Articles were articles of belief named for the town in Germany, where they
were presented to Protestant leaders. The Articles were occasioned by the
call of Pope Paul III for a council at Mantua. Invited to attend, the
German Protestants through Elector John Frederick, of Saxony, asked Luther
to prepare a confession for them to submit. Luther wrote this during
Christmas, 1536. Together with his Small and Large catechisms, this
confession comprises his contributions to the Book of Concord.
Smalcald Articles are grouped in three parts: (1) those concerning "the
chief articles" of "the Divine Majesty," about which there was no
controversy with Rome, as the Trinity; (2) those concerning "the articles
which refer to the office and work of Jesus Christ or our redemption,"
about which there was controversy with Rome and no compromise was
possible, as justification by grace alone through faith; (3) those
concerning miscellaneous matters, about which there was controversy but
which were open to negotiation, as monastic vows and the marriage of
were subscribed by most of the theologians in attendance. However, the
princes delayed action, declaring their refusal to recognize the council,
which never did convene. For this reason the Articles are prefaced thus:
"Articles of Christian doctrine which were to have been presented
by our party at the council in Mantua, or wherever else the council was to
have been convened, and which were to indicate what we could or could not
accept or yield. Written by Dr. Martin Luther in the year 1537."
Preface of Dr. Martin Luther
PART I: Treats of the Sublime Articles Concerning the Divine
PART II: Treats of the Articles which Refer to the Office and Work
of Jesus Christ, or Our Redemption.
Article I: His
relationship to us
Article II: Of the Mass
Article III: Of Chapters and Cloisters
Article IV: Of the Papacy
PART III: 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.
Article I: Of Sin
Article II: Of the Law
Article III: Of Repentance
Article IV: Of the Gospel
Article V: Of Baptism
Article VI: Of the Sacrament of the Altar
Article VII: Of the Keys
Article VIII: Of Confession
Article IX: Of Excommunication
Article X: Of Ordination and the Call
Article XI: Of the Marriage of Priests
Article XII: Of the Church
Article XIII: How One is Justified before God, and of Good Works
Article XIV: Of Monastic Vows
Article XV: Of Human Tradition
Preface of Dr. Martin Luther
Since Pope Paul III convoked a Council last year, to
assemble at Mantua about Whitsuntide, and afterwards transferred it from
Mantua, so that it is not yet known where he will or can fix it, and we on
our part either had to expect that we would be summoned also to the
Council or [to fear that we would] be condemned unsummoned, I was directed
to compile and collect the articles of our doctrine [in order that it
might be plain] in case of deliberation as to what and how far we would be
both willing and able to yield to the Papists, and in what points we
intended to persevere and abide to the end.
I have accordingly
compiled these articles and presented them to our side. They have also
been accepted and unanimously confessed by our side, and it has been
resolved that, in case the Pope with his adherents should ever be so bold
as seriously and in good faith, without lying and cheating, to hold a
truly free [legitimate] Christian Council (as, indeed, he would be in duty
bound to do), they be publicly delivered in order to set forth the
Confession of our Faith.
But though the
Romish court is so dreadfully afraid of a free Christian Council, and
shuns the light so shamefully, that it has [entirely] removed, even from
those who are on its side, the hope that it will ever permit a free
Council, much less that it will itself hold one, whereat, as is just, they
[many Papists] are greatly offended and have no little trouble on that
account [are disgusted with this negligence of the Pope], since they
notice thereby that the Pope would rather see all Christendom perish and
all souls damned than suffer either himself or his adherents to be
reformed even a little, and his [their] tyranny to be limited,
nevertheless I have determined meanwhile to publish these articles in
plain print, so that, should I die before there would be a Council (as I
fully expect and hope, because the knaves who flee the light and shun the
day take such wretched pains to delay and hinder the Council), those who
live and remain after me may have my testimony and confession to produce,
in addition to the Confession which I have issued previously, whereby up
to this time I have abided, and, by God's grace, will abide.
