Concerning the following articles we may (will be able to) treat with learned and reasonable men, or among ourselves. The Pope and his (the Papal) government do not care much about these. For with them conscience is nothing, but money, (glory) honors, power are (to them) everything.
1. OF SIN
Here we must confess, as Paul says in Romans 5:11:that sin originated (and entered the world) from one man Adam, by whose disobedience all men were made sinners, (and) subject to death and the devil. This is called original or capital sin.
The fruits of this sin are afterwards the evil deeds which are forbidden in the Ten Commandments, such as (distrust) unbelief, false faith, idolatry, to be without the fear of God, presumption (recklessness), despair, blindness (or complete loss of sight), and, in short not to know or regard God; furthermore to lie, to swear by (to abuse) Godís name (to swear falsely), not to pray, not to call upon God, not to regard (to despise or neglect) Godís Word, to be disobedient to parents, to murder, to be unchaste, to steal, to deceive, etc.
This hereditary sin is so deep and (horrible) a corruption of nature that no reason can understand it, but it must be (learned and) believed from the revelation of Scriptures, Psalm 51:5; Romans 6:12 ff.; Exodus 33:3; Genesis 3:7 ff. Hence, it is nothing but error and blindness in regard to this article what the scholastic doctors have taught, namely:
That since the fall of Adam the natural powers of man have remained entire and incorrupt, and that man by nature has a right reason and a good will; which things the philosophers teach.
Again that man has a free will to do good and omit evil, and, conversely, to omit good and do evil.
Again, that man by his natural powers can observe and keep (do) all the commands of God.
Again, that, by his natural powers, man can love God above all things and his neighbor as himself.
Again, if a man does as much as is in him, God certainly grants him His grace.
Again, if he wishes to go to the Sacrament, there is no need of a good intention to do good, but it is sufficient if he has not a wicked purpose to commit sin; so entirely good is his nature and so efficacious the Sacrament. (Again,) that it is not founded upon Scripture that for a good work the Holy Ghost with His grace is necessary.
Such and many similar things have arisen from want of understanding and ignorance as regards both this sin and Christ, our Savior and they are truly heathen dogmas, which we cannot endure. For if this teaching were right (approved), then Christ has died in vain, since there is in man no defect nor sin for which he should have died; or He would have died only for the body, not for the soul, inasmuch as the soul is (entirely) sound, and the body only is subject to death.
2. OF THE LAW
Here we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment, and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit. But all this miscarried on account of the wickedness which sin has wrought in man. For thereby a part (some) were rendered worse, those, namely, who are hostile to (hate) the Law, because it forbids what they like to do, and enjoins what they do not like to do. Therefore, wherever they can escape (if they were not restrained by) punishment, they (would) do more against the Law than before. These, then, are the rude and wicked (unbridled and secure) men, who do evil wherever they (notice that they) have the opportunity.
The rest become blind and arrogant (are smitten with arrogance and blindness), and (insolently) conceive the opinion that they observe and can observe the Law by their own powers, as has been said above concerning the scholastic theologians; thence come the hypocrites and (self-righteous or) false saints.
But the chief office or force of the Law is that it reveal original sin with all its fruits, and show man how very low his nature has fallen, and has become (fundamentally and) utterly corrupted; as the Law must tell man that he has no God nor regards (cares for) God, and worships other gods, a matter which before and without the Law he would not have believed. In this way he becomes terrified, is humbled, desponds, despairs, and anxiously desires aid, but sees no escape; he begins to be an enemy of (enraged at) God, and to murmur, etc. This is what Paul says, Romans 4:15: The Law worketh wrath. And Romans 5:20: Sin is increased by the Law. (The Law entered that the offense might abound.)
3. OF REPENTANCE
This office (of the Law) the New Testament retains and urges, as St. Paul, Romans 1:18 does, saying: The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Again, 3:19: All the world is guilty before God. No man is righteous before Him. And Christ says, John 16:8: The Holy Ghost will reprove the world of sin.
This, then, is the thunderbolt of God by which He strikes in a heap (hurls to the ground) both manifest sinners and false saints (hypocrites), and suffers no one to be in the right (declares no one righteous), but drives them all together to terror and despair. This is the hammer, as Jeremiah says, 23:29: Is not My Word like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
This is not activa contritio or manufactured repentance, but passiva contritio (torture of conscience), true sorrow of heart, suffering and sensation of death.
