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Article XXVII: (XIII): Of Monastic Vows.

In the town of Eisenach, in Thuringia, there was, to our knowledge, a monk, John Hilten, who, thirty years ago, was cast by his fraternity into prison because he had protested against certain most notorious abuses. For we have seen his writings, from which it can be well understood what the nature of his doctrine was a. And those who knew him testify that he was a mild old man, and serious indeed, but without moroseness. He predicted many things, some of which have thus far transpired, and others still seem to impend, which we do not wish to recite, lest it may be inferred that they are narrated either from hatred toward one or from partiality to another. But finally, when, either on account of his age or the foulness of the prison, he fell into disease, he sent for the guardian in order to tell him of his sickness; and when the guardian, inflamed with pharisaic hatred, had begun to reprove the man harshly on account of his kind of doctrine, which seemed to be injurious to the kitchen, then, omitting all mention of his sickness, he said with a sigh that he was bearing these injuries patiently for Christ's sake, since he had indeed neither written nor taught anything which could overthrow the position of the monks, but had only protested against some well-known abuses. But another one, he said, will come in A. D. 1516, who will destroy You, neither will you be able to resist him. This very opinion concerning the downward career of the power of the monks, and this number of years, his friends afterwards found also written by him in his commentaries, which he had left, concerning certain passages of Daniel. But although the outcome will teach how much weight should be given to this declaration, yet there are other signs which threaten a change in the power of the monks, that are no less certain than oracles. For it is evident how much hypocrisy, ambition, avarice there is in the monasteries, how much ignorance and cruelty among all the unlearned, what vanity in their sermons and in devising continually new means of gaining money. b And there are other faults, which we do not care to mention. While they once were c schools for Christian instruction, now they have degenerated, as though from a golden to an iron age, or as the Platonic cube degenerates into bad harmonies, which, Plato says, brings destruction. d All the most wealthy monasteries support only an idle crowd, which gluttonizes upon the public alms of the Church. Christ, however, teaches concerning the salt that has lost its savor that it should be cast out and be trodden under foot, . Therefore the monks by such morals are singing their own fate e. And now another sign is added, because they are, in many places, the instigators of the death of good men. f These murders God undoubtedly will shortly avenge. Nor indeed do we find fault with all; for we are of the opinion that there are here and there some good men in the monasteries who judge moderately concerning human and factitious services, as some writers call them, and who do not approve of the cruelty which the hypocrites among them exercise.

But we are now discussing the kind of doctrine which the composers of the Confutation are now defending, and not the question whether vows should be observed. For we hold that lawful vows ought to be observed; but whether these services merit the remission of sins and justification; whether they are satisfactions for sins; whether they are equal to Baptism; whether they are the observance of precepts and counsels; whether they are evangelical perfection; whether they have the merits of supererogation; whether these merits, when applied on behalf of others, save them; whether vows made with these opinions are lawful; whether vows are lawful that are undertaken under the pretext of religion, merely for the sake of the belly and idleness; whether those are truly vows that have been extorted either from the unwilling, or from those who on account of age were not able to judge concerning the kind of life, whom parents or friends thrust into the monasteries that they might be supported at the public expense, without the loss of private patrimony; whether vows are lawful that openly tend to an evil issue, either because on account of weakness they are not observed, or because those who are in these fraternities are compelled to approve and aid the abuses of the Mass, the godless worship of saints, and the counsels to rage against good men: concerning these questions we are treating. And although we have said very many things in the Confession concerning such vows as even the canons of the Popes condemn, nevertheless the adversaries command that all things which we have produced be rejected. For they have used these words.

And it is worth while to hear how they pervert our reasons, and what they adduce to fortify their own cause. Accordingly, we will briefly run over a few of our arguments, and, in passing, explain away the sophistry of the adversaries in reference to them. Since, however, this entire cause has been carefully and fully treated by Luther in the book to which he gave the title De Votis Monasticis, we wish here to consider that book as reiterated.

