Vol. 7, Chapter III (Cont’d) – The Bull of Excommunication. June 15, 1520


The bull “Exurge, Domine,” in the Bullarium Romanum, ed. CAR. Cocquelines, Tom. III., Pars III. (ab anno 1431 ad 1521), pp. 487-493, and in Raynaldus (continuator of Baronius): Annal. Eccl., ad ann. 1520, no. 51 (Tom. XX. fol. 303-306). Raynaldus calls Luther “apostatam nefandissimum,” and takes the bull from Cochlaeus, who, besides Eck and Ulemberg (a Protestant apostate), is the chief authority for his meager and distorted account of the German Reformation. A copy of the original edition of the bull is in the Astor Library, New York. See Notes.

U. v. Hutten published the bull with biting glosses: Bulla Decimi Leonis contra errores Lutheri et sequacium, or Die glossirte Bulle (in Hutten’s Opera, ed. Boecking, V. 301-333; in the Erl. ed. of Luther’s Op. Lat., IV. 261-304; also in German in Walch, XV. 1691 sqq.; comp. Strauss: U. v. Hutten, p. 338 sqq.). The glosses in smaller type interrupt the text, or are put on the margin. Luther: Von den neuen Eckischen Bullen und Luegen (Sept. 1520); Adv. execrabilem Antichristi bullam (Nov. 1520); Wider die Bullen des Endchrists (Nov. 1520; the same book as the preceding Latin work, but sharper and stronger); Warum des Papsts und seiner Juenger Buecher verbrannt sind (Lat. and Germ., Dec. 1520); all in Walch, XV. fol. 1674-1917; Erl. ed., XXIV. 14-164, and Op. Lat. V. 132-238; 251-271. Luther’s letters to Spalatin and others on the bull of excommunication, in De Wette, I. 518-532.

Ranke: I. 294-301. Merle D’Aubigné, bk. VI. ch. III. sqq. Hagenbach, III. 100-102. Kahnis: I. 306-341. Koestlin: I. 379-382. Kolde: I. 280 sqq. Janssen: II. 108 sqq.

After the Leipzig disputation, Dr. Eck went to Rome, and strained every nerve to secure the condemnation of Luther and his followers. Cardinals Campeggi and Cajetan, Prierias and Aleander, aided him. Cajetan was sick, but had himself carried on his couch into the sessions of the consistory. With considerable difficulty the bull of excommunication was drawn up in May, and after several amendments completed June 15, 1520.

Nearly three years had elapsed since the publication of Luther’s Ninety-five Theses. In the mean time he had attacked with increasing violence the very foundations of the Roman Church, had denounced popery as an antichristian tyranny, and had dared to appeal from the Pope to a general council, contrary to the decisions of Pius II. and Julius II., who declared such an appeal to be heresy. Between the completion and the promulgation of the bull, he went still further in his, “Address to the German Nobility,” and the book on the “Babylonian Captivity,” and made a reconciliation impossible except by an absolute surrender, which was a moral impossibility for him. Rome could not tolerate Lutheranism any longer without ceasing to be Rome. She delayed final action only for political and prudential considerations, especially in view of the election of a new German Emperor, and the influential voice of the Elector Frederick, who was offered, but declined, the imperial crown.

The bull of excommunication is the papal counter-manifesto to Luther’s Theses, and condemns in him the whole cause of the Protestant Reformation. Therein lies its historical significance. It was the last bull addressed to Latin Christendom as an undivided whole, and the first which was disobeyed by a large part of it. Instead of causing Luther and his friends to be burnt, it was burnt by Luther. It is an elaborate document, prepared with great care in the usual heavy, turgid, and tedious style of the curia. It breathes the genuine spirit of the papal hierarchy, and mingles the tones of priestly arrogance, concern for truth, abomination of heresy and schism, fatherly sorrow, and penal severity. The Pope speaks as if he were the personal embodiment of the truth, the infallible judge of all matters of faith, and the dispenser of eternal rewards and punishments.

He begins with the words of Psa_74:22: “Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily. Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually.” He calls St. Peter, St. Paul, and the whole body of the saints, to aid against “the boar out of the wood” and “the wild beast of the field” that had broken into the vineyard of the Lord, to waste and destroy it (Psa_80:13). He expresses deep sorrow at the revival of the Bohemian and other heresies in the noble German nation which had received the empire from the Pope, and shed so much precious blood against heresy. Then he condemns forty-one propositions selected from Luther’s books, as heretical, or at least scandalous and offensive to pious ears, and sentences all his books to the flames. Among the errors named are those relating to the sacramental and hierarchical system, especially the authority of the Pope and the (Roman) Church. The denial of free will (liberum arbitrium) after the fall is also condemned, though clearly taught by St. Augustin. But Luther’s fundamental doctrine of justification by faith is not expressly mentioned. The sentences are torn from the connection, and presented in the most objectionable form as mere negations of Catholic doctrines. The positive views of the Reformer are not stated, or distorted.

For the person of Luther, the Pope professes fatherly love and forbearance, and entreats him once more, by the mercies of God and the blood of Christ, to repent and recant within sixty days after the publication of the bull in the Brandenburg, Meissen, and Merseburg dioceses, and promises to receive him graciously like the prodigal son. But failing to repent, he and his adherents will be cut off, as withered branches, from the vine of Christ, and be punished as obstinate heretics. This means that they shall be burned; for the bull expressly condemns the proposition of Luther which denounces the burning of heretics as “contrary to the will of the Holy Spirit.” All princes, magistrates, and citizens are exhorted, on threat of excommunication and promise of reward, to seize Luther and his followers, and to hand him over to the apostolic chair. Places which harbor him or his followers are threatened with the interdict. Christians are forbidden to read, print, or publish any of his books, and are commanded to burn them.

We may infer from this document in what a state of intellectual slavery Christendom would be at the present time if the papal power had succeeded in crushing the Reformation. It is difficult to estimate the debt we owe to Martin Luther for freedom and progress.

The promulgation and execution of the bull were intrusted to two Italian prelates, Aleander and Caraccioli, and to Dr. Eck. The personal enemy of Luther, who had been especially active in procuring the bull, was now sent back in triumph with the dignity of a papal nuncio, and even with the extraordinary power of including by name several followers of Luther, among whom he singled out Carlstadt and Dolzig of Wittenberg, Adelmann of Augsburg, Egranus of Zwickau, and the humanists Pirkheimer and Spengler of Nürnberg. The selection of Eck, the most unpopular man in Germany, was a great mistake of the Pope, as Roman historians admit, and it helped the cause of the Reformation.

