J. Calvin: Institutio christianae religionis – Instruction in the Christian Religion – Book 2.

John Calvin: The true and the false predestination.   -  Discourse 100

Institutio christianae religionis II. by John Calvin

Translated and edited after the last edition (1559) by Otto Weber and first published in 1955 by
Neukirchener Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn, 6th edition of the one-volume edition 1997.

Commissioned by the Reformed Federation in Germany / JOHANNES A LASCO LIBRARY Emden and prepared for the edition on the Internet by Matthias Freudenberg on the basis of a scan text acquisition by the Institute for Reformation Research of the University of Apeldoorn.

Teaching of the Christian religion

The Doctrine of Calvin – Book I: Of the Knowledge of God the Creator

The Doctrine of Calvin – Book II: Of the Knowledge of God as the Savior in Jesus Christ

The Doctrine of Calvin – Book III: In what way we become partakers of the grace of Christ, what fruits accrue to us from it, and what effects result from it.

The Doctrine of Calvin – Book IV: Of the Outward Means or Aids by Which God Invites and Maintains Us in Communion with Christ.

Editorial notes

The original three-volume edition of Otto Weber’s translation was published in the years 1936-1938. For the present Internet edition, the notes Weber made in the margins of the text seemed dispensable. Likewise, the few annotations, most of which do not offer factual explanations, have not been included. The old spelling has been retained. Obvious typographical errors, inaccuracies in the citation of biblical passages and other literature, and unusual forms of presentation in the typesetting have been corrected.

Edition plan

Book I July 2006
Book II August 2006
Book III December 2006
Book IV March 2007

Second book

The knowledge of God as the Savior in Christ, first revealed to the fathers under the Law, then also to us in the Gospel.

Table of contents

First Chapter

Through the fall and apostasy of Adam, the whole human race fell under the curse and lost its original purity. The doctrine of original sin.

Second chapter

Man is now deprived of free will and subjected to abject bondage.

Third Chapter

From man’s depraved nature comes nothing but damnable things.

Fourth Chapter

How God works in the heart of man.

Fifth Chapter

Defence against the objections which one tends to raise in defense of free will.

Sixth Chapter

The lost man must seek his salvation in Christ.

Seventh Chapter

The law was not given to keep the people of the Old Covenant to themselves, but to preserve the hope of salvation in Christ until his coming.

Eighth Chapter

Interpretation of the moral law (the Ten Commandments).

Ninth Chapter

Christ was already known to the Jews under the Law; but he does not clearly appear to us until the Gospel.

Tenth Chapter

Of the similarity of the Old and New Testaments.

Eleventh Chapter

Of the Difference between the Old and New Testaments.

Twelfth Chapter

In order to carry out the mediatorial office, Christ had to become man.

Thirteenth Chapter

Christ truly took on our human flesh.

Fourteenth Chapter

How the two natures form the person of the Mediator.

Fifteenth Chapter

If we wish to know what Christ was sent by the Father to do and what he has brought us, we must consider first of all his threefold office, prophetic, royal, and priestly.

Sixteenth Chapter

How Christ did the work of the Savior and purchased our salvation. Here, then, we speak of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.

Seventeenth Chapter

It is rightly said, and it is in the spirit of the matter, when it is said: Christ has purchased for us God’s grace and salvation through his merit.

First chapter

Through the fall and apostasy of Adam, the whole human race fell under the curse and lost its original purity. The doctrine of original sin.

II,1,1 According to an old saying, it is not without reason that man has always been highly praised for self-knowledge. It is already considered shameful if one does not know what belongs to the things of human giving. Much more reprehensible, however, is the ignorance of self: there we are miserably plagued by delusions and virtually struck with blindness at every resolution in important matters! But as important as this instruction is, we must be careful not to make a wrong use of it – and this, as we see, has happened to certain philosophers! They exhort man to self-knowledge, but at the same time they determine the aim of such an effort: he should be clear about his dignity and his privileged position (excellentia)! According to their will, man should only practice self-contemplation, which inflates him to empty self-confidence and pride (Gen 1:27). But our self-knowledge should have something else in it: First, we should consider all that has been granted to us in Creation and how kindly God continues to exercise His grace over us; from this we should recognize how great the advantage of our nature should be – if it had remained uncorrupted. At the same time, however, we should also consider that we have nothing of our own in us, but possess as a gift what God gave us – so that we may always cling to him: Secondly, we should be confronted with our miserable condition after Adam’s fall; when we become aware of it, all glory, all self-assurance falls away, and we arrive at true humility, deeply ashamed. For God created us in his image in the beginning to awaken our souls to zeal in right action and to strive for eternal life, and so, lest the nobility of our race, which distinguishes us from the animals, should even decay through our sloth, we must recognize this: we are endowed with reason (ratio) and understanding (intelligentia), in order to reach out in a holy and honorable life toward the set goal of blessed immortality! But this original dignity cannot enter our memory without the sad picture of our defilement and disgrace appearing before our eyes, as it has become since we were alienated from our origin in the person of the first man. And from this arises hatred and displeasure with ourselves and true humility – and a new zeal is kindled to seek God, in which each one is to regain the goods that we have now completely lost.

II,1,2 This is what God’s truth demands as the content of our self-examination: it demands such a knowledge from us that keeps us away from all confidence in our own ability, takes away every reason for self-glory and thus leads us to humility. We have to hold on to this guideline if we want to reach the right measure and goal of thinking and acting. I know very well how much more pleasant is that teaching which invites us to consider our good than that which makes us look at our miserable poverty and shame and thus fills us with shame. For the human mind likes nothing better than to be flattered; and when it hears that its abilities are highly praised somewhere, it immediately leans to that side with all too much credulity! Therefore it is not to be wondered at that in this play the greatest part of mankind has gone so corruptly astray. For all mortals are born with a more than blind self-love, and therefore they readily persuade themselves that they have nothing in them that could justly be rejected! And so, without any foreign protection, this vain delusion finds belief again and again, that man is completely enough for himself to live well and happily. Certainly, some want to judge more modestly and to concede a share to God, so that they do not give the impression that they want to ascribe everything to themselves – but there they divide in such a way that the strongest reason for boasting and self-confidence comes to lie on their own side! If, in addition, such a fine way of speaking is added, which tickles with its enticements the arrogance that is already ingrained in man with marrow and bone, then there is nothing that would give him greater pleasure! And so, too, everyone who has emphasized the advantages of human nature with his speeches has been received with tremendous applause at all times. But however great may be that exaltation of human majesty, which teaches man to be content with himself, it is only by its lovely form that it gives such pleasure, and its pretensions accomplish only this, that in the end it plunges those who agree with it entirely into ruin. For what can it lead to, if we in vain self-confidence consider, plan, try, put into action what we consider necessary, but if in doing so we completely lack the right mind, we already lack the right strength in the first attempts – and nevertheless confidently go ahead until we run into ruin? But this is how it must be with those who think they are able to do something in their own strength! If one lends an ear to those teachers who merely delay us in considering our good, then one does not come to self-knowledge, but falls into the worst kind of self-ignorance!

II,1,3 Certainly: God’s truth agrees with the general conviction of all mortals that the second part of wisdom consists in our self-knowledge. But about the nature of this knowledge there is great disagreement. For man, according to the judgment of the flesh, thinks that he has then explored himself quite well when he, trusting in his intellect and his integrity, becomes bold, devotes himself to the service of virtue, declares war on vices, and thus tries to strive with all his zeal for the beautiful and the honorable. But he who looks at and examines himself according to the standard of divine judgment finds nothing that could encourage his soul to right self-confidence, and the deeper he examines himself, the more he is thrown to the ground – until he completely renounces all self-confidence and no longer wants to find anything in himself to lead his life rightly. Certainly, God does not want us to forget that original nobility which he bestowed on our forefather Adam – for this should rightly awaken us to zeal for justice and goodness. We cannot even think of our origin or consider what we were created for without at the same time being provoked to desire immortality and to strive for the kingdom of God. But such recollection does not make us proud, but rather throws all pride to the ground and makes us humble. For what is this origin? The very one – from which we have fallen out! What is this goal of our creation? The very one from which we are now completely turned away, so that we sigh in deep sorrow over our miserable lot, and in such sighing long for that lost dignity! But if we say that man is not able to look at anything in himself that could make him proud, our opinion is: there is nothing in man on which he can rely and which could make him proud. So, if you will, let us divide the self-knowledge that man should have as follows: First, let him consider for what purpose he has been created and what gifts, not to be underestimated, have been bestowed upon him. This consideration should stimulate him to be mindful of the worship of God and the life to come. Secondly, he should consider his abilities, that is, in reality, his lack of them. If he does so, he will become nothing, so to speak, and stand there in utter confusion. The first consideration has the purpose that he recognizes what his task (officium) is, the second that he realizes what he is actually able to do justice to it. We will have to talk about both of them according to the order commanded by the doctrinal intention.

II,1,4 Now it is necessarily not a light offense, but an abominable vice that God has punished so severely; and so we must examine the very nature of sin (as it) came out in the case of Adam, which indeed God’s terrible retribution brought down upon the whole human race. Childish is the general opinion that it is (in the case of the fall) about lasciviousness of the palate. As if the main content of all virtue consisted only in abstinence from the one fruit! And yet from all sides in rich abundance flowed everything that a man can desire in pleasures, and with that blessed fertility of the earth there was enough abundance and variety to prepare a right good life! We must look higher. For the prohibition to take from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a test in obedience: Adam should prove by his obedience that he gladly submitted to God’s command! The name (of the tree) itself shows that the commandment had no other purpose than that man, satisfied with his situation, should not let himself be carried away by ungodly covetousness to higher things. And the promise that made him hope for eternal life as long as he ate from the tree of life, the terrible threat of death again as soon as he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – both had the purpose to test his faith. From this it is easy to see in what way Adam invoked God’s wrath upon himself. Augustin explains this not badly when he says that pride is the origin of all evil; for if man had not risen higher in his arrogance than he was entitled to and than was right from God, he could have remained in his (high) position. But from the description of the temptation, as Moses gives it, a still more exact interpretation can be found. For there the woman is brought away from the word of God by the cunning of the serpent in unbelief – and there we already see: the beginning of the downfall is disobedience. This is also confirmed by Paul when he says that through one man’s disobedience all are lost (Rom 5,19). At the same time, however, we must note that the first man departed from the commandment of God, and this happened not only because he was ensnared by the lures of Satan, but also because he turned to lies in contempt of the truth. And truly, once God’s word is despised, all reverence for God is lost. For his majesty cannot endure among us, his worship cannot remain pure – if we do not cling to his mouth. Therefore, unbelief was the root of apostasy. It gave rise to arrogance and haughtiness, to which ingratitude was added, because Adam, wanting to have more than he was entitled to, despised the great bounty of God that had been granted to him. But this showed the terrible godlessness, that it seemed too little to the son of earth to be made in the image of God – if not the equality (with God) would be added! An abominable sacrilege is the apostasy, with which man evades the commandment of his Creator, even rebelliously shakes off his yoke. Therefore it is a vain effort to mitigate the sin of Adam. And it is not even a question of mere apostasy, but mean reproaches against God are added: men sign the invectives of Satan, who imputes lies, envy and jealousy to God! And finally, unbelief opens the door to arrogance, and arrogance was the mother of unruliness, so that people threw away all fear of God and let themselves be guided entirely by their own desires. Therefore, it is right when Bernard teaches that the door of salvation is opened to us when we hear the gospel with our ears today, just as death came in to this opening (the ear) when it was opened to Satan. For Adam would never have dared to disobey the commandment of God if he had not been faithless to His word. The best reins to keep all desires in check was the conviction that nothing is better than obeying God’s command and thus doing justice, and that the highest goal of a blessed life is to be loved by God. But when man was carried away by the invectives of the devil, he did his best to nullify all the glory of God.

II,1,5 As the spiritual life of Adam consisted in the fact that he remained united and bound to his Creator, so the alienation from Him meant the ruin of the soul. So it is no wonder that he plunged his race into misery – after all, he reversed the whole order of nature in heaven and on earth! The creature groans, says Paul, which is subjected to corruption without its will! (Rom 8,22). If one asks for the cause of this, it is beyond doubt that the creature bears a part of the punishment inflicted on man, for whose benefit it was created. Thus, on all sides, above and below, from Adam’s guilt arose the curse, which rests on all areas of the world – and therefore it is not at all absurd that it has also passed on to his entire descendants. After the heavenly image in him was destroyed, he was not only punished for his person, but also for the wisdom, power, holiness, truth and righteousness, which had once adorned him, were replaced by the most evil corruptions: Blindness, lack of strength, impurity, vanity, unrighteousness, – but into this very misery he has also involved and thrust his offspring. This is the hereditary corruption (haereditaria corruptio), which the ancients called "original sin" (peccatum originale), whereby they understood by sin the disruption of the previously good and pure nature. There was a great dispute among them about this doctrine, for nothing is so strange to common sense as that because of the guilt of one man all should be guilty, and thus sin should become general. This also seems to have been the reason why the oldest teachers of the church treated this doctrine only unclearly; at least they developed it less clearly than is right. And yet this caution could not prevent Pelagius from going forth and presenting the impious view that Adam had sinned only to his own damnation, but had done no harm to his descendants. With such deviousness Satan wanted to try to cover up the disease and thus make it incurable. And when Pelagius was convicted by the clear testimony of the Scriptures (and had to admit) that the sin had passed from the first man to all his descendants, then he brought up the subtle wisdom that this had happened only by imitation, but not in the sense of heredity. Then brave men, especially Augustin, had to struggle to show that we do not fall into corruption through a later assumed wickedness, but that we bring along an innate sinfulness from our mother’s womb. To deny this was the highest presumption. However, one will not be surprised at the audacity of the Pelagians and Coelestians, if one notices from the writings of that holy man (Augustine) what impudent monsters they were in all other respects. It is certainly clear as day when David confesses that he was born in sins and was conceived in sins by his mother (Ps 51:7). With this he does not want to blame his father’s or his mother’s transgressions, but he makes a confession of his own depravity, which he claims to have had since his birth, in order to emphasize God’s goodness toward him all the better. Now it is acknowledged that this testimony of David is not unique, and so it follows that the general lot of the human race is represented by his example. For all of us who are descended from impure seed are born stained by the contagion of sin; indeed, before we see the light of day, we are already corrupted and stained before God’s eyes. "Can a clean person come from the unclean? Not even one," says the Book of Job (Job 14:4).

II,1,6 We hear that the uncleanness of the forefathers passes on to the descendants in such a way that all without any exception are stained from the origin. The beginning of this defilement can only be found by going back to the forefather of all men as the source. So we will certainly have to look at the matter in this way: Adam is not only the ancestor of human nature, but he is, as it were, its root, and therefore by his corruption the whole human race has been cheaply disrupted. The apostle makes this clear by comparing him to Christ. "As by one man sin entered into the whole world, and by sin death; and therefore death has passed through to all men, because they have all sinned; so is righteousness and life restored to us through the grace of Christ" (Rom 5:12 ff.). What are the Pelagians babbling about? The sin of Adam is supposed to have been propagated by imitation? Then we would not get the righteousness of Christ in any other way than because he was set as an example for us to imitate. But what an intolerable blasphemy that would be! It is beyond all dispute that Christ’s righteousness becomes ours through fellowship with him and gives us life. But then it follows that both were lost in Adam to be regained in Christ; sin and death crept in through Adam to be put away through Christ. And when the apostle says that through Christ’s obedience many are made righteous, just as through Adam’s disobedience they became sinners, there is nothing obscure in this. The relationship between the two is that the former (Adam) drags us into his ruin and thus destroys us with him, while the latter (Christ) brings us back to salvation through his grace. The matter comes so clearly into the light of truth that I think it does not need a longer and more laborious proof. So also Paul shows in 1 Corinthians, where he wants to strengthen the pious in the hope of the resurrection, that in Christ we regain the life that was lost in Adam (1 Cor. 15:22). By saying that we all died in Adam, he clearly and openly testifies that we are ensnared by the stain of sin. For damnation would not come at all to those who were not touched by any guilt of sin! But the actual intention of the apostle becomes clearest from the relation to the other clause, where he teaches that in Christ the hope of life is restored. It is well known that this does not happen in any other way than that Christ miraculously transfers the power of his righteousness to us – as it is also said elsewhere that the Spirit is life for us for the sake of righteousness (Rom 8,10). So also the sentence that in Adam we all died cannot be interpreted in any other way than this: by his sinning he not only dragged us into his defeat and ruin, but also plunged our nature into the same corruption. And this he did not do by his offense alone, as if it had nothing to do with us, but precisely by infecting all his posterity with the corruption into which he had fallen. Nor could Paul say that all men are by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:3) if they were not under the curse from their mother’s womb! It is easy to see that he does not mean nature as it was created by God, but as it was corrupted in Adam; for it would be quite nonsensical to make God the author of death! So Adam has corrupted himself in such a way that from him the contagion has come to the whole posterity! Christ, the heavenly judge, himself proclaims clearly enough that all men are born evil and corrupt; for he teaches: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). Thereafter, the gate to life is closed to all men until they are born again.

II,1,7 But in order to understand these things, we do not need that anxiously precise question with which the ancients tormented themselves more than was good, namely: whether the soul of the child comes into being by that of the father passing over to the child, since in the soul, above all, there is the pestilence! We must rather be content with this: the Lord gave all the gifts he wanted to bestow on human nature to Adam for preservation. If, therefore, he lost what he had received, he lost it not only for his own person, but for all of us, who then will be troubled about the reproduction of the soul, when he hears that Adam had received all the adornment he lost as much for us as for himself, that it was not allotted to him alone, but to the whole human race? There is nothing contradictory in the fact that nature, too, is naked and poor because he lost those glorious gifts, and that because he was stained by sin, the contagion also entered into nature. Thus rotten branches sprang from the rotten root, and these in turn communicated their rottenness to the other sprouts that sprang from them! Thus the corruption of the children lies already in the fathers, and the children again corrupt the grandchildren; that means: the corruption has taken the beginning with Adam and has propagated itself so in uninterrupted course from the ancestors to the descendants. For the infection and defilement has its origin not in the basic nature (substantia) of the flesh or of the soul, but in the fact that God had arranged it in such a way that the first man possessed the gifts which he bestowed upon him together with his own – and lost them! But now the Pelagians say that it is not credible that the children of pious parents receive corruption from them, they must rather be sanctified by their purity! (Cf. 1Cor 7:14). This is easily refuted. For the children do not come forth from their spiritual rebirth, but from fleshly procreation. Therefore Augustine also rightly says: "Whether it be an unbelieving, guilty man or a believing one who is absolved: both do not beget absolved ones, but guilty ones, because they beget from their corrupt nature! (Against the Pelagians and Coelestians, Book II). That, therefore, children share, as it were, in the holiness of their parents, is a special blessing of the people of God; and it does not prevent that first and general cursing of the human race which precedes it! For iniquity is by nature, but sanctification by supernatural grace.

II,1,8 But we are not to speak here of an obscure and unknown thing, and therefore we will describe original sin. In doing so, however, I do not intend to review the individual descriptions that the ecclesiastical writers have undertaken. I will pick out only one, which seems to me to correspond most to the truth. For original sin appears as the hereditary disruption and corruption of our nature that has penetrated into all parts of the soul; this first makes us guilty before God’s wrath, but then it also produces in us the works that Scripture calls "works of the flesh" (Gal 5:19). This is, in the proper sense, what Paul often calls "sin." The works that come from it, such as adultery, fornication, theft, hatred, murder, gluttony, he calls accordingly "fruits" of sin; admittedly, they are widely called "sins" in Scripture and so also by Paul himself. These two things, then, are to be carefully observed: (1) We are so depraved and wicked in all the parts of our nature that we rightly stand before God as condemned and rejected because of this depravity alone; for nothing is pleasing to Him but righteousness, innocence, and purity. But now this is not entanglement with other people’s offenses. For when it is said that we are guilty of divine judgment through Adam’s sin, this is not to be understood as if we had to bear the guilt for his (Adam’s) offense innocently and without merit; rather, it is said that he involved us in his guilt, because through his transgression we now all bear the curse upon us. Nevertheless, from him not only the punishment has come upon us, but the corruption transferred from him to us now dwells in us, and this is rightly punished. Thus, Augustine often says that it is a "foreign" sin, in order to show more clearly that it comes to us through transmission. But nevertheless he also claims that it is everyone’s own sin. (So, among others, in "Of Guilt and Forgiveness of Sins" III,8). The apostle himself explicitly testifies that death has therefore come to all, because they have all sinned! (Rom 5,12). And that means: because they all fell into original sin and are afflicted with its stains. So also the children themselves, who carry their condemnation sentence with them from their mother’s womb, are not entangled in other people’s sin, but in their own. For although they have not yet brought forth the fruits of their sinfulness, they have the seed in them; indeed, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed of sin, so that it must inevitably be hateful and abominable to God. From this it follows that in the proper sense this counts as sin before God: for without guilt there would be no state of accusation. (2) To this is then added the second: This perversity is never idle in us, but brings forth without ceasing new fruits, namely, those "works of the flesh" described above – just as a furnace, once lighted, now gives forth flames and sparks, or a fountain gushes forth water from itself without ceasing. Whoever, therefore, wants to understand by original sin the lack of "original righteousness" (justitia originalis), which we should actually have, has thereby summarized everything that belongs to the matter, but has not expressed its power and effectiveness clearly enough. For our nature is not merely poor and empty of good, but it is fruitful and productive in evil, so that it can never be idle! Some have said that original sin is "covetousness" (concupiscentia). This is in itself not an extraneous word; only one must add – which is not in the least admitted by most – that the whole man (quicquid in homine est), mind and will, soul and flesh, is stained and filled with this covetousness, or in short, the whole man is of himself nothing but covetousness!

II,1,9 For this reason I said that the soul was seized with sin in its entirety since Adam turned away from the source of righteousness. For not only was he tempted by a lowly desire, but shameful ungodliness took possession of his soul to the depths, and hopefulness penetrated into the innermost heart. Therefore, it is tasteless and foolish to limit the resulting corruption merely to the so-called "sensual impulses" (sensuales motus) or to call it merely a "tinder" that irritates, excites, and draws away what some call "sensuality" (sensualitas). Peter Lombardus has shown his gross ignorance by the fact that, in his search for the seat of original sin, he came to the opinion that, according to Paul, this was the flesh, admittedly not in the proper sense, but because original sin appears most clearly in the flesh. As if Paul meant only a part of the soul and not the whole nature when he contrasts the "flesh" and the supernatural grace! Paul also removes all doubt by teaching that corruption has its seat not only in one part, but that nothing is pure or untouched by its deadly stain! For in considering the corrupt nature (of man) he not only condemns the unregulated impulses that become visible, but he asserts above all that the soul is addicted to blindness and the heart to corruption, and the whole third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is nothing but a description of original sin. This again becomes even clearer when we consider (the reverse of) regeneration. For the spirit, which is opposed to the old man, to the flesh, does not mean merely the grace that brings the "lower" or "sensual" part of the soul into order, but it includes a complete renewal of the whole being. Therefore, Paul does not only command us to destroy the coarse instincts, but to renew ourselves in the spirit of our mind (Eph 4:23), as he also calls us to change in the renewal of our mind (Rom 12:2). From this it is clear that the very part (of the soul) in which its high dignity and nobility shine the most, is not only wounded, but even so corrupted that it requires not only healing, but the very acceptance of a new nature! How far sin has possession of mind and heart, we shall see presently. Here I only wanted to indicate briefly: the whole man is covered from head to toe as if by a deluge in such a way that no part is untouched, and therefore everything that comes from him is counted as sin, as Paul also says that all the senses of the flesh and all his thinking are enmity against God (Rom 8,7) and therefore death!

II,1,10 So let those go away who dare to ascribe their vices to God, because we said that men are corrupt by nature. They falsely seek God’s work in his defilement – and yet they should seek it in the still untouched and uncorrupted nature of Adam! Our corruption comes from the guilt of our flesh, but not from God! For we perish only because we have alienated ourselves from our original position! Now let no one object to me that God could have taken much better care of our salvation if he had prevented Adam’s fall. For such an objection is detestable to pious senses, because it is of too presumptuous presumption! Besides, it touches the mystery of predestination, which will be treated later in its place. Let us therefore only state: our ruin is to be ascribed to the disruption of nature. We should keep this in mind so that we do not accuse God, the author of nature, himself. It is true that this corrupting wound is now inherent in nature; but it is of great importance whether it came in from outside or whether it was already there from the origin. It is certain, however, that it came about through sin. So we have no reason to complain about anything other than ourselves, as the Scriptures often note. Thus the preacher says: "This I know well, that God hath made man upright: but they seek many arts for themselves" (Eccl. 7:30). There it becomes obvious: Man alone is to be blamed for his ruin; for he received sincerity out of God’s goodness, and yet, by virtue of his own folly, he fell into vanity.

II,1,11 So we say that man is corrupted by natural depravity, which after all does not come from nature! We deny its origin from nature, in order to indicate that it represents a (from the outside) added characteristic, which happened to man, and not an originally (by nature) existing characteristic, which would have been innate to him from the beginning. Nevertheless, we call it "natural", so that no one thinks that it arises only now with the individual out of bad habit, when it has all of us by inherited claim (haereditario iure)! We do not do this without a warrant. For for the same reason Paul also teaches that we are all "by nature" children of wrath (Eph 2:3). How then should God be angry with the noblest of his creatures, when even his least works are pleasing to him? But he is angry about the destruction of his work, not about his work itself! Thus it can be said with good reason that man is "by nature" repugnant to God because of the corruption of human nature, and therefore it is not incorrect to say that man is "by nature" evil and corrupt. Thus Augustine also has no hesitation in calling sin "natural" because of the corruption of nature, which, where God’s grace is not present, necessarily rules in our flesh. With this, the foolish phantasm of the Manichaeans comes to an end: they imagined that there was an essential wickedness in man, and then dared to attribute another creator to man in order not to give the impression that they attributed the origin and beginning of evil to God, the righteous one.

Second chapter

Man is now deprived of free will and subjected to abject bondage.

II,2,1 We have seen how the dominion of sin, since it once brought the first man into its power, now not only reigns in his entire descendants, but has also taken firm possession of every single soul. Now we must examine more closely whether, since we were once subjected to this bondage, we have lost all free will, and how far, if a little of it still remains, its power reaches. But in order that the truth in this question may become all the more easily clear to us, I will first establish in a few words the basic point of view according to which everything must be directed. For we can then best guard against every error, if we consider the dangers threatening from both sides. For (1) man immediately makes a good opportunity for comfort out of the insight that he no longer possesses any righteousness (rectitudo); and because it is said of him that the pursuit of righteousness has in itself no value at all, he leaves it entirely to himself, as if he now had nothing more to do with it! And, on the other hand, (2) not the least thing can be said to him without God’s honor being robbed and man being brought down by presumptuous self-confidence! These two precipices are also mentioned by Augustin (Letter 215 and Explanation to John 12). In order to avoid these cliffs, the following way is to be taken. On the one hand, man should know that nothing good is left with him and in him; he is surrounded on all sides by miserable misery. But then he should still be taught to reach out for the good that he lacks and for the freedom of which he is deprived. Thus he is to be pulled out of all laziness, and more powerfully than if he were persuaded that he was endowed with the supreme power for good (virtus). How necessary this second is, everyone will see. However, I see that there is more doubt about the first than would be good. For if on the one hand it is beyond all dispute that one should not deny man what belongs to him, on the other hand it is as clear as daylight how much it means to snatch him from all false self-glory. For even then man was not allowed to boast in himself, when he was distinguished by God’s kindness with the highest adornment. But how must he humble himself now, when for the sake of his ingratitude he has fallen from the highest glory to the utmost disgrace! For the time when he was raised to the highest glory, the Scriptures ascribed to him nothing else than that he was created in God’s image, and thereby indicated that he was blessed precisely not by his own goods, but by partaking of God! What else is there to do than that he, stripped of all glory, should recognize God, for whose goodness he could not be grateful when He showered him with the treasures of His grace? What else should he do but to exalt him, whom he (once) did not praise in recognition of his goods and gifts, now at least by confessing his own poverty? That all the glory of our own wisdom and virtue is denied us is no less to our credit than it is to God’s glory; and he who concedes anything beyond the truth to us blasphemes God and at the same time plunges us into ruin! For if we are taught to fight by our own strength, it is no different than if we were lifted up on a cane, which must soon break, so that we fall down! And it means already too high a praise for our own strength if it is compared with a cane. Because it is vain sound and smoke, what people have invented and talked up for this reason! Therefore it is well-founded if Augustin in that famous saying again and again claims that the "free will" is more destroyed by its defenders than actually claimed. This preface was necessary. For there are some people who, when they hear that the human power for good (virtus) is destroyed from the ground up, so that God’s power may be built up in man, hate this whole consideration tremendously, as if it were dangerous, even completely superfluous! And yet it is obviously necessary in religion and, moreover, of the greatest benefit to us!

II,2,2 Now we have said above that the powers of the soul consist in "mind" (understanding, cognitive faculty) and heart (will). Now we want to consider what these two can do. The philosophers are now completely united in the opinion that reason has its seat in the mind, and this shines like a torch before all decisions and directs the will like a queen. For reason is so filled with divine light that it is best able to advise, and of such outstanding power that it is best able to command. Sensuality, on the other hand, is afflicted with laziness and blindness, so that it always crawls on the ground and deals with coarse things, but is never able to rise to true insight. If the power of desire actually obeys reason and does not allow itself to be subjugated by sensuality, it is led to strive for virtue; it then takes the right path and is transformed into actual will. If, however, it enters into the bondage of sensuality, it is corrupted and destroyed by it and degenerates into mere lust. Now, according to their opinion, those powers of the soul which I have mentioned above, namely understanding, sensuality and the power of desire or will – a term which has already come into frequent use – have their seat together in man. And so they maintain that the faculty of knowledge is just (anyway) endowed with reason, and that this is the best guide to good and happy life; only the faculty of knowledge must assert itself in this privileged position and let the power be effective which is innate to it by nature. Its lower impulse, namely the so-called sensuality, which leads it to error and illusions, is at least capable of being tamed and gradually subdued by the rod of reason. Now they place the will in the middle between reason and sensuality, that is, in such a way that it would be powerful of its own right and freedom, either to obey reason or to give itself up to sensuality, completely according to its own discretion!

II,2,3 Now the philosophers do not deny – experience convicts them all too powerfully! Now the philosophers do not deny – experience convicts them all too strongly! – how much difficulty it makes for man to establish in himself a rule of reason: sometimes the temptation to pleasure lures him, sometimes a false appearance of goodness fools him, sometimes he is powerlessly overrun by unbridled urges and pulled to and fro as if by cords or threads, as Plato says. (Laws, Book I). Likewise, Cicero claims that those little sparks given to us by nature are soon extinguished by evil views or bad morals. (Tusc. III). But once such diseases have gained space in the human mind, they spread too vigorously, according to the philosophers’ own admission, to be easily subdued. Yes, they are unhesitatingly compared to wild horses that abandon all reason, throw off the steed and now give themselves over to their wildness unbridled and without moderation. But this is quite beyond dispute for the philosophers, that virtue and vice are in our power. For – they say – if it is in our free choice to do this or that, then it must also be in our choice not to do it! Conversely: If the not-doing is in our hand, so also the doing! We do, however, after the appearance what we do, from free choice, and likewise we also omit what we omit, from free choice. If we therefore, where it seems good to us, do something good, we can also leave it; if we do something bad, we can also avoid it! (e.g. Aristotle, Nic. Eth. III,7). Some of the philosophers have gone so far in their audacity to claim that it was indeed the gift of the gods that we lived, but our business that we lived well and holy! (Seneca). This is also the origin of the word that Cicero lets Cotta speak: everyone acquires his virtue by himself, and therefore no wise man has ever thanked God for it. "For virtue’s sake," he says, "we are praised, and for its sake we boast. But this would not happen at all if it were a gift from God and did not come from us!" And shortly thereafter, "It is a common human judgment: from the gods one should ask for happiness, but wisdom must be taken from oneself!" (Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods III). The main content of the opinion of all philosophers is this: the reason of the human mind is sufficient to ensure right guidance; the will is subject to reason, it is indeed provoked to evil by sensuality, but it has, after all, free choice and can therefore never be prevented from following reason as a guide in all things.

II,2,4 Among the church teachers there was not one who did not know that the health of human reason is severely injured by sin and that the will is very much enslaved to evil desires. But nevertheless many of them have approached the philosophers far more than is right. In their praise of human powers, the ancients seem to me to have intended, first of all, not to arouse the laughter of the philosophers, with whom they had to argue at that time, with the clear confession of the complete human incapacity. Secondly, they did not want to give the flesh, which is already too lazy to do good, a new reason for laziness. For these reasons they tried, in order not to present something that would seem absurd to common sense, to join the teachings of Scripture and the doctrines of the philosophers halfway together; in particular, their writings clearly show that second reason: to make no room for laziness! Thus, for example, Chrysostom says in one place: "God has given good and evil into our power, and with it he has also given us free will in decision (electionis liberum arbitrium); whoever does not want, he does not hold back, but whoever wants, he accepts." (Homily on the Betrayal of Judas, I). Or also, "Yet often a wicked man becomes good by transformation, if only he will, and a good man falls away by sloth, and becomes wicked; for the Lord has provided that our nature shall have free will (liberum arbitrium); nor does he impose any compulsion at all; on the contrary, he prepares the suitable medicine, and then leaves it entirely to the discretion of the sick person to use it." (Homily on Genesis, XIX). Or: "As we can never do anything right without the help of God’s grace, so we cannot obtain favor from above unless we do our part!" But just before that, "Lest everything depend on divine help, we too must contribute." (Sermon 53). So he often and gladly uses the phrase: "Let us contribute only what is ours, the rest God will add!" And to this corresponds again what Jerome says: "The beginning is with us, with God the completion; we must contribute what we are able, and he will add what we are not able" (Against the Pelagians, Book III). From these sayings it can be seen that the Fathers of the Church allowed man to strive for virtue more than was in accordance with the truth, because they thought that they could not disturb our innate inertia in any other way than by strengthening the conviction that sin was solely the work of this inertia. Whether and to what extent they were justified in doing so, we will see later. In any case, the complete falsity of the cited opinions will then become clear. It is true that the Greek church teachers, and among them especially Chrysostom, exceeded every measure in the exaltation of the human will. However, all the ancients, with the exception of Augustine, are so different, vacillating and confused in their treatment of this matter that it is almost impossible to reproduce anything certain from their writings. For this reason, I will not attempt to cite with precision the opinions of individuals; rather, I will select from each only as much as is necessary to prove the point. The later teachers of the church are such that each one claims for himself the praise of great acumen in the defense of human nature; but the one still sinks deeper than the other. Thus it came to pass that man was generally believed to be corrupt only in his sensual part, his reason, on the other hand, was still quite intact and the will for the most part. In the meantime, it was said from mouth to mouth that the natural gifts were corrupted in man, while the supernatural ones were taken away from him. But what this sentence means, not one among a hundred understood even to some extent. If I, for my part, wanted to speak more clearly about how the corruption of nature is constituted, I could be satisfied with this form of expression. But then it requires an attentive consideration about what man is still able to do after he has been corrupted in all parts of his nature and has lost all supernatural gifts! For people, who called themselves disciples of Christ, talked about it in a philosophical way. Thus with the Latins the expression "free will" remained continuously in use – as if man still lived intact in the original state! The Greeks did not hesitate to use an even more presumptuous expression: they said that man was "self-empowered" (autexusios) – as if he had power over himself! Thus all, also the people, had the opinion that man was endowed with the "free will"; but even such, who would like to be regarded as particularly outstanding, do not know how far this "free will" actually goes. So I will first examine the meaning of this expression ("free will") and then explain from the simple testimony of Scripture what man is capable of doing good or evil out of his own nature. Now the term "free will" occurs in the writings of all theologians alike - but what it was all about was described by only a few. Origen seems to reflect the general conviction of his time when he says that "free will" is the ability of reason to distinguish between good and evil, and that of the will to decide for one of the two. Augustine does not judge differently: he says that free will is a faculty of reason and will, according to which, under the assistance of grace, good is chosen, but in its absence, evil is chosen. Bernard would like to speak astutely and therefore expresses himself a little darker: free will is the harmony that is based on the captive freedom of the will and the immovable judgment of reason. Anselm’s description is not simple enough; he says that free will is the ability to preserve righteousness for its own sake. So Peter Lombard and the scholastics accepted Augustine’s description to a greater extent, because it was clearer and because it did not exclude the grace of God – they saw that the will is not sufficient by itself without such grace. At the same time, they added something of their own: from one they thought it was better, from the other it served the greater clarification. In any case, there is agreement on the basic idea: the expression "will" (decision) is to be referred to reason, which is entitled to distinguish between good and evil; the addition "free", on the other hand, actually refers to the will, which can turn to both sides. (Thus in Peter Lombard, Sentences, Book II,24). Since "freedom" actually belongs to the will, Thomas says that it is most appropriate to express it in this way: the "free will" is a power of decision (vis electiva), which is mixed from understanding and desire power, but belongs more to the desire power. (Summa theologica I,63). Thus we have shown where, according to these theologians, the power of free will lies, namely in reason and will. Now we still have to see what they concede to these two in effectiveness.

II,2,5 In general, among the theologians mentioned, the "middle things" (res mediae), which therefore have nothing to do with the kingdom of God, are placed under the "free will" of man, while true righteousness is referred to God’s special grace and spiritual rebirth. With the intention of making this clear, the author of the work "Of the Calling of the Gentiles" enumerates three kinds of will: the sensual, the spiritual, and the mental; he now says that the first two kinds are free to man, while the last is the work of the Holy Spirit in man. (Pseudo-Ambrose, Of the Calling of the Gentiles I,2). Whether this is so true, we shall see in the given place. Here, however, I intend only to briefly communicate the opinion of others, not to refute it. In any case, the consequence of that assertion was that the teachers of the church, when they speak of "free will," do not first ask what it means for the civil, external works, but only what value it has for obedience to the divine law. I am convinced that the latter question is of the utmost importance, but I do not believe that the former should be left entirely aside. I hope to be able to justify this proposition perfectly. Among the scholastics, however, the main distinction was that three kinds of freedom were enumerated: first, freedom from necessity; second, freedom from sin; third, freedom from misery. The first, it was thought, was so inseparably connected with the nature of man that it could not be torn out under any circumstances; the other two, on the other hand, were lost through sin. I shall gladly adopt this distinction; but it mistakenly confuses "necessity" with "compulsion"-and it will become clear elsewhere how profound is the difference between these two, and how necessary it is to note it.

II,2,6 If this is accepted, then it is beyond all dispute that man has no "free will" which could help him to good works, if grace does not assist him, and that precisely the "special" grace (gratia specialis) which the elect alone receive through regeneration. For I do not want to get involved with such nonsensical people who say that grace is distributed to all in the same measure and without distinction. But this has not yet been clarified, whether man is completely deprived of any ability to act well, or whether he still has a little of it, even if it is small and weak. This would then be an ability, which would not be able to do anything by itself, but would do its part with the help of grace. This is the question that the master of sentences (Petrus Lombardus) wants to solve; and therefore he teaches that we need a double grace in order to be sent to good work. The one he calls "active grace" – it makes us want the good effectively. The other is called by him "cooperating grace", it follows with its assistance such good will (Sentences II,26). What I dislike about this division is this: it attributes the effective desire to God’s grace; but in doing so, it gives to understand that man himself desires the good in a certain way by nature, even if without effect. Thus, Bernhard also claims that the good will is God’s work, but then he allows man to desire this good will out of his own impulse! This has nothing to do with the opinion of Augustine, and nevertheless the Lombard wants to give the impression to have borrowed this division from him. In the second limb (the division), the ambiguity is repugnant to me, which then also caused a completely wrong interpretation. One has meant that we work together with the second ("cooperating") grace of God, namely by the fact that we have the possibility either to reject that first grace (the "working" one) and thereby make it ineffective, or to follow it obediently and thereby make it effective. The author of the work "On the Calling of the Gentiles" expresses it thus: He who follows the judgment of reason is free to depart from grace; and therefore it is an act worthy of reward not to depart from it; in this way, therefore, the good work, which indeed cannot take place without the cooperation of the Spirit, is imputed to the merits of man, whose will could also prevent it! (Book II,4). These two things had to be touched upon in passing, so that the reader may see how much I am at odds even with the more reasonable scholastics. Indeed, a far greater distance separates me from the newer sophists – and the more so, the more they, in their turn, deviate from the older kind. In any case, however, we learn from that division for what reason they conceded free will to man. For the Lombard finally expresses it: we have free will not because we are equally capable of doing or thinking good and evil, but only because we are free from compulsion. This freedom is not hindered (according to the Lombard) even if we are evil, even servants of sin, and can do nothing but sin (Sent. II,25).

II,2,7 In this way, then, free will is ascribed to man, not in the sense that he has the free choice to do good just as to do evil, but because he acts evil with will and not by compulsion. Now this is excellent – but what purpose should it actually serve to give such a trifling thing such a flaunting name? This is truly an excellent liberty, where man, though not compelled to sin-slavery, is such a voluntary servant (ethelodulos) that his will is held in bondage by sin! Forsooth, all quarreling about words (logomachia) is repugnant to me, for the church is plagued with it without benefit; but I think one should be quite careful about such expressions, which seem to contain something absurd, especially when dangerous error is imminent. Where on earth is there a man who, when he hears that free will is ascribed to man, does not immediately think that he is now master of his mind and will and can of his own accord turn in any direction? But someone might object that every danger in this direction would be eliminated if the people were diligently instructed about the meaning of the term. Yes, but the human mind is by nature so inclined to error that it can more easily take error from a single word than truth from a long speech. For this this very concept means a better proof than one could wish. For that interpretation of the ancients has been completely abandoned, and since then everyone sticks to the literal understanding of the expression "free will" and thus lets himself be carried away to pernicious self-confidence.

II,2,8 The authority of the church fathers stands high for us, of course; they constantly use the word "free will", but at the same time they clearly show how far they go in its application. Especially Augustine: he has no hesitation in calling the will a "subjugated", "unfree" one (Against Julian, Book I). In another place he starts against the people who deny the free will; but in doing so he also gives the very special reason: "Only let no one dare to deny the decisiveness (arbitrium) of the will in such a way that he wants to excuse sin with it" (Homily on John, 53). And in another place he clearly admits that without the Holy Spirit the will of man is not free, since it is subject to the desires that bind and overcome it (Letter 145). Or we also hear that after the will is overcome by the vice into which it has fallen, nature no longer has freedom (On the Perfection of Man’s Righteousness, 4:9). Or: man has made a bad use of his free will, and now he has lost his ability to decide (arbitrium) (Manual, 30). Or: free will has fallen into captivity, so that now it can no longer do anything for justice (Against Two Letters of the Pelagians to Bonifacius, III,8). Furthermore: What God’s grace has not made free, that is not free (ibid. I,3). And: God’s justice is not fulfilled when the law commands something and man does it, so to speak, with his own strength, but when the Spirit lends his assistance and not man’s free will, but his will, freed by God, performs obedience (III,7). The reason for all this is briefly summarized elsewhere as follows: man received great powers of free will in his creation, but lost them by sinning (Sermon 131). So he also shows in another place that free will comes about through grace, and then goes sharply against those who wanted to arrogate it to themselves without grace. He says: "How dare wretched men speak haughtily of free will before they have been made free at all, or of their powers before they have attained to freedom? They do not even notice that already in the word ’free will’ ’freedom’ is especially prominent. But where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! (2Cor 3:17). So if they are servants of sin, what do they boast of free will? For one is, after all, subject as a servant to the one who holds one captive! But if they are freed, what do they boast of, as if they had done something themselves? Or are they so free that they would not also be servants of him who says, Without me you can do nothing (John 15:5)?" (Of the Spirit and the Letter, XXX). Yes, in another place he seems to ridicule the (common) use of that expression, when he says: the will is free, but not made free, free from righteousness and a servant of sin! (Of discipline and grace, 13). He repeats this sentence elsewhere and elaborates on it: man is free from righteousness only by his own decision of will, but he becomes free from sin only by the grace of the Redeemer (To Bonifacius, I,2). If he testifies in this way that he understands by the freedom of man only his release from justice, then he seems to ridicule the empty concept of freedom! Therefore, if someone wants to use this concept without evil understanding, I do not want to torment him on that account. But I am of the opinion that the term cannot be retained without immeasurable danger, and that its abolition would bring great blessing to the church; therefore I do not want to use it myself, and I also want to advise others, if they want to hear my advice, against its use.

II,2,9 But perhaps it seems that I have aroused prejudice against myself by claiming that all the Doctors of the Church except Augustine have spoken about this in such an ambiguous and many-sided way that nothing certain can be learned from their writings. Some will interpret this as if I wanted to exclude them from the right to vote only because they were all opposed to me. But I had nothing else in mind than to advise God-fearing people simply and faithfully what is best, because if they wanted to expect something right from the opinion of the fathers in this matter, they would always have to remain in the dark. For sometimes they teach that man has lost the powers of free will and must take refuge in grace alone; sometimes, on the other hand, they arm him with his own weapons, or at least they appear to do so. But it is not difficult to prove that in this ambiguity of their teaching they also consider human power (virtus) to be nothing, or at least to be held in very low esteem, and thus give the praise for all that is good to the Holy Spirit. For this purpose, I will insert some of their sayings that clearly express this. Thus Augustine very often praises a word of Cyprian: "We should boast of no thing, for nothing is ours." What does Cyprian mean by this other than that man, having become completely nullified in and of himself, should learn to cling entirely to God? What does it mean when Augustine and Eucherius understand Christ by the tree of life and declare that he who stretches out his hands to it has life, or when they say that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the decision of the will (voluntatis arbitrium) - and he who leaves God’s grace and eats from it must die? (On Genesis, Book III). Or what does the word of Chrysostom mean: every man is not only a sinner by nature, but a sinner altogether? If nothing good belongs to us, if man is nothing but sin from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, if he cannot even try how far the faculty of free will extends – how is praise for a good work to be shared between God and man? I could cite such sayings from other writers in large numbers; but I will refrain from doing so, lest someone gossip that I am only presenting those that would serve my cause, but the others that speak against it, I cleverly omit. This, however, I dare to assert: Certainly, the teachers of the church sometimes go too far in praising free will; but as their aim and intention they had in mind to completely dissuade man from trusting in his own strength and to teach him that all his strength lies in God alone. Now I will try to show simply and truthfully what the nature of man is.

II,2,10 Here I must again cite the preface to this chapter. Namely: a man has only penetrated to the right self-knowledge when he is completely humiliated and pressed to the ground by the awareness of his need, his lack, his nakedness and shame. For there is no danger that man will deny himself too much. Only he must recognize that what he lacks is to be regained in God. But he cannot arrogate to himself even the slightest thing beyond his right without ruining himself in vain self-confidence, robbing God of his honor, appropriating it for himself and thereby making himself guilty of the most terrible sacrilege. And truly, once this greed comes to our mind, to want to have something for ourselves, which therefore would have its place in ourselves and not in God, we should know that this thought is whispered to us by the same counselor who once gave our first forefathers the desire to be like God and to know what is good and evil. It is a devil’s word, which inflates man in himself – and therefore we should not give it room, unless we want to take advice from the enemy! Certainly, we like to hear that we have so much strength of our own that we can rely on ourselves. But many serious words of Scripture, which strictly point out our limitations, frighten us from the temptations of such vain self-confidence. Thus, "Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and holdeth flesh for his arm …." (Jer 17:5). Or: "God is not pleased with the strength of a horse, nor with the thighs of a man; but he is well pleased with those who fear him and hope in his goodness" (Ps 147:10 s.). Further, "He gives strength to the weary and power enough to the unable. He makes the boys weary and faint and the young men stumble – but those who hope in him alone get new strength …" (Isa 40:29.31; not quite Luther text). These passages have the meaning: We should not rely in the least on our delusion of our own strength if we want to have a merciful God, because "He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (Prov 3:34. Jam 4:6). On the other hand, we should also remember such promises as: "I will pour out water on the thirsty and rivers on the dry" (Isa 44,3), or: "All you who are thirsty, come to the water" (Isa 55,1). There we are told that only those who languish in the consciousness of their poverty come to share in God’s blessings. Nor should we ignore passages like the one in Isaiah: "The sun shall no more shine upon thee by day, neither shall the brightness of the moon give thee light by night; but the Lord shall be thy everlasting light" (Isa 60:19). Certainly the Lord does not want to take away from his servants the splendor of the sun or the moon; but he wants to appear glorious among them alone, and therefore he also draws their trust far away from what is most glorious in their opinion.

II,2,11 At all times a word of Chrysostom has pleased me mightily: Let humility be the foundation of our wisdom (Homilies on the Progress of the Gospel, III). I was even more pleased by a saying of Augustine: "Once an orator was asked which rule should be observed first and foremost in eloquence. He answered: ’The lecture’. And in the second place? Again: ’The lecture’! And in third place? Again: ’The lecture’! In the same way, if you asked me what was the most important thing in the rules of the Christian religion, I would have to name first and second and third and always only humility!" (Letter to Dioskur, 118). By humility, however, he does not mean that a man, conscious of some virtue, refrains from pride and pomposity, but rather, as he explains elsewhere, the certainty of man to be such that he can find a refuge only in humility. Thus he says: "Let no one flatter himself; he is of himself a Satan; that by which he is saved he has from God alone. What do you have of yourself but sin? Take the sin that is yours, for righteousness is God’s gift" (Interpretation of John, 49). Or also: "Why do you so highly esteem the ability of nature? She is wounded, sick, bruised and corrupted! What is needed is a right confession, not a wrong defense" (Nature and Grace, 66). Likewise: "Once everyone recognizes that he is nothing in himself and receives no help from himself, then the weapons are broken in him and the war is settled. But it is also really necessary that all weapons of ungodliness are shattered, crushed and burned and you are left weaponless and have no help in yourself. The weaker you are in yourself, the sooner the Lord will accept you" (on Ps 45). So, too, in his explanation of the seventieth Psalm, he forbids us all thinking of our own righteousness, so that we might know God’s righteousness, and he shows how God makes his mercy so great to us that we know: we are nothing. By God’s mercy alone we gain permanence, while of ourselves we are only evil (On Ps 70: I,2). Therefore, we should not argue with God about our rights, as if our salvation would be deprived of what is attributed to Him. For as our lowliness is his majesty, so also the confession of our lowliness finds his mercy ready as a remedy. But I do not demand that man should humble himself without conviction, or that he should turn away from powers (facultates) which he possesses, in order thus to submit himself in true humility. No, he should abandon all the sickness of self-love and ambition – for he is blinded by them and thus thinks more highly of himself than is right – and instead recognize himself rightly in the untainted mirror of Scripture.

II,2,12 The generally accepted opinion, borrowed from Augustine, according to which the natural gifts in man are corrupted by sin, while the supernatural gifts are completely extinguished, meets with my approval. By the "supernatural gifts" in the second clause of the sentence one understands the light of faith and righteousness, which would have been sufficient to attain heavenly life and eternal blessedness. Thus, at the same time as being removed from God’s kingdom, man has also lost the spiritual gifts with which he was equipped for the hope of eternal salvation. It follows that he lives banished from the kingdom of God in such a way that everything that belongs to the blessed life of the soul is extinguished in him – until he is born again by the grace of the Holy Spirit and regains these gifts. These include faith, love of God, love of neighbor, and the pursuit of holiness and righteousness. All these things Christ restores to us; but by this very fact they are called something added (from without) and not belonging to nature; and from this we conclude that they are done away with (by the fall). On the other hand, at the same time the health of the "mind" (intellect) and the sincerity of the heart (will) have been lost, and this is the "corruption" of the natural gifts. For there remains a residuum of understanding and judgment (iudicium), together with the will; but we cannot say that the mind is intact and healthy, because it is weak and covered with much darkness; moreover, the perversity of the will is more than sufficiently known. Therefore, since reason, with which man distinguishes between good and evil, understands and judges, is a natural gift, it could not be completely destroyed, but it is partly weakened, partly corrupted, so that thus (only) shapeless fragments (deformes ruinae) are still visible. In this sense John says: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it" (John 1:5). In this saying both are clearly expressed: On the one hand, it is shown that in the perverse and degenerate nature of man there still glimmer sparks that show that he is a rational being (rationale animal) and differs from the animals, because he is endowed with understanding. But on the other hand it is said: this light is suffocated by the terribly dense darkness of ignorance in such a way that it cannot shine effectively. So also the will is not lost, because it cannot be separated from the nature of man; but it has fallen into the captivity of evil desires, so that it can no longer desire anything right. With this a complete description is now given; but it requires a more detailed unfolding. We shall now proceed in order, according to the division given above, according to which we have distinguished between the intellect and the will in the soul of man. Thus we must first examine the power of the intellect. It would be contrary not only to the word of God, but also to the general experience (sensus communis experientia), if the intellect were condemned to permanent blindness in such a way that no knowledge of anything would remain to it. For we see that some desire is implanted in the human mind to search for the truth, and such striving for the truth would be impossible if it did not already have an inkling of it. A certain cognitive faculty of the intellect lies therefore already in the fact that it is stimulated by nature to love the truth; the fact that the animals do not know it is precisely a proof of their raw and senseless senses. Admittedly, however this desire for truth may be constituted, it fails even before it actually comes into effect, for it soon lapses into vanity. The human spirit, in its weakness of vision, cannot stop on the right way to search for the truth, but loses itself in various errors, often stumbles, because it gropes around as if in darkness, until it finally, tired of wandering, flutters away. Thus, just above seeking the truth, he shows how incapable he is of seeking and finding it. Our mind also has a hard time with a second delusion: it often cannot see clearly which objects are actually most deserving of our thorough investigation. Therefore, in ridiculous curiosity, it torments itself with the investigation of superfluous and trivial things and, on the other hand, does not turn at all to such things that are most necessary to recognize or, in any case, treats them with a lack of respect, deals with them only rarely, but, in fact, hardly ever uses real zeal for them. Secular writers very often complain about this fault, and thereby they admit that almost all people are afflicted with it. So also Solomon in his whole "Ecclesiastes" pursues the thinking and striving in which men seem to be particularly wise, and then nevertheless declares that this is all "vain" and useless!

II,2,13 However, the efforts of the human spirit are not always so fruitless that nothing comes out of it; especially when it aims more at the lower. Yes, he is also not so rigid that he does not also understand a little of the higher things, even if the occupation with them happens less thoroughly; admittedly, our maturity to recognize the higher things is nevertheless incomparably lower. For once man goes beyond the realm of this earthly life, he becomes quite aware of his inadequacy. In order to be able to recognize better how far the intellect comes with the individual things according to the strength of its cognitive faculty, we must therefore make a difference. And this should consist in the fact that we make clear to ourselves: the cognition of earthly things is something different from that of heavenly things. By "earthly" things I mean those which have nothing to do with God, His kingdom, true righteousness and the blessedness of the life to come, but which, according to their meaning and relations, belong to the present life and remain, so to speak, within its limits. By "heavenly" things I mean the pure knowledge of God, the way to true righteousness and the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. To the first group belong the worldly regiment, the household art, all crafts and the liberal arts. The second group includes the knowledge of God and His will, and the guide to live one’s life according to this knowledge. Of the first group the following is to be said: Man is a being designed by nature for community (animal natura sociale) and therefore tends by natural instinct to maintain and promote this community. Therefore we note that general sentiments for a certain civic respectability and order are inherent in all men. Hence there is no man to be found who does not understand that every human community must be held together by laws, and who does not carry in his mind the principles of such legislation. Hence also comes that perpetual agreement of all peoples and also of individual mortals with regard to the laws; for the seeds for this are sown in all men without teachers and lawgivers. I shall not dwell on the discord and strife which soon arise when some desire to overthrow all human and divine law, to break all the barriers of the law, and to give free rein to lust for their own right alone, like thieves and robbers, or when others, which is an all too common evil, declare to be wrong what other people have established as right, or to be praiseworthy what those forbid! For the hatred of such people against the laws has not its reason in the fact that they do not know that they are good and holy; but they rage in wild greed, fight against the clearly recognized reason and abhor in their lust what they approve with the strength of their own understanding! This last described quarrel is of such a nature that it does not dissolve that original consciousness about the right. On the contrary: If men are in dispute about some pieces of the laws, there is nevertheless agreement concerning the essential existence of the right. Admittedly, the inadequacy of the human spirit proves itself here: even where it seems to follow the right way, it stumbles and wavers! Nevertheless, it remains with the statement: all men have, so to speak, a seed of the order of the worldly regime laid in their hearts. And this is a strong proof that in the conduct of this (earthly) life no man is without the light of reason.

II,2,14 Now follow the liberal arts and crafts. We all have some skill in them, and the fact that we are able to learn them also brings to light the power of the human mind. Certainly, not all of us are able to learn everything; but it is quite a clear sign of the generally existing power that almost no one is to be found whose insight would not be noticeable (at least) in some skill! But strength and agility prove themselves not only in learning, but also in thinking out something new in an art and also in perfecting and training what one has learned from someone else. This observation once gave Plato the wrong idea that such comprehension is nothing but memory. However, it forces us with good reason to admit that the initial reasons for this are innate in the human spirit. This evidence clearly proves that a general concept of reason and understanding is inherent in man by nature. And yet this good is so universally present that each individual must personally recognize in it a special gift of God’s grace. To this gratitude the Creator of nature himself encourages us most powerfully; for he also creates fools, in order to show in them what abilities actually distinguish the human soul, if it is not flooded (perfusa) by his light – and this latter takes place by nature almost in all men, so that it represents for every individual a free gift of his grace! Now the invention of the arts and the orderly instruction in them, or also the penetrating and far-reaching knowledge - which is peculiar to only a few – is not sufficient proof of general cognition. But it is common to both the pious and the unpious and is therefore rightly counted among the natural gifts.

II,2,15 As often as we read pagan writers, the light of truth shines wonderfully to us from them. From this we see that although the human spirit has fallen out of its original purity and is corrupted, it is still equipped and adorned with excellent gifts of God. If we now consider that the Spirit of God is the only source of truth, we will neither reject nor despise the truth wherever it meets us – otherwise we would be despisers of the Spirit of God! For one cannot disparage the gifts of the Spirit without despising and reviling the Spirit itself! Why should we? Shall we deny that truth shone to the ancient jurists, when they described with such justice the civil order and discipline (civilem ordinem et disciplinam)? Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those lacked reason who presented the art of reasoning and taught us to talk sensibly? Shall we declare nonsensical those who have served us with such diligence by training in the science of healing? What shall we say to the mathematical sciences? Shall we consider them frenzy of madmen? No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on this without great admiration, and we come to this because we must necessarily declare them excellent according to the facts. But can we at all declare something praiseworthy or excellent without at the same time recognizing that it comes from God? We should be ashamed of such ingratitude; even the heathen poets did not fall into it: they declared that philosophy and legislation and all fine arts were teachings of the gods! So even these men, whom the Scriptures call "natural men," are evidently perceptive and cognizant to this degree in the study of lower things. From such examples we shall learn how much good the Lord has left for us humans, after we have lost the true good!

II,2,16 But in the meantime we do not want to overlook that these abilities are the most glorious gifts of the Spirit of God, which He distributes to whom He wills for the common good of the human race. If Bezaleel and Oholiab had the intellect and the knowledge that were necessary for the making of the tabernacle, they had to be filled with it by the spirit of God (Ex 31:2 ff.; 35:30 ff.). And so it is not surprising that it is said that the knowledge of the things that are of the greatest importance in human life is given to us by the Spirit of God. But no one has reason to ask: What do the ungodly have to do with the Holy Spirit, since they are completely separated from God? For it is said that the Spirit of God dwells only in the believers (cf. Rom 8,9), but this must be related to the Spirit of sanctification, through which we are consecrated to God Himself as a temple. But therefore God, by the power of the same Spirit, no less fills, moves, and strengthens all things, according to the peculiarity of each individual being as he has assigned it to him by the law of creation (creationis lege). Therefore, if the Lord wants to provide us with assistance through the help and service of infidels in natural science, in the science of thought or mathematics or other sciences, we should make use of it. In the other case we would despise God’s gifts, which are offered to us in them by ourselves, and we would be rightly punished for our laziness! But let no one consider man blissful for the very reason that such a power to comprehend the truth is granted him among the transitory things of this world. Therefore it must be added at once: this whole power of comprehension, this understanding, as it results from it – it is nevertheless a changeable and void thing before God, if it does not rest on the firm foundation of truth (itself)! For Augustin, whom, as I have said, the Master of Sentences (II,25) and the scholastics had to follow, is right after all when he says that the gifts of grace were withdrawn from man after the fall and that likewise the remaining natural gifts were corrupted. Now this does not mean that they are stained by themselves, for they come from God. But to the defiled man they are no longer pure, so that he cannot seek his glory in them!

II,2,17 As the main content of what has just been said, let us note: In the whole human race it can be seen that reason is inherent in our nature; it distinguishes us from the animals, just as the latter are distinguished from the inanimate beings by the possession of feeling. Fools and feeble-minded people are born, but this lack does not darken God’s general grace (generalem Dei gratiam). Rather, just such a lamentation reminds us that all that we have left is to be attributed with good reason to God’s grace: if he had not spared us, the fall would have brought with it the ruin of the whole of nature. But in the fact that one person excels in sagacity, another in discernment, yet another is especially gifted in learning this or that skill, thus in this diversity God presents his grace to our eyes – so that each one does not arrogate to himself what flowed to him from his mere generosity. For where else should it come from that one stands out above the other, than from the fact that within the common nature the special grace of God (specialis Dei gratia) should become visible, which passes by many and thereby testifies most clearly that it has no obligation towards anyone? On top of this, it must be noted that God, according to the special vocation (vocatio) of the individual, also arouses special motivating forces in him; we find much evidence of this in the book of Judges, where it is said that the Spirit of the Lord took hold of those whom he had called to govern the people (Judges 6:34). Finally, a special impulse appears in special events; thus those went with Saul "to whom God had touched the heart" (1Sam 10:26). And at the investiture of Saul with the kingship, Samuel says, "The Spirit of the Lord shall come upon thee, and thou shalt become another man" (1Sam 10:6). This refers to the entire course of the reign, as David is later reported as saying that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him on that day and from that day forward (1Sam 16:13). But exactly this is said in other places about the special impulses of the spirit. Yes, in Homer it is said that men do not have their mind only according to the measure of the (one-time) allotment by Jupiter, but they possess it "according to how he rules them daily" (Odyssey). And the experience shows indeed – for example, when otherwise very gifted and knowledgeable people often suddenly stand there as if thunderstruck – how the spirit of man is so much in the hand and will of God that he governs him in the individual moments! So it is also said: "He takes away the understanding of the prudent, that they wander in error" (Ps 107,40; not Luther text). But even in the midst of such great differences we see certain remaining characteristics of the image of God, which set the whole human race apart from the other creatures.

II,2,18 Now we want to discuss what human reason is capable of when it comes to the kingdom of God and spiritual insight. This spiritual insight consists primarily of three pieces: (1) knowing God, (2) His fatherly grace toward us, on which our salvation rests, and (3) the right way to conduct our lives according to the guidance of the law. In the first two pieces, especially the second, even the otherwise most clever people are blinder than moles. I do not deny, of course, that now and then one can read reasonable and clever statements about God among philosophers; but they always taste, as it were, of giddy fantasy. It is true that the Lord has given them, as I said, a slight inkling of his divinity, so that they cannot excuse themselves in their unpiety with ignorance. Also, he has sometimes driven them to say things whose admission overcomes them. But where they have seen something, it has happened in such a way that they have not been led in the least to the truth by this vision, let alone reached it. It is as when a wanderer, who is in the field, perceives for a moment the glow of a nocturnal flash of lightning in all directions: he sees it, but it happens with a rapidly fading vision, which, before he can stir a foot, is again swallowed up by the nocturnal darkness; so with the help of this light he is hardly brought back on the right path! And moreover, with how many and how terrible lies are those droplets of truth, which they sprinkle by chance over their books, sullied! And finally, they have never even suspected that certainty of God’s good pleasure toward us, without which the human spirit is necessarily full of immense confusion. The real truth would be that we understand who the true God is and how he wants to relate to us – but our reason cannot reach there, it cannot penetrate there, not even align itself!

II,2,19 But we are intoxicated by the foolish esteem of our power of knowledge and therefore we are very unwilling to be convinced that it is completely blind and dull in divine things. That is why I am of the opinion that it is better to prove this with scriptural testimonies than with reasons of reason. John teaches it very finely in the above mentioned passage: "In Him (Calvin: in God) was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it" (John 1:4.5). There he shows: certainly the soul of man is illuminated by the radiance of divine light, so that it – even if it is a small flame or even only a tiny spark - never completely lacks it; but nevertheless it does not understand God even in such illumination. Why? Because their understanding, when it comes to the knowledge of God, is darkness! For when the Holy Spirit calls men "darkness," he thereby denies them any capacity for spiritual knowledge. Therefore he also shows that the believers who accept Christ in faith are not born of blood nor of the will of a man, but of God (John 1:13). And that means: The flesh does not have such high wisdom in itself that it can recognize God and His own, if it is not enlightened by God’s spirit. Christ also testifies that Peter’s confession was a special revelation of the Father! (Mt 16,17).

