TO THE ELECTOR FREDERICK OF SAXONY
Written in Borna on the way to Wittenberg, in answer to a letter from the Elector, trying to dissuade
Luther from coming. His courage is displayed. March 5, 1522.
To the Serene High-born Prince Frederick, Elector of Saxony, etc. Grace and peace! Most gracious lord. Your Electoral Grace’s writing and kind remembrance reached me on Friday evening, the night before I began my journey. That your Electoral Highness had the best intentions towards me is manifest. And this is my answer. Most gracious lord, I herewith desire to make it known that I have not received the gospel from men, but from heaven, through our Lord Jesus Christ, so that I may well (which I shall henceforth do) glory in being able to style myself a servant and evangelist. That I desired to be cited before a human tribunal to have my cause tried was not because I had any doubts as to its truth, but solely because I wished to allure others. But now that I see my great humility only serves to abase the gospel, and that Satan is ready to occupy the place I vacate, even if it be only by a hand-breadth, my conscience compels me to act differently. I have done sufficient for your Grace this year in remaining in my forced seclusion. For the devil knows it was not done out of fear. He saw into my heart, when I came into Worms, that although I had known there were as many devils ready to spring upon me as there were tiles on the house-roofs, I would joyfully have sprung into their midst. Now Herzog George is far from being equal to one devil, especially seeing the Father has, out of His loving-kindness, made us, through the gospel, joyous lords over all the devils and death itself,
and has permitted us to call him beloved Father. Your Grace can see for yourself that it would be the greatest insult one could pay to such a Father not to trust Him entirely, showing that we are lords over Herzog George’s wrath. Were things in Leipsic as they are in Wittenberg, I would nevertheless ride in, even if it were to rain Herzog Georges for nine days, and each was nine times more vehement than this one is. He looks upon my Lord Jesus as a man of straw. But I confess I have often wept and prayed for Herzog George that God would enlighten him. And I shall once more weep and pray for him, and then never again. And I beseech your Electoral Highness to help me to pray that we may be
able to avert the judgment which is hanging over him continually. I write all this to let your Grace see that I come to Wittenberg under higher protection than that of the Elector, and I have not the
slightest intention of asking your Electoral Highness’s help. For I consider I am more able to protect your Grace than you are to protect me; and, what is more, if I knew that your gracious Highness could and would protect me I would not come. In this matter God alone must manage without any
human intervention. Therefore he whose faith is greatest will receive the most protection. So, as I see your faith is very weak, I cannot regard you as the man who could either protect or save me. And seeing your Grace wishes to know how to act, as you seem to fancy you have done too little, I would respectfully inform you that you have already done too much, and must now do nothing at all. For
God will not suffer your Electoral Highness’s or my worrying and activities. He wishes it to be left to Him, to Him and no other, so let your Grace act accordingly. If your Electoral Highness believes this, then he will be in security and peace; if not, I do and must allow your Electoral Grace to be tormented by care, which is the portion of all who do not believe. Therefore, seeing I decline to follow your
Grace, then you are innocent in God’s sight if I am taken prisoner or killed. Your Electoral Highness shall henceforth act thus regarding your duty towards me as Elector. You must render obedience to the powers that be, and sustain the authority of His Imperial Majesty with all your might, as is only seemly for a member of the Empire, and not oppose the authorities in the event of their imprisoning or slaying me. For no one must oppose the authorities except He who has instituted them; for it is rebellion against God. But I hope they will be sensible, and recognize that your Electoral Highness is born in a higher cradle, and should not be expected to wield the rod upon yourself. If your Grace abide by the Electoral safe-conduct, then you have done enough to show your obedience. For Christ has not taught me to be a Christian to the injury of others. But should they command your Grace to lay hands on me yourself, then I shall say what to do. I shall protect you from injury to body, soul, and estate because of my affairs, whether your Grace believes it or not. I herewith commit you to the mercy of God, and shall discuss things when necessary. I have written this hurriedly, so that your Grace may not be upset by my arrival; for I must rather be a comfort to every one than occasion of injury if I wish to be a true Christian.
I am dealing with a very different man from Herzog George, with one who knows me well, and whom I do not know at all badly. Were your Grace only to believe he would see the glory of God, but as he has not yet believed, he has seen nothing. To God be love and praise to all eternity. Amen.
Given at Borna by my escort. Your Electoral Grace’s obedient servant, MARTIN LUTHER .