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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 147. THE DIET OF WORMS.


A little before these things thus passed between the pope and Martin Luther, the emperor had commanded and ordained a sitting or assembly of the states of all the empire to be holden at the city of Worms, against the sixth day of January next ensuing; in the which assembly, through the means of Duke Frederic, the emperor gave forth, that he would have the cause of Luther there brought before him; and so it was. For at what time the assembly was commenced in the city of Worms, the day and month aforesaid, which was the sixth of January; afterwards, upon the sixth of March following, the emperor, through the instigation of Duke Frederic, directed his letters unto Luther; signifying, that forasmuch as he had set abroad certain books, he therefore, by the advice of his peers and princes about him, had ordained to have the cause brought before him in his own hearing; and therefore he granted him licence to come, and return home again. And that he might safely and quietly so do, and be thereof assured, he promised unto him, by public faith and credit, in the name of the whole empire, his passport and safe-conduct; as by the instrument which he sent unto him, he might more fully be certified. Wherefore, without all doubt or distrust, he willed him eftsoons to make his repair unto him, and to be there present the twenty-first day after the receipt thereof: and because he should not misdoubt any fraud or injury herein, he assured to him his warrant and promise.

Martin Luther being thus provided for his safe-conduct by the emperor, after he had been first accursed at Rome upon Maundy Thursday by the pope's censure, shortly after Easter speedeth his journey toward the emperor at Worms, where the said Luther, appearing before the emperor and all the states of Germany, how constantly he stuck to the truth, and defended himself, and answered his adversaries, and what adversaries he had, here followeth in full history, with the acts and doings which there happened; according as in our former edition partly was before described.

n the year of our salvation 1521, about seventeen days after Easter, Martin Luther entered into Worms, being sent for by the Emperor Charles the Fifth, who, the first year of his empire, made an assembly of princes in the aforesaid city. And whereas Martin Luther had published three years before, certain propositions to be disputed in the town of Wittenberg, in Saxony, against the tyranny of the pope, (which, notwithstanding, were torn to pieces, condemned, and burned by the papists, and yet by no manifest Scriptures, nor probable reason, convinced,) the matter began to grow to a tumult and uproar; and yet Luther maintained all this while openly his cause against the clergy. Whereupon it seemed good to certain, that Luther should be called; assigning unto him a herald-at-arms, with a letter of safe-conduct by the emperor and princes. Being sent for, he came, and was brought to the knights of the Rhodes' place, where he was lodged, well entertained, and visited of many earls, barons, knights of the order, gentlemen, priests, and the commonalty, who frequented his lodging till night.

To conclude, he came, contrary to the expectation of many, as well adversaries as others. For albeit he was sent for by the emperor's messenger, and had letters of safe-conduct; yet for that a few days before his access, his books were condemned by public proclamation, it was much doubted of by many that he would not come: and the rather, for that his friends deliberated together in a village nigh hand, called Oppenheim (where Luther was first advertised of these occurrents); and many persuaded him not to adventure himself to such a present danger, considering how these beginnings answered not to the faith of promise made. Who, when he had heard their whole persuasion and advice, he answered in this wise: "As touching me, since I am sent for, I am resolved and certainly determined to enter Worms, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; yea, although I knew there were as many devils to resist me, as there are tiles to cover the houses in Worms."

The fourth day after his repair, a gentleman named Ulrick, of Pappenheim, lieutenant-general of the men-at-arms of the empire, was commanded by the emperor before dinner to repair to Luther, and to enjoin him at four o'clock in the afternoon to appear before the imperial Majesty, the princes electors, dukes, and other estates of the empire, to understand the cause of his sending for; whereunto he willingly agreed, as his duty was. And after four o'clock, Ulrick of Pappenheim, and Caspar Sturm, the emperor's herald, (who conducted Martin Luther from Wittenberg to Worms,) came for Luther, and accompanied him through the garden of the knights of the Rhodes' place, to the earl Palatine's palace; and, lest the people should molest him, that thronged in, he was led by secret stairs to the place where he was appointed to have audience. Yet many, who perceived the pretence, violently rushed in, and were resisted, albeit in vain: many ascended the galleries, because they desired to behold Luther.

Thus standing before the emperor, the electors, dukes, earls, and all the estates of empire assembled there, he was first advertised by Ulrick of Pappenheim to keep silence, until such time as he was required to speak. Then John Eckius above mentioned, who then was the bishop of Treves' general official, with a loud and intelligible voice, first in Latin, then in Dutch, according to the emperor's commandment, said and proponed this sentence in manner as ensueth, or like in effect:

"Martin Luther! the sacred and invincible imperial Majesty hath enjoined, by the consent of all the estates of the holy empire, that thou shouldest be appealed before the throne of his Majesty, to the end I might demand of thee these two points.

