Selections from the Table Talk of Martin Luther
by Martin Luther
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This etext was prepared by Les Bowler, St. Ives, Dorset.




Introduction by Professor Henry Morley. The testimony of Jo. Aurifaber, Doctor in Divinity. Captain Henry Bell's narrative. A copy of the order from the House of Commons. Selections from Table-Talk:- Of God's Word. Of God's Works. Of the Nature of the World. Of the Lord Christ. Of Sin and of Free-will. Of the Catechism. Of the Law and the Gospel. Of Prayer. Of the Confession and Constancy of the Doctrine. Of Imperial Diets.


Martin Luther died on the 18th of February, 1546, and the first publication of his "Table Talk"-Tischreden-by his friend, Johann Goldschmid (Aurifaber), was in 1566, in a substantial folio. The talk of Luther was arranged, according to its topics, into eighty chapters, each with a minute index of contents. The whole work in a complete octavo edition, published at Stuttgart and Leipzig in 1836, occupies 1,390 closely printed pages, equivalent to 2,780 pages, or full fourteen volumes, of this Library.

The nearest approach to a complete and ungarbled translation into English was that of Captain Henry Bell, made in the reign of Charles the First, under the circumstances set forth by himself; but even that was not complete. Other English versions have subjected Luther's opinions to serious manipulation, nothing being added, but anything being taken away that did not chance to agree with the editor's digestion. Even the folio of Captain Bell's translation, from which these Selections have been printed, has been prepared for reprint by some preceding editor, whose pen has been busy in revision of the passages he did mean to reprint. In these Selections every paragraph stands unabridged, exactly as it was translated by Captain Bell; and there has been no other purpose governing the choice of matter than a resolve to make it as true a presentment as possible of Luther's mind and character. At least one other volume of Selections from the Table-Talk of Martin Luther will be given in this Library.

Johann Goldschmid, the Aurifaber, and thereby true worker in gold, who first gave Luther's Table-Talk to the world, was born in 1519. He was a disciple of Luther, thirty-six years younger than his master. Luther was born at Eisleben in 1483, and his father, a poor miner, presently settled at Mansfeld, the town in which Goldschmid afterwards was born. Johann Goldschmid was sent by Count Albrecht of Mansfeld, in 1537, to the University of Wittenberg, where Luther had been made, in 1508, Professor of Philosophy, and where, on the 31st of October, 1517, he had nailed his ninety-five propositions against indulgences to the church door at the castle. Luther had completed his translation of the Bible three years before Johann Goldschmid went to Wittenberg. In 1540 Goldschmid was recalled from the University to act as tutor to Count Albrecht's children. In 1544 Goldschmid was army chaplain with the troops from Mansfeld in the French war; but in 1545 he was sent back to Wittenberg for special study of theology. It was then that he attached himself to Luther as his famulus and house-companion during the closing months of Luther's life, began already to collect from surrounding friends passages of his vigorous "Table Talk," and remained with Luther till the last, having been present at his death in Eisleben in 1546. He then proceeded steadily with the collection of Luther's sayings and opinions expressed among his friends. He was army chaplain among the soldiers of Johann Friedrich, of Saxony; he spent half a year also in a Saxon prison. He became, in 1551, court preacher at Weimar; but in 1562 was deprived of his office, and then devoted himself to the forming of an Eisleben edition of those works of Luther, which had not already been collected. In 1566 he was called to a pastorate at Erfurt, where he had many more troubles before his death. Aurifaber died on the 18th of November, 1575. H. M.


And whereas hitherto I have caused certain tomes of the Books, Sermons, Writings, and Missives of Luther to be printed at Eisleben, so have I also now finished this tome of his Discourses, and have ordered the same to be printed, which at the first were collected together out of the Manuscripts of these Divine Discourses, which that Reverend Father Anthony Lauterbach himself noted and wrote out of the holy mouth of Luther, and afterwards the same by me were collected into sure and certain Loci Communes, or Common-places, and distributed.

And whereas I, Joannes Aurifaber, in the years 1545 and 1546, before the death of that most famous Divine, Luther, was much with and about him, and with all diligence writ and noted down many most excellent Histories and Acts, and other most necessary and useful things which he related: I have therefore set in order and brought the same also into this tome.

Now, forasmuch as very excellent declaration is made in this tome of all the Articles and chief points of Christian Religion, Doctrine, and Faith; and also therein are found necessary Rules, Questions and Answers, many fair Histories, all sorts of Learnings, Comforts, Advices, Prophecies, Warnings, and Admonitions: I have therefore thought it a thing fitting to dedicate the same to your Highnesses, Graces, Honours and Worships, etc., as special favourers, protectors, and defenders of the Doctrines which God, through Luther, hath cleared again, to the end that by diligent reading therein, you may be president, and give good examples to others, to your subjects, citizens, etc., diligently to love, to read, to affect the same, and to make good use thereof, as being fragments that fell from Luther's Table, and therewith may help to still, to slake, and to satisfy the spiritual hunger and thirst of the soul. For these most profitable Discourses of Luther, containing such high spiritual things, we should in nowise suffer to be lost, but worthily esteem thereof, whereout all manner of learning, joy, and comfort may be had and received. DR. AURIFABER, in his Preface to the Book.

Given at Eisleben, July 7th, 1569.





Divers Discourses touching Religion, and other Main Points of Doctrine; as also many notable Histories, and all sorts of Learning, Comforts, Advices, Prophecies, Admonitions, Directions, and Instructions; and how the same Book was, by God's Providence, discovered lying under the Ground, where it had lain hid Fifty-two Years; and was a few years since sent over to the said Captain Henry Bell, and by him translated out of the High German into the English Tongue.

"I, CAPTAIN HENRY BELL, do hereby declare, both to the present age, and also to posterity, that being employed beyond the seas in state affairs divers years together, both by King James, and also by the late King Charles, in Germany, I did hear and understand, in all places, great bewailing and lamentation made, by reason of the destroying and burning of above fourscore thousand of Martin Luther's books, entitled His Last Divine Discourses.

"For after such time as God stirred up the spirit of Martin Luther to detect the corruptions and abuses of Popery, and to preach Christ, and clearly to set forth the simplicity of the Gospel, many Kings, Princes, and States, Imperial Cities, and Hans-Towns fell from the Popish Religion, and became Protestants, as their posterities still are, and remain to this very day.

"And for the further advancement of the great work of Reformation then begun, the aforesaid Princes and the rest did then order that the said Divine Discourses of Luther should forthwith be printed; and that every parish should have and receive one of the aforesaid printed books into every Church throughout all their principalities and dominions, to be chained up, for the common people to read therein.

"Upon which divine work, or Discourses, the Reformation, begun before in Germany, was wonderfully promoted and increased, and spread both here in England and other countries besides.

"But afterwards it so fell out that the Pope then living, viz. Gregory XIII., understanding what great hurt and prejudice he and his Popish religion had already received, by reason of the said Luther's Divine Discourses, and also fearing that the same might bring further contempt and mischief upon himself and upon the Popish Church, he therefore, to prevent the same, did fiercely stir up and instigate the Emperor then in being, viz. Rudolphus II., to make an Edict throughout the whole Empire, that all the aforesaid printed books should be burned; and also that it should be death for any person to have or keep a copy thereof, but also to burn the same: which Edict was speedily put in execution accordingly, insomuch that not one of all the said printed books, nor so much as any one copy of the same, could be found out nor heard of in any place.

"Yet it pleased God that, anno 1626, a German gentleman, named Casparus Van Sparr, with whom, in the time of my staying in Germany about King James's business, I became very familiarly known and acquainted, having occasion to build upon the old foundation of a house, wherein his grandfather dwelt at that time when the said Edict was published in Germany for the burning of the aforesaid books; and digging deep into the ground, under the said old foundation, one of the said original books was there happily found, lying in a deep obscure hole, being wrapped in a strong linen cloth, which was waxed all over with beeswax, within and without; whereby the book was preserved fair, without any blemish.

"And at the same time Ferdinandus II. being Emperor in Germany, who was a severe enemy and persecutor of the Protestant religion, the aforesaid gentleman and grandchild to him that had hidden the said books in that obscure hole, fearing that if the said Emperor should get knowledge that one of the said books was yet forthcoming, and in his custody, whereby not only himself might be brought into trouble, but also the book in danger to be destroyed, as all the rest were so long before; and also calling me to mind, and knowing that I had the High Dutch Tongue very perfect, did send the said original book over hither into England unto me; and therewith did write unto me a letter, wherein he related the passages of the preserving and finding out the said book.

"And also he earnestly moved me in his letter, that for the advancement of God's glory, and of Christ's Church, I would take the pains to translate the said book, to the end that that most excellent divine work of Luther might be brought again to light.

"Whereupon I took the said book before me, and many times began to translate the same, but always I was hindered therein, being called upon about other business, insomuch that by no possible means I could remain by that work. Then, about six weeks after I had received the said book, it fell out that I being in bed with my wife one night, between twelve and one of the clock, she being asleep, but myself yet awake, there appeared unto me an ancient man, standing at my bedside, arrayed all in white, having a long and broad white beard hanging down to his girdle-stead, who, taking me by my right ear, spake these words following unto me:-'Sirrah! will not you take time to translate that book which is sent unto you out of Germany? I will shortly provide for you both place and time to do it;' and then he vanished away out of my sight.

