Catechism. Every morning, and whenever else I have time, I read and recite word for word the Lord’s. Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Psalms,

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THE LARGE CATECHISM INTRODUCTION TO THE LARGE CATECHISM Once the Evangelical churches had achieved some ext ernal stability, the need was to strengthen them internally. Luther had already produced a number of sermons and pamphlets, beginning as far back as 1516, to present popular instruction on basic elements of Christian doctrine. In 1525 he assigned to his friends Justus Jonas and John Agricola the task of composing a book of religious instruction for children, which he referred to as a ficatechism.fl When this work suffered delay, as did also an attempt in 1528 by Philip Melanchthon, Luther took the initiative again. He assigned to Melanchthon the composition of the fiInstruction to the Visitors of the Clergy in the Electorate of Saxonyfl (1528) while he himself undert ook the preparation of a catechism. The immediate background material consists of three series of sermons which Luther preached in May, September, and November-December, 1528, and March, 1529. Before these sermons were ended Luther was at work writing the Large Catechism. Pa rts of it were sent to the press before the whole was completed, which helps to explain the discrepancies in the text of the Ten Commandments. In April, 1529, the fiGerman Catechismfl appeared, printed by George Rhaw in Wittenberg. (The title fiLarge Catechismfl is not Luther™s.) Later th e same year Luther issued a revised edition which added an fiExhortation to Confession,fl a lengthy insertion in the introduction to the explanation of the Lord™s Prayer, and several marginal notes. This edition was the first to be illustrated, some of the cuts coming from Lucas Cranach the Elder. Another edition appeared in 1530, furnished with a second and longer preface which had probably been composed at the Coburg. The last revision corrected by Luther himself came out in 1538. A Latin translation of the Large Catechism appeared in 1529 and a second edition in 1544, the work of a humanist, Vincent Obsopoeus, who undertook to make of it a stylistic showpiece by adorning it with classical citations and allusions to ancient history. Otherwise it is generally a slavish translation of Luther™s German. It was not necessary, therefore, to reproduce here the Latin variations om the German text. fr MARTIN LUTHER™S PREFACE11 It is not for trivial reasons that we constantly treat the Catechism and strongly urge others to do the same. For we see to our sorrow that many pastors and preachers 2 are very negligent in this respect and despise both their office and this teaching itself . Some because of their great and lofty learning, others because of sheer laziness and gluttony, behave in this matter as if they were pastors or preachers for their bellies™ sake and had nothing to do but live off the fat of the land all their days, as they used to do under the papacy. 2 Everything that they are to teach and preach is now available to them in clear and simple form in the many excellent books which are in reality what the old manuals claimed in their titles to be: fiSermons That Preach Themselves,fl fiSleep Soundly,fl fiPrepared!fl and fiTreasury.fl 3 However, they are not so upright and honest as to buy these books, or if they have them, to examine and read them. Such shameful gluttons and servan ts of their bellies would make better swineherds or dogkeepers than spiritual guides or pastors.

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3 Now that they are free from the usele ss, bothersome babbling of the Seven Hours, 4 it would be fine if every morning, noon, and evening they would read, instead, at least a page or two from the Catechism, the Prayer Book, 5 the New Testament, or something el se from the Bible and would pray the Lord™s Prayer for themselves and their pari shioners. In this way they might show honor and gratitude to the Gospel, through which they have been delivered from so many burdens and troubles, and they might feel a little shame because, like pigs and dogs, they remember no more of the Gospel than this rotten, pernicio us, shameful, carnal liberty. 4 As it is, the common people take the Gospel altogether too lightly, and even our utmost exertions accomplish but little. What, then, can we expect if we are sluggish and lazy, as we used to be under the papacy? 5 Besides, a shameful and insidious plague of se curity and boredom has overtaken us. Many regard the Catechism as a simple, silly teaching which th ey can absorb and master at one reading. After reading it once they toss the book into a corner as if they are ashamed to read it again. (tr-569) 6 Indeed, even among the nobility there are some louts and skinf lints who declare that we can do without pastors and preachers from now on because they have everyt hing in books and can lear n it all by ourselves. So they blithely let parishes fall into decay, and br azenly allow both pastors and preachers to suffer distress and hunger. This is what one can expect of crazy Germans. We Germans have such disgraceful people among us and must put up with them. 7 As for myself, let me say that I, too, am a doctor and a preacher Š yes, and as learned and experienced as any of those who act so high and mighty. Yet I do as a child who is being taught the Catechism. Every morning, and whenever else I have time, I read and recite word for word the Lord™s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Psalms, etc. 8 I must still read and study the Catechism daily, yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must rema in a child and pupil of the Catechism, and I do it gladly. These dainty, fastidious fellows would like quickly, with one reading, to become doctors above all doctors, to know all there is to be known. Well, this, too, is a sure sign that they despise both their office and the people™s souls, yes, even God and his Word. They need not fear a fall, for they have already fallen all too