Charles V, Emperor (Holy Roman Empire)

 Luther's Appeal to Caesar and Selected Letters
 Concerning the Hearing at Worms (Excerpts)

Luther's Appeal to Caesar (Emperor Charles V)

It is not presumptuous that one who through evangelical truth has ascended the throne of Divine Majesty should approach the throne of an earthly prince, nor is it unseemly that an earthly prince, who is the image of the Heavenly, should stoop to raise up the poor from the dust. Consequently, unworthy and poor though I be, I prostrate myself before your Imperial Majesty. I have published books which have alienated many, but I have done so because driven by others, for I would prefer nothing more than to remain in obscurity. For three years I have sought peace in vain. I have now but one recourse. I appeal to Caesar. I have no desire to be defended if I am found to be impious or heretical. One thing I ask, that neither truth nor error be condemned unheard and unrefuted

(Source: Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (1950)(Hendrickson, p. 142).

Elector Frederick the Wise

Luther's letter to Frederick the Wise on his willingness to appear before the Diet

You ask me what I shall do if I am called by the emperor. I will go even if I am too sick to stand on my feet. If Caesar calls me, God calls me. If violence is used, as well it may be, I commend my cause to God. He lives and reigns who saved the three youths from the fiery furnace of the king of Babylon, and if He will not save me, my head is worth nothing compared with Christ. This is no time to think of safety I must take care that the gospel is not brought into contempt by our fear to confess and seal our teaching with our blood.

(Source: Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (1950)(Hendrickson, p. 167).

Vicar of the Augustinian order, Johann von Staupitz

Luther's letter to Johann von Staupitz on his willingness to appear before the Diet

This is not the time to cringe, but to cry aloud when our Lord Jesus Christ is damned, reviled and blasphemed.  If you exhort me to humility, I exhort you to pride.  The matter is very serious.  We see Christ suffer.  if hitherto we ought to have been silent and humble, I ask you whether now, when the blessed Saviour is mocked, we should not fight for him.  My father, the danger is greater than many think.  Now applies the world of the gospel, “He who confesses to me before men, him will I confess in the presence of my father, and he who denies me before men, him will I deny.”  I write this candidly to you because I am afraid you hesitate between Christ and the pope, though they are diametrically contrary.  Let us pray that the Lord Jesus will destroy the son of perdition with the breath of his mouth.  If you will not follow, permit me to go.  I am greatly saddened by your submissiveness.  You seem to me to be a very different Staupitz from the one who used to preach grace and the cross….Father do you remember when we were at Augsburg you said to me, “Remember, brother, you started this in the name of Lord Jesus.”  I have never forgotten that, and I say it now to you I burned the pope’s books at first with fear and trembling, but now I am lighter in heart than I have ever been in my life.  They are so much more pestilent than I supposed. 

(Source: Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (1950)(Hendrickson, p. 168).

Luther's Summons to Worms

The emperor's mandate was in the following terms:—"Honourable, dear, and devoted Luther.—Ourself and the states of the holy Roman empire, assembled at Worms, having resolved to demand an explanation from you on the subject of your doctrines and your books, we forward you a safe-conduct, to ensure your personal immunity from danger. We would have you immediately set forth on your journey hither, so that within twenty days of the receipt of our mandate, you may appear before us and the states. You have neither violence nor snares to fear. Relying upon our imperial word, we expect your obedience to our earnest wishes."

(Source: Luther's Werkr, ix. 10b*.)

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