LUTHER’S TABLE TALKS: On the HOLY GHOST and on FREE WILL
by Martin Luther
LUTHER, MARTIN. Dris Martini Lutheri Colloquia Mensalia: or Dr. Martin Luther’s Divine
Discourses At his Table, and c. Which in his life Time hee held with divers Learned Men (such as
were Philip Melancthon, Casparus Cruciger, Justus Jonas, Joannes Forsterus, and others)
conteining Questions and Answers touching Religion, and other main Points of Doctrine, as also
many notable Histores, and all sorts of Learning. Comforts, Advises, Prophecies, Admonitions,
Directions and Instructions. Collected first together by Antoinius Lauterbach, and afterward
disposed into certain Common places by John Aurifaber Dr. in Divinite. Translated out of high
Germane into the English Tongue by Capt. Henrie Bell. [8 lines] [small device] London, Printed
by William Du-Gard dwelling in Suffolk-lane, near London-stone. 1652. Folio.
MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546), founder of the German Reformation. The son of a miner at
Mansfeld in Saxony, he was educated at the Cathedral School at Magdeburg, at Eisenach, and at
Erfurst university (1501-5), where he studied esp. philosophy. In 1505 he entered the monastery
of the Augustinian Hermits at Erfurt, in fulfilment of a vow made during a thunderstorm. He was
ordained priest in 1507, and in the following year was sent as lecturer to the recently founded
university of Wittenberg, continuing his studies and lecturing on moral philosophy. In 1510 he
was sent to Rome on affairs of his order. Soon after his return to Wittenburg in 1511 he became
doctor of theology and professor of Scripture, holding this post till his death. In 1515 he was
made vicar of his order, an office entailing the charge of 11 Augustinian monasteries.
From now onwards his teaching diverged increasingly from the traditional Catholic beliefs and
began to assume a characteristic shape. He was influenced by the Nominalism taught at the
contemporary universities and the exaggerated pessimism prevalent in the Augustinian Order;
but the chief factor in its development seems to have been his own passionate and melancholy
nature. Anxiety about his own salvation caused him many scruples; and the fact that the routine
of the religious life failed to bring him confidence and relief led him at last to give up such of his
regular religious duties as the daily celebration of Mass and the recital of the Divine Office.
About this time took place also the so-called Turmerlebnis’ Tower experience’, usually dated
between 1512 and 1515). This took the form of a sudden revelation which convinced him of the
essence of the Gospel, namely that faith alone justifies without works, and gave him a belief
destined to become the corner-stone of his creed. He found support for this doctrine in certain
passages in St. Augustine’s anti-Tauler and the Theologia Germanica, with their emphasis on the
nothingness of man before God. From 1516 he gradually came to deny, as a consequence of his
belief that faith entails the certitude of salvation for every Christian, the necessity for the
mediatorial function of the Church and the priesthood. When in 1517 . Tetzel preached on the
Indulgences granted by Leo X for contributions to the renovation of St. Peter’s in Rome, the
crisis came. Against the indulgences Luther drew up his famous 95 theses, which he affixed to
the door of the Schlosskitche at Wittenberg. Within a fortnight they had spread throughout
Germany, where they were welcomed esp. by the Humanists and other circles desiring the reform
of the Church.
In 1520 the break with the medieval Church was completed by his three celebrated reforming
writings of that year. The first, An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation, was addressed to take
the reform of the Church into their own hands, and to abolish tributes to Rome, the celibacy of
the clergy, Masses for the dead, pilgrimages, religious orders, and other Catholic practices and
institutions. The tremendous success which greeted this pamphlet led him to issue his De
Captivitate Babylonica Ecclesiae (publd. in Latin and German, Von der babylonischen
Gefangenschaft der Kirche). He considered that the Babylonian captivity of the Church consisted
in the denial to the laity of Communion in both kinds, and in the doctrines of Transubstantiation
and the Sacrifice of the Mass. Only Baptism and the Eucharist were held to be Sacraments. In the
last of the trilogy, Von der Freiheit eines Christenmenschen, he proclaimed the liberation of the
Christian by faith, which frees him from the obligation of performing good works. By the bull
Exsurge Domine’ of 15 June 1520, 41 of Luther’s theses were censured as heretical; his writings
were ordered to be destroyed; and he himself was threatened with the ban if he did not retract
within 60 days. Luther replied by burning the bull together with a number of Catholic books, and
was duly excommunicated by the bull Decet Romanum Pontificem’ of 3 Jan. 1521.
Summoned before the Diet of Worms in 1521, where he again refused to recant, Luther was put
under the ban of the Empire. The Elector of Saxony, however, fearing for his safety, arranged a
simulated attack on him and had him brought to the Wartburg, nr. Eisenach, where he spent the
next eight months fighting his doubts as to the rightfulness of his action as temptations of the
devil, and regarding his condemnation by Church and State as trials sent to confirm his mission.
He also wrote many pamphlets, e.g. against monastic vows and the Sacrifice of the Mass. Much
the most enduring of his literary productions begun in this period was his fine translation of the
Bible. The first version in German language, and made it henceforward a dominant influence in
German religion. It also contributed largely to the formation of the modern German tongue.
While Luther was living in seclusion at the Wartburg his ideas spread rapidly throughout the
country. Hand in hand with the revival of popular religious enthusiasm went the abandonment of
many traditional practices. Priests married, monks and nuns left their monasteries. Carlstadt,
however, joined the Anabaptists and, seeking to destroy all altars, images, and crucifixes,
proceeded to such lengths that, in 1522, Luther found it necessary to leave the Wartburg and
return to Wittenberg to restore order with the help of the secular authorities. He resumed his
lectures and abolished many Catholic practices, including private Mass, Confession, and fasts. In
1524 he finally discarded his religious habit, and in the next year, shortly after the death of the
Elector, who had discountenanced marriages between priests and religious, married the former
Cistercian nun, Catherine von Bora. In the same year he advised the German princes to wage war
against the peasants who had risen in arms, an attitude which cost him the sympathies of a large
section of the population.
