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Words from GOD – Words to GOD

Der Heidelberger Katechismus mit Fragen und Antrowrten in deutsch (Following English)- via LAD Rosary



Raffael, The Resurrection of Christ




INTRODUCTION: Concerning the Catechisms of the Reformation, with especial reference to the Heidelberg Catechism
I. Luther’s Little Catechism
II. Calvin’s Catechism
III. The Anglican Catechism
IV. The Heidelberg Catechism
V. John Craig’s Catechism
VI. The Westminster Shorter Catechism

The Introductory Questions
Der erste Teil: Von des Menschen Elend
Der zweite Teil: Von des Menschen Erlösung
Der dritte Teil: Von der Dankbarkeit



THERE were Reformers before the Reformation—morning stars shining here and there out of the darkness before the sun rose to usher in the brightness of the day. But everyone knows that the Reformation itself began when Martin Luther nailed his Theses to the gate of Wittenberg Church on the All Saints’ Eve of 1517. Multitudes may have thought, what he proclaimed then to the world, that “it is a lamentable error for anyone to imagine that he can make satisfaction for his sins, because God always forgives gratuitously, requiring nothing in return but holy living.” But to have the wit to say what others are only thinking is what raises men to the rank of poets or philosophers; and to have the courage to say what others have simply the courage to think is what enrols men among reformers or martyrs, or, as happens very often, gains for them not one of these thorny crowns but both. So it was one of the great days of history when the Augustinian monk published openly the truth that God’s salvation, like His sunshine and rain, comes to us without money and without price.
The Reformation had been inaugurated; but it was established only by slow degrees. As in the individual heart there is first an instantaneous transition from death to life, and afterwards a progressive growth, so, in the religious experience of the young Protestant communities, there followed, when the decisive step had once been taken, an enlightening and strengthening process. Year by year they became better acquainted with the old-new faith which they had professed. One method especially their leaders adopted for their instruction. It was not altogether a new method. At an early period in the history of the Church, catechetical teaching had been imparted to the converts who had renounced heathenism and been baptized. But during the Middle Ages the duty had been neglected. When the Reformers set themselves to compose their Catechisms, in which by question and answer the cardinal doctrines of their creed were explained and enforced, they may not have done an absolutely original thing. But they revived a wholesome custom which had fallen almost universally into desuetude.
It should be neither uninteresting nor unprofitable to recall, in some superficial way, what they accomplished by this method for the advancement of truth and righteousness.


It is natural to begin with Martin Luther himself.
Twelve years after the October day on which the burghers of Wittenberg heard the strokes of his hammer, and read the Theses which gave John Tetzel and Pope Leo such trouble, he published his Little Catechism. He had been travelling through Saxony at the request of the Elector John, inquiring into the social and religious condition of the people. He found much to sadden him; on every side there were abuses which would require both a strong hand and a considerate heart to rectify. Chiefly he was distressed by the want of knowledge, the darkness which might be felt. The peasantry and the townsfolk seemed destitute of all intellectual and spiritual culture. As he went from place to place, the resolution grew stronger in him that he must make some determined effort to banish this brooding midnight; and gradually he came to see how the end would best be attained. When he was at home again, he sat down to compose, not a commentary or a controversial treatise, but two Catechisms for the people—a Larger and a Smaller. The Larger grew under his hands until it was more elaborate than he intended it to be; but the Smaller was admirably fitted for the purpose its author had in view. Very soon no book was better known or better loved throughout Germany than Dr. Luther’s Kleiner Katechismus. “It might be bought for sixpence,” Justus Jonas said, “but six thousand worlds would not pay for it.” And another friend avowed that “a better book next to the Bible the sun never saw, for indeed it was the juice and blood, the aim and the substance, of the Bible.” It was in the spring of 1529 that Luther gave it to the world.
The Catechism begins with the Commandments, which are explained in very simple language. It passes to the Apostles’ Creed, which it regards as dealing with three subjects—Creation, Redemption, and Sanctification. The Lord’s Prayer occupies the third division; and two sections follow, one treating of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, the other of the Sacrament of the Altar, as Luther termed the Lord’s Supper. This was the whole, as the book was first published; but to the third edition were added some questions on Confession, and some liturgical forms which those who sought absolution might use when they were with the father-confessor. From first to last, there are not more than fifty questions.
Few of the Reformer’s writings were more useful. Like the gospel, this book might enter in at lowly doors. It contains strong food for strong men, and yet milk for babes; for Luther had the enviable faculty of being able to express the deepest things in the plainest words. Let us suppose ourselves in some village of Saxony or Thuringia, on a Sabbath morning, a few years after the Catechism saw the light. Already the children are gathering to the church. They have sung a hymn in Latin or in German; and now their pastor is putting to them Dr. Luther’s questions. If we listen, we shall find that there is not one of the answers they repeat which they will feel too high or too hard.
They have come, it may be, to the part which deals with the Creed. “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,” the clear young voices say; and the minister asks: “What does this mean?” Immediately the answer is returned: “I believe that God has created me and all that exists; that He has given and still preserves to me body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason and all my senses; and also clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home; that He provides me richly and daily with all the needful things of life, protects me from all danger, and preserves and guards me against all evil; and all this out of pure fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine. For all which I am in duty bound to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.” And now the children repeat: “I believe in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord.” Again the question is asked: “What does this mean?” and the reply is: “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true Man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord; who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, secured and delivered me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with His holy precious blood, and with His innocent sufferings and death; in order that I may be His own, and may live under Him in His kingdom, and may serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness; even as He is risen from the dead and lives and reigns for ever. This is most certainly true.” Once more, the sweet voices ring out: “I believe in the Holy Ghost.” “What does this mean?” the teacher asks, and he gets the response: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength trust in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me through the gospel, enlightened me by His gifts, and hallowed and kept me in the true faith; just as He calls all Christian people on earth, gathers, enlightens, hallows them, and through Jesus keeps them in the true and only faith; among which Christian people He daily forgives richly all sins, to me and all believers; and at the last day will awaken me and all the dead, and to me and all believers in Christ will grant everlasting life. Das ist gewisslich wahr—This is most certainly true.”
Or, perhaps, it is the section of the Catechism which explains the Lord’s Prayer with which clergyman and children are engaged. “Our Father which art in heaven,” they say; and he asks: “What does this mean?” “God will,” they answer, “in this way lovingly persuade us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children; so that we may cheerfully and with all confidence ask of Him, as dear children ask of their dear father.” And, at the close of the prayer: “What does Amen mean?” “That I should be sure such prayers are pleasing to our Father in heaven, and are heard by Him; for He Himself has bidden us thus to pray, and has promised that He will hear us. Amen, Amen: that is, Yes, Yes, so it shall be done. Amen, Amen, das heisst, Ja, Ja, es soll also geschehen.” By and by the minister reaches the last question, which speaks of the Lord’s Supper. “Who, then, receives this Sacrament worthily?” he inquires, and there is surely a solemn hush as the reply comes: “He is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words, Given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins. But he who disbelieves these words, or who doubts, is unworthy and unprepared; for the words For you require true believing hearts.” And so the homely and fruitful service is over, and the children troop away.
These are some of Luther’s questions and answers, and very touching and beautiful they are. When the ground is parched through excessive drought, and men and beasts and birds and trees and flowers can barely live, it is not the great river moving majestically onwards within its well-defined banks that restores the lost fertility. But let the rain descend, or the dew, and there will be a change. Softly the dewdrops come; and quietly, like all God’s agencies, they do their work. But it is effectively done. It touches each plant and blade as if with magical virtue, and everywhere there is again a teeming and jubilant life. Much the same was the influence of Luther’s Katechismus. Scattered far and near, its truths permeated the minds of the German people, awakening the conscience, quickening the intellect, moving the heart. The dry and fruitless season of spiritual ignorance was gone. The living words of the little book had their charm for wise and simple both. Martin Luther himself was pupil of the Catechism as well as parent. When he was tempted by the devil, he often repeated its sentences to himself, or rather, as he said, to God, as an antidote against the fiery darts of the wicked one. “I am a doctor and a preacher,” he wrote, “endowed with no less learning and experience than those who presume so much on their abilities; yet I am like a child who is taught the Catechism; and I read and recite word by word the Ten Commandments, the Articles of the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms; and must remain, and do cheerfully remain, a child and scholar of the Catechism.”
Yet the fact cannot be concealed that Luther’s Catechism has serious defects. In speaking of the Commandments, it follows the division of the Roman Catholic Church, which omits the second, and, to complete the number, divides the tenth into two. It gives too meagre a place to the doctrines of grace for which its author contended with manful energy, and too large a prominence to the Sacraments. It raises Confession to the position of a kind of third Sacrament; for, while Calvin abolished private Confession as mischievous, Luther set a high value on it, believing that it afforded comfort and support against sin and an evil conscience. In the questions, too, which deal with the Lord’s Supper, we have some indications of the theory of Consubstantiation, which Luther maintained at Marburg against Ulrich Zwingli. “What is the Sacrament of the Altar?” one question runs, and the answer is: “It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, given unto us Christians to eat and to drink, as it was instituted by Christ Himself.” We regret that there should be blemishes where there is so much to admire. But we cannot wonder at it. The task of the pioneer is always difficult. Those who come after him do not find their path by any means so hard, and can make greater progress than he did, consolidating results which he has achieved, avoiding mistakes which he has committed, pressing up to heights beyond his reach. But, defective in some respects though his work may be, it has honours which theirs may not claim. He pointed the way. He took the first step, which costs more than all succeeding ones. He initiated the enterprise which they but strive to perfect and consummate.


