148. ASSEMBLY AT NUREMBERG
Unto this assembly the said Adrian sent his letters in manner of a brief, with an instruction also unto his legate Cheregatus, to inform him how to proceed, and what causes to allege against Luther, before the princes there assembled. His letter, with the instruction sent, because they are so hypocritically shadowed over with a fair show and colour of painted zeal and religion, and beareth resemblance of great truth and care of the church, able to deceive the outward ears of them which are not inwardly in true religion instructed: I thought therefore to give to the reader a sight thereof, to the intent that by the experience of them he may learn hereafter, in cases like, to be prudent and circumspect in not believing over-rashly the smooth talk or pretended persuasions of men, especially in church matters, unless they carry with them the simplicity of plain truth; going not upon terms, but grounded upon the word and revealed will of God, with particular demonstrations, proving that by the Scripture which they pretend to persuade. First, the letter of this pope, conceived and directed against Luther, proceedeth in this effect:
"Right honourable brethren, and dear children, greeting and apostolic benediction. After that we were first promoted (through God's divine providence) to the office of the see apostolic, he which hath so advanced us is our witness, how we, both day and night revolving in our minds, did cogitate nothing more than how to satisfy the parts of a good pastor, in attending to the health and cure of the flock, both universally and singularly committed unto us: so that there is no one particular sheep through the whole universal flock so infected, so sick, or so far gone astray, whom our desire is not to recover, to seek out, and to reduce into the Lord's fold again. And chiefly, from the first beginning of our pastoral function, our care hath always been, as well by our messengers, as our daily letters, how to reclaim the minds of Christian princes from these intestine wars and dissensions among themselves to peace and concord; or at least, if they would needs fight, that they would convert their strength and armour against the common enemies of our faith. And to declare this not only in word, but rather in deed, God doth know with what charges and expenses we have burdened ourselves, to extend our subsidy and relief to the soldiers of Rhodes for defence of themselves, and of the Christian faith, against the Turkish tyranny, by whom they were besieged.
"And now, to bend our care from these foreign matters, and to consider our inward troubles at home, we hear, to the great grief of our heart, that Martin Luther, a new raiser-up of old and damnable heresies, first after the fatherly advertisements of the see apostolic; then after the sentence also of condemnation awarded against him, and that by the assent and consent of the best learned, and of sundry universities also; and lastly, after the imperial decree of our well-beloved son Charles, elect emperor of the Romans, and catholic king of Spain, being divulged through the whole nation of Germany; yet hath neither been by order restrained, nor of himself hath refrained from his madness begun, but daily more and more, forgetting and contemning all Christian charity and godliness, ceaseth not to disturb and replenish the world with new books, fraught full of errors, heresies, contumelies, and sedition, (whether upon his own head, or by the help of other,) and to infect the country of Germany, and other regions about, with this pestilence; and endeavoureth still to corrupt simple souls and manners of men, with the poison of his pestiferous tongue. And (which is worst of all) hath for his favourers and supporters, not of the vulgar sort only, but also divers personages of the nobility; insomuch that they have begun also to invade the goods of priests (which perhaps is the chief ground of this stir begun) contrary to their obedience which they owe to ecclesiastical and temporal persons, and now also at last have grown unto civil war and dissension among themselves. Which thing how unfortunately it falleth out now, at this present season, especially amongst us Christians, you may soon repute with yourselves, and consider. For although the apostle hath told us before, That heresies must needs be, that they which be tried may be made manifest, &c., yet was there never time either so convenient to raise up heresies, or so necessary for the repressing thereof when any such are raised, as now: For whereas the devil, the perpetual enemy of mankind, roaring in the shape of a lion, by the power of the Turks doth continually invade the flock of Christ; how can we then resist the violent invasions of him oppressing us without, so long as we nourish at home the same devil, under the colour of a wily dragon, sowing such heresies, discords, and seditious among ourselves? And albeit it were in our power easily to vanquish these foreign adversaries, yet were that but labour lost, serving to no profit, to subdue our enemies without, and at home with heresies and schisms to be divided.
"We remember, before the time of our papacy, when we were in Spain, many things we heard then of Luther, and of his perverse doctrine; which rumours and tidings, although of themselves they were grievous to be heard, yet more grievous they were for this, because they proceeded out of that country, where we ourself, after the flesh, took our first beginning. But yet this comfort we had, supposing that either for the iniquity, or else for the foolishness thereof being so manifest, this doctrine would not long hold; reputing thus with ourself, that such pestiferous plants, translated from other countries into Germany, would never grow up to any proof in that ground, which was ever wont to be a weeder out of all heresies and infidelity. But now, since this evil tree (whether by God's judgment correcting the sins of the people, or by the negligence of such as first should have resisted such beginnings) hath so enlarged, and spread his branches so far; you therefore, both princes and people of Germany, must this consider and provide, lest you, which, at the first springing up of this evil, might peradventure be excused, as no doers thereof, now, through this your over-much sufferance, might be found inexcusable, and seem to consent to that which you do not resist.
"Here we omit and pass over, what enormity, and more than enormity, that is, that such a great and so devout a nation should by one friar (who, relinquishing the catholic faith and Christian religion, which he before professed, playeth the apostate, and hath lied to God) be now seduced from that way, whichfirst Christ our Redeemer and his blessed apostles have opened unto us; which so many martyrs, so many holy fathers, so many great, learned men, and also your own fore-elders, and old ancestors, have always hitherto walked in; as though only Luther had all wit and cunning; as though he only now first had received the Holy Ghost (as the heretic Montanus used to boast of himself); or as though the church (from which Christ our Saviour promised himself never to depart) hath erred hitherto always in dark shadows of ignorance and perdition, till now it should be illuminate with new resplendent beams of Luther. All which things there is no doubt but to such as have judgment will seem ridiculous, but yet may be pernicious to simple and ignorant minds; and to other, which being weary of all good order, do gape still for new changes, may breed matter and occasion of such mischiefs, as partly yourselves have experience already. And therefore do you not consider, O princes and people of Germany! that these be but prefaces and preambles to those evils and mischiefs which Luther, with the sect of his Lutherans, do intend and purpose hereafter? Do you not see plainly, and perceive with your eyes, that this defending of the verity of the Gospel, first begun by the Lutherans to be pretended, is now manifest to be but an invention to spoil your goods, which they have long intended? or do you think that these sons of iniquity do tend to any other thing, than under the name of liberty to supplant obedience, and so to open a general licence to every man to do what him listeth? And suppose you that they will any thing regard your commandments, or esteem your laws, which so contemptuously vilipend the holy canons and decrees of the fathers, yea, and the most holy councils also, (to whose authority the emperor's laws have always given room and place,) and not only vilipend them, but also, with a diabolical audacity, have not feared to rend them in pieces, and set them on a lighted fire? They which refuse to render due obedience to priests, to bishops, yea, to the high bishop of all, and which daily before your own faces make their booties of church goods, and of things consecrated to God; think ye that they will refrain their sacrilegious hands from the spoil of laymen's goods? yea, that they will not pluck from you whatsoever they can rap or reave? Finally, to conclude, how can you hope that they will more spare you, or hold their murdering hands from your throats, which have been so bold to vex, to kill, to slay the Lord's anointed, which are not to be touched? Nay, think you not contrary, but this miserable calamity will at length redound upon your goods, your houses, wives, children, dominions, possessions, and these your temples which you hallow and reverence; except you provide some speedy remedy against the same.
"Wherefore we exhort your fraternities, nobilities, and devotions of all and singular in the Lord, and beseech you for Christian charity and religion, (for which religion your forefathers ofttimes have given their blood to uphold and increase the same,) and notwithstanding require you also, in virtue of that obedience which all Christians owe to God, and blessed St. Peter, and to his vicar here in earth, that setting aside all other quarrels and dissensions among yourselves, you confer your helping hands every man to quench this public fire, and endeavour and study, the best way ye can, how to reduce the said Martin Luther, and all other favourers of these tumults and errors, to better conformity and trade both of life and faith. And if they which be infected shall refuse to hear your admonitions, yet provide that the other part, which yet remaineth sound, by the same contagion be not corrupted. He, to whom all secrets of men are open, doth know how we, both for our nature, and also for our pastoral office, whereto we are called, are much more prone to remit, than to revenge. But when this pestiferous canker cannot with supple and gentle medicines be cured, more sharp salves must be proved, and fiery searings. The putrefied members must be cut off from the body, lest the sound parts also be infected. So God did cast down into hell the schismatical brethren, Dathan and Abiram; and him that would not obey the authority of the priest, God commanded to be punished with death. So Peter, prince of the apostles, denounced sudden death to Ananias and Sapphira, who lied unto God. So the old and godly emperors commanded Jovinian and Priscillian, as heretics, to be beheaded. So St. Jerome wished Vigilant, as a heretic, to be given to the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord. So also did our predecessors in the council of Constance condemn to death John Huss and his fellow Jerome, which now appeareth to revive again in Luther. The worthy acts and examples of which forefathers, if you in these doings (seeing otherwise ye cannot) shall imitate, we do not doubt but God's merciful clemency shall eftsoons relieve his church; which, being now sore vexed of infidels, hath her eyes chiefly and principally directed upon you, as being the most puissant and most populous nation that we have in Christendom.
"Wherefore, upon the blessing of Almighty God, and of blessed St. Peter, which here we send unto you, take courage unto you, as well against the false dragon, as the strong lion, that both these, that is, as well the inward heresies, as the foreignenemies, by you being overcome, you may purchase to your honours an immortal victory, both here and in the world to come. This we give you to understand, that whatsoever the Lord hath given us to aid you withal, either in money or authority, we will not fail to support you herein, yea, and to bestow our life also in this holy quarrel, and for the health of our sheep to us committed. Other things as touching the matter of Luther, we have committed to this Cheregatus our legate, whom we have directed purposely for the same unto your assembly, whom we wish you to credit, as being our trusty legate.
"Given at St. Peter's at Rome, under the ring of the fisher, the 25th day of November, A.D. 1522, in the first year of our pontificate."y this letter above prefixed, thou halt, gentle reader! to note and understand, what either wily persuasions or strength of authority could devise against Luther, here not to have lacked. If plausible terms, or glozing sentences, or outward facing and bracing, could have served, where no ground of Scripture is brought, this might seem apparently a pithy epistle. But if a man should require the particulars or the specialties of this doctrine which he here reprehendeth, to be examined and tried by God's word, there is no substance in it, but only words of office, which may seem well to serve for waste paper. And yet I thought to exhibit the said letter unto thee, to the intent that the more thou seest man's strength with all his policy bent against Luther, the more thou mayest consider the almighty power of God, in defending the cause of this poor man against so mighty enemies.
Now hear further what instructions the said Pope Adrian sent to his legate Cheregatus, how and by what reasons to move and inflame the princes of Germany to the destruction of Luther and his cause, and yet was not able to bring it to pass.
Instructions given by Pope Adrian to Cheregatus his legate, touching his proceedings in the diet of Nuremberg, how and by what persuasions to incense the princes against Luther.
"Imprimis, you shall declare to them the great grief of our heart for the prospering of Luther's sect, to see the innumerable souls, redeemed with Christ's blood, and committed to our pastoral government, to be turned away from the true faith and religion into perdition by this occasion; and that especially in the nation of Germany, being our native country, which hath been ever heretofore, till these few years past, most faithful and devout in religion; and therefore our desire to be the greater that this pestilence should be stopped betimes, lest the same happen to that country of Germany, which happened of late to Bohemia. And as for our part, there shall be no lack to help forward what we may; as likewise we desire them to endeavour themselves to the uttermost of their power, whom these causes ought to move, which here we direct unto you to be declared unto them.
"First, the honour of God, which, before all other things, ought to be preferred, whose honour by these heresies is greatly defaced, and his worship not only diminished, but rather wholly corrupted. Also the charity toward our neighbour, by which charity every man is bound to reduce his neighbour out of error; otherwise God will require at their hands all such as by their negligence do perish.
"The second cause to move them against Luther, is the infamy of their nations; which, being counted beforetime always most Christian, now by these sectaries of Luther, is evil spoken of in all other quarters.
"The third cause is the respect of their own honour, which notoriously will be distained, if they which most excel in nobility and authority among the Germans, shall not bend all their power to expel these heresies: first, for that they shall appear to be degenerate from their progenitors, who, being present at the condemnation of John Huss and of other heretics, are said, some of them, with their own hands to have led John Huss to the fire. Secondly, for that they, or the greater part of them, approving with their authority the imperial edict set forth of late in condemnation of Martin Luther, now, except they shall follow the execution of the same, shall be noted inconstant, or may be thought to favour the same; seeing it is manifest, that they may easily exterminate him if they were disposed.
"The fourth cause is the injury wrought by Luther to them, their parents, and progenitors, forasmuch as their fathers, progenitors, and themselves also, have always holden the same faith which the catholic Church of Rome hath appointed; contrary to which faith Luther, with his sectaries, now doth hold, saying, that many things are not to be believed which their aforesaid ancestors have holden to be of faith. It is manifest, therefore, that they be condemned of Luther for infidels and heretics; and so consequently, by Luther's doctrine, all their fore-elders and progenitors which have deceased in this our faith, be in hell; for error in faith importeth damnation.
"The fifth cause to move them is, that they should well advise and consider the end whereunto all these Lutherans do tend; which is, that under the shadow of evangelical liberty, they may abolish all superiority and power. For although, at the first beginning, they pretended only to annul and repress our power ecclesiastical, as being falsely and tyrannously usurped against the gospel; yet, forasmuch as liberty is all their foundation and pretence, (by the which liberty, the secular power and magistrates cannot bind men by any commandments, be they never so just or so reasonable, to obey them under pain of mortal sin,) it is manifest that their scope is to enfeeble and infringe, as much or more, the secular state also, although covertly they pretend to salve it; to the end, that when the secular princes shall believe this their working not to be directed against them, but only against the usurped domination of the church and churchmen, then the laity, (which commonly hath been always against men of the church,) holding with them, shall suffer the churchmen to be devoured; which done, no doubt but, they will afterward practise the like upon the secular princes and potentates, which now they attempt against our ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
"The sixth clause to move and persuade them against Luther is this, for them to consider the fruits which follow of that sect; as slanders, offences, disturbance, robberies, murders, seditions, dissensions, which this sect hath, and daily doth stir up through whole Germany: also blasphemies, slanderous words, scoffings, jests, and bitter taunts, which are ever in their mouths; against which, unless that they shall find a present remedy, it is to be feared lest the desolation of God's wrath will fall upon Germany, being so divided; or rather upon the princes of Germany, who, having the sword given of God into their hands for the suppression of malefactors, suffer such enormities among their subjects. Cursed is he, (saith the prophet,) which doth the work of the Lord negligently, and holdeth back his sword from the blood of wicked doers, Jer. xxviii.
"The seventh reason is, that the princes should consider how Luther useth the same way of seducing the people of Christ, as hath the venomous viper Mahomet practised in deceiving so many thousands of souls, in permitting to them the liberty of those things which flesh desireth, and afterward in exempting them from such things as be more sharp in the law; but that Luther a little more temperately handleth the matter, whereby he may deceive more effectually; for Mahomet giveth licence to have many wives, and to divorce and marry others at their pleasure. This Luther, to draw unto him the favour of nuns, monks, and priests, such as be lascivious in flesh, preacheth that vows of perpetual continency be unlawful, and much less to be obligatory; and therefore permitteth unto them that they may marry; forgetting, by the way, what the apostle writeth of young widows, saying, That when they wax wanton against Christ, then will they marry; having condemnation, because they have made void their first faith, 1 Tim. v. 12.
"These and other such-like reasons being opened and laid before them, you shall then in our name exhort the aforesaid princes, prelates, and people, to awake and employ their diligence how to gainstand, first, the injury of these Lutherans toward God, and toward his holy religion; secondly, their villany toward the whole nation of the Germans and their princes, and especially the shameful contumely towards their fathers and elders, whom in effect they condemn to hell. In consideration whereof you shall call upon them to remember themselves, and to proceed effectually to the execution of the apostolical sentence, and of the emperor's edict; giving pardon to them that will amend and acknowledge their fault: the other, who obstinately persist in their error, punishing with the rod of strict severity, according to the decrees of the canons and laws of the church; that, by their example, such as stand may remain in faith, and they which are fallen may be reduced.
"And if any shall object again, that Luther was condemned by the apostolic see before he was heard, and that his cause ought first to have been heard and adjudged before he was convicted, you shall answer, that those things which pertain to faith are to be believed for their own authority, and not to be proved. 'Take away,' saith Ambrose, 'arguments where faith is sought: there the fishers, not the philosophers, must be trusted.' Truth it is, and we grant no less but that lawful defence and hearing ought not to be denied in such cases, where question is of the fact, whether it were done or not; as whether he spake, preached, wrote, or not. But where the matter is of God's law, or in cause of the sacraments, there must we always stand to the authority of holy fathers, and of the church. Now all things almost, wherein Luther dissenteth from other, are reproved before by divers councils; neither ought those things to be called into question, which have been defined before by general councils, and the universal church; but ought to be received by faith: for else he doth injury to the synod of the church, who so bringeth again into controversy things once rightly discussed and settled. Otherwise what certainty can there be amongst men, or what end shall there be of contending and disputing, if it shall be lawful for every lewd and presumptuous person to decline from the things which havebeen received and ratified by the consent, not of one, nor of a few, but of so many ages, so many wise heads, and of the catholic church, which God never permitteth to err in matters unto faith appertaining? And how can it otherwise be chosen, but that all must be full of disturbance, offences, and confusion, unless the things which have been once, yea, many times, by ripe judgment constituted, be observed of all men as inviolable? Wherefore, seeing Luther and his fellows do condemn the councils of holy fathers, do burn the holy canons, do confound all things at their pleasure, and do disquiet the whole world, what remaineth, but that they are to be rejected and exploded, as enemies and perturbers of public peace?
"Further, this you shall say unto them, that we confess ourselves, and deny not, but that God suffereth this persecution to be inflicted upon his church for the sins of men, especially of priests and prelates of the clergy. For certain it is, that the hand of the Lord is not shortened, that he cannot save; but our sins have divided between God and us; and therefore he hideth his face from us that he will not hear us. The Scripture testifieth, that the sins of the people do issue out from the sins of the priests. 'And therefore,' saith Chrysostom, 'Christ, going about to cure the sick city of Jerusalem, first entered into the temple, to correct the sins of the priests, like a good physician, which first beginneth to cure the disease from the very root.' We know that in this holy see there have been many abominable things of long time wrought and practised; as abuses in matters spiritual, and also excesses in life and manners, and all things turned clean contrary. And no marvel if the sickness, first beginning at the head, that is, at the high bishops, have descended aftewards to inferior prelates. All we (that is, prelates of the church) have declined every one after his own way; neither hath there been one that hath done good, no not one. Wherefore need it is, that all we give glory to God, and that we humble our souls to him, considering every one of us from whence he hath fallen; and that every one do judge himself, before he be judged of God in the rod of his fury. For the redress whereof you shall insinuate unto them, and promise in our behalf, that in us shall be lacking no diligence of a better reformation, first beginning with our own court: that like as, this contagion first from thence descended into all the inferior parts, so reformation and amendment of all that is amiss, from the same place again, shall take his beginning; whereunto they shall find us so much the more ready, for that we see the whole world so desirous of the same. We ourselves, as you know, never sought this dignity, but rather coveted, if we otherwise might, to lead a private life, and in a quiet state to serve God; and also would utterly have refused the same, had not the fear of God, and the manner of our election, and misdoubting of some schism to follow after, have urged us to take it. And thus took we the burden upon us, not for any ambition of dignity, or to enrich our friends and kinsfolks, but only to be obedient to the will of God, and for reformation of the catholic church, and for relief of the poor, and especially for the advancement of learning and learned men, with such other things more as appertaineth to the charge of a good bishop and lawful heir of St. Peter. And though all errors, corruptions, and abuses be not straight-ways amended by us, men ought not thereat to marvel. The sore is great, and far grown, and is not single, but of manifold maladies together compacted; and therefore to the curing thereof we must proceed by little and little, first beginning to cure the greater and the most dangerous, lest, while we intend to amend all, we destroy all. 'All sudden mutations,' saith Aristotle, 'in a commonwealth, are perilous;' and, He that wringeth too hard, straineth out blood, Prov. xxx.
"And whereas in your last letters you wrote, that the princes complain, how this see hath been, and is, prejudicial to their ordinances and agreements, hereunto you shall thus answer: that such excesses, which have been done before our time, ought not to be imputed to us, who always have misliked these derogations; and therefore bid them so assure themselves, that though they had required no such matter, we of our own accord would have refrained the same; partly for that it is good, right, and reason, that every one have that which is due unto him; and partly also that the said noble nation of Germany shall have by us no hinderance, but furtherance rather, so much as in us shall lie to do for them.
"And as touching the processes which they desired to have removed away a rota, and to be referred down to the parties, you shall signify unto them, that we will gratify them herein as much as honestly we may. But because our auditors are now presently absent from the city, by reason of the plague, we cannot be informed as yet touching the quality of those processes. As soon as they shall return, (which we hope will be shortly,) we shall do in the princes' favour what reasonably we may.
"Further: whereas we understand, that there be many fresh, flourishing wits in Germany, and many well-learned men, which are not seen unto, but be rejected and unlooked to, while in the mean time, through the apostolical provisions, dignities and promotions are bestowed upon tapsters anddancers, and unfit persons; we will, therefore, that you inquire out what those learned men are, and what be their names, to the intent that when any such vacation of benefices in Germany doth fall, we, of our voluntary motion, may provide for them accordingly. For why? we consider how much it is against God's glory, and against the health and the edification of souls, that benefices and dignities of the church have now so long time been bestowed upon unworthy and unable persons.
"As touching the subsidy for the Hungarians, we send no other information to you, but that which we gave you at your departure; save only that we will you to extend your diligence therein, as we also will do the like, in soliciting the matter with the princes and cities of Italy, that every one may help after his ability."
These popish suggestions and instructions of the pope himself against Luther, I thought, Christian reader! to set before thine eyes, to the intent thou mayst see here (as in a pattern, and go no farther) all the crimes, objections, exclamations, suspicions, accusations, slanders, offensions, contumelies, rebukes, untruths, cavillations, railings, whatsoever they have devised, or can devise, invent, articulate, denounce, infer, or surmise, against Luther and his teaching. They cry, Heresy, heresy! but they prove no heresy. They cry, Councils, councils! and yet none transgresseth councils more than themselves. If councils go always with Scripture, then Luther goeth with them; if councils do jar sometimes from the Scripture, what heresy is in Luther in standing with Scripture against those councils? And yet neither hath he hitherto spoken against any councils, save only the council of Constance. They inflame kings and princes against Luther, and yet they have no cause wherefore. They accuse him for teaching liberty. If they mean the liberty of the flesh, they accuse him falsely; if they mean the liberty of the spirit, they teach wickedly which teach contrary: and yet when they have all said, none live so licentiously as themselves. They pretend the zeal of the church, but under that church lieth their own private welfare and belly-cheer. They charge Luther with disobedience, and none are so disobedient to magistrates and civil laws as they. They lay to his charge oppression and spoiling of laymen's goods; and who spoileth the laymen's livings so much as the pope? For probation hereof, let the pope's accounts be cast, what he raketh out of every Christian realm. Briefly, turn only the names of the persons, and instead of Luther's name, place the name of the pope, and the effect of this letter above prefixed shall agree upon, none more aptly than upon the pope himself and his own sectaries.
Now to proceed further in the process of this aforesaid matter, let us see what the princes again for their parts answer to these aforesaid suggestions and instructions of Pope Adrian, sent unto them in the diet of Nuremberg, in the cause of Luther: the answer of whom here followeth underwritten:
"The noble and renowned prince Lord Ferdinand, lieutenant to the emperor's Majesty, with other reverend peers in Christ, and mighty princes electors, and other states and orders of this present assembly of the Roman empire in Nuremberg convented, have gratefully received, and diligently perused, the letters sent in form of a brief, with the instructions also of the most holy father in Christ and lord, Lord Adrian, the high bishop of the holy and universal Church of Rome, presented unto them in the cause of Luther's faction. By the which aforesaid letters and writings, first, whereas they understand his Holiness to have been born, and to have had his native origin and parentage out of this noble nation of Germany, they do not a little rejoice. Of whose egregious virtues and ornaments, both of mind and body, they have heard great fame and commendation, even from his tender years: by reason whereof they are so much the more joyous of his advancement and preferment, by such consent of election, to the high top of the apostolical dignity, and yield to God most hearty thanks for the same: praying also, from the bottom of their hearts, for his excellent clemency, and perpetual glory of his name, and for health of souls, and purity of the universal church, that God will give his Holiness long continuance of felicity: having no misdoubt but that by such a full and consenting election of such a pastor of the universal catholic church, great profit and commodity will ensue. Which thing to hope and look for, his Holiness openeth to them an evident declaration in his own letters, testifying and protesting what a care it is to him both day and night, how to discharge his pastoral function, in studying for the health of the flock to him committed; and especially in converting the minds of Christian princes from war to peace. Declaring moreover what subsidy and relief his Holiness hath sent to the soldiers of Rhodes, &c. All which things they, perpending with themselves, conceive exceeding hope and comfort in their minds, thus reputing and trusting that this concord of Christian princes will be a great help and stay to the better quieting of things now out of frame; without which neither the state of the commonwealth nor of Christian religion can be rightly redressed, and much less the tyranny of the barbarous Turks repressed.
"Wherefore the excellent prince, lord lieutenant to the emperor's Majesty, with the other princes electors, and orders of this present assembly, most heartily do pray, that his Holiness will persist in this his purpose and diligence, as he hath virtuously begun, leaving no stone unremoved, how the disagreeing hearts of Christian princes may be reduced to quiet and peace or if that will not be, yet at least some truce and intermission of domestical dissensions may be obtained for the necessity of the time now present, whereby all Christians may join their powers together, with the help of God, to go against the Turk, and to deliver the people of Christ from his barbarous tyranny and bondage; whereunto both the noble prince lord lieutenant, and other princes of Germany, will put to their helping hands, to the best of their ability.
"And whereas by the letters of his Holiness, with his instruction also exhibited unto them by his legate, they understand that his Holiness is afflicted with great sorrow for the prospering of Luther's sect, whereby innumerable souls committed to his charge are in danger of perdition, and therefore his Holiness vehemently desireth some speedy remedy against the same to be provided, with an explication of certain necessary reasons and causes, whereby to move the German princes thereunto; and that they will tender the execution of the apostolic sentence, and also of the emperor's edict set forth touching the suppressing of Luther: To these the lord lieutenant, and other princes and states, do answer, that it is to them no less grief and sorrow than to his Holiness; and also do lament as much for these impieties and perils of souls, and inconveniences which grow in the religion of Christ, either by the sect of Luther, or any otherwise. Further, what help or counsel shall lie in them for the extirpating of errors, and decay of souls' health, what their moderation can do, they are willing and ready to perform; considering how they stand bound and subject, as well to the pope's Holiness, as also to the emperor's Majesty. But why the sentence of the apostolic see, and the emperor's edict against Luther, hath not been put in execution hitherto, there have been (said they) causes great and urgent, which have led them thereto: as first, in weighing and considering with themselves, that great evils and inconveniences would thereupon ensue. For the greatest part of the people of. Germany have always had this persuasion, and now, by reading of Luther's books, are more therein confirmed, that great grievances and inconveniences have come to this nation of Germany by the court of Rome: and therefore, if they should have proceeded with any rigour in executing the pope's sentence, and the emperor's edict, the multitude would conceive and suspect in their minds, this to be done for subverting the verity of the gospel, and for supporting and confirming the former abuses and grievances, whereupon great wars and tumults, no doubt, would have ensued: which thing unto the princes and states there hath been well perceived by many arguments; for the avoiding whereof, they thought to use more gentle remedies, serving more opportunely for the time.
"Again, whereas the reverend lord legate (said they) in the name of the pope's Holiness, hath been instructed, to declare unto them, that God suffereth this persecution to rise in the church for the sins of men, and that his Holiness doth promise therefore to begin the reformation with his own court, that as the corruption first sprang from thence to the inferior parts, so the redress of all again should first begin with the same. Also, whereas his Holiness, of a good and fatherly heart, doth testify in his letters, that he himself did always mislike that the court of Rome should intermeddle so much, and derogate from the concordats of the princes, and that his Holiness doth fully purpose in that behalf, during his papacy, never to practise the like, but so to endeavour, that every one, and especially the nation of the Germans, may have their proper due and right, granting especially to the said nation his peculiar favour: who seeth not by these premises, but that this most holy bishop omitteth nothing which a good father, or a devout pastor, may or ought to do to his sheep? or who will not be moved hereby to a loving reverence, and to amendment of his defaults, namely, seeing his Holiness so intendeth to accomplish the same in deed, which in word he promiseth, according as he hath begun?
"And thus undoubtedly both the noble lord lieutenant, and all other princes and states of the empire, well hope that he will, and pray most heartily that he may do, to the glory of our eternal God, to the health of souls, and to the tranquillity of the public state. For unless such abuses and grievances, with certain other articles also, which the secular princes (assigned purposely for the same) shall draw out in writing, shall be faithfully reformed, there is no true peace and concord between the ecclesiastical and secular estates, nor any true extirpation of this tumult and errors in Germany, that can be hoped. For partly by long wars, partly by reason of other grievances and hinderances, this nation of Germany hath been so wasted and consumed in money, that scarcely it is able to sustain itself in private affairs, and necessary upholding of justice within itself; much less then to minister aid and succour to the kingdom of Hungary, and to the Croatians, against the Turk. And whereas all the states of the sacred Roman empire do not doubt, but the pope's Holiness doth right well understand how the German princes did grant and condescend for the money of annats to be levied to the see of Rome for term of certain years, upon condition that the said money should be converted to maintain war against the Turkish infidels, and for defence of the catholic faith: and whereas the term of these years is now expired longsince, when the said annats should be gathered, and yet that money hath not been so bestowed to that use, whereto it was first granted; therefore if any such necessity should now come, that any public helps or contributions against the Turk should be demanded of the German people, they would answer again, Why is not that money of annats, reserved many years before to that-use, now to be bestowed and applied? and so would they refuse to receive any more such burdens for that cause to be laid upon them.
"Wherefore the said lord lieutenant, and other princes and degrees of the empire, make earnest petition, that the pope's Holiness will with a fatherly consideration expend the premises, and surcease hereafter to require such annats, which are accustomed after the death of bishops and other prelates, or ecclesiastical persons, to be paid to the court of Rome, and suffer them to remain to the chamber of the empire, whereby justice and peace may be more commodiously administered, the tranquillity of the public state of Germany maintained; and also, by the same, due helps may be ordained and disposed to other Christian potentates in Germany, against the Turk, which otherwise without the same is not to be hoped for.
"Item, Whereas the pope's Holiness desireth to be informed, what way were best to take in resisting these errors of the Lutherans: to this the lord lieutenant, with other princes and nobles, do answer, that whatsoever help or counsel they can devise, with willing hearts they will be ready thereunto. Seeing therefore the state, as well ecclesiastical as temporal, is far out of frame, and have so much corrupted their ways; and seeing not only of Luther's part, and of his sect, but also by divers other occasions besides, so many errors, abuses, and corruptions have crept in; much requisite and necessary it is, that some effectual remedy be provided, as well for redress of the church, as also for repressing the Turk's tyranny. Now what more present or effectual remedy can be had, the lord lieutenant, with other estates and princes, do not see, than this, that the pope's Holiness, by the consent of the emperor's Majesty, do summon a free Christian council in some convenient place of Germany, as at Strasburg, or at Mentz, or at Cologne, or at Metz; and that with as much speed as conveniently may be, so that the congregating of the said council be not deferred above one year in the which council it may be lawful for every person that there shall have interest, either temporal or ecclesiastical, freely to speak and consult, to the glory of God, and health of souls, and the public wealth of Christendom, without impeachment or restraint; whatsoever oath or other bond to the contrary notwithstanding; yea, and it shall be every good man's part there to speak, not only freely, but to speak that which is true, to the purpose, and to edifying, and not to pleasing or flattering, but simply and uprightly to declare his judgment, without all fraud or guile. And as touching by what ways these errors and tumults of the German people may best be stayed and pacified in the mean time, until the council be set, the aforesaid lord lieutenant, with the other princes, thereupon have consulted and deliberated; that forasmuch as Luther, and certain of his fellows, be within the territory and dominion of the noble Duke Frederic, the said lord lieutenant and other states of the empire shall so labour the matter with the aforenamed prince, duke of Saxony, that Luther and his followers shall not write, set forth, or print any thing during the said mean space; neither do they doubt but that the said noble prince of Saxony, for his Christian piety, and obedience to the Roman empire, as becometh a prince of such excellent virtue, will effectually condescend to the same.
"Item, The said lord lieutenant and princes shall labour so with the preachers of Germany, that they shall not in their sermons teach or blow into the people's ears such matter, whereby the multitude may be moved to rebellion or uproar, or be induced into error; and that they shall preach and teach nothing but the true, pure, sincere, and holy gospel, and approved Scripture, godly, mildly, and Christianly, according to the doctrine and exposition of the Scripture; being approved and received of Christ's church, abstaining from all such things which are better unknown than learned of the people, and which to be subtilly searched, or deeply discussed, it is not expedient. Also, that they shall move no contention of disputation among the vulgar sort; but whatsoever hangeth in controversy, the same they shall reserve to the determination of the council to come.
"Item, The arcbbishops, bishops, and other prelates within their diocesees, shall assign godly and learned men, having good judgment in the Scripture, which shall diligently and faithfully attend upon such preachers and if they shall perceive the said preachers either to have erred, or to have uttered any thing inconveniently, they shall godly, mildly, and modestly advertise and inform them thereof, in such sort as no man shall justly complain the truth of the gospel to be impeached. But if the preachers, continuing still in their stubbornness, shall refuse to be admonished, and will not desist from their lewdness, then shall they be restrained and punished by the ordinaries of the place, with punishment for the same convenient.
Furthermore, the said princes and nobles shall provide and undertake, so much as shall be possible, that, from henceforth, during the aforesaid time, no new book shall be imprinted, especially none of these famous libels, neither shall they privily or apertly be sold. Also, order shall be taken amongst all potentates, that if any shall set out, sell, or imprint any new work, it shall first be seen and perused of certain godly, learned, and discreet men appointed for the same; so that if it be not admitted and approved by them, it shall not be permitted to be published in print, or to come abroad. Thus, by these means, they hope well, that the tumults, errors, and offences among the people shall cease; especially if the pope's Holiness himself shall begin with an orderly and due reformation, in the aforesaid grievances above mentioned, and will procure such a free and Christian council as hath been said; and so shall the people be well contented and satisfied. Or if the tumult shall not so fully be calmed as they desire, yet the greater part thus will be quieted; for all such as be honest and good men, no doubt, will be in great expectation of that general council, so shortly, and now ready at hand, to come. Finally, as concerning priests which contract matrimony, and religious men leaving their cloisters, whereof intimation was also made by the apostolical legate, the aforesaid princes do consider, that forasmuch as in the civil law there is no penalty for them ordained, they shall be referred to the canonical constitutions, to be punished thereafter accordingly; that is, by the loss of their benefices and privileges, or other condign censures: and that the said ordinaries shall in no case be stopped or inhibited by the secular powers, from the correction of such: but that they shall add their help and favour to the maintenance of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and shall direct out their public edicts and precepts, that none shall impeach or prohibit the said ordinaries in their ecclesiastical castigation, upon such transgressors to be administered.
"To conclude; the redoubled prince, lord lieutenant, and other princes, estates, and orders of the public empire, vehemently and most heartily do pray and beseech, that the pope's Holiness, and the reverend lord his legate, will accept and take all the premises to be no otherwise spoken and meant, than of a good, free, sincere, and a Christian mind: neither is there any thing that all the aforesaid princes, estates, and nobles, do more wish and desire, than the furtherance and prosperous estate of the holy catholic Church of Rome, and of his Holiness; to whose wishes, desires, and obedience, they offer and commend themselves most ready and obsequious, as faithful children."
Thus hast thou, loving reader! the full discourse both of the pope's letter, and of his legate's instructions, with the answer also of the states of Germany to the said letter and instructions to them exhibited in the diet of Nuremberg: in the which diet what was concluded, and what order and consultation was taken, first touching the grievances of Germany, which they exhibited to the pope, then concerning a general council to be called in Germany, also for printing, and preaching, and for priests' marriage, hath been likewise declared, &c.
The occasion of this matter, moved against priests' marriage, came first by the ministers of Strasburg, which about this time began to take wives, and therefore were cited by the bishop of Strasburg to appear before him at a certain day, as violators of the laws of holy church, the holy fathers, the bishops of Rome, and of the emperor's Majesty, to the prejudice both of their own order of priesthood, and majesty of Almighty God: but they referred their cause to the hearing of the magistrates of the same city; who, being suitors for them unto the bishops, laboured to have the matter either released, or at least to be delayed for a time.
Long it were to recite all the circumstances following upon this diet or assembly of Nuremberg, how their decree was received of some, of some neglected, of divers diversely wrested and expounded. Luther, writing his letters upon the same decree to the princes, thus made his exposition of the meaning thereof: that whereas the preachers were commanded to preach the pure gospel, after the doctrine of the church received, he expounded the meaning thereof to be, not after the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas, or Scotus, or such other late school writers, but after the doctrine of Hilary, Cyprian, and Austin, and other ancient doctors; and yet the doctrine of the said ancestors no further to be received, but as they should agree with the Scripture.
Secondly, as concerning new books not to be sold nor printed, he expounded the meaning thereof to extend no further, but that the text of the Bible and books of the Holy Scripture might be printed notwithstanding, and published to all men.