The religious and political situation, however, continued to favour the spread of his teaching. His
noble German hymns, which gave the congregation a larger part in the service, won many for his
innovations; and his work was facilitated esp. by the decision of the Diet of Speyer in 1526,
which established the right of the princes to organize national Churches. Already the movement
had spread to other countries. But now differences among the Reformers began to be differences
among the Reformers began to be serious. At the Colloquy of Martburg (1529), a deep cleavage
between Luther and H. Zwingli on the nature of the Eucharistic Presence revealed itself. In 1530,
though prevented from appearing at the Diet of Augsburg on account of the ban of the Empire,
he approved of the comparatively conciliatory Augsburg Confession (Confessio Augustana),
drawn up by P. Melanchthon, but discountenanced all further attempts at restoring union with the
Catholic Church. In the Schmalkalden Articles (1537) the doctrinal differences between Luther
and Romer were furthered emphasized. In 1539 he sanctioned the bigamous marriage of Philip of
Hesse, in a written document, though he later endeavoured to minimize his responsibility for this
action. His last years were darkened by the increasing dissensions among his adherents which
could be subdued only be placing the cause of doctrinal unity in the hands of the secular
Luther’s character, very complex in itself, has attracted both fervent admiration and violent
enmity. His deep emotions completely controlled his powers of judgement. His great command
of language and his successful oratory won him a wide popular hearing, but in controversy he
had few scruples as to the character of his arguments, and to attempt to assess conflicting
evidence dispassionately was quite foreign to his nature. His central doctrines were a mirror of
his temperament and of his own experiences. His deep pessimism led him to affirm the total
depravity of mankind and the uselessness of human reason, whereas his personal need for a
gracious God’ created the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s merits by faith alone, without
any human cooperation. Even Baptism could not restore man’s freedom for the good. The
movements of concupiscence which remain after Baptism he held to be mortal sins. Man is, in
fact, wholly under the power of evil and can do nothing but sin. Justification is something which
is accomplished in man by a kind of legal fiction, acc. to which God rewards sinful man as
righteous, owing to the merits of Christ, though in reality he remains as sinful as before. In the
hymn, Aus tieffer Not schrey ich zu dyr’, Luther expressed his thought: Es ist doch unser Tun
umsonst, auch in dem besten Leben’ ( All we do is in vain, even in the best life’). But the
complete uselessness and even sinfulness of all human activity which would logically follow
from such teaching were never admitted either by Luther himself or by his followers. The
negative attitude to religious human effort, however, showed in the growing dichotomy of
interior religion and exterior behaviour, with the consequence that Luther left the latter, including
all outward manifestations of religion, to be entirely regulated by the secular powers.
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
CHAP. VIII.: OF THE HOLIE GHOST
The Holie Ghost (said Luther) hath two Offices: First, Hee is a Spirit of Grace, that maketh God
gratious unto us, and to receiv us as God’s acceptable children. Secondly, Hee is a Spirit of
Praier, that praieth for us, and for the whole world, to the end that all evil may bee turned from
us, and that all goodness may happen towards us. The Spirit of Grace teacheth other people, but
the Spirit of Praier praieth, That God’s Name may bee Hallowed.
It is a wonder (said Luther) that one onely thing is acted and finished divers kindes of waies. It is
one thing to have the Holie Spirit, and it is another thing to have the Revealing of the same; for
manie have had the Holie Spirit before the Birth of Christ, and yet notwithstanding, hee was not
revealed unto them.
Wee do not separate the Holie Ghost from Faith; neither do wee teach that hee is against Faith;
for hee is the certaintie it self in the Word, that maketh us sure and certain of the Word, so that
without all wavering or doubting wee certainly believ, That it is even so and no otherwise, then
as God’s Word saith and is delivered unto us. But the Holie Ghost is given to none without the
Word (saith Luther) but through the Word.
At the same time of this Discourse, Doctor Hennage said to Luther, Sir! where you saie that the
Holie Spirit is the certaintie in the Word towards God, that is, that a man is certain of his own
minde and opinion; then it must needs follow, that all Sects have the H. Ghost, for they will
needs bee most certain of their Doctrine and Religion.
Hereunto Luther answered him, and said, Mahomet, the Pope, and Papists, the Anabaptists, and
other Sectaries, have no certaintie at all, neither can they bee sure of these things; for they depend
not on God’s Word, but on their own Righteousness; they have nothing upright, they construe
and make Glosses, they understand God’s Word according to their humane and natural sens and
reason. And when although they have don manie and great works, yet they stand alwaies in
doubt, and must think thus, Who knoweth, whether this which wee have don bee pleasing to God
or no; or, whether wee have don works enough or not. They must continually think with
themselvs, Wee are still unworthie, etc.
But (said Luther) a true and godlie Christian (between these two doubts) is sure and certain, and
faith, I regard nothing these doubtings; I neither look upon my holiness, nor upon my
unworthiness, but I believ in Jesus Christ, who is both holie and worthie: and whether I bee holi
or unholie, yet am I sure and certain, that Christ giveth himself (with all his holiness, worthiness,
and what hee is and hath) to bee mine own. For my part, I am a poor sinner, and that I am sure of
out of God’s Word.
Therefore the Holie Gost onely and alone is able to saie, Jesus Christ is the Lord; the Holie Ghost
teacheth, preacheth and declareth Christ, all others do blaspheme him. The Holie Ghost (said
Luther) goeth first and before in what perteineth to Teaching, but in what concerneth Hearing,
the Word goeth first and before, and then the Holie Ghost followeth after. For wee must first hear
the Word, and then afterwards the Holie Ghost worketh in our hearts: hee worketh in the hearts
of whom hee will, and when hee pleaseth. To conclude, the Holie Ghost worketh not without the
At what time the Holie Ghost began to finish his Office.
The Holie Ghost (said Luther) began to finish his Office and work openly on Whitsundaie in the
New Testament (as Christ nameth him a Comforter, and a Spirit of Truth) for hee gave to the
Apostles and Disciples of Christ a true and a certain comfort in their hearts, hee gave them a
secure and a joiful courage, insomuch that they regarded not whether the world and the Divel
were merrie or sad, whether they were friends or enemies, were Angrie or laughed. They went on
in all securitie up and down the streets in the Citie, and doubtless, they had these, and the like
cogitations; Wee regard neither Hannas nor Caiphas, neither Pilate nor Herod, they are nothing
worth, but wee are all in all: they altogether are our subjects and servants, and wee their Lords
In such manner went the loving Apostles on, and proceeded with all outrage, and without asking
anie leave or licence.
They asked not first, whether they should preach or no, or whether the Priests and people would
allow thereof; O no ! They went on boldly, they opened their mouths freely, and reproved all the
people (both Rulers and Subjects) as murtherers, as wicked wretches and Traitors who had slain
the Prince of life.
