Originally published at: https://concordia.confident.faith/apology-of-the-augsburg-confession/article-xiib/
Good men can easily judge that it is of the greatest importance that the true doctrine concerning the above-mentioned parts, namely contrition and faith, be preserved. [For the great fraud of indulgences, etc., and the preposterous doctrines of the sophists have sufficiently taught us what great vexation and danger arise therefrom if a foul stroke is here made. How many a godly conscience under the Papacy sought with great labor the true way, and in the midst, of such darkness did not find it!] Therefore, we have always been occupied more with the elucidation of these topics, and have disputed nothing as yet concerning confession and satisfaction.
For we also retain confession, especially on account of the absolution, as being the word of God which, by divine authority, the power of the keys pronounces upon individuals.
Therefore it would be wicked to remove private absolution from the Church.
Neither do they understand what the remission of sins or the power of the keys is, if there are any who despise private absolution.
But in reference to the enumeration of offenses in confession, we have said above that we hold that it is not
necessary by divine right. For the objection, made by some, that a judge ought to investigate a case before he pronounces upon it, pertains in no way to this subject; because the ministry of absolution is favor or grace, it is not a legal process, or law. [For God is the Judge, who has committed to the apostles, not the office of judges, but the administration of grace, namely, to acquit those who desire, etc.] Therefore ministers in the Church have the command to remit sin; they have not the command to investigate secret
sins. And indeed, they absolve from those that we do not remember; for which reason absolution, which is the voice of the Gospel remitting sins and consoling consciences, does not require judicial examination.
And it is ridiculous to transfer hither the saying of Solomon, Prov. 27:23: Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks. For Solomon says nothing of confession, but gives to the father of a family a domestic precept, that he should use what is his own, and abstain from what is another’s; and he commands him to take care of his own property diligently, yet in such a way that, with his mind occupied with the increase of his resources, he should not cast away the fear of God, or faith or care in God’s Word. But our adversaries, by a wonderful metamorphosis, transform passages of Scripture to whatever meaning they please. [They produce from the Scriptures black and white, as they please, contrary to the natural meaning of the clear words.] Here to know signifies with them to hear confessions, the state, not the outward life, but the secrets of conscience; and the flocks signify men. [Stable, we think, means a school within which there are such doctors and orators. But it has happened aright to those who thus despise the Holy Scriptures and all fine arts that they make gross mistakes in grammar.] The interpretation is assuredly neat, and is worthy of these despisers of the pursuits of eloquence. But if any one desires by a similitude to transfer a precept from a father of a family to a pastor of a Church, he ought certainly to interpret “state” [V. vultus, countenance] as applying to the outward life. This similitude will be more consistent.
But let us omit such matters as these. At different times in the Psalms mention is made of confession, as, Ps. 32:5: I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Such confession of sin which is made to God is contrition itself. For when confession is made to God, it must be made with the heart, not alone with the voice, as is made on the stage by actors. Therefore, such confession is contrition, in which, feeling God’s wrath, we confess that God is justly angry, and that He cannot be appeased by our works, and, nevertheless, we seek for mercy because of God’s promise.
Such is the following confession, Ps. 51:4: Against Thee only have I sinned, that Thou mightest be justified, and be clear when Thou judgest, i.e., “I confess that I am a sinner, and have merited eternal wrath, nor can I set my righteousnesses, my merits, against Thy wrath; accordingly, I declare that Thou art just when Thou condemnest and punishest us; I declare that Thou art clear when hypocrites judge Thee to be unjust in punishing them or in condemning the well-deserving. Yea, our merits cannot be opposed to Thy judgment; but we shall thus be justified, namely, if Thou justifiest us, if through Thy mercy Thou accountest us righteous.”
Perhaps some one may also cite Jas. 5:16: Confess your faults one to another. But here the reference is not to confession that is to be made to the priests, but, in general, concerning the reconciliation of brethren to each other. For it commands that the confession be mutual.
Again, our adversaries will condemn many most generally received teachers if they will contend that in confession an enumeration of offenses is necessary according to divine Law. For although we approve of confession, and judge that some examination is of advantage, in order that men may be the better instructed [young and inexperienced persons be questioned], yet the matter must be so controlled that snares are not cast upon consciences, which never will be tranquil if they think that they cannot obtain the remission of sins, unless this precise enumeration be made.
