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The Second Helvetic Confession

CHAPTER 1 - Of The Holy Scripture Being The True Word of God

CANONICAL SCRIPTURE. We believe and confess the canonical Scriptures of the holy
prophets and apostles of both Testaments to be the true Word of God, and to have
sufficient authority of themselves, not of men. For God himself spoke to the
fathers, prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures.
And in this Holy Scripture, the universal Church of Christ has the most complete
exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a
life acceptable to God; and in this respect it is expressly commanded by God
that nothing be either added to or taken from the same.
SCRIPTURE TEACHES FULLY ALL GODLINESS. We judge, therefore, that from these
Scriptures are to be derived true wisdom and godliness, the reformation and
government of churches; as also instruction in all duties of piety; and, to be
short, the confirmation of doctrines, and the rejection of all errors, moreover,
all exhortations according to that word of the apostle, "All scripture is
inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof," etc. (II Timothy
3:16-17). Again, "I am writing these instructions to you," says the apostle to
Timothy, "So that you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God,"
etc. (I Timothy 3:14-15). SCRIPTURE IS THE WORD OF GOD. Again, the selfsame
apostle to the Thessalonians: "When," says he, "You received the word of God
which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men but as what it
really is, the Word of God," etc. (I Thess. 2:13) For the Lord himself has said
in the gospel, "It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of my Father speaking
through you"; therefore "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects me
rejects him who sent me" (Matt. 10:20; Luke 10:16; John 13:20)
God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that
the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that
neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from
heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not
the minister that preaches; for even if he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless
the Word of God remains still true and good.
Neither do we think that therefore the outward preaching is to be thought as
fruitless because the instruction in true religion depends on the inward
illumination of the Spirit, or because it is written "And no longer shall each
man teach his neighbor..., for they shall all know me" (Jer. 31:34), And
"Neither he who plants nor he that waters is anything, but only God who gives
the growth" (I Cor. 3:7). For although "No one can come to Christ unless he be
drawn by the Father" (John 6:44), And unless the Holy Spirit inwardly illumines
him, yet we know that it is surely the will of God that his Word should be
preached outwardly also. God could indeed, by his Holy Spirit, or by the
ministry of an angel, without the ministry of St. Peter, have taught Cornelius
in the Acts; but, nevertheless, he refers him to Peter, of whom the angel
speaking says, "He shall tell you what you ought to do."
illuminates inwardly by giving men the Holy Spirit, the same one, by way of
commandment, said unto his disciples, "Go into all the world, and preach the
gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). And so in Phillippi, Paul preached
the word outwardly to Lydia, a seller of purple goods; but the Lord inwardly
opened the woman's heart (Acts 16:14). And the same Paul, after a beautiful
development of his thought, in Romans 10:17 at length comes to the conclusion,
"So faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God by the preaching
of Christ."
At the same time we recognize that God can illuminate whom and when he will,
Even without the external ministry, for that is in his power; but we speak of
the usual way of instructing men, delivered unto us from God, both by
commandment and examples.
HERESIES. We therefore detest all the heresies of Artemon, the Manichaeans, the
Valentinians, of Cerdon, and the Marcionites, who deny that the Scriptures
proceeded from the Holy Spirit; or did not accept some parts of them, or
interpolated and corrupted them.
APOCRYPHA. And yet we do not conceal the fact that certain books of the Old
Testament were by the ancient authors called apocryphal, and by the others
ecclesiastical; in as much as some would have them read in the churches, but not
advanced as an authority from which the faith is to be established. As Augustine
also, in his De Civitate Dei, book 18, ch. 38, remarks that "In the books of the
Kings, the names and books of certain prophets are cited"; but he adds that
"They are not in the canon"; and that "those books which we have suffice unto

CHAPTER 2 - Of Interpreting The Holy Scripture; and of Fathers, Councils, and Traditions

THE TRUE INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE. The apostle peter has said that the Holy
Scriptures are not of private interpretation (2 Pet. 1:20), and thus we do not
allow all possible interpretations. Nor consequently do we acknowledge as the
true or genuine interpretation of the Scriptures what is called the conception
of the Roman Church, that is, what the defenders of the Roman Church plainly
maintain should be thrust upon all for acceptance. But we hold that the
interpretation of the Scripture to be orthodox and genuine which is gleaned from
the Scriptures themselves (from the nature of the language in which they were
written, likewise according to the circumstances in which they were set down,
and expounded in the light of and unlike passages and of many and clearer
passages) and which agree with the rule of faith and love, and contributes much
to the glory of God and man's salvation.
INTERPRETATIONS OF THE HOLY FATHERS. Wherefore we do not despise the
interpretations of the holy Greek and Latin fathers, nor reject their
disputations and treatises concerning sacred matters as far as they agree with
the Scriptures; but we modestly dissent from them when they are found to set
down things differing from, or altogether contrary to, the Scriptures. Neither
do we think that we do them any wrong in this matter; seeing that they all, with
one consent, will not have their writings equated with the canonical Scriptures,
but command us to prove how far they agree or disagree with them, and to accept
what is in agreement and to reject what is in disagreement.
COUNCILS. And in the same order also we place the decrees and canons of
Wherefore we do not permit ourselves, in controversies about religion or matters
of faith, to urge our case with only the opinions of the fathers or decrees of
councils; much less by received customs, or by the large number of those who
share the same opinion, or by the prescription of a long time. Who Is The Judge?
Therefore, we do not admit any other judge than God himself, who proclaims by
the Holy Scriptures what is true, what is false, what is to be followed, or what
to be avoided. So we do assent to the judgments of spiritual men which are drawn
from the Word of God. Certainly Jeremiah and other prophets vehemently condemned
the assemblies of priests which were set up against the law of God; and
diligently admonished us that we should not listen to the fathers, or tread in
their path who, walking in their own inventions, swerved from the law of God.
TRADITIONS OF MEN. Likewise we reject human traditions, even if they be adorned
with high-sounding titles, as though they were divine and apostolical, delivered
to the Church by the living voice of the apostles, and, as it were, through the
hands of apostolical men to succeeding bishops which, when compared with the
Scriptures, disagree with them; and by their disagreement show that they are not
Apostolic at all. For as the apostles did not contradict themselves in doctrine,
so the apostolic men did not set forth things contrary to the apostles. On the
contrary, it would be wicked to assert that the apostles by a living voice
delivered anything contrary to their writings. Paul affirms expressly that he
taught the same things in all churches (I Cor. 4:17). And, again, "For we write
you nothing but what you can read and understand." (II Cor. 1:13). Also, in
another place, he testifies that he and his disciples - that is, apostolic men -
walked in the same way, and jointly by the same Spirit did all things (II Cor.
12:18). Moreover, the Jews in former times had the traditions of their elders;
but these traditions were severely rejected by the Lord, indicating that the
keeping of them hinders God's law, and that God is worshipped in vain by such
traditions (Matt. 15:1 ff.; Mark 7:1 ff).

CHAPTER 3 - Of God, His Unity and Trinity

GOD IS ONE. We believe and teach that God is one in essence or nature,
subsisting in himself, all sufficient in himself, invisible, incorporeal,
immense, eternal, Creator of all things both visible and invisible, the greatest
good, living, quickening and preserving all things, omnipotent and supremely
wise, kind and merciful, just and true. Truly we detest many gods because it is
expressly written: "The Lord your God is one Lord" (Deut.6:4). "I am the Lord
your God. You shall have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:2-3). "I am the Lord,
and there is no other god besides me. Am I not the Lord, and there is no other
God beside me? A righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me" ((Isa.
45:5, 21). "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and
abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Ex. 34:6).
GOD IS THREE. Notwithstanding we believe and teach that the same immense, one
and indivisible God is in person inseparably and without confusion distinguished
as Father, Son and Holy Spirit so, as the Father has begotten the Son from
eternity, the Son is begotten by an ineffable generation, and the holy Spirit
truly proceeds from them both, and the same from eternity and is to be
worshipped with both.
Thus there are not three gods, but three persons, cosubstantial, coeternal, and
coequal; distinct with respect to hypostases, and with respect to order, the one
preceding the other yet without any inequality. For according to the nature or
essence they are so joined together that they are one God, and the divine nature
is common to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
For Scripture has delivered to us a manifest distinction of persons, the angel
saying, among other things, to the Blessed Virgin, "The Holy Spirit will come
upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the
child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). And also in
the baptism of Christ a voice is heard from heaven concerning Christ, saying,
"This is my beloved Son" (Math. 3:17). The Holy Spirit also appeared in the form
of a dove (John 1:32). And when the Lord himself commanded the apostles to
baptize, he commanded them to baptize "in the name of the Father, and the Son,
and the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). Elsewhere in the Gospel he said: "The Father
will send the Holy Spirit in my name" (John 14:26), and again he said: "When the
Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of
truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me," etc. (John
15:26). In short, we receive the Apostles' Creed because it delivers to us the
true faith.
HERESIES. Therefore we condemn the Jews and Mohammedans, and all those who
blaspheme that sacred and adorable Trinity. We also condemn all heresies and
heretics who teach that the Son and Holy Spirit are God in name only, and also
that there is something created and subservient, or subordinate to another in
the Trinity, and that their is something unequal in it, a greater or a less,
something corporeal or corporeally conceived, something different with respect
to character or will, something mixed or solitary, as if the Son and Holy Spirit
were the affections and properties of one God the Father, as the Monarchians,
Novatians, Praxeas, Patripassians, Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, Aetius,
Macedonius, Anthropomorphites, Arius, and such like, have thought.

