Classics

Select a Chapter to Read:

In reference to Confession, we have ever taught that it should be free, that the tyranny of the Pope should be put down, and that we should be liberated from all his constraints, and relieved from the intolerable burdens imposed on the Christian community. For hitherto, as we have all experienced, nothing has been more grievous than the compulsion of every one to confession, at the hazard of incurring the highest displeasure. And this, moreover, was so very burdensome, and the consciences of men were tormented to such a degree with the enumeration of so many kinds of sins, that no one could confess fully enough; and what was the worst, no one taught or knew what confession was, or the benefit and consolation resulting from it, but made of it nothing but anguish and fiendish torture, we being compelled to submit to it, when at the same time there was nothing to which we were more averse. We are now favored by proper instruction on these points, that we are permitted to make our confession through no constraint or fear, and are relieved of the torments resulting from so close an enumeration of all sins; and besides, we have the advantage to know how we may happily use it to the consolation and strengthening of our consciences.

But all men are inclined to this, and have, indeed, too readily learned to do that in which they delight, and thus assume to themselves the liberty as if they had no obligation or necessity to confess. For that which meets our approbation we soon embrace, and it is easily imbibed, where the Gospel operates gently and mildly. But such creatures, I have said, ought not to be under the Gospel, nor enjoy any of its blessings; but they should remain under the Pope, and suffer themselves to be coerced and tormented, so as to be compelled to confess, fast, &c.,. more than before. For whoever will neither believe the Gospel nor live according to it, and do that which it is the duty of a Christian to perform, should likewise not enjoy the blessings. What would it be, if you wished to have enjoyment only, and would neither add nor contribute any thing to it? For this reason we would have nothing preached to such persons; and by our consent, we would permit none of our liberty to be shared or enjoyed by them, but suffer the Pope or his representative to reign over them again, who would constrain them like a real tyrant; for nothing else belongs to that order of men, who will not be obedient to the Gospel, but a task-master who is God's avenger and executioner. But to others who freely permit themselves to be informed, we must ever preach, encouraging, inciting, and entreating them not to suffer that precious and consolatory treasure, which is presented through the Gospel, to pass in vain. We shall, therefore, say something also in reference to Confession, for the purpose of instructing and admonishing the inexperienced.

In the first place, I have said that besides this confession, concerning which we here speak, there are two kinds of confession, which might rather be called a common confession for all Christians; namely, that in which we confess to God alone, or to our neighbor alone, and ask for remission,- acknowledgments which are also implied in the Lord's Prayer, where we say: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Yes, the whole of this Prayer is nothing else than such a confession; for what is our prayer, but that we confess our wants and the neglect of that which it is our duty to perform, desiring grace and a peaceful conscience? Such confession shall and must be made without omission, while we live; for in this, especially, consists the character of a Christian, that we acknowledge ourselves to be sinners, and pray for grace.

In like manner the other confession, in which each one acknowledges before his neighbor, is also included in the Lord's Prayer, namely, where we confess and forgive trespasses among each other, before we approach God and ask for remission. now, all of us are guilty; hence we should and may with propriety confess publicly, without fearing one another; for no one is pious, and no one performs his duty towards God or his neighbor; yet besides this general, there is also a particular guilt,- where one has provoked another to anger, on account of which he should ask his pardon. Consequently, in the Lord's Prayer, we have two absolutions, namely, for sins committed against God, and for sins committed against our neighbor, which are forgiven us if we forgive our neighbor and reconcile ourselves with him.

Besides this useful, daily, and open confession, there is also a confession which may take place privately between two brothers. And if, from some special cause, we become disturbed with restless anxiety, and find our faith insufficient, we can make our complaint to a brother in this private confession, and obtain his advice, comfort, and support, whenever we desire. For this confession is not embraced in a command, like the other two, but it is left optional with every one who needs it, to use it to his necessity. And it derives its origin and authority from the fact that Christ himself has placed and committed the absolution into the mouth of his Christian community, to release us from sins. Now wherever there is a heart which feels its sins and desires consolation, it has here an unfailing resource in the Word of God, that God through a human being releases and acquits it of sins.