And indeed (said Luther) such a spirit was very needful and necessarie at that time for the
Apostles and Disciples (even as to this daie hee is also needful for us); for our Adversaries do
now accuse us, as they did then the Apostles, for Rebels, for disturbers of the Union and peace of
the Church: what eveil soever happeneth, that, say they, have wee don, or are the caussers of the
Our blasphemers crie now out, and saie, Before in Popedom it was not so evil as now it is since
this Doctrine came in; now wee have had and have all manner of mischiefs, dearth, wars, and the
All fault (said Luther) they put in our preaching, and if they could charge us to bee the caus of
the Divel’s falling from heaven; yea, that wee had crucified and slain Christ, they would not omit
Therefore the Whitsuntide Sermons of the Holie Ghost, are very needful for us, that thereby wee
may bee comforted, and with boldness may contemn and flight such blaspheming, that Holie
Ghost may put boldness and courage into our hearts, that wee may blaspheme us: and although
sects and heresies arise, yet wee may not regard the same. Such a courage (said Luther) must
there bee, that careth for nothing, but boldly and and freely to acknowledg and to preach Christ,
who so wickedly was made away, condemned and slain.
For the manner and nature of the Gospel is, to bee a ridiculous and an offensive preaching, which
in all places of the world is rejected and condemned.
If (said Luther) the Gospel might not offend and anger neither Citizen nor Countrie man, neither
Prince nor Bishop, then it would bee a fine and an acceptable preaching, and well might bee
tolerated, and people would willingly hear and receiv it with pleasure and delight. But seeing it is
such a kinde of preaching which maketh people angrie, (especially the great, high and powerful
persons, and such as will bee deep-learned ones in the world) so belongeth thereunto truly a
courage, and the Holie Ghost to those that intend to preach the same.
It was indeed (said Luther) an undaunted courage in the poor Beggers and Fishers (the Apostle)
to stand up to preach in such sort, that the whole Council at Jerusalem were angered and
offended thereat, and thereby to being and load upon their backs the wrath and displeasure of the
whole Government of the Spiritual and Temporal State, yea, of the Romane Emperor himself;
and (which is more) to open their mouths so wide, and to saie, Yee are all Traitors and
murtherers, &c, Truly, the same could not have been don without the Holie Ghost.
Therefore, the Sermons, appointed for Whitsuntide, of the Holie Ghost should bee also our
comfort and joie, and in like manner should put courage into our hearts at this time to preach
likewwise undauntedly, and not to regard the anger and blaspheming of the world, but that wee
should dare to wage and venture all things, and alwaies bee readie to suffer for Christ’s sake.
A great wonder it was (said Luther) that the High Priests, together with Pontius Pilate, did not
caus those Preachers that hour to bee put to death. For it sounded much of Rebellion, that the
Apostles stood up, and preached of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, against the Spiritual and
temporal Government; yet notwithstanding both High Priests and Pilate must bee struck with
fear, as indeed they deserved well to bee made afraid even where no fear was, to th’end that God
might shew his power in the sillie Apostles weakness.
This is the manner and proceeding of Christendom, it goeth on in apparent weakness; and yet in
such weakness there is such and so great and mightie strength and power, that all the worldlie
wise and powerful thereat must stand amazed, and in fear thereof.
What the holie Ghost is.
It is witnessed by holie Scripture (said Luther), and the Symbolum of Nice out of holie Scripture
teacheth, that the holie Ghost is Hee that maketh alive, and Hee that together with the Father &
the Son is worshipped, and with them is honored. Therefore the holie Ghost of necessitie must
bee true and everlasting God with the Father and the Son in one onely Essence. For if Hee were
not true and everlasting God, then could not bee attributed and given unto Him the divine power
and honor, that Hee maketh alive, and that together with the Father and the Son Hee is
worshipped and honored, touching which point the holie Fathers powerfully did set themselves
against the Hereticks, and out of holie Scripture stoutly mainteined the same.
Of the Office of the holie Ghost.
The holie Ghost (said Luther) is an everlasting God, as wee acknowledg and believ in our
Christian Faith. Our Savior Christ giveth sundrie Names and Titles to the holie Ghost: First, Hee
nameth Him a Reprover, Who reproveth the world of sin, etc. Secondly, a Comforter. Thirdly, a
Spirit of Truth. Fourthly, that Hee proceedeth from the Father, and therein, that Hee is true and
eternal God with the Father and the Son. Fiftly, that Hee witnesseth of Christ, etc.
Wherewith the holie Ghost comforteth, and from whence Hee is called a Comforter.
Answer: The world (saith Christ) will excommunicate and kill you as Hereticks and Rebels, and
will think they do right therein; yea, that therein they do God good service; yee must bee held in
the wrong, so that every man will saie, O ! these Hereticks are served well and rightly, Who
would wish them better? As then you will bee weak in your Consciences, and oftentimes yee will
think with your selvs, Who knoweth whether wee have don well and rightly or no? surely, wee
have don too much; insomuch that yee will bee held to bee in the wrong both before the world
and in your own Consciences.
As if Christ should saie further unto them, Forasmuch as I know alreadie how it will go with you,
namely, that you shall finde comfort neither in the world, nor by your selvs; therefore I will not
forsake nor suffer you to stick in such need, neither will I lead you so far into the mire, that yee
shall bee sunk therein; but when all comfort in the world is gon, and when yee are terrified and
dismaid, then will I send unto you the holie Ghost who is called, and is the true Comforter, Hee
shall cheer up your hearts again, and shall saie unto you, Bee of good comfort, and faint not, do
not regard nor care for the censure of the world, nor what your own cogitations are, but hold yee
fast on that which I saie. The holie Ghost (said Luther) is a Comforter, and not a breeder of
sorrow; for where sorrow and heaviness is, there the holie Ghost (the Comforter) is not at home.
The Divel is a spirit of fear and of frighting, but the holie Ghost is a Comforter.
Why the holie Ghost is called the Spirit of Truth.
Answer: The holie Ghost (said Luther) is not such a Comforter as the world is, where neither
Truth nor Constancie is; but hee is a True, and Everlasting, and a Constant Comforter, without
deceit and lies; Hee is one whom no man can deceiv.
Wherefore is Hee called a Witness?
Answer: Because Hee beareth witness onely of Christ and of none other; without this witness of
the holie Ghost concerning Christ, there is no true nor constant comfort. Therefore (said Luther)
it resteth all on this, that wee take sure hold on this Text, and saie, I believ in Jesus Christ, who
died for mee, and I know, that the holie Ghost (who is called, and is a witness and a Comforter)
doth preach and witness (in Christendom) of none besides, but onely of Christ, therewith to
strengthen and comfort all sad and sorrowful hearts. Therein will I also remain, and will depend
upon none other Comfort.
