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Full text of "A plea for the Augsburg Confession : in answer to the objections of the Definite platform ; an address to all ministers and laymen of the evangelical church of the United States"

Mann, William Julius 

A plea for the Augsburg 
Confession 





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1H76 






A PLEA 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION, 



IX AXSWER TO THE OBJECTIONS OF 



THE DEFINITE PLATFORM: 



TO ALL MINISTERS AND LAYMEN OF THE EVANGELICAL 
CHURCH OF THE UNITED STATES. 



BY 

W. J. MANN, 

PASTOR OF ST. MICHAEL AND ZION CHURCHES, PHILADELPHIA. 



The truth shall make you free." 

Jesus Christ. 



for tljc CtUtyeran jBoarb of publication. 



PHILADELPHIA: 

LINDSAY & BLAKISTON. 
1856. 




i 
Vt 



ENTERED, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by 

LINDSAY & BLAKISTON, 
In the Clerk s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 



A PLEA 



FOR 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION, 

ETC. 



THE Church of our Fathers in this country, has, for a 
period of several months, been considerably agitated by a 
small anonymous Pamphlet, which purports to be a re 
cension of the Augsburg Confession, the primitive stand 
ard of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the most re 
nowned document of her faith, and for three centuries 
the unexceptionable password of her adherents. 

The recension, appearing under the title of " A Definite 
Platform," &c., acknowledges that the Augsburg Con 
fession as a whole is in perfect harmony with the revealed 
word of God, and declares that the venerable document is 
by no means to be done away with in the Church, whose 
birth it once gloriously proclaimed before the highest pow 
ers of Church and State in the old German Empire. And 
yet, notwithstanding this concession is made, the recen 
sion points out a series of doctrinal errors, which the 
Augsburg Confession is said to contain. These reputed 
errors are so glaring, that a very large portion of the mi 
nisters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of this coun 
try, have long since regarded their existence in the Augs- 



4 A PLEA FOR 

burg Confession as a matter of fact, not to be disputed 
any longer ; that they have arranged their teaching and 
preaching in their congregations accordingly, and that 
they feel themselves conscientiously bound to come out 
before the Church and the world with this Declaration of 
Independence, by which the Lutheran public is informed 
of their absolute freedom from any pollution produced by 
contact with the errors of the Augsburg Confession. 

We give them credit for this honest avowal of their par 
tial apostacy from the most important Confession, the Lu 
theran Church, as such, has to boast of. We do this the 
more cheerfully because we expect that they will give us 
credit for our open and unequivocal free-will offering of a 
Plea for the old Augsburg Confession, and even for those 
parts which seem to be very unbecoming stains on the 
face of the old document. 

We may as well mention at this point, that we shall in 
this short tract not speak of the objections, which, in the 
Definite Platform are set forth against some errors, con 
tained in some other symbolical looks of the Lutheran 
Church, but that we shall confine ourselves exclusively to 
the errors pointed out in the Augsburg Confession, the 
work of Luther and Melanchthon themselves, and the only 
one of our Confessions which was universally received as 
such by the whole Lutheran Church in all parts of the world. 

Of course the accusation against the Augsburg Confes 
sion involves an exhibition of Luther and Melanchthon, 
those pillars of the reformation, as teaching heretical doc 
trines which are not in accordance with the word of God. 
There is scarcely anything that can claim a more serious 
investigation. If there is error in such matters with such 
men, if they mixed truth with error in their own confes 
sions of faith, in whom may we have confidence ? If they 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 5 

misunderstood the Gospel in doctrinal matters, which with 
them were by no means of secondary consideration, who 
can claim our confidence and faith as a doctrinal autho 
rity? A little poison will make a whole loaf of otherwise 
good bread a harbinger of death. A confession, wherein 
a series of doctrinal errors plays such an important posi 
tion, seems to be of a similar character. 

We would to God Luther and Melanchthon could rise 
from their resting-places before our Lutheran Church, 
and with their own eloquence and learning, earnestness 
and power of spirit, plead their own cause, the cause of 
their God, and of his ever blessed Gospel. But in this 
grave question, which vitally affects the highest interests of 
our Lutheran Church, we may be permitted to let them 
speak in their own written and printed words, and we 
trust that a candid examination will prove, that our Re 
formers and their Confession, once delivered at Augsburg, 
have not been properly understood by those who charge 
them with doctrinal errors, that to another part they have 
been grossly misrepresented, and that in the whole, the 
errors are not on the side of the Augsburg Confession, 
but on the side of those who agitate our Lutheran Church 
with the introduction of a fatherless and motherless child, 
the Definite Platform. We shall endeavour to maintain 
in this controversy a dignified and Christian spirit, as it 
becomes this holy subject, and those who, differing in some 
points, know one Master and one service. People on earth 
will always differ in their opinions. The truth will gain 
by giving free scope to investigation, and by the illustra 
tion of the different sides of the same question. 

Before entering into the doctrinal contest, we are in 
honesty bound to confess, that there are some features in 
the Definite Platform, which, under all circumstances, must 

1* 



6 A PLEA FOR 

appear very illiberal and improper. The Synods adopting 
this Platform, are expected to make it a principle not to 
receive into their membership any one who would not sub 
scribe this Definite Platform. That is to say, that a 
man who has the old Lutheran faith, can no longer be a 
Lutheran in this new Lutheran Church of the Definite 
Platform. This is taking very strong ground, particu 
larly on the part of those who always did express a strong 
antipathy against all binding power of the old confessional 
or symbolical books of our Lutheran Church. The same 
men would now unlutlieranize every one who could not 
or would not coincide with their views. 

But this fact appears still more preposterous when we 
consider, that those very men who intend to change, to an 
extent, the doctrinal basis of the Lutheran Church, assume 
the position of representing the real doctrines and spirit 
of the Lutheran Church. The inconsistency of this be 
haviour will more plainly appear by a comparison. Sup 
pose some ministers in connexion with the Episcopal Church 
would, by the way of investigation, come to the conclu 
sion that the principle of Episcopacy, as laid down in the 
fundamental canons of the Church was wrong, that there 
were even some other errors connected with the Episcopal 
system of faith. Would it be regarded as any thing else 
than a most astounding presumption, for such men to dare 
to change the character of the church canons, and de 
nounce some of them as errors, and at the same time to 
maintain, that they themselves are the true representatives 
of the Episcopal Church, and can unchurch the others?. 
Or what would be the position of a man in connexion with 
the Baptists who, having convinced himself of the errors 
of the sacramental doctrine of the Baptist denomination, 
would, with some others, come out with aspersions of er- 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 7 

rors against the confessional document of his own church, 
and who, at the same time, would not only intend to main 
tain his position in the Baptist communion, but would as 
sume with his adherents, the position of a tribunal in 
"doctrinal and disciplinarian" matters in that church? 
That this is exactly the case with us, the sequel will clearly 
show. 

We cannot omit at this point the remark, that those 
who undertake to change the doctrinal basis of a church, 
take upon themselves an awful responsibility. They know 
that such an act strikes at the very heart of the church, 
has a tendency to unsettle the views of her members, and 
to make her own children mistrust their own mother. 
Our Lutheran Church has a history of three centuries. 
She is the first form of the glorious Reformation, which 
gave new life to the whole church. From this renewed 
church, as from a new heart of mankind, new, and fresh, 
and vigorous blood flows in an uninterrupted stream through 
mighty arteries into the whole world. The sounds pro 
duced by those strokes, wherewith Luther, the monk and 
the giant, nailed his 95 theses against the gates of the 
Cathedral at Wittenberg, still reverberate through the 
whole church ; and the mighty intellect of that man, with 
whom religion was life, and life religion, has shown itself 
in the conflict with popish perversions as powerful as in the 
masterly manner wherewith he, as an advocate of Christ 
and his atonement on earth, expounded the long-obscured 
mysteries of the Gospel. Melanchthon was called the " pre 
ceptor Germanise," the teacher of all Germany. Let any 
one examine the theological mastership which this learned 
and honoured, yet humble disciple of Christ, exhibited in 
his Apology for the Augsburg Confession a tract, which, 
as a theological exposition of our Lutheran faith, is sur- 



8 A PLEA FOR 

passed by none, unless by the Augsburg Confession, the 
work of the same mind and hand and he will be con 
vinced of the folly of those who presume to think, that 
he or his mighty coadjutor might be materially benefited 
by the dogmatical and exegetical instructions of the theo 
logical professors and authors of the present times. 

These are the authorities, now arraigned before a court 
of modern theologians, who charge them with having em 
bodied in the first and most prominent confession of our 
Lutheran Church, a number of errors in matters of faith 
and doctrine. 