That which the adversaries have expressed in the Confutation is certainly most false, namely, that a full confession is necessary for salvation. For this is impossible. And what snares they here cast upon the conscience when they require a full confession! For when will conscience be sure that the confession is complete?
In the Church-writers mention is made of confession, but they do not speak of this enumeration of secret offenses, but of the rite of public repentance. For as the fallen or notorious [those guilty of public crimes] were not received without fixed satisfactions [without a public ceremony or reproof], they made confession on this account to the presbyters, in order that satisfactions might be prescribed to them according to the measure of their offenses. This entire matter contained nothing similar to the enumeration concerning which we are disputing. This confession was made, not because the remission of sins before God could not occur without it, but because satisfactions could not be prescribed unless the kind of offense were first known. For different offenses had different canons.
And from this rite of public repentance there has been left the word “satisfaction.” For the holy Fathers were unwilling to receive the fallen or the notorious, unless, as far as it was possible, their repentance had been first examined into and exhibited publicly. And there seem to have been many causes for this. For to chastise those who had fallen served as an example, just as also the gloss upon the decrees admonishes, and it was improper immediately to admit notorious men to the communion [without their being tested]. These customs have long since grown obsolete. Neither is it necessary to restore them, because they are not necessary for the remission of sins before God.
Neither did the Fathers hold this, namely, that men merit the remission of sins through such customs or such works, although these spectacles (such outward ceremonies] usually lead astray the ignorant to think that by these works they merit the remission of sins before God. But if any one thus holds, he holds to the faith of a Jew and heathen. For also the heathen had certain expiations for offenses through which they imagined
to be reconciled to God. Now, however, although the custom has become obsolete, the name satisfaction still remains, and a trace of the custom also remains of prescribing in confession certain satisfactions, which they define as works that are not due. We call them canonical satisfactions.
Of these we hold, just as of the enumeration, that canonical satisfactions [these public ceremonies] are not necessary by divine Law for the remission of sins; just as those ancient exhibitions of satisfactions in public repentance were not necessary by divine Law for the remission of sins. For the belief concerning faith must be retained, that by faith we obtain remission of sins for Christ’s sake, and not for the sake of our works that precede or follow [when we are converted or born anew in Christ]. And for this reason we have discussed especially the question of satisfactions, that by submitting to them the righteousness of faith be not obscured, or men think that for the sake of these works they obtain remission of sins.
And many sayings that are current in the schools aid the error, such as that which they give in the definition of satisfaction, namely, that it is wrought for the purpose of appeasing the divine displeasure.
But, nevertheless, the adversaries acknowledge that satisfactions are of no profit for the remission of guilt. Yet they imagine that satisfactions are of profit in redeeming from the punishments, whether of purgatory or other punishments. For thus they teach that in the remission of sins, God [without means, alone] remits the guilt, and yet, because it belongs to divine justice to punish sin, that He commutes eternal into temporal punishment. They add further that a part of this temporal punishment is remitted by the power of the keys, but that the rest is redeemed by means of satisfactions. Neither can it be understood of what punishments a part is remitted by the power of the keys, unless they say that a part of the punishments of purgatory is remitted, from which it would follow that satisfactions are only punishments redeeming from purgatory. And these satisfactions, they say, avail even though they are rendered by those who have relapsed into mortal sin, as though indeed the divine displeasure could be appeased by those who are in mortal sin.
This entire matter is fictitious, and recently fabricated without the authority of Scripture and the old writers of the Church. And not even Longobardus speaks in this way of satisfactions.
The scholastics saw that there were satisfactions in the Church; and they did not notice that these exhibitions had been instituted both for the purpose of example, and for testing those who desired to be received by the Church. In a word, they did not see that it was a discipline, and entirely a secular matter. Accordingly, they superstitiously imagined that these avail not for discipline before the Church, but for appeasing God. And just as in other places they frequently, with great inaptness, have confounded spiritual and civil matters [the kingdom of Christ, which is spiritual, and the kingdom of the world, and external discipline], the same happens also with regard to satisfactions.
But the gloss on the canons at various places testifies that these observances were instituted for the sake of church discipline [should serve alone for an example before the Church].
