HAIL & FIRE - a resource for Reformed and Gospel Theology in the works, exhortations, prayers, and apologetics of those who have maintained the Gospel and expounded upon the Scripture as the Eternal Word of God and the sole authority in Christian doctrine.
HAIL & FIRE - a resource for Reformed and Gospel Theology in the works, exhortations, prayers, and apologetics of those who have maintained the Gospel and expounded upon the Scripture as the Eternal Word of God and the sole authority in Christian doctrine.

Hail & Fire Online Book Library - click here to read rare Christian, Puritan, Reformed and Protestant exhortational works, Catholic and Protestant polemical and apologetical works, bibles, histories, martyrologies, and works on eschatology.

Read Christian, Puritan, Reformed and Protestant exhortational works, Catholic and Protestant polemical & apologetical works, histories, martyrologies, and works on eschatology, online:   Hail & Fire Library

William Tyndale Quotes

Click to Read History of England from the fall of Wosley to the death of Elizabeth by James Anthony Froude - Hail and Fire Book Library

READ ONLINE: Certain Sermons or Homilies Appointed to Be Read in Churches in the Time of Queen Elizabeth of Famous Memory - Hail and Fire


QUOTE: "How necessary it is, that the Word of God, which is the only food of the soul, and that most excellent light that we must walk by, in this our most dangerous pilgrimage, should at all convenient times be preached unto the people"

1562 Preface

Illustration of the Burning of English Bible Translations in 15th century England. READ LOLLARD WRITINGS online


"When they burned the New Testament they pretended a zeal very fervent to maintain only Godís honor, which they said with protestation, was obscured by translation in English, causing much error. But the truth plainly to be said, this was the cause why they were afraid, least laymen should know their iniquity."

A Lollard (1450ad)

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A Proper Dialogue between a Gentleman and Husbandman each complaining to other their miserable calamite, through the ambition of the clergy.

A 15th century Apology written by an English Lollard.


Illustration of the Burning of English Bible Translations in 15th century England. READ LOLLARD WRITINGS online

Click to Read Answer to Sir Thomas More's Dialogue by William Tyndale - Hail and Fire Book Library

Click to Read Richard Baxter On Lamentations of the Lost - Hail and Fire Exhortations

READ ONLINE: The Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, and Applied to the Christian State and Worship by Isaac Watts (hymns and christians songs)

"Who shall inhabit in thy hill, O God of holiness? Whom will the Lord admit to dwell, So near his throne of grace? The man that walks in pious ways, And works with righteous hands; That trusts his Maker's promises, And follows his commands." Psalm 15 (Puritan Hymn)

by Isaac Watts

Click to Read Joseph Alleine's An Alarm to the Unconverted Sinners prefixed by an epistle Richard Baxter - Hail and Fire Book Library

ONLINE LIBRARY: Sermons on the Card and Other Discourses by Hugh Latimer, martyr 1555

"To pretend to preach the truth without offending carnal men, is to pretend to be able to do what Jesus Christ could not do."

Thomas Wilson

Click to Read Answer to Sir Thomas More's Dialogue by William Tyndale - Hail and Fire Book Library

Read Martin Luther's Hymn, Lord God Thy Praise We Sing

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Download or listen online to mp3 audiobooks of Puritan and Reformed works and more in the Hail & Fire Audio Library.

Click to Read About the life of William Tyndale - Hail and Fire Book Library
"One circumstance appears plain from the Registers of their persecutors, and is well worthy of being noted: that these martyrs do not appear to have held a variety of doctrines and opinions, as the Roman Catholics contend is always the consequence of leaving that communion; their doctrines were uniform; and scarcely one that is not now held by every true Protestant."





"What does the Lord require of you? Is it to make your own peace? He would as soon require you to make a new heaven and a new earth. Is it to keep your own soul? No more than he requires you to keep the sun in its course. His own arm has wrought salvation, and he will secure it. He requires none of your help here; nay, he disdains the thought: you might as well offer to help him to govern the world. But this he requires of you, 'to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God;' and the methods of his grace will enable you to do so."


Click to Read Doctrine on the Scripture by St. John Chrysostom - Hail and Fire

St. John Chrysostom: ON SCRIPTURE

"But some one will say, 'it is to the priests that these charges are given' ... But that the apostle gives the same charge to the laity, hear what he says in another epistle to other than the priesthood: 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.'"


"The light causes not darkness, but the absence of the light; so the Word causes not heresies, but the absence of the Word."

Elnathan Parr

READ William Tynale on the Authority of Scripture.


"God careth for his elect; and therefore hath provided them of scripture, to try all things, and to defend them from all false prophets."


READ William Tynale on the Authority of Scripture.


"For we love not God first, to compel him to love again; but he loved us first, and gave his Son for us, that we might see love and love again, saith St John in his first epistle"


Read Martin Luther's Hymn, Lord God Thy Praise We Sing

READ ONLINE: The Marriage Ring: or How to Make a Happy Home, by John Angell James (Christian Marriage Sermon)

READ ONLINE: (1842 Sermon/Book on Christian Marriage)

"The Marriage Ring:
  or READ ONLINE: The Marriage Ring: or How to Make a Happy Home, by John Angell James (Christian Marriage Book) How to Make a Happy Home"

John Angell James

"Intended as a manual for those just entering the marriage state."


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On Godly Marriage:

"The secret of happiness lies folded up in the leaves of the Bible, and is carried in the bosom of Religion. Let the two parties in wedded life be believers in Christ Jesus, and partake themselves of the peace that passeth understanding ... united by love, and sanctified by grace."

READ ONLINE: The Marriage Ring: or How to Make a Happy Home, by John Angell James (Christian Marriage Book)

"To pretend to preach the truth without offending carnal men, is to pretend to be able to do what Jesus Christ could not do."

Thomas Wilson

Istituzione della Religione Cristiana

di Giovanni Calvino



in Italiano


"Humility is not a mere ornament of a Christian, but an essential part of the new creature: it is a contradiction to be a sanctified man, or a true Christian, and not humble."

Richard Baxter

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HOME > Library > Books > The Augsburg Confession or The Confessio Augustana (Evangelical Protestant Confession of Faith/Creed, presented to Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg, in Germany, 1530)

"The Augsburg Confession"
or "The Confessio Augustana"


Presented to the Invincible Emperor Charles the V., Caesar Augustus, at the Diet of Augsburg, in the year 1530.



Article I - Of God.

The churches, with the common consent among us, teach that the decree of the Nicene Synod concerning the unity of the divine essence and of the persons is true and without any question to be believed: to wit, that there is one divine essence that is called and truly is God, eternal, incorporeal, without parts, of the highest power, wisdom, goodness, the Creator and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and that yet there are three persons of the same essence and power, also co-eternal, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And they make use of the name of person with the meaning in which the church fathers make use of it in this cause, to signify not a part or quality in another, but that which actually exists. They condemn all the heresies that have sprung up contrary to this article such as the Manichaeans, who presuppose two principles, the good and the evil; likewise the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mohammedans, and all such like. They condemn also the Samostenes, old and new; who since they earnestly contend that there is but one person, do craftily and wickedly trifle, after the manner of rhetoricians, about the Word and the Holy Spirit, that they are not distinct persons, but that the Word signifies a vocal word, and the Spirit a motion created in things.

