Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions

VIII. Luther's Efforts at Restoring Catechetical Instruction.

81. Modern Researches Respecting Luther’s Catechisms.

Besides G. v. Zezschwitz (_System der christlich-kirchlichen Katechetik, 3 volumes, 1862 to 1874) and numerous other contemporary and later students, G. Buchwald, F. Cohrs, and O. Albrecht have, since the middle of the past century, rendered no mean service by their researches pertaining to Luther’s Catechisms. Buchwald edited the three series of sermons on the Five Chief Parts which Luther delivered in 1528, pointed out their important bearing on his Catechisms, and shed new light on their origin by discovering and exploiting the Stephan Roth correspondence. He published the results of his labors in 1894 under the title, “The Origin of the Two Catechisms of Luther and the Foundation of the Large Catechism. _Die Entstehung der beiden Katechismen Luthers und die Grundlage des Grossen Katechismus.” F. Cohrs enriched this department of knowledge by his articles in the third edition of Herzog’s Realenzyklopaedie, and especially by his five-volume work on The Evangelical Catechism - Attempts Prior to Luther’s Enchiridion, in Monumenta Germaniae Paedagogica, 1900 to 1907. In 1905 0. Albrecht was entrusted with the preparation of Luther’s Catechisms for the Weimar Critical Edition of Luther’s Complete Works. He also contributed the extensive historical sections of the first of the three parts of Vol. 30, where the Catechisms are treated.

This first part of 826 pages, which appeared in 1910, represents the latest important research work on the origin of Luther’s Catechisms. In its preface R. Drescher says: “The writings of 1529 to 1530, in their totality, were a difficult mountain, and it gives us particular joy finally to have surmounted it. And the most difficult and laborious part of the way, at least in view of the comprehensive treatment it was to receive, was the publication of the Large and the Small Catechism, including the three series of Catechism Sermons. . . . The harvest which was garnered fills a large volume of our edition.”

82. Meaning of the Word Catechism.

The term catechismus (catechism), like its related terms, catechesis, catechizari, catechumeni, was common in the ancient Church. In his Glossarium, Du Cange defines it as “institutio puerorum etiam recens natorum, antequam baptizentur - the instruction of children, also those recently born, before their baptism.” The synonymous expression, catechesis, he describes as “_institutio primorum fidei Christianae rudimentorum, de quibus ‘chatecheseis’ {Greek} suas scripsit S. Cyrillus Jerusolymitanus - instruction in the first rudiments of the Christian faith, about which St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote his catechizations.” (2, 222 f.) Also Luther was acquainted with this usage in the ancient Church. He began his Catechism sermon of November 30, 1528, with the words: “These parts which you heard me recite the old Fathers called catechism, i. e., a sermon for children, which children should know and all who desire to be Christians.” (Weimar 30, 1, 57.) At first Luther seems to have employed the term but seldom; later on, however, especially after 1526, more frequently. Evidently he was bent on popularizing it. Between the Preface and the Decalog of the first Wittenberg book edition of the Small Catechism we find the title, “A Small Catechism or Christian Training - _Ein kleiner Katechismus oder christliche Zucht.” No doubt, Luther added the explanation “christliche Zucht” because the word catechism had not yet become current among the people. May 18, 1528, he began his sermon with the explanation: “Catechismus dicitur instructio - Catechism is instruction”; likewise the sermon of September 14: “Catechism, i.e., an instruction or Christian teaching”; the sermon of November 30: “Catechism, i.e., a sermon for children.” In the Preface to his Small Catechism he again explains the term as “Christian doctrine.” Thus Luther endeavored to familiarize the people with the word catechism.

The meaning of this term, however, is not always the same. It may designate the act of instructing, the subject-matter or the doctrine imparted, a summary thereof, the text of the traditional chief parts, or a book containing the catechismal doctrine, text, or text with explanation. Luther used the word most frequently and preferably in the sense of instruction. This appears from the definitions quoted in the preceding paragraph, where catechism is defined as “sermon …. instruction … Christian training,” etc. “You have the catechism” (the doctrine), says Luther, “in small and large books.” Bugenhagen defines thus: “Katechisnius, dat is, christlike underrichtinge ut den teyn gebaden Gades.” In the Apology, Melanchthon employs the word catechism as identical with ‘chatechesis’ {Greek} puerorum, instruction of the young in the Christian fundamentals. (324, 41.) “Accordingly,” says 0. Albrecht, “catechism means elementary instruction in Christianity, conceived, first, as the act; then, as the material for instruction; then, as the contents of a book; and finally, as the.book itself. This usage must be borne in mind also where Luther speaks of his own Catechisms. “German Catechism” means instruction in, or preaching on, the traditional chief parts in the German language. And while “Enchiridion” signifies a book of small compass, the title “Small Catechism” (as appears from the old subtitle: “Ein kleiner Katechismus oder christliche Zucht") means instruction in the chief parts, proceeding with compact brevity, and, at the same time, these parts themselves together with the explanations added. (W. 30, 1, 454. 539.) As the title of a book the word catechism was first employed by Althamer in 1528, and by Brenz as the subtitle of his “Questions” (Fragestueeke). A school-book written by John Colet in the beginning of the sixteenth century bears the title “Catechyzon, The Instructor.” (456.)

Not every kind of Christian instruction, however, is called catechism by Luther. Whenever he uses the word, he has in mind beginners, children, and unlearned people. In his “German Order of Worship, Deutsche Messe,” of 1526, he writes: “Catechism is an instruction whereby heathen who desire to become Christians are taught and shown what they must believe, do, not do, and know in Christianity; hence the name catechumens was given to pupils who were accepted for such instruction and who learned the Creed previous to their baptism.” (19, 76.) In his sermon of November 30, 1528: “The Catechism is a sermon for children, which the children and all who desire to be Christians must know.

Whoever does not know it cannot be numbered among the Christians. For if he does not know these things, it is evident that God and Christ mean nothing to him.” (30, 1, 57.) In his sermon of September 14: “This [catechism] is preaching for children, or, the Bible of the laity, which serves the plain people. Whoever, then, does not know these things, and is unable to recite them and understand them, cannot be considered a Christian. It is for this reason, too, that it bears the name catechism, i. e., instruction and Christian teaching, since all Christians at the very least should know this much. Afterward they ought to learn more of the Scriptures. Hence, let all children govern themselves accordingly, and see that they learn it.” (27.) May 18 Luther began his sermon thus: “The preaching of the Catechism was begun that it might serve as an instruction for children and the unlearned…. For every Christian must necessarily know the Catechism. Whoever does not know it cannot be numbered among the Christians.” (2.) In the short Preface to the Large Catechism: “This sermon is designed and undertaken that it might be an instruction for children and the simple-minded. Hence, of old it was called in Greek catechism, i. e., instruction for children, what every Christian must needs know, so that he who does not know this could not be numbered with the Christians nor be admitted to any Sacrament.” (CONC.TRIGL., 575, 1; 535, 1 1.)

83. Chief Parts of Catechism.

In Luther’s opinion the elementary doctrines which form the subject-matter of the Catechism arc comprised in the three traditional parts: Decalog, Creed, and Lord’s Prayer. These he considered to be the gist of the doctrine every one must learn if he would be regarded and treated as a Christian. “Those who are unwilling to learn it,” says Luther, “should be told that they deny Christ and are no Christians; neither should they be admitted to the Sacraments, accepted as sponsors at Baptism, nor exercise any part of Christian liberty.” (CONc. TRIGL. 535, 11.) Of course, Luther considered these three parts only a minimum, which, however, Christians who partake of the Lord’s Supper should strive to exceed, but still sufficient for children and plain people. (575, 5.) Even in his later years, Luther speaks of the first three parts as the Catechism proper.

However, probably in consequence of the controversy with the Enthusiasts, which began in 1524, Luther soon added as supplements the parts treating of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Confession. In the Large Catechism, where Baptism and the Lord’s Supper appear as appendices, Luther emphasizes the fact that the first three parts form the kernel of the Catechism, but that instruction in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper must also be imparted.

“These” (first three), says he, “are the most necessary parts, which one should first learn to repeat word for word…. Now, when these three parts are apprehended, it behooves a person also to know what to say concerning our Sacraments, which Christ Himself instituted Baptism and the holy body and blood of Christ, namely, the text which Matthew and Mark record at the close of their gospels, when Christ said farewell to His disciples and sent them forth.” (579, 20.) Luther regarded a correct knowledge of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper not only as useful, but as necessary. Beginning his explanation of the Fourth Chief Part, he remarks: “We have now finished the three chief parts of the common Christian doctrine. Besides these we have yet to speak of our two Sacraments instituted by Christ, of which also every Christian ought to have at least an ordinary, brief instruction, because without them there can be no Christian; although, alas! hitherto no instruction concerning them has been given.” (733, 1.) Thus Luther materially enlarged the Catechism. True, several prayer- and confession-books, which appeared - in the late Middle Ages, also treat of the Sacraments. As for the people, however, it was considered sufficient for laymen to be able to recite the names of the seven Roman sacraments. Hence Luther, in the passage cited from the Large Catechism, declares that in Popery practically nothing of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper was taught, certainly nothing worth while or wholesome.

84. Parts Inherited from Ancient Church.

The text of the first three chief parts, Luther considered a sacred heirloom from the ancient Church. “For,” says he in his Large Catechism, “the holy Fathers or apostles have thus embraced in a summary the doctrine, life, wisdom, and art of Christians, of which they speak and treat, and with which they are occupied.” (579, 19.) Thus Luther, always conservative, did not reject the traditional catechism, both bag and baggage, but carefully distinguished between the good, which he retained, and the worthless, which he discarded.

In fact, he no more dreamt of foisting a new doctrine or catechism on the Christian Church than he ever thought of founding a new church. On the contrary, his sole object was to restore the ancient Apostolic Church; and his catechetical endeavors were bent on bringing to light once more, purifying, explaining, and restoring, the old catechism of the fathers.

In his book Wider Hans Worst, 1541, Luther says: “We have remained faithful to the true and ancient Church; aye, we are the true and ancient Church. You Papists, however, have apostatized from us, i. e., from the ancient Church, and have set up a new church in opposition to the ancient Church.” In harmony with this view, Luther repeatedly and emphatically asserted that in his Catechism he was merely protecting and guardiiig an inheritance of the fathers, which he had preserved to the Church by his correct explanation. In his German Order of Worship we read: “I know of no simpler nor better arrangement of this instruction or doctrine than the arrangement which has existed since the beginning of Christendom,,viz., the three parts, Ten Commandments, Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer.” (W. 19,76.) In the ancient Church the original parts for catechumens and sponsors were the Symbolum and the Patemoster, the Apostles' Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

To these the Ten Commandments were added as a formal part of doctrine only since the thirteenth century. (30, 1, 434.) The usual sequence of these parts was: Lord’s Prayer, Apostles' Creed, and whenever it was not suppplanted by other mattere, the Decalog. It was with deliberation, then, that Luther substituted his own objective, Iogical order.

In his Short Form of the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer, 1520, Luther speaks as follows of the three traditional parts, which God preserved to the Church in spite of the Papacy: “It did not come to pass without the special providence of God, that, with reference to the common Christian, who cannot read the Scriptures, it was commanded to teach and to know the Ten Commandments, Creed, and Lord’s Prayer, which three parts indeed thoroughly and completely embrace all that is contained in the Scripture and may ever be preached, all also that a Christian needs to know, and this, too, in a form so brief and simple that no one can complain or offer the excuse that it is too much, and that it is too hard for him to remember what is essential to his salvation. For in order to be saved, a man must know three things: First, he must know what he is to do and leave undone. Secondly, when he realizes that by his own strength he is unable to do it and leave it undone, he must know where he may take, seek, and find that which will enable him to do and to refrain. Thirdly, he must know how he may seek and obtain it. Even as a sick man needs first of all to know what disease he has, what he may or may not do, or leave undone. Thereupon he needs to know where the medicine is which will help him, that he may do and leave undone like a healthy person. Fourthly, he must desire it, seek and get it, or have it brought to him. In like manner the commandments teach a man to know his disease, that lie may see and perceive what he can do and not do, leave and not leave, and thus perceive that he is a sinner and a wicked man. Thereupon the Creed holds before his eyes and teaches him where to find the medicine, the grace, which will help him become pious, that he may keep the commandments, and shows him God and His mercy as revealed and offered in Christ. Fifthly, the Lord’s Prayer teaches him how to ask for, get and obtain it, namely, by proper, humble, and comforting prayer. These three things comprise the entire Scriptures.” (W. 7, 204.) It was things such as the chief parts of the Catechism that Luther had in mind when he wrote against the fanatics, 1528: “We confess that even under the Papacy there are many Christian blessings, aye, all Christian blessings, and thence they have come to us: the true Holy Scriptures, true Baptism, the true Sacrament of the Altar, true keys for the forgiveness of sins, the true office of the ministry, the true catechism, such as the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Articles of Faith, etc.” (26, 147.) Luther’s meaning is, that in the midst of antichristendom and despite the Pope, the text of the three chief parts was, among other things, preserved to the Church.

85. Service Rendered Catechism by Luther.

The fact that the text of the three chief parts existed long before Luther does not detract from the service which he rendered the Catechism. Luther’s work, moreover, consisted in this, 1. that he brought about a general revival of the instruction in the Catechism of the ancient Church; 2. that he completed it by aqding the parts treating of Baptism, Confession, and the Lord’s Supper; 3. that he purged its material from all manner of papal ballast; 4. that he eliminated the Romish interpretation and adulteration in the interest of work-righteousness; 5. that he refilled the ancient forms with their genuine Evangelical and Scriptural meaning. Before Luther’s time the study of the Catechism had everywhere fallen into decay. There were but few who knew its text, and when able to recite it, they did not understand it. The soul of all Christian truths, the Gospel of God’s free pardon for Christ’s sake, had departed. Concerning “the three parts which have remained in Christendom from of old” Luther said that “little of it had been taught and treated correctly.” (CONC.TRIGL. 575, 6.)

In his Warning to My Dear Germans, of 1531, he enlarges on the same thought as follows: “Thanks to God, our Gospel has produced much and great good. Formerly no one knew what was Gospel, what Christ, what Baptism, what Confession, what Sacrament, what faith, what spirit, what flesh, what good works, what the Ten Commandments, what the Lord’s Prayer, what praying, what suffering, what comfort, what civil government, what matrimony, what parents, what children, what lords, what servant, what mistress, what maid, what devil, what angel, what world, what life, what death, what sin, what right, what forgiveness of sin, what God, what bishop, what pastor, what Church, what a Christian, what the cross. Sum, we knew nothing of what a Christian should know. Everything was obscured and suppressed by the papal asses. For in Christian matters they are asses indeed, aye, great, coarse, unlearned asses. For I also was one of them and know that in this I am speaking the truth. And all pious hearts who were captive under the Pope, even as I, will bear me out that they would fain have known one of these things, yet were not able nor permitted to know it. We knew no better than that the priests and monks alone were everything; on their works we based our hope of salvation and not on Christ. Thanks to God, however, it has now come to pass that man and woman, young and old, know the Catechism, and how to believe, live, pray, suffer, and die; and that is indeed a splendid instruction for consciences, teaching them how to be a Christian and to know Christ.” (W. 30, 3, 317.)

Thus Luther extols it as the great achievement of his day that now every one knew the Catechism, whereas formerly Christian doctrine was unknown or at least not understood aright. And this achievement is preeminently a service which Luther rendered. He revives once more the ancient catechetical parts of doctrine, placed them in the proper Biblical light, permeated them with the Evangelical spirit, and explained them in conformity with the understanding of the Gospel which he had gained anew, stressing especially the finis historiae (the divine purpose of the historical facts of Christianity, as recorded in the Second Article), the forgiveness of sins not by works of our own, but by grace, for Christ’s sake.

86. Catechetical Instruction before Luther.

In the Middle Ages the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed were called the chief parts for sponsors (Patenhauptstuecke), since the canons required sponsors to know them, and at Baptism they were obligated to teach these parts to their godehildren. The children, then, were to learn the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer from their parents and sponsors. Since the Carolingian Epoch these regulations of the Church were often repeated, as, for example, in the Exhortation to the Christian Laity of the ninth century. From the same century dates the regulation that an explanation of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer should be found in every parish, self-evidently to facilitate preaching and the examination in confession. In confession, which, according to the Lateran Council, 1215, everybody was required to make at least once a year, the priests were to inquire also regarding this instruction and have the chief parts recited. Since the middle of the thirteenth century the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, together with the Benedicite, Gratias, Ave Maria, Psalms, and other matter, were taught also in the Latin schools, where probably Luther, too, learned them. In the Instruction for Visitors, Melanchthon still mentions “der Kinder Handbuechlein, darin das Alphabet, Vaterunser, Glaub' und andere Gebet' innen stehen - Manual for Children, containing the alphabet, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and other prayers,” as the first schoolbook. (W. 26, 237.) After the invention of printing, chart-impressions with pictures illustrating the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments came into the possession also of some laymen. The poorer classes, however, had to content themselves with the charts in the churches, which especially Nicolaus of Cusa endeavored to introduce everywhere.

(Herzog’s Realenzyklopaedie 10, 138.) They were followed by confessional booklets, prayer-booklets, and also by voluminous books of devotion. Apart from other trash, these contained confessional and communion prayers, instructions on Repentance, Confession, and the Sacrament of the Altar; above all, however, a mirror of sins, intended as a guide for self-examination, on the basis of various lists of sins and catalogs of virtues, which, supplanting the Decalog, were to be memorized. Self-evidently, all this was not intended as a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ and to faith in the free grace of God, but merely to serve the interest of the Romish penances, satisfactions, and work-righteousness. Says Luther in the Smalcald Articles: “Here, too, there was no faith nor Christ, and the virtue of the absolution was not declared to him, but upon his enumeration of sins and his self-abasement depended his consolation. What torture, rascality, and idolatry such confession has produced is more than can be related.” (485, 20.) The chief parts of Christian doctrine but little taught and nowhere correctly taught, - such was the chief hurt of the Church under the Papacy.

In the course of time, however, even this deficient and false instruction gradually fell into decay. The influence of the Latin schools was not very far-reaching, their number being very small in proportion to the young. Public schools for the people did not exist in the Middle Ages. As a matter of fact, not a single synod concerned itself specifically with the instruction of the young. (H.R. 16,137.) At home, parents and sponsors became increasingly indifferent and incompetent for teaching. True, the reformers of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries did attempt to elevate the instruction also in the Catechism. Geiler’s sermons on the Lord’s Prayer were published. Gerson admonished: “The reformation of the Church must begin with the young,” and published sermons on the Decalog as models for the use of the clergy. John Wolf also urged that the young be instructed, and endeavored to substitute the Decalog for the prevalent catalogs of sins. The Humanists John Wimpheling, Erasmus, and John Colet (who wrote the Catechyzon, which Erasmus rendered into Latin hexameters) urged the same thing. Peter Tritonius Athesinus wrote a similar book of instruction for the Latin schools. However, all of these attempts proved ineffectual, and even if successful, they would have accomplished little for truly Christian instruction, such as Luther advocated, since the real essence of Christianity, the doctrine of justification, was unknown to these reformers.

Thus in the course of time the people, and especially the young, grew more and more deficient in the knowledge of even the simplest Christian truths and facts. And bishops and priests, unconcerned about the ancient canons, stolidly looked on while Christendom was sinking deeper and deeper into the quagmire of total religious ignorance and indifference. Without fearing contradiction, Melanchthon declared in his Apology: “Among the adversaries there is no catechization of the children whatever, concerning which even the canons give commands. . . . Among the adversaries, in many regions [as in Italy and Spain], during the entire year no sermons are delivered, except in Lent.” (325, 41.)

87. Medieval Books of Prayer and Instruction.

Concerning the aforementioned Catholic books of prayer and edification which, during the Middle Ages, served the people as catechisms, Luther, in his Prayer-Booklet of 1522 (which was intended to supplant the Romish prayer-books), writes as follows: “Among many other harmful doctrines and booklets which have seduced and deceived Christians and given rise to countless superstitions, I do not consider as the least the prayer-booklets, by which so much distress of confessing and enumerating sins, such unchristian folly in the prayers to God and His saints was inculcated upon the unlearned, and which, nevertheless, were highly puffed with indulgences and red titles, and, in addition, bore precious names, one being called Hortulus Animae, the other Paradisus Animae, and so forth. They are in sore need of a thorough and sound reformation, or to be eradicated entirely, a sentence which I also pass on the Passional or Legend books, to which also a great deal has been added by the devil.” (W. 10, 1, 375.)

The Hortulus Animae, which is mentioned even before 1500, was widely circulated at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It embraced all forms of edifying literature. Sebastian Brandt and Jacob Wimpheling helped to compile it. The Paradisus Animae had the same contents, but was probably spread in Latin only. The Hortulus Animae contains very complete rosters of sins and catalogs of virtues for “confessing and enumerating sins.” Among the virtues are listed the bodily works of mercy (Matt. 25, 35) and the seven spiritual works of mercy: to instruct the ignorant, give counsel to the doubtful, comfort the afflicted, admonish sinners, pardon adversaries, suffer wrong, and forgive the enemies.

Among the virtues were counted the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost: wisdom, understanding, ability, kindness, counsel, strength, and fear. Furthermore the three divine virtues: faith, hope, and charity. The four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. The eight beatitudes according to Matt. 5, 3 ff. The twelve counsels: poverty, obedience, chastity, love of enemies, meekness, abundant mercy, simplicity of words, not too much care for temporal things, correct purpose and simplicity of deeds, harmony of doctrine and works, fleeing the cause of sin, brotherly admonition. Finally also the seven sacraments. The list of sins contains the nine foreign sins, the six sins against the Holy Ghost, the four sins that cry to God for vengeance, the five senses, the Ten Commandments, and the seven mortal sins: pride, covetousness, unchastity, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. Each of these mortal sins is again analyzed extensively. The Weimar edition of Luther’s Works remarks: “If these catalogs were employed for self-examination, confusion, endless torment, or complete externalization of the consciousness of sin was bound to result. We can therefore understand why the Reformer inveighs against this ‘enumerating of sins."'(10, 2, 336.)

The Hortulus Animae also shows how Luther was obliged to purge the Catechism from all manner of “unchristian follies,” as he calls them. For the entire book is pervaded by idolatrous adoration of the saints. An acrostic prayer to Mary addresses her as mediatrix, auxiliatrix, reparatrix, illuminatrix, advocatrix. In English the prayer would read as follows: “O Mary, thou mediator between God and men, make of thyself the medium between the righteous God and me, a poor sinner! 0 Mary, thou helper in all anguish and need, come to my assistance in all sufferings, and help me resist and strive against the evil spirits and overcome all my temptations and atfflictions. 0 Mary, thou restorer of lost grace to all men, restore unto me my lost time, my sinful and wasted life! 0 Mary, thou illuminator, who didst give birth to the eternal Light of the whole world, illumine my blindness and ignorance, lest I, poor sinner that I am, enter the darkness of eternal death! 0 Mary, thou advocate of all miserable men, be thou mv advocate at my last end before the stern judgment of God, and obtain for me the grace and the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ! Amen.” Another prayer calls Mary the “mighty queen of heaven, the holy empress of the angels, the one who stays divine wrath.” A prayer to the eleven thousand virgins reads as follows: “O ye, adorned with chastity, crowned with humility, clad with patience, covered with the blossoms of virtue, well polished with moderation - 0 ye precious pearls and chosen virgin maids, help us in the hour of death!” With this idolatry and saint-worship silly superstition was combined. In order to be efficacious, a certain prayer prescribed in the _Hortulus must be spoken not only with “true contrition and pure confession,” but also “before a figure which had appeared to St. Gregory.” Whoever offers a certain prayer “before the image of Our Lady in the Sun” “will not depart this life unshriven, and thirty days before his death will see the very adorable Virgin – Mary prepared to help him.” Another prayer is good “for pestilence” when spoken “before the image of St. Ann”; another prayer to St. Margaret profits “every woman in travail”; still another preserves him who says it from “a sudden death.” All of these promises, however, are far surpassed by the indulgences assured. The prayer before the apparition of St. Gregory obtains 24,600 years and 24 days of indulgence; another promises “indulgence for as many days as our Lord Jesus Christ received wounds during His passion, viz., 5,475.” Whoever prays the Bridget-prayers not only obtains indulgence for himself, but 15 souls of his kin are thereby delivered from purgatory, 15 sinners converted, and 15 righteous “confirmed and established in their good standing.” (W. 10, 2, 334.)

Also in the chart booklets for the Latin schools of the Middle Ages the Ave Maria and Salve Regina played an important part. Such were the books which, before Luther, were to serve the people as catechisms, or books of instruction and prayer. In them everything, even what was right and good in itself, such as the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Decalog, was made to serve Romish superstition and work-righteousness. Hence one can easily understand why Luther demanded that they be either thoroughly reformed or eradicated.

Indeed, the dire need of the Church in this respect was felt and lamented by none sooner and more deeplv than Luther. Already in his tract To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation,, 1520. he complained that Christian instruction of the young was being neglected. He writes: “Above all, the chief and most common lesson in the higher and lower schools ought to be the Holy Scriptures and for the young boys, the Gospel. Would to God every city had also a school for girls, where the little maids might daily hear the Gospel for an hour, either in German or in Latin! Truly, in the past the schools and convents for men and women were founded for this purpose, with very laudable Christian intention, as we read of St. Agnes and other saints. There grew up holy virgins and martyrs, and Christendom fared very well. But now it amounts to nothing more than praying and singing. Ought not, indeed, every Christian at the age of nine or ten years know the entire holy Gospel, in Which his name and life is written? Does not the spinner and the seamstress teach the same handcraft to her daughter when she is still young? But now even the great men, the learned prelates and bishops, do not know the Gospel. How unjustly do we deal with the poor youth entrusted to us, failing, as we do, to govern and instruct them! What a severe reckoning will be required of us because we do not set before them the Word of God! For unto them is done as Jeremiah says, Lam. 2, 11. 12: ‘Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers’ bosom.’ But we do not see the wretched misery, how the young people, in the midst of Christendom, now also languish and perish miserably for lack of the Gospel, in which they should always be instructed and drilled.” (W. 6, 461; E. 21, 349.)

88. Church Visitation Reveals Deplorable Ignorance.

The Saxon Visitation brought to light such a total decay of all Christian knowledge and of Christian instruction as even Luther had not anticipated. Aside from other evils (clergymen cohabiting with their cooks, addicted to drink, or even conducting taverns, etc.), the people, especially in the villages, were found to be grossly ignorant of even the simplest rudiments of Christian doctrine and most unwilling to learn anything, while many pastors were utterly incompetent to teach. According to the official records, one priest, who enjoyed a great reputation as an exorcist, could not even recite the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed fluently. (Koestlin, Martin Luther, 2, 41.) Luther took part in the visitation of the Electoral circuit from the end of October till after the middle of November, 1528, and again from the end of December, 1528, till January, 1529, and on April 26, 1529, at Torgau, he, too, signed the report on visitation. When Luther therefore describes the decay of instruction in Popery, he speaks from personal experience. About the middle of January, 1529, he wrote to Spalatin, “Moreover, conditions in the congregations everywhere are pitiable, inasmuch as the peasants learn nothing, know nothing, never pray, do nothing but abuse their liberty, make no confession, receive no communion, as if they had been altogether emancipated from religion. They have neglected their papistical affairs (ours they despise) to such extent that it is terrible to contemplate the administration of the papal bishops.” (Enders 7, 45.) The intense heartache and mingled feelings which came over Luther when he thought of the ignorance which he found during the visitation, are described in the Preface to the Small Catechism as follows: “The deplorable, miserable condition which I discovered lately when I, too, was a visitor, has forced and urged me to prepare this Catechism, or Christian doctrine, in this small, plain, simple form. Mercy! Good God! what manifold misery I beheld! The common people, especially in the villages, have no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine, and, alas! many pastors are altogether incapable, and incompetent to teach. Nevertheless, all maintain that they are Christians, all have been baptized and receive the holy Sacrament. Yet they cannot recite either the Lord’s Prayer, or the Creed, or the Ten Commandments; they live like dumb brutes and irrational swine; and yet now that the Gospel has come, they have nicely learned to abuse alI liberty like experts. 0 ye bishops! what will ye ever answer to Christ for having so shamefully neglected the people and never for a moment discharged your office? May all misfortune flee you! You command the Sacrament in one form and insist on your human laws, and yet at the same time you do not care in the least whether the people know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, or any part of the Word of God. Woe, woe, unto you foreverI” (533, 1 ff.)

To these experiences made during the visitation, Luther also refers when he says in the Short Preface to the Large Catechism: “For I well remember the time, indeed, even now it is a daily occurrence that one finds rude, old persons who knew nothing and still know nothing of these things, and who, nevertheless, go to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and use everything belonging to Christians, notwithstanding that those who come to the Lord’s Supper ought to know more and have a fuller understanding of all Christian doctrine than children and new scholars.” (575, 5.) In his “Admonition to the Clergy” of 1530, Luther describes the conditions before the Reformation as follows: “In brief, preaching and teaching were in a wretched and heart-rending state. Still all the bishops kept silence and saw nothing new, although they are now able to see a gnat in the sun. Hence all things were so confused and wild, owing to the discordant teaching and the strange new opinions, that no one was any longer able to know what was certain or uncertain, what was a Christian or an unchristian.

The old doctrine of faith in Christ, of love, of prayer, of cross, of comfort in tribulation was entirely trodden down. Aye, there was in all the world no doctor who knew the entire Catechism, that is, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Creed, to say nothing of understanding and teaching it, as now, God be praised, it is being taught and learned, even by young children. In support of this statement I appeal to all their books, both of theologians and jurists. If a single part of the Catechism can be correctly learned therefrom, I am ready to be broken upon the wheel and to have my veins opened.” (W. 30, 1, 301.) Melanchthon, Jonas, Brenz, George of Anhalt, Mathesius, and many others draw a similar picture of the religious conditions prevailing in Germany, England, and other lands immediately prior to the Reformation. To be sure, Papists, particularly Jesuits, have disputed the accuracy and truth of these descriptions from the pen of Luther and his contemporaries. But arrayed against these Romish apologetes is also the testimony of Papists themselves. In his Catholicus Catechismus, published at Cologne, 1543, Nausea writes: “I endeavored to renew the instruction, once well known among all churches, which, however, not only recently, but long ago (I do not know to whose stupidity, negligence, or ignorance this was due) was altogether forgotten, not without lamentable loss to the catholic religion. _Veterem illam catechesin, per omnes quondam ecclesias percelebrem non modo tum, sed et ante pridem, nescio quorum vel socordia vel negligentia vel ignorantia, non sine poenitenda catholicae religionis iactura prorsus in oblivionem coeptam repetere coepi.” (W. 30, 1, 467.) Moreover, when Romanists dispute Luther’s assertions, they refer to the one point only, that religious instruction (as conceived by Catholics) had not declined in the measure claimed by Luther. As to the chief point in Luther’s assertion, however, viz., the correct Evangelical explanation of the Catechism, which, in Luther’s opinion, is essential to all truly Christian instruction, the Catholic Church has always been utterly devoid of it, not only prior to the Reformation, but also after it, and down to the present day. True, even during the Reformation some Papists were incited to greater zeal in preaching and teaching. It was a reaction against the Reformation of Luther, who must be regarded as the indirect cause also of the formal improvement in the instruction of the young among the Romanists. To maintain their power, bishops and priests were compelled to resume and cultivate it. This revival, however, meant only an intensified instruction in the old work-righteousness, and therefore was the very opposite of the instruction which Luther desired and advocated. In the Apology, Melanchthon, after charging the Papists with totally neglecting the instruction of the young, continues: “A few among them now also begin to preach of good works. But of the knowledge of Christ, of f aith, of the consolation of consciences they are unable to preach anything, moreover, this blessed doctrine, the precious holy Gospel, they call Lutheran.” (326, 44.)

89. Luther Devising Measures to Restore Catechism.

Fully realizing the general decav of Christian training, Luther at once directed all his efforts toward bringing about a change for the better. And well aware of the fact that the future belongs to the rising generation, the instruction of the common people, and particularly of the young, became increasingly an object of his especial concern. If the Church, said he, is to be helped, if the Gospel is to be victorious, if the Reformation is to succeed, if Satan and Antichrist are to be dealt a mortal blow, a blow from which they will not recover, it must be done through the young. For every cause which is not, or cannot be made, the cause of the rising generation, is doomed from the very outset. “This is the total ruin of the Church,” said Luther as early as 1516; “for if ever it is to flourish again, one must begin by instructing the young. _Haec est enim ecclesiae ruina tota; si enim unquam debet reflorere, necesse est, ut a puerorum institutions exordium fiat.” (W. 1, 494.) For, apart from being incapable of much improvement, the old people would soon disappear from the scene. Hence, if Christianity and its saving truths were to be preserved to the Church, the children must learn them from earliest youth.

In his Large Catechism Luther gave utterance to these thoughts as follows: “Let this, then, be said for exhortation, not only for those of us who are old and grown, but also for the young people, who ought to be brought up in the Christian doctrine and understanding. For thereby the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer might be the more easily inculcated upon our youth, so that they would receive them with pleasure and earnestness, and thus would practise them from their youth and accustom themselves to them. For the old are now well-nigh done for, so that these and other things cannot be attained, unless we train the people who are to come after us and succeed us in our office and work, in order that they also may bring up their children successfully, that the Word of God and the Christian Church may be preserved. Therefore let every father of a family know that it is his duty, by the injunction apd command of God, to teach these things to his children, or have them learn what they ought to know.” (773, 85.)

A thorough and lasting revival of the Catechism can be hoped for only through the young such were Luther’s convictions. Acoordingly he implored and adjured pastors and parents not to refuse their help in this matter. In the Preface to his Small Catechism we read: “Therefore I entreat you all for God’s sake, my dear sirs and brethren, who are pastors or preachers,to devote yourselves heartily to your office, to have pity on the people who are entrusted to you, and to help us inculcate the Catechism upon the people, especially upon the young.” (533, 6.) And as he earnestly admonished the pastors, so he also tenderly invited them to be faithful in this work. He was firmly convinced that nothing except the Gospel, as rediscovered and preached by himself, was able to save men. How, then, could he remain silent or abandon this work because of the hatred and ungratefulness of men! It was this new frame of mind, produced by the Gospel, to which Luther,appealed in the interest of the Catechism. “Therefore look to it, ye pastors and preachers,” says he, concluding the Preface to his Small Catechism. “Our office is now become a different thing from what it was under the Pope; it is now become serious and salutary. Accordingly it now involves much more trouble and labor, danger and trials, and in addition thereto, secures but little reward and gratitude in the world. But Christ Himself will be our reward if we labor faithfully.” (539, 26.)

At the same time Luther also took proper steps toward giving the preachers frequent opportunity for Catechism-work. Since 1525 Wittenberg had a regulation prescribing quarterly instruction in the Catechism by means of special sermons. The Instruction for Visitors, of 1527, demanded “that the Ten Commandments, the Articles of Faith, and the Lord’s Prayer be steadily preached and expounded on Sunday afternoons…. And when the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Creed have been preached on Sundays in succession, matrimony, and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper shall also be preached diligently. In this interest the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Articles of Faith shall be recited word for word, for the sake of the children and other simple and ignorant folk.” (W. 26, 230.) November 29, 1528, in an admonition to attend these Catechism-sermons, Luther proclaimed from the pulpit: “We have ordered, as hitherto has been customary with us, that the first principles and the fundamentals of Christian knowledge and life be preached four times each year, two weeks in each quarter, four days per week, at 10 A.M.” (W. 27, 444; 29, 146.) In Luther’s sermon of November 27, 1530, we read: “It is our custom to preach the Catechism four times a year. Therefore attend these services, and let the children and the rest of the household come.” (32, 209.) September 10, 1531, Luther concluded his sermon with the following admonition: “It is the custom, and the time of the Catechism-sermons is at hand. I admonish you to give these eight days to your Lord and permit your household and children to attend, and you yourself may also come and profit by this instruction. No one knows as much as he ought to know. For I myself am constrained to drill it every day. You know that we did not have it under the Papacy. Buy while the market is at the door; some day you will behold the fruit. We would, indeed, rather escape the burden, but we do it for your sakes.” (34, 2, 195.)

90. Cooperation of Parents Urged by Luther.

In order to bring the instruction of the young into vogue, Luther saw that church, school, and home must needs cooperate. The home especially must not fail in this. Accordingly, in his admonitions, he endeavored to interest the fathers and mothers in this work. He was convinced that without their vigorous cooperation he could achieve but little. In his German Order of Worship, 1526, we read: “For if the parents and guardians of the young are unwilling to take such pains with the young, either personally or through others, Catechism [catechetical instruction] will never be established.” (W. 19, 76.) In this he was confirmed by the experiences he had while on his tour of visitation. If the children were to memorize the Catechism and learn to understand it, they must be instructed and questioned individually, a task to which the Church was unequal, and for the accomplishment of which also the small number of schools was altogether inadequate. Parents, however, were able to reach the children individually. They had the time and opportunity, too, morning, noon, and evening, at the table, etc. Furthermore, they had the greatest interest in this matter, the children being their own flesh and blood. And they, in the first place, were commanded by God to provide for the proper training of their children. The fathers and mothers, therefore, these natural and divinely appointed teachers of the children, Luther was at great pains to enlist for the urgent work of instructing the young. They should see that the children and servants did not only attend the Catechism-sermons in church, but also memorized the text and learned to understand it. The Christian homes should again become home-churches, home-schools, where the housefathers were both house-priests and house-teachers, performing the office of the ministry there just as the pastors did in the churches.

With ever-increasing energy Luther, therefore, urged the parents to study the Catechism in order to be able to teach it to their children. In his sermons on the Ten Commandments, 1516, he admonishes them to bring up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. “But alas,” he exclaims, “how has not all this been corrupted! Nor is it to be wondered at, since the parents themselves have not been trained and educated.“In a sermon of 1526: “Here are two doctrines, Law and Gospel. Of them we preach frequently; but very few there are who take it to heart. I hear that many are still so ignorant that they do not know the Ten Commandments nor are able to pray. It plainly shows that they are altogether careless. Parents ought to see what their children and family are doing. In the school at home they should learn these three. I hear that in the city, too, there are wicked people. We cannot enter the homes; parents, masters, and mistresses ought to be sufficiently skilled to require their children and servants to say the prayers before retiring. But they do not know any themselves. What, then, avails it that we do a great deal of preaching concerning the kingdom of Christ? I thought conditions had improved. I admonish you master - for it is your duty - to instruct the servants, the mistress, the maids, and the children; and it is publicly. preached in church for the purpose that it may be preached at home."(W. 20, 485.)

In his sermon of September 14, 1528, Luther declares that the Catechism is the laymen’s Bible, which every one must know who wishes to be considered a Christian and to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper. He then proceeds: “Hence all children should behave accordingly, and learn. And you parents are bound to have your children learn these things. Likewise you lords, take pains that vour family, etc. Whoever does not know these things does not deserve any food. These five points are a brief summary of the Christian doctrine. When the question is put, ‘What is the First Commandment?’ every one should be able to recite: ‘Namely this,"’ etc. (W. 30, 1, 27.) Exhorting the people to attend the Catechism-services, Luther declared November 29, 1528: “Think not, ye housefathers, that you are freed from the care of your household when you say: ‘Oh, if they are unwilling to go [to Catechism instruction], why should I force them? I am not in need of it.’ You have been appointed their bishop and house-pastor; beware lest you neglect your duty toward them!” (27, 444.) On the following day, beginning the sermons he had announced, Luther said: “Therefore I have admonished you adults to have your children and vour servants, attend it [the Catechism-sermon), and also be present yourselves; otherwise we shall not admit you to Holy Communion. For if you parents and masters will riot help us, we shall accomplish little by our preaching. If I preach an entire year, the household comes, gapes at the walls and windows of the church, etc. Whoever is a good citizen is in duty bound to urge his people to learn these things; he should refuse them food unless, etc. If the servants complain, slam the door on them.

If you have children, accustom them to learn the Ten Commandments, the Symbol, the Paternoster, etc. If you will diligently urge them, they will learn much in one year. When they have learned these things, there are everywhere in the Scriptures fine passages which they may learn next; if not all, at least some. For this reason God has appointed you a master, a mistress, that you may urge your household to do this. And this vou are well able to accomplish: that they pray in the morning and evening, before and after meals. In this way they would be brought up in the fear of God. I am no idle prattler: I ask you not to cast my words to the winds. I would not think you so rude if I did not daily hear it.

Every housefather is a priest in his own house, every housemother is a priestess; therefore see that you help us to perform the office of the ministry in your homes as we do in church. If you do, we shall have a propitious God, who will defend us from all evil. In the Psalm [78, 51 it is written: ‘He appointed a law in Israel, which He, commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children."’ (30, 1, 57.) In the same sermon: “Able teachers are necessary because of the great need, since parents do not concern themselves about this. But each master and mistress must remember that they are priests and priestesses over Hans and Gretchen,” their sons and daughters.

In the same way Luther urges this matter in his Catechisms. For here we read: “Therefore it is the duty of every father of a family to question and examine his children and servants at least once a week and to ascertain what they know of it [the Catechism], or are learning, and, if they do not know it, to keep them faithfully at it.” (575, 4.) “Likewise every head of a household is obliged to do the same with respect to his domestics, man-servants and maid-servants, and not to keep them in his house if they do not know these things and are unwilling to learn them. For a person who is so rude and unruly as to be unwilling to learn these things is not to be tolerated; for in these three parts everything that we have in the Scriptures is comprehended in short, plain, and simple terms.” (577, 17.) “Therefore let every father of a family know that it is his duty, by the in junction and command of God, to teach these things to his children, or have them learn what they ought to know. For since they are baptized and received into the Christian Church, they should also enjoy this communion of the Sacrament, in order that they may serve us and be useful to us; for they must all indeed help us to believe, love, pray, and fight against the devil.” (773, 87.)

In confession and before visitors, house-fathers were also to render account of the manner in which they discharged these duties. In his sermon of July 11, 1529, Luther said: “You will therefore instruct your children and servants according to this Catechism…. For you have the Catechism in small and large books; therefore study it. You had the visitors, and you have furthermore those who will examine you housefathers and your household, that they mav see how you have improved…. You should have given money and property for it; yet you neglect it when it is offered freely; therefore you house-fathers ought to be diligent students of this preaching, that as you learn you may instruct, discendo doceatis.” (W. 29, 472; 30, 1, 121.)

91. German Services with German Catechism.

With great emphasis Luther advocated diligent Catechism instruction in his Deutsche Messe (German Mass, i. e., German Service or German Order of Worship), which he completed toward the end of 1525 and published in 1526. Luther issued this Service “because German masses and services are everywhere insisted upon.” The demand was made especially in the interest of the unlearned and the children, for whose benefit, according to Luther, all such measures were adopted. “For,” says he, “we do not at all establish such orders for those who are already [advanced] Christians…. But we are in need of such orders for the sake of those who are still to become Christians or to grow stronger. Just as a Christian does not need Baptism, the Word, and Sacrament as a Christian, since he already has everything, but as a sinner. Chiefly, however, this is done for the sake of the unlearned and the young people, who should and must be exercised daily and brought up in the Scriptures, the Word of God that thev mav become accustomed to the Scripture, skilled, fluent, and at home in it, in order that thev mav be able to defend their faith, and in time teach others and help to increase the kingdom of Christ. For their sake one must read, sing, preach, write, and compose. And if it would help and promote this aim, I would have all bells rung, all organs played, and everything that is capable of giving sound to sound forth. For the Catholic services are so damnable because they [the Papists] made laws, works, and merits of them, thereby smotheridg faith, and did not adapt them to the young and unlearned, to exercise them in the Scriptures, in the Word of God, but themselves clung to them [as works], regarding them as beneficial and necessary for salvation to themselves; that is the devil.”

While Luther, in his German Worship, as well as in other places, favors also Latin masses, yet he demands that “for the sake of the unlearned laity” German services be introduced. And since the unlearned could be truly served only by instruction in the fundamental truths of Christianity, the Catechism, according to Luther, was to constitute a chief part in these services. “Very well,” says he. “in God’s name! First of all a clear, simple,' plain, good Catechism is needed in the German service. Catechism, however, is an instruction whereby heathen who desire to become Christians are taught and instructed in what they must believe, do, not do, and know concerning Christianity. Pupils who were accepted for such instruction and learned the faith before being baptized were therefore called catechumens. Nor do I know how to present this instruction, or teaching, in a form more simple than it already has been presented since the beginning of Christianity, and hitherto retained, to wit, the three parts: the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. These three parts contain in simple and brief form everything that a Christian must know. And since as yet we have no special congregation (weil man noch keine sonderliche Gemeinde hat), this instruction must proceed in the following manner, by preaching from the pulpit at various times or daily, as necessity demands, and by repeating and reading it to the children and servants at home in the houses morning and evening (if one would make Christians of them). Yet not only so that they memorize the words or recite them, as was done hitherto, but by questioning them part for part, and having them state in their answer what each part means, and how they understand it. If all parts cannot be asked at one time, take one, the next day another. For if the parents or guardians are unwilling to take such pains with the young, either personally or through others, the Catechism will never be established.” (19, 76.) German Catechism in German services - such, then, was the slogan which Luther now sounded forth with ever-increasing emphasis.

92. Luther Illustrating Nethod of Procedure.

According to Luther’s German Worship, pastors were to rpeach the Catechism on Mondays and Tuesdays. To insure the desired results (memorizing and understanding the text), the children should be questioned, especially at home by the parents. Exemplifying such catechization, Luther writes: “For so shall they be asked: ‘What do you pray?’ Answer: ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ What do you mean by saying: ‘Our Father who art in heaven?’ Answer: ‘That God is not an earthly, but a heavenly Father, who would make us rich and blessed in heaven.’ ‘What does “Hallowed be Thy name” mean?’ Answer: ‘That we should honor God’s name and not use it in vain, lest it be profaned.’ ‘How, then, is it profaned and desecrated?’ Answer: ‘When we who are regarded as His children lead wicked lives, teach and believe what is wrong.’ And so forth, what God’s kingdom means; how it comes; what God’s will is; what daily bread, etc. Likewise also of the Creed: ‘What do you believe?’ Answer: ‘I believe in God the Father,’ etc. Thereupon part for part, as leisure permits, one or two at a time. Thus: ‘What does it mean to believe in God the Father Almighty?’ Answer: ‘It means that the heart trusts Him entirely, and confidently looks to Him for all grace, favor, help, and comfort, here and hereafter.’ ‘What does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ, His Son?’ Answer: ‘It means that the heart believes we should all be lost eternally if Christ had not died for us,’ etc. In like manner one must also question on the Ten Commandments, what the flrst, the second, the third and other commandments mean. Such questions you may take from our Prayer-Booklet, where the three parts are briefly explained, or you mav formulate others yourself, until they comprehend with their hearts the entire sum of Christian knowledge in two parts, as in two sacks, which are faith and love. Let faith’s sack have two pockets; into the one pocket put the part according to which we believe that we are altogether corrupted by Adam’s sin, are sinners and condemned, Rom. 5, 12 and Ps. 51, 7. Into the other pocket put the part telling us that by Jesus Christ we have all been redeemed from such corrupt, sinful, condemned condition, Rom. 5, I2 and John 3, 16. Let love’s sack also have two pockets. Into the one put this part, that we should serve, and do good to, every one, even as Christ did unto us, Rom. 13. Into the other put the part that we should gladly suffer and endure all manner of evil.” (19, 76.)

In like manner passages of Scripture were also to be made the child’s property, as it were; for it was not Luther’s idea that instruction should cease at the lowest indispensably necessary goal (the understanding of the text of the chief parts). In his German Order of Worship he goes on to say: “When the child begins to comprehend this [the text of the Catechism], accustom it to carry home passages of Scripture from the sermons and to recite them to the parents at the table, at meal-time, as it was formerly customary to recite Latin, and thereupon to store the passages into the sacks and pockets, as one puts pfennige, and groschen, or gulden into his pocket. Let the sack of faith be, as it were, the gulden sack. Into the first pocket let this passage be put, Rom. 5: ‘By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners’; and Ps. 51: ‘Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.’ Those are two Rheinish gulden in the pocket. The other pocket is for the Hungarian gulden, such as this passage, Rom. 5: ‘Christ was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification’; again, John 1: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ That would be two good Hungarian gulden in the pocket. Let love’s sack be the silver sack. Into the first pocket belong the passages of well-doing, such as Gal. 5: ‘By love serve one another’; Matt. 25: ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.’ That would be two silver groschen in the pocket. Into the other pocket this passage belongs, Matt. 5: ‘Blessed are ye when men shall persecute you for My sake’; Heb. 12: ‘For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth; He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.’ Those are two Schreckenbergers (a coin made of silver mined from Schreckenberg] in the pocket.” (19, 77 f.)

Believing that understanding, not mere mechanical memorizing, of the Catechism is of paramount import, Luther insisted that the instruction must be popular throughout. Preachers and fathers are urged to come down to the level of the children and to prattle with them, in order to bring the Christian fundamentals home even to the weakest and simplest. In his German Mass Luther concludes the chapter on instruction as follows: “And let no one consider himself too wise and despise such child’s play. When Christ desired to train men, He had to become a man. If we are to train children, we also must become children with them. Would to God that such child’s play were carried on well; then we should in a short time see a great wealth of Christian people, and souls growing rich in the Scriptures and the knowledge of God, until they themselves would give more heed to these pockets as locos communes and comprehend in them the entire Scriptures; otherwise they come daily to hear the preaching and leave again as they came. For they believe that the object is merely to spend the time in hearing, no one intending to learn or retain anything. Thus many a man will hear preaching for three, four years and still not learn enough to be able to give account of his faith in one particular, as I indeed experience every day. Enough has been written in books. True, but not all of it has been impressed on the hearts.” (19, 78.)

93. Value Placed on Memorizing.

Modern pedagogs have contended that Luther’s method of teaching the Catechism unduly multiplies the material to be memorized, and does not sufficiently stress the understanding. Both charges, however, are without any foundation. As to the first, it is true that Luther did not put a low estimate on the memorizing of the Catechism. In the Large Catechism he says: “Therefore we must have the young learn the parts which belong to the Catechism or instruction for children well, and fluently and diligently exercise themselves in them and keep them occupied with them. Hence it is the duty of every father of a family to question and examine his children and servants at least once a week, and to ascertain what they know of it, or are learning, and, if they do not know it, to keep them faithfully at it.” (575, 3 f.) Again: “These are the most necessary parts which one should first learn to repeat word for word, and which our children should be accustomed to recite daily when they arise in the morning, when they sit down to their meals, and when they retire at night; and until they repeat them, they should be given neither food nor drink.” (577, 15.)

According to the Preface to the Small Catechism, the teacher is to abide with rigid exactness by the text which he has once chosen, and have the children learn it verbatim. “In the first place,” says Luther, “let the preacher above all be careful to avoid many kinds of or various texts and forms of the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Sacraments, etc., but choose one form to which he adheres, and which he inculeates all the time, year after year. For voung and simple people must be taught by uniform, settled texts and forms, otherwise they easily become confused when the teacher to-day teaches them thus, and in a year some other way, as if he wished to make improvements, and thus all effort and labor will be lost. Also our blessed fathers understood this well; for they all used the same form of the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments. Therefore we, too, should teach the young and simple people these parts in such a way as not to change a syllable, or set them forth and repeat them one year differently than in another. Hence, choose whatever form you please, and adhere to it forever. But when you preach in the presence of learned and intelligent men, you may exhibit your skill, and may present these parts in as varied and intricate ways and give them as masterly turns as you are able. But with the young people stick to one fixed, permanent form and manner, and teach them, first of all, these parts, namely, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, etc., according to the text, word for word, so that they, too, can repeat it in the same manner after you and commit it to memory.” (533,7 ff.) Thus Luther indeed placed a high value on exact memorizing of the Catechism.

As to the quantity of memorizing, however, Luther did not demand more than even the least gifted were well able to render. He was satisfied if they knew, as a minimum, the text of the first three chief parts itnd the words of institution of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. (579, 22. 25.) That was certainly not over-burdening even a weak memory. Luther was right when he declared in his Short Form of the Ten Commandments, of 1520: In the three chief parts everything “is summed up with such brevity and simplicity that no one can complain or offer the excuse that it is too much or too hard for him to remember what he must know for his salvation.” (W. 7, 204.)

Self-evidently, it was not Luther’s opinion that instruction or memorizing should end here. In the Preface to the Small Catechism he says: “In the third place, after you have thus taught them this Short Catechism, then take up the Large Catechism, and give them also a richer and fuller knowledge. Here explain at length every commandment, petition, and part with its various works, uses, benefits, dangers, and injuries as you find these abundantly stated in many books written about these matters.” (535, 17.) Then, as Luther often repeats, Bible-verses, hymns, and Psalms were also to be memorized and explained. Nor did he exclude the explanation of the Small Catechism from the material for memorizing. For this very reason he had written the Small Catechism in questions and answers, because he wished to have it learned, questioned, and recited from memory. “However,” says Luther in the Large Catechism, “for the common people we are satisfied with the three parts, which have remained in Christendom from of old.” (575, 5.) As far, then, as the material for memorizing is concerned, Luther certainly did not demand more than even the least gifted were well able to render.

94. Memorizing to Serve Understanding.

The second charge, that Luther attached no special importance to the understanding of what was memorized, is still more unfounded. The fact is that everywhere he was satisfied with nothing less than correct understanding. Luther was a man of thought, not of mere sacred formulas and words. To him instruction did not mean mere mechanical memorizing, but conscious, personal, enduring, and applicable spiritual appropriation. Says he: “However, it is not enough for them to comprehend and recite these parts according to the words only, but the young people should also be made to attend the preaching, especially during the time which is devoted to the Catechism, that they may hear it explained, and may learn to understand what every part contains, so as to be able to recite it as they have heard it, and, when asked, may give a correct answer, so that the preaching may not be without profit and fruit.” (579, 26.) In the Preface fo the Small Catechism, Luther instructs the preachers: “After they [the children] have well learned the text, then teach them the sense also, so that they know what it means.” (535, 14.) Correct understanding was everything to Luther. Sermons in the churches and catechizations at home were all to serve this purpose.

In the same interest, viz., to enrich the brief text of the Catechism and, as it were, quicken it with concrete perceptions, Luther urged the use of Bible-stories as illustrations. For the same reason he added pictures to both of his Catechisms. His Prayer-Booklet contained as its most important part the text and explanation of the Catechism and, in addition, the passional booklet, a sort of Bible History. To this Luther remarks: “I considered it wise to add the ancient passional booklet [augmented by Luther] to the Prayer-Booklet, chiefly for the sake of the children and the unlearned, who are more apt to remember the divine histories if pictures and parables are added, than by mere words and teaching, as St. Mark testifies, that for the sake of the simple Christ, too, preached to them only in patrables.” (W. 10, 2, 458.) Indeed, Luther left no stone unturned to have his instruction understood. On words and formulas, merely memorized, but not appropriated intellectually, he placed but little value.