First, it is very certain that a vow is not lawful by which he who vows thinks that he merits the remission of sins before God, or makes satisfaction before God for sins. For this opinion is a manifest insult to the Gospel, which teaches that the remission of sins is freely granted us for Christ's sake, as has been said above at some length. Therefore we have correctly quoted the declaration of Paul to the Galatians, : Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law; ye are fallen from grace. Those who seek the remission of sins, not by faith in Christ, but by monastic works, detract from the honor of Christ, and crucify Christ afresh. But hear, hear how the composers of the Confutation escape in this place! They explain this passage of Paul only concerning the Law of Moses, and they add that observe all things for Christ's sake, and endeavor to live the nearer the Gospel in order to merit eternal life. And they add a horrible peroration in these words: Wherefore those things are wicked that are here alleged against monasticism. O Christ, how long wilt Thou bear these reproaches with which our enemies treat Thy Gospel? We have said in the Confession that the remission of sins is received freely for Christ's sake, through faith. If this is not the very voice of the Gospel, if it is not the judgment of the eternal Father, which Thou who art in the bosom of the Father hast revealed to the world, we are justly blamed. But Thy death is a witness, Thy resurrection is a witness, the Holy Ghost is a witness, Thy entire Church is a witness, that it is truly the judgment of the Gospel that we obtain remission of sins, not on account of our merits, but on account of Thee, through faith.

When Paul denies that by the Law of Moses men merit the remission of sins, he withdraws this praise much more from human traditions; and this he clearly testifies . If the Law of Moses, which was divinely revealed, did not merit the remission of sins, how much less do these silly observances g, averse to the civil custom of life, merit the remission of sins!

The adversaries feign that Paul abolishes the Law of Moses, and that Christ succeeds in such a way that He does not freely grant the remission of sins, but on account of the works of other laws, if any are now devised. By this godless and fanatical imagination they bury the benefit of Christ. Then they feign that among those who observe this Law of Christ, the monks observe it more closely than others, on account of their hypocritical poverty, obedience, and chastity, since indeed all these things are full of sham. In the greatest abundance of all things they boast of poverty. Although no class of men has greater license than the monks h, they boast of obedience. Of celibacy we do not like to speak; how pure this is in most of those who desire to be continent, Gerson indicates. And how many of them desire to be continent i?

Of course, in this sham life the monks live more closely in accordance with the Gospel! Christ does not succeed Moses in such a way as to remit sins on account of our works, but so as to set His own merits and His own propitiation on our behalf against God's wrath, that we may be freely forgiven. Now, he who, apart from Christ's propitiation, opposes his own merits to God's wrath, and on account of his own merits endeavors to obtain the remission of sins, whether he present the works of the Mosaic Law, or of the Decalog, or of the rule of Benedict, or of the rule of Augustine, or of other rules, annuls the promise of Christ, has cast away Christ, and has fallen from grace. This is the verdict of Paul.

But, behold, most clement Emperor Charles, behold, ye princes, behold, all ye ranks, how, great is the impudence of the adversaries! Although we have cited the declaration of Paul to this effect, they have written: Wicked are those things that are here cited against monasticism. But what is more certain than that men obtain the remission of sins by faith for Christ's sake? And these wretches dare to call this a wicked opinion! We do not at all doubt that if you had been advised of this passage, you would have taken j care that such blasphemy be removed from the Confutation.

But since it has been fully shown above that the opinion is wicked, that we obtain the remission of sins on account of our works, we shall be briefer at this place. For the prudent reader will easily be able to reason thence that we do not merit the remission of sins by monastic works. Therefore this blasphemy also is in no way to be endured which is read in Thomas, that the monastic profession is equal to Baptism. It is madness to make human tradition, which has neither God's command nor promise, equal to the ordinance of Christ, which has both the command and promise of God, which contains the covenant of grace and of eternal life.

Secondly. Obedience, poverty, and celibacy, provided the latter is not impure, are, as exercises, adiaphora k. And for this reason the saints can use these without impiety, just as Bernard, Franciscus, and other holy men used them. And they used them on account of bodily advantage, that they might have more leisure to teach and to perform other godly offices, and not that the works themselves are, by themselves, works that justify or merit eternal life. Finally, they belong to the class of which Paul says, : Bodily exercise profiteth little. And it is credible that in some places there are also at present good men, engaged in the ministry of the Word, who use these observances without wicked opinions l. But to hold that these observances are services on account of which they are accounted just before God, and through which they merit eternal life, conflicts with the Gospel concerning the righteousness of faith, which teaches that for Christ's sake righteousness and eternal life are granted us. It conflicts also with the saying of Christ, : In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. It conflicts also with this statement, : Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. But how can they affirm that they are services which God approves as righteousness before Him when they have no testimony of God's Word?

