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The Large Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther

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or others in authority sit in judgment, things never fail to go
according to the course of the world; namely, men do not like to offend
anybody, flatter, and speak to gain favor, money, prospects, or
friendship; and in consequence a poor man and his cause must be
oppressed, denounced as wrong, and suffer punishment. And it is a
common calamity in the world that in courts of justice there seldom
preside godly men.

For to be a judge requires above all things a godly man, and not only a
godly, but also a wise, modest, yea, a brave and bold man; likewise, to
be a witness requires a fearless and especially a godly man. For a
person who is to judge all matters rightly and carry them through with
his decision will often offend good friends, relatives, neighbors, and
the rich and powerful, who can greatly serve or injure him. Therefore
he must be quite blind, have his eyes and ears closed, neither see nor
hear, but go straight forward in everything that comes before him, and
decide accordingly.

Therefore this commandment is given first of all that every one shall
help his neighbor to secure his rights, and not allow them to be
hindered or twisted, but shall promote and strictly maintain them, no
matter whether he be judge or witness, and let it pertain to whatsoever
it will. And especially is a goal set up here for our jurists that they
be careful to deal truly and uprightly with every case, allowing right
to remain right, and, on the other hand, not perverting anything [by
their tricks and technical points turning black into white and making
wrong out to be right], nor glossing it over or keeping silent
concerning it, irrespective of a person's money, possession, honor, or
power. This is one part and the plainest sense of this commandment
concerning all that takes place in court.

Next, it extends very much further, if we are to apply it to spiritual
jurisdiction or administration; here it is a common occurrence that
every one bears false witness against his neighbor. For wherever there
are godly preachers and Christians, they must bear the sentence before
the world that they are called heretics, apostates, yea, seditious and
desperately wicked miscreants. Besides the Word of God must suffer in
the most shameful and malicious manner, being persecuted blasphemed,
contradicted, perverted and falsely cited and interpreted. But let this
pass; for it is the way of the blind world that she condemns and
persecutes the truth and the children of God, and yet esteems it no

In the third place, what concerns us all, this commandment forbids all
sins of the tongue whereby we may injure or approach too closely to our
neighbor. For to bear false witness is nothing else than a work of the
tongue. Now, whatever is done with the tongue against a fellow-man God
would have prohibited, whether it be false preachers with their
doctrine and blasphemy, false judges and witnesses with their verdict,
or outside of court by lying and evil-speaking. Here belongs
particularly the detestable, shameful vice of speaking behind a
person's back and slandering, to which the devil spurs us on and of
which there would be much to be said. For it is a common evil plague
that every one prefers hearing evil to hearing good of his neighbor;
and although we ourselves are so bad that we cannot suffer that any one
should say anything bad about us, but every one would much rather that
all the world should speak of him in terms of gold, yet we cannot bear
that the best is spoken about others.

Therefore, to avoid this vice we should note that no one is allowed
publicly to judge and reprove his neighbor, although he may see him
sin, unless he have a command to judge and to reprove. For there is a
great difference between these two things, judging sin and knowing sin.
You may indeed know it, but you are not to judge it. I can indeed see
and hear that my neighbor sins, but I have no command to report it to
others. Now, if I rush in, judging and passing sentence, I fall into a
sin which is greater than his. But if you know it, do nothing else
than turn your ears into a grave and cover it, until you are appointed
to be judge and to punish by virtue of your office.

Those, then, are called slanderers who are not content with knowing a
thing, but proceed to assume jurisdiction, and when they know a slight
offense of another, carry it into every corner, and are delighted and
tickled that they can stir up another's displeasure [baseness], as
swine roll themselves in the dirt and root in it with the snout. This
is nothing else than meddling with the judgment and office of God, and
pronouncing sentence and punishment with the most severe verdict. For
no judge can punish to a higher degree nor go farther than to say: "He
is a thief, a murderer, a traitor," etc. Therefore, whoever presumes to
say the same of his neighbor goes just as far as the emperor and all
governments. For although you do not wield the sword, you employ your
poisonous tongue to the shame and hurt of your neighbor.

God therefore would have it prohibited that any one speak evil of
another even though he be guilty, and the latter know it right well;
much less if he do not know it, and have it only from hearsay. But you
say: Shall I not say it if it be the truth? Answer: Why do you not make
accusation to regular judges? Ah, I cannot prove it publicly, and hence
I might be silenced and turned away in a harsh manner [incur the
penalty of a false accusation]. "Ah, indeed, do you smell the roast?"
If you do not trust yourself to stand before the proper authorities and
to make answer, then hold your tongue. But if you know it, know it for
yourself and not for another. For if you tell it to others, although it
be true, you will appear as a liar, because you cannot prove it, and
you are, besides acting like a knave. For we ought never to deprive any
one of his honor or good name unless it be first taken away from him

False witness, then, is everything which cannot be properly proved.
Therefore, what is not manifest upon sufficient evidence no one shall
make public or declare for truth; and in short, whatever is secret
should be allowed to remain secret, or, at any rate, should be secretly
reproved, as we shall hear. Therefore, if you encounter an idle tongue
which betrays and slanders some one, contradict such a one promptly to
his face, that he may blush thus many a one will hold his tongue who
else would bring some poor man into bad repute from which he would not
easily extricate himself. For honor and a good name are easily taken
away, but not easily restored.

Thus you see that it is summarily forbidden to speak any evil of our
neighbor, however the civil government, preachers, father and mother
excepted, on the understanding that this commandment does not allow
evil to go unpunished. Now, as according to the Fifth Commandment no
one is to be injured in body, and yet Master Hannes [the executioner]
is excepted, who by virtue of his office does his neighbor no good, but
only evil and harm, and nevertheless does not sin against God's
commandment, because God has on His own account instituted that office;
for He has reserved punishment for His own good pleasure, as He
threatens in the First Commandment, -- just so also, although no one
has a right in his own person to judge and condemn anybody, yet if they
to whose office it belongs fail to do it, they sin as well as he who
would do so of his own accord, without such office. For here necessity
requires one to speak of the evil, to prefer charges, to investigate
and testify; and it is not different from the case of a physician who
is sometimes compelled to examine and handle the patient whom he is to
cure in secret parts. Just so governments, father and mother, brothers
and sisters, and other good friends, are under obligation to each other
to reprove evil wherever it is needful and profitable.

But the true way in this matter would be to observe the order
according to the Gospel, Matt. 18, 15, where Christ says: If thy
brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between
thee and him alone. Here you have a precious and excellent teaching for
governing well the tongue, which is to be carefully observed against
this detestable misuse. Let this, then, be your rule, that you do not
too readily spread evil concerning your neighbor and slander him to
others, but admonish him privately that he may amend [his life].
Likewise, also, if some one report to you what this or that one has
done, teach him, too, to go and admonish him personally if he have seen
it himself; but if not, that he hold his tongue.

The same you can learn also from the daily government of the
household. For when the master of the house sees that the servant does
not do what he ought, he admonishes him personally. But if he were so
foolish as to let the servant sit at home, and went on the streets to
complain of him to his neighbors, he would no doubt be told: "You fool,
what does that concern us? Why do you not tell it to him ?" Behold,
that would be acting quite brotherly, so that the evil would be stayed,
and your neighbor would retain his honor. As Christ also says in the
same place: If he hear thee, thou host gained thy brother. Then you
have done a great and excellent work; for do you think it is a little
matter to gain a brother? Let all monks and holy orders step forth,
with all their works melted together into one mass, and see if they
can boast that they have gained a brother.

Further, Christ teaches: But if he will not hear thee, then take with
thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every
word may be established. So he whom it concerns is always to be treated
with personally, and not to be spoken of without his knowledge. But if
that do not avail, then bring it publicly before the community, whether
before the civil or the ecclesiastical tribunal. For then you do not
stand alone, but you have those witnesses with you by whom you can
convict the guilty one, relying on whom the judge can pronounce
sentence and punish. This is the right and regular course for checking
and reforming a wicked person. But if we gossip about another in all
corners and stir the filth, no one will be reformed, and afterwards
when we are to stand up and bear witness, we deny having said so.
Therefore it would serve such tongues right if their itch for slander
were severely punished, as a warning to others. If you were acting for
your neighbor's reformation or from love of the truth, you would not
sneak about secretly nor shun the day and the light.

All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is
quite public so that the judge and everybody know it you can without
any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into
disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a
matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or
false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his
doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all
the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be
public, that every one may learn to guard against it.

Thus we have now the sum and general understanding of this
commandment, to wit, that no one do any injury with the tongue to his
neighbor, whether friend or foe, nor speak evil of him, no matter
whether it be true or false, unless it be done by commandment or for
his reformation, but that every one employ his tongue and make it serve
for the best of every one else, to cover up his neighbor's sins and
infirmities, excuse them, palliate and garnish them with his own
reputation. The chief reason for this should be the one which Christ
alleges in the Gospel, in which He comprehends all commandments
respecting our neighbor, Matt. 7, 12: Whatsoever ye would that men
should do to you, do ye even so to them.

Even nature teaches the same thing in our own bodies, as St. Paul
says, 1 Cor. 12, 22: Much more, those members of the body which seem to
be more feeble are necessary; and those members of the body which we
think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor;
and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. No one covers his
face, eyes, nose, and mouth, for they, being in themselves the most
honorable members which we have, do not require it. But the most infirm
members, of which we are ashamed, we cover with all diligence; hands,
eyes, and the whole body must help to cover and conceal them. Thus also
among ourselves should we adorn whatever blemishes and infirmities we
find in our neighbor, and serve and help him to promote his honor to
the best of our ability, and, on the other hand, prevent whatever may
be discreditable to him. And it is especially an excellent and noble
virtue for one always to explain advantageously and put the best
construction upon all he may hear of his neighbor (if it be not
notoriously evil), or at any rate to condone it over and against the
poisonous tongues that are busy wherever they can pry out and discover
something to blame in a neighbor, and that explain and pervert it in
the worst way; as is done now especially with the precious Word of God
and its preachers.

There are comprehended therefore in this commandment quite a multitude
of good works which please God most highly, and bring abundant good and
blessing, if only the blind world and the false saints would recognize
them. For there is nothing on or in entire man which can do both
greater and more extensive good or harm in spiritual and in temporal
matters than the tongue, though it is the least and feeblest member.

The Ninth and Tenth Commandments

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house. Thou shalt not covet thy
neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his
cattle, nor anything that is his.

These two commandments are given quite exclusively to the Jews;
nevertheless, in part they also concern us. For they do not interpret
them as referring to unchastity or theft, because these are
sufficiently forbidden above. They also thought that they had kept all
those when they had done or not done the external act. Therefore God
has added these two commandments in order that it be esteemed as sin
and forbidden to desire or in any way to aim at getting our neighbor's
wife or possessions; and especially because under the Jewish government
man-servants and maid-servants were not free as now to serve for wages
as long as they pleased, but were their master's property with their
body and all they had, as cattle and other possessions. Moreover,
every man had power over his wife to put her away publicly by giving
her a bill of divorce, and to take another. Therefore they were in
constant danger among each other that if one took a fancy to another's
wife, he might allege any reason both to dismiss his own wife and to
estrange the other's wife from him, that he might obtain her under
pretext of right. That was not considered a sin nor disgrace with them;
as little as now with hired help, when a proprietor dismisses his
man-servant or maid-servant, or takes another's servants from him in
any way.

