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´╗┐Title: The Augsburg Confession - The confession of faith, which was submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V at the diet of Augsburg in the year 1530
Author: Melanchthon, Philipp, 1497-1560
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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     The Confession of Faith:
     Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V
     At the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530
     by Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560


Most Invincible Emperor, Caesar Augustus, Most Clement Lord: Inasmuch as
Your Imperial Majesty has summoned a Diet of the Empire here at Augsburg
to deliberate concerning measures against the Turk, that most atrocious,
hereditary, and ancient enemy of the Christian name and religion, in
what way, namely, effectually to withstand his furor and assaults
by strong and lasting military provision; and then also concerning
dissensions in the matter of our holy religion and Christian Faith, that
in this matter of religion the opinions and judgments of the parties
might be heard in each other's presence; and considered and weighed
among ourselves in mutual charity, leniency, and kindness, in order
that, after the removal and correction of such things as have been
treated and understood in a different manner in the writings on either
side, these matters may be settled and brought back to one simple truth
and Christian concord, that for the future one pure and true religion
may be embraced and maintained by us, that as we all are under one
Christ and do battle under Him, so we may be able also to live in unity
and concord in the one Christian Church.

And inasmuch as we, the undersigned Elector and Princes, with others
joined with us, have been called to the aforesaid Diet the same as the
other Electors, Princes, and Estates, in obedient compliance with the
Imperial mandate, we have promptly come to Augsburg, and--what we do not
mean to say as boasting--we were among the first to be here.

Accordingly, since even here at Augsburg at the very beginning of the
Diet, Your Imperial Majesty caused to be proposed to the Electors,
Princes, and other Estates of the Empire, amongst other things, that the
several Estates of the Empire, on the strength of the Imperial edict,
should set forth and submit their opinions and judgments in the German
and the Latin language, and since on the ensuing Wednesday, answer was
given to Your Imperial Majesty, after due deliberation, that we would
submit the Articles of our Confession for our side on next Wednesday,
therefore, in obedience to Your Imperial Majesty's wishes, we offer,
in this matter of religion, the Confession of our preachers and of
ourselves, showing what manner of doctrine from the Holy Scriptures and
the pure Word of God has been up to this time set forth in our lands,
dukedoms, dominions, and cities, and taught in our churches.

And if the other Electors, Princes, and Estates of the Empire will,
according to the said Imperial proposition, present similar writings,
to wit, in Latin and German, giving their opinions in this matter of
religion, we, with the Princes and friends aforesaid, here before Your
Imperial Majesty, our most clement Lord are prepared to confer amicably
concerning all possible ways and means, in order that we may come
together, as far as this may be honorably done, and, the matter between
us on both sides being peacefully discussed without offensive strife,
the dissension, by God's help, may be done away and brought back to
one true accordant religion; for as we all are under one Christ and do
battle under Him, we ought to confess the one Christ, after the tenor
of Your Imperial Majesty's edict, and everything ought to be conducted
according to the truth of God; and this it is what, with most fervent
prayers, we entreat of God.

However, as regards the rest of the Electors, Princes, and Estates,
who constitute the other part, if no progress should be made, nor some
result be attained by this treatment of the cause of religion after the
manner in which Your Imperial Majesty has wisely held that it should be
dealt with and treated namely, by such mutual presentation of writings
and calm conferring together among ourselves, we at least leave with
you a clear testimony, that we here in no wise are holding back from
anything that could bring about Christian concord,--such as could be
effected with God and a good conscience,--as also Your Imperial Majesty
and, next, the other Electors and Estates of the Empire, and all who
are moved by sincere love and zeal for religion, and who will give an
impartial hearing to this matter, will graciously deign to take
notice and to understand this from this Confession of ours and of our

Your Imperial Majesty also, not only once but often, graciously
signified to the Electors Princes, and Estates of the Empire, and at the
Diet of Spires held A. D. 1526, according to the form of Your Imperial
instruction and commission given and prescribed, caused it to be stated
and publicly proclaimed that Your Majesty, in dealing with this matter
of religion, for certain reasons which were alleged in Your Majesty's
name, was not willing to decide and could not determine anything, but
that Your Majesty would diligently use Your Majesty's office with the
Roman Pontiff for the convening of a General Council. The same matter
was thus publicly set forth at greater length a year ago at the last
Diet which met at Spires. There Your Imperial Majesty, through His
Highness Ferdinand, King of Bohemia and Hungary, our friend and clement
Lord, as well as through the Orator and Imperial Commissioners caused
this, among other things, to be submitted: that Your Imperial Majesty
had taken notice of; and pondered, the resolution of Your Majesty's
Representative in the Empire, and of the President and Imperial
Counselors, and the Legates from other Estates convened at Ratisbon,
concerning the calling of a Council, and that your Imperial Majesty also
judged it to be expedient to convene a Council; and that Your Imperial
Majesty did not doubt the Roman Pontiff could be induced to hold
a General Council, because the matters to be adjusted between Your
Imperial Majesty and the Roman Pontiff were nearing agreement and
Christian reconciliation; therefore Your Imperial Majesty himself
signified that he would endeavor to secure the said Chief Pontiff's
consent for convening, together with your Imperial Majesty such General
Council, to be published as soon as possible by letters that were to be
sent out.

If the outcome, therefore, should be such that the differences between
us and the other parties in the matter of religion should not be
amicably and in charity settled, then here, before Your Imperial Majesty
we make the offer in all obedience, in addition to what we have already
done, that we will all appear and defend our cause in such a general,
free Christian Council, for the convening of which there has always been
accordant action and agreement of votes in all the Imperial Diets held
during Your Majesty's reign, on the part of the Electors, Princes, and
other Estates of the Empire. To the assembly of this General Council,
and at the same time to Your Imperial Majesty, we have, even before
this, in due manner and form of law, addressed ourselves and made appeal
in this matter, by far the greatest and gravest. To this appeal, both to
Your Imperial Majesty and to a Council, we still adhere; neither do we
intend nor would it be possible for us, to relinquish it by this or
any other document, unless the matter between us and the other side,
according to the tenor of the latest Imperial citation should be
amicably and charitably settled, allayed, and brought to Christian
concord; and regarding this we even here solemnly and publicly testify.

Article I: Of God.

Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the
Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and
concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any
doubting; that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called
and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite
power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things,
visible and invisible; and yet there are three Persons, of the same
essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father the Son, and the
Holy Ghost. And the term "person" they use as the Fathers have used it,
to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of

They condemn all heresies which have sprung up against this article,
as the Manichaeans, who assumed two principles, one Good and the other
Evil--also the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mohammedans, and all
such. They condemn also the Samosatenes, old and new, who, contending
that there is but one Person, sophistically and impiously argue that
the Word and the Holy Ghost are not distinct Persons, but that "Word"
signifies a spoken word, and "Spirit" signifies motion created in

Article II: Of Original Sin.

Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the
natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without
trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice
of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death
upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

They Condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity
is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits,
argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and

Article III: Of the Son of God.

Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the
human nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there
are two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably enjoined in one
Person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin
Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, that He might
reconcile the Father unto us, and be a sacrifice, not only for original
guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.