Let us see, moreover, how in the Confutation which they had the presumption to obtrude upon His Imperial Majesty, they prove these figments of theirs. They cite many passages from the Scriptures, in order to impose upon the inexperienced, as though this subject which was unknown even in the time of Longobard, had authority from the Scriptures. They bring forward such passages as these: Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance, Matt. 3:8; Mark 1:15. Again: Yield your members servants to righteousness, Rom. 6:19. Again, Christ preaches repentance, Matt. 4:17: Repent. Again, Christ Luke 24:47, commands the apostles to preach repentance, and Peter preaches repentance, Acts 2:38. Afterward they cite certain passages of the Fathers and the canons, and conclude that satisfactions in the Church are not to be abolished contrary to the plain Gospel and the decrees of the Councils and Fathers [against the decision of the Holy Church]; nay, even that those who have been absolved by the priest ought to bring to perfection the repentance that has been enjoined, following the declaration of Paul, Titus 2:14: Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
May God put to confusion these godless sophists who so wickedly distort God’s Word to their own most vain dreams! What good man is there who is not moved by such indignity? “Christ says, Repent, the apostles preach repentance; therefore eternal punishments are compensated by the punishments of purgatory; therefore the keys have the power to remit part of the punishments of purgatory; therefore satisfactions redeem the punishments of purgatory”! Who has taught these asses such logic? Yet this is neither logic nor sophistry, but cunning trickery. Accordingly, they appeal to the expression repent in such a way that, when the inexperienced hear such a passage cited against us, they may derive the opinion that we deny the entire repentance. By these arts they endeavor to alienate minds and to enkindle hatred, so that the inexperienced may cry out against us [Crucify! crucify!], that such pestilent heretics as disapprove of repentance should be removed from their midst. [Thus they are publicly convicted of being liars in this matter.]
But we hope that among good men these calumnies [and misrepresentations of Holy Scripture] may make little headway. And God will not long endure such impudence and wickedness. [They will certainly be consumed by the First and Second Commandments.] Neither has the Pope of Rome consulted well for his own dignity in employing such patrons, because he has entrusted a matter of the greatest importance to the judgment of these sophists. For since we include in the Confession almost the sum of the entire Christian doctrine, judges should have been appointed to make a declaration concerning matters so important and so many and various, whose learning and faith would have been more approved than that of these sophists who have written this Confutation.
It was particularly becoming for you, O Campegius, in accordance with your wisdom, to have taken care that in regard to matters of such importance they should write nothing which either at this time or with posterity might seem to be able to diminish regard for the Roman See. If the Roman See judges it right that all nations should acknowledge her as mistress of the faith, she ought to take pains that learned and uncorrupt men make investigation concerning matters of religion. For what will the world judge if at any time the writing of the adversaries be brought to light? What will posterity judge concerning these reproachful judicial investigations?
You see, O Campegius, that these are the last times, in which Christ predicted that there would be the greatest danger to religion. You, therefore, who ought, as it were, to sit on the watch-tower and control religious matters, should in these times employ unusual wisdom and diligence. There are many signs which, unless you heed them, threaten a change to the Roman state.
And you make a mistake if you think that Churches should be retained only by force and arms. Men ask to be taught concerning religion. How many do you suppose there are, not only in Germany, but also in England, in Spain, in France, in Italy, and finally even in the city of Rome, who, since they see that controversies have arisen concerning subjects of the greatest importance, are beginning here and there to doubt, and to be silently indignant that you refuse to investigate and judge aright subjects of such weight as these; that you do not deliver wavering consciences; that you only bid us be overthrown and annihilated by arms?
There are many good men to whom this doubt is more bitter than death. You do not consider sufficiently how great a subject religion is, if you think that good men are in anguish for a slight cause whenever they begin to doubt concerning any dogma. And this doubt can have no other effect than to produce the greatest bitterness of hatred against those who, when they ought to heal consciences, plant themselves in the way of the explanation of the subject.
We do not here say that you ought to fear God’s judgment. For the hierarchs think that they can easily provide against this, for since they hold the keys, of course they can open heaven for themselves whenever they wish. We are speaking of the judgments of men and the silent desires of all nations, which, indeed, at this time require that these matters be investigated and decided in such a manner that good minds may be healed and freed from doubt. For, in accordance with your wisdom, you can easily decide what will take place if at any time this hatred against you should break forth. But by this favor you will be able to bind to yourself all nations, as all sane men regard it as the highest and most important matter, if you heal doubting
consciences. We have said these things not because we doubt concerning our Confession. For we know that it is true, godly, and useful to godly consciences. But it is likely that there are many in many places who waver concerning matters of no light importance, and yet do not hear such teachers as are able to heal their consciences.