Thus observe then, as I have frequently said, that confession comprises two parts. The first is our work and act, to deplore our sins and desire consolation and renovation of soul. The other is a work of God, who thorugh the word, in the mouth of man, absolves me from my sins, which is the chief and most valuable thing, rendering it desirable and consolatory. Now hitherto our work alone was insisted upon, and no further thought was indulged but for us to confess fully indeed; but the other most essential part was neither regarded nor preached; precisely as if it were only a good work, with which we might compensate God; and that unless confession were made perfectly and in the most accurate manner, absolution would avail nothing, and our sins would not be forgiven. By this means the people were driven to such excess that every one had to despair of confessing so fully, (which was impossible,) and no conscience was able to be at peace, or to depend on this absolution. Thus they have rendered this desirable confession not only useless to us, but severe and grievous, to the evident injury and ruin of souls.

For this reason we should so view confession as to distinguish and separate these two parts far from each other, and esteem our own work as insignificant; but the Word of God we should esteem as great and exalted; and we should not enter upon our confession as if we wished to perform a precious work, and make a contribution to God,- but to obtain and receive something from him. You need not come and declare how pious or wicked you are; if you are a Christian, I know it well enough otherwise; if you are none, I know it still more readily. But it is to be done, in order that you may lament your wants, and obtain help, a joyful heart, and a peaceful conscience.

No one is allowed to force you to confession by authority; but we say, whoever is a Christian, or freely wishes to be one, has an impressive admonition here, to enter upon his confession, and obtain the precious treasure. If you are no Christian, or do not desire this consolation, we shall let some one else compel you. By this means we abolish altogether the Pope's tyrannical authority, which is nowhere to be tolerated; for, as said, we teach that whoever does not go to confession willingly and for the sake of absolution, should omit it. Yes, whoever presumes, on account of the purity of his confession, to rely on his own work, no matteer how pure and excellent he may have made his confession, let him abstain from it. But we admonish you to confess and make known your wants, not in order to perform it as a work, but to hear what God permits to be declared to you; the word, I say, or the absolution, you should consider, and esteem great and precious, receiving it with all due honor and gratitude, as an excellent and valuable treasure.

Should we illustrate this, and in connection with it exhibit the necessity which should urge and impel us to the confession of our sins, we would need but little compulsion or constraint; our own conscience would truly urge each one, and so alarm him, that he would be glad of the opportunity to confess his sins; and he would embrace it like a poor indigent beggar, when he hears that at a certain place a rich distribution of money and clothing is made: here there is no need for a beadle to urge and to force him; he would indeed run of himself with whatever speed his physical powers would allow, lest he should fail in securing these benefits. Now, if we were to enjoin a command respecting it, that all beggars must run thither, insisting on this alone, and keeping silent in reference to what should be sought and obtained there, how could it be otherwise than that they would approach with reluctance, not expecting to obtain any thing there, but to be exposed in their poverty and imperfection? From this there would be but little enjoyment and consolation derived, but they would become only the more hostile to this injunction, as if it were imposed upon them for reproach and derision, compelling them to let their poverty and wretchedness be seen.

Even so the legates of the Pope have hitherto remained silent with respect to this rich and excellent privilege and inexpressible treasure, forcing multitudes to confession for no other purpose than to expose our impurity and pollution. Who, under these circumstances, could go to confession with cheerfulness? We do not say, however, that people must see how full of pollution you are, and thus contrast themselves with you; but that they should advise you, and say: "If you are poor and wretched, come, and use this salutary remedy." Now whoever feels his want and wretchedness, will indeed experience such a desire for confession, that he will attend to it with pleasure; but those who do not regard it or come of themselves, we suffer to take their own course; but this they must know, that we do not regard them as Christians.

Thus then we teach how excellent, how precious, and consolatory confession is; we admonish, moreover, that this precious treasure should not be held in contempt, but be regarded as highly necessary. Now if you are a Christian, you need neither my constraint nor the Pope's command, but you will indeed importune, and entreat me, that you may become a participant in it. But if you despise it, and go on so haughtily without confessing, we conclude that you are no Christian, and that you should also not enjoy the sacrament of the Lord's Supper; for you despise that which no Christian should despise, and by this means render it impossible for you to have remission of sins. It is a sure indication too that you hold the Gospel in contempt.

In a word, we would know of no constraint; but we have nothing to do with those who neither hear nor obey our preaching and admonition; nor shall they enjoy any of the privileges of the Gospel. If you were a Christian, you should be glad to embrace the opportunity of going even a hundred miles or more to discharge the duty, and not permit yourself to be compelled, but come and urge us to hear your confession. For here the constraint must be reversed, so that we are subjected to the command, and you be vested with the liberty; we force no one, but permit ourselves to be urged, even as we are constrained to preach, and to administer the sacraments.