He also descended into hell, and truly rose again the third day;
afterward He ascended into heaven that He might sit on the right hand of
the Father, and forever reign and have dominion over all creatures, and
sanctify them that believe in Him, by sending the Holy Ghost into their
hearts, to rule, comfort, and quicken them, and to defend them against
the devil and the power of sin.

The same Christ shall openly come again to judge the quick and the dead,
etc., according to the Apostles' Creed.

Article IV: Of Justification.

Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own
strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake,
through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and
that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has
made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness
in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.

Article V: Of the Ministry.

That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and
administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and
Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works
faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel, to
wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ's sake, justifies
those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake.

They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost
comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations
and works.

Article VI: Of New Obedience.

Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and
that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God's
will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification
before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by
faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all
these things, say: We are unprofitable servants. Luke 17, 10. The same
is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God
that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of
sins, without works, by faith alone.

Article VII: Of the Church.

Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church
is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and
the Sacraments are rightly administered.

And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the
doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor
is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies,
instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. As Paul says: One faith,
one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4, 5. 6.

Article VIII: What the Church Is.

Although the Church properly is the congregation of saints and true
believers, nevertheless, since in this life many hypocrites and
evil persons are mingled therewith, it is lawful to use Sacraments
administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ: The
Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, etc. Matt. 23, 2. Both
the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the institution and
commandment of Christ, notwithstanding they be administered by evil men.

They condemn the Donatists, and such like, who denied it to be lawful to
use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and who thought the ministry
of evil men to be unprofitable and of none effect.

Article IX: Of Baptism.

Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that
through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to
be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into
God's grace.

They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and
say that children are saved without Baptism.

Article X: Of the Lord's Supper.

Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the Body and Blood of Christ
are truly present, and are distributed to those who eat the Supper of
the Lord; and they reject those that teach otherwise.

Article XI: Of Confession.

Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in
the churches, although in confession an enumeration of all sins is
not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: Who can
understand his errors? Ps. 19, 12.

Article XII: Of Repentance.

Of Repentance they teach that for those who have fallen after Baptism
there is remission of sins whenever they are converted and that the
Church ought to impart absolution to those thus returning to repentance.
Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition,
that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin;
the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution,
and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the
conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to
follow, which are the fruits of repentance.

They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can
lose the Holy Ghost. Also those who contend that some may attain to such
perfection in this life that they cannot sin.

The Novatians also are condemned, who would not absolve such as had
fallen after Baptism, though they returned to repentance.

They also are rejected who do not teach that remission of sins comes
through faith but command us to merit grace through satisfactions of our

Article XIII: Of the Use of the Sacraments.

Of the Use of the Sacraments they teach that the Sacraments were
ordained, not only to be marks of profession among men, but rather to be
signs and testimonies of the will of God toward us, instituted to awaken
and confirm faith in those who use them. Wherefore we must so use the
Sacraments that faith be added to believe the promises which are offered
and set forth through the Sacraments.

They therefore condemn those who teach that the Sacraments justify
by the outward act, and who do not teach that, in the use of the
Sacraments, faith which believes that sins are forgiven, is required.

Article XIV: Of Ecclesiastical Order.

Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in
the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.

Article XV: Of Ecclesiastical Usages.

Of Usages in the Church they teach that those ought to be observed which
may be observed without sin, and which are profitable unto tranquillity
and good order in the Church, as particular holy-days, festivals, and
the like.

Nevertheless, concerning such things men are admonished that consciences
are not to be burdened, as though such observance was necessary to

They are admonished also that human traditions instituted to propitiate
God, to merit grace, and to make satisfaction for sins, are opposed
to the Gospel and the doctrine of faith. Wherefore vows and traditions
concerning meats and days, etc., instituted to merit grace and to make
satisfaction for sins, are useless and contrary to the Gospel.

Article XVI: Of Civil Affairs.

Of Civil Affairs they teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works
of God, and that it is right for Christians to bear civil office, to sit
as judges, to judge matters by the Imperial and other existing laws, to
award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers,
to make legal contracts, to hold property, to make oath when required by
the magistrates, to marry a wife, to be given in marriage.

They condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these civil offices to

They condemn also those who do not place evangelical perfection in the
fear of God and in faith, but in forsaking civil offices, for the Gospel
teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart. Meanwhile, it does not
destroy the State or the family, but very much requires that they be
preserved as ordinances of God, and that charity be practiced in such
ordinances. Therefore, Christians are necessarily bound to obey their
own magistrates and laws save only when commanded to sin; for then they
ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5, 29.

Article XVII: Of Christ's Return to Judgment.

Also they teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear
for judgment and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly
and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the
devils He will condemn to be tormented without end.

They condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the
punishments of condemned men and devils.

They condemn also others who are now spreading certain Jewish opinions,
that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession
of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly being everywhere suppressed.

Article XVIII: Of Free Will.

Of Free Will they teach that man's will has some liberty to choose
civil righteousness, and to work things subject to reason. But it has
no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that
is, spiritual righteousness; since the natural man receiveth not the
things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2,14; but this righteousness is
wrought in the heart when the Holy Ghost is received through the
Word. These things are said in as many words by Augustine in his
Hypognosticon, Book III: We grant that all men have a free will, free,
inasmuch as it has the judgment of reason; not that it is thereby
capable, without God, either to begin, or, at least, to complete aught
in things pertaining to God, but only in works of this life, whether
good or evil. "Good" I call those works which spring from the good in
nature, such as, willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to
have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to
raise cattle, to learn divers useful arts, or whatsoever good pertains
to this life. For all of these things are not without dependence on the
providence of God; yea, of Him and through Him they are and have their
being. "Evil" I call such works as willing to worship an idol, to commit
murder, etc.

They condemn the Pelagians and others, who teach that without the Holy
Ghost, by the power of nature alone, we are able to love God above all
things; also to do the commandments of God as touching "the substance
of the act." For, although nature is able in a manner to do the outward
work, (for it is able to keep the hands from theft and murder,) yet it
cannot produce the inward motions, such as the fear of God, trust in
God, chastity, patience, etc.

Article XIX: Of the Cause of Sin.

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

Article XX: Of Good Works.

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

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

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

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

And lest any one should craftily say that a new interpretation of
Paul has been devised by us, this entire matter is supported by the
testimonies of the Fathers. For Augustine, in many volumes, defends
grace and the righteousness of faith, over against the merits of works.
And Ambrose, in his De Vocatione Gentium, and elsewhere, teaches to like
effect. For in his De Vocatione Gentium he says as follows: Redemption
by the blood of Christ would become of little value, neither would
the preeminence of man's works be superseded by the mercy of God, if
justification, which is wrought through grace, were due to the merits
going before, so as to be, not the free gift of a donor, but the reward
due to the laborer.

But, although this doctrine is despised by the inexperienced,
nevertheless God-fearing and anxious consciences find by experience that
it brings the greatest consolation, because consciences cannot be set
at rest through any works, but only by faith, when they take the sure
ground that for Christ's sake they have a reconciled God. As Paul
teaches Rom. 5, 1: Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.
This whole doctrine is to be referred to that conflict of the terrified
conscience, neither can it be understood apart from that conflict.
Therefore inexperienced and profane men judge ill concerning this
matter, who dream that Christian righteousness is nothing but civil and
philosophical righteousness.