horribly. What they need is to become children and begin learning their ABC™s, which they think they have outgrown long ago. 9 Therefore, I beg these lazy-bellies and presumptuous saints, for God™s sake, to get it into their heads that they are not really and truly such learned and great doctors as they think. I implore them not to imagine that they have learned these parts of th e Catechism perfectly, or at least sufficiently, even though they think they know them ever so well. Ev en if their knowledge of Catechism were perfect (though that is impossible in this life), yet it is highly profitable and fruitful daily to read it and make it the subject of meditation and conve rsation. In such reading, conversation, and meditation the Holy Spirit is present and bestows ever new and greater light and fervor, so that day by day we relish and appreciate the Catechism more greatly. This is according to Christ™s promise in Matt. 18:20, fiWhere two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.fl 10 Nothing is so effectual against the devil, the world, the flesh, and all evil thoughts as to occupy oneself with the Word of God, ta lk about it, and meditate on it. Psalm 1 calls those blessed who fimeditate on God™s law day and night.fl 6 You will never offer up any incense or other savor more potent (tr-571) against the devil than to occupy yourself with God™s commandments and words and to speak, sing, and meditate on them. This, indeed, is th e true holy water, the sign which routs the devil and puts him to flight.711 For this reason alone you should eagerly read, recite, ponder, and practice the Catechism, even if the only blessing and benefit you obtain from it is to rout the devil and evil thoughts. For he cannot bear to hear God™s Word. God™s Word is not like some empty tale, such as the one about Dietrich of

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Bern,8 but as St. Paul says in Rom. 1:16 , it is fithe power of God,fl indeed, the power of God which burns the devil and gives us immeasurable strength, comfort, and help. 12 Why should I waste words? Time and paper would fail me if I were to recount all the blessings that flow from God™s Word. The devil is called the master of a thousa nd arts. What, then, shall we call God™s Word, which routs and destroys this master of a thousand arts with all his wiles and might? It must, indeed, be master of mo re than a hundred thousand arts. 13 Shall we frivolously despise this might, blessing, power, and fruit Š especially we who would be pastors and preachers? If so, we deserve not only to be refused food but also to be chased out by dogs and pelted with dung. Not only do we need God™s Word daily as we need our daily bread; we also must use it daily against the daily, incessant attacks and ambushes of the devil with his thousand arts. 14 If this were not enough to admonish us to read the Catechism dail y, there is God™s command. That alone should be incentive enough. Deut. 6:7, 8 solemnly enjoins that we should always meditate upon his precepts whether sitting, walking, standing, lying down, or rising, and keep them before our eyes and in our hands as a constant token and sign. Certainly God did not require and command this so solemnly without good reason. He knows our danger and need. He knows the constant and furious attacks and assaults of the devil. So he wishes to warn, equip, and protect us against them with good fiarmorfl against their fiflaming darts,fl 9 and with a good antidote against their evil infection and poison. 15 O what mad, senseless fools we are! We must ever live and dw ell in the midst of such mighty enemies as the devils, and yet we despise our wea pons and armor, too lazy to give them a thought! 16 Look at these bored, presumptuous saints who will not or cannot read and study the Catechism daily. They evidently consider themselves much wiser than (tr-573) God himself, and wiser than all his holy angels, prophets, apostles, and all Christians! G od himself is not ashamed to teach it daily, for he knows of nothing better to teach, and he always keeps on teaching this one thing without varying it with anything new or different. All the saints know of nothing better or different to learn, though they cannot learn it to perfection. Are we not most marvel ous fellows, therefore, if we imagine, after reading or hearing it once, that we know it all and need not read or study it any more? Most marvelous fellows, to think we can finish learning in one hour what God himself cannot fi nish teaching! Actually, he is busy teaching it from the beginning of the world to the end, and all prophets and saints have been busy learning it and have always remain ed pupils, and must continue to do so. 17 This much is certain: anyone who knows the Ten Commandments perfectly knows the entire Scriptures. In all affairs and circumstances he can counsel, help, comf ort, judge, and make decisions in both spiritual and temporal matters. He is qualified to sit in judgment upon all doctrines, estates, persons, laws, and everything else in the world. 18 What is the whole Psalter but meditations a nd exercises based on the First Commandment? Now, I know beyond a doubt that such lazy-bellies and presumptuous fellows do not understand a single Psalm, much less the entire Scriptur es, yet they pretend to know and despise the Catechism, which is a brief compend and summary of all the Holy Scriptures. 19 Therefore, I once again implore all Christians, es pecially pastors and preachers, not to try to be doctors prematurely and to imagine that they kn ow everything. Vain imaginations, like new cloth, suffer shrinkage! Let all Christians exercise themse lves in the Catechism daily, and constantly put it into practice, guarding themselves with the greates t care and diligence against the poisonous infection of such security or vanity. Let them continue to read and teach, to learn and meditate and ponder. Let them never stop until they have proved by experience that they have taught the devil to death and have become wiser than God himself and all his saints. 20 If they show such diligence, then I promise th em Š and their experience will bear me out Š that they will gain much fruit and God will make excelle nt men of them. Then in due time they themselves

