TO the highborn and noble Sebastian Schlick, Count of Passum, Prince of Elbogen, etc., his superior in Christ, writeth Martin Luther of the Church of Wittenberg.
Grace and peace in Christ. For more than three years (O noble Count) the furious people of the Pope pretend that I have fled to Bohemia; something they are very anxious to hear, these men of war, that they may triumph in the mere report, and boast and say, We have conquered; the heretic has fled to the other heretics.
For that senseless, ignorant and monstrous body of the Papacy,--after it perceives itself overcome by learning and truth, and sees the whole unclean, crowd of its dunces unable to stand against Luther alone,--torments itself and consumes itself with this one longing that I should flee into Bohemia. For so at last they may console themselves by abusing me as an alien, and representing themselves as terrible giants, who (thanks to their ignorance and evil conscience) none dare contend with.
I have appeared three times already before them, and the last time I went to Worms even though I knew that the public assurance given to me had been broken by their Caesar; for the German princes, who formerly were praised for keeping faith, have now (in obedience to the Roman idol) become experts in breaking their word, to the eternal disgrace of our nation.
And so that fugitive and fool-headed Luther has dared to jump into the circle of the teeth of Behemoth! And what have the terrible giants been doing? For the past three years there has not been found one of them who would come to us to Wittenberg and stand up against us although assured of our good faith and protection (for we were going to do all things under the presidency of their Caesar). And yet this effeminate and cowardly crew dare to hope for a triumph, and a covering up of their shameful cowardice, by my flight into Bohemia, to which they give world-wide celebrity, while they themselves because of their mental unpreparedness and timidity do not dare to come out into the open against Luther by his lone half.
What do you think these feeble Bulls would avail them if they were compelled to stand themselves against the adversary of their Caesar, and against his powerful opponents? We should see them fleeing in all directions, these wretched creatures, who now whimper to one another in their holes like mice: Luther is planning flight!
The King of England after the same fashion in his book blabbers much about my flight into Bohemia,--a mighty wise man is this who believes his book will be victorious, and worthily written, if Luther has only fled to Bohemia. So senseless and effeminate is the hate of this stolid King!
Although my soul burns to see Bohemia, and the religion so hated by our papist monsters, nevertheless I have kept away hitherto and will keep away, not because I fear the shame of the name, which that riff-raff of men, the Papists, have cast perfidiously and insultingly on a most renowned nation. For the Bohemians had a most just reason for deserting those murderers and anti-christs after they, who were themselves sevenfold heretics, had burned that innocent man, John Huss, and had sacrilegiously condemned the two kinds in the Sacrament as instituted by Christ. This is why this nation is hated by the Papists, who never acknowledge the cruel murder done by the scarlet woman, nor their sacrilege in condemning the Gospel; nay, they go on keeping their rage burning, and heaping shame (with which they in God's sight are covered) on a foreign and innocent nation.
I do not fear the shame of the name Bohemian, which is glorious in the sight of God; but Christ has placed me here that I may torment the papist monsters, while they find nothing in me of which they can make public use in vomiting forth their unbelievable animosity. Christ wishes them to be tormented by their own hatred, and destroyed by their own malice.
I await them therefore here, and am ready to meet their impotent rage. I will irritate and torment them as long as I live; and if they kill me, I will torment them many times more. For I have been given unto them by my Lord Christ as a sign that whether they spare me, or kill me, their infuriated conscience will have no grace, no peace, no solace. They will have a double affliction, the torment of their present hatred, and that which it is earning for them,--the eternal torment of Gehenna. The consummation of the abominable Papacy is at hand; from its fate it has no escape, and (as Daniel says) it is coming to its end and no man will help it. Thus we; are both of us boiling over, they with extreme madness, I with supreme contempt; but my courage in Christ will conquer their latest fury that is already waning.
In fact I am planning another kind of flight into Bohemia, that the papist soothsayers may not prophesy what is entirely untrue, but may suffer a greater oppression of spirit according to what was said to Moses: I will provoke them to anger by a nation that is not a nation, and by a foolish nation I will stir them up. For merely by my books in a short while (Christ helping me) I will bring it to pass that the Bohemians will be set free from their reproach, and that the Papists alone in the earth will have an abominable name, nay, will become a curse and an anathema. Not that I approve of all that the Bohemians do. I know nothing of their affairs and am told that there are sects among them; but I will bring it about that the Papists compared with them will be a world-wide disgust and nausea, since they themselves are nothing else but sects, the Franciscans alone having about six sects.
These things I write to you, O noble Hero, that I may take the beginning of my flight as far as to thee, who dost reign in the outskirts of Bohemia, in the part next to Germany, so that by thee, and thy good offices, I may finally proceed into the whole territory of Bohemia. The lay-King having written to his most sacred Pontiff, I, who was once in my misery one of the Pope's clergy, ought to write to the most Christian of laymen. For I hear you have a burning seal for the pure Gospel truth, and are driving the abominations and scandals of the Roman pestilence from your dominion. Go on with this good work, O most renowned Hero; for so will be abolished the shame of the name Bohemia, and the harlot will have her unclean lies and fornications cast back into her bosom, so that her shame to her eternal disgrace may be revealed to the whole world. Let this be the beginning of my flight, this hope of an excellent example which the rest of the Bohemian heroes and magistrates shall follow. So I shall not only make a flight into Bohemia, but I shall dwell there, even if this fury of the strange woman should burn me. But her hatred I shall at the same time both kindle and conquer in Christ. No more shall she prosper. Christ has so resolved. Amen.
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve and strengthen thee, thou good Hero, for ever. Amen.
Wittenberg, July 15, 1522.
WITH such blindness and madness has our Lord Jesus Christ stricken the whole kingdom of the papist abomination, that for three years now the Cyclops of their infinite host, warring on Luther alone, are still at a loss to understand for what reason I am at war with them. In vain do all the books that I have edited and published testify that I seek this one thing only, which is that the divine Scriptures be given the pre-eminence, as is right and just, and that all human inventions and traditions be taken out of the way as most hurtful stumbling blocks. Or, having cut out their poison and plucked out their sting, that is, their power of forcing and commanding and snaring consciences being taken away, let them be freely and indifferently tolerated as in this world we have to tolerate any other pest or unhappiness.
For afflicted with chronic insanity they bring nothing against me but the statutes of men, the glosses of the Father and the acts, or ritual, of past centuries, those very things which I deny and impugn and which they themselves confess to be untrustworthy and often erroneous. I dispute de iure, and they answer me de facto. I seek a cause; they show a work. I ask, By what authority do ye do this? They reply, Because we do it and have done it. So for reason they give their will, for authority their ritual. For right they allege their custom, and that in the things of God.
There is in their schools a most vicious method of arguing, which they call begging the question. This they learn and teach till grey-headed,--in fact, till burial,--with infinite sweat, with infinite trouble, poor unhappy men. But when they come to apply their teaching, they do nothing except viciously beg the question. And so when I exclaim: The Gospel, the Gospel, Christ, Christ; they reply, The Fathers, the Fathers, use, use, statute, statute!
When I say, the Fathers, use, statute have often erred; we must have a stronger and surer authority--Christ cannot err; then they are like the mute fishes, and become as the Scripture saith, like deaf adders that shut their ears lest they hear the \oice of the charmer. Or they reply thus to me, in words which they always have on the tip of their tongue: Ambrose saith so; art thou wiser than Ambrose? Do you alone know? And this is all they have to say. As though the question was between Ambrose's teaching and mine; or as though I could not answer: You misunderstand and misinterpret Ambrose. What is gained, I ask, by disputing with those who are blind and bad-tempered and utterly senseless?
Of such a character is the book of the King of England, who does nothing but perpetually cast in my teeth traditions of men, glosses of Fathers and use of past centuries. He rages, he curses, he is all vituperation and virus because I wish to be considered more learned, more holy and more important than all the rest of mankind. He is not content that I allow others such things for their free use, but this new God fixes as necessary articles of faith for us all whatever has been said or done by the custom of men, which articles unless I believe, he makes of me in his furious anger a heretic, or I know not what kind of monster. Where, pray, did this new God, the King of England, come from, this Creator of new articles of faith? Till now I have heard of but one God with the right to make articles of faith and to require belief in them.
In fact this new God, who goes beyond the other madmen, brings in a new madness. For the other madmen have endeavoured to pervert the Scriptures that I have brought forward and give them another meaning; but have dared nothing without alleging and boasting of Scripture support. But this new God, marvellously confident and cock-sure that owing to his divinity whatever he says must be done, or has already been done, testifies by his own confession that he wishes to set aside my chief foundation, and leave it for others to attack, whilst he only attacks what I have built on it. He wishes with straw and hay to fight against the rock of the word of God, so that one cannot tell whether he acts so from sheer madness, or whether Henry's stupidity is innate in Henry's head, justifying the proverb: A man must be born a King, or a fool. For what fool even would say: I will prove there are seven sacraments, but I will leave untouched the strongest argument of my adversary? You would think that this book had been written by the dearest enemy of the King to disgrace the King eternally.
But not to seem to treat with contempt the name of so great a King, and to answer a fool according to his folly, I will show his foolishness in a short treatise as far as my other occupations permit. At another time I will handle more fully and with proper seriousness the King's blasphemies and cursings. Nor does the fact that scarcely any one believes that this is the King's own book move me in the least degree. I am willing to grant that it is the King's, as its title declares it is, and to turn my attack against the fool-King, who has allowed the rascally sophists to use his name and fill the whole book with so many lies and such venom that it has expressed more exactly than could any picture that Lee, or the counterpart of that Lee [Wolsey],--the frozen freezing slimy sophist, the hog who is of the kind that his fat Thomist fellows love to have him in their company,--lest the English Pharoah should be without the support of a Jannes and a Jambres.
Then let not King Henry impute it to me but to himself if he meets with rough and harsh treatment at my hands. He does not come forth to battle with a royal mind, or with any drop of royal blood, but with a slavish and impudent and strumpet-like insolence and silliness, proving nothing by argument but only by cursings. And what is more disgraceful in a man, and especially in a man in the highest position, than openly and deliberately to be, so that you can recognize him as a Sophist, a creature of ignorance and virulence? He would deserve some consideration if he had erred like a man. But when knowingly and designedly this damnable and offensive worm forges lies against the Majesty of my King in Heaven, it is right for me, on behalf of my King, to spatter his Anglican royal highness with his own mud and filth, and cast down and trample under foot the crown that blasphemeth Christ.
Next since it is agreed that the Thomists are such a stupid and clearly lazy kind of Sophists, that nature has produced nothing more senseless or more slothful, and since our Henry wishes in this book to be regarded as a distinguished Thomist, sleeping and snoring over the sacramental character and efficacy of water, and uttering things exploded which in their academies his fellow Thomists are no longer able to tolerate, he seems to us to require to be wakened out of his sleep by some rough words (if by any means from his profound slumber he can be awakened) and to be told of his dreams and the vain imaginings of his drowsiness. For no other reason is this book of his so pleasing to our Sophist neighbors than that it is distinctively Thomist, and therefore our mouths who read it are munching their lettuces.
If I have trampled down for Christ's sake the idol of the Roman abomination after it had stood itself in the place of God and had made itself the ruler of Kings and of the whole world, who is this Henry, this new Thomist, this disciple of the idle monsters, that I should treat with respect his poisonous blasphemies? Let him be the Defender of the Church, but let him know that the Church which he boasts of and upholds, is the Church of the scarlet woman, drunk with the wine of her fornications. Both that Church and him, whom I consider its defender, I will attack with the same fierceness and, with Christ as my Leader, I will demolish them both. For I am certain that it is from heaven that I have my teachings; for they have triumphed against him [the devil] who in his little finger has more power and craftiness than have all Popes and Kings and Doctors put together. They will therefore accomplish nothing, who boast of their Bulls condemning me, with names and titles attached, and make much capital of their books attacking me, written by royal authors.
My teachings will stand, and the Pope will fall, although he should be supported by all the gates of hell and the powers of the air and the earth and the sea. They have provoked me to war; and war they shall have. They despised the offered peace, and therefore they shall not have peace. Let God see who will give in first, the Pope or Luther. So it is our pleasure in Christ to wax more proud day by day against these foolish and useless Rulers, the more that they choose to rage against us.
But before we come to the matter itself, I will first rid myself of two crimes, which the Thomist King, who is effeminately querulous, imputes to me. One is that I often contradict myself. This impudent lie against his own conscience is worked so hard, and repeated so often, throughout the whole book that it is quite evident that he did not write this book from he love of teaching, or (as he pretends) of proving that there are seven sacraments; but from the disease of his virulent mind, so that when in his stomach he could neither digest nor discharge downwards the poison and pus of the envy and malice he had conceived, he might find an occasion to vomit it out through his filthy mouth, caring for nothing except to fill with untruth the minds of men and excite against me universal hatred. It would have been disgraceful if even a lowborn strumpet had so lied and had so raged with such brazen impudence and such weakness of mind. Other conduct would have been more seemly for a Kingly mind and for one of royal blood. My second crime is that I have covered with my abuse the Pope and the Church, that is, have abused Satan's procurer and procuress and his sect, of which King Henry has lately been declared the Defender,--with indulgences!
With the object therefore, of exhibiting this lie to the world, it is worth while here to go over again in their order the things of which I have written. Of these things there are two kinds. The first kind consists of things which are taught in the sacred Scriptures, viz.:--
1 Of faith
2 Of love
3 Of hope
4 Of works
5 Of sufferings
6 Of baptism
7 Of penance
8 Of the Lord's supper
9 Of the law
10 Of sin
11 Of death
12 Of free will
13 Of grace
14 Of Christ
15 Of God
16 Of the last judgment
17 Of heaven
18 Of hell
19 Of the church
20 Of similar things
For these are the names of the things which a Christian man must know, and which are necessary to salvation. These I have treated in such a way that no one can accuse me of ever thinking otherwise than I thought from the beginning of my writing. I have never contradicted myself. I have always kept the same understanding with which I began, and been consistent with myself. The witnesses to this are my extant books, and all my readers who have read them. Another witness is the conscience of the King that condemns him when he lies about me.