Heretofore consciences were plagued with the doctrine of works, they did
not hear the consolation from the Gospel. Some persons were driven by
conscience into the desert, into monasteries hoping there to merit grace
by a monastic life. Some also devised other works whereby to merit grace
and make satisfaction for sins. Hence there was very great need to treat
of, and renew, this doctrine of faith in Christ, to the end that anxious
consciences should not be without consolation but that they might know
that grace and forgiveness of sins and justification are apprehended by
faith in Christ.

Men are also admonished that here the term "faith" does not signify
merely the knowledge of the history, such as is in the ungodly and in
the devil, but signifies a faith which believes, not merely the
history, but also the effect of the history--namely, this Article: the
forgiveness of sins, to wit, that we have grace, righteousness, and
forgiveness of sins through Christ.

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

Furthermore, it is taught on our part that it is necessary to do good
works, not that we should trust to merit grace by them, but because
it is the will of God. It is only by faith that forgiveness of sins is
apprehended, and that, for nothing. And because through faith the Holy
Ghost is received, hearts are renewed and endowed with new affections,
so as to be able to bring forth good works. For Ambrose says: Faith is
the mother of a good will and right doing. For man's powers without the
Holy Ghost are full of ungodly affections, and are too weak to do works
which are good in God's sight. Besides, they are in the power of the
devil who impels men to divers sins, to ungodly opinions, to open
crimes. This we may see in the philosophers, who, although they
endeavored to live an honest life could not succeed, but were defiled
with many open crimes. Such is the feebleness of man when he is without
faith and without the Holy Ghost, and governs himself only by human

Hence it may be readily seen that this doctrine is not to be charged
with prohibiting good works, but rather the more to be commended,
because it shows how we are enabled to do good works. For without faith
human nature can in no wise do the works of the First or of the Second
Commandment. Without faith it does not call upon God, nor expect
anything from God, nor bear the cross, but seeks, and trusts in, man's
help. And thus, when there is no faith and trust in God all manner of
lusts and human devices rule in the heart. Wherefore Christ said, John
16,6: Without Me ye can do nothing; and the Church sings:

     Lacking Thy divine favor,
     There is nothing found in man,
     Naught in him is harmless.

Article XXI: Of the Worship of the Saints.

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

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


Inasmuch, then, as our churches dissent in no article of the faith from
the Church Catholic, but only omit some abuses which are new, and which
have been erroneously accepted by the corruption of the times, contrary
to the intent of the Canons, we pray that Your Imperial Majesty would
graciously hear both what has been changed, and what were the reasons
why the people were not compelled to observe those abuses against their
conscience. Nor should Your Imperial Majesty believe those who, in
order to excite the hatred of men against our part, disseminate strange
slanders among the people. Having thus excited the minds of good men,
they have first given occasion to this controversy, and now endeavor, by
the same arts, to increase the discord. For Your Imperial Majesty will
undoubtedly find that the form of doctrine and of ceremonies with us
is not so intolerable as these ungodly and malicious men represent.
Besides, the truth cannot be gathered from common rumors or the
revilings of enemies. But it can readily be judged that nothing would
serve better to maintain the dignity of ceremonies, and to nourish
reverence and pious devotion among the people than if the ceremonies
were observed rightly in the churches.

Article XXII: Of Both Kinds in the Sacrament.

To the laity are given Both Kinds in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper,
because this usage has the commandment of the Lord in Matt. 26, 27:
Drink ye all of it, where Christ has manifestly commanded concerning the
cup that all should drink.

And lest any man should craftily say that this refers only to priests,
Paul in 1 Cor. 11,27 recites an example from which it appears that the
whole congregation did use both kinds. And this usage has long remained
in the Church, nor is it known when, or by whose authority, it was
changed; although Cardinal Cusanus mentions the time when it was
approved. Cyprian in some places testifies that the blood was given
to the people. The same is testified by Jerome, who says: The priests
administer the Eucharist, and distribute the blood of Christ to the
people. Indeed, Pope Gelasius commands that the Sacrament be not divided
(dist. II., De Consecratione, cap. Comperimus). Only custom, not so
ancient, has it otherwise. But it is evident that any custom introduced
against the commandments of God is not to be allowed, as the Canons
witness (dist. III., cap. Veritate, and the following chapters). But
this custom has been received, not only against the Scripture, but also
against the old Canons and the example of the Church. Therefore, if any
preferred to use both kinds of the Sacrament, they ought not to have
been compelled with offense to their consciences to do otherwise. And
because the division of the Sacrament does not agree with the ordinance
of Christ, we are accustomed to omit the procession, which hitherto has
been in use.

Article XXIII: Of the Marriage of Priests.

There has been common complaint concerning the examples of priests who
were not chaste. For that reason also Pope Pius is reported to have said
that there were certain causes why marriage was taken away from priests,
but that there were far weightier ones why it ought to be given back;
for so Platina writes. Since, therefore, our priests were desirous to
avoid these open scandals, they married wives, and taught that it was
lawful for them to contract matrimony. First, because Paul says, 1 Cor.
7, 2. 9: To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife. Also: It
is better to marry than to burn. Secondly Christ says, Matt. 19,11: All
men cannot receive this saying, where He teaches that not all men are
fit to lead a single life; for God created man for procreation, Gen. 1,
28. Nor is it in man's power, without a singular gift and work of God,
to alter this creation. [For it is manifest, and many have confessed
that no good, honest, chaste life, no Christian, sincere, upright
conduct has resulted (from the attempt), but a horrible, fearful
unrest and torment of conscience has been felt by many until the end.]
Therefore, those who are not fit to lead a single life ought to contract
matrimony. For no man's law, no vow, can annul the commandment and
ordinance of God. For these reasons the priests teach that it is lawful
for them to marry wives.

It is also evident that in the ancient Church priests were married men.
For Paul says, 1 Tim. 3, 2, that a bishop should be chosen who is the
husband of one wife. And in Germany, four hundred years ago for the
first time, the priests were violently compelled to lead a single life,
who indeed offered such resistance that the Archbishop of Mayence, when
about to publish the Pope's decree concerning this matter, was almost
killed in the tumult raised by the enraged priests. And so harsh was
the dealing in the matter that not only were marriages forbidden for the
future, but also existing marriages were torn asunder, contrary to all
laws, divine and human, contrary even to the Canons themselves, made
not only by the Popes, but by most celebrated Synods. [Moreover, many
God-fearing and intelligent people in high station are known frequently
to have expressed misgivings that such enforced celibacy and depriving
men of marriage (which God Himself has instituted and left free to men)
has never produced any good results, but has brought on many great and
evil vices and much iniquity.]

Seeing also that, as the world is aging, man's nature is gradually
growing weaker, it is well to guard that no more vices steal into

Furthermore, God ordained marriage to be a help against human infirmity.
The Canons themselves say that the old rigor ought now and then, in the
latter times, to be relaxed because of the weakness of men; which it
is to be wished were done also in this matter. And it is to be expected
that the churches shall at some time lack pastors if marriage is any
longer forbidden.

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

But as no law of man can annul the commandment of God, so neither can it
be done by any vow. Accordingly, Cyprian also advises that women who
do not keep the chastity they have promised should marry. His words
are these (Book I, Epistle XI ): But if they be unwilling or unable to
persevere, it is better for them to marry than to fall into the fire by
their lusts; they should certainly give no offense to their brethren and

And even the Canons show some leniency toward those who have taken vows
before the proper age, as heretofore has generally been the ease.