For what shall I
say? How shall I complain? I am still living, writing, preaching, and
lecturing daily; [and] yet there are found such spiteful men, not only
among the adversaries, but also false brethren that profess to be on our
side, as dare to cite my writings and doctrine directly against myself,
and let me look on and listen, although they know well that I teach
otherwise, and as wish to adorn their venom with my labor, and under my
name to [deceive and] mislead the poor people. [Good God!] Alas! what
first will happen when I am dead?
Indeed, I ought to
reply to everything while I am still living. But, again, how can I alone
stop all the mouths of the devil? especially of those (as they all are
poisoned) who will not hear or notice what we write, but solely exercise
themselves with all diligence how they may most shamefully pervert and
corrupt our word in every letter. These I let the devil answer, or at last
Gods wrath, as they deserve. I often think of the good Gerson who doubts
whether anything good should be [written and] published. If it is not
done, many souls are neglected who could be delivered: but if it is done,
the devil is there with malignant, villainous tongues without number which
envenom and pervert everything, so that nevertheless the fruit [the
usefulness of the writings] is prevented. Yet what they gain thereby is
manifest. For while they have lied so shamefully against us and by means
of lies wished to retain the people, God has constantly advanced His work,
and been making their following ever smaller and ours greater, and by
their lies has caused and still causes them to be brought to shame.
I must tell a story.
There was a doctor sent here to Wittenberg from France, who said publicly
before us that his king was sure and more than sure, that among us there
is no church, no magistrate, no married life, but all live promiscuously
as cattle, and each one does as he pleases. Imagine now, how will those
who by their writings have instilled such gross lies into the king and
other countries as the pure truth, look at us on that day before the
judgment-seat of Christ? Christ, the Lord and Judge of us all, knows well
that they lie and have [always] lied, His sentence they in turn, must
hear; that I know certainly. God convert to repentance those who can be
converted! Regarding the rest it will be said, Woe, and, alas! eternally.
But to return to the
subject. I verily desire to see a truly Christian Council [assembled some
time], in order that many matters and persons might be helped. Not that we
need It, for our churches are now, through God's grace, so enlightened and
equipped with the pure Word and right use of the Sacraments, with
knowledge of the various callings and of right works, that we on our part
ask for no Council, and on such points have nothing better to hope or
expect from a Council. But we see in the bishoprics everywhere so many
parishes vacant and desolate that one's heart would break, and yet neither
the bishops nor canons care how the poor people live or die, for whom
nevertheless Christ has died, and who are not permitted to hear Him speak
with them as the true Shepherd with His sheep. This causes me to shudder
and fear that at some time He may send a council of angels upon Germany
utterly destroying us, like Sodom and Gomorrah, because we so wantonly
mock Him with the Council.
necessary ecclesiastical affairs, there would be also in the political
estate innumerable matters of great importance to improve. There is the
disagreement between the princes and the states; usury and avarice have
burst in like a flood, and have become lawful [are defended with a show of
right]; wantonness, lewdness, extravagance in dress, gluttony, gambling,
idle display, with all kinds of bad habits and wickedness, insubordination
of subjects, of domestics and laborers of every trade, also the exactions
[and most exorbitant selling prices] of the peasants (and who can
enumerate all?) have so increased that they cannot be rectified by ten
Councils and twenty Diets. If such chief matters of the spiritual and
worldly estates as are contrary to God would be considered in the Council,
they would have all hands so full that the child's play and absurdity of
long gowns [official insignia], large tonsures, broad cinctures [or
sashes], bishops' or cardinals' hats or maces, and like jugglery would in
the mean time be forgotten. If we first had performed God's command and
order in the spiritual and secular estate we would find time enough to
reform food, clothing, tonsures, and surplices. But if we want to swallow
such camels, and, instead, strain at gnats, let the beams stand and judge
the motes, we also might indeed be satisfied with the Council.
Therefore I have
presented few articles; for we have without this so many commands of God
to observe in the Church, the state and the family that we can never
fulfil them. What, then, is the use, or what does it profit that many
decrees and statutes thereon are made in the Council, especially when
these chief matters commanded of God are neither regarded nor observed?