Article II - Of Original Sin.

Also they teach that, after Adam's fall, all men begotten after the common course of nature come into this world with sin; that is, without the fear of God, without trust in him, and with fleshly appetite; and that this curse, or original fault, is truly sin, bringing eternal condemnation now also upon all those that are not born again by baptism and the Holy Ghost.

They condemn the Pelasgians, and others, who deny this original fault to be truly sin; and who, wishing to lessen the glory of the merits and benefits of Christ, say that a man may, by the power of his own reason, be justified before God.

Article III - Of the Son of God.

Also they teach us that the Word, meaning the Son of God, took unto Him the nature of man in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably joined in unity of person; one Christ, truly God and man: who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, died and was buried, that He might reconcile the Father with us, and might be a sacrifice, not only for the sin of our first parents, but also for all actual sins of men.

Christ also descended into hell, and rose again the third day. Afterward He ascended into heaven, to sit at the right hand of the Father; and forever reign, and have dominion over all men; to sanctify those that believe in Him, by sending the Holy Ghost into their hearts, who shall rule [sanctify, purify, strengthen], console, and quicken them, and defend them against the devil, and the power of sin.

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

Article IV - Of Justification.

Also they teach that we can not be justified [obtain forgiveness of sins and righteousness] before God by our own merits, powers, or works; but are justified [by grace] for Christ's sake by faith, when they believe they are received into favor and their sins forgiven for His sake, who by His death has given satisfaction for our sins. This faith does God impute for righteousness before Him. Romans 3 and 4.

Article V - Of the Ministry of the Church.

To obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was established.

Because by the Word and Sacraments, as by instruments, the Holy Ghost is given: who worketh faith, when and where it pleases God, in those that hear His Word, to wit, that God, not for our merit's sake, but for Christ's sake, justifies those who believe that for Christ's sake they are received into favor.

They condemn the Anabaptists and others, who think that the Holy Ghost is given to men without the outward word, on account of their own preparations and works.

Article VI - Of New Obedience.

For the remission of our sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as the voice of Christ testifies: "When ye have done all these things, say, We are unprofitable servants."

Likewise do the ancient writers of the Church teach; as Ambrose says: "This is ordained of God, that he that believes in Christ shall be saved, without works, by faith alone, freely receiving remission of sin."

Article VII - Of the Church.

They also teach that one holy Church is to live forever. But the Church is the congregation of saints [the assembly of all who believe.], where the Gospel is rightly taught [purely preached] and the Sacraments rightly administered [according to the Gospel].

And for the true unity of the Church, it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and administering of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, rites and ceremonies instituted by men should be the same everywhere, as St. Paul says: "There is one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all."

Article VIII - What the Church is.

Although properly the Church is the congregation of saints and true believers, yet since in this world many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled with it, it is lawful to use the Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the voice of Christ (Matthew 23:2): "The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat," and the following words. And the Sacraments and the Word are efficacious, by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ, even though they be delivered by evil men.

They condemn the Donatists and such like, who said it was unlawful to use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and held that the ministry of such men is useless and without effect.

Article IX - Of Baptism.

They teach that Baptism is necesary to salvation, that by Baptism the grace of God is offered, and that children are to be baptized, who by Baptism are offered to God, and received into His favor.

They condemn the Anabaptists who do not allow the baptism of children, and affirm that children are saved without Baptism.

Article X - Of the Lord's Supper.

Of the Lord's Supper they teach that the [true] body and blood of Christ are really present [under the appearance of bread and wine], and are [there] communicated to all that eat in the Lord's Supper [and received]. And they disapprove of those that teach differently [wherefore also the opposite doctrine is rejected].

Article XI - Of Confession.

Concerning confession, they teach that private absolution be retained in the churches, though the naming of all offenses is not necessary in confession. For it is impossible, according to the Psalm: "Who can understand his errors!"

Article XII - Of Repentance.

About repentance, they teach that those who have fallen after baptism may find remission of their sins, at the time they are converted [whenever they come to repentance], and that the Church should give absolution to such as return to repentance.

Now repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition, or terrors stricken into the conscience by the acknowledgment of sin; the other is faith, which is conceived by the Gospel, or absolution, and believes that sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, comforts the conscience, and frees it from terrors. Then should follow good works, which are fruits of repentance.

They condemn Anabaptists, who deny that men once justified can lose the Spirit of God, and contend that some men reach such a perfection in this world that they can not sin. [Here are rejected those who teach that those who have once been pure can fall again.] The Novatians are also condemned, who would not absolve those who had fallen after baptism, though they repented. They also that do not teach that remission of sins is obtained by faith, and who command us to obtain grace by satisfactions, are rejected.

Article XIII - Of the Use of Sacraments.

Concerning the use of the Sacrament, they teach that they were ordained, not alone to be marks of profession among men, but rather that they should be signs and testimonies of the will of God towards us, sent forth unto us to arouse and strengthen faith in those that use them. Hence men must use Sacraments so as to join them to faith, which believes the promises that are offered and declared unto us by the Sacraments.

Wherefore they condemn those that teach that the Sacraments justify by the work done, and do not teach that faith which believes the remission of sins is necessary in the use of the Sacraments.

Article XIV - Of Ecclesiastical Orders.

About Ecclesiastical Orders [Church Government], they teach that no one should publicly in the Church teach or administer the Sacraments, unless he be rightly called [without a regular call].

Article XV - Of Ecclesiastical Rites.

Concerning Ecclesiasical rites [made by men], they teach that those rites are to be observed which may be without sin, and are of value for tranquillity and good order in the Church; such as set holidays, feasts, and the like. Yet concerning these things, men are to be admonished that consciences are not to be burdened as if such exercise were necessary to their salvation.

Also they are to be admonished that human traditions, instituted to propitiate God, to deserve grace, and make satisfaction for sins, are opposed to the Gospel and the doctrine of faith. Wherefore vows and traditions concerning foods and days, and the like, instituted to merit grace and to give atonement for sins are useless and contrary to the Gospel.

Article XVI - Of Civil Affairs.

Regarding civil affairs, they teach that the civil ordinances that are lawful are good works of God; that Christians may legally hold civil office, render judgment, decide matters by the imperial laws, and other laws in present effect, inflict just punishment, engage in just war, act as soldiers, enter into legal transactions, hold property, take oaths when required by the magistrates, marry a wife, and be given in marriage. They condemn the Anabaptists who deny Christians these civil rights. They reject also those that place the perfection of the Gospel, not in the fear of God and in their faith, but in forsaking civil offices, as the Gospel teaches an everlasting righteousness of the heart. In the meantime, it does not disallow order and government of commonwealths or families, but requires particularly the preservation and maintenance of them, as if God's own ordinances, and that in such ordinances we should exercise love. Christians, therefore, must necessarily obey the magistrates and laws, except only when they command any sin; for then they must rather obey God than man (Acts v. 29).