Witnesses out of holie Scripture, that the holie Ghost is God, and yet Hee is another Person then
is the Father and the Son.
Herein (said Luther) it is needless to give credit and to believ what man saith; for our blessed
Saviour Christ Himself preacheth and witnesseth in most loving and sweet sort, that the holie
Ghost is Everlasting and Almightie God. Otherwise Hee would not have directed His
Commission and Command in that form and wise, where Hee saith, Go, and teach all Nations,
and baptize them in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the holie Ghost, and teach them to
keep and observ all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and c. Matth. 28. But seeing Hee
directeth His Commission in such sort with express words, it must need’s follow therefore, that
the holie Ghost is true, eternall God in equal power and might with the Father and the Son
without all end. Otherwise Christ would not have set and placed Him next and with Himself and
the Father in such a work which concerneth no less then the Remission of sins and everlasting
life. Likewise Christ saith also, And I will praie the Father, and Hee shall give yow another
Comforter, that Hee may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world
cannot receiv, becaus it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him. Mark well, I praie, (said Luther)
this sentence; For wee finde therein the difference of the Three Persons in most excellent
manner. I (saith Christ) will praie the Father, and Hee shall give you another Comforter. Here
(said Luther) wee have two Persons, Christ the Son that praieth, and the Father that is praied
unto. Now if the Father shall give such a Comforter, then the Father Himself cannot bee that
Comforter; neither can Christ (that praieth) bee the same. Insomuch that very significantly the
Three Persons herein are plainly pictured and portraied unto us. For even as the Father and the
Son are two fistinct and sundrie Persons; Even so, the third person of the holie Ghost is another
distinct Person, and yet notwithstnading there is but one onely everlasting God.
Now what the same third Person is, Christ teracheth, Joh.15. where Hee saith, But when the
Comforter is com, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which
proceedeth from the Father, Hee shall testifie of Mee, etc.
In this place (said Luther) Christ speaketh not onely of the Office and work of the holie Ghost,
but also of His Essence and Substance, and faith, Hee proceedeth from the Father, that is, His
proceeding is without beginning, and everlasting. Therefore the holie Prophets do attribute and
give unto Him this Title, and do call Him, The Spirit of the Lord, Joel 2.
FREE-WILL AS LUTHER UNDERSTANDS IT
CHAP. X. OF FREE-WILL.
Of the Name of Free-Will
The verie name [Free-Will] was odious (said Luther) to all the Fathers. I, for my part, do yield,
that God hath given to mankinde a Free-will, but here is the question; Whether the same
Freedom bee in our power and strength, or no? Wee may very fitly call it, a subverted, a perverse
and a sickle wavering Will; for it is onely God that worketh in us, and wee must suffer and
subject our selvs to his pleasure. Even as a Potter out of his claie maketh a pot or vessel either for
use of honor, or otherwise of dishonor. Just so is it with our Free-will, onely to suffer, and not to
work, passive, non active, which standeth not in our strength; for wee are not able to do any thing
that is good in divine causes.
What our Free-will doth effect.
I (Said Luther) oftentimes have been directly resolved, and withall serious contemplation I
entended to live uprightly and to lead a true godlie life all (other cogitations, lets and hindrances
whatsoever set aside) but it was far from beeing put in execution; even as it was with Peter, when
hee sware hee would laie down his life for Christ.
I (said Luther) will not lie nor dissemble before my God, but will freely confess, I am not able to
effect that good which I do intend, but must exspect the happie hour when God shall bee pleased
to meet mee with his Grace.
The Will of mankinde is either presumptuous or desperate. No humane creature can satisfie the
Law. For (said Luther) the Law of God discouarseth with mee (as it were after this manner
following, Here is a great, a high and a steep mountain, and thou must go over it, whereupon my
flesh and Free-will faith, I will go over it; but my Conscience saith, Thou canst not go over it:
then cometh Despair, and faith, If I cannot, I will let it alone. In this fort doth the Law work in
mankinde either presumption or despair; yet nevertheless, the Law must bee preached and taught;
for if wee preach not the Law, then people grow rude and secure; but if wee preach it, then wee
make them afraid.
Of Free-will’s Abilitie.
Saint Austin writeth, that the Free will, without God’s Grace and the Holie Ghost, can and may
do nothing but sin; which sentence sorely presseth and troubleth the School-Divines. They saie,
Austin spake Hyperbolice, and too much; for they understand that part of Scripture to bee spoken
onely of those people which were and lived before the Deluge, where God saith, And God saw
that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that everie imagination of the thoughts of
his heart was onely evil continually, etc. whenas notwithstanding, hee speaketh even there in
general, which these poor School-divines do not see; as also they neither see nor understand what
the Holie Ghost saith soon after the Deluge, almost the self same words as before, in this manner,
And the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curs the ground anie more for man’s sake; for the
imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, etc. Here hee speaketh not onely of those that
were before the Deluge, but also os all the posteritie of Noah, even after the Deluge.
Therefore (said Luther) wee conclude in general, That man, without the Holie Ghost and God’s
Grace, can do nothing but sin, goeth and proceedeth therein continually without intermission,
and from one sin falleth into another. Now, if as then man will not suffer the wholsome doctrine,
but contemneth the All-saving Word, and resisteth the Holie Ghost, then through the fruits and
help of his Free-will hee becommeth God’s enemie, hee blasphemeth the Holie Ghost, and
presently followeth the lusts and desires of his own heart, as examples in all time do clearly
Our Adversaries the Papists do make good the same; for wee cannot make them believ that they
sin and err, in practising and using ungodlie and fals worshippings.
The same also is witnessed by manie sentences in holie Scripture; for the 14th Psal. speaketh in
general with express words, and faith, The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of
men, to see if there were anie that would understand and seek after God. But they are all gon out
of the way, etc. The 116 Psal. also saith, All men are liers, and Saint Paul saith, God hath shut up
All these sentences (said Luther) are altogether in general and strongly do conclude on our side;
namely, That man, without the Holie Ghost, can do nothing but err and sin, which Christ
presenteth and giveth; from whence Christ in the Gospel saith, I am the Vine, yee are the
branches, etc. without mee yee can do nothing. If a man abide not in mee, hee is cast forth as a
branch, and is withered.
And this is the caus, that the Office of the Holie Ghost is to reprove the world; namely, to the end
hee may bring and call people to repentence, and to the acknowledgment of their sins. But (said
Luther) the world remian’s continually such as alwaies it hath been and although prople are put in
minde and through God’s Word admonished, yet they hear not, but think that God hath pleasure
in their worshipping which they themselves have chosen, notwithstanding God’s Word and
command to the contrarie.