Therefore (I say) they thus interpreted these commandments, and that
rightly (although their scope reaches somewhat farther and higher),
that no one think or purpose to obtain what belongs to another, such as
his wife, servants, house and estate, land meadows, cattle, even with a
show of right or by a subterfuge, yet with injury to his neighbor. For
above, in the Seventh Commandment, the vice is forbidden where one
wrests to himself the possessions of others, or withholds them from his
neighbor, which he cannot do by right. But here it is also forbidden to
alienate anything from your neighbor, even though you could do so with
honor in the eyes of the world, so that no one could accuse or blame
you as though you had obtained it wrongfully.

For we are so inclined by nature that no one desires to see another
have as much as himself, and each one acquires as much as he can; the
other may fare as best he can. And yet we pretend to be godly, know how
to adorn ourselves most finely and conceal our rascality, resort to and
invent adroit devices and deceitful artifices (such as now are daily
most ingeniously contrived) as though they were derived from the law
codes; yea, we even dare impertinently to refer to it, and boast of it,
and will not have it called rascality, but shrewdness and caution. In
this lawyers and jurists assist, who twist and stretch the law to suit
it to their cause, stress words and use them for a subterfuge,
irrespective of equity or their neighbor's necessity. And, in short,
whoever is the most expert and cunning in these affairs finds most help
in law, as they themselves say: Vigilantibus iura subveniunt [that is,
The laws favor the watchful].

This last commandment therefore is given not for rogues in the eyes of
the world, but just for the most pious, who wish to be praised and be
called honest and upright people, since they have not offended against
the former commandments, as especially the Jews claimed to be, and even
now many great noblemen, gentlemen, and princes. For the other common
masses belong yet farther down, under the Seventh Commandment, as those
who are not much concerned whether they acquire their possessions with
honor and right.

Now, this occurs most frequently in cases that are brought into court,
where it is the purpose to get something from our neighbor and to force
him out of his own. As (to give examples), when people quarrel and
wrangle about a large inheritance, real estate, etc., they avail
themselves of, and resort to, whatever has the appearance of right, so
dressing and adorning everything that the law must favor their side,
and they keep the property with such title that no one can make
complaint or lay claim thereto. In like manner, if any one desire to
have a castle, city, duchy, or any other great thing, he practices so
much financiering through relationships, and by any means he can, that
the other is judicially deprived of it, and it is adjudicated to him,
and confirmed with deed and seal and declared to have been acquired by
princely title and honestly.

Likewise also in common trade where one dexterously slips something out
of another's hand, so that he must look after it, or surprises and
defrauds him in a matter in which he sees advantage and benefit for
himself, so that the latter, perhaps on account of distress or debt,
cannot regain or redeem it without injury, and the former gains the
half or even more; and yet this must not be considered as acquired by
fraud or stolen, but honestly bought. Here they say: First come, first
served, and every one must look to his own interest, let another get
what he can. And who can be so smart as to think of all the ways in
which one can get many things into his possession by such specious
pretexts? This the world does not consider wrong [nor is it punished by
laws], and will not see that the neighbor is thereby placed at a
disadvantage, and must sacrifice what he cannot spare without injury.
Yet there is no one who wishes this to be done to him; from which we
can easily perceive that such devices and pretexts are false.

Thus it was done formerly also with respect to wives: they knew such
devices that if one were pleased with another woman, he personally or
through others (as there were many ways and means to be invented)
caused her husband to conceive a displeasure toward her, or had her
resist him and so conduct herself that he was obliged to dismiss her
and leave her to the other. That sort of thing undoubtedly prevailed
much under the Law, as also we read in the (Gospel of King Herod that
he took his brother's wife while he was yet living, and yet wished to
be thought an honorable, pious man, as St. Mark also testifies of him.
But such an example, I trust, will not occur among us, because in the
New Testament those who are married are forbidden to be divorced,
except in such a case where one [shrewdly] by some stratagem takes away
a rich bride from another. But it is not a rare thing with us that one
estranges or alienates another's man-servant or maid-servant, or
entices them away by flattering words.

In whatever way such things happen, we must know that God does not wish
that you deprive your neighbor of anything that belongs to him so that
he suffer the loss and you gratify your avarice with it, even if you
could keep it honorably before the world; for it is a secret and
insidious imposition practiced under the hat, as we say, that it may
not be observed. For although you go your way as if you had done no one
any wrong, you have nevertheless injured your neighbor; and if it is
not called stealing and cheating, yet it is called coveting your
neighbor's property, that is, aiming at possession of it, enticing it
away from him without his will, and being unwilling to see him enjoy
what God has granted him. And although the judge and every one must
leave you in possession of it, yet God will not leave you therein; for
He sees the deceitful heart and the malice of the world, which is sure
to take an ell in addition wherever you yield to her a finger's
breadth, and at length public wrong and violence follow.

Therefore we allow these commandments to remain in their ordinary
meaning, that it is commanded, first, that we do not desire our
neighbor's damage, nor even assist, nor give occasion for it, but
gladly wish and leave him what he has, and, besides, advance and
preserve for him what may be for his profit and service, as we should
wish to be treated. Thus these commandments are especially directed
against envy and miserable avarice, God wishing to remove all causes
and sources whence arises everything by which we do injury to our
neighbor, and therefore He expresses it in plain words: Thou shalt not
covet, etc. For He would especially have the heart pure, although we
shall never attain to that as long as we live here; so that this
commandment will remain, like all the rest, one that will constantly
accuse us and show how godly we are in the sight of God!

Conclusion of the Ten Commandments.

Thus we have the Ten Commandments, a compend of divine doctrine, as to
what we are to do in order that our whole life may be pleasing to God,
and the true fountain and channel from and in which everything must
arise and flow that is to be a good work, so that outside of the Ten
Commandments no work or thing can be good or pleasing to God, however
great or precious it be in the eyes of the world. Let us see now what
our great saints can boast of their spiritual orders and their great
and grievous works which they have invented and set up, while they let
these pass, as though they were far too insignificant, or had long ago
been perfectly fulfilled.

I am of opinion indeed, that here one will find his hands full, [and
will have enough] to do to observe these, namely, meekness, patience,
and love towards enemies, chastity, kindness, etc., and what such
virtues imply. But such works are not of value and make no display in
the eyes of the world; for they are not peculiar and conceited works
and restricted to particular times, places, rites, and customs, but are
common, every-day domestic works which one neighbor can practice toward
another; therefore they are not of high esteem.

But the other works cause people to open their eyes and ears wide, and
men aid to this effect by the great display, expense, and magnificent
buildings with which they adorn them, so that everything shines and
glitters. There they waft incense, they sing and ring bells, they light
tapers and candles, so that nothing else can be seen or heard. For when
a priest stands there in a surplice embroidered with gilt, or a layman
continues all day upon his knees in church, that is regarded as a most
precious work which no one can sufficiently praise. But when a poor
girl tends a little child and faithfully does what she is told that is
considered nothing; for else what should monks and nuns seek in their

But see, is not that a cursed presumption of those desperate saints who
dare to invent a higher and better life and estate than the Ten
Commandments teach, pretending (as we have said) that this is an
ordinary life for the common man, but that theirs is for saints and
perfect ones? And the miserable blind people do not see that no man can
get so far as to keep one of the Ten Commandments as it should be kept,
but both the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer must come to our aid
(as we shall hear), by which that [power and strength to keep the
commandments] is sought and prayed for and received continually.
Therefore all their boasting amounts to as much as if I boasted and
said: To be sure, I have not a penny to make payment with, but I
confidently undertake to pay ten florins.

All this I say and urge in order that men might become rid of the sad
misuse which has taken such deep root and still cleaves to everybody,
and in all estates upon earth become used to looking hither only, and
to being concerned about these matters. For it will be a long time
before they will produce a doctrine or estates equal to the Ten
Commandments, because they are so high that no one can attain to them
by human power; and whoever does attain to them is a heavenly, angelic
man far above all holiness of the world. Only occupy yourself with
them, and try your best, apply all power and ability and you will find
so much to do that you will neither seek nor esteem any other work or

Let this be sufficient concerning the first part of the common
Christian doctrine, both for teaching and urging what is necessary. In
conclusion, however, we must repeat the text which belongs here, of
which we have treated already in the First Commandment, in order that
we may learn what pains God requires to the end we may learn to
inculcate and practice the Ten Commandments:

For I the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the
fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them
that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and
keep My commandments.

Although (as we have heard above) this appendix was primarily attached
to the First Commandment, it was nevertheless [we cannot deny that it
was] laid down for the sake of all the commandments, as all of them are
to be referred and directed to it. Therefore I have said that this,
too, should be presented to and inculcated upon the young, that they
may learn and remember it, in order to see what is to urge and compel
us to keep these Ten Commandments. And it is to be regarded as though
this part were specially added to each, so that it inheres in, and
pervades, them all.

Now, there is comprehended in these words (as said before) both an
angry word of threatening and a friendly promise to terrify and warn
us, and, moreover to induce and encourage us to receive and highly
esteem His Word as a matter of divine earnestness, because He Himself
declares how much He is concerned about it, and how rigidly He will
enforce it, namely, that He will horribly and terribly punish all who
despise and transgress His commandments; and again, how richly He will
reward, bless, and do all good to those who hold them in high esteem,
and gladly do and live according to them. Thus He demands that all our
works proceed from a heart which fears and regards God alone, and from
such fear avoids everything that is contrary to His will, lest it
should move Him to wrath; and, on the other hand, also trusts in Him
alone, and from love to Him does all He wishes, because he speaks to us
as friendly as a father, and offers us all grace and every good.

Just this is also the meaning and true interpretation of the first and
chief commandment, from which all the others must flow and proceed, so
that this word: Thou shalt have no other gods before Me, in its
simplest meaning states nothing else than this demand: Thou shalt fear,
love, and trust in Me as thine only true God. For where there is a
heart thus disposed towards God, the same has fulfilled this and all
the other commandments. On the other hand, whoever fears and loves
anything else in heaven and upon earth will keep neither this nor any.
Thus the entire scriptures have everywhere preached and inculcated this
commandment, aiming always at these two things: fear of God and trust
in Him. And especially the prophet David throughout the Psalms, as when
he says [Ps. 147,11]: The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him,
in those that hope in His mercy. As if the entire commandment were
explained by one verse, as much as to say: The Lord taketh pleasure in
those who have no other gods.

Thus the First Commandment is to shine and impart its splendor to all
the others. Therefore you must let this declaration run through all the
commandments, like a hoop in a wreath, joining the end to the beginning
and holding them all together, that it be continually repeated and not
forgotten; as, namely, in the Second Commandment, that we fear God and
do not take His name in vain for cursing, lying, deceiving, and other
modes of leading men astray, or rascality, but make proper and good use
of it by calling upon Him in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, derived
from love and trust according to the First Commandment. In like manner
such fear, love, and trust is to urge and force us not to despise His
Word, but gladly to learn, hear, and esteem it holy, and honor it.

Thus continuing through all the following commandments towards our
neighbor likewise, everything is to proceed by virtue of the First
Commandment, to wit, that we honor father and mother, masters, and all
in authority and be subject and obedient to them, not on their own
account, but for God's sake. For you are not to regard or fear father
or mother, or from love of them do or omit anything. But see to that
which God would have you do, and what He will quite surely demand of
you; if you omit that, you have an angry Judge, but in the contrary
case a gracious Father.