The bull was published and carried out without much difficulty in Mayence, Cologne, and Louvain; and Luther’s books were committed to the flames, with the sanction of the new Emperor. But in Northern Germany, which was the proper seat of the conflict, it met with determined resistance, and was defeated. Eck printed and placarded the bull at Ingolstadt, at Meissen (Sept. 21), at Merseburg (Sept. 25), and at Brandenburg (Sept. 29). But in Leipzig where a year before he had achieved his boasted victory over Luther in public debate, he was insulted by the students (one hundred and fifty had come over from Wittenberg), and took flight in a convent; the bull was bespattered, and torn to pieces. He fared still worse in Erfurt, where he had been ridiculed and held up to scorn as a second Hochstraten in the satire Eccius dedolatus (printed at Erfurt in March, 1520): the theological faculty refused to publish the bull; and the students threw the printed copies into the water, saying, “It is only a water-bubble (bulla), let it float on the water.”

Eck sent the bull to the rector of the University of Wittenberg, Oct. 3, 1520, with the request to prohibit the teaching of any of the condemned propositions of Luther, and threatening that, in case of disobedience, the Pope would recall all the liberties and privileges of the university. The professors and counselors of the Elector declined the promulgation for various reasons.

The Elector Frederick was on the way to Aachen to assist at the coronation of Charles V., but was detained at Cologne by the gout. There he received the bull from Aleander after the mass, Nov. 4, and was urged with eloquent words to execute it, and to punish Luther or to send him to Rome; but he cautiously deferred an answer, and sought the advice of Erasmus in the presence of Spalatin. The famous scholar gave it as his judgment, that Luther’s crime consisted in having touched the triple crown of the Pope and the stomachs of the monks; he also wrote to Spalatin, after the interview, that the Pope’s bull offended all upright men by its ferocity and was unworthy of a meek vicar of Christ. The Elector was thus confirmed in his favorable view of Luther. He sent Spalatin to Wittenberg, where some students had left in consequence of the bull; but Spalatin was encouraged, and found that Melanchthon had about six hundred, Luther four hundred hearers, and that the church was crowded whenever Luther preached. A few weeks afterward the Pope’s bull was burnt.


Notes. — The Bull of Excommunication

Illustration, Papal Bull Title Page.

Illustration, Papal Bull First Page.

As I do not find the bull in any of the Protestant or Roman-Catholic church histories which I have consulted (except the Annals of Raynaldus), I give it here in full as transcribed from an original copy in possession of the Astor Library, New York (probably the only one on the American Continent), together with facsimiles of titlepage and first page (see preceeding pages in text). The pamphlet contains twenty pages, small quarto, and is printed continuously, like ancient MSS. I have divided it into sections, with headings, and noted the departures of Cocquelines and Raynaldus from the original.


Bulla Contra Errores Martini Lutheri Et Sequacium.

Leo Episcopus Servus Servorum Dei.

Ad perpetuam rel memoriam.


[Prooemium. The Pope invokes God, St. Peter and St. Paul, and all the saints, against the new enemies of the Church.]

Exurge, Domine, et judica causam tuam, memor esto improperiorum tuorum, eorum, quae ab insipientibus fiunt totâ die; inclina aurem tuam ad preces nostras, quoniam surrexerunt vulpes quaerentes demoliri vineam, cujus tu torcular calcasti solus, et ascensurus ad Patrem ejus curam, regimen et administrationem Petro tanquam capiti et tuo vicario, ejusque successoribus instar triumphantis Ecclesiae commisisti: exterminate nititur eam aper de silva, et singularis ferus depasci [tur] eam. Exurge, Petre, et pro pastorali cura praefata tibi (ut praefertur) divinitus demandata, intende in causam sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae, Matris omnium ecclesiarum, se fidei magistrae, quam tu, jubente Deo, tuo sanguine consecrasti, contra quam, sicut tu praemonere dignatus es, insurgunt magistri mendaces introducentes sectas perditionis, sibi celerem interitum superducentes, quorum lingua ignis est, inquietum malum, plena veneno mortifero, qui zelum amarum habentes et contentiones in cordibus suis, gloriantur, et mendaces sunt adversus veritatem. Exurge tu quoque, quaesumus, Paule, qui eam tuâ doctrinâ et pari martyrio illuminasti atque illustrasti. Jam enim surgit novus Porphyrius; quia sicut ille olim sanctos Apostolos injuste momordit, ita hic sanctos Pontifices praedecessores nostros contra tuam doctrinam eos non obsecrando, sed increpando, mordere, lacerare, ac ubi causae suae diffidit, ad convicia accedere non veretur, more haereticorum, quorum (ut inquit Hieronymus) ultimum presidium est, ut cum conspiciant causas suas damnatum iri, incipiant virus serpentis linguâ diffundere; et cum se victos conspiciant, ad contuinelias prosilire. Nam licet haereses esse ad exercitationem fidelium in dixeris oportere, eas tamen, ne incrementum accipiant, neve vulpeculae coalescant, in ipso ortu, te intercedente et adjuvante, extingui necesse est.

Exurgat denique, omnis Sanctorum, ac reliqua universalis Ecclesia, cujus vera sacrarum literarum interpretatione posthabitâ, quidam, quorum mentem pater mendacii excaecavit, ex veteri haereticorum instituto, apud semetipsos sapientes, scripturas easdem aliter quam Spiritus sanctus flagitet, proprio dumtaxat sensu ambitionis, auraeque popularis causâ, teste Apostolo, interpretantur, immo vero torquent et adulterant, ita ut juxta Hieronymum jam non sit evangelium Christi, sed hominis, aut quod pejus est, diaboli. Exurgat, inquam, praefata Ecclesia sancta Dei, et una cum beatissimis Apostolis praefatis apud Deum omnipotentem intercedat, ut purgatis ovium suarum erroribus, eliminatisque a fidelium finibus haeresibus universis Ecclesiae suae sanctae pacem et unitatem conservare dignetur.


[The errors of the Greeks and Bohemians revived by Luther and his followers.]

Dudum siquidem quod prae animi angustia et moerore exprimere vix possumus, fide dignorum relatu ac famâ publicâ referente ad nostrum pervenit auditum, immo vero, proh dolor! oculis nostris vidimus ac legimus, multos et varios errores quosdam videlicet jam per Concilia ac Praedecessorum nostrorum constitutiones damnatos, haeresim etiam Graecorum et Bohemicam expresse continentes: alios vero respective, vel haereticos, vel falsos, vel scandalosos, vel piarum aurium offensivos, vel simplicium mentium seductivos, a falsis fidei cultoribus, qui per superbam curiositatem mundi gloriam cupientes, contra Apostoli doctrinam plus sapere volunt, quam oporteat; quorum garrulitas (ut inquit Hieronymus) sine scripturarum auctoritate non haberet fidem, nisi viderentur perversam doctrinam etiam divinis testimoniis, male tamen interpretatis, roborare: a quorum oculis Dei timor recessit, humani generis hoste suggerente, noviter suscitatos, et nuper apud quosdam leviores in inclyta natione Germanica seminatos.


