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WORKS OF MARTIN LUTHER -
TO THE SERENE, HIGHBORN PRINCE AND LORD, PHILIP, LANDGRAVE OF HESSE.
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COUNT OF KATZENELLENBOGEN, ZIEGENHAIN AND NIDDA,
My gracious lord.
Grace and peace in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Serene, highborn Prince, gracious Lord.
Certain persons have been begging me for the past five years to write about war against the Turks, and encourage our people and stir them up to it, and now that the Turk is actually approaching, my friends are compelling me to do this duty, especially since there are some stupid preachers among us Germans (as I am sorry to hear) who are making the people believe that we ought not and must not fight against the Turks. Some are even so crazy as to say that it is not proper for Christians to bear the temporal sword or to be rulers; also because our German people are such a wild and uncivilized folk that there are some who want the Turk to come and rule. All the blame for this wicked error among the people is laid on Luther and must be called “the fruit of my Gospel,” just as I must bear the blame for the rebellion, and for everything bad that happens anywhere in the world.
My accusers know better, but God and His Word to the contrary, they pretend not to know better, and seek occasion to speak evil of the Holy Ghost and of the truth that is openly confessed, so that they may earn the reward of hell and never receive repentance or the forgiveness of their sins.
Therefore it is necessary for me to write of these things for my own sake and the Gospel’s sake and to enter our defense; not because of the blasphemers, however. They are not good enough to make it worthwhile to say a single word of defense to them, for to them the Gospel must always be a stench and a savor of death unto death, as they have deserved by their willful blasphemy. But I must write in order that innocent consciences may not any longer be deceived by these slandermongers, and made suspicious of me or my doctrine, and may not be deceived into believing that we must not fight against the Turks. I have thought best to publish this little book under the name of your Grace, who are a famous and mighty prince, so that it may be the better received and the more diligently read. Thus, if it came to a discussion of a campaign against the Turks, the princes and lords would readily recall it. I commend your Grace to our merciful God’s grace and favor, that He may keep your Grace against all error and against the craft of the devil, and illumine and strengthen your Grace for a blessed reign.
Your Grace’s devoted Martin Luther
Wittenberg, October 9, 1528
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