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The Father William Most Collection

Luther's Morals

(The first two items were checked in standard editions of Luther's works directly. The 5 items beneath are cited from P. F. O'Hare, The Facts About Luther (Tan, Rockford, 1987). O'Hare seems to have worked carefully, and gives exact references for everything. Yet it is important to check things against the standard editions. The last five items have not yet been checked, hard to find a copy of De Wette).

1. Letter to Melanchthon, August 1,1521 (American Edition, Luther's Works, vol. 48,pp.281-82, edited by H. Lehmann, Fortress, 1963): "If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true [p.282] and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.... as long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin.... No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day."(emphasis added).

2. Letter 501 to Melanchthon: "Pecca fortiter, sed crede fortius." In the light of the standard version of the first item above, we render: "Sin boldly (or bravely) but believe still more boldly (or bravely)."

***

1. "We must remove the Decalogue [ten commandments] out of sight and heart."(De Wette, 4, 188--cited in P. F. O'Hare, The Facts About Luther, Rockford, 1987, p. 311 --De Wette was a protestant scholar who collected the most significant sayings of Luther in several volumes).

2. "They are fools who attempt to overcome temptations [to lust] by fasting, prayer and chastisement. For such temptations and immoral attacks are easily overcome when there are plenty of maidens and women" (Cited from O'Hare p. 311).

3. "I sit here in idleness and pray, alas, little, and sigh not for the Church of God. Much more am I consumed by the fires of my unbridled flesh. In a word, I who should burn of the spirit, am consumed by the flesh, and by lasciviousness" (De Wette 2.22; cited in O'Hare p.3l4.

4. "I burn with a thousand flames in my unsubdued flesh: I feel myself carried on with rage towards women that approaches madness. I who ought to be fervent in spirit, am only fervent in impurity." (Table Talk; cited in O'Hare p. 315).

5. On Nov. 25, 1521 he wrote to the Augustinians in Wittenberg: "With how much pain and labor did I scarcely justify my conscience that I alone should proceed against the Pope, hold him for Antichrist, and the bishops for his apostles. How often did my heart punish me and reproach me with this strong argument: "Art thou alone wise? Could all the others err and have erred for a long time? How if thou errest and leadest into error so many people who would all be damned forever?" (De Wette, 2.107, cited in O'Hare p.195).

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