Article XVII - Of Christ's Return to Judgment.

They also teach that, at the final end of the world [on the last day], Christ will appear to judge, and will raise up all the dead, and will give unto the godly and elect everlasting life and joys; but will condemn ungodly men and the devils to torments without end.

They reject the Anabaptists who think that to condemned men and the devils shall be an end of torments. They condemn others also, who now spread Jewish opinions, that, before the resurrection of the dead, the godly shall inhabit the kingdom of the world, the evil being everywhere suppressed [the saints alone, the pious, will have a worldly kingdom, and will exterminate all the ungodly].

Article XVIII - Of Free Will.

Concerning free will, they teach that man's will has some liberty to work civil righteousness, and to choose those things that reason can reach unto; but that it has no power to work the righteousness of God, or a Spiritual righteousness, without the Spirit of God; because the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God (I Cod. ii. 14). But this is wrought in the heart when the Spirit of God is received through His Word.

These things are in so many words affirmed by St. Augustine, Hypognosticon, lib. iii.: "We admit that there is in all men a free will, which has indeed the judgment of reason; not that it is therefore fitted, without God, either to begin or to perform anything in matters relating to God, but only in works, pertaining to this present life whether they be good or evil. By good works I mean those which concern the goodness of nature; as to will to labor in the field, to wish meat or drink, to desire to have a friend, to desire apparal, to desire to build a house, to marry a wife, to nourish cattle, to learn the art of various good things, to desire any good thing pertaining to this present life; all of which exist only through God's order, yea, they are, and had their beginning in God and by God. Among evil things, I account such as these: to will to worship an idol; to will manslaughter, and such like.."

They reject the Pelasgians and others, who teach that by the powers of nature alone, without the Spirit of God, are we able to love God above all things; likewise to act according to the precepts of God, as touching the substance of our actions. For though nature be able in some sort to do the external works (for it is able to withhold hands from theft or murder), yet it cannot bring the inward motives such as fear of God, trust in God, chastity, patience, and such like.

Article XIX - Of the Cause of Sin.

Touching the cause of sin, they teach that, although God does create and preserve nature, still the cause of sin is the will of the wicked; to wit, of the devil and ungodly men; which will, without God's aid, turns itself from Him, as Christ said: "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own" (John viii. 44).

Article XX - Of Good Works.

Ours are wrongly accused of forbidding good works. For their writings extant upon the Ten Commandments, and others of a like argument, bear witness that they have to good purpose taught concerning every kind of life, and its duties; what kinds of life, and what works in every calling, please God. Of the things preachers in former times taught little or nothing: they only urged certain childish and useless works; as, keeping of holidays, set fasts, fraternities, pilgrimages, worshiping of saints, the use of rosaries, monkery, and such things. Whereof our adversaries having been warned, they do now unlearn them, and preach not concerning these unprofitable works, as they were wont. Besides, they begin now to make mention of faith, about which there was formerly a deep silence. They teach that we are not justified by works alone; but they conjoin faith and works, and say we are justified by faith and works. This doctrine is more tolerable than the former one, and affords more consolation than their old doctrine.

Whereas, therefore, the doctrine of faith, which should be the prime one in the Church, has been so long unknown, as all must grant, that there was the deepest silence about the righteousness of faith in their sermons, and that the doctrine of works was usual in the churches; for this cause our divines did admonish the churches thus:

First, that our works cannot reconcile God, or deserve the remission of sins, grace, and justification at His hands, but that these we obtain by grace merely, when we believe that we are received into favor for Christ's sake, who alone is appointed the Mediator and Propitiary, by whom the Father is reconciled. Therefore, he that trusteth by his works to merit grace, doth despise the merit and grace of Christ, and seeketh by his own power, without Christ, to come unto the Father; whereas Christ hath said expressly of Himself, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John xiv. 6).

This doctrine of faith is handled by Paul nearly every where: "By grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works" (Ephesians 2:8-9). And lest any here should object that we bring in a new interpretation, this whole cause is supported by testimonies of the Fathers. Augustine in many volumes doth defend grace, and the righteousness of faith, against the merit of works. The same doth Ambrose teach in his work, De Vocatione Gentium, and elsewhere; for of the calling of the Gentiles he saith thus: "The redemption made by the blood of Christ would be of small account, and the prerogative of man's works would not give place to the mercy of God, if the justification which is by grace were due to merits going before; so as it should not be the liberality of the giver, but the wages or hire of the laborer."

This doctrine, though it be despised by the unskillful, godly and fearful consciences find by experience that it bringeth great comfort: for consciences can not be quieted by any works, but by faith only, when they believe assuredly that they have a God who is propiated for Christ's sake; as Paul teacheth, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God" (Romans 5:1). This doctrine doth belong entirely to the struggles of a troubled conscience; and can not be understood, but where the conscience has felt that conflict. Wherefore, those who have had no experience thereof, and all that are profane men, who dream that Christian righteousness is nothing else than a civil and philosophical righteousness, are poor judges of this matter.

In former times men's consciences were perplexed with the doctrine of works; they did not find any comfort out of the Gospel. Whereupon consciences drove some into the desert, some into monasteries, hoping there to merit grace by a monastical life. Others devised other works, whereby to merit grace, and atone for sin. There was very great need, therefore, to teach and renew this doctrine of faith in Christ; to the end that fearful consciences might not want for comfort, but might know that grace, and forgiveness of sins, and justification, are received by faith in Jesus Christ.

We teach men another thing, which is that in this place the name of Faith doth not only mean a knowledge of the history, which may be in the wicked, and in the devil, but that it signifieth a faith which believeth, not alone the history, but also the effect of the history; to wit, the article of the remission of sins; namely, that by Christ we have grace, righteousness, and the remission of our sins. Now he that knoweth that he hath the Father merciful to him through Christ, this man knoweth God truly; he knoweth that God hath a care of him; he loveth God, and calleth upon Him; and hence he is not without God, as are the Gentiles. For the devils and the wicked can not believe this article of the forgiveness of sins; and consequently they hate God as their enemy; they call not upon him, nor look for good things from Him. In this manner doth Augustine admonish the reader touching the name of Faith, and teacheth that this word Faith is taken from the Scriptures, not for such a knowledge as is in the wicked, but for a trust, which doth console and lift up troubled minds.

