The Augsburg Confession - Philip Melanchthon (1530)
is the first of the great Protestant Confessions. All orthodox Lutheran
church bodies base their teachings upon this treatise because they
that it is a faithful to Word of God.
Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, called together the princes and
of his german territories in a Diet at Augsburg. He sought unity among
them to fend off the attacks of Turkish armies in Eastern Austria. He
upon the Lutheran nobility to explain their religious convictions, with
the hope that the controversy swirling around the challange of the
might be resolved. To this end, Philip Melanchthon, a close friend of
Luther and a Professor of New Testament at Wittenberg University, was
upon to draft a common confession for the Lutheran Lords and Free
The resulting document, the Augsburg Confession was presented to the
on June 25, 1530.
presented to Charles V in both Latin and German. Minor differences
the two texts exist. Some editions published today print english
from both. Our texts come from an edition published in 1930s by the
Church -- Missouri Synod, under the title: Concordia
to the Emperor Charles V.
Augustus, Most Clement Lord: Inasmuch as Your Imperial Majesty has
a Diet of the Empire here at Augsburg to deliberate concerning measures
against the Turk, that most atrocious, hereditary, and ancient enemy of
the Christian name and religion, in what way, namely, effectually to
his furor and assaults by strong and lasting military provision; and
also concerning dissensions in the matter of our holy religion and
Faith, that in this matter of religion the opinions and judgments of
parties might be heard in each other's presence; and considered and
among ourselves in mutual charity, leniency, and kindness, in order
after the removal and correction of such things as have been treated
understood in a different manner in the writings on either side, these
matters may be settled and brought back to one simple truth and
concord, that for the future one pure and true religion may be embraced
and maintained by us, that as we all are under one Christ and do battle
under Him, so we may be able also to live in unity and concord in the
the undersigned Elector and Princes, with others joined with us, have
called to the aforesaid Diet the same as the other Electors, Princes,
Estates, in obedient compliance with the Imperial mandate, we have
come to Augsburg, and -- what we do not mean to say as boasting -- we
among the first to be here.
even here at Augsburg at the very beginning of the Diet, Your Imperial
Majesty caused to be proposed to the Electors, Princes, and other
of the Empire, amongst other things, that the several Estates of the
on the strength of the Imperial edict, should set forth and submit
opinions and judgments in the German and the Latin language, and since
on the ensuing Wednesday, answer was given to Your Imperial Majesty,
due deliberation, that we would submit the Articles of our Confession
our side on next Wednesday, therefore, in obedience to Your Imperial
wishes, we offer, in this matter of religion, the Confession of our
and of ourselves, showing what manner of doctrine from the Holy
and the pure Word of God has been up to this time set forth in our
dukedoms, dominions, and cities, and taught in our churches.
Princes, and Estates. of the Empire will, according to the said
proposition, present similar writings, to wit, in Latin and German,
their opinions in this matter of religion, we, with the Princes and
aforesaid, here before Your Imperial Majesty, our most clement Lord are
prepared to confer amicably concerning all possible ways and means, in
order that we may come together, as far as this may be honorably done,
and, the matter between us on both sides being peacefully discussed
offensive strife, the dissension, by God's help, may be done away and
back to one true accordant religion; for as we all are under one Christ
and do battle under Him, we ought to confess the one Christ, after the
tenor of Your Imperial Majesty's edict, and everything ought to be
according to the truth of God; and this it is what, with most fervent
we entreat of God.
the rest of the Electors, Princes, and Estates, who constitute the
part, if no progress should be made, nor some result be attained by
treatment of the cause of religion after the manner in which Your
Majesty has wisely held that it should be dealt with and treated
by such mutual presentation of writings and calm conferring together
ourselves, we at least leave with you a clear testimony, that we here
no wise are holding back from anything that could bring about Christian
concord, -- such as could be effected with God and a good conscience,
as also Your Imperial Majesty and, next, the other Electors and Estates
of the Empire, and all who are moved by sincere love and zeal for
and who will give an impartial hearing to this matter, will graciously
deign to take notice and to understand this from this Confession of
and of our associates.
also, not only once but often, graciously signified to the Electors
and Estates of the Empire, and at the Diet of Spires held A. D. 1526,
to the form of Your Imperial instruction and commission given and
caused it to be stated and publicly proclaimed that Your Majesty, in
with this matter of religion, for certain reasons which were alleged in
Your Majesty's name, was not willing to decide and could not determine
anything, but that Your Majesty would diligently use Your Majesty's
with the Roman Pontiff for the convening of a General Council. The same
matter was thus publicly set forth at greater length a year ago at the
last Diet which met at Spires. There Your Imperial Majesty, through His
Highness Ferdinand, King of Bohemia and Hungary, our friend and clement
Lord, as well as through the Orator and Imperial Commissioners caused
among other things, to be submitted: that Your Imperial Majesty had
notice of; and pondered, the resolution of Your Majesty's
in the Empire, and of the President and Imperial Counselors, and the
from other Estates convened at Ratisbon, concerning the calling of a
and that your Imperial Majesty also judged it to be expedient to
a Council; and that Your Imperial Majesty did not doubt the Roman
could be induced to hold a General Council, because the matters to be
between Your Imperial Majesty and the Roman Pontiff were nearing
and Christian reconciliation; therefore Your Imperial Majesty himself
that he would endeavor to secure the said Chief Pontiff's consent for
together with your Imperial Majesty such General Council, to be
as soon as possible by letters that were to be sent out.
should be such that the differences between us and the other parties in
the matter of religion should not be amicably and in charity settled,
here, before Your Imperial Majesty we make the offer in all obedience,
in addition to what we have already done, that we will all appear and
our cause in such a general, free Christian Council, for the convening
of which there has always been accordant action and agreement of votes
in all the Imperial Diets held during Your Majesty's reign, on the part
of the Electors, Princes, and other Estates of the Empire. To the
of this General Council, and at the same time to Your Imperial Majesty,
we have, even before this, in due manner and form of law, addressed
and made appeal in this matter, by far the greatest and gravest. To
appeal, both to Your Imperial Majesty and to a Council, we still
neither do we intend nor would it be possible for us, to relinquish it
by this or any other document, unless the matter between us and the
side, according to the tenor of the latest Imperial citation should be
amicably and charitably settled, allayed, and brought to Christian
and regarding this we even here solemnly and publicly testify.
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I: Of God.
do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity
of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to
be believed without any doubting; that is to say, there is one Divine
which is called and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts,
of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all
things, visible and invisible; and yet there are three Persons, of the
same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father the Son, and
the Holy Ghost. And the term "person" they use as the Fathers have used
it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which
which have sprung up against this article, as the Manichaeans, who
two principles, one Good and the other Evil- also the Valentinians,
Eunomians, Mohammedans, and all such. They condemn also the
old and new, who, contending that there is but one Person,
and impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Ghost are not distinct
but that "Word" signifies a spoken word, and "Spirit" signifies motion
created in things.