But let us return to the main point. The Scriptures cited by the adversaries speak in no way of canonical satisfactions, and of the opinions of the scholastics, since it is evident that the latter were only recently born. Therefore it is pure slander when they distort Scripture to their own opinions. We say that good fruits, good works in every kind of life, ought to follow repentance, i.e., conversion or regeneration [the renewal of the Holy Ghost in the heart]. Neither can there be true conversion or true contrition where mortifications of the flesh and good fruits do not follow [if we do not externally render good works and Christian patience]. True terrors, true griefs of mind, do not allow the body to indulge in sensual pleasures, and true faith is not ungrateful to God, neither does it despise God’s commandments.
In a word, there is no inner repentance unless it also produces outwardly mortifications of the flesh. We say also that this is the meaning of John when he says, Matt. 3:8: Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance. Likewise of Paul when he says, Rom. 6:19: Yield your members servants to righteousness; just as he likewise says elsewhere, Rom. 12:1: Present your bodies a living sacrifice, etc. And when Christ says, Matt. 4:17: Repent, He certainly speaks of the entire repentance, of the entire newness of life and its fruits; He does not speak of those hypocritical satisfactions which, the scholastics imagine, avail for compensating the punishment of purgatory or other punishments when they are made by those who are in mortal sin.
Many arguments, likewise, can be collected to show that these passages of Scripture pertain in no way to scholastic satisfactions. These men imagine that satisfactions are works that are not due [which we are not obliged to do]; but Scripture, in these passages, requires works that are due [which we are obliged to do]. For this word of Christ,
Repent, is the word of a commandment. Likewise the adversaries write that if any one who goes to confession should refuse to undertake satisfactions, he does not sin, but will pay these penalties in purgatory. Now the following passages are, without controversy, precepts pertaining to this life: Repent; Bring forth fruits meet for repentance; Yield your members servants to righteousness. Therefore they cannot be distorted to the satisfactions which it is permitted to refuse. For to refuse God’s commandments is not permitted. [For God’s commands are not thus left to our discretion.]
Thirdly, indulgences remit these satisfactions, as is taught by the Chapter, De Poenitentiis et Remissione, beginning Quum ex eo, etc. But indulgences do not free us from the commandments: Repent; Bring forth fruits meet for repentance. Therefore it is manifest that these passages of Scripture have been wickedly distorted to apply to canonical satisfactions.
See further what follows. If the punishments of purgatory are satisfactions, or satispassions [sufferings sufficient], or if satisfactions are a redemption of the punishments of purgatory, do the passages also give commandment that souls be punished in purgatory? [The above-cited passages of Christ and Paul must also show and prove that souls enter purgatory and there suffer pain.] Since this must follow from the opinions of the adversaries, these passages should be interpreted in a new way [these passages should put on new coats]: Bring forth fruits meet for repentance; Repent, i.e., suffer the punishments of purgatory after this life.
But we do not care about refuting in more words these absurdities of the adversaries. For it is evident that Scripture speaks of works that are due, of the entire newness, of life, and not of these observances of works that are not due, of which the adversaries speak. And yet, by these figments they defend orders [of monks], the sale of Masses and infinite observances, namely, as works which, if they do not make satisfaction for guilt, yet make satisfaction for punishment.
Since, therefore, the passages of Scripture cited do not say that eternal punishments are to be compensated by works that are not due, the adversaries are rash in affirming that these satisfactions are compensated by canonical satisfactions. Nor do the keys have the command to commute some punishments, and likewise to remit a part of the punishments. For where are such things [dreams and lies] read in the Scriptures? Christ speaks of the remission of sins when He says, Matt. 18:18: Whatsoever ye shall loose, etc. [i.e.], sin being forgiven, death eternal is taken away, and life eternal bestowed. Nor does Whatsoever ye shall bind speak of the imposing of punishments, but of retaining the sins of those who are not converted.
