A Brief Admonition to Confession (1529)

Note on this document

In reference to this Appendix as an admonition to confession, it is wanting in the oldest Wittemburg edition of the Larger Catechism, as well as in the corpp. doctrina of Thuringia, Julia, and Brunswick, and also in the edition of the writings of Luther, vol. 4, published at Jena; the reason of which seems to have been, because Luther himself did not subjoin it in the first edition, but added it at a later date. This appears to be very probable from the fact that in the commencement he appeals to his general doctrine concerning liberty of confession; and by this, very probably, he has reference to various passages in both Catechisms and to his other writings, and particularly to the Articles of Smalcald composed by him in which most of it occurs. Hence this addition may, at first indeed, have been attached to the Catechism about the time of the entire collection of the Book of Concord, since it is also found added to the Larger Catechism in the edition of his works, vol. 6, published at Wittemburg in 1570. From these facts as well as from the general character of this addition, it is evident that it was not at all designed as a compo-nent part or a necessary appendage to the Symbolical Books; but merely as a closer and clearer exposition of the article concerning confession, and as a common warning against the abuse of this doctrine. So that, even for this reason indeed, the continuation of this piece may be allowed among the Symbolical Books; but in this respect it is left entirely arbitrary, since it cannot be properly regarded as a part of the Symbolical Books. Hence it is not found in the Dresden, Tibbing, Frankford, Stuttgard, Heidelburg, Leipsic, and other editions, nor in the Latin Concordia: and under the view mentioned above, it was received into the quarto edition of the Book of Concord published at Magdeburg in 1580, and in several editions of the Catechism, and among these in the new Arnold edition. See Dr. Baumgarten’s Christian Book of Concord, published by Gebauer, at Halle, in 1717, page 799.

Or, from the Concordia Edition :

Note: Luther was very concerned to purge false notions about private Confession, but he never intended the practice itself to fall into disuse. He laments that since private Confession is no longer mandatory among Lutherans, people neglect it. In addition to private Confession to a pastor, there are two additional kinds of confession. One is confession to God alone; this is practiced throughout one’s life. There is also the confession of sins one Christian makes to another. Christians are to confess their sins to one another and forgive one another openly and publicly without hesitation. Christians absolve one another of sins because of the gift of Absolution Christ has given to the Church, commanding us to absolve one another. In his exhortation Luther admonishes Christians to privately confess their sins so that they will hear the Lord’s absolving Word from the lips of another human being. God’s Word applied in this very personal way is another great treasure, which is so great and precious we should be willing to run more than a hundred miles to receive it. (See AC XI , XII and XXV ; SA III III and VIII .)

The Exhortation first appeared in the 1529 revised edition of the Large Catechism. However, it did not appear in the original 1580 German and 1584 Latin editions of the Book of Concord; therefore, it is not included by Dau and Bente in the Concordia Triglotta. We have included it here since readers are used to having it from other editions of the Book of Concord. The following text is adapted from Luther’s Large Catechism: A Contemporary Translation with Study Questions, tr. F. Samuel Janzow (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1978), pp 122-27.

The above is an example of the text found in the Concordia edition of the Book of Concord. This is the introduction to the Exhortation to Confession. It is clearly easier to read than older versions of the Book of Concord. Purchase your Concordia edition today - the pocket edition is convenient and easy to use in bible classes or for your study.

The following is from the Concordia edition of the Book of Concord:

Here now follows an exhortation to Confession.

1 We have always urged that Confession should be voluntary and that the pope’s tyranny should cease. As a result we are now rid of his coercion and set free from the intolerable load and burden that he laid upon Christendom. As we all know from experience, there had been no rule so burdensome as the one that forced everyone to go to Confession on pain of committing the most serious of mortal sins. 2 That law also placed on consciences the heavy burden and torture of having to list all kinds of sin, so that no one was ever able to confess perfectly enough. 3 The worst was that no one taught or even knew what Confession might be or what help and comfort it could give. Instead, it was turned into sheer terror and a hellish torture that one had to go through even if one detested Confession more than anything. 4 These three oppressive things have now been lifted, and we have been granted the right to go to Confession freely, under no pressure of coercion or fear; also, we are released from the torture of needing to list all sins in detail; besides this we have the advantage of knowing how to make a beneficial use of Confession for the comfort and strengthening of our consciences.

5 Everyone is now aware of this. But unfortunately people have learned it only too well. They do as they please and apply their freedom wrongfully as if it meant that they ought not or must not go to Confession. For we readily understand whatever is to our advantage, and we find it especially easy to take in whatever is mild and gentle in the Gospel. But, as I have said, such pigs should not be allowed near the Gospel nor have any part of it. They should stay under the pope and let themselves continue to be driven and pestered to confess, to fast, and so on. For whoever does not want to believe the Gospel, live according to it, and do what a Christian ought to be doing, should not enjoy any of its benefits either. 6 Imagine their wanting to enjoy only the benefits without accepting any of the responsibilities or investing anything of themselves - what sort of thing is that! We do not want to make preaching available for that sort nor to grant permission that our freedom and its enjoyment be opened up to them. Instead, we will let the pope and the likes of him take over and force them to his will, genuine tyrant that he is. The rabble that will not obey the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8) deserves nothing else than the kind of jailer who is God’s devil and hangman. 7 But to others who gladly hear the Gospel we must keep on preaching, admonishing, encouraging, and causing them not to forget the precious and comforting treasure offered in the Gospel. Therefore, we here intend to say also a few words about Confession in order to instruct and admonish the uninformed.

8 In the first place, I have said that besides the Confession here being considered there are two other kinds, which may even more properly be called the Christians' common confession.They are (a) the confession and plea for forgiveness made to God alone and (b) the confession that is made to the neighbor alone. These two kinds of confession are included in the Lord’s Prayer, in which we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12), and so on. 9 In fact, the entire Lord’s Prayer is nothing else than such a confession. For what are our petitions other than a confession that we neither have nor do what we ought, as well as a plea for grace and a cheerful conscience? Confession of this sort should and must continue without letup as long as we live. For the Christian way essentially consists in acknowledging ourselves to be sinners and in praying for grace.

10 Similarly, the other of the two confessions, the one that every Christian makes to his neighbor, is also included in the Lord’s Prayer. For here we mutually confess our guilt and our desire for forgiveness (Matthew 5:23-24). Now, all of us are guilty of sinning against one another; therefore, we may and should publicly confess this before everyone without shrinking in one another’s presence. 11 For what the proverb says is true, “If anyone is perfect, then all are.” There is no one at all who fulfills his obligations toward God and his neighbor (Romans 3:10-12). Besides such universal guilt, there is also the particular guilt of the person who has provoked another to rightful anger and needs to ask his pardon. 12 So we have in the Lord’s Prayer a double absolution: there we are forgiven our offenses against God and those against our neighbor, and there we forgive our neighbor and become reconciled to him.

13 Besides this public, daily, and necessary confession, there is also the confidential confession that is only made before a single brother. If something particular weighs upon us or troubles us, something with which we keep torturing ourselves and can find no rest, and we do not find our faith to be strong enough to cope with it, then this private form of confession gives us the opportunity of laying the matter before some brother. We may receive counsel, comfort, and strength when and however often we wish. 14 That we should do this is not included in any divine command, as are the other two kinds of confession. Rather, it is offered to everyone who may need it, as an opportunity to be used by him as his need requires. The origin and establishment of private Confession lies in the fact that Christ Himself placed His Absolution into the hands of His Christian people with the command that they should absolve one another of their sins (Ephesians 4:32). So any heart that feels it sinfulness and desires consolation has here a sure refuge when he hears God’s Word and makes the discovery that God through a human being looses and absolves him from his sins.

15 So notice then, that Confession, as I have often said, consists of two parts. The first is my own work and action, when I lament my sins and desire comfort and refreshment for my soul. The other part is a work that God does when He declares me free of my sin through His Word placed in the mouth of a man. It is this splendid, noble, thing that makes Confession so lovely, so comforting. 16 It used to be that we emphasized it only as our work; all that we were then concerned about was whether our act of confession was pure and perfect in every detail. We paid no attention to the second and most necessary part of Confession, nor did we proclaim it. We acted just as if Confession were nothing but a good work by which payment was to be made to God, so that if the confession was inadequate and not exactly correct in every detail, then the Absolution would not be valid and the sin unforgiven. 17 By this the people were driven to the point where everyone had to despair of making so pure a Confession (an obvious impossibility) and where no one could feel at ease in his conscience or have confidence in his Absolution. So they not only rendered the precious Confession useless to us but also made it a bitter burden (Matthew 23:4) causing noticeable spiritual harm and ruin.

18 In our view of Confession, therefore, we should sharply separate its two parts far from each other. We should place slight value on our part in it. But we should hold in high and great esteem God’s Word in the Absolution part of Confession. We should not proceed as if we intended to perform and offer Him a splendid work, but simply to accept and receive something from Him. You dare not come saying how good or how bad you are. 19 If you are a Christian, I in any case, know well enough that you are. If you are not, I know that even better. But what you must see to is that you lament your problem and that you let yourself be helped to acquire a cheerful heart and conscience.

20 Moreover, no one may now pressure you with commandments. Rather, what we say is this: Whoever is a Christian or would like to be one is here faithfully advised to go and get the precious treasure. If you are no Christian and do not desire such comfort, we shall leave it to another to use force on you. 21 By eliminating all need for the pope’s tyranny, command, and coercion, we cancel them with a single sweep. As I have said, we teach that whoever does not go to Confession willingly and for the sake of obtaining the Absolution, he may as well forget about it. Yes, and whoever goes around relying on the purity of his act of making confession, let him stay away. 22 Nevertheless, we strongly urge you by all means to make confession of your need, not with the intention of doing a worthy work by confessing but in order to hear what God has arranged for you to be told. What I am saying is that you are to concentrate on the Word, on the Absolution, to regard it as a great and precious and magnificently splendid treasure, and to accept it with all praise and thanksgiving to God.

23 If this were explained in detail and if the need that ought to move and lead us to make confession were pointed out, then one would need little urging or coercion. For everyone’s own conscience would so drive and disturb him that he would be glad to do what a poor and miserable beggar does when he hears that a rich gift of money or clothing is being handed out at a certain place. So as not to miss it, he would run there as fast as he can and would need no bailiff to beat and drive him on. 24 Now, suppose that in place of the invitation one were to substitute a command to the effect that all beggars should run to that place but not say why nor mention what they should look for and receive there. What else would the beggar do but make the trip with distaste, without thinking of going to get a gift but simply of letting people see what a poor, miserable beggar he is? This would bring him little joy and comfort but only greater resentment against the command that was issued.

25 In just this way the pope’s preachers kept silent in the past about the splendid gift and inexpressible treasure to be had through Confession. All they did was to drive people in crowds to Confession, with no further aim than to let them see what impure, dirty people they were. Who could go willingly to Confession under such circumstances? 26 We, however, do not say that people should look at you to see how filthy you are, using you as a mirror to preen themselves. Rather, we give this counsel: If you are poor and miserable, then go to Confession and make use of its healing medicine. 27 He who feels his misery and need will no doubt develop such a longing for it that he will run toward it with joy. But those who pay no attention to it and do not come of their own accord, we let them go their way. Let them be sure of this, however, that we do not regard them as Christians.

28 So we teach what a splendid, precious, and comforting thing Confession is. Furthermore, we strongly urge people not to despise a blessing that in view of our great need is so priceless. Now, if you are a Christian, then you do not need either my pressuring or the pope’s orders, but you will undoubtedly compel yourself to come to Confession and will beg me for a share in it. 29 However, if you want to despise it and proudly continue without Confession, then we must draw the conclusion that you are no Christian and should not enjoy the Sacrament either. For you despise what no Christian should despise. In that way you make it so that you cannot have forgiveness of your sins. This is a sure sign that you also despise the Gospel.

30 To sum it up, we want to have nothing to do with coercion. However, if someone does not listen to or follow our preaching and its warning, we will have nothing to do with him (1 Corinthians 5:11), nor may he have any share in the Gospel. If you were a Christian, then you ought to be happy to run more than a hundred miles to Confession and not let yourself be urged to come. You should rather come and compel us to give you the opportunity. 31 For in this matter the compulsion must be the other way around: we must act under orders, you must come into freedom. We pressure no one, but we let ourselves be pressured, just as we let people compel us to preach to administer the Sacrament.

32 When I urge you to go to Confession, I am doing nothing else than urging you to be a Christian. If I have brought you to the point of being a Christian, I have thereby also brought you to Confession. For those who really desire to be true Christians, to be rid of their sins, and to have a cheerful conscience already possess the true hunger and thirst. They reach for the bread, just as Psalm 42:1 says of a hunted deer, burning in the heat with thirst, 33 “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God.” In other words, as a deer with anxious and trembling eagerness strains toward a fresh, flowing stream, so I yearn anxiously and tremblingly for God’s Word, Absolution, the Sacrament, and so forth. 34 See, that would be teaching right about Confession, and people could be given such a desire and love for it that they would come and run after us for it, more than we would like. Let the papists plague and torment themselves and others who pass up the treasure and exclude themselves from it. 35 Let us, however, lift our hands in praise and thanksgiving to God (1 Timothy 2:8) for having graciously brought us to this our understanding of Confession. myText; showPageText(); ?>

The following text is currently from the Henkel edition of the Book of Concord.

In reference to Confession, we have ever taught that it should be free, that the tyranny of the Pope should be put down, and that we should be liberated from all his constraints, and relieved from the intolerable burdens imposed on the Christian community. For hitherto, as we have all experienced, nothing has been more grievous than the compulsion of every one to confession, at the hazard of incurring the highest displeasure. And this, moreover, was so very burdensome, and the consciences of men were tormented to such a degree with the enumeration of so many kinds of sins, that no one could confess fully enough; and what was the worst, no one taught or knew what confession was, or the benefit and consolation resulting from it, but made of it nothing but anguish and fiendish torture, we being compelled to submit to it, when at the same time there was nothing to which we were more averse. We are now favored by proper instruction on these points, that we are permitted to make our confession through no constraint or fear, and are relieved of the torments resulting from so close an enumeration of all sins; and besides, we have the advantage to know how we may happily use it to the consolation and strengthening of our consciences.

But all men are inclined to this, and have, indeed, too readily learned to do that in which they delight, and thus assume to themselves the liberty as if they had no obligation or necessity to confess. For that which meets our approbation we soon embrace, and it is easily imbibed, where the Gospel operates gently and mildly. But such creatures, I have said, ought not to be under the Gospel, nor enjoy any of its blessings; but they should remain under the Pope, and suffer themselves to be coerced and tormented, so as to be compelled to confess, fast, &c., more than before. For whoever will neither believe the Gospel or live according to it, and do that which it is the duty of a Christian to perform, should likewise not enjoy its blessings. What would it be, if you wished to have enjoyment only, and would neither add nor contribute any thing to it? For this reason we would have nothing preached to such persons; and by our consent, we would permit none of our liberty to be shared or enjoyed by them, but suffer the Pope or his representative to reign over them again, who would constrain them like a real tyrant; for nothing else belongs to that order of men, who will not be obedient to the Gospel, but a task-master who is God’s avenger and executioner. But to others who freely permit themselves to be informed, we must ever preach, encouraging, inciting, and entreating them not to suffer that precious and consolatory treasure, which is presented through the Gospel, to pass in vain. We shall, therefore, say something also in reference to Confession, for the purpose of instructing and admonishing the inexperienced.

In the first place, I have said that besides this confession, concerning which we here speak, there are two kinds of confession, which might rather be called a common confession for all Christians; namely, that in which we confess to God alone, or to our neighbor alone, and ask for remission, acknowledgments which are also implied in the Lord’s Prayer, where we say: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Yes, the whole of this Prayer is nothing else than such a confession; for what is our prayer, but that we confess our wants and the neglect of that which it is our duty to perform, desiring grace and a peaceful conscience? Such confession shall and must be made without omission, while we live; for in this, especially, consists the character of a Christian, that we acknowledge ourselves to be sinners, and pray for grace.

In like manner the other confession, in which each one acknowledges before his neighbor, is also included in the Lord’s Prayer, namely, where we confess and forgive trespasses among each other, before we approach God and ask for remission, Now, all of us are guilty; hence we should and may with propriety confess publicly, without fearing one another; for no one is pious, and no one performs his duty towards God or his neighbor; yet besides this general, there is also a particular guilt,where one has provoked another to anger, on account of which he should ask his pardon. Consequently, in the Lord’s Prayer, we have two absolutions, namely, for sins committed against God, and for sins committed against our neighbor, which are forgiven us if we forgive our neighbor and reconcile ourselves with him.

Besides this useful, daily, and open confession, there is also a confession which may take place privately between two brothers. And if, from some special cause, we become disturbed with restless anxiety, and find our faith insufficient, we can make our complaint to a brother in this private confession, and obtain his advice, comfort, and support, whenever we desire. For this confession is not embraced in a command, like the other two, but it is left optional with every one who needs it, to use it to his necessity. And it derives its origin and authority from the fact that Christ himself has placed and committed the absolution into the mouth of his Christian community, to release us from sins. Now wherever there is a heart which feels its sins and desires consolation, it has here an unfailing resource in the Word of God, that God through a human being releases and acquits it of sins.

Thus observe then, as I have frequently said, that confession comprises two parts. The first is our work and act, to deplore our sins and desire consolation and renovation of soul. The other is a work of God, who through the work, in the mouth of man, absolves me from my sins, which is the chief and most valuable thing, rendering it desirable and consolatory. Now hitherto our work alone was insisted upon, and no further thought was indulged but for us to confess fully indeed; but the other most essential part was neither regarded nor preached; precisely as if it were only a good work, with which we might compensate God; and that unless confession were made perfectly and in the most accurate manner, absolution would avail nothing, and our sins would not be forgiven. By this means the people were driven to such excess that every one had to despair of confessing so fully, (which was impossible,) and no conscience was able to be at peace, or to depend on this absolution. Thus they have rendered this desirable confession not only useless to us, but severe and grievous, to the evident injury and ruin of souls.

For this reason we should so view confession as to distinguish and separate these two parts far from each other, and esteem our own work as insignificant; but the Word of God we should esteem as great and exalted; and we should not enter upon our confession as if we wished to perform a precious work, and make a contribution to God, but to obtain and receive something from him. You need not come and declare how pious or wicked you are; if you are a Christian, I know it well enough otherwise; if you are none, I know it still more readily. But it is to be done, in order that you may lament your wants, and obtain help, a joyful heart, and a peaceful conscience.

No one is allowed to force you to confession by authority; but we say, whoever is a Christian, or freely wishes to be one, has an impressive admonition here, to enter upon his confession, and obtain the precious treasure. If you are no Christian, or do not desire this consolation, we shall let some one else compel you. By this means we abolish altogether the Pope’s tyrannical authority, which is nowhere to be tolerated; for, as said, we teach that whoever does not go to confession willingly and for the sake of absolution, should omit it. Yes, whoever presumes, on account of the purity of his confession, to rely on his own work, no matter how pure and excellent he may have make his confession, let him abstain from it. But we admonish you to confess and make known your wants, not in order Page 546 to perform it as a work, but to hear what God permits to be declared to you; the word, I say, or the absolution, you should consider, and esteem great and precious, receiving it with all the honor and gratitude, as an excellent and valuable treasure.

Should we illustrate this, and in connection with it exhibit the necessity which should urge and impel us to the confession of our sins, we would need but little compulsion or constraint; our own conscience would truly urge each one, and so alarm him, that he would be glad of the opportunity to confess his sins; and he would embrace it like a poor indigent beggar, when he hears that at a certain place a rich distribution of money and clothing is made: here there is no need for a beadle to urge and to force him; he would indeed run of himself with whatever speed his physical powers would allow, lest he should fail in securing these benefits. Now, if we were to enjoin a command respecting it, that all beggars must run thither, insisting on this alone, and keeping silent in reference to what should be sought and obtained there, how could it be otherwise than that they would approach with reluctance, not expecting to obtain any thing there, but to be exposed in their poverty and imperfection? From this there would be but little enjoyment and consolation derived, but they would become only the more hostile to this injunction, as if it were imposed upon them for reproach and derision, compelling them to let their poverty and wretchedness be seen.

Even so the legates of the Pope have hitherto remained silent with respect to this rich and excellent privilege and inexpressible treasure, forcing multitudes to confession for no other purpose than to expose our impurity and pollution. Who, under these circumstances, could go to confession with cheerfulness? We do not say, however, that people must see how full of pollution you are, and thus contrast themselves with you; but that they should advise you, and say: If you are poor and wretched, come, and use this salutary remedy. Now whoever feels his want and wretchedness, will indeed experience such a desire for confession, that he will attend to it with pleasure; but those who do not regard it or come of themselves, we suffer to take their own course; but this they must know, that we do not regard them as Christians.

Thus then we teach how excellent, how precious, and consolatory confession is; we admonish, moreover, that this precious treasure should not be held in contempt, but be regarded as highly necessary. Now if you are a Christian, you need neither my constraint nor the Pope’s command, but you will indeed importune, and entreat me, that you may become a participant in it. But if you despise it, and go on so haughtily without confessing, we conclude that you are no Christian; and that you should also not enjoy the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; for you despise that which no Christian should despise, and by this means render it impossible for you to have remission of sins. It is a sure indication too that you hold the Gospel in contempt.

In a word, we would know of no constraint; but we have nothing to do with those who neither hear nor obey our preaching and admonition; nor shall they enjoy any of the privileges of the Gospel. If you were a Christian, you should be glad to embrace the opportunity of going even a hundred miles or more to discharge the duty, and not permit yourself to be compelled, but come and urge us to hear your confession. For here the constraint must be reversed, so that we are subjected to the command, and you be vested with the liberty; we force no one, but permit ourselves to be urged, even as we are constrained to preach, and to administer the sacraments.

When we admonish to confession, therefore, we do nothing else but admonish every one to become a Christian; if I succeed in bringing you to this, I have also brought you to confession. For those who long to be pious Christians, to be free from their sins, and to have joyful consciences, have the right hunger and thirst already, eagerly to grasp this bread even as the hart when pursued, and wearied with heat and thirst, as the 42d Psalm, verse 1, says: As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. That is, as longing and anxious as the hart is after the fresh streams, so anxious and concerned am I about God’s Word or absolution and the Sacrament. Behold, this is correct teaching concerning confession; thus we should create a love and desire for it, so that people would come to it, and solicit us more than we might wish or desire. We shall let the Papists plague and torment themselves and other people who do not esteem this treasure, and debar themselves from it; but let us lift up our hands, and praise and thank God, that we have arrived at this knowledge and grace. Amen.

Luther's 95 Theses (1517)

Editor’s Introduction:

The Ninety-Five Theses, composed originally in Latin, were posted by Martin Luther on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517. The Castle Church was used by the university as its “campus church” and as such the door served as a sort of public bulletin board for the academic community. The theses were a proposal for a discussion about the practice of indulgences. October 31, 1517, the day before All Saints Day, was chosen because the Castle Church was also home to one of the largest collection of relics in all of Western Christendom, owned by the Saxon Elector Frederick the Wise. Indulgences were granted to the faithful for viewing the many relics that were put on display on All Saints Day.


The original wooden door of the Castle Church was destroyed in a fire. The present door is made of bronze and contains the text of the theses, in German. It was put up in the 19th century as a memorial. The theses were originally hand-written, but very quickly were printed and distributed throughout Europe.

Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences

by Dr. Martin Luther (1517)

Published in:

Works of Martin Luther:

Adolph Spaeth, L.D. Reed, Henry Eyster Jacobs, et Al., Trans. & Eds. (Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Company, 1915), Vol.1, pp. 29-38

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.

In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

  1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

  2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.

  3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.

  4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

  5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.

  6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.

  7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.

  8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.

  9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.

  10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.

  11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.

  12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.

  13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.

  14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.

  15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.

  16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.

  17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.

  18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.

  19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.

  20. Therefore by “full remission of all penalties” the pope means not actually “of all,” but only of those imposed by himself.

  21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope’s indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;

  22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.

  23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.

  24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.

  25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.

  26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.

  27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].

  28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.

  29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.

  30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.

  31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.

  32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.

  33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;

  34. For these “graces of pardon” concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.

  35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.

  36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.

  37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.

  38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.

  39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.

  40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].

  41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.

  42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.

  43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;

  44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.

  45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.

  46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.

  47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.

  48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.

  49. Christians are to be taught that the pope’s pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.

  50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter’s church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.

  51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope’s wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.

  52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.

  53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.

  54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.

  55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

  56. The “treasures of the Church,” out of which the pope grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.

  57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.

  58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.

  59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church’s poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.

  60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ’s merit, are that treasure;

  61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.

  62. The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.

  63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.

  64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.

  65. Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.

  66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.

  67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the “greatest graces” are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.

  68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.

  69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.

  70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.

  71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!

  72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!

  73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.

  74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.

  75. To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God – this is madness.

  76. We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.

  77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.

  78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.

  79. To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.

  80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.

  81. This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.

  82. To wit: – “Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial.”

  83. Again: – “Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”

  84. Again: – “What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul’s own need, free it for pure love’s sake?”

  85. Again: – “Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?”

  86. Again: – “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?”

  87. Again: – “What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?”

  88. Again: – “What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?”

  89. “Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?”

  90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.

  91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.

  92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace!

  93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!

  94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;

  95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.

Exsurge Domine - Condemnation of Luther (1520)

Editor’s Introduction

The following document was the official response issued by Pope Leo X condemning and rejecting the teachings of Martin Luther. It was the basis on which Luther was subsequently called before the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and was declared to be a criminal and outlaw, put under an Imperial Ban and subject to arrest and execution at any time. Exsurge Domine, is Latin for, “Arise, O Lord” and the document lists the various errors of which Luther was accused. What is rejected in this document would form and shape the subsequent formal confessions of the Lutherans, ten years later at the Diet of Augsburg.


Exsurge Domine

Bull of Pope Leo X issued June 15, 1520

Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod. When you were about to ascend to your Father, you committed the care, rule, and administration of the vineyard, an image of the triumphant church, to Peter, as the head and your vicar and his successors. The wild boar from the forest seeks to destroy it and every wild beast feeds upon it.

Rise, Peter, and fulfill this pastoral office divinely entrusted to you as mentioned above. Give heed to the cause of the holy Roman Church, mother of all churches and teacher of the faith, whom you by the order of God, have consecrated by your blood. Against the Roman Church, you warned, lying teachers are rising, introducing ruinous sects, and drawing upon themselves speedy doom. Their tongues are fire, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. They have bitter zeal, contention in their hearts, and boast and lie against the truth.

We beseech you also, Paul, to arise. It was you that enlightened and illuminated the Church by your doctrine and by a martyrdom like Peter’s. For now a new Porphyry rises who, as the old once wrongfully assailed the holy apostles, now assails the holy pontiffs, our predecessors.

Rebuking them, in violation of your teaching, instead of imploring them, he is not ashamed to assail them, to tear at them, and when he despairs of his cause, to stoop to insults. He is like the heretics “whose last defense,” as Jerome says, “is to start spewing out a serpent’s venom with their tongue when they see that their causes are about to be condemned, and spring to insults when they see they are vanquished.” For although you have said that there must be heresies to test the faithful, still they must be destroyed at their very birth by your intercession and help, so they do not grow or wax strong like your wolves. Finally, let the whole church of the saints and the rest of the universal church arise. Some, putting aside her true interpretation of Sacred Scripture, are blinded in mind by the father of lies. Wise in their own eyes, according to the ancient practice of heretics, they interpret these same Scriptures otherwise than the Holy Spirit demands, inspired only by their own sense of ambition, and for the sake of popular acclaim, as the Apostle declares. In fact, they twist and adulterate the Scriptures. As a result, according to Jerome, “It is no longer the Gospel of Christ, but a man’s, or what is worse, the devil’s.”

Let all this holy Church of God, I say, arise, and with the blessed apostles intercede with almighty God to purge the errors of His sheep, to banish all heresies from the lands of the faithful, and be pleased to maintain the peace and unity of His holy Church.

For we can scarcely express, from distress and grief of mind, what has reached our ears for some time by the report of reliable men and general rumor; alas, we have even seen with our eyes and read the many diverse errors. Some of these have already been condemned by councils and the constitutions of our predecessors, and expressly contain even the heresy of the Greeks and Bohemians. Other errors are either heretical, false, scandalous, or offensive to pious ears, as seductive of simple minds, originating with false exponents of the faith who in their proud curiosity yearn for the world’s glory, and contrary to the Apostle’s teaching, wish to be wiser than they should be. Their talkativeness, unsupported by the authority of the Scriptures, as Jerome says, would not win credence unless they appeared to support their perverse doctrine even with divine testimonies however badly interpreted. From their sight fear of God has now passed.

These errors have, at the suggestion of the human race, been revived and recently propagated among the more frivolous and the illustrious German nation. We grieve the more that this happened there because we and our predecessors have always held this nation in the bosom of our affection. For after the empire had been transferred by the Roman Church from the Greeks to these same Germans, our predecessors and we always took the Church’s advocates and defenders from among them. Indeed it is certain that these Germans, truly germane to the Catholic faith, have always been the bitterest opponents of heresies, as witnessed by those commendable constitutions of the German emperors in behalf of the Church’s independence, freedom, and the expulsion and extermination of all heretics from Germany. Those constitutions formerly issued, and then confirmed by our predecessors, were issued under the greatest penalties even of loss of lands and dominions against anyone sheltering or not expelling them. If they were observed today both we and they would obviously be free of this disturbance. Witness to this is the condemnation and punishment in the Council of Constance of the infidelity of the Hussites and Wyclifites as well as Jerome of Prague. Witness to this is the blood of Germans shed so often in wars against the Bohemians. A final witness is the refutation, rejection, and condemnation no less learned than true and holy of the above errors, or many of them, by the universities of Cologne and Louvain, most devoted and religious cultivators of the Lord’s field. We could allege many other facts too, which we have decided to omit, lest we appear to be composing a history.

