Full Transcript for the Henkel manuscript: Woodstock Virginia, January 26, 1829
Compiled by: Ryan Bowen April 2011
Woodstock, Jan. 26th 1828
This day the elders of the four congregations of the Lutheran Church at Woodstock, Lions, Friedens, and the church at Strasburg, in obedience to a call from the Rev. Nicolaus Schmucker, assembled to unite in divine worship and to deliberate, how to promote the cause of Christ and to adopt resolutions for the better Government and discipline of their Chruch.
The Service was opened by singing a hymn; and an appropriate prayer by the Revd. N. Schmucker, a treatise by the deceased Professor Spangenberg on the destruction of Jerusalem was then read aloud, to show, in what manner God Punishes a dereliction of our most sacred duties.
The Revd. N. Schmucker then delivered a discourse, which is annexed to these proceedings marked No. 1.
The assembled elders were hereupon advised to consider and deliberate on several points contained in his address, to adopt resolutions concerning them, and to elect a president and secretary whereupon
Jacob Ott was elected president, and Fredr. Wm. Maurer Secretary.
The seats being taken, the assembly was interrogated by the president, whether the congregations acknowledge the Rev. N. Schmucker as their minister? which was unanimously answered in the affirmative.
(Note on the side, "The within manuscript was not published")
The question being put, whether every member of the assembly was not convinced, that many abuses had crept into the exercise of divine worship, and the very doctrine itself, which ought to be expelled and remedied? the answer was unanimously: Aye!
The parents were then exhorted, to bestow more care on the education of youth, and themselves to set a good example by an irreproachable life.
Concerning which the elders pledge themselves to fulfill their duties as much as in them lies.
The elders and members of the Church were particularly cautioned, to be vigilant that no person, living in open Sin and vice be admitted to the Lord's Supper.
This subject, the fundamental pillar of our doctrine and the discipline of our church, was discussed with all due attention: on motion of our brother Henry Klein it was resolved: That the names of the communicants before partaking of the Lord's Supper should be publicly read, in order that every one might know, who is about to partake of the Sacrament.
Concerning itinerant ministers, and to prevent the introduction of false doctrines or other abuses, it was resolved: That no one shall be permitted to preach in our churches, unless he can produce satisfactory credentials and recommenda-
tions from a protestant Synod.
In relation to the education of youth it was resolved, to adopt and adhere to the plan of the Revd. N. Schmucker, as explained in his previous address; to the observance of which the parents present pledge themselves.
Resolved: That the minutes of the present meeting be printed, and, in order to bring the tenets of our Creed within the knowledge of every member of our church, that there be annexed to them the 21 Articles of the Augsburg Confession. For which purpose a subscription was opened and $.50 subscribed. The Revd. N. Schmucker was requested, to lay the subscription before the Congregations of the Lions, Friedens, and Strasburg Churches, to enable the members of them as well as of other denominations to subscribe to this publication. In ease a sufficient sum should be subscribed, it was further resolved, to have these minutes printed also in the English language. The subscribers names are to be prefixed to the work and brother Jacob Hahn was commissioned, to attend to the printing.
The Church Council was then concluded and the assembly, after an exhortation and prayer from the Revd N. Schmucker, and the singing of a hymn, dismissed.
In fidem Copiae
Fred: Wm Maurer
Discourse of the Revd N. Schmucker
Beloved Brethren and Sisters!
Twenty years have now past away since I first undertook with divine assistance to proclaim to you, as far as my weak powers would permit, the Gospel of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and I hope and flatter myself, that in this long period of time I have not altogether toiled in vain in the vineyard of the Lord.
As your ordained teacher I endeavored with all my might, in obedience to the commands of the Lord, to gather into the fold the dispersed flock, and I can say, I found and united them. On this account my office was difficult and my responsibility great, as the Prophet Ezekiel says in Ch: 33.v.7-8 and Ch. 3.v.18. and Acts Ch. 20.v.28.
But especially difficult I find the execution of my duties in endeavoring to prevent abuses from mixing in the pure tenets of our religion; for I am firmly convinced, that our doctrine has lost much of its primitive purity, and that the blessed Gospel of Jesus Christ, for whose sake He, the founder, suffered and died, and thousands, nay millions of martyrs laid down their lives, is perverted and undermined through various Sects. Innovations are introduced, of which our forefathers were ignorant,
And what will be the consequence? Nothing else but the confusion of Babel must ensue, in which many Souls may be brought from their good endeavors, and seduced into the path to destruction. We are therefore imperiously called upon, to resist this increasing evil, and to raise up a breast work, lest we, who confess the Lutheran doctrine are also overwhelmed in the general ruin. I request therefore dear Brethren and Sisters! your aid and assistance, to cooperate with me in expelling these abuses, and removing false doctrines. Guided by this wish and intent on such a purpose, fathers and members of our Church, I have called you together, to join with me in deliberation, to devise means, how we may best execute our sacred duties, preserve pure and unpolluted the true tenets of our Creed, and to recall all that have strayed, upon the path of Virtue.
For be it from us though, to give offense to any person, or to interfere with the tenets and doctrines of other denominations, No! let our only aim be, to consider the welfare of our Souls—an endeavor, to which we invoke the blessing of our Allmighty Father.
In order to ascertain, in what manners this is to be effected, I, your teacher and pastor, find it necessary, to elucidate several points, and to invite your attention to the following duties.