Article XXIV: Of the Mass.

Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is
retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly
all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in
Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been
added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone
that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ]. And not
only has Paul commanded to use in the church a language understood by
the people 1 Cor. 14,2. 9, but it has also been so ordained by man's
law. The people are accustomed to partake of the Sacrament together, if
any be fit for it, and this also increases the reverence and devotion of
public worship. For none are admitted except they be first examined. The
people are also advised concerning the dignity and use of the Sacrament,
how great consolation it brings anxious consciences, that they may learn
to believe God, and to expect and ask of Him all that is good. [In this
connection they are also instructed regarding other and false teachings
on the Sacrament.] This worship pleases God; such use of the Sacrament
nourishes true devotion toward God. It does not, therefore, appear that
the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries than among

But it is evident that for a long time this also has been the public
and most grievous complaint of all good men that Masses have been basely
profaned and applied to purposes of lucre. For it is not unknown how far
this abuse obtains in all the churches by what manner of men Masses are
said only for fees or stipends, and how many celebrate them contrary to
the Canons. But Paul severely threatens those who deal unworthily with
the Eucharist when he says, 1 Cor.11,27: Whosoever shall eat this bread,
and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the
body and blood of the Lord. When, therefore our priests were admonished
concerning this sin, Private Masses were discontinued among us, as
scarcely any Private Masses were celebrated except for lucre's sake.

Neither were the bishops ignorant of these abuses, and if they had
corrected them in time, there would now be less dissension. Heretofore,
by their own connivance, they suffered many corruptions to creep into
the Church. Now, when it is too late, they begin to complain of the
troubles of the Church, while this disturbance has been occasioned
simply by those abuses which were so manifest that they could be borne
no longer. There have been great dissensions concerning the Mass,
concerning the Sacrament. Perhaps the world is being punished for such
long-continued profanations of the Mass as have been tolerated in the
churches for so many centuries by the very men who were both able and in
duty bound to correct them. For in the Ten Commandments it is written,
Ex. 20, 7: The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in
vain. But since the world began, nothing that God ever ordained seems to
have been so abused for filthy lucre as the Mass.

There was also added the opinion which infinitely increased Private
Masses, namely that Christ, by His passion, had made satisfaction for
original sin, and instituted the Mass wherein an offering should be
made for daily sins, venial and mortal. From this has arisen the common
opinion that the Mass takes away the sins of the living and the dead by
the outward act. Then they began to dispute whether one Mass said for
many were worth as much as special Masses for individuals, and this
brought forth that infinite multitude of Masses. [With this work men
wished to obtain from God all that they needed, and in the mean time
faith in Christ and the true worship were forgotten.]

Concerning these opinions our teachers have given warning that they
depart from the Holy Scriptures and diminish the glory of the passion of
Christ. For Christ's passion was an oblation and satisfaction, not for
original guilt only, but also for all other sins, as it is written to
the Hebrews, 10, 10: We are sanctified through the offering of Jesus
Christ once for all. Also, 10, 14: By one offering He hath perfected
forever them that are sanctified. [It is an unheard-of innovation in
the Church to teach that Christ by His death made satisfaction only for
original sin and not likewise for all other sin. Accordingly it is hoped
that everybody will understand that this error has not been reproved
without due reason.]

Scripture also teaches that we are justified before God through faith
in Christ, when we believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ's sake.
Now if the Mass take away the sins of the living and the dead by the
outward act justification comes of the work of Masses, and not of faith,
which Scripture does not allow.

But Christ commands us, Luke 22, 19: This do in remembrance of Me;
therefore the Mass was instituted that the faith of those who use the
Sacrament should remember what benefits it receives through Christ, and
cheer and comfort the anxious conscience. For to remember Christ is to
remember His benefits, and to realize that they are truly offered unto
us. Nor is it enough only to remember the history; for this also the
Jews and the ungodly can remember. Wherefore the Mass is to be used to
this end, that there the Sacrament [Communion] may be administered to
them that have need of consolation; as Ambrose says: Because I always
sin, I am always bound to take the medicine. [Therefore this Sacrament
requires faith, and is used in vain without faith.]

Now, forasmuch as the Mass is such a giving of the Sacrament, we hold
one communion every holy-day, and, if any desire the Sacrament, also on
other days, when it is given to such as ask for it. And this custom is
not new in the Church; for the Fathers before Gregory make no mention of
any private Mass, but of the common Mass [the Communion] they speak
very much. Chrysostom says that the priest stands daily at the altar,
inviting some to the Communion and keeping back others. And it appears
from the ancient Canons that some one celebrated the Mass from whom all
the other presbyters and deacons received the body of the Lord; for thus
the words of the Nicene Canon say: Let the deacons, according to their
order, receive the Holy Communion after the presbyters, from the bishop
or from a presbyter. And Paul, 1 Cor. 11, 33, commands concerning
the Communion: Tarry one for another, so that there may be a common

Forasmuch, therefore, as the Mass with us has the example of the Church,
taken from the Scripture and the Fathers, we are confident that it
cannot be disapproved, especially since public ceremonies, for the most
part like those hitherto in use, are retained; only the number of Masses
differs, which, because of very great and manifest abuses doubtless
might be profitably reduced. For in olden times, even in churches most
frequented, the Mass was not celebrated every day, as the Tripartite
History (Book 9, chap. 33) testifies: Again in Alexandria, every
Wednesday and Friday the Scriptures are read, and the doctors expound
them, and all things are done, except the solemn rite of Communion.

Article XXV: Of Confession.

Confession in the churches is not abolished among us; for it is not
usual to give the body of the Lord, except to them that have been
previously examined and absolved. And the people are most carefully
taught concerning faith in the absolution, about which formerly there
was profound silence. Our people are taught that they should highly
prize the absolution, as being the voice of God, and pronounced by God's
command. The power of the Keys is set forth in its beauty and they are
reminded what great consolation it brings to anxious consciences, also,
that God requires faith to believe such absolution as a voice sounding
from heaven, and that such faith in Christ truly obtains and receives
the forgiveness of sins. Aforetime satisfactions were immoderately
extolled; of faith and the merit of Christ and the righteousness of
faith no mention was made; wherefore, on this point, our churches are by
no means to be blamed. For this even our adversaries must needs concede
to us that the doctrine concerning repentance has been most diligently
treated and laid open by our teachers.

But of Confession they teach that an enumeration of sins is not
necessary, and that consciences be not burdened with anxiety to
enumerate all sins, for it is impossible to recount all sins, as the
Psalm testifies, 19,13: Who can understand his errors? Also Jeremiah,
17 9: The heart is deceitful; who can know it; But if no sins were
forgiven, except those that are recounted, consciences could never find
peace; for very many sins they neither see nor can remember. The ancient
writers also testify that an enumeration is not necessary. For in the
Decrees, Chrysostom is quoted, who says thus: I say not to you that you
should disclose yourself in public, nor that you accuse yourself before
others, but I would have you obey the prophet who says: "Disclose thy
self before God." Therefore confess your sins before God, the true
Judge, with prayer. Tell your errors, not with the tongue, but with the
memory of your conscience, etc. And the Gloss (Of Repentance, Distinct.
V, Cap. Consideret) admits that Confession is of human right only [not
commanded by Scripture, but ordained by the Church]. Nevertheless, on
account of the great benefit of absolution, and because it is otherwise
useful to the conscience, Confession is retained among us.