"Whereupon, being much thereby affrighted, I fell into an extreme sweat, insomuch that my wife awaking, and finding me all over wet, she asked me what I ailed. I told her what I had seen and heard; but I never did heed nor regard visions nor dreams; and so the same fell soon out of my mind.

"Then about a fortnight after I had seen that vision, on a Sunday, I went to Whitehall to hear the sermon, after which ended I returned to my lodging, which was then in King Street, at Westminster, and sitting down to dinner with my wife, two Messengers were sent from the whole Council-board, with a warrant to carry me to the keeper of the Gatehouse, Westminster, there to be safely kept until further order from the Lords of the Council, which was done without showing me any cause {1} at all wherefore I was committed. Upon which said warrant I was kept there ten whole years close prisoner, where I spent five years thereof about the translating of the said book; insomuch as I found the words very true which the old man, in the aforesaid vision, did say unto me: 'I will shortly provide for you both place and time to translate it.'

"Then, after I had finished the said translation in the prison, the late Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Laud, understanding that I had translated such a book, called Martin Luther's Divine Discourses, sent unto me his chaplain, Dr. Bray, into the prison, with this Message following:-

"'Captain BELL, "'My Lord Grace of Canterbury hath sent me unto you, to tell you that his Grace hath understood that you have translated a book of Luther's, touching which book his Grace, many years before, did hear of the burning of so many thousands in Germany by the then Emperor. His Grace therefore doth desire you, that you would send unto him the said original book in Dutch, and also your translation; which, after his Grace hath perused, shall be returned safely unto you.'

"Whereupon I told Dr. Bray that I had taken a great deal of pains in translating the said book, and was very loth to part with it out of my hands, and therefore I desired him to excuse me to his Grace, that I could not part from it; with which answer he at that time returned again to his master.

"But the next day after he sent him unto me again, and bade him tell me that, upon his honour, the book should be as safe in his custody, if not safer than in mine own; for he would lock it up in his own cabinet, to the end no man might come unto it, but only himself. Thereupon I, knowing it would be a thing bootless for me to refuse the sending of them, by reason he was then of such great power that he would have them, nolens volens, I sent them both unto him. Then, after he had kept them in his custody two months, and had daily read therein, he sent the said Doctor unto me, to tell me that I had performed a work worthy of eternal memory, and that he had never read a more excellent divine work; yet saying that some things therein were fitting to be left out; and desired me not to think long that he did not return them unto me so soon again. The reason was because that the more he did read therein, the more desire he had to go on therewith; and so, presenting me with ten livres in gold, he returned back again.

"After which, when he had them in his custody one whole year, and that I understood he had perused it all over, then I sent unto his Grace, and humbly desired that his Grace would be pleased to return me my books again. Whereupon he sent me word by the said Dr. Bray, that he had not as yet perused them so thoroughly over as he desired to do; then I stayed yet a year longer before I sent to him again.

"In which time I heard for certain that it was concluded by the King and Council that a Parliament should forthwith be called; at which news I did much rejoice. And then I sent unto his Grace an humble petition, and therein desired the returning of my book again; otherwise I told him I should be enforced to make it known, and to complain of him to the Parliament, which was then coming on. Whereupon he sent unto me again safely both the said original book and my translation, and caused his Chaplain, the said Doctor, to tell me that he would make it known unto his Majesty what an excellent piece of work I had translated, and that he would procure an order from his Majesty to have the said translation printed, and to be dispersed throughout the whole kingdom, as it was in Germany, and as he had heard thereof; and thereupon he presented me again with forty livres in gold.

"And presently after I was set at liberty by warrant from the whole House of Lords, according to his Majesty's direction in that behalf; but shortly afterwards the Archbishop fell into his troubles, and was by the Parliament sent unto the Tower, and afterwards beheaded; insomuch that I could never since hear anything touching the printing of my book.

"The House of Commons having then notice that I had translated the aforesaid book, they sent for me, and did appoint a Committee to see it and the translation, and diligently to make inquiry whether the translation did agree with the original or no; whereupon they desired me to bring the same before them, sitting then in the Treasury Chamber. And Sir Edward Dering, being Chairman, said unto me that he was acquainted with a learned minister beneficed in Essex, who had lived long in England, but was born in High Germany, in the Palatinate, named Mr. Paul Amiraut, whom the Committee sending for, desired him to take both the original and my translation into his custody, and diligently to compare them together, and to make report unto the said Committee whether he found that I had rightly and truly translated it according to the original: which report he made accordingly, and they, being satisfied therein, referred it to two of the Assembly, Mr. Charles Herle and Mr. Edward Corbet, desiring them diligently to peruse the same, and to make report unto them if they thought it fitting to be printed and published.

"Whereupon they made report, dated the 10th of November, 1646, that they found it to be an excellent Divine Work, worthy the light and publishing, especially in regard that Luther, in the said Discourses, did revoke his opinion, which he formerly held, touching Consubstantiation in the Sacrament. Whereupon the House of Commons, the 24th of February, 1646, did give order for the printing thereof.

"Thus, having been lately desired to set down in writing the relation of the passages above-said concerning the said book, as well for the satisfaction of judicious and godly Christians, as for the conservation of the perpetual memory of God's extraordinary providence in the miraculous preservation of the aforesaid Divine Discourses, and now bringing them again to light: I have done the same according to the plain truth thereof, not doubting but they will prove a notable advantage of God's glory, and the good and edification of the whole Church, and an unspeakable consolation of every particular member of the same. "Given under my hand the 3rd day of July, 1650. "HENRY BELL."


WHEREAS Captain Henry Bell hath strangely discovered and found a Book of Martin Luther's, called his Divine Discourses, which was for a long time very marvellously preserved in Germany: the which book the said Henry Bell, at his great costs and pains, hath translated into the English out of the German Tongue, which Translation and substance thereof is approved by Reverend Divines of the Assembly, as appears by a Certificate under their hands:

It is Ordered and Ordained by the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, that the said Henry Bell shall have the sole disposal and benefit of Printing the said Book translated into English by him as aforesaid, for the space of fourteen years, to commence from the date hereof. And that none do Print or Re-print the same but such as shall be licensed by the said Captain by Authority under his hand. HENRY ELSYNG. (Vera Copia.)



Of the Word of God; or the Holy Scriptures contained in the Bible.

The Bible, or Holy Scripture, said Luther, is like a fair and spacious orchard, wherein all sorts of trees do grow, from which we may pluck divers kinds of fruits; for in the Bible we have rich and precious comforts, learnings, admonitions, warnings, promises, and threatenings, etc. There is not a tree in this orchard on which I have not knocked, and have shaken at least a couple of apples or pears from the same.

Proofs that the Bible is the Word of God.

That the Bible is the Word of God, said Luther, the same I prove as followeth. All things that have been and now are in the world, also how it now goeth and standeth in the world, the same was written altogether particularly at the beginning, in the First Book of Moses concerning the Creation. And even as God made and created it, even so it was, even so it is, and even so doth it stand to this present day. And although King Alexander the Great, the kingdom of Egypt, the empire of Babel, the Persian, Grecian, and Roman Monarchs, the Emperors Julius and Augustus, most fiercely did rage and swell against this Book, utterly to suppress and destroy the same, yet notwithstanding, they could prevail nothing; they are all gone and vanished; but this Book, from time to time, hath remained, and will remain unremoved, in full and ample manner, as it was written at the first. But who kept and preserved it from such great and raging power; or, Who defendeth it still? Truly, said Luther, no human creature, but only and alone God himself, who is the right Master thereof; and it is a great wonder that it hath been so long kept and preserved, for the devil and the world are great enemies unto it. The devil doubtless hath destroyed many good books in the Church, as he hath rooted out and slain many saints, concerning whom we have now no knowledge. But, no thanks unto him, the Bible he was fain to leave unmeddled with. In like manner Baptism, the Sacrament, and the Office of Preaching have remained among us against the power of many tyrants and heretics that have opposed the same. These our Lord God hath kept and maintained by his special strength. Homer, Virgil, and suchlike are profitable and ancient books; but, in comparison of the Bible, they are nothing to be regarded.

By whom and at what Times the Bible was translated.

Two hundred and forty-one years before the humanity of Christ, the Five Books of Moses, and the Prophets, were translated out of the Hebrew into the Greek tongue by the Septuagint Interpreters, the seventy doctors or learned men then at Jerusalem, in the time of Eleazar the High-priest, at the request of Ptolemeus Philadelphus, King of Egypt, which King allowed great charges and expenses for the translating of the same.

Then, one hundred and twenty-four years after the birth of Christ, his death and passion, the Old Testament was translated out of Hebrew into Greek by a Jew, named Aquila (being converted to the Christian faith), in the time of Hadrian the Emperor.

Fifty and three years after this Aquila, the Bible was also translated by Theodosius.

In the three-and-thirtieth year after Theodosius, it was translated by Symmachus, under the Emperor Severus.

Eight years after Symmachus, the Bible was also translated by one whose name is unknown, and the same is called the Fifth Translation.