It is all important, to remind parents of the duties towards their Children; the Evangelist Luke says in the 16.C.2.V. “Give
an account of thy stewardship.” This certainly is the first demand of the Judge of the world, and many--nay most parents will then find it difficult to say: I have done, what duty, reason and the Gospel of Jesus exacted of me. Few will be able to say: I have reared my Children in the fear of the Lord, I have sent them carefully to School and Church; but particularly few will be able to say: I had my children instructed in the truths of religion, and brought them to the table of the Lord. Parents, who neglect this important duty, will incurr great responsibility, and their children on that day will rise up against them, and say, it was not our fault, that we are found wanting in those good doctrines.
In the Proverb of Solomon we read: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” On the education of children depends their future weal or woe, and I now solemnly charge you, to bear in mind, that “God shall bring every work into judgment with every secret thing whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Eccleasiast: Ch.12.v.4.II. Corinth: C.5.v.10. Acts C.17v.31. and Romans C.14v.10.
How will you stand in judgement, and what, task, will be the situation of parents, who cannot answer for themselves far less for their children. O! impress it deep in your minds, ye parents, that the neglected welfare of your children will be on your heads! O! how many
will have to shrink back, and say: Lord! I have done wrong!
Ye, that slumber, awake to consider, how terrible and awful will be the presence of the Lord to him, who has not fulfilled his commands. I, your pastor, therefore this day call heaven and earth to witness, while I forewarn you, to stand and consider, how you will be able, to appear on the great day of judgment before that God, before whose awfull presence six hundred thousand people trembled in the desert, and whose countenance and address they endeavored to shun. Exod. C.20v.18.19. If heaven and earth cannot move you, to fulfill your duties towards your children, o! then let the blood of our Saviour, that flowed on Golgotha stimulate you to it; this dear blood calls yet for mercy towards you and your children. O! let these entreaties of our Mediator and Redeemer not be in vain, as in Luke C.13.v.8.9. where you read: “Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it, and if it bear fruit, well, and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” Don’t tarry, till it is said: “cut down these parents, so unmindful of the Lord, why cumber they the ground?” Let us therefore be up and doing, to regain, what has been lost, let us adhere to the discipline of our forefathers and our ancient church elders, but more especially let us direct
proper care and attention to our Schools, that our Children may be brought up in the fear of the Lord, and we may pave for them the way, that leads to eternal happiness.
This is the principle request, I have to make of you, but the manner, in which it may best be executed, I intend to explain and consider with you more fully hereafter.
You parent must principally exhort, to exhibit by an irreproachable life a good example to your children, teach them, to pray to the Lord, bow down with them every morning and evening in humble and earnest supplication, and let not pride or worldly matters hinder you in this sacred duty, which is alas! The case with too many—instruct your children in the commandments of the Gospel of Jesus, for they alone can render them happy here and in the life eternal.
But in particular let the words, contained in Eph: C.6v.4. be your guide: “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The Apostle means hereby ye parents, give your children no incitement to Sin, be neither Swearers, liars, defrauders, nor misers, be neither fornicators, adulterers, nor drunkards, be neither covetors, wrathfull, revengefull, spitefull nor uncharitable to the poor, neither be negligent in hearing the Gospel preached nor esteeme lightly by the means of grace; in
short it means, that ye be not transgressors of the commandments of the Lord.
Ye parents! strive to implant in the tender hearts of your children the Counterpart of these vices, so, that they may pronounce the name of the Lord with reverence, and bow their knees before the name of Jesus, as you read in Phil: C.2.v.10. Inculcate deep into the minds of your children, never to deviate from truth, teach them to lead a pious upright life, bring them up in chastity and temperance and especially prepare their young hearts to feel compassion for the misfortunes of others and to exercise charity towards their poor fellow creatures. Instruct them diligently in the Catechism, that they may acquire a knowledge of the Deity and the divine will; in short teach them, that “Godliness is profitable unto all things.” Timoth. C.4.v.8. But principally let it be your aim, to confirm your instruction and the education of your children by a good example, in leading yourself a godly life; banish all discord and guard from among you, let father and mother be but One heart, One Soul, lest one destroy again, what the other has been building, and follow up the words contained in I. Timoth. C.2.v.8. Ephes. C.5.v.22-27.
I must most strenuously urge and advise you parents and members of the church, never to neglect private prayer; assemble
your families every morning and every evening, and engage with them, before and after your daily labor in the exercise of prayer and worship, let your prayer from the hear; as good as your knowledge will permit, with or without a prayer-book, it matters not, for God looks only upon the heart. St. John C.4.v.23.
The same official duty, that impelled me, to exhort the parents, urges me now, to address you, children, a few admonitory words.
"Honor thy father and they mother": this is one of the most important commandments of Religion. Much is contained in these few words, and more, than in your imperfect knowledge you are aware of. I will therefore in a few words explain to you the meaning of them, to enable you, to comprehend the good, by which we understand reward, and the evil, which means punishment.