Article XXVI: Of the Distinction of Meats.

It has been the general persuasion, not of the people alone, but also of
those teaching in the churches, that making Distinctions of Meats, and
like traditions of men, are works profitable to merit grace, and able to
make satisfactions for sins. And that the world so thought, appears from
this, that new ceremonies, new orders, new holy-days, and new fastings
were daily instituted, and the teachers in the churches did exact these
works as a service necessary to merit grace, and did greatly terrify
men's consciences, if they should omit any of these things. From this
persuasion concerning traditions much detriment has resulted in the

First, the doctrine of grace and of the righteousness of faith has been
obscured by it, which is the chief part of the Gospel, and ought to
stand out as the most prominent in the Church, in order that the merit
of Christ may be well known, and faith, which believes that sins are
forgiven for Christ's sake be exalted far above works. Wherefore Paul
also lays the greatest stress on this article, putting aside the Law
and human traditions, in order to show that Christian righteousness is
something else than such works, to wit, the faith which believes that
sins are freely forgiven for Christ's sake. But this doctrine of Paul
has been almost wholly smothered by traditions, which have produced an
opinion that, by making distinctions in meats and like services, we must
merit grace and righteousness. In treating of repentance, there was no
mention made of faith; only those works of satisfaction were set forth;
in these the entire repentance seemed to consist.

Secondly, these traditions have obscured the commandments of God,
because traditions were placed far above the commandments of God.
Christianity was thought to consist wholly in the observance of certain
holy-days, rites, fasts, and vestures. These observances had won for
themselves the exalted title of being the spiritual life and the
perfect life. Meanwhile the commandments of God, according to each
one's calling, were without honor namely, that the father brought up his
offspring, that the mother bore children, that the prince governed
the commonwealth,--these were accounted works that were worldly and
imperfect, and far below those glittering observances. And this error
greatly tormented devout consciences, which grieved that they were
held in an imperfect state of life, as in marriage, in the office of
magistrate; or in other civil ministrations; on the other hand,
they admired the monks and such like, and falsely imagined that the
observances of such men were more acceptable to God.

Thirdly, traditions brought great danger to consciences; for it was
impossible to keep all traditions, and yet men judged these observances
to be necessary acts of worship. Gerson writes that many fell into
despair, and that some even took their own lives, because they felt that
they were not able to satisfy the traditions, and they had all the while
not heard any consolation of the righteousness of faith and grace. We
see that the summists and theologians gather the traditions, and
seek mitigations whereby to ease consciences, and yet they do not
sufficiently unfetter, but sometimes entangle, consciences even more.
And with the gathering of these traditions, the schools and sermons
have been so much occupied that they have had no leisure to touch upon
Scripture, and to seek the more profitable doctrine of faith, of the
cross, of hope, of the dignity of civil affairs of consolation of
sorely tried consciences. Hence Gerson and some other theologians have
grievously complained that by these strivings concerning traditions
they were prevented from giving attention to a better kind of doctrine.
Augustine also forbids that men's consciences should be burdened with
such observances, and prudently advises Januarius that he must know that
they are to be observed as things indifferent; for such are his words.

Wherefore our teachers must not be looked upon as having taken up this
matter rashly or from hatred of the bishops, as some falsely suspect.
There was great need to warn the churches of these errors, which had
arisen from misunderstanding the traditions. For the Gospel compels
us to insist in the churches upon the doctrine of grace, and of the
righteousness of faith; which, however, cannot be understood, if men
think that they merit grace by observances of their own choice.

Thus, therefore, they have taught that by the observance of human
traditions we cannot merit grace or be justified, and hence we must
not think such observances necessary acts of worship. They add hereunto
testimonies of Scripture. Christ, Matt. 15, 3, defends the Apostles who
had not observed the usual tradition, which, however, evidently pertains
to a matter not unlawful, but indifferent, and to have a certain
affinity with the purifications of the Law, and says, 9: In vain do they
worship Me with the commandments of men. He, therefore, does not exact
an unprofitable service. Shortly after He adds: Not that which goeth
into the mouth defileth a man. So also Paul, Rom. 14, 17: The kingdom of
God is not meat and drink. Col. 2, 16: Let no man, therefore, judge
you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the
Sabbath-day; also: If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the
world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances:
Touch not, taste not, handle not! And Peter says, Acts 15, 10: Why tempt
ye God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our
fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace
of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Here Peter
forbids to burden the consciences with many rites, either of Moses or
of others. And in 1 Tim. 4,1.3 Paul calls the prohibition of meats a
doctrine of devils; for it is against the Gospel to institute or to do
such works that by them we may merit grace, or as though Christianity
could not exist without such service of God.

Here our adversaries object that our teachers are opposed to discipline
and mortification of the flesh, as Jovinian. But the contrary may be
learned from the writings of our teachers. For they have always taught
concerning the cross that it behooves Christians to bear afflictions.
This is the true, earnest, and unfeigned mortification, to wit, to be
exercised with divers afflictions, and to be crucified with Christ.

Moreover, they teach that every Christian ought to train and subdue
himself with bodily restraints, or bodily exercises and labors that
neither satiety nor slothfulness tempt him to sin, but not that we may
merit grace or make satisfaction for sins by such exercises. And such
external discipline ought to be urged at all times, not only on a few
and set days. So Christ commands, Luke 21, 34: Take heed lest your
hearts be overcharged with surfeiting; also Matt. 17, 21: This kind
goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Paul also says, 1 Cor. 9, 27:
I keep under my body and bring it into subjection. Here he clearly shows
that he was keeping under his body, not to merit forgiveness of sins
by that discipline, but to have his body in subjection and fitted
for spiritual things, and for the discharge of duty according to
his calling. Therefore, we do not condemn fasting in itself, but the
traditions which prescribe certain days and certain meats, with peril of
conscience, as though such works were a necessary service.

Nevertheless, very many traditions are kept on our part, which conduce
to good order in the Church, as the Order of Lessons in the Mass and
the chief holy-days. But, at the same time, men are warned that such
observances do not justify before God, and that in such things it should
not be made sin if they be omitted without offense. Such liberty in
human rites was not unknown to the Fathers. For in the East they kept
Easter at another time than at Rome, and when, on account of this
diversity, the Romans accused the Eastern Church of schism, they were
admonished by others that such usages need not be alike everywhere. And
Irenaeus says: Diversity concerning fasting does not destroy the
harmony of faith; as also Pope Gregory intimates in Dist. XII, that
such diversity does not violate the unity of the Church. And in the
Tripartite History, Book 9, many examples of dissimilar rites are
gathered, and the following statement is made: It was not the mind
of the Apostles to enact rules concerning holy-days, but to preach
godliness and a holy life [, to teach faith and love].

Article XXVII: Of Monastic Vows.

What is taught on our part concerning Monastic Vows, will be better
understood if it be remembered what has been the state of the
monasteries, and how many things were daily done in those very
monasteries, contrary to the Canons. In Augustine's time they were
free associations. Afterward, when discipline was corrupted, vows
were everywhere added for the purpose of restoring discipline, as in a
carefully planned prison.

