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Balthasar Hübmaier

Robbing Bands of the Peasants.[1] The violence and coarseness of the abuse that he poured upon the peasants,—the justice of whose cause he had explicitly approved a short time before, [2]—his eager advocacy of a policy of extermination by the princes, the bloodthirsty exhortations to the nobles to show no compassion, but to smite as long as they could move a muscle, disgusted and disconcerted his own friends and closest adherents. Ever since that crisis, admirers of Luther have been compelled to apologise for and extenuate his conduct as best they might. But Hübmaier makes no such demands upon his biographer. His tractate, On the Sword, is temperate in language and thoroughly Christian in its tone. He said nothing for which he need blush or we apologise. No contrast could be greater.

In truth, we see Hübmaier here at his best as a controversialist. The tractate shows great familiarity with the Scriptures and clear understanding of their meaning,
  1. Luther's German Works, Erlangen ed., xxiv., 287 sq. Walch ed., xvi., 91 sq. This appears in an English version in Historical Leaflets, No. 4, edited by Henry C. Vedder, Crozer Theological Seminary, 1901.
  2. Luther's German Works, Erlangen ed., xxiv., 257 sq. Walch ed., xv., 58 sq. An English translation may be found in Michelet's Life of Luther (Bohn ed.), pp. 161-180.