OF SPIRITUAL AND CHURCH LIVINGS
My advice is that the sees of the protestant bishops be permitted to remain,
for the profit and use of poor students and schools; and when a bishop, dean,
or provost, cannot, or will not preach himself, then he shall, at his own
charge, maintain other students and scholars, and permit them to study and
preach. But when potentates and princes take spiritual livings to themselves,
and will famish poor students and scholars, then the parishes of necessity must
be wasted, as is the case already, for we can get neither ministers nor
deacons. The pope, although he be our mortal enemy, must maintain us, yet
against his will, and for which he has no
These times are evil, in that the church is so
spoiled and robbed by the princes and potentates; they give nothing, but take
and steal. In former times they gave liberally to her, now they rob her. The
church is more torn and tattered than a begger's cloak; nothing is added to the
stipends of the poor servants of the church. They who bestow them to the right
use are persecuted, it going with them as with St Lawrence, who, against the
emperor's command, divided the church livings among the poor.
The benefices under popedom are unworthy that
Christian use should be made of them, for they are the wages of strumpets, as
the prophet says, and shall return to such again. The pope is fooled, in that
he suffers the emperor and other princes to take possession of spiritual
livings, he hopes thereby to preserve his authority and power. For this reason
he wrote to Henry of England, that he might take possession of spiritual
livings; provided he, the pope, were acknowledged, by the king, chief bishop.
For the pope thinks: I must now, in these times of trouble and danger, court
the beast; I must yield in some things. Ah! how I rejoice that I have lived to
see the pope humbled; he is now constrained to suffer his patrons, his
protectors, and defenders, to take possession of church livings to preserve his
power, but he stands like a tottering wall, about to be overthrown. How will it
be with the monasteries and churches that are fallen down and decayed? They
shall never be raised up again, and the prophecy will be fulfilled. Popedom has
been and will be a prey. Twelve years since, the pope suffered one prince to
take possession of divers bishoprics; afterwards, at the imperial diet at
Augsburg, the prince was compelled to restore them; now the pope gives him them
again: this prince and his retinue may well forsake the gospel, seeing the pope
yields so much to him. `Tis a very strange time, and of which we little thought
twenty years past, to see the pope, that grizzly idol, of whom all people stood
in fear, now permitting princes to condemn and scorn him, him whom the emperor
dared not, thirty years past, have touched with but one word.
`Tis quite fitting a poor student should have
a spiritual living to maintain his study, so that he bind not himself with
ungodly and unchristianlike vows, nor consent to hold communion with the errors
of the papists. Ah, that we might have but the seventh part of the treasure of
the church, to maintain poor students in the church. I am sorry our princes
have such desire for bishoprics; I fear they will be their bane, and that they
will lose what is their own.
Cannons and firearms are cruel and damnable
machines. I believe them to have been the direct suggestion of the devil.
Against the flying ball no valor avails; the soldier is dead, ere he sees the
means of his destruction. If Adam had seen in a vision the horrible instruments
his children were to invent, he would have died of grief.
War is one of the greatest plagues that can
afflict humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys
families. Any scourge, in fact, is preferable to it. Famine and pestilence
become as nothing in comparison with it. Pestilence is the least evil of the
three, and `twas therefore David chose it, willing rather to fall into the
hands of God than into those of pitiless man.
Some one asked, what was the difference
between Samson the strong man, and Julius Caesar, or any other celebrated
general, endowed at once with vigor of body and vigor of mind? Luther answered:
Samson's strength was an effect of the Holy Ghost animating him, for the Holy
Ghost enables those who serve God with obedience to accomplish great things.
The strength and the grandeur of soul of the heathen was also an inspiration
and work of God, but not of the kind which sanctifies. I often reflect with
admiration upon Samson; mere human strength could never have done what he
How many fine actions of the old time have
remained unknown, for want of an historian to record them. The Greeks and
Romans alone possessed historians. Even of Livy, we have but a portion left to
us; the rest is lost, destroyed. Sabellicus proposed to imitate and continue
Livy, but he accomplished nothing.
Victories and good fortune, and ability in war,
are given by God, as we find in Hannibal, that famous captain, who hunted the
Romans thoroughly, driving them out of Africa, Sicily, Spain, France, and
almost out of Italy. I am persuaded he was a surpassing valiant man; if he had
but had a scribe to have written the history of his wars, we should, doubtless
have known many great and glorious actions of his.
Great people and champions are special gifts
of God, whom he gives and preserves: they do their work, and achieve great
actions, not with vain imaginations, or cold and sleepy cogitations, but by
motion of God. Even so `twas with the prophets, St Paul, and other excelling
people, who accomplished their work by God's special grace. The Book of Judges
also shows how God wrought great matters through one single person.
Every great champion is not fitted to govern;
he that is a soldier, looks only after victories, how he may prevail, and keep
the field; not after policy, how people and countries may be well governed. Yet
Scipio, Hannibal, Alexander, Julius and Augustus Caesars looked also after
government, and how good rule might be observed.
A valiant and brave soldier seeks rather to
preserve one citizen than to destroy a thousand enemies, as Scipio the Roman
said; therefore an upright soldier begins not a war lightly, or without urgent
cause. True soldiers and captains make not many words, but when they speak, the
deed is done.
They who take to force, give a great blow to the
Gospel, and offend many people; they fish before the net, etc. The prophet
Isaiah and St Paul say: "I will grind him (antichrist) to powder with the rod
of my mouth, and will slay him with the spirit of my lips." With such weapons
we must beat the pope. Popedom can neither be destroyed nor preserved by force;
for it is built upon lies; it must therefore be turned upside down and
destroyed with the word of truth. It is said: "Preach thou, I will give
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