Moreover, ours teach that it is necessary to do good works; not that we may trust that we merit grace by them, but because it is God's will that we should do them. By faith alone is apprehended remission of sins and grace. And because the Holy Ghost is received by faith, our hearts are now renewed, and so take on new affections, and are thus able to bring forth good works. For Ambrose saith thus: "Faith is the begetter of a good will and of good actions." For man's powers, without the Holy Ghost, are full of wicked affections, and are too feeble to perform any good work before God. For they are in the devil's power, who driveth men onward into numerous sins, into profane opinions, and into heinous crimes; as was to be seen in the philosophers, who, attempting to live an honest life, could not attain unto it, but were defiled with many heinous crimes. Such is the weakness of man, when he is without faith and the Holy Spirit, and hath no guide but the natural powers of man.

Hereby every one may see that this doctrine is not to be accused of forbidding good works; but on the other hand is much to be commended, because it showeth after what sort we must do good works. For without faith the nature of man can by no means perform the works of the First or Second Table. Without faith, it can not call upon God, hope in God, bear the cross; but seeketh help from man, and trusteth in his help. Thus it cometh to pass that all lusts and human counsel hold sway in the heart as long as faith and trust in God are wanting.

Wherefore, also, Christ saith, "Without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5), and the Church singeth, "Without thy power is naught in man, naught that is innocent."

Article XXI - Of the Worship of Saints.

Touching 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 David's example in making war to drive the Turks from his country; for either of them is a king. But Scripture teaches not to invocate saints, or to ask help of them, because it teaches there is one Christ the Mediator, High-Priest and Intercessor. This Christ is to be invocated, and he hath promised to hear our prayers, and liketh this worship especially, to wit, that he be invocated in all our afflictions. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with God, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1).

Article XXII.

This is about the sum of doctrine among us, in which can be seen there is nothing that is discrepant with the Scriptures, or with the Church Catholic, or even with the Roman Church, so far as that Church is known from writers [the writings of the Fathers]. This being the case, they judge us harshly who insist that we be regarded as heretics. But the dissension concerns certain [traditions and] abuses, which without any certain authority have crept into the churches; concerning which things, even if there were a difference, still it would be a becoming lenity on the part of the bishops if, on account of the Confession which we have presented, they would bear with us, since not even the Canons are so severe as to demand the same rites every where, nor were the rites of all churches ever the same; although among us in large part the ancient rites are diligently observed. For it is a calumny that all ceremonies, all things instituted of old, are abolished in our churches. But the public complaint was that certain abuses were connected with the rites in common use. These, because they could not conscientiously be approved, have to a certain extent been corrected.

Part Second.

Articles in which are recounted the abuses which have been corrected

Inasmuch as the churches among us dissent in no article of faith [the holy Scriptures, or] the Church Catholic [the Universal Christian Church], and omit only a few of certain abuses, which are unique [in part have crept in with time, in part introduced with violence], and, contrary to the design of the Canons, have been received by the fault of the times, we beseech that Your Imperial Majesty would clemently hear both what ought to be changed and what the reasons are that people ought not to be forced against their consciences to observe those abuses.

Nor should your Imperial Majesty have faith in those who, that they may inflame the hatred of men against us, scatter amazing slanders among the people. In this way, the minds of good men being angered at the outset, they gave occasion to this dissension, and by the same arts they now endeavor to increase the discord. For without a doubt Your Imperial Majesty will find that the form, both of the doctrines and ceremonies, among us is far more tolerable than that which these wicked and malicious men describe. Moreover, the truth, can not be gleaned from common rumors, and the reproaches of enemies. But it is easy to judge that nothing is more conducive to preserve the dignity of ceremonies and to nurture reverence and piety among the people than that the ceremonies should be rightly performed in the churches.

Article II - Of the Marriage of Priests.

There was a universal complaint of the examples of such priests as were not temperate. For which cause Pope Pius is reported to have said, that "there were certain causes for which marriage was forbidden to priests, but there were many weightier causes why it should be permitted again;" for so Platina writeth. Whereas, therefore, the priests in our midst seek to avoid these public offenses, and have taught that it is lawful for them to enter into marriage. First, because that Paul saith, "To avoid fornication, let every man have his wife;" again, "It is better to marry than to burn" (1 Corinthians 7:2, 9). Secondly, Christ saith, "All men can not receive this word" (Matthew 29:2); where He showeth that all men are not fit for a single life, because that God created mankind male and female (Genesis 1:28). Nor is it in man's power, without a special gift and work of God, to alter his creation. Therefore such as are not meet for a single life should contract marriage. For no law of man, no vow, can take away the commandment of God and His ordinance. By these reasons the priests do prove that they may lawfully take wives. And it is well known that in the ancient churches priests were married. For Paul hath said, "That a bishop must be chosen which is a husband." (1 Timothy 3:2). And in Germany, not until four hundred years ago, the priests were compelled by violence to live a single life; who then were so wholly determined in this matter that the Archbishop of Mentz, being about to publish the Pope of Rome's decree to that effect, was almost murdered in a tumult by the priests in their anger. And the matter was dealt with so rudely, that not only were marriages forbidden for the time to come, but such as were then contracted were broken asunder, contrary to all laws divine and human, contrary to the Canons themselves, that had been made not only by popes but by most famous Councils. And seeing that, as the world decayeth, man's nature little by little waxeth weaker, it is well to look to it, that no more vices spread o'er Germany. Furthermore, God ordained marriage as a remedy for man's infirmity. The Canons themselves do say that the old rigor is now and then in latter times to be released because of man's weakness. Which it were to be hoped might be done in this matter also. And if marriage be forbidden longer, the churches may at length want pastors.

Seeing, then, that this is a plain commandment of God; seeing the use of the Church is well known; seeing that impure single life bringeth forth many great offenses, adulteries, and other enormities worthy to be punished by the godly magistrate, it is a wonder that greater cruelty should be shown in no other thing than against the marriage of priests. God hath commanded to honor marriage; the laws in all well-ordered communities, even among heathens, have invested marriage with very great honors. But now men are cruelly put to death, and priests also, contrary to the mind of the Canons, for no other cause than marriage. Paul calleth that "a doctrine of devils" which forbiddeth marriage (1 Timothy 4:1, 3); which may now very readily be seen, since the forbidding of marriage is maintained by such punishments.

And as no law of man can take away the law of God neither can any vow whatsoever. Therefore Cyprian also giveth counsel, that those women should marry who do not keep their vowed chastity. These are his words, in the First Book, the 2d Epistle: "If they will not, or are not able to endure, it is far better that they should marry than that they should fall into the fire by their importunae desires. In any wise let them give no offense to their brethren or sisters." Yea, even the Canons show some sort of justice towards such as before their ripe years did vow chastity, as heretofore the use hath for the most part been.

Article III - Of the Mass.

Our churches are wrongfully accused of having abolished the Mass. For the Mass is still retained among us, and celebrated with great reverence; yea, and almost all the ceremonies that are in use, except that with the things sung in Latin, we mingle certain things sung in German at various parts of the service, which are added for the people's instruction. For therefore alone we have need of ceremonies, that we may instruct the unlearned.

