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Starts discussion of Second Commandment (not to take the name of the Lord in vain)

By Martin Luther

       XVIII. So far we have treated of the first work and of
                  the First Commandment, but very briefly, plainly and
                  hastily, for very much might be said of it. We will now
                  trace the works farther through the following
                  The second work, next to faith, is the work of the Second
                  Commandment, that we shall honor God's Name and not take
                  it in vain. This, like all the other works, cannot be
                  done without faith; and if it is done without faith, it
                  is all sham and show. After faith we can do no greater
                  work than to praise, preach, sing and in every way exalt
                  and magnify God's glory, honor and Name.
                  And although I have said above, and it is true, that
                  there is no difference in works where faith is and does
                  the work, yet this is true only when they are compared
                  with faith and its works. Measured by one another there
                  is a difference, and one is higher than the other. Just
                  as in the body the members do not differ when compared
                  with health, and health works in the one as much as in
                  the other; yet the works of the members are different,
                  and one is higher, nobler, more useful than the other;
                  so, here also, to praise God's glory and Name is better
                  than the works of the other Commandments which follow;
                  and yet it must be done in the same faith as all the
                  But I know well that this work is lightly esteemed, and
                  has indeed become unknown. Therefore we must examine it
                  further, and will say no more about the necessity of
                  doing it in the faith and confidence that it pleases God.
                  Indeed there is no work in which confidence and faith are
                  so much experienced and felt as in honoring God's Name;
                  and it greatly helps to strengthen and increase faith,
                  although all works also help to do this, as St. Peter
                  says, II. Peter i: "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give
                  diligence through good works to make your calling and
                  election sure."
                  XIX. The First Commandment forbids us to have other gods,
                  and thereby commands that we have a God, the true God, by
                  a firm faith, trust, confidence, hope and love, which are
                  the only works whereby a man can have, honor and keep a
                  God; for by no other work can one find or lose God except
                  by faith or unbelief, by trusting or doubting; of the
                  other works none reaches quite to God. So also in the
                  Second Commandment we are forbidden to use His Name in
                  vain. Yet this is not to be enough, but we are thereby
                  also commanded to honor, call upon, glorify, preach and
                  praise His Name. And indeed it is impossible that God's
                  Name should not be dishonored where it is not rightly
                  honored. For although it be honored with the lips,
                  bending of the knees, kissing and other postures, if this
                  is not done in the heart by faith, in confident trust in
                  God's grace, it is nothing else than an evidence and
                  badge of hypocrisy.
                  See now, how many kinds of good works a man can do under
                  this Commandment at all times and never be without the
                  good works of this Commandment, if he will; so that he
                  truly need not make a long pilgrimage or seek holy
                  places. For, tell me, what moment can pass in which we do
                  not without ceasing receive God's blessings, or, on the
                  other hand, suffer adversity? But what else are God's
                  blessings and adversities than a constant urging and
                  stirring up to praise, honor, and bless God, and to call
                  upon His Name? Now if you had nothing else at all to do,
                  would you not have enough to do with this Commandment
                  alone, that you without ceasing bless, sing, praise and
                  honor God's Name? And for what other purpose have tongue,
                  voice, language and mouth been created? As Psalm li.
                  says: "Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show
                  forth Thy praise." Again: "My tongue shall sing aloud of
                  Thy mercy."
                  What work is there in heaven except that of this Second
                  Commandment? As it is written in Psalm Ixxxiv: "Blessed
                  are they that dwell in Thy house: they will be for ever
                  praising Thee." So also David says in Psalm xxxiv: "God's
                  praise shall be continually in my mouth." And St. Paul,
                  I. Corinthians x: "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or
                  whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Also
                  Colossians iii: "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all
                  in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and
                  the Father." If we were to observe this work, we would
                  have a heaven here on earth and always have enough to do,
                  as have the saints in heaven.
