BLTC Press Titles


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Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley


Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll


The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison


Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Martin Luther's Authority of councils and churches, tr. by C.B. Smyth

by Martin Luther

Excerpt:

As for us—for such poor feeble Christians —it is high time to take courage, and show a better heart—even whilst we cannot escape the reproach of heresy before such saints. Begin we, I say, to feel much rejoiced and to praise and thank the Almighty Father of all mercy for advocating our cause with the earnestness which He displays. We behold our God striking the minds of our sanguinary persecutors with such Egyptian darkness and Judaic delusion as make them unanimous and resolved not to give way in one jot or tittle; but to leave the Christian Church to perish rather than abandon the smallest portion of that idolatry which covers them from head to foot. This is their prime boast, and their acts fully correspond with it. I repeat, we must take courage; for they will improve our prospects by their pertinacity beyond our desires, and injure themselves more than they can suspect. They know and confess their errors upon many subjects, and are aware that Scripture and the Almighty are against them; and yet they wilfully oppose the power of Heaven, and, with their eyes open, support error against truth. Every feeble Christian, in truth, should be armed with this confidence: yes, he should go to the sacrament notwithstanding he has not been admitted to confession, and there venture a hundred necks, if he had as many; and verily he would soon discover that here the Lord reigns, and there the deceiver rules.

Thus we can form an opinion of the ultimate results to be expected from the approaching Council at Vicenza, and what will be the determined judgment of this last council; for the last it will be in all probability, insomuch that the world at large will be compelled to despair of any Church reformation. They will grant not one concession, but carry out their boast of suffering Christianity to fall first. Not contented with this, they will coerce us, poor Christians, with the sword, to take part in religious services which are more suitable to the author of darkness that to the Prince of Light. Such arrogance, in all past history, is certainly not traceable or known. Other tyrants enjoy this wretched superiority, viz., of having ignorantly crucified the Lord of glory, as the Mahometans, the Heathen, and the Jews. But look at these men who bear Christ's name, and are reputed as believers, even in a very high degree —with what bold front they speak in disparagement of the Redeemer, and say, "We know that the words and deeds of Jesus are opposed to ours—yet we will not be moved from our determination. It is not for us to yield." And yet they will not resign the name of Christians! But we must leave all hopes of being assisted in this quarter, and look somewhere else for counsel and protection; and, above all, have recourse to our Lord Jesus Christ in asking and seeking a reformation. We must do what we can, and leave them to their own desperate course: for by such conduct they exclude themselves from the Church: because, whoever says that lie will see the Church destroyed before he will permit its reformation, or suffer it to give way in any point, confesses at the same time, plainly and openly, that he is neither a Christian nor will belong to the Church, which he will give up in order to aggrandize and exalt himself.

In ancient times not only bishops but every private Christian surrendered themselves to martyrdom, and resigned their lives With thankfulness and cheerfulness for very love to the Church. Such devotedness yet lives in believers. And the Redeemer yielded Himself to death for the sake of His own Church, to perpetuate it in his own person. But what think ydu of these present Churchchampions? They are determined to stand —the Church must go! What must We do to extricate ourselves from this danger? Should the Church be destroyed, then must the Saviour be first removed altogether, upon whom it is built like as on a rock against the gates of hell? Should the Saviour be abolished, then the Almighty, too, must first cease to exist, who laid such rock and foundation? According to this view of the case, the papal lords must be far, far mightier than the gates of hell and all the impious spirits, against which the Church does yet stand and must continue. But long indeed have we been greeted with the word " Church! Church!" because we will not believe them to be the Church, and listen to them as its representatives. If the last and perilous days were not at hand, it would have been wonderful, indeed, if heaven and earth did not fall and mingle together to crush the prevailing impiety; and, since such things are permitted to go on, the catastrophe cannot be far off. Such. an expectation of hastening

judgment is received with ridicule: men are far from supposing that the divine anger has inflicted on them judicial blindness: the many regard themselves as in possession of consummate wisdom and firmness. But I for one am greatly alarmed at the signs of impending judgments, which I see ready to fall on others. It is high time for us to mourn and supplicate with earnestness, as Jesus did in behalf of Jerusalem, when He forbad the women to weep for Him, and recommended to mourn for themselves and for their children; for now they do not believe the time of their visitation to be at hand; neither will they be persuaded of it, although they may almost see, hear, touch, handle, and feel it. What, then, must be the course we are to pursue, if the papal father prohibits us from calling a proper council, and consents to no reformation? What! if he has cast himself out of the Church to exalt his own self, and avoid going down to ruin with it? If he is come to this, that he has taken a farewell of the Church, what then, I ask, is to be done? What steps are to be taken— that is, if we are deserted by the pontiff? For are we the Church or in the Church, which the Romanists will suffer to fall that they may continue? Are we, therefore, earnestly bent upon being preserved, and confident that, under the patronage of our Lord, and His Father and God, we shall never be ruined in a miserable manner to the joy of our adversaries? Thus we plainly see that a council or reformation is absolutely necessary for the Church from the evidence of such vast abuses: indeed, we should be scarcely beyond the brutes in understanding to drop all thought, as rational beings and Christians, were we unable to detect the corruptions of the Church with our eyes or ears; for we could not fail, as animals, to feel them with our feet and claws, and stumble upon them. But how may we effect it? We, who are the prostrated Church, should ourselves hold a council and attempt a reformation in spite of the pontiff and his prohibition, when such reformation would apparently be deemed hopeless by the young lords who hold the ascendant—and would they, for their parts, consent and put up with it? Nevertheless, we will address ourselves to our projected undertaking, though we have lost its most holy head in the papal father, and must depend upon our own counsels, so far as our Lord will supply us with wisdom.

Martin Luther.

Won ten Comtltt's! untr Mivtbtnt

COUNCILS AND CHUBCHES.


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