We do not believe in the absolute wisdom or infallibility 
of any man on the face of the globe. We know that Lu 
ther and Melanchthon were men subject to human infirmi 
ties. We believe that they are no more than guides to 
the fountain of truth, to the Gospel ; and whenever we 
find that they lead us off from the word of God, we are 
bound not to hesitate in our decided deviation from their 
views. But the fact is, that they, being the instruments 
for a mighty work in the hands of God, gave an impulse 
to a new life of the church, and this they did on no other 
basis than the everlasting Gospel itself. There can be no 
mistake that they were not only most eminently endowed 
for their momentous mission, but that they made the most 
attentive and scrupulous study of the G-ospel the very pro 
fession of their private and public life. Their own reform 
ing activity, the hosts of opponents they had to encounter, 
their own position in the church, must have prompted them 
to do so. They did not arrive at their conclusions in a 
random way. Nor was it in a precipitate manner that 
they laid a confession of their faith before the highest 
powers of the Christian world, and before the supreme 
bench of the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. They 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. b 

felt the responsibility of having produced a schism in the 
one Catholic church, and they knew that on the day of 
judgment they had to answer for every word which they 
said. They fought a battle with the superstitions of cen 
turies, and nobody, who ever knew any thing about Lu 
ther, would venture to suppose that Luther ever would 
have given away the breadth of a hair to please man or 
to soothe the imbittered feeling of the mighty on earth. 
With him every article of faith was not merely the re 
sult of a close examination of the Gospel-text, which he 
would defend as a theologian, but it was a matter bear 
ing upon the peace of his heart. The Lutheran Reforma 
tion was eminently no work of the study-room, but of the 
" closet:" of prayer and deep experience of the inmost 
man. It was no reformation merely of theology, but of 
religion and piety. 

Those who embark on an expedition against the " Er 
rors" of the Augsburg Confession, ought to bear these 
things in mind, before they proclaim to the Lutheran 
Church the arrival of a revised and improved edition of 
our Confession. They may say, that most of the minis 
ters of the American Lutheran Church do not believe in 
those doctrines which the Platform points out to us as er 
rors. But of what weight is this? Shall we submit the 
faith of the church, the authority of Luther, Melanchthon, 
and a whole crowd of learned and pious men of old and 
new times, to the views of some ministers, whatever their 
merits may be, whatever their number, as to a higher au 
thority? Do not mention the enlightened spirit of the 
age. What did it prove, that the whole mass of the Is 
raelites in the times of Moses and Aaron forgot the law 
and the service of the living God, and went to adore a 
golden calf? Yet that was at that time the climax of 



10 A PLEA FOR 

wisdom, the then domineering "spirit of the age." The 
Lord deliver us from a time-serving spirit in matters of 
religion and eternal salvation. All our progress in the 
arts and sciences, in natural and mental philosophy, all 
the inventions of the age, all the combined results of all 
the combined researches of all the learned men of all cen 
turies, do not contain the least particle whereby they could 
save an immortal soul. Nor are they as such the key to 
unlock the storehouse of God s spiritual treasures ; neither 
can they afford us a deeper and clearer insight into the 
glorious Gospel, and into the eternal wants of our fallen 
race. The state of theology and religion of an age, does 
not at all depend upon the progress of general science and 
social life. An age may be backward as far as scientific 
attainments and social refinement are concerned, and yet 
have attained a high degree of gospel-knowledge. Even 
in an age of high mental culture, man, in matters of re 
ligion, must begin at the same point w r here the Reformers 
began. His heart, being blind and sinful, must share in 
the experience of those who, though backward in worldly 
intelligence, were enriched with the wisdom that cometh 
from above. The Gospel finds man always the same. 
Religion is a thing, that with every generation must be 
given anew, must take the same start in every man s heart, 
must operate in the same way, must use in all times the 
same means, must produce the same ends, must oppose the 
same enemies. It has nothing to do with time or locality, 
with nationality or age, with wisdom or power ; it is the 
ever great question between God and every individual 
man, to be decided by the Gospel, the Magna Charta of 
the kingdom of heaven. Let the spirit of our enlightened 
age be whatever it will, we all know that religion is not 
its forte, that the mind of the masses is taken up with 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 11 

worldly and secular affairs, that religion in our times is 
rather a mere ornament for respectability sake, thrown 
over the dress of fashion, than the force and substance of 
our life. How different was this in the times of the Re- 



f orm ation I There was an outp^u^in^joLspjritj of grace, 

The impulse given at 



that time, is attested by the history of the world. What 
can be compared to it in the age in which we live ? There 
could not be found a more unsuitable time to undertake 
a change of church confession than this, our age, the age of 
materialism, rationalism, and infidelity of a conflict of 
views on all the principles bearing upon social and private, 
ecclesiastical and political life, where no man is to be 
found who may be said to bear the true stamp of a re 
former. Lpt the spirit of Luther rise before you, TT<v 
was " every inch a reformer;" his thoughts, the broken 
spell_of nations ; his feelings, the pulsations of the heart 
ofjj^world; his words, facts and " half-battles ;" and his 
weapons, the sword of the Spirit^ 

We know very well that our Lutheran Church has pe 
culiarities of her own. So has every church. We know 
that some men do not understand this, and that, therefore, 
they are always clamorous against church confessions, and 
raise the cry, the Bible, the Bible, and nothing but the Bi 
ble ! This would do if all Christianity were to take the first 
start to-day. But already to-morrow, interpretations and 
confessions would spring up like mushrooms on a hot-bed. 
The Bible is the broad, unfathomable ocean, on which all 
sects and churches spread their canvass, and every one 
of them steers for a safe port after its own predilections. 
Every denomination has an individual life, and the law of 
self-preservation ought to teach her, that she is throwing 
herself away, if she is not determined to stand by her 



12 A PLEA/FOR 

banners, and to defend her position. that our Lutheran 
Church never had courted the vestibules of her neighbours 
sanctuaries as she did! that she might have under 
stood the peculiar ^opto^ai-a, the gifts of grace which God 
from heaven, has intrusted to her in her doctrines ! With 
them, she has a life of her own ; without them, she loses 
the privilege of an individual character. The experience 
of the past will teach us at what follies and eccentricities 
churches may arrive, which have no definite historical po 
sition, and are ashamed of their own birth-right, and have 
no faith in the documents witnessing their origin. They 
are like those nebulous clouds in the sky which have no 
solid nucleus, but float on an uncertain track through the 
universe, attracted by other celestial bodies, with whom, 
on their errand, they may perchance come in contact. 
XA._church must have a confession of her own ? and L jhejnust 
stand to it unwaveringly, unless she has lost self-respect 
and faith in her own self. There may always be some 
who have their doubts. But these doubts will certainly 
not claim more respect than the old faith of the church. 
At least, those who doubt, should not change the founda 
tions of a building which they did not lay. 

There is a tendency prevailing to make the Lutheran 
Church large, and so extend her borders at the expense 
of her life-blood, her doctrine. May her children be like 
the sand on the sea-shore and the stars upon the firma 
ment ; may her strength ever increase and her foundation 
be the whole surface of the globe. But let this founda 
tion be strong, and let us not forget that we, as the Lu 
theran Church, shake our corner-stone in shaking the 
Augsburg Confession. Neither name, nor flesh, nor blood, 
can make us true Lutherans, but the Lutheran spirit and 
the Lutheran doctrine. 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 13 

We have no objections against an ever repeated, rigor 
ous examination and comparison between the Augsburg 
Confession and the Gospel, the rock on which that corner 
stone of our church is laid. But we have to offer most 
emphatically the strongest objections against the officious 
manner in which some persons raise alarm throughout the 
church, promulgate their intention to change the Augsburg 
Confession, and act in such a manner, as if their views in 
regard to the so called errors of the Augsburg Confession 
were absolutely above all possibility of error. 

Any one who has the least acquaintance with the history 
of science, knows to what change science is subject. This 
admits of no exception, in regard to theology. Almost 
without perceiving it, men may be led to views quite dif 
ferent from those which they formerly embraced. Think 
of Germany ! About fifty years ago almost all the theo 
logical chairs, and even the pulpits of that country, were 
under the control of rank rationalists. This is the period 
whose theological exploits the Definite Platform unfortu 
nately holds up to us as an authority in the sacramental 
doctrines, (v. p. 40.) Look at the theological and reli 
gious literature of Germany of those times. What a change 
has taken place in the course of twenty or thirty years ! 
The Lord be ever praised for his blessings, and for the 
revival of religion, wherewith Germany has been visited! 
And in the same degree in which piety has been increasing, 
the old doctrinal standards, once treated like mere super 
stitious absurdities of by-gone years, have received new 
honours. 

There is nothing stationary in life. We may often, in 
matters of religion, have felt the immediate power and in 
fluence of this or that doctrine, whilst other points of faith 
stood in the background. But other experiences or re- 
2 



14 A PLEA FOR 

newed studies of the Gospel, may at once convince us, 
that there were treasures laid into our hands, thus far un 
known to ourselves. But in this question there is involved 
not so much the change of private views, as the alteration 
of a public document. Let us not he hasty in this mat 
ter. Perhaps we might have to change again hefore long. 
Could any man of sound mind expect beneficial results 
from such a want of stability in our doctrinal position? 
Let us pause once more and investigate a little more prayer 
fully and attentively, before we issue a "writ of errors" 
against the Augsburg Confession. Let us treat the vene 
rable legacy of our father in the faith, gently and reve 
rently, and let us not forget, that there is no one living 
now amongst us, who might, even in matters of theological 
and religious knowledge, sit honourably on the bench of 
judges against a Luther and a Melanchthon. 

