TO PHILIP MELANCHTHON A comprehensive letter. May 26, 1521.
Dear Philip — I forget what I wrote in my sealed letter, so will just answer yours. I am unwilling to answer Jacob Latomo, for I prefer peaceful studies, and it is most annoying to have to reply to such a prolix and illwritten document. I intended to expound the Epistles and Gospels in German, but you have not sent me the postils, which are now in print. I send you the psalm which was sung today at our great feast, which, if the press is empty, you can print, for I worked at it just to occupy my time as I had no books, or give it to good friends and Christian Aurifaber to read, or place it in Amsdorfs hands. I do not grudge Dr. Lupino a blessed exit out of this life, in which, would to God, we did not live. Still I feel his loss deeply, and think of Isaiah’s words, “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart.” Our Oecolampadius has been before us with the Sermon on Confession, having written a bold treatise on that subject, which will be a fresh trial to Antichrist and his crew. I fancied Spalatin would have sent it to you, or I should have done so, with you Hutten’s letters to the Bishops and Cardinals at Worms. I shall, if possible, supplement it with something in German. I am surprised
that the new husband in Cambray has so fearlessly stepped into the fray. May God mix some pleasure in his bitter cup. Why have you not sent me your Method of Teaching (Lehrart) now that it is printed?
I wish to know who fills my pulpit oftenest, and if Amsdorf is still sleepy and idle? May God maintain and increase the progress of learning! Amen.
Do not be anxious about me, for I am very well, but my weak faith still torments me. My withdrawal from the scene of conflict is of no great moment; for, although glad to be excluded from the heavy responsibility connected with God’s Word, yet for the honor of that Word we would rather burn amid fiery coals, than rot solitary and half-alive, if it were God’s will. We have often talked of faith and hope, so let us try for once to put our theory into practice, seeing God has brought it all about, and not we ourselves. If I perish it will be no loss to the gospel, for you far surpass me, and as Elisha was
endued with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit after his ascension, so may you be enabled to follow on. Amen!
Do not be troubled in spirit; but sing the Lord’s song in the night, as we are commanded, and I shall join in. Let us only be concerned about the Word. If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant! If any man perish, let him perish! But we must see that no one can lay the fault at our door. Let the Leipsic people boast; this is their hour. We must go out from our land, and our kindred, and sojourn for a time in a strange land. I still hope to come to you again; but if the Pope seize all who agree with me, then Germany will raise a hue and cry. And the more he attempts this, the sooner will he and his perish, and I reappear. God rouses many hearts, even those of the populace, so it is not likely this business can be frustrated by force, or, if they try to do so, it will become ten times as powerful as before. Murner is silent. What the he-goat (Emser) will do, I know not, but I do not believe that you will write. You would be led astray, which would be the bitterest news I could hear. So long as you and Amsdorf, etc. are there, there is no lack of shepherds. Do not anger God by speaking thus, and make us appear ungrateful. Would that all, even cathedrals, had a fourth part of the teachers of the Word that you have. So thank God for enlightening you. I have expended many words on you.
The Cardinal of Mayence has a hundred sworn enemies, and Dr. Schifer is very ill with fever. Some say he is dead. A bishop who was very hostile to me at Worms has come to grief. I have no other news, for I am a hermit, a very monk without cowl and robe; you would see a knight and scarcely recognize me.
Tell Amsdorf that the pastor in Hirschfeld (Feldkirche), an upright man, has also married, so it is not you alone who have a newly married provost. I fear that the provost in Cambray may be dismissed, and now that there may be other mouths to fill it would be serious. If he can only believe that the Lord, the universal Shepherd, still lives, who will not suffer even a bird to starve. Greet and admonish him, and I shall do the same, so that all may rejoice together. By doing so you will do me a favor, and it will be a joy to God, and a grief to the devil and his followers. Your despondency is my greatest
trial, your joy is mine also; so live at peace in the Lord, to whom I hope you commit me even as I do you. Maintain the Church of Christ over which the Holy Ghost has made you bishops, but not gods. Give all my friends my love, of whom there are many. You need not greet M. Eisleben, or the fat
Flemmischen, for I am writing them. But remember Johann Scherdfegeru, Peter Suaven, and all the church in your house, Henricus Zutphen, and all the brothers. I have written to the Prior. Also greet M. Lucano and Christianum, Dr. Eschhausen, and whoever occurs to you. Just look at this miserable paper which I have to use. Once more farewell! In the region of the birds who sing beautifully on the trees, praising God night and day, with all their might.
MARTIN LUTHER . (Walch, 79.)