                  XX. On this is based the wonderful and righteous judgment
                  of God, that at times a poor man, in whom no one can see
                  many great works, in the privacy of his home joyfully
                  praises God when he fares well, or with entire confidence
                  calls upon Him when he fares ill, and thereby does a
                  greater and more acceptable work than another, who fasts
                  much, prays much, endows churches, makes pilgrimages, and
                  burdens himself with great deeds in this place and in
                  that. Such a fool opens wide his mouth, looks for great
                  works to do, and is so blinded that he does not at all
                  notice this greatest work, and praising God is in his
                  eyes a very small matter compared with the great idea he
                  has formed of the works of his own devising, in which he
                  perhaps praises himself more than God, or takes more
                  pleasure in them than he does in God; and thus with his
                  good works he storms against the Second Commandment and
                  its works. Of all this we have an illustration in the
                  case of the Pharisee and the Publican in the Gospel. For
                  the sinner calls upon God in his sins, and praises Him,
                  and so has hit upon the two highest Commandments, faith
                  and God's honor. The hypocrite misses both and struts
                  about with other good works by which he praises himself
                  and not God, and puts his trust in himself more than in
                  God. Therefore he is justly rejected and the other
                  The reason of all this is that the higher and better the
                  works are, the less show they make; and that every one
                  thinks they are easy, because it is evident that no one
                  pretends to praise God's Name and honor so much as the
                  very men who never do it and with their show of doing it,
                  while the heart is without faith, cause the precious work
                  to be despised. So that the Apostle St. Paul dare say
                  boldly, Romans ii, that they blaspheme God's Name who
                  make their boast of God's Law. For to name the Name of
                  God and to write His honor on paper and on the walls is
                  an easy matter; but genuinely to praise and bless Him in
                  His good deeds and confidently to call upon Him in all
                  adversities, these are truly the most rare, highest
                  works, next to faith, so that if we were to see how few
                  of them there are in Christendom, we might despair for
                  very sorrow. And yet there is a constant increase of
                  high, pretty, shining works of men's devising, or of
                  works which look like these true works, but at bottom are
                  all without faith and without faithfulness; in short,
                  there is nothing good back of them. Thus also Isaiah
                  xlviii. rebukes the people of Israel: "Hear ye this, ye
                  which are called by the name of Israel, which swear by
                  the Name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of
                  Israel neither in truth, nor in righteousness"; that is,
                  they did it not in the true faith and confidence, which
                  is the real truth and righteousness, but trusted in
                  themselves, their works and powers, and yet called upon
                  God's Name and praised Him, two things which do not fit
                  XXI. The first work of this Commandment then is, to
                  praise God in all His benefits, which are innumerable, so
                  that such praise and thanksgiving ought also of right
                  never to cease or end. For who can praise Him perfectly
                  for the gift of natural life, not to mention all other
                  temporal and eternal blessings? And so through this one
                  part of the Commandment man is overwhelmed with good and
                  precious works; if he do these in true faith, he has
                  indeed not lived in vain. And in this matter none sin so
                  much as the most resplendent saints, who are pleased with
                  themselves and like to praise themselves or to hear
                  themselves praised, honored and glorified before men.
                  Therefore the second work of this Commandment is, to be
                  on one's guard, to flee from and to avoid all temporal
                  honor and praise, and never to seek a name for oneself,
                  or fame and a great reputation, that every one sing of
                  him and tell of him; which is an exceedingly dangerous
                  sin, and yet the most common of all, and, alas! little
                  regarded. Every one wants to be of importance and not to
                  be the least, however small he may be; so deeply is
                  nature sunk in the evil of its own conceit and in its
                  self-confidence contrary to these two first Commandments.
                  Now the world regards this terrible vice as the highest
                  virtue, and this makes it exceedingly dangerous for those
                  who do not understand and have not had experience of
                  God's Commandments and the histories of the Holy
                  Scriptures, to read or hear the heathen books and
                  histories. For all heathen books are poisoned through and
                  through with this striving after praise and honor; in
                  them men are taught by blind reason that they were not
                  nor could be men of power and worth, who are not moved by
                  praise and honor; but those are counted the best, who
                  disregard body and life, friend and property and
                  everything in the effort to win praise and honor. All the
                  holy Fathers have complained of this vice and with one
                  mind conclude that it is the very last vice to be
                  overcome. St. Augustine says: "All other vices are
                  practised in evil works; only honor and self-satisfaction
                  are practised in and by means of good works."