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will make the noble confession that the longer they wo rk with the Catechism, the less they know of it and the more they have to learn. Only then, hungry and thirsty, will they truly relish what now they cannot bear to smell because they are so bloated and surfeited. To this end may God grant his grace! men. A (tr-575) PREFACE11 This sermon has been undertak en for the instruction of children and uneducated people. Hence from ancient times it has been called in Greek, a ficatechismfl Š that is, instruction for children. 2 Its contents represent the minimum of knowledge re quired of a Christian. Whoever does not possess it should not be reckoned among Christians nor admitted to a sacrament, 2 just as a craftsman who does not know the rules and practices of his craft is rejected and considered incompetent. 3 For this reason young people should be thoroughly instructed in the various parts of the Catechism or children™s sermons and diligently drilled in their practice. 4 Therefore, it is the duty of every head of a household to examine his children and servants at least once a week and ascertain what they have learned of it, and if they do not know it, to keep them faithfully at it. 5 I well remember the time when there were old people who were so ignorant that they knew nothing of these things Š indeed, even now we find them daily Š yet they come to Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar and exercise all the ri ghts of Christians, although those who come to the sacrament ought to know more and have a fuller unders tanding of all Christian doctrine than children and beginners at school. 6 As for the common people, however, we should be satisfied if they learned the three parts 3 which have been heritage of Christendom from ancient times, though they were rarely taught and treated correctly, so that all who wish to be Christians in fact as well as in name, both young nd old, may be well-trained in them and familiar with them. a I. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF GOD 1 1. You shall have no other gods before me. 2 2. You shall not take the name of God in vain. 3 3. You shall keep the Sabbath day holy. 4 4. You shall honor father and mother. 5 5. You shall not kill. 6 6. You shall not commit adultery. 7 7. You shall not steal. 8 8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.(tr-577) 9 9. You shall not covet your neighbor™s house. 10 10. You shall not covet his wife, man-servant, maid-servant, cattle, or anything that is his.4 II. THE CHIEF ARTICLES OF OUR FAITH 11 I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth: 12 And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried: he descended into hell, the third day he rose from the dead, he ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God, the Father almighty, whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

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13 I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church,5 the communion of saints, the forgiveness f sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. o III. THE PRAYER, OR OUR FATHER, WHICH CHRIST TAUGHT 14 Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgiv e us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; and lead us not into temptati on, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen. 615 These are the most necessary parts of Christian instruction. We should learn to repeat them word for word. 16 Our children should be taught the habit of re citing them daily when they rise in the morning, when they go to their meals, and they go to bed at night; until they repeat them they should not be given anything to eat or drink. 17 Every father has the same duty to his household; he should dismiss man-servants and maid-servants if they do not know these things and are unwilling to learn them. 18 Under no circumstances should a person be tolerate d if he is so rude and unruly that he refuses to learn these three parts in which everything contained in Scripture is comprehended in short, plain, and (tr-579) simple terms, 19 for the dear fathers or apostles, whoever they were,7 have thus summed up the doctrine, life, wisdom, and learning which c onstitute the Christian™s conversation, conduct and concern. 20 When these three parts are understood, we ought also to know what to say about the sacraments which Christ himself instituted. Baptism and the hol y Body and Blood of Christ, according to the texts of Matthew and Mark at the end of their Gospels where they describe how Christ said farewell to his isciples and se nt them forth. d BAPTISM fiGo and teach all nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spiritfl ( Matt. 28:19). fiHe who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemnedfl ( Mark 16:16 ). 22 It is enough for an ordinary person to know this much about Baptism from the Scriptures. The ther sacrament may be dealt with si milarly, in short, simple words ac cording to the text of St. Paul. o THE SACRAMENT [OF THE ALTAR] fiOur Lord Jesus Christ on the night when he was betrayed took bread, gave thanks, and broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‚Take and eat, this is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.™ fiIn the same way also the cup, after supper, sayi ng, ‚This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me™fl ( 1 Cor. 11:23-25). 24 Thus we have, in all, five parts covering the whole of Christian doctrine, which we should constantly teach and require young people to recite word for word. Do not assume that they will learn and retain this teaching from sermons alone. 25 When these parts have been well learned, you may assign them also some Psalms and some hymns, 8 based on these subjects, to supplement and confirm their knowledge. Thus our youth will be led into the Scriptures so they make progress daily.