II,2,20 If we were really convinced that our nature lacks that which the heavenly Father bestows on His elect through the spirit of regeneration – and that is beyond doubt! – There would be no reason for any doubts here. For the believing people say with the prophet: "You are the source of life, and in your light we see the light!" (Ps 36:10). The apostle testifies the same with the words: "No one can call Christ Lord without in the Holy Spirit" (1Cor 12:3). And when John the Baptist sees the dullness of his disciples, he exclaims: "No one can take anything unless it is given to him from above" (John 3:27). Here he understands by the "gift" the special enlightenment and not, for instance, the general endowment; for he complains that with all his words in which he praises Christ to his disciples he has achieved nothing. "I see," he wants to say, "that words are not sufficient to instruct men’s hearts about divine things, unless the Lord has first given understanding by his Spirit." Even Moses, who reproaches the people for their indifference, yet at the same time remarks that they cannot attain to any wisdom in the mysteries of God without his special gift. "Your eyes have seen the great signs and wonders, but the Lord has not yet given you to this day a heart to understand, ears to hear, and eyes to see" (Deut 29:2f.). Would it be an even harsher expression if he called us lumps towards the contemplation of the works of God? Therefore, the Lord also promises through the prophet as a special grace that he will give the Israelites a heart to be known by them! (Jer 24,7). Thereby he indicates quite subtly: the spirit of man has exactly as much spiritual understanding as it is previously enlightened by him! This is also clearly confirmed by Christ with his own word: "No one can come to me, except it be given him by my Father" (John 6,44). Why? Isa he not himself the living image of the Father, in whom all the splendor of his glory comes to us? For this reason, he could not better explain our ability to know God than by denying us the eyes to recognize this image of God, when it is so clearly presented to us! How – did he not come to earth to reveal the will of the Father to men? And has he not faithfully accomplished this work of his mission? It is certainly so; but his preaching accomplishes nothing if the spirit as an inner teacher does not pave the way for him to the hearts. And therefore only those come to him who hear it from the Father and are taught by him. But how does such learning and hearing work? Just in such a way that the spirit in miraculous and unique power creates ears to hear and a sense to understand! And so that this does not appear as something new, the Lord refers to the prophecy of Isaiah (John 6,45): he promises the building up of the church and teaches that those who are called to salvation should be God’s disciples (Isa 54,13). So when God says something special about His elect in this passage, He is obviously not speaking of that instruction which is also proper to the unfaithful and unbelievers. We must therefore recognize: the entrance into God’s kingdom is only open to those to whom the Holy Spirit has given a new meaning through His enlightenment. This is what the apostle Paul testifies most clearly; he first rejects all human wisdom and declares it to be foolishness and vanity; then he deliberately gets involved in the above-mentioned question and comes to the conclusion: "The natural man hears nothing of the Spirit of God, it is foolishness to him and he cannot know it; for it must be judged spiritually" (1Cor 2:14). Who does he call "natural man" here? But evidently the one who relies on the light of nature. And he, I say, understands nothing of the spiritual mysteries of God! Why is that? Does he omit it out of convenience? No, he is not able to do anything, no matter how hard he tries, because it has to be judged spiritually. And what does this mean? These things are completely hidden from human insight and thus become accessible only through the revelation of the Spirit, and therefore they are necessarily considered foolishness where the illumination by the Spirit of God is lacking. Just before this passage, Paul had shown how what God has "prepared for those who love Him" is beyond all comprehension of the eyes, ears, and senses. Yes, he had testified that human wisdom is virtually a curtain that prevents the spirit of man from beholding God! What more do we want? The apostle says that God has made the wisdom of this world foolishness (1Cor 1:20) – and we want to attribute to it an acumen with which it is able to penetrate to God and the inaccessible mysteries of the kingdom of heaven? Such folly be far from us!

II,2,21 What Paul thus denies to man, he attributes elsewhere to God alone. For he prays: "God, the Father of glory, give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation" (Eph 1:17). There you can already hear: all wisdom and revelation is God’s gift! And then he asks further: "…and enlightened eyes of your mind". If the readers of this letter need a new revelation, they are blind of themselves; and so it continues: "That ye may know what is the hope of your profession…" (Eph 1:18). So he confesses that the spirit of man does not have the understanding to recognize man’s calling. Now, let not any Pelagian tell me that God supports this very dullness and ignorance when he guides the human mind through the teaching of his word to a place where it could not reach without a guide. For David also possessed the law, in which everything was decided that could be desired in wisdom; and yet he is not satisfied with it, but asks that his eyes be opened, so that he "may see the wonders of his law" (Ps 119:18). With this he surely wants to imply: When God’s word shines on man, the sun certainly rises for the earth; but still man does not have much blessing from it before He who is called the "Father of light" (Jam 1:17) gives him his eyes and opens them. For where he does not create light by his Spirit, all is darkness! The apostles had also received proper and abundant instruction from their great Master, but they would not have received the commandment to wait for the Spirit of truth to instruct their hearts in the doctrine they had heard before, if they had not needed it! (John 14:26). When we ask something from God, we confess that we lack it, and He Himself proves our lack precisely by what He promises us! Therefore, we must confess without hesitation: we are able to penetrate the mysteries of God only as far as we are enlightened by His grace. He who ascribes more understanding to himself is only more blind, because he does not recognize his blindness!

II,2,22 It remains for us to deal with the third piece, which concerns the knowledge of the guideline of right conduct of life, which we also call, not incorrectly, the "knowledge of the righteousness of works". Now here the human mind seems to be a little more capable of knowledge than in the other two pieces. For the apostle testifies: "The Gentiles, who have not the law, but do the works of the law, are … are a law unto themselves, and show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, because their consciences testify unto them, as well as their thoughts, which accuse or excuse one another in the court of God" (Rom 2:14, 15; not quite Luther’s text). If, then, the righteousness of the law is by nature engraved on the hearts of the Gentiles, we certainly cannot say that they are completely blind in the conduct of their lives. Thus it has also come to the extraordinarily widespread opinion that through the "natural law" (lex naturalis), which the apostle means here, man is sufficiently equipped to find the right way. Let us consider, on the other hand, what this knowledge of the law is actually inherent in man for; and then it will immediately become clear how far its guidance brings us close to the goal of reason and truth. This is also clear from Paul’s words, if we only pay attention to the context. Shortly before he states: those who have sinned under the law are judged by the law, but those who have sinned without the law perish without the law. Now it could seem absurd that the Gentiles should perish without all preceding judgment; therefore he immediately adds that with them the conscience has the effect of the law, and it is therefore sufficient for their just condemnation. The purpose of the natural law (lex naturalis) is therefore that man becomes inexcusable. Therefore it (the natural law) is not badly described when it is said that it is the knowledge of the conscience, which distinguishes sufficiently clearly between just and unjust; it has, therefore, after this, the task of taking away from man every pretext of ignorance, since he is convicted by his own testimony! But therein consists man’s forbearance against himself, that though he does evil, yet he turns his thoughts, as far as he can, from the knowledge of sin. This seems to have been the reason which led Plato to the opinion that man sins only in ignorance (Protagoras). This would be a correct judgment if human hypocrisy, with its concealment of sin, really achieved the disappearance in the human heart of all consciousness of being evil before God. But the sinner may flee from the judgment of good and evil impressed upon him – he must always return to it, and it is not made possible for him to overlook it altogether, but he must, whether he will or not, open his eyes once! Therefore it is wrong to say that he sins merely in ignorance.

II,2,23 Themistius expresses himself more correctly. He teaches that the mind is very seldom mistaken in the general description of an object, i.e. with regard to its essence, but it does not remain free of delusions if it goes beyond that, i.e. if it seeks an application to its own person. (Of the Soul, VI,6). Thus, no man denies that murder is something evil – provided one judges in general. And yet, he who plots to kill an enemy makes his plans as if he wanted to do something good! The adultery even the adulterer will condemn – but the one committed by himself he will forgive! Therein lies the ignorance, that man, in the individual application, forgets the rule which he has just laid down as having general validity! Augustine speaks about this very finely in his interpretation of the first verse of Ps 57. Of course, even the rule of Themistius does not apply in general, for the frivolity of vice sometimes oppresses the conscience in such a way that man, not deceived by the false appearance of good, but with his own knowledge and will, runs into evil. From such a troubled mind come such sayings as: "I see the better and acknowledge it, but I follow the worse" (Medea, in Ovid Met. VII,20). For this reason it seems to me very correct when Aristotle distinguishes between incontinentia and intemperantia. Where incontinentia reigns, there, according to Aristotle, the spirit is robbed of special knowledge by confused feeling and passion; thus it does not even notice the evil in its deed, although it generally recognizes it in deeds of the same kind, – if the intoxication is over, then repentance immediately follows. The licentiousness, on the other hand, is not extinguished by the consciousness of sin and is not broken, but it remains stiffly with the once made conscious decision for evil.

II,2,24 Certainly, we heard that there is a general judgment in man to distinguish good from evil. But we must not think that this judgment is always sound and without error. For the distinction between just and unjust is placed in man’s heart only so that he may be deprived of any possibility of excusing himself with ignorance. For this reason, however, it is not at all necessary for him to see the truth in all individual questions, but it is more than enough if his understanding reaches so far that any evasion becomes impossible for him and he, convicted by his conscience as a witness, already begins to be frightened before God’s judgment seat. If we want to test our reason by the law of God, which alone is the image of perfect justice, we will find out in how many ways it is blind! In any case, it does not recognize the main points of the first table, such as: that one should trust God, give him praise for all power and righteousness, call upon his name and keep the Sabbath day holy. What soul has ever even suspected, by means of natural feeling, that the right worship of God consists in these and similar things? For when impious people want to worship God, they can be called back a hundred times from their empty fantasies – they still fall for it again and again! They deny that sacrifices are pleasing to God without the integrity of the heart; thus they testify that they have an inkling of the worship of God in the spirit – but this they soon corrupt again with their false imaginings! They will never be convinced of the truth of what the law says about this. And shall I say that the spirit of man possesses a faculty of knowledge, when it is neither able to think correctly nor to listen to admonitions? Man understands a little more about the commandments of the second table, insofar as they are more closely related to the preservation of human society. Admittedly, even here there is sometimes a great deficiency. Thus, even for the most exalted spirits, it is something contrary to endure an unjust and all too violent rule, if there is a favorable opportunity to shake off the yoke. The judgment of human reason here is: to bear such rule patiently is a sign of cowardly servitude, and on the other hand, to shake it off shows honorable and noble disposition. Nor is it considered sacrilege by the philosophers for one to take revenge for wrongs done. But the Lord condemns this excessive arrogance and enjoins on his people the patience that is despised by men. Finally, however, the condemnation of evil desire is generally beyond our comprehension when we consider the entire law. For the natural man cannot be brought to recognize the manifold infirmities of his desires! Before he reaches the depths of this abyss, the light of nature is extinguished. For the philosophers call the disordered impulses vices, but they mean only the outward ones, which manifest themselves in gross effects. But the evil inward desires, which finely beguile the spirit, they regard as nothing.

II,2,25 As we have contradicted Plato above, because he attributes all sin to ignorance, so we must now also oppose those who think that in all sins there is a conscious wickedness and wickedness at work. For we realize far too clearly how often we fall short in the best of intentions! Our reason is overrun by so many deceptions, is subject to so much error, entangled in so many obstacles, caught up in so many fears, that there can be no question of safe guidance. Paul shows how futile it is before the Lord in all aspects of our lives: "We are not able to think anything of ourselves but ourselves" (2 Cor. 3:5). He does not speak here of will or feeling, but he denies that it could even occur to us how to do something right. Isa then all our zeal, all our perspicacity, all our understanding, all our diligence so corrupted that they are unable to conceive or consider anything that is right in the sight of the Lord? Certainly, we are most displeased when the sharpness of our reason, which we consider to be the most exquisite faculty, is denied us, and so it seems all too harsh to us. But it seems right and just to the Holy Spirit, because he knows that all thoughts of the wise are void, and he says it clearly: "All thoughts and aspirations of the human heart are always evil" (Ps 94,11; Gen 6,5; 8,21). If everything that our mind thinks about, decides upon, plans and puts into action is always evil – how can it then occur to us to plan something that is right before God, to whom alone holiness and justice are pleasing? Thus our reason is obviously miserably subject to vanity wherever it turns. David was aware of this weakness when he prayed that he would be given understanding to learn the commandments of the Lord (Ps 119:34). When he asks for a new mind, he indicates that his spirit is not sufficient in the least. He does not express this request only once, but he repeats it ten times in one psalm (Ps 119, This repetition makes obvious how great the need is that urges him to such a request. And what he asks for himself alone, Paul used to ask for all the churches: "We do not cease praying and asking for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of God in all wisdom and understanding, that you may walk worthy of the Lord…." (Phil 1:9; Col 1:9). And every time he praises this as a benefit of God, he wants to testify that it is not in man’s ability. This inability of reason to recognize the divine things was also well noticed by Augustin, and in such a way that he thinks that our "mind" (intellect) needs the grace of enlightenment just as our eye needs light. Yes, he is not satisfied with this, but immediately adds an improvement to his sentence: namely, that we open our (physical) eyes ourselves in order to see the light, while the eyes of our "mind" remain closed if the Lord does not open them. (Of Guilt and Forgiveness of Sins, II,5). Also, according to the teaching of Scripture, our "mind" is not enlightened once and for all in one day, in order to then see by itself; for what I have just quoted from Paul refers to a permanent progress and growth. David says this explicitly: "I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commandments!" (Ps 119:10). He was born again, after all, had grown exceptionally in true piety – and yet he confesses to needing special guidance for every single moment, so as not to stray again from the knowledge that had come to him! That is why he asks elsewhere that he be given – what he had lost! – a "new and certain spirit" (Ps 51:12); for God, who gave us the spirit in the beginning, is the only one who can give it back to us when it has been taken from us for a while.

II,2,26 Now we must examine the will, in which, if at all, the "freedom of the will" is most likely to operate. For we already saw that the decision lies more with it than with the intellect. Now it is taught by the philosophers, and the general conception has taken it up, that all beings desire "the good" from natural instinct. But it must not appear that this has anything to do with the perfection of the human will; in order to recognize this, let us keep in mind: the power of free will is not to be sought in such a desire as arises from a natural inclination founded in the nature of man, but not from (conscious) consideration of the "mind." For even the scholastics admit that free will becomes active only where reason is confronted with opposing possibilities. This means: the object of desire must be subject to the decision, and it must be preceded by a consideration which paves the way for the decision. If we look more closely at this natural striving for the "good" in man, we find that he has it in common with the animals. For they, too, have the urge to let it be good for themselves, and wherever they encounter the appearance of the good, which touches their sensibilities, they follow it. Man, on the other hand, does not actually choose with his reason what is really good for him and would correspond to the dignity of his immortal nature, in order to then carry it out with zeal. Neither does he consult his reason, nor does he otherwise apply the proper attention to the matter. No, he follows the natural inclination like the animals without reason, without right plan. The question whether man is led by natural feeling (sensu naturae) to desire the good, therefore, has nothing to do with free will. Rather the free will requires that he recognizes the good on the basis of correct and reasonable consideration (recta ratione), decides for the correctly recognized and also carries out this decision! Now, so that no doubt remains with any reader, a double misunderstanding is to be considered. For on the one hand, "desire" above does not mean an actual impulse of the will, but a natural impulse, and on the other hand, the "good" does not denote something that would have to do with virtue and justice, but a mere state, namely: the well-being of man! And then: no matter how much man may desire to attain the "good," he does not pursue it; just as everyone considers eternal bliss to be something beautiful, and yet without the impulse of the spirit no one really reaches out for it. Thus the natural desire of man to have it good says nothing at all for the possible proof of free will, no more than the natural inclination in metals and rocks to perfect their nature. So we want to consider in another direction whether the will is in every way so corrupted and degenerated that it produces only evil from itself, or whether there is still something intact in it from which right desire could arise.

II,2,27 Some attribute to the "first grace of God" (prima Dei gratia) the effect that we can effectively will. With this, on the other hand, they also imply: the soul has by nature the capacity to reach out by itself for the good, only it is too weak to produce a strong inner movement or to trigger a real drive of action (conatus). This opinion, which comes from Origen and some of the ancients, has undoubtedly been taken up by all the scholastics, who refer to the words of the apostle: "The good that I want, I do not do, but the evil that I do not want, I do. I want to do, but I do not find the good to do" (Rom 7,15.19). According to their judgment, the person Paul describes here is in a purely natural position (in puris naturalibus). – But in doing so, they completely distort the issue that Paul is talking about in this passage. For he is talking about the struggle of the Christian, which he also briefly touches on in Gal 5:17, the struggle that the believers are always going through in the conflict of flesh and spirit. Now the spirit is not ours by nature, but by regeneration. (Porro Spiritus non a natura est, sed a regeneratione). That the apostle speaks of the born again is also evident from the fact that he immediately adds to the sentence that nothing good dwells in him: "that is, in my flesh" (Rom 7,16). According to his words, it is not he himself who does evil, but the sin that dwells in him (Rom 7,20). But what is the meaning of this addition: "In me, that is in my flesh"? But apparently the same as if he said: In me dwells from myself nothing good, because in my flesh is nothing good to be discovered. Hence follows then also the form of the excuse: It is not I myself who do evil, "but the sin that dwells in me." Such an apology only comes to the born-again, who with the most important part of their soul (praecipua animae parte) incline towards the good. All this becomes very clear from the final words of the apostle: "I delight in God’s law according to the inward man; but I see another law in my members, contrary to the law in my mind …" (Rom 7:22, 23). Who else should carry such a contradiction in himself than he who is born again of the Spirit of God, but at the same time drags along the remnants of the flesh? So also Augustin, who at first wanted to refer this whole passage to the nature of man, has withdrawn his interpretation as wrong and improper (To Bonifacius, I,10 and Retract, I,23; II,1). But if we want to assume that man, even without grace, has certain, however slight, impulses for good, what shall we say to the fact that the apostle declares us incapable of "thinking anything but of ourselves"? (2Cor 3:5). What shall we say to the Lord who says through Moses that all the thoughts and actions of the human heart are always evil? (Gen 8:21). The advocates of free will have merely clung here to a biblical passage that they have misunderstood, and therefore we need not dwell any longer on their view. We rather stick to Christ’s own word: "He who commits sin is the servant of sin" (John 8:34). And sinners we all are by nature: therefore we all live under their yoke. But if the whole man is subject to the dominion of sin, then necessarily all the more the will, which is its special abode, is bound with the hardest fetters. Also, the word of Paul: "It is God who works in us the will …" (Phil 2,13) could not exist if the will would somehow precede the grace of the Holy Spirit! Therefore, what many people have talked about the "preparation" (of man for salvation) should stay away! Certainly, sometimes believers pray for their hearts to be prepared for obedience to God’s law, as David does several times. But it must be remembered that even the desire to pray comes from God! This is also clear from David’s words; for if he desires that a new heart be created in him (Ps 51:12), he does not thereby ascribe to himself the authorship of such a new creation! We would rather accept the words of Augustine: "God has preceded you in everything – now you also precede his wrath! And how? Confess that you have all this from God, that you have received from him all that you possess that is good, but from yourself what is evil in you." Or shortly after: "Ours is nothing but sin" (Sermon 176:5).

Third chapter

Nothing but damnable comes out of the corrupt nature of man.

II,3,1 But man can best be judged according to his two soul powers (intellect and will) when he comes to light with the titles that the Scriptures give him. If he is described as a whole in Christ’s words, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" – and this will be proved in a moment! – then, however, he is obviously a miserable being. For the carnal mind ("being carnally minded" Rom 8:6f.) "is death, because it is enmity against God, and therefore is not subject to the law, neither is able to be." "Isa then the flesh so corrupt that it cannot agree with the righteousness of the divine law, and is not able to bring forth anything but death?"-Assume that man’s nature is only carnal, and then see if you can bring anything good to light from it! – "But surely the word ’flesh’ refers only to the sensual realm of the soul, not to the higher!" – This can be amply refuted from the words of Christ and the apostle! After all, the Lord wants to prove that man must be born again – because he "is flesh"! (John 3,6). He does not command any rebirth after the body. But the soul is not born again by the fact that any part of it is improved, but only by the fact that it is completely renewed! This is also proven by the contrast added in both passages (John 3 and Rom 8): the spirit is contrasted with the flesh in such a way that nothing third remains! What is not spiritual in man is, according to this argument, to be called carnal! But we receive something from the spirit only through regeneration. Therefore, what we have by nature is flesh. If there is any doubt about this, Paul removes it: first he describes the old man and says that he is corrupted by the lusts of error (Eph 4,22), and then he commands us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind (Eph 4,23). There you can see: he does not find the forbidden, evil lusts only in the sensual part of the soul, but also in the "mind" (mens) itself, and therefore he also demands its renewal! And then, even shortly before, he drew such a picture of human nature, which does not let us appear uncorrupted and unconverted in any part. For there he writes of all the Gentiles: "They walk in vanity of mind, their understanding is darkened, and they walk far from the life that is of God, through the ignorance that is in them and the blindness of their heart" (Eph 4:17, 18). Here he obviously means all those whom God has not regenerated to righteous wisdom and justice. This becomes even clearer from the immediately added comparison: "You have not learned Christ in this way" (Eph 4,20). For in these words the grace of Christ appears as the only means of salvation that sets us free from that blindness and all the evil that follows from it. Isaiah had already prophesied about the kingdom of Christ when he promised that the Lord would be an eternal light for his church – while "darkness covered the earth and darkness the nations" (Isa 60:19). There he testifies that God’s light alone will rise over the church, leaving nothing but darkness and blindness outside the church! I do not want to list here what is said throughout, especially in the psalms and prophets, about man’s vanity. David’s word is quite heavy in content, if he would be put on the scales with vanity, he would be even more null than it (Ps 62,10). Truly a sharp blow, with which he hits his spirit hard, when all thoughts coming from him are mocked as foolish, vain, nonsensical and wrong!

II,3,2 The condemnation of our heart is not easier when it is called "a rank and perverse thing" (Jer 17,9; not Luther text, but more literal than him!). But I want to be brief and will content myself with another passage, which, however, is like a very clear mirror in which we can look at the perfect picture of our nature. In order to put down the arrogance of man, the apostle brings forward the following testimonies: "There is none that is righteous, neither is there any that hath understanding, neither is there any that seeketh after God. They have all gone astray and have all become unfit; there is not one who does good, not even one. Their mouth is an open sepulcher; with their tongue they deal deceitfully; viper poison is under their lips. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are hastening to shed blood; in their ways is vain misery and corruption; there is no fear of God before their eyes" (Ro 3:10-13; Isa 59:7). With these thunderbolts he does not drive at certain individual people, but at all Adam’s children! Nor does he rebuke the corrupt customs of one or the other age, but he accuses the permanent corruption of nature! For he does not intend simply to reprove men so that they may mend their ways; he wants rather to teach that all are in insurmountable misery, from which they can come out only when God’s mercy snatches them out. He could only prove this by describing the decay and ruin of our nature, and therefore he brought forward those scriptural testimonies from which it is convincingly evident that our nature is completely lost. It remains, therefore, that men have not become as they are described here merely through evil habit, but also through the corruption of their nature. Otherwise, the apostle’s argument would have no solid foundation, for he wants to show that man can only expect salvation from God’s mercy, because he is lost and desolate in himself. I do not want to torment myself here with proving the proper use of the scriptural testimonies cited by Paul, which someone might find inappropriate. I will proceed as if these words were first used by Paul himself and not taken from the prophets. First, he denies man righteousness, that is, innocence and purity, then right understanding. He attributes the lack of knowledge to the apostasy from God, for it is the first step of wisdom to seek Him, and this loss of knowledge must necessarily occur in those who have fallen away from God. Then he adds that they have all gone astray and become rotten: "there is none that doeth good…" He then goes on to enumerate the individual vices with which man, once he has given himself over to wickedness, stains his individual members. And at the end he testifies that we lack the fear of God, according to whose standard all our steps should actually be directed. If these are the hereditary gifts of the human race, then one will look in vain for something good in our nature! Certainly, I admit that not all these vices appear in every single human being. But no one can deny that this hydra secretly dwells in all hearts! It is like the body: once it has the germ and cause of a disease in it and nourishes it, then it is not called healthy, even if it is not yet plagued by pain. In the same way, the soul, in which such a disease of vice is abundantly working, cannot be declared healthy. However, this parable does not fit in all points. For no matter how sick the body may be, there is still vitality left; but the soul has fallen into such a perishable whirlpool that it cannot work its way out of its vices and has completely lost all goodness.

II,3,3 Here we encounter again almost the same question that we have already solved above. For there have been people at all times who, under the guidance of their natural dispositions, have striven for virtue all their lives! I do not want to dwell on the question whether there are not some mistakes in their behavior. They have just delivered the proof with their eleven for the righteousness that in their nature some purity was present. It is true that we must speak more fully of the question of the value of such virtues before God when we speak of the merit of works. But already at this point we must say what is necessary for the treatment of our present question. The examples indicated seem to admonish us not to think that human nature is completely corrupt, because some people have not only done mighty deeds but have also shown the highest respectability in their entire conduct of life. But at this point the insight can help us that the grace of God still has room even within this destruction of nature; admittedly, it does not have a purifying effect, but an inwardly inhibiting one. For if the Lord would let all men’s minds run away into his lusts and shoot him the reins, then indeed everyone would have to admit that all the evil which Paul condemns in the whole of nature would apply in full measure to each of us! (Ps 14,3; Rom 3,12). How now? Will you exclude yourself from the number of those whose feet are "quick" to "shed blood," whose hands are stained with robbery and murder, whose "mouth is as an open sepulcher," whose "tongues are full of falsehood, whose lips are full of poison" (Rom 3:13), whose works are useless, unjust, corrupt, deadly, whose spirit is without God, whose inmost being is vain wickedness, whose eyes are ready for secret reenactment and whose hearts are ready for open resistance, in short, whose whole being is capable of infinitely manifold vice? Now if every single soul is subject to all such terrible things, as the apostle boldly says, we can quite see where it would have to lead if the Lord were to let human desire develop according to its own inclination! There would be no beast of prey that would behave more furiously, no wild torrent whose floods would overflow its banks more terribly! But the Lord heals these infirmities in his elect in a special way, as we have yet to show. And with regard to the others, he needs the reins and at least keeps them in check, so that they only do not overflow too much, as it serves according to his providence to preserve all things. Thus, some are prevented by shame, others by fear of the laws, from committing all kinds of outrages in wild abandon, although they are far from being able to conceal their impurity. Others are convinced that a right way of life is something useful and good, and therefore they are somewhat zealous about it. Others, again, rise above the ordinary condition in order to keep other people in their office, their profession, by their reputation. Thus God in fine providence puts restraints on the corruption of nature, so that it does not break forth to (full) effect; but inwardly he does not make it pure.

II,3,4 But the concern is not yet removed by this. For we must now either put Camillus (model in all manly virtue) on the same level with Catilina (type of the traitor) – or else we have just in Camillus a proof that nature, if one trains it with zeal, is not devoid of all good! I confess on the other hand: the marvelous qualities which Camillus possessed were God’s gift and are, if one considers them in themselves, with full right worthy of praise. But why should they be a proof of Camillus’ natural righteousness? Must one not go back to the heart for such proof? But then one will hardly be able to conclude otherwise than Augustin did (Against Julian, Book IV): If a natural man has distinguished himself by such faultlessness of morals, surely nature does not lack a certain capacity to strive after virtue. But how if the heart was wicked and devious, and had set its heart on something quite different from righteousness? And so it must have been undoubtedly, if one admits that Camillus was a natural man. What, then, is there in this play to preach to me the capacity of human nature for good, when it has been shown that even in the appearance of the highest faultlessness it is always drawn to evil? Just as a man whose vices make an impression under the guise of virtue is not to be exalted for the sake of his virtue, so one should not ascribe to the human will the capacity to desire good while it is still in the grip of sin! But the safest and easiest way to solve this question is as follows: those advantages (of Camillus, for instance) are not natural gifts, but special gifts of God’s grace, which he bestows on unbelieving people in various ways and according to a certain order. For this reason we have no hesitation at all to say in the usual manner of speaking of the one that he has a noble nature, and of the other that he has a base nature! For in saying this we do not deprive either of a share in the general state of human corruption; but we designate by it what special grace the Lord has bestowed on the one, of which he has not in turn made the other worthy. Thus God made a new man out of Saul, who was to become king (1 Sam 10:6). Therefore also Platon, alluding to the fable of Homer, says of the king’s sons that they are created with excellent abilities. For God, out of special care for the human race, often equips those whom he ordains to rule with heroic nature. From this workshop come all the great heroes of whom history knows to tell. In the same way one must judge also about ordinary people (private persons). However excellent one is, his ambition always drives him, and this stain contaminates all virtues, so that they lose all value before God! Thus, what is praiseworthy in unbelieving people is in fact not worthy of respect. Also, the most important piece of all righteousness is missing where there is no zeal to glorify God’s glory – and this is lacking in all those whom God has not reborn by His Spirit! It is not without reason that Isaiah says that the "spirit of the fear of God" rests on the Christ (Isa 11:2). To those who are far from Christ, therefore, give up the fear of God, which after all is "the beginning of wisdom"! (Ps 111:10). Certainly, such virtues, which deceive us with their vain glimmer, will reap praise in the public perception and in the general judgment of men, but before the heavenly judgment seat they will have no value, by virtue of which man could possibly earn righteousness.

II,3,5 Thus the will is held captive under the bondage of sin, and therefore it cannot move toward good, much less grasp it. For such a movement is the beginning of conversion to God, which in Scripture is attributed entirely to the grace of God. Thus Jeremiah prays to the Lord to convert him, if he will convert him (Jer 31:13). Therefore, in the same chapter, when describing the spiritual salvation of the believing people, the prophet also says they will be "delivered out of the hand of a mighty one" (Jer 31:11). Thus he shows in what hard fetters the sinner lies bound as long as he is separated from the Lord and lives under the yoke of the devil. Nevertheless, the will remains, which turns to sin with the deepest inclination and virtually rushes toward it. For man, when he entered into this compulsory dominion, did not lose the will, but the purity of the will! It is not inappropriate when Bernhard teaches that the will is in all of us, and then says: but only the will of good is a progress, the will of evil, however, is an affliction. So it is with man to will simply, with the corrupt nature to will evil, and with grace to will rightly! (Of grace and free will, 6,16). Now my assertion that the will is now deprived of its freedom and is therefore necessarily drawn or urged toward evil, some people find strangely harsh – although it contains nothing improvable and is also used by the old church fathers. But it is also repugnant only to those who cannot distinguish between necessity and compulsion. But if someone asks them, "Isa God necessarily good?" or "Isa the devil necessarily evil?" – what will they answer? For God’s goodness is so connected with his divinity that his existence as God is just as necessary as his being good! The devil, however, is separated by his fall from any participation in the good in such a way that he can do only evil. Now a scoffer could say that God does not deserve much praise for his goodness, since he is forced to maintain it. To this one would have to answer: That God can do nothing evil, that comes from his immense goodness, but not from any compulsion! That God acts necessarily good, does not limit his free will over such good acting. And even the devil, who can only act evil, sins with will! But how could a man then say that he is subject to the necessity to sin and therefore does not sin with will? Augustin often spoke of this necessity; and even when the bitter scorn of Caelestius struck him, he had no hesitation in upholding his teaching. Thus he says: "Through freedom man has become a sinner, but the sinfulness that follows as a punishment has made necessity out of freedom" (Of the Perfection of Justice … 4,9). As often as he comes to speak of this connection, he speaks without shyness again of the necessary bondage of sin. (Thus in the writing "Of Nature and Grace" and also elsewhere.) The essential point in that distinction (between necessity and constraint) lies in the following: Man is depraved since the fall, but he sins with will, not compelled against his will, or from the deepest inclination of the heart and not from forcible compulsion, from the impulse of his own lust and not from external pressure; but because of the depravity of nature he can yet only move to evil and act according to it. If this sentence is true, then it is clearly expressed that man is subject to the necessity to sin. Bernhard also agrees with Augustine’s thoughts when he writes: "Among all living beings, man alone is free, and yet the interposition of sin causes him to suffer some violence. But this happens from his will, not from nature, so that he does not lose his innate freedom. For what is done by will is free." And immediately further: "Thus the will, corrupted by sin, creates a necessity for itself in a terrible and miraculous way. But this happens in such a way that the necessity, which is, after all, volitional, cannot serve, for instance, to excuse the (evil) will, and that, on the other hand, the presence of the will, which is, after all, infatuated, does not exclude the necessity. For this necessity is, as it were, volitional." Then he speaks of a yoke that presses us; this is precisely the yoke of our willful bondage, and therefore we are to be pitied in view of this bondage, but inexcusable in view of the will that is still present, since the will, when it was still free, had made itself the servant of sin! And in the end he comes to the conclusion: "Thus the soul lives in a strange and perverse way under such willful necessity, entered into in miserable freedom, as a servant and yet as a free one, as a servant for the sake of necessity and as a free one for the sake of the will. And, what is still more wondrous, she is guilty because she is free, and she is maid because she is guilty – and so she is maid precisely because she is free!" (Homilies on the Song of Songs, 81). From this the reader will certainly recognize that I do not bring up anything new with my assertion, because Augustin once said the same thing in agreement with all pious people and his view has not been lost even in monasteries for a thousand years. Peter Lombardus, however, was not able to make the distinction between necessity and coercion and thus gave substance and cause to a dangerous error.

II,3,6 On the other hand, it contributes to the furtherance of our task if we now turn our attention to the essence of the remedy, namely, the divine grace by which the corruption of nature is ameliorated and healed. For the Lord grants us through his help what we ourselves lack; and therefore, when the nature of his help is clear to us, our poverty will at the same time become quite visible accordingly. The apostle says to the Philippians: "And I am confident of this, that he who began the good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:6). Thus, by the "beginning of the good work" he undoubtedly understands the origin of conversion that takes place in the will. God begins the "good work" in us in such a way that he stirs up love, desire and aspiration for righteousness in our hearts, or to speak more precisely: that he turns our hearts toward righteousness, transforms and directs them. He completes the good work by giving us the strength to persevere. But let no one make the excuse that the Lord is the beginner of good by supporting our will, which is weak in itself. Therefore, the Holy Spirit shows in another place what the will, left to itself, can actually accomplish. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, and will take away the stony heart from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, and will put my Spirit within you and make such people of you as walk in my commandments…" (Eze 36:26 ss.). Who would still say that the weakness of the human will is merely strengthened by God’s help in order to strive for the good with power and effect – when it is a matter of the will having to be completely renewed? If one wanted to prove that a stone is a soft thing, which with good help could be made more supple and then bent in a certain direction – then I would not want to deny that the human heart could be made to follow what is right, provided that by God’s grace is completed in it what is imperfect! But if that parable wanted to show that nothing right can ever come out of our heart unless it becomes completely different – then we should not divide what God attributes to Himself alone between Him and us: When God converts us to seek what is right, it is the turning of a stone into flesh. Thus what is proper to our will is cast off, and what takes its place is wholly of God! I say that the will is done away with. This does not mean: it is dismissed as will, because what belongs to the first (original) nature remains untouched in the conversion of man. I mean it in this way: the will is created anew, not to begin to be will, but to be converted from evil to good! And this happens, I claim, purely from God, because we are, as the apostle says, not even skilled to "think anything of ourselves" (2Cor 3:5). Therefore, he also shows elsewhere that God does not merely lend help to our weak will or mend our evil will, but that he himself wants to work in us (Phil 2:13). From this my statement that what is good in our will is only a work of grace can be easily deduced. In this sense he also says: "For God is He who works all things in all" (1Cor 12:6). He does not speak here of the general government of the world, but gives praise to God alone for all the goods in which believers abound. When he says "everything", he certainly declares God to be the author of all spiritual life – from the beginning of the world to the end! He teaches the same with other words already before (1Cor 8:6; Eph 1:1), when he says that the believers are "from God in Christ"; because with this he obviously praises the new creation, which dismisses what belongs to our ordinary nature. One must also take into account the contrast between Adam and Christ, which he explains more clearly in another place, where he teaches that we are "God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). With this reasoning he wants to prove that our salvation comes to us "by grace" (Eph 2:5), since all good things begin with the second creation, which takes place in Christ. If we had even the least ability of our own, we would also deserve a part of the merit. But Paul teaches, in order to nullify us completely, that we have no merit at all, since we are "created in Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand…". In this way he again shows that everything about good works, from the first impulse, is God’s alone. So also the prophet in the 100th Ps (Ps 100:3) says at first that we are God’s work, but then, in order to avoid all division (between him and us), he immediately adds: "He has made us and not we ourselves…". Here it is quite clear from the context that he is speaking of the new birth, which is the beginning of spiritual life; for it is immediately followed by the reference that we are "his people" and "sheep of his pasture." So, as we can see, he is not satisfied with offering God the praise for our salvation, but also expressly denies us any participation in it, as if he wanted to say: nothing at all remains for man to boast about – it is all from God!

II,3,7 Now there are probably people who gladly admit that the will, alienated from the good in its own essence, is transformed by the Lord’s power alone – but in such a way that, once it is prepared, it has its share in the work! Thus Augustine teaches that every good work is preceded by grace, and the will accompanies it but does not lead it, follows it but does not precede it (Letter 186). This is not a bad saying of the pious man, but Peter Lombardus then misinterpreted it in a wrong way (Sent. II,26,3). In my opinion, the above-mentioned words of the prophets and other passages show two things: first, the Lord corrects our evil will, yes, he abolishes it, and second, he puts a good will in its place of his own accord. In so far as grace precedes the will, the latter may be called "subsequent"; but since the renewed will is God’s work, it is wrong to attribute to man that he surrenders to the preceding grace with his subsequent will. It is therefore incorrect when Chrysostom writes that grace can work nothing without the will and the will nothing without grace. As if grace itself did not also work the will, as we have just seen with Paul! (cf. Phil 2,13). And when Augustine says that the will "follows" grace, it was not his intention to attribute to it a certain subordinate part in the good work. On the contrary, he wanted to refute the horrible doctrine of Pelagius, which believed that the true origin of salvation could be found in the merit of man. On the other hand, he showed – and this was sufficient in this matter! On the other hand, he showed – and this was sufficient in this matter! – that grace is there earlier than all merit; the further question, namely how it is with the lasting effect of grace, he omitted for the time being – but about this he speaks excellently in other places! For as often as he says that the Lord comes before the unwilling, so that he may want, and that he helps the willing, so that he may not want in vain, he clearly lets God be the author of all good work! But Augustine’s sayings in this question are too clear to require a longer argument. Thus he also says: "Men labor to find in our will what is our own and does not come from God – but I do not know how to find it!" (Of Guilt and Forgiveness of Sins II,5). In the first book against Pelagius and Caelestius, however, he explains Christ’s word: "Whoever therefore hears it from my Father comes to me," and then says: "The will is thus helped, that it not only learns what is to be done, but (then) also does what it has learned. But when God gives such teaching – not by the letter of the law, but by the grace of the Holy Spirit – it is done in such a way that everyone now not only recognizes and sees what he has learned, but also wills to demand and acts to accomplish it!"

II,3,8 Now we have reached the main point of the discussion. So we want to prove this doctrine to the reader in its essential points with only a few, but very clear scriptural testimonies. And then we want to show – so that no one will slander us for putting a wrong meaning on the Scriptures! – We also want to show that the testimony of this pious man – I mean Augustine – does not detract from the truth as we take it from the Scriptures and represent it! For, on the one hand, I do not consider it useful to list one by one all the scriptural passages that could be cited in support of our conviction; rather, with the help of the most exquisite passages, the way should be paved to the understanding of all the others that are found scattered about. And on the other hand, it does not seem to me to have acted imprudently if I make it clear that I do not disagree with that man to whom the unanimous judgment of the pious rightly ascribes the highest authority. Now it is evident from easily graspable and certain reasons that the origin of good lies solely in God Himself. For a will turned toward good is found only in the elect. The reason of election, however, lies outside of man, and from this it follows that man does not have a right will of his own accord, but that it flows to us from the same good pleasure in which we were chosen before the foundation of the world. In addition, there is another similar reason: if the origin of right willing and doing lies in faith, then we must see where faith comes from. But here the whole Scripture gives the answer aloud: it is God’s gift; and from this it follows that it comes from God’s pure grace when we, who are by nature wholly inclined to evil, begin to want something good. When the Lord converts His people, this means two things (Eze 36,26 ss.): He takes away their stony heart and gives them a heart of flesh. In this way, he himself testifies that everything that comes from us must be done away with in order for us to be converted to righteousness, and that everything that takes its place comes from him. He does not only say this in that one passage, but he also says in Jeremiah: "I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me all their days" (Jer 32,39). Or again in Ezekiel: "I will give you a heart of one accord, and put a new spirit within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh" (Eze 11:19). He cannot more clearly ascribe to himself and deny to us all that is good and right in our will than by declaring in this testimony our conversion to be the creation of a new spirit and a new heart. For the conclusion is always that nothing good comes from our will before it is renewed, and after the renewal, if it is good, it is from God and not from us!

II,3,9 To this corresponds also the form of the prayers of the saints, as we read them (in the Scriptures). "May the Lord incline our hearts to him, that we may keep his commandments," Solomon prays (1Ki 8:58; not Luther text). In this way he points to the stubbornness of our hearts, which by nature are inclined to rebellion against God’s law if they are not transformed. So it is also said in the 119th Psalm: "Incline my heart to your testimonies" (Ps 119,36). For the contrast must always be considered between the perverse impulse of our heart, which leads to contempt and defiance, and that renewal which calls for obedience. David, who, as he himself felt, had for a time been deprived of the guidance of grace, asks God to create in him "a new heart" and to give him a "new and certain spirit" (Ps 51:12). Does he not thereby acknowledge that his whole heart is full of impurity and that his mind is perverted with all perversity? And when he calls the purity he prays for God’s creation, does he not attribute to Him alone all that he has received? Now someone could object that this prayer is already itself a sign of a pious and holy impulse. To this it is to be said: David had already come to his senses to some extent, but nevertheless compared his previous state with that terrible case which he had experienced. He thus regards himself as a man separated and alienated from God, and therefore rightly asks that it be granted to him what God bestows on his elect in regeneration. Thus, as one who is as it were dead, he asks for new creation, so that a slave of Satan may become an instrument of the Holy Spirit! The greed of our pride is truly strange and monstrous. Nothing is more earnestly required by the Lord than that we keep His Sabbath day in the highest reverence, that is, rest from all our works. And yet nothing is so difficult for us to achieve as to abandon all our works and give God’s works their rightful place! If our folly did not stand in the way, Christ’s own testimony of his grace would be so clear to us that we could not obscure this grace in our wickedness: after all, he says: "I am the vine, you are the branches, my Father is the vinedresser. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own, except it remain on the vine, so neither can you, except you remain on me. For without me you can do nothing" (John 15,1.4 ss.). So we do not bear more fruit of our own accord than a branch that has been torn out of the earth and robbed of all vitality can bear fruit! There we are not to ask any further what aptitude our nature has for good! All the more unambiguous is the conclusion, "Without me you can do nothing!" He does not say that we are too weak to be sufficient for ourselves, but he makes us nothing and takes away the ground of every opinion that we have even the least efficiency! We bear fruit only when we are inserted in Christ; then we are like a vine that takes strength for growth from the moisture of the earth, the dew of the sky, the warmth of the sun; but just then nothing remains for us in the good works we do; we offer God only unabridged what is his! In vain is also the sophistical objection that the vine itself also has sap in itself and the power to bear fruit, and that it therefore does not take everything from the earth and the original root, since it adds something of its own. But Christ only wants to show that we are barren and useless wood as long as we are separated from him, because we are incapable of doing right by ourselves. He also says in another place: "Every tree that my Father has not planted will be uprooted" (Mt 15,13). Therefore, the apostle also attributes everything to him in the passage already mentioned: "It is God who works in you both to will and to do" (Phil 2:13). A right work requires two things: the will and also the right power to accomplish it – and both come from God! So what we arrogate to ourselves in the will or in the accomplishment, we rob from the Lord! If God said that he would come to the aid of our weak will, then we would of course be left with a few things. But, as it is said, he works the will himself – and so everything that is good about it is beyond us! Moreover, even the good will is so crushed by the weight of our flesh that it cannot rise. Therefore, the apostle adds that the constancy of the struggle is offered to us in such a hard struggle until the real "accomplishment". Otherwise the word that he writes in another place could not exist: "There is one God who works all things in all" (1Cor 12:6). For we have already seen that the whole course of spiritual life is summarized under this. David also asks that God’s ways be revealed to him so that he may walk in His truth, and then adds: "Keep my heart in one thing, that I may fear Your name" (Ps 66:11). With this he wants to show how even the well-meaning are so torn that they are easily destroyed and confused if they do not receive the strength for constancy. In another place, too, he first prays: "Let my course be sure according to your word," and yet at the same time asks for strength to fight: "and let no injustice rule over me" (Ps 119:133). Thus the Lord proves himself to be the beginner and finisher of the good work in us: it is his work when the will comes to love what is right, when it is inclined to strive for it, when it is provoked and stimulated to go for it. But it is also His work when decision, zeal and struggle do not flag, but continue to success, when man continues in them steadily and perseveres to the end.

II,3,10God moves the will. But this does not happen, as has been taught and believed for centuries, in such a way that it would then be up to us to obey or even resist this movement; but He moves it so powerfully that it must follow. So when Chrysostom keeps repeating, "God draws only him who wills," this must be rejected. For he thereby indicates that God merely stretches out his hand to us and then waits to see whether it pleases us to let him help us! We admit that the not yet fallen man was able to choose one or the other. But he has just shown by his example how miserable it is with free will, if God does not want and is not able to help us, what should become of us, if God turned his grace to us in that way? Yes, we obscure and diminish it by our ingratitude! For the apostle does not teach that the grace of good will is offered to us if we accept it, but rather that he brings forth in us the will: He brings forth the will in us! And this means nothing else than that the Lord directs, guides and governs our heart through his Spirit and leads his regiment in it as in his possession. Also, the promise in Ezekiel is not just this: God would give His elect the new spirit to walk in His commandments, but that they would actually walk in them! (Eze 11:19 f.; 36:27). And Jesus’ word: "Whoever hears from my Father comes to me" (John 6:45) can only be understood in such a way that he teaches the grace that works through himself, as Augustin also claims (On Predestination 3,13). The Lord does not show this grace to all in the same way, as the common saying of Occam – if I remember correctly – means: it is not denied to anyone who does what he can. Certainly, people should be taught that God’s goodness is offered to all who ask for it – without exception. But only those begin to ask for it in whom the grace, the heavenly grace, has become effective – and so this part of its glory cannot be cut off! This is truly the advantage of the elect, that they, having been born again by God’s Spirit, are now also led and governed by His guidance. So Augustine is also right when he ridicules those who arrogate to themselves any share in the will itself, and also when he resists others who think that what is after all the special testimony of the gracious election is granted indiscriminately to all. "What is common to us all is nature, but not grace," he says, and he calls it a trifling gleam, which gives a semblance only by its vanity, if one extends generally to all what God after all gives to whom He will (Eccl. 26:7). Or he also says, "How did you get here? – In faith. – Then see to it that you do not imagine that you have found the right way yourself, and thereby lose it again! Or you say: I came here of my own free will, I am here of my own free will. – What are you puffing yourself up for? Do you want to know that this is also given to you? Then hear the word of the Lord himself, who says, "No one can come to me unless my Father draws him" (John 6:44). (John 6:44)" (Sermon 30). That God directs the hearts of the pious with such power that they now follow with an inclination that can no longer be moved to and fro, is no doubt clear from the words of John: "Whoever is born of God cannot sin, for his seed abides in him" (1Jn 3:9). So if God gives us a perseverance that is effective and constant, the undecided impulse ("motus medius") that the sophists fantasize about, an impulse that one could follow and also resist, is obviously excluded.

II,3,11 That constancy is to be regarded as God’s gracious gift, would also have remained without doubt, if that evil error had not arisen, that it is distributed according to the merit of men, even after everyone has shown himself grateful to the "first" grace. Now this erroneous proposition has arisen from the opinion that it is in our hands to reject or accept the offered grace from us. But since the latter opinion has already been sufficiently refuted, that error also falls away of its own accord. However, there is a double error here, namely, on the one hand, the teaching that our gratitude to the "first" grace and its right application will be rewarded by what follows, and then, on the other hand, the addition that grace is not at work in us alone, but that it only works together with us. As to the first, the following is to be said. The Lord fills his servants with the gifts of his grace every day and showers them with new ones. He also finds in them what he considers worthy of even greater gifts of grace, because the work that he himself has begun in them is pleasant and pleasing to him. This includes passages like: "To him who has, to him will be given" or "O devout and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things" (Mt 25,21.23.29; Lk 19,17.26). But here one must beware of two false statements: on the one hand, that the subsequent gifts of grace appear as a reward for the rightful use of the first grace – as if man made God’s grace effective only by his own effort! -, and on the other hand, that this "reward" is spoken of as if it were something other than a gift of free grace. I admit, then, that the faithful may expect such a blessing, and that the better they have applied the previous gifts of grace, the greater they will be afterwards. But I say: also that application (of the former gifts) comes from the Lord, and this reward proceeds from his gracious benevolence; thus the much-used distinction between an "operative" and a "cooperative" grace (gratia operans and gratia cooperans) is clumsy and unfortunate. However, Augustine also used it; but he softened it by a skillful description: God accomplishes by cooperating what he has begun by cooperating, and it is the same grace, which, however, receives its name according to the different nature of its effect. From this it follows that he does not divide between God and us, as if there were a mutual cooperation of our own accord, but he only wants to express the multiplicity of grace. This also includes his statement that many gifts of God precede the good will of man – and that this will itself also belongs to it! He leaves nothing to the will, what it could arrogate to itself. This is also the explicit assertion of Paul. For he first says: "It is God who works in you both the willing and the doing" (Phil 2,13), and then he immediately adds that he does both "according to his good pleasure". This word is supposed to mean that it is a benefit coming from free grace. – It is also said that if we had given room to the "first" grace, our effort would immediately work together with the following grace. To this I answer: if it be understood by this, that when we have once been brought to the service of righteousness by the power of the Lord, we now go on of our own accord, and are inclined to follow the impulse of grace, I have nothing against it. For where the grace of God reigns, there most certainly is such a disposition to obedience. But where does this come from other than from the fact that the Spirit of God, which remains the same everywhere, now also strengthens and fortifies the impulse to obedience which it produced in the beginning into firm perseverance? But if one wants to say with that sentence that man takes from himself the ability to cooperate with grace, then this is a fatal error.

II,3,12 In the latter way the apostle’s word is twisted: "I have labored more than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which is with me" (1Cor 15,10). This passage is understood in this way: the apostle had previously given the appearance of a certain presumption when he placed himself at the head of all; but this appearance he proves to be false by ascribing the praise to the grace of God; but this is then done in such a way that he calls himself a co-worker with grace. It is astonishing how many otherwise not evil people have taken offense at this splinter. For when the apostle writes that the grace of the Lord worked with him, he does not do so in order to make himself a fellow-worker in the work, but he transfers all the credit for his work to grace alone when he gives the explanation: I am not the one who would have worked, but God’s grace that stood by me! Thus, one has been misled by the ambiguity of the expression, but even more by the mistaken translation (into Latin), which disregarded the meaning of the Greek article. If one translates literally, it is not said that the grace worked together with him, but: the grace, which was at his side, worked everything! Augustin also teaches this quite clearly, admittedly somewhat briefly, when he says: "The good will of man precedes many gifts of God, but not all. Among those whom he precedes, he is also himself." As proof he then cites, "His mercy precedes me," and then again, "Goodness and mercy will follow me" (Ps 59:11 – not Luther text; 23:6). "For God’s mercy comes before him that will not, that he may will; and it follows him that will, that he may not will in vain." Bernard also agrees with this when he has the Church speak, "O Lord, draw me against my will to make me willing, draw me who am lax, and make me running" (Homilies on the Song of Songs, 21).

II,3,13 Now, lest the Pelagians of our time, namely the smarties from the Sorbonne, after their fashion, accuse us of having the whole of the early Church against us, let us now hear Augustine himself. Our Pelagians of today imitate their church father, who once called Augustine to a similar fight on the battlefield. What he presents in greater detail in the writing "Of the chastisement and grace to Valentinus" (De correptione et gratia ad Valentinum), I want to reproduce some of it in brief, but in his own words. He says that the grace to persevere in goodness would have been given to Adam if he had wanted it. But it is given to us in order that we may will and conquer lust with the will. Adam would have been able if he had wanted, but he did not have the will to be able. We, on the other hand, are given the will and the ability. The original freedom consisted in the fact that man was able not to sin (posse non peccare). But our freedom is much greater: we do not have the ability to sin (non posse peccare) (chap. 12). But so that no one gets the idea that he is talking about the future perfection in eternal life - that is how Peter Lombardus wrongly referred to it! He immediately eliminates any doubt: "The will of the faithful is ignited by the Holy Spirit in such a way that they can because they want to, and that they want to because God causes them to want to! They are indeed in great weakness, in which His power is perfected for the defeat of all their own glory! (2Cor 12,9). But if in this weakness their will would remain, so that they could do what they wanted with God’s help – and if God himself did not work the will in them, then in the midst of so many temptations their will would have to succumb, and they would not be able to persevere! Therefore God has so helped up the weakness of the human will that it is now inevitably and unceasingly driven by His grace and in this way does not fail – however weak it is!" Then he speaks at length of how our heart necessarily follows the stirring of God who works in it, and then says: certainly the Lord draws man with his own will – but that very will he himself has created! (14) Thus we have from Augustine’s own mouth the proof of what was essential to us: the Lord does not only offer us his grace, so that each one could accept it at his own discretion or also reject it; but God’s grace itself works decision and will in the heart. So whatever good works come out of it is its own fruit and effect! And man has his obedient will only because God himself creates it. Literally Augustin says in another place: "All good works in us are created by grace alone" (Letter 194).

II,3,14 But Augustin says in another place that grace does not abolish the will, but transforms it from evil to good and supports it when it has become good! But this only means that man is not led (by the spirit of God) in such a way that he lets himself be driven by an external pressure without any stirring of the heart, but he is inwardly grasped in such a way that he obeys from the heart. According to Augustine, such grace is granted in a special way to the elect and is granted by free grace. Thus he writes to Bonifacius: "We know that God’s grace is not given to all men; and to him who receives it, it is not given according to the merit of works, nor according to the merit of the will, but by pure grace (gratuita gratia); to whom it is not given, it remains, as we know, denied according to God’s just judgment" (Letter 217). In the same letter, he duly opposes the opinion that the "subsequent" grace is given to man as a reward for his merits, insofar as he has proven himself worthy by not rejecting the "first" grace! He wants to bring Pelagius to the confession that we need grace for all individual actions, and that it does not mean a retribution for work done: it should really appear as grace! However, this whole context cannot be summarized more briefly than it is done in the eighth chapter of the Scripture to Valentine "On Chastisement and Grace". There he teaches first: the human will does not attain grace by virtue of its freedom, but freedom by virtue of grace. And further: By the same grace man is also transformed and in this way made steadfast; for this grace determines him to love the good joyfully. Thirdly: Thus he receives the strength for unconquerable fortitude. Fourth, if grace reigns in him, he stands unshaken; if it leaves him, he falls to the ground. Fifth, through the Lord’s gracious mercy he is turned to the good, and the same mercy then makes him persevere in it. Finally, the fact that the human will turns to the good and then persists in the good depends solely on God’s will and in no way on any merit of its own. What the "free will" – if one wants to call it that! – Augustine shows in another place what the "free will" – if one can call it that – that has remained for man looks like: he can neither turn to God nor persevere in God without grace; indeed, he can do everything only through grace! (Letter 214).

Fourth chapter

How God works in the heart of man.

II,4,1 If I am not mistaken, it is now sufficiently proven that man is under the yoke of sin in such a way that he can neither strive nor struggle for the good from himself, from his nature. Furthermore, we have established a difference between "compulsion" and "necessity," from which it should follow that man sins necessarily, but nevertheless with will. But man is, after all, subject to the bondage of the devil, and, as it appears, is governed more by his will than by his own. Therefore, we must (1.) now consider what this double headship looks like. Then we have to answer (2.) the question whether God is to be ascribed a share in the evil works, since the Scriptures, after all, indicate a certain effectiveness of God in this. Somewhere Augustine compares the human will to a horse that follows the direction of its rider; God and the devil are the riders in this parable. "In God it has a calm and skillful rider, who directs it wisely, gives the spur to its slowness and moderates too great speed, restrains its wantonness and wantonness, tames its defiance, and guides it along the right path. But when the devil has taken possession of it, he drives it like a mad and wanton horseman through pathless country, makes it run into swamps, plunges it down precipices, and provokes it to stubbornness and wildness." For the time being, we will be content with this parable, since we cannot think of a better one. But when it is said that the will of the natural man is subject to the command of the devil and is governed by him, this does not mean: the will is forced into obedience reluctantly and with resistance – just as we force a servant to obey our command against his will by virtue of the right of domination – but rather: he allows himself to be beguiled by the flattering speech of Satan and now necessarily obeys his entire guidance. For whom the Lord does not grace with the guidance of his Spirit, he delivers in just judgment to the action of Satan. Therefore, the apostle says that the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that is, those who are destined to perdition, so that they do not see the light of the gospel (2Cor 4:4). In another place we hear that the devil works in the children of unbelief (Eph 2,2). The blindness of the ungodly and all the vices that result from it are called the work of the devil; and yet their cause is not to be sought outside of the human will, from which the root of all evil grows and in which the foundation of Satan’s kingdom, namely sin, has its seat.

II,4,2 In such cases it is quite different with the divine activity. In order to see this more clearly, let us consider the hardship that befell the holy man Job on the part of the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans slew his shepherds and robbed him of his flock by force. Their evil deed is openly revealed. But even Satan is not idle in this work; indeed, according to the story, it all comes from him. But Job himself recognizes in it the work of the Lord and says that he took from him what had been stolen by the Chaldeans! How are we to regard God, Satan and man as the author of the same deed, without excusing Satan by saying that God was also involved, or declaring God to be the author of evil? This is easy if we look first at the intention of the act and then at the manner of its execution. The Lord’s counsel is to exercise His servant in patience through adversity. Satan strives to bring him to despair. And the Chaldeans want to seize foreign property against all right before God and man. Such a great difference of intentions also brings deep differences into the work itself. Therefore, the difference in the way of execution is not less. The Lord hands over his servant to Satan to torment him; he also hands over to Satan the Chaldeans, whom he had appointed as servants for such work, so that he might drive them to it. Satan, on the other hand, with his poisonous sting, causes the evil nature of the Chaldeans to perform this atrocity. And the Chaldeans run wildly into injustice, entangling and staining themselves body and soul with wickedness. One can therefore actually say: Satan works in the reprobates; for in them he exercises his rule, i.e. the regiment of wickedness. But one can also say: God acts here; for Satan himself is the instrument of his wrath and, according to his beckoning and command, he turns sometimes here, sometimes there, in order to execute his righteous judgments. Here I am not referring to the general government of God, which lifts and supports all creatures and gives them powers to work. I am speaking only of the particular efficacy which is manifested in each individual act. Thus, as we note, it is not at all absurd for the same deed to be attributed to God, Satan, and man; but the difference in intention and execution causes God’s righteousness to remain blamelessly honored here, and the depravity of Satan and man to manifest itself to their own disgrace on the other.

II,4,3 The old teachers of the church, in all too great restraint, sometimes shy away from simply confessing the truth in this piece; they just do not want to give room to ungodliness, to speak reverently of God’s works. I hold this modesty in all honor; but I am nevertheless convinced that there is no danger if we only hold simply what the Scriptures tell us. Even Augustine is not free from that superstitious fear at times; for instance, he says that the hardening and blinding of man do not belong to the active work of God, but to his foreknowledge (Of Predestination and Grace, 5). But such quibbles are resisted by many passages of Scripture which show that God is active here in a different way than merely with his foreknowledge! Augustine himself, in the fifth book of Scripture against Julian, argues at length that sin occurs not only with God’s permission and under his patience, but under his power, namely as punishment for previous sins. What is then spoken of God’s "permission" with the same intention is too insubstantial to stand. For we very often hear that God blinds and hardens the rejected, that he turns, guides and drives their hearts – as I have explained in more detail above. But one will never be able to make clear what it is about if one takes refuge in words like "foreknowledge" or "permission". So we answer that this (the blinding and hardening of the rejected) happens in two ways. First: If God takes away his light, nothing but darkness remains around us and in us only blindness! If he withdraws his spirit, our heart becomes hard like stone. If his guidance ceases, it gets confused and lost. So if he takes away a man’s ability to see, to obey and to do what is right, one can rightly say that he blinds, that he makes him stubborn, that he leads him astray! The second comes still closer to the actual meaning of the words mentioned: God, in order to execute his judgments, directs through Satan, the servant of his wrath, the counsels of the rejected according to his pleasure, awakens their resolutions and confirms them in deed. Thus Moses also reports that King Sihon would not let the people pass through his land because God had hardened his spirit and hardened his heart; then he adds as the intention in this counsel, "To deliver him into your hands" (Deut 2:30). So God wanted to corrupt him, and therefore the stubbornness of his heart was God’s preparation for his downfall.

II,4,4 To the first train of thought corresponds roughly the word: "He takes away the speech of the approved and takes away the understanding of the aged" (Job 12,20; Eze 7,26). Or: "He takes away wisdom from the rulers of the people of the land and leads them astray through a pathless land" (Ps 107,40; not Luther text). Further, "Why have you caused us to err, O Lord, from your ways and hardened our hearts, so that we do not fear you?" (Isa 63:17). For these passages show rather what God makes of man when he forsakes him than how he (actively) does his work in them. But other scriptural testimonies go further. Especially those that speak of the hardening of Pharaoh: "I will harden his heart, that he will not let the people go" (Ex 4:21; 7:3). Afterward, he says he made his heart stiff and hard (Ex 10:1). Did this hardening simply mean the omission of softening? Certainly: that too. But he did something more: he charged Satan to harden his heart, as he had said before, "I will keep his heart." Then the people went out of Egypt. But hostile inhabitants of the land stood in his way. Who had incited them? Moses, at any rate, asserts to the people that it was the Lord who had hardened their hearts (Deut 2:30). And the prophet, touching on the same event, says that God had turned their hearts, so that they became angry with his people (Ps 105:25). Now, then, it cannot be said that they were merely tarnished because they lacked the counsel of the Lord. For if they became hardened and perverse, it meant that they were led in this direction with premeditation! And further: often enough it pleased the Lord to punish the people for their transgression – how then did he do his work in the ungodly? At any rate in such a way that one can see: the work stood with him, and those only did him service. Thus he threatens to summon the enemies with his hissing (Isa 5:26, 7:18), to use them as a net to catch Israel in it (Eze 12:13; 17:20), to swing them as a hammer to smash his people (Jer 50:23). But that he is not inactive in the enemies himself, he made known especially by calling Sanherib an axe (Isa 10:15), which he wielded and swung with his hand to cut the people to pieces with it. Not badly Augustin gives somewhere the description: What they sin is their business; but that they actually accomplish this or that with their sinning, that comes from God’s power, who divides the darkness as it pleases him (Of the Predestination of the Saints, 16).

II,4,5 Now Satan serves to incite the ungodly as often as the Lord in his providence ordains them to this or that work. This can be sufficiently seen from a single passage. In the book of 1 Samuel, it is often said that the "evil spirit of the Lord" or an "evil spirit from the Lord" took hold of Saul or left him again (1Sam 16:14; 18:10; 19:9). To refer this to the Holy Spirit would be sacrilegious. So an evil spirit is called God’s spirit, because he is subject to His will and His power and is therefore rather God’s tool than His own master! At the same time we have to add what Paul teaches: God sends powerful errors and all kinds of seduction (to unrighteousness), so that all who did not obey the truth now believe the lie (2 Thess. 2,11). And yet, in the same work, there is a profound difference between what the Lord does and what Satan and the wicked set in motion. He lets the evil instruments, which he has in his hand and can direct wherever he wants, serve his righteousness. They, on the other hand, are evil and by their deeds only bring to light the wickedness of their nature, which they have hatched in their depravity. What else would have to be said to defend God’s majesty against all blasphemy and to cut off all evasion from the wicked has already been explained in the chapter "On Providence". Here I intended only to show briefly how Satan reigns in a rejected man – and yet how the Lord Himself is at work in both.

II,4,6 But we have not yet set apart what liberty man possesses in such actions as are in themselves neither righteous nor evil, and thus pertain more to the bodily than to the spiritual life; this question we have only briefly touched upon. Some have ascribed to man free choice in such matters. In my opinion, they have done this more because they did not want to have a great dispute about this little important question than, for instance, because they wanted to hold fast with certainty to that concession which they had made. Now I confess: whoever recognizes that he has no capacity for righteousness knows what is necessary for salvation. But I still believe that this lesson must not be neglected. We must realize that if it occurs to us to decide in favor of what is beneficial to us, if the will turns to that, and if, on the other hand, the mind and the spirit avoid what should be harmful, then this is a special grace of the Lord! The power of divine providence goes so far that things take effect as God has seen good, and that the will of men must also be directed according to this plan! If we think about the direction of external events according to our sense, we will say without hesitation that this is under human will. But if we listen to the many testimonies of the Scriptures, which clearly indicate that the Lord also governs the hearts of men in these matters, they force us to subject our will to the special divine guidance. Who, for example, is supposed to have made the will of the Egyptians inclined to the Israelites, so that they lent them all the most precious utensils? (Ex 11:2f.). They themselves had never thought of it! So also their heart was under the guidance of the Lord and not just their own guidance! Thus Jacob says of his son Joseph, whom he takes for some Egyptian: "God let you find mercy before this man" (Gen 43:14). He would not have done this if he had not been convinced that God, according to His good pleasure, awakens in men the various sentiments. Thus the whole church confesses in the Ps (106,46) that the Lord wanted to have mercy on them and therefore changed the heart of grim nations to mildness. Furthermore, it is said of Saul that his anger was kindled, so that he prepared for war – and the impulse of the Spirit of God is given as the cause! (1Sam 11:6). Who turned Absalom’s heart away from the counsel of Ahitophel, which was otherwise considered a divine saying for him? (2Sam 17:14). Who perverted the mind of Rehoboam to be persuaded by the counsel of the young? (1Ki 12:10; 11:15). Who terrified nations that had previously been of great valor before the Israelites? The harlot Rahab, at any rate, declares it to be a work of the Lord! (Jos 2:9). And who else caused Israel’s heart to sink into fear and terror than the one who had threatened in the Law to give the people a frightened heart if they disobeyed? (Lev 26:36; Deut 28:65).

II,4,7 Now perhaps someone will object that these are individual examples from which one should not make a general rule. I answer: these examples are a complete proof for my assertion that God, when he wants to make room for his providence, also guides and turns the will of men in external things, so that also towards them there is no free decision in the sense that God’s will forfeits the dominion over our freedom! That our will depends on God’s guidance and not on our own freedom of decision is taught, whether we like it or not, even by daily experience: often we lack judgment and understanding in quite understandable things, or we tire of courage in simple tasks, or on the other hand a solving plan suddenly appears to us in quite intricate matters, or our courage wins the upper hand over all difficulties even in great danger. In this way I understand the word of Solomon: "An ear that hears and an eye that sees – the Lord makes both" (Prov 20:12). It seems to me that he is not talking about creation, but about the grace to apply our talents in a particular case. When he then writes: "The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord like streams of water; and he inclines it wherever he wills" (Prov 21:1), he certainly includes the whole human race under the one person of the king. For if the will of a human being would be free from all dependence at all, this would surely apply to the king who, so to speak, rules the will of other human beings. If therefore the will of the king is led by God, then this applies certainly all the more to ours! There is an excellent sentence of Augustine about this: "If one carefully researches the Scriptures, they do not only show that the good will of man, which was evil before and was made good by God and is now directed by him to good actions and to eternal life, is in God’s power. It shows that every will belonging to the present creature is also in God’s hand, so that He can direct it wherever He wills and whenever He wills, to do good deeds or even to execute punishments according to His hidden, yet so just judgment!" (Of Grace and Free Will, 20).

