It will nevertheless be very necessary for Doctor Martin to prepare his foundation and opinion from the Holy Scriptures, namely, the articles as hitherto taught, preached, and written by him, and which he is determined to adhere to and abide by at the council, as well as upon his departure from this world and before the judgment of Almighty God, and in which we cannot yield without becoming guilty of treason against God, even though property and life, peace or war, are at stake” (McCain, Baker and Veith).
Here we must confess, as Paul says in Romans 5:12, that sin originated from one man, Adam. By his disobedience, all people were made sinners and became subject to death and the devil (McCain, Baker and Veith).
The fruit of this sin are the evil deeds that are forbidden in the Ten Commandments. These include unbelief, false faith, idolatry, being without the fear of God, pride, despair, utter blindness, and, in short, not knowing or regarding God. Also lying, abusing God’s name, not praying, not calling on God, not regarding God’s Word, being disobedient to parents, murdering, being unchaste, stealing, deceiving, and such. This hereditary sin is such a deep corruption of nature that no reason can understand it. Rather, it must be believed from the revelation of Scripture (McCain, Baker and Veith).
But the chief office or force of the Law is to reveal original sin with all its fruit. It shows us how very low our nature has fallen, how we have become utterly corrupted (McCain, Baker and Veith).
|Allegory of the Old and New Testaments Hans Holbein the Younger|
By the Law He strikes down both obvious sinners and false saints. He declares no one to be in the right, but drives them all together to terror and despair. This is the hammer. As Jeremiah says, “Is not My word like…a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” This is not active contrition or manufactured repentance. It is passive contrition, true sorrow of heart, suffering, and the sensation of death…but to this office of the Law, the New Testament immediately adds the consoling promise of grace through the Gospel. This must be believed…Whenever the Law alone exercises its office, without the Gospel being added, there is nothing but death and hell, and one must despair, as Saul and Judas did. St. Paul says, through sin the Law kills. On the other hand, the Gospel brings consolation and forgiveness. It does so not just in one way, but through the Word and the Sacraments and the like… (McCain, Baker and Veith).
So even in repentance, they taught people to put confidence in their own works…There was here no mention of Christ and faith. People hoped to overcome and blot out sins before God by their own works. With this intention, we became priests and monks, so we could protect ourselves against sin (McCain, Baker and Veith).
He who could not have contrition at least ought to have “attrition.” I call that half a contrition, or the beginning of contrition. The fact is, they themselves [Luther’s opponents] do not understand either of these terms, anymore than I do. But such attrition was counted as contrition when a person went to Confession. If anyone said that he could not have contrition or lament his sins (as might be the case with illicit love or the desire for revenge, etc.), they asked whether he wished or desired to have contrition. When one would reply “yes” – for who, save the devil himself, would say “no”? – they accepted this as contrition. They forgave him his sins on account of this good work of his. Here they cited the example of St. Bernard and others (McCain, Baker and Veith).