In virtue of our pastoral office committed to us by the divine favor we can under no circumstances tolerate or overlook any longer the pernicious poison of the above errors without disgrace to the Christian religion and injury to orthodox faith. Some of these errors we have decided to include in the present document; their substance is as follows:

1. It is a heretical opinion, but a common one, that the sacraments of the New Law give pardoning grace to those who do not set up an obstacle.

2. To deny that in a child after baptism sin remains is to treat with contempt both Paul and Christ.

3. The inflammable sources of sin, even if there be no actual sin, delay a soul departing from the body from entrance into heaven.

4. To one on the point of death imperfect charity necessarily brings with it great fear, which in itself alone is enough to produce the punishment of purgatory, and impedes entrance into the kingdom.

5. That there are three parts to penance: contrition, confession, and satisfaction, has no foundation in Sacred Scripture nor in the ancient sacred Christian doctors.

6. Contrition, which is acquired through discussion, collection, and detestation of sins, by which one reflects upon his years in the bitterness of his soul, by pondering over the gravity of sins, their number, their baseness, the loss of eternal beatitude, and the acquisition of eternal damnation, this contrition makes him a hypocrite, indeed more a sinner.

7. It is a most truthful proverb and the doctrine concerning the contritions given thus far is the more remarkable: “Not to do so in the future is the highest penance; the best penance, a new life.”

8. By no means may you presume to confess venial sins, nor even all mortal sins, because it is impossible that you know all mortal sins. Hence in the primitive Church only manifest mortal sins were confessed.

9. As long as we wish to confess all sins without exception, we are doing nothing else than to wish to leave nothing to God’s mercy for pardon.

10. Sins are not forgiven to anyone, unless when the priest forgives them he believes they are forgiven; on the contrary the sin would remain unless he believed it was forgiven; for indeed the remission of sin and the granting of grace does not suffice, but it is necessary also to believe that there has been forgiveness.

11. By no means can you have reassurance of being absolved because of your contrition, but because of the word of Christ: “Whatsoever you shall loose, etc.” Hence, I say, trust confidently, if you have obtained the absolution of the priest, and firmly believe yourself to have been absolved, and you will truly be absolved, whatever there may be of contrition.

12. If through an impossibility he who confessed was not contrite, or the priest did not absolve seriously, but in a jocose manner, if nevertheless he believes that he has been absolved, he is most truly absolved.

13. In the sacrament of penance and the remission of sin the pope or the bishop does no more than the lowest priest; indeed, where there is no priest, any Christian, even if a woman or child, may equally do as much.

14. No one ought to answer a priest that he is contrite, nor should the priest inquire.

15. Great is the error of those who approach the sacrament of the Eucharist relying on this, that they have confessed, that they are not conscious of any mortal sin, that they have sent their prayers on ahead and made preparations; all these eat and drink judgment to themselves. But if they believe and trust that they will attain grace, then this faith alone makes them pure and worthy.

16. It seems to have been decided that the Church in common Council established that the laity should communicate under both species; the Bohemians who communicate under both species are not heretics, but schismatics.

17. The treasures of the Church, from which the pope grants indulgences, are not the merits of Christ and of the saints.

18. Indulgences are pious frauds of the faithful, and remissions of good works; and they are among the number of those things which are allowed, and not of the number of those which are advantageous.

19. Indulgences are of no avail to those who truly gain them, for the remission of the penalty due to actual sin in the sight of divine justice.

20. They are seduced who believe that indulgences are salutary and useful for the fruit of the spirit.

21. Indulgences are necessary only for public crimes, and are properly conceded only to the harsh and impatient.

22. For six kinds of men indulgences are neither necessary nor useful; namely, for the dead and those about to die, the infirm, those legitimately hindered, and those who have not committed crimes, and those who have committed crimes, but not public ones, and those who devote themselves to better things.

23. Excommunications are only external penalties and they do not deprive man of the common spiritual prayers of the Church.

24. Christians must be taught to cherish excommunications rather than to fear them.

25. The Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, is not the vicar of Christ over all the churches of the entire world, instituted by Christ Himself in blessed Peter.

26. The word of Christ to Peter: “Whatsoever you shall loose on earth,” etc., is extended merely to those things bound by Peter himself.

27. It is certain that it is not in the power of the Church or the pope to decide upon the articles of faith, and much less concerning the laws for morals or for good works.

28. If the pope with a great part of the Church thought so and so, he would not err; still it is not a sin or heresy to think the contrary, especially in a matter not necessary for salvation, until one alternative is condemned and another approved by a general Council.

29. A way has beeri made for us for weakening the authority of councils, and for freely contradicting their actions, and judging their decrees, and boldly confessing whatever seems true, whether it has been approved or disapproved by any council whatsoever.

30. Some articles of John Hus, condemned in the Council of Constance, are most Christian, wholly true and evangelical; these the universal Church could not condemn.

31. In every good work the just man sins.

32. A good work done very well is a venial sin.

33. That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.

34. To go to war against the Turks is to resist God who punishes our iniquities through them.

35. No one is certain that he is not always sinning mortally, because of the most hidden vice of pride.

36. Free will after sin is a matter of title only; and as long as one does what is in him, one sins mortally.

37. Purgatory cannot be proved from Sacred Scripture which is in the canon.

38. The souls in purgatory are not sure of their salvation, at least not all; nor is it proved by any arguments or by the Scriptures that they are beyond the state of meriting or of increasing in charity.

39. The souls in purgatory sin without intermission, as long as they seek rest and abhor punishment.

40. The souls freed from purgatory by the suffrages of the living are less happy than if they had made satisfactions by themselves.

41. Ecclesiastical prelates and secular princes would not act badly if they destroyed all of the money bags of beggary.

No one of sound mind is ignorant how destructive, pernicious, scandalous, and seductive to pious and simple minds these various errors are, how opposed they are to all charity and reverence for the holy Roman Church who is the mother of all the faithful and teacher of the faith; how destructive they are of the vigor of ecclesiastical discipline, namely obedience. This virtue is the font and origin of all virtues and without it anyone is readily convicted of being unfaithful.

Therefore we, in this above enumeration, important as it is, wish to proceed with great care as is proper, and to cut off the advance of this plague and cancerous disease so it will not spread any further in the Lord’s field as harmful thornbushes. We have therefore held a careful inquiry, scrutiny, discussion, strict examination, and mature deliberation with each of the brothers, the eminent cardinals of the holy Roman Church, as well as the priors and ministers general of the religious orders, besides many other professors and masters skilled in sacred theology and in civil and canon law. We have found that these errors or theses are not Catholic, as mentioned above, and are not to be taught, as such; but rather are against the doctrine and tradition of the Catholic Church, and against the true interpretation of the sacred Scriptures received from the Church. Now Augustine maintained that her authority had to be accepted so completely that he stated he would not have believed the Gospel unless the authority of the Catholic Church had vouched for it. For, according to these errors, or any one or several of them, it clearly follows that the Church which is guided by the Holy Spirit is in error and has always erred. This is against what Christ at his ascension promised to his disciples (as is read in the holy Gospel of Matthew): “I will be with you to the consummation of the world”; it is against the determinations of the holy Fathers, or the express ordinances and canons of the councils and the supreme pontiffs. Failure to comply with these canons, according to the testimony of Cyprian, will be the fuel and cause of all heresy and schism.

With the advice and consent of these our venerable brothers, with mature deliberation on each and every one of the above theses, and by the authority of almighty God, the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own authority, we condemn, reprobate, and reject completely each of these theses or errors as either heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth. By listing them, we decree and declare that all the faithful of both sexes must regard them as condemned, reprobated, and rejected . . . We restrain all in the virtue of holy obedience and under the penalty of an automatic major excommunication….

Moreover, because the preceding errors and many others are contained in the books or writings of Martin Luther, we likewise condemn, reprobate, and reject completely the books and all the writings and sermons of the said Martin, whether in Latin or any other language, containing the said errors or any one of them; and we wish them to be regarded as utterly condemned, reprobated, and rejected. We forbid each and every one of the faithful of either sex, in virtue of holy obedience and under the above penalties to be incurred automatically, to read, assert, preach, praise, print, publish, or defend them. They will incur these penalties if they presume to uphold them in any way, personally or through another or others, directly or indirectly, tacitly or explicitly, publicly or occultly, either in their own homes or in other public or private places. Indeed immediately after the publication of this letter these works, wherever they may be, shall be sought out carefully by the ordinaries and others [ecclesiastics and regulars], and under each and every one of the above penalties shall be burned publicly and solemnly in the presence of the clerics and people.

As far as Martin himself is concerned, O good God, what have we overlooked or not done? What fatherly charity have we omitted that we might call him back from such errors? For after we had cited him, wishing to deal more kindly with him, we urged him through various conferences with our legate and through our personal letters to abandon these errors. We have even offered him safe conduct and the money necessary for the journey urging him to come without fear or any misgivings, which perfect charity should cast out, and to talk not secretly but openly and face to face after the example of our Savior and the Apostle Paul. If he had done this, we are certain he would have changed in heart, and he would have recognized his errors. He would not have found all these errors in the Roman Curia which he attacks so viciously, ascribing to it more than he should because of the empty rumors of wicked men. We would have shown him clearer than the light of day that the Roman pontiffs, our predecessors, whom he injuriously attacks beyond all decency, never erred in their canons or constitutions which he tries to assail. For, according to the prophet, neither is healing oil nor the doctor lacking in Galaad.

But he always refused to listen and, despising the previous citation and each and every one of the above overtures, disdained to come. To the present day he has been contumacious. With a hardened spirit he has continued under censure over a year. What is worse, adding evil to evil, and on learning of the citation, he broke forth in a rash appeal to a future council. This to be sure was contrary to the constitution of Pius II and Julius II our predecessors that all appealing in this way are to be punished with the penalties of heretics. In vain does he implore the help of a council, since he openly admits that he does not believe in a council.

Therefore we can, without any further citation or delay, proceed against him to his condemnation and damnation as one whose faith is notoriously suspect and in fact a true heretic with the full severity of each and all of the above penalties and censures. Yet, with the advice of our brothers, imitating the mercy of almighty God who does not wish the death of a sinner but rather that he be converted and live, and forgetting all the injuries inflicted on us and the Apostolic See, we have decided to use all the compassion we are capable of. It is our hope, so far as in us lies, that he will experience a change of heart by taking the road of mildness we have proposed, return, and turn away from his errors. We will receive him kindly as the prodigal son returning to the embrace of the Church.

Therefore let Martin himself and all those adhering to him, and those who shelter and support him, through the merciful heart of our God and the sprinkling of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ by which and through whom the redemption of the human race and the upbuilding of holy mother Church was accomplished, know that from our heart we exhort and beseech that he cease to disturb the peace, unity, and truth of the Church for which the Savior prayed so earnestly to the Father. Let him abstain from his pernicious errors that he may come back to us. If they really will obey, and certify to us by legal documents that they have obeyed, they will find in us the affection of a father’s love, the opening of the font of the effects of paternal charity, and opening of the font of mercy and clemency.

We enjoin, however, on Martin that in the meantime he cease from all preaching or the office of preacher.

{ And even though the love of righteousness and virtue did not take him away from sin and the hope of forgiveness did not lead him to penance, perhaps the terror of the pain of punishment may move him. Thus we beseech and remind this Martin, his supporters and accomplices of his holy orders and the described punishment. We ask him earnestly that he and his supporters, adherents and accomplices desist within sixty days (which we wish to have divided into three times twenty days, counting from the publication of this bull at the places mentioned below) from preaching, both expounding their views and denouncing others, from publishing books and pamphlets concerning some or all of their errors. Furthermore, all writings which contain some or all of his errors are to be burned. Furthermore, this Martin is to recant perpetually such errors and views. He is to inform us of such recantation through an open document, sealed by two prelates, which we should receive within another sixty days. Or he should personally, with safe conduct, inform us of his recantation by coming to Rome. We would prefer this latter way in order that no doubt remain of his sincere obedience.

If, however, this Martin, his supporters, adherents and accomplices, much to our regret, should stubbornly not comply with the mentioned stipulations within the mentioned period, we shall, following the teaching of the holy Apostle Paul, who teaches us to avoid a heretic after having admonished him for a first and a second time, condemn this Martin, his supporters, adherents and accomplices as barren vines which are not in Christ, preaching an offensive doctrine contrary to the Christian faith and offend the divine majesty, to the damage and shame of the entire Christian Church, and diminish the keys of the Church as stubborn and public heretics.}\* . . .

\* Editor’s comment: This added text in italics was obtained from a secondary source, translator Hans J. Hillerbrand, ed. “The Reformation in its own Words” (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1964), pp80-84

Johann Eck's 404 Theses (1530)

Luther's Exhortation to the Clergy in Augsburg (1530)

The Exhortation to the Clergy Assembled at the Diet at Augsburg was Martin Luther’s first work from the Coburg Fortress after he arrived there, where he stayed during the Diet of Augsburg. It was far as Luther could go in Saxony, without leaving it. And since Luther was still both a public criminal and heretic, as a result of the Imperial and Papal edicts against him, leaving Saxony would have been risky, since it was only in Saxony that his Prince, the Elector John the Steadfast, would be able to protect him from arrest, trial and quite probably execution.

On April 15, 1530, the Elector of Saxony arrived at Coburg, with his retinue, on his way to the Diet of Augsburg. One of the major purposes of this diet, as announced by the emperor, was to reconcile religious differences and bring Germany to religious unity. With this end in view he had called upon the “estates” to be ready to express their views on the religious questions then dividing the empire. The Elector of Saxony, therefore, took with him as advisers the leaders of religious thought in his dominions, - Luther, Melanchthon, Spalatin, Justus Jonas and Agricola. They had already discussed a confession of faith that might be presented at the diet and had agreed upon a part, at least, of its contents, though its final form had not been determined and the Augsburg Confession was not finished until immediately before its presentation, on June 25th. The Elector’s party remained at Coburg for a week, and then moved on toward Augsburg, leaving Luther behind. He was under the ban of the empire, and it was not safe to take him farther. On April 23, he took up his residence at the castle - Feste Coburg - where he remained while the diet was in session. During this period of enforced retirement, he had leisure for writing. He began work on the Exhortation as soon as he was settled in the castle.

On April 29 he wrote to Melanchthon that the work was growing under his hands. On May 12 he sent the manuscript to Wittenberg to be printed. Before the end of the month it was off the press, and before June 7 it was on sale in Augsburg, where one book-seller disposed of five hundred copies in a few days; “everybody is reading it,” wrote Justus Jonas to Luther, on June 12. Cardinal Campeggio ordered it translated into Latin, though we do not know whether the work was ever done. The man who had been commissioned to make the translation wrote to a friend, June 21, “It is a summary of all Lutheranism. If you would know the whole Luther, you would better buy it.”

<code>ERR: IMAGE RESOUCE FAILED TO MOUNT TO HUGO</code> The Coburg Fortress is the largest fortress in Germany, if not Europe, in terms of the acreage it encompases. It sits high on top of a large hill/mountain above the small town of Coburg and is difficult to reach even in a car, and the last half mile is still a walk up to it and it is very steep.

This treatise may be regarded as Luther’s own Augsburg Confession. Not only was it written at the same time as the Confession, but it deals with many of the subjects which the Confession treats, especially in that section which deals with abuses in the Church. It reveals Luther’s mind on those subjects far more plainly than does the work of the more diplomatic and careful Melanchthon. The material is quite evidently suggested by the Torgau Articles, which had been agreed upon as a basis of a confession of faith by Luther, Melanchthon, and others at a conference held at Torgau, March 20. The latter part of the work is based on notes that Luther apparently made in connection with the conference at Torgau. The text of the Exhortation is found in Weimar Ed. 30: 2 268 ff.; Erlangen Ed. 1 :24:330 ff., Erlangen Ed. 2 , 24:358 ff.; St. Louis Ed.;CLEMEN, 4:104 ff.; Berlin Ed., 3:347 ff. The translation is made from the text of Clemen by Charles M. Jacobs.

To All the Clergy Assembled in Augsburg at the Diet in the year 1530.

Exhortation of Martin Luther

Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

<code>ERR: IMAGE RESOUCE FAILED TO MOUNT TO HUGO</code> The Luther Room at the Coburg Fortress in Germany; where Luther wrote the Exhortation.

It is not fitting, Dear Sirs, that I should appear in person at this diet; and even though I had to appear, or were to do so, it would serve no useful purpose, for it would make no difference amid all the splendor and bustle.

Nevertheless, beside my spiritual presence (which I will prove with all my heart and with God’s help, through my diligent and earnest prayers and supplications to my God) I have undertaken to be among you with this mute and feeble written message.

The reason is that my conscience drives me to pray, beseech and exhort each and all of you, in the kindliest way and from the heart, that you will not pass this diet by or use it to vain purposes. For God, through our most gracious Emperor Charles, is giving you grace, chance, time, and cause to accomplish much that is great and good by means of this diet, if only you have the will to do so. He is speaking now as Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 6:1, “I exhort you that ye receive not the gift of God in vain.”

For He says, “I have heard thee in an accepted time, and helped thee on the day of salvation.” “Behold now is an accepted time and a day of salvation,” especially for you. And we see and hear how the hearts of all men are set upon this diet, and expect, with high hope, that good will come out of it.

If, however, this diet shall break up without result (which may God graciously forbid!) and nothing worth while be accomplished, after all the world has for a long while been fed with false hopes and put off by diets and councils, and that hope has all been false and vain, it is to be feared that despair will be bred, and everyone will become overtired of false hopes and delays, and the long, fruitless waiting will produce impatience and make bad blood. For things cannot longer stay as they now are, especially with you and your class; you know and feel that better than I can tell you. I am therefore doing what now I do, for your own good and for the sake of peace and unity.

Certain ones, perhaps, will look with evil eyes on my presumption, and say, - “Who needs you? Who ever asked for your exhortation or your writing?

There are many learned and pious people here who can give better advice in this matter than a fool like you.” Ah, well! I shall willingly believe this.

God help that it may all be true! I am quite willing that my presumption shall be criticized and condemned. But it is also true that one cannot do too much of a good thing, and a fool has often given better counsel than many wise men, while the greatest wrongs on earth have usually been done by wise people, especially when they relied on their own wisdom and did not act in the fear of God, and did not pray with humble hearts for divine help and grace.

All the histories are full of illustrations of this, both in the Scriptures and out of them; but even though there were no other illustration of it, we could find a good one in yourselves. For ten years now you have tried your wisdom on this matter, with so many diets, with so many proposals, with so many wiles and tricks, with so much holding out of false hopes, nay, even with force and wrath, with murder and punishment, so that I have seen in you a cause for wonder and woe; and yet the matter has never gone the way you wanted it. That is the whole thing! Wisdom has wanted to control such high and great matters by itself, without fear of God and humble prayer, and has come to shame in its presumption; and if you do not come to fear God and to humble yourselves before Him, so that you cease from threatening and vengefulness and ask God earnestly for help and counsel, you shall still accomplish nothing, though you were as wise as King Solomon; for there stands the Scripture, 1 Peter 5, “God resisteth the proud, but to the humble He giveth His grace.”

We, for our part, pray with diligence; we also know the right way to pray for God’s grace, and we are certain, too, that our prayer is acceptable and is heard. This, I fear, only few of your party can do. Moreover, we have now begun to pray earnestly for you, that God Almighty may for once enlighten your hearts and move them to fear His Word and to walk humbly with Him. Such prayer is accepted for us - that we know; but may God grant that you do not set yourselves stubbornly against it, so that our prayer must return again into our bosom, because it has been lost and despised among you! For we see that the devil is trying to bring on the Turks, and is stirring up one disturbance after another, and would like to smash everything. If, then, you were still to be hard of heart and continue to be as stubborn as heretofore, that would be too much and altogether intolerable.

To begin with, then, you need not take any action because of me, or the likes of me. The true Helper and Counselor has brought us and our cause so far, and has put it where it is to stay and where we want to leave it, so that for ourselves we need no diet, no counsel, no settling of the matter; and we would not have these things come from you, because we know that you can do no better than we; nay, not so well as we. For whether we come under Turks or Tartars, under pope or devil, our cause is secure; so that we know how to believe and live, how to suffer and pray, how to get well and to die, where we are to look for and get and find everything, and where we are at last to abide, according to the word of St. Paul in Romans 8:28, “To the elect the Spirit doeth all things for the best.”

These things God has given us in rich measure through Jesus Christ our Lord, and they have already been proclaimed and confirmed Phil 3:16 by the blood and anguish of many godly people, who have been put to death by your party. Not that we are perfect, or that we have yet attained all things! But we have the right “rule,” as St. Paul calls it, the right way, the right beginning; nay, so far as doctrine is concerned, we have no lack at all, no matter how it is with life.

But we have compassion upon you and the poor people under you, who are altogether uninstructed, or at least uncertain; and we would gladly help you, by means of our prayers and exhortations, as best we might. For I greatly fear that you have forgotten your office and the humility which you owe to God, and are going to draw the reins too tight, and ride the willing horse too hard, so that another revolt will occur and both we and you will come to grief and distress, as happened the other time. The peasants' revolt of 1525, see LW IV p220For without doubt you remember how, before the revolt, the diet had been called to meet at Spires with such glorious and comforting hopes that all the world looked forward to it eagerly, and heartily awaited the good that would come out of it. But your counsels were full of wisdom and managed to have that diet called off without result and shamefully. The rod - that is Muenzer and the revolt - came quickly, and gave you a blow from which you have not yet recovered; and sad to say, we have been hurt by it even more than you. That is what comes of doing everything with force and according to your own notions.

At Worms, too, our dear Emperor Charles, that noble youth, had to do what you wanted, and condemn me and all my teachings, parts of which you yourselves had before then secretly accepted and made use of.

Even now your preachers would have no sermons, were it not for Luther’s books. For they are now leaving their sermon-books under the bench, together with the things that used to be all the rage in the pulpit, and are beginning to preach about faith and good works and subjects of that kind, about which nothing used to be heard or known. At that time, also, you extorted from him a decree for the slaying of Lutherans so horrible that you yourselves could not keep it or tolerate it, and it had to be changed at the diet at Nuremberg; indeed, some of the princes had of their own accord to forbid the edict so that they might not place themselves and their lands and peoples in danger. I am reciting these things not to scoff at you or mock you, for I am already amply revenged upon you; but in order that I may earnestly beg you and faithfully admonish you to learn from your own experience and misfortune to give up henceforth your swaggering and threatening, your force and boasting, and to deal with God in fear and humility, and laying aside your presumption, to seek His help and grace with earnest prayer. This is certain, - if you keep on with your swaggering and boasting, you will find that Muenzer’s spirit still lives and is, I fear, mightier and more dangerous than you can now believe or conceive. It is more your affair than ours, though he is more hostile to us than to you, but God be thanked eternally! we have a defense against him. Would God that you had the same defense!

It is the pure Word and honest prayer.

You know, too, the strong and firm stand that we have taken against all the fanatics. If I wanted to boast, I might also say that we had been your protectors and that it was our doing that you have remained what you still are. If it had not been for us, your scholars would, I fear have been too weak for the case, and the fanatics and rebels would have taught you something that you did not know. Therefore they hate us more than they hate you, and blame us when they have to creep to the cross and recant.

We have to put up with that and learn by experience that the proverb is true, - “If you help a man down from the gallows, he tries to put you on it.” The rebellious knaves would not have known the first thing about attacking the pope; but now that, by our help, they have got free and eat our bread, they lift up their heel against us, as Christ says of Judas, the betrayer.

But some will say here, - “Yes, it is all your fault; you began it, and these are the fruits of your teaching.” Ah, well! I must suffer that, knowing full well that I am accused of it; but, on the other hand, I know many godly people among you who know that it is not true. The work is there in broad daylight, and it is my strong witness. The fanatics have always despised and persecuted my doctrine more than yours, and I have had to set myself against them more strongly and defend myself more harshly than I ever did against the pope. How then, can it have come out of my teaching? Or why did not this disturbance arise among my followers, where I was preaching and teaching every day, and where the first and worst evil should have happened, if this kind of dissension was to come out of my doctrine?

Have you forgotten that at Worms the German nobility laid before his Imperial Majesty some hundred and four statements in which they made complaints against the clergy, and boldly declared that if his Imperial Majesty did not abolish the things complained of, they would do it themselves, because they could no longer endure them? If that had been started (as the rebels afterwards did start it), and a single preacher had arisen to advise that it be done, where would you clergy be now? In hell. And yet my teaching was then in full course, and had given rise to no revolt and was not tending that way, but was teaching the people to keep the peace and obey their rulers. Had it not been for that, the complaints of the clergy would surely have started a pretty game. But now it must be my teaching that has done it. This is the thanks I deserve! To be sure, I desire no other, for so it went with all the prophets and apostles, and with Christ Himself.

In the second place, have you also forgotten how at the first my teaching was so welcome to almost all of you? Were not all the bishops glad to see that the tyranny of the pope, - who was going too hard after the endowed positions, - was checked a little? They could look on and listen and sit quiet and wait for the opportunity to get all of their episcopal jurisdiction back again. A fine teacher was this Luther, who attacked indulgences so honestly! For in those days the bishops and pastors had to put up with it when a monk or a rascal from outside came into their chapters and their parishes and drove a scandalous trade with letters of indulgence, and no one dared to peep. There was no doctor or professor in all the universities or monasteries who could have known how to oppose this miserable business, or have dared to do it. Luther was “dear son”; he cleansed the chapters and parishes of this huckstering and held the bishops' stirrups to help them back into the saddle and threw a stumbling block in the pope’s road; why did you not call that revolt?

Afterwards, when I attacked the monastic life and the monks became fewer, I heard neither bishop or pastor weeping over it, and I know that no greater service has ever been done the bishops and pastors than ridding them of the monks. Indeed I fear that there will be no one now at Augsburg to take the part of the monks and ask that they be restored to their old place. Nay, the bishops will not allow these bed-bugs and lice to be put back in their fur. They are glad that their fur is so clean rid of them, though, to tell the truth, the monks had to rule the Church under the pope, for the bishops did nothing except bear the titles of nobility. I destroyed the monks, not with revolution, but with my teaching, and the bishops were glad; they could not have done it with the force of all the kings and the learning of all the universities; why, then, did they not consider that revolutionary? O, they are too glad that the monks are down and that the pope has almost lost a hand thereby; and yet they give no thanks to Luther, this part of whose doctrine they use so gloriously.

Because I am now discussing the fact that people have forgotten what the world was like before my teaching began, and are not now willing to admit that anyone did anything wrong, I must bring out again the old pretences and picture to the clergy their forgotten virtue, so that they may see or recollect what the world would be like if our Gospel had not come. We, too, may see, to our comfort, what great and glorious fruit the Word of God has produced. We shall begin at the point where my doctrine began, that is, with the indulgences.


If our Gospel had done nothing else than release men’s consciences from the shameful abomination and idolatry of the indulgences, that alone would be enough to show that it was the Word and power of God. For the whole world must admit that no human wisdom could have done this, since no bishop, no chapter, no monastery, no doctor, no university, not I myself, in short, no human reason, understood or knew this abomination; still less did any know how to check it or attack it; everyone had to approve it and let it pass as good and wholesome doctrine; and the dear bishops and the pope got money out of it, and let it go on richly.

1. They sold the indulgence as the divine grace which forgives sin, and thereby Christ’s blood and death were denied and blasphemed, together with the Holy Ghost and the Gospel.

2 . They falsely sold souls out of purgatory by it; it was an insult to God’s majesty, but it brought in a lot of money.

3. They made of the pope a god in heaven, with power to command the angels to carry to heaven the souls of pilgrims who died on the way to Rome.

4. The Gospel, which is the only true indulgence, had to be silent in the churches in the presence of the indulgence.

5. The whole world was cheated and skinned out of immeasurable amounts of money, with the most shameless avarice and lies, on the pretext of war against the Turks.

6. They gave up earlier indulgence-letters for the sake of new ones, and abrogated the old indulgence in the churches for the new one’s sake, and played with the Golden Year, The Golden year is the Jubilee year, in which special indulgences were granted. according as they wanted money. O yes, for war against the Turks!

7. But the pretense of the Golden Year is pure fiction and a baseless lie; to corrupt the faith of Christ and Christ’s daily Golden Year; but countless thousands of souls have been misled by it and the people shamefully deceived into taking pilgrimages to Rome and cheated out of their money, having their pains and their expense for nothing.

8. In the indulgence they sold the good works of the whole Church and also, as a special thing, the absolution which the Gospel forever gives to the whole world free of charge; thus souls were seduced from the Gospel and from Christ to the works of men.

9. They praised the indulgence above all works of love.

10. They made the merits of the saints, beyond what they needed for themselves, the indulgence-treasure, as though Christ’s passion were not sufficient for the forgiveness of all sins; this, too, corrupts faith in Christ.

11. At last they so exalted the indulgence as to teach that if one had even committed a sin of lust with the Mother of God, it would be forgiven him through the indulgence.

12. They taught that when the penny rang in the money-box, the soul rose to heaven.

13. One had no need of penitence and regret in order to get the indulgence; it was enough that one invested his money.

14. St. Peter could not give a grace that was greater than the indulgence.

15. What has now become of the immeasurable money, treasure, and wealth that was so long stolen and so shamefully acquired by means of the indulgence?