CHAPTER 4 - Of Idols or Images of God,Christ and The Saints

IMAGES OF GOD. Since God as Spirit is in essence invisible and immense, he
cannot really be expressed by any art or image. For this reason we have no fear
pronouncing with Scripture that images of God are mere lies. Therefore we reject
not only the idols of the Gentiles, but also the images of Christians.
IMAGES OF CHRIST. Although Christ assumed human nature, yet he did not on that
account assume it in order to provide a model for carvers and painters. He
denied that he had come "to abolish the law and the prophets" (Matt. 5:17). But
images are forbidden by the law and the prophets" (Deut. 4:15; Isa. 44:9). He
denied that his bodily presence would be profitable for the Church, and promised
that he would be near us by his Spirit forever (John 16:7). Who, therefore,
would believe that a shadow or likeness of his body would contribute any benefit
to the pious? (II Cor. 5:5). Since he abides in us by his Spirit, we are
therefore the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16). But "what agreement has the temple of
God with idols?" (II Cor. 6:16).
IMAGES OF SAINTS. And since the blessed spirits and saints in heaven, while they
lived here on earth, rejected all worship of themselves (Acts 3:12 f.; 14:11
ff.; Rev. 14:7; 22:9) and condemned images, shall anyone find it likely that the
heavenly saints and angels are pleased with their own images before which men
kneel. uncover their heads, and bestow other honors?
But in fact in order to instruct men in religion and to remind them of divine
things and of their salvation, the Lord commanded the preaching of the Gospel
(Mark 16:15) - not to paint and to teach the laity by means of pictures.
Moreover, he instituted sacraments, but nowhere did he set up images.
THE SCRIPTURES OF THE LAITY. Furthermore, wherever we turn our eyes, we see the
living and true creatures of God which, if they be observed, as is proper, make
a much more vivid impression on the beholders than all images or vain,
motionless, feeble and dead pictures made by men, of which the prophet truly
said: "They have eyes, but do not see" (Ps. 115:5).
LACTANTIUS. Therefore we approved the judgment of Lactantius, and ancient
writer, who says: "Undoubtedly no religion exists where there is an image."
EPIPHANIUS AND JEROME. We also assert that the blessed bishop Epiphanius did
right when, finding on the doors of a church a veil on which was painted a
picture supposedly of Christ or some saint, he ripped it down and took it away,
because to see a picture of a man hanging in the Church of Christ was contrary
to the authority of Scripture. Wherefore he charged that from henceforth no such
veils, which were contrary to our religion, should be hung in the Church of
Christ, and that rather such questionable things, unworthy of the Church of
Christ and the faithful people, should be removed. Moreover, we approve of this
opinion of St. Augustine concerning true religion: "Let not the worship of the
works of men be a religion for us. For the artists themselves who make such
things are better; yet we ought not to worship them" (De Vera Religione, cap.

CHAPTER 5 - Of The Adoration, Worship and Invocation of God Through The Only Mediator Jesus Christ

GOD ALONE IS TO BE ADORED AND WORSHIPPED. We teach that the true God alone is to
be adored and worshipped. This honor we impart to none other, according to the
commandment of the Lord, "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall
you serve" (Math. 4:10). Indeed, all the prophets severely inveighed against the
people of Israel whenever they adored and worshipped strange gods, and not the
only true God. But we teach that God is to be adored and worshipped as he
himself has taught us to worship, namely, "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23
f.), not with any superstition, but with sincerity, according to his Word; lest
at anytime he should say to us: "Who has required these things from your hands?"
(Isa. 1:12; Jer. 6:20). For Paul also says: "God is not served by human hands,
as though he needed anything," etc. (Acts 17:25).
and trials of our life we call upon him alone, and that by the mediation of our
only mediator and intercessor, Jesus Christ. For we have been explicitly
commanded: "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you
shall glorify me" (Ps. 1:15). Moreover, we have a most generous promise from the
Lord Who said: "If you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you" (John
16:23), and: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you
rest: (Matt 11:28). And since it is written: "How are men to call upon him in
whom they have not believed?" (Rom. 10:14), and since we do believe in God
alone, we assuredly call upon him alone, and we do so through Christ. For as the
apostle says, "There is one God and there is one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus? (I Tim. 2:5), and, "If any one does sin, we have an
advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," etc. (I John 2:1).
not adore, worship, or pray to the saints in heaven, or to other gods, and we do
not acknowledge them as our intercessors or mediators before the Father in
heaven. For God and Christ the Mediator are sufficient for us; neither do we
give to others the honor that is due to God alone and to his Son, because he has
expressly said: "My glory I give to no other: (Isa. 42:8), and because Peter has
said: "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be
saved," except the name of Christ (Acts 4:12). In him, those who give their
assent by faith do not seek anything outside Christ.
THE DUE HONOR TO BE RENDERED TO THE SAINTS. At the same time we do not despise
the saints or think basely of them. For we acknowledge them to be living members
of Christ and friends of God who have gloriously overcome the flesh and the
world. Hence we love them as brothers, and also honor them; yet not with any
kind of worship but by an honorable opinion of them and just praises of them. We
also imitate them. For with ardent longings and supplications we earnestly
desire to be imitators of their faith and virtues, to share eternal salvation
with them, to dwell eternally with them in the presence of God, and to rejoice
with them in Christ. And in this respect we approve of the opinion of St.
Augustine in De Vera Religione: "Let not our religion be the cult of men who
have died. For if they have lived holy lives, they are not to be thought of as
seeking such honors; on the contrary, they want us to worship him by whose
illumination they rejoice that we are fellow-servants of his merits. They are
therefore to be honored by the way of imitation, but not to be adored in a
religious manner," etc.
RELICS OF THE SAINTS. Much less do we believe that the relics of the saints are
to be adored and reverenced. Those ancient saints seemed to have sufficiently
honored their dead when they decently committed their remains to the earth after
the spirit had ascended on high. And they thought that the most noble relics of
their ancestors were their virtues, their doctrine, and their faith. Moreover,
as they commend these "relics" when praising the dead, so they strive to copy
them during their life on earth.
SWEARING BY GOD'S NAME ALONE. These ancient men did not swear except by the name
of the only God, Yahweh, as prescribed by the divine law. Therefore, as it is
forbidden to swear by the names of strange gods (Ex. 23:;13; Deut. 10:20), so we
do not perform oaths to the saints that are demanded of us. We therefore reject
in all these matters a doctrine that ascribes much too much to the saints in

CHAPTER 6 - Of the Providence of God

heaven and on earth, and in all creatures, are preserved and governed by the
providence of this wise, eternal and almighty God. For David testifies and says:
"The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! Who is
like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down upon the
heavens and the earth?" (Ps. 113:4 ff.). Again: "Thou searchest out...all my
ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it
altogether" (Ps. 139:3 f.). Paul also testifies and declares: "In him we live
and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28), and "from him and through him and to
him are all things" (Rom. 11:36). Therefore Augustine most truly and according
to Scripture declared in his book De Agone Christi, cap. 8, "The Lord said, 'Are
not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground
without your Father's will' " (Matt. 10:29). By speaking thus he wanted to show
that what men regard as of least value is governed by God's omnipotence. For he
who is the truth says that the birds of the air are fed by him and lilies of the
field are clothed by him; he also says that the hairs of our head are numbered
(Matt. 6:26 ff.).
THE EPICUREANS. We therefore condemn the Epicureans who deny the providence of
God, and all those who blasphemously say that God is busy with the heavens and
neither sees nor cares about us and our affairs. David, the royal prophet, also
condemned this when he said: "O Lord, how long shall the wicked exult? They say,
"The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive." Understand, O
dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear,
does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?" (Ps. 94:3, 7-9).
MEANS NOT TO BE DESPISED. Nevertheless, we do not spurn as useless the means by
which divine providence works, but we teach that we are to adapt ourselves to
them in so far as they are recommended to us in the Word of God. Wherefore we
disapprove of the rash statements of those who say that if all things are
managed by the providence of God, then our efforts and endeavors are in vain. It
will be sufficient if we leave everything to the governance of divine
providence, and we will not have to worry about anything or do anything. For
although Paul understood that he sailed under the providence of God who had said
to him: "You must bear witness also at Rome" (Acts 23:11), and in addition had
given him the promise, "There will be no loss of life among you...and not a hair
is to perish from the head of any of you" (Acts 27:22,34), yet when the sailors
were nevertheless thinking about abandoning ship the same Paul said to the
centurion and the soldiers: "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be
saved" (Acts 27:31). For God, who has appointed to everything its end, has
ordained the beginning and the means by which it reaches its goal. The heathen
ascribe things to blind fortune and uncertain chance. But St. James does not
want us to say: "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and
trade," but adds: "Instead you ought to say, `If the Lord wills, we shall live
and we shall do this or that' " (James 4:13, 15). And Augustine says:
"Everything which to vain men seems to happen in nature by accident, occurs only
by his Word, because it happens only at his command" (Enarrationes in Psalmos
148). Thus it seemed to happen by mere chance when Saul, while seeking his
father's asses, unexpectedly fell in with the prophet Samuel. But previously the
Lord had said to the prophet: "Tomorrow I will send to you a man from the land
of Benjamin" (I Sam 9:15).