II,4,8 Now here the reader may consider that the power of our human will must not be judged by the visible result, as some ignorant people do in their folly. They think they can finely and artfully prove the dependence of the human will by the fact that not even the highest rulers get everything according to their wishes. The ability, however, of which we had to speak, is to be seen in man himself, but not to be measured by external success. The dispute about free will does not revolve around the question of whether man can carry out and enforce what he has inwardly decided within himself, even through all external obstacles. It is rather a question of whether man has free decision in his judgment and free motive power of his will in any matter at all. If this question must be answered in the affirmative, then Attilius Regulus has as much freedom in his narrow, nailed barrel as Julius Caesar, whose wink ruled a good part of the globe!

Fifth chapter

Defense against the objections that one tends to raise in defense of the free will.

II,5,1 Enough would seem to have been said about the lack of freedom of the human will, if there were not people who strive to plunge man into disaster by superstitious belief in his freedom and for this purpose bring forward some counter-reasons to resist our opinion. First of all, they collect some (alleged) absurdities that are supposed to discredit this doctrine, as if it were contrary to common sense. Then, however, they also bring scriptural testimonies to bear. We will refute both attempts in turn. First of all, they say: If sin is something necessary, it ceases to be sin, but if it is something voluntary, it can be avoided. Now these were also the weapons with which Pelagius once attacked Augustine. But we do not want to burden our opponents from the outset with his authority before we ourselves have justified our assertion. So I deny that sin is less to be imputed because it is necessary. And I also dispute their conclusion that sin is avoidable because it is voluntary. If someone wants to get right with God and hide behind the pretext that he could not have done otherwise, he will receive the answer that we have already given: That people are enslaved under sin and can only want evil, is not the fault of creation, but of the corruption of creation! Where then does that incapacity come from, which the godless so gladly pretend, other than from the fact that Adam submitted of his own free will to the tyranny of the devil! The sinfulness, the chains of which we carry, stems from the fact that the first man fell away from his Creator. All men are therefore rightly declared guilty of this apostasy – and therefore one should not think that one can excuse oneself with the necessity, which is just the clear reason of our damnation. I have also clearly explained this above; I have even taken the devil himself as an example and shown that he who sins necessarily does not sin less willingly because of it. So also in the case of the chosen angels there is an incessant will turned towards the good, but it does not cease to be a will! Thus, as we have already mentioned, Bernard also teaches quite well that we are all the more miserable because this necessity is voluntary – and yet keeps us so firmly under control that we are servants of sin (Homilies on the Song of Songs, 81). – The second part of the opposing conclusion is wrong, because they immediately conclude from "will" to "freedom", which is not the case. In contrast, we have already shown that something can happen willingly without being subject to free decision.

II,5,2 Then they make the objection: If virtue and vice do not arise from the decision of free will, then it is not right that one should inflict punishments or distribute rewards. This is a proof of Aristotle; but it has, I admit, also been used by Chrysostom and Jerome here and there. Nevertheless, it was also completely familiar to the Pelagians; Jerome does not deny this either, and he even reports their expressions: "If God’s grace acts in us, it is precisely she who will be crowned, but not we who create nothing at all" (Letter to Ctesiphon, 135 and Dialogue 1). Regarding the punishments, I give the answer: they are rightly imposed on us, because the guilt of sin also comes from us. For what does it matter whether we sin with a free or a subjugated judgment – it happens with a willing desire! Especially since man is proved to be a sinner by the very fact that he is under the bondage of sin! – As for the reward of righteousness, it would be absurd (according to them) if we confessed that it depends on God’s goodness and not on our own merit. But how often does Augustine repeat the phrase that God does not crown our merit but his own gifts; reward, that is, not because it is due to our merit, but because he bestows retribution on the gifts of grace that he himself has bestowed on us! They astutely remark that there would be no room for merit if it did not spring from the source of free will. But they are deeply mistaken if they see here such a great contradiction. For Augustine himself teaches in so many passages without hesitation what, according to their view, he would have to declare to be sacrilegious; for example, he says: "What then are the merits of men? Jesus, after all, came to us not with merited reward but with free grace, and so he who alone was free from sin and made free, found all men sinners" (Letter 155). Or: "If you receive according to merit, then you must suffer punishment. So what happens? God does not impose the deserved punishment on you, but gives you undeserved grace. But if you want to be without grace, appeal to your merit!" (On Ps 31). Or finally: "Of yourself you are nothing. Your sins belong to you. The merits are God’s. What would rightly belong to you would be the punishment. But if reward comes to you, God crowns his own gifts, but not your merits" (On Ps 70). In this sense he also teaches that grace does not come from merit, but merit from grace! And immediately afterwards he concludes that God precedes all merit with his gifts, and then derives merit from those; since he finds nothing meritorious, he gives his salvation entirely by grace (Sermon 169). But why should we compile a long list, since we encounter such sentences again and again in Augustine’s writings? But much better will the apostle free our opponents from their error when they hear from what source he derives the honor of the saints. "Whom He chose, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified" (Rom 8:29f.). So why are believers crowned according to the testimony of the apostle? (2Tim 4:8). Because they are chosen, called and glorified by God’s mercy without all their effort! Away, then, with that unfounded fear that there would be no more merit if free will were dismissed. For it is the greatest folly to flee in terror from that to which the Scripture calls us! "But if thou hast received it, what boastest thou, as though thou hadst not received it?" says the apostle (1Cor 4:7). Obviously, everything is denied to our free will so that there is no room left for merit. Yet God’s beneficence and bounty is so inexhaustible and manifold that He rewards the gifts of grace He bestows upon us, precisely because He makes them our own, as our very virtues!

II,5,3 The third objection our opponents apparently take from Chrysostom: If it is not in the capacity of our will to decide for good or evil, then either all men, as partakers of the same natural kind, must be evil, or else all must be good (23. Homily on Genesis). The author of the writing "On the Calling of the Gentiles", which circulates under the name of Ambrose, is not far from this view. He concludes thus: "No man would ever have departed from the faith if God’s grace had not left us changeable. It is astonishing that such men could forget themselves in such a way! Why didn’t Chrysostom think that it is God’s election that makes the difference between men (which he missed)? In any case, we want to admit without fear what Paul proved in such a hard argument, namely that we are all sinners and subject to wickedness. But we also add with him: let it be the work of God’s mercy that not all remain in corruption! So we all suffer by nature from the same infirmity, and so only those come to recovery to whom the Lord, according to his good pleasure, extends his healing hand. The others, whom he has passed by in righteous judgment, torment themselves in their sickness until the end. That some persevere to the end, while others begin the course and then fall, comes from the same cause. For perseverance is itself a gift of God, which he does not grant to all in the same way, but to whom he wills. If, then, we seek the reason for this difference, if we ask why some persevere steadfastly and others waver in inconstancy, only one thing remains: the Lord strengthens some with his power and thus gives them constancy so that they do not perish; the others are said to be examples of inconstancy, and therefore the Lord does not give them the same power.

II,5,4 Fourthly, one comes up with the retort: If the sinner had no possibility to obey, all exhortations would be in vain, all encouragements superfluous, all reprimands ridiculous! Such objections were once raised also against Augustin, and he was forced by them to write his little book "On Chastisement and Grace". There he gives a very extensive refutation and then addresses his opponents in summary thus: "O man, see by the commandment what you ought to do, by the chastening see that through your fault you do not have what you ought to have – and see by prayer whence you get what you would have!" Similar is the intention of proof in the book "Of the Spirit and the Letter". There he teaches: God does not measure his commandments according to human powers; but he commands what is right, and then in free grace gives his chosen ones the ability to fulfill it. This objection does not require a long argument. For here not only we are the ones attacked, but at the same time Christ and all the apostles. And our opponents should watch how they prevail in a dispute in which they have to deal with such adversaries! Christ says: "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Does he therefore rebuke less those who do evil without him? Does he therefore omit the exhortation that everyone should practice good works? How sharply Paul goes against the Corinthians who neglected love! And yet he finally asks the Lord to put love in their hearts! In the letter to the Romans he testifies: "So then it is not up to anyone’s will or running, but up to God’s mercy" (Rom 9,16). But he does not refrain from encouraging, admonishing and punishing! Why then do our opponents not interrupt the Lord, telling him not to make futile efforts by demanding from man what he can only give himself, or by reproaching him, which can only happen in the absence of his grace? Why don’t they turn to Paul and ask him to spare people admonitions and rebukes, since it is not up to them to "want" or "run" unless God’s mercy precedes them – which they now lack? As if the Lord did not have a clear reason for his teaching, which is also clear to those who ask for it in piety! What exhortation and punishment can do to change the heart is described by Paul himself: "It is not the one who plants, nor the one who waters, but the Lord who gives the fruit…" (1Cor 3:3). (1Cor 3:7) So also Moses inculcates the commandments of the law with emphasis, and the prophets meet the transgressors with zeal and threat. And yet they confess that man only comes to his senses when he is given an understanding heart, that it is God’s own work to circumcise the heart and to give a heart of flesh instead of one of stone, to inscribe His law in the inner being of man, finally to renew the soul and thus to give effect to the teaching!

II,5,5 Wherefore then exhortations? They will one day appear as a testimony against the ungodly, who now stubbornly despise them, when it comes to the Lord’s judgment; yes, they scourge and torment their conscience already now – for a bold fool may mock them, but he cannot reject them! But one asks: What shall such a poor man do, if he is denied the accessibility of the heart, which is indispensable for obedience? – Certainly, but what will man seek for an evasion, since he has to attribute his hardness of heart to himself? Thus the wicked, who hold such exhortations up to ridicule whether they like it or not, are thrown to the ground by their power. But the most essential thing is the benefit of such exhortations for the believers. On them the Lord works everything by his Spirit, but he also uses the instrument of his word, and not without effect. It is therefore an incontrovertible truth that all righteousness of the faithful consists in God’s grace alone, according to the word of the prophet: "I will give them a new heart, and they shall walk in my commandments" (Eze 11:19, 20). But now someone might object: why then are believers reminded of their duty and not simply left to the leading of the Spirit? Why are they encouraged by exhortations when they are no more able to hasten than the Holy Spirit gives them impetus? Why are they punished when they have gone astray, when such falling is only the result of the necessary weakness of their flesh? O man, who are you to lay down a law to God? If God wants to prepare us for the reception of grace itself, which enables us to obey the exhortation, by this very exhortation, what is there to blame or scoff at in this order? And if the exhortations achieved nothing else with the pious than to convict them of sin, they would not for that reason alone be regarded as completely useless! But now, by virtue of the inner efficacy of the spirit, they serve excellently to kindle the desire for good, to remedy sloth, to corrupt the delight in wickedness and its poisoned sweetness, and, on the other hand, to produce hatred and disgust against it; who would still declare them superfluous? If anyone wants a clearer answer, I will express myself thus: God always acts in his elect in a twofold way: inwardly through his Spirit, outwardly through his Word. Through the Spirit he enlightens the mind, brings the heart to love and reverence for righteousness, and in this way makes of man a new creature. Through the Word, he incites him to desire, seek, and obtain this renewal. In both, he exercises the action of his hand according to the measure he keeps in the distribution of his gifts. He gives the same word to the ungodly; here it does not bring about improvement, but it does have a different effect: it is the testimony that is to weigh on their consciences even now and make them all the more inexcusable on the day of judgment. Christ certainly teaches that no one can come to Him except the Father, and that the elect come to Him after they have heard and learned it from the Father (John 6,44.45). But he is right in his teaching authority and invites with his voice all to come to him, although they all need the inner teaching of the Holy Spirit to get ahead somehow! And Paul shows that the teaching is not ineffective even with the ungodly, because it is "a stench of death unto death" to them, "but a good stench unto God" (2Cor 2,16).

II,5,6 In the enumeration of scriptural testimonies our opponents develop lively activity, which is so great above all because, since these passages lack evidential force, they would at least like to overrun us by their great number. But just as in battle, when it comes to a scuffle, a large but unwarlike crowd, however pompous and boastful it may appear, is completely thrown into confusion and put to flight with a few blows, so it will also be easy for us to disperse our opponents together with their large army. Now all the passages of Scripture which they abuse against us can actually be summed up in a few main points, and therefore, having divided them into groups, we can satisfy several of them with one answer. It will therefore not be necessary to refute them individually. Especially they refer to the commandments. They think that these are so appropriate to our abilities that we are necessarily able to perform what is demonstrably ordered by them. So they go through the commandments one by one and measure the extent of our strength. In doing so, they say thus: either God has mocked us when he demands holiness, piety, obedience, chastity, love and meekness, and forbids impurity, idolatry, unchastity, anger, robbery, pride and the like – or else he has demanded only what is within our power! Now all the commandments they accumulate can be divided into three groups. The first group demands conversion to God, the second simply speaks of observing the law, the third tells us to persevere in the grace of God we have received. We will first talk about all three types together and then go through the three elaborations individually. The attempt to determine man’s faculties in their measure according to the dictates of the divine law has been in use for a long time, and also has a semblance of truth to it, but still stems from gross ignorance of the law. Our opponents consider it a terrible sacrilege to say that the fulfillment of the law is impossible; they aim at the "striking" proof: in this case the law would be given in vain! They speak as if Paul had never said anything about the law! What is the meaning of such statements as: the law was added for the sake of transgression (Gal 3,19), through the law comes the knowledge of sin (Rom 3,20), the law arouses sin (Rom 7,7 ss.), it was added so that sin would become more powerful (Rom 5,20)? Can we say that God should have adapted the law to our powers so that it would not be given in vain? No, it goes far beyond our powers, precisely to make us aware of our powerlessness! Certainly, according to the description of the same Paul, the goal and fulfillment of the law is love (1 Tim 1:5). But he also expresses the prayer request that the hearts of the Thessalonians be filled with love (1The 3:12), making it clear that the law sounds to our ears without effect unless God brings its whole content to life in our hearts.

II,5,7 If the Scriptures taught nothing else than that the law is the guide of our life, according to which we must direct all our zeal, I too would unhesitatingly agree with the view of my opponents. But the Scriptures do thoroughly and clearly unfold to us a multiple application of the law, and therefore we must discern from their interpretation what the law accomplishes in man. As far as our question is concerned, the Scriptures, on the one hand, prescribe what we are to do, and, on the other hand, at the same time teach us that the power to obey comes from God’s goodness, and invite us to prayer, by which we are to ask for such a gift. If there were only the command and no promise at all, we would have to test our strength to see if it was sufficient to fulfill the command. But the promises are indeed connected with the commandments, which call out to us that the help of divine grace not only gives us support, but all strength in general; and these very promises therefore testify to us more than enough that we are much too weak, indeed completely incapable, of keeping the law. Therefore, let no one now claim that our strength is according to the measure of the law’s requirement, as if the Lord had measured the standard of righteousness he wanted to give in the law according to the measure of our weakness! Rather, we must learn from the promises how incapable we are of ourselves, since we are so much in need of God’s grace in every way! But one retorts: who is to suppose that the Lord intended his law for logs and stones? Indeed, no one wants to believe that either! For neither the wicked are stones or logs – the law, after all, convicts them that their desires are directed against God, and so they are guilty according to their own testimony – nor even the pious, when they, aware of their powerlessness, take refuge in grace! Here also belong some weighty sayings of Augustine. "God commands what we cannot, that we may know what we ought to ask of him" (Of Grace and Free Will, 116). "Great is the use of the commandments in giving so much to free will that God’s grace may be the more honored" (Letter 167). "Faith obtains what the law requires" (Manual, 117), "indeed therefore the law requires, that faith may obtain what was required by the law; faith itself God requires of us, and he will not find what he seeks unless he himself gives what he wants to find" (Sermons on John, 32). "God give what he commands, and then he may command what he will" (Confessions, 10).

II,5,8 All this can be seen more clearly by considering the three kinds of commandments which we touched upon briefly above. (1.) The Lord often commands in the Law as in the Prophets that we should turn to Him (Joel 2:12; Eze 13:30-32; Hos 14:2f.). But on the other hand, the prophet sighs, "Convert me, O Lord, and I shall be converted; when I was converted, I repented…" (Jer 31:18f.). He also commands us to circumcise the foreskin of our heart (Deut 10:16); but through Moses He proclaims that such circumcision is done by His hand! (Deut 30:6). Often he demands the renewal of the heart – but in one place he testifies that he will give it to us himself! (Eze 36,26). "But what God has promised," says Augustine, "we do not do ourselves of our will or nature, but He does it Himself by His grace!" (Of the Grace of Christ and Original Sin, I,30 s.). And among the rules of Ticonius, he also enumerates in the fifth place the remark that we should finely distinguish between law and promise, commandment and grace (Of Christian Instruction, III,33). Away, then, with those who want to conclude from the commandments that man is somehow qualified for obedience; they do so only to cancel out God’s grace, which fulfills the commandments themselves! (2.) To the second kind belong the ordinary commandments, in which we are commanded to worship God, to be subservient to His will and to adhere to it, to observe what is pleasing to Him and to follow His teaching. But innumerable passages also testify that what one can have in righteousness, holiness, piety and purity is his gift! (3.) To the third group belong such exhortations as Paul and Barnabas, according to Luke’s report, give to the believers, namely, they should persevere in the grace of God (Acts 13:43). But the same Paul also shows in another place from where one should ask for the strength for such constancy. "Last of all, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might …" (Eph 6:10) And in another place he forbids us to grieve the Spirit of the Lord, with whom we are "sealed to the day of our redemption" (Eph 4:30). But what he demands there cannot be accomplished by men, and so he asks the Lord on behalf of the Thessalonians to "make them worthy of their holy calling, and to fulfill in them all the good purpose of his goodness, and the work of faith" (2Thess 1:11). In the same way, in the second letter to the Corinthians, where he speaks of the gifts of love, he often praises the pious and good will of the church, but immediately afterwards thanks God who had put it into Titus’ heart to admonish them (2Cor 8:11, 16). If Titus could not even put his mouth into service to exhort the others without God driving him to do so, how could the others have become willing to act without God Himself inclining their hearts?

II,5,9 But all these testimonies of Scripture are declared insufficient by our opponents in their deceitfulness; they think that there is nothing to prevent us from putting our own efforts into it and that God then lends support to our weak attempts. They even bring in passages from the prophets, where the realization of our conversion seems to be divided between God and us. For example, "Turn to me, and I will turn to you again" (Zech 1:3). What kind of help the Lord gives us has already been discussed above and does not need to be repeated here. Only one thing should be conceded: that it is vain to want to find in man the ability to fulfill the law because the Lord demands obedience from us. For it is certain that for the fulfillment of all God’s commandments the grace of the Lawgiver Himself is necessary – and that this very grace is promised to us! If this is admitted, it is at least obvious that more is demanded of us than we are able to perform. No matter how cunningly one may pose, the words of Jeremiah cannot be dissolved, according to which the covenant that was once made with the old people has come to nothing, because it existed only in letters – while the new covenant only comes into effect when the spirit is added that brings the hearts to obedience (Jer 31:32 ss.). Even the saying: "Turn to me and I will turn to you" cannot support the view of my opponents. For there it does not speak of God’s return to us, in which he renews our heart to right repentance, but of that other one, in which he proves himself benevolent and helpful by sending us happy times, just as he sometimes also shows his displeasure through misfortune. Because the people, plagued by all kinds of misery and distress, complain that God has turned away from them, he answers that he will not lack his kindness if they turn to the righteousness of life and to him, who is the archetype of justice. It is therefore an evil distortion of the text to interpret it in such a way that the work of conversion seems to be done half by God and half by man! We have been able to touch on this more briefly because this investigation really belongs more to the doctrine of the Law and therefore should be treated there..

II,5,10 In closest relation to this first piece of evidence of the adversaries stands the second group of scriptural proofs. They are called promises, in which the Lord makes a contract with our will, as it were. For example, "Seek good and not evil, and ye shall live" (Am 5:14). "If ye will obey me, ye shall enjoy the good of the land: but if ye refuse and disobey, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord saith so" (Isa 1:19, 20). "If you put away your abominations from my presence, you shall not be driven out" (Jer 4:1). "If thou wilt obey the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep and do all his commandments, the Lord thy God will make thee supreme over all the nations of the earth" (Deut 28:1). In addition there are other passages, such as Lev 26,3 ss. One thinks now: All these benefits, which God offers in his promises, are only attached to our will to strange mockery and derision, if we do not have the ability to appropriate them or to reject them from us! And this can certainly be extended to talkative complaints that we are cruelly fooled by the Lord when he proclaims that his benefits depend on our will, – when our will is not in our power at all! That would really be a glorious generosity of God, if he offered us his benefits in such a way that we could not enjoy them at all! It would be a strange certainty about his promises, if they were dependent on an unfulfillable condition, so that they would never be fulfilled! We shall have to speak of such promises, to which a condition is attached, in another place. There it will become clear that there is nothing absurd in the impossibility of fulfilling these conditions. In the present case, I deny that God is cruelly playing games with us when he asks us to earn his gifts, when he knows how utterly incapable we are. For these promises are given to believers at the same time as to unbelievers, and have quite a different effect on both. For as God stirs up the consciences of the ungodly by his commandments, that they may not be too comfortable in their sins - and without remembrance of God’s judgment they would do so after all! -, he testifies to them by his promises how unworthy they are of his kindness! For who would not think it most just and fitting of the world that the Lord should do good to those who revere him, and on the other hand should retaliate with all severity against the despisers of his majesty? Therefore God acts rightly and orderly when he announces in his promises to the wicked, who lie bound in the fetters of sin, the condition that they would receive his benefits only when they desisted from wickedness; if only so that they may realize: they are rightly separated from that which belongs to the true worshippers of God! On the other hand, he does use many means to make the faithful ask for his grace; and there it is by no means nonsensical to try what he evidently does with his commandments with much good effect on us, also with his promises. Through the commandments we learn God’s will and are thus reminded of our misery, since we are wholeheartedly opposed to this will. At the same time, we are also driven to call upon His Spirit to guide us in the right way. But the commandments are not yet sufficient to disturb us in our comfort, and therefore the promises are added, which, as it were, by their sweetness make us desire the commandments! But the stronger the desire for righteousness is in us, the more ardently we seek God’s grace. With such requests: "If you want" or "If you hear" the Lord does not attribute to us the free ability to want or to hear, but does not make fools of us in view of our powerlessness!

II,5,11 Also the third group (of alleged scriptural proofs of the opponents) has much similarity with the first two. They bring in passages in which God reproaches his ungrateful people, saying that they alone are to blame if they have not received all kinds of good from his kindness. Among these are the following passages. "The Amalekites and Canaanites are there before you, and you will fall by the sword, because you have turned away from the Lord" (Num 14:43). "Because I have called you and you have not answered, I will do to this house as I did to Shiloh" (Jer 7:13f.). "This is the people who would not hear the Lord their God, nor amend themselves … therefore they are rejected of the Lord" (Jer 7:28f.). "Because you hardened your hearts and would not obey the Lord, all these evils have come upon you" (Jer 5:3; Vulgate). Now the opponents say: How should such reproaches be in place against a people who could immediately answer: "Our welfare was indeed very dear to us, and we feared misfortune; but that we, in order to become happy and to avoid disaster, did not obey the Lord, nor did we pay attention to his voice – this is because we are subject to the dominion of sin and were not free to do what was commanded! Therefore evil is reproached to us without reason, because it was not in our power at all to avoid it." But I will pass over this excuse, which invokes the necessity of sin, because it is merely a useless and superficial excuse. Only I would like to ask whether those people can really shift the blame from themselves. If they are guilty, the Lord reproaches them, not without cause, for not having tasted the fruit of His kindness as a result of their wrongdoing. Let them answer me, then, if they can deny that the cause of their stubbornness was their own evil will! But if they find the source of evil in themselves, why do they search so diligently for external causes, so as not to appear to be the author of their own ruin? If it is true that the sinner loses the divine gifts through his own fault, not through the fault of others, and falls under God’s punishment, then there is indeed reason enough to hear such reproaches from God’s mouth. For if men go on their way stiff-necked, they should learn in adversity to accuse and blame their own wickedness, instead of slanderously accusing God of unjust severity. If, however, they are still reasonably tractable, let the weariness of sin, by which they see themselves plunged into misery and ruin, come upon them, and so let them return to the right way, and in such a way acknowledge for themselves in earnest confession what the Lord calls to mind in his reproofs! The above-mentioned words of rebuke of the prophets actually served this purpose among the pious, as is evident from the glorious prayer that is handed down to us in the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel. We see the effect first described in the example of the Jews, to whom Jeremiah, at God’s command, was to show the cause of all their woe, although events were not to come otherwise than the Lord had foretold! "You shall tell them all this, and they will not hear you; call out to them, and they will not answer you!" (Jer 7:27; not Luther text). What is the purpose of singing to the deaf here? They are supposed to realize without and against their will that what they have heard is true after all, that it is sacrilegious blasphemy if they ascribe the guilt for their wickedness, which after all lies in themselves, to God! With these few refutations, one can resist the whole multitude of scriptural testimonies which the enemies of God’s grace so assiduously heap up for the erection of an idol for free will from the commandments as well as from the threats against the transgressors of the law. Reproachfully, the 78th Ps says of the Jews: "An apostate and disobedient kind, to whom their heart was not steadfast …" (Ps 78,8) And in another Ps the prophet admonishes the people of his time not to harden their hearts (Ps 95,8) – because for all stubbornness man himself is to blame in his wickedness! But it would be foolish to conclude that the heart can turn to both sides, when God alone prepares it! The prophet says: "I incline my heart to do according to thy judgments" (Ps 119,112), because he has given himself willingly and in joyful readiness to God for service. But with this he does not claim to be the author of his willingness himself, but he confesses in the same psalm that this is God’s gift (Ps 119:36). Therefore, we must adhere to the words of Paul, who exhorts the believers: "Work out salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works both the willing and the doing" (Phil 2:12, 13). Here he ascribes to them a share in the working, lest they give place to the flesh in its laziness; but at the same time he commands them fear and trembling, and so humbles them that they may remember: this, which they themselves are commanded to do, is actually God’s own work. He thus expressly declares that believers are, so to speak, passively active, since the ability to act is instilled in them from heaven, so that they do not presume anything for themselves! When Peter exhorts us to "present virtue in faith" (2 Pet 1:5), he does not attribute to us the ability to independently take on the second role in action next to God, but he only wants to disturb us from the comfort of the flesh, in which even faith is often suffocated. The same intention has Paul’s word: "Do not dampen the spirit" (1Thess 5,19), because often enough laziness also comes over the believers, if it is not rejected. But if someone wants to draw the conclusion that it is up to the free will of the believers to keep the offered light, then such an uninformed way of speaking is easily rejected: because exactly this zeal that Paul demands comes only from God! (2 Cor 7:1). We are also often told to cleanse ourselves from all uncleanness, even though the Spirit has reserved for Himself the office of sanctification! Finally, from the words of John: "He who is born of God keeps himself" (1Jn 5:18), it is quite clear that something that in itself belongs to God is transferred to us by a special concession (from God). That word of John is used by the heralds of free will for themselves – as if such preservation was partly from God’s, partly from our power, as if we did not have just this preservation, which the apostle mentions, from heaven! That is why Christ also asks the Father to keep us from evil (John 17:15); and the pious, as we know, do not gain victory in their war against Satan any other way than with God’s weapons! Peter also commands: "Purify your souls in obedience to the truth" (1Pet 1:22) – but then, to prevent any misunderstanding, he adds: "By the Spirit"! John briefly shows how all human powers are nothing in the spiritual battle when he says that everything that is born of God cannot sin because the seed of God remains in it (1Jn 3:9)! He later gives the reason for this: "For our faith is the victory that overcame the world" (1Jn 5:4).

II,5,12 But now one cites a testimony from the law of Moses that seems to strongly contradict my assertion. For Moses, after the giving of the law, declares to the people: "The commandment which I command thee this day is not hidden from thee, nor is it far off, nor is it in heaven; but it is near thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart, that thou do it". (Deut 30:11, 12, 14). If we must assume that we are speaking here of the mere commandments, I admit that the passage is of no small importance for our question. It would not be difficult to put the passage aside, because it does not speak of the ability and inclination to obey, but only of the knowledge of the commandments. Even then, of course, some doubts might arise. But the apostle puts an end to all doubts in a clear way: he claims that Moses is talking about the teaching of the gospel! (Rom 10:8). Now, of course, a recalcitrant head could claim that Paul achieved this relation to the gospel only by forcibly treating the text. Although it is a sign of ungodliness if someone utters such a bold assertion, there is also the possibility to refute him without appealing to the authority of the apostle. If Moses spoke here only of the commandments, he would have to instill a vain self-confidence in the people! For they would certainly have fallen into the abyss if they had undertaken to observe the law by their own efforts, as if that were a trifle! But where is the assumed ease of the fulfillment of the law, if no access at all remains without a ruinous fall? Therefore it is absolutely sure that Moses means here the covenant of mercy, which he had announced together with the proclamation of the law! He had also taught a few verses before that it requires the circumcision of our heart by the hand of God, so that we loved him (Deut 30:6). So he based that ease, of which he speaks immediately afterwards, not on the power of man, but on the help and protection of the Holy Spirit, who does his work with power in our weakness! However, the passage is not to be understood as simply speaking of the commandments, but rather of the promises of the gospel, which do not establish in us the ability to attain righteousness, but rather overthrow it from the bottom up! Paul points out that in the gospel salvation is not offered to us under such hard and difficult conditions as the law imposes on us, according to which only he who has fulfilled all the commandments attains salvation, but rather easily and freely and on a paved way – and he affirms this with that word (in Rom 10). Therefore, this testimony cannot be used to defend the freedom of the human will.

II,5,13 Fourthly, some words are held up to us, according to which God sometimes withdraws his help of grace from men, in order to put them to the test in this way and to watch where they now direct their striving. Thus we hear in Hosea: "I will return to my place until they recognize their guilt and seek my face" (Hos 5:15). To this we say: It would be ridiculous if the Lord wanted to watch whether Israel would seek his face, when the heart could not turn at all and therefore could not incline to both sides by its own decision! As if God did not appear to the prophets again and again to despise and reject his people until they improved their lives! But what conclusions do our opponents all over the world want to draw from such threats? If they want to say that the people forsaken by God can think of repentance of their own accord, they have the whole Scripture against them! But if they admit that God’s grace is necessary for repentance, why do they argue with us? But on the one hand they admit that grace is necessary – and yet on the other hand they want to preserve man’s freedom! But from where do they prove this? Certainly not from this passage and also not from similar ones of their kind! For it is something quite different whether God withdraws from man and then watches what he, left to himself, actually creates, or whether he lends him his "aid" to "support" his weak powers! Now, however, somebody could ask: But what is the meaning of such phrases then? I answer: They mean the same as if God said: I have now achieved nothing with this people in its stubbornness by admonishing, encouraging and scolding, so I will then withdraw a little, leave it to the challenge – and keep quiet about it! I will watch whether they will remember me after a long time of trouble and seek my face. For this leaving aside of the Lord means the taking away of prophecy. And that "watching what men will do" means that he tests the people silently and, as it were, disguising himself with many a tribulation. Both these things he does to humble us more; for under the blows of adversity we are much more likely to be crushed than set right, unless God teaches us by his Spirit. If, then, the Lord, offended by our unbroken obstinacy and, as it were, weary of him, lets us go for a time by taking away his word, in which, as it were, he is wont to be near us, and puts to the test what we would do without his presence, – it is quite wrong to infer from here any powers of free will which he might be supposed to ascertain or test. For he does all this only to bring us to the knowledge of our nothingness!

II,5,14 Fifthly, a constant way of speaking is brought against us, which can be observed in the Scriptures as well as in ordinary human conversation: The good works are called "our" works, and if something is holy and pleasing in the sight of the Lord, we are considered to be the "doers" just as much as we appear to be the "doers" of sin. But if the sinful works are rightly attributed to us, because they are done by us, we must also have a share in the good works for the same reason. For it would not be reasonable if we were to be credited with doing works which we were not able to do of our own accord, but to which we had to be set in motion like stones by God. Certainly, then, we should ascribe the first part to God’s grace, but the aforementioned usage of language itself shows that at least in the second place we also do our own. (So much for the opposing objection!) If our opponents were only interested in good works being called "our" works, I, for my part, would reply that the bread we ask from God is also called "our" bread! What else is to be inferred from the little word "our" than that something to which we are in no way entitled becomes "ours" through God’s goodness and free gift? Therefore, one must either laugh at this request ("our" daily bread give us today) in the prayer of the Lord as absurd – or find nothing distasteful in the fact that the good works, in which something is ours only through God’s kind granting, are called "our" works! More conclusive is the remark that Scripture often says that we worship God, do justice, obey the law, and strive for good works. (Now one says:) These are actual tasks of the mind and the will, and how should it be possible that on the one hand they are referred to the Holy Spirit, but on the other hand they are attributed to us – if there were not some common ground between our striving and the power of God? But we will escape these objections without much effort if we pay proper attention to the way in which the Spirit of the Lord does his work in believers. The resemblance that is held against us is merely external: who would be so foolish as not to recognize a difference between the movement in a man and the throwing of a stone? Such a thing cannot be inferred from our teaching in any way. Among the natural abilities of man we count: Recognizing, rejecting, wanting and not wanting, striving and resisting – namely, recognizing vanity, rejecting what is right and good, wanting evil, not wanting good, striving for wickedness, resisting justice! How does the Lord act? If he uses such depravity as an instrument of his wrath, he guides and directs it wherever he wants, in order to carry out his good work by an evil hand. Shall we now compare such a vicious man, who in this way becomes serviceable to God’s power, although he himself in the meantime seeks only to satisfy his own lust, with a stone that is set in motion by someone else’s throwing, but is itself carried along without movement, without motion, without will? We can see how great the difference is! But what about the good, of whom we are speaking here in particular? When God has established His kingdom in a man, He restrains our will by His Spirit, so that he may not be torn by his desires according to his natural inclination; and so that he may reach out for holiness and righteousness, He directs, conforms, shapes, and judges him according to the guide of His righteousness; and so that he may not finally waver and fall, He strengthens and fortifies him by the power of His Spirit! For this reason Augustin says: "You mean: we are thus worked and do not work ourselves! Yes, you work and are worked, and you work well when you are worked by the good! The Spirit of God, which impels thee, is a helper in him that worketh; but the name ’helper’ implies that thou also workest something!" (Sermon 156). In the first part he recalls that the activity of man is not cancelled by the impulse of the Spirit, because man has by nature the will that is directed to seek the good (quia a natura est voluntas, quae regitur, ut ad bonum aspiret). When he then adds that the term "help" implies that we also work something, this does not mean that he ascribes something to us in ourselves; he only does not want to support our comfort and brings God’s working together with ours in such a way that our willing is by nature, but our right willing comes from grace. In this sense he had said shortly before that without God’s help we not only could not conquer, but could not even fight.

II,5,15 The grace of God – in the sense in which the expression is used in the doctrine of regeneration – obviously serves the spirit as a guide for the direction and government of the human will. But it can only govern if it rectifies, remakes, renews – that is why we also say that the beginning of rebirth is to be seen in the fact that what is ours is done away with! – and if he at the same time moves, works, drives, carries and holds! Therefore we rightly say that all the effects that come out of it are indeed his. However, we do not deny the correctness of Augustine’s saying that the will is not destroyed by grace, but rather restored. On the one hand, it is said that the will is restored, inasmuch as its corruption and perversity are removed and it is thus led to the right standard of righteousness. And yet, on the other hand, it must be said that the will is recreated, because it is so corrupt and perverse that it must take on a completely new nature. So there is no obstacle to say that we really do (rite) what the Holy Spirit works in us, although our will does nothing of itself to it, which could be separated from the grace of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we must never forget what we have already said above from Augustine: that it is a vain effort if some people are always struggling to find something good in man that is peculiar to him. For all the mixtures that people try to put on God’s grace by the power of their free will are only adulterations of it, just as if someone wanted to mix dirty, bitter water with wine! What is good in our will, then, comes purely from the impulse of the spirit; but since willing is innate in us by nature, it is not improper to say that we do the work ourselves, although God rightly reserves the praise for it. For, in the first place, what he works in us is ours by his goodness, only that we must not regard it as ours. And secondly, it is our mind, our will and our aspirations that are directed by him to the good!

II,5,16 What our opponents now scrape together in testimonies here and there need hardly trouble even less skilled people, if they have only absorbed the refutations given above. Thus they cite the sentence from Genesis: "Their lust shall be subject to you, and you shall rule over them" (Gen 4:7; not Luther text). They then refer this passage to sin, as if the Lord had promised Cain that sin would not reign in his heart if he would only strive to tame it. However, according to the context, we think it more appropriate to refer the passage to Abel. God’s intention here is to rebuke the unjust envy that Cain had against his brother. He does this in two ways. First, he gives him to understand that it would be in vain for him to think of standing higher before God than his brother by doing an evil deed, for before God there is no honor but that which comes from righteousness. And secondly, he shows him how ungrateful he is to God, in view of the benefits already received, if he cannot bear his brother even when the latter is subject to his rule. But it should not seem that we apply this interpretation only because the opposite one did not fit into our proof. So let us admit that God did indeed speak of sin here. If this is so, then what the Lord says is either a promise or a command. If it is a commandment, then it already follows from our evidence above that no proof of man’s ability follows from it. If it is a promise – where then has it been fulfilled, since Cain, who was to rule over sin, is actually subject to it? But it will be said that there was a tacit condition included in the promise, as if it meant: You will have the victory – provided you fight! But who will approve of such evasions? For if this "ruling" refers to sin, it is indisputably to be taken as a command; this, of course, does not say what we are actually able to do, but what we are actually supposed to do, even if it goes beyond our strength. However, the story itself and also the grammatical rule demands the assumption of a comparison of Cain with Abel, since the older brother would never have been subordinated to the younger one, if he had not placed himself under him by his own misdeed.

II,5,17 One even refers to the testimony of the apostle (Paul), who says: "So it is not up to someone’s will or running, but up to God’s mercy" (Rom 9,16). From this it is inferred that there is something in our will and our effort that is weak in itself, but can come to a good end with the help of God’s mercy. But if one had soberly considered what kind of question Paul is dealing with in this passage, then one would not have misused the passage so unhesitatingly. I know well: the opponents can refer to Origen (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Book VII) and Jerome (Dialogues against the Pelagians, 1) as proof helpers. On the other hand, I could cite Augustine against them. However, it does not matter what these men meant, if Paul’s intention is clear! He teaches here that salvation is prepared only for those whom the Lord has chosen to be worthy of his mercy, but for those whom he has not chosen, only collapse and ruin remain. The fate of the rejected he has previously made clear by the example of Pharaoh. Likewise, he confirmed the certainty of gracious election with the testimony of Moses: "On whom I have mercy, I have mercy" (Rom 9,15; Ex 33,19). He then concludes, "So then it is not up to anyone’s will or running, but up to God’s mercy!" If one wants to understand this in such a way that will and effort are insufficient because they are not up to such a burden, then Paul would have expressed himself very little appropriately. Therefore, away with the sophistry: "It is not up to someone’s will or running – so there must be some will, some running!" Paul thinks much simpler: Not the will, not the running provides us the access to salvation, but here only the Lord’s mercy prevails! He does not express anything different here than in the letter to Titus: "The kindness and brightness of God our Savior appeared – not because of the works of righteousness we had done, but according to His mercy …" (Tit 3:4, 5). The opponents, in their sophistry, think that Paul implies the existence of willing or running, when he denies that it depends on willing and running. But even they would not allow me to draw the conclusion that we have done any good works – since Paul expressly denies that we become partakers of God’s goodness through the works we have done. But if they declare this conclusion to be wrong, let them open their eyes – and they will see that theirs has the same error in it! Very well founded is also the argument of Augustin: "If the sentence ’So it is not due to someone’s willing or running’ had its meaning in the fact that willing and running would be insufficient, then one could claim on the other side: ’So it is not due to God’s mercy’ – because this would not be effective alone!" But this second is contradictory, and therefore Augustin rightly concludes that that word of Paul is said because man has no good will at all unless the Lord prepares him, not as if we did not need to will or run at all, but because God works both in us! (Letter 217). Equally nonsensical, some of our opponents twist Paul’s word: "We are God’s co-workers" (1Cor 3:9). This word undoubtedly refers exclusively to the servants (of the Lord). They are not called "co-workers" because they contribute something of their own accord, but because God uses their work after He has made them suitable and provided them with the necessary gifts.

II,5,18 Then they also cite the book of Sirach, which is known to be of doubtful authority. Well, we do not want to reject it right away – although we could justifiably do so! What kind of testimony does it bear to free will? It says that man was left to his own decision right after his creation, that he was given commandments to keep him if he kept them …, that life and death were laid before man, good and evil, and that he could receive what he wanted … (Isa Sir. 15,14-17). So let us admit that man in his creation had received the ability to receive life or death. But if I now claim against it that he has lost this ability? However, I do not intend to contradict Solomon when he says: "I have found that God has made man upright; but they seek many arts" (Eccl. 7:30). But man, after all, has departed from his origin and has been shipwrecked with himself and with all his goods. Therefore, if something is due to the first creation (prima creatio), it does not follow that it also applies to the corrupted and degenerate nature. Therefore I answer my adversaries and also Sirach – whoever he may be -: If you want to instruct man to look for the ability to attain salvation in himself, your reputation is too small for me to justify any prejudice against the undoubted word of God. But if you only want to keep in check the evil inclination of the flesh, which so readily attributes its wickedness to God and would like to make a vain defense out of it, and if you therefore say that man is created "honest" by nature and that he himself is to blame for his downfall, then I agree with you. But then there must also be agreement among us that man has now completely lost that glorious adornment with which the Lord endowed him in the beginning, and that through his own fault – and so we want to make the joint confession: what is needed now is a doctor, but not an advocate (who claims our innocence)!

II,5,19 But most of all they speak the parable of Christ about the man who fell among robbers who left him half dead on the road (Lk 10:30). I know that almost all church teachers see the whole human race in its misery in the image of this wanderer. From this our opponents take a "proof": man was not so robbed by sin and the devil that he did not have at least a remnant of his former goods left – for it would be said in this parable that the wanderer was left "half dead"! For where – (one continues) - would this half life be, if not also a piece of right reason and right will were left? But if I now first of all do not want to give any room at all to their allegorical interpretation – what do they want to do then? For this has been undoubtedly devised by the church fathers without justification in the clear sense of the speech of the Lord! Allegorical interpretations must not go further than the guide of Scripture precedes them; for the substantiation of doctrines, therefore, they are in themselves quite inadequate. Nor is there a lack of reasons with which I could gladly destroy this whole fantasy. For God’s Word does not leave man "half" alive, but teaches that he has perished utterly with respect to blessedness. When Paul speaks of our salvation, he does not say that we were half alive and healed, but that we were dead and raised from the dead! (Eph 2:5). He does not call the half-dead to receive enlightenment through Christ, but those who have fallen asleep and those who have been buried! (Eph 5,14). And the Lord Himself does the same when He says that the hour has come when the dead will rise at His word (John 5:25). Where does one get the shamelessness to oppose so many clear sayings with an insignificant "secret interpretation"? But even if we allow the allegorical interpretation as a certain testimony – what kind of concession is to be gained from us by this? Man is still half alive – he therefore still has some life in him; to be sure, he still has a "mind" capable of knowledge, although he is not able to penetrate into the heavenly, spiritual wisdom; he has a certain judgment about right and wrong; he has an inkling of the divine (sensus divinitatis), although he does not attain to the true knowledge of God. But what follows from this? All this will certainly not make us doubt Augustine’s statement, which has also been recognized in the general judgment of school theology, according to which the goods of grace, on which salvation depends, are taken away from man after the fall, and at the same time the natural gifts have fallen into corruption and defilement. The truth, however, which no one can shake, must remain without doubt: the spirit of man has so completely departed from God’s righteousness that all his willing, desiring and doing is only ungodly, wicked, defiled, unclean and blasphemous; his heart is so permeated by the poison of sin that it can only give off a corrupt stench. And even if at times a semblance of goodness becomes visible, the "mind" remains enveloped in hypocrisy and deceit, and the spirit lies inwardly in the bonds of corruption.

Chapter Six

The lost man must seek his salvation in Christ.

II,6,1 So the whole human race perished in Adam. And all that original precedence and nobility, which we mentioned, would bring us nothing at all, yes, would only make our shame more terribly apparent, if God, who does not recognize the sin-stained and corrupted human beings as His work, had not appeared in the form of His only begotten Son as the Redeemer. Since we have therefore passed from life to death, all that knowledge of God as our Creator, of which we have spoken, would be of purely no use to us, if faith were not added, which sets God in Christ before us as our Father! The original order was that the building of the world would be the school for us, in which we learned the right fear of God, in order to pass from there to eternal life and perfect bliss. But since the apostasy it is different: wherever we look, God’s curse confronts us; through our guilt it strikes even the innocent creature and drags it with it into ruin; so it must necessarily plunge our soul into despair! For God still shows his fatherly kindness to us in many ways, but it is not possible to grasp that he is the Father by looking at the world, for our conscience torments us inwardly and reproaches us that sin is the just cause of God’s rejecting us and no longer seeing or respecting us as children. In addition, there is also our sloth and ingratitude, for our "mind" is blinded and unable to recognize what is true, and all our senses are corrupted, and therefore we wickedly deprive God of His honor. We must therefore come to Paul’s statement: "Since the world in its wisdom did not recognize God in His wisdom, it pleased God by foolish preaching to save those who believe" (1Cor 1:21). By the wisdom of God Paul understands the glorious image of heaven and earth, as it is filled with innumerable wonders, an image from the sight of which God should have been wisely known; but because we have known him so little by it, the apostle calls us to faith in Christ. This faith, of course, is ridiculous to unbelievers, since it has the appearance of foolishness about it. Therefore, although the preaching of the cross does not correspond to human pride, we must accept it in humility if we want to return to God, our Creator and Worker, from whom we have departed, that He may be our Father anew! For after the fall of the first man, certainly no knowledge of God was of any value for salvation without the Mediator. Christ does not only speak of his time, but encompasses all centuries when he says: "This is eternal life, that they may know you, who alone are true God, and whom you have sent, Jesus Christ" (John 17:3). All the more foolish is the ignorance of such people who open heaven to all the unbelievers and unfaithful, apart from the grace of Christ, who, according to the teaching of Scripture, is the only gate through which we can reach salvation. But if someone wanted to refer this word of Jesus only to the spreading of the gospel, he can be refuted immediately; for all times and peoples were familiar with the principle that we men, since we have departed from God and are therefore called cursed and children of wrath, cannot please God without reconciliation. In this regard, we must also take note of Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman: "You worship what you do not know, but we know what we worship; for salvation comes from the Jews" (John 4:22). With these words he declares the religions of all peoples to be false, he also gives the reason: only to the chosen people the redeemer was promised in the law. It follows that God has never been pleased with a worship of God that was not centered on Christ. Therefore Paul also claims that all nations were without God and without hope of life (Eph 2:12). And when John teaches how life was in Christ in the beginning and yet the whole world fell away from it, we must return to this source. Christ calls Himself the "life" (John 11:25; 14,6) because He is the reconciler. And indeed, the inheritance of heaven belongs only to the children of God. But it is impossible to ascribe the position and status of children to such people who are not incorporated into the body of the only begotten Son. John also clearly testifies to this: those who believe in His name become children of God! (John 1:12). But I do not intend to talk about faith in Christ here, and so this touch in passing must suffice for the time being.

II,6,2 Therefore God never showed mercy to the people of the Old Covenant and never gave them hope for salvation without the Mediator. I will not go into the sacrifices demanded by the law: the believers were clearly taught that salvation could not be sought anywhere else than in the atonement, which was accomplished only in Christ! I will only say this here: the blessedness and happiness of the Church have always been based on the person of Christ. God certainly included the entire descendants of Abraham in his covenant; and yet Paul wisely draws the conclusion: in the true sense Christ is this "seed in whom all nations should be blessed" (Gal 3:16). For we know that not all who are descended from Abraham according to the flesh were counted among his seed. I will keep silent about Ishmael and others. But how did it happen that of the two sons of Isaac, namely the twin brothers Jacob and Esau, while they were still together in their mother’s womb, one was chosen and the other rejected? Yes, how did it come about that after the rejection of the firstborn now the younger alone came into full rights? Where did it come from that the greater part (of the people) was rejected? It is clear that Abraham’s seed receives its high dignity only in one head, and that the promised salvation could only be fulfilled when Christ appeared, whose office it is to gather the scattered! So the acceptance of the chosen people depended from the beginning on the grace of the mediator. This is not expressed very clearly in Moses, but it seems to have been common knowledge to all the pious. For before a king was even appointed among the people, Hannah, the mother of Samuel, to describe the blessedness of the pious, sang in her song: "God will give power to his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed" (1Sam 2:10). By this she understands that God will bless his church. The promise mentioned shortly thereafter also corresponds to this: "I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, and he shall walk before my anointed forever" (1Sam 2:35). This is undoubtedly how the heavenly Father wanted to make the living image of Christ visible in David and his followers. So he also commands to encourage the pious to fear God: "Kiss the Son" (Ps 2,12) – and the passage from the Gospel fits to this: "Who does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father" (John 5,23). Thus, although the kingdom (of David) could collapse through the apostasy of the ten tribes, the covenant that God had made with David and his successors had to remain. That is why the prophet says: "I will not tear down the whole kingdom for David’s sake, my servant, and for Jerusalem’s sake, which I have chosen, but a tribe will remain for your son" – a promise that is repeated two and three times (1Ki 11:13, 34). Explicitly it is added: "I will humble the seed of David, but not forever" (1Kn 11:39). After some time had passed, we then hear: "For the sake of his servant David, God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, that he might raise up his son after him and preserve Jerusalem" (1Ki 15:4). Even when the events were already approaching their end, it was again said: "God would not destroy Judah for the sake of David his servant, as he had promised to give him a lamp among his children forever" (2Ki 8:19). Thus everything finds its summary in it: Before all others God alone chose David, that his good pleasure should rest on him. Thus it is said: "He let go the tabernacle of Shiloh, and rejected the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim (Ps 78:60, 67), but chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, whom he loved (v. 68); he chose his servant David, that he should feed his people, and his inheritance Israel" (v. 70 f.). In short, God wanted to preserve his church in such a way that its existence and salvation depended solely on that head. Thus David exclaims: "The Lord is his people’s protection; he is the helmet of salvation for his anointed" (Ps 28:8; not Luther text). And then he asks, "Help your people and bless your inheritance" (Ps 28:9), to show how the existence of the Church is linked by an unbreakable bond to the kingdom of Christ (the Anointed One). In the same sense he says in another place: "Help, Lord, the King hear us in the day when we call" (Ps 20:10; Luther text different). There he clearly teaches: if the faithful took refuge in God’s help, they came to this trust only by knowing themselves safe under the protection of the king, as another psalm also shows: "O Lord, help…. Praise be to him who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Ps 118:25, 26). From this it is clear that the faithful were called to Christ in order to gain the hope that they would receive help from God’s hand. Another prayer in which the whole church begs God for mercy leads to this: "Protect the man of your right hand, the Son of Man, whom you have prepared for yourself" (Ps 80:18; Luther text different). The author of this psalm laments the scattering of the whole people, but he asks for its restoration through his head alone. And when then the people was led into exile, the land was devastated and everything was obviously over, Jeremiah lamented the misery of the church and expressed it in this lament that above all the downfall of the kingship cut off all hope for the believers. Thus he says: "The Anointed One, who was the spirit of our mouth, has been taken captive because of our sins, he to whom we said, ’In your shadow we will live among the nations’" (Klagel. 4:20). Here it becomes completely clear: God cannot be merciful to the human race without the Mediator, and that is why the holy fathers under the law always held Christ before them, on whom they should direct their faith.

II,6,3 Where comfort is promised in the tribulation, especially where the deliverance of the church is described, the banner of trust and hope is placed before the eyes of the faithful in Christ Himself: "God has gone forth to help His people, to help with His anointed" (Hab. 3,13; not Luther text). And every time the prophets speak of the restoration of the Church, they remind the people of the promise that promised David the enduring duration of his kingdom. This is no wonder; for otherwise the covenant would not have endured. This includes above all the glorious answer that Isaiah once gave when he had announced to the unbelieving king Ahab the lifting of the siege of Jerusalem and soon help, and yet he saw how the king did not accept it; then he came, as it were, abruptly to speak of the Messiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive …" (Isa 7,14). There he clearly indicates: Even if the king and the people in their wickedness reject the offered promise, as if they were trying with firm intention to weaken the promise of God: nevertheless the covenant will not be dismissed and in his time the redeemer will come! In short, all prophets wanted to show that God wanted reconciliation, and therefore it was important for them to always mention the kingdom of David, on which redemption and eternal salvation depended. Thus we read in Isaiah: "I will make a covenant with you, and I will give you the certain graces of David; behold, I have set him for a witness … to the nations" (Isa 55,3. 4). For in such a desperate situation, the people could only believe that God would allow himself to be asked by them when this witness entered the means. Similarly, Jeremiah also speaks to raise up the despairing: "Behold, the time cometh that I will raise up a righteous ’growth’ for David, and then Judah shall be helped, and Israel shall dwell safely" (Jer 23:6f.). And Ezekiel says, "I will raise up unto my flock a singular shepherd … even my servant David …. I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be the prince among them … And I will make a covenant of peace with them" (Eze 34:23-25). Or also in another place, after speaking of the renewal of the people that transcends all faith: "My servant David shall be their king, and the shepherd of them all … And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them" (Eze 37:24, 26). I choose only a few passages out of many; for I only want to remind the readers that ever and ever the hope of all believers has been based solely on Christ. All the other prophets agree with this. Thus Hosea says: "The children of Judah and the children of Israel shall come in multitude, and shall cleave together unto one head …" (Hos 2:2). Later he puts it even more clearly: "After that the children of Israel will turn and seek the Lord their God and their king David …" (Hos 3:5). And Micah, speaking of the homecoming of the people, clearly puts it this way: "And their king will go before them, and the Lord in front" (Micah 2:13). This is exactly how Amos also writes to announce the renewal of the people: "At the same time I will raise up the broken down tabernacle of David, and will fence its gaps. and will raise up again that which is broken down …" (Amos 9:11); that is, I will raise up again the royal dignity of the house of David, which was, after all, the only banner of salvation – which has, after all, been fulfilled in Christ! Zechariah’s time was already closer to the revelation of Christ, and so he could already say more clearly: "Rejoice, you daughter of Zion, and you daughter of Jerusalem, rejoice; behold, your King is coming to you, a righteous one and a helper" (Zech 9:9). This corresponds to the Ps passage already mentioned, "The Lord is her strength; he is the strength that helps his anointed. Help, Lord …" (Ps 28,8f.), where salvation is extended from the head to the whole body.

II,6,4 According to God’s will, the Jews were to receive these prophecies in such a way that they directed their eyes straight to Christ when they desired deliverance. And even though they were shamefully out of line, the memory of the main doctrine could not be extinguished, namely that God, as he had promised David, would liberate the church by the hand of Christ and that the covenant of grace, into which God had received his elect, would in this way come to its rightful existence. Thus, when Jesus entered Jerusalem shortly before His death, the children sang: "Hosanna to the Son of David" (Mt 21:9). For even if the children sang it, it must have been generally known and praised, that the only pledge of God’s mercy was kept for the coming of the Savior! That is why Christ Himself also commands the disciples, in order to lead them to clear and perfect faith in God: "Believe in God – and believe in Me!" (John 14:1) Certainly, faith actually reaches the Father through Christ; but Christ wants to indicate that even if faith holds on to God, it must gradually come to naught if he does not step into the means and maintain it in the right steadfastness. God’s majesty is far too sublime for mortal men, who crawl like worms on the ground, to be able to penetrate it. I accept the general saying that faith adheres to God alone, but in such a way that it needs improvement, because Christ is not called the "image of the invisible God" for nothing (Col 1:15); we are reminded of this by this very praise of Christ: only when God meets us in Christ can we recognize him for our salvation. Although the scribes among the Jews had darkened the promises of the prophets about the Redeemer with false fiction, Christ nevertheless considered it certain and, as it were, acknowledged that in the general perdition there was no other remedy, nor any other way to the deliverance of the Church, than the appearance of the Mediator. What Paul teaches: "Christ is the end of the law" (Rom 10:4) was not known by the people, but it is clear from the law and the prophets how true and certain it is. But I do not talk about faith in detail here, because it is better to do that in another place. Only the reader should keep this in mind: The first step to the fear of God is to acknowledge God as our Father, who protects, directs, and sustains us, and finally gathers us to the eternal inheritance of his kingdom; but from this it becomes evident what we have already elaborated, namely: there is no salvific knowledge of God without Christ, and therefore, since the beginning of the world, he has been set before the eyes of all the elect, that they might look to him and put their trust in him. In this sense Irenaeus writes: the Father, who is infinite, became finite in the Son, because he adapted himself to our measure, so that the immensity of his glory would not completely consume our heart. This useful saying has not been sufficiently considered by the enthusiasts, and therefore they force it into their godless fantasy, according to which in Christ there is only a part of the Godhead, which flows down from the whole perfection of God. And Irenaeus did not want to say anything else than that God can only be understood in Christ. The word of John has always been true: "He who does not have the Son does not have the Father" (1Jn 2:23). For many people have boasted of worshipping the supreme Godhead or the Creator of heaven and earth, but because they lacked the mediator, they could not recognize God’s mercy properly and therefore could not come to the certainty that God was their Father. They did not have the head, namely Christ, and therefore the knowledge of God was empty and void with them; hence it is that they fell into gross and shameful superstition and thus brought their ignorance to light. So today the Turks proclaim with full cheeks that their God is the Creator of heaven and earth, and yet they set an idol in place of the true God, because they want to have nothing to do with Christ!

Chapter Seven

The Law was not given to keep the people of the Old Covenant to themselves, but to preserve the hope of salvation in Christ until His coming.

II,7,1 The law was added about four hundred years after the death of Abraham (allusion to Gal 3,17); but it did not come, as can be seen from the long series of testimonies we mentioned, to lead the chosen people away from Christ, but rather to keep their hearts in expectation until His coming, to kindle their desire always anew and to strengthen them in waiting, so that they would not go astray during the long delay! By "law" I understand not only the ten commandments, which form the guideline, how one is to live piously and justly, but the whole form of the God worship, as God established and taught it by Moses hand. Nor was Moses appointed as a lawgiver to abrogate the promise of salvation made to Abraham. Yea, we see how he continually reminded the Jews of that covenant of grace which was once made with their fathers, and of which they were heirs; thus he was sent, as it were, to renew that covenant. This was especially evident from the ceremonies. What could be more vile and sacrilegious than that men, in order to reconcile themselves to God, should offer Him the foul odor of the fat of their animals, that they should resort to the sprinkling of water, or even of blood, in order to wash away the filth of their souls? In short, the whole legal worship would be – if one considered it in itself and it did not contain shadows and pictures with which the truth actually corresponded – downright a ridiculousness! Therefore, not without a factual reason, in the speech of Stephen (Acts 7:44) and also in the Letter to the Hebrews (8:5), that passage is considered with such special attention, in which God commands Moses to fashion everything belonging to the "tabernacle" according to the archetype that had been shown to him on the mountain (Ex 25:40). If the Jews had not been presented with a spiritual goal to which they were to orientate themselves, they would have been just as much foolish in their worship as the Gentiles were in their foolish undertakings! Unfashionable people, who have never made a serious effort at true piety, can only hear with displeasure of so many different worship customs; and they not only wonder why God had afflicted the people of the Old Covenant with such a multitude of ceremonies, but they despise them and make fun of them as if they were childish games! This is understandable: they do not pay attention to the goal, without which the images given in the law must necessarily fall to judgment: they are void! But this archetype shows that God has not commanded sacrifices in order to give his worshippers something to do with earthly things, but in order to lift up their hearts. This can be clearly seen from God’s nature: it is spiritual, and therefore he is only pleased with spiritual worship. This is testified by so many words of the prophets, which reproach the Jews for their folly, because they think that any sacrifices have any value before God. Or did the prophets want to rob the law of its prestige? Not at all: they were rather its right interpreters and wanted to direct the eyes in this way on the actual sense and the crucial point of view from which the people strayed. Already from the grace offered to the Jews, it may be safely inferred that the law had not been without Christ. For Moses set before them as the purpose of their gracious acceptance precisely this, that they should be "a priestly kingdom" (Ex 19:6), and surely they could only achieve this if a stronger and more effective atonement came about than from the blood of animals! For what would be more senseless than that Adam’s children, who all come into the world in hereditary corruption as servants of sin, should be raised to royal dignity and thus become partakers of the glory of God – if such a glorious good did not come to them from a completely different source? How could the priestly dignity be bestowed on people who were repugnant to God in the filth of their vices – unless they had been consecrated in the holy head? Very finely, therefore, Peter reverses this passage in Moses to show how the fullness of grace, of which the Jews had received a foretaste under the Law, was made manifest in Christ: "You are the chosen generation, the royal priesthood" (1Pet 2:9). The reversal of the words ("priestly kingdom" – "royal priesthood") is to show that those to whom Christ has appeared through the Gospel have received more than their fathers, because they have all become partakers of the priestly and royal dignity, so that they may therefore appear freely before God’s face, trusting in their Mediator!

II,7,2 Here it is to be mentioned in passing that also the kingship, which was finally established in the lineage of David, was a part of the law and was decided under the office of Moses. Thus it results that Christ in the whole Levitical law as well as among the descendants of David was placed before the eyes of the Old People as in a double mirror. For without him, as I have already said, they could not have stood before God as kings or priests, since they were servants of sin and death, stained by their corruption. Paul himself testifies that this sentence is true when he says that the Jews were, as it were, kept under the supervision of a "disciplinarian" (Gal 3:24) until the "seed" to whom the promise applied had come. For since Christ was not yet more closely known to the men of the Old Covenant, they were still like children, who in their weakness could not yet bear the full tidings of heavenly things. But how they were led to Christ by means of the ceremonies has already been explained and can be seen even better from very many testimonies of the prophets. The people had to come before God every day with new sacrifices to reconcile Him – and yet Isaiah promises that all their transgressions would be atoned for with one sacrifice (Isa 53:5). Daniel also agrees with this promise (Dan 9,26f.). Thus the high priests of the tribe of Levi, who were appointed, went into the holy of holies; but of the one high priest it is once said that he was chosen by an oath of God to be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4). At that time the anointing was done externally, with oil – Daniel, however, prophesies on the basis of a face that the future anointing will look different! I do not want to enumerate more: the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews brings from the fourth to the eleventh chapter of his Epistle the completely developed and clear proof that the ceremonies were void and empty before one came to Christ. As far as the Ten Commandments are concerned, we must note here the corresponding statement of Paul. He says: "Christ is the end of the law, he who believes in Him is righteous" (Rom 10:4) and "The Lord is the Spirit" (2Cor 3,17), who "makes alive" the letter, which would be deadly in itself (2Cor 3,6). In the former passage he shows: the righteousness expressed in the commandments is taught in vain until it is bestowed upon us by Christ through gracious imputation and through the Spirit of regeneration. Therefore, he rightly calls Christ the "fulfillment" or even the "end" of the law; for it would not help us at all to know what God requires of us if Christ did not come to our aid while we are being worked to pieces and pressed to the ground under an unbearable yoke and depressing burden. Elsewhere Paul teaches that the law was given "for the sake of transgressions" (Gal 3:19), namely to convict men of their damnation and to make them humble. Since this is the true and only preparation for seeking Christ, the expressions Paul uses are perfectly consistent, despite their differences. But because he had to contend with perverse teachers who pretended that we earn righteousness by works of the law, he had at times, in order to counteract their error, to take the mere law strictly for himself, although it cannot otherwise be separated from the covenant which by God’s grace gives us adoption as children.

II,7,3 But now it is worthwhile to consider how, precisely because we are instructed in the moral law (lex moralis), we become only the more inexcusable, so that our own guilt-attachment drives us to seek forgiveness. If it is true that we are taught perfect justice in the law, it follows that only its complete fulfillment is perfect justice before God, by virtue of which man is considered and treated as just before the heavenly court. Thus Moses, after giving the law, unhesitatingly calls heaven and earth to witness that he has presented Israel with "life and death, good and evil" (Deut 30:19). Nor can it be denied that right obedience to the law can expect eternal blessedness as a reward, just as the Lord promised. But on the other hand, we have to see whether we somehow perform such obedience, on the merit of which the confidence in a reward could be based. For what shall it help us if we see that on the fulfillment of the law lies the reward of eternal life – if it is not also clear whether we can reach eternal life in this way! But at this point the weakness of the law shows itself – because in none of us is that fulfillment of the law found, and therefore we are excluded from the promises of life and exposed to the curse. I do not say here what actually happens, but what is necessary; for what the law teaches is far beyond man’s power – and so man can indeed see from a distance the promises attached to the law, but cannot draw any fruit from them. So there remains only this, that he may better recognize his own misery from the greatness of these promises, by considering that all hope of blessedness is cut off from him and death threatens him inevitably. And then, on the other side, there are the terrible threats that bind and ensnare not individuals of us, but all of us without salvation – they stand there and pursue us with relentless severity, so that in the law we have death right before our eyes!

II,7,4 If we therefore look to the law alone, we must inevitably despair, be brought to shame and despair: for it condemns and curses us all and keeps us far away from the blessedness which it promises to those who keep it rightly! "Isa the Lord, then," someone may say, "mocking us in this way? For what is this but mockery, to give us hope of blessedness, to invite and encourage us to it, to witness it to us as if it were prepared for us-when meanwhile the access to it is closed and inaccessible?" I answer, "Certainly the promises of the law, which are, after all, conditional, depend on perfect obedience to the law, which in fact is nowhere to be found. But nevertheless they are not given without intention. For once we have had the experience that they are without power and effect on us, unless God Himself, apart from all regard to works, accepts us out of pure goodness in grace, and if we have accepted this grace, which is offered to us in the Gospel, in faith – then these promises, together with the condition attached to them, do not remain ineffective. For then God grants us everything by free grace and proves his kindness also in that he does not reject our imperfect obedience, remits to us what is still lacking in fulfillment, and lets us share in the fruit of the promises of the law as if we ourselves had fulfilled the condition set. But this question must be dealt with more fully in the doctrine of justification by faith, and therefore we will not press it further for the present.