When we admonish to confession, therefore, we do nothing else but admonish every one to become a Christian; if I succeed in bringing you to this, I have also brought you to confession. For those who long to be pious Christians, to be free from their sins, and to have joyful consciences, have the right hunger and thirst already, eagerly to grasp this bread even as the hart when pursued, and wearied with heat and thirst, as the , says: "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." That is, as longing and anxious as the hart is after the fresh streams, so anxious and concerned am I about God's Word or absolution and the Sacrament. Behold, this is correct teaching concerning confession; thus we should create a love and desire for it, so that people would come to it, and solicit us more than we might wish or desire. We shall let the Papists plague and torment themselves and other people who do not esteem this treasure, and debar themselves from it; but let us lift up our hands, and praise and thank God, that we have arrived at this knowledge and grace. Amen.


Select a Chapter to Read:

Concord

Title_Page
Editors_Introduction
Preface_to_the_Christian_Book_of_Concord
The_Three_Ecumenical_Creeds
The_Apostles_Creed
The_Nicene_Creed
The_Athanasian_Creed
The_Augsburg_Confession
Title_Page
Preface_to_the_Emperor_Charles_V
Article_I_Of_God
Article_II_Of_Original_Sin
Article_III_Of_The_Son_of_God
Article_IV_Of_Justification
Article_V_Of_The_Ministry
Article_VI_Of_New_Obedience
Article_VII_Of_the_Church
Article_VIII_What_the_Church_Is
Article_IX_Of_Baptism
Article_X_Of_The_Lords_Supper
Article_XI_Of_Confession
Article_XII_Of_Repentance
Article_XIII_Of_The_Use_of_the_Sacraments
Article_XIV_Of_Ecclesiastical_Order
Article_XV_Of_Ecclesiastical_Usages
Article_XVI_Of_Civil_Affairs
Article_XVII_Of_Christs_Return_to_Judgment
Article_XVIII_Of_Free_Will
Article_XIX_Of_the_Cause_of_Sin
Article_XX_Of_Good_Works
Article_XXI_Of_the_Worship_of_the_Saints
ARTICLES_IN_WHICH_ARE_REVIEWED_THE_ABUSES_WHICH_HAVE_BEEN_CORRECTED
Article_XXII_Of_Both_Kinds_in_the_Sacrament
Article_XXIII_Of_the_Marriage_of_Priests
Article_XXIV_Of_the_Mass
Article_XXV_Of_Confession
Article_XXVI_Of_the_Distinction_of_Meats
Article_XXVII_Of_Monastic_Vows
Article_XXVIII_Of_Ecclesiastical_Power
Conclusion
The_Apology_of_the_Augsburg_Confession
Title_Page_and_Table_Of_Contents
Introduction
On_Article_I_Of_God
On_Article_II_Of_Original_Sin
On_Article_III_Of_Christ
On_Articles_IV_V_VI_XX_Of_Justification
On_Articles_IV_V_VI_XX_Of_Justification_Part_1
What_is_Justifying_Faith
That_Faith_in_Christ_Justifies
That_We_Obtain_Remission_of_Sins_by_Faith_Alone_in_Christ
On_Love_and_the_Fulfilling_of_the_Law
On_Love_and_the_Fulfilling_of_the_Law
Reply_to_the_Arguments_of_the_Adversaries
Section_1_of_4
Section_2_of_4
Section_3_of_4
Section_4_of_4
On_Articles_VII_and_VIII_Of_the_Church
On_Article_IX_Of_Baptism
On_Article_X_Of_the_Holy_Supper
On_Article_XI_Of_Confession
On_Article_XIIa_Of_Repentance
Section_1_of_2
Section_2_of_2
On_Article_XIIb_Of_Confession_and_Satisfaction
Section_1_of_2
Section_2_of_2
On_Article_XIII_Of_the_Number_and_Use_of_the_Sacraments
On_Article_XIV_Of_Ecclesiastical_Order
On_Article_XV_Of_Human_Traditions_in_the_Church
On_Article_XVI_Of_Political_Order
On_Article_XVII_Of_Christs_Return_to_Judgment