Moreover, the declaration of Longobard concerning remitting a part of the punishments has been taken from the canonical punishments; a part of these the pastors remitted. Although, therefore, we hold that repentance ought to bring forth good fruits for the sake of God’s glory and command, and good fruits, true fastings, true prayers, true alms, etc., have the commands of God, yet in the Holy Scriptures we nowhere find this, namely, that eternal punishments are not remitted except on account of the punishment of purgatory or canonical satisfactions, i.e., on account of certain works not due, or that the power of the keys has the command to commute their punishments or to remit a portion. These things the adversaries were to prove. [This they will not attempt.]
Besides, the death of Christ is a satisfaction not only for guilt, but also for eternal death, according to Hos. 13:14: O death, I will be thy death. How monstrous, therefore, it is to say that the satisfaction of Christ redeemed from the guilt, and our punishments redeem from eternal death; as the expression, I will be thy death, ought then to be understood, not concerning Christ, but concerning our works, and, indeed, not concerning the works commanded by God, but concerning some frigid observances devised by men! And these are said to abolish death,
even when they are wrought in mortal sin. It is incredible with what grief we recite these absurdities of the adversaries, which cannot but cause one who considers them to be enraged against such doctrines of demons, which the devil has spread in the Church in order to suppress the knowledge of the Law and Gospel, of repentance and quickening, and the benefits
of Christ. For of the Law they speak thus: “God, condescending to our weakness, has given to man a measure of those things to which of necessity he is bound; and this is the observance of precepts, so that from what is left, i.e., from works of supererogation, he can render satisfaction with reference to offenses that have been committed.” Here men imagine that they can observe the Law of God in such a manner as to be able to do even more than the Law exacts. But Scripture everywhere exclaims that we are far distant from the perfection which the Law requires. Yet these men imagine that the Law of God has been comprised in outward and civil righteousness; they do not see that it requires true love to God “with the whole heart,” etc., and condemns the entire concupiscence in the nature. Therefore no one does as much as the Law requires. Hence their imagination that we can do more is ridiculous. For although we can perform outward works not commanded by God’s Law [which Paul calls beggarly ordinances], yet the confidence that satisfaction is rendered God’s Law [yea, that more is done than God demands] is vain and wicked.
And true prayers, true alms, true fastings, have God’s command; and where they have God’s command, they cannot without sin be omitted. But these works, in so far as they have not been commanded by God’s Law, but have a fixed form derived from human rule, are works of human traditions of which Christ says, Matt. 15:9: In vain they do worship Me with the commandments of men, such as certain fasts appointed not for restraining the flesh, but that, by this work, honor may be given to God, as Scotus says, and eternal death be made up for; likewise, a fixed number of prayers, a fixed measure of alms when they are rendered in such a way that this measure is a worship ex opere operato, giving honor to God, and making up for eternal death. For they ascribe satisfaction to these ex opere operato, because they teach that they avail even in those who are
in mortal sin. There are works which depart still farther from God’s commands, as [rosaries and] pilgrimages; and of these there is a great variety: one makes a journey [to St. Jacob] clad in mail, and another with bare feet. Christ calls these “vain acts of worship,” and hence they do not serve to appease God’s displeasure, as the adversaries say. And yet they adorn these works with magnificent titles; they call them works of supererogation; to them the honor is ascribed of being a price paid instead of eternal death.
Thus they are preferred to the works of God’s commandments [the true works expressly mentioned in the Ten Commandments]. In this way the Law of God is obscured in two ways, one, because satisfaction is thought to be rendered God’s Law by means of outward and civil works, the other, because human traditions are added, whose works are preferred to the works of the divine Law.
In the second place, repentance and grace are obscured. For eternal death is not atoned for by this compensation of works, because it is idle, and does not in the present life taste of death. Something else must be opposed to death when it tries us. For just as the wrath of God is overcome by faith in Christ, so death is overcome by faith in, Christ. Just as Paul says, 1 Cor. 15:57: But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. He does not say: “Who giveth us the victory if we oppose our satisfactions against death.”
The adversaries treat of idle speculations concerning the remission of guilt, and do not see how, in the remission of guilt, the heart is freed by faith in Christ from God’s anger and eternal death. Since, therefore, the death of Christ is a satisfaction for eternal death, and since the adversaries themselves confess that these works of satisfactions are works that are not due, but are works of human traditions, of which Christ says, Matt. 15:9, that they are vain acts of worship, we can safely affirm that canonical satisfactions are not necessary by divine Law for the remission of guilt, or eternal punishment, or the punishment of purgatory.