II,7,5 But we said: it is impossible for us to fulfill the law. This still needs to be further elucidated and at the same time affirmed in a few words. For it is generally considered to be a completely contradictory sentence, so that Jerome even without hesitation assigned it the "anathema" (cursing word). However, I do not want to dwell on Jerome’s opinion, but ask for the truth. I don’t want to make a long detour with the question, how many kinds of "possibilities" there are. I call "impossible" that which, according to God’s order and counsel, has never been able to be, nor ever will be. Even if we go back to the most distant past, we will never find a saint who - in this life of death! – in love to such a degree of perfection that he really loves God "with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind and with all his strength", yes, we will never find one who has not had to struggle with his desire! Who wants to contradict? I know, of course, what kind of saints foolish superstition wants to introduce to us – surely the angels in heaven are hardly equal to them in purity! But this is in contradiction with the Scriptures and experience. But I maintain further: also in the future no one will reach the goal of perfection, if he is not relieved of the burden of the body! For it clear testimonies of the scripture are available first. Thus Solomon says: "There is no man on earth righteous, that he sin not" (1Ki 8:46). And David confesses, "Before thee there is none living that is righteous" (Ps 143:2). Job confirms the same in very many places (e.g. Job 9:2; 25:4). Paul speaks most clearly: "The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh" (Gal 5,17). The proof that all who are under the law are subject to the curse is given by the fact that it is written: "Cursed be every one that continueth not in all things which are required by the book of the law to be done" (Gal 3,10; Deut 27,26). By this, of course, he implies, indeed he regards it as generally admitted, that no one can abide in it. But what is said in the Scriptures must be regarded as permanent and necessary. The Pelagians tormented Augustine with a similar quibble: God was wrong if he commanded more than the faithful could do by virtue of his grace. Augustine, in order to avoid this abuse, admitted to them that the Lord could certainly, if he wished, raise mortal man to the purity of the angels, but that he had never done it and would never do it, because he had said otherwise in the Scriptures. I do not deny this either; but I do add that one does not have the authority to speak improperly of God’s power in order thereby to oppose His truth. Therefore, it is spoken quite unambiguously when one says that impossible is that which, according to the testimony of Scripture, will not come to pass. But if the word itself is disputed, consider that the Lord answered his disciples who asked him who could be saved at all: "With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Mt 19,25f.). For the assertion that in this flesh we never show God the love that we owe him, Augustin brings a very well-founded proof: "Love follows knowledge, so that no one can love God perfectly who has not first fully known his goodness. But as long as we are wandering in the world, we look ’through a mirror and in a dark word’ – and therefore our love must also remain imperfect!" (At the end of the writing "Of the Spirit and the Letter" and also elsewhere often). Therefore, there should be no doubt that the fulfillment of the law is impossible for us in this flesh, as long as we look at the impotence of our nature. We will prove this elsewhere with the words of the apostle Paul (Rom 8,3).

II,7,6 But in order that all this may come more clearly into the light, let us go over in brief order the office and application of the law, which is called the "moral." It consists, as far as I can discern, in three pieces. The first application of the law is that it indicates to us God’s righteousness, that is, what is pleasing in the sight of God, and in this way reminds each individual of his unrighteousness, makes it a certainty to him, and finally convicts and condemns him. Thus man, in his blindness and in the intoxication of his self-love, must be brought to the realization and at the same time to the confession of his weakness and impurity; for if he is not most clearly convicted of his nothingness, he puffs himself up in mad confidence in his own power and can never be brought to feel the impotence of this power, since he estimates it according to his own discretion. But as soon as he compares his strength with the weight of the law, he finds sufficient cause to lay aside his pride. For no matter how high he may think of his strength, he notices how it soon gasps under such a load, then falters and slips, and finally sinks down and grows weary. When the law has thus exercised its teaching office on him, he puts away that presumption which blinded him before. In this way he can also be cured of the other infirmity with which, as we said, he has to struggle, namely, arrogance (superbia). As long as he is allowed to be his own judge, he takes hypocrisy for righteousness; he is satisfied with that and now rebels against God’s grace with who knows what self-made righteousness. But if he is compelled to test his life on the gold scale of the law, the delusion of dreamed-up righteousness disintegrates, and he sees how he is separated by an immeasurable distance from true holiness, and on the other hand is stained by innumerable vices from which he seemed pure before. For the evil desires are so deeply hidden in man, and so obscure, that they easily deceive his sight. So also the apostle says, not without reason, that he would not have known about lust if the law had not told him: Do not let yourself lust (Rom 7,7). For if the law did not bring lust out of its hiding place, it would destroy the poor man in secret before he noticed its deadly bullet.

II,7,7 So then the law is like a mirror, in which we are to see our powerlessness and from it our unrighteousness, in turn from these two our damnation, just as a mirror holds before us the spots and wrinkles of our bodily face. For he who is not able to walk the path of righteousness must necessarily get stuck in the mud of sin. But sin is always followed by damnation. Therefore, the greater the transgression of which the law accuses and convicts us, the more severe is the judgment of which it makes us appear guilty. Here also belongs the word of the apostle: "Through the law comes knowledge of sin" (Rom 3:20); because he describes in this passage only the first office of the law, insofar as it is shown in such sinners who are not yet born again. In addition, there are also passages like: "The law came in between so that sin would become more powerful" (Rom 5,20), or the remark that it is an "office of death" (2Cor 3:7), which "causes wrath" (Rom 4:15) and "kills". There is no doubt that the more clearly the conscience knows about the injustice, the greater it becomes: for now the conscious resistance against the Lawgiver is added to the transgression. Thus the law finally arouses God’s wrath to the ruin of the sinner, for in itself it can do nothing but accuse, condemn, and destroy. It goes, as Augustine writes: "In the absence of the grace of the Holy Spirit, the law exists only to accuse and to kill" (Of Chastisement and Grace 1:2). When this is said, it does not harm the law, nor does it lose any of its high dignity. Indeed, if our will were capable and suited to obey it completely, its knowledge alone would be fully sufficient for salvation; but since our carnal, depraved nature is at enmity and open strife with God’s spiritual law, and is not improved even by its discipline, the law can only become a cause of sin and death, although – if it had found suitable hearers – it is nevertheless given for salvation (compare Ambrose, Of Jacob and the Blessed Life, 1). For we are all convicted as transgressors of the law: the more clearly the law presents God’s righteousness to us, the more it exposes our own unrighteousness; and the more surely it promises life and blessedness as a reward to the righteous, the more surely it also makes the ruin of the unrighteous! These sayings, then, are not in the least detrimental to the reputation of the law; indeed, they serve excellently to praise and exalt God’s good deeds. For it is clear from them that our own wickedness and depravity prevent us from enjoying the blessedness of life that is publicly promised to us in the law! The grace of God, which comes to our aid without the cooperation of the law, becomes all the more glorious to us, the more endearing to us God’s mercy, which extends grace to us; from it we learn that he never tires of doing us good and of showering us anew with his grace every day.

II,7,8 Now when in the testimony of the law we are assured of all our unrighteousness and condemnation, this – if we learn to apply it rightly – is not done so that we sink into despair and plunge comfortlessly into ruin. Certainly, the wicked are frightened in this way, but this happens because of their inner hardening. There must be a different educational purpose for the children of God. We are certainly condemned by the judgment of the law, according to the testimony of the apostle, "that every mouth may be stopped, and that all the world may be guilty unto God" (Rom 3:19). But the same apostle teaches in another place: "God has shut up all under unbelief" – not that he should condemn or destroy all, but – "that he might have mercy on all!" (Rom 11:32) – namely, that they all let go of the foolish opinion of their own strength and realize that they stand and endure by God’s hand alone – that they take refuge naked and naked in His mercy, lean on it alone, take refuge in it completely, claim it alone as righteousness and merit for themselves, since it is offered in Christ to all who desire it in right faith and look for it in waiting. In the precepts of the law, God alone appears as the retributor for perfect righteousness, of which we all lack – and on the other hand, he appears as the severe judge for all offenses. But in Christ, His face is full of grace and kindness, shining upon wretched and unworthy sinners!

II,7,9 Augustine often describes why the law works so that we call upon God for help and grace. Thus he writes to Hilarius: "The law enjoins, so that we may try to do what is commanded, and in our weakness we may grow weary under the law, and then learn to call upon the help of grace" (Letter 157). Further, he writes to Asellicus, "The benefit of the law is that it convicts man of his weakness and impels him to invoke as a remedy the grace that is in Christ" (Letter 196). Similarly, to the Roman Innocentius, "The law commands – and grace extends the power to work!" (Letter 177). Or to Valentinus: "God commands what we are not able to do, so that we may know what we should ask of him" (Of Chastisement and Grace – actually "Of Grace and Free Will," 16). Or, "The law is given to make you guilty; if you are guilty, you should fear, but in your fear ask forgiveness – and lose all confidence in your own strength" (On Ps 70). Again, "The law is given to make the great small, to show you that of yourself you have not the strength for righteousness, so that powerless, unworthy and poor you take your refuge in grace." He then addresses God Himself, "Let it be done, Lord, so do it, merciful Lord: command what cannot be fulfilled, yes, command what can be fulfilled only by your grace, so that when men cannot fulfill it in their own strength, every mouth may be stopped and no one may appear great to himself. So let all become very small, and let all the world be guilty before God!" (On Ps 118, Sermon 27). But it is actually wrong for me to list so many testimonies, when the pious (sanctus!) man (Augustin) wrote a special book about these things, to which he gave the title "Of the Spirit and the Letter". In this booklet, however, he does not make the second application of the law sufficiently clear, because he perhaps thought it dependent on this first one, or did not understand it correctly, or did not have the words to present his otherwise visible right understanding clearly and brightly. Meanwhile, the law performs this its first office also in the ungodly. They do not come so far as the children of God, that they humble their flesh, are born again in the inner man and blossom anew, but fall into deep despair at the first horror; but the justice of the divine judgment makes itself known in the fact that their conscience also gets into such deep agitation. They always want to seek an evasion against God’s judgment - but even now, when the judgment itself is not yet visible, they are terrified by the testimony of the law and their own conscience and prove in themselves what they have deserved!

II,7,10 The second function of the law is that people who are only forced to care about justice and righteousness, when hearing the harsh threats in it, are finally at least kept in check by the fear of punishment. This happens, however, not because their hearts would be moved or touched inwardly, but because a rein is put on them, as it were, so that they hold back their hand from the execution of the outward work and shut up within themselves their wickedness, which they would otherwise wantonly let break loose. This certainly does not make them better, nor more righteous before God. For they dare not, out of fear and shame, carry out what they have thought of in their hearts, or give free rein to their wild desires – but their hearts are not ready to fear God and obey him; indeed, the more they hold back, the more fiercely they burn, glow, boil inside, would be ready to do anything and proceed to any deed, if the terror of the law did not hold them back. But not only this: they also hate the law itself most vehemently, curse God, the lawgiver, and would like to destroy him if they could – because they cannot bear that he demands of us to do what is right and that he repays the despisers of his majesty. All those who are not yet born again, admittedly some more hidden, others more open, are so minded that they do not come to make an effort for the law in voluntary obedience, but against their will and resistance solely through the superiority of fear. And yet this forced and extorted justice is necessary for the preservation of the public community of men; provision is made here for its peace by preventing everything from getting mixed up in the tumult; for this would happen if everyone were allowed to do what he wanted. However, this education is also beneficial for the children of God as long as they lack the spirit of sanctification before their calling and are comfortable in the folly of their flesh. For as long as they are preserved from the greatest levity by the fear of divine retribution, they are indeed still untamed in heart and therefore make very little progress at first, but they nevertheless become accustomed, so to speak, to bearing the yoke of righteousness, so that therefore, when they are called, discipline is not something unknown to them and they do not face it ignorantly as newcomers. The apostle seems to think of this office of the law when he says that the law is not given to the righteous, "but to the unrighteous and disobedient, to the ungodly and sinners, to the unholy and unspiritual, to murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, to manslayers, fornicators, violators of children, to thieves of men, liars, perjurers, and so on, which is contrary to sound doctrine" (1Tim 1:9f.). With this he shows that it is meant to restrain the wild and otherwise immoderately erupting desires of the flesh.

II,7,11 To the two offices of the law (described so far) Paul’s sentence can be applied, that the law was for the Jews "a disciplinarian for Christ" (Gal 3,24). For there are two kinds of people whom it leads to Christ through its discipline. Of men of the first kind we have first spoken: they are overflowing with confidence in their own power or righteousness, and cannot receive Christ’s grace unless they are first brought to naught. Thus, then, the law brings them to the realization of their misery and thereby to humility, and thus they are made ready to ask for what they did not lack at all according to their previous self-judgment. The second kind of people need a bridle to restrain them, so that they do not let the lust of their flesh take the reins and thus completely depart from all striving for righteousness. For where the spirit of God does not yet reign, desires sometimes burst forth so violently that the soul subject to them is in danger of sinking into forgetfulness and contempt of God – and this would indeed happen if the Lord did not counteract it with this remedy. If, therefore, he does not immediately cause those whom he has ordained to be heirs of his kingdom to come to the new birth, he nevertheless preserves them until the time of his gracious visitation by the ministry of the law under the fear-which, though not so chastening and pure as it ought to be in his children, yet helps to bring them up to the right fear of God according to the measure of their understanding. There is so much evidence of this that no examples are needed. For all who have lived for a time without the knowledge of God confess that they were kept in a kind of godliness and obedience by the bridle of the law, until then, being born again by the Spirit, they began to love God from the heart.

II,7,12 The third application of the law is now the most important and relates more closely to its proper purpose: it is done to believers in whose hearts God’s Spirit has already come to work and rule. To be sure, the law has been written, even chiseled, into their hearts by God’s finger; that is, through the leading of the Spirit they are inwardly so minded and willing that they would gladly obey God. But still they have a double benefit from the law. For it is (1.) for them the best instrument, by which they learn better from day to day what is the will of the Lord, which they desire, and by which they are also to be strengthened in such knowledge. No matter how much a servant strives with all his heart to prove himself right with his master, he still needs to study more closely and pay attention to the character of his master, to whom he wants to be rightly conformed. So it is also with the faithful, from this necessity none of us can free himself; for no one has already advanced so far in wisdom that he could not, by the daily educational work of the law, make new progress toward the purer knowledge of the will of God. But we need not only instruction, but also (2.) exhortation; and the servant of God will also derive the benefit from the law, that by its frequent consideration he may be impelled to obedience, strengthened in it, and drawn away from the slippery way of sin and disobedience. The saints are in great need of such impetus; for though they may strive after the righteousness of God according to the Spirit with even such zeal, yet the indolence of the flesh still burdens them, so that they do not go their way with the requisite joyful readiness! Thus, for the flesh, the law is like a scourge that drives it to work like a lazy and slow donkey, yes, also for the spiritual man, who is not yet free from the burden of the flesh, it is always a thorn that does not allow him to rest. Surely David was thinking of this (third) application of the law when he wrote: "The law of the Lord is perfect, and restoreth the soul; … the commands of the Lord are right, and gladden the heart; the commandments of the Lord are sound, and enlighten the eyes … (Ps 19:8f.). Or also: "Your word is a lamp to my foot and a light to my path" (Ps 119,105) and countless other words in this whole (119th) Psalm. These words do not contradict those of Paul. For they do not speak of the application of the law to the born-again, but of the question of what the law could help man in and of itself. Here, on the other hand, the prophet sings of how many blessings the Lord bestows on us when he educates people to whom he has inwardly imparted the readiness for obedience by allowing them to read his law; and in doing so he does not only remember the commandments, but also the promise of grace added to them, which alone can make bitter things sweet. For what is less lovable than the law, when it merely terrifies the heart with demands and threats and afflicts it with fear? Above all, David shows that he has come to know in the law the mediator without whom no joy and no refreshment can arise.

II,7,13 Some inexperienced people do not know this difference, and therefore they grimly reject the whole law and abandon both tables; because in their opinion it is not compatible with the nature of a Christian to adhere to a doctrine that nevertheless carries the "ministry of death" in itself (allusion to 2Cor 3,7). But such an ungodly opinion should be far from our hearts; for Moses himself teaches very clearly that while the law can produce nothing but death in sinners, it must have a special and more glorious application in the saints. Thus, immediately before his death, he commanded the people, "Take to heart all the words which I testify unto you this day, that ye command them unto your children, and teach them to keep and do all the words of this law: for it is not a vain word unto you, but it is your life" (Deut 32:46f.). If really undeniably in the law a perfect archetype of justice comes before us, then we necessarily have either no guideline at all for a right, just life – or else it is wrong to depart from this law. For there are not several such standards, but only one, which is permanently and unchangeably in force. Therefore, when David shows how the life of the righteous consists in constant contemplation of the law (Ps 1:2), we are not to refer this to a particular age, for this is very proper at all times until the end of the world! Therefore, we should not turn away from the instruction of the law or flee from it, for example, on the grounds that it commands us a much more perfect holiness than we are ever able to achieve as long as we carry around the prison of our flesh. For it does not work on us like a hard driver who is only satisfied when the full measure is reached, but it shows us, with all exhortation to perfection, the goal to which all the time of our life is useful to run and of our office. If we do not desist in this run, it is well. For this whole life is a race on the battlefield; when we have completed this race, the Lord will grant us to reach that goal to which we now still direct our thoughts and aspirations from afar!

II,7,14 Now the law has the power to admonish the faithful – not to bind their conscience with condemnation, but to banish sloth in diligent perseverance and to remind them of their imperfection. Therefore, in order to show that we are freed from that condemnation by the law, many now claim that the law – I am still speaking of the moral law! – has been abolished for believers, not because it does not also command them what is right, but only because it no longer confronts them as it did before, i.e., no longer terrifies and confuses their consciences, condemns and destroys them. Paul also teaches the abolition of the law quite clearly. The Lord Himself must have proclaimed it: this is shown by the fact that He would not have opposed the opinion that He would abolish the law (Mt 5,17) if it had not existed among the Jews. But this opinion (of the Jews) could not have arisen by itself, without any appearance, and therefore one must assume that it came from a wrong interpretation of his teaching – as almost all errors have their cause in the truth! But so that we do not bump into the same stone, let us carefully distinguish what has been done away with in the law and what is still valid. The Lord testifies: "I have not come to abolish the law … but to fulfill it", and "Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter … of the law, until it all comes to pass." (Mt 5,17f.). Thus he clearly states that by his coming nothing should be taken away from the observation of the law. And this with full right: for he came rather to ward off the transgression! Thus the teaching of the law through Christ remains unharmed, which is to prepare us with teaching, admonishing, rebuking, chastening for all good works and to make us skillful.

II,7,15 But what Paul says about the curse of the law obviously does not refer to its teaching authority, but only to its power to bind consciences. For the law does not teach alone: it demands and commands imperiously. If the demanded is not fulfilled, even if it is only missed in some part, it immediately passes the sentence of condemnation on the transgressor. That is why the apostle says: "Those who do the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things … that he may do them" (Gal 3:10; Deut 27:26). But according to his words, all who do not base their righteousness on the forgiveness of sins, by which we are taken from the strictness of the law, are under the law. Therefore, according to his teaching, we must be delivered from the fetters of the law if we do not want to perish miserably in them. But what are these fetters? Obviously the hard and hostile demands, which leave nothing to be desired from the perfect claim and leave no transgression unpunished. So that Christ bought us free from this curse, he became a curse for us. For it is written: "Cursed is everyone who hangs on the wood" (Gal 3:13; Deut 21:23). In the following chapter the apostle testifies that Christ was "put under the law" "so that he might redeem those who are under the law" (Gal 4:4f.) – but he says this in the same sense (as above), and therefore he immediately adds: "that we might receive the adoption" (ibid.). What does this mean? Surely this: that we would not always remain in such bondage, which always kept our conscience in fear of death. Nevertheless, it is still immovably true that nothing of the law’s prestige has departed, so that it must always be accepted by us with the same reverence and the same obedience.

II,7,16 But it is different with the ceremonies: they have not been abolished according to their meaning, but only according to their execution. But the fact that Christ has put an end to them by his coming does not take anything away from their holiness, but only praises and glorifies them all the more! For as they would once have been a vain show to the old covenant people, if the power of Christ’s death and resurrection had not been represented in them – so now, if they had not ceased, it would no longer be apparent at all why they were actually instituted. Thus Paul also wants to prove that their observation would not only be superfluous for us, but also harmful, and says of them that they were "the shadow of that which was to come; but the body itself is in Christ" (Col 2:17). We see, therefore, that by their abolition the truth shines forth better than if they still represented Christ from a distance and as hidden behind a curtain, who nevertheless appeared publicly! At the death of Christ, the curtain in the temple was torn in two (Mt 27,51); for the living and clear image of the heavenly goods had already come to light, which before, in the ceremonies, was only there in an indistinct shadow image, as the author of the letter to the Hebrews says (Hebr 10:1). Here also belongs Christ’s word that the law and the prophets were there until John, but since then they began to preach the gospel (Lk 16,16). This does not mean that the Fathers lacked the preaching that carries the hope of salvation and eternal life, but they saw only from a distance and under shadowy images what we see today shining in full light. The reason why the church had to progress from these beginnings is shown by John the Baptist: "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). For although in the old sacrifices the atonement was truly announced, and although the ark of the covenant was a sure pledge of God’s paternal bounty, yet all this would have been merely shadowy if it had not been founded in Christ’s grace, which is really a firm, eternal foundation. This, then, remains firm: Though the legal forms of worship have ceased, yet from their very end it is evident how important they were before the coming of Christ, who abolished their application, but sealed their power and effect by his death.

II,7,17 A little more difficult is the following proof of Paul: "And he hath quickened you with him, when ye were dead in sins, and in your uncircumcised flesh; and hath forgiven us all our sins, and hath blotted out the handwriting that was against us, which was made by statutes, and was contrary unto us; and hath put it out of the way, and nailed it to the cross…" (Col 2:13, 14). Here Paul seems to extend the abolition of the law so far that we would have nothing at all to do with its precepts. For it is erroneous for some to refer the passage simply to the moral law, though they declare it to be its inexorable severity rather than its teaching itself abolished. Others consider this saying of Paul more carefully, and come to the conclusion that the passage actually refers to the ceremonial law; they also show that the expression "statutes" in Paul often means the ceremonial law. For Paul says to the Ephesians, "For he is our peace, who hath made the two one …. by taking away … the law which was set in statutes, that he might make of two one new man in himself…" (Eph 2:14, 15). In this passage he undoubtedly speaks of the ceremonies: for he calls them a partition that separated Jews from Gentiles. Therefore, in my opinion, the advocates of the former view of the passage are justly rebuked by those of the latter; but even these do not seem to me to explain well the apostle’s intention. For it is by no means proper to declare these two passages to be entirely the same. Paul wished to convince the Ephesians of their admission into the fellowship of the people of Israel, and therefore he instructs them that the hindrance which once kept them out was now done away. That obstacle was the ceremonies. The practice of ablutions and sacrifices, by which the Jews were sanctified to the Lord, set them apart from the Gentiles. But who does not notice that in the Epistle to the Colossians a still deeper mystery is touched upon? For there the controversy is about the observance of the law of Moses, to which the false apostles tried to lead Christianity; and as Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians takes this question into greater depth and traces it, as it were, to its source, so it happens here also. If one wants to understand under the customs merely a compulsion to their execution, how then can one speak of a "handwriting" that is "against us"? And how, a fortiori, should almost our entire salvation be given by the fact that it would be set aside? The thing itself testifies loud enough that it must be about something deeper here. But I believe to have understood the right sense of Paul’s words, if one only admits to me the truth of what Augustin has written very correctly, even what he draws from clear words of the apostle himself: in the Jewish ceremonies it had been more about a confession of sins than about their redemption (Hebr 7.9.10). What did the Jews do with their sacrifices other than to confess that they were guilty of death by offering the sacrificial animals in their place? What did their purifications testify other than just their impurity? Thus the "signature" of their guilt and uncleanness was renewed each time; but this confession did not offer deliverance. For this reason, the apostle writes that only through the death of Christ was redemption from the transgressions that remained under the Old Covenant (Hebr 9:15). Paul rightly calls the ceremonies "a handwriting" that was "contrary to the worshippers of the law," for by them they publicly attested to their damnation and uncleanness. Certainly, this does not speak against the fact that the ancients also shared in the same grace with us. But they came to this in Christ, not through the ceremonies, which Paul precisely distinguishes from Christ at this point, since they – if they were now allowed to be practiced again – obscured Christ’s glory. So the ceremonies, in so far as they are considered in and of themselves, are very well and appropriately called "handwriting," which was opposed to the salvation of men; for they were, after all, solemn acts of evidence (solennia instrumenta), which were to testify to their indebtedness. To these ceremonies the false apostles wanted to enslave the Christian church again, and so Paul, after having presented their meaning once more, reminds the Colossians, not without reason, where they would have to end up if they let this yoke be put on their necks again! For in this way they would be robbed of the gift of Christ’s grace: the one-time consummation of the eternal atonement has done away with the daily ceremonies, which after all were only good for publicly testifying to sin, but had no power to erase it.

Chapter Eight

Interpretation of the moral law (the Ten Commandments).

II,8,1 Here, I think, it will be appropriate to insert the Ten Commandments with a short interpretation. From this it will become clearer, firstly, that – as I already indicated – the worship of God, which he himself once prescribed, is still in force today. Secondly, it will also confirm the other main point, according to which the Jews not only learned from the law how right piety should be, but also, finding themselves unfit for fulfillment, were compelled by the terror of God’s judgment to allow themselves to be drawn to the Mediator against their will. Further: when I explained what all belongs to the true knowledge of God, I also taught that God in his greatness cannot be grasped by us at all without his majesty immediately confronting us and forcing us into his service. And in our self-knowledge it is, according to my conviction, the most important thing that we learn the right humility and that right self-abasement without all confidence in our own power, free of all confidence in our own righteousness, on the other hand broken, crushed by the consciousness of our poverty. The Lord wants to create both with his law. For there, first, he assigns to himself all the power of command to which he is entitled, and calls upon us to show reverence for his divine majesty, and also commands us how this reverence is to be shown. And secondly, he proclaims the rule of his justice, the just demand of which we always resist according to our nature, which is evil and wrong, and the perfection of which our faculty, which is weak and completely incapable of good, does not reach from afar; thus he convicts us of our impotence and injustice. Precisely what we are to learn from the two tables of the law is, so to speak, told to us by that inner law which, according to our account above, is written in the heart of all men and, so to speak, imprinted upon it. For our conscience does not always let us sleep without feeling, but it is a witness and reminder within us of what we owe to God, it holds before us the difference between good and evil and accuses us when we deviate from the path. Man, however, is enveloped in such a darkness of error that, by virtue of this natural law, he has little idea of the worship that is pleasing to God, but in any case remains far removed from its true meaning. At the same time, however, man is so puffed up by his presumption and arrogance, so blinded in his self-love, that he cannot easily look at himself properly or go into himself to learn obedience and self-denial and openly confess his misery. Therefore the Lord – and this was necessary in view of our weak-mindedness as well as our stubbornness! – This testifies to us more precisely what remained too dark in the natural law, and it also drives away laziness and fills heart and mind with fresher movement!

II,8,2 Now we can also see immediately what we are to learn from the law. Just this: God is our creator and therefore he also has father and master rights over us. Therefore glory, reverence, love and fear are due to Him from us. So we are not our own masters, we should not follow our desires wherever they lead us, but depend solely on his direction and remain in what is pleasing to him. He loves righteousness and holiness from the heart and hates unrighteousness; therefore, if we do not want to fall away from our Creator in sacrilegious ingratitude, we should direct our thoughts and efforts to righteousness all our lives. For it is only by placing His will above our own that we show Him due reverence, and therefore there is only one right way to worship God, namely to strive for justice, holiness and purity. We must not make the excuse that we lack the ability to do this, and that we are like insolvent debtors who are unable to pay. For God’s honor cannot be measured according to our ability – we may be who we want to be, but he remains the same: a friend of righteousness and an enemy of unrighteousness! Whatever he demands of us – for he can only demand what is right! The duty to obey lies on us by virtue of our natural bondage; if we are unable to do something, it is our own lack. If we are held in bondage by our own covetousness, in which sin reigns supreme, so that we cannot freely obey our Father, we cannot excuse ourselves with the necessity that weighs upon us – for the evil lies within us and is imputable to us.

II,8,3 If we have now advanced to this knowledge through the law, we must now also come to ourselves again under its guidance; and from this two things follow for us. First, when we compare the righteousness required by the law with our own lives, we realize that we are far from conforming to God’s will, and that we are therefore unworthy to be counted among His creatures, let alone His children. And secondly, when we consider our powers, we find that they are not too weak, but utterly incapable of fulfilling the law. From such insight follows necessarily the distrust of one’s own strength, at the same time also inner fear and anxiety. For the conscience cannot bear the burden of injustice without soon seeing itself brought before God’s judgment. But this is not possible without the fear of death coming upon us. In the same way, however, the conscience is convicted by the evidence of our powerlessness and thus necessarily falls into complete despair of its own powers. Each of these two experiences (fear of death and despair of one’s own strength) now brings us to humility and self-rejection, – and so man finally comes, under the feeling of eternal death, which he rightly faces for the sake of his injustice, to this after all, to take refuge in the mercy of God as the only harbor of salvation, to feel that it is not in his power to satisfy the demand of the law, to despair of himself, and then to ask for a help which he must implore and expect from elsewhere!

II,8,4 But the Lord is not satisfied with giving His justice the reverence it deserves; He also wants to put the love of justice and at the same time the hatred of unrighteousness into our hearts and has added promises and threats to the law for this purpose. Our inner eye is so darkened that it is no longer touched by the beauty of goodness; and therefore the Father, in his great goodness and mercy, has wanted to provoke us by the sweetness of the rewards to love him and to desire him. He thus proclaims that right doing has to expect rewards from him and that no one who follows his commandments shall have labored in vain. On the other hand, he also lets it be known that injustice is abominable to him and will not go unpunished; indeed, he himself will act as a severe retributor for contempt of his majesty. And in order not to omit any encouragement, he promises those who keep his commandments blessings in temporal life as well as eternal bliss, but to the transgressors he also threatens present misery and also the punishment of eternal death. The promise: "Whoever does this will live by it" (Lev 18,5) corresponds to the threat: "Whichever soul sins shall die" (Eze 18,4.20), and these two sayings undoubtedly refer to the future and everlasting immortality, respectively to the future and never ending death! Of course, wherever God’s benevolence or God’s wrath is mentioned, at the same time eternal life or eternal death is included. But as far as the present, temporal blessings and punishments are concerned, the law gives us a long enumeration (Lev 26:3-39; Deut 28:1-68). Thus in the punishments God’s infinite holiness proves itself, which is not able to bear injustice, but in the promises His highest love of justice, which does not lack reward, and even more His wondrous goodness. For we are pledged to his majesty with all that we have, and he has full right to reclaim as a debt everything that he demands from us – but the repayment of a debt is not worth any reward! So he abandons his own right when he offers reward to our obedience, although this is not voluntary at all – as if we were not obliged to do it anyway! But what use the promises and threats themselves are to us has already been said in part, and in part it will become clearer in its place. For the time being, it is enough for us to note and consider that in the promises of the law righteousness is especially praised, so that we may the better realize how much obedience pleases God. Furthermore, let us not forget that the punishments are meant to make unrighteousness seem all the more curse-worthy, so that the sinner may not be beguiled by the flattery of vice into forgetting the judgment of the Lawgiver prepared for him!

III,8,5 By presenting us with the rule of perfect righteousness, the Lord always traces it back to His will in all things and thereby testifies that nothing is more pleasing to Him than obedience. This must be taken into account all the more carefully, since the unrighteousness of man’s spirit is always thinking up all kinds of worship in order to earn something before God. This impious piety, which is inherent in the human spirit, has manifested itself at all times, and it still does today: for it is evident that people always have a very special tendency to devise their own way of doing justice apart from God’s Word. That is why the commandments of the law find little room in the so-called "good works", because this enormous swarm of human "commandments" takes up all the space! Moses, however, wanted to prevent just this wantonness; and therefore he addresses the people after the proclamation of the law: "Watch and listen to all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, because you have done what is right and pleasing in the sight of the Lord your God" (Deut 12:28). And, "All that I command you, that you shall keep … You shall neither add to it nor subtract from it" (Deut 13:1). Earlier he had said that this was the wisdom and understanding of the people before all nations, that they had received from the Lord the judgments, rights and ceremonies; so he immediately adds: "Only beware and keep your soul well, lest you forget the stories your eyes have seen, and lest they come out of your heart…" (Deut 4:9). God foresaw that the Israelites would not be satisfied with receiving the law, and that if they were not resisted, they would always invent new ways of serving God, and therefore he proclaimed to them: Here is perfect righteousness decreed! This must necessarily have been a very strong obstacle – and yet they did not let themselves be dissuaded from this so strictly forbidden presumption! And we? For us, too, this word is binding; for the fact that the Lord alone gives his law the right to teach us perfect righteousness is eternally valid! We, however, are not satisfied with it and make a superstitious effort to invent and forge ever new good works! The best means to cure this infirmity will be to always remember: God gave us the law to teach us perfect righteousness; no other righteousness is required of us here than that we should act according to the precept of God’s will, and therefore it is in vain to devise new kinds of works in order to gain merit before God; for he wants to be honored according to his right only through obedience. Yes, a zeal for good works that goes beyond God’s law is even an intolerable desecration of divine true justice. It is very right when Augustin calls obedience to God sometimes the mother and guardian of all virtues, sometimes also their root (Vom Gottesstaat, XIV,12 u.a.).

II,8,6 But if the law of the Lord is explained to us, then what I have explained above about the office and the application of the law will also be confirmed rightly and with better effect. But before we proceed to interpret the law in its individual parts, we must first say something that is necessary for its general understanding. First of all, it must be stated that the law does not merely educate our human life to an outward respectability, but to an inner, spiritual righteousness. No one can deny this, but very few pay due attention to it. This happens because they do not fix their eyes on the Lawgiver, according to whose nature and spirit the nature of the law is also to be judged. If a king forbids fornication, murder or theft, and now someone merely has in his heart the desire to fornicate, murder or steal, but has not actually carried out any of these things, he will certainly not suffer any punishment. For the measures of the earthly legislator are aimed only at the preservation of the external civil order (civilitas), and therefore his ordinances are transgressed only by real misdeeds. But God’s eye does not miss anything, and he does not stop at outward appearances, but looks at real purity of heart; so when he forbids fornication, murder and theft, he also forbids covetousness, anger, hatred, the desire for other people’s goods, evil intentions and all such things! For he is a spiritual lawgiver, and therefore his word applies to the soul as well as to the body. For already anger and hatred is a murder of the soul, evil desire and greed is already theft, evil lust already fornication! Now someone will object: The human laws have nevertheless also on intention and will reference and not only on the accidental result. I admit that, but it is valid only, as far as these become visible externally! They take into consideration in what kind of intention this or that deed has been done, but they do not investigate the most secret thoughts! Therefore they are satisfied if someone merely keeps his hand away from the transgression. But since the celestial law is given to our souls, its right observance includes first of all the inner discipline. The ordinary man, on the other hand, even if he bravely denies that he is a despiser of the law, puts his eyes, feet, hands and all parts of his body, as it were, at the service of observing the law – only his heart remains far from obedience and thinks that it has already done enough if it quite conceals from men what it does in the sight of God. Such people hear: Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal – and they also do not stretch the sword to murder, keep their body pure from dealing with prostitutes, leave their hand from other people’s property. So far everything is right and good. But in their hearts they are full of murderous thoughts, they glow with lust, look at all people’s possessions with crooked eyes and devour them with covetousness! They lack precisely that which is the main thing in the law. For where can this great lack of understanding come from other than from the fact that they ignore the Lawgiver and arrange their justice more according to their own nature? Paul resists this delusion and claims: "The law is spiritual" (Rom 7,14). That is, it demands not only obedience of soul, mind and will, but angelic purity, freed from all stains of the flesh, seeking after nothing but that which is spiritual.

II,8,7 When we declare this to be the intention of the law, we are not putting forward a new interpretation on our own, but following the best interpreter of the law: Christ! The Pharisees had taught the people the wrong opinion that the law was fulfilled by the one who had not done anything against the law. Against this pernicious error, Christ went and proclaimed: "Whoever lusts after a woman has already committed adultery with her," and also testified: "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer. Yes, he declares him guilty of judgment who gives room to anger in his heart, and guilty of counsel who gives a sign by murmuring and grumbling that he is offended, and even guilty of hellish fire who openly lets out his anger with blasphemous words and scolding (Mt 5:21 s.28.43 ss.). People who have not understood this have made of Christ a second Moses, who would have given the "Gospel Law", which would have filled the lack of the Mosaic Law. This is the origin of the well-known sentence about the perfection of the "Gospel Law", which rises far above the old law – a very dangerous sentence in many respects! For from the Law of Moses itself will be seen, in our subsequent determination of its main content, what an unworthy opprobrium that sentence brings upon it. It at least brings the holiness of the fathers under the suspicion of hypocrisy and at the same time leads us away from that only and lasting guideline of justice. However, this error is easily rejected: Christ was thought to add to the law, when in fact he only restored it to its original purity, freeing and cleansing it from the lying work and leaven of the Pharisees.

II,8,8 Secondly, let us note that there is always more in the commandments and prohibitions than is expressed in words; but in this we must be moderate and not treat the law as a lesbian rule, on the basis of which one could interpret the Scriptures according to his arbitrariness and make anything out of anything. Some people, in their presumption, go so unrestrainedly beyond the content that now the prestige of the law is completely lost by some and others despair of ever being able to comprehend it. One must therefore try, as far as possible, to find a way that leads us in a straight and steady course to the knowledge of God’s will. In my opinion, it must be examined to what extent the explanation may go beyond the words, so that obviously not the divine law receives an appendix of human remarks, but the pure and clear sense of the legislator himself is faithfully reproduced. Certainly, in almost all the commandments there are expressions which obviously include many other things (manifestae sunt synekdochae), so that it would be ridiculous if someone wanted to squeeze the meaning of the law into the narrow space of words. That one may therefore go beyond the words in a reasonable interpretation of the law is obvious; but how far this is possible remains obscure unless some measure and goal are set. In my opinion, however, the best way to do this is to consider the cause and purpose of the commandment; for every commandment, then, we must consider what it is given to us for. As an example: Every commandment is either a commandment or a prohibition. Now, the true content in each case becomes immediately apparent when we turn our attention to the cause or the intention. Thus, for example, the intention of the fifth commandment is: honor shall be given to those to whom God has attached it. The essential content (summa) of this commandment, then, is this: it is right and pleasing to God that we honor those to whom he has somehow bestowed a special dignity; if we show them contempt or disobedience, it is an abomination to the Lord. The intent of the first commandment is: God alone is to be honored. Therefore, the main content of this commandment will be: True piety, that is, reverence for His divine majesty is after God’s heart; impiety is an abomination to Him. Thus, with every commandment, we must first see what it is actually about, then seek out the intention – until we find what pleases or displeases him here according to the lawgiver’s proclamation. In the end we have to conclude the opposite, like this: If this or that pleases God, then the opposite displeases him, if this or that displeases him, then the opposite pleases him, if he commands one thing, then he forbids the opposite, if he forbids this, then he decrees the opposite!

II,8,9 What is now merely touched upon somewhat vaguely, will become perfectly clear from practice when the commandments themselves are explained. Therefore, in general, the mere brief mention is sufficient; only the last sentence, which otherwise either would not be understood at all or even then might seem quite contradictory in the beginning, must still be briefly proved and affirmed. The sentence: If good is commanded, then the opposite, namely evil, is forbidden – needs no proof; its correctness is admitted by everyone. Also that with the prohibition of evil the opposite is commanded as duty, one will generally accept without contradiction. That virtues are praised by condemning their opposite as vice is common opinion. But we require something more than these sayings commonly signify. For by virtue, which is opposed to vice, is commonly understood merely the abstention from the vice in question; but in my opinion by it is to be understood more: namely, the actual performance of the obligatory task (opposed to vice)! Thus the common sense understands under the demand of the commandment: "Thou shalt not kill" only this, that one has to abstain from every outrage and also the desire for it. But I think that it also means that we should preserve our neighbor’s life with all means at our disposal. This should not be said without justification. For God forbids us to injure our brother unreasonably or to do him violence, because according to his will his life should be dear and valuable to us; therefore he demands at the same time the service of love for the preservation of this life! And so we will always be able to recognize from the intention of a commandment what we have to do or not to do!

II,8,10 How is it, then, that God in such a way actually mentions the commandments only in half and in this respect does not so much make his will known expressly, but rather merely indicates it with the tacit addition of further demands (per synecdochas)? There are many reasons given for this, but I like one in particular: the flesh is always at pains to minimize the heinousness of sin, if it is not palpable, and to adorn it with seemingly formidable pretexts; for this reason God has clearly pronounced as an example just the most terrible and sacrilegious kind of transgression of the commandment in question; so that our sensibilities should shudder at the very hearing of it, and our hearts should be instilled with all the greater abhorrence of sin in every form. When we judge a vice, we are often deceived by the inclination to take it more lightly when it is less openly apparent. The Lord prevents such deception by accustoming us to trace all vices together to those chief vices which most clearly represent what is repugnant to God in the particular respect. For example, anger and hatred are not considered particularly heinous sins when they occur under their own names; but when they are forbidden as murder, we see more clearly how much they are repugnant to God, whose word puts them on a level with such an atrocity, and we become accustomed by this judgment of God to take more seriously the gravity of these offenses which we previously disdained.

II,8,11 Then, thirdly, we must consider what the division of the divine law into two tables means; this is so often solemnly mentioned, and yet every sensible man sees that this is not done without reason or in the blue. But the reason is quickly at hand, so that we need no longer doubt here. For God has divided his law in such a way into two parts – which now enclose all justice! – that the first part comprises the (actual) duties of worship of God, which thus concern in a special way the worship of His divine majesty, the second, on the other hand, comprises the duties of love, which thus relate to human beings. The noblest foundation of all righteousness is certainly the worship of God; if this is destroyed, all the other pieces of righteousness fall together like the torn and broken pieces of a building. For what kind of righteousness is it when a man leaves man alone by stealing and robbing, but in the meantime robs God of His majesty, His honor, in an abominable outrage; when a man does not defile his body with fornication, but desecrates God’s holy name with blasphemies; or when a man does not kill a man, but seeks to kill and extinguish every thought of God? Without the worship of God, it is in vain to boast of righteousness: it is just as nonsensical as if one wanted to present a torso without a head as an image of beauty! For piety is not only the noblest part of righteousness, but its very soul, which itself pervades and animates all things; and without the fear of God men cannot preserve righteousness and love even among themselves. Therefore we call the worship of God the beginning and foundation of righteousness; for if it is no longer there, all that men still have among themselves in the way of righteousness, abstinence, temperance, is void and useless before God! We call the worship of God the source and spirit of justice; for men learn to live in discipline and without iniquity among themselves only when they worship God as the judge of right and wrong. Therefore, in the first tablet, God has instructed us in piety, and in the proper duties of religion by which His divine majesty is to be worshipped. The second tablet then prescribes to us how we are to conduct ourselves in the fellowship of men for the sake of the fear of His name. According to the report of the evangelists, our Lord (Christ) summarized the whole law in two main parts: "You shall love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength – and your neighbor as yourself" (Mt 22:37 ss.; Lk 10:27). So he leaves the law in two parts and refers the first one to God, the second one to man.

II,8,12 Thus the whole law actually consists of two parts; but our God wanted to take away any excuse for a self-exculpation and has therefore specified in ten commandments how we are to honor, fear and love Him and then also love mankind, as He instructs us to do for His sake. It is not a misapplied effort to think about the division of the commandments; only we must consider that in this respect everyone must have his free judgment and one should not immediately come into hostile conflict with those who think differently! We must necessarily go into this question, so that the reader, in view of our own classification, which must still follow, does not speak contemptuously or in astonishment of a new and just invented thing. Beyond all dispute is the fact that the law consists of ten "words"; God himself often confirms this. Therefore, the disagreement is not about the number, but about the way of division. Some divide in such a way that to the first tablet fall three, to the second the remaining seven; whoever does this erases the prohibition of images (2nd commandment) from the number of commandments or hides it under the first, although the Lord has undoubtedly given it as a special commandment; furthermore, one must then divide the 10th commandment, i.e. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods …", inappropriately into two commandments. In addition, as we shall soon see, this method of division was unknown to the Church in her uncorrupted time. Others count with us four commandments to the first tablet, but mention in place of the 1st commandment alone the promise (given there), without commandment. But I understand, unless I am convinced by plausible reasons to the contrary, the ten "words" in Moses as ten commandments, and it seems to me also that they are impeccably divided in such number. I therefore leave the others their conviction, and for my part follow that which seems to me the most correct: what some have wished to make the first commandment seems to me to be a preface to the whole law; then follow first four commandments of the first tablet, and then the six of the second, in the order in which they are to be enumerated afterwards. Of this division Origen reports that it was generally accepted without dispute in his day (Homilies on Exodus, 8). Augustine also agrees with this; he observes the following order in enumerating the commandments: We are to serve and obey God alone, not to worship idols, not to take the name of God in vain -, speaking beforehand for himself alone of the ancient Sabbath commandment (To Bonifacius, Book III). Admittedly, in another place he also declares his liking for the first-mentioned division, but only for the all too insignificant reason that in the division of the first table into three commandments the mystery of the Trinity is better expressed in the number three. However, he does not deny that of the other divisions he likes most the one that we put forward (Questions on the Heptateuch). The author of the "unfinished work on Matthew" also agrees with us. Josephus, following the general opinion of his contemporaries, undoubtedly assigns five commandments to each of the two tablets. But this contradicts reason, in that now the worship of God and the love of neighbor remain undivided. Also such a procedure contradicts the authority of the Lord Himself, who includes the commandment "You shall honor father and mother …" in the second tablet (Mt 19,19). But now let us hear God Himself speak to us in His Word: First Commandment. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; you shall have no other gods beside Me.

II,8,13 Whether one makes the first sentence a part of the first commandment or reads it by itself is indifferent to me; only one should not deny me that it represents a kind of preface to the whole law. If laws are given, then it is to be seen first of all that they do not fall soon into contempt and are dismissed. Thus God also first of all sees to it that the dignity of his law, as he gives it, does not fall into contempt; thus he makes it inviolable with a threefold justification. First, he attributes to himself the power and the right to command, in order to oblige the chosen people to unconditional obedience. Then, secondly, he gives his promise of grace in order to entice the people to seek holiness through its sweetness. And, thirdly, he reminds them of his benefits already done, in order to convict the Jews of their ingratitude when they did not behave as befitted his goodness. The name "Lord" ("Jehovah") denotes his right to rule and his power. If from him are all things and also all things have their existence in him, then also everything must be referred to him, as Paul says (Rom 11:36). Thus by this one word we are brought fully under the yoke of the divine majesty; for it would be monstrous if we were to withdraw from the power of Him apart from whom we cannot be at all!

II,8,14 Thus the Lord has shown Himself to be the One who has the right to command and who must be obeyed. But he does not want us to feel compelled alone, and therefore he kindly entices us and calls himself the God of his church. For this sentence ("I am the Lord your God …") denotes a mutual relationship, as it is expressed in the promise: "I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jer 31:33). In the same way, Christ proves the immortality of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob from the fact that the Lord testified to Himself as their God (Mt 22,32). It is as if he said: "I have chosen you as a people to whom I will not only do good in this life, but also grant the blessedness of eternal life. Where this is to lead, the law notes in various places. If the Lord has deemed us worthy of such mercy to belong to his people, then what Moses says also applies: "He has chosen us to be a people of possession to him, a holy nation, and that we should keep his commandments" (Deut 7:6; 14:2; 26:18 s.; summarily). From this also follows the admonition, "You shall be holy, for I am holy" (Lev 19:2). From these two testimonies then also arises the reproof in the prophet Malachi: "A son shall honor his father, and a servant his lord. Am I now father, where is my honor? Am I lord, where do they fear me?" (Mal 1:6)..

II,8,15 Furthermore, God remembers the benefits he has shown to the people. This has all the more power to bring us to obedience, since even among men ingratitude is considered a worse iniquity. It is true that God reminded the people of Israel at this point of a benefit that had recently been done to them, but because of its miraculous greatness it was to be remembered for all time and remain in force even for their descendants. Moreover, it is also particularly suitable for application to the matter at hand. For the Lord indicates that His people have been freed from wretched bondage to this end, that they now obediently worship their liberator in joyful readiness. In order to keep us in the right worship, which belongs to him alone, he also uses certain names to distinguish his holy divine majesty (sacrum eius numen) from all idols and all imaginary gods. For we are – as I have already shown – so inclined to vanity and presumption that we cannot even hear the name "God" without necessarily immediately falling into some empty fantasy. God himself wants to remedy this evil; and therefore he adorns his Godhead with certain titles and sets a fence for us, so to speak, so that we do not wander to and fro and presumptuously think up some new God, thus leaving the living God and erecting an idol for ourselves! Therefore, when the prophets want to describe God in a special way, they clothe, even enclose him, as it were, with the characteristics under which he had revealed himself to the people of Israel. When He is called the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (Ex 3,6), when His dwelling is sought in the temple at Jerusalem under the cherubim (Am 1:2; Hab. 2:20; Ps 80:2; 99,1; Isa 37:16), such expressions do not bind him to a place or to a people; rather, they serve only to direct the thoughts of the faithful immovably to the God who, in the covenant he made with Israel, presented himself in such a way that one may no longer deviate from this image under any circumstances. This, however, must be noted: that redemption (from bondage) is mentioned so that the Jews would be more willing to surrender to God, who had purchased them according to His right. However, we should not think that this redemption does not concern us; and therefore we must take into consideration that the Egyptian bondage of Israel is a model of the spiritual captivity in which we all find ourselves until the heavenly Liberator, by the violence of his arm, sets us free and leads us into the kingdom of freedom. Thus, just as God once tore the Israelites, in order to gather them from their dispersion to the worship of his name, out of the intolerable dominion of Pharaoh which oppressed them, so also today he protects all those as whose God he testifies from the terrible violence of the devil, for which that bodily bondage was an image. For this reason, everyone should be inflamed in his heart to hear this law, when he hears that it is given by the highest Lord, from whom everything has its origin, and in whom everything should also see its goal, according to which it must let itself be determined and aligned! Surely everyone should be imbued with love for this Lawgiver when he hears that he has been chosen to keep His commandments, the commandments of this Lawgiver from whose kindness he expects all good things in abundance, even the glory of eternal life, by whose miraculous power he knows himself to be snatched out of the jaws of death!!

II,8,16 So after God has established the authority of His law and firmly established it, He gives the first commandment: that we should have no other gods "before Him". The purpose of this commandment is this: God wants to be great in His people all by Himself and to exercise His law fully. For this purpose, according to his commandment, all impiety is to depart from us and all superstition that diminishes or darkens the glory of his divine majesty. And for the same reason he commands us to worship and adore him with true piety. This follows from the plain sense of the word; for we cannot have him for God without at the same time appropriating to him all that is his. Therefore, when he forbids us to have other gods, he makes it known to us that we should not transfer what is ours to another. Now what we owe to God is of a very varied nature, but it can be summarized quite well in four main points. These are (1.) adoration, to which, as it were, spiritual obedience in conscience is added, then (2.) trust, (3.) invocation, and finally (4.) thanksgiving. (1.) By adoration I mean the homage and reverence that we all pay to Him when we submit to His greatness. Therefore, I am justified in making the submission of our conscience to his law a piece of this worship. (2.) Confidence is the certain assurance of our heart toward him, such as we gain when we rightly recognize him and his glorious virtues, when we look to him alone for wisdom and justice, power, truth, and goodness, and see in communion with him alone our blessedness. (3.) The invocation takes place when our heart, in all distress that may beset us, takes refuge in his faithfulness as our only hope. (4.) The thanksgiving is the expression of our gratitude, which offers him alone praise and glory for all his good deeds. For the Lord does not want to give all this to anyone else and therefore commands us to offer it to him alone! It is by no means enough to beware of all foreign gods, no, we should really be devoted to him; for there are worthless despisers of God who pour out their ridicule on all and every religion! If we want to keep this commandment correctly, then true reverence for God must already be present in us, which drives us to completely surrender to the living God. If in this way the knowledge of God has come to us, we should have only this as our goal in our whole life, to respect, honor and worship His majesty, to participate in His goods, to seek all help from Him, to recognize the greatness of His works and to praise Him rightly! Then we should also avoid all evil superstitions, which turn the heart away from God and drag it here and there to all kinds of gods. If we really want to have our satisfaction in the one God, then we must, as I said, let go of all imaginary gods and be careful not to disrupt the service of God, which he alone has reserved for himself. For not even the slightest thing must be taken from his honor, but he must really receive what is due to him. The addition "before me" (Luther text: "beside me") increases the reprehensibility of vice. For we provoke him to zeal when we put imaginary gods in his place, just as a shameless woman makes her husband even more angry when she deals with her paramour before his eyes. God has promised to be with the chosen people with present power and grace and to watch over them in order to deter them all the more from the sacrilege of apostasy, and so he now reminds us: it is impossible to go over to foreign gods without him seeing such sacrilege and being his witness! But such presumption grows into terrible godlessness, if one thinks that he can remain hidden from God with his apostasy. On the other hand, the Lord makes it known to us that everything we think about, do and put into practice comes before His face. Therefore, our conscience must be free from even the most hidden apostate thought if our worship is to please the Lord. For he does not want his glory to be preserved pure and uncorrupted merely by our making an outward confession, but he wants to have such a confession before his eyes, which see the most hidden things of our heart. Second commandment. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness, either of him that is in heaven above, or of him that is in the earth beneath, or of him that is in the water under the earth. Do not worship them or serve them …

II,8,17 As God stated in the previous commandment that He is the One apart from whom no other gods are to be thought of or worshipped, so He now clearly states what kind of God He is and what kind of service is pleasing to Him for His worship, so that we do not dare to impute anything carnal to Him! The intention of this commandment is that he does not want his right worship to be profaned by superstitious customs. Therefore he wants – and this is essentially the content of the commandment – to call us away and withdraw us completely from all carnal ideas, which our mind, if it wants to think God after its own, coarse kind, necessarily brings up, and to make us ready for the rightful worship of God, which is spiritual and which he himself has ordered. The most abominable vice that can occur in the transgression of this commandment he calls by name: open idolatry. The commandment breaks down into two parts. In the first part, our frivolity is restrained so that we do not subject God, who is incomprehensible, to our senses and dare to represent Him in any image. In the second part, we are forbidden to worship any images with worshipful intent (religionis causa). In this, God briefly mentions all the kinds of images under which he was commonly represented among impious and superstitious pagans. By "those things which are in heaven above" he understands the sun, the moon, other heavenly bodies, and probably also the birds; as indeed, in explaining the law in the fourth chapter of Deuteronomy, he expressly names the birds as well as the heavenly bodies (Deut 4:17, 19). I would not have mentioned the latter if some, I see, did not refer this passage to the angels! The remaining pieces are well to be understood from themselves; therefore I will pass them over here. I have already explained clearly enough in the first book that all visible form, which man imputes to God, is completely contradictory to God’s nature, and that any erection of idols corrupts and falsifies the true religion.

II,8,18 The words of threat that are now inflicted are meant to rouse us from our sluggishness. There God threatens: "For I, the Lord your God, am a zealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shewing mercy unto many thousands that love me, and keep my commandments. This means as much as if he said: I am the only one on whom you should cling! In order to make us do this, he puts before us his power, which cannot be despised or belittled with impunity. He uses here the name of God "El", i.e. God; however, this name is derived from "strength", and in order to express this more clearly, I have translated this "strong" without hesitation and inserted it into the context. Furthermore he calls himself "zealous" or jealous, i.e. he cannot tolerate any other at his side! And thirdly he shows himself as the avenger of his majesty and glory against everyone who gives this glory to the creature or to a human image, and this not in simple and short retribution, but permanently, up to the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who of course imitate the fatherly impiety! In the same way, he promises his mercy and kindness to those who love him and keep his law, even to their children! God often compares Himself to us as a spouse, for the union He has entered into with us through our reception into the bosom of the Church is similar to holy matrimony, which is based on mutual fidelity. As he himself exercises the office of a true spouse towards all believers, so he in turn demands love and conjugal discipline from us. And this means that we are not to give our souls up to Satan, to lust, and to the filthy lusts of the flesh for adultery. When God punishes the apostasy of the Jews, He accuses them of having thrown off all shame and defiled themselves with fornication. And just as a husband, the more righteous and disciplined he himself lives, is the more violently enraged when he sees the heart of his wife inclined to a rival – so also the Lord, who has "betrothed himself" to us in truth (allusion to Hos 2,21 s.), announces his jealous anger to us when we forget the purity of his holy marriage covenant with us and fall into adultery in sacrilegious lust. And this happens especially when we give the veneration of his divine majesty, which after all belongs to him alone, to another or otherwise tarnish it with some superstition. For in such a way we not only violate the guilty marital fidelity, but defile the covenant itself in adulterous dishonor.

II,8,19 But we still have to see what it means when it is said in the threat that God will punish the iniquity of the fathers on the children up to the third and fourth generation. For it is far from divine justice to punish an innocent man for the misdeed of another. And God himself has assured: "The son shall not bear the iniquity of his father" (Eze 18,20). And yet the sentence, as it is found in the commandment, is repeated more than once, namely that the punishment for the iniquity of the fathers shall also come upon future generations. Thus Moses addresses God several times thus: "Lord, Lord, you who visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation" (Num 14:18). And likewise Jeremiah: "Who doest mercy to thousands, and bringest the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons that are after them" (Jer 32:18). Some, who sweat much over the solution of this knot, would like to see it applied only to temporal punishments; they do not think it absurd that the children should suffer for the iniquities of the fathers, since they often fall into tribulation for their own salvation! This is true in itself; for Isaiah threatened Hezekiah that his sons would lose the kingdom and have to go into exile because of the sin he had committed! (Isa 39,6.7). Indeed, the house of Pharaoh and Abimelech are also brought into distress – because of the wrong done to Abraham (Gen 12:17; 20:3), etc. But if one wants to use these facts to solve this question, it is more of an evasion than a right interpretation. For the retribution which is threatened here and in other passages is after all much too severe to be confined to the present life. One must therefore assume that the Lord’s just curse rests not only on the head of the transgressor himself, but also on his whole family. But where the curse prevails, is there anything else to be expected than that the father, forsaken by the spirit of God, leads a sacrilegious life, that the son, equally forsaken by the Lord because of his father’s wickedness, takes the same ruinous path – and the grandson and great-grandson, rejected seed of rejected people, now also fall into disaster after them?

II,8,20 Let us first consider whether such retribution is contrary to divine justice. If the whole human nature is worthy of condemnation, we know that doom is necessarily prepared for those whom the Lord does not dignify with the reception of His grace. Nevertheless, they perish from their own unrighteousness, but not from unrighteous hatred of God. Here they also cannot complain why they are not also, like others, led to salvation by God’s grace. If, then, the wicked and evil-doers, because of their iniquity, are punished so that their house is deprived of God’s grace for many generations to come, who will call God to account for such just retribution? – "But the Lord, on the other hand" – one replies – "has made it known that the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father" (Eze 18:20)! – One must pay attention to what we are dealing with here. The Israelites were plagued with all kinds of misery for a long time, and the proverb arose among them: "Our fathers ate herbs, and the teeth of our sons became blunt. That should mean: our fathers have done sin – and we, who are nevertheless righteous and have not deserved punishment, must suffer the punishment – whereby thus God is unforgivingly angry and does not exercise severity with moderation! To such people the prophet proclaims: it is not so! For they are afflicted for their own sins, as he shows, and it is not according to the justice of God that a righteous son should suffer punishment for the evil deed of a criminal father; but neither is this the case with the threat under discussion. For this "visitation" spoken of comes about because the Lord withdraws His grace, the light of truth and all other help to salvation from the offspring of the wicked; and precisely because the sons, in their blindness and abandonment of God, persist in following in the footsteps of their fathers, they are subject to the punishment for the misdeeds of the fathers. But that they are subjected to temporal misfortune and finally perish eternally, this happens according to God’s righteous judgment not because of foreign sin, but because of their own wickedness.

II,8,21 On the other hand, there is the promise of God to do mercy to many thousands. This is also found frequently in Scripture, and even belongs to God’s solemn covenant with His Church: "I will be your God – and your seed after you" (Gen 17:7). Solomon also refers to this and writes that the children of the righteous will prosper after their death (Prov 20:7). This has its reason not only in the right upbringing, which of course has no small importance in itself, but in the blessing promised in the covenant of God, that God’s grace prevails over children and children’s children of the pious forever! This is a great comfort to the pious, and a terrible terror to the wicked; for if even after death the memory of righteousness and unrighteousness remains in force with God, so that both his curse and his blessing still affect the descendants, both must rest even more heavily on the heads of those who have done the good or the evil themselves! That the children of the wicked sometimes prosper, but the children of the pious degenerate, is no contradiction to what has just been said; for the Lawgiver did not want to give an unbreakable rule here, which could do harm to his free election. It is enough for the comfort of the righteous and the terror of the sinner that this threat is not empty or ineffective, even if it is not always applied. For the temporal punishments which befall a few ungodly men are, after all, a testimony of the divine wrath against sin, and also of the coming judgment against all sinners, though many get off well to the end of their lives. And likewise, when the Lord gives an example of this blessing, that he will pursue the Son for the Father’s sake with his mercy and kindness, it is a testimony of his constant, lasting mercy toward his own. And if he punishes the father’s iniquity once on the son, he shows with it what kind of judgment awaits all the wicked because of their evil deeds; this certainty is the most important thing here. At the same time, however, he draws our attention on this occasion to the greatness of his mercy, which he extends to a thousand generations, while his vengeance is only on four members! Third Commandment. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

II,8,22 The intent of this commandment is this: God wants the majesty of His name to be holy to us! So the main content will be that we do not despise this majesty or desecrate it by dishonor. To this prohibition, according to the rule we have established, corresponds the commandment: we should make it our business to meet God’s majesty with pious reverence. Therefore, we must guard our hearts and tongues against thinking or speaking anything about God Himself and His mysteries without the due reverence and timidity, and also, in contemplating His works, give Him the honor in all our thinking. From this arise three kinds of duties, which we have to observe very seriously. First, what our minds think of him, our tongues utter, must testify to his dignity, be appropriate to the glory of his holy name, and finally serve to exalt his glory. Secondly, we should not use his holy word and his adorable mysteries carelessly or wrongly, for example, to satisfy our ambition or greed or even for a joke; rather, they bear his name with all its dignity and must therefore be held in all honor by us. And thirdly, we should not blame or disparage his works, as some wretched people do, always blaspheming them; but as often as we remember his works and deeds, we should praise his wisdom, justice and goodness! That is, to "sanctify" the name of God; in the other case it is stained by vain and malicious abuse, because it is torn out of the use ordered by God, for which alone it was sanctified, and by that very fact, even if no other dishonor befell it, it gradually falls into contempt. But if this careless and useless use of the name of God is already something so evil, then of course it is even more so when the name of God is used for all kinds of shameful, sinful things, such as superstitious questioning of the dead, curses and maledictions, unauthorized spirit incantations and such godless sorcery. In particular, however, this commandment refers to the oath, in which abuse of the divine name is extremely detestable; by this we are to be deterred from any other desecration of this name. However, this is a commandment concerning the veneration of God and the reverence for His name, but not the equity that must be among men; this follows from the fact that in the second tablet of the law God then condemns perjury and false testimony, which destroy human fellowship: this would be a superfluous repetition if this commandment already dealt with the duty of love. The very distinction (of the two tablets) requires this; for God, as has been said, did not give us the law in two tablets for no reason. Thus it follows that this third commandment contains the intention of protecting God’s right and defending the holiness of His name, not of teaching men what they owe one another.

II,8,23 First, we must now speak of the nature of the oath. It is the invocation of God as a witness, by which we want to affirm the truth of our speech. For the imprecations contain an open blasphemy and therefore cannot be counted among the oaths. Where, on the other hand, such invocation of God as a witness is done correctly, it is, as is shown in many passages of Scripture, a form of worship of God. Thus Isaiah prophesies the calling of the Assyrians and Egyptians into the fellowship of the covenant with Israel. "They will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the name of the Lord" (Isa 19:18). That is, by this swearing by the name of the Lord, these nations make confession that He is their God! Likewise, Isaiah also says, in order to testify to the future expansion of the kingdom of God: "Whoever asks for salvation will do it by the God of the faithful, and whoever will swear on earth will swear by the true God" (Isa 65:16; not Luther text). Similarly Jeremiah: "If they shall learn of my people to swear by my name, as they taught my people before to swear by Baal, so shall they be edified among my people (Jer 12:16). And indeed it may be rightly said that by invoking the name of the Lord for testimony – we testify to our worship of that Lord. For in doing so we confess: He is the eternal and infallible truth; we call upon Him not only as the distinguished witness of truth above all others, but also as its only protector, who can bring to light what is hidden, in short, as the heart’s messenger! Where the testimony of men is lacking, we take refuge in God as our witness, especially where what is hidden in the conscience is to be revealed. That is why the Lord’s anger burns so fiercely against those who swear by other gods, and he calls this kind of oath a sign of obvious apostasy from him. "Your children forsake me and swear by those who are not gods" (Jer 5:7). How heavy this sacrilege weighs before Him is revealed in the threat of punishment: "I will destroy those who swear by the Lord and at the same time by Milcom" (Zeph. 1:5).

II,8,24 We saw how, according to the Lord’s will, our oaths are to be considered a piece of His worship. We must be all the more careful that they do not serve to revile, despise and profane His name instead of worship. Thus, it is blasphemy of His name to make a false oath to Him; this is why in the Law it is called "desecration" of God’s name (Lev 19:12). For what remains to the Lord if one takes away His truth? He ceases to be God! But one really takes away his truth, if one makes him a witness and confirmer of the lie! That is why also Joshua, in order to make Achan confess the truth, says: "My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel!" (Jos 7,19); with this he indicates that the Lord is most severely dishonored if one swears falsely by His name: This is also no wonder, because from us in this way the stain of falsehood is virtually burned into His holy name! The expression that Joshua uses seems to have been in general use among the Jews when they wanted to ask someone to take an oath; this is evident from the fact that in the Gospel of John, the Pharisees also use this formula (John 9:24). Other phrases that are used in Scripture, such as "As the Lord lives" (1 Sam 14:39), or "The Lord do this to me and that" (2Sam 3:9), or "Let God be a witness over my soul" (2 Cor 1:23), also remind us to be careful. All these phrases in the oath indicate: we cannot call God to witness to our testimony without at the same time calling upon Him for vengeance for perjury, if we swear falsely.