"First, Whether thou confess these books here, [for he showed a heap of Luther's books written in the Latin and Dutch tongues,] and which are in all places dispersed, entitled with thy name, be thine, and thou dost affirm them to be thine, or not?

"Secondly, Whether thou wilt recant and revoke them, and all that is contained in them, or rather meanest to stand to that thou hast written?"

Then, before Luther prepared to answer, Master Jerome Scurffe, a lawyer at Wittenberg, required that the titles of the books should be read. Forthwith the aforesaid Eckius named certain of the books, and those principally which were imprinted at Basil; among which he nominated his Commentaries upon the Psalter, his book of Good Works, his Commentary upon the Lord's Prayer, and divers other which were not contentious.

After this Luther answered thus in Latin and in Dutch:

"Two things are proponed unto me by the imperial Majesty: First, whether I will avouch for mine all those books that bear my name. Secondly, whether I will maintain or revoke any thing that hitherto I have devised and published: whereunto I will answer as briefly as I can.

"In the first, I can do none other than recognise those books to be mine which lastly were named, and certainly I will never recant any clause thereof. In the second, to declare whether I will wholly defend, or call back any thing comprised in them: forasmuch as there be questions of faith, and the salvation of the soul, (and this concerneth the word of God, which is the greatest and most excellent matter that can be in heaven or earth, and the which we ought duly evermore to reverence,) this might be accounted in me a rashness of judgment, and even a most dangerous attempt, if I would pronounce any thing before I were better advised; considering I might recite something less than the matter importeth, and more than the truth requireth, if I did not premeditate that which I would speak. The which two things well considered, doth set before mine eyes this sentence of our Lord Jesus Christ, wherein it is said, Whosoever shall deny me before men, I will deny him before my Father. I require then for this cause, and humbly beseech the imperial Majesty to grant me, liberty and leisure to deliberate; so that I may satisfy the interrogation made unto me, without prejudice of the word of God, and peril of mine own soul."

Whereupon the princes began to deliberate. This done, Eckius, the prolocutor, pronounced what was their resolution, saying,

"Albeit, Master Luther! thou hast sufficiently understood by the emperor's commandment the cause of thy appearance here, and therefore dost not deserve to have any further respite given thee to determine; yet the emperor's Majesty, of his mere clemency, granteth thee one day to meditate for thine answer, so that to-morrow, at this instant hour, thou shalt repair to exhibit thine opinion, not in writing, but to pronounce the same with lively voice."

This done, Luther was led to his lodging by the herald. But herein I may not be oblivious, that in the way going to the emperor, and when be was in the assembly of princes, he was exhorted by others to be courageous, and manly to demean himself, and not to fear them that kill the body, but not the soul; but rather to dread Him, that is able to send both body and soul to everlasting fire.

Furthermore, he was encouraged with this sentence; When thou art before kings, think not what thou shalt speak, for it shall be given thee in that hour, Matt. x.

The next day, after four o'clock, the herald came and brought Luther from his lodging to the emperor's court, where he abode till six o'clock, for that the princes were occupied in grave consultations; abiding there, and being environed with a great number of people, and almost smothered for the press that was there. Then after, when the princes were set, and Luther entered, Eckius, the official, began to speak in this manner:

"Yesterday, at this hour, the emperor's Majesty assigned thee to be here, Master Luther! for that thou didst affirm those books that we named yesterday to be thine. Further, to the interrogation by us made, whether thou wouldest approve all that is contained in them, or abolish and make void any part thereof, thou didst require time of deliberation, which was granted, and is now expired; albeit thou oughtest not to have opportunity granted to deliberate, considering it was not unknown to thee wherefore we cited thee. And as concerning the matter of faith, every man ought to be so prepared, that at all times, whensoever he shall be required, he may give certain and constant reason thereof; and thou especially, being counted a man of such learning, and so long time exercised in theology. Then go to; answer even now to the emperor's demand, whose bounty thou hast proved in giving thee leisure to deliberate. Wilt thou now maintain all thy books which thou hast acknowledged, or revoke any part of them, and submit thyself?"

The official made this interrogation in Latin and in Dutch. Martin Luther answered in Latin and in Dutch in this wise, modestly and lowly, and yet not without some stoutness of stomach, and Christian constancy; so that his adversaries would gladly have had his courage more humbled and abased, but yet more earnestly desired his recantation; whereof they were in some good hope, when they heard him desire respite of time to make his answer.

