Index of Doctrinal Points
Article XVIII: Of Free Will.
Of Free Will they teach that man's will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and
to work things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness
of God, that is, spiritual righteousness; since the natural man receiveth not the things of the
Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:14, but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy Ghost is
received through the Word. These things are said in as many words by Augustine in his Hypognosticon,
Book III: We grant that all men have a free will, free, inasmuch as it has the judgment of reason;
not that it is thereby capable, without God, either to begin, or, at least, to complete aught in
things pertaining to God, but only in works of this life, whether good or evil. "Good"
I call those works which spring from the good in nature, such as, willing to labor in the field, to
eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle,
to learn divers useful arts, or whatsoever good pertains to this life. For all of these things
are not without dependence on the providence of God; yea, of Him and through Him they are and have
their being. "Evil" I call such works as willing to worship an idol, to commit murder, etc.
They condemn the Pelagians and others, who teach that without the Holy Ghost, by the power
of nature alone, we are able to love God above all things; also to do the commandments of God as
touching "the substance of the act." For, although nature is able in a manner to do the
outward work, (for it is able to keep the hands from theft and murder,) yet it cannot produce the
inward motions, such as the fear of God, trust in God, chastity, patience, etc.
Article XIX: Of the Cause of Sin.
Of the Cause of Sin they teach that, although God does create and preserve nature, yet the cause
of sin is the will of the wicked, that is, of the devil and ungodly men; which will, unaided of God,
turns itself from God, as Christ says John 8:44, When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his
Article XX: Of Good Works.
Our teachers are falsely accused of forbidding Good Works. For their published writings on
he Ten Commandments, and others of like import, bear witness that they have taught to good purpose
concerning all estates and duties of life, as to what estates of life and what works in every calling
be pleasing to God. Concerning these things preachers heretofore taught but little, and urged
only childish and needless works, as particular holy-days, particular fasts, brotherhoods, pilgrimages,
services in honor of saints, the use of rosaries, monasticism, and such like. Since our adversaries
have been admonished of these things, they are now unlearning them, and do not preach these unprofitable
works as heretofore. Besides, they begin to mention faith, of which there was heretofore marvelous
silence. They teach that we are justified not by works only, but they conjoin faith and works, and
say that we are justified by faith and works. This doctrine is more tolerable than the former one,
and can afford more consolation than their old doctrine.
Forasmuch, therefore, as the doctrine concerning faith, which ought to be the chief one in
the Church, has lain so long unknown, as all must needs grant that there was the deepest silence
in their sermons concerning the righteousness of faith, while only the doctrine of works was treated
in the churches, our teachers have instructed the churches concerning faith as follows:-
First, that our works cannot reconcile God or merit forgiveness of sins, grace, and justification,
but that we obtain this only by faith when we believe that we are received into favor for Christ's
sake, who alone has been set forth the Mediator and Propitiation, 1 Tim. 2:5, in order that the
Father may be reconciled through Him. Whoever, therefore, trusts that by works he merits grace,
despises the merit and grace of Christ, and seeks a way to God without Christ, by human strength,
although Christ has said of Himself: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. John 14:6.
This doctrine concerning faith is everywhere treated by Paul, Eph. 2:8, By grace are ye
saved through faith; and that not of your selves; it is the gift of God, not of works, etc.
And lest any one should craftily say that a new interpretation of Paul has been devised by
us, this entire matter is supported by the testimonies of the Fathers. For Augustine, in many
volumes, defends grace and the righteousness of faith, over against the merits of works. And
Ambrose, in his De Vocatione Gentium, and elsewhere, teaches to like effect. For in his De Vocatione
Gentium he says as follows: Redemption by the blood of Christ would become of little value, neither
would the preeminence of man's works be superseded by the mercy of God, if justification, which is
wrought through grace, were due to the merits going before, so as to be, not the free gift of a donor,
but the reward due to the laborer.
