concordcast round 2

The index for the schedule of readings can be found here: Daily Readings from the Book of Concord (HT: BookofConcord.org)



Thanks to Rev. Christopher Porter, Christopher Antonetti, Rev. Bruce Hindenburg, and Rev. William Cwirla for their readings this week.

ConcordCast Week 6

Large Catechism I.265 » II.8

Explanation to the Eighth Commandment (b)
– thru –
Explanation to the Apostles’ Creed (a)

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ConcordCast Week 21

Of Confession » Of Repentance (part 1)

Thanks to Christopher Hogan, Charles Wiese, and Noah Hahn for their contributions this week.

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Article XI: Of Confession.

58] The Eleventh Article, Of Retaining Absolution in the Church, is approved. But they add a correction in reference to confession, namely, that the regulation headed, Omnis Utriusque, be observed, and that both annual confession be made, and, although all sins cannot be enumerated, nevertheless diligence be employed in order that they be recollected, and those which can be recalled, be recounted. Concerning this entire article, we will speak at greater length after a while, when we will explain our entire opinion concerning repentance. 59] It is well known that we have so elucidated and extolled [that we have preached, written, and taught in a, manner so Christian, correct, and pure] the benefit of absolution and the power of the keys that many distressed consciences have derived consolation from our doctrine; after they heard that it is the command of God, nay, rather the very voice of the Gospel, that we should believe the absolution, and regard it as certain that the remission of sins is freely granted us for Christ’s sake; and that we should believe that by this faith we are truly reconciled to God [as though we heard a voice from heaven]. This belief has encouraged many godly minds, and, in the beginning, brought Luther the highest commendation from all good men, since it shows consciences sure and firm consolation; because previously the entire power of absolution [entire necessary doctrine of repentance] had been kept suppressed by doctrines concerning works, since the sophists and monks taught nothing of faith and free remission [but pointed men to their own works, from which nothing but despair enters alarmed consciences].

60] But with respect to the time, certainly most men in our churches use the Sacraments, absolution and the Lord’s Supper, frequently in a year. And those who teach of the worth and fruits of the Sacraments speak in such a manner as to invite the people to use the Sacraments frequently. For concerning this subject there are many things extant written by our theologians in such a manner that the adversaries, if they are good men, will undoubtedly approve and 61] praise them. Excommunication is also pronounced against the openly wicked [those who live in manifest vices, fornication, adultery, etc.] and the despisers of the Sacraments. These things are thus done both according to the Gospel and according to 62] the old canons. But a fixed time is not prescribed, because all are not ready in like manner at the same time. Yea, if all are to come at the same time, they cannot be heard and instructed in order [so diligently]. And the old canons and Fathers do not appoint a fixed time. The canon speaks only thus: If any enter the Church and be found never to commune, let them be admonished that, if they do not commune, they come to repentance. If they commune [if they wish to be regarded as Christians], let them not be expelled; if they fail to do so, let them be excommunicated. Christ [Paul] says, 1 Cor. 11:29, that those who eat unworthily eat judgment to themselves. The pastors, accordingly, do not compel those who are not qualified to use the Sacraments.

63] Concerning the enumeration of sins in confession, men are taught in such a way as not to ensnare their consciences. Although it is of advantage to accustom inexperienced men to enumerate some things [which worry them], in order that they may be the more readily taught, yet we are now discussing what is necessary according to divine Law. Therefore, the adversaries ought not to cite for us the regulation Omnis Utriusque, which is not unknown to us, but they ought to show from the divine Law that an enumeration of sins is necessary for obtaining their remission. 64] The entire Church, throughout all Europe, knows what sort of snares this point of the regulation, which commands that all sins be confessed, has cast upon consciences. Neither has the text by itself as much disadvantage as was afterwards added by the Summists, who collect the circumstances of the sins. What labyrinths were there! How great a torture for the best minds! For the licentious and profane were in no way moved by these instruments of terror. 65] Afterwards, what tragedies [what jealousy and hatred] did the questions concerning one’s own priest excite among the pastors and brethren [monks of various orders], who then were by no means brethren when they were warring concerning jurisdiction of confessions! [For all brotherliness, all friendship, ceased, when the question was concerning authority and confessor’s fees.] We, therefore, believe that, according to divine Law, the enumeration of sins is not necessary. This also is pleasing to Panormitanus and very many other learned jurisconsults. Nor do we wish to impose necessity upon the consciences of our people by the regulation Omnis Utriusque, of which we judge, just as of other human traditions, that they are not acts of worship necessary for justification. And this regulation commands an impossible matter, that we should confess all sins. It is evident, however, that most sins we neither remember nor understand [nor do we indeed even see the greatest sins], according to Ps. 19:13: Who can understand his errors?

66] If the pastors are good men, they will know how far it is of advantage to examine [the young and otherwise] inexperienced persons; but we do not wish to sanction the torture [the tyranny of consciences] of the Summists, which notwithstanding would have been less intolerable if they had added one word concerning faith, which comforts and encourages consciences. Now, concerning this faith, which obtains the remission of sins, there is not a syllable in so great a mass of regulations, glosses, summaries, books of confession. Christ is nowhere read there. [Nobody will there read a word by which he could learn to know Christ, or what Christ is.] Only the lists of sins are read [to the end of gathering and accumulating sins; and this would be of some value if they understood those sins which God regards as such]. And the greater part is occupied with sins against human traditions, 67] and this is most vain. This doctrine has forced to despair many, godly minds, which were not able to find rest, because they believed that by divine Law an enumeration was necessary, and yet they experienced that it was impossible. But other faults of no less moment inhere in the doctrine of the adversaries concerning repentance, which we will now recount.


Article XII, Of Repentance: 1-67

1] In the Twelfth Article they approve of the first part, in which we set forth that such as have fallen after baptism may obtain remission of sins at whatever time, and as often as they are converted. They condemn the second part, in which we say that the parts of repentance are contrition and faith [a penitent, contrite heart, and faith, namely, that I receive the forgiveness of sins through Christ]. [Hear, now, what it is that the adversaries deny.] They [without shame] deny that faith is the second part 2] of repentance. What are we to do here, O Charles, thou most invincible Emperor? The very voice of the Gospel is this, that by faith we obtain the remission of sins. [This word is not our word, but the voice and word of Jesus Christ, our Savior.] This voice of the Gospel these writers of the Confutation condemn. We, therefore, can in no way assent to the Confutation. We cannot condemn the voice of the Gospel, so salutary and abounding in consolation. What else is the denial that by faith we obtain remission of sins than to treat the blood and death of Christ with scorn? 3] We therefore beseech thee, O Charles, most invincible Emperor, patiently and diligently to hear and examine this most important subject, which contains the chief topic of the Gospel, and the true knowledge of Christ, and the true worship of God [these great, most exalted and important matters which concern our own souls and consciences, yea, also the entire faith of Christians, the entire Gospel, the knowledge of Christ, and what is highest and greatest, not only in this perishable, but also in the future life: the everlasting welfare or perdition of us all before God]. For all good men will ascertain that especially on this subject we have taught things that are true, godly, salutary, and necessary for the whole Church of Christ [things of the greatest significance to all pious hearts in the entire Christian Church, on which their whole salvation and welfare depends, and without instruction on which there can be or remain no ministry, no Christian Church]. They will ascertain from the writings of our theologians that very much light has been added to the Gospel, and many pernicious errors have been corrected, by which, through the opinions of the scholastics and canonists, the doctrine of repentance was previously covered.

4] Before we come to the defense of our position, we must say this first: All good men of all ranks, and also of the theological rank, undoubtedly confess that before the writings of Luther appeared, the doctrine of repentance was very much confused. 5] The books of the Sententiaries are extant, in which there are innumerable questions which no theologians were ever able to explain satisfactorily. The people were able neither to comprehend the sum of the matter, nor to see what things especially were required in repentance, where peace of conscience was to be sought for. 6] Let any one of the adversaries come forth and tell us when remission of sins takes place. O good God, what darkness there is! They doubt whether it is in attrition or in contrition that remission of sins occurs. And if it occurs on account of contrition, what need is there of absolution, what does the power of the keys effect, if sins have been already remitted? Here, indeed, they also labor much more, and wickedly detract from the power of the keys. 7] Some dream that by the power of the keys guilt is not remitted, but that eternal punishments are changed into temporal. Thus the most salutary power would be the ministry, not of life and the Spirit, but only of wrath and punishments. Others, namely, the more cautious, imagine that by the power of the keys sins are remitted before the Church and not before God. This also is a pernicious error. For if the power of the keys does not console us before God, what, then, will pacify the conscience? 8] Still more involved is what follows. They teach that by contrition we merit grace. In reference to which, if any one should ask why Saul and Judas and similar persons, who were dreadfully contrite, did not obtain grace, the answer was to be taken from faith and according to the Gospel, that Judas did not believe, that he did not support himself by the Gospel and promise of Christ. For faith shows the distinction between the contrition of Judas and of Peter. But the adversaries take their answer from the Law, that Judas did not love God, but feared the punishments. [Is not this teaching uncertain and improper things concerning repentance?] 9] When, however, will a terrified conscience, especially in those serious, true, and great terrors which are described in the psalms and the prophets, and which those certainly taste who are truly converted, be able to decide whether it fears God for His own sake [out of love it fears God, as its God], or is fleeing from eternal punishments? [These people may not have experienced much of these anxieties, because they juggle words and make distinctions according to their dreams. But in the heart, when the test is applied, the matter turns out quite differently, and the conscience cannot be set at rest with paltry syllables and words.] These great emotions can be distinguished in letters and terms; they are not thus separated in fact, as these sweet sophists dream. Here we appeal to the judgments of all good and wise men [who also desire to know the truth]. They undoubtedly will confess that these discussions in the writings of the adversaries are very confused and intricate. And nevertheless the most important subject is at stake, the chief topic of the Gospel, the remission of sins. This entire doctrine concerning these questions which we have reviewed, is, in the writings of the adversaries, full of errors and hypocrisy, and obscures the benefit of Christ, the power of the keys, and the righteousness of faith [to inexpressible injury of conscience].

11] These things occur in the first act. What when they come to confession? What a work there is in the endless enumeration of sins, which is nevertheless, in great part, devoted to those against human traditions! And in order that good minds may by this means be the more tortured, they falsely assert that this 12] enumeration is of divine right. And while they demand this enumeration under the pretext of divine right, in the mean time they speak coldly concerning absolution, which is truly of divine right. They falsely assert that the Sacrament itself confers grace ex opere operato, without a good disposition on the part of the one using it; no mention is made of faith apprehending the absolution and consoling the conscience. This is truly what is generally called … departing before the mysteries. [Such people are called genuine Jews.]

13] The third act [of this play] remains, concerning satisfactions. But this contains the most confused discussions. They imagine that eternal punishments are commuted to the punishments of purgatory, and teach that a part of these is remitted by the power of the keys, and that a part is to be redeemed by means of satisfactions. 14] They add further that satisfactions ought to be works of supererogation, and they make these consist of most foolish observances, such as pilgrimages, rosaries, or similar observances which 15] do not have the command of God. Then, just as they redeem purgatory by means of satisfactions, so a scheme of redeeming satisfactions which was most abundant in revenue [which became quite a profitable, lucrative business and a grand fair] was devised. For they sell [without shame] indulgences which they interpret as remissions of satisfactions. And this revenue [this trafficking, this fair, conducted so shamelessly] is not only from the living, but is much more ample from the dead. Nor do they redeem the satisfactions of the dead only by indulgences, but also by the sacrifice of the Mass. 16] In a word, the subject of satisfactions is infinite. Among these scandals (for we cannot enumerate all things) and doctrines of devils lies buried the doctrine of the righteousness of faith in Christ and the benefit of Christ. Wherefore, all good men understand that the doctrine of the sophists and canonists concerning repentance has been censured for a useful and godly purpose. For the following dogmas are clearly false, and foreign not only to Holy Scripture, but also to the Church Fathers:-

17] I. That from the divine covenant we merit grace by good works wrought without grace.

18] II. That by attrition we merit grace.

19] III. That for the blotting out of sin the mere detestation of the crime is sufficient.

20] IV. That on account of contrition, and not by faith in Christ, we obtain remission of sins.

21] V. That the power of the keys avails for the remission of sins, not before God, but before the Church.

22] VI. That by the power of the keys sins are not remitted before God, but that the power of the keys has been instituted to commute eternal to temporal punishments, to impose upon consciences certain satisfactions, to institute new acts of worship, and to obligate consciences to such satisfactions and acts of worship.

23] VII. That according to divine right the enumeration of offenses in confession, concerning which the adversaries teach, is necessary.

24] VIII. That canonical satisfactions are necessary for redeeming the punishment of purgatory, or they profit as a compensation for the blotting out of guilt. For thus uninformed persons understand it. [For, although in the schools satisfactions are made to apply only to the punishment, everybody thinks that remission of guilt is thereby merited.]

25] IX. That the reception of the sacrament of repentance ex opere operato, without a good disposition on the part of the one using it, i.e., without faith in Christ, obtains grace.

26] X. That by the power of the keys our souls are freed from purgatory through indulgences.

27] XI. That in the reservation of cases not only canonical punishment, but the guilt also, ought to be reserved in reference to one who is truly converted.

28] In order, therefore, to deliver pious consciences from these labyrinths of the sophists, we have ascribed to repentance [or conversion] these two parts, namely, contrition and faith. If any one desires to add a third, namely, fruits worthy of repentance, i.e., a change of the entire life and character for the better [good works which shall and must follow conversion], 29] we will not make any opposition. From contrition we separate those idle and infinite discussions, as to when we grieve from love of God, and when from fear of punishment. [For these are nothing but mere words and a useless babbling of persons who have never experienced the state of mind of a terrified conscience.] But we say that contrition is the true terror of conscience, which feels that God is angry with sin, and which grieves that it has sinned. And this contrition takes place in this manner when sins are censured by the Word of God, because the sum of the preaching of the Gospel is this, namely, to convict of sin, and to offer for Christ’s sake the remission of sins and righteousness, and the Holy Ghost, and eternal life, and that as regenerate men we should do good works. 30] Thus Christ comprises the sum of the Gospel when He says in Luke 24:47: That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in My name among all nations. 31] And of these terrors Scripture speaks, as Ps. 38:4. 8: For mine iniquities are gone over mine head, as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me…. I am feeble and sore broken; I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. And Ps. 6:2. 3: Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak; O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed; but Thou, O Lord, how long? And Is. 38:10. 13: I said in the cutting off of my days, I shalt go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years … I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will He break all my bones. [Again, Is 38:14: Mine eyes fail with looking upward; O Lord, I am oppressed.] 32] In these terrors, conscience feels the wrath of God against sin, which is unknown to secure men walking according to the flesh [as the sophists and their like]. It sees the turpitude of sin, and seriously grieves that it has sinned; meanwhile it also flees from the dreadful wrath of God, because human 33] nature, unless sustained by the Word of God, cannot endure it. Thus Paul says, Gal. 2:19: I through the Law am dead to the Law. 34] For the Law only accuses and terrifies consciences. In these terrors our adversaries say nothing of faith; they present only the Word, which convicts of sin. When this is taught alone, it is the doctrine of the Law, not of the Gospel. By these griefs and terrors, they say, men merit grace, provided they love God. But how will men love God in true terrors when they feel the terrible and inexpressible wrath of God? What else than despair do those teach who, in these terrors, display only the Law?

35] We therefore add as the second part of repentance, Of Faith in Christ, that in these terrors the Gospel concerning Christ ought to be set forth to consciences, in which Gospel the remission of sins is freely promised concerning Christ. Therefore, they ought to believe that for Christ’s sake 36] sins are freely remitted to them. This faith cheers, sustains, and quickens the contrite, according to Rom. 5:1: Being justified by faith, we have peace with God. This faith obtains the remission of sins. This faith justifies before God, as the same passage testifies: Being justified by faith. This faith shows the distinction between the contrition of Judas and Peter, of Saul and of David. The contrition of Judas or Saul is of no avail, for the reason that to this there is not added this faith, which apprehends the remission of sins, bestowed as a gift for Christ’s sake. Accordingly, the contrition of David or Peter avails, because to it there is added faith, which apprehends the remission of sins granted for Christ’s sake. 37] Neither is love present before reconciliation has been made by faith. For without Christ the Law [God’s Law or the First Commandment] is not performed, according to [Eph. 2:18; 3:12 ] Rom. 5:2: By Christ we have access to God. And this faith grows gradually and throughout the entire life, struggles with sin [is tested by various temptations] in order to overcome sin and death. 38] But love follows faith, as we have said above. And thus filial fear can be clearly defined as such anxiety as has been connected with faith, i.e., where faith consoles and sustains the anxious heart. It is servile fear when faith does not sustain the anxious heart [fear without faith, where there is nothing but wrath and doubt].