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II: Of Original Sin.
Also they teach
fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin,
is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with
and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now
and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism
the Holy Ghost.
and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure
the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be
before God by his own strength and reason.
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III: Of the Son of God.
Also they teach
that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in the womb of the
blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the divine and the
human, inseparably enjoined in one Person, one Christ, true God and
man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified,
and buried, that He might reconcile the Father unto us, and be a
not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men
hell, and truly rose again the third day; afterward He ascended into
that He might sit on the right hand of the Father, and forever reign
have dominion over all creatures, and sanctify them that believe in
by sending the Holy Ghost into their hearts, to rule, comfort, and
them, and to defend them against the devil and the power of sin.
openly come again to judge the quick and the dead, etc., according to
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IV: Of Justification.
Also they teach
be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but
freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe
they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for
sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith
God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.
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V: Of the Ministry.
That we may
the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments
instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through
the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases
in them that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits,
but for Christ's sake, justifies those who believe that they are
into grace for Christ's sake.
and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the
Word, through their own preparations and works.
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VI: Of New Obedience.
Also they teach
is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do
works commanded by God, because of God's will, but that we should not
on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins
and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ
attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are
servants. Luke 17, 10. The same is also taught by the Fathers. For
says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved,
receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone.
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VII: Of the Church.
Also they teach
Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of
in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly
of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the
and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that
traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be
everywhere alike. As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and
of all, etc. Eph. 4, 5. 6.
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VIII: What the Church Is.
is the congregation of saints and true believers, nevertheless, since
this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled therewith, it is
lawful to use Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the
of Christ: The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, etc. Matt.
23, 2. Both the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the
and commandment of Christ, notwithstanding they be administered by evil
and such like, who denied it to be lawful to use the ministry of evil
in the Church, and who thought the ministry of evil men to be
and of none effect.
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IX: Of Baptism.
Of Baptism they
is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the
of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God
through Baptism are received into God's grace.
who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are saved
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X: Of the Lord's Supper.
Of the Supper of
teach that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and are
to those who eat the Supper of the Lord; and they reject those that
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XI: Of Confession.
Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in
an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible
to the Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19, 12.
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XII: Of Repentance.
for those who have fallen after Baptism there is remission of sins
they are converted and that the Church ought to impart absolution to
thus returning to repentance. Now, repentance consists properly of
two parts: One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience
the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel,
or of absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are
comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works
are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance.
who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost. Also those
who contend that some may attain to such perfection in this life that
are condemned, who would not absolve such as had fallen after Baptism,
though they returned to repentance.
who do not teach that remission of sins comes through faith but command
us to merit grace through satisfactions of our own.
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XIII: Of the Use of the Sacraments.
Of the Use of
they teach that the Sacraments were ordained, not only to be marks of
among men, but rather to be signs and testimonies of the will of God
us, instituted to awaken and confirm faith in those who use them.
we must so use the Sacraments that faith be added to believe the
which are offered and set forth through the Sacraments.
those who teach that the Sacraments justify by the outward act, and who
do not teach that, in the use of the Sacraments, faith which believes
sins are forgiven, is required.
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XIV: Of Ecclesiastical Order.
teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the
Sacraments unless he be regularly called.
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XV: Of Ecclesiastical Usages.
Of Usages in the
teach that those ought to be observed which may be observed without
and which are profitable unto tranquillity and good order in the
as particular holy-days, festivals, and the like.
such things men are admonished that consciences are not to be burdened,
as though such observance was necessary to salvation.
also that human traditions instituted to propitiate God, to merit
and to make satisfaction for sins, are opposed to the Gospel and the
of faith. Wherefore vows and traditions concerning meats and days,
instituted to merit grace and to make satisfaction for sins, are
and contrary to the Gospel.
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XVI: Of Civil Affairs.
Of Civil Affairs
that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it is
for Christians to bear civil office, to sit as judges, to judge matters
by the Imperial and other existing laws, to award just punishments, to
engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to
hold property, to make oath when required by the magistrates, to marry
a wife, to be given in marriage.
who forbid these civil offices to Christians.
who do not place evangelical perfection in the fear of God and in
but in forsaking civil offices, for the Gospel teaches an eternal
of the heart. Meanwhile, it does not destroy the State or the family,
very much requires that they be preserved as ordinances of God, and
charity be practiced in such ordinances. Therefore, Christians are
bound to obey their own magistrates and laws save only when commanded
sin; for then they ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5, 29.
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XVII: Of Christ's Return to Judgment.
Also they teach
Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment and will
up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and
joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented
who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned men
who are now spreading certain Jewish opinions, that before the
of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the
the ungodly being everywhere suppressed.
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XVIII: Of Free Will.
Of Free Will
man's will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and to work
things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost,
to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness;
the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor.
but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy Ghost is
through the Word. These things are said in as many words by Augustine
his Hypognosticon, Book III: We grant that all men have a free will,
inasmuch as it has the judgment of reason; not that it is thereby
without God, either to begin, or, at least, to complete aught in things
pertaining to God, but only in works of this life, whether good or
"Good" I call those works which spring from the good in nature, such
willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to
oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle, to learn
useful arts, or whatsoever good pertains to this life. For all of these
things are not without dependence on the providence of God; yea, of Him
and through Him they are and have their being. "Evil" I call such works
as willing to worship an idol, to commit murder, etc.
and others, who teach that without the Holy Ghost, by the power of
alone, we are able to love God above all things; also to do the
of God as touching "the substance of the act." For, although nature is
able in a manner to do the outward work, (for it is able to keep the
from theft and murder,) yet it cannot produce the inward motions, such
as the fear of God, trust in God, chastity, patience, etc.
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XIX: Of the Cause of Sin.
Of the Cause of
that, although God does create and preserve nature, yet the cause of
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 says John 8, 44:
When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own.
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XX: Of Good Works.
