TO ARCHBISHOP ALBRECHT OF MAYENCE
Out of deference to Spalatin and the Court, Luther had kept back his book against the idol at Halle, but now tries to stop the scandal.
December 1, 1521.
My services are ever at your disposal, esteemed lord! Doubtless your Electoral Grace remembers that I wrote you twice in Latin. First when those lying Indulgences were issued, under your Grace’s name (October 31, 1517), warning you against those corrupt, money-loving preachers, and their heretical books. And although I could have traced the whole uproar to your having given your sanction to the publication of these books, still I have spared your Grace, and the House of Brandenburg, fancying your Highness did it out of ignorance, led astray by false flatterers, whom I attacked as you know. But my faithful admonition was turned into ridicule, and my services repaid with ingratitude instead of thanks. The other occasion (February 4, 1520), I humbly begged to be instructed by your Grace, in answer to which I received an unkind, unbishop-like answer, referring me to a higher tribunal for instruction. Although these two letters produced no effect, I send a third warning, in German, to see if this perhaps uncalled-for petition may avail. Your Grace has again set up the idol at Halle, which robs poor simple Christians both of their money and their souls. Perhaps you fancy you are safe because I am out of the way, and that His Majesty will extinguish the monk. I do not object; but shall do what Christian love demands, and pay no attention to the gates of hell — not to speak of the popes, cardinals, and bishops. I shall not hold my peace when the Bishop of Mayence declares it is not
seemly to instruct a poor monk who begs to be enlightened, and at the same time knows how to deal with money. The dishonor is not mine, but must be sought elsewhere. Therefore, I humbly request that your Grace would prove yourself to be a bishop, and not a wolf, permitting the poor flock to be robbed. You know that the Indulgence is sheer knavery, and that Christ alone ought to be preached to the people. Your Electoral Highness must remember out of what a tiny spark this great fire arose —
the whole world fancying that one poor beggar was too insignificant for the Pope to meddle with. God still lives, and no one need doubt that He can overcome the Bishop of Mayence, whose end no one can
foresee …. Therefore I openly declare that unless the Indulgence is done away with, I must publicly attack your Grace, as well as the Pope — tracing Tetzel’s former excesses to the Archbishop of Mayence, and letting the world see the difference between a bishop and a wolf. If I be despised another will appear who will despise the despisers, as Isaiah says. And it is time to rebuke the evil- doers, that offenses may be driven from the kingdom of God. I also beg your Grace to leave the married priests in peace, and not rob them of what God has given them, else a cry will arise that the bishops should first take the beam out of their own eyes, etc. So I beg your Grace to take care, and permit me to keep silence, for I have no pleasure in your Highness’s shame and disgrace; but if you are not, then I, and all Christians, must stand up for the glory of God, even although a Cardinal should be plunged in disgrace. I expect your Grace’s answer within fourteen days. f19 If not, then my book against the idol in Halle will appear; and if your Grace’s counsellors should try to prevent its circulation I shall use means to hinder this. May God endow your Electoral Highness with grace to do the right.
From my desert. Your Electoral Grace’s obedient MARTIN LUTHER .