Just as though He were bound to honor our jugglery as a reward of our
treading His solemn commandments under foot. But our sins weigh upon us
and cause God not to be gracious to us; for we do not repent, and,
besides, wish to defend every abomination.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
do Thou Thyself convoke a Council, and deliver Thy servants by Thy
glorious advent! The Pope and his adherents are done for; they will have
none of Thee. Do Thou, then, help us, who are poor and needy, who sigh to
Thee, and beseech Thee earnestly, according to the grace which Thou hast
given us, through Thy Holy Ghost who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the
Father, blessed forever. Amen.
Treats of the Sublime
Articles Concerning the Divine Majesty, as:
That Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three distinct persons in one
divine essence and nature, are one God, who has created heaven and earth.
That the Father is begotten of no one; the Son of the Father; the
Holy Ghost proceeds from Father and Son.
That not the Father nor the Holy Ghost but the Son became man.
That the Son became man in this manner, that He was conceived,
without the cooperation of man, by the Holy Ghost, and was born of the
pure, holy [and always] Virgin Mary. Afterwards He suffered, died, was
buried, descended to hell, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, sits at
the right hand of God, will come to judge the quick and the dead, etc. as
the Creed of the Apostles, as well as that of St. Athanasius, and the
Catechism in common use for children, teach.
Concerning these articles there is no contention or
dispute, since we on both sides confess them. Therefore it is not
necessary now to treat further of them.
Treats of the Articles which Refer to the Office and Work of Jesus Christ,
or Our Redemption.
Article I: Christ and Faith
The first and chief article is this, That Jesus
Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and was raised again for our
justification (Rom.4:25). And He alone is the Lamb of God which taketh
away the sins of the world (John 1:29); and God has laid upon Him the
iniquities of us all (Isa.53:6). Likewise: All have sinned and are
justified without merit [freely, and without their own works or merits] by
His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood
Now, since it is
necessary to believe this, and it cannot be otherwise acquired or
apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this
faith alone justifies us as St. Paul says (Rom.3:28): For we conclude that
a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law. Likewise
(v.26): That He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in
Of this article
nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can anything be granted or
permitted contrary to the same], even though heaven and earth, and
whatever will not abide, should sink to ruin. For there is none other name
under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter (Acts
4:12). And with His stripes we are healed (Isa.53:5). And upon this
article all things depend which we teach and practice in opposition to the
Pope, the devil, and the [whole] world. Therefore, we must be sure
concerning this doctrine, and not doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and
the Pope and devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us.
Article II: Of the Mass
That the Mass in the Papacy must be the greatest and
most horrible abomination, as it directly and powerfully conflicts with
this chief article, and yet above and before all other popish idolatries
it has been the chief and most specious. For it has been held that this
sacrifice or work of the Mass, even though it be rendered by a wicked [and
abandoned] scoundrel, frees men from sins, both in this life and also in
purgatory, while only the Lamb of God shall and must do this, as has been
said above. Of this article nothing is to be surrendered or conceded,
because the first article does not allow it.
If, perchance, there
were reasonable Papists we might speak moderately and in a friendly way,
thus: first, why they so rigidly uphold the Mass. For it is but a pure
invention of men, and has not been commanded by God; and every invention
of man we may [safely] discard, as Christ declares (Matt.15:9): In vain do
they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Secondly. It is an
unnecessary thing, which can be omitted without sin and danger.
Sacrament can be received in a better and more blessed way [more
acceptable to God], (yea, the only blessed way), according to the
institution of Christ. Why, then, do they drive the world to woe and
[extreme] misery on account of a fictitious, unnecessary matter, which can
be well obtained in another and more blessed way?
Let [care be taken
that] it be publicly preached to the people that the Mass as men's twaddle
[commentitious affair or human figment] can be omitted without sin, and
that no one will be condemned who does not observe it, but that he can be
saved in a better way without the Mass. I wager [Thus it will come to
pass] that the Mass will then collapse of itself, not only among the
insane [rude] common people, but also among all pious, Christian,
reasonable, God-fearing hearts; and that the more, when they would hear
that the Mass is a [very] dangerous thing, fabricated and invented without
the will and Word of God.
