On April 14, 1519, Erasmus wrote from Antwerp to Frederick, the able Elector of Saxony, saying that of Luther’s writings he had so far read only certain extracts.4 Every one, he said, who had religion at heart read these books with the greatest sympathy. “All who were conversant with his life approved of it, since he was above every suspicion of ambition. The purity of his character is such that he even wins over the heathen. No one has shown his error or refuted him, and yet they call him a heretic.*
That friendly sentiment would soon be slaughtered on the altar of free will.
*Robert H. Murray, Erasmus & Luther: Their Attitude to Toleration (London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Co., 1920), 75.