[The Germans, who received the empire from the Pope, were formerly most zealous against heresy, but now give birth to the most dangerous errors.]

Quod eo magis dolemus ibi evenisse, quod eandem nationem et nos et Praedecessores nostri in visceribus semper gesserimus caritatis. Nam post translatum ex Grecis a Romana Ecclesia in eosdem Germanos imperium, iidem Praedecessores nostri et nos ejusdem Ecclesiae advocates defensoresque ex eis semper accepimus; quos quidem Germanos, Catholicae veritatis vere germanos, constat haeresum [haeresium] acerrimos oppugnatores semper fuisse: cujus rei testes sunt laudabiles illae constitutiones Germanorum Imperatorum pro libertate Ecclesiae, proque expellendis exterminandisque ex omni Germania haereticis, sub gravissimis poenis, etiam amissionis terrarum et dominiorum, contra receptatores vel non expellentes olim editae, et à nostris Praedecessoribus confirmatae, quae si hodie servarentur, et nos et ipsi utique hae molestiâ careremus. Testis est in Concilio Constantiensi Hussitarum ac Wiccleffistarum, necnon Hieronymi Pragensis damnata ac punita perfidia. Testis est totiens contra Bohemos Germanorum sanguis effusus. Testis denique est praedictorum errorum, seu multorum ex eis per Coloniensem et Lovaniensem Universitates, utpote agri dominici piissimas religiosissimasque cultrices, non minus docta quam vera ac sancta confutatio, reprobatio, et damnatio. Multa quoque alia allegare possemus, quae, ne historiam texere videamur, praetermittenda censuimus.

Pro pastorals igitur officii, divinâ gratiâ, nobis injuncti cura, quam gerimus, praedictorum errorum virus pestiferum ulterius tolerare seu dissimulare sine Christianae, religionis nota, atque orthodoxae fidei injuria nullo modo possumus. Eorum autem errorum aliquos praesentibus duximus inferendos, quorum tenor sequitur, et est talis: — 


[Forty-one heretical sentences selected from Luther’s writings.]

I. Haeretica sententia est, sed usitata, Sacramenta novae legis justificantem gratiam illis dare, qui non ponunt obicem.

II. In puero post baptismum negare remanens peccatum, est Paulum et Christum simul conculcare.

III. Fomes peccati, etiam si nullum adsit actuale peccatum, moratur exeuntem a corpore animam ab ingressu coeli.

IV. Imperfecta caritas morituri fert secum necessario magnum timorem, qui se solo satis est facere poenam purgatorii, et impedit introitum regni.

V. Tres esse partes poenitentiae, contritionem, confessionem, et satisfactionem, non est fundatum in sacra scriptura, nec in antiquis sanctis Christianis doctoribus.

VI. Contritio, quae paratus per discussionem, collectionem, et deteststionem peccatorum, qua quis recogitat annos suos in amaritudine animae suae, ponderando peccatorum gravitatem, multitudinem, foeditatem, amissionem aeternae beatitudinis, ac aeternae damnationis acquisitionem, haec contritio facit hypocritam, immo magis peccatorem.

VII. Verissimum est proverbium, et omnium doctrina de contritionibus hucusque data praestantius, de cetero non facere, summa poenitentia, optima poenitentia, nova vita.

VIII. Nullo modo praesumas confiteri peccata venialia, sed nec omnia mortalia, quia impossibile est, ut omnia mortalia cognoscas: unde in primitiva Ecclesia solum manifesta mortalia confitebantur.

IX. Dum volumus omnia pure confiteri, nihil aliud facimus, quam quod misericordiae Dei nihil volumus relinquere ignoscendum.

X. Peccata non sunt illi remissa, nisi remittente sacerdote credat sibi remitti; immo peccatum maneret nisi remissum crederet; non enim sufficit remissio peccati et gratiae donatio, sed oportet etiam credere esse remissum.

XI. Nullo modo confidas absolvi propter tuam contritionem, sed propter verbum Christi: “Quodcumque solveris.” etc. Sic, inquam, confide, si sacerdotis obtinueris absolutionem, et crede fortiter te absolutum; et absolutus vere eris, quidquid sit de contritione.

XII. Si per impossibile confessus non esset contritus, aut sacerdos non serio, sed joco absolveret, si tamen credat se absolutum, verissime est absolutus.

XIII. In sacramento poenitentiae se remissione culpae non plus facit Papa aut episcopus, quam infimus sacerdos; immo ubi non est sacerdos, aeque tantum quilibet Christianus, etiam si mulier, aut puer esset.

XIV. Nullus debet sacerdote respondere, se esse contritum, nec sacerdos requirere.

XV. Magnus est error eorum, qui ad sacramenta Eucharistiae accedunt huic innixi, quod sint confessi, quod non sint sibi conscii alicujus peccati mortalis; quod praemiserint orationes suas et praeparatoria; omnes illi ad judicium sibi manducant et bibunt; sed si credant et confidant se gratiam ibi consecuturos, haec sola fides facit eos puros et dignos.

XVI. Consultum videtur, quod Ecclesia in communi concilio statueret, laicos sub utraque specie communicandos; nec Bohemi communicantes sub utraque specie sunt haeretici, sed schismatici.

XVII. Thesauri Ecclesiae, unde Papa dat indulgentias, non sunt merita Christi et sanctorum.

XVIII. Indulgentiae sunt piae fraudes fidelium, et remissiones bonorum onerum, et sunt de numero eorum, quae licent, et non de numero eorum, quae expediunt.

XIX. Indulgentiae his, qui veraciter eas consequuntur, non valent ad remissionem poenae pro peccatis actualibus debitae ad divinam justitiam.

XX. Seducuntur credentes indulgentias esse salutares, et ad fructum spiritûs utiles.

XXI. Indulgentiae necessariae sunt solum publicis criminibus, et proprie conceduntur duris solummodo et impatientibus.

XXII. Sex generibus hominum indulgentiae nec sunt necessariae, nec utiles; videlicet mortuis seu morituris, infirmis, legitime impeditis, his qui non commiserunt crimina, his qui crimina commiserunt, sed non publica, his qui meliora operantur.