Again, that you do your neighbor no harm, injury, or violence, nor in
any wise encroach upon him as touching his body, wife, property, honor,
or rights, as all these things are commanded in their order, even
though you have opportunity and cause to do so and no man would reprove
you; but that you do good to all men, help them, and promote their
interest, howsoever and wherever you can, purely from love of God and
in order to please Him, in the confidence that He will abundantly
reward you for everything. Thus you see how the First Commandment is
the chief source and fountainhead which flows into all the rest, and
again, all return to that and depend upon it, so that beginning and end
are fastened and bound to each other.

This (I say) it is profitable and necessary always to teach to the
young people, to admonish them and to remind them of it, that they may
be brought up not only with blows and compulsion, like cattle, but in
the fear and reverence of God. For where this is considered and laid to
heart that these things are not human trifles, but the commandments of
the Divine Majesty, who insists upon them with such earnestness, is
angry with, and punishes those who despise them, and, on the other
hand, abundantly rewards those who keep them, there will be a
spontaneous impulse and a desire gladly to do the will of God.
Therefore it is not in vain that it is commanded in the Old Testament
to write the Ten Commandments on all walls and corners, yes, even on
the garments, not for the sake of merely having them written in these
places and making a show of them, as did the Jews, but that we might
have our eyes constantly fixed upon them, and have them always in our
memory, and that we might practice them in all our actions and ways,
and every one make them his daily exercise in all cases, in every
business and transaction, as though they were written in every place
wherever he would look, yea, wherever he walks or stands. Thus there
would be occasion enough, both at home in our own house and abroad with
our neighbors, to practice the Ten Commandments, that no one need run
far for them.

From this it again appears how highly these Ten Commandments are to be
exalted and extolled above all estates, commandments, and works which
are taught and practiced aside from them. For here we can boast and
say: Let all the wise and saints step forth and produce, if they can, a
[single] work like these commandments, upon which God insists with such
earnestness, and which He enjoins with His greatest wrath and
punishment, and, besides, adds such glorious promises that He will pour
out upon us all good things and blessings. Therefore they should be
taught above all others, and be esteemed precious and dear, as the
highest treasure given by God.

Part Second. OF THE CREED.

Thus far we have heard the first part of Christian doctrine, in which
we have seen all that God wishes us to do or to leave undone. Now,
there properly follows the Creed, which sets forth to us everything
that we must expect and receive from God, and, to state it quite
briefly, teaches us to know Him fully. And this is intended to help us
do that which according to the Ten Commandments we ought to do. For (as
said above) they are set so high that all human ability is far too
feeble and weak to [attain to or] keep them. Therefore it is as
necessary to learn this part as the former in order that we may know
how to attain thereto, whence and whereby to obtain such power. For if
we could by our own powers keep the Ten Commandments as they are to be
kept, we would need nothing further, neither the Creed nor the Lord's
Prayer. But before we explain this advantage and necessity of the
Creed, it is sufficient at first for the simple-minded that they learn
to comprehend and understand the Creed itself.

In the first place, the Creed has hitherto been divided into twelve
articles, although, if all points which are written in the Scriptures
and which belong to the Creed were to be distinctly set forth, there
would be far more articles, nor could they all be clearly expressed in
so few words. But that it may be most easily and clearly understood as
it is to be taught to children, we shall briefly sum up the entire
Creed in three chief articles, according to the three persons in the
Godhead, to whom everything that we believe is related, So that the
First Article, of God the Father, explains Creation, the Second
Article, of the Son, Redemption, and the Third, of the Holy Ghost,
Sanctification. Just as though the Creed were briefly comprehended in
so many words: I believe in God the Father, who has created me; I
believe in God the Son, who has redeemed me; I believe in the Holy
Ghost, who sanctifies me. One God and one faith, but three persons,
therefore also three articles or confessions. Let us briefly run over
the words.

Article I.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

This portrays and sets forth most briefly what is the essence, will,
activity, and work of God the Father. For since the Ten Commandments
have taught that we are to have not more than one God, the question
might be asked, What kind of a person is God? What does He do? How can
we praise or portray and describe Him, that He may be known? Now, that
is taught in this and in the following article, so that the Creed is
nothing else than the answer and confession of Christians arranged with
respect to the First Commandment. As if you were to ask a little child:
My dear, what sort of a God have you? What do you know of Him? he could
say: This is my God: first, the Father, who has created heaven and
earth; besides this only One I regard nothing else as God; for there is
no one else who could create heaven and earth.

But for the learned, and those who are somewhat advanced [have
acquired some Scriptural knowledge], these three articles may all be
expanded and divided into as many parts as there are words. But now for
young scholars let it suffice to indicate the most necessary points,
namely, as we have said, that this article refers to the Creation: that
we emphasize the words: Creator of heaven and earth But what is the
force of this, or what do you mean by these words: I believe in God the
Father Almighty, Maker, etc.? Answer: This is what I mean and believe,
that I am a creature of God; that is, that He has given and constantly
preserves to me my body, soul, and life, members great and small, all
my senses, reason, and understanding, and so on, food and drink,
clothing and support, wife and children, domestics, house and home,
etc. Besides, He causes all creatures to serve for the uses and
necessities of life -- sun, moon and stars in the firmament, day and
night, air, fire, water, earth, and whatever it bears and produces,
birds and fishes, beasts, grain, and all kinds of produce, and whatever
else there is of bodily and temporal goods, good government, peace,
security. Thus we learn from this article that none of us has of
himself, nor can preserve, his life nor anything that is here
enumerated or can be enumerated, however small and unimportant a thing
it might be, for all is comprehended in the word Creator.

Moreover, we also confess that God the Father has not only given us all
that we have and see before our eyes, but daily preserves and defends
us against all evil and misfortune, averts all sorts of danger and
calamity; and that He does all this out of pure love and goodness,
without our merit, as a benevolent Father, who cares for us that no
evil befall us. But to speak more of this belongs in the other two
parts of this article, where we say: Father Almighty
Now, since: all that we possess, and, moreover, whatever, in addition,
is in heaven and upon the earth, is daily given, preserved, and kept
for us by God, it is readily inferred and concluded that it is our duty
to love, praise, and thank Him for it without ceasing, and, in short,
to serve Him with all these things as He demands and has enjoined in
the Ten Commandments.

Here we could say much if we were to expatiate, how few there are that
believe this article. For we all pass over it, hear it and say it, but
neither see nor consider what the words teach us. For if we believed it
with the heart, we would also act accordingly, and not stalk about
proudly, act defiantly, and boast as though we had life, riches, power,
and honor, etc., of ourselves, so that others must fear and serve us,
as is the practice of the wretched, perverse world, which is drowned in
blindness, and abuses all the good things and gifts of God only for its
own pride, avarice, lust, and luxury, and never once regards God, so
as to thank Him or acknowledge Him as Lord and Creator.

Therefore, this article ought to humble and terrify us all, if we
believed it. For we sin daily with eyes, ears, hands, body and soul,
money and possessions, and with everything we have, especially those
who even fight against the Word of God. Yet Christians have this
advantage, that they acknowledge themselves in duty bound to serve God
for all these things, and to be obedient to Him [which the world knows
not how to do].

We ought, therefore, daily to practice this article, impress it upon
our mind, and to remember it in all that meets our eyes, and in all
good that falls to our lot, and wherever we escape from calamity or
danger, that it is God who gives and does all these things, that
therein we sense and see His paternal heart and His transcendent love
toward us. Thereby the heart would be warmed and kindled to be
thankful, and to employ all such good things to the honor and praise of

Thus we have most briefly presented the meaning of this article, as
much as is at first necessary for the most simple to learn, both as to
what we have and receive from God, and what we owe in return, which is
a most excellent knowledge, but a far greater treasure. For here we see
how the Father has given Himself to us, together with all creatures,
and has most richly provided for us in this life, besides that He has
overwhelmed us with unspeakable, eternal treasures by His Son and the
Holy Ghost, as we shall hear.

Article II.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the
Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was
crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He
rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the
right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to
judge the quick and the dead.

Here we learn to know the Second Person of the Godhead, so that we see
what we have from God over and above the temporal goods
aforementioned; namely, how He has completely poured forth Himself and
withheld nothing from us that He has not given us. Now, this article is
very rich and broad; but in order to expound it also briefly and in a
childlike way, we shall take up one word and sum up in that the entire
article, namely (as we have said), that we may here learn how we have
been redeemed; and we shall base this on these words: In Jesus Christ,
our Lord.

If now you are asked, What do you believe in the Second Article of
Jesus Christ? answer briefly: I believe that Jesus Christ, true Son of
God, has become my Lord. But what is it to become Lord? It is this,
that He has redeemed me from sin, from the devil, from death, and all
evil. For before I had no Lord nor King, but was captive under the
power of the devil, condemned to death, enmeshed in sin and blindness.

For when we had been created by God the Father, and had received from
Him all manner of good, the devil came and led us into disobedience,
sin, death, and all evil, so that we fell under His wrath and
displeasure and were doomed to eternal damnation, as we had merited and
deserved. There was no counsel, help, or comfort until this only and
eternal Son of God in His unfathomable goodness had compassion upon our
misery and wretchedness, and came from heaven to help us. Those tyrants
and jailers, then, are all expelled now, and in their place has come
Jesus Christ, Lord of life, righteousness, every blessing, and
salvation, and has delivered us poor lost men from the jaws of hell,
has won us, made us free, and brought us again into the favor and grace
of the Father, and has taken us as His own property under His shelter
and protection, that He may govern us by His righteousness, wisdom,
power, life, and blessedness.

Let this then, be the sum of this article that the little word Lord
signifies simply as much as Redeemer, i.e., He who has brought us from
Satan to God, from death to life, from sin to righteousness, and who
preserves us in the same. But all the points which follow in order in
this article serve no other end than to explain and express this
redemption, how and whereby it was accomplished, that is, how much it
cost Him, and what He spent and risked that He might win us and bring
us under His dominion, namely, that He became man, conceived and born
without [any stain of] sin, of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary,
that He might overcome sin; moreover, that He suffered, died and was
buried, that He might make satisfaction for me and pay what I owe, not
with silver nor gold, but with His own precious blood. And all this, in
order to become my Lord; for He did none of these for Himself, nor had
He any need of it. And after that He rose again from the dead,
swallowed up and devoured death, and finally ascended into heaven and
assumed the government at the Father's right hand, so that the devil
and all powers must be subject to Him and lie at His feet, until
finally, at the last day, He will completely part and separate us from
the wicked world, the devil, death, sin, etc.

But to explain all these single points separately belongs not to brief
sermons for children, but rather to the ampler sermons that extend
throughout the entire year, especially at those times which are
appointed for the purpose of treating at length of each article -- of
the birth, sufferings, resurrection, ascension of Christ, etc.

Ay, the entire Gospel which we preach is based on this, that we
properly understand this article as that upon which our salvation and
all our happiness rest, and which is so rich and comprehensive that we
never can learn it fully.

Article III.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Christian Church, the communion
of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and
the life everlasting. Amen.