His answer was this:

"Most magnificent emperor, and you most noble princes, and my most gentle lords! I appear before you here at this hour prescribed unto me yesterday, yielding the obedience that I owe; humbly beseeching, for God's mercy, your most renowned Majesty, and your Graces and Honours, that ye will minister to me this courtesy, to attend this cause benignly, which is the cause (as I trust) of justice and verity; and if by ignorance I have not given unto every one of you your just titles, or if I have not observed the ceremonies and countenances of the court, offending against them; it may please you to pardon me of your benignities, as one that only hath frequented cloisters, and not courtly civilities. And first, as touching myself, I can affirm or promise no other thing but only this: that I have taught hitherto, in simplicity of mind, that which I have thought to tend to God's glory, and to the salvation of men's souls.

"Now, as concerning the two articles objected by your most excellent Majesty, Whether I would acknowledge those books which were named, and be published in my name; or whether I would maintain and not revoke them: I have given resolute answer to the first, in the which I persist, and shall persevere for evermore, that these books be mine, and published by me in my name; unless it hath since happened, by some fraudulent misdealing of mine enemies, there be any thing foisted into them, or corruptly corrected. For I will acknowledge nothing but that I have written, and that which I have written I will not deny.

"Now to answer to the second article; I beseech your most excellent Majesty, and your Graces, to vouchsafe to give ear. All my books are not of one sort: there be some in which I have so simply and soundly declared and opened the religion of Christian faith, and of good works, that my very enemies are compelled to confess them to be profitable and worthy to be read of all Christians. And truly the pope's bull (how cruel and tyrannous soever it be) judgeth certain of my books inculpable; albeit the same, with severe sentence, thundereth against me, and with monstrous cruelty condemneth my books: which books if I should revoke, I might worthily be thought to neglect and transgress the office of a true Christian, and to be one alone that repugneth the public confession of all people. There is another sort of my books which containeth invectives against the papacy, and others of the pope's retinue, as have, with their pestiferous doctrine, and pernicious examples, corrupted the whole state of our Christianity; neither can any deny or dissemble this, (whereunto universal experience and common complaint of all bear witness,) that the consciences of all faithful men be most miserably entrapped, vexed, and cruelly tormented by the pope's laws and doctrines of men; also that the goods and substance of Christian people are devoured, especially in this noble and famous country of Germany; and yet, without order, and in most detestable manner, are suffered still to be devoured without all measure, by incredible tyranny; notwithstanding that they themselves have ordained to the contrary in their own proper laws, as in the 9th and 25th distinctions, and in the 1st and 2nd questions; where they themselves have decreed, that all such laws of popes which be repugnant to the doctrines of the gospel, and the opinions of the ancient fathers, are to be judged erroneous, and reproved. If then I shall revoke these, I can do none other but add more force to their tyrannny, and open not only windows, but wide gates to their impiety, which is like to extend more wide, and more licentiously, than ever it durst heretofore. And by the testimony of this my retraction, their insolent kingdom shall be made more licentious, and less subject to punishment, intolerable to the common people, and also more confirmed and established; especially if this be bruited, that I, Luther, have done this by the authority of your most excellent Majesty, and the sacred Roman empire. O Lord! what a cover or shadow shall I be then, to cloak their naughtiness and tyranny. The rest, or third sort of my books, are such as I have written against certain private and singular persons; to wit, against such as with tooth and nail labour to maintain the Romish tyranny, and to deface the true doctrine and religion which I have taught and professed, As touching these, I plainly confess, I have been more vehement than my religion and profession required. For I make myself no saint, and I dispute not of my life, but of the doctrine of Christ. And these I cannot without prejudice call back. For by this recantation it will come to pass, that tyranny and impiety shall reign, supported by my means; and so shall they exercise cruelty against God's people more violently and ragingly than before. Nevertheless, for that I am a man, and not God, I can none otherwise enterprise to defend my books, than did my very Lord Jesus Christ defend his doctrine; who, being examined of his learning before Annas, and having received a buffet of the minister, said, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, John xviii. If the Lord, who was perfect and could not err, refused not to have testimony given against his doctrine, yea, of a most vile servant, how much the more then I, that am but vile corruption, and can of myself do nothing but err, ought earnestly to see and require if any will bear witness against my doctrine. Therefore I require, for God's mercy, your most excellent Majesty, your Graces and right honourable Lordships, or whatsoever he be of high or low degree, here to lay in his testimony, to convict my errors, and confute me by the Scriptures, either out of the prophets, or the apostles; and I will be most ready, if I be so instructed, to revoke any manner of error; yea, and will be the first that shall consume mine own books and burn them.

"I suppose hereby it may appear, that I have perpended and well weighed before the perils and dangers, the divisions and dissensions, which have arisen throughout the whole world by reason of my doctrine, whereof I was vehemently and sharply yesterday admonished: concerning which divisions of men's minds what other men do judge I know not; as touching myself, I conceive no greater delectation in any thing, than when I behold discords and dissensions stirred up for the word of God; for such is the course and proceeding of the gospel: Jesus Christ saith, I came not to send peace but a sword; I came to set a man at variance with his father, Matt. x.