But, although this doctrine is despised by the inexperienced, nevertheless God-fearing and
anxious consciences find by experience that it brings the greatest consolation, because consciences
cannot be set at rest through any works, but only by faith, when they take the sure ground that for
Christ's sake they have a reconciled God. As Paul teaches Rom. 5:1, Being justified by faith, we
have peace with God. This whole doctrine is to be referred to that conflict of the terrified
conscience, neither can it be understood apart from that conflict. Therefore inexperienced and
profane men judge ill concerning this matter, who dream that Christian righteousness is nothing but
civil and philosophical righteousness.
Heretofore consciences were plagued with the doctrine of works, they did not hear the consolation
from the Gospel. Some persons were driven by conscience into the desert, into monasteries hoping
there to merit grace by a monastic life. Some also devised other works whereby to merit grace
and make satisfaction for sins. Hence there was very great need to treat of, and renew, this
doctrine of faith in Christ, to the end that anxious consciences should not be without consolation
but that they might know that grace and forgiveness of sins and justification are apprehended by
faith in Christ.
Men are also admonished that here the term "faith" does not signify merely the
knowledge of the history, such as is in the ungodly and in the devil, but signifies a faith which
believes, not merely the history, but also the effect of the history-namely, this article: the forgiveness
of sins, to wit, that we have grace, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins through Christ.
Now he that knows that he has a Father gracious to him through Christ, truly knows God; he
knows also that God cares for him, and calls upon God; in a word, he is not without God, as the
heathen. For devils and the ungodly are not able to believe this article: the forgiveness of sins.
Hence, they hate God as an enemy, call not upon Him, and expect no good from Him. Augustine also
admonishes his readers concerning the word "faith," and teaches that the term "faith"
is accepted in the Scriptures not for knowledge such as is in the ungodly but for confidence which
consoles and encourages the terrified mind.
Furthermore, it is taught on our part that it is necessary to do good works, not that we
should trust to merit grace by them, but because it is the will of God. It is only by faith that
forgiveness of sins is apprehended, and that, for nothing. And because through faith the Holy
Ghost is received, hearts are renewed and endowed with new affections, so as to be able to bring
forth good works. For Ambrose says: Faith is the mother of a good will and right doing. For
man's powers without the Holy Ghost are full of ungodly affections, and are too weak to do works
which are good in God's sight. Besides, they are in the power of the devil who impels men to
divers sins, to ungodly opinions, to open crimes. This we may see in the philosophers, who,
although they endeavored to live an honest life could not succeed, but were defiled with many
open crimes. Such is the feebleness of man when he is without faith and without the Holy Ghost,
and governs himself only by human strength.
Hence it may be readily seen that this doctrine is not to be charged with prohibiting good
works, but rather the more to be commended, because it shows how we are enabled to do good works.
For without faith human nature can in no wise do the works of the First or of the Second Commandment.
Without faith it does not call upon God, nor expect anything from God, nor bear the cross, but
seeks, and trusts in, man's help. And thus, when there is no faith and trust in God all manner of
lusts and human devices rule in the heart. Wherefore Christ said, John 15:5, Without Me ye can do
nothing; and the Church sings:
Lacking Thy divine favor,
There is nothing found in man,
him is harmless.
Article XXI: Of the Worship of the Saints.
Of the Worship of Saints they teach that the memory of saints may be set before
us, that we may follow their faith and good works, according to our calling, as the Emperor may
follow the example of David in making war to drive away the Turk from his country. For both are
kings. But the Scripture teaches not the invocation of saints or to ask help of saints, since it sets
before us the one Christ as the Mediator, Propitiation, High Priest, and Intercessor. He is to be
prayed to, and has promised that He will hear our prayer; and this worship He approves above all, to
wit, that in all afflictions He be called upon, 1 John 2:1, If any man sin, we have an Advocate
with the Father, etc.
This is about the Sum of our Doctrine, in which, as can be seen, there is nothing that varies
from the Scriptures, or from the Church Catholic, or from the Church of Rome as known from its writers.
This being the case, they judge harshly who insist that our teachers be regarded as heretics. There
is, however, disagreement on certain Abuses, which have crept into the Church without rightful authority.