This article (as I have said) I cannot relate better than to
Sanctification, that through the same the Holy Ghost, with His office,
is declared and depicted, namely, that He makes holy. Therefore we must
take our stand upon the word Holy Ghost, because it is so precise and
comprehensive that we cannot find another. For there are, besides, many
kinds of spirits mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, as, the spirit of
man, heavenly spirits, and evil spirits. But the Spirit of God alone is
called Holy Ghost, that is, He who has sanctified and still sanctifies
us. For as the Father is called Creator, the Son Redeemer, so the Holy
Ghost, from His work, must be called Sanctifier, or One that makes
holy. But how is such sanctifying done? Answer: Just as the Son obtains
dominion, whereby He wins us, through His birth, death, resurrection,
etc., so also the Holy Ghost effects our sanctification by the
following parts, namely, by the communion of saints or the Christian
Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the
life everlasting; that is, He first leads us into His holy
congregation, and places us in the bosom of the Church, whereby He
preaches to us and brings us to Christ.

For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on
Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and
granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the
Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and
gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc.
But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it
would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie
buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go
forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this
treasure home and appropriate it to us. Therefore sanctifying is
nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good, to which
we could not attain of ourselves.

Learn, then, to understand this article most clearly. If you are
asked: What do you mean by the words: I believe in the Holy Ghost? you
can answer: I believe that the Holy Ghost makes me holy, as His name
implies. But whereby does He accomplish this, or what are His method
and means to this end? Answer: By the Christian Church, the forgiveness
of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. For,
in the first place, He has a peculiar congregation in the world, which
is the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of
God, which He reveals and preaches, [and through which] He illumines
and enkindles hearts, that they understand, accept it, cling to it, and
persevere in it.

For where He does not cause it to be preached and made alive in the
heart, so that it is understood, it is lost, as was the case under the
Papacy, where faith was entirely put under the bench, and no one
recognized Christ as his Lord or the Holy Ghost as his Sanctifier, that
is, no one believed that Christ is our Lord in the sense that He has
acquired this treasure for us, without our works and merit, and made us
acceptable to the Father. What, then, was lacking? This, that the Holy
Ghost was not there to reveal it and cause it to be preached; but men
and evil spirits were there, who taught us to obtain grace and be saved
by our works. Therefore it is not a Christian Church either; for where
Christ is not preached, there is no Holy Ghost who creates, calls, and
gathers the Christian Church, without which no one can come to Christ
the Lord. Let this suffice concerning the sum of this article. But
because the parts which are here enumerated are not quite clear to the
simple, we shall run over them also.

The Creed denominates the holy Christian Church, communionem
sanctorum, a communion of saints; for both expressions, taken
together, are identical. But formerly the one [the second] expression
was not there, and it has been poorly and unintelligibly translated
into German eine Gemeinschaft der Heiligen, a communion of saints. If
it is to be rendered plainly, it must be expressed quite differently in
the German idiom; for the word ecclesia properly means in German eine
Versammlung, an assembly. But we are accustomed to the word church, by
which the simple do not understand an assembled multitude, but the
consecrated house or building, although the house ought not to be
called a church, except only for the reason that the multitude
assembles there. For we who assemble there make and choose for
ourselves a particular place, and give a name to the house according to
the assembly.

Thus the word Kirche (church) means really nothing else than a common
assembly and is not German by idiom, but Greek (as is also the word
ecclesia); for in their own language they call it kyria, as in Latin it
is called curia. Therefore in genuine German, in our mother-tongue, it
ought to be called a Christian congregation or assembly (eine
christliche Gemeinde oder Sammlung), or, best of all and most clearly,
holy Christendom (eine heilige Christenheit).

So also the word communio, which is added, ought not to be rendered
communion (Gemeinschaft), but congregation (Gemeinde). And it is
nothing else than an interpretation or explanation by which some one
meant to explain what the Christian Church is. This our people, who
understood neither Latin nor German, have rendered Gemeinschaft der
Heiligen (communion of saints), although no German language speaks
thus, nor understands it thus. But to speak correct German, it ought to
be eine Gemeinde der Heiligen (a congregation of saints), that is, a
congregation made up purely of saints, or, to speak yet more plainly,
eine heilige Gemeinde, a holy congregation. I say this in order that
the words Gemeinschaft der Heiligen (communion of saints) may be
understood, because the expression has become so established by custom
that it cannot well be eradicated, and it is treated almost as heresy
if one should attempt to change a word.

But this is the meaning and substance of this addition: I believe that
there is upon earth a little holy group and congregation of pure
saints, under one head, even Christ, called together by the Holy Ghost
in one faith, one mind, and understanding, with manifold gifts, yet
agreeing in love, without sects or schisms. I am also a part and member
of the same a sharer and joint owner of all the goods it possesses,
brought to it and incorporated into it by the Holy Ghost by having
heard and continuing to hear the Word of God, which is the beginning of
entering it. For formerly, before we had attained to this, we were
altogether of the devil, knowing nothing of God and of Christ. Thus,
until the last day, the Holy Ghost abides with the holy congregation or
Christendom, by means of which He fetches us to Christ and which He
employs to teach and preach to us the Word, whereby He works and
promotes sanctification, causing it [this community] daily to grow and
become strong in the faith and its fruits which He produces.

We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of
sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution,
moreover, through all manner of consolatory promises of the entire
Gospel. Therefore, whatever is to be preached concerning the Sacraments
belongs here, and, in short, the whole Gospel and all the offices of
Christianity, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing.
For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and
sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in
the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we
bear about with us we are never without sin.

Everything, therefore, in the Christian Church is ordered to the end
that we shall daily obtain there nothing but the forgiveness of sin
through the Word and signs, to comfort and encourage our consciences as
long as we live here. Thus, although we have sins, the [grace of the]
Holy Ghost does not allow them to injure us, because we are in the
Christian Church, where there is nothing but [continuous,
uninterrupted] forgiveness of sin, both in that God forgives us, and in
that we forgive, bear with, and help each other.

But outside of this Christian Church, where the Gospel is not, there is
no forgiveness, as also there can be no holiness [sanctification].
Therefore all who seek and wish to merit holiness [sanctification], not
through the Gospel and forgiveness of sin, but by their works, have
expelled and severed themselves [from this Church].

Meanwhile, however, while sanctification has begun and is growing
daily, we expect that our flesh will be destroyed and buried with all
its uncleanness, and will come forth gloriously, and arise to entire
and perfect holiness in a new eternal life. For now we are only half
pure and holy, so that the Holy Ghost has ever [some reason why] to
continue His work in us through the Word, and daily to dispense
forgiveness, until we attain to that life where there will be no more
forgiveness, but only perfectly pure and holy people, full of godliness
and righteousness, removed and free from sin, death, and all evil, in a
new, immortal, and glorified body.

Behold, all this is to be the office and work of the Holy Ghost, that
He begin and daily increase holiness upon earth by means of these two
things, the Christian Church and the forgiveness of sin. But in our
dissolution He will accomplish it altogether in an instant, and will
forever preserve us therein by the last two parts.

But the term Auferstehung des Fleisches (resurrection of the flesh)
here employed is not according to good German idiom. For when we
Germans hear the word Fleisch (flesh), we think no farther than of the
shambles. But in good German idiom we would say Auferstehung des
Leibes, or Leichnams (resurrection of the body). However, it is not a
matter of much moment, if we only understand the words aright.

This, now, is the article which must ever be and remain in operation.
For creation we have received; redemption, too, is finished. But the
Holy Ghost carries on His work without ceasing to the last day. And for
that purpose He has appointed a congregation upon earth by which He
speaks and does everything. For He has not yet brought together all His
Christian Church nor dispensed forgiveness. Therefore we believe in Him
who through the Word daily brings us into the fellowship of this
Christian Church, and through the same Word and the forgiveness of sins
bestows, increases, and strengthens faith in order that when He has
accomplished it all, and we abide therein, and die to the world and to
all evil, He may finally make us perfectly and forever holy; which now
we expect in faith through the Word.

Behold, here you have the entire divine essence, will, and work
depicted most exquisitely in quite short and yet rich words wherein
consists all our wisdom, which surpasses and exceeds the wisdom, mind,
and reason of all men. For although the whole world with all diligence
has endeavored to ascertain what God is, what He has in mind and does,
yet has she never been able to attain to [the knowledge and
understanding of] any of these things. But here we have everything in
richest measure; for here in all three articles He has Himself revealed
and opened the deepest abyss of his paternal heart and of His pure
unutterable love. For He has created us for this very object, that He
might redeem and sanctify us; and in addition to giving and imparting
to us everything in heaven and upon earth, He has given to us even His
Son and the Holy Ghost, by whom to bring us to Himself. For (as
explained above) we could never attain to the knowledge of the grace
and favor of the Father except through the Lord Christ, who is a mirror
of the paternal heart, outside of whom we see nothing but an angry and
terrible Judge. But of Christ we could know nothing either, unless it
had been revealed by the Holy Ghost.

These articles of the Creed, therefore, divide and separate us
Christians from all other people upon earth. For all outside of
Christianity, whether heathen, Turks, Jews, or false Christians and
hypocrites, although they believe in, and worship, only one true God,
yet know not what His mind towards them is, and cannot expect any love
or blessing from Him; therefore they abide in eternal wrath and
damnation. For they have not the Lord Christ, and, besides, are not
illumined and favored by any gifts of the Holy Ghost.

From this you perceive that the Creed is a doctrine quite different
from the Ten Commandments; for the latter teaches indeed what we ought
to do, but the former tells what God does for us and gives to us.
Moreover, apart from this, the Ten Commandments are written in the
hearts of all men; the Creed, however, no human wisdom can comprehend,
but it must be taught by the Holy Ghost alone. The latter doctrine [of
the Law], therefore makes no Christian, for the wrath and displeasure
of God abide upon us still, because we cannot keep what God demands of
us; but this [namely, the doctrine of faith] brings pure grace, and
makes us godly and acceptable to God. For by this knowledge we obtain
love and delight in all the commandments of God, because here we see
that God gives Himself entire to us, with all that He has and is able
to do, to aid and direct us in keeping the Ten Commandments -- the
Father, all creatures; the Son, His entire work; and the Holy Ghost,
all His gifts.

Let this suffice concerning the Creed to lay a foundation for the
simple, that they may not be burdened, so that, if they understand the
substance of it, they themselves may afterwards strive to acquire more,
and to refer to these parts whatever they learn in the Scriptures, and
may ever grow and increase in richer understanding. For as long as we
live here, we shall daily have enough to do to preach and to learn

Part Third. OF PRAYER.

The Lord's Prayer.

We have now heard what we must do and believe, in which things the best
and happiest life consists. Now follows the third part, how we ought to
pray. For since we are so situated that no man can perfectly keep the
Ten Commandments, even though he have begun to believe, and since the
devil with all his power together with the world and our own flesh,
resists our endeavors, nothing is so necessary as that we should
continually resort to the ear of God, call upon Him, and pray to Him,
that He would give, preserve, and increase in us faith and the
fulfillment of the Ten Commandments, and that He would remove
everything that is in our way and opposes us therein. But that we might
know what and how to pray, our Lord Christ has Himself taught us both
the mode and the words, as we shall see.

But before we explain the Lord's Prayer part by part, it is most
necessary first to exhort and incite people to prayer, as Christ and
the apostles also have done. And the first matter is to know that it is
our duty to pray because of God's commandment. For thus we heard in the
Second Commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of the lord, thy God,
in vain, that we are there required to praise that holy name, and call
upon it in every need, or to pray. For to call upon the name of God is
nothing else than to pray. Prayer is therefore as strictly and
earnestly commanded as all other commandments: to have no other God,
not to kill, not to steal, etc. Let no one think that it is all the
same whether he pray or not, as vulgar people do, who grope in such
delusion and ask Why should I pray? Who knows whether God heeds or will
hear my prayer? If I do not pray, some one else will. And thus they
fall into the habit of never praying, and frame a pretext, as though we
taught that there is no duty or need of prayer, because we reject false
and hypocritical prayers.