"And further, we must think, that our God is marvellous and terrible in his counsels; lest perhaps that which we endeavour with earnest study to achieve and bring to pass, (if we begin first with condemning of his word,) the same rebound again to a huge sea of evil; and lest the new reign of this young and bounteous Prince Charles, (in whom, next after God, we all conceive singular hope,) be lamentably, unfortunately, and miserably begun. I could exemplify this with authorities of the Scriptures more effectually, as by Pharaoh, the king of Babylon, and the kings of Israel, who then most obscured the bright sun of their glory, and procured their own ruin, when by sage counsels they attempted to pacify and establish their governments and realms, and not by God's counsels; for it is he that entrappeth the wily in their wiliness, and subverteth mountains before they be aware. Wherefore it is good, and God's work, to dread the Lord.

"I speak not this, supposing that such politic and prudent heads have need of my doctrine and admonition, but because I would not omit to profit my country, and offer my duty or service, that may tend to the advancement of the same. And thus I humbly commend me to your most excellent Majesty, and your honourable Lordships; beseeching you that I may not incur your displeasures, neither be contemned of you, through the pursuit of my adversaries. I have spoken."

These words pronounced, then Eckius, the emperor's prolocutor, with a stern countenance, began and said, that Luther had not answered to any purpose; neither it behoved him to call in question things in time past, concluded and defined by general councils; and therefore they required of him a plain and direct answer, whether he would revoke or no? -- Then Luther said:

"Considering your sovereign Majesty, and your Honours, require a plain answer; this I say and profess as resolutely as I may, without doubting or sophistication, that if I be not convinced by testimonies of the Scriptures, and by probable reasons, (for I believe not the pope, neither his general councils, which have erred many times, and have been contrary to themselves,) my conscience is so bound and captived in these Scriptures and word of God which I have alleged, that I will not, nor may not, revoke any manner of thing; considering it is not godly or lawful to do any thing against conscience, Hereupon I stand and rest: I have not what else to say. God have mercy upon me!"

The princes consulted together upon this answer given by Luther; and when they had diligently examined the same, the prolocutor began to repel him thus:

"Martin, thou hast more immodestly answered than beseemed thy person, and also little to the purpose. Thou dividest thy books into three sorts, in such order as all that thou hast said maketh nothing to the interrogation proponed: and therefore, if thou hadst revoked those wherein the greatest part of thine errors is contained, the emperor's Majesty, and the noble clemency of others, would have suffered the rest that be sound, to sustain no injury. But thou dost revive, and bringest to light again, all that the general council of Constance hath condemned, the which was assembled of all the nation of Germany, and now dost require to be convinced with Scriptures; wherein thou errest greatly. For what availeth it to renew disputation of things so long time past condemned by the church and councils, unless it should be necessary to give a reason to every man of every thing that is concluded? Now were it so, that this should be permitted to every one that gainstandeth the determination of the church and councils, that he may once get this advantage, to be convinced by the Scriptures, we shall have nothing certain and established in Christendom. And this is the cause wherefore the emperor's Majesty requireth of thee a simple answer, either negative or affirmative, whether thou mindest to defend all thy works as Christian, or no?"

Then Luther, turning to the emperor and the nobles, besought them not to force or compel him to yield against his conscience, confirmed with the Holy Scriptures, without manifest arguments alleged to the contrary by his adversaries.

"I have declared and rendered," said he, "mine answer simply and directly, neither have I any more to say, unless mine adversaries, with true and sufficient probations grounded upon the Scripture, can reduce and resolve my mind, and refel mine errors which they lay to my charge. I am tied, as I said, by the Scriptures; neither may I, or can, with a safe conscience assent unto them. For, as touching general councils, with whose authority only they press me, I am able to prove, that they have both erred, and have defined many times things contrary to themselves. And therefore the authority of them," he said, "not to be sufficient, for the which he should call back those things, the verity whereof standeth so firm and manifest in the Holy Scripture, that neither of him it ought to be required, neither could he so do without impiety."

Whereunto the official again answered, denying that any man could prove the councils to have erred. But Luther alleged that he could, and promised to prove it; and now night approaching, the lords rose and departed. And after Luther had taken his leave of the emperor, divers Spaniards scorned and scoffed the good man in the way going toward his lodging, hallooing and whooping after him a long while.