II,8,25 God’s name is also degraded and made mean when we use it for superfluous, though not untrue, oaths. For even in this case it is led uselessly. Therefore it is not enough to avoid false oaths; at the same time we must remember that oaths are not permitted and instituted for the sake of lust or pleasure, but for the sake of necessity. Therefore, whoever uses the oath unnecessarily goes beyond the permitted use. But the oath is necessary when it is a matter of serving religion or love. This is a very careless sin nowadays, and it is all the worse because, as a result of ingrained habit, such careless swearing is no longer considered a sin, even though it will certainly not be held in low esteem before God’s judgment seat. Thus the name of God is everywhere carelessly used for swearing, even in silly gossip; and one does not even think that one is doing something wrong, because one believes that through long practiced and unpunished presumption one has rightfully come into possession of this vice! And yet the Lord’s commandment remains in force, also the threat of punishment remains firm – and it will come into effect one day, when all those who misuse his name will receive their special punishment. But one sins still in another piece: namely if one puts his holy servants in place of God when swearing. This is manifest impiety: for in this way one transfers God’s glory to the saints! (Ex 23,13). It is not without reason that the Lord commands us to swear by His name and forbids us to swear by the name of other gods (Deut 6:13; 10:20). And the apostle testifies to this quite clearly: he writes that men swore by someone higher than themselves, but God, above whom no one stands in His glory, swore by Himself (Hebr 6:16f.).

II,8,26 Such moderation in the use of the oath is not sufficient for the Anabaptists, but they reject the oath completely, because Christ’s prohibition of swearing is of general application: "But I say unto you, swear not at all…. But let your speech be, Yea, yea, nay, nay: whatsoever is above these things is of evil" (Mt 5:34-37). But in this way they run rashly against Christ, namely by opposing him to the Father – as if he had come to earth to abolish the commandments of the Father! For the eternal God has not only permitted the oath in His law as something lawful – which in itself would be sufficient proof of the permissibility of swearing – but commanded it for the case of need! (Ex 22:10). Christ, however, emphasizes His unity with the Father (John 10:30), testifies that He teaches nothing but what the Father instructed Him to teach (John 10:16), that His teaching is not His but the teaching of the one who sent Him (John 7:16) and so on. How now? Does one want to contradict God with himself, that he thus once gave a commandment and then forbade and condemned what had been commanded before? But there is indeed a certain difficulty in the words of Christ; therefore let us explain them briefly. However, we shall never know the right thing to say unless we keep Christ’s main intention and the actual content of his words firmly in mind. He did not, after all, intend to soften or restrict the law, but to restore it to its right and pure meaning, which the scribes and Pharisees had evilly distorted with their fanciful fancies. If we hold this firmly, we shall not at all fall into the idea that Christ has rejected the oath altogether: he only rejects the oath that leaves the guide given in the law. From his own words we can see that the people at that time were only a little afraid of perjury, while the law forbids not only the false, but also the frivolous, superfluous oath! So the Lord, as the most reliable interpreter of the law, declares not only false swearing but all swearing to be sinful. But which one? Obviously the frivolous swearing! The oath, which is recommended by the law, he leaves untouched and free. The Anabaptists, however, in order to defend their doctrine, got stuck on the little word "all things"; this, however, does not belong to "swearing" at all, but it refers to the following formulas of affirmation. For among the widespread errors of the time was the tendency to swear by heaven and earth, in the belief that they were thereby circumventing the name of God. Thus the Lord cuts off all excuses from them, in addition to the main transgression, so that they should not think that they went free when they concealed God’s name and called heaven and earth as witnesses! For here it must be noted in passing that a man swears by God even when he does not expressly mention his name, but hides it under all kinds of formulas, as, for example, when a man swears by the light of life, by the bread that nourishes him, by his baptism, or by other pledges of divine kindness. So when Christ in the Sermon on the Mount forbids swearing by heaven or earth or the city of Jerusalem, he does not want to fight superstition, as some wrongly assume; he rather wants to refute the hypocritical sophistry of the Jews, who thought that such frivolous oaths were not so bad if they had been made by some things, not by God’s name, as if one had, so to speak, spared God’s name – which is, after all, stamped on all the individual benefits! It is a different matter if, when swearing, a mortal man or some dead person or even an angel takes the place of God; thus among the heathen the evil, flattering expression has been invented: "By the life of the king" or also: "By the genius of the king". Now this is a false idolatry of men and serves to obscure or belittle the glory of the one God! But even where one has only the intention to expect an affirmation of one’s own speech from the name of God Himself, such frivolous oaths – even if it happens without explicit mention of the name of God – mean a violation of His majesty. To this frivolity Christ takes away its void pretext by forbidding "all things" to swear. Similar is the intention of James, who takes up the above mentioned words of Christ (Jam 5,12) - for that carelessness has been great in the world at all times, although it is a desecration of the name of God. – If the little word "all things" were to refer to the oath as such, as if therefore any swearing without exception were inadmissible – what is the use of the explanation which then follows: "neither by heaven … nor by the earth …"? From this it becomes sufficiently clear that Christ here counters excuses with which the Jews tried to trivialize their offense.

II,8,27 Reasonable judges will therefore find it absolutely clear that the Lord in the Sermon on the Mount only forbids such oaths which were also forbidden by the law. For he himself, although in his life he offered the right example of the perfection he taught, did not shy away from swearing when the situation demanded it, and the disciples, who undoubtedly followed their master in all things, followed this example. Who would say Paul could have sworn if swearing had been forbidden altogether? And yet, where the circumstances demanded it, Paul swore without any hesitation, even sometimes adding a formula according to which he would be cursed if he testified falsely (Rom 1:9; 2Cor 1:23). However, our question is not yet completely solved. There are people who want to exclude from the prohibition of oaths only the public oath, for example, the oath that we take at the request of the authorities, or the oath that princes take when making alliances, or the oath that the people take when they swear allegiance to the prince, or the soldier when he swears to the warlord, or the like. To this kind of oaths one counts then – and rightly so! – also the oaths in Paul, which serve to defend the dignity of the gospel. For the apostles in their office are not private persons, but publicly certified servants of God! Nor do I deny that such oaths may be taken with firm assurance, since they have the unambiguous testimony of Scripture in their favor. In doubtful matters, the authorities are to examine the witness under oath, and the witness is to swear to it, whereby the oath, according to the words of the apostle, "puts an end to all strife" (Hebr 6:16). In this commandment, the authorities who demand the oath, as well as the person who takes it, have a firm confirmation of their actions. Thus it can be seen among the ancient, pagan peoples that they held the public, solemn oath in high esteem; the private oath, on the other hand, which they practiced every day, they regarded as nothing or at least very little, as if such swearing were none of God’s majesty’s business. Nevertheless, it would be dangerous to condemn the extrajudicial oath, provided it is taken with due modesty, sanctity, and fear of God, and only in case of need; for such oaths can be justified by reason and also by all kinds of examples. If individuals may call God to judge between them in important and serious matters, surely they may call him to witness! Then your brother accuses you of unfaithfulness; you want to clear yourself of this accusation for the sake of love; but he does not allow himself to be convinced by any reasons. If your good reputation suffers because of his persistent suspicions, you can safely call upon God as a judge to bring your innocence to light in his own time. If we want to weigh the words, it is something lesser to call God as a witness. So I cannot see what should be inadmissible in such an invocation. There are also many scriptural testimonies for it. Perhaps it is said that the oath of Abraham and Isaac with Abimelech was public in character (Gen 21:24; 26:31). But Jacob and Laban were certainly private persons, and yet they made a covenant with each other under mutual oath! (Gen 31:53f.). Boaz, too, was a private citizen, and yet he affirmed his marriage vows to Ruth with an oath (Ruth 3:13). Obadiah, a righteous and godly man who took an oath to soften Elijah’s heart, was also a private person (1Ki 18:10). So I know of no better rule than this: our oaths must be kept in moderation, so that we do not swear carelessly, nor unnecessarily, nor with evil intent, nor wantonly. Rather, our oath should serve the righteous need to defend the honor of the Lord or to assist our neighbor, as the law intends with this commandment. Fourth Commandment. Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy: six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work. But on the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. There you shall do no work …

II,8,28 The purpose of this commandment is: we are to die to our own lusts and works, to seek after God’s kingdom, and to practice this seeking according to the rules He gave us. But since the commandment deals with a special and separate subject from the others, it also requires a very special way of interpretation. The ancients usually call it "shadowy" because it deals with the external sanctification of a day that was abolished with the rest of the examples by Christ’s coming. This is very correctly said, but it exhausts the matter only half. Therefore, the interpretation must go deeper; in doing so, three regulations must be considered, which, in my opinion, this commandment contains. First, the heavenly Lawgiver wanted to give the people of Israel a picture of spiritual rest under the rest on the seventh day, i.e. this, that the believers should celebrate from all their own works and let God work in them. Secondly, according to his commandment, there was to be a certain day on which to assemble for the hearing of the law and the performance of the divine customs, or at least which was to be devoted to the special contemplation of his works; this contemplation was to be for the exercise in piety. And thirdly, God wanted to grant a day of rest to the servants and those who were under other people’s rule, so that they could rest a little from their work.

II,8,29 That the preformation of spiritual rest was the most important task of the Sabbath we learn in many ways. Almost no commandment did the Lord want to see followed so strictly as this (Num 15,32-36). If he wants to indicate through the prophets the complete destruction of the fear of God, he complains that his Sabbaths are stained, violated, not kept, not sanctified: if obedience is lacking here – he wants to indicate – then nothing remains by which he could be honored! (Eze 20:12; 22:8; 23:38; Jer 17:21, 22; 17:27; Isa 56:2). On the other hand, the keeping of the Sabbath finds highest praise. Therefore, believers also praise the revelation of the Sabbath as a special act of God. Thus, in the Book of Nehemiah, the Levites said in solemn assembly, "You have made known Your holy Sabbath to them and commanded commandments, customs and law to them through Your servant Moses" (Neh 9:14). Thus, among all the commandments of the Law, the Sabbath commandment was accorded special honor. All this serves to indicate the high dignity of this mystery which Moses and Ezekiel so gloriously portray. Thus we read in the book of Exodus: "Take heed, keep my Sabbath: for the same is a sign between me and you unto your seed, that ye may know that I am the Lord which sanctifieth you. Therefore keep my Sabbath, for it shall be holy unto you" (Ex 31:13, 14; 35:2). "Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, that they may keep it also among their seed for an everlasting covenant; it is an everlasting sign …" (Ex 31:16f.). Ezekiel speaks more extensively about the Sabbath; the main thing for him is that the Sabbath is a sign for Israel, by which they should know: It is God who sanctifies (Eze 20:12). If our sanctification consists in the mortification of our own will, the similarity between the outward sign and the thing itself, which is inward, is already apparent. We must rest completely so that God may work in us, we must renounce our will, give up our heart, renounce all lusts of the flesh. Finally, we must abstain from all selfish works so that God may work in us and we may rest in Him, as the apostle says (Hebr 3:11 ss.; 4:9).

II,8,30 This eternal relinquishment of one’s own works God presented to the Jews in the form of the sanctification of the seventh day. In order for this day to gain even greater dignity, the Lord has commended it to us with His own example. Man is especially motivated to zeal when he knows that he should live up to the example of the Creator Himself. Some people want to find a hidden meaning in the number seven, because in the Scriptures seven is the number of the perfect, the completed; and this number was certainly not chosen without intention, in order to indicate the constant duration of this rest of the faithful. It is also true that with the seventh day, on which the Lord, according to his report, "rested from all his works", Moses no longer adds the otherwise always occurring remark: "And there was evening and morning …". Another interpretation of the number is also not to be rejected: the Lord would have wanted to indicate that the day of rest could become perfect only when the last day was there. We certainly begin our blessed Sabbath rest here and continue in it every day; but the battle with the flesh does not end and cannot come to an end until the promise of Isaiah is fulfilled, that new moon shall follow new moon, Sabbath shall follow Sabbath (Isa 66,23), – before God is all in all (1Cor 15,28). So the Lord could have indicated to His people in the seventh day the future completion of His day of rest, so that they would reach out for this perfection by constantly paying attention to the Sabbath in their whole life.

II,8,31 If someone wants to reject this interpretation of the number seven as too subtle, I do not prevent him from accepting a simpler one. For example: the Lord has appointed a certain day on which the people should practice the diligent contemplation of spiritual rest under the discipline of the law. He took the seventh day because he considered it sufficient, or also with the intention of spurring the people on by his own example and parable, or at least to remind them that the Sabbath has only the purpose of making man like his Creator. It is quite the same, which interpretation one accepts, – if only the primarily indicated secret remains: namely that it concerns here our constant rest from the own works. All the prophets admonished the Jews to pay attention to this when they warned them not to think that carnal rest was enough. In addition to the passages already mentioned, we want to mention another word of Isaiah: "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, so that you do not do what pleases you on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, and honor the day that is holy to the Lord of glory, if you honor it so that you do not do your ways, nor are found in it what pleases you or idle talk, then you will have delight in the Lord …" (Isa 58:13, 14). However, through the coming of the Lord Christ, everything that was an outward practice of this commandment has been done away with. For he himself is the truth, through whose presence all images disappear, he is the body, through whose becoming visible all shadow images have ceased. He is thus the true fulfillment of the Sabbath! Through baptism we are buried with Him, becoming fellow members of His death, so that we may also be partakers of His resurrection and walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4). Thus the apostle writes elsewhere that the Sabbath was a shadow image of things to come, but in Christ the body is there (Col 2:16, 17), that is, the actual, essential truth, as he presents it in detail in that passage. And this truth is not satisfied with a single day, but demands our whole life until we are completely dead in ourselves and filled with God’s life! Therefore, Christians should have nothing to do with the superstitious observance of days!

II,8,32 Meanwhile, the last two precepts of our commandment (namely, the setting apart of a day for the worship of the church and the day of rest for the servants!) do not belong to the effigies, but they retain their validity for all time. Even after and in spite of the abolition of the Sabbath, there should still be certain days among us when we come together to hear the Word, to break the holy bread (ad mystici panis fractionem!) and to pray together. Also, the servants and workers must be given their rest from work! And for both of these the Lord undoubtedly wanted to make provision with the Sabbath commandment. The first has already a sufficient testimony alone in the use with the Jews. The second is indicated by Moses in Deuteronomy: "That thy servant and thy handmaid may rest as thou hast rested; for thou shalt remember that thou also wast a servant in the land of Egypt" (Deut 5:14f.). Similarly in the book of Exodus: "That thine ox and thine ass may rest, and that thy maidservant’s son may be refreshed" (Ex 23:12). This undeniably applies to us as well as to the Jews. God’s Word tells us that the church should meet together, and how necessary this is already sufficiently clear to us through ordinary experience in life. But how to maintain such meetings of the church without a definite order and appointed days? According to the instructions of the apostle, everything should be done in a proper and orderly manner (1Cor 14:40). Now this decency and order cannot be maintained without such public regulation, so that in the other case the church would immediately be threatened with the greatest confusion and dissolution. We are therefore under the same distress which the Lord gave the Jews the Sabbath to overcome, and therefore let no one say that we have nothing to do with it. For the Father, in His glorious providence and kindness, did not want to remedy our distress any less than that of the Jews. But now one could ask: Why do we not come together every day, in order to avoid that distinction of days (which should not be)? Yes, if it were only so! For the spiritual wisdom would be well worth that we devote a piece of our time to it every day! But the weakness of many makes such daily meetings impossible, and we cannot demand more from them without becoming unloving. Why should we not submit to the order that God’s will has ordained for us?

II,8,33 I am forced to dwell a little longer here, because nowadays restless spirits are making a lot of noise because of the Lord’s Day (Sunday). They complain vehemently that Christianity is being held in Judaism by the observation of certain days! I answer: it has nothing at all to do with Judaism, if we celebrate such days, because we differ in this respect from the Jews very considerably. We do not treat the Lord’s Day as a ceremony, which we observe with anxious conscientiousness, for example because a spiritual mystery is presented to us in it, but we understand it as a means, which is necessary for the maintenance of order in the church! But one retorts further: Paul says that the Christian should not be "conscience-stricken" because of the observation of "certain holidays", because they are only shadows of the things to come (Col 2,16.17), yes he fears to have worked on the Galatians in vain, because they still observed certain days (Gal 4,10.11); also he writes to the Romans that it is superstition if someone makes a difference between day and day (Rom 14,5). – But who – except these wild men! – does not see what Paul has in mind here when he speaks of keeping certain days? The people at that time did not have the right public, ecclesiastical order in mind as their goal, but they kept the days as shadow images of spiritual things and in this respect obscured Christ’s glory and the light of the gospel. Thus they did not celebrate from their professional work because it deprived them of holy zeal, holy contemplation, but in a certain religious timidity, namely because they dreamed of preserving with their celebration the memory of once highly praised mysteries. Against this perverse distinction of days the apostle proceeds, but not against the lawful order which serves the peace of the Christian community (societas christiana). For the Sabbath was also kept in this sense in the churches which he himself ordered. He himself ordained this day for the Corinthians, so that they would collect the tax to help the brethren in Jerusalem (1Cor 16:2). Fear superstition: the Jewish holidays were more dangerous than the Lord’s Day, which the Christians celebrate! For because it was necessary for the abolition of superstition, the Jews were deprived of their holy day – and because it was necessary for the preservation of good morals, order and peace in the church, another day was put in its place!

II,8,34 The ancients put the Lord’s Day, as we call it, in the place of the Sabbath with full intent. For the true rest which the old Sabbath modeled has, after all, reached its goal and fulfillment in the resurrection of the Lord; and so this very day, which put an end to all shadowy images, reminds Christians that they are not to linger over such shadowy ceremonies. By the way, the number of seven is not so important to me that I would force the church to use it; nor do I want to condemn any congregation that chooses other days for its meetings, if only it is done without superstition. The best way to avoid superstition is to let the holidays serve exclusively for the maintenance of discipline and right order. The main thing is: as the truth was once presented to the Jews under shadows, so it comes to us gloriously without shadows. First, we should strive for complete Sabbath rest from all our own works throughout our lives, so that the Lord may work in us through his Spirit. Secondly, each of us, as often as he has time, should practice the devout knowledge of the works of God; but we should also all keep together the lawful order of the church, which is established for hearing the word, practicing the sacraments, and praying publicly together. And third, we are not to oppress our subjects inhumanely. Socrates writes about this freedom in the "Historia tripartita" (Hist. trip. XI, 38). With it disappears then also the talk of the lying prophets who filled the people in the past centuries with Jewish delusion. They stated that in this commandment only the "ceremonial" was abolished – they called it the "estimation of the seventh day" – but the moral remained, i.e. one day in the week had to be celebrated. This means then nothing else than that one takes away another day from the Jews to the annoyance, on the other hand one keeps the superstitious sanctification of the day in the same way as them. In this way we would be left with the same mysterious distinction of the days as it was with the Jews. And one can really see what the lying prophets have achieved with their teaching: the people who are caught up in their ordinances go three times further in their crude, carnal Sabbath belief than the Jews themselves, so that the punitive speeches of Isaiah (Isa 1:13; 58:13) apply to them just as they did to the prophet’s contemporaries! In the meantime, however, let us keep in mind as a general teaching: so that the piety in us does not fall apart or slacken, we should attend the meetings of the church diligently and in general make every effort for all the outward aids that serve to maintain the worship of God. Fifth Commandment. You shall honor your father and mother, that you may live long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

II,8,35 What is the purpose of this commandment? The Lord God wants to preserve His order, and therefore the levels of superiority He has established are to be inviolable for us. So the main thing is: we should accept those whom the Lord has made our superiors and treat them with reverence, obedience and gratitude. The prohibition then corresponds to this: we are not to break anything of their dignity, neither by contempt, nor by stubbornness or ingratitude. For the word "honor" has a very wide scope in Scripture. For example, when the apostle says, "The elders who preside well are worthy of double honor" (1Tim 5:17), he is thinking not only of the reverence due them, but also of the reward due them for their service. Now this commandment, which demands obedience, is very much at odds with human reason and its wickedness; for man is so puffed up in his lust for power that he does not like to be subordinated! That is why the authorities are taken as an example here, who are by nature the most loving and least detestable (namely father and mother); for they could still soften us inwardly most easily and move us to submission. So the Lord wants to accustom us to all lawful docility from this kind of subordination, which is still the easiest and most bearable; for things are the same everywhere. To whom he has assigned dignity, he also gives, as far as it is necessary for the preservation of his reputation, a share in his name. The names "Father," "God," and "Lord" have this in common, that as often as we hear one of them, we necessarily feel: we are dealing with God’s majesty. So if he gives a man a share in the dignity of his name, a little of his splendor enlightens and glorifies him, so that he may command respect in God’s stead! So we have to acknowledge something divine in him who is our father; for he does not use this divine title ("father") without reason! And he who is "prince" and "lord" has, as it were, a share in God’s glory!

II,8,36 For this reason it cannot be doubted that the Lord here establishes a general rule: namely, we are to treat everyone who, according to our knowledge, is given to us by God’s order as superior, with reverence, obedience, gratitude and every service possible to us. It makes no difference whether those to whom such honor is to be conferred are worthy or unworthy: for whoever they may be, they have not taken their place without God’s providence, and therefore the Lawgiver wishes them to be honored. He expressly gives this commandment with regard to the parents who have given us this life – natural feeling must actually draw us to obey it! For he who opposes the paternal power with stubbornness and resistance is a monster and not a man! Therefore, the Lord also commands to kill all people who resist their parents, as those who do not deserve life, because they do not even recognize by whose service they have received it. From various additions to the law it may be seen that in fact, as we have mentioned, the honor here enjoined includes three kinds of duties, namely, reverence, obedience, and gratitude. (1.) The Lord makes reverence an inviolable duty by commanding to kill the one who curses father or mother (Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9; Prov 20:20). Thus he condemns contempt and stubbornness toward parents. (2.) God demands obedience by also threatening the death penalty for disobedient and unruly children (Deut 21:18-21). (3.) Jesus’ interpretation of this commandment in Mt 15 reminds us to be thankful, where He derives the demand that we should do good to our parents (Mt 15,4-6). Paul finds obedience demanded in this commandment as often as he speaks of it (Eph 6:1-3; Col 3:20).

II,8,37 The added promise is to put this commandment especially to our heart and to show us even better how pleasing God is this here demanded submission. Paul also uses this promise as a spur to our slothfulness, pointing out, "This is the first commandment that hath promise" (Eph 6:2). He is right: for the general promise before the first tablet of the law does not refer to any particular commandment, but to the whole law. We shall have to understand the promises given here thus: the Lord speaks especially to the Israelites of the land which he had promised them as an inheritance. If, therefore, the possession of the land is a pledge of God’s kindness, it is not surprising if the Lord here testifies to his grace by the promise of a long life; for thus it came to longer enjoyment of the fruit of his beneficence. According to the sense, then, it is to be read: Honor father and mother, so that you may enjoy a long life the possession of the land, which I will give you as a pledge of my grace. However, since the whole earth is blessed for the faithful, we rightly count the present life among the blessings of God. Therefore this promise also concerns us, as long life on earth is a proof of divine kindness. For this long life on earth is not promised to us, nor was it once promised to the Jews, because it would in itself bring blessedness, but because it should be a sign of God’s kindness to the pious! If, therefore, an obedient son is torn away from his parents before his life is ripe, which happens not infrequently, the Lord still keeps his promise, as much as if he gave a hundred yokes of land to someone to whom he had promised only one! It is all due to the fact that long life is promised to us only as far as it is a blessing of God, but that it is a blessing only as far as it is a proof of divine grace. But this grace the Lord testifies to His servants through death infinitely more abundantly and imperishably, indeed He shows it to them by deed!

II,8,38 If now the Lord promises the blessing of the present life to the children, who honor their parents with the guilty obedience, he announces with it at the same time to all unruly and disobedient the surely threatening curse. This curse he also carries out: he lets them be pronounced guilty of death by his law and orders the execution of the punishment! But if they escape the earthly judgment, he himself punishes their disobedience in all kinds of ways, many such people perish in wars and quarrels, others get into heavy tribulations – but almost all of them experience in their own lives that this threat is not an empty word. Some may reach old age, but they are without God’s blessing in this life and suffer through it, even facing more severe punishments – and so, in spite of their long life, they are not partakers of the promise given to obedient children! In passing, however, we also want to note that we are to obey the parents only "in the Lord" (Eph 6:1); this actually already follows from the basis we found above; for the primacy of the parents is based on the fact that the Lord has appointed them and conferred on them a little of His glory! The submission we show to them is therefore itself only a step to lead to the worship of God as the Supreme Father. If, therefore, they wish to tempt us to transgress the law, we are justified in thinking of them not as parents but as strangers who seek to dissuade us from obedience to our true Father. It is exactly the same in the corresponding case with princes and lords and all the estates superior to us. It would therefore be unworthy and nonsensical if their high position should be used to diminish the sublimity of God; for it depends on this itself, and must therefore also lead us to it! Sixth commandment. Thou shalt not kill.

II,8,39 First of all the purpose of this commandment: The Lord has united the human race into a unity, so to speak, and therefore the preservation and well-being of all must be the concern of each individual. Hence the main content: we are forbidden every act of violence, every sacrilege, and in general everything that would harm the body of our neighbor. Accordingly, we are commanded to faithfully do everything in our power to protect the life of our neighbor, to do everything in our power to help him to prosperity and to avert harm from him, and to stand by him in all distress and danger. But if we consider that God is speaking to us here as a lawgiver, we will also note: He wants to govern our soul with this commandment! For it would be ridiculous if he, who has the deepest thoughts of the heart before his eyes and who is particularly concerned with the heart, only wanted to educate the body to true righteousness. Thus also the murder is forbidden here, which happens in the heart, and on the other hand the inner drive is demanded to preserve the life of the brother. Certainly, murder is born by the deed of the hand; but its germ lies in the heart, if it carries anger and hatred! One should see whether one can really be angry with one’s brother without becoming inflamed with harmful greed. If such anger is forbidden, hatred is even more so, for hatred is only an ingrained anger. One may deny this and try to free oneself with all kinds of excuses – but where there is anger and hatred, there also dwells the attitude that can lead to evil deeds! If one wants to look for an excuse, one should consider that the mouth of the Holy Spirit has said: "He who hates his brother is a murderer" (1Jn 3:15), and that the Lord Christ said: "He who is angry with his brother is guilty of judgment, and he who says to his brother ’Racha!’ is guilty of counsel, but he who says ’you fool’ is guilty of hellish fire! (Mt 5:22).

II,8,40 Now according to the Scriptures this commandment is based on two legal matters. On the one hand, man is God’s image, on the other hand, he is our flesh and blood. Therefore, if God’s image is to remain unharmed, the other human being must be sacred and inviolable to us; if all humanity in us is not to perish, we must protect and preserve our own flesh and blood! What admonition is to be drawn from the redemption and from Christ’s grace in this direction will be dealt with elsewhere. But these two basic facts the Lord wants to be observed in man by nature, so that we thereby come to the preservation of man, that is, to honor the image of God imprinted in him and to love our own flesh! Therefore, he who has not shed blood need not be free from bloodguilt. Whoever does something by deed, or even tentatively puts it into effect, or even merely desires or plans something that is contrary to the salvation of his neighbor, is guilty of murder! If, on the other hand, one does not strive to protect one’s neighbor to the best of one’s ability and at every opportunity, this harshness is already a transgression of the commandment! But if we should be so concerned about the physical well-being of our neighbor, how much zeal and effort should be put into the salvation of the soul, which is of infinitely greater importance to the Lord? Seventh commandment. You shall not commit adultery.

II,8,41 Also here first the purpose of the commandment: God loves chastity and purity, and therefore all impurity shall be far from us! From this follows as the main content: We are to keep ourselves free from all defilement by fornication and inordinate greed of the flesh. Accordingly, we are commanded to lead our whole life in chastity and discipline. God expressly forbids adultery, for all covetousness is directed toward it, and indeed it is especially abominable because it is most gross and most perceptible, since it even impresses its brand upon the body; but for this reason it should also make all and every other evil covetousness repugnant to us. After all, man was created according to the order (hac lege) that he should not lead his life alone, but need the help of the other man who is given to him. Then he has been put even more into this necessity by the curse over sin. Now the Lord has provided sufficient help and has instituted the marriage state, has let such union begin under his authority and has sanctified it by his blessing. For this reason, however, every other union between man and woman outside of marriage is obviously cursed before Him; the marriage state is, after all, decreed by Himself as a means of necessity, so that we do not overrun all boundaries in unbridled greed! So there is no extenuation when we hear that an intercourse between man and woman outside of marriage necessarily brings God’s curse with it!

II,8,42 We are therefore, by the disposition of our nature, and then a fortiori because of the lust which is wildly kindled after the fall, doubly in need of conjugal union with woman – apart from those whom God has exempted from this rule by a special act of grace. So let each one see what is given to him! Certainly, I admit, celibacy is not to be despised. But it is denied to the one and made possible only for a time to the other; and therefore he who is tormented by carnality, and who does not remain victorious in the struggle against it, should seek help in marriage and thus lead a virtuous life in his profession and occupation. For whoever does not grasp this word and does not confront his intemperance with the means offered, quarrels with God and resists his order. Let no one talk me into it – as many do nowadays! – that with God’s help he is capable of anything! For God’s help is only for those who walk in His ways – and that means: live in their profession! (Ps 91:1.14). Whoever spurns the means God offers him and in futile presumption wants to overcome his hardships alone and force them to the ground, is evading his calling! The Lord himself emphasizes that abstinence is a special gift of God and belongs to the gifts of God, which are not distributed generally to the whole church, but only to a few members! For he speaks of a very special kind of people "who are cut off for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 19,12); so these are people who have this gift in order to be able to devote themselves more independently and freely to the things of the kingdom of heaven. But he wants to prevent the misconception that such interconnection is in the power of man, therefore he shows shortly before that not all are capable of it, but only those to whom it is given from heaven (Mt 19,11) – and then he concludes: "Whoever can grasp it, let him grasp it!" (V. 12). Even more clearly Paul writes, each one has his gift from God, one so, the other so! (1Cor 7:7).

II,8,43 Thus the Scripture points out to us very clearly that not everyone is able to maintain chastity in celibacy, no matter how diligently he strives for it, but that it is an extraordinary grace which the Lord grants only to special people in order to make them more free for His work. Isa it not a resistance against God and the nature he created for us, if we do not arrange our life according to the measure of our ability? Here, at any rate, the Lord forbids all fornication; he therefore demands purity and chastity from us. The only way to preserve chastity is for each one to measure himself by his own measure! So let no one presumptuously disparage marriage, as if it were useless or superfluous for him! And let no man choose celibacy except he who can live without a wife. In it, too, no one should seek rest and comfort for his flesh, but only this, that, being free from that bond, he may be all the more easily and willingly at the service of the duty of a consecrated life. For this reason, everyone should renounce marriage only as long as he is capable of a solitary life. If he runs out of strength to master his lust, he should recognize that the Lord has imposed on him the duty to become married. This is also shown by the apostle’s admonition: "For the sake of fornication, let every man have his own wife and every woman her own husband" (1Cor 7:2) or also: "If they cannot abstain, let them be free" (1Cor 7:9; Calvin adds: "in the Lord"). With this he first speaks out: By far the majority of people are subject to the vice of immorality, and secondly: all of these who are in such a position should, without any exception, take recourse to the only remedy that sets limits to immorality. Therefore, if people who cannot abstain, still disdain to be helped with this remedy in their weakness, they sin because they do not obey this command of the apostle. But even a man who has never touched a woman should not think in self-confident delusion that he is free from the accusation of unchastity, when in the meantime he is glowing with desire inside. For Paul understands by chastity the purity of the heart and at the same time also the discipline of the body. "She who is not free, who cares for what belongs to the Lord, that she may be holy in body and also in spirit…" (1Cor 7:34). And so, in confirmation of the above commandment, he says not only that it is better to marry than to be defiled with fornication, but also that it is better to marry than to be in heat (7:9).

II,8,44 When the spouses consider that their covenant is blessed by the Lord, they are also reminded not to defile it by unbridled, unrestrained greed. Certainly, marriage in its decency hides all lust from the eyes of the world; but this should surely not be an incentive for us to debauchery! For this reason the spouses should know that they cannot do as they please, but the husband should act modestly toward the wife and the wife toward the husband; in everything they do, they should be careful not to allow anything to arise that would be contrary to the decency and discipline of the marriage state. The marriage covenant made in the Lord should thus be guided to discipline and moderation and not degenerate into mad licentiousness. For such intemperate lechery Ambrose has a very serious, but not undeserved expression: he calls a man who does not take care of discipline and respectability in the conjugal life an adulterer against his own wife! (in Augustine, Against Julian II,7; not in Ambrose). Finally, let us consider who this lawgiver is who here condemns all impurity: he is, after all, the one who must have us entirely his own and who, by his own right, demands of us purity of soul, spirit, and body. Therefore, when he condemns fornication, he at the same time forbids us to lay snares for the chastity of others with voluptuous dress, lewd gestures and impure speeches. It was right what Archelaus said to a particularly richly and luxuriantly dressed young man: it is actually the same at which point a man turns out to be a softy. It is necessary to look at God, who hates all impurity, wherever it appears in body or soul! So that no one doubts this, remember that God commands chastity here. But when the Lord demands chastity from us, he rejects everything that is contrary to it. If we want to obey, our heart must not burn with greed, our eyes must not be lustful, our body must not adorn itself with lust, our tongue must not provoke our mind to such thoughts by lecherous speeches, and our palate must not kindle such lusts by intemperance. For all such corruptions are like stains that defile pure chastity. Eighth commandment. Thou shalt not steal.

II,8,45 The purpose here is: God is displeased with all unrighteousness, and therefore we are to give to everyone what is his. So the main content is: we are not to seek other people’s goods, but on the contrary, we are to help everyone faithfully for the preservation of what is his. We must remember that what a man possesses, he does not have by chance, but by God’s, the Lord of all things’, allotment; therefore, whoever steals from his neighbor’s property is committing fraud against the divine order. Now there are many kinds of theft. First, there is robbery by force: in this case, someone else’s property is taken by force and robbery. Then there is fraud: one fraudulently deprives another of what is his. It is something else again, if one takes the property of the neighbor under the appearance of the right with cunning and treachery. And it is something else again when one ensnares one’s neighbor with flattery, pretends to give him an advantage, and thus obtains his property by fraud. But we do not want to go on enumerating all forms of theft. In any case, all false art, with which one brings the neighbor’s property and money to oneself, insofar as the sincerity of love is abandoned and the desire to deceive or somehow do harm arises, is to be considered theft. Such hidden thieves may also go free in court – before God they are considered to be what they are: For he sees through the intricate stratagems with which the crafty man ensnares the harmless until he has drawn him into the net. He also sees the harsh and inhuman laws with which the more powerful oppresses and ruins the weak. He sees the flattery with which a treacherous man catches the inexperienced as if on a hook, although all this is hidden from human judgment and does not come to public knowledge. Such injustice is found not only in the fraudulent acquisition of money or goods or land, but in all the rights that the other person has. We also fraudulently deprive our neighbor of his own if we deny him the service to which he is entitled by right. If a steward or housekeeper lets his master’s property go to waste carelessly, or if he does not properly perform his duty to the property entrusted to him, or if he embezzles or wastes his master’s property, or if a servant is insolent toward his master, or if he divulges his secrets, or if he betrays his life or his property, or if, on the other hand, a master treats his servants cruelly or inhumanely – all this is theft in God’s eyes! For he who does not do what his profession requires of others, commits theft of another’s goods!

II,8,46 So we will obey this commandment if we are content with our possessions and only strive for honorable and permissible gain, do not seek to become rich by unjust means, and do not strive to snatch away our neighbor’s goods in order to have the gain ourselves, if we do not cruelly seek to accumulate acquired wealth squeezed out of other people’s blood, if we do not restlessly scrape up everything from all sides, rightly or wrongly, in order to satisfy our greed or our extravagance! On the contrary, we should always direct our thoughts to helping our neighbor to keep what is his by word and deed. And if we have to deal with unfaithful and deceitful people, we should rather put our good into it than enter into competition with them. But not only that: if we see the other in need, we should share in his difficulties and help him in his lack with our goods and chattels. Finally, each one should pay attention to what he owes to do in his profession, and then faithfully fulfill what is required. So then, let the people hold in honor all those who preside over them, bear their rule with willingness, be obedient to the laws and orders, and refuse no service which they can render with God’s help. On the other hand, the authorities should take care of the welfare of the people, maintain public peace, protect the good and keep the bad in check, in short, govern everything in the knowledge that they themselves must one day give an account to God for the conduct of their office! The ministers of the church should faithfully practice the ministry of the word and not falsify the doctrine of salvation, but proclaim it purely and loudly to the people of God. Their instruction of the congregation should not only consist in teaching, but also in the example of their life. In short, they should fulfill their office as good shepherds. On the other hand, the people should welcome the ministers of the church as messengers and apostles of God and give them the honor that the supreme teacher of the church has bestowed upon them, and also give them what they need for their livelihood. Parents should nurture, educate and instruct their children, whom God has entrusted to them, not hardening them inwardly by severity or turning them away from themselves, but bearing and loving them with the gentleness and forbearance necessary for their ministry. The younger ones are to honor the old age, since the Lord himself wants it so. Accordingly, the old should guide the young in their weakness and inexperience by virtue of their own mature wisdom and greater experience, and not intimidate them with harshness and rudeness, but soften their severity by kindness and goodness. Servants are to render willing and joyful obedience to their masters, not only in sight but in heart, as if they were serving God himself! Masters should not treat their servants proudly and obstinately, nor should they treat them with harshness or disdain; rather, they should recognize that the servants are their brothers, their fellow servants before the heavenly Lord, who should love and treat each other humanely. In this way, each individual can easily find out what he owes to his neighbor in his position and place; and then he should also do his duty. For this purpose it is necessary always to look to the Lawgiver Himself: then we will see that this rule applies not only to our hands, but also to our hearts; and so everyone should strive to preserve and promote the advantage and benefit of his neighbor by all means. Ninth Commandment. Thou shalt not speak false witness against thy neighbor.

II,8,47 Here is the purpose: Since falsehood is abhorrent to God, who is truth, we are to love and practice truth among ourselves without all falsehood! Therefore, the main content of this commandment is: we shall not injure the good name of another with insults and false accusations, nor harm him with lying, nor shall we offend anyone with blasphemies and insolent vituperation. The commandment corresponds to the prohibition: we are to help all people, as much as we are able, to assert the truth and to protect the good right of their name. The Lord obviously wanted to make the meaning of this commandment clear in the 23rd chapter of the Book of Exodus: "You shall not believe false accusations, that you may assist an ungodly man and be a false witness" (Ex 23,1), or also: "Be far from false things" (Ex 23,7). Elsewhere we are warned against lying not only in that we are not to be braggarts and slanderers among our people (Lev 19:16), but also in that we are not to deceive our brother (Lev 19:11). So God forbids both in certain commandments. And as he forbade harshness, unchastity and covetousness (namely the unrighteous disposition) in the previous commandments, so he undoubtedly forbids craftiness here as well. This expresses itself, as already said, in two ways. On the one hand, there is the sin against the good reputation of the neighbor, as it happens through blasphemy or slander. And then, on the other side, there is the entry that happens to one’s well-being through lying or spiteful talking into one’s head. It does not matter whether one thinks here of the solemn testimony in court or of the ordinary statement about the other, as it happens in private conversation. We must always keep in mind the principle: out of the number of offenses meant here, one is set in a special way as an example to which the others are to be referred; this example, however, constitutes the offense that is especially conspicuous for its reprehensibility. We must, however, make the commandment more general and refer it also to the slander and false accusations with which we do wrong to our neighbor. For false testimony before a court is always perjury; but this, because it desecrates and injures God’s name, is already strictly forbidden in the third commandment! The right observance of this commandment consists, therefore, in the fact that the tongue should defend the truth and thereby serve the good reputation and the welfare of the neighbor. How reasonable this demand is, is immediately obvious. For the good name is worth more than all treasures; therefore it is as bad a crime to take away a man’s good reputation as to steal from him. But even money and goods are snatched from some people just as much by false testimony as by robbery and theft!

II,8,48 But it is astonishing with what carelessness this piece is generally sinned against, so that one can find only a few who are not noticeably afflicted with this vice. So great is the pleasure we take in the poisoned sweetness of seeking out and discovering the faults of others! But we should not imagine that it is an excuse that we very often do not lie in doing so. For God, who forbids to defile the good name of the brother with lies, also wants it to be preserved undefiled, as far as it is possible with truth. Certainly, he protects it expressly only against the lie; but with it he nevertheless gives to understand how important it is to him. But the fact that God wants to take care of the good name of our neighbor must be sufficient reason for us to leave it unharmed on our part. So here, without a doubt, all malicious gossip is forbidden. By malicious gossip, of course, I do not understand the rebuke that seeks to improve, nor the accusation in court or the judicial report that seeks to remedy the malice, nor the public reprimand that is intended to deter the rest of the wrongdoers, nor the public warning of a man’s malice to others whose welfare requires such warning, so that they do not come to harm in ignorance. Rather, I understand by malicious gossip the spiteful accusation that springs from malice and belittling. Furthermore, this commandment forbids us also the malicious jest and bitter mockery by which we spitefully ridicule the infirmities of others under the appearance of jesting – so it happens especially by people who would like to gain the reputation of a good companion for themselves out of other people’s blushes and sighs, while from such frivolity the brother is often put into bitter grief! Now, however, we should fix our eyes on the Lawgiver, who has his right to the ear and the heart just as he has to the tongue. Then it will become clear to us that we are forbidden to lend an ear greedily to slander, as well as to indulge ourselves in the sinful inclination of unfavorable judgment. For it would be a ridiculous opinion if one were to think that God hates the vice of evil speaking through the tongue, but is not hostile to unrighteousness in the heart! If it is really the case that we fear and love God, then we should also make every effort, as far as it is possible and useful and love can bear it, to lend neither tongue nor ears to malicious gossip and hurtful mockery, nor to give evil suspicion any room in our hearts. Rather, let us seek to understand other people’s words and deeds fairly and keep their good reputation pure in our judging, hearing and speaking. Tenth Commandment. Do not lust after your neighbor’s house …

II,8,49 First of all, the purpose of this commandment: God wants our whole heart to be filled with love towards our neighbor, and therefore all covetousness, which is directed against love, should be eradicated. Therefore, the main content will be that no inner impulse should arise in us that could drive us to harmful and neighbor-damaging covetousness. On the other hand, the commandment corresponds to this: in all our planning, thinking, wanting and striving, we should be concerned about our neighbor’s welfare and advantage. But obviously we are confronted here with a great and difficult question. For we have already said above that with adultery and stealing, which are expressly forbidden, we are also forbidden adulterous lust and the intention to harm or deceive our neighbor. So it might seem superfluous that we are now subsequently forbidden to lust after the goods of others. To untie this knot, we must distinguish between intent and desire. By intention, as we meant it in the explanation of the preceding commandments, is to be understood a resolution of will taken with deliberation; there lust has put the soul in fetters. But lust can also exist without such consideration and inner consent, namely when the heart is merely tickled and irritated by vain, perverse things. Thus, the Lord has commanded that the rule of love should rule in all wills, endeavors, and actions. Now, on the other hand, he commands that the inclinations of our mind should also be guided by this rule, so that they do not become evil and perverse and draw us inwardly in the wrong direction. So, just as the Lord has forbidden every inward inclination to anger, hatred, adultery, robbery, and lying, so now he also turns against attraction and lust.

II,8,50 God does not demand this inner righteousness from us without reason. For who will not consider it a righteous desire that our heart be filled with love with all its powers? And who will not consider it a bad infirmity if it deviates from the direction of love? Where does it come from that lusts spread in the heart, which bring harm to the brother, but from the fact that one loses sight of that goal and thinks only of oneself? If the heart were really completely taken up by love, such desires would find nowhere to start! So, where the wrong desire gains space, there must be space withdrawn from love to this extent! Now perhaps someone will object that it is not appropriate that unformed thoughts, which arise of their own accord in the mind and finally vanish again, should be condemned as desires, which have their seat in the heart. I answer: Here we are speaking of such unformed thoughts that arise in the mind, but at the same time attack and irritate the heart with evil desire. For the mind cannot desire without the heart being inflamed and rejoicing at the same time! God thus decrees that wondrous ardor of love which, according to his will, should not disturb even the slightest desire. He demands that marvelous readiness of the heart which cannot be stirred up even by the smallest sting against the commandment of love. Augustin first paved the way for me to this understanding, so that one does not think that my assertion is lacking in weighty sources. Although the Lord wants to forbid any evil desire, he gives as an example special things that especially captivate us under the deceptive appearance of pleasure; in this way he wants to leave nothing for our desire, if he nevertheless draws it away from the things that are able to excite it most madly. Thus the second table of the law holds out to us all that we owe to men for God’s sake; but on the contemplation of God alone hangs the whole essence of love. Therefore, all the duties that the second table imposes on us will be inculcated in vain if this instruction is not based on fear and reverence for God as a firm foundation. Whoever now accepts two commandments forbidding evil desire, senselessly tears apart, as the reader himself would see, even if I said nothing about it, what nevertheless belongs together. The fact that the expression "Do not let yourself be lusted after" occurs twice does not mean anything against it; for the house is considered first, and then everything that belongs to it, beginning with the woman. So obviously this whole context must be understood uniformly according to the right example of the Hebrew text. According to it, God commands in general that we should not touch everything that the other possesses, neither with injustice and greed, nor even with the slightest lust of our heart.

II,8,51 Now it is not difficult to say what the law as a whole wants: namely perfect righteousness; it wants to form man’s life according to the image of divine purity. For in the law, God has made His holy nature known so clearly that the one who would represent what is commanded with deeds would, as it were, be expressing God’s image! So Moses also says, in order to summarize the main content of the law to the Israelites: "Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord …" (Deut 10:12, 13). And every time he wanted to tell the people the most important thing about the law, he always shouted the same thing to them! The instruction of the law has the goal to connect us in holiness of life with our God and to let us – as Moses says in another place – cling to God (Lev 19,2). Thus perfect holiness consists of the two pieces already mentioned: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might" (Deut 6:5; 11:13; Calvin quotes in the 1st pers. plural) and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev 19:18). The decisive thing, however, is that our heart be completely filled with love for God. Love for our neighbor then flows out of this all by itself. This is also shown by the apostle: "The main sum of the commandment is love of a pure heart and of a good conscience and of undimmed faith" (1Tim 1:5). There, then, pure conscience and uncolored faith are placed, as it were, at the head, but that is to say, in a word: in the first place is true piety, and from it follows love! It is therefore erroneous to think that in the law we are given only the rudiments or beginnings of righteousness, with which men receive, as it were, new lessons, but are not yet led to the true goal of good works. For as the highest perfection one cannot demand more than Moses and Paul have expressed in the aforementioned sentences. Where then will a man go who is not satisfied with being instructed in the fear of God, in spiritual worship, in keeping the commandments, in following the right ways of the Lord, in purity of conscience, and in pure faith and love? Thus, that interpretation of the law which seeks and finds in its commandments all the duties of piety and love is confirmed as correct. Whoever, on the other hand, seeks in the Law only dry and immature beginnings, as if it only half taught the will of God, has not yet grasped anything of its true intention according to the testimony of the apostle.

II,8,52 Now Christ and the apostles, when mentioning the sum of the law, often pass over the first table; therefore many people fall into the foolish fancifulness, as if these words referred to both tables at the same time. For example, in Matthew Christ calls the main parts of the law judgment, mercy and faithfulness (Mt 23,23). By "faithfulness" now seems to me to be clearly understood the righteous disposition toward men. But if one wants to refer this saying to the whole law, then one understands by it the faithfulness against God. This is surely wrong; for Christ speaks of such works in which man is to prove himself visibly righteous. If we take this into account, we will no longer be surprised that he answered the young man’s question, "What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" (Mt 19,16) he alone gives the answer: "You shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor father and mother and you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt 19,18.19). For obedience to the first tablet of the Law consisted, after all, in the disposition of the heart or in the fulfillment of ceremonies. The heart attitude did not come into the visible, and the ceremonies also hypocrites practiced with great zeal; the works of love, on the other hand, are such that they prove the genuineness of our righteousness! This occurs so often in the prophets that it must be well known to a reader reasonably versed in them. For almost every time they exhort to repentance, they turn away from the first tablet and urge faithfulness, justice, mercy and equity. In doing so, they do not pass by the fear of God, but they want to see it confirmed by clear signs that the people are serious about it! As is well known, when the fulfillment of the law is mentioned, they insist mostly on the commandments of the second table, because here the striving for justice and purity comes most clearly into the light. I do not need to cite any passages on this, because everyone can make this observation himself.

II,8,53 Now someone might ask: is the blameless conduct among men really more useful for righteousness than the pious reverence for God? Certainly not! But since no one can easily maintain love in all things unless he seriously fears God, love can serve as proof of the fear of God. In addition, the Lord knows very well that none of our good deeds can reach Him – as the prophet testifies – and therefore He did not ask us to serve Himself, but to practice good deeds toward our neighbor (Ps 16:2; Vulgate). Therefore, the apostle also rightly seeks all the perfection of the saints in love (Eph 3:19; Col 3:14). It is also not absurd when he calls love "the fulfillment of the law", adding that he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law (Rom 13:8, 10). Thus he also says: "For all the laws are fulfilled in one word, in which: ’Love your neighbor as yourself’" (Gal 5:14). In this he brings no other teaching than Christ Himself: "Whatever therefore ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. This is the law and the prophets" (Mt 7,12). Certainly, in the Law and the Prophets, faith takes the first place and everything that belongs to God’s right worship, love follows only then as something subordinate. But the Lord understands it in such a way that in the law we are only prescribed to strive for justice and equity among men; in this we are to be trained to testify to our pious reverence for God, if it lives in us otherwise!

II,8,54 Let us therefore hold that our life is only then shaped according to the will of God and the precept of the law, when it proves to be rightly useful to our brothers in all things! In the whole law there is not one syllable in which man is given a rule about what he has to do or not to do for the benefit and piety of his own flesh! And truly, if men are already by nature more inclined to self-love than is right, and always hold on to it, however far they stray from the truth, no law was needed to inflame this already immoderate self-love even more! (cf. Augustine, On Christian Instruction I,23-25). Thus, as is perfectly clear, it is not our self-love, but love for God and neighbor that fulfills the commandments, and he lives best and most holy who lives least of all for himself and strives for himself, and on the other hand no one lives more in perversity and injustice than he who lives only for himself, strives for himself, thinks only of his own and seeks his own! To show us how much we should love our neighbor, the Lord points to our self-love, which is the strongest and most powerful instinct in us - and makes it the standard for our love for others! (Lev 19,18). Of course, one must be very careful what the Lord wants to say with this way of speaking; for he does not give first place to self-love and second place to love of neighbor, as some clever people have foolishly dreamed. He rather transfers the love instinct for ourselves, which we carry in us by nature, the self-love, to the others! The apostle also says: "Love does not seek its own" (1Cor 13:5). Not worth a hair’s breadth is also the sophistical argument that what is measured by a standard is always lower than this standard itself. For the Lord does not make our self-love a standard to which our love for others should be subjected, but he shows that the love that tends to remain with us out of natural depravity should now be bestowed on others, so that we are no less nimble, fervent and eager to do good to our neighbor than to ourselves!

II,8,55 Now Christ shows in the parable of the Good Samaritan that the expression "the neighbor" also includes the stranger (Lk 10:36); therefore we should not limit this commandment of loving our neighbor to our closest friendship and kinship. I admit, of course, that the closer we are to a person, the greater our obligation to stand by him in friendship. For it is in the nature of human kind that the more closely people are bound to each other by the ties of kinship, friendship, or neighborliness, the more they are obliged to do so. This does not imply any insult to God; for he has in his providence, as it were, imposed such obligations upon us. And yet I say: this love of ours must embrace all men together, without exception; here there is no distinction between non-Greeks and Greeks, worthy and unworthy, friend and foe; for we are to look at men in God, and not in and for themselves! If we give up this view, it is no wonder that we get entangled in all kinds of errors. If we want to find the right way in our love for our neighbor, we must not first turn our eyes to man, who, through what is before our eyes, would perhaps rather instill hatred than love, but to God, who wants us to pour out the love we bestow on him on all people. So let this be the constant foundation: Man may be as he likes, we are to love him because we love God!

II,8,56 Therefore it was an ignorance and wickedness like the plague that the scholastics made so-called "evangelical counsels" out of the commandment not to take revenge and to love the enemies, which was already known to the Jews in former times and has now been made known to all Christians together, which one can keep and also not keep, just as one likes! Only the monks should be bound to obey these "evangelical counsels", whose higher righteousness towards the ordinary Christians would already consist in the fact that they voluntarily committed themselves to the fulfillment of these "counsels"! The reason given for not accepting these "counsels" as laws is that they seem to be too great a burden and too heavy, especially for Christians who are under the law of grace! Isa this how one dares to dismiss God’s eternal law, which commands us to love our neighbor? Isa such a distinction (between "law" and "evangelical counsels") to be found in the law on a single sheet? Are we not confronted again and again with commandments that demand that we love our enemies in the strictest possible way? Or what does it mean when we are commanded to feed the hungry enemy (Prov 25:21), to lead his ox or donkey that goes astray back to the right path or to lighten his load when it becomes too heavy for him? (Ex 23:4, 5). Shall we do good to the beast of our enemy for his sake – and exclude him ourselves from our goodwill? Why, is it not the eternal word of the Lord: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay"? (Deut 32:35). This is made even clearer in another place: "You shall not avenge yourself, and you shall not bear a grudge for the wrong that your neighbor has done to you" (Lev 19:18). Such commandments must either be torn out of Scripture – or else one must acknowledge that the Lord gives us His law, and renounce the lie that He merely gave "advice"!

II,8,57 But what do the words mean, which one has tried to falsify with such inconsistent remarks? "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who insult and persecute you, bless those who curse you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven …"! (Mt 5,44.45). Who does not want to come to the conclusion with Chrysostom that such an important reason ("that you may be children …") is already a clear sign to see regulations and not admonitions here? (In the book De compunctione cordis I). For what remains for us if we are erased from the number of the children of God? But according to the Scholastic scholars, only the monks will really be children of God, only they may dare to call God their Father! But what should then the church still be? It will be possible to relegate it with the same right to the pagans and tax collectors! For Christ says: "If you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Do not the publicans do the same?" (Mt 5,46; Calvin says: "Gentiles and tax collectors"). We must be in a good way if we are left with only the empty name of a Christian, but the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven is snatched away from us! Augustine’s argument is no less convincing. He says: "If the Lord forbids adultery, he forbids us as much to touch the wife of an enemy as that of a friend; if he forbids theft, we should steal nothing from anyone, whether friend or foe!" (Of Christian Instruction I). So Paul also traces these two commandments "Thou shalt not steal" and "Thou shalt not commit adultery" back to the commandment of love and says that they are also contained in the commandment: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Rom 13,9). So Paul must be an inverted interpreter of the law – or else the commandment to love enemies as friends is really included here! Whoever so wantonly throws off the yoke that is laid on the children of God, really proves himself to be a child of Satan! One can only doubt whether more stupidity or more impudence has led the word in the raising of this dogma. For the ancients all without exception pronounced it as a certain and indisputable conviction that these are pure commandments! It has not, as is evident from Gregory’s own clear affirmation, been disputed even in his own time; he, at any rate, without mentioning any difference of opinion in the matter, speaks of precepts. What a foolish argument, too, the scholastics put forward! They say that these things are too heavy a yoke for a Christian man. As if one could think of anything heavier than this, one should love God with all one’s heart, soul and strength! In view of this commandment, everything must seem easy, even the love of enemies and the removal of all vengefulness from our inner being! For us in our weakness, everything is certainly too heavy, even the smallest tittle of the law! But it is the Lord who makes us strong: he must give what he commands – and then he may command what he wills (Augustin). The fact that the Christian man is under the law of grace does not mean that he runs around arbitrarily without law, but that he is implanted in Christ, whose grace makes him free from the curse of the law and whose spirit writes the law into his heart! Paul called this grace a law (e.g. Rom 8,2); he puts it in relation to the law of God, to which he compares it. The scholastics, however, are playing with the word "law" in a futile way!

II,8,58 It is no better that the scholastics call the hidden ungodliness, which is contrary to the first table of the law, and also the open transgression of the last commandment (i.e. the evil desire) a "venial" sin (peccatum veniale). They represent the matter in such a way that it is a desire without determined inner affirmation, which does not remain long in the heart. I, on the other hand, am convinced that such a desire cannot arise in the heart without violating the requirements of the law. Thus we are forbidden to have other gods. Now if our soul, embattled by the deceitfulness of unbelief, looks around for the other side, and then suddenly the inclination creeps upon it to build its salvation on something else (than on God alone) – whence can such a foolish impulse come but from the fact that there is still room in our heart open to such temptations? We do not want to prolong the proof; in short, we have the commandment: "Thou shalt love God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind"; now, if our heart is not completely directed with all its powers to love God, this already means a deviation from obedience to the law. For the enemies that stir in our conscience to overthrow God’s rule and to circumvent His commandments already prove that God’s throne is not yet firm enough in them! As we have shown, this is precisely what the tenth commandment refers to. A strong desire arises in our heart: already we are guilty of evil desire and obviously transgressors of the law! For the Lord not only forbids us to think about or to do something to the detriment of our neighbor, but He forbids us every stimulation and upsurge of lust! But on the transgression of the law always lies God’s curse! That is why we have no reason whatsoever to avoid the death sentence of God on these slightest impulses of desire. Augustin says: "In contemplating sin, we are not to make use of any deceptive scales, on which we then weigh what we want and how we want, according to our own discretion, nor are we to say: ’this is heavy’ – ’this is light’ no, we are to take from the Holy Scriptures, as it were from the Lord’s own treasury, the right, divine scales, and then weigh what is heavier – no, not even weigh, but acknowledge as the Lord has weighed it!" (Of Baptism, Against the Donatists II,6). But how does it stand in Scripture (with that supposed distinction into heavier and lighter sins)? Paul says: "Death is the wages of sin" – and thus testifies that at least he is not aware of this reprehensible distinction! After all, we are all too inclined to hypocrisy, and therefore no padding was really necessary to put our dull conscience to sleep even more!

II,8,59 If one would only pay attention to what Christ wants to say when He says: "Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5,19)! Does this not include those who dare to belittle the transgression of the law as if it were not worthy of death? One should consider not simply what is commanded, but who is commanding; for even in the slightest transgression of the law he has given us, his authority is violated! Do those people simply not care whether God’s majesty is violated in any way? This is also to be considered: if God has made his will known to us in his law, then everything that is contrary to the law is also contrary to him! But does one want to think that God’s wrath is so weaponless that the transgression would not have to be followed by the death penalty? Also he himself – if one still wants to listen to his word and not rather distort his pure truth with senseless subtleties! – clearly enough: "Every soul that sins shall die!" (Eze 18,20). Or also, as I already mentioned above: "Death is the wages of sin" (Rom 6,23). But the smart ones admit the sin, because they cannot deny it – but that it brings death, they want to deny! I mean, now they would have frolicked enough – and now they should finally become wise! But if they want to go on with their madness, we do not want to care about them any more. In any case, the children of God should hold on to the fact that all sin leads to death, because it is rebellion against God’s will, which necessarily provokes His wrath, and because it is transgression of His law, on which God’s judgment stands without exception! But that the transgressions of the saints are "venial" has its reason not in these transgressions themselves, but in God’s mercy, which grants them forgiveness!

Chapter Nine

Christ was already known to the Jews under the law, but he only appears to us clearly in the gospel.

II,9,1 It is not in vain that God wanted to testify Himself as Father in the old times by purifications and sacrifices; it is not in vain that He took His chosen people as His own. For he undoubtedly made himself known already then in the same image in which he now appears to us in full splendor! We can see this in Malachi. First he commands the Jews to keep the law of Moses and to keep it with zeal – for after his death the office of prophet was to cease for a time! But then he announces that soon "the sun of righteousness will rise" (Mal 4:2 = 3:20). Thereby he testifies that the law proves its power to keep the pious in the expectation of the coming of Christ, but that by Christ’s coming a much brighter light will rise. Peter also says that the prophets had diligently searched for salvation, which has now been revealed to them, but that such a message was made known to them, which they were not to pronounce for themselves or for their age, but for us, and which after all means what is proclaimed to us in the gospel! (1Pet 1:10.12). Certainly, their teaching was not without benefit for the people of the Old Covenant, nor did it remain without effect on them; but they themselves did not receive the precious jewel that God gave us through their hand! For today that grace of which they testified comes near before our eyes; and while they had only a small foretaste of it, we may enjoy it more abundantly. Thus Christ Himself also assured us that according to the measure of grace we stand high above the Jews – although He Himself also says that Moses bore witness of Him! (John 5,46). For he calls out to his disciples: "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see; blessed are the ears that hear what you hear. For many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it; and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it" (Mt 13:16, 17; Lk 10:23, 24). This is certainly no small praise of the revelation in the gospel when God even places us above the holy fathers, who were distinguished by their special fear of God. On the other hand, Christ also says: "Abraham saw my day – and rejoiced! (John 8,56), does not contradict this in any way. For even if it was only a dim, unclear view into the far distance, there was nevertheless the certainty of real hope; hence also came the joy that accompanied the holy archfather until death! Even the words of John the Baptist: "No one has ever seen God, but the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared it to us" (John 1:18), do not exclude the pious, who had died before, from the fellowship of knowledge and enlightenment, as both shine out to us in the person of Christ! He compares our situation with theirs and shows how the mysteries, which they only glimpsed in the shadows, are now revealed to us. In a similar way, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews expresses it very beautifully: "After God spoke in the past sometimes and in various ways… through the prophets, he has spoken to us in the last… spoke to us through the Son!" (Hebr 1:1-2). For this only begotten, who is for us today the "radiance of glory" and "the image of the being" of God (Hebr 1:3), was once also made known to the Jews; he was, as we have already noted from Paul, the leader also of the old covenant people into freedom! (we are probably thinking of 1Cor 10:4). And yet it also remains true what the same Paul says in another place: "God, who caused the light to shine out of darkness, has given a bright light to our hearts, that through us may come the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2Cor 4:6). For in that God appeared in this His image, He became visible, as it were, whereas before His image had been dark and shadowy! But it is all the more evil and abominable when nowadays people in their ingratitude stand there blind in broad daylight! Paul also says that the "mind" of these people has been "blinded" by Satan, so that they do not see the glory of Christ, although it shines out to us without any curtain in the gospel! (2Cor 4:4).

III,9,2 By the gospel, then, I understand the clear revelation of the mystery of Christ. Since Paul calls the gospel the "doctrine of faith" (1Tim 4:6), I admit that the gospel also includes those promises of the forgiveness of sins by free grace, which occur again and again in the law, through which God reconciles men to Himself. For Paul contrasts faith with the fear that corners and torments the conscience when man is supposed to earn salvation by his own works. Therefore, "gospel" in a broader sense includes all the testimonies of divine mercy and fatherly kindness that God once gave to the fathers; but in a special way "gospel" denotes the revelation of the grace offered to us in Christ; not only does the general use of the word speak for this, but it is based on the authority of Christ and His apostles (Mt 4:17-23; 9:35). That is why the Lord is said to have preached the "gospel of the kingdom" to designate his special profession. And Mark begins his gospel with the heading: "Beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ" (Mark 1:1). It is also not necessary to list further passages: the matter is too well known. Thus, according to Paul, Christ in His coming "brought life and incorruptible nature to light through the gospel" (2Tim 1:10). Paul does not mean that the fathers were in darkness and the shadow of death until the incarnation of the Son of God. But he wants to point out the great advantages of the gospel and explains that it was a new and until then unknown message in which God fulfilled His promise, so that in the person of the Son the truth of the promise came to light. Certainly the believers at all times experienced the truth of Paul’s word: "All God’s promises are Yes in Him and Amen in Him" (2Cor 1:20); for the promises were sealed in their hearts. But he has accomplished in his flesh all things that pertain to our salvation, and therefore the announcement of the matter itself had to be made in a special message. Hence the word of Christ: "From now on you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man" (John 1:51). In this he seems to allude to that ladder which was once shown in the face to the arch-father Jacob, but he nevertheless indicates the special glory of his coming with the remark that he has opened the gate of heaven for us, so that we may have free access!!

II,9,3 But here we must beware of the diabolical delusion of Servet; he wants to exalt the greatness of Christ’s grace tremendously, at least pretends to want it – and therefore completely dismisses all promises as if they had reached their end together with the law. He claims that with faith in the gospel we are granted the fulfillment of all promises. As if there is no difference between us and Christ! Certainly, I myself have emphasized above that Christ has acquired our salvation so completely for us that nothing is left. But it would be wrong to conclude from this that we are now already in full possession of the benefits given to us by Him – as if the word of Paul is wrong, according to which all our blessedness is hidden in hope (Rom 8,24; Col 3,3)! Certainly, through faith in Christ we pass from death to life; but we must not overlook the words of John: "We are now the children of God, but it has not yet appeared what we shall be. But we know that when it shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is" (1Jn 3:2). Christ, then, certainly offers us the present fullness of all spiritual goods in the gospel; but the enjoyment of these goods remains ever under the watch of hope until we strip off this corruptible flesh and are changed into the glory of our Lord who has gone before us! In the meantime, we are to hold fast to the promises according to the instruction of the Holy Spirit – and His authority is more to us than all the barking of that unclean dog! For according to Paul’s testimony, "godliness" has the "promise of this life and of the life to come" (1 Tim. 4:8). And therefore Paul also calls himself an apostle of Christ "according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus" (2Tim 1:1). In another place (2Cor 7:1; cf. 6:16-18!) he reminds us that we have the same promises as they were once given to the fathers! And finally, he sums up all our blessedness in the fact that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit of promise" (Eph 1:13). We can have a share in Christ only to the extent that we grasp him in his promises! Thus it comes about that he himself dwells in our heart – and yet we "walk far from the Lord"; "for we walk by faith and not by sight!" (2Cor 5:7). These two things, that we have in Christ everything that belongs to the perfection of heavenly life – and that faith is nevertheless a seeing of goods that are not seen (cf. Hebr 11:1), do not fit together badly. But we have to notice the difference in the nature and the kind of the promises: for the gospel points with the finger to that which the law shows us only shadowy under models!

II,9,4 From here also the error can be refuted that law and gospel are exclusively contrasted as works righteousness and graciously imputed righteousness. This juxtaposition is in no way reprehensible; Paul often understands by the law that guideline for life in which God demands of us what is due to him, gives us hope for life only if we are obedient in all things, and on the other hand threatens us with a curse if we deviate in the slightest; These are the passages in which Paul speaks of how we obtain God’s pleasure by pure grace and are declared righteous in forgiving mercy, because there can be no question of such keeping of the law, to which the reward is promised! So it is quite appropriate when Paul contrasts the righteousness from the law and the righteousness from the gospel (e.g. Rom 3,21 ss.; Gal 3). But the gospel does not take the place of the law in such a way that it opens another way to salvation, but it should rather authenticate the promises of the law and put them into effect, add the body itself to the shadow! When Christ says: "The law and the prophets prophesied until John" ( Mt 11:13; Lk 16:16), he does not deliver the fathers to the curse, which the servants of the law cannot escape, but he only shows that they were still in the beginning and therefore did not reach the height of the teaching of the gospel. Therefore Paul also calls the gospel a "power of God that saves everyone who believes in it" (Rom 1,16) and adds not long after that this gospel was "testified by the law and the prophets" (Rom 3:21). And at the end of the letter to the Romans he calls the "preaching of Jesus Christ" a revelation of the "mystery that was hidden from the world" (Rom 16:25), but then he adds for explanation: "also made known through the writings of the prophets"! (Rom 16:26). From this it is clear that in comparison with the whole law the gospel only stands out because of its clearer testimony; however, because of the inestimable riches of grace that is offered to us in Jesus Christ, it is not without reason that God’s heavenly kingdom is established on earth through His coming!