In a word, who can tell all the abominations that the indulgence, as a true and mighty idol, has caused in all the chapters, cloisters, churches, chapels, hermitages, altars, pictures, tables, nay, in almost all the houses and chambers, so long as there was money in them? One would have to read again the books that were written against them ten years ago or so. Now speak up, dear sirs! For this unspeakable thievery and robbery of money, and for this inconceivable number of deceived hearts and consciences, and for this terrible and abominable lie, this blasphemy of Christ’s Passion, of the Gospel, of grace, nay, of God Himself, which have been committed by indulgences, all of you clergy are together to blame; not only you who have got money by them, but also you who were silent about it and looked on willingly at this raging of the devil. You talk of rebellion, of confiscation of monasteries, of the Turks! What are all these things together compared to you indulgence-vendors, when one thinks about it? It was a real Turkish army against the true Christian faith.

But which of you has ever once repented for this terrible abomination, or even sighed over it, or had a wet eye? And now, like hardened, unrepentant sinners, you will have it that you never did anything wrong; therefore you come together in Augsburg and want to persuade us that the Holy Ghost is with you and will accomplish great things through you, though all your life long you have done the Church nothing but harm, and that afterwards He will lead you straight to heaven with all these unrepented abominations - nay, with the abominations that you have defended - as though He must rejoice that you have served your god Belly so gloriously and laid waste God’s Church so pitifully. This is why you have no good luck; and you will have none until you repent and amend your ways.

Well, that is one of the pretences! That is the way things went in this matter before my teaching came. That it is no longer so, is the fault of my rebellious Gospel.

It is right that the indulgences should be followed by that other bargaintrade called confessionalia.


These were the butter-letters, in which the pope sold liberty to eat butter, cheese, milk and eggs, to hear mass at home, to marry within the forbidden degrees, and to choose a father-confessor, to be released from penalty and guilt as often as one desires in life and in the article of death, and the like.

Dear, was not this a vicious bargain-trade throughout the world, all invented for the sake of money? As if God had not before given all such things as these freely to all the world through the Gospel; or as if God had forbidden these things, and they were the giants who could sell God’s commandments for money! The Gospel must be nothing, and God must be their merchandise! This skinning, trading and blaspheming, too, has been overthrown by the rebellious Gospel, but now it is all forgotten and there is no bishop or cleric who is sorry, or who needs forgiveness for it before God. Here was another thing that no bishop or doctor attacked, but all kept silence and consented to it. Well, we shall see whether God will let Himself be aped, as they think to do.


Your books are still extant in which you have set down your teaching about confession, which I count one of the greatest plagues on earth, whereby you have confused the conscience of the whole world, cast so many souls into despair, and weakened and deadened all men’s faith in Christ. For you have told us nothing of the comfort of the absolution, which is the main thing and the best thing in confession and which strengthens faith and confidence in Christ; but you have made a work of it, extorted it by force from unwilling hearts in order to strengthen your tyranny; then you have made them worry and torture and scourge themselves by the relation of all their sins, that is, you have disturbed forever the rest and peace of their hearts by laying upon them an impossible task. When will you bring all these souls back again and make up for the deadly, baseless injury you have done them? This kind of confession, too, my Gospel has set to rights, and has given new strength to weak consciences. No bishop, doctor, or university knew anything about this; and even now they have neither sorrow nor pity for this misery.


This is the dregs! It is a very hell! If all the other abominations were forgiven, this one could never be forgiven you. This has filled hell; it has injured Christ’s kingdom more cruelly than the Turk or the whole world could ever do. You taught us that by our works we ought to make satisfaction for sin, even for sin against God; and that was called repenting of sin! You never laid so much importance on contrition and confession, though you made works of them, too. What is it to say, “You must render satisfaction for your sins,” except to say, “You must deny Christ, renounce your baptism, blaspheme the Gospel, call God a liar, disbelieve the forgiveness of sins, trample Christ’s blood and death under foot, dishonor the Holy Ghost, and go to heaven with these virtues by your own efforts”?

Where are there tongues and voices with which to say enough about this?

How does this faith differ from the faith of Turks and heathen and Jews?

All of them, too, would make satisfaction by their works. But how can a soul do anything else than despair if it has no other confidence against sin than its own works? You cannot deny this charge; your books are extant in which nothing is taught concerning faith in the treatment of either penitence or confession, but all the teaching is about our own works. And yet there is neither bishop nor cleric to shed a tear over this horrible, hellish blasphemy of Christ. They are pure and safe. They call us rebels and slay the married priests, contrary to their own law. They are offended because the Lutherans do not make a pretense of fasting, as they do, and do not wear tonsures. They defy the eternal God with their inhuman wickedness.

Out of this abomination have come (nay, they had to come; there was no way to prevent it!) all the other abominations, namely, the self- righteousness of so many of the monasteries and chapters, with their services of worship, their sacrifices, masses, purgatory, vigils, brotherhoods, pilgrimages, indulgences, fasts, worship of saints, relics, evil spirits, and the whole parade of the hellish procession. What else is possible? If conscience is to stand and build on its own works, it stands on sand, which slips and slides continually. It must be looking for works, one after another, and the longer it seeks, the more works it must seek. At last they put cowls on the dead so that the dead might go to heaven. Dear Lord God! What were poor consciences to do? They had to build on works; therefore they had to seek them so wretchedly and snatch whatever they could find, and fall into this deep folly.

By these shameful doctrines, too, all the real good works, which God has established and ordered, were despised and brought to naught. Such are the works of rulers, subjects, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, servants, maids. These were not called good works, and no account was taken of them in repentance. They were known as “a worldly life,” “a perilous state,” “lost works.” Thus this doctrine trod under foot both the Christian and the worldly life, and gave neither God nor Caesar his due. Instead it invented a new and peculiar life, which is neither Christian nor worldly; indeed they do not know themselves what it is, because they have no word of God for it, but as Moses says, they serve gods whom they know not.

This was no wonder. For at that time no one knew how to preach the Gospel otherwise than to teach out of it examples of good works, and no one of us ever heard a Gospel that aimed to give comfort to the conscience and to lead to faith and trust in Christ. That is how it ought to be preached, and, praise God! it is now preached that way again. Thus the world was in the Gospel, and yet it was without the Gospel.

They ought to have made a wise distinction between two kinds of satisfaction for sin, namely, that for sins against men, which can be, and that for sins against God, which cannot be made, as Christ shows in Matthew 7:12 and Matthew 18:15. The holy fathers made use of it and caused Christians who had sinned to render satisfaction before the Church and their brethren. This is apparent from the words with which they imposed two or three or seven years of penance. Thus Christ and His satisfaction would have remained in heaven. But in that way the services in the chapters and monasteries would not have come up, likewise the indulgences of which I spoke above, and the great god Belly would not have got so much. Therefore they had to confuse the two kinds of satisfaction , and at last make satisfaction avail before God only. To be sure, this error attacked the Church from the beginning, and through great men, at that, such as Origen and Jerome and Gregory; but it never reached the government of the Church, nay, the very throne of God, as it has done under the pope. For this is the oldest of errors and goes back to the beginning of the world; it will also remain the newest, clear down to the world’s end. We will now tell of some of the things that have come in later.


You yourselves know, dear sirs, what a scandalous huckstering you have made of the Sacrament. That is the handiwork of all of you, because every day, throughout the world, you have bought and sold so many thousand masses for money, one for a groschen, one for eight pence, one for six pence, etc. You can neither excuse yourselves for this nor lie out of it. For though you have not called this a regular trade, it has been, in fact, nothing else than a trade. It has been done for money; no money, no masses! This sin alone is so horrible that it would be no wonder if God had let the whole world become Turks because of it, or had allowed the world to sink into the abyss; one of the things I marvel at is that God has suffered it so long.

His patience has been inconceivable, though His wrath has not been absent.

You did it, and it was your practice, before our Gospel came. You cannot put on airs; it is so plain that you yourselves shuddered at it; and yet you let it go on, and would not have it called an innovation.

Now your scholars want to be so fine that they bring out the ancient canons and the sayings of the Fathers to prove that they called the mass a sacrifice. Shine yourself up, kitty-cat; you need to! You quote lengthy canons and sayings, but what good does that do? We are talking of private masses, and the canons speak of common masses, or communicants' masses, and they lay great importance to the communing. This the private masses do not do. They compare with the common, or communicants' masses, as a priest’s secret mistress compares with a pious, honest, acknowledged wife. That shows what these great scholars know about quoting the canons. But they do even better than that! The ancient canons distinguish between the sacrifice and the communion, but they scramble the two together. For in the early days of the Church, when mass was held, it was after the fashion of the old law, the Christians brought to the altar all kinds of first-fruits, - milk, honey, apples, pears, etc. The priest then offered this, as Moses commanded the Jews; therefore the service was known for a long while as a sacrifice. This was followed by the communion, or sacrament. They did not call that sacrifice, but communion. But our private masses make a sacrifice out of the sacrament, and let the communion go.

Right here, dear sirs, I must talk with you who cry out that no innovations ought to be allowed. Tell me, is not the private mass a shameful innovation? Why did they allow it to be introduced, and why do they now defend it? Nay, if no innovations had been allowed, how much would we now find among you that was found in the ancient canons and the Fathers?

Why, I could almost get it in a nutshell, while your innovations have filled the world. I will say even more. What was your church-life before our Gospel came but daily innovations? They broke in, one after another; nay, they poured in like a cloud-burst. One set up St. Anne, another St.

Christopher, another St. George, another St. Barbara, another St. Bastian, another St. Catherine, another the Fourteen; and who can tell the whole story of these new kinds of saint-worship? Are not these innovations? Where were the bishops then, and the people who cry out that there must be no innovations? No, even more! One set up the rosary, another the crown of Mary; one the Psalter of Mary, another the pater nosters tones on the church-doors, another the prayers to St. Bridget; one this prayer another that prayer; it was all without number or measure, and there were whole books full of it. Where was there a bishop or doctor who would even look slightly disapproving at these innovations?

It was the same way with the pilgrimages. Every day there was some new place of pilgrimage, - our Lady at Grimmathal, at Eicha, at Birnbaum, at Regensburg, and so many other “our Ladies.” There was scarcely a chapel or an altar but there was a pilgrimage to it, and the people ran to them like crazy, neglecting their work and their obedience, so that it was plainly a delusion of the devil; but the bishops and the monasteries and the universities kept silence. If our Gospel had not come there would soon have been no place left to which pilgrims could go. And was not that a particularly masterly deception with our Lord’s coat at Trier, which was afterwards exposed as a shameful lie? What have all the Lutheran innovations done when compared with this one rascally deception alone?

Here again there was no one who cried out against the novelty or exposed it; but Luther, who exposes and rebukes these new things, is an innovator!

Again, how are the indulgences multiplied every day? How many new brotherhoods do the priests and monks set up, through all the guilds, in the names of all the saints? Every day they sold letters of brotherhood and gave their good works and holy lives in exchange for money. They sold vigils, anniversary masses, masses for the dead, with ceremonies around the bier. Some invented the golden masses, others the “five-masses,” still others masses of this kind and that, till they could not be counted. Nothing is found about these masses in the ancient Fathers.

I shall say nothing about the relics. God help us, how one new one followed another! Among them were gross and palpable lies about the Holy Cross, about many whole bodies of one and the same saint, about many fingers of a single saint. It went so far as that they revered even the drawers of St. Francis, and some woman’s hair as the hair of St.

Catherine. In a word, it was without end or measure, so that you yourselves made a jest of it; and yet it went along unrebuked, and no bishop saw in it anything new.

If I were to come to the pulpits, then things would really be beyond all bounds. Every day the monks were preaching their new visions and dreams and ideas, new miracles and illustrations, and that without measure. There was scarcely a monk who had been a preacher for two or three years who did not make a new sermon-book that was to rule the pulpit for awhile.

The world was full of these books, and there was nothing in them about Christ and faith, but they were all about our own works and merits and devotion, with many false and shameful examples of these things. Even when they did their best in this, it was to call upon the saints, - not forgetting their own order, - until at last they pictured to all the world that holy and noble woman, the Virgin Mary, as the mediator for poor sinners, even with her Son, Christ Himself. For we all know, - and I was as deep in it as all the rest, - that we had taught that Mary was to be held in Christ’s place; we held Christ to be our angry judge and Mary to be our throne of grace, in whom must be all our confidence and refuge, if we were not to despair. Was that not a horrible novelty? Where were the bishops who rebuked these new blasphemers and betrayers of Christ, who took Christ’s office from Him and gave it to Mary, who taught us to flee from Christ and fear Him as though He were master of a whipping-post, and place in someone else the confidence which we owe Him as our true service of God? Sheer idolatry is what we learned from these betrayers!

The doctors in the universities helped it along. They had nothing else to do except invent new “opinions,” one after another, and no one could get a doctor’s degree with special honors, unless he had brought out something new. Their best work, however, was in despising the Holy Scriptures and letting them lie under the bench! “Bible, Bible?” said they. “The Bible is a heretics' book! You must read the doctors! There you find what is what!” I know that I am not lying about this, for I grew up among them and have heard and seen all this from them. Scotus says that the article, “He descended into hell” cannot be proved from the Scriptures.

Occam, my dear master, writes that it cannot be proved from the Scriptures that man needs the grace of God in order to do a good work.

These are the best of them; what are we to expect from the rest. Thomas Aquinas (“teacher of teachers,” the Dominicans call him!) goes them all one better, for he says that to become a monk is as good as to be baptized.

This is the way to honor the blood and the death of Christ! But this is not an innovation! And besides, the pope and all the bishops have made him a saint!

In a word, the condition of the preaching and the teaching was sad and pitiful; but the bishops were all silent; they saw no innovations, though now they can see a new gnat in the sun. Everything was so upside down with discordant doctrines and strange new opinions that no one knew any more what was certain or uncertain, what it was to be a Christian or an un- Christian. The old doctrine of the faith of Christ, of love, of prayer, of the Cross, of comfort in affliction was overthrown; nay, in all the world there was not a doctor who knew the whole catechism - that is, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Creed - to say nothing of understanding and teaching it, as praise God! it is now taught, and learned even by the young children. In proof of this, I call to witness all the books of both the theologians and the jurists. If you can rightly learn from them one part of the catechism, I shall let myself be hooked on the wheel and let the flesh be picked from my bones. And yet in all this there can have been no innovations! But this must be an innovation! “Nay,” say you, “these things are now accepted and in daily use; but your teaching is altogether new.” Tell me, then, dear friend, how old is that idol, St. Anne? How old is the rosary, or the crown of Mary? How old are the bare-foot friars' pater-noster-stones on the doors and the gates and in every corner? How old is the pilgrimage to Grimmathal, to Regensburg, to the coat at Trier, and all the rest? Were they not new ten, twenty, forty years ago? But who was opposed to innovations then? Let my Gospel go that long and it too will become old. “Well, your new Gospel may be right, but it has about it a peculiar novelty, which cannot be endured.” What is that? The canons of Magdeburg say it works harm to purse and kitchen. “There’s sense in that, said the servant.” That would at least be good German; we could understand it; I wish I had known it before! Why have we been wasting so many words? Well, then, let us resolve here, in privy council, that “new doctrine” is that which hurts purse and kitchen, and “old doctrine” is that which fills purse and kitchen. Write that down and seal it; we shall send it to the diet at Augsburg and hear what the lords have to say to it!

God knows I do not say this to your dishonor; your destruction would help me not at all; I would rather things were better with you. But you yourselves may well consider, that if you forget these abominations, and preen yourselves into the bargain, there will be people who do not forget, and will perhaps deal with them foully enough. For such a shameless procedure cannot be endured, that you should give the name of innovation to whatever you please, and that whatever you choose not to call innovation cannot be such. You are suppressing the truth and doing so against your own consciences. This would bring us back to the beginning of the whole matter, and we would be harsher with you than before. It is a terrible thing when one undertakes to conceal such a wretched state of affairs, and justify it, and slander and persecute others. That will be a sign of a hardened and unrepentant heart, and will show that you must soon go to destruction, for no other sin insults and angers God more than denying, adorning, and concealing open wickedness. This was the sin of Cain and of Saul. Not so, dear sirs! Do not so! Some of you do honor God! Confess that in these matters you have done wrong. Humble yourselves, and He will exalt you; pray, and He will forgive you; amend your ways, and He will help you.

But if you will not humble yourselves, but prefer to bury these matters in silence, and leave them unrepented and unpunished, and rather persecute the poor Lutherans because of them, and take it in mind to suppress them, well, we shall watch you. If a plague comes upon you (and it cannot but come), remember that you had warning enough; you will not be the first to boast yourselves above God; this I know for sure. My mind toward you is kindly and true; I would that I might move some of you, because I hope that there may still be a Lot or two in your Sodom. The rest, who remain unrepentant, will not only not acknowledge these abominations, by which they have deserved death more than a thousandfold, but they will, because of them, kill, drown, hang, and burn the innocent ones who will not praise this vice and shame; as, indeed, they are now doing.

But too many things are coming to my mind! I shall return to the private masses, and spare the abominations which I am now thinking about until I see how you amend your ways, or how you adorn and excuse yourselves, at this diet; then we shall come with your right color, and bid you Proficiat, if God will.

Let this be enough, for the present, about the traffic in paid masses! But even when they are not sold, but are said, at their best, for God’s sake, nevertheless you teach and hold them as a sacrifice and a work whereby one serves God and makes satisfaction for sin, both for ourselves and for others, whether living or dead, and especially for the dead, as we all know that the mass has almost to fight for the dead against purgatory. The suffragan bishop who made me a priest and put the cup in my hand said these very words, “Receive power to sacrifice for the living and the dead.” That the earth did not swallow us both was wrong, and was due to God’s too great patience. The living had this benefit from it, - they believed that he who witnessed one mass a day was safe and sound and blessed. This was the best and commonest use of the mass; you cannot deny it. Ask the merchants about it and those who have to make journeys, and the pious burghers of the cities, at least at the Rorate Mass. Is not this a horrible innovation? Do not your ancient Apostolic Canons say, “No one shall be present at mass who does not desire to communicate or receive the Sacrament”? Did not Christ institute it in order that it might be received, and that He might be remembered, and that faith in Him might be strengthened, when He said, “This do in remembrance of me?” But you keep silent about this remembrance, allow people neither to remember Him nor receive the Sacrament and do not teach or exhort men to faith, according to Christ’s institution; but you are satisfied to let the bystanders see the mass which you meanwhile are secretly offering. Thus you allow the poor onlookers to keep in their hearts the lie and the false confidence that by their onlooking they have done a good work, though they have had none of the blessing of the Sacrament, either physical or spiritual, as Christ willed it and His apostles after Him. I say it again! You complain that the endowments and the monastic property are being taken away; because of this abomination and vicious abuse of the mass, they ought to do to the endowments and the monasteries what Josiah, king of Juda, did to the altar at Bethel, not leave one stone upon another. That would be fair and just, if you were not to amend your ways in this respect.

You cry out, “What good has come out of Luther’s new doctrine?” I must ask you a question in reply, “What good is left among you?” You have left not one thing incorrupt. The mass, our peculiar and highest treasure, you have put to shame with countless abominations and idolatries, as I have said; and you have trampled its right Christian usage under foot, disturbed faith, and silenced the Word. Baptism has remained for the children, though it has been used clumsily and carelessly enough; but as soon as the child has grown up and come to the use of reason, you have straightway killed him, worse than the Turk does, and have taken his baptism away again with your miserable doctrine of penance and works whereby he learns to despise his baptism, as now lost by sin and become of no value, and henceforth to seek salvation by his own works. As though baptism were a temporary human work, as the Anabaptists teach, and not an everlasting covenant of God! Tell me here, what good have you left? I shall not ask what good would have come if we had been unable to maintain, in spite of you, our baptism, Sacrament, Gospel, faith, and Christ; for you have taught nothing that was right, but all your teaching has been against baptism, the Sacrament, and repentance. That is plain as day.

Those who live among the Turks have this advantage, that if a man is baptized he is not taught doctrines that are against his baptism, though the evil Turkish life and example is perilous and offensive. And even though there were teaching against baptism, it would be easy to resist, because the Turk is not a Christian and is held in contempt among Christians, along with his doctrine. But among you, not only are life and example dangerous, but you teach against baptism and storm against it with words and works, and do this under the name of Christ, as the dear fathers of souls, and the friends of baptism. That cuts like a sharp razor, as the Psalm says, and St.

Peter, too, laments over you in 2 Peter 2:18, “They utter swelling words though there is nothing back of them, and entice by lasciviousness to fleshly lust those who had just escaped, and now must walk in error, etc.”

The good that has come out of my doctrine is that all this abomination and blasphemy of yours has been brought to light and condemned; and this is a great good and more than enough, though more good comes out of it every day, as will appear later. Among you, however, all good is corrupted and none has remained.


You know, to begin with, that it is a great robbery and outrage that you have snatched for yourselves the great ban, called Excommunicatio major, which properly belongs to the secular authorities. It has gone so far that popes have undertaken to depose emperors, kings, and princes, and make themselves temporal emperors. Let me tell you, dear sirs, that this is not right! Your ban should be called the small ban, which shuts the doors, not of earth, but of heaven, and separates from the Church and from the Sacrament, as Christ says in Matthew 18:17, “Hold him as a heathen, etc.,” and St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:, “What have I to do with them that are without?” If other matters are to be amended, this too must be amended, for God is not pleased with any sacrifice or service that comes from robbery, as Isaiah says.

The use of the ban is another thing. It should be for the punishment of public offenses, such as robbery, adultery, fornication, murder, hate, usury, drunkenness, also heresy, blasphemy and the like, for our Lord Christ teaches in Matthew 18:17, that the ban shall be put upon those who will not hear the Church, or congregation. Thus the Church teaches in harmony with God’s Word.

Now tell me, what is good and ancient about the ban that has remained among you? What new and mischievous abuses have not arisen around it? I shall not bring in the fact that you have banned, cursed, damned, and slain innocent and pious people as heretics. The ban is used for nothing else than to collect taxes and debts and cause great misery to poor people. For the arbitrary power that the knaves, officials, and commissaries have exercised in this matter is already known to you in part; and if you do nothing about it at this diet we shall hereafter put out a calendar of these virtues which will convince you that we have understood your abuse of the ban and will make it plain to the whole world.

But in the place where the ban should rightly have its power and use, it has been a mere indulgence and a very benediction, and has lost its cuttingedge.

The place I mean is among the bishops and canons, nay, among the popes and the cardinals themselves. On this point, I would like to hear a doctor of canon law who would show me how often, according to the canons and the spiritual law, the pope, cardinals, bishops, priests, endowed livings and monasteries have been put under the ban and cursed because of simony and other vices. Who holds them excommunicate? The declaration is in their hand and runs as follows, - “He is under the ban whom we will to be under the ban; whom we will not have under the ban, he is not under the ban.” Go on, dear sirs; if your will is to be law, the Church can get rid of such bishops and popes!

I wish I knew what we are to take you for anyhow. You do not want to be Christians, for you will not endure Christ’s word and ordinance; and you do not want to be papists, for you keep the canons and the spiritual law even less; though, to be sure, they are much harder to keep than the Gospel. But is it not a strange piece of news that papists will not be papists, and yet will give themselves out to be papists; will hold the goods of the Church and the rule over it, but only for their own sweet will, not for the good of the churches? These things do not fit together. Well, then, keep on being Epicurean and Turkish, for that is certainly what you are!

But just because the goods of the monasteries and the endowments are being seized, I must have a private and friendly talk with you.

It is a fact, - and it does not please me either, - that these goods are seized and scattered. The Unlutherans are doing most of it, and get more of the profits than those who are accused of being Lutherans, as can easily be proved. I am especially ill-pleased when knaves get hold of them, of whom I know that they have not earned it; for my conscience does not trouble me when those who work and render honest service get some of them. But there is one question that I would like to have answered, because there are plainly two kinds of endowment - thieves and monastery-robbers, those, namely, who are outside and those who are inside, and I would like to be told who are the worse of the two. Those on the outside are the wicked and unworthy of whom I spoke; those on the inside are the bishops, the canons, and the monks themselves, who sit in the houses. They misuse the property for all kinds of vice and unchastity, and shamelessly overstep the bounds of their order, and send great sums to Rome to knaves that are still greater. Thus they plunder the endowed places shamefully!

Think you not that if the emperors, kings, and princes, who have endowed these monasteries and bishoprics, had wanted to found brothels, or churches for the Romans to rob, they would have had sense enough to act differently and not hand over their money and property to harlots and knaves, or to Roman thieves and robbers? Because, then, such fellows sit in the endowed houses and monasteries, and their property is used by people whom the founders neither intended nor willed, and these fellows, therefore, hold it contrary to the will of the founders, consume it in vicious ways, and employ it shamefully, and are, on this account, under the ban and accursed as irregulares, - since all these things are true, tell me, who are the greatest endowment-robbers and church-thieves? You will see the pope sitting in the highest place among them, with cardinals, bishops, canons, abbots, and monks; for they do none of that for which their positions were founded, but exactly the opposite, as though they were crazy; nevertheless, they take the property and use it as they please. Ah, good friend, if you can see the splinter in another’s eye and cry out about the theft of spiritual goods, you must be shown the beam in your own eye, which you do not want to see. If you can say the one, you must also hear the other, so that you may know that other people, too, have eyes, and feel and smell and hear.

You allege that what is yours should not be taken from you. Of course, what is yours should not be taken. Nevertheless, I would play your canon law with you. The canon law condemns, bans, curses, and deposes you, and says, “It is not yours.” It is called Deponatur. For you do not keep the rule and law of the foundation, and you have deposed yourself thereby.

Thus according to your own law, you lost your property long ago, and have so far held it unlawfully like damned robbers. If one were to decline and conjugate the word deponatur through all its persons, where would pope, cardinals, bishops, and canons be? It would surely become an impersonal verb; no person would be left. But if you think it proper that people have patience with you for not keeping your own law, then you should also think it proper to have patience with those who take property from you, as unrepentant simonists and outlawed robbers, or forbid you to succeed to it, because you do not keep your own law; that is Deponatur.

May your request be granted, then, that what is yours be left to you, that is, your harlotry and knavery; but that what is not yours, that is, the taxes and the goods, be not left to you, but be taken from you, as from robbers and thieves!

I do not wish this to be a defense for anyone. Let everyone see to it for himself for what service or purpose he needs the property. But against the complainants I make a distinction in the use of spiritual goods. I say that if the goods of the foundations and monasteries are to be knavishly stolen and sent to Rome and shamefully consumed out there with harlots and knaves, and the intention of the founders is to be defeated, I would far rather that the emperors, kings, princes and lords kept them and put them to better use. For it is sure that the founders entrusted them to pious, chaste, Christian persons, not men who stood and bellowed, or who went a-falconing, but to men who studied and read and prayed, so that learned men could be chosen from among them to be bishops, pastors, preachers, schoolteachers, chancellors, secretaries, etc.; and this was the case long ago, at the beginning. Now, however, they neglect and despise these works and duties; nay, they mock at them and persecute them, and are under the ban many times over; therefore I should not weep if they were to lose the profit and the income. There is a saying, Beneficium propter officium, but not beneficium propter maleficium. Your own canon law teaches that, and punishes it most cruelly with the ban, and calls it simony.

Tell me, now, what pope, bishop, foundation or monastery has ever known sorrow or repentance because it has allowed the officia to go down, or has ever seriously considered how they might be restored again? Nevertheless they have used the beneficia and lived on them. Thus they are two-fold church-thieves and double monastery-robbers; for they have not only possessed the goods that were given for a different kind of people from themselves, but they have also stolen and robbed from the whole Church and prevented it from having pious, learned, Christian bishops, pastors, preachers and like necessary persons, whom the Church cannot do without, and whom it was their duty to give it, according to the intention of the founders. Dear friend, the founders did not intend the officia to be the weaving of a long cloak, an alb, and a tonsure, or the putting on of chasubles and consecrated clothes. Sticks and stones can wear these things! Their will was to train people for the comfort and welfare of the Church.

If, then, you would make such a great disturbance about the restoration of the endowments and the monasteries, the proper answer to you is: Dear sirs, first make good your double robbery of persons and of property. You have robbed the Church of the persons; you have stolen the property from the foundations. Give these back, so that the officia may go on again, and then you may rightly acquire the beneficia. Such persons are more important to the Church than all the property and all the glory of all the clergy. If not, it will be bad accounting for you to give account of the expenditures only, and merely estimate the income. You must be told to keep your books differently and look better to your work. You have received the property of the lords in order to support and train persons.

Where are these persons? Give an account of them! Nay, it is you who have let the boys' schools go down, so that the whole Church everywhere is, through you, corrupted to the very bottom, for no other purpose than that your Epicurean belly may be well off.

I have said this so that it may be seen what the condemners of motes gain by stirring up filth. Therefore remember God, and ask Him to help you accomplish some good at this diet. These matters are great and weighty, and unfortunately they are so deep rooted that human power and wit can do nothing with them. The ban is necessary, but Lord God! it must not strain out gnats and swallow camels, or nothing will come of it.

The subjects of penance, mass, baptism, faith, and works are, I fear, too high for you. Therefore I have small hope that you will reach pure decisions about them, for even your scholars have no understanding of them, and these things must be maintained and practiced only through Christ Himself and His Holy Spirit, without human aid. Then, too, except for the first of them, only one or two of the Councils have dealt with them.