And even in these, if there were some difference, there should be proper lenity on the part of bishops
to bear with us by reason of the Confession which we have now reviewed; because even the Canons are
not so severe as to demand the same rites everywhere, neither, at any time, have the rites of all
churches been the same; although, among us, in large part, the ancient rites are diligently observed.
For it is a false and malicious charge that all the ceremonies, all the things instituted of old,
are abolished in our churches. But it has been a common complaint that some abuses were connected
with the ordinary rites. These, inasmuch as they could not be approved with a good conscience, have
been to some extent corrected.
ARTICLES IN WHICH ARE REVIEWED THE ABUSES WHICH HAVE BEEN CORRECTED.
Inasmuch, then, as our churches dissent in no article of the faith from the
Church Catholic, but only omit some abuses which are new, and which have been erroneously accepted
by the corruption of the times, contrary to the intent of the Canons, we pray that Your Imperial Majesty
would graciously hear both what has been changed, and what were the reasons why the people were not
compelled to observe those abuses against their conscience.
Nor should Your Imperial Majesty
believe those who, in order to excite the hatred of men against our part, disseminate strange slanders
among the people.
Having thus excited the minds of good men, they have first given occasion
to this controversy, and now endeavor, by the same arts, to increase the discord.
Imperial Majesty will undoubtedly find that the form of doctrine and of ceremonies with us is not
so intolerable as these ungodly and malicious men represent.
Besides, the truth cannot be
gathered from common rumors or the revilings of enemies.
But it can readily be judged that
nothing would serve better to maintain the dignity of ceremonies, and to nourish reverence and pious
devotion among the people than if the ceremonies were observed rightly in the churches.
Article XXII: Of Both Kinds in the Sacrament.
To the laity are given Both Kinds in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, because this usage
has the commandment of the Lord in Matt. 26:27, Drink ye all of it, where Christ has manifestly
commanded concerning the cup that all should drink.
And lest any man should craftily say that this refers only to priests, Paul in 1 Cor. 11:27
recites an example from which it appears that the whole congregation did use both kinds. And
this usage has long remained in the Church, nor is it known when, or by whose authority, it was
changed; although Cardinal Cusanus mentions the time when it was approved. Cyprian in some places
testifies that the blood was given to the people. The same is testified by Jerome, who says: The
priests administer the Eucharist, and distribute the blood of Christ to the people. Indeed, Pope
Gelasius commands that the Sacrament be not divided (dist. II., De Consecratione, cap. Comperimus).
Only custom, not so ancient, has it otherwise. But it is evident that any custom introduced
against the commandments of God is not to be allowed, as the Canons witness (dist. III., cap. Veritate,
and the following chapters). But this custom has been received, not only against the Scripture,
but also against the old Canons and the example of the Church. Therefore, if any preferred to
use both kinds of the Sacrament, they ought not to have been compelled with offense to their consciences
to do otherwise. And because the division of the Sacrament does not agree with the ordinance of
Christ, we are accustomed to omit the procession, which hitherto has been in use.
Article XXIII: Of the Marriage of Priests.
There has been common complaint concerning the examples of priests who were not chaste. For
that reason also Pope Pius is reported to have said that there were certain causes why marriage was
taken away from priests, but that there were far weightier ones why it ought to be given back; for so
Platina writes. Since, therefore, our priests were desirous to avoid these open scandals, they
married wives, and taught that it was lawful for them to contract matrimony. First, because Paul
says, 1 Cor. 7:2, 9, To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife. Also: It is better to
marry than to burn. Secondly Christ says, Matt. 19:11, All men cannot receive this saying, where
He teaches that not all men are fit to lead a single life; for God created man for procreation, Gen.
1:28. Nor is it in man's power, without a singular gift and work of God, to alter this creation.
[For it is manifest, and many have confessed that no good, honest, chaste life, no Christian, sincere,
upright conduct has resulted (from the attempt), but a horrible, fearful unrest and torment of
conscience has been felt by many until the end.] Therefore, those who are not fit to lead a single
life ought to contract matrimony. For no man's law, no vow, can annul the commandment and ordinance
of God. For these reasons the priests teach that it is lawful for them to marry wives.
