TO THE LEARNED AND SAINTLY NICOLAS GERBEL Luther congratulates him on his marriage. November 1, 1521.
Grace in Christ! Your letter, dearest Gerbel, written before Ascension, only reached me at Michaelmas, and this is All Saints’ Day. When will it reach you? Perhaps before next Ascension Day, or the Greek Kalends — never. You see the cause of my silence. I risk much in writing. Attribute all to the hidden will of God. I hope you have already received an answer from others to your anxious inquiries as to
my condition. I have withdrawn from our common cause by the advice of good friends — very unwillingly, it is true, and uncertain as to whether I had acted rightly towards God. For my part, I fancied one was bound to sacrifice his neck in the universal fray. But this was not desired, so I was borne off by horsemen, in the disguise of a knight, on my way from Mohra, and placed in a secure spot, in reigned imprisonment, where I am treated royally. But believe me, in this solitude, with nothing to do, I am the prey of a thousand devils. It is much easier to fight a devil in the flesh (men) than evil spirits in heavenly things (or under heaven). I often fall, but the right hand of the Most High raises me again. So, willingly as I would strive for freedom, I shall remain where God has placed me. It is not safe to send you my writings, therefore I have written to Spalatin to arrange this. Meantime I have written a treatise against Antichrist, also one on Confession in German, and have sent it as a letter of consolation, with an exposition of the 37th Psalm, to the Church in Wittenberg.
Philip has issued a pamphlet against the Parisians which I have translated into German. This too is printed. I am writing a German Exposition of the Epistles and Gospels, which will be printed all through the year. I have also a public castigation of the Cardinal of Mayence ready because of the Indulgences, which he has once more erected in Halle; and in addition, a disquisition on the gospel of the ten lepers: all in German. I am born for my Germans, whom I desire to serve. I should like to write openly against the universities, but as yet have decided upon nothing. I have made up my mind not to expound Matthew. I had begun to lecture upon both Testaments in a popular manner in Wittenberg, and had reached the 32nd chapter of Genesis, and in the Gospels had got to the voice of John the Baptist. At this point my voice was quenched. Now that is all you wished to know.
Give my best love to your dear one, and I hope that she may love you dearly, and that you too may love her. It is good that your former state of celibacy, with all its accompanying evils, has been replaced by marriage. Endure all that this condition of God’s appointment brings with it, and thank God. I am daily gaining more insight into the godless lives of the unmarried of both sexes, so that nothing sounds worse to me than the words monk, nun, priest, for I regard a married life of deep poverty as paradise in comparison. Greet Brunsfels, Caspar Urzigereum, and all Evangelicals from me. From my hermitage. MARTIN LUTHER . (Walch, 5:1)