Therefore I shall confine my further petitions, supplications, and exhortations to the subjects about which we do not need the special illumination of the Holy Spirit, but which all Christians can comprehend and be sure of, and which can almost be known by the reason. And first:


On this point, you well know that the one kind is an offensive innovation, contrary to the clear, plain words of Christ and against the long, ancient usage of the whole Church. All this has been mightily demonstrated to you by much Scripture; nevertheless, you great enemies of all innovation have not only accepted and maintained this blasphemous innovation, but have defended it arbitrarily with cruel ragings and persecutions, whereby you have tempted God to the uttermost, and blasphemed and condemned His Word. God grant that you may repent it, and submit your idea to His Word! You could not support it with any Scripture; and if you maintain it with outrage and force against the Scriptures, no good will come out of it in the end. It does not help you to allege that we are to do nothing new and alter nothing; for you have heard that this thing is new, and that it is you who, without ceasing, have brought innovation and alteration into the Church. What is altered according to God’s Word is no innovation, for all customs must give way to the Word of God; so your own law says. God and His Word are older than you are; they will also be younger and newer than you and we, for they are eternal. Therefore the Word must alter and rule both old and new, and not be altered or ruled either by new or old.

You allege that without the consent of the Church, nothing should be changed and nothing introduced. Who, then, is the Church? Are you? Then show your seals and credentials; or prove it, without them, in some other way, by means of your deeds and your fruits. Why are not we too the Church? We are baptized as well as you; and we teach, preach, have the sacraments, believe, pray, love, hope, and suffer more than you. Or are you the Church because you bring in innovations, and in so doing, change, blaspheme, persecute, and slay God’s Word and, as church-robbers, hold possession of the foundations and monasteries? Yes, you are the Church, - the devil’s church! She is a liar against God’s Word and a murderess, because she sees that her god, the devil, is a liar and a murderer. The true Church must be the one that holds to God’s Word and suffers for it, as, praise God! we do, and murders no one and leads no one away from God’s Word. You ought not, therefore, say to us so much “Church, Church, Church.” You ought rather make us certain that you are the Church; that is the important thing. The devil, too, can say, “I am God; worship me.” The wolf can say, “I am the shepherd.” We know very well that we must listen to the Church; but we ask, Who and where is it?

God help you to a reformation on this point! If you do not reform, we shall continue, by God’s grace, to do as we have done heretofore. Nay, I shall go further, and say, If God wills that at this diet you make some concessions, we shall not accept them from you with the thought that by your concessions things that were wrong before are now made right. No, we count you far too small for us to think that it is in your arbitrary power to say when and how long God is truthful or a liar, and when and how long His Word is right or wrong. That would be too much! It would be putting you, with the pride of Antichrist, above God and His Word, and taking back all that we have taught and done. On the contrary, we want to have this forced from you by God’s Word, and have you blasphemers, persecutors and murderers compelled to it, so that you humble yourselves before God, confess your sins, your murders, and your blasphemy against God’s Word, and reform, as men who have hitherto done wrong, persecuted God’s Word, and shed innocent blood. We want this sin and wickedness of yours to be unconcealed, and are not willing to consent to it by keeping quiet and covering things up, thus making ourselves partakers in these abominations. We are willing to stake everything on this, and fight this out with you on the basis of God’s Word, which you persecute. For, as I said at the beginning, we do not need your diet and your resolutions. We stand where we do stand, without your help; nay, we stand there against your raging and raving. But for your own sakes, and for the poor people’s sakes, we are doing what we do, on the chance that we may help you, or some of you, and that we may give the people good advice, to the honor of God and the welfare of Christendom.


Coelibatus, that is the unmarried state, or prohibited marriage, is another of your papal innovations contrary to the eternal Word of God and to the ancient blessed usage of the Church; contrary also to God’s creation. But in it is fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 11:37, where he says of your king, “Neither shall he regard any god, nor the desire of women.” It must be a great sin not to love women, for the prophet indicates here that it is a peculiar abomination of Antichrist, and puts it next after the denial of God. The old translation has, Erit in concupiscentiis foeminarum, “He shall be in desire of women”; but that would not be an antichristian “virtue”; it would have to be Erit in concupiscentiis masculorum, though that is what he means when he says Affectum erga mulieres non curabit, which is the correct text.

Now, dear sirs, if you would be pious and do a good deed, compel yourselves to repentance for all the miserable and unspeakable wretchedness of all kinds of vice throughout the world which has grown out of this accursed papal innovation. It hangs about the necks of all of you, and it will stay there, unless you do something about it, and remove it.

You have heard that to despise the love of women, that is, to forbid marriage, is an abomination and plague of Antichrist, for God made woman to be held in honor, and to be the helper of man. Therefore He would have this love unforbidden and undespised. It is the flesh and the devil that teach us to use women only for dishonor by putting one after another of them to shame, as your new, highly praised, unmarried (I had almost said dishonorable) state has done and still does. That is not loving women, but loving unchastity, and loving shame done to women, and holding them not as women, but as harlots, whom no one can thenceforth love or honor. But it is God’s will that they be regarded as women, and that this be done gladly and with love; that is to say, we are to have them in marriage, and dwell with them in marital love. That pleases God, but it takes knowledge and grace.

Or do you know that the sixth commandment says, “Thou shalt not break the marriage vow?” This commandment, like all the rest, makes no distinction of persons, spiritual or temporal, priests or laymen. They are not to break the marriage vow, that is, not to touch another’s wife. But it is certain that the commandment, in forbidding everyone another’s wife, permits everyone a wife of his own; nay, in order that no one may touch another’s wife, it compels him to have his own wife. If it were true, as the dear canons wickedly declare, that a pastor cannot serve God if he has a wife of his own, then this sixth commandment would have to be entirely abolished and would not apply generally to persons of all kinds, and permit them to have their own wives.

Right here I would like to speak of other commandments also. For example, “Thou shalt have no money or property of thine own, otherwise thou canst not serve God.” And yet the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” allows one to have one’s own money and property, and only forbids one to have another’s property; nay, in order that one may not steal, it commands that one have one’s own property. Therefore I do not yet know whether there is more danger of sin from one’s own money or one’s own wife. Avarice, Mammon, and Company are indeed mighty! It is a great knavery of the canon law that it declares that God cannot be served if one has one’s own wife, and that He can be well served if one has one’s own Mammon, money, property, castles, and cities. The opposite is true! It is better to serve God having a wife, than having property, though neither is a hindrance to a Christian. For a wife one already has, and the worry of how to get her is over, and she can take care of herself; but of money one can never get enough, and one worries incessantly how to increase it and keep it. It is this worry and love that are the real hindrances to the service of God, and such worry a wife can well take from a pastor by doing the worrying herself and letting him serve God entirely.

Again, one might easily play the fool with the fifth commandment and say, “Thou canst not have weapons, guns, and other arms and serve God at the same time, for thou mightest kill, do injury, or be hindered thereby.” And yet the fifth commandment only forbids killing, but permits weapons and arms; nay, in order that murder may be prevented, it commands to have weapons and arms. Why have our marriageless saints both their own money and their own arms, and do their farming and their fighting with a clear conscience? Does not that hinder them in the service of God? No, but a little wife must hinder them! It was a dolt that made this canon and a dolt that made the other. Nevertheless he has blinded the whole world, even the great scholars!

The devil, however, wanted so to fix things, by means of this canon, that his celibates should have no wives of their own, but should have instead the wives, daughters, and maids of everybody else, and Sodom into the bargain. This would not have been the case had they been married. It was also his will that instead of having their own property, which is hard to acquire, they should swallow up the property of all the world and consume it in idleness, which would not happen if they had to seek and acquire property for themselves. In like manner they have forbidden weapons, so that they might lay hands on the swords of all the kings and do with them what they would; this too would not be the case, if they had their own swords. It is a wonder of wonders that these three things, - all sorts of free unchastity, all sorts of avarice and splendor, all sorts of weapons and war, - do not prevent these unmarried saints from serving God, and yet one pious wife prevents them!

If everything were to fail, and pope, bishops, canons, and even the people were to remain in their unmarried knavish state, - since even the heathen poet admits that pimps and procurers take wives unwillingly, - I hope, nevertheless, that you will have pity on the the poor parish priests and pastors, and allow them to marry; and that you will not be such shameful, murderous, crazy canonists and jurists as you have been in the past. For your canons decree that a married priest is to be suspended, that is, put out of office; and you, with your dull asses and Bacchantes, have interpreted that to mean that they are to be hanged, drowned, run through, murdered, and hunted. So utterly bloodthirsty and murderous are you bloodhounds that you are not ashamed to rage as you will even against and beyond your own law. If you will not have pity, - and I fear that so much innocent blood, so many horrible sins and such enormous wickedness hang on your necks and press so hard upon you that God will hardly give you grace to do otherwise than you are doing, except to bring your own destruction upon you, as St. Peter says in his second Epistle, - well, God’s will shall be done, nevertheless, and not your pleasure.

For the monks I know not what to ask. It is well known that you wish them all to the devil, whether they take wives or not. And not without reason, for two roosters on the same dunghill cannot endure one another.

They want to have the life that you have and that you would like to have all to yourselves; and that you cannot suffer. Therefore let them go, the rascals! They must not lead the lives of bishops or canons; that befits only the Church and the servants of God; and that means you. God Almighty will do more and better than you intend, and than we expect of you, Amen!

Else, I fear, the devil will be abbot and his dam will be abbess. And yet, I have one hope and comfort; you cannot live here forever, and we must always be training up new parish priests and pastors, and, God willing! the young fellows, who are coming on, will not allow themselves to be tied up with your crazy, wicked vows and obligations to the unhonored state and other abominations. But if the parish clergy become corrupt and the people are without the Word, and if the monks go down, you will see how long bishops and canons, foundations and monasteries will remain. There must be pastors, even if there are no bishops, canons, or monks.

Christendom was maintained for many hundred years without these endowment-bishops and canons, and it can henceforth be maintained without them. At the Last Judgment no Christian soul will be able to boast or testify that in all these centuries a single one of them had ever heard or learned from his endowment-bishop the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, or one of the Gospels, or ever had or enjoyed from him a single episcopal duty or work. “We ourselves lived, before Luther, as though we had no bishops, and so we must continue to live.” I know for sure that the whole world must say that, before Luther’s doctrine, they received no more from their bishops than they do now, and receive no less now than they received before, except that they suffer from extortion and assessment. They cannot feel or notice whether they used to have bishops, or have none now; so little experience have they had of episcopal offices and duties! This is called watching diligently over souls; and this is the way they want to watch over them again! “Nay,” say they, “we consecrate and ordain others to do these things in our stead.” Even this they do not do; it is the suffragan who does it, and he has nothing of the bishop about him, for he only ordains to the sacrificing of the mass, makes no inquiry at all about how and what is to be preached and what the people need to learn; therefore he is satisfied when the priests can hardly read a requiem, smears them quickly with his chrism and lets them pass on. When these men are preachers, it is God who makes them so, and by them He maintains His Church; it would long since have perished a hundred thousand times if it had depended on the bishops and suffragans.

As for the evil state in which it has been and still is, - whose fault is it, except that of the bishops, who sit in the apostles' seat and in the episcopal office, and do none of the things they ought to do, and let everything go to ruin? And yet they cry out that they should be allowed to have the ruling place they used to have, because they seek the salvation of souls. It was a fine government and they seek the salvation of souls! Yes, it was the devil on their heads (for he rides them) and the misfortune of all of us around our necks, as we found out before! It is a question of princely meum and tuum; the bishop’s office will still rest with the pastors and preachers.

They allege further, - “We let people study in the universities; they learn to preach ably, and then we have them ordained by the suffragan.” That is true - and unfortunate! You let them study; so do the Turks and the Jews! But what help do they give them, and what help do you give them out of your mammon of endowments? And yet this is your serious duty!

Nay, it grieves you that there are universities; you smell a poisonous breath in them. You are rid of the monks or have them in hand; that fruit of the Gospel you have accepted gladly. You would like to be rid of the theologians and scholars too; they are still in your way! If they were out of the way you would be completely the masters of the parish clergy. Then you could mount again above kings and princes; nay you could command the pope himself, who cannot do without you, and you bishops would be the only gods and lords on earth. That is what you are after, dear sirs! Is it not true that the secret conference of Mainz, where I could not be present, took a step in this direction? Then we would have a world full of jackasses, and the Church would have no Word and no pastoral office.

Yes, you would them study; but the livings of the chapters, which have been incorporated with the universities, no one gets unless he has first studied by other people’s help; and if he is to get them, he must first buy them, and pay for them with a sum of money; and when he has paid for them, is bound to howl and blatt in the chapter, so that his studies and his knowledge bring no benefit to the office of preacher or teacher. That is the way you help the Church!

Granting, however, that you ordain others in your place (which you do not do), who are to preach and be bishops in your stead, you must remember that I am now speaking of bishops and not of men who make appointments. A peasant, or village judge, a town, a prince, can also appoint a preacher, but that does not make any of them a bishop. A bishop is one who is himself to feed God’s people. For there is Paul’s instruction to bishops in the Book of Acts, - “Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock, among whom the Holy Ghost has made you bishops, to feed the community of God, which He has won with His own blood.” If you were bishops, as your name and place require you to be, your hair would stand on end at this saying, and you would be as sorry to be bishops as I am to be a preacher and doctor; for you would be little better off than I and men like me. St. Paul also says, “A bishop shall be didacticus,” that is, “apt to teach,” “persistent in teaching.” He does not mean prince-bishops or castle-bishops, but bishops of the Church, who do the work that, praise God! many of His pastors do, even though they do not wear miters, which blockheads and “Nicholas-bishops” can also wear. For that you, as bishops, should supervise what is rightly taught, and do not know yourselves what it is, - that is laughable! No, sad to say, it is not laughable! We have had experience of the good that your oversight does, as the subjects above treated show!

Of all this, dear sirs, I have had to remind you and exhort you, because I see that you do not fear God, and seek neither contrition nor repentance for your horribly perverted life, and have not even qualms of conscience over it; for by this God is angered to the uttermost. For since we poor Lutherans have taken wives, you venture to think that you have at last one thing about us to take hold of, because you could find nothing else. You have thought that you would use it, and scourge us with it and press us with it, so that all your shameful, unchaste harlotry, all your robbing of monasteries and stealing of endowments, the whole unsavory mess of your abominations and perverted, unbishoplike abuses, shame, vice, injury and corruption of the Church, - all this would be concealed, covered up, lost in silence, and come to be praised as fair and fine. Thenceforth you might claim for yourselves all authority, even over the apostles themselves, because you were pure and innocent people, who never muddied the water.

A good trip to you, dear sirs! But see that you make no mistakes. Do not say, “Hurrah!” You are not yet over the hill! You have seen how you can dress yourselves up, but you have not yet seen how we can strip the pretty bag off from you, and paint you in such colors that you must spit at your very selves. Do not boast and strut; your case is not as good as you think!

Even though you can load us with wives, whom we yet acknowledge before God with a good conscience, and also before the world, as our married wives, and not as our harlots, you will never believe in how masterly a fashion we will polish up your mistresses and stolen wives, whom you and we both know that you have with no good conscience, and whom you do not acknowledge before the world except as your harlots.

Thus you must call yourselves and be judged as whore-master, before both God and the world. Besides we will paint you Roman Sodom, Italian marriage, Venetian and Turkish brides, and Florentine bridegroom in such wise that you shall see and grasp that our marriage has had sweet revenge on your honorless chastity. And though some of you, perhaps, may not be guilty of all these things, we shall not ask about this. The protector, defender, fellow, and comrade will be on the same footing with those who are themselves guilty, for the reason that they do not rebuke, ban, and avoid these sins (as the Gospel and your own law teach), but help these evildoers, aid them, and join them in raging against us, and by this help, make themselves partakers of all these abominations, and are therefore no better than the guilty.

Never a heathen, never a Turk, never a pope, never an emperor, never a man on earth, has made or enforced a law that anyone should be put to death for marrying. Thus it is a new and unheard-of thing begun by you bishops, who, in your chapters, are the greatest endowment-robbers, whore-masters, and hunters of harlots on earth. And you do it not in order to maintain chastity, but because others will not practice harlotry and unchastity as you do; for you allow it to go unrebuked. And no one can believe that you mean well by chastity with this penalty, since there are no greater enemies of chastity anywhere than you are, for you persecute it most shamelessly and incessantly in your own persons with all unchastity.

To be sure, this is a very small thing compared with the great common abomination, viz., that you are the kind of bishops described above, and in time, if you do not improve shall be painted in other colors. For if we are to have godless harlot-masters and enemies of God for bishops, we shall honestly show them in what church they belong; this you will certainly discover. For as long as you are unwilling to let our marriage alone, you shall have little honor or joy from your harlotry and antichristian bishopry.

If I die because of it, there are others who can do it better! In a word, you and we know that you live without God’s Word, but we have God’s Word.

Therefore our supreme request and humble petition is that you will give God the honor, confess your sin, repent, and reform. If not, take this from me, - if I live, I shall be your plague; if I die, I shall be your death. For God has set me on you; I must be, as Hosea says, a bear and a lion in the road of Assur; you shall have no rest from my name, until you amend your ways or are destroyed!

Therefore we give you your choice. First, since you cannot and will not perform your episcopal duties, since you and all your scholars verily, verily, are unable to preach and be the comforters and judges of consciences; then leave us your office, which it is your duty to exercise; let us be free to teach the Gospel, and let us serve the poor people, who wish to be godly.

Do not persecute and prevent those who do what you cannot do (though it is your duty), and which others are willing to do for you.

In the second place, We shall make no other request of you, nor will we take any pay from you; but if God supports us otherwise, we will do the work, so that you may be spared both work and pay, trouble and expense. Not that we are so anxious to preach! Speaking for myself, indeed, I can say that there is no message I would hear more gladly than that of my own deposition from the preaching-office. I am so tired of it; partly because of the ingratitude of the people, but much more because of the intolerable hardships which the devil and the world lay upon me! But though the poor souls do not want my preaching, there is a man who says “No” to my withdrawal. His name is Jesus Christ, and it is right for me to follow Him, for He has earned my service. All of you know (praise God!) that the Lutheran preachers are godly men and do you no harm, but are more useful to you than all your and the pope’s scholars. You have never had more pious heretics, nor will you ever get them; pray God that they may be spared to you!

In the third place, We will let you remain what you are, and teach, - as you have done in the past, - that you are to be allowed to be princes and lords, for the sake of peace, and are to be permitted to keep your property.

The Hussites and Wiclifites did not do this, and none of the fanatics or revolutionaries are willing to do it now. Thus you see that in us you have not enemies, but friends, nay, even protectors. For how does it hurt us if you are lords and princes? If you are not willing to do what is right for your class and position, well and good! It is not we, but you who must give account. Only keep the peace, and do not persecute us! We ask nothing more, and never have asked anything more, than that the Gospel shall be free. You could help us and we could help you to peace. If you do it not, then we carry off the honor, and you lose both, peace and honor.

In the fourth place, You could set up again the episcopal power, in so far as you left us free to preach the Gospel. For my own part, I shall be ready with help and counsel, so that you may have something of episcopal rank.

You would have two parts of the episcopal office; - the one, that in your stead we and the preachers would teach the Gospel; the other, that with your episcopal power, you would help in the administration of it. Your persons, your life, and your princely ways we would leave to your own conscience and to God’s judgment. Heretofore we never have taken your episcopal authority from you; you yourselves have let it fall. For when you could not maintain with it the indulgences and other intolerable abuses, you let it go altogether, and were not willing to protect our Gospel, or even to tolerate it, but turned this authority against us and against the Gospel. Then it had to strike itself a blow that dulled its edge; for God did not ordain it against His Word, but for His Word.

More than this we cannot offer you, except the daily prayer, the good will, and the service which it is our duty to offer all our enemies. Our offer is this, - we will perform the duties of your office; we will support ourselves, without cost to you; we will help you to remain what you are and advise that you have authority to see that things go right. What more should we do? We are carrying a heavy load; we have burdened ourselves with you and the revolutionists and all the world, yes, and all the devils; and nobody helps us. If you, too, will not help, but keep on pressing us down, beware lest you break our backs in two, and try our patience too far. If you are going to suppress the pious heretics who are carrying you along, see what becomes of you. The game is no longer in our hands, as it was before, but the devil has got it away from us; we can help you no more, if you do not help yourselves also, and have regard not to yourselves, but to the multitude of common people and to peace. It is high time that you do this, and we too will do our best. If there be among you one pious heart, it can well gather from this whole tract that I am telling the truth, and must tell it, and sincerely mean it well for you and for everyone. More than this I cannot do; your cause is too utterly bad.

But someone may think it a laughable proposal that the bishops shall rule the Church, because it is well known that they cannot and will not learn, and St. Paul says that one who rules his own house badly will never rule the Church well, and it is plain to be seen how the bishops preside over their chapters and maintain discipline by allowing them to be impunita lupinaria et latrocinia. My answer is this. I know only to well that it is true; but in order that these wicked people may see that we seek peace and that there is no fault in us, I can suffer it that they provide the parishes and preaching-position with spiritual persons, and thus help to administer the Gospel. I would rather that the fault should be theirs than ours, and before now God has ruled and done good by means of rascals, and He must think that it is now the time when Herod is selling the priestly office in Jerusalem, and the Romans are doing likewise; nevertheless worship remains, and the Word. But if they wish to quench the Gospel or even to remain unrepentant, let them do it at their own risk; we shall preach what we will. If they are eager for misfortune, God will soon raise up another Muenzer, who will overthrow them entirely. If they will not be bishops in God’s name, let them be bath-house keepers in the devil’s name; we are not to blame, nor are we the cause of it. The Lutherans remain masters, because Christ is with them and they remain with Christ, though hell, world, devil, princes, and all should go crazy.

To discuss more points now would take too long. God help you at the diet to act in such wise that it may not be necessary for us to go over everything again from the beginning; that is not good for you and we prefer to be spared the trouble. And yet, in order that you may not think that what I am saying is a mere threat, I should here set down the subjects that should be discussed by both sides.

The Subjects with which it is necessary to deal in the true Christian Church, and which we discuss.

  • What is the Law.

  • What is the Gospel.

  • What is sin.

  • What is grace.

  • What is the gift of the Spirit.

  • What is true repentance.

  • How true confession is made.

  • What is faith.

  • What is forgiveness of sins.

  • What is Christian liberty.

  • What is free will.

  • What is love.

  • What is the Cross.

  • What is hope.

  • What is Baptism.

  • What is the Mass.

  • What is the Church.

  • What are the Keys.

  • What is a bishop.

  • What is a deacon.

  • What is the preaching-office.

  • The true catechism, that is, the Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer, the Creed.

  • True prayer The Litany.

  • The reading and interpretation of the Scriptures.

  • What are good works.

  • The instruction of married folk, children, man-servants and maid-servants.

  • Honoring the government.

  • Children’s schools.

  • Visitation of the sick.

  • The care of the poor and of hospitals.

  • The treatment of the dying.

These subjects no bishop has ever dealt with, and they have never been thoroughly understood or taught by your party, and in part have faded out.

You cannot deny this; we were raised in your schools, and your books, which bear witness to it, are still extant; and all the world is witness that these things were never preached before. Now it is certain that everything depends on these things, and that the Christian Church is cared for by means of them, and needs none of your unnecessary additions at all.

In this connection I will not speak of the German hymns, the blessing of the bride, and many good and wholesome books. What great abominations have been put down by them, and rooted out from among us, I shall not here relate; enough has been said to show how many things we would have to speak about, if we wanted to take the time and the space.

The things that have been use and custom in the pretended Church.

1. Indulgences.

2. The sacrifice of the mass and the innumerable ways of doing it.

3. The abuse of the ban.

4. Purgatory.

5. Ghosts.

6. Innumerable pilgrimages.

7. Vigils.

8. Masses for the dead.

9. Anniversary masses for the dead.

10. The masses of the four weeks.

11. Soul-baths.

12. The worship of saints, some of whom were never born.

13. Saints' days without measure.

14. Mary, made a common idol, with innumerable services, celebrations, fasts, hymns, and antiphons.

15. Butter-letters.

16. Innumerable relics, with lies.

17. Innumerable brotherhoods.

18. The celibate life.

19. Dedications of churches.

20. Dedications of altars.

21. Dedications of images with indulgences.

22. Baptism of bells, with two hundred god-fathers on one rope.

23. Distinctions of foods; 24. regarded as necessary.

24. Distinctions of days;

25. Distinctions of dress;

26. The compulsory seven, or “canonical hours.”

27. The Sunday-procession, which is a play.

28. Extreme Unction for death, not for recovery.

29. The sacrament of marriage.

30. The sacrament of priesthood.

31. The sacrament of confirmation.

32. Acolytes 33-34. Consecration of these not to duties but to liberty.

33. Tonsurists

34. Lectors

35. Subdeacons

36. Prayers to Brigitta.

37. Other prayers of the same kind, and all sorts of prayer-books, full of blasphemous and shameful dishonorings of God. 38-41. All of these more than is needful and only as special services of God. This is contrary to faith.

38. Tonsures

39. Chasubles

40. Albs

41. Choir-vestments

42. Cowls.

43. Churches.

44. Chapels.

45. Altars.

46. Altar-cloths.

47. Lights.

48. Candle-sticks.

49. Images.

50. Tables. 51-54. All of these beyond what is needful and as special services to God. This is contrary to faith.

51. Crucifixes.

52. Candle-sticks.

53. Banners.

54. Censers.

55. Fonts.

56. Monstrances.

57. Pyxes.

58. Chalices.

59. Organs.

60. Bells.

61. Holy water.

62. Holy salt.

63. Incense.

64. And all kinds of food. In Lent:

65. Ash Wednesday.

66. Hunger-cloths.

67. Veiling of images.

68. Keeping fasts (except the priests).

69. Litany of the Saints.

70. Hymns to Mary in the evenings.

71. The torture of confession.

72. Penance and satisfaction.

73. Long preces.

74. The palm-ass.

75. Palm-shooting.

76. Palm-swallowing.

77. Palm-crosses.

78. Compulsory confession.

79. Compulsory communion.

80. Kissing and adoring the cross.

81. Burying the cross.

82. Half-mass on Quiet Friday.

83. Singing psalms at the grave.

84. Dark-mass.

85. Rattles instead of bells.

86. Passion-sermons of eight hours.

87. Consecrating the fire.

88. Easter-candles.

89. Taking the cross out of the grave and carrying it, playing.

90. The consecrating of cakes on Easter Day. 91-92. Both good for all unchastity.

91. The procession of St. Mark’s day

92. Cross-weeks.

93. Ascension at Nones.

94. The Holy Ghost on Pentecost.

95. Corpus Christi processions.

96. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.

97. Church-dedications.

98. Festivals of patron saints.

99. Community-weeks.

100. St. Burkart’s day.

101. Ember days.

102. All Saints' Day.

103. All Souls' Day.

104. St. Martin’s goose.

105. Advent, more in honor of Mary than of Christ.

106. The Rorate-mass.

107. The Conception of the Blessed Virgin.

108. The three Christmas-masses.

109. The apparuit and music.

110. The blessing of oats on St. Stephen’s day.

111. St. John’s draught.

112. Candlemas and wax-sale.

113. St. Agatha’s lights.

114. St. Blasius' lights.

I shall stop here, for who can count up everything in a short space? But if they do not want to have peace, either I or another can keep on counting, so that the dear bishops and canons may not think that the monks are the only sinners, and they are the pure kitten. Not so! For this time I have wished to point out nothing more than the things that are common usage in the parish churches, though these are the smallest part of your government and have been despised beyond all measure, and you have trodden them under foot. If, however, I were to take up the chapter churches, cathedrals, official houses, monasteries and preaching places, and then come to the mendicants, the stationaries, and finally the sophists in the universities: - God help us! I do not wonder that you forget these abysmal abominations and now seek to adorn yourselves! Did not I myself forget (by the dear God!), and did not I think that you were in the place where I see you to be? Be silent now, for God’s sake, and reform, or things will go hard with you!

To be sure, it is a fact that among the things above mentioned there are some which are not to be rejected, and some that have fallen out, which I did not want to fall, but which can easily come back. The best thing of all is that the fine Latin songs de tempore have been kept, though they have been almost drowned out by the new sacred songs and count for almost nothing.

To speak my mind briefly, this is the sum of what I think. If these things had been kept as play for the youth and for young pupils, so that they would have had a childish game of Christian doctrine and life, in the same way that we must give children dolls and hobby-horses and other toys; and if the custom had been allowed to stay at that, as we teach the children to fast for the sake of the Christ-child and of St. Nicholas, so that they may give them presents on their nights (for it was thus, as we can see, that our ancestors meant it to be); if it were to be left at that, the palm-ass, the ascension and many things of the kind could be tolerated, for then they would not lead anyone’s conscience astray. But for us old fools to go about in miters and clerical finery, and take it seriously, - so seriously, indeed, that it becomes an article of faith, - so that whoever does not adore this child’s-play must have committed a sin and have his conscience tortured by it, - that is the very devil!

It follows, then, that all the things above mentioned, however childish and laughable they may be, do nevertheless fight against and corrupt the Christian faith and the really necessary things, which have also been mentioned above, as though there were no help for one who did not keep them. For, sad to say, it has been our experience heretofore this childs' - and fools' - play has been practiced more, and more seriously, than the things that are really important. This, then, is our opinion: If, for the sake of the young, we can help to retain these childish games which are tolerable, without injury to the really serious and important things, we shall gladly do it. But that we should hold them for articles of faith and even play the fool in bishops' hats, - nothing will come of that, no matter who is angry or who laughs!

