- Son of God
- Ministry in the Church
- New Obedience
- The Church
- What is the Church
- The supper
of the Lord
- Use of
- Return of
- Free will
- Cause of
- Faith and
- Cult of
to First part
- Both kinds
in the sacrament
Distinction of Foods
27, 28, conclusion
The Augsburg Confession
Article XXVII: Of Monastic Vows.
1] What is taught on our part concerning Monastic
Vows, will be better understood if it be remembered what has
been the state of the monasteries, and how many things were
daily done in those very monasteries, contrary to the
Canons. 2] In Augustine's time they were free
associations. Afterward, when discipline was corrupted, vows
were everywhere added for the purpose of restoring
discipline, as in a carefully planned prison.
3] Gradually, many other observances were added
besides vows. 4] And these fetters were laid upon
many before the lawful age, contrary to the Canons.
5] Many also entered into this kind of life through
ignorance, being unable to judge their own strength, though
they were of sufficient age. 6] Being thus ensnared,
they were compelled to remain, even though some could have
been freed by the kind provision of the Canons. 7]
And this was more the case in convents of women than of
monks, although more consideration should have been shown
the weaker sex. 8] This rigor displeased many good
men before this time, who saw that young men and maidens
were thrown into convents for a living. They saw what
unfortunate results came of this procedure, and what
scandals were created, what snares were cast upon
consciences! They were grieved 9] that the authority
of the Canons in so momentous a matter was utterly set aside
and despised. To 10] these evils was added such a
persuasion concerning vows as, it is well known, in former
times displeased even those monks who were more considerate.
11] They taught that vows were equal to Baptism; they
taught that by this kind of life they merited forgiveness of
sins and justification before God. 12] Yea, they
added that the monastic life not only merited righteousness
before God but even greater things, because it kept not only
the precepts, but also the so-called "evangelical counsels."
13] Thus they made men believe that the profession of
monasticism was far better than Baptism, and that the
monastic life was more meritorious than that of magistrates,
than the life of pastors, and such like, who serve their
calling in accordance with God's commands, without any
man-made services. 14] None of these things can be
denied; for they appear in their own books. [Moreover, a
person who has been thus ensnared and has entered a
monastery learns little of Christ.]
15] What, then, came to pass in the monasteries?
Aforetime they were schools of theology and other branches,
profitable to the Church; and thence pastors and bishops
were obtained. Now it is another thing. It is needless to
rehearse what is known to all. 16] Aforetime they
came together to learn; now they feign that it is a kind of
life instituted to merit grace and righteousness; yea, they
preach that it is a state of perfection, and they put it far
above all other kinds of life ordained of God. 17]
These things we have rehearsed without odious exaggerate
ion, to the end that the doctrine of our teachers on this
point might be better understood.
18] First, concerning such as contract matrimony,
they teach on our part that it is lawful for all men who are
not fitted for single life to contract matrimony, because
vows cannot annul the ordinance and commandment of God.
19] But the commandment of God is 1 Cor. 7, 2: To avoid
fornication, let every man have 20] his own wife. Nor
is it the commandment only, but also the creation and
ordinance of God, which forces those to marry who are not
excepted by a singular work of God, according to the text
Gen. 2, 18: It is not good 21]that the man should be
alone. Therefore they do not sin who obey this commandment
and ordinance of God.
22] What objection can be raised to this? Let men
extol the obligation of a vow as much as they list, yet
shall they not bring to pass that the vow 23] annuls
the commandment of God. The Canons teach that the right of
the superior is excepted in every vow; [that vows are not
binding against the decision of the Pope;] much less,
therefore, are these vows of force which are against the
commandments of God.
24] Now, if the obligation of vows could not be
changed for any cause whatever, the Roman Pontiffs could
never have given dispensation for it is not lawful for man
to annul an obligation which is simply 25] divine.
But the Roman Pontiffs have prudently judged that leniency
is to be observed in this obligation, and therefore 26]
we read that many times they have dispensed from vows. The
case of the King of Aragon who was called back from the
monastery is well known, and there are also examples in our
own times. [Now, if dispensations have been granted for the
sake of securing temporal interests, it is much more proper
that they be granted on account of the distress of souls.]