39] Moreover, the power of the keys administers and presents the Gospel through absolution, which [proclaims peace to me and] is the true voice of the Gospel. Thus we also comprise absolution when we speak of faith, because faith cometh by hearing, as Paul says Rom. 10:17. For when the Gospel is heard, and the absolution [i.e., the promise of divine grace] is heard, the conscience is encouraged and receives consolation. 40] And because God truly quickens through the Word, the keys truly remit sins before God [here on earth sins are truly canceled in such a manner that they are canceled also before God in heaven] according to Luke 10:16: He that heareth you heareth Me. Wherefore the voice of the one absolving 41] must be believed not otherwise than we would believe a voice from heaven. And absolution [that blessed word of comfort] properly can be called a sacrament of repentance, as also the more learned scholastic theologians speak. 42] Meanwhile this faith is nourished in a manifold way in temptations, through the declarations of the Gospel [the hearing of sermons, reading] and the use of the Sacraments. For these are [seals and] signs of [the covenant and grace in] the New Testament, i.e., signs of [propitiation and] the remission of sins. They offer, therefore, the remission of sins, as the words of the Lord’s Supper clearly testify, Matt. 26:26. 28: This is My body, which is given for you. This is the cup of the New Testament, etc. Thus faith is conceived and strengthened through absolution, through the hearing of the Gospel, through the use of the Sacraments, so that it may not succumb while it struggles 43] with the terrors of sin and death. This method of repentance is plain and clear, and increases the worth of the power of the keys and of the Sacraments, and illumines the benefit of Christ, and teaches us to avail ourselves of Christ as Mediator and Propitiator.

44] But as the Confutation condemns us for having assigned these two parts to repentance, we must show that [not we, but] Scripture expresses these as the chief parts in repentance or conversion. For Christ says, Matt. 11:28: Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Here there are two members. The labor and the burden signify the contrition, anxiety, and terrors of sin and of death. To come to Christ is to believe that sins are remitted for Christ’s sake; when we believe, our hearts are quickened by the Holy Ghost 45] through the Word of Christ. Here, therefore, there are these two chief parts, contrition and faith. And in Mark 1:15 Christ says: Repent ye and believe the Gospel, where in the first member He convicts of sins; in the latter He consoles us, and shows the remission of sins. For to believe the Gospel is not that general faith which devils also have [is not only to believe the history of the Gospel], but in the proper sense it is to believe that the remission of sins has been granted for Christ’s sake. For this is revealed in the Gospel. You see also here that the two parts are joined, contrition when sins are reproved, and faith, when it is said: Believe the Gospel. If any one should say here that Christ includes also the fruits of repentance or the entire new life, we shall not dissent. For this suffices us, that contrition and faith are named as the chief parts.

46] Paul almost everywhere, when he describes conversion or renewal, designates these two parts, mortification and quickening, as in Col. 2:11: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, namely, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh. And afterward, Col 2:12: Wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God. Here are two parts. [Of these two parts he speaks plainly Rom. 6:2, 4, 11, that we are dead to sin, which takes place by contrition and its terrors, and that we should rise again with Christ, which takes place when by faith we again obtain consolation and life. And since faith is to bring consolation and peace into the conscience, according to Rom. 5:1: Being justified by faith, we have peace, it follows that there is first terror and anxiety in the conscience. Thus contrition and faith go side by side.] One is putting off the body of sins; the other is the rising again through faith. Neither ought these words, mortification, quickening, putting off the body of sins, rising again, to be understood in a Platonic way, concerning a feigned change; 47] but mortification signifies true terrors, such as those of the dying, which nature could not sustain unless it were supported by faith. So he names that as the putting off of the body of sins which we ordinarily call contrition, because in these griefs the natural concupiscence is purged away. And quickening ought not to be understood as a Platonic fancy, but as consolation which truly sustains life that is escaping in contrition. Here, therefore, are two parts: contrition and faith. For as conscience cannot be pacified except by faith, therefore faith alone quickens, according to the declaration, Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17: The just shall live by faith.

48] And then in Col. 2:14 it is said that Christ blots out the handwriting which through the Law is against us. Here also there are two parts, the handwriting and the blotting out of the handwriting. The handwriting, however, is conscience, convicting and condemning us. The Law, moreover, is the word which reproves and condemns sins. Therefore, this voice which says, I have sinned against the Lord, as David says, 2 Sam. 12:13, is the handwriting. And wicked and secure men do not seriously give forth this voice. For they do not see, they do not read the sentence of the Law written in the heart. In true griefs and terrors this sentence is perceived. Therefore the handwriting which condemns us is contrition itself. To blot out the handwriting is to expunge this sentence by which we declare that we shall be condemned, and to engrave the sentence according to which we know that we have been freed from this condemnation. But faith is the new sentence, which reverses the former sentence, and gives peace and life to the heart.

49] However, what need is there to cite many testimonies since they are everywhere obvious in the Scriptures? Ps. 118:18: The Lord hath chastened me sore, but He hath not given me over unto death. Ps. 119:28: My soul melteth for heaviness; strengthen Thou me according unto Thy word. Here, in the first member, contrition is contained, and in the second the mode is clearly described how in contrition we are revived, namely, by the Word of God, which 50] offers grace. This sustains and quickens hearts. And 1 Sam. 2:6: The Lord killeth and maketh alive; He bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up. By one of these, contrition is signified; 51] by the other, faith is signified. And Is. 28:21: The Lord shall be wrath that He may do His work, His strange work, and bring to pass His act, His strange act. He calls it the strange work of the Lord when He terrifies, because to quicken and console is God’s own work. [Other works, as, to terrify and to kill, are not God’s own works, for God only quickens.] But He terrifies, he says, for this reason, namely, that there may be a place for consolation and quickening, because hearts that are secure and do not feel the wrath of God loathe consolation. 52] In this manner Scripture is accustomed to join these two, the terrors and the consolation, in order to teach that in repentance there are these chief members, contrition, and faith that consoles and justifies. Neither do we see how the nature of repentance can be presented more clearly and simply. [We know with certainty that God thus works in His Christians, in the Church.)

53] For the two chief works of God in men are these, to terrify, and to justify and quicken those who have been terrified. Into these two works all Scripture has been distributed. The one part is the Law, which shows, reproves, and condemns sins. The other part is the Gospel, i.e., the promise of grace bestowed in Christ, and this promise is constantly repeated in the whole of Scripture, first having been delivered to Adam [I will put enmity, etc., Gen. 3:15, afterwards to the patriarchs; then, still more clearly proclaimed by the prophets; lastly, preached and set forth among the Jews by Christ, and disseminated over the entire world by the apostles. 54] For all the saints were justified by faith in this promise, and not by their own attrition or contrition.

55] And the examples [how the saints became godly] show likewise these two parts. After his sin Adam is reproved and becomes terrified; this was contrition. Afterward God promises grace, and speaks of a future seed (the blessed seed, i.e., Christ), by which the kingdom of the devil, death, and sin will be destroyed; there He offers the remission of sins. These are the chief things. For although the punishment is afterwards added, yet this punishment does not merit the remission of sin. And concerning this kind of punishment we shall speak after a while.

56] So David is reproved by Nathan, and, terrified, he says, 2 Sam. 12:13: I have sinned against the Lord. This is contrition. Afterward he hears the absolution: The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. This voice encourages David, and by faith sustains, justifies, and quickens him. Here a punishment is also added, but this punishment does not merit the remission of sins. 57] Nor are special punishments always added, but in repentance these two things ought always to exist, namely, contrition and faith, as Luke 7:37-38. The woman, who was a sinner, came to Christ weeping. By these tears the contrition is recognized. Afterward she hears the absolution: Thy sins are forgiven; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. This is the second part of repentance, namely, faith, which 58] encourages and consoles her. From all these it is apparent to godly readers that we assign to repentance those parts which properly belong to it in conversion, or regeneration, and the remission of sin. Worthy fruits and punishments [likewise, patience that we be willing to bear the cross, and punishments, which God lays upon the old Adam] follow regeneration and the remission of sin. For this reason we have mentioned these two parts, in order that the faith which we require in repentance [of which the sophists and canonists have all been silent] might be the better seen. And what that faith is which the Gospel proclaims can be better understood when it is set over against contrition and mortification.

59] But as the adversaries expressly condemn our statement that men obtain the remission of sins by faith, we shall add a few proofs from which it will be understood that the remission of sins is obtained not ex opere operato because of contrition, but by that special faith by which an individual believes that sins are remitted to him. For this is the chief article concerning which we are contending with our adversaries, and the knowledge of which we regard especially necessary to all Christians. As, however, it appears that we have spoken sufficiently above concerning the same subject, we shall here be briefer. For very closely related are the topics of the doctrine of repentance and the doctrine of justification.

60] When the adversaries speak of faith, and say that it precedes repentance, they understand by faith, not that which justifies, but that which, in a general way, believes that God exists, that punishments have been threatened to the wicked [that there is a hell], etc. In addition to this faith we require that each one believe that his sins are remitted to him. Concerning this special faith we are disputing, and we oppose it to the opinion which bids us trust not in the promise of Christ, but in the opus operatum of contrition, confession, and satisfactions, etc. This faith follows terrors in such a manner as to overcome them, and render the conscience pacified. To this faith we ascribe justification and regeneration, inasmuch as it frees from terrors, and brings forth in the heart not only peace and joy, but also a new life. We maintain [with the help of God we shall defend to eternity and against all the gates of hell] that this faith is truly necessary for the remission of sins, and accordingly place it among the parts of repentance. Nor does the Church of Christ believe otherwise, although our adversaries [like mad dogs] contradict us.

61] Moreover, to begin with, we ask the adversaries whether to receive absolution is a part of repentance, or not. But if they separate it from confession, as they are subtile in making the distinction, we do not see of what benefit confession is without absolution. If, however, they do not separate the receiving of absolution from confession, it is necessary for them to hold that faith is a part of repentance, because absolution is not received except by faith. That absolution, however, is not received except by faith can be proved from Paul, who teaches, Rom. 4:16, that the promise cannot be received except by faith. But absolution is the promise of the remission of sins [nothing else than the Gospel, the divine promise of God’s grace and favor]. 62] Therefore, it necessarily requires faith. Neither do we see how he who does not assent to it may be said to receive absolution. And what else is the refusal to assent to absolution but charging God with falsehood? If the heart doubts, it regards those things which God promises as uncertain and of no account. Accordingly, in 1 John 5:10 it is written: He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son

63] Secondly, we think that the adversaries acknowledge that the remission of sins is either a part, or the end, or, to speak in their manner, the terminus ad quem of repentance. [For what does repentance help if the forgiveness of sins be not obtained?] Therefore that by which the remission of sins is received is correctly added to the parts [must certainly be the most prominent part] of repentance. It is very certain, however, that even though all the gates of hell contradict us, yet the remission of sins cannot be received except by faith alone, which believes that sins are remitted for Christ’s sake, according to Rom. 3:25: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood. Likewise Rom. 5:2: By whom also we have access by faith unto 64]grace, etc. For a terrified conscience cannot set against God’s wrath our works or our love, but it is at length pacified when it apprehends Christ as Mediator, and believes the promises given for His sake. For those who dream that without faith in Christ hearts become pacified, do not understand what the remission of sins is, or how it came to us. 65] 1 Peter 2:6, cites from Is. 49:23, and 28:16: He that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. It is necessary, therefore, that hypocrites be confounded, who are confident that they receive the remission of sins because of their own works, and not because of Christ. Peter also says in Acts 10:43: To Him give all the prophets witness that through His name, whosoever believeth in Him, shall receive remission of sins. What he says, through His name, could not be expressed more clearly, and he adds: Whosoever believeth in Him. Thus, therefore, we receive the remission of sins only through the name of Christ, i.e., for Christ’s sake, and not for the sake of any merits and works of our own. And this occurs when we believe that sins are remitted to us for Christ’s sake.

66] Our adversaries cry out that they are the Church, that they are following the consensus of the Church [what the Church catholic, universal, holds]. But Peter also here cites in our issue the consensus of the Church: To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name, whosoever believeth in Him, shall receive remission of sins, etc. The consensus of the prophets is assuredly to be judged as the consensus of the Church universal. [I verily think that if all the holy prophets are unanimously agreed in a declaration (since God regards even a single prophet as an inestimable treasure), it would also be a decree, a declaration, and a unanimous strong conclusion of the universal, catholic, Christian, holy Church, and would be justly regarded as such.] We concede neither to the Pope nor to the Church the power to make decrees against this consensus of the prophets. 67] But the bull of Leo openly condemns this article, Of the Remission of Sins, and the adversaries condemn it in the Confutation. From which it is apparent what sort of a Church we must judge that of these men to be, who not only by their decrees censure the doctrine that we obtain the remission of sins by faith, not on account of our works, but on account of Christ, but who also give the command by force and the sword to abolish it, and by every kind of cruelty [like bloodhounds] to put to death good men who thus believe.


ConcordCast Week 22

Of Repentance (part 2) » Of Confession and Satisfaction (part 1)

Thanks to Charles Wiese, Kyle Richardson, and Christopher Hogan for their contributions this week.

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Apology XIIa, Of Repentance: 68-97

68] But they have authors of a great name, Scotus, Gabriel, and the like, and passages of the Fathers which are cited in a mutilated form in the decrees. Certainly, if the testimonies are to be counted, they win. For there is a very great crowd of most trifling writers upon the Sententiae, who, as though they had conspired, defend these figments concerning the merit of attrition and of works, and other things which we have above recounted. [Aye, it is true, they are all called teachers and authors, but by their singing you can tell what sort of birds they are. These authors have taught nothing but philosophy, and have known nothing of Christ and the work of God; their books show this plainly.] 69] But lest any one be moved by the multitude of citations, there is no great weight in the testimonies of the later writers, who did not originate their own writings, but only, by compiling from the writers before them, transferred these opinions from some books into others. They have exercised no judgment, but just like petty judges silently have approved the errors of their superiors, which they have not understood. Let us not, therefore, hesitate to oppose this utterance of Peter, which cites the consensus of the prophets, 70] to ever so many legions of the Sententiaries. 71] And to this utterance of Peter the testimony of the Holy Ghost is added. For the text speaks thus, Acts 10:44: While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which 72] heard the Word. Therefore, let pious consciences know that the command of God is this, that they believe that they are freely forgiven for Christ’s sake, and not for the sake of our works. And by this command of God let them sustain themselves against despair, and 73] against the terrors of sin and of death. And let them know that this belief has existed among saints from the beginning of the world. [Of this the idle sophists know little; and the blessed proclamation, the Gospel, which proclaims the forgiveness of sins through the blessed Seed, that is, Christ, has from the beginning of the world been the greatest consolation and treasure to all pious kings, all prophets, all believers. For they have believed in the same Christ in whom we believe; for from the beginning of the world no saint has been saved in any other way than through the faith of the same Gospel.] For Peter clearly cites the consensus of the prophets, and the writings of the apostles testify that they believe the same thing. Nor are testimonies of the Fathers wanting. For Bernard says the same thing in words that are in no way obscure: For it is necessary first of all to believe that you cannot have remission of sins except by the indulgence of God, but add yet that you believe also this, namely, that through Him sins are forgiven thee. This is the testimony which the Holy Ghost asserts in your heart, saying: “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” For thus the apostle judges that man is justified freely through faith. 74] These words of Bernard shed a wonderful light upon our cause, because he not only requires that we in a general way believe that sins are remitted through mercy, but he bids us add special faith, by which we believe that sins are remitted even to us; and he teaches how we may be rendered certain concerning the remission of sins, namely, when our hearts are encouraged by faith, and become tranquil through the Holy Ghost. What more do the adversaries require? [But how now, ye adversaries? Is St. Bernard also a heretic?] Do they still dare deny that by faith we obtain the remission of sins, or that faith is a part of repentance?

75] Thirdly, the adversaries say that sin is remitted, because an attrite or contrite person elicits an act of love to God [if we undertake from reason to love God], and by this act merits to receive the remission of sins. This is nothing but to teach the Law, the Gospel being blotted out, and the promise concerning Christ being abolished. For they require only the Law and our works, because the Law demands love. Besides, they teach us to be confident that we obtain remission of sins because of contrition and love. What else is this than to put confidence in our works, not in the Word and promise of God concerning Christ? But if the Law be sufficient for obtaining the remission of sins, what need is there of the Gospel? What need is there of Christ if we obtain remission of sins because of our own work? 76] We, on the other hand, call consciences away from the Law to the Gospel, and from confidence in their own works to confidence in the promise and Christ, because the Gospel presents to us Christ, and promises freely the remission of sins for Christ’s sake. In this promise it bids us trust, namely, that for Christ’s sake we are reconciled to the Father, and not for the sake of our own contrition or love. For there is no other Mediator or Propitiator than Christ. Neither can we do the works of the Law unless we have first been reconciled through Christ. And if we would do anything, yet we must believe that not for the sake of these works, but for the sake of Christ, as Mediator and Propitiator, we obtain the remission of sins.

77] Yea, it is a reproach to Christ and a repeal of the Gospel to believe that we obtain the remission of sins on account of the Law, or otherwise than by faith in Christ. This method also we have discussed above in the chapter Of Justification, where we declared why we confess that men are justified by faith, not by love. 78] Therefore the doctrine of the adversaries, when they teach that by their own contrition and love men obtain the remission of sins, and trust in this contrition and love, is merely the doctrine of the Law, and of that, too, as not understood [which they do not understand with respect to the kind of love towards God which it demands], just as the Jews looked upon the veiled face of Moses. For let us imagine that love is present, let us imagine that works are present, yet neither love nor works can be a propitiation for sin [or be of as much value as Christ]. And they cannot even be opposed to the wrath and judgment of God, according to Ps. 143:2: Enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. Neither ought the honor of Christ to be transferred to our works.