Nay, who could believe that so great a King would not only dare to lie and boast that I contradict myself, but would even openly assert that I have so taught the faith that I both wish good works to cease and wish evil deeds to be permitted? As though there were not men alive who have read my writings, and can confute this impudent lie, while his own conscience convicts him, being one who confesses that he has read a great part of my writings. It is an utterly unworthy action that this King should have dared to answer me only with lies. He should have taken pains when about to write against heresies that he might not be found out in even the semblance of a lie. But now he has covered himself with lies. Who will believe any part whatever of his writing after he repeats and inculcates the same glaring lie throughout his whole book?
The offering of the viper keeps the inborn qualities of its nature, and imitates the example of its parents. For even against Paul, when he had taught that all the sons of Adam were justified without works, his enemies made the same accusation, as he writes in Romans (Chapter III): Some say we teach, Let us do evil that good may come. But what is the judgment upon them? Their damnation (he says) is just.
And what can I pronounce against my King, concerning his lie, except the same judgment of damnation?
There is another kind of things which are not found in Scripture, viz.:--
1 Of the papacy
2 Of the decrees of councils
3 Of doctors
4 Of indulgences
5 Of purgatory
6 Of the mass
7 Of academies
8 Of monastic vows
9 Of bishops as idols
10 Of traditions of men
11 Of the worship of saints
12 Of new sacraments
Although these are similar, they are tares sown by Satan, by means of the brains of his Roman idol, in the Lord's field. Without these tares the Church is not only in her most healthy state but she cannot even live unless she be without them, or be suffered to use them according to her own free will. For nothing more pestilent can be taught in a Church than to make those things necessary which are not necessary. For by this tyranny consciences are ensnared, and liberty in believing is extinguished. A lie is worshipped in place of the truth, an idol instead of God, and an abomination in lieu of holiness.
When therefore the sacred Scripture says nothing at all concerning these things, the mad Papists, the masters of lies and framers of idols, have started a business, worthy of themselves, which is to twist the whole of Scripture and deprave it into poisons and lies, so that those passages which taught us concerning faith had to have a Papacy created to interpret them; those which taught humility had to have set up beside them the pomp of tyranny, until they have succeeded with their unlimited lying in throwing everything into confusion, in abolishing the whole Scripture and establishing in its place the reign of a doctrine that is written out of the Roman heart, a heart possessed by that most wicked Satan. And so they have made the rock of the unconquerable faith to be the Papacy and the Pope, who have not only been overcome by disgusting errors and sins, but are being overwhelmed and absorbed by daily abominations. And so where Christ teaches no one is great in His Church except he be the servant of all, they have made a new nose for this saying, and have decreed that unless it be great nothing is of any worth in the Church of God.
As they were carrying on their abominations the Lord drew me in my rashness into the middle of the crowds, and in the matter of lying indulgences enabled me to extort certain passages of Scripture from Satan, as one might wrench the club from the hand of Hercules, and to restore the Scripture interpretation to its rightful meaning. Whereupon, O living God, how hot their fury began to boil, ready to mix heaven and earth and fire and water, unable to endure that some out-of-place feathers should be plucked from the crow, which they had prettily adorned to represent the Vicar of Christ.
Indeed I treated that crow at first very humbly and reverently, and was especially insistent that the Papacy was not a negligible thing; for I did not know then that it diametrically opposed all Scripture. I was content to expound the Scriptures only, and in the meantime to hold that the Papacy was in its character such as are the kingdoms and dominions of men. But they, hardened by long use of their tyranny and elated by the success up till now of their fraud (as Daniel calls it), despised my modesty and reverence and presumed to set up their idol in the place of God and intrude it into the very heart of the Scriptures. Then Christ gave me a spirit that despised both the fraud and the fury of the Papists, and brought it to pass that the more I saw into the Scriptures the more certainly I found this abomination had been foisted therein, until the thing coming to such a pitch by the hand of the mighty One that wrestled with Jacob, I became convinced by the clear and pure Scriptures that the Pope, the Cardinals, the Bishops, the Priests, the Monks, the Monasteries, the Masses and the whole of that organization, with their dogmas and rituals, was nothing else than mere shews, idols, gew-gaws, lies, and that abomination standing in the holy place, showing itself as though it were the true bishops and the real church, while all the time it was that same scarlet woman, who sits on the many-headed beast and makes the kings of the earth drunk with the cup of her fornications and abominations.
Of all these things Peter prophesied: False teachers shall bring heresies, denying the Lord who bought them, blaspheming the way of truth, and with feigned words shall make gain of you in their avarice (ii Pe. II). This sacrilegious people have all one obsession; they wish to justify themselves in God's presence by works, and not by faith alone. Whence it is necessary that Christ be denied and faith made of none effect, while lucre is increased, and the wealth of the whole world absorbed for their Masses and their Vigils. For thus do the perverse followers of the abomination pervert everything; the works, which they ought to use toward men, they offer to God; the faith, by which alone God is served, they offer to men.
They believe all the doctrines of men, but they do not believe God. They do good to no living man; they only do good to God.
And so, compelled by truth, I am driven to retract certain things that I have written, wherever I have written good things concerning the Papacy and concerning the things that are taught without Scripture warrant. Now at last I revoke these things, and am unfeignedly sorry that I ever wrote one syllable concerning the good of the Papacy, and of its rule. And I beg my readers diligently and wisely to beware of those errors of mine. Moreover that which made that bewitched Thomist King angry in my book on the Babylonish Captivity, I revoke, confessing that I said less than I should have said. It is giving too much honour and glory where I say: The Papacy is the mighty hunting party of the Bishop of Rome; for that example of Nimrod suits all those secular rulerships, to which God wishes us to be in subjection, to honour them, bless them and pray for them.
More truly I speak of the Papacy: The Papacy is the most pestilent abomination of Satan, its leader, that there ever was, or will be, under heaven. So I revoke my book on the Babylonish Captivity in favour of Lord Henry, the new Thomist, lest the majesty of the Thomist name should be impaired by excessive anger. This revocation this so learned and so terrible Thomist will extort from me. Should there be no power in his book itself to move Luther, the King has added threats, openly advising that this heretic unless he comes to his senses should be burned. In this he has acted most Thomist-like; for by these threats he was convinced that Luther would be terrified and would follow whatever lies and blather the Thomist tongue in this royal book should babble. In truth, while I live I will be the enemy of the Papacy; if I am burned, I will be twice its enemy. Do what ye can, ye Thomist swine. Ye will have Luther as a she-bear in your way and as a lioness in your path. He will attack you on all sides, and will give you no rest until he has broken in pieces your iron necks and brazen foreheads, either for your salvation or for your destruction. Till now it has been enough to have lost patience; from now on, since hardened and blinded ye continue to raise your horns and become of your own accord incorrigible and unreformable, let no one expect me to say anything against your deplorable state that is either honeyed or mild. For I wish you to be irritated more and more until all your strength and fury being exhausted ye fall down one on top of another. He that first silences the other, let him be the victor. As ye wish, so be it done to you.
But to return to that illustrious Thomist King, who condemns me for writing things contradictory, and for being nowhere consistent. He has shown, wretched scribbler, suffering from lack of matter, with what abusive words he can waste much paper, a royal work this no doubt. With what good faith he acts thus, let the reader judge from this fact, that the bewitched Thomist does not bring forth a single quotation, by way of example, with which to convict me of inconsistency. The glorious King is merely rhetorical after such fashion a» this: Luther contradicts himself, who therefore believes him? To have said so was sufficient for this new Defender of the Church and this new Divinity, recently set up in England. There was no need to give an example, lest Luther should be given an opportunity of clearing himself, and of handling the foolish King as becomes his Thomist dignity.
Since then it has pleased this mask of a King with worthless words, without quoting an example, to play the fool in a matter so serious and sacred, I state without mask and openly: The King of England, this Henry, clearly lies, and with his lies, acts the part of a comic jester rather than that of a king. Of this crime, I, Luther, openly accuse this evil-speaking Thomist, and by the testimony of my books and my world-wide readers, I convict him. Let his royal majesty and your humble servant be from now on discounted as far as I am concerned; I am speaking to a lying buffoon, hidden under a kingly title, and speaking concerning divine truths, which it is every Christian man's duty to protect from lying abuse. If the foolish King so much forgets his Kingship that he dares to come into public view with open lies, and does so while treating of sacred subjects, why is it not a right and proper thing for me to throw his lies back in his face, so that if he derives any pleasure from lying against the divine Majesty, he may lose it when he hears the truth about his own majesty?
Nor is this an occasion when I ought to consider being patient when this frivolous buffoon attacks with lies not me and my life (which I could have borne) but my teaching itself which I am very certain is not mine but Christ's. Let him blame himself and his lies if he is compelled to hear things unworthy of his Kingly name. His wicked mouth has deserved this; for he has blasphemed my King, Who is the King of glory.
For my teaching is in no particular contradictory, nor can be contradictory, because it is Christ's.
And everywhere throughout the world let it be now agreed that I have taught concerning faith, concerning love, concerning works, and concerning those things which the Spirit of Christ has taught, always with the same meaning, and that I have inculcated and written always the same things,--although by practice and daily study I have advanced more and more, and have treated these subjects now in one way and now in another instance more variously and more copiously, in the very same manner in which the sacred Scriptures treat these things themselves.
But if he means that I am not consistent in the things which I have treated outside of Scripture, namely concerning the Papacy, Indulgences, Masses and tares of this kind, from which at first I modestly dissented and afterwards utterly condemned (that I may pardon such a great king for this lie which is against the man Luther in merely human concerns), who is there that does not see his Thomist folly and stupidity? For in all his Thomist study he has never got so far as to know what is the meaning of dogmas conflicting or not conflicting. Come, my noble Thomist, to the school-master's whip, and I will teach you what is meant by conflicting dogmas.
If this is to conflict in dogmas, as the Thomist King declares, if a man should think otherwise, when he knows the truth and revokes his error, than he thought before, I ask which of our wisest and most holy men was ever consistent? We shall damn the whole epistles of Paul because after his conversion he calls dung what before, when he was in Judaism, he had considered to be gain. Let us damn also Augustine, who retracted many things in his book Retractions, and taught very differently from his first teaching. Nay, according to the inestimable wisdom of this King, let sinners cease repenting and changing their thoughts for the better, lest the angry King of England put out a book and damn them for their inconsistency and disagreement with their former selves.
And why does not the King consider himself in his wisdom? Why does he now drink wine, who once drank his nurse's milk? Why is he now armed with a sword, who once went in a boy's breeches? Why in fine doth he condemn me for what he does himself? For in this book of his he praises me because at first I approved of the Papacy, and then he damns me because I disapprove of it. Why was it not lawful for me to think otherwise of the Papacy than I once thought, and to change my errors for a better opinion? Who would ever believe that a King could rave in this absurd fashion? Unless he were a Thomist and had declared himself serious by his virulent lies, you might think he was jesting as in the days when he used to wear masks.
This rather is the meaning of conflicting dogmas, when at one and the same time you teach contradictory things, at the same time defending and maintaining both of them, and refusing to revoke, or condemn, either one of them. This is the way the insane Papists act when (in Matt. XVI) they make the Rock both Christ and the Pope, when Christ is holy and the Pope impious, and when holiness has as much in common with impiety as light with darkness, and Christ with Belial. For the Papacy only stands (or rather falls) by its inconsistent, contradictory and lying dogmas, which teach, assert and maintain both of these conflicting teachings at the same time.
Let the reader then see from this one argument how asinine is the ignorance of the Thomists, and how mentally puerile is their insolence, which does not allow them to understand their own words. And yet they dare to write a Defence of the Sacraments, and to boast of their fine bombast, which is the proof of their incredible lack of knowledge. For I think this book of the King's was written for this reason, that the world might never believe I had falsely accused the Sophists of folly and ignorance, especially the hogs that are among them (I mean the Thomists). For my judgment by this work and sign manual of theirs has received both demonstration and confirmation.
To the other vice with which the King taunts me, I mean my incisiveness, I reply that first he should have proved that my incisiveness was wrong and the papacy did not deserve it.
And why does Christ Himself (Matt. XXIII) attack the Scribes and Pharisees with such vehemence and call them hypocrites, blind, fools, full of uncleanness, hypocrisy and murder? And Paul, how often he speaks with vehemence against the concision (as he calls them), and the false prophets, who adulterate and corrupt the word of God, calling them dogs, deceitful workers, apostles of Satan, children of the devil, full of guile and malice, deceivers, grandiloquent, frequenters of houses and leaders astray of women? And will the flippant Thomist accuse them as he accuses me of hatred and pride?
Moreover in order to exhibit his Thomist brain and plebeian nature, he behaves like an actor on the stage and rages so against me with curses, accusations and lies throughout his whole book (and not one of his charges does he prove beforehand) that for no other reason does he seem to attack my incisiveness than to justify his fits of cursing in the eyes of his sordid fellow-Thomists and earn a Thomist aureole. Foolish dolt! He knew perfectly well that I believe the papacy to be anti-Christ's Kingdom, which even Job (III, 6) commands should be cursed by those who were ready to raise up Leviathan. And everywhere doth the Spirit command us to convict the world of the sin of impiety, and both commends, and requires from us, this holy and just incisiveness.
