TO PHILIP MELANCHTHON
Luther blames his friend for missing him so much. July 13, 1521.
I am displeased with your letter for two reasons: (1) Because you do not bear the cross patiently, yielding to your emotions, as is your wont; (2) That you ascribe so much to me, as if I alone could look after God’s concerns, for here I sit, careless and idle, consumed by my fleshly desires.
Instead of being ardent in spirit I am the prey of sinful appetites — laziness and love of sleep. For eight days I have neither prayed nor studied, through fleshly temptations. If I do not improve I shall go to Erfurt and consult the physicians, for I can endure my malady no longer. And even God seems to tempt me, by making me wish to escape from this wilderness. I shall not answer Emser; ask
Amsdoff to do it, if he is not too good for such filth. I shall put your apology for the Parisian asses with all their drivel into German, with annotations. I wish you could issue OEcolampadius’s book on Confession in German to annoy the Papists. I am also putting the Gospels into German, and when enough are ready shall send them to the press. When things are going so well with you I am not needed. Why do you not spare yourself? I warn you always of this, but you remain deaf. As to the lawfulness of the sword, I abide by my opinion. You expect me to quote a Gospel command on the subject. I agree with you that no such command or precept is to be found in the Bible. It would not be seemly that it should; for the Gospel is a law unto the free, and has nothing to do with the rights of
the sword, although such a right is not forbidden, but rather praised, which does not apply to anything merely permitted. For outward ceremonies are neither commanded nor commended in the Gospel, even as too great carefulness about earthly things is not considered justifiable. For the Gospel lays down no hard and fast rule in this matter, for its domain is the spirit, and not the letter. But are they therefore not to be used? Do not the necessities of this life rather justify their use? Were all Christians — such ideas would be very well. If the sword were sheathed, how long would the Church stand in the world, for neither life nor goods would be safe. But what do you make of Abraham, David, and the saints under the old dispensation, using the sword? And they were good men…. And strange
to say, it is not forbidden in the Gospel, but the believing soldiers who asked John for counsel were rather confirmed in its lawfulness. I fear, dear Philip, I reap more satisfaction from what I have
written to you than you will derive from it. There is no passage in Scripture where we are commanded to despise those in authority, but rather to honor and pray for them. I wish Amsdorf much happiness upon becoming rich, but it would bring him even more happiness should he prove willing to yield up an apostle. You have already enough, and I do not see why you long so for me, or why my services are so necessary to you. You lecture (leset), Amsdorf lectures, and Jonas also. Dear one! Do you wish the kingdom of God to be proclaimed to you alone? Must the gospel not be preached to others? Will your Antioch not contribute a Silas, Paul, or Barnabas to help the Spirit’s work? I tell you plainly, that although I love to be with you, I would settle in Erfurt, Cologne, or wherever God might graciously open a door for me, to proclaim the Word. One must not think of oneself, for the harvest is great. I
know nothing of my return. You know with whom that rests. Spalatin writes that the Prince commands a part of the Confession to be kept intact, at which I am much displeased. Pray do not regulate your actions by the will of the Court, which I have hitherto done. The half would not have been accomplished had I always listened to such counsel. They are only human like ourselves. I shall make Spalatin speak out. Such complaisance encourages our opponents and shows our cowardice. My best wishes for your health. This letter has long been finished, but he who promised to take it has
forgotten. All of you pray for me. For I shall be immersed in sin in this solitude. From my desert. MARTIN LUTHER, Augustinian. ( Walch, 5:15-75.)