TO JOHN REUCHLIN
The great German humanist, who was the first to spread the knowledge of Hebrew in Germany. December 14, 1518.
The Lord be with you, my valiant hero! I praise the mercy of God, which dwells in you, my learned and esteemed sir, through which you have at length stopped the mouths of those who spoke against you. Certainly you are an instrument of Divine Providence, although you may not know it. But those who have the cause of sacred learning at heart have for long earnestly desired one such as you, and God’s purposes were very different from what your actions would have led people to suppose they were. I was one of those who greatly desired to be with you, but the opportunity never presented itself. Still I have been ever with you, with my wishes and prayers, but what was not possible for the young comrade has been granted in rich measure to his successor.
I am now being attacked by the Behemoth, who are anxious to avenge upon me the disgrace they have suffered at your hands. Doubtless I am forced to encounter them with much feebler weapons of wit and learning, but with as much courage and delight as you. They will have no dealings with me, so determined are they only to use force against me. But Christ lives, and I can lose nothing; for I have nothing. However, the horns of these animals have rather lost effect through your courage. For
God has achieved this through you — that the lord of the Sophists has found that the righteousness of God must be met with gentleness, so that Germany, through the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, which, alas, for so many hundred years has been smothered and suppressed, has again begun to breathe. But it is presumptuous of me discussing matters so confidentially with such as you. It is because I am so devoted to you — both for yourself and your books. It was Philip Melanchthon, whom I am proud to call my dearest friend, who persuaded me to write, saying you would not take it amiss, however poor the production might be. So blame him if you do not perceive that it is written to prove my devotion to you.
Farewell, my much honoured master. MARTIN LUTHER, Augustinian. Wittenberg.
Leo the X. now sent his chamberlain, Karl von Miltitz, to gain over Luther, and they met in Spalatin’s house in Altenburg. His Holiness also sent the “Golden Rose” to the Elector Frederick by Miltitz, who persuaded Luther to write a conciliatory letter to the Pope.