Worse, Augustus [the first Emperor of Rome, who as Octavius when
Ceasar was murdered in 44 BCE, ascended to absolute power over the
Roman Empire, taking the title of Augustus] ordered and paid the
[Jewish]priests of the Temple [on the Mount in Jerusalem] to sacrifice
twice a day on behalf of himself, the Roman senate and people.


Another parallel -- perhaps loose -- to yagyas -- the sale
ofIndulgences that Luther rebelled against, starting the Reformation.

The note tacked on the door ...

Martin Luther: Letter to the Archbishop of Mainz, 1517

Luther wrote to the Archbishop protesting the sale of indulgences to
finance the building of a new cathedral. The Archbishop, of course,
was one of the people who had authorized the sale of indulgences for
that purpose. Note the objections Luther states towards indulgences
and their use by church officials.

To the Most Reverend Father in Christ and Most Illustrious Lord,
Albrecht of Magdeburg and Mainz, Archbishop and Primate of the Church,
Margrave of Brandenburg, etc., his own lord and pastor in Christ,
worthy of reverence and fear, and most gracious.


The grace of God be with you in all its fulness and power! Spare me,
Most Reverend Father in Christ and Most Illustrious Prince, that I,
the dregs of humanity, have so much boldness that I have dared to
think of a letter to the height of your Sublimity. The Lord Jesus is
my witness that, conscious of my smallness and baseness, I have long
deferred what I am now shameless enough to do, -- moved thereto most
of all by the duty of fidelity which I acknowledge that I owe to your
most Reverend Fatherhood in Christ. Meanwhile, therefore, may your
Highness deign to cast an eye upon one speck of dust, and for the sake
of your pontifical clemency to heed my prayer. Papal indulgences for
the building of St. Peter's are circulating under your most
distinguished name, and as regards them, I do not bring accusation
against the outcries of the preachers, which I have not heard, so much
as I grieve over the wholly false impressions which the people have
conceived from them; to wit, -- the unhappy souls believe that if they
have purchased letters of indulgence they are sure of their salvation;
again, that so soon as they cast their contributions into the
money-box, souls fly out of purgatory; furthermore, that these graces
[i.e., the graces conferred in the indulgences] are so great that
there is no sin too great to be absolved, even, as they say -- though
the thing is impossible -- if one had violated the Mother of God;
again, that a man is free, through these indulgences, from all penalty
and guilt.

O God, most good! Thus souls committed to your care, good Father, are
taught to their death, and the strict account, which you must render
for all such, grows and increases. For this reason I have no longer
been able to keep quiet about this matter, for it is by no gift of a
bishop that man becomes sure of salvation, since he gains this
certainty not even by the "inpoured grace" of God, but the Apostle
bids us always "work out our own salvation in fear and trembling," and
Peter says, "the righteous scarcely shall be saved." Finally, so
narrow is the way that leads to life, that the Lord, through the
prophets Amos and Zechariah, calls those who shall be saved "brands
plucked from the burning," and everywhere declares the difficulty of
salvation. Why, then, do the preachers of pardons, by these false
fables and promises, make the people careless and fearless? Whereas
indulgences confer on us no good gift, either for salvation or for
sanctity, but only take away the external penalty, which it was
formerly the custom to impose according to the canons.

Finally, works of piety and love are infinitely better than
indulgences, and yet these are not preached with such ceremony or such
zeal; nay, for the sake of preaching the indulgences they are kept
quiet, though it is the first and the sole duty of all bishops that
the people should learn the Gospel and the love of Christ, for Christ
never taught that indulgences should be preached. How great then is
the horror, how great the peril of a bishop, if he permits the Gospel
to be kept quiet, and nothing but the noise of indulgences to be
spread among his people! Will not Christ say to them, "straining at a
gnat and swallowing a camel"? In addition to this, Most Reverend
Father in the Lord, it is said in the Instruction to the Commissaries
which is issued under your name, Most Reverend Father (doubtless
without your knowledge and consent), that one of the chief graces of
indulgence is that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled
to God, and all the penalties of purgatory are destroyed. Again, it is
said that contrition is not necessary in those who purchase souls [out
of purgatory] or buy confessionalia.

But what can I do, good Primate and Most Illustrious Prince, except
pray your Most Reverend Fatherhood by the Lord Jesus Christ that you
would deign to look [on this matter] with the eye of fatherly care,
and do away entirely with that treatise and impose upon the preachers
of pardons another form of preaching; lest, perchance, one may some
time arise, who will publish writings in which he will confute both
them and that treatise, to the shame of your Most Illustrious
Sublimity. I shrink very much from thinking that this will be done,
and yet I fear that it will come to pass, unless there is some speedy

These faithful offices of my insignificance I beg that your Most
Illustrious Grace may deign to accept in the spirit of a Prince and a
Bishop, i.e., with the greatest clemency, as I offer them out of a
faithful heart, altogether devoted to you, Most Reverend Father, since
I too am a part of your flock.

May the Lord Jesus have your Most Reverend Fatherhood eternally in His
keeping. Amen.

>From Wittenberg on the Vigil of All Saints, MDXVII.

If it please the Most Reverend Father he may see these my
Disputations, and learn how doubtful a thing is the opinion of
indulgences which those men spread as though it were most certain.

To the Most Reverend Father, BROTHER MARTIN LUTHER.

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