Upon the Friday following, when the princes electors, dukes, and other estates were assembled, the emperor sent to the whole body of the council a certain letter, containing in effect as followeth:

"Our predecessors, who were truly Christian princes, were obedient to the Romish Church, which Martin Luther presently impugneth. And therefore, inasmuch as he is not determined to call back his errors in any one point, we cannot, without great infamy and stain of honour, degenerate from the examples of our elders, but will maintain the ancient faith, and give aid to the see of Rome. And further, we be resolved to pursue Martin Luther and his adherents, by excommunications, and other means that may be devised, to extinguish his doctrine. Nevertheless we will not violate our faith, which we have promised him, but mean to give order for safe return to the place whence he came."

he princes electors, dukes, and other estates of the empire, sat and consulted upon this sentence, on Friday all the afternoon, and Saturday the whole day, so that Luther yet had no answer of the emperor.

During this time, divers princes, earls, barons, knights of the order, gentlemen, priests, monks, with other the laity and common sort, visited him. All these were present at all hours in the emperor's court, and could not be satisfied with the sight of him. Also there were bills set up, some against Luther, and some, as it seemed, with him. Notwithstanding many supposed, and especially such as well conceived the matter, that this was subtilly done by his enemies, that thereby occasion might be offered to infringe the safe-conduct given him; the which the Roman ambassadors with all diligence endeavoured to bring to pass.

The Monday following, before supper, the archbishop of Treves advertised Luther, that on Wednesday next he should appear before him, at nine o'clock before dinner, and assigned him the place. On St. George's day, a certain chaplain of the archbishop of Treves, about supper-time, came to Luther by the commandment of the bishop, signifying, that at that hour and place prescribed, he must, the morrow after, have access to his master.

The morrow after St. George's day, Luther, obeying the archbishop's commandment, entered his palace, being accompanied thither with his said chaplain, and one of the emperor's heralds, and such as came in his company out of Saxony to Worms, with other his chief friends.

Whereat Dr. Væus, the marquis of Baden's chaplain, began to declare and protest, in the presence of the archbishop of Treves, Joachim, marquis of Brandenburg, George, duke of Saxony, the bishops of Augsburg and Brandenburg, the earl George, John Bock of Strasburg, Verdeheymer and Peutiger, doctors,

That Luther was not called to be conferred with, or to disputation, but only that the princes had procured licence of the emperor's Majesty, through Christian charity, to have liberty granted unto them to exhort Luther benignly and brotherly. -- He said further, that albeit the councils had ordained divers things, yet they had not determined contrary matters. And albeit they had greatly erred, yet their authority was not therefore abased; or at the least, not so erred, that it was lawful for every man to impugn their opinions; inferring moreover many things of Zaccheus and the centurion, also of the traditions, and of constitutions, and of ceremonies ordained of men: affirming that all these were established to repress vices, according to the quality of times; and that the church could not be destitute of human constitutions. It is true, said he, that by the fruits the tree may be known; yet of these laws and decrees of men, many good fruits have proceeded; and St. Martin, St. Nicholas, and many other saints have been present at the councils.

Moreover, that Luther's book would breed a great tumult and incredible troubles; and that he abused the common sort with his book of Christian Liberty, encouraging them to shake off their yoke, and to confirm in them a disobedience: that the world now was at another stay, than when the believers were all of one heart and soul, and therefore it was requisite and behoveful to have laws. It was to be considered, said he, albeit he had written many good things, and no doubt of a good mind, as De triplice Justitia, and other matters, yet how the devil now, by crafty means, goeth about to bring to pass, that all his works for ever should be condemned. For by these books which he wrote last, men, said he, would judge and esteem him, as the tree is known, not by the blossom, but by the fruit.

Here he added something of the noon devil, and of the spirit coming in the dark, and of the flying arrow. All his oration was exhortatory, full of rhetorical places of honesty, of utility of laws, of the dangers of conscience, and of the common and particular wealth; repeating oft this sentence in the proem, middle, and epilogue of his oration: That this admonition was given him of a singular good will, and great clemency. In the shutting up of his oration he added menacings, saying, that if he would abide in his purposed intent, the emperor would proceed further, and banish him from the empire; persuading him deliberately to ponder, and to advise these and other things. Martin Luther answered:

"Most noble princes, and my most gracious lords! I render most humble thanks for your benignities and singular good wills, whence proceedeth this admonition; for I know myself to be so base, as by no means I can deserve to be admonished of so mighty estates." Then he frankly pronounced that he had not reproved all councils, but only the council of Constance; and for this principal cause, for that the same had condemned the word of God, which appeared in the condemnation of this article proponed by John Huss: "The church of Christ is the communion of the predestinate." "It is evident," said he, "that the council of Constance abolished this article, and consequently the article of our faith: I believe the holy church universal." And said, that he was ready to spend life and blood, so he were not compelled to revoke the manifest word of God; for in defence thereof we ought rather to obey God than men: and that in this he could not avoid the scandal or offence of faith; for there be two manner of offences, to wit, of charity, and of faith. The slander of charity consisteth in manners and in life: the offences of faith or doctrine rest in the word of God: and as touching this last, he could escape it no manner of ways; for it lay not in his power to make Christ not to be a stone of offence. If Christ's sheep were fed with pure pasture of the gospel; if the faith of Christ were sincerely preached, and if there were good ecclesiastical magistrates, who duly would execute their office; we should not need, said he, to charge the church with men's traditions. Further, that he knew well we ought to obey the magistrates and higher powers, how unjustly and perversely soever they lived: we ought also to be obedient to their laws and judgment: all which he had taught, said he, in all his works; adding further, that he was ready to obey them in all points, so that they enforced him not to deny the word of God.

These words finished, Luther was bade to stand aside, and the princes consulted what answer they might give him. This done, they called him into a parlour, where the aforesaid Doctor Væus repeated his former matters, admonishing Luther to submit his writings to the emperor, and to the princes' judgment. Luther answered humbly and modestly,

That he could not, neither would, permit that men should say he would shun the judgment of the emperor, princes, and superior powers of the empire. So far was it off that he would refuse to stand their trial, that he was contented to suffer his writings to be discussed, considered, and judged of the simplest, so that it were done with the authority of the word of God, and the Holy Scripture: and that the word of God made so much for him, and was so manifest unto him, that he could not give place, unless they could confound his doctrine by the word of God. This lesson, said he, he learned of St. Augustine, who writeth, that he gave this honour only to those books which are called canonical; that he believed the same only to be true. As touching other doctors, albeit in holiness and excellency of learning they passed, yet he would not credit them further than they agreed with the touchstone of God's word. Further, said he, St. Paul giveth us a lesson, writing to the Thessalonians: Prove all things, follow that is good. And to the Galatians: Though an angel should descend from heaven, if he preach any other doctrine, let him be accursed, and therefore not to be believed!

Finally, he meekly besought them not to urge his conscience, captived in the bands of the word of God and Holy Scripture, to deny the same excellent word. And thus he commended his cause and himself to them, and especially to the emperor's Majesty, requiring their favour, that he might not be compelled to do any thing in this matter against his conscience: in all other causes he would submit himself, with all kind of obedience and due subjection.

As Luther had thus ended his talk, Joachim, elector, marquis of Brandenburg, demanded if his meaning was this, that he would not yield, unless he were convinced by the Scripture?" Yea, truly, right noble lord!" quoth Luther, "or else by ancient and evident reasons." And so the assembly brake, and the princes repaired to the emperor's court.

After their departure the archbishop of Treves, accompanied with a few his familiars, namely, John Eckius his official, and Cochleus, commanded Luther to repair into his parlour. With Luther was Jerome Scurffe, and Nicholas Ambsdorff, for his assistants. Then the official began to frame an argument, like a sophist and canonist, defending the pope's cause; that for the most part at all times Holy Scriptures have engendered errors, as the error of Helvidius the heretic, out of that place in the gospel, where is expressed, Joseph knew not his wife till she was delivered of her first child. Further, he went about to overthrow this proposition: that the catholic church is the communion of saints.

Martin Luther and Jerome Scurffe reproved (but modestly) these follies, and other vain and ridiculous matters, which Eckius brought forth, as things not serving to the purpose. Sometime Cochleus would come in with his five eggs, and laboured to persuade Luther to desist from his purpose, and utterly to refrain thenceforth to write or teach; and so they departed.

About evening the archbishop of Treves advertised Luther by Ambsdorff, that the emperor's promise made unto him was prolonged two days, and in the mean season he would confer with him the next day, and for that cause he would send Peutinger, and the doctor of Baden, (which was Væus,) the morrow after to him; and he himself would also talk with him.

The Friday after, which was St. Mark's day, Peutinger, and the doctor of Baden, travailed in the forenoon to persuade Luther simply and absolutely to submit the judgment of his writings to the emperor and empire. He answered, he would do it, and submit any thing they would have him, so they grounded with authority of Holy Scripture; otherwise he would not consent to do any thing: for God said by his prophet, (saith he,) Trust ye not in princes, nor in the children of men, in whom there is no health. Also, Cursed be he that trusteth in man. And seeing that they did urge him more vehemently, he answered, "We ought to yield no more to the judgment of men, than the word of God doth suffer." So they departed, and prayed him to advise for better answer; and said, they would return after dinner. And after dinner they returned, exhorting him as before, but in vain. They prayed him, that at least he would submit his writing to the judgment of the next general council. Luther agreed thereunto, but with this condition, that they themselves should present the articles collected out of his books to be submitted to the council, in such sort, as, notwithstanding the sentence awarded by the council, should be authorized by the Scripture, and confirmed with the testimonies of the same.