If in case (said Luther) a General Council should bee called and assembled; It is certain, it would
bee the onely sentence and conclusion of the Pope, and of his retinue, formly to hold and observ
that which they Decree: And although wee called and cried our hearts out, and said, That man,
without the Holie Ghost or Faith, is before God condemned, (for the heart of man, yea all his
cogitations are evil) yet should wee prevail nothing therwith, but it would by them bee altogether
disregarded. Therefore wee must arm our selvs, and stick fast to this doctrine, and must keep that
which sin and our condemned nature sheweth unto us; for this acknowledgment of sin is the
beginning of saving health and salvation.
For why complaineth St. Paul, and roundly confesseth, That there is nothing good in him
(expresly saying) In my flesh? but to the end wee should learn, that onely and alone the Holie
Ghost can heal our defects, our faults and diseases. Now if this bee surely believed in the heart,
then a great foundation is laid of our everlasting felicitie in heaven; for afterwards wee have clear
and most certain witnesses, that God rejecteth not sinners which do acknowledg and confess their
sins, do desire to better themselvs, and do thirst after righteousness, or after the forgiveness of
sins for Christ’s sake.
But (said Luther) wee must, with highest diligence take heed, that wee bee not found among
those roaring haughtie Gentlemen and heaven breakers, which do resist the Holie Ghost and
God’s Word, and do boast of their Free will, of their strength and abilitie. For although wee
oftentimes do err, fall and sin, yet when wee yield and gove place to the Holie Ghost (which
reproveth us) with humble confession of our wickedness, that wee are wholly spoiled and
poisoned by nature; then the Holie Ghost appeareth and is present with us, and doth not onely not
impute the acknowledged and confessed sin, but also doth overshadow and cover them with the
Grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and richly endueth us with other gifts both temporal
But wee must well and diligently weigh the words which the Holie Ghost speaketh through
Moses, for hee saith not slightly, The thoughts of man are evil, but, Every imagination of the
thoughts of his heart is evil continually: insomuch, that what a man is able to conceiv with his
thoughts, with his understanding and Free-will with highest diligence, the same is evil (saith hee)
and not once or twice, etc. but it is evil continually; that is, alwaies from time to time: and
without the Holie Ghost, man’s reason, his will and understanding is without the knowleg of
God; but to bee without the knowledge of God, is nothing els than to bee ungodlie, to walk in
darkness, and to hold that for best, which is directly worst.
But (said Luther) I speak onely of that which is good in a divine sort, and according to the holie
Scripture; for in this case wee must make a difference between that which is temporal, and that
which is spiritual, between policie and divinitie; for God doth also allow of the Government of
the ungodlie, doth reward their virtues, yet onely so far as belongeth to this temporal life, and
man’s wit, will, and understanding conceiveth that to bee good which is external and temporal,
yea also, it taketh the same to bee not onely good, but to bee the best and chiefest good.
But when wee (Divines) deal about Free-will, wee demand in a divine manner, what man’s
Free-will is able to accomplish in divine and spiritual matters, not in outward and temporal
affairs which are subject to humane wisdom, reason, and understanding? And wee do directly
conclude, That man, without the Holie Ghost, is altogether wicked before God, although hee
were tricked up and trimmed with all the virtues of the Heathen, and had all their works.
There are indeed (said Luther) fair and glorious examples in the histories of the Heathen touching
manie virtues; that they were fine and temperate, and lived chast lives, they were bountiful, they
loved theit Countrie, parents, wives and children; they were men of courage, valiant, they shewed
and behaved themselvs courteous and friendly.
But I saie, That the verie cogitations of mankinde concerning God, concerning the true
worshipping of God, and concerning God’s Will, are altogether stark blinde and darkness. For the
light of humane wit, wisdom, sens, reason and understanding, which alone is given to man)
understandeth but onely what is good and profitable outwardly.
And although wee see, that the Heathen Philosophers now and then did dispute touching God,
and of his wisdom wherewith hee ruleth all things, not much impertinent, nor far our of the waie
(insomuch as som do conceiv, they disputed Christian-like therein, and in a manner have made
Prophets of Socrates, of Zenophon, of Plato, etc. ) yet notwithstanding, seeing they disputed
thereof in such sort, as they knew not that God sent his Son Christ to save sinners; therefore,
such fair, glorious and wise-seeming cogitations, speeches and disputations are nothing els but
mearly blindness and ignorance, and are altogether blasphemings, according to the true sens of
the foresaid part of Scripture in Moses, which expressly saith, All the imaginations of the
thoughts of man’s heart is evil continually.
Another discourse of Free-will.
Ah Lord God (saith Luther)! why should wee anie waie boast of our Free-will, as if it were able
to do anie thing in divine and spiritual matters were they never so smal? For when wee will
consider with our selvs, what horrible miseries the Divel hath brought upon us through sin
(which are innumerable and monstrous) then wee might even shame our selvs to death.
For first, Free-will did lead us into Original sin, and brought death upon us: afterwards, upon sin
followed not onely death, but also all manner of mischief, as daily wee finde in the world;
murther, lying, deceiving, stealing and other hurts, insomuch that no man is in safetie the
twinkling of an eie, neither in bodie nor goods, which alwaies do hover and stand in danger.
Over and besides these mishaps, there is yet a greater, (as in the Gospel is noted) that people are
possessed of the Divel, who maketh them mad and raging, in such sort, that by reason of sin, the
generation of mankinde is nothing els but a stinking and filthie Jakes of all the Divels. For now
there lieth on our necks everlasting death and God’s wrath. Moreover, wee are never in quiet, but
are plagued here on earth both in bodie and soul.
Now (said Luther) what goodness can such a spoiled and poisoned creature think, much less act
and effect, (who is the Divel’s instrument, yea, his Jakes, as aforesaid) that might bee pleasing to
God, specially in divine and spiritual matters which concern the salvation of our souls.
In temporal things which pertein to bodie and wealth, and to this worldlie life, as to Govern Land
and people, to Rule in Hous keeping, etc. the Free-will may do somthing that hath a shew and
respect before men; But everie thing that proceedeth not our of Faith is sin, saith St. Paul.