It is also evident that in the ancient Church priests were married men. For Paul says, 1 Tim
3:2, that a bishop should be chosen who is the husband of one wife. And in Germany, four hundred
years ago for the first time, the priests were violently compelled to lead a single life, who indeed
offered such resistance that the Archbishop of Mayence, when about to publish the Pope's decree concerning
this matter, was almost killed in the tumult raised by the enraged priests. And so harsh was the
dealing in the matter that not only were marriages forbidden for the future, but also existing marriages
were torn asunder, contrary to all laws, divine and human, contrary even to the Canons themselves,
made not only by the Popes, but by most celebrated Synods. [Moreover, many God-fearing and intelligent
people in high station are known frequently to have expressed misgivings that such enforced celibacy
and depriving men of marriage (which God Himself has instituted and left free to men) has never
produced any good results, but has brought on many great and evil vices and much iniquity.]
Seeing also that, as the world is aging, man's nature is gradually growing weaker, it is well to
guard that no more vices steal into Germany.
Furthermore, God ordained marriage to be a help against human infirmity. The Canons
themselves say that the old rigor ought now and then, in the latter times, to be relaxed because of
the weakness of men; which it is to be wished were done also in this matter. And it is to be
expected that the churches shall at some time lack pastors if marriage is any longer forbidden.
But while the commandment of God is in force, while the custom of the Church is well known,
while impure celibacy causes many scandals, adulteries, and other crimes deserving the punishments
of just magistrates, yet it is a marvelous thing that in nothing is more cruelty exercised than
against the marriage of priests. God has given commandment to honor marriage. By the laws of all
well-ordered commonwealths, even among the heathen, marriage is most highly honored. But now
men, and that, priests, are cruelly put to death, contrary to the intent of the Canons, for no other
cause than marriage. Paul, in 1 Tim. 4:3, calls that a doctrine of devils which forbids marriage.
This may now be readily understood when the law against marriage is maintained by such penalties.
But as no law of man can annul the commandment of God, so neither can it be done by any vow.
Accordingly, Cyprian also advises that women who do not keep the chastity they have promised
should marry. His words are these (Book I, Epistle XI): But if they be unwilling or unable to persevere,
it is better for them to marry than to fall into the fire by their lusts; they should certainly
give no offense to their brethren and sisters.
And even the Canons show some leniency toward those who have taken vows before the proper age,
as heretofore has generally been the case.
Article XXIV: Of the Mass.
Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us,
and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save
that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added
to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught
[what they need to know of Christ]. And not only has Paul commanded to use in the church a language
understood by the people 1 Cor. 14:2-9, but it has also been so ordained by man's law. The people
are accustomed to partake of the Sacrament together, if any be fit for it, and this also increases
the reverence and devotion of public worship. For none are admitted except they be first examined.
The people are also advised concerning the dignity and use of the Sacrament, how great consolation
it brings anxious consciences, that they may learn to believe God, and to expect and ask of Him all
that is good. [In this connection they are also instructed regarding other and false teachings on
the Sacrament.] This worship pleases God; such use of the Sacrament nourishes true devotion toward
God. It does not, therefore, appear that the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries
than among us.
But it is evident that for a long time this also has been the public and most grievous complaint
of all good men that Masses have been basely profaned and applied to purposes of lucre. For it
is not unknown how far this abuse obtains in all the churches by what manner of men Masses are said
only for fees or stipends, and how many celebrate them contrary to the Canons. But Paul severely
threatens those who deal unworthily with the Eucharist when he says, 1 Cor. 11:27, Whosoever shall
eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of
the Lord. When, therefore our priests were admonished concerning this sin, Private Masses were
discontinued among us, as scarcely any Private Masses were celebrated except for lucre's sake.