They then, leaving Luther, departed, and reported to the archbishop of Treves, that he had promised to submit his writings in certain articles to the next council, and in the mean space he would keep silence; which Luther never thought: who neither with admonitions, nor yet menaces, could be induced to deny or submit his books to the judgments of men, (he had so fortified his cause with clear and manifest authorities of the Scripture,) until they could prove by sacred Scripture and apparent reasons to the contrary.

It chanced then by the special grace of God, that the archbishop of Treves sent for Luther, thinking presently to hear him. And when he perceived otherwise than Peutinger and the doctor of Baden had told him, he said that he would for no good, but that he had heard himself speak; for else he was even now going to the emperor, to declare what the doctors had reported.

Then the archbishop entreated Luther, and conferred with him very gently, first removing such as were present, as well of the one side as of the other. In this conference Luther concealed nothing from the archbishop; affirming, that it was dangerous to submit a matter of so great importance to them, who, after they had called him under safe-conduct, attempting him with new commandments, had condemned his opinion and approved the pope's bull.

Moreover the archbishop, bidding a friend of his draw nigh, required Luther to declare what remedy might be ministered to help this. Luther answered, that there was no better remedy than such as Gamaliel alleged in the fifth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, as witnesseth St. Luke, saying, If this counsel, or this work, proceed of men, it shall come to nought; but if it be of God, ye cannot destroy it. And so he desired that the emperor might be advertised to write the same to the pope, that he knew certainly, if this his enterprise proceeded not of God, it would be abolished within three, yea, within two years.

The archbishop inquired of him what he would do, if certain articles were taken out of his books, to be submitted to the general council. Luther answered, "So that they be not those which the council of Constance condemned." The archbishop said, "I fear they will be the very same; but what then?" Luther replied, "I will not, nor I cannot, hold my peace of such, for I am sure by their decrees the word of God was condemned; therefore I will rather lose head and life, than abandon the manifest word of my Lord God."

Then the archbishop, seeing Luther would in no wise give over the word of God to the judgment of men, gently bade Luther farewell; who at that instant prayed the archbishop to entreat the emperor's Majesty to grant him gracious leave to depart. He answered, he would take order for him, and speedily advertise him of the emperor's pleasure.

Within a small while after, John Eckius, the archbishop's official, in the presence of the emperor's secretary, who had been Maximilian's chancellor, said unto Luther in his lodging, by the commandment of the emperor: that since he had been admonished diversely of the imperial Majesty, the electors, princes, and estates of the empire, and that, notwithstanding, he would not return to unity and concord, there remained that the emperor, as advocate of the catholic faith, should proceed further: and it was the emperor's ordinance, that he should in twenty-one days return boldly under safe-conduct, and be safely guarded to the place whence he came; so that in the mean while he stirred no commotion among the people in his journey, either in conference, or by preaching.

Luther, hearing this, answered very modestly and Christianly, "Even as it hath pleased God, so is it come to pass; the name of the Lord be blessed! "He said further, he thanked most humbly the emperor's Majesty, and all the princes and estates of the empire, that they had given to him benign and gracious audience, and granted safe-conduct to come and return. Finally, he said, he desired none other of them, than a reformation according to the sacred word of God, and consonancy of Holy Scriptures, which effectually in his heart he desired: otherwise he was pressed to suffer all chances for the imperial Majesty, as life, and death, goods, fame, and reproach; reserving nothing to himself, but the only word of God, which he would constantly confess to the latter end; humbly recommending him to the emperor's Majesty, and to all the princes and other estates of the sacred empire.

The morrow after, which was the six and twentieth day of April, after he had taken his leave of such as supported him, and other, his benevolent friends that oftentimes visited him, and had broken his fast, at ten of the clock he departed from Worms, accompanied with such as repaired thither with him; having space of time Iimited unto him, as is said, for one and twenty days, and no more. The emperor's herald, Casper Sturm, followed and overtook him at Oppenheim, being commanded by the emperor to conduct him safely home.


The usual prayer of Martin Luther.

"Confirm, O God! in us that thou hast wrought, and perfect the work that thou hast begun in us, to thy glory: so be it."

Martin Luther, thus being dismissed of the emperor, according to the promise of his safe-conduct made, as you have heard, departed from Worms toward his country, the six and twentieth of April, accompanied with the emperor's herald, and the rest of his company, having only one and twenty days to him granted for his return, and no more. In the which mean space of his return he writeth to the emperor, and to other nobles of the empire, repeating briefly to them the whole action and order of things there done, desiring of them their lawful good will and favour; which, as he hath always stood in need of, so now he most earnestly craveth, especially in this, that his cause, which is not his, but the cause of the whole church universal, may be heard with indifferency and equity, and may be decided by the rule and authority of Holy Scripture: signifying moreover, that whensoever they shall please to send for him, he shall be ready at their commandment, at any time or place, upon their promise of safety, to appear, &c.