II,9,5 Between Law and Gospel stands John the Baptist; his ministry stands in the middle, and it has kinship with both! On the one hand, he calls Christ "God’s lamb, who bears the sin of the world", and thus expresses the main content of the gospel. But on the other hand, he has not yet proclaimed the infinite power and glory that was shown in Christ’s resurrection, and therefore Christ does not put him on the same level as the apostles (Mt 11:11). For this is the meaning of the Lord’s words, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Among all that are born of women there hath not arisen one greater than John the Baptist-but he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he!" He does not praise the person of men here; rather, he first places John above all the prophets, yet then elevates the proclamation of the Gospel to the very highest place; after all, it is otherwise called "the kingdom of heaven"! John himself occasionally says that he is only a "voice" (John 1-23); it seems as if he puts himself under the prophets; but he does not do this out of pretended humility, but he wants to show that he has no message of his own, but that he only has the office of a forerunner, as Malachi had prophesied: "Behold, I send the prophet Elijah, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes" (Mal 4:5 – 3:23). In his whole ministry he does nothing but prepare disciples for Christ! And he also proves himself from the prophet (Isa 40:3) that God assigned this to him as his profession. In this sense Christ calls him "a burning and beautiful light" (John 5:35) – because the full day had not yet risen! Nevertheless, he can be counted without hesitation among the preachers of the Gospel; he also practiced the same baptism that was later given to the apostles. But what he began, was only later, after Christ’s admission into the heavenly glory, completed by the apostles in freer progress!

Tenth chapter

About the similarity of the Old and New Testament.

II,10,1 As is already evident from the foregoing, all men whom God chose as His people from the beginning of the world have been united to Him under the same law and by the same bond of doctrine, as they are still in force among us. But it is very important to hold fast to this main point of doctrine, and therefore I will deal with the following question in more detail by way of an appendix: The fathers, after all, were partakers with us of the same inheritance, and expected salvation from the grace of the same Mediator as we do – but how did their condition in that ancient covenant differ from ours? The evidence we have given from the Law and the Prophets could show that the standard of piety among God’s people has never changed. But the difference between the Old and the New Testament is often and much written in the ecclesiastical writers, and this might cause all sorts of inconvenience to a less clear-sighted reader; therefore, we will thoroughly consider these things, as is expedient, in a special section. This would be quite useful anyway; but that strange fool Servet, and some other wild-eyed enthusiasts from the Anabaptist sect, make it an unavoidable necessity; for these people think of the people of Israel no differently from a herd of swine fattened by the Lord, as they mockingly pretend, without all hope of eternal life! This pernicious error we want to keep away from the pious; we also want to remove all the difficulties that tend to arise immediately with the assumption of a difference between Old and New Testament, and therefore we want to see in passing what Old and New Testament have similar and what they have different in them, what kind of covenant the Lord once made with the Israelites before the coming of Christ, and what kind of covenant he has now made with us after the revelation of Christ in the flesh!

II,10,2 Both can now actually be made clear in short words. The covenant with the fathers cannot be distinguished from ours in essence and substance, but is one and the same. What is different, however, is the outward presentation. But from such a short sentence no one can gain a clear insight, and therefore, if our investigation is to be of any use, we must necessarily enter into a more detailed discussion. However, in order to prove the similarity or rather the unity of the two Testaments, it will be superfluous to repeat the individual remarks that we have already made; nor is it good to interfere in this argument with things that are to be brought up elsewhere. There are three main points to be considered here. First, we must note that the Jews were not given carnal well-being and happiness as a goal to strive for. Rather, they have been adopted as children for the hope of immortal life, and faith in this adoption has been made a certainty to them by revelation, law, and prophecy. Secondly, the covenant to which the Lord reconciled them to Himself was in no way based on their merit, but solely on the mercy of God who called them! And thirdly: they had and recognized Christ as their mediator, through whom they entered into fellowship with God and became partakers of His promises. The second part has not yet been made sufficiently clear and will therefore be treated in detail in its place. Then we will have the proof from many and clear testimonies of the prophets that everything the Lord ever did and promised to his people was done out of pure goodness and mercy. The third has already come to light here and there, and we have not left the first untouched either.

II,10,3 But because the first point is of great importance in our context, and because many a dispute arises from it for us, we want to make a special effort to solve the questions arising from it; of course, at the same time we should also note what is still necessary for the explanation of the other two pieces; we will add this occasionally. Paul removes the doubt of all three pieces at the same time with his word: God the Father promised the gospel of His Son, which He revealed in His time, "beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures" (Rom 1:2). Also Rom 3:21: The righteousness of faith, which the gospel itself proclaims, is "revealed and testified through the law and the prophets". The gospel does not stop the heart of man with the pleasures of earthly life, but encourages it to hope in immortality; it does not bind us to earthly pleasures, but proclaims to us the hope that is laid up for us in heaven, and transfers us there, as it were! This is how Paul describes it in another place: "…by whom also, believing, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the pledge of our inheritance unto our redemption, that we should be His own" (Eph 1:13f). Or also: "Having heard of your faith in Jesus Christ, and of the love of all the saints, because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which ye heard beforehand by the word of truth in the gospel" (Col 1:4f). Or: "…into which He called you through our gospel to share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Thess 2:14; not Luther’s text, but more correct than this). Therefore, the gospel is also called a "word of salvation" or "a power of God to save those who believe in it" or the "kingdom of heaven." But if the teaching of the gospel is spiritual, and if it opens the way to incorruptible life, we must not think that the ancients, to whom it was also promised and proclaimed, now lived like cattle, putting aside and disregarding every concern for the soul, and had in mind only to prepare a good life for the body! Here no one should object that the promises concerning the gospel, which are laid down in the law and in the prophets, are meant for the people of the New Covenant. For Paul declares shortly after that passage in which he spoke of the promise of the gospel, "But we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law!" (Rom 3:19). Certainly he does this for the purpose of a completely different proof; but now Paul was not so forgetful that he would have forgotten what he had said before (Rom 1:2 – then afterwards 3:21) about the promise of the gospel in the law when he wrote down this verse, in which he thus lets the law with its whole teaching apply in reality to the Jews! Thus, according to Paul’s clear testimony, the Old Testament especially pointed to the life to come; for indeed he says it contains the promises of the gospel!

II,10,4 In the same way it can now be seen that the Old Covenant was based on God’s free mercy and was confirmed by Christ’s mediatorship. For the proclamation of the Gospel also makes it known to us that the sinner is justified only by God’s fatherly kindness and without all his own merit; and the whole content of this fatherly kindness of God is decided in Christ! But who will dare to deny the knowledge of Christ to the Jews, with whom, after all, the covenant of the gospel has been made, the sole ground of which is Christ? Who will exclude them from the benefit of the salvation that comes to us by grace, since the doctrine of the righteousness of faith has been given to them? We need not dwell long on this matter, which is clear in itself, for we have the Lord’s own testimony: "Abraham was glad that he should see my day, and he saw it and rejoiced" (John 8:56). And what Christ says here about Abraham, according to the testimony of the apostle, applied to the people of the faithful in general: "Jesus Christ, yesterday and today and the same forever" (Hebr 13:8). For he does not simply speak of Christ’s eternal deity in this passage, but of his power, which has revealed itself to believers at all times. That is why the Virgin Mary (beata virgo) and Zacharias also express it in their hymns of praise, how in the revelation of salvation in Christ the promises are redeemed, which the Lord once granted to Abraham and the Archfathers! (Lk 1:54 f. 1:72 f.). If the Lord, through the revelation of His Christ, redeemed His oath sworn to the fathers, it must be confessed that Christ and eternal life have always been the goal!

II,10,5 According to Paul, the Jews not only share in the same covenant grace as we do, but they have also already been given the same covenant signs (sacraments). Then Paul wants to deter the Corinthians from falling into the same misdeeds by citing those punishments with which the Israelites were once chastised according to the account of Scripture; to this end he begins as follows: We would have no reason at all to take advantage of any privilege, by virtue of which we could escape the punishment of God that once fell upon Israel, for the Lord would have bestowed upon them the same benefits and would also have shown them the glory of His grace through the same signs of the covenant (1Cor 10:1, 11). With this he wants to say: If you think you are out of danger because you are sealed by baptism and receive the Lord’s Supper every day, and yet glorious promises lie on both, and if you meanwhile shamefully despise God’s goodness and carelessly let yourselves go, know that the Jews also had such holy signs – and that the Lord nevertheless executed his judgments on them in terrible severity! They received baptism as they passed through the sea, and through the cloud that kept them from the blaze of the sun. It is said that this passage through the sea was a carnal baptism, resembling our spiritual baptism only in a certain respect. But if this were true, Paul’s proof would not succeed, for he wants to show that the Christian cannot claim any privilege over the Jews on the basis of his baptism. This objection is also opposed by the following: "For they have eaten with us the same spiritual food and drunk the same spiritual drink" – by which the apostle understands Christ! (1Cor 10:3,4).

II,10,6 In order to take away the evidential force of this saying of Paul, one cites the word of Christ: "Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness and died. But whoever eats my flesh … will not die forever" (John 6,49.54). But these two quotations (1Cor 10 and John 6) can be brought together without any effort. The Lord is dealing with people who thought they could be satisfied only by the bodily food and did not care about the food for the soul. He adapts his speech to their understanding and compares the manna with his body to make it comprehensible to them. They asked him to prove his authority by a miracle, as Moses had done in the desert, when he begged the manna from heaven. But by the manna they understood only the means against the carnal hunger, which at that time was a challenge to the people; they did not notice the higher secret, which Paul saw behind it. Now Christ wants to show them that they should expect a much more glorious benefit from him than the one that Moses had once shown to the fathers according to their words – and for this purpose he now uses this comparison. "If, according to you, it was already a great and memorable miracle that the Lord, in order not to let his people perish in the wilderness, gave them through Moses this food from heaven, on which they could now subsist for a time – think how much more glorious must be the food that leads to eternal life!" Now we see why the Lord does not even mention the most important thing about the manna here and only mentions its least benefit! It happened because the Jews, in order to try him, held up Moses as an example, who had come to the aid of the people in their distress with the manna: now the Lord answers that a much more glorious benefit was entrusted to him than the carnal education of the people, which was much less – and yet which alone they respected so highly! Paul, on the other hand, was convinced (in contrast to Jesus’ hearers) that the Lord had not only wanted to feed the body with the manna which he rained down from heaven, but had distributed it as a spiritual mystery, in order to indicate the spiritual vitalization which had taken place in Christ; and therefore he did not pass over this meaning of the manna, which is particularly worthy of contemplation. From this, however, it clearly follows that the Lord not only bestowed upon the Jews the same promises of eternal and heavenly life of which he dignifies us today, but that these promises also received their sealing through the same truly spiritual sacraments. – Augustine wrote about this in detail against the Manichaean Faustus.

II,10,7 But perhaps the reader would like to hear testimonies from the Law and the Prophets, in order to see from them that the Fathers also had a share in the spiritual covenant – as Christ and the Apostles already testified to us. I will gladly comply with this request – all the more gladly, as I can refute my opponents even more surely in this way, so that they no longer have any excuse. I want to begin with a proof which will seem insufficient and downright ridiculous to the Anabaptists in their hopefulness, but which will certainly hold its own with reasonable and unprejudiced people: I take it for granted that the word of God has such an inherent vitality that it makes all those to whom God gives a share of it inwardly alive! For it has always been acknowledged what Peter writes, who calls it an "incorruptible seed" that "abides forever" (1Pet 1:23). He also proves this from the words of Isaiah (Isa 40:6). Since God once united the Jews with Himself through this holy bond (namely the word!), He undoubtedly chose them for the hope of eternal life! By the word which they received and which brought them closer to God, I understand the way in which God communicates Himself to us – not that general way which fills all creatures in heaven and on earth, which animates everything according to its kind, but does not yet secure it from corruption, but that particular way which inwardly enlightens the pious to the knowledge of God and, as it were, gives them fellowship with Him. This word made Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham and the other fathers cling to God, and therefore they undoubtedly had access to God’s eternal kingdom! For they truly had fellowship with God, and this is unthinkable without the share of eternal life.

II,10,8 But this is perhaps not yet clear enough; well, let us now look at the form of the covenant itself; which will not only fully satisfy the understanding readers, but will also bring to light the folly of those who so readily contradict! For when the Lord made a covenant with his servants, it was always in the way: "I will be your God, and you shall be my people" (Lev 26:12) – and also the prophets have shown again and again that in these words is contained life, salvation and highest happiness! For it is not without reason when David exclaims several times: "Blessed are the people, whose God is the Lord!" (Ps 144:15), "Blessed is the people whom he has chosen for an inheritance!" (Ps 33:12) – and this not because of earthly prosperity, but because he snatches those whom he has accepted as his people out of death, protects them forever and showers them with eternal mercy. So we hear it also in other prophets: "You are our God and you will not let us die" (Hab. 1:12; not Luther text). Or: "The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our master, the Lord is our king, he helps us!" (Isa 33:22). Or: "Blessed are you, Israel … that you may be saved by the Lord!" (Deut 33:29). But it would be superfluous to pile up more and more proofs; therefore I do not want to struggle with it any further. Again and again the prophets remind us that we are not lacking in anything good, even in the certainty of salvation, if only the Lord is our God. And rightly so. For his holy face, if he only lets it shine, is a sure guarantee of salvation. And how then shall a man, to whom he has revealed himself as his God, not also have access to all treasures? If God is our God, he wants to dwell among us, as he testified through Moses (Lev 26:12). But one cannot participate in such presence of God without having life at the same time! And if nothing else had been said to them, they would still have had a full promise of spiritual life in the one word: "I am your God" (Ex 6:7). For he did not give himself as God for our body alone, but in a special way for the soul; but this would have to remain far from him, in death, if he did not unite it to himself in righteousness! But if this union is there, it brings eternal salvation with it!

II,10,9 Furthermore, God did not only proclaim to the fathers of the Old Covenant that he was their God, but that he would always remain so! Their hope was not to be satisfied with the present goods, but to reach out for eternity! That they correctly understood this promise of God into the future is shown by many words in which the faithful comfort themselves not only in the present misfortune but also for all the future that God will never leave them. Yes, he himself still – and this is the second part of the promise! – in the certainty that his blessing would go beyond the limits of life: "I will be your God and your seed after you!" (Gen 17:7; actually singular). So God wanted to give them the assurance that he would still show them his benefits after their death, by blessing the descendants; but then much less could they themselves lack his goodness! For God is not like men: they turn their love to the children of their friends because the death of these friends renders them incapable of showing them their benevolence. But God is not hindered in his benevolence by death, and he does not deprive the dead of the fruit of his mercy, which he extends to a thousand generations for their sake! (Ex 20:6). He wanted to show them the greatness and the richness of his goodness, which they should still feel after their death, by giving the promise that it should also include their descendants! The truth of this promise the Lord has sealed and just presented as fulfilled, when he called himself the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" long after the death of the archfathers (Ex 3:6). Now wouldn’t that be a quite ridiculous assurance if these men had ceased to be? After all, it would then be just as if he had said, "I am the God of those who are not!" Therefore, according to the account of the evangelists, Christ was able to convict the Sadducees with this one example, so that they could no longer deny that Moses had already testified to the resurrection of the dead! (Mt 22:23-32; Lk 20:27-38). They also knew from Moses: "All his saints are in your hand! (Deut 33:3). As we see clearly here, not even death can extinguish those whom He has taken into His protection, His care, His watch, who is the Lord over life and death!

II,10,10 Now we come to the pivotal point of the whole investigation. We have to decide the question whether the believers themselves were instructed by the Lord to such an extent that they knew about another life, so that they disdained the earthly and directed their thoughts and aspirations to this other life. First of all, the way of life that God had prescribed for them was a perpetual test for them, which taught them very well that they would be the most miserable beings if they had sought their happiness in this life alone. Adam was already the most miserable man by the mere memory of the lost happiness; hard and laborious was the work with which he had to eke out his life; but not only on the work of his hands rested the heavy burden of God’s curse (Gen 3:17), no, just from where he could have expected some comfort, came the heaviest heartache. Of his two sons, terrible fratricide snatched one away from him (Gen 4:8), and the other, who remained, caused him grief and disgust at the mere sight of him! Abel, whom in the bloom of years cruel misdeed stretches out, is just an example of human misery and decrepitude. And Noah spent a good part of his life in laborious work to build the ark, while around him the whole world lived unconcernedly their joys (Gen 6:22). That he escaped death brought him more hardship and toil than if he had succumbed to death a thousand times over! For his ark was virtually a grave for him for ten months – and then he also found himself in a truly painful situation in the midst of the mischief of the animals. Hardly has he escaped this distress, when new sorrow comes upon him: his own son exercises his ill-will against him, and he himself must pronounce the curse upon him, although by God’s great goodness he has rescued him from the flood in one piece! (Gen 9:24f.).

II,10,11 Abraham can be more valid to us than many thousands, if we look to his faith, which is before us as the highest example: and we must, in order to be children of God, belong to his lineage (Gen 12:3). What would be more absurd than to call Abraham the "father of all believers" and then not even assign him the lowest place among them? He cannot be ousted from the number of believers, even from his high place of honor among them, without destroying the whole church. But what was his life like? When God’s command called him, he was torn out of his fatherland, out of his kinship, out of the circle of his friends, i.e. out of what seems to be most delicious to man in life – just as if the Lord had deliberately wanted to deprive him of all joy of life! And no sooner is he in the land where he is to dwell than a famine drives him out again. He takes refuge in a land where he has to give away his own wife to stay alive himself (Gen 12,11 ss.) – and that was probably more bitter than multiple deaths! No sooner has he returned to the land that was assigned to him as his dwelling place than he is once again driven away by a famine! And what blessedness is it to have to live in a country where one can suffer hunger so often, even die of hunger, if one does not flee? – And there he comes with Abimelech again into the same terrible misery to have to solve his life with the loss of his wife. He wanders unsteadily through many years in the country, until the incessant quarreling of the shepherds forces him to separate from his nephew, who was like a son to him. And he certainly felt this parting as if a limb had been cut off from his body! Shortly thereafter he hears that enemies have carried him off! Wherever he wanders – everywhere he finds raw and savage neighbors, who even want to deny him the water from the wells he has laboriously hewn out by himself! For he would not have bought the right to it from the king of Gerar by contract, if it had not been denied to him before. He has already reached an old age, and he must fear to experience what is the most disgusting and bitter thing in such an old age: to stand there without children! Then, against all hope, Ishmael is born to him. But this brings him new sorrow; for Sarah reproaches him bitterly, as if he had nourished the pride of the maid and thereby disturbed the peace of the house himself! Finally Isaac is born, but this leads again to the expulsion of the firstborn Ishmael, who is virtually driven out as an outcast for his sake. Then only Isaac is left to him, the joy of the pious man in his old days. And there he receives the order to sacrifice this very Isaac! What could be more terrible than that a father should kill his own child? If a disease had carried him off, everybody would have pitied the old man as the most miserable of all men, to whom a son had been given as a mockery to double the pain of childlessness! If he had been killed by someone else’s hand, this misdeed would have increased his grief manifold. But that now the father should bring him to death with his own hand – this exceeds all examples of misery and sorrow! Thus misery plagued and maltreated him during his whole life, and if someone wanted to paint a particularly sad existence, he would have the most suitable reproach here. Let no one object that Abraham was not so unhappy, because he happily passed through all these storms and escaped them! For he who has to struggle with endless difficulties for such a long time cannot be considered as one who led a happy life; this could only be said of a man who can enjoy the earthly good in peace without contact with evil!

II,10,12 Isaac was less afflicted by temptations; but even he had hardly a slight foretaste of earthly happiness. For he has had to go through torments that do not allow a man to find happiness on earth. He too is driven out of the land of Canaan by hunger, his wife is torn from his bosom, his neighbors trouble him and harm him in all kinds of ways, so that he even has to fight over the drinking water. At home, his daughters-in-law cause him much heartache (Gen 26:34f.). The quarrels of his sons cause him great grief, and this evil can only be remedied by sending the son whom he has blessed abroad! (Gen 28:1, 5). And now Jacob is even the archetype of the most terrible misery. His youth is restless at home – under the threat of the firstborn brother, which finally forces him to flee. Thus he was a fugitive, and it is already bitter enough to have to live far from parents and fatherland; but with his uncle, Laban, he is by no means received more kindly and humanely. The fact that he does such hard and rough service for seven years (Gen 29:20) would be nothing if he were not cheated out of his wife with evil cunning! So he has to go into service again for the sake of the second wife, and there, according to his own complaint, the sun burns him with its heat during the day, and the cold torments him sleeplessly at night! (Gen 31:40). Twenty years he bears this hard life, and every day his father-in-law allows himself new injustices against him. Even at home he has no peace: his wives tear apart and destroy his entire household with hatred, strife and jealousy. Then he receives the order to return home. But his departure looks more like a despicable flight; and his father-in-law pushes the injustice against him so far that he torments him with reproaches even in the middle of the way! (Gen 31:23). But soon he is threatened with even greater distress. For he goes to meet his brother – and he sees death many times before his eyes, because Esau in his cruelty and his hatred threatens him many times. Fear and anxiety makes his heart heavy as long as he waits for the coming of his brother (Gen 32:12). And when he confronts him, he falls at his feet as if half dead – until he realizes that Esau is more willing to reconcile than he dared to hope! But then Rachel, his only beloved wife, is snatched away from him by death as soon as he enters the land (Gen 35:16-20), and then he soon receives the message that the son Rachel gave him, whom he loved more than all the others, has been torn apart by a wild beast (Gen 37:32). He himself tells us how terrible his grief was over the death of his son: he wept for him for a long time and would not be comforted, nor did he have anything else in mind but to "go down with sorrow into the pit to his son". Meanwhile, one of his daughters takes the honor (Gen 34:2), and his sons take cruel revenge on the offender. Thus the father now comes into disrepute with all inhabitants of the country, and the violent deed of the sons threatens to plunge him himself into misfortune! What fear and distress and heartache all this causes him! Then he experiences the outrageous outrage of his firstborn son Reuben – most terrible shame! (Gen 35:22). For it is terrible in itself to see one’s own wife dishonored – but what can one say when one’s own son commits such sacrilege? But soon after, new blood dishonor sullies the family (Gen 38:18); even a man whom all hardship could not otherwise have bent and bent would have to collapse under so much shame! And towards the end of his life, when he wants to remedy the hunger of his own, a new message of misfortune strikes him to the ground: the one son lies in fetters – and in order to get him back, he shall leave his favorite Benjamin in the hands of strangers! (Gen 42:34). How should he have breathed a moment’s cheerful sigh in so much sorrow and distress? He himself is the best witness to this: he assures Pharaoh: "little and evil is the time of my life" (Gen 47:9). But if, according to his own testimony, he has been in misery and wretchedness all the days of his life, he clearly testifies that he has not yet received the happiness that the Lord promised him. So Jacob was either a wicked, ungrateful man who was not able to appreciate God’s grace – or he gave a real testimony of his misery on earth with these words. But if it was a real testimony, it follows that he did not attach his hope to the earthly!

III,10,13 If these holy fathers – as was undoubtedly the case! – If these holy fathers – as was undoubtedly the case – expected blessedness only from God’s hand, then they also knew about and saw another blessedness than the earthly one. The apostle explains this beautifully: "By faith Abraham was a stranger in the promised land than in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, joint heirs of the same promise, for he waited for a city that has a foundation, whose builder and maker is God…. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were comforted, and were well satisfied, confessing that they were sojourners and strangers on the earth. For they that say these things signify that they seek a fatherland. And indeed, if they had meant the one from which they had departed, they had time to turn back again. But now they desire a better one, namely a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them" (Hebr 11:9, 10, 13-16). They would also have been duller than blocks to cling with such stubbornness to a promise of whose fulfillment here on earth no glimmer was visible – if they had not expected this fulfillment elsewhere! Especially and rightly the apostle insists on the statement that the fathers understood their earthly life as a pilgrimage, as Moses reports (Gen 47:9). But if they were only strangers and pilgrims in the land of Canaan – where was the promise of the Lord, which promised them this land as their inheritance? From this it is clear that the promise of the possession of the land, which the Lord had given them, is far away. They have not acquired a foot’s breadth in the land of Canaan, except for their grave! This shows that they hoped to obtain the fruit of the promise only after death! Therefore also Jacob put such value on it to be buried there, therefore he let himself promise this from his son on oath! (Gen 47:29 f.). Therefore it is Joseph’s will, one should still transfer after centuries his bones already to dust into the promised country! (Gen 50:25).

II,10,14 Thus, in all the striving of their lives, the blessedness of the coming life was before the eyes of the fathers. Why else would Jacob have striven so hard for the birthright, why did he take it with so much danger, although it brought him banishment and almost lawlessness, but nothing good at all – if he had not thought of a higher blessing? His mind was set on it, as he pronounced it still in death: "Lord, I wait for your salvation!" (Gen 49:18). What kind of salvation should he expect, since he realized that it was going to end with him – if he had not seen in death the beginning of a new life? But why should we dwell only on the pious and the children of God, when even a man who otherwise merely strove to resist the truth had an inkling of this knowledge? We hear Balaam say: "Let my soul die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like this end" (Num 23:10). With this he could not mean anything else than what David later said: "The death of his saints is worthy in the sight of the Lord" (Ps 116:15), but "the death of the wicked is misery" (Ps 34:22; not Luther text). If they had considered death as their last end and goal, there would be no difference between the righteous and the unrighteous; only the fate that awaits both after death reveals their difference.

II,10,15 We have not yet gone beyond Moses – of whom the enthusiasts claim that he only had the task to lead a carnally thinking people to the worship of God through fertility of the land and an abundance of all good things! And yet, the existence of a spiritual covenant is clearly and unmistakably revealed to anyone who does not deliberately close his eyes to the truth! If we now proceed to the prophets, here the eternal life and the kingdom of Christ shine before us in full splendor. First of all there is David; he was the first in time, and therefore, according to the order which God maintains in the distribution of his gifts, it was not yet granted to him to speak the heavenly mysteries as clearly as the later prophets; but with what clarity and confidence he directs all that he is and has toward this goal! How he looked upon earthly life he shows in the exclamation, "I am thy pilgrim and citizen like all my fathers" (Ps 39:13). "My days are as the breadth of a hand before thee, and my life is as nothing before thee …. They pass away like a shadow" (Ps 39:6, 7). "Now, Lord, in whom shall I take comfort? I hope in you!" (Ps 39:8). Nothing, after all, according to this confession of his, is firm and constant on earth; but he confidently holds fast to the hope in God, and thus looks to a blessedness which lies elsewhere! He repeatedly calls the faithful to contemplate this happiness when he wants to comfort them. In another place he speaks of the shortness and the fleetingness and transitoriness of human life and then adds: "But the grace of the Lord endures forever and ever over those who fear him …" (Ps 103:17). This also corresponds to what we read in the 102nd Psalm: "You, Lord, founded the earth before, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will pass away, but you remain. They will all become obsolete like a garment; they will be changed like a garment when you change them. But thou remainest as thou art, and thy years have no end. The children of thy servants shall remain, and their seed shall flourish before thee" (Ps 102:26-29). So may heaven and earth pass away – the pious are forever under the Lord’s protection! Thus their salvation is connected with God’s eternity! But this hope can have right reason and right confidence only if it rests on the promise we hear in Isaiah: "The heavens shall pass away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in a moment. But my salvation shall endure forever, and my righteousness shall have no end" (Isa 51:6). Here righteousness and salvation are said to be eternal – not only in so far as they are with God, but even in so far as they are experienced by man.

II,10,16 Occasionally David also speaks of the happiness of the faithful; but this too must necessarily be related to participation in the heavenly glory. Thus we read: "The Lord preserves the souls of His saints; from the hand of the wicked He will deliver them" (Ps 97:10). Or: "Light will dawn on the righteous, and gladness of heart on the upright … the righteousness of the righteous endures forever; his horn will be exalted with honor … for what the wicked would gladly have is lost" (Ps 112:4, 9 f.; v. 4 not Luther text!). Or: "Also the righteous will give thanks to your name, and the pious will remain before your face" (Ps 140:14). Or also: "He will remain forever; the way of the righteous will never be forgotten" (Ps 112:6). And finally: "The Lord redeems the soul of his servants …" (Ps 34:23). For the Lord allows it often enough that the wicked torment his servants according to their desire, even plague them and plunge them into misfortune; he lets the good languish in darkness and sorrow, while the wicked shine like the stars; nor does he by any means refresh them with the kindness of his countenance in such a way that they might permanently enjoy joy! Therefore David does not conceal that the faithful, when they turn their attention to the present state, must fall into the heaviest temptation, as if there were no grace with God, no reward for innocence! For the ungodly flourish and prosper for the most part, while the multitude of the faithful are afflicted with shame and poverty, contempt and all manner of crosses. "I almost stumbled with my feet; my tread almost slipped. For I was displeased with the glorifiers, when I saw that the wicked fared so well…" (Ps 73:2f.). And then he concludes his reflection: "I thought after him, that I might understand; but it was too hard for me. Until I went into the sanctuary of the Lord, and perceived their end …" (Ps 73:16f.).

II,10,17 From this confession of David we are to learn: also the holy fathers under the Old Covenant knew very well how seldom or never God lets come true in this world what He promised to His servants; but then they lifted up their soul to God’s sanctuary – and there was hidden what under the shadow of earthly existence does not yet come into the light. This was God’s last judgment; they certainly did not yet see it with their eyes, but they were satisfied to know about it in faith. In this faith they were full of confidence, and they knew that – whatever might happen in the world! – the day would come when God would make his promises come true! The following proverbs testify: "But I will behold thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied when I awake in thy image" (Ps 17:15). "I will abide as a green olive tree in the house of the Lord" (Ps 53:10). "The righteous will grow green like a palm tree; he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord will grow green in the courts of our God. And though they grow old alike, yet they will flourish, be fruitful and fresh …" (Ps 92:13-15). Or even shortly before: "Lord, … your thoughts are so very deep! – The wicked green as the grass, and the evildoers all flourish, until they are destroyed forever and ever!" (Ps 92:6.8). But where should the splendor and adornment of the faithful be other than where the Lord will change the face of this earth by the manifestation of His kingdom; To this eternal they turned their attention, and therefore they despised the temporal hardship of earthly distress and could confidently say: "You will not leave the righteous in trouble forever; but you will cast down the wicked into the deep pit …" (Ps 55:23 s.; not Luther text). Where is such a pit of eternal destruction in this world, which swallows up the wicked? No, what we read in the book of Job applies to the happiness of the wicked: "They grow old in good days and are hardly afraid of death for a moment" (Job 21:13). Where is this sure rest of the faithful here, who, according to David’s frequent lamentations, are shaken by all kinds of misfortune, even crushed and utterly crushed under it? So he does not look at what this world in its unsteadiness and changeability is able to give, but at what the Lord will do when he will once sit down to create a new, eternal heaven and a new, eternal earth! So also David writes very clearly in one place about people "who rely on their goods and defy their great riches …" (Ps 49:7) – and yet "no one", however excellently he may be placed, "can redeem his brother, nor reconcile him to God. For it will be seen that the wise die, as well as the foolish and the foolish perish, and must leave their goods to others. This is their heart, that their houses endure for ever, their dwellings remain for ever; and have great honor on earth. Yet a man cannot remain in renown, but must perish like cattle! Their doings are vain folly; yet their descendants praise them with their mouths. They lie in hell like sheep; death feeds them. (When the light rises), the pious will soon rule over them, their form must perish; they must remain in hell" (Ps 49:8, 11-15; toward the end no longer Luther text). There already the mockery of the fools, who rely on fleeting, perishable earthly goods, shows that the truly wise must seek their happiness somewhere else! But he also gives us a clearer view of the mystery of the resurrection, because he wants to establish the kingdom of the pious only after the downfall of the wicked. For what should this "rising of the light" be but the manifestation of the new life that follows when the earthly life ends?

II,10,18 Hence the thought to which the faithful have so often clung as comfort in misery and help in patience: "His wrath lasts for a moment, but His mercy for life" (Ps 30:6). But how could they call the affliction "momentary", which we face almost our whole life? Where did they see that everlasting duration of divine kindness, of which they had hardly received the slightest taste? If they had remained attached to the earth, they would have found nothing of the kind; but they looked up to heaven, and perceived that the time when the saints are tried by the Lord through the cross is but a moment, but the mercy of God which gathers them endures forever! They perceived on the other side the eternity and infinity of the doom that awaits the wicked, who now, for a day, imagine themselves so happy in their dream! Thus we read it Prov 10:7: "The memory of the righteous abideth in blessing; but the name of the wicked shall rot." Or we hear: "The death of his saints is held worthy in the sight of the Lord … but calamity shall kill the wicked" (Ps 116:15; 34:22). Also in Samuel it says: "He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked must perish in darkness" (1Sam 2:9). – This means that the prophets knew very well that no matter how much the saints are driven about, their end will be life and salvation, and that the beautiful path of the wicked leads to destruction. Therefore, they also called the death of the wicked the "death of the uncircumcised" (Eze 28:10; 31:18 and others), that is, of those who have no hope of resurrection. Therefore, David also knows no more terrible curse than that: "Blot them out of the book of life, that they be not written with the righteous" (Ps 69:29).

II,10,19 But especially glorious is the word of Job: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last I shall rise from the earth; and there shall I behold in my flesh God my Savior. This hope rests in my bosom" (Job 19:25-27; not Luther text). People who want to bring their acumen to the man now come with the subtle objection that Job is not talking here about the resurrection on the last day, but about that day when God, as he expected, will look upon him graciously again for the first time. Well, let us admit that in part; but we will have to admit, whether we like it or not, that Job could not have come to such a glorious hope if his thoughts had remained stuck to the earth. So, we have to realize, he raised his eyes to the future immortality, if he expected that a redeemer would be at his side even when he was already in the grave! For him who thinks only of the present life, death is the utmost despair. But Job’s expectation even death could not destroy: "Though he strangle me," we hear him say, "yet will I hope in him!" (Job 13:15; not Luther text). But now no foolish chatterer shall object to me that these are all the words of individuals, and that it is not yet proven that such a teaching was generally accepted among the Jews. Let him have an immediate answer to this: these men did not present a secret wisdom in these words, to which only very illustrious spirits would have had access completely for themselves and secluded from the others, but they were appointed by the Holy Spirit as teachers of the people and publicly announced the mysteries of God, which were to be taught in the congregation and were to be the basis of the worship practice among the people! So we hear in their words public manifestations of the Holy Spirit, with which He led the church of the Jews to clear insight about the spiritual life – and therefore it is an intolerable stiff-neckedness, if one wants to see here only the mention of a fleshly covenant, in which therefore only the earth and earthly well-being would be spoken of!

II,10,20 Now I want to pass on to the later prophets; here we can – as on our own ground! – much more freely. It was already easy for us to fight through our view in David, Job and Samuel; here it is still far easier! For the Lord, in the presentation of the covenant of His mercy, kept a right distribution and order: the nearer the time came when the full revelation was to take place, the greater glory He made known in daily increase! Thus in the beginning, when the first promise of salvation was given to Adam, there were only a few faint sparks that shone forth; then the brightness grew, and more and more light became visible; more and more it burst forth, farther and farther it sent its glow – until finally all the clouds were broken, and Christ as the Sun of Righteousness bathed the whole world in radiant splendor! Therefore, we need not fear that the testimony of the prophets to our doctrine will be lost. No, I see that it is an infinitely extensive matter, in which we would have to dwell much longer than we can according to our intention - it would require a thick book! I believe, however, that through what I have shown above, I have also paved a way for the less knowledgeable reader, on which he can now continue without being distracted in his course. I do not want to talk here, because it is really not necessary, only I would like to ask the reader to look for the entrance with the key which I have given him above into the hand. Where the prophets mention the blessedness of the believing people, which is hardly visible in the slightest traces in this life, a distinction must be made: The prophets are interested in raising God’s kindness as high as possible, and therefore they have presented it to the people in the form of earthly benefits in a shadowy outline, as it were; but this presentation was nevertheless of such a nature that the hearts were raised far above the earth, above the elements of this world and this transitory time, and necessarily came to meditate rightly on the blessedness of the coming, spiritual life.

II,10,21 Let us be content with a single example. When the Israelites had been led away to Babylon and now noticed how their miserable existence looked so much like death, no one could dissuade them from regarding the promises of Ezekiel about the future return and restoration as a fairy tale, just as if he had announced to them that a decayed body would be brought back to life. But the Lord wanted to make it known that even this hopeless situation could not prevent him from dispensing his benefits; therefore he showed the prophet in one vision a field full of scrawny dead bones – and then he gave them spirit and vitality again in an instant by his word alone! (Eze 37:1-14). This face was meant to rebuke the people at that time for their unbelief; but at the same time it made it clear to the Jews that the power of the Lord, who could so easily make withered and scattered dead bones alive again with his wave, was not exhausted by leading the people home again! Therefore one can compare this passage in Ezekiel with another one in Isaiah: "But your dead shall live; my dead bodies shall rise. Wake up and praise, you who lie under the earth! For your dew is like the dew of the green field, but the land of the tyrants (Luther: dead) you will overthrow. Go thy way, O my people, into thy chamber, and shut thy door upon thee; hide thyself a little while, until the wrath pass. For, behold, the Lord will go forth from his place to visit the wickedness of the inhabitants of the land upon them, and the land shall reveal their blood, and shall not conceal them that are slain therein" (Isa 26:19-21).

II,10,22 But if someone wanted to put all the sayings of the prophets in the same line with these two, it would be absurd; for a number of passages show us undisguised that coming immortality which awaits the faithful in God’s kingdom. Some of these we have already mentioned; what else might be mentioned also belongs for the most part to this genre; but I will mention only two passages which are of special importance. First a word in Isaiah: "As the new heavens and the new earth which I am making are before me, so shall your seed and name be before me. And all flesh shall come one new moon after another, and one Sabbath after another, to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go out and see the dead bodies of the people who have done evil to me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched…" (Isa 66:22-24). Then a Daniel word: "At the same time the great prince Michael, who stands for the children of your people, will arise. For there will be such a time of trouble as has not been since men were until this time. At that time thy people shall be saved, all that are written in the book. And many who lie asleep under the earth will awake, some to eternal life, some to eternal shame and disgrace" (Dan 12:1 s.).

II,10,23 The two other points, namely, that the fathers had Christ as the guarantor of their covenant and that they put all their trust in Him, need no laborious proof, because here there is less dispute and more clarity. It thus stands unshakably against all the machinations of the devil: The Old Testament, the Old Covenant, as the Lord made it with the people of Israel, by no means extended merely to earthly things, but embraced the promise of spiritual, eternal life: for this all those who really had a share in this covenant waited with all their hearts. If, therefore, the opinion is held that the Lord did not set anything else before the Jews, or that the people sought nothing but satiation of the belly, carnal well-being, flourishing wealth, external power, abundance of children, and whatever else the natural man alone esteems highly, this is to be rejected as nonsensical and dangerous. For even today Christ, the Lord, promises His own no other kingdom of heaven than the one in which they are to "sit at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (Mt 8:11); and Peter calls the Jews of his time "heirs" of the grace that comes to us with the gospel, because they would be "children of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers" (Acts 3:25). But this was not to be testified only in words; therefore the Lord confirmed it also in deed. For when He rose from the dead, He also honored many saints to come forth from their graves as fellow members of His resurrection and to appear in the city (Mt 27,52); this was a clear pledge that His deeds and suffering, by which He won eternal salvation, would be granted to the believers of the Old Covenant just as it is to us! Also, according to Peter’s testimony, they received the same Spirit of faith by which we also are born to new life (Acts 15:8). So if this Spirit, which lives in us like a spark of immortality and which is therefore also described in one place as the "pledge of our inheritance for our redemption" (Eph 1:14), also dwelt in them in a similar way – how then should we dare to deny them the inheritance of life? All the more astonishing is the stubbornness to which the Sadducees once reached, who denied the resurrection and also the lasting existence of the soul, although they must have known the clearest testimonies of Scripture for both! And just as much we would have to wonder today at the foolish hope of the whole Jewish people for an earthly kingdom of the Messiah, if the Scriptures had not told us before that the Jews would be punished in this way for rejecting the Gospel. For in this God’s righteous judgment was revealed, that a people who spurned the offered light of heaven and therefore voluntarily entered into the night of error is now struck with blindness! One reads Moses well and ponders over him day and night – but there is the cover in between, and therefore one cannot see the light that shines from his face! (2Cor 3:14). Thus Moses remains covered and veiled to this people until they are converted to Christ, from whom they try to detach and separate him today.

Eleventh Chapter

About the difference between the Old and New Testament.

II,11,1 Now one could say: Why, should there be no difference between the Old and the New Testament? How is it then that both are treated in so many places of Scripture as things of the greatest difference? I like to make the distinctions that are given to us in Scripture my own. Certainly in such a way that they do not break off anything from the established unity. This will also be seen if we go through them in order. As far as I can now see and remember, there are mainly four differences to be mentioned; I also have nothing against it if one wants to add a fifth one. Of all these it is to be said and also to be shown that they refer to the form of the presentation and not to the essence of the thing itself. So they mean no obstacle at all to the fact that the promises of the Old and the New Covenant remain the same and that Christ is always the cornerstone of these promises! So the first difference! The Lord has always wanted to direct His people inwardly to the heavenly inheritance, and their thoughts and aspirations should always be directed to it! However, in order to revive the hope of the people for the inheritance, he gave them the possibility in his time in earthly goods to already look at that inheritance and to taste of it. But now, through the Gospel, God has revealed the gift of the life to come more clearly and more comprehensibly – and there those earlier, lesser means of education, as he used them with the Israelites, fall away, and he directs our hope directly to that glorious good! Who does not consider this plan of God, then believes, the old people really thought of nothing else than those goods, which were promised to the body! One hears of the land of Canaan, the glorious and only reward for those who kept the law. One hears how the Lord knows no worse threat for the transgressors of this law than the expulsion from the possession of this land and the dispersion into foreign countries. One sees also, how all blessing and curse words, which Moses hands down to us, are similar to this! And from this one draws the conclusion without hesitation that the Jews were not separated from the other peoples for their own sake, but for the sake of others: namely, so that the Christian church might receive an image in which the spiritual goods are presented to it in an outward form! But the Scriptures teach in several places that these earthly benefits, with which God showered His own here, had the purpose of leading them to hope in the heavenly ones; and therefore it would be very unwise, indeed downright blind, if one were to overlook this intention. So we are dealing with people who claim that the possession of the land of Canaan, which the Israelites considered to be the highest blessedness, is now for us, after the revelation of Christ, an image of the heavenly inheritance! On the other hand, we maintain that the believers of the Old Covenant already saw in this earthly possession, which they enjoyed, as in a mirror, the future inheritance, which was prepared for them in heaven according to their faith!

II,11,2 This will become clearer from a comparison that Paul uses in the Epistle to the Galatians. He compares the people of the Jews with a young heir who is not yet able to lead himself and therefore follows the guidance of a guardian or disciplinarian to whose care he is entrusted (Gal 4,1-3). Now he relates this comparison in a special way to the ceremonies; but we can also adapt it very well to our question here under discussion. The people of the Old Covenant, then, have the same inheritance which has been destined for us also; but in their old age they were not yet capable of entering upon or administering that inheritance. There was the same church among them – but it was still in infancy. Thus the Lord kept them under this education, and in so doing he did not give them the spiritual promises bare and open, but covered them up, as it were, under earthly promises. So when he accepted Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants as children for the hope of immortality, he promised them the land of Canaan as their inheritance. This did not mean that they should stick to the land with their hope, but that when they looked at the land, they should practice and strengthen themselves in the hope of that true inheritance, which had not yet appeared. So that no deception was possible in this, he gave them still a higher promise, which should testify to them that this land was not his highest gift. Thus God does not leave Abraham lazy and secure in the possession of the promise which promised him the land; but there comes a greater promise which turns his mind to the Lord Himself. He hears, "Abraham, I am your shield and your very great reward" (Gen 15:1). Here we see how Abraham is to seek the ultimate goal and piece of this reward in the Lord Himself alone, so that he did not think he could find such reward in fleeting, uncertain form in the things of this world, but considered it imperishable! And then he adds the promise of land, but obviously for the purpose of being for Abraham a symbol of divine benevolence and a model of the heavenly inheritance. The believers recognized this very well, as they themselves prove in their sayings. Thus David comes from the temporal blessings to the contemplation of the supreme, ultimate blessing. "For thee my soul and my flesh longs and desires …. God is my portion forever …" (Ps 84:3; 73:26; neither Luther text). Or we hear: "But the Lord is my good and my portion; you receive my inheritance" (Ps 16:5; Calvin different). "Lord, unto thee do I cry, saying, Thou art my trust and my portion in the land of the living" (Ps 142:6). Whoever dares to speak in this way testifies that in his hope he goes far beyond the world and all earthly good. The prophets also often describe this future blessedness under the image they had received from the Lord (namely the image of the land!). Thus for example: "The righteous shall dwell in the land, and the upright abide therein …" (Prov 2:21). "But the wicked shall be cut off from the land …" (Prov 2:22; Job 18:17). We also read in several places how Jerusalem will have an abundance of all treasures and Zion will be rich in everything (Isa 35:10; 52:1 ss.; 60; 62). All this cannot refer to the land of our pilgrimage or in the proper sense to the earthly Jerusalem, but it necessarily concerns the true home of the faithful and that heavenly city in which "the Lord has prepared blessing and life forever and ever" (Ps 133:3).

II,11,3 This is also the reason why, according to the account of the Scriptures, the saints under the Old Covenant valued the earthly, mortal life and the blessings bestowed upon it more highly than would be right today. They knew that this life was not the end of their course, but they recognized the marks of God’s grace, which he had impressed upon them in order to educate them according to the measure of their weakness, and thus the earthly life became much more pleasant to them than if they had only considered it in and of itself. But just as the Lord testified to his benevolence toward the faithful with earthly goods and thus expressed spiritual blessedness in a shadowy way with such examples and signs, so he also used bodily punishments to make his judgment on the ungodly manifest. So, as God’s benefits (at that time) were more visible in earthly things, so were His punishments. Uninformed people have no understanding for this inner relationship and, so to speak, this harmony of punishment and reward, and therefore they wonder how God could prove to be so different, since he once threatened to punish every transgression of man with severe and terrible judgment, but today has apparently laid aside his former wrath and punishes much more mildly and rarely! It is hardly missing that one dreams of two different Gods, the "God of the Old Testament" and the "God of the New Testament", as the Manichaeans did. We can only get out of such foolish considerations if we observe that wise arrangement of God of which I spoke. At that time, when he announced his covenant to the Israelite people, he wanted to indicate and depict his grace and with it the future, eternal blessedness through earthly benefits, and on the other hand the seriousness of spiritual death through bodily punishments.

II,11,4 The second difference between the Old and the New Testament consists in the suggestive representations that the Old Testament contains. The Old Testament, since the truth, the fulfillment is still missing, brings only a picture, it shows us therefore instead of the body a shadow; the New, however, reveals to us the present truth and the body itself essentially. This difference is emphasized almost in every exposition of the difference between the two Testaments; more clearly than anywhere else it is found in the Epistle to the Hebrews. There the apostle has to lead a hard argument against people who thought that if one abolished the observance of the Mosaic law, then at the same time all right reverence of God would fall into heaviest disruption. In order to refute this error, the apostle first refers to the prophecies of the prophets about Christ’s priesthood; for if he has an eternal priesthood, then with his appearance it is about that priesthood in which one priest followed the other (Hebr 7,23). This new priesthood therefore absolutely precedes; the apostle proves this from the oath with which God confirmed it (Hebr 7:21). He then goes on to say that with this change in the priesthood, the covenant was also changed (Hebr 8:6-13). This change was necessary because the law was too weak to lead to the right perfection! (Hebr 7:19). Then he pursues the question in what this powerlessness of the law consisted: he finds it in the fact that it offered only external, carnal righteousness ordinances; but these were not able to make the one who fulfilled them perfect according to conscience, because one could not put away sin with animal sacrifices and also not attain real holiness! From this follows the conclusion: the law carried only a shadow of the things to come, but not the real image! (Hebr 10:1). Thus the law had only the task to be the introduction and guidance to that better hope, which is revealed to us in the gospel! (Hebr 7:19; compare Ps 110:4; Hebr 7:11; 9:9; 10:1; these quotations to the whole!). Here we now gain the right standard for comparing the covenant under the law with the covenant under the gospel, the office of Christ with the office of Moses! If the comparison were to be made with the promises themselves in their substance, there would obviously be a tremendous discord between the two Testaments; but our investigation has already led us along another path, and we must follow it in order to find the truth. So we place the covenant in the middle, which God has made for eternity and will not let perish. Its fulfillment, through which it therefore only receives full guarantee and confirmation, is Christ. As long as this confirmation is expected, the Lord prescribes the ceremonies through Moses, which are, as it were, solemn signs of this confirmation. But then it came to the disputed question whether these ceremonies, which were prescribed in the law, had to give way to Christ. Now these ceremonies were certainly only added parts, even additions and appendices to the law or, as one commonly says: additions; but they were also instruments for the execution of the covenant and therefore bore the name "covenant", as one is also accustomed to attribute it to other solemn acts. So – to summarize it -: by the Old Testament we understand here the solemn execution of that confirmation of the covenant, as it happened by ceremonies and sacrifices. But in this there is nothing reliable or perfect, if one does not go further, and therefore the apostle asserts: This execution must become obsolete and be abolished, so that room can be made for Christ as the guarantor and mediator, for him who once accomplished an eternal sanctification for the elect and erased all transgressions that had remained under the law! But it can also be made clear in this way: "Old" was this covenant of the Lord because it was wrapped in the shadowy and in itself ineffective exercise of ceremonies. Therefore it was also merely temporal and, as it were, in abeyance until it received right existence by certain and clear confirmation! But then the Lord made it new and eternal, sanctified and founded in the blood of Christ. Therefore Christ also said, when he handed the cup to his disciples in the Lord’s Supper: "This is the cup, the new testament in my blood …" (Lk 22:20). With this he probably wanted to say that only then the covenant of God would really gain stability and truth, which makes it a new and eternal covenant, when it is sealed with His blood.

II,11,5 Here it is clear what the apostle means when he writes that the Jews were brought to Christ under the discipline of the law when He was not yet manifested in the flesh (Gal 3,24; 4,1). He thus acknowledges that they too were sons and heirs of God. But they still had to be under the guard of a disciplinarian because of their youth. For as long as the sun of righteousness had not yet risen, the glow of revelation, the clarity of recognition could not yet be so strong! The Lord had just measured out the light of his word to them in such a way that they still saw it quite darkly and only from a distance. Paul calls this poor knowledge "childhood": God wanted to train the believers in this state in the beginnings of this world and in the keeping of outward precepts, so to speak in the manner of a novice, until Christ shone forth in His splendor; through Him the knowledge of the believers was to grow to manhood (allusion to Eph 4:13). Christ Himself pronounced this distinction; we hear on the one hand: "The law and the prophets prophesied until John" (Mt 11:13) – and then He shows on the other hand how since John the Kingdom of God is preached! But what did the law and the prophets convey to the people of their time? They apparently gave them a foretaste of that wisdom which was once to be revealed purely and clearly, and they pointed to it as to a light shining up in the distance. But where one can point the finger to Christ himself, there the kingdom of God is revealed. For "in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3) through which we come close to the hidden glories of heaven!

II,11,6 This fact is not affected by the fact that in the Christian church there is hardly anyone who can be compared to Abraham in power and depth of faith, and that the prophets were given a power and authority which still today covers the whole world in radiant light! For it is not a question here of how much grace God bestowed on individuals, but what rule and order he followed in instructing his people. And this consideration is also applied to the prophets, who excelled in knowledge before the others. For their proclamation is dark, as if it were about very distant things, also it is veiled under all kinds of images! No matter how wondrously profound their knowledge might be, they had to submit and adapt themselves to the education of the people in general, and thus fell into the ranks of the underage. And finally: they did not have a single insight, which would not let notice something of the darkness of the time at any place. Therefore, Christ teaches, "Many kings and prophets have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it…" "Blessed therefore are your eyes, that they see, and your ears, that they hear!" (Mt 13:17, 16; Lk 10:24, 23). Christ’s presence has brought the advantage in the highest degree that the revelation of the heavenly mysteries now shone forth more brightly! Here also belongs the already mentioned word from the First Epistle of Peter, according to which the revelation was given to the prophets, but in such a way that their ministry proves to be especially useful for our age (1Pet 1:12).

II,11,7 This brings me to the third difference. It arises from a word of Jeremiah: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not as the covenant which I made with their fathers, when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which covenant they kept not, and I constrained them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time, saith the LORD; I will put my law in their hearts, and write it in their minds … and no one shall teach another, nor one brother another … but they shall all know me, both small and great … for I will forgive their iniquity …" (Jer 31:31-34; Calvin partially reverses the order). These words gave the apostle occasion for a comparison between law and gospel: he calls the law a doctrine of the letter, the gospel a doctrine of the spirit; the law, he says, is written on tablets of stone, the gospel engraved on the heart; the law is thus regarded as preaching death, the gospel as preaching life; the law preaches condemnation, the gospel righteousness; the law ceases, the gospel abides! (2Cor 3:6-11). The apostle first wants to state clearly what the prophet meant; and therefore it might be enough to hear one of them to know both views. But there is nevertheless also a certain difference between them. For the apostle speaks more sharply against the law than the prophet. This is not simply for the sake of the law itself, but because there were at that time incomprehensible defenders of the law who, by their perverse pursuit of outward customs, darkened the meaning of the gospel! Taking into account their error and their foolish striving for the law, he argues with them about the essence of this law. This peculiarity of the apostle’s words must not be overlooked. But both (the prophet and the apostle) hold the Old Testament and the New Testament against each other, and both see in the law only what is really peculiar to it. I will give an example: the law contains in between a whole series of promises of divine mercy; but these come from another source and do not come into consideration if one wants to speak of the real essence of the law! Therefore, both the prophet and the apostle ascribe only this to the law itself: it decrees what is right, forbids what is wrong, promises reward to those who do righteousness, and threatens punishment to transgressors – but the perversity of heart, which is by nature in all men, it leaves unchanged and unswept!

II,11,8 We will now pursue the apostle’s comparison one by one. The Old Testament is a literal doctrine; for it was proclaimed without the power of the Holy Spirit. The New Testament is spiritual: because the Lord has engrafted it into the hearts of men through the Spirit! The second contrast is an explanation of the first: the Old Testament brings death – because it is not able to do anything else than to bring the curse over the whole mankind! But the New Testament is the instrument of life: for it sets us free from the curse and brings God’s grace upon us. Accordingly, the Old Testament is a ministry of condemnation – for it convicts all the children of Adam of unrighteousness and accuses them! -, the New Testament, on the other hand, is the ministry of righteousness: for, after all, it reveals God’s mercy, by which we are justified! The last contrast (transitoriness – eternity, 2Cor 3,11), on the other hand, refers to the ceremonies in the law. For there only a picture was presented of things that were not yet there – and therefore all this had to pass away and fade away with time. The gospel, on the other hand, presents us with the thing, the body itself, and therefore keeps its continuance immovable! Jeremiah also calls the moral law (leges morales) a weak and frail covenant; but this happens for another reason: namely, because by the sudden apostasy of the ungrateful people this law had been broken so soon; but because it was just a culpable transgression of the law by the people, this remark does not refer to the Old Covenant itself. The ceremonies, on the other hand, which, because of their lack of power, ceased of their own accord with the coming of Christ, had the reason for this lack of power in themselves. Finally, the distinction between the letter and the spirit must not be understood as if the Lord had given his law to the Jews without any fruit at all, so that no one had been converted to him; rather, this contrast (letter – spirit) serves a comparison: it is meant to praise the richness of the grace with which the same lawgiver, as it were as a new person, distinguished the preaching of the gospel. Indeed, if we measure the number of those whom God has born again out of all nations by His Spirit and has incorporated into His Church by the preaching of His Gospel, we shall say: there were very few people, indeed almost none, who once in Israel accepted the Lord’s covenant with all their heart – and yet they are many, if we consider their mere number and omit comparisons!

II,11,9 From this third distinction the fourth one arises by itself. Scripture calls the Old Testament a testament of bondage, because it produces fear in the heart; the New Testament, on the other hand, is called a testament of freedom, because it makes us inwardly confident and certain. Thus Paul writes in the eighth chapter of Romans, "For you have not received a servant spirit, that you should fear again; but you have received a childlike spirit, by which we cry, ’Abba, dear Father!’" (Rom 8:15). Here also belongs what we read in the Letter to the Hebrews: "You have not come to the mountain (in the flesh) … which burned with fire, nor to the darkness and gloom and tempest," where everything that was seen and heard only caused fear and horror, so that even Moses was terrified when that terrible voice sounded, which was horrible for all to hear, – "but you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem …" (Hebr 12:18-22). The point of view, which we just heard Paul briefly present in the Epistle to the Romans, is unfolded by him in greater detail in the Epistle to the Galatians. He indicates there the nature of the two sons of Abraham in an allegorical way. Hagar is unfree, is a maidservant, and she serves as an image of Mount Sinai, where Israel received the law! Sara, on the other hand, is the free one and is considered as the image of the heavenly Jerusalem, from where the gospel comes! For just as the descendants of Hagar are born free, because they never gain a share in the inheritance, but the children of Sarah are born free, because they are entitled to the inheritance – so we are subjected to bondage by the law and are born again to freedom through the gospel alone! (Gal 4:22-31). The meaning of this figurative interpretation is this: The Old Testament brought terror and fear to the conscience; the New Testament brings us God’s good pleasure and fills the heart with joy! Thus the Old Testament kept the conscience in the yoke of bondage, while the New Testament sets us free through magnanimity! But now one could hold up to me the holy fathers from the people of Israel, who certainly received the same spirit of faith as we do, and therefore must necessarily have had a share in the same freedom and joy. I answer: But neither of these things came from the law; these men experienced how the law and their position under bondage oppressed them, how conscience tormented them with its restlessness – and then they took refuge under the protection of the gospel; so it was in the proper sense a fruit of the New Testament, if they became free from such distress without the law of the Old Covenant! Moreover, as I see it, they did not receive the spirit of freedom and assurance in the sense that they did not experience any fear or bondage from the law! Although they enjoyed that glorious privilege which they had received through the grace that comes to us in the gospel, they were still subject to the same obligations and burdens in the practice of external ceremonies as other people. Thus, then, they were bound to keep thoroughly the outward ordinances, which were yet signs of a discipline resembling bondage, manuscripts in which they confessed themselves sinners-and which they were not able to blot out! Therefore, if we compare them with us, and if we consider the general order that the Lord applied to His people Israel at that time, we must rightly say that even these holy fathers were still under the testament of bondage and fear.

II,11,10 The three last mentioned comparisons concerned law and gospel; in them, therefore, the law is called the Old Testament, the gospel the New Testament. Only the very first distinction is more comprehensive: it also includes the promises given before the law! Augustin does not want these promises to be counted as part of the Old Testament under any circumstances, and he is quite right in this. For he only wanted to show what we also teach: for he also has in mind those sayings of Jeremiah and Paul in which the Old Testament is distinguished from the word of grace and mercy! It is also very thoughtful when he adds in the same place: since the beginning of the world all children of the promise, all whom God has born again, all who have obeyed the commandments in faith, which is active in love, have belonged to the new covenant! Thereby they hoped not for carnal, earthly, temporal things, but for spiritual, heavenly, eternal goods. Above all, they believed in the Mediator; and they knew that he gave them the Spirit to do good, and that he forgave them when they sinned! (To Boniface III,4). This is exactly what I intended to prove: All the saints whom God has chosen since the beginning of the world, as Scripture tells us, have also been made partakers of the same blessings for their eternal salvation as we are. But now Christ says: "The law and the prophets prophesied until John" (Mt 11:13), and since then the kingdom of God has been preached. Now there is a difference between my presentation of this difference and that of Augustine: I distinguish between the clarity of the gospel and the darker proclamation of the word in the past time; Augustine, on the other hand, simply distinguishes the law in its powerlessness from the gospel with its power and certainty. Of course, it must be said here that the holy fathers lived their lives under the Old Testament in such a way that they did not remain attached to it, but always reached out to the new and even had a real share in it! For the apostle pronounces the sentence of condemnation on those who were content with the present shadows and did not direct themselves inwardly toward Christ. And this is also true: if we leave everything else aside, there is nothing more foolish than to hope for atonement for sin from the slaughter of a piece of cattle, to expect purification of the soul from the external sprinkling of water, or to seek God’s pleasure with foolish ceremonies, as if He were pleased with them! One comes to all such mischief, if one remains attached to the outward observation of the law without the view of Christ!

II,11,11 A fifth kind of distinction can be added; it is based on the fact that until the coming of Christ, the Lord has set apart and chosen only one people in order to include His covenant of grace in it, as it were. "When the Most High divided the nations, when he scattered the children of men," we hear in Moses, "… he took Israel for his portion, and Jacob is his inheritance" (Deut 32:8 s.; not Luther text). In another place he addresses the people: "Behold, the heavens and all the heavens, the earth and all that is therein, these are the Lord’s, your God. Yet he alone delighted in your fathers, that he loved them, and chose their seed after them, you, out of all the nations…" (Deut 10:14f.). To this people alone he has granted the knowledge of his name, as if it alone belonged to him among all people, he has put his covenant into his lap, he has revealed his divine majesty to him, he has adorned him with all kinds of privileges. I will be silent about all other benefits and only mention what is most important here: he gave his word to this people and thus drew them into his community, so that he was called his God, was regarded as his God! Meanwhile he let all the other nations go their own ways in vanity (Acts 14:16) – as if they had nothing to do with him! Nor did he offer them the only means of salvation from such misery: namely, the preaching of his word! So Israel was his beloved son, the others were strangers; it was known to him and taken under his protection and umbrella, the others remained in their darkness; it was sanctified by God, the others were profane; it was worthy of God’s presence, the others were closed to any approach! But when "the time was fulfilled" that all should be set right, and he, the reconciler between God and men, was revealed, then the partition was torn down which had so long limited God’s mercy to Israel, then peace was proclaimed to those who were far off as well as to those who were near, so that now, both reconciled to God, they also grew together among themselves into a spiritual people! (Eph 2:14-17). So neither Jew nor Greek (Gal 3,28), neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (Gal 6:15) is valid, but "all and in all Christ!" (Col 3:11). For to Him are given all nations for an inheritance, the ends of the earth for a possession (Ps 2:8), that He may reign without distinction from sea to sea, from the waters to the uttermost part of the earth! (Ps 72,8 and others – e.g. Zech 9,10).

III,11,12 The calling of the Gentiles is therefore a glorious sign that clearly shows the superiority of the New Testament over the Old. It was certainly already witnessed by the prophets in many and glorious revelatory sayings; but the fulfillment always fell into the Messiah’s Kingdom! Even Christ himself did not proceed to it at the very beginning of his proclamation; but he postponed it until he had completely accomplished our redemption, namely, when the time of his humiliation was at an end and he had received from the Father that "name" which is "above every name, before whom all … shall bow. kneel …" (Phil 2:9). When this time of grace was not yet here, He told the Canaanite woman: "I am not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt 15:24). Also the apostles received the explicit command at their first sending not to go beyond Israel’s borders! (Mt 10:5f.). "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, nor go into the cities of the Samaritans, but go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel!" However, no matter how many passages in Scripture speak of the calling of the Gentiles, it seemed quite new and unfamiliar to the apostles when it was to begin through their work, indeed they were terrified of it as of something terrible! Finally, they took up their mission, but only fearfully and reluctantly. This cannot surprise us: it really seemed quite absurd that the Lord, who had set Israel apart from the other nations for so many centuries, should now suddenly change His plan and alter the choice He Himself had made! It was certainly foretold in prophecies-but so much could they not look to these that the thing itself, in its novelty as it presented itself to them, would have mattered nothing to them. Even the examples that God had already given for the future calling of the Gentiles were not sufficient to make them friends with the cause. For once there were only very few whom God had already called – and then he had also inserted them, so to speak, into Abraham’s lineage, so that they were added to his people! But this new calling happened freely and publicly, and it put the Gentiles on an equal footing with the Jews, indeed it seemed as if the Jews had all died together and the Gentiles had taken their place! Now it must be remembered that even those few strangers whom God had formerly received into His Church were by no means equal to the Jews. It is certainly not incorrect when Paul calls this a mystery and proclaims it so zealously as such, a mystery that had been hidden for centuries and generations and which, as he says, is a wonder even to the angels! (Col 1:26; cf. 1. Petr. 1:12).

II,11,13 With these four or five pieces I hope to have unfolded the whole difference between the Old and the New Testament, as far as the simplicity of the teaching requires it. But there are those who declare it to be a great absurdity that God should have directed His Church in so many different ways, taught it in so many different ways, and given it so great a diversity of outward usages. Before we go any further, these people must have an answer. This can be done quite briefly; for their objections are not so substantial as to require a thorough refutation. They say: It is not possible to see why God, who always remains the same, could have undergone such a change that what he had once commanded and ordered he would later have rejected. I answer: If God has made different arrangements at different times, depending on what he considered to be beneficial, he can therefore by no means be declared to be changeable. If a farmer gives his servants different tasks in winter than in summer, we cannot therefore declare him fickle; nor can we reproach him with any deviation from the principles of agriculture, which, after all, is precisely connected with the regular course of nature (cum perpetuo naturae ordine). And similarly, if a father brings up, governs, and treats his children differently in childhood, adolescence, and mature youth, he cannot therefore be thought frivolous or fickle! But how can we then reproach God with inconstancy, because he has allowed the diversity of times to be expressed externally in a corresponding way? In conclusion, I want to mention one last parable – that must be enough for us! Paul compares the Jews with underage children, the Christians with mature young men (Gal 4,1 ss.). But what should be disorderly about it, if God in his government instructed the Jews with the initial reasons, which corresponded to the measure of their age, and if he on the other hand already instructed us in stronger, so to speak more manly doctrine? God’s constancy, then, appears in the fact that he has had the same teaching proclaimed to men of all ages: the worship of his divine majesty, which he once prescribed in the beginning, he continues to demand! However, the fact that he uses different outward form and manner is by no means a proof that he is subject to variability; no, he has roughly directed himself according to the understanding of man, which is indeed different and variable!