79] For these reasons Paul contends that we are not justified by the Law, and he opposes to the Law the promise of the remission of sins, which is granted for Christ’s sake, and teaches that we freely receive the remission of sins for Christ’s sake. Paul calls us away from the Law to this promise. Upon this promise he bids us look [and regard the Lord Christ our treasure], which certainly will be void if we are justified by the Law before we are justified through the promise, or if we obtain the remission of sins on account of our own righteousness. 80] But it is evident that the promise was given us and Christ was tendered to us for the very reason that we cannot do the works of the Law. Therefore it is necessary that we are reconciled by the promise before we do the works of the Law. The promise, however, is received only by faith. Therefore it is necessary for contrite persons to apprehend by faith the promise of the remission of sins granted for Christ’s sake, and to be confident that freely for Christ’s sake they have a reconciled Father. 81] This is the meaning of Paul, Rom. 4:16, where he says: Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure. And Gal. 3:22: The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given them that believe, i.e., all are under sin, neither can they be freed otherwise than by apprehending by faith the promise of the remission of sins. 82] Therefore we must by faith accept the remission of sins before we do the works of the Law; although, as has been said above, love follows faith, because the regenerate receive the Holy Ghost, and accordingly begin [to become friendly to the Law and] to do the works of the Law.

83] We would cite more testimonies if they were not obvious to every godly reader in the Scriptures. And we do not wish to be too prolix, in order that 84] this case may be the more readily seen through. Neither, indeed, is there any doubt that the meaning of Paul is what we are defending, namely, that by faith we receive the remission of sins for Christ’s sake, that by faith we ought to oppose to God’s wrath Christ as Mediator, and not our works. Neither let godly minds be disturbed, even though the adversaries find fault with the judgments of Paul. Nothing is said so simply that it cannot be distorted by caviling. We know that what we have mentioned is the true and genuine meaning of Paul; we know that this our belief brings to godly consciences [in agony of death and temptation] sure comfort, without which no one can stand in God’s judgment.

85] Therefore let these pharisaic opinions of the adversaries be rejected, namely, that we do not receive by faith the remission of sins, but that it ought to be merited by our love and works; that we ought to oppose our love and our works to the wrath of God. Not of the Gospel, but of the Law is this doctrine, which feigns that man is justified by the Law before he has been reconciled through Christ to God, since Christ says, John 15:5: Without Me He can do nothing; likewise: I am the true Vine; ye are the branches. 86] But the adversaries feign that we are branches, not of Christ, but of Moses. For they wish to be justified by the Law, and to offer their love and works to God before they are reconciled to God through Christ, before they are branches of Christ. Paul, on the other hand [who is certainly a much greater teacher than the adversaries], contends that the Law cannot be observed without Christ. Accordingly, in order that we [those who truly feel and have experienced sin and anguish of conscience must cling to the promise of grace, in order that they] may be reconciled to God for Christ’s sake, the promise must be received before we do the works of the Law. 87] We think that these things are sufficiently clear to godly consciences. And hence they will understand why we have declared above that men are justified by faith, not by love, because we must oppose to God’s wrath not our love or works (or trust in our love and works), but Christ as Mediator [for all our ability, all our deeds and works, are far too weak to remove and appease God’s wrath]. And we must apprehend the promise of the remission of sins before we do the works of the Law.

88] Lastly, when will conscience be pacified if we receive remission of sins on the ground that we love, or that we do the works of the Law? For the Law will always accuse us, because we never satisfy God’s Law. Just as Paul says, Rom. 4:15: The Law worketh wrath. Chrysostom asks concerning repentance, Whence are we made sure that our sins are remitted us? The adversaries also, in their “Sentences,” ask concerning the same subject. [The question, verily, is worth asking; blessed the man that returns the right answer.] This cannot be explained, consciences cannot be made tranquil, unless they know that it is God’s command and the very Gospel that they should be firmly confident that for Christ’s sake sins are remitted freely, and that they should not doubt that these are remitted to them. If any one doubts, he charges, as 1 John 5:10 says, the divine promise with falsehood. We teach that this certainty of faith is required in the Gospel. The adversaries leave consciences uncertain and wavering. 89] Consciences, however, do nothing from faith when they perpetually doubt whether they have remission. [For it is not possible that there should be rest, or a quiet and peaceful conscience, if they doubt whether God be gracious. For if they doubt whether they have a gracious God, whether they are doing right, whether they have forgiveness of sins, how can, etc.] How can they in this doubt call upon God, how can they be confident that they are heard? Thus the entire life is without God [faith] and without the true worship of God. This is what Paul says, Rom. 14:23: Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. And because they are constantly occupied with this doubt, they never experience what faith [God or Christ] is. Thus it comes to pass that they rush at last into despair [die in doubt, without God, without all knowledge of God]. Such is the doctrine of the adversaries, the doctrine of the Law, the annulling of the Gospel, the doctrine of despair. [Whereby Christ is suppressed, men are led into overwhelming sorrow and torture of conscience, and finally, when temptation comes, into despair. Let His Imperial Majesty graciously consider and well examine this matter; it does not concern gold or silver, but souls and consciences.] Now 90] we are glad to refer to all good men the judgment concerning this topic of repentance (for it has no obscurity), in order that they may decide whether we or the adversaries have taught those things which are more godly and healthful to consciences. Indeed, these dissensions in the Church do not delight us; wherefore, if we did not have great and necessary reasons for dissenting from the adversaries we would with the greatest pleasure be silent. But now, since they condemn the manifest truth, it is not right for us to desert a cause which is not our own, but is that of Christ and the Church. [We cannot with fidelity to God and conscience deny this blessed doctrine and divine truth, from which we expect at last, when this poor temporal life ceases and all help of creatures fails, the only eternal, highest consolation: nor will we in anything recede from this cause, which is not only ours, but that of all Christendom, and concerns the highest treasure, Jesus Christ.]

91] We have declared for what reasons we assigned to repentance these two parts, contrition and faith. And we have done this the more readily because many expressions concerning repentance are published which are cited in a mutilated form from the Fathers [Augustine and the other ancient Fathers], and which the adversaries have distorted in order to put faith out of sight. Such are: Repentance is to lament past evils, and not to commit again deeds that ought to be lamented. Again: Repentance is a kind of vengeance of him who grieves, thus punishing in himself what he is sorry for having committed. In these passages no mention is made of faith. And not even in the schools, when they interpret, is anything 92] added concerning faith. Therefore, in order that the doctrine of faith might be the more conspicuous, we have enumerated it among the parts of repentance. For the actual fact shows that those passages which require contrition or good works, and make no mention of justifying faith, 93] are dangerous [as experience proves]. And prudence can justly be desired in those who have collected these centos of the “Sentences” and decrees. For since the Fathers speak in some places concerning one part, and in other places concerning another part of repentance, it would have been well to select and combine their judgments not only concerning one part but concerning both, i.e., concerning contrition and faith.

94] For Tertullian speaks excellently concerning faith, dwelling upon the oath in the prophet, Ezek. 33:11: As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. For as God swears that He does not wish the death of a sinner, He shows that faith is required, in order that we may believe the one swearing, and be firmly confident that He forgives us. The authority of the divine promises ought by itself to be great in our estimation. But this promise has also been confirmed by an oath. Therefore, if any one be not confident that he is forgiven, he denies that God has sworn what is true, than which a more horrible blasphemy cannot be imagined. For Tertullian speaks thus: He invites by reward to salvation, even sweating. Saying, “I live,” He desires that He be believed. Oh, blessed we, for whose sake God swears! Oh, most miserable if we believe not the Lord even when He swears! 95] But here we must know that this faith ought to be confident that God freely forgives us for the sake of Christ, for the sake of His own promise, not for the sake of our works, contrition, confession, or satisfactions. For if faith relies upon these works, it immediately becomes uncertain, because the terrified conscience sees that these 96] works are unworthy. Accordingly, Ambrose speaks admirably concerning repentance: Therefore it is proper for us to believe both that we are to repent, and that we are to be pardoned, but so as to expect pardon as from faith, which obtains it as from a handwriting. Again: It is faith which covers our sins. 97] Therefore, there are sentences extant in the Fathers, not only concerning contrition and works, but also concerning faith. But the adversaries, since they understand neither the nature of repentance nor the language of the Fathers, select passages concerning a part of repentance, namely, concerning works; they pass over the declarations made elsewhere concerning faith, since they do not understand them.

Article VI, Of Confession and Satisfaction: 1-24

1] Good men can easily judge that it is of the greatest importance that the true doctrine concerning the above-mentioned parts, namely contrition and faith, be preserved. [For the great fraud of indulgences, etc., and the preposterous doctrines of the sophists have sufficiently taught us what great vexation and danger arise therefrom if a foul stroke is here made. How many a godly conscience under the Papacy sought with great labor the true way, and in the midst, of such darkness did not find it!] Therefore, we have always been occupied more with the elucidation of these topics, and have disputed nothing as yet concerning confession and satisfaction. 2] For we also retain confession, especially on account of the absolution, as being the word of God which, by divine authority, the power of the keys pronounces upon individuals. 3] Therefore it would be wicked to remove private absolution from the Church. 4] Neither do they understand what the remission of sins or the power of the keys is, if there are any who despise private absolution. 5] But in reference to the enumeration of offenses in confession, we have said above that we hold that it is not 6] necessary by divine right. For the objection, made by some, that a judge ought to investigate a case before he pronounces upon it, pertains in no way to this subject; because the ministry of absolution is favor or grace, it is not a legal process, or law. [For God is the Judge, who has committed to the apostles, not the office of judges, but the administration of grace, namely, to acquit those who desire, etc.] Therefore ministers in the Church have the command to remit sin; they have not the command to investigate secret 8] sins. And indeed, they absolve from those that we do not remember; for which reason absolution, which is the voice of the Gospel remitting sins and consoling consciences, does not require judicial examination.

9] And it is ridiculous to transfer hither the saying of Solomon, Prov. 27:23: Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks. For Solomon says nothing of confession, but gives to the father of a family a domestic precept, that he should use what is his own, and abstain from what is another’s; and he commands him to take care of his own property diligently, yet in such a way that, with his mind occupied with the increase of his resources, he should not cast away the fear of God, or faith or care in God’s Word. But our adversaries, by a wonderful metamorphosis, transform passages of Scripture to whatever meaning they please. [They produce from the Scriptures black and white, as they please, contrary to the natural meaning of the clear words.] Here to know signifies with them to hear confessions, the state, not the outward life, but the secrets of conscience; and the flocks signify men. [Stable, we think, means a school within which there are such doctors and orators. But it has happened aright to those who thus despise the Holy Scriptures and all fine arts that they make gross mistakes in grammar.] The interpretation is assuredly neat, and is worthy of these despisers of the pursuits of eloquence. But if any one desires by a similitude to transfer a precept from a father of a family to a pastor of a Church, he ought certainly to interpret “state” [V. vultus, countenance] as applying to the outward life. This similitude will be more consistent.

10] But let us omit such matters as these. At different times in the Psalms mention is made of confession, as, Ps. 32:5: I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Such confession of sin which is made to God is contrition itself. For when confession is made to God, it must be made with the heart, not alone with the voice, as is made on the stage by actors. Therefore, such confession is contrition, in which, feeling God’s wrath, we confess that God is justly angry, and that He cannot be appeased by our works, and, nevertheless, we seek for mercy because of God’s promise. 11] Such is the following confession, Ps. 51:4: Against Thee only have I sinned, that Thou mightest be justified, and be clear when Thou judgest, i.e., “I confess that I am a sinner, and have merited eternal wrath, nor can I set my righteousnesses, my merits, against Thy wrath; accordingly, I declare that Thou art just when Thou condemnest and punishest us; I declare that Thou art clear when hypocrites judge Thee to be unjust in punishing them or in condemning the well-deserving. Yea, our merits cannot be opposed to Thy judgment; but we shall thus be justified, namely, if Thou justifiest us, if through Thy mercy Thou accountest us righteous.” 12] Perhaps some one may also cite Jas. 5:16: Confess your faults one to another. But here the reference is not to confession that is to be made to the priests, but, in general, concerning the reconciliation of brethren to each other. For it commands that the confession be mutual.

13] Again, our adversaries will condemn many most generally received teachers if they will contend that in confession an enumeration of offenses is necessary according to divine Law. For although we approve of confession, and judge that some examination is of advantage, in order that men may be the better instructed [young and inexperienced persons be questioned], yet the matter must be so controlled that snares are not cast upon consciences, which never will be tranquil if they think that they cannot obtain the remission of sins, unless this precise enumeration be made. 14] That which the adversaries have expressed in the Confutation is certainly most false, namely, that a full confession is necessary for salvation. For this is impossible. And what snares they here cast upon the conscience when they require a full confession! For when will conscience be sure that the confession is complete? 15] In the Church-writers mention is made of confession, but they do not speak of this enumeration of secret offenses, but of the rite of public repentance. For as the fallen or notorious [those guilty of public crimes] were not received without fixed satisfactions [without a public ceremony or reproof], they made confession on this account to the presbyters, in order that satisfactions might be prescribed to them according to the measure of their offenses. This entire matter contained nothing similar to the enumeration concerning which we are disputing. This confession was made, not because the remission of sins before God could not occur without it, but because satisfactions could not be prescribed unless the kind of offense were first known. For different offenses had different canons.

16] And from this rite of public repentance there has been left the word “satisfaction.” For the holy Fathers were unwilling to receive the fallen or the notorious, unless, as far as it was possible, their repentance had been first examined into and exhibited publicly. And there seem to have been many causes for this. For to chastise those who had fallen served as an example, just as also the gloss upon the decrees admonishes, and it was improper immediately to admit notorious men to the communion [without their being tested]. These customs have long since grown obsolete. Neither is it necessary to restore them, because they are not necessary for the remission of sins before God. 17] Neither did the Fathers hold this, namely, that men merit the remission of sins through such customs or such works, although these spectacles (such outward ceremonies] usually lead astray the ignorant to think that by these works they merit the remission of sins before God. But if any one thus holds, he holds to the faith of a Jew and heathen. For also the heathen had certain expiations for offenses through which they imagined 18] to be reconciled to God. Now, however, although the custom has become obsolete, the name satisfaction still remains, and a trace of the custom also remains of prescribing in confession certain satisfactions, which they define as works that are not due. We call them canonical satisfactions. 19] Of these we hold, just as of the enumeration, that canonical satisfactions [these public ceremonies] are not necessary by divine Law for the remission of sins; just as those ancient exhibitions of satisfactions in public repentance were not necessary by divine Law for the remission of sins. For the belief concerning faith must be retained, that by faith we obtain remission of sins for Christ’s sake, and not for the sake of our works that precede or follow [when we are converted or born anew in Christ]. And for this reason we have discussed especially the question of satisfactions, that by submitting to them the righteousness of faith be not obscured, or men think that for the sake of these works they obtain remission of sins. 20] And many sayings that are current in the schools aid the error, such as that which they give in the definition of satisfaction, namely, that it is wrought for the purpose of appeasing the divine displeasure.

21] But, nevertheless, the adversaries acknowledge that satisfactions are of no profit for the remission of guilt. Yet they imagine that satisfactions are of profit in redeeming from the punishments, whether of purgatory or other punishments. For thus they teach that in the remission of sins, God [without means, alone] remits the guilt, and yet, because it belongs to divine justice to punish sin, that He commutes eternal into temporal punishment. They add further that a part of this temporal punishment is remitted by the power of the keys, but that the rest is redeemed by means of satisfactions. Neither can it be understood of what punishments a part is remitted by the power of the keys, unless they say that a part of the punishments of purgatory is remitted, from which it would follow that satisfactions are only punishments redeeming from purgatory. And these satisfactions, they say, avail even though they are rendered by those who have relapsed into mortal sin, as though indeed the divine displeasure could be appeased by those who are in mortal sin. 22] This entire matter is fictitious, and recently fabricated without the authority of Scripture and the old writers of the Church. And not even Longobardus speaks in this way of satisfactions. 23] The scholastics saw that there were satisfactions in the Church; and they did not notice that these exhibitions had been instituted both for the purpose of example, and for testing those who desired to be received by the Church. In a word, they did not see that it was a discipline, and entirely a secular matter. Accordingly, they superstitiously imagined that these avail not for discipline before the Church, but for appeasing God. And just as in other places they frequently, with great inaptness, have confounded spiritual and civil matters [the kingdom of Christ, which is spiritual, and the kingdom of the world, and external discipline], the same happens also with regard to satisfactions. 24] But the gloss on the canons at various places testifies that these observances were instituted for the sake of church discipline [should serve alone for an example before the Church].

 


ConcordCast Week 23

Of Confession and Satisfaction (part 2) » Of the Number and Use of the Sacraments (part 1)

Thanks to Mark Harrington, Christopher Hogan, Christopher Antonetti, Pr. Eric Phillips, and Renee Brutvan for their contributions this week.

