Selections from the Table Talk of Martin Luther
by Martin Luther
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Of the Confession and Apology which at Augsburg was exhibited to the emperor.

The Emperor, said Luther, censured understandingly and discreetly, and carried himself princely in this cause of religion; he found our Confession to be far otherwise than the Papists had informed him- namely, that we were most ungodly people, and led most wicked and detestable kind of lives; and that we taught against the first and second tables of the Ten Commandments of God. For this cause, the Emperor sent our Confession and Apology to all the universities; his council also delivered their opinions, and said: "In case their doctrine were against the holy Christian faith, then they thought fitting that His Imperial Majesty should seek to suppress it with all his power. But if it be only against ceremonies and abuses (as now it appeareth to be) then to refer it to the consideration and censure of learned people," etc. This, said Luther, was good and wise counsel.

Dr. Eck confessed openly, and said: "The Protestants cannot be confuted and opposed out of Holy Scriptures." Therefore the Bishop of Mainz said unto him, "Oh, how finely our learned Divines do defend us and our doctrine!" "The Bishop of Mainz," said Luther, "holdeth our doctrine to be upright and true, but he only courteth the Pope, otherwise long before this time he would have played strange pranks with his Holiness."

Of the Strength and Profit of the Confession and Apology of Augsburg.

God's Word is powerful; the more it is persecuted the more and further it spreadeth itself abroad. Behold the Imperial Diet at Augsburg, which doubtless is the last trumpet before the dreadful Day of Judgment. How raged the world there against the Word! Oh, said Luther, how were we there fain to pray the Pope and Papists, that they would be pleased to permit and suffer Christ to live quietly in heaven! There our doctrine broke through into the light in such sort, that by the Emperor's strict command the same was sent to all Kings, Princes, and Universities. This our Doctrine forthwith enlightened many excellent people, dispersed here and there in Princes' courts, among whom some of God were chosen to take hold on this our doctrine, like unto tinder, and afterwards kindled the same also in others.

Our Apology and Confession with great honour came to light; the Papists' confutations are kept in darkness, and do stink. Oh, said Luther, how willingly would I that their confutations might appear to the world; then I would set upon that old torn and tattered skin, and in such sort would baste it, that the flitches thereof should fly about here and there; but they shun the light. This time twelvemonths no man would have given a farthing for the Protestants, so sure the ungodly Papists were of us. For, said Luther, when my most gracious Lord and master, the Prince Elector of Saxony, before other Princes came to the Diet, the Papists marvelled much thereat, for they verily believed that he would not have appeared, by reason (as they imagined) his cause was too bad and foul to be brought before the light. But what fell out? Even this, that in their greatest security they were overwhelmed with the greatest fear and affrightments. Because the Prince Elector, like an upright Prince, appeared so early at Augsburg, then the other Popish princes swiftly posted away from Augsburg to Innsbruck, where they held serious counsel with Prince George and the Marquis of Baden, all of them wondering what the Prince Elector's so early approach to the Diet should mean, insomuch that the Emperor himself thereat was astonished, and doubted whether he might come and go in safety or not. Whereupon the princes were constrained to promise, that they would set up body, goods, and blood by the Emperor, the one offering to maintain 6,000 horse, another so many thousands of foot-soldiers, etc., to the end His Majesty might be the better secured. There was a wonder among wonders to be seen, in that God struck with fear and cowardliness the enemies of the truth. And although at that time the Prince Elector of Saxony was alone, and but only the hundredth sheep, while the others were ninety-and-nine, yet, notwithstanding, it so fell out that they all trembled and were afraid. Now when they came to the point, and began to take the business in hand, then there appeared but a very small heap that stood by God's Word.

But, said Luther, we brought with us a strong and mighty King, a King above all Emperors and Kings, namely, Christ Jesus, the powerful Word of God. Then all the Papists cried out, and said, "Oh, it is insufferable that so small and silly a heap should set themselves against the Imperial power." But, said Luther, the Lord of Hosts frustrateth the councils of Princes. Pilate had power to put our blessed Saviour to death, but willingly he would not; Annas and Caiaphas willingly would have done it, but could not.