I have spoken these things to you this time as a kindly and faithful admonition, and I ask with all diligence that you will join us in calling upon God that He may grant you grace and wisdom so to do and to act in these matters that it may be for His honor and the salvation of us all; and also that He may prevent you from self-adornment, and from excusing, defending, or forcibly continuing your former misconduct. For what good is done by making more bad blood among the people? Men’s hearts are already too deeply embittered, and not without good cause. It is necessary to sweeten and soften and quiet them with humble confession and open reformation, and not to irritate them further. You know that, even if there were no Gospel, your order is so fallen and corrupt, even when judged by your own laws, that it cannot be endured if you try to brazen things through.

You know, too, that Pope Hadrian himself confessed, through his legate at Nuremberg, that the Roman See was the source of much evil, and offered to reform it. Why, then, should you be ashamed to confess the same thing, and obstinately persist in your pride, and grant nothing and yield nothing, but carry things off with force, caring nothing whether the result is better or worse? For you know, or ought to know, that Christian rule or authority has been ordained by God to make things better, not to corrupt them, as Paul says, and is not to be a tyranny, but a service. If you were to admit this, we could help to raise you in the opinion of the people.

For I maintain that you cannot do without the Lutherans, those godly heretics, and least of all can you do without their prayers, if you are going to accomplish any permanent results. But if you are going to force your way through this business stiffly and stubbornly (which may God forbid!), then, together with all who believe with me, I hereby call God and all the world to witness that it is no fault of ours if you are dashed to pieces, when your pride fails you. Your blood be on your own head! We are and will be guiltless of your blood and your condemnation; for we pointed out to you your offenses, admonished you faithfully to repent, sincerely implored you, and made you every offer that could serve the cause of peace, seeking and desiring nothing else than that sole support and comfort of our souls, - the free and pure Gospel. Thus we can boast with a good conscience that the fault has not been ours.

But may the God of peace and consolation give you His Spirit, to guide you and lead you to all truth, through our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be praise and thanks for all His unspeakable grace and gifts forever and ever.


Roman Confutation (1530)

Editor’s Introduction to the Roman Confutation

After the Lutherans presented the Augsburg Confession, on June 25, 1530, the Roman rulers and leaders met on June 26, and on June 27 presented the Emperor with a report that called for a response to the Augsburg Confession. Various options were considered for responding to the Lutherans, and on July 5, the Emperor commanded that a confutation be prepared and that the Lutherans submit to his judgment. John Eck, who worked with John Faber, Conrad Wimpina, and John Cochlaeus, led the Roman theologians charged with the preparation of the Confutation. They were ordered to be moderate in their response. The Emperor rejected several drafts of a response. They presented 280 pages for the Emperor’s review, and he rejected all but twelve pages. Finally, after five attempts, and six weeks of effort, the Emperor accepted a draft and allowed it to be read publicly to the Lutherans, which it was on August 3 by the Emperor’s secretary, Alexander Schweiss. It was, like the Augsburg Confession, prepared in both Latin and German, but read aloud only in German. Commenting on the preparation of the confutation, Johann Brenz wrote to Myconius, on July 10: “They say they are preparing wagon-loads of comments on our Confession. Eck, moreover, that good man, is their chief. Of the rest, there are twenty-three. You might say there is an Illiad of sophists.” [ Anecdota Brentiana, p. 93; Corpus Reformatorum, II:280. Homer’s Illiad has twenty-four books].

The Confutation was regarded as being so bad, even by the Roman Catholics, that they did not allow the Lutherans to have a copy. Fortunately Lutheran scribes had copied every word down during its reading. It was not published until 1573, in Latin, and did not appear in German until 1808. The Lutherans asked for a copy after it was read, and were told by the Emperor on August 5 that they would not receive a copy, unless they met three conditions: (1) They that do not reply in writing; (2) They not print anything about it, or do anything to publicize it, a demand made specifically by the Roman theologians; (3) That they join with the Emperor and the Roman Catholic estates and concur with the Confutation, in every point. These demands were soundly rejected.

A conference between Roman Catholic and Lutheran theologians was convened and met from August 13-21, during which the Confutation was discussed, but neither party was willing to compromise. As a result of the conference, the Lutheran estates agreed that a response to the Confutation should be prepared, and commissioned Philip Melanchthon to prepare a first draft. Though he was not present when the Confutation was read, Melanchthon worked from the very accurate notes made by Camerarius and others. On September 22, Melanchthon presented his first draft of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Apology meaning “defense.” The Apology was offered by Chancellor BrŘck to the Emperor, and was received in the name of the Emperor by the count palatinate Frederick, in the name of the Emperor, but was quickly returned after his brother, Ferdinance, whispered an order in his ear.

For more information on the Confutation see the Historical Introductions section.

The Confutatio Pontificia:

In Reference To The Matters Presented To His Imperial Majesty By The Elector Of Saxony And Some Princes And States Of The Holy Roman Empire, On The Subject And Concerning Causes Pertaining To The Christian Orthodox Faith, The Following Christian Reply Can Be Given. August 3, 1530.

Edited by J.M. Reu. Published in The Augsburg Confession, A Collection of Sources. (Fort Wayne, IN: Concordia Theological Seminary Press), pp. 349-383.


As His Worshipful Imperial Majesty received several days since a Confession of Faith presented by the Elector the duke of Saxony and several princes and two cities, to which their names were affixed, with his characteristic zeal for the glory of God, the salvation of souls, Christian harmony and the public peace, he not only himself read the Confession, but also, in order that in a matter of such moment he might proceed the more thoroughly and seasonably, he referred the aforesaid Confession to several learned, mature, approved and honorable men of different nations for their inspection and examination, and earnestly directed and enjoined them to praise and approve what in the Confession was said aright and in accord with Catholic doctrine, but, on the other hand, to note that wherein it differed from the Catholic Church, and, together with their reply, to present and explain their judgment on each topic. This commission was executed aright and according to order. For those learned men with all care and diligence examined the aforesaid Confession, and committed to writing what they thought on each topic, and thus presented a reply to His Imperial Majesty. This reply His Worshipful Imperial Majesty, as becomes a Christian emperor, most accurately read and gave to the other electors, princes and estates of the Roman Empire for their perusal and examination, which they also approved as orthodox and in every respect harmonious with the Gospel and Holy Scripture. For this reason, after a conference with the electors, princes and states above named, in order that all dissension concerning this our orthodox holy faith and religion may be removed, His Imperial Majesty has directed that a declaration be made at present as follows:

In reference to the matters presented to His Imperial Majesty by the Elector of Saxony and some princes and states of the Holy Roman Empire, on the subject and concerning causes pertaining to the Christian orthodox faith, the following Christian reply can be given:


To Article I.

Especially when in the first article they confess the unity of the divine essence in three persons according to the decree of the Council of Nice, their Confession must be accepted, since it agrees in all respects with the rule of faith and the Roman Church. For the Council of Nice, convened under the Emperor Constantine the Great, has always been regarded inviolable, whereat three hundred and eighteen bishops eminent and venerable for holiness of life, martyrdom and learning, after investigating and diligently examining the Holy Scriptures, set forth this article which they here confess concerning the unity of the essence and the trinity of persons. So too their condemnation of all heresies arising contrary to this article must be accepted - viz. the Manichaeans, Arians, Eunomians, Valentinians, Samosatanes, for the Holy Catholic Church has condemned these of old.

To Article II.

In the second article we approve their Confession, in common with the Catholic Church, that the fault of origin is truly sin, condemning and bringing eternal death upon those who are not born again by baptism and the Holy Ghost. For in this they properly condemn the Pelagians, both modern and ancient, who have been long since condemned by the Church. But the declaration of the article, that Original Sin is that men are born without the fear of God and without trust in God, is to be entirely rejected, since it is manifest to every Christian that to be without the fear of God and without trust in God is rather the actual guilt of an adult than the offence of a recently-born infant, which does not possess as yet the full use of reason, as the Lord says “Your children which had no knowledge between good and evil,” Deut 1:39. Moreover, the declaration is also rejected whereby they call the fault of origin concupiscence, if they mean thereby that concupiscence is a sin that remains sin in a child even after baptism. For the Apostolic See has already condemned two articles of Martin Luther concerning sin remaining in a child after baptism, and concerning the fomes of sin hindering a soul from entering the kingdom of heaven. But if, according to the opinion of St Augustine, they call the vice of origin concupiscence, which in baptism ceases to be sin, this ought to be accepted, since indeed according to the declaration of St. Paul, we are all born children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), and in Adam we all have sinned (Rom.5:12).

To Article III.

In the third article there is nothing to offend, since the entire Confession agrees with the Apostles' Creed and the right rule of faith -viz. the Son of God became incarnate, assumed human nature into the unity of his person, was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered was crucified, died, descended to hell, rose again on the third day, ascended to heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Father.

To Article IV.

In the fourth article the condemnation of the Pelagians, who thought that man can merit eternal life by his own powers without the grace of God, is accepted as Catholic and in accordance with the ancient councils, for the Holy Scriptures expressly testify to this. John the Baptist says: “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven,” John 3:27 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights,” James 1:17. Therefore “our sufficiency is of God,” 2 Cor 3:5. And Christ says: “No man can come to me, Except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him,” John 6:44 And Paul: What hast thou that thou didst not receive?" I Cor 4:7. For if any one should intend to disapprove of the merits that men acquire by the assistance of divine grace, he would agree with the Manichaeans rather than with the Catholic Church. For it is entirely contrary to holy Scripture to deny that our works are meritorious. For St. Paul says “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day,” 2 Tim. 4:7-8. And to the Corinthians he wrote “We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,” 2 Cor. 5:10. For where there are wages there is merit. The Lord said to Abraham: “Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward,” Gen 15:1. And Isaiah says: “Behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him,” Isa. 40:10; and, Isa. 58:7,8: “Deal they bread to the hungry, and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up.” So too the Lord to Cain: “If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted?” Gen. 4:7. So the parable in the Gospel declares that we have been hired for the Lord’s vineyard, who agrees with us for a penny a day, and says: “Call the laborers and give them their hire,” Matt 20:8. So Paul, knowing the mysteries of God, says: “Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor,” I Cor. 3:8. 6. Nevertheless, all Catholics confess that our works of themselves have no merit, but that God’s grace makes them worthy of eternal life. Thus St. John says: “They shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy,” Rev. 3:4. And St Paul says to the Colossians 1:12: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”

To Article V.

In the fifth article the statement that the Holy Ghost is given by the Word and sacraments, as by instruments, is approved. For thus it is written, Acts 10:44: “While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” And John 1:33: “The same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” The mention, however, that they here make of faith is approved so far as not Faith alone, which some incorrectly teach, but faith which worketh by love, is understood, as the apostle teaches aright in Gal 5:3. For in baptism there is an infusion, not of faith alone, but also, at the same time, of hope and love, as Pope Alexander declares in the canon Majores concerning baptism and its effect; which John the Baptist also taught long before, saying, Luke 3:16: “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”

To Article VI.

Their Confession in the sixth article that faith should bring forth good fruits is acceptable and valid since “faith without works is dead,” James 2:17, and all Scripture invites us to works. For the wise man says: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Eccles. 9:10. “And the Lord had respect to Abel and to his offering,” Gen. 4:4. He saw that Abraham would “command his Children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment,” Gen. 18:19. And: “By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing I will bless thee and multiply thy seed.” Gen 22:16. Thus he regarded the fast of the Ninevites, Jonah 3, and the lamentations and tears of King Hezekiah, 4:2; 2 Kings 20. For this cause all the faithful should follow the advice of St. Paul: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith,” Gal. 6:10. For Christ says: The night cometh when no man can work" John 9:4. But in the same article their ascription of justification to faith alone is diametrically opposite the truth of the Gospel by which works are not excluded; because glory, honor and peace to every man that worketh good," Rom. 2:10. Why? Because David, Ps. 62:12; Christ, Matt. 16:27; and Paul, Rom. 2:6 testify that God will render to every one according to his works. Besides Christ says: “Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father,” Matt. 7:21. 4. Hence however much one may believe, if he work not what is good, he is not a friend of God. “Ye are my friends,” says Christ, “if ye do whatsoever I command you,” John 15:14. On this account their frequent ascription of justification to faith is not admitted since it pertains to grace and love. For St. Paul says: “Though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing.” 1 Cor. 13:2. Here St. Paul certifies to the princes and the entire Church that faith alone does not justify. Accordingly he teaches that love is the chief virtue, Col. 3:14: “Above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” Neither are they supported by the word of Christ: “When ye shall have done all these things, say We are unprofitable servants,” Luke 17:10. For if the doors ought to be called unprofitable, how much more fitting is it to say to those who only believe, When ye shall have believed all things say, We are unprofitable servants! This word of Christ, therefore, does not extol faith without works, but teaches that our works bring no profit to God; that no one can be puffed up by our works; that, when contrasted with the divine reward, our works are of no account and nothing. Thus St. Paul says: “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us,” Rom. 8:18. For faith and good works are gifts of God, whereby, through God’s mercy, eternal life is given. So, too, the citation at this point from Ambrose is in no way pertinent, since St. Ambrose is here expressly declaring his opinion concerning legal works. For he says: “Without the law,” but, “Without the law of the Sabbath, and of circumcision, and of revenge.” And this he declares the more clearly on Rom. 4, citing St. James concerning the justification of Abraham without legal works before circumcision. For how could Ambrose speak differently in his comments from St. Paul in the text when he says: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight?” Therefore, finally, he does not exclude faith absolutely, but says: “We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

To Article VII.

The seventh article of the Confession, wherein it is affirmed that the Church is the congregation of saints, cannot be admitted without prejudice to faith if by this definition the wicked and sinners be separated from the Church. For in the Council of Constance this article was condemned among the articles of John Huss of cursed memory, and it plainly contradicts the Gospel. For there we read that John the Baptist compared the Church to a threshing-floor, which Christ will cleanse with his fan, and will gather the wheat into his garner, but will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire, Matt. 3:12. Wherefore this article of the Confession is in no way accepted. although we read in it their confession that the Church is perpetual, since here the promise of Christ has its place, who promises that the Spirit of truth will abide with it forever John 14:16. And Christ himself promises that he will be with the church alway unto the end of the world. They are praised also, in that they do not regard variety of rites as separating unity of faith, if they speak of special rites. For to this effect Jerome says: ĎEvery province abounds in its own sense” (of propriety). But if they extend this part of the Confession to universal Church rites, this also must be utterly rejected, and we must say with St. Paul: “We have no such custom,” 1 Cor. 11:16. “For by all believers universal rites must be observed,” St. Augustine, whose testimony they also use, well taught of Januarius; for we must presume that such rites were transmitted from the apostles.

To Article VIII.

The eighth article of the Confession, concerning wicked ministers of the Church and hypocrites - viz. that their wickedness does not injure the sacraments and the Word - is accepted with the Holy Roman Church, and the princes commend it, condemning on this topic the Donatists and the ancient Origenists, who maintained that it was unlawful to use the ministry of the wicked in the Church - a heresy which the Waldenses and Poor of Lyons revived. Afterwards John Wicliff in England and John Huss in Bohemia adopted this.

To Article IX.

The ninth article, concerning Baptism - viz. that it is necessary to salvation, and that children ought to be baptized - is approved and accepted, and they are right in condemning the Anabaptists, a most seditious class of men that ought to be banished far from the boundaries of the Roman Empire in order that illustrious Germany may not suffer again such a destructive and sanguinary commotion as she experienced five years ago in the slaughter of so many thousands.

To Article X.

The tenth article gives no offense in its words, because they confess that in the Eucharist, after the consecration lawfully made, the Body and Blood of Christ are substantially and truly present, if only they believe that the entire Christ is present under each form, so that the Blood of Christ is no less present under the form of bread by concomitance than it is under the form of the wine, and the reverse. Otherwise, in the Eucharist the Body of Christ is dead and bloodless, contrary to St. Paul, because “Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more,” Rom. 6:9. One matter is added as very necessary to the article of the Confession - viz. that they believe the Church, rather than some teaching otherwise and incorrectly, that by the almighty Word of God in the consecration of the Eucharist the substance of the bread is changed into the Body of Christ. For thus in a general council it has been determined, canon Firmiter, concerning the exalted Trinity, and the Catholic faith. They are praised therefor, for condemning the Capernaites, who deny the truth of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

To Article XI.

The eleventh article their acknowledgment that private absolution with confession should be retained in the Church is accepted as catholic and in harmony with our faith, because absolution is supported by the word of Christ. For Christ says to his apostles, John 20:23: “Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them.“Nevertheless, two things must here be required of them: one, that they compel an annual confession to be observed by their subjects, according to the constitution, canon Omnis Utriusque, concerning penance and remission and the custom of the Church universal. Another that through their preachers they cause their subjects to be faithfully admonished when they are about to confess that although they cannot state all their sins individually, nevertheless, a diligent examination of their conscience being made, they make an entire confession of their offences - viz. of all which occur to their memory in such investigation. But in regard to the rest that have been forgotten and have escaped our mind it is lawful to make a general confession, and to say with the Psalmist, Ps. 19:17: “Cleanse me, Lord, from secret faults.”

To Article XII.

In the twelfth article their confession that such as have fallen may find remission of sins at the time when they are converted, and that the Church should give absolution unto such as return to repentance, is commended, since they most justly condemn the Novatians who deny that repentance can be repeated, in opposition both to the prophet who promises grace to the sinner at whatever hour he shall mourn, Ezek. 18:21, and the merciful declaration of Christ our Saviour, replying to St. Peter, that not until seven times, but until seventy times seven in one day, he should forgive his brother sinning against him, Matt. 18:22. But the second part of this article is utterly rejected. For when they ascribe only two parts to repentance, they antagonize the entire Church, which from the time of the apostles has held and believed that there are three parts of repentance - contrition, confession and satisfaction. Thus the ancient doctors, Origen, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Gregory, Augustine, taught in attestation of the Holy Scriptures, especially from 2 Kings 12, concerning David, 2 Chron 3:1, concerning Manasseh, Ps. 31, 37, 50, 101, etc. Therefore Pope Leo X of happy memory justly condemned this article of Luther, who taught: “That there are three parts of repentance - viz. confession, contrition, and satisfaction – has no foundation in Scripture or in Holy Christian doctors.”

This part of the article, therefore can in no way be admitted; so, too, neither can that which asserts that faith is the second part of repentance, since it is known to all that faith precedes repentance; for unless one believes he will not repent. Neither is that part admitted which makes light of pontifical satisfactions, for it is contrary to the Gospel, contrary to the apostles, contrary to the fathers, contrary to the councils, and contrary to the universal Catholic Church. John the Baptist cries: “Bring forth fruits meet for repentance,” Matt. 3:8. St. Paul teaches: “As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness, even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness,” Rom 6:19. He likewise preached to the Gentiles that they should repent and be Converted to God, bringing forth fruits meet for repentance, Acts 20:21. So Christ himself also began to teach and preach repentance: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matt. 4:17. Afterward he commanded the apostles to pursue this mode of preaching and teaching, Luke 24:47, and St. Peter faithfully obeyed him in his first sermon, Acts 2:38. So Augustine also exhorts that “every one exercise toward himself severity, so that, being judged of himself, he shall not be judged of the Lord,” as St. Paul says. 1 Cor. 11:31. Pope Leo surnamed the Great, said “The Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, gave to those set over the churches the authority to assign to those who confess the doing of penance, and through the door of reconciliation to admit to the communion of the sacraments those who have been cleansed by a salutary satisfaction.Ë Ambrose says: “The amount of the penance must be adapted to the trouble of the conscience.” Hence diverse penitential canons were appointed in the holy Synod of Nice, in accordance with The diversity of satisfactions, Jovinian the heretic, thought, however, that all sins are equal and accordingly did not admit a diversity of satisfactions. Moreover, satisfactions should not be abolished in the Church, contrary to the express Gospel and the decrees of councils and fathers, but those absolved by the priest ought to perform the penance enjoined, following the declaration of St. Paul: He “gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” Tit. 2:14. Christ thus made satisfaction for us, that we might be zealous of good works, fulfilling the satisfaction enjoined.

To Article XIII.

The thirteenth article gives no offence, but is accepted, while they say that the sacraments were instituted not only to be marks of profession among men, but rather to be signs and testimonies of God’s will toward us; nevertheless, we must request them that what they here ascribe to the sacraments in general they confess also specifically concerning the seven sacraments of the Church and take measures for the observance of them by their subjects.

To Article XIV.

When, in the fourteenth article, they confess that no one ought to administer in the Church the Word of God and the sacraments unless he be rightly called, it ought to be understood that he is rightly called who is called in accordance with the form of law and the ecclesiastical ordinances and decrees hitherto observed everywhere in the Christian world, and not according to a Jeroboitic (cf. 1 Kings 12:20) call, or a tumult or any other irregular intrusion of the people. Aaron was not thus called. Therefore in this sense the Confession is received; nevertheless, they should be admonished to persevere therein, and to admit in their realms no one either as pastor or as preacher unless he be rightly called.

To Article XV.

In the fifteenth article their confession that such ecclesiastical rites are to be observed as may be observed without sin, and are profitable for tranquility and good order in the Church, is accepted, and they must be admonished that the princes and cities see to it that the ecclesiastical rites of the Church universal be observed in their dominions and districts, as well as those which have been kept devoutly and religiously in every province even to us, and if any of these have been intermitted that they restore them, and arrange, determine and effectually enjoin upon their subjects that all things be done in their churches according to the ancient form. Nevertheless, the appendix to this article must be entirely removed, since it is false that human ordinances instituted to propitiate God and make satisfactions for sins are opposed to the Gospel, as will be more amply declared hereafter concerning vows, the choice of food and the like.

To Article XVI.

The sixteenth article, concerning civil magistrates, is received with pleasure, as in harmony not only with civil law, but also with canonical law, the Gospel, the Holy Scriptures, and the universal norm of faith, since the apostle enjoins that “every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation,” Rom. 13:1. And the princes are praised for condemning the Anabaptists, who overthrow all civil ordinances and prohibit Christians the use of the magistracy and other civil offices, without which no state is successfully administered.

To Article XVII.

The confession of the seventeenth article is received, since from the Apostles' Creed and the Holy Scripture the entire Catholic Church knows that Christ will come at the last day to judge the quick and the dead. Therefore they justly condemn here the Anabaptists, who think there will be an end of punishments to condemned men and devils, and imagine certain Jewish kingdoms of the godly, before the resurrection of the dead, in this present world, the wicked being everywhere suppressed.

To Article XVIII.

In the eighteenth article they confess the power of the Free Will - viz. that it has the power to work a civil righteousness, but that it has not, without the Holy Ghost, the virtue to work the righteousness of God. This confession is received and approved. For it thus becomes Catholics to pursue the middle way, so as not, with the Pelagians, to ascribe too much to the free will, nor, with the godless Manichaeans, to deny it all liberty; for both are not without fault. Thus Augustine says: “With sure faith we believe, and without doubt we preach, that a free will exists in men. For it is an inhuman error to deny the free will in man, which every one experiences in himself, and is so often asserted in the Holy Scriptures.” St. Paul says: “Having power over his own will.” 1 Cor. 7:37. Of the righteous the wise man says: “Who might offend, and hath not offended? or done evil, and hath not done it?” Eccles 31:10. God said to Cain: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him,” Gen. 4:7. Through the prophet Isaiah he says: “If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land. But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword.” This also Jeremiah has briefly expressed: “Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil, as thou couldest,” Jer. 3:5. We add also Ezek. 18:31ff.: “Cast away from you all your transgressions whereby ye have transgressed; and make ye a new heart, and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves and live.” Also St. Paul: “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets,” 1 Cor. 14:32. Likewise 2 Cor. 9:7: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart; not grudgingly or of necessity.” finally, Christ overthrew all the Manichaeans with one word when he said: “Ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good.” Mark 14:7; and to Jerusalem Christ says: “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Matt. 23:37.

To Article XIX.

The nineteenth article is likewise approved and accepted. For God, the supremely good, is not the author of evils, but the rational and defectible will is the cause of sin; wherefore let no one impute his midsdeeds and crimes to God, but to himself, according to Jer. 2:19: “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee and thy backslidings shall reprove thee;” and Hos. 13:9: “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.” And David in the spirit acknowledged that God is not one that hath pleasure in wickedness, Ps. 5:4.

To Article XX.

In the twentieth article, which does not contain so much the confession of the princes and cities as the defense of the preachers, there is only one thing that pertains to the princes and cities - viz. concerning good works, that they do not merit the remission of sins, which, as it has been rejected and disapproved before, is also rejected and disapproved now. For the passage in Daniel is very familiar: “Redeem thy sins with alms,” Dan. 4:27; and the address of Tobit to his son: “Alms do deliver from death and suffereth not to come into darkness,” Tobit 4:10; and that of Christ: “Give alms of such things as ye have, and behold all things are clean unto you,” Luke 11:41. If works were not meritorious why would the wise man say: “God will render a reward of the labors of his saints”? Wisd. 10:17. Why would St. Peter so earnestly exhort to good works, saying: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence by good works to make your calling and election sure”? 2 Pet. 1:19. Why would St. Paul have said: “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed towards his name”? Heb. 6:10. Nor by this do we reject Christ’s merit but we know that our works are nothing and of no merit unless by virtue of Christ’s passion. We know that Christ is “the way, the truth and the life,”. John 14:6. But Christ, as the Good Shepherd, who “began to do and teach,” Acts 1:1, has given us an example that as he has done we also should do, John 13:15. He also went through the desert by the way of good works, which all Christians ought to pursue, and according to his command bear the cross and follow him. Matt. 10:38; 16:24. He who bears not the cross, neither is nor can be Christ’s disciple. That also is true which John says: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” 1 John 2:6. Moreover, this opinion concerning good works was condemned and rejected more than a thousand years ago in the time of Augustine.

To Article XXI.

In the last place, they present the twenty-first article, wherein they admit that the memory of saints may be set before us, that we may follow their faith and good works, but not that they be invoked and aid be sought of them. It is certainly wonderful that the princes especially and the cities have allowed this error to be agitated in their dominions, which has been condemned so often before in the Church, since eleven hundred years ago St. Jerome vanquished in this area the heretic Vigilantius. Long after him arose the Albigenses, the Poor Men of Lyons, the Picards, the Cathari old and new: all of whom were condemned legitimately long ago. Wherefore this article of the Confession, so frequently condemned, must be utterly rejected and in harmony with the entire universal Church be condemned; for in favor of the invocation of saints we have not only the authority of the Church universal but also the agreement of the holy fathers, Augustine, Bernard, Jerome, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Basil, and this class of other Church teachers. Neither is the authority of Holy Scripture absent from this Catholic assertion, for Christ taught that the saints should be honored: “If any man serve me, him will my Father honor,” John 12:26. If, therefore, God honors saints, why do not we, insignificant men, honor them? Besides, the Lord was turned to repentance by Job when he prayed for his friends, Job 42:8. Why, therefore, would not God, the most pious, who gave assent to Job, do the same to the Blessed Virgin when she intercedes? We read also in Baruch 3:4: “O Lord Almighty, thou God of Israel, hear now the prayers of the dead Israelites.” Therefore the dead also pray for us. Thus did Onias and Jeremiah in the Old Testament. For Onias the high priest was seen by Judas Maccabaeus holding up his hands and praying for the whole body of the Jews. Afterwards another man appeared, remarkable both for his age and majesty, and of great beauty about him, concerning whom Onias replied: “This is a love of the brethren and of the people Israel, who prayeth much for the people and for the Holy city - to wit, Jeremiah the prophet.” 2 Macc. 15:12-14. Besides, we know from the Holy Scriptures that the angels pray for us. Why, then, would we deny this of the saints? “O Lord of hosts,” said the angels, “how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation? And the Lord answered the angel that talked with me comfortable words.” Zech. 1:12, 13.

Job likewise testifies: “If there be an angel with him speaking, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness, he will pity him and say, Deliver him from going down to the pit.” Job 33:23, 24. This is clear besides from the words of that holy soul, John the Evangelist, when he says: “The four beasts and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one of them harps and golden vials, full of odors which are the prayers of saints,” Rev. 5:8; and afterwards: “An angel stood at the altar, having a golden censer, and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came up with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” Lastly, St. Cyprian the martyr more than twelve hundred and fifty years ago wrote to Pope Cornelius, Book I, Letter 1, asking that “if any depart first, his prayer for our brethren and sisters may not cease.” For if this holy man had not ascertained that after this life the saints pray for the living, he would have given exhortation to no purpose. Neither is their Confession strengthened by the fact that there is one Mediator between God and men, 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 John 2:1. For although His Imperial Majesty, with the entire Church, confesses that there is one Mediator of redemption, nevertheless the mediators of intercession are many. Thus Moses was both mediator and agent between God and men, Deut. 5:31, for he prayed for the children of Israel, Ex. 17:11; 32:11f. Thus St. Paul prayed for those with whom he was sailing, Acts 27; so, too, he asked that he be prayed for by the Romans, Rom. 15:30, by the Corinthians, 2 Cor. 1:11, and by the Colossians, Col. 4:3. So while Peter was kept in prison prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him, Acts 12:5. Christ, therefore, is our chief Advocate, and indeed the greatest; but since the saints are members of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:27 and Eph. 5:30, and conform their will to that of Christ, and see that their Head, Christ, prays for us, who can doubt that the saints do the very same thing which they see Christ doing? With all these things carefully considered, we must ask the princes and the cities adhering to them that they reject this part of the Confession and agree with the holy universal and orthodox Church and believe and confess, concerning the worship and intercession of saints, what the entire Christian world believes and confesses, and was observed in all the churches in the time of Augustine. “A Christian people.” he says, “celebrates the memories of martyrs with religious observance, that it share in their merits and be aided by their prayers.”