This, then, is what it means to begin true repentance; and here man must hear such a sentence as this: You are all of no account, whether you be manifest sinners or saints (in your own opinion); you all must become different and do otherwise than you now are and are doing (no matter what sort of people you are), whether you are as great, wise, powerful, and holy as you may. Here no one is (righteous, holy), godly, etc.
But to this office the New Testament immediately adds the consolatory promise of grace through the Gospel, which must be believed, as Christ declares, Mark 1:15: Repent and believe the Gospel, i.e., become different and do otherwise, and believe My promise. And John, preceding Him, is called a preacher of repentance, however, for the remission of sins, i.e., John was to accuse all, and convict them of being sinners, that they might know what they were before God, and might acknowledge that they were lost men, and might thus be prepared for the Lord, to receive grace, and to expect and accept from Him the remission of sins. Thus also Christ Himself says, Luke 24:47: Repentance and remission of sins must be preached in My name among all nations.
But whenever the Law alone, without the Gospel being added exercises this its office there is (nothing else than) death and hell, and man must despair, like Saul and Judas; as St. Paul, Romans 7:10, says: Through sin the Law killeth. On the other hand, the Gospel brings consolation and remission not only in one way, but through the word and Sacraments, and the like, as we shall hear afterward in order that (thus) there is with the Lord plenteous redemption, as <19D007> Psalm 130:7 says against the dreadful captivity of sin.
However, we must now contrast the false repentance of the sophists with true repentance, in order that both may be the better understood.
4. OF THE FALSE REPENTANCE OF THE PAPISTS
It was impossible that they should teach correctly concerning repentance, since they did not (rightly) know the real sins (the real sin). For, as has been shown above, they do not believe aright concerning original sin, but say that the natural powers of man have remained (entirely) unimpaired and incorrupt; that reason can teach aright, and the will can in accordance therewith do aright (perform those things which are taught), that God certainly bestows His grace when a man does as much as is in him, according to his free will.
It had to follow thence (from this dogma) that they did (must do) penance only for actual sins such as wicked thoughts to which a person yields (for wicked emotion (concupiscence, vicious feelings, and inclinations), lust and improper dispositions (according to them) are not sins), and for wicked words and wicked deeds, which free will could readily have omitted.
And of such repentance they fix three parts contrition, confession, and satisfaction, with this (magnificent) consolation and promise added: If man truly repent, (feel remorse,) confess, render satisfaction, he thereby would have merited forgiveness, and paid for his sins before God (atoned for his sins and obtained a plenary redemption). Thus in repentance they instructed men to repose confidence in their own works. Hence the expression originated, which was employed in the pulpit when public absolution was announced to the people: Prolong O God, my life, until I shall make satisfaction for my sins and amend my life.
There was here (profound silence and) no mention of Christ nor faith; but men hoped by their own works to overcome and blot out sins before God.
And with this intention we became priests and monks, that we might array ourselves against sin.
As to contrition, this is the way it was done: Since no one could remember all his sins (especially as committed through an entire year), they inserted this provision, namely, that if an unknown sin should be remembered later (if the remembrance of a concealed sin should perhaps return), this also must be repented of and confessed etc. Meanwhile they were (the person was) commended to the grace of God.
Moreover, since no one could know how great the contrition ought to be in order to be sufficient before God, they gave this consolation: He who could not have contrition, at least ought to have attrition, which I may call half a contrition or the beginning of contrition, for they have themselves understood neither of these terms nor do they understand them now, as little as I. Such attrition was reckoned as contrition when a person went to confession.
And when it happened that any one said that he could not have contrition nor lament his sins (as might have occurred in illicit love or the desire for revenge, etc.), they asked whether he did not wish or desire to have contrition (lament). When one would reply Yes (for who, save the devil himself, would here say No?), they accepted this as contrition, and forgave him his sins on account of this good work of his (which they adorned with the name of contrition). Here they cited the example of St. Bernard, etc.