Wee know nor rightly what fruits wee became after the Fall of our first parents; what from our
mothers wee have brought with us. Wee have brought altogether a confounded, a spoiled, and a
poisoned nature both on bodie and soul: In all our strength is nothing that is good, as the
And this is my absolute opinion (said Luther): hee that will maintein and defend man’s Free-will,
that it is able to do or work anie thing in spiritual causes, (bee they never so smal) the same hath
denied Christ. This I have alwaies maintein’s in my Writings, specially in those which I wrote
against Erasmus Roterodamus, (one of the principallest learned men in the whole world) and
thereby will I remain, and I know it is the most certain truth; and although all the world should
bee against it, and otherwise conclude it, yet the decreee of the Divine Majestie must stand fast
against the gates of Hell.
Touching this point, I finde my self much wronged by som (specially by the Synergists) who
prate and allege, That I had altered my harsh opinion concerning Free-will, and had mollified the
same, (as they term it) seeing it is directly against their Errors, and they falsly give out, that they
are my disciples.
I confess, that mankinde hath a Free-wil, but it is to milk Kine, to build houses, etc. and no
further: for so long as a man sitteth well and in safetie, and sticketh in no want, so long hee
thinketh, hee hath a Free-will which is able to do somthing; but when want and need appeareth,
that there is neither to eat nor to drink, neither monie nor provision, Where is then the Free-will?
It is utterly lost, and cannot stand when it cometh to the pinch. But Faith onely standeth fast and
sure, and seeketh Christ.
Therefore Faith is far another thing then is Free-will, nay; Free-will is nothing at all, but Faith is
all in all. I praie, (said Luther) put it to the Trial; Art thou bold and stout, and canst thou carrie it
lustily out with thy Free-will when plague, wars, and times of dearth and famine are at hand? In
the time of plague thou knowest not what to begin for fear; then thou wishest they self there, and
there, a hundred miles off. In time of dearth thou thinkest, Where shall I have to eat? Thy Will
connot so much as give thy heart the smallest comfort in these times of need, but the longer, the
more it maketh thy heart faint and feeble, insomuch as it is affrighted even at the rushing and
shaking of a leaf; These are the valiant Acts (said Luther) which our Free-will can do and
But on the contrarie, Faith is the Domina and Empress; and although it bee but small and weak,
yet it standeth, and suffereth not it self to bee utterly dejected. Faith hath great and mightie parts,
as wee see in holie Scripture, and on the loving disciples; Waves, windes, seas and all manner of
misfortune do appear even undo death: Who in such a case would not bee affrighted? But Faith
(how weak soever) standeth like a wall, and little David-like assaulteth Goliah, that is, It fighteth
against sin, death, and all danger, specially it sighteth valiantly when it is a strong and complete
Faith: A weak Faith striveth well, but it is not so bold.
Whether the Free-will of Mankinde worketh anie thing in the Conversion and Justification.
Som new Divines do allege (said Luther), That the Holie Ghost worketh not in those that do
resist him, but onely in such as are willing and give consent thereto, whereby it appeareth, that
the Free-will is also a caus and helper of Faith; whereout also followeth, That Faith onely
Justifieth not, nor that the Holie Ghost onely worketh through the Word, but that our Will doth
But I saie (said Luther) it is not so; the Will of mankinde worketh nothing at all in his
Conversion and Justification; Non eft efficiens causs a Justificationis, sed materialis tantum, It
suffereth onely, and is the matter on which the Holie Ghost worketh (as a Potter maketh a pot out
of clay); also in those that resist and are advers, as in St. Paul. But after that the Holie Ghost hath
wrought in the Wills of such resistants and advers parties, as then hee also maketh and prepareth
that the Will is willing, and as it were consenting thereunto.
They saie and allege further, That the example of St. Paul’s Conversion is a particular and special
work of God, therefore the same cannot bee brought in for a general rule, as should it bee held so
with all others. I answer (said Luther); Even like as St. Paul was Converted, even just so are all
others Converted; for wee all resist God, but the Holie Ghost draweth the Will of mankinde in
his time, when hee peaseth through preaching.
Even as no man can or may with God’s honor beget children, but onely in the state of matrimonie
(although manie married people have no childreen), even so the Holie Ghost worketh not alwaies
through the Word, but when it pleaseth him. Insomuch now, that the Free-wil doth nothing
inwardly in our Conversion and Justification before God; neither doth it work with our strength
(no not in the least kinde) but onely suffereth that wee bee prepared and made fit by the Holie
Ghost, as a Potter fitteth his claie.
The sentences in holie Scripture touching Predestination (as there is, No man can com to mee
except the Father draweth him) do seem as if they scared and affrighted us; but it is not so (said
Luther), for they do but onely shew, That wee can do nothing with our strength and will that is
good before God, and they put the godlie also in minde to praie; when people do so, then they are
Why should wee boast of our Free-will, that it could do or work anie thing in man’s conversion?
If ween wee see it well in those poor people which are corporally possessed of the Divel (how
hee rendeth and teareth and how pitifully hee dealeth with them, how hardly hee is driven out)
what man’s Free-will can do therein. Truly the Holie Ghost alone must bee there to drive him out,
as Christ saith, (when the Pharisees and Scribes blasphemed him after he had driven the divel out
of the poor, blinde, dumb, and deaf possessed man), But if I, through the finger of God, do drive
out Divels, then no doubt the Kingdom of God is com upon you. As is hee should saie, If the
Kingdom of God shall com upon you, then the Divel must first bee first driven, for his kingdom
is opposite to God’s Kingdom, as yee your selvs must confess. Now the Divel will not bee driven
out by Divels, much less by men, or by man’s strength, but onely by God’s Spirit and Power.
Hence followeth (said Luther), that if the Divel bee not driven out through God’s finger, then the
Kingdom of the Divel is still there; and where the Divel’s Kingdom is, there is not God’s
Thus it powerfully concludeth, that so long as the Holie Ghost cometh not into us, so long wee
are not onely unfit to all goodness, but also of necessitie wee are so long in the Kingdom of the
Divel, insomuch that wee can do nothing but what is pleasing unto him, otherwise it were not to
bee called his Kingdom.
As St. Paul saith to Timothie, that the people are taken prisoners in the snares of the Divel
according to his will. How then should hee endure, that those which are his should once dare to
think or to do anie thing which were against his Kingdom, but altogether which were for and
with his Kingdom.
O (said Luther) it is a vehement, a fearful and a great Word, in that Christ yieldeth such a
Kingdom to the Divel, which wihtout God’s Spirit cannot bee shunned, neither can God’s
Kingdom com, except the Divel’s Kingdom bee first driven from us by divine and celestial
power, as witnesseth the lamentable state of the foresaid poor man who corporally was possessed
of the Divel.