Gradually, many other observances were added besides vows. And these
fetters were laid upon many before the lawful age, contrary to the

Many also entered into this kind of life through ignorance, being unable
to judge their own strength, though they were of sufficient age. Being
thus ensnared, they were compelled to remain, even though some could
have been freed by the kind provision of the Canons. And this was more
the case in convents of women than of monks, although more consideration
should have been shown the weaker sex. This rigor displeased many good
men before this time, who saw that young men and maidens were thrown
into convents for a living. They saw what unfortunate results came of
this procedure, and what scandals were created, what snares were cast
upon consciences! They were grieved that the authority of the Canons in
so momentous a matter was utterly set aside and despised. To these evils
was added such a persuasion concerning vows as, it is well known, in
former times displeased even those monks who were more considerate. They
taught that vows were equal to Baptism; they taught that by this kind of
life they merited forgiveness of sins and justification before God. Yea,
they added that the monastic life not only merited righteousness before
God but even greater things, because it kept not only the precepts, but
also the so-called "evangelical counsels."

Thus they made men believe that the profession of monasticism was far
better than Baptism, and that the monastic life was more meritorious
than that of magistrates, than the life of pastors, and such like,
who serve their calling in accordance with God's commands, without any
man-made services. None of these things can be denied; for they appear
in their own books. [Moreover, a person who has been thus ensnared and
has entered a monastery learns little of Christ.]

What, then, came to pass in the monasteries? Aforetime they were schools
of theology and other branches, profitable to the Church; and thence
pastors and bishops were obtained. Now it is another thing. It is
needless to rehearse what is known to all. Aforetime they came together
to learn; now they feign that it is a kind of life instituted to
merit grace and righteousness; yea, they preach that it is a state of
perfection, and they put it far above all other kinds of life ordained
of God. These things we have rehearsed without odious exaggeration, to
the end that the doctrine of our teachers on this point might be better

First, concerning such as contract matrimony, they teach on our part
that it is lawful for all men who are not fitted for single life
to contract matrimony, because vows cannot annul the ordinance and
commandment of God. But the commandment of God is 1 Cor. 7, 2: To avoid
fornication, let every man have his own wife. Nor is it the commandment
only, but also the creation and ordinance of God, which forces those to
marry who are not excepted by a singular work of God, according to the
text Gen. 2, 18: It is not good that the man should be alone. Therefore
they do not sin who obey this commandment and ordinance of God.

What objection can be raised to this? Let men extol the obligation of a
vow as much as they list, yet shall they not bring to pass that the vow
annuls the commandment of God. The Canons teach that the right of the
superior is excepted in every vow; [that vows are not binding against
the decision of the Pope;] much less, therefore, are these vows of force
which are against the commandments of God.

Now, if the obligation of vows could not be changed for any cause
whatever, the Roman Pontiffs could never have given dispensation for it
is not lawful for man to annul an obligation which is simply divine. But
the Roman Pontiffs have prudently judged that leniency is to be observed
in this obligation, and therefore we read that many times they have
dispensed from vows. The case of the King of Aragon who was called back
from the monastery is well known, and there are also examples in our own
times. [Now, if dispensations have been granted for the sake of securing
temporal interests, it is much more proper that they be granted on
account of the distress of souls.]

In the second place, why do our adversaries exaggerate the obligation or
effect of a vow when, at the same time, they have not a word to say of
the nature of the vow itself, that it ought to be in a thing possible,
that it ought to be free, and chosen spontaneously and deliberately? But
it is not unknown to what extent perpetual chastity is in the power
of man. And how few are there who have taken the vow spontaneously and
deliberately! Young maidens and men, before they are able to judge, are
persuaded, and sometimes even compelled, to take the vow. Wherefore
it is not fair to insist so rigorously on the obligation, since it is
granted by all that it is against the nature of a vow to take it without
spontaneous and deliberate action.

Most canonical laws rescind vows made before the age of fifteen; for
before that age there does not seem sufficient judgment in a person to
decide concerning a perpetual life. Another Canon, granting more to
the weakness of man, adds a few years; for it forbids a vow to be made
before the age of eighteen. But which of these two Canons shall we
follow? The most part have an excuse for leaving the monasteries,
because most of them have taken the vows before they reached these ages.

Finally, even though the violation of a vow might be censured, yet it
seems not forthwith to follow that the marriages of such persons must be
dissolved. For Augustine denies that they ought to be dissolved (XXVII.
Quaest. I, Cap. Nuptiarum), and his authority is not lightly to be
esteemed, although other men afterwards thought otherwise.

But although it appears that God's command concerning marriage delivers
very many from their vows, yet our teachers introduce also another
argument concerning vows to show that they are void. For every service
of God, ordained and chosen of men without the commandment of God to
merit justification and grace, is wicked, as Christ says Matt. 16, 9: In
vain do they worship Me with the commandments of men. And Paul
teaches everywhere that righteousness is not to be sought from our own
observances and acts of worship, devised by men, but that it comes by
faith to those who believe that they are received by God into grace for
Christ's sake.

But it is evident that monks have taught that services of man's making
satisfy for sins and merit grace and justification. What else is this
than to detract from the glory of Christ and to obscure and deny the
righteousness of faith? It follows, therefore, that the vows thus
commonly taken have been wicked services, and, consequently, are void.
For a wicked vow, taken against the commandment of God, is not valid;
for (as the Canon says) no vow ought to bind men to wickedness.

Paul says, Gal. 5, 4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever
of you are justified by the Law, ye are fallen from grace. To those,
therefore, who want to be justified by their vows Christ is made of
no effect, and they fall from grace. For also these who ascribe
justification to vows ascribe to their own works that which properly
belongs to the glory of Christ.

Nor can it be denied, indeed, that the monks have taught that, by their
vows and observances, they were justified, and merited forgiveness of
sins, yea, they invented still greater absurdities, saying that they
could give others a share in their works. If any one should be inclined
to enlarge on these things with evil intent, how many things could he
bring together whereof even the monks are now ashamed! Over and above
this, they persuaded men that services of man's making were a state of
Christian perfection. And is not this assigning justification to works?
It is no light offense in the Church to set forth to the people a
service devised by men, without the commandment of God, and to teach
that such service justifies men. For the righteousness of faith,
which chiefly ought to be taught in the Church, is obscured when
these wonderful angelic forms of worship, with their show of poverty,
humility, and celibacy, are east before the eyes of men.

Furthermore, the precepts of God and the true service of God are
obscured when men hear that only monks are in a state of perfection. For
Christian perfection is to fear God from the heart, and yet to conceive
great faith, and to trust that for Christ's sake we have a God who has
been reconciled, to ask of God, and assuredly to expect His aid in all
things that, according to our calling, are to be done; and meanwhile,
to be diligent in outward good works, and to serve our calling. In these
things consist the true perfection and the true service of God. It does
not consist in celibacy, or in begging, or in vile apparel. But the
people conceive many pernicious opinions from the false commendations of
monastic life. They hear celibacy praised above measure; therefore they
lead their married life with offense to their consciences. They hear
that only beggars are perfect; therefore they keep their possessions and
do business with offense to their consciences. They hear that it is an
evangelical counsel not to seek revenge; therefore some in private life
are not afraid to take revenge, for they hear that it is but a counsel,
and not a commandment. Others judge that the Christian cannot properly
hold a civil office or be a magistrate.