XXIII. Excommunicationes sunt tantum externae poenae, nec privant hominem communibus spiritualibus Ecclesiae orationibus.

XXIV. Docendi sunt Christiani plus diligere excommunicationem quam timere.

XXV. Romanus Pontifex, Petri successor, non est Christi vicarius super omnes mundi ecclesias ab ipso Christo in beato Petro institutus.

XXVI. Verbum Christi ad Petrum: “Quodcumque solveris super terram,” etc., extenditur duntaxat ad ligata ab ipso Petro.

XXVII. Certum est in manu Ecclesiae aut Papae prorsus non esse statuere articulos fidei, immo nec leges morum, seu bonorum operum.

XXVIII. Si Papa cum magna parte Ecclesiae sic vel sic sentiret, nec etiam erraret, adhuc non est peccatum aut haeresis contrarium sentire, praesertim in re non necessaria ad salutem, donec fuerit per Concilium universale alterum reprobatum, alterum approbatum.

XXIX. Via nobis facta est enarrandi auctoritatem Conciliorum, et libere contradicendi eorum gestis, et judicandi eorum decreta, et confidenter confitendi quidquid verum videtur, sive probatum fuerit, sive reprobatum a quocunque concilio.

XXX. Aliqui articuli Joannis Husz condemnati in concilio Constantiensi sunt Christianissimi, verissimi et evangelici, quos non universalis Ecclesia posset damnare.

XXXI. In omni opere bono Justus peccat.

XXXII. Opus bonum optime factum veniale est peccatum.

XXXIII. Haereticos comburi est contra voluntatem Spiritûs.

XXXIV. Praeliari adversus Turcas est repugnare Deo visitanti iniquitates nostras per illos.

XXXV. Nemo est certus se non semper peccare mortaliter propter occultissimum superbaa vitium.

XXXVI. Liberum arbitrium post peccatum est res de solo titulo, et dum facit quod in se est, peccat mortaliter.

XXXVII. Purgatorium non potest probari ex sacra scriptura, quae sit in canone.

XXXVIII. Animae in purgatorio non sunt securae de earum salute, saltem omnes; nec probatum est ullis aut rationibus aut scripturis, ipsas esse extra statum merendi, aut agendae caritatis.

XXXIX. Animae in purgatorio peccant sine intermissione, quamdiu quaerunt requiem, et horrent poenas.

XL. Animae ex purgatorio liberatae suffragiis viventium minus beantur, quam si per se satisfecissent.

XLI. Praelati ecclesiastica et principes seculares non malefacerent si omnes saccos mendicitatis delerent.


[These propositions are condemned as heretical, scandalous, offensive, and contrary to Catholic truth.]

Qui quidem errores respective quam sint pestiferi, quam perniciosi, quam scandalosi, quam piarum et simplicium mentium seductivi, quam denique sint contra omnem charitatem, ac sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae matris omnium fidelium et magistrae fidei reverentiam atque nervum ecclesiasticae disciplines, obedientiam scilicet, quae fons est et origo omnium virtutum, sine qua facile unusquisque infidelis esse convincitur, nemo sanae mentis ignorat. Nos Igitur in praemissis, utpote gravissimis, propensius (ut decet) procedere, necnon hujusmodi pesti morboque canceroso, ne in agro Dominico tanquam vepris nociva ulterius serpat, viam praecludere cupientes, habita super praedictis erroribus, et eorum singulis diligenti trutinatione, discussione, ac districto examine, maturaque deliberatione, omnibusque rite pensatis ac saeepius ventilatis cum venerabilibus fratribus nostris sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalibus, ac regularium ordinum Prioribus, seu ministris generalibus, plurisbusque aliis sacrae theologiae, necnon utriusque juris professoribus sive magistris, et quidem peritissimis, reperimus eosdem errores respective (ut praefertur) aut articulos non esse catholicos, nec tanquam tales esse dogmatizandos, sed contra Ecclesivae Catholicae doctrinam sive traditionem, atque ab ea veram divinarum scripturarum receptam interpretationem, cujus auctoritati ita acquiescendum censuit Augustinus, ut dixerit, se Evangelio non fuisse crediturum, nisi Ecclesiae Catholicae intervenisset auctoritas. Nam ex eisdem erroribus, vel eorum aliquo, vel aliquibus, palam sequitur, eandem Ecclesiam, quae Spiritu sancto regitur, errare, et semper errasse. Quod est utique contra illud, quod Christus discipulis suis in ascensione sua (ut in sancto Evangelio Matthaei legitur) promisit dicens: “Ego vobiscum sum usque ad consummationem seculi;” necnon contra Sanctorum Patrum determinationes, Conciliorum quoque et summorum Pontificum expressas ordinationes seu canones, quibus non obtemperasse omnium haeresum et schismatum, teste Cypriano, fomes et causa semper fuit.

De eorundem itaque venerabilium fratrum nostrorum consilio et assensu, se omnium et singulorum praedictorum maturâ deliberatione praedicta, auctoritate omnipotentis Dei, et beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et nostra, praefatos omnes et singulos articulos seu errores, tanquam (ut praemittitur) respective haereticos, aut scandalosos, aut falsos, aut piarum aurium offensivos, vel simplicium mentium seductivos, et veritate Catholicae obviantes, damnamus, reprobamus, ac omnino rejicimus, ac pro damnatis, reprobatis, et rejectis ab omnibus utriusque sexûs Christi fidelibus haberi debere, harum serie decernimus et declaramus.


[Prohibition of the defence and publication of these errors.]