From the Luther-land we must go next to Geneva—Geneva which John Calvin, in these days of the Reformation, was revolutionising and ennobling.
What a man he was, in some respects the greatest Frenchman who has ever lived! He had a thin small face, we read, with finely-cut features. He was exceedingly neat in his dress. He was accustomed to eat very sparingly. Many a time he has been called hard and cold; but his friends were passionately attached to him. His wife, Idelette de Bure, gravis honestaque femina, loved her husband with her whole heart. The young, too, got on easily and well in his society. And, more than once, those who have come to the study of his character with dislike have lost the aversion as they continued in his company. There is Ernest Renan, for example. This is his verdict: “Lacking that deep and sympathetic ardour which was one of the secrets of Luther’s success, Calvin succeeded in an age and a country which called for a reaction towards Christianity, simply because he was the most Christian man of his generation.” Even “the ranks of Tuscany” are constrained into admiration and approval.
And what a work he did! Geneva was his one monument, Calvinism is the other. This is not the place to speak of the marvellous change which his “spiritual regimen,” needlessly rigorous often, but bracing and salutary in its effects, wrought on the gay and godless town, transforming it into “the garden of the Lord where blood-red roses grew.” We have more to do with the theology which is associated inseparably with his name. Calvinism teaches God’s eternal purpose—the adorable mystery of His election, everlasting and gracious and free. “He hath determined in Himself what He would have to become of every individual of mankind.” It teaches Christ’s atonement and vicarious death. “Out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, He efficaciously redeems all those who were given to Him of the Father.” It teaches man’s impotence and helplessness to do what is good. “A natural man is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.” It teaches the invincible grace of the Holy Ghost, most victorious and yet most sweet. The renewed soul acts because it is acted upon; it moves willingly to God because it is drawn towards Him by His Spirit. And it teaches the perseverance of the saints to the end. “Not by their own merits or strength, but by the gratuitous mercy of God, they obtain it that they neither totally fall from faith and grace, nor finally continue in their falls and perish.” That is Calvinism. And there is truth and force in Mr. Froude’s eulogy: “If Arminianism most commends itself to our feelings, Calvinism is nearer to the facts, however harsh and forbidding those facts may seem.” It had a wide-reaching acceptance. In France, in the Netherlands, in Scotland, in Bohemia, the Reformation was Calvinistic rather than Lutheran. Certainly, too, it bred iron characters and stalwart souls. Its heroes and martyrs are its best certificate.
This was the system which John Calvin expounded in those Institutes of the Christian Religion, which he wrote when he was only twenty-six years of age, and which won for him everywhere the title of the Aristotle of the Reformed Church. It was the system which he broke down into fragments for the children, in the Catechism of Geneva.
Two editions of this Catechism he prepared and published, the earlier in 1536, the second in 1541; and, even then, he was not satisfied with the book, and would fain have re-cast and perfected it—a hope which the thronging labours of his life never allowed him to fulfil. In its later form the Catechism has five parts. Through one hundred and thirty questions its author treats of “The Articles of the Faith,” explaining the Creed in his illuminative and exhaustive fashion. Through fully a hundred questions more he deals with “The Law of God,” unfolding the meaning of the Ten Commandments. The third section has to do with Prayer, the fourth with the Word of God, the fifth with the Sacraments. There are three hundred and seventy-three questions in all, and thus it is a lesson-book much longer than Luther’s, as it is far less homely and childlike. It is not now in actual use in any of the Churches of the Reformation, but, although in this sense it is dead, it continues still to speak—it lives in successors that have drawn much inspiration from its teaching and its method. To their predecessor of Geneva both Heidelberg and Westminster owe not a little.
In Great Britain, John Calvin’s Catechism enjoyed through many years a vigorous and useful life. The English translation was made in 1556; and, south and north of the Tweed alike, it was very soon held by Protestants the best book next to the Bible. “After noone,” says the First Book of Discipline of the Scottish Church, “must the young Children be publicly examined in their Catechism, in the Audience of the People; in doing whereof the Minister must take great diligence, as well to cause the people understand the Questions proponed as the Answers, and the Doctrine that may be collected thereof … Which Catechism is the most perfect that ever yet was used in the Kirk.” Shall we listen to the young Children, as they make reply to their Minister in the Audience of the People? This is how the Catechism of Geneva, Englished from the Latin “by John Crespin,” sets out:—

“Minister. What is the principall and chief end of man’s life?
Childe. To know God.
Minister. What moveth thee to say so?
Childe. Because He hath created us, and placed us in this world, to set foorth His glory in us. And it is good reason that we employ our whole life to His glorie, seeing He is the beginning and fountaine thereof.
Minister. What is then the chief felicitie of man?
Childe. Even the self-same; I meane, to know God, and to have His glorie shewed foorth in us.
Minister. Why doest thou call this man’s chiefe felicitie?
Childe. Because that, without it, our condition or state were more miserable than the state of brute beastes.
Minister. Hereby then wee may evidently see that there can no such miserie come unto man, as not to live in the Knowledge of God?
Childe. That is most certaine.
Minister. But what is the true and right knowledge of God?
Childe. When a man so knoweth God, that he giveth Him due honour.
Minister. Which is the way to honour God aright?
Childe. It is to put our whole trust and confidence in Him; to studie to serve Him in obeying His wil; to call uppon Him in our necessities, seeking our salvation and all good thinges at His hand: and finally to acknowledge both with hearte and mouth that He is the lively fountaine of all goodnesse.”

There is grandeur here, the loftiest and wisest philosophy of human life; but is it not too “great a language” for “the young Children”?


The Anglican Catechism need not detain us long.
It appeared first in 1549, when Edward VI. was king. It was revised in 1604, and again in 1661—not altogether, as will seem to many of us, for the better.
In England Protestantism never became that complete and drastic revolution which it was on the Continent and in Scotland. Partly this was due to the fact that its origin was political rather than religious. Its aim was to liberate throne and kingdom from the suzerainty of the Pope, not to emancipate conscience from the faith which the Pope inculcated. Henry the Eighth was stirred by no profound anxieties with reference to the beliefs his subjects held; but he was earnest in his determination to abolish the rule of the hierarchy over the realm he claimed for his own. He was satisfied when he had substituted Cæsarism for ecclesiasticism, the authority of the Tudors for that of the Roman See. It could not be anything but hurtful to the spiritual health of the English Reformation that these were the circumstances in which it had its inception. Its progress, too, was sadly hindered. So long as it was fostered by Cranmer and Edward VI., it promised well. But its golden age was short-lived. Under Mary, “unhappiest of queens and wives and women,” there came the Papal reaction, when those who clung to Protestantism were driven across the seas or were put to death at home. The accession of Elizabeth brought a change; but the great queen had little religious enthusiasm, and was attached to the Reformed creed mainly because, with shrewd sagacity, she recognised that her interests were identified with its maintenance. As in the case of her father, political expediency governed her policy more than hearty conviction, and she went no further than she was compelled to go. She leaned all along to the churchly and sacramentarian side of things, and Puritanism of every shade received scant encouragement at her Court. These were the difficulties with which the Reformation in England had to contend, and they prevented it from achieving as much as it did in lands where the surroundings were more kindly.
The Anglican Catechism is a proof of this hesitancy and reserve. If it is placed alongside of the Catechisms of Luther and Calvin, the poverty of its contents is very apparent. But its brevity is not its only fault. Those who hold that “the Sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them or in him that doth administer them, but only by the blessing of Christ and the working of His Spirit in them that by faith receive them,” will be more inclined to regret its insistence on the inherent efficacy of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. On each of those occasions when it was modified, it was made to assume a more decidedly ritualistic colouring. Its assertion of Baptismal Regeneration is emphatic and unqualified. “What is your name?” the first question runs, for this Catechism starts from a much more prosaic level than any of its neighbours. Then follows the inquiry: “Who gave you this name?” and, in the answer, the old leaven reveals itself. “My godfathers and godmothers in my baptism; wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” We are not called to enter here on an examination of the theory advocated in these words; we have only to note its presence in one of the manuals of doctrine to which the Reformation gave birth. Many of the master-truths which the sixteenth century recalled to vital energy, after the lethargic slumber of hundreds of years, are clearly stated in the English Catechism. But it does not advance with the bold and firm step of its companions. It likes to keep the ancient landmarks well in sight. It casts a lingering look behind as it bids them farewell.