Our teachers are
of forbidding good Works. For their published writings on the Ten
and others of like import, bear witness that they have taught to good
concerning all estates and duties of life, as to what estates of life
what works in every calling be pleasing to God. Concerning these things
preachers heretofore taught but little, and urged only childish and
works, as particular holy-days, particular fasts, brotherhoods,
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 unprofitable works as
heretofore. Besides, they begin to mention faith, of which there was
marvelous silence. They teach that we are justified not by works only,
but they conjoin faith and works, and say that we are justified by
and works. This doctrine is more tolerable than the former one, and can
afford more consolation than their old doctrine.
as the doctrine concerning faith, which ought to be the chief one in
Church, has lain so long unknown, as all must needs grant that there
the deepest silence in their sermons concerning the righteousness of
while only the doctrine of works was treated in the churches, our
have instructed the churches concerning faith as follows: --
cannot reconcile God or merit forgiveness of sins, grace, and
but that we obtain this only by faith when we believe that we are
into favor for Christs sake, who alone has been set forth the Mediator
and Propitiation, 1 Tim. 2, 6, in order that the Father may be
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
Way, the Truth, and the Life. John 14, 6.
faith is everywhere treated by Paul, Eph. 2, 8: By grace are ye saved
faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works,
craftily say that a new interpretation of Paul has been devised by us,
this entire matter is supported by the testimonies of the Fathers. For
Augustine, in many volumes, defends grace and the righteousness of
over against the merits of works. And Ambrose, in his De Vocatione
and elsewhere, teaches to like effect. For in his De Vocatione Gentium
he says as follows: Redemption by the blood of Christ would become of
value, neither would the preeminence of man's works be superseded by
mercy of God, if justification, which is wrought through grace, were
to the merits going before, so as to be, not the free gift of a donor,
but the reward due to the laborer.
doctrine is despised by the inexperienced, nevertheless God- fearing
anxious consciences find by experience that it brings the greatest
because consciences cannot be set at rest through any works, but only
faith, when they take the sure ground that for Christ's sake they have
a reconciled 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
of the terrified conscience, neither can it be understood apart from
conflict. Therefore inexperienced and profane men judge ill concerning
this matter, who dream that Christian righteousness is nothing but
and philosophical righteousness.
were plagued with the doctrine of works, they did not hear the
from the Gospel. Some persons were driven by conscience into the
into monasteries hoping there to merit grace by a monastic life. Some
devised other works whereby to merit grace and make satisfaction for
Hence there was very great need to treat of, and renew, this doctrine
faith in Christ, to the end that anxious consciences should not be
consolation but that they might know that grace and forgiveness of sins
and justification are apprehended by faith in Christ.
that here the term "faith" does not signify merely the knowledge of the
history, such as is in the ungodly and in the devil, but signifies a
which believes, not merely the history, but also the effect of the
-- namely, this Article: the forgiveness of sins, to wit, that we have
grace, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins through Christ.
he has a Father gracious to him through Christ, truly knows God; he
also that God cares for him, and calls upon God; in a word, he is not
God, as the heathen. For devils and the ungodly are not able to believe
this Article: the forgiveness of sins. Hence, they hate God as an
call not upon Him, and expect no good from Him. Augustine also
his readers concerning the word "faith," and teaches that the term
is accepted in the Scriptures not for knowledge such as is in the
but for confidence which consoles and encourages the terrified mind.
taught on our part that it is necessary to do good works, not that we
trust to merit grace by them, but because it is the will of God. It is
only by faith that forgiveness of sins is apprehended, and that, for
And because through faith the Holy Ghost is received, hearts are
and endowed with new affections, so as to be able to bring forth good
For Ambrose says: Faith is the mother of a good will and right doing.
man's powers without the Holy Ghost are full of ungodly affections, and
are too weak to do works which are good in God's sight. Besides, they
in the power of the devil who impels men to divers sins, to ungodly
to open crimes. This we may see in the philosophers, who, although they
endeavored to live an honest life could not succeed, but were defiled
many open crimes. Such is the feebleness of man when he is without
and without the Holy Ghost, and governs himself only by human strength.
seen that this doctrine is not to be charged with prohibiting good
but rather the more to be commended, because it shows how we are
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 God, nor bear the cross,
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.
Christ said, John 16,6: Without Me ye can do nothing; and the Church
Lacking Thy divine favor, There is nothing found in man, Naught in him
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XXI: Of the Worship of the Saints.
Of the Worship
teach that the memory of saints may be set before us, that we may
their faith and good works, according to our calling, as the Emperor
follow the example of David in making war to drive away the Turk from
country; For both are kings. But the Scripture teaches not the
of saints or to ask help of saints, since it sets before us the one
as the Mediator, Propitiation, High Priest, and Intercessor. He is to
prayed to, and has promised that He will hear our prayer; and this
He approves above all, to wit, that in all afflictions He be called
1 John 2, 1: If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, etc.
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
Rome as known from its writers. This being the case, they judge harshly
who insist that our teachers be regarded as heretics. There is,
disagreement on certain Abuses, which have crept into the Church
rightful authority. And even in these, if there were some difference,
should be proper lenity on the part of bishops to bear with us by
of the Confession which we have now reviewed; because even the Canons
not so severe as to demand the same rites everywhere, neither, at any
have the rites of all churches been the same; although, among us, in
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,
as they could not be approved with a good conscience, have been to some
THE ABUSES WHICH HAVE BEEN CORRECTED.
dissent in no article of the faith from the Church Catholic, but only
some abuses which are new, and which have been erroneously accepted by
the corruption of the times, contrary to the intent of the Canons, we
that Your Imperial Majesty would graciously hear both what has been
and what were the reasons why the people were 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
disseminate strange slanders among the 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
Majesty will undoubtedly find that the form of doctrine and of
with us is not so intolerable as these ungodly and malicious men
Besides, the truth cannot be gathered from common rumors or the
of enemies. But it can readily be judged that nothing would serve
to maintain the dignity of ceremonies, and to nourish reverence and
devotion among the people than if the ceremonies were observed rightly
in the churches.
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XXII: Of Both Kinds in the Sacrament.
To the laity are
Kinds in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, because this usage has the
commandment of the Lord in Matt. 26, 27: Drink ye all of it, where
has manifestly commanded concerning the cup that all should drink.
craftily say that this refers only to priests, Paul in 1 Cor. 11,27
an example from which it appears that the whole congregation did use
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
that the blood was given to the people. The same is testified by
who says: The priests administer the Eucharist, and distribute the
of Christ to the people. Indeed, Pope Gelasius commands that the
be not divided (dist. II., De Consecratione, cap. Comperimus). Only
not so ancient, has it otherwise. But it is evident that any custom
against the commandments of God is not to be allowed, as the Canons
(dist. III., cap. Veritate, and the following chapters). But this
has been received, not only against the Scripture, but also against the
old Canons and the example of the Church. Therefore, if any preferred
use both kinds of the Sacrament, they ought not to have been compelled
with offense to their consciences to do otherwise. And because the
of the Sacrament does not agree with the ordinance of Christ, we are
to omit the procession, which hitherto has been in use.
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XXIII: Of the Marriage of Priests.