CHAPTER 7 - Of The Creation of All Things: Of Angels, the Devil, and Man

GOD CREATED ALL THINGS. This good and almighty God created all things, both
visible and invisible, by his co-eternal Word, and preserves them by his
co-eternal Spirit, as David testified when he said: "By the word of the Lord the
heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6).
And, as Scripture says, everything that God had made was very good, and was made
for the profit and use of man. Now we assert that all those things proceed from
one beginning. MANICHAEANS AND MARCIONITES. Therefore, we condemn the
Manichaeans and Marcionites who impiously imagined two substances and natures,
one good and the other evil; also two beginnings and two gods contrary to each
other, a good and an evil one.
OF ANGELS AND THE DEVIL. Among all creatures, angels and men are most excellent.
Concerning angels, Holy Scripture declares: "who makest the winds thy
messengers, fire and flame thy ministers" (Ps 104:4). Also it says: "Are they
not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are
to obtain salvation?" (Heb. 1:14). Concerning the Devil, the Lord Jesus Himself
testifies: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the
truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to
his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44).
Consequently we teach that some angels persisted in obedience and were appointed
for faithful service to God and men, but others fell of their own free will and
were cast into destruction, becoming enemies of all good and of the faithful,
OF MAN. Now concerning, Scripture says that in the beginning he was made good
according to the image and likeness of God; that God placed him in paradise and
made all thing subject to him (Gen. chp 2). This is what David magnificently
sets forth in Psalm 8. Moreover, God gave him a wife and blessed them. We also
affirm that man consists of two different substances in one person: an immortal
soul which, when separate from the body, neither sleeps nor dies, and a mortal
body which will nevertheless be raised up from the dead at the last judgement,
in order that then the whole man, either in life or in death, abide forever.
THE SECTS. We condemn all who ridicule or by subtle arguments cast doubt upon
the immortality of the soul, or who say that the soul sleeps or is a part of
God. In short, we condemn all opinions of all men, however many, that depart
from what has been delivered unto us by the Holy Scriptures in the Apostolic
Church of Christ concerning creation, angels, and demons, and man.

CHAPTER 8 - Of Man's Fall, Sin and the Cause of Sin

THE FALL OF MAN. In the beginning, man was made according to the image of God,
in righteousness and true holiness, good and upright. But when at the
instigation of the serpent and by his own fault he abandoned goodness and
righteousness, he became subject to sin, death and various calamities. And what
he became by the fall, that is, subject to sin, death and various calamities, so
are all those who have descended from him.
SIN. By sin we understand that innate corruption of man which has been derived
or propagated in us all from our first parents, by which we, immersed in
perverse desires and averse to all good, are inclined to all evil. Full of all
wickedness, distrust, contempt and hatred of God, we are unable to do or even to
think anything good of ourselves. Moreover, even as we grow older, so by wicked
thoughts, words and deeds committed against God's law, we bring forth corrupt
fruit worthy of an evil tree (Matt. 12:33 ff.). For this reason by our own
deserts, being subject to the wrath of God, we are liable to just punishment, so
that all of us would have been cast away by God if Christ, the Deliverer, had
not brought us back.
DEATH. By death we understand not only bodily death, which all of us must once
suffer on account of sins, but also eternal punishment due to our sins and
corruption. For the apostle says: "We were dead through trespasses and
sins...and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God,
who is rich in mercy...even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us
alive together with Christ" (Eph. 2:1 ff.) Also: "As sin came into the world
through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because
all men sinned" (Rom. 5:12).
ORIGINAL SIN. We therefore acknowledge that there is original sin in all men.
ACTUAL SINS. We acknowledge that all other sins which arise from it are called
and truly are sins, no matter by what name they may be called, whether mortal,
venial or that which is said to be the sin against the Holy Spirit which is
never forgiven (Mark 3:29; I John 5:16). We also confess that sins are not
equal; although they arise from the same fountain of corruption and unbelief,
some are more serious than others. As the Lord said, it will be more tolerable
for Sodom than for the city that rejects the word of the Gospel (Matt. 10:14 f.;
11:20 ff.).
THE SECTS. We therefore condemn all who have taught contrary to this, especially
Pelagius and all Pelagians, together with the Jovinians who, with the Stoics,
regard all sins as equal. In this whole matter we agree with St. Augustine who
derived and defended his view from Holy Scriptures. Moreover, we condemn
Florinus and Blastus, against whom Irenaeus wrote, and all who make God the
author of sin.
written: "Thou art not a God who delights in wickedness. Thou hatest all
evildoers. Thou destroyest those who speak lies" (Ps. 5:4 ff.). And again: "When
the devil lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the
father of lies" (John 8:44). Moreover, there is enough sinfulness and corruption
in us that it is not necessary for God to infuse into us a new or still greater
perversity. When, therefore, it is said in Scripture that God hardens, blinds
and delivers up to a reprobate mind, it is to be understood that God does it by
a just judgment as a just Judge and Avenger. Finally, as often as God in
Scripture is said or seems to do something evil, it is not thereby said that man
does not do evil, but that God permits it and does not prevent it, according to
his just judgment, who could prevent it if he wished, or because he turns man's
evil into good, as he did in the case of the sin of Joseph's brethren, or
because he governs sins lest they break out and rage more than is appropriate.
St. Augustine writes in his Enchiridion: "What happens contrary to his will
occurs, in a wonderful and ineffable way, not apart from his will. For it would
not happen if he did not allow it. And yet he does not allow it unwillingly but
willingly. But he who is good would not permit evil to be done, unless, being
omnipotent, he could bring good out of evil." Thus wrote Augustine.
CURIOUS QUESTIONS. Other questions, such as whether God willed Adam to fall, or
incited him to fall, or why he did not prevent the fall, and similar questions,
we reckon among curious questions (unless perchance the wickedness of heretics
or of other churlish men compels us also to explain them out of the Word of God,
as the godly teachers of the Church have frequently done), knowing that the Lord
forbade man to eat of the forbidden fruit and punished his transgression. We
also know that what things are done are not evil with respect to the providence,
will, and the power of God, but in respect of Satan and our will opposing the
will of God.