I praie (said Luther) tell mee, What could hee have don to bee free’d from the Divel, though all
the people on earth had been present to help him? Truly, nothing at all; hee was forced to do and
to suffer that which the Divel his Lord and master was pleased withall, until our blessed Saviour
Christ came with God’s power.
Now mark, If hee could not bee quit of the Divel corporally from his bodie, how then should hee
bee quit of him spiritually, and from his soul, through his own will, strength, and power? for the
soul was the caus that the bodie was possessed for a punishment, becaus it was possessed of sin.
It is a mater more difficult to bee delivered from sin then from the punishment, the soul also is
alwaies heavier possessed then the bodie, as hereby is proved: The Divel leaveth to the bodie
possessed, its natural strength and work; but the soul by him is bereaved and robbed of
understanding, of sens, true wisdom and reason, and of all her stength, as well wee see on
Secondly, Christ proveth (that the Free-will in the Conversion of mankinde is able to do nothing,
neither anie waie to assist, whereby the Divel may bee driven out) with a stron Argument and
similitude taken our of experience; namely, How a strong man by a stronger is overcom, who
taketh from him his harnish, his houshold-stuff, etc. whereby is also witnessed, That the Divel is
overcom by no humane creature, but onely by God. So that once again, no man can truly boast,
that through his own strength, hee is able (together with the Holie Ghost) to drive away sin or the
Let us diligently mark (said Luther) how Christ pictureth out the Divel; Hee nameth him a strong
Giant that keepeth a Castle; that is, the Divel hath not onely the world in possession as his own
Kingdom, but also hee keepeth and fortifieth it in such sort, that no humane creatures can take it
from him, and hee possesseth it also in such peace and quietness, that hee doth even what hee
will have don.
Now, how much a Castle or Fort is able to set and to defend it self against the Tyrant which is
therein, even so much is Free-will and humane strength able to set and defend it self against the
Divel; that is no waie able at all, but it must bee subject unto him. And even as that Castle or Fort
must bee overcom by a stronger, and must bee won from the Tyrant, even so mankinde must bee
delivered and regained from the Divel through Christ. Wee see plainly hereby, that our doings
and righteousness can help nothing to our deliverance, but that it is onely God’s Grace and
And whereas Christ, by Command from the High-Divine-Majestie, diligently warneth us with
threatnings, that it will alwaies bee afterwards wors then it was before; therefore good heed is to
bee taken, that wee not onely abstain from blaspheming the Gospel of Christ (who doth so great
things for us, and driveth the Divel from us, who are spiritually of him possessed by reason of
our sins, which is far wors and more dangerous then to bee possessed corporally, although the
same, before the world and our carnal eies, seemeth more fearful and horrible) but also earnestly
and with fear to beware lest it cometh to that pass, that afterwards seven wors Divels should com
and possess us, where before there was but one; as it went with the Jews, who were not so
wicked before the Gospel was declared as afterwards they were, and still are; and as wee now are
seven times wors Heathen under the name of Christ, then wee were at anie time before; as St.
Peter saith, The later end is wors with them then the beginning.
For although the Divel like a powerful Tyrant sitteth peaceably in his hous and doth what hee
pleaseth, except God’s Word and Finger through Christ cometh against him (for wee know not
otherwise, but that his Armor and weapons are onely our carnal cogitations, wherewith hee
constraineth the consciences and defendeth himself, as in Popedom wee have found by good
experience) yet when a stronger cometh, the Lord Christ through the Gospel, then his peace hath
an end, so that hee rageth and is mad; then hee riseth and taketh his Armor and weapons, the
powerful, the rich, wise, seeming-holie learned people, all these hee stirreth up against God’s
Word, as wee see in persecuting the teachers of the Gospel. Such raging and persecutions are
apparent signs, that the Divel is so unwillingly driven out, but it helpeth him not, hee must out,
how sorely soever hee fretteth.
That Man’s Will helpeth nothing to his Salvation.
O (said Luther)! how execellent and comfortable a Gospel is that, in which our Saviour Christ
sheweth what a heart hee beareth toward us poor sinners, and how wee are able to do nothing at
all for our selvs to our Salvation.
For like as a sillie sheep cannot take heed to it self that it may not err and go astraie, unless the
Shepherd alwaies guideth and leadethit; yea, and when it hath erred, gon astraie and is lost, it
cannot finde it self to right again, nor com to the Shepherd, but the Shepherd must go after it, and
so long must seek until hee findeth it (without which care, it must alwaies go, err, and bee lost),
and when hee hath found it, then hee must take hold thereof and carrie it, to the end it may not
bee scared from him again, go err, or bee catched by the Wolf.
Even so, neither can wee help of advise our selvs to the attainment of a peaceable Conscience,
and to outrun the Divel, death and hell, unless Christ himself fetcheth and calleth us again
through his Word; and when wee are com unto him, and that wee bee possessed of the Faith, yet
wee of our selvs are not able to keep us therein nor to stand, unless hee alwaies lifteth and
carrieth us by and through the same his Word and strength, seeing that the Divel everie where
without intermission lieth lurking for us, and (as St. Peter saith), like a roaring Lion goeth about
to the end hee may devour us; so that here is nothing of anie value at all to shew that wee should
brag or boast of our Free-will, neither with it to begin, to proceed, to help or assist in the least
kinde; but that Christ our Saviour must onely do it.
Another, of the disabilitie of Free-will.
I would very fain know (said Luther) how that man which knoweth nothing of God, should know
how to govern himself: Hee that is conceived and born in sin, (as wee all are) and by nature is a
childe of wrath, and God’s enemie? How should wee know to finde the right waie and remain
therein, when (as the Prophet Isaiah saith) Wee can do nothing els but go astraie? How is it
possible that wee should defend our selvs against the Divel (who is a Prince of this world, and
wee are his prisoners) when with all our strength wee are not able so much as to hinder a leaf
from doing us hurt, nay, wee cannot prevent a Flie.
How many wee poor miserable wretches presume to boast of comfort, of help and counsel
against God’s Judgement, His Wrath and Everlasting Death, when as wee cannot seek help, nor
comfort, nor know how to advise our selves, no, not in the least of our corporatl necessities as
dailie experience teacheth us, as well in our selvs as in others.
Therefore thou maist boldly conclude, That so little as a natural sheep can help it self in the least
kinde, but must needs exspect and wait for all assistance and help from the shepherd; so little
(yea much less) can a humane creature finde comfort, help and advice by himself in those cases
perteining to salvation, but must exspect and wait for the same onely from God his Shepherd,
who a thousand times is more willing to do everie good thing for his sheep, then anie other good
and honest temporal shepherd is to do for his natural sheep.