This is not only commanded by St. Paul, to use a tongue that the people understand (1 Corinthians 14:9), but man's law hath also appointed it. We accustom the people to receive the Sacrament in a body, if any be found fit thereunto; and that is a thing that doth increase the reverence and estimation of the public ceremonies. For none are admitted, except they be first proved. Besides, we put men in mind of the worthiness and use of the Sacrament, what great comfort it bringeth to timid consciences; that they may learn to believe God, and to look for and crave all good things from Him.

This worship pleases God; such a use of the Sacrament doth nourish piety towards Him. Therefore it seemeth not that Masses be more religiously celebrated among our adversaries than with us.

But it is evident that for long this hath been the public and most grievous complaint of all good men, that Masses are basely profaned, being used for gain. And it is not unknown to what extent this abuse hath spread itself in all churches; of what manner of men Masses are used, only for reward, or for wages; and how many do use them against the prohibition of the Canons. But Paul doth grievously threaten those that use the Lord's Supper unworthily, when he says, "He that eateth this bread or drinketh this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:27). Therefore, when the priests among us were admonished of this sin, private Masses were discontinued among us, seeing that for the most part there were no private Masses but for the sake of lucre. Nor were the bishops in ignorance of these abuses, and if they had amended them in time there would now be less of dissension. Heretofore, by their dissembling, they allowed much corruption to creep into the Church; now they begin, though late, to complain of the calamities of the Church; seeing that this tumult was raised by no other means than by those abuses, which were so evident that they could no longer be tolerated. There were numerous dissensions, concerning the Mass and the Sacrament. And perhaps the world is punished for so long a profaning of Masses, which they, who could and ought to have amended it, have so long tolerated in the churches. For in the Ten Commandments it is written, "He that taketh in vain the name of the Lord shall not be held guiltless" (Exodus 20:7). And from the beginning of the world there neither was nor is any divine thing which seems so to have been employed for gain as the Mass.

There was added an opinion which increased private Masses infinitely: to wit, that Christ by His passion did satisfy for original sin, and appointed the Mass, wherein an oblation should be made for daily sins, both mortal and venial. Whereupon a common opinion was received, that the Mass is a work that taketh away the sins of the living and the dead, and that for the doing of the work. Then men began to dispute whether one Mass said for many were of as great force as particular Masses said for particular persons. The disputation hath brought forth that infinite multitude of Masses. Our preachers have admonished concerning these opinions that they depart from the holy Scriptures, and diminish the glory of the passion of Christ. For the passion of Christ was an oblation and satisfaction, not only for original sin, but also for all other sins; and it is written in the Epistle to the Hebrews (10:10): "We are sanctified by the oblation of Jesus Christ once made;" also, "By one oblation he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14). The 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 does take away the sins of the living and the dead, even for the work's sake that is done, then justification cometh by the work of Masses, and not by faith; which the Scripture can not endure. But Christ commandeth us "to do it remembrance of himself" (Luke 22:19), therefore the Mass has been instituted that faith in them which use the Sacrament may remember what benefits it receiveth by Christ, and that it may raise and comfort the fearful conscience. For this is to remember Christ, to wit, to remember his benefits, and to feel and perceive that they be indeed imparted to us. Nor is to enough to call to mind the history; because that the Jews also and the wicked can do. Therefore the Mass must be used for this purpose, that there the Sacrament may be reached unto them that have need of comfort; as Ambrose saith, "Because I do always sin, therefore I ought always to receive the medicine."

And seeing that the Mass is such a communion of the Sacrament, we do observe one common Mass on every holiday, and on other days, if any will use the Sacrament, at which times it is offered to those that desire it. Nor is this custom newly brought into the Church. For the ancients, before Gregory's time, make no mention of any private Mass; of the common Mass they often speak. Chrysostom saith that, "the priest doth daily stand at the altar, and call some unto the Communion, and put back others." And by the ancient Canons it is evident that some one did celebrate the Mass, of whom the other elders and deacons did receive the body of our Lord. For so the words of the Nicene Canon do sound: "Let the deacons in their order, after the elders, receive the holy Communion of a bishop, or of an elder." And Paul, concerning the Communion, commandeth, "that one tarry for another" (1 Corinthians 11:33), that thus there may be a common participation.

Therefore, seeing that the Mass amongst us hath the example of the Church, out of the Scripture, and the Fathers, we trust that it can not be disapproved; especially since our public ceremonies are kept, for the most part, like unto the usual ceremonies; only the number of the Masses is not the same, which, by reason of very great and manifest abuses, it were certainly far better to be moderated. For in times past also, in churches whereunto was greatest resort, it was not usual to have Mass every day, as the Tripartite History, lib. ix. cap. 38, doth testify. "Again," saith it, "in Alexandria, every fourth and sixth day of the week the Scriptures are read, and the doctors do interpret them; and all other things are done also, except only the celebration of the Eucharist."

Article IV - Of Confession.

Confession is not abolished in our churches. For it is not usual to communicate the body of our Lord but to those who have been previously examined and absolved. And the people are taught most carefully concerning the faith required to absolution, about which before this time there has been deep silence. Men are taught to highly regard absolution, inasmuch as it is God's voice, and pronounced by God's command.

The power of the keys is honored, and mention is made how great comfort it brings to fearful consciences, and that God requires faith that we believe that absolution is a voice sounding from heaven, and that this faith in Christ really obtains and receives the remission of sins.

Aforetime satisfactions were immoderately extolled; of faith, and the merit of Christ, and justification by faith, no mention was made. Wherefore on this point our churches are by no means to blame. For this even our adversaries are compelled to concede in regard to us, that the doctrine of repentance is most diligently treated and laid open by us.

But of Confession our churches teach that the enumerating of sins is not necessary, nor are our consciences to be burdened with the cares of enumerating all sins, as it is impossible to name all sins, as the Psalm testifies: "Who can understand his errors?" So also Jeremiah (17:9): "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" But if no sins were remitted but what were recounted, consciences could never find rest, because very many sins they neither see nor can remember.

The ancient writers likewise testify that the enumeration is not necessary. For in the Decrees Chrysostom is cited, who thus speaks: "I do not say to thee that thou shouldst discover thyself in public, or accuse thyself before others, but I would have thee obey the prophet when he says: 'Reveal thy way unto the Lord.' Therefore with prayer confess thy sins before God, the true Judge. Pronounce thine errors, not with the tongue, but with the memory of thy conscience." And the Gloss (Of Repentance, Dist. V., Chap. Consideret), admits that Confession is of human right only [is not commanded in Scripture, but has been instituted by the Church].

Notwithstanding, on account of the very great benefit of absolution, as well as for other uses to the conscience, we retain Confession among us.

Article VI - Of Monastic Vows.

What is taught among us concerning the Vows of Monks will be better understood if one call to mind what was the state of monasteries, and how many acts were every day committed in the monasteries contrary to the Canons. In Augustine's time cloister-fraternities were free; but later, when discipline was corrupted, vows were every where laid upon them, that, as it were in a newly devised prison, the discipline might again be restored.

Over and besides vows many other observances little by little were added. And these bands and snares were laid upon many, before they came to ripe years, and contrary to the Canons.