But this is true indeed that such prayers as have been offered
hitherto when men were babbling and bawling in the churches were no
prayers. For such external matters, when they are properly observed,
may be a good exercise for young children, scholars, and simple
persons, and may be called singing or reading, but not really praying.
But praying, as the Second Commandment teaches, is to call upon God in
every need. This He requires of us, and has not left it to our choice.
But it is our duty and obligation to pray if we would be Christians, as
much as it is our duty and obligation to obey our parents and the
government; for by calling upon it and praying the name of God is
honored and profitably employed. This you must note above all things,
that thereby you may silence and repel such thoughts as would keep and
deter us from prayer. For just as it would be idle for a son to say to
his father, "Of what advantage is my obedience? I will go and do what
I can; it is all the same"; but there stands the commandment, Thou
shalt and must do it, so also here it is not left to my will to do it
or leave it undone, but prayer shall and must be offered at the risk of
God's wrath and displeasure.

This is therefore to be understood and noted before everything else, in
order that thereby we may silence and repel the thoughts which would
keep and deter us from praying, as though it were not of much
consequence if we do not pray, or as though it were commanded those who
are holier and in better favor with God than we; as, indeed, the human
heart is by nature so despondent that it always flees from God and
imagines that He does not wish or desire our prayer, because we are
sinners and have merited nothing but wrath. Against such thoughts (I
say) we should regard this commandment and turn to God, that we may not
by such disobedience excite His anger still more. For by this
commandment He gives us plainly to understand that He will not cast us
from Him nor chase us away, although we are sinners, but rather draw
us to Himself, so that we might humble ourselves before Him, bewail
this misery and plight of ours, and pray for grace and help. Therefore
we read in the Scriptures that He is angry also with those who were
smitten for their sin, because they did not return to Him and by their
prayers assuage His wrath and seek His grace.

Now, from the fact that it is so solemnly commanded to pray, you are to
conclude and think, that no one should by any means despise his prayer,
but rather set great store by it, and always seek an illustration from
the other commandments. A child should by no means despise his
obedience to father and mother, but should always think: This work is a
work of obedience, and what I do I do with no other intention than that
I may walk in the obedience and commandment of God, on which I can
settle and stand firm, and esteem it a great thing, not on account of
my worthiness, but on account of the commandment. So here also, what
and for what we pray we should regard as demanded by God and done in
obedience to Him, and should reflect thus: On my account it would
amount to nothing; but it shall avail, for the reason that God has
commanded it. Therefore everybody, no matter what he has to say in
prayer, should always come before God in obedience to this commandment.

We pray, therefore, and exhort every one most diligently to take this
to heart and by no means to despise our prayer. For hitherto it has
been taught thus in the devil's name that no one regarded these things,
and men supposed it to be sufficient to have done the work, whether God
would hear it or not. But that is staking prayer on a risk, and
murmuring it at a venture, and therefore it is a lost prayer. For we
allow such thoughts as these to lead us astray and deter us: I am not
holy or worthy enough; if I were as godly and holy as St. Peter or St.
Paul, then I would pray. But put such thoughts far away, for just the
same commandment which applied to St. Paul applies also to me; and the
Second Commandment is given as much on my account as on his account, so
that he can boast of no better or holier commandment.

Therefore you should say: My prayer is as precious, holy, and pleasing
to God as that of St. Paul or of the most holy saints. This is the
reason: For I will gladly grant that he is holier in his person, but
not on account of the commandment; since God does not regard prayer on
account of the person, but on account of His word and obedience
thereto. For on the commandment on which all the saints rest their
prayer I, too, rest mine. Moreover I pray for the same thing for which
they all pray and ever have prayed; besides, I have just as great a
need of it as those great saints, yea, even a greater one than they.

Let this be the first and most important point, that all our prayers
must be based and rest upon obedience to God, irrespective of our
person, whether we be sinners or saints, worthy or unworthy. And we
must know that God will not have it treated as a jest, but be angry,
and punish all who do not pray, as surely as He punishes all other
disobedience; next, that He will not suffer our prayers to be in vain
or lost. For if He did not intend to answer your prayer, He would not
bid you pray and add such a severe commandment to it.

In the second place, we should be the more urged and incited to pray
because God has also added a promise, and declared that it shall surely
be done to us as we pray, as He says Ps. 50, 15: Call upon Me in the
day of trouble: I will deliver thee. And Christ in the Gospel of St.
Matthew, 7, 7: Ask, and it shall be given you. For every one that
asketh receiveth. Such promises ought certainly to encourage and kindle
our hearts to pray with pleasure and delight, since He testifies with
His [own] word that our prayer is heartily pleasing to Him, moreover,
that it shall assuredly be heard and granted, in order that we may not
despise it or think lightly of it, and pray at a venture.

This you can hold up to Him and say: Here I come, dear Father, and
pray, not of my own purpose nor upon my own worthiness, but at Thy
commandment and promise, which cannot fail or deceive me. Whoever,
therefore, does not believe this promise must know again that he
excites God to anger as a person who most highly dishonors Him and
reproaches Him with falsehood.

Besides this, we should be incited and drawn to prayer because in
addition to this commandment and promise God anticipates us, and
Himself arranges the words and form of prayer for us, and places them
upon our lips as to how and what we should pray, that we may see how
heartily He pities us in our distress, and may never doubt that such
prayer is pleasing to Him and shall certainly be answered; which [the
Lord's Prayer] is a great advantage indeed over all other prayers that
we might compose ourselves. For in them the conscience would ever be in
doubt and say: I have prayed, but who knows how it pleases Him, or
whether I have hit upon the right proportions and form? Hence there is
no nobler prayer to be found upon earth than the Lord's Prayer which we
daily pray because it has this excellent testimony, that God loves to
hear it, which we ought not to surrender for all the riches of the

And it has been prescribed also for this reason that we should see and
consider the distress which ought to urge and compel us to pray without
ceasing. For whoever would pray must have something to present, state,
and name which he desires; if not, it cannot be called a prayer.

Therefore we have rightly rejected the prayers of monks and priests,
who howl and growl day and night like fiends; but none of them think of
praying for a hair's breadth of anything. And if we would assemble all
the churches, together with all ecclesiastics, they would be obliged to
confess that they have never from the heart prayed for even a drop of
wine. For none of them has ever purposed to pray from obedience to God
and faith in His promise, nor has any one regarded any distress, but
(when they had done their best) they thought no further than this, to
do a good work, whereby they might repay God, as being unwilling to
take anything from Him, but wishing only to give Him something.

But where there is to be a true prayer there must be earnestness. Men
must feel their distress, and such distress as presses them and compels
them to call and cry out then prayer will be made spontaneously, as it
ought to be, and men will require no teaching how to prepare for it and
to attain to the proper devotion. But the distress which ought to
concern us most, both as regards ourselves and every one, you will find
abundantly set forth in the Lord's Prayer. Therefore it is to serve
also to remind us of the same, that we contemplate it and lay it to
heart, lest we become remiss in prayer. For we all have enough that we
lack, but the great want is that we do not feel nor see it. Therefore
God also requires that you lament and plead such necessities and wants,
not because He does not know them, but that you may kindle your heart
to stronger and greater desires, and make wide and open your cloak to
receive much.

Therefore, every one of us should accustom himself from his youth
daily to pray for all his wants, whenever he is sensible of anything
affecting his interests or that of other people among whom he may live,
as for preachers, the government, neighbors, domestics, and always (as
we have said) to hold up to God His commandment and promise, knowing
that He will not have them disregarded. This I say because I would like
to see these things brought home again to the people that they might
learn to pray truly, and not go about coldly and indifferently, whereby
they become daily more unfit for prayer; which is just what the devil
desires, and for what he works with all his powers. For he is well
aware what damage and harm it does him when prayer is in proper
practice. For this we must know, that all our shelter and protection
rest in prayer alone. For we are far too feeble to cope with the devil
and all his power and adherents that set themselves against us, and
they might easily crush us under their feet. Therefore we must consider
and take up those weapons with which Christians must be armed in order
to stand against the devil. For what do you think has hitherto
accomplished such great things, has checked or quelled the counsels,
purposes, murder, and riot of our enemies, whereby the devil thought to
crush us, together with the Gospel, except that the prayer of a few
godly men intervened like a wall of iron on our side? They should else
have witnessed a far different tragedy, namely, how the devil would
have destroyed all Germany in its own blood. But now they may
confidently deride it and make a mock of it, however, we shall
nevertheless be a match both for themselves and the devil by prayer
alone, if we only persevere diligently and not become slack. For
whenever a godly Christian prays: Dear Father let Thy will be done, God
speaks from on high and says: Yes, dear child, it shall be so, in spite
of the devil and all the world.

Let this be said as an exhortation, that men may learn, first of all,
to esteem prayer as something great and precious, and to make a proper
distinction between babbling and praying for something. For we by no
means reject prayer, but the bare, useless howling and murmuring we
reject, as Christ Himself also rejects and prohibits long palavers. Now
we shall most briefly and clearly treat of the Lord's Prayer. Here
there is comprehended in seven successive articles, or petitions, every
need which never ceases to relate to us, and each so great that it
ought to constrain us to keep praying it all our lives.

The First Petition.

Hallowed be Thy name.

This is, indeed, somewhat obscure, and not expressed in good German,
for in our mother-tongue we would say: Heavenly Father, help that by
all means Thy name may be holy. But what is it to pray that His name
may be holy? Is it not holy already? Answer: Yes, it is always holy in
its nature, but in our use it is not holy. For God's name was given us
when we became Christians and were baptized, so that we are called
children of God and have the Sacraments by which He so incorporates us
in Himself that everything which is God's must serve for our use.

Here now the great need exists for which we ought to be most
concerned, that this name have its proper honor, be esteemed holy and
sublime as the greatest treasure and sanctuary that we have; and that
as godly children we pray that the name of God, which is already holy
in heaven, may also be and remain holy with us upon earth and in all
the world.

But how does it become holy among us? Answer, as plainly as it can be
said: When both our doctrine and life are godly and Christian. For
since in this prayer we call God our Father, it is our duty always to
deport and demean ourselves as godly children, that He may not receive
shame, but honor and praise from us.

Now the name of God is profaned by us either in words or in works. (For
whatever we do upon the earth must be either words or works, speech or
act.) In the first place, then, it is profaned when men preach, teach,
and speak in the name of God what is false and misleading, so that His
name must serve to adorn and to find a market for falsehood. That is,
indeed, the greatest profanation and dishonor of the divine name.
Furthermore, also when men, by swearing, cursing, conjuring, etc.,
grossly abuse the holy name as a cloak for their shame. In the second
place also by an openly wicked life and works, when those who are
called Christians and the people of God are adulterers, drunkards,
misers, envious, and slanderers. Here again must the name of God come
to shame and be profaned because of us. For just as it is a shame and
disgrace to a natural father to have a bad perverse child that opposes
him in words and deeds, so that on its account he suffers contempt and
reproach, so also it brings dishonor upon God if we who are called by
His name and have all manner of goods from Him teach, speak, and live
in any other manner except as godly and heavenly children, so that
people say of us that we must be not God's, but the devil's children.