On_Article_XVIII_Of_Free_Will
On_Article_XIX_Of_the_Cause_of_Sin
On_Article_XX_Of_Good_Works
On_Article_XXI_Of_the_Invocation_of_Saints
On_Article_XXII_Of_Both_Kinds_In_the_Lords_Supper
On_Article_XXIII_Of_the_Marriage_of_Priests
On_Article_XXIV_Of_the_Mass
On_Article_XXIV_Of_the_Mass_of_the_Augustana_Part_1
What_a_Sacrifice_Is
What_the_Fathers_Thought_concerning_Sacrifice
Of_the_Use_of_the_Sacrament_and_of_Sacrifice
Of_the_Term_Mass
Of_the_Mass_for_the_Dead
On_Article_XXVII_Of_Monastic_Vows
Section_1_of_2
Section_2_of_2
On_Article_XXVIII_Of_Ecclesiastical_Power
End
The_Smalcald_Articles
Title_Page_and_Table_Of_Contents
Preface_of_Dr_Martin_Luther
The_First_Part
The_Second_Part
Article_I_The_Chief_Article
Article_II_Of_the_Mass
Of_the_Mass_Part_1
Of_the_Invocation_of_Saints
Article_III_Of_Chapters_and_Cloisters
Article_IV_Of_the_Papacy
The_Third_Part
Article_I_Of_Sin
Article_II_Of_the_Law
Article_III_Repentance
Introduction
Of_the_False_Repentance_of_the_Papists
Article_IV_Of_the_Gospel
Article_V_Of_Baptism
Article_VI_Of_the_Sacrament_of_the_Altar
Article_VII_Of_the_Keys
Article_VIII_Of_Confession
Article_IX_Excommunication
Article_X_Of_Ordination_and_the_Call
Article_XI_Of_the_Marriage_of_Priests
Article_XII_Of_the_Church
Article_XIII_How_One_is_Justified_before_God_and_of_Good_Works
Article_XIV_Of_Monastic_Vows
Article_XV_Of_Human_Traditions
Subscribers
A_Treatise_on_the_Power_and_Primacy_of_the_Pope
Title_Page
Part_1
Of_the_Power_and_Jurisdiction_of_Bishops
DOCTORS_AND_PREACHERS_Who_Subscribed_the_Augsburg_Confession_and_Apology_A_D_1537
Luthers_Small_Catechism
Title_Page
Preface
The_Ten_Commandments
The_Creed
The_Lords_Prayer
The_Sacrament_of_Holy_Baptism
Confession
The_Sacrament_of_the_Altar
Daily_Prayers
Table_of_Duties
Christian_Questions_with_Their_Answers
Luthers_Large_Catechism
Title_Page
Translators_Introduction
Short_Preface_of_Dr_Martin_Luther
The_Ten_Commandments
The_First_Commandment
The_Second_Commandment
The_Third_Commandment
The_Fourth_Commandment
The_Fifth_Commandment
The_Sixth_Commandment
The_Seventh_Commandment
The_Eighth_Commandment
The_Ninth_and_Tenth_Commandment
Conclusion_of_The_Ten_Commandments
The_Creed
Article_I
Article_II
Article_III
The_Lords_Prayer
Introduction
The_First_Petition
The_Second_Petition
The_Third_Petition
The_Fourth_Petition
The_Fifth_Petition
The_Sixth_Petition
The_Seventh_Petition
Baptism
The_Sacrament_of_the_Altar
The_Formula_of_Concord
Title_Page
Part_First_Epitome
Title_Page_and_Table_of_Contents
Comprehensive_Summary_Rule_and_Norm
I_Original_Sin
II_Free_Will
III_The_Righteousness_of_Faith_Before_God
IV_Good_Works
V_Law_and_Gospel
VI_The_Third_Use_of_the_Law
VII_The_Lords_Supper
VIII_The_Person_of_Christ
IX_The_Descent_of_Christ_Into_Hell
X_Church_Rites_Adiaphora
XI_Election
End_Of_Articles
XII_Other_Heresies_and_Sects
Introduction
Anabaptists
Schwenkfeldians
New_Arians
Anti_Trinitarians
Part_Second_Solid_Declaration
Title_Page_and_Table_of_Contents
Preface
Rule_and_Norm
Original_Sin
Free_Will
Part_1_of_2
Part_2_of_2
The_Righteousness_of_Faith
Part_1_of_2
Part_2_of_2
Good_Works
Law_and_Gospel
The_Third_Use_of_the_Law
The_Holy_Supper
Part_1_of_3_Introduction_and_Status_Controversiae
Part_2_of_3
Part_3_of_3
The_Person_of_Christ
Part_1_of_2
Part_2_of_2
Christs_Descent_into_Hell
Church_Rites_Adiaphora
Election
Part_1_of_2
Part_2_of_2
Other_Sects
