Das sei für diesmal genug über diese vier Sakramente. Ich weiß, das wird denen, die die Anzahl und die Handhabung der Sakramente nicht aus der heiligen Schrift, sondern vom römischen Stuhl herleiten zu müssen meinen, missfallen. Es gibt außerdem noch einiges andere, das anscheinend zu den Sakramenten gerechnet werden könnte nämlich all das, dem eine Verheißung Gottes zuteil geworden ist: dazu gehören das Gebet, das Wort, das Kreuz. Denn Christus hat den Betenden an vielen Stellen Erhörung zugesagt, besonders Luk. 11, 5 ff., wo er uns mit vielen Gleichnissen zum Beten einlädt. Und vom Wort sagt er: „Selig sind, die das Wort Gottes hören und bewahren.“ Wer will aber aufzählen wie oft er den Angefochtenen, Duldenden und Gedemütigten Hilfe und Ehre verheißt? Ja, wer kann alle Verheißungen Gottes zählen, wo doch die ganze Schrift nur darauf abzielt, uns zum Glauben zu reizen und uns einmal mit Geboten und Drohungen drängt und dann wieder mit Verheißungen und Tröstungen anlockt. Alles, was geschrieben steht, ist entweder Gebot oder Verheißung; die Gebote demütigen die Hoffärtigen durch ihre Forderungen, die Verheißungen aber erhöhen die Gedemütigten durch ihre Vergebungen.
Wir haben aber gesehen, dass eigentlich nur die Verheißungen Sakramente genannt werden können, die mit Zeichen verbunden sind. Die anderen aber sind bloße Verheißungen, weil sie nicht an Zeichen gebunden sind. Daraus folgt, wenn wir streng reden wollen, dass es in der Kirche Gottes nur zwei Sakramente gibt: die Taufe und das Brot; denn allein bei diesen beiden sehen wir das aufgerichtete göttliche Zeichen und die Verheißung der Sündenvergebung. Denn das Sakrament der Buße, welches ich zu diesen beiden zugerechnet habe, ermangelt eines sichtbaren und von Gott gestifteten Zeichens; es ist, wie gesagt, nichts anderes als ein Weg und eine Rückkehr zur Taufe.
Die Taufe, die wir dem ganzen Leben zueignen, ist in Wahrheit genug für alle Sakramente, die wir in unserm Leben gebrauchen sollen. Das Brot aber ist in Wahrheit das Sakrament der Sterbenden und von dieser Welt Abscheidenden, weil wir in ihm des Abschieds Christi von dieser Welt gedenken, um ihm nachzufolgen. lasst uns diese zwei Sakramente so aufteilen, dass die Taufe dem Anfang und dem ganzen Lebenslauf, das Brot aber dem Ende und dem Tode zugeteilt werde. Und ein Christ soll sie beide gebrauchen, solange er in diesem Leibe ist, bis er vollkommen getauft und gestärkt aus dieser Welt geht, geboren zu einem ewigen neuen Leben, wo er mit Christus im Reich seines Vaters essen wird, wie er es im Abendmahl verheißen hat, wo er sagt: „Wahrlich ich sage euch: ich werde von nun an nicht mehr von diesem Gewächs des Weinstocks trinken, bis an den Tag, da ich’s neu trinken werde mit euch in meines Vaters Reich.“ Hier sehen wir ganz deutlich, dass das Sakrament des Brotes für den Empfang des ewigen Lebens gestiftet ist. Dann nämlich, wenn Aufgabe und Wesen beider Sakramente erfüllt ist, werden Taufe und Brot aufhören.