CHAPTER 9 - Of Free Will, and Thus of Human Powers

In this matter, which has always produced many conflicts in the Church, we teach
that a threefold condition or state of man is to be considered.
WHAT MAN WAS BEFORE THE FALL. There is the state in which man was in the
beginning before the fall, namely, upright and free, so that he could both
continue in goodness and decline to evil. However, he declined to evil, and has
involved himself and the whole human race in sin and death, as has been said
WHAT MAN WAS AFTER THE FALL. Then we are to consider what man was after the
fall. To be sure, his reason was not taken from him, nor was he deprived of
will, and he was not entirely changed into a stone or a tree. But they were so
altered and weakened that they no longer can do what they could before the fall.
For the understanding is darkened, and the will which was free has become an
enslaved will. Now it serves sin, not unwillingly but willingly. And indeed, it
is called a will, not an unwill (ing). [Etenim voluntas, non noluntas dicitur.]
MAN DOES EVIL BY HIS OWN FREE WILL. Therefore, in regard to evil or sin, man is
not forced by God or by the devil but does evil by his own free will, and in
this respect he has a most free will. But when we frequently see that the worst
crimes and designs of men are prevented by God from reaching their purpose, this
does not take away man's freedom in doing evil, but God by his own power
prevents what man freely planned otherwise. Thus Joseph's brothers freely
determined to get rid of him, but they were unable to do it because something
else seemed good to the counsel of God.
MAN IS NOT CAPABLE OF GOOD Per Se. In regard to goodness and virtue man's reason
does not judge rightly of itself concerning divine things. For the evangelical
and apostolic Scripture requires regeneration of whoever among us wishes to be
saved. Hence our first birth from Adam contributes nothing to out salvation.
Paul says: "The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of
God," etc. (I Cor. 2:14). And in another place he denies that we of ourselves
are capable of thinking anything good (II Cor. 3:5) Now it is known that the
mind or intellect is the guide of the will, and when the guide is blind, it is
obvious how far the will reaches. Wherefore, man not yet regenerate has no free
will for good, no strength to perform what is good. The Lord says in the Gospel:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin" (John
8:34). And the apostle Paul says: "The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile
to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot" (Rom. 8:7). Yet in
regard to earthly things, fallen man is not entirely lacking in understanding.
UNDERSTANDING OF THE ARTS. For God in his mercy has permitted the powers of the
intellect to remain, though differing greatly from what was in man before the
fall. God commands us to cultivate our natural talents, and meanwhile adds both
gifts and success. And it is obvious that we make no progress in all the arts
without God's blessing. In any case, Scripture refers all the arts to God; and,
indeed, the heathen trace the origin of the arts to the gods who invented them.
FREE. Finally, we must see whether the regenerate have free wills, and to what
extent. In regeneration the understanding is illumined by the Holy Spirit in
order that it many understand both the mysteries and the will of God. And the
will itself is not only changed by the Spirit, but it is also equipped with
faculties so that it wills and is able to do the good of its own accord (Rom.
8:1ff.). Unless we grant this, we will deny Christian liberty and introduce a
legal bondage. But the prophet has God saying: "I will put my law within them,
and I will write it upon their hearts" (Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:26f.). The Lord
also says in the Gospel: "If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed"
(John 8:36). Paul also writes to the Philippians: "It has been granted to you
that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer
for his sake" (Phil. 1:29). Again: "I am sure that he who began a good work in
you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (v. 6). Also: "God
is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (ch. 2:13).
we teach that there are two things to be observed: First, that the regenerate,
in choosing and doing good, work not only passively but actively. For they are
moved by God that they may do themselves what they do. For Augustine rightly
adduces the saying that "God is said to be our helper. But no one can be helped
unless he does something." The Manichaeans robbed man of all activity and made
him like a stone or a block of wood.
THE FREE WILL IS WEAK IN THE REGENERATE. Secondly, in the regenerate a weakness
remains. For since sin dwells in us, and in the regenerate the flesh struggles
against the Spirit till the end of our lives, they do not easily accomplish in
all things what they had planned. These things are confirmed by the apostle in
Rom., ch. 7, and Gal., ch. 5. Therefore that free will is weak in us on account
of the remnants of the old Adam and of innate human corruption remaining in us
until the end of our lives. Meanwhile, since the powers of the flesh and the
remnants of the old man are not so efficacious that they wholly extinguish the
work of the Spirit, for that reason the faithful are said to be free, yet so
that they acknowledge their infirmity and do not glory at all in their free
will. For believers ought always to keep in mind what St. Augustine so many
times inculcated according to the apostle: "What have you that you did not
receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?" To
this he adds that what we have planned does not immediately come to pass. For
the issue of things lies in the hand of God. This is the reason Paul prayed to
the Lord to prosper his journey (Rom. 1:10). And this also is the reason the
free will is weak.
IN EXTERNAL THINGS THERE IS LIBERTY. Moreover, no one denies that in external
things both the regenerate and the unregenerate enjoy free will. For man has in
common with other living creatures (to which he is not inferior) this nature to
will some things and not to will others. Thus he is able to speak or to keep
silent, to go out of his house or to remain at home, etc. However, even here
God's power is always to be observed, for it was the cause that Balaam could not
go as far as he wanted (Num., ch. 24), and Zacharias upon returning from the
temple could not speak as he wanted (Luke, ch.1).
HERESIES. In this matter we condemn the Manichaeans who deny that the beginning
of evil was for man [created] good, from his free will. We also condemn the
Pelagians who assert that an evil man has sufficient free will to do the good
that is commanded. Both are refuted by Holy Scripture which says to the former,
"God made man upright" and to the latter, "If the Son makes you free, you will
be free indeed" (John 8:36).

CHAPTER 10 - Of the Predestination of God and the Election of the Saints

GOD HAS ELECTED US OUT OF GRACE. From eternity God has freely, and of his mere
grace, without any respect to men, predestinated or elected the saints whom he
wills to save in Christ, according to the saying of the apostle, "God chose us
in him before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). And again: "Who saved us
and called an with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of
his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago, and now
has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus" (II Tim. 1:9
WE ARE ELECTED OR PREDESTINATED IN CHRIST. Therefore, although not on account of
any merit of ours, God has elected us, not directly, but in Christ, and on
account of Christ, in order that those who are now engrafted into Christ by
faith might also be elected. But those who were outside Christ were rejected,
according to the word of the apostle, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you
are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ
is in you? -- unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" (II Cor. 13:5).
WE ARE ELECTED FOR A DEFINITE PURPOSE. Finally, the saints are chosen in Christ
by God for a definite purpose, which the apostle himself explains when he says,
"He chose us in him for adoption that we should be holy and blameless before him
in love. He destined us for adoption to be his sons through Jesus Christ that
they should be to the praise of the glory of his grace" (Eph. 1:4 ff.).
WE ARE TO HAVE A GOOD HOPE FOR ALL. And although God knows who are his, and here
and there mention is made of the small number of elect, yet we must hope well of
all, and not rashly judge any man to be a reprobate. For Paul says to the
Philippians, "I thank my God for you all" (now he speaks of the whole Church in
Phillippi), "because of your fellowship in the Gospel, being persuaded that he
who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus
Christ. It is also right that I have this opinion of you all" (Phil. 1:3 ff.).
WHETHER FEW ARE ELECT. And when the Lord was asked whether there were few that
should be saved, he does not answer and tell them that few or many should be
saved or damned, but rather he exhorts every man to "strive to enter by the
narrow door" (Luke 13:24): as if he should say, It is not for you curiously to
inquire about these matters, but rather to endeavor that you may enter into
heaven by the straight way.
WHAT IN THIS MATTER IS TO BE CONDEMNED. Therefore we do not approve of the
impious speeches of some who say, "Few are chosen, and since I do not know
whether I am among the number of the few, I will enjoy myself." Others say, "If
I am predestinated and elected by God, nothing can hinder me from salvation,
which is already certainly appointed for me, no matter what I do. But if I am in
the number of the reprobate, no faith or repentance will help me, since the
decree of God cannot be changed. Therefore all doctrines and admonitions are
useless." Now the saying of the apostle contradicts these men: "The Lord's
servant must be ready to teach, instructing those who oppose him, so that if God
should grant that they repent to know the truth, they may recover from the snare
of the devil, after being held captive by him to do his will" (II Tim. 2:23
also shows that both the grace of free election and the predestination, and also
salutary admonitions and doctrines, are to be preached (Lib. de Dono
Perseverantiae, cap. 14 ff.).
WHETHER WE ARE ELECTED. We therefore find fault with those who outside of Christ
ask whether they are elected. [Ed. 1568 reads: "whether they are elected from
eternity?"] And what has God decreed concerning them before all eternity? For
the preaching of the Gospel is to be heard, and it is to be believed; and it is
to be held as beyond doubt that if you believe and are in Christ, you are
elected. For the Father has revealed unto us in Christ the eternal purpose of
his predestination, as I have just now shown from the apostle in II Tim. 1:9-10.
This is therefore above all to be taught and considered, what great love of the
Father toward us is revealed to us in Christ. We must hear what the Lord himself
daily preaches to us in the Gospel, how he calls and says: "Come to me all who
labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). "God so
loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should
not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Also, "It is not the will of my
Father that one of these little ones should perish" (Matt. 18:14).
Let Christ, therefore be the looking glass, in whom we may contemplate our
predestination. We shall have a sufficiently clear and sure testimony that we
are inscribed in the Book of Life if we have fellowship with Christ, and he is
ours and we are his in true faith.
TEMPTATION IN REGARD TO PREDESTINATION. In the temptation in regard to
predestination, than which there is scarcely any other more dangerous, we are
confronted by the fact that God's promises apply to all the faithful, for he
says: "Ask, and everyone who seeks, shall receive" (Luke 11:9 f.) This finally
we pray, with the whole Church of God, "Our Father who art in heaven" (Matt.
6:9), both because by baptism we are ingrafted into the body of Christ, and we
are often fed in his Church with his flesh and blood unto life eternal. Thereby,
being strengthened, we are commanded to work out our salvation with fear
trembling, according to the precept of Paul.