Part II

Reply to the Second Part of the Confession.

To Article XXII.

Of Lay Communion under One Form.

As in the Confessions of the princes and cities they enumerate among the abuses that laymen commune only under one form, and as, therefore, in their dominions both forms are administered to laymen, we must reply, according to the custom of the Holy Church, that this is incorrectly enumerated among the abuses, but that, according to the sanctions and statutes of the same Church it is rather an abuse and disobedience to administer to laymen both forms. For under the one form of bread the saints communed in the primitive Church, of whom Luke says: “They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread.” Acts 2:42. Here Luke mentions bread alone. Likewise Acts 20:7 says: “Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread.” Yea, Christ, the institutor of this most holy sacrament, rising again from the dead, administered the Eucharist only under one form to the disciples going to Emmaus, where he took bread and blessed it, and brake and gave to them, and they recognized him in the breaking of bread. Luke 24:30, 31: where indeed Augustine, Chrysostome, Theophylact and Bede some of whom many ages ago and not long after the times of the apostles affirm that it was the Eucharist. Christ also (John 6) very frequently mentions bread alone. St. Ignatius, a disciple of St. John the Evangelist, in his Epistle to the Ephesians mentions the bread alone in the communion of the Eucharist. Ambrose does likewise in his books concerning the sacraments, speaking of the communion of Laymen. In the Council of Rheims, laymen were forbidden from bearing the sacrament of the Body to the sick, and no mention is there made of the form of wine. Hence it is understood that the viaticum was given the sick under only one form. The ancient penitential canons approve of this. For the Council of Agde put a guilty priest into a monastery and granted him only lay communion. In the Council of Sardica, Hosius prohibits certain indiscreet persons from receiving even lay communion, unless they finally repent.

There has always been a distinction in the Church between lay communion under one form and priestly communion under both forms. This was beautifully predicted in the Old Testament concerning the descendants of Eli: “It shall come to pass,” says God, 1 Kings 2; 1 Sam. 2:36, “that everyone that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests' office (Vulgate reads: “Ad unam partem sacerdotalem."), Ďthat I may eat a piece of bread.” Here Holy Scripture clearly shows that the posterity of Eli, when removed from the office of the priesthood, will seek to be admitted to one sacerdotal part, to a piece of bread. So our laymen also ought, therefore, to be content with one sacerdotal part, the one form. For both the Roman pontiffs and cardinals and all bishops and priests, save in the mass and in the extreme hour of life for a viaticum, as it is called in the Council of Nice, are content with taking one form, which they would not do if they thought that both forms would be necessary for salvation. Although, however, both forms were of old administered in many churches to laymen (for then it was free to commune under one or under both forms), yet on account of many dangers the custom of administering both forms has ceased. For when the multitude of the people is considered where there are old and young, tremulous and weak and inept, if great care be not employed and injury is done the Sacrament by the spilling of the liquid. Because of the great multitude there would be difficulty also in giving the chalice cautiously for the form of wine, which also when kept for a long time would sour and cause nausea or vomition to those who would receive it; neither could it be readily taken to the sick without danger of spilling.

For these reasons and others the churches in which the custom had been to give both forms to laymen were induced, undoubtedly by impulse of the Holy Ghost, to give thereafter but one form, from the consideration chiefly that the entire Christ is under each form, and is received no less under one form than under two. In the Council of Constance, of such honorable renown, a decree to this effect appeared, and so too the Synod of Basle legitimately decreed. And although it was formerly a matter of freedom to use either one or both forms in the Eucharist, nevertheless, when the heresy arose which taught that both forms were necessary, the Holy Church, which is directed by the Holy Ghost, forbade both forms to laymen. For thus the Church is sometimes wont to extinguish heresies by contrary institutions; as when some arose who maintained that the Eucharist is properly celebrated only when unleavened bread is used, the Church for a while commanded that it be administered with leavened bread; and when Nestorius wished to establish that the perpetual Virgin Mary was mother only of Christ, not of God, the Church for a time forbade her to be called Christotokos, mother of Christ. Wherefore we must entreat the princes and cities not to permit this schism to be introduced into Germany, into the Roman Empire, or themselves to be separated from the custom of the Church Universal. Neither do the arguments adduced in this article avail, for while Christ indeed instituted both forms of the Sacrament, yet it is nowhere found in the Gospel that he enjoined that both forms be received by the laity. For what is said in Matt. 26:27: “Drink ye all of it,” was said to the twelve apostles, who were priests, as is manifest from Mark 14:23, where it is said: “And they all drank of it.” This certainly was not fulfilled hitherto with respect to laymen; whence the custom never existed throughout the entire Church that both forms were given to laymen, although it existed perhaps among the Corinthians and Carthaginians and some other Churches.

As to their reference to Gelasius, Canon Comperimus, of Consecration. Dist. 2, if they examine the document they will find that Gelasius speaks of priests, and not of laymen. Hence their declaration that the custom of administering but one form is contrary to divine law must be rejected. But most of all the appendix to the article must be rejected, that the procession with the Eucharist must be neglected or omitted, because the sacrament is thus divided. For they themselves know, or at least ought to know, that by the Christian faith Christ has not been divided, but that the entire Christ is under both forms, and that the Gospel nowhere forbids the division of the sacramental forms; as is done on Parasceve (Holy or Maundy Thursday) by the entire Church of the Catholics, although the consecration is made by the celebrant in both forms, who also ought to receive both. Therefore the princes and cities should be admonished to pay customary reverence and due honor to Christ the Son of the living God, our Savior and Glorifier, the Lord of heaven and earth, since they believe and acknowledge that he is truly present - a matter which they know has been most religiously observed by their ancestors, most Christian princes.

To Article XXIII.

II. Of the Marriage of Priests.

Their enumeration among abuses, in the second place, of the celibacy of the clergy, and the manner in which their priests marry and persuade others to marry, are verily matters worthy of astonishment, since they call sacerdotal celibacy an abuse, when that which is directly contrary, the violation of celibacy and the illicit transition to marriage, deserves to be called the worst abuse in priests. For that priests ought never to marry Aurelius testifys in the second Council of Carthage, where he says: “Because the apostles taught thus by example, and antiquity itself has preserved it, let us also maintain it.” And a little before a canon to this effect is read: “Resolved, That the bishops, presbyters and deacons, or those who administer the sacraments, abstain, as guardians of chastity, from wives.” From these words it is clear that this tradition has been received from the apostles, and not recently devised by the Church. Augustine, following Aurelius in the last question concerning the Old and New Testaments, writes upon these words, and asks: “If perhaps it be said, if it is lawful and good to marry, why are not priests permitted to have wives?” Pope Caliztus, a holy man and a martyr, decided thirteen hundred years ago that priests should not marry. The like is read also in the holy Councils of Caesarea, Neocaesarea, Africa, Agde, Gironne, Meaux, and Orleans. Thus the custom has been observed from the time of the Gospel and the apostles that one who has been put into the office of priests has never been permitted, according to law, to marry.

It is indeed true that on account of lack of ministers of God in the primitive Church married men were admitted to the priesthood, as is clear from the Apostolic Canons and the reply of Paphnutius in the Council of Nice; nevertheless, those who wished to contract marriage were compelled to do so before receiving the subdiaconate, as we read in the canon Si quis corum Dist. 32. This custom of the primitive Church the Greek Church has preserved and retained to this day. But when, by the grace of God, the Church has increased so that there was no lack of ministers in the Church, Pope Siricius, eleven hundred and forty years ago, undoubtedly not without the Holy Ghost, enjoined absolute continence upon the priests, Canon Plurimus, Dist. 82 - an injunction which Popes Innocent I., Leo the Great and Gregory the Great approved and ratified, and which the Latin Church has everywhere observed to this day. From these facts it is regarded sufficiently clear that the celibacy of the clergy is not an abuse, and that it was approved by fathers so holy at such a remote time, and was received by the entire Latin Church. Besides, the priests of the old law, as in the case of Zacharias, were separated from their wives at times when they discharged their office and ministered in the temple. But since the priest of the new law ought always to be engaged in the ministry, it follows that he ought always to be continent. Furthermore, married persons should not defraud one the other of conjugal duties except for a time that they may give themselves to prayer. 1 Cor. 7:5. But since a priest ought always to pray, he ought always to be continent. Besides, St. Paul says: “But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, that he may please the Lord. But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife,” 1 Cor. 7:32, 33.

Therefore let the priest who should please God continually flee from anxiety for a wife, and not look back with Lot’s wife, Gen. 19:26. Moreover, sacerdotal continence was foreshadowed also in the Old Testament, for Moses commanded those who were to receive the law not to approach their wives until the third day, Ex 19:15. Much less, therefore, should the priests, who are about to receive Christ as our Legislator, Lord and Savior, approach wives. Priests were commanded likewise to wear linen thigh-bandages, to cover the shame of the flesh (Ex. 28:42); which, says Beda, was a symbol of future continence among priests. Also, when Ahimelech was about to give the blessed bread to the servants of David he asked first if they had kept themselves from women and David replied that they had for three days. 1 Kings 21 (1 Sam. 21:4, 5). Therefore, they who take the living Bread which came down from heaven, John 6:32ff., should always be pure with respect to them. They who ate the Passover had their loins girded, Ex. 12:11. Wherefore the priests, who frequently eat Christ our Passover, ought to gird their loins by continence and cleanliness, as the Lord commands them: “Be ye clean,” he says, “that bear the vessels of the Lord,” Isa. 52:11. “Ye shall be holy, for I am holy,” Lev. 19:2. Therefore let priests serve God “in holiness and righteousness all their days.” Luke 1:75. Hence the holy martyr Cyprian testifies that it was revealed to him by the Lord, and he was most solemnly enjoined, to earnestly admonish the clergy not to occupy a domicile in common with women. Hence, since sacerdotal continence has been commanded by the pontiffs and revealed by God and promised to God, by the priest in a special vow, it must not be rejected. For this is required by the excellency of the sacrifice they offer, the frequency of prayer, and liberty and purity of spirit, that they care how to please God, according to the teaching of St. Paul. And because this is manifestly the ancient heresy of Jovinian, which the Roman Church condemned and Jerome refuted in his writings, and St. Augustine said that this heresy was immediately extinguished and did not attain to the corruption and abuse of priests, the princes ought not to tolerate it to the perpetual shame and disgrace of the Roman Empire, but should rather conform themselves to the Church universal, and not be influenced by those things which are suggested to them. For as to what Paul says, 1 Cor. 7:2: “To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife,” Jerome replies that St. Paul is speaking of one who has not made a vow, as Athanasius and Vulgarius understand the declaration of St. Paul: “If a virgin marry, she hath not sinned.” (1 Cor. 7:28), that here a virgin is meant who has not been consecrated to God. So in reference to : “It is better to marry than to burn” (1 Cor. 7:9), the pointed reply of Jerome against Jovinian is extant. For the same St. Paul says (1 Cor. 7:1): “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” For a priest has the intermediate position of neither marrying nor burning, but of restraining himself by the grace of God, which he obtains of God by devout prayer and chastising of the flesh, by fasting and vigils. Furthermore, when they say that Christ taught that all men are not fit for celibacy, it is indeed true, and on this account not all are fit for the priesthood; but let the priest pray, and he will be able to receive Christ’s word concerning continence, as St. Paul says: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” Phil. 4:13. For continence is a gift of God, Wisd. 8:21. Besides, when they allege that this is God’s ordinance and command, Gen. 1:28, Jerome replied concerning these words a thousand years ago: “It was necessary first to plant the forest, and that it grow, in order that that might be which could afterwards be cut down.” Then the command was given concerning the procreation of offspring, that the earth should be replenished, but since it has been replenished so that there is a pressure of nations, the commandment does not pertain in like manner upon those able to be continent.

In vain, too, do they boast of God’s express order. Let them show, if they can, where God has enjoined priests to marry. Besides, we find in the divine law that vows once offered should be paid, Ps. 49 and 75; Eccles. 5, Ps. 50:14, 76:11; Eccles. 5:4. Why, therefore, do they not observe this express divine law? They also pervert St. Paul, as though he teaches that one who is to be chosen bishop should be married when he says: “Let a bishop be the husband of one wife;” which is not to be understood as though he ought to be married, for then Martin, Nicolaus, Titus, John the Evangelist, yea Christ, would not have been bishops. Hence Jerome explains the words of St. Paul, “that a bishop be the husband of one wife,” as meaning that he be not a bigamist. The truth of this exposition is clear, not only from the authority of Jerome, which ought to be great with every Catholic, but also from St. Paul, who writes concerning the selection of widows: “Let not a widow be taken into the number under three score years, having been the wife of one man,” 1 Tim. 5:9. Lastly, the citation of what was done among the Germans is the statement of a fact, but not of a law, for while there was a contention between the Emperor Henry IV, and the Roman Pontiff, and also between his son and the nobles of the Empire, both divine and human laws were equally confused, so that at the time the laity rashly attempted to administer sacred things, to use filth instead of holy oil, to baptize, and to do much else foreign to the Christian religion. The clergy likewise went beyond their sphere - a precedent which cannot be cited as law. Neither was it regarded unjust to dissolve sacrileges marriages which had been contracted to no effect in opposition to vows and the sanction of fathers and councils; as even today the marriages of priests with their so-called wives are not valid.

In vain, therefore, do they complain that the world is growing old, and that as a remedy for infirmity rigor should be relaxed, for those who are consecrated to God have other remedies of infirmities; as, for instance, let them avoid the society of women, shun idleness, macerate the flesh by fasting and vigils, keep the outward senses, especially sight and hearing, from things forbidden, turn away their eyes from beholding vanity, and finally dash their little ones - i.e. their carnal thoughts - upon a rock (and Christ is the Rock), suppress their passions, and frequently and devoutly resort to God in prayer. These are undoubtedly the most effectual remedies for incontinence in ecclesiastics and servants of God. St. Paul said aright that the doctrine of those who forbid marriage is a doctrine of demons. Such was the doctrine of Tatian and Marcoin, whom Augustine and Jerome have mentioned. But the Church does not thus forbid marriage, as she even enumerates marriage among the seven sacraments; with which, however, it is consistent that on account of their superior ministry she should enjoin upon ecclesiastics superior purity. For it is false that there is an express charge concerning contracting marriage, for then John the Evangelist, St. James, Laurentius, Titus, Martin, Catharine, Barbara, etc., would have sinned. Nor is Cyprian influenced by these considerations to speak of a virgin who had made a solemn vow, but of one who had determined to live continently, as the beginning of Letter XI., Book I sufficiently shows. For the judgement of St. Augustine is very explicit: “It is damnable for Virgins who make a vow not only to marry, but even to wish to marry.” Hence the abuse of marriage and the breaking of vows in the clergy are not to be tolerated.

To Article XXIV.

III. Of the Mass

Whatever in this article is stated concerning the most holy office of the mass that agrees with the Holy Roman and Apostolic Church is approved, but whatever is added that is contrary to the observance of the general and universal orthodox Church is rejected, because it grievously offends God, injures Christian unity, and occasions dissensions, tumults and seditions in the Holy Roman Empire. Now, as to these things which they state in the article: First, it is displeasing that, in opposition to the usage of the entire Roman Church, they perform ecclesiastical rites not in the Roman but in the German language, and this they pretend that they do upon the authority of St. Paul, who taught that in the Church a language should be used which is understood by the people, 1 Cor. 14:19. But if this were the meaning of the words of St. Paul, it would compel them to perform the entire mass in German, which even they do not do. But since the priest is a person belonging to the entire Church, and not only to his surroundings, it is not wonderful that the priest celebrates the mass in the Latin language in a Latin Church. It is profitable to the hearer, however, if he hear the mass in faith of the Church; and experience teaches that among the Germans there has been greater devotion at mass in Christ’s believers who do not understand the Latin language than in those who today hear the mass in German. And if the words of the apostle be pondered, it is sufficient that the one replying occupy the place of the unlearned to say Amen, the very thing that the canons prescribe. Neither is it necessary that he hear or understand all the words of the mass, and even attend to it intelligently; for it is better to understand and to attend to its end, because the mass is celebrated in order that the Eucharist may be offered in memory of Christ’s passion.

And it is an argument in favor of this that, according to the general opinion of the fathers, the apostles and their successors until the times of the Emperor Hadrian celebrated the mass in the Hebrew language alone, which was indeed unknown to the Christians, especially the converted heathen. But even if the mass had been celebrated in the primitive Church in a tongue understood by the people, nevertheless this would not be necessary now, for many were daily converted who were ignorant of the ceremonies and unacquainted with the mysteries; and hence it was of advantage for them to understand the words of the office; but now Catholics imbibe from their cradles the manners and customs of the Church, whence they readily know what should be done at every time in the Church. Moreover, as to their complaints concerning the abuse of masses, there is none of those who think aright but does not earnestly desire that the abuses be corrected. __But that they who wait at the altar live of the altar is not an abuse, but pertains equally to both divine and human law.__ “Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charge?” says Paul. “Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?” 1 Cor 9:7, 13. Christ says: “The laborer is worthy of his hire.” Luke 10:7. But worthy of censure, above all things, is the discontinuance of the private mass in certain places, as though those having fixed and prescribed returns are sought no less than the public masses on account of gain. But by this abrogation of masses the worship of God is diminished, honor is withdrawn from the saints, the ultimate will of the founder is overthrown and defeated, the dead deprived of the rights due them, and the devotion of the living withdrawn and chilled. Therefore the abrogation of private masses cannot be conceded and tolerated. Neither can their assumption be sufficiently understood that Christ by his passion has made satisfaction for original sin, and has instituted the mass for actual sin; for this has never been heard by Catholics, and very many who are now asked most constantly deny that they have so taught. For the mass does not abolish sins, which are destroyed by repentance as their peculiar medicine, but abolishes the punishment due sin, supplies satisfactions, and confers increase of grace and salutary protection of the living, and, lastly, brings the hope of divine consolation and aid to all our wants and necessities.

Again, their insinuations that in the mass Christ is not offered must be altogether rejected, as condemned of old and excluded by the faithful. For Augustine says this was a very ancient heresy of the Arians, who denied that in the mass an oblation was made for the living and the dead. For this is opposed both to the Holy Scriptures and the entire Church. For through Malachi the Lord predicted the rejection of the Jews, the call of the Gentiles and the sacrifice of the evangelical law: “I have no pleasure in you, he saith, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name and a pure offering.” Mal 1:10, 11. But no pure offering has already been offered to God in every place, except in the sacrifice of the altar of the most pure Eucharist. This authority St. Augustine and other Catholics have used in favor of the mass against faithless Jews, and certainly with Catholic princes it should have greater influence than all objections of the adversaries. Besides, in speaking of the advent of the Messiah the same prophet says: “And he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old and as in former years,” Mal. 3:3, 4. Here in the spirit the prophet foresaw the sons of Levi - i.e. evangelical priests, says Jerome - about to offer sacrifices, not in the blood of goats, but in righteousness, as in the days of old. Hence these words are repeated by the Church in the canon of the mass under the influence of the same Spirit under whose influence they were written by the prophet. The angel also said to Daniel: “Many shall be purified and made white and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand.” And again: “The wise shall understand; and from the time that the daily sacrifices shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days,” Dan. 12:10, 11. Christ testifies that this prophecy is to be fulfilled, but that it has not been as yet fulfilled, Matt. 24:15. Therefore the daily sacrifice of Christ will cease universally at the advent of the abomination - i.e. of Antichrist - just as it has already ceased, particularly in some churches, and thus will be unemployed in the place of desolation - viz. when the churches will be desolated, in which the canonical hours will not be chanted or the masses celebrated or the sacraments administered, and there will be no altars, no images of saints, no candles, no furniture. Therefore all princes and faithful subjects of the Roman Empire ought to be encouraged never to admit or pass over anything that may aid the preparers of Antichrist in attaining such a degree of wickedness, when the woman - i.e. the Catholic Church - as St. John saw in the Spirit, will flee into the wilderness, where she will have a place prepared of God, that she may be nourished there twelve hundred and sixty days, Rev. 12:6. Finally, St. Paul says, Heb. 5:1: “Every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.” But since the external priesthood has not ceased in the new law, but has been changed to a better, therefore even today the high priest and the entire priesthood offer in the Church an external sacrifice, which is only one, the Eucharist.

To this topic that also is applicable which is read, according to the new translation, in Acts 13:1, 2: Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen and Saul sacrificed - i.e. they offered an oblation, which can and ought justly to be understood not of an oblation made to idols, but of the mass, since it is called by the Greeks liturgy. And that in the primitive Church the mass was a sacrifice the holy fathers copiously testify, and they support this opinion. For Ignatius, a pupil of St. John the Apostle, says: “It is not allowable without a bishop either to offer a sacrifice or to celebrate masses.” And Irenaeus, a pupil of John, clearly testifies that “Christ taught the new oblation of the New Testament, which the Church, receiving from the apostles, offers to God throughout the entire world.” This bishop, bordering upon the times of the apostles, testifies that the new evangelical sacrifice was offered throughout the entire world. Origin, Cyprian, Jerome, Chrysostom, Augustine, Basil, Hilary, etc., teach and testify the same, whose words for brevity’s sake are omitted. Since, therefore, the Catholic Church throughout the entire Christian world has always taught, held and observed as it today holds and observes, the same ought today to be held and observed inviolably. Nor does St. Paul in Hebrews oppose the oblation of the mass when he says that by one offering we have once been justified through Christ. For St. Paul is speaking of the offering of a victim - i.e. of a bloody sacrifice, of a lamb slain, viz. upon the cross - which offering was indeed once made whereby all sacraments, and even the sacrifice of the mass, have their efficacy. Therefore he was offered but once with the shedding of blood - viz. upon the cross; today he is offered in the mass as a peace making and sacramental victim. Then he was offered in a visible form capable of suffering; today he is offered in the mass veiled in mysteries, incapable of suffering, just as in the Old Testament he was sacrificed typically and under a figure. Finally, the force of the word shows that the mass is a sacrifice, since “mass” is nothing but “oblation,” and has received its name from the Hebrew word misbeach, altar - in Greek thysiasterion, on account of the oblation. It has been sufficiently declared above that we are justified not properly by faith, but by love. But if any such statement be found in the Holy Scriptures, Catholics know that it is declared concerning fides formata, which works by love (Gal. 5), and because justification is begun by faith, because it is the substance of things hoped for. Heb. 11:1. Neither is it denied that the mass is a memorial of Christ’s passion and God’s benefits, since this is approved by the figure of the paschal lamb, that was at the same time a victim and a memorial, Ex. 12:13, 14, and is represented not only by the Word and sacraments, but also by holy postures and vestments in the Catholic Church; but to the memory of the victim the Church offers anew the Eucharist in the mysteries to God the Father Almighty. Therefore the princes and cities are not censured for retaining one common mass in the Church, provided they do this according to the sacred canon, as observed by all Catholics. But in abrogating all other masses they have done what the Christian profession does not allow. Nor does any one censure the declaration that of old all who were present communed. Would that all were so disposed as to be prepared to partake of this bread worthily every day! But if they regard one mass advantageous, how much more advantageous would be a number of masses, of which they nevertheless have unjustly disapproved. When all these things are properly considered we must ask them to altogether annul and repudiate this new form of celebrating the mass that has been devised, and has been already so frequently changed, and to resume the primitive form for celebrating it according to the ancient rite and custom of the churches of Germany and all Christendom, and to restore the abrogated masses according to the ultimate will of their founders; whereby they would gain advantage and honor for themselves and peace and tranquility for all Germany.

To Article XXV.

IV. Of Confession.

As to confession, we must adhere to the reply and judgement given above in Article XI. For the support which they claim from Chrysostom is false, since they pervert to sacramental and sacerdotal confession what he says concerning public confession, as his words clearly indicate when in the beginning he says: “I do not tell thee to disclose thyself to the public or to accuse thyself before others.” Thus Gratian and thus Peter Lombard replied three hundred years ago; and the explanation becomes still more manifest from other pasages of Chrysostom. For in his twenty-ninth sermon he says of the penitent: “In his heart is contrition, in his mouth confession, in his entire work humility. This is perfect and fruitful repentance.” Does not this most exactly display the three parts of repentance? So in his tenth homily on Matthew, Chrysostom teaches of a fixed time for confession, and that after the wounds of crimes have been opened they should be healed, penance intervening. But how will crimes lie open if they are not disclosed to the priest by confession? Thus in several passages Chrysostom himself refutes this opinion, which Jerome also overthrows, saying: “If the serpent the devil have secretly bitten any one, and without the knowledge of another have infected him with the poison of sin, if he who has been struck be silent and do not repent, and be unwilling to confess his wound to his brother and instructor, the instructor, who has a tongue wherewith to cure him, will not readily be able to profit him. For if the sick man be ashamed to confess to the physician, the medicine is not adapted to that of which he is ignorant.” Let the princes and cities, therefore, believe these authors rather than a single gloss upon a decree questioned and rejected by those who are skilled in divine law. Wherefore, since a full confession is, not to say, necessary for salvation, but becomes the nerve of Christian discipline and the entire obedience, they must be admonished to conform to the orthodox Church. For, according to the testimony of Jerome, this was the heresy of the Montanist, who were condemned over twelve hundred years ago because they were ashamed to confess their sins. It is not becoming, therefore, to adopt the error of the wicked Montanus, but rather the rite of the holy fathers and the entire Church - viz. that each one teach, according to the norm of the orthodox faith, that confession, the chief treasure in the Church, be made in conformity to the rite kept among them also in the Church.

To Article XXVI.

V. Of the Distinction of Meats.

What they afterwards assert concerning the distinction of meats and like traditions, of which they seem to make no account, must be rejected. For we know from the apostle that all power is of God, and especially that ecclesiastical power has been given by God for edification: for this reason, from the Christian and devout heart of the holy Church the constitutions of the same holy, catholic and apostolic Church should be received as are useful to the Church, as well for promoting divine worship as for restraining the lust of the flesh, while they enable us the more readily to keep the divine commands, and when well considered are found in the Holy Scriptures; and he who despises or rashly resists them grievously offends God, according to Christ’s word: “He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth Him that sent me.” Luke 10:16. A prelate, however, is despised when his statutes are despised, according to St. Paul, not only when he says: “He that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit,” 1 Thess. 4:8, but also to the bishops: “Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to rule (Vulgate) the Church of God,” Acts 20:28. If prelates, therefore, have the power to rule, they will have the power also to make statutes for the salutary government of the Church and the growth of subjects. For the same apostle enjoined upon the Corinthians that among them all things should be done in order, 1 Cor. 14:40; but this cannot be done without laws. On that account he said to the Hebrews: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give an account,” Heb. 13:17. Here St. Paul reckons not only obedience, but also the reason for obedience. We see that St. Paul exercised this power, as, in addition to the Gospel, he prescribed so many laws concerning the choice of a bishop, concerning widows, concerning women, that they have their heads veiled, that they be silent in the church, and concerning even secular matters, 1 Thess. 4:1, 2, 6; concerning civil courts, 1 Cor. 6:1ff. And he says to the Corinthians very clearly: “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord.” 1 Cor. 7.12, and again he says elsewhere: “Stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle,” 2 Thess. 2:15.

Wherefore, the princes and cities must be admonished to render obedience to ecclesiastical statutes and constitutions, lest when they withdraw obedience that is due God, obedience may be withdrawn also from them by their subjects, as their subjects attempted in the recent civil insurrection, not to allow themselves to be seduced by false doctrines. Most false also is their declaration that the righteousness of faith is obscured by such ordinances; nay, he is rather mad and insane who would observe them without faith. For they are given to believers, and not to Turks or Ishmaelites. “For what have I to do to judge them that are without?” 1 Cor. 5:12. Moreover, in extolling here faith above all things they antagonize St. Paul, as we have said above, and do violence to St. Paul, whom they pervert to evangelical works when he speaks of legal works, as all these errors have been above refuted. False also is it that ecclesiastical ordinances obscure God’s commands, since they prepare man for these, as fasts suppress the lust of the flesh and help him from falling into luxury. False also is it that it is impossible to observe ordinances, for the Church is not a cruel mother who makes no exceptions in the celebration of festivals and in fasting and the like.

Furthermore, they falsely quote Augustine in reply to the inquiries of Januarius, who is diametrically opposed to them. For in this place he most clearly states that what has been universally delivered by the Church be also universally observed. But in indifferent things, and those whose observance and non- observance are free, the holy father Augustine states that, according to the authority of St. Ambrose, the custom of each church should be observed. “When I come back to Rome,” he says, “I fast on the Sabbath, but when here I do not fast.” Besides, they do violence to the Scriptures while they endeavor to support their errors. For Christ (Matt. 15) does not absolutely disapprove of human ordinances, but of those only that were opposed to the law of God, as is clearly acknowledged in Mark 7:8, 9. Here also Matt. 15:3 says: “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” So Paul (Col. 2) forbids that any one be judged in meat or in drink, or in respect to the Sabbath, after the Jewish manner; for when the Church forbids meats it does not judge them to be unclean, as the Jews in the Synagogue thought. So the declaration of Christ concerning that which goeth into the mouth (Matt. 15:11) is cited here without a sure and true understanding of it, since its intention was to remove the error of the Jews, who thought that food touched by unwashen hands becomes unclean, and rendered one eating it unclean, as is manifest from the context. Nor does the Church bring back to these observances Moses with his heavy hands.