The first duty of a child is: obedience towards the parents, and the second: love. In Eccesiasticus you read Ch.3.v.3. "Whoso honoreth his father, maketh an atonement for his sins: And he that honoreth his mother is as one, that layeth up treasure. Whoso honoreth his father, shall have joy of his own children, and when maketh his prayer, he shall be heard. Honor thy father and mother both in word and deed, that a blessing may come upon thee
from them. For the blessing of the father establisheth the houses of children, but the curse of the mother rooteth out foundations. Glory not in the dishonor of they father for thy fathers dishonor is no glory unto thee; and a mother in dishonor is a reproach to the children. Help thy father in his age, and if his understanding fail, have patience with him for the relieving of thy father shall not be forgotten, and in the day of thy affliction it shall be remembered: Ephes. C.6.v.2. “Honor thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise.” Exod. C.21.v.15.-17. “And he that curseth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” It is even commanded in Deuteron: Ch. 21.v.18-21. to stone such a child with stones, “that he die.” In Deuteron: C. 27.v.16 we read further: “Cursed be he, that setteth light by his father or his mother.” Solomon says in his Proverbs C.19.v.26. “He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a Son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach.” and in Chap.20.v.20 “Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.” In C.30.v.17. Solomon says: “The eye, that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the Ravens of the Valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” This means such children shall not die a righteous death, which is
proved by Ham, the Son of Noah, and Absalom, the Son of David.
But good and pious children will enjoy the blessings of God, like Shemm, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Tobias and others.
This short admonition I hope will sufficiently teach you your duties towards your parents. Treasure it up carefully in your young hearts, obey your parents, walk in the fear of the Lord, and fulfill diligently his holy commandments. The road to eternal happiness or misery is before you, and upon your choice depends your eternal welfare or ruin; the fullfillment of your duties will meet its best reward at the gates of eternity, and there will you reap the fruits of your conduct towards your parents.
Here especially you, fathers and elders of our church I request, to pray to the Lord for strength and support, to enable you, to fullfill those duties, I have just now enforced, and to exhibit conjointly with me a good example to our congregations: bear allways in mind, that the same duties and responsibility towards the congregation is imposed on you, as on parents towards their children; for I am of opinion, that the increasing evil in the Church originates chiefly from an unchristian conduct of the minister and church-council; let us therefore watch over the congregations, whom God has entrusted to our care, let us restore
the old and pure discipline of the church, and learn therefrom to lead an exemplary life before God, our congregations and the world.
Let us watch therefore with care over every member of our congregation, let us bestow our carefull attention to the management of our public Schools, that, as I mentioned above, our children may be early instructed in the word of God, and obtain a knowledge of the Christian religion.
But particular care and attention is necessary not to admit any one to the Lord’s Supper, who is openly given to one or other of, the abovementioned vices, who does not show repentance and prayers to God for forgiveness of his Sins, lest his blood be demanded from our hands.
Banish all those that spread false doctrines from your temples, admit no one who is disqualified and unworthy, to this holy place, lest doubts may arise in our congregations, and instead of promoting the Kingdom of heaven, the Kingdom of Satan increase.
Upon you, my dear and much loved fellow laborers, who were give me by God and my fellowmen, as supporters in the duties of my office, and to bear with me a joint responsibility in the care over our congregations, upon you I enjoin it as one of your most sacred duties, to lent your aid in the education and instruction of youth; in order to which after the usual service on Sundays call them to
the churches, sing a hymn with them, read to them one or more chapters from the bible, instruct them in the Catechism, and conclude the exercises with prayer; this alone will fullfill our expectations, and surely heaven’s best blessing will attend it.
In order to be able, to execute these several duties under the blessing of God, it is necessary that we establish in our congregations certain rules, and adopt resolutions, by which we must be guided in our endeavors to walk united in the way of godliness, and to preserve and protect the tenets of our doctrine, which we have promised at our confirmation, to adhere to and maintain unto death itself.
In relation thereto the following indispensable points present themselves:
1. Our youth is to be early and properly instructed in the truths of religion. But can this be done by our present institutions and management? Never! I therefore advise you, parents, not to entrust your children carelessly to the care and instruction of every teacher, whom chance may throw in your way, but examine him first, or have him examined by competent judges, whether he has capacity, to guide the tender hearts of children the road to virtue; examine further, if he is himself possessed of religious principles, and if you find him such, then is he fit to fullfill his duties as a teacher: but alas!
do we not often meet, with pretended teachers in the present time, who themselves know scarcely how to write? how then is such an individual calculate, to instruct our children? Many of these pretended teachers are given to indolence, and resort to the instruction of youth, to while away their time, and indulge their indolent habits; nay! sometimes an unknown drunkard palms himself upon the unsuspecting parent as a teacher and what then have you to expect of such men? This is a very important question, but the answer is plain and obvious.
2. Heterodox preachers, or such as are not licensed, shall and must be excluded from among us, as the Apostle Paul say in 1.Thimoth.C.2.v.8-15 “I will therefore, that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manners also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold or pearls, or costly array; But which becometh women professing godliness with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness, with sobriety.”
3. Misguided persons, or such, as have become doubtfull and wavering in their faith ought to be induced, to turn from their backslidings to God and the way to heaven, but, if contrary to our expectations, our admonitions and endeavours should prove fruitless, and such a person should not return, nay, should even entirely apostatize, and join another Sect, he shall then be excluded from the communion with us, to avoid giving Scandal, untill he see his error, and return a repentant Sinner, in which case only he may be readmitted to the Lord’s Supper.
4. Such as wish to partake with us of the Lord’s Supper, must be sufficiently enlightened in the Christian religion, and confirmed in the doctrine of Luther, it is therefore indispensably necessary, that our youth be well informed in the 5 chief articles of our catechism; only after a preparatory instruction and confirmation the youth can be admitted to the Sacrament; for otherwise we are under the greatest responsibility.
5. Furthermore is it the duty of every Christian to frequent public worship, and not to neglect it without a lawful excuse; a person; who absents himself perhaps for a whole year from public worship and communion, excludes himself, and is unworthy, to enjoy with us the means of grace at the Lord’s Supper.
6. Sinners, such as Swearers, liars, deceivers, implacable persons, fornicators, adulterers, careless and immoral persons, are not to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper, unless they express repentance according to the statutes of our church, and confess their Sins; if they deceive us with a feigned repentance, no blame can attach to us, if they incur damnation, but they have mocked God, whom they cannot deceive. On us, the shepherds of our flocks, nest the all important duty, to watch, lest our temples be polluted, and let us bear in mind the words of our blessed Martin Luther: “Let us not make of our Churches sties for Swine.”
Let it then be our firm resolution, to endeavor, to preserve as much as possible and to the extent of our power, the primitive purity of our church. Let us jointly establish the rule once in every year to administer the Lord’s Supper in each congregation, whereby every member of our persuasion may obtain an opportunity of partaking of it divine of it twice or oftener, to strengthen and revive his faith. Whereto we implore the blessing and assistance of our heavenly father through his Son, Jesus Christ. Amen. Let us pray:
“Our Father, who are in heaven…”
Prefatory remarks, concerning the 21 Articles of the Augsburg Confession.
the Revd Geo: Schmucker, Lutheran
Minister in Hagerstown
To all members of the Evangelic Lutheran Church, and especially to the members of my Congregation.
With an eye single to your and your children’s eternal happiness I hereby present you the unaltered Augsburg confession. In it are contained the cardinal truths of the sacred Scriptures, which were collected and extracted therefrom through our immortal Luther under tears and ardent Supplications to God for wisdom and mercy, the those dark ages, when oppressed by distresses and persecutions, he had to struggle in the cause of truth against the derision and persecutions of powerful and inveterate enemies, who often endangered his life, because he withdrew himself in 1517 from the Roman Church, and revealed her dangerous errors and abuses to the world.
The circumstances, which led to this solemn Confession were briefly these: Emperor Charles the Vth proclaimed a diet to be held at Augsburg, to which he invited all the Princes and Grandees
of the whole Roman Empire, to examine, among other Subject, the doctrine of the immortal Luther and his adherents. The evangelic princes and grandees presented then, in presence of the whole diet and the numerous ambassadors from all the kingdoms of Europe on the 25 June 1530 to the Emperor this Confession, formed and drawn up by Melanchton, as theirs unanimously approved. Confession of faith, which was then read aloud by the two chancellors of the Elector of Saxony, Dr Pontanus and Dr Beyer, and is now called the Augsburg Confession. In this solemn manner manifested those noble pious men before the whole European Christendom their faith and the foundation of the hope, with which they were animated, and thus triumphed over their numerous adversaries. The regal Ambassadors hereupon had this Confessions translated in their various languages, and spread it with the assistance of the allguiding hand of Providence throughout all Europe. This Augsburg Confession now is the authentic confession of faith of the whole Evangelic Lutheran Church, which in the year 1532. at the conclusion of peace Ratisbon--more firmly in 1555. At the religious peace at Augsburg—and lastly and most solemnly in 1648. After the Westphalian peace at
Munster and Osnabrugg, was acknowledged and adopted by the Emperor and the whole german empire, who from that time on permitted its free promulgation.
It was deemed unnecessary to have the 7. last Articles of this confession printed as they related only to the abominable abuses of the Roman Chuch, which our forefathers have entirely resigned. Although these 21. Articles, which I hereby present you, do not form a perfect System of the whole christian doctrine, which the pious Compliers at that time did not intend, they contain nevertheless the principal doctrines of the holy Scriptures, which the pious Luther had freed from the rubbish of papal doctrine, and held up as an unobscured light, by which also all other protestant Sects, even the English, particularly in reference to the chief-truth, concerning the justification of a poor Sinner before God, have profited.
See! my dear friends, to this Confession our brethren in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, American, and other empires have hither to firmly and faithfully adhered, in this our forefathers have since the reformation found consolation in life, sickness and death, and we must follow the faith, which was left us as Christians. Through this Confession we
distinguish ourselves from other religious Sects, and every minister at his ordination, must obligate himself, to watch over its doctrine and to conform to it, in the instruction of the Souls, who are confided to his care.
This Confession is the happy Seal of the blessed Reformation of Luther, which had so small a beginning, and, under the overruling hand of Providence, has spread its benign influence so far, that it may now truly be called a wonder of the goodness of God. That the first followers of this doctrine appeared so undauntedly in Augsburg—that they were so firmly united, and could not be moved either by menaces or promises, to turn from the truth, as it is found in Jesus Christ, that the Emperor himself proceeded with so much lenity against that poor little flock—and that even the very enemies of truth had every where to promulgate this Confession, must surely be ascribed to him, who bears the hearts of men in his hand, and guides them like brooks of running water. To this providential protection we have also to thank the preservation of this Confession in its pure and unperverted state of this day. We may look upon this as an evidence that our Lord Jesus Christ yet acknowledges us as his Church. We can also produce many great men, who
Were thankfull to God for this Augsburg Confession, men of piety, who have lived in the church of Christ as bright luminaries, and who yet enlighten the world in their writings, such as Luther, Arndt, Spener, Franke, Rambach, Miller, Wolderdorf and hundred others, upon God showered a multitude of blessings. May our blessed Saviour acknowledge us furthermore, and protect us in truth during the present increasing wickedness of the world, and then the gates of hell shall not prevail against us.
As the pious authors of this Confession refer frequently to the Council at Nice, and make us of several expressions which are unintelligible to the illiterate, I will her explain them.
A Council means a Church Assembly, composed of ministers, delegated by all Congregations, who consider and regulate the tenets publicly to be preached in accordance with holy Scripture; and from a System for the external government and discipline of the church. Of the first church-council we read in Acts C.15.v.1.-29. A similar council was convened by the first chirstian emperor Constantine, in 325. in Nice, situated in Bythinia, Asia minor, at which nearly all the bishops of the then known Christendom were present, for the purpose of examining into the doctrine of Arious, which this man
began to promulgate. They then drew up a pious confession of faith, which runs nearly in the same words, as the 3. Articles of our catechism. To this Luther refers, and demonstrates therefrom, that our doctrine and that of the ancient faithfull church is one and the same, and consequently ours contains nothing new.
A heretic is according to Tit. C.3.v.10. a person, who holds a false doctrine which is contrary to true godliness, and by its nature leads to evil doings. I now, my dear brethren in faith! deliver to you this precious jewel of our church, which many of you have perhaps never seen, as it is only to be found in the large folio Bibles of Nuremberg, which but few in this country possess. Do not estimate the value of these few pages according to their number, but to their intrinsic worth, and let them be the means of unnumbered blessings in this and the world to come.
Hold firm aon the pure truth in these last days of the world, 1.Petr: C.4.v.7. when the prince of darkness threatens to overwhelm the old and the young in superstition and infidelity, 2.Petr: C.2.v.1. II.Thessal.C.2.v:1-11. and deludes the weak and ignorant, to forego our Lord Jesus, and hasten onward in the flowery path of
sensual pleasures and worldly pursuit. Be assured, that nothing heals the wounds of Sin so effectually, as the blood of Jesus, nothing can change our hearts, but the grace of jesus, and by no other means can we gain acceptance of God, but through the righteousness of Christ; this is the most essential point, all other emotions are only flowers. O! then my brethren, adhere firmly to Jesus, fly to his arms, and rejoice in his love! Let your hearts swell with gratitude to him for the truths, which you read here. But do not content yourself alone with reading them; let this divine jewel be our guide through life, to enliven our faith and love. Bow often you knees in earnest Supplication to God, hear the word of God proclaimed with a cordial desire after wisdom and grace; partake often of the Supper of your Lord Jesus for the purpose of increasing your obedience, and strengthening yourself in the struggles with the world, so that you may enrich yourself with spiritual experience, have joy in a godly life, and receive consolation, fortitude and hope in the hour of death. That the good and faithfull shepherd of souls may vouchsafe to you all this, is the wish of your spiritual teacher.
Jan: 16: 1806.
Evang: Luth. Minister in Hagerstown
Article of the Augsburg Confession
Of the Holy Trinity
Firstly, we teach and hold unanimously, according to the degree of the council of Nice, that there is one divine being which is called, and truly is God; and that there are three persons in this same one Divine Being, equally all powerful, equally eternal, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost; all three, one Divine Being, undivided, without end, of unmeasurable power, wisdom and goodness; one Creator and Upholder of all visibile and invisible things. And we understand by the word person, not a part, not a property, but what exists of itself. Therefore, we reject all the heresies against this article, as those of the Manachaei, Valentiniani, Ariani, Eunomiam.
Of original Sin.
Further, we teach, that after the fall of Adam, all men that are born, are conceived and born in Sin; that is, that they all, from their mother’s womb, are full of evil lusts and inclinations, and can have no true fear of God, nor true belief in him, by nature, and that this inborn
Sickness and original Sin, is truly Sin; and that it condemns all under the eternal wrath of God, who are born again through baptism and the Holy Ghost.
Of Christ’s incarnation, and man’s Redemption
We teach further, that the Son of God became man, was born of the pure Virgin Mary; and that the two natures, human and divine, thus indivisibly united, are one Christ, who is true God and man, was truly born, did suffer, was crucified, did die, and was buried, that he might become a Sacrifice, not for original Sin only, but likewise for all other Sin, reconciling the wrath of God. And that the same Christ descended into hell; on the third day arose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, there to reign eternally over all creatures; that he sanctifies, purifieth, strengtheneth and comforteth through the Holy Ghost, all who believe in him, and that he imparts to them life and all other gifts, and protects them against the devil and Sin. Likewise, that the same Lord Jesus Christ shall, in the last time, come to judge the living and the dead.
Of Justification, through Faith.
Further, we teach: that we cannot obtain forgiveness of Sin and righteousness before God, through our own merit, works or satisfaction; but that we obtain forgiveness of Sin, and are justified by grace, before God, for the Sake of Christ through faith, if we believe, that Christ has suffered for us, and that we obtain forgiveness of Sins, righteousness and eternal life, for his Sake; for this faith will God consider and acknowledge as righteousness, as St Paul says in the third and fourth Chapter of his epistle to the Romans.
Of the office of Preaching.
God has ordained and established the office of preaching; has given the gospel and Sacraments, through which as through means he gives the Holy Ghost, who works that faith in those who hear the Gospel, where and when he will; and this Gospel teaches, that we, through the merits of Christ, not through our own, have a gracious God, if we believe this.
Of Good Works.
We teach likewise, that this faith shall produce good fruits and good works, and
that man must do the good works which God commanded, for his sake, yet not to trust upon these works, as thereby meriting grace before God, since we receive forgiveness of Sin and justification through faith in Christ, as Christ himself says: “when ye have done all, you shall say we are unprofitable servants.”
Of the Christian Church
We teach likewise, that there allways must be and remain one holy Christian Church, which is the congregation of all believers with whom the Gospel is preached in purity, and where the holy Sacraments are kept according to the tenor of the gospel. For it is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian Church, that the preaching be pure, according to the true understanding of the gospel, and the Sacraments administered according to Divine Scripture; and it is not necessary for the true unity of the Christian Church, that the same ceremonies, as established by men, should be observed; as St Paul says, Eph.IV. “One body, one Spirit, as ye all are called to the same hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, on baptism.”
Of the Members of the Church
Likewise, we teach, that although properly speaking, the Christian Church is no other
than the congregation of all believers and Saints; yet in this life, many false Christians and hypocrites, as well as open Sinners, mingle with the pious, and thus the holy Sacraments remain efficacious, though the priest, who administers them, should not be pious, according to the words of Christ, Matth.XXIII.2.3. “The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat, all therefore that they bid you observe, that observe and do.”
Of Holy Baptism.
Of baptism, we teach, that it is necessary and that thereby grace is offered unto us; that we shall likewise baptize children, who through this baptism, are delivered up to God, and become acceptable unto him.
Of the Lord’s Supper.
Of the Lord’s Supper, we teach thus: that the body and blood of Christ, are there really present, and are given and administered under the external signs of bread and wine.
Of confession and absolution.
Of confession, we teach thus: that private absolution in the churches ought to be continued, and not entirely disregarded; although it may be unnecessary, in the confession, to mention all misdeeds and Sins, because this would be altogether impossible. Psalm XIX. “Who can understand his errors?
Of repentance, we teach: that those who have sinned after their baptism, may obtain forgiveness of their Sins at all times, if they truly repent; and that unto such, the Church absolution or readmittance into the Church, shall not be refused. And this is true and real repentance, if we have deep grief and sorrow on account of our Sins: and yet faith in the gospel, that Sin is forgiven and grace obtained through Christ, which faith brings again peace and comfort into the heart.--After that, there shall likewise follow a change of life, and leaving off from Sin, as these shall be the fruits of repentance.—Here we reject the doctrine of those who teach, that such as once have become pious, can fall no more.
Of the use of the Sacraments.
Of the use of the Sacraments, we teach: that the Sacraments have been established and ordained, not only for outward Signs, whereby Christians may be known, but that they shall be sings and testimonies of the divine will towards us, in order thereby to awake and strengthen the faith in us; wherefore they require faith, and are then used in a right manner when we receive them
in faith, and strengthen it thereby.
Of Church Government
Of church government, we teach: that no man shall instruct, preach, or administer the Sacraments in our Churches, without being properly called thereto.
Of Church Regulations.
Of Church regulations made by men, we teach, that it is proper, to keep those which may be kept without Sin, and serve to uphold peace and good order in the Church, as for instance, certain holy and festival days. Yet we allways give this advice and instruction, that the consciences of men ought not to be burdened with these things, as necessary unto salvation. Further we teach, that all institutions and traditions of men, made for the purpose of reconciling God, and meriting grace thereby, are against the Gospel and the doctrine of faith in Christ.
Of Civil Government.
Of civil government, we teach: that all magistrates in the world, and regular governments and laws are made and ordained by God, as good institutions, and that Christians may hold the offices of a magistrate prince, or judge, without sinning thereby; that they may wage just wars, defend their country, buy and sell, take an oath if requi
red, before a magistrate, possess property, be married. Hereby we reject the doctrine of those who teach that it is Christian perfection, actually to leave house and home, wife and children, and do more of the above mentioned things. We acknowledge this only to be true Christian perfection, to have true fear of God and faith in him. Since the Gospel doth not teach an outward and temporal, but an inward, eternal and spiritual justification and righteousness of the heart, and doth not overthrow civil government and policy, but willeth, that we shall keep up all these as institutions of God himself, and that in such states, Christian love and good works shall be performed by all, according to every man’s calling. Therefore, Christians shall be subject to their magistrates, and obedient in all things, which may be done without sin; but when the law of the magistrate cannot be observed without Sin, then we are to be more obedient to God than to men. Acts.IV.
Of the Judgement Day.
We likewise teach, that our Lord Jesus Christ shall come, on the last day, to judge and to awaken all the dead; to give eternal life an everlasting joy to all believers, but to condemn all impious men and devils unto endless punishment in hell.
Of Free Will.
Concerning free will, we teach, that man has in some measure a free will, in order to live outwardly honest, and to choose among those things, which he can comprehend by his reason, but that he is unable, without grace, assistance, and the working of the Holy Spirit, to become acceptable unto God, to fear him heartily, or to believe in him nor to cast out the inborn evil lusts of his heart; but that this is done through the Holy Ghost, which is given through the word of God; as St Paul Says, 1.Corint.II.14. “The natural man receiveth not.”
Of the Cause of Sin.
Of the cause of Sin, we teach: that though the Omnipotent God hath created and doth uphold all nature, yet that it is the corrupted will of man, which worketh Sin in all impious persons, and despisers of God.
Of faith and Good works.
We have unjustly been accused, as forbidding good works, although our publications concerning the ten commandments, and others, sufficiently prove, that we give good and usefull instructions concerning good Christian works, of which very little has been taught before this time; but in their Head preachers have, in all Sermons, exacted childish, useless works, such as rosaries, services of the
Saints, shutting up in monasteries, pilgrimages, certain fast days, holidays, brotherhoods. As therefore, the doctrine of faith, which is the essential of religion, has been to long neglected, and works only preached in every part, our preachers assert. Firstly, that our works are not able to reconcile us unto God, or to boatin grace, which can be done by faith only; if, namely, we believe that our Sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who is the only Mediator, who reconciles us to the Father; and that every one who pretends to do this by works, and to merit grace thereby, despiseth Christ and seeks another way to God, contrary to the Gospel. But we speak not of such a faith as the devils have likewise, who believe the history that Christ has suffered and is risen again; but we speak of the true faith that we receive grace, and forgiveness of Sins through Christ; therefore whosoever has the assurance that he has a gracious God through Christ, he is acquainted with God, calls upon him, and is not without God, as the heathens are; whereas the devil and impious men, believe not this article of the forgiveness of Sin, and therefore they are enemies to God, cannot call upon him, nor expect any thing good from him. Thus it is that Scripture speaks of this faith, and calls, believing not mere knowledge, as devils and impious men have; for we read in Hebr. XI. That faith is not to know the history
alone, but to have confidence in God, and thus to obtain the promises. Further, we teach, that good works shall and must be done not that we shall confide in them, in order to merit grace thereby, but for Gods sake, and out of love to him. Faith alone can obtain grace and forgiveness of Sin. And when the Holy Ghost is given through the faith, the heart is made fit to perform good works.-For before, whilst it is without the Holy Ghost, it is too weak, it is also in the power of the devil, who drives poor human nature to many sins. Therefore the doctrine of faith is not to blame as if it forbade good works, but rather to be praised, that it teaches to do them, and offers assistance: for without faith, and without Christ, the strength of man is insufficient to do good works, to call upon God, to have patience in sufferings, to love our neighbours. These, which are alone truly good and great works, cannot be done without the aid of Christ, as he himself says, John XV. “Without me ye can do nothing.”
Of the Service of the Saints
Concerning this Article, we teach: that we may think of them in order to strengthen our faith, because we see, that they have received grace through faith, and that we shall take example by their good works, every one according to his proper calling. But it cannot be proved by Scripture, that
we shall call upon them, or ask help of them. For, there is only one mediation between God and man, which is Jesus Christ, 1.Tim.II. who is the only Saviour, the only high priest, throne of grace, and advocate with God: as John says, 1.JohnII. “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
The preceding articles contain the whole doctrine which is preached and taught in our churches as good christian instruction for the Comfort of consciences, and the increase of faith and grace in believers, which we have delivered in order not to endanger our own Souls and consciences before God, with abuses of the Divine name and word, nor to transmit to our children and offspring, any other doctrine but what is warranted by the pure Word of God and Christian faith
Exhortation of Dr Martin Luther
The Sacrament of the body and blood
of our Lord.
1.) The early baptism of Children is a particular blessing of God.
I am of opinion, that an unerring providence has wisely ordained, to baptize little infants, and not to delay it, till they are adult and capable, to judge for themselves. For I am certain, that, if we were to delay baptism, and would attempt, to baptize only adults, the greatest part of them would neglect and shun baptism, and we would all have turned infidels long ago. Such unbatpized persons would also neglect public worship, and become despisers of the word and doctrines of the preacher, as they enforce a change of life an piety; nay! there are now many, who are guilty of the latter charge, notwithstanding they were baptized, and call themselves Christians. Should now the number of the unbaptized increase, what would become of us else, but a nation of infidels and heathens? Although there might be a few, who would attend public worship, yet baptism would be postponed to the very last hour of life; as is now the case with repentance.
2.) Else Christendom would have been destroyed through Satan.
This, I am bold to say, the devil tries to accomplish by putting off the baptism of Children, and substituting that of adult and old persons, reasoning thus: If the baptism of infants was done away, I could easily induce the old ones, to postpone being baptized, till they have lost their relish for the world, or till arrived at their hour of death besides I would detain them from public worship, so that they could hear nothing of Christ or baptism, and would become careless about them, but, like heathens, would say: “What of baptism? What of Christianity? I remain with the multitude. Why should I persevere with the few poor and miserable?”
3.) Augustine has experienced the evil consequences resulting from delayed baptism.
St Augustine relates in his biography that his mother and several of his relations delayed having him baptized in infancy, lest he stray afterwards in sinfull ways; they postponed it, till he would have past his youth, that he might then himself hold more firmly on the baptismal vow. But this good intention caused St Augustine to stray further and further from the Gospel and baptism, untill he joined the Manachaean Sect of heresy and became a Scoffer of Christ and baptism;
wherein he continued to his 30th year, when he at last, with the utmost difficulty, turned from heresy to Christ. This conduct caused his mother many grievous tears, and she often repented sincerely, that, although with a good intention, yet she had been accessory to the delaying of his early baptism.
4.) The same evil consequences are to be dreaded even at the present day.
For the devil is well aware of the wickedness and sinfullness of mankind; he sees, how many care nothing about baptism, how forgetfull they are of their vows, and omit to thank God for being baptized, how they neglect, to uphold baptism, and to live according to its injunctions. What would be the consequence, if they were not baptized and would likewise neglect public worship? How difficult is it not in these days for Christians, to be faithfull and persevering under all the exhortations and instructions, which are addressed to them, and by the constant exercise of baptism, by which means a few at last are moved, and imbibe better thoughts!
5.) The neglect of the Lord’s Supper is likewise very detrimental.
Every one may easily perceive, how lightly men, who pretend to be Christians, esteeme the Lord’s Supper, and persuade themselves that there is nothing, of which they stand less in need, than
this Sacrament, and think it not their duty, to partake of it; but that they might live without it, and would not care, if it were never administred or become entirely extinct. History tells us, what effects force and coercion produced in converts to Christianity, namely, they all were hypocrites and unwilling Christians, who are an abomination in the Sight of the Lord, and shall not escape his just punishment.
6.) It is of Divine Institution.
It ought to be well known to every good Christian, that this Sacrament was not invented by men, but was instituted through Christ after the will of his father. An unspeakable and boundless love has instituted it for the use of mankind and especially Christians. Is it then possible, that a Christian heart, in meditating on this blessing, should not feel emotions of piety arise, which urge it on, to desire out of gratitude and love, without admonition and command? If such feelings do not penetrate the heart, the must it be destitute of every Spark of Christianity, and can not believe, that this Sacrament was instituted through Christ, who commands us, to partake of it; much less that it originated in boundless love to mankind. For in the full Conviction of this truth no heart can remain remiss and lukewarm.
Let everyone therefore examine his own heart: First, whether he truly believe, that Christ, the Son of God, has instituted this Sacrament? Secondly, whether he be convinced, that it was given us through holy and boundless love? If this is not your firm belief, you cannot be a Christian, but you are an heathen and infidel. For you esteeme neither Christ, and his commandments, nor his love and fidelity to you, but you persuade yourself, that all is merely a deception and idle usage. But if that belief is really in you, then your own conscience will upbraid you, and exclaim: “You call yourself a Christian, and as such you know, that Christ commands and ordains you, to partake of the Sacrament, and yet you delay it form months and years! how can you reconcile this with a good Christian.” Surely such self-reproaches will produce Shame and cause you to tremble! If your conscience does not whisper to you in this language, you possess not the faith, that Christ is the founder of the Sacrament, and your lips lie, if they say, you believe in it; you are worse than an infidel, for you believe not, and are guilty of lying when you declare, “that you do believe.”
7.) Likewise those, who neglect the Sacrament, offend God.
Consider further, how impious it is, not to revere the Sacrament, and to be remiss in the use of it. From this Source spring all Sins and vices. First: they treat God with contempt in his Sacrament, and think it foolish, that he has instituted such unnecessary ceremonies. In looking upon it as a mere ceremony, they blaspheme God and the Sacrament, which he ordained out of pure mercy. For disbelief in this is blasphemy. Thereby also do they commit treason against the remembrance of Christ, for which the Sacrament was instituted by God, they mock the Passion of Christ, for which they ought to be thankfull, and are guilty for the most heinous ingratitude. They further evince through their conduct, that they are averse to rendering due thanks and honor to the Sufferings of Christ—they absent themselves from all occasions, where such are rendered—withhold from God the adoration due him, and prevent him from manifesting himself as their God, or confessing himself as such through Christ. They use all their endeavors, to cut off and extinguish all divine worship and veneration for the sufferings of Christ among mankind, and
to substitute the kingdom of Satan.
8.) They set others a bad example.
The set also a bad example to others, and cause them likewise to neglect and despise this Sacrament, so, that the remembrance of Christ is buried in oblivion, his sufferings become inefficacious and fruitless, and Christianity will be destroyed; besides they omit to do good, to return thanks to God, to confess Christ, their Lord, to instruct, and increase the piety, of their fellow creatures through word and deed; but in the contrary withhold the gratitude and thanksgiving due to the Lord, deny Christ and lead astray their neighbours. Need we wonder, if God would visit us in his wrath with pestilence, famine, murder and calamities of every description? No worldly punishment is adequate to the universal wickedness and ingratitude of mankind towards Christ, which has crept among Christians.
9.) The fault lies sometimes with the Preachers.
But I apprehend, that it is sometimes our own fault, who, as preachers, ministers, bishops and curates, suffer man to hurry on in his own wickedness, and, instead of exhorting him and arresting him in his sinfull career, are sunk in the same lethargy, thinking within ourselves “who comes, may come, and who comes not, let him stay away.” which ought to be corrected. For we know, that Satan is not
idle but goes about day and night with his angels, to corrupt us and others, to thwart us, and neglectfull to all worship, in order to weaken at least—if he cannot suppress entirely—baptism, Sacrament, the Gospel and every order of God. We ought therefore always to bear in mind, that we are the guards and Sentinels of our Lord Christ, who are bound to struggle against these angels of darkness, to watch over our flocks, and continue with indefatigable zeal to instruct, admonish and persuade them, like the Apostle St Paul commanded Timothy, so, that the prince of darkness may not carry on, so entirely unrestrained and without and any resistance, his machinations among the Christians.