27] In the second place, why do our adversaries
exaggerate the obligation or effect of a vow when, at the
same time, they have not a word to say of the nature of the
vow itself, that it ought to be in a thing possible, that it
ought to be free, 28] and chosen spontaneously and
deliberately? But it is not unknown to what extent perpetual
chastity is in the power of man. 29] And how few are
there who have taken the vow spontaneously and deliberately!
Young maidens and men, before they are able to judge, are
persuaded, and sometimes even compelled, to take the vow.
Wherefore 30] it is not fair to insist so rigorously
on the obligation, since it is granted by all that it is
against the nature of a vow to take it without spontaneous
and deliberate action.
31] Most canonical laws rescind vows made before the
age of fifteen; for before that age there does not seem
sufficient judgment in a person to decide concerning a
perpetual life. 32] Another Canon, granting more to
the weakness of man, adds a few years; for it forbids a vow
to be made before the age of eighteen. 33] But which
of these two Canons shall we follow? The most part have an
excuse for leaving the monasteries, because most of them
have taken the vows before they reached these ages.
34] Finally, even though the violation of a vow might
be censured, yet it seems not forthwith to follow that the
marriages of such persons must be dissolved. 35] For
Augustine denies that they ought to be dissolved (XXVII.
Quaest. I, Cap. Nuptiarum), and his authority is not lightly
to be esteemed, although other men afterwards thought
36] But although it appears that God's command
concerning marriage delivers very many from their vows, yet
our teachers introduce also another argument concerning vows
to show that they are void. For every service of God,
ordained and chosen of men without the commandment of God to
merit justification and grace, is wicked, as Christ says
Matt. 15, 9: 37]In vain do they worship Me with the
commandments of men. And Paul teaches everywhere that
righteousness is not to be sought from our own observances
and acts of worship, devised by men, but that it comes by
faith to those who believe that they are received by God
into grace for Christ's sake.
38] But it is evident that monks have taught that
services of man's making satisfy for sins and merit grace
and justification. What else is this than to detract from
the glory of Christ and to obscure and deny the
righteousness of faith? 39] It follows, therefore,
that the vows thus commonly taken have been wicked services,
and, consequently, are void. For a wicked vow, taken against
the commandment of God, is not valid; for (as the Canon
says) no vow ought to bind men to wickedness.
41] Paul says, Gal. 5, 4: Christ is become of no
effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law,
ye are fallen from grace. 42] To those, therefore,
who want to be justified by their vows Christ is made of no
effect, and they fall from grace. 43] For also these
who ascribe justification to vows ascribe to their own works
that which properly belongs to the glory of Christ.
44] Nor can it be denied, indeed, that the monks have
taught that, by their vows and observances, they were
justified, and merited forgiveness of sins, yea, they
invented still greater absurdities, saying 45] that
they could give others a share in their works. If any one
should be inclined to enlarge on these things with evil
intent, how many things could he bring together whereof even
the monks are now ashamed! 46] Over and above this,
they persuaded men that services of man's making were a
state of Christian perfection. 47] And is not this
assigning justification to works? 48] It is no light
offense in the Church to set forth to the people a service
devised by men, without the commandment of God, and to teach
that such service justifies men. For the righteousness of
faith, which chiefly ought to be taught in the Church, is
obscured when these wonderful angelic forms of worship, with
their show of poverty, humility, and celibacy, are cast
before the eyes of men.
49] Furthermore, the precepts of God and the true
service of God are obscured when men hear that only monks
are in a state of perfection. For Christian perfection is to
fear God from the heart, and yet to conceive great faith,
and to trust that for Christ's sake we have a God who has
been reconciled, to ask of God, and assuredly to expect His
aid in all things that, according to our calling, are to be
done; and meanwhile, to be diligent in outward good works,
50] and to serve our calling. In these things consist
the true perfection and the true service of God. It does not
consist in celibacy, or in begging, or in vile apparel.
