MARTIN LUTHER TO HIS FRIEND.
I am unwilling to acknowledge that you are right in being so industrious to publish abroad my poor productions: I fear you are actuated too much by favour towards me. As to myself, I am wholly dissatisfied with my works on the Psalms: not so much on account of the sense which I have given, which I believe to be true and genuine, as on account of the verbosity, confusion, and undigested chaos of my commentaries altogether. The Book of Psalms is a book, my commentaries on which, from want of time and leisure, I am obliged to conceive, digest, arrange, and prepare all at once. For I am overwhelmed with occupation. I have two sermons to preach in a day: I have to meditate on the Psalms: I have to consider over the letters which I receive by the posts (as they are called) and to reply to my enemies: I have to attack the Pope’s Bulls in both languages: and I have, to defend myself. (To say nothing about the letters of my friends which I have to answer, and various domestic and casual engagements to which I am obliged to attend!)
You do well, therefore, to pray for me; for I am oppressed with many afflictions, and much hindered from the performance of my sacred duties; — my whole life is a cross to me! I have now in hand the xxii. Psalm, “My God, my God, &c.;” and I had hopes of completing a Commentary on the whole Book of Psalms, if Christ should give us a sufficient interval of peace, so that I could devote my whole time and attention to it: but now, I cannot devote a fourth part of my time to such a purpose: nay, the time that I do devote to it, is but a few stolen moments.
You do right in admonishing me of my want of moderation: I feel my deficiency myself; but I find that I have not command over my own mind: I am carried away from myself, as it were, by a certain vehement zeal of spirit, while I am conscious that I wish evil to no one, though all my adversaries press in upon me with such maddened fury: so that, in fact, I have not time to consider who my enemies are, nor what various treatment they require. Pray, therefore, the Lord for me, that I may have wisdom to speak and write that which shall please him and become me, and not what may appear becoming to them. And now, farewell in Christ.
Wittenberg, A. D. 1521.