Page:The letters of Martin Luther.djvu/196

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to look after the poor children, and train them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, it is necessary to have teachers and preachers.

If old people do not wish these they can always go to the devil. But when the youth are neglected it is the fault of the authorities, and the land will be filled with lawless people, who not only disobey God’s commands, but bring us all into dire distress.

But now that the Papal rule is at an end in your Serene Highness’s land, and all the cloisters have reverted to you as the head, then these bring obligations with them — the setting of them in order — duties which devolve on you, and which no one else should take up.

Having discussed all this with your Grace’s Chancellor and Herr Nicolas, we think it will be necessary that you, being appointed of God for such a purpose, arrange for four persons to visit all the country — two who understand business matters, land and interest (Zinzen), and two who understand teaching and preaching — so that they, by your Serene Highness’s command, may establish and see to the maintenance of schools and Church livings. Where any town or village is able, then your Grace can compel them to maintain churches, manses, and schools.

If they are not willing to do so for the sake of their future well-being, then your Electoral Highness, as guardian of the youth and all who require it, is quite justified in compelling them to do it, even as the law obliges people to make bridges, roads, etc., for the public benefit.

Now, the most necessary of all is to educate those who come after us and are to bear rule.

Should this press too heavily on the people, then there are the cloister possessions, which were founded mainly for this purpose, and still can be appropriated for the common weal. For, your Electoral Highness can well imagine the outcry which would through time arise were the schools and benefices to be permitted to run waste while the nobility were appropriating the riches of the cloisters, which, it is said, some are already doing.