Afterwards the Bible was translated by Hieronymus (who first amended and corrected the Seventy Interpreters) out of Hebrew into the Latin tongue, which translation we use to this day in the Church. And truly, said Luther, he did enough for one man. Nulla enim privata persona tantum efficere potuisset. But he had not done amiss if he had taken one or two learned men to his translation besides himself, for then the Holy Ghost would more powerfully have been discerned, according to Christ's saying, "Where two or three be gathered together in my name, there will I be in the midst of them." And, indeed, said Luther, translators or interpreters ought not to be alone, for good and apt words do not always fall to one single man. And so long as the Bible was in the Church of the Gentiles, it was never yet in such perfection, that it could have been read so exactly and significantly without stop, as we have prepared the same here at Wittemberg, and, God be praised, have translated it out of Hebrew into the High German tongue.

Of the Differences between the Bible and other Books.

The Holy Scripture, or the Bible, said Luther, is full of divine gifts and virtues. The books of the Heathen taught nothing of Faith, Hope, and Love; nay, they knew nothing at all of the same; their books aimed only at that which was present, at that which, with natural wit and understanding, a human creature was able to comprehend and take hold of; but to trust in God and hope in the Lord, nothing was written thereof in their books. In the Psalms and in Job we may see and find how those two books do treat and handle of Faith, of Hope, of Patience, and Prayer.

To be short, the Holy Scripture, said Luther, is the best and highest book of God, full of comfort in all manner of trials and temptations; for it teacheth of Faith, Hope, and Love far otherwise than by human reason and understanding can be comprehended. And in times of troubles and vexations, it teacheth how these virtues should light and shine; it teacheth, also, that after this poor and miserable life there is another which is eternal and everlasting.

What we ought chiefly to seek for in the Bible, and how we ought to study and learn the Holy Scriptures.

The chief lesson and study in Divinity, said Luther, is well and rightly to learn to know Christ, for he is therein very friendly and familiarly pictured unto us. From hence St. Peter saith, "Grow up in the knowledge of Christ;" and Christ himself also teacheth that we should learn to know him only out of the Scriptures, where he saith, "Search the Scriptures, for they do testify of me."

We ought not, said Luther, to measure, censure, and understand the Scriptures according to our own natural sense and reason, but we ought diligently by prayer to meditate therein, and to search after the same. The devil and temptations also do give occasion unto us somewhat to learn and understand the Scriptures by experience and practice. Without trials and temptations we should never understand anything thereof; no, not although we diligently read and heard the same. The Holy Ghost must be the only master and tutor to teach us therein, and let youth and scholars not be ashamed to learn of this tutor. When I find myself in temptation, then I quickly lay hold and fasten on some text in the Bible which Christ Jesus layeth before me, namely, THAT HE DIED FOR ME, from whence I have and receive comfort.

That we should diligently read the Texts of the Bible, and stay ourselves upon it as the only true Foundation.

Whoso layeth a good foundation, and is a substantial Text-man, that is, he that is well grounded in the Text, the same hath whereupon he surely may keep footing, and runneth not lightly into error. And truly, said Luther, the same is most necessary for a Divine; for with the texts and grounds of the Holy Scriptures I dazzled, astonished, and overcame all my adversaries; for they approach dreamingly and lazily; they teach and write according to their natural sense, reason, and understanding, and they think the Holy Scripture is a slight and a simple thing; like the Pharisee, who thought a business soon done when our Saviour Christ said unto him, "Do that, and thou shalt live." The sectaries and seducing spirits understand nothing in the Scriptures; but with their fickle, inconstant, and uncertain books which they have devised, they run themselves into error.

Whoso is armed with the Text, the same is a right pastor; and my best advice and counsel is, said Luther, that we draw water out of the true fountain, that is, diligently to read in the Bible. He is a learned Divine that is well grounded in the Text; for one text and sentence out of the Bible is of far more esteem and value than many writings and glosses, which neither are strong, sound, nor armour of proof. As when I have that text before me of St. Paul, where he saith, "All the creatures of God are good, if they be received with thanksgiving." This text showeth that what God hath made is good. Now, eating, drinking, marrying, etc., are of God's making, therefore they are good. But the glosses of the Primitive Fathers are against this text, for St. Bernard, Basil, Dominicus, Hieronymus, and others have written far otherwise of the same. But I prefer the Text before them all, and it is far more to be esteemed of than all their glosses; yet, notwithstanding, in Popedom the glosses of the Fathers were of higher regard than the bright and clear text of the Bible, through which great wrong oftentimes is done to the Holy Scriptures; for the good Fathers, as Ambrose, Basil, and Gregory, have ofttimes written very cold things touching the Divine word.

That the Bible is the Head of all Arts.

Let us not lose the Bible, said Luther, but with all diligence and in God's fear read and preach the same; for if that remaineth, flourisheth, and be taught, then all is safe. She is the head and empress of all faculties and arts. If Divinity falleth, then whatsoever remaineth besides is nothing worth.

Of the Art of the School Divines in the Bible.

The art of the School Divines, said Luther, with their speculations in the Holy Scriptures, are merely vain and human reasonings, spun out of their own natural wit and understanding, of which I have read much in Bonaventura, but he had almost made me deaf. I fain would have learned and understood out of that book how God and my sinful soul had been reconciled together; but of that there was nothing to be found therein. They talk much of the union of the will and understanding, but all is mere phantasy and folly. The right and true speculation is this: "Believe in Christ; do what thou oughtest to do in thy vocation," etc. This is the only practice in Divinity. Also, Mystica Theologia Dionysii is a mere fable, and a lie, like to Plato's Fables. Omnia sunt non ens, et omnia sunt ens-All is something, and all is nothing; and so he leaveth all hanging in frivolous and idle sort.

True and upright Divinity consisteth in the practice, use, and exercise; her foundation is Christ; she taketh hold by faith on his passion, death, and resurrection. All those, said Luther, that concur not with us, and have not this doctrine before their eyes, the same do feign unto themselves but only a speculated Divinity, according to their carnal sense and reason, and according as they use to censure in temporal causes; for no man can divert them from these opinions, namely, "Whoso doth good works, and liveth an honest and civil kind of life, the same is an upright Christian, and he is well and safe;" but they are therein far deceived; for this is the truth indeed, "Whoso feareth God and trusteth in him, the same most surely will be well and safe at last."

Therefore, said Luther, these speculating Divines belong directly to the devil in hell. They follow their own opinions, and what with their five senses they are able to comprehend; and such is also Origen's divinity. But David is of another mind; he acknowledgeth his sins, and saith, "Miserere mei Domini," God be merciful to me a sinner. At the hands of these sophisticated Divines, God can scarcely obtain that he is God alone; much less can he find this favour of them, that they should allow only him to be good and just; nay, very hardly will they yield that he is an immortal God.

The Depths of the Bible.

The wise of the world, and the great ones, said Luther, understand not God's Word; but God hath revealed it to the poor contemned simple people, as our Saviour Christ witnesseth, where he saith, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes," etc.; from whence St. Gregory says well and rightly, that the Holy Scripture is like a water, wherein an "elephant swimmeth, but a little sheep goeth therein upon his feet."

I remember a Fable, said Luther, which fitteth very well for these times, and for this purpose, discoursed of before. A Lion, said he, making a great feast, invited all the beasts thereunto, and with them also he invited swine. Now, as all manner and sorts of dainties were brought and set before the guests, the swine demanded if Brewer's grains might be had for them. Even so, in these days it is with our Epicures; we Preachers bring and set before them in the Church the most dainty and costly dishes, as Everlasting Salvation, Remission of Sins, and God's Grace; but they, like swine, cast up their snouts, and root after Dollars, Crowns, and Ducats; and, indeed, said Luther, "what should a cow do with nutmegs?" She would rather content herself with oat-straw.

When we have God's Word pure and clear, then we are secure, we are negligent and regard it not, we think it will always so remain; we do not watch and pray against the devil, who is ready to tear the Word out of our hearts. It goeth with us as with travellers, who, so long as they are on the right way, are secure and careless; but when they go astray into woods or by-ways, then they are careful which way to take, whether this or that way be the right: even so are we secure by the pure doctrine of the Gospel; we are sleepy and negligent; we stand not in God's fear, nor defend ourselves with prayer against the devil. But those that entertain errors are highly busied, yea, they are very careful and diligent how to keep and maintain the same.

Of the future Want of upright and true Preachers of God's Word.

In a short time, said Luther, will be such want of upright Preachers and Ministers, that people would be glad to scratch out of the earth these good and godly Teachers now living, if they might but get them; then they will see what they have done in molesting and contemning the Preachers and Ministers of God's Word. Of Physicians and Lawyers there are enough, if not too many, to serve the world; but a country hath need of two hundred Ministers where one Lawyer is sufficient. My most gracious Lord, said Luther, the Prince Elector of Saxony, hath enough of twenty Lawyers in all his territories, but he must have near six thousand Preachers and Ministers.

That People, out of mere Wilfulness, do set themselves against God's Word.

Had I known, said Luther, when I first began to write, what I now see and find, namely, that people had been such enemies to God's Word, and so fiercely had set themselves against the same, truly I had held my peace; for I never should have been so courageous as to have fallen upon the Pope, and to have angered him, and almost the whole Christian world with him. I thought at first that people had sinned ignorantly, and out of human weakness, and not of set purpose and wittingly to endeavour to suppress God's Word; but it pleased God to lead me on in the mouth of the cannon, like a bar-horse that hath his eyes blinded, and seeth not who runneth upon him. Even so was I, as it were, tugged by my hair to the office of preaching; but had I then known what now I know, ten horses should scarce have drawn me to it. Moses and Jeremiah also complained that they were deceived.

