TO CHRISTOPH SCHEURL
Luther laments the spread of his theses. March 5, 1518.
To the learned Herr Christoph Scheurl, my esteemed friend in Christ, my greeting! I have received two letters from you, a Latin and a German one, nay good Christoph, along with a present from that superior man, Albrecht Durer, and my Latin and German propositions. You wonder I did not tell you of them. But I did not wish to have them widely circulated. I only intended submitting them to a few learned men for examination, and if they disapproved of them, to suppress them; or make them known through their publications, in the event of their meeting with your approval. But now they are being spread abroad and translated everywhere, which I never could have credited, so that I regret having given birth to them — not that I am unwilling to proclaim the truth manfully, for there is nothing I more ardently desire, but because this way of instructing the people is of little avail. As yet I am still uncertain as to some points, and would have gone into others more particularly, leaving some out entirely, had I foreseen all this.
From the rapid spread of the theses I gather what the greater part of the nation think of this kind of Indulgence, in spite of them having to disguise their opinions for fear of the Jews; still I must have the proofs of my propositions in readiness, although I cannot publish them yet, having been delayed through the Bishop of Brandenburg — whose advice I asked — being so long in returning them. Yes, when the Lord grants me leisure, I purpose issuing a book on the use and misuse of the Indulgences, in order to suppress the before-mentioned points. I have no longer any doubt that the people are
deceived, not through the Indulgences, but through their use. When I have finished these propositions I will send them to you. Meantime, pray remember me to Albrecht Durer, that excellent man, and assure him of my continued gratitude. But I expect both of you to discard your exalted opinion of me, and not to expect more from me than I can render, for I am nothing, and can do nothing, and am
daily becoming more of a cipher. I wrote lately to Dr. John Eck, to you, and to all the others, but fear you have not received the letter. I am most anxious that the pamphlet of our highly esteemed vicar “Upon Love,” which appeared the other day in Munich, and made such sensation, should be reissued among you. For we all hunger and thirst after love. I commit you to God.
MARTIN LUTHER. Wittenberg. (Schutze.)