MELANCHTHON, Philipp (1497-1560). Autograph letter signed ('Philippus Melanchthon') to Wolgang Fabricius Capito, Wittenberg, 11 December , in Latin, 1½ pages, folio, integral address panel with two contemporary annotations, remnant of seal (seal tear repaired, minor browning, remnant of guard).
THE SUPPRESSION OF INDULGENCES AND THE DIVINE MISSION OF LUTHER. Melanchthon writes to the chancellor of Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg, the Elector-Archbishop of Mainz, in the wake of an incendiary letter from Luther to his master, in which he had demanded that he suppress the renewed trade in indulgences in Halle: Melanchthon's letter is typically more restrained in tone, and equally typically makes a more judicious, indirect approach via the Cardinal's chancellor: 'Mittuntur ad vos optimi, et sanctiss[imi] hominis, Lutheri l[ette]rae, quib[us] ... officii princeps tuus admonetur' [A letter of that best and holiest of men, Luther, has been sent to you, in which your prince is advised of his duty]; Melanchthon is aware what the reaction to this presumption is likely to be, and that Luther's 'sharpness' can cause offence, but urges, using biblical examples as warnings, that the import of the letter should not be ignored: 'Primu[m] [e]n[im] si Lutherus, id quod multi sentiu[n]t, divinitus missus est, qui Mundu[m] ad Eva[n]geliu[m] revocet, cavendu[m] est, ne non tam Lutherum, quam illum, cuius hoc \kapostolon\K agit, contempsisse videamini ... Id [Evangelium] reijcitis, si Lutherus reijcitur' ' [For first if Luther, as many think, is divinely sent to call the world back to the gospel, we should be careful not to seem to contemn not only Luther but also him whose apostle he is ... You reject the gospel, if Luther is rejected].
Melanchthon's soothing words had their effect, and the Cardinal wrote to Luther on 21 December that the trade in indulgencies would be suppressed. In Melanchthons Briefwechsel, ed Heinz Scheible, no.189.