Fourthly. Since such
innumerable and unspeakable abuses have arisen in the whole world from the
buying and selling of masses, the Mass should by right be relinquished, if
for no other purpose than to prevent abuses, even though in itself it had
something advantageous and good. How much more ought we to relinquish it,
so as to prevent [escape] forever these horrible abuses, since it is
altogether unnecessary, useless, and dangerous, and we can obtain
everything by a more necessary, profitable, and certain way without the
Fifthly. But since
the Mass is nothing else and can be nothing else (as the Canon and all
books declare), than a work of men (even of wicked scoundrels), by which
one attempts to reconcile himself and others to God, and to obtain and
merit the remission of sins and grace (for thus the Mass is observed when
it is observed at the very best; otherwise what purpose would it serve ?),
for this very reason it must and should [certainly] be condemned and
rejected. For this directly conflicts with the chief article, which says
that it is not a wicked or a godly hireling of the Mass with his own work,
but the Lamb of God and the Son of God, that taketh away our sins.
But if any one
should advance the pretext that as an act of devotion he wishes to
administer the Sacrament, or Communion, to himself, he is not in earnest
[he would commit a great mistake, and would not be speaking seriously and
sincerely]. For if he wishes to commune in sincerity, the surest and best
way for him is in the Sacrament administered according to Christ's
institution. But that one administer communion to himself is a human
notion, uncertain, unnecessary, yea, even prohibited. And he does not know
what he is doing, because without the Word of God he obeys a false human
opinion and invention. So, too, it is not right (even though the matter
were otherwise correct) for one to use the common Sacrament of [belonging
to] the Church according to his own private devotion, and without God s
Word and apart from the communion of the Church to trifle therewith.
concerning the Mass will be the whole business of the Council. [The
Council will perspire most over, and be occupied with this article
concerning the Mass.] For if it were [although it would be] possible for
them to concede to us all the other articles, yet they could not concede
this. As Campegius said at Augsburg that he would be torn to pieces before
he would relinquish the Mass, so, by the help of God, I, too, would suffer
myself to be reduced to ashes before I would allow a hireling of the Mass,
be he good or bad, to be made equal to Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior,
or to be exalted above Him. Thus we are and remain eternally separated and
opposed to one another. They feel well enough that when the Mass falls,
the Papacy lies in ruins. Before they will permit this to occur, they will
put us all to death if they can.
In addition to all
this, this dragon's tail, [I mean] the Mass, has begotten a numerous
vermin-brood of manifold idolatries.
Here they carried their trade into purgatory by masses for souls, and
vigils, and weekly, monthly, and yearly celebrations of obsequies, and
finally by the Common Week and All Souls Day, by soul-baths so that the
Mass is used almost alone for the dead, although Christ has instituted the
Sacrament alone for the living. Therefore purgatory, and every solemnity,
rite, and commerce connected with it, is to be regarded as nothing but a
specter of the devil. For it conflicts with the chief article [which
teaches] that only Christ, and not the works of men, are to help [set
free] souls. Not to mention the fact that nothing has been [divinely]
commanded or enjoined upon us concerning the dead. Therefore all this may
be safely omitted, even if it were no error and idolatry.
The Papists quote
here Augustine and some of the Fathers who are said to have written
concerning purgatory, and they think that we do not understand for what
purpose and to what end they spoke as they did. St. Augustine does not
write that there is a purgatory nor has he a testimony of Scripture to
constrain him thereto, but he leaves it in doubt whether there is one, and
says that his mother asked to be remembered at the altar or Sacrament.
Now, all this is indeed nothing but the devotion of men, and that, too, of
individuals, and does not establish an article of faith, which is the
prerogative of God alone.
however, cite such statements [opinions] of men in order that men should
believe in their horrible, blasphemous, and cursed traffic in masses for
souls in purgatory [or in sacrifices for the dead and oblations], etc. But
they will never prove these things from Augustine. Now, when they have
abolished the traffic in masses for purgatory, of which Augustine never
dreamt, we will then discuss with them whether the expressions of
Augustine without Scripture [being without the warrant of the Word] are to
be admitted, and whether the dead should be remembered at the Eucharist.