But the King, as though he had established the fact that the papacy was holy, rages against my bitterness with cart-loads of insults and maledictions. It is as I said; he has chosen to act the Thomist hypocrite and masquerader, and in the eyes of such it is extreme perfidy and the worst of heresies not to adore one's teachers as though they were angels of God, even though they are the pests of the whole earth. To pay no attention to their behest, this is indeed a crime that not even burning can sufficiently expiate. But I, who hitherto have been somewhat lenient toward the papist monsters, in the hope of their coming to their senses, now when I see of what kind of nature they are, given over to a reprobate mind and deplorably wilful, going to their own place with Pharoah their leader, I am resolved to use towards them no more modesty, no more pity. (Nor will I any longer permit my friends to bridle their pens, but will quietly despise them if they should do so.) If I have to treat with them, I will do it with all the violence that I can in order properly to irritate and anger them, the stupid blocks, the silly asses, the fatted swine, since they deserve no other consideration than to be brought to their punishment. And I will do this for the magnifying of Henry's Church and of Henry, its renowned Thomist Defender, lest he should be able to complain that with no result he has condemned my bitterness of speech with his holy curse.
Let us come now to the pith of the matter, and after the manner of Aristotle, who is the God of the Thomists, let us first in general and afterwards in particular argue on these subjects. The sum, the general and only strength of Henry's wisdom in this so royal little book of his, lies not in the authority of Scripture, nor the urgency of reason, but in that Thomist form of disputation: It seems so to me. I think so. I believe so.
And here let me record a story of my Amsdorff. The foolish King argues, as my Amsdorff is wont to tell concerning the Leipsic theologians, whose custom is when the Respondent has denied the assumption of his Opponent for the Opponent to prove it by saying, It ought to be so. When the Respondent again has denied it, then in the second place the reply is made: And how can it be otherwise? It must be so by right and by Thomist reasoning, because Henry has said so.
And so after I in my book on the Babylonish Captivity had especially attacked this general Thomist principle, and had set up the divine Scriptures against the ritual, usage and authority of men, our Lord King in his Thomist wisdom gives us nothing else than: It must be so; Usage has it so; Such is the ancient custom; So I believe; The Fathers have so written; The Church has so ordained, etc. Even if I were to write a thousand books more, and prove by the Scriptures that the usage and authority of men is of no value in matters in faith, it would be easy for the Thomist King to reply in a thousand books, and passing over the Scriptures brought forward by me to keep on repeating: It must be so; Usage has it so; The authority of men says so and says nothing else. If I were to answer, How do you prove the validity of man's usage and authority? He replies: It must be so; It seems so to me; So I believe; Are you alone wiser than all other men?
You see therefore, reader, these intractable blocks merely desire that one believe them only. I do not ask them to believe me; but to believe the clear word of God. They demand that we believe the worm-eaten product of their brain, old wives' tales; and they despise the word of God. Nor have I altogether denied either their usages or their authorities; but I want those things to be free and optional which are written outside the sacred Scriptures. I merely refuse to hold as necessary articles of faith those articles that are based on the words of I wish these to be tolerated which are well expressed and well put together without the testimony of Scripture, and T wish them to be tolerated without raising strife against them. But these blocks wish to make for us articles of faith out of every word of the Fathers, which is so far from being what these holy men intended to be done with their writings, that they could be offended with no greater blasphemy than that which is perpetrated while their free words and actions are made by these lethargic Thomists into necessary articles of faith, that is, are turned into lying snares to destroy men's souls.
Let this then be my general reply to all the bilge-water of this senseless Thomist crew, which the King scoops up into his book. I divide them into two kinds, in this way: If they maintain any use or authority of men which is clearly contrary to the Scriptures, let that use be anathema, that authority, that King, that Thomist, that Sophist, that Satan, nay, even that angel from heaven. For nothing should be of any worth which is against the Scriptures, but only what is in accord with them. Of this nature is the argument which the stolid King produces concerning the omission of the second part of the Sacrament, where he even contends in his Thomist folly that usage is able to make something into an article of faith, in face of the plainest statement of the Gospel, as we shall see.
From this madness none of the old heretics ever suffered; for till the present time the heretics made a specious use of Scripture, and none of them openly condemned it. It is only the Papists and Thomists, this worst of new abominations, who have taken on the brazen manner of the strumpet, so that they confess that thus and thus the sacred Scriptures state, and yet they will not allow men thus to think. Not even Satan himself so openly blasphemes and gives the lie to what is right, even in the very face of the Divine Majesty.
If any usage and authority of men be allowed, which are not repugnant to the Scriptures, I do not condemn them, but wish them to be treated with toleration with this one provision, that they do not interfere with Christian liberty, and that we have the option of following them, keeping them, or changing them when and wherever and how we please. But if they wish to take away from us this liberty, and try to establish them as articles of faith, again I say: Let him be anathema who has presumed to do this, whether he be a senseless Thomist, or foolish Papist, or a King, or a Pope. Such is the procedure which our Lord King urges for making into articles of faith his Sacraments of confirmation, matrimony, holy orders, extreme unction and the mixing of water in the wine, etc.
But to us, against this Thomist straw and stubble, those divine thunderbolts are more than overpowering, whereby Christ (Matt. XV) passes judgment on all the traditions of men, saying: In vain do they worship Me with the teachings and commandments of men. What avail the universal dregs of this demented Thomist against this one saying of Christ, that I may pass over many others recorded elsewhere? If what is commanded by men is but vain, how brazenly does this stolid King, from men's commands, make for us articles of faith! And so by this one saying of Christ is completely overthrown this unhappy, and wretched Defender of Henry's Church, and at the same time the whole of Henry's book.
Where do you stand, my Lord Henry? Produce your famous hook against Luther! What does your Lordship assert? Seven Sacraments? By what authority? God's or man's? Let then your Thomist Lordship hear this judgment, not of Luther but of Him before whom the world's foundations tremble: In vain do they worship Me with teachings of men. Let your Lordship go and teach their papal Lordships this vain faith and religion, and since thou knowest it so well, do thou defend it. But keep your Lordship's impure and sacrilegious words from the Church of God, where God's word only is admitted.
In fine, so foolish is this proposition of the King that it is repugnant even to common sense. For who does not laugh when in support of our Christian faith nothing is brought forward by these mighty Samsons except length of time and the usage of many men? How then shall we prove that the Turks' faith is erroneous since it has been in vogue now for about a thousand years, and arose before Germany was converted to Christianity? And is this sufficient reason why, not being able to convert them owing to their remoteness, we should find time to disparage what in our part of the world has come to light? For so who could not rightly justify the religion of the Jews, according to the method of this unconquerable Thomist, because it surpasses ours in length of time? And why should not the nations of the world be said, according to Henry of England, to have persecuted the new religion of Christ rightly? Their idolatry, according to this excellent Thomist argument, ought to be regarded as the true faith because it has the support of so many thousands of years, of so many different countries, and of such long-continued usage! Furthermore, taught by the same Henry, let us even assert that the errors of wicked men are the true faith, because since the beginning of the world they have surpassed in multitude, duration and power the few and insignificant congregations of those who were godly.
The sum of the whole matter is that if the sayings of men are able to be made into articles of faith, why should not my sayings be made articles of faith? Am I not a man? Moreover, according to this new Kingly wisdom, all men are compelled to believe the words of all other men. Then let the King himself, as a relief from writing, follow his own prescription and say: I am a man who say so; therefore it must be so; it cannot be otherwise. These arguments are foolish, ridiculous and very like Henry and the Thomists. Just as if the things of the spirit were to be measured by length of time and by use and by right, as though we were measuring an estate or a meadow! But if they say that their assertions in this matter are different from the assertions of others, because forsooth the assertions of the Papists are from the Holy Spirit, and those of others are from men, the Turk will laugh at this futile excuse, and will say: Inasmuch as this you maintain ivithout Scripture and without miracles, by the mere authority of man, you do no more than I would do if I also asserted that my faith was of God. And with the same readiness with which you condemn me, I also condemn your faith; and with the same authority with which you prove your faith, I also prove mine.
What are we to do now? except to let even fools see that our Thomist Henrys, in their notorious ignorance, have turned our faith into a subject of ridicule; and have strengthened the wickedness of the world; deserving therefore to have their tongue and hands cut off, so that they might never either speak or write again. But all this is done by that restless Satan in order that he may, by his wicked Henrys and sacrilegious Thomists, turn us away from the Scriptures, and fix our faith on the lies of men. For there is no longer any need of sacred Scripture, if it is sufficient for us to be supported by some new sayings of men found outside of the Scriptures.
But we, giving them our applause as most worthy defenders of the Papists' Church, at the same time say: Let him b& anathema and accursed who lays any other foundation for our faith than that which is laid already. For Paul (I Cor. II) sanctions with his great authority that our faith should rest upon the words of God when he says: My speech and my preaching were not with the persuasive words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and in power, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. With this thunder and thunder-bolt from heaven he shakes and scatters, as wind scatters dust, all the vapourings of this Henry in his most foolish book. For what else does the stolid Henry write than the persuasive words of man's wisdom, while he gives no demonstration of the Spirit, or of power; but prattles about length of time and the sayings and doings of men? He even has the daring and impudence to demand that we construct our faith on these human foundations, clearly attacking this divine utterance of Paul. Cursed therefore be, nay twice cursed, not only what the stolid Henry attempts, hut also the whole body of this Behemoth, this Kingdom of the Pope with all its dogmas, whereby they strive to remove us from our God, and to pluck His word out of our hearts.
Therefore we will cleave to the Defender of our Church who says (Matt. XVI): I will build My Church,--and build it not on the length of time, nor on the multitude of men, nor on It must be so, nor on the use and sayings of the saints, not even on John the Baptist, nor on Elijah, nor on Jeremiah, nor on any of the prophets;--but upon that only and solid rock, upon Christ, the Son of God. He is the strength of our faith; in Him we are safe against the Gates of Hell. He cannot lie or deceive; but every man is a liar. And the saints, when they act and speak independently of this Rock, are but men. The most pure and only and true word of God must be the support of our faith. If any speak, let him speak as the oracles of God (I Pet. IV); and, Let every prophecy be in keeping with the faith (Rom. XIII). These are our towers of strength against which the Henrys and Thomists and Papists and their impure, foul, filthy, wicked and sacrilegious associates, are compelled to be silent, and having nothing to reply can only lie confused and prostrate before the words of that thunder. But we expect that even against these this trumpery King with all his Sophists will dare to bark. For the sentence remains fixed that faith is not due nor owed except it be to the certain word of God, as says Romans X: Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing cometh by the word of Christ. Therefore whatever is brought forward that is not in the word of God, let this be at our disposal, as though we were lords, to believe or not to believe; to condemn or to approve, as it is written: All things are yours, whether Apollos, or Cephas, or Paul, and ye are Christ's. If we belong to Christ alone, Who is this stolid King who, by his lies, tries to make us belong to the Pope? We are not the Pope's; but the Pope is ours; we are not to be judged by him; but he is to be judged by us. For, A spiritual man is judged by none, while he himself judges all men,--which is true. All things are yours,--even the Pope. How much more these blots and corruptions of men, these Thomists and Henrys?
Yet I also am foolish and senseless, who so many times inculcate the same thing in vain into these crazy and deplorable brains, and always sing the same song without result to these deaf and hardened heads, to wit, that the tradition of men, or their long-continued usage, has no weight whatever in matters of faith. How often have I said that, even in the opinion of Augustine, to the canonical books alone the honour should be given of firmly believing that there is no error whatever in them? But even if Augustine had not said that, Scripture requires that we believe nothing except Scripture.
In vain, I say, I have kept on singing to these deaf adders, who endlessly repeat and gabble their silly talk: Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome says so and so! Therefore Luther is a heretic, for the sayings of Augustine and Ambrose are articles of faith. Yet those holy men wished nothing less than this sacrilegious worship given to them by Henry and his fellow dunces, by whom their sayings are equated with articles of faith, desiring as they did all their sayings to be free, and placed at the disposal, or rejection, of every believer. Nay, the swinish Thomists themselves are forced to admit that holy men have often erred, and therefore the use of their words for establishing the faith, and burdening the conscience, cannot be of sufficient authority even by the judgment of common sense.
This then is my general reply to those royal Thomist principles, on which this kingly book relies throughout, to wit, the principles of length of time and numbers of men: Perhaps our subtle Henrys will yet make holy angels out of devils, since length of time from the beginning of the world is in their favour, and it is one of the Thomists' tests of truth. Also Satan is so far superior to the succession of men, who come after him, that even by Christ he is called the prince of this world, and by Paul the god of this world, and the ruler of this darkness. Such as are Henry's principles and articles, such are his faith and truth. Such as the faith is, such are its saints, I mean this Babylon, this abomination worthy of these last days.
Let us come now to the particulars of this our Henry, and let us see how aptly by his Thomist wisdom he fits his principles to his conclusions. But I must first ask pardon of my pious and candid reader if I become wearisome by repeating so many times the same things in refutation of the traditions and usage of men. What can I do otherwise, when the Thomist King brings forth all the time in his book nothing but the teachings and usages of men? He adduces but one solitary passage of Scripture, for the purpose of establishing holy orders as a sacrament, and adduces that wrongly, as we shall see. If it is not troublesome to read over and over again in the pages of the stolid King: It must be so; I think so; Usage has it so; The Church teaches so; Art thou alone all wise? etc.; let it not he, I beseech you, wearisome in my pages to read so many times: To think this has no value; This use proves nothing; This It must be so amounts to nothing; This Church is not Christ's Church; It is not I that know but Christ alone knows, etc. Necessity compels me to answer the stolid King thus, since in all particulars he argues in this same way. The Kingly Defender first of all handles indulgences, which I have asserted to be nothing but impostures, invented by Roman wickedness, he defends them thus: "indulgences are impostures, then all the former Popes have been impostors; and not only they but Leo X himself, whom Luther nevertheless extravagantly praise." O royal and Thomist wits, ye commend to us again the proverb: A man must be born either a King or a fool. If Luther has so much authority that so great a King agrees with him when he praises Leo X, why does he not agree with him when he condemns indulgences? especially when in this matter he is supported by Scripture, reason and facts, while in the other matter it was merely a question of respect due to an important personage. But the Thomist actor wishes to stick to his colours, and has decided to follow not the Scriptures, not reason, but the bare sayings of men.
