I am concerned, Most Serene King, that preparation must be made for the restitution of Christ’s Kingdom, which is not so much something simply useful as it is something necessary for the people whom the Most High has entrusted to your piety for feeding, and this must be done first through the preaching of the gospel which I have mentioned, then also through the persuasion of Your Royal Majesty and of those in his councils whom he will find most suitable for this task. For we see, first of all, that pious kings and princes, acting with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, once used this approach successfully in restoring the Kingdom of Christ among their subjects, just as it is evident that Christ our King used the same method and way. For before all things else he commanded his apostles to preach the gospel of his Kingdom to all nations (Matt. 24:14).
It is indeed within the province of pious kings and princes, now that the covenant of the Lord has been renewed and the laws of God accepted, to allow none of their subjects to violate this covenant openly or to transgress these laws; I have already mentioned something concerning this; nevertheless, since no one can be a true citizen of the Kingdom of Christ except willingly, and all Christians, even princes, should, to the degree that the Lord endows them, strive to bring willing citizens to the Kingdom of Christ rather than drive unwilling hypocrites to it, anyone can readily see how fitting it is for religious princes to work out the repair of the Kingdom of Christ among their subjects, first by the plain and industrious preaching of the gospel, and then by holy and accurate persuasions, both on their own part and through those who have the holiest and most weighty authority among the people of the realm.
But because pious princes must plant and propagate the Kingdom of Christ also by the power of the sword, as by all the powers which they have received from the Lord, it is also their duty not to tolerate anyone who openly opposes and undermines the sound doctrine of the gospel. For however oppressed both the doctrine and discipline of Christ frequently were heretofore and how exceedingly great the number of superstitions that dominated the hearts of men for so many centuries, nevertheless, when all have been baptized into the Kingdom of Christ, not of Antichrist, they must be taught to observe whatever Christ has commanded and not what his demented vicars impose. Those who refuse to be taught the things that are of Christ’s Kingdom should not be tolerated in a Christian commonwealth, much less those who dare to rebel against and vitiate these things.
Your Royal Majesty realizes well enough how many evils have been caused, when without sufficient previous indoctrination, by mere act and edict false cults were wiped out from among your people, instruments of impiety snatched away, and the ministry of true religion enjoined by command. Some have, on this account, moved in the direction of horrible sedition, others have aroused dangerous unrest in the provinces, and today, wherever they are strong, they either stir up trouble or maintain and increase strife already rampant. Others completely convert the prescribed form of worship into papistic abuse when they deliberately recite the service of the sacrifice of Christ, in the vernacular language, indeed, but indistinctly and with words run together, so that they cannot be understood, and the people altogether refuse to listen to them with an effort to understand. Not a few of the sacrificing priests present the Holy Communion of Christ as a papistic Mass, nor do the people attend with a mind other than this. Hence in very many places, as they celebrated Masses before, so now they celebrate the Communion three times a day, and they designate them by the names of saints and of the mother of the Lord, calling them the Mass of Saint Nicholas, of the Blessed Virgin, or of other saints; and hardly anyone takes the sacrament of the Lord’s Table, except the one sacrificing priest or the sacristan, and he unwillingly. By these horrible mockeries of Christ’s religion God’s wrath is most gravely provoked.
Since, then, we are so clearly taught by the precept and example of our King and Savior Jesus Christ and by the examples of all the pious princes whose ministry the Lord ever used to offer his Kingdom to men or to restore it, it is necessary before all things else, as his Kingdom is being restored to set forth and explain the mysteries of this Kingdom as diligently as possible to the people and exhort them by holy persuasions to take on the yoke of Christ, Your Royal Majesty will acknowledge his obligation to exercise total concentration and concern in this; nor must those be listened to who wish Christ’s religion to be imposed on men merely by edicts and laws and who say that it is sufficient if the worship services are recited for Christ’s people in any way men please.
For it must be greatly feared that these people are agitated by an adverse spirit who strives to restore the administration of Christ’s religion to men who are as little qualified for it as they let themselves to be used for it. Thus they make it possible for greedy men that they not only despoil ecclesiastical wealth and power but also gradually abolish the religion of Christ entirely. For that spirit hopes that when the leadership of the churches has been destroyed, there will no longer be men who would want to prepare and fit themselves sincerely and earnestly for the sacred ministry of the Church. For it knows and has the experience of so many centuries that Christ’s religion entirely fails among the people when the Church’s sacred ministry has been handed over to inept and unfaithful ministers.