In like manner they do violence to St. Paul, for 1 Tim. 4:1, 4, he calls that a doctrine of demons that forbids meats, as the Tatianites, Marcionites and Manichaeans thought that meats were unclean, as is clear from the words that follow, when St. Paul adds: “Every creature of God is good.” But the church does not forbid meats on the ground that they are evil or unclean, but as an easier way to keep God’s commandments; therefore the opposite arguments fail. If they would preach the cross and bodily discipline and fasts, that in this way the body be reduced to subjection, their doctrine would be commendable; but their desire that these be free is condemned and rejected as alien to the faith and discipline of the Church. Nor does the diversity of rites support them, for this is properly allowed in regard to particular matters, in order that each individual province may have its own taste satisfied, as Jerome says; but individual ecclesiastical rites should be universally observed, and special rites should be observed each in their own province. Also, they make no mention of Easter for the Roman pontiffs reduced the Asiatics to a uniform observance of Easter with the universal Church. In this way Irenaeus must be understood, for without the loss of faith some vigils of the apostles were not celebrated with fasting throughout Gaul, which Germany nevertheless observes in fasts. The princes and cities must also be admonished to follow the decision of Pope Gregory, for he enjoins that the custom of each province be observed if it employs nothing contrary to the Catholic faith, Canon Quoniam, Distinct. xii. Hence we are not ignorant that there is a various observance of dissimilar rites in unity of faith, which should be observed in every province as it has been delivered and received from the ancients, without injury, however, to the universal rites of the entire Catholic Church.

To Article XXVII.

VI. Of Monastic Vows.

Although many and various matters have been introduced in this article by the suggestion of certain persons (Another text, Cod. Pflug., reads “Preachers”), nevertheless, when all are taken into consideration with mature thought, since monastic vows have their foundation in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and most holy men, renowned and admirable by miracles, have lived in these religious orders with many thousand thousands, and for so many centuries their ordinances and rules of living have been received and approved throughout the entire Christian world by the Catholic Church, it is in no way to be tolerated that vows are licentiously broken without any fear of God. For, in the Old Testament, God approved the vows of the Nazarenes, Num 6:2ff, and the vows of the Rechabites, who neither drank wine or ate grapes, Jer. 36:6, 19; while he strictly requires that the vow once made be paid, Deut. 23:21f; “It is ruin to a man after vows to retract,” Prov. 20:25; “The vows of the just are acceptable,” Prov. 15:8. God also teaches specifically through the prophet that monastic vows please him. For in Isa. 56:4, 5 it is read as follows: “Thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbath, and choose the things that please me and take hold of my covenant, Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than that of sons and of daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.” But to what eunuchs does God make these promises? To those, undoubtedly, whom Christ praises, “which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake,” Matt. 19:12; to those, undoubtedly, who, denying their own, come after Christ and deny themselves and follow him, Luke 9:23, so that they are governed no longer by their own will, but by that of their rule and superior. In like manner, according to the testimony of the apostle, those virgins do better who, contemning the world and spurning its enticements, vow and maintain virginity in monasteries, than those who place their necks beneath the matrimonial burden. For thus St. Paul says, 1 Cor. 7:28: ĎHe that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.” Also, concerning a widow, he continues: “She is happier if she so abide, after my judgment.”

No one is ignorant of the holiness of the hermit Paul, of Basil, Anthony, Benedict, Bernard, Dominic, Franciscus, Wiliam, Augustine, Clara, Bridget, and similar hermits, who indeed despised the entire realm of the world and all the splendor of the age on account of love to our Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, the heresy of the Lampetians was condemned in most ancient times, which the heretic Jovinian attempted in vain to revive at Rome. Therefore, all things must be rejected which in this article have been produced against monasticism - viz. that monasteries succeeded vows. Of the nunneries it is sufficiently ascertained that, though pertaining to the weaker sex, how in most cloisters the holy nuns persevered far more constantly to vows once uttered, even under these princes and cities, than the majority of monks; even to this day it has been impossible to move them from their holy purpose by any prayers, blandishments, threats, terrors, difficulties or distresses. Wherefore, those matters are not to be admitted which are interpreted unfavorably, since it has been expressly declared in the Holy Scriptures that the monastic life, when kept with proper observance, as may by the grace of God be rendered by any monks, merits eternal life; and indeed Christ has promised to them a much more bountiful reward, saying: “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life,” Matt. 19:29.

That monasteries, as they show, were formerly literary schools, is not denied; nevertheless, there is no ignorance of the fact that these were at first schools of virtues and discipline, to which literature was afterwards added. But since no one putting his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of heaven, Luke 9:62, all marriages and breaking of vows by monks and nuns should be regarded as condemned, according to the tenor not only of the Holy Scriptures, but also of the laws and canons, “having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith,” as St. Paul says, 1 Tim. 5:12. Moreover, that vows are not contrary to the ordinance of God as been declared with reference to the second article of the alleged abuses. That they attempt to defend themselves by dispensations of the Pope is of no effect. For although the Pope has perhaps made a dispensation for the king of Aragon, who, we read, returned to the monastery after having had offspring, or for any other prince on account of the peace of the entire kingdom or province, to prevent the exposure of the entire kingdom or province to wars, carnage, pillage, debauchery, conflagrations, murders, - nevertheless, in private persons who abandon vows in apostasy such grounds for dispensations cannot be urged. For the assumption is repelled that the vow concerns a matter that is impossible. For continence, which so many thousands of men and virgins have maintained, is not impossible. For although the wise man says (Wisd. 8:21): “I knew that I could not otherwise be continent, unless God gave it me,” nevertheless Christ promised to give it. “Seek,” he says, “and ye shall find,Ë Luke 11:9; Matt 18:28; and St. Paul says: “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it,” 1 Cor. 10:13.

They are also poor defenders of their cause when they admit that the violation of a vow is irreprehensible, and it must be declared that by law such marriages are censured and should be dissolved, C. Ut. Continentiae, xxvii. Q. 1, as also by the ancient statutes of emperors. But when they allege in their favor C. Nuptiarum, They accomplish nothing, for it speaks of a simple not of a religious vow, which the Church observes also to this day. The marriages of monks, nuns, or priests, have therefore never been ratified. Futile also is their statement that a votive life is an invention of men, for it has been founded upon the Holy Scriptures, inspired into the most holy fathers by the Holy Ghost. Nor does it deny honor to Christ, since monks observe all things for Christ’s sake and imitate Christ. False, therefore, is the judgement whereby they condemn monastic service as godless, whereas it is most Christian. For the monks have not fallen from God’s grace, as the Jews of whom St. Paul speaks, Gal. 5:4, when they still sought justification by the law of Moses; but the monks endeavor to live more nearly to the Gospel, that they may merit eternal life. Therefore, the allegations here made against monasticism are impious. Moreover, the malicious charge that is still further added, that those in religious orders claim to be in a state of perfection, has never been heard of by them; for those in these orders claim not for themselves a state of perfection, but only a state in which to acquire perfection - because their regulations are instruments of perfection, and not perfection itself. In this manner Gerson must be received, who does not deny that religious orders are states wherein to acquire perfection as he declares in his treatises, “Against the Proprietors of the Rule of St. Augustine”, “Of Evangelical Counsels”, “Of Perfection of Heart”, and in other places. For this reason the princes and cities should be admonished to strive rather for the reformation of the monasteries by their legitimate superiors than for their subversion - rather for the godly improvement of the monks than that they be abolished; as their most religious ancestors, most Christian princes, have done. But if they will not believe holy and most religious fathers defending monastic vows, let them hear at least His Imperial Highness, the Emperor Justinian, in “Authentica,” De Monachis, Coll. ii.

To Article XXVIII.

VII. Of Ecclesiastical Power.

Although many things are introduced here in the topic of Ecclesiastical Power, with greater bitterness than is just, yet it must be declared that to most reverend bishops and priests, and to the entire clergy, all ecclesiastical power is freely conceded that belongs to them by law or custom. Besides, it is proper to preserve for them all immunities, privileges, preferments and prerogatives granted them by Roman emperors and kings. Nor can those things that have been granted ecclesiastics by imperial munificence or gift be allowed to be infringed by any princes or any other subject of the Roman Empire. For it is most abundantly proved that ecclesiastical power in spiritual things has been founded upon divine right, of which St. Paul indeed says: “For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction,” 2 Cor. 10:8, and afterwards: “Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction, 2 Cor. 13:10. Paul also displays his coercitive disposition when he says: “What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love and in the spirit of meekness?” 1 Cor. 4:21. And of judicial matters he writes to Timothy: “Against an elder receive not an accusation but before two or three witnesses,” 1 Tim. 5:19. From these passages it is very clearly discerned that bishops have the power not only of the ministry of the Word of God, but also of ruling and coercitive correction in order to direct subjects to the goal of eternal blessedness. But for the power of ruling there is required the power to judge, to define, to discriminate and to decide what is expedient or conducive to the aforesaid goal.

In vain, therefore, and futile is all that is inserted in the present article in opposition to the immunity of churches and schools. Accordingly, all subjects of the Roman Empire must be forbidden from bringing the clergy before a civil tribunal, contrary to imperial privileges that have been conceded: for Pope Clement the Martyr says: “If any of the presbyters have trouble with one another, let whatever it be adjusted before the presbyters of the Church.” Hence Constantine the Great, the most Christian Emperor, was unwilling in the holy Council of Nice to give judgement even in secular cases. “Ye are gods,” he says, “appointed by the true God. Go, settle the case among yourselves, because it is not proper that we judge gods.” As to what is further repeated concerning Church regulations has been sufficiently replied to above. Nor does Christian liberty, which they bring forth as an argument, avail them, since this is not liberty, but prodigious license, which, inculcated on the people, excites them to fatal and most dangerous sedition. For Christian liberty is not opposed to ecclesiastical usages since they promote what is good, but it is opposed to the servitude of the Mosaic law and the servitude of sin. “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin,” says Christ, John 8:34. Hence their breaking fasts, their free partaking of meats, their neglect of canonical hours, their omission of confession - viz. at Easter - and their commission and omission of similar things, are not a use of liberty, but an abuse thereof, contrary to the warnings of St. Paul, who earnestly warned them, saying: “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Gal. 5:13. Hence no one ought to conceal his crimes under the pretext of Gospel liberty, which St. Peter also forbade: “As free, and not using your liberty for an cloak of maliciousness, but as the servant of God,” 1 Pet. 2:16. As to what they have added concerning abuses, all the princes and estates of the Empire undoubtedly know that not even the least is approved either by His Imperial Majesty or by any princes or any Christian man, but that both the princes and the estates of the Empire desire to strive with a common purpose and agreement, in order that, the abuses being removed and reformed, the excesses of both estates may be either utterly abolished or reformed for the better, and that the ecclesiastical estate, which has been weakened in many ways, and the Christian religion, which has grown cold and relaxed in some, may be restored and renewed to its pristine glory and distinction. To this, as is evident to all, His Imperial Majesty has thus far devoted the greatest care and labor, and kindly promises in the future to employ for this cause all his means and zeal.


From the foregoing - viz. the Confession and its Reply - since His Imperial Majesty perceives that the Elector, the princes and the cities agree on many points with the Catholic and Roman Church, and dissent from the godless dogmas that are disseminated all over Germany, and the pamphlets circulated everywhere, and that they disapprove of and condemn them, - His Holy Imperial Majesty is fully convinced, and hopes that the result will be, that when the Elector, princes and cities have heard and understood this Reply they will agree with united minds in regard to those matters also in which they perhaps have not agreed hitherto with the Roman Catholic Church, and that in all other things above mentioned they will obediently conform to the Catholic and Roman Church and the Christian faith and religion. For such conduct on their part His Imperial Majesty will be peculiarly grateful, and will bestow his special favor upon them all in common, and also, as opportunity offers, upon them individually. For (which may God forbid) if this admonition, so Christian and indulgent, be unheeded, the Elector, princes and cities can judge that a necessary cause is afforded His Imperial Majesty that, as becometh a Roman Emperor and Christian Caesar and a defender and advocate of the Catholic and Christian Church, he must care for such matters as the nature of the charge committed to him and his integrity of conscience require.

This text was converted to ascii format for Project Wittenberg by Karen Janssen and is in the public domain.

Consensus Tigurinus (1549)

Editor’s Introduction

The Consenus Tigurinus is relatively unknown but very important for conclusively demonstrating how far apart Lutheranism is from Calvinism when it comes to the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. This confession of faith was written by John Calvin himself, who leaves no doubt that he comes down quite decidedly on the side of the spiritualizing interpretation of the Lord’s Supper, as held by Zwingli and his later followers, and thus effectively denies the actual presence of the body and blood of Christ under the bread and wine, referring to this belief in this document as a “perverse and impious superstition.” This is a very important document for understanding the context in which Lutheran had to do battle against the false doctrine of the Reformed Church, as led by Calvin. The Formula of Concord, prepared in 1577, was a decisive response that unified Lutherans in their opposition to Calvinism, and to those who were secretly or openly attempting to move the Lutheran Church away from Luther’s teachings of the Supper and toward the Reformed/Calvinist view.

The Consensus Tigurinus is clearly in view when the Saxon Visitation Articles were prepared in the early 1590s. The position on the Lord’s Supper articulated in this statement by Calvin remains the formal position of the Reformed Church. Calvinist speaks very carefully about the “presence of Christ” but is equally careful to make clear the presence is spiritual only and is a matter of the human soul’s ascent to the Ascended Lord, where there is a spiritual eating and drinking, by faith. This is directly contradictory of the Biblical, hence Lutheran, confession of the Lord’s Supper.

The following comments are drawn from a Calvinist source, thus demonstrating that our interpretation and understanding of the Consensus Tigurinus are by no means simply a Lutheran bias or distortion of the facts.

“The Consensus Tigurinus was composed by Calvin himself, in 1549, and was adopted by the Zurich theologians. It comprises twenty-six articles, which treat only of the sacrament of the Supper. It grew out of a desire upon the part of Calvin, to effect a union among the Reformed upon the doctrine of the Eucharist. The attitude of Calvin respecting the Sacramentarian question was regarded by the Lutherans, as favourable rather than otherwise to their peculiar views. His close and cordial agreement with Luther upon the fundamental points in theology, together with the strength of his phraseology when speaking of the nature of the Eucharist, led the Swiss Zuinglians to deem him as on the whole further from them than from their opponents. In this Consensus Tigurinus, he defines his statements more distinctly, and left no doubt in the minds of the Zurichers that he adopted heartily the spiritual and symbolical theory of the Lord’s Supper. The course of events afterwards showed that Calvin’s theory really harmonized with Zuingle’s.” [Source: A History of Christian Doctrine By William Greenough Thayer Shedd, 1863.].

Consensus Tigurinus

– John Calvin (1549) translated by Henry Beveridge

Mutual Consent in Regard to the Sacraments Between the Ministers of the Church of Zurich and John Calvin, Minister of the Church of Geneva. Now published by those who framed it. MDLIV

Article 1. The Whole Spiritual Government of the Church Leads us to Christ.

Seeing that Christ is the end of the law, and the knowledge of him comprehends in itself the whole sum of the gospel, there is no doubt that the object of the whole spiritual government of the Church is to lead us to Christ, as it is by him alone we come to God, who is the final end of a happy life. Whosoever deviates from this in the slightest degree, can never speak duly or appositely of any ordinances of God.

Article 2. A True Knowledge of the Sacraments from the Knowledge of Christ.

As the sacraments are appendages of the gospel, he only can discourse aptly and usefully of their nature, virtue, office, and benefit, who begins with Christ: and that not by adverting cursorily to the name of Christ, but by truly holding for what end he was given us by the Father, and what blessings he has conferred upon us.

Article 3. Nature of the Knowledge of Christ.

We must hold therefore that Christ, being the eternal Son of God, and of the same essence and glory with the Father, assumed our flesh, to communicate to us by right of adoption that which he possessed by nature, namely, to make us sons of God. This is done when ingrafted by faith into the body of Christ, and that by the agency of the Holy Spirit we are first counted righteous by a free imputation of righteousness, and then regenerated to a new life: whereby being formed again in the image of our heavenly Father, we renounce the old man.

Article 4. Christ a Priest and King.

Thus Christ, in his human nature, is to be considered as our priest, who expiated our sins by the one sacrifice of his death, put away all our transgressions by his obedience, provided a perfect righteousness for us, and now intercedes for us, that we may have access to God. He is to be considered as a repairer, who, by the agency of his Spirit, reforms whatever is vicious in us, that we may cease to live to the world and the flesh, and God himself may live in us. He is to be considered as a king, who enriches us with all kinds of blessings, governs and defends us by his power, provides us with spiritual weapons, delivers us from all harm, and rules and guides us by the sceptre of his mouth. And he is to be so considered, that he may raise us to himself, the true God, and to the Father, until the fulfilment of what is finally to take place, viz., God be all in all.

Article 5. How Christ Communicates Himself to Us.

Moreover, that Christ may thus exhibit himself to us and produce these effects in us, he must be made one with us, and we must be ingrafted into his body. He does not infuse his life into us unless he is our head, and from him the whole body, fitly joined together through every joint of supply, according to his working, maketh increase of the body in the proportion of each member.

Article 6. Spiritual Communion. Institution of the Sacraments.

The spiritual communion which we have with the Son of God takes place when he, dwelling in us by his Spirit, makes all who believe capable of all the blessings which reside in him. In order to testify this, both the preaching of the gospel was appointed, and the use of the sacraments committed to us, namely, the sacraments of holy Baptism and the holy Supper.

Article 7. The Ends of the Sacraments

The ends of the sacraments are to be marks and badges of Christian profession and fellowship or fraternity, to be incitements to gratitude and exercises of faith and a godly life; in short, to be contracts binding us to this. But among other ends the principal one is, that God may, by means of them, testify, represent, and seal his grace to us. For although they signify nothing else than is announced to us by the Word itself, yet it is a great matter, first, that there is submitted to our eye a kind of living images which make a deeper impression on the senses, by bringing the object in a manner directly before them, while they bring the death of Christ and all his benefits to our remembrance, that faith may be the better exercised; and, secondly, that what the mouth of God had announced is, as it were, confirmed and ratified by seals.

Article 8. Gratitude.

Now, seeing that these things which the Lord has given as testimonies and seals of his grace are true, he undoubtedly truly performs inwardly by his Spirit that which the sacraments figure to our eyes and other senses; in other words, we obtain possession of Christ as the fountain of all blessings, both in order that we may be reconciled to God by means of his death, be renewed by his Spirit to holiness of life, in short, obtain righteousness and salvation; and also in order that we may give thanks for the blessings which were once exhibited on the cross, and which we daily receive by faith.

Article 9. The Signs and the Things Signified Not Disjoined but Distinct.

Wherefore, though we distinguish, as we ought, between the signs and the things signified, yet we do not disjoin the reality from the signs, but acknowledge that all who in faith embrace the promises there offered receive Christ spiritually, with his spiritual gifts, while those who had long been made partakers of Christ continue and renew that communion.

Article 10. The Promise Principally to Be Looked To in the Sacraments.

And it is proper to look not to the bare signs, but rather to the promise thereto annexed. As far, therefore, as our faith in the promise there offered prevails, so far will that virtue and efficacy of which we speak display itself. Thus the substance of water, bread, and wine, by no means offers Christ to us, nor makes us capable of his spiritual gifts. The promise rather is to be looked to, whose office it is to lead us to Christ by the direct way of faith, faith which makes us partakers of Christ.

Article 11. We Are Not to Stand Gazing on the Elements.

This refutes the error of those who stand gazing on the elements, and attach their confidence of salvation to them; seeing that the sacraments separated from Christ are but empty shows, and a voice is distinctly heard throughout proclaiming that we must adhere to none but Christ alone, and seek the gift of salvation from none but him.

Article 12. The Sacraments Effect Nothing by Themselves.

Besides, if any good is conferred upon us by the sacraments, it is not owing to any proper virtue in them, even though in this you should include the promise by which they are distinguished. For it is God alone who acts by his Spirit. When he uses the instrumentality of the sacraments, he neither infuses his own virtue into them nor derogates in any respect from the effectual working of his Spirit, but, in adaptation to our weakness, uses them as helps; in such manner, however, that the whole power of acting remains with him alone.

Article 13. God Uses the Instrument, but All the Virtue Is His.

Wherefore, as Paul reminds us, that neither he that planteth nor he that watereth is any thing, but God alone that giveth the increase; so also it is to be said of the sacraments that they are nothing, because they will profit nothing, unless God in all things make them effectual. They are indeed instruments by which God acts efficaciously when he pleases, yet so that the whole work of our salvation must be ascribed to him alone.

Article 14. The Whole Accomplished by Christ.

We conclude, then, that it is Christ alone who in truth baptizes inwardly, who in the Supper makes us partakers of himself, who, in short, fulfils what the sacraments figure, and uses their aid in such manner that the whole effect resides in his Spirit.

Article 15. How the Sacraments Confirm.

Thus the sacraments are sometimes called seals, and are said to nourish, confirm, and advance faith, and yet the Spirit alone is properly the seal, and also the beginner and finisher of faith. For all these attributes of the sacraments sink down to a lower place, so that not even the smallest portion of our salvation is transferred to creatures or elements.

Article 16. All Who Partake of the Sacraments Do Not Partake of the Reality.

Besides, we carefully teach that God does not exert his power indiscriminately in all who receive the sacraments, but only in the elect. For as he enlightens unto faith none but those whom he hath foreordained to life, so by the secret agency of his Spirit he makes the elect receive what the sacraments offer.

Article 17. The Sacraments Do Not Confer Grace.

By this doctrine is overthrown that fiction of the sophists which teaches that the sacraments confer grace on all who do not interpose the obstacle of mortal sin. For besides that in the sacraments nothing is received except by faith, we must also hold that the grace of God is by no means so annexed to them that whoso receives the sign also gains possession of the thing. For the signs are administered alike to reprobate and elect, but the reality reaches the latter only.

Article 18. The Gifts Offered to All, but Received by Believers Only.

It is true indeed that Christ with his gifts is offered to all in common, and that the unbelief of man not overthrowing the truth of God, the sacraments always retain their efficacy; but all are not capable of receiving Christ and his gifts. Wherefore nothing is changed on the part of God, but in regard to man each receives according to the measure of his faith.

Article 19. Believers Before, and Without the Use of the Sacraments, Communicate with Christ.

As the use of the sacraments will confer nothing more on unbelievers than if they had abstained from it, nay, is only destructive to them, so without their use believers receive the reality which is there figured. Thus the sins of Paul were washed away by baptism, though they had been previously washed away. So likewise baptism was the laver of regeneration to Cornelius, though he had already received the Holy Spirit. So in the Supper Christ communicates himself to us, though he had previously imparted himself, and perpetually remains in us. For seeing that each is enjoined to examine himself, it follows that faith is required of each before coming to the sacrament. Faith is not without Christ; but inasmuch as faith is confirmed and increased by the sacraments, the gifts of God are confirmed in us, and thus Christ in a manner grows in us and we in him.

Article 20. The Benefit Not Always Received in the Act of Communicating.

The advantage which we receive from the sacraments ought by no means to be restricted to the time at which they are administered to us, just as if the visible sign, at the moment when it is brought forward, brought the grace of God along with it. For those who were baptized when mere infants, God regenerates in childhood or adolescence, occasionally even in old age. Thus the utility of baptism is open to the whole period of life, because the promise contained in it is perpetually in force. And it may sometimes happen that the use of the holy Supper, which, from thoughtlessness or slowness of heart does little good at the time, afterward bears its fruit.

Article 21. No Local Presence Must Be Imagined.

We must guard particularly against the idea of any local presence. For while the signs are present in this world, are seen by the eyes and handled by the hands, Christ, regarded as man, must be sought nowhere else than in Heaven, and not otherwise than with the mind and eye of faith. Wherefore it is a perverse and impious superstition to inclose him under the elements of this world.

Article 22. Explanation of the Words “This Is My Body.”

Those who insist that the formal words of the Supper, “This is my body; this is my blood,” are to be taken in what they call the precisely literal sense, we repudiate as preposterous interpreters. For we hold it out of controversy that they are to be taken figuratively, the bread and wine receiving the name of that which they signify. Nor should it be thought a new or unwonted thing to transfer the name of things figured by metonomy [modern spelling: metonymy] to the sign, as similar modes of expression occur throughout the Scriptures, and we by so saying assert nothing but what is found in the most ancient and most approved writers of the Church.

Article 23. Of the Eating of the Body.

When it is said that Christ, by our eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood, which are here figured, feeds our souls through faith by the agency of the Holy Spirit, we are not to understand it as if any mingling or transfusion of substance took place, but that we draw life from the flesh once offered in sacrifice and the blood shed in expiation.

Article 24. Transubstantiation and Other Follies.

In this way are refuted not only the fiction of the Papists concerning transubstantiation, but all the gross figments and futile quibbles which either derogate from his celestial glory or are in some degree repugnant to the reality of his human nature. For we deem it no less absurd to place Christ under the bread or couple him with the bread, than to transubstantiate the bread into his body.

Article 25. The Body of Christ Locally in Heaven.

And that no ambiguity may remain when we say that Christ is to be sought in Heaven, the expression implies and is understood by us to intimate distance of place. For though philosophically speaking there is no place above the skies, yet as the body of Christ, bearing the nature and mode of a human body, is finite and is contained in Heaven as its place, it is necessarily as distant from us in point of space as Heaven is from Earth.

Article 26. Christ Not to Be Adored in the Bread.

If it is not lawful to affix Christ in our imagination to the bread and the wine, much less is it lawful to worship him in the bread. For although the bread is held forth to us as a symbol and pledge of the communion which we have with Christ, yet as it is a sign and not the thing itself, and has not the thing either included in it or fixed to it, those who turn their minds towards it, with the view of worshipping Christ, make an idol of it.

Heidelberg Disputation (1518)

Editor’s Introduction

Following Luther’s proposal for a disputation on the subject of indulgences, the Augustinian Order, to which Luther belonged, was generally supportive of his views. The head of the order in Germany, Johannes Staupitz, called for a formal disputation to be attended by the leadership of the order, in which Luther would be provided a chance to expand upon his concern. The disputation took place at the meeting of the Augustinian Order, in Heidelberg, in April 1518. Luther’s opponents had been hopeful that Luther would be silenced, but Staupitz wanted to give Luther a fair hearing, since he was generally sympathetic with Luther’s views. At the meeting, Luther put forward a “theology of the cross” as opposed to a “theology of glory.” The disputation is, in many ways, more significant than the 95 theses, for they advanced Luther’s growing realization that the theology of late Medieval Roman Catholicism was fundamentally and essentially at odds with Biblical theology. As a result of the disputation, John Eck proposed a debate between himself and representatives of Luther’s views, which was held in Leipzig from June to July, 1519.

The Heidelberg Disputation

Brother Martin Luther, Master of Sacred Theology, will preside, and Brother Leonhard Beyer, Master of Arts and Philosophy, will defend the following theses before the Augustinians of this renowned city of Heidelberg in the customary place, on April 26th 1518.


Distrusting completely our own wisdom, according to that counsel of the Holy Spirit, ┬╗Do not rely on your own insight┬ź (Prov. 3:5), we humbly present to the judgment of all those who wish to be here these theological paradoxes, so that it may become clear whether they have been deduced well or poorly from St. Paul, the especially chosen vessel and instrument of Christ, and also from St. Augustine, his most trustworthy interpreter.

  1. The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.

  2. Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end.

  3. Although the works of man always seem attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.

  4. Although the works of God are always unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits.

  5. The works of men are thus not mortal sins (we speak of works which are apparently good), as though they were crimes.

  6. The works of God (we speak of those which he does through man) are thus not merits, as though they were sinless.

  7. The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God.

  8. By so much more are the works of man mortal sins when they are done without fear and in unadulterated, evil self-security.

  9. To say that works without Christ are dead, but not mortal, appears to constitute a perilous surrender of the fear of God.

  10. Indeed, it is very difficult to see how a work can be dead and at the same time not a harmful and mortal sin.

  11. Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work.

  12. In the sight of God sins are then truly venial when they are feared by men to be mortal.

  13. Free will, after the fall, exists in name only, and as long as it does what it is able to do, it commits a mortal sin.

  14. Free will, after the fall, has power to do good only in a passive capacity, but it can always do evil in an active capacity.

  15. Nor could free will remain in a state of innocence, much less do good, in an active capacity, but only in its passive capacity.

  16. The person who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him adds sin to sin so that he becomes doubly guilty.

  17. Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of Christ.

  18. It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.

  19. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the ┬╗invisible┬ź things of God as though they were clearly ┬╗perceptible in those things which have actually happened┬ź (Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25),

  20. he deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.

  21. A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.

  22. That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

  23. The ┬╗law brings the wrath┬ź of God (Rom. 4:15), kills, reviles, accuses, judges, and condemns everything that is not in Christ.

  24. Yet that wisdom is not of itself evil, nor is the law to be evaded; but without the theology of the cross man misuses the best in the worst manner.

  25. He is not righteous who does much, but he who, without work, believes much in Christ.

  26. The law says, ┬╗dothis┬ź, and it is never done. Grace says, ┬╗believe in this┬ź, and everything is already done.

  27. Actually one should call the work of Christ an acting work ( <em>operans</em>) and our work an accomplished work ( <em>operatum</em>), and thus an accomplished work pleasing to God by the grace of the acting work.

  28. The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it.


debated in the Chapter at Heidelberg, May 1518, A.D.

