BLTC Press Titles

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Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Luther's two catechisms explained by himself

by Martin Luther


XTbe Xaw, ffattb anb prater.

The three principal parts of the catechism—the Ten Commandments, the Creed and the Lord's Prayer—held their own throughout the Middle Ages down to the time of the Reformation, as the basis of popular education in the Church. And Luther valued them so highly that he declared these three parts contained in clear and thorough exposition the substance of the Scriptures, all essential homiletic material, and the essentials of Christian knowledge. An explanation of them is found not only in this treatise of 1520, but also in the Small Catechism issued in 1529, for which these three parts form the basis. June, 1516, to Lent, 1517, Luther preached on the Ten Commandments, and during Lent of 1517, he explained the Lord's Prayer.

German Text: Wittenberg edition, 6, 104; Jena, 1, 244: Altenburg, 1, 395; Leipzig, 22, 29; Erlangen, 22, 3; Walch, 10, 182; St. Louis Walch, 10, 148; Kaiser edition, 7, 194.

I. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. Grace and peace to all my dear friends and brethren in Christ! Among the many injurious teachings and books by which Christians are misled and deceived, and through which a vast amount of unbelief has arisen, I consider not the least those little prayer books through which a great burden is foisted upon the simple-minded in the form of the confession and enumeration of sins, and much unchristian foolishness in the form of prayers to God and his saints. Indulgences and red titles are the means of puffing these works of high-sounding names. One is called "Hortulus Animae," or "The Little Garden of the Soul"; another, "Paradisus Animae," or "The Soul's Paradise"; and so forth. Such books stand in need of a most thorough revision, or perhaps they should be entirely destroyed. And this, I think, is true likewise of the passional and legendary books, in which we find many sections contributed by the devil.

But I have not the time for such work of revision, and it is too much for me alone. I shall be content, then, with such counsel as is here given until God shall give me time to do otherwise. I will begin with this simple Christian explanation, which is to be a mirror to enable us to see our sin, and to induce us to pray in harmony with the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer.

I am sure that a Christian has prayed sufficiently when he has rightly prayed the Lord's Prayer as often as he feels the need of prayer, the object of the prayer being what it may. For a good prayer does not consist in many words, but in the constant and earnest yearning of the soul for the Lord, as Christ teaches us in the sixth chapter of Matthew.

I herewith beg of everyone to put aside the Brigette prayers and all those which are embellished with indulgences, or promises, and €o return to this common, simple Christian prayer. The more we practice it, the sweeter and the more delightful it becomes. To this may we be helped by the author of this prayer, our dear Lord Jesus Christ, blessed forever. Amen.


Not without God's special design has it been ordained that the common Christian man who cannot read the Scriptures shall be taught the Ten Commandments, the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. In these three parts assuredly is comprehended everything that is found in the Scriptures, and all necessary material for preaching, as also everything that a Christian should know. And it is so clearly and amply and withal so concisely and intelligibly set forth that nobody can object or excuse himself on the ground that it is too hard to remember what is needful for his salvation.

There are three things which a man must know in order to be saved:

First, he must know what he is to do and what he is to avoid. Second, when he realizes that he cannot of his own power do what is required of him, nor refrain from that which is forbidden, he must know where he should seek and find the power necessary. In the third place, he must know how to seek and find it. The sick man is a case in point. If he would recover he must first know the nature of his illness, and also what he may do and what he may not do. Then he must know where the remedy is to be found that will enable him to do as a healthy man does. Lastly, he must desire, seek and secure that remedy. By a similar process the commandments teach a man to recognize his malady, so that he realizes and experiences what he can do and what he cannot do, what he can avoid and what he cannot avoid, with the result that he recognizes himself as a sinful and wicked man.

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