Many through error fell into this kind of life unawares, who, though they wanted not years, yet were wanting in discretion to judge of their strength and ability. They who were once got within these nets were constrained to abide in them, though, by the benefits of the Canons, some might be set at liberty. And that fell out rather in the monasteries of nuns than of monks, though the weaker sex ought more to have been spared.

The rigor and severity displeased many good men heretofore, when they saw young maids and young men shoved into monasteries, there to get their living. They saw the unhappy issue this counsel had, what offenses it bred, and what snares it laid upon consciences. They were grieved that the authority of the Canons was entirely neglected and contemned in a thing so dangerous.

To all these evils there was added such a persuasion concerning vows as did in former times, it is well known, displease the monks themselves, if any were somewhat wiser than the rest. They taught that vows were equal to baptism; they taught that by this sort of life they obtained the remission of sins and justification before God; yea, they added that the monk's life did not only merit righteousness in the sight of God, but more than that, because it observed not only the commandments, but likewise the counsels of the Gospel. And thus they taught that the monk's profession was better than baptism; that the monk's life did merit more than the life of magistrates, of pastors, and such like, who, in obedience to God's commandment, followed their vocation without any such religions of man's making.

None of these things can be denied; they can be seen in their writings.

What occurred later in the monasteries? In olden time they were schools for the study of sacred letters, and other branches of learning, which were profitable to the Church; and thence were pastors and bishops taken; but now the case is changed. It is needless to rehearse what is notorious. In olden times they came together into such places to learn; but now they feign that it is a kind of life taken up to merit remission of sins and justification; yea, they say it is a state of perfection, and prefer it to all other kinds of life, the kinds ordained by God.

We have therefore mentioned these things, not to excite odium, exaggerating nothing, to the end that the doctrine of our churches concerning this subject, might be understood.

First, concerning such as contract marriage, thus they teach among us: that it is lawful for those to marry who are not adapted to a single life; forasmuch as vows cannot take away God's ordinance and commandment. The commandment of God is, "To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife" (1 Corinthians 7:2). And not alone the commandment, but also the creation and ordinance of God, compelleth such unto marriage as without the special work of God are not exempted; in accordance with that saying, "It is not good for a man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). They, therefore, that obey this commandment and ordinance of God do not err.

What can be said against these things? Let a man exaggerate the bond of a vow as much as he will, still he can not bring to pass that the vow shall take away the commandment of God. The Canons teach, "that in every vow the right of the superior is excepted;" much less, therefore, can these vows, which are contrary to God's commandment, be of force.

If it be so that the obligation of vows has no causes why it might be changed, then could not the Roman pontiffs have dispensed with them. For neither is it lawful for man to disannul that bond which doth simply belong to the law of God. But the Roman pontiffs have judged very wisely, that in this obligation equity must be used; therefore they often, as we read, have dispensed with vows. The history of the king of Arragon, being called back out of a monastery, is well known; and in our own time there are examples.

Second, why do our adversaries exaggerate the obligation or effect of the vow, when in the meantime they speak not a word of the very nature of a vow, that it ought to be in a thing possible, voluntary, and taken up of a man's free will, and with deliberation? But it is not unknown how far perpetual chastity is in the power of man. And how many a one among them is there that doth vow of his own accord and well advised? Maidens and youths are persuaded, before they know how to judge, yea, sometimes also compelled to vow.

Wherefore it is not right to dispute so rigorously of the obligation, seeing that all men admit that it is against the nature of a vow, that it is not done of a man's own accord, nor advisedly.

The Canons for the most part disannual vows made before fifteen years old; because before one comes to that age there seemeth not to be so much judgment to determine concerning a perpetual life. Another Canon, allowing more to the weakness of men, doth add some years more; for it forbiddeth a vow to be made before one reaches the eighteenth year. But which of these shall be followed? The greater part have this excuse for forsaking monasteries, for most of them vowed before they came of age.

Lastly, even though the breaking of a vow were reprehended, yet it seems not to follow directly that the marriages of such persons are to be dissolved. For Augustine, in his 27th quest. 1st chapter Of Marriages, doth deny that they should be dissolved; and his authority is not lightly to be esteemed, although others later have thought differently.

And though the commandment of God concerning wedlock doth free most men from vows, yet our teachers do also bring another reason regarding vows, to prove that they are void: because that all the worship of God, instituted by men without the commandment of God, and chosen to obtain remission of sins and justification, is wicked; as Christ saith: "In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). And Paul doth everywhere teach that righteousness is not to be sought of our own observances, and services which are devised by men; but that it cometh by faith to such that believe they are received into favor by Him for Christ's sake.

But it is evident that the monks did teach that these spurious religions 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? Wherefore it followeth that these common vows were wicked services, and are therefore null. For a wicked vow, and that which is made against the commandment of God, is of no force; nor, as the Canon saith, ought a vow to be a bond of iniquity.

Paul saith, "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4). They, therefore, who wish to be justified by vows, are made void of Christ, and fall from grace. For they who attribute justification to their vows, attribute to their own acts what justly belongs to the glory of Christ. Nor truly can it be denied that the monks taught that they are justified by their vows and observances, and merit the remission of sins; nay, they invented even greater absurdities, and said they were able to transfer their good works to others. If any man wished to expand these things, so as to excite odium, how many things might he rehearse whereof the monks themselves are now ashamed.

Moreover, they would persuade men that these invented religious orders are a state of Christian perfection. And is this not attributing justification to works? It is no small offense in the Church to propound unto the people a certain service devised by men, without the commandment of God, and to teach that such a service doth justify men; because that the righteousness of faith, which ought especially to be taught in the Church, is obscured, when those marvelous religions of the angels, the pretense of poverty and humility, and celibacy, are spread before men's eyes.

Further, the commandments of God, and His true worship, are obscured when men hear that monks alone are in that state of perfection; because Christian perfection is to fear God sincerely, and again, to conceive great faith, and to trust assuredly that God is reconciled towards us for Christ's sake; to ask, and certainly expect, help from God in all things, according to our calling; and outwardly to do good works diligently, and to attend to our vocation. In these things doth true perfection and true worship of God consist: it doth not consist in singleness of life, in poverty, or in vile apparel.

The people doth also conceive many pernicious opinions from these false commendations of the life in the monastery. They hear celibacy praised above measure; therefore with offense of conscience they live in wedlock. They hear that mendicants alone are perfect; hence with offense of conscience they keep their possessions, and buy and sell. They hear that the Gospel alone giveth counsel not to take revenge; therefore some in private life are not afraid to avenge themselves; for they hear that it is a counsel, not a command. Others think that all magistracy and civil offices are unworthy Christian men.