Here we see how blind reason, in matters pertaining to God, gropes about, and, according to its own imagination, seeks for consolation in its own works, and cannot think of (entirely forgets) Christ and faith. But if it be (clearly) viewed in the light, this contrition is a manufactured and fictitious thought (or imagination), derived from manís own powers, without faith and without the knowledge of Christ. And in it the poor sinner, when he reflected upon his own lust and desire for revenge, would sometimes (perhaps) have laughed rather than wept (either laughed or wept, rather than to think of something else), except such as either had been truly struck by (the lightning of) the Law, or had been vainly vexed by the devil with a sorrowful spirit. Otherwise (with the exception of these persons) such contrition was certainly mere hypocrisy, and did not mortify the lust for sins (flames of sin); for they had to grieve, while they would rather have continued to sin, if it had been free to them.
As regards confession, the procedure was this: Every one had (was enjoined) to enumerate all his sins (which is an impossible thing). This was a great torment. From such as he had forgotten (But if any one had forgotten some sins) he would be absolved on the condition that, if they would occur to him, he must still confess them. In this way he could never know whether he had made a sufficiently pure confession (perfectly and correctly), or when confessing would ever have an end. Yet he was pointed to his own works, and comforted thus: The more fully (sincerely and frankly) one confesses, and the more he humiliates himself and debases himself before the priest, the sooner and better he renders satisfaction for his sins; for such humility certainly would earn grace before God.
Here, too, there was no faith nor Christ, and the virtue of the absolution was not declared to him, but upon his enumeration of sins and his self-abasement depended his consolation. What torture, rascality, and idolatry such confession has produced is more than can be related.
As to satisfaction, this is by far the most involved (perplexing) part of all.
For no man could know how much to render for a single sin, not to say how much for all. Here they have resorted to the device of imposing a small satisfaction, which could indeed be rendered, as five Paternosters, a dayís fast, etc.; for the rest (that was lacking) of the (in their) repentance they were directed to purgatory.
Here, too, there was nothing but anguish and (extreme) misery. (For) some thought that they would never get out of purgatory, because, according to the old canons seven yearsí repentance is required for a single mortal sin.
Nevertheless, confidence was placed upon our work of satisfaction, and if the satisfaction could have been perfect, confidence would have been placed in it entirely, and neither faith nor Christ would have been of use. But this confidence was impossible. For although any one had done penance in that way for a hundred years, he would still not have known whether he had finished his penance. That meant forever to do penance and never to come to repentance.
Here now the Holy See at Rome, coming to the aid of the poor Church, invented indulgences, whereby it forgave and remitted (expiation or) satisfaction, first, for a single instance, for seven years, for a hundred years and distributed them among the cardinals and bishops, so that one could grant indulgence for a hundred years and another for a hundred days. But he reserved to himself alone the power to remit the entire satisfaction.
Now, since this began to yield money, and the traffic in bulls became profitable he devised the golden jubilee year (a truly gold bearing year), and fixed it at Rome. He called this the remission of all punishment and guilt.
Then the people came running, because every one would fain have been freed from this grievous, unbearable burden. This meant to find (dig up) and raise the treasures of the earth. Immediately the Pope pressed still further, and multiplied the golden years one upon another. But the more he devoured money, the wider grew his maw.
Later, therefore, he issued them (those golden years of his) by his legates (everywhere) to the countries, until all churches and houses were full of the Golden Year. At last he also made an inroad into purgatory among the dead, first, by founding masses and vigils, afterwards, by indulgences and the Golden Year, and finally souls became so cheap that he released one for a farthing.
But all this, too, was of no avail. For although the Pope taught men to depend upon, and trust in, these indulgences (for salvation), yet he rendered the (whole) matter again uncertain. For in his bulls he declares:
Whoever would share in the indulgences or a Golden Year must be contrite, and have confessed, and pay money. Now, we have heard above that this contrition and confession are with them uncertain and hypocrisy. Likewise, also no one knew what soul was in purgatory, and if some were therein, no one knew which had properly repented and confessed. Thus he took the precious money (the Pope snatched up the holy pence), and comforted them meanwhile with (led them to confidence in) his power and indulgence, and (then again led them away from that and) directed them again to their uncertain work.
