« AnteriorContinuar »
what steps to take against an obstinate heretic.” All his friends trembled at this undisguised declaration. Luther repeated: “So help me God! I can retract nothing." Upon this he was dismissed, then recalled, and again asked whether he would retract a part of what he had written. "I have no other answer to make,” was his reply. The Italians and Spaniards were amazed. Luther was told the diet would come to a decision the next day. When returning to his inn he quieted the anxious multitude with a few words, who, seeing the Spaniards and Italians of the emperor's household follow him with imprecations and threats, exclaimed loudly, in the apprehension that he was about to be conducted to prison.
The elector and other princes now saw it was their duty to protect such a man, and sent their ministers to assure him of their support. The next day the emperor declared, “He could not allow that a single monk should disturb the peace of the Church, and he was resolved to let him depart, under condition of creating no trouble; but he would proceed against his adherents as against heretics who are under excommunication, and interdict them by all means in his power; and he demanded of the estates of the empire to conduct themselves as faithful Christians.” This address, the suggestion of the Italian and Spanish party, created great commotion. The most violent members of that party demanded of the emperor that Luther should be burned and his ashes thrown into the Rhine, and it is now proved that toward the end of his life Charles reproached himself bitterly for not having thus sacrificed his word for the good of the Church. But the great majority of the German party, even Luther's personal enemies, rejected such a proposition with horror, as unworthy of the good faith of Germans. Some said openly, they had a child, misled by foreigners, for an emperor. The emperor decided at last that three days should be given to Luther to reconsider what he had said. The theologians began to try their skill upon him. “Give up the Bible as the last appeal; you allow all heresies have come from the Bible.” Luther reproached them for their unbelief, and added: “The pope is not judge in the things that belong to the Word of God; every Christian man must see and understand himself how he is to live and to die.” Two more days were granted, without producing any other result than Luther's declaration, I am ready to renounce the safe-conduct, to deliver my life and body into the hands of the emperor, but the Word of God, never! I am also ready to accept a council, but one which shall judge only after the Scripture.” “What remedy can you then name?” asked the venerable archbishop of Treves. “Only that indicated by Gamaliel,” replied Luther; «if this council or this work be of men, it will come to naught; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.”