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thee, put thy seal: that is, do thou by thy Holy Spirit light up thine own light in their minds, and turn them to true prayer and calling upon thee; and never suffer thine own doctrine to be extinguished, but let there always be a company left wbich shall call upon thee and glorify thee; and be not moved to wrath by the insult and dishonour put upon thee, because the remaining and greatest part of the human race are partly become Epicureans and partly carried away by idol madness.'
In this prayer of Isaiah you may see an exact picture of our present times. And how often have I stood on the banks of the Danube at Ratisbon, and looked at its deep and impetuous stream, and wept and thought, that, if I could even pour out as many tears as that rapid flood rolled down waters, I could not exhaust the burden of grief that I continually carry about with me, on account of the dispersed and lacerateil condition of the church! And that gigantic ferocity increases every where, and those defenders of foul superstitions paint out their idols with new colours every day; so that their errors are continually confirmed in many. there is still, and ever shall be, some remaining church of God, as guardians and defenders of the writings of the apostles and prophets, holding tirmly their native, simple, and plain meaning, and not dallying with any corruptions.
As, therefore, it is manifest, that in the midst of such a variety of opinions and wills, there shail yet still remain a company belonging to God that shall keep and defend the Gospel, let this be every one's care ;--that he wisely choose the doctrine he holds by; that he seek these teachers, these prophets, and apostles, and read them, hear them, and learn them; and that he strive to be one of that company, for whom Isaiah prayed, when he said, “ Bind up the testimony among my disciples.” Let him consult that company of prophets and know what is their meaning ; let him see what godly commentators have said in their interpretations ; let him compare together those interpretations which differ from each other, and let him choose those which the circumstances them
that no one might be left in doubt concerning the fidelity
trea pur age sur fait
impositions, let us now, since God by his infinite good. more wary and careful: let us collect and gather up ali good writings, and let us shew, for the satisfaction or
It is with this design that I have published many of the Commentaries of MARTIN LUTHER, after they had all been revised and corrected by the author himself. And
selves prove to come the nearest to the fountain head: and this will not be at all difficult to decide, where the judgment is godly, candid, and free from calumny and prejudice. And then, let him add that prayer of the prophet, and beg of God, both for himself and others, that we may be guided by his divine light, and that he would impress his seal upon our minds, that we err Dof from the true sense and meaning. And let the learned also take the especial care upon them of collecting quay and useful writings, that posterity may, have true and godly interpretations and commentaries, and
may also from whence they come and from whom they ra ceive them.
It was thus that the company of the Levites preserved the writings and monuments of Moses, Samuel David, Isaiah, and the others; and in the same manner, the disciples kept and defended the writings of the apostles, and testified from whence they received their doctrines.—But afterwards, when the study of letters was neglected, and the bishops contended and fought for authority and power, new rites and books were introduced and received, without any proper selection and without any testimonies.--Thus, who can now say by whom that diabolical error of praying for the dead was introduced ?
As therefore circumstances of fact prove, that some ages ago the purity of the old and true doctrine was pela luted, because many impostors scattered up and doxo their depraved writings, and as many impure rites also corrupted the ancient purity when buried under those ness has again lighted up the light of the Gospel
, be posterity, from what authors they come, testimonies they receive them.
seed vet, and led
faith over that wber know agair men was shew abo God
of these publications and the authenticity of their contents, let him bear in mind that they have all been edited by me from the press of the college at Wittemberg, up to this year of our Lord 1546. And as I shall hereafter, by God's help, publish more of the monuments he has left behind him, I will do it with that fidelity which I owe as a duty to the public. I will not, however, send forth those editions alone, but I will join to myself, as helpers, those learned and valuable men, Caspar Cruciger and George Rorary, to be as judges and witnesses.