Memorizing, too, was regarded by Luther not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end. It was to serve the explanation and understanding. And its importance in this respect was realized by Luther much more clearly than by his modern critics. For when the text is safely embedded, as it were, in the memory, its explanation is facilitated, and the process of mental assimilation may proceed all the more readily. In this point, too, the strictures of modern pedagogs on Luther’s Catechism are therefore unwarranted. Where Luther’s instructions are followed, the memory is not overtaxed, and the understanding not neglected.

The instruction advocated by Luther differed fundamentally from the mechanical methods of the Middle Ages. He insisted on a thorough mental elaboration, by means of sermons, explanations, questions and answers, of the material memorized, in order to elevate it to the plane of knowledge. With Luther we meet the questions: “What does this mean? What does this signify? Where is this written? What does it profit?” He engages the intellect. The Table of Christian Life of the Middle Ages, which “all good Christians are in duty bound to have in their houses, for themselves, their children, and household,” is regarded by Cohrs as a sort of forerunner of Luther’s Small Catechism. “At the same time, however,” Cohrs adds, “it clearly shows the difference between the demands made by the Church of the Middle Ages and the requirements of the Evangelical Church; yonder, numerous parts without any word of explanation, sacred formulas, which many prayed without an inkling of the meaning: here, the five chief parts, in which the emphasis is put on ‘What does this mean?"'(Herzog, R. 10, 138.)

It was due to the neglect of Christian teaching that Christendom had fallen into decay. Force on the part of the popes and priests and blind submission on the part of the people had supplanted instruction and conviction from the Word of God. Hence the cure of the Church, first of all, called for an instructor in Christian fundamentals. And just such a catechist Luther was, who made it his business to teach and convince the people from the Bible. Indeed, in his entire work as a Reformer, Luther consistently appealed to the intellect, as was strikingly demonstrated in the turmoil which Carlstadt brought about at Wittenberg. Instruction was the secret, was the method, of Luther’s Reformation. In the Preface to the Small Catechism he says that one cannot and must not force any one to believe nor drive any one to partake of the Sacrament by laws, lest it be turned into poison, that is to say, lest the very object of the Gospel, which is spontaneous action flowing from conviction, be defeated. (539, 24; 535 13.

95. Manuals Preceding Luther’s Catechism.

When Luther, in his German Order of Worship, sounded the slogan: German services with German instruction in Christian fundamentals! he did not lose sight of the fact that this required certain helps for both parents and preachers. A book was needed that would contain not only the text to be memorized, but also necessary explanations. Accordingly, in his German Order of Worship, Luther referred to his Prayer-Booklet as a help for instruction. However, the Brief Form of the Ten Commandments, etc., incorporated in the Prayer-Booklet, was not adapted for children and parents, as it was not drawn up in questions and answers. To the experienced teacher it furnished material in abundance, but children and parents had need of a simpler book. Hardeland says: “It is certain that Luther in 1526 already conceived the ideal catechism to be a brief summary of the most important knowledge [in questions and answers], adapted for memorizing and still sufficiently extensive to make a thorough explanation possible, at once confessional in its tone, and fitted for use in divine service.” (Katechismusgedanken 2.) But if Luther in 1526 had conceived this idea, it was not carried out until three years later.

However, what Luther said on teaching the Catechism by questions and answers, in the German Order of Worship, was reprinted repeatedly (probably for the first time at Nuernberg) under the title: “Doctor Martin Luther’s instruction how to bring the children to God’s Word and service, which parents and guardians are in duty bound to do, 1527.” This appeal of Luther also called forth quite a number of other explanations of the Catechism. Among the attempts which appeared before Luther’s Catechisms were writings of Melanchthon, Bugenhagen, Eustasius Kannel, John Agricola, Val. Ickelsamer, Hans Gerhart, John Toltz, John Bader, Pettus Schultz, Caspar Graeter, Andr. Althamer, Wenz. Link, Conr. Sam, John Brenz, 0. Braunfels, Chr. Hegendorfer, Caspar Locner, W. Capito, John Oecolampad John Zwick, and others. The work of Althamer, the Humanist and so-called Reformer of Brandenburg-Ansbach, was the first to bear the title “Catechism.” As yet it has not been ascertained whether, or not, Luther was acquainted with these writings. Cohrs says: “Probably Luther followed this literature with interest, and possibly consulted some of it; the relationship is nowhere close enough to exclude chance; still, the frequent allusions must not be overlooked; as yet it cannot be simply denied that Luther was influenced by these writings.” On the other hand, it has been shown what an enormous influence Luther exercised on that literature, especially by his Brief Form and his Prayer-Booklet. “In fact,” s’ays Cohrs, “Luther’s writings can be adduced as the source of almost every sentence in most of these books of instruction.” (W. 30, 1, 474.) Evidently, Luther’s appeal of 1526 had not fallen on deaf ears.

96. Luther’s Catechetical Publications.

Luther not only stirred up others to bring the Catechism back into use, but himself put his powerful shoulder to the wheel. From the very beginning he was, time and again, occupied with reading the text of the Catechism to the people, and then explaining it in sermons. From the end of June, 1516, to Easter, 1517, he preached on the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. (W. 1, 394; 2, 74; 9, 122.) In 1518 the explanation of the Ten Commandments appeared in print: “Decem Praecepta Wittenbergensi Praedicata Populo. The Ten Commandments Preached to the People of Wittenberg.” (1, 398. 521.) Oecolampadius praised the work, saying that Luther had here “taken the veil from the face of Moses.” Sebastian Muenster said: Luther explains the Ten Commandments “in such a spiritual, Christian, and Evangelical way, that its like cannot be found, though many teachers have written on the subject.’ (1, 394.) Agricola published Luther’s sermons on the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of 1518 with some additions of his own, which fact induced Luther to publish them himself. April 5, 1519, his Explanation of the Lord’s Prayer in German appeared in print. It was intended for the plain people, “not for the learned.” (2, 81 to 130.) July 2, 1519, the Humanist Beatus Rhenanus wrote to Zwingli that he would like to see this explanation of the Lord’s Prayer offered for sale throughout all Switzerland, in all cities, markets, villages, and houses. Mathesius reports: “At Venice Doctor Martin’s Lord’s Prayer was translated into Italian, his name being omitted. And when the man saw it from whom the permission to print it was obtained, he exclaimed: Blessed are the hands that wrote this, blessed the eyes that see it, and blessed will be the hearts that believe this book and cry to God in such a manner.” (W. 2, 75.) This work passed through many editions. In 1520 it appeared in Latin and Bohemian, and as late as 1844 in English. March 13, 1519, Luther wrote to Spalatin: “I am not able to turn the Lord’s Prayer [Explanation of the Lord’s Prayer in German of 1518 into Latin, being busy with so many works. Everyday at the evening I pronounce the commandments and the Lord’s Prayer for the children and the unlearned, then I preach.” (Enders 1, 449.) Thus Luther preached the Catechism, and at the same time was engaged in publishing it.

The Brief Instruction How to Confess, printed 1519, was also essentially an explanation of the Ten Commandments. It is an extract from Luther’s Latin work, Instructio pro Confessione Peccatorum, published by Spalatin. Luther recast this work and published it in March, 1520, entitled: Confitendi Ratio. (W. 2, 59. 65.) As a late fruit of his Explanation of the Lord’s Prayer in German there appeared, in 1519, the _Brief Form for Understanding and Praying the Lord’s Prayer, which explains it in prayers (6,11-19.) In 1519 there appeared also his Short and Good Explanation Before Oneself and Behind Oneself (“vor sich und hinter sich”), a concise explanation of how the seven petitions must be understood before oneself (“vor sich”), i.e., being ever referred to God, while many thinking only of themselves, put and understand them behind themselves (“hinter sich”). (6, 21. 22.) June, I520, it was followed by the Brief Form of the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, a combination of the revised Brief Explanation of the Ten Commandments, of 1518, and the Brief Form for Understanding the Lord’s Prayer, of 1519, with a newly written explanation of the Creed. With few changes Luther embodied it in his Prayer-Booklet, which appeared for the first time in 1522. Here he calls it a “simple Christian form and mirror to know one’s sins, and to pray.” The best evidence of the enthusiastic reception of the Prayer-Booklet are the early editions which followed hard upon each other, and the numerous reprints durine the first years. (10, 2, 350-409.) In 1520 Luther’s sermons on Baptism, Confession, and the Lord’s Supper were also received into the Prayer-Booklet, and in 1529 the entire Small Catechism.

After his return from the Wartburg, Luther resumed his Catechism-labors with increased energy. March 27 Albert Burer wrote to Beatus Rhenanus: “Luther intends to nourish the weak, whom Carlstadt and Gabriel aroused by their vehement preaching, with milk alone until they grow strong. He daily preaches the Ten Commandments.” At Wittenberg special attention was given to the instruction of the young, and regular Catechism-sermons were instituted. In the spring of 1521 Agricola was appointed catechist of the City Church, to instruct the young in religion. Lent 1522 and 1523, Luther also delivered Catechism-sermons, Latin copies of which have been preserved. In the same year Bugenhagen was appointed City Pastor, part of his duties being to deliver sermons on the Catechism, some of which have also been preserved.