But the adversaries object that vengeance or punishment is necessary for repentance, because Augustine says that repentance is vengeance punishing, etc. We grant that vengeance or punishment is necessary in repentance, yet not as merit or price, as the adversaries imagine that satisfactions are. But vengeance is in repentance formally, i.e., because regeneration itself occurs by a perpetual mortification of the oldness of life. The saying of Scotus may indeed be very beautiful, that poenitentia is so called because it is, as it were, poenae tenentia, holding to punishment. But of what punishment, of what vengeance, does Augustine speak? Certainly of true punishment, of true vengeance, namely, of contrition, of true terrors. Nor do we here exclude the outward mortifications of the body, which
follow true grief of mind. The adversaries make a great mistake if they imagine that canonical satisfactions [their juggler’s tricks, rosaries, pilgrimages, and such like] are more truly punishments than are true terrors in the heart. It is most foolish to distort the name of punishment to these frigid satisfactions, and not to refer them to those horrible terrors of conscience of which David says, Ps. 18:4; 2 Sam. 22:5: The sorrows of death compassed me. Who would not rather, clad in mail and equipped, seek the church of James, the basilica of Peter, etc., than bear that ineffable violence of grief which exists even in persons of ordinary lives, if there be true repentance?
But they say that it belongs to God’s justice to punish sin. He certainly punishes it in contrition, when in these terrors He shows His wrath. Just as David indicates when he prays, Ps. 6:1: O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine anger. And Jeremiah 10:24: O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing. Here indeed the most bitter punishments are spoken of. And the adversaries acknowledge that contrition can be so great that satisfaction is not required.
Contrition is therefore more truly a punishment than is satisfaction. Besides, saints are subject to death, and all general afflictions, as 1 Peter 4:17 says: For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God? And although these afflictions are for the most part the punishments of sin, yet in the godly they have a better end, namely, to exercise them, that they may learn amidst trials to seek God’s aid, to acknowledge the distrust of their own hearts, etc., as Paul says of himself, 2 Cor. 1:9: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead. And Isaiah says, 26:16: They poured out prayer when Thy chastening was upon them, i.e., afflictions are a discipline
by which God exercises the saints. Likewise afflictions are inflicted because of present sin, since in the saints they mortify and extinguish concupiscence, so that they may be renewed by the Spirit, as Paul says, Rom. 8:10: The body is dead because of sin, i.e., it is mortified [more and more every day] because of present sin which is still left in the flesh.
And death itself serves this purpose, namely, to abolish this flesh of sin, that we may rise absolutely new. Neither is there now in the death of the believer, since by faith he has overcome the terrors of death, that sting and sense of wrath of which Paul speaks 1 Cor. 15:56: The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the Law. This strength of sin, this sense of wrath, is truly a punishment as long as it is present; without this sense of wrath,
death is not properly a punishment. Moreover, canonical satisfactions do not belong to these punishments; as the adversaries say that by the power of the keys a part of the punishments is remitted. Likewise, according to these very men, the keys remit the satisfactions, and the punishments on account of which the satisfactions are made. But it is evident that the common afflictions are not removed by the power of the keys. And if they wish to be understood concerning these punishments, why do they add that satisfaction is to be rendered in purgatory?
They oppose the example of Adam, and also of David, who was punished for his adultery. From these examples they derive the universal rule that peculiar temporal punishments in the remission of sins correspond to individual sins.
It has been said before that saints suffer punishments, which are works of God; they suffer contrition or terrors, they also suffer other common afflictions. Thus, for example, some suffer punishments of their own that have been imposed by God. And these punishments pertain in no way to the keys, because the keys neither can impose nor remit them, but God, without the ministry of the keys, imposes and remits them [as He will].
Neither does the universal rule follow: Upon David a peculiar punishment was imposed, therefore, in addition to common afflictions, there is another punishment of purgatory, in which each degree corresponds to each sin.
Where does Scripture teach that we cannot be freed from eternal death except by the compensation of certain punishments in addition to common afflictions? But, on the other hand, it most frequently teaches that the remission of sins occurs freely for Christ’s sake, that Christ is the Victor of sin and death. Therefore the merit of satisfaction is not to be patched upon this. And although afflictions still remain, yet Scripture interprets these as the mortifications of present sin [to kill and humble the old Adam], and not as the compensations of eternal death or as prices for eternal death.
