History 3850 Readings
Müntzer preached this exposition on the second chapter of Daniel in front of a group of Dukes and nobles of Saxony in Allstedt, 13 July 1524. Once a follower of Luther, Müntzer had come to despise "Brother Soft-Lite," and this sermon was an appeal to the Protestant secular rulers to support Müntzer's own revolutionary vision.
Thomas Müntzer, "Sermon to the Princes," 1524
It is true - I know it for a fact - that the spirit of God is revealing to many elect and pious men at this time the great need for a full and final reformation in the near future. This must be carried out. For despite all attempts to oppose it the prophecy of Daniel retains its full force... This text of Daniel, then is as clear as the bright sun, and the work of ending the fifth Empire of the world is now in full swing. The first Empire is explained by the golden knob - that was the Babylonian - the second by the silver breastplate and arm-piece - that was the Empire of the Medes and Persians. The third was the Greek Empire, resonant with human cleverness, indicated by the bronze; the fourth the Roman Empire, an Empire won by the sword, an Empire won by force. But the fifth is the one we see before us, which is also of iron and would like to use force, but it is patched with dung...that is, with the vain schemings of hypocrisy, which swarms and slithers over the face of the whole earth. ...What a pretty spectacle we have before us now - all the eels and snakes coupling together immorally in one great heap! The priests and all the evil clerics are the snakes, as John [the baptist]...called them...and the secular lords and rulers are the eels, symbolised by the fishes in Leviticus 11.
Therefore, my dearest, most revered rulers, learn true judgment from the mouth of God himself. Do not let yourself be seduced by your hypocritical priests into a restraint based on counterfeit clemency and kindness. ...Only seek without delay the righteousness of God and take up the cause of the gospel boldly. ...King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to kill his wise men because they were unable to expound the dream. It was no more than they deserved. ...Our clergy today are in the same position. I know this for a fact, that if the plight of the Christian people really came home to you and you put your mind to it properly then you would develop the same zeal as King Jehu showed, 2 Kings 9, 10, and as we find throughout the whole book of Revelation. And I know this for a fact that you would have the very greatest difficulty not to resort to the power of the sword. For the condition of the holy people of Christ has become so pitiable, that up to now not even the most eloquent tongue could do it justice. Therefore a new Daniel must arise and expound your dreams to you and...he must be in the vanguard, leading the way. He must bring about a reconciliation between the wrath of the princes and the rage of the people. For once you really grasp the plight of the Christian people as a result of the treachery of the false clergy and the abandoned criminals your rage against them will be boundless, beyond all imagining. ...For they have made such a fool of you that everyone swears by the saints that in their official capacity princes are just pagans, that all they have to do is to maintain civic order. Alas, my fine fellow, the great stone will come crashing down soon and smash such rational considerations to the ground, as Christ says in Matthew 10: 'I am not come to send peace, but he sword.' But what is one to do with the sword? Exactly this: sweep aside those evil men who obstruct the gospel! Take them out of circulation! Otherwise you will be devils,... Have no doubts that God will mash all your adversaries into little pieces... Now if you are to be true rulers, you must seize the very roots of government, following the command of Christ. Drive his enemies away from the elect; you are the instruments to do this. My friend, don't let us have any of these hackneyed posturings, about the power of God achieving everything without any resort to your sword; otherwise it may rust in its scabbard. ...Hence the sword, too, is necessary to eliminate the godless. To ensure, however, that this now proceeds in a fair and orderly manner, our revered fathers, the princes, who with us confess Christ, should carry it out. But if they do not carry it out the sword will be taken from them (Daniel 7), for then they would confess him in words but deny him in deeds. ...The tares have to be torn out of the vineyard of God at harvest-time.
...There is no doubt that many...will be similarly offended by this little book, because I say with Christ...and with the guidance of the whole divine law, that one should kill the godless rulers, and especially the monks and priests who denounce the holy gospel as heresy and yet count themselves the best Christians. ...For the godless have no right to live, unless by the sufferance of the elect... So be bold! He to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth is taking the government into his own hands.