And so, the Thomist King, when I condemn indulgences, answers me nothing except these words: Indulgences are not impostures because Leo X is a good man; it must be so; it cannot be otherwise. Using this royal and Thomist argument, one can say: At Rome in the council of the Pope nothing wrong is ever done, because Leo X is a good man. And so under the excellent guidance of our English King Henry, one will justify all the abominations of the Roman perdition.
This same argument Silvester used before the time of Henry; for he also was a Thomist. Now if in this connection I were to discuss that clever distinction, as their Aristotle teaches it, It is one thing to be a good man, another to be a good citizen and another to be a good leader, I should be arguing to no purpose with such stupid and dull block-heads. How much less would they understand me if I argued this matter according to the divine Scriptures? For in truth he is not a good man who cannot be a good leader. For the Spirit of Christ (by Whom alone we are good) makes man perfect, and instructed for every good work, as Paul teaches Timothy. And the Scripture narratives prove the same thing. With men the nice distinction holds that it is one thing to be a good man, that is in appearance, and another thing to he a good leader, also in appearance. But Saul, when he ceased to he a good man, at the same time ceased to he a good leader.
Therefore it argues nothing against me that I praised the person of Leo X, and condemned indulgences. There is a twofold judgment here. It is not lawful to judge a man, although he may be very bad in God's sight, as long as outwardly he lives without crime. For his judgment belongs to Him who searcheth the heart and the reins. It is quite another thing to judge concerning indulgences. For this is a matter of doctrine, in which although both good and bad men can err (that is, those either really good or good by pretence), yea, even the elect can err in this matter, yet they do not remain in error unless they are openly wicked. To judge in this matter belongs to all, and to each one, that we may distinguish between the voice of the Shepherd and that of the strangers. Concerning Leo himself I am still today in doubt as to what he really thought, and as to whether he continued in error. For it is no secret who is the author of the latest Bull of Leo. But why do I cast these spiritual and precious pearls before these swine? What can Henry understand of these things, who does not even see how extravagantly silly is this syllogism of his: Leo is a good man; therefore indulgences are true?
Let us come to another of King Henry's arguments, that concerning the Papacy, which I have shattered with most powerful Scripture passages. The Defender of the Papacy, confronted with my Scripture passages is muter than a fish; but his royal presumption leads him to think that merely at his bidding Luther will forsake the Scriptures and give in to his lies. He proves the Papacy in this way: It must be so; for I have heard that even India has submitted to the Roman Pontiff, and also Greece; and St. Jerome acknowledges the Roman Church as the mother-church of the world. What will this Luther I wonder dare to say against such famous, and such Thomist arguments?
I answer that if it then will establish the Papacy because the King of England has heard that India and Greece have submitted to it, by the same reasoning the Papacy will be disestablished, because Luther has heard, and is certain, that neither India nor Greece ever were, or ever wished to be, subject to the Roman Pontiff. Furthermore the glorious Lord King, after his manner, lies quite arrantly when he makes Jerome a defender of the papacy; for that writer does not call his own Roman church the mother-church of the world, but inveighs more bitterly than all others against her monarchical ambition. But the King has more regard for his own glory than for his cause, and so, as befits a Thomist, he omits the Scriptures, which are needed in establishing matters of faith, and in the meantime tells us what he has heard, that he may make our faith and the salvation of our souls depend on his hearing. Hitherto the merry King of England may seem to have been, as it were, an ignorant and untaught layman (if you please to call him so); but now he acts seriously and girds himself for the battle that he has undertaken in which he will defend the seven sacraments, and first of all the sacrament of the altar, in which I have censured three tyrannical propositions: firstly, because the second part of it has been taken away from Christians; secondly, because they are compelled to believe as an article of faith that there remains no more bread or wine after the consecration; thirdly, because they have made out of it a work and a sacrifice. And here I have to contend not so much with Henry's ignorance and stupidity as with his obstinate and impatient wickedness. He not only lies like a light-headed varlet, but in these sacred matters he is now audacious, now evasive; now he alters things, now he twists things. In short, he says things or does not say things as his inclination moves him, so that he certainly equals, if he does not surpass, the most unprincipled of stage actors. Read my book on the Babylonish Captivity, my dear reader, and you will see that I there speak the truth; for I wrote a stronger book than I can now write, which this virulent and worthless Thomist felt the force of, the proof of it being that he leaves untouched my best and strongest Scripture passages as well as my argumentation, and instead warns pious readers in his most senseless book not to read what is written in my book, and in this way he uncovers his wickedness.
I confess openly that I was not a little disturbed when I discovered, on comparing my book with his, how wickedly he had passed over my strong points; and with what swelling of his cheeks he was trumpeting his Defence of the Sacraments against Luther. For this papal kingdom, engendered by lies, can do nothing else, in keeping with its character, except deceive, pretend, mock and trample upon the golden grain, and then glory in all these things and boast of them as triumphs. But come now, let us reveal this royal and rascally wickedness in the first tyrannical proposition, to wit, that there is but one part to the Sacrament of the altar. I have proved that the second part has been taken away from the people, and have proved it by seven arguments, which even then vindicated me, hut now make me verily triumphant, since the most glorious Defender of the papacy, in spite of his royal courage, passes them all by in silence.
I. The first argument I advanced was the authority of the Evangelists, who tell in one unvarying narrative that Christ instituted both kinds to be received by those who were to observe His memorial; and that He significantly added to the giving of the cup the words: Drink ye all of this. To this argument no reply is made by the Kingly Defender of the Church.
II. The second argument I advanced was that if Christ had given the Sacrament at the Supper to priests alone, it would riot be right to give any part whatsoever to the laity; for it is not lawful to change the institution and example of Christ. Here the glorious defensive King of England holds his peace.
III. The third argument I brought forward was that if one part of this sacrament can be taken from the laity, then a part of Baptism and Penance can be taken away by the same authority. Nay, whatever Christ ever instituted can be in part taken away. If this cannot be done, then neither can the second part of the Lord's Supper be taken away. To this the glorious Defender of the sacraments makes no reply.
IV. The fourth argument I employed was that Christ says His blood is shed for the remission of our sins, and therefore to those to whom that remission of sins is given it is not possible to deny the sign of that remission, which Christ has given them. To this the Thomist English scaremonger says nothing.
V. The fifth argument I used was that if the wine can be taken away, the bread can be taken away also; and consequently the whole sacrament can be taken away, and the institution of Christ made of no effect. If the whole cannot be taken away, then neither can a part be taken away. Here the unconquerable King perchance remembered the proverb: By silence many questions are answered; and by keeping silence towards me settled his difficulties one and all.
VI. The sixth argument I brought forward was to ask by what necessity both kinds are denied to the laity, when nevertheless all men are in agreement concerning the Sacrament, so that we are taught that the Sacrament is given as much under one kind as under the other. If they are agreed in the thing which is most important, why do they deny the second sign (as they call it) of this very Sacrament? But this question raised difficulties in the mind of the illustrious Defender of the Faith.
VII. The seventh argument I advanced was that Paul shuts the mouths of all disputants, when (I Cor. XI) not alone to priests but to the church and to all the faithful he gives the whole Sacrament. This argument says to the Defender of the sacraments: Touch me not.
Have you, my kind and candid reader, seen enough of the wickedness of this Defender? You now see whether in his whole body there is a drop of royal blood, or in all his mind a single spark of goodness. Whom, I ask, should not this more than sophist malice and brazenness make indignant? Of its own will, and of set purpose, it rages against known truth so fiercely that it seems not only from its own view but also from the view of the whole world to wish it blotted out and buried. Plainly he is a chosen vessel of Satan, and a most worthy Defender of the papal Church. With the same zeal he propounds many other things throughout his blasphemous and sacrilegious book; and the pious reader should learn by this sign to beware of him as of poisonous water and to have in suspicion anything that he writes. For this is not error but sheer wickedness and hardened malice that he writes, intentionally lying and blaspheming.
But this Defender who is silent about things that are necessary, let us see how eloquent he is about his trifling things. (Open your mouth wide, O reader, that you may take in these mighty Thomist marvels!), and how royally he proceeds as though in these matters he were a King when he will prove that it is lawful for the second part of the sacrament to be taken away. The Church, he says, gives the Sacrament in the morning, which Christ gave in the evening. Also we mix water with the wine, concerning which Scripture relates nothing. Therefore if the Church has been able to do that, or to 'institute that, it can also take away part of the Sacrament.
So this headlong and mad desire to lie against the Lord of glory must have its course and be endured! How glad I would be, if asses and swine could only talk, for them to judge between Henry and me. But I will take for judges other asses and swine, who can talk only too much. Judge therefore, ye Sophists, ye Parisians and Louvainians, ye of Cologne and of Leipsic, and all associates of yours wherever they may be: What is the cogency of this most Henry-like and most Thomist-like argument? For ye also have written in the margin of Henry's book: Here Luther lies vanquished. Thus ye have applauded your Henry. Tell me then: How is this argument in place? Where is the logic of its conclusion? If anything is done outside of Scripture, should it therefore be considered of any value against Scripture? Wine is mixed with water without the approval of Scripture; therefore the Scripture which gives a second part to the Sacrament must be condemned, must be called heretical, and must be smeared by you with more of your rabid blasphemies.
Are you not ashamed of yourself, Henry, since you are no longer a King, but a sacrilegious despoiler of the divine and sacred word of Christ? Do not you virulent Sophists yet sweat? Lo, how does Luther lie vanquished? Miserable blockheads, ye are become so reprobate in your senses that what ye affirm to be the principal strength of this kingly book the very stones cry out on as being the height of blasphemy.
Here I will describe the doings of some kinds of foolish or mad persons that I may paint my king in his true colours. Suppose a man were so to argue as to prove because a thing had been done contrary to Scripture, therefore that Scripture should grant it to be lawful. Adultery is committed, therefore the law against adultery is heretical.. I believe such a one would appear mad, even to my King; although he himself is the prince of madmen. And yet how would such a one argue one whit more wisely than my Henry argues? If indeed Scripture can be set aside by any deed, by no deed can it better be set aside than by a deed contrary to it. But my King in order to excel all others in madness proves by a fact that has no bearing on the question that Scripture should be set aside. For to mix water with wine is no more opposed to the second part of the sacrament than it is to the creation of the world, or to the birth of Christ. If therefore the King rightly argues: Wine is mixed with water without Scripture, therefore there is no attention to be paid to what Scripture says concerning the second part of the Sacrament; then is this syllogism also correct: Wine is mixed with water without the Scriptures, therefore what Scripture says concerning the creation and concerning the birth of Christ should be set aside. So that our glorious King teaches that the Scriptures and the word of God ought to be set aside, not only by an act contrary to them but by an act having no bearing on them; and that unless we agree with him, who wishes to be the only Christian in the world, nay, the Defender and upholder of the Church, then we are all heretics. And this reward, as he ought, my King receives unto himself as the reward of his error. But I will outline another fool: Suppose a man were to argue that a certain passage of Scripture was heretical because he had brought forward another passage of Scripture, not opposing it but merely having nothing to do with it. Suppose he were to say that John the Baptist was not the fore-runner, because Jethro counselled Moses to institute a form of civil government (Exod. XVIII), perhaps even my King would laugh at this, or pity the man's mania.
But there is no comparison between this man's mania and that of the King. For if by a thing that has no bearing on it, something in Scripture can be changed, this change would be more rightfully made in Scripture by something irrelevant that is nevertheless in the same Scripture than by something irrelevant that is entirely outside of the Scripture. For to mix wine with water is done outside the Scripture, and has no bearing on the second part of the Sacrament. And yet my King, according to what the Sophists say, has with this syllogism of his laid low the unhappy Luther, and has deserved to be given indulgences, a most worthy recompense for such profound wisdom. Therefore you will not err after this if you argue thus: Henry is King of England, and yet God has not made a note of it, nor recorded it, in Scripture; therefore Christ was neither born nor suffered! Nay, the whole of Scripture amounts to nothing! But I have no wish to write in the margin of my book, Here lies the vanquished King of England. For I do not desire him to be vanquished by my words but by the clear evidence of the case.
What then can we gather from all this? This, forsooth, that the thoughts of the hearts of wicked men are revealed by this sign of self-contradiction; for they have fallen into these abysses of absurdity and uttered these horrible monstrosities for no other reason than that they regard in their hearts this Divine Scripture as some human thing such as is the mixture of water and wine, nor do they give it any greater honour. Therefore doth Scripture itself in this manner confound all those who do not honour and glorify it as divine.
But what have these swine to do with Scripture? Let us come down to their own dialect and let us convince them that they cannot speak their own language.
Let the glorious Defender of the sacraments tell us how he proves that it is necessary that the Mass should be celebrated in the morning, or how it is contrary to Christ's institution if we celebrate in the morning what He did in the evening. Likewise I ask concerning the mixing of water with the wine. Who made this an article of faith? Who dares to say it is a sin if we celebrate without water? Does Henry while he says, It must be so, and while he refuses to believe that Luther is in the habit of celebrating without water?
