1] In the Thirteenth Article the adversaries approve our statement that the Sacraments are not only marks of profession among men, as some imagine, but that they are rather signs and testimonies of God's will toward us, through which God moves
2] hearts to believe [are not mere signs whereby men may recognize each other, as the watchword in war, livery, etc., but are efficacious signs and sure testimonies, etc.]. But here they bid us also count seven sacraments. We hold that it should be maintained that the matters and ceremonies instituted in the Scriptures, whatever the number, be not neglected. Neither do we believe it to be of any consequence, though, for the purpose of teaching, different people reckon differently, provided they still preserve aright the matters handed down in Scripture. Neither have the ancients reckoned in the same manner. [But concerning this number of seven sacraments, the fact is that the Fathers have not been uniform in their enumeration; thus also these seven ceremonies are not equally necessary.]
3] If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments. For rites instituted by men will not in this way be Sacraments properly so called. For it does not belong to human authority to promise grace. Therefore signs instituted without God's command are not sure signs of grace, even though they perhaps instruct the rude [children or the uncultivated], or admonish as to something [as a painted cross].
4] Therefore Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God's command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament. For when we are baptized, when we eat the Lord's body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us
5] for Christ's sake. And God, at the same time, by the Word and by the rite, moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, Rom. 10, 17: Faith cometh by hearing. But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart. The effect of the Word and of the rite is the same, as it has been well said by Augustine that a Sacrament is a visible word, because the rite is received by the eyes, and is, as it were, a picture of the Word, signifying the same thing as the Word. Therefore the effect of both is the same.
6] Confirmation and Extreme Unction are rites received from the Fathers which not even the Church requires as necessary to salvation, because they do not have God's command. Therefore it is not useless to distinguish these rites from the former, which have God's express command and a clear promise of grace.
7] The adversaries understand priesthood not of the ministry of the Word, and administering the Sacraments to others, but they understand it as referring to sacrifice; as though in the New Testament there ought to be a priesthood like the Levitical, to sacrifice for the people, and merit the remission of sins for others.
8] We teach that the sacrifice of Christ dying on the cross has been sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and that there is no need, besides, of other sacrifices, as though this were not sufficient for our sins. Men, accordingly, are justified not because of any other sacrifices, but because of this one sacrifice of Christ, if they believe that they have been redeemed by this sacrifice.
9] They are accordingly called priests, not in order to make any sacrifices for the people as in the Law, so that by these they may merit remission of sins for the people; but they are called to teach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments to the people.
10] Nor do we have another priesthood like the Levitical,
11] as the Epistle to the Hebrews sufficiently teaches. But if ordination be understood as applying to the ministry of the Word, we are not unwilling to call ordination a sacrament. For the ministry of the Word has God's command and glorious promises, Rom. 1, 16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Likewise, Is. 55, 11: So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please.
12] If ordination be understood in this way, neither will we refuse to call the imposition of hands a sacrament. For the Church has the command to appoint ministers, which should be most pleasing to us, because we know that God approves this ministry, and is present in the ministry [that God will preach and work through men and those who have been chosen by men].
13] And it is of advantage, so far as can be done, to adorn the ministry of the Word with every kind of praise against fanatical men, who dream that the Holy Ghost is given not through the Word, but because of certain preparations of their own, if they sit unoccupied and silent in obscure places, waiting for illumination, as the Enthusiasts formerly taught, and the Anabaptists now teach.
14] Matrimony was not first instituted in the New Testament, but in the beginning, immediately on the creation of the human race. It has, moreover, God's command; it has also promises, not indeed properly pertaining to the New Testament, but pertaining rather to the bodily life. Wherefore, if any one should wish to call it a sacrament, he ought still to distinguish it from those preceding ones [the two former ones], which are properly signs of the New Testament, and testimonies of grace and the remission of sins.
15] But if marriage will have the name of sacrament for the reason that it has God's command, other states or offices also, which have God's command, may be called sacraments, as, for example, the magistracy.
16] Lastly, if among the Sacraments all things ought to be numbered which have God's command, and to which promises have been added, why do we not add prayer, which most truly can be called a sacrament? For it has both God's command and very many promises; and if placed among the Sacraments, as though in a more eminent place, it would invite men to pray.
17] Alms could also be reckoned here, and likewise afflictions, which are, even themselves signs, to which God has added promises. But let us omit these things. For no prudent man will strive greatly concerning the number or the term, if only those objects still be retained which have God's command and promises.
18] It is still more needful to understand how the Sacraments are to be used. Here we condemn the whole crowd of scholastic doctors, who teach that the Sacraments confer grace ex opere operato, without a good disposition on the part of the one using them, provided he do not place a hindrance in the way. This is absolutely a Jewish opinion, to hold that we are justified by a ceremony, without a good disposition of the heart, i.e., without faith. And yet this impious and pernicious opinion
19] is taught with great authority throughout the entire realm of the Pope. Paul contradicts this, and denies, Rom. 4, 9, that Abraham was justified by circumcision, but asserts that circumcision was a sign presented for exercising faith. Thus we teach that in the use of the Sacraments faith ought to be added, which should believe these promises, and receive the promised things, there offered in the Sacrament.
20] And the reason is plain and thoroughly grounded. [This is a certain and true use of the holy Sacrament, on which Christian hearts and consciences may risk to rely.] The promise is useless unless it is received by faith. But the Sacraments are the signs [and seals] of the promises. Therefore, in the use of the Sacraments faith ought to be added, so that, if any one use the Lord's Supper, he use it thus. Because this is a Sacrament of the New Testament, as Christ clearly says, he ought for this very reason to be confident that what is promised in the New Testament, namely, the free remission of sins, is offered him. And let him receive this by faith, let him comfort his alarmed conscience, and know that these testimonies are not fallacious, but as sure as though [and still surer than if] God by a new miracle would declare from heaven that it was His will to grant forgiveness. But of what advantage would these miracles and promises be to an unbeliever?
21] And here we speak of special faith which believes the present promise, not only that which in general believes that God exists, but which believes that the remission of sins is offered.
22] This use of the Sacrament consoles godly and alarmed minds.
23] Moreover, no one can express in words what abuses in the Church this fanatical opinion concerning the opus operatum, without a good disposition on the part of the one using the Sacraments, has produced. Hence the infinite profanation of the Masses; but of this we shall speak below. Neither can a single letter be produced from the old writers which in this matter favors the scholastics. Yea, Augustine says the contrary, that the faith of the Sacrament, and not the Sacrament, justifies. And the declaration of Paul is well known, Rom. 10, 10: With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.
24] The Fourteenth Article, in which we say that in the Church the administration of the Sacraments and Word ought to be allowed no one unless he be rightly called, they receive, but with the proviso that we employ canonical ordination. Concerning this subject we have frequently testified in this assembly that it is our greatest wish to maintain church-polity and the grades in the Church [old church-regulations and the government of bishops], even though they have been made by human authority [provided the bishops allow our doctrine and receive our priests]. For we know that church discipline was instituted by the Fathers, in the manner laid down in the ancient canons, with a good and useful intention.
25] But the bishops either compel our priests to reject and condemn this kind of doctrine which we have confessed, or, by a new and unheard-of cruelty, they put to death the poor innocent men. These causes hinder our priests from acknowledging such bishops. Thus the cruelty of the bishops is the reason why the canonical government, which we greatly desired to maintain, is in some places dissolved. Let them see to it how they will give an account to God for dispersing
26] the Church. In this matter our consciences are not in danger, because since we know that our Confession is true, godly, and catholic, we ought not to approve the cruelty of those who persecute this doctrine.
27] And we know that the Church is among those who teach the Word of God aright, and administer the Sacraments aright, and not with those who not only by their edicts endeavor to efface God's Word, but also put to death those who teach what is right and true;
28] towards whom, even though they do something contrary to the canons, yet the very canons are milder. Furthermore, we wish here again to testify that we will gladly maintain ecclesiastical and canonical government, provided the bishops only cease to rage against our Churches. This our desire will clear us both before God and among all nations to all posterity from the imputation against us that the authority of the bishops is being undermined, when men read and hear that, although protesting against the unrighteous cruelty of the bishops, we could not obtain justice.
1] In the Fifteenth Article they receive the first part, in which we say that such ecclesiastical rites are to be observed as can be observed without sin, and are of profit in the Church for tranquillity and good order. They altogether condemn the second part, in which we say that human traditions instituted to appease God, to merit grace, and make satisfactions for sins are contrary to the Gospel.
2] Although in the Confession itself, when treating of the distinction of meats, we have spoken at sufficient length concerning traditions, yet certain things should be briefly recounted here.
3] Although we supposed that the adversaries would defend human traditions on other grounds, yet we did not think that this would come to pass, namely, that they would condemn this article: that we do not merit the remission of sins or grace by the observance of human traditions. Since, therefore, this article has been condemned,
4] we have an easy and plain case. The adversaries are now openly Judaizing, are openly suppressing the Gospel by the doctrines of demons. For Scripture calls traditions doctrines of demons, when it is taught that religious rites are serviceable to merit the remission of sins and grace. For they are then obscuring the Gospel, the benefit of Christ, and
5] the righteousness of faith. [For they are just as directly contrary to Christ and to the Gospel as are fire and water to one another.] The Gospel teaches that by faith we receive freely, for Christ's sake, the remission of sins and are reconciled to God. The adversaries, on the other hand, appoint another mediator, namely, these traditions. On account of these they wish to acquire remission of sins; on account of these they wish to appease God's wrath. But Christ clearly says, Matt. 15, 9: In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
6] We have above discussed at length that men are justified by faith when they believe that they have a reconciled God, not because of our works, but gratuitously, for Christ's sake. It is certain that this is the doctrine of the Gospel, because Paul clearly teaches, Eph. 2, 8. 9: By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God;
7] not of works. Now these men say that men merit the remission of sins by these human observances. What else is this than to appoint another justifier, a mediator other than Christ?
8] Paul says to the Galatians, 5, 4: Christ has become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law; i.e., if you hold that by the observance of the Law you merit to be accounted righteous before God, Christ will profit you nothing; for what need of Christ have those who hold that they are righteous by their own observance
9] of the Law? God has set forth Christ with the promise that on account of this Mediator, and not on account of our righteousness, He wishes to be propitious to us. But these men hold that God is reconciled and propitious because of the traditions, and not because of Christ. Therefore they take away from Christ the honor of Mediator.
10] Neither, so far as this matter is concerned, is there any difference between our traditions and the ceremonies of Moses. Paul condemns the ceremonies of Moses, just as he condemns traditions, for the reason that they were regarded as works which merit righteousness before God. Thus the office of Christ and the righteousness of faith were obscured. Therefore, the Law being removed, and traditions being removed, he contends that the remission of sins has been promised not because of our works, but freely, because of Christ, if only by faith we receive it. For the promise is not received
11] except by faith. Since, therefore, by faith we receive the remission of sins, since by faith we have a propitious God for Christ's sake, it is an error and impiety to declare that because of these observances we merit the remission of sins.
12] If any one should say here that we do not merit the remission of sins, but that those who have already been justified by these traditions merit grace, Paul again replies, Gal. 2, 17, that Christ would be the minister of sin if after justification we must hold that henceforth we are not accounted righteous for Christ's sake, but we ought first, by other observances, to merit that we be accounted righteous. Likewise Gal. 3, 15: Though it be but a man's covenant, no man addeth thereto. Therefore, neither to God's covenant, who promises that for Christ's sake He will be propitious to us, ought we to add that we must first through these observances attain such merit as to be regarded as accepted and righteous.
13] However, what need is there of a long discussion? No tradition was instituted by the holy Fathers with the design that it should merit the remission of sins, or righteousness, but they have been instituted for the sake, of good order in the Church and
14] for the sake, of tranquillity. And when any one wishes to institute certain works to merit the remission of sins, or righteousness, how will he know that these works please God since he has not the testimony of God's Word? How, without God's command and Word, will he render men certain of God's will? Does He not everywhere in the prophets prohibit men from instituting, without His commandment, peculiar rites of worship? In Ezek. 20, 18. 19 it is written: Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the Lord, your God. Walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them.
15] If men are allowed to institute religious rites, and through these rites merit grace, the religious rites of all the heathen will have to be approved, and the rites instituted by Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12, 26f , and by others, outside of the Law, will have to be approved. For what, difference does it make? If we have been allowed to institute religious rites that are profitable for meriting grace, or righteousness, why was the same not allowed the heathen and the Israelites?
16] But the religious rites of the heathen and the Israelites were rejected for the very reason that they held that by these they merited remission of sins and righteousness, and yet
17] did not know [the highest service of God] the righteousness of faith. Lastly, whence are we rendered certain that rites instituted by men without God's command justify, inasmuch as nothing can be affirmed of God's will without God's Word? What if God does not approve these services? How, therefore, do the adversaries affirm that they justify? Without God's Word and testimony this cannot be affirmed. And Paul says, Rom. 14, 23: Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. But as these services have no testimony of God's Word, conscience must doubt as to whether they please God.
18] And what need is there of words on a subject so manifest? If the adversaries defend these human services as meriting justification, grace, and the remission of sins, they simply establish the kingdom of Antichrist. For the kingdom of Antichrist is a new service of God, devised by human authority rejecting Christ, just as the kingdom of Mahomet has services and works through which it wishes to be justified before God; nor does it hold that men are gratuitously justified before God by faith, for Christ's sake. Thus the Papacy also will be a part of the kingdom of Antichrist if it thus defends human services as justifying. For the honor is taken away from Christ when they teach that we are not justified gratuitously by faith, for Christ's sake, but by such services; especially when they teach that such services are not only useful for justification, but are also necessary, as they hold above in Art. VII, where they condemn us for saying that unto true unity of the Church it is not necessary that rites instituted by men should everywhere be alike.
19] Daniel, 11, 38, indicates that new human services will be the very form and constitution of the kingdom of Antichrist. For he says thus: But in his estate shall he honor the god of forces; and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold and silver and precious stones. Here he describes new services, because he says that such a god shall be worshiped as
20] the fathers were ignorant of. For although the holy Fathers themselves had both rites and traditions, yet they did not hold that these matters are useful or necessary for justification; they did not obscure the glory and office of Christ, but taught that we are justified by faith for Christ's sake, and not for the sake of these human services. But they observed human rites for the sake of bodily advantage, that the people might know at what time they should assemble; that, for the sake of example all things in the churches might be done in order and becomingly; lastly, that the common people might receive a sort of training. For the distinctions of times and the variety of rites are of service in admonishing the common people.
21] The Fathers had these reasons for maintaining the rites, and for these reasons we also judge it to he right that traditions [good customs] be maintained. And we are greatly surprised that the adversaries [contrary to the entire Scriptures of the Apostles, contrary to the Old and New Testaments] contend for another design of traditions, namely, that they may merit the remission of sins, grace, or justification. What else is this than to honor God with gold and silver and precious stones [as Daniel says], i.e., to hold that God becomes reconciled by a variety in clothing, ornaments, and by similar rites [many kinds of church decorations, banners, tapers], as are infinite in human traditions?
22] Paul writes to the Colossians, 2, 23, that traditions have a show of wisdom. And they indeed have. For this good order is very becoming in the Church, and for this reason is necessary. But human reason, because it does not understand the righteousness of faith, naturally imagines that such works justify men because
23] they reconcile God, etc. Thus the common people among the Israelites thought, and by this opinion increased such ceremonies, just as among us they have grown in the monasteries [as in our time one altar after another and one church after another is founded].
24] Thus human reason judges also of bodily exercises, of fasts; although the end of these is to restrain the flesh, reason falsely adds that they are services which justify. As Thomas writes: Fasting avails for the extinguishing and the prevention of guilt. These are the words of Thomas. Thus the semblance of wisdom and righteousness in such works deceives men. And the examples of the saints are added [when they say: St. Francis wore a cap, etc.]; and when men desire to imitate these, they imitate, for the most part, the outward exercises; their faith they do not imitate.
25] After this semblance of wisdom and righteousness has deceived men, then infinite evils follow; the Gospel concerning, the righteousness of faith in Christ is obscured, and vain confidence in such works succeeds. Then the commandments of God are obscured; these works arrogate to themselves the title of a perfect and spiritual life, and are far preferred to the works of God's commandments [the true, holy, good works], as, the works of one's own calling, the administration of the state, the management of a family, married life, the bringing up of children.
26] Compared with those ceremonies, the latter are judged to be profane, so that they are exercised by many with some doubt of conscience. For it is known that many have abandoned the administration of the state and married life, in order to embrace these observances as better and holier [have gone into cloisters in order to become holy and spiritual].
27] Nor is this enough. When the persuasion has taken possession of minds that such observances are necessary to justification, consciences are in miserable anxiety because they cannot exactly fulfil all observances. For how many are there who could enumerate all these observances? There are immense books, yea, whole libraries, containing not a syllable concerning Christ, concerning faith in Christ, concerning the good works of one's own calling, but which only collect the traditions and interpretations by which they are sometimes rendered quite rigorous and
28] sometimes relaxed. [They write of such precepts as of fasting for forty days, the four canonical hours for prayer, etc.] How that most excellent man, Gerson, is tortured while be searches for the grades and extent of the precepts! Nevertheless, he is not able to fix ejpieivkeian [mitigation] in a definite grade [and yet cannot find any sure grade where he could confidently promise the heart assurance and peace]. Meanwhile, he deeply deplores the dangers to godly consciences which this rigid interpretation of the traditions produces.
29] Against this semblance of wisdom and righteousness in human rites, which deceives men, let us therefore fortify ourselves by the Word of God, and let us know, first of all, that these neither merit before God the remission of sins or justification, nor are necessary for justification.
30] We have above cited some testimonies. And Paul is full of them. To the Colossians, 2, 16. 17, he clearly says: Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath-days, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Here now he embraces at the same time both the Law of Moses and human traditions, in order that the adversaries may not elude these testimonies, according to their custom, upon the ground that Paul is speaking only of the Law of Moses. But he clearly testifies here that he is speaking of human traditions. However, the adversaries do not see what they are saying; if the Gospel says that the ceremonies of Moses, which were divinely instituted, do not justify, how much less do human traditions justify!
31] Neither have the bishops the power to institute services, as though they justified, or were necessary for justification. Yea, the apostles, Acts 15, 10, say: Why tempt ye God to put a yoke, etc., where Peter declares this purpose to burden the Church a great sin. And Paul forbids the Galatians, 5, 1,
32] to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Therefore, it is the will of the apostles that this liberty remain in the Church, that no services of the Law or of traditions be judged as necessary (just as in the Law ceremonies were for a time necessary), lest the righteousness of faith be obscured, if men judge that these services merit justification, or are necessary for justification.
33] Many seek in traditions various ejpieikeiva" [mitigations] in order to heal consciences; and yet they do not find any sure grades by which to free consciences from these chains.
34] But just as Alexander once for all solved the Gordian knot by cutting it with his sword when he could not disentangle it, so the apostles once for all free consciences from traditions, especially if they are taught to merit justification. The apostles compel us to oppose this doctrine by teaching and examples. They compel us to teach that traditions do not justify; that they are not necessary for justification; that no one ought
35] to frame or receive traditions with the opinion that they merit justification. Then, even though any one should observe them, let him observe them without superstition as civil customs, just as without superstition soldiers are clothed in one way
36] and scholars in another [as I regard my wearing of a German costume among the Germans and a French costume among the French as an observance of the usage of the land, and not for the purpose of being saved thereby]. The apostles violate traditions and are excused by Christ; for the example was to be shown the Pharisees that these
37] services are unprofitable. And if our people neglect some traditions that are of little advantage, they are now sufficiently excused, when these are required as though they merit justification. For such an opinion with regard to traditions is impious [an error not to be endured].
38] But we cheerfully maintain the old traditions [as, the three high festivals, the observance of Sunday, and the like] made in the Church for the sake of usefulness and tranquillity; and we interpret them in a more moderate way,
39] to the exclusion of the opinion which holds that they justify. And our enemies falsely accuse us of abolishing good ordinances and church-discipline. For we can truly declare that the public form of the churches is more becoming with us than with the adversaries (that the true worship of God is observed in our churches in a more Christian, honorable way]. And if any one will consider it aright, we conform to the canons more truly than do the adversaries. [For the adversaries, without shame, tread under foot the most honorable canons, just as they do Christ and the Gospel.]
40] With the adversaries, unwilling celebrants, and those hired for pay, and very frequently only for pay, celebrate the Masses. They sing psalms, not that they may learn or pray [for the greater part do not understand a verse in the psalms], but for the sake of the service, as though this work were a service, or, at least, for the sake of reward. [All this they cannot deny. Some who are upright among them are even ashamed of this traffic, and declare that the clergy is in need of reformation.] With us many use the Lord's Supper [willingly and without constraint] every Lord's Day, but after having been first instructed, examined [whether they know and understand anything of the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments], and absolved. The children sing psalms in order that they may learn [become familiar with passages of Scripture]; the people also sing [Latin and German psalms], in order that they may either learn or pray. With
41] the adversaries there is no catechization of the children whatever, concerning which even the canons give commands. With us the pastors and ministers of the churches are compelled publicly [and privately] to instruct and hear the youth; and this ceremony produces the best fruits. [And the Catechism is not a mere childish thing, as is the bearing of banners and tapers, but a very profitable instruction.]
42] Among the adversaries, in many regions [as in Italy and Spain], during the entire year no sermons are delivered, except in Lent. [Here they ought to cry out and justly make grievous complaint; for this means at one blow to overthrow completely all worship. For of all acts of worship that is the greatest, most holy, most necessary, and highest, which God has required as the highest in the First and the Second Commandment, namely, to preach the Word of God. For the ministry is the highest office in the Church. Now, if this worship is omitted, how can there be knowledge of God, the doctrine of Christ, or the Gospel?] But the chief service of God is to teach the Gospel. And when the adversaries do preach, they speak of human traditions, of the worship of saints [of consecrated water], and similar trifles, which the people justly loathe; therefore they are deserted immediately in the beginning, after the text of the Gospel has been recited. [This practise may have started because the people did not wish to hear the other lies.] A few better ones begin now to speak of good works; but of the righteousness of faith, of faith in Christ, of the consolation of consciences, they say nothing; yea, this most wholesome part of the Gospel they rail at with their reproaches. [This blessed doctrine, the precious holy Gospel, they call Lutheran.]
43] On the contrary, in our churches all the sermons are occupied with such topics as these: of repentance; of the fear of God; of faith in Christ, of the righteousness of faith, of the consolation of consciences by faith, of the exercises of faith; of prayer, what its nature should be, and that we should be fully confident that it is efficacious, that it is heard; of the cross; of the authority of magistrates and all civil ordinances [likewise, how each one in his station should live in a Christian manner, and, out of obedience to the command of the Lord God, should conduct himself in reference to every worldly ordinance and law]; of the distinction between the kingdom of Christ, or the spiritual kingdom, and political affairs; of marriage; of the education and instruction of children; of chastity; of all the offices of love.