The Emperor, for his own part, is good and honest; but the Popish Bishops and Cardinals are undoubtedly knaves. And forasmuch as the Emperor now refuseth to bathe his hands in innocent blood, therefore the frantic Princes do bestir themselves, do scorn and contemn the good Emperor in the highest degree. The Pope also for anger is ready to burst in pieces, because the Diet, in this sort, without shedding of blood, should be dissolved; therefore he sendeth the sword to the Duke of Bavaria, to proceed therewith, and intendeth to take the crown from the Emperor's head, and to set it upon the head of Bavaria; but he shall not accomplish it. In this manner ordered God the business, that Kings, Princes, yea, and the Pope himself, fell from the Emperor, and that we joined with him, which was a great wonder of God's providence, in that he whom the devil intended to use against us, even the same, God taketh, maketh and useth for us. Oh, wonder, said Luther, above all wonders!

Of the Assembly of the Princes at Brunswick, 1531.

When the Princes (professing the Augustinian Confession) held an assembly at Brunswick, then Luther received three letters, wherein was shown that the Prince Elector of Saxony journeyed five days through the Marquisate of Brandenburg, whereas Prince Henry of Brunswick would neither give him convoy nor permit him to go through his country. But the Prince Elector of Brandenburg, in his country, gave him princely entertainment in every place, and many went out of Brunswick to meet and to receive him. But the Landgrave of Hessen went on the other side, through Goslar, without a convoy. Christianus, King of Denmark, the second day of the assembly, delivered up the Confession of his Faith, and was held and esteemed a second David. Whereupon Luther said, God of his mercy assist him for the sanctifying of his name. But, said he, the pride of the Duke of Brunswick may easily redound to his own hurt and prejudice, who, contrary to all law and equity, denied a safe convoy to one of his best and truest friends. Moses likewise desired a safe convoy to the King of the Amorites; but being denied, he thereby took occasion to raise war against him. The Lord of Heaven grant us peace. The same day other letters came to Luther from Brunswick, showing that the King of Denmark in person, the Ambassadors of England and France, and of many Imperial cities, were arrived there, among whom, some carried themselves very strangely towards those of the Protestant League. Luther said, under the name and colour of the Gospel, they seek their own particular advantages, but in the least danger they are afraid. These politic and terrestrial leagues and unions have no hand nor share in the Gospel: God alone preserveth and defendeth the same in times of persecution. Let us put trust and confidence in him, and with him; let us erect and establish an everlasting league, for the world is the world, and will remain the world.

Of the Convention and Assembly of the Protestant State at Frankfort- on-the-Main, 1539.

God, of his infinite mercy, said Luther, assist them at Frankfort- on-the-Main, that they may Christian-like consult and conclude, to the end that God's honour, the good and profit of the commonwealth may be furthered. Indeed, it is a very small assembly; it hath a strange aspect to be held in an Imperial city; but forasmuch as they are thereunto constrained by the adversaries, they must be content.

The Papists, void of shame, do unwisely undertake to possess themselves of the cities, and by fraud to draw thereunto their adherents; then they make show of keeping peace, but in the meantime they contrive how to separate and confuse the whole body, and of the members to make a massacre; they secretly fall upon Hamburg, upon Minden, and Frankfort. They might more wisely go to work, if by open wars they assailed us. At Augsburg they openly condemned us; and if those of our party had not been patient, it had presently gone on at that time. Anno 1539, the 16th of February, Luther commanded public prayers to be made for the day at Frankfort, that peace might be confirmed. For if the Landgrave be incensed, then all resistance will be in vain. The Landgrave neither provoketh nor giveth occasion to wars; but, on the contrary, when he is provoked, he still seeketh peace; whereas, notwithstanding, he is better furnished and provided for wars than his adversary is, by 2,000 horse, for Hessen and Saxon are horsemen; when they are set in the saddle, they are then not so easily hoisted out again. As for the high-country horsemen, they, said Luther, are dancing gentlemen. God preserve the Landgrave; for a valiant man and Prince is of great importance. Augustus Caesar was wont to say, "I would rather be in an army of stags, where a lion is general, than to be in an army of lions where a stag is general."

The 25th of February, Luther prayed again with great devotion for peace, and for the day at Frankfort, that through civil wars (which are most hurtful), the religion, policy, and God's Word might not be sophisticated and torn in pieces. Wars are pleasing to those that have had no trial or experience of them; God bless us from wars.


{1} Whatsoever was pretended, yet the true cause of the Captain's commitment was because he was urgent with the Lord Treasurer for his Arrears; which, amounting to a great sum, he was not willing to pay; and to be freed from his clamours he clapped him up into prison.

{2} The name of a rich family.


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