Job is excused that he was not afflicted on account of past evil deeds; therefore afflictions are not always punishments or signs of wrath. Yea, terrified consciences are to be taught that other ends of afflictions are more important [that they should learn to regard troubles far differently, namely, as signs of grace], lest they think that they are rejected by God when in afflictions they see nothing but God’s punishment and anger. The other more important ends are to be considered, namely, that God is doing His strange work so that He may be able to do His own work, etc., as Isaiah 28:1ff teaches in a long discourse.
And when the disciples asked concerning the blind man who sinned, John 9:2-3, Christ replies that the cause of his blindness is not sin, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. And in Jeremiah 49:12, it is said: They whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken. Thus the prophets and John the Baptist and other saints were killed.
Therefore afflictions are not always punishments for certain past deeds, but they are the works of God, intended for our profit, and that the power of God might be made more manifest in our weakness [how He can help in the midst of death].
Thus Paul says, 2 Cor. 12:5,9: The strength of God is made perfect in my weakness. Therefore, because of God’s will, our bodies ought to be sacrifices, to declare our obedience [and patience], and not to compensate for eternal death. for which God has another price, namely,
the death of His own Son. And in this sense Gregory interprets even the punishment of David when he says: If God on account of that sin had threatened that he, would thus be humbled by his son, why, when the sin was forgiven, did He fulfil that which He had threatened against him? The reply is that this remission was made that man might not be hindered from receiving eternal life, but that the example of the threatening followed, in order that the piety of the man might be exercised and tested even in this humility. Thus also God inflicted upon man death of body on account of sin, and after the remission of sins He did not remove it, for the sake of exercising justice, namely, in order that the righteousness of those who are sanctified might be exercised and tested.
Nor, indeed, are common calamities [as war, famine, and similar calamities], properly speaking, removed by these works of canonical satisfactions, i.e., by these works of human traditions, which, they say, avail ex opere operato, in such a way that, even though they are wrought in mortal sin,
yet they redeem from the punishments. [And the adversaries themselves confess that they impose satisfactions, not on account of such common calamities, but on account of purgatory; hence, their satisfactions are pure imaginations and dreams.] And when the passage of Paul, 1 Cor. 11:31, is cited against us: If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged by the Lord [they conclude therefrom that, if we impose punishment upon ourselves, God will judge us the more graciously], the word to judge ought to be understood of the entire repentance and due fruits, not of works which are not due. Our adversaries pay the penalty for despising grammar when they understand to judge to be the same as to make a pilgrimage clad in mail to the church of St. James, or similar works. To judge signifies the entire repentance; it signifies to condemn sins.
This condemnation truly occurs in contrition and the change of life. The entire repentance, contrition, faith, the good fruits, obtain the mitigation of public and private punishments and calamities, as Isaiah 1:17-019 teaches: Cease to do evil; learn to do well, etc. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. If ye be willing and obedient,
ye shall eat the good of the land. Neither should a most important and salutary meaning be transferred from the entire repentance, and from works due or commanded by God, to the satisfactions and works of human traditions. And this it is profitable to teach, that common evils are mitigated by our repentance and by the true fruits of repentance, by good works wrought from faith, not, as these men imagine, wrought in mortal sin.
And here belongs the example of the Ninevites, Jonah 3:10, who by their repentance (we speak of the entire repentance) were reconciled to God, and obtained the favor that their city was not destroyed.
Moreover, the making mention, by the Fathers, of satisfaction, and the framing of canons by the councils, we have said above, was a matter of church-discipline instituted on account of the example. Nor did they hold that this discipline is necessary for the remission either of the guilt or of the punishment. For if some of them made mention of purgatory, they interpret it not as compensation for eternal punishment [which only Christ makes], not as satisfaction, but as purification of imperfect souls. Just as Augustine says that venial [daily] offenses are consumed, i.e., distrust towards God and other
similar dispositions are mortified. Now and then the writers transfer the term satisfaction from the rite itself or spectacle, to signify true mortification. Thus Augustine says: True satisfaction is to cut off the causes of sin, i.e., to mortify the flesh, likewise to restrain the flesh, not in order that eternal punishments may be compensated for, but so that the flesh may not allure to sin.