Of the Archbishop of Mentz, one of the Spiritual Princes Electors, his Censure of the Bible.

Anno 1530, at the Imperial Assembly at Augsburg, Albertus, Bishop of Mentz, by chance had got into his hands the Bible, and for the space of four hours he continued reading therein; at last, one of his Council on a sudden came into his bed-chamber unto him, who, seeing the Bible in the Bishop's hand, was much amazed thereat, and said unto him, "what doth your Highness with that book?" The Archbishop thereupon answered him, and said, "I know not what this book is, but sure I am, all that is written therein is quite against us."

That the Bible is hated of the Worldly-wise and of the Sophists.

Doctor Ussinger, an Austin Friar, with me in the Monastery at Erfurt, said once unto me, as he saw that I diligently read and affected the Bible, "Brother Martin, what is the Bible? Let us," said he, "read the ancient Teachers and Fathers, for they have sucked the juice and truth out of the Bible. The Bible is the cause of all dissension and rebellion."

This, said Luther, is the censure of the world concerning God's Word; therefore we must let them run on their course towards that place which is prepared for them.

Of the Errors which the Sectaries do hold concerning the Word of God.

Bullinger said once in my hearing, said Luther, that he was earnest against the sectaries, as contemners of God's Word, and also against those who attributed too much to the literal Word; for, said he, such do sin against God and his almighty power, as the Jews did in naming the ark "God." But, said he, whoso holdeth a mean between both, the same is taught what is the right use of the Word and Sacraments.

Whereupon, said Luther, I answered him and said, "Bullinger, you err: you know neither yourself nor what you hold; I mark well your tricks and fallacies. Zuinglius and OEcolampadius likewise proceeded too far in this your ungodly meaning; but when Brentius withstood them, they then lessened their opinions, alleging they did not reject the literal Word, but only condemned certain gross abuses. By this your error," said Luther to Bullinger, "you cut in sunder and separate the Word and the Spirit; you separate those that preach and teach the Word from God who worketh the same; you also separate thereby the Ministers that baptize from God who commandeth it; and you think that the Holy Ghost is given and worketh without the Word; which Word, you say, is an external sign and mark that findeth the Spirit, which already and before possesseth the heart. Insomuch, according to your falsities, that if the Word findeth not the Spirit, but an ungodly person, then it is not God's Word; whereby you define and hold the Word, not according to God who speaketh it, but according as people do entertain and receive it. You will only grant that such is God's Word which purifieth and bringeth peace and life; but seeing it worketh not in the ungodly, therefore it is not God's Word. You teach that the outward Word is like an object or a picture, which signifieth and presenteth something; you measure the use thereof only according to the matter, like as a human creature speaketh for himself; you will not yield that God's Word is an instrument through which the Holy Ghost worketh and accomplisheth his work, and prepareth a beginning to righteousness or justification. In these errors are you drowned, so that you neither see nor understand yourselves.

"A man might vex himself to death against the devil, who, in the Papists, is such an enemy to God's Word. The devil seeth and feeleth that the external Word and preaching in the Church doth him great prejudice, therefore he rageth and worketh these errors against the same; but I hope God ere long will look into it, and will strike down the devil with these seducers.

"A true Christian," said Luther, "must hold for certain, and must say, That Word which is delivered and preached to the wicked, to the dissemblers, and to the ungodly, is even as well God's Word as that which is preached to the good and godly upright Christians. As also, the true Christian Church is among sinners, where good and bad are mingled together. And that Word, whether it produceth fruit or not, is nevertheless God's strength, which saveth all that believe thereon. And again, it will also judge the ungodly, as St. John saith in chap. v., otherwise they might plead a good excuse before God, that they neither ought to be nor could be condemned; for then they might truly allege that they have not had God's Word, and so consequently could not receive the same. But," said Luther, "I say, teach and acknowledge that the Preacher's words, his absolutions, and the sacraments, are not his words nor works, but they are God's words, works, cleansing, absolving, binding, etc.; we are but only the instruments, fellow-workers, or God's assistants, through whom God worketh and finisheth his work. We," said Luther to Bullinger, "will not endure these your metaphysical and philosophical distinctions and differences, which merely are spun and hammered out of human and natural sense and reason. You say, It is a man that preacheth, that reproveth, that absolveth, comforteth, etc., and that the Holy Ghost worketh; you say, likewise, the Minister baptiseth, absolveth, and administereth the sacraments, but it is God that cleanseth the hearts, and forgiveth sins, etc. Oh, no," said Luther, "but I conclude thus: God himself preacheth, threateneth, reproveth, affrighteth, comforteth, absolveth, administereth the sacraments, etc. As our Saviour Christ saith, 'Whoso heareth you, heareth me; and what ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,' etc. Likewise, 'It is not you that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.'"

"I am sure and certain," said Luther, "when I go up to the pulpit, or to the cathedral, to preach or read, that it is not my word which I speak, but my tongue is the pen of a ready writer, as the Psalmist saith. God speaketh in the Prophets and men of God, as St. Peter in his Epistle saith: 'The holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' Therefore we must not separate nor part God and man according to our natural reason and understanding. In like manner, every hearer must conclude and say, I hear not St. Paul, St. Peter, or a man speak; but I hear God himself speak, baptize, absolve, excommunicate, and administer the holy sacrament of the Lord's Supper, etc."

Bullinger, attentively hearkening to this discourse of that holy man, Luther, fell down flat on his face to the ground, and uttered these words following: "Oh, happy be the time that brought me hither to hear the divine discourse of this man of God" (Martin Luther), "a chosen vessel of the Lord to declare his truth! And now I abjure and utterly renounce these my former errors, finding them convinced and beaten down through God's infallible Word which out of his divine mouth" (Martin Luther), "hath touched my heart, and won me to his glory." After he had uttered these words lying on the ground, he arose and clasped his arms about Luther's neck, both of them shedding joyful tears.

Ah, God! said Luther at that time, what an unspeakable comfort a poor, weak, and sorrowful conscience might have and receive, if it could but believe that such words and comforts were the words and comforts of God himself, as in truth they are; therefore we conclude, short and round, that God through the Word worketh, which is an instrument whereby we are instructed to know him in heart, as by this present and happy example of the conversion of this our loving brother, Bullinger, we apparently see and find.

But whereas, said Luther, the Word produceth not fruit everywhere alike, but worketh severally, the same is God's judgment, and his secret will, which from us is hid; we ought not to desire to know it. For "the wind bloweth where it listeth," as Christ saith; we must not grabble nor search after the same.

If, said Luther, I were addicted to God's Word at all times alike, and always had such love and desire thereunto as sometimes I have, then should I account myself the most blessed man on earth. But the loving Apostle St. Paul failed also thereof, as he complains with sighs of heart, saying, "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind," etc. Should the Word be false because it bringeth not always fruit? Truly this art of determining and knowing the Word hath been in great danger from the beginning of the world, and hath endured much: few people there are that can hit it, except God, through his Holy Spirit, teacheth it them in their hearts. The Sectaries understand not the strength of God's Word. I do wonder, said Luther, that they do write and teach so much of God's Word, seeing they so little regard the same.

Ferdinand, Prince Elector of Saxony, used to say he had well discerned that nothing could be propounded by human reason and understanding, were it never so wise, cunning, or sharp, but that a man, even out of the selfsame proposition, might be able to confute and overthrow it; but God's Word only stood fast and sure, like a mighty wall which neither can be battered nor beaten down.

Which are the best Preachers and the best Hearers.

I, said Luther, esteem those to be the best Preachers which teach the common people and youth most plainly and simply, without subtlety, screwed words, or enlargements. Christ taught the people by plain and simple parables. In like manner, those are the best Hearers that willingly do hear and believe God's Word simply and plainly, and although they be weak in faith, yet so long as they doubt not of the doctrine they are to be holpen forward; for God can and will bear with weakness if it be but acknowledged, and that we creep again to the Cross and pray to God for grace, and amend ourselves.

David saith, "I hate them that imagine evil things, but thy law do I love," and will show therewith that we ought diligently to regard the strength of the Word of God, and not to contemn it, as the enthusiasts do, for God will deal with us by such means, and by the same will also work in us. Therefore the ancient Fathers say well touching this point, namely, that we ought not to look to the person baptizing or ministering the Sacrament, but we must look to God's Word.

Our Lord God electeth from hearts, to whom he revealeth his Word, and therewithal he giveth them mouths to speak it; preserveth and maintaineth it, not by sword, but through his Divine Power.

That we ought to direct all our Actions and Lives according to God's Word.

God, said Luther, hath his measuring-lines, and his canons, which are called the Ten Commandments; they are written in our flesh and blood. The contents of them is: "What thou wouldest have done to thyself, the same thou oughtest also to do to another." For God presseth upon that point, and saith, "Such measure as thou metest, the same shall be measured to thee again." With this measuring- line, or measure, hath God marked the whole world. They that live and do thereafter, well it is with them, for God doth richly reward them in this life; and a Turk or a Heathen may as well be partaker of such rewards as a Christian.