Thus you see that in this petition we pray just for that which God
demands in the Second Commandment; namely, that His name be not taken
in vain to swear, curse, lie, deceive, etc., but be usefully employed
to the praise and honor of God. For whoever employs the name of God for
any sort of wrong profanes and desecrates this holy name, as aforetime
a church was considered desecrated when a murder or any other crime had
been committed in it, or when a pyx or relic was desecrated, as being
holy in themselves, yet become unholy in use. Thus this point is easy
and clear if only the language is understood, that to hallow is the
same as in our idiom to praise, magnify, and honor both in word and

Here, now, learn how great need there is of such prayer. For because we
see how full the world is of sects and false teachers, who all wear the
holy name as a cover and sham for their doctrines of devils, we ought
by all means to pray without ceasing, and to cry and call upon God
against all such as preach and believe falsely and whatever opposes and
persecutes our Gospel and pure doctrine, and would suppress it, as
bishops, tyrants, enthusiasts, etc. Likewise also for ourselves who
have the Word of God, but are not thankful for it, nor live as we
ought according to the same. If now you pray for this with your heart,
you can be sure that it pleases God; for He will not hear anything more
dear to Him than that His honor and praise is exalted above everything
else, and His Word is taught in its purity and is esteemed precious and

The Second Petition.

Thy kingdom come.

As we prayed in the First Petition concerning the honor and name of God
that He would prevent the world from adorning its lies and wickedness
with it, but cause it to be esteemed sublime and holy both in doctrine
and life, so that He may be praised and magnified in us, so here we
pray that His kingdom also may come. But just as the name of God is in
itself holy, and we pray nevertheless that it be holy among us, so also
His kingdom comes of itself, without our prayer, yet we pray
nevertheless that it may come to us, that is, prevail among us and with
us, so that we may be a part of those among whom His name is hallowed
and His kingdom prospers.

But what is the kingdom of God? Answer: Nothing else than what we
learned in the Creed, that God sent His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, into
the world to redeem and deliver us from the power of the devil, and to
bring us to Himself, and to govern us as a King of righteousness, life
and salvation against sin death, and an evil conscience, for which end
He has also bestowed His Holy Ghost, who is to bring these things home
to us by His holy Word, and to illumine and strengthen us in the faith
by His power.

Therefore we pray here in the first place that this may become
effective with us, and that His name be so praised through the holy
Word of God and a Christian life that both we who have accepted it may
abide and daily grow therein, and that it may gain approbation and
adherence among other people and proceed with power throughout the
world, that many may find entrance into the Kingdom of Grace, be made
partakers of redemption, being led thereto by the Holy Ghost, in order
that thus we may all together remain forever in the one kingdom now

For the coming of God's Kingdom to us occurs in two ways; first, here
in time through the Word and faith; and secondly, in eternity forever
through revelation. Now we pray for both these things, that it may come
to those who are not yet in it, and, by daily increase, to us who have
received the same, and hereafter in eternal life. All this is nothing
else than saying: Dear Father, we pray, give us first Thy Word, that
the Gospel be preached properly throughout the world; and secondly,
that it be received in faith, and work and live in us, so that through
the Word and the power of the Holy Ghost Thy kingdom may prevail among
us, and the kingdom of the devil be put down, that he may have no right
or power over us, until at last it shall be utterly destroyed, and sin,
death, and hell shall be exterminated, that we may live forever in
perfect righteousness and blessedness.

From this you perceive that we pray here not for a crust of bread or a
temporal, perishable good, but for an eternal inestimable treasure and
everything that God Himself possesses; which is far too great for any
human heart to think of desiring if He had not Himself commanded us to
pray for the same. But because He is God, He also claims the honor of
giving much more and more abundantly than any one can comprehend, --
like an eternal, unfailing fountain, which, the more it pours forth and
overflows, the more it continues to give, -- and He desires nothing
more earnestly of us than that we ask much and great things of Him, and
again is angry if we do not ask and pray confidently.

For just as when the richest and most mighty emperor would bid a poor
beggar ask whatever he might desire, and were ready to give great
imperial presents, and the fool would beg only for a dish of gruel, he
would be rightly considered a rogue and a scoundrel who treated the
command of his imperial majesty as a jest and sport, and was not worthy
of coming into his presence: so also it is a great reproach and
dishonor to God if we, to whom He offers and pledges so many
unspeakable treasures, despise the same, or have not the confidence to
receive them, but scarcely venture to pray for a piece of bread.

All this is the fault of the shameful unbelief which does not look to
God for as much good as will satisfy the stomach, much less expects
without doubt such eternal treasures of God. Therefore we must
strengthen ourselves against it, and let this be our first prayer;
then, indeed, we shall have all else in abundance, as Christ teaches
[Matt. 6, 33]: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
and all these things shall be added unto you. For how could He allow us
to suffer want and to be straitened in temporal things when He promises
that which is eternal and imperishable?

The Third Petition.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Thus far we have prayed that God's name be honored by us, and that His
kingdom prevail among us; in which two points is comprehended all that
pertains to the honor of God and to our salvation, that we receive as
our own God and all His riches. But now a need just as great arises,
namely, that we firmly keep them, and do not suffer ourselves to be
torn therefrom. For as in a good government it is not only necessary
that there be those who build and govern well, but also those who make
defense, afford protection and maintain it firmly, so here likewise,
although we have prayed for the greatest need, for the Gospel, faith,
and the Holy Ghost, that He may govern us and redeem us from the power
of the devil, we must also pray that His will be done. For there will
be happenings quite strange if we are to abide therein, as we shall
have to suffer many thrusts and blows on that account from everything
that ventures to oppose and prevent the fulfillment of the two
petitions that precede.

For no one believes how the devil opposes and resists them, and cannot
suffer that any one teach or believe aright. And it hurts him beyond
measure to suffer his lies and abominations, that have been honored
under the most specious pretexts of the divine name, to be exposed, and
to be disgraced himself, and, besides, be driven out of the heart, and
suffer such a breach to be made in his kingdom. Therefore he chafes and
rages as a fierce enemy with all his power and might, and marshals all
his subjects, and, in addition enlists the world and our own flesh as
his allies. For our flesh is in itself indolent and inclined to evil,
even though we have accepted and believe the Word of God. The world,
however, is perverse and wicked; this he incites against us, fans and
stirs the fire, that he may hinder and drive us back, cause us to
fall, and again bring us under his power. Such is all his will, mind,
and thought, for which he strives day and night, and never rests a
moment, employing all arts, wiles, ways, and means whichever he can

If we would be Christians, therefore, we must surely expect and reckon
upon having the devil with all his angels and the world as our enemies,
who will bring every possible misfortune and grief upon us. For where
the Word of God is preached, accepted, or believed, and produces fruit,
there the holy cross cannot be wanting. And let no one think that he
shall have peace; but he must risk what whatever he has upon earth --
possessions, honor. house and estate, wife and children, body and life.
Now, this hurts our flesh and the old Adam; for the test is to be
steadfast and to suffer with patience in whatever way we are assailed,
and to let go whatever is taken from us.

Hence there is just as great need, as in all the others, that we pray
without ceasing: "Dear Father, Thy will be done, not the will of the
devil and of our enemies, nor of anything that would persecute and
suppress Thy holy Word or hinder Thy kingdom; and grant that we may
bear with patience and overcome whatever is to be endured on that
account, lest our poor flesh yield or fall away from weakness or

Behold, thus we have in these three petitions, in the simplest manner,
the need which relates to God Himself, yet all for our sakes. For
whatever we pray concerns only us, namely, as we have said, that what
must be done anyway without us, may also be done in us. For as His name
must be hallowed and His kingdom come without our prayer, so also His
will must be done and succeed although the devil with all his adherents
raise a great tumult, are angry and rage against it, and undertake to
exterminate the Gospel utterly. But for our own sakes we must pray that
even against their fury His will be done without hindrance also among
us, that they may not be able to accomplish anything and we remain firm
against all violence and persecution, and submit to such will of God.

Such prayer, then, is to be our protection and defense now, is to
repel and put down all that the devil, Pope, bishops, tyrants, and
heretics can do against our Gospel. Let them all rage and attempt their
utmost, and deliberate and resolve how they may suppress and
exterminate us, that their will and counsel may prevail: over and
against this one or two Christians with this petition alone shall be
our wall against which they shall run and dash themselves to pieces.
This consolation and confidence we have, that the will and purpose of
the devil and of all our enemies shall and must fail and come to
naught, however proud, secure, and powerful they know themselves to be.
For if their will were not broken and hindered, the kingdom of God
could not abide on earth nor His name be hallowed.

The Fourth Petition.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Here, now, we consider the poor breadbasket, the necessaries of our
body and of the temporal life. It is a brief and simple word, but it
has a very wide scope. For when you mention and pray for daily bread,
you pray for everything that is necessary in order to have and enjoy
daily bread and, on the other hand, against everything which interferes
with it. Therefore you must open wide and extend your thoughts not only
to the oven or the flour-bin but to the distant field and the entire
land, which bears and brings to us daily bread and every sort of
sustenance. For if God did not cause it to grow, and bless and preserve
it in the field, we could never take bread from the oven or have any to
set upon the table.

To comprise it briefly, this petition includes everything that belongs
to our entire life in the world, because on that account alone do we
need daily bread. Now for our life it is not only necessary that our
body have food and covering and other necessaries, but also that we
spend our days in peace and quiet among the people with whom we live
and have intercourse in daily business and conversation and all sorts
of doings, in short, whatever pertains both to the domestic and to the
neighborly or civil relation and government. For where these two things
are hindered [intercepted and disturbed] that they do not prosper as
they ought, the necessaries of life also are impeded, so that
ultimately life cannot be maintained. And there is, indeed, the
greatest need to pray for temporal authority and government, as that by
which most of all God preserves to us our daily bread and all the
comforts of this life. For though we have received of God all good
things in abundance we are not able to retain any of them or use them
in security and happiness, if He did not give us a permanent and
peaceful government. For where there are dissension, strife, and war,
there the daily bread is already taken away, or at least checked.

Therefore it would be very proper to place in the coat-of-arms of
every pious prince a loaf of bread instead of a lion, or a wreath of
rue, or to stamp it upon the coin, to remind both them and their
subjects that by their office we have protection and peace, and that
without them we could not eat and retain our daily bread. Therefore
they are also worthy of all honor, that we give to them for their
office what we ought and can, as to those through whom we enjoy in
peace and quietness what we have, because otherwise we would not keep a
farthing; and that, in addition, we also pray for them that through
them God may bestow on us the more blessing and good.

Let this be a very brief explanation and sketch, showing how far this
petition extends through all conditions on earth. Of this any one might
indeed make a long prayer, and with many words enumerate all the things
that are included therein, as that we pray God to give us food and
drink, clothing, house, and home, and health of body; also that He
cause the grain and fruits of the field to grow and mature well;
furthermore, that He help us at home towards good housekeeping, that He
give and preserve to us a godly wife, children, and servants, that He
cause our work, trade, or whatever we are engaged in to prosper and
succeed, favor us with faithful neighbors and good friends, etc.
Likewise, that He give to emperors, kings, and all estates, and
especially to the rulers of our country and to all counselors,
magistrates, and officers, wisdom, strength, and success that they may
govern well and vanquish the Turks and all enemies; to subjects and the
common people, obedience, peace, and harmony in their life with one
another, and on the other hand, that He would preserve us from all
sorts of calamity to body and livelihood, as lightning, hail, fire,
flood, poison, pestilence, cattle-plague, war and bloodshed, famine,
destructive beasts, wicked men, etc. All this it is well to impress
upon the simple, namely, that these things come from God, and must be
prayed for by us.