51] But the people conceive many pernicious opinions
from the false commendations of monastic life. 52]
They hear celibacy praised above measure; therefore they
lead their married life with offense to their consciences.
53] They hear that only beggars are perfect;
therefore they keep their possessions and do business with
offense to their consciences. 54] They hear that it
is an evangelical counsel not to seek revenge; therefore
some in private life are not afraid to take revenge, for
they hear that it is but a counsel, and 55] not a
commandment. Others judge that the Christian cannot properly
hold a civil office or be a magistrate.
56] There are on record examples of men who,
forsaking marriage and the administration of the
Commonwealth, have hid themselves in monasteries. This
57] they called fleeing from the world, and seeking a
kind of life which would be more pleasing to God. Neither
did they see that God ought to be served in those
commandments which He Himself has given and not in
commandments 58] devised by men. A good and perfect
kind of life is that which has for it the commandment of
God. 59] It is necessary to admonish men of these
60] And before these times, Gerson rebukes this error
of the monks concerning perfection, and testifies that in
his day it was a new saying that the monastic life is a
state of perfection.
61] So many wicked opinions are inherent in the vows,
namely, that they justify, that they constitute Christian
perfection, that they keep the counsels and commandments,
that they have works of supererogation. All these things,
since they are false and empty, make vows null and void.
Article XXVIII: Of Ecclesiastical Power.
1] There has been great controversy concerning the
Power of Bishops, in which some have awkwardly confounded
the power of the Church 2] and the power of the
sword. And from this confusion very great wars and tumults
have resulted, while the Pontiffs, emboldened by the power
of the Keys, not only have instituted new services and
burdened consciences with reservation of cases and ruthless
excommunications, but have also undertaken to transfer the
kingdoms of this world, 3] and to take the Empire
from the Emperor. These wrongs have long since been rebuked
in the Church 4] by learned and godly men. Therefore
our teachers, for the comforting of men's consciences, were
constrained to show the difference between the power of the
Church and the power of the sword, and taught that both of
them, because of God's commandment, are to be held in
reverence and honor, as the chief blessings of God on earth.
5] But this is their opinion, that the power of the
Keys, or the power of the bishops, according to the Gospel,
is a power or commandment of God, to preach the Gospel, to
remit and retain sins, and to administer Sacraments. 6]
For with this commandment Christ sends forth His Apostles,
John 20, 21 sqq.: As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I
you. Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit,
they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain,
they are retained. 7] Mark 16, 15: Go preach the
Gospel to every creature.
8] This power is exercised only by teaching or
preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments,
according to their calling either to many or to individuals.
For thereby are granted, not bodily, but eternal things, as
eternal righteousness, the Holy Ghost, eternal life. 9]
These things cannot come but by the ministry of the Word and
the Sacraments, as Paul says, Rom. 1, 16: The Gospel is the
power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.
10] Therefore, since the power of the Church grants
eternal things, and is exercised only by the ministry of the
Word, it does not interfere with civil government; no more
than the art of singing interferes with civil government.
11] For civil government deals with other things than
does the Gospel. The civil rulers defend not minds, but
bodies and bodily things against manifest injuries, and
restrain men with the sword and bodily punishments in order
to preserve civil justice and peace.
12] Therefore the power of the Church and the civil
power must not be confounded. The power of the Church has
its own commission to teach the Gospel and 13] to
administer the Sacraments. Let it not break into the office
of another; let it not transfer the kingdoms of this world;
let it not abrogate the laws of civil rulers; let it not
abolish lawful obedience; let it not interfere with
judgments concerning civil ordinances or contracts; let it
not prescribe laws to civil rulers concerning the form of
the Commonwealth. 14] As Christ says, John 18, 36: My
kingdom is not of this world; 15] also Luke 12, 14:
Who made Me a judge or a divider over you? 16] Paul
also says, Phil. 3, 20: Our citizenship is in heaven; 17]
2 Cor. 10, 4: The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but
mighty through God to the casting down of imaginations.
