S BREAK WITH ROME 249
farce." <r Why does the Pope, who is richer than Croesus, not build St. Peter's with his own money rather than with the pennies of the Christian poor?'* This was the most harmless of his dicta. It went straight to the point in true German style and was timely; but other theses went much farther. They were protests against the ministry of the Church to souls, proclaimed in the name of the Gospel as Luther understood it. All this took place on the Eve of All Saints, which is the feast of the unity of the Church Triumphant. The most majestic conception of the primitive Church, to which Luther surely wished to lead his time back again, was therewith undermined; everything that occurred in addition tore asunder more and more irreparably the ancient Christian spirit of communion, the basic idea of die Church, Not even the most despicable of the Popes had rent asunder the soul of Christianity. Yet precisely this it was which the tirades of Rome's antagonist demolished.
As yet neither he nor his country understood what had happened. Within fourteen days the theses and the name of Luther were known throughout all Germany. The Princes showered praises upon him because he had dammed up the stream of German gold that was pour- ing over the Alps. The monasteries and religious foundations took his part because their own indulgence privileges were once more held in honour. The people sang his praises because he said it was far nobler to help a poor person than to erect costly temples. Learned young humanists and the revolutionary knights of the Empire were less delighted with his version of Christianity than with his attack on the "anti-Christ in Rome." This widespread acclaim enabled Luther for a short time to appease his heart, which was still tormented by scruples and anxieties. Fame was like a charming lullaby that spoke of approaching better times. But the battle with Rome had begun, the seed of disunity sprouted, and as days and years went by the sower saw ripening a terrible harvest he had not desired. In his person the whole Germanic spirit had revolted in its dual nature, which is compounded of childlike candour and barbaric savagery. A nature which was religious to the core drew a sword against the objective truth of religion, out of yearning for holiness and out of pious shudder- ing in the presence of a just God enthroned above an unjust world.
Soon this man of God saw himself involved in a universal revolt