44] From this condition of the churches it may be judged that we diligently maintain church discipline and godly ceremonies and good church-customs.
45] And of the mortification of the flesh and discipline of the body we thus teach, just as the Confession states, that a true and not a feigned mortification occurs through the cross and afflictions by which God exercises us (when God breaks our will, inflicts the cross and trouble]. In these we must obey God's will, as Paul says, Rom. 12, 1: Present your bodies a living sacrifice. And these are the spiritual exercises of fear and faith.
46] But in addition to this mortification which occurs through the cross [which does not depend upon our will] there is also a voluntary kind of exercise necessary, of which Christ says, Luke 21, 34: Take heed to yourselves lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting. And Paul, 1 Cor. 9, 27: I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, etc.
47] And these exercises are to be undertaken not because they are services that justify, but in order to curb the flesh, lest satiety may overpower us, and render us secure and indifferent, the result of which is that men indulge and obey the dispositions of the flesh. This diligence ought to be perpetual,
48] because it has the perpetual command of God. And this prescribed form of certain meats and times does nothing [as experience shows] towards curbing the flesh. For it is more luxurious and sumptuous than other feasts [for they were at greater expense, and practised greater gluttony with fish and various Lenten meats than when the fasts were not observed], and not even the adversaries observe the form given in the canons.
49] This topic concerning traditions contains many and difficult questions of controversy, and we have actually experienced that traditions are truly snares of consciences. When they are exacted as necessary, they torture in wonderful ways the conscience omitting any observance [as godly hearts, indeed, experience when in the canonical hours they have omitted a compline, or offended against them in a similar way]. Again their abrogation has its own evils and its own
50] questions. [On the other hand, to teach absolute freedom has also its doubts and questions, because the common people need outward discipline and instruction.] But we have an easy and plain case, because the adversaries condemn us for teaching that human traditions do not merit the remission of sins. Likewise they require universal traditions, as they call them, as necessary for justification [and place them in Christ's stead]. Here we have Paul as a constant champion, who everywhere contends that these observances neither justify nor are necessary in addition to the righteousness of faith.
51] And nevertheless we teach that in these matters the use of liberty is to be so controlled that the inexperienced may not be offended, and, on account of the abuse of liberty, may not become more hostile to the true doctrine of the Gospel, or that without a reasonable cause nothing in customary rites be changed, but that, in order to cherish harmony, such old customs be observed as can be observed without sin or without great inconvenience.
52] And in this very assembly we have shown sufficiently that for love's sake we do not refuse to observe adiaphora with others, even though they should have some disadvantage; but we have judged that such public harmony as could indeed be produced without offense to consciences ought to be preferred to all other advantages [all other less important matters]. But concerning this entire subject we shall speak after a while, when we shall treat of vows and ecclesiastical power.
53] The Sixteenth Article the adversaries receive without any exception, in which we have confessed that it is lawful for the Christian to bear civil office, sit in judgment, determine matters by the imperial laws, and other laws in present force, appoint just punishments, engage in just wars, act as a soldier, make legal contracts, hold property, take an oath, when magistrates require it, contract marriage; finally, that legitimate civil ordinances are good creatures of God and divine ordinances, which a Christian can use with safety.
54] This entire topic concerning the destruction between the kingdom of Christ and a political kingdom has been explained to advantage [to the remarkably great consolation of many consciences] in the literature of our writers, [namely] that the kingdom of Christ is spiritual [inasmuch as Christ governs by the Word and by preaching], to wit, beginning in the heart the knowledge of God, the fear of God and faith, eternal righteousness, and eternal life; meanwhile it permits us outwardly to use legitimate political ordinances of every nation in which we live, just as it permits us to use medicine or
55] the art of building, or food, drink, air. Neither does the Gospel bring new laws concerning the civil state, but commands that we obey present laws, whether they have been framed by heathen or by others, and that in this obedience we should exercise love. For Carlstadt was insane in imposing upon us the judicial laws of Moses.
56] Concerning these subjects, our theologians have written more fully, because the monks diffused many pernicious opinions in the Church. They called a community of property the polity of the Gospel; they said that not to hold property, not to vindicate one's self at law [not to have wife and child], were evangelical counsels. These opinions greatly obscure the Gospel and the spiritual kingdom [so that it was not understood at all what the Christian or spiritual kingdom of Christ is; they concocted the secular kingdom with the spiritual, whence much trouble and seditions, harmful teaching resulted], and are dangerous to the commonwealth.
57] For the Gospel does not destroy the State or the family [buying, selling, and other civil regulations], but much rather approves them, and bids us obey them as a divine ordinance, not only on account of punishment, but also on account of conscience.
58] Julian the Apostate, Celsus, and very many others made the objection to Christians that the Gospel would rend asunder states, because it prohibited legal redress, and taught certain other things not at all suited to political association. And these questions wonderfully exercised Origen, Nazianzen, and others, although, indeed, they can be most readily explained, if we keep in mind the fact that the Gospel does not introduce laws concerning the civil state, but is the remission of sins and the beginning of a new life in the hearts of believers; besides, it not only approves outward governments, but subjects us to them, Rom. 13, 1, just as we have been necessarily placed under the laws of seasons, the changes of winter and summer, as divine ordinances. [This is no obstacle to the spiritual kingdom.]
59] The Gospel forbids private redress [in order that no one should interfere with the office of the magistrate], and Christ inculcates this so frequently with the design that the apostles should not think that they ought to seize the governments from those who held otherwise, just as the Jews dreamed concerning the kingdom of the Messiah, but that they might know they ought to teach concerning the spiritual kingdom that it does not change the civil state. Therefore private redress is prohibited not by advice, but by a command, Matt. 5, 39; Rom. 12, 19. Public redress, which is made through the office of the magistrate, is not advised against, but is commanded, and is a work of God, according to Paul, Rom. 13, 1 sqq. Now the different kinds of public redress are legal decisions,
60] capital punishment, wars, military service. It is manifest how incorrectly many writers have judged concerning these matters [some teachers have taught such pernicious errors that nearly all princes, lords, knights, servants regarded their proper estate as secular, ungodly, and damnable, etc. Nor can it be fully expressed in words what an unspeakable peril and damage has resulted from this to souls and consciences], because they were in the error that the Gospel is an external, new, and monastic form of government, and did not see that the Gospel brings eternal righteousness to hearts [teaches how a person is redeemed, before God and in his conscience, from sin, hell, and the devil], while it outwardly approves the civil state.
61] It is also a most vain delusion that it is Christian perfection not to hold property. For Christian perfection consists not in the contempt of civil ordinances, but in dispositions of the heart, in great fear of God, in great faith, just as Abraham, David, Daniel, even in great wealth and while exercising civil power, were no less
62] perfect than any hermits. But the monks [especially the Barefoot monks] have spread this outward hypocrisy before the eyes of men, so that it could not be seen in what things true perfect ion exists. With what praises have they brought forward this communion of property, as though it were
63] evangelical! But these praises have the greatest danger, especially since they differ much from the Scriptures. For Scripture does not command that property be common, but the Law of the Decalog, when it says, Ex. 20, 15: Thou shalt not steal, distinguishes rights of ownership, and commands each one to hold what is his own. Wyclif manifestly was raging when he said that priests were not allowed to hold property.
64] There are infinite discussions concerning contracts, in reference to which good consciences can never be satisfied unless they know the rule that it is lawful for a Christian to make use of civil ordinances and laws. This rule protects consciences when it teaches that contracts are lawful before God just to the extent that the magistrates or laws approve them.
65] This entire topic concerning civil affairs has been so clearly set forth by our theologians that very many good men occupied in the state and in business have declared that they have been greatly benefited, who before, troubled by the opinion of the monks, were in doubt as to whether the Gospel allowed these civil offices and business. Accordingly, we have recounted these things in order that those without also may understand that by the kind of doctrine which we follow, the authority of magistrates and the dignity of all civil ordinances are not undermined, but are all the more strengthened [and that it is only this doctrine which gives true instruction as to how eminently glorious an office, full of good Christian works, the office of rulers is]. The importance of these matters was greatly obscured previously by those silly monastic opinions, which far preferred the hypocrisy of poverty and humility to the state and the family, although these have God's command, while this Platonic communion [monasticism] has not God's command.
66] The Seventeenth Article the adversaries receive without exception, in which we confess that at the consummation of the world Christ shall appear, and shall raise up all the dead, and shall give to the godly eternal life and, eternal joys, but shall condemn the ungodly to be punished with the devil without end.
67] The Eighteenth Article, Of Free Will, the adversaries receive, although they add some testimonies not at all adapted to this case. They add also a declamation that neither, with the Pelagians, is too much to be granted to the free will, nor, with the Manicheans, is all freedom to be denied it.
68] Very well; but what difference is there between the Pelagians and our adversaries, since both hold that without the Holy Ghost men can love God and perform God's commandments with respect to the substance of the acts, and can merit grace and justification by works which reason performs by itself, without the Holy Ghost?
69] How many absurdities follow from these Pelagian opinions, which are taught with great authority in the schools! These Augustine, following Paul, refutes with great emphasis, whose judgment we have recounted above in the article Of Justification. (see 119, 1 and 153, 106.)
70] Nor, indeed, do we deny liberty to the human will. The human will has liberty in the choice of works and things which reason comprehends by itself. It can to a certain extent render civil righteousness or the righteousness of works; it can speak of God, offer to God a certain service by an outward work, obey magistrates, parents; in the choice of an outward work it can restrain the bands from murder, from adultery, from theft. Since there is left in human nature reason and judgment concerning objects subjected to the senses, choice between these things, the liberty and power to render civil righteousness, are also left. For Scripture calls this the righteousness of the flesh which the carnal nature, i.e., reason, renders by itself,
71] without the Holy Ghost. Although the power of concupiscence is such that men more frequently obey evil dispositions than sound judgment. And the devil, who is efficacious in the godless, as Paul says, Eph. 2, 2, does not cease to incite this feeble nature to various offenses. These are the reasons why even civil righteousness is rare among men, as we see that not even the philosophers themselves, who seem
72] to have aspired after this righteousness, attained it. But it is false to say that he who performs the works of the commandments without grace does not sin. And they add further that such, works also merit de congruo the remission of sins and justification. For human hearts without the Holy Ghost are without the fear of God; without trust toward God, they do not believe that they are heard, forgiven, helped, and preserved by God. Therefore they are godless. For neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit, Matt. 7, 18. And without faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. 11, 6.
73] Therefore, although we concede to free will the liberty and power to perform the outward works of the Law, yet we do not ascribe to free will these spiritual matters, namely, truly to fear God, truly to believe God, truly to be confident and hold that God regards us, hears us, forgives us, etc. These are the true works of the First Table, which the heart cannot render without the Holy Ghost, as Paul says, 1 Cor. 2, 14: The natural man, i.e., man using only natural strength, receiveth not the things
74] of the Spirit of God. (That is, a person who is not enlightened by the Spirit of God does not, by his natural reason, receive any thing of God's will and divine matters.] And this can be decided if men consider what their hearts believe concerning God's will, whether they are truly confident that they are regarded and heard by God. Even for saints to retain this faith [and, as Peter says (1 Pet. 1, 8), to risk and commit himself entirely to God, whom he does not see, to love Christ, and esteem Him highly, whom he does not see] is difficult, so far is it from existing in the godless. But it is conceived, as we have said above, when terrified hearts hear the Gospel and receive consolation [when we are born anew of the Holy Ghost].
75] Therefore such a distribution is of advantage in which civil righteousness is ascribed to the free will and spiritual righteousness to the governing of the Holy Ghost in the regenerate. For thus the outward discipline is retained, because all men ought to know equally, both that God requires this civil righteousness [God will not tolerate indecent wild, reckless conduct], and that, in a measure, we can afford it. And yet a distinction is shown between human and spiritual righteousness, between philosophical doctrine and the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, and it can be understood for what there is need of the Holy Ghost.
76] Nor has this distribution been invented by us, but Scripture most clearly teaches it. Augustine also treats of it, and recently it has been well treated of by William of Paris, but it has been wickedly suppressed by those who have dreamt that men can obey God's Law without the Holy Ghost, but that the Holy Ghost is given in order that, in addition, it may be considered meritorious.
77] The Nineteenth Article the adversaries receive, in which we confess that, although God only and alone has framed all nature, and preserves all things which exist, yet (He is not the cause of sin, but] the cause of sin is the will in the devil and men turning itself away from God, according to the saying of Christ concerning the devil, John 8, 44: When he speaketh a he, he speaketh of his own.
78] In the Twentieth Article they distinctly lay down these words, namely, that they reject and condemn our statement that men do not merit the remission of sins by good works. [Mark this well!] They clearly declare that they reject and condemn this article. What is to be said on a subject so manifest?
79] Here the framers of the Confutation openly show by what spirit they are led. For what in the Church is more certain than that the remission of sins occurs freely for Christ's sake, that Christ, and not our works, is the propitiation for sins, as Peter says, Acts 10, 43: To Him give all the prophets witness that through His name, whosoever believeth on Him, shall receive remission of sins? [This strong testimony of all the holy prophets may duly be called a decree of the catholic Christian Church. For even a single prophet is very highly esteemed by God and a treasure worth the whole world.] To this Church of the prophets we would rather assent than to these abandoned writers of the Confutation, who so impudently blaspheme Christ.
80] For although there were writers who held that after the remission of sins men are just before God, not by faith, but by works themselves, yet they did not hold this, namely, that the remission of sins itself occurs on account of our works, and not freely for Christ's sake.
81] Therefore the blasphemy of ascribing Christ's honor to our works is not to be endured. These theologians are now entirely without shame if they dare to bring such an opinion into the Church. Nor do we doubt that His Most Excellent Imperial Majesty and very many of the princes would not have allowed this passage to remain in the Confutation if they had been admonished of it.
82] Here we could cite infinite testimonies from Scripture and from the Fathers [that this article is certainly divine and true, and this is the sacred and divine truth. For there is hardly a syllable, hardly a leaf in the Bible, in the principal books of the Holy Scriptures, where this is not clearly stated.] But also above we have said enough on this subject. And there is no need of more testimonies for one who knows why Christ has been given to us, who knows that Christ is the propitiation for our sins. [Godfearing, pious hearts that know well why Christ has been given, who for all the possessions and kingdoms of the world would not be without Christ as our only Treasure, our only Mediator and Redeemer, must here be shocked and terrified that God's holy Word and Truth should be so openly despised and condemned by poor men.] Isaiah says, 53, 6: The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquities of us all. The adversaries, on the other hand, (accuse Isaiah and the entire Bible of lying and] teach that God lays our iniquities not on Christ, but on our [beggarly] works. Neither are we disposed to mention here the sort of works [rosaries, pilgrimages, and the like] which they teach.
83] We see that a horrible decree has been prepared against us, which would terrify us still more if we were contending concerning doubtful or trifling subjects. Now, since our consciences understand that by the adversaries the manifest truth is condemned, whose defense is necessary for the Church and increases the glory of Christ, we easily despise the terrors of the world, and with a strong spirit will bear whatever is to be suffered for the glory of Christ and the advantage of the Church.
84] Who would not rejoice to die in the confession of such articles as that we obtain the remission of sins by faith freely for Christ's sake, that we do not merit the remission of sins by our works?
85] [Experience shows--and the monks themselves must admit it--that] The consciences of the pious will have no sufficiently sure consolation against the terrors of sin and of death, and against the devil soliciting to despair [and who in a moment blows away all our works like dust], if they do not know that they ought to be confident that they have the remission of sins freely for Christ's sake. This faith sustains and quickens hearts in that most violent conflict with despair [in the great agony of death, in the great anguish, when no creature can help, yea, when we must depart from this entire visible creation into another state and world, and must die].
86] Therefore the cause is one which is worthy that for its sake we should refuse no danger. Whosoever you are that has assented to our Confession, "do not yield to the wicked, but, on the contrary, go forward the more boldly," when the adversaries endeavor, by means of terrors and tortures and punishments, to drive away from you that consolation which has been tendered to the entire Church in this article of ours [but with all cheerfulness rely confidently and gladly on God and the Lord Jesus, and joyfully confess this manifest truth in opposition to the tyranny, wrath, threatening, and terrors of all the world, yea, in opposition to the daily murders and persecution, of tyrants. For who would suffer to have taken from him this great, yea, everlasting consolation on which the entire salvation of the whole Christian Church depends? Any, one who picks up the Bible and reads it, earnestly will soon observe that this doctrine has its foundation everywhere in the Bible].
87] Testimonies of Scripture will not be wanting to one seeking them, which will establish his mind. For Paul at the top of his voice, as the saying is, cries out, Rom. 3, 24f., and 4, 16, that sins are freely remitted for Christ's sake. It is of faith, he says, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure. That is, if the promise would depend upon our works, it would not be sure. If remission of sins would be given on account of our works, when would we know that we had obtained it, when would a terrified conscience find a work which it would consider sufficient to appease God's wrath?
88] But we spoke of the entire matter above. Thence let the reader derive testimonies. For the unworthy treatment of the subject has forced from us the present, not discussion, but complaint that on this topic they have distinctly recorded themselves as disapproving of this article of ours, that we obtain remission of sins not on account of our works, but by faith and freely on account of Christ.
89] The adversaries also add testimonies to their own condemnation, and it is worth while to recite several of them. They quote from 2 Pet. 1, 10: Give diligence to make your calling sure, etc. Now you see, reader, that our adversaries have not wasted labor in learning logic, but have the art of inferring from the Scriptures whatever pleases them [whether it is in harmony with the Scriptures or out of harmony; whether it is correctly or incorrectly concluded. For they conclude thus:] "Make your calling sure by good works." Therefore works merit the remission of sins. A very agreeable mode of reasoning, if one would argue thus concerning a person sentenced to capital punishment, whose punishment has been remitted: "The magistrate commands that hereafter you abstain from that which belongs to another. Therefore you have merited the remission of the penalty, because you are now abstaining from what belongs to another."
90] Thus to argue is to make a cause out of that which is not a cause. For Peter speaks of works following the remission of sins, and teaches why they should be done, namely, that the calling may be sure, i.e., lest they may fall from their calling if they sin again. Do good works that you may persevere in your calling, that you [do not fall away again, grow cold and] may not lose the gifts of your calling, which were given you before, and not on account of works that follow, and which now are retained by faith; for faith does not remain in those who lose the Holy Ghost, who reject repentance, just as we have said above (253, 1) that faith exists in repentance.
91] They add other testimonies cohering no better. Lastly they say that this opinion was condemned a thousand years before, in the time of Augustine. This also is quite false. For the Church of Christ always held that the remission of sins is obtained freely. Yea, the Pelagians were condemned, who contended that grace is given on account of our works.
92] Besides, we have above shown sufficiently that we hold that good works ought necessarily to follow faith. For we do not make void the Law, says Paul, Rom. 3, 31; yea, we establish the Law, because when by faith we have received the Holy Ghost, the fulfilling of the Law necessarily follows, by which love, patience, chastity, and other fruits of the Spirit gradually grow.
1] The Twenty-first Article they absolutely condemn, because we do not require the invocation of saints. Nor on any topic do they speak more eloquently and with more prolixity. Nevertheless they do not effect anything else than that the saints should be honored; likewise, that the saints who live pray for others; as though, indeed, the invocation of dead saints were on that account necessary.
2] They cite Cyprian, because he asked Cornelius while yet alive to pray for his brothers when departing. By this example they prove the invocation of the dead. They quote also Jerome against Vigilantius. "On this field" [in this matter], they say, "eleven hundred years ago, Jerome overcame Vigilantius." Thus the adversaries triumph, as though the war were already ended. Nor do those asses see that in Jerome, against Vigilantius, there is not a syllable concerning invocation. He speaks concerning honors for the saints, not concerning invocation.
3] Neither have the rest of the ancient writers before Gregory made mention of invocation. Certainly this invocation, with these opinions which the adversaries now teach concerning the application of merits, has not the testimonies of the ancient writers.
4] Our Confession approves honors to the saints. For here a threefold honor is to be approved. The first is thanksgiving. For we ought to give thanks to God because He has shown examples of mercy; because He has shown that He wishes to save men; because He has given teachers or other gifts to the Church. And these gifts, as they are the greatest, should be amplified, and the saints themselves should be praised, who have faithfully used these gifts, just as Christ praises faithful businessmen,
5] Matt. 25, 21. 23. The second service is the strengthening of our faith; when we see the denial forgiven Peter, we also are encouraged to believe the more that grace
6] truly superabounds over sin, Rom. 5, 20. The third honor is the imitation, first, of faith, then of the other virtues, which every one should imitate according to his calling.
7] These true honors the adversaries do not require. They dispute only concerning invocation, which, even though it would have no danger, nevertheless is not necessary.
8] Besides, we also grant that the angels pray for us. For there is a testimony in Zech. 1, 12, where an angel prays: O Lord of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on
9]Jerusalem? Although concerning the saints we concede that, just as, when alive, they pray for the Church universal in general, so in heaven they pray for the Church in general, albeit no testimony concerning the praying of the dead is extant in the Scriptures, except the dream taken from the Second Book of Maccabees, 15, 14.
Moreover, even supposing that the saints pray for the Church ever so much,
10] yet it does not follow that they are to be invoked; although our Confession affirms only this, that Scripture does not teach the invocation of the saints, or that we are to ask the saints for aid. But since neither a command, nor a promise, nor an example can be produced from the Scriptures concerning the invocation of saints, it follows that conscience can have nothing concerning this invocation that is certain. And since prayer ought to be made from faith, how do we know that God approves this invocation? Whence do we know without the testimony of Scripture that the saints perceive the prayers of each one?
11] Some plainly ascribe divinity to the saints, namely, that they discern the silent thoughts of the minds in us. They dispute concerning morning and evening knowledge, perhaps because they doubt whether they hear us in the morning or the evening. They invent these things, not in order to treat the saints with honor, but to defend lucrative services.
12] Nothing can be produced by the adversaries against this reasoning, that, since invocation does not have a testimony from God's Word, it cannot be affirmed that the saints understand our invocation, or, even if they understand it, that God approves it. Therefore
13] the adversaries ought not to force us to an uncertain matter, because a prayer without faith is not prayer. For when they cite the example of the Church, it is evident that this is a new custom in the Church; for although the old prayers make mention of the saints, yet they do not invoke the saints. Although also this new invocation in the Church is dissimilar to the invocation of individuals.
14] Again, the adversaries not only require invocation in the worship of the saints, but also apply the merits of the saints to others, and make of the saints not only intercessors, but also propitiators. This is in no way to be endured. For here the honor belonging only to Christ is altogether transferred to the saints. For they make them mediators and propitiators, and although they make a distinction between mediators of intercession and mediators [the Mediator] of redemption, yet they plainly make of the saints mediators of redemption.