II,11,14 But one asks further: From where then this diversity? God must have wanted it that way! And could he not, since the beginning of the world as well as after the coming of Christ, reveal eternal life in clear words without all figurative representations, educate his own with few and clear sacraments, give the Holy Spirit to men and let his grace come over all the world? But this is exactly the same as if one wanted to right with God why he created the world so late, although he could have done it right at the beginning, and why he established a regular alternation between winter and summer, day and night. But we – all pious people must feel this way – must not doubt that everything God has done has been done wisely and justly, even if we often do not know the reason why it had to happen that way. For it would be presuming too much if we wanted to deny God the right to have his special reasons, which are hidden from us. But one asks still further: It is surely astonishing that he nowadays rejects animal sacrifices and the whole apparatus of the Levitical priesthood and rejects them with disgust, in which he once delighted! As if these frail and feeble externals could have pleased God or even touched Him! It has already been made clear to us that he did not do all this for his own sake, but ordered it for the salvation of men. If the physician has healed a man impeccably when he was a young man, and then, when he has grown old, he uses other means and ways to heal the same man, we shall not say that he has rejected the way of healing which he once used! No, it is precisely because he remains constantly with the same way of healing that he takes into account the age of the sick person! Thus, when Christ was not yet here, he had to be presented with special signs and announced as the coming one - and these signs were different from those that must represent him today, when he has become manifest. Of course, today, after the coming of Christ, God’s call goes further than it did before, it goes out to all nations; the grace of his Holy Spirit is now poured out more abundantly than it once was; but I still ask: do we want to deny that it is rightly in God’s hands and discretion how he wants to distribute his grace and to which nations he wants it to penetrate? Shall he not have the decision in what places he will let the preaching of his word take place, and how much progress and success he will grant it? Has he not the right to withdraw the knowledge of his name from the world in its ingratitude at any time he pleases, but also to grant it again when he pleases, according to his mercy? We can see that the wicked in this play use unworthy invective to disturb the conscience of simple people in order to cast doubt on God’s justice and also on the trustworthiness of the Scriptures.

Twelfth Chapter

p class="Text">In order to carry out the mediation, Christ had to become man.

II,12,1 It was of utmost importance for us that the one who was to be our mediator was really true God and true man. This, of course, is not based on a "simple" or "absolute" necessity, as they say, but it results from the heavenly counsel on which the salvation of mankind depended. The Father, in His kindness, decided what was best for us according to His determination! For our unrighteousness stood like a cloud between us and him, it alienated us completely from the kingdom of heaven, and therefore no one could restore peace to us but he who had full access to him. But of whom could this be said? Who was able to do this among the children of Adam? They all trembled together with their forefather before God’s gaze! Maybe one of the angels? But they themselves needed a head to stand firmly and inseparably in communion with their God! How should it become now? It would have been truly miserable for us, if God’s majesty himself had not come down to us – because we could not climb up! So the Son of God had to become Immanuel for us, that is, "God with us," in such a way that His divinity and human nature were intimately united. In no other way could God come very close to us, in no other way could a firm inner bond develop and with it the confident hope that he truly dwells among us! So incomparable was the distance between us in our defilement and God in His glorious purity! Of course, if man had kept himself free from all sin, if he had remained pure, he would still have been too lowly to enter into fellowship with God without the Mediator. But what was to become of him then, when he had sunk by terrible collapse into death and hell, stained with so much disgrace, already reeking in his corruption, and wholly given over to the curse? It is not incorrect, therefore, when Paul, in order to refer to Christ as the Mediator, expressly calls Him a man. "There is … a mediator between God and men, namely the man Jesus Christ!" (1Tim 2:5). He could also say "the God …", could also omit both designations, God and man; but the Holy Spirit, speaking through His mouth, knowing our weakness, wanted to bring us help quickly and used the best means to do so: He placed God’s Son familiarly in our midst as one of our own! Now no one should agonize and ask where to find this mediator or how to get to him: the Spirit calls him a man and shows us that he is close to us, yes, that he is our equal, because he is our flesh and blood! We find the same in another place: "For we do not have a high priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities, but who is tempted in every way, yet without sin" (Hebr 4:15).

II,12,2 This will become even clearer to us when we think about the unusual task of the mediator. He was supposed to bring us into grace with God in such a way that we would become God’s children from the children of men, from heirs of hell to heirs of the kingdom of heaven. But who could accomplish this – unless the Son of God also became the Son of man, thereby taking on what is our nature and bestowing on us what was his, if he did not make over to us in grace what was his by nature? On this pledge we rely and confidently trust that we are now God’s children, since God’s natural Son took a body from our body, flesh from our flesh, bones from our bones, to be like us in all things! He was not afraid to take on what was ours, so that what belonged to him might also belong to us, so that he now belongs together with us as Son of God and Son of Man. Hence this holy brotherhood, which he himself exalts so highly with his own word: "I go to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God" (John 20:17). In this way we are assured of the kingdom of heaven as our inheritance, because God’s only Son, to whom this inheritance belongs as a sure possession, has adopted us as brothers; and if we are His brothers, we are also fellow members of His inheritance (Rom 8:17). But for another reason, the one who was to redeem us had to be true God and true man. For he was to conquer death – and who should be able to do that but life? He was to cast down sin – and who was to accomplish this but righteousness itself? He was to overthrow the powers of the world that rule in the air – and who should be able to do that but a power that was stronger than the world and all powers? But with whom is life, with whom is justice, with whom is dominion and power over all the heavens – but with God alone? Thus God, in His great mercy, made Himself our Redeemer in the form of His only begotten Son to set us free from sin.

II,12,3 The second essential requirement for our reconciliation with God was that man, who had been lost through his own disobedience, rendered perfect obedience in return, satisfied God’s judgment, and fully bore the penalty for his sin. Then our Lord Himself entered into the means as a true man, took the form of Adam, put on His name, in order to offer in His place the guilty obedience to the Father, to present our flesh as a propitiation before God’s righteous judgment and to suffer in this flesh the punishment which we had deserved! But He could not really taste death alone as God, could not overcome it as man – and therefore He united in Himself the human nature with the divine nature; thus, according to the weakness of the human nature, He succumbed to death in order to atone for our sins – and thus, according to the power of the divine nature, He could fight the battle against death in order to win the victory for us! Therefore, whoever wants to deprive Christ of His divinity or even of His humanity, either diminishes His majesty and glory, or obscures His goodness towards us. But just as great then is the injustice done to man on the other hand: one shakes and perverts his faith, which can stand securely only on this foundation. Moreover, the Son of Abraham and David, whom God promised in the Law and the Prophets, should be expected as the Redeemer; the pious can take as further fruit the certainty that this is the Christ who is praised to us in so many prophecies, because his origin obviously goes back to David and Abraham. Above all, however, we must hold fast to what I have already set apart: Christ’s being, embracing God and man together, is the surety of our fellowship with Him as the Son of God; in our flesh He has cast down death and sin, so that we may have the victory, we may lead the triumph; our flesh He has taken and offered for sacrifice, to cancel our guilt by His atoning sacrifice and to reconcile God’s righteous wrath against us!

II,12,4 Whoever takes these pieces into consideration with due attention will easily cope with the baseless speculations as they are raised by frivolous and novelty-addicted people. Among them, first of all, the assertion that Christ would have become man even if there had been no need of a means for the redemption of mankind. I admit: already in the order of the first creation, that is in the uncorrupted state, he was set as the head of the angels and men: therefore he is also called by Paul "the firstborn before all creatures" (Col 1:15). But the whole scripture says clearly enough that he took on our flesh to become our redeemer, and therefore it would be highest presumption to imagine another reason and another purpose for it. It is well known to what end all the promises which have testified to Christ since the beginning have been directed: he was to restore the decayed world and come to the aid of men in their lostness. That is why his image was implied in the sacrifices under the Law, so that believers hoped God would be gracious to them after sin was atoned for and he was reconciled to them! At all times, even before the giving of the law, there is never a promise of the Mediator without blood; and from this we must conclude that the Mediator, according to God’s eternal counsel, was ordained to wash away our sins; for the shedding of blood is a sign of atonement. The prophets also preached of him in such a way that he appeared in their promise as the reconciler between God and men. To prove this, the famous testimony of Isaiah may suffice: he promises that the mediator "for our iniquity" shall be "broken" by God’s hand, the "punishment shall be upon him", "that we may have peace", he shall be the priest who offers himself as a sacrifice, "and by his wounds" others shall be "made whole"; because we all "went astray like sheep", it pleased God to strike him, that he should bear the punishment of us all … (Isa 53:4-6). There we hear that God has called him to bring help to poor sinners in their misery; whoever goes beyond this limit is letting his arrogance run wild! When he himself came forth, he himself emphasized as the reason for his coming that he wanted to reconcile God with us and thereby lead us from death to life. The apostles also testified the same about him. Thus John speaks first of the sin of man and only then of the incarnation of the Word! (John 1:9-11; John 1:14). But above all we have to hear him himself, as he says about his ministry: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "The hour is coming when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live" (John 5:25). "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live…" (John 11:25). "The Son of Man came to save that which was lost…" (Mt 18,11). "The healthy have no need of a physician …" (Mt 9:12). It would not be an end if I wanted to list everything! In full unanimity, the apostles also lead us to the same source. And it is also true: if He would not have come to reconcile us with God, He would not have the honor of the priesthood, because the priest stood for intercession between God and men (Hebr 5,1); He would also not be our righteousness, because this only applies to Him, because He became a sacrifice for us, so that God would not impute our sin to us (2Cor 5:19). In short, he would then lose all the high dignities that Scripture attributes to him. Paul’s words would also be lost: "What was impossible for the law, God did, and sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh … and condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom 8:3; Calvin translates somewhat differently). The other word would then also have to be dropped, according to which in this mirror, namely in the fact that God gave us Christ as Redeemer, "the saving grace of God" and His infinite love "appeared to all men"! (Tit 2:11). In short, Scripture nowhere mentions any other purpose of the incarnation of the Son and the commission He received from the Father than that He might become the sacrifice to reconcile the Father to us. "Thus it is written, and thus Christ had to suffer … and preach repentance in His name …" (Lk 24,46f.). "Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life" "for the sheep"; "such a commandment have I received of my Father" (John 10:17f., echoing 10:12). "As Moses lifted up a serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man also be lifted up" (John 3:14). And then again: "Father, help me out of this hour. But for this I have come to this hour: Father, glorify your name …" (John 12:27f.). In these passages, He Himself clearly designates it as the purpose of the Incarnation: to be the sacrifice and means of atonement to put away our sin. For this reason also Zacharias proclaims that he came according to the promise once given to the fathers, "that he might appear to those who sit in (darkness and) the shadow of death …" (Lk 1:79). And all this is said – we must not forget! – is said of the Son of God, in whom, according to another word of Paul, "are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God" (Col 2:3), and of whom Paul boasts that he knows no one but Him alone (1Cor 2:2)!

II,12,5 Now someone could object that Christ is indeed the Redeemer for us damned; but if we had remained healthy and undefiled, He could have shown His love to us even then by taking on our flesh … To this I can briefly reply: If the Holy Spirit makes known to us that in God’s eternal counsel these two things existed together, that Christ should redeem us, and that with partaking of our nature, then we are not permitted to ask further! For he who allows himself to be stirred up by his desire to know still more proves that he is not satisfied with God’s unchangeable counsel, and for that very reason does not want to be satisfied with the Christ who is set apart for us to be redeemed! Paul does not only show what Christ was sent for, but he penetrates into the deepest mystery of predestination and thus puts an end to all human boldness and all presumption. "As he hath chosen us through him before the foundation of the world … and hath ordained us to filial adoption unto himself by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will … And hath made us acceptable in the Beloved, in whom we have redemption through His blood …" (Eph 1:4-7). Here obviously the fall of Adam is not presupposed as an event that already happened before, but it is put before our eyes what God has decreed from eternity, since he decided to come to the aid of mankind in its misery! But if one of the opponents then objects that this counsel of God was dependent on the case of man in the sense that God himself foresaw it, I will only point out: whoever allows himself to ask more about Christ or wants to know more than God has determined in his secret counsel, makes himself a new Christ in godless presumption! It is fully justified that Paul, where he speaks in this sense of the actual ministry of Christ, wishes the Ephesians the spirit of understanding, "that ye may understand … what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, knowing also the love of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge" (Eph 3,16.18f.). It is as if Paul wanted to put a fence around our spirit so that we do not deviate the slightest bit from the grace of reconciliation when thinking about Christ! For according to Paul it is "certainly true and a precious word that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …" (1Tim 1:15). I would like to stay with this. Elsewhere, the same apostle teaches that the grace now made known to us through the gospel was already given to us in Christ "before the time of the world" (2Tim 1:9); in this, I think, we must persevere to the end! Against this modest restraint Osiander now violently rebels; he has brought this question, which before him had already been carelessly raised by others, back to the fore in our time. He accuses all people of presumption who do not want to admit that Christ would have appeared in the flesh even if Adam had not fallen – and that because this latter fantasy is not refuted by any passage of Scripture! As if Paul did not put a rein on such twisted presumption when he first speaks of the redemption that happened in Christ – and then immediately warns. "But of foolish questions … abstain!" (Titus 3:9). The mad delusion has broken out so wildly in some that they now – with the mistaken intention of appearing as perceptive as possible! – they have raised the question whether the Son of God could also have taken on the nature of an ass! This monstrosity, which every pious man will find atrocious and terrible, Osiander excuses with the pretext that this is never expressly rejected in Scripture! As if Paul, when he tells us that he knows nothing more precious and worth knowing than "Christ crucified" (1Cor 2:2), would also admit an ass as the author of our salvation! He who says of Christ: "God has put all things under his feet and has made him the head … over all" (Eph 1:22) – he will not accept any other than Christ as the one who should and could fulfill the office of salvation!

II,12,6 But the reason Osiander insists on is quite unworthy. He claims that man was created in the image of God, and that means that he was modeled after the image of the future Christ: he should therefore already be similar to the one who, according to the counsel of the Father, was once to take on fleshly form! From this he now draws the conclusion: even if Adam had never fallen out of his original, immaculate state of creation, Christ would still have become man! How ridiculous and inconsistent this assertion is, everyone who can think rationally will recognize. Nevertheless, Osiander claims that he was the first to find out correctly what the "image of God" (imago Dei) actually was: it was by no means to be sought merely in the fact that God’s glory shone forth in the magnificent gifts that had been bestowed upon man, but God had dwelt in him according to his essence! I now admit: Adam bore the image of God only in so far as he was united with God – for that is the true and highest dignity. But I maintain, on the other hand, that the likeness to God is to be sought only in those glorious characteristics with which God had distinguished Adam above all other creatures! That Christ was already then in the image of God is the unanimous conviction of all; and therefore all that was given to Adam in majesty comes only from the fact that he was made partaker of the glory of his Creator through the only begotten Son. Man, then, is truly made in God’s image: the Creator Himself wished to make His glory visible in him as in a mirror. That he attained such a high dignity happened for the sake of the only begotten Son. But I add: this Son was also the head of the angels as well as of the men, so that the dignity, which was granted to the man, also extended to the angels. For these are, as we hear, "sons of God" (Ps 82,6) – and then it is absurd not to assume that also in them something was inherent in which they resembled the Father! So God wanted to display His glory in the angels as well as in man, wanted to make it visible in both natures – and therefore it is a stupid gossip when Osiander claims that the angels were of lesser dignity than man at that time, because they did not bear Christ’s image. But (one has to answer) they would not always enjoy the present sight of God if they did not resemble Him; and Paul himself knows no other way to renew the image of God in men (Col 3,10) than that they are taken into the fellowship of the angels and at the same time united among themselves under one head. Yes, if we want to believe the words of Christ, our highest blessedness, when we are taken up to heaven, will consist in being like the angels (Mt 22,30). If one wanted to grant Osiander that God’s original image was the man Christ, then another could claim with the same right that Christ also had to take on the nature of the angels, because they also were partakers of the image of God!

II,12,7 Osiander truly does not need to fear that God would necessarily be made a liar, if he had not already carried the firm and immovable intention in himself that Christ must become flesh. For if Adam’s righteousness had not collapsed, Adam would have remained similar to God as also the angels, and therefore it would not have been necessary at all that God’s son would have become man or angel. Quite nonsensical is also Osiander’s fear that Christ would have to lose his outstanding dignity, if God had not already had the firm plan before the creation of man that he should be born once – and that not as redeemer, but as the "first man". For – so Osiander further concludes – if the incarnation of Christ had been dependent on certain circumstances, namely on the necessity to set right the lost mankind – then Christ would have been created after the image of Adam! Why then does Osiander so anxiously pass by the clear and open declaration of Scripture that Christ became like us in all things, only without sin? (Hebr 4:15). Luke also has no hesitation in calling the Lord the son of Adam according to the lineage! (Lk 3,38). I would like to know why on earth Paul calls Christ the "second" Adam! (1Cor 15,47). There can have been no other reason than that he was destined for the real human existence, to snatch the descendants of Adam out of their misery! If the plan of the incarnation had existed earlier than the creation, then Christ would have to be called the first Adam! Now Osiander claims freshly and impudently that Christ as man had already been known before in the thinking of God – and that God had now created men according to this archetype! But Paul calls Christ the "second" Adam; so he puts the fall in the middle between the original creation of man and the restoration, as we attain it in Christ: from him only comes the necessity to bring nature back to the former state, and he is therefore also the reason that the Son of God should be born, that he thus became a man! But Osiander concludes from this consideration nonsensically, then Adam would have been his own image and not Christ’s image before his fall! I answer exactly the other way round: even if the Son of God had never taken flesh, nevertheless God’s image would always have shone out of Adam after body and soul – and just the splendor of this image would have shown ever and ever that Christ is in truth the head and has the precedence in everything! Thus also the empty sophistry of Osiander dissolves itself, according to which the angels could not have had Christ as their head, if God had not intended to let him become flesh, and that without the fault of Adam. For in his carelessness he makes a statement that no reasonable man will admit to him: namely, Christ has the dominion over the angels only in so far, and therefore the angels could have the enjoyment of his dominion only in so far as he is man! And the right thing to do is clearly stated in Paul’s words in Colossians: Christ is the "firstborn before all creatures" as the eternal Word of God (Col 1:15), not because he was created or counted among the creatures, but because the unspoiled state of the world in its original, wondrous glory had no other origin than him; if he became man, Paul calls him the "firstborn from the dead" (Col 1:18). Thus, in this one brief context, the apostle gives us both to consider. First: all things were created by the Son, so that he is also Lord over the angels (especially 1:16) – and second: he became man to become the Redeemer. The same ignorance betrays Osiander with the assertion that Christ would also be lost to men as king if he had not become man! As if God’s kingdom could not have existed if the eternal Son of God, even without assuming human flesh, had gathered angels and men to share in his glory and life, and thus had himself held dominion! But Osiander always fantasizes and juggles with the nonsensical principle, as if the church must have remained without a head, if Christ had not appeared in the flesh. As if he could not, as the angels had their head in him, also have been the guide and head of men and could not have preserved and protected them with the hidden power of his spirit as his body, until they, taken up into heaven, could enjoy the same life as the angels! The babble which I have now rejected, Osiander, however, now considers as most certain divine revelation, and then also usually, intoxicated by his glorious phantasties, intones tremendous battle chants about nothing to it! But he thinks to find a still far more reliable proof in the allegedly prophetic words of Adam, which he exclaimed at the sight of his wife: "Surely this is bone of my leg and flesh of my flesh!" (Gen 2:23). But from where does Osiander want to prove that these words are really a prophecy? Perhaps from the fact that Christ puts them into the mouth of God in the Gospel of Matthew! As if everything that God has ever spoken through men must contain a prophecy! Osiander should look for prophecies in the individual commandments of the law – and the law surely comes from God’s mouth! Christ would have been then also a rough and earthly-minded interpreter, who would have stuck "merely" to the literal sense! He does not speak of the hidden unity, of which he has honored the church, but of conjugal fidelity; and he declares that God has said that man and woman are one flesh, so that no one may dare to violate this indissoluble bond by divorce. If this simple explanation does not please Osiander, he may complain about Christ, because he did not introduce his disciples to the right mystery and did not interpret the Father’s word more profoundly! But even Paul cannot be taken as an oath-keeper for such nonsense: he does say that we are flesh of the flesh of Christ – but he immediately adds: "The mystery is great" (Eph 5,30 ss.). Nor does he intend to explain in what sense Adam spoke that word, but he wants to show, under the image, the parable of marriage, that sacred bond that unites us with Christ. This is also proved by the words: "I speak of Christ and the church" (5:32); thus he wants to distinguish the spiritual union of Christ with his church, for better explanation, from the order of the marriage state. Therefore, this useless babble of Osiander also disappears by itself. I also believe: it is not necessary to communicate any further silliness here; for this brief refutation of the one makes the folly of the other also already evident. For the children of God who seek solid nourishment, this simple, clear word will be fully sufficient: "But when the time was fulfilled, God sent his Son, born of a woman, and put under the law, that he might redeem them which were under the law …" (Gal 4:4).

Thirteenth chapter

Christ has truly taken on our human flesh.

II,13,1 I have already proven Christ’s divinity elsewhere with clear and certain evidence; if I see right, I do not need to do it again here. So we still have to see how he then, clothed with our flesh, carried out the office of mediator. That he was really and truly man, that has already been denied in ancient times by the Manichaeans and Marcionites. The Marcionites declared his body to be merely apparent, a ghost, the Manichaeans dreamt that he was endowed with heavenly flesh. But these two erroneous opinions are opposed by many and powerful testimonies of Scripture. The promise of blessing does not refer to a heavenly seed or to an illusory human being, but to the seed of Abraham and Jacob! (Gen 17:2; 22:18; 26:4). Also, the eternal throne of David is not ascribed to an ethereal man, but to the son of David, the fruit of his loins! (Ps 45:7). That is why He who was revealed in the flesh is called the Son of David and Abraham (Mt 1:1), not because He was born in the womb of the virgin, but because He was created in the ether, but because He was born according to the flesh of the seed of David (Rom 1:3); as the same Paul derives Christ’s origin from the Jews (Rom 9:5). Therefore the Lord Himself is not content with the designation "man", but He often also calls Himself the "Son of Man", in order to show that He is a man, really coming from the seed of men! So often and through so many instruments, with such zeal and simplicity, the Holy Spirit has set before us this matter, which in itself is by no means obscure, that one should not have expected the shamelessness of men ever to be so great that one would have tried to penetrate even to this point with his delusion! But there are still other testimonies available, if one still wants to compile more. For example the word of Paul: "… God sent his Son, born of a woman…". (Gal 4:4). In addition, there are also the countless passages in which we hear that the Lord suffered hunger, thirst, frost and other weaknesses corresponding to our nature! But I want to select especially those passages which are particularly suitable to encourage us inwardly to right trust in him. For example, when we hear that he did not do the angels the honor of taking on their nature, but took on our very nature, in order to take away in flesh and blood "through death the power of him who had the power of death …" (Hebr 2:16, 14). Or also: because He took on one nature with men, "He is not ashamed to call them brothers!" (Hebr 2:11). Or: "He had to become like his brethren in all things, that he might be merciful and a faithful high priest" (Hebr 2:17). And then also the word: "We do not have a high priest who could not have compassion on our infirmities …" (Hebr 4:15). This series could easily be continued. Here also belongs a passage already mentioned above, according to which He had to atone for our sins "in the likeness of sinful flesh", "in the flesh", as Paul explicitly emphasizes (Rom 8:3). For this very reason, what the Father has given Him is certainly ours: for He is the Head, "from whom the whole body is joined together, and one member clings to another through all the joints … and makes the whole body grow …" (Eph 4:16). Only in this way is it also true that, as Scripture says, he received the Holy Spirit without measure, so that we all "have received of his fullness grace for grace!" (John 1:16). For it would be quite absurd to think that God could be enriched in His essence by an alien gift! For this reason Christ himself says: "I sanctify myself for them" (John 17:19).

II,13,2 Now the false teachers also bring forward biblical passages to prove their point; but they twist them horribly, and with their empty sophistry they can do nothing when they try to overthrow my counter-proof. Marcion imagines that Christ only took on an illusory body because it says: "And was made like another man, and was found to be a man in appearance" (Phil 2,7). But he does not think about what Paul actually says here! For he is not talking about what kind of body Christ took on; he wants to show something completely different: Christ could have shown his divinity with full right; but he did not let anything be seen in him but the nature of a lowly and despised man! He wants to encourage us to follow the example of Jesus and to call us to the same obedience, and therefore he declares: he was God, and he was certainly able to make his glory shine before the world at all times, but he renounced his right and voluntarily humbled himself, he took the form of a servant and was content with such a lowly position, he allowed his deity to remain hidden behind the curtain of flesh! So Paul certainly does not teach here what kind of Christ was, but how he proved himself! It is also quite clear from the whole context that Christ really took on human nature in His humiliation. What else should it mean when we hear: "He was found to be a man in appearance"? Can it mean anything else than: His divine glory did not become visible for a time, but He appeared merely in lowly, despised state, in human form? Also Peter’s word: "He was killed according to the flesh, but made alive according to the Spirit" (1Pet 3,18) would have no sense at all, if the Son of God had not really borne weakness in human nature! Paul makes it even clearer when he speaks of Christ being "crucified in weakness …" (2Cor 13:4; Calvin adds: "of the flesh"). The exaltation of Christ also belongs here: it is expressly said that Christ attained new glory after his humiliation. But this can only be true of a man with body and soul. The Manichaeans dream of a heavenly flesh of Christ, because Christ would be called the "second Adam", namely "the Lord from heaven" (1Cor 15:47). But the apostle does not say that Christ’s body is heavenly in its nature; he says this about the spiritual power that comes from Christ and makes us alive! But Paul and Peter distinguish this power from his flesh, as we have seen! Thus, this alleged proof of the Manichaeans virtually means an excellent confirmation of the doctrine of Christ’s being in the flesh, which is held by all orthodox believers. For if Christ had not taken on the same bodily nature as we have, the sentence that Paul proclaims with such zeal would also come to nothing: "But if Christ is risen, then we also will rise; if there is no resurrection for us, then Christ is not risen either!" (1Cor 15:16; actually content note to 1Cor 15:12-20). Now, no matter how hard the Manichaeans or their modern-day followers try to bring this proof down, they will not be able to wriggle out of it! It is a quite miserable evasion if they now blather that Christ is called "the Son of Man" only if he had been promised to men. And it is clear that in Hebrew "Son of Man" simply means as much as "man"! Christ obviously kept the usual expression in his mother tongue. That also the expression "children of Adam" has the same meaning is indisputably so. But I do not want to be led astray any longer: the word from the eighth Psalm, which the apostles refer to Christ, is fully sufficient to prove this: "What is man that you remember him, and the Son of man that you take care of him? (Ps 8:5; Hebr 2:6). In this image Christ’s true humanity is expressed: he was not directly begotten by a mortal father, but he nevertheless took his origin from Adam! Only under this condition could also the apostle say, as we already indicated: "Now that the children have flesh and blood, he likewise became partaker of it …", namely to gather children to obedience to God! (Hebr 2:14). There it is clearly stated: Christ has been partaker of the same nature, has been subject to the same nature as we are! In the same sense also the sentence must be understood: "Since they all come from one, both he who sanctifies and they who are sanctified" (Hebr 2,11). For this, according to the context, must be referred to the sharing of the same nature: the apostle also immediately adds, "Therefore he is not ashamed to call them brethren!" (Hebr 2:11). If he had wanted to say before that the believers are also of God, there would be no reason for shame in the presence of such high dignity! But because Christ in His immeasurable grace associated Himself with filthy, ignoble people, there is reason to say: He was not ashamed! It does not help at all to object that under these circumstances even the ungodly would be Christ’s brethren; for we know that the children of God are born not of flesh and blood, but of the Holy Spirit, through faith! Therefore, the flesh by itself does not lead to this brotherhood! Although the apostle only gives the believers the honor of being one with Christ, it certainly cannot be concluded that unbelievers also originate from the same source. It is the same with the sentence that Christ became man in order to make us God’s children: this also does not simply refer to any human being, because faith stands in the middle, which spiritually integrates us into Christ’s body. Also with the expression "the firstborn" they raise all kinds of sophistical quarrels. For they conclude thus: Christ should have been born from Adam right at the beginning if he was to be "the firstborn among many brethren"! (Rom 8,29). But the expression "firstborn" does not refer at all to bodily age, but to rank and outstanding honor and power! Equally insubstantial is their talk that the sentence that Christ took on the nature of man and not that of the angels (Hebr 2,16) means only this, that he took on mankind in grace. The apostle only wants to put into perspective the honor of which Christ has honored us, and for this purpose he compares us with the angels, who are inferior to us in this respect! The whole dispute can be decided if we only consider the meaning of the testimony of Moses, where he speaks of the seed of the woman crushing the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15). For this does not refer to Christ alone, but to the whole human race. The victory of Christ should be given to us, and therefore God proclaims in general that the descendants of the woman would overcome the devil! But from this it follows: Christ was born from the human race; for God intended to encourage Eve with his address to cheerful hope, so that she would not succumb to her pain!

II,13,3 But there are passages in which Christ is called the "seed of Abraham" or the fruit of the loins of David! But the false teachers deal with these by covering them stupidly and impudently with allegorical interpretations. If the word "seed" had an allegorical meaning, Paul certainly did not conceal it, since he clearly explains without an image that it is not about many seeds of Abraham, thus about many redeemers, but only about the one, Christ (Gal 3:16). Similarly farcical is the claim that Jesus bears the title "Son of David" only because He was promised as such and then also revealed in His time (Rom 1:3). This is wrong; because Paul immediately adds to the title "Son of David": "according to the flesh"; so he clearly refers it to the nature. So he also calls him in the ninth chapter of Romans on the one hand "God, blessed forever" (9,5), and then he remarks on the other hand that he is descended from the Jews according to the flesh (9,5). If he was not really born of the seed of David, what was the point of saying that he was the fruit of his womb? (2Sam 7:12, Acts 2:30). What then should we do with the promise: "Behold, out of thy loins shall come forth He who shall dwell on thy throne forever"? (Ps 132:11). The false teachers also allow themselves a great, sophistical game with the gender register of Christ, as it is offered to us in Matthew. Matthew does not list Mary’s ancestors, but Joseph’s; but he is convinced that he is speaking of a fact that is well known everywhere, and therefore he is content with proving the origin of Joseph from the seed of David, since it was generally known that Mary came from the same lineage. Luke puts more emphasis on these things: he wants to show that salvation, as Christ brings it to us, is common to all mankind, because Christ, its bringer, comes from Adam, our common forefather! I admit that the proof of Christ’s Davidic Sonship can only be found in the genealogical register in so far as he was born of the Virgin Mary. But our new Marcionites would like to give their delusion a good coating and want to prove that Christ took his body from nothing: for this they claim in their mad arrogance that women have no seed – and thus reverse the course of nature in this way! But this dispute is not of a theological nature, and the reasons they put forward are so trivial that they do not really deserve any refutation; I will therefore pass over the philosophical and medical questions and deal only with the objections which they think they can justify with the Scriptures. So they say: Aaron and Jehoiada have taken wives from the tribe of Judah, so if the women had procreative sperm, then the tribes of Israel would have been mixed! But it is indeed well known that for the civil order the male seed determines the succession of the sexes; however, this political advantage of the male sex by no means cancels the mixing of the female seed with the male in procreation! This explanation applies to all sex registers. Often even the scripture mentions only the men in the gender registers – but should one therefore say that the women are nothing? Even children know that they are tacitly named with the men. Therefore one says also, the woman gives birth "to her man"; because the name of the sex always remains with the man. But just as the privileged position of the male sex is expressed in the fact that the children are of noble or non-noble birth according to the status of their father, so, on the other hand, among the jurists there is also the proposition that in serfdom the children follow the mother. From this it can be seen that the fruit of the womb comes partly from the mother; that is why mothers are called "procreators" in all peoples and at all times. In addition also the law of God agrees; it forbids as well known the marriage of an uncle with his niece – and that would be wrong, if not here blood relationship (consanguinitas) would be present! Then it should also be allowed that a man takes his biological sister as wife, if they both have one and the same mother, but not the same father! I certainly admit that women have only passive power in procreation; but on the other hand I also maintain that the same is consistently said of them as of men. It is not said that Christ was born of a woman, but that he was "born of a woman" (Gal 4:4). (Gal 4:4). But now there are people in the heresy group who take their insolence so far that they ask us whether we think that Christ was born of the monthly excreted seed of the virgin. To such people I ask the counter-question whether he has not really grown together with the blood of the mother – and then they must admit it! It is clear from Matthew: because Christ was born of Mary the virgin, He was also born of her seed; just like it is said that Boaz was born of Rahab (Mt 1:5), where the same process is pointed out. Nor does Matthew here present the matter as if the Virgin Mary were like a channel through which Christ came to us; but he distinguishes this miraculous begetting from the ordinary one in that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin and of David’s seed! For as it is said that Isaac was born of Abraham, Solomon of David, and Joseph of Jacob, so of Him it is said that He was born – of His mother! According to this point of view the evangelist has put together his lineage; since he wants to prove that Christ is descended from David, it is enough for him that he is born of Mary. So he took it for granted that Mary and Joseph were blood relatives!

II,13,4 The senselessness with which they want to burden us is full of childish invectives. Thus they say: For Christ it would be a disgrace, a stain, if he derived his origin from men; because then he could not be exempted from the general law, which keeps every descendant of Adam without exception under sin. But this knot can now easily be untied by the comparison which we hear in Paul. "Therefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin … so also through one righteousness justification of life came upon all men" (Rom 5:12, 18). There is also the other juxtaposition: "The first man is of the earth and earthly, the other man is the Lord from heaven!" (1Cor 15:47). Therefore the apostle also teaches in another place that God "sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh" to make satisfaction for the law (Rom 8,3); but he explicitly excludes Him from the general human lot and shows how He was a true man, yet without sin and depravity! Against this one now makes the childish objection: If therefore Christ is untouched by all stain, if he is born of the seed of Mary by the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit – then therefore the female seed is not impure, but only that of the man! But we do not declare Jesus Christ pure from all defilement because He was born of His mother only, without any contact with a man, but rather because the Holy Spirit sanctified Him, so that it was a pure and undefiled generation, as it would have been before the fall of Adam! But we want to hold on to this under all circumstances: Where the Holy Scriptures speak to us of the sinlessness of Christ, they are thinking of true human nature; for it would be superfluous to say that God is sinless! Nor would the "sanctification" of which we hear John 17 speak fit the divine nature. By the way, we do not assume two seeds of Adam, if Christ, who is also descended from him, has not been defiled in any way. For human procreation is in and of itself by no means impure or corrupt, but it has become so through the fall! Therefore it is not surprising if Christ, who was supposed to restore the original purity, was exempt from the general corruption. Certainly, even here we are reproached that it is absurd that God’s eternal Word should have taken on flesh and thus have been enclosed in the narrow, earthly house of bondage of the body; but this is really pure impudence: for the Word, though it is true that in the immensity of his being he grew together with the nature of man into one person, yet he was not enclosed in it! This is the great miracle: the Son of God descended from heaven – and yet did not leave it; he was born of the virgin, walked on earth, yes, he hung with his will on the cross – and yet he has always filled the whole world, as in the beginning!

Chapter Fourteen

How the two natures form the person of the mediator.

II,14,1 When it is said: "the Word became flesh" – this is not to be understood as if the Word was transformed into flesh or mixed with the flesh. Rather, it happened because out of the womb of the virgin, it was to see for itself a temple in which to dwell, because He, the Son of God, became the Son of Man, and this not through the mingling of the basic being, but through the unity of the person. But this union and unification of the Godhead with human nature is – as we maintain – of such a nature that each nature perfectly retains what belongs to it, and yet from these two the one Christ has become. If we are to name something that might be comparable to this sublime mystery, we might best consider man himself: he also consists of two basic beings; and yet neither is so mixed with the other as to lose its own character! For the soul is not the body, and the body is not the soul. Therefore, many things can be said of the soul that can in no way be said of the body, and again also many things of the body that under no circumstances apply to the soul; also of the whole man many things can be said that can neither be applied to the soul alone, nor to the body without shifting the content! Finally, one can transfer qualities of the soul to the body and qualities of the body to the soul – and still man, who consists of body and soul, is one and not several. If one speaks of man in this way, it results on the one hand that he is one person, which is composed of two connected parts, but that on the other hand there are two different natures, which form that person. In this way the Scripture also speaks of Christ. On the one hand, it attributes to him that which, according to his nature, must necessarily be related to the human nature, on the other hand, it also attributes to him that which is clearly peculiar to the Godhead in a special way, but often also that which is common to both natures, but belongs to neither of them in a special way! Of this union of natures that takes place in Christ, Scripture speaks with fluency in such a way that it assigns the peculiarity of the one also to the other; this way of teaching about things is what the ancient teachers of the Church call "mutual sharing of properties" (idiomaton koinonia, communicatio idiomatum).

II,14,2 These considerations, however, would have little validity, if there were not clear passages of the Holy Scripture, which prove that these sentences are not invented by man. Christ says of Himself: "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58) – this obviously does not fit human nature in any way. I know very well what nonsense the false spirits bring up here in order to misinterpret this passage: they say: Christ is there in that sense earlier than all times, because he was already known as the Redeemer in the counsel of the Father and then also in the sense of the pious. But he himself makes a clear distinction between the day of his revelation and his eternal being and essence, and expressly ascribes to himself the dominion that has existed since the beginning, which elevates him far above Abraham; but in so doing he undoubtedly claims divine peculiarity for himself. Paul calls him "the firstborn before all creatures", who was before everything and "through whom all things were created" (Col 1:15f.). He himself speaks of the "clarity that I had with you before the world was . ." (John 17:5). He declares: "My Father works until now, and I also work" (John 5,17). These statements, too, cannot refer to man any more than the first one mentioned; so we must certainly attribute them to the Godhead in a special way. But on the other hand He is called the "servant" of the Father (Isa 42,1 and more); we read: "And He increased in age, wisdom and grace with God and men" (Lk 2:52). He himself says: "I do not seek my glory …" (John 8:50). According to His own statement, He does not know the last day (Mark 13:32). He declares, "The words that I speak, I speak not of Myself …" (John 14:10). He also does not do His own will (John 6:38). He has been seen and touched (Lk 24:39). All this belongs to human nature alone! For as God he cannot grow, as God he acts in everything from himself, as God nothing is hidden from him, as God he always does his own will, as God he is not visible, not touchable! And yet he does not make these statements from his human nature alone (separated from his "person"), but he relates them to himself (as "person"), since they belong to his mediator person! The "mutual sharing of attributes" we find, for example, in Paul’s word: "(The church) which He (God!) purchased by His own blood!" (Acts 20:28), or also in his sentence: "Otherwise they would not have crucified the Lord of glory!" (1Cor 2:8). This is also the case when John speaks of the "word of life", "which … our hands have touched …" (1Jn 1:1). For God certainly has no blood, he is certainly not capable of suffering, he is not touched with hands. But Christ, who was true God and true man, shed his blood for us on the cross, and therefore what he has accomplished according to his human nature, is at the same time also said of the divine nature, certainly inauthentically, but truly not without reason! It is similar with the passage 1Jn 3:16, where we hear that God "laid down his life for us". Here, too, one peculiarity of human nature is given at the same time to the other. On the other hand, Christ says during His walk on earth: "And no one goes up to heaven but He who came down from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven!" (John 3:13). Surely he was not in heaven at that time after man and in his flesh, which he had taken on. But he was God and man at the same time – and because of the unity and mutual commonality of the natures he could ascribe to the one what actually belonged to the other!

II,14,3 But the nature of Christ is most clearly described in those passages which speak of both natures at the same time. Such are found in great number, especially in the Gospel of John. For example, it cannot be attributed exclusively to the Godhead, nor in a special way to humanity, but must be attributed to both at the same time, when it says that Christ received the authority to forgive sins from the Father (John 1:29; Mt 9:6), or the authority to raise up whom He wants (John 5:21), or also to distribute righteousness, holiness and blessedness, or also: He was set as judge over the living and the dead, He should be honored as the Father (John 5,21 ss.). In the same direction it goes when He is called "the light of the world" (John 8:12; 9,5), the "good shepherd", the "only door" (John 10:9.12) or also the "right vine" (John 15:1). For these were the special prerogatives with which God’s Son was endowed when He was revealed in the flesh; He had exercised them together with the Father even before the world began, though in a different way and in a different respect, and these prerogatives could never have been granted to a man who had been nothing but a man! In the same sense it will have to be understood when Paul writes that Christ will hand over "the kingdom to God and the Father" after the judgment (1Cor 15:24). The kingdom of the Son of God certainly has no beginning and can have no end. But He hid Himself under the lowliness of the flesh, emptied Himself and took on the form of a servant, laid down all the glory of His divine majesty and was obedient to the Father until the end (Phil 2,8) – but then after the completion of this act of obedience He was crowned with glory and honor (Hebr 2,9) and raised to supreme dominion (Phil 2,10), so that now all knees shall bow before Him; and so He will one day lay His glorious name and the crown of honor, all that the Father has given Him, also at the Father’s feet, "that God may be all in all" (1Cor 15,28). For to what end did the Father give him power and dominion, but that he might rule us through him? Similarly, we must understand when the Scripture tells us that He sits at the right hand of the Father (Rom 8:34 and others). But this lasts only for a time, namely until we are allowed to see God present. Here some of the ancients committed an inexcusable error: they did not pay proper attention to Christ’s position as mediator and therefore obscured the original meaning of almost the entire teaching of Christ as it confronts us in John’s Gospel, but entangled themselves in many pitfalls. Let us therefore hold it as the key to the right understanding of these things: Statements concerning the office of Mediator must never be referred to the divine or even to the human nature by itself. Christ, then, will reign until he comes forth as the world’s judge; that is, he unites us to the Father according to the measure of our weakness. But when we have become partakers of the heavenly glory, when we see God as He is, then Christ has finally completed His mediatorial office, then He ceases to be the Father’s emissary, then He will again take possession of the glory which He had with the Father before the foundation of the world was laid! Only in this sense the name "Lord" fits to the person of Christ, namely only in so far as he takes a mediating position between God and us. Here belongs the word of Paul: "There is one God, from whom are all things, and one Lord, through whom are all things!" (1Cor 8:6); for the Lord is given temporal dominion by the Father until we may behold his divine majesty face to face: then he returns his office of dominion to the Father; but this then does not mean a diminution of his glory, no, it then shines forth even more radiantly! Then God is also no longer the head of Christ; for the divinity of Christ, which is now still veiled to us as under a curtain, then shines in its own splendor!

II,14,4 If the reader applies these observations rightly, many tangled knots are thus untied. It is really strange how much unlearned and even somewhat knowledgeable people take offense at such expressions, which obviously refer to Christ, but seem to them to fit neither his Godhead nor his humanity: they just do not pay attention to the fact that these designations refer to his (indivisible) person, in whom he revealed himself as God and man, and to his mediatorial office. In this context, one can always perceive how well these individual designations sound together, if only they find an understanding interpreter who searches through these high mysteries with due reverence (compare Augustin, Handbüchlein an Laurentius, 36). But, after all, it is nothing that mad, fanatical spirits do not throw into confusion! They take the characteristics of the human nature – and want to deny the divinity with it, and vice versa they use the characteristics of the divine nature to deny Christ the true humanity! And what is said about both natures at the same time, and thus can be attributed to none alone, they use to deny both! This means nothing else than this: Christ is denied humanity because he is God, and he is denied divinity because he is man: in the final result he is neither God nor man because he is man and God! But we hold Christ, because he is God and man, and the two natures are united but not mixed in him, to be our Lord and the Son of God – even according to his human nature, of course, not for its sake! Therefore, we do not want to have anything to do with the error of Nestorius: he wanted to separate the two natures from each other instead of merely distinguishing them, and thereby he came to the delusional idea of a, so to speak, double Christ. The Holy Scriptures object to this with a clear voice, for He who was born of the Virgin Mary is called the Son of God (Lk 1:32), and the Mother is called the "Mother of our Lord" (Lk 1:43). Likewise, we must beware of the delusion of Eutyche: otherwise, although we would strive to express the unity of the person as clearly as possible, we would deprive both natures of their proper nature. We have already cited a large number of scriptural passages in which Christ’s divinity is distinguished from his humanity, and there are others everywhere in Scripture, so that in this respect it is possible to shut the mouths of even the most quarrelsome people. I will also add some things in a moment which may better destroy this figment of the imagination; for the present, a single passage may suffice us: Christ calls His body a temple (John 2,19) – He could not have said that at all, if the Godhead would not have had its dwelling place in Him alone (differentiated from the body)! It was right that Nestorius was condemned in the synod of Ephesus and then later also Eutyches in the synods of Constantinople and Chalcedon; for one must neither mix nor separate the two natures in Christ.

II,14,5 But now in our times an equally dangerous monster has appeared, namely Michael Servet. He replaces the Son of God with an image that is supposed to be composed of God’s nature, the spirit, the flesh and three uncreated elements! First of all he makes the assertion that Christ is the Son of God only because and insofar as he was born of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. The purpose of this deceitful proposition is this: he wants to put aside the distinction of the two natures, and then Christ is supposed to be something that would be mixed together from God and man, but would be neither God nor man! Above all, his whole procedure is aimed at the proposition that God, before the revelation of Christ in the flesh, had only carried shadow-images in Himself, and that these shadow-images only attained to truth and effect when that "Word", whom God had chosen for this honor, began to be the Son of God. But now we claim that the mediator, born of the Virgin Mary, is truly the Son of God. Nor could the man Christ have been the mirror of the inconceivable grace of God, if he had not been endowed with the dignity by which he was and was called the only begotten Son of God. But in this connection it is absolutely necessary to adhere to the usual form of expression in the church: Christ is called the Son of God because, as the Word begotten of the Father before all time, he assumed human nature in personal union. The term "personal union" (unio hypostatica) was used by the ancients because it refers to the union of the two natures into one person. The term was used to defend against the delusion of Nestorius, who imagined that the Son of God dwelt in the flesh in such a way that He did not become man Himself. Now Servet accuses us of imagining a twofold Son of God, because we say that the eternal Word was already the Son of God before the Incarnation occurred – and with that we only say: He was revealed in the flesh! If he was already God before he became man, he did not become a new God with the incarnation! Nor is it absurd to say that the Son of God, who was certainly already the Son by eternal generation, has now appeared in the flesh. This is also shown by the words of the angel to Mary: "The holy one who will be born of you will be called the Son of God" (Lk 1:35). This means that the name of the Son, who was somewhat hidden under the law, is now to become highly famous and well-known! Paul’s words are also true: "Because we are children of God through Christ, we freely and confidently cry out, ’Abba, dear Father’" (Rom 8:15; quoted according to the sense). But were not the holy fathers also counted among the children of God in ancient times? Certainly, they relied on their filial rights when they called on God as their Father! But since God’s only begotten Son came into the world, this fatherhood of God has become more clearly known, and Paul counts this among the special privileges which Christ’s kingdom brings us! But of course it has to be noted: God has never shown Himself to angels or men! – God has never shown himself as a father to angels or men, but only in view of his only begotten Son! In particular, men, who are hated by God through their own unrighteousness, are children of God only through gracious acceptance; for Christ is by nature the Son of God! Now here Servet objects without reason that this gracious acceptance is dependent on God’s having decided with Himself to have a Son; but it is not a question here of the examples – thus, for instance, of the outward representation of the atonement in the animal sacrifice! But it is not a question of the examples – that is, of the external representation of the atonement in the animal sacrifice! – but of the thing itself: and there the sentence applies that the fathers could not really have become children of God if their acceptance into the childship had not been founded in their head; if, therefore, one wanted to deny to the head what the members all possess (namely, real childship), this would simply be senseless! Yes, I go even further: The Scriptures also call the angels sons of God (Ps 82:6); this their high dignity was not dependent on the future redemption; and nevertheless Christ had to be set before them in order to bring them into fellowship with the Father. I will repeat this shortly, and apply it to men. Angels and men were already created in the original creation for God to be their common father – for Paul is surely right when he says that Christ has always been the head, the "firstborn before all creatures", the holder of the dominion over all (Col 1:15)! But if this is true, then I believe I must also rightly conclude that Christ was the Son of God even before the creation of the world!

II,14,6 If – if I have to express myself this way – the Sonship of Christ had its beginning only with His revelation in the flesh, then it would have to follow that He had been (God’s) Son also with regard to His human nature. Servet and other swarm spirits now have the opinion that Christ as the one who appeared in the flesh is the son of God, because without the flesh he could not bear this name at all. But they shall now tell me whether he is the son according to both natures and in both respects. That is what they actually say – but Paul teaches quite differently! For my part, I admit that Christ in his human form is called the Son; but this is not in the sense in which believers bear this title, by adoption and by grace, but he is truly and by nature the Son and therefore of a unique position, he is the only Son, and this raises him above all others! God certainly bestows on us, who have been born again to new life, the name "children of God," but the true and only begotten Son is Christ alone. He is only in such a large group of brothers of unique dignity, because he has by nature what we receive as a gift! This honor, however, refers to the whole person of the Mediator: he who was born of the Virgin Mary, who gave himself on the cross as a sacrifice to the Father, is in truth and in the proper sense the Son of God. He is the Son of God by virtue of his divinity, as Paul clearly teaches: "Paul … set apart to preach the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand … Of his Son, born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and powerfully manifested a Son of God …" (Rom 1:1-4; in selections). So he explicitly calls him "Son of David according to the flesh" - and then still especially declares that he is "proved to be the Son of God … proven". With this he only wants to imply that this dignity depends on something else than the flesh itself! For in the same sense in which he says that Christ suffered "in weakness" but was raised "by the power of God" (2Cor 13:4; Calvin says: "of the Spirit"), he also makes a distinction here between the two natures. So, just as Christ – the opponents must confess this to us! – receives from his mother that which gives him the right to be called David’s son, so he has received from the Father that dignity according to which he is called God’s son, and this dignity is quite distinct from his human nature. Thus, the Holy Scripture gives him a double name: it calls him sometimes the Son of God, sometimes the Son of Man. There can be no dispute about the designation "Son of Man": he is called "Son of Man" according to the Hebrew usage, because he is descended from Adam. On the other hand, I maintain: he bears the title "Son of God" for the sake of his deity, his eternal being; for one must refer the expression "Son of God" to his deity in the same way as we refer the designation "Son of Man" to his humanity! We also have to remember the passage from the Epistle to the Romans: there we hear that he who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh was proved to be the Son of God according to the power of God; but this is meant in exactly the same way as we read elsewhere: "… from whom Christ came according to the flesh, who is God, blessed for ever and ever!" (Rom 9,5). So in both passages (Rom 1 and Rom 9) a clear difference is made between both natures. But how can we deny that Christ is the Son of God according to His divinity and the Son of Man according to His humanity?

II,14,7 But our opponents try to defend their error with great clamor. They first point to the sentence that God "did not spare His own Son …" (Rom 8,32). They also point out that the angel gave the instruction to call the one born of woman "Son of the Most High". But so that they do not get into arrogance over such a groundless objection, we want to consider a little together what this conclusion is good for. If the sentence rightly exists that the Son of God only took his beginning with the conception, because he who was conceived was called "son" – then it results further: he has also only been word since he was revealed in the flesh – as John also speaks of the "word of life", which his "hands have touched"! (1Jn 1:1). But now I remind you of the word of the prophet: "And you Bethlehem in the land of Judah, which are little among the thousands in Judah, out of you shall come to me the duke, who shall be ruler over my people Israel, which have been the goings forth from the beginning and from everlasting!" (Micah 5:1). What do they want to say now to the interpretation of this passage, if they want to remain with their above argumentation? I have already clearly stated that we, for our part, do not think of agreeing with Nestorius, who imagined a twofold Christ. For we teach that Christ makes us children of God through fraternal union with Himself, because in the flesh, which He took from us men, He was God’s only begotten Son. For this reason, Augustine also rightly calls it a glorious proof of God’s special grace that Christ, as a man, received an honor that he could not earn as a man. For Christ was already adorned from his mother’s womb with the glorious dignity of being the Son of God. Nevertheless, this unity of person does not mean a mixture that would deprive Christ’s divinity of its own being. For the fact that the eternal Word of God, on the one hand, and Christ, in whom the two natures are united into one person, on the other hand, bear the title "Son of God" in different relations – this is just as senseless as the fact that He is called Son of God, or Son of man, depending on the relationship that prevails at the moment! Servet brings up another invective, but it is just as unimportant to us: he says that Christ was never called "Son of God" before his appearance in the flesh, except in figurative speech. Certainly, under the law there were only dark intimations of him; but we have already shown: he was eternal God only because he was the Word begotten of the eternal Father, and this name (Son of God, eternal God) only accrues to the person of the Mediator he assumed because he is God, revealed in the flesh; nor would God be called the Father from the beginning if it were not for the reciprocal relationship with the Son, from whom all kinship and fatherhood comes in heaven and on earth (Eph 3,15). From this it follows immediately that he was the Son of God even under the law and the prophets, when the name "Son of God" was not yet universally known in the church. But if the dispute is only about the name "Son of God", I would also like to refer to Solomon: he speaks of the immeasurable majesty of God and then claims that the Son of God is as incomprehensible as God Himself: "Tell me His name, if you can, or tell me the name of His Son…" (Prov 30:4; not Luther text). I know well that argumentative people will not find this scriptural testimony sufficient; I do not want to base myself particularly on it either; but one thing it shows sufficiently: the people who want to consider Christ to be the Son of God only insofar as he became man are malicious blasphemers! Even the oldest ecclesiastical writers have unanimously and clearly expressed the doctrine we hold; and therefore it is ridiculous and impertinent at the same time if one dares to hold Irenaeus or Tertullian against me, both of whom clearly testify that he who afterwards appeared visibly in the flesh was already before invisibly the Son of God.

II,14,8 Servet has piled up abominable monstrosities, and perhaps not all of his companions will subscribe to everything he says. But if one forces these people, who want to recognize the Son of God only in the incarnate, to more exact statements, then they will also immediately admit that Christ is the Son of God only because he was conceived in the body of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. In this way, the Manichaeans also claimed in ancient times that man receives his soul by God letting it pass over to him: because they read that God gave Adam "a living breath in his nostrils" (Gen 2:7). Then they understand the name "son" so exactly that they do not leave any distinction between the "natures", but yelp confusedly that the man Christ is God’s son, because he was born of God according to his human nature. Thus the eternal begetting of wisdom, of which Solomon speaks (Isa Sir. 24,14), is rejected, and the deity of the mediator is left unnoticed – or a ghost takes the place of man! It would be worth the trouble to refute still other great delusions of Servet here, with which he deceived himself and others - just this example should be a warning to the pious reader not to let himself be led away from sobriety and modesty in teaching! But I think that it would be superfluous here, because I have written a special book about it. The doctrine of Servet has to the core the sentence: the Son of God was in the beginning an idea, a thought; and he was already then destined to become a man, who would be now according to the nature of God’s image. As the "Word" of God, then, Servet recognizes only an external appearance. Servet understands the begetting of the Son in this way: God had from the beginning begotten the will to beget the Son, and this will then actually proved itself in the creature itself. In this way Servet mixes spirit and word, because God (according to his opinion) should have sunk the invisible word and the spirit into flesh and soul. Thus, for him, the figurative conception of Christ takes the place of the begetting; of course, in his opinion, this Son, who at that time was merely represented in shadow, was finally begotten by the Word – which he effectively thinks of as "seed"! – was begotten. From this follows then actually: Pigs and dogs are also God’s children, because also they should be created from the original seed of the word of God! For he lets Christ be formed of three uncreated basic materials – which means with him as much as: to be begotten of God’s essence – but Christ is the firstborn before all creatures only in the sense that also the stones have a certain essential divinity – only according to their own degree! Of course he wants to avoid the impression as if he now denies Christ his Godhead; therefore he claims that Christ’s flesh is of one essence with God; or he also says that the Word became man by the fact that the flesh was changed into God! Under his presuppositions he can consider Christ to be the Son of God only if his flesh comes from God’s essence and is transformed into divine essence – but in this way he nullifies the very eternal person of the Word and snatches away from us the Son of David who was promised to us as Redeemer. He repeats this often: the son was born of God, namely in God’s knowledge and election – but then he finally became man out of that substance which was visible in the beginning with God in the three elements, then appeared in that first, original light of the world as well as in the pillar of cloud and fire! It would lead too far, if I wanted to show now also how madly he contradicts himself at times. In any case, the reader may have gathered from this summary account how every hope of salvation perishes over the ambiguous creeps of this impure man. For if the flesh itself is the Godhead, it is no longer its temple. Also no one can be our redeemer but he who comes from Abraham’s and David’s seed and really became man after the flesh. It is therefore wrong when Servet refers with such zeal to the word in John: "The Word became flesh …"; because this word, which so sharply opposes the error of Nestorius, on the other hand does not encourage the godless phantasmagoria, as it was raised by Eutyches: The evangelist only wanted to emphasize the unity of the person in the two natures!

Fifteenth chapter

If we want to know what Christ was sent by the Father for and what he has brought us, we must first of all consider his threefold office, the prophetic, the royal and the priestly.

II,15,1 Augustine rightly emphasizes that the heretics want to preach the name of Christ, but they do not stand on the same foundation as the faithful; this foundation belongs to the Church alone; indeed, if one carefully considers all that is meant when one speaks of Christ, Christ lives with them only in name, but not in fact (Manual to Laurentius, 5). This is how it is with the papists today. Certainly they always speak of the "Son of God", the "Redeemer of the world"; however, they are satisfied with the empty name, but they take away all power and dignity from it, and therefore Paul’s word really applies to them: they do not "hold to the head" (Col 2,19). If, then, faith is really to find in Christ the firm foundation of all salvation, if it is to rest entirely on him, the principle must apply: the office which the Father has entrusted to him comprises three tasks. He is set before us as prophet, king and priest. But it would be of little use to hold on to these three terms alone: we must also know what they mean and what they are good for. For they are also pronounced by the papists, but without inner involvement and without great fruit: one has just there no idea of what each of these praises means. As I said before, God has sent one prophet after another in uninterrupted succession, never leaving his people without the salvific teaching, never withholding from them what was sufficient for salvation. But nevertheless the pious have always been sure that only from the coming of the Messiah the full light of knowledge is to be hoped for. This conviction has penetrated even to the Samaritans, who never knew the true worship of God. This is evident from the words of the woman at Jacob’s well: "When the Messiah comes, he will teach us all things" (John 4:25). The Jews, however, did not just make this up themselves, but they knew it from clear revelatory words of God, and therefore they believed it. Of special importance is the word of Isaiah: "Behold, I have set him as a witness to the people, as a prince and ruler to the nations" (Isa 55,4). So he is also called before as messenger and interpreter of the great council of God (Isa 9,5). The apostle also expresses it in a similar way: he praises the perfection of the teaching of the gospel and says: "After God spoke before times sometimes and in many ways to the fathers through the prophets, he has spoken to us in the last in these days through his Son …" (Hebr 1:1 s.). But the common office of the prophets was to keep the church in expectation and at the same time to strengthen it until the coming of the Mediator; and so the faithful at the time of the dispersion complained that this God-ordained benefit was withdrawn from them: "Our signs we see not, and no prophet preacheth any more, and none with us knoweth how long!" (Ps 74:9). But when the coming of Christ was nearer, a time was given to Daniel in which the visions and the prophet himself were to find their sealing (Dan 9:24). This was done not only to secure the reputation of the prophecy in question, but also so that the faithful could patiently do without the prophets for a time, in the certainty that all revelations were now about to be fulfilled and decided!

III,15,2 Now we must further consider that the name "Christ", the "Anointed", encompasses all these three offices. For under the law, as we know, prophets as well as priests as well as kings were anointed with the holy oil. Therefore the name Messiah (= the anointed = Christ) was also attached to the promised mediator. I am indeed – as I have already explained – of the opinion that with this designation "Messiah" the royal office was thought of in a special way; but also the prophetic and priestly anointing retain their dignity and must not be overlooked by us. Christ’s prophetic anointing is mentioned in Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me … to preach to the wretched, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives … To proclaim a pleasant year of the Lord …" (Isa 61:1 s.). We see that he was anointed by the Spirit to be a herald and witness of the Father’s grace; and this witnessing office was not the usual one: the prophet is distinguished from the other teachers, with whose office he has something in common. On the other hand, we must take heed: Christ did not receive this anointing for himself alone, so that he might properly exercise the office of teacher, but for his whole body (the congregation), so that in the perpetual proclamation of the gospel the power of the Spirit might work itself out accordingly. It is quite certain that through the perfect teaching which he has brought, all prophecy has come to an end; whoever, therefore, does not want to be satisfied with the gospel and adds all kinds of strange things to it, diminishes the reputation of Christ and his teaching. For the voice that came to him from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, him you shall hear!" (Mt 17,5 cf. Mt 3,17), this voice raised Him infinitely above all others! Then, of course, this anointing from the head also came to the members, as Joel had predicted: "And your sons shall prophesy, and your daughters shall see visions" (Jo. 3,1; not Luther text). It has about the same meaning when Paul writes that Christ is given to us for wisdom (1Cor 1:30) or "in him" are "hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3). For apart from Him nothing is of use to know, and whoever has grasped His nature in faith has embraced all the goods of heaven in their fullness! That is why Paul writes elsewhere: "I did not consider myself to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ crucified!" (1Cor 2:2). This is absolutely true: for it is forbidden to us by God to want to go beyond the simplicity of the Gospel. The prophetic dignity, as Christ holds it, should therefore also lead us to the understanding that in the teaching as he has given it to us all wisdom is concluded in perfect fullness.

II,15,3 I now come to the kingship of Christ. But it is in vain to speak a word about it if the readers are not first reminded that it is of a spiritual nature. For only then can we speak of what it serves and what it gives us, only then can we speak of its full power and eternity. In Daniel the angel attributes this eternity to the person of Christ (Dan 2,44); and in Luke again an angel rightly speaks of the eternity of the salvation that is given to the people! But this eternity is also of a twofold nature and relationship: on the one hand it extends to the whole Church, on the other hand it is specific to each individual member of the Church. To the first relation the Ps word points us: "I once swore to David by my holiness, and I will not lie: His seed shall be eternal, and his throne before me as the sun, as the moon he shall be preserved forever, and as the witness in the clouds he shall be sure" (Ps 89:36-38; beginning not Luther text). Here God obviously promises that through the hand of his Son he wants to be protection and support for his church at all times. Nowhere else than only in Christ does this prophecy come to true fulfillment; for the dignity of the kingdom of David fell apart for the most part soon after Solomon’s death, and it was transferred to the disgrace of the house of David to a man not called to it, until it finally declined more and more and finally sadly, miserably perished! – The same sense has also the exclamation of Isaiah: "Who will speak out the length (of his generations) of his life?" (Isa 53,8). He speaks of how Christ will overcome death, and in doing so he joins it with his members. So when we hear that Christ will be endowed with eternal power, we must always remember that here we are speaking of the protection which shall preserve the Church forever, so that in the midst of all the whirling convulsions to which she is ever and ever exposed, in the midst of all the heavy, terrible storms which threaten to crush her innumerable times, she will yet remain unscathed! Thus David also ridicules the defiance of the enemies who want to throw off God’s and His anointed yoke: he pronounces that the kings and nations rage in vain, because "He who dwells in heaven" is still strong enough to withstand their onslaught (Ps 2:3f.); and thus he gives the faithful the assurance that the Church will be preserved forever, and encourages them to cheerful hope when they see the Church oppressed. In this sense, the psalmist also speaks elsewhere, in the name of God: "Sit at my right hand, until I make my enemies your footstool!" (Ps 110:1); there he wants to tell us: many and mighty enemies may have conspired to destroy the church, but their powers are not sufficient to shake that unchangeable counsel of God, according to which he has set his Son as eternal king! Therefore, the devil, with all the power of the world, can never destroy the Church, which is founded on the eternal reign of Christ. But this eternity of Christ’s kingdom also has great significance for each individual: it should establish and strengthen in us the hope of blessed immortality. For what is earthly and belongs to this world is, as we see, temporal, indeed it easily falls away; so then Christ, in order to direct our hope to heaven, clearly promised it: "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36). If we hear at all – each one of us! – hear of Christ’s kingdom being spiritual, this may awaken in us the hope of a better life; and what is now protected by Christ’s hand shall cheerfully expect the ripe fruit of that grace for eternity!

II,15,4 I said above: we can grasp the power and blessing of Christ’s kingship only when we consider that it is spiritual. This is already made clear to us by the fact that we have to struggle under the cross all our lives and that our existence is miserable and hard! What should it help us that we are united under the rule of the heavenly King – if its fruits would not come to us outside of this life? Therefore, let us never forget that the blessedness promised to us in Christ does not consist in earthly comforts: it is not a matter of living a cheerful and unstruggling life, of having rich possessions, of being untouched by all hardship, all harm, and of having in abundance all the pleasures in which the flesh delights. No, the point is that we are granted the heavenly life! And just as in this life the prosperity and well-being of a people depend on having sufficient possessions and peace within on the one hand, and on the other hand secure protection outside, so that they are immune to all external violence, so also Christ abundantly equips His own with all that is necessary for the eternal salvation of the soul, and also fortifies them with His power, so that they stand invincible against all attempts of spiritual enemies! Thus Christ’s reign is for our sake rather than for his, both inwardly and outwardly. For we are to receive the full riches of the gifts of the spirit, which are completely lacking in us by nature, as far as God considers it useful – and by these first fruits we are to recognize that we are in communion with God until full blessedness! But then we should boldly rely on this power of the spirit and not doubt that we will always be victorious against the devil and the world and everything that wants to harm us! This is also the point of the word Jesus spoke to the Pharisees: the kingdom of God is within us and therefore does not come with outward gestures! (Lk 17,20 s.). Probably the Pharisees had mockingly challenged the Lord, who declared Himself to be the King, from whom God’s highest blessings should be expected, to show them His royal signs. But he wants to show them that they should not foolishly stop at external pomp – they were already too attached to earthly things anyway! And therefore he points them to their own conscience – because the kingdom of God is "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! (Rom 14,17). Now we hear briefly what is granted to us in Christ’s kingdom; for it is not earthly and not carnal, subject to general ruin, but it is spiritual and leads us to eternal life: So then, in our life, under misery and want, under cold and contempt, under ignominy and all other hardships, let us cheerfully endure, and be satisfied with one thing, that our King will never leave us, that he will never refuse us his help in our trouble, until we have fought our battle through, and are called to triumph; for this is the manner of his reign, that he restores to us all that he himself has received from the Father. But because he equips us with his power, crowns us with honor and glory, provides us abundantly with all good things, therefore we have more than enough reason to boast, therefore we can never lack joyful confidence, so that we can fearlessly fight the battle with the devil, sin and death! Thus, clothed with his righteousness, we shall bravely overcome all the reviling of the world. And as he himself abundantly showers us with all his gifts, so shall we in turn bear him fruit for his glory!

