The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Philip Melanchthon Presents His Greeting to the Reader.
After the Confession of our princes had been publicly read, certain theologians and monks prepared a confutation of our writing; and when His Imperial Majesty had caused this also to be read in the assembly of the princes, he demanded of our princes that they should assent to this Confutation.
But as our princes had heard that many articles were disapproved, which they could not abandon without offense to conscience, they asked that a copy of the Confutation be furnished them, that they might be able both to see what the adversaries condemned, and to refute their arguments.
And, indeed, in a cause of such importance pertaining to religion and the instruction of consciences, they thought that the adversaries would produce their writing without any hesitation [, or even offer it to us].
But this our princes could not obtain, unless on the most perilous conditions, which it was impossible for them to accept.
Then, too, negotiations for peace were begun, in which it was apparent that our princes declined no burden, however grievous, that could be assumed without offense to conscience. But the adversaries obstinately demanded this, namely, that we should approve certain manifest abuses and errors; and as we could not do this, His Imperial Majesty again demanded that our princes should assent to the Confutation. This our princes refused to do.
For in a matter pertaining to religion, how could they assent to a writing into which they had not looked, especially, as they had heard that some articles were condemned, in which it was impossible for them, without grievous sin, to approve the opinions of the adversaries?
They had, however, commanded me and some others to prepare an Apology of the Confession, in which the reasons why we could not receive the Confutation should be set forth to His Imperial Majesty, and the objections made by the adversaries should be refuted. For during the reading some of us had taken down the chief points of the topics and arguments. This Apology they finally [at last when they took their departure from Augsburg] offered to His Imperial Majesty, that he might know that we were hindered by the greatest and most important reasons from approving the Confutation. But His Imperial Majesty did not receive the offered writing.
] Afterwards a certain decree was published, in which the adversaries boast that they have refuted our Confession from the Scriptures.
You have now, therefore, reader, our Apology, from which you will understand not only what the adversaries have judged (for we have reported in good faith), but also that they have condemned several articles contrary to the manifest Scripture of the Holy Ghost so far are they from overthrowing our propositions by means of the Scriptures.
Now, although originally we drew up the Apology by taking counsel with others, nevertheless, as it passed through the press, I have made some additions. Wherefore I give my name, so that no one can complain that the book has been published anonymously.
It has always been my custom in these controversies to retain, so far as I was at all able, the form of the customarily received doctrine, in order that at some time concord could be reached the more readily. Nor, indeed, am I now departing far from this custom, although I could justly lead away the men of this age still farther from the opinions of the adversaries.
But the adversaries are treating the case in such a way as to show that they are seeking neither truth nor concord, but to drain our blood.
And now I have written with the greatest moderation possible; and if any expression appears too severe, I must say here beforehand that I am contending with the theologians and monks who wrote the Confutation, and not with the Emperor or the princes, 14] whom I hold in due esteem. But I have recently seen the Confutation, and have noticed how cunningly and slanderously it was written, so that on some points it could deceive even the cautious.
Yet I have not discussed all their sophistries, for it would be an endless task; but I have comprised the chief arguments, that there might be among all nations a testimony concerning us that we hold the Gospel of Christ correctly and in a pious way. Discord does not delight us, neither are we indifferent to our danger; for we readily understand the extent of it in such a bitterness of hatred wherewith we see that the adversaries have been inflamed. But we cannot abandon truth that is manifest and necessary to the Church.
Wherefore we believe that troubles and dangers for the glory of Christ and the good of the Church should be endured, and we are confident that this our fidelity to duty is approved of God, and we hope that the judgment of posterity concerning us will be more just.
For it is undeniable that many topics of Christian doctrine whose existence in the Church is of the greatest moment have been brought to view by our theologians and explained; in reference to which we are not disposed here to recount under what sort of opinions, and how dangerous, they formerly lay covered in the writings of the monks, canonists, and sophistical theologians. [This may have to be done later.]
We have the public testimonials of many good men, who give God thanks for this greatest blessing, namely, that concerning many necessary topics it has taught better things than are read everywhere in the books of our adversaries.
We shall commend our cause, therefore, to Christ, who some time will judge these controversies, and we beseech Him to look upon the afflicted and scattered churches, and to bring them back to godly and perpetual concord. [Therefore, if the known and clear truth is trodden under foot, we will resign this cause to God and Christ in heaven, who is the Father of orphans and the Judge of widows and of all the forsaken, who (as we certainly know) will judge and pass sentence upon this cause aright. Lord Jesus Christ it is Thy holy Gospel, it is Thy cause; look Thou upon the many troubled hearts and consciences, and maintain and strengthen in Thy truth Thy churches and little flocks, who suffer anxiety and distress from the devil. Confound all hypocrisy and lies, and grant peace and unity, so that Thy glory may advance, and Thy kingdom, strong against all the gates of hell, may continually grow and increase.]
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