There has been
concerning the examples of priests who were not chaste. For that reason
also Pope Pius is reported to have said that there were certain causes
why marriage was taken away from priests, but that there were far
ones why it ought to be given back; for so Platina writes. Since,
our priests were desirous to avoid these open scandals, they married
and taught that it was lawful for them to contract matrimony. First,
Paul says, 1 Cor. 7, 2. 9: To avoid fornication, let every man have his
own wife. Also: It is better to marry than to burn. Secondly Christ
Matt. 19,11: All men cannot receive this saying, where He teaches that
not all men are fit to lead a single life; for God created man for
Gen. 1, 28. Nor is it in man's power, without a singular gift and work
of God, to alter this creation. [For it is manifest, and many have
that no good, honest, chaste life, no Christian, sincere, upright
has resulted (from the attempt), but a horrible, fearful unrest and
of conscience has been felt by many until the end.] Therefore, those
are not fit to lead a single life ought to contract matrimony. For no
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.
that in the ancient Church priests were married men. For Paul says, 1
3, 2, that a bishop should be chosen who is the husband of one wife.
in Germany, four hundred years ago for the first time, the priests were
violently compelled to lead a single life, who indeed offered such
that the Archbishop of Mayence, when about to publish the Pope's decree
concerning this matter, was almost killed in the tumult raised by the
priests. And so harsh was the dealing in the matter that not only were
marriages forbidden for the future, but also existing marriages were
asunder, contrary to all laws, divine and human, contrary even to the
themselves, made not only by the Popes, but by most celebrated Synods.
[Moreover, many God-fearing and intelligent people in high station are
known frequently to have expressed misgivings that such enforced
and depriving men of marriage (which God Himself has instituted and
free to men) has never produced any good results, but has brought on
great and evil vices and much iniquity.]
the world is aging, man's nature is gradually growing weaker, it is
to guard that no more vices steal into Germany.
marriage to be a help against human infirmity. The Canons themselves
that the old rigor ought now and then, in the latter times, to be
because of the weakness of men; which it is to be wished were done also
in this matter. And it is to be expected that the churches shall at
time lack pastors if marriage is any longer forbidden.
of God is in force, while the custom of the Church is well known, while
impure celibacy causes many scandals, adulteries, and other crimes
the punishments of just magistrates, yet it is a marvelous thing that
nothing is more cruelty exercised than against the marriage of priests.
God has given commandment to honor marriage. By the laws of all
commonwealths, even among the heathen, marriage is most highly honored.
But now men, and that, priests, are cruelly put to death, contrary to
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
be readily understood when the law against marriage is maintained by
can annul the commandment of God, so neither can it be done by any vow.
Accordingly, Cyprian also advises that women who do not keep the
they have promised should marry. His words are these (Book I, Epistle
): But if they be unwilling or unable to persevere, it is better for
to marry than to fall into the fire by their lusts; they should
give no offense to their brethren and sisters.
show some leniency toward those who have taken vows before the proper
as heretofore has generally been the case.
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XXIV: Of the Mass.
Falsely are our
of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and
with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also
save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with
German hymns, which have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies
are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they
to know of Christ]. And not only has Paul commanded to use in the
a language understood by the people 1 Cor. 14,2. 9, but it has also
so ordained by man's law. The people are accustomed to partake of the
together, if any be fit for it, and this also increases the reverence
devotion of public worship. For none are admitted except they be first
examined. The people are also advised concerning the dignity and use of
the Sacrament, how great consolation it brings anxious consciences,
they may learn to believe God, and to expect and ask of Him all that is
good. [In this connection they are also instructed regarding other and
false teachings on the Sacrament.] This worship pleases God; such use
the Sacrament nourishes true devotion toward God. It does not,
appear that the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries
than among us.
for a long time this also has been the public and most grievous
of all good men that Masses have been basely profaned and applied to
of lucre. For it is not unknown how far this abuse obtains in all the
by what manner of men Masses are said only for fees or stipends, and
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,
shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. When, therefore our
priests were admonished concerning this sin, Private Masses were
among us, as scarcely any Private Masses were celebrated except for
ignorant of these abuses, and if they had corrected them in time, there
would now be less dissension. Heretofore, by their own connivance, they
suffered many corruptions to creep into the Church. Now, when it is too
late, they begin to complain of the troubles of the Church, while this
disturbance has been occasioned simply by those abuses which were so
that they could be borne no longer. There have been great dissensions
the Mass, concerning the Sacrament. Perhaps the world is being punished
for such long-continued profanations of the Mass as have been tolerated
in the churches for so many centuries by the very men who were both
and in duty bound to correct them. For in the Ten Commandments it is
Ex. 20, 7: The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in
vain. But since the world began, nothing that God ever ordained seems
have been so abused for filthy lucre as the Mass.
the opinion which infinitely increased Private Masses, namely that
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 takes
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. [With this work men wished to obtain from God all that they
needed, and in the mean time faith in Christ and the true worship were
our teachers have given warning that they depart from the Holy
and diminish the glory of the passion of Christ. For Christ's passion
an oblation and satisfaction, not for original guilt only, but also for
all other sins, as it is written to the Hebrews, 10, 10: We are
through the offering of Jesus Christ once for all. Also, 10, 14: By one
offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. [It is an
unheard-of innovation in the Church to teach that Christ by His death
satisfaction only for original sin and not likewise for all other sin.
Accordingly it is hoped that everybody will understand that this error
has not been reproved without due reason.]
that we are justified before God through faith in Christ, when we
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
of the work of Masses, and not of faith, which Scripture does not allow.
us, Luke 22, 19: This do in remembrance of Me; therefore the Mass was
that the faith of those who use the Sacrament should remember what
it receives through Christ, and cheer and comfort the anxious
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
for this also the Jews and the ungodly can remember. Wherefore the Mass
is to be used to this end, that there the Sacrament [Communion] may be
administered to them that have need of consolation; as Ambrose says:
I always sin, I am always bound to take the medicine. [Therefore this
requires faith, and is used in vain without faith.]
forasmuch as the
Mass is such a giving of the Sacrament, we hold one communion every
and, if any desire the Sacrament, also on other days, when it is given
to such as ask for it. And this custom is not new in the Church; for
Fathers before Gregory make no mention of any private Mass, but of the
common Mass [the Communion] they speak very much. Chrysostom says that
the priest stands daily at he altar, inviting some to the Communion and
keeping back others. And it appears from the ancient Canons that some
celebrated the Mass from whom all the other presbyters and deacons
the body of he Lord; for thus the words of the Nicene Canon say: Let
deacons, according to their order, receive the Holy Communion after the
presbyters, from the bishop or from a presbyter. And Paul, 1 Cor. 11,
commands concerning the Communion: Tarry one for another, so that there
may be a common participation.
as the Mass with us has the example of the Church, taken from the
and the Fathers, we are confident that it cannot be disapproved,
since public ceremonies, for the most part like those hitherto in use,
are retained; 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
every day, as the Tripartite History (Book 9, chap. 33) testifies:
in Alexandria, every Wednesday and Friday the Scriptures are read, and
the doctors expound them, and all things are done, except the solemn
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XXV: Of Confession.
not abolished among us; for it is not usual to give the body of the
except to them that have been previously examined and absolved. And the
people are most carefully taught concerning faith in the absolution,
which formerly there was profound silence. Our people are taught that
should highly prize the absolution, as being the voice of God, and
by God's command. The power of the Keys is set forth in its beauty and
they are reminded what great consolation it brings to anxious
also, that God requires faith to believe such absolution as a voice
from heaven, and that such faith in Christ truly obtains and receives
forgiveness of sins. Aforetime satisfactions were immoderately
of faith and the merit of Christ and the righteousness of faith no
was made; wherefore, on this point, our churches are by no means to be
blamed. For this even our adversaries must needs concede to us that the
doctrine concerning repentance has been most diligently treated and
open by our teachers.
teach that an enumeration of sins is not necessary, and that
be not burdened with anxiety to enumerate all sins, for it is
to recount all sins, as the Psalm testifies, 19,13: Who can understand
his errors? Also Jeremiah, 17 9: The heart is deceitful; who can know
But if no sins were forgiven, except those that are recounted,
could never find peace; for very many sins they neither see nor can
The ancient writers also testify that an enumeration is not necessary.
