Jena forward to Chemnitz on The Lord's Supper

The dean and the members of the theological faculty of the University of Jena greet the saintly reader in the Lord.

"A double calamity as befallen our age in the form of an overabundance of literary production. In the first place, the frightful maliciousness of the writing wears out most readers, and the pens of many are so contentious that they scarcely understand their own writing....

From this results a twofold detriment to the state of public letters. First, the earth is buried by such a flood of useless new books that nothing as become more worthless, nothing more contemptible, nothing more despicable than the very book which were at one time of the greatest value. In fact, the same thing has most deservedly happened to this generation as befell the mad people of Athens under the tutelage of Thales. For just as he, in the brightness of the noonday sun, lit a torch in the midst of a raving mob of people and explained that he was looking for men, so today each piles up books for himself, no matter how worthless they may be.

The second detriment is that in writing new books, most of them are worthless and useless, we are at the same time losing the good old ones, that is, we are objecting to these books on the ground that they are the greatest hinderances to solid learning that we can imagine. Seneca wrote of some sick people that used changes in place of remedies. And in our love of novelty and variety we have the notion that progress in doctrine has been achieved. This notion is the sures hindrance to progress. For the very process through which books are produces creates this obvious hindrance. When printers everywhere use their presses to produce these worthless modern books, they charge high prices, use the most brilliant kinds of type and even the most elegant paper, so that those books which are good, even if old, either cannot find a printer or, if one does offer his services, such books cannot find anyone to help with the cost of the edition; or if the mater proceeds most fortunately, they get scarcely anything except unreliable and worn-out type and off-color and rough paper.

If it were only a human problem underlying this evil which afflicts the minds of good men, it would be a thing of little importance. But I am persuaded that this state of affairs has come about mainly by the cunningness of the devil, so that whatever benefit has come to the Christian world through the invention of printing for the propagation of the heavenly doctrine, the evil foe by his most clever misuse has corrupted, as it enters in to the heart of men. For this reason we must practice eve greater vigilance in all things which are good, so that the possession of this great benefit may not be forever lost to us through the malice of Satan. And we will be able to accomplish this if the only new books; published are good ones, or if at least the old books are reprinted; or to put it succinctly, if we deovote as much effort to preserving the old ones as we do in writing new ones."

This was published as a foreword to Chemnitz' The Lord's Supper in the Year of our Lord 1590. Nothing new under the sun, indeed...