To the respected and worthy NICOLAUS VON AMSDORF, Licentiate in the Holy Scriptures and Canon of Wittenberg,
My particular and affectionate friend.
Dr. MARTIN LUTHER.
The Grace and Peace of God be with you! Respected, worthy Sir and dear friend.
The time for silence is gone and the time to speak has come, as we read in Ecclesiastes (iii.7.) I have in conformity with our resolve put together some few points concerning the Reformation of the Christian Estate, with the intent of placing the same before the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, in case it may please God to help His Church by means of the laity, inasmuch as the clergy, whom this task rather befitted, have become quite careless. I send all this to your worship, to judge and to amend where needed. I am well aware that I shall not escape the reproach of taking far too much upon me, in presuming, insignificant as I am, to address such high estates on such weighty and great subjects; as if there were no one in the world but Dr. Luther, to have a care for Christianity, and to give advice to such wise people.
Let who will blame me, I shall not offer any excuse. Perhaps I still owe God and the world another folly. This debt I have now resolved honestly to discharge, as well as may be, and to be court fool for once in my life: if I fail, I shall at any rate gain this advantage, that no one need buy me a fool's cap or shave my poll. But it remains to be seen which shall hang the bells on the other. I must fulfil the proverb: When anything is to be done in the world, a monk must be in it, were it only as a painted figure. I suppose, it has often happened that a fool has spoken wisely, and wise men have often done foolishly, as St. Paul says: |If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.| (1 Cor. iii.18.)
Now, inasmuch as I am not only a fool, but also a sworn doctor of the Holy Scriptures, I am glad that I have an opportunity of fulfilling my oath, just in this fool's way. I beg you to excuse me to the moderately wise: for I know not how to deserve the favour and grace of the supremely wise, which I have so often sought with much labour, but now for the future shall neither have nor regard.
God help us to seek not our glory, but His alone. Amen.
From Wittenberg, in the monastery of St. Augustine, on the eve of St. John the Baptist, in the year 1520. Jesus.