Custom, he says, has the force of law. I reply: Let it have the force of law in civil cases; but we have been called into liberty, which neither can, nor should, admit either law or custom when we treat of spiritual things. Why has the dominating and royal Henry so badly learned his own language, and why does he here so viciously beg the question, holding up for a fixed, proved, divine and necessary article of faith what is merely optional and a human invention? No wonder then that the ruin of his book is great, when he builds on such a sandy foundation.
Wherefore we choose to keep silence before these Papists and holy Henrys on the question of those magnificent articles of their faith by which they believe that Communion should be celebrated only in the morning, that it should only be celebrated in a sacred place or by means of their portables (as they call them), that water should always be mixed with the wine, and other articles most weighty and most worthy of these most holy saints. But we call those who are tied up to all these details mere fools and block-heads, and hold that we are free to communicate in the Sacrament either by day or by night, either in the morning or in the evening. The time, the hour, the place, the dress, the ritual are left free. And with us he does not sin who eats and drinks moderately before Communion, which Paul also affirms (I Cor. XI) saying: if any man is hungry let him eat at home, so that we do not come to judgment to the Lord's Supper.
Thus Christ, Who in the evening instituted the Communion, did not institute the evening for the Communion, nor the morning; for He said no word about time, persons, places or dress. Otherwise if He had made our following the time an article of faith, He would have made also articles of faith out of age, place, persons, dress, and it would not be lawful for any, except men of the same age as the apostles were, to partake of that Supper, and only then in lay dress. It follows that the Sacrament cannot be given to women, not even to virgins, since the Scripture does not say that they were present. And who can count all the absurdities which will follow in the end the proposition of this exacting King?
But it is different with the two parts of the Sacrament; for Christ did not leave that free, but instituted it and its use in fixed and clear language. And in my opinion it would be better and safer not to mix water with the wine, since it is merely a human and sinister figment, nay, has a very bad signification. For it does not signify our incorporation into Christ, since the Scripture has no such sign, but that which Isaiah saith (Is. I): Thy wine is mixed with water; that is to say, the most pure Scripture of God is vitiated by human traditions. And this is fulfilled, as much as could be, in this Sacrament of theirs, nay, the wine is altogether changed into water; for there is nothing left of the word of God in this their Sacrament. Not that I condemn the custom of communicating in the morning and in consecrated places, but let us reject the necessity. For it is our wish that if any man is not able to fast, or from a rheum or chill cannot rise fasting, let him eat and drink before he partakes of the Lord's Supper. And let him do this freely, whereby he may be the more comfortable both in body and mind. For what Henry calls the Church we call the scarlet woman. For although the Church cannot do without rites and ceremonies, it does not make laws and ensnare men's souls with them. They do this, who boast the name of Church, those swine and asses, those followers of Henry, those Papists and Sophists, who are deceivers of their fellow men and Anti-Christs.
You have been told now, my reader, what you ought to think of the wisdom of the King of England, and you see how foolishly and ridiculously he argues that custom (although of unknown origin and optional and changeable) should prevail against the clear and conceded and immutable word of the Gospel. And at the same time you learn in what contempt he held the word of God while he concocted,--swollen with pride at the name and majesty of his Kingship,--this book of his against the poor and needy Luther. But you have seen in part the judgment of Christ, how He fears not proud and blasphemous Kings; but on the other hand transfers mountains before they know it, and takes the crafty in their own craftiness.
I find proof therefore that my book on the Babylonish Captivity was a most Christian work, since that exacting Thomist King has not touched any of its strong points, but flicking with his wavering and withered stubble against my Rock he has made himself a notorious spectacle to the world, so that hoys, and even idiots, may understand how famous he is become for his ignorance, his foolishness, his malice, and his wickedness. Let us pass to something else.
In my fourth argument, after I had proved that it was not necessary to believe that the bread and wine were transubstantiated, the Thomist King comes at me with two catapults. The first is the saying of Ambrose. The second is that Thomist battering ram, which is called It must be so. He alleges that Ambrose asserts that nothing remains but the body and blood after consecration.
What can I reply to such senseless and stupid fools? If I ask, 7s the saying of Ambrose a necessary article of faith? the King will reply: It must be so. If I put the question: Who gave Ambrose the right to manufacture articles of faith? the King will answer: It must be so. And does not this blockhead see that the word of Ambrose is such that it defeats itself? For it is impossible that nothing should remain but the body and blood after consecration, unless it be that with these super-subtle Thomist thinkers, form, colour, cold and other accidents are said to be nothing. For these truly, since they are not nothing, we see remaining in such a manner that we can even by feeling them prove that Ambrose has here palpably erred.
But let it be granted that Ambrose was willing that there be no bread or wine remaining; to this I will say, I allow Ambrose to enjoy his own interpretation. Nor did the holy man desire by this interpretation to bind the conscience of any man as though by an article of faith, when it cannot be proved from the Scriptures. But as he freely thought in this manner: so he has clearly permitted others to think otherwise,--except the Thomists, whom it is right that their own drowsy dreams should ensnare and trouble, taking them, as they do, for articles of faith.
And now for that other strong kingly argument, which must he so, for the words (he says) of Christ are clear when He tells us. This is My body. He does not say, With this, or in this, is My body. And here again I charge the King not so much with indolence as with wickedness. For the robber takes away from the words of Christ, and royally passes over my argument, as though he had the right to lay hands on the words of God and re-arrange them according to his own liking. By the silliest and most asinine Thomist philosophising, he makes the pronoun This stand for My body. And then as though he had conquered he cries aloud: The words are plain: This is My body. But meanwhile the whole of that weighty argument, with which I was attacking that pretended philosophy, he passes over in silence, the subtle Sophist! For in my whole disputation I laboured the point that the pronoun This in the passage in question could not refer to My body. And I did not require a fatted swine to tell me that there was nothing but the body there if the pronoun This should point only to the body.
But this most vicious begging the question, customary with all the Sophists, ought first to have shown that the pronoun This refers to the body, and in that way overthrow my reasoning. He does neither of these, but gabbles ridiculously, Christ did not say, In this or with this; but this is My body. And could not I answer with the same Thomist subtilty: Christ did not say that the bread is transubstantiated into the body as you masters of fables pretend?
But the King should have attacked the argument in which I showed from the context of the words in question that the pronoun This stands for the bread, and that the words plainly mean, This is My body, that is, this bread is My body. For the context is as follows: He took bread and gave thanks and brake it and said, This is My body, etc. You see here that all those words,--took, gave thanks, brake--are said of the bread. And to the bread the pronoun This points, for that very thing which He took, gave thanks for, and brake, this taken and blessed and broken thing is what He means when He says, This is My body. This refers to the subject, not to the predicate. For He did not take, bless, and break His body, but the bread. Therefore This does not point to the body, but to the bread. These words, which are clear, the King wickedly darkens, and urges his bare-faced interpretation of This is My body, and in his temerity makes the pronoun This refer to the body.
But this is a signal mark of the Thomist wisdom, which, when asked the reason for this article of faith, and knowing no article is admitted by me unless supported by plain Scripture, has no other reply to make than It must be so. The words are clear and plain. But who is so insane a grammarian that from this saying: This is My body he understands or gathers that the bread is changed in substance unless he happens to be of the Thomist scum, who have even untaught us all our Grammar? Why should he not say just as easily that change of substance is proved by the words, The Apocalypse of the Blessed John. For if it is quite enough to establish an article of faith to say in a regal manner, The words are clear, after that there are no words which are not capable of proving any thing concerning anything, especially when the block-head hears these same clear words brought forward by me with a meaning quite different from his meaning, and free from all obscurity.
Nay, our famous King Henry, the Sophist trickster, has dared even to demand from me: Prove there is no transubstantiation. Forsooth this most stupid Thomist must be taught even the elements of disputing; for, when he ought to prove the affirmative, he demands from his opponent that he prove the negative. Let us send these so learned men to the heretics and to the Turk to defend our faith, since it is now not necessary to give any reason for faith but merely to say, Prove that it is not so. O ye Thomist swine and asses, now that I have proved (as I have said) my contention strongly from the Gospel itself, to wit, that, in matters of faith, only what Scripture asserts is to be asserted, and what Scripture does not assert is not to be asserted, but is to be held optional, incontrovertibly the sacrament itself the Scripture plainly calls bread.
But so far our Thomist King has been a philosopher; it is now a pretty sight to see how he takes the part of a Thomist theologian against my reasoning, when I brought forward against his Thomist article of faith that heavenly thunderbolt of Paul (I Cor. X), where so clearly he calls this Sacrament bread that neither the ignorance of the King nor the wickedness of the Thomists can find any loop-hole for lying and pretending, since the words of Paul stand out more lucid than the light: The bread, which we break, is it not the communion of the Lord's body? He does not say, The body which we break. He does not say: The nothing which remains after consecration that we break, or, The accidents which we break; but, The bread which we break, as being already blessed and consecrated. This blessed bread, then, is the communion of the Lord's body, etc. Similar are the words in I Cor. II: He that eats this bread, etc.
This good and sweet Thomist, who brings forth no Scriptures and no reasons but merely his own affirmation, It must be so, tells us that the sacred Scripture has sometimes a way of calling a thing that which it was, or that which is like it, as in Exod. VII: The rod of Aaron swallowed up the rod of the magician, that is to say, the serpent which was the rod of Aaron. These are his words. Rightly your lies return on your own head, thou stolid and sacrilegious King, who hast dared with brazen face to say of the words of the infallible God that they say one thing and mean another. What a loop-hole, pray, has this mad blasphemy of the King opened for all heretics and enemies of the faith! If it once is admitted that the authority of Scripture rests on uncertain and deceitful words, what then will all the teachers of all kinds of dogmas not be able to prove, to disprove, to hold and defend? How much more rightly has Saint Augustine refused to allow even a lie said in jest, or said out of politeness, to have any place in the sacred Scriptures. But this King gives us a means of eluding the authority of Scripture if it be brought against us, and of interpreting it in such a way that it cannot have any weight.
But let it be so; let the Thomist King not grant so much honour to his Creator as that He has put His meaning into His words. Rather should he have confessed that he does not know how a rod swallowed up a rod, than to deprave what is written. And if it be true that a rod is called a serpent, which was once a rod, by what consequence does it follow that here that is called bread which is not bread, but once was? Relying, forsooth, on this Thomist wisdom, you will argue thus: The Scripture once says that a virgin was a mother^ therefore must other virgins also be mothers, although Scripture says nothing about them, in the same way in which it comes about here that bread need not be bread, because a rod is not a rod.
By this trick you can produce any number of such monstrosities out of the Scriptures. No wonder that this pretentious Thomist has the odour of those dregs and offscourings, called Arians; for they also, when they were confronted with clear Scripture evidence that Christ is God, answered a long while ago with royal and Anglican acuteness: Christ is God but not verily, that is, He is called, or named, God, but He is not born God. In like manner this new Arian dares to blaspheme, saying, With Paul it was called bread, but it was not really bread. So also the Manicheans will find a supporter in this glorious Defender of the sacraments; for they took away reality as recorded by the words of God, and substituted phantasy.
And now at last I will use on him his royal art and will say: Thy Thomist transubstantiation is not real, but is only called transubstantiation, or resembles transubstantiation. How will he prevent me? Is it not lawful for me to trifle with his sleepy utterances just as he trifles with the sincere words of God? My proof is as follows: Since it is once read in the Scriptures that a thing is called a rod which is not a rod, therefore it is lawful for me, when I wish, both within and outside of Scripture, by my own authority, to deny the substance of whatsoever I wish, and to assert that it is so in name only, unless the example of so great a King, so Thomist-like, so subtle, so glorious, and so boastful a Defender and an authority, is of no value whatever.
You see then, my reader, how like itself, no matter where met with or whence derived, is this Thomist wisdom, this crude and asinine crudeness? For it is the constant vice of the stupid Sophists that they beg the question, and what they ought to prove they presuppose as already proved. Then let them make unto themselves, out of Gold, male images of the Lord, as Ezechiel says, and fit the divine words to their dreams, and then say, It must be so, because I say so, that this is what Scripture saith. O Defenders, worthy are ye of the papal indulgences and sacraments!
But this is that kindred machination of Satan, which changes itself into an angel of light. And as from the beginning Satan desired to be like the Highest, so does he not cease working constantly by words and deeds like the divine words and deeds, that he may deceive the children of unbelief. And thus he masquerades in his papacy, when, after arrogating to himself the right of breaking a vow, with inflated cheeks he puts out so confidently in his Decretals this similitude: The first-born of an ass could be changed for a sheep; therefore I will change this vow for another work,--as if the first-born of an ass were a vow! This is how our King babbles: A rod is called a rod, and yet is not a rod. Therefore Paul calls that bread which is not bread;--as though a rod and bread were the same thing! What confusions will not Satan bring upon the Church, since the Sophists, who have been received into the Church, have begun to use this form of teaching and arguing?
But the King shows another specimen of his dexterity in this matter, so that no one can believe him any thing else but a Thomist. If, he says, Luther so rigidly ties up the words of Scripture, he will say that even Christ is wheaten bread in heaven; for He says, I am the bread, which came down from heaven. Also he will say He is a natural vine; for He says, I am the true vine, etc.
As I said before, nothing under the sun is born more thick and stupid than the Thomists, these monstrous creatures. For what boy would not laugh at this mad King in this matter, unless by reason of his signal wickedness and his zeal for blaspheming he be more deserving of hatred, or of tears? He has not enough sense, or perception, in him to see the vast difference between his dreams and the words of Christ. For the very consequence of His words, the absurdity else of things, the outrage on common intelligence, besides His own interpretation, prove Him to speak of spiritual bread, as He says: My words are spirit and life. Of which spirit and life there is no mention at all in the words that Paul speaks about the bread of the Sacrament, nay, all arguments go to prove that Paul must be understood to speak only of wheaten bread. And yet this immobile block dares assert a likeness of phrasing here, which not even a fool could get it into his head to believe possible. But the King does this in the dignified manner of the Thomists, whose custom is to pass over the rule for understanding Scripture (which is to take notice of the consequences, circumstances and objections), and to pick up and twist some word, and then assert anything you have a mind to.