                  Therefore if a man had nothing else to do except this
                  second work of this Commandment, he would yet have to
                  work all his life-time in order to fight this vice and
                  drive it out, so common, so subtile, so quick and
                  insidious is it. Now we all pass by this good work and
                  exercise ourselves in many other lesser good works, nay,
                  through other good works we overthrow this and forget it
                  entirely. So the holy Name of God, which alone should be
                  honored, is taken in vain and dishonored through our own
                  cursed name, self-approval and honor-seeking. And this
                  sin is more grievous before God than murder and adultery;
                  but its wickedness is not so clearly seen as that of
                  murder, because of its subtilty, for it is not
                  accomplished in the coarse flesh, but in the spirit.
                  XXII. Some think it is good for young people that they be
                  enticed by reputation and honor, and again by shame of
                  and dishonor, and so be induced to do good. For there are
                  many who do the good and leave the evil undone out of
                  fear of shame and love of honor, and so do what they
                  would otherwise by no means do or leave undone. These I
                  leave to their opinion. But at present we are seeking how
                  true good works are to be done, and they who are inclined
                  to do them surely do not need to be driven by the fear of
                  shame and the love of honor; they have, and are to have a
                  higher and far nobler incentive, namely, God's
                  commandment, God's fear, God's approval, and their faith
                  and love toward God. They who have not, or regard not
                  this motive, and let shame and honor drive them, these
                  also have their reward, as the Lord says, Matthew vi; and
                  as the motive, so is also the work and the reward: none
                  of them is good, except only in the eyes of the world.
                  Now I hold that a young person could be more easily
                  trained and incited by God's fear and commandments than
                  by any other means. Yet where these do not help, we must
                  endure that they do the good and leave the evil for the
                  sake of shame and of honor, just as we must also endure
                  wicked men or the imperfect, of whom we spoke above; nor
                  can we do more than tell them that their works are not
                  satisfactory and right before God, and so leave them
                  until they learn to do right for the sake of God's
                  commandments also. Just as young children are induced to
                  pray, fast, learn, etc., by gifts and promises of the
                  parents, even though it would not be good to treat them
                  so all their lives, so that they never learn to do good
                  in the fear of God: far worse, if they become accustomed
                  to do good for the sake of praise and honor.
                  XXIII. But this is true, that we must none the less have
                  a good name and honor, and every one ought so to live
                  that nothing evil can be said of him, and that he give
                  offence to no one, as St. Paul says, Romans xii: "We are
                  to be zealous to do good, not only before God, but also
                  before all men." And II. Corinthians iv: "We walk so
                  honestly that no man knows anything against us." But
                  there must be great diligence and care, lest such honor
                  and good name puff up the heart, and the heart find
                  pleasure in them. Here the saying of Solomon holds: "As
                  the fire in the furnace proveth the gold, so man is
                  proved by the mouth of him that praises him." Few and
                  most spiritual men must they be, who, when honored and
                  praised, remain indifferent and unchanged, so that they
                  do not care for it, nor feel pride and pleasure in it,
                  but remain entirely free, ascribe all their honor and
                  fame to God, offering it to Him alone, and using it only
                  to the glory of God, to the edification of their
                  neighbors, and in no way to their own benefit or
                  advantage; so that a man trust not in his own honor, nor
                  exalt himself above the most incapable, despised man on
                  earth, but acknowledge himself a servant of God, Who has
                  given him the honor in order that with it he may serve
                  God and his neighbor, just as if He had commanded him to
                  distribute some gulden to the poor for His sake. So He
                  says, Matthew v: "Your light shall shine before men, so
                  that they may see your good works and glorify your Father
                  Who is in heaven." He does not say, "they shall praise
                  you," but "your works shall only serve them to
                  edification, that through them they may praise God in you
                  and in themselves." This is the correct use of God's Name
                  and honor, when God is thereby praised through the
                  edification of others. And if men want to praise us and
                  not God in us, we are not to endure it, but with all our
                  powers forbid it and flee from it as from the most
                  grievous sin and robbery of divine honor.
                  XXIV. Hence it comes that God frequently permits a man to
                  fall into or remain in grievous sin, in order that he may
                  be put to shame in his own eyes and in the eyes of all
                  men, who otherwise could not have kept himself from this
                  great vice of vain honor and fame, if he had remained
                  constant in his great gifts and virtues; so God must ward
                  off this sin by means of other grievous sins, that His
                  Name alone may be honored; and thus one sin becomes the
                  other's medicine, because of our perverse wickedness,
                  which not only does the evil, but also misuses all that
                  is good.