CHAPTER 11 - Of Jesus Christ, True God and Man, the Only Savior of the World

CHRIST IS TRUE GOD. We further believe and teach that the Son of God, our Lord
Jesus Christ, was predestinated or foreordained from eternity by the Father to
be the Savior of the world. And we believe that he was born, not only when he
assumed flesh of the Virgin Mary, and not only before the foundation of the
world was laid, but by the Father before all eternity in an inexpressible
manner. For Isaiah said: "Who can tell his generation?" (Ch. 53:8). And Micah
says: "His origin is from of old, from ancient days" (Micah 5:2). And John said
in the Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and
the Word was God," etc. (Ch. 1:1). Therefore, with respect to his divinity the
Son is coequal and consubstantial with the Father; true God (Phil. 2:11), not
only in name or by adoption or by any merit, but in substance and nature, as the
apostle John has often said: "This is the true God and eternal life" (I John
5:20). Paul also says: "He appointed the Son the heir of all things, through
whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very
stamp of his nature, upholding all things by his word of power" (Heb. 1:2 f.).
For in the Gospel the Lord himself said: "Father, glorify Thou me in Thy own
presence with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was made" (John
17:5). And in another place in the Gospel it is written: "The Jews sought all
the more to kill him because he...called God his Father, making himself equal
with God" (John 5:18).
THE SECTS. We therefore abhor the impious doctrine of Arius and the Arians
against the Son of God, and especially the blasphemies of the Spaniard, Michael
Servetus, and all his followers, which Satan through them has, as it were,
dragged up out of hell and has most audaciously and impiously spread abroad in
the world.
CHRIST IS TRUE MAN, HAVING REAL FLESH. We also believe and teach that the
eternal Son of the eternal God was made the Son of man, from the seed of Abraham
and David, not from the coitus of a man, as the Ebionites said, but was most
chastely conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the ever virgin Mary, as the
evangelical history carefully explains to us (Matt., ch. 1). And Paul says: "he
took not on him the nature of angels, but of the seed of Abraham." Also the
apostle John says that woever does not believe that Jesus Christ has come in the
flesh, is not of God. Therefore, the flesh of Christ was neither imaginary not
brought from heaven, as Valentinus and Marcion wrongly imagined.
A RATIONAL SOUL IN CHRIST. Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ did not have a soul
bereft of sense and reason, as Apollinaris thought, nor flesh without a soul, as
Eunomius taught, but a soul with its reason, and flesh with its senses, by which
in the time of his passion he sustained real bodily pain, as himself testified
when he said: "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death" (Matt. 26:38). And,
"Now is my soul troubled" (John 12:27).
TWO NATURES IN CHRIST. We therefore acknowledge two natures or substances, the
divine and the human, in one and the same Jesus Christ our Lord (Heb., ch. 2).
And we say that these are bound and united with one another in such a way that
they are not absorbed, or confused, or mixed, but are united or joined together
in one person the properties of the natures being unimpaired and permanent.
NOT TWO BUT ONE CHRIST. Thus we worship not two but one Christ the Lord. We
repeat: one true God and man. With respect to his divine nature he is
consubstantial with the Father, and with respect to the human nature he is
consubstantial with us men, and like us in all things, sin excepted (Heb. 4:15).
THE SECTS. And indeed we detest the dogma of the Nestorians who make two of one
Christ and dissolve the unity of the Person. Likewise we thoroughly execrate the
madness of Eutyches and of the Monothelites or Monophysites who destroy the
property of the human nature.
EVERYWHERE. Therefore, we do not in any way teach that the divine nature in
Christ has suffered or that Christ according to his human nature is still in
this world and thus is everywhere. For neither do we think or teach that the
body of Christ ceased to be a true body after his glorification, or was deified,
and deified in such a way that it laid aside its properties as regards body and
soul, and changed entirely into a divine nature and began to be merely one
THE SECTS. Hence we by no means approve of or accept the strained, confused and
obscure subtleties of Schwenkfeldt and of similar sophists with their
self-contradictory arguments; neither are we Schwenkfeldians.
OUR LORD TRULY SUFFERED. We believe, moreover, that our Lord Jesus Christ truly
suffered and died for us in the flesh, as Peter says (I Peter 4:1). We abhor the
most impious madness of the Jacobites and all the Turks who execrate the
suffering of the Lord. At the same time we do not deny that the Lord of glory
was crucified for us, according to Paul's words (I Cor. 2:8).
IMPARTATION OF PROPERTIES. We piously and reverently accept and use the
impartation of properties which is derived from Scripture and which has been
used by all antiquity in explaining and reconciling apparently contradictory
CHRIST IS TRULY RISEN FROM THE DEAD. We believe and teach that the same Jesus
Christ our Lord, in his true flesh in which he was crucified and died, rose
again from the dead, and that not another flesh was raised other than the one
buried, or that a spirit was taken up instead of the flesh, but that he retained
his true body. Therefore, while his disciples thought they saw the spirit of the
Lord, he showed them his hands and feet which were marked by the prints of the
nails and wounds, and added: "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself;
handle me, and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have"
(Luke 24:39).
CHRIST IS TRULY ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN. We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ, in
his same flesh, ascended above all visible heavens into the highest heaven, that
is, the dwelling-place of God and the blessed ones, at the right hand of God the
Father. Although it signifies an equal participation in glory and majesty, it is
also taken to be a certain place about which the Lord, speaking in the Gospel,
says: "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). The apostle Peter also
says: "Heaven must receive Christ until the time of restoring all things" (Acts
3:21). And from heaven the same Christ will return in judgment, when wickedness
will then be at its greatest in the world and when the Antichrist, having
corrupted true religion, will fill up all things with superstition and impiety
and will cruelly lay waste the Church with bloodshed and flames (Dan., ch. 11).
But Christ will come again to claim his own, and by his coming to destroy the
Antichrist, and to judge the living and the dead (Acts 17:31). For the dead will
rise again (I Thess. 4:14 ff.), and those who on that day (which is unknown to
all creatures [Mark 13:32]) will be alive will be changed "in the twinkling of
an eye," and all the faithful will be caught up to meet Christ in the air, so
that then they may enter with him into the blessed dwelling-places to live
forever (I Cor. 15:51 f.). But the unbelievers and ungodly will descend with the
devils into hell to burn forever and never to be redeemed from torments (Matt.
THE SECTS. We therefore condemn all who deny a real resurrection of the flesh
(II Tim. 2:18), or who with John of Jerusalem, against whom Jerome wrote, do not
have a correct view of the glorification of bodies. We also condemn those who
thought that the devil and all the ungodly would at some time be saved, and that
there would be an end to punishments. For the Lord has plainly declared: "Their
fire is not quenched, and their worm does not die" (Mark 9:44). We further
condemn Jewish dreams that there will be a golden age on earth before the Day of
Judgment, and that the pious, having subdued all their godless enemies, will
possess all the kingdoms of the earth. For evangelical truth in Matt., chs. 24
and 25, and Luke, ch. 18, and apostolic teaching in II Thess., ch. 2, and II
Tim., chs. 3 and 4, present something quite different.
THE FRUIT OF CHRIST'S DEATH AND RESURRECTION. Further by his passion and death
and everything which he did and endured for our sake by his coming in the flesh,
our Lord reconciled all the faithful to the heavenly Father, made expiation for
sins, disarmed death, overcame damnation and hell, and by his resurrection from
the dead brought again and restored life and immortality. For he is our
righteousness, life and resurrection, in a word, the fulness and perfection of
all the faithful, salvation and all sufficiency. For the apostle says: "In him
all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell," and, "You have come to fulness of
life in him" (Col., chs. 1 and 2).
we teach and believe that this Jesus Christ our Lord is the unique and eternal
Savior of the human race, and thus of the whole world, in whom by faith are
saved all who before the law, under the law, and under the Gospel were saved,
and however many will be saved at the end of the world. For the Lord himself
says in the Gospel: "He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs
in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber....I am the door of the
sheep" (John 10:1 and 7). And also in another place in the same Gospel he says:
"Abraham saw my day and was glad" (ch. 7:56). The apostle Peter also says:
"There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven
given among men by which we must be saved." We therefore believe that we will be
saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, as our fathers were (Acts
4:12; 10:43; 15:11). For Paul also says: "All our fathers ate the same spiritual
food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual
Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ" (I Cor. 10:3 f.). And thus we
read that John says: "Christ was the Lamb which was slain from the foundation of
the world" (Rev. 14:8), and John the Baptist testified that Christ is that "Lamb
of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Wherefore, we quite
openly profess and preach that Jesus Christ is the sole Redeemer and Savior of
the world, the King and High Priest, the true and awaited Messiah, that holy and
blessed one whom all the types of the law and predictions of the prophets
prefigured and promised; and that God appointed him beforehand and sent him to
us, so that we are not now to look for any other. Now there only remains for all
of us to give all glory to Christ, believe in him, rest in him alone, despising
and rejecting all other aids in life. For however many seek salvation in any
other than in Christ alone, have fallen from the grace of God and have rendered
Christ null and void for themselves (Gal. 5:4).
THE CREEDS OF FOUR COUNCILS RECEIVED. And, to say many things with a few words,
with a sincere heart we believe, and freely confess with open mouth, whatever
things are defined from the Holy Scriptures concerning the mystery of the
incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and are summed up in the Creeds and
decrees of the first four most excellent synods convened at Nicaea,
Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon -- together with the Creed of blessed
Athanasius [The so-called Athanasian Creed was not written by Athanasius but
dates from the ninth century. It is also called the "Quicunque" from the opening
word of the Latin text.], and all similar symbols; and we condemn everything
contrary to these.
THE SECTS. And in this way we retain the Christian, orthodox and catholic faith
whole and unimpaired; knowing that nothing is contained in the aforesaid symbols
which is not agreeable to the Word of God, and does not altogether make for a
sincere exposition of the faith.