Where God's Word is loved, there dwelleth God.

Upon these words of Christ, "If a man loveth me, he will keep my Word, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him," I say thus, said Luther: Heaven and earth, the castles and palaces of all Emperors, Kings, and Princes, are no way sufficient to make a dwelling-place for God; yet, in a silly human creature that keepeth his Word he will dwell. Isaiah calleth heaven his "seat," and earth his "footstool," but not his dwelling; therefore, when we long to seek after God, we shall be sure to find him with them that hear and keep his Word, as Christ saith, "He that keepeth my Word, I will come and dwell with him."

A man could not speak more simply and childishly than Christ spake, and yet he confounded therewith all the wisdom of the worldly-wise. To speak in such a manner, said Luther, is not in sublimi, sed humili genere: if I should teach a child, I would teach him in this sort: "He that loves me, will keep my Word." Here we see that Christ saith not, Abstain from flesh, from marrying, from housekeeping, etc., as the Papists teach, for that were even to invite the devil and all his fellows to a feast.

That true and upright Christians are ready to suffer Death and all manner of Torments for the Gospel's sake, but Hypocrites do shun the Cross.

Not long since, said Luther, I invited to my table, at Wittemberg, an Hungarian Divine, named Matthias de Vai, who told me that, as he came first to be a Preacher in Hungary, he chanced to fall out with a Papistical Priest. Now, he was complained of by that Priest to a Friar that was brother to the Vaivoda, or Governor of Buda, and they were both summoned to appear before him. The one much accusing the other, insomuch that the Friar could not reconcile nor take up the controversy between them, at last, and after long debate, the Friar said, "I know a way soon to discover the truth of this cause," and commanded that two barrels of gunpowder should be set in the midst of the market-place at Buda, and said unto the parties, "He that will maintain his Doctrine to be right, and the true Word of God, let him sit upon one of these barrels, and I will give fire unto it, and he that remaineth living and unburned, his Doctrine is right." Then Matthias de Vai leaped presently upon one of the barrels and sat himself down thereon; but the Papist Priest would not up to the other barrel, but slunk away. Then the Friar said, "Now I see and know that the Faith and Doctrine of Matthias de Vai is the right, and that our Papistical Religion is false." And thereupon he punished and fined the Papist, with his assistants, for wronging De Vai, in four thousand Hungarian ducats, and compelled him for a certain time to maintain one hundred soldiers at his own charge; but he licensed Matthias de Vai openly to preach the Gospel. The Friar himself, recanting his religion, was converted and became a Protestant; whereupon Luther said, Never yet would any Papist burn for religion, but our people go with joy to the fire, as heretofore hath been well seen on the holy Martyrs.

By what God preserveth his Word.

God will keep his Word, said Luther, through the writing-pen upon earth; the Divines are the heads or quills of the pens, but the Lawyers are the stumps. If, now, the world will not keep the heads and quills-that is, if they will not hear the Divines-then they must keep the stumps-that is, they must hear the Lawyers, who will teach them manners.

That in Causes of Religion we must not judge according to human Wisdom, but according to God's Word.

When the Pope and Emperor, said Luther, cited me to appear at Worms, Anno Domini 1521, at the Imperial Assembly, they pressed and earnestly advised me to refer the determining of my cause to his Imperial Majesty; but I answered the three spiritual Electors, Maintz, Tryer, and Cologne, and said, "I will rather surrender up to his Majesty his letters of safe-conduct which he hath given me than to put this cause to the determining of any human creature whatsoever." Whereupon my master, the Prince Elector of Saxony, said also unto them, "Truly no man could offer more." But as they still insisted and urged me touching that point, I said, I did not dare to presume, without great danger of running myself into God's wrath, and of the loss of my soul's health, to refer this Cause, which is none of mine, but God's Cause, to the censure of earthly counsel; for the same, before all ages, hath been had in consultation, hath been determined, censured, concluded, and confirmed by the great Council in Heaven, to be and remain the infallible, most certain and true Word of the High Majesty of God; and therefore altogether needless, yea, most presumptuous now it were, either to receive or to deliver it to the determination and censure of human and natural sense, wit, and wisdom, which is subject to nothing more than to error, especially in and concerning God's Word and divine matters. And I told them flat and plain, I would rather expose myself to endure all the torments that this world, flesh, and the devil were able to devise and prepare than to give my consent thereunto.

That in former Times it was dangerous studying the Holy Scriptures.

In times past, as also in part of our time, said Luther, it was dangerous studying, when divinity and all good arts were contemned; and when fine, expert, and prompt wits were plagued with sophistry. Aristotle, the Heathen, was held in such repute and honour, that whoso undervalued or contradicted him was held, at Cologne, for the greatest heretic; whereas they themselves understood not Aristotle. The Sophists did much more darken Aristotle than illustrate him; like as that Friar did, who wasted two whole hours in a sermon about Christ's Passion, and concerning this question: Utrum quantitas realiter distincta sit a substantia-whether the quantity in itself were divided from the substance? He showed this example, and said, "My head might well creep through, but the bigness of my head could not;" insomuch that, like an idiot, he divided the head from the bigness thereof. A silly grammarian might easily have solved the same, and said, The bigness of the head, that is, the big or great head.

With such and the like fopperies were petty brains troubled, said Luther, and were instructed neither in good arts nor in divinity. Antipho, Chusa, Bovillus, and others were likewise miserably molested and plagued about bringing a thing which was round into four square, and to compare a straight line with a crooked. But we, God be praised, have now happy times; and it were to be wished that the youth made good use thereof, and spent their studying diligently in such arts as at this time are green, and flourish.

That the Jews have better Teachers and Writers of the Holy Scriptures than the Gentiles.

When I read in the Psalter, said Luther, I do much admire that David had such a spirit. Oh, what high enlightened people were among the Jews! This David was a married man; he was a king, a soldier, and a preacher; he was busy in temporal affairs, yet nevertheless he wrote such an excellent surpassing book. The New Testament was written also by men that were Jews, and the Apostles themselves were Jews: God would signify thereby that we should adore his Word, we should preciously esteem thereof, reverence, and love the same. We Gentiles have no book that ruleth in the Church, therefore we are not comparable to the Jews; from hence it is that St. Paul maketh a very fine distinction or difference between Sarah and Hagar, and the two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. Hagar was also a wife, but nothing near like Sarah; therefore it is a great pride, presumption, and wilfulness of the Pope, in that he, being but a human creature, will presume, without Scripture, to set himself against the Scripture, and will exalt himself above the same.

Of Luther's Complaint of the Multitude of Books.

The multitude of books, said Luther, is much to be lamented; no measure nor end is held in writing; every one will write books; some out of ambition to purchase praise thereby, and to raise them names; others for the sake of lucre and gain, and by that means further much evil. Therefore the Bible, by so many comments and books, will be buried and obscured, so that the Text will be nothing regarded. I could wish that all my books were buried nine ells deep in the ground, for evil example's sake, in that every one will imitate me with writing many books, thereby to purchase praise. But Christ died not for the sake of our ambition and vain-glory, but he died only to the end that his name might be sanctified.

That God's Word will not be truly understood without Trials and Temptations.

I, said Luther, did not learn my divinity at one only time, but I was constrained to search deeper and deeper, to which my temptations brought me; for no man, without trials and temptations, can attain to the true understanding of the Holy Scriptures. St. Paul had a devil that beat him with fists, and with temptations drove him diligently to study the Holy Scripture. I, said Luther, had cleaving and hanging on my neck the Pope, the Universities, all the deep-learned, and with them the devil himself; these hunted me into the Bible, where I diligently read, and thereby, God be praised, at length I attained to the true understanding of the same. Without such a devil, we are but only speculators of divinity, and according to our vain reasoning we dream that so-and-so it must be, as the Monks and Friars in monasteries do. The Holy Scripture of itself is certain and true enough; but God grant me the grace that I may catch hold on the right use thereof; for when Satan disputeth with me in this sort, namely, whether God be gracious unto me or no? then I must not meet him with this text: "Whoso loveth God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his strength, the same shall inherit the kingdom of God;" for then the devil presently objecteth, and hitteth me in the teeth, and saith, "Thou hast not loved God with all thy heart," etc., which, indeed, is true, and my own conscience therein witnesseth against me; but at such a time I must arm myself and encounter him with this text, namely: "That Jesus Christ died for me, and through him I have a gracious God and Father; Christ hath made an atonement for me," as St. Paul saith, "He is of God given unto us for wisdom, for righteousness, for holiness, and for redemption."

Tyrants, sectaries, seducers, and heretics do nothing else but drive us into the Bible, to make us read more diligently therein, and with more fervency to sharpen our prayers.