Leaving England, let us return to Germany, that we may become acquainted with the Catechism which is reprinted in this little book—the most beautiful of all the Catechisms of the Reformation. It came into being at Heidelberg; and the Elector’s preface will fix for us the date of its birth: “Tuesday, the nineteenth day of the month January, in the year of our dear Lord and Saviour Christ one thousand five hundred and sixty-three.”
This was the reason why the Heidelberg Catechism was written and published. Between Martin Luther and John Calvin, having affinities with both of them, but leaning more and more as the years went on to the special tenets of the great Genevan, though he never lost his warmth of personal affection for the doctor of Wittenberg, stood Philip Melanchthon, one of the most lovable as well as most scholarly of the Protestant leaders. He deserves to be called the Reformer of the Palatinate, which had Heidelberg for its capital. He revived the old University of the town, and sent professors to it whom he knew to be in sympathy with the truth. In 1558, one of these professors, Tillemann Heshusius, was appointed to the office of General Superintendent. But he was a violent partisan of the extreme Lutherans in their beliefs about the presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Supper; and his one passionate desire was to bring back the whole of the Palatinate to his way of thinking. It was a foolish attempt to coerce into a Procrustean bed a community in which hitherto there had been no little liberty and tolerance. Everywhere his imprudent zeal awakened dissension and debate and angry feeling. At last Heshusius went so far as to excommunicate his colleague Klebitz, who held Zwinglian views; he snatched the cup out of his hands, and forbade the people to receive the Sacrament from him. Day after day the breach grew wider and sorrowfuller. It seemed as if those who had been friends and fellow-workers in the kingdom of Christ were to be hopelessly sundered from each other.
But, just at this crisis, when the clouds were hanging so ominously in the sky, Frederick of Simmern assumed the electoral dignity—Frederick, whom his subjects surnamed der fromme Kurjürst, the Pious Elector, because they knew that he would forfeit his crown sooner than wound his conscience. It cut him to the quick to note the progress of the unhappy quarrel. He had recourse to every plan which might restore peace, dismissing at length from the University the two principal belligerents, and then applying to Melanchthon for his verdict on the question at issue. A cautious and balanced verdict it was, although it made abundantly evident that its author was now in complete accordance with the ideas of the Swiss Reformers. Soon afterwards, in a decree of August 1560, Frederick avowed himself on the side of Zwingli and Calvin rather than of Luther. And then it was that he determined to have a new Catechism composed, to be sent out with his authority and under his sanction, which should set forth the evangelical faith in terms that none might misunderstand. Out of this storm of conflict within the Church, the Heidelberg Catechism sprang, itself so calm and musical and gracious.
Frederick chose two young men for the work of writing it, bringing them to his court from other places, because, like the young man Timothy, they were well reported of by the brethren. Zacharias Ursinus was one of them, and Caspar Olevianus was the other. Their names deserve to be held in perpetual remembrance. Though they were only reformers of the second generation, whose task it was to nurture rather than to plant, they stood on a level with their great predecessors in learning and, not less, in the winsomeness and beauty of their personal Christianity. It will do us good to make ourselves familiar in some measure with their characters and with the story of their lives.
Zacharias Ursinus, the son of Andrew Baer, was born at Breslau, in the July of 1534. At the age of sixteen he became a student in Wittenberg, and there was no student of his time with a record so high and so honourable. In classical literature, in philosophy, in theology, in poetry, he was first among his peers. Melanchthon, the great pillar and ornament of the University, loved him as a father loves a son; the teacher and the pupil soon were knit together by unbreakable bonds. With such a reputation and such a friend, it was little marvel that, when his studies were complete, and after he had travelled through Switzerland and France, Ursinus was called by the magistrates of his native town to fill the most responsible position which they had in their gift, that of the rectorship of their gymnasium. This was in 1558. For two years he worked in Breslau, gaining admiration and affection from all who knew him. But in the Lutheran Church of the town, as in the Lutheran Church everywhere in these days of sharp and strenuous controversy, there was debate about the Sacrament of the Supper; and, if Melanchthon and the Swiss Reformers had their sympathisers, there was a more powerful faction still who were fervidly on the side of men like Heshusius. With all his wisdom it was not easy for Ursinus, holding firmly by the Calvinistic view, to avoid the suspicion and antagonism of those who differed from him. By and by he made up his mind to resign and to go elsewhere. Breslau would fain have kept him when her citizens learned what his resolution was; but it was too late. “I will betake me,” he said, “to the Zurichers, whose reputation indeed is not great here, but who have so famous a name with other Churches that it cannot be obscured by our preachers. They are pious and learned men, with whom I am determined to spend my life. God will provide for the rest.”
But God did not leave Zacharias Ursinus long in Zurich; He had a great life-work for him to fulfil. Frederick of Heidelberg was looking about for helpers who should aid him in extending the Reformation in the Palatinate. He asked the venerable Peter Martyr to come, but Martyr said that his days for entering on new enterprises were over now—he was waiting in patience for “the Sabbaths of eternity, one Sabbath deep and wide.” But, he added, though he might not essay the task himself, there was one to whom he could counsel Frederick to appeal—his own dear friend and scholar, Ursinus of Breslau. And thus the call to Heidelberg originated; and Ursinus heard in it the voice of God which he must not disobey. In 1561, he was settled as Professor of Theology in the Elector’s University, and as Superintendent of the Sapientiæ Collegium.
They were days and nights of incessant toil which he spent in his new position. In the University he delivered prelections five times each week. At first, too, he was expected to preach every Sabbath afternoon; but his were not the gifts of popular exposition or of persuasive and eloquent appeal, and he begged that this part of his functions might be transferred to those who could do it greater justice. In the training school known as the Sapientiæ Collegium his duties were more onerous and exacting still. He had not only to teach but to tend in all possible ways some seventy students, providing for their household supplies, consulting for their health, caring for them when they were sick: “habeo duos ægros domi,” he writes in one of his letters, “quos nisi curem, male curantur.” It was a complex burden which was laid on him, too grievous to be borne by one man, however richly and variously endowed. Ursinus felt its staggering weight. He was busy in his official work, he said, from five in the morning until nine in the evening; and when he wished to compose a Catechism, or a Constitution for the Church, or an answer to some theological opponent, it had to be done during the hours which should have been given to sleep. Others got holidays, but no “feriæ” ever came to him; and during the whole year, he complained, he had not so much leisure as would permit him once to go out of the town to look on the greenery of hedge and field: there is a wistful pathos in the longing of the imprisoned scholar for a glimpse of the pink hawthorn and the lush meadow-grass. We are not surprised that his health broke down, and that he began to grow hypochondriac and melancholy. We are not astonished, either, that, when a prospect of relief presented itself in the shape of an invitation to a professor’s chair in Lausanne, where the work was to be lighter, and the salary larger, and the opportunity of enjoying nature in her loveliest moods not so rigorously denied, he was sorely tempted to close immediately with the proposal. But Frederick could not want him in Heidelberg, and Ursinus loved Frederick and consented to stay. “It seems to be the will of God,” he said half-regretfully, “that I should die on my pistrina—my treadmill. His will be done.”
One cannot but believe that his marriage, in 1573, with Margaret Trautwein, who was “an excellent companion and a faithful nurse,” lessened sensibly the tale of his sorrows. But, before very long, the removal from Heidelberg was to come of stern necessity. The good Elector died in 1576, and his son Louis, who succeeded him, set himself to overthrow much which his father had accomplished in the religious life of the Palatinate. For Louis was a Lutheran of the Lutherans, and was resolved that his kingdom should be Lutheran too. Ursinus was compelled to go. A younger son of Frederick, John Casimir, who shared his father’s convictions rather than his brother’s, welcomed the banished theologian to his town of Neustadt-on-the-Hardt; and there, in the new seminary of the Casimirianum, which soon began to rival the Heidelberg College itself, Ursinus found once more a congenial sphere. Here, also, his time was fully occupied, although not now by avocations that were so multiform and so distracting. It was impossible for him to be idle; over his study door, we read, he had the wholesome admonition inscribed—“Amice, quisquis huc venis, aut agita paucis, aut abi, aut me laborantem juva!” In Neustadt he revised and completed one of his greatest works, his Explanation of the Catechism, which will ever be linked so gloriously with his name. Here, moreover, he wrote his Admonitio Christiana, a noble defence of the sublime verities he believed, which extorted the applause even of those who were unable to accept its conclusions. But his health, long precarious, failed day after day. He went down steadily to the grave; rather, let us say, he mounted nearer and nearer to the shining gates of the New Jerusalem, the City of God, where he wished to be at home. In March 1583, before he had completed his forty-ninth year, his Master called him. He would not take a thousand worlds, he had often said, for the blessed assurance of being owned by Christ; and now, when Christ and he looked one another in the face, “it seemed,” a friend declared afterwards, “as if, like Stephen, he saw the heavens opened.”
In his personal temperament Zacharias Ursinus was shy, timid, retiring. He was pre-eminently a man of peace who, by the irony of circumstance, was perpetually in the forefront of the religious and ecclesiastical battle. The continual conflict saddened, though it never soured, his heart. After the Disputation of Maulbrunn he wrote, “I have received a wound which I do not expect to have healed in this life.” Sometimes he feared, as many of the finest spirits in the family of God have feared, that he was spending his strength “for naught and in vain.” Often he was filled with gloomy apprehensions about the future of the Church. But in these seasons of trial his chief consolation was the thought of God’s eternal decree, which made his own election sure, and guaranteed the ultimate victory of the kingdom of Christ. His was the comfort of Johannes Agricola:

  I lie where I have always lain,
     God smiles as He has always smiled;
  Ere suns and moons could wax and wane,
     Ere stars were thundergirt, or piled
     The heavens, God thought on me His child.