If, now (although), there were some who did not believe (acknowledge) themselves guilty of such actual sins in (committed by) thoughts, words, and works, ó as I, and such as I, in monasteries and chapters (fraternities or colleges of priests), wished to be monks and priests, and by fasting, watching, praying, saying Mass, coarse garments, and hard beds, etc., fought against (strove to resist) evil thoughts, and in full earnest and with force wanted to be holy, and yet the hereditary, inborn evil sometimes did in sleep what it is wont to do (as also St. Augustine and Jerome among others confess), ó still each one held the other in esteem, so that some, according to our teaching, were regarded as holy, without sin and full of good works, so much so that with this mind we would communicate and sell our good works to others, as being superfluous to us for heaven. This is indeed true, and seals, letters, and instances (that this happened) are at hand. (When there were such, I say) These did not need repentance. For of what would they repent, since they had not indulged wicked thoughts? What would they confess (concerning words not uttered), since they had avoided words? For what should they render satisfaction, since they were so guiltless of any deed that they could even sell their superfluous righteousness to other poor sinners? Such saints were also the Pharisees and scribes in the time of Christ.
Here comes the fiery angel, St. John ( Revelation 10), the true preacher of (true) repentance, and with one (thunderclap and) bolt hurls both (those selling and those buying works) on one heap, and says: Repent! Matthew 3:2. Now, the former (the poor wretches) imagine: Why, we have repented!
The latter (the rest) say: We need no repentance. John says: Repent ye, both of you, for ye are false penitents; so are these (the rest) false saints (or hypocrites), and all of you on either side need the forgiveness of sins, because neither of you know what true sin is not to say anything about your duty to repent of it and shun it. For no one of you is good; you are full of unbelief, stupidity, and ignorance of God and Godís will. For here He is present of whose fullness have all we received, and grace for grace, John 1:16:and without Him no man can be just before God. Therefore, if you wish to repent, repent aright ó your penance will not accomplish anything (is nothing). And you hypocrites, who do not need repentance, you serpentsí brood, who has assured you that you will escape the wrath to come? etc. Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7.
In the same way Paul also preaches, Romans 3:10-12: There is none righteous, there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God, there is none that doeth good, no not one; they are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable. And Acts 17:30: God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. ďAll men,Ē he says; no one excepted who is a man. This repentance teaches us to discern sin, namely, that we are altogether lost, and that there is nothing good in us from head to foot (both within and without), and that we must absolutely become new and other men.
This repentance is not piecemeal (partial) and beggarly (fragmentary), like that which does penance for actual sins, nor is it uncertain like that. For it does not debate what is or is not sin, but hurls everything on a heap, and says: All in us is nothing but sin (affirms that, with respect to us, all is simply sin (and there is nothing in us that is not sin and guilt)). What is the use of (For why do we wish) investigating, dividing, or distinguishing a long time? For this reason, too, this contrition is not (doubtful or) uncertain. For there is nothing left with which we can think of any good thing to pay for sin, but there is only a sure despairing concerning all that we are, think, speak, or do (all hope must be cast aside in respect of everything), etc.
In like manner confession, too, cannot be false, uncertain, or piecemeal (mutilated or fragmentary). For he who confesses that all in him is nothing but sin comprehends all sins excludes none, forgets none. Neither can the satisfaction be uncertain, because it is not our uncertain, sinful work, but it is the suffering and blood of the (spotless and) innocent Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.
Of this repentance John preaches, and afterwards Christ in the Gospel, and we also. By this (preaching of) repentance we dash to the ground the Pope and everything that is built upon our good works. For all is built upon a rotten and vain foundation, which is called a good work or law, even though no good work is there, but only wicked works, and no one does the Law (as Christ, John 7:19:says), but all transgress it. Therefore the building (that is raised upon it) is nothing but falsehood and hypocrisy, even (in the part) where it is most holy and beautiful.
And in Christians this repentance continues until death, because, through the entire life it contends with sin remaining in the flesh, as Paul, Romans 7:14-25:(shows) testifies that he wars with the law in his members, etc.; and that, not by his own powers, but by the gift of the Holy Ghost that follows the remission of sins. This gift daily cleanses and sweeps out the remaining sins, and works so as to render man truly pure and holy.