CHAPTER 12 - Of the Law of God

God is explained for us in the law of God, what he wills or does not will us to
do, what is good and just, or what is evil and unjust. Therefore, we confess
that the law is good and holy.
THE LAW OF NATURE. And this law was at one time written in the hearts of men by
the finger of God (Rom. 2:15), and is called the law of nature (the law of Moses
is in two Tables), and at another it was inscribed by his finger on the two
Tables of Moses, and eloquently expounded in the books of Moses (Ex. 20:1 ff.;
Deut. 5:6 ff.). For the sake of clarity we distinguish the moral law which is
contained in the Decalogue or two Tables and expounded in the books of Moses,
the ceremonial law which determines the ceremonies and worship of God, and the
judicial law which is concerned with political and domestic matters.
THE LAW IS COMPLETE AND PERFECT. We believe that the whole will of God and all
necessary precepts for every sphere of life are taught in this law. For
otherwise the Lord would not have forbidden us to add or to take away anything
from this law; neither would he have commanded us to walk in a straight path
before this law, and not to turn aside from it by turning to the right or to the
left (Deut. 4:2; 12:32).
WHY THE LAW WAS GIVEN. We teach that this law was not given to men that they
might be justified by keeping it, but that rather from what it teaches we may
know (our) weakness, sin and condemnation, and, despairing of our strength,
might be converted to Christ in faith. For the apostle openly declares: "The law
brings wrath," and, "Through the law comes knowledge of sin" (Rom. 4:15; 3:20),
and, "If a law had been given which could justify or make alive, then
righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture (that is, the law)
has concluded all under sin, that the promise which was of the faith of Jesus
might be given to those who believe....Therefore, the law was our schoolmaster
unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Gal.3:21 ff.).
THE FLESH DOES NOT FULFIL THE LAW. For no flesh could or can satisfy the law of
God and fulfil it, because of the weakness in our flesh which adheres and
remains in us until our last breath. For the apostle says again: "God has done
what the law, weakened bythe flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the
likeness of sinful flesh and for sin" (Rom. 8:3). Therefore, Christ is the
perfecting of the law and our fulfilment of it (Rom. 10:4), who, in order to
take away the curse of the law, was make a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). Thus he
imparts to us through faith his fulfilment of the law, and his righteousness and
obedience are imputed to us.
HOW FAR THE LAW IS ABROGATED. The law of God is therefore abrogated to the
extent that it no longer condemns us, nor works wrath in us. For we are under
grace and not under the law. Moreover, Christ has fulfilled all the figures of
the law. Hence, with the coming of the body, the shadows ceased, so that in
Christ we now have the truth and all fulness. But yet we do not on that account
contemptuously reject the law. For we remember the words of the Lord when he
said: "I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfil them"
(Matt. 5:17). We know that in the law is delivered to us the patterns of virtues
and vices. We know that the written law when explained by the Gospel is useful
to the Church, and that therefore its reading is not to be banished from the
Church. For although Moses' face was covered with a veil, yet the apostle says
that the veil has been taken away and abolished by Christ.
THE SECTS. We condemn everything that heretics old and new have taught against
the law.

CHAPTER 13 - Of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the Promises, and of the Spirit and Letter

THE ANCIENTS HAD EVANGELICAL PROMISES. The Gospel is, indeed, opposed to the
law. For the law works wrath and announces a curse, whereas the Gospel preaches
grace and blessing. John says: "For the law was given through Moses; grace and
truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). Yet notwithstanding it is most
certain that those who were before the law and under the law, were not
altogether destitute of the Gospel. For they had extraordinary evangelical
promises such as these are: "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's
head" (Gen. 3:15). "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed"
(Gen. 22:18). "The scepter shall not depart from Judah...until he comes" (Gen.
49:10). "The Lord will raise up a prophet from among his own brethren" (Deut.
18:15; Acts 3:22), etc.
THE PROMISES TWOFOLD. And we acknowledge that two kinds of promises were
revealed to the fathers, as also to us. For some were of present or earthly
things, such as the promises of the Land of Canaan and of victories, and as the
promise today still of daily bread. Others were then and are still now of
heavenly and eternal things, namely, divine grace, remission of sins, and
eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
ancients had not only external and earthly but also spiritual and heavenly
promises in Christ. Peter says: "The prophets who prophesied of the grace that
was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation" (I Peter 1:10).
Wherefore the apostle Paul also said: "The Gospel of God was promised beforehand
through his prophets in the holy scriptures" (Rom. 1:2). Thereby it is clear
that the ancients were not entirely destitute of the whole Gospel.
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL PROPERLY SPEAKING? And although our fathers had the Gospel in
this way in the writings of the prophets by which they attained salvation in
Christ through faith, yet the Gospel is properly called glad and joyous news, in
which, first by John the Baptist, then by Christ the Lord himself, and
afterwards by the apostles and their successors, is preached to us in the world
that God has now performed what he promised from the beginning of the world, and
has sent, nay more, has given us his only Son and in him reconciliation with the
Father, the remission of sins, all fulness and everlasting life. Therefore, the
history delineated by the four Evangelists and explaining how these things were
done or fulfilled by Christ, what things Christ taught and did, and that those
who believe in him have all fulness, is rightly called the Gospel. The preaching
and writings of the apostles, in which the apostles explain for us how the Son
was given to us by the Father, and in him everything that has to do with life
and salvation, is also rightly called evangelical doctrine, so that not even
today, if sincerely preached, does it lose its illustrious title.
OF THE SPIRIT AND THE LETTER. That same preaching of the Gospel is also called
by the apostle "the spirit" and "the ministry of the spirit" because by faith it
becomes effectual and living in the ears, nay more, in the hearts of believers
through the illumination of the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 3:6). For the letter, which
is opposed to the Spirit, signifies everything external, but especially the
doctrine of the law which, without the Spirit and faith, works wrath and
provokes sin in the minds of those who do not have a living faith. For this
reason the apostle calls it "the ministry of death." In this connection the
saying of the apostle is pertinent: "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives
life." And false apostles preached a corrupted Gospel, having combined it with
the law, as if Christ could not save without the law.
THE SECTS. Such were the Ebionites said to be, who were descended from Ebion the
heretic, and the Nazarites who were formerly called Mineans. All these we
condemn, while preaching the pure Gospel and teaching that believers are
justified by the Spirit [The original manuscript has "Christ" instead of
"Spirit".] alone, and not by the law. A more detailed exposition of this matter
will follow presently under the heading of justification.
the teaching of the Gospel, compared with the teaching of the Pharisees
concerning the law, seemed to be a new doctrine when first preached by Christ
(which Jeremiah also prophesied concerning the New Teatament), yet actually it
not only was and still is an old doctrine (even if today it is called new by the
Papists when compared with the teaching now received among them), but is the
most ancient of all in the world. For God predestinated from eternity to save
the world through Christ, and he has disclosed to the world through the Gospel
this his predestination and eternal counsel (II Tim. 2:9 f.). Hence it is
evident that the religion and teaching of the Gospel among all who ever were,
are and will be, is the most ancient of all. Wherefore we assert that all who
say that the religion and teaching of the Gospel is a faith which has recently
arisen, being scarcely thirty years old, err disgracefully and speak shamefully
of the eternal counsel of God. To them applies the saying of Isaiah the prophet:
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and
light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (Isa. 5:20).