18] After this manner our teachers discriminate
between the duties of both these powers, and command that
both be honored and acknowledged as gifts and blessings of
19] If bishops have any power of the sword, that
power they have, not as bishops, by the commission of the
Gospel, but by human law having received it of kings and
emperors for the civil administration of what is theirs.
This, however, is another office than the ministry of the
20] When, therefore, the question is concerning the
jurisdiction of bishops, civil authority must be
distinguished from 21] ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
Again, according to the Gospel or, as they say, by divine
right, there belongs to the bishops as bishops, that is, to
those to whom has been committed the ministry of the Word
and the Sacraments, no jurisdiction except to forgive sins,
to judge doctrine, to reject doctrines contrary to the
Gospel, and to exclude from the communion of the Church
wicked men, whose wickedness is known, and this without
human force, 22] simply by the Word. Herein the
congregations of necessity and by divine right must obey
them, according to Luke 10, 16: He that heareth you heareth
Me. 23] But when they teach or ordain anything
against the Gospel, then the congregations have a
commandment of God prohibiting obedience, Matt. 7, 15:
Beware of false prophets; 24] Gal. 1, 8: Though an
angel from heaven preach any other gospel, let him be
accursed; 25] 2 Cor. 13, 8: We can do nothing against
the truth, but for the truth. 26] Also: The power
which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to
destruction. 27] So, also, the Canonical Laws command
(II. Q. VII. Cap., Sacerdotes, and Cap. Oves). 28]
And Augustine (Contra Petiliani Epistolam): Neither must we
submit to Catholic bishops if they chance to err, or hold
anything contrary to the Canonical Scriptures of God.
29] If they have any other power or jurisdiction, in
hearing and judging certain cases, as of matrimony or of
tithes, etc., they have it by human right, in which matters
princes are bound, even against their will, when the
ordinaries fail, to dispense justice to their subjects for
the maintenance of peace. 30] Moreover, it is
disputed whether bishops or pastors have the right to
introduce ceremonies in the Church, and to make laws
concerning meats, holy-days and grades, that is, orders of
ministers, etc. 31] They that give this right to the
bishops refer to this testimony John 16, 12. 13: I have yet
many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide
you into all truth. 32] They also refer to the
example of the Apostles, who commanded to abstain from blood
and from things strangled, Acts 15, 29. 33] They
refer to the Sabbath-day as having been changed into the
Lord's Day, contrary to the Decalog, as it seems. Neither is
there any example whereof they make more than concerning the
changing of the Sabbath-day. Great, say they, is the power
of the Church, since it has dispensed with one of the Ten
34] But concerning this question it is taught on our
part (as has been shown above) that bishops have no power to
decree anything against the Gospel. The Canonical Laws teach
the same thing (Dist. IX). 35] Now, it is against
Scripture to establish or require the observance of any
traditions, to the end that by such observance we may make
satisfaction for sins, or merit grace and righteousness.
36] For the glory of Christ's merit suffers injury when,
by such observances, 37] we undertake to merit
justification. But it is manifest that, by such belief,
traditions have almost infinitely multiplied in the Church,
the doctrine concerning faith and the righteousness of faith
being meanwhile suppressed. For gradually more holy-days
were made, fasts appointed, new ceremonies and services in
honor of saints instituted, because the authors of such
things thought that by these works they were meriting 38]
grace. Thus in times past the Penitential Canons increased,
whereof we still see some traces in the satisfactions.
39] Again, the authors of traditions do contrary to
the command of God when they find matters of sin in foods,
in days, and like things, and burden the Church with bondage
of the law, as if there ought to be among Christians, in
order to merit justification a service like the Levitical,
the arrangement of which God had committed to the Apostles
and bishops. 40] For thus some of them write; and the
Pontiffs in some measure seem to be misled by the example
41] of the law of Moses. Hence are such burdens, as that
they make it mortal sin, even without offense to others, to
do manual labor on holy-days, a mortal sin to omit the
Canonical Hours, that certain foods defile the conscience
that fastings are works which appease God that sin in a
reserved case cannot be forgiven but by the authority of him
who reserved it; whereas the Canons themselves speak only of
the reserving of the ecclesiastical penalty, and not of the
reserving of the guilt.