Thus concerning restitution, Gregory says that repentance is false if it does not satisfy those whose property we have taken. For he who still steals does not truly grieve that he has stolen or robbed. For he is a thief or robber, so long as he is the unjust possessor of the property of another. This civil satisfaction is necessary, because it is written Eph. 4:28: Let him that stole,
steal no more. Likewise Chrysostom says: In the heart, contrition; in the mouth, confession; in the work, entire humility. This amounts to nothing against us. Good works ought to follow repentance; it ought to be repentance, not simulation, but a change of the entire life for the better.
Likewise, the Fathers wrote that it is sufficient if once in life this public or ceremonial penitence occur, about which the canons concerning satisfactions have been made. Therefore it can be understood that they held that these canons are not necessary for the remission of sins. For in addition to this ceremonial penitence, they frequently wish that penitence be rendered otherwise, where canons of satisfactions were not required.
The composers of the Confutation write that the abolition of satisfactions contrary to the plain Gospel is not to be endured. We, therefore, have thus far shown that these canonical satisfactions, i.e., works not due, and that are to be performed in order to compensate for punishment, have not
the command of the Gospel. The subject itself shows this. If works of satisfaction are works which are not due, why do they cite the plain Gospel? For if the Gospel would command that punishments be compensated for by such works, the works would already be due. But thus they speak in order to impose upon the inexperienced, and they cite testimonies which speak of works that are due, although they themselves in their own satisfactions prescribe works that are not due. Yea, in their schools they themselves concede that satisfactions can be refused without [mortal] sin. Therefore they here write falsely that we are compelled by the plain Gospel to undertake these canonical satisfactions.
But we have already frequently testified that repentance ought to produce good fruits; and what the good fruits are the [Ten] Commandments teach, namely, [truly and from the heart most highly to esteem, fear, and love God, joyfully to call upon Him in need], prayer, thanksgiving, the confession of the Gospel [hearing this Word], to teach the Gospel, to obey parents and magistrates, to be faithful to one’s calling, not to kill, not to retain hatred, but to be forgiving [to be agreeable and kind to one’s neighbor], to give to the needy, so far as we can according to our means, not to commit fornication or adultery, but to restrain and bridle and chastise the flesh, not for a compensation of eternal punishment, but so as not to obey the devil, or offend the Holy Ghost; likewise, to speak the truth. These fruits have God’s injunction, and ought to be brought forth for the sake of God’s glory and command; and they have their rewards also. But that eternal punishments are not remitted except on account of the compensation rendered by certain traditions or by purgatory, Scripture does not teach.
Indulgences were formerly remission of these public observances, so that men should not be excessively burdened. But if, by human authority, satisfactions and punishments can be remitted, this compensation, therefore, is not necessary by divine Law; for a divine Law is not annulled by human authority. Furthermore, since the custom has now of itself become obsolete and the bishops have passed it by in silence, there is no necessity for these remissions. And yet the name indulgences remained. And just as satisfactions were understood not with reference to external discipline, but with reference to the compensation of punishment, so indulgences were incorrectly understood to free souls from purgatory.
But the keys have not the power of binding and loosing except upon earth, according to Matt. 16:19: Whatsoever, thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Although, as we have said above, the keys have not the power to impose penalties, or to institute rites of worship, but only the command to remit sins to those who are converted, and to convict and excommunicate those who are unwilling to be converted. For just as to loose signifies to remit sins, so to bind signifies not to remit sins. For Christ speaks of a spiritual kingdom. And the command of God is that the ministers of the Gospel should absolve those who are converted, according to 2 Cor. 10:8: The authority which the Lord hath given us for edification. Therefore
the reservation of cases is a secular affair. For it is a reservation of canonical punishment; it is not a reservation of guilt before God in those who are truly converted. Therefore the adversaries judge aright when they confess that in the article of death the reservation of cases ought not to hinder absolution.
81 We have set forth the sum of our doctrine concerning repentance, which we certainly know is godly and salutary to good minds [and highly necessary]. And if good men will compare our [yea, Christ’s and His apostles’] doctrine with the very confused discussions of our adversaries, they will perceive that the adversaries have omitted the doctrine [without which no one can teach or learn anything that is substantial and Christian] concerning faith justifying and consoling godly hearts. They will also see that the adversaries invent many things concerning the merits of attrition, concerning the endless enumeration of offenses, concerning satisfactions; they say things (that touch neither earth nor heaven] agreeing neither with human nor divine law, and which not even the adversaries themselves can satisfactorily explain.