The Pope, the theologians, the jurists, and every other man know nothing of this (from their own reason), but it is a doctrine from heaven, revealed through the Gospel, and must suffer to be called heresy by the godless saints (or hypocrites).
On the other hand, if certain sectarists would arise, some of whom are perhaps already extant, and in the time of the insurrection (of the peasants) came to my own view, holding that all those who had once received the Spirit or the forgiveness of sins, or had become believers, even though they should afterwards sin, would still remain in the faith, and such sin would not harm them, and (hence) crying thus: ďDo whatever you please; if you believe, it all amounts to nothing; faith blots out all sins,Ē etc. ó they say, besides, that if any one sins after he has received faith and the Spirit, he never truly had the Spirit and faith: I have had before me (seen and heard) many such insane men, and I fear that in some such a devil is still remaining (hiding and dwelling).
It is, accordingly, necessary to know and to teach that when holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them (they cast out faith and the Holy Ghost). For the Holy Ghost does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so as to be accomplished, but represses and restrains it so that it must not do what it wishes. But if it does what it wishes, the Holy Ghost and faith are (certainly) not present. For St.
John says, 1 Ephesians 3:9: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin,... and he cannot sin. And yet it is also the truth when the same St. John says, Ephesians 1:8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
4. OF THE GOSPEL
We will now return to the Gospel, which not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin; for God is superabundantly rich (and liberal) in His grace (and goodness). First, through the spoken Word by which the forgiveness of sins is preached (He commands to be preached) in the whole world; which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly, through Baptism. Thirdly, through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly, through the power of the keys, and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matthew 18:20: Where two or three are gathered together, etc.
5. OF BAPTISM.
Baptism is nothing else than the Word of God in the water, commanded by His institution, or, as Paul says, a washing in the Word; as also Augustine says: Let the Word come to the element, and it becomes a Sacrament. And for this reason we do not hold with Thomas and the monastic preachers (or Dominicans) who forget the Word (Godís institution) and say that God has imparted to the water a spiritual power, which through the water washes away sin. Nor (do we agree) with Scotus and the Barefooted monks (Minorites or Franciscan monks), who teach that, by the assistance of the divine will, Baptism washes away sins, and that this ablution occurs only through the will of God, and by no means through the Word or water. Of the baptism of children we hold that children ought to be baptized. For they belong to the promised redemption made through Christ, and the Church should administer it (Baptism and the announcement of that promise) to them.
6. OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR
Of the Sacrament of the Altar we hold that bread and wine in the Supper are the true body and blood of Christ, and are given and received not only by the godly, but also by wicked Christians.
And that not only one form is to be given. (For) we do not need that high art (specious wisdom) which is to teach us that under the one form there is as much as under both, as the sophists and the Council of Constance teach.
For even if it were true that there is as much under one as under both, yet the one form only is not the entire ordinance and institution (made) ordained and commanded by Christ. And we especially condemn and in Godís name execrate those who not only omit both forms but also quite autocratically (tyrannically) prohibit, condemn, and blaspheme them as heresy, and so exalt themselves against and above Christ, our Lord and God (opposing and placing themselves ahead of Christ), etc.
As regards transubstantiation, we care nothing about the sophistical subtlety by which they teach that bread and wine leave or lose their own natural substance, and that there remain only the appearance and color of bread, and not true bread. For it is in perfect agreement with Holy Scriptures that there is, and remains, bread, as Paul himself calls it, 1 Corinthians 10:16:
The bread which we break. And 1 Corinthians 11:28: Let him so eat of that bread.
7. OF THE KEYS
The keys are an office and power given by Christ to the Church for binding and loosing sin, not only the gross and well-known sins, but also the subtle, hidden, which are known only to God, as it is written in Psalm 19:13: Who can understand his errors? And in Romans 7:25 St. Paul himself complains that with the flesh he serves the law of sin. For it is not in our power, but belongs to God alone, to judge which, how great, and how many the sins are, as it is written in <19E302> Psalm 143:2: Enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.
And Paul, 1 Corinthians 4:4:says: For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified.