During the time of these doings, the doctors and schoolmen of Paris were not behind with their parts, but, to show their cunning, condemned the books of Luther, extracting out of the same, especially out of the book De Captivitate Babylonica, certain articles as touching the sacraments, laws, and decrees of the church, equality of works, vows, contrition, absolution, satisfaction, purgatory, freewill, privileges of holy church, councils, punishment of heretics, philosophy, school-divinity, with other more. Unto whom Philip Melancthon maketh answer, and also Luther himself, albeit pleasantly and jestingly.

Illustration -- Portrait of Philip Melancthon

It was not long after this, but Charles, the new emperor, to purchase favour with the pope, (because he was not yet confirmed in his empire,) provideth and directeth out a solemn writ of outlawry against Luther, and all them that take his part; commanding the said Luther, wheresoever he might be gotten, to be apprehended, and his books burned. By which decree, proclaimed against Luther, the emperor procured no small thank with the pope; insomuch that the pope, ceasing to take part with the French king, joined himself wholly to the emperor. In the mean time Duke Frederic, to give some place for the time to the emperor's proclamation, conveyed Luther a little out of sight secretly, by the help of certain noblemen whom he well knew to be faithful and trusty unto him in that behalf. There Luther, being close and out of company, wrote divers epistles, and certain books also, unto his friends; among which he dedicated one to his company of Augustine friars, entitled, De abroganda Missa: which friars the same time being encouraged by him, began first to lay down their private masses. Duke Frederic, fearing lest that would breed some great stir or tumult, caused the censure and judgment of the whole university of Wittenberg to be asked in the matter; committing the doing thereof to four; Justus Jonas, Philip Melancthon, Nicholas Ambsdorff, Johannes Dulcius.

The minds of the whole university being searched, it was showed to the duke, that he should do well and godly, by the whole advice of the learned there, to command the use of the mass to be abrogated through his dominion: and though it could not be done without tumult, yet that was no let why the course of true doctrine should be stayed for the multitude, which commonly overcometh the better part; neither ought such disturbance to be imputed to the doctrine taught, but to the adversaries, which willingly and wickedly kick against the truth, whereof Christ also giveth us forewarning before. For fear of such tumults therefore, we ought not to surcease from that which we know is to be done, but constantly must go forward in defence of God's truth, howsoever the world doth esteem us, or rage against it. Thus showed they their judgment to Duke Frederic.

It happened moreover about the same year and time, that King Henry also, pretending an occasion to impugn the book De Captivitate Babylonica, wrote against Luther. In which book, first, he reproveth Luther's opinion about the pope's pardons; secondly, he defended the supremacy of the bishop of Rome; thirdly, he laboureth to refel all his doctrine of the sacraments of the church.

This book, albeit it carried the king's name in the title, yet it was another that ministered the motion, another that framed the style. But whosoever had the labour of this book, the king had the thank and also the reward; for consequently upon the same, the bishop of Rome gave to the said King Henry, for the style against Luther, the style and title of "Defender of the Christian Faith;" and to his successors for ever.

Shortly after this, within the compass of the same year, Pope Leo, after he had warred against the Frenchmen, and had gotten from them, through the emperor's aid, the cities of Parma, Placentia, and Milan, &c., he, sitting at supper, and rejoicing at three great gifts that God had bestowed upon him: first, that he, being banished out of his country, was restored to Florence again with glory; secondly, that he had deserved to be called apostolic; thirdly, that he had driven the Frenchmen out of Italy: after he had spoken these words, he was stricken with a sudden fever, and died shortly after, being of the age of forty-seven years; albeit some suspect that he died of poison. Successor to whom was Pope Adrian the Sixth, schoolmaster some time to Charles the emperor, who lived not much above one year and a half in his papacy; during whose small time these three especial things were incident: a great pestilence in Rome, wherein above a hundred thousand people were consumed; the loss of Rhodes by the Turk; and thirdly, the capital war which the said Pope Adrian, with the emperor, and the Venetians, and the king of England, did hold against Francis the French king. This Pope Adrian was a German born, brought up at Louvain, and as in learning he exceeded the common sort of popes, so in moderation of life and manners he seemed not altogether so intemperate as some other popes have been: and yet, like a right pope, nothing degenerating from his see, he was a mortal enemy against Martin Luther and his partakers. In his time, shortly after the council of Worms was broken up, another meeting or assembly was appointed by the emperor at Nuremberg, of the princes, nobles, and states of Germany, A.D. 1522.


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