For it will not do to frame articles of faith from the works or words of
the holy Fathers; otherwise their kind of fare, of garments, of house,
etc., would have to become an article of faith, as was done with relies.
[We have, however, another rule, namely] The rule is: The Word of God
shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel.
Secondly. From this
it has followed that evil spirits have perpetrated much knavery [exercised
their malice] by appearing as the souls of the departed, and with
unspeakable [horrible] lies and tricks demanded masses, vigils,
pilgrimages, and other alms. All of which we had to receive as articles of
faith, and to live accordingly; and the Pope confirmed these things, as
also the Mass and all other abominations. Here, too, there is no [cannot
and must not be any] yielding or surrendering.
arose] the pilgrimages. Here, too, masses, the remission of sins and the
grace of God were sought, for the Mass controlled everything. Now it is
indeed certain that such pilgrimages, without the Word of God, have not
been commanded us, neither are they necessary, since we can have these
things [the soul can be cared for] in a better way, and can omit these
pilgrimages without any sin and danger. Why therefore do they leave at
home [desert] their own parish [their called ministers, their parishes],
the Word of God, wives, children, etc., who are ordained and [attention to
whom is necessary and has been] commanded, and run after these
unnecessary, uncertain, pernicious will-o'-the-wisps of the devil [and
errors]? Unless the devil was riding [made insane] the Pope, causing him
to praise and establish these practices, whereby the people again and
again revolted from Christ to their own works, and became idolaters, which
is worst of all; moreover, it is neither necessary nor commanded, but is
senseless and doubtful, and besides harmful. Hence here, too, there can be
no yielding or surrendering [to yield or concede anything here is not
lawful], etc. And let this be preached, that such pilgrimages are not
necessary, but dangerous; and then see what will become of them. [For thus
they will perish of their own accord.]
Fraternities [or societies], in which cloisters, chapters, vicars have
assigned and communicated (by a legal contract and sale) all masses and
good works, etc., both for the living and the dead. This is not only
altogether a human bauble, without the Word of God, entirely unnecessary
and not commanded, but also contrary to the chief article, Of Redemption.
Therefore it is in no way to be tolerated.
Fifthly. The relics,
in which there are found so many falsehoods and tomfooleries concerning
the bones of dogs and horses, that even the devil has laughed at such
rascalities, ought long ago to have been condemned, even though there were
some good in them; and so much the more because they are without the Word
of God; being neither commanded nor counseled, they are an entirely
unnecessary and useless thing. But the worst is that [they have imagined
that] these relics had to work indulgence and the forgiveness of sins [and
have revered them] as a good work and service of God, like the Mass, etc.
Sixthly. Here belong
the precious indulgences granted (but only for money) both to the living
and the dead, by which the miserable [sacrilegious and accursed] Judas, or
Pope, has sold the merit of Christ, together with the superfluous merits
of all saints and of the entire Church, etc. All these things [and every
single one of them] are not to be borne, and are not only without the Word
of God, without necessity, not commanded, but are against the chief
article. For the merit of Christ is [apprehended and] obtained not by our
works or pence, but from grace through faith, without money and merit; and
is offered [and presented] not through the power of the Pope, but through
the preaching of God's Word.