But look at the impudence of the adversaries! They not only teach that these observances are justifying services, but they add that these services are more perfect, i.e., meriting more the remission of sins and justification, than do other kinds of life m. And here many false and pernicious opinions concur. They imagine that they n observe o precepts and p counsels q. Afterwards these liberal men, since they dream that they have the merits of supererogation, sell these to others. All these things are full of pharisaic vanity. For it is the height of impiety, to hold that they satisfy the Decalog in such a way that merits remain, while such precepts as these are accusing all the saints: Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thine heart, . Likewise: Thou shalt not covet, . r The prophet says, : All men are liars, i.e., not thinking aright concerning God, not fearing God sufficiently, not believing Him sufficiently. Therefore the monks falsely boast that in the observance of a monastic life the commandments are fulfilled, and more is done than what is commanded s.

Again, this also is false, namely, that monastic observances are works of the counsels of the Gospel. For the Gospel does not advise concerning distinctions of clothing and meats and the renunciation of property. These are human traditions, concerning all of which it has been said, : Meat commendeth us not to God. Therefore they are neither justifying services nor perfection; yea, when they are presented covered with these titles, they are mere doctrines of demons

Virginity is recommended, but to those who have the gift, as has been said above. It is, however, a most pernicious error to hold that evangelical perfection lies in human traditions. For thus the monks even of the Mohammedans would be able to boast that they have evangelical perfection. Neither does it he in the observance of other things which are called adiaphora, but because the kingdom of God is righteousness and life in hearts, , perfection is growth in the fear of God, and in confidence in the mercy promised in Christ, and in devotion to one's calling; just as Paul also describes perfection : We are changed from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. He does not say: We are continually receiving another hood, or other sandals, or other girdles. It is deplorable that in the Church such pharisaic, yea, Mohammedan expressions should be read and heard as, that the perfection of the Gospel, of the kingdom of Christ, which is eternal life, should be placed in these foolish observances of vestments and of similar trifles.

Now hear our Areopagites t as to what an unworthy declaration they have recorded in the Confutation. Thus they say: It has been expressly declared in the Holy Scriptures that the monastic life merits eternal life if maintained by a due observance, which by the grace of God any monk can maintain; and, indeed, Christ has promised this as much more abundant to those who have left home or brothers, etc., . These are the words of the adversaries, in which it is first said most impudently that it is expressed in the Holy Scriptures that a monastic life merits eternal life. For where do the Holy Scriptures speak of a monastic life? Thus the adversaries plead their case, thus men of no account quote the Scriptures. Although no one is ignorant that the monastic life has recently been devised, nevertheless they cite the authority of Scripture, and say, too, that this their decree has been expressly declared in the Scriptures.

Besides, they dishonor Christ when they say that by monasticism men merit eternal life. God has ascribed not even to His Law the honor that it should merit eternal life, as He clearly says in : I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. In the first place, it is certain that a monastic life does not merit the remission of sins, but we obtain this by faith freely, as has been said above. Secondly, for Christ's sake, through mercy, eternal life is granted to those who by faith receive remission, and do not set their own merits against God's judgment, as Bernard also says with very great force: It is necessary first of all to believe that you cannot have the remission of sins unless by God's indulgence. Secondly, that you can have no good work whatever, unless He has given also this. Lastly, that you can merit eternal life by no works, unless this also is given freely. The rest that follows to the same effect we have above recited. Moreover, Bernard adds at the end: Let no one deceive himself, because if he will reflect well, he will undoubtedly find that with ten thousand he cannot meet Him u who cometh against him with twenty thousand. Since, however, we do not merit the remission of sins or eternal life by the works of the divine Law, but it is necessary to seek the mercy promised in Christ, much less is this honor of meriting the remission of sins or eternal life to be ascribed to monastic observances, since they are mere human traditions.

Thus those who teach that the monastic life merits the remission of sins or eternal life, and transfer the confidence due Christ to these foolish observances, altogether suppress the Gospel concerning the free remission of sins and the promised mercy in Christ that is to be apprehended. Instead of Christ they worship their own hoods and their own filth. But since even they need mercy, they act wickedly in fabricating works of supererogation, and selling them v to others.

We speak the more briefly concerning these subjects, because from those things which we have said above concerning justification, concerning repentance, concerning human traditions, it is sufficiently evident that monastic vows are not a price on account of which the remission of sins and life eternal are granted. And since Christ calls traditions useless services, they are in no way evangelical perfection.


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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
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