Herein see then, I beg you, my reader, what you ought to think of this idiotic and ignorant book of this so stupid and stolid King. At the same time I beg you see how there is no judgment, no discernment, no diligence in the whole Thomist body; but all things are said and transacted and done with incredible rashness and presumption and arrogance, so that they can kill with tediousness both readers and listeners.
My Paul stands invincibly against all these futile defenders of transubstantiation, and says: The bread which we break, He strikes them with his horns twice; firstly, because they can make their own assertions by no reasoning, nor authority; secondly, because by their frigid explanations they do nothing else than seek most viciously to beg the question. And the sum of what they accomplish is that they prove that it might possibly be as they say it is, when they ought to prove both the fact and the Tightness, both that it is so, and that it ought to be so. For no one doubts that God can transubstantiate bread; but that He does do so they are not able to show. And I marvel at this most learned Thomist, why he does not transubstantiate the accidents also, since those words of transubstantiation, according to his brain, denote only the body of Christ. This is My body. Therefore there will be nothing there unless it be the body of Christ by the witness of his Ambrose, and therefore no whiteness will be there with the other accidents. Or why does he not argue, What prevents the bread not being there, in the same way that the accidents are there? Pray, where is the necessity for doing away with the substance, and keeping the accidents? Is it only that Thomist adage, It must be so?
I pass over here that rhetorical contempt of his for the two most convincing analogies that I brought forward, viz.: those of the glowing iron and the incarnate God, where neither is it necessary for the iron to yield to the fire, nor for the manhood to yield to the Godhead. Although I am not here required to defend my assertions, yet I shall give my opponent enough to think about if I prove that what he has alleged can be taken otherwise. And so I can say, The body of Christ, the bread remaining bread, is in the sacrament in the same way that fire is in iron, the substance of the iron remaining the same. And in the same way God is in man, the humanity remaining humanity, both substances being so mixed that each preserves unimpaired its power of working and its natural properties, and yet, both constituting one entity. And this I say I can assert until the Papists displace my analogy not by their Thomist contempt but by the statement of their own faith. It is their business to prove their affirmative, which in one particular at least I am able to disprove. For this is not to write a defence of the sacraments, to pass by and despise the arguments of one's opponent, as does this senseless Thomist, but to demonstrate that they are null and void, otherwise the Defender forces men to think his opponent's arguments are invulnerable when he practices stupid dissimulation, and, like a coward, dodges the issue.
It is most striking and beautifully Thomist, his final argument, which is worthy to be remembered, in which Lord Henry, our Teacher, gives this reason why the bread may not be said to remain; forsooth, because no substance is worthy to be mixed with that Substance Which created all things. Here, reader, admire once for all this mighty exhibition of Thomist wisdom: First of all, Lord Henry thinks that in the Sacrament the Divinity of Christ takes the place of the bread, and, that being so, the bread ought to give place to the Divinity, lest such an unworthy substance as bread should be mixed with the Creative Substance. I ask, What heretic was ever such an insane person as to teach that the bread was changed into Divinity? Has not Henry himself, with his swine and asses, taught till now that the bread is changed into the body, not into the Divinity? Or will they give to the body and blood of Christ such attributes that it can be called the Creative Substance? Ye see how far impious madness conducts sacrilegious minds after they have once begun to take refuge in lying.
In fine, this most ludicrous kind of argument should deservedly move Luther, to wit: The substance is unworthy, therefore it cannot be mixed with a more worthy. So that forsooth in these matters our faith depends on the worthiness or unworthiness of substances! Let us conclude then, from Thomist authority, that God was not man, because the human substance is unworthy to be joined with the dignity of so great Majesty. Let us deny that the Holy Spirit is shed abroad in the hearts even of good men (to say nothing of justifying wicked men), because the heart of man is unworthy of the overpowering Majesty of the Spirit. Thus this that follows is Henry's wisdom: Bread is not the body of Christ, because the body of Christ, a Creative Substance, is too worthy to be mixed with such a common substance. Finely, wonderfully spoken! most Thomist-like, and most Henry-like! If the unworthiness of the bread does not permit it to be the body of Christ, nevertheless the worthiness of this reasoning is beyond all price, and could dwell and flourish in Thomist and asinine brains and nowhere else.
But if, I ask, the substance of the bread be so unworthy to be mixed with the body, a Creative Substance, why then are the accidents worthy to be mixed, nay to remain, since the God of the Thomists decrees that in all respects the substance is of more power than the accidents,--except in the way of recognition, which is due to a deficiency of vision on our part? What will the Lord Henry, the subtle Defender, say to this? Without doubt nothing else than: It must be so; I am a King; and if this is not enough, I am a Thomist; therefore it is true. All of which signifies that Thomists say nothing that is not worthy of themselves. For so it suits these swine having eaten their provender to eat the bran and the pods, and in place of the substance of bread to boast concerning the accidents. Truly Christ's word is here found true when He says: I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries will not be able to resist and gainsay. For ye see clearly, my reader, when they try to contradict me, with what insane lies these sacrilegious Papists wound themselves! This is the power of truth that it makes a show of those liars, who defame themselves, and takes the crafty in their own craftiness.
We have therefore this article, although never with much concern exacted by me before, now greatly confirmed by the assertions of the Papists themselves,--that is by their lies and stupidity and blasphemies,--so that now we are very sure that it is the merest figment that which these impious and blind Thomists babble concerning this transubstantiation, and that we should rely firmly on the faithful words of God, in which, by the mouth of Paul, He simply and clearly says that the body of Christ is bread, bread which we both break and eat.
And so not to be ungrateful to my Teacher, the Lord Henry, I now change my view and wish to transubstantiate my opinion and to say: Before this I laid it down that it was of no consequence whether a man thought in one way or another concerning transubstantiation; but now, having seen the reasons and beautiful arguments of the Defender of the Sacraments, I decree that it is impious and blasphemous if any say that the bread is transubstantiated, and Catholic and pious if any say with Paul: The bread, which we break, is the body of Christ. Let him be anathema who says otherwise and changes one jot or tittle of the Scripture, although he should be our new Lord Henry, and a famous Thomist.
And now we come to the fifth chapter, the masterpiece and corner-stone of Henry's defence, in which he declares, The Mass is a work and a sacrifice. Here at last the Lord Henry is the Lord Henry, and the Thomist is the Thomist. Possibly he may have heard from some half-witted orator that if at any time one feels the strength of an opponent to be too unconquerable, the first thing to do is with scornful mien to mock at him and despise him, so that the foolish hearer may believe the opponent to have been conquered by such an orator before even being attacked.
In similar manner our Lord King starts off with some magnificent bombast, so that he may finely feign himself to be weary of confuting the foolish and ignorant Luther, who denies that the Mass is a work and a sacrifice. Satan, forsooth, feels a wound, and therefore, uneasy in mind and uncertain what to do, tries to irritate me with bitter words and impotent mocking and contempt. But He who has given unto us to know the thoughts of Satan, will give also unto us to laugh at the mocker and despise the contemner and with boldness to denounce his impotent and foolish bombast.
And so if you take account of threatening and mocking words, the Kingly Defender has seven times conquered Luther. But if you regard the matter itself, these are mere trifles which to us for the last three years our Papist neighbours and friends have repeated vainly, to wit, The Mass is a work and a sacrifice; for the daily usage of many has it so; So the Church (that is, the harlot of Babylon) thinks; It must be so; Our Teachers have taught us so; The Fathers have said so.
Here we see the madness with which in this connection the angry King rages and shouts and foams forth what would be not very propitious to Luther, if threats were of any value for defending the sacraments, and were able to terrify Luther. But that he should strengthen so generally received, so common, so proved, let us add, so wealthy and so pleasing an article by at least one word of sacred Scripture, or that he should strengthen it with the words of God, or that he should weaken the force of my Scriptures, This ought not to be; Daily usage has not this; The Church does not think this; Our Teachers do not teach this; This was not proper for a Defender of the Sacraments.
But in order that so illustrious a Defender should not omit saying something, he brings forward one undoubtedly powerful argument, which till now has been enough to convince everyone that the Mass is a work and a sacrifice. The argument is as follows: If the Mass were not a good work, the laity would not reward the clergy with any temporal benefit in return for it.
Stand amazed, reader, at this royal and Thomist reasoning, and, as I said, undoubtedly powerful; for it has moved very many men hitherto, and moves them today. Here Luther lies vanquished, and who so dexterously finished him off as the King of England in this book of his by this supreme stroke of reasoning! Sorry though I am, I am obliged to confess that it is so. In very truth, I am bound to admit it, the Mass is a sacrifice and a good work; for (as the King tells us) the laity pay the priests money for it.
Again for the same reason it must be true, in spite of anything Luther may say, that the Mass would not be a good work, if the laity did not pay their money for it; and the event would have proved this, if the laity had ceased losing (I should say paying) their money for Masses; and it must also be that the Mass is whatever money chooses to make it. Rightly and excellently has the King spoken in this reasoning! He has defended the Mass in an argument worthy of the great Defender!
Therefore it is through the largesse of the laity, and the power of money, that the Mass is a work and something that has been in the past useful to the priests. Take notice, reader, that no other argument for the Mass has been adduced by its Kingly Defender except this one.
Judge now, whoever thou art, O reader, what I can worthily say in reply to such mad and deplorably perverted monsters? What harlot would have dared so impudently to boast of her shamelessness as this most brazen King openly boasts of the avarice and impostures of the priests, throwing them at us as the reason for his profound faith?
But many times the anger of the divine judgment terrifies us, who, by this shocking example of His wrath, warns us, to think humbly in sacred things, when we see Him with such punishments, not reserved for the future, to strike those who oppose wholesome doctrine and open truth. For I could not with all my endeavors make this miserable King such a disgusting and abominable spectacle to the whole world as by his own insanity he makes himself.
Learn, I beseech you, unhappy Papists, moved sometimes even by your own acts of turpitude, to fear the judgment of God. What will it be in the future, if in this present time He so severely confounds you?
No less is the madness which follows, when after with many words pouring contempt on me (this is what he has learned best from his teacher of rhetoric), he finally protests that he will leave untouched that which above all he should have confuted, namely my chief support and strongest argument, in which I have proved from the words of Christ that the Mass is a testament, and a promise; and therefore cannot be a work, or a sacrifice. This the unhappy Defender, overcome by the strength of this argument, and dissembling with his conscience, has not only passed over, but protests that he of set purpose passes it over, and leaves it to others.
O Defender of the sacraments! O Supporter of the Romish church, twice a Thomist and by far the most deserving of the Pope's indulgence! He could have been pardoned if he had passed over my strong argument in silence; but to protest that of set purpose he passes it over, after understanding that I solely and altogether rely on it, and use it to beat down all his arguments, this is so ridiculous and foolish, that nothing could be more so.
Therefore by the special permission of the Kingly Defender (let me not again be ungrateful) I assert and declare that the Mass is neither a work, nor a sacrifice, until such time as another shall come and prove that the testament and promise of God can be either a work or a sacrifice. But when will such a one come? The King himself plainly sees that he will come at the Greek Kalends, therefore he safely leaves the argument untouched; for he would have been miserably defeated and overthrown if he had touched it.
One would think that this great King was here either in very truth suffering from a lesion of the brain, or that some enemy, in order to disgrace him, had published this book under the King's name. Whoever saw greater insanity than this? Luther is assailed with royal boasting, and in the same work his strong arguments and foundations are not only kept out of sight, but an open pronouncement is made that he is allowed to hold them.
After our Thomist Lord Henry has proved by this silver and gold reasoning that the Mass is a work, he proceeds in his strength to overthrow the reasonings of Luther, and he first speaks like a Thomist as follows:
He who cuts down a tree does a work. Therefore he who consecrates does a work. Therefore the Mass also is a work. And if it is a work it is not bad, therefore good.
Thus he writes, this glorious Defender of the sacraments. Here also Luther lies completely vanquished. I confess openly that I am crushed by the immensity of the Thomist fatuity, and I struggle to speak in such a broken voice that wretched men may in part understand me. I say then: The Mass is received in two ways, one way as Henry and the Thomists receive it. In this way, as you see in the King's book, the Mass is the same thing as to consecrate, or to utter words of consecration. But not even the dullness of the Thomists can deny that we too do this work, so far am I from denying that here our teacher Henry has scored a point.
But this is a new definition of the Mass, and this is a new analogy, and neither by fever nor by frenzy could I myself ever have thought of the Mass in such a way. And I marvel that our wordy Thomists have not strengthened this entertaining argument with five or six other arguments. For if to consecrate is the Mass, so also is to shout, to sing, to use incense, to burn candles, to wash the cup, to elevate the host, perhaps even to sneeze and to expectorate. And what in there by this wise ruling of Henry's that cannot be called the Mass? Nay, we concede to this new inventor of words and things that he may call the head of an ass, or a swine, the Mass. For what matters it to call it whatever you wish to him with whom words and things in accord with his understanding of Aristotle either stand or fall as he pleases?
And so we make this confession: The Mass is a work, and we join the chorus in its praise, and we are sorry for our atrocious error in not knowing that the King of England called the Mass a work. Had we known it, we should not have lacked the learning whereby we might have I avoided this our error, and rendered unnecessary the writing of his great book.
