Concerning Christian Liberty HTML version

Letter Of Martin Luther To Pope Leo X
Among those monstrous evils of this age with which I have now for three years
been waging war, I am sometimes compelled to look to you and to call you to
mind, most blessed father Leo. In truth, since you alone are everywhere
considered as being the cause of my engaging in war, I cannot at any time fail to
remember you; and although I have been compelled by the causeless raging of
your impious flatterers against me to appeal from your seat to a future council--
fearless of the futile decrees of your predecessors Pius and Julius, who in their
foolish tyranny prohibited such an action--yet I have never been so alienated in
feeling from your Blessedness as not to have sought with all my might, in diligent
prayer and crying to God, all the best gifts for you and for your see. But those
who have hitherto endeavoured to terrify me with the majesty of your name and
authority, I have begun quite to despise and triumph over. One thing I see
remaining which I cannot despise, and this has been the reason of my writing
anew to your Blessedness: namely, that I find that blame is cast on me, and that
it is imputed to me as a great offence, that in my rashness I am judged to have
spared not even your person.
Now, to confess the truth openly, I am conscious that, whenever I have had to
mention your person, I have said nothing of you but what was honourable and
good. If I had done otherwise, I could by no means have approved my own
conduct, but should have supported with all my power the judgment of those men
concerning me, nor would anything have pleased me better, than to recant such
rashness and impiety. I have called you Daniel in Babylon; and every reader
thoroughly knows with what distinguished zeal I defended your conspicuous
innocence against Silvester, who tried to stain it. Indeed, the published opinion of
so many great men and the repute of your blameless life are too widely famed
and too much reverenced throughout the world to be assailable by any man, of
however great name, or by any arts. I am not so foolish as to attack one whom
everybody praises; nay, it has been and always will be my desire not to attack
even those whom public repute disgraces. I am not delighted at the faults of any
man, since I am very conscious myself of the great beam in my own eye, nor can
I be the first to cast a stone at the adulteress.
I have indeed inveighed sharply against impious doctrines, and I have not been
slack to censure my adversaries on account, not of their bad morals, but of their
impiety. And for this I am so far from being sorry that I have brought my mind to
despise the judgments of men and to persevere in this vehement zeal, according
to the example of Christ, who, in His zeal, calls His adversaries a generation of
vipers, blind, hypocrites, and children of the devil. Paul, too, charges the sorcerer
with being a child of the devil, full of all subtlety and all malice; and defames
certain persons as evil workers, dogs, and deceivers. In the opinion of those
delicate-eared persons, nothing could be more bitter or intemperate than Paul's
language. What can be more bitter than the words of the prophets? The ears of