For in the Decrees, Chrysostom is quoted, who says thus: I say not to
that you should disclose yourself in public, nor that you accuse
before others, but I would have you obey the prophet who says:
thy self before God." Therefore confess your sins before God, the true
Judge, with prayer. Tell your errors, not with the tongue, but with the
memory of your conscience, etc. And the Gloss (Of Repentance, Distinct.
V, Cap. Consideret) admits that Confession is of human right only [not
commanded by Scripture, but ordained by the Church]. Nevertheless, on
of the great benefit of absolution, and because it is otherwise useful
to the conscience, Confession is retained among us.
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XXVI: Of the Distinction of Meats.
It has been the
not of the people alone, but also of those teaching in the churches,
making Distinctions of Meats, and like traditions of men, are works
to merit grace, and able to make satisfactions for sins. And that the
so thought, appears from this, that new ceremonies, new orders, new
and new fastings were daily instituted, and the teachers in the
did exact these works as a service necessary to merit grace, and did
terrify men's consciences, if they should omit any of these things.
this persuasion concerning traditions much detriment has resulted in
of grace and of the righteousness of faith has been obscured by it,
is the chief part of the Gospel, and ought to stand out as the most
in the Church, in order that the merit of Christ may be well known, and
faith, which believes that sins are forgiven for Christ's sake be
far above works. Wherefore Paul also lays the greatest stress on this
putting aside the Law and human traditions, in order to show that
righteousness is something else than such works, to wit, the faith
believes that sins are freely forgiven for Christ's sake. But this
of Paul has been almost wholly smothered by traditions, which have
an opinion that, by making distinctions in meats and like services, we
must merit grace and righteousness. In treating of repentance, there
no mention made of faith; only those works of satisfaction were set
in these the entire repentance seemed to consist.
have obscured the commandments of God, because traditions were placed
above the commandments of God. Christianity was thought to consist
in the observance of certain holy-days, rites, fasts, and vestures.
observances had won for themselves the exalted title of being the
life and the perfect life. Meanwhile the commandments of God, according
to each one's calling, were without honor namely, that the father
up his offspring, that the mother bore children, that the prince
the commonwealth, -- these were accounted works that were worldly and
and far below those glittering observances. And this error greatly
devout consciences, which grieved that they were held in an imperfect
of life, as in marriage, in the office of magistrate; or in other civil
ministrations; on the other hand, they admired the monks and such like,
and falsely imagined that the observances of such men were more
brought great danger to consciences; for it was impossible to keep all
traditions, and yet men judged these observances to be necessary acts
worship. Gerson writes that many fell into despair, and that some even
took their own lives, because they felt that they were not able to
the traditions, and they had all the while not heard any consolation of
the righteousness of faith and grace. We see that the summists and
gather the traditions, and seek mitigations whereby to ease
and yet they do not sufficiently unfetter, but sometimes entangle,
even more. And with the gathering of these traditions, the schools and
sermons have been so much occupied that they have had no leisure to
upon Scripture, and to seek the more profitable doctrine of faith, of
cross, of hope, of the dignity of civil affairs of consolation of
tried consciences. Hence Gerson and some other theologians have
complained that by these strivings concerning traditions they were
from giving attention to a better kind of doctrine. Augustine also
that men's consciences should be burdened with such observances, and
advises Januarius that he must know that they are to be observed as
indifferent; for such are his words.
must not be looked upon as having taken up this matter rashly or from
of the bishops, as some falsely suspect. There was great need to warn
churches of these errors, which had arisen from misunderstanding the
For the Gospel compels us to insist in the churches upon the doctrine
grace, and of the righteousness of faith; which, however, cannot be
if men think that they merit grace by observances of their own choice.
have taught that by the observance of human traditions we cannot merit
grace or be justified, and hence we must not think such observances
acts of worship. They add hereunto testimonies of Scripture. Christ,
15, 3, defends the Apostles who had not observed the usual tradition,
however, evidently pertains to a matter not unlawful, but indifferent,
and to have a certain affinity with the purifications of the Law, and
9: In vain do they worship Me with the commandments of men. He,
does not exact an unprofitable service. Shortly after He adds: Not that
which goeth into the mouth defileth a man. So also Paul, Rom. 14, 17:
kingdom of God is not meat and drink. Col. 2, 16: Let no man,
judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the
Sabbath-day; also: If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the
world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to
Touch not, taste not, handle not! And Peter says, Acts 15, 10: Why
ye God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our
fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace
of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Here Peter
to burden the consciences with many rites, either of Moses or of
And in 1 Tim. 4,1.3 Paul calls the prohibition of meats a doctrine of
for it is against the Gospel to institute or to do such works that by
we may merit grace, or as though Christianity could not exist without
service of God.
object that our teachers are opposed to discipline and mortification of
the flesh, as Jovinian. But the contrary may be learned from the
of our teachers. For they have always taught concerning the cross that
it behooves Christians to bear afflictions. This is the true, earnest,
and unfeigned mortification, to wit, to be exercised with divers
and to be crucified with Christ.
that every Christian ought to train and subdue himself with bodily
or bodily exercises and labors that neither satiety nor slothfulness
him to sin, but not that we may merit grace or make satisfaction for
by such exercises. And such external discipline ought to be urged at
times, not only on a few and set days. So Christ commands, Luke 21, 34:
Take heed lest your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting; also Matt.
21: This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Paul also says,
1 Cor. 9, 27: I keep under my body and bring it into subjection. Here
clearly shows that he was keeping under his body, not to merit
of sins by that discipline, but to have his body in subjection and
for spiritual things, and for the discharge of duty according to his
Therefore, we do not condemn fasting in itself, but the traditions
prescribe certain days and certain meats, with peril of conscience, as
though such works were a necessary service.
many traditions are kept on our part, which conduce to good order in
Church, as the Order of Lessons in the Mass and the chief holy-days.
at the same time, men are warned that such observances do not justify
God, and that in such things it should not be made sin if they be
without offense. Such liberty in human rites was not unknown to the
For in the East they kept Easter at another time than at Rome, and
on account of this diversity, the Romans accused the Eastern Church of
schism, they were admonished by others that such usages need not be
everywhere. And Irenaeus says: Diversity concerning fasting does not
the harmony of faith; as also Pope Gregory intimates in Dist. XII, that
such diversity does not violate the unity of the Church. And in the
History, Book 9, many examples of dissimilar rites are gathered, and
following statement is made: It was not the mind of the Apostles to
rules concerning holy-days, but to preach godliness and a holy life [,
to teach faith and love].
