TO THE ELECTOR JOHN
Luther, at the Elector’s request, gives his opinion as to how the Church livings should be visited and maintained.
November 30, 1525.
God’s grace and peace in Christ! Most Serene Highborn Prince. Your Electoral Grace has replied to my letter as to a general visitation of the Church livings. Now, I never meant that all the funds for their support should come out of your Grace’s treasury; but being asked for my opinion, I humbly venture to suggest that you should order all the churches in your dominions to be visited; and where the people desire Evangelical preachers, and the funds are unable to maintain them, let them receive so much yearly, either from the town council or elsewhere. For when the people desire pastors, it is your Grace’s duty to see they reward them; for “the workman is worthy of his hire,” as the Gospels say. This visitation might be arranged by your Grace dividing your domains into five parts, and sending
two visitors either from the nobility or the officials to each part, to examine those livings, and find out what is necessary for the pastors; and then arrange that so much of the yearly taxation be set aside
to augment their incomes. But if this were too much trouble and expense to your Grace, then you could summon the citizens of certain towns and discuss the matter. Only do what seems best in your eyes. Also, one must consider the old pastors, and where these are pious men, and not disinclined to the gospel, they may be allowed to read the Gospels, along with the postils, themselves to the people (when they are not qualified to preach), thus ministering instruction to their flocks, so that they may be obliged to maintain them; for it would be wrong to eject those who have been long in office, who are friendly to the gospel, without compensation. I have taken the liberty of pointing out those things
at you Electoral Grace’s request. I commit you to God. Amen. Your Electoral Grace’s humble servant, MARTIN LUTHER .
At the Diet of Speyer the Evangelical Princes ranged themselves for the first time as adherents of the new doctrines, and it was agreed that “in religious matters each State shall live, govern, and behave itself as it shall answer to God and His Imperial Majesty.” Spalatin and Agricola preached regularly before the Elector in his own house at Speyer.