15] But even that they are mediators of intercession they declare without the testimony of Scripture, which, be it said ever so reverently, nevertheless obscures Christ's office, and transfers the confidence of mercy due Christ to the saints. For men imagine that Christ is more severe and the saints more easily appeased, and they trust rather to the mercy of the saints than to the mercy of Christ, and fleeing from Christ [as from a tyrant], they seek the saints. Thus they actually make of them mediators of redemption.
16] Therefore we shall show that they truly make of the saints, not only intercessors, but propitiators, i.e., mediators of redemption. Here we do not as yet recite the abuses of the common people [how manifest idolatry is practised at pilgrimages]. We are still speaking of the opinions of the Doctors. As regards the rest, even the inexperienced [common people] can judge.
17] In a propitiator these two things concur. In the first place, there ought to be a word of God from which we may certainly know that God wishes to pity, and hearken to, those calling upon Him through this propitiator. There is such a promise concerning Christ, John 16, 23: Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Concerning the saints there is no such promise. Therefore consciences cannot be firmly confident that by the invocation of saints we are heard. This invocation, therefore,
18] is not made from faith. Then we have also the command to call upon Christ, according to Matt. 11, 28: Come unto Me, all ye that labor, etc., which certainly is said also to us. And Isaiah says, 11, 10: In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign to the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek. And Ps. 45, 12: Even the rich among the people shall entreat Thy favor. And Ps. 72, 11. 15: Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him. And shortly after: Prayer also shall be made for Him continually. And in John 5, 23 Christ says: That all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father. And Paul, 2 Thess. 2, 16. 17, says, praying: Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, ... comfort your hearts and stablish you. (All these passages refer to Christ.] But concerning the invocation of saints, what commandment, what example can the adversaries produce from the Scriptures?
19] The second matter in a propitiator is, that his merits have been presented as those which make satisfaction for others, which are bestowed by divine imputation on others, in order that through these, just as by their own merits, they may be accounted righteous. As when any friend pays a debt for a friend, the debtor is freed by the merit of another, as though it were by his own. Thus the merits of Christ are bestowed upon us, in order that, when we believe in Him, we may be accounted righteous by our confidence in Christ's merits as though we had merits of our own.
20] And from both, namely, from the promise and the bestowment of merits, confidence in mercy arises [upon both parts must a Christian prayer be founded]. Such confidence in the divine promise, and likewise in the merits of Christ, ought to be brought forward when we pray. For we ought to be truly confident, both that for Christ's sake we are heard, and that by His merits we have a reconciled Father.
21] Here the adversaries first bid us invoke the saints, although they have neither God's promise, nor a command, nor an example from Scripture. And yet they cause greater confidence in the mercy of the saints to be conceived than in that of Christ, although Christ bade us come to Him
22] and not to the saints. Secondly, they apply the merits of the saints, just as the merits of Christ, to others; they bid us trust in the merits of the saints as though we were accounted righteous on account of the merits of the saints, in like manner as we are accounted righteous by the merits of Christ. Here we fabricate nothing.
23] In indulgences they say that they apply the merits of the saints [as satisfactions for our sins]. And Gabriel, the interpreter of the canon of the Mass, confidently declares: According to the order instituted by God, we should betake ourselves to the aid of the saints, in order that we may be saved by their merits and vows. These are the words of Gabriel. And nevertheless, in the books and sermons of the adversaries still more absurd things are read here and there. What is it to make propitiators if this is not? They are altogether made equal to Christ if we must trust that we are saved by their merits.
24] But where has this arrangement, to which he refers when he says that we ought to resort to the aid of the saints, been instituted by God? Let him produce an example or command from the Scriptures. Perhaps they derive this arrangement from the courts of kings, where friends must be employed as intercessors. But if a king has appointed a certain intercessor, he will not desire that cases be brought to him through others. Thus, since Christ has been appointed Intercessor and High Priest, why do we seek others? [What can the adversaries say in reply to this?]
25] Here and there this form of absolution is used: The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the most blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints, be to thee for the remission of sins. Here the absolution is pronounced on the supposition that we are reconciled and accounted righteous not only by the merits of Christ, but also by the merits of the other saints.
26] Some of us have seen a doctor of theology dying, for consoling whom a certain theologian, a monk, was employed. He pressed on the dying man nothing but this prayer: Mother of grace, protect us from the enemy; receive us in the hour of death.
27] Granting that the blessed Mary prays for the Church, does she receive souls in death, does she conquer death [the great power of Satan], does she quicken? What does Christ do if the blessed Mary does these things? Although she is most worthy of the most ample honors, nevertheless she does not wish to be made equal to Christ, but rather wishes us to consider and follow her example [the example of her faith and her humility].
28] But the subject itself declares that in public opinion the blessed Virgin has succeeded altogether to the place of Christ. Men have invoked her, have trusted in her mercy through her have desired to appease Christ, as though He were not a Propitiator, but, only a dreadful judge and avenger.
29] We believe, however, that we must not trust that the merits of the saints are applied to us, that on account of these God is reconcile d to us, or accounts us just, or saves us. For we obtain remission of sins only by the merits of Christ, when we believe in Him. Of the other saints it has been said, 1 Cor. 3, 8: Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor, i.e., they cannot mutually bestow their own merits, the one upon the other, as the monks sell the merits of their orders.
30] Even Hilary says of the foolish virgins: And as the foolish virgins could not go forth with their lamps extinguished, they besought those who were prudent to lend them oil; to whom they replied that they could not give it because peradventure there might not be enough for all; i.e., no one can be aided by the works and merits of another, because it is necessary for every one to buy oil for his own lamp. [Here he points out that none of us can aid another by other people's works or merits.]
31] Since, therefore, the adversaries teach us to place confidence in the invocation of saints, although they have neither the Word of God nor the example of Scripture [of the Old or of the New Testament]; since they apply the merits of the saints on behalf of others not otherwise than they apply the merits of Christ, and transfer the honor belonging only to Christ to the saints, we can receive neither their opinions concerning the worship of the saints, nor the practise of invocation. For we know that confidence is to be placed in the intercession of Christ, because this alone has God's promise. We know that the merits of Christ alone are a propitiation for us. On account of the merits of Christ we are accounted righteous when we believe in Him, as the text says, Rom. 9, 33 (cf. 1 Pet. 2, 6 and Is. 28, 16): Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be confounded. Neither are we to trust that we are accounted righteous by the merits of the blessed Virgin or of the other saints.
32] With the learned this error also prevails, namely, that to each saint a particular administration has been committed, that Anna bestows riches [protects from poverty], Sebastian keeps off pestilence, Valentine heals epilepsy, George protects horsemen. These opinions have clearly sprung from heathen examples. For thus, among the Romans, Juno was thought to enrich, Febris to keep off fever, Castor and Pollux to protect horsemen, etc.
33] Even though we should imagine that the invocation of saints were taught with the greatest prudence, yet since the example is most dangerous, why is it necessary to defend it when it has no command or testimony from God's Word? Aye, it has not even the testimony of the ancient writers.
34] First because, as I have said above, when other mediators are sought in addition to Christ, and confidence is put in others, the entire knowledge of Christ is suppressed. The subject shows this. In the beginning, mention of the saints seems to have been admitted with a design that is endurable, as in the ancient prayers. Afterwards invocation followed, and abuses that are prodigious and more than heathenish followed invocation. From invocation the next step was to images; these also were worshiped, and a virtue was supposed to exist in these, just as magicians imagine that a virtue exists in images of the heavenly bodies carved at a particular time. In a certain monastery we [some of us] have seen a statue of the blessed Virgin, which moved automatically by a trick [within by a string], so as to seem either to turn away from [those who did not make a large offering] or nod to those making request.
35] Still the fabulous stories concerning the saints, which are publicly taught with great authority, surpass the marvelous tales of the statues and pictures. Barbara, amidst her torments, asks for the reward that no one who would invoke her should die without the Eucharist. Another, standing on one foot, recited daily the whole psaltery. Some wise man painted [for children] Christophorus [which in German means Bearer of Christ], in order by the allegory to signify that there ought to be great strength of mind in those who would bear Christ, i.e., who would teach or confess the Gospel, because it is necessary to undergo the greatest dangers [for they must wade by night through the great sea, i.e., endure all kinds of temptations and dangers]. Then the foolish monks taught among the people that they ought to invoke Christophorus, as though such a Polyphemus (such a giant who bore Christ through the sea] had once existed. And although
36] the saints performed very great deeds, either useful to the state or affording private examples, the remembrance of which would conduce much both toward strengthening faith and toward following their example in the administration of affairs, no one has searched for these from true narratives. [Although God Almighty through His saints, as a peculiar people, has wrought many great things in both realms, in the Church and in worldly transactions; although there are many great examples in the lives of the saints which would be very profitable to princes and lords, to true pastors and guardians of souls, for the government both of the world and of the Church, especially for strengthening faith in God, yet they have passed these by, and preached the most insignificant matters concerning the saints, concerning their hard beds, their hair shirts, etc., which, for the greater part, are falsehoods.] Yet indeed it is of advantage to hear how holy men administered governments [as in the Holy Scriptures it is narrated of the kings of Israel and Judah], what calamities, what dangers they underwent, how holy men were of aid to kings in great dangers, how they taught the Gospel, what encounters they had with heretics. Examples of mercy are also of service, as when we see the denial forgiven Peter, when we see Cyprian forgiven for having been a magician, when we see Augustine, having experienced the power of faith in sickness, steadily affirming that God truly hears the prayers of believers. It was profitable that such examples as these, which contain admonitions for either faith or fear or the administration of the state, be recited.
37] But certain triflers, endowed with no knowledge either of faith or for governing states, have invented stories in imitation of poems, in which there are nothing but superstitious examples concerning certain prayers, certain fastings, and certain additions of service for bringing in gain [where there are nothing but examples as to how the saints wore hair shirts, how they prayed at the seven canonical hours, how they lived upon bread and water]. Such are the miracles that have been invented concerning rosaries and similar ceremonies. Nor is there need here to recite examples. For the legends, as they call them, and the mirrors of examples, and the rosaries, in which there are very many things not unlike the true narratives of Lucian, are extant.
38] The bishops, theologians, and monks applaud these monstrous and wicked stories [this abomination set up against Christ, this blasphemy, these scandalous, shameless lies, these lying preachers; and they have permitted them so long, to the great injury of consciences, that it is terrible to think of it] because they aid them to their daily bread. They do not tolerate us, who, in order that the honor and office of Christ may be more conspicuous, do not require the invocation of saints, and censure the abuses in the worship, of saints.
39] And although [even their own theologians], all good men everywhere [a long time before Dr. Luther began to write] in the correction of these abuses, greatly longed for either the authority of the bishops or the diligence of the preachers, nevertheless our adversaries in the Confutation altogether pass, over vices that are even manifest, as though they wish, by the reception of the Confutation, to compel us to approve even the most notorious abuses.
40] Thus the Confutation has been deceitfully written, not only on this topic, but almost everywhere. [They pretend that they are as pure as gold, that they have never muddled the water.] There is no passage in which they make a distinction between the manifest abuses and their dogmas. And nevertheless, if there are any of sounder mind among them, they confess that many false opinions inhere in the doctrine of the scholastics and canonists, and, besides, that in such ignorance and negligence of the pastors many abuses crept into the Church.
41] For Luther was not (the only one nor] the first to complain of [innumerable] public abuses. Many learned and excellent men long before these times deplored the abuses of the Mass, confidence in monastic, observances, services to the saints intended to yield a revenue, the confusion of the doctrine concerning repentance [concerning Christ], which ought to be as clear and plain in the Church as possible [without which there cannot be nor remain a Christian Church]. We ourselves have heard that excellent theologians desire moderation in the scholastic doctrine, which contains much more for philosophical quarrels than for piety. And nevertheless, among these the older ones are generally nearer Scripture than are the more recent. Thus their theology degenerated more and more. Neither had many good men, who from the very first began to be friendly to Luther, any other reason than that they saw that he was freeing the minds of men from these labyrinths of most confused and infinite discussions which exist among the scholastic theologians and canonists, and was teaching things profit able for godliness.
42] The adversaries, therefore, have not acted candidly in passing over the abuses when they wished us to assent to the Confutation. And if they wished to care for the interests of the Church [and of afflicted consciences, and not rather to maintain their pomp and avarice], especially on that topic, at this occasion, they ought to exhort our most excellent Emperor to take measures for the correction of abuses [which furnish grounds for derision among the Turks, the Jews, and all unbelievers], as we observe plainly enough that he is most desirous of healing and well-establishing the Church. But the adversaries do not act so as to aid the most honorable and most holy will of the Emperor, but so as in every way to crush (the truth and] us.
43] Many signs show that they have little anxiety concerning the state of the Church. [They lose little sleep from concern that Christian doctrine and the pure Gospel be preached.] They take no pains that there should be among the people a summary of the dogmas of the Church. [The office of the ministry they permit to be quite desolate.) They defend manifest abuses [they continue every day to shed innocent blood] by new and unusual cruelty. They allow no suitable teachers in the churches. Good men can easily judge whither these things tend. But in this way they have no regard to the interest either of their own authority or of the Church. For after the good teachers have been killed and sound doctrine suppressed, fanatical spirits will rise up, whom the adversaries will not be able to restrain, who both will disturb the Church with godless dogmas, and will overthrow the entire ecclesiastical government, which we are very greatly desirous of maintaining.
44] Therefore, most excellent Emperor Charles, for the sake of the glory of Christ, which we have no doubt that you desire to praise and magnify, we beseech you not to assent to the violent counsels of our adversaries, but to seek other honorable ways of so establishing harmony that godly consciences are not burdened, that no cruelty is exercised against innocent men, as we have hitherto seen, and that sound doctrine is not suppressed in the Church. To God most of all you owe the duty [as far as this is possible to man] to maintain sound doctrine and hand it down to posterity, and to defend those who teach what is right. For God demands this when He honors kings with His own name and calls them gods, saying, Ps. 82, 6: I have said, Ye are gods, namely, that they should attend to the preservation and propagation of divine things, i.e., the Gospel of Christ, on the earth, and, as the vicars of God, should defend the life and safety of the innocent [true Christian teachers and preachers].
1] It cannot be doubted that it is godly and in accordance with the institution of Christ and the words of Paul to use both parts in the Lord's Supper. For Christ instituted both parts, and instituted them not for a part of the Church, but for the entire Church. For not only the presbyters, but the entire Church uses the Sacrament by the authority of Christ, and not by human authority; and this,
2] we suppose, the adversaries acknowledge. Now, if Christ has instituted it for the entire Church, why is one kind denied to a part of the Church? Why is the use of the other kind prohibited? Why is the ordinance of Christ changed, especially when He Himself calls it His testament? But if it is not allowable to annul man's testament, much less will it be allowable to annul the testament of Christ.
3] And Paul says, 1 Cor. 11, 23ff , that he had received of the Lord that which he delivered. But he had delivered the use of both kinds, as the text, 1 Cor. 11, clearly shows. This do [in remembrance of Me], he says first concerning His body; afterwards he repeats the same words concerning the cup [the blood of Christ]. And then: Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. [Here he names both.] These are the words of Him who has instituted the Sacrament. And, indeed, he says before that those who will use the Lord's Supper should use both.
4] It is evident, therefore, that the Sacrament was instituted for the entire Church. And the custom still remains in the Greek churches, and also once obtained in the Latin churches, as Cyprian and Jerome testify. For thus Jerome says on Zephaniah: The priests who administer the Eucharist, and distribute the Lord's blood to the people, etc. The Council of Toledo gives the same testimony. Nor would it be difficult to accumulate a great multitude of testimonies.
5] Here we exaggerate nothing; we but leave the prudent reader to determine what should be held concerning the divine ordinance [whether it is proper to prohibit and change an ordinance and institution of Christ].
6] The adversaries in the Confutation do not endeavor to [comfort the consciences or] excuse the Church, to which one part of the Sacrament has been denied. This would have been becoming to good and religious men. For a strong reasons for excusing the Church, and instructing consciences to whom only a part of the Sacrament could be granted, should have been sought. Now these very men maintain that it is right to prohibit the other part, and forbid that the use of both parts be allowed.
7] First, they imagine that, in the beginning of the Church, it was the custom at some places that only one part was administered. Nevertheless they are not able to produce any ancient example of this matter. But they cite the passages in which mention is made of bread, as in Luke 24, 35, where it is written that the disciples recognized Christ in the breaking of bread. They quote also other passages, Acts 2, 42. 46; 20, 7, concerning the breaking of bread. But although we do not greatly oppose if some receive these passages as referring to the Sacrament, yet it does not follow that one part only was given, because, according to the ordinary usage of language, by the naming of one part the other is also signified.
8] They refer also to Lay Communion, which was not the use of only one kind, but of both; and whenever priests are commanded to use Lay Communion [for a punishment are not to consecrate themselves, but to receive Communion, however, of both kinds, from another], it is meant that they have been removed from the ministry of consecration. Neither are the adversaries ignorant of this, but they abuse the ignorance of the unlearned, who, when they hear of Lay Communion, immediately dream of the custom of our time, by which only a part of the Sacrament is given to the laymen.
9] And consider their impudence. Gabriel recounts among other reasons why both parts are not given that a distinction should be made between laymen and presbyters. And it is credible that the chief reason why the prohibition of the one part is defended is this, namely, that the dignity of the order may be the more highly exalted by a religious rite. To say nothing more severe, this is a human design; and whither this tends can easily be judged.
10] In the Confutation they also quote concerning the sons of Eli that, after the loss of the high-priesthood, they were to seek the one part pertaining to the priests, 1 Sam. 2, 36 (the text reads: Every one 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 priest's offices (German: Lieber, la mich zu einem Priesterteil) that I may eat a piece of bread]. Here they say that the use of one kind was signified. And they add: "Thus, therefore, our laymen ought also to be content, with one part pertaining to the priests, with one kind." The adversaries [the masters of the Confutation are quite shameless, rude asses, and] are clearly trifling when they are transferring the history of the posterity of Eli to the Sacrament. The punishment of Eli is there described. Will they also say this, that as a punishment the laymen have been removed from the other part? [They are quite foolish and mad.] The Sacrament was instituted to console and comfort terrified minds, when they believe that the flesh of Christ, given for the life of the world, is food, when they believe that, being joined to Christ [through this food], they are made alive. But the adversaries argue that laymen are removed from the other part as a punishment. "They ought," they say, "to be content."
11] This is sufficient for a despot. [That, surely, sounds proud and defiant enough.] But [my lords, may we ask the reason] why ought they? "The reason must not be asked, but let whatever the theologians say be law." [Is whatever you wish and whatever you say to be sheer truth? See now and be astonished how shameless and impudent the adversaries are: they dare to set up their own words as sheer commands of lords; they frankly say: The laymen must be content. But what if they must not?] This is a concoction of Eck. For we recognize those vainglorious words, which if we would wish to criticize, there would be no want of language. For you see how great the impudence is. He commands, as a tyrant in the tragedies: "Whether they wish or not,
12] they must be content." Will the reasons which he cites excuse, in the judgment of God, those who prohibit a part of the Sacrament, and rage against men using an entire Sacrament? [Are they to take comfort in the fact that it is recorded concerning the sons of Eli: They will go begging? That will be a shuffling excuse at the judgment seat of God.]
13] If they make the prohibition in order that there should be a distinguishing mark of the order, this very reason ought to move us not to assent to the adversaries, even though we would be disposed in other respects to comply with their custom. There are other distinguishing marks of the order of priests and of the people, but it is not obscure what design they have for defending this distinction so earnestly. That we may not seem to detract from the true worth of the order, we will not say more concerning this shrewd design.
14] They also allege the danger of spilling and certain similar things, which do not have force sufficient
15] to change the ordinance of Christ. [They allege more dreams like these, for the sake of which it would be improper to change the ordinance of Christ.] And, indeed, if we assume that we are free to use either one part or both, how can the prohibition [to use both kinds] be defended? Although the Church does not assume to itself the liberty to convert the ordinances of Christ into
16] matters of indifference. We indeed excuse the Church which has borne the injury [the poor consciences which have been deprived of one part by force], since it could not obtain both parts; but the authors who maintain that the use of the entire Sacrament is justly prohibited, and who now not only prohibit, but even excommunicate and violently persecute those using an entire Sacrament, we do not excuse. Let them see to it how they will give an account to God for their decisions.
17] Neither is it to be judged immediately that the Church determines or approves whatever the pontiffs determine, especially since Scripture prophesies concerning the bishops and pastors to effect this as Ezekiel 7, 26 says: The Law shall perish from the priest [there will be priests or bishops who will know no command or law of God].
1] Despite the great infamy of their defiled celibacy, the adversaries have the presumption not only to defend the pontifical law by the wicked and false pretext of the divine name, but even to exhort the Emperor and princes, to the disgrace and infamy of the Roman Empire, not to tolerate the marriage of priests. For thus they speak. [Although the great, unheard-of lewdness, fornication, and adultery among priests, monks, etc., at the great abbeys, in other churches and cloisters, has become so notorious throughout the world that people sing and talk about it, still the adversaries who have presented the Confutation are so blind and without shame that they defend the law of the Pope by which marriage is prohibited, and that, with the specious claim that they are defending a spiritual state. Moreover, although it would be proper for them to be heartily ashamed of the exceedingly shameful, lewd, abandoned, loose life of the wretches in their abbeys and cloisters, although on this account alone they should not have the courage to show their face in broad daylight, although their evil, restless heart and conscience ought to cause them to tremble, to stand aghast, and to be afraid to lift their eyes to our excellent Emperor, who loves uprightness, still they have the courage of the hangman, they act like the very devil and like all reckless, wanton people, proceeding in blind defiance and forgetful of all honor and decency. And these pure, chaste gentlemen dare to admonish His Imperial Majesty, the Electors and Princes not to tolerate the marriage of priests ad infamiam et ignominiam imperii, that is, to ward off shame and disgrace from the Roman Empire. For these are their words, as if their shameful life were a great honor and glory to the Church.]
2] What greater impudence has ever been read of in any history than this of the adversaries? [Such shameless advocates before a Roman Emperor will not easily be found. If all the world did not know them, if many godly, upright people among them, their own canonical brethren, had not complained long ago of their shameful, lewd, indecent conduct, if their vile, abominable, ungodly, lewd, heathenish, Epicurean life, and the dregs of all filthiness at Rome were not quite manifest, one might think that their great purity and their inviolate virgin chastity were the reason why they could not bear to hear the word woman or marriage pronounced, and why they baptize holy matrimony, which the Pope himself calls a sacrament, infamiam imperii.] For the arguments which they use we shall afterwards review. Now let the wise reader consider this, namely, what shame these good-for-nothing men have who say that marriages [which the Holy Scriptures praise most highly and command] produce infamy and disgrace to the government, as though, indeed, this public infamy of flagitious and unnatural lusts which glow among these very holy fathers, who feign that they are Curii and live like bacchanals, were a great ornament to the Church! And most things which these men do with the greatest license cannot even be named without a breach of modesty.