II,15,5 Therefore his royal anointing was not with oil and delicious spices, but he is called the Anointed of God, because on him rests the "spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord" (Isa 11:2). This is the "oil of gladness" with which, according to the words of the 45th Psalm, he is anointed "more than his fellows" (Ps 45:8); if he were not so glorious and perfect, we would all be poor and hungry! All this has not been given to him – as I already said – for himself alone (privatim), but he is to give his abundance to the hungry and thirsty overflowing! For it can be said of Him that the Father did not give Him the Spirit "according to measure" (John 3:34), and the reason is that we should all take grace for grace out of His fullness! (John 1:16). From this fountain flows the gift that Paul remembers: "But to each one of us grace is given according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Eph 4:7). This is sufficient proof of what I said above, namely that the kingdom of Christ has its essence in the spirit and not in earthly pleasure or earthly splendor. Therefore, if we want to participate in this kingdom, we must renounce the world. A visible sign of this holy anointing is given to us in the baptism of Christ: there the Holy Spirit came over Him in the form of a dove (John 1:32; Lk 3:22). That I call the communication of the Spirit and His gifts an anointing (cf. also 1Jn 2:20,27) is not new and cannot seem contradictory; for only from there do we receive vitalization, and especially as far as heavenly life is concerned, there is not a drop of power in us that the Spirit did not infuse into us: He took His seat in Christ, so that from Him the heavenly riches flowed to us, of which we are completely lacking. Because the faithful stand invincible under the mighty protection of their King, because his riches are abundantly bestowed upon them, they are not called Christians without reason! Now, of course, Paul says: "After this, the end, when he will hand over the kingdom to God and the Father … then also the Son Himself will be subject … that God may be all in all" (1Cor 15:24,28). But this word does not contradict the eternity of the kingdom of Christ, of which we spoke, in any way. For Paul only wants to say that the arrangement of the reign of Christ in its completed glory will be different from what it is now. The Father has given all authority to the Son to guide us by His hand, to sustain us, to strengthen us, to shield us under His protection, and to give us help. So, as long as we are still pilgrims before God, Christ steps into the means to lead us step by step to firm communion with God. The fact that he sits at the right hand of the Father certainly means that he is God’s governor, with whom all authority rests; for God wants to govern and protect his church indirectly, so to speak, in his person. This is also how Paul expresses it in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians: there it says that God has "seated Christ at his right hand in heaven" so that he is the "head of the church, which is his body" (Eph 1:20.22f.). In the same direction he teaches: "God gave Christ a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every … knees … And let every tongue confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!" (Phil 2:9-11). For even in these words the apostle praises the order in the kingdom of Christ, which is necessary in our present weakness. Therefore, however, he rightly concludes further: once God will be the one head of the Church by Himself alone, because then Christ’s work for the preservation and defense of the Church will be completed. For the same reason, Christ is called Lord throughout the Scriptures, because the Father has made Him Lord over us in order to exercise His dominion over us through Him. Though many reigns may be vaunted in the world, Paul says, "we have one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we to Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we through Him!" (1Cor 8:5f.). From this it follows quite correctly: He is therefore the same God who proclaimed through the mouth of Isaiah that He is the King and Lawgiver of His Church! (Isa 33,22). For he certainly calls all his power the gift of the Father; but this means nothing else than that he rules in God’s commission and name; for he has accepted the office of mediator, that he descended from the Father’s bosom and inconceivable glory to draw near to us! All the more is it right and just that we should set out with one accord to obey him and serve him with the greatest zeal at his beck and call! For he has indeed united the office of king with that of shepherd to the pious who gladly submit to him; but we also hear on the other side that he wields a scepter of iron to crush all unruly ones and to throw them to the ground like earthen vessels! (Ps 2:9). We also hear that he will be the judge of the Gentiles, "to do a great smiting among them" and to strike down all high things that are contrary to him! (Ps 110:6). Examples of this are also seen today; but above all it will be revealed on the last day: and this will then actually have to be considered as the last act in His kingdom!

II,15,6 Now I want to speak briefly about Christ’s priestly office. It has its purpose and use in that he is a pure mediator, free from all stain, who reconciles us to God through his holiness. God’s righteous curse, however, hinders access, and God as judge is full of anger against us; therefore, if the high priest is to acquire God’s pleasure for us, to appease his anger, he must step into the means by way of reconciliation. Christ wanted to fulfill this office, and therefore he had to offer a sacrifice; for even under the law the high priest was forbidden by God to enter the holy of holies without blood. Believers should know that the high priest is certainly the intercessor for the people, but God cannot show mercy without atoning for sins. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks about this in great detail from the seventh to the end of the tenth chapter. The main content of his argument is this: The dignity of the high priesthood belongs to Christ alone, who, by the sacrifice of his own death, has put away our guilt and made atonement for our sins. How important this is, we see from that solemn oath of God, which will never repent: "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek!" (Ps 110:4). With this, God undoubtedly wanted to establish quite clearly the most important point on which, as He knew, our salvation hangs entirely. For we, or even our prayers, have no access to God unless Christ as High Priest washes away our sins and sanctifies us, obtaining for us the grace from which the impurity of our evil deeds and vices otherwise keeps us away! So we must begin with the death of Christ, if the effect and blessing of his priestly office is to come to us. But here it also follows that he is an eternal intercessor for us: his intercession for us obtains God’s good pleasure for us. In this way the pious man can gain joy in prayer and peace in his conscience; for he rests securely on God’s mercy, and he may certainly live in the conviction that God is pleased with what the mediator sanctifies! Under the law the priest had to sacrifice animals according to God’s command; with Christ it is quite different, quite new: he, the high priest, is himself the sacrifice. For there was no other sacrifice that could have sufficiently interceded for our sins – and on the other hand, no one was worthy of such honor to offer God his only begotten Son as a sacrifice. So now Christ bears the priesthood, and He performs it not only to win God’s favor and kindness through an eternal reconciliation, but also to make us partakers of the same dignity (Apoc. 1:6). For we are indeed defiled in ourselves; but in Him we are priests, we offer ourselves and all that we are and have to God as a sacrifice, we have free access to the Holy of Holies in heaven, so that all our sacrifices of prayer and praise that we have to offer are a good odor in the sight of God! All this embraces Christ’s word: "I sanctify myself for them" (John 17:19) – for He has offered us, who are otherwise disgusting before God, with Himself to God, and so, flowing with Christ’s holiness, we are pure and blameless before Him, even holy, and so find His pleasure! Here also belongs the promise about the anointing of the "high holy one", which is found in Daniel (Dan 9,24). Of course, we must pay special attention to the contrast between this anointing and the shadowy prefiguration that was in practice at that time: the angel wants to say that in the person of Christ the shadowy images have come to an end and the priesthood shines in its full glory. But it is all the more appalling when people, in their conceit, do not want to be satisfied with Christ’s priesthood and then, in foolish conceit, presume every day to offer him anew; this is what is attempted today in the papacy, where the mass is regarded as the sacrifice of Christ!

Sixteenth Chapter

How Christ did the work of the Savior and acquired salvation for us. So here we are talking about the death, the resurrection and the ascension of Christ.

II,16,1 What we have said so far about Christ must all be related to one point: We who are condemned, dead and lost in ourselves, we are to seek righteousness, deliverance, life and salvation from Him. This is what Peter’s famous sentence teaches us: "There is salvation in no other, nor is there any other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved! (Acts 4:12). The fact that he bore the name Jesus did not happen intentionally, by chance or by human caprice; but this name was given to him by an angel from heaven as a messenger of the supreme counsel of God, and the reason was added: "For he will save his people from their sins!" (Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). These words prove – as I have already said! – that the office of the Redeemer is conferred upon Him for this purpose, that He is our Savior! And it would be an incomplete redemption if he did not lead us in constant progress to the ultimate goal of blessedness! If, therefore, we turn away from him in the least, our salvation gradually fades away; for it rests in him alone: he, therefore, who does not keep to him, robs himself of salvation! It is well to consider what Bernard says. The name of Jesus is not only the light, but also the food; it is the oil, without which all the food of the soul is without juice; it is the salt, without which all that is put before us has no seasoning: it is honey in the mouth, it is a beautiful sound in the ear, it is a rejoicing in the heart, like a glorious medicine at the same time; and all our talk is folly, if this name does not sound out of it! (Bernhard, Sermons on the Song of Songs, 15). But here we must diligently reflect on how it came about that we have salvation in him; for we should not only be certain that salvation comes from him, but also firmly grasp what gives our faith reason and certainty, and reject everything that could pull us away in this or that direction! But whoever really recognizes himself and seriously considers who he really is, must necessarily feel God’s wrath against him fiercely and therefore anxiously reach out to see if and how he might be granted reconciliation. For satisfaction is needed here; therefore it is a matter of an unusually strong certainty; for God’s wrath remains unchanged upon the sinner until he is freed from guilt; God is, after all, a just judge, and he does not allow his law to be violated with impunity, but is equipped for just retribution!

II,16,2 But before we go any further, we must ponder in passing the question of how it can be reconciled that God, who has preceded us with his mercy, is nevertheless hostile to us until he is reconciled to us in Christ! For how could he have given us such a unique guarantee of his love for us in his only begotten Son, if he had not already been friendly to us in free grace? Here, then, the appearance of a contradiction really arises, and so I must try to untie this knot. The Holy Spirit says it in Scripture something like this: God was hostile to men until they came back to grace with Him through Christ’s death (Rom 5:10). Or we also hear that man is under the curse until his unrighteousness is atoned for through Christ’s sacrificial death (Gal 3:10:13), or that he is separated from God until fellowship is restored in Christ’s body (Col 1:21 s.). These and similar sayings are adapted to our understanding so that we may better realize how miserable and distressful our situation is apart from Christ. For if we were not told in clear words that God’s wrath and punishment and eternal death were upon us, we would be less likely to acknowledge how miserable we would be without God’s mercy, and less likely to appreciate the gift of deliverance! I will form an example. Someone hears: If God, while you were still a sinner, had hated you so much and pushed you away from Himself as you deserved, you would have perished miserably; but God, of His own accord and in free mercy, accepted you in grace, did not want to cast you out completely, and saved you from such danger. Whoever hears this will certainly be inwardly affected by it, he will also consider to a certain extent what he therefore owes God’s mercy for thanks. But if, on the other hand, he hears what the Scripture teaches: You have really departed from God through sin, you are an heir of wrath, you have fallen under the curse of eternal death, you are excluded from all hope of salvation, a stranger to all God’s blessings, a slave of Satan, a prisoner under the yoke of sin, delivered up to terrible destruction, yes, already in the midst of it! – But then Christ stepped in as intercessor and took the punishment upon himself, suffered what all sinners had to suffer according to God’s just judgment, atoned for all the evil that made them detestable before God with his blood; and now through this atonement the Father is satisfied, through this intercessor his wrath is appeased, on this foundation the peace of God with mankind is firmly established, now on this union rests God’s good pleasure toward us! – I say, when man hears this, will he not take it all the more deeply to heart, the more clearly and vividly he is made to see how great is the distress from which God is snatching him? In short, our nature is not such that we can properly long for life out of God’s mercy and sufficiently give thanks for it, if the terror of God’s wrath and the horror of eternal death do not first penetrate our souls and throw us to the ground; and that is why divine teaching instructs us in such a way that we see God as hostile to us, see his hand stretched out to destroy us – but only so that we may grasp his kindness and his fatherly love in Christ alone!

II,16,3 What we hear of God’s wrath is therefore said for the sake of our weakness; but that does not make it incorrect. For God is righteousness in its highest perfection, and therefore he cannot love the unrighteousness that he perceives in all of us. He finds in all of us enough that deserves his wrath. For our nature is corrupt, our life is perverse – and therefore in his sight we are all guilty of enmity against him and born to hellish damnation! But the Lord does not want to abandon to corruption in us what is his after all, and therefore he still finds something to love in his goodness. For we are indeed sinners in our corruption – but we still remain his creatures; we have indeed deserved death – but he has created us once for life! Thus, out of pure, merciful love for us, he comes to accept us in grace! But the conflict between righteousness and unrighteousness is incessant and irreconcilable, and therefore, as long as we are sinners, he cannot accept us at all. Therefore, in order to put an end to all enmity and to reconcile us completely to Him, He eradicates all evil in us through the atonement that took place in Christ, so that we appear righteous and holy before Him, who were nevertheless unclean and defiled before! Thus the love of the Father precedes the reconciliation through Christ. He "loved us first" (1Jn 4:19) – and then He reconciled us to Himself! But in us remains, until Christ with his death brings us help, the unrighteousness that deserves God’s wrath, and it is cursed, condemned before him. So we have real and perfect fellowship with God only when Christ draws us into his fellowship. If, then, we want to have the firm assurance that we are reconciled to God and have a gracious God in Him, we must fix our eyes and hearts firmly and exclusively on Christ, for it is only through Him that our sins are not imputed to us. If it were otherwise, God’s wrath would be inevitable!

II,16,4 For this reason Paul also says that the love with which God loved us "before the foundation of the world" has its foundation and its basis in Christ (Eph 1:4 f.). These are clear and scriptural words; from here we can also reconcile when we read in Scripture: "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son …" (John 3:16), and then again on the other hand, God was hostile to us before the death of Christ made Him gracious to us again (Rom 5,10). But I also want to make these things more certain to those readers who like to ask for a testimony of the early church; for this purpose I will cite a passage from Augustine, who holds the same doctrine. "Incomprehensible and unchangeable is God’s love! For he did not begin to love us only since we were reconciled to him through the blood of his Son; no, he loved us before the foundation of the world, so that we might become his children with his only begotten Son before we were anything at all! Our reconciliation through the blood of the Son should not be understood as if the Son had reconciled us to God for the purpose of loving us, whom he had hated before; no, we were reconciled to him when he already loved us – although we were at enmity with him because of our sin! Paul may testify to the truth of this claim: ’Therefore, while we were still sinners, praise God for His love toward us, that Christ died for us!’ (Rom 5:8). So he already embraced us with his love while we were still living in enmity against him and doing iniquity. So he did the divine miracle of hating us and yet loving us at the same time. He hated us because we were not as he had made us; but yet our unrighteousness had not entirely consumed his work, and therefore he was able in the case of each of us to hate at the same time what we had made – and to love what yet he had made!" (Reflections on the Gospel of John, 110). These are Augustine’s words!

II,16,5 If we now ask in what way Christ has blotted out sin, put an end to the strife between us and God, and acquired for us the righteousness that makes us inclined and gracious to God again, the general answer is: he accomplished this for us through obedience throughout his life. This is proven by Paul’s testimony: "Just as through one man’s disobedience many became sinners, so also through one man’s obedience many become righteous" (Rom 5:19; Calvin quotes somewhat differently). In another place he also clearly shows that Christ with his whole life has purchased for us the forgiveness that sets us free from the curse of the law: "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, and put under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law …" (Gal 4:4). Christ Himself pronounced it at His baptism: "It behooves us to fulfill all righteousness" (Mt 3:15): a part of the righteousness was therefore already fulfilled by the fact that He carried out the order of the Father in obedience. In short, since the day he "took the form of a servant", he has also begun to offer the ransom for our deliverance! If, however, the Scriptures want to define in more detail how our salvation came about, they attribute it in a special way and actually to the death of Christ. He himself described it as his office to "give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt 20:28). And Paul says that he was "given for our sins" (Rom 4:25). John the Baptist proclaimed it aloud, "Behold, this is the Lamb of God who bears the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). And Paul teaches in another passage: "We are justified without merit by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus, whom God presented as a mercy seat (through faith) in His blood …" (Rom 3:24 f.). He also says that we are made righteous "through His blood" and reconciled "through the death of His Son" (Rom 5:9 f.). And then again: "He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him!" (2Cor 5:21). But I do not want to go through all the passages – there is an immense abundance, and many will be mentioned in their place. That is why the so-called Apostles’ Creed proceeds in the correct order from the birth of Christ to His death and resurrection: for on this rests in the main our perfect salvation. This certainly does not ignore the obedience he rendered beyond that in his whole life. Paul also summarized his whole life to the end when he says of him: "He humbled himself and took the form of a servant … and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross …" (Phil 2:7 f.). The main thing here is that it was a voluntary obedience; because only a voluntarily offered sacrifice could lead to righteousness! Therefore the Lord testifies, "I lay down my life for the sheep …" (John 10:15) and then adds explicitly: "No one takes it from me!" (John 10:18). That is why Isaiah says: "He was like a sheep that fell silent before its shearer" (Isa 53:7). The Gospel account of the Passion also tells us how He went freely to meet the soldiers (John 18:4), how He stood before Pilate without any defense and submitted to His judgment (Matthew 27:11). He certainly did not accomplish this without a struggle; for he had accepted our weakness, and in this way the obedience he rendered to the Father had to be made visible. It was a singularly glorious proof of His love for us that He struggled with nameless fear, that He forgot Himself under those terrible terrors of death in order to help us. We have to keep this in mind: God’s justice could only be satisfied in the sacrifice when Christ, by his own decision, denied himself and obediently submitted and completely surrendered to God’s will. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews cites a very appropriate passage from the Psalms: "In the book of the law it is written of me; your will, my God, I gladly do, and your law I have in my heart. Then I said, ’Behold, I come’ …" (Hebr 10:7, 9; Ps 40:8f.). Since our frightened conscience can only find rest in the sacrifice and cleansing that takes away our sins, our gaze is rightly directed there, and in the death of Christ we find the reason for our life! We had to expect condemnation before God’s heavenly judgment seat in view of our indebtedness; that is why the Creed mentions the condemnation before Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, in the first place: we are to know that the just man really took upon himself the punishment that threatened us! We could not escape God’s terrible judgment, and there Christ allowed Himself to be condemned before a mortal, even vicious, godless man, in order to snatch us out. That the governor is mentioned by name is not only to support the credibility of the historical account, but we are to learn from it what Isaiah tells us: "Punishment was upon him that we might have peace, and by his wounds we are healed!" (Isa 53:5). For for the removal of the condemnation that was upon us, it was not sufficient that Christ should have suffered death in some arbitrary form; if our redemption was to be fully accomplished, it had to be a manner of death in which he took upon himself our condemnation, made atonement for our sin itself – and thus freed us from both condemnation and need of atonement! Had he been strangled by robbers, or killed in tumult in a popular uprising, the essential characteristic of satisfaction would have been lacking in both these modes of dying. But he is brought before the judgment-seat as a defendant, testimony accuses and incriminates him, the judge himself delivers him up to death: there we see that he has allowed himself to be treated as a criminal malefactor! Now here are two things to be noted, which are already foretold in prophecies of the prophets, and bring infinite comfort and strengthening to the faith. When we hear how Christ was condemned to death by the judge and hanged among murderers, we see in this the fulfillment of the prophecy which the evangelist also cites: "He is numbered among the transgressors" (Isa 53:12; Mark 15:28). What does this mean? He takes the place of the sinner, not of the righteous and innocent; for he endured death not for the sake of innocence, but for the sake of sin! And when, on the other hand, we hear how the same mouth that pronounces the sentence of condemnation upon him also declares him innocent – for Pilate saw himself compelled more than once to testify publicly to Christ’s innocence! – let us remember what we can read in another prophet: "He pays what he has not robbed" (Ps 69:5; in the text 1st person). Thus we see Christ appearing in the role of a guilt-ridden sinner – but at the same time his innocence shines brightly, and it becomes quite clear that he does not bear his own guilt, but that of others! So he "suffered under Pontius Pilate", and he was solemnly judged as one of the evildoers; and yet this happens in such a way that the same Pontius Pilate must also pronounce him righteous, as he himself testifies: "I find no guilt in him" (John 18:38). This, then, is our absolution: on the head of the Son of God is laid the guilt which, after all, delivered us to punishment! We should always remember this intercession of Christ for us, so that we do not tremble all our lives and sit in fear – as if God’s just retribution, which the Son of God took upon Himself, still threatened us!!

III,16,6 There is also a special mystery in the kind of death Christ suffered. The cross was accursed – not only according to human opinion, but by a provision of God’s law. Therefore, if Christ was put on the cross, he thereby incurred the curse. But it had to happen this way in order that we might be free from all the curse that threatened us for our sins, indeed that was really upon us, by passing it on to him. For this, too, the law provides a shadowy prefiguration. For the Hebrew word "asham", which actually means "sin", is also the expression for the sacrifices and atonement offered for the sake of sin! By this name transfer the Holy Spirit wanted to show us that these sacrifices were, so to speak, "purification sacrifices", which took upon themselves the curse resting on man’s evil deed! But what is pictorially represented in the Mosaic sacrifices is revealed in Christ, the archetype on which all of them were based. In order to accomplish the true atonement, he offered his soul as a sin offering (as "asham"), that is, as a sacrifice sufficient for sin, as the prophet says (Isa 53:5, 10); all defilement and punishment is cast upon him, and it is now no longer imputed to us. The apostle testified to this with greater clarity: "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2Cor 5:21). For the Son of God, Himself pure from all evil, took upon Himself our sin and shame, and clothed us with His purity in return. It seems to refer to this when Paul says of sin that it was "condemned in His flesh" (Rom 8:3). For the Father destroyed the power of sin when His curse was transferred to Christ’s flesh. So this expression wants to show: Christ in His death was offered to the Father as a satisfying sacrifice; and through His sacrifice atonement is now accomplished, so that we need no longer be afraid of God’s wrath. Now we also understand what the prophet means when he says, "But the Lord cast upon him all our sin" (Isa 53:6); Christ, in order to cleanse us from all our filthiness, has been entirely covered with sin by such transferring imputation. For this the cross on which he was nailed is a sign, as the apostle tells us: "Christ …redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, ’Cursed is everyone who hangs on the wood’ – that the blessing of Abraham might come among the Gentiles in Christ Jesus …" (Gal 3:13f.). This is also what Peter means when he says: "Who Himself bore our sins … upon the wood …" (1Pet 2:24); for by this sign of the curse we see all the more clearly that the burden that weighed us down was laid upon Him. However, we must by no means think of the curse having overcome him: no, he has taken it upon himself, and thus has himself cast it down, broken it, made it null and void! That is why faith finds vindication in Christ’s condemnation, blessing in the curse that was upon him. That is why Paul extols mightily the victory that Christ won on the cross – as if the cross, which was otherwise full of shame, had become a chariot of triumph! "He has blotted out the handwriting that was against us … and has fastened them to the cross, and has taken off the principalities and the powers, and has made them to be seen in public…" (Col 2:14 f.). This is not surprising: for Christ – as another apostle says – "offered Himself to God through the eternal Spirit" (Hebr 9:14), and hence comes this reversal of all things! But this certainty must take firm root in our hearts and permeate us completely, and therefore we must always remember this sacrifice, this purification. We could not have the certainty that Christ is our redemption (apolytrosis), our ransom (antilytron) and our "mercy seat" (hilasterion) if he were not our sacrifice! That is why the Scripture always speaks of the blood where it speaks of how our redemption came about. Admittedly, Christ’s blood did not flow solely as an atoning sacrifice; it was also, in a sense, a bath in which we found cleansing from our defilement.

II,16,7 Now follows in the Creed, "Died and was buried." Here again it is to be perceived how Christ, to pay our ransom, has everywhere put Himself in our place. For death, after all, held us captive under its hard yoke – and there he went into its power in our place, in order in turn to free us from it! This is what the apostle means when he writes: "so that he … tasted death for all!" (Hebr 2:9). For by his dying he caused us not to die, or, which is the same thing, by his death he purchased life for us! Only in this He is quite different from us: He gave Himself into the power of death, not to be swallowed up by it, but to swallow it up Himself, who nevertheless threatened to swallow us up! He submitted himself to death, not to be crushed by its power, but to throw it down himself, who nevertheless threatened us all the time and already rejoiced over our fall! Finally he died to destroy by death him who has the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebr 2:14), and to redeem those "who through fear of death had to be slaves all their lives!" (Hebr 2:15). This is the first fruit that his death has brought us. The second effect of Christ’s death for us is that he draws us into the fellowship of his dying; by this he has put to death our earthly members, so that they no longer continue to do their evil work; by this he has also brought to nothing our old man, so that he now no longer prospers and bears his fruit! And for this purpose he has also been buried, namely, that we ourselves now share in his burial and thus are also buried of sin. For, according to Paul, we are incorporated into Christ by a like death, and buried with him, and thereby dead to sin; by his cross "the world is crucified to us, and we to the world!" (Gal 2:19; 6:14). We died with him (Col 3:3). But with this the apostle does not merely want to encourage us to display and express the example of his death in us; but he explains to us that in the death of Christ dwells such a power, which must now become visible in all Christian men, if they do not want to make the death of Christ in itself useless and fruitless! Thus we receive a double blessing from the death and burial of Christ: the deliverance from death, of which we were slaves – and the mortification of our flesh!

II,16,8 But also the "descent into hell" must not be ignored; for in it, too, important things are decided for the fulfillment of the work of redemption. From the writings of the old church teachers it is clear that this part of the creed was not very strongly represented in the church at that time. But if one wants to present the whole of the doctrine, this part must also be given its place, for here we encounter a salutary and not to be despised mystery. Even among the old church teachers there are some who do not pass it over. From this we can deduce that this piece was inserted only later and did not immediately, but only gradually attained ecclesiastical doctrinal validity. But there is no doubt that the doctrine came into effect out of the general conviction of the faithful; for among the Fathers of the Church there is not one who did not somehow mention this "Descent into Hell" – even if the interpretation is very different. Also, it contributes little to the matter by whom and at what time this doctrine was inserted into the confession. In considering the Creed, we must be all the more careful that it really contains all the essentials of the faith, and that nothing is added to it that is not drawn from the purest Word of God. There are certainly those who stubbornly refuse to add this statement to the Creed; but it will soon become evident what great importance it has for the total knowledge of our salvation: if it were passed over, the death of Christ would lose for us much of its blessedness. On the other hand, there are theologians who are of the opinion that nothing new is said here at all, but only the article about the burial of Christ is repeated in other words; the expression "hell" stands in Scripture several times in place of "grave"! I admit: what is said about the meaning of the word is correct: indeed hell is often put instead of grave. But against the view connected with it speak nevertheless two reasons, which cause me to distinguish the "hell journey" of Christ from his burial. For it would have been (on the one hand) a great prolixity, a quite simple thing, which one still moreover expressed with clear and plausible words, now afterwards with a substantially more difficult statement more to hint at, than actually to explain! For if one lists two different expressions, which refer to the same thing, side by side, then as a rule the second one should explain the first one in more detail. But what kind of explanation would it be if one wanted to say: ’Christ has been buried’ and that means: ’he has descended to hell’? But then it is also (on the other hand) improbable that such an unnecessary repetition could have penetrated into the Creed; for after all the main parts of the faith are stated here in a summarizing manner with as few words as possible! I believe that whoever considers the matter reasonably carefully will agree with me.

II,16,9 Others, however, interpret this part of the creed quite differently. They say that Christ descended to the souls of the fathers who had died under the law in order to bring them the message of the accomplished redemption and to lead them out of the prison in which they were locked up. In this direction they then misinterpret such a Ps word as: "He broke the gates of brass and the bars of iron" (Ps 107:16) or also the word of Zechariah: "Also I release … loose thy prisoners from the pit wherein is no water" (Zech 9:11; Calvin quotes in the 3rd person). But in the psalm, deliverance is actually announced to those held in bondage far away, and Zechariah understands by the deep and waterless pit or abyss the captivity at Babylon in which the people were stuck. At the same time, Zechariah presents the salvation of the church in general as salvation from unfathomable depths. So I do not see at all, how one could think then in later time here of a subterranean place, to which one still gave the name "limbus". Although this fable was invented by famous people and even today is seriously defended as truth by many, it is just a fable. It is childish to think the souls of the deceased locked up in a prison. And why was it then necessary for Christ’s soul to descend there in order to set it at liberty? But I readily admit that Christ appeared to those who had fallen asleep in the power of his Spirit, so that they recognized that the grace which they had only tasted in hope was now manifest to the world. Possibly we can also refer to the passage in 1 Peter: "In the same he also went and preached to the spirits on the watch"; whereby one usually translates: "in prison" (1Pet 3:19). The context leads us to the fact that the believers who died before that time are nevertheless partakers of the same grace with us. The apostle wants to praise the power of Christ’s death in particular and justifies this by saying that it has reached the deceased: the pious have experienced his appearance, which they had long awaited with longing, as something present, and it has become all the more obvious to the wicked that they are excluded from all salvation. Peter does not speak so clearly. This must not be understood as if he were confusing believers and unbelievers without distinction; he only wants to teach that both have equally gained knowledge of the death of Christ.

II,16,10 I will now seek a more reliable explanation for this descent of Christ to hell, leaving aside the relationship of this teaching to the creed. The explanation which the Word of God gives us is not only holy and venerable, but also full of glorious consolation. It was not enough for Christ merely to suffer bodily death; he also had to feel the full severity of the divine judgment in order to avert his wrath and to satisfy his just judgment. Therefore, he also had to fight the battle with the powers of hell, with the terror of eternal death, as it were man against man. We have already cited the passage from Isaiah: "Punishment is upon him, that we may have peace …. He is wounded for our iniquity and crushed for our sins …" (Isa 53:5). There the prophet shows how he stands in as a mediator, as a guarantor for the offender, even takes his place to bear and pay all the punishment that the sinner had to expect – only with the one restriction that the "pains of death" could not "hold" him (Acts 2:24). So when it is said: "descended to hell", we should not be surprised: after all, he endured the death that God’s wrath prepares for evildoers! It is improper and ridiculous to object here that in this way the orderly sequence is reversed, because it is senseless to mention something that preceded the burial after it. No: before is shown what Christ suffered publicly, before the eyes of men – but now we learn quite correctly of the invisible, incomprehensible judgment that Christ endured before God. We are to recognize from this: he not only gave his body as a ransom, but also offered a greater, more delicious sacrifice for us by enduring in his soul the terrible torments of a condemned and lost man!

II,16,11 In this sense Peter says: "God raised Him up and dissolved the pains of death, as it was impossible that He should be held by them" (Acts 2:24). He does not simply speak of death, but he explicitly says that the Son of God suffered pain, such pain as God’s curse and wrath entails – which is the origin of death! For it would have been a small thing if Christ had gone to death unshaken and as if to play! The true proof of his unfathomable mercy lay rather in the fact that he shuddered terribly before death – and yet did not escape from it! Undoubtedly the author of Hebrews wants to say the same when he writes that Christ was heard out of his fear (Hebr 5:7; not Luther text). Some translate the passage in such a way that instead of "fear" they insert "fear of God" or "piety" and thus transfer: "and was heard, because he had God in honor" (so also Luther). But this is not very appropriate, as the matter itself and also the meaning of the word show. Christ prayed "with strong cry and supplication" and was heard by his fear – not in order to be protected against death, but in order not to be devoured by it as a sinner. For he did all this in our stead! There is certainly no more dreadful abyss of misery than when one must know oneself abandoned by God, alienated from Him: one calls upon Him, and one is not heard – as if He Himself had conspired to our ruin! Christ, however, was really so forsaken that out of pressing need he had to cry out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Ps 22:2; Mt 27:46). Now some want to claim that he did this terrible cry out of the feeling of others, but not out of his own experience (so Cyril, On Right Faith); but this is quite improbable, for these words obviously come out of the deepest inner distress! Nevertheless, I do not mean to say that God was ever hostile or angry with Christ. How could he be angry with the beloved Son in whom he was well pleased? Or how could Christ, by his substitution, reconcile others to God when he himself was under wrath? But I say this: Christ endured all the severity of divine wrath; for he was "bruised and wounded" by God’s hand (allusion to Isa 53:5) and endured all the manifestations of God’s wrath and punishment! So Hilarius also draws the conclusion that this "descent to hell" has the effect for us that death is abolished (Hilarius, Of the Trinity, 4). Hilarius also agrees with my opinion in other places; thus he says: "Cross, death, hell – this is our life!" (Book 2 of the same work), and then again, "God’s Son is in Hell – but man is raised to Heaven!" (Book 3). But what do I add the testimony of a private man – when the apostle says the same thing? For the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews himself emphasizes that in this way Christ "redeemed those who through fear of death had to be slaves all their lives" (Hebr 2:15). So Christ had to fight down this fear, which by nature keeps all mortals perpetually in fear and distress – and this could only be done in hard strife! Therefore the affliction, as it befell the Lord, could not have been of an ordinary kind or have arisen from a minor cause. This will soon become clearer. Thus he fought with the violence of the devil, with the terror of death, with the pains of hell, man against man, so to speak – and there he won the victory over them and triumphed with power, so that in death we need no longer fear what our Duke has already fought down!

II,16,12 Now here some ignorant fools, but more out of malice than out of ignorance of things, raise the objection with loud cries that I do bitter injustice to Christ with my interpretation. For it is quite incompatible with his dignity that he should fear for the salvation of his soul! Then, however, they go on to even more violent vituperations: I claimed that the Son of God was in despair, and that goes against faith! So these people think they have to start a quarrel because of my assertion that Christ endured fear and terror. And yet the evangelists speak quite clearly of this! We already hear before the beginning of the actual suffering of death that Christ was shaken in spirit (John 12:27) and that sadness surrounded Him, and in the battle itself "He began to mourn and to tremble …" (Mt 26:37f.). If one now says that this was done in pretense, this is a particularly shameful evasion. We should – as Ambrose rightly teaches – boldly confess the sadness of Christ, if we are not ashamed of the cross! If his soul had not borne the punishment, he would certainly be only the redeemer of our body! A hard fight had to be waged so that Christ could raise us up again, who were nevertheless lying completely on the ground. In this way he loses nothing of his heavenly glory, no, it is precisely here that his goodness, which can never be praised enough, shines forth gloriously, in that he did not refuse to take all our weakness upon himself. Hence comes this consolation against all fear, all pain, which the apostle holds out to us: This Mediator has borne our "infirmities," and therefore He can all the more "have compassion" on the miserable (Hebr 4:15). But one objects that it is already wrong in and of itself to attribute anything imperfect to the Lord. As if one were wiser than the Spirit of God! For the Spirit of God brings these apparent contradictions together perfectly: "He was tempted in every way as we are" – and yet "without sin"! (Hebr 4:15). Therefore, Christ’s weakness cannot frighten us; he was not forced by any necessity or compulsion to take it upon himself, but did it purely out of love for us, purely out of mercy! But what he has voluntarily endured for our good, that does not take anything away from his power and virtue. The adversaries are on the wrong track if they do not want to acknowledge any weakness in Christ, although he is pure and free from all guilt and all blemishes, because he kept himself completely in obedience. Such discipline is not to be noticed in our nature, because of the corruption of our nature; in us all impulses go wildly beyond all measure – and now one does the wrong thing, to apply this standard to the Son of God! But he was pure, and so in all his movements that inner discipline ruled, which prevented all excess. So he could be similar to us in pain and fear and terror – and yet at this decisive point be completely different from us! If our adversaries are convicted on this point, they immediately come up with a new objection; they say: even if Christ feared death, he certainly did not fear the curse and the wrath of God, for he knew that he was safe from it! But now let the pious reader consider what a (doubtful) honor is done to Christ by this: he is thus declared to be more soft-hearted and fearful than many ordinary people are! Even robbers and other criminals go stubbornly to their death, others despise it with high courage, others endure it calmly and cheerfully! And the Son of God should have been shaken, overwhelmed by the fear of death? What kind of steadfastness and inner greatness would that have been? It is reported of him, what one would have to consider generally as strange and unusual: under the force of the agony drops of blood flowed from his face! Now this did not happen in appearance, in the presence of men, but he withdrew into hiding and there brought his groaning before the Father. It removes all doubt when one considers that the angels who brought him such unusual consolation had to come to him from heaven! But what a shameful softness it would be if Christ had been so tormented by the fear of death alone, which after all strikes everyone, that he shed bloody sweat and could only be raised up again by the appearance of angels! But no, this threefold plea: "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me!" (Mt 26:39) – this plea obviously comes from an unbelievable inner agony, and it shows that Christ truly had to fight a sharper and harder battle than with the usual death. There we see that these babblers, with whom I have to contend, make a quick judgment about things of which they understand nothing; for they have never really thought about what it means and means at all that we are redeemed from God’s judgment! Our wisdom, however, can only consist in considering rightly what our redemption has cost the Son of God! Now someone could also ask me whether this "descent into hell" occurred at that time when he prayed for the averting of death. I answer: That was the beginning, and from it one can recognize only what terrible, terrible agonies he went through, when he recognized that he stood for our sake as a guilty before God’s judgment! Thus the divine power of his spirit was veiled for a time and ceded its place to the weakness of the flesh; but we must also consider that this terrible challenge, which came from the feeling of pain and fear, was not contrary to faith. It really proved to be as Peter then pronounced it in his speech: the pains of death were not able to hold him! (Acts 2:24). For he knew that he had been abandoned by God, so to speak, but he did not in the least abandon the certainty of His goodness. This is shown by his famous exclamation, in which he cried out of his pain: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mt 27,46). He is in the greatest inner distress – but he still calls God, who has forsaken him after his exclamation, "My God!" Here the error of Apollinaris falls away as well as the false doctrine of the so-called "monotheletes". Apollinaris accused Christ of the eternal spirit having taken the place of the soul, so that he would have been only half human! As if he could have made atonement for our sin without obeying the Father! But where should the impulse and the will to obey be shown but in the soul? His very soul was chased into fear and terror, so that ours, freed from all fear, might come to peace and rest! But here something must be said against the monotheletes (who claimed that in Christ only a God-human will was active!): we see just here how he does not want according to his human nature what he wants according to his divine nature! I do not see that he actually fought down the rising fear, of which we spoke, by the opposite will; but the conflict in him is also clear in the word: "Father, help me out of this hour! – But that is why I have come to this hour. – Father, glorify your name!" (John 12:27f.). And yet in this discord there was not the intemperance that shows itself most in us just when we are trying hardest to control ourselves!

II,16,13 (1.) Now follows in the Creed, "The third day risen again from the dead …" Without the resurrection, everything we have said so far would be vain piecemeal. For in the crucifixion, in the death, in the burial of Christ all weakness is revealed, and faith must therefore get over all this in order to attain true power. In his death we truly already have the entire fulfillment of the work of salvation, because through him we are reconciled with God, because through him God’s just judgment has been satisfied, the curse has been lifted, the punishment has been borne. And yet Scripture does not say that through his death, but "through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" we are "born again" "to a living hope!" (1Pet 1:3). For as he came forth in his resurrection as the victor over death, so also the victory of our faith is ultimately based on his resurrection. How this happens can be better expressed with the words of Paul: "He passed away for our sins and was raised for our righteousness" (Rom 4:25). By this he probably means: by his death sin is put away, but by his resurrection righteousness is purchased and restored to us. But how could he have set us free from death in death, if he himself had succumbed to it? How could he have won us the victory if he himself had lost the battle? Our salvation, then, is based equally on the death and resurrection of Christ, and in this way: through death sin is put away and death is overcome; through the resurrection righteousness is restored to us and life is given to us. It should be noted, however, that it is only through the gift of the resurrection that we receive the power and effect of his death. Therefore, Paul also emphasizes that Christ was "powerfully proved" to be the "Son of God" through His resurrection (Rom 1:4); for only then did He first prove His heavenly power, which is the clear mirror of His deity and on which our faith can safely rest. Also in another place Paul teaches: "And though He was crucified in weakness, yet He rose again in the power of the Spirit" (2Cor 13:4; not Luther text). In the same sense he speaks in another place of perfection: "… to know him and the power of his resurrection." Of course he immediately adds: "… and the fellowship of his sufferings, that I might be conformed to his death" (Phil 3:10). Peter’s words fit this perfectly: "God raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that you might have faith and hope in God" (1Pet 1:21); this does not mean that the faith that relies on Christ’s death is wavering, but that the power of God that keeps us in faith is most clearly revealed in the resurrection. Therefore we must keep in mind that where death alone is spoken of, the power of the resurrection is also included; this same inclusion takes place where the resurrection is spoken of without the express mention of death: the effects of death are also considered there. But in the resurrection he has won the palm, so that he has become "the resurrection and the life"; therefore Paul says that faith is abnegated, vain and deceitful is the gospel, if we may not carry the certainty of the resurrection firmly in our hearts (1Cor 15:17). In another place he praises the death of Christ as a firm bulwark against all the terrors of damnation, and then, in order to increase the praise, he continues: "who died, yes rather, who also was raised, who is at the right hand of God and represents us" (Rom 8:34). (2.) Further, I have shown above how on our participation in the cross also depends the mortification of our flesh. Here we must see how we also receive from the resurrection an effect entirely corresponding to that. The apostle says: "So then we are buried with him … into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead, so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4). In Colossians, from the certainty that we "died with Christ" (3:3), he derives the conclusion, "Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth …" (3:5); and in the same way he concludes: "If therefore ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, and not those things which are on earth" (3:1 f.). In this way he not only encourages us to take Christ’s resurrection as an example and to reach out for a new life, but he wants to tell us that through his power it really happens that we are renewed to righteousness! (3.) But from the resurrection we also receive a third fruit: the resurrection is like a pledge, which we receive and which makes us sure that we ourselves will also be resurrected, it is the true and sure reason for our resurrection! Paul talks about this in detail in the fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. By way of remark I want to add that by the words: "Christ is risen from the dead" is expressed: he was really dead and is truly risen; he has therefore suffered the same death that the rest of men must die by nature, and in the same mortal flesh that he took to himself he has been received into immortality!

III,16,14 The resurrection is now followed by the ascension with good reason. Already in the resurrection Christ began to visibly reveal his glory and power in greater fullness: for already then his lowly and ignoble walk in mortal life ceased, already then the shame of the death on the cross receded. But only by his assumption into heaven did he in truth take dominion. The apostle shows this with his teaching that he ascended into heaven "so that he might fulfill all things" (Eph 4:10). At first sight there may seem to be a contradiction, but Paul shows how in reality everything fits together: he has left us in such a way that he can now be present to us in a much more blessed way than during the time of his walk on earth, when he was still limited to the lowly dwelling place of the flesh. Thus John records the glorious invitation, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink …" (John 7:37); but he immediately adds: the Holy Spirit was not yet given to the believers; "for Jesus was not yet transfigured" (7:39). The Lord himself testified to his disciples: "It is good for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Comforter will not come to you" (John 16:7). In view of his physical absence he holds out to them the comfort: "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:I8). This happens invisibly, but all the more gloriously; for now, instructed by more certain experience, they may know that dominion which he has now seized, and that power which he exercises, are sufficient for believers not only to live blessedly, but also to die joyfully! And we also see how much more abundantly he has now poured out his Spirit, how much more gloriously he has spread out his kingdom, and how much greater power he has displayed in standing by his own and casting down his enemies. He is taken up into heaven, and he has thereby withdrawn his bodily presence from our view. But he did not do this in order to no longer stand by the believers who are on pilgrimage on earth, but in order to rule heaven and earth all the more with present power! Yes, what he promised us: "Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" – he made this come true with his ascension. For as his body is lifted up above all heavens, so now also his power and effect go far beyond all boundaries of heaven and earth! I would rather say this in the words of Augustine than in my own: "Christ was to go through death to sit down at the right hand of God, and from there he will come again to judge the living and the dead, and that in bodily presence, as the right doctrine and the rule of faith says! For in spiritual presence he would always be with his own after his ascension!" (On the Gospel of John, 78 and also Sermon 361). He says it even more detailed and clearer in another place: "In His ineffable, invisible grace He lets His word come true: ’Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ (Mt 28:20). But according to the flesh which received the word, according to that therefore which was born of the Virgin Mary, according to that which the Jews took captive, which was crucified, wrapped in linen cloths, laid in the grave, and came to light again in the resurrection – according to that ’ye shall not have me’, as the Lord says, ’with you always!’ (Mt 26:11). Why is that? After His resurrection, He continued to walk with His disciples according to the flesh for forty days, and then He ascended into heaven; the disciples gave Him an escort: they could look after Him, but they could not follow Him (Acts 1:3, 9). Now it is true: ’He is not here’, for now He is seated at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19) – and yet He is here; for the nearness of His glory has not departed from us! (Hebr 1:3). Thus, according to the presence of His divine majesty, we have Christ always among us. But of His presence in the flesh the word applies that He said to His disciples: ’But you do not always have Me’ (Mt 26:11). So the church has had him among her in bodily presence only a few days – now she has him in faith, but with eyes she does not see him!" (On the Gospel of John, 50).

II,16,15 Therefore, even now it continues, "seated at the right hand of the Father!" The image is taken from the princes who have their governors at their side, to whom they entrust regiment and rule. In this sense it is said of Christ, through whom the Father wants to glorify himself and by whose hand he wants to rule, that he is exalted to the right hand of the Father. This means, for example, that he has been made Lord of heaven and earth and has solemnly taken up this dominion entrusted to him by the Father. However, he has not only done this, but he also exercises his regiment until he comes again for judgment. This is how the apostle understands it; he says: "The Father has set him at his right hand in heaven above all principality, power, authority, dominion, and all that may be called, not only in this world but also in the world to come" (Eph 1:20 s.; Phil 2:9). Or he also says: "He has put all things under his feet" (1Cor 15:27) "and has set him to be the head of the church over all things …" (Eph 1:22). There you can see what this sitting at the right hand of the Father is supposed to mean: all creatures in heaven and on earth are supposed to acknowledge His majesty, are supposed to be governed by His hand, are supposed to pay attention to His beckoning, are supposed to be subject to His power! This is also what the apostles want to express: when they speak of this sitting at the right hand of God, they always say that everything is subject to His rule (Acts 2:30-36; 3:21; Hebr 1:8). Whoever merely wants to find blessedness expressed here is therefore not going the right way. It has also nothing to do with the fact that in the Acts of the Apostles Stephen testifies that he sees the Lord standing before him (Acts 7:55); because here it is not about the position of the body, but about the sovereignty; "sitting" means nothing else than holding the heavenly throne and judgment seat! (So also Augustin, Vom Glauben und dem Symbol, 7).

II,16,16 From this faith receives manifold fruit. First of all, it recognizes that the Lord, through His Ascension, has opened to it again the access to the Kingdom of Heaven, which was closed by Adam. For he has entered heaven in our flesh, as it were in our name, and so it follows what the apostle says, that in him we are already, as it were, "set in the heavenly nature" (Eph 2:5f.). We do not wait for heaven with mere hope, but already have it in our head. Secondly, faith recognizes that it benefits us greatly when he is seated at the right hand of the Father. For he has entered into the holy of holies, "which is not made with hands," and now intercedes for us before the face of the Father forever as a helper and intercessor (Hebr 7:25; 9:11 f; Rom 8:34). He turns God’s gaze toward His righteousness and away from our sin. He reconciles the Father with us and paves the way and access to his throne for us with his intercession. He makes the Father be gracious and kind toward us, though otherwise he would only inspire terror in the wretched sinner. And thirdly, faith fixes its gaze on his power: on it rests our might and strength, our power and glory against all the powers of hell! For He has entered heaven and "led captivity captive" (Eph 4:8), has deprived our enemies of power, but has made His people rich – and still lavishes spiritual riches on them every day! He is enthroned on high in order to bestow his power on us, to awaken us to spiritual life, to sanctify us with his Spirit, to adorn his church with all kinds of gifts of grace, to protect it from all harm under his protection, to hold the hand of the raging enemies of the cross and our blessedness in his power – in general, to exercise all power in heaven and on earth, until he "lays all his enemies, who are also enemies to us, at the footstool of his feet" (Ps 110:1) and has completed the building of his church! This is the true constitution of his kingdom, this is the power which the Father has given him, – until he also accomplishes the last and comes again "to judge the living and the dead"!

II,16,17 Christ gives clear evidence of His very present power to His own. But his kingdom is to a certain extent hidden on earth under the lowliness of the flesh, and therefore faith is rightly called to consider that visible presence of Christ which he will reveal on the Last Day. For He will visibly return from heaven, as He was seen ascending (Acts 1:11; Mt 24:30). To all he will appear with the ineffable glory of his kingdom, in the splendor of immortality, clothed in the immense power of divine majesty, accompanied by the host of angels! So we shall await our Redeemer for that day when he will separate the sheep from the goats, the chosen from the rejected! (Mt 25,31-33). No living person, no dead person will escape His judgment! For at the ends of the earth the sound of the trumpet will be heard, summoning all men before His judgment seat – those whom this day finds still alive and those whom death has already torn out (1Thess 4:16f.). Some connect here with the words "living and dead" a different sense; yes, also some of the church fathers have wavered considerably in the explanation of this expression. But my interpretation is clear and plausible, and it corresponds to the sense of the creed, because this is written understandable for everyone. This is not contradicted by the word of the apostle, according to which it is appointed to all men to die once (Hebr 9:27). For the people who will experience the Last Judgment in this mortal existence will not die according to the natural course of events, but the transformation they will suffer is quite similar to death and is therefore rightly called "death". For surely "all will not fall asleep," but "all will be changed!" (1Cor 15:51). What does this mean? In a moment their mortal being will pass away and be taken away, and immediately it will be changed into a new being! (1Cor 15:52). But this taking away of the flesh is undoubtedly death; so it still remains true that "the living and the dead" will be summoned before the judgment seat: first the dead who have fallen asleep "in Christ" will rise, and then the living who are still left on earth will be caught up into the air to meet the Lord! (1Thess 4:16 ff.). The expression "the living and the dead" is obviously taken from the speech of Peter recorded by Luke (Acts 10:42) and from the solemn affirmation that Paul gives to Timothy (2Tim 4:1).

II,16,18 Glorious is the comfort we receive from the fact that judgment is with the Lord, who has ordained us to be fellow members of His glory in judgment. So he will certainly not sit in judgment for our damnation! For how should he, the most gracious Prince, corrupt his own people? How should he, the Head, destroy his members? How should the Advocate condemn his charges? The apostle dares to exclaim that no one can stand to condemn us, when Christ is here to intercede for us. But it is even more certain that Christ Himself, the Advocate, will not condemn us – He has taken us into His covenant, His protection! This gives us a glorious confidence that we will be brought before no other judgment seat than that of our Savior, from whom we may expect blessedness! (Compare Ambrose, Of Jacob and the Blessed Life, 1:6). He will certainly carry out the promise of eternal blessedness, which he now proclaims to us through the gospel, by his judgment. That the Father honored the Son by "handing over the judgment to him" (John 5:22) – he did this at the same time in the care for the conscience of the believers, who otherwise would have to tremble before the judgment. Up to this point I have followed the order of the Apostles’ Creed: it encompasses in a few words the main parts of our salvation, almost like a picture by which we can see clearly and in detail what we are to know about Christ. I call this creed "apostolic", although I do not have any troublesome thoughts about the author. The church fathers ascribe it with great unanimity to the apostles: perhaps they thought that it was written and edited by the apostles together, perhaps they also thought that they could secure a special reputation for this outline of the doctrine proclaimed by the apostles, which was compiled with right fidelity, by this solemn designation. For my part, I am not in any doubt that this confession was considered a public and generally accepted creed right from the beginning of the Church, that is, from the time of the apostles – be it from wherever it may! It was hardly written by an individual in his own name, for it has had a truly holy reputation among all believers since the earliest times. In any case, there is no question as to what is our only concern: it really does give the whole history on which our faith rests, clearly and in good order, and it contains nothing which is not clearly proved by incontrovertible testimonies of Holy Scripture. Acknowledging this, it is not worth while to agonize over the author, or to quarrel with others on this account; or there would have to appear in earnest someone who would only be willing to find here clearly the truth of the Holy Spirit, if he knew at the same time exactly whose mouth uttered it, and whose hand wrote it!

II,16,19 All our salvation, everything that belongs to it, is decided in Christ alone (Acts 4:12). Therefore we must not derive the least bit from elsewhere. If we seek salvation, the very name of Jesus tells us: it is with Him! (1Cor 1:30). If we are looking for other gifts of the Spirit, we find them in His anointing! If we ask for power – it lies in His dominion, for purity – it is based on His conception, for grace – it is offered to us in His birth, through which He became like us in all things, so that He might have compassion on our weaknesses (Hebr 2:17; 4,15). If we ask for redemption – it lies in His suffering, for absolution – it lies in His condemnation, for the lifting of the curse – it happens at His cross (Gal 3:13), for satisfaction – it is accomplished in his atonement, for cleansing – it comes to us in his blood, for reconciliation – we have it because of his descent into hell, for the mortification of our flesh – it is based on his burial, for the new life – it appears in his resurrection, for immortality – it is also granted to us there. We want to be heirs of heaven – we can be; for he has entered heaven; we desire protection and security, riches of all goods: in his kingdom we find them! We would like to face judgment with confidence: we may, for judgment is committed to him! And finally: in him lies the fullness of all goods, and therefore we shall draw from this fountain source until we are full, not from another! For he who is not satisfied with him alone, but lets himself be driven to and fro by all kinds of hopes – even if he looks "especially" to him! – he misses the right way, because he goes with his thinking and striving partly in another direction! Of course, this kind of unbelief cannot creep in at all, if one has once rightly recognized the whole immensity of his goods!

Seventeenth Chapter

It is rightly said and hits the point when it says: Christ has acquired God’s grace and salvation for us through his merit.

II,17,1 This question may now also come as a kind of addition to the treatment. For there are some people who have a perverse kind of perspicacity: they admit that we obtain salvation through Christ, but they cannot listen to the expression merit, thinking that God’s grace is obscured by it; thus Christ is for them merely an instrument or a servant, but not the author, duke and "prince" of life, as Peter calls Him! (Acts 3:15). Now I admit: if one wanted to contrast Christ in and for himself with the judgment of God, there would be no merit at all, however; for no man has such worthiness that he can earn anything with it before God. Yes, it is as Augustine says: "The brightest light of predestination and grace is the Savior, the man Christ Jesus himself; but that he is this, human nature has not acquired in him by previous merits of works or faith. Otherwise, let it be said to me how this man should have deserved to be accepted by the Word, who is coeternal with the Father, and to have been united with him in the unity of the person. So our head must be recognized as the only source from which grace pours out on all the members, according to the measure of each one. It is therefore the same grace which today makes every believer, as soon as he begins to believe, a Christian – and out of which once this man became Christ at the very beginning of his humanity!" (Of the Predestination of the Saints, 15). Augustine makes a similar judgment elsewhere: "There is no clearer example of predestination than the Mediator himself. For the God who made of the seed of David a righteous man, who would never have been unrighteous, and that without merit of any previous will of his – he makes of the unrighteous righteous, who are members of that Head," etc. (Of the Gift of Perseverance, 24). So when Christ’s "merit" is spoken of, this is not put forward as the beginning, but we go back to God’s ordinance, which is the first cause, for in pure good pleasure He set us the Mediator who should purchase salvation for us. But therefore it is also ignorance of the matter to set up an opposition between God’s mercy and Christ’s merit. It is, after all, a quite universal rule: what results from a thing cannot contradict this thing. Therefore, there is nothing at all contradictory in the double assertion: man is justified by grace through God’s pure mercy – and: Christ’s merit intercedes for us. For this merit of Christ is subordinated to the mercy of God! On the other hand, this undeserved mercy of God as well as the vicarious obedience of Christ is rightly contrasted with our works, of course both according to His order! For Christ was able to acquire merit for us only out of God’s good pleasure, precisely because he was ordained to appease God’s wrath with his atoning sacrifice and to put our transgressions out of the world with his obedience! If, therefore, merit depends solely on God’s grace, which wanted to create salvation for us in this way, then this merit of Christ is just as justifiably opposed to all our righteousness as the grace of God itself.

II,17,2 This difference can also be gathered from very many passages of Scripture. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish…" (John 3:16). God’s love is in the first place, because it is the first reason and origin; only then faith in Christ follows: it is therefore the second, subsequent cause. But if someone wanted to deduce from this the assertion that Christ would therefore be merely the formal cause, he would thereby weaken Christ’s power far beyond the measure of the text. For if we attain righteousness through faith based on him, the cause of our salvation obviously lies in him. This is also clearly proved by many passages of Scripture. "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1Jn 4:10). From this it is quite clear: God, in order to remove every obstacle that blocked our access to His love, determined that we should be reconciled to Him in Christ. The word reconciliation has great weight: for God did love us, but in an inconceivable way he bore wrath against us at the same time, – until he was reconciled in Christ! A whole series of scriptural passages belong to this: "And the same is the propitiation for our sins" (1Jn 2:2). "For it was the good pleasure … that … that all things might be reconciled to Himself through Him … that He might make peace through Himself by the blood of His cross …" (Col 1:19f.). "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their sin to them …" (2Cor 5:19). "He has made us acceptable in the Beloved …" (Eph 1:6). "And that He was reconciling both of us to God … through the cross" (Eph 2:16). The meaning of this mystery can be ascertained especially from the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians. There Paul first teaches that we are chosen in Christ, and then he adds that we have also obtained grace in Him (Eph 1:4 ff.). God has loved us before the foundation of the world, but his grace has embraced us only in that, after he was reconciled through Christ’s blood, he showed his love completely. For God is the source of all righteousness, and therefore, as long as man is a sinner, he is necessarily an enemy and a judge! The beginning of love lies in righteousness; Paul expresses it like this: "He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2Cor 5:21; not quite Luther’s text). Thus he shows: we have obtained righteousness by free grace through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, so that we are now pleasing to God, who by nature are "children of wrath" and have departed from Him through sin. That difference (that duality between God’s mercy and Christ’s merit) is also expressed in the passages where Christ’s grace appears connected with God’s love; from this it follows that he gives to us of what is his, which he has acquired; for it would be improper otherwise to praise him without the Father, for himself alone, that this grace is his grace, and that it comes from him!

II,17,3 But that Christ has really earned and merited grace with the Father through His obedience is clear and reliable from very many passages of Scripture. I accept as admitted this: If Christ made satisfaction for our sins, if he bore the punishment we deserved, if he reconciled God with his obedience, if he, the righteous, suffered for us unrighteous, then by his righteousness he acquired salvation for us – or, which means the same thing: he earned it for us! But now, according to Paul’s testimony, we are reconciled, we have received reconciliation through his death! (Rom 5:10 s.). Reconciliation, however, only takes place where offense has preceded. The point of this passage, then, is this: God, whom we hated because of our sin, is reconciled with us through the death of his Son and is now gracious to us. In this context, it is also important to note the comparison that Paul makes shortly after the quoted passage: "Just as through one man’s disobedience many sinners were made, so also through one man’s obedience many righteous will be made! (Rom 5:19). The meaning is as follows: As we have fallen away from God through Adam’s sin and are destined to perdition, so we are accepted as righteous in grace through Christ’s obedience. That Paul expresses himself linguistically as if this righteousness were only in the future does not exclude the presence of this righteousness; this is shown by the context in which the text stands. For shortly before he says without the future tense: "But the gift also helps from many sins to righteousness" (Rom 5:16).

II,17,4 By the way, when I said that grace was purchased for us through Christ’s merit, I understand it as follows: We are made pure through His blood, and His death as satisfaction wipes out our sin: "The blood of Jesus Christ … makes us clean from all sin!" (1Jn 1:7). This is the blood "that is shed for the remission of sins" (Mt 26:28). The fact that His blood is shed has the effect that our sins are not imputed to us, and from this it follows again: this ransom has satisfied the judgment of God. To this belongs the word of John the Baptist: "Behold, this is the Lamb of God, which bareth the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). For with this he contrasts Christ with all the sacrifices required by the law; he wants to show that in him alone is fulfilled what those images had indicated! We know how Moses says now and then: the transgression will be blotted out, the sin erased and forgiven (e.g. Lev 16,34). Finally, we already learn from the examples of the Old Covenant the power and effect of the death of Christ. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has explained all this very clearly; he rightly states the principle: "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebr 9,22). From this he draws the conclusion: "Christ appeared once to take away sin by His own sacrifice" and "He was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many" (Hebr 9:26, 28). But before that he says, "Christ entered once into the holy things, not by the blood of goats or calves, but by His own blood, having invented an eternal redemption" (Hebr 9:12). From this he draws the conclusion: "For the blood of oxen and of goats … sanctifies the unclean to bodily purity, how much more will the blood of Christ … cleanse our conscience from dead works …" (Hebr 9:13f.). From this it is clear: If we do not acknowledge the power of Christ’s sacrifice to purify, to reconcile, to do enough, this means an unjustified disparagement of the Lord! So he adds: "And therefore he is also a mediator of the new testament, that through the death which was made to redeem from the transgressions which were under the first testament they which are called might receive the promised eternal inheritance" (Hebr 9,15). But especially we must also remember the comparison Paul uses in Galatians: "He became a curse for us!" (Gal 3:13). For it would be superfluous, even absurd, for Christ to have been burdened with the curse – if, by bearing the punishment that others deserved, He had not now acquired righteousness for these as well! The testimony of Isaiah is also clear: "The punishment was upon him, that we might have peace; and by his wounds we are healed" (Isa 53:5). If Christ had not made satisfaction for our sins, it could not be said that he had reconciled God by taking upon himself the punishment we deserved. To this corresponds also the word that follows later in Isaiah: "…because he was afflicted for the iniquity of my people" (Isa 53:8; Calvin quotes somewhat differently, but in the same sense). In addition to this there should also be a word of Peter which leaves no doubt: "Who Himself bore our sins … to the wood" (1Pet 2,24). According to these words, the burden of condemnation that was upon us has been cast upon Christ!

II,17,5 The apostles also clearly proclaimed that Christ offered the ransom in order to redeem us from the guilt of death. "We are justified without merit by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus, whom God presented as a mercy seat in His blood through faith…" (Rom 3,24f.). Here Paul praises the grace of God because he gave the ransom in the death of Christ, and then he encourages us to take refuge in his blood in order to obtain righteousness before God and to be able to stand confidently before his judgment seat (especially Rom 3:25). Peter’s words have the same meaning: "And know that you were not redeemed with perishable silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ as an innocent and unblemished lamb" (1Pet 1:18 f.). For the establishment of this contrast (gold and silver – the lamb!) would have no sense at all if Christ had not really done enough with this ransom. Paul also says: "You were bought at a high price!" (1Cor 6:20). Also his word: "There is … a mediator, … who gave himself as a ransom …" (1Tim 2:5 s.; not quite Luther text) would not be valid if the punishment we deserved would not be laid on Him. In another place Paul wants to describe what the "redemption through His blood" is, and there he calls it "the forgiveness of sins" (Col 1:14); that means: we receive justification and acquittal from God, because that blood means complete satisfaction. The other passage corresponds to this: "He has blotted out the handwriting that was against us … and nailed it to the cross…" (Col 2:14). There is talk about that payment, that compensation, which makes us free from guilt. The words of Paul also have great weight: "If righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain" (Gal 2,21). From this we see that we must seek from Christ what the law would grant if one fulfilled it, that is, that through Christ’s grace we obtain the fulfillment of the promise God made to our works in the law: "Whoever does this will live by it!" (Lev 18:5). This is just as clearly evident in his speech at Antioch, where he proclaims that through faith in Christ we are justified from all those things "from which you could not be justified in the Law of Moses!" (Acts 13:38). For obedience to the Law is righteousness, and therefore Christ, who took this burden upon Himself and reconciled us to God in such a way as if we had fulfilled the Law, has undeniably earned us God’s grace through His merit! In the same direction goes the well-known word from the Epistle to the Galatians: "… God sent his Son … under the law to redeem those who were under the law" (Gal 4,4f.). Why was he put under the law other than to accomplish what we were not able to accomplish, and in this way earned righteousness for us? Hence this imputation of righteousness without all good works, of which Paul writes; that righteousness which is imputed to us by grace, because it is found only in Christ (Rom 4). For this reason the body of Christ is called our food (John 6,55). For only in Him do we find the foundation and power of our life. But this power comes to us only because the Son of God was crucified as a ransom for the sake of our righteousness! So also Paul says: "He gave Himself for us as a gift and sacrifice, to God for a sweet savor" (Eph 5:2). And then again: "He was given for our sins and raised for our righteousness" (Rom 4,25). From this it follows that not only is salvation given to us through Christ, but that now the Father is gracious to us for His sake! For undoubtedly in him is fulfilled what God once proclaimed through Isaiah in a picture: "I will help her out for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David" (Isa 37,35). The apostle is the best witness for this; he says: "Your sins are forgiven through His name" (1Jn 2:12). Christ’s name is not explicitly mentioned, but John refers to Him with the word "His" according to his habit. In the same sense, the Lord speaks for Himself: "As I live for the Father’s sake, so he who eats Me will also live for My sake" (John 6,57; Calvin quotes less precisely). Paul’s words are also true: "It is given unto you to do this for Christ’s sake, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Phil 1:29).

II,17,6 Now Peter Lombardus (Sentences III,18) and the scholastics ask whether Christ also earned merit for himself. But this question is foolish presumption – and its affirmation a presumptuous assertion. Was it necessary that the only begotten Son of God descended to earth in order to acquire something new for himself? But God himself solves the mystery of his counsel and thus puts an end to all questions. It is said that the Father did not think about the merits of the Son, but He gave Him to death and did not spare Him because He loved the world! (Rom 8,32.35.37). Here we must pay attention to prophetic words like the following: "A child is born to us …" (Isa 9:6). "You, daughter of Zion, rejoice, behold your king is coming to you!" (Zech 9:9). Superfluous and meaningless would be in the other case also the high words with which Paul praises the love of Christ, namely that He died for His enemies! (Rom 5,10). He did not think of himself and says so himself: "I sanctify myself for you" (John 17,19). There he clearly testifies that he does not want to earn anything for himself: he lets the fruit of his self-sanctification be given to others. And this is certainly worthy of our constant attention: Christ gave himself so much to earn our salvation that he forgot himself in the process. It is also wrong when the scholastics seize the word of Paul for their opinion: "Therefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name…" (Phil 2:9). (Phil 2:9). By what merits should a man come to be the judge of the world, the head of the angels, to hold God’s highest power, how should he come to have that divine majesty inherent in him, of which all the power and virtue of men and angels cannot reach the thousandth part? But the solution is also quite easy and clear: Paul does not speak here of the reason for which Christ was exalted, but he shows that the exaltation is the consequence of the preceding humiliation. Thus Christ is to serve as an example for us. So Paul does not want to say anything different here than it happens in another place: "Did not Christ have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?" (Lk 24:26).

John Calvin: The true and the false predestination.   -  Discourse 100