After these preliminary remarks, called forth by the 
subject before us, we now proceed to examine the charges 
of errors, broached against the Augsburg Confession by 
the "Definite Platform." The space allotted to us, will 
not admit of as minute an examination as these subjects 
require. But we will endeavour to point out in the most 
concise manner, those principles and facts which will have 
a bearing upon the decision of this doctrinal controversy. 



FIRST ERROR. 

THE APPROVAL OF THE CEREMONIES OF THE MASS. 

This is the first accusation against the Augsburg Con 
fession. We will give it an unprejudiced examination. 
The charge is a very grave one. Only think of a pro- 
testant church approving of that act of popery, by which 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 15 

the very substance of the perversion in doctrine and prac 
tice is brought to light. 2 

But the charge directed against our Lutheran Church, 
is a very unjust one. We will preface the refutation of 
it by the remark, that in those times, when our Augsburg 
Confession was formed, the term "Missa," "Mass," was 
one in general use for the eucharist.* To this term, as 
best known to all those, most of them Catholics, before 
whom the Augsburg Confession was first read, on the 25th 
of June, 1530, the authors of the Confession accommo 
dated themselves. 

The article in the Augsburg Confession bearing upon 
this question is the 24th. Before hearing what it says, 
we will remember that it is the third article of the second 
part of the whole Augsburg Confession. This second part 
is ushered in with the superscription, "Articles on which 
there is dispute; enumeration of the ABUSES which we have 
abrogated" 

We see that Art. 24th has the title, The mass. We 
see that the mass is here enumerated amongst the abuses 
on which there is dispute between Lutherans and Roman 
ists, and that the Lutherans have abrogated the abuses 
practised in the Roman Church in connexion with the 
mass, or the Lord s Supper. So much for the present on 

* Tlius we read in the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Art. 12: 
Mass is held in our churches on every Sunday and festival, ivhen the sacra- 
ment is administered to those who desire it, but only after they have been ex 
amined and absolved. Besides, Christian ceremonies are likewise observed 
in reading, singing, praying, c. In olden times, the celebration of the 
eucharist was much more frequent than now, in the church in general. 
We see here distinctly, that Mass means nothing else but the Lord s Sup 
per. The ceremonies, reading, singing, praying, kneeling, standing, and 
so on, seem to be rather innocent. In later years, the term Mass in this 
sense was entirely given up by the Reformers. 



16 A PLEA FOR 

the expression of the Definite Platform in this respect, 
viz., the Augsburg Confession contains the approval of 
the ceremonies of the Romish mass. 

The Platform does not mean to say, that the Augsburg 
Confession does approve of the doctrines of the Romish 
Church in regard to the Lord s Supper. Certainly the 
difference between the two churches on this point is es 
tablished beyond all doubt. But let us compare the Ro 
mish doctrine and usages, and the doctrine and usages 
of the Augsburg Confession in their main features regard 
ing this question. 

The Romish Church teaches, that by " transubstantia- 
tion" bread and wine are in substance changed into the 
body and blood of Christ. The Augsburg Confession 
teaches, on her part, nothing of the kind. We shall here 
after hear what her positive teaching on this point is. (v. 
Confession, Augsburg, Art. 10.) 

The Romish Church teaches, that by the sacramental 
service of the priest, the sacrifice of Christ is repeated 
with every celebration of the mass. The Augsburg Con 
fession expressly rejects this in the strongest terms: say 
ing, 1. That Christ has offered himself once for all the sins 
of the world. 2. That we receive grace from God not by 
works, opus operatum, but by faith in Christ, and that 
the Romish Church teaches wrong by exhibiting the cele 
bration of the mass or the Lord s Supper as a meritorious 
work. 3. That sacraments as such are by no means in 
stituted to serve as a sacrifice or atonement for our sins, 
because the atonement is performed by Christ s death, but 
as a means to awaken our faith and to comfort the hearts 
and consciences of men, by reminding them through this 
sacrament, that Christ has promised them grace and for 
giveness of sins. These ar^ the very words of the Augs 
burg Confession. (Art. 24.) 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 17 

Again : The Romish Church teaches, that nobody but 
the priest should be allowed to partake of the bread 
and the cup. This abuse had been abolished in the Lu 
theran Church long before the Diet of Augsburg ; and the 
Augsburg Confession in her 22d Art., which is the very 
first amongst those which refute the Romish abuses, de 
clares that in the Lutheran Churches, according to the 
plain words of Christ, the lay-members receive the bread 
and the cup as well as the ministers. 

Again : In the Romish Church the priest may celebrate 
the Lord s Supper without any church members being pre 
sent. This, the Augsburg Confession rejects, and main 
tains, that with us the Lord s Supper is reinstated as a 
true communion, where the ministers and others appear 
as participants. (Art. 24.) 

Again: The Popish Church used to have processions 
and similar parades in connexion with the mass. This, 
too, the Lutheran Church has abolished, (v. Augsburg 
Confession, Art. 22.) 

Article 24 sums up by saying, that "with us the Lord s 
Supper remains in its proper use, as they observed it in 
the Church in olden times, as can be proved from St. Paul, 
1 Cor. xi., and by the writings of many Church fathers." 

Having all these facts and quotations from the Augs 
burg Confession before us, what shall we say to the charge 
of the Definite Platform, that the Augsburg Confession 
approves of the ceremonies of the mass? Any one read 
ing this accusation, as it stands out in bold relief, might 
think that the Augsburg Confession swallows down with 
out any hesitation or scruples, all the popish paraphernalia 
of the mass like the whale swallowed Jonah. But it turns 
out to be a misrepresentation, calculated to arouse in the 

2* 



18 A PLEA FOR 

hearts of many less informed members of the Lutheran 
Church, misgivings against their own spiritual mother. 

"We know very well that Luther did not give to the cele 
bration of the Lord s Supper that shape which it has at 
the present time in most of our Lutheran Churches and 
in others. But let us not forget, that Luther regarded 
outward forms and signs as being of secondary importance, 
and that he, in his times, knew the minds of his people 
well enough, and that he did not go with them to extremes, 
which might have endangered the very essence of religion 
in them, and eradicated truth with the error, and the useful 
with the useless, by at once changing every particle of 
forms of worship, in vogue with them from time immemo 
rial. This has been the case with so many extremes when 
in the hour of excitement, sickly enthusiasm, forgetting 
all historical connexion with the past, planted something 
worse in the place of popery. Again : Luther and Me- 
lanchthon maintained the principle, that no man should 
make laws absolutely binding in matters of religion, where 
the Gospel did not bind the consciences by such laws. 
They contended for freedom in points regarding forms of 
worship. Let us hear what the Augsburg Confession 
teaches in her 8th Article: " It is sufficient for the real 
unity of the Christian church, that the preaching is done in 
harmony, with, and according to the true, unaltered mean 
ing of the Crospel, and that the sacraments are administered 
according to the ivord of G-od. But it is not necessary 
for the real unity of the church, that there are everywhere 
the same ceremonies instituted by men." This is the broad 
basis of our Augsburg Confession. Let us thank God for 
this spirit of liberty which makes our Lutheran Church a 
home for the spirit and not a stronghold for the letter, 
and which gives us freedom in religion in all matters of 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 19 

forms and ceremonies, and other non-essentials. We, in 
our times, do not celebrate the Lord s Supper, as the Lord 
himself celebrated it with his disciples. With us the whole 
arrangement is a different one. At the time of its insti 
tution, there were no women at the table ; there is no spe 
cial law of Christ that they should be admitted now. But 
certainly we have a right, yea, a duty to admit them, and 
our Lord s Supper, whatever other differences in point of 
outward forms may take place, is nevertheless the Lord s 
Supper. 

Luther manifested great anxiety in reference to the 
real beauty and the becoming manner of congregational 
worship. He desired the celebration of the sacrament to 
be a solemn act, edifying in all the parts of its adminis 
tration. But he was very far from making his taste a 
binding law, although his taste in this respect was cer 
tainly a good one, by which many of us might be bene 
fited. 

To sum up this whole argument, we will mention that 
already, in 1526, Luther edited a formula under the title, 
"The German Mass," wherein he gave a beautiful ritual 
for the Lord s Supper, to be conducted in the German, 
and which, in its main features, is in use yet in hundreds 
of Lutheran Churches. 

With this evidence before us, we must confess that we 
cannot understand how members of the Lutheran Church 
can prefer, against our Augsburg Confession, the odious 
charge of her "approval of the ceremonies of the mass," 
whilst the Augsburg Confession itself enumerates the mass 
amongst those abuses the Lutheran Church had abolished. 



20 A PLEA FOR 



SECOND ERROR. 

PRIVATE CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION. 

The Definite Platform maintains, that the Augsburg 
Confession commits a gross error by making private con 
fession and absolution one of the standard Lutheran prin 
ciples. 