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Apology XIIb, Of Confession and Satisfaction: 25-81

25] Let us see, moreover, how in the Confutation which they had the presumption to obtrude upon His Imperial Majesty, they prove these figments of theirs. They cite many passages from the Scriptures, in order to impose upon the inexperienced, as though this subject which was unknown even in the time of Longobard, had authority from the Scriptures. They bring forward such passages as these: Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance, Matt. 3:8; Mark 1:15. Again: Yield your members servants to righteousness, Rom. 6:19. Again, Christ preaches repentance, Matt. 4:17: Repent. Again, Christ Luke 24:47, commands the apostles to preach repentance, and Peter preaches repentance, Acts 2:38. Afterward they cite certain passages of the Fathers and the canons, and conclude that satisfactions in the Church are not to be abolished contrary to the plain Gospel and the decrees of the Councils and Fathers [against the decision of the Holy Church]; nay, even that those who have been absolved by the priest ought to bring to perfection the repentance that has been enjoined, following the declaration of Paul, Titus 2:14: Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

26] May God put to confusion these godless sophists who so wickedly distort God’s Word to their own most vain dreams! What good man is there who is not moved by such indignity? “Christ says, Repent, the apostles preach repentance; therefore eternal punishments are compensated by the punishments of purgatory; therefore the keys have the power to remit part of the punishments of purgatory; therefore satisfactions redeem the punishments of purgatory”! Who has taught these asses such logic? Yet this is neither logic nor sophistry, but cunning trickery. Accordingly, they appeal to the expression repent in such a way that, when the inexperienced hear such a passage cited against us, they may derive the opinion that we deny the entire repentance. By these arts they endeavor to alienate minds and to enkindle hatred, so that the inexperienced may cry out against us [Crucify! crucify!], that such pestilent heretics as disapprove of repentance should be removed from their midst. [Thus they are publicly convicted of being liars in this matter.]

27] But we hope that among good men these calumnies [and misrepresentations of Holy Scripture] may make little headway. And God will not long endure such impudence and wickedness. [They will certainly be consumed by the First and Second Commandments.] Neither has the Pope of Rome consulted well for his own dignity in employing such patrons, because he has entrusted a matter of the greatest importance to the judgment of these sophists. For since we include in the Confession almost the sum of the entire Christian doctrine, judges should have been appointed to make a declaration concerning matters so important and so many and various, whose learning and faith would have been more approved than that of these sophists who have written this Confutation. 28] It was particularly becoming for you, O Campegius, in accordance with your wisdom, to have taken care that in regard to matters of such importance they should write nothing which either at this time or with posterity might seem to be able to diminish regard for the Roman See. If the Roman See judges it right that all nations should acknowledge her as mistress of the faith, she ought to take pains that learned and uncorrupt men make investigation concerning matters of religion. For what will the world judge if at any time the writing of the adversaries be brought to light? What will posterity judge concerning these reproachful judicial investigations? 29] You see, O Campegius, that these are the last times, in which Christ predicted that there would be the greatest danger to religion. You, therefore, who ought, as it were, to sit on the watch-tower and control religious matters, should in these times employ unusual wisdom and diligence. There are many signs which, unless you heed them, threaten a change to the Roman state. 30] And you make a mistake if you think that Churches should be retained only by force and arms. Men ask to be taught concerning religion. How many do you suppose there are, not only in Germany, but also in England, in Spain, in France, in Italy, and finally even in the city of Rome, who, since they see that controversies have arisen concerning subjects of the greatest importance, are beginning here and there to doubt, and to be silently indignant that you refuse to investigate and judge aright subjects of such weight as these; that you do not deliver wavering consciences; that you only bid us be overthrown and annihilated by arms? 31] There are many good men to whom this doubt is more bitter than death. You do not consider sufficiently how great a subject religion is, if you think that good men are in anguish for a slight cause whenever they begin to doubt concerning any dogma. And this doubt can have no other effect than to produce the greatest bitterness of hatred against those who, when they ought to heal consciences, plant themselves in the way of the explanation of the subject. 32] We do not here say that you ought to fear God’s judgment. For the hierarchs think that they can easily provide against this, for since they hold the keys, of course they can open heaven for themselves whenever they wish. We are speaking of the judgments of men and the silent desires of all nations, which, indeed, at this time require that these matters be investigated and decided in such a manner that good minds may be healed and freed from doubt. For, in accordance with your wisdom, you can easily decide what will take place if at any time this hatred against you should break forth. But by this favor you will be able to bind to yourself all nations, as all sane men regard it as the highest and most important matter, if you heal doubting 33] consciences. We have said these things not because we doubt concerning our Confession. For we know that it is true, godly, and useful to godly consciences. But it is likely that there are many in many places who waver concerning matters of no light importance, and yet do not hear such teachers as are able to heal their consciences.

34] But let us return to the main point. The Scriptures cited by the adversaries speak in no way of canonical satisfactions, and of the opinions of the scholastics, since it is evident that the latter were only recently born. Therefore it is pure slander when they distort Scripture to their own opinions. We say that good fruits, good works in every kind of life, ought to follow repentance, i.e., conversion or regeneration [the renewal of the Holy Ghost in the heart]. Neither can there be true conversion or true contrition where mortifications of the flesh and good fruits do not follow [if we do not externally render good works and Christian patience]. True terrors, true griefs of mind, do not allow the body to indulge in sensual pleasures, and true faith is not ungrateful to God, neither does it despise God’s commandments. 35] In a word, there is no inner repentance unless it also produces outwardly mortifications of the flesh. We say also that this is the meaning of John when he says, Matt. 3:8: Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance. Likewise of Paul when he says, Rom. 6:19: Yield your members servants to righteousness; just as he likewise says elsewhere, Rom. 12:1: Present your bodies a living sacrifice, etc. And when Christ says, Matt. 4:17: Repent, He certainly speaks of the entire repentance, of the entire newness of life and its fruits; He does not speak of those hypocritical satisfactions which, the scholastics imagine, avail for compensating the punishment of purgatory or other punishments when they are made by those who are in mortal sin.

36] Many arguments, likewise, can be collected to show that these passages of Scripture pertain in no way to scholastic satisfactions. These men imagine that satisfactions are works that are not due [which we are not obliged to do]; but Scripture, in these passages, requires works that are due [which we are obliged to do]. For this word of Christ, 37] Repent, is the word of a commandment. Likewise the adversaries write that if any one who goes to confession should refuse to undertake satisfactions, he does not sin, but will pay these penalties in purgatory. Now the following passages are, without controversy, precepts pertaining to this life: Repent; Bring forth fruits meet for repentance; Yield your members servants to righteousness. Therefore they cannot be distorted to the satisfactions which it is permitted to refuse. For to refuse God’s commandments is not permitted. [For God’s commands are not thus left to our discretion.] 38] Thirdly, indulgences remit these satisfactions, as is taught by the Chapter, De Poenitentiis et Remissione, beginning Quum ex eo, etc. But indulgences do not free us from the commandments: Repent; Bring forth fruits meet for repentance. Therefore it is manifest that these passages of Scripture have been wickedly distorted to apply to canonical satisfactions. 39] See further what follows. If the punishments of purgatory are satisfactions, or satispassions [sufferings sufficient], or if satisfactions are a redemption of the punishments of purgatory, do the passages also give commandment that souls be punished in purgatory? [The above-cited passages of Christ and Paul must also show and prove that souls enter purgatory and there suffer pain.] Since this must follow from the opinions of the adversaries, these passages should be interpreted in a new way [these passages should put on new coats]: Bring forth fruits meet for repentance; Repent, i.e., suffer the punishments of purgatory after this life. 40] But we do not care about refuting in more words these absurdities of the adversaries. For it is evident that Scripture speaks of works that are due, of the entire newness, of life, and not of these observances of works that are not due, of which the adversaries speak. And yet, by these figments they defend orders [of monks], the sale of Masses and infinite observances, namely, as works which, if they do not make satisfaction for guilt, yet make satisfaction for punishment.

41] Since, therefore, the passages of Scripture cited do not say that eternal punishments are to be compensated by works that are not due, the adversaries are rash in affirming that these satisfactions are compensated by canonical satisfactions. Nor do the keys have the command to commute some punishments, and likewise to remit a part of the punishments. For where are such things [dreams and lies] read in the Scriptures? Christ speaks of the remission of sins when He says, Matt. 18:18: Whatsoever ye shall loose, etc. [i.e.], sin being forgiven, death eternal is taken away, and life eternal bestowed. Nor does Whatsoever ye shall bind speak of the imposing of punishments, but of retaining the sins of those who are not converted. 42] Moreover, the declaration of Longobard concerning remitting a part of the punishments has been taken from the canonical punishments; a part of these the pastors remitted. Although, therefore, we hold that repentance ought to bring forth good fruits for the sake of God’s glory and command, and good fruits, true fastings, true prayers, true alms, etc., have the commands of God, yet in the Holy Scriptures we nowhere find this, namely, that eternal punishments are not remitted except on account of the punishment of purgatory or canonical satisfactions, i.e., on account of certain works not due, or that the power of the keys has the command to commute their punishments or to remit a portion. These things the adversaries were to prove. [This they will not attempt.]

43] Besides, the death of Christ is a satisfaction not only for guilt, but also for eternal death, according to Hos. 13:14: O death, I will be thy death. How monstrous, therefore, it is to say that the satisfaction of Christ redeemed from the guilt, and our punishments redeem from eternal death; as the expression, I will be thy death, ought then to be understood, not concerning Christ, but concerning our works, and, indeed, not concerning the works commanded by God, but concerning some frigid observances devised by men! And these are said to abolish death, 44] even when they are wrought in mortal sin. It is incredible with what grief we recite these absurdities of the adversaries, which cannot but cause one who considers them to be enraged against such doctrines of demons, which the devil has spread in the Church in order to suppress the knowledge of the Law and Gospel, of repentance and quickening, and the benefits 45] of Christ. For of the Law they speak thus: “God, condescending to our weakness, has given to man a measure of those things to which of necessity he is bound; and this is the observance of precepts, so that from what is left, i.e., from works of supererogation, he can render satisfaction with reference to offenses that have been committed.” Here men imagine that they can observe the Law of God in such a manner as to be able to do even more than the Law exacts. But Scripture everywhere exclaims that we are far distant from the perfection which the Law requires. Yet these men imagine that the Law of God has been comprised in outward and civil righteousness; they do not see that it requires true love to God “with the whole heart,” etc., and condemns the entire concupiscence in the nature. Therefore no one does as much as the Law requires. Hence their imagination that we can do more is ridiculous. For although we can perform outward works not commanded by God’s Law [which Paul calls beggarly ordinances], yet the confidence that satisfaction is rendered God’s Law [yea, that more is done than God demands] is vain and wicked. 46] And true prayers, true alms, true fastings, have God’s command; and where they have God’s command, they cannot without sin be omitted. But these works, in so far as they have not been commanded by God’s Law, but have a fixed form derived from human rule, are works of human traditions of which Christ says, Matt. 15:9: In vain they do worship Me with the commandments of men, such as certain fasts appointed not for restraining the flesh, but that, by this work, honor may be given to God, as Scotus says, and eternal death be made up for; likewise, a fixed number of prayers, a fixed measure of alms when they are rendered in such a way that this measure is a worship ex opere operato, giving honor to God, and making up for eternal death. For they ascribe satisfaction to these ex opere operato, because they teach that they avail even in those who are 47] in mortal sin. There are works which depart still farther from God’s commands, as [rosaries and] pilgrimages; and of these there is a great variety: one makes a journey [to St. Jacob] clad in mail, and another with bare feet. Christ calls these “vain acts of worship,” and hence they do not serve to appease God’s displeasure, as the adversaries say. And yet they adorn these works with magnificent titles; they call them works of supererogation; to them the honor is ascribed of being a price paid instead of eternal death. 48] Thus they are preferred to the works of God’s commandments [the true works expressly mentioned in the Ten Commandments]. In this way the Law of God is obscured in two ways, one, because satisfaction is thought to be rendered God’s Law by means of outward and civil works, the other, because human traditions are added, whose works are preferred to the works of the divine Law.

49] In the second place, repentance and grace are obscured. For eternal death is not atoned for by this compensation of works, because it is idle, and does not in the present life taste of death. Something else must be opposed to death when it tries us. For just as the wrath of God is overcome by faith in Christ, so death is overcome by faith in, Christ. Just as Paul says, 1 Cor. 15:57: But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. He does not say: “Who giveth us the victory if we oppose our satisfactions against death.” 50] The adversaries treat of idle speculations concerning the remission of guilt, and do not see how, in the remission of guilt, the heart is freed by faith in Christ from God’s anger and eternal death. Since, therefore, the death of Christ is a satisfaction for eternal death, and since the adversaries themselves confess that these works of satisfactions are works that are not due, but are works of human traditions, of which Christ says, Matt. 15:9, that they are vain acts of worship, we can safely affirm that canonical satisfactions are not necessary by divine Law for the remission of guilt, or eternal punishment, or the punishment of purgatory.

51] But the adversaries object that vengeance or punishment is necessary for repentance, because Augustine says that repentance is vengeance punishing, etc. We grant that vengeance or punishment is necessary in repentance, yet not as merit or price, as the adversaries imagine that satisfactions are. But vengeance is in repentance formally, i.e., because regeneration itself occurs by a perpetual mortification of the oldness of life. The saying of Scotus may indeed be very beautiful, that poenitentia is so called because it is, as it were, poenae tenentia, holding to punishment. But of what punishment, of what vengeance, does Augustine speak? Certainly of true punishment, of true vengeance, namely, of contrition, of true terrors. Nor do we here exclude the outward mortifications of the body, which 52] follow true grief of mind. The adversaries make a great mistake if they imagine that canonical satisfactions [their juggler’s tricks, rosaries, pilgrimages, and such like] are more truly punishments than are true terrors in the heart. It is most foolish to distort the name of punishment to these frigid satisfactions, and not to refer them to those horrible terrors of conscience of which David says, Ps. 18:4; 2 Sam. 22:5: The sorrows of death compassed me. Who would not rather, clad in mail and equipped, seek the church of James, the basilica of Peter, etc., than bear that ineffable violence of grief which exists even in persons of ordinary lives, if there be true repentance?

53] But they say that it belongs to God’s justice to punish sin. He certainly punishes it in contrition, when in these terrors He shows His wrath. Just as David indicates when he prays, Ps. 6:1: O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine anger. And Jeremiah 10:24: O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing. Here indeed the most bitter punishments are spoken of. And the adversaries acknowledge that contrition can be so great that satisfaction is not required. 54] Contrition is therefore more truly a punishment than is satisfaction. Besides, saints are subject to death, and all general afflictions, as 1 Peter 4:17 says: For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God? And although these afflictions are for the most part the punishments of sin, yet in the godly they have a better end, namely, to exercise them, that they may learn amidst trials to seek God’s aid, to acknowledge the distrust of their own hearts, etc., as Paul says of himself, 2 Cor. 1:9: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead. And Isaiah says, 26:16: They poured out prayer when Thy chastening was upon them, i.e., afflictions are a discipline 55] by which God exercises the saints. Likewise afflictions are inflicted because of present sin, since in the saints they mortify and extinguish concupiscence, so that they may be renewed by the Spirit, as Paul says, Rom. 8:10: The body is dead because of sin, i.e., it is mortified [more and more every day] because of present sin which is still left in the flesh. 56] And death itself serves this purpose, namely, to abolish this flesh of sin, that we may rise absolutely new. Neither is there now in the death of the believer, since by faith he has overcome the terrors of death, that sting and sense of wrath of which Paul speaks 1 Cor. 15:56: The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the Law. This strength of sin, this sense of wrath, is truly a punishment as long as it is present; without this sense of wrath, 57] death is not properly a punishment. Moreover, canonical satisfactions do not belong to these punishments; as the adversaries say that by the power of the keys a part of the punishments is remitted. Likewise, according to these very men, the keys remit the satisfactions, and the punishments on account of which the satisfactions are made. But it is evident that the common afflictions are not removed by the power of the keys. And if they wish to be understood concerning these punishments, why do they add that satisfaction is to be rendered in purgatory?

58] They oppose the example of Adam, and also of David, who was punished for his adultery. From these examples they derive the universal rule that peculiar temporal punishments in the remission of sins correspond to individual sins. 59] It has been said before that saints suffer punishments, which are works of God; they suffer contrition or terrors, they also suffer other common afflictions. Thus, for example, some suffer punishments of their own that have been imposed by God. And these punishments pertain in no way to the keys, because the keys neither can impose nor remit them, but God, without the ministry of the keys, imposes and remits them [as He will].

Neither does the universal rule follow: Upon David a peculiar punishment was imposed, therefore, in addition to common afflictions, there is another punishment of purgatory, in which each degree corresponds to each sin. 60] Where does Scripture teach that we cannot be freed from eternal death except by the compensation of certain punishments in addition to common afflictions? But, on the other hand, it most frequently teaches that the remission of sins occurs freely for Christ’s sake, that Christ is the Victor of sin and death. Therefore the merit of satisfaction is not to be patched upon this. And although afflictions still remain, yet Scripture interprets these as the mortifications of present sin [to kill and humble the old Adam], and not as the compensations of eternal death or as prices for eternal death.

