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power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of

Godj that is, spiritual righteousness; since the natural man
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God [1 Cor. 2 : 14] ;
but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy
Ghost is received through the Word. These things are said in
as many words by Augustine in his Ilxfpog^nostifion, book iii. :
" We grant that all men have a certain freedom of will in judg-
ing according to [natural] reason ; not such freedom, however,
whereby it is capable, without God, either to begin, or much less
to complete augnt in things pertaining to God, but only in works
of this life, whether good or evil. * Good,' I call those works
which spring from the good in Nature, that is, to have a will to
labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe
oneself, to build a house, to marry, to keep cattle, to learn divers
useful arts, or whatsoever good pertains to this life, none of which
things are without dependence on the providence of God ; yea,
of Him and through Him they are and have their beginning.
* Evil,' I call such works as to have a will to worship an idol, to
commit murder," etc

They condemn the Pelagians and others who teach that, with-
out the Holy Ghost, by the power of nature alone, we are able
to love God above all things ; also to do the commandments of
God as touching "the substance of the act." For, although
nature is able in some sort to do the outward work (for it is able
to keep the hands from theft and murder), yet it cannot work
the inward motions, such as the fear of God, trust in God,
chastity, patience, etc.

Article XIX.
Of the Cause of Sin, they teach, that although God doth create
and preserve nature, yet the cause of sin is the will of the wicked,
that is, of the devil and ungodly men ; which will, unaided of
God, turns itself from God, as Christ savs [John 8: 44]:
" When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own."

Article XX.
Our teachers are falsely accused of forbidding Good Works.

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For their published writings on the Ten Commandments, and
others of like import, bear witness that they have taught to
good purpose concerning all estates and duties of life, as to what
estates of life and what works in every calling be pleasing to
God. Concerning these things preachers heretofore taught but
little, and urged only childish and needless works, as particular
holydays, particular fasts, brotherhoods, pilgrimages, services in
honor of saints, the use of rosaries, monasticism, and such like.
Since our adversaries have been admonished of these things,
they are now unlearning them, and do not preach these unprofit-
able works as heretofore. Besides, they begin to mention faith,
of which there was heretofore marvellous silence. They teach
that we are justified not by works only, but thev conjoin faith
and works, and say that we are justified by faith and works.
This doctrine is more tolerable than the former one, and can
afford more consolation than their old .doctrine.

Foi-asmuch, therefore, as the doctrine concerning faith, which
ought to be the chief one in the Church, has lain so long un-
known, as all must needs grant that there was the deepest silence
in their sermons concerning the righteousness of faith, while
only the doctrine of works was treated in the churches, our
teachers have instructed the churches concerning faith as follows :

First, that our works cannot reconcile God or merit forgive-
ness of sins, grace and justification, but that we obtain this only
by faith, when we believe that we are received into favor for
Christ^s sake, who alone has been set forth the Mediator and
Propitiation [1 Tim. 2:5], in order that the Father may be
reconciled through Him. Whoever, therefore, trusts that by
works he merits grace, despises the merit and grace of Christ,
and seeks a way to God without Christ, by human strength,
although Christ has said of Himself: " I am the Way, the Truth
and the Life" [John 14: 6].

This doctrine concerning faith is everywhere treated by Paul
[Eph. 2:8]: "By grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not
of yourselves ; it is the gift of God, not of works," etc.

And lest any one should craftily say that a new interpretation
of Paul has been devised bv us, this entire matter is supported
by the testimonies of the fathers. For Augustine, in many
volumes, defends grace and the righteousness of faith, over
against the merits of works. And Ambrose, in his De Vocatione
GerUivm, and elsewhere, teaches to like effect. For in his De
Vocdtwne Gentium, he says as follows : " Redemption by the Blood
of Clirist would become of little value, neither would the pre-
eminence of man's works be superseded by the mercy of God,

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if justification, which is wrought through grace, were due to
merits going before, so as to be, not the free gift of a donor, but
the reward due to the laborer."

