BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi


Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller


The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll


Martin Luther on the bondage of the will

by Martin Luther

Excerpt:

I consider, (as in courtesy bound,) that these things are asserted by you from a benevolent mind, as being a lover of peace. But if any one else had asserted them, I should, perhaps, have attacked him in my accustomed manner. But however, I must not even allow you, though so very good in your intentions, to err in this opinion. For not to delight in assertions, is not the character of the Christian mind: nay, he must delight in assertions, or he is not a Christian. But, (that we may not be mistaken in terms) by assertion, I mean a constant adhering, affirming, confessing, defending, and invincibly persevering. Nor do I believe the term signifies any thing else, either among the Latins, or as it is used by us at this day.

And moreover, I speak concerning the asserting of those things, which are delivered to us from above in the holy scriptures. Were it not so, we should want neither Erasmus nor any other instructor to teach us, that, in things doubtful, useless, or unnecessary; assertions, contentions, and strivings, would be not only absurd, but impious: and Paul condemns such m more places than one. Nor do you, I believe, speak of these things, unless, as a ridiculous orator, you wish to take up one subject, and go on with another, as the Roman Emperor did with his Turbot; or, with the madness of a wicked writer, you wish to contend, that the article concerning Free-will is doubtful, or not necessary.

Be sceptics and academics far from us Christians; but be there with us assertors twofold more determined than the stoics themselves. How often does the apostle Paul require that assurance of faith; that is, that most certain, and most firm assertion of Conscience, calling it, Rom. x., confession, "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation?" And Christ also saith, "Whosoever confesseth me before men, him Will I confess before my Father." Peter commands us to "give a reason of the hope" that is in us. But why should I dwell upon this; nothing is more.known and more general among Christians than assertions. Take away assertions, and you take away Christianity. Nay, the Holy Spirit is given unto them from heaven, that he may glorify Christ, and confess him even unto death; unless this be not to assert—to die for confession and assertion. In a word, the Spirit so asserts, that he comes upon the whole world and reproves them of sin; thus, as it were, provoking to battle. And Paul enjoins Timothy to reprove, and to be instant out of season. But how ludicrous to me would be that reprover, who should neither really believe that himself, of which he reproved, nor constantly assert it!—Why I would send him to Anticyra, to be cured.

But I am the greatest fool, who thus lose words and time upon that, which is clearer than the sun. What Christian would bear that assertions should be contemned? This would be at once to deny all piety and religion together; or to assert, that religion, piety, and every doctrine, is nothing at all. Why therefore do you too say, that you do not delight in assertions, and that you prefer such a mind to any other?

But you would have it understood that you have said nothing here concerning confessing Christ, and his doctrines.—I receive the admonition. And, in courtesy to you, I give up my right and custom, and refrain from judging of your heart, reserving that for another time, or for others. In the mean time, I admonish you to correct your tongue, and your pen, and to refrain henceforth from using such expressions. For, how upright and honest soever your heart may be, your words, which are the index of the heart, are not so. For, if you think the matter of Free-will is not necessary to be known, nor at all concerned with Christ, you speak honestly, but think wickedly: but, if you think it is necessary, you speak wickedly, and think rightly. And if so, then there is no room for you to complain and exaggerate so much concerning useless assertions and contentions: for what have they to do with the nature of the cause?

Sect. II.—But what will you say to these your declarations, when, be it remembered, they are not confined to Free-will only, but apply to all doctrines in general throughout the world—that, " if it were permitted you, by the inviolable authority of the sacred writings and decrees of the church, you would go over to the sentiments of the sceptics ?"—

What an all-changeable Proteus is there in these expressions, " inviolable authority" and " decrees of the church!" As though you could have so very great a reverence for the scriptures and the church, when at the same time you signify, that you wish you had the liberty of being a sceptic! What Christian would talk in this way? But if you say this in reference to useless and doubtful doctrines, what news is there in what you say? Who, in such things, would not wish for the liberty of the sceptical profession? Nay, what Christian is there who does not actually use this liberty freely, and condemn all those who are drawn away with, and captivated by every opinion? Unless you consider all Christians to be such (as the term is generally understood) whose doctrines are useless, and for which they quarrel like fools, and contend by assertions. But if you speak of necessary things, what declaration more impious can any one make, than that he wishes for the liberty of asserting nothing in such matters? Whereas, the Christian will rather say this—I am so averse to the sentiments of the sceptics, that wherever I am not hindered by the infirmity of the flesh, I will not only steadily adhere to the sacred writings every where, and in all parts of them, and assert them, but I wish also to be as certain as possible in things that are not necessary, and that lie without the scripture: for what is more miserable than uncertainty?


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