But this will much disturb the Defender that it follows from this argument that the Mass will not he a good work, unless the consecrator is a good man. For a wicked man does a wicked act in consecrating, that is to say, in celebrating Mass, according to what the King says. Therefore it should not be lawful for a bad priest to consecrate, nay, he cannot consecrate because they require that the Mass must be a good work. And then at the same time will perish that magnificent piece of Theology, whereby it is decreed that the Mass, even of a bad priest, is always a good work by virtue of the work that is done, although not by virtue of the one that does it. For our Lord Henry regards in the Mass the work of him that does the work, and not merely the work done. But perhaps the King has been busied in other directions than in either learning or committing to memory what theology teaches concerning the work done, and the one that does the work. In this way the enemies of the truth deserve to confound and make one another ridiculous, as a reward for their blasphemies.
After another fashion the Mass is truly and properly, as we have stated it to be, a word of promise with the sign added of bread and wine. For if everything else fail, and you only believe these words of Christ: This is My body, which is given for you, you have indeed the entire Mass.
And then if you do but receive the sign with faith, you have received the use and fruit of the Mass. Hence it is most clear that the Mass is not anything of our work, or our word, but only Christ's; Who gives not only the word of promise, but also the sign thereof in the bread and wine; and its use cannot be in offering or in working but only in receiving and taking.
But how should the unhappy Defender know these things that we state, seeing that he does not know his own doctrine concerning the work that is done (de opere operato), and, while he attacks us, horribly confutes himself?
Next, in order to defend the Mass as a sacrifice, he speaks thus like a Thomist: Let it be granted that the Mass is a promise, it does not therefore follow that it is not at the same time a sacrifice, since in the old law there were sacrifices which were at the same time promises.
I answer that of this Thomist assertion the King ought to have produced at least one example. But now, according to custom, he thinks it is sufficient if he merely states that in the old law sacrifices were promises, and then shortly after declares It must be so. But such a stolid Defender (it seems to me), should have before him a vocabulary in which first of all he should learn what is the meaning of both sacrifice and promise. If promise is a word, sacrifice is a thing, so that even boys of tender age understand that it is impossible for a promise to be a sacrifice, for a word to be a thing. O wretched me, who am compelled to waste my time with such monstrous ignorance, and am unworthy to contend with men of understanding or learning!
Therefore it is a manifest error to say that in the Old Testament sacrifices were promises, unless the Kingly Defender wishes to use a Thomist figure of speech and say that sacrifices were promising, that is signifying what would be fulfilled in Christ. But we in the Mass would rather call those words of Christ a promise, without which the bread and the wine would be neither a sign, nor a sacrament, nor the Mass. For that by sacrifices, offered in faith, promises were obtained is another matter. We are not arguing here either concerning the fruit, or the meaning, of the sacrifices; but of the thing itself, that we may know what a sacrifice is and what it is not.
The Lord Henry wonders what kind of preachers I have heard, because I have written that nothing is ever said in sermons concerning these promises; for he himself has heard, even to the point of weariness, sermons on the testament, the promises, the witnesses, etc.
I answer: And I wonder that the head of the King is so dense, and his madness so great, that he, who has heard such famous sermons, should yet have learned nothing from them (not even have seen that the word of God cannot be our work, or sacrifice), but should be endlessly blabbering to the contrary. For if there were any spark of human reason alive in him, he could not deny that God's sign is verily God's work towards us. Likewise the sacrifice and promises of God are the word of God, and not our work.
And then this King of lying, who in this place writes that he has heard even to weariness of the testaments and promises of this kind, afterwards gabbles concerning the sacrament of holy orders, and declares that in the whole supper of Christ there is no promise, not only disgracefully contradicting himself, but raging against the Lord's supper with an impudent lie. So doth fury and madness drive headlong the Papists, that in truth they have no knowledge of what they state, or of what they contradict.
He dares also to assert that it is manifest that the priests do riot only what Christ did in the supper, but what He did on the cross.
I answer: Since the Lord Henry only says this, and does not prove it, I say on the contrary: It is manifest that the priests omit in the Mass what Christ did in the supper, and do that which the Jews did to Christ on the cross. Nor do I say this only, but I prove it also. For he who perverts and extinguishes the word of God, he verily crucifies the Son of God, that which they all do who make a work out of a promise, since this is indeed to change the truth of God into a lie.
After this he assails me with the Canon of the Mass, in which the Mass is called a sacrifice, by the authority of which he wishes me to be bound because I have used its form of words. For these words As often as ye do this, etc., are not found, he tells us, in the Gospel, but the words Do this. And other words are also found in Paul.
See here the unhappy Satan how he crawls, how he wriggles, how he tries subterfuges, but in vain, he will not escape. I have rejected and do reject the Canon because it is quite openly against the Gospel, and gives the name of sacrifices to what are signs of God added to His promises, and are given to us to be received by us, and not to be offered up.
For in that the King saith, In the Gospel we find not the words, As often as ye do this, what boy does not see that there is a lack of grammar in our great Defender? As if it were necessary that the writers of the Gospels should agree in every syllable and should establish that form of sacrament which the Papists have established for us so immutably and bindingly, that they make a man guilty of deadly sin and deliver him to hell if he omits that little word For, being, forsooth, like Rhadamantus and Aeacus! Thus go on in their madness these killers of the freedom of conscience.
Therefore by the testimony of grammarians, and the common sense of mankind, I say that it is the same thing that which the writers of the Gospel say concerning the Supper, although they differ in a few words, and that Do this is the same as As often as ye do this. And I believe that the Holy Spirit, by a singular provision, took the precaution that the Evangelists should describe the same thing a little differently, and should sin that unpardonable sin against the Papist set form of the sacrament, in order that He might make us secure from the future superstition and tyranny of wicked men. For a man does not the less truly consecrate, who uses the form of Luke, Mark, Matthew, or Paul, than he who uses the form of that impious and false Canon.
But where I have written that a sacrifice and the Mass are contrary, since a sacrifice is offered and the Mass is received, on this question the daring Lord Henry dares call Luther to the Bible, saying: Where can be found anywhere in the Old Testament any sacrifice which is not at the same time offered and received? Clearly here, so he boasts, the chief argument of Luther breaks down, and the glorious Defender securely triumphs.
I answer: This is not my chief argument, but that which the Lord Henry, in his Thomist kindness, gave me previously, to wit, The Mass is a testament and promise. This, I say, is my chief argument.
But to make a suggestion to the triumphant King! If the Lord Henry had only once opened his Bible and looked in it, nay, if he had remembered the fifty-first Psalm, which he read once as a boy (if he is a Christian), he would not have boasted of his Thomist triumph, since he would have read there of the burnt-offering, than which there is in the Old Testament no greater or more illustrious sacrifice. This clearly was wholly offered to God alone, nothing was taken from it.
But if my King had the least common sense, I would turn the question of triumph against him, and would say, Where is there in the Old Testament any sacrifice that was received which was not entirely offered? Will he here make into sacrifice the shoulders and breasts and other parts that were granted to the priests for their use? Or will the equivocal and mocking King even call that an offering which was brought by the people and priests from the fields and was presented before the Lord? Forsooth to bring is the same thing as to offer, according to the Lord Henry.
But what does it matter to me what this trifler imagines? To me it is sufficient that in the Old Testament it is written: Whatever was offered to God was wholly consumed. What was not burned but was given partly to the priest and partly to the people, was not offered, being separated from what was offered and being eaten. But what have these sacred things to do with the profane Papists? Therefore in the cup of the Babylonish harlot there is no sacrifice which is merely offered; for the Bible of our Lord Henry says so. But our own Bibles are filled with such sacrifices.
Finally he brings in the sayings of the Fathers to establish the sacrifice of the Mass, and laughs at my folly, who claim to know alone more than all others, which is most foolish, etc.
And here I say that by this argument of his my opinion is confirmed; for this is what I said, The Thomist asses have nothing they can bring forward but the number of men and the antiquity of the use, and then they say to one who brings forward Scripture, Are you the wisest of all? Do you alone know? And then, It must be so. But to me, the most foolish of all men, this is enough, that the most wise Henry can produce no Scripture against me, nor can he confute those that I have brought against him. Then also he is forced to grant that his Fathers have often erred, and that their ancient use does not make an article of faith, and that it is not lawful to trust in them,--but only in that Church of the multitude, of which he is the Defender with his Indulgences.
But I against the sayings of the Fathers, of men, of angels, of devils place not ancient usage, not multitudes of men, but the word of the one Eternal Majesty, the Gospel, which they are forced to approve, and in which the Mass is clearly said to be a sign and testament of God, wherein He promises us His grace, confirming it with a sign. This is God's word and work, not ours. Here I stand, here I sit, here I remain, here I glory, here I triumph, here I laugh at the Papists, Thomists, Henrys, Sophists and all the gates of hell, nay, at the sayings of men, however saintly, and at their fallacious customs.
The word of God is above all. The divine Majesty makes me care not at all though a thousand Augustines, a thousand Cyprians, or a thousand of Henry's Churches should stand against me. God cannot err, or be deceived. Augustine and Cyprian and all the elect could err, and have erred. Answer me now, Lord Henry. Be a man now, Defender. Write books now. Thy curses are nothing. Thine accusations have no effect. Thy lies I despise. Thy threats do not frighten me. For thou art as stupid in this passage as is a block; and at other times art nothing but words.
It is most disgraceful for so great a King to write so great a book and to refuse to touch this my chief contention. Nor has any one been found who has ever dared to touch it, no matter how many have come forward. They flee by seven ways backwards, who came the same way to the attack with a mighty vehemence and triumphant shouting. It is strange how they wish to hurt me on this occasion, and how terrible a spectre I am in their eyes. But none have acted with more prudence for once than King Henry, who desires to overthrow Luther, but protests that he will not touch this his strong argument. But I neither feel, nor ought to feel, thanks for such great kindness, nay, let his anger and fury rot, if he can hurt and does not do so.
The rage with which he attacks me, because I have taught that faith without works is the best preparation for the sacrament, and that Christians should not be bound to receive it, I utterly despise. They are the words of a man, who thinks that men are made good in God's sight by laws, knowing less what faith and works mean, and what the laws work in the consciences of bad men, than any insensate block of wood. For it does not belong to the Papists' programme to know these things, but, as Peter and Jude say, only to utter blasphemies. For consciences are taken care of not by laws but by grace alone; for by laws, especially human laws, consciences are miserably put out of commission.
But in the end of this passage it is worth while to see how anxiously he labours to establish the traditions of men as necessary, against my opinion, in which I have stated that nothing should be established outside of the Scriptures, or, if it is established, it ought to be left free and not made a thing of necessity, since by the enfranchisement of Christ we are lords even of the Sabbath. And accordingly first of all the King argues as follows:
If nothing is to be observed except what is handed down by the Scriptures, since it is not recorded that the sacrament was taken by Christ, it follows that neither can the priests take the sacrament. Resting on this Thomist hypothesis, he formulates this syllogism against me: Priests take the sacrament of necessity, and this the Gospel does not record; therefore other things not recorded in the Gospel are to be observed of necessity.
This Thomist conclusion is arrived at by the rule of consequences very familiar to them, which is called begging the question. For the King ought first to prove that in order to avoid deadly sin the priests should take the sacrament. For I hold that it is free to be taken, or not taken, by the priests. It is made necessary only by the traditions of men and the custom of the multitude. And so the Thomist King very conveniently proves traditions by traditions, proves negation by negation; for on such things, and not on any other proofs, the Defender of the sacraments and the whole of Henry's Church is obliged to depend. In the second place he argues as follows:
Christ consecrated the sacrament, not the apostles. Therefore it is not lawful for the apostles, or priests, to consecrate, because it is not allowable to establish, or do, anything except what is found in Scripture.
If the unhappy Luther wishes to dodge the issue, and say, Christ commanded the apostles to consecrate when He saith, Do this, then my unkind Lord Henry gets there before me and says, But this He saith of receiving, not of consecrating.
O Saviour Christ, what unheard-of blindness and craziness there is in these men! If I now ask: Lord Henry, in what grammar did your Lordship take lessons? What vocabulary told you that Do this was the same as Take this? He will answer, It must be so,--for names are at his disposal. But sending away these swine let us say:
Christ fixed the custom of taking when He said, Take and cat, as the very words themselves clearly testify, not indeed to Henry and his fellow blocks, but to every mere boy and idiot. Christ instituted the duty of consecrating, when He saith, Do this. For to do is to imitate all this which He Himself then did.
And what shall I say to these sacrilegious monsters, who show by such arguments how that they have written thus out of impotent hatred, so that nothing more foolish and senseless can be imagined? For if this argument of the stolid King has any value, then it will be lawful to follow Christ in nothing. For suppose that Christ did not institute the consecration of the sacrament (which is impossible), nevertheless He showed an example of consecrating; and wished it to be in Scripture recorded, unless our King will contend that we ought neither to pray, nor to bless, nor to suffer, because properly of our prayers, our works and our sufferings has been written in the Scriptures no word.
Therefore let us turn our pen to the principal and chief part of his perfidy, which is that saying of Augustine: I would not believe the Gospel unless the authority of the Church moved me so to do. These words they sacrilegiously so twist and change that to the Church (that is, to the Romish harlot, who is neither Church nor Christian except in name) they attribute the right to make laws.
The Lord Henry adds to this that he even urges me by the authority of this same saying, citing my own words, where I said, With the Church is the right of judging all dogmas. I see that this ignorant royal head has need of nothing else than a gem round his neck inscribed with a vocabulary, or with a short list of words, that he may begin where boys begin and learn his parts of speech, unless he does what he does from mere Thomist wickedness, forcing all words to mean all things, so that even here the right of judging laws becomes the same thing as the right of establishing, or making laws.