61] Job is excused that he was not afflicted on account of past evil deeds; therefore afflictions are not always punishments or signs of wrath. Yea, terrified consciences are to be taught that other ends of afflictions are more important [that they should learn to regard troubles far differently, namely, as signs of grace], lest they think that they are rejected by God when in afflictions they see nothing but God’s punishment and anger. The other more important ends are to be considered, namely, that God is doing His strange work so that He may be able to do His own work, etc., as Isaiah 28:1ff teaches in a long discourse. 62] And when the disciples asked concerning the blind man who sinned, John 9:2-3, Christ replies that the cause of his blindness is not sin, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. And in Jeremiah 49:12, it is said: They whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken. Thus the prophets and John the Baptist and other saints were killed. 63] Therefore afflictions are not always punishments for certain past deeds, but they are the works of God, intended for our profit, and that the power of God might be made more manifest in our weakness [how He can help in the midst of death].

Thus Paul says, 2 Cor. 12:5,9: The strength of God is made perfect in my weakness. Therefore, because of God’s will, our bodies ought to be sacrifices, to declare our obedience [and patience], and not to compensate for eternal death. for which God has another price, namely, 64] the death of His own Son. And in this sense Gregory interprets even the punishment of David when he says: If God on account of that sin had threatened that he, would thus be humbled by his son, why, when the sin was forgiven, did He fulfil that which He had threatened against him? The reply is that this remission was made that man might not be hindered from receiving eternal life, but that the example of the threatening followed, in order that the piety of the man might be exercised and tested even in this humility. Thus also God inflicted upon man death of body on account of sin, and after the remission of sins He did not remove it, for the sake of exercising justice, namely, in order that the righteousness of those who are sanctified might be exercised and tested.

65] Nor, indeed, are common calamities [as war, famine, and similar calamities], properly speaking, removed by these works of canonical satisfactions, i.e., by these works of human traditions, which, they say, avail ex opere operato, in such a way that, even though they are wrought in mortal sin, 66] yet they redeem from the punishments. [And the adversaries themselves confess that they impose satisfactions, not on account of such common calamities, but on account of purgatory; hence, their satisfactions are pure imaginations and dreams.] And when the passage of Paul, 1 Cor. 11:31, is cited against us: If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged by the Lord [they conclude therefrom that, if we impose punishment upon ourselves, God will judge us the more graciously], the word to judge ought to be understood of the entire repentance and due fruits, not of works which are not due. Our adversaries pay the penalty for despising grammar when they understand to judge to be the same as to make a pilgrimage clad in mail to the church of St. James, or similar works. To judge signifies the entire repentance; it signifies to condemn sins. 67] This condemnation truly occurs in contrition and the change of life. The entire repentance, contrition, faith, the good fruits, obtain the mitigation of public and private punishments and calamities, as Isaiah 1:17-19 teaches: Cease to do evil; learn to do well, etc. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. If ye be willing and obedient, 68] ye shall eat the good of the land. Neither should a most important and salutary meaning be transferred from the entire repentance, and from works due or commanded by God, to the satisfactions and works of human traditions. And this it is profitable to teach, that common evils are mitigated by our repentance and by the true fruits of repentance, by good works wrought from faith, not, as these men imagine, wrought in mortal sin. 69] And here belongs the example of the Ninevites, Jonah 3:10, who by their repentance (we speak of the entire repentance) were reconciled to God, and obtained the favor that their city was not destroyed.

70] Moreover, the making mention, by the Fathers, of satisfaction, and the framing of canons by the councils, we have said above, was a matter of church-discipline instituted on account of the example. Nor did they hold that this discipline is necessary for the remission either of the guilt or of the punishment. For if some of them made mention of purgatory, they interpret it not as compensation for eternal punishment [which only Christ makes], not as satisfaction, but as purification of imperfect souls. Just as Augustine says that venial [daily] offenses are consumed, i.e., distrust towards God and other 71] similar dispositions are mortified. Now and then the writers transfer the term satisfaction from the rite itself or spectacle, to signify true mortification. Thus Augustine says: True satisfaction is to cut off the causes of sin, i.e., to mortify the flesh, likewise to restrain the flesh, not in order that eternal punishments may be compensated for, but so that the flesh may not allure to sin.

72] Thus concerning restitution, Gregory says that repentance is false if it does not satisfy those whose property we have taken. For he who still steals does not truly grieve that he has stolen or robbed. For he is a thief or robber, so long as he is the unjust possessor of the property of another. This civil satisfaction is necessary, because it is written Eph. 4:28: Let him that stole, 73] steal no more. Likewise Chrysostom says: In the heart, contrition; in the mouth, confession; in the work, entire humility. This amounts to nothing against us. Good works ought to follow repentance; it ought to be repentance, not simulation, but a change of the entire life for the better.

74] Likewise, the Fathers wrote that it is sufficient if once in life this public or ceremonial penitence occur, about which the canons concerning satisfactions have been made. Therefore it can be understood that they held that these canons are not necessary for the remission of sins. For in addition to this ceremonial penitence, they frequently wish that penitence be rendered otherwise, where canons of satisfactions were not required.

75] The composers of the Confutation write that the abolition of satisfactions contrary to the plain Gospel is not to be endured. We, therefore, have thus far shown that these canonical satisfactions, i.e., works not due, and that are to be performed in order to compensate for punishment, have not 76] the command of the Gospel. The subject itself shows this. If works of satisfaction are works which are not due, why do they cite the plain Gospel? For if the Gospel would command that punishments be compensated for by such works, the works would already be due. But thus they speak in order to impose upon the inexperienced, and they cite testimonies which speak of works that are due, although they themselves in their own satisfactions prescribe works that are not due. Yea, in their schools they themselves concede that satisfactions can be refused without [mortal] sin. Therefore they here write falsely that we are compelled by the plain Gospel to undertake these canonical satisfactions. ‘

77] But we have already frequently testified that repentance ought to produce good fruits; and what the good fruits are the [Ten] Commandments teach, namely, [truly and from the heart most highly to esteem, fear, and love God, joyfully to call upon Him in need], prayer, thanksgiving, the confession of the Gospel [hearing this Word], to teach the Gospel, to obey parents and magistrates, to be faithful to one’s calling, not to kill, not to retain hatred, but to be forgiving [to be agreeable and kind to one’s neighbor], to give to the needy, so far as we can according to our means, not to commit fornication or adultery, but to restrain and bridle and chastise the flesh, not for a compensation of eternal punishment, but so as not to obey the devil, or offend the Holy Ghost; likewise, to speak the truth. These fruits have God’s injunction, and ought to be brought forth for the sake of God’s glory and command; and they have their rewards also. But that eternal punishments are not remitted except on account of the compensation rendered by certain traditions or by purgatory, Scripture does not teach. 78] Indulgences were formerly remission of these public observances, so that men should not be excessively burdened. But if, by human authority, satisfactions and punishments can be remitted, this compensation, therefore, is not necessary by divine Law; for a divine Law is not annulled by human authority. Furthermore, since the custom has now of itself become obsolete and the bishops have passed it by in silence, there is no necessity for these remissions. And yet the name indulgences remained. And just as satisfactions were understood not with reference to external discipline, but with reference to the compensation of punishment, so indulgences were incorrectly understood to free souls from purgatory. 79] But the keys have not the power of binding and loosing except upon earth, according to Matt. 16:19: Whatsoever, thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Although, as we have said above, the keys have not the power to impose penalties, or to institute rites of worship, but only the command to remit sins to those who are converted, and to convict and excommunicate those who are unwilling to be converted. For just as to loose signifies to remit sins, so to bind signifies not to remit sins. For Christ speaks of a spiritual kingdom. And the command of God is that the ministers of the Gospel should absolve those who are converted, according to 2 Cor. 10:8: The authority which the Lord hath given us for edification. Therefore 80] the reservation of cases is a secular affair. For it is a reservation of canonical punishment; it is not a reservation of guilt before God in those who are truly converted. Therefore the adversaries judge aright when they confess that in the article of death the reservation of cases ought not to hinder absolution.

81] We have set forth the sum of our doctrine concerning repentance, which we certainly know is godly and salutary to good minds [and highly necessary]. And if good men will compare our [yea, Christ’s and His apostles’] doctrine with the very confused discussions of our adversaries, they will perceive that the adversaries have omitted the doctrine [without which no one can teach or learn anything that is substantial and Christian] concerning faith justifying and consoling godly hearts. They will also see that the adversaries invent many things concerning the merits of attrition, concerning the endless enumeration of offenses, concerning satisfactions; they say things (that touch neither earth nor heaven] agreeing neither with human nor divine law, and which not even the adversaries themselves can satisfactorily explain.

Article XIII, Of the Number and Use of the Sacraments: 1-15

1] In the Thirteenth Article the adversaries approve our statement that the Sacraments are not only marks of profession among men, as some imagine, but that they are rather signs and testimonies of God’s will toward us, through which God moves 2] hearts to believe [are not mere signs whereby men may recognize each other, as the watchword in war, livery, etc., but are efficacious signs and sure testimonies, etc.]. But here they bid us also count seven sacraments. We hold that it should be maintained that the matters and ceremonies instituted in the Scriptures, whatever the number, be not neglected. Neither do we believe it to be of any consequence, though, for the purpose of teaching, different people reckon differently, provided they still preserve aright the matters handed down in Scripture. Neither have the ancients reckoned in the same manner. [But concerning this number of seven sacraments, the fact is that the Fathers have not been uniform in their enumeration; thus also these seven ceremonies are not equally necessary.]

3] If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments. For rites instituted by men will not in this way be Sacraments properly so called. For it does not belong to human authority to promise grace. Therefore signs instituted without God’s command are not sure signs of grace, even though they perhaps instruct the rude [children or the uncultivated], or admonish as to something [as a painted cross]. 4] Therefore Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God’s command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament. For when we are baptized, when we eat the Lord’s body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us 5] for Christ’s sake. And God, at the same time, by the Word and by the rite, moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, Rom. 10:17: Faith cometh by hearing. But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart. The effect of the Word and of the rite is the same, as it has been well said by Augustine that a Sacrament is a visible word, because the rite is received by the eyes, and is, as it were, a picture of the Word, signifying the same thing as the Word. Therefore the effect of both is the same.

6] Confirmation and Extreme Unction are rites received from the Fathers which not even the Church requires as necessary to salvation, because they do not have God’s command. Therefore it is not useless to distinguish these rites from the former, which have God’s express command and a clear promise of grace.

7] The adversaries understand priesthood not of the ministry of the Word, and administering the Sacraments to others, but they understand it as referring to sacrifice; as though in the New Testament there ought to be a priesthood like the Levitical, to sacrifice for the people, and merit the remission of sins for others. 8] We teach that the sacrifice of Christ dying on the cross has been sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and that there is no need, besides, of other sacrifices, as though this were not sufficient for our sins. Men, accordingly, are justified not because of any other sacrifices, but because of this one sacrifice of Christ, if they believe that they have been redeemed by this sacrifice. 9] They are accordingly called priests, not in order to make any sacrifices for the people as in the Law, so that by these they may merit remission of sins for the people; but they are called to teach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments to the people. 10] Nor do we have another priesthood like the Levitical, 11] as the Epistle to the Hebrews sufficiently teaches. But if ordination be understood as applying to the ministry of the Word, we are not unwilling to call ordination a sacrament. For the ministry of the Word has God’s command and glorious promises, Rom. 1:16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Likewise, Is. 55:11: So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please. 12] If ordination be understood in this way, neither will we refuse to call the imposition of hands a sacrament. For the Church has the command to appoint ministers, which should be most pleasing to us, because we know that God approves this ministry, and is present in the ministry [that God will preach and work through men and those who have been chosen by men]. 13] And it is of advantage, so far as can be done, to adorn the ministry of the Word with every kind of praise against fanatical men, who dream that the Holy Ghost is given not through the Word, but because of certain preparations of their own, if they sit unoccupied and silent in obscure places, waiting for illumination, as the Enthusiasts formerly taught, and the Anabaptists now teach.

14] Matrimony was not first instituted in the New Testament, but in the beginning, immediately on the creation of the human race. It has, moreover, God’s command; it has also promises, not indeed properly pertaining to the New Testament, but pertaining rather to the bodily life. Wherefore, if any one should wish to call it a sacrament, he ought still to distinguish it from those preceding ones [the two former ones], which are properly signs of the New Testament, and testimonies of grace and the remission of sins. 15] But if marriage will have the name of sacrament for the reason that it has God’s command, other states or offices also, which have God’s command, may be called sacraments, as, for example, the magistracy.


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ConcordCast Week 24

Of the Number and Use of the Sacraments (part 2) » Of Ecclesiastical Order » Of Political Order (part 1)

Thanks to Mark Harrington, Christopher Hogan, Christopher Antonetti, Pr. Eric Phillips, and Noah Hahn for their contributions this week.

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Apology XIII, Of the Number and Use of Sacraments: 16-23

16] Lastly, if among the Sacraments all things ought to be numbered which have God’s command, and to which promises have been added, why do we not add prayer, which most truly can be called a sacrament? For it has both God’s command and very many promises; and if placed among the Sacraments, as though in a more eminent place, it would invite men to pray. 17] Alms could also be reckoned here, and likewise afflictions, which are, even themselves signs, to which God has added promises. But let us omit these things. For no prudent man will strive greatly concerning the number or the term, if only those objects still be retained which have God’s command and promises.

18] It is still more needful to understand how the Sacraments are to be used. Here we condemn the whole crowd of scholastic doctors, who teach that the Sacraments confer grace ex opere operato, without a good disposition on the part of the one using them, provided he do not place a hindrance in the way. This is absolutely a Jewish opinion, to hold that we are justified by a ceremony, without a good disposition of the heart, i.e., without faith. And yet this impious and pernicious opinion 19] is taught with great authority throughout the entire realm of the Pope. Paul contradicts this, and denies, Rom. 4:9, that Abraham was justified by circumcision, but asserts that circumcision was a sign presented for exercising faith. Thus we teach that in the use of the Sacraments faith ought to be added, which should believe these promises, and receive the promised things, there offered in the Sacrament. 20] And the reason is plain and thoroughly grounded. [This is a certain and true use of the holy Sacrament, on which Christian hearts and consciences may risk to rely.] The promise is useless unless it is received by faith. But the Sacraments are the signs [and seals] of the promises. Therefore, in the use of the Sacraments faith ought to be added, so that, if any one use the Lord’s Supper, he use it thus. Because this is a Sacrament of the New Testament, as Christ clearly says, he ought for this very reason to be confident that what is promised in the New Testament, namely, the free remission of sins, is offered him. And let him receive this by faith, let him comfort his alarmed conscience, and know that these testimonies are not fallacious, but as sure as though [and still surer than if] God by a new miracle would declare from heaven that it was His will to grant forgiveness. But of what advantage would these miracles and promises be to an unbeliever? 21] And here we speak of special faith which believes the present promise, not only that which in general believes that God exists, but which believes that the remission of sins is offered. 22] This use of the Sacrament consoles godly and alarmed minds.

23] Moreover, no one can express in words what abuses in the Church this fanatical opinion concerning the opus operatum, without a good disposition on the part of the one using the Sacraments, has produced. Hence the infinite profanation of the Masses; but of this we shall speak below. Neither can a single letter be produced from the old writers which in this matter favors the scholastics. Yea, Augustine says the contrary, that the faith of the Sacrament, and not the Sacrament, justifies. And the declaration of Paul is well known, Rom. 10:10: With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.


 

Article XIV, Of Ecclesiastical Order

24] The Fourteenth Article, in which we say that in the Church the administration of the Sacraments and Word ought to be allowed no one unless he be rightly called, they receive, but with the proviso that we employ canonical ordination. Concerning this subject we have frequently testified in this assembly that it is our greatest wish to maintain church-polity and the grades in the Church [old church-regulations and the government of bishops], even though they have been made by human authority [provided the bishops allow our doctrine and receive our priests]. For we know that church discipline was instituted by the Fathers, in the manner laid down in the ancient canons, with a good and useful intention. 25] But the bishops either compel our priests to reject and condemn this kind of doctrine which we have confessed, or, by a new and unheard-of cruelty, they put to death the poor innocent men. These causes hinder our priests from acknowledging such bishops. Thus the cruelty of the bishops is the reason why the canonical government, which we greatly desired to maintain, is in some places dissolved. Let them see to it how they will give an account to God for dispersing 26] the Church. In this matter our consciences are not in danger, because since we know that our Confession is true, godly, and catholic, we ought not to approve the cruelty of those who persecute this doctrine. 27] And we know that the Church is among those who teach the Word of God aright, and administer the Sacraments aright, and not with those who not only by their edicts endeavor to efface God’s Word, but also put to death those who teach what is right and true; 28] towards whom, even though they do something contrary to the canons, yet the very canons are milder. Furthermore, we wish here again to testify that we will gladly maintain ecclesiastical and canonical government, provided the bishops only cease to rage against our Churches. This our desire will clear us both before God and among all nations to all posterity from the imputation against us that the authority of the bishops is being undermined, when men read and hear that, although protesting against the unrighteous cruelty of the bishops, we could not obtain justice.