  1. The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.

This is made clear by the Apostle in his letter to the Romans (3:21): ┬╗But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.┬ź St. Augustine interprets this in his book ŤThe Spirit and the Letterő (De Spiritu et Littera): ┬╗Without the law, that is, without its support.┬ź In Rom. 5:20 the Apostle states, ┬╗Law intervened, to increase the trespass┬ź, and in Rom. 7:9 he adds, ┬╗But when the commandment came, sin revived.┬ź For this reason he calls the law ┬╗a law of death┬ź and ┬╗a law of sin┬ź in Rom. 8:2. Indeed, in 2 Cor. 3:6 he says, ┬╗the written code kills┬ź, which St. Augustine throughout his book ŤThe Spirit and the Letterő understands as applying to every law, even the holiest law of God.

  1. Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end.

Since the law of God, which is holy and unstained, true, just, etc., is given man by God as an aid beyond his natural powers to enlighten him and move him to do the good, and nevertheless the opposite takes place, namely, that he becomes more wicked, how can he, left to his own power and without such aid, be induced to do good? If a person does not do good with help from without, he will do even less by his own strength. Therefore the Apostle, in Rom. 3:10-12, calls all persons corrupt and impotent who neither understand nor seek God, for all, he says, have gone astray.

  1. Although the works of man always seem attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.

Human works appear attractive outwardly, but within they are filthy, as Christ says concerning the Pharisees in Matt. 23:27. For they appear to the doer and others good and beautiful, yet God does not judge according to appearances but searches ┬╗the minds and hearts┬ź (Ps. 7:9). For without grace and faith it is impossible to have a pure heart. Acts 15:9: ┬╗He cleansed their hearts by faith.┬ź

The thesis is proven in the following way: If the works of righteous men are sins, as [Thesis┬á 7 (#7) of this disputation states, this is much more the case concerning the works of those who are not righteous. But the just speak in behalf of their works in the following way: ┬╗Do not enter into judgment with thy servant, Lord, for no man living is righteous before thee┬ź (Ps. 143:2). The Apostle speaks likewise in Gal. 3:10, ┬╗All who rely on the works of the law are under the curse.┬ź But the works of men are the works of the law, and the curse will not be placed upon venial sins. Therefore they are mortal sins. In the third place, Rom. 2:21 states, ┬╗You who teach others not to steal, do you steal?┬ź St. Augustine interprets this to mean that men are thieves according to their guilty consciences even if they publicly judge or reprimand other thieves.

  1. Although the works of God are always unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits.

That the works of God are unattractive is clear from what is said in Isa. 53:2, ┬╗He had no form of comeliness┬ź, and in 1 Sam. 2:6, ┬╗The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.┬ź This is understood to mean that the Lord humbles and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men, as in our own, as nothing, foolish, and wicked, for we are in truth that. Insofar as we acknowledge and confess this, there is ┬╗no form or beauty┬ź in us, but our life is hidden in God (i.e. in the bare confidence in his mercy), finding in ourselves nothing but sin, foolishness, death, and hell, according to that verse of the Apostle in 2 Cor. 6:9-10, ┬╗As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as dying, and behold we live.┬ź And that it is which Isa. 28:21 calls the ┬╗alienwork┬ź of God ┬╗that he may do his work┬ź (that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope), just as Hab. 3:2 states, ┬╗In wrath remember mercy.┬ź Such a man therefore is displeased with all his works; he sees no beauty, but only his depravity. Indeed, he also does those things which appear foolish and disgusting to others.

This depravity, however, comes into being in us either when God punishes us or when we accuse ourselves, as 1 Cor. 11:31 says, ┬╗If we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged by the Lord┬ź. Deut. 32:36 also states, ┬╗The Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.┬ź In this way, consequently, the unattractive works which God does in us, that is, those which are humble and devout, are really eternal, for humility and fear of God are our entire merit.

  1. The works of men are thus not mortal sins (we speak of works which are apparently good), as though they were crimes.

For crimes are such acts which can also be condemned before men, such as adultery, theft, homicide, slander, etc. Mortal sins, on the other hand, are those which seem good yet are essentially fruits of a bad root and a bad tree. Augustine states this in the fourth book of ŤAgainstJulianő (Contra Julianum).

  1. The works of God (we speak of those which he does through man) are thus not merits, as though they were sinless.

In Eccles. 7:20, we read, ┬╗Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.┬ź In this connection, however, some people say that the righteous man indeed sins, but not when he does good. They may be refuted in the following manner: If that is what this verse wants to say, why waste so many words? Or does the Holy Spirit like to indulge in loquacious and foolish babble? For this meaning would then be adequately expressed by the following: ┬╗There is not a righteous man on earth who does not sin.┬ź Why does he add ┬╗who does good,┬ź as if another person were righteous who did evil? For no one except a righteous man does good. Where, however, he speaks of sins outside the realm of good works he speaks thus (Prov. 24:16), ┬╗The righteous man falls seven times a day.┬ź Here he does not say: A righteous man falls seven times a day when he does good. This is a comparison: If someone cuts with a rusty and rough hatchet, even though the worker is a good craftsman, the hatchet leaves bad, jagged, and ugly gashes. So it is when God works through us.

  1. The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God.

This is clear from [Thesis┬á 4 (#4). To trust in works, which one ought to do in fear, is equivalent to giving oneself the honor and taking it from God, to whom fear is due in connection with every work. But this is completely wrong, namely to please oneself, to enjoy oneself in one’s works, and to adore oneself as an idol. He who is self-confident and without fear of God, however, acts entirely in this manner. For if he had fear he would not be self-confident, and for this reason he would not be pleased with himself, but he would be pleased with God.

In the second place, it is clear from the words of the Psalmist (Ps. 143:2), ┬╗Enter not into judgment with thy servant┬ź, and Ps. 32:5, ┬╗I said: I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.┬ź etc. But that these are not venial sins is clear because these passages state that confession and repentance are not necessary for venial sins. If, therefore, they are mortal sins and ┬╗all the saints intercede for them┬ź, as it is stated in the same place, then the works of the saints are mortal sins. But the works of the saints are good works, wherefore they are meritorious for them only through the fear of their humble confession.

In the third place, it is clear from the Lord’s Prayer, ┬╗Forgive us our trespasses┬ź (Matt. 6:12). This is a prayer of the saints, therefore those trespasses are good works for which they pray. But that these are mortal sins is clear from the following verse, ┬╗If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses┬ź (Matt. 6:15). Note that these trespasses are such that, if unforgiven, they would condemn them, unless they pray this prayer sincerely and forgive others.

In the fourth place, it is clear from Rev. 21:27, ┬╗Nothing unclean shall enter into it┬ź (the kingdom of heaven). But everything that hinders entrance into the kingdom of heaven is mortal sin (or it would be necessary to interpret the concept of ┬╗mortalsin┬ź in another way). Venial sin, however, hinders because it makes the soul unclean and has no place in the kingdom of heaven. Consequently, etc.

  1. By so much more are the works of man mortal sins when they are done without fear and in unadulterated, evil self-security.

The inevitable deduction from the preceding thesis is clear. For where there is no fear there is no humility. Where there is no humility there is pride, and where there is pride there are the wrath and judgment of God, ┬╗for God opposes the haughty. Indeed, if pride would cease there would be no sin anywhere.

  1. To say that works without Christ are dead, but not mortal, appears to constitute a perilous surrender of the fear of God.

For in this way men become certain and therefore haughty, which is perilous. For in such a way God is constantly deprived of the glory which is due him and which is transferred to other things, since one should strive with all diligence to give him the glory-the sooner the better. For this reason the Bible advises us, ┬╗Do not delay being converted to the Lord.┬ź For if that person offends him who withdraws glory from him, how much more does that person offend him who continues to withdraw glory from him and does this boldly! But whoever is not in Christ or who withdraws from him withdraws glory from him, as is well known.

  1. Indeed, it is very difficult to see how a work can be dead and at the same time not a harmful and mortal sin.

This I prove in the following way: Scripture does not speak of dead things in such a manner, stating that something is not mortal which is nevertheless dead. Indeed, neither does grammar, which says that ┬╗dead┬ź is a stronger term than ┬╗mortal┬ź. For the grammarians call a mortal work one which kills, a ┬╗dead┬ź work not one that has been killed, but one that is not alive. But God despises what is not alive, as is written in Prov. 15:8, ┬╗The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.┬ź

Second, the will must do something with respect to such a dead work, namely, either love or hate it. The will cannot hate a dead work since the will is evil. Consequently the will loves a dead work, and therefore it loves something dead. In that act itself it thus induces an evil work of the will against God whom it should love and honor in this and in every deed.

  1. Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work.

This is clear from [Thesis  4 (#4). For it is impossible to trust in God unless one has despaired in all creatures and knows that nothing can profit one without God. Since there is no person who has this pure hope, as we said above, and since we still place some confidence in the creature, it is clear that we must, because of impurity in all things, fear the judgment of God. Thus arrogance must be avoided, not only in the work, but in the inclination also, that is, it must displease us still to have confidence in the creature.

  1. In the sight of God sins are then truly venial when they are feared by men to be mortal.

This becomes sufficiently clear from what has been said. For as much as we accuse ourselves, so much God pardons us, according to the verse, ┬╗Confess your misdeed so that you will be justified┬ź (cf. Isa. 43:26), and according to another (Ps. 141:4), ┬╗Incline not my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds┬ź.

  1. Free will, after the fall, exists in name only, and as long as it does what it is able to do, it commits a mortal sin.

The first part is clear, for the will is captive and subject to sin. Not that it is nothing, but that it is not free except to do evil. According to John 8:34,36, ┬╗Every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.┬ź┬╗So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.┬ź Hence St. Augustine says in his book ŤThe Spirit and the Letterő: ┬╗Free will without grace has the power to do nothing but sin┬ź; and in the second book of ŤAgainstJulianő, ┬╗You call the will free, but in fact it is an enslaved will,┬ź and in many other places.

The second part is clear from what has been said above and from the verse in Hos. 13:9, ┬╗Israel, you are bringing misfortune upon yourself, for your salvation is alone with me,┬ź and from similar passages.

  1. Free will, after the fall, has power to do good only in a passive capacity, but it can always do evil in an active capacity.

An illustration will make the meaning of this thesis clear. Just as a dead man can do something toward life only in his original capacity ( in vitam solum subiective), so can he do something toward death in an active manner while he lives. Free will, however, is dead, as demonstrated by the dead whom the Lord has raised up, as the holy teachers of the church say. St. Augustine, moreover, proves this same thesis in his various writings against the Pelagians.

  1. Nor could free will remain in a state of innocence, much less do good, in an active capacity, but only in its passive capacity ( subiectiva potentia).

The Master of the Sentences (Peter Lombard), quoting Augustine, states, ┬╗By these testimonies it is obviously demonstrated that man received a righteous nature and a good will when he was created, and also the help by means of which he could prevail. Otherwise it would appear as though he had not fallen because of his own fault.┬ź He speaks of the active capacity ( potentia activa), which is obviously contrary to Augustine’s opinion in his book ŤConcerning Reprimand and Graceő (De Correptione et Gratia), where the latter puts it in this way: ┬╗He received the ability to act, if he so willed, but he did not have the will by means of which he could act.┬ź By ┬╗ability to act┬ź he understands the original capacity ( potentia subiectiva), and by ┬╗will by means of which he could,┬ź the active capacity ( potentia activa).

The second part (of the thesis), however, is sufficiently clear from the same reference to the Master.

  1. The person who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him adds sin to sin so that he becomes doubly guilty.

On the basis of what has been said, the following is clear: While a person is doing what is in him, he sins and seeks himself in everything. But if he should suppose that through sin he would become worthy of or prepared for grace, he would add haughty arrogance to his sin and not believe that sin is sin and evil is evil, which is an exceedingly great sin. As Jer. 2:13 says, ┬╗For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water,┬ź that is, through sin they are far from me and yet they presume to do good by their own ability.

Now you ask: What then shall we do? Shall we go our way with indifference because we can do nothing but sin? I would reply: By no means. But, having heard this, fall down and pray for grace and place your hope in Christ in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection. For this reason we are so instructed-for this reason the law makes us aware of sin so that, having recognized our sin, we may seek and receive grace. Thus God ┬╗gives grace to the humble┬ź (1 Pet. 5:5), and ┬╗whoever humbles himself will be exalted┬ź (Matt. 23:12). The law humbles, grace exalts. The law effects fear and wrath, grace effects hope and mercy. Through the law comes knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20), through knowledge of sin, however, comes humility, and through humility grace is acquired. Thus an action which is alien to God’s nature ( opus alienum dei) results in a deed belonging to his very nature ( opus proprium): he makes a person a sinner so that he may make him righteous.

  1. Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of Christ.

This is clear from what has been said, for, according to the gospel, the kingdom of heaven is given to children and the humble (Mark 10:14,16), and Christ loves them. They cannot be humble who do not recognize that they are damnable whose sin smells to high heaven. Sin is recognized only through the law. It is apparent that not despair, but rather hope, is preached when we are told that we are sinners. Such preaching concerning sin is a preparation for grace, or it is rather the recognition of sin and faith in such preaching. Yearning for grace wells up when recognition of sin has arisen. A sick person seeks the physician when he recognizes the seriousness of his illness. Therefore one does not give cause for despair or death by telling a sick person about the danger of his illness, but, in effect, one urges him to seek a medical cure. To say that we are nothing and constantly sin when we do the best we can does not mean that we cause people to despair (unless we are fools); rather, we make them concerned about the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.

The law wills that man despair of his own ability, for it ┬╗leads him into hell┬ź and ┬╗makes him a poor man┬ź and shows him that he is a sinner in all his works, as the Apostle does in Rom. 2 and 3:9, where he says, ┬╗I have already charged that all men are under the power of sin.┬ź However, he who acts simply in accordance with his ability and believes that he is thereby doing something good does not seem worthless to himself, nor does he despair of his own strength. Indeed, he is so presumptuous that he strives for grace in reliance on his own strength.

  1. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the ┬╗invisible┬ź things of God as though they were clearly ┬╗perceptible in those things which have actually happened┬ź (Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25).

This is apparent in the example of those who were ┬╗theologians┬ź and still were called ┬╗fools┬ź by the Apostle in Rom. 1:22. Furthermore, the invisible things of God are virtue, godliness, wisdom, justice, goodness, and so forth. The recognition of all these things does not make one worthy or wise.

  1. He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.

The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness. The Apostle in 1 Cor. 1:25 calls them the weakness and folly of God. Because men misused the knowledge of God through works, God wished again to be recognized in suffering, and to condemn ┬╗wisdom concerning invisible things┬ź by means of ┬╗wisdom concerning visible things┬ź, so that those who did not honor God as manifested in his works should honor him as he is hidden in his suffering ( absconditum in passionibus). As the Apostle says in 1 Cor. 1:21, ┬╗For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.┬ź Now it is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross. Thus God destroys the wisdom of the wise, as Isa. 45:15 says, ┬╗Truly, thou art a God who hidest thyself.┬ź

So, also, in John 14:8, where Philip spoke according to the theology of glory: ┬╗Show us the Father.┬ź Christ forthwith set aside his flighty thought about seeing God elsewhere and led him to himself, saying, ┬╗Philip, he who has seen me has seen the Father┬ź (John 14:9). For this reason true theology and recognition of God are in the crucified Christ, as it is also stated in John 10 (John 14:6) ┬╗No one comes to the Father, but by me.┬ź┬╗I am the door┬ź (John 10:9), and so forth.

  1. A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.

This is clear: He who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers ,works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and, in general, good to evil. These are the people whom the apostle calls ┬╗enemies of the cross of Christ┬ź (Phil. 3:18), for they hate the cross and suffering and love works and the glory of works. Thus they call the good of the cross evil and the evil of a deed good. God can be found only in suffering and the cross, as has already been said Therefore the friends of the cross say that the cross is good and works are evil, for through the cross works are dethroned and the ┬╗oldAdam┬ź, who is especially edified by works, is crucified. It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his ┬╗goodworks┬ź unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God’s.

  1. That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

This has already been said. Because men do not know the cross and hate it, they necessarily love the opposite, namely, wisdom, glory, power, and so on. Therefore they become increasingly blinded and hardened by such love, for desire cannot be satisfied by the acquisition of those things which it desires. Just as the love of money grows in proportion to the increase of the money itself, so the dropsy of the soul becomes thirstier the more it drinks, as the poet says: ┬╗The more water they drink, the more they thirst for it.┬ź The same thought is expressed in Eccles. 1:8: ┬╗The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.┬ź This holds true of all desires.

Thus also the desire for knowledge is not satisfied by the acquisition of wisdom but is stimulated that much more. Likewise the desire for glory is not satisfied by the acquisition of glory, nor is the desire to rule satisfied by power and authority, nor is the desire for praise satisfied by praise, and so on, as Christ shows in John 4:13, where he says, ┬╗Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again.┬ź

The remedy for curing desire does not lie in satisfying it, but in extinguishing it. In other words, he who wishes to become wise does not seek wisdom by progressing toward it but becomes a fool by retrogressing into seeking ┬╗folly┬ź. Likewise he who wishes to have much power, honor, pleasure, satisfaction in all things must flee rather than seek power, honor, pleasure, and satisfaction in all things. This is the wisdom which is folly to the world.

  1. The ┬╗law brings the wrath┬ź of God (Rom. 4:15), kills, reviles, accuses, judges, and condemns everything that is not in Christ.

Thus Gal. 3:13 states, ┬╗Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law┬ź; and: ┬╗For all who rely on works of the law are under the curse┬ź (Gal. 3:10); and Rom. 4:15: ┬╗For the law brings wrath┬ź; and Rom. 7:10: ┬╗The very commandment which promised life proved to be the death of me┬ź; Rom. 2:12: ┬╗All who have sinned without the law will also perish without law.┬ź Therefore he who boasts that he is wise and learned in the law boasts in his confusion, his damnation, the wrath of God, in death. As Rom. 2:23 puts it: ┬╗You who boast in the law.┬ź

  1. Yet that wisdom is not of itself evil, nor is the law to be evaded; but without the theology of the cross man misuses the best in the worst manner.

Indeed ┬╗the law is holy┬ź (Rom. 7:12), ┬╗every gift of God good┬ź (1 Tim. 4:4), and ┬╗everything that is created exceedingly good┬ź, as in Gen. 1:31. But, as stated above, he who has not been brought low, reduced to nothing through the cross and suffering, takes credit for works and wisdom and does not give credit to God. He thus misuses and defiles the gifts of God.

He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, ┬╗You must be born anew.┬ź To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand.

  1. He is not righteous who does much, but he who, without work, believes much in Christ.

For the righteousness of God is not acquired by means of acts frequently repeated, as Aristotle taught, but it is imparted by faith, for ┬╗He who through faith is righteous shall live┬ź (Rom. 1:17), and ┬╗Man believes with his heart and so is justified┬ź (Rom. 10:10). Therefore I wish to have the words ┬╗withoutwork┬ź understood in the following manner: Not that the righteous person does nothing, but that his works do not make him righteous, rather that his righteousness creates works. For grace and faith are infused without our works. After they have been imparted the works follow. Thus Rom. 3:20 states, ┬╗No human being will be justified in His sight by works of the law,┬ź and, ┬╗For we hold that man is justified by faith apart from works of law┬ź (Rom. 3:28). In other words, works contribute nothing to justification.

Therefore man knows that works which he does by such faith are not his but God’s. For this reason he does not seek to become justified or glorified through them, but seeks God. His justification by faith in Christ is sufficient to him. Christ is his wisdom, righteousness, etc., as 1 Cor 1:30 has it, that he himself may be Christ’s vessel and instrument ( operatio seu instrumentum).

  1. The law says, ┬╗dothis┬ź, and it is never done. Grace says, ┬╗believe in this┬ź, and everything is already done.

The first part is clear from what has been stated by the Apostle and his interpreter, St. Augustine, in many places. And it has been stated often enough above that the ┬╗law┬ź┬╗workswrath┬ź and keeps all men under the curse. The second part is clear from the same sources, for faith justifies. And the law (says St. Augustine) commands what faith obtains. For through faith Christ is in us, indeed, one with us. Christ is just and has fulfilled all the commands of God, wherefore we also fulfill everything through him since he was made ours through faith.

  1. Actually one should call the work of Christ an acting work ( operans) and our work an accomplished work ( operatum), and thus an accomplished work pleasing to God by the grace of the acting work.

Since Christ lives in us through faith so he arouses us to do good works through that living faith in his work, for the works which he does are the fulfilment of the commands of God given us through faith. If we look at them we are moved to imitate them. For this reason the Apostle says, ┬╗Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children┬ź (Eph. 5:1). Thus deeds of mercy are aroused by the works through which he has saved us, as St. Gregory says: ┬╗Every act of Christ is instruction for us, indeed, a stimulant.┬ź If his action is in us it lives through faith, for it is exceedingly attractive according to the verse, ┬╗Draw me after you, let us make haste┬ź (Song of Sol. 1:4) toward the fragrance ┬╗of your anointing oils┬ź (Song of Sol. 1:3), that is, ┬╗yourworks.┬ź

  1. The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it.

The second part is clear and is accepted by all philosophers and theologians, for the object of love is its cause, assuming, according to Aristotle, that all power of the soul is passive and material and active only in receiving something. Thus it is also demonstrated that Aristotle’s philosophy is contrary to theology since in all things it seeks those things which are its own and receives rather than gives something good. The first part is clear because the love of God which lives in man loves sinners, evil persons, fools, and weaklings in order to make them righteous, good, wise, and strong. Rather than seeking its own good, the love of God flows forth and bestows good. Therefore sinners are ┬╗attractive┬ź because they are loved; they are not loved because they are ┬╗attractive┬ź: For this reason the love of man avoids sinners and evil persons. Thus Christ says: ┬╗For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners┬ź (Matt. 9:13). This is the love of the cross, born of the cross, which turns in the direction where it does not find good which it may enjoy, but where it may confer good upon the bad and needy person. ┬╗It is more blessed to give than to receive┬ź (Acts 20:35), says the Apostle. Hence Ps. 41:1 states, ┬╗Blessed is he who considers the poor,┬ź for the intellect cannot by nature comprehend an object which does not exist, that is the poor and needy person, but only a thing which does exist, that is the true and good. Therefore it judges according to appearances, is a respecter of persons, and judges according to that which can be seen, etc.

Saxon Visitation Articles (1592)

Editor’s Introduction to the 1592 Saxon Visitation Articles

This document was, after its publication, appended to every edition of the Book of Concord published in Saxony up until the forced union of Lutherans and Reformed under the Prussian Order of 1817. It is an illuminating text to help explain and illustrate the meaning and use of the Book of Concord over against Calvinism. Calvinism’s fundamental doctrinal understandings, on major points, differs significantly from Lutheranism. This document sets those major disagreements in stark and clear contrast.

This document was ordered prepared and distributed in order to crush Crypto-Calvinism, which under Chancellor Nikolaus Crell was again rearing its head in Electoral Saxony in the mid-1580s. These articles were used to conduct a general visitation of churches and schools. The visitation was ordered by the Elector at Torgau in 1592. These articles were drawn up 1593 by A. Hunnius, J. L÷ner, W. Mamphrasius, M. Mirus, G. Mylius, et al. Four articles treat the Lord’s Supper, the Person of Christ, Holy Baptism, and the Election of Grace, each in 4 to 6 terse, canon-like sentences in substantial agreement with the Formula of Concord. To these are added equally terse statements pointing out and rejecting the errors of the Calvinists on these points. These Articles had to be confessed by all preachers and teachers and for a long time had a confessional character, esp. in Saxony. (For further detail and a more modern English translation see: Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions , Appendix C, pgs. 654-658).

The Visitation Articles For the Electorate and Provinces of Upper Saxony, published A.D. 1592.

Article I : Of the Lord’s Supper: The pure and true Doctrine of our Churches on the Lord’s Supper.

1 That the words of Christ, ‘Take and eat, this is my Body;’ ‘Drink, this is my Blood,’ are to be understood in the simple and literal sense, as they sound.

2 That, in the Sacrament, there are two things which are exhibited and received together: one, earthly, which is bread and wine; the other, heavenly, which is the body and blood of Christ.

3 That these things [this union, exhibition, and sumption] take place here below on the earth, and not above in heaven

4 That the true and natural body of Christ which hung on the cross, and the true and natural blood, which flowed from the side of Christ, are exhibited and received.

5 That the body and blood of Christ are received in the Supper, not only spiritually, which might be done out of the Supper; but by the mouth, with the bread and wine; yet in an inscrutable and supernatural manner; and this for a pledge and ascertainment of the resurrection of our bodies from the dead.

6 That the body and blood of Christ are received orally, not only by the worthy, but also by the unworthy, who approach them without repentance and true faith; though with different effect. By the worthy, they are received for salvation; by the unworthy, for judgment.

Article II : Of the Person of Christ. The pure and true Doctrine of our Churches on the Article of the Person of Christ.

1 In Christ there are two distinct natures, the divine and the human. These remain eternally unmixed and inseparable (or undivided).

2 These two natures are personally so united that there is but one Christ and one person.

3 On account of this personal union it is rightly said, and in fact and truth it really is, that God is man, and man is God; that Mary begat the Son of God, and that God redeemed us by his own proper blood.

4 By this personal union, and the exaltation which followed it, Christ, according to the flesh, is placed at the right hand of God, and has received all power in heaven and in earth, and is made partaker of all the divine majesty, honor, power, and glory.

Article III : Of Holy Baptism.

The pure and true Doctrine of our Churches on this Article of Holy Baptism.

1 That there is but one Baptism, and one Ablution: not that which is used to take away the filth of the body, but that which washes us from our sins.

2 By Baptism, as a bath of the regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost, God saves us, and works in us such justice and purgation from our sins, that he who perseveres to the end in that covenant and hope does not perish, but has eternal life.

3 All who are baptized in Jesus Christ are baptized in his death; and by baptism are buried with him in his death, and have put on Christ.

4 Baptism is the bath of regeneration, because in it we are born again, and sealed by the Spirit of adoption through grace (or gratuitously).

5 Unless a person be born again of water and Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of heaven. This is not intended, however, for cases of necessity.

6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh; and, by nature, all of us are children of divine wrath: because we are born of sinful seed, and we are all born in sin.

Article IV . On Predestination and the Eternal Providence of God.

The pure and true Doctrine of our Churches on this Article.

1 That Christ died for all men, and, as the Lamb of God, took away the sins of the whole world.

2 That God created no man for condemnation; but wills that all men should be saved and arrive at the knowledge of truth. He therefore commands all to hear Christ, his Son, in the gospel; and promises, by his hearing, the virtue and operation of the Holy Ghost for conversion and salvation.

3 That many men, by their own fault, perish: some, who will not hear the gospel concerning Christ; some, who again fall from grace, either by fundamental error, or by sins against conscience.

4 That all sinners who repent will be received into favor; and none will be excluded, though his sins be red as blood; since the mercy of God is greater than the sins of the whole world, and God hath mercy on all his works.

The False and Erroneous Doctrine of the Calvinists On the Lord’s Supper.

1 That the words of Christ [“This is my body; this is my blood”] are to be understood figuratively, and not according to the letter, as they sound.

2 That bare signs only are in the Supper; but the body of Christ is as far from the bread as the highest heaven from the earth.

3 That Christ is present therein, by his virtue and operation only, and not in his body; as the sun, by his splendor and operation, is present and effective on earth; but the body of the sun exists above in heaven.

4 That the body of Christ is therein a typified body, which is only signified and prefigured by the bread and wine.

5 That the body is received by faith alone, which raises itself to heaven, and not by the mouth.

6 That the worthy only receive it; that the unworthy, who do have the faith which rises to the heavens, receive nothing besides bread and wine.

The False and Erroneous doctrine of the Calvinists On the Person of Christ Which differs, in particular, from the Third and Fourth Article of the more pure doctrine.

1 That God is man, and man God, is a figurative mode of speech.

2 That human nature hath communion with the divine, not in fact and truth, but in name and words only.

3 That it is impossible to God, by all his omnipotence, to effect that the natural body of Christ, which is in one place, should, at the same time and instant, be in several.

4 That, according to his human nature, Christ hath, by his exaltation, received only created good and finite power; and doth not know and can not do all things.

5 That, according to his humanity, Christ reigns, where he is absent, as the King of Spain governs his new islands.

6 That it is a damnable idolatry to place the hope and faith of the heart in Christ, not only according to his divine, but also according to his human nature, and to direct the honor of adoration to both.

The False and Erroneous doctrine of the Calvinists On Holy Baptism.

1 That Baptism is an external washing of water, by which a certain internal ablution from sin is merely signified.

2 That Baptism does not work nor confer regeneration, faith, the grace of God, and salvation, but only signifies and seals them.

3 That not all who are baptized in water, but the elect only, obtain by it the grace of Christ and the gifts of faith.

4 That regeneration doth not take place in and with Baptism, but afterwards, at a more advanced age-yea, with many not before old age.

5 That salvation doth not depend on Baptism, and therefore in cases of necessity should not be required in the Church; but when the ordinary minister of the Church is wanting, the infant should be permitted to die without Baptism.

6 The infants of Christians are already holy before Baptism in the womb of the mother, and even in the womb of the mother are received into the covenant of eternal life: otherwise the Sacrament of Baptism could not be conferred on them.

The False and Erroneous doctrine of the Calvinists On Predestination and the Providence of God.

1 That Christ did not die for all men, but only for the elect.

2 That God created the greater part of mankind for eternal damnation, and wills not that the greater part should be converted and live.

3 That the elected and regenerated can not lose faith and the Holy Spirit, or be damned, though they commit great sins and crimes of every kind.

4 That those who are not elect are necessarily damned, and can not arrive at salvation, though they be baptized a thousand times, and receive the Eucharist every day, and lead as blameless a life as ever can be led.