CHAPTER 14 - Of Repentance and the Conversion of Man

The doctrine of repentance is joined with the Gospel. For so has the Lord said
in the Gospel: "Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in my name
to all nations" (Luke 24:47).
WHAT IS REPENTANCE? By repentance we understand (1) the recovery of a right mind
in sinful man awakened by the Word of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit, and
received by true faith, by which the sinner immediately acknowledges his innate
corruption and all his sins accused by the Word of God; and (2) grieves for them
from his heart, and not only bewails and frankly confesses them before God with
a feeling of shame, but also (3) with indignation abominates them; and (4) now
zealously considers the amendment of his ways and constantly strives for
innocence and virtue in which conscientiously to exercise himself all the rest
of his life.
TRUE REPENTANCE IS CONVERSION TO GOD. And this is true repentance, namely, a
sincere turning to God and all good, and earnest turning away from the devil and
all evil.
1. REPENTANCE IS A GIFT OF GOD. Now we expressly say that this repentance is a
sheer gift of God and not a work of our strength. For the apostle commands a
faithful minister diligently to instruct those who oppose the truth, if "God may
perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth" (II Tim. 2:25).
2. LAMENTS SINS COMMITTED. Now that sinful woman who washed the feet of the Lord
with her tears, and Peter who wept bitterly and bewailed his denial of the Lord
(Luke 7:38; 22:62) show clearly how the mind of a penitent man ought to be
seriously lamenting the sins he has committed.
3. CONFESSES SINS TO GOD. Moreover, the prodigal son and the publican in the
Gospel, when compared with the Pharisee, present us with the most suitable
pattern of how our sins are to be confessed to God. The former said: "Father, I
have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called
your son; treat me as one of your hired servants" (Luke 15:8 ff.). And the
latter, not daring to raise his eyes to heaven, beat his breast, saying, "God be
merciful to me a sinner" (ch. 18:13). And we do not doubt that they were
accepted by God into grace. For the apostle John says: "If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all
unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word
is not in us" (I John 1:9 f.).
SACERDOTAL CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION. But we believe that this sincere
confession which is made to God alone, either privately between God and the
sinner, or publicly in the Church where the general confession of sins is said,
is sufficient, and that in order to obtain forgiveness of sins it is not
necessary for anyone to confess his sins to a priest, mumuring them in his ears,
that in turn he might receive absolution from the priest with his laying on of
hands, because there is neither a commandment nor an example of this in Holy
Scriptures. David testifies and says: "I acknowledged my sin to thee, and did
not hide my iniquity; I said, `I will confess my transgressions to the Lord';
then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin" (Ps. 32:5). And the Lord who taught
us to pray and at the same time to confess our sins said: "Pray then like this:
Our Father, who art in heaven,...forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our
debtors" (Matt. 6:12). Therefore it is necessary that we confess our sins to God
our Father, and be reconciled with our neighbor if we have offended him.
Concerning this kind of confession, the Apostle James says: "Confess your sins
to one another" (James 5:16). If, however, anyone is overwhelmed by the burden
of his sins and by perplexing temptations, and will seek counsel, instruction
and comfort privately, either from a minister of the Church, or from any other
brother who is instructed in God's law, we do not disapprove; just as we also
fully approve of that general and public confession of sins which is usually
said in Church and in meetings for worship, as we noted above, inasmuch as it is
agreeable to Scripture.
OF THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Concerning the keys of the Kingdom of
Heaven which the Lord gave to the apostles, many babble many astonishing things,
and out of them forge swords, spears, scepters and crowns, and complete power
over the greatest kingdoms, indeed, over souls and bodies. Judging simply
according to the Word of the Lord, we say that all properly called ministers
possess and exercise the keys or the use of them when they proclaim the Gospel;
that is, when they teach, exhort, comfort, rebuke, and keep in discipline the
people committed to their trust.
OPENING AND SHUTTING (THE KINGDOM). For in this way they open the Kingdom of
Heaven to the obedient and shut it to the disobedient. The Lord promised these
keys to the apostles in Matt., ch. 16, and gave them in John, ch. 20, Mark, ch.
16, and Luke, ch. 24, when he sent out his disciples and commanded them to
preach the Gospel in all the world, and to remit sins.
THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION. In the letter to the Corinthians the apostle
says that the Lord gave the ministry of reconciliation to his ministers (II Cor.
5:18 ff.). And what this is he then explains, saying that it is the preaching or
teaching of reconciliation. And explaining his words still more clearly he adds
that Christ's ministers discharge the office of an ambassador in Christ's name,
as if God himself through ministers exhorted the people to be reconciled to God,
doubtless by faithful obedience. Therefore, they excercise the keys when they
persuade [men] to believe and repent. Thus they reconcile men to God.
MINISTERS REMIT SINS. Thus they remit sins. Thus they open the Kingdom of
Heaven, and bring believers into it: very different from those of whom the Lord
said in the Gospel, "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of
knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were
HOW MINISTERS ABSOLVE. Ministers, therefore, rightly and effectually absolve
when they preach the Gospel of Christ and thereby the remission of sins, which
is promised to each one who believes, just as each one is baptized, and when
they testify that it pertains to each one peculiarly. Neither do we think that
this absolution becomes more effectual by being murmured in the ear of someone
or by being murmured singly over someone's head. We are nevertheless of the
opinion that the remission of sins in the blood of Christ is to be diligently
proclaimed, and that each one is to be admonished that the forgiveness of sins
pertains to him.
DILIGENCE IN THE RENEWAL OF LIFE. But the examples in the Gospel teach us how
vigilant and diligent the penitent ought to be in striving for newness of life
and in mortifying the old man and quickening the new. For the Lord said to the
man he healed of palsy: "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse
befall you" (John 5:14). Likewise to the adulteress whom he set free he said:
"Go, and sin no more" (ch. 8:11). To be sure, by these words he did not mean
that any man, as long as he lived in the flesh, could not sin; he simply
recommends diligence and a careful devotion, so that we should strive by all
means, and beseech God in prayers lest we fall back into sins from which, as it
were, we have been resurrected, and lest we be overcome by the flesh, the world
and the devil. Zacchaeus the publican, whom the Lord had received back into
favor, exclaims in the Gospel: "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the
poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold" (Luke
19:8). Therefore, in the same way we preach that restitution and compassion, and
even almsgiving, are necessary for those who truly repent, and we exhort all men
everywhere in the words of the apostle: "Let not sin therefore reign in your
mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin
as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been
brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of
righteousness" (Rom. 6:12 f.).
ERRORS. Wherefore we condemn all impious utterances of some who wrongly use the
preaching of the Gospel and say that it is easy to return to God. Christ has
atoned for all sins. Forgiveness of sins is easy. Therefore, what harm is there
in sinning? Nor need we be greatly concerned about repentance, etc.
Notwithstanding we always teach that an access to God is open to all sinners,
and that he forgives all sinners of all sins except the one sin against the Holy
Spirit (Mark 3:29).
THE SECTS. Wherefore we condemn both old and new Novatians and Catharists.
PAPAL INDULGENCES. We especially condemn the lucrative doctrine of the Pope
concerning penance, and against his simony and his simoniacal indulgences we
avail ourselves of Peter's judgment concerning Simon: "Your silver perish with
you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have
neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God"
(Acts 8:20 f.).
SATISFACTIONS. We also disapprove of those who think that by their own
satisfactions they make amends for sins committed. For we teach that Christ
alone by his death or passion is the satisfaction, propitiation or expiation of
all sins (Isa., ch.53; I Cor. 1:30). Yet as we have already said, we do not
cease to urge the mortification of the flesh. We add, however, that this
mortification is not to be proudly obtruded upon God as a satisfaction for sins,
but is to be performed humble, in keeping with the nature of the children of
God, as a new obedience out of gratitude for the deliverance and full
satisfaction obtained by the death and satisfaction of the Son of God.

CHAPTER 15 - Of the True Justification of the Faithful

WHAT IS JUSTIFICATION? According to the apostle in his treatment of
justification, to justify means to remit sins, to absolve from guilt and
punishment, to receive into favor, and to pronounce a man just. For in his
epistle to the Romans the apostle says: "It is God who justifies; who is to
condemn?" (Rom. 8:33). To justify and to condemn are opposed. And in The Acts of
the Apostles the apostle states: "Through Christ forgiveness of sins is
proclaimed to you, and by him everyone that believes is freed from everything
from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38 f.). For in
the Law and also in the Prophets we read: "If there is a dispute between men,
and they come into court...the judges decide between them, acquitting the
innocent and condemning the guilty" (Deut. 25:1). And in Isa., ch. 5: "Woe to
those...who aqcuit the guilty for a bribe."
WE ARE JUSTIFIED ON ACCOUNT OF CHRIST. Now it is most certain that all of us are
by nature sinners and godless, and before God's judgment-seat are convicted of
godlessness and are guilty of death, but that, solely by the grace of Christ and
not from any merit of ours or consideration for us, we are justified, that is,
absolved from sin and death by God the Judge. For what is clearer than what Paul
said: "Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are
justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ
Jesus" (Rom. 3:23 f.).
IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS. For Christ took upon himself and bore the sins of the
world, and satisfied divine justice. Therefore, solely on account of Christ's
sufferings and resurrection God is propitious with respect to our sins and does
not impute them to us, but imputes Christ's righteousness to us as our own (II
Cor. 5;19 ff.; Rom. 4;25), so that now we are not only cleansed and purged from
sins or are holy, but also, granted the righteousness of Christ, and so absolved
from sin, death and condemnation, are at last righteous and heirs of eternal
life. Properly speaking, therefore, God alone justifies us, and justifies only
on account of Christ, not imputing sins to us but imputing his righteousness to
WE ARE JUSFIFIED BY FAITH ALONE. But because we receive this justification, not
through any works, but through faith in the mercy of God and in Christ, we
therefore teach and believe with the apostle that sinful man is justified by
faith alone in Christ, not by the law or any works. For the apostle says: "We
hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law" (Rom. 3:28).
Also: "If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but
not before God. For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it
was reckoned to him as righteousness....And to one who does not work but
believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as
righteousness" (Rom. 4:2 ff.; Gen. 15:6). And again: "By grace you have been
saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God--not
because of works, lest any man should boast," etc. (Eph. 2:8 f.). Therefore,
because faith receives Christ our righteousness and attributes everything to the
grace of God in Christ, on that account justification is attributed to faith,
chiefly because of Christ and not therefore because it is our work. For it is
the gift of God.
WE RECEIVE CHRIST BY FAITH. Moreover, the Lord abundantly shows that we receive
Christ by faith, in John, ch. 6, where he puts eating for believing, and
believing for eating. For as we receive food by eating, so we participate in
Christ by believing.
Therefore, we do not share in the benefit of justification partly because of the
grace of God or Christ, and partly because of ourselves, our love, works or
merit, but we attribute it wholly to the grace of God in Christ through faith.
For our love and our works could not please God in Christ through faith. For our
love and our works could not please God if performed by unrighteous men.
Therefore, it is necessary for us to be righteous before we may love and do good
works. We are made trulyrighteous, as we have said, by faith in Christ purely by
the grace of God, who does not impute to us our sins, but the righteousness of
Christ, or rather, he imputes faith in Christ to us for righteousness. Moreover,
the apostle very clearly derives love from faith when he says: "The aim of our
command is love that issues from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere
faith" (I Tim. 1:5)
JAMES COMPARED WITH PAUL. Wherefore, in this matter we are not speaking of a
fictitious, empty, lazy and dead faith, but of a living, quickening faith. It is
and is called a living faith because it apprehends Christ who is life and makes
alive, and shows that it is alive by living works. And so James does not
contradict anything in this doctrine of ours. For he speaks of an empty, dead
faith of which some boasted but who did not have Christ living in them by faith
(James 2:14 ff.). James said that works justify, yet without contradicting the
apostle (otherwise he would have to be rejected) but showing that Abraham proved
his living and justifying faith by works. This all the pious do, but they trust
in Christ alone and not in their own works. For again the apostle said: "It is
no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the
flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, [The Latin reads: "by the faith of the
Son of God."] who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not reject the grace of
God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose,"
etc. (Gal. 2:20 f.).