Inhibentes in virtute sanctae obedientiae ac sub majoris excommunicationis latae sententiae, necnon quoad Ecclesiasticas et Regulares personas, Episcopalium omnium, etiam Patriarchalium, Metropolitanarum et aliarum Cathedralium Ecclesiarum, Monasteriorum quoque et Prioratuum etiam Conventualium et quarumcunque dignitatum aut Beneficiorum Ecclesiasticorum, Saecularium aut quorum vis Ordinum Regularium, privationis et inhabilitatis ad illa, et alia in posterum obtinenda. Quo vero ad Conventus, Capitula seu domos, aut pia loca saecularium, vel regularium, etiam Mendicantium, necnon Universitatis etiam studiorum generalium quorumcunque privilegiorum indultorum a Sede Apostolica, vel ejus Legatis, aut alias quomodolibet habitorum, vel obtentorum, cujuscumque tenoris existant: necnon nominis et potestatis studium generale tenendi, legendi, ac interpretandi quasvis scientias et facultates et inhabilitatis ad illa et alia in posterum obtinenda: Praedicationis quoque officii ac amissionis studii generalis et omnium privilegiorum ejusdem. Quo vero ad saeculares ejusdem excommunicationis, necnon amissionis cujuscumque emphyteosis, seu quorumcunque feudorum, tam a Romana Ecclesia, quam alias quomodolibet obtentorum, ac etiam inhabilitatis ad illa et alia in posterum obtinenda. Necnon quo ad omnes et singulos superius nominatos, inhibitionis Ecclesiasticae sepulturae inhabilitatisque ad omnes et singulos actus legitimos, infamiae ac diffidationis et criminis laesae majestatis, et haereticorum et fautorum eorundem in jure expressis poenis, eo ipso et absque ulteriori declaratione per omnes et singulos supradictos, si (quod absit) contrafecerint, incurrendis. A quibus vigore cujuscumque facultatis et clausularum etiam in confessionalibus quibusvis personis, sub quibusvis verborum formis contentarum, nisi a Romano Pontifice vel alio ab eo ad id in specie facultatem habente, praeterquam in mortis articulo constitute, absolvi nequeant. Omnibus et singulis utriusque sexus Christifidelibus, tam Laicis quam Clericis, Saecularibus et quorumvis Ordinum Regularibus, et aliis quibuscumque personis cujuscumque status, gradus, vel conditionis existant, et quarumque ecclesiastica vel mundana praefulgeant dignitate, etiam S. R. E. Cardinalibas, Patriarchis, Primatibus, Archiepiscopis, Episcopis, Patriarchalium, Metropolitanarum et aliaram Cathedralium, Collegiatarum ac inferiorum ecclesiarum Praelatis, Clericis aliisque personis Eccleslasticis, Saecularibus et quorumvis Ordinum etiam Mendicantium regularibus, Abbatibus, Prioribus vel Ministris generalibus vel particularibus, Fratribus, seu Religiosis, exemptis et non exemptis: Studiorum quoque Universitatibus Saecularibus et quorumvis Ordinum etiam Mendicantium regularibus, necnon Regibus, Imperatori, Electoribus, Principibus, Ducibus, Marchionibus, Comitibus, Baronibus, Capitaneis, Conductoribus, Domicellis, omnibusque Officialibus, Judicibus, Notariis Ecelesiasticis et Saecularibus, Communitatibus, Universitatibus, Potentatibus, Civitatibus, Castris, Terris et locis, seu eorum vel earum civibus, habitatoribus et incolis, ac quibusvis aliis personis Ecclesiasticis, vel Regularibus (ut praefertur) per universum orbem, ubicumque, praesertim in Alemania existentibus, vel pro tempore futures, ne praefatos errores, aut eorum aliquos, perversamque doctrinam hujusmodi asserere, affirmare, defendere, praedicare, aut iIli quomodolibet, publice vel occulte, quovis quaesito ingenio vel colore, tacite vel expresse favere praesumant.


[The writings of Luther are forbidden, and ordered to be burnt.]

Insuper quia errores praefati, et plures alii continentur in libellis seu scriptis Martini Luther, dictos libellos, et omnia dicti Martini scripta, seu praedicationes in Latino, vel quocumque alio idiomate reperiantur, in quibus dicti errores, seu eorum aliquis continentur, similiter damnamus, reprobamus, atque omnino rejicimus, et pro damnatis, reprobatis, ac rejectis (ut praefertur) haberi volumus, mandantes in virtute sanctae obedientiae et sub poenis praedictis eo ipso incurrendis, omnibus et singulis utriusque sexûs Christifidelibus superius nominatis, ne hujusmodi scripta, libellos, praedicationes, seu schedulas, vel in eis contenta capitula, errores, aut articulos supradictos continentia legere, asserere, praedicare, laudare, imprimere, publicare, sive defendere per se vel alium, seu alios directe vel indirecte, tacite vel expresse, publice vel occulte, aut in domibus suis sive aliis publicis vel privatis locis tenere quoquo modo praesumant; quinimmo illa statim post harum publicationem ubicumque fuerint, per ordinaries et alios supradictos diligenter quaesita, publice et solemniter in praesentia cleri et populi sub omnibus et singulis supradictis poenis comburant.


[Martin Luther was often warned with paternal charity to desist from these errors, and cited to Rome with the promise of safe-conduct.]

Quod vero ad ipsum Martinum attinet, (bone Deus) quid praetermisimus, quid non fecimus, quid paternae charitatis omisimus, ut eum ab hujusmodi erroribus revocaremus? Postquam enim ipsum citavimus, mitius cum eo procedere volentes, illum invitavimus, atque tam per diversos tractatus cum legato nostro habitos, quam per literas nostras hortati fuimus, ut a paedictis erroribus discederet, aut oblato etiam salvo conductu et pecuniâ ad iter necessariâ, sine metu seu timore aliquo quem perfecta charitas foras mittere debuit, veniret, ac Salvatoris nostri Apostolique Pauli exemplo, non occulto, sed palam et in facie loqueretur. Quod si fecisset, pro certe (ut arbitramur) ad cor reversus errores suos cognovisset, nec in Romana curia, quam tantopere vanis malevolorum rumoribus plusquam oportuit tribuendo vituperat, tot reperisset errata; docuissemusque cum luce clarius, sanctos Romanos Pontifices, quos praeter omnem modestiam injuriose lacerat, in suis canonibus, seu constitutionibus, quas mordere nititur, nunquam errasse; quia juxta prophetam, nec in Galahad resina, nec medicus deest. Sed obaudivit semper, et praedicta citatione omnibus et singulis supradictis spretis venire contempsit, ac usque in praesentem diem contumax, atque animo indurate censuras ultra annum sustinuit: et quod deterius est, addens mala malis, de citatione hujusmodi notitiam habens, in vocem temerariae appellationis prorupit ad futurum concilium contra constitutionem Pii Secundi ac Julii Secundi, praedecessorum nostrorum, qua cavetur, taliter appellantes haereticorum poenâ plectendos (frustra etiam Consilii auxilium imploravit, qui illi se non credere palam profitetur); ita ut contra ipsum tanquam de fide notorie suspectum, immo vere haereticum absque ulterori citatione vel mora ad condemnationem et damnationem ejus tanquam haeretici, ac ad omnium et singularum suprascriptarum poenarum et censurarum severitatem procedere possemus.


[Luther is again exhorted to repent, and promised the reception of the prodigal son.]

Nihilominus de eorundem fratrum nostroruin consilio, omnipotentis Dei imitantes clementiam, qui non vult mortem peccatoris, sed magis ut convertatur et vivat, omnium injuriarum hactenus nobis et Apostolicqae sedi illatarum obliti, omni qua possumus pietate uti decrevimus, et quantum in nobis est, agere, ut propositâ mansuetudinis viâ ad cor revertatur, et a praedictis recedat erroribus, ut ipsum tanquam filium illum prodigum ad gremium Ecclesiae revertentem benigne recipiamus. Ipsum igitur Martinum et quoscumque ei adhaerentes, ejusque receptatores et fautores per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri, et per aspersionem sanguinis Domini nostri Jesu Christi, quo et per quem humani generis redemptio, et sanctae matris Ecclesiae aedificatio facta est, ex tote corde hortamur et obsecramus, ut ipsius Ecclesiae pacem, unitatem et veritatem, pro qua ipse Salvator tam instanter oravit ad Patrem, turbare desistant, et a praedictis, tam perniciosis erroribus prorsus abstineant, inventuri apud nos si effectualiter paruerint, et paruisse per legitima documenta nos certificaverint, paternae charitatis affectum, et apertum mansuetudinis et clementiae fontem.


[Luther is suspended from the functions of the ministry, and given sixty days, after the publication of the bull, to recant.]

Inhibentes nihilominus eidem Martino ex nunc, ut interim ab omni praedicatione seu praedicationis officio omnino desistat. Alioquin in ipsum Martinum si forte justitiae et virtutis amor a peccato non retrahat, indulgentiaeque spes ad poenitentiam non reducat, poenarum terror coërceat disciplinae: eundem Martinum ejusque adhaerentes complices, fautores, et receptatores tenore praesentium requirimus, et monemus in virtute sanctae obedientiae, sub praedictis omnibus et singulis poenis eo ipso incurrendis districte praecipiendo mandamus, quatenus infra sexaginta dies, quorum viginti pro primo, viginti pro secundo, et reliquos viginti dies pro tertio et peremptorio termino assignamus ab affixione praesentium in locis infrascriptis immediate sequentes numerandos, ipse Martinus, complices, fautores, adhaerentes, et receptatores praedicti a praefatis erroribus, eorumque praedicatione, ac publications, et assertione, defensione quoque et librorum seu scripturarum editione super eisdem, sive eorum aliquo omnino desistant, librosque ac scripturas omnes et singulas praefatos errores seu eorum aliquos quomodolibet continentes comburant, vel comburi faciant. Ipse etiam Martinus errores et assertiones hujusmodi omnino revocet, ac de revocatione hujusmodi per publica documenta in forma juris valida in manibus duorum Praelatorum consignata ad nos infra alios similes sexaginta dies transmittenda, vel per ipsummet (si ad nos venire voluerit, quod magis placeret) cum praefato plenissimo salvo conductu, quem ex nunc concedimus deferenda, nos certiores efficiat, ut de ejus vera obedientia nullus dubitationis scrupulus valeat remanere.


[In case Luther and his followers refuse to recant within sixty days, they will be excommunicated, and dealt with according to the law.]

Alias si (quod absit) Martinus praefatus, complices, fautores, adhaerentes et receptatores praedicti secus egerint, seu proemissa omnia et singula infra terminum praedictum cum effectu non adimpleverint, Apostoli imitantes doctrinam, qui haereticum hominem post primam et secundam correctionem vitandum docuit, ex nunc prout ex tunc, et e converso eundem Martinum, complices, adhaerentes, fautores et receptatores praefatos et eorum quemlibet tanquam aridos palmites in Christo non manentes, sed doctrinam contrariam, Catholicae fidei inimicam, sive scandalosam seu damnatam, in non modicam offensam divinae majestatis, ac universalis Ecclesiae, et fidei Catholicae detrimentum et scandalum dogmatizantes, claves quoque Ecclesiae vilipendentes, notorios et pertinaces haereticos eâdem auctoritate fuisse et esse declarantes, eosdem ut tales harum serie condemnamus, et eos pro talibus haberi ab omnibus utriusque sexus Christi fidelibus supradictis volumus et mandamus. Eosque omnes et singulos omnibus supradictis et aliis contra tales a jure inflictis poenis praesentium tenore subjicimus, et eisdem irretitos fuisse et esse decernimus et declaramus.


[All Catholics are admonished not to read, print, or publish any book of Luther and his followers, but to burn them.]

Inhibemus praeterea sub omnibus et singulis praemissis poenis eo ipso incurrendis, omnibus et singulis Christi fidelibus superius nominatis, ne scripta, etiam praefatos errores non continentia, ab eodem Martino quomodolibet condita vel edita, aut condenda vel edenda, seu eorum aliqua tanquam ab homine orthodoxae fidei inimico, atque ideo vehementer suspecta, et ut ejus memoria omnino deleatur de Christifidelium consortio, legere, asserere, praedicare, laudare, imprimere, publicare, sive defendere, per se vel alium seu alios, directe vel indirecte, tacite vel expresse, publice vel occulte, seu in domibus suis, sive aliis locis publicis vel privatis tenere quoquomodo praesumant, quinimmo illa comburant, ut praefertur.


[Christians are forbidden, after the excommunication, to hold any intercourse with Luther and his followers, or to give them shelter, on pain of the interdict; and magistrates are commanded to arrest and send them to Rome.]

Monemus insuper omnes et singulos Christifideles supradictos, sub eadem excommunicationis latae sententiae poena, ut haereticos praedictos declaratos et condemnatos, mandatis nostris non obtemperantes, post lapsum termini supradicti evitent et quantum in eis est, evitari faciant, nec cum eisdem, vel eorum aliquo commercium aut aliquam conversationem seu communionem habeant, nec eis necessaria ministrent.

Ad majorem praeterea dicti Martini suorumque complicum, fautorum et adhaerentium ac receptatorum praedictorum, sic post lapsum termini praedicti declaratorum haereticorum et condemnatorum confusionem universis et singulis utriusque sexus Christifidelibus Patriarchis, Archiepiscopis, Episcopis, Patriarchalium, Metropolitanarum, et aliarum cathedralium, collegiatarum ac inferiorum ecclesiarum Praelatis, Capitulis, aliisque personis ecclesiastica, saecularibus et quoramvis Ordinum etiam Mendicantium (praesertim ejus congregationis cujus dictus Martinus est professus, et in qua degere vel morari dicitur) regularibus exemptis et non exemptis, necnon universis et singulis principibus, quacumque ecclesiastica vel mundana fulgentibus dignitate Regibus, Imperatoris Electoribus, Ducibus, Marchionibus, Comitibus, Baronibus, Capitaneis, Conductoribus, Domicellis, Communitatibus, Universitatibus, Potentatibus, Civitatibus, Terris, Castris et locis, seu eorum habitatoribus, civibus et incolis omnibusque aliis et singulis supradictis per universum Orbem, praesertim in eadem Alemania constitutis mandamus, quatenus sub praedictis omnibus et singulis poenis, ipsi vel eorum quilibet, praefatum Martinum, complices, adhaerentes, receptantes et fautores personaliter capiant et captos ad nostram instantiam retineant et ad nos mittant: reportaturi pro tam bono opere a nobis et Sede Apostolica remunerationem, praemiumque condignum vel saltem eos et eorum quemlibet, de Metropolitanis, Cathedralibus, Collegiatis, et aliis ecclesiis, domibus, Monasteriis, Conventibus, Civitatibus, Dominiis, Universitatibus, Communitatibus, Castris, Terris, ac locis respective, tam clerici et regulares quam laici omnes et singuli supradicti omnino expellant.


[The places which harbor Luther and his followers are threatened with the Interdict.]

Civitates vero, Dominia, Terras, Castra, Villas, comitatus, fortilicia, Oppida et loca quaecumque ubilibet consistentia earum et eorum respective Metropolitanas, Cathedrales, Collegiatas et alias ecclesias, Monasteria, Prioratus, Domus, Conventus et loca religiosa vel pia cujuscunque ordinis (tit praefertur) ad quae praefatum Martinum vel aliquem ex praedictis declinare contigerit, quamdiu ibi permanserint et triduo post recessum, ecclesiastico subjicimus interdicto.


[Provision for the promulgation and execution of the bull.]

Et ut praemissa omnibus innotescant, mandamus insuper universis Patriarchis, Archiepiscopis, Episcopis, Patriarchalium, Metropolitanarum et aliarum cathedralium ac collegiatarum ecclesiarum Praelatis, Capitulis aliisque personis ecclesiasticis, saecularibus et quorumvis Ordinum supradictorum regularibus, fratribus religiosis, monachis exemptis et non exemptis supradictis, ubilibet, praesertim in Alemania constitutis quatenus ipsi vel eorum quilibet sub similibus censuris et poenis co ipso incurrendis, Martinum omnesque et singulos supradictos qui elapso teremo hujusmodi mandatis seu monitis nostris non paruerint, in eorum ecclesiis, dominicis et aliis festivis diebus, dum inibi major populi multitudo ad divina convenerit, declaratos haereticos et condemnatos publice nuncient faciantque et mandent ab aliis nunciari et ab omnibus evitari. Necnon omnibus Christifidelibus ut eos evitent, pari modo sub praedictis censuris et poenis. Et praesentes literas vel earum transumptum sub forma infrascripta factum in eorum ecclesiis, monasteriis, domibus, conventibus et aliis locis legi, publicare atque affigi faciant. Excommunicamus quoque et anathematizamus omnes et singulos cujuscumque status, gradiis, conditionis, praeeminentiae, dignitatis aut excellentiae fuerint qui quo minus praesentes literae vel earum transumpta, copiae seu exemplaria in suis terris et dominiis legi, affigi et publicare possint, fecerint vel quoquomodo procuraverint per se vel alium seu alios, publice vel occulte, directe vel indirecte, tacite vel expresse.

Postremo quia difficile foret praesentes literas ad singula quaeque loca deferri in quibus necessarium foret, volumus et apostolica authoritate decernimus, quod earum transumptis manu publici notarii confectis et subscriptis, vel in alma Urbe impressis et sigillo alicujus ecclesiastici Praelati munitis ubique stetur et plena fides adhibeatur, prout originalibus literis staretur, si forent exhibitae vel ostensae.

Et ne praefatus Martinus omnesque alii supradicti, quos praesentes literae quomodolibet concernunt, ignorantiam earundem literarum et in eis contentorum omnium et singulorum praetendere valeant, literas ipsas in Basilicas Principis Apostolorum et Cancellariae Apostolicae, necnon Cathedralium ecclesiarum Brandeburgen., Misnen. et Morspergen. [Merseburg] valvis affigi et publicari debere volumus, decernentes, quod earundem literarum publicatio sic facta, supradictum Martinum omnesque alios et singulos praenominatos, quos literae hujusmodi quomodolibet concernunt, perinde arctent, ac si literae ipsae die affixionis et publicationis hujusmodi eis personaliter lectae et intimatae forent, cum non sit verisimile, quod ea quae tam patenter fiunt debeant apud eos incognita remanere.

Non obstantibus constitutionibus et ordinationibus apostolicis, seu si supradictis omnibus et singulis vel eorum alicui aut quibusvis aliis a Sede Apostolica praedicta, vel ab ea potestatem habentibus sub quavis forma, etiam confessionali et cum quibusvis etiam fortissimis clausulis, aut ex quavis causa, seu grandi consideratione, indultum vel concessum existat, quod interdici, suspendi, vel excommunicari non possint per literas Apostolicas, non facientes plenam et expressam ac de verbo ad verbum, non autem per clausulas generates id importantes, de indulto hujusmodi mentionem, ejusdem indulti tenores, causas et formas perinde ac si de verbo ad verbum insererentur, ita ut omnino tollatur, praesentibus pro expressis habentes.

Nulli ergo omnino hominum liceat hanc paginam nostrae damnationis, reprobationis, rejectionis, decreti, declarationis, inhibitionis, voluntatis, mandati, hortationis, obsecrationis, requisitionis, monitionis, assignationis, concessionis, condemnationis, subjectionis, excommunicationis, et anathematizationis infringere, vel ei ausu temerario contraire. Si quis autem hoc attentare praesumpserit, indignationem Omnipotentis Dei ac Beatorum Petri et Pauli Apostolorum ejus se noverit incursurum.

Dat. Romae apud S. Petrum anno incarnationis Dominicae Milesimo Quingentesimo Vigesimo. XVII. Kls. Julii. Pontificatus Nostri Anno Octavo.

Visa. R. Milanesius.


Impressum Romae per Iacobum Mazochium

De Mandato S. D. N. Papae.


48. Luther Burns the Pope’s Bull, and Forever Breaks with Rome. Dec. 10, 1520

Literature in § 47.

Luther was prepared for the bull of excommunication. He could see in it nothing but blasphemous presumption and pious hypocrisy. At first he pretended to treat it as a forgery of Eck. Then he wrote a Latin and German tract, “Against the bull of Antichrist,” called it a “cursed, impudent, devilish bull,” took up the several charges of heresy, and turned the tables against the Pope, who was the heretic according to the standard of the sacred Scriptures. Hutten ridiculed the bull from the literary and patriotic standpoint with sarcastic notes and queries. Luther attacked its contents with red-hot anger and indignation bordering on frenzy. He thought the last day, the day of Antichrist, had come. He went so far as to say that nobody could be saved who adhered to the bull.

In deference to his friends, he renewed the useless appeal from the Pope to a free general council (Nov. 17, 1520), which he had made two years before (Nov. 28, 1518); and in his appeal he denounced the Pope as a hardened heretic, an antichristian suppresser of the Scriptures, a blasphemer and despiser of the holy Church and of a rightful council.

At the same time he resolved upon a symbolic act which cut off the possibility of a retreat. The Pope had ordered his books, good and bad, without any distinction, to be burned; and they were actually burned in several places, at Cologne even in the presence of the Emperor. They were to be burned also at Leipzig. Luther wanted to show that he too could burn books, which was an old custom (Act_19:19) and easy business. He returned fire for fire, curse for curse. He made no distinction between truth and error in the papal books, since the Pope had ordered his innocent books to be destroyed as well. He gave public notice of his intention.

On the tenth day of December, 1520, at nine o’clock in the morning, in the presence of a large number of professors and students, he solemnly committed the bull of excommunication, together with the papal decretals, the Canon law, and several writings of Eck and Emser, to the flames, with these words (borrowed from Joshua’s judgment of Achan the thief, Jos_7:25): “As thou [the Pope] hast vexed the Holy One of the Lord, may the eternal fire vex thee!”

The spot where this happened is still shown outside the Elster Gate at Wittenberg, under a sturdy oak surrounded by an iron railing.

Several hundred students tarried at the fire, which had been kindled by a master of the university, some chanting the Te Deum, others singing funeral dirges on the papal laws; then they made a mock procession through the town, collected piles of scholastic and Romish books, and returning to the place of execution, threw them into the flames.

Luther, with Melanchthon, Carlstadt, and the other doctors and masters, returned home immediately after the act. He at first had trembled at the step, and prayed for light; but after the deed was done, he felt more cheerful than ever. He regarded his excommunication as an emancipation from all restraints of popery and monasticism. On the same day he calmly informed Spalatin of the event as a piece of news. On the next day he warned the students in the lecture-room against the Romish Antichrist, and told them that it was high time to burn the papal chair with all its teachers and abominations. He publicly announced his act in a Latin and German treatise, “Why the Books of the Pope and his Disciples were burned by Dr. Martin Luther.” He justified it by his duties as a baptized Christian, as a sworn doctor of divinity, as a daily preacher, to root out all unchristian doctrines. He cites from the papal law-books thirty articles and errors in glorification of the papacy, which deserve to be burned; and calls the whole Canon-law “the abomination of desolation” (Mat_24:15) and antichristian (2Th_2:4), since the sum of its teaching was, that “the Pope is God on earth, above all things, heavenly and earthly, spiritual and temporal; all things belong to the Pope, and no one dare ask, What doest thou?” Simultaneously with this tract, he published an exhaustive defense of all his own articles which had been condemned by the Pope, and planted himself upon the rock of God’s revelation in the Scriptures.

Leo X., after the expiration of the one hundred and twenty days of grace allowed to Luther by the terms of the bull, proceeded to the last step, and on the third day of January, 1521, pronounced the ban against the Reformer, and his followers, and an interdict on the places where they should be harbored. But Luther had deprived the new bull of its effect.

The burning of the Pope’s bull was the boldest and most eventful act of Luther. Viewed in itself, it might indeed have been only an act of fanaticism and folly, and proved a brutum fulmen. But it was preceded and followed by heroic acts of faith in pulling down an old church, and building up a new one. It defied the greatest power on earth, before which emperors, kings, and princes, and all the nations of Europe bowed in reverence and awe. It was the fiery signal of absolute and final separation from Rome, and destroyed the effect of future papal bulls upon one-half of Western Christendom. It emancipated Luther and the entire Protestant world from that authority, which, from a wholesome school of discipline for young nations, had become a fearful and intolerable tyranny over the intellect and conscience of men.

Luther developed his theology before the eyes of the public; while Calvin, at a later period, appeared fully matured, like Minerva from the head of Jupiter. “I am one of those,” he says, “among whom St. Augustin classed himself, who have gradually advanced by writing and teaching; not of those who at a single bound spring to perfection out of nothing.

He called the Pope the most holy and the most hellish father of Christendom. He began in 1517 as a devout papist and monk, with full faith in the Roman Church and its divinely appointed head, protesting merely against certain abuses; in 1519, at the Leipzig disputation, he denied the divine right, and shortly afterwards also the human right, of the papacy; a year later he became fully convinced that the papacy was that antichristian power predicted in the Scriptures, and must be renounced at the risk of a man’s salvation.

There is no doubt that in all these stages he was equally sincere, earnest, and conscientious.

Luther adhered to the position taken in the act of Dec. 10, 1520, with unchanging firmness. He never regretted it for a moment. He had burned the ship behind him; he could not, and he would not, return. To the end of his life he regarded and treated the Pope of Rome in his official capacity as the very Antichrist, and expected that he soon would be destroyed by spiritual force at the second coming of Christ. At Schmalkalden in 1537 he prayed that God might fill all Protestants with hatred of the Pope. One of his last and most violent books is directed “Against the Papacy at Rome, founded by the Devil.” Wittenberg, 1545. He calls Paul III. the “Most hellish Father,” and addresses him as “Your Hellishness.” instead of “Your Holiness.” He promises at the close to do still better in another book, and prays that in case of his death, God may raise another one “a thousandfold more severe; for the devilish papacy is the last evil on earth, and the worst which all the devils with all their power could contrive. God help us. Amen.” Thus he wrote, not under the inspiration of liquor or madness, as Roman historians have suggested, but in sober earnest. His dying words, as reported by Ratzeburger, his physician, were a prediction of the approaching death of the papacy: — 

“Pestis eram vivus, moriens tua mors ero Papa.”

From the standpoint of his age, Luther regarded the Pope and the Turk as “the two arch-enemies of Christ and his Church,” and embodied this view in a hymn which begins, — 

“Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort

Und steur’ des Papst’s und Türken Mord.”

This line, like the famous eightieth question of the Heidelberg Catechism which denounces the popish mass as an “accursed idolatry,” gave much trouble in mixed communities, and in some it was forbidden by Roman-Catholic magistrates. Modern German hymn-books wisely substitute “all enemies,” or “enemies of Christ,” for the Pope and the Turk.

In order to form a just estimate of Luther’s views on the papacy, it must not be forgotten that they were uttered in the furnace-heat of controversy, and with all the violence of his violent temper. They have no more weight than his equally sweeping condemnation of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.