42] Whence have the bishops the right to lay these
traditions upon the Church for the ensnaring of consciences,
when Peter, Acts 15, 10, forbids to put a yoke upon the neck
of the disciples, and Paul says, 2 Cor. 13, 10, that the
power given him was to edification not to destruction? Why,
therefore, do they increase sins by these traditions?
43] But there are clear testimonies which prohibit
the making of such traditions, as though they merited grace
or were necessary to 44] salvation. Paul says, Col.
2, 16-23: Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in
respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the
Sabbath-days. 45]If ye be dead with Christ from the
rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world,
are ye subject to ordinances (touch not; taste not; handle
not, which all are to perish with the using) after the
commandments and doctrines of men! which things have indeed
a show of wisdom. 46] Also in Titus 1, 14 he openly
forbids traditions: Not giving heed to Jewish fables and
commandments of men that turn from the truth.
47] And Christ, Matt. 15, 14. 13, says of those who
require traditions: Let them alone; they be blind leaders of
the blind; 48] and He rejects such services: Every
plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted shall be
49] If bishops have the right to burden churches with
infinite traditions, and to ensnare consciences, why does
Scripture so often prohibit to make, and to listen to,
traditions? Why does it call them "doctrines of devils"? 1
Tim. 4, 1. Did the Holy Ghost in vain forewarn of these
50] Since, therefore, ordinances instituted as things
necessary, or with an opinion of meriting grace, are
contrary to the Gospel, it follows that it is not lawful for
any bishop 51] to institute or exact such services.
For it is necessary that the doctrine of Christian liberty
be preserved in the churches, namely, that the bondage of
the Law is not necessary to justification, as it is written
in the Epistle to the Galatians, 5, 1: Be not entangled
again with the yoke of bondage. 52] It is necessary
that the chief article of the Gospel be preserved, to wit,
that we obtain grace freely by faith in Christ, and not for
certain observances or acts of worship devised by men.
53] What, then, are we to think of the Sunday and
like rites in the house of God? To this we answer that it is
lawful for bishops or pastors to make ordinances that things
be done orderly in the Church, not that thereby we should
merit grace or make satisfaction for sins, or that
consciences be bound to judge them necessary services, and
to think that it is a sin to break them 54] without
offense to others. So Paul ordains, 1 Cor. 11, 5, that women
should cover their heads in the congregation, 1 Cor. 14, 30,
that interpreters be heard in order in the church, etc.
55] It is proper that the churches should keep such
ordinances for the sake of love and tranquillity, so far
that one do not offend another, that all things be done in
the churches in order, and without confusion, 1 Cor. 14, 40;
comp. Phil. 2, 14; 56] but so that consciences be not
burdened to think that they are necessary to salvation, or
to judge that they sin when they break them without offense
to others; as no one will say that a woman sins who goes out
in public with her head uncovered provided only that no
offense be given.
57] Of this kind is the observance of the Lord's Day,
Easter, Pentecost, and like holy-days and 58] rites.
For those who judge that by the authority of the Church the
observance of the Lord's Day instead of the Sabbath-day was
ordained as a thing necessary, 59] do greatly err.
Scripture has abrogated the Sabbath-day; for it teaches
that, since the Gospel has been revealed, all the ceremonies
of Moses can be omitted. And 60] yet, because it was
necessary to appoint a certain day, that the people might
know when they ought to come together, it appears that the
Church designated the Lord's Day for this purpose; and this
day seems to have been chosen all the more for this
additional reason, that men might have an example of
Christian liberty, and might know that the keeping neither
of the Sabbath nor of any other day is necessary.
61] There are monstrous disputations concerning the
changing of the law, the ceremonies of the new law, the
changing of the Sabbath-day, which all have sprung from the
false belief that there must needs be in the Church a
service like to the Levitical, and that Christ had given
commission to the Apostles and bishops to devise new
ceremonies as necessary to 62] salvation. These
errors crept into the Church when the righteousness of faith
was not taught clearly enough. 63] Some dispute that
the keeping of the Lord's Day is not indeed of divine right,
but in a manner so. They prescribe concerning holy-days, how
far it is lawful to work. What else 64] are such
disputations than snares of consciences? For although they
endeavor to modify the traditions, yet the mitigation can
never be perceived as long as the opinion remains that they
are necessary, which must needs remain where the
righteousness of faith and Christian liberty are not known.