Maundy Thursday, 1523, Luther announced that instead of the Romish confession, abolished during the Wittenberg disturbances, communicants were to announce for communion to the pastor and submit to an examination in the Catechism. As appears from Luther’s Formula Missae of this year, the pastor was to convince himself whether they were able to recite and explain the words of institution by questioning them on what the Lord’s Supper is, what it profits, and for what purpose they desired to partake of it. (12, 215. 479.) To enable the people to prepare for such examination, Luther (or Bugenhagen, at the instance of Luther) published a few short questions on the Lord’s Supper, culled from one of Luther’s sermons.

This examination became a permanent institution at Wittenberg. In a sermon on the Sacrament of 1526, Luther says: “Confession, though it serve no other purpose, is a suitable means of instructing the people and of ascertaining what they believe, how they learn to pray, etc.; for else they live like brutes. Therefore I have said that the Sacrament shall be given to no one except he be able to give an account of what he receives [in the Sacrament] and why he is going. This can best be done in confession.” (19, 520.)

Furthermore, on Sundays, after the sermon, the Catechism was read to the people, a custom which, likewise became a fixture in Wittenberg. According to a small pamphlet of 1526, entitled, “What Shall be Read to the Common People after the Sermon?” it was the text of the five chief parts that was read. (Herz., R. 10, 132.) These parts came into the hands of the people by means of the Booklet for Laymen and Children, of 1525, written probably by Bugenhagen. He also reorganized the Wittenberg school which the fanatics had dissolved; and, self-evidently, there, too, Catechism instruction was not lacking. In a similar way religious instruction of the young was begun at othr plae@, as appears, for example, from the Opinions on Reformation by Nicolaus Hausmann (Zwickau), of 1523 and 1525. Melanchthon’s Instructions for Visitors (Articuli, de quibus egerunt per visitatores), drawn up in 1527, and used in the visitation of 1528 and 1529 as the guide by which pastors were examined, and pointing out what they should be charged to do, provide, above all, for Catechism-preaching on every Sunday, and give instructions for such sermons. (C. R. 26, 9. 48.)

Thus Luther’s strenuous efforts at establishing the Catechism were crowned with success. In the Apology of 1530 Melanchthon declares triumphantly: “Among the opponents there is no Catechism, although the canons require it. Among us the canons are observed, for pastors and ministers instruct the children and the young in God’s Word, publicly and privately.” (526, 41.)

97. Immediate Forerunners of Luther’s Catechisms.

Luther’s entire pastoral activity was essentially of a catechetical nature and naturally issued in his two Catechisms, which, more than any other of his books, are the result of his labor in the congregation. Three writings, however, must be regarded as their direct precursors, viz., the Short Form of the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer, of 1520, the Booklet for Laymen and Children, of 1520, and the three series of Catechism-sermons of 1528, delivered in Bugenhagen’s absence. True, they are not yet real catechisms, but they paved the way for them. The Short Form is a summary and explanation of the three traditional chief parts. In the preface to this work, Luther expresses himself for the first time on the value and the coherence of these parts, which he considered to be the real kernel of the Catechism. In the Short Form he also abandoned the traditional division of the Creed into twelve parts, choosing, instead, the threefold division of the later Small Catechism. In 1522 he embodied the Short Form into his Prayer-Booklet, in consequence of which it was given extended circulation. It has been called Luther’s first catechism, and Luther himself regarded it so; for in his German Order of Worship he recommends its use for catechetical instruction. In it are summed up Luther’s catechetical efforts since 1516.

The Booklet for Laymen and Children appeared at Wittenberg in 1525, at first in Low German (Ein Boekeschen vor de leyen unde Kinder), but done into High German in the same year. Though Bugenhagen is probably its author, no doubt, the book was written at the suggestion and under the influence of Luther, parts of whose earlier explanations it contains, and who also, since 1526, made use of it in his public services. Besides the three traditional parts, it offered for the first time also those on Baptism (without the baptismal command) and on the Lord’s Supper. The wording of the text was practically the same as that of Luther’s Enchiridion. Several prayers, later found in Luther’s Enchiridion, were also added. Hence the Booklet for Laymen and Children is properly considered a forerunner of Luther’s Catechisms.

The three series of Catechism-sermons of 1528 must be considered the last preparatory work and immediate source of the explanation of the Catechisms. Luther delivered the first series May 18 to 30; the second, from September 14 to 25; the third, from November 30 to December 19. Each series treats the same five chief parts. We have these sermons in a transcript which Roerer made from a copy (Nachschrift); the third series also in a copy by a South German. In his Orgin of the Catechism, Buchwald has shown how Luther’s Large Catechism grew out of these sermons of 1528. In his opinion, Luther, while engaged on the Large Catechism, “had those three series of sermons before him either in his own manuscript or in the form of a copy (Nachschrift).” This explains the extensive agreement of both, apparent everywhere.

Luther himself hints at this relation; for said sermons must have been before him when he began the Large Catechism with the words: “This sermon is designed and undertaken that it might be an instruction for children and the simple-minded.” (575, 1.) This was also Roerer’s view; for he calls the Large Catechism “Catechism preached by D. M.,” a title found also in the second copy (Nachschrift) of the third series: Catechism Preached by Doctor Martin Luther. In the conclusion of the first edition of the Large Catechism, Luther seems to have made use also of his sermon on Palm Sunday, 1529, and others; and in the Short Exhortation to Confession, which was appended to the second edition, of the sermon of Maundy Thursday, 1529, and others. Some historians, however, have expressed the opinion that the relationship might here be reversed. The substance of the sermon-series is essentially that also of the Large Catechism. In form the Catechism differs from the sermons by summing up in each case what is contained in the corresponding three sermons, and by giving in German what the copies of the sermons offer in a mixture of Latin and German (principally Latin, especially in the first series).

Following is a sample of the German-Latin form in which Roerer preserved these sermons: “Zaehlet mir her illos, qui reliquerunt multas divitias, wie reiche Kinder sie gehabt haben; du wirst finden, dass ihr Gut zerstoben und zerflogen ist; antequam 3. et 4. generatio venit, so ist’s dahin. Die Exempel gelten in allen Historien. Saul 1. fuit bonus etc. Er musste ausgerottet werden, ne quidem uno puello superstite, quia es musste wahr bleiben, quod Deus hic dicit. Sed das betreugt uns, dass er ein Jahr oder 20 regiert hat, et fuit potens rex; das verdreusst uns, ut credamus non esse verum. Sed verba Dei non mentiuntur, et exempla ostendunt etc. Econtra qui Verbo Dei fidunt, die muessen genug haben etc., ut David, qui erat vergeucht [verjagt] und verscheucht ut avicula; tamen mansit rex. Econtra Saul. Sic fit cum omnibus piis. Ideo nota bene 1. praeceptum, i.e., debes ex tota corde fidere Deo et praeterea nulli aliae rei, sive sit potestas etc., ut illis omnibus utaris, ut sutor subula etc., qui tantum laborat cum istis suis instrumentis. Sic utere bonis et donis; sic sollen dein Abgott nicht sein, sed Deus.” (30,1,29.) The three series of sermons of 1528, therefore, were to the explanation of Luther’s Catechisms what the Booklet for Laymen was to the text.

98. Catechism of Bohemian Brethren.

The assertion has been made that Luther, in his Small Catechism, followed the Children’s Questions of the Bohemian Brethren, which at that time had been in use for about sixty years. This catechism, which was not clear in its teaching on the Lord’s Supper, came to the notice of Luther 1520 in Bohemian or Latin, and 1523 in German and Bohemian. In his treatise, Concerning the Adoration of the Sacrament of the Holy Body of Christ, 1523, Luther remarks: “A book has been circulated by your people [the Bohemian Brethren] in German and Bohemian which aims to give Christian instruction to the young. Among other things the statement is made that [the presence of] Christ in the Sacrament is not a personal and natural one, and that He must not be adored there, which disquiets us Germans very much. For tvithout doubt it is known to you how, through the delegates you sent to me, I requested you to make this particular article clear in a separate booklet. For by word of mouth I heard them confess that you hold unanimously that Christ is truly in the Sacrament with His flesh and blood as it was born of Mary and hung on the cross, as we Germans believe. That booklet has now been sent to me by Mr. Luca in Latin. Still, in this article it has not yet been made as pure and clear as I should like to have seen it. Hence I did not have it translated into German nor printed as I promised, fearing I might not render the obscure words correctly, and thus fail to give your meaning correctly. For it may be regarded as a piece of good luck if one has hit upon an exact translation, even if the passage is very clear and certain, as I daily experience in the translations I am making. Now, that this matter may come to an end, and that the offense of the German booklet which you have published may be removed, I shall present to you and everybody, as plainly and as clearly as I am able to do, this article as we Germans believe it, and as one ought to believe according to the Gospel. There you may see whether I have stated correctly what you believe or how much we differ from one another. Perhaps my German language will be clearer to you than your German and Latin is to me.” (11, 431.) Luther, then, was familiar with the catechism of the Bohemians, which contained, besides the chief parts of the ancient Church, also the doctrine of the Sacraments.

This, therefore, may have suggested to him the idea of publishing a small book for children with questions and answers, which would also contain the parts of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Such at least is the opinion of Cohrs, Kolde, Koestlin, Kawerau, and Albrecht. (W. 30, 1, 466.) But we have no sure knowledge of this. At any rate, it is not likely that it was the book of the Bohemian Brethren which prompted Luther to embody the Sacraments in his Catechisms The further assertion of Ehrenfeuchter, Moenckeberg, et al., that Luther in his Table of Duties followed the Bohemian Brethren, is incorrect, since the Table of Duties appeared much later in their catechism.