Of the Advice of the Bishop of Salzburg, how to qualify the Controversy between the Protestants and Papists, propounded to Luther shortly before his Death; touching which, Luther discoursed as followeth:

At the Imperial Assembly at Augsburg, in the year 1530, the Bishop of Salzburg said unto me, "Four ways and means there are to make a reconciliation or union between us and you Protestants. One is, that ye yield unto us. To that you say you cannot. The second is, that we yield unto you; but that we will not do. The third is, that the one party, by force, should be compelled to yield to the other; but thereupon a great combustion and tumult might be raised. Therefore the fourth way or means were to be applauded and used, namely, that now being here assembled together, the one party should strive to thrust out the other, and that party which shall have the advantage, and be the stronger, the same should put the other party into a bag and expel them." Whereupon I, said Luther, answered him and said, "This, indeed, were a very substantial course to settle unity and peace, wonderful wisely considered of, found out and expounded by such a holy and Christian-like Bishop as you are." And thereupon I took letters out of my pocket, which shortly before I had received from Rome, and gave the same to the Bishop to read, which letter related a pretty passage that fell out there five weeks before, between some Cardinals and the Pope's Fool, written as followeth:-

The said Cardinals had been in serious consultation how, and by what means, the Protestants in Germany might be convinced touching their error, and suppressed; but they saw the difficulty of it, in that the Protestants, in their books and writings, powerfully against the Papists, cited the sacred Scripture, and especially they opposed and withstood them with the doctrine of St. Paul, which were great blocks in the Papists' way, insomuch that they found it a business not so easily to be accomplished. Then said the Fool unto the Cardinals, "I know how to give you herein an advice, whereby you easily may be rid and quitted of St. Paul, that his doctrines shall not be approved of; as thus: The Pope," said the Fool, "hath power to make Saints; therefore let St. Paul be taken out of the number of the Apostles, and preferred to be a Saint, as then his dicta, or sayings, which are against you, shall no more be held for apostolical." "This and your proposition," said Luther to the Bishop, "are of equal value."


That human Sense and Reason cannot comprehend nor understand God's Works.

In all things, and in the least creatures, yea, also in their members, God's almighty power and great wonderful works do clearly shine. For what man, how powerful, wise, and holy soever, can make out of one fig, a fig-tree or another fig? or, out of one cherry- stone, can make a cherry or a cherry-tree? or what man can know how God createth and preserveth all things and maketh them grow?

And truly we find and see printed the Holy Trinity in all good arts and creatures, as the almighty power of God the Father, the wisdom of God the Son, and the goodness of God the Holy Ghost. Neither can we conceive or know how the apple of the eye doth see, or how understanding words are spoken distinctly and plainly when only the tongue is moved and stirred in the mouth, all which are natural things, as we daily see and act. How then should we be able to comprehend or understand the secret counsel of God's Majesty, or search it out with our sense, wit, reason, or understanding?

That no Man understands God's Works.

No man, said Luther, is able to imagine, much less to understand, what God hath done, and still doth without ceasing. Although we laboured and sweated blood to write but only three lines in such manner as St. John did write, yet were we never able to perform it. What, then, should we any way admire or wonder at our wisdom? I, for my part, said Luther, will be a fool, and will yield myself captive.

When one asked where God was before Heaven was created, St. Austin made answer thereunto and said, He was in himself. And as another, said Luther, asked me the same question, I said, He was building Hell for such idle, presumptuous, fluttering spirits and inquisitors. After he had created all things, he was everywhere, and yet he was nowhere; for I cannot fasten nor take hold of him without the Word. But he will be found there where he hath bound himself to be. The Jews found him at Jerusalem by the Throne of Grace (Exodus xxv.). We find him in the Word and Faith, in Baptism and Sacraments; but in his Majesty he is nowhere to be found.

It was a special grace in the Old Testament, when God bound himself to a certain place where he would be found, namely, in that place where the Tabernacle was, towards which they prayed; as first in Shiloh and Shechem, afterwards at Gibeon, and lastly at Jerusalem in the Temple.

The Greeks and Heathens in after-times, said Luther, did imitate the same, and did build temples for their idols in certain places, as at Ephesus for Diana, at Delphos for Apollo, etc. For where God built a church, there the devil would also build a chapel. They imitated the Jews also in this, namely, that as the most holy was dark and had no light, even so and after the same manner did they make their places dark where the devil made answer, as at Delphos and elsewhere. In such sort is the devil always God's ape.

But, said Luther, whereas the most holy must be dark, the same did signify that the Kingdom of Christ no other way was to be taken hold of and fastened, but only by the Word and by Faith.

That the Superfluity of temporal Wealth doth hinder the Faith.

God, said Luther, could be rich soon and easily if he would be more provident, and would deny us the use of his creatures. If he would but keep back the sun, that it should not shine, or lock up the air, detain the water, or quench out the fire-ah! then would we willingly give all our money and wealth to have the use of his creatures again.

But seeing God so liberally heapeth his gifts upon us, we therefore will claim them as by right, in despite of him, and let him deny them us if he dare. Therefore the unspeakable multitude of his innumerable benefits do hinder and darken the faith of the believers, much more of the ungodly.

That God doth purchase nothing but Unthankfulness with his Benefits.

God giveth sun and moon, said Luther, stars and elements, fire and water, air and earth, and all creatures; body and soul, and all manner of maintenance, of fruits, grain, corn, wine, and all that is profitable for the preserving of this temporal life; and, moreover, he giveth unto us his all-saving Word, yea, himself he giveth unto us.

But, said Luther, what getteth God thereby? Truly nothing else than that he is wickedly blasphemed; yea, that his only Son is pitifully scorned, contemned, and hanged on the gallows; his servants plagued, banished, persecuted and slain. This is the thanks that he hath for his Grace, for creating, for redeeming, sanctifying, nourishing, and for preserving us: such a seed, fruit, and godly child is the world. Oh, woe be to it!

Of God's Power in our Weakness.

God, said Luther, placeth his highest office very wonderfully; he commits it to preachers that are poor sinners and beggars, who do utter and teach it, and very weakly do thereafter, or live according to the same.

Thus goeth it always with God's power in our weakness; for when he is weakest in us, then is he strongest.

Howsoever God dealeth with us, it is always unacceptable.

How, said Luther, should God deal with us? Good days we cannot bear, evil we cannot endure. Giveth he riches unto us? then are we proud, so that no man can live by us in peace; nay, we will be carried upon hands and shoulders, and will be adored as gods. Giveth he poverty unto us? then are we dismayed, we are impatient, and murmur against him. Therefore nothing were better for us than soon to be conveyed to the last dance, and covered with shovels.

Of the acknowledging of Nature.

Adam had no need of books, said Luther, for he had the Book of Nature; and all the Patriarchs and Prophets, Christ and his Apostles, do cite much out of that book; as, touching the sorrows of women bearing children, of the fellowship and community of the members of man's body, as St. Paul relateth such parables, and saith that one member cannot miss another: if the eyes did not see, whither then would the feet go? how would they stumble and fall? If the hands did not fasten and take hold, how then should we eat? If the feet went not, where then would the hands get anything? Only the maw, that lazy drone, lies in the midst of the body, and is fatted like a swine. This parable, said Luther, teacheth us that mankind should love one another; as also the Greeks' pictures do teach concerning two men, the one lame and the other blind, who showed kindness the one to the other, as much as in them lay. The lame guided the blind in the way, which else he neither knew nor saw, and the blind carried the lame, that else could not go; so that they both were helped and came forward.

Of God's Goodness, if we could but trust unto him.

Once, towards evening, came flying into Luther's garden two birds, and made a nest therein, but they were oftentimes scared away by those that passed by. Then said Luther, O ye loving pretty birds! fly not away; I am heartily well contented with you, if ye could but trust unto me. Even so it is with us: we neither can trust in God, who, notwithstanding, showeth and wisheth us all goodness.

That God made all Things for Mankind.

God's power is great, said Luther, who holdeth and nourisheth the whole world, and maintaineth it; and it is a hard article where we say and acknowledge, "I believe in God the Father." He hath created all things sufficiently for us. All the seas are our cellars, all woods are our huntings; the earth is full of silver and gold, and of innumerable fruits, which are created all for our sakes, and the earth is a corn-house and a larder for us, etc.

That God's creatures are used, or rather abused, for the most part by the Ungodly.

The wicked and ungodly, said Luther, do enjoy and use the most part of God's creatures; for the tyrants have the greatest power, lands, and people in the world; the usurers have the money; the farmers have eggs, butter, corn, barley, oats, apples, pears, etc.; but good and godly Christians must suffer, be persecuted, must sit in dungeons where they can see neither sun nor moon, must be thrust out into poverty, must be banished, and plagued, etc. But certainly it must be better one day; it cannot always so remain; let us have but patience, and steadfastly remain by the pure doctrine, and, notwithstanding all this misery, let us not fall away from the same.

That God, and not Money, preserves the World.

God only, said Luther, and not money and wealth, maintains and preserves the world; for riches and much money do make proud and lazy people: as at Venice, where the richest people are, a horrible dearth fell among them in our memory, so that they were driven to call upon the Turks for help, who sent twenty-four galleys laden with corn, all which, as they almost were arrived, went down into the sea and sank before their eyes.

Therefore, said Luther, great wealth and money cannot still the hunger, but rather occasioneth more dearth; for where rich people are, there it is always dear, and things are at high rates. Moreover, money maketh no man right merry, but much more pensive and full of sorrow; for they are thorns which do prick people, as Christ calls riches; yet is the world so mad that they will set thereupon all their joy and felicity.

That God's corporeal Gifts are but little regarded.