Of the Invocation of
The invocation of
saints is also one of the abuses of Antichrist conflicting with the chief
article, and destroys the knowledge of Christ. Neither is it commanded nor
counseled, nor has it any example [or testimony] in Scripture, and even
though it were a precious thing, as it is not [while, on the contrary, it
is a most harmful thing], in Christ we have everything a thousandfold
better [and surer, so that we are not in need of calling upon the saints]
And although the
angels in heaven pray for us (as Christ Himself also does), as also do the
saints on earth, and perhaps also in heaven, yet it does not follow thence
that we should invoke and adore the angels and saints, and fast, hold
festivals, celebrate Mass in their honor, make offerings, and establish
churches, altars, divine worship, and in still other ways serve them, and
regard them as helpers in need [as patrons and intercessors], and divide
among them all kinds of help, and ascribe to each one a particular form of
assistance, as the Papists teach and do. For this is idolatry, and such
honor belongs alone to God. For as a Christian and saint upon earth you
can pray for me, not only in one, but in many necessities. But for this
reason I am not obliged to adore and invoke you, and celebrate festivals,
fast, make oblations, hold masses for your honor [and worship], and put my
faith in you for my salvation. I can in other ways indeed honor, love, and
thank you in Christ. If now such idolatrous honor were withdrawn from
angels and departed saints, the remaining honor would be without harm and
would quickly be forgotten. For when advantage and assistance, both bodily
and spiritual, are no more to be expected, the saints will not be troubled
[the worship of the saints will soon vanish], neither in their graves nor
in heaven. For without a reward or out of pure love no one will much
remember, or esteem, or honor them [bestow on them divine honor].
In short, the Mass
itself and anything that proceeds from it, and anything that is attached
to it, we cannot tolerate, but must condemn, in order that we may retain
the holy Sacrament pure and certain, according to the institution of
Christ, employed and received through faith.
Article III: Of Chapters and Cloisters
That chapters and cloisters [colleges of canons and
communistic dwellings], which were formerly founded with the good
intention [of our forefathers] to educate learned men and chaste [and
modest] women, ought again to be turned to such use, in order that
pastors, preachers, and other ministers of the churches may be had, and
likewise other necessary persons [fitted] for [the political
administration of] the secular government [or for the commonwealth] in
cities and countries, and well-educated, maidens for mothers and
If they will not
serve this purpose, it is better that they be abandoned or razed, rather
than [continued and], with their blasphemous services invented by men,
regarded as something better than the ordinary Christian life and the
offices and callings ordained by God. For all this also is contrary to the
first chief article concerning the redemption made through Jesus Christ.
Add to this that (like all other human inventions) these have neither been
commanded; they are needless and useless, and, besides, afford occasion
for dangerous and vain labor [dangerous annoyances and fruitless worship],
such services as the prophets call Aven, i.e., pain and labor.
Article IV: Of the Papacy
That the Pope is not, according to divine law or
according to the Word of God the head of all Christendom (for this [name]
belongs to One only, whose name is Jesus Christ), but is only the bishop
and pastor of the Church at Rome, and of those who voluntarily or through
a human creature (that is, a political magistrate) have attached
themselves to him, to be Christians, not under him as a lord, but with him
as brethren [colleagues] and comrades, as the ancient councils and the age
of St. Cyprian show.
But to-day none of
the bishops dare to address the Pope as brother as was done at that time
[in the age of Cyprian]; but they must call him most gracious lord, even
though they be kings or emperors. This [Such arrogance] we will not,
cannot, must not take upon our conscience [with a good conscience
approve]. Let him, however, who will do it, do so without us [at his own
Hence it follows
that all things which the Pope, from a power so false, mischievous,
blasphemous, and arrogant, has done and undertaken. have been and still
are purely diabolical affairs and transactions (with the exception of such
things as pertain to the secular government, where God often permits much
good to be effected for a people, even through a tyrant and [faithless]
scoundrel) for the ruin of the entire holy [catholic or] Christian Church
(so far as it is in his power) and for the destruction of the first and
chief article concerning the redemption made through Jesus Christ.
For all his bulls
and books are extant, in which he roars like a lion (as the angel in
Revelation 12 depicts him, [crying out] that no Christian can be saved
unless he obeys him and is subject to him in all things that he wishes,
that he says, and that he does. All of which amounts to nothing less than
saying: Although you believe in Christ, and have in Him [alone] everything
that is necessary to salvation, yet it is nothing and all in vain unless
you regard [have and worship] me as your god, and be subject and obedient
to me. And yet it is manifest that the holy Church has been without the
Pope for at least more than five hundred years, and that even to the
present day the churches of the Greeks and of many other languages neither
have been nor are yet under the Pope. Besides, as often remarked, it is a
human figment which is not commanded, and is unnecessary and useless; for
the holy Christian [or catholic] Church can exist very well without such a
head, and it would certainly have remained better [purer, and its career
would have been more prosperous] if such a head had not been raised up by
the devil. And the Papacy is also of no use in the Church, because it
exercises no Christian office; and therefore it is necessary for the
Church to continue and to exist without the Pope.
