Friday, Week 33
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A Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope
39] Now, it is manifest that the Roman pontiffs, with their adherents, defend [and practice] godless doctrines and godless services. And the marks [all the vices] of Antichrist plainly agree with the kingdom of the Pope and his adherents. For Paul, in describing Antichrist to the Thessalonians, calls him 2 Thess. 2:3-4: an adversary of Christ, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God. He speaks therefore of one ruling in the Church, not of heathen kings, and he calls this one the adversary of Christ, because he will devise doctrine conflicting with the Gospel, and will assume to himself divine authority.
40] Moreover, it is manifest, in the first place, that the Pope rules in the Church, and by the pretext of ecclesiastical authority and of the ministry has established for himself this kingdom. For he assigns as a pretext these words: I will give to thee the keys. Secondly, the doctrine of the Pope conflicts in many ways with the Gospel, and [thirdly] the Pope assumes to himself divine authority in a threefold manner. First, because he takes to himself the right to change the doctrine of Christ and services instituted by God, and wants his own doctrine and his own services to be observed as divine; secondly, because he takes to himself the power not only of binding and loosing in this life, but also the jurisdiction over souls after this life; thirdly, because the Pope does not want to be judged by the Church or by any one, and puts his own authority ahead of the decision of Councils and the entire Church. But to be unwilling to be judged by the Church or by any one is to make oneself God. Lastly, these errors so horrible, and this impiety, he defends with the greatest cruelty, and puts to death those dissenting.
41] This being the case, all Christians ought to beware of becoming partakers of the godless doctrine, blasphemies, and unjust cruelty of the Pope. On this account they ought to desert and execrate the Pope with his adherents as the kingdom of Antichrist; just as Christ has commanded, Matt. 7:15: Beware of false prophets. And Paul commands that godless teachers should be avoided and execrated as cursed, Gal. 1:8; Titus 3:10. And he says, 2 Cor. 6:14: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what communion hath light with darkness?
42] To dissent from the agreement of so many nations and to be called schismatics is a grave matter. But divine authority commands all not to be allies and defenders of impiety and unjust cruelty.
On this account our consciences are sufficiently excused; for the errors of the kingdom of the Pope are manifest. And Scripture with its entire voice exclaims that these errors are a teaching of demons and of Antichrist. 43] The idolatry in the profanation of the masses is manifest, which, besides other faults [besides being altogether useless] are shamelessly applied to most shameful gain [and trafficking]. 44] The doctrine of repentance has been utterly corrupted by the Pope and his adherents. For they teach that sins are remitted because of the worth of our works. Then they bid us doubt whether the remission takes place. They nowhere teach that sins are remitted freely for Christ’s sake, and that by this faith we obtain remission of sins.
Thus they obscure the glory of Christ, and deprive consciences of firm consolation, and abolish true divine services, namely, the exercises of faith struggling with [unbelief and] despair [concerning the promise of the Gospel].
45] They have obscured the doctrine concerning sin, and have invented a tradition concerning the enumeration of offenses, producing many errors and despair.
They have devised, in addition, satisfactions, whereby they have also obscured the benefit [and merit] of Christ.
46] From these, indulgences have been born, which are pure lies, fabricated for the sake of gain.
47] Then, how many abuses and what horrible idolatry the invocation of saints has produced!
48] What shameful acts have arisen from the tradition concerning celibacy!
What darkness the doctrine concerning vows has spread over the Gospel! There they feigned that vows are righteousness before God and merit the remission of sins. Thus they have transferred the benefit of Christ to human traditions, and have altogether extinguished the doctrine concerning faith. They have feigned that the most trifling traditions are services of God and perfection and have preferred these to the works of callings which God requires and has ordained. Neither are these errors to be regarded as light; for they detract from the glory of Christ and bring destruction to souls, neither can they be passed by unnoticed.
49] Then to these errors two great sins are added: The first, that he defends these errors by unjust cruelty and death-penalties. The second, that he wrests the decision from the Church, and does not permit ecclesiastical controversies [such matters of religion] to be judged according to the prescribed mode; yea he contends that he is above the Council, and can rescind the decrees of Councils, as the canons sometimes impudently speak. But that this was much more impudently done by the pontiffs, examples testify.
50] Quest. 9, canon 3, says: No one shall judge the first seat; for the judge is judged neither by the emperor, nor by all the clergy, nor by the kings, nor by the people.
51] The Pope exercises a twofold tyranny: he defends his errors by force and by murders, and forbids judicial examination. The latter does even more injury than any executions, because, when the true judgment of the Church is removed, godless dogmas and godless services cannot be removed, and for many ages they destroy innumerable souls.
52] Therefore let the godly consider the great errors of the kingdom of the Pope and his tyranny, and let them ponder, first, that the errors must be rejected and the true doctrine embraced, for the glory of God and to the salvation of souls. 53] Then let them ponder also how great a crime it is to aid unjust cruelty in killing saints, whose blood God will undoubtedly avenge.
54] But especially the chief members of the Church, kings and princes, ought to guard the interests of the Church, and to see to it that errors be removed and consciences be healed [rightly instructed], as God expressly exhorts kings, Ps. 2:10: Be wise, now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. For it should be the first care of kings [and great lords] to advance the glory of God. Therefore it would be very shameful for them to lend their influence and power to confirm idolatry and infinite other crimes, and to slaughter saints.
Today’s reader: Trent Demarest
Trent is a husband, a father, and a schoolteacher. He is also the proprietor of this website.