TO THE ELECTOR JOHN
Luther advises the Elector to vote for Ferdinand as Roman Emperor.
December 12, 1530.
Grace and peace, Most Serene High-born Prince, Most Gracious Lord! My dear friend Dr. Bruck has, at your Grace’s request, secretly asked my opinion as to the election of a Roman Emperor, as His Majesty wished your opinion on this matter. Although my mean worldly position should preclude my mixing in such high matters, about which I cannot advise, not being sufficiently acquainted with all the circumstances, still I shall communicate my thoughts to your Grace. First, I think that it is most desirable that, in the choice of a king, your Grace should, in God’s name, vote, and for this reason: If you refuse to vote, then they might have a pretext for depriving you of your Electorate. On the other hand, if you do vote, then you would be confirmed in the tenure of your Electorate, and thus their cunning devices to deprive you of your lands would be frustrated, even as God defeated their wickedness at Augsburg when they fancied your Grace dared not appear, and then they would have had a pretext for condemning your Electoral Highness. So again their wiles will be foiled, and you will retain your lands with all the more glory. You may rest assured that it is no sin to choose an enemy of the gospel in a worldly sense as Emperor, as you cannot prevent it, and then your Grace must obey the King.
And again, should your Highness refuse to vote, the choice might fall on Herzog George, or such another, and then the title might descend to his heirs, and cause unending jealousy and dissension. Therefore, should your Grace, through refusing to vote, burden your conscience with so many evil consequences, it would be a great grief to me, and perhaps most offensive to God.
It would be better to vote, trusting in God, who is able to shape the future far better than we, and your Electoral