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26 However, it is not enough for them simply to learn and repeat these parts verbatim. The young people should also attend preaching, especially at the time designated for the Catechism, 9 so that they may hear it explained and may learn the meaning of (tr-581) every part. Then they will also be able to repeat what they have heard and give a good, correct answer when they are questioned, and thus the preaching will not be without benefit and fruit. 27 The reason we take such care to preach on the Catechism frequently is to impress it upon our youth, not in a lofty and learned manner but briefly and very simply, so that it may penetrate deeply into their minds and remain fixed in their memories. 28 Now we shall take up the above-mentioned parts one by one and in the plainest possible manner say bout them as much as is necessary. a [FIRST PART:] THE TEN COMMANDMENTS THE FIRST COMMANDMENT fiYou shall have no other gods.fl 1 That is, you shall regard me alone as your God. What does this mean, and how is it to be understood? What is to have a god? What is God? 2 Answer: A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need. To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe him with our whol e heart. As I have often said, the trust and faith of the hear t alone make both God and an idol. 3 If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true God. On the other hand, if your trust is false and wrong, then you have not the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God. That to which your heart clings and entrusts itself is, I say, really your God. 4 The purpose of this commandment, th erefore, is to require true faith and confidence of the heart, and these fly straight to the one true God and cling to him alone. The me aning is: fiSee to it that you let me alone be your God, and never seek another.fl In other words: fiWhatever good thing you lack, look to me for it and seek it from me, and whenever y ou suffer misfortune and dist ress, come and cling to me. I am the one who will satisfy you and help you out of every need. Only let your heart cling to no one else.fl 5 This I must explain a little more plainly, so that it may be understood and remembered, by citing some common examples of failure to observe th is commandment. Many a person thinks he has God and everything he needs when he has money and propert y; in them he trusts and of them he boasts so stubbornly and securely that he cares for no one. 6 Surely such a man also has a god Š mammon 1 by name, that is, money and possessions (tr-583) Š on which he fixes his whole heart. It is the most common idol on earth. 7 He who has money and property feels secure, happy, fearless, as if he were sitting in the midst of paradise. 8 On the other hand, he who has nothing doubts and despairs as if he never heard of God. 9 Very few there are who are cheerful, who do not fret and complain, if they do not have mammon. This desire for wealth clings and cleaves to our nature all the way to the grave. 10 So, too, if anyone boasts of great learning, wisdom, power, prestige, family, and honor, and trusts in them, he also has a god, but not the one, true God. Notice, again, how presumptuous, secure, and proud people become because of such possessions , and how despondent when they lack them or are deprived of them. Therefore, I repeat, to have a God properly means to have something in which the heart trusts completely. 11 Again, consider what we used to do in our blindness under the papacy. If anyone had a toothache, he fasted to the honor of St. Apollonia; if he feared fire, he sought St. Lawrence as his patron; if he feared the plague, he made a vow to St. Sebastian or Roch. 2 There were countless other

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we receive all that is good and by whom we are delivered from all evil. 25 This, I think, is why we Germans from ancient times have called God by a name more elegant and worthy than any found in other languages, a name derived from the word figoodfl 5 because he is an eternal fountain which overflows with sheer goodness and pours forth all that is good in name and in fact. 26 Although much that is good comes to us from men, we receive it all from God through his command and ordinance. Our parents and all authoritie s Š in short, all people placed in the position of neighbors Š have received the command to do us all kinds of good. So we receive our blessings not from them, but from God through them. Creatures are only the ha nds, channels, and means through which God bestows all blessings. For example, he gives to the mother breasts and milk for her infant, and he gives grain and all kinds of fruits from the earth for man™s nourishment Š things which no creature could produce by himself. 27 No one, therefore, should presume to take or give anything except as God has commanded it. We must acknowle dge everything as God™s gifts and thank him for them, as this commandment requires. Therefore, th is way of receiving good through God™s creatures is not to be disdained, nor are we arrogantly to seek other ways and means than God has commanded, for that would be not receiving our blessings from God but seeking them from ourselves. 