Introduction
Anabaptists
Schwenckfeldians
New_Arians
Anti_Trinitarians
Conclusion
Appendix_A_Catalog_of_Testimonies
Introduction_to_Testimonies
Testimonies_I
Testimonies_II
Testimonies_III
Testimonies_IV
Testimonies_V
Testimonies_VI
Testimonies_VII
Testimonies_VIII
Testimonies_IX
Testimonies_X
Appendix_An_Exhortation_to_Confession
Title_Page
A_Brief_Admonition_To_Confession
Appendix_The_Saxon_Visitation_Articles
Title_Page
Article_I_Of_the_Holy_Supper
Article_II_Of_the_Person_of_Christ
Article_III_Of_Holy_Baptism
Article_IV_Of_Predestination_and_the_Eternal_Providence_of_God
False_and_Erroneous_Doctrine_of_the_Calvinists_Concerning_the_Holy_Supper
False_and_Erroneous_Doctrine_of_the_Calvinists_Concerning_the_Person_of_Christ
False_and_Erroneous_Doctrine_of_the_Calvinists_Concerning_Holy_Baptism
False_and_Erroneous_Doctrine_of_the_Calvinists_Concerning_Predestination_and_the_Providence_of_God
Context_Document_95_Theses_of_Martin_Luther
Title_Page
95_Theses
Refuted_Document_Johann_Ecks_404_Theses
Title_Page
Editors_Introduction
Translators_Introduction
Cover_Letter
Theses
Context_Document_To_All_the_Clergy_Assembled_in_Augsburg_at_the_Diet
Title_Page
Introduction
Concerning_Indulgences
Concerning_Confessionals
Concerning_Confession
Concerning_Penance
Concerning_The_Sale_of_Masses_or_Private_Masses
On_the_Ban
On_Two_Kinds_in_the_Sacrament
On_the_Unmarried_State
Other_Subjects
Conclusion
Refuted_Document_Confutatio_Pontifica
Title_Page
Introduction
Part_1
To_Article_I
To_Article_II_Disputation_I
To_Article_III
To_Article_IV_Disputation_II
To_Article_V_Disputation_II_Justification_And_III_Love_and_Fulfilling_of_the_Law
To_Article_VI_Disputation_II_Justification_And_III_Love_and_Fulfilling_of_the_Law
To_Article_VII_Disputation_IV
To_Article_VIII_Disputation_IV
To_Article_IX
To_Article_X
To_Article_XI
To_Article_XII_Disputation_V_Repentance_And_VI_Confession_And_Satisfaction
To_Article_XIII_Disputation_VII
To_Article_XIV
To_Article_XV_Disputation_VIII
To_Article_XVI
To_Article_XVII
To_Article_XVIII
To_Article_XIX
To_Article_XX_Disputation_II
To_Article_XXI_Disputation_IX
Part_2_Reply_to_the_Second_Part_of_the_Confession
I_Of_the_Lay_Communion_under_One_Form_To_Article_XXII_Disputation_X
II_Of_the_Marriage_of_Priests_To_Article_XXIII_Disputation_XI
III_Of_the_Mass_To_Article_XXIV_Disputation_XII
IV_Of_Confession_To_Article_XXV
V_Of_the_Distinction_of_Meats_To_Article_XXVI
VI_Of_Monastic_Vows_To_Article_XXVII_Disputation_XIII
VII_Of_Ecclesiastical_Power_Disputation_XIV
Conclusion
Refuted_Document_Consenus_Tigurinus
Title_Page
Introduction
Text
Book of Concord (Triglot Concordia): The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church | Calvin's Institutes | Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ | Heretics by Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-1936) | Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis | Josephus: The Complete Works | Orthodoxy by Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-1936) | Sermons on Gospel Themes by Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) | The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (1628-1688) | The Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life by Brother Lawrence (Nicholas Herman, 1605-1691) | Walther's Law and Gospel | Westminster Confession & Catechisms |
Home |