But although this doctrine is despised by the inexperienced,
nevertheless God-fearing and anxious consciences find by experi-
ence that it brings the greatest consolation, because consciences
cannot be pacifi^ through any works, but only by faith, when
they are sure that, for Christ's sake, they have a gracious God.
As Paul teaches [Rom. 5:1]: " Being justified by faith, we
have peace with God." This whole doctrine is to be referred to
that conflict of the terrified conscience ; neither can it be under-
stood apart from that conflict. Therefore, inexperienced and pro-
fane men judge ill concerning this matter, who dream that
Christian righteousness is nothing but the civil righteousness
of natural reason.

Heretofore consciences were plagued with the doctrine of
works, nor did they hear any consolation from the Gt)speL Some
persons were driven by conscience into the desert, into monas-
teries, hoping there to merit grace by a nK>nastic life. Some
also devised other works whereby to merit grace and make satis-
faction for sins. There was very great need to treat of and renew
this doctrine of faith in Christ, to the end that anxious con-
sciences should not be without consolation, but that they might
know that grace and forgiveness of sins and justification are
apprehended by faith in Christ.

Men are also admonished that here the term ^* faith " doth not
signify merely the knowledge of the history, such as is in the
ungodly and in the devil, but signifieth a faith which believes,
not merely the history, but also the effect of the history — ^namely,
this article of the forgiveness of sins, to wit, that we have grace,
righteousness, and forgiveness of sins, through Christ

Now he that knoweth that he has a Father reconciled to him
through Christ, since he truly knows God, knows also that God
careth for him, and calls upon God ; in a word, he is not without
Crod, as the heathen. For devils and the ungodly are not able
to believe this article of the forgiveness of sins. Hence, they
hate God as an enemy ; call not upon Him ; and expect no good
from Him. Augustine also admonishes his readers concerning
the word " faith," and teaches that the term " faith " is acceptea
in the Scriptures, not for knowledge such as is in the ungodly,
but for confidence which consoles and encourages the terrified

Furthermore, it is taught on our part, that it is necessary to
do good works, not that we should trust to merit grace by them,

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but" because it is the will of God. It is only by faith that for-
giveness of sins and grace are apprehended. And because through
faith the Holy Ghost is received, hearts are renewed and endowed
with new affections, so as to be able to bring forth good works.
For Ambrose says : " Faith is the mother of a good will and
right doing." For man's powers without the Holy Ghost are
full of ungodly aflections, and are too weak to do works which
are good in God's sight Besides, they are in the power of the'
devil, who impels men to divers sins, to ungodly opinions, to
open crimes. This we may see in the philosophers, who, although
they endeavored to live an honest life, could not succeed, but were
defUed with many open crimes. Such is the feebleness of man,
when he is without faith and without the Holy Ghost, and
governs himself only by human strength.

Hence it may be readily seen that this doctrine is not to be
charged with prohibiting good works, but rather the more to be
commended, because it shows how we are enabled to do good
works. For without faith, human nature can in no wise do the
works of the First or of the Second Commandment. Without
faith, it does not call upon God, nor expect anything from Him,
nor bear the cross ; but seeks and trusts in man's help. And
thus, when there is no faith and trust in God, all manner of
lusts and human devices rule in the heart. Wherefore Christ
said [John 15 : 5] : " Without me ye can do nothing," and the
Church sings:

" Without Thy power divine
In man there nothing is.
Naught but what is harmful."

Article XXI.

Of the Worship of Saints, they teach, that the memory of
saints may be set before us, that we may follow their faith and
good works, according to our calling, as the Emperor may follow
the example of David in making war to drive away the Turk
from his country. For both are kings. But the Scripture
teaches not the invocation of saints, or to ask help of saints,
since it sets before us Christ, as the only Mediator, Propitiation,
High-Priest and Intercessor. He is to be prayed to, and hath
promised that he will hear our prayer ; and this worship he
approves above all, to wit, that in all aifflictions he be called
upon [1 John 2 : 1] : "If any man sin, we have an Advocate
with the Father," etc.