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XXVII: Of Monastic Vows.
What is taught
Monastic Vows, will be better understood if it be remembered what has
the state of the monasteries, and how many things were daily done in
very monasteries, contrary to the Canons. In Augustine's time they were
free associations. Afterward, when discipline was corrupted, vows were
everywhere added for the purpose of restoring discipline, as in a
observances were added besides vows. And these fetters were laid upon
before the lawful age, contrary to the Canons.
this kind of life through ignorance, being unable to judge their own
though they were of sufficient age. Being thus ensnared, they were
to remain, even though some could have been freed by the kind provision
of the Canons. And this was more the case in convents of women than of
monks, although more consideration should have been shown the weaker
This rigor displeased many good men before this time, who saw that
men and maidens were thrown into convents for a living. They saw what
results came of this procedure, and what scandals were created, what
were cast upon consciences! They were grieved that the authority of the
Canons in so momentous a matter was utterly set aside and despised. To
these evils was added such a persuasion concerning vows as, it is well
known, in former times displeased even those monks who were more
They taught that vows were equal to Baptism; they taught that by this
of life they merited forgiveness of sins and justification before God.
Yea, they added that the monastic life not only merited righteousness
God but even greater things, because it kept not only the precepts, but
also the so-called "evangelical counsels."
believe that the profession of monasticism was far better than Baptism,
and that the monastic life was more meritorious than that of
than the life of pastors, and such like, who serve their calling in
with God's commands, without any man-made services. None of these
can be denied; for they appear in their own books. [Moreover, a person
who has been thus ensnared and has entered a monastery learns little of
pass in the monasteries? Aforetime they were schools of theology and
branches, profitable to the Church; and thence pastors and bishops were
obtained. Now it is another thing. It is needless to rehearse what is
to all. Aforetime they came together to learn; now they feign that it
a kind of life instituted to merit grace and righteousness; yea, they
that it is a state of perfection, and they put it far above all other
of life ordained of God. These things we have rehearsed without odious
exaggeration, to the end that the doctrine of our teachers on this
might be better understood.
as contract matrimony, they teach on our part that it is lawful for all
men who are not fitted for single life to contract matrimony, because
cannot annul the ordinance and commandment of God. But the commandment
of God is 1 Cor. 7, 2: To avoid fornication, let every man have his own
wife. Nor is it the commandment only, but also the creation and
of God, which forces those to marry who are not excepted by a singular
work of God, according to the text Gen. 2, 18: It is not good that the
man should be alone. Therefore they do not sin who obey this
and ordinance of God.
be raised to this? Let men extol the obligation of a vow as much as
list, yet shall they not bring to pass that the vow annuls the
of God. The Canons teach that the right of the superior is excepted in
every vow; [that vows are not binding against the decision of the
much less, therefore, are these vows of force which are against the
of vows could not be changed for any cause whatever, the Roman Pontiffs
could never have given dispensation for it is not lawful for man to
an obligation which is simply divine. But the Roman Pontiffs have
judged that leniency is to be observed in this obligation, and
we read that many times they have dispensed from vows. The case of the
King of Aragon who was called back from the monastery is well known,
there are also examples in our own times. [Now, if dispensations have
granted for the sake of securing temporal interests, it is much more
that they be granted on account of the distress of souls.]
why do our adversaries exaggerate the obligation or effect of a vow
at the same time, they have not a word to say of the nature of the vow
itself, that it ought to be in a thing possible, that it ought to be
and chosen spontaneously and deliberately? But it is not unknown to
extent perpetual chastity is in the power of man. And how few are there
who have taken the vow spontaneously and deliberately! Young maidens
men, before they are able to judge, are persuaded, and sometimes even
to take the vow. Wherefore it is not fair to insist so rigorously on
obligation, since it is granted by all that it is against the nature of
a vow to take it without spontaneous and deliberate action.
rescind vows made before the age of fifteen; for before that age there
does not seem sufficient judgment in a person to decide concerning a
life. Another Canon, granting more to the weakness of man, adds a few
for it forbids a vow to be made before the age of eighteen. But which
these two Canons shall we follow? The most part have an excuse for
the monasteries, because most of them have taken the vows before they
the violation of a vow might be censured, yet it seems not forthwith to
follow that the marriages of such persons must be dissolved. For
denies that they ought to be dissolved (XXVII. Quaest. I, Cap.
and his authority is not lightly to be esteemed, although other men
that God's command concerning marriage delivers very many from their
yet our teachers introduce also another argument concerning vows to
that they are void. For every service of God, ordained and chosen of
without the commandment of God to merit justification and grace, is
as Christ says Matt. 16, 9: In vain do they worship Me with the
of men. And Paul teaches everywhere that righteousness is not to be
from our own observances and acts of worship, devised by men, but that
it comes by faith to those who believe that they are received by God
grace for Christ's sake.
monks have taught that services of man's making satisfy for sins and
grace and justification. What else is this than to detract from the
of Christ and to obscure and deny the righteousness of faith? It
therefore, that the vows thus commonly taken have been wicked services,
and, consequently, are void. For a wicked vow, taken against the
of God, is not valid; for (as the Canon says) no vow ought to bind men
4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are
by the Law, ye are fallen from grace. To those, therefore, who want to
be justified by their vows Christ is made of no effect, and they fall
grace. For also these who ascribe justification to vows ascribe to
own works that which properly belongs to the glory of Christ.
indeed, that the monks have taught that, by their vows and observances,
they were justified, and merited forgiveness of sins, yea, they
still greater absurdities, saying that they could give others a share
their works. If any one should be inclined to enlarge on these things
evil intent, how many things could he bring together whereof even the
are now ashamed! Over and above this, they persuaded men that services
of man's making were a state of Christian perfection. And is not this
justification to works? It is no light offense in the Church to set
to the people a service devised by men, without the commandment of God,
and to teach that such service justifies men. For the righteousness of
faith, which chiefly ought to be taught in the Church, is obscured when
these wonderful angelic forms of worship, with their show of poverty,
and celibacy, are cast before the eyes of men.
of God and the true service of God are obscured when men hear that only
monks are in a state of perfection. For Christian perfection is to fear
God from the heart, and yet to conceive great faith, and to trust that
for Christ's sake we have a God who has been reconciled, to ask of God,
and assuredly to expect His aid in all things that, according to our
are to be done; and meanwhile, to be diligent in outward good works,
to serve our calling. In these things consist the true perfection and
true service of God. It does not consist in celibacy, or in begging, or
in vile apparel. But the people conceive many pernicious opinions from
the false commendations of monastic life. They hear celibacy praised
measure; therefore they lead their married life with offense to their
They hear that only beggars are perfect; therefore they keep their
and do business with offense to their consciences. They hear that it is
an evangelical counsel not to seek revenge; therefore some in private
are not afraid to take revenge, for they hear that it is but a counsel,
and not a commandment. Others judge that the Christian cannot properly
hold a civil office or be a magistrate.
examples of men who, forsaking marriage and the administration of the
have hid themselves in monasteries. This they called fleeing from the
and seeking a kind of life which would be more pleasing to God. Neither
did they see that God ought to be served in those commandments which He
Himself has given and not in commandments devised by men. A good and
kind of life is that which has for it the commandment of God. It is
to admonish men of these things.