8. OF CONFESSION
Since Absolution or the Power of the Keys is also an aid and consolation against sin and a bad conscience, ordained by Christ (Himself) in the Gospel, Confession or Absolution ought by no means to be abolished in the Church, especially on account of (tender and) timid consciences and on account of the untrained (and capricious) young people, in order that they may be examined, and instructed in the Christian doctrine.
But the enumeration of sins ought to be free to every one, as to what he wishes to enumerate or not to enumerate. For as long as we are in the flesh, we shall not lie when we say: ďI am a poor man (I acknowledge that I am a miserable sinner), full of sin.Ē Romans 7:23: I see another law in my members, etc. For since private absolution originates in the Office of the Keys, it should not be despised (neglected), but greatly and highly esteemed (of the greatest worth), as (also) all other offices of the Christian Church.
And in those things which concern the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one, except through or with the preceding outward Word, in order that we may (thus) be protected against the enthusiasts, i.e., spirits who boast that they have the Spirit without and before the Word, and accordingly judge Scripture or the spoken Word, and explain and stretch it at their pleasure, as Muenzer did, and many still do at the present day, who wish to be acute judges between the Spirit and the letter, and yet know not what they say or declare. For (indeed) the Papacy also is nothing but sheer enthusiasm, by which the Pope boasts that all rights exist in the shrine of his heart, and whatever he decides and commands with (in) his church is spirit and right, even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the spoken Word.
All this is the old devil and old serpent, who also converted Adam and Eve into enthusiasts, and led them from the outward Word of God to spiritualizing and self-conceit, and nevertheless he accomplished this through other outward words. Just as also our enthusiasts (at the present day) condemn the outward Word, and nevertheless they themselves are not silent, but they fill the world with their pratings and writings, as though, indeed, the Spirit could not come through the writings and spoken word of the apostles, but (first) through their writings and words he must come.
Why (then) do not they also omit their own sermons and writings, until the Spirit Himself come to men, without their writings and before them, as they boast that Me has come into them without the preaching of the Scriptures?
But of these matters there is not time now to dispute at greater length; we have elsewhere sufficiently urged this subject.
For even those who believe before Baptism, or become believing in Baptism, believe through the preceding outward Word, as the adults, who have come to reason, must first have heard: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, even though they are at first unbelieving, and receive the Spirit and Baptism ten years afterwards. Cornelius, Acts 10:1 ff., had heard long before among the Jews of the coming Messiah, through whom he was righteous before God, and in such faith his prayers and alms were acceptable to God (as Luke calls him devout and God-fearing), and without such preceding Word and hearing could not have believed or been righteous. But St. Peter had to reveal to him that the Messiah (in whom, as one that was to come, he had hitherto believed) now had come, lest his faith concerning the coming Messiah hold him captive among the hardened and unbelieving Jews, but know that he was now to be saved by the present Messiah, and must not, with the (rabble of the) Jews deny nor persecute Him.
In a word, enthusiasm inheres in Adam and his children from the beginning (from the first fall) to the end of the world, (its poison) having been implanted and infused into them by the old dragon, and is the origin, power (life), and strength of all heresy, especially of that of the Papacy and Mahomet. Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments. For God wished to appear even to Moses through the burning bush and spoken Word; and no prophet neither Elijah nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments (or spoken Word). Neither was John the Baptist conceived without the preceding word of Gabriel, nor did he leap in his motherís womb without the voice of Mary. And Peter says, Ephesians 1:21: The prophecy came not by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Without the outward Word, however, they were not holy, much less would the Holy Ghost have moved them to speak when they still were unholy (or profane); for they were holy, says he, since the Holy Ghost spake through them.
9. OF EXCOMMUNICATION
The greater excommunication, as the Pope calls it, we regard only as a civil penalty, and it does not concern us ministers of the Church. But the lesser, that is, the true Christian excommunication, consists in this, that manifest and obstinate sinners are not admitted to the Sacrament and other communion of the Church until they amend their lives and avoid sin. And ministers ought not to mingle secular punishments with this ecclesiastical punishment, or excommunication.
