TO THOMAS FISCHER, PREACHER IN MILAU
Luther says how despisers of the gospel should be treated.
August 26, Grace and peace to my beloved brother in the Lord! Regarding what you have written to me, my dear man of God, about these godless scorners — this is my opinion. Even as no one can be compelled to accept the gospel, so no magistrate must suffer any one to traduce it, but, if any one do so, the magistrate must have him up and admonish him, and hear his reasons for acting as he does. If he can give none, then he must be bound over to silence, so that the seeds of dissension may not be sown. For whoever will speak against it must do so openly — the magistrate being called upon to put down all private disputes with all his authority. This is how we do in Wittenberg, and counsel
others to do the same. From this you will see that the magistracy dare not tolerate what you speak of in the community. For it is nothing short of a secret scandal. Therefore call them out to the light of day, so that they may either justify themselves or be vanquished. Along with the Decalogue and the Catechism, inculcate civil (burgerliche) and domestic virtues, and these ought most frequently to be the subject topics of preaching, and the people be compelled to attend, so that they may be
instructed as to the duties of a subject and social life, whether they approve of the gospel or not, to prevent them becoming a stone of stumbling to others, by deliberately setting at naught political laws. For if they live in a community they must learn the laws of the same and obey them, even against their will. And they must do this, not only on account of their possessions, but for the sake of their family. Christ, who will sustain you, will teach you all else. MARTIN LUTHER. (Schutze.)
This year Luther issued the three great Reformation treatises: I. “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation.”
- II. “On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church.”
III. “Concerning Christian Liberty,” or “The Freedom of a Christian Man.”