                  Now see how much a man has to do, if he would do good
                  works, which always are at hand in great number, and with
                  which he is surrounded on all sides; but, alas! because
                  of his blindness, he passes them by and seeks and runs
                  after others of his own devising and pleasure, against
                  which no man can sufficiently speak and no man can
                  sufficiently guard. With this all the prophets had to
                  contend, and for this reason they were all slain, only
                  because they rejected such self-devised works and
                  preached only God's commandments, as one of them says,
                  Jeremiah vii: "Thus saith the God of Israel unto you:
                  Take your burnt offerings unto all your sacrifices and
                  eat your burnt-offerings and your flesh yourselves; for
                  concerning these things I have commanded you nothing, but
                  this thing commanded I you: Obey My voice (that is, not
                  what seems right and good to you, but what I bid you),
                  and walk in the way that I have commanded you." And
                  Deuteronomy xii: "Thou shalt not do whatsoever is right
                  in thine own eyes, but what thy God has commanded thee."
                  These and numberless like passages of Scripture are
                  spoken to tear man not only from sins, but also from the
                  works which seem to men to be good and right, and to turn
                  men, with a single mind, to the simple meaning of God's
                  commandment only, that they shall diligently observe this
                  only and always, as it is written, Exodus xiii: "These
                  commandments shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine
                  hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes." And Psalm
                  i: "A godly man meditates in God's Law day and night."
                  For we have more than enough and too much to do, if we
                  are to satisfy only God's commandments. He has given us
                  such commandments that if we understand them aright, we
                  dare not for a moment be idle, and might easily forget
                  all other works. But the evil spirit, who never rests,
                  when he cannot lead us to the left into evil works,
                  fights on our right through self-devised works that seem
                  good, but against which God has commanded, Deuteronomy
                  xxviii, and Joshua xxiii, "Ye shall not go aside from My
                  commandments to the right hand or to the left."
                  XXV. The third work of this Commandment is to call C upon
                  God's Name in every need. For this God regards as keeping
                  His Name holy and greatly honoring it, if we name and
                  call upon it in adversity and need. And this is really
                  why He sends us so much trouble, suffering, adversity and
                  even death, and lets us live in many wicked, sinful
                  affections, that He may thereby urge man and give him
                  much reason to run to Him, to cry aloud to Him, to call
                  upon His holy Name, and thus to fulfil this work of the
                  Second Commandment, as He says in Psalm 1: "Call upon Me
                  in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou
                  shalt glorify Me; for I desire the sacrifice of praise."
                  And this is the way whereby thou canst come unto
                  salvation; for through such works man perceives and
                  learns what God's Name is, how powerful it is to help all
                  who call upon it; and whereby confidence and faith grow
                  mightily, and these are the fulfilling of the first and
                  highest Commandment. This is the experience of David,
                  Psalm liv: "Thou hast delivered me out of all trouble,
                  therefore will I praise Thy Name and confess that it is
                  lovely and sweet." And Psalm xci says, "Because he hath
                  set his hope upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I
                  will help him, because he hath known My Name."
                  Lo! what man is there on earth, who would not all his
                  life long have enough to do with this work? For who lives
                  an hour without trials? I will not mention the trials of
                  adversity, which are innumerable. For this is the most
                  dangerous trial of all, when there is no trial and every
                  thing is and goes well; for then a man is tempted to
                  forget God, to become too bold and to misuse the times of
                  prosperity. Yea, here he has ten times more need to call
                  upon God's Name than when in adversity. Since it is
                  written, Psalm xci, "A thousand shall fall on the left
                  hand and ten thousand on the right hand."