And supposing that
the Pope would yield this point, so as not to be supreme by divine right
or from Gods command, but that we must have [there must be elected] a
[certain] head, to whom all the rest adhere [as their support] in order
that the [concord and] unity of Christians may be preserved against sects
and heretics, and that such a head were chosen by men, and that it were
placed within the choice and power of men to change or remove this head,
just as the Council of Constance adopted nearly this course with reference
to the Popes, deposing three and electing a fourth; supposing, I say, that
the Pope and See at Rome would yield and accept this (which, nevertheless,
is impossible; for thus he would have to suffer his entire realm and
estate to be overthrown and destroyed, with all his rights and books, a
thing which, to speak in few words, he cannot do), nevertheless, even in
this way Christianity would not be helped, but many more sects would arise
For since men would
have to be subject to this head, not from God's command, but from their
personal good pleasure, it would easily and in a short time be despised,
and at last retain no member; neither would it have to be forever confined
to Rome or any other place, but it might be wherever and in whatever
church God would grant a man fit for the [taking upon him such a great]
office. Oh, the complicated and confused state of affairs [perplexity]
that would result!
Therefore the Church
can never be better governed and preserved than if we all live under one
head, Christ, and all the bishops equal in office (although they be
unequal in gifts), be diligently joined in unity of doctrine, faith,
Sacraments, prayer, and works of love, etc., as St. Jerome writes that the
priests at Alexandria together and in common governed the churches, as did
also the apostles, and afterwards all bishops throughout all Christendom,
until the Pope raised his head above all.
This teaching shows
forcefully that the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself
above, and opposed himself against Christ because he will not permit
Christians to be saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing,
and is neither ordained nor commanded by God. This is, properly speaking
to exalt himself above all that is called God as Paul says (2Thess. 2:4).
Even the Turks or the Tartars, great enemies of Christians as they are, do
not do this, but they allow whoever wishes to believe in Christ, and take
bodily tribute and obedience from Christians.
The Pope, however,
prohibits this faith, saying that to be saved a person must obey him. This
we are unwilling to do, even though on this account we must die in God s
name. This all proceeds from the fact that the Pope has wished to be
called the supreme head of the Christian Church by divine right.
Accordingly he had to make himself equal and superior to Christ, and had
to cause himself to be proclaimed the head and then the lord of the
Church, and finally of the whole world, and simply God on earth, until he
has dared to issue commands even to the angels in heaven. And when we
distinguish the Pope s teaching from, or measure and hold it against, Holy
Scripture, it is found [it appears plainly] that the Pope s teaching,
where it is best, has been taken from the imperial and heathen law and
treats of political matters and decisions or rights, as the Decretals
show; furthermore, it teaches of ceremonies concerning churches, garments,
food, persons and [similar] puerile, theatrical and comical things without
measure, but in all these things nothing at all of Christ, faith, and the
commandments of God. Lastly, it is nothing else than the devil himself,
because above and against God he urges [and disseminates] his [papal]
falsehoods concerning masses, purgatory, the monastic life, one's own
works and [fictitious] divine worship (for this is the very Papacy [upon
each of which the Papacy is altogether founded and is standing]), and
condemns, murders and tortures all Christians who do not exalt and honor
these abominations [of the Pope] above all things. Therefore, just as
little as we can worship the devil himself as Lord and God, we can endure
his apostle, the Pope, or Antichrist, in his rule as head or lord. For to
lie and to kill, and to destroy body and soul eternally, that is wherein
his papal government really consists, as I have very clearly shown in many
In these four
articles they will have enough to condemn in the Council. For they cannot
and will not concede us even the least point in one of these articles. Of
this we should be certain, and animate ourselves with [be forewarned and
made firm in] the hope that Christ, our Lord, has attacked His adversary,
and he will press the attack home [pursue and destroy him] both by His
Spirit and coming. Amen.