There are on record examples of men who, forsaking marriage and the
administration of the Commonwealth, have hid themselves in monasteries.
This they called fleeing from the world, and seeking a kind of life
which would be more pleasing to God. Neither did they see that God ought
to be served in those commandments which He Himself has given and not
in commandments devised by men. A good and perfect kind of life is that
which has for it the commandment of God. It is necessary to admonish men
of these things.

And before these times, Gerson rebukes this error of the monks
concerning perfection, and testifies that in his day it was a new saying
that the monastic life is a state of perfection.

So many wicked opinions are inherent in the vows, namely, that they
justify, that they constitute Christian perfection, that they keep the
counsels and commandments, that they have works of supererogation. All
these things, since they are false and empty, make vows null and void.

Article XXVIII: Of Ecclesiastical Power.

There has been great controversy concerning the Power of Bishops, in
which some have awkwardly confounded the power of the Church and the
power of the sword. And from this confusion very great wars and tumults
have resulted, while the Pontiffs, emboldened by the power of the Keys,
not only have instituted new services and burdened consciences with
reservation of cases and ruthless excommunications, but have also
undertaken to transfer the kingdoms of this world, and to take the
Empire from the Emperor. These wrongs have long since been rebuked in
the Church by learned and godly men. Therefore our teachers, for the
comforting of men's consciences, were constrained to show the difference
between the power of the Church and the power of the sword, and taught
that both of them, because of God's commandment, are to be held in
reverence and honor, as the chief blessings of God on earth.

But this is their opinion, that the power of the Keys, or the power of
the bishops, according to the Gospel, is a power or commandment of
God, to preach the Gospel, to remit and retain sins, and to administer
Sacraments. For with this commandment Christ sends forth His Apostles,
John 20, 21 sqq.: As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. Receive
ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto
them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained. Mark 16, 15: Go
preach the Gospel to every creature.

This power is exercised only by teaching or preaching the Gospel and
administering the Sacraments, according to their calling either to many
or to individuals. For thereby are granted, not bodily, but eternal
things, as eternal righteousness, the Holy Ghost, eternal life. These
things cannot come but by the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments,
as Paul says, Rom. 1, 16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation
to every one that believeth. Therefore, since the power of the Church
grants eternal things, and is exercised only by the ministry of the
Word, it does not interfere with civil government; no more than the art
of singing interferes with civil government. For civil government deals
with other things than does the Gospel. The civil rulers defend not
minds, but bodies and bodily things against manifest injuries, and
restrain men with the sword and bodily punishments in order to preserve
civil justice and peace.

Therefore the power of the Church and the civil power must not be
confounded. The power of the Church has its own commission to teach
the Gospel and to administer the Sacraments. Let it not break into the
office of another; Let it not transfer the kingdoms of this world; let
it not abrogate the laws of civil rulers; let it not abolish lawful
obedience; let it not interfere with judgments concerning civil
ordinances or contracts; let it not prescribe laws to civil rulers
concerning the form of the Commonwealth. As Christ says, John 18, 33: My
kingdom is not of this world; also Luke 12, 14: Who made Me a judge or
a divider over you? Paul also says, Phil. 3, 20: Our citizenship is in
heaven; 2 Cor. 10, 4: The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but
mighty through God to the casting down of imaginations.

After this manner our teachers discriminate between the duties of both
these powers, and command that both be honored and acknowledged as gifts
and blessings of God. If bishops have any power of the sword, that power
they have, not as bishops, by the commission of the Gospel, but by
human law having received it of kings and emperors for the civil
administration of what is theirs. This, however, is another office than
the ministry of the Gospel.

When, therefore, the question is concerning the jurisdiction of bishops,
civil authority must be distinguished from ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
Again, according to the Gospel or, as they say, by divine right, there
belongs to the bishops as bishops, that is, to those to whom has been
committed the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, no jurisdiction
except to forgive sins, to judge doctrine, to reject doctrines contrary
to the Gospel, and to exclude from the communion of the Church wicked
men, whose wickedness is known, and this without human force, simply by
the Word. Herein the congregations of necessity and by divine right must
obey them, according to Luke 10, 16: He that heareth you heareth Me.
But when they teach or ordain anything against the Gospel, then the
congregations have a commandment of God prohibiting obedience, Matt.
7, 15: Beware of false prophets; Gal. 1, 8: Though an angel from heaven
preach any other gospel, let him be accursed; 2 Cor. 13, 8: We can do
nothing against the truth, but for the truth. Also: The power which the
Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction. So, also, the
Canonical Laws command (II. Q. VII. Cap., Sacerdotes, and Cap. Oves).
And Augustine (Contra Petiliani Epistolam): Neither must we submit to
Catholic bishops if they chance to err, or hold anything contrary to the
Canonical Scriptures of God.

If they have any other power or jurisdiction, in hearing and judging
certain cases, as of matrimony or of tithes, etc., they have it by human
right, in which matters princes are bound, even against their will,
when the ordinaries fail, to dispense justice to their subjects for the
maintenance of peace.

Moreover, it is disputed whether bishops or pastors have the right to
introduce ceremonies in the Church, and to make laws concerning meats,
holy-days and grades, that is, orders of ministers, etc. They that give
this right to the bishops refer to this testimony John 16, 12. 13:
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into
all truth. They also refer to the example of the Apostles, who commanded
to abstain from blood and from things strangled, Acts 15, 29. They refer
to the Sabbath-day as having been changed into the Lord's Day, contrary
to the Decalog, as it seems. Neither is there any example whereof they
make more than concerning the changing of the Sabbath-day. Great, say
they, is the power of the Church, since it has dispensed with one of the
Ten Commandments!

But concerning this question it is taught on our part (as has been shown
above) that bishops have no power to decree anything against the Gospel.
The Canonical Laws teach the same thing (Dist. IX). Now, it is against
Scripture to establish or require the observance of any traditions, to
the end that by such observance we may make satisfaction for sins, or
merit grace and righteousness. For the glory of Christ's merit suffers
injury when, by such observances, we undertake to merit justification.
But it is manifest that, by such belief, traditions have almost
infinitely multiplied in the Church, the doctrine concerning faith and
the righteousness of faith being meanwhile suppressed. For gradually
more holy-days were made, fasts appointed, new ceremonies and services
in honor of saints instituted, because the authors of such things
thought that by these works they were meriting grace. Thus in times past
the Penitential Canons increased, whereof we still see some traces in
the satisfactions.

Again, the authors of traditions do contrary to the command of God when
they find matters of sin in foods, in days, and like things, and burden
the Church with bondage of the law, as if there ought to be among
Christians, in order to merit justification a service like the
Levitical, the arrangement of which God had committed to the Apostles
and bishops. For thus some of them write; and the Pontiffs in some
measure seem to be misled by the example of the law of Moses. Hence are
such burdens, as that they make it mortal sin, even without offense
to others, to do manual labor on holy-days, a mortal sin to omit the
Canonical Hours, that certain foods defile the conscience that fastings
are works which appease God that sin in a reserved case cannot be
forgiven but by the authority of him who reserved it; whereas the Canons
themselves speak only of the reserving of the ecclesiastical penalty,
and not of the reserving of the guilt.

