Page:The letters of Martin Luther.djvu/285

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

world. It is certain to bear evil fruit whenever the devil has time to stir up mischief, as in the Munster disturbances and the Peasant Rising (1525).

We have the clergy’s example before our eyes, who lived so securely and shamefully that they were despised of all, never dreaming they should sink into such contempt. But this has happened, and we must see that they never again are held in the same esteem. The nobility are following their example, and will inherit the lot of the clergy. To prevent such ideas taking possession of the people, it is good that those who deserve it should be praised. For God always arranges that there should be some excellent people in high positions so that He may not have made His people in vain, even should there only be one Lot in Sodom. . . . Therefore as God has endowed you with great love to His Holy Word and to all virtue, I could not refrain from lauding His grace in you (for it is God’s grace and not your merits), to see if perchance your example might not move some of the reckless nobility to act worthy of their pedigree and not in such a boorish manner. It is the bounden duty of those who desire to rule in the world that they set an honorable and virtuous example to those beneath them. God demands this. I trust your heart may have as much pleasure in this and such-like little books as those who make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem have.

Not that I despise such a pilgrimage, for I would gladly make the journey, and now that it is too late, I listen and read eagerly about it, as I did lately, only we have not a very high opinion of such pilgrimages.

And it might happen to me as it did at Rome, when I was such a bigot as to rush through all the churches and cloisters believing all the lies they told. I said one or two masses at Rome, and it was actually a grief to me that my father and mother still lived, so gladly would I have delivered them from purgatory through good works, masses, and prayers, etc.

There is a saying in Rome, “Blessed is the mother whose son holds a mass on the Saturday of St. John’s!” How gladly would I have made my mother blessed!