28 Let everyone, then, take care to magnify and exalt this commandment a bove all things and not make light of it. Search and examine your own heart thoroughly and you will find whether or not it clings to God alone. Do you have the kind of heart that expects from him nothing but good, especially in distress and want, and renounces and forsakes all that is not God? Then you have the one true God. On the contrary, does your heart cling to something else, from which it hopes to receive more good and help than from God, and does it flee not to him but from him when things go wrong? Then you have an idol, another god. (tr-589) 29 Consequently, in order to show that God w ill not have this commandment taken lightly but will strictly watch over it, he has attached to it, first, a terrible th reat and, then, a beautiful, comforting promise. These should be thoroughly stressed an d impressed upon young people so that they may take them to heart and remember them. [EXPLANATION OF THE APPENDIX TO THE FIRST COMMANDMENT ]630 fiFor I am the Lord your God, mighty and jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing mercy to many thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.fl 731 Although these words apply to all the commandments (as we shall hear later), 8 yet they are attached precisely to this one which stands at the head of the list because it is of the utmost importance for a man to have the right head. For where the head is right, the whole life must be right, and vice versa. 32 Learn from these words, then, how angry God is with those who rely on anything but himself, and again, how kind and gracious he is to those who trust and believe him alone with their whole heart. His wrath does not abate until the fourth generation. 33 On the other hand, his kindness and goodness extend to many thousands, lest men live in security and commit themse lves to luck, like brutes who think that it makes no great difference how they live. 34 He is a God who takes vengeance upon men who turn away from him, and his anger continue s to the fourth generati on, until they are utterly exterminated. Therefore he wills to be feared and not to be despised. 35 This he has witnessed in all the records of history, as Scripture amply shows and as daily experience can still teach us. From the beginning he has completely root ed out all idolatry, and on that account he has destroyed both heathen and Jews; just so in our day he overthrows all false worship so that all who persist in it must ultimately perish. 36 Even now there are proud, powerful, and rich pot-

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bellies who, not caring whether God frowns or smiles, boast defiantly of their mammon and believe that they can withstand his wrath. But they will no t succeed. Before they know it they will be wrecked, along with all they have trusted in, just as all others have perished who thought themselves to be so high and mighty. 37 Just because such blockheads imagine, when God refrains from (tr-591) disturbing their security, that he is unconcerned or uninterested in such matters, he must strike and punish them so severely that he will not forget his anger down to their children ™s children. He intends that everyone shall be impressed and see that this is no laughing matter with him. 38 These are also the people he means when he says, fiwho hate me,fl that is, those who persist in their stubbornness and pride. They refuse to hear what is preached or spoken to them. When they ar e rebuked, to bring them to their senses and cause them to mend their ways before punishment descends, they become so mad and foolish that they justly merit the wrath they receive. We observe this every day in the case of bishops and princes. 39 Terrible as these threats are, much mightier is the comfort in the promise that assures mercy to those who cling to God alone Š sheer goodness and blessing, not only for themselves but also for their children to a thousand and even many thousands of generations. 40 Certainly, if we desire all good things in time and eternity, this ought to move an d impel us to fix our hearts upon God with perfect confidence since the divine Majesty comes to us with so gracious an offer, so cordial an invitation, and so rich a promise. 41 Therefore let everyone be careful not to regard this as if it were spoken by man. For it brings you either eternal blessing, happiness, and salvation, or eternal wrath, mi sery, and woe. What more could you ask or desire than God™s gracious promise th at he will be yours with every blessing and will protect and help you in every need? 42 The trouble is that the world does not believe this at all, and does not recognize it as God™s Word. For the worl d sees that those who trust God and not mammon suffer grief and want and are opposed and attacked by the devil. They have neither money, prestige, nor honor, and can scarcely even keep alive; meanwhile, those who serve mammon have power, prestige, honor, wealth, and every comfort in the eyes of the world. Accordingly, we must grasp these words, even in the face of this apparent contradict ion, and learn that they neither lie nor deceive but will yet prove to be true. 43 Reflect on the past, search it out, and tell me, When men have devoted all their care and diligence to scraping together grea t wealth and money, what have they gained in the end? You will find that they have wasted their effort and toil or, if they have amasse d great treasures, that these have (tr-593) turned to dust and vanished. They themselves have never found happiness in their wealth, nor has it ever lasted to the third generation. 