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This is about the Sum of our Doctrine, in which, as can be
seen, there is nothing that varies from the Scriptures, or from
the Church Catholic, or from the Church of Borne as known
from its writers. This being the case, they judge harshly who
insist that our teachers be regarded as heretics. The di«igree-
ment, however, is on certain Abuses, which have crept into the
Church without rightful authority. And even in these, if there
were some difference, there should be proper lenity on the part
of bishops to bear with us by reason of the Confession which we
have now drawn up ; because even the Canons are not so severe
as to demand the same rites everywhere, neither, at any time,
have the rites of all churches been the same ; although, among
us, in large part, the ancient rites are diligently observed. For
it is a false and malicious charge that all the ceremonies, all the
things instituted of old, are abolished in our churches. But it
has been a common complaint that some Abuses were connected
with the ordinary rites. These, inasmuch as they could not be
approved with a good conscience, have been to some extent


Inasmuch then as our churches dissent in no article of the
Faith from the Church Catholic, but omit some Abuses which are
new, and which have been erroneously accepted by fault of the
times, contrary to the intent of the Canons, we pray that Your
Imperial Majesty would graciously hear both what has been
changed, and also what were the reasons, in order that the
people be not compelled to observe those abuses against their
conscience. Nor should Your Imperial Majesty believe those,
who, in order to excite the hatred of men against our part, dis-
seminate strange slanders among our people. Having thus
excited the minds of good men, they have first given occasion
to this controversy, and now endeavor, by the same arts, to
increase the discord. For Your Imperial Majesty will undoubt-
edly find that the form of doctrine and of ceremonies with us, is
not so intolerable as these ungodly and malicious men represent.
Furthermore, the truth cannot be gathered from common rumors,
or the revilings of our enemies. But it can readily be judged that

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nothing would serve better to maintain the dignity of worship,
and to nourish reverence and pious devotion among the people,
than that the ceremonies be rightly observed in the churches.

Article XXIL

To the laity are given Both Kinds in the Sacrament of the
Lord's Supper, because this usage has the commandment of the
Lord [in Matth. 28 : 27]: "Drink ye all of it;" where Christ
has manifestly commanded concerning the cup that all should
drink ; and lest any man should craftily say that this refers only
to priests, Paul [in 1 Cor. 11 : 27] recites an example from
which it appears that the whole congregation did use both kinds.
And this usage has long remained in the Church, nor is it known
when, or by whose authority, it was changed ; although Cardinal
Cusanus mentions the time when it was approved. Cyprian in
some places testifies that the Blood was given to the people.
The same is testified by Jerome, who says : " The priests admin-
ister the Eucharist, and distribute the Blood of Christ to the
people." Indeed, Pope Gelasius commands that the sacrament
oe not divided (Dist. ii.. Be Coiisecrationey Cap, Chmperimua),
Only custom, not so ancient, has it otherwise. But it is evi-
dent that any custom introduced against the commandments
of God, is not to be allowed, as the Canons ¥ritne68 (Bist. iii.,
Cap. VerUdte^ and the following chapters). But this custom has
been received, not only against the Scripture, but also against the
old Canons and example of the Church. Therefore if any pre-
ferred to use both kinds of the sacrament, they ought not to have
been oompeUed with offence to their consciences to do otherwise.

And h&ca,U8e the division of the sacrament does not agree with
the ordinance of Christ, we are accustomed to omit the proces-
sion, which hitherto has been 'in use.

Abticle XXIII.
There has been common complaint concerning the Examples
of Priests, who were not chaste. For that reason also. Pope
Pius is reported to have said that there were certain reasons why
marriage was taken awav from priests, but that there were far
weightier ones why it ou^ht to be given back ; for so Platina writes.
Since, therefore, our pnests were desirous to avoid these open
scandals, they marriea wives, and taught that it was lawful for
them to contract matrimony. First, because Paul says [1 Cor.
7 : 2] : " To avoid fornication, let every man have his own Mrife."
Also [9]: "It is better to marry, than to bum." Secondly,
Christ says [Matth. 19 : 11] : " All men cannot receive this say-