One evening, Luther saw cattle going in the fields, in a pasture, and said: Behold, there go our preachers, our milk-bearers, butter- bearers, cheese and wool-bearers, which do daily preach unto us the faith towards God, that we should trust in him, as in our loving Father; he careth for us, and will maintain and nourish us.

That God nourisheth all the Beasts.

No man, said Luther, can account the great charges which God is at only in maintaining the birds and such creatures, which in a manner are nothing or little worth. I am persuaded, said he, that it costeth God yearly more to maintain only the sparrows than the yearly revenue of the French King amounteth unto. What then shall we say of all the rest of his creatures?

That God is skilful in all Manner of Trades.

God, said Luther, is skilful in all occupations and trades, in a most perfect and excellent manner; for, like a skilful tailor, he makes such a coat for the stag, which he wears nine hundred years together, and of itself it is not torn; also, like a good shoemaker, he gives him shoes on his feet, that last longer than the stag himself, etc.

God gives this world, with all his works, to those people who, as he knows before, will anger, contemn, and blaspheme him. What, then, may we think, will he give to those that through faith are justified, and do know that they, so justified, shall live and remain with him everlastingly?

That God will be praised in all Languages.

"All that hath breath, praise the Lord," saith the Psalm; thence it followeth that in all and every language, speeches, and tongues we should preach and praise the Lord. Why then, said Luther, have the Pope and the Emperor forbidden to sing and pray in the German tongue?

That God is willing we should make use of his Creatures.

Our loving Lord God is willing that we eat, drink, and be merry, and make use of his creatures, for therefore he hath created them. He will not have that we should complain, as if he had not given sufficient, or that he could not maintain our poor carcases; only that we do acknowledge him for our God, and thank him for his gifts.

That God fills the Bellies of the Ungodly, but he gives the Kingdom of Heaven to the Good and Godly.

We believe, said Luther, that God will give to us no better things than he giveth to the rich ungodly wretches in this world, to whom he gives an overplus, and the fill of good wine, money, wealth, power, honour, and all things that they would have or can desire. But the best wealth and treasure, which they do not desire, he denies them, namely, himself. But he that hath not God, let him have else what he will, so is he, notwithstanding, more miserable than was Lazarus, that lay at the rich man's gate and was starved to death. But it will go even so with them as it went with the glutton, that they everlastingly must hunger and want, and shall not have in all their power so much as the least drop of water, etc.

If, then, said Luther, the almighty and liberal God in such wise doth heap blessings upon his worst enemies and blasphemers, with all manner of temporal goods and wealth, and gives to some also kingdoms, principalities, etc., then may we, that are his children, easily conceive what he will give unto us, who, for his sake must suffer-yea, what he hath already given us. He hath given unto us his only-begotten Son, and with him hath bestowed all things upon us, so that through him we are God's children, and also heirs of his celestial treasure, and are co-heirs with Christ according to hope.

Court Cards.

God regards ungodly great Potentates, Kings, and Princes even as children regard playing at cards. While they play, and have good cards, they hold them in their hands; then, afterwards, when they have bad cards, they are weary of them, and throw them under the bench. Just so doth God with great Potentates. While they are in the government, and rule well, he holds them for good; but so soon as they do exceed, and govern ill, then he throws them down from their seat, as Mary sings, and there he lets them lie. Ut Regem Danioe.

The Queen of Denmark, that was sister to the Emperor Charles and King Ferdinand, died at that time when her husband, King Christian, was taken prisoner, who was kept in prison twenty years. And his son, who was the only heir of the kingdom, and was in the Court of the Emperor, died also at the Imperial Diet held at Ratisbon the same year, 1541. God hath taken up and gathered together a fine and glorious game at cards, all of mighty Potentates, as Emperors, Kings, Princes, etc.; they scuffle and fight one with another; touching which, said Luther, I could show many examples done in our time, etc.

"The Pope," said Melancthon, "for the space of these certain hundred years, hath been held for the principal Head of all Christendom. When he did but wink or hold up one finger, so must the Emperors, Kings, and Princes have humbled themselves and feared; insomuch that he was Lord of all Lords, King of all Kings on earth; yea, he was an earthly god. But now comes Almighty God, throws down the Pope, and wins that great king with the ace (Luther), and there he lies. This is God's government, as Mary sings in her Magnificat: Deposuit potentes-He puts down the mighty from their seat, etc.

"If I were rich," said Melancthon, "I would have artificially made me a game at cards, and a chess-board all of gold and silver, in a remembrance of God's game at cards, which are all great and mighty Emperors, Kings, and Princes, where he always thrusteth one out through another. N. is the four of diamonds, the Pope is the six of diamonds, the Turk is the eight of diamonds, the Emperor is the king in the game.

"At last comes our Lord God, divides the game, beats the Pope with Luther (he is the ace). But the Pope is not yet quite dead; Christ hath begun to slay him with the spirit of his mouth, so that he is dead in the hearts of believing Christians. I hope it is almost come so far that, in less than two hundred years, God will quite make an end of him, and of that antichristian idolatry, by his glorious coming."

Whoso from his Heart can humble himself before God, he hath gained.

Whoso can earnestly humble himself from his heart before God, he hath gained. For God can do nothing but to be merciful towards them that humble themselves. For if God should always be stern and angry, so should I, said Luther, be afraid of him as of the executioner. And seeing that I must stand in fear of the Pope, of the Emperor, of the Papistical Bishops, and of other tyrants, which are God's enemies, to whom then should I fly and take my refuge, if I should also be afraid of God?

That God preserves Nurture and Discipline.

God's works and actions will be where good nurture and discipline is maintained, especially in wars, where a good government is settled; otherwise it goeth strangely, dissolutely, and ill, as in this time we see too well.

When God will confound the wisdom of the wise, he makes them first mad and furious in their proceedings, as he dealt with the Popish Princes and Bishops at the Imperial Diet held at Augsburg.

Let the adversaries rage and swell their fills, said Luther, and as long as they can. God hath set the sea her bounds; he suffers the same to beat and rage with her waves, as if they would over-run, cover, and drown everything; yet, notwithstanding, they must not pass the shore and banks, although God keeps the waters in their compass, not with iron, but with weak walls of sand. This discourse Luther held at that time when letters were written unto him from the Assembly at Frankfort, concerning the Papists, with their practices and exploits, intending to fall upon the Protestants in all parts.

The second Psalm, said Luther, is one of the best Psalms. I love that Psalm with my heart. It strikes and slashes valiantly amongst the Kings, Princes, Counsellors, Judges, etc. If it be true what this Psalm saith, then are the allegations of the Papists stark lies. If I were as our Lord God, and had committed the government to my son, as he hath done to his Son, and that these angry gentlemen were so disobedient as they now are, I would, said Luther, throw the world into a lump.

Mary, the poor child-maid of Nazareth, also combateth with these great Kings, Princes, etc., as she sings, "He hath put down the mighty from their seat," etc. No doubt, said Luther, she had an excellent undaunted voice. I, for my part, dare not sing so. The tyrants say, "Let us break their bonds asunder." What that is, said he, present experience teacheth us; for we see how they drown, how they hang, burn, behead, strangle, banish, and torture; and all this they do in despite of God. "But he sits above in heaven, and laugheth them to scorn." If, said Luther, God would be pleased to give me a little time and space, that I might expound a couple of small Psalms, I would bestir myself so boldly that, Samson-like, I would take all the Papists away with me.

By reason of our stiff-necked Hardness, God must be both harsh and good too.

I was, said Luther, very lately sharply reprimanded and taxed by a Popish flattering Courtier, a Priest, because with such passion I had written, and so vehemently had reproved the people. But I answered him and said, "Our Lord God must first send a sharp pouring shower, with thunder and lightning, and afterwards cause it mildly to rain, as then it wetteth finely through. In like manner, a willow or a hazel wand I can easily cut with my trencher-knife, but for a hard oak a man must have and use axes, bills, and such-like, and all little enough to fell and to cleave it."

What that is, God is nothing, and yet he is all Things.

Plato, the Heathen, disputed of God, that God is nothing, and yet he is all things; him followed Dr. Eck, and the Sophists, who understood nothing thereof, as their words do show, which no man could understand. But, said Luther, we must understand and speak of it in this manner: God is incomprehensible and invisible, therefore what may be seen and comprehended, that is not God. And thus a man may speak also in another manner and wise: As God is either visible or invisible; visible he is in his Word and Works, but where his Word and Works are not, there a man should not desire to have him, for he will be found nowhere else than where he hath revealed himself. But these and such-like will find and take hold of him with their speculations, so that instead of God they take hold of the devil, and find him, for he will be also a god. But I do truly admonish and warn every one that they abstain from such speculations, and not to flutter too high, but remain by the manger, and by the swaddling-clothes wherein Christ doth lie (in the Holy Scriptures), "in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," as St. Paul saith (Col. ii.). There a man cannot fail of God, but finds and hits upon him most certainly. I would willingly that this rule might be observed after my death, namely: Human comfort and Divine comfort are of two sorts: human comfort consisteth in external visible help, which a man may see, hold, and feel; but Divine comfort consisteth only in words and promises, where there is neither seeing, hearing, nor feeling.

That Children are God's special Blessings and Creatures.