Hiermit will ich ein Ende dieses Vorspiels machen, welches ich allen frommen Christen gern und mit Freuden übergebe, die nach dem rechten Verständnis der Schrift suchen und den wahren Brauch der Sakramente zu wissen begehren. Es ist nämlich keine geringe Gabe zu wissen, was uns geschenkt ist, wie es 1. Kor. 2, 12 heißt, und wie man diese Gaben gebrauchen soll. Denn mit dem Urteilsvermögen des Geistes ausgerüstet, werden wir uns nicht fälschlicherweise auf Dinge verlassen, die sich ganz anders verhalten. Diese beiden Stücke, welche uns unsere Theologen niemals gegeben, ja sogar mit Fleiß verdunkelt haben, habe ich, wenn nicht gegeben, so doch aber sicher das erreicht, dass ich es nicht verdunkelte, sondern anderen Gelegenheit gab, Besseres darüber auszuführen. Meine Absicht wenigstens war es, beides darzubieten. Jedoch können wir nicht alle alles. Den Gottlosen aber und denen, die uns anstatt der göttlichen Lehren hartnäckig die ihren aufdrängen wollen, halte ich getrost und frei diese Schrift entgegen und kümmere mich nicht um ihren unvernünftigen Eifer, wenngleich ich auch ihnen einen klaren Verstand wünschte. Ich verachte ihre Bemühungen auch nicht, sondern ich möchte sie nur von den echten und wahrhaften Christen unterschieden wissen.
Denn ich höre ein Gerücht, dass aufs neue Bullen und päpstliche Flüche gegen mich ausgefertigt sind, durch die ich zum Widerruf gezwungen oder zum Ketzer erklärt werden soll. Wenn das wahr ist, dann soll dieses Büchlein ein Teil meines künftigen Widerrufs sein; sie sollen sich nicht beklagen können, dass ihre Gewaltherrschaft ungestraft so aufgebläht ist. Den restlichen Teil werde ich nächstens mit Christi Hilfe so herausgehen lassen, wie es der römische Stuhl bisher weder gesehen noch gehört hat. Damit werde ich meinen Gehorsam zur Genüge beweisen. Im Namen unseres Herrn Jesu Christi. Amen.
Was fürchtest du Feind Herodes sehr, dass uns geboren kommt Christ, der Herr, Er sucht kein sterblich Königreich, Der zu uns bringt sein Himmelreich.
The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. A prelude
Martin Luther, Augustinian, to his friend, Herman Tulich,
1.1 Like it or not, I am compelled to learn more every day, with so many and such able masters vying with one another to improve my mind. Some two years ago I wrote a little book on indulgences, which I now deeply regret having published. For at the time I still clung to the Roman tyranny with great superstition and held that indulgences should not be altogether rejected, seeing they were approved by the common consent of men. Nor was this to be wondered at, for I was then engaged single-handed in my Sisyphean task. Since then, however, through the kindness of Sylvester and the friars, who so strenuously defended indulgences, I have come to see that they are nothing but an fraud of the Roman flaterers by which they rob people of their faith and fortunes. I wish I could convince the booksellers and all my readers to burn up the whole of my writings on indulgences and to substitute for them this proposition:
INDULGENCES are a Swindler's Trick of the Roman flaterers.
1.3 Next, Eck and Emser, with their fellows, undertook to instruct me concerning the primacy of the pope. Here too, not to be ungrateful to such learned folk, I acknowledge how greatly I have profited by their labors. For, while denying the divine authority of the papacy, I still admitted its human authority. But after hearing and reading the subtle subtleties of these pretentious and conceited men, with which they skilfully prop their idol – for in these matters my mind is not altogether unreachable – I now know of a certainty that the papacy is the kingdom of Babylon and the power of Nimrod the mighty hunter. Once more, therefore, that all may fall out to my friends' advantage, I beg both booksellers and readers to burn what I have published on that subject and to hold to this proposition:
1.4 THE PAPACY IS THE MIGHTY prey of the Roman Bishop. This follows from the arguments of Eck, Emser and the Leipzig lecturer on the Holy Scriptures.
1.5 Now they send me back to school again to teach me about communion in both kinds and other weighty subjects. And I must begin to study with all my strength, so as not to hear my teachers without profit. A certain Italian friar of Cremona has written a Revocation of Martin Luther to the Holy See – that is, a revocation in which I do not revoke anything (as the words declare) but he revokes me. That is the kind of Latin the Italians are now beginning to write. Another friar, a German of Leipzig, that same lecturer, you know, on the whole canon of the Scriptures, has written a book against me concerning the sacrament in both kinds, and is planning, I understand, still greater and more marvelous things. The Italian was canny enough not to set down his name, fearing perhaps the fate of Cajetan and Sylvester. But the Leipzig man, as becomes a fierce and valiant German, boasts on his ample title page of his name, his career, his saintliness, his scholarship, his office, glory, honour, yes, almost of his very shoes. Doubtless I shall gain here a lot of information, since indeed his dedicatory epistle is addressed to the Son of God Himself. On so familiar a footing are these saints with Christ Who reigns in heaven! Moreover, I think I hear three magpies chattering in this book: the first in good Latin, the second in better Greek, the third in purest Hebrew. What do you think, my Herman, what is there for me to do but to prick up my ears? The thing emanates from Leipzig, from the Order of the Observance of the Holy Cross.