We read examples of men who, forsaking wedlock, and leaving the government of the commonwealth, have hid themselves in the monastery. This they called flying out of the world, and seeking a sort of life which is more acceptable to God; nor did they see that God is to be served in those commandments which He Himself hath delivered, not in the commandments which have been devised by men. That is a good and perfect kind of life which hath been commanded by God; it is necessary to admonish men of these things. And before these times Gerson did reprehend this error of the monks concerning perfection; and witnesseth, that in his time this was a new saying, that the monastic life is a state of perfection.

Thus many wicked opinions cleave fast to vows: as that they merit remission of sins and justification, that they are Christian perfection, that they do keep the counsels and commandments, that they have works of supererogation. All these things (being false and vain) make vows to be of no effect.

Article VII - Of Ecclesiastical Power.

There have been great controversies upon the power of bishops, in which many have disadvantageously mingled the ecclesiastical power and the power of the sword.

And from this confusion there have sprung many great wars and tumults, while that the pontiffs, trusting in the power of the keys, have not only applied new kinds of service, and burdened men's consciences by reserving of cases, and violent excommunications; but have also endeavored to transfer worldly kingdoms from one to another, and to despoil emperors of their power and authority.

These errors did godly and learned men long since reprehend in the Church; and for that reason our teachers were compelled, for the comfort of men's consciences, to show the difference between the ecclesiastical power and that of the sword. And they have taught that both of them, because of God's commandment, are dutifully to be reverenced and honored, as the greatest blessings of God upon earth.

Now their judgment is this: that the power of the keys, or the power of bishops, by the rule of the Gospel, is a power or commandment from God, of preaching the Gospel, of remitting or retaining sins, and of administering the Sacraments. For Christ doth send His Apostles with this charge: "As the 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" (John 10:21-23). "Go, and preach the Gospel to every creature," etc. (Mark 16:15).

This power is put into execution either by teaching or preaching the Word and administering the Sacraments, to many or to single individuals, according to their call. For thereby not corporal things, but eternal, are granted; as an eternal righteousness, the Holy Spirit, life everlasting. These things cannot be obtained but by the ministry of the Word and of the Sacraments, as Paul saith, "The Gospel is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16).

Finding, then, that the ecclesiastical power concerneth things eternal, and is exercised only by the ministry of the Word, it interfereth not with the political government any more than the art of singing hinders political government. For the political administration is occupied about other matters than is the Gospel. The magistracy defends not the minds, but the bodies, and bodily things, against manifest injuries; and coerces men by the sword and corporal punishments, thus upholding civil justice and peace.

Wherefore the ecclesiastical and civil powers are not to be confused. The ecclesiastical power hath its own commandment to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments. Let it not by force enter into the office of another; let it not transfer worldly kingdoms; let it not abrogate the magistrates' laws; let it not withdraw from them lawful obedience; let it not hinder judgments concerning civil ordinances or contracts; let it not prescribe laws to the magistrate touching the form of the republic; as Christ saith, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 118:36). Again, "Who made me a judge or a divider over you?" (Luke 12:14). And Paul saith, "Our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20). "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, casting down imaginations," etc. (2 Corinthians 10:4). In this way do our teachers distinguish between the duties of each power one from another, and do warn all men to honor both powers, and to acknowledge both to be the [highest] gift and blessing of God.

If it be so that the bishops have any power of the sword, they have it not as bishops by the commandment of the Gospel, but by man's law given unto them by kings and emperors for the civil government of their goods. This, however, is a kind of function diverse from the ministry of the Gospel.

Therefore, when the question concerns the jurisdiction of bishops, government must be distinguished from ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Again, by the Gospel, or, as they call it, by divine right, bishops, as bishops - meaning those who have the administration of the Word and Sacraments committed to them - have no other jurisdiction at all, but alone to remit sin, also to take cognizance of, that is, to judge regarding, doctrine, and to reject doctrine not consistent with the Gospel, and to exclude from the communion of the Church, without human force, but by the Word of God, those whose wickedness is known; and herein of necessity the churches ought by divine right to render obedience unto them, according to the saying of Christ, "He that heareth you heareth me" (Luke 10:16).

But when they teach or decide on anything contrary to the Gospel, then the churches have a commandment of God, which forbiddeth obedience to them: "Beware of false prophets" (Matthew 8:15.) "If an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8). "We can not do any thing against the truth, but for the truth" (2 Corinthians 13:8). Also, "This power is given us to edify, and not to destroy" (2 Corinthians 13:10). So do the Canons command (II. Quaest. G, Cap. Sacerdotes, and Cap. Oves). And Augustine, in his Treatise against Petilian's Epistle, saith, "Neither must we subscribe to Catholic bishops, if they chance to err, or determine any thing contrary to the canonical divine Scriptures."

If it be so that they have any other power or jurisdiction, in hearing and understanding certain cases, as, namely, of matrimony, tithes, etc., they hold it by human right. But when the ordinaries fail to attend to this office, princes are constrained, whether they wish to do so or not, to declare such law to their subjects, to maintain the peace.

Besides these things, there is a controversy as to whether bishops or pastors have the power to institute ceremonies in the Church, and to make laws concerning meats, holidays, and degrees, or orders of ministers, and so forth. They that ascribe this power to bishops allege this testimony in support of it: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye can not bear them now; but when that Spirit of truth shall come, he shall teach you all truth" (John 16:12, 13). They also allege the examples of the Apostles, who commanded to abstain from blood, and that which was strangled (Acts 15:29). They allege the changing of the Sabbath into the Lord's day, contrary, as it seemeth, to the Decalogue; and they have no example more in their mouths than the change of the Sabbath. They will needs have the power to be very great, because it hath done away with a precept of the Decalogue.

But of this question thus do ours teach: that the bishops have not the power to ordain anything contrary to the Gospel, as was showed before. Likewise do the Canons teach: Distinct. 9. Moreover, it is contrary to Scripture to ordain or require the observance of any traditions, to the end that we may merit remission of sins, and satisfy for sins through them. For the glory of Christ's merit suffers when we seek by such observances to merit justification. And it is very apparent that through this persuasion traditions grew into infinite numbers in the Church. In the meantime, the doctrine concerning faith, and the righteousness of faith, was entirely suppressed, for thereupon there were no new holidays made, new fasts appointed, new ceremonies, new worships for saints instituted; because the authors of these things supposed by such works to obtain grace. In like manner heretofore did the Penitential Canons increase, of which we still see some traces in satisfactions.

Moreover, the authors of traditions do contrary to God's command when they find matters of sin in foods, in days, and such things, and burden the Church with the servitude of the law, as if there should be among Christians, in order to merit justification, a service like the Levitical, the ordination of which God has committed to the Apostles and bishops. For this some of them write, and the pontiffs to some extent seem to be misled by the example of the Law of Moses. From hence are those burdens, that it is mortal sin even without offending others, to do manual labor on the festivals, that it is mortal sin to omit the Canonical Hours, that certain foods defile the conscience, that fastings are works which satisfy God; that sin, in a reserved case, cannot be pardoned but by the authority of him that reserved it; whereas the Canons speak only of reserving of ecclesiastical penalty, and not of the reserving of the fault.

