Ellen G. White Writings

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Love Under Fire, Page 59

thousands. The Word of God was like a two-edged sword, cutting its way to the hearts of the people. The eyes of the people, so long directed to human ceremonies and earthly priests, were now turning in faith to Christ and Him crucified.

This widespread interest stirred the fears of the papal authorities. Luther received a summons to appear at Rome to answer the charge of heresy. His friends knew very well the danger that threatened him in that corrupt city, already drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. They requested that he receive his examination in Germany.

This was arranged, and the pope's representative, or legate, was appointed to hear the case. The instructions to this official stated that Luther had already been declared a heretic. The legate was therefore “to prosecute and restrain him without any delay.” The legate was empowered “to ban him in every part of Germany; to banish, curse, and excommunicate all those who are attached to him,” to excommunicate all, no matter their rank in church or state, except the emperor, who would neglect to seize Luther and his followers and deliver them to the vengeance of Rome.16D'Aubigné, book 4, chapter 2.

The document reveals not a trace of Christian principle or even common justice. Luther had had no opportunity to explain or defend his position, yet he was pronounced a heretic and in the same day counseled, accused, judged, and condemned.

When Luther so much needed the advice of a true friend, God sent Melanchthon to Wittenberg. Melanchthon's sound judgment, combined with a pure and upright character, won everyone's admiration. He soon became Luther's most trusted friend. His gentleness, caution, and exactness helped to supplement Luther's courage and energy.

The trial was to take place at Augsburg, and the Reformer set out on foot. There had been threats that he would be murdered on the way, and his friends begged him not to go. But he said, “I am like Jeremiah, a man of strife and contention; but the more their threats increase, the more my joy is multiplied.... They have already destroyed my honor and my reputation.... As for my soul, they cannot take that. Whoever wants to proclaim the word of Christ to the world must expect death at every moment.”17D'Aubigné, book 4, chapter 4.

The news of Luther's arrival at Augsburg gave great satisfaction to the pope's representative. The troublesome heretic who had caught the world's attention seemed now to be in Rome's power, and he would not escape. The representative intended to force Luther to retract, or if this failed, to send him to Rome to share the fate of Huss and Jerome. So through his agents he tried to get Luther to appear without a safe-conduct and trust himself to his mercy. But the Reformer declined to do this. Not until he had received the document pledging the emperor's protection did he appear in the presence of the pope's ambassador.

As a strategy, the pope's delegates decided to win Luther by seeming to treat him gently. The ambassador professed great friendliness,

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