3] And these their lusts they ask you to defend with your chaste right hand, Emperor Charles (whom even certain ancient predictions name as the king of modest face; for the saying appears concerning you: "One modest in face shall reign everywhere"). For they ask that, contrary to divine law, contrary to the law of nations, contrary to the canons of Councils, you sunder marriages, in order to impose merely for the sake of marriage atrocious punishments upon innocent men, to put to death priests, whom even barbarians reverently spare, to drive into exile banished women and fatherless children. Such laws they bring to you, most excellent and most chaste Emperor, to which no barbarity, however monstrous and
4] cruel, could lend its ear. But because the stain of no disgrace or cruelty falls upon your character, we hope that you will deal with us mildly in this matter, especially when you have learned that we have the weightiest reasons for our belief, derived from the Word of God, to which the adversaries oppose the most trifling and vain opinions.
5] And nevertheless they do not seriously defend celibacy. For they are not ignorant how few there are who practise chastity, but [they stick to that comforting saying which is found in their treatise, Si non caste, tamen caute (If not chastely, at least cautiously), and] they devise a sham of religion for their dominion, which they think that celibacy profits, in order that we may understand Peter to have been right in admonishing, 2 Pet. 2, 1, that there will be false teachers who will deceive men with feigned words. For the adversaries say, write, or do nothing truly [their words are merely an argument ad hominem], frankly, and candidly in this entire case, but they actually contend only concerning the dominion which they falsely think to be imperiled, and which they endeavor to fortify with a wicked pretense of godliness [they support their case with nothing but impious, hypocritical lies; accordingly, it will endure about as well as butter exposed to the sun).
6] We cannot approve this law concerning celibacy which the adversaries defend, because it conflicts with divine and natural law, and is at variance with the very canons of the Councils. And that it is superstitious and dangerous is evident. For it produces infinite scandals, sins, and corruption of public morals [as is seen in the real towns of priests, or, as they are called, their residences]. Our other controversies need some discussion by the doctors; in this the subject is so manifest to both parties that it requires no discussion. It only requires as judge a man that is honest and fears God. And although the manifest truth is defended by us, yet the adversaries have devised certain reproaches for satirizing our arguments.
7] First. Gen. 1, 28 teaches that men were created to be fruitful, and that one sex in a proper way should desire the other. For we are speaking not of concupiscence, which is sin, but of that appetite which was to have been in nature in its integrity [which would have existed in nature even if it had remained uncorrupted], which they call physical love. And this love of one sex for the other is truly a divine ordinance. But since this ordinance of God cannot be removed without an extraordinary work of God, it follows that the right to contract marriage cannot be removed by statutes or vows.
8] The adversaries cavil at these arguments; they say that in the beginning the commandment was given to replenish the earth, but that now since the earth has been replenished, marriage is not commanded. See how wisely they judge! The nature of men is so formed by the word of God that it is fruitful not only in the beginning of the creation, but as long as this nature of our bodies will exist; just as the earth becomes fruitful by the word Gen. 1, 11: Let the earth bring forth grass, yielding seed. Because of this ordinance the earth not only commenced in the beginning to bring forth plants, but the fields are clothed every year as long as this natural order will exist. Therefore, just as by human laws the nature of the earth cannot be changed, so, without a special work of God, the nature of a human being can be changed neither by vows nor by human law [that a woman should not desire a man, nor a man a woman].
9] Secondly. And because this creation or divine ordinance in man is a natural right, jurists have accordingly said wisely and correctly that the union of male and female belongs to natural right. But since natural right is immutable, the right to contract marriage must always remain. For where nature does not change, that ordinance also with which God has endowed nature does not change, and cannot be removed by human laws.
10] Therefore it is ridiculous for the adversaries to prate that marriage was commanded in the beginning, but is not now. This is the same as if they would say: Formerly, when men were born, they brought with them sex; now they do not. Formerly, when they were born, they brought with them natural right; now they do not. No craftsman (Faber) could produce anything more crafty than these absurdities, which were devised to elude a right of nature.
11] Therefore let this remain in the case which both Scripture teaches and the jurist says wisely, namely, that the union of male and female belongs to natural right.
12] Moreover, a natural right is truly a divine right, because it is an ordinance divinely impressed upon nature. But inasmuch as this right cannot be changed without an extraordinary work of God, it is necessary that the right to contract marriage remains, because the natural desire of sex for sex is an ordinance of God in nature, and for this reason is a right; otherwise, why would both sexes have been created?
13] And we are speaking, as it has been said above, not of concupiscence, which is sin, but of that desire which they call physical love [which would have existed between man and woman even though their nature had remained pure], which concupiscence has not removed from nature, but inflames, so that now it has greater need of a remedy, and marriage is necessary not only for the sake of procreation, but also as a remedy [to guard against sins]. These things are clear, and so well established that they can in no way be overthrown.
14] Thirdly. Paul says, 1 Cor. 7, 2: To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife. This now is an express command pertaining to all who are not fit for celibacy.
15] The adversaries ask that a commandment be shown them which commands priests to marry. As though priests are not men! We judge indeed that the things which we maintain concerning human nature in general pertain also to priests.
16] Does not Paul here command those who have not the gift of continence to marry? For he interprets himself a little after when he says, 7, 9: It is better to marry than to burn. And Christ has clearly said, Matt. 19, 11: All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. Because now, since sin [since the fall of Adam], these two things concur, namely, natural appetite and concupiscence, which inflames the natural appetite, so that now there is more need of marriage than in nature in its integrity, Paul accordingly speaks of marriage as a remedy, and on account of these flames commands to marry. Neither can any human authority, any law, any vows remove this declaration: It is better to marry than to burn, because they do not remove the nature or concupiscence.
17] Therefore all who burn, retain the right to marry. By this commandment of Paul: To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, all are held bound who do not truly keep themselves continent; the decision concerning which pertains to the conscience of each one.
18] For as they here give the command to seek continence of God, and to weaken the body by labors and hunger, why do they not proclaim these magnificent commandments to themselves? But, as we have said above, the adversaries are only playing; they are doing nothing seriously.
19] If continence were possible to all, it would not require a peculiar gift. But Christ shows that it has need of a peculiar gift; therefore it does not belong to all. God wishes the rest to use the common law of nature which He has instituted. For God does not wish His ordinances, His creations to be despised. He wishes men to be chaste in this way, that they use the remedy divinely presented, just as He wishes to nourish our life in this way,
20] that we use food and drink. Gerson also testifies that there have been many good men who endeavored to subdue the body, and yet made little progress. Accordingly, Ambrose is right in saying: Virginity is only a thing that can be recommended, but not commanded;
21]it is a matter of vow rather than of precept. If any one here would raise the objection that Christ praises those which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake, Matt. 19, 12, let him also consider this, that He is praising such as have the gift of continence; for on this account He adds: He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
22] For an impure continence [such as there is in monasteries and cloisters] does not please Christ. We also praise true continence. But now we are disputing concerning the law, and concerning those who do not have the gift of continence. The matter ought to be left free, and snares ought not to be cast upon the weak through this law.
23] Fourthly. The pontifical law differs also from the canons of the Councils. For the ancient canons do not prohibit marriage, neither do they dissolve marriages that have been contracted, even if they remove from the administration of their office those who have contracted them in the ministry. At those times this dismissal was an act of kindness [rather than a punishment]. But the new canons, which have not been framed in the Synods, but have been made according to the private judgment of the Popes, both prohibit the contraction of marriages, and dissolve them when contracted; and this is to be done openly, contrary to the command of Christ, Matt. 19, 6: What God hath joined together, let not man
24] put asunder. In the Confutation the adversaries exclaim that celibacy has been commanded by the Councils. We do not find fault with the decrees of the Councils; for under a certain condition these allow marriage; but we find fault with the laws which, since the ancient Synods, the Popes of Rome have framed contrary to the authority of the Synods.
25] The Popes despise the authority of the Synods, just as much as they wish it to appear holy to others [under peril of God's wrath and eternal damnation]. Therefore this law concerning perpetual celibacy is peculiar to this new pontifical despotism. Nor is it without a reason. For Daniel, 11, 37, ascribes to the kingdom of Antichrist this mark, namely, the contempt of women.
26] Fifthly. Although the adversaries do not defend the law because of superstition, [not because of its sanctity, as from ignorance], since they see that it is not generally observed, nevertheless they diffuse superstitious opinions, while they give a pretext of religion. They proclaim that they require celibacy because it is purity. As though marriage were impurity and a sin, or as though celibacy merited justification more than does marriage!
27] And to this end they cite the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law, because, since, under the Law, the priests, at the time of ministering, were separated from their wives, the priest in the New Testament, inasmuch as he ought always to pray, ought always to practise continence. This silly comparison is presented as a proof which should compel priests to perpetual celibacy, although, indeed, in this very comparison marriage is allowed, only in the time of ministering its use is interdicted. And it is one thing to pray: another, to minister. The saints prayed even when they did not exercise the public ministry; nor did conjugal intercourse hinder them from praying.
28] But ye shall reply in order to these figments. In the first place, it is necessary for the adversaries to acknowledge this, namely, that in believers marriage is pure because it has been sanctified by the Word of God, i.e., it is a matter that is permitted and approved by the Word of God, as Scripture abundantly testifies.
29] For Christ calls marriage a divine union, when He says, Matt. 19, 6: What
30] God hath joined together [let not man put asunder. Here Christ says that married people are joined together by God. Accordingly, it is a pure, holy, noble, praiseworthy work of God]. And Paul says of marriage, of meats and similar things, 1 Tim. 4, 5: It is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer, i.e., by the Word, by which consciences become certain that God approves; and by prayer, i.e., by faith, which uses it with thanksgiving
31] as a gift of God. Likewise, 1 Cor. 7, 14: The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, etc., i.e. the use of marriage is permitted and holy on account of faith in Christ, just as it is permitted to use meat, etc. Likewise,
32] 1 Tim. 2, 15: She shall be saved in childbearing [if they continue in faith], etc. If the adversaries could produce such a passage concerning celibacy, then indeed they would celebrate a wonderful triumph. Paul says that woman is saved by childbearing. What more honorable could be said against the hypocrisy of celibacy than that woman is saved by the conjugal works themselves, by conjugal intercourse, by bearing children and the other duties? But what does St. Paul mean? Let the reader observe that faith is added, and that domestic duties without faith are not praised. If they continue, he says, in faith. For he speaks of the whole class of mothers. Therefore he requires especially faith [that they should have God's Word and be believing], by which woman receives the remission of sins and justification. Then he adds a particular work of the calling, just as in every man a good work of a particular calling ought to follow faith. This work pleases God on account of faith. Thus the duties of the woman please God on account of faith, and the believing woman is saved who in such duties devoutly serves her calling.
33] These testimonies teach that marriage is a lawful [a holy and Christian] thing. If therefore purity signifies that which is allowed and approved before God, marriages are pure, because they have been approved by the Word of God.
34] And Paul says of lawful things, Titus 1, 15: Unto the pure all things are pure, i.e., to those who believe in Christ and are righteous by faith. Therefore, as virginity is impure in the godless, so in the godly marriage is pure on account of the Word of God and faith.
35] Again, if purity is properly opposed to concupiscence, it signifies purity of heart, i.e., mortified concupiscence, because the Law does not prohibit marriage, but concupiscence, adultery, fornication. Therefore celibacy is not purity. For there may be greater purity of heart in a married man, as in Abraham or Jacob, than in most of those who are even truly continent [who even, according to bodily purity, really maintain their chastity].
36] Lastly, if they understand that celibacy is purity in the sense that it merits justification more than does marriage, we most emphatically contradict it. For we are justified neither on account of virginity nor on account of marriage, but freely for Christ's sake, when we believe that for His sake
37] God is propitious to us. Here perhaps they will exclaim that, according to the manner of Jovinian, marriage is made equal to virginity. But, on account of such clamors we shall not reject the truth concerning the righteousness
38] of faith, which we have explained above. Nevertheless we do not make virginity and marriage equal. For just as one gift surpasses another, as prophecy surpasses eloquence, the science of military affairs surpasses agriculture, and eloquence surpasses architecture, so virginity is a more excellent gift than
39] marriage. And nevertheless, just as an orator is not more righteous before God because of his eloquence than an architect because of his skill in architecture, so a virgin does not merit justification by virginity more than a married person merits it by conjugal duties, but each one ought faithfully to serve in his own gift, and to believe that for Christ's sake he receives the remission of sins and by faith is accounted righteous before God.
40] Neither does Christ or Paul praise virginity because it justifies, but because it is freer and less distracted with domestic occupations, in praying, teaching, [writing,] serving. For this reason Paul says, 1 Cor. 7, 32: He that is unmarried careth for the things which belong to the Lord. Virginity, therefore, is praised on account of meditation and study. Thus Christ does not simply praise those who make themselves eunuchs, but adds, for the kingdom of heaven's sake, i.e., that they may have leisure to learn or teach the Gospel; for He does not say that virginity merits the remission of sins or salvation.
41] To the examples of the Levitical priests we have replied that they do not establish the duty of imposing perpetual celibacy upon the priests. Furthermore, the Levitical impurities are not to be transferred to us. [The law of Moses, with the ceremonial statutes concerning what is clean or unclean, do not at all concern us Christians.] Then intercourse contrary to the Law was an impurity. Now it is not impurity, because Paul says, Titus 1, 15: Unto the pure all things are pure. For the Gospel frees us from these
42] Levitical impurities [from all the ceremonies of Moses, and not alone from the laws concerning uncleanness]. And if any one defends the law of celibacy with the design to burden consciences by these Levitical observances, we must strive against this, just as the apostles in Acts 15, 10 sqq. strove against those who required circumcision and endeavored to impose the Law of Moses upon Christians.
43] Yet, in the meanwhile, good men will know how to control the use of marriage, especially when they are occupied with public offices, which often, indeed, give good men so much labor as to expel all domestic thoughts from their minds. [For to be burdened with great affairs and transactions, which concern commonwealths and nations, governments and churches, is a good remedy to keep the old Adam from lustfulness.] Good men know also this, that Paul, 1 Thess. 4, 4, commands that every one possess his vessel in sanctification [and honor, not in the lust of concupiscence]. They know likewise that they must sometimes retire, in order that there may be leisure for prayer; but Paul does not wish this
44] to be perpetual, 1 Cor. 7, 5. Now such continence is easy to those who are good and occupied. But this great crowd of unemployed priests which is in the fraternities cannot afford, in this voluptuousness, even this Levitical continence, as the facts show. [On the other hand, what sort of chastity can there be among so many thousands of monks and priests who live without worry in all manner of delights, being idle and full, and, moreover, have not the Word of God, do not learn it, and have no regard for it. Such conditions bring on all manner of inchastity. Such people can observe neither Levitical nor perpetual chastity.] And the lines are well known: The boy accustomed to pursue a slothful life hates those who are busy.
45] Many heretics understanding the Law of Moses incorrectly have treated marriage with contempt, for whom, nevertheless, celibacy has gained extraordinary admiration. And Epiphanius complains that, by this commendation especially, the Encratites captured the minds of the unwary. They abstained from wine even in the Lord's Supper; they abstained from the flesh of all animals, in which they surpassed the Dominican brethren, who live upon fish. They abstained also from marriage; and just this gained the chief admiration. These works, these services, they thought, merited grace more than the use of wine and flesh, and than marriage, which seemed to be a profane and unclean matter, and which scarcely could please God, even though it were not altogether condemned.
46] Paul to the Colossians, 2, 18, greatly disapproves these angelic forms of worship. For when men believe that they are pure and righteous on account of such hypocrisy, they suppress the knowledge of Christ, and suppress also the knowledge of God's gifts and commandments. For God wishes
47] us to use His gifts in a godly way. And we might mention examples where certain godly consciences were greatly disturbed on account of the lawful use of marriage. This evil was derived from the opinions of monks superstitiously praising celibacy [and proclaiming the married estate as a life that would be a great obstacle to salvation, and full of sins].
48] Nevertheless we do not find fault with temperance or continence, but we have said above that exercises and mortifications of the body are necessary. We indeed deny that confidence should be placed in certain observances, as though they made righteous.
49] And Epiphanius has elegantly said that these observances ought to be praised dia; th;n ejgkravteian kai; dia; th;n politeivan, i.e., for restraining the body or on account of public morals; just as certain rites were instituted for instructing the ignorant, and not as services that justify.
50] But it is not through superstition that our adversaries require celibacy, for they know that chastity is not ordinarily rendered [that at Rome, also in all their monasteries, there is nothing but undisguised, unconcealed inchastity. Nor do they seriously intend to lead chaste lives, but knowingly practise hypocrisy before the people]. But they feign superstitious opinions, so as to delude the ignorant. They are therefore more worthy of hatred than the Encratites, who seem to have erred by show of religion; these Sardanapali [Epicureans] designedly misuse the pretext, of religion.
51] Sixthly. Although we have so many reasons for disapproving the law of perpetual celibacy, yet, besides these, dangers to souls and public scandals also are added, which even, though the law were not unjust, ought to deter good men from approving such a burden as has destroyed innumerable souls.
52] For a long time all good men [their own bishops and canons) have complained of this burden, either on their own account, or on account of others whom they saw to be in danger. But no Popes give ear to these complaints. Neither is it doubtful how greatly injurious to public morals this law is, and what vices and shameful lusts it has produced. The Roman satires are extant. In these Rome still recognizes and reads its own morals.
53] Thus God avenges the contempt of His own gift and ordinance in those who prohibit marriage. But since the custom in regard to other laws was that they should be changed if manifest utility would advise it, why is the same not done with respect to this law, in which so many weighty reasons concur, especially in these last times, why a change ought to be made? Nature is growing old and is gradually becoming weaker, and vices are increasing; wherefore the remedies
54] divinely given should have been employed. We see what vice it was which God denounced before the Flood, what He denounced before the burning of the five cities. Similar vices have preceded the destruction of many other cities, as of Sybaris and Rome. And in these there has been presented an image of the times which will be next to the end of things.
55] Accordingly, at this time, marriage ought to have been especially defended by the most severe laws and warning examples, and men ought to have been invited to marriage. This duty pertains to the magistrates, who ought to maintain public discipline. [God has now so blinded the world that adultery and fornication are permitted almost without punishment; on the contrary, punishment is inflicted on account of marriage. Is not this terrible to hear?] Meanwhile the teachers of the Gospel should do both; they should exhort incontinent men to marriage, and should exhort others not to despise the gift of continence.
56] The Popes daily dispense and daily change other laws which are most excellent, yet, in regard to this one law of celibacy, they are as iron and inexorable, although, indeed, it is manifest that this is simply of human right.
57] And they are now making this law more grievous in many ways. The canon bids them suspend priests; these rather unfriendly interpreters suspend them not from office, but from trees. They cruelly kill many men for nothing but marriage. [It is to be feared, therefore, that the blood of Abel will cry to heaven so loudly as not to be endured, and that we shall have to tremble like Cain.]
58] And these very parricides show that this law is a doctrine of demons. For since the devil is a murderer, he defends his law by these parricides.
59] We know that there is some offense in regard to schism, because we seem to have separated from those who are thought to be regular bishops. But our consciences are very secure, since we know that, though we most earnestly desire to establish harmony, we cannot please the adversaries unless we cast away manifest truth, and then agree with these very men in being willing to defend this unjust law, to dissolve marriages that have been contracted, to put to death priests if they do not obey, to drive poor women and fatherless children into exile. But since it is well established that these conditions are displeasing to God, we can in no way grieve that we have no alliance with the multitude of murderers among the adversaries.
60] We have explained the reasons why we cannot assent with a good conscience to the adversaries when they defend the pontifical law concerning perpetual celibacy, because it conflicts with divine and natural law and is at variance with the canons themselves, and is superstitious and full of danger, and, lastly, because the whole affair is insincere. For the law is enacted not for the sake of religion [not for holiness' sake, or because they do not know better; they know very well that everybody is well acquainted with the condition of the great cloisters, which we are able to name], but for the sake of dominion, and this is wickedly given the pretext of religion. Neither can anything be produced by sane men against these
61] most firmly established reasons. The Gospel allows marriage to those to whom it is necessary. Nevertheless, it does not compel those to marry who can be continent, provided they be truly continent. We hold that this liberty should also be conceded to the priests, nor do we wish to compel any one by force to celibacy, nor to dissolve marriages that have been contracted.
62] We have also indicated incidentally, while we have recounted our arguments, how the adversaries cavil at several of these; and we have explained away these false accusations. Now we shall relate as briefly as possible with what important reasons
63] they defend the law. First, they say that it has been revealed by God. You see the extreme impudence of these sorry fellows. They dare to affirm that the law of perpetual celibacy has been divinely revealed, although it is contrary to manifest testimonies of Scripture, which command that to avoid fornication each one should have his own wife, 1 Cor. 7, 2; which likewise forbid to dissolve marriages that have been contracted; cf. Matt. 5, 32; 19, 6; 1 Cor. 7, 27. [What can the knaves say in reply? and how dare they wantonly and shamelessly misapply the great, most holy name of the divine Majesty?] Paul reminds us what an author such a law was to have when he calls it a doctrine of demons, 1 Tim. 4, 1. And the fruits show their author, namely, so many monstrous lusts and so many murders which are now committed under the pretext of that law [as can be seen at Rome].
64] The second argument of the adversaries is that the priests ought to be pure, according to Is. 52, 11: Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. And they cite many things to this effect. This reason which they display we have above removed as especially specious. For we have said that virginity without faith is not purity before God, and marriage, on account of faith, is pure, according to Titus 1, 15: Unto the pure all things are pure. We have said also this, that outward purity and the ceremonies of the Law are not to be transferred hither, because the Gospel requires purity of heart, and does not require the ceremonies of the Law. And it may occur that the heart of a husband, as of Abraham or Jacob, who were polygamists, is purer and burns less with lusts than that of many virgins who are even truly continent. But what Isaiah says: Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord, ought to be understood as referring to cleanness of heart and to the entire repentance.
65] Besides, the saints will know in the exercise of marriage how far it is profitable to restrain its use, and as Paul says, 1 Thess. 4, 4,
66] to possess his vessel in sanctification. Lastly, since marriage is pure, it is rightly said to those who are not continent in celibacy that they should marry wives in order to be pure. Thus the same law: Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord, commands that impure celibates become pure husbands [impure unmarried priests become pure married priests].