CHAPTER 16 - Of Faith and Good Works, and of Their Reward, and of Man's Merit

WHAT IS FAITH? Christian faith is not an opinion or human conviction, but a most
firm trust and a clear and steadfast assent of the mind, and then a most certain
apprehension of the truth of God presented in the Scriptures and in the
Apostles' Creed, and thus also of God himself, the greatest good, and especially
of God's promise and of Christ who is the fulfilment of all promises.
FAITH IS THE GIFT OF GOD. But this faith is a pure gift of God which God alone
of his grace gives to his elect according to this measure when, to whom and to
the degree he wills. And he does this by the holy Spirit by means of the
preaching of the Gospel and steadfast prayer.
THE INCREASE OF FAITH. This faith also has its increase, and unless it were
given by God, the apostles would not have said: "Lord, increase our faith" (Luke
17:5). And all these things which up to this point we have said concerning
faith, the apostles have taught before us. For Paul said: "For faith is the sure
subsistence, of things hoped for, and the clear and certain apprehension" (Heb.
11:1). And again he says that all the promises of God are Yes through Christ and
through Christ are Amen (II Cor. 1:20). And to the Philippians he said that it
has been given tothem to believe in Christ (Phil. 1:29). Again, God assigned to
each the measure of faith (Rom. 12:3). Again: "Not all have faith" and, "Not all
obey the Gospel" (II Thess. 3:2; Rom. 10:16). But Luke also bears witness,
saying: "As many as were ordained to life believed" (Acts 13:48). Wherefore Paul
also calls faith "the faith of God's elect" (Titus 1:1), and again: "Faith comes
from hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Elsewhere he
often commands men to pray for faith.
FAITH EFFICACIOUS AND ACTIVE. The same apostle calls faith efficacious and
active through love (Gal. 5:6). It also quiets the conscience and opens a free
access to God, so that we may draw near to him with confidence and may obtain
from him what is useful and necessary. The same [faith] keeps us in the service
we owe to God and our neighbor, strengthens our patience in adversity, fashions
and makes a true confession, and in a word brings forth good fruit of all kinds,
and good works.
CONCERNING GOOD WORKS. For we teach that truly good works grow out of a living
faith by the Holy Spirit and are done by the faithful according tothe will or
rule of God's Word. Now the apostle Peter says: "Make every effort to supplement
your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with
self-control," etc.(II Peter 1:5 ff.). But we have said above that the law of
God, which is his will, prescribes for us the pattern of good works. And the
apostle says: "This is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain
form immorality...that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in business" (I
Thess. 4:3 ff.).
WORKS OF HUMAN CHOICE. And indeed works and worship which we choose arbitrarily
are not pleasing to God. These Paul calls "self-devised worship" Col. 2:23. Of
such the Lord says in the Gospel: "In vain do they worship me, teaching as
doctrines the precepts of men" (Matt. 15:9). Therefore, we disapprove of such
works, and approve and urge those that are of God's will and commission.
THE END OF GOOD WORKS. These same works ought not to be done in order that we
may earn eternal life by them, for, as the apostle says, eternal life is the
gift of God. Nor are they to be done for ostentation which the Lord rejects in
Matt., ch. 6, nor for gain which he also rejects in Matt., ch. 23, but for the
glory of God, to adorn our calling, to show gratitude to God, and for the profit
of the neighbor. For our Lord says again in the Gospel: "Let your light so shine
before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who
is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). And the apostle Paul says: "Lead a life worthy of
the calling to which you have been called" (Eph. 4:1). Also: "And whatever you
do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks
to God and to the Fatehr through him" (Col. 3:17), and, "Let each of you look
not to his own interests, but to the interests of others" (Phil. 2:4), and, "Let
our people learn to apply themselves to good deeds, so as to help cases of
urgent need, and not to be unfruitful" (Titus 3;14).
GOOD WORKS NOT REJECTED. Therefore, although we teach with the apostle that a
man is justified by grace through faith in Christ and not through any good
works, yet we do not think that good works are of little value and condemn them.
We know that man was not created or regenerated through faith in order to be
idle, but rather that without ceasing he should do those things which are good
and useful. For in the Gospel the Lord says that a good tree brings forth good
fruit (Matt. 12:33), and that he who abides in me bears much fruit (John 15:5).
The apostle says: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10),
and again: "Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify
for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14). We
therefore condemn all who despise good works and who babble that they are
useless and that we do not need to pay attention to them.
WE ARE NOT SAVED BY GOOD WORKS. Nevertheless, as was said above, we do not think
that we are saved by good works, and that they are so necessary for salvation
that no one was ever saved without them. For we are saved by grace and the favor
of Christ alone. Works necessarily proceed from faith. And salvation is
improperly attributed to them, but is most properly ascribed to grace. The
apostle's sentence is well known: "If it is by grace, then it is no longer of
works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. But if it is of works, then it
is no longer grace, because otherwise work is no longer work" (Rom. 11:6).
GOOD WORKS PLEASE GOD. Now the works which we do by faith are pleasing to God
and are approved by him. Because of faith in Christ, those who do good works
which, moreover, are done from God's grace through the Holy Spirit, are pleasing
to god. For St. Peter said: "In every nation anyone who fears God and does what
is right is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:35). And Paul said: "We have not ceased
to pray for you...that you may walk worthily of the Lord, fully pleasing to him,
bearing fruit in every good work" (Col. 1:9 f.).
true, not false and philosophical virtues, truly good works, and the genuine
service of a Christian. And as much as we can we diligently and zealously press
them upon all men, while censuring the sloth and Hypocrisy of all those who
praise and profess the Gospel with their lips and dishonor it by their
disgraceful lives. In this matter we place before them God's terrible threats
and then his rich promises and generous rewards -- exhorting, consoling and
GOD GIVES A REWARD FOR GOOD WORKS. For we teach that God gives a rich reward to
those who do good works, according to that saying of the prophet: "keep your
voice from weeping,...for your work shall be rewarded" (Jer. 31:16; Isa., ch.
4). The Lord also said in the Gospel: "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
great in heaven" (Matt. 5:12), and, "Whoever gives to one of these my little
ones a cup of cold water, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward"
(ch. 10:42). However, we do not ascribe this reward, which the Lord gives, to
the merit of the man who receives it, but to the goodness, generosity and
truthfulness of God who promises and gives it, and who, although he owes nothing
to anyone, nevertheless promises that he will give a reward to his faithful
worshippers; meanwhile he also gives them that they may honor him. Moreover, in
the works even of the saints there is much that is unworthy of God and very much
that is imperfect. But because God receives into favor and embraces those who do
works for Christ's sake, he grants to them the promised reward. For in other
respects our righteousnesses are compared to a filthy wrap (Isa. 64:6). And the
Lord says in the Gospel: "When you have done all that is commanded you, say, "We
are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty" (Like 17:10).
THERE ARE NO MERITS OF MEN. Therefore, although we teach that God rewards our
good deeds, yet at the same time we teach, with Augustine, that God does not
crown in us our merits but his gifts. Accordingly we say that whatever reward we
receive is also grace, and is more grace than reward, because the good we do, we
do more through God than through ourselves, and because Paul says: "What have
you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if
you had not received it?" (I Cor. 4:7). And this is what the blessed martyr
Cyprian concluded from this verse: We are not to glory in anything in us, since
nothing is our own. We therefore condemn those who defend the merits of men in
such a way that they invalidate the grace of God.

CHAPTER 17 - Of The Catholic and Holy Church of God, and of The One Only Head of The Church

beginning would have men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth
(I Tim. 2:4), it is altogether necessary that there always should have been, and
should be now, and to the end of the world, a Church.
WHAT IS THE CHURCH? The Church is an assembly of the faithful called or gathered
out of the world; a communion, I say, of all saints, namely, of those who truly
know and rightly worship and serve the true God in Christ the Savior, by the
Word and holy Spirit, and who by faith are partakers of all benefits which are
freely offered through Christ.
CITIZENS OF ONE COMMONWEALTH. They are all citizens of the one city, living
under the same Lord, under the same laws and in the same fellowship of all good
things. For the apostle calls them "fellow citizens with the saints and members
of the household of God" (Eph. 2:19), calling the faithful on earth saints (I
Cor. 4:1), who are sanctified by the blood of the Son of God. The article of the
Creed, "I believe in the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints," is to
be understood wholly as concerning these saints.
ONLY ONE CHURCH FOR ALL TIMES. And since there is always but one God, and there
is one mediator between God and men, Jesus the Messiah, and one Shepherd of the
whole flock, one Head of this body, and, to conclude, one Spirit, one salvation,
one faith, one Testament or covenant, it necessarily follows that there is only
one Church.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. We, therefore, call this Church catholic because it is
universal, scattered through all parts of the world, and extended unto all
times, and is not limited to any times or places. Therefore, we condemn the
Donatists who confined the Church to I know not what corners of Africa. Nor do
we approve of the Roman clergy who have recently passed off only the Roman