9 44 Examples of this you will find aplenty in all histories and in the recollections of elderly and experienced people. Just ponder and heed them. 45 Saul was a great king, chosen by God, and an upright man; but once he was secure on his throne and he let his heart depart from God, placing his confidence in his crown and power, he inevitably perished with all that he had; not one of his children remained. 1 46 David, on the other hand, was a poor, despised man, hunted down and persecuted, his life nowhere secure, yet inevitably he remained safe from Saul and became king.2 These words must stand and prove to be true sin ce God cannot lie or deceive; just leave it to the devil and the world to deceive you with their appear ance, which indeed endures for a time but in the end is nothing!347 Let us therefore learn the first commandmen t well and realize that God will tolerate no presumption and no trust in any other object; he makes no greater demand of us than a hearty trust in him for all blessings. Then we shall be on the righ t path and walk straight ahead, using all of God™s gifts exactly as a cobbler uses his needle, awl, and thread (for work, eventually to lay them aside) or as

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a traveler avails himself of an i nn, food, and bed (only for his temporal need). Let each person be in his station in life according to God™s order, allowing none of these good things to be his lord or idol. 48 Let this suffice for the First Commandment. We had to explain it at length since it is the most important. For, as I said before, 4 where the heart is right with G od and this commandment is kept, lfillment of all the others will follow of its own accord. fu THE SECOND COMMANDMENT 49 fiYou shall not take the name of God in vain.fl 50 As the First Commandment has inwardly inst ructed the heart and ta ught faith, so this commandment leads us outward and directs the lips and the tongue into the right relation to God. The first things that issue and emerge from the heart are words. As I have taught above how to answer the question, What it is to have a God, so you must learn (tr-595) to grasp simply the meaning of this and all the other commandments and apply them to yourself. 51 If you are asked, fiHow do you understand the Second Commandment? What does it mean to misuse or take the name of God in vain?fl you should answer briefly: fiIt is a misuse of God™s name if we call upon the Lord God in any way whatsoever to support falsehood or wrong of any kind.fl Therefore what this commandment forbids is appea ling to God™s name falsel y or taking his name upon our lips when our heart knows or should know that the facts are otherwise Š for example, where men take oaths in court and one side lies against the other. 52 God™s name cannot be more grievously abused than for purposes of falsehood and deceit. Let this stand as the plain and simple meaning of this commandment. 53 From this everyone can readily infer when and in how many ways God™s name is abused, though it is impossible to enumerate all it s misuses. To discuss it briefly, mi suse of the divine name occurs most obviously in worldly business and in matte rs involving money, property, and honor, whether publicly in court or in the market or elsewhere, when a person perjures himself, swearing by God™s name or by his own soul. This is especially comm on in marriage matters when two persons secretly betroth themselves to each othe r and afterward deny it under oath. 54 The greatest abuse, however, occurs in spiritual matters, which pertain to the conscience, when false preachers arise and peddle their lying nonsense as the Word of God. 55 See, all this is an attempt to embellish yoursel f with God™s name or to put up a good front and justify yourself, whether in ordinary worldly affairs or in sublime a nd difficult matters of faith and doctrine. Also to be counted among liars are blas phemers, not only the very crass ones who are well known to everyone and who disgrace God™s name unabashedly (these belong in the hangman™s school, not ours), but also those who publicly slander the truth and God™s Word and consign it to the devil. Of this there is no need to speak further. 56 Let us take to heart how important this commandment is and diligently shun and avoid every misuse of the holy name as the greatest sin that ca n be committed outwardly. For to lie and deceive is in itself a gross sin, but it is greatly aggravated when we attempt to justify and confirm (tr-597) it by invoking God™s name and using it as a cloak to cover our shame. So from a single lie a double one results Š indeed, manifold lies. 57 Therefore God has attached to this commandment a solemn threa t: fifor the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.fl This m eans that in no one shall a violation be condoned or left unpunished. As little as God will permit the h eart that turns away from him to go unpunished, so little will he permit his name to be used to gloss over a lie. 58 Unfortunately it is now a common

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