In the first place, we will remark, that the accusation 
is quite likely to arouse a feeling, as if the Lutheran doc 
trine had rather a tendency to chime in with the Roman 
error of auricular confession and priestly absolution. No 
charge against the Augsburg Confession could possibly be 
more unjust than this one, for which there is in fact no 
shadow of right. 

Let us remember, that the 25th Art. of the Augsburg 
Confession, which bears the title "on confession," is one 
of those which treat, as we have stated above, on " abuses 
abolished in the Lutheran community." 

We will now listen to what the Augsburg Confession 
says in Art. 25, against those Roman abuses connected 
with confession. 

" The ministers of our communion nave not done away 
with confession. We retain the custom of administer i7ig 
the Lords Supper to those only who have previously con 
fessed and heard absolution. On this occasion we dili 
gently instruct our people how comforting the word of ab 
solution is, how highly they ought to prize it; for it 
is not to be regarded as the mere voice or word of a pre 
sent man, but as the word of G-od, who is the forgiver of 
sin. For absolution is pronounced in the name of Crod, 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 21 

and according to his command. We teach most diligently 
of this command and power of the keys, how comforting, 
how necessary it is for the terrified consciences; also, that 
it is God s WILL that we believe in this absolution, as if 
we could hear the voice of Grod from on high, and that we 
should be joyful in the spirit, and be certain that through 
such faith we shall receive forgiveness of sins. The mi 
nisters who formerly have said a great deal about confes 
sion, did not mention a word about these necessary doc 
trines, but they did torment the consciences with requiring 
long enumerations of sins, ivith satisfactions, and indul 
gences, and pilgrimages, $c. Even many of our antago 
nists do confess, themselves, that this chapter, on true 
Christian penance, is now treated and taught a great 
deal more becomingly than it has been for a long time." 

" Our teaching in regard to confession is, that no one 
is expected to mention his sins one by one, because this 
is impossible; (v. Ps. xix. 13, and Jer. xvii. 9.) Poor 
frail human nature is so deeply imbued witli sin, that 
man is unable to see and to know all his sins, and it ivould 
avail us but little if we were to be absolved only of those 
sins which we are able to enumerate." 

Here the Augsburg Confession introduces quotations 
from church fathers which fully coincide with these prin 
ciples. She winds up the whole paragraph with the re 
markable words of Chrysostom, that " Confession is not a 
commandment of the Grospel, but instituted by the church." 
It concludes by saying, that the Lutheran communion 
retains confession on account of absolution, which is the 
main point of it, and on account of some other less im 
portant reasons. 

Now let us sum up the points bearing upon the question 
before us. We see that our Lutheran standard has no- 



22 A PLEA FOR 

thing at all to do with auricular confession, as practised 
in the Roman Church. There, the penitent is required 
(we mention one point of many,) to relate at least all his 
"mortal sins" (a discrimination of sins which we do not re 
cognise) and to relate them with all their concomitants, the 
circumstances under which the sins were committed, the 
motives which prompted the will to them, the ends which 
were produced by them. Our Augsburg Confession re 
jects all this, and all the awful ballast of human laws and 
inventions of priestcraft, which make the confessional chair 
more influential than the Pope s chair at Rome. 

Again : Our Lutheran Church knows of no priesthood 
in the sense of the word in the Roman Church. Our 
church maintains the doctrine of the universal priesthood 
of all believers in Christ. Already, in 1521, Luther pub 
lished his celebrated tract on this subject. It is easy to 
understand what the consequences of this true Christian 
doctrine must be for the doctrine of confession. The Lu 
theran minister does not stand there like the embodiment 
of the power of hell or heaven, not like the representative 
of a caste endowed with the exclusive prerogative to de 
cide on the eternal fate of poor miserable sinners. 

We will here introduce the formula of absolution used at 
Wittenberg, the cradle of the Lutheran Reformation, in 
the year 1559. After the admonition to repentance and 
faith in Christ, the minister shall say: " Therefore to all 
such as are here present with a penitent and believing 
spirit, who turn themselves to Grod and fear his anger at 
their sins, who believe that their sins are forgiven for the 
sake of Jesus Christ, and who earnestly resolve to die unto 
sin, to all such 1 proclaim the forgiveness of their sins ac 
cording to the word of the Lord : Whosesoever sins you 
remit, they are remitted unto them. Therefore, according 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 23 

to the command of Christy I pronounce to you this for 
giveness, that your sins are pardoned for the sake of Jesus 
Christ. And of this voice of the Gf-ospel you ought to 
accept, and enjoy true comfort in Christ, and walk faith 
fully and obediently before God, having a good conscience." 
This is nothing but what the Bible authorizes, and has been 
the practice of the Lutheran Church from the beginning 
until the present time, even in this country. 

Again: Our Augsburg Confession avowedly says, that 
confession is an institution ordered by the church, and not 
resting on a special dictate of the Gospel. But the Augs 
burg Confession, having refuted and rejected the Romish 
errors, has certainly a right to maintain what may be in 
the hands of a faithful ministry a most excellent means 
to bring repentance and consolation nearer to the hearts 
of sinners. 

We all know how urgently the Gospel enjoins us to be 
ware of an unworthy participation of the body and blood 
of Christ. The Church could not do better than institute 
a particular service, preparatory to the celebration of the 
Lord s Supper. There, an occasion is given .to move the 
hearts of men, to preach to them repentance, and to warn 
them of a portentous responsibility. And all those who 
are lingering after the comfort of forgiveness of sins, can 
there, at the same time, hear the blessed word of pardon, 
pronounced according to the command of Christ. 

A man who doubts whether a minister of Christ has a 
right to pronounce absolution in the name of Christ, must 
never for a moment have held up to his earnest, attentive 
consideration and reflection, the words of Christ: "What 
soever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven ; 
and whatsoever ye loose on earth, shall be loosed in hea 
ven!" Matt, xviii. 18. It has been the view of the Lu- 



24 A PLEA FOR 

theran theologians from the beginning, that these words of 
Christ apply to the ecclesiastical rights of the whole con 
gregation. The connexion of the whole passage, together 
with other Scriptural passages, proves indisputably, that 
this verse finds its application, not to the Apostles only, 
but to the whole church, and every individual member 
thereof, the rights and obligations of the regular pastor 
remaining intact. De Wette, kurze Erklaerung der Evang. 
Matth. 3 Ausgabe, 1845, p. 196, 19T. Rud. Stier s Re- 
den des Herrn Jesu, 2 Ausg. 2 Theil, p. 246, sgg. 

Of course, in the congregation as such, the minister is 
the duly appointed officer, who, in the name of Christ, will 
proclaim the good tidings of forgiveness to the penitent, 
and the awful wrath of God to the impenitent and to the 
hypocrite. But this does not forbid, that under certain 
circumstances a member of the church may confess his sins 
to another member, and be comforted by the cheering ex 
hortation of his brother, who is no minister. 

We may well ask now, whether the Augsburg Confes 
sion commits an error in maintaining private confession 
under all those restrictions related above. We allow a 
minister to hear a confession from his whole flock. Why 
in the name of common sense should we regard it as wrong 
in him to hear the confession of the individual members 
thereof? 

Thousands of times the spell of sin might be broken if 
there only would be an open confession on the part of the 
sinner, before another brother, who could be the spiritual 
guide to the fountain of mercy and life. 

Of course, this requires the most solid confidence on 
the part of the confessing brother, and the most sacred 
reservation on the part of the other. We would to God 
that all our church members had that confidence in our 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 25 

ministers ! What a praise this would be to those minis 
ters; it would speak volumes for them! 

But alas! the state of things is deplorable enough. 
Under the influence of a revival-excitement, scenes have 
often been witnessed bordering very near upon, not pri 
vate, but auricular confession. There is a testimony even 
in this in favour of the Augsburg Confession. 

Let us not proclaim error where the question is not to 
be settled by a mere chiming in with a popular prejudice. 
Our Augsburg Confession contains, also, in this point, a 
doctrine which may expect a very close and scrupulous 
examination before being held up by her own confessors 
to contempt on account of supposed "error." 



THIRD ERROR. 

DENIAL OF THE DIVINE OBLIGATION OF THE CHRISTIAN 
SABBATH. 

BY this accusation the Augsburg Confession seems to 
be placed in a very bad predicament. The Definite Plat 
form exposes the old, long revered Document to a just 
scorn to all orthodox Christendom, showing its very un 
godliness in a most essential point. What good may be 
expected from a Church, whose first and best Confession 
teaches that the keeping of the Christian Sabbath is not 
a divine obligation? 

We will here state that the Definite Platform admits of 
a little freedom of opinion on this subject. For, enume 
rating the errors in the Augsburg Confession and in 
3 



26 A PLEA FOR 

some other symbolical books of our Church, it says: "At 
the same time, whilst we will not admit into our Synod 
any one who believes in Exorcism, private Confession, and 
Absolution or the ceremonies of the Mass, we grant liberty 
in regard to the other omitted topics, and are willing, as 
heretofore, to admit ministers who receive them, provided 
they regard them as non-essential, etc." Among those 
other omitted topics is the denial of the divine obligation 
of the Christian Sabbath. 