He is represented as very modest and quiet, a man who sought no great things for himself. He was unwearied and laborious in work. And if he had not the facundia of the orator, we remember that Moses was denied the ready and fluent eloquence of Aaron, and we can see how manifold and large were his compensating qualities. For there was none of his contemporaries dowered with a wider and profounder learning, and there was none who knew so well how to communicate his learning to others.
Such, in history and disposition, was one of the twin-authors of the Heidelberg Catechism. The other was a man as worthy of our study and our love. Like Arthur Hallam with Alfred Tennyson, he was rich where his friend was poor, and he “supplied his want the more” as his own unlikeness fitted the necessities and idiosyncrasies of his comrade.
Caspar Olevianus, son of Gerhardt von der Olewig, was a native of the city of Treves, where he was born in the summer of 1536. He was originally destined for the profession of law, and he went to Bourges for the purpose of prosecuting his studies. But a startling providence turned him, as it had turned Luther, towards the Church. One of his closest personal friends at college was a son of Frederick of the Palatinate, a young prince of the greatest promise. As they were walking together one day by a riverside near Bourges, they met some drunken German students of high rank, who proposed to cross the stream in a boat. Olevianus did his utmost to dissuade them from so foolhardy a proceeding, but they were not to be hindered, and the young prince was induced to become one of the party. In the middle of the river they set themselves to rock the boat in foolish and riotous play, with the result that it turned over and everyone of its occupants was drowned. From the shore Olevianus threw himself into the water for the purpose of rescuing his friend, but it was only with the utmost difficulty that he was himself saved. The incident left on him an impression which could never be obliterated. Before this he had secretly embraced the Reformed faith; but now, delivered “out of the depths,” he avowed his convictions, and he bound himself by a solemn pledge to become a preacher of the gospel.
For a year or two he travelled much, learning from the great masters in the sacred sciences all that they had to teach him. In Geneva he studied under Calvin, in Zurich under Peter Martyr, in Lausanne under Theodore Beza. He became intimate, too, with William Farel, the whole-souled evangelist of the Cross, who urged him to cut short his preparatory training and to get home as soon as possible to tell out the good news. So, when he was twenty-three years old, we find him back in Treves. The work of the Reformation in that Roman Catholic city was inaugurated with every promise of success; and the preaching of Olevianus had an immediate popular effect, for, like his Master, he was one whom the common people heard gladly, an orator true and gracious and glowing; he had the winged words of which Ursinus had no command. But after a struggle with the ruling powers, the Protestant families were forced to leave the town and the territory, Olevianus having first suffered “bonds and imprisonment” for the Name’s sake. They found fresh homes for themselves in the neighbouring Reformed States, under Wolfgang the Count of Zweibrücken, and under Frederick of Heidelberg. The latter claimed with joy a coadjutor so richly gifted as Caspar Olevianus.
In Heidelberg he filled from the first a great place in the public eye. He was well qualified to take the leading part in the management of the Church, to grapple with its difficulties, to sustain the wear and tear of its defence. His business habits, his delight in work, his buoyant and happy disposition, his high abilities, the warmth and intensity of his piety, soon made him the best-known man in the religious life of the Electorate. He took a wise and deep interest in the training of the young. But, most of all, he gained his renown through the sermons he preached from the pulpit of St. Peter’s Church. Multitudes flocked to hear them. Never had Heidelberg listened before to such faithful and memorable and burning words about sin and salvation, about truth and error, about God and Christ, about the unseen and the eternal. Long after his death he used to be quoted as a pattern, and his discourses were commended to students of theology as the very models of what pulpit utterances ought to be. This glad-hearted, energetic, enthusiastic, ardent man was outwardly very different from the timid and contemplative and over-sensitive Ursinus, although in the most momentous matters the two were knit soul to soul. They joined hands round the Person and the Cross and the Throne of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the Lutheran reaction came, under Louis VI., the vigour and the popularity of Olevianus made him specially distasteful to the party which had grasped the reins of power. He was summarily dismissed from the Ecclesiastical Council and from all his offices. He was forbidden to preach. He was placed for a time under a kind of arrest. But God was getting ready for him other spheres of activity and usefulness.
By and by we meet him in Berleburg, the capital of the little principality of Wittgenstein, whose ruler, Ludwig von Sain, gladly offered him a hiding-place from the tempest. “Dr. Olevianus is a precious guest to me,” he wrote; “he labours with zeal and a rich blessing for the reform of the Church and the establishment of schools, as also with my neighbour, Count John of Nassau.” That neighbour, indeed, coveted him for his own guest, and in the end he won his way. It was Count John’s ambition to found, in his city of Herborn, a High School which should be a stronghold of Calvinism and of all religious learning, and to place Caspar Olevianus at the head of it. At length, though not without much persuasion, he gained his desire, and people and prince were overjoyed. In the State carriage of Nassau the theologian and preacher made his journey from Berleburg to his new home. And in Herborn he did notable work. For one thing, he established in the district a complete Presbyterian organisation, and a Synod met for the first time in 1586, over which he was Moderator. Olevianus was, alike by natural instinct and by divine grace, a great Church leader and statesman.
But his busy life was nearing its close, though it was not a long life if it is reckoned by its years instead of by its achievements. In the beginning of 1587 the pilgrim received the token from the King’s messenger—“an arrow with a point sharpened by love, let easily into the heart, which by degrees wrought so effectually that at the time appointed he must be gone.” His was one of the deathbeds over which no discouraging clouds of confusion hang; it was the triumphal home-going of the good soldier. One day he had such a foretaste of the heavenly glory, and the joys that have no ending and no admixture, that, when a member of his family asked him if he were better, the words had a strange sound, for he felt as if it were not possible for him to be better, since God had brought him to the very fountain of living waters. On the 15th of March he went to be with Christ. Chapter after chapter of the Bible had been read to him, and he testified that every one of them was refreshing and sweet. At his request those round his bed joined with him in prayer, and then sang twice over his favourite hymn, one of Luther’s—Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist:

  O Holy Ghost, grant our desire,
  With childlike faith our souls inspire,
  And leave us not at last when we
  Forsake this scene of misery,
     But, Lord, have pity.