Now seeing that humane Nature through Original sin is wholy spoiled, perverted outwardly and
inwardly confounded in bodie and soul, where is then the Free-will and humane strength? where
are then humane Traditions and the Preachers of works, which do teach and saie, Wee must make
use of our own abilities, and by our own works must prepare our selvs to obtein God’s Grace, and
as then (saie they) wee are Children of Salvation? O! fond, foolish, and fals Doctrine, (said
Luther) for wee are altogether untoward and unprepared with our abilities, with our strength and
works, when it cometh to the combate wee cannot stand nor hold out. How can that man bee
reconciled to God, whom hee cannot endure to hear, but flieth from Him to an humane creature;
hee exspecteth more love and favor of one that is a sinner, than hee doth of God. Is not this fine
Free-will, a Reconciliation or an Atonement.
Like as the Children of Israel carried themselves on Mount Sinai, when God gave them the Ten
Commandments; wherewith is plainly shewed, that humane nature and Free-will can do nothing,
nor can subsist before God; for they feared that God suddenly would strike among them, they
held Him meerly for a Divel, and Hang-man, and a Torrmentor, who did nothing but fret and
fume. Alas, (said Luther) hee that hath no more to help himself withall then his Free-will and
Works, let him jog on towards Hell, for therewith hee obteineth nothing; hee must bee furnished
with somthing better and greater then with his holie Life. Therefore I saie, Humane spiritual
strength is not onely spoiled, but also through sin it is altogether destroied both in mankinde and
in Divels, in such sort, that there is nothing els bit a pervers will and understanding, which in
every particular is an enemie to God and against His will, which thinketh and imagineth nothing,
but what is contrarie to and against God.
True it is, and I do yield (said Luther) that man’s natural strength in som measure is yet
unspoiled. But in what measure? Answ. A man (though hee bee altogether drowned in
ungodliness, and is becom the Divels own) hath a Free-will and power in domestick and
temporal government; also to rule a Ship, and to fulfill such and the like affairs which God hath
made subject to man, as is noted, Gen. I such natural strengths and abilities are not taken from
man (although God must bee also present therein with his Almightie power) but are rather
confirmed by God’s Word, as in the foresaid place is mentioned.
But the mischief is (said Luther) that the Sophists will bring these abilities into the spiritual
Kingdom. And it may very well bee, that they have found som such stuff in the good Fathers. For
the Romanists (who understood less then Horses and Mules) brought them into these spiritual
matters, and therewith mingled spiritual and temporal things together.
Therefore it belongeth to us to cleans the Church from such filth as the Sophists have brought
and carried thereinto, and to laie aside such offences, and clear them out of the waie.
Wee can well endure and permit, that such sentences are true and right, so far forth as they bee
understood and signified there, where they ought to bee, and whereto they do pertain; namely, in
and to this temporal and worldlie Kingdom.
But when they will bring them into the spiritual Kingdom, where wee have to deal with God and
in the Conscience behalf, then we flatly saie, No thereto. For in those there is nothing pure and
good in us, but whatsoever wee are and have, the same is altogether drowned in sin. All that is in
our wis evil, and all that is in our understanding the same is nothing but blindness and error.
Of God’s horrible wrath, when Hee leaveth us to our own wills.
How could there bee a greater wrath of God, then when Hee left us to our own cogitations,
mindes and wills, took away His Word, reproved us no more, but should suffer an humane
creature, yea, the Divel himself to bee our Tutor? What in such a case could els proceed thereout,
but heresies and discords in Doctrine? If there bee discords in Doctrine, then follow thereupon
external and civil dissentions and tumults, (as wee read in Josephus what abominable sects and
insurrections arose among the Jews shortly before Christ’s Nativitie): for our free-will directly is
blindness and darkness.
Therefore I (said Luther) utterly do reject all Teachers, that anie waie do speak in the prais of our
Free-will, and therein I hold their Doctrine to bee such as directly striveth and fighteth against
the help and Grace of our blessed sweet Saviour Christ Jesus. For seeing that without Christ
death and sin are our Lords, and that the Divel is our god and prince; so can there bee no
strength, power, nor will, whereby wee might prepare ourselvs to Righteousness and Life, but
must bee blinded and becom the Divel’s captives to do and to think what pleaseth him, and to do
that which is against God and His Commandments: is not this a fine freedom?
Of the Doctrine touching the Free-will towards God.
Loving Friends (said Luther) our Doctrine (that Free-will is dead and nothing at all) is grounded
powerfully in holy Scripture. But I speak of the Free-will towards God, and in causes touching
the Soul. For what should I dispuate about that Free-will which governeth over Hors and Kine,
monie and riches? I know verie well that God hath subjected to man all Cattle, and the Earth; etc.
But that pertain’s not to this. If there were none other sentence but onely that of St. Paul, (They
are taken captive by the Divel at his will) wee had ground and Scripture sufficient. For to bee the
Divel’s captives is no Freedom at all, seeing they are in such captivitie, that they must do even
what hee will, whereout must needs follow, that our Free-will is the Divel’s will. For according to
his will they must live as captives. And this is St. Paul’s clear doctrine in the place before
Christ Himself also concurreth herewith, Luke 11. where Hee saith, When a strong man armed
keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger then hee shall com upon him, and
overcom him, hee taketh from him all his armour wherein hee trusted, and divideth the spoils.
Here Christ Himself witnesseth, that the Divel possesseth those which are his in peace, unless a
stronger then hee overcometh him.
Wee have before our Eies also the deed and work it self, namely, that Jesus Christ the Son of
God, through his own bloud delivered us from the Divel, from death and sin.
If now (said Luther) there were in us a Free-will against or over the Divel, death and sin, then
had it been needless that Christ should have died for us. For, I saie, hee that is able without
Christ to shun or out-run sin, the same may even as well shun and out-run death; for death is the
punishment of sin. But I never yet heard of that humane creature who made such proof of his
Free-will and power over all Creatures, which hee could not have don, if sin (which is death’s
right and power) had not before taken captive and overcom all mankinde.
By this Act and Article of Faith in Christ (said Luther) do wee remain, let the Papists saie what
they will, and let them go on and proceed with their swinish censures as they pleas. No humane
creature shall bring us from this knowledg, that Christ hath delivered us from the Divel, death
and sin. If this bee true, then remaineth none other Free-will. For, if that bee a Freedom, to bee
captive to the Divel, to death, and to sin; then let it bee a freedom to those that make their dreams
and fancies of new Gospels against the true ancient Gospel of Christ