67] The third argument is horrible, namely, that the marriage of priests is the heresy of Jovinian. Fine-sounding words! [Pity on our poor souls, dear sirs; proceed gently!] This is a new crime, that marriage [which God instituted in Paradise] is a heresy! [In that case all the world would be children of heretics.] In the time of Jovinian the world did not as yet know the law concerning perpetual celibacy. [This our adversaries know very well.] Therefore it is an impudent falsehood that the marriage of priests is the heresy of Jovinian, or that such marriage was then condemned by the Church.
68] In such passages we can see what design the adversaries had in writing the Confutation. They judged that the ignorant would be thus most easily excited, if they would frequently hear the reproach of heresy, if they pretend that our cause had been dispatched and condemned by many previous decisions of the Church. Thus they frequently cite falsely the judgment of the Church. Because they are not ignorant of this, they were unwilling to exhibit to us a copy of their Apology, lest this falsehood and these reproaches might be exposed. Our opinion, however, as regards the case of Jovinian, concerning the comparison of virginity
69] and marriage, we have expressed above. For we do not make marriage and virginity equal, although neither virginity nor marriage merits justification.
70] By such false arguments they defend a law that is godless and destructive to good morals. By such reasons they set the minds of princes firmly against God's judgment [the princes and bishops who believe this teaching will see whether their reasons will endure the test, when the hour of death arrives], in which God will call them to account as to why they have dissolved marriages, and why they have tortured [flogged and impaled] and killed priests [regardless of the cries, wails, and tears of so many widows and orphans]. For do not doubt but that, as the blood of dead Abel cried out, Gen. 4, 10, so the blood of many good men, against whom they have unjustly raged, will also cry out. And God will avenge this cruelty; there you will discover how empty are these reasons of the adversaries, and you will perceive that in God's judgment no calumnies against God's Word remain standing, as Isaiah says, 40, 6: All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field [that their arguments are straw and hay, and God a consuming fire, before whom nothing but God's Word can abide, 1 Pet. 1, 24].
71] Whatever may happen, our princes will be able to console themselves with the consciousness of right counsels, because even though the priests would have done wrong in contracting marriages, yet this disruption of marriages, these proscriptions, and this cruelty are manifestly contrary to the will and Word of God. Neither does novelty or dissent delight our princes, but especially in a matter that is not doubtful more regard had to be paid to the Word of God than to all other things.
At the outset we must again make the preliminary statement that we
1] do not abolish the Mass, but religiously maintain and defend it. For among us masses are celebrated every Lord's Day and on the other festivals, in which the Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other like things.
2] The adversaries have a long declamation concerning the use of the Latin language in the Mass, in which they absurdly trifle as to how it profits [what a great merit is achieved by] an unlearned hearer to hear in the faith of the Church a Mass which he does not understand. They evidently imagine that the mere work of hearing is a service, that it profits without being understood.
3] We are unwilling to malignantly pursue these things, but we leave them to the judgment of the reader. We mention them only for the purpose of stating, in passing, that also among us the Latin lessons and prayers are retained.
Since ceremonies, however, ought to be observed both to teach men Scripture, and that those admonished by the Word may conceive faith and fear [of God, and obtain comfort], and thus also may pray (for these are the designs of ceremonies), we retain the Latin language on account of those who are learning and understand Latin, and we mingle with it German hymns, in order that the people also may have something to learn, and by which faith and fear
4] may be called forth. This custom has always existed in the churches. For although some more frequently, and others more rarely, introduced German hymns, nevertheless the people almost everywhere sang something in their own
5] tongue. [Therefore, this is not such a new departure.] It has, however, nowhere been written or represented that the act of hearing lessons not understood profits men, or that ceremonies profit, not because they teach or admonish, but ex opere operato, because they are thus performed or are looked upon. Away with such pharisaic opinions! [Ye sophists ought to be heartily ashamed of such dreams!]
6] The fact that we hold only Public or Common Mass [at which the people also commune, not Private Mass] is no offense against the Church catholic. For in the Greek churches even today private Masses are not held, but there is only a public Mass, and that on the Lord's Day and festivals. In the monasteries daily Mass is held, but this is only public. These are the traces of former customs. For nowhere do the ancient writers before Gregory make mention
7] of private Masses. We now omit noticing the nature of their origin. It is evident that after the mendicant monks began to prevail, from most false opinions and on account of gain they were so increased that all good men for a long time desired some limit to this thing. Although St. Francis wished to provide aright for this matter, as he decided that each fraternity should be content with a single common Mass daily, afterwards this was changed, either by superstition or for the sake of gain. Thus,
8] where it is of advantage, they themselves change the institutions of the Fathers; and afterwards they cite against us the authority of the Fathers. Epiphanius writes that in Asia the Communion was celebrated three times a week, and that there were no daily Masses. And indeed he says that this custom was handed down from the apostles. For he speaks thus: Assemblies for Communion were appointed by the apostles to be held on the fourth day, on Sabbath eve, and the Lord's Day.
9] Moreover, although the adversaries collect many testimonies on this topic to prove that the Mass is a sacrifice, yet this great tumult of words will be quieted when the single reply is advanced that this line of authorities, reasons and testimonies, however long, does not prove that the Mass confers grace ex opere operato, or that, when applied on behalf of others, it merits for them the remission of venial and mortal sins, of guilt and punishment. This one reply overthrows all objections of the adversaries, not only in this Confutation, but in all writings which they have published concerning the Mass.
10] And this is the issue [the principal question] of the case of which our readers are to be admonished, as Aeschines admonished the judges that just as boxers contend with one another for their position, so they should strive with their adversary concerning the controverted point, and not permit him to wander beyond the case. In the same manner our adversaries ought to be here compelled to speak on the subject presented. And when the controverted point has been thoroughly understood, a decision concerning the arguments on both sides will be very easy.
11] For in our Confession we have shown that we hold that the Lord's Supper does not confer grace ex opere operato, and that, when applied on behalf of others, alive or dead, it does not merit for them ex opere operato the remission of sins, of guilt or of punishment.
12] And of this position a clear and firm proof exists in that it is impossible to obtain the remission of our sins on account of our own work ex opere operato [even when there is not a good thought in the heart], but the terrors of sin and death must be overcome by faith when we comfort our hearts with the knowledge of Christ, and believe that for Christ's sake we are forgiven, and that the merits and righteousness of Christ are granted us, Rom. 5, 1: Being justified by faith, we have peace. These things are so sure and so firm that they can stand against all the gates of hell.
13] If we are to say only as much as is necessary, the case has already been stated. For no sane man can approve that pharisaic and heathen opinion concerning the opus operatum. And nevertheless this opinion inheres in the people, and has increased infinitely the number of masses. For masses are purchased to appease God's wrath, and by this work they wish to obtain the remission of guilt and of punishment; they wish to procure whatever is necessary in every kind of life [health, riches, prosperity, and success in business]; they wish even to liberate the dead. Monks and sophists have taught this pharisaic opinion in the Church.
14] But although our case has already been stated, yet, because the adversaries foolishly pervert many passages of Scripture to the defense of their errors, we shall add a few things on this topic. In the Confutation they have said many things concerning "sacrifice," although in our Confession we purposely avoided this term on account of its ambiguity. We have set forth what those persons whose abuses we condemn now understand as a sacrifice. Now, in order to explain the passages of Scripture that have been wickedly perverted, it is necessary in the beginning to set forth what a sacrifice is.
15] Already for an entire period of ten years the adversaries have published almost infinite volumes concerning sacrifice, and yet not one of them thus far has given a definition of sacrifice. They only seize upon the name "sacrifices" either from the Scriptures or the Fathers [and where they find it in the dances of the Bible, apply it here, whether it fits or not]. Afterward they append their own dreams, as though indeed a sacrifice signifies whatever pleases them.
[Now, lest we plunge blindly into this business, we must indicate, in the first place, a distinction as to what is, and what is not, a sacrifice. To know this is expedient and good for all Christians.]
16] Socrates, in the Phaedrus of Plato, says that he is especially fond of divisions, because without these nothing can either be explained or understood in speaking, and if he discovers any one skilful in making divisions, he says that he attends and follows his footsteps as those of a god. And he instructs the one dividing to separate the members in their very joints, lest, like an unskilful cook, he break to pieces some member. But the adversaries wonderfully despise these precepts, and, according to Plato, are truly kakoi; mavgeiroi (poor butchers), since they break the members of "sacrifice," as can be understood when we have enumerated the species of sacrifice.
17] Theologians are rightly accustomed to distinguish between a Sacrament and a sacrifice. Therefore let the genus comprehending both of these be either
18] a ceremony or a sacred work. A Sacrament is a ceremony or work in which God presents to us that which the promise annexed to the ceremony offers; as, Baptism is a work, not which we offer to God, but in which God baptizes us, i.e., a minister in the place of God; and God here offers and presents the remission of sins, etc., according to the promise, Mark 16, 16: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. A sacrifice, on the contrary, is a ceremony or work which we render God in order to afford Him honor.
19] Moreover, the proximate species of sacrifice are two, and there are no more. One is the propitiatory sacrifice, i.e., a work which makes satisfaction for guilt and punishment, i.e., one that reconciles God, or appeases God's wrath, or which merits the remission of sins for others. The other species is the eucharistic sacrifice, which does not merit the remission of sins or reconciliation, but is rendered by those who have been reconciled, in order that we may give thanks or return gratitude for the remission of sins that has been received, or for other benefits received.
20] These two species of sacrifice we ought especially to have in view and placed before the eyes in this controversy, as well as in many other discussions; and especial care must be taken lest they be confounded. But if the limits of this book would suffer it, we would add the reasons for this division. For it has many testimonies in the Epistle to the Hebrews and elsewhere. And
21] all Levitical sacrifices can be referred to these members as to their own homes [genera]. For in the Law certain sacrifices were named propitiatory on account of their signification or similitude; not because they merited the remission of sins before God, but because they merited the remission of sins according to the righteousness of the Law, in order that those for whom they were made might not be excluded from that commonwealth [from the people of Israel]. Therefore they were called sin-offerings and burnt offerings for a trespass. Whereas the eucharistic sacrifices were the oblation, the drink-offering, thank-offerings, first-fruits, tithes.
22] [Thus there have been in the Law emblems of the true sacrifice.] But in fact there has been only one propitiatory sacrifice in the world, namely, the death of Christ, as the Epistle to the Hebrews 10, 4 teaches: It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. And a little after, of the [obedience and] will of Christ, 10, 10: By the which will we are sanctified by the offering of the body
23] of Jesus Christ once for all. And Isaiah interprets the Law, in order that we may know that the death of Christ is truly a satisfaction for our sins, or expiation, and that the ceremonies of the Law are not; wherefore he says, Is. 53, 10: When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He will see His seed, etc. For the word employed here, µça
, signifies a victim for transgression; which signified in the Law that a certain Victim was to come to make satisfaction for our sins and reconcile God, in order that men might know that God wishes to be reconciled to us, not on account of our own righteousnesses, but on account of the merits of another, namely, of Christ. Paul interprets the same word µça
as sin, Rom. 8, 3: For sin (God) condemned sin, i.e., He punished sin for sin, i.e., by a Victim for sin. The significance of the word can be the more easily understood from the customs of the heathen, which, we see, have been received from the misunderstood expressions of the Fathers. The Latins called a victim that which in great calamities, where God seemed to be especially enraged, was offered to appease God's wrath, a piaculum; and they sometimes sacrificed human victims, perhaps because they had heard that a human victim would appease God for the entire human race. The Greeks sometimes called them kaqavrmata and sometimes periyhvmata. Isaiah and Paul, therefore, mean that Christ became a victim,
24] i.e., an expiation, that by His merits, and not by our own, God might be reconciled. Therefore let this remain established in the case, namely, that the death of Christ alone is truly a propitiatory sacrifice. For the Levitical propitiatory sacrifices were so called only to signify a future expiation. On account of a certain resemblance, therefore, they were satisfactions redeeming the righteousness of the Law, lest those persons who sinned should be excluded from the commonwealth. But after the revelation of the Gospel [and after the true sacrifice has been accomplished] they had to cease; and because they had to cease in the revelation of the Gospel, they were not truly propitiations, since the Gospel was promised for this very reason, namely, to set forth a propitiation.
25] Now the rest are eucharistic sacrifices, which are called sacrifices of praise, Lev. 3, 1f.; 7, 11f.; Ps. 56, 12f., namely, the preaching of the Gospel, faith, prayer, thanksgiving, confession, the afflictions of saints, yea, all good works of saints. These sacrifices are not satisfactions for those making them, or applicable on behalf of others, so as to merit for these, ex opere operato, the remission of sins or reconciliation. For they are made by those who have been reconciled.
26] And such are the sacrifices of the New Testament, as Peter teaches, 1 Pet. 2, 5: An holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices. Spiritual sacrifices, however, are contrasted not only with those of cattle, but even with human works offered ex opere operato, because spiritual refers to the movements of the Holy Ghost in us. Paul teaches the same thing Rom. 12, 1: Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, which is your reasonable service. Reasonable service signifies, however, a service in which God is known, and apprehended by the mind, as happens in the movements of fear and trust towards God. Therefore it is opposed not only to the Levitical service, in which cattle are slain, but also to a service in which a work is imagined to be offered ex opere operato, The Epistle to the Hebrews 13, 15, teaches the same thing: By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually; and he adds the interpretation, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. He bids us offer praises, i.e., prayer, thanksgiving, confession, and the like. These avail not ex opere operato, but on account of faith. This is taught by the clause: By Him let us offer, i.e., by faith in Christ.
27] In short, the worship of the New Testament is spiritual, i.e., it is the righteousness of faith in the heart and the fruits of faith. It accordingly abolishes the Levitical services. [In the New Testament no offering avails ex opere operato, sine bono motu utentis, i.e., on account of the work, without a good thought in the heart.] And Christ says, John 4, 23. 24: True worshipers shalt worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth [that is, from the heart, with heartfelt fear and cordial faith]. This passage clearly condemns [as absolutely devilish, pharisaical, and antichristian] opinions concerning sacrifices which, they imagine, avail ex opere operato, and teaches that men ought to worship in spirit, i.e., with the dispositions of the heart and by faith. [The Jews also did not understand their ceremonies aright, and imagined that they were righteous before God when they had wrought works ex opere operato. Against this the prophets contend with the greatest earnestness.] Accordingly,
28] the prophets also in the Old Testament condemn the opinion of the people concerning the opus operatum, and teach the righteousness and sacrifices of the Spirit. Jer. 7, 22. 23: For I spoke not unto your fathers, nor commanded them, in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices; but this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, etc. How do we suppose that the Jews received this arraignment, which seems to conflict openly with Moses? For it was evident that God had given the fathers commands concerning burnt offerings and victims. But Jeremiah condemns the opinion concerning sacrifices which God had not delivered, namely, that these services should please Him ex opere operato. But he adds concerning faith that God had commanded this: Hear Me, i.e., believe Me that I am your God; that I wish to become thus known when I pity and aid; neither have I need of your victims; believe that I wish to be God the Justifier and Savior, not on account of works, but on account of My word and promise; truly and from the heart seek and expect aid from Me.
29] Ps. 50, 13. 15, which rejects the victims and requires prayer, also condemns the opinion concerning the opus operatum: Will I eat the flesh of bulls? etc. Call upon He in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me. The Psalmist testifies that this is true service, that this is true honor, if we call upon Him from the heart.
Likewise Ps. 40, 6: Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened, i.e., Thou hast offered to me Thy Word that I might hear it, and Thou dost require that I believe Thy Word and Thy promises, that Thou truly desirest to pity, to bring aid, etc. Likewise Ps. 51, 16. 17: Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. Likewise Ps. 4, 5: Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust [hope, V.] in the Lord. He bids us hope, and says that this is a righteous sacrifice, signifying that other sacrifices are not true and righteous sacrifices. And Ps. 116, 17: I will offer to Thee the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. They call invocation a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
30] But Scripture is full of such testimonies as teach that sacrifices ex opere operato do not reconcile God. Accordingly the New Testament, since Levitical services have been abrogated, teaches that new and pure sacrifices will be made, namely, faith, prayer, thanksgiving, confession, and the preaching of the Gospel, afflictions on account of the Gospel, and the like.
31] And of these sacrifices Malachi 1, 11 speaks: 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. The adversaries perversely apply this passage to the Mass, and quote the authority of the Fathers. A reply, however, is easy, for even if it spoke most particularly of the Mass, it would not follow that the Mass justifies ex opere operato, or that, when applied to others, it merits the remission of sins, etc. The prophet says nothing of those things which the monks and sophists impudently fabricate.
32] Besides, the very words of the prophet express his meaning. For they first say this, namely, that the name of the Lord will be great. This is accomplished by the preaching of the Gospel. For through this the name of Christ is made known, and the mercy of the Father, promised in Christ, is recognized. The preaching of the Gospel produces faith in those who receive the Gospel. They call upon God, they give thanks to God, they bear afflictions for their confession, they produce good works for the glory of Christ. Thus the name of the Lord becomes great among the Gentiles. Therefore incense and a pure offering signify not a ceremony ex opere operato [not the ceremony of the Mass alone], but all those sacrifices through which the name of the Lord becomes great, namely, faith, invocation, the preaching
33] of the Gospel, confession, etc. And if any one would have this term embrace the ceremony [of the Mass], we readily concede it, provided he neither understands the ceremony alone, nor teaches that the ceremony profits ex opere operato. For just as among the sacrifices of praise, i.e., among the praises of God, we include the preaching of the Word, so the reception itself of the Lord's Supper can be praise or thanksgiving; but it does not justify ex opere operato; neither is it to be applied to others so as to merit for them the remission of sins. But after a while we shall explain how even a ceremony is a sacrifice. Yet, as Malachi speaks of all the services of the New Testament, and not only of the Lord's Supper; likewise, as he does not favor the pharisaic opinion of the opus operatum, he is not against us, but rather aids us. For he requires services of the heart, through which the name of the Lord becomes truly great.
34] Another passage also is cited from Malachi 3, 3: And He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering of righteousness. This passage clearly requires the sacrifices of the righteous, and hence does not favor the opinion concerning the opus operatum. But the sacrifices of the sons of Levi, i.e., of those teaching in the New Testament, are the preaching of the Gospel, and the good fruits of preaching, as Paul says, Rom. 15, 16: Ministering the Gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, i.e., that, the Gentiles might be offerings acceptable to God by faith, etc. For in the Law the slaying of victims signified both the death of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel, by which this oldness of flesh should be mortified, and the new and eternal life be begun in us.
But the adversaries everywhere perversely apply the name sacrifice to the ceremony alone. They omit the preaching of the Gospel, faith, prayer, and similar things, although the ceremony has been established on account of these, and the New Testament ought to have sacrifices of the heart, and not ceremonials for sin that are to be performed after the manner of the Levitical priesthood.
35] They cite also the daily sacrifice (cf. Ex. 29, 38f.; Dan. 8, 11f.; 12, 11), that, just as in the Law there was a daily sacrifice so the Mass ought to be a daily sacrifice of the New Testament. The adversaries have managed well if we permit ourselves to be overcome by allegories. It is evident, however, that allegories do not produce firm proofs [that in matters so highly important before God we must have a sure and clear word of God, and not introduce by force obscure and foreign passages; such uncertain explanations do not stand the test of God's judgment]. Although we indeed readily suffer the Mass to be understood as a daily sacrifice, provided that the entire Mass be understood, i.e., the ceremony with the preaching of the Gospel, faith, invocation, and thanksgiving. For these joined together are a daily sacrifice of the New Testament, because the ceremony [of the Mass, or the Lord's Supper] was instituted on account of these things; neither is it to be separated from these. Paul says accordingly, 1 Cor. 11, 26: As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come. But it in no way follows from this Levitical type that a ceremony justifying ex opere operato is necessary, or ought to be applied on behalf of others, that it may merit for them the remission of sins.
36] And the type aptly represents not only the ceremony, but also the preaching of the Gospel. In Num. 28, 4f. three parts of that daily sacrifice are represented, the burning of the lamb, the libation, and the oblation of wheat flour. The Law had pictures or shadows of future things. Accordingly, in this spectacle Christ and the entire worship of the New Testament are portrayed. The burning of the lamb signifies the death of Christ. The libation signifies that everywhere in the entire world, by the preaching of the Gospel, believers are sprinkled with the blood of that Lamb, i.e., sanctified, as Peter says, 1 Pet. 1, 2: Through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. The oblation of wheat flour signifies faith, prayer, and thanksgiving in hearts.
37] As, therefore, in the Old Testament, the shadow is perceived, so in the New the thing signified should be sought, and not another type, as sufficient for a sacrifice.
38] Therefore, although a ceremony is a memorial of Christ's death, nevertheless it alone is not the daily sacrifice; but the memory itself is the daily sacrifice, i.e., preaching and faith, which truly believes that, by the death of Christ, God has been reconciled. A libation is required, i.e., the effect of preaching, in order that, being sprinkled by the Gospel with the blood of Christ, we may be sanctified, as those put to death and made alive. Oblations also are required, i.e., thanksgiving, confessions, and afflictions.
Thus the pharisaic opinion
39] of the opus operatum being cast aside, let us understand that spiritual worship and a daily sacrifice of the heart are signified, because in the New Testament the substance of good things should be sought for [as Paul says: In the Old Testament is the shadow of things to come, but the body and the truth is in Christ], i.e., the Holy Ghost, mortification, and quickening.
40] From these things it is sufficiently apparent that the type of the daily sacrifice testifies nothing against us, but rather for us, because we seek for all the parts signified by the daily sacrifice. [We have clearly shown all the parts that belonged to the daily sacrifice in the law of Moses, that it must mean a true cordial offering, not an opus operatum.] The adversaries falsely imagine that the ceremony alone is signified, and not also the preaching of the Gospel, mortification, and quickening of heart, etc. [which is the best part of the Mass, whether they call it a sacrifice or anything else].
41] Now, therefore, good men will be able to judge readily that the complaint against us that we abolish the daily sacrifice is most false. Experience shows what sort of Antiochi they are who hold power in the Church; who under the pretext of religion assume to themselves the kingdom of the world, and who rule without concern for religion and the teaching of the Gospel; who wage war like kings of the world, and
42] have instituted new services in the Church. For in the Mass the adversaries retain only the ceremony, and publicly apply this to sacrilegious gain. Afterward they feign that this work, as applied on behalf of others,
43] merits for them grace and all good things. In their sermons they do not teach the Gospel, they do not console consciences, they do not show that sins are freely remitted for Christ's sake; but they set forth the worship of saints, human satisfactions, human traditions, and by these they affirm that men are justified before God. And although some of these traditions are manifestly godless, nevertheless they defend them by violence. If any preachers wish to be regarded more learned, they treat of philosophical questions, which neither the people nor even those who propose them understand. Lastly, those who are more tolerable teach the Law, and say nothing concerning the righteousness of faith.