Then his colleague Allstedt went up to him and said, “Dear brother, you are now without doubt assured of your salvation in Christ, as you have taught many others; is it not so?” And Olevianus laid his hand on his heart and answered, “Certissimus—most sure.” It was his latest word; and was it not a ringing trumpet-testimony with which to enter the presence of the King?
These were the writers of the Heidelberg Catechism. They were young men when they bequeathed this priceless legacy to the Church of Christ, Ursinus twenty-eight, Olevianus only twenty-six; but now that we have made some acquaintance with their characters, we shall acknowledge that Frederick could not have chosen more shrewdly. It is impossible to say what in the Catechism belongs to the one author, and what to the other; the book is absolutely harmonious and symmetrical, and yet both voices speak from it and both hearts are palpitating under its sentences. It could not have dispensed with Ursinus, didactic, dialectic, theoretic; it would have missed much if it had lost his exactness and erudition. But, just as indubitably, it could not afford to bid farewell to Olevianus, the man of action and eloquence, the practical worker, the fervent preacher, in whom imagination and pathos clothed the logic of religion with beauty no less than with power. Although at first we scarcely think that dispositions so distinct could coalesce towards the accomplishment of a consistent and congruous work, yet here, beyond question, the marvel is effected, and effected to perfection. There is not a jar. The sweet bells are never once jangled and out of tune. From beginning to end, as the Tercentenary Edition of the Catechism expresses it, “the spirit of Ursinus is married to the spirit of Olevianus,” and the book could not have been the separate production of either—it needed their united authorship to make it what it is.
That they might prepare themselves for the task the Elector had set them, each of the fellow-labourers drew up beforehand a preliminary Catechism of his own composition: that of Olevianus free and popular, based on his favourite idea of the Covenant of Grace; that of Ursinus severer, conciser, more academic. They gave the most painstaking study, too, to the Catechisms which were already in use, and we may be certain that much guidance and impulse were gleaned from them. And yet, when it came to the joint production, everything assumed an independent and original colour, and the Heidelberg Catechism was in reality a new creation, throbbing with a life emphatically its own possession, and proclaiming its message in tones which are unmistakably individual; there is no risk of our confusing it with any, either of its forerunners or its successors. The wonder of its freshness and its fulness is increased when we consider that the whole work was planned and carried to its consummation within a year, for Frederick was all eagerness to see the book finished and fulfilling its actual mission. It was no slowly elaborated structure. It almost leaped into completeness. This was not a fragile gourd which grew up thus in a night, but a splendid oak which was fated to spread its branches and leaves to a thousand summers.
So soon as the Catechism was ready, it was submitted to the inspection of the superintendents and principal ministers of the Palatinate, who approved of it with one consent; and then, in January 1563, it passed out into the world, prefaced in a striking way by the Elector himself. During the same year and by the authority of the government, a Latin translation was made by two great classical scholars, Joshua Lagus and Lambertus Pithopœus, for the higher seminaries and schools; but, sonorous as the Latin is, it has neither the homeliness and force nor yet the melody and charm of the original German. And thus the Heidelberg Catechism was sent forth, to fight its campaigns, and diffuse its gifts, and lead captive its multitudes of loyal hearts.
One of the answers of the Catechism underwent a curious, and surely a regrettable, alteration before very long—the famous Eightieth Answer, in which a contrast is drawn between the Lord’s Supper and the Roman Mass. The question is there in the first edition; but the response stopped short without that anathema at the close which was added when the third edition was published. There was the clear objective definition of what the Mass is, but there was not the scathing denunciation of it as the “denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ and an accursed idolatry.” This supplement was appended by the instructions of Frederick himself, who was indignant when he heard of the ban which the Council of Trent had thundered against all Protestants: he met the malediction of the Cardinals with his own counter-malediction. One may agree with the teaching of the Elector’s uncompromising appendix, and yet feel sorry that it should have been inserted in the Catechism. It is by no means required to assure us of the robust and virile Protestantism of the book, and in its wording it is out of tune with the book’s accent and spirit. We cannot be surprised that it stirred suspicions and kindled animosities which might have been avoided in their keenness and intensity, if they could not be escaped altogether.
It was perhaps to be expected that, in another direction, the Catechism should immediately find itself confronted with the post of the foe. It called forth a resolute opposition from the ultra-Lutherans. Attack after attack was directed against it, Heshusius and Flacius Illyricus being foremost among its assailants. The latter boasted that he had discovered nine fatal errors in “the little Calvinistic Catechism,” and thought that he had given it its death-blow; but it has survived the onslaught of his artillery. Its days within its own native land were at their darkest when Frederick the Good died in the October of 1576, after having championed its doctrines at the risk sometimes of his crown and of his very life, like another Bayard without fear and without reproach. By suasion or by force, the son who was his heir changed the whole religious state of the Palatinate. It was a reversion to the extremest type of Lutheranism at once thorough and pitiless:—what a dreary heartbreak it is that, in the same camp and among those who should be clasping hands as brothers, for they have one Lord and one faith and one conflict and one goal, there should be such bitterness and clamour and wrath and strife! But the reaction did not last very long. Seven years later Louis died in middle life, and the heyday of Lutheranism in Heidelberg came to an end. Under Prince Casimir the whole face of things was changed once more; the Reformed faith and worship were restored to their previous ascendency, and, with them, the Catechism which was their oriflamme and flag. It is impossible to follow its fortunes in its mother-country through the after years. They have been chequered and adventurous enough. It has had its midnight hours, its baths of hissing tears, its trial of cruel mockings and scourgings. But generation after generation, more and more conspicuously, it has won to itself “honour, love, obedience, troops of friends.” Germany has long recognised that the Heidelberg Catechism is one of her most august national monuments, and one of those books which breathe an undecaying life.
But the Catechism soon conquered new and more distant provinces. It passed rapidly beyond the boundaries of the Palatinate, to gain a cordial welcome in many different directions. In Switzerland, in Protestant France, in England, in Scotland, in Hungary, in the Netherlands, in America, it reached, within a century of its publication, an assured place in the affection of multitudes. Few books have been translated so often, and there is no other Catechism, it has been claimed with truth, which has enjoyed such a Pentecostal gift of tongues. It may be read not only in all the languages of Europe, but in Hebrew and Arabic and Malay, and probably in other dialects equally recondite and strange. After the Bible itself and the De Imitatione Christi and The Pilgrim’s Progress, it is believed that no book can rival the Catechism of Ursinus and Olevianus in the number of its versions. And wherever it has come, men have loved it and prized it for its worth.
What are the qualities which invest the Heidelberg Catechism with a supreme value? Why is it that its fame will remain fresh and green, so long as we care for the things which are true and honourable and just and pure and lovely and of good report?
It owes something to its moderation in the statement of doctrine. It is never offensively polemical and controversial. It affirms the positive truth in which its authors delight, rather than contradicts and denies the error which is repugnant to them. Of course, it is Protestant in opposition to Romanism, and Calvinistic in opposition to Lutheranism; in the sixteenth century men drew their lines of demarcation firm and clear, and there was nothing they hated with a more perfect hatred than “a detestable neutrality” in matters of religion. But its Protestantism, if we except that one sentence to which allusion has already been made, is calm, convinced, assured, courteous; living though they did when the strife was hot and tumultuous, Ursinus and Olevianus display no petulance, or rancour, or intolerance. And its Calvinism has none of those angularities and excesses which, now and then, have detracted from the dignity of a noble system of thought. It is not metaphysical in any degree. It watches throughout against losing itself in labyrinths of speculation. It even prefers to pass by untouched some of the most difficult dogmas of the creed which it expounds. Little is said about the decree of election, and nothing about any decree of reprobation. These “reasonings high” are left to be explained by theological science, or to be brooded over in the sessions of silent thought, or, better still, to be assigned by lowly hearts to the category of matters beyond the ken meanwhile of human intellect and scrutiny. Unquestionably the Catechism is indebted for part of its wide acceptance and part of its intrinsic worth to this epieikeia, this “temper of sweet reasonableness”—to its wise moderation in explaining some of the things which were most surely believed by its writers, and its wise reticence in withholding others from view.
But it has more positive claims on the attention and esteem of Christian men. From first to last it is pervaded by a beautiful spirit. It is the product of the heart as well as of the head. It is warm, spiritual, unctional, no less than exact and convincing. There are times when its utterances rise to a kind of heavenly pathos; there are other times when their rhythm clings to the memory like that of an exquisite lyric. No one thinks of a Catechism and a poem as having any affinity with each other—the singer would be indignant who should find his raptures spoken of in such a dubious connection; yet the Heidelberg Catechism, in some of its parts, has all the characteristics of prose poetry. The truths which it enunciates were loved by those who wrote them down, and they never thought it needful to conceal their love and to feign only an intellectual interest in their theme. Their hearts overflowed into those questions and answers of theirs; and, because they brought to their undertaking not only rare learning and judgment, but a passion of fervour and enthusiasm, they imparted to what they did a unique distinction, and they secured for it an imperishable fame. Opie, according to Dr. John Brown, mixed his colours “with brains,” and so his paintings lived; but the books which are to laugh at the corroding and destructive influences of time require in their composition something even better than brains—they must be tinctured and warmed with ruddy life-blood. The young German divines of three centuries ago understood the secret, and therefore we can linger over their sentences still, and find that they speak to us intimately and lovingly.