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ing ;" where he teaches that not all men are fit to lead a single
life ; for God created man for procreation [Gen. 1 : 28]. Nor is
it in man's power, without a singular gift and work of God, to
alter this creation. Therefore those that are not fit to lead a
single life, ought to contract matrimony. For no man*s law, no
vow, can annul the commandment and ordinance of God. For
these reasons the priests teach that it is lawful for them to marry
wives. It is also evident that in the ancient Church, priests
were married men. For Paul says [1 Tim. 3 : 2] that a bbhop
should be the husband of one wife. And in Germany, four
hundred years ago, for the first time, the priests were violently
compelled to lea3 a single life, who indeed offered such resist-
ance that the Archbishop of Mayence, when about to publish
the Pope's decree concemmg this matter, was almost Idllea in the
tumult raised by the enraged priests. And so harsh was the
dealing in the matter, that not only were marriages forbidden
for the time to come, but also existing marriages were torn
asunder, contrary to all liiws, divine and human, contrarv even
to the Canons themselves, made not only by the Popes, but by
most celebrated Councils.

Seeing, also, that, as the world is ageing, man's nature is grad-
ually growing weaker, it is well to guard that no more vices
steal into Germany. Furthermore, God ordained marriage to
be a help against human infirmity. The Canons themselves
say that the old rigor ought now and then, in the latter times, to
be' relaxed because of the weakness of men ; which it is to be
devoutly wished were done also in this matter. And it is to be
expected that the churches shall at length lack pastors, if mar-
riage should be any longer forbidden.

But while the commandment of God is in force, while the
custom of the Church is well known, while impure celibacy
causes many scandals, adulteries, and other crimes deserving the
punishments of just magistrates, vet it is a marvellous thing that
m nothing is more cruelty exercised than against the marriage
of priests. God has given commandment to honor marriage.
By the laws of all well-ordered commonwealths, even among the
heathen, marriage is most highlv honored. But now men, and
also priests, are cruelly put to death, contrary to the intent of
the Canons, for no other cause than marriage. Paul [in 1 Tim.
4: 3] calls that a doctrine of devils, which forbids marriage.
This may now be readily understood when the law against mar-
riage is maintained by such penalties.

But as no law of man can annul the commandment of God,
«o neither can it be done by any vow. Accordingly Cyprian

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also advises that women who do not keep the chastity they
have promised should marry. His words are these [Book I.,
Epistle xi.] : " But if they be unwilling or unable to persevere,
it is better for them to marry than to fall into the fire by their
lusts ; at least, they should give no offence to their brethren and
sisters." And even the Canons show some leniency toward those
who have taken vows before the proper age, as heretofore has
generally been the case.

Article XXIV.

Falsely are our churches accused of Abolishing the Mass ; for
the Mass is retained on our part, and celebrated with the highest
reverence. All the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save
that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with
German nymns, which have been added to teach the people.
For ceremonies are needed to this end alone, that the unlearned
be taught And not only has Paul commanded to use in the
Church a language understood by the people [1 Cor., 14 : 2, 9],
but it has also been so ordained by man's law.

The people are accustomed to partake of the Sacrament to-
gether, if any be fit for it, and this also increases the reverence
and devotion of public worship. For none are admitted,
except they be first proved. The people are also advised con-
cerning the dignity and use of the sacrament, how great conso-
lation it brings anxious consciences, that they may learn to
believe God, and to expect and ask of Him all that is ^od.
This worship pleases God ; such use of the sacrament nourishes
true devotion toward God. It does not, therefore, appear that
the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries,
than among us.

But it is evident that for a long time, it has been the public
and most grievous complaint of all good men, that Masses have
been basely profemed and applied to purposes of lucre. For it
is unknown now far this abuse obtains in all the churches, by
what manner of men Masses are said only for fees or stipends,
and how many celebrate them contrary to the Canons. But Paul
severely threatens those who deal unworthily with the Eucharist,
when he says [1 Cor. 11 : 27] : " Whosoever shall eat this bread,
and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the
body and blood of the Lord." When, therefore, our priests were
admonished concerning this sin, Private Masses were discontinued
among us, as scarcely any Private Masses were celebrated except
for lucre's sake.