10. OF ORDINATION AND THE CALL
If the bishops would be true bishops (would rightly discharge their office), and would devote themselves to the Church and the Gospel, it might be granted to them for the sake of love and unity, but not from necessity, to ordain and confirm us and our preachers; omitting, however, all comedies and spectacular display (deceptions, absurdities, and appearances) of unchristian (heathenish) parade and pomp. But because they neither are, nor wish to be, true bishops, but worldly lords and princes, who will neither preach, nor teach, nor baptize, nor administer the Lordís Supper, nor perform any work or office of the Church, and, moreover, persecute and condemn those who discharge these functions, having been called to do so, the Church ought not on their account to remain without ministers (to be forsaken by or deprived of ministers).
Therefore, as the ancient examples of the Church and the Fathers teach us, we ourselves will and ought to ordain suitable persons to this office; and, even according to their own laws, they have not the right to forbid or prevent us. For their laws say that those ordained even by heretics should be declared (truly) ordained and stay ordained (and that such ordination must not be changed), as St. Jerome writes of the Church at Alexandria, that at first it was governed in common by priests and preachers, without bishops.
11. OF THE MARRIAGE OF PRIESTS
To prohibit marriage, and to burden the divine order of priests with perpetual celibacy, they have had neither authority nor right (they have done out of malice, without any honest reason), but have acted like antichristian, tyrannical, desperate scoundrels (have performed the work of antichrist, of tyrants and the worst knaves), and have thereby caused all kinds of horrible, abominable, innumerable sins of unchastity (depraved lusts), in which they still wallow. Now, as little as we or they have been given the power to make a woman out of a man or a man out of a woman, or to nullify either sex, so little have they had the power to (sunder and) separate such creatures of God, or to forbid them from living (and cohabiting) honestly in marriage with one another. Therefore we are unwilling to assent to their abominable celibacy, nor will we (even) tolerate it, but we wish to have marriage free as God has instituted (and ordained) it, and we wish neither to rescind nor hinder His work; for Paul says, 1 Timothy 4:1 ff., that this (prohibition of marriage) is a doctrine of devils.
12. OF THE CHURCH
We do not concede to them that they are the Church, and (in truth) they are not (the Church); nor will we listen to those things which, under the name of Church, they enjoin or forbid. For, thank God, (today) a child seven years old knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd. For the children pray thus: I believe in one holy (catholic or) Christian Church. This holiness does not consist in albs, tonsures, long gowns, and other of their ceremonies devised by them beyond Holy Scripture, but in the Word of God and true faith.
13. HOW ONE IS JUSTIFIED BEFORE GOD, AND OF GOOD WORKS
What I have hitherto and constantly taught concerning this I know not how to change in the least, namely, that by faith, as St. Peter says, we acquire a new and clean heart, and God will and does account us entirely righteous and holy for the sake of Christ, our Mediator. And although sin in the flesh has not yet been altogether removed or become dead, yet He will not punish or remember it.
And such faith, renewal, and forgiveness of sins is followed by good works. And what there is still sinful or imperfect also in them shall not be accounted as sin or defect, even (and that, too) for Christís sake; but the entire man, both as to his person and his works, is to be called and to be righteous and holy from pure grace and mercy, shed upon us (unfolded) and spread over us in Christ. Therefore we cannot boast of many merits and works, if they are viewed apart from grace and mercy, but as it is written, 1 Corinthians 1:31: He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord, namely, that he has a gracious God. For thus all is well. We say, besides, that if good works do not follow, faith is false and not true.
14. OF MONASTIC VOWS
As monastic vows directly conflict with the first chief article, they must be absolutely abolished. For it is of them that Christ says, Matthew 24:5, ff.: I am Christ, etc. For he who makes a vow to live as a monk believes that he will enter upon a mode of life holier than ordinary Christians lead, and wishes to earn heaven by his own works not only for himself, but also for others; this is to deny Christ. And they boast from their St. Thomas that a monastic vow is equal to Baptism. This is blasphemy (against God).
15. OF HUMAN TRADITIONS
The declaration of the Papists that human traditions serve for the remission of sins, or merit salvation, is (altogether) unchristian and condemned, as Christ says Matthew 15:9: In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Again, Titus 1:14: That turn from the truth. Again, when they declare that it is a mortal sin if one breaks these ordinances (does not keep these statutes), this, too, is not right.