Neither were the bishops ignorant of these abuses, and if they had corrected them in time,
there would now be less dissension. Heretofore, by their own connivance, they suffered many
corruptions to creep into the Church. Now, when it is too late, they begin to complain of the
troubles of the Church, while this disturbance has been occasioned simply by those abuses which were
so manifest that they could be borne no longer. There have been great dissensions concerning
the Mass, concerning the Sacrament. Perhaps the world is being punished for such long-continued
profanations of the Mass as have been tolerated in the churches for so many centuries by the very
men who were both able and in duty bound to correct them. For in the Ten Commandments it is
written, Ex. 20:7, The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. But since
the world began, nothing that God ever ordained seems to have been so abused for filthy lucre as
There was also added the opinion which infinitely increased Private Masses, namely that
Christ, by His passion, had made satisfaction for original sin, and instituted the Mass wherein
an offering should be made for daily sins, venial and mortal. From this has arisen the common
opinion that the Mass takes away the sins of the living and the dead by the outward act. Then
they began to dispute whether one Mass said for many were worth as much as special Masses for
individuals, and this brought forth that infinite multitude of Masses. [With this work men wished
to obtain from God all that they needed, and in the mean time faith in Christ and the true worship
Concerning these opinions our teachers have given warning that they depart from the Holy
Scriptures and diminish the glory of the passion of Christ. For Christ's passion was an oblation
and satisfaction, not for original guilt only, but also for all other sins, as it is written to the
Hebrews, 10:10, We are sanctified through the offering of Jesus Christ once for all. Also, 10:14,
By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. [It is an unheard-of innovation
in the Church to teach that Christ by His death made satisfaction only for original sin and not
likewise for all other sin. Accordingly it is hoped that everybody will understand that this error
has not been reproved without due reason.]
Scripture also teaches that we are justified before God through faith in Christ, when we
believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ's sake. Now if the Mass take away the sins of the
living and the dead by the outward act justification comes of the work of Masses, and not of faith,
which Scripture does not allow.
But Christ commands us, Luke 22:19, This do in remembrance of Me; therefore the Mass was
instituted that the faith of those who use the Sacrament should remember what benefits it receives
through Christ, and cheer and comfort the anxious conscience. For to remember Christ is to remember
His benefits, and to realize that they are truly offered unto us. Nor is it enough only to
remember the history; for this also the Jews and the ungodly can remember. Wherefore the Mass
is to be used to this end, that there the Sacrament [Communion] may be administered to them that
have need of consolation; as Ambrose says: Because I always sin, I am always bound to take the medicine.
[Therefore this Sacrament requires faith, and is used in vain without faith.]
Now, forasmuch as the Mass is such a giving of the Sacrament, we hold one communion every
holy-day, and, if any desire the Sacrament, also on other days, when it is given to such as ask
for it. And this custom is not new in the Church; for the Fathers before Gregory make no mention
of any private Mass, but of the common Mass [the Communion] they speak very much. Chrysostom says
that the priest stands daily at the altar, inviting some to the Communion and keeping back others.
And it appears from the ancient Canons that some one celebrated the Mass from whom all the other
presbyters and deacons received the body of he Lord; for thus the words of the Nicene Canon say:
Let the deacons, according to their order, receive the Holy Communion after the presbyters, from the
bishop or from a presbyter. And Paul, 1 Cor. 11:33, commands concerning the Communion: Tarry one
for another, so that there may be a common participation.
Forasmuch, therefore, as the Mass with us has the example of the Church, taken from the Scripture
and the Fathers, we are confident that it cannot be disapproved, especially since public ceremonies,
for the most part like those hither to in use, are retained; only the number of Masses differs, which,
because of very great and manifest abuses doubtless might be profitably reduced. For in olden
times, even in churches most frequented, the Mass was not celebrated every day, as the Tripartite
History (Book 9, chap. 33) testifies: Again in Alexandria, every Wednesday and Friday the Scriptures
are read, and the doctors expound them, and all things are done, except the solemn rite of
Article XXV: Of Confession.
