TO JOHN RUHEL
Luther’s brother-in-law, a lawyer in Mansfield. The peasant insurrection endangered the Reformation more than anything else had ever done. About the Elector’s death.
May 15, 1525.
To the learned John Ruhel, my good, kind brother-in-law. God’s grace and peace! I thank you, dear
sir, for your last news, which I was glad to hear, especially about Munzer. I should like to hear how he was taken prisoner, and how he behaved, for it is well to know how such haughty spirits act. That the poor creature should be so treated is pitiable. But what can we do? and it is God’s will that fear should be instilled into the people. If this were not done, then Satan would do even more mischief. The one misfortune is preferable to the other. It is the judgment of God. He who takes the sword shall perish
by the sword. So it is a consolation that this spirit should be made manifest, to let the peasants see how badly they have acted, and perhaps they may cease plotting and improve. Do not take all this so to heart, for it may be for the good of many souls, who, through fear, may desist. My gracious lord,
the Elector, died between five and six on the day I left you, just as they were desolating Osterhausen. He passed quietly away, retaining his senses to the last, having partaken of the sacrament in both forms, but without extreme unction. His funeral was a most imposing sight, although we performed
no masses or vigils over him. Some stones were found in his lungs, and three elsewhere, which was strange So he really died of stone. He did not know much about the insurrection; but wrote to his brother, Prince John, that he must use every means to pacify the people before he resorted to arms. His was a Christ-like and blessed death. The signs of his death were a rainbow which Philip and I saw one night last winter over the Lochau, and a child was born here in Wittenberg without a head. I herewith commit you to God, and greet your vine (Hansreben ) with her fruit (Trauben ). Also comfort Christofel Meinhardt, and beg him to suffer the will of God, which can only promote our highest welfare, although we are not yet aware of it. Now is the time to keep quiet and let God act, and soon we shall see peace. Amen.
MARTIN LUTHER .