44] The adversaries in the Confutation make a great ado concerning the desolation of churches, namely, that the altars stand unadorned, without candles and without images. These trifles they regard as ornaments to churches. [Although it is not true that we abolish all such outward ornaments; yet, even if it were so, Daniel is not speaking of such things as are altogether external and do not belong to the Christian Church.] It is a far different desolation
45] which Daniel 11, 31; 12, 11, means namely, ignorance of the Gospel. For the people, overwhelmed by the multitude and variety of traditions and opinions, were in no way able to embrace
46] the sum of Christian doctrine. [For the adversaries preach mostly of human ordinances, whereby consciences are led from Christ to confidence in their own works.] For who of the people ever understood the doctrine of repentance of which the adversaries treat? And yet this is the chief topic of Christian doctrine.
Consciences were tormented by the enumeration of offenses and by satisfactions. Of faith, by which we freely receive the remission of sins, no mention whatever was made by the adversaries. Concerning the exercises of faith, struggling with despair, and the free remission of sins for Christ's sake, all the books and all the sermons of the adversaries were silent [worse than worthless, and, moreover, caused untold damage].
47] To these, the horrible profanation of the masses and many other godless services in the churches were added. This is the desolation which Daniel describes.
48] On the contrary, by the favor of God, the priests among us attend to the ministry of the Word, teach the Gospel concerning the blessings of Christ, and show that the remission of sins occurs freely for Christ's sake. This doctrine brings sure consolation to consciences. The doctrine of [the Ten Commandments and] good works which God commands is also added. The worth and use of the Sacraments are declared.
49] But if the use of the Sacrament would be the daily sacrifice, nevertheless we would retain it rather than the adversaries, because with them priests hired for pay use the Sacrament. With us there is a more frequent and more conscientious use. For the people use it, but after having first been instructed and examined. For men are taught concerning the true use of the Sacrament that it was instituted for the purpose of being a seal and testimony of the free remission of sins, and that, accordingly, it ought to admonish alarmed consciences to be truly confident and believe that their sins are freely remitted. Since, therefore, we retain both the preaching of the Gospel and the lawful use of the Sacrament, the daily sacrifice remains with us.
50] And if we must speak of the outward appearance, attendance upon church is better among us than among the adversaries. For the audiences are held by useful and clear sermons. But neither the people nor the teachers have ever understood the doctrine of the adversaries. [There is nothing that so attaches people to the church as good preaching. But our adversaries preach their people out of the churches; for they teach nothing of the necessary parts of Christian doctrine; they narrate the legends of saints and other fables.] And
51] the true adornment of the churches is godly, useful, and clear doctrine, the devout use of the Sacraments, ardent prayer, and the like. Candles, golden vessels [tapers, altar-cloths, images), and similar adornments are becoming, but they are not the adornment that properly belongs to the Church. But if the adversaries make worship consist in such matters, and not in the preaching of the Gospel, in faith, and the conflicts of faith, they are to be numbered among those whom Daniel describes as worshiping their God with gold and silver, Dan. 11, 38.
52] They quote also from the Epistle to the Hebrews, 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. Hence they conclude that, since in the New Testament there are high priests and priests, it follows that there is also a sacrifice for sins. This passage particularly makes an impression on the unlearned, especially when the pomp of the priesthood [the garments of Aaron, since in the Old Testament there were many ornaments of gold, silver, and purple] and the sacrifices of the Old Testament are spread before the eyes. This resemblance deceives the ignorant, so that they judge that, according to the same manner, a ceremonial sacrifice ought to exist among us, which should be applied on behalf of the sins of others, just as in the Old Testament. Neither is the service of the masses and the rest of the polity of the Pope anything else than false zeal in behalf of the misunderstood Levitical polity. (They have not understood that the New Testament is occupied with other matters, and that, if such ceremonies are used for the training of the young, a limit must be fixed for them.]
53] And although our belief has its chief testimonies in the Epistle to the Hebrews, nevertheless the adversaries distort against us mutilated passages from this Epistle, as in this very passage, where it is said that every high priest is ordained to offer sacrifices for sins. Scripture itself immediately adds that Christ is High Priest, Heb. 5, 5. 6. 10. The preceding words speak of the Levitical priesthood, and signify that the Levitical priesthood was an image of the priesthood of Christ. For the Levitical sacrifices for sins did not merit the remission of sins before God; they were only an image of the sacrifice of Christ, which was to be the one propitiatory sacrifice, as we have said above.
54] Therefore the Epistle is occupied to a great extent with the topic that the ancient priesthood and the ancient sacrifices were instituted not for the purpose of meriting the remission of sins before God or reconciliation, but only to signify the future sacrifice of Christ alone.
55] For in the Old Testament it was necessary for saints to be justified by faith derived from the promise of the remission of sins that was to be granted for Christ's sake, just as saints are also justified in the New Testament. From the beginning of the world it was necessary for all saints to believe that Christ would be the promised offering and satisfaction for sins, as Isaiah 53, 10 teaches: When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin.
56] Since, therefore, in the Old Testament, sacrifices did not merit reconciliation, unless by a figure (for they merited civil reconciliation), but signified the coming sacrifice, it follows that Christ is the only sacrifice applied on behalf of the sins of others. Therefore, in the New Testament no sacrifice is left to be applied for the sins of others, except the one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross.
57] They altogether err who imagine that Levitical sacrifices merited the remission of sins before God, and, by this example in addition to the death of Christ, require in the New Testament sacrifices that are to be applied on behalf of others. This imagination absolutely destroys the merit of Christ's passion and the righteousness of faith, and corrupts the doctrine of the Old and New Testaments, and instead of Christ makes for us other mediators and propitiators out of the priests and sacrificers, who daily sell their work in the churches.
58] Therefore, if any one would thus infer that in the New Testament a priest is needed to make offering for sins, this must be conceded only of Christ. And the entire Epistle to the Hebrews confirms this explanation. And if, in addition to the death of Christ, we were to seek for any other satisfaction to be applied for the sins of others and to reconcile God, this would be nothing more than to make other mediators in addition to Christ.
59] Again, as the priesthood of the New Testament is the ministry of the Spirit, as Paul teaches 2 Cor. 3, 6, it, accordingly, has but the one sacrifice of Christ, which is satisfactory and applied for the sins of others. Besides, it has no sacrifices like the Levitical, which could be applied ex opere operato on behalf of others; but it tenders to others the Gospel and the Sacraments, that by means of these they may conceive faith and the Holy Ghost, and be mortified and quickened, because the ministry of the Spirit conflicts with the application of an opus operatum. [For, unless there is personal faith and a life wrought by the Holy Spirit, the opus operatum of another cannot render me godly nor save me.] For the ministry of the Spirit is that through which the Holy Ghost is efficacious in hearts; and therefore this ministry is profitable to others, when it is efficacious in them, and regenerates and quickens them. This does not occur by the application ex opere operato of the work of another on behalf of others.
60] We have shown the reason why the Mass does not justify ex opere operato, and why, when applied on behalf of others, it does not merit remission, because both conflict with the righteousness of faith. For it is impossible that remission of sins should occur, and the terrors of death and sin be overcome by any work or anything, except by faith in Christ, according to Rom. 5, 1: Being justified by faith, we have peace.
61] In addition, we have shown that the Scriptures, which are cited against us, in no way favor the godless opinion of the adversaries concerning the opus operatum. All good men among all nations can judge this.
62] Therefore the error of Thomas is to be rejected, who wrote: That the body of the Lord, once offered on the cross for original debt, is continually offered for daily offenses on the altar, in order that, in this, the Church might have
63] a service whereby to reconcile God to herself. The other common errors are also to be rejected, as, that the Mass ex opere operato confers grace upon one employing it; likewise, that when applied for others, even for wicked persons, provided they do not interpose an obstacle, it merits for them the remission of sins, of guilt and punishment. All these things are false and godless, and lately invented by unlearned monks, and obscure the glory of Christ's passion and the righteousness of faith.
64] And from these errors infinite others sprang, as, that the masses avail when applied for many, just as much as when applied individually. The sophists have particular degrees of merit, just as money-changers have grades of weight for gold or silver. Besides, they sell the Mass, as a price for obtaining what each one seeks: to merchants, that business may be prosperous; to hunters, that hunting may be successful; and infinite other things. Lastly, they apply it also to the dead; by the application of the Sacrament they liberate souls from the pains of purgatory; although without faith the Mass is of service not even to the living.
65] Neither are the adversaries able to produce even one syllable from the Scriptures in defense of these fables which they teach with great authority in the Church; neither do they have the testimonies of the ancient Church nor of the Fathers. [Therefore they are impious and blind people who knowingly despise and trample under foot the plain truth of God.]
66] And since we have explained the passages of Scripture which are cited against us, we must reply also concerning the Fathers. We are not ignorant that the Mass is called by the Fathers a sacrifice; but they do not mean that the Mass confers grace ex opere operato, and that, when applied on behalf of others, it merits for them the remission of sins, of guilt and punishment. Where are such monstrous stories to be found in the Fathers? But they openly testify that they are speaking of thanksgiving. Accordingly they call it a eucharist.
67] We have said above, however, that a eucharistic sacrifice does not merit reconciliation, but is made by those who have been reconciled, just as afflictions do not merit reconciliation, but are eucharistic sacrifices when those who have been reconciled endure them.
And this reply, in general, to the sayings of the Fathers defends us sufficiently against the adversaries. For it is certain that these figments concerning the merit of the opus operatum are found nowhere in the Fathers. But in order that the whole case may be the better understood, we also shall state those things concerning the use of the Sacrament which actually harmonize with the Fathers and Scripture.
68] Some clever men imagine that the Lord's Supper was instituted for two reasons. First, that it might be a mark and testimony of profession, just as a particular shape of hood is the sign of a particular profession. Then they think that such a mark was especially pleasing to Christ, namely, a feast to signify mutual union and friendship among Christians, because banquets are signs of covenant and friendship. But this is a secular view; neither does it show the chief use of the things delivered by God; it speaks only of the exercise of love, which men, however profane and worldly, understand; it does not speak of faith, the nature of which few understand.
69] The Sacraments are signs of God's will toward us, and not merely signs of men among each other; and they are right in defining that Sacraments in the New Testament are signs of grace. And because in a sacrament there are two things, a sign and the Word, the Word, in the New Testament, is the promise of grace added. The promise of the New Testament is the promise of the remission of sins, as the text, Luke 22, 19, says: This is My body, which is given for you. This cup is the New Testament in My blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
70] Therefore the Word offers the remission of sins. And a ceremony is, as it were, a picture or seal, as Paul, Rom. 4, 11, calls it, of the Word, making known the promise. Therefore, just as the promise is useless unless it is received by faith, so a ceremony is useless unless such faith is added as is truly confident that the remission of sins is here offered. And this faith encourages contrite minds. And just as the Word has been given in order to excite this faith, so the Sacrament has been instituted in order that the outward appearance meeting the eyes might move the heart to believe [and strengthen faith]. For through these, namely, through Word and Sacrament, the Holy Ghost works.
71] And such use of the Sacrament, in which faith quickens terrified hearts, is a service of the New Testament, because the New Testament requires spiritual dispositions, mortification and quickening. [For according to the New Testament the highest service of God is rendered inwardly in the heart.] And for this use Christ instituted it, since He commanded them thus to do in remembrance of Him.
72] For to remember Christ is not the idle celebration of a show [not something that is accomplished only by some gestures and actions], or one instituted for the sake of example, as the memory of Hercules or Ulysses is celebrated in tragedies, but it is to remember the benefits of Christ and receive them by faith, so as to be quickened by them. Psalm 111, 4. 5 accordingly says: He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. He hath given meat unto them that fear Him. For it signifies that the will and mercy of God should be discerned in the
73] ceremony. But that faith which apprehends mercy quickens. And this is the principal use of the Sacrament, in which it is apparent who are fit for the Sacrament, namely, terrified consciences, and how they ought to use it.
74] The sacrifice [thankoffering or thanksgiving] also is added. For there are several ends for one object. After conscience encouraged by faith has perceived from what terrors it is freed, then indeed it fervently gives thanks for the benefit and passion of Christ, and uses the ceremony itself to the praise of God, in order by this obedience to show its gratitude; and testifies that it holds in high esteem the gifts of God. Thus the ceremony becomes a sacrifice of praise.
75] And the Fathers, indeed, speak of a two-fold effect, of the comfort of consciences, and of thanksgiving, or praise. The former of these effects pertains to the nature [the right use] of the Sacrament; the latter pertains to the sacrifice. Of consolation Ambrose says: Go to Him and be absolved, because He is the remission of sins. Do you ask who He is? Hear Him when He says, John 6, 35: I am the Bread of life; he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on He shall never thirst. This passage testifies that in the Sacrament the remission of sins is offered; it also testifies that this ought to be received by faith. Infinite testimonies to this effect are found in the Fathers, all of which the adversaries pervert to the opus operatum, and to a work to be applied on behalf of others; although the Fathers clearly require faith, and speak of the consolation belonging to every one, and not of the application.
76] Besides these, expressions are also found concerning thanksgiving, such as that most beautifully said by Cyprian concerning those communing in a godly way. Piety, says he, in thanking the Bestower of such abundant blessing, makes a distinction between what has been given and what has been forgiven, i.e., piety regards both what has been given and what has been forgiven, i.e., it compares the greatness of God's blessings and the greatness of our evils, sin and death, with each other, and gives thanks, etc. And hence the term eucharist arose in the Church.
77] Nor indeed is the ceremony itself, the giving of thanks ex opere operato, to be applied on behalf of others, in order to merit for them the remission of sins, etc., in order to liberate the souls of the dead. These things conflict with the righteousness of faith; as though, without faith, a ceremony can profit either the one performing it or others.
78] The adversaries also refer us to philology. From the names of the Mass they derive arguments which do not require a long discussion. For even though the Mass be called a sacrifice, it does not follow that it must confer grace ex opere operato, or, when applied on behalf of others, merit for them the remission of sins, etc.
79] Leitourgiva, they say, signifies a sacrifice, and the Greeks call the Mass, liturgy. Why do they here omit the old appellation synaxis, which shows that the Mass was formerly the communion of many? But let us speak of the word liturgy. This word does not properly signify a, sacrifice, but rather the public ministry, and agrees aptly with our belief, namely, that one minister who consecrates tenders the body and blood of the Lord to the rest of the people, just as one minister who preaches tenders the Gospel to the people, as Paul says, 1 Cor. 4, 1: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God, i.e., of the Gospel and the Sacraments. And 2 Cor. 5, 20: We are ambassadors for Christ, as
81] though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled to God. Thus the term leitourgiva agrees aptly with the ministry. For it is an old word, ordinarily employed in public civil administrations, and signified to the Greeks public burdens, as tribute, the expense of equipping a fleet, or similar things, as the oration of Demosthenes, For Leptines, testifies, all of which is occupied with the discussion of public duties and immunities: Fhvsei de; ajnaxivou" tinaV" ajnqrwvpou" euJromevnou" ajtevleian ejkdedukevnai ta;" leitourgiva", i.e.: He will say that some unworthy men, having found an immunity, have withdrawn from public burdens. And thus they spoke in the time of the Romans, as the rescript of Pertinax, De Iure Immunitatis, l. Semper, shows: Eij kai; mh; pasw'n leitourgiw'n tou;: patevra" oJ tw'n tevknwn ajriqmo;" ajnei'tai, Even though the number of children does not liberate parents from all public burdens. And the Commentary upon Demosthenes states that leitourgiva is a kind of tribute, the expense of the games, the expense of equipping vessels, of attending to the gymnasia and similar public offices.
82] And Paul in 2 Cor. 9, 12 employs it for a collection. The taking of the collection not only supplies those things which are wanting to the saints, but also causes them to give more thanks abundantly to God, etc. And in Phil. 2, 25 he calls Epaphroditus a leitourgov", one who ministered to my wants,
83] where assuredly a sacrificer cannot be understood. But there is no need of more testimonies, since examples are everywhere obvious to those reading the Greek writers, in whom leitourgiva is employed for public civil burdens or ministries. And on account of the diphthong, grammarians do not derive it from lithv, which signifies prayers, but from public goods, which they call lei'ta, so that leitourgevw means, I attend to, I administer public goods.
84] Ridiculous is their inference that, since mention is made in the Holy Scriptures of an altar, therefore the Mass must be a sacrifice; for the figure of an altar is referred to by Paul only by way of comparison.
85] And they fabricate that the Mass has been so called from jbzm
, an altar. What need is there of an etymology so far fetched, unless it be to show their knowledge of the Hebrew language? What need is there to seek the etymology from a distance, when the term Mass is found in Deut. 16, 10, where it signifies the collections or gifts of the people, not the offering of the priest? For individuals coming to the celebration
86] of the Passover were obliged to bring some gift as a contribution. In the beginning the Christians also retained this custom. Coming together, they brought bread, wine, and other things, as the Canons of the Apostles testify. Thence a part was taken to be consecrated; the rest was distributed to the poor. With this custom they also retained Mass as the name of the contributions. And on account of such contributions it appears also that the Mass was elsewhere called ajgavph, unless one would prefer that it was so called on account of the common feast.
87] But let us omit these trifles. For it is ridiculous that the adversaries should produce such trifling conjectures concerning a matter of such great importance. For although the Mass is called an offering, in what does the term favor the dreams concerning the opus operatum, and the application which, they imagine, merits for others the remission of sins? And it can be called an offering for the reason that prayers, thanksgivings, and the entire worship are there offered, as it is also called a eucharist. But neither ceremonies nor prayers profit ex opere operato, without faith. Although we are disputing here not concerning prayers, but particularly concerning the Lord's Supper.
[Here you can see what rude asses our adversaries are. They say that the term missa is derived from the term misbeach, which signifies an altar; hence we are to conclude that the Mass is a sacrifice; for sacrifices are offered on an altar. Again, the word liturgia, by which the Greeks call the Mass, is also to denote a sacrifice. This claim we shall briefly answer. All the world sees that from such reasons this heathenish and antichristian error does not follow necessarily, that the Mass benefits ex opere operato sine bono motu utentis. Therefore they are asses, because in such a highly important matter they bring forward such silly things. Nor do the asses know any grammar. For missa and liturgia do not mean sacrifice. Missa, in Hebrew, denotes a joint contribution. For this may have been a custom among Christians, that they brought meat and drink for the benefit of the poor to their assemblies. This custom was derived from the Jews, who had to bring such contributions on their festivals; these they called missa. Likewise, liturgia, in Greek, really denotes an office in which a person ministers to the congregation. This is well applied to our teaching, because with us the priest, as a common servant of those who wish to commune, ministers to them the holy Sacrament.
Some think that missa is not derived from the Hebrew, but signifies as much as remissio, the forgiveness of sin. For, the communion being ended, the announcement used to be made: Ite, missa est: Depart, you have forgiveness of sins. They cite, as proof that this is so, the fact that the Greeks used to say: Lais Aphesis (laoi'" a[fesi"), which also means that they had been pardoned. If this were so, it would be an excellent meaning; for in connection with this ceremony forgiveness of sins must always be preached and proclaimed. But the case before us is little aided, no matter what the meaning of the word missa is.]
88] The Greek canon says also many things concerning the offering, but it shows plainly that it is not speaking properly of the body and blood of the Lord, but of the whole service, of prayers and thanksgivings. For it says thus: Kai; poivhson hJma;" ajxivou" genevsqai tou' prosfevrein soi dehvsei" kai; iJkesiva" kai; qusiva" ajnaimavktou" uJpe;r panto;" laou'. When this is rightly understood, it gives no offense. For it prays that we be made worthy to offer prayers and supplications and bloodless sacrifices for the people. For he calls even prayers bloodless sacrifices. Just as also a little afterward: [Eti prosfevromevn soi th;n logikh;n tauvthn kai; ajnaivmakton latreivan, We offer, he says, this reasonable and bloodless service. For they explain this inaptly who would rather interpret this of a reasonable sacrifice, and transfer it to the very body of Christ, although the canon speaks of the entire worship, and in opposition to the opus operatum Paul has spoken of logikh; latreiva [reasonable service], namely, of the worship of the mind, of fear, of faith, of prayer, of thanksgiving, etc.
89] Our adversaries have no testimonies and no command from Scripture for defending the application of the ceremony for liberating the souls of the dead, although from this they derive infinite revenue. Nor, indeed, is it a light sin to establish such services in the Church without the command of God and without the example of Scripture, and to apply to the dead the Lord's Supper, which was instituted for commemoration and preaching among the living [for the purpose of strengthening the faith of those who use the ceremony]. This is to violate the Second Commandment, by abusing God's name.
For, in the first place, it is a dishonor to the Gospel to hold that a ceremony ex opere operato, without faith, is a sacrifice reconciling God, and making satisfaction for sins. It is horrible saying to ascribe as much to the work of a priest as to the death of Christ. Again, sin and death cannot be overcome unless by faith in Christ, as Paul teaches, Rom. 5, 1: Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, and therefore the punishment of purgatory cannot be overcome by the application of the work of another.
90] Now we shall omit the sort of testimonies concerning purgatory that the adversaries have: what kinds of punishments they think there are in purgatory; what grounds the doctrine of satisfactions has, which we have shown above to be most vain. We shall only present this in opposition: It is certain that the Lord's Supper was instituted on account of the remission of guilt. For it offers the remission of sins, where it is necessary that guilt be truly understood. (For what consolation would we have if forgiveness of sin were here offered us, and yet there would be no remission of guilt?] And nevertheless it does not make satisfaction for guilt; otherwise the Mass would be equal to the death of Christ. Neither can the remission of guilt be received in any other way than by faith. Therefore the Mass is not a satisfaction, but a promise and Sacrament that require faith.
91] And, indeed, it is necessary that all godly persons be seized with the most bitter grief [shed tears of blood, from anguish and sorrow] if they consider that the Mass has been in great part transferred to the dead and to satisfactions for punishments. This is to banish the daily sacrifice from the Church; this is the kingdom of Antiochus, who transferred the most salutary promises concerning the remission of guilt and concerning faith to the most vain opinions concerning satisfactions; this is to defile the Gospel, to corrupt the use of the Sacraments. These are the persons [the real blasphemers] whom Paul has said, 1 Cor. 11, 27, to be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, who have suppressed the doctrine concerning faith and the remission of sins, and, under the pretext of satisfactions, have devoted the body and blood of the Lord to sacrilegious gain. And they will at some time pay the penalty for this sacrilege. [God will one day vindicate the Second Commandment, and pour out a great, horrible wrath upon them.] Therefore we and all godly consciences should be on our guard against approving the abuses of the adversaries.