Whence have the bishops the right to lay these traditions upon the
Church for the ensnaring of consciences, when Peter, Acts 15, 10,
forbids to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, and Paul says,
2 Cor. 13, 10, that the power given him was to edification not to
destruction? Why, therefore, do they increase sins by these traditions?

But there are clear testimonies which prohibit the making of such
traditions, as though they merited grace or were necessary to salvation.
Paul says, Col. 2, 16-23: Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or
in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath-days.
If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as
though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (touch not;
taste not; handle not, which all are to perish with the using) after the
commandments and doctrines of men! which things have indeed a show of
wisdom. Also in Titus 1, 14 he openly forbids traditions: Not giving
heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men that turn from the truth.

And Christ, Matt. 15, 14. 13, says of those who require traditions:
Let them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind; and He rejects such
services: Every plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted shall be
plucked up.

If bishops have the right to burden churches with infinite traditions,
and to ensnare consciences, why does Scripture so often prohibit to
make, and to listen to, traditions? Why does it call them "doctrines
of devils"? 1 Tim. 4, 1. Did the Holy Ghost in vain forewarn of these

Since, therefore, ordinances instituted as things necessary, or with an
opinion of meriting grace, are contrary to the Gospel, it follows that
it is not lawful for any bishop to institute or exact such services. For
it is necessary that the doctrine of Christian liberty be preserved in
the churches, namely, that the bondage of the Law is not necessary to
justification, as it is written in the Epistle to the Galatians, 5, 1:
Be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. It is necessary that
the chief article of the Gospel be preserved, to wit, that we obtain
grace freely by faith in Christ, and not for certain observances or acts
of worship devised by men.

What, then, are we to think of the Sunday and like rites in the house of
God? To this we answer that it is lawful for bishops or pastors to make
ordinances that things be done orderly in the Church, not that thereby
we should merit grace or make satisfaction for sins, or that consciences
be bound to judge them necessary services, and to think that it is a sin
to break them without offense to others. So Paul ordains, 1 Cor. 11, 5,
that women should cover their heads in the congregation, 1 Cor. 14, 30,
that interpreters be heard in order in the church, etc.

It is proper that the churches should keep such ordinances for the sake
of love and tranquillity, so far that one do not offend another, that
all things be done in the churches in order, and without confusion, 1
Cor. 14, 40; comp. Phil. 2, 14; but so that consciences be not burdened
to think that they are necessary to salvation, or to judge that they sin
when they break them without offense to others; as no one will say that
a woman sins who goes out in public with her head uncovered provided
only that no offense be given.

Of this kind is the observance of the Lord's Day, Easter, Pentecost, and
like holy-days and rites. For those who judge that by the authority of
the Church the observance of the Lord's Day instead of the Sabbath-day
was ordained as a thing necessary, do greatly err. Scripture has
abrogated the Sabbath-day; for it teaches that, since the Gospel has
been revealed, all the ceremonies of Moses can be omitted. And yet,
because it was necessary to appoint a certain day, that the people
might know when they ought to come together, it appears that the Church
designated the Lord's Day for this purpose; and this day seems to have
been chosen all the more for this additional reason, that men might have
an example of Christian liberty, and might know that the keeping neither
of the Sabbath nor of any other day is necessary. There are monstrous
disputations concerning the changing of the law, the ceremonies of the
new law, the changing of the Sabbath-day, which all have sprung from the
false belief that there must needs be in the Church a service like to
the Levitical, and that Christ had given commission to the Apostles and
bishops to devise new ceremonies as necessary to salvation. These errors
crept into the Church when the righteousness of faith was not taught
clearly enough. Some dispute that the keeping of the Lord's Day is not
indeed of divine right, but in a manner so. They prescribe concerning
holy-days, how far it is lawful to work. What else are such disputations
than snares of consciences? For although they endeavor to modify the
traditions, yet the mitigation can never be perceived as long as the
opinion remains that they are necessary, which must needs remain where
the righteousness of faith and Christian liberty are not known.

The Apostles commanded Acts 15, 20 to abstain from blood. Who does
now observe it? And yet they that do it not sin not; for not even the
Apostles themselves wanted to burden consciences with such bondage; but
they forbade it for a time, to avoid offense. For in this decree we must
perpetually consider what the aim of the Gospel is.

Scarcely any Canons are kept with exactness, and from day to day many
go out of use even among those who are the most zealous advocates of
traditions. Neither can due regard be paid to consciences unless this
mitigation be observed, that we know that the Canons are kept without
holding them to be necessary, and that no harm is done consciences, even
though traditions go out of use.

But the bishops might easily retain the lawful obedience of the people
if they would not insist upon the observance of such traditions as
cannot be kept with a good conscience. Now they command celibacy; they
admit none unless they swear that they will not teach the pure doctrine
of the Gospel. The churches do not ask that the bishops should restore
concord at the expense of their honor; which, nevertheless, it would
be proper for good pastors to do. They ask only that they would release
unjust burdens which are new and have been received contrary to the
custom of the Church Catholic. It may be that in the beginning there
were plausible reasons for some of these ordinances; and yet they are
not adapted to later times. It is also evident that some were adopted
through erroneous conceptions. Therefore it would be befitting
the clemency of the Pontiffs to mitigate them now, because such a
modification does not shake the unity of the Church. For many human
traditions have been changed in process of time, as the Canons
themselves show. But if it be impossible to obtain a mitigation of such
observances as cannot be kept without sin, we are bound to follow the
apostolic rule, Acts 5, 29, which commands us to obey God rather than

Peter, 1 Pet. 5, 3, forbids bishops to be lords, and to rule over the
churches. It is not our design now to wrest the government from the
bishops, but this one thing is asked, namely, that they allow the Gospel
to be purely taught, and that they relax some few observances which
cannot be kept without sin. But if they make no concession, it is for
them to see how they shall give account to God for furnishing, by their
obstinacy, a cause for schism.


These are the chief articles which seem to be in controversy. For
although we might have spoken of more abuses, yet, to avoid undue
length, we have set forth the chief points, from which the rest may be
readily judged. There have been great complaints concerning indulgences,
pilgrimages, and the abuse of excommunications. The parishes have been
vexed in many ways by the dealers in indulgences. There were endless
contentions between the pastors and the monks concerning the parochial
right, confessions, burials, sermons on extraordinary occasions, and
innumerable other things. Issues of this sort we have passed over so
that the chief points in this matter, having been briefly set forth,
might be the more readily understood. Nor has anything been here said
or adduced to the reproach of any one. Only those things have been
recounted whereof we thought that it was necessary to speak, in order
that it might be understood that in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has
been received on our part against Scripture or the Church Catholic. For
it is manifest that we have taken most diligent care that no new and
ungodly doctrine should creep into our churches.

The above articles we desire to present in accordance with the edict of
Your Imperial Majesty, in order to exhibit our Confession and let men
see a summary of the doctrine of our teachers. If there is anything that
any one might desire in this Confession, we are ready, God willing, to
present ampler information according to the Scriptures.

Your Imperial Majesty's faithful subjects:

     John, Duke of Saxony, Elector.
     George, Margrave of Brandenburg.
     Ernest, Duke of Lueneberg.
     Philip, Landgrave of Hesse.
     John Frederick, Duke of Saxony.
     Francis, Duke of Lueneburg.
     Wolfgang, Prince of Anhalt.
     Senate and Magistracy of Nuremburg.
     Senate of Reutlingen.

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