Luther’s Catechism had some of this ardour of personal experience infused into it; but, even where Luther’s work was strong, that of the Heidelberg professors was stronger still, and they declared their beliefs in language livelier, richer, more genuinely eloquent than he had done. Calvin’s Catechism and that of the Westminster divines lack the element of poetry altogether, however excellent they are in other respects. Their authors have chosen the objective method, stating the truth in the form of dogma, looking at it for the time as something outside of themselves, examining it dispassionately with reason and intellect, setting it forth in language as crystal-clear and definite as that in which men of science embody the results of their investigations. The writers of the Palatinate, on the other hand, choose the subjective method, telling to others with gladness what has touched and transfigured their own souls, refusing to be impersonal in the statement of their cherished beliefs, making their words a joyous confession of the faith which is in themselves. The books of Geneva and Westminster are like statues—accurate, well-proportioned, impressive, but immobile and somewhat cold. The book of Heidelberg is like a living man. Some of the features of the man may not be so unerringly cut as those of the statue; but he has within him that of which it is destitute—a beating pulse and a quivering heart.
It may be argued, however, that the very warmth and beauty and attractiveness which mark the work of Ursinus and Olevianus, while they give the Catechism a high rank among Books for the Heart, are in other respects dangers and blemishes. Is the subjective form the best, we may ask, in which to present divine truth to a learner? May not the pupil who repeats these questions and answers be placing himself in an entirely false position? In the language which his lips are using, whatever the actual condition of his secret heart may be, he assumes the character of a believer making strong and joyous confession of his faith. He may have no vital interest in Christ’s redemption and kingdom, but yet he employs the distinctive accents of discipleship and sainthood—the unmistakable dialect of the children in the blameless family of God. There is serious risk here, it has been urged again and again; there is the likelihood that ignorance and presumption and security will be fostered and encouraged. It would be wiser, it is hinted, for a Catechism to be less devotional and more didactic, less personal and more general, less emotional and enthusiastic, and more sedate and cautious and prudent.
Yet, though it was inevitable that this objection should be raised, the Heidelberg divines would certainly have had their answer to it. They would have contended that the children in a Christian family and in the Christian Church, born into such an unearthly and marvellous commonwealth, are not to be regarded as “strangers and foreigners” but as “fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of faith.” They would have reasoned that, while the heavenly and supernatural power of God the Holy Spirit is always required for the renewal of the young life, the covenant of grace and mercy and peace is made not only with believing fathers and mothers but with their descendants too, and the little ones are from their infancy dear to the Father from whom every fatherhood is named. They would have told us that what we have to do is to train our boys and girls to claim frankly and deliberately their part in those ineffable spiritual privileges which God intends to belong to them, and to “nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.” And surely they would have been right. “Blessed be childhood,” says the earnest-thoughted and sad-hearted Amiel, “which brings down something of heaven into the midst of our rough earthliness.” “Of such is the Kingdom of God,” says our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Let us believe that, while there must in every case be the individual surrender of spirit and life to the Saviour, the effectual call from above met by the free and willing response of each solitary and separate soul, the great transaction may take place at the earliest period and in the gentlest and most natural way, and the little pilgrim out of eternity may be prevented from straying even a mile or two “from his first love.” Let us feel that the children in our homes and Churches are in reality the property of Christ, and should be taught to esteem themselves such, and should grow up to apprehend more and more consciously and joyfully their inheritance in His realm of faith and hope and charity and holiness and peace. If these are our convictions, we shall find no fault with even a child’s employment of such vivid and intimate personal confessions as those of which the Heidelberg Catechism is full. He ought to be learning to make them his own confessions, the language not of his mouth merely but of his innermost and deepest nature, the humble yet familiar tones of a heart yielded to the happy bond-service of Jesus Christ.
In its plan and arrangement the Catechism, as Dr. Schaff and others have pointed out, follows the method of the Epistle to the Romans, though we shall have to leave out of sight the ninth and tenth and eleventh chapters of St. Paul’s great letter, which have no echo and reproduction here. It has one hundred and twenty-nine questions in all, and these are divided into three parts. After two introductory questions, the First Part treats, like the initial section of the Epistle, of the sin and misery of man; the Second, like the central portion of the apostolic letter, of man’s redemption by Christ; the Third, like its closing chapters, of the thankfulness of the redeemed, or the Christian life. The whole is a picture of Christianity not so much in theory as in experience and character. We see ourselves fallen, lost, undone, in the midnight and the prison. But then the day breaks, and the great iron gates are opened by a mighty Hand; and we see the strong Son of God enriching us with His glorious liberty. And, finally, up from our grateful souls the loyal obedience springs which is not a sigh but a song; and we see our being and our history blessedly transformed. The conception is at once easy and simple, profound and comprehensive; and there is nothing quite like it in any of the other Catechisms of the Reformation.
Into these three prominent divisions the old topics are worked—the Decalogue, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the doctrine of the Church and the Sacraments. They are no longer treated as comparatively unrelated subjects, standing aloof and apart from each other. Nor are they brought together simply as so many distinct ingredients in a speculative and abstract theology. They find their fitting place in an organic system. So, while the opening section of the Catechism has to do with the knowledge of sin which originates in the knowledge of law,—law spiritual, searching, dishonoured, broken, condemnatory,—we are not called immediately to the study of the Ten Commandments. “The Decalogue,” Ursinus says, “belongs to the First Part, so far as it is a mirror of our sin and misery, but also to the Third Part, as being the rule of our new obedience and Christian life.” Wisely and significantly the consideration of it in its full detail is kept until we come to look at the portrait of the regenerated man, created after God in righteousness and true holiness; and, at the outset, we have only that pregnant summary of the Law which Jesus Himself gave us: it is amply sufficient to disclose how far we have wandered and how deeply we are sunk in the mire. In the Second Division there is a long and full commentary on the Apostles’ Creed, which becomes, in the hands of Ursinus and Olevianus, a kind of noble panorama of the sublime facts of redemption, as they move on and on from the far-off purpose of the Father in the untrodden past to the everlasting life which awaits His sons and daughters in the dateless and shoreless future. To this section, also, the exposition of the Sacraments is assigned; for how much the Sacraments have to tell us about the Saviour and the great salvation, once our dull ears are alert to receive the message! The Third Part, as we have seen, takes to do with the Commandments, those fetters of gold and silk by which the Christian delights to bind himself, and with the Lord’s Prayer, in whose high aspirations he breathes out that new nature which has been planted within him. And thus all the elements which are essential to a Catechism are set in harmonious environment, and receive that local habitation which suits them best.
We might linger long over many of the answers of the Heidelberg Catechism—answers which “come o’er our ears like the sweet South that breathes upon a bank of violets.” Let us content ourselves with a few instances of its music and fragrance.
Its character makes itself manifest in its very First Question, which is a splendid prelude to all that follows. From the commencement we are taught to picture Christianity, not as an imperious and irksome law, nor yet as an elaborate theory to be studied laboriously by the intellect, and far less as a dreary round of mechanical observances, but as God’s best gift and man’s richest blessing. “What is thy only comfort in life and in death?”—how personal it is! how intimate! how experimental! He is the happiest of men who can throw his whole heart into the answer. “That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that, without the will of my Father in heaven, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.” The privilege and the duty of a believing man—we have them both here, in an epitome which seems to omit nothing, and which says everything with unforgettable impressiveness and beauty. We read that Solomon made the doors of the Temple of olive-wood, and carved on them carvings of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; the very approaches to the shrine were stately and glorious. It is the same with the porch and entrance to the sanctuary of this book; olive-wood and gleaming gold and brooding cherubim invest these gates with sanctity and grace.
Or let us take the reply to the Question, “What is true faith?” and let us note how complete and all-embracing the definition is. “It is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word; but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Ghost works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others but to me also forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation, are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.” The assent of the understanding and the consent of the will must meet and mingle, this answer assures us, before we can know what genuine faith is. It is something to “believe Christ”—to credit His evangel, to esteem it a faithful saying, to feel no sceptical doubt regarding the accuracy and validity of the divine message. But it is more and better to “believe in Christ”—to give Him the humble and clinging confidence of a soul which can neither live nor die without Him, to enter for ourselves into the Rose-garden of our Redeemer and our Lord, to account Him Wisdom and Righteousness and Sanctification and Redemption to our own hearts in their bankruptcy and ruin. This is a Credo worth proclaiming to all the world.
And let us pass on a little way, and hearken again. “What dost thou understand by the providence of God?” There is a delightful minuteness in the response. “The almighty and everywhere—present power of God, whereby, as it were by His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth, with all creatures; and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, all things, come not by chance but by His fatherly hand.” It is a note we do well to listen to, in these more advanced and less trustful times in which our own lot is cast. God is silent, we are told on every side, and there is no divine Eye looking down on us—there is only a black and bottomless socket. What a chasm, not of chronology simply, separates Ursinus and Olevianus from Mr. John Davidson, for example!