Neither were the bishops ignorant of these abuses, and if they

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had corrected them in time, there would now be less dissension.
Heretofore, by their own negligence, they suffered many corrup-
tions to creep into the Church. Now, when it is too late, they
begin to complain of the troubles of the Church, seeing that this
disturbance has been occasioned simply by those abuses, which
were so manifest that they could be borne no longer. Great dis-
sensions have arisen concerning the Mass, concerning the Sacra-
ment. Perhaps the world is being punished for such long-con-
tinued profanations of the Mass as have been tolerated in the
churches for so many centuries, by the verv men who were both
able and in duty bound to correct them. For, in the Ten Com-
mandments, it IS written (Exodus 20), " The Lord will not hold
him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.'^ But since the
world began, nothing that God ever ordained seems to have been
so abused for filthy lucre as the Mass.

There was also added the opinion which infinitely increased
Private Masses, namely, that Christ, by His passion, had made
satisfaction for original sin, and instituted the Mass wherein an
offering should be made for daily sins, venial and mortal. From
this has arisen the common opinion that the Mass taketh away
the sins of the living and the dead, by the outward act. Then
they began to dispute whether one Mass said for many were
worth as much as special Masses for individuals, and this brought
forth that infinite multitude of Masses. Concerning these opin-
ions our teachers have given warning, that they depart from the
Holy Scriptures and diminish the glory of the passion of Christ
For Christ's passion was an oblation and satisfaction, not for
oriffinal guilt only, but also for all sins, as it is written to the
Hebrews (10: 10), "We are sanctified through the oflfering of
Jesus Christ, once for all." Also, 10:14; "By one offering he
hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." Scripture also
teaches that we are justified before God through faith in Christ,
when we believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ's sake.
Now if the Mass take away the sins of the living and the dead
by the outward act, justification comes of the work of Masses,
and not of faith, which Scripture does not allow.

But Christ commands us [Luke 22, 19], "This do in remem-
brance of me;" therefore the Mass was instituted that the faith
of those who use the Sacrament should remember what benefits
it receives through Christ, and cheer and comfort the anxious
conscience. For, to remember Christ, is to remember his benefits,
and to realize that they are truly offered unto us. Nor is it
enough only to remember the history, for this the Jews and the
ungodly also can remember. Wherefore the Mass is to be used

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to this end, that there the Sacrament [Communion] may be
administered to them that have need of consolation ; as Ambrose
says: ^* Because I always sin, I am always bound to take the

Now foraffluuch as the Mass is such a giving of the Sacrament,
we hold one communion every holyday, and also other days, when
an^ desire the Sacrament it is given to such as ask for it. And
this custom is not new in the Church ; for the Fathers before
Gr^jory make no mention of any private Mass, but of the com-
mon Mass [the Communion] they speak very much. Chrysostom
says that the priest stands daily at the altar, inviting some to the
Communion and keeping back others. And it appears from the
ancient Canons, that some one celebrated the Mass from whom all
the other presbyters and deacons received the Body of the Lord ;
for thus the words of the Nicene Canon say : " Let the deacons,
according to their order, receive the Holy Communion after the

fresbyters, from the bishop or from a presbyter." And Paul
1 Cor. 11, 33] commands concerning the Communion : " Tarry
one for another," so that there may be a common participation.
Forasmuch, therefore, as the Mass with us has the example of
the Church, taken from the Scripture and the Fathers, we are
confident that it cannot be disapproved, especially since the public
ceremonies are retained for the most part, like those hitherto in
use ; only the number of Masses differs, which, because of very
great and manifest abuses, doubtless might be profitably reduced.
For in olden times, even in churches most frequented, the Mass
was not celebrated every day, as the Tripartite History (Book 9,
chapt. 33) testifies: "Again in Alexandria, every Wednesday
and Friday, the Scriptures are read, and the doctors expound
them, and all things are done, except only the celebration of the

Online LibraryEvangelical Lutheran Church in North America. GeneChurch book: for the use of Evangelical Lutheran congregations → online text (page 20 of 53)