We will clear the way somewhat for further remarks on 
this subject by simply stating, that our Augsburg Confes 
sion nowhere, in any way, teaches that we should not keep 
the Christian Sabbath in a Christian way, or that the 
keeping of the Christian Sabbath rightly understood, is not 
a divine obligation. On the contrary, our Augsburg Con 
fession lays down, in regard to this point, the Gospel rule 
that we should have order in all things, particularly in 
Church matters, and that we should certainly not scandal 
ize our brethren by breaking the established order of the 
Church in this respect, by breaking the sacred rest of the 
Christian Sabbath. 

It seems to us to be a duty towards the Augsburg Con 
fession to mention, at this place, that she nowhere speaks 
of the Sabbath with any intention to settle the difficult 
question of the origin of our Christian Sunday, which 
superseded the Old Testament Sabbath, (Saturday.) The 
Augsburg Confession speaks of the Sabbath incidentally 
in Art. 28, which treats on the Power of the Bishops. 

The Definite Platform reads thus, p. 27: "The Sab 
bath must be universally obligatory, and the abrogation 
of the Mosaic ritual can, at most, only repeal those cere 
monial additions which that ritual made, and must leave 
the original Sabbath as at found it. Now whilst the 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 27 

^Apostles and first Christians, under the inspired guidance, 
for a season attended worship on the Jewish Sabbath, yet 
they observed the day of the Lord s resurrection, the first 
day of the week, as their day of special religious convoca 
tions ; and this inspired example is obligatory on Christians 
in all ages. Still the essence of the institution consists, 
not in the particular day of the week, though that is now 
fixed, but. in the religious observance of one day in seven." 

We may easily see that the difference between the Augs 
burg Confession and the Definite Platform does not at all 
consist in the negation of a divine obligation to keep the 
Christian Sabbath on the part of the Augsburg Confession, 
and on the affirmation of such an obligation on the part 
of the Definite Platform. The Augsburg Confession 
striving against the abuses of the power of the Bishops, 
mentions bad practices of the Bishops in regard to the 
Sabbath and other days. She incidentally asserts that 
she regards every Christian as in duty bound to keep the 
Sabbath, and without entering, in any way, into all the 
details connected with this subject, she reminds the Chris 
tian reader of a well known Apostolic dictate, to beware 
of giving offence to another brother. 

It is a well known fact that the Roman Church regards 
the Christian Sabbath as a holy day set apart for the par 
ticular service of God. Thus she regards the Christian 
Sabbath, whatever her teachings concerning the manner 
of keeping this holy day may have been. But we will 
remember that there was no dispute about the Jewish or di 
vine institution of the Christian Sabbath between the 
Roman Church and the Reformers. The Roman Church 
regards everything divine which she holds and teaches, no 
matter whether Christ himself, or whether his representa 
tives on earth, did institute those things she holds and 



28 A PLEA FOR 

teaches. On this latter point there was no dispute be 
tween Rome and Wittenberg, that is to say, Luther and 
Melanchthon had received from the older Church the 
doctrine and practice of the Christian Sabbath as a holy 
day, as a divine institution and obligation, and they had 
not a word to say against this view of the Sabbath. But 
they had a great deal to say against the abuses by virtue 
of which the Bishops made the Sabbath a day of sin and 
x&dishonour to God and to his Church, instead of making it 
a day devoted to his glory. Let us not forget that the 
Christian Sabbath days were those very days on which 
Luther raised his voice and pronounced, with an eloquence 
unsurpassed by any pulpit orator since three centuries, the 
glorious Gospel, and that he and his co-operators, particu 
larly on Sundays, by preaching and teaching led the mul 
titude of their hearers back to the chief Shepherd, Jesus 
Christ. The work of the Reformation progressed on Sun 
days more than on any other days. Luther and Melanch 
thon have reinstated the true Christian Sabbath; they felt 
the divine obligation of this holy day; and for this very 
reason they would not permit that on this day of the Lord 
anything else should be given to his people than his pure, 
everlasting Gospel and his divine ordinances. 

We trust that we have succeeded in convincing our 
readers that the charge of a denial of the divine institu 
tion and obligation of the Christian Sabbath, brought forth 
against the Augsburg Confession, is not based on a true 
and clear interpretation of those words in the Augsburg 
Confession which treat on this subject. 

We may be allowed to state, that the manner in which 
the Sabbath was, and is kept in a large part of Europe, 
in the Roman and in the Protestant Church, is not suited 
to the holy purposes of the day. The Augsburg Confession 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 29 

is no book of morals for the Christian, no illustration of 
all his duties. She prevents no Lutheran from keeping 
the Sabbath as strictly as possible. But she would op 
pose the idea that the keeping of the Sabbath as such, 
is a meritorious work in the sight of God. The Sabbath 
is not the aim, but a means to promote edification, a means 
to accomplish the ultimate end of a Christian life, increase 
in godliness. The Sabbath will be subservient to this, 
not merely by our refraining from worldly employment as 
such, but by our spiritual intercourse with God and with 
his revealed word, and by every thing that will have a 
tendency to improve in us the knowledge of divine things, 
and the love of God and our fellow-men. Certainly the 
Augsburg Confession will fully approve of all this. And 
what more can be required ? 

Remembering all the abuses practised by the Romish 
priests and bishops in regard to the keeping of the Sab 
bath and festivals, we will not wonder that the Augsburg 
Confession contends for evangelical freedom in this point. 
She opposes the abuses, not the proper and useful obser 
vance of the day. The Romish Church laid intolerable 
burdens upon men s consciences in regard to innumerable 
usages, customary in those times. All this she did under 
the pretext of being the divinely appointed and inspired 
guide of the world. Whatever she ordered was to be re 
garded as divinely instituted. Against her doctrine, that 
certain duties imposed by her upon Christians in regard 
to the Sabbath, would be the very thing pleasing to God, 
and that by fulfilling them we would certainly have the 
gates of heaven opened to us, against this erroneous 
teaching the Augsburg Confession contends in defending 
the conscience and freedom of a Christian in regard to the 
Sabbath. On this account, and on no other, she intro- 

3* 



SO A PLEA FOR 

duces those remarkable words of St. Paul: "Let no man 
judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, 
or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, which are a 
shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ," Col. 
ii. 16, IT. 

We may well ask whether the Apostle would have 
written these words if he had entertained the view that 
the Sabbath in the New Testament is in the same degree 
and manner binding upon us in which the Sabbath in the 
Old Testament has been to the Jews. No Christian re 
gards the Jewish festivals of Pascha, etc,, binding upon 
him. Still they are ordered with the same emphasis and 
had to be kept as strictly as Sabbaths, 2 Thes. v. 11, 16. 
We may also remind our readers of that well known pas 
sage in the Acts, ch. xv. Some Christians who formerly 
had belonged to the sect of the Pharisees required from 
Christians who formerly had been Gentiles a strict obser 
vance of all the enjoinments of the Mosaic Law. But 
their propositions did not meet with the approval of the 
convention of the apostles and members of the church. 
Amongst those restrictions, laid upon the Gentile Chris 
tians, the Sabbath is not even mentioned, v. 28, 29. 

It is an indisputable fact that the primitive Christians 
did not keep the Christian Sabbath in as strict a way as 
the Jewish Sabbath had been kept. They at first met 
daily for social edification, Acts ii. 46 ; xix. 9. By and 
by Sunday was distinguished from the other days as 
the day of the resurrection of Christ. The Christians 
converted from Judaism, and their descendants, seem to 
have kept the Sabbath and the Sunday as holy days. 

That the celebration of our Christian Sabbath is of 
Apostolic origin we do not deny. But that they gave 
particular instruction thrt^ the Christian Sabbath had 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 31 

taken the place of the Old Testament Sabbath, this is no 
where stated. 

The Definite Platform calls their example of observing 
the day of the Lord s resurrection an inspired one. This 
seems to involve a principle against which we must guard 
ourselves. The Apostles were certainly inspired in their 
ivritings, which we have yet in the New Testament. 
Even in them they sometimes make a distinction between 
the Lord s dictates and between their own opinions. But 
that their example should be called inspired includes the 
principle that they were inspired, not liable to errors also 
in their actions. This is not warranted by the Scriptures. 
The example which Peter gave (Gal. ii. 12, 13,) when he 
dissembled was certainly not an inspired one. We say 
this merely with regard to the principle which is involved 
in this matter. We have not the least doubt that the 
Apostles did the will of God in celebrating the day of 
Christ s resurrection as a holy day. This the Augsburg 
Confession, on her part, does by no means deny. The 
Definite Platform bases the divine obligation of the Chris 
tian Sabbath on the example of the Apostles. The Augs 
burg Confession teaches that it is an ordinance made by 
the Church. 

The Definite Platform does not mention a particular 
dictate of the Lord Jesus Christ in this respect, because 
there is no such dictate extant. Consequently the ordi 
nance was instituted by the Church after Christ. 