But this petition is especially directed also against our chief enemy,
the devil. For all his thought and desire is to deprive us of all that
we have from God, or to hinder it; and he is not satisfied to obstruct
and destroy spiritual government in leading souls astray by his lies
and bringing them under his power, but he also prevents and hinders the
stability of all government and honorable, peaceable relations on
There he causes so much contention, murder, sedition, and war also
lightning and hail to destroy grain and cattle, to poison the air, etc.
In short, he is sorry that any one has a morsel of bread from God and
eats it in peace; and if it were in his power, and our prayer (next to
God) did not prevent him, we would not keep a straw in the field, a
farthing in the house, yea, not even our life for an hour, especially
those who have the Word of God and would like to be Christians.

Behold, thus God wishes to indicate to us how He cares for us in all
our need, and faithfully provides also for our temporal support. and
although He abundantly grants and preserves these things even to the
wicked and knaves, yet He wishes that we pray for them, in order that
we may recognize that we receive them from His hand, and may feel His
paternal goodness toward us therein. For when He withdraws His hand,
nothing can prosper nor be maintained in the end, as, indeed, we daily
see and experience. How much trouble there is now in the world only on
account of bad coin, yea, on account of daily oppression and raising of
prices in common trade, bargaining and labor on the part of those who
wantonly oppress the poor and deprive them of their daily bread! This
we must suffer indeed; but let them take care that they do not lose the
common intercession, and beware lest this petition in the Lord's Prayer
be against them.

The Fifth Petition.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass
against us.

This part now relates to our poor miserable life, which, although we
have and believe the Word of God, and do and submit to His will, and
are supported by His gifts and blessings is nevertheless not without
sin. For we still stumble daily and transgress because we live in the
world among men who do us much harm and give us cause for impatience,
anger, revenge, etc. Besides, we have Satan at our back, who sets upon
us on every side, and fights (as we have heard) against all the
foregoing petitions, so that it is not possible always to stand firm in
such a persistent conflict.

Therefore there is here again great need to call upon God and to pray:
Dear Father, forgive us our trespasses. Not as though He did not
forgive sin without and even before our prayer (for He has given us the
Gospel, in which is pure forgiveness before we prayed or ever thought
about it). But this is to the intent that we may recognize and accept
such forgiveness. For since the flesh in which we daily live is of such
a nature that it neither trusts nor believes God, and is ever active in
evil lusts and devices, so that we sin daily in word and deed, by
commission and omission by which the conscience is thrown into unrest,
so that it is afraid of the wrath and displeasure of God, and thus
loses the comfort and confidence derived from the Gospel; therefore it
is ceaselessly necessary that we run hither and obtain consolation to
comfort the conscience again.

But this should serve God's purpose of breaking our pride and keeping
us humble. For in case any one should boast of his godliness and
despise others, God has reserved this prerogative to Himself, that the
person is to consider himself and place this prayer before his eyes,
and he will find that he is no better than others, and that in the
presence of God all must lower their plumes, and be glad that they can
attain forgiveness. And let no one think that as long as we live here
he can reach such a position that he will not need such forgiveness. In
short, if God does not forgive without ceasing, we are lost.

It is therefore the intent of this petition that God would not regard
our sins and hold up to us what we daily deserve, but would deal
graciously with us, and forgive, as He has promised, and thus grant us
a joyful and confident conscience to stand before Him in prayer. For
where the heart is not in right relation towards God, nor can take such
confidence, it will nevermore venture to pray. But such a confident and
joyful heart can spring from nothing else than the [certain] knowledge
of the forgiveness of sin.

But there is here attached a necessary, yet consolatory addition: As we
forgive. He has promised that we shall be sure that everything is
forgiven and pardoned, yet in the manner that we also forgive our
neighbor. For just as we daily sin much against God and yet He forgives
everything through grace, so we, too, must ever forgive our neighbor
who does us injury, violence, and wrong, shows malice toward us, etc.
If, therefore you do not forgive, then do not think that God forgives
you; but if you forgive, you have this consolation and assurance, that
you are forgiven in heaven, not on account of your forgiving, -- for
God forgives freely and without condition, out of pure grace, because
He has so promised, as the Gospel teaches, -- but in order that He may
set this up for our confirmation and assurance for a sign alongside of
the promise which accords with this prayer, Luke 6, 37: Forgive, and ye
shall be forgiven. Therefore Christ also repeats it soon after the
Lord's Prayer, and says, Matt. 6,14: For if ye forgive men their
trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, etc.

This sign is therefore attached to this petition, that, when we pray,
we remember the promise and reflect thus: Dear Father, for this reason
I come and pray Thee to forgive me, not that I can make satisfaction,
or can merit anything by my works, but because Thou hast promised and
attached the seal thereto that I should be as sure as though I had
absolution pronounced by Thyself. For as much as Baptism and the Lord's
Supper appointed as external signs, effect, so much also this sign can
effect to confirm our consciences and cause them to rejoice. And it is
especially given for this purpose, that we might use and practice it
every hour, as a thing that we have with us at all times.

The Sixth Petition.

And lead us not into temptation.

We have now heard enough what toil and labor is required to retain all
that for which we pray, and to persevere therein, which, however, is
not achieved without infirmities and stumbling. Besides, although we
have received forgiveness and a good conscience and are entirely
acquitted, yet is our life of such a nature that one stands to-day and
to-morrow falls. Therefore, even though we be godly now and stand
before God with a good conscience, we must pray again that He would not
suffer us to relapse and yield to trials and temptations.

Temptation, however, or (as our Saxons in olden times used to call it)
Bekoerunge, is of three kinds, namely, of the flesh, of the world and
of the devil. For in the flesh we dwell and carry the old Adam about
our neck, who exerts himself and incites us daily to inchastity,
laziness, gluttony and drunkenness, avarice and deception, to defraud
our neighbor and to overcharge him, and, in short, to all manner of
evil lusts which cleave to us by nature, and to which we are incited by
the society, example and what we hear and see of other people, which
often wound and inflame even an innocent heart.

Next comes the world, which offends us in word and deed, and impels us
to anger and impatience. In short, there is nothing but hatred and
envy, enmity, violence and wrong, unfaithfulness, vengeance, cursing,
raillery slander, pride and haughtiness, with superfluous finery,
honor, fame, and power, where no one is willing to be the least, but
every one desires to sit at the head and to be seen before all.

Then comes the devil, inciting and provoking in all directions, but
especially agitating matters that concern the conscience and spiritual
affairs, namely, to induce us to despise and disregard both the Word
and works of God to tear us away from faith, hope, and love and bring
us into misbelief, false security, and obduracy, or, on the other hand,
to despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and innumerable other shocking
things. These are indeed snares and nets, yea, real fiery darts which
are shot most venomously into the heart, not by flesh and blood, but by
the devil.

Great and grievous, indeed, are these dangers and temptations which
every Christian must bear, even though each one were alone by himself,
so that every hour that we are in this vile life where we are attacked
on all sides, chased and hunted down, we are moved to cry out and to
pray that God would not suffer us to become weary and faint and to
relapse into sin, shame, and unbelief. For otherwise it is impossible
to overcome even the least temptation.

This, then, is leading us not into temptation, to wit, when He gives us
power and strength to resist, the temptation, however, not being taken
away or removed. For while we live in the flesh and have the devil
about us, no one can escape temptation and allurements; and it cannot
be otherwise than that we must endure trials, yea, be engulfed in them;
but we pray for this, that we may not fall and be drowned in them.

To feel temptation is therefore a far different thing from consenting
or yielding to it. We must all feel it, although not all in the same
manner, but some in a greater degree and more severely than others; as,
the young suffer especially from the flesh, afterwards, they that
attain to middle life and old age, from the world, but others who are
occupied with spiritual matters, that is, strong Christians, from the
devil. But such feeling, as long as it is against our will and we would
rather be rid of it, can harm no one. For if we did not feel it, it
could not be called a temptation. But to consent thereto is when we
give it the reins and do not resist or pray against it.

Therefore we Christians must be armed and daily expect to be
incessantly attacked, in order that no one may go on in security and
heedlessly, as though the devil were far from us, but at all times
expect and parry his blows. For though I am now chaste, patient, kind,
and in firm faith, the devil will this very hour send such an arrow
into my heart that I can scarcely stand. For he is an enemy that never
desists nor becomes tired, so that when one temptation ceases, there
always arise others and fresh ones.

Accordingly, there is no help or comfort except to run hither and to
take hold of the Lord's Prayer, and thus speak to God from the heart:
Dear Father, Thou hast bidden me pray; let me not relapse because of
temptations. Then you will see that they must desist, and finally
acknowledge themselves conquered. Else if you venture to help yourself
by your own thoughts and counsel, you will only make the matter worse
and give the devil more space. For he has a serpent's head, which if it
gain an opening into which he can slip, the whole body will follow
without check. But prayer can prevent him and drive him back.

The Seventh and Last Petition.

But deliver us from evil. Amen. In the Greek text this petition reads
thus: Deliver or preserve us from the Evil One, or the Malicious One;
and it looks as if He were speaking of the devil, as though He would
comprehend everything in one so that the entire substance of all our
prayer is directed against our chief enemy. For it is he who hinders
among us everything that we pray for: the name or honor of God, God's
kingdom and will, our daily bread, a cheerful good conscience, etc.

Therefore we finally sum it all up and say: Dear Father pray, help that
we be rid of all these calamities. But there is nevertheless also
included whatever evil may happen to us under the devil's kingdom --
poverty, shame, death, and, in short, all the agonizing misery and
heartache of which there is such an unnumbered multitude on the earth.
For since the devil is not only a liar, but also a murderer, he
constantly seeks our life, and wreaks his anger whenever he can afflict
our bodies with misfortune and harm. Hence it comes that he often
breaks men's necks or drives them to insanity, drowns some, and incites
many to commit suicide, and to many other terrible calamities.
Therefore there is nothing for us to do upon earth but to pray against
this arch enemy without ceasing. For unless God preserved us, we would
not be safe from him even for an hour.

Hence you see again how God wishes us to pray to Him also for all the
things which affect our bodily interests, so that we seek and expect
help nowhere else except in Him. But this matter He has put last; for
if we are to be preserved and delivered from all evil, the name of God
must first be hallowed in us, His kingdom must be with us, and His will
be done. After that He will finally preserve us from sin and shame,
and, besides, from everything that may hurt or injure us.

Thus God has briefly placed before us all the distress which may ever
come upon us, so that we might have no excuse whatever for not praying.
But all depends upon this, that we learn also to say Amen, that is,
that we do not doubt that our prayer is surely heard and [what we pray]
shall be done. For this is nothing else than the word of undoubting
faith, which does not pray at a venture, but knows that God does not
lie to him, since He has promised to grant it. Therefore, where there
is no such faith, there cannot be true prayer either.

It is, therefore, a pernicious delusion of those who pray in such a
manner that they dare not from the heart say yea and positively
conclude that God hears them, but remain in doubt and say, How should I
be so bold as to boast that God hears my prayer? For I am but a poor
sinner, etc.