1.6 Fool that I was, I used to think it would be good if a general council decided that the sacrament be administered to the laity in both kinds. The more than learned friar wants to correct my opinion, and declares that neither Christ nor the apostles commanded or commended the administration of both kinds to the laity. It was, therefore, left to the judgment of the Church what to do or not to do in this matter, and the Church must be obeyed. These are his words.
1.7 You will perhaps ask, what madness has entered into the man, or against whom he is writing, since I have not condemned the use of one kind, but have left the decision about the use of both kinds to the judgment of the Church – the very thing he attempts to assert and which he turns against me. My answer is, that this sort of argument is common to all those who write against Luther. They assert the very things they assail, or they set up a man of straw whom they may attack. Thus Sylvester, Eck and Emser! Thus the theologians of Cologne and Louvain! If this friar had not been of the same type, he would never have written against Luther.
1.8 Yet in one respect this man luckier than his fellows. For in undertaking to prove that the use of both kinds is neither commanded nor commended, but left to the will of the Church, he brings forward passages of Scripture to prove that by the command of Christ one kind only was appointed for the laity. So that it is true, according to this new interpreter of the Scriptures, that one kind was not commanded, and at the same time was commanded by Christ! This novel sort of argument is, as you know, the particular forte of the Leipzig dialecticians. Did not Emser in his earlier book profess to write of me in a friendly spirit, and then, after I had convicted him of filthy envy and foul lying, did he not openly acknowledge in his later book, written to refute my arguments, that he had written in both a friendly and an unfriendly spirit? A sweet fellow, certainly, as you know.
1.9 But listen to our distinguished distinguisher of "kinds," for whom the will of the Church and a command of Christ, and a command of Christ and no command of Christ, are all one and the same! How ingeniously he proves that only one kind is to be given to the laity, by the command of Christ, that is, by the will of the Church. He puts it in capital letters, thus: THE INFALLIBLE FOUNDATION. Thereupon he treats John 6 with incredible wisdom, in which passage Christ speaks of the bread from heaven and the bread of life, which is He Himself. The learned fellow not only refers these words to the Sacrament of the Altar, but because Christ says: " I am the living bread" and not, "I am the living cup" he actually concludes that we have in this passage the institution of the sacrament in only one kind for the laity. But here follow the words: " For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed," and, " Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood." When it dawned upon the good friar that these words speak undeniably for both kinds and against one kind – Poof! – how happily and learnedly he slips out of the quandary by asserting that in these words Christ means to say only that whoever receives the one kind receives under it both flesh and blood. This he puts for the "infallible foundation" of a structure well worthy of the holy and heavenly Observance.
1.10 Now, I beg you, learn with me from this passage that Christ, in John 6, enjoins the sacrament in one kind, yet in such a way that His commanding it means leaving it to the will of the Church. Further, that Christ is speaking in this chapter only of the laity and not of the priests. For to the latter the living bread from heaven does not pertain, but presumably the deadly bread from hell! And how is it with the deacons and subdeacons, who are neither laymen nor priests? According to this brilliant writer, they ought to use neither the one kind nor both kinds! You see, dear Tulich, this novel and observant method of treating Scripture.
1.11 But learn this, too – that Christ is speaking in John 6 of the Sacrament of the Altar – although He Himself teaches that His words refer to faith in the Word made flesh, for He says, "This is the work of God that you believe on him whom he has sent." But our Leipzig professor of the Scriptures must be permitted to prove anything he pleases from any Scripture passage whatsoever. For he is an Anaxagorian, or rather an Aristotelian theologian, for whom nouns and verbs, interchanged, mean the same thing and any thing. So aptly does he cite Scripture proof-texts throughout the whole of his book, that if he set out to prove the presence of Christ in the sacrament, he would not hesitate to commence thus: "Here begins the book of the Revelation of St. John the Divine." All his quotations are as apt as this one would be, and the "wise man" imagines he is adorning his drivel with the multitude of his quotations.
