TO THE ELECTOR FREDERICK OF SAXONY
Luther excuses himself for his discussion with Eck. March 13, 1519.
My poor prayers are always at the service of your Grace, Most Serene High-born Prince, Most Gracious Lord. God knows that I was most anxious that the game should be at an end. So eager was I for this, that I kept my agreement, even after your Electoral Highness’s chaplain, Herr Magister Spalatin, forwarded some points to me, at the instigation of the Pope’s commissioner, Herr Karl von Miltitz, and I left Herr Sylvester Prierat’s reply unanswered, although there was much in it which would have been a good pretext for breaking my resolution; but I refrained from doing so, even against the advice of my friends — therefore our agreement made at Altenburg has not been broken — that I would be silent, if my opponents would also be silent, and this Herr Karl knows. But now that Dr. Eck thus attacks me without any provocation, seeking not only to disgrace me, but the whole University of Wittenberg, it is not right that I should disregard such cunningly devised assaults, and permit the
truth to be held in derision. For, should my mouth be bound, while every one else is free to speak, your Electoral Highness can well believe that I shall expose myself to all manner of attacks from those who might otherwise not have presumed to raise their eyes towards me. I am still inclined to follow your Grace’s counsel and be silent, if others will do the same, for I have other things to occupy me, and find no pleasure in such dissension. But if this be not possible, I beg your Grace not to be displeased with me, for my conscience will not allow me to leave the truth in the lurch. For although
in my disputation with Eck I shall have to dispute the assertion that the Church of Rome is superior to all others, I shall do so with the reservation of full submission and obedience to the Holy See. May
God graciously spare your Electoral Highness. Amen.
Your Electoral Highness’s most humble chaplain, MARTIN LUTHER, Augustinian. Wittenberg.