Confession in the churches is not abolished among us; for it is not usual to give the body
of the Lord, except to them that have been previously examined and absolved. And the people are
most carefully taught concerning faith in the absolution, about which formerly there was profound
silence. Our people are taught that they should highly prize the absolution, as being the voice of
God, and pronounced by God's command. The power of the Keys is set forth in its beauty and they
are reminded what great consolation it brings to anxious consciences, also, that God requires faith
to believe such absolution as a voice sounding from heaven, and that such faith in Christ truly
obtains and receives the forgiveness of sins. Aforetime satisfactions were immoderately extolled;
of faith and the merit of Christ and the righteousness of faith no mention was made; wherefore,
on this point, our churches are by no means to be blamed. For this even our adversaries must needs
concede to us that the doctrine concerning repentance has been most diligently treated and laid
open by our teachers.
But of Confession they teach that an enumeration of sins is not necessary, and that consciences
be not burdened with anxiety to enumerate all sins, for it is impossible to recount all sins, as
the Psalm 19:13 testifies: Who can understand his errors? Also Jeremiah, 17:9, The heart is
deceitful; who can know it? But if no sins were forgiven, except those that are recounted, consciences
could never find peace; for very many sins they neither see nor can remember. The ancient writers
also testify that an enumeration is not necessary. For in the Decrees, Chrysostom is quoted, who
says thus: I say not to you that you should disclose yourself in public, nor that you accuse yourself
before others, but I would have you obey the prophet who says: "Disclose thy way before God."
Therefore confess your sins before God, the true Judge, with prayer. Tell your errors, not with the
tongue, but with the memory of your conscience, etc. And the Gloss (Of Repentance, Distinct. V,
Cap. Consideret) admits that Confession is of human right only [not commanded by Scripture, but
ordained by the Church]. Nevertheless, on account of the great benefit of absolution, and because
it is otherwise useful to the conscience, Confession is retained among us.
Article XXVI: Of the Distinction of Meats.
It has been the general persuasion, not of the people alone, but also of those teaching in
the churches, that making Distinctions of Meats, and like traditions of men, are works profitable
to merit grace, and able to make satisfactions for sins. And that the world so thought, appears
from this, that new ceremonies, new orders, new holy-days, and new fastings were daily instituted,
and the teachers in the churches did exact these works as a service necessary to merit grace, and
did greatly terrify men's consciences, if they should omit any of these things. From this persuasion
concerning traditions much detriment has resulted in the Church.
First, the doctrine of grace and of the righteousness of faith has been obscured by it,
which is the chief part of the Gospel, and ought to stand out as the most prominent in the Church,
in order that the merit of Christ may be well known, and faith, which believes that sins are forgiven
for Christ's sake be exalted far above works. Wherefore Paul also lays the greatest stress on this
article, putting aside the Law and human traditions, in order to show that Christian righteousness
is something else than such works, to wit, the faith which believes that sins are freely forgiven
for Christ's sake. But this doctrine of Paul has been almost wholly smothered by traditions, which
have produced an opinion that, by making distinctions in meats and like services, we must merit
grace and righteousness. In treating of repentance, there was no mention made of faith; only those
works of satisfaction were set forth; in these the entire repentance seemed to consist.
Secondly, these traditions have obscured the commandments of God, because traditions were placed
far above the commandments of God. Christianity was thought to consist wholly in the observance of
certain holy-days, rites, fasts, and vestures. These observances had won for themselves the exalted
title of being the spiritual life and the perfect life. Meanwhile the commandments of God, according to
each one's calling, were without honor namely, that the father brought up his offspring, that
the mother bore children, that the prince governed the commonwealth,-these were accounted works that
were worldly and imperfect, and far below those glittering observances. And this error greatly
tormented devout consciences, which grieved that they were held in an imperfect state of life, as
in marriage, in the office of magistrate; or in other civil ministrations; on the other hand, they
admired the monks and such like, and falsely imagined that the observances of such men were more
acceptable to God.