92] But let us return to the case. Since the Mass is not a satisfaction, either for punishment or for guilt, ex opere operato, without faith, it follows that the application on behalf of the dead is useless. Nor is there need here of a longer discussion. For it is evident that these applications on behalf of the dead have no testimonies from the Scriptures. Neither is it safe, without the authority of Scripture, to institute forms of worship in the Church. And if it will at any time be necessary, we shall speak at greater length concerning this entire subject. For why should we now contend with adversaries who understand neither what a sacrifice, nor what a sacrament, nor what remission of sins, nor what faith is?
93] Neither does the Greek canon apply the offering as a satisfaction for the dead, because it applies it equally for all the blessed patriarchs, prophets, apostles. It appears therefore that the Greeks make an offering as thanksgiving, and do not apply it as satisfaction for punishments. [For, of course, it is not their intention to deliver the prophets and apostles from purgatory, but only to offer up thanks along and together with them for the exalted eternal blessings that have been given to them and us.] Although they speak, moreover, not of the offering alone of the body and blood of the Lord, but of the other parts of the Mass, namely, prayers and thanksgiving. For after the consecration they pray that it may profit those who partake of it; they do not speak of others. Then they add: [Eti prosfevromevn soi th;n logikh;n tauvthn latreivan uJper tw'n ejn pivstei ajnapausamevnwn propatovrwn, patevrwn, patriarcw'n, profhtw'n, ajpostovlwn, etc. ["Yet we offer to you this reasonable service for those having departed in faith, forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles," etc.] Reasonable service, however, does not signify the offering itself, but prayers and all things which are there transacted.
94] Now, as regards the adversaries' citing the Fathers concerning the offering for the dead, we know that the ancients speak of prayer for the dead, which we do not prohibit; but we disapprove of the application ex opere operato of the Lord's Supper on behalf of the dead. Neither do the ancients favor the adversaries concerning the opus operatum. And even though they have the testimonies especially of Gregory or the moderns,
95] we oppose to them the most clear and certain Scriptures. And there is a great diversity among the Fathers. They were men, and could err and be deceived. Although if they would now become alive again, and would see their sayings assigned as pretexts for the notorious falsehoods which the adversaries teach concerning the opus operatum, they would interpret themselves far differently.
96] The adversaries also falsely cite against us the condemnation of Aerius, who, they say, was condemned for the reason that he denied that in the Mass an offering is made for the living and the dead. They frequently use this dexterous turn, cite the ancient heresies, and falsely compare our cause with these in order by this comparison to crush us. [The asses are not ashamed of any lies. Nor do they know who Aerius was and what he taught.] Epiphanius testifies that Aerius held that prayers for the dead are useless. With this he finds fault. Neither do we favor Aerius, but we on our part are contending with you who are defending a heresy manifestly conflicting with the prophets, apostles, and holy Fathers, namely, that the Mass justifies ex opere operato, that it merits the remission of guilt and punishment even for the unjust, to whom it is applied, if they do not present an obstacle. Of these pernicious errors, which detract from the glory of Christ's passion, and entirely overthrow the doctrine concerning the righteousness of faith, we disapprove.
97] There was a similar persuasion of the godless in the Law, namely, that they merited the remission of sins, not freely by faith, but through sacrifices ex opere operato. Therefore they increased these services and sacrifices, instituted the worship of Baal in Israel, and even sacrificed in the groves in Judah. Therefore the prophets condemn this opinion, and wage war not only with the worshipers of Baal, but also with other priests who, with this godless opinion, made sacrifices ordained by God. But this opinion inheres in the world, and always will inhere, namely, that services and sacrifices are propitiations. Carnal men cannot endure that alone to the sacrifice of Christ the honor is ascribed that it is a propitiation, because they do not understand the righteousness of faith, but ascribe equal honor to the rest of the services and sacrifices.
98] Just as, therefore, in Judah among the godless priests a false opinion concerning sacrifices inhered; just as in Israel, Baalitic services continued, and, nevertheless, a Church of God was there which disapproved of godless services, so Baalitic worship inheres in the domain of the Pope, namely, the abuse of the Mass, which they apply, that by it they may merit for the unrighteous the remission of guilt and punishment. [And yet, as God still kept His Church, i.e., some saints, in Israel and Judah, so God still preserved His Church, i.e., some saints, under the Papacy, so that the Christian Church has not entirely perished.] And it seems that this Baalitic worship will endure as long as the reign of the Pope, until Christ will come to judge, and by the glory of His advent destroy the reign of Antichrist. Meanwhile all who truly believe the Gospel [that they may truly honor God and have a constant comfort against sins; for God has graciously caused His Gospel to shine, that we might be warned and saved] ought to condemn these wicked services, devised, contrary to God's command, in order to obscure the glory of Christ and the righteousness of faith.
99] We have briefly said these things of the Mass in order that all good men in all parts of the world may be able to understand that with the greatest zeal we maintain the dignity of the Mass and show its true use, and that we have the most just reasons for dissenting from the adversaries. And we would have all good men admonished not to aid the adversaries in the profanation of the Mass, lest they burden themselves with other men's sin. It is a great cause and a great subject, not inferior to the transaction of the prophet Elijah, who condemned the worship of Baal. We have presented a case of such importance with the greatest moderation, and now reply without casting any reproach. But if the adversaries will compel us to collect all kinds of abuses of the Mass, the case will not be treated with such forbearance.
1] In the town of Eisenach, in Thuringia, there was, to our knowledge, a monk, John Hilten, who, thirty years ago, was cast by his fraternity into prison because he had protested against certain most notorious abuses. For we have seen his writings, from which it can be well understood what the nature of his doctrine was [that he was a Christian, and preached according to the Scriptures]. And those who knew him testify that he was a mild old man, and serious indeed,
2] but without moroseness. He predicted many things, some of which have thus far transpired, and others still seem to impend, which we do not wish to recite, lest it may be inferred that they are narrated either from hatred toward one or from partiality to another. But finally, when, either on account of his age or the foulness of the prison, he fell into disease, he sent for the guardian in order to tell him of his sickness; and when the guardian, inflamed with pharisaic hatred, had begun to reprove the man harshly on account of his kind of doctrine, which seemed to be injurious to the kitchen, then, omitting all mention of his sickness, he said with a sigh that he was bearing these injuries patiently for Christ's sake, since he had indeed neither written nor taught anything which could overthrow the position of the monks, but had only protested against some well-known abuses.
3] But another one, he said, will come in A. D. 1516, who will destroy You, neither will you be able to resist him. This very opinion concerning the downward career of the power of the monks, and this number of years, his friends afterwards found also written by him in his commentaries, which he had left, concerning certain passages of Daniel.
4] But although the outcome will teach how much weight should be given to this declaration, yet there are other signs which threaten a change in the power of the monks, that are no less certain than oracles. For it is evident how much hypocrisy, ambition, avarice there is in the monasteries, how much ignorance and cruelty among all the unlearned, what vanity in their sermons and in devising continually new means of gaining money. [The more stupid asses the monks are, the more stubborn, furious, bitter, the more venomous asps they are in persecuting the truth and the Word of God.]
5] And there are other faults, which we do not care to mention. While they once were [not jails or everlasting prisons, but] schools for Christian instruction, now they have degenerated, as though from a golden to an iron age, or as the Platonic cube degenerates into bad harmonies, which, Plato says, brings destruction. [Now this precious gold is turned to dross, and the wine to water.] All the most wealthy monasteries support only an idle crowd, which gluttonizes upon
6] the public alms of the Church. Christ, however, teaches concerning the salt that has lost its savor that it should be cast out and be trodden under foot, Matt. 5, 13. Therefore
7] the monks by such morals are singing their own fate [requiem, and it will soon be over with them]. And now another sign is added, because they are, in many places, the instigators of the death of good men. [This blood of Abel cries against them and] These murders God undoubtedly will shortly avenge.
8] Nor indeed do we find fault with all; for we are of the opinion that there are here and there some good men in the monasteries who judge moderately concerning human and factitious services, as some writers call them, and who do not approve of the cruelty which the hypocrites among them exercise.
9] But we are now discussing the kind of doctrine which the composers of the Confutation are now defending, and not the question whether vows should be observed. For we hold that lawful vows ought to be observed; but whether these services merit the remission of sins and justification; whether they are satisfactions for sins; whether they are equal to Baptism; whether they are the observance of precepts and counsels; whether they are evangelical perfection; whether they have the merits of supererogation; whether these merits, when applied on behalf of others, save them; whether vows made with these opinions are lawful; whether vows are lawful that are undertaken under the pretext of religion, merely for the sake of the belly and idleness; whether those are truly vows that have been extorted either from the unwilling, or from those who on account of age were not able to judge concerning the kind of life, whom parents or friends thrust into the monasteries that they might be supported at the public expense, without the loss of private patrimony; whether vows are lawful that openly tend to an evil issue, either because on account of weakness they are not observed, or because those who are in these fraternities are compelled
10] to approve and aid the abuses of the Mass, the godless worship of saints, and the counsels to rage against good men: concerning these questions we are treating. And although we have said very many things in the Confession concerning such vows as even the canons of the Popes condemn, nevertheless the adversaries command that all things which we have produced be rejected. For they have used these words.
And it is worth while to hear how they pervert our reasons, and what they adduce to fortify their own cause. Accordingly, we will briefly run over a few of our arguments, and, in passing, explain away the sophistry of the adversaries in reference to them. Since, however, this entire cause has been carefully and fully treated by Luther in the book to which he gave the title De Votis Monasticis, we wish here to consider that book as reiterated.
11] First, it is very certain that a vow is not lawful by which he who vows thinks that he merits the remission of sins before God, or makes satisfaction before God for sins. For this opinion is a manifest insult to the Gospel, which teaches that the remission of sins is freely granted us for Christ's sake, as has been said above at some length. Therefore we have correctly quoted the declaration of Paul to the Galatians, Gal. 5, 4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law; ye are fallen from grace. Those who seek the remission of sins, not by faith in Christ, but by monastic works, detract from the honor of Christ, and crucify Christ afresh. But hear, hear how the composers of the Confutation escape in this place!
12] They explain this passage of Paul only concerning the Law of Moses, and they add that observe all things for Christ's sake, and endeavor to live the nearer the Gospel in order to merit eternal life. And they add a horrible peroration in these words: Wherefore those things are wicked that are here
13] alleged against monasticism. O Christ, how long wilt Thou bear these reproaches with which our enemies treat Thy Gospel? We have said in the Confession that the remission of sins is received freely for Christ's sake, through faith. If this is not the very voice of the Gospel, if it is not the judgment of the eternal Father, which Thou who art in the bosom of the Father hast revealed to the world, we are justly blamed. But Thy death is a witness, Thy resurrection is a witness, the Holy Ghost is a witness, Thy entire Church is a witness, that it is truly the judgment of the Gospel that we obtain remission of sins, not on account of our merits, but on account of Thee, through faith.
14] When Paul denies that by the Law of Moses men merit the remission of sins, he withdraws this praise much more from human traditions; and this he clearly testifies Col. 2, 16. If the Law of Moses, which was divinely revealed, did not merit the remission of sins, how much less do these silly observances [monasticism, rosaries, etc.], averse to the civil custom of life, merit the remission of sins!
15] The adversaries feign that Paul abolishes the Law of Moses, and that Christ succeeds in such a way that He does not freely grant the remission of sins, but on account of the works of other laws, if any
16] are now devised. By this godless and fanatical imagination they bury the benefit of Christ. Then they feign that among those who observe this Law of Christ, the monks observe it more closely than others, on account of their hypocritical poverty, obedience, and chastity, since indeed all these things are full of sham. In the greatest abundance of all things they boast of poverty. Although no class of men has greater license than the monks [who have masterfully decreed that they are exempt from obedience to bishops and princes], they boast of obedience. Of celibacy we do not like to speak; how pure this is in most of those who desire to be continent, Gerson indicates. And how many of them desire to be continent [not to mention the thoughts of their hearts]?
17] Of course, in this sham life the monks live more closely in accordance with the Gospel! Christ does not succeed Moses in such a way as to remit sins on account of our works, but so as to set His own merits and His own propitiation on our behalf against God's wrath, that we may be freely forgiven. Now, he who, apart from Christ's propitiation, opposes his own merits to God's wrath, and on account of his own merits endeavors to obtain the remission of sins, whether he present the works of the Mosaic Law, or of the Decalog, or of the rule of Benedict, or of the rule of Augustine, or of other rules, annuls the promise of Christ, has cast away Christ, and has fallen from grace. This is the verdict of Paul.
18] But, behold, most clement Emperor Charles, behold, ye princes, behold, all ye ranks, how, great is the impudence of the adversaries! Although we have cited the declaration of Paul to this effect, they have written: Wicked are those things that are here cited against monasticism. But what
19] is more certain than that men obtain the remission of sins by faith for Christ's sake? And these wretches dare to call this a wicked opinion! We do not at all doubt that if you had been advised of this passage, you would have taken [will take] care that such blasphemy be removed from the Confutation.
But since it has been fully shown above that the opinion
20] is wicked, that we obtain the remission of sins on account of our works, we shall be briefer at this place. For the prudent reader will easily be able to reason thence that we do not merit the remission of sins by monastic works. Therefore this blasphemy also is in no way to be endured which is read in Thomas, that the monastic profession is equal to Baptism. It is madness to make human tradition, which has neither God's command nor promise, equal to the ordinance of Christ, which has both the command and promise of God, which contains the covenant of grace and of eternal life.
21] Secondly. Obedience, poverty, and celibacy, provided the latter is not impure, are, as exercises, adiaphora [in which we are not to look for either sin or righteousness]. And for this reason the saints can use these without impiety, just as Bernard, Franciscus, and other holy men used them. And they used them on account of bodily advantage, that they might have more leisure to teach and to perform other godly offices, and not that the works themselves are, by themselves, works that justify or merit eternal life. Finally, they belong to the class of which Paul says, 1 Tim. 4, 8: Bodily exercise
22] profiteth little. And it is credible that in some places there are also at present good men, engaged in the ministry of the Word, who use these observances without wicked opinions [without hypocrisy and with the understanding that they do not regard their monasticism as holiness].
23] But to hold that these observances are services on account of which they are accounted just before God, and through which they merit eternal life, conflicts with the Gospel concerning the righteousness of faith, which teaches that for Christ's sake righteousness and eternal life are granted us. It conflicts also with the saying of Christ, Matt. 15, 9: In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. It conflicts also with this statement, Rom. 14, 23: Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. But how can they affirm that they are services which God approves as righteousness before Him when they have no testimony of God's Word?
24] But look at the impudence of the adversaries! They not only teach that these observances are justifying services, but they add that these services are more perfect, i.e., meriting more the remission of sins and justification, than do other kinds of life [that they are states of perfection, i.e., holier and higher states than the rest, such as marriage, rulership]. And here many false and pernicious opinions concur. They imagine that they [are the most holy people who] observe [not only] precepts and [but also] counsels [that is, the superior counsels, which Scripture issues concerning exalted gifts, not by way of command, but of advice]. Afterwards these liberal men, since they dream that they have the merits of supererogation, sell these
25] to others. All these things are full of pharisaic vanity. For it is the height of impiety, to hold that they satisfy the Decalog in such a way that merits remain, while such precepts as these are accusing all the saints: Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thine heart, Deut. 6, 5. Likewise: Thou shalt not covet, Rom. 7, 7. [For as the First Commandment of God (Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind) is higher than a man upon earth can comprehend, as it is the highest theology, from which all the prophets and all the apostles have drawn as from a spring their best and highest doctrines; yea, as it is such an exalted commandment, according to which alone all divine service, all honor to God, every offering, all thanksgiving in heaven and upon earth, must be regulated and judged, so that all divine service, high and precious and holy though it appear, if it be not in accordance with this commandment, is nothing but husks and shells without a kernel, yea, nothing but filth and abomination before God; which exalted commandment no saint whatever has perfectly fulfilled, so that even Noah and Abraham, David, Peter and Paul acknowledged themselves imperfect and sinners: it is an unheard-of, pharisaic, yea, an actually diabolical pride for a sordid Barefooted monk or any similar godless hypocrite to say, yea, preach and teach, that he has observed and fulfilled the holy high commandment so perfectly, and according to the demands and will of God has done so many good works, that merit even superabounds to him. Yea, dear hypocrites, if the holy Ten Commandments and the exalted First Commandment of God were fulfilled as easily as the bread and remnants are put into the sack! They are shameless hypocrites with whom the world is plagued in this last time.] The prophet says, Ps. 116, 11: All men are liars, i.e., not thinking aright concerning God, not fearing God sufficiently, not believing Him sufficiently. Therefore the monks falsely boast that in the observance of a monastic life the commandments are fulfilled, and more is done than what is commanded [that their good works and several hundred-weights of superfluous, superabundant holiness remain in store for them].
26] Again, this also is false, namely, that monastic observances are works of the counsels of the Gospel. For the Gospel does not advise concerning distinctions of clothing and meats and the renunciation of property. These are human traditions, concerning all of which it has been said, 1 Cor. 8, 8: Meat commendeth us not to God. Therefore they are neither justifying services nor perfection; yea, when they are presented covered with these titles, they are mere doctrines of demons.
27] Virginity is recommended, but to those who have the gift, as has been said above. It is, however, a most pernicious error to hold that evangelical perfection lies in human traditions. For thus the monks even of the Mohammedans would be able to boast that they have evangelical perfection. Neither does it he in the observance of other things which are called adiaphora, but because the kingdom of God is righteousness and life in hearts, Rom. 14, 17, perfection is growth in the fear of God, and in confidence in the mercy promised in Christ, and in devotion to one's calling; just as Paul also describes perfection 2 Cor. 3, 18: We are changed from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. He does not say: We are continually receiving another hood, or other sandals, or other girdles. It is deplorable that in the Church such pharisaic, yea, Mohammedan expressions should be read and heard as, that the perfection of the Gospel, of the kingdom of Christ, which is eternal life, should be placed in these foolish observances of vestments and of similar trifles.
28] Now hear our Areopagites [excellent teachers] as to what an unworthy declaration they have recorded in the Confutation. Thus they say: It has been expressly declared in the Holy Scriptures that the monastic life merits eternal life if maintained by a due observance, which by the grace of God any monk can maintain; and, indeed, Christ has promised this as much more abundant to those who have left home or brothers, etc., Matt. 19, 29.
29] These are the words of the adversaries, in which it is first said most impudently that it is expressed in the Holy Scriptures that a monastic life merits eternal life. For where do the Holy Scriptures speak of a monastic life? Thus the adversaries plead their case, thus men of no account quote the Scriptures. Although no one is ignorant that the monastic life has recently been devised, nevertheless they cite the authority of Scripture, and say, too, that this their decree has been expressly declared in the Scriptures.
30] Besides, they dishonor Christ when they say that by monasticism men merit eternal life. God has ascribed not even to His Law the honor that it should merit eternal life, as He clearly says in Ezek. 20, 25: I gave them also statutes that were not good,
31] and judgments whereby they should not live. In the first place, it is certain that a monastic life does not merit the remission of sins, but we obtain this by faith freely, as has been said above.
32] Secondly, for Christ's sake, through mercy, eternal life is granted to those who by faith receive remission, and do not set their own merits against God's judgment, as Bernard also says with very great force: It is necessary first of all to believe that you cannot have the remission of sins unless by God's indulgence. Secondly, that you can have no good work whatever, unless He has given also this. Lastly, that you can merit eternal life by no works, unless this also is given freely. The rest that follows to the same effect we have above recited. Moreover, Bernard adds at the end: Let no one deceive himself, because if he will reflect well, he will undoubtedly find that with ten thousand he cannot meet Him [namely, God] who cometh against him with twenty thousand.
33] Since, however, we do not merit the remission of sins or eternal life by the works of the divine Law, but it is necessary to seek the mercy promised in Christ, much less is this honor of meriting the remission of sins or eternal life to be ascribed to monastic observances, since they are mere human traditions.
34] Thus those who teach that the monastic life merits the remission of sins or eternal life, and transfer the confidence due Christ to these foolish observances, altogether suppress the Gospel concerning the free remission of sins and the promised mercy in Christ that is to be apprehended. Instead of Christ they worship their own hoods and their own filth. But since even they need mercy, they act wickedly in fabricating works of supererogation, and selling them [their superfluous claim upon heaven] to others.
35] We speak the more briefly concerning these subjects, because from those things which we have said above concerning justification, concerning repentance, concerning human traditions, it is sufficiently evident that monastic vows are not a price on account of which the remission of sins and life eternal are granted. And since Christ calls traditions useless services, they are in no way evangelical perfection.
36] But the adversaries cunningly wish to appear as if they modify the common opinion concerning perfection. They say that a monastic life is not perfection, but that it is a state in which to acquire perfection. It is prettily phrased! We remember that this correction is found in Gerson. For it is apparent that prudent men, offended by these immoderate praises of monastic life, since they did not venture to remove entirely from it the praise of perfection, have added the correction that it is a state in which to acquire perfection.
37] If we follow this, monasticism will be no more a state of perfection than the life of a farmer or mechanic. For these are also, states in which to acquire perfection. For all men, in every vocation, ought to seek perfection, that is, to grow in the fear of God, in faith, in love towards one's neighbor, and similar spiritual virtues.
38] In the histories of the hermits there are examples of Anthony and of others which make the various spheres of life equal. It is written that when Anthony asked God to show him what progress he was making in this kind of life, a certain shoemaker in the city of Alexandria was indicated to him in a dream to whom he should be compared. The next day Anthony came into the city, and went to the shoemaker in order to ascertain his exercises and gifts, and, having conversed with the man, heard nothing except that early in the morning he prayed in a few words for the entire state, and then attended to his trade. Here Anthony learned that justification is not to be ascribed to the kind of life which he had entered [what God had meant by the revelation; for we are justified before God not through this or that life, but alone through faith in Christ].
39] But although the adversaries now moderate their praises concerning perfection, yet they actually think otherwise. For they sell merits, and apply them on behalf of others, under the pretext that they are observing precepts and counsels; hence they actually hold that they have superfluous merits. But what is it to arrogate to one's self perfection, if this is not? Again, it has been laid down in the Confutation that the monks endeavor to live more nearly in accordance with the Gospel. Therefore it ascribes perfection to human traditions if they are living more nearly in accordance with the Gospel by not having property, being unmarried, and obeying the rule in clothing, meats, and like trifles.
40] Again, the Confutation says that the monks merit eternal life the more abundantly, and quotes Scripture, Matt. 19, 29: Every one that hath forsaken houses, etc. Accordingly, here, too, it claims perfection also for factitious religious rites. But this passage of Scripture in no way favors monastic life. For Christ does not mean that to forsake parents, wife, brethren, is a work that must be done because it merits the remission of sins and eternal life. Yea, such a, forsaking is cursed. For if any one forsakes parents or wife in order by this very work to merit the remission of sins or eternal life, this is done with dishonor to Christ.