Briefly, even if Augustine should have asserted in round words that any one in the Church has the right to make laws, who is Augustine? Who compels us to believe him? By what authority is his word an article of faith? I confess that his saying has come to my notice; but it is not safe enough, nor firm enough. The right of making a law must be proved by a saying of God, not by a saying of man.
But now they do not simply vitiate the saying of Augustine. For he speaks of the Church scattered throughout the world; whose right it is to judge concerning dogmas; but they attribute this right to the Pope, whom they themselves confess to be only too often a limb of the devil, and mistaken. And not only so do they give him the right and the permission to judge, but also the right and the permission to construct. Hence there is need that we should here make plain to these ignorant Sophists, what is the difference between the law of judging, or approving, and the law of constructing, or commanding.
To know and judge concerning doctrine belongs to all men, even to individual Christians; and in such a way belongs that, Let him be anathema who shall injure this right, even in the least particular. For Christ Himself instituted this right by various invincible sayings, such as (Matt. VII): Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing. This saying speaks to the people against their teachers, and commands them to avoid their false teachings. But how can they avoid them unless they know? And how know unless they have the right of judging? And here Christ has established not only the right, but the commandment to judge, so that this sole authority can be sufficient against the opinions of all the Fathers, of all the Councils, and of all the Schools, which reserve the right of judging and discerning as only to be exercised by bishops and ministers, and have thus impiously and sacrilegiously taken it away from the people, that is from the rightful queen of the Church. For Christ stands saying: Beware of false prophets.
With this agree almost all the voices of the prophets. For what do the prophets do except warn the people not to believe in false prophets? And what is this warning but a declaration and confirmation of the people having the right to judge and discern, a putting them in mind of their own work, and a stirring them up against the doctrines of all their priests and teachers?
Wherefore we here conclude that as many times as Moses, Joshua, David and all the prophets in the Old Testament call and admonish the people, so many times they shout, command, affirm and stir up the right of the people to discern and judge all the dogmas of all its teachers. And this they do in an infinite number of places. Has this our Henry, or any other impure Thomist, anything to bark against these arguments? Have we not stopped the mouths of those that speak wickedness?
Let us come to the New Testament. Christ says (John X): My sheep hear My voice, and do not hear the voice of strangers, but flee from them. Does He not here make the sheep judges, and give to those that hear the right of discernment? And Paul, when (I Cor., XIV) he says, Let one speak, let the others judge; but if anything be revealed to one that is sitting, let the former speaker hold his peace,--does he not here desire that the judgment should rest with the hearer? If Christ (Matt. XXIV and everywhere) says in His teaching anything of false teachers, and Peter and Paul of false apostles, who are teachers, and John of proving the spirits, it follows that the authority in judging, proving and condemning lies with the people, arid lies with them most rightfully. For every man, at his own peril, believes either rightly or wrongly; and therefore each must take care, on his own behalf, that he believe rightly. So that even common sense, and the need of salvation, argue the necessity of the hearer having the judgment. Otherwise it would be useless to say, Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. And again: The spiritual man judgeth all things, and is judged by no man. And whoever is a Christian is spiritual from having the spirit of Christ. All things are yours, Paul saith, whether Apollos, or Paul, or Cephas, that is to say, Ye have the right of judging the sayings and doings of all men.
You now see of what spirit were those sacrilegious and abominable Councils, which against so many clear fulminations of Scripture, and such uncontrovertible opinions, have dared to arrogate to themselves as Bishops the right of judging and discerning, and, above all, of commanding and constructing. Without doubt from Satan came those thoughts, whereby he has inundated the world with the workings of error, and has set up an abomination in the sacred place; and this he has done with unchallenged tyranny after having taken from the people their authority as judges, which false teachers were obliged to fear. For thus the way was laid open, through the stolid and superstitious obedience of the people, for all errors and abominations to rush in.
And here let me not forget my Henry, and the Sophists, who depend for their faith on length of time and numbers of men. In the first place he cannot deny that this tyranny of taking away this right has lasted more than a thousand years. For in the Council of Nicaea itself, the best of all the Councils, even then they were beginning to make laws and claim that right for themselves. And from that time till the present, it has been in force, so that nothing is more worthy to be received, nor can anything be more firmly proved on the theory of numbers and duration than this usurpation. So much so that there is no one today who does not think it to be wholesome, right, and divine. Nevertheless you see how this thing is sacrilege and impiety against the clear and invincible Scriptures of God.
Wherefore if such error, and such sacrilege, for such length of time has reigned among such great numbers of men who were either consenting, or seduced, or approving, and has reigned against the truth of God, I wish here, once for all, that, as regards the Sophists and Papists, their chief argument from duration and numbers should be trampled in the dust, and their mouths stopped, that they may see why God wills that we should believe in no creature whatever, however continuous, or numerous, or stupendous it may be, but only in His infallible word.
We have it established then beyond all controversy that the right of discerning and judging doctrines, or of approving teachers, is within our power, and not in the power of Councils, or Bishops, or Fathers, or Doctors. But it does not follow from this that at the same time we have the right to make laws; for this belongs to God alone. Our duty is to recognize His law (and His word), to approve it, judge and separate it from all other laws; but in no wise to make laws or make commands. Nor does it follow from the saying of Christ Beware of false prophets that therefore we all should prophesy. Nay as Peter says: No prophecy ever came by the will of man, and no scripture is of private origin, but holy men of God spake by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And so it does not follow: My sheep hear My voice, therefore, My sheep construct and make My voice; nay, on the contrary it follows: I make My voice; My sheep recognize it as Mine, approve it, and follow it.
Wherefore we see by this that all Bishops, all Councils, all Schools, who teach anything else in the Church besides the word of the only God, are wolves, ministers of Satan, and false prophets. At the same time we perceive the remarkable ignorance of our Henry, and all the Thomists, who open their impudent mouths against heaven, and dare to say in this sacrilegious book: Although the sacrament of holy orders was not instituted in the Scriptures, nevertheless the Church has the right to institute it.
And how foolishly has he applied the saying of Augustine, which he said concerning the Gospel being known and approved by the Church throughout the world, to the right of impious men to establish traditions of their own free-will. This is his way of understanding the sayings of the Fathers and of Scripture. These are they who write defences of the sacraments, whose belief is that numbers and duration have the power to make articles of faith, and who are so dull and stupid that they see no difference between discerning and commanding.
But here they will say: If the right of judging and proving belongs to single individuals, what will be the limit if the judges dissent, and each one judges after his own decision? Wherefore it is necessary that there be one, with whose judgment the rest may remain contented, so that the unity of the Church may be preserved.
I reply: This cavil suits none so well as the Thomists. And I also ask: What is the limit today, when all are relying on the judgment of one Pope? Where now is the unity preserved? And is this to preserve the unity, to be united externally under the Pope's name? Where is the unity of hearts? Who is certain in his conscience that the Pope decides rightly?
For unless there is certainty, there is no unity. Therefore under the Pope, there is indeed an external show of unity; but within there is nothing hut a Babylon of confusion, no stone upon another stone, no heart agreeing with another heart. Thus you see how successfully human rashness with its statutes provides a remedy in spiritual matters! Therefore must the unity of the Church be sought by another way.
This is the way which Christ has laid down (John VI): They shall be all taught of God. Every man who hath heard from My Father, cometh unto Me. The Spirit within alone makes men dwell together in peace in a house; He teaches them to think the same thing, to judge in the same way, to know the same thing, to approve the same thing, to teach alike, to make the same confession, and to follow after the same. Where this Spirit is not, it is impossible that there should be any unity. And even if any unity should exist, it would be but external and feigned unity.
Wherefore God takes no care whether wicked men are one, or not one, seeing that they are without the unity of the Spirit. To His children it is sufficient for outward unity that there be one Baptism, and one Bread, as being common marks and symbols whereby they profess and exercise their unity of faith and spirit. The Church of the Papists places its unity in the unity of its outward idol the Pope, while inwardly it is broken up by a vast confusion of errors in order to fulfill all the will of Satan.
Let us return to the institution. We have then taken away the Mass, and we say in triumph against the Defender of the sacraments, that it is not a work nor a sacrifice, but a word and a sign of divine grace, which Christ uses for establishing and strengthening in us faith in Himself. And we see how foolish Satan is, since the longer and fiercer he rages and writes against us, the more senseless and infatuated is his delirium. For this book of the King, as it is about the best in Latinity of all the books that have been written against me, so is it above all others the most blockish and stupid, so that I could almost attribute it to our writers in Leipsic, who are wont thus to babble when their babblement is at its best.
Having triumphed over the Mass, I think we have triumphed over the whole papacy. For upon the Mass as upon a rock is built the whole papacy with its monasteries, its bishoprics, its colleges, its altars, its ministers, its doctrines, and leans on it with its whole weight. And all these things must fall with the sacrilegious and abominable Mass. So Christ through me has begun to unmask the abomination standing in the holy place, and to destroy him, whose coming was through the operation of Satan in all wonders and lying miracles.
O that miserable Defender of the Papist Church! O miserable Church which in vain has poured forth its Indulgences for so great a book, except that a worthy reward it gave both to the Defender and to his book! For as are the Indulgences, so is the Church, so is the Defender, and so is the book also.
These things that I have said are enough for the defence of the chief sacrament, in handling which the Lord Henry greatly laboured with his assertions, as one who was not ignorant that therein lay the main thing for the preservation of the papal reign. The things remaining unsaid I am obliged to defer, being overwhelmed with many occupations, especially with translating the books of the Bible, most necessary works, lest I myself should promote the ends of Satan by my too great zeal in refuting him; for Satan by these senseless books thinks to hinder me, but he will not succeed.
Nor would it be of any great value to confute the stolid Thomists in their other six sacraments, since they bring forth nothing worth a reply in all that they write of the six sacraments except that one thing which is brought forward concerning the sacrament of holy orders, when Paul forsooth orders Titus that he ordain elders in all the Churches, proving by this passage that he wishes the sacrament of orders to be instituted. But the Thomist trifler sees neither what I may say, nor what he can reply to me.
I have denied that the giving of orders is a sacrament, that is, a promise with a sign of grace added, such as is baptism and the Bread. I have not denied, nay, I have asserted that there is a calling and an institution to the ministry and to preaching; whether this is done by the authority of a single apostle, or by the Bishop's authority alone, or by authority of the people's election and consent, it matters nothing. Although it would appear to be done more rightly by the election and consent of the people, in the manner in which the apostles (Acts VI) instituted seven deacons. For when Paul orders Titus to ordain elders, it does not therefore follow that Titus did that alone by his own authority; but it may be that after the example of the apostles he instituted them by the votes of the people. Otherwise the words of Paul would be in conflict with the example of the Apostles.
But as to what he alleges concerning the laying on of hands at ordination, even boys see that this has nothing to do with the sacrament of orders. After the manner of the papists he does with Scripture whatever seemeth him good. The laying on of hands, according to what he says, was the visible giving of the Holy Spirit.
And what shall I say? He has not even wished to understand the meaning of the word sacrament, which he plainly shows when he handles the passage of Paul (Eph. V) concerning matrimony, in which Paul refers to Christ and the Church, saying, This is a great sacrament, but I speak of Christ and the Church. For the Scripture does not permit that matrimony be called a sacrament, since the word sacrament by its general use in Scripture means a secret and hidden thing, which can be apprehended by faith alone. But matrimony is not such a hidden thing, nor is it perceived by faith alone, seeing that unless it be done openly and before men's eyes, it cannot be matrimony. For matrimony is the outward joining together of a man and a woman, confirmed by a public profession, and by an interchange of vows.
But it is not to be wondered that the Thomist asses are so ridiculous; for God has willed that they should show no sign of sanity, or even of right thinking. Although I have yielded to the common custom that calls those things sacraments which are rather visible signs, I have at the same time denied that they are called sacraments in the Scriptures.
The sum of the matter is this: The whole of Henry's book is based on the words of men, and on the use of the centuries, and on no words of God, nor on any use of the Spirit, as he himself is compelled to confess.
On the contrary, the sum of my argument is that whereas the words of men, and the use of the centuries, can be tolerated and endorsed, provided they do not conflict with the sacred Scriptures, nevertheless they do not make articles of faith, nor any necessary observances. If therefore King Henry, I in conjunction with all the might and learning of Thomists, papists, devils and men, can show that the observance of human words is necessary, then is Luther overthrown, and this by his own verdict and confession. For then, after all I have said, I must take as articles of faith whatever even the Thomists choose o order. But if Henry cannot show this, then Luther is victorious. For what do they want? Not if they were to write a thousand books against me, will they ever be able with me to make any other issue.
For I do not ask what Ambrose, Augustine, or the Councils, and use of the centuries say; nor was there any need for King Henry to teach me these things; for I knew them so well that I once before even attacked them, whence the folly of Satan is to be wondered at, which attacks me with the very things which once before attacked; and constantly begs the question. I lo not, I confess, dispute what has been said by some man, or lot said; what has been written, or not written; but I argue whether this saying, or writing, is necessary to be observed, whether it is an article of faith, whether it is on an equality with the word of God, whether it binds the conscience. I put he question: Is it to be liberty, or captivity? For liberty I fight; the King fights for captivity. I have shown the reasonableness of liberty. The King omits his reasons for captivity; and merely babbling on that which is captivity, brings us into bondage without assigning our fault. And so, Farewell to the foolish and unhappy Defender of the Babylonish Captivity, and of his papal Church.
In conclusion, If my rough speech towards the King offends my man, let him have this for his reply: I am dealing in this book with heartless monsters who have despised all my good and modest writings, and from my humility have become more hardened. In spite of that, I have kept from the virulence and lying with which the King's book is crammed. Nor is it much if I despise and bite this earthly King, since he has not feared with his words to blaspheme the King of heaven, and to take away by his virulent lies from His holiness. The Lord judges the nations in righteousness. Amen.