Thirdly, traditions brought great danger to consciences; for it was impossible to keep all
traditions, and yet men judged these observances to be necessary acts of worship. Gerson writes
that many fell into despair, and that some even took their own lives, because they felt that they
were not able to satisfy the traditions, and they had all the while not heard any consolation of the
righteousness of faith and grace. We see that the summists and theologians gather the traditions,
and seek mitigations whereby to ease consciences, and yet they do not sufficiently unfetter, but
sometimes entangle, consciences even more. And with the gathering of these traditions, the schools
and sermons have been so much occupied that they have had no leisure to touch upon Scripture, and to
seek the more profitable doctrine of faith, of the cross, of hope, of the dignity of civil affairs
of consolation of sorely tried consciences. Hence Gerson and some other theologians have grievously
complained that by these strivings concerning traditions they were prevented from giving attention
to a better kind of doctrine. Augustine also forbids that men's consciences should be burdened
with such observances, and prudently advises Januarius that he must know that they are to
be observed as things indifferent; for such are his words.
Wherefore our teachers must not be looked upon as having taken up this matter rashly or from
hatred of the bishops, as some falsely suspect. There was great need to warn the churches of
these errors, which had arisen from misunderstanding the traditions. For the Gospel compels us
to insist in the churches upon the doctrine of grace, and of the righteousness of faith; which, however,
cannot be understood, if men think that they merit grace by observances of their own choice.
Thus, therefore, they have taught that by the observance of human traditions we cannot merit
grace or be justified, and hence we must not think such observances necessary acts of worship.
They add hereunto testimonies of Scripture. Christ, Matt. 15:3, defends the Apostles who had not
observed the usual tradition, which, however, evidently pertains to a matter not unlawful, but
indifferent, and to have a certain affinity with the purifications of the Law, and says, 15:9,
In vain do they worship Me with the commandments of men. He, therefore, does not exact an
unprofitable service. Shortly after He adds: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man.
So also Paul, Rom. 14:17, The kingdom of God is not meat and drink. Col. 2:16, Let no man,
therefore, judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the Sabbath-day;
also: If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the
world, are ye subject to ordinances: Touch not, taste not, handle not! And Peter says, Acts 15:10,
Why tempt ye God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor
we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall
be saved, even as they. Here Peter forbids to burden the consciences with many rites, either
of Moses or of others. And in 1 Tim. 4:1-3 Paul calls the prohibition of meats a doctrine of devils;
for it is against the Gospel to institute or to do such works that by them we may merit grace, or
as though Christianity could not exist without such service of God.
Here our adversaries object that our teachers are opposed to discipline and mortification
of the flesh, as Jovinian. But the contrary may be learned from the writings of our teachers.
For they have always taught concerning the cross that it behooves Christians to bear afflictions.
This is the true, earnest, and unfeigned mortification, to wit, to be exercised with divers
afflictions, and to be crucified with Christ.
Moreover, they teach that every Christian ought to train and subdue himself with bodily
restraints, or bodily exercises and labors that neither satiety nor slothfulness tempt him to sin,
but not that we may merit grace or make satisfaction for sins by such exercises. And such
external discipline ought to be urged at all times, not only on a few and set days. So Christ
commands, Luke 21:34, Take heed lest your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting; also Matt.
17:21, This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Paul also says, 1 Cor. 9:27, I keep
under my body and bring it into subjection. Here he clearly shows that he was keeping under
his body, not to merit forgiveness of sins by that discipline, but to have his body in subjection
and fitted for spiritual things, and for the discharge of duty according to his calling. Therefore,
we do not condemn fasting in itself, but the traditions which prescribe certain days and certain
meats, with peril of conscience, as though such works were a necessary service.
Nevertheless, very many traditions are kept on our part, which conduce to good order in the
Church, as the Order of Lessons in the Mass and the chief holy-days. But, at the same time,
men are warned that such observances do not justify before God, and that in such things it should
not be made sin if they be omitted without offense. Such liberty in human rites was not unknown
to the Fathers. For in the East they kept Easter at another time than at Rome, and when, on
account of this diversity, the Romans accused the Eastern Church of schism, they were admonished by
others that such usages need not be alike everywhere. And Irenaeus says: Diversity concerning
fasting does not destroy the harmony of faith; as also Pope Gregory intimates in Dist. XII, that
such diversity does not violate the unity of the Church. And in the Tripartite History, Book
9, many examples of dissimilar rites are gathered, and the following statement is made: It was not
the mind of the Apostles to enact rules concerning holy-days, but to preach godliness and a holy
life [to teach faith and love].