41] There is, moreover, a two-fold forsaking. One occurs without a call, without God's command; this Christ does not approve, Matt. 15, 9. For the works chosen by us are useless services. But that Christ does not approve this flight appears the more clearly from the fact that He speaks of forsaking wife and children. We know, however, that God's commandment forbids the forsaking of wife and children. The forsaking which occurs by God's command is of a different kind, namely, when power or tyranny compels us either to depart or to deny the Gospel. Here we have the command that we should rather bear injury, that we should rather suffer not only wealth, wife, and children, but even life, to be taken from us. This forsaking Christ approves, and accordingly He adds: For the Gospel's sake, Mark 10, 29, in order to signify that He is speaking not of those who do injury to wife and children, but who bear injury on account of the confession of the Gospel.
42] For the Gospel's sake we ought even to forsake our body. Here it would be ridiculous to hold that it would be a service to God to kill one's self, and without God's command to leave the body. So, too, it is ridiculous to hold that it is a service to God without God's command to forsake possessions, friends, wife, children.
43] Therefore it is evident that they wickedly distort Christ's word to a monastic life. Unless perhaps the declaration that they "receive a hundred-fold in this life" be in place here. For very many become monks not on account of the Gospel, but on account of sumptuous living and idleness, who find
44] the most ample riches instead of slender patrimonies. But as the entire subject of monasticism is full of shams, so, by a false pretext, they quote testimonies of Scripture, and as a consequence they sin doubly, i.e., they deceive men, and that, too, under the pretext of the divine name.
45] Another passage is also cited concerning perfection Matt. 19, 21: If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and come and follow Me. This passage has exercised many, who have imagined that it is perfection to cast away possessions and the control of property.
46] Let us allow the philosophers to extol Aristippus, who cast a great weight of gold into the sea. [Cynics like Diogenes, who would have no house, but lay in a tub, may commend such heathenish holiness.] Such examples pertain in no way to Christian perfection. [Christian holiness consists in much higher matters than such hypocrisy.] The division, control, and possession of property are civil ordinances, approved by God's Word in the commandment, Ex. 20, 15: Thou shalt not steal. The abandonment of property has no command or advice in the Scriptures. For evangelical poverty does not consist in the abandonment of property, but in not being avaricious, in not trusting in wealth, just as David was poor in a most wealthy kingdom.
47] Therefore, since the abandonment of property is merely a human tradition, it is a useless service. Excessive also are the praises in the Extravagant, which says that the abdication of the ownership of all things for God's sake is meritorious and holy, and a way of perfection. And it is very dangerous to extol with such excessive praises a matter conflicting with political order. [When inexperienced people hear such commendations, they conclude that it is unchristian to hold property; whence many errors and seditions follow; through such commendations Muentzer was deceived, and thereby many Anabaptists were led astray.]
48] But [they say] Christ here speaks of perfection. Yea, they do violence to the text who quote it mutilated. Perfection is in that which Christ adds:
49] Follow Me. An example of obedience in one's calling is here presented. And as callings are unlike [one is called to rulership, a second to be father of a family, a third to be a preacher], so this calling does not belong to all, but pertains properly to that person with whom Christ there speaks, just as the call of David to the kingdom, and of Abraham to slay his son, are not to be imitated by us. Callings are personal, just as matters of business themselves vary with times and persons; but the example of obedience is general.
50] Perfection would have belonged to that young man if he had believed and obeyed this vocation. Thus perfection with us is that every one with true faith should obey his own calling. [Not that I should undertake a strange calling for which I have not the commission or command of God.]
51] Thirdly. In monastic vows chastity is promised. We have said above, however, concerning the marriage of priests, that the law of nature [or of God] in men cannot be removed by vows or enactments. And as all do not have the gift of continence, many because of weakness are unsuccessfully continent. Neither, indeed, can any vows or any enactments abolish the command of the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. 7, 2: To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife. Therefore this vow is not lawful in those who do not have the gift of continence, but who are polluted on account of weakness.
52] Concerning this entire topic enough has been said above, in regard to which indeed it is strange, since the dangers and scandals are occurring before men's eyes, that the adversaries still defend their traditions contrary to the manifest command of God. Neither does the voice of Christ move them, who chides the Pharisees, Matt. 23, 13f , who had made traditions contrary to God's command.
53] Fourthly. Those who live in monasteries are released from their vows by such godless ceremonies as of the Mass applied on behalf of the dead for the sake of gain; the worship of saints, in which the fault is two-fold, both that the saints are put in Christ's place, and that they are wickedly worshiped, just as the Dominicasters invented the rosary of the Blessed Virgin, which is mere babbling, not less foolish than it is wicked, and nourishes the most vain presumption. Then, too, these very impieties are applied only for the sake of
54] gain. Likewise, they neither hear nor teach the Gospel concerning the free remission of sins for Christ's sake, concerning the righteousness of faith, concerning true repentance, concerning works which have God's command. But they are occupied either in philosophic discussions or in the handing down of ceremonies that obscure Christ.
55] We will not here speak of the entire service of ceremonies, of the lessons, singing, and similar things, which could be tolerated if they [were regulated as regards number, and if they] would be regarded as exercises, after the manner of lessons in the schools [and preaching], whose design is to teach the hearers, and, while teaching, to move some to fear or faith. But now they feign that these ceremonies are services of God, which merit the remission of sins for themselves and for others. For on this account they increase these ceremonies. But if they would undertake them in order to teach and exhort the hearers, brief and pointed lessons would be of more profit than these infinite babblings.
56] Thus the entire monastic life is full of hypocrisy and false opinions [against the First and Second Commandments, against Christ]. To all these this danger also is added, that those who are in these fraternities are compelled to assent to those persecuting the truth. There are, therefore, many important and forcible reasons which free good men from the obligation to this kind of life.
57] Lastly, the canons themselves release many, who either without judgment [before they have attained a proper age] have made vows when enticed by the tricks of the monks, or have made vows under compulsion by friends. Such vows not even the canons declare to be vows. From all these considerations it is apparent that there are very many reasons which teach that monastic vows such as have hitherto been made are not vows; and for this reason a sphere of life full of hypocrisy and false opinions can be safely abandoned.
58] Here they present an objection derived from the Law concerning the Nazarites, Num. 6, 2f But the Nazarites did not take upon themselves their vows with the opinions which, we have hitherto said, we censure in the vows of the monks. The rite of the Nazarites was an exercise [a bodily exercise with fasting and certain kinds of food] or declaration of faith before men, and did not merit the remission of sins before God, did not justify before God. [For they sought this elsewhere, namely, in the promise of the blessed Seed.] Again, just as circumcision or the slaying of victims would not be a service of God now, so the rite of the Nazarites ought not to be presented now as a service, but it ought to be judged simply as an adiaphoron. It is not right to compare monasticism, devised without God's Word, as a service which should merit the remission of sins and justification, with the rite of the Nazarites, which had God's Word, and was not taught for the purpose of meriting the remission of sins, but to be an outward exercise, just as other ceremonies of the Law. The same can be said concerning other ceremonies prescribed in the Law.
59] The Rechabites also are cited, who did not have any possessions, and did not drink wine, as Jeremiah 35, 6f says. Yea, truly, the example of the Rechabites accords beautifully with our monks, whose monasteries excel the palaces of kings, and who live most sumptuously! And the Rechabites, in their poverty of all things, were nevertheless married. Our monks, although abounding in all voluptuousness, profess celibacy.
60] Besides, examples ought to be interpreted according to the rule, i.e., according to certain and clear passages of Scripture, not contrary to the rule, that is, contrary to the Scriptures.
61] It is very certain, however, that our observances do not merit the remission of sins or justification. Therefore, when the Rechabites are praised, it is necessary [it is certain] that these have observed their custom, not because they believed that by this they merited remission of sins, or that the work was itself a justifying service, or one on account of which they obtained eternal life, instead of, by God's mercy, for the sake of the promised Seed. But because they had the command of their parents, their obedience is praised, concerning which there is the commandment of God: Honor thy father and mother.
62] Then, too, the custom had a particular purpose: Because they were foreigners, not Israelites, it is apparent that their father wished to distinguish them by certain marks from their countrymen, so that they might not relapse into the impiety of their countrymen. He wished by these marks to admonish them of the [fear of God, the] doctrine of faith and immortality.
63] Such an end is lawful. But for monasticism far different ends are taught. They feign that the works of monasticism are a service; they feign that they merit the remission of sins and justification. The example of the Rechabites is therefore unlike monasticism; to omit here other evils which inhere in monasticism at present.
64] They cite also from 1 Tim. 5, 11ff concerning widows, who, as they served the Church, were supported at the public expense, where it is said: They will marry, having damnation, because
65] they have cast off their first faith. First, let us suppose that the Apostle is here speaking of vows [which, however, he is not doing]; still this passage will not favor monastic vows, which are made concerning godless services, and in this opinion, that they merit the remission of sins and justification. For Paul, with ringing voice, condemns all services, all laws, all works, if they are observed in order to merit the remission of sins, or that, on account of them, instead of through mercy on account of Christ, we obtain remission of sins. On this account the vows of widows, if there were any, must have been unlike monastic vows.
66] Besides, if the adversaries do not cease to misapply the passage to vows, the prohibition that no widow be selected who is less than sixty years, 1 Tim. 5, 9, must be misapplied in the same way. Thus vows
67] made before this age will be of no account. But the Church did not yet know these vows. Therefore Paul condemns widows, not because they marry, for he commands the younger to marry; but because, when supported at the public expense, they became wanton, and thus cast off faith. He calls this first faith, clearly not in a monastic vow, but in Christianity (of their Baptism, their Christian duty, their Christianity]. And in this sense he understands faith in the same chapter, 5, 8: If any one provide not for his own, and specialty for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith.
68] For he speaks otherwise of faith than the sophists. He does not ascribe faith to those who have mortal sin. He, accordingly, says that those cast off faith who do not care for their relatives. And in the same way he says that wanton women cast off faith.
69] We have recounted some of our reasons, and, in passing, have explained away the objections urged by the adversaries. And we have collected these matters, not only on account of the adversaries, but much more on account of godly minds, that they may have in view the reasons why they ought to disapprove of hypocrisy and fictitious monastic services, all of which indeed this one saying of Christ annuls, which reads, Matt. 15, 9: In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Therefore the vows themselves and the observances of meats, lessons, chants, vestments, sandals, girdles, are useless services in God's sight. And all godly minds should certainly know that the opinion is simply pharisaic and condemned that these observances merit the remission of sins; that on account of them we are accounted righteous; that on account of them, and not through mercy on account of Christ, we obtain eternal life. And the holy men who have lived in these kinds of life must necessarily have learned, confidence in such observance having been rejected, that they had the remission of sins freely; that for Christ's sake through mercy they would obtain eternal life, and not for the sake of these services [therefore godly persons who were saved and continued to live in monastic life had finally come to this, namely, that they despaired of their monastic life, despised all their works as dung, condemned all their hypocritical service of God, and held fast to the promise of grace in Christ, as in the example of St. Bernard, saying, Perdite vixi, I have lived in a sinful way]; because God only approves services instituted by His Word, which services avail when used in faith.
2] Here the adversaries cry out violently concerning the privileges and immunities of the ecclesiastical estate, and they add the peroration: All things are vain which are presented in the present article against the immunity of the churches and priests. This is mere calumny; for in this article we have disputed concerning other things. Besides, we have frequently testified that we do not find fault with political ordinances, and the gifts and privileges granted by princes.
3] But would that the adversaries would hear, on the other hand, the complaints of the churches and of godly minds! The adversaries courageously guard their own dignities and wealth; meanwhile, they neglect the condition of the churches; they do not care that the churches are rightly taught, and that the Sacraments are duly administered. To the priesthood they admit all kinds of persons indiscriminately. [They ordain rude asses; thus the Christian doctrine perished, because the Church was not supplied with efficient preachers.] Afterwards they impose intolerable burdens; as though they were delighted with the destruction of their fellowmen, they demand that their traditions be observed far more accurately than the Gospel.
4] Now, in the most important and difficult controversies, concerning which the people urgently desire to be taught, in order that they may have something certain which they may follow, they do not release the minds which are most severely tortured with doubt; they only call to arms. Besides, in manifest matters [against manifest truth] they present decrees written in blood, which threaten horrible punishments to men unless they act clearly
5] contrary to God's command. Here, on the other hand, you ought to see the tears of the poor, and hear the pitiable complaints of many good men, which God undoubtedly considers and regards, to whom one day you will render an account of your stewardship.
6] But although in the Confession we have in this article embraced various topics, the adversaries make no reply [act in true popish fashion], except that the bishops have the power of rule and coercive correction, in order to direct their subjects to the goal of eternal blessedness; and that the power of ruling requires the power to judge, to define, to distinguish and fix those things which are serviceable or conduce to the aforementioned end. These are the words of the Confutation, in which the adversaries teach us [but do not prove] that the bishops have the authority to frame laws (without the authority of the Gospel] useful for obtaining eternal life. The controversy is concerning this article.
7] [Regarding this matter we submit the following:] But we must retain in the Church this doctrine, namely, that we receive the remission of sins freely for Christ's sake, by faith. We must also retain this doctrine, namely, that human traditions are useless services, and therefore neither sin nor righteousness should be placed in meat, drink, clothing, and like things, the use of which Christ wished to be left free, since He says, Matt. 15, 11: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth the man; and Paul, Rom. 14, 17: The kingdom
8] of God is not meat and drink. Therefore the bishops have no right to frame traditions in addition to the Gospel, that they may merit the remission of sins, that they may be services which God is to approve as righteousness, and which burden consciences, as though it were a sin to omit them. All this is taught by that one passage in Acts, 15, 9, where the apostles say [Peter says] that hearts are purified by faith. And then they prohibit the imposing of a yoke, and show how great a danger this is, and enlarge upon the sin of those who burden the Church. Why tempt ye God? they say. By this thunderbolt our adversaries are in no way terrified, who defend by violence traditions and godless opinions.
For above they have also condemned Article XV,
9] in which we have stated that traditions do not merit the remission of sins, and they here say that traditions conduce to eternal life. Do they merit the remission of sins? Are they services which God approves as righteousness? Do they quicken hearts?
10] Paul to the Colossians, 2, 20ff, says that traditions do not profit with respect to eternal righteousness and eternal life; for the reason that food, drink, clothing and the like are things that perish with the using. But eternal life [which begins in this life inwardly by faith] is wrought in the heart by eternal things, i.e., by the Word of God and the Holy Ghost. Therefore let the adversaries explain how traditions conduce to eternal life.
11] Since, however, the Gospel clearly testifies that traditions ought not to be imposed upon the Church in order to merit the remission of sins; in order to be services which God shall approve as righteousness; in order to burden consciences, so that to omit them is to be accounted as sin, the adversaries will never be able to show that the bishops have the power to institute such services.
12] Besides, we have declared in the Confession what power the Gospel ascribes to bishops. Those who are now bishops do not perform the duties of bishops according to the Gospel; although, indeed, they may be bishops according to canonical polity, which we do not censure. But we are speaking of a bishop according to the Gospel.
13] And we are pleased with the ancient division of power into power of the order and power of jurisdiction [that is, the administration of the Sacraments and the exercise of spiritual jurisdiction]. Therefore the bishop has the power of the order, i.e., the ministry of the Word and Sacraments; he has also the power of jurisdiction, i.e., the authority to excommunicate those guilty of open crimes, and again to absolve them if they are converted and
14] seek absolution. But their power is not to be tyrannical, i.e., without a fixed law; nor regal, i.e., above law; but they have a fixed command and a fixed Word of God, according to which they ought to teach, and according to which they ought to exercise their jurisdiction. Therefore, even though they should have some jurisdiction, it does not follow that they are able to institute new services. For services pertain in no way to jurisdiction. And they have the Word, they have the command, how far they ought to exercise jurisdiction, namely, if any one would do anything contrary to that Word which they have received from Christ. [For the Gospel does not set up a rule independently of the Gospel; that is quite clear and certain.]
15] Although in the Confession we also have added how far it is lawful for them to frame traditions, namely, not as necessary services, but so that there may be order in the Church, for the sake of tranquillity. And these traditions ought not to cast snares upon consciences, as though to enjoin necessary services; as Paul teaches when he says, Gal. 5, 1: Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
16] The use of such ordinances ought therefore to be left free, provided that offenses be avoided, and that they be not judged to be necessary services; just as the apostles themselves ordained [for the sake of good discipline] very many things which have been changed with time. Neither did they hand them down in such a way that it would not be permitted to change them. For they did not dissent from their own writings, in which they greatly labor lest the Church be burdened with the opinion that human rites are necessary services.
17] This is the simple mode of interpreting traditions, namely, that we understand them not as necessary services, and nevertheless, for the sake of avoiding offenses, we should observe them in the proper place.
18] And thus many learned and great men in the Church have held. Nor do we see what can be said against this. For it is certain that the expression Luke 10, 16: He that heareth you heareth Me, does not speak of traditions, but is chiefly directed against traditions. For it is not a mandatum cum libera (a bestowal of unlimited authority), as they call it, but it is a cautio de rato (a caution concerning something prescribed), namely, concerning the special command [not a free, unlimited order and power, but a limited order namely, not to preach their own word, but God's Word and the Gospel], i.e., the testimony given to the apostles, that we believe them with respect to the word of another, not their own. For Christ wishes to assure us, as was necessary, that we should know that the Word delivered by men is efficacious, and that no other word from heaven ought to be sought.
19] He that heareth you heareth Me, cannot be understood of traditions. For Christ requires that they teach in such a way that [by their mouth] He Himself be heard, because He says: He heareth Me. Therefore He wishes His own voice, His own Word, to be heard, not human traditions. Thus a saying which is most especially in our favor, and contains the most important consolation and doctrine, these stupid men pervert to the most trifling matters, the distinctions of food, vestments, and the like.
20] They quote also Heb. 13, 17: Obey them that have the rule over you. This passage requires obedience to the Gospel. For it does not establish a dominion for the bishops apart from the Gospel. Neither should the bishops frame traditions contrary to the Gospel, or interpret their traditions contrary to the Gospel. And when they do this, obedience is prohibited, according to Gal. 1, 9: If any man preach any other gospel, let him be accursed.
21] We make the same reply to Matt. 23, 3: Whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe, because evidently a universal command is not given that we should receive all things [even contrary to God's command and Word], since Scripture elsewhere, Acts 5, 29, bids us obey God rather than men. When, therefore, they teach wicked things, they are not to be heard. But these are wicked things, namely, that human traditions are services of God, that they are necessary services, that they merit the remission of sins and eternal life.
22] They present, as an objection, the public offenses and commotions which have arisen under pretext of our doctrine. To
23] these we briefly reply. If all the scandals be brought together, still the one article concerning the remission of sins, that for Christ's sake through faith we freely obtain the remission of sins,
24] brings so much good as to hide all evils. And this, in the beginning, gained for Luther not only our favor, but also that of many who are now contending against us. "For former favor ceases, and mortals are forgetful," says Pindar. Nevertheless, we neither desire to desert truth that is necessary to the Church,
25] nor can we assent to the adversaries in condemning it. For we ought to obey God rather than men. Those who in the beginning condemned manifest truth, and are now persecuting it with the greatest cruelty, will give an account for the schism that has been occasioned. Then, too, are there no scandals
26] among the adversaries? How much evil is there in the sacrilegious profanation of the Mass applied to gain! How great disgrace in celibacy! But let us omit a comparison.
27] This is what we have replied to the Confutation for the time being. Now we leave it to the judgment of all the godly whether the adversaries are right in boasting that they have actually refuted our Confession from the Scriptures.
[As regards the slander and complaint of the adversaries at the end of the Confutation, namely, that this doctrine is causing disobedience and other scandals, this is unjustly imputed to our doctrine. For it is evident that by this doctrine the authority of magistrates is most highly praised. Moreover, it is well known that in those localities where this doctrine is preached, the magistrates have hitherto, by the grace of God, been treated with all respect by the subjects.
But as to the want of unity and dissension in the Church, it is well known how these matters first happened, and who have caused the division, namely, the sellers of indulgences, who shamelessly preached intolerable lies, and afterwards condemned Luther for not approving of those lies, and besides, they again and again excited more controversies, so that Luther was induced to attack many other errors. But since our opponents would not tolerate the truth, and dared to promote manifest errors by force, it is easy to judge who is guilty of the schism. Surely, all the world, all wisdom, all power ought to yield to Christ and His holy Word. But the devil is the enemy of God, and therefore rouses all his might against Christ, to extinguish and suppress the Word of God. Therefore the devil with his members, setting himself against the Word of God, is the cause of the schism and want of unity. For we have most zealously sought peace, and still most eagerly desire it, provided only we are not forced to blaspheme and deny Christ. For God, the discerner of all men's hearts, is our witness that we do not delight and have no joy in this awful disunion. On the other hand, our adversaries have so far not been willing to conclude peace without stipulating that we must abandon the saving doctrine of the forgiveness of sin by Christ without our merit, though Christ would be most foully blasphemed thereby.
And although, as is the custom of the world, it cannot be but that offenses have occurred in this schism through malice and by imprudent people; for the devil causes such offenses, to disgrace the Gospel; yet all this is of no account in view of the great comfort which this teaching has brought men, that for Christ's sake, without our merit, we have forgiveness of sins and a gracious God. Again, that men have been instructed that forsaking secular estates and magistracies is not a divine worship, but that such estates and magistracies are pleasing to God, and to be engaged in them is a real holy work and divine service.
If we also were to narrate the offenses of the adversaries, which, indeed, we have no desire to do, it would be a terrible list: what an abominable, blasphemous fair the adversaries have made of the Mass; what unchaste living has been instituted by their celibacy; how the Popes have for more than 400 years been engaged in wars against the emperors, have forgotten the Gospel, and only sought to be emperors themselves, and to bring all Italy into their power; how they have juggled the possessions of the Church; how through their neglect many false teachings and forms of worship have been set up by the monks. Is not their worship of the saints manifest pagan idolatry? All their writers do not say one word concerning faith in Christ, by which forgiveness of sin is obtained; the highest degree of holiness they ascribe to human traditions; it is chiefly of these that they write and preach. Moreover, this, too, ought to be numbered with their offenses, that they clearly reveal what sort of a spirit is in them, because they are now putting to death so many innocent, pious people on account of Christian doctrine. But we do not now wish to say more concerning this; for these matters should be decided in accordance with God's Word, regardless of the offenses on either side.
We hope that all Godfearing men will sufficiently see from this writing of ours that ours is the Christian doctrine and comforting and salutary to all godly men. Accordingly, we pray God to extend His grace to the end that His holy Gospel may be known and honored by all, for His glory, and for the peace, unity, and salvation of all of us. Regarding all these articles we offer to make further statements, if required.]
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