But some will plead that the kind of preachers of the gospel which we require cannot be found in sufficient number in order that the gospel of Christ can be rightly announced and explained to all the people in this realm. To these the answer must be given that it is hardly astonishing that up to this time very few of this kind have been found, since no one has looked for them as he should. As much as I have been able to learn, although I am an immigrant to this country and have battled serious sickness most of the time that I have been here, I have no doubt that if they are diligently looked for many more men can be found who are suitable for this work of evangelizing than is now generally believed.
But it must be confessed that there is not so great a number of these men as the vast multitude of Christian people in this realm requires, and the number that rightly ought to be available if you consider how favorably the Lord has treated this realm before all others in the rest of the Christian world; through pious kings and other princes, and royalty of either sex, he has favored with excellent advantages the preparation of fit preachers for the task of advancing the gospel from day to day. For no churches or universities in the rest of Europe have colleges so endowed and established with good laws as the two universities of the realm. If in these colleges, as it has been dutifully determined, besides the two masters assigned to the art of medicine and the two to the science of civil law, all the rest would study sound theology and also reckon it their duty to teach it in the churches, how great a swarm of approved evangelists would then come forth for the churches! But the plague of Antichrist has invaded also these colleges most seriously, so that very many in these colleges, after the fashion of the wicked monks and false canons, lazily abuse the good things of these colleges, decaying and growing old there in impious ease and preempting the place and opportunity of younger men who wish to dedicate themselves to true theology and the ministries of the churches. Not content with this perversity, although it is supremely damaging to the churches, most of them attack the pure doctrine of Christ wherever they can and dare and not only estrange the hearts of younger men from it but even frighten them away.
And so the smaller is the number of those to whom the work of evangelizing the Kingdom of Christ can be rightly entrusted, the more promptly and strictly will Your Royal Majesty institute and complete the reformation of both universities and of the colleges in these matters, so, that, first of all, no one will be allowed openly to oppose the pure doctrine of Christ. Secondly, those who have completed their period of learning and do not have every desire to adapt themselves to teaching the churches should leave the colleges as soon as possible in order to make the colleges free to provide room for younger men who are prepared faithfully to learn the things that pertain to the Kingdom of Christ and in due time to communicate these things to the churches with utmost zeal. There are involved here certain unwisely merciful men who have too much sympathy for the enemies of the Church of God or certainly for such as should clearly be excluded from the association with any church and the participation in its revenues (II Thess. 3:7-10), when the opportunity of damaging and defrauding the churches is taken away from these men according to the Lord’s precept. They have more feeling for them than for the churches which are being defrauded by the ministry of these impious men and therefore gravely undermined. They cry out that it is inhuman and unworthy of the colleges to eject men who have been there for such a long time; that some deference must be had for their age and that we should be mindful of the commandment that we ought to do to others what we wish should be done to us (Matt. 7:12).
By these objections they certainly demonstrate that they have not yet learned that all else must yield to the glory of Christ and the well-being of the churches, and that true charity and mercy are shown to one’s neighbor when, according to God’s precept and in order that he might not wrong God and the Church, he is removed by legitimate force commanded by God if he cannot be dissuaded in any other way. How is this? These men certainly do not think correctly as they often boast.10 For what is the consequence? These men have now defrauded the Church of Christ for a long time, and far from rejoicing in having fit and needed ministers, they have blocked this for the sake of their own indulgence and bellies. Must, therefore, compassion be shown to them, and must they be permitted still longer to afflict the churches of God with such damage? What common sense do these men seem to have when they infer from what the Lord commanded that we should do unto others what we would have them do unto us, that Christians should show whatever forgiveness to others they wickedly and wrongly want to be granted or conceded as if the Lord wanted us to owe to our neighbors whatever they asked for, however wicked their motivation, and did not rather will that we should do and render only those things to our neighbors which we could wish to be done or rendered to us according to right reason deduced from his word.
If, however, anyone from the colleges is impeded by age or sickness from fulfilling his obligations to the churches, since the churches should not stand by and allow anyone to be in need, therefore this sort of person is to be taken care of so that he will lack nothing for living piously and happily. But those who are well and strong of body and have the means to live to the Lord, or can easily find them, either from positions in the priesthood or by other means, why should not the very law of God apply to them, “Those who do not work, let them not eat” (II Thess. 3:10)? Let those only have a place in the most sacred institutions of the colleges, who wish to gain there a knowledge of the good arts and of the Sacred Scriptures so that in due time they may be able to have a better and more salutary ministry in the churches.
Your Majesty’s universities and their colleges must therefore be restored as soon as possible, and with thoroughgoing strictness, to their proper role as ordained by the Word of God. With respect to those who unworthily control them and thus seriously compromise the churches, the manner of procedure and the rendering of mercy must consist in this, that Your Majesty deny them every occasion of afflicting the churches of God with such great wrongs and bring it about that the interests of the churches will be taken care of by suitable ministers, so necessary for the eternal salvation of the faithful, rather than by the godless laziness and gluttony of those pretenders. Cicero, a pagan writer, stated this as the first law of the bond of friendship, “that we should seek from friends only what is decent/’ and “pursue” only “honest causes of friends,” and “not ask anything shameful of friends nor do such things when asked” (in Laelio). X1 And the Socratics acknowledged that a salutary remedy and a great benefit are obtained by those who have sinned, if just punishments are assumed by them (in Gorgias) .12
Let us be warned by those horrible punishments suffered by the priest Eli (1 Samuel 2:27-36; 4:12-18), King Saul (1 Samuel 15), and the whole people of Israel because of an impious indulgence and unwise mercy toward those against whom, by the command of God, who alone is truly merciful and clement, they ought to have exercised severity lest we think that any indulgent concessions are to be made to anyone against God’s precept and against the wellbeing of the churches. Christian mildness and mercy must be exhibited to the sheep of Christ in order to protect them from the wolves, and not to the wolves that they may scatter and destroy the Sheep.
These colleges are clearly magnificent blessings of Christ. May Your Royal Majesty therefore not bind himself to horrible ingratitude against God’s kindness and to a very serious wrong to the churches of Christ entrusted to him, but rather let him make every effort as quickly as he can and with all the strength and power at his command, to appropriate them both for Christ the Lord and his churches and restore them to their proper purpose.