Gerson rebukes this error of the monks concerning perfection, and
that in his day it was a new saying that the monastic life is a state
are inherent in the vows, namely, that they justify, that they
Christian perfection, that they keep the counsels and commandments,
they have works of supererogation. All these things, since they are
and empty, make vows null and void.
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XXVIII: Of Ecclesiastical Power.
There has been
concerning the Power of Bishops, in which some have awkwardly
the power of the Church and the power of the sword. And from this
very great wars and tumults have resulted, while the Pontiffs,
by the power of the Keys, not only have instituted new services and
consciences with reservation of cases and ruthless excommunications,
have also undertaken to transfer the kingdoms of this world, and to
the Empire from the Emperor. These wrongs have long since been rebuked
in the Church by learned and godly men. Therefore our teachers, for the
comforting of men's consciences, were constrained to show the
between the power of the Church and the power of the sword, and taught
that both of them, because of God's commandment, are to be held in
and honor, as the chief blessings of God on earth.
that the power of the Keys, or the power of the bishops, according to
Gospel, is a power or commandment of God, to preach the Gospel, to
and retain sins, and to administer Sacraments. For with this
Christ sends forth His Apostles, John 20, 21 sqq.: As My Father hath
Me, even so send I you. Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye
remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain,
are retained. Mark 16, 15: Go preach the Gospel to every creature.
only by teaching or preaching the Gospel and administering the
according to their calling either to many or to individuals. For
are granted, not bodily, but eternal things, as eternal righteousness,
the Holy Ghost, eternal life. These things cannot come but by the
of the Word and the Sacraments, as Paul says, Rom. 1, 16: The Gospel is
the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Therefore,
since the power of the Church grants eternal things, and is exercised
by the ministry of the Word, it does not interfere with civil
no more than the art of singing interferes with civil government. For
government deals with other things than does the Gospel. The civil
defend not minds, but bodies and bodily things against manifest
and restrain men with the sword and bodily punishments in order to
civil justice and peace.
of the Church and the civil power must not be confounded. The power of
the Church has its own commission to teach the Gospel and to administer
the Sacraments. Let it not break into the office of another; Let it not
transfer the kingdoms of this world; let it not abrogate the laws of
rulers; let it not abolish lawful obedience; let it not interfere with
judgments concerning civil ordinances or contracts; let it not
laws to civil rulers concerning the form of the Commonwealth. As Christ
says, John 18, 33: My kingdom is not of this world; also Luke 12, 14:
made Me a judge or a divider over you? Paul also says, Phil. 3, 20: Our
citizenship is in heaven; 2 Cor. 10, 4: The weapons of our warfare are
not carnal, but mighty through God to the casting down of imaginations.
teachers discriminate between the duties of both these powers, and
that both be honored and acknowledged as gifts and blessings of God.
power of the sword, that power they have, not as bishops, by the
of the Gospel, but by human law having received it of kings and
for the civil administration of what is theirs. This, however, is
office than the ministry of the Gospel.
question is concerning the jurisdiction of bishops, civil authority
be distinguished from ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Again, according to
the Gospel or, as they say, by divine right, there belongs to the
as bishops, that is, to those to whom has been committed the ministry
the Word and the Sacraments, no jurisdiction except to forgive sins, to
judge doctrine, to reject doctrines contrary to the Gospel, and to
from the communion of the Church wicked men, whose wickedness is known,
and this without human force, simply by the Word. Herein the
of necessity and by divine right must obey them, according to Luke 10,
16: He that heareth you heareth Me. But when they teach or ordain
against the Gospel, then the congregations have a commandment of God
obedience, Matt. 7, 15: Beware of false prophets; Gal. 1, 8: Though an
angel from heaven preach any other gospel, let him be accursed; 2 Cor.
13, 8: We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. Also:
power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to
So, also, the Canonical Laws command (II. Q. VII. Cap., Sacerdotes, and
Cap. Oves). And Augustine (Contra Petiliani Epistolam): Neither must we
submit to Catholic bishops if they chance to err, or hold anything
to the Canonical Scriptures of God.
power or jurisdiction, in hearing and judging certain cases, as of
or of tithes, etc., they have it by human right, in which matters
are bound, even against their will, when the ordinaries fail, to
justice to their subjects for the maintenance of peace.
whether bishops or pastors have the right to introduce ceremonies in
Church, and to make laws concerning meats, holy-days and grades, that
orders of ministers, etc. They that give this right to the bishops
to this testimony John 16, 12. 13: I have yet many things to say unto
but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is
He will guide you into all truth. They also refer to the example of the
Apostles, who commanded to abstain from blood and from things
Acts 15, 29. They refer to the Sabbath-day as having been changed into
the Lord's Day, contrary to the Decalog, as it seems. Neither is there
any example whereof they make more than concerning the changing of the
Sabbath-day. Great, say they, is the power of the Church, since it has
dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments!
question it is taught on our part (as has been shown above) that
have no power to decree anything against the Gospel. The Canonical Laws
teach the same thing (Dist. IX) . Now, it is against Scripture to
or require the observance of any traditions, to the end that by such
we may make satisfaction for sins, or merit grace and righteousness.
the glory of Christ's merit suffers injury when, by such observances,
undertake to merit justification. But it is manifest that, by such
traditions have almost infinitely multiplied in the Church, the
concerning faith and the righteousness of faith being meanwhile
For gradually more holy- days were made, fasts appointed, new
and services in honor of saints instituted, because the authors of such
things thought that by these works they were meriting grace. Thus in
past the Penitential Canons increased, whereof we still see some traces
in the satisfactions.