For in the Council
we will stand not before the Emperor or the political magistrate, as at
Augsburg (where the Emperor published a most gracious edict, and caused
matters to be heard kindly [and dispassionately]), but [we will appear]
before the Pope and devil himself, who intends to listen to nothing, but
merely [when the case has been publicly announced] to condemn, to murder
and to force us to idolatry. Therefore we ought not here to kiss his feet,
or to say: Thou art my gracious lord, but as the angel in Zechariah 3:2
said to Satan: The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan.
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.
I. 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] God's name [to swear falsely],
not to pray, not to call upon God, not to regard [to despise or neglect]
God's 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 (Psa.51:5; Rom.6:12- ff.; Ex.33:3; Gen.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
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.
II. 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
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 (Rom.4:15): The Law
worketh wrath. And (Rom.5:20): Sin is increased by the Law. [The Law
entered that the offense might abound.]
III. Of Repentance
This office [of the Law] the New Testament retains
and urges, as St. Paul (Rom.1:18) does, saying: The wrath of God is
revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
Again, (Rom.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 (Jer.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
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 1:5):
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
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 (Rom.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 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.
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
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
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
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 man's 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.
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
day's 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 years' 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
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 goldbearing 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
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, -- 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), -- 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
[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
Here comes the fiery
angel, St. John [Rev.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! (Matt.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 God's will. For here He is present of
whose fulness 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- your penance will not accomplish anything
[is nothing]. And you hypocrites, who do not need repentance, you
serpents' brood, who has assured you that you will escape the wrath to
come? etc. (Matt.3:7; Luke 3:7).
In the same way Paul
also preaches (Rom.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. "All men," 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 (Rom.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
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: "Do whatever you please; if you
believe, it all amounts to nothing; faith blots out all sins," etc. --
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 (1John 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 (1 John 1:8): If we say that we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves and the truth is not in us.
IV. 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 (Matt.18:20): Where two or
three are gathered together, etc.
V. 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 (God's
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.
VI. 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 God's 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.
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 (1Cor.10:16):
The bread which we break. And (1Cor.11:28): Let him so eat of that bread.
VII. 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 Rom.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 Psalm 143:2: Enter
not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living
be justified. And Paul (1Cor.4:4), says: For I know nothing by myself; yet
am I not hereby justified.
VIII. 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
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: "I am a poor man [I acknowledge that I am a miserable
sinner], full of sin." (Rom.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 He 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 mother's womb without the voice of
Mary. And Peter says (2Pet.1:21): For 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
IX. 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.
X. 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 Lord's 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.
XI. 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 (1Tim.4:1-ff.), that this [prohibition of marriage] is a doctrine of
XII. 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, [to-day] 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.
XIII. 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 Christ's 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, (1Cor.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.
XIV. 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, (Matt.24:5, 23-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].
XV. 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 (Matt.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
Lastly, there still
remains the Pope's bag of impostures concerning foolish and childish
articles, as, the dedication of churches, the baptism of bells, the
baptism of the altarstone, 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
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
I, Conrad Figenbotz, for the glory of God subscribe
that I have thus believed, and am still preaching and firmly believing as
I, Andrew Osiander of Nuernberg, subscribe.
I, Magister Veit Dieterich, Minister at Nuernberg,
I, Erhard Schnepf, Preacher at Stuttgart, subscribe.
Conrad Oettinger, Preacher of Duke Ulrich at
Simon Schneeweiss, Pastor of the Church at Crailsheim.
I, John Schlagenhaufen, Pastor of the Church at
The Reverend Magister George Helt of Forchheim.
The Reverend Magister Adam of Fulda, Preacher in
The Reverend Magister Anthony Corvinus, Preacher in
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
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
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
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.
Egidius Mechler, have subscribed with my own hand.