Article XV, Of Human Traditions in the Church

1] In the Fifteenth Article they receive the first part, in which we say that such ecclesiastical rites are to be observed as can be observed without sin, and are of profit in the Church for tranquillity and good order. They altogether condemn the second part, in which we say that human traditions instituted to appease God, to merit grace, and make satisfactions for sins are contrary to the Gospel. 2] Although in the Confession itself, when treating of the distinction of meats, we have spoken at sufficient length concerning traditions, yet certain things should be briefly recounted here.

3] Although we supposed that the adversaries would defend human traditions on other grounds, yet we did not think that this would come to pass, namely, that they would condemn this article: that we do not merit the remission of sins or grace by the observance of human traditions. Since, therefore, this article has been condemned, 4] we have an easy and plain case. The adversaries are now openly Judaizing, are openly suppressing the Gospel by the doctrines of demons. For Scripture calls traditions doctrines of demons, when it is taught that religious rites are serviceable to merit the remission of sins and grace. For they are then obscuring the Gospel, the benefit of Christ, and 5] the righteousness of faith. [For they are just as directly contrary to Christ and to the Gospel as are fire and water to one another.] The Gospel teaches that by faith we receive freely, for Christ’s sake, the remission of sins and are reconciled to God. The adversaries, on the other hand, appoint another mediator, namely, these traditions. On account of these they wish to acquire remission of sins; on account of these they wish to appease God’s wrath. But Christ clearly says, Matt. 15:9: In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

6] We have above discussed at length that men are justified by faith when they believe that they have a reconciled God, not because of our works, but gratuitously, for Christ’s sake. It is certain that this is the doctrine of the Gospel, because Paul clearly teaches, Eph. 2:8, 9: By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; 7] not of works. Now these men say that men merit the remission of sins by these human observances. What else is this than to appoint another justifier, a mediator other than Christ? 8] Paul says to the Galatians 5:4: Christ has become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law; i.e., if you hold that by the observance of the Law you merit to be accounted righteous before God, Christ will profit you nothing; for what need of Christ have those who hold that they are righteous by their own observance 9] of the Law? God has set forth Christ with the promise that on account of this Mediator, and not on account of our righteousness, He wishes to be propitious to us. But these men hold that God is reconciled and propitious because of the traditions, and not because of Christ. Therefore they take away from Christ the honor of Mediator. 10] Neither, so far as this matter is concerned, is there any difference between our traditions and the ceremonies of Moses. Paul condemns the ceremonies of Moses, just as he condemns traditions, for the reason that they were regarded as works which merit righteousness before God. Thus the office of Christ and the righteousness of faith were obscured. Therefore, the Law being removed, and traditions being removed, he contends that the remission of sins has been promised not because of our works, but freely, because of Christ, if only by faith we receive it. For the promise is not received 11] except by faith. Since, therefore, by faith we receive the remission of sins, since by faith we have a propitious God for Christ’s sake, it is an error and impiety to declare that because of these observances we merit the remission of sins. 12] If any one should say here that we do not merit the remission of sins, but that those who have already been justified by these traditions merit grace, Paul again replies, Gal. 2:17, that Christ would be the minister of sin if after justification we must hold that henceforth we are not accounted righteous for Christ’s sake, but we ought first, by other observances, to merit that we be accounted righteous. Likewise Gal. 3:15: Though it be but a man’s covenant, no man addeth thereto. Therefore, neither to God’s covenant, who promises that for Christ’s sake He will be propitious to us, ought we to add that we must first through these observances attain such merit as to be regarded as accepted and righteous.

13] However, what need is there of a long discussion? No tradition was instituted by the holy Fathers with the design that it should merit the remission of sins, or righteousness, but they have been instituted for the sake, of good order in the Church and 14] for the sake, of tranquillity. And when any one wishes to institute certain works to merit the remission of sins, or righteousness, how will he know that these works please God since he has not the testimony of God’s Word? How, without God’s command and Word, will he render men certain of God’s will? Does He not everywhere in the prophets prohibit men from instituting, without His commandment, peculiar rites of worship? In Ezek. 20:18, 19 it is written: Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the Lord, your God. Walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them. 15] If men are allowed to institute religious rites, and through these rites merit grace, the religious rites of all the heathen will have to be approved, and the rites instituted by Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12:26f, and by others, outside of the Law, will have to be approved. For what, difference does it make? If we have been allowed to institute religious rites that are profitable for meriting grace, or righteousness, why was the same not allowed the heathen and the Israelites? 16] But the religious rites of the heathen and the Israelites were rejected for the very reason that they held that by these they merited remission of sins and righteousness, and yet 17] did not know [the highest service of God] the righteousness of faith. Lastly, whence are we rendered certain that rites instituted by men without God’s command justify, inasmuch as nothing can be affirmed of God’s will without God’s Word? What if God does not approve these services? How, therefore, do the adversaries affirm that they justify? Without God’s Word and testimony this cannot be affirmed. And Paul says, Rom. 14:23: Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. But as these services have no testimony of God’s Word, conscience must doubt as to whether they please God.

18] And what need is there of words on a subject so manifest? If the adversaries defend these human services as meriting justification, grace, and the remission of sins, they simply establish the kingdom of Antichrist. For the kingdom of Antichrist is a new service of God, devised by human authority rejecting Christ, just as the kingdom of Mahomet has services and works through which it wishes to be justified before God; nor does it hold that men are gratuitously justified before God by faith, for Christ’s sake. Thus the Papacy also will be a part of the kingdom of Antichrist if it thus defends human services as justifying. For the honor is taken away from Christ when they teach that we are not justified gratuitously by faith, for Christ’s sake, but by such services; especially when they teach that such services are not only useful for justification, but are also necessary, as they hold above in Art. VII, where they condemn us for saying that unto true unity of the Church it is not necessary that rites instituted by men should everywhere be alike. 19] Daniel 11:38, indicates that new human services will be the very form and constitution of the kingdom of Antichrist. For he says thus: But in his estate shall he honor the god of forces; and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold and silver and precious stones. Here he describes new services, because he says that such a god shall be worshiped as 20] the fathers were ignorant of. For although the holy Fathers themselves had both rites and traditions, yet they did not hold that these matters are useful or necessary for justification; they did not obscure the glory and office of Christ, but taught that we are justified by faith for Christ’s sake, and not for the sake of these human services. But they observed human rites for the sake of bodily advantage, that the people might know at what time they should assemble; that, for the sake of example all things in the churches might be done in order and becomingly; lastly, that the common people might receive a sort of training. For the distinctions of times and the variety of rites are of service in admonishing the common people. 21] The Fathers had these reasons for maintaining the rites, and for these reasons we also judge it to he right that traditions [good customs] be maintained. And we are greatly surprised that the adversaries [contrary to the entire Scriptures of the Apostles, contrary to the Old and New Testaments] contend for another design of traditions, namely, that they may merit the remission of sins, grace, or justification. What else is this than to honor God with gold and silver and precious stones [as Daniel says], i.e., to hold that God becomes reconciled by a variety in clothing, ornaments, and by similar rites [many kinds of church decorations, banners, tapers], as are infinite in human traditions?

22] Paul writes to the Colossians 2:23, that traditions have a show of wisdom. And they indeed have. For this good order is very becoming in the Church, and for this reason is necessary. But human reason, because it does not understand the righteousness of faith, naturally imagines that such works justify men because 23] they reconcile God, etc. Thus the common people among the Israelites thought, and by this opinion increased such ceremonies, just as among us they have grown in the monasteries [as in our time one altar after another and one church after another is founded]. 24] Thus human reason judges also of bodily exercises, of fasts; although the end of these is to restrain the flesh, reason falsely adds that they are services which justify. As Thomas writes: Fasting avails for the extinguishing and the prevention of guilt. These are the words of Thomas. Thus the semblance of wisdom and righteousness in such works deceives men. And the examples of the saints are added [when they say: St. Francis wore a cap, etc.]; and when men desire to imitate these, they imitate, for the most part, the outward exercises; their faith they do not imitate.

25] After this semblance of wisdom and righteousness has deceived men, then infinite evils follow; the Gospel concerning the righteousness of faith in Christ is obscured, and vain confidence in such works succeeds. Then the commandments of God are obscured; these works arrogate to themselves the title of a perfect and spiritual life, and are far preferred to the works of God’s commandments [the true, holy, good works], as, the works of one’s own calling, the administration of the state, the management of a family, married life, the bringing up of children. 26] Compared with those ceremonies, the latter are judged to be profane, so that they are exercised by many with some doubt of conscience. For it is known that many have abandoned the administration of the state and married life, in order to embrace these observances as better and holier [have gone into cloisters in order to become holy and spiritual].

27] Nor is this enough. When the persuasion has taken possession of minds that such observances are necessary to justification, consciences are in miserable anxiety because they cannot exactly fulfil all observances. For how many are there who could enumerate all these observances? There are immense books, yea, whole libraries, containing not a syllable concerning Christ, concerning faith in Christ, concerning the good works of one’s own calling, but which only collect the traditions and interpretations by which they are sometimes rendered quite rigorous and 28] sometimes relaxed. [They write of such precepts as of fasting for forty days, the four canonical hours for prayer, etc.] How that most excellent man, Gerson, is tortured while he searches for the grades and extent of the precepts! Nevertheless, he is not able to fix ejpieivkeian [mitigation] in a definite grade [and yet cannot find any sure grade where he could confidently promise the heart assurance and peace]. Meanwhile, he deeply deplores the dangers to godly consciences which this rigid interpretation of the traditions produces.

29] Against this semblance of wisdom and righteousness in human rites, which deceives men, let us therefore fortify ourselves by the Word of God, and let us know, first of all, that these neither merit before God the remission of sins or justification, nor are necessary for justification. 30] We have above cited some testimonies. And Paul is full of them. To the Colossians 2:16, 17, he clearly says: Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath-days, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Here now he embraces at the same time both the Law of Moses and human traditions, in order that the adversaries may not elude these testimonies, according to their custom, upon the ground that Paul is speaking only of the Law of Moses. But he clearly testifies here that he is speaking of human traditions. However, the adversaries do not see what they are saying; if the Gospel says that the ceremonies of Moses, which were divinely instituted, do not justify, how much less do human traditions justify!

31] Neither have the bishops the power to institute services, as though they justified, or were necessary for justification. Yea, the apostles, Acts 15:10, say: Why tempt ye God to put a yoke, etc., where Peter declares this purpose to burden the Church a great sin. And Paul forbids the Galatians 5:1, 32] to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Therefore, it is the will of the apostles that this liberty remain in the Church, that no services of the Law or of traditions be judged as necessary (just as in the Law ceremonies were for a time necessary), lest the righteousness of faith be obscured, if men judge that these services merit justification, or are necessary for justification. 33] Many seek in traditions various ejpieikeiva [mitigations] in order to heal consciences; and yet they do not find any sure grades by which to free consciences from these chains. 34] But just as Alexander once for all solved the Gordian knot by cutting it with his sword when he could not disentangle it, so the apostles once for all free consciences from traditions, especially if they are taught to merit justification. The apostles compel us to oppose this doctrine by teaching and examples. They compel us to teach that traditions do not justify; that they are not necessary for justification; that no one ought 35] to frame or receive traditions with the opinion that they merit justification. Then, even though any one should observe them, let him observe them without superstition as civil customs, just as without superstition soldiers are clothed in one way 36] and scholars in another [as I regard my wearing of a German costume among the Germans and a French costume among the French as an observance of the usage of the land, and not for the purpose of being saved thereby]. The apostles violate traditions and are excused by Christ; for the example was to be shown the Pharisees that these 37] services are unprofitable. And if our people neglect some traditions that are of little advantage, they are now sufficiently excused, when these are required as though they merit justification. For such an opinion with regard to traditions is impious [an error not to be endured].

38] But we cheerfully maintain the old traditions [as, the three high festivals, the observance of Sunday, and the like] made in the Church for the sake of usefulness and tranquillity; and we interpret them in a more moderate way, 39] to the exclusion of the opinion which holds that they justify. And our enemies falsely accuse us of abolishing good ordinances and church-discipline. For we can truly declare that the public form of the churches is more becoming with us than with the adversaries (that the true worship of God is observed in our churches in a more Christian, honorable way]. And if any one will consider it aright, we conform to the canons more truly than do the adversaries. [For the adversaries, without shame, tread under foot the most honorable canons, just as they do Christ and the Gospel.] 40] With the adversaries, unwilling celebrants, and those hired for pay, and very frequently only for pay, celebrate the Masses. They sing psalms, not that they may learn or pray [for the greater part do not understand a verse in the psalms], but for the sake of the service, as though this work were a service, or, at least, for the sake of reward. [All this they cannot deny. Some who are upright among them are even ashamed of this traffic, and declare that the clergy is in need of reformation.] With us many use the Lord’s Supper [willingly and without constraint] every Lord’s Day, but after having been first instructed, examined [whether they know and understand anything of the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments], and absolved. The children sing psalms in order that they may learn [become familiar with passages of Scripture]; the people also sing [Latin and German psalms], in order that they may either learn or pray. With 41] the adversaries there is no catechization of the children whatever, concerning which even the canons give commands. With us the pastors and ministers of the churches are compelled publicly [and privately] to instruct and hear the youth; and this ceremony produces the best fruits. [And the Catechism is not a mere childish thing, as is the bearing of banners and tapers, but a very profitable instruction.] 42] Among the adversaries, in many regions [as in Italy and Spain], during the entire year no sermons are delivered, except in Lent. [Here they ought to cry out and justly make grievous complaint; for this means at one blow to overthrow completely all worship. For of all acts of worship that is the greatest, most holy, most necessary, and highest, which God has required as the highest in the First and the Second Commandment, namely, to preach the Word of God. For the ministry is the highest office in the Church. Now, if this worship is omitted, how can there be knowledge of God, the doctrine of Christ, or the Gospel?] But the chief service of God is to teach the Gospel. And when the adversaries do preach, they speak of human traditions, of the worship of saints [of consecrated water], and similar trifles, which the people justly loathe; therefore they are deserted immediately in the beginning, after the text of the Gospel has been recited. [This practise may have started because the people did not wish to hear the other lies.] A few better ones begin now to speak of good works; but of the righteousness of faith, of faith in Christ, of the consolation of consciences, they say nothing; yea, this most wholesome part of the Gospel they rail at with their reproaches. [This blessed doctrine, the precious holy Gospel, they call Lutheran.] 43] On the contrary, in our churches all the sermons are occupied with such topics as these: of repentance; of the fear of God; of faith in Christ, of the righteousness of faith, of the consolation of consciences by faith, of the exercises of faith; of prayer, what its nature should be, and that we should be fully confident that it is efficacious, that it is heard; of the cross; of the authority of magistrates and all civil ordinances [likewise, how each one in his station should live in a Christian manner, and, out of obedience to the command of the Lord God, should conduct himself in reference to every worldly ordinance and law]; of the distinction between the kingdom of Christ, or the spiritual kingdom, and political affairs; of marriage; of the education and instruction of children; of chastity; of all the offices of love. 44] From this condition of the churches it may be judged that we diligently maintain church discipline and godly ceremonies and good church-customs.

45] And of the mortification of the flesh and discipline of the body we thus teach, just as the Confession states, that a true and not a feigned mortification occurs through the cross and afflictions by which God exercises us (when God breaks our will, inflicts the cross and trouble]. In these we must obey God’s will, as Paul says, Rom. 12:1: Present your bodies a living sacrifice. And these are the spiritual exercises of fear and faith. 46] But in addition to this mortification which occurs through the cross [which does not depend upon our will] there is also a voluntary kind of exercise necessary, of which Christ says, Luke 21:34: Take heed to yourselves lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting. And Paul, 1 Cor. 9:27: I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, etc. 47] And these exercises are to be undertaken not because they are services that justify, but in order to curb the flesh, lest satiety may overpower us, and render us secure and indifferent, the result of which is that men indulge and obey the dispositions of the flesh. This diligence ought to be perpetual, 48] because it has the perpetual command of God. And this prescribed form of certain meats and times does nothing [as experience shows] towards curbing the flesh. For it is more luxurious and sumptuous than other feasts [for they were at greater expense, and practised greater gluttony with fish and various Lenten meats than when the fasts were not observed], and not even the adversaries observe the form given in the canons.