of traditions do contrary to the command of God when they find matters
of sin in foods, in days, and like things, and burden the Church with
of the law, as if there ought to be among Christians, in order to merit
justification a service like the Levitical, the arrangement of which
had committed to the Apostles and bishops. For thus some of them write;
and the Pontiffs in some measure seem to be misled by the example of
law of Moses. Hence are such burdens, as that they make it mortal sin,
even without offense to others, to do manual labor on holy-days, a
sin to omit the Canonical Hours, that certain foods defile the
that fastings are works which appease God that sin in a reserved case
be forgiven but by the authority of him who reserved it; whereas the
themselves speak only of the reserving of the ecclesiastical penalty,
not of the reserving of the guilt.
the right to lay these traditions upon the Church for the ensnaring of
consciences, when Peter, Acts 15, 10, forbids to put a yoke upon the
of the disciples, and Paul says, 2 Cor. 13, 10, that the power given
was to edification not to destruction? Why, therefore, do they increase
sins by these traditions?
testimonies which prohibit the making of such traditions, as though
merited grace or were necessary to salvation. Paul says, Col. 2, 16-
Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an
or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath-days. If ye be dead with Christ
the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye
subject to ordinances (touch not; taste not; handle not, which all are
to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of men!
which things have indeed a show of wisdom. Also in Titus 1, 14 he
forbids traditions: Not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments
men that turn from the truth.
14. 13, says of those who require traditions: Let them alone; they be
leaders of the blind; and He rejects such services: Every plant which
heavenly Father hath not planted shall be plucked up.
right to burden churches with infinite traditions, and to ensnare
why does Scripture so often prohibit to make, and to listen to,
Why does it call them "doctrines of devils"? 1 Tim. 4, 1. Did the Holy
Ghost in vain forewarn of these things?
instituted as things necessary, or with an opinion of meriting grace,
contrary to the Gospel, it follows that it is not lawful for any bishop
to institute or exact such services. For it is necessary that the
of Christian liberty be preserved in the churches, namely, that the
of the Law is not necessary to justification, as it is written in the
to the Galatians, 5, 1: Be not entangled again with the yoke of
It is necessary that the chief article of the Gospel be preserved, to
that we obtain grace freely by faith in Christ, and not for certain
or acts of worship devised by men.
to think of the Sunday and like rites in the house of God? To this we
that it is lawful for bishops or pastors to make ordinances that things
be done orderly in the Church, not that thereby we should merit grace
make satisfaction for sins, or that consciences be bound to judge them
necessary services, and to think that it is a sin to break them without
offense to others. So Paul ordains, 1 Cor. 11, 5, that women should
their heads in the congregation, 1 Cor. 14, 30, that interpreters be
in order in the church, etc.
churches should keep such ordinances for the sake of love and
so far that one do not offend another, that all things be done in the
in order, and without confusion, 1 Cor. 14, 40; comp. Phil. 2, 14; but
so that consciences be not burdened to think that they are necessary to
salvation, or to judge that they sin when they break them without
to others; as no one will say that a woman sins who goes out in public
with her head uncovered provided only that no offense be given.
observance of the Lord's Day, Easter, Pentecost, and like holy- days
rites. For those who judge that by the authority of the Church the
of the Lord's Day instead of the Sabbath-day was ordained as a thing
do greatly err. Scripture has abrogated the Sabbath-day; for it teaches
that, since the Gospel has been revealed, all the ceremonies of Moses
omitted. And yet, because it was necessary to appoint a certain day,
the people might know when they ought to come together, it appears that
the Church designated the Lord's Day for this purpose; and this day
to have been chosen all the more for this additional reason, that men
have an example of Christian liberty, and might know that the keeping
of the Sabbath nor of any other day is necessary.
disputations concerning the changing of the law, the ceremonies of the
new law, the changing of the Sabbath-day, which all have sprung from
false belief that there must needs be in the Church a service like to
Levitical, and that Christ had given commission to the Apostles and
to devise new ceremonies as necessary to salvation. These errors crept
into the Church when the righteousness of faith was not taught clearly
enough. Some dispute that the keeping of the Lord's Day is not indeed
divine right, but in a manner so. They prescribe concerning holy-days,
how far it is lawful to work. What else are such disputations than
of consciences? For although they endeavor to modify the traditions,
the mitigation can never be perceived as long as the opinion remains
they are necessary, which must needs remain where the righteousness of
faith and Christian liberty are not known.
Acts 15, 20 to abstain from blood. Who does now observe it? And yet
that do it not sin not; for not even the Apostles themselves wanted to
burden consciences with such bondage; but they forbade it for a time,
avoid offense. For in this decree we must perpetually consider what the
aim of the Gospel is.
are kept with exactness, and from day to day many go out of use even
those who are the most zealous advocates of traditions. Neither can due
regard be paid to consciences unless this mitigation be observed, that
we know that the Canons are kept without holding them to be necessary,
and that no harm is done consciences, even though traditions go out of
easily retain the lawful obedience of the people if they would not
upon the observance of such traditions as cannot be kept with a good
Now they command celibacy; they admit none unless they swear that they
will not teach the pure doctrine of the Gospel. The churches do not ask
that the bishops should restore concord at the expense of their honor;
which, nevertheless, it would be proper for good pastors to do. They
only that they would release unjust burdens which are new and have been
received contrary to the custom of the Church Catholic. It may be that
in the beginning there were plausible reasons for some of these
and yet they are not adapted to later times. It is also evident that
were adopted through erroneous conceptions. Therefore it would be
the clemency of the Pontiffs to mitigate them now, because such a
does not shake the unity of the Church. For many human traditions have
been changed in process of time, as the Canons themselves show. But if
it be impossible to obtain a mitigation of such observances as cannot
kept without sin, we are bound to follow the apostolic rule, Acts 5,
which commands us to obey God rather than men.
forbids bishops to be lords, and to rule over the churches. It is not
design now to wrest the government from the bishops, but this one thing
is asked, namely, that they allow the Gospel to be purely taught, and
they relax some few observances which cannot be kept without sin. But
they make no concession, it is for them to see how they shall give
to God for furnishing, by their obstinacy, a cause for schism.
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These are the
which seem to be in controversy. For although we might have spoken of
abuses, yet, to avoid undue length, we have set forth the chief points,
from which the rest may be readily judged. There have been great
concerning indulgences, pilgrimages, and the abuse of excommunications.
The parishes have been vexed in many ways by the dealers in
There were endless contentions between the pastors and the monks
the parochial right, confessions, burials, sermons on extraordinary
and innumerable other things. Issues of this sort we have passed over
that the chief points in this matter, having been briefly set forth,
be the more readily understood. Nor has anything been here said or
to the reproach of any one. Only those things have been recounted
we thought that it was necessary to speak, in order that it might be
that in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part
Scripture or the Church Catholic. For it is manifest that we have taken
most diligent care that no new and ungodly doctrine should creep into
we desire to present in accordance with the edict of Your Imperial
in order to exhibit our Confession and let men see a summary of the
of our teachers. If there is anything that any one might desire in this
Confession, we are ready, God willing, to present ampler information
to the Scriptures.
Ernest, Duke of
Francis, Duke of