Luther did never deny. But that for every particular offence such particular penance is exacted of God's justice upon the repentant sinner, as is in man's power to remit or release, as pleaseth him; such penance neither Luther, nor any other true Christian, did admit.

And thus have ye the chief effect of this disputation between Luther and Eckius at Leipsic, which was in the month of July, A.D. 1519.

About the beginning of the same year, Ulderic Zuinglius came first to Zurich, and there began to teach; who, in the sixteenth article in his book of articles, recorded, that Luther and he, both at one time, one not knowing nor hearing of another, began to write against the pope's pardons and indulgences. Albeit, if the time be rightly counted, I suppose we shall find that Luther began a year or two before Zuinglius. Notwithstanding, this doth Sleidan testify, that in this present year, when Sampson, a Franciscan, came with the pope's pardons to Zurich, Ulderic Zuinglius did withstand him, and declared his chaffer and pardons to be but a vain seducing of the people to inveigle away their money.

The next year ensuing, which was 1520, the friars and doctors of Louvain, and also of Cologne, condemned the books of Luther as heretical; against whom Luther again effectually defended himself, and charged them with obstinate violence and malicious impiety. After this, within few days flashed out from Rome the thunderbolt of Pope Leo against the said Luther, notwithstanding he so humbly and obediently before had reverenced both the person of the pope, and recognised the authority of his see, and also had dedicated unto him the book entitled Of Christian Liberty; in which book these two points principally he discusseth and proveth:

"I. That a Christian man is free, and lord of all things, and subject to none.

"II. That a Christian man is a diligent underling and servant of all men, and to every man subject."

Moreover, in the same year he set out a defence of all his articles, which the pope's bull had before condemned.

Another book also he wrote, to the nobility of Germany, in the which book he impugneth and shaketh the three principal walls of the papists: the first whereof is this:

"I. Whereas the papists say, that no temporal or profane magistrate hath any power upon the spirituality, but they have power over the other.

"II. Where any place of Scripture, being in controversy, is to be decided, they say, No man may expound the Scripture, or be judge thereof, but only the pope.

"III. When any council is brought against them, they say, that no man hath authority to call a council, but only the pope."

Moreover, in the aforesaid book divers other matters he handleth and discourseth: That the pope can stop no free council; also what things ought to be handled in councils; that the pride of the pope is not to be suffered; what money goeth out of Germany yearly to the pope, amounting to the sum of three millions of florins. The true meaning of this verse he expoundeth: Tu supplex ora, to protege, toque labora; wherein the three estates, with their offices and duties, are described; to wit, the minister, the magistrate, and the subjects. Furthermore, in the said book he proveth and discusseth, that the emperor is not under the pope; but contrariwise, that the donation of Constantine is not true, but forged: that priests may have wives: that the voices of the people ought not to be separate from the election of ecclesiastical persons: that interdicting and suspending of matrimony at certain times is brought in by avarice: what is the right use of excommunication: that there ought to be fewer holidays: that liberty ought not to be restrained in meats: that wilful poverty and begging ought to be abolished: what damage and inconvenience have grown by the council of Constance; and what misfortunes Sigismund the emperor sustained, for not keeping faith and promise with John Huss and Jerome: that heretics should be convinced not by fire and faggot, but by evidence of Scripture, and God's word: how schools and universities ought to be reformed: what is to be said and judged of the pope's decretals: that the first teaching of children ought to begin with the gospel: Item, he writeth in the same book against excessive apparel among the Germans: also against their excess in spices, &c.

In this year, moreover, followed, not long after, the coronation of the new emperor Charles the Fifth, which was in the month of October, at Aix-la-Chapelle. After which coronation, being solemnized about the month of November, Pope Leo sent again to Duke Frederic, two cardinals his legates, of whom the one was Hierome Aleander, who, after a few words of high commendation first premised to the duke touching his noble progeny, and other his famous virtues, they made two requests unto him in the pope's name: first, that he would cause all books of Luther to be burned; secondly, that he would either see the said Luther there to be executed, or else would make him sure, and send him up to Rome, unto the pope's presence.

These two requests seemed very strange unto the duke; who, answering again to the cardinals, said, that he, being long absent from thence about other public affairs, could not tell what there was done, neither did he communicate with the doings of Luther. Notwithstanding this, he heard that Eckius was a great perturber not only of Luther, but of other learned and good men of his university. As for himself, he was always ready to do his duty; first, in sending Luther to Cajetan the cardinal at the city of Augsburg; and afterwards, at the pope's commandment, would have sent him away out of his dominion, had not Meltitius, the pope's own chamberlain, given contrary counsel to retain him still in his own country, fearing lest that in other countries he might do more harm, where he was less known: and so now was as ready to do his duty, wheresoever right and equity did so require. But forasmuch as in this cause he seeth much hatred and violence showed on the one part, and no error yet convicted on the other part, but that it had rather the approbation of divers well learned and sound men of judgment; and forasmuch as also the cause of Luther was not yet heard before the emperor, therefore he desired the said legates to be a mean to the pope's Holiness, that certain learned persons of gravity and upright judgment might be assigned to have the hearing and determination of this matter, and that his error first might be known, before he were made a heretic, or his books burned: which being done, when he should see his error by manifest and sound testimonies of Scripture reproved, Luther should find no favour at his hands. Otherwise he trusted that the pope's Holiness would exact no such thing of him, which he might not with equity, and honour of his place and estate, reasonably perform, &c.

Then the cardinals (declaring to the duke again, that they could no otherwise do, but according to the form of their prescript commission they must proceed) took the books of Luther, and shortly after set fire upon them, and openly burnt them. Luther, hearing this, in like manner called all the multitude of students and learned men in Wittenberg, and there, taking the pope's decrees, and the bull lately sent down against him, openly and solemnly, accompanied with a great number of people following him, set them likewise on fire, and burnt them; which was the tenth of December, A.D. 1520.

 

Previous Next