                  So too we see in broad day, in all men's daily
                  experience, that more heinous sins and vice occur when
                  there is peace, when all things are cheap and there are
                  good times, than when war, pestilence, sicknesses and all
                  manner of misfortune burden us; so that Moses also fears
                  for his people, lest they forsake God's commandment for
                  no other reason than because they are too full, too well
                  provided for and have too much peace, as he says,
                  Deuteronomy xxxii "My people is waxed rich, full and fat;
                  therefore has it forsaken its God." Wherefore also God
                  let many of its enemies remain and would not drive them
                  out, in order that they should not have peace and must
                  exercise themselves in the keeping of God's commandments,
                  as it is written, Judges iii. So He deals with us also,
                  when He sends us all kinds of misfortune: so exceedingly
                  careful is He of us, that He may teach us and drive us to
                  honor and call upon His Name, to gain confidence and
                  faith toward Him, and so to fulfil the first two
                  XXVI. Here foolish men run into danger, and especially
                  the work-righteous saints, and those who want to be more
                  than others; they teach men to make the sign of the
                  cross; one arms himself with letters, another runs to the
                  fortunetellers; one seeks this, another that, if only
                  they may thereby escape misfortune and be secure. It is
                  beyond telling what a devilish allurement attaches to
                  this trifling with sorcery, conjuring and superstition,
                  all of which is done only that men may not need God's
                  Name and put no trust in it. Here great dishonor is done
                  the Name of God and the first two Commandments, in that
                  men look to the devil, men or creatures for that which
                  should be sought and found in God alone, through naught
                  but a pure faith and confidence, and a cheerful
                  meditation of and calling upon His holy Name.
                  Now examine this closely for yourself and see whether
                  this is not a gross, mad perversion: the devil, men and
                  creatures they must believe, and trust to them for the
                  best; without such faith and confidence nothing holds or
                  helps. How shall the good and faithful God reward us for
                  not believing and trusting Him as much or more than man
                  and the devil, although He not only promises help and
                  sure assistance, but also commands us confidently to look
                  for it, and gives and urges all manner of reasons why we
                  should place such faith and confidence in Him? Is it not
                  lamentable and pitiable that the devil or man, who
                  commands nothing and does not urge, but only promises, is
                  set above God, Who promises, urges and commands; and that
                  more is thought of them than of God Himself? We ought
                  truly to be ashamed of ourselves and learn from the
                  example of those who trust the devil or men. For if the
                  devil, who is a wicked, lying spirit, keeps faith with
                  all those who ally themselves with him, how much more
                  will not the most gracious, all-truthful God keep faith,
                  if a man trusts Him? Nay, is it not rather He alone Who
                  will keep faith? A rich man trusts and relies upon his
                  money and possessions, and they help him; and we are not
                  willing to trust and rely upon the living God, that He is
                  willing and able to help us? We say: Gold makes bold; and
                  it is true, as Baruch iii. says, "Gold is a thing wherein
                  men trust." But far greater is the courage which the
                  highest eternal Good gives, wherein trust, not men, but
                  only God's children.
                  XXVII. Even if none of these adversities constrain us to
                  call upon God's Name and to trust Him, yet were sin alone
                  more than sufficient to train and to urge us on in this
                  work. For sin has hemmed us in with three strong, mighty
                  armies. The first is our own flesh, the second the world,
                  the third the evil spirit, by which three we are without
                  ceasing oppressed and troubled; whereby God gives us
                  occasion to do good works without ceasing, namely, to
                  fight with these enemies and sins. The flesh seeks
                  pleasure and peace, the world seeks riches, favor, power
                  and honor, the evil spirit seeks pride, glory, that a man
                  be well thought of, and other men be despised.
                  And these three are all so powerful that each one of them
                  is alone sufficient to fight a man, and yet there is no
                  way we can overcome them, except only by calling upon the
                  holy Name of God in a firm faith, as Solomon says,
                  Proverbs xviii: "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower;
                  the righteous runneth into it, and is set aloft." And
                  David, Psalm cxvi: "I will drink the cup of salvation,
                  and call upon the Name of the Lord." Again, Psalm xviii:
                  "I will call upon the Lord with praise: so shall I be
                  saved from all mine enemies." These works and the power
                  of God's Name have become unknown to us, because we are
                  not accustomed to it, and have never seriously fought
                  with sins, and have not needed His Name, because we are
                  trained only in our self devised works, which we were
                  able to do with our own powers.