These are the articles on which I must stand, and, God willing, shall stand even to my death; and I do not know how to change or to yield anything in them. If any one wishes to yield anything, let him do it at the peril of his conscience.
Lastly, there still remains the Popeís bag of impostures concerning foolish and childish articles, as, the dedication of churches, the baptism of bells, the baptism of the altar-stone, and the inviting of sponsors to these rites, who would make donations towards them. Such baptizing is a reproach and mockery of Holy Baptism, hence should not be tolerated. Furthermore, concerning the consecration of wax-tapers, palm-branches, cakes, oats, (herbs,) spices, etc., which indeed, cannot be called consecrations, but are sheer mockery and fraud. And such deceptions there are without number, which we commend for adoration to their God and to themselves, until they weary of it. We will (ought to) have nothing to do with them.
Dr. Martin Luther subscribed.
Dr. Justus Jonas, Rector, subscribed with his own hand.
Dr. John Bugenhagen, Pomeranus, subscribed.
Dr. Caspar Creutziger subscribed.
Nicholas Amsdorf of Magdeburg subscribed.
George Spalatin of Altenburg subscribed.
I, Philip Melanchthon, also regard (approve) the above articles as right and Christian. But regarding the Pope I hold that, if he would allow the Gospel, his superiority over the bishops which he has otherwise, is conceded to him by human right also by us, for the sake of the peace and general unity of those Christians who are also under him, and may be under him hereafter.
John Agricola of Eisleben subscribed.
Gabriel Didymus subscribed.
I, Dr. Urban Rhegius , Superintendent of the churches in the Duchy of Lueneburg, subscribe in my own name and in the name of my brethren, and of the Church of Hanover. I, Stephen Agricola, Minister at Hof, subscribe.
Also I, John Draconites, Professor and Minister at Marburg, subscribe.
I, Conrad Figenbotz, for the glory of God subscribe that I have thus believed, and am still preaching and firmly believing as above.
I, Andrew Osiander of Nuernberg, subscribe.
I, Magister Veit Dieterich, Minister at Nuernberg, subscribe.
I, Erhard Schnepf, Preacher at Stuttgart, subscribe.
Conrad Oettinger, Preacher of Duke Ulrich at Pforzheim.
Simon Schneeweiss, Pastor of the Church at Crailsheim.
I, John Schlagenhaufen, Pastor of the Church at Koethen, subscribe.
The Reverend Magister George Helt of Forchheim.
The Reverend Magister Adam of Fulda, Preacher in Hesse.
The Reverend Magister Anthony Corvinus, Preacher in Hesse.
I, Doctor John Bugenhagen , Pomeranus, again subscribe in the name of Magister John Brentz, as on departing from Smalcald he directed me orally and by a letter, which I have shown to these brethren who have subscribed.
I, Dionysius Melander , subscribe to the Confession, the Apology, and the Concordia on the subject of the Eucharist.
Paul Rhodius, Superintendent of Stettin.
Gerard Oemcken, Superintendent of the Church at Minden.
I, Brixius Northanus , Minister of the Church of Christ which is at Soest, subscribe to the Articles of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, and confess that hitherto I have thus believed and taught, and by the Spirit of Christ I shall continue thus to believe and teach.
Michael Caelius, Preacher at Mansfeld, subscribed.
The Reverend Magister Peter Geltner Preacher at Frankfort, subscribed.
Wendal Faber, Pastor of Seeburg in Mansfeld.
I, John Aepinus, subscribe.
Likewise, I, John Amsterdam of Bremen.
I, Frederick Myconius , Pastor of the Church at Gotha in Thuringia, subscribe in my own name and in that of Justus Menius of Eisenach.
I, Doctor John Lang , Preacher of the Church at Erfurt, subscribe with my own hand in my own name, and in that of my other coworkers in the Gospel, namely: The Reverend Licentiate Ludwig Platz of Melsungen. The Reverend Magister Sigismund Kirchner, The Reverend Wolfgang Kiswetter, The Reverend Melchior Weitmann The Reverend John Thall. The Reverend John Kilian. The Reverend Nicholas Faber. The Reverend Andrew Menser. And I, Egidius Mechler, have subscribed with my own hand.