49] This topic concerning traditions contains many and difficult questions of controversy, and we have actually experienced that traditions are truly snares of consciences. When they are exacted as necessary, they torture in wonderful ways the conscience omitting any observance [as godly hearts, indeed, experience when in the canonical hours they have omitted a compline, or offended against them in a similar way]. Again their abrogation has its own evils and its own 50] questions. [On the other hand, to teach absolute freedom has also its doubts and questions, because the common people need outward discipline and instruction.] But we have an easy and plain case, because the adversaries condemn us for teaching that human traditions do not merit the remission of sins. Likewise they require universal traditions, as they call them, as necessary for justification [and place them in Christ’s stead]. Here we have Paul as a constant champion, who everywhere contends that these observances neither justify nor are necessary in addition to the righteousness of faith. 51] And nevertheless we teach that in these matters the use of liberty is to be so controlled that the inexperienced may not be offended, and, on account of the abuse of liberty, may not become more hostile to the true doctrine of the Gospel, or that without a reasonable cause nothing in customary rites be changed, but that, in order to cherish harmony, such old customs be observed as can be observed without sin or without great inconvenience. 52] And in this very assembly we have shown sufficiently that for love’s sake we do not refuse to observe adiaphora with others, even though they should have some disadvantage; but we have judged that such public harmony as could indeed be produced without offense to consciences ought to be preferred to all other advantages [all other less important matters]. But concerning this entire subject we shall speak after a while, when we shall treat of vows and ecclesiastical power.


 

Article XVI, Of Political Order

53] The Sixteenth Article the adversaries receive without any exception, in which we have confessed that it is lawful for the Christian to bear civil office, sit in judgment, determine matters by the imperial laws, and other laws in present force, appoint just punishments, engage in just wars, act as a soldier, make legal contracts, hold property, take an oath, when magistrates require it, contract marriage; finally, that legitimate civil ordinances are good creatures of God and divine ordinances, which a Christian can use with safety. 54] This entire topic concerning the distinction between the kingdom of Christ and a political kingdom has been explained to advantage [to the remarkably great consolation of many consciences] in the literature of our writers, [namely] that the kingdom of Christ is spiritual [inasmuch as Christ governs by the Word and by preaching], to wit, beginning in the heart the knowledge of God, the fear of God and faith, eternal righteousness, and eternal life; meanwhile it permits us outwardly to use legitimate political ordinances of every nation in which we live, just as it permits us to use medicine or 55] the art of building, or food, drink, air. Neither does the Gospel bring new laws concerning the civil state, but commands that we obey present laws, whether they have been framed by heathen or by others, and that in this obedience we should exercise love. For Carlstadt was insane in imposing upon us the judicial laws of Moses. 56] Concerning these subjects, our theologians have written more fully, because the monks diffused many pernicious opinions in the Church. They called a community of property the polity of the Gospel; they said that not to hold property, not to vindicate one’s self at law [not to have wife and child], were evangelical counsels. These opinions greatly obscure the Gospel and the spiritual kingdom [so that it was not understood at all what the Christian or spiritual kingdom of Christ is; they concocted the secular kingdom with the spiritual, whence much trouble and seditions, harmful teaching resulted], and are dangerous to the commonwealth. 57] For the Gospel does not destroy the State or the family [buying, selling, and other civil regulations], but much rather approves them, and bids us obey them as a divine ordinance, not only on account of punishment, but also on account of conscience.

58] Julian the Apostate, Celsus, and very many others made the objection to Christians that the Gospel would rend asunder states, because it prohibited legal redress, and taught certain other things not at all suited to political association. And these questions wonderfully exercised Origen, Nazianzen, and others, although, indeed, they can be most readily explained, if we keep in mind the fact that the Gospel does not introduce laws concerning the civil state, but is the remission of sins and the beginning of a new life in the hearts of believers; besides, it not only approves outward governments, but subjects us to them, Rom. 13:1, just as we have been necessarily placed under the laws of seasons, the changes of winter and summer, as divine ordinances. [This is no obstacle to the spiritual kingdom.] 59] The Gospel forbids private redress [in order that no one should interfere with the office of the magistrate], and Christ inculcates this so frequently with the design that the apostles should not think that they ought to seize the governments from those who held otherwise, just as the Jews dreamed concerning the kingdom of the Messiah, but that they might know they ought to teach concerning the spiritual kingdom that it does not change the civil state. Therefore private redress is prohibited not by advice, but by a command, Matt. 5:39; Rom. 12:19. Public redress, which is made through the office of the magistrate, is not advised against, but is commanded, and is a work of God, according to Paul, Rom. 13:1 sqq. Now the different kinds of public redress are legal decisions, 60] capital punishment, wars, military service. It is manifest how incorrectly many writers have judged concerning these matters [some teachers have taught such pernicious errors that nearly all princes, lords, knights, servants regarded their proper estate as secular, ungodly, and damnable, etc. Nor can it be fully expressed in words what an unspeakable peril and damage has resulted from this to souls and consciences], because they were in the error that the Gospel is an external, new, and monastic form of government, and did not see that the Gospel brings eternal righteousness to hearts [teaches how a person is redeemed, before God and in his conscience, from sin, hell, and the devil], while it outwardly approves the civil state.


ConcordCast Week 25

Of Political Order (part 2) » Of Christ’s Return to Judgment » Of Free Will » Of the Cause of Sin » Of Good Works » Of The Invocation of Saints (part 1)

Thanks to Charles Wiese, Christopher Antonetti, and Nils Niemeier for their contributions this week.

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Apology XVI, Of Political Order: 61-65

61] It is also a most vain delusion that it is Christian perfection not to hold property. For Christian perfection consists not in the contempt of civil ordinances, but in dispositions of the heart, in great fear of God, in great faith, just as Abraham, David, Daniel, even in great wealth and while exercising civil power, were no less 62] perfect than any hermits. But the monks [especially the Barefoot monks] have spread this outward hypocrisy before the eyes of men, so that it could not be seen in what things true perfection exists. With what praises have they brought forward this communion of property, as though it were 63] evangelical! But these praises have the greatest danger, especially since they differ much from the Scriptures. For Scripture does not command that property be common, but the Law of the Decalog, when it says, Ex. 20:15: Thou shalt not steal, distinguishes rights of ownership, and commands each one to hold what is his own. Wyclif manifestly was raging when he said that priests were not allowed to hold property. 64] There are infinite discussions concerning contracts, in reference to which good consciences can never be satisfied unless they know the rule that it is lawful for a Christian to make use of civil ordinances and laws. This rule protects consciences when it teaches that contracts are lawful before God just to the extent that the magistrates or laws approve them.

65] This entire topic concerning civil affairs has been so clearly set forth by our theologians that very many good men occupied in the state and in business have declared that they have been greatly benefited, who before, troubled by the opinion of the monks, were in doubt as to whether the Gospel allowed these civil offices and business. Accordingly, we have recounted these things in order that those without also may understand that by the kind of doctrine which we follow, the authority of magistrates and the dignity of all civil ordinances are not undermined, but are all the more strengthened [and that it is only this doctrine which gives true instruction as to how eminently glorious an office, full of good Christian works, the office of rulers is]. The importance of these matters was greatly obscured previously by those silly monastic opinions, which far preferred the hypocrisy of poverty and humility to the state and the family, although these have God’s command, while this Platonic communion [monasticism] has not God’s command.


Article XVII, Of Christ’s Return to Judgment

66] The Seventeenth Article the adversaries receive without exception, in which we confess that at the consummation of the world Christ shall appear, and shall raise up all the dead, and shall give to the godly eternal life and, eternal joys, but shall condemn the ungodly to be punished with the devil without end.


 

 

Article XVIII, Of Free Will

67] The Eighteenth Article, Of Free Will, the adversaries receive, although they add some testimonies not at all adapted to this case. They add also a declamation that neither, with the Pelagians, is too much to be granted to the free will, nor, with the Manicheans, is all freedom to be denied it. 68] Very well; but what difference is there between the Pelagians and our adversaries, since both hold that without the Holy Ghost men can love God and perform God’s commandments with respect to the substance of the acts, and can merit grace and justification by works which reason performs by itself, without the Holy Ghost? 69] How many absurdities follow from these Pelagian opinions, which are taught with great authority in the schools! These Augustine, following Paul, refutes with great emphasis, whose judgment we have recounted above in the article Of Justification. (see AP IV 1 and AP IV 106) 70] Nor, indeed, do we deny liberty to the human will. The human will has liberty in the choice of works and things which reason comprehends by itself. It can to a certain extent render civil righteousness or the righteousness of works; it can speak of God, offer to God a certain service by an outward work, obey magistrates, parents; in the choice of an outward work it can restrain the hands from murder, from adultery, from theft. Since there is left in human nature reason and judgment concerning objects subjected to the senses, choice between these things, and the liberty and power to render civil righteousness, are also left. For Scripture calls this the righteousness of the flesh which the carnal nature, i.e., reason, renders by itself, 71] without the Holy Ghost. Although the power of concupiscence is such that men more frequently obey evil dispositions than sound judgment. And the devil, who is efficacious in the godless, as Paul says, Eph. 2:2, does not cease to incite this feeble nature to various offenses. These are the reasons why even civil righteousness is rare among men, as we see that not even the philosophers themselves, who seem 72] to have aspired after this righteousness, attained it. But it is false to say that he who performs the works of the commandments without grace does not sin. And they add further that such works also merit de congruo the remission of sins and justification. For human hearts without the Holy Ghost are without the fear of God; without trust toward God, they do not believe that they are heard, forgiven, helped, and preserved by God. Therefore they are godless. For neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit, Matt. 7:18. And without faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. 11:6.

73] Therefore, although we concede to free will the liberty and power to perform the outward works of the Law, yet we do not ascribe to free will these spiritual matters, namely, truly to fear God, truly to believe God, truly to be confident and hold that God regards us, hears us, forgives us, etc. These are the true works of the First Table, which the heart cannot render without the Holy Ghost, as Paul says, 1 Cor. 2:14: The natural man, i.e., man using only natural strength, receiveth not the things 74] of the Spirit of God. (That is, a person who is not enlightened by the Spirit of God does not, by his natural reason, receive anything of God’s will and divine matters.] And this can be decided if men consider what their hearts believe concerning God’s will, whether they are truly confident that they are regarded and heard by God. Even for saints to retain this faith [and, as Peter says (1 Pet. 1:8), to risk and commit himself entirely to God, whom he does not see, to love Christ, and esteem Him highly, whom he does not see] is difficult, so far is it from existing in the godless. But it is conceived, as we have said above, when terrified hearts hear the Gospel and receive consolation [when we are born anew of the Holy Ghost].

75] Therefore such a distribution is of advantage in which civil righteousness is ascribed to the free will and spiritual righteousness to the governing of the Holy Ghost in the regenerate. For thus the outward discipline is retained, because all men ought to know equally, both that God requires this civil righteousness [God will not tolerate indecent, wild, reckless conduct], and that, in a measure, we can afford it. And yet a distinction is shown between human and spiritual righteousness, between philosophical doctrine and the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, and it can be understood for what there is need of the Holy Ghost. 76] Nor has this distribution been invented by us, but Scripture most clearly teaches it. Augustine also treats of it, and recently it has been well treated of by William of Paris, but it has been wickedly suppressed by those who have dreamt that men can obey God’s Law without the Holy Ghost, but that the Holy Ghost is given in order that, in addition, it may be considered meritorious.


 

Article XIX, Of the Cause of Sin

77] The Nineteenth Article the adversaries receive, in which we confess that, although God only and alone has framed all nature, and preserves all things which exist, yet (He is not the cause of sin, but] the cause of sin is the will in the devil and men turning itself away from God, according to the saying of Christ concerning the devil, John 8:44: When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own.


Article XX, Of Good Works

78] In the Twentieth Article they distinctly lay down these words, namely, that they reject and condemn our statement that men do not merit the remission of sins by good works. [Mark this well!] They clearly declare that they reject and condemn this article. What is to be said on a subject so manifest? 79] Here the framers of the Confutation openly show by what spirit they are led. For what in the Church is more certain than that the remission of sins occurs freely for Christ’s sake, that Christ, and not our works, is the propitiation for sins, as Peter says, Acts 10:43: To Him give all the prophets witness that through His name, whosoever believeth on Him, shall receive remission of sins? [This strong testimony of all the holy prophets may duly be called a decree of the catholic Christian Church. For even a single prophet is very highly esteemed by God and a treasure worth the whole world.] To this Church of the prophets we would rather assent than to these abandoned writers of the Confutation, who so impudently blaspheme Christ. 80] For although there were writers who held that after the remission of sins men are just before God, not by faith, but by works themselves, yet they did not hold this, namely, that the remission of sins itself occurs on account of our works, and not freely for Christ’s sake.

81] Therefore the blasphemy of ascribing Christ’s honor to our works is not to be endured. These theologians are now entirely without shame if they dare to bring such an opinion into the Church. Nor do we doubt that His Most Excellent Imperial Majesty and very many of the princes would not have allowed this passage to remain in the Confutation if they had been admonished of it. 82] Here we could cite infinite testimonies from Scripture and from the Fathers [that this article is certainly divine and true, and this is the sacred and divine truth. For there is hardly a syllable, hardly a leaf in the Bible, in the principal books of the Holy Scriptures, where this is not clearly stated.] But also above we have said enough on this subject. And there is no need of more testimonies for one who knows why Christ has been given to us, who knows that Christ is the propitiation for our sins. [God-fearing, pious hearts that know well why Christ has been given, who for all the possessions and kingdoms of the world would not be without Christ as our only Treasure, our only Mediator and Redeemer, must here be shocked and terrified that God’s holy Word and Truth should be so openly despised and condemned by poor men.] Isaiah says, 53:6: The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquities of us all. The adversaries, on the other hand, [accuse Isaiah and the entire Bible of lying and] teach that God lays our iniquities not on Christ, but on our [beggarly] works. Neither are we disposed to mention here the sort of works [rosaries, pilgrimages, and the like] which they teach. 83] We see that a horrible decree has been prepared against us, which would terrify us still more if we were contending concerning doubtful or trifling subjects. Now, since our consciences understand that by the adversaries the manifest truth is condemned, whose defense is necessary for the Church and increases the glory of Christ, we easily despise the terrors of the world, and with a strong spirit will bear whatever is to be suffered for the glory of Christ and the advantage of the Church. 84] Who would not rejoice to die in the confession of such articles as that we obtain the remission of sins by faith freely for Christ’s sake, that we do not merit the remission of sins by our works? 85] [Experience shows — and the monks themselves must admit it — that] The consciences of the pious will have no sufficiently sure consolation against the terrors of sin and of death, and against the devil soliciting to despair [and who in a moment blows away all our works like dust], if they do not know that they ought to be confident that they have the remission of sins freely for Christ’s sake. This faith sustains and quickens hearts in that most violent conflict with despair [in the great agony of death, in the great anguish, when no creature can help, yea, when we must depart from this entire visible creation into another state and world, and must die].

86] Therefore the cause is one which is worthy that for its sake we should refuse no danger. Whosoever you are that has assented to our Confession, “do not yield to the wicked, but, on the contrary, go forward the more boldly,” when the adversaries endeavor, by means of terrors and tortures and punishments, to drive away from you that consolation which has been tendered to the entire Church in this article of ours [but with all cheerfulness rely confidently and gladly on God and the Lord Jesus, and joyfully confess this manifest truth in opposition to the tyranny, wrath, threatening, and terrors of all the world, yea, in opposition to the daily murders and persecution, of tyrants. For who would suffer to have taken from him this great, yea, everlasting consolation on which the entire salvation of the whole Christian Church depends? Anyone who picks up the Bible and reads it earnestly will soon observe that this doctrine has its foundation everywhere in the Bible]. 87] Testimonies of Scripture will not be wanting to one seeking them, which will establish his mind. For Paul at the top of his voice, as the saying is, cries out, Rom. 3:24f., and 4:16, that sins are freely remitted for Christ’s sake. It is of faith, he says, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure. That is, if the promise would depend upon our works, it would not be sure. If remission of sins would be given on account of our works, when would we know that we had obtained it, when would a terrified conscience find a work which it would consider sufficient to appease God’s wrath? 88] But we spoke of the entire matter above. Thence let the reader derive testimonies. For the unworthy treatment of the subject has forced from us the present, not discussion, but complaint that on this topic they have distinctly recorded themselves as disapproving of this article of ours, that we obtain remission of sins not on account of our works, but by faith and freely on account of Christ.

89] The adversaries also add testimonies to their own condemnation, and it is worth while to recite several of them. They quote from 2 Pet. 1:10: Give diligence to make your calling sure, etc. Now you see, reader, that our adversaries have not wasted labor in learning logic, but have the art of inferring from the Scriptures whatever pleases them [whether it is in harmony with the Scriptures or out of harmony; whether it is correctly or incorrectly concluded. For they conclude thus:] “Make your calling sure by good works.” Therefore works merit the remission of sins. A very agreeable mode of reasoning, if one would argue thus concerning a person sentenced to capital punishment, whose punishment has been remitted: “The magistrate commands that hereafter you abstain from that which belongs to another. Therefore you have merited the remission of the penalty, because you are now abstaining from what belongs to another.” 90] Thus to argue is to make a cause out of that which is not a cause. For Peter speaks of works following the remission of sins, and teaches why they should be done, namely, that the calling may be sure, i.e., lest they may fall from their calling if they sin again. Do good works that you may persevere in your calling, that you [do not fall away again, grow cold and] may not lose the gifts of your calling, which were given you before, and not on account of works that follow, and which now are retained by faith; for faith does not remain in those who lose the Holy Ghost, who reject repentance, just as we have said above (253:1) that faith exists in repentance.