It is easy to see that the difference between the Augs 
burg Confession and the Definite Platform is, by no means, 
as great as it at first might appear. And both are una 
nimous in their declaration against all abuses which w r ill 
have a tendency to impede the holiness of the Lord s day. 
Loth are harmonious also in this point, that the "essence 



32 A PLEA FOR 

of the Old Testament institution consists, not in the par 
ticular day of the week, though that is now fixed, but in 
the religious observance of one day in seven." Definite 
Platform, p. 28. 

Whatever theological or exegetical arguments may be 
brought forward to prove that all the rules of the Old 
Testament Sabbath apply to the Christian Sabbath, they 
rest on no special, clear, unequivocal dictate of Christ 
himself. jTkis_ tM,^Boj?m*g--lmya-ieit, . and_QO_thia_ac- 
count they are guarded in their expressions regarding the 
divine institution of our Christian Sabbath. The more 
stress we lay upon our divine obligation to keep all the 
rules, restrictions, observances, &c., connected in the 
Mosaic Law with the Sabbath ordinance, the more we 
shall subject ourselves to the remark that the Christian 
change of the day, the Christian keeping of the Sunday 
instead of the divinely and expressly appointed seventh 
day, is not quite in accordance with that rigorous strict 
ness, which in regard to all the other points of the Sab 
bath Law, is enjoined upon us. 

We may as well state here that all those passages in 
the New Testament which speak of the Christian Sabbath 
(Sunday,) are not sufficient to give us a thoroughly satis 
factory information about the manner and strictness with 
which the primitive Christians kept their Sabbath, the 
day of the resurrection of Christ. It is certain that it 
was with them a day of religious convocation, of prayer, 
of reading the gospel, and hearing the word, and of be 
nevolence, 1 Cor. xvi. 2, Acts xx. 7. But these things 
together with the celebration of the Lord s supper were, 
as we have already remarked, even of a daily use with 
the first Christians, Acts ii. 46. The expression "Lord s 
Day," in Rev. i. 10, is of a doubtful interpretation. 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 33 

Most probably it means, in the connexion in which it 
stands (v. 7, etc.,) the day of judgment. 

There can be no difficulty in perfectly understanding 
the position the Augsburg Confession has taken in this 
question. 

We have already mentioned that it was one of the 
greatest and grossest abuses of Popery to appoint Holy 
days and Festivals almost without number. In the same 
manner the Sabbath was often abused, being appointed 
as a day for a pilgrimage or for the performance of simi 
lar pious usages and ceremonies to obtain the blessing of 
forgiveness of sins. 

The miserable and perverted doctrine that obedience 
to such ecclesiastical ordinances was a meritorious work 
was one of the thousand means employed in those times 
to keep the people in bondage and so torment the con 
science. It was at the same time quite calculated to de 
stroy the last particle of faith in Christ and in his atone 
ment. Against this great and ruinous error that same 
article comes out in the strongest terms, censuring all the 
superstition connected with the adoration of saints, with 
fasting, with refraining from certain meals, and with si 
milar laws and traditions. The Augsburg Confession 
says, that "innumerable human dictates" of this sort had 
sprung up by the authority of the ecclesiastic powers, 
which were by no means entitled to order any such thing, 
in direct opposition to the word of God. 

We would call upon all our readers to examine that 
28th Article of the Augsburg Confession for themselves. 
It sets forth with surprising force the two vital prin 
ciples of the Protestant Church; first, the absolute au 
thority of the Gospel in matters of faith; and secondly, 
salvation by the free grace of God in Christ through faith 
alone. Confession, Art. 4, 6, 20. 



34 A PLEA FOR 

It is a masterly illustration of the perversion of religion 
in the Popish Church brought about by the abuses of 
ecclesiastical power, and, at the same time, it is a most 
beautiful exposition of the teachings of the Bible in re 
gard to the ecclesiastical office and to its holy duties. 
The Augsburg Confession, notwithstanding her definite 
assertion that the Christian Sabbath (Sunday) rests on no 
special dictate of the word of God, maintains that by 
necessity and by right the Church instituted our Christian 
Sabbath, and that we ought to keep it. But, at the same 
time, she holds to the great principle that neither the 
keeping of any day nor any other good work as such is 
the means of salvation. 

We may conclude this chapter with the remark that, 
also in this case, the Augsburg Confession stands on pure 
and solid gospel ground, and that no individual, who will 
rightly consider the whole complex of thoughts and sen 
tences in that article, will charge her with error. We 
may well introduce here a quotation she contains in this 
very article, We can do nothing against tJie truth, but for 
the truth, 2 Cor. xiii. 8. 



FOURTH AND FIFTH ERRORS. 

BAPTISMAL REGENERATION AND THE REAL PRESENCE OF 
CHRIST IN THE LORD S SUPPER. 

WE may introduce these two subjects at the same time, 
and with some general remarks on the nature of the Sac 
raments. We will, at this place, state that it is not our 
intention to enter, in this short essay, into all the details 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 35 

of exegetical and dogmatical questions connected with the 
whole doctrine on the Sacraments, and profoundly and 
scrupulously expounded in so many theological treatises 
of former and later date. Our intention is simply to 
throw out some hints calculated to prove that the framers 
of the Augsburg Confession entered upon the preparation 
of this important document with the utmost caution and con 
sideration, and adopted the doctrines as therein set forth, 
by "no means upon trifling or superficial grounds, but after 
the most careful and diligent study of the word of truth ; 
and that, therefore, every Lutheran should reflect very 
seriously before he prefers against this our Mother symbol 
so grave a charge as that of error. 

The Definite Platform asserts that the whole sacra 
mental doctrine of the Augsburg Confession is perverted, 
not in regard of the number of Sacraments, in antithesis 
to the number of Sacraments in the Roman Church, but 
in regard of the importance which the Augsburg Confes 
sion ascribes to the two sacraments. 

Here the Augsburg Confession and the Definite Plat 
form are indeed very far apart. We may state that the 
great difference between the two appears very prominently 
at first sight. The Lutheran doctrine maintains that the 
sacraments have an intrinsic value. The Definite Plat 
form seems to regard them as mere signs which may have 
a tendency to promote piety. The Lutheran Church 
always regarded her teachings on this question as the 
Shibboleth of the Lutheran Church, as her peculiar sig 
nature. The Definite Platform regards this very point 
for which the true adherents of the Lutheran Church, 
from Luther down to the present day, have fought with 
the weapons of the word of God as the blemish of the 
Lutheran doctrine. The Augsburg Confession, ascribing 



36 A PLEA FOR 

the highest value to the sacraments, treats the sacra 
mental doctrine as one of superior consideration. The 
Definite Platform, ascribing less value to the sacraments, 
must regard this whole question as being of secondary im 
portance. 

"We may well ask, what is the doctrine of the Definite 
Platform on the Sacraments? The answer is, that the 
Definite Platform regards them as mere signs, by which 
a man professes, that he believes in Christ, and by which 
his edification may be improved, provided he is in the 
right state of a pious mind. 

What is the Lutheran doctrine? She teaches that God 
makes, by his almighty power, the two sacraments, his own 
institutions on earth, means to convey grace to those who 
are brought in contact with his kingdom on earth ; he is 
able, in his wonderful wisdom and power, to do great 
things by seemingly small means, and he is in his ways 
not at all bound to our capacity of understanding, but we 
are bound to believe in his word without doubt and with 
out skeptical criticism. He is able to accomplish by the 
Holy Baptism, performed in the mysterious name of the 
ever-adored Trinity, a work of regeneration in the heart 
of the little child.* And Christ, the God-man, is able to 

* The expression used in the Augsburg Confession, Art. 2, is, regene 
rated by Baptism and the Holy Ghost, (v. John iii. 5.) This doctrine, 
however, is not to be understood as if the new creation was fully com 
pleted by new generation. It is complete in as far as a live seed is com 
plete in itself. This does, by no means, exclude subsequent development 
brought about by favourable internal and external influences. It is 
the clear doctrine of the Gospel that regeneration is brought about by 
holy Baptism, St. John iii. 5 ; Rom. vi. 3, 4 ; Gal. iii. 26, 27 ; Eph. v. 
25, sgg; Tit. iii. 5; 1 St. Pet. iii. 21. Those passages of the New Tes 
tament where it seems that the Holy Ghost was given before or after 
Baptism are the very proof for our doctrine. In addition to the extraor 
dinary gifts of the Spirit, (Acts x. 47; viii. 15-17,) Baptism was re- 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 37 

make us poor earthly creatures partakers of his celestial 
nature (2 Pet. i. 4,) in the most solemn rite of his Church, 
which is, therefore, communion between Christ and man 
in the fullest manner possible on earth. 

The Lutheran Church certainly regards the sacraments 
as mysteries. As such the primitive Church regarded 
them. She had, so to speak, in the whole a deeper feel 
ing that the Church on earth is a supernatural structure, 
a world from on high in the midst of this world below, 
than we have. We may not be inclined to deny this 
view of the Church, still we draw the demarkation line 
for the exclusion of the supernatural influence rather in 
an optional way. 

