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Practical Reformation – Pastor Matthias Bengel to the Governor at Kassel (December 24, 1531)

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Strenger lord, I take God as my witness, if this is not all thoroughly true and not fabricated (not to mention the things I don’t care to write here). Yet I know that as soon as it comes before him, [he will say] that it must have all been made up. He and the officials in Spangenberg are also at odds among themselves and are divided, for each party wants to have the final authority, and so good goes unrewarded and evil unpunished. And how can one mete out punishment effectively or fruitfully, if he himself is captive to such terrible sins and blasphemy?

Strenger lord, with God as my witness, I have reported all this out of Christian conviction, as I had wished to report it to your Strenger for some time, and I request for Christ’s sake that you accept my report with a good opinion [of me] and see me as one who intends to seek peace and also end [the matter] in peace. For I am outraged at him, [but] he has a large following, and I must collect my salary from him in the name of our gracious lord. Strenger lord, if it is of use and is fruitful and serves the glory of God, insofar as it does not exceed [the bounds of] love [i.e., Christian charity], then I wanted to make [you] aware of all this, wherever and as often as I should; I am required and willing to suffer for the sake of justice, God grant his grace, etc.

I wanted to confidentially inform your Strenger in our merciful prince and lord’s stead, with Christian hope that your Strenger will accept [this report] with the same opinion and countenance with which I intend, and here may God with his grace and spirit assist the increase and continuation of your Strenger in a Christian government and mind. Amen. Amen. Sent from Heydau under the roses [i.e., in secret] on Christmas Eve in the year 31 [December 24, 1531].

Source of original German letter: Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg (StA MR) Best. 17e Altmorschen Nr. 1.

Translation: Ellen Yutzy Glebe

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