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Political Testament of Frederick William ("the Great Elector") (May 19, 1667)

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Now, the first proper virtue of a righteous ruler is that he properly and sincerely fear, love, and keep God in mind, God who created him and made him lord and ruler of so many lands and people. Let His word, which alone leads to salvation [Sein allein Seligmachendes wohrdt], be the only true guideline of your entire reign and life, because therein lies the proper God-pleasing art of ruling and high politics. At the same time, diligently call to God daily — morning, noon, and night — with an ardent prayer, first for wisdom and understanding, also for gracious support with the heavy burden of reigning in His almighty name's honor and for the best of the entrusted land and people, and act so that you may answer to God, temporally in this world and eternally in the next. At the same time, remember also the many great kindnesses that God has shown to you before others, that out of sheer grace He has made you a prince over so many lands and people, and therefore you have great cause to thank Him daily with diligent prayer, and to be diligent in using your entire life and reign to serve Him. Contemplate, too, often and always, that you do not offend in the very least, or do anything for which you will have to account before the Almighty, not even the least little thing. This Christian contemplation of the future judgment, which God demands more from rulers than from others, and the knowledge that all subjects are watching you, and following your example, will mean that you will be diligent throughout your life not to sin against God knowingly, but rather always to do good, as much as human weakness allows. If you observe this well, then the benefit from it will be that piety will grow and increase in you more and more, from day to day. So then you will be blessed and God will abundantly grant you everything temporal that you desire and pray for. Be diligent to lead a proper, moderate, and sober life, and go before your subjects and officials as a good example. [ . . . ]

To be generous to the poor is Christ's command, and thereby you will collect an immortal treasure in heaven, where neither moths nor vermin destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.*

Now regarding religion and the building of churches in your lands, and in what form you could best lead, it is primarily to be seen, and to be considered, that the Reformed [Calvinist] religion, which is founded solely on the true word of God and on the works of the Apostles without any human additions, should be spread further in your lands. This should happen in such a way so that it is not with force, or prohibition of the Lutheran churches, or withdrawal of their incomes or revenues, but rather from your own means that you promote the building of Reformed churches in your lands. [ . . . ]

* Matthew 6:19-20.

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