                  XXVIII. Further works of this Commandment are: that we
                  shall not swear, curse, lie, deceive and conjure with the
                  holy Name of God, and otherwise misuse it; which are very
                  simple matters and well known to every one, being the
                  sins which have been almost exclusively preached and
                  proclaimed under this Commandment. These also include,
                  that we shall prevent others from making sinful use of
                  God's Name by lying, swearing, deceiving, cursing,
                  conjuring, and otherwise. Herein again much occasion is
                  given for doing good and warding off evil.
                  But the greatest and most difficult work of this
                  Commandment is to protect the holy Name of God against
                  all who misuse it in a spiritual manner, and to proclaim
                  it to all men. For it is not enough that I, for myself
                  and in myself, praise and call upon God's Name in
                  prosperity and adversity. I must step forth and for the
                  sake of God's honor and Name bring upon myself the enmity
                  of all men, as Christ said to His disciples: "Ye shall be
                  hated of all men for My Name's sake." Here we must
                  provoke to anger father, mother, and the best of friends.
                  Here we must strive against spiritual and temporal
                  powers, and be accused of disobedience. Here we must stir
                  up against us the rich, learned, holy, and all that is of
                  repute in the world. And although this is especially the
                  duty of those who are commanded to preach God's Word, yet
                  every Christian is also obligated to do so when time and
                  place demand. For we must for the holy Name of God risk
                  and give up all that we have and can do, and show by our
                  deeds that we love God and His Name, His honor and His
                  praise above all things, and trust Him above all things,
                  and expect good from Him; thereby confessing that we
                  regard Him as the highest good, for the sake of which we
                  let go and give up all other goods.
                  XXIX. Here we must first of all resist all wrong, where
                  truth or righteousness suffers violence or need, and dare
                  make no distinction of persons, as some do, who fight
                  most actively and busily against the wrong which is done
                  to the rich, the powerful, and their own friends; but
                  when it is done to the poor, or the despised or their own
                  enemy, they are quiet and patient. These see the Name and
                  the honor of God not as it is, but through a painted
                  glass, and measure truth or righteousness according to
                  the persons, and do not consider their deceiving eye,
                  which looks more on the person than on the thing. These
                  are hypocrites within and have only the appearance of
                  defending the truth. For they well know that there is no
                  danger when one helps the rich, the powerful, the learned
                  and one's own friends, and can in turn enjoy their
                  protection and be honored by them.
                  Thus it is very easy to fight against the wrong which is
                  done to popes, kings, princes, bishops and other
                  big-wigs. Here each wants to be the most pious, where
                  there is no great need. O how sly is here the deceitful
                  Adam with his demand; how finely does he cover his greed
                  of profit with the name of truth and righteousness and
                  God's honor! But when something happens to a poor and
                  insignificant man, there the deceitful eye does not find
                  much profit, but cannot help seeing the disfavor of the
                  powerful; therefore he lets the poor man remain unhelped.
                  And who could tell the extent of this vice in
                  Christendom? God says in the lxxxii. Psalm, "How long
                  will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the
                  wicked? Judge the matter of the poor and fatherless,
                  demand justice for the poor and needy; deliver the poor
                  and rid the forsaken out of the hand of the wicked." But
                  it is not done, and therefore the text continues: "They
                  know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in
                  darkness"; that is, the truth they do not see, but they
                  stop at the reputation of the great, however unrighteous
                  they are; and do not consider the poor, however righteous
                  they are.
                  XXX. See, here would be many good works. For the greater
                  portion of the powerful, rich and friends do injustice
                  and oppress the poor, the lowly, and their own opponents;
                  and the greater the men, the worse the deeds; and where
                  we cannot by force prevent it and help the truth, we
                  should at least confess it, and do what we can with
                  words, not take the part of the unrighteous, not approve
                  them, but speak the truth boldly.
                  What would it help a man if he did all manner of good,
                  made pilgrimages to Rome and to all holy places, acquired
                  all indulgences, built all churches and endowed houses,
                  if he were found guilty of sin against the Name and honor
                  of God, not speaking of them and neglecting them, and
                  regarding his possessions, honor, favor and friends more
                  than the truth (which is God's Name and honor)? Or who is
                  he, before whose door and into whose house such good
                  works do not daily come, so that he would have no need to
                  travel far or to ask after good works? And if we consider
                  the life of men, how in every place men act so very
                  rashly and lightly in this respect, we must cry out with
                  the prophet, Omnis homo mendax, "All men are liars, lie
                  and deceive"; for the real good works they neglect, and
                  adorn and paint themselves with the most insignificant,
                  and want to be pious, to mount to heaven in peaceful
                  But if you should say: "Why does not God do it alone and
                  Himself, since He can and knows how to help each one?"