91] They add other testimonies cohering no better. Lastly they say that this opinion was condemned a thousand years before, in the time of Augustine. This also is quite false. For the Church of Christ always held that the remission of sins is obtained freely. Yea, the Pelagians were condemned, who contended that grace is given on account of our works. 92] Besides, we have above shown sufficiently that we hold that good works ought necessarily to follow faith. For we do not make void the Law, says Paul, Rom. 3:31; yea, we establish the Law, because when by faith we have received the Holy Ghost, the fulfilling of the Law necessarily follows, by which love, patience, chastity, and other fruits of the Spirit gradually grow.


Article XXI, Of the Invocation of Saints: 1-39

1] The Twenty-first Article they absolutely condemn, because we do not require the invocation of saints. Nor on any topic do they speak more eloquently and with more prolixity. Nevertheless they do not effect anything else than that the saints should be honored; likewise, that the saints who live pray for others; as though, indeed, the invocation of dead saints were on that account necessary. 2] They cite Cyprian, because he asked Cornelius while yet alive to pray for his brothers when departing. By this example they prove the invocation of the dead. They quote also Jerome against Vigilantius. “On this field” [in this matter], they say, “eleven hundred years ago, Jerome overcame Vigilantius.” Thus the adversaries triumph, as though the war were already ended. Nor do those asses see that in Jerome, against Vigilantius, there is not a syllable concerning invocation. He speaks concerning honors for the saints, not concerning invocation. 3] Neither have the rest of the ancient writers before Gregory made mention of invocation. Certainly this invocation, with these opinions which the adversaries now teach concerning the application of merits, has not the testimonies of the ancient writers.

4] Our Confession approves honors to the saints. For here a threefold honor is to be approved. The first is thanksgiving. For we ought to give thanks to God because He has shown examples of mercy; because He has shown that He wishes to save men; because He has given teachers or other gifts to the Church. And these gifts, as they are the greatest, should be amplified, and the saints themselves should be praised, who have faithfully used these gifts, just as Christ praises faithful business-men, 5] Matt. 25:21, 23. The second service is the strengthening of our faith; when we see the denial forgiven Peter, we also are encouraged to believe the more that grace 6] truly superabounds over sin, Rom. 5:20. The third honor is the imitation, first, of faith, then of the other virtues, which every one should imitate according to his calling. 7] These true honors the adversaries do not require. They dispute only concerning invocation, which, even though it would have no danger, nevertheless is not necessary.

8] Besides, we also grant that the angels pray for us. For there is a testimony in Zech. 1:12, where an angel prays: O Lord of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on 9] Jerusalem? Although concerning the saints we concede that, just as, when alive, they pray for the Church universal in general, so in heaven they pray for the Church in general, albeit no testimony concerning the praying of the dead is extant in the Scriptures, except the dream taken from the Second Book of Maccabees, 15:14.

Moreover, even supposing that the saints pray for the Church ever so much, 10] yet it does not follow that they are to be invoked; although our Confession affirms only this, that Scripture does not teach the invocation of the saints, or that we are to ask the saints for aid. But since neither a command, nor a promise, nor an example can be produced from the Scriptures concerning the invocation of saints, it follows that conscience can have nothing concerning this invocation that is certain. And since prayer ought to be made from faith, how do we know that God approves this invocation? Whence do we know without the testimony of Scripture that the saints perceive the prayers of each one? 11] Some plainly ascribe divinity to the saints, namely, that they discern the silent thoughts of the minds in us. They dispute concerning morning and evening knowledge, perhaps because they doubt whether they hear us in the morning or the evening. They invent these things, not in order to treat the saints with honor, but to defend lucrative services. 12] Nothing can be produced by the adversaries against this reasoning, that, since invocation does not have a testimony from God’s Word, it cannot be affirmed that the saints understand our invocation, or, even if they understand it, that God approves it. Therefore 13] the adversaries ought not to force us to an uncertain matter, because a prayer without faith is not prayer. For when they cite the example of the Church, it is evident that this is a new custom in the Church; for although the old prayers make mention of the saints, yet they do not invoke the saints. Although also this new invocation in the Church is dissimilar to the invocation of individuals.

14] Again, the adversaries not only require invocation in the worship of the saints, but also apply the merits of the saints to others, and make of the saints not only intercessors, but also propitiators. This is in no way to be endured. For here the honor belonging only to Christ is altogether transferred to the saints. For they make them mediators and propitiators, and although they make a distinction between mediators of intercession and mediators [the Mediator] of redemption, yet they plainly make of the saints mediators of redemption. 15] But even that they are mediators of intercession they declare without the testimony of Scripture, which, be it said ever so reverently, nevertheless obscures Christ’s office, and transfers the confidence of mercy due Christ to the saints. For men imagine that Christ is more severe and the saints more easily appeased, and they trust rather to the mercy of the saints than to the mercy of Christ, and fleeing from Christ [as from a tyrant], they seek the saints. Thus they actually make of them mediators of redemption.

16] Therefore we shall show that they truly make of the saints, not only intercessors, but propitiators, i.e., mediators of redemption. Here we do not as yet recite the abuses of the common people [how manifest idolatry is practised at pilgrimages]. We are still speaking of the opinions of the Doctors. As regards the rest, even the inexperienced [common people] can judge.

17] In a propitiator these two things concur. In the first place, there ought to be a word of God from which we may certainly know that God wishes to pity, and hearken to, those calling upon Him through this propitiator. There is such a promise concerning Christ, John 16:23: Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Concerning the saints there is no such promise. Therefore consciences cannot be firmly confident that by the invocation of saints we are heard. This invocation, therefore, 18] is not made from faith. Then we have also the command to call upon Christ, according to Matt. 11:28: Come unto Me, all ye that labor, etc., which certainly is said also to us. And Isaiah says, 11:10: In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign to the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek. And Ps. 45:12: Even the rich among the people shall entreat Thy favor. And Ps. 72:11,15: Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him. And shortly after: Prayer also shall be made for Him continually. And in John 5:23 Christ says: That all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father. And Paul, 2 Thess. 2:16-17, says, praying: Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, … comfort your hearts and stablish you. (All these passages refer to Christ.] But concerning the invocation of saints, what commandment, what example can the adversaries produce from the Scriptures? 19] The second matter in a propitiator is, that his merits have been presented as those which make satisfaction for others, which are bestowed by divine imputation on others, in order that through these, just as by their own merits, they may be accounted righteous. As when any friend pays a debt for a friend, the debtor is freed by the merit of another, as though it were by his own. Thus the merits of Christ are bestowed upon us, in order that, when we believe in Him, we may be accounted righteous by our confidence in Christ’s merits as though we had merits of our own.

20] And from both, namely, from the promise and the bestowment of merits, confidence in mercy arises [upon both parts must a Christian prayer be founded]. Such confidence in the divine promise, and likewise in the merits of Christ, ought to be brought forward when we pray. For we ought to be truly confident, both that for Christ’s sake we are heard, and that by His merits we have a reconciled Father.

21] Here the adversaries first bid us invoke the saints, although they have neither God’s promise, nor a command, nor an example from Scripture. And yet they cause greater confidence in the mercy of the saints to be conceived than in that of Christ, although Christ bade us come to Him 22] and not to the saints. Secondly, they apply the merits of the saints, just as the merits of Christ, to others; they bid us trust in the merits of the saints as though we were accounted righteous on account of the merits of the saints, in like manner as we are accounted righteous by the merits of Christ. Here we fabricate nothing. 23] In indulgences they say that they apply the merits of the saints [as satisfactions for our sins]. And Gabriel, the interpreter of the canon of the Mass, confidently declares: According to the order instituted by God, we should betake ourselves to the aid of the saints, in order that we may be saved by their merits and vows. These are the words of Gabriel. And nevertheless, in the books and sermons of the adversaries still more absurd things are read here and there. What is it to make propitiators if this is not? They are altogether made equal to Christ if we must trust that we are saved by their merits.

24] But where has this arrangement, to which he refers when he says that we ought to resort to the aid of the saints, been instituted by God? Let him produce an example or command from the Scriptures. Perhaps they derive this arrangement from the courts of kings, where friends must be employed as intercessors. But if a king has appointed a certain intercessor, he will not desire that cases be brought to him through others. Thus, since Christ has been appointed Intercessor and High Priest, why do we seek others? [What can the adversaries say in reply to this?]

25] Here and there this form of absolution is used: The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the most blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints, be to thee for the remission of sins. Here the absolution is pronounced on the supposition that we are reconciled and accounted righteous not only by the merits of Christ, but also by the merits of the other saints. 26] Some of us have seen a doctor of theology dying, for consoling whom a certain theologian, a monk, was employed. He pressed on the dying man nothing but this prayer: Mother of grace, protect us from the enemy; receive us in the hour of death.

27] Granting that the blessed Mary prays for the Church, does she receive souls in death, does she conquer death [the great power of Satan], does she quicken? What does Christ do if the blessed Mary does these things? Although she is most worthy of the most ample honors, nevertheless she does not wish to be made equal to Christ, but rather wishes us to consider and follow her example [the example of her faith and her humility]. 28] But the subject itself declares that in public opinion the blessed Virgin has succeeded altogether to the place of Christ. Men have invoked her, have trusted in her mercy, through her have desired to appease Christ, as though He were not a Propitiator, but, only a dreadful judge and avenger. 29] We believe, however, that we must not trust that the merits of the saints are applied to us, that on account of these God is reconcile d to us, or accounts us just, or saves us. For we obtain remission of sins only by the merits of Christ, when we believe in Him. Of the other saints it has been said, 1 Cor. 3:8: Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor, i.e., they cannot mutually bestow their own merits, the one upon the other, as the monks sell the merits of their orders. 30] Even Hilary says of the foolish virgins: And as the foolish virgins could not go forth with their lamps extinguished, they besought those who were prudent to lend them oil; to whom they replied that they could not give it because peradventure there might not be enough for all; i.e., no one can be aided by the works and merits of another, because it is necessary for every one to buy oil for his own lamp. [Here he points out that none of us can aid another by other people’s works or merits.]

31] Since, therefore, the adversaries teach us to place confidence in the invocation of saints, although they have neither the Word of God nor the example of Scripture [of the Old or of the New Testament]; since they apply the merits of the saints on behalf of others, not otherwise than they apply the merits of Christ, and transfer the honor belonging only to Christ to the saints, we can receive neither their opinions concerning the worship of the saints, nor the practise of invocation. For we know that confidence is to be placed in the intercession of Christ, because this alone has God’s promise. We know that the merits of Christ alone are a propitiation for us. On account of the merits of Christ we are accounted righteous when we believe in Him, as the text says, Rom. 9:33 (cf. 1 Pet. 2:6 and Is. 28:16): Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be confounded. Neither are we to trust that we are accounted righteous by the merits of the blessed Virgin or of the other saints.

32] With the learned this error also prevails, namely, that to each saint a particular administration has been committed, that Anna bestows riches [protects from poverty], Sebastian keeps off pestilence, Valentine heals epilepsy, George protects horsemen. These opinions have clearly sprung from heathen examples. For thus, among the Romans, Juno was thought to enrich, Febris to keep off fever, Castor and Pollux to protect horsemen, etc. 33] Even though we should imagine that the invocation of saints were taught with the greatest prudence, yet since the example is most dangerous, why is it necessary to defend it when it has no command or testimony from God’s Word? Aye, it has not even the testimony of the ancient writers. 34] First because, as I have said above, when other mediators are sought in addition to Christ, and confidence is put in others, the entire knowledge of Christ is suppressed. The subject shows this. In the beginning, mention of the saints seems to have been admitted with a design that is endurable, as in the ancient prayers. Afterwards invocation followed, and abuses that are prodigious and more than heathenish followed invocation. From invocation the next step was to images; these also were worshiped, and a virtue was supposed to exist in these, just as magicians imagine that a virtue exists in images of the heavenly bodies carved at a particular time. In a certain monastery we [some of us] have seen a statue of the blessed Virgin, which moved automatically by a trick [within by a string], so as to seem either to turn away from [those who did not make a large offering] or nod to those making request.

35] Still the fabulous stories concerning the saints, which are publicly taught with great authority, surpass the marvelous tales of the statues and pictures. Barbara, amidst her torments, asks for the reward that no one who would invoke her should die without the Eucharist. Another, standing on one foot, recited daily the whole psaltery. Some wise man painted [for children] Christophorus [which in German means Bearer of Christ], in order by the allegory to signify that there ought to be great strength of mind in those who would bear Christ, i.e., who would teach or confess the Gospel, because it is necessary to undergo the greatest dangers [for they must wade by night through the great sea, i.e., endure all kinds of temptations and dangers]. Then the foolish monks taught among the people that they ought to invoke Christophorus, as though such a Polyphemus (such a giant who bore Christ through the sea] had once existed. And although 36] the saints performed very great deeds, either useful to the state or affording private examples, the remembrance of which would conduce much both toward strengthening faith and toward following their example in the administration of affairs, no one has searched for these from true narratives. [Although God Almighty through His saints, as a peculiar people, has wrought many great things in both realms, in the Church and in worldly transactions; although there are many great examples in the lives of the saints which would be very profitable to princes and lords, to true pastors and guardians of souls, for the government both of the world and of the Church, especially for strengthening faith in God, yet they have passed these by, and preached the most insignificant matters concerning the saints, concerning their hard beds, their hair shirts, etc., which, for the greater part, are falsehoods.] Yet indeed it is of advantage to hear how holy men administered governments [as in the Holy Scriptures it is narrated of the kings of Israel and Judah], what calamities, what dangers they underwent, how holy men were of aid to kings in great dangers, how they taught the Gospel, what encounters they had with heretics. Examples of mercy are also of service, as when we see the denial forgiven Peter, when we see Cyprian forgiven for having been a magician, when we see Augustine, having experienced the power of faith in sickness, steadily affirming that God truly hears the prayers of believers. It was profitable that such examples as these, which contain admonitions for either faith or fear or the administration of the state, be recited. 37] But certain triflers, endowed with no knowledge either of faith or for governing states, have invented stories in imitation of poems, in which there are nothing but superstitious examples concerning certain prayers, certain fastings, and certain additions of service for bringing in gain [where there are nothing but examples as to how the saints wore hair shirts, how they prayed at the seven canonical hours, how they lived upon bread and water]. Such are the miracles that have been invented concerning rosaries and similar ceremonies. Nor is there need here to recite examples. For the legends, as they call them, and the mirrors of examples, and the rosaries, in which there are very many things not unlike the true narratives of Lucian, are extant.

38] The bishops, theologians, and monks applaud these monstrous and wicked stories [this abomination set up against Christ, this blasphemy, these scandalous, shameless lies, these lying preachers; and they have permitted them so long, to the great injury of consciences, that it is terrible to think of it] because they aid them to their daily bread. They do not tolerate us, who, in order that the honor and office of Christ may be more conspicuous, do not require the invocation of saints, and censure the abuses in the worship, of saints. 39] And although [even their own theologians], all good men everywhere [a long time before Dr. Luther began to write] in the correction of these abuses, greatly longed for either the authority of the bishops or the diligence of the preachers, nevertheless our adversaries in the Confutation altogether pass over vices that are even manifest, as though they wish, by the reception of the Confutation, to compel us to approve even the most notorious abuses.

 

 

Daily Readings from the Book of Concord // Follow ConcordCast on Twitter // Like ConcordCast on Facebook // Subscribe to ConcordCast on iTunes // Help keep ConcordCast online

Text: The Smalcald Articles, Part I – Part III, Article II

  • Part I: The Sublime Articles Concerning the Divine Majesty

  • Part II: The Articles which Refer to the Office and Work of Jesus Christ, or Our Redemption

    • Article I: The First and Chief Article (Of Justification)

    • Article II: Of the Mass; Of the Invocation of Saints

    • Article III: Of Chapters and Cloisters

    • Article IV: Of the Papacy

  • Part III

    • Article I: Of Sin

    • Article II: Of the Law


Thanks to Mark Brown, Trent Demarest, Aidan Clevinger, Nils Niemeier, and Will Cloninger for reading this week.

 

 

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Text: The Smalcald Articles, Part III, Articles III-VIII »

  • Part III

    • Article III: Of Repentance

      • Of The False Repentance of the Papists

    • Article IV: Of The Gospel

    • Article V: Of Baptism

    • Article VI: Of the Sacrament of the Altar

    • Article VII: Of the Keys

    • Article VIII: Of Confession »


Thanks to Aidan Clevinger, Matthew Carver, Ryan Fehrmann, Dave Spotts, and Mark Brown for reading this week.

 

 

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Text: The Smalcald Articles, Part III, Articles IX-XV »

  • Part III

    • Article IX: Of Excommunication

    • Article X: Of Ordination and the Call

    • Article XI: Of the Marriage of Priests

    • Article XII: Of the Church

    • Article XIII: How One is Justified before God, and of Good Works

    • Article XIV: Of Monastic Vows

    • Article XV: Of Human Traditions

Text: A Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (Tractatus)

    • Parts 1-54


Thanks to Pastor David Sutton and Matthew Carver for reading this week.

 
 
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