         Day and night
  I waited on a message from on high.
  Sunset and sunrise came; the seasons passed;
  The years went slowly by; but still to me
  The universe was dumb.

The older faith is more inspiriting than the modern scepticism; and it breeds wiser and stronger souls, as the Question and Answer which succeed will teach us. “What does it profit us to know that God has created, and by His providence still upholds, all things?” “That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and for what is future have good confidence in our faithful God and Father, that no creature shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.” Is it not doctrine mounting into doxology—the Psalm of the quiet and untroubled heart?
That is a lofty and comprehensive significance which a subsequent Question attaches to the Christian name. “Why art thou called a Christian?” it asks. This is the reply: “Because by faith I am a member of Christ, and thus a partaker of His anointing; in order that I also may confess His name; may present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him; and may with free conscience fight against sin and the devil in this life, and hereafter in eternity reign with Him over all creatures.” Christiani we are, anointed like our blessed Lord with the unction and plenitude of the Holy Spirit, consecrated as He was to a threefold office—that of the prophet and spokesman who declares His truth and defends His cause, that of the white-robed priest whose daily gift is the offering of a grateful heart, that of the warrior-king who does not quit the camp and the field until the enemy is vanquished and he is crowned a conqueror in the spiritual city. One of the greatest services which any religious teacher can render us is to make us understand the full force and far-reaching application of terms we are always using, and using too often with the most superficial notions of what they mean; for the image and superscription are gradually rubbed off the coin that has been handled by innumerable fingers. And certainly no one will lightly claim or value cheaply and depreciatingly the title of Christian, who broods over its high and exacting and heavenly message, as that is expounded to us by the writers of the Heidelberg Catechism.
They are not the young children only who wish sometimes that they had lived in the sweet and distant springtide “when Jesus was here among men.” Older disciples catch themselves looking back wistfully to the three marvellous years between the Baptism and the Cross, and longing that they had had some personal share in their privileges and wonders. To have heard His words of grace and truth, to have stood beside Him that day when a solemn gladness crowned the purple brows of Olivet and when Lazarus left his charnel-cave, to have watched with awestricken eyes the perpetual miracle of His unspotted life: we imagine frequently that there could be no blessedness so sacred and so sanctifying as this. But Ursinus and Olevianus will correct our mistake, and will unfold the Master’s own saying, that it was expedient alike for Him and for us that He should go away. “What benefit,” their Forty-ninth Question asks, “do we receive from Christ’s ascension into heaven?” A threefold benefit, they reply. “First, that He is our Advocate in the presence of His Father in heaven. Secondly, that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that He, as the Head, will also take us, His members, up to Himself. Thirdly, that He sends us His Spirit, as an earnest, by whose power we seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, and not things on the earth.” We need the Christ of the Throne, as well as the Christ of the Galilean fields and the Christ who poured out His life-blood for our redemption on the sad and glorious Tree.
Is is hard to cease quoting, where on every page there is much to interest and attract. But with the Answers to two of the Questions in the Third Part we must take farewell of the winsome Catechism. Both questions and answers are short; and, in this respect, the responses at least differ from most in the book; for, if the Catechism has a fault, it is that many of its definitions are over-long for young minds to carry away. But there is no child who may not remember what the teachers of Heidelberg say about those two things in which true repentance consists—the dying of the old man and the quickening of the new. “And what,” the Eighty-ninth Question runs, “is the dying of the old man?” The answer tells us. “Heartfelt sorrow for sin, causing us to hate and turn from it always more and more.” And “What is the quickening of the new?” is asked next; and now the reply comes: “Heartfelt joy in God, causing us to take delight in living according to His will in all good works.” It is impossible to conceive a better description of the way in which, “toiling, rejoicing, sorrowing, onward through life he goes,” who has been redeemed from his misery by divine grace through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Are we surprised now that, although it is more than three centuries old, the Heidelberg Catechism has lost none of its virtue and spiritual power? It is one of the old things of which we do not weary, like the mountains which lose none of their grandeur though the eye sees them every day; or like the sunset which has been building in the sky its towers and palaces since the world began—towers and palaces “which night shall utterly abase and destroy”; or like the faces of the children, which are always sweet.


There are one or two other symbols and summaries of Reformation teaching which must not be passed over in any survey, however rapid, of the Catechisms of that memorable time.
There is, for example, the Catechism of John Craig.
In Scotland the change of Church and faith was longer in coming than elsewhere, but it was thorough and radical when it did come. Led by John Knox,—“a most clear-cut, hardy, distinct, and effective man, fearing God and without any other fear,”—the Scottish people turned completely away from Roman Catholicism. It was not, however, until 1581 that any native Catechism was given to the world. Up to that time the country was well content with the Catechism of Calvin and with that of Heidelberg, both of which had appeared in English editions. But in 1581 John Craig, who had once been the colleague of Knox in St. Giles, and who was now minister of God’s Word to the King’s Majesty, wrote “A short summe of the whole Catechisme, wherein the Question is proponed and answered in few words, for the greater Ease of the commoune people and children.”
He was a notable man, and he had a history which reads like a romance. The son of a soldier who fell on Flodden field, he was educated for the Roman Catholic priesthood, and ultimately became rector of the Dominican College in Bologna. But one day he fell in with a copy of Calvin’s Institutes, the reading of which altered all his beliefs. For his Protestantism, of which he made no secret, he was thrown into the dungeons of the Inquisition at Rome. For nine months he lay in imprisonment, and at last was sentenced to be burned at the stake in the August of 1559. But, only the day before the sentence was to be executed, Pope Pius IV. died; and the Roman people threw open the doors of the Inquisition, and allowed its inmates to go free. Craig was at liberty; but very soon the Papal soldiers came on his hiding-place, and his life was once more in danger. Again, however, God succoured him. The leader of the band took him aside and asked if he did not remember a poor wounded man in Bologna, who in the direst distress had begged of him some relief. Craig replied that he did not. “But I do,” the other said, “and I am the man.” The debt was amply repaid now; for the soldier helped his benefactor to make good his escape, and gave him both money and counsel.
But John Craig’s adventures were not yet at an end. He slipped away from Rome, and set his face northward for Vienna. On the way another strange deliverance befell him. “I should scarcely relate it,” Spottiswoode says, “so incredible it seemeth, if to many of good place he himself had not often repeated it as a singular testimony of God’s care of him; and this it was. When he had travelled some days, declining the highways out of fear, he came into a forest, a wild and desert place, and, being sore wearied, he lay down among some bushes on the side of a little brook to refresh himself. Lying there pensive and full of thoughts (for neither knew he in what he was, nor had he any means to bear him out of the way), a dog cometh fawning with a purse in his teeth, and lays it down before him. He, stricken with fear, riseth up, and, looking about if any were coming that way, when he saw none, taketh it up, and, construing the same to proceed from God’s favourable providence towards him, followed his way till he came to a little village, where he met with some that were travelling to Vienna in Austria, and went in their company thither.” Probably we shall find in the incident an illustration of that unceasing care of our Father in heaven, about which the Heidelberg Catechism has already spoken to us. But the Romanists of the time interpreted it differently. “Friar Craig,” said Dr. John Hamilton in his Facile Treatise, containing an Infallible Rule to discern True from False Religion, “cust of his cowl, gangand throw ane forest in Italie, as he vantit himself in sundrie compagnies, an blak dog gave to him be the way ane purse of gold. The couleur of the dog may declair gif it was sent by ane guid spirit or nocht, for the Halie Spirit discendit upon Christ in the lyklines of a whyt dow.”
In Vienna Craig remained, until he took up his abode in Edinburgh about 1561. Soon he became well known in the young Presbyterianism of Scotland. As minister first in St. Giles, then in Aberdeen, and lastly in the King’s Household, he gained a reputation which placed him among the foremost. It was he who protested against the marriage of the luckless Mary with Bothwell, and received the thanks of the General Assembly for his intrepidity. It was he who drew up the King’s Confession, or National Covenant, which James and his courtiers signed in 1580. It was he who was so frank in the sermons he preached to his sovereign that James once spoke out before the congregation, and said that, “if he had thought his fee’d servant would have dealt after that manner with him, he would not have suffered him so long in his house.” He died in 1600, full of years and honour.
John Craig dedicated his Catechism to “the professors of Christ’s Evangel at New Abirdene,” wishing them “the perpetual comfort and increase of the Holy Spirit to the end of their battle.” In his preface he defines the purpose of the book. “It shall be very comfortable and fruitful to you, if ye cause this short sum to be oft and diligently read in your houses; for hereby ye yourselves and your children and servants may profit more and more in the principal points of your salvation. What need ye have of this continual exercise in your houses ye know yourselves, and I by experience can bear witness of the great and gross ignorance of some among you, notwithstanding the clear light of the Evangel of long now shining there. In handling this matter, I have studied to my power to be plain, simple, short, and profitable, not looking so mickle to the desire and satisfaction of the learned as to the instruction and help of the ignorant. For, first, I have abstained from all curious and hard questions, and, next, I have brought the question and the answer to as few words as goodly I could; and that for the case of children and common people, who cannot understand nor gather the substance of a long question, or answer confirmed with reasons.” Its author does not speak a whit too highly of his work. Question and answer are short and simple indeed, so that he who runs may read. Like the patriarch in his desert march, John Craig “led on softly,” according as the flocks and the children were able to endure.
One great fault, however, his Catechism has. The book as a whole is too long to serve the purpose for which it was intended. The brief, terse, pithy Questions follow each other in quick succession, until they must be reckoned not by tens but by hundreds; and the General Assembly did a wise thing when, in 1590, it asked the writer to abridge his work. But despite every abatement, Craig’s Catechism remains an interesting document: let us listen to its opening section—a section which deals with the Creation and First Estate of Mankind.

“Q. Who made man and woman?
A. The Eternal God of His goodnes.
Q. Whereof made He them?
A. Of an earthly body, and ane heavenly spirit.
Q. To whose image made He them?
A. To His owen Image.
Q. What is the image of God?
A. Perfect uprightnes in body and soule.
Q. To what end were they made?
A. To acknowledge and serve their Maker.
Q. How should they have served Him?
A. According to His holy will.
Q. How did they know His will?
A. By His workes, worde, and Sacramentis.
Q. What liberty had they to obey His will?
A. They had free will to obey, and disobey.
Q. What profit had they by their obedience?
A. They were blessed and happy in body and soule.
Q. Was this felicity given to them onely?
A. No, but it was given to them and their posterity.
Q. With what condition was it given?
A. With condition of their obedience to God.
Q. Why was so smal a commandement given?
A. To shaw Godis gentilnes, and to try man’s obedience.
Q. What avaleth to know this Felicitie lost?
A. Hereby we knowe Godis goodnes and our ingratitude.
Q. But we cannot come to this estate againe.
A. We come to a better estate in Christ.
Q. What should we learne of this discurse?
A. That the Kirk was first planted, blessed, and made happie through obedience to Godis worde.”