Luther has left us no mean or common deposit and treasure, -namely, the docrine of the church, purged and purified from the pollutions with which it had been for ages detiled and obscured; and this doctrine and treasure God would have us guard and preserve with a good faith. And though many atheists, and many carried away with fanaticisms and superstitions, judge otherwise, and complain that Luther's doctrine sowed the seeds of various discord, and were inextricable labyrinths, yet, all the godly, who know the conflicts of repentance, and what it is truly to call upon God, know and acknowledge, that, by the voice of Luther commissioned from above, many gross errors were amended which had hitherto stuck to the church, and that the true and saving doctrine was brought to light.
But what calling upon God can there be in a mind that flees from God? What consolation under real terrors can there be to a mind that feels nothing but the wrath of God? If men know nothing of the doctrine of faith, which alone struggles against these doubts and overcomes these fears and horrors, and if they hold fast that opinion that is of the law, 'God will receive thee when thou art become worthy,'—if the mind, I say, knows nothing more than this, it must horribly roar against God: and, for many ages, the monks taught that men must remain in this state of fear and doubt.-It was at this error that Luther especially struck, and shewed, that it was the command of God, that those who were territied with the feeling sense of the wrath of God against sin, should assure themselves that they
th in th th de
driven back on account of our sense of unworthiness, but that we might know, that we shall be received God for a Mediator's sake, and that it is the especial command of God that we believe this, and that we assure ourselves that such is the will of God towards as
when, I say, we hear the Psalm expounded thus, then
would certainly be received into grace freely for the sake
All the godly know that this is the doctrine that is
, and the whole doctrine of repentance. And then, in the explication of each particular, it is necessary to illustrate and set forda all the matter connected with it. And hence, Luther has shewn how the works commanded in the law of God are to be distinguished from all those rites and ceremonies which have been most audaciously invented and introduced by human wisdom. And since it is well known to us, that these and many other points of doctrine have been rightly and truly set forth by Luther, it is the duty of the godly not to cast away sach gifts of God, but to guard and preserve carefully all his labours, and hand them down, and commend them to posterity.
In this second Psalm we have a sermon concerning faith, “ Blessed are all they that trust in him!” Here
, i you follow the expositions of the monks, they will see * If, or when, you are worthy, trust in him. But this interpretation frightens back a fearful and "trembling mind, that feels its own unworthiness, and prevents i from fleeing to the Son of God. But when such a trembling one knows, that is given for a consolation, and unio this very end, that we might not flee from God
, nor it is intelligible, clear, and sweet!
yet, not ! of G
: these matters before the people, deliver such false and
inexplicable stuff, that neither the people that heard them nor they themselves knew what it meant: so that their preaching seemed exactly to answer that which is described in that notable Greek line :
Tοία γε τοι τυφλός παρά κωφών έoικε λαλήσαι. .
'Tis like as if a blind man would explain,
These expositions and explanations, therefore, which have been opened up to us by God himself, through the voice of Luther, let us love and embrace.
And I have dedicated this labour of Luther to you, my friend George, because I know that you favour all godly labours, and have a great desire that all the monuments which Luther has left us should be handed safely down to posterity. I hope, therefore, that our endeavours and offering will be acceptable to you. In return for which, what I beg you to do for the church, is, that you would join your prayers with mine, and with those of other godly persons, and would with us pray unto God, that he would continue to gather to himself a church in these parts of the world, and that he would rule and govern it himself as he collects it, help it in the holding of the true doctrine, keep and guard our political governments, (which are, as it were, the earthly dwelling-places of the church of God,) and protect its discipline : for we know, that all these highest of blessings must be sought and expected from God only; and yet, we know also, that our prayers and desires shall not be in vain. And although many, who know nothing of God and of the government of his church, think the same as he did, who says in Plato's work, túrau navrõia. πίπτουσαι παντοιως νομοθετoυσι, “The various laws in states arise from various fortunes and accidents :' yet, we know, that God himself is the guardian and keeper of his church, and that he will defend all political governments for his church's sake,