                  Yes, He can do it; but He does not want to do it alone;
                  He wants us to work with Him, and does us the honor to
                  want to work His work with us and through us. And if we
                  are not willing to accept such honor, He will, after all,
                  perform the work alone, and help the poor; and those who
                  were unwilling to help Him and have despised the great
                  honor of doing His work, He will condemn with the
                  unrighteous, because they have made common cause with the
                  unrighteous. Just as He alone is blessed, but He wants to
                  do us the honor and not be alone in His blessedness, but
                  have us to be blessed with Him. And if He were to do it
                  alone, His Commandments would be given us in vain,
                  because no one would have occasion to exercise himself in
                  the great works of these Commandments, and no one would
                  test himself to see whether he regards God and His Name
                  as the highest good, and for His sake risks everything.
                  XXXI. It also belongs to this work to resist all false,
                  seductive, erroneous, heretical doctrines, every misuse
                  of spiritual power. Now this is much higher, for these
                  use the holy Name of God itself to fight against the Name
                  of God. For this reason it seems a great thing and a
                  dangerous to resist them, because they assert that he who
                  resists them resists God and all His saints, in whose
                  place they sit and whose power they use, saying that
                  Christ said of them, "He that heareth you, heareth Me,
                  and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me." On which words
                  they lean heavily, become insolent and bold to say, to
                  do, and to leave undone what they please; put to the ban,
                  accurse, rob, murder, and practise all their wickedness,
                  in whatever way they please and can invent, without any
                  Now Christ did not mean that we should listen to them in
                  everything they might say and do, but only then when they
                  present to us His Word, the Gospel, not their word, His
                  work, and not their work. How else could we know whether
                  their lies and sins were to be avoided? There must be
                  some rule, to what extent we are to hear and to follow
                  them, and this rule cannot be given by them, but must be
                  established by God over them, that it may serve us as a
                  guide, as we shall hear in the Fourth Commandment.
                  It must be, indeed, that even in the spiritual estate the
                  greater part preach false doctrine and misuse spiritual
                  power, so that thus occasion may be given us to do the
                  works of this Commandment, and that we be tried, to see
                  what we are willing to do and to leave undone against
                  such blasphemers for the sake of God's honor.
                  Oh, if we were God-fearing in this matter, how often
                  would the knaves of officiales have to decree their papal
                  and episcopal ban in vain! How weak the Roman
                  thunderbolts would become! How often would many a one
                  have to hold his tongue, to whom the world must now give
                  ear! How few preachers would be found in Christendom! But
                  it has gotten the upper hand: whatever they assert and in
                  whatever way, that must be right. Here no one fights for
                  God's Name and honor, and I hold that no greater or more
                  frequent sin is done in external works than under this
                  head. It is a matter so high that few understand it, and,
                  besides, adorned with God's Name and power, dangerous to
                  touch. But the prophets of old were masters in this; also
                  the apostles, especially St. Paul, who did not allow it
                  to trouble them whether the highest or the lowest priest
                  had said it, or had done it in God's Name or in his own.
                  They looked on the works and words, and held them up to
                  God's Commandment, no matter whether big John or little
                  Nick said it, or whether they had done it in God's Name
                  or in man's. And for this they had to die, and of such
                  dying there would be much more to say in our time, for
                  things are much worse now. But Christ and St. Peter and
                  Paul must cover all this with their holy names, so that
                  no more infamous cover for infamy has been found on earth
                  than the most holy and most blessed Name of Jesus Christ!
                  One might shudder to be alive, simply because of the
                  misuse and blasphemy of the holy Name of God; through
                  which, if it shall last much longer, we will, as I fear,
                  openly worship the devil as a god; so completely do the
                  spiritual authorities and the learned lack all
                  understanding in these things. It is high time that we
                  pray God earnestly that He hallow His Name. But it will
                  cost blood, and they who enjoy the inheritance of the
                  holy martyrs and are won with their blood, must again
                  make martyrs. Of this more another time.

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