1.12 The rest I pass over, lest you should smother in the filth of this vile toilet. In conclusion, he brings forward: 1 Corinthians 11:23, where Paul says he received from the Lord, and delivered to the Corinthians, the use of both the bread and the cup. Here again our distinguisher of kinds, treating the Scriptures with his usual brilliance, teaches that Paul did not deliver, but permitted both kinds. Do you ask where he gets his proof? Out of his own head, as he did in the case of John 6: For it does not behoove this lecturer to give a reason for his assertions. He belongs to the order of those who teach and prove all things by their visions. Accordingly we are here taught that the Apostle, in this passage, addressed not the whole Corinthian congregation, but the laity alone – but then he "permitted" nothing at all to the clergy, and they are deprived of the sacrament altogether! – and further, that, according to a new kind of grammar, "I have received from the Lord" means "It is permitted by the Lord," and "I have delivered it to you" means "I have permitted it to you." I beg you, mark this well. For by this method, not only the Church, but every passing swindler will be at liberty, according to this master, to turn all the commands, institutions and ordinances of Christ and the apostles into a mere "permission."
1.13 I perceive, therefore, that this man is driven by an angel of Satan, and that he and his partners seek but to make a name for themselves through me, as men who were worthy to cross swords with Luther. But their hopes shall be dashed. I shall ignore them and not mention their names from now on – not ever. This one reply shall suffice me for all their books. If they be worthy of it, I pray Christ in His mercy to bring them to a sound mind. If not, I pray that they may never leave off writing such books and that the enemies of the truth may never deserve to read any other. It is a popular and true saying:
1.14 This I know is true – whenever I fought with filth, whether I was a Victor or was vanquished, I came away from the fight defiled.
1.15 And, since I perceive that they have an abundance of leisure and of writing paper, I shall see to it that they may have ample opportunity for writing. I shall run on before, and while they are celebrating a glorious victory over one of my so-called heresies, I shall be meanwhile devising a new one. For I too am desirous that these gallant leaders in battle should win to themselves many titles and decorations. Therefore, while they complain that I laud communion in both kinds, and are happily engrossed in this most important and worthy matter, I will go yet one step farther and undertake to show that all those who deny communion in both kinds to the laity are wicked men. And the more conveniently to do this, I will compose a prelude on the captivity of the Roman Church. In due time I shall have a great deal more to say, when the learned papists have disposed of this book.
1.16 I take this course, lest any pious reader who may chance upon this book, should be offended at my dealing with such filthy matters, and should justly complain of finding in it nothing to cultivate and instruct his mind or even to furnish food for learned thought. For you know how impatient my friends are because I waste my time on the sordid fictions of these men, which, they say, are amply refuted in the reading. They look for greater things from me, which Satan seeks in this way to hinder. I have at length resolved to follow their counsel and to leave to those hornets the pleasant business of wrangling and hurling violent accusations.
1.17 Of that friar of Cremona I will say nothing. He is an unlearned man and a simpleton, who attempts with a few rhetorical passages to recall me to the Holy See, from which I am not as yet aware of having departed, nor has any one proved it to me. He is chiefly concerned in those silly passages with showing that I ought to be moved by the vow of my order and by the fact that the empire has been transferred to us Germans. He seems thus to have set out to write, not my "revocation," but rather the praises of the French people and the Roman Pontiff. Let him attest his loyalty in his little book. It is the best he could do. He does not deserve to be harshly treated, for I think he was not prompted by malice. Nor should he be learnedly refuted, for all his chatter is sheer ignorance and simplicity.
1.18 AT THE OUTSET I must deny that there are seven sacraments, and hold for the present to but three – baptism, penance and the bread. These three have been subjected to a miserable captivity by the Roman curia, and the Church has been deprived of all her liberty. To be sure, if I desired to use the term in its scriptural sense, I should allow but a single sacrament, with three sacramental signs. But of this I shall treat more fully at the proper time.