LUTHER'S TABLE TALKS:
Written by: Luther, Martin Posted on: 04/10/2003
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, & 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, &c.
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, &c. 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, &c.
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 & 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, & 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, &c.
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, &c. 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, &c. 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, &c. 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, &c. 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 an
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