65] The Apostles commanded Acts 15, 20 to abstain
from blood. Who does now observe it? And yet they that do it
not sin not; for not even the Apostles themselves wanted to
burden consciences with such bondage; but they forbade it
for a time, to avoid offense. 66] For in this decree
we must perpetually consider what the aim of the Gospel is.
67] Scarcely any Canons are kept with exactness, and
from day to day many go out of use even among those who are
the most zealous advocates of traditions. 68] Neither
can due regard be paid to consciences unless this mitigation
be observed, that we know that the Canons are kept without
holding them to be necessary, and that no harm is done
consciences, even though traditions go out of use.
69] But the bishops might easily retain the lawful
obedience of the people if they would not insist upon the
observance of such traditions as cannot be kept with a good
conscience. 70] Now they command celibacy; they admit
none unless they swear that they will not teach 71]
the pure doctrine of the Gospel. The churches do not ask
that the bishops should restore concord at the expense of
their honor; which, nevertheless, 72] it would be
proper for good pastors to do. They ask only that they would
release unjust burdens which are new and have been received
contrary to the custom of the Church Catholic. 73] It
may be that in the beginning there were plausible reasons
for some of these ordinances; and yet they are not adapted
to later times. 74] It is also evident that some were
adopted through erroneous conceptions. Therefore it would be
befitting the clemency of the Pontiffs to mitigate them now,
because such a modification does not shake the unity of the
Church. For many human traditions have been changed in
process of time, 75] as the Canons themselves show.
But if it be impossible to obtain a mitigation of such
observances as cannot be kept without sin, we are bound to
follow the apostolic rule, Acts 5, 29, which commands us to
obey God rather than men.
76] Peter, 1 Pet. 5, 3, forbids bishops to be lords,
and to rule over the churches. 77] It is not our
design now to wrest the government from the bishops, but
this one thing is asked, namely, that they allow the Gospel
to be purely taught, and that they relax some few
observances which 78] cannot be kept without sin. But
if they make no concession, it is for them to see how they
shall give account to God for furnishing, by their
obstinacy, a cause for schism.
1] These are the chief articles which seem to be in
controversy. For although we might have spoken of more
abuses, yet, to avoid undue length, we have set forth the
chief points, from which the rest may be readily judged.
2] There have been great complaints concerning
indulgences, pilgrimages, and the abuse of excommunications.
The parishes have been vexed in many ways by the dealers in
indulgences. There were endless contentions between the
pastors and the monks concerning the parochial right,
confessions, burials, sermons on extraordinary occasions,
and 3] innumerable other things. Issues of this sort
we have passed over so that the chief points in this matter,
having been briefly set forth, might be the more readily
understood. 4] Nor has anything been here said or
adduced to the reproach of any one. 5] Only those
things have been recounted whereof we thought that it was
necessary to speak, in order that it might be understood
that in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on
our part against Scripture or the Church Catholic. For it is
manifest that we have taken most diligent care that no new
and ungodly doctrine should creep into our churches.
6] The above articles we desire to present in
accordance with the edict of Your Imperial Majesty, in order
to exhibit our Confession and let men see a summary of the
doctrine of our teachers. 7] If there is anything
that any one might desire in this Confession, we are ready,
God willing, to present ampler information according to the
8] Your Imperial Majesty's faithful subjects:
9] John, Duke of Saxony, Elector
10] George, Margrave of Brandenburg.
11] Ernest, Duke of Lueneberg.
12] Philip, Landgrave of Hesse.
13] John Frederick, Duke of Saxony.
14] Francis, Duke of Lueneburg.
15] Wolfgang, Prince of Anhalt.
16] Senate and Magistracy of Nuremburg
17] Senate of Reutlingen.