Augsburg: Silvan Otmar, 1519.
Quarto: 18.2 x 13.7 cm.  p. Collation: A4
SEVENTH PRINTING (in the year of the first).
Bound in modern patterned paper over thin boards. V. light soiling, lower margin cut a bit close. Attractive woodcut border on title.
An important, early work by Luther, written at a crucial moment in his confrontation with the Rome, that showcases his evolving ideas on such diverse matters as indulgences and miracles.
“After his disappointing encounter with the papal legate, Cardinal Cajetan, in Augsburg, Martin Luther returned to Wittenberg on 31 October 1518, facing an insecure and uncertain future. While he continued to preach in the town church, to teach at the university, and to work on reforming its curriculum, he wrote and published his ‘Proceedings at Augsburg’ and his appeal to a future council. A condemnation from Rome seemed imminent. He seriously considered leaving Wittenberg, until he received notice from Prince Frederick in the beginning of December that he should stay. It was in this atmosphere that Luther encountered the papal legate Karl von Miltitz in the beginning of January 1519, which led to a fragile reconciliation with Rome.”(Polhuijs)
Miltitz persuaded Luther to issue a statement on the importance of unity with the church of Rome. This work, “Unterricht auf etliche Artikel, die ihn von seinen Abgönnern aufgelegt und zugemessen werden” (Instructions on the articles attributed to Luther) (WA 2:69-7), is Luther's statement to that effect.
“In the ‘Instructions on some articles’, Luther makes a statement on some of the topics concerning which his teaching had been misrepresented. It is interesting to observe how gradual is his progress towards the position he ultimately attained. The invocation of saints, Purgatory, even indulgences, with certain qualifications, are approved. Miracles, he thinks, are still performed at the tombs of saints. The great abuse, against which he warns, is that of seeking only temporal and bodily blessings instead of spiritual by their intercession. ‘Who now invokes them for patience, faith, love, chastity?’ Nor should they be invoked as though they had the power, of themselves, to bestow these things; they secure them only by their intercession with God. Indulgences are entirely matters of freedom. No one sins who does not procure them; nor does one obtain merit through their purchase. He who withholds needed help from a poor man in order to purchase an indulgence, mocks God. God's commandments are to be esteemed above those of the Church, as gold and precious stones are to be preferred to wood and stubble.
"A man who swears, curses, slanders, or refuses his neighbor needed assistance is much worse than one who eats meat or does not fast on Friday. Nevertheless both classes of commandments are to be observed; only it is advisable that to prevent their being placed upon an equal footing, some of the ecclesiastical requirements be abolished in a General Council.
‘That the Roman Church, is honored by God above all others, is what we cannot doubt. Saint Peter, Saint Paul, forty-six popes, many hundreds of thousands of martyrs, have shed their blood in its bosom, and have overcome hell and the world, so that God’s eye regards it with especial favor. Although everything is now in a very wretched state there, this is not a sufficient reason for separating from it. On the contrary, the worse things are going on within it, the more should we cling to it; for it is not by separation that we shall make it better. We must not desert God on account of the devil; or abandon the children of God who are still in the Roman communion, because of the multitude of the ungodly. There is no sin, there is no evil that should destroy charity or break the bond of union. For charity can do all things, and to unity nothing is difficult… But as to the power and sovereignty of the Roman See, and as to how far it extends, the learned must decide.’
“Such was the presentation of the case made by Luther in fulfillment of his promise to Miltitz. But the efforts of the papal nuncio were fruitless.”(Jacobs, 1898)
“Miltitz’s primary mission was to improve the conflict with Luther. A diplomat rather than a theologian like Cajetan, he had no intention of changing Luther’s mind. On the contrary, his goal was to relieve the international and ecclesiastical tension related to the controversy over indulgences. Luther and Miltitz met in Altenburg in January 1519. Miltitz expressed Leo’s remorse over the controversy and displeasure with Prierias’ response to Luther, as well as the general disdain in Rome for both Tetzel’s preaching of indulgences and Albrecht of Mainz’s greed in profiting from them. Luther consented to four measures. First, he would promise to keep silent on the indulgence matter going forward provided his opponents did the same. Second, he would write a letter to the pope expressing his remorse over the controversy. Third, he would publish a pamphlet encouraging obedience to the church. Finally, he would not stand trial for his positions in Rome, but instead have the case remanded to the archbishop of Salzburg. However, when Miltitz realized that Luther had not recanted to Cajetan nor had intended to submit a letter of retraction, he settled with him on the first point alone: an agreement to silence the debate.
“For a variety of reasons, the attempt at diplomacy failed. Maximilian died shortly thereafter, creating a power vacuum in the empire and emboldening the independence of Frederick the Wise. Miltitz could not persuade Leo of Luther’s good faith. For his part, Luther felt betrayed by Miltitz when he received the new papal decretal on indulgences, rooted in neither Scripture nor canon law, but papal authority—the very position Luther had contested from the start. Nevertheless, the papal ambassador to Germany would remain active in his attempts to reach reconciliation. In October 1520, he and Luther met again after the publication of The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. Miltitz impinged upon him to write an open letter to Leo that might appease the pope as he had initially consented to do a year earlier. Luther complied, composing the letter as a preface to his November treatise, Freedom of a Christian. Whether or not Luther’s missive, which praised Leo and warned him of insidious forces in the curia, was genuine remains a matter of debate.”(Concordia Seminary, Reformation 500).