Unquestionably the Catechism, which was John Craig’s labour of love on behalf of his parishioners in Aberdeen and of the Reformed people throughout Scotland, deserves our respect still. It reads well both in style and in substance. It is like the bell of an old church, retaining through centuries its amplitude of tone, and sounding out its chimes to one generation after another. In the preface to his Souvenirs de l’Enfance et de la Jeunesse, the brilliant Frenchman tells a legend of his native Brittany. It relates to an imaginary town called Is, which the fishermen suppose to have been swallowed up by the sea far back in the ages of the past. But sometimes, so these simple folk believe, the spires of the churches can be seen in the hollow of the waves when the sea is rough, and during a calm, if you listen well, you may hear the bells ringing forth the hymn appropriate to the day. And M. Renan adds, pathetically enough: “I often fancy that I have at the bottom of my heart a city of Is, with its bells summoning to prayer a recalcitrant congregation.” He means that the truths he learned in childhood rose up before his memory when he credited most of them no longer, and called to him like voices from a vanished world. So we may hear the old sentences of the Reformation Catechisms chiming yet, for the melody has not gone out of them. Let us hope that, when the beliefs of which they speak appeal to us, it is not a recalcitrant congregation that they summon to prayer.


We pass into a new century to find the Catechisms which are, in a true sense, the crowning work of the Reformation. It was a century less simple, less buoyant, more scholastic, more acutely and abstrusely philosophical, than its predecessor; and its characteristics are reproduced in its symbolical books. The Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly, the latter especially, are well known. Is it not remarkable that a manual of doctrine like the Shorter Catechism, which has found its most cherished home and its chief field of activity in the stern but delectable land north of the Tweed, should have been born on English soil and should itself be of English authorship? It was not drawn up until the famous gathering, which met in the Jerusalem Chamber, was reaching the close of its protracted deliberations. By that time the majority of the Scottish Commissioners—Alexander Henderson, Robert Baillie, George Gillespie—had returned to their own homes; so that the beautiful tradition which connects the name of Gillespie with the answer to the Question, “What is God?” must reluctantly be abandoned as devoid of sufficient foundation. In October 1647, when the Assembly appointed its Committee to prepare the Catechism, Samuel Rutherford alone remained of the representatives of Scotland. He was a member of the Committee; and along with him were three others—Anthony Tuckney, the Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and Stephen Marshall of Finchingfield, and John Ward of Ipswich. To these four, but especially to Tuckney, we owe the Shorter Catechism. Mr. William Carruthers, its latest editor, finds himself unable to accept the suggestion of Professor Mitchell, that it “passed through the alembic of Dr. Wallis, the great mathematician”; for Dr. Wallis was not instructed to attend the Committee until the work was practically done. On Thursday, the 25th of November 1647, the Prolocutor delivered the Catechism to the House of Commons. On the following day it was carried to the Lords. Each House thanked the Assembly for its diligence in the matter, and it was ordered that six hundred copies should be printed for the use of the members of Parliament.
So the Shorter Catechism had its inception; and, when we think of the wide-reaching influence it has exerted and the enduring life it seems destined to live, these dark and troubled November days in 1647 become lustrous indeed. It is one of those great books in little compass which have dominated the world. Nowhere else is there a more “excellent sum of the Christian faith and doctrine”—nowhere else a better statement of the teaching of the Bible, as that teaching was understood by Augustine and Calvin and John Knox and Thomas Chalmers. The fact has been frankly and cordially recognised outside the boundaries of Presbyterianism. The Baptists adopted the Catechism, after altering its vindication of pæedobaptism to suit their own tenets. The Congregationalists used it largely in the earlier days of their Church history. Even John Wesley, when he had modified what it says about election and the decrees of God, printed it for the instruction of his followers. As for what the Catechism has done for Scotland, the country of its adoption if not of its birth, is not that a service incalculable, inestimable? It is not too much to affirm that it has decisively moulded the character of the people, and moulded it in the healthiest and loftiest way. “About the very cradle,” says Robert Louis Stevenson, “there goes a hum of metaphysical divinity. I do not wish to make an idol of the Shorter Catechism; but the fact of such a question as ‘What is the chief end of man?’ being asked, and answered nobly if obscurely, ‘To glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever,’ gives to us Scots a great field of speculation; and the fact that it is asked of all of us, from the peer to the plough-boy, binds us more nearly together.” And one recalls, too, the pathetic testimony of a still more stalwart Scot. “The older I grow,” wrote Thomas Carlyle not long before he died, “and I stand now upon the brink of eternity, the more comes back to me the first sentence in the Catechism which I learned when a child, and the fuller and deeper its meaning becomes: ‘What is the chief end of man?’ ‘To glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever.’ ”
In its clearness, in its preciseness of definition, in its carefulness of wording, the Shorter Catechism surpasses all its rivals; and he who knows and understands it needs no further training in Calvinistic theology. But, concise and nervous and logical as it is, it certainly lacks the homeliness and the fervour of some of its companions. Samuel Rutherford, one of the four men who gave it being and shape, was himself in earlier days the author of a Catechism, which Professor Mitchell of St. Andrews has edited with pious care; and in Rutherford’s questions and answers we get something—an atmosphere, a tone, a voice of the soul—which is missing in the exacter and severer sentences of the Westminster scholars. That we may feel the difference, let us choose, almost at random, a few of his definitions. This, for example:

“Q. How can God then be free of sinne, if He worketh in sin?
A. The Lord can touch a serpent and not be stanged; and, as a good painter draweth black lines in the image to mak the whyte appear more beautiful, and the physitian extracteth good oyle out of poisonable herbes, and the musitian makes the mistuned harpe to send out a pleasant sound, even so God in the hardening of men’s heart doth the part of a judge justlie and holilie.”

Or this:

“Q. What followeth upon this union (of the divine and the human in Christ)?
A. That Christ is a trysting-place where God and man meet togidder, and the sufferings of Christ is of infinit vertue, because His death and blood is the death and blood of God.”

Or this:

“Q. Then the Godhead did work in His suffering?
A. Yea, indeed, the Godhead made the offer; and as the gold in the tabernacle glancing upon the purple and scarlet curtains did cast an excellent luster, so the glory of the Godhead did cast a scadd and wonderful luster upon the blue and red wounds of dying Christ.”

Or this, again:

“Q. But because Christ died not for all, how shall I know if it be His hidden purpose to die for me?
A. Try your owne purpose first, and not Christ’s purpose first; if your heart cleave unto Him as a half-drowned man grips to a strong tree growing upon the brink of the water, and so can hold by Him, He cannot but grip you.”

Or this, only once more:

“Q. Who abuse the rest of God’s day?
A. Those that are idle this day, which is the horses’ Sabbath; 2. those that sports and plays, which is the bairnes’ Sabbath; 3. those who banquets and feasts, which is the bellygod’s Sabbath; 4. those that sins, which is the devil’s Sabbath; 5. those who waits upon worldlie callings this day, which is the wretches’ Sabbath.”

Probably there is too individual a flavour, an aroma too keenly suggestive of the author of the immortal Letters, about these answers; perhaps they never would have seemed quite appropriate in a Catechism designed for general use; yet the wish will rise in our hearts that a little of their quaintness and colouring had gone to enliven the stateliness and unbending accuracy of the book we know so well. It is, George Eliot reminds us, when ideas “breathe upon us with warm breath” that they “move us like a passion.”
There has been no saintlier son of the Shorter Catechism in our own century than Rabbi Duncan. He appreciated its great qualities, and loved it for its sharpness and exactitude of discrimination. If, Dr. David Brown tells us, he should hear anyone speak of Christ in His two separate natures, he would break in vehemently: “No, sir, not ‘separate’—God forbid we should think of the divine nature of the Word made flesh as even for one moment ‘separate’ from the human, or the human from the divine. Say ‘distinct,’ sir—‘distinct’; mind your Shorter Catechism, in which, on this head, the ripe result of centuries of controversy on the Person of Christ is compressed into a nutshell, into a few words as precise as they are precious: ‘The Lord Jesus Christ, being the Eternal Son of God, became Man, and so was and continueth to be God and Man in two distinct natures and one Person for ever.’ ” But occasionally, as we learn from his other biographer, Dr. Moody Stuart, John Duncan felt the need of something more personally satisfying, more intimate, more expressive of the heart’s affection, than he got in the diamond-clear sentences of Westminