Life of Luther
Julius Koestlin

Part 7 out of 9

At Spires, however, the whole zeal of the imperial commissaries and
of the Catholic Estates was directed, not against the common enemy
of Germany and Christendom, but to the internal affairs of the
Church. They succeeded in passing a resolution or article, declaring
that those States which had held to the Edict of Worms should
continue to impose its execution on their subjects; the other States
should abstain at least from further innovations. The celebration of
the mass was not to be obstructed, nor was anyone to be prevented
from hearing it. The subjects of one State were never to be
protected by another State against their own. By these means, not
only was the Reformation prevented from spreading farther, but it
was cut off at a blow in those places where it had already been in
full swing. By the decision respecting the mass, room was given for
attempts to reinstate it on Evangelical territory; by the other
decision respecting the subjects of different States, power was
given to the bishops of the German Empire to coerce, if they chose,
the local clergy, as their subordinates. Further steps in the
exercise of this power could easily be anticipated.

This resolution of the majority was answered on April 19 by the
Evangelical party with a formal protest, from which they received
the name their descendants still bear--Protestants. They insisted
that the Imperial Recess unanimously agreed on at the first Diet of
Spires in 1526 could only be altered by the unanimous consent of the
States; and they declared 'that, even apart from that, in matters
relating to the honour of God and the salvation of our souls, every
man must stand alone before God and give account for himself.' In
these matters, therefore, "they could not submit to the resolution
of the majority."

The majority, however, as well as Ferdinand, the Emperor's brother
and representative, refused to admit their right of opposition. The
minority must prepare to submit to coercion and the exercise of
force. Against this the Elector and Landgrave concluded, on April
22, a 'secret agreement' with the cities of Nuremberg, Strasburg,
and Ulm. The Landgrave was eager that this alliance should be
strengthened by the admission of Zurich and the other Evangelical
towns in Switzerland. And a similar proposal was made to him by
Zwingli, who, in connection with his ecclesiastical labours, was
carrying on a bold and high policy, in striving to effect an
alliance with the republic of Venice and the King of France against
the Emperor, He certainly far overrated the importance of his town
in the great affairs of the world, and placed a strangely naive
confidence in the French monarch.

Luther, on the contrary, set his face as resolutely now as in the
affair of Pack, against any appeal to the sword in support of the
gospel. He would have his friends rely on God and not on the wit of
man; and, with regard to the last Diet, he was quite content that
God had not allowed their enemies to rage even more. He was willing
even to trust to the Emperor for relief; the Evangelical party, he
said, should represent to his Majesty how their sole concern was for
the gospel and for the removal of abuses which no one could deny to
exist; how, at the same time, they had resisted the iconoclasts and
other riotous fanatics, nay, how the suppression of the Anabaptists
and the peasants was pre-eminently due to them, and how they had
been the first to bring to light and vindicate the rights and
majesty of authority. A representation of this kind, he hoped, must
surely have an influence on the Emperor. He flatly rejected any
alliance with those,--namely, the Swiss,--who 'strive thus against
God and the Sacrament;' such an alliance would disgrace the gospel
and draw down their sins upon their heads. This opinion, in which
the other Wittenberg theologians, and especially Melancthon,
concurred, determined that of the Elector.

The Landgrave did his utmost to remove this obstacle to an alliance
with the Swiss. He urged a personal conference between the rival
theologians on the question of the Sacrament. Luther and Melancthon
were strongly opposed to such a step, inasmuch as the course of the
controversy hitherto had not revealed a single point which offered
any hope of reconciliation or mutual approach. Luther reminded him
how, ten years before, the Leipzig disputation served only to make
bad worse. Intrigues, moreover, were apprehended from the other
side, lest the Lutherans should be held up to odium as the enemies
of unity and obstacles to an alliance, and the Landgrave be
alienated from them. Melancthon, indeed, had brought with him from
Spires, where he had been staying with Philip, a suspicion that the
latter inclined to the Zwinglians, and was right in his conjecture
at least so far, that their doctrine did not appear to him nearly so
questionable as to the Wittenbergers. But the simple fear of
consequences made Luther unwilling and unable to refuse the
Landgrave's urgent invitation, backed as it was with the concurrence
of the Elector. He wrote to him on June 23, declaring his readiness
to 'render him this useless service with all diligence,' and only
entreated him to consider once more whether it would do more good
than harm. The conference was to take place at the Castle of Marburg
on Michaelmas day (1529).

Luther's sentiments in the interval are expressed in a letter which
he wrote on August 2 to a distant friend, the pastor Brismann at
Eiga. 'Philip (Melancthon) and myself,' he says, 'after many
refusals and much vain resistance, have been at length compelled to
give our consent, because of the Landgrave's importunity; but I know
not yet whether our going will come to anything. We have no hopes of
any good result, but suspect artifice on all sides, that our enemies
may be able to boast of having gained the victory.... I am pretty
well in body, but inwardly weak, suffering like Peter from want of
faith; but the prayers of my brethren support me.... That youth of
Hesse is restless, and boiling over with projects.... Thus
everywhere we are threatened with more danger from our own people
than from our enemies. Satan rests not, in his bloodthirstiness,
from the work of murder and bloodshed.'

In the same letter Luther tells of the panic caused by a new
pestilence--the Sweating Sickness--which had appeared in Germany and
at Wittenberg itself. It was a plague, known already many years
before, which used to attack its victims with fever, sweat, thirst,
intense pain and exhaustion, and snatch them off with fearful
rapidity. Luther knew well the danger of it when once it actually
appeared. But he watched without terror the supposed symptoms of its
appearance at Wittenberg, and remarked that the sickness there was
mainly caused by fright. On the 27th he told another friend how the
night before he had awoke bathed in sweat, and tormented with
anxious thoughts, so much so, that had he given way to them he might
very likely have fallen ill like so many others. He named also
several of his acquaintances, whom he had driven out of bed, when
they lay there fancying themselves ill, and who were now laughing at
their own fancies.

The Emperor, meanwhile, concluded a final treaty with the Pope on
June 29, and on August 5 made peace with King Francis. By this
treaty of Barcelona he pledged himself to provide a suitable
antidote to the poisonous infection of the new opinions. By the
peace of Cambray he renewed the promise, given in the treaty of
Madrid, of a mutual cooperation of the two monarchs for the
extirpation of heresy.

At Marburg the meeting now actually took place between the
theological champions of that great religious movement which strove
to set up the gospel against the domination of Rome, and was
therefore condemned by Rome as heretical. It was now to be decided
whether the anti-Romanists could not become united among themselves;
whether the two hostile parties in this movement could not, at least
in face of the common danger, join to make a powerful united Church.
Zwingli's political conduct, and the cheerful and submissive
readiness with which he had complied with the Landgrave's proposal,
afforded ground for expecting that, while steadfastly adhering to
his own doctrine, he would embrace such an alliance, notwithstanding
their doctrinal differences. Everything now really depended upon

Zwingli and Oecolampadius met the Strasburg theologians, Butzer and
Hedio, and Jacob Sturm, the leading citizen of that town, on
September 29, at Marburg. The next day they were joined by Luther
and Melancthon, together with Jonas and Cruciger from Wittenberg and
Myeonius from Gotha; and afterwards came the preachers Osiander from
Nuremberg, Brenz from Schwabish Hall, and Stephen Agricola from
Augsburg. The Landgrave entertained them in a friendly and sumptuous
manner at his castle.

On October 1, the day after his arrival, Luther was summoned by the
Landgrave to a private conference with Oecolampadius, towards whom
he had always felt more confidence, and whom he had greeted in a
friendly manner when they met. Melancthon, being of a calmer
temperament, was left to confer with Zwingli. As regards the main
subject of the controversy, the question of the Sacrament, no
practical result was arrived at between the parties. But on certain
other points, in which Zwingli had been suspected by the
Wittenbergers, and in which he partly differed from them--for
instance, concerning the Church doctrine of the Trinity in Unity,
and the Godhead of Christ, and the doctrine of original sin--he
offered explanations to Melancthon, the result of which was that
the two came to an agreement.

The general debate began on Sunday, October 2, at six o'clock in the
morning. The theologians assembled for that purpose in an apartment
in the east wing of the castle, before the Landgrave himself, and a
number of nobles and guests of the court, including the exiled Duke
Ulrich of Wurtemberg. Out of deference to the audience, the language
used was to be German. Zwingli had wished, instead, that anyone who
desired it might be admitted to hear, but that the discussion should
be held in Latin, which he could speak with greater fluency. The
four theologians last mentioned, who were to conduct the debate, sat
together at a table. Luther, however, assumed the lead of his side;
Melancthon only put in a few remarks here and there. The Landgrave's
chancellor, Feige, opened the proceedings with a formal address.

Luther at the outset requested that his opponents should first
express their opinions upon other points of doctrine which seemed to
him doubtful; but he waived this request on Oecolampadius's replying
that he was not aware that such doubts involved any contradiction to
Luther's doctrine, and on Zwingli's appealing to his agreement
recently effected with Melancthon. All he himself had to do, said
Luther, was to declare publicly, that with regard to those doubts he
disagreed entirely with certain expressions contained in their
earlier writings. The chief question was then taken in hand.

The arguments and counter-arguments, set forth by the combatants at
various times in their writings, were now succinctly but
exhaustively recapitulated. But they were neither strengthened
further nor enlarged. The disputants were constrained to listen
during this debate to the oral utterances of their opponents with
more deference than they had done for the most part in their
literary controversy, with its hasty and passionate expressions on
each side.

Luther from the outset took his stand, as he had done before, on the
simple words of institution, 'This is my Body.' He had chalked them
down before him on the table. His opponents, he maintained, ought to
give to God the honour due to Him, by believing His 'pure and
unadorned Word.'

Zwingli and Oecolampadius, on the contrary, relied mainly, as
heretofore, on the words of Christ in the sixth chapter of St. John,
where He evidently alluded to a spiritual feeding, and declared that
'the flesh profiteth nothing.' Honour must be given to God, he said,
by accepting from Him this clear interpretation of His Word. Luther
agreed with them, as previously, that Jesus there spoke only of the
spiritual partaking by the faithful, but maintained that in the
Sacrament He had, in his words of institution, superadded the offer
of His Body for the strengthening of faith and that these words were
not useless or unmeaning, but of potent efficacy through the Word of
God. 'I would eat even crab-apples,' said Luther, without asking
why, if the Lord put them before me, and said "Take and eat."' He
fired up when Zwingli answered that the passage in St. John 'broke
Luther's neck,' the expression not being as familiar to him as to
the Swiss: the Landgrave himself had to step in as a mediator and
quiet them.

In the afternoon Luther's opponents proceeded to argue 'that Christ
could not be present with His Body at the Sacrament, because His
Body was in heaven, and the body, as such, was confined within
circumscribed limits, and could only be present in one place at a
time. Luther then asked, with reference to the objection that Christ
was in heaven and at the right hand of God, why Zwingli insisted on
taking those words in such a nakedly literal sense. He declined to
enter upon explanations as to the locality of the Body, though he
could well have disputed for a long time on that subject: for the
omnipotence of God, he said, by virtue whereof that Body was present
everywhere at the Sacrament, stood above all mathematics. Of greater
weight to him must have been the argument of Zwingli, which at any
rate had a Christian and biblical aspect, that Christ with His flesh
became like his human brethren, while they again at the last day are
to be fashioned like unto his glorified Body, though incapable,
nevertheless, of being in different places at the same time. Luther
rejected this argument, however, on the ground of the distinction he
was careful to draw between the actual attributes which Christ
possessed in common with all Christians, and those which He did not
so possess at all, or possessed in a manner peculiar to Himself, and
exalting him far above mankind. For example, Christ had no wife, as
men have.

The next day, Sunday, Luther preached the early morning sermon. He
connected his remarks with the Gospel for the day, and dwelt with
freshness and power, but without any reference to the controversy
then pending, on forgiveness of sin and justification by faith.

The disputation, however, was resumed later on in the morning. The
subject of discussion was still the presence of Christ's Body in the
Sacrament. Luther persisted in refusing to regard that Body as one
involving the idea of limits: the Body here was not local or
circumscribed by bounds. The Swiss, on the other hand, did not deny
the possibility of a miracle, whereby God might permit a body to be
in more than one place at the same time; but then they demanded
proof that such a miracle was really; effected with the Body of
Christ. Luther again appealed to the words before him: 'This is My
Body.' He said: 'I cannot slur over the words of our Lord. I cannot
but acknowledge that the Body of Christ is there.' Here Zwingli
quickly interrupted him with the remark that Luther himself
restricted Christ's Body to a place, for the adverb 'there' was an
adverb of place. Luther, however, refused to have his off-hand
expression so interpreted, and again deprecated the mathematical
argument. The same day, the second of the debate, Zwingli and
Oecolampadius sought to fortify their theory by evidence adduced
from Christian antiquity. On some points at least they were able to
appeal to Augustine. But Luther put a different construction on the
passages they quoted, and refused altogether to accept him as an
authority against Scripture. That evening the disputation was
concluded by each party protesting that their doctrine remained
unrefuted by Scripture, and leaving their opponents to the judgment
of God, by whom they might still be converted. Zwingli broke into

Philip in vain endeavoured to bring the contending parties to a
closer understanding. Just then the news came that the fearful
pestilence, the Sweating Sickness, had broken out in the town. All
further proceedings were stopped at once, and everyone hurried away
with his guests. The Landgrave only hastily arranged that in regard
to the points of Christian belief in which it was doubtful how far
the Swiss agreed with the Evangelical faith, a series of
propositions should be drawn up by Luther, and signed by the
theologians on both sides. This was done on the Monday. They are the
fifteen 'Articles of Marburg.' They expressed unity in all other
doctrines, and in the Sacrament also, in so far as they declared
that the Sacrament of the Altar is a Sacrament of the true Body and
Blood of Christ, and that the 'spiritual eating' of that Body is the
primary condition required. The only point left in dispute was
'whether the true Body and Blood of Christ are present bodily in the
bread and wine.'


If we compare the manner in which this disputation at Marburg was
conducted with the previous character of the contest, in which the
one party had denounced their opponents as diabolical fanatics, and
the other as reactionary Papists and worshippers of 'a god made of
bread,' it will be evident that some results of importance at least
had been attained by the discussion itself and the mode in which it
had been held. The tone here, from first to last, was more
courteous, nay, even friendly in comparison. And the moderation now
used by these frank, outspoken men, so passionately excited hitherto,
could not have resulted solely from self-imposed restraint. Luther,
when he wished to speak very emphatically, addressed his opponents
as 'my dearest sirs.' Brenz, who was an eye-witness, tells us one
might have thought Luther and Zwingli were brothers. And, in fact,
on all the main doctrines but that one they agreed. Finer distinctions
of theory, which might have furnished food for argument, were mutually
waived. But the essential divergence between them on the one great
point of the Sacrament, and the spirit manifested in regard to it,
made it impossible for Luther to hold out to Zwingli the right hand
of fellowship, which the latter and his party so earnestly desired.
Luther held to his opinion: 'Yours is a different spirit from ours.'
His companions unanimously agreed with him that though they might
entertain sentiments of friendship and Christian love towards them,
they dared not acknowledge them as brethren in Christ. In the 'Articles'
the only mention made of this matter was that although they had not yet
agreed on that point, still 'each party should treat the other with
Christian charity, so far as each one's conscience would permit.'

On Tuesday afternoon Luther left Marburg, and set out on his journey
homeward. At the wish of the Elector he travelled by way of Schleiz,
where John was then consulting with the Margrave George of
Brandenburg about the Protestant alliance. They desired of Luther a
short and comprehensive confession of evangelical faith, as members
of which they wished to enrol themselves. Luther immediately
compiled one accordingly, upon the basis of the Marburg Articles,
making some additions and strengthening some expressions in
accordance with his own views. About October 18 he returned to

This confession was submitted without delay to a meeting of
Protestants at Schwabach. The result was, that Ulm and Strasburg
declined to subscribe a compact from which the Swiss were excluded.

Within the league itself, the question was now seriously considered,
how far the Protestant States might go, in the event of the Emperor
really seeking to coerce them to submission--whether, in a word,
they could venture to oppose force to force. Luther's opinion,
however, on this point remained unshaken. Whatever civil law and
counsellors might say, it was conclusive for them as Christians, in
his opinion, that civil authority was ordained by God, and that the
Emperor, as the lord paramount of Germany, was the supreme civil
authority in the nation. His first consideration was the imperial
dignity, as he conceived it, and the relative position and duties of
the princes of the Empire. As subjects of the Emperor, he regarded
these princes in the same light as he regarded their own territorial
subjects, the burgomasters of the towns and the various other
magnates and nobles, to whom they themselves had never conceded any
right to oppose, either by protest or force, their own regulations,
as territorial sovereigns, in matters affecting the Church. Not,
indeed, that he required a simply passive obedience, however badly
the authorities and the Emperor might behave; on the contrary, he
admitted the possibility of having to depose the Emperor. 'Sin
itself,' he said, 'does not destroy authority and obedience; but the
punishment of sin destroys them, as, for instance, if the Empire and
the Electors were unanimously to dethrone the Emperor, and make him
cease to be one. But so long as he remains unpunished and Emperor,
no one should refuse him obedience.' Nothing, therefore, in his
opinion, short of a common act of the Estates could provide a remedy
against an unjust, tyrannical, and law-breaking Emperor, while at
present it was apparent that Charles and the majority of the Diet
were agreed. Hence he refused to recognise the right of individual
States to an appeal to force, for his theory of the German Empire
involved the idea of a firm and united community or State, and not
in any way that of a league or federation, the independent members
of which might take up arms against a breach of their articles of
agreement. This theory was shared by his Elector and the
Nurembergers. Just as these Protestants for conscience sake had
refused obedience to the resolution of the Diet at Spires, so they
felt themselves bound by conscience to submit to the consequences of
that refusal. Luther's opinion, therefore, as to the proper attitude
for the Protestant States was the same as he had expressed to the
Elector Frederick on his return from the Wartburg. It was their
duty, he said, if God should permit matters to go so far, to allow
the Emperor to enter their territory and act against their subjects,
without, however, giving their assent or assisting him. But he
added: 'It is sheer want of faith not to trust to God to protect us,
without any wit or power of man.... "In quietness and confidence
shall be your strength."'

Meanwhile Luther was anxious to respond still further to the call of
duty against the Turks. Their multitudinous hosts had advanced as
far as Vienna, and had severely harassed that city, which, though
defended with heroic valour, was but badly fortified. A general
assault was made in force while Luther was on his homeward journey.
The news stirred him to his inmost soul. He ascribed to it, and to
their god, the devil, the violent temptations and anguish of soul
from which he was then suffering again. Immediately after his
return, he undertook to write a 'War sermon against the Turks.' On
October 26 he received the tidings that they were compelled to
retreat. This was a 'heavensent miracle' to him. But though his
former exhortations and warnings had seemed to many exaggerated, he
was right in perceiving that the danger was only averted. He
published his sermon, a new edition of which had to be issued with
the new year.

He saw in the Turks the fulfilment of the prophecy of Ezekiel and
the Revelation of St. John about Gog and Magog, and therewith a
judgment of God for the punishment of corrupt Christendom. But just
as in his first pamphlet he had called on the authorities, in virtue
of their appointment by God, to protect their own people against the
enemy, so he now wished further to make all German Christians strong
in conscience and full of courage, to take the field under their
banner, according to God's command. He set before them the example
of the 'beloved St. Maurice and his companions,' and of many other
saints, who had served in arms their Emperor as knights or citizens.
He would, if danger came in earnest, 'fain have, whoever could,
defend themselves,--young and old, husband and wife, man-servant and
maid-servant,' just as, according to ancient Roman writers, the
German wives and maidens fought together with the men. He looked on
no house as so mean that it might not do something to repel the foe.
Was it not better to be slain at home, in obedience to God, than to
be taken prisoners and dragged away like cattle to be sold? At the
same time he exhorted and encouraged those whom this misfortune
befell, that, as Jeremiah admonished the Jews in Babylon, they
should be patient in prison, and cling firmly to the faith, and
neither through their misery nor through the hypocritical worship of
the Turks, allow themselves to be seduced into becoming renegades.

Such is what he preached to the people, while he had to complain in
his letters to friends that 'the Emperor Charles threatens us even
still more dreadfully than does the Turk; so that on both sides we
have an Emperor as our enemy, an Eastern and a Western one.' And in
those days also he expressed his opinion that those who confessed
the gospel should keep their hands 'unsoiled by blood and crime' as
regards their Emperor, and, even though his behaviour might be a
'very threat of the devil,' should keep steadfastly to their God,
with prayer, supplication, and hope,--to that God Whose manifest
help had hitherto been so abundantly vouchsafed to them.



A proclamation of the Emperor, convoking a new Diet at Augsburg for
April 8, 1530, seemed now to indicate a more pacific demeanour. For
in assigning to this Diet the task of consulting 'how best to deal
with and determine the differences and division in the holy faith
and the Christian religion,' it desired, for this object, that
'every man's opinions, thoughts, and notions should be heard in love
and charity, and carefully weighed, and that men should thus be
brought in common to Christian truth, and be reconciled.' The
Emperor by no means meant, as might be inferred from this
proclamation, that the two opposing parties should treat and arrange
with each other on an equal footing; the rights of the Romish Church
remained, as before, unalterably fixed. He only wished to avoid, if
possible, the dangers of internal warfare. Even the Papal legate
Campeggio, agreed that conciliatory measures might first be tried;
the arrangements for the visitation of the Saxon Electorate were
already construed at Rome, as indeed by many German Catholics, into
a sign that people there were frightened at the so-called freedom of
the gospel, and were inclined to return to the old system. But
Luther at this moment displayed again the confidence which he always
so gladly reposed in his Emperor. He announced on March 14 to Jonas,
then absent on the business of the visitation: 'The Emperor Charles
writes that he will come in person to Augsburg, to settle everything
peaceably.' The Elector John immediately instructed his theologians
to draw up for him articles in view of the proceedings at the Diet,
embodying a statement of their own opinions. They were also required
to hold themselves in readiness to accompany him on his journey to
Augsburg. There was, however, no hurry about arriving there; for the
Emperor came thither so slowly from Italy, that it was found
impossible to meet on the day originally appointed.

On April 3 Luther, Melancthon, and Jonas went to the Elector at
Torgau, in order to start with him from there. He took Spalatin also
with him, and Agricola as preacher. The 10th, Palm Sunday, they
spent at Weimar, where the prince wished to partake of the
sacrament. At Coburg, where they arrived on the 15th, they expected
to receive further news as to the day fixed for the actual opening
of the Diet. Luther preached here on Easter Day, and on the
following Monday and Thursday, upon the Easter texts and the grand
acts of Redemption.

On Friday, the 22nd, the Elector received an intimation from the
Emperor to appear at Augsburg at the end of the month. The next
morning he set off at once with his companions. Luther, however, was
to remain behind. The man on whom lay the ban of the Empire and
Church could not possibly, however favourably inclined the Emperor
might be towards him, have appeared before the Emperor, the Estates,
and the delegates of the Pope; moreover, no safe-conduct would have
availed him. Luther seems, nevertheless, to have been ingenuous
enough to think the contrary. At least, he wrote to a friend that
the Elector had bidden him remain at Coburg; why, he knew not. To
another friend, however, he alleged as a reason, that his going
would not have been safe. But his prince was anxious to keep him at
any rate as close by as possible, at a safe place on the borders of
his territory in the direction of Augsburg, so that he might be able
to obtain advice from him in case of need. Moreover, he contemplated
the possibility of his being summoned later on to Augsburg. A
message from the one place to the other took, at that time, four
days as a rule.

Accordingly, on the night of the 22nd, Luther was conveyed to the
fortress overlooking the town of Coburg. This was the residence
assigned to him.

His first day here passed by unoccupied. A box which he had brought,
containing papers and other things, had not yet been delivered to
him. He did not even see any governor of the castle. So he looked
around him leisurely from the height, which offered a wide and
varied prospect, and examined the apartments now opened for his use.
The principal part of the castle, the so-called Prince's Building,
had been assigned him, and he was given at once the keys of all the
rooms it contained. The one which he chose as his sitting-room is
still shown. He was told that over thirty people took their meals at
the castle.

But his thoughts were still with his distant friends. He wrote that
afternoon to Melancthon, Jonas, and Spalatin. 'Dearest Philip,' he
begins to Melancthon, 'we have at last reached our Sinai, but we
will make a Sion of this Sinai, and here will I build three
tabernacles, one to the Psalms, one to the Prophets, and one to
Asop.... It is a very attractive place, and just made for study;
only your absence grieves me. My whole heart and soul are stirred
and incensed against the Turks and Mahomet, when I see this
intolerable raging of the devil. Therefore I shall pray and cry to
God, nor rest until I know that my cry is heard in heaven. The sad
condition of our German Empire distresses you more.' Then, after
expressing a wish that the Lord might send his friend refreshing
sleep, and free his heart from care, he told him about his residence
at the castle, in the 'empire of the birds.' In his letters to Jonas
and Spalatin he indulged in humorous descriptions of the cries of
the ravens and jackdaws which he had heard since four o'clock in the
morning. A whole troop, he said, of sophists and schoolmen were
gathered around him. Here he had also his Diet, composed of very
proud kings, dukes, and grandees, who busied themselves about the
empire and sent out incessantly their mandates through the air. This
year, he heard, they had arranged a crusade against the wheat,
barley, and other kinds of corn, and these fathers of the Fatherland
already hoped for grand victories and heroic deeds. This, said
Luther, he wrote in fun, but in serious fun, to chase away if
possible the heavy thoughts which crowded on his mind. A few days
later he enlarged further on this sportive simile in a letter to his
Wittenberg table-companions, _i.e._ the young men of the
university who, according to custom, boarded with him. He was
delighted to see how valiantly these knights of the Diet strutted
about and wiped their bills, and he hoped they might some day or
other be spitted on a hedge-stake. He fancied he could hear all the
sophists and papists with their lovely voices around him, and he saw
what a right useful folk they were, who ate up everything on the
earth and 'whiled away the heavy time with chattering.' He was glad,
however, to have heard the first nightingale, who did not often
venture to come in April.

As companions he had his amanuensis, Veit Dietrich from Nuremberg,
and his nephew Cyriac Kaufmann from Mansfeld, a young student. The
former, born in 1506, had been at the university of Wittenberg since
1523; he soon became preacher in his native town, where he
distinguished himself by his loyalty and courage. They were all
hospitably entertained at the castle. Luther, in these comfortable
quarters, let his beard grow again, as he had formerly done at the

[Illustration: Fig. 40.--VEIT DIETRICH, as Pastor of Nuremberg.
(From an old woodcut.)]

In that same letter to Melancthon, Luther mentioned several writings
which he had in prospect. His chief work was a public 'Admonition to
the Clergy assembled at the Diet at Augsburg.' He wished, as he said
in the introduction, since he could not personally appear at the
Diet, at least to be among them in writing with this his 'dumb and
weak message;' which he had expressed, however, in the strongest and
most forcible language at his command. As for his own cause, he
declared that for it no Diet was necessary. It had been brought thus
far by the true Helper and Adviser, and there it would remain. He
reminded them once more of the chief scandals and iniquities against
which he had been forced to contend; he warned them not to strain
the strings too tightly, lest perhaps a new rebellion might arise;
and he promised them that if only they would leave the gospel free,
they should be left in undisturbed possession of their
principalities, their privileges, and their property, which in fact
was all they cared for. This tract was already printed in May.

He now took up in earnest the labours he had spoken of to
Melancthon. His chief work was the continuation of his German Bible,
namely the translation of the Prophets. He had long complained of
the difficulties presented by these Books, and he now hoped to have
the leisure they required. Such was his zeal that, when he came to
Jeremiah, he looked forward to finishing all the Prophets by
Whitsuntide, but he soon saw that this was impossible. He published
the prophecy of Ezekiel about Gog and Magog by itself. His wish was
to treat of various portions of the Psalms, his own constant book of
comfort and prayer, for the benefit of his congregation; and he
began, accordingly, with a Commentary on the 118th Psalm. He
expounded to Dietrich whilst at Coburg the first twenty-five Psalms;
and the transcript of his commentary on these, which Dietrich left
behind him, was afterwards printed.

And to these works he wished to add the fables of Asop. His desire
was to adapt them for youth and common men, that they should be of
some profit to the Germans.' For among them, he said, were to be
found, set forth in simple words, the most beautiful lessons and
warnings, to show men how to live wisely and peacefully among bad
people in the false and wicked world. Truth which none would endure,
but which no man could do without, was clothed there in pleasing
colours of fiction. For this work, however, Luther had very little
time; we possess only thirteen fables of his version. He has
rendered them in the simplest popular language, and expressed the
morals in many appropriate German proverbs.

Luther thought at first that, with these occupations, he had better
have remained at Wittenberg, where, as professor, he would have been
of more service.

Soon his bodily sufferings--the singing and noise in the head, and
the tendency to faintness,--began again to attack him; so that for
several days he could neither read nor write, and for several weeks
could not work continuously for any length of time. He did not know
whether it was the effect of Coburg hospitality, or whether Satan
was at fault. Dietrich thought his illness must be caused by Satan,
since Luther had been particularly careful about his diet. He told
also of a fiery, serpent-like apparition, which he and Luther had
seen one evening in June at the foot of the Castle Hill. The same
night Luther fainted away, and the next day was very ill; and this
fact confirmed Dietrich in his belief.

On June 5 Luther received the news of the death of his aged father,
who breathed his last at Mansfeld, on Sunday, May 29, after long
suffering, and in the firm belief in the gospel preached by his son.
Luther was deeply moved by this intelligence. He had never ceased to
treat him with the same high filial veneration that had formerly
prompted him to dedicate to his parent his treatise on Monastic
Vows, and to invite him to the celebration of his marriage, made, as
we have seen, in accordance with his father's wish. Since his
marriage, indeed, his parents had come to visit him at Wittenberg;
and the town accounts for 1527 contain an item of expense for a
gallon of wine, given as a _vin d'honneur_ to old Luther on
that occasion. It was then that Cranach painted the portraits of
Luther's parents which are now to be seen at the Wartburg. Luther
had heard from his brother James in February 1530, that their father
was dangerously ill. He sent a letter to him thereupon, on the 15th
of that month, by the hands of his nephew Cyriac. He wrote: 'It
would be a great joy to me if only you and my mother could come to
us here. My Kate and all pray for it with tears. I should hope we
would do our best to make you comfortable.' Meanwhile he prayed
earnestly to his Heavenly Father to strengthen and enlighten with
His Holy Spirit this father whom He had given him on earth. He would
leave it in the hands of his dear Lord and Saviour whether they
should meet one another again on earth or in heaven; 'for,' said he,
'we' doubt not but that we shall shortly see each other again in the
presence of Christ, since the departure from this life is a far
smaller matter with God, than if I were to come hither from you at
Mansfeld, or you were to go to Mansfeld from me at Wittenberg.'
After he had opened the letter with the news of his father's death,
he said to Dietrich, 'So then, my father too is dead,' and then took
his Psalter at once, and went to his room, to give vent to his
tears. He expressed his grief and emotion the same day in a letter
to Melancthon. Everything, he said, that he was or had, he had
received through his Creator from this beloved father.

He kept up his intimacy with his friends at Wittenberg through his
letters to his wife, and by a correspondence with his friend Jerome
Weller, who had come to live in his house, and who assisted in the
education of his son, little Hans. Weller, formerly a jurist, and
already thirty years old, was then studying theology at Wittenberg.
He suffered from low spirits, and Luther repeatedly sent him from
Coburg comfort and good advice. The little Hans had now begun his
lessons, and Weller praised him as a painstaking pupil. Luther's
well-known letter to him was dated from Coburg, June 19. Written in
the midst of the most serious studies and the most important events
and reflections, it must on no account be omitted in a survey of
Luther's life and character. It runs as follows:--

'Grace and peace in Christ, my dear little son. I am pleased to see
that thou learnest thy lessons well, and prayest diligently. Do
thus, my little son, and persevere; when I come home I will bring
thee a fine "fairing." I know of a pretty garden where merry
children run about that wear little golden coats, and gather nice
apples and pears, and cherries, and plums under the trees, and sing
and dance, and ride on pretty horses with gold bridles and silver
saddles. I asked the man of the place, whose the garden was, and
whose the children were. He said, "These are the children who pray
and learn, and are good." Then I answered, "Dear sir, I also have a
son who is called Hans Luther. May he not also come into this
garden, and eat these nice pears and apples, and ride a little horse
and play with these children?" The man said, "If he says his
prayers, and learns, and is good, he too may come into the garden;
and Lippus and Jost may come, [Footnote: Melancthon's son Philip,
and Jonas's son Jodocus.] and when they all come back, they shall
have pipes and drums and lutes and all sorts of stringed instruments,
and they shall dance and shoot with little crossbows." Then he
showed me a smooth lawn in the garden laid out for dancing, where
hung pipes of pure gold, and drums and beautiful silver crossbows.
But it was still early, and the children had not dined. So I could
not wait for the dance, and said to the man, "Dear sir, I will go
straight home and write all this to my dear little son Hans, that he
may pray diligently and learn well and be good, and so come into this
garden; but he has an aunt, Lene, [Footnote: Hans's great-aunt,
Magdalen, mentioned in Part VI. Ch. vii.] whom he must bring with
him." And the man answered, "So it shall be; go home and write as you
say." Therefore, dear little son Hans, learn and pray with a
good heart, and tell Lippus and Jost to do the same, and then you
will all come to the beautiful garden together. Almighty God guard
you. Give my love to aunt Lene, and give her a kiss for me. In the
year 1530.--Your loving father, MARTIN LUTHER.'

The intercourse between Coburg and Augsburg was, as may be imagined,
well kept up by letters and messengers.

But the crisis of importance arrived when now the great decision
approached, or at least seemed to approach, for it was most
unexpectedly delayed.

Though the Elector had entered Augsburg on May 2, the Emperor did
not arrive there till June 15. He had stopped on the way at
Innspruck, where Duke George and other princes hostile to the
Reformation hastened to present themselves before him.

In the meanwhile, Melancthon worked with great industry and anxious
labour at the Apology and Confession which the Elector of Saxony was
to lay before the Diet. Luther warned him, by his own example,
against ruining his head by immoderate exertion. He wrote to him on
May 12: 'I command you and all your company, that they compel you,
under pain of excommunication, to keep your poor body by rule and
order, so that you may not kill yourself and imagine that you do so
from obedience to God. We serve God also by taking holiday and
resting; yes, indeed, in no other way better.' Melancthon had begun
this work at Coburg, while there with Luther, and based his most
important propositions of dogma on the articles which Luther had
drawn up in the previous autumn at Schwabach. His chief efforts,
however, in accordance with his own inclination and line of thought,
were directed to representing the evangelical doctrines as agreeing
with the traditional doctrines of the universal Christian Church;
and the Protestant Reformation as simply the abolition of certain
practical abuses. Never would Luther have consented to submit to the
Diet, and the Papists and enemies of the gospel there present, a
Confession which marked so faintly the gulf of difference between
himself and them. Nevertheless he gladly approved of this
composition of his peace-making friend, which was sent to him for
his opinion by the Elector immediately on its completion, on May 11.
His verdict was: 'I like it well enough, and see nothing to alter or
improve; indeed, I could not do so if I would, for I cannot tread so
softly and gently. May Christ, our Lord, help that it may bring
forth much fruit, as we hope and pray it will.' He encouraged the
Elector, in a letter full of tender words of comfort, to keep his
heart firm and patient, even if he had to stay in a tedious place.
He pointed out to him God's great token of His love, in granting so
freely to him and to his people the word of grace, and especially in
allowing the tender youth, the boys and girls who were his subjects,
to grow up in his country as in a pleasant Paradise of God.

News now reached them of the Emperor, that he blamed the Elector for
the non-execution of the Edict of Worms, and forbade the clergymen
whom the Protestant princes had brought to Augsburg, to preach
there,--a prohibition against which even Luther admitted they were
powerless. On the other side, Melancthon was particularly troubled
and annoyed that the Landgrave Philip would not admit a repudiation
of Zwingli's doctrine in the Confession, to which Melancthon
attached the utmost importance, not only on account of the intrinsic
objections to that doctrine, but chiefly in the interests of
bringing about a reconciliation with the Catholics. He begged
Luther, on May 22, to try and influence Philip by letter on this

Luther appears to have shown but little inclination to accede to the
request. Melancthon, waiting for his assent, stopped writing to him.
Meanwhile Luther's friends at Augsburg were looking with anxiety for
the arrival and first appearance of the Emperor. Three whole weeks
passed by before Luther again received a letter from them; it was
just at this time that he was mourning the death of his father.

Luther was exceedingly indignant at this silence. On receiving
another letter, on June 13, from Melancthon, who said he was
impatiently waiting for the letter to the Landgrave, Luther sent
back the messenger without an answer, and at first was unwilling
even to read the letter. He did, however, now, what was asked of
him. He earnestly but calmly entreated Philip not to espouse their
opponents' doctrine of the Sacrament, or allow himself to be moved
by their 'sweet good' words. And when now Melancthon, whom he had
seriously frightened by his anger, grew restless and desponding and
sleepless with increasing disquietude, through the difficulties at
Augsburg, the threats of his embittered Catholic opponents, and the
anxiety as to submitting the Confession to the Elector, and the
consequences of so doing, and news also reached Luther of the
troubles and distress of his other friends, he repeatedly sent to
them at Augsburg fresh words of encouragement, comfort, and counsel,
which remain to attest, more than anything else, the nobleness of
his mind and character. He speaks, as from a height of confident,
clear, and proud conviction, to those who are struggling in the
whirl and vortex of earthly schemes and counsels. He has gained this
height, and maintains it in the implicit faith with which he clings
to the invisible God, as if he saw Him; and, raised above the world,
he enjoys filial communion with his Heavenly Father.

In answering another anxious letter from Melancthon on the 27th, he
reproved his friend for the cares which he allowed to consume him,
and which were the result, he said, not of the magnitude of the task
before him, but of his own want of faith. 'Let the matter be ever so
great,' he said, 'great also is He who has begun and who conducts
it; for it is not our work.... "Cast thy burthen upon the Lord; the
Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him." Does He say that to
the wind, or does He throw his words before animals?... It is your
worldly wisdom that torments you, and not theology. As if you, with
your useless cares, could accomplish anything. What more can the
devil do than strangle us? I conjure you, who in all other matters
are so ready to fight, to fight against yourself as your greatest

Two days after, he had already another letter from his friend to
answer. He saw from it, he said, the labour and trouble, the
distress and tears of his friends. He received also the Confession,
now completed, and had to give his opinion whether it would be
possible to make still more concessions to the Romanists. Upon this
point he wrote: 'Day and night I am occupied with it, I turn it over
every way in my mind, I meditate and argue, and examine the
Scriptures on the subject, and more and more convinced do I become
of the truth of our doctrine, and more resolved never, if God will,
to allow another letter to be torn from us, be the consequence what
it may.' But he objected to the others speaking of 'following his
authority;' the cause was theirs as much as his, and he himself
would defend it, even if he stood alone. He then referred the
anxious Melancthon again to that Faith which had certainly no place
in his rhetoric or philosophy. For faith, he said, must recognise
the Supernatural and the Invisible, and he who attempts to see and
understand it receives only cares and tears for his reward, as
Melancthon did now. 'The Lord said that He would dwell in the thick
darkness,' 'and make darkness His secret place' (1 Kings viii. 12;
Psalm xviii. 11). 'He who wishes, let him do differently; had Moses
wished first to "understand" what the end of Pharaoh's army would
be, then Israel would still be in Egypt. May the Lord increase faith
in you and all of us; if we have that, what in all the world shall
the devil do with us?'

He hastened to send off this letter, and wrote more again on the
same subject the next day, June 30, to Jonas, who had informed him
of Melancthon's afflictions and of the fierce hatred of their
Catholic opponents; also to Spalatin, Agricola, and Brenz, and to
the young Duke John Frederick. He sought to calm the latter about
the 'poisonous, wicked talons' of his nearest blood-relations,
especially the Duke George. He entreated all those theological
friends to bring a wholesome influence to bear on their companion
Melancthon, and for each of them he had particular words of
affection. Melancthon, he wrote, must be dissuaded from wishing to
direct the world and thus crucifying himself. The news that 'the
princes and nations rage against the Lord's anointed,' he accepted
as a good sign; for the Psalmist's words that immediately follow
(Ps. ii. 4) were: 'He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the
Lord shall have them in derision.' He did not understand how men
could be troubled since God still lives: 'He who has created me will
be father to my son and husband to my wife; He will guide the
community and be preacher to the congregation better than I can
myself.' His letter to Melancthon shows in an interesting manner the
contrast between himself and his friend with regard to cares and
temptations. 'In private contests which concern one's own self, I am
the weaker, you the stronger combatant; but in public ones, it is
just the reverse (if, indeed, any contest can be called private
which is waged between me and Satan); for you take but small account
of your life, while you tremble for the public cause; whereas I am
easy and hopeful about the latter, knowing as I do for certain that
it is just and true, and the cause of God Himself, which has no
consciousness of sin to make it blanch, as I must about myself.
Hence, in the latter case, I am as a careless spectator.' Moreover
he felt himself just now less visited by his old spiritual
temptations, although the devil still made his body weary.

How Luther used to converse with God as his Father and Friend,
Melancthon learned that day from Dietrich. The latter heard him pray
aloud: 'I know that Thou art our Father and our God.... The danger
is Thine as well as ours; the whole cause is Thine, we have put our
hands to it because we were obliged to; do Thou protect it.' Luther
daily devoted at least three hours to prayer. He liked all his
family to do the same. He wrote home to his wife thus: 'Pray with
confidence, for all is well arranged, and God will aid us.' Two
years later he said in a sermon about the fulfilment of prayer: 'I
have tried it, and many people with me, especially when the devil
wanted to devour us at the Diet at Augsburg, and everything looked
black, and people were so excited that everyone expected things
would go to ruin, as some had defiantly threatened, and already
knives were drawn and guns were loaded; but God, in answer to our
prayers, so helped us, that those bawlers, with their clamour and
menaces, were put thoroughly to shame, and a favourable peace and a
good year granted to us.'

Just about this time, as Jonas announced to Luther, Duke John
Frederick had the arms of the Reformer cut in stone for a signet
ring, and Luther was requested, through his friend Spengler of
Nuremberg, to explain their meaning. They were peculiarly
appropriate to the times. Luther, as long ago, to our knowledge, as
the year 1517, instead of his father's arms, which were a crossbow
with two roses, had taken as his own one rose, having in its centre
a heart with a cross upon it. This, he now explained, should be a
black cross on a red heart; for, in order to be saved, it is
necessary to believe with our whole heart in our crucified Lord, and
the cross, though bringing pain and self-mortification, does not
corrupt the nature, but rather keeps the heart alive. The heart
should be placed in a white rose, to show that faith gives joy,
comfort, and peace, and because white is the colour of the spirits
and angels, and the joy is not an earthly joy. The rose itself
should be set in an azure field; just as this joy is already the
beginning of heavenly joy and set in heavenly hope, and outside,
round the field, there should be a golden ring, because heavenly
happiness was eternal and precious above all possessions.

[Illustration: FIG. 41.--LUTHER'S SEAL. (Taken from letters written
in 1517.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 42.--LUTHER'S COAT OF ARMS. (From old prints.)]

Shortly after this, Luther received the great news that the summary
of belief of German Protestants, or Augsburg Confession, had been
submitted on June 25 to the Emperor and the Estates, in the German
language. The Emperor, only the day before, had been anxious that it
should not be read aloud, but only received in writing. Publicly,
and in clear and solemn tones, the Saxon chancellor read the
statement of that evangelical faith, which, only nine years before,
at Worms, Luther had been required to retract. Luther was highly
rejoiced. He saw fulfilled the words of the Psalmist, 'I will speak
of Thy testimonies also before kings,' and he felt sure that the
remainder of the verse, 'and will not be ashamed' (Ps. cxix. 46),
would likewise be accomplished. He wrote to his Elector, saying it
was, forsooth, a clever trick of their enemies to seal the lips of
the princes' preachers at Augsburg. The consequence was, that the
Elector and the other nobles 'now preached freely under the very
noses of his Imperial Majesty and the whole Empire, who were obliged
to hear them, and could not offer any opposition.' How sorry he felt
not to have been present there himself! But he rejoiced to have seen
the day when such men stood up in such an assembly, and so bravely
bore witness to the truth of Christ.

Tidings also now arrived of a certain clemency and generosity even
on the part of the Emperor, and of the peaceful disposition of some
of the princes, such as Duke Henry of Brunswick, who invited
Melancthon to dinner, and especially of Cardinal Albert, the
Archbishop and Elector of Mayence. Luther, unlike Melancthon, was
clear and certain on one point, that an agreement with their
opponents on the questions of belief and religion was absolutely out
of the question. But he now spoke out his opinion most decidedly as
to a 'political agreement,' in spite of their differences of
belief,--an agreement, in other words, that the two Confessions and
Churches should peacefully exist together in the German Empire. This
he wished, and almost hoped, might come to pass. In the Emperor
Charles he recognised--he, the loyal-minded German--a good heart and
noble blood, worthy of all honour and esteem. He did not dare to
hope that the Emperor, surrounded as he was by evil advisers, should
actually favour the Evangelical cause, but he believed at any rate
so far in his clemency. In that spirit he once more by letter
approached the Archbishop. Since there was no hope, he wrote, of
their becoming one in doctrine, he begged him at least to use his
influence that peace might be granted to the Evangelicals. For no
one could be, or dared be, forced to accept a belief, and the new
doctrine did no harm, but taught peace and preserved peace. He
endeavoured further to appeal to the Archbishop's conscience as a
German. 'We Germans do not give up believing in the Pope and his
Italians until they bring us, not into a bath of sweat, but a bath
of blood. If German princes fell upon one another, that would make
the Pope, the little fruit of Florence, happy; he would laugh in his
sleeve and say: "There, you German beasts, you would not have me as
Pope, so have that."... I cannot hold my hands; I must strive to
help poor Germany, miserable, forsaken, despised, betrayed, and
sold--to whom indeed I wish no harm, but everything that is good, as
my duty to my dear Fatherland commands me.'

Luther then would not only not hear of surrender, but looked upon as
useless any further negotiations in matters of belief. He could not
understand why his friends were detained any longer at Augsburg,
where they had nothing to expect but menace and bravado on the part
of their opponents. On July 15 he wrote to them: 'You have rendered
unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that
are God's.... May Christ confess us, as you have confessed Him....
Thus I absolve you from this assembly in the Name of the Lord. Now
go home again--go home!'

But they had still to wait for a Refutation, which the Emperor
caused to be drawn up by some strict Catholic theologians, among
whom were Eck, the old and ever violent and active enemy of Luther,
and John Cochlaeus, originally a champion of Humanism, but who had,
since the beginning of the great contest in the Church,
distinguished himself by petty but bitter polemics against Luther,
and now assisted Duke George in the place of the deceased Emser.
Meanwhile the spiritual and temporal lords caused the Protestants to
fear the worst. For Melancthon, these were his worst and weakest
hours. He even sought to pacify the Papal legate, by representing
that there was no dogma in which they differed from the Roman
Church. He thought it possible that even large concessions might be
made, so far at least as regarded the rites and services of the
Church. For these were external things, and the bishops belonged to
the authorities whom God had placed over the externals of life.

Luther therefore had still to wait with patience. He continued his
encouraging letters, nor did even menaces disturb him. He remembered
that too sharp an edge gets only full of notches, and that, as he
had already been told by Staupitz, God first shuts the eyes of those
He wishes to plague. To begin a war now would be dangerous even to
their enemies; the beginning would lead to no progress, the war to
no victory. To Melancthon he spoke, using a coarse German proverb,
about a man who 'died of threatening.'

He drew his richest and most powerful utterances from his one
highest source, the Scriptures. In his own peculiar manner he
expressed himself once to Bruck, the chancellor of the Saxon
Elector, his temporal adviser at Augsburg, and a man who did much to
further the Reformation. 'I have lately,' he wrote, 'on looking out
of the window, seen two wonders: the first, the glorious vault of
heaven, with the stars, supported by no pillar and yet firmly fixed;
the second, great thick clouds hanging over us, and yet no ground
upon which they rested, or vessel in which they were contained; and
then, after they had greeted us with a gloomy countenance and passed
away, came the luminous rainbow, which like a frail thin roof
nevertheless bore the great weight of water.' If anyone amidst the
present troubles was not satisfied with the power of faith, Luther
would compare him to a man who should seek for pillars to prevent
the heavens from falling, and tremble and shake because he could not
find them. He was willing, as he wrote in this letter, to rest
content, even if the Emperor would not grant the political peace
they hoped for; for God's thoughts are far above men's thoughts, and
God, and not the Emperor, must have the honour. In a letter to
Melancthon he explained calmly and clearly the duty of
distinguishing between the bishops as temporal princes or
authorities, and the bishops as spiritual shepherds, and how, in
this latter capacity, they must never be allowed the right of
burdening Christ's flock with arbitrary rites and ordinances.

He now published a series of small tracts, one after the other, in
which, with inflexible determination, he again asserted the
evangelical principles against Catholic errors. In this spirit he
wrote about the Church and Church authority; against purgatory;
about the keys of the Church, or how Christ dispenses real
forgiveness of sins to His community; against the worship of the
saints; about the right celebration of the Sacrament, and so forth.
Regardless of the pending questions of dispute, his thoughts
reverted likewise to the needy condition of the schools: he wrote a
special tract, 'On the duty of keeping Children at school.' His
Commentary on the 118th Psalm was now followed by one upon the
117th. He also worked indefatigably at the translation of the
Prophets. Thus steadily he persevered in his labours, suffering more
or less in his head, always weak and 'capricious.' At the conclusion
of his stay at Coburg he told a friend that, on account of the
'buzzing and dizziness' in his head, he had been obliged, with all
his regularity of habits, to make a holiday of more than half the

On August 3 the Catholic Refutation was at length submitted to the
Diet. It showed indeed, as did the imperial proclamation convoking
the Diet, that it was far from the Emperor's intention to have the
opinions of both sides fairly heard and judged in a friendly and
impartial spirit: on the contrary, he demanded that the Protestants
should declare themselves convinced by it, and therefore conquered.
The Landgrave Philip replied to this demand by quitting Augsburg on
August 6, without the leave and contrary to the command of the
Emperor, and hastening home, openly resolved, in case of need, to
meet force by force. But the Emperor, though urged by Rome to take
violent measures, was not prepared, as indeed Luther had guessed,
for such a sudden stroke. He preferred to adopt a more peaceful and
mediating course, and to attempt once more to settle the differences
by a mixed commission of fourteen, and afterwards by a new and
smaller committee, in which Melancthon alone represented the
Evangelical theologians.

The Protestants had now to consider seriously the question of a
possible submission which Melancthon had hitherto been anxiously
pondering with himself. Luther's view of the entire standpoint and
interests of the Romish Church was now confirmed by the fact that
her representatives attached less importance to the more profound
differences of doctrine in regard to the inward means of salvation,
than to the restoration of episcopal rights and forms of worship,
such as, in particular, the mass and the Sacrament in both kinds,
which formed the principal difficulties during the negotiations. On
the other hand, no one had taught more clearly than Luther the
freedom which belongs to Christians in outward forms of constitution
and worship, and which enables them to yield to and serve each other
on these very points. But he had none the less earnestly cautioned
against making concessions to ecclesiastical tyrants, who might make
use of them to enslave and mislead souls. In this respect Melancthon
now showed himself entirely resolved. He longed for a restoration of
the Catholic episcopacy for the Evangelicals, not only for the sake
of peace, but because he despaired of securing otherwise a genuine
regulation of the Church in the face of arbitrary princes and
undisciplined multitudes. In fact the Protestants on this commission
were willing to promise lawful obedience to the bishops, if only the
questions of service and doctrine were left to a free Council. As
regarded the service of the mass the point at issue was whether the
Protestants could not and ought not to accept it with its whole act
of priestly sacrifice, if only an explanation were added as to the
difference between this sacrifice and the sacrifice of Christ upon
the Cross. Other Protestants, on the contrary, especially the
representatives of Nuremberg, became suspicious and angry at such a
way of settling matters, and especially at the behaviour of
Melancthon. Spengler at Nuremberg wrote accordingly to Luther. The
situation was all the more critical, since the negotiations,
according to the wish of the Emperor, were to proceed uninterruptedly,
and there was no time to obtain an opinion from Coburg.

Luther now, to whom the Elector submitted the Articles which were to
bring about an agreement, sent a very calm, clear answer, entering
into all the particulars. He gave a purely practical judgment,
though resting upon the highest principles. Thus, with regard to the
mass, he says that the Catholic liturgy contained the inadmissible
idea that we must pray to God to accept the Body of His Son as a
sacrifice; if this were to be explained in a gloss, either the words
of the liturgy would have to be falsified by the gloss, or the gloss
by the words of the liturgy. It would be wrong and foolish to run
into danger unnecessarily about so troublesome a word. He warned
Melancthon especially against the power of the bishops. He knew well
that obedience to them meant a restriction of the freedom of the
gospel; but the bishops would not consider themselves equally bound,
and would declare it a breach of faith if everything that they
wished were not observed. He then quietly expressed his conviction
that the whole attempt at negotiation was a vain delusion. It was
wished to make the Pope and Luther agree together, but the Pope was
unwilling and Luther begged to be excused. Firmly and calmly he
relied on the consciousness, whatever happened, of his own
independence and strength. Thus he wrote to Spengler: 'I have
commended the matter to God, and I think also I have kept it so well
in hand that nobody can find me defenceless on any point so long as
Christ and I are united.' To Spalatin he wrote: 'Free is Luther, and
free also is the Macedonian (Philip of Hesse).... Only be brave and
behave like men!' We have taken this from letters rich in similar
thoughts, addressed by Luther on August 26 to the Elector John,
Melancthon, Spalatin, and Jonas, and from other letters written two
days after to the three last-named friends and to Spengler. He
likewise wrote for Brenz on the 26th a preface to his Exposition of
the Prophet Amos. This preface shows us how Luther himself judged
his own words which he sent forth with such power. His own speech,
he says, is a wild wood, compared with the clear, pure flow of
Brenz's language; it was, to compare small things with great, as if
his was the strong spirit of Elijah, the wind tearing up the rocks,
and the earthquake and fire, whereas Brenz's was the 'still, small
voice.' Yet God needs also rough wedges for rough logs, and together
with the fruitful rain He sends the storm of thunder and lightning
to purify the air.

If, however, Protestantism was then threatened by danger from
mistaken concessions, the danger was soon averted by the demands of
its opponents, who went too far even for a Melancthon. The
proceedings of the smaller committee had likewise to be closed
without any result. On September 8 Luther was able at last to tell
his wife that he hoped soon to return home; to his little Hans he
promised to bring a 'beautiful large book of sugar,' which his
cousin Cyriac, who had travelled with Luther to Augsburg and
Nuremberg, had brought for him out of that 'beautiful garden.' On
the 14th he received a visit from Duke John Frederick and Count
Albert of Mansfeld upon their return from the Diet. The former
brought him the signet ring, which, however, was too large even for
his thumb; he remarked that lead, not gold, was fitting for him. He
only wished he could see his other friends also escaped from
Augsburg; and although the Duke was ready to take him away with him,
he preferred to remain behind at Coburg, in order, as he wrote to
Melancthon, to receive them there and wipe off their perspiration
after their hot bath.

At Augsburg negotiations were re-opened with Melancthon and Bruck;
the Nuremberg deputy even thought it necessary to complain in the
strongest terms of an 'underhand unchristian stratagem' against
which Melancthon would no longer listen to a word of remonstrance;
and Luther, who heard of these complaints through Spengler and Link,
expressed indeed his full confidence to his Saxon theologians, and
was particularly anxious not to wound Melancthon, but earnestly and
pressingly begged him and Jonas, on the 20th of the month, to inform
him about the matter, to be on their guard against the crafty
attacks of their enemies, and to renounce finally all idea of a
compromise. While, however, these letters were on their way past
Nuremberg through Spengler's hands, it was already known there that
the new attempt, especially that against the constancy of Jonas and
Spalatin, had shipwrecked, and Spengler consequently did not forward
them to their address. The Evangelical States adhered to their
Protest of 1529 and to the Imperial Recess of 1526.

The Emperor made known his displeasure at this result, but found
that even those princes who were most zealous against the
innovations, were not equally zealous to plunge into at least a
doubtful war for the extirpation of heresy, and the aggrandisement,
moreover, of the Emperor's authority and power, and accordingly he
resolved to put off the decision. On the 22nd he announced a Recess,
which gave the Protestants, whose Confession, it was stated, had
been publicly heard and refuted, time till the 15th of the following
April for consideration whether, in the matter of the articles in
dispute, they would return to unity with the Church, Pope, and
Empire. The Emperor, meanwhile, engaged to bring about the meeting
of a Council within a year, for the removal of real ecclesiastical
grievances, but reserved until that period the consideration of what
further steps should eventually be taken. The Evangelicals protested
that their Confession had never been refuted, and proceeded to lay
before the Emperor an apology for it, drawn up by Melancthon. They
accepted the time offered for consideration. So far then the promise
was given of the political peace which Luther had wished and hoped
for. Referring to the other dangers and menaces before them, he said
to Spengler: 'We are cleared and have done enough; the blood be upon
their own head.'

Yet another attempt at union came to Luther at Coburg from quite a
different quarter. Strasburg, and three other South German towns,
Constance, Memmingen, and Lindau, differing as they did from the
Lutherans in the Sacramental controversy, had laid before the Diet a
Confession of their own--the so-called Tetrapolitana. They too, like
Zwingli, refused to recognise any partaking of the Body of Christ by
the mouth and body of the receiver, but at the same time, unlike
him, they based their whole view of the Eucharist on the assumption
of a real Divine gift and a spiritual enjoyment of the 'real Body'
of Christ. On the strength of this view, Butzer, the theological
representative of Strasburg, sought to make further overtures to the
Wittenbergers. He was not deterred by Melancthon's mistrustful
opposition or by Luther's leaving a letter of his unanswered. He now
appeared in person at the Castle of Coburg, and on September 25 had
a confidential and friendly interview with Luther. The latter still
refused to content himself with a mere 'spiritual partaking,' and,
though demanding above all things entire frankness, did not himself
conceal a constant suspicion. However, he himself began to hope for
good results, and assured Butzer he would willingly sacrifice his
life three times over, if thereby this division might be put an end
to. This fortunate beginning encouraged Butzer to further attempts,
which he made afterwards in private.

The day after the reading of the Recess, the Elector John was able
at length to leave the Diet and set forward on his journey home. The
Emperor took leave of him with these words: 'Uncle, Uncle, I did not
look for this from you.' The Elector, with tears in his eyes, went
away in silence. After staying a short time at Nuremberg, he paid a
visit, with his theologians, to Luther. They left Coburg together on
October 5, and travelled by Altenburg, where Luther preached on
Sunday, the 9th, to the royal residence at Torgau. After Luther had
also preached here on the following Sunday, he returned to his home.



No sooner had Luther resumed his official duties at Wittenberg, than
he again undertook extra and very arduous work. Bugenhagen went in
October to Lubeck, as he had previously gone to Brunswick and Hamburg.
The most important advance made by the Reformation during those years
when its champions had to fight so stoutly at the Diets for their
rights, was in the North German cities. Luther, soon after his arrival
at Coburg, had received news that Lubeck and Luneburg had accepted the
Reformation. The citizens of Lubeck refused to allow any but Evangelical
preachers, and abolished all non-evangelical usages, though an
opposition party appealed to the Emperor, and actually induced him
to issue a mandate prohibiting the innovations. To organise the new
Church, the Lubeckers would have preferred the assistance of Luther
himself; but failing him, their delegates begged the Elector John,
when at Augsburg, to send them at least Bugenhagen. Under these
circumstances Luther agreed that Bugenhagen should be allowed to
go, although the Wittenberg congregation and university could
hardly spare him. His friend was wanted at Wittenberg, said Luther,
all the more because he himself could not be of any use much longer;
for what with his failing years and his bad health, so weary was he
of life that this accursed world would soon have seen and suffered
the last of him.

Nevertheless, he again undertook at once, so far as his health
permitted, the official duties of the town pastor, who this time was
absent from Wittenberg for a year and a half, until April 1532;
Luther, accordingly, not only preached the weekly sermons on
Wednesdays and Saturdays, on the Gospels of St. Matthew and St.
John, but attended continuously to the care of souls and the
ordinary business of his office. He would reproach himself with the
fact that under his administration the poor-box of the church was
neglected, and that he was often too tired and too lazy to do
anything. The pains in his head, the giddiness, and the affections
of his heart now recurred, and grew worse in March and June 1531,
while the next year they developed symptoms of the utmost gravity
and alarm.

All this time he worked with indefatigable industry to finish his
translation of the Prophets; in the autumn of 1531 he told Spalatin
that he devoted two hours daily to the task of correction. He
brought out a new and revised edition of the Psalms, and published
some of them with a practical exposition.

In addition to these literary labours, which ever remained his first
delight, Luther's chief task was to advise his Elector upon the
salient questions, transactions, and dangers of Church politics,
which, with the Recess of the Diet and the period thereby allotted
for their consideration, had become matters of real urgency. And, in
fact, it was to his valuable and conscientious advice that the
Protestants in general throughout the Empire looked for guidance.

On November 19 the Recess of the Diet, passed in defiance of the
Protestants, was published at Augsburg. They accepted the time
allowed them for consideration, but the Emperor and the Empire
insisted on maintaining the old ordinances of the Church, and the
Protestants were now required to surrender the ecclesiastical and
monastic property in their hands. The latter observed, moreover,
that the Recess contained no actual promise of peace on the part of
the Emperor, but that the States only were commanded to keep peace.
In fact, the Emperor had already promised the Pope on October 4 to
employ all his force to suppress the Protestants. He immediately
subjected the Supreme Court of the Empire--the so-called Imperial
Chamber--to a visitation, and instructed it to enforce strictly the
contents of the Recess in ecclesiastical and religious matters. Thus
the campaign against the Protestants was to begin with the
institution of processes at law, with reference particularly to the
question of Church property. Furthermore, to secure the authority
and continue the policy of the Emperor during his absence, his
brother Ferdinand was to be elected King of the Romans. John of
Saxony, the only Protestant among the Electors, opposed the
election. He appealed to the fact that the nomination was a direct
violation of a decision of imperial law, the Golden Bull, which
declared that the proposal for such an election, during the lifetime
of the Emperor, must first be unanimously resolved on by the
Electors. The Emperor had a Papal brief in his hands which empowered
him to exclude John, as a heretic, from electing, but he did not
find it prudent to make use of it. The election actually took place
on January 5, 1531.

The Protestants now sought for protection in a firm, well-organised
union among themselves. They assembled for this purpose at
Schmalkald at Christmas 1530.

The more imminent, however, the danger to be encountered, the more
necessary it became to determine the question whether it was lawful
to resist the Emperor. The jurists who advised in favour of
resistance, adduced certain arguments, without, however, stating any
very clear or forcible reasons of law. They quoted principles of
civil law, to show that a judge, whose sentence is appealed against
to a higher court, has no right to execute it by force, and that if
he does so, resistance may lawfully be offered him; and they
proceeded to apply this analogy to the appeal of the Protestants to
a future Council, and the action taken against them, while their
appeal was still pending, by the Emperor. They were nearer the mark
when they argued that, according to the constitution of the Empire
and the imperial laws themselves, the sovereignty of the Emperor was
in no sense unlimited or incapable of being resisted; but then the
difficulty here was, that the right of individual States to oppose
decrees, passed at a regular Diet by the Emperor and the majority of
the members present, was not yet proved. There was a general want of
clearness and precision connected with the theories then being
developed of the relations of the different States and the
interpretation of their rights. Upon this matter, then, Luther was
called on again, with the other Wittenberg theologians, to give an
opinion. The jurists also, especially the chancellor Bruck, were
associated with them in their deliberations.

On the question about Ferdinand's election as King of Rome, Luther
strongly advised his Elector to give way. The danger which, in the
event of his refusal, menaced both himself and the whole of Germany
appeared to Luther far too serious to justify it. The occasion would
be used to deprive him of the Electorship, and perhaps give it to
Duke George; and Germany would be rent asunder and plunged into war
and misery. This, said Luther, was his advice; adding, however, that
as he held such a humble position in the world, he did not
understand to give much advice in such important matters, nay, he
was 'too much like a child in these worldly affairs.'

But a change had now come in his views about the right of
resistance; a change which, though in reality but an advance upon
his earlier principles, led to an opposite result. He taught that
civil authorities and their ordinances were distinctly of God, and
by these ordinances he understood, according to the Apostle's words,
the different laws of different States, so far as they had anywhere
acquired stability. With regard to Germany, as we have seen, his
good monarchical principles did not as yet prevent his holding the
opinion that the collective body of the princes of the Empire could
dethrone an unworthy Emperor. The determining question with him now
was what the law of the Empire or the edict of the Emperor himself
would decide, in the event of resistance being offered by individual
States of the Empire, which found themselves and their subjects
injured in their rights and impeded in the fulfilment of their
duties. The answer to this, however, he conceived to be a matter no
longer for theologians, but for men versed in the law, and for
politicians. Theologians could only tell him that though, indeed, a
Christian, simply as a Christian, must willingly suffer wrong, yet
the secular authorities, and therefore every German prince having
authority, were bound to uphold their office given them by God, and
protect their subjects from wrong. As to what were the established
ordinances and laws of each individual State, that was a matter for
jurists to decide, and for the princes to seek their counsel.
Accordingly, the Wittenberg theologians declared as their opinion
that if those versed in the law could prove that in certain cases,
according to the law of the Empire, the supreme authority could be
resisted, and that the present case was one of that description, not
even theologians could controvert them from Scripture. In condemning
previously all resistance, they said, they 'had not known that the
sovereign power itself was subject to the law.' The net result was
that the allies really considered themselves justified in offering
resistance to the Emperor, and prepared to do so. The responsibility,
as Luther warned them, must rest with the princes and politicians,
inasmuch as it was their duty to see that they had right on their
side. 'That is a question,' he said, 'which we neither know nor
assert: I leave them to act.'

Luther gave open vent to his indignation at the Recess of the Diet
and the violent attacks of the Catholics in two publications, early
in 1531, one entitled 'Gloss on the supposed Edict of the Emperor,'
and the other, 'Warning to his beloved Germans.' In the former he
reviewed the contents of the Edict and the calumnies it heaped upon
the Evangelical doctrines, not intending, as he said, to attack his
Imperial Majesty, but only the traitors and villains, be they
princes or bishops, who sought to work their own wicked will, and
chief of all the arch-rogue, the so-called Vicegerent of God, and
his legates. The other treatise contemplates the 'very worst evil'
of all that then threatened them, namely, a war resulting from the
coercive measures of the Emperor and the resistance of the
Protestants. As a spiritual pastor and preacher he wished to counsel
not war, but peace, as all the world must testify he had always been
the most diligent in doing. But he now openly declared that if,
which God forbid, it came to war, he would not have those who
defended themselves against the bloodthirsty Papists censured as
rebellious, but would have it called an act of necessary defence,
and justify it by referring to the law and the lawyers.

These publications occasioned fresh dealings with Duke George, who
again complained to the Elector about them, and also about certain
letters falsely ascribed to Luther, and then published a reply,
under an assumed name, to his first pamphlet. Luther answered this
'libel' with a tract entitled 'Against the Assassin at Dresden,' not
intended, as many have supposed, to impute murderous designs to the
Duke, but referring to the calumnies and anonymous attacks in his
book. The tone employed by Luther in this tract reminds us of his
saying that 'a rough wedge is wanted for a rough log.' It brought
down upon him a fresh admonition from his prince, in reply to which
he simply begged that George might for the future leave him in

The imminence of the common danger favoured the attempts of the
South German States to effect an agreement with the German
Protestants, and the efforts of Butzer in that direction. Luther
himself acknowledged in a letter to Butzer, how very necessary a
union with them was, and what a scandal was caused to the gospel by
their rupture hitherto, nay, that if only they were united, the
Papacy, the Turks, the whole world, and the very gates of hell would
never be able to work the gospel harm. Nevertheless, his conscience
forbade him to overlook the existing differences of doctrine; nor
could he imagine why his former opponents, if they now acknowledged
the Real Presence of the Body at the Sacrament, could not plainly
admit that presence for the mouth and body of all partakers, whether
worthy or unworthy. He deemed it sufficient at present, that each
party should desist from writing against the other, and wait until
'perhaps God, if they ceased from strife, should vouchsafe further
grace.' The new explanations, however, were enough to make the
Schmalkaldic allies abandon their scruples to admitting the South
Germans, and they were accordingly received into the league.

Thus then, at the end of March 1531, a mutual defensive alliance for
six years of the members of the Schmalkaldic League was concluded
between the Elector John, the Landgrave Philip, three Dukes of
Brunswick Luneburg, Prince Wolfgang of Anhalt, Counts Albert and
Gebhard of Mansfeld, the North German towns of Magdeburg, Bremen,
and Lubeck, and the South German towns of Strasburg, Constance,
Memmingen, and Lindau, and also Ulm, Reutlingen, Bibrach, and Isny.
Even Luther no longer raised any objections.

By this alliance the Protestants presented a firm and powerful front
among the constituent portions of the German Empire. Their
adversaries were not so agreed in their interests. Between the Dukes
of Bavaria, and between the Emperor and Ferdinand, political
jealousy prevailed to an extent sufficient to induce the former to
combine with the heretics against the newly-elected King. Outside
Germany, Denmark reached the hand of fellowship to the Schmalkaldic
League; for the exiled King of Denmark, Christian II., who had
previously turned to the Saxon Elector and been friendly to Luther,
now sought, after returning in all humility to the orthodox Church,
to regain his lost sovereignty with the help of his brother-in-law,
the Emperor. The King of France also was equally ready to make
common cause with the Protestant German princes against the growing
power of Charles V.

As for Luther, we find no notice on his part of the schemes and
negotiations connected with these political events, much less any
active participation in them. There was just then a rupture pending
between Henry VIII. of England and the Emperor, and the former was
preparing to secede from the Church of Rome. Henry was anxious for a
divorce from his wife Katharine of Arragon, an aunt of the Emperor,
on the ground of her previous marriage with his deceased brother,
which, as he alleged, made his own marriage with her illegal; and
since the Pope, in spite of long negotiations, refused, out of
regard for the Emperor, to accede to his request, Henry had an
opinion prepared by a number of European universities and men of
learning, on the legality and validity of his marriage, which in
fact for the most part declared against it. A secret commissioner of
the former 'Protector of the Faith' was then sent to the
Wittenbergers, and to Luther, whom he had so grossly insulted.
Luther, however, pronounced (Sept. 5, 1531) against the divorce, on
the ground that the marriage, though not contrary to the law of God
as set forth in Scripture, was prohibited by the human law of the
Church. The political side of the question he disregarded
altogether. He expressed himself to Spalatin, in a certain tone of
sadness, about the Pope's evil disposition towards the Emperor, the
intrigues he seemed to be promoting against him in France, and the
animosity of Henry VIII. towards him on account of his decision on
the marriage; and added, 'Such is the way of this wicked world; may
God take our Emperor under His protection!'

With Charles V. and Ferdinand the question of peace or war was, of
necessity, largely governed by the menacing attitude of the Turks;
in fact it determined their policy in the matter. Luther kept this
danger steadily in view; after the publication of the Recess he
promised the wrath of God upon those madmen who would enter upon a
war while they had the Turks before their very eyes. Ferdinand in
vain sought to conclude a treaty of peace with the Sultan, who
demanded him to surrender all the fortresses he still possessed in a
part of Hungary, and reserved the right of making further conquests.
He was even induced, in March 1581, to advise his brother to effect
a peaceful arrangement with the Protestants, in order to ensure
their assistance in arms. Attempts at reconciliation were
accordingly made through the intervention of the Electors of the
Palatinate and Mayence. The term allowed by the Diet (April 15)
passed by unnoticed. The Emperor also directed the 'suspension of
the proceedings, which he had been authorised by the Recess of
Augsburg to set on foot in religious matters, till the approaching

The negotiations were languidly protracted through the summer,
without effecting any definite result. An opinion, drawn up jointly
by Luther, Melancthon, and Bugenhagen, advised against an absolute
rejection of the proposed restoration of episcopal power; the only
thing necessary to insist upon being that the clergy and
congregations should be allowed by the bishops the pure preaching of
the gospel which had hitherto been refused them.

About this time Luther had the grief of losing his mother. She died
on June 30, after receiving from her son a consolatory letter in her
last illness. Of his own physical suffering in this month we have
already spoken. On the 26th, he wrote to Link that Satan had sent
all his messengers to buffet him (2 Cor. xii. 7), so that he could
only rarely write or do anything: the devil would probably soon kill
him outright. And yet not his will would be done, but the will of
Him who had already overthrown Satan and all his kingdom.

Soon afterwards, the desire of the Catholics for coercive measures
was stimulated afresh by the news of a defeat which the Reformed
cities in Switzerland had sustained at the hands of the five
Catholic Cantons, notwithstanding that the balance of force inclined
there far more than in Germany to the side of the Evangelicals. The
struggle which Luther was perpetually endeavouring to avert from
Germany, culminated in Switzerland in a bloody outbreak, mainly at
Zwingli's instigation. Zwingli himself fell on October 11 in the
battle of Cappel, a victim of the patriotic schemes by which he had
laboured to achieve for his country a grand reform of politics,
morality, and the Church, but for which he had failed to enlist any
intelligent or unanimous co-operation on the part of his companions
in faith. Ferdinand triumphed over this first great victory for the
Catholic cause. He was now ready to renounce humbly his claim upon
Hungary, so that, by making peace with the Sultan, he might leave
his own and the Emperor's hands free in Germany. Luther saw in the
fate of Zwingli another judgment of God against the spirit of
Munzer, and in the whole course of the war a solemn warning for the
members of the Schmalkaldic League not to boast of any human
alliance, and to do their utmost to preserve peace.

But the events in Switzerland gave no handle against those who had
not joined the Zwinglians, nor were even the latter weakened thereby
in power and organisation. The South Germans had now to cling all
the more firmly to their alliance with the Lutheran princes and
cities; the Zwinglian movement suffered shortly afterwards (Dec. 1)
a severe loss in the death of Oecolampadius. Finally the Sultan was
not satisfied with Ferdinand's repeated offers, but prepared for a
new campaign against Austria in the spring of 1532, and towards the
end of April he set out for it.

This checked the feverous desire of Germans for war against their
fellow-countrymen, and brought to a practical result the
negotiations for a treaty which had been conducted early in 1582 at
Schweinfurt, and later on at Nuremberg. They amounted to this: that
all idea of an agreement on the religious and ecclesiastical
questions in dispute was abandoned until the hoped-for Council
should take place, and that, as had long been Luther's opinion, they
should rest content with a political peace or _modus vivendi_,
which should recognise both parties in the position they then
occupied. The main dispute was on the further question, how far this
recognition should extend;--whether only to the Schmalkaldic allies,
the immediate parties to the present agreement, or to such other
States of the Empire as might go over to the new doctrine from the
old Church--which still remained the established Church of the
Emperor and the Empire in general--and, perhaps further, to
Protestant subjects of Catholic princes of the Empire. There was
also still the question as to the validity of Ferdinand's election
as King of Rome. Luther was again and again asked for his opinion on
this subject.

He was just then suffering from an unusually severe attack, which
incessantly reminded him of his approaching end. In addition, he was
deeply concerned about the health of his beloved Elector. Early in
the morning of January 22 he was seized again, as his friend
Dietrich, who lived with him, informs us, with another violent
attack in his head and heart. His friends who had come to him began
to speak of the effect his death would have on the Papists, when he
exclaimed, 'But I shall not die yet, I am certain. God will never
strengthen the Papal abominations by letting me die now that Zwingli
and Oecolampadius are just gone. Satan would no doubt like to have
it so: he dogs my heels every moment; but not his will will be done,
but the Lord's.' The physician thought that apoplexy was imminent,
and that if so, Luther could hardly recover. The attack however
seems to have quickly passed away, but Luther's head remained racked
with pain. A few weeks later, towards the end of February, he had to
visit the Elector at Torgau, who was lying there in great suffering,
and had been compelled to have the great toe of his left foot
amputated. Luther writes thence about himself to Dietrich, saying
that he was thinking about the preface to his translation of the
Prophets, but suffered so severely from giddiness and the torments
of Satan, that he well-nigh despaired of living and returning to
Wittenberg. 'My head,' he says, 'will do no more: so remember that,
if I die, your talents and eloquence will be wanted for the
preface.' For a whole month, as he remarked at the beginning of
April, he was prevented from reading, writing, and lecturing. He
informed Spalatin, in a letter of May 20, which Bugenhagen wrote for
him, that at present, God willing, he must take a holiday. And on
June 13 he told Amsdorf that his head was gradually recovering
through the intercessions of his friends, but that he despaired of
regaining his natural powers.

Notwithstanding this condition and frame of mind, Luther continued
to send cordial, calm, and encouraging words of peace, concerning
the negotiations then pending, both to the Elector John and his son
John Frederick.

Concerning Ferdinand's election Luther declared to these two princes
on February 12, and again afterwards, that it must not be allowed to
embarrass or prevent a treaty of peace. If it violated a trifling
article of the Golden Bull, that was no sin against the Holy Ghost,
and God could show the Protestants, for a mote like this in the eyes
of their enemies, whole beams in their own. It must needs be an
intolerable burden to the Elector's conscience if war were to arise
in consequence,--a war which might 'well end in rending the Empire
asunder and letting in the Turks, to the ruin of the Gospel and
everything else.'

An opinion, drawn up on May 16 by Luther and Bugenhagen, was equally
decided in counselling submission on the question as to the
extension of the truce, if peace itself depended upon it. For if the
Emperor, he said, was now pleased to grant security to the now
existing Protestant States, he did so as a favour and a personal
privilege. They could not coerce him into showing the same favour to
others. Others must make the venture by the grace of God, and hope
to gain security in like manner. Everyone must accept the gospel at
his own peril.

Luther began already to hear the reproach that to adopt such a
course would be to renounce brotherly love, for Christians should
seek the salvation and welfare of others besides themselves. He was
reproached again with disowning by his conduct the Protestant ideal
of religious freedom and the equal rights of Confessions. Very
differently will he be judged by those who realise the legal and
constitutional relations then existing in Germany, and the
ecclesiastico-political views shared in common by Protestants and
Catholics, and who then ask what was to be gained by a course
contrary to that which he advised in the way of peace and positive
law. That the sovereigns of Catholic States should secure toleration
to the Evangelical worship in their own territories was opposed to
those general principles by virtue of which the Protestant rulers
took proceedings against their Catholic subjects. According to those
principles, nothing was left for subjects who resisted the
established religion of the country but to claim free and unmolested
departure. Luther observed with justice, 'What thou wilt not have
done to thee, do not thou to others.' With regard to the further
question as to the princes who should hereafter join the
Protestants, it certainly sounds naive to hear Luther speak of a
present mere act of favour on the part of the Emperor. But he was
strictly right in his idea, that a concession, involving the
separation of some of the States of the Empire from the one Church
system hitherto established indivisibly throughout the Empire, and
their organisation of a separate Church, had no foundation whatever
in imperial law as existing before and up to the Reformation, and
could in so far be regarded simply as a free concession of the
Emperor and Empire to individual members of the general body; who,
therefore, had no right to compel the extension of this concession
to others, and thereby hazard the peace of the Empire. Something had
already been gained by the fact that at least no limitation was
expressed. A door was thus left open for extension at a future time;
and for those who wished to profit by this fact, the danger, if only
peace could be assured, was at any rate diminished. If we may see
any merit in the fact that the German nation at that time was spared
a bloody war, unbounded in its destructive results, and that a
peaceful solution was secured for a number of years, that merit is
due in the first place to the great Reformer. He acted throughout
like a true patriot and child of his Fatherland, no less than like a
true Christian teacher and adviser of conscience.

The negotiations above described involved the further question about
a Council, pending which a peaceful agreement was now effected. In
the article providing for the convocation of a 'free Christian
Council,' the Protestants demanded the addition of the words, 'in
which questions should be determined according to the pure Word of
God.' On this point, however, Luther was unwilling to prolong the
dispute. He remarked with practical wisdom that the addition would
be of no service; their opponents would in any case wish to have the
credit of having spoken according to the pure Word of God.

In June bad news came again from Nuremberg, tending to the belief
that the Papists had thwarted the work of peace. Luther again
exclaimed, as he had done after the Diet of Augsburg, 'Well, well!
your blood be upon your own heads; we have done enough.'

Towards the end of the month, when the Elector again invited his
opinion, he repeated, with even more urgency than before, his
warnings to those Protestants also who were 'far too clever and
confident, and who, as their language seemed to show, wished to have
a peace not open to dispute.' He begged the Elector, in all humility,
to 'write in earnest a good, stern letter to our brethren,' that they
might see how much the Emperor had graciously conceded to them which
could be accepted with a good conscience, and not refuse such a
gracious peace for the sake of some paltry, far-fetched point of
detail. God would surely heal and provide for such trifling defects.

On July 23 the peace was actually concluded at Nuremberg, and signed
by the Emperor on August 2. Both parties were mutually to practise
Christian toleration until the Council was held; one of these
parties being expressly designated as the Schmalkaldic allies. The
value of this treaty for the maintenance of Protestantism in Germany
was shown by the indignation displayed by the Papal legates from the
first at the Emperor's concessions.

The Elector John was permitted to survive the conclusion of the
peace, which he had been foremost among the princes in promoting.
Shortly after, on August 15, he was seized with apoplexy when out
hunting, and on the following day he breathed his last. Luther and
Melancthon, who were summoned to him at Schweinitz, found him
unconscious. Luther said his beloved prince, on awakening, would be
conscious of everlasting life; just as when he came from hunting on
the Lochau heath, he would not know what had happened to him; as
said the prophet (Isaiah lvii. 1, 2), 'The righteous is taken away
from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in
their beds.' Luther preached at his funeral at Wittenberg, as he had
done seven years before at his brother's, and Spalatin tells us how
he wept like a child.

John had, throughout his reign, laboured conscientiously to follow
the Word of God, as taught by Luther, and to encounter all dangers
and difficulties by the strength of faith. He has rightly earned the
surname of 'the Steadfast.' Luther especially praises his conduct at
the Diet of Augsburg in this respect; he frequently said to his
councillors on that occasion, 'Tell my men of learning that they are
to do what is right, to the praise and glory of God, without regard
to me, or to my country and people.' Luther distinguished piety and
benevolence as the two most prominent features of his character, as
wisdom and understanding had been those of the Elector Frederick's.
'Had the two princes,' he said, 'been one, that man would have been
a marvel.'





Political peace had been the blessing which Luther hoped to see
obtained for his countrymen and his Church, during the anxious time
of the Augsburg Diet. Such a peace had now been gained by the
development of political relations, in which he himself had only so
far co-operated as to exhort the Protestant States to practise all
the moderation in their power. He saw in this result the
dispensation of a higher power, for which he could never be thankful
enough to God. For the remainder of his life he was permitted to
enjoy this peace, and, so far as he could, to assist in its
preservation. In the enjoyment of it he continued to build on the
foundations prepared for him under the protecting patronage of
Frederick the Wise, and on which the first stone of the new Church
edifice had been laid under the Elector John.

A longer time was given him for this work than he had anticipated.
We have had occasion frequently to refer not only to his thoughts of
approaching death, but also to the severe attacks of illness which
actually threatened to prove fatal. Although these attacks did not
recur with such dangerous severity in the later years of his life,
still a sense of weakness and premature old age invariably remained
behind them. Exhaustion, caused by his work and the struggles he had
undergone, debarred him from exertion for which he had all the will.
He constantly complained of weakness in the head and giddiness,
which totally unfitted him for work, especially in the morning. He
would break out to his friends with the exclamation, 'I waste my
life so uselessly, that I have come to bear a marvellous hatred
towards myself. I don't know how it is that the time passes away so
quickly, and I do so little. I shall not die of years, but of sheer
want of strength.' In begging one of his friends at a distance to
visit him once more, he reminds him that, in his present state of
health, he must not forget that it might be for the last time. No
wonder then if his natural excitability was often morbidly
increased. He always looked forward with joy to his leaving this
'wicked world,' but as long as he had to work in it, he exerted all
his powers no less for his own immediate task than for the general
affairs of the Church, which incessantly demanded his attention.

The mutual trust and friendship subsisting between the Reformer and
his sovereign continued unbroken with John's son and successor, John
Frederick. This Elector, born in 1503, had, while yet a youth,
embraced Luther's teaching with enthusiasm, and leaned upon him as
his spiritual father. Luther, on his side, treated him with a
confidential, easy intimacy, but never forgot to address him as 'Most
illustrious Prince' and 'Most gracious Lord.' When the young man
assumed the Electorship, and appeared at Wittenberg a few days after
his father's death, he at once invited Luther to preach at the castle
and to dine at his table. Luther expressed indeed to friends his fear
that the many councillors who surrounded the young Elector might try
to exert evil influences upon him, and that he might have to pay dearly
for his experience. It might be, he said, that so many dogs barking
round him would make him deaf to anyone else. For instance, they might
take a grudge against the clergy and cry out, if admonished by them,
what can a mere clerk know about it? But his relations with his prince
remained undisturbed. He saw with joy how the latter was beginning to
gather up the reins which his gentle-minded father had allowed to grow
too slack, and he hoped that if God would grant a few years of peace,
John Frederick would take in hand real and important reforms in his
government, and not merely command them but see them executed.

The Elector's wife, Sybil, a princess of Juliers, shared her
husband's friendship for Luther. The Elector had married her in
1526, after taking Luther into his confidence, and being warned by
him against needlessly delaying the blessing which God had willed to
grant him. On what a footing of cordial intimacy she stood with both
Luther and his wife, is shown by a letter she wrote to him in
January 1529, while her husband was away on a journey. She says that
she will not conceal from him, as her 'good friend and lover of the
comforting Word of God,' that she finds the time very tedious now
that her most beloved lord and husband is away, and that therefore
she would gladly have a word of comfort from Luther, and be a little
cheerful with him; but that this is impossible at Weimar, so far off
as it is, and so she commends all, and Luther and his dear wife, to
the loving God, and will put her trust in Him. She begs him in
conclusion: 'You will greet your dear wife very kindly from us, and
wish her many thousand good-nights, and if it is God's will, we
shall be very glad to be with her some day, and with you also, as
well as with her: this you may believe of us at all times.' In the
last years of his life Luther had to thank her for similar greetings
and inquiries after his own health and that of his family.

In the tenth year of the new Elector's reign Luther was able
publicly and confidently to bear witness against the calumnies
brought against his government. 'There is now,' he said 'thank God,
a chaste and honourable manner of life, truthful lips, and a
generous hand stretched out to help the Church, the schools, and the
poor; an earnest, constant, faithful heart to honour the Word of
God, to punish the bad, to protect the good, and to maintain peace
and order. So pure also and praiseworthy is his married life, that
it can well serve as a beautiful example for all, princes, nobles,
and everyone--a Christian home as peaceful as a convent, which men
are so wont to praise. God's Word is now heard daily, and sermons
are well attended, and prayer and praise are given to God, to say
nothing of how much the Elector himself reads and writes every day.'
Only one thing Luther could not and would not justify, namely, that
at times the Elector, especially when he had company, drank too much
at table. Unhappily the vice of intemperance prevailed then not only
at court but throughout Germany. Still John Frederick could stand a
big drink better than many others, and, with the exception of this
failing, even his enemies must allow him to have been endued with
great gifts from God, and all manner of virtues becoming a
praiseworthy prince and a chaste husband. Luther's personal
relations with the Elector never made him scruple to express to him
freely, in his letters, words of censure as well as of praise.

In his academical lectures Luther devoted his chief labours for
several terms after 1531 to St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. He
had already commenced this task before and during the contest about
indulgences, his object having been to expound to and impress upon
his hearers and readers the great truth of justification by faith,
set forth in that Epistle with such conciseness and power. This
doctrine he always regarded as a fundamental verity and the
groundwork of religion. In all its fulness and clearness, and with
all his old freshness, vigour, and intensity of fervour, he now
exhaustively discussed this doctrine. His lectures, published, with
a preface of his, by the Wittenberg chaplain Rorer in 1535, contain
the most complete and classical exposition of his Pauline doctrine
of salvation. In the introduction to these lectures he declared that
it was no new thing that he was offering to men, for by the grace of
God the whole teaching of St. Paul was now made known; but the
greatest danger was, lest the devil should again filch away that
doctrine of faith and smuggle in once more his own doctrine of human
works and dogmas. It could never be sufficiently impressed on man,
that if the doctrine of faith perished, all knowledge of the truth
would perish with it, but that if it flourished, all good things
would also flourish, namely, true religion, and the true worship and
glory of God. In his preface he says: 'One article--the only solid
rock--rules in my heart, namely, faith in Christ: out of which,
through which, and to which all my theological opinions ebb and flow
day and night.' To his friends he says of the Epistle to the
Galatians: 'That is my Epistle, which I have espoused: it is my
Katie von Bora.'

His sermons to his congregation were now much hindered by the state
of his health. It was his practice, however, after the spring of
1532, to preach every Sunday at home to his family, his servants,
and his friends.

But his greatest theological work, which he intended for the service
of all his countrymen, was the continuation and final conclusion of
his translation of the Bible. After publishing in 1532 his
translation of the Prophets, which had cost him immense pains and
industry, the Apocrypha alone remained to be done;--the books which,
in bringing out his edition of the Bible, he designated as inferior
in value to the Holy Scriptures, but useful and good to read. Well
might he sigh at times over the work. In November 1532, being then
wholly engrossed with the book of Sirach, he wrote to his friend
Amsdorf saying that he hoped to escape from this treadmill in three
weeks, but no one can discover any trace of weariness or vexation in
the German idiom in which he clothed the proverbs and apophthegms of
this book. Notwithstanding the length of time which his task
occupied, and his constant interruptions, it has turned out a work
of one mould and casting, and shows from the first page to the last
how completely the translator was absorbed in his theme, and yet how
closely his life and thoughts were interwoven with those of his
fellow countrymen, for whom he wrote and whose language he spoke. In
1534 the whole of his German Bible was at length in print, and the
next year a new edition was called for. Of the New Testament, with
which Luther had commenced the work, as many as sixteen original
editions, and more than fifty different reimpressions, had appeared
up to 1533.

With regard to the wants of the Church, Luther looked to the energy
of the new Elector for a vigorous prosecution of the work of
visitation. A reorganisation of the Church had been effected by
these means, but many more evils had been exposed than cured, nor
had the visitations been yet extended to all the parishes. The
Elector John had already called on Luther, together with Jonas and
Melancthon, for their opinion as to the propriety of resuming them,
and only four days before his death he gave instructions on the
subject to his chancellor Bruck. John Frederick, in the first year
of his rule, did actually put the new visitation into operation, in
concert with his Landtag. The main object sought at present was to
bring about better discipline among the members of the various
congregations, and to put down the sins of drunkenness, unchastity,
frivolous swearing, and witchcraft. Luther and even Melancthon were
no longer required to give their services as visitors: Luther's
place on the commission for Electoral Saxony was filled by
Bugenhagen. His own views and prospects in regard to the condition
of the people remained gloomy. He complains that the Gospel bore so
little fruit against the powers of the flesh and the world; he did
not expect any great and general change through measures of
ecclesiastical law, but trusted rather to the faithful preaching of
the Divine Word, leaving the issue to God. It was particularly the
nobles and peasants whom he had to rebuke for open or secret
resistance against this Word. He exclaims in a letter to Spalatin,
written in 1533: '0 how shamefully ungrateful are our times!
Everywhere nobles and peasants are conspiring in our country against
the Gospel, and meanwhile enjoy the freedom of it as insolently as
they can; God will judge in the matter!' He had to complain besides
of indifference and immorality in his immediate neighbourhood, among
his Wittenbergers. Thus he addressed, on Midsummer Day 1534, after
his sermon, a severe rebuke to drunkards who rioted in taverns
during the time of Divine service, and he exhorted the magistrates
to do their duty by proceeding against them, so as not to incur the
punishment of the Elector or of God.

The territories of Anhalt, immediately adjoining the dominions of
the Saxon Elector, now openly joined the Evangelical Confession, of
which their prince, Wolfgang of Kothen, had long been a faithful
adherent; and Luther contracted in this quarter new and close
friendships, like that which subsisted between himself and his own
Elector. Anhalt Dessau was under the government of three nephews of
Wolfgang, namely, John, Joachim, and George. They had lost their
father in early life. One of them had for his guardian the strictly
Catholic Elector of Brandenburg, the second, Duke George of Saxony,
and the third, the Cardinal Archbishop Albert. George, born in 1507,
was made in 1518 canon at Merseburg, and afterwards prebendary of
Magdeburg cathedral. The Cardinal had taken peculiar interest in him
ever since his boyhood, on account of his excellent abilities, and
he did honour to his office by his fidelity, zeal, and purity of
life. The new teaching caused him severe internal struggles. His
theological studies showed him how rotten were the foundations of
the Romish system, but, on the other hand, the new doctrine awakened
suspicions on his part lest, with its advocacy of gospel liberty and
justification by faith, it might tempt to sedition and immorality.
But it finally won his heart, when he learned to know it in its pure
form through the Augsburg Confession and the Apology of Melancthon,
while the Catholic Refutation drawn up for the Diet of Augsburg
excited his disgust. His two brothers, whose devoutness of character
their enemies could no more dispute than his own, became converts
also to Protestantism. In 1532 they appointed Luther's friend
Nicholas Hausmann their court-preacher, and invited Luther and
Melancthon to stay with them at Worlitz. George, in virtue of his
office as archdeacon and prebendary of Magdeburg, himself undertook
the visitation, and had the candidates for the office of preacher
examined at Wittenberg. Luther eulogised the two brothers as
'upright princes, of a princely and Christian disposition,' adding
that they had been brought up by worthy and Godfearing parents. He
kept up a close and intimate friendship with them, both personally
and by letter. A disposition to melancholy on the part of Joachim
gave Luther an opportunity of corresponding with him. While cheering
him with spiritual consolation, he recommended him to seek for
mental refreshment in conversation, singing, music, and cracking
jokes. Thus he wrote to him in 1534 as follows: 'A merry heart and
good courage, in honour and discipline, are the best medicine for a
young man--aye, for all men. I, who have spent my life in sorrow and
weariness, now seek for pleasure and take it wherever I can....
Pleasure in sin is the devil, but pleasure shared with good people
in the fear of God, in discipline and honour, is well-pleasing to
God. May your princely Highness be always cheerful and blessed, both
inwardly in Christ, and outwardly in His gifts and good things. He
wills it so, and for that reason He gives us His good things to make
use of, that we may be happy and praise Him for ever.'

During these years, the negotiations concerning the general affairs
of the Church, the restoration of harmony in the Christian Church of
the West, and the internal union of the Protestants, still
proceeded, though languidly and with little spirit.

With the promise, and pending the assembly, of a Council, the
Religious Peace had been at length concluded. Before the close of
1532 the Emperor actually succeeded in inducing Pope Clement, at a
personal interview with him at Bologna, to announce his intention to
convoke a Council forthwith. He urged him to do so by frightening
him with the prospect of a German national synod, such as even the
orthodox States of the Empire might resolve on, in the event of the


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