And as for the prohibition of priests' marriage, he writeth to the princes, and desireth them to bear with the weakness of men; declaring that branch of their decree to be very hard, which though it standeth with the pope's law, yet it accordeth not with the gospel, neither conduceth to good manners, nor to honesty of life, &c.
Furthermore, Whereas in the same session of Nuremberg, mention was made before of certain grievances collected to the number of a hundred, and exhibited to the bishop of Rome, it were tedious likewise to insert them all; yet to give some taste of a few I judge it not unprofitable, to the intent that the world may see and judge, not only what abuses and corruptions, most monstrous and incredible, lay hid under the glorious title of the holy Church of Rome, but also may understand, with what hypocrisy and impudence the pope taketh upon him so grievously to complain upon Master Luther and others; when in all the universal church of Christ, there is none so much to be blamed all manner of ways, as he himself, according as by these heinous complaints of the German princes, here following, against the pope's intolerable oppressions and grievances, may right well appear. Which grievances being collected by the princes of Germany at Nuremberg, to the number of a hundred, I wish might be fully and at large set forth to the studious reader, whereby might appear the subtle sleights and intolerable frauds of that pretended church. But forasmuch as it were too long to comprehend the whole, I have thought good to exhibit some part thereof for example, as giving only a certain taste, whereby thou mayst more easily conceive what to think and esteem of all the residue, which both to me would be tedious to write, and perhaps more grievous to thee to hear.
Certain grievances or oppressions of Germany, against the court of Rome, collected and exhibited by the princes, at the council of Nuremberg, to the number of a hundred, whereof certain specialties here follow.
Forbidding of marriage in divers degrees, not forbidden by God's law.
Forbidding of meats, not forbidden by God's law. Of times of marriage restrained, and afterwards released for money.
Complaint for selling remission of sins for money.
But especially the burden and grievance of the pope's indulgences and pardons be most importable; when the bishops of Rome, under pretence of building some church in Rome, or to war against the Turk, do make out their indulgences with their bulls; persuading and promising to the simple people strange and wonderful benefits of remission a p?na et culpa, that is, from all their sins and punishment due for the same, and that not in this life only, but also after this life, to them that be dead, burning in the fire of purgatory. Through the hope and occasion thereof, true piety is almost extinct in all Germany, while every evil-disposed person promiseth to himself, for a little money, licence and impunity to do what him listeth: whereupon followeth fornication, incest, adultery, perjury, homicide, robbing and spoiling, rapine, usury, with a whole flood of all mischiefs, &c.
Complaint against the immunities of clergymen.
Complaint of excommunication being abused in Church of Rome.
Complaint that the church is burdened with a number of holidays, which ought to be diminished.
The suspending and hallowing of church-yards complained of, gainful to the pope, and chargeable to the people.
Complaint against officials, and other ecclesiastical judges.
How the ecclesiastical judges do annex certain special causes, being lay matters, unto their own jurisdiction, and will by no means release the same, except for money.
The gain that riseth to the clergy by false slanders and rumours.
Complaint against spiritual judges taking secular causes from the civil magistrates, for gain of money.
Complaint against ecclesiastical judges inter-meddling with cases of the secular court, but will not suffer their cases once to be touched of the other.
Complaint against certain misorders of cathedral churches, for using double punishment for one offence against the law.
Complaint of officials for maintaining unlawful usury.
Complaint of officials permitting unlawful cohabiting with another, when the husband or wife is long absent.
Complaint of canons in cathedral churches, which have their bishop sworn unto them before he be chosen.
Complaints against incorporations or impropriations, and other pilling of the people by churchmen.
Buying and selling of burials complained of.
Chaste and continent priests compelled to pay tribute for concubines.
Also in many places the bishops and their officials do not only suffer priests to have concubines, so that they pay certain sums of money, but also compel continent and chaste priests, which live without concubines, to pay tribute for concubines, affirming that the bishop hath need of money: which being paid, it shall be lawful for them either to live chaste, or keep concubines. How wicked a thing this is, every man doth well understand and know.hese, with many other burdens and grievances more, to the number of a hundred, the secular states of Germany delivered to the pope's legate; having (as they said) many more and more grievous grievances besides these, which had likewise much need of redress: but because they would not exceed the limits of reasonable brevity, they would content themselves (they said) with these aforesaid hundred, reserving the rest to a more apt and more convenient opportunity; stedfastly trusting and hoping, that when those hundred grievances already by them declared, should be abolished, the other would also decay and fall with them. Of the which aforesaid grievances and complaints here is moreover to be noted, that a great part was offered up before to the emperor at the council of Worms; but because no redress thereof did follow, therefore the secular states of Germany thought good to exhibit the same now again, with divers more annexed thereunto, to Cheregatus, the pope's legate in this present assembly of Nuremberg, desiring him to present the same to Pope Adrian. This was about A.D. 1523; which being done, the assembly at Nuremberg brake up for a time, and was prorogued to the next year following.
In this mean time Pope Adrian died. After him succeeded Pope Clement the Seventh, who, the next year following, which was A.D. 1524, sent down his legate, Cardinal Campeius, unto the council of the German princes assembled again at Nuremberg, about the month of March, with letters also to Duke Frederic, full of many fair petitions and sharp complaints, &c. But as touching the grievances above-mentioned, no word nor message at all was sent, neither by Campeius, nor by any other. Thus, where any thing was to be complained of against Luther, either for suppression of the liberty of the gospel, or for upholding of the pope's dignity, the pope was ever ready with all diligence to call upon the princes; but where any redress was to be required for the public wealth of Christian people, or touching the necessary reformation of the church, herein the pope neither giveth ear nor answer.