Dreadful times, worse than any man has seen since God made heaven and earth, have fallen upon us. Never have things looked so dark, under signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, as now. Never before in German or foreign lands.
Honesty is perverted. Kings, princes, and lords try to grab the Spirit’s sword. False prophets lead them. The righteous know not where to go. In many houses four religions live under one roof. Unity has gone to pieces. The straight has turned crooked, both in worldly and spiritual matters—both among rulers and subjects, men and women.
All manner of wickedness and pride have taken the upper hand. Even children on the street swear by the blood of Christ. Every wickedness imagineable has become commonplace on earth, among men and women alike. Yet no one assumes the blame.
Everyone claims to be the church of God. Turks, Jews, the heathen, the pope, Luther, and sects without number fight and struggle, everyone insisting he is right while despising, killing, and persecuting everyone else like lions, bears, and wild pigs. Everyone hates everyone else. Oh God, look into this!
Save your elect from spiritual tyrants breaking in! What one builds up the other tears down. Force and spiritual confusion, unclean doctrines and false prophesies abound. Everyone judges, condemns and sentences everyone else.
Oh God, save us from spiritual tyranny! Great errors, never known before, break in and lead many astray. Unclean spirits invade hearts and souls. False brothers go everywhere leading the godly away from you. Where brothers lived in unity they have come to hate one another and speak evil one of each other.
Oh Lord, who can I trust? The ones I would have built a castle on have betrayed me. The ones into whose hands I would have trusted my body and soul have turned against me. Lord forgive them! I am ashamed of how things are.
Lord, you know very well who I am, and that I have set my hopes on you, together with my brothers in the covenant, to fight the devil’s horde. The pope, the sects, the godless rabble rage against us. They kill, they torture, they make men swear that falsehood is truth. Is that not spiritual tyranny? Who has ever heard of driving people with the sword into the Kingdom of God?
Children of God, do not be fooled! God will bring men to account for everything they do. Give yourselves to God with your children, your wives, your hearts, your souls, your bodies.
Be gentle and love all men. Feed your enemies that hurt you. Show mercy to all and forgive others, as God has forgiven you. Feel for your brothers and sisters. Be mirror images of Christ, living without malice, slandering none.
Keep yourself pure. Avoid all appearance of evil. Be friendly to all. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
Judge no one. Speak little. Many great errors, confusion, wars, and sects come from too many words.
If you see your brother do wrong, don’t talk of it. Go to him without malice and straighten it out between you and him alone.
Let God be the judge, do good to those that hate you. Love them from the heart, give them good counsel and share your things with them. This is the true mark of the friends of God.
But woe to you world, with your great “faith,” wisdom, and knowledge! Your sacraments will not save you! What does it help you to run to church if you do not keep Christ’s commandments?
What good does it do, while you live like the heathen, charging interest on your money, buying and selling, blaspheming God, withholding goods from the poor, playing, feasting, drinking, living in pride, adultery, murder, idolatry, wars, lies and deception?
You persecute the children of God and pour out innocent blood, yet you boast of being God’s children too. How much better it had been for you to have a millstone hung about your necks and drowned!
Lord, forgive our sins as we forgive those that sin against us, and keep us from evil.
Hans Büchel, -ca. 1585, Murtal, Salzburg, Austria