The reason for this is, they regard not the promise of God, but their
own work and worthiness, whereby they despise God and reproach Him with
lying, and therefore they receive nothing. As St. James says [1, 6]:
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is
like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. For let not
that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. Behold, such
importance God attaches to the fact that we are sure we do not pray in
vain, and that we do not in any way despise our prayer.

Part Fourth.


We have now finished the three chief parts of the common Christian
doctrine. Besides these we have yet to speak of our two Sacraments
instituted by Christ, of which also every Christian ought to have at
least an ordinary, brief instruction, because without them there can be
no Christian; although, alas! hitherto no instruction concerning them
has been given. But, in the first place, we take up Baptism, by which
we are first received into the Christian Church. However, in order that
it may be readily understood we will treat of it in an orderly manner,
and keep only to that which it is necessary for us to know. For how it
is to be maintained and defended against heretics and sects we will
commend to the learned.

In the first place, we must above all things know well the words upon
which Baptism is founded, and to which everything refers that is to be
said on the subject, namely, where the Lord Christ speaks in the last
chapter of Matthew, v. 19:

Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Likewise in St. Mark, the last chapter, v. 16:

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that
believeth not shall be damned .

In these words you must note, in the first place, that here stand
God's commandment and institution, lest we doubt that Baptism is
divine, not devised nor invented by men. For as truly as I can say, No
man has spun the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer out
of his head, but they are revealed and given by God Himself, so also I
can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God
Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that
we must be baptized or we cannot be saved, lest any one regard it as a
trifling matter, like putting on a new red coat. For it is of the
greatest importance that we esteem Baptism excellent, glorious, and
exalted, for which we contend and fight chiefly, because the world is
now so full of sects clamoring that Baptism is an external thing, and
that external things are of no benefit. But let it be ever so much an
external thing here stand God's Word and command which institute,
establish, and confirm Baptism. But what God institutes and commands
cannot be a vain, but must be a most precious thing, though in
appearance it were of less value than a straw. If hitherto people could
consider it a great thing when the Pope with his letters and bulls
dispensed indulgences and confirmed altars and churches, solely because
of the letters and seals, we ought to esteem Baptism much more highly
and more precious, because God has commanded it, and, besides, it is
performed in His name. For these are the words, Go ye baptize; however,
not in your name, but in the name of God.

For to be baptized in the name of God is to be baptized not by men, but
by God Himself. Therefore although it is performed by human hands, it
is nevertheless truly God's own work. From this fact every one may
himself readily infer that it is a far higher work than any work
performed by a man or a saint. For what work greater than the work of
God can we do?

But here the devil is busy to delude us with false appearances, and
lead us away from the work of God to our own works. For there is a much
more splendid appearance when a Carthusian does many great and
difficult works and we all think much more of that which we do and
merit ourselves. But the Scriptures teach thus: Even though we collect
in one mass the works of all the monks, however splendidly they may
shine, they would not be as noble and good as if God should pick up a
straw. Why? Because the person is nobler and better. Here, then, we
must not estimate the person according to the works, but the works
according to the person, from whom they must derive their nobility. But
insane reason will not regard this, and because Baptism does not shine
like the works which we do, it is to be esteemed as nothing.

From this now learn a proper understanding of the subject, and how to
answer the question what Baptism is, namely thus, that it is not mere
ordinary water, but water comprehended in God's Word and command, and
sanctified thereby, so that it is nothing else than a divine water; not
that the water in itself is nobler than other water, but that God's
Word and command are added.

Therefore it is pure wickedness and blasphemy of the devil that now our
new spirits, to mock at Baptism, omit from it God's Word and
institution, and look upon it in no other way than as water which is
taken from the well, and then blather and say: How is a handful of
water to help the soul? Aye, my friend, who does not know that water is
water if tearing things asunder is what we are after? But how dare you
thus interfere with God's order, and tear away the most precious
treasure with which God has connected and enclosed it, and which He
will not have separated? For the kernel in the water is God's Word or
command and the name of God which is a treasure greater and nobler than
heaven and earth.

Comprehend the difference, then, that Baptism is quite another thing
than all other water; not on account of the natural quality, but
because something more noble is here added; for God Himself stakes His
honor His power and might on it. Therefore it is not only natural
water, but a divine, heavenly, holy, and blessed water, and in whatever
other terms we can praise it, -- all on account of the Word, which is a
heavenly, holy Word, that no one can sufficiently extol, for it has,
and is able to do, all that God is and can do [since it has all the
virtue and power of God comprised in it]. Hence also it derives its
essence as a Sacrament, as St. Augustine also taught: Accedat verbum ad
elementum et fit sacramentum. That is, when the Word is joined to the
element or natural substance, it becomes a Sacrament, that is, a holy
and divine matter and sign.

Therefore we always teach that the Sacraments and all external things
which God ordains and institutes should not be regarded according to
the coarse, external mask, as we regard the shell of a nut, but as the
Word of God is included therein. For thus we also speak of the parental
estate and of civil government. If we propose to regard them in as far
as they have noses, eyes, skin, and hair flesh and bones, they look
like Turks and heathen, and some one might start up and say: Why should
I esteem them more than others? But because the commandment is added:
Honor thy father and thy mother, I behold a different man, adorned and
clothed with the majesty and glory of God. The commandment (I say) is
the chain of gold about his neck, yea, the crown upon his head which
shows to me how and why one must honor this flesh and blood.

Thus, and much more even, you must honor Baptism and esteem it
glorious on account of the Word, since He Himself has honored it both
by words and deeds; moreover, confirmed it with miracles from heaven.
For do you think it was a jest that, when Christ was baptized, the
heavens were opened and the Holy Ghost descended visibly, and
everything was divine glory and majesty?

Therefore I exhort again that these two the water and the Word, by no
means be separated from one another and parted. For if the Word is
separated from it, the water is the same as that with which the servant
cooks, and may indeed be called a bath-keeper's baptism. But when it is
added, as God has ordained, it is a Sacrament, and is called
Christ-baptism. Let this be the first part regarding the essence and
dignity of the holy Sacrament.

In the second place, since we know now what Baptism is, and how it is
to be regarded, we must also learn why and for what purpose it is
instituted; that is, what it profits, gives and works. And this also we
cannot discern better than from the words of Christ above quoted: He
that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Therefore state it most
simply thus, that the power, work, profit, fruit, and end of Baptism is
this, namely, to save. For no one is baptized in order that he may
become a prince, but, as the words declare, that he be saved. But to be
saved. we know. is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death,
and the devil, and to enter into the kingdom of Christ, and to live
with Him forever.

Here you see again how highly and precious we should esteem Baptism,
because in it we obtain such an unspeakable treasure, which also
indicates sufficiently that it cannot be ordinary mere water. For mere
water could not do such a thing, but the Word does it, and (as said
above) the fact that the name of God is comprehended therein. But where
the name of God is, there must be also life and salvation, that it may
indeed be called a divine, blessed, fruitful, and gracious water; for
by the Word such power is imparted to Baptism that it is a laver of
regeneration, as St. Paul also calls it, Titus 3, 5.

But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves,
and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is
true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall
hear still further. But these blind guides are unwilling to see this,
namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of
which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith
clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is
pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently
stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and
institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I
believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has
given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this
external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?

Now, they are so mad as to separate faith and that to which faith
clings and is bound though it be something external. Yea, it shall and
must be something external, that it may be apprehended by the senses,
and understood and thereby be brought into the heart, as indeed the
entire Gospel is an external, verbal preaching. In short, what God does
and works in us He proposes to work through such external ordinances.
Wherever, therefore, He speaks, yea, in whichever direction or by
whatever means He speaks, thither faith must look, and to that it must
hold. Now here we have the words: He that believeth and is baptized
shall be saved. To what else do they refer than to Baptism, that is, to
the water comprehended in God's ordinance? Hence it follows that
whoever rejects Baptism rejects the Word of God, faith, and Christ, who
directs us thither and binds us to Baptism.

In the third place since we have learned the great benefit and power of
Baptism, let us see further who is the person that receives what
Baptism gives and profits. This is again most beautifully and clearly
expressed in the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be
saved. That is, faith alone makes the person worthy to receive
profitably the saving, divine water. For, since these blessings are
here presented and promised in the words in and with the water, they
cannot be received in any other way than by believing them with the
heart. Without faith it profits nothing, notwithstanding it is in
itself a divine superabundant treasure. Therefore this single word (He
that believeth) effects this much that it excludes and repels all
works which we can do, in the opinion that we obtain and merit
salvation by them. For it is determined that whatever is not faith
avails nothing nor receives anything.

But if they say, as they are accustomed: Still Baptism is itself a
work, and you say works are of no avail for salvation; what then,
becomes of faith? Answer: Yes, our works, indeed, avail nothing for
salvation; Baptism, however, is not our work, but God's (for, as was
stated, you must put Christ-baptism far away from a bath-keeper's
baptism). God's works, however, are saving and necessary for salvation,
and do not exclude, but demand, faith; for without faith they could not
be apprehended. For by suffering the water to be poured upon you, you
have not yet received Baptism in such a manner that it benefits you
anything; but it becomes beneficial to you if you have yourself
baptized with the thought that this is according to God's command and
ordinance, and besides in God's name, in order that you may receive in
the water the promised salvation. Now, this the fist cannot do, nor the
body; but the heart must believe it.

Thus you see plainly that there is here no work done by us, but a
treasure which He gives us, and which faith apprehends; just as the
Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure
comprehended in the Word, and offered to us and received by faith.
Therefore they do us violence by exclaiming against us as though we
preach against faith; while we alone insist upon it as being of such
necessity that without it nothing can be received nor enjoyed.

Thus we have these three parts which it is necessary to know
concerning this Sacrament especially that the ordinance of God is to be
held in all honor, which alone would be sufficient, though it be an
entirely external thing like the commandment, Honor thy father and thy
mother, which refers to bodily flesh and blood. Therein we regard not
the flesh and blood, but the commandment of God in which they are
comprehended, and on account of which the flesh is called father and
mother; so also, though we had no more than these words, Go ye and
baptize, etc., it would be necessary for us to accept and do it as the
ordinance of God. Now there is here not only God's commandment and
injunction, but also the promise, on account of which it is still far
more glorious than whatever else God has commanded and ordained, and
is, in short, so full of consolation and grace that heaven and earth
cannot comprehend it. But it requires skill to believe this, for the
treasure is not wanting, but this is wanting that men apprehend it and
hold it firmly.

Therefore every Christian has enough in Baptism to learn and to
practice all his life; for he has always enough to do to believe
firmly what it promises and brings: victory over death and the devil,
forgiveness of sin, the grace of God, the entire Christ, and the Holy
Ghost with His gifts. In short, it is so transcendent that if timid
nature could realize it, it might well doubt whether it could be true.
For consider, if there were somewhere a physician who understood the
art of saving men from dying, or, even though they died, of restoring
them speedily to life, so that they would thereafter live forever, how
the world would pour in money like snow and rain, so that because of
the throng of the rich no one could find access! But here in Baptism
there is brought free to every one's door such a treasure and medicine
as utterly destroys death and preserves all men alive.

Thus we must regard Baptism and make it profitable to ourselves, that
when our sins and conscience oppress us, we strengthen ourselves and
take comfort and say: Nevertheless I am baptized; but if I am baptized,
it is promised me that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in
soul and body. For that is the reason why these two things are done in
Baptism namely, that the body, which can apprehend nothing but the

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