Whence, then, have the bishops the power and authority of imposing upon the churches these traditions, for the ensnaring of men's consciences, when Peter forbids (Acts 15:10) "to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples," and St. Paul said (2 Corinthians 13:10) that the power given to him was to edification, not to destruction? Why, then, do they increase sins by these traditions?

For there are divers clear testimonies which forbid the making of these traditions, either to obtain grace, or as things necessary to salvation. Paul saith to the Colossians, "Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in regard to a holiday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days" (Colossians 2:16). Again, "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 indeed have a show of wisdom" (Colossians 2:20-23). And to Titus doth he clearly forbid traditions; for he saith, "Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and to commandments of men, that turn from the truth" (Titus 1:14). And Christ saith of them which urge traditions, "Let them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind" (Matthew 15:14). And he condemneth such services: "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up" (verse 13).

If bishops have authority to burden the churches with numerous traditions, and to ensnare men's consciences, why doth the Scripture so often forbid to make and to listen to traditions? Why doth it call them the doctrines of devils? (1 Timothy 4:1.) Hath the Holy Spirit warned us of them to no purpose?

It remaineth, then, that seeing ordinances, instituted as necessary, or with the opinion of meriting grace, are repugnant to the Gospel, it is unlawful for any bishops to institute or exact such worship. For it is necessary that the doctrine of Christian liberty should be maintained in the churches [Christendom]; that the bondage of the law is unnecessary unto justification, as it is written to the Galatians: "Be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). It is necessary that the chiefest point of all the Gospel should be holden fast, that we do freely obtain grace, by faith in Christ, not by services instituted by men.

What is, then, to be thought of the Lord's day, and like rites of temples? Hereunto they [ours] reply, that it is lawful for bishops or pastors to make ordinances whereby things may be done in order in the Church; not that by them we may merit grace, or satisfy for sins, or that men's consciences should be bound to esteem them as necessary services, and think that they err when they violate them, without offending others. So Paul ordained, "that women should cover their heads in the congregation" (1 Corinthians 11:6); "that the interpreters of Scripture should be heard in order in the Church" (1 Corinthians 14:27), etc.

These ordinances it behooveth the churches to keep for charity and quietness' sake, so that one offend not the other, that all things may be done in order, and without disturbance in the churches (1 Corinthians 14:4 and Philippians 2:14), but so that consciences be not burdened, so as to account them as things necessary to salvation, and think they sin when they violate them, without offense to others; as no one would say that a woman sins if she went into public with her head uncovered, providing it were without the offense of men.

Such is the observance of the Lord's day, Easter, Pentecost, and other holidays and rites. For they that think that the observation of the Lord's day was appointed by the authority of the Church, instead of the Sabbath, as necessary, are greatly mistaken. The Scripture, which teacheth that all the Mosaical ceremonies can be omitted after the Gospel is revealed, has abrogated the Sababth. And still, because it was required to appoint a certain day, that the people might know when they should come together, it seems that the Christian Church did for that purpose appoint the Lord's day: which for this cause also appears to have been pleasing, that men might have an example of Christian liberty, and might know that the observation, neither of the Sabbath, nor of another day, was necessary.

There are certain wonderful disputations concerning the changing of the law, and the ceremonies of the new law, and the changing of the Sabbath; which all arose from the false persuasion, that there should be a ceremony in the Church, like unto the Levitical; and that Christ committed to the Apostles and bishops the devising of new ceremonies, which should be necessary to salvation. These errors crept into the Church, when the righteousness of faith was not clearly enough taught. Some dispute that the observation of the Lord's day is not indeed of the law of God, but as it were of the law of God; and touching holidays, they prescribe how far it is lawful to work in them. What else are these disputations but snares for men's consciences? For though they seek to moderate traditions, still the equity of them can never be perceived as long as the opinion of necessity remaineth; which must needs remain, where the righteousness of faith and Christian freedom are unknown.

The Apostles commanded "to abstain from blood" (Acts 15:20). Who observeth this nowadays? And still they do not sin that do not observe it. For the Apostles themselves would not burden men's minds with such a servitude, but they forbade it for a while, for fear of scandal. For in the decree, the will of the Gospel is always to be considered.

Scarcely any Canons are precisely kept; and many grow out of use daily, yes, even among those that do most busily defend traditions. Nor can there be sufficient care had of men's consciences, except this equity be kept, that men should know that such rites are not to be observed with any opinion of necessity, and that men's consciences are not harmed, though traditions grow out of use.

The bishops might easily retain lawful obedience, if they would not urge men to observe such traditions as cannot be kept with a good conscience. Now they command single life; and they admit none, except they will swear not to teach the pure doctrine of the Gospel. The churches do not desire of the bishops that they would repair peace and concord with the loss of their honor (which yet good pastors should do): they merely desire that they should remit unjust burdens, which are both new and received contrary to the custom of the Catholic [Christian Universal] Church. It may well be that some constitutions had some probable reasons when they began, which yet will not agree to latter times. It is plain that some were received through error. Wherefore it were a matter for the pontifical gentleness to mitigate them now; for such a change would not overthrow the unity of the Church. For numerous human traditions have been changed in time, as the Canons themselves declare. But if it can not be obtained that those observances may be relaxed which can not be kept without sin, then must we follow the rule of the Apostles, which willeth "to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

Peter forbiddeth bishops to be lords, and to be imperious over the churches (1 Peter 5:3). Now our meaning is not to have rule taken from the bishops; but this one thing alone is requested at their hands, that they would suffer the Gospel to be purely taught, and would relax a few of the observances, which cannot be held without sin. But if they will remit none, let them look how they will give account to God for it, that by their stubbornness they afford cause of schism [division and schism, which it were yet fit they should aid in avoiding].


These are the principal articles which seem to be matters of controversy. For although we might speak of more abuses, yet that we may avoid undue length we have embraced a few, whereby it is easy to judge of the balance. Great have been the complaints about indulgences, about pilgrimages, about the abuse of excommunication. The parishes have been vexed in many ways by the stationarii. Endless disputes have arisen between the pastors and the monks about parochial law, about confession, about burials, about sermons on extraordinary occasions, and about numerous other things. Things of this kind we pass over, that those which are chief in this matter, being briefly set forth, may more easily be noted. Nor has anything been here said or adduced for the purpose of casting reproach on any one. Those things only have been enumerated which it appeared necessary to say, that it might be understood that in doctrine and ceremonials among us there is nothing received contrary to the Scripture or to the Catholic [Universal Christian] Church, inasmuch as it is manifest that we have diligently taken heed that no new and godless doctrines could creep into our churches.

According to the edict of His Imperial Majesty, we wish to present these articles above written, in which is our Confession, and in which can be seen a summary of the doctrine of those who teach among us. If anything be lacking in this Confession, we are prepared, God willing, to present fuller information, in accordance with the Scriptures.

Your Imperial Majesty's most faithful and humble,

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

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." Romans 13:1-7 KJV

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