Dr. Jonas, inviting Luther to a dinner, had caused a bough, with ripe cherries, to be hung up over the table where they dined, in remembrance of the creation, thereby to put his guests in mind to praise the glorious God in his blessing and creating such fruits, etc. But Luther asked him why he did not rather remember the same by his children that were the fruit of his body. For, said he, they surpass and are far more excelling creatures of God than all the fruits of trees. By them we see God's Power, Wisdom, and Art, who hath made them all out of nothing, hath given them in one year life and all members, so exquisitely hath created and will maintain and preserve them. Yet, notwithstanding, we do not much regard it; nay, we are in such gifts of God blind and covetous, as commonly it falleth out that people when they have got children grow worse and more covetous; they rake and rend all they can, to the end enough may be left for their children. They do not know that before a child comes to the world, and is born, it hath its lot; and already is ordained and determined what and how much it shall have, and what shall be thereout. In the state of matrimony we learn and find that begetting and bearing of children stands and consists not in our wills and pleasures, for the parents can neither see nor know whether they be fruitful or no, nor whether God will give them a son or a daughter. All this is done without our ordaining, thinking, or foreknowledge. My father and mother did not think that they should have brought a superintendent into the world; it is only God's Creation which we cannot rightly understand nor conceive. I believe, said Luther, that in the life to come we shall have nothing else to do than to meditate of our Creator, and of his celestial creatures, and wonder at the same.


Of the World, and of the Manner thereof.

The world, said Luther, will neither have nor hold God for God, nor the devil for the devil. And if a man were left to himself, and should be suffered to do after his own kind and nature, then would he willingly throw our Lord God out at the window; for the world regards God nothing at all, as the Psalm saith, Dixit impius in corde suo, non est Deus. On the contrary, the god of the world is riches, pleasure, and pride, wherewith they abuse all the creatures and gifts of God.

The Monks and Friars, in times past, boasted much of their contemning of the world, and they made use of that speech of St. Paul (Rom. xii.), "Be not conformed to this world;" from whence they would touch no money, as if it were against God to make use of riches, money, and wealth; whereas St. Paul and the whole Scriptures forbid but only the abuse of heart, wicked lust, desire, and inclination; as there is ambition, incontinency, revenge, etc., which lusts do hang on the world; yea, they altogether flow and flourish.

Of the Manner of People in Eating.

We have the nature and manner of all wild beasts in eating. The wolves eat sheep; we also. The foxes eat hens, geese, etc.; we also. The hawks and kites eat fowl and birds; we also. Pikes do eat other fish; we also. With oxen, horse, and kine, we also eat sallets, grass, etc.

The Unthankfulness of Husbandmen and Farmers.

The husbandmen and rich farmers, said Luther, are not worthy of so many benefits and fruits which the earth doth bear and bring unto them. I give more thanks to our Lord God for one tree or bush than all rich farmers and husbandmen do for their large and fruitful grounds. Yet, said he, we must except some husbandmen, as Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Isaac, who went out to see their grounds, to the end they might remember God's gifts in his creatures. (Gen. xxiv.)

The world will have night owls, said Luther, that is, sectaries, seducers, and unbelievers, about whom the birds do fly; that is, the world wonders at them, entertains them with great honour, and gives them money and wealth enough.

The Gospel discovereth the Wickedness of Mankind.

As the cold, said Luther, is always greater and more piercing in winter when the days begin to lengthen, and when the sun draws near unto us, for that maketh the cold thicker, and presseth it together: just so the wickedness of mankind is greater, that is, more visible, and breaks out when the Gospel is preached; for the Holy Ghost reproveth the world of sin, which the world neither can nor will endure.

The World's Unthankfulness towards the Servants of God.

He must be of a high and great spirit that undertaketh to serve the people both in body and soul, and nevertheless must suffer the utmost danger and highest unthankfulness. Therefore Christ said to Peter, Simon, etc., "Lovest thou me?" and repeated it three times together. Afterwards he said, "Feed my sheep," as if he would say, "Wilt thou be an upright Minister and a Shepherd? then love must only do it; thy love to me must do the deed, otherwise it is impossible." For who can endure unthankfulness? to study away his wealth and health, and afterwards to lay himself open to the highest danger and unthankfulness of the wicked world? Therefore he saith, "It is very needful that thou lovest me."

The Pope and Turk, said Luther, have thoroughly revenged our cause, and have done to the world a great deal of right, as by scourging experience they have thoroughly been taught, for so the world will have it. Upright and true servants of God they will not endure, nay, they murder them, therefore they must have such fellows, yea, and moreover, they must maintain and hold them in great honour and esteem, and yet nevertheless must by them be cursed and deceived.

The World must have stern and fierce Rulers.

The world, said Luther, cannot be without such stern Governors, by whom they must be ruled. King Ferdinand, with his Popish tyranny, is even a fine liquorish bit for the world; therefore said God, through the Prophet Samuel, to his people of Israel that prayed for a King, He would give them a King, but this shall be his rule: "He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen, and will take your daughters to be cooks," etc. As Ferdinand, the Prince Elector of Saxony, returned home from the election of the Emperor Charles at Cologne, he asked me how I liked the news, that they had elected Charles, King of Spain, to be Roman Emperor. I answered him and said, "The ravens must have a kite."

The World's highest Wisdom.

The highest wisdom of the world is, said Luther, to trouble themselves with temporal, earthly, and vanishing things; and as it happeneth and falleth out with those things, they say, "Non putaram" (I had not thought it). For faith is a certain and a sure expectation of that which a man hopeth for, and maketh no doubt of that which he seeth not, as the Epistle to the Hebrews saith: Faith looks to that which is to come, and not to that which is already present. Therefore a true Christian doth not say, "Non putaram" (I had not thought it); but he is most certain that the beloved Cross is near at hand, and will surely come upon him; therefore he is not afraid when it goeth evil with him, and he is tormented. But the world, and those that live securely in the world, cannot brook misfortunes; they go on continually leaping and dancing in pleasure and delight, like the rich Glutton in the Gospel. He could not spare the scraps to poor Lazarus, but Lazarus belonged to Christ, and he took his part.

The Language and Doings of the World.

Albertus, Bishop of Mentz, had a physician attending on his person who was a Protestant, and therefore the less in the Bishop's favour; the same, being covetous and puffed up with ambition, recanted his religion and fell to Popery, uttering these words: "I will, for awhile, set Christ behind the door, until I be grown rich, and then I will take him to me again." Such and the like blasphemous words do deserve the highest punishments, as befell that wicked dissembling wretch, for the same night he was found in his bed in a most fearful manner, with his tongue torn out of his mouth, as black as a coal, and his neck wrung in twain. Myself, said Luther, at that time coming from Frankfort to Mentz, was an eye-witness of that just judgment of God. If, said he, a man could bring to pass, and at his pleasure could set God behind the door, and take him again when he listed, then was God his prisoner. They were words of a damned Epicure, and so accordingly he was rewarded.

Luther's Comparison of the World.

The world seems to me like unto a decayed house. David and the Prophets are the spars; Christ is the main pillar in the midst that supporteth all.

The World seeketh Immortality with their Pride.

Whereas all people do feel and acknowledge, yea, do see, that they must die and vanish away, every one therefore seeketh here on earth immortality, that he may be had in everlasting remembrance. Sometimes great Princes and Kings sought it by causing great columns of marble stone and exceedingly high pyramids, buildings, and pillars four square to be erected, as at this time they do with building great churches, costly and glorious palaces and castles, etc. Soldiers do look and hunt after great praise and honour by overcoming and obtaining famous victories. The learned seek an everlasting name in writing books, as in our time is to be seen. With these and such-like, people do think to be immortal. But on the true, everlasting, and incorruptible honour and eternity of God, no man thinketh nor looketh after the same. Ah! we are poor, silly, and miserable people!

What is to be considered in the executing of Offices.

If, said Luther, the great pains and labour which I take sprang not from love and for the sake of him that died for me, the world could not give me money enough to write only one book, or to translate the Bible. I desire not to be rewarded and paid of the world for my book; the world is too poor and simple to give me satisfaction. I have not desired the value of one penny of my master the Prince Elector of Saxony, so long as I have been in this place. The whole world is nothing else but a turned-about Decalogus, or the Ten Commandments backwards, a wizard, and a picture of the devil. All contemners of God, all blasphemers, all disobedient; whoredom, pride, theft, murder, etc., are now almost ripe for the slaughter; neither is the devil idle, with Turk and Pope, heresies and other erroneous sects. Every man draws the Christian liberty only to carnal excess, as if now they had free liberty and power to do what they list; therefore the kingdom of the devil and Pope is the best government for the world, for therewith they will be governed with strict laws and rights, with superstition, unbelief, etc.

The world grows worse through the doctrine of God's Grace and preaching of the Gospel; for when they hear that after this life there is another, they are well enough content with this life, and that God should keep the other to himself; if they may have here but only good days, honour, and wealth, that is all they care for or desire.

At the time of my being in Rome, said Luther, there died a Cardinal very rich, and left behind him great store of money; shortly before his death he made his will, and laid it in a chest where the money was. After his death the chest was opened, and therein, by the money, was found lying a bull, written on parchment, with these words:

Dum potui, rapui; rapiatis, quando potestis. (I extorted and oppressed as long as I was able; while ye have power, get what you can.)

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