We are at every point of the surface of the Church ter 
ritory surrounded by supernatural mysteries. A super 
natural mystery is the Holy Trinity, three persons in one 
God, the incarnation of God, the dwelling of Almighty 
God in the "form of a servant," the communion of a di 
vine nature with man s nature in one person, the miracu 
lous generation, the whole life and death of this person, 
and his resurrection and reappearance in the shape of man , 
the regeneration of man, which is a new life planted in a 
soul already living and united with it, though entirely 
changing it, yea, a dwelling of God himself in man ; all 
these things and a thousand others are undeniable mys 
teries. Still no true Christian denies them. He will 
stand by them because they stand by the Bible. Should 

garded as necessary. But the Gospel and the Augsburg Confession no 
where teach that faith in Christ is unnecessary on the part of a baptized 
individual, or that we do not want a daily renewal of the baptismal 
covenant by repentance and prayer. The life seed may lay apparently 
dead for a long time 4 until at last the blessed time of a "revival" will 
come. 

4 



38 A PLEA FOR 

there be no Bible ground at all for regarding the sacramental 
institutions of Christ as divine, supernatural mysteries, 
which certainly means something more than mere signs? 
Destroy it not ; for a blessing is in it, Isa. Ixv. 8. 

Those who oppose the doctrine of an intrinsic value of 
the sacraments, must necessarily regard them as mere 
signs, or as certain forms and ceremonies, whose perform 
ance is obligatory upon Christians, because therewith we 
publicly profess our faith in Christ, and strengthen by 
our own action, our communion with him. The Definite 
Platform says : (p. 38.) " The design of the Holy Supper is 
to show forth the Lord s death, to profess the name of 
the Redeemer before the world, to confirm the previous 
faith of the communicant, to bring him into closest com 
munion with his blessed Saviour, and to secure his special 
spiritual blessings." It is easy to see, that all these be 
nefits may as well be derived from any other religious ex 
ercise. But why does the Definite Platform finish that 
sentence with the words, "but not to bestow forgiveness 
for sins upon the unre generate?" Does the Augsburg 
Confession in any way teach any such doctrine ? Or does 
any exposition of our Lutheran faith? 

By regarding the sacraments as merely symbolical and 
representative acts which may have a tendency to improve 
the communion between Christ and the believer, the reli 
gion of the New Testament is apparently placed on the 
same standing with the Old Testament covenant. In the 
Old Testament we find ceremonies, forms and types, which 
foreshadow the things which were to come. But with 
Christ the types were abolished. With him, every thing is 
a reality ; he did not come to establish any thing that should 
not, in itself, be an essential. In this, we see one of the 
great excellencies, by whk;h the glory of the new liabita- 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 89 

tion of God on earth, the New Testament, surpasses that 
of the temporary tabernacle of the Old. 

To us it seems very improbable, that Christ should ever 
have instituted his two sacraments as mere forms. We 
may even say, that Christ might have chosen something 
more original, if he intended to make his disciples known 
by these signs of profession. For the sign of Baptism 
was used before Christ by John the Baptist ; and even the 
Lord s Supper seems to stand in some external relation to 
a certain usage, sacred to the Jewish families of old. We 
are far from saying, that the sacraments are no signs. 
The Augsburg Confession itself calls them signs by which 
we may externally know the Christian. (Art. 13.) But 
at the same time, the Augsburg Confession ascribes to the 
sacraments a higher value by virtue of the institution of 
Christ. We know, that John the Baptist preached bap 
tism and repentance. Should the baptism ordered by Christ, 
and administered in the name of the Holy Trinity, possess 
no greater efficacy? 

We, for our part, should certainly not only lay no stress 
at all upon Infant Baptism, but we would protest against 
it, if we could convince ourselves that the dedicatory sa 
crament was a mere sign. For we are fully persuaded, 
that the professional act would be a great deal more edi- 
ficatory, being performed on an older person than a child. 
The child would not lose in the least by not being bap 
tized ; i. e., by not going through a mere, and as far as the 
child is concerned, unintelligible ceremony, for it might 
be under Christian influence, and the professional act. per 
formed in later years, would, without doubt, be much more 
impressive. 

Of course,the main stress in the decision of the whole sa 
cramental question must be laid on the ivords of Christ, 



40 A PLEA FOR 

touching the sacraments. We need not repeat them here. 
To say the least, the Lutheran doctrine is exegetically well 
founded upon them. It is a strange thing, that those same 
men who so decidedly speak of our Christian Sabbath as a 
"divine institution," for which they have no word of 
Christ, seem so anxious to interpret in the most shallow 
manner the very words of Christ, wherewith he instituted 
his sacraments. We cannot suppose our Saviour saying 
one thing, whilst meaning another. Thus, for instance, 
in saying, I am the way, the vine, the door, he does not 
mean to say, I represent the way, &c. He is these things 
personally and really. So, also, when he says to his dis 
ciples, this is my body, this is my blood. So much for the 
figurative interpretation of Christ s words upon which the 
Definite Platform lays so much stress. Our understand 
ing of them may be " contradicted by the clear and indis 
putable testimony of our senses." (Definite Platform, p. 
89.) The same might be said in regard to the doctrine 
of the Trinity, which the authors of the Definite Platform 
do maintain. 

The words of the Apostles on the same topic, by no 
means favour the merely symbolical view of the sacra 
ments. It is a well known fact, that even Calvin, this great 
master in exegesis, would, just on account of the exegeti- 
cal difficulties which stood in his way, not coincide with 
those who regarded the sacraments as mere signs, though 
he was in other respects more inclined in this direction. 

Let this suffice on this momentous question. May we 
feel that the authors of the Augsburg Confession had most 
urgent reasons for not coming to the conclusion, that Christ s 
sacramental ordinances were nothing but mere signs, with 
out any intrinsic value. We should not be willing to give 
up Luther s deep theological insight against the reasoning 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 41 

of a Zwinglius, with whom, at least in this respect, the ra 
tionalists coincide, who have of late attacked with one 
stroke both God s word and Luther s doctrine. The au 
thors of the Definite Platform in saying, (p. 40) that "the 
great mass of the whole Lutheran Church, before the year 
1817, had rejected the doctrine of the real presence," - 
know very well, that this was the very period in which the 
"great mass of the whole Lutheran Church 7 was more 
than at any other time, infected with rationalism, which 
has done unspeakable injury to theology, as well as to 
practical piety. 

Surrendering our Lutheran ground in the sacramental 
doctrine, we have thrown overboard, indeed, her most pe 
culiar feature, by which, more than by any thing else, we 
differ from other churches, and have an originality of our 
own. 

It is of comparatively recent date, that such innovations 
and neologies have been introduced into the American 
Lutheran Church. Yet, in the times of the revered father, 
H. M. Muhlenberg, D. D., the candidates for the Lutheran 
ministry were bound to teach according to the unaltered 
Augsburg Confession, as the Rev. S. S. Schmucker, D. D., 
tells us in his The American Lutheran Church, 1851, p. 
171. 

It is a fact, that other denominations do not teach in 
this respect as we do. But why should we accommodate 
ourselves to their views? There is not the least doubt, 
that the theological authorities for the Lutheran view of 
the sacraments are, as far as the acuteness and scientific 
abilities in general are concerned, perfectly equal to those 
who oppose it. Certainly the last thing Lutherans ought 
to propose should be, to change at once the sacramental 
doctrine of our Augsburg Confession. The Episcopalians 

4* 



42 A PLEA FOR 

maintain their episcopal views in spite of all Christendom, 
besides themselves: so do other denominations. They are 
right in doing so. It might be expected that thousands 
would join them, if they only would change colours in this 
or that respect. But it stands to reason, that their true in 
terest is, to preserve their own original character. There is 
a great difference of views amongst the Episcopalians, just 
in regard to the sacraments, and many of the Episcopa 
lians are, in this respect, more inclined to the Lutheran 
view, than to the Zwinglian. We have not heard that, 
on this account, any of them propose to change their old 
confessions and rituals. 

In bringing our remarks to a conclusion we may be al 
lowed to state that we shall feel perfectly satisfied if our 
endeavour to defend the doctrinal position taken by the 
framers of the Augsburg Confession has, at least, proved 
that they were well enough supported by the Gospel in 
their views, that they acted considerately and carefully 
in all their teachings, and that the position of those who 
charge the Augsburg Confession with errors is by no 
means so strong and so well-founded as to admit of no ob 
jections. We have addressed ourselves in this short Plea 
neither to the prejudices nor to the passions of the many 
who either praise the relics of old at the expense of all 
the good the present time has, or sometimes are so per 
fectly carried away by the exploits of the present genera 
tion that they have not even a feeling of veneration for 
the greatness of those who, in former centuries, have laid 
the foundation as the workmen of God to build his temple 
on earth, and on whose shoulders we stand. 

We are very far from charging the authors of the De 
finite Platform with this latter fault. Still, we think that 
they have in too rash a manner come to the conclusion 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 43 

that they are right and that the Augsburg Confession is 
wrong, and that the time to change the confessional 
standard of our Church has arrived. We may indulge 
the hope not to have treated them unfairly or unfriendly. 
It will do no harm to go once more over the disputed 
ground, and to ponder with a prayerful and searching 
spirit once more over all the questions bearing upon our 
Church doctrine, before we would propose to proclaim pub 
licly our partial apostacy from the faith of Luther and 
from the Augsburg Confession. It may seem honest but 
it is nevertheless unbecoming and unwise to attack our 
own standard which we ought rather to defend. We shall 
at least, by undertaking a change of our Church confes 
sion expose ourselves to the suspicion that we either re 
gard our own views as above all doubt, and that we ven 
ture to master Luther and Melanchthon, or that we are 
influenced by a spirit foreign to our Church, and that the 
views of other Churches and confessions have gained 
ground in our own mind against the teachings of our own 
Mother Church. 

This latter point deserves unprejudiced consideration. 
We raise it not to bring vituperation upon those amongst 
us who are imbued with doctrinal views quite adverse to 
the original Lutheran doctrine. The circumstances under 
which our Church was built up in this country are to 
blame if there be anything to blame. The history of our 
Church, in this respect, has been very unfortunate. Soon 
after the organization of our Lutheran Zion on a solid 
basis, in the times of Rev. Father H. M. Muhlenberg, D. 
D., very deplorable influences combined to alienate the 
members of the Lutheran Church from the original and 
peculiar teachings of their own confession. From Ger 
many an influx of rationalistic tendencies and views pre- 



44 A PLEA FOR 

vailed, and the German theological literature of the latter 
part of the last and of the beginning of the present cen 
tury could but destroy, not only faith in our Church 
doctrine, but, at the same time, and, in the same degree, 
the faith in the inspired word of God. Our own Church, 
in this country, was then without the necessary institu 
tions for a regular education of a ministry to advance her 
interests and to defend her cause and her doctrines. 
Many of our ministers were obliged to receive their men 
tal and theological education by the instructions given in 
literary institutions of other denominations. Here, of 
course, they could not expect to hear the cause of our 
German reformers and of their doctrines advocated. 
Perhaps we may, in reference to this, be permitted to use 
the phrase that, "the talk was all on one side." Cer 
tainly the consequences of this state of things were not 
favourable for our Church. This course of training was 
not suited to make our ministry feel at home in their 
Lutheran Confession. On the other hand we know that 
a great many most worthy and diligent men in our mi 
nistry were not so situated, that they could enjoy the 
benefits of a solid literary and theological education. 
The efforts of those men who exerted themselves in estab 
lishing seminaries and other institutes of learning for our 
Lutheran Church, and who have, by the grace of God, 
met with such signal success, must be kept in perpetual 
and grateful remembrance. 

But it is easy to perceive that under those unfavour 
able circumstances, and labouring against such a strong 
outward pressure, our Lutheran home became rather un 
comfortable for many of its own children, and they thought 
it no harm to take out a pillar at this place, to raise a 
partition wall at another place, to invite strangers into the 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 45 

family circle, and to suit the old home to their conveni- 
ency. With one word, the Lutheran Church has not been 
true enough to her own genius. We have done away with 
the peculiar doctrines, with our old forms of worship 
and with the old Lutheran Church usages. However well 
meant all this may have been, it weakened us internally, 
it made us lose our own individual Church character, and 
it exposed us to the ridicule of others who regarded the 
Lutheran Church rather in the light of "a dissolving 
view " whose atoms were to be consubstantiated with other 
Churches. But we trust they will be mistaken. The 
Lutheran Church has a mission to the world : it is a mis 
sion more of the spirit than of the body. Her doctrines 
are the last things of which she ought to think little. 

We are sorry to see that it is just the Augsburg Con 
fession which has been the object of attack on account of 
the presupposed errors contained in her. The Augsburg 
Confession is the mother symbol of our Church: it has 
always enjoyed a well merited preference amongst all the 
symbolical books of the Lutheran Church. 

It is free from those scholastic subtleties and from that 
condemnatory spirit which has often exposed some of our 
symbolical books to rather a condemnatory treatment. 
The Augsburg Confession entirely abstains from all radi 
cal tendencies and breathes such a liberal spirit in all 
matters not regulated by an especial dictate of the gospel, 
that, just on this account, no book of similar character 
can likely be compared with her. Her history, the his 
tory of her genesis is so closely connected with the his 
tory of the whole Church and the World, that we cannot 
look upon this document without feelings of emotion and 
veneration. In defending it in its unaltered condition 
we cannot expose ourselves to the objection of making 



46 A PLEA FOR 

human laws and traditions a substitute for the gospel, or 
of laying burdens upon the consciences of men against 
the clear will of our only master, Jesus Christ. The 
Augsburg Confession binds us to the gospel as to the 
word of God. In this very point lies her strength. 
Justly would other Churches charge us with a great want 
of propriety and pious feeling if we, even by a public act, 
would change the character of this Palladium not only of 
the Lutheran, but of the whole Protestant Evangelical 
Church. 

Some say that the peculiar doctrines of the Lutheran 
church stand in the way of her greater extension, and ex 
pose us to censure from foreign quarters. Is not this the 
case with the Episcopalians and with others? Nothing 
stands in our way, but that other Churches and the world in 
general do not know how excellent our doctrines are, and 
over what a treasure of deep, solid, comforting Bible truth 
our Church is set to watch. The misrepresentations of 
the Definite Platform are, by no means, calculated to en 
lighten the public at large in regard to the Lutheran 
Church doctrine, but they may strengthen the unfounded 
prejudices entertained against them by many, and parti 
cularly by those lacking in theological and religious 
knowledge. Even many of us know more about the pe 
culiarities of other Churches, and even practise them, than 
we know and practise of our own. Let us use the most 
stringent caution against outward influences whatever be 
nefits they may seem to offer. Timeo Danaos et dona 
ferentes. Not every present is a real gift. Let us study 
our own Church, her history, her doctrines, her character, 
more and better. We have every right to be proud of 
her, and need not at all tell the world that we are now 



THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION. 47 

going to wash her, and to clean her, and to dress her up 
after a new fashion.* 

There can be no doubt that the propositions of the 
Definite Platform, if carried out, will not give rest and 
peace to our Lutheran Church, but that they will produce 
contention and strife. Let those who raised this question 
reflect once more, and perhaps the Spirit of God will teach 
them that their beginning was not a good one, not sub 
servient to the real wants of the Lutheran Church. 

May they, and all others, into whose hands this ad 
dress may fall, be deeply impressed with the conviction 
that our intention in thus speaking openly and candidly, 
has not been to wound, but to heal, not to attack, but to 
defend. To this sincere purpose, for which stronger 
hands might hare been better suited, we will, with an 
earnest prayer for God s blessing upon our Lutheran 
Zion, and upon all his kingdom on earth, dedicate this 
" Plea for the Augsburg Confession. 1 

* It seems to us that this fault-finding with the Augsb. Conf. has of 
late become with some a sort of mania, and that those very men, who are 
now engaged in exposing those supposed errors, formerly entertained 
quite different views, for a proof of which assertion we refer the reader 
to the Rev. Professor S. S. Schmucker, D. D. s article on Confession, in 
his Popular Theology, 1834, p. 258, where the Doctor defends the ground 
taken by our Reformers in this question. 



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Bulletin. 

Afraja is destined to a wide and enduring popularity, and it will take a distinguished place among 
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PROCTOR S HISTORY OF THE CRUScVDES. 
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HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES, 

THEIR RISE, PROGRESS, AND RESULTS. By MAJOR PROCTOB, of the 
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CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER I. THE FIRST CRUSADE. Causes of the Crnsades Preaching 01 tht 
First Crusade Peter the Hermit The Crusade nndertaken by the Peop^ 
The Crusade undertaken by the Kings and Nobles The First Crusaders at 
Constantinople The Siege of Nice Defeat of the Turks Seizure of Edessa 
Siege and Capture of Antioch by the Crusaders Defence of Antioch by the 
Crusaders Siege and Capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders. 

CHAPTER II. THE SECOND CRUSADE. State of the Latin Fhigdom Origin 
of the Orders of Religious Chivalry Fall of Edessa Preaching of the Second 
Crusade Louis VII. and Conrad III. in Palestine. 

CHAPTER III. THE THIRD CRUSADE. The Rise of Saladin Battle of Tibe 
rias, and Fall of Jerusalem The Germans undertake the Crusade- -Richard 
Coeur de Lion in Palestine. 

CHAPTER IV. THE FOURTH CRUSADE. The French, Germans, and Italians 
unite in the Crusade Affairs of the Eastern Empire Expedition agaiufet Con 
stantinople Second Siege of Constantinople. 

CHAPTER V. THE LAST FOUR CRUSADES. History of the Latin Emvt e of 
the East The Fifth Crusade The Sixth Crusade The Seventh Crusade- -The 
Eighth Crusade. 

CHAPTER VI. CONSEQUENCES OP THE CRUSADES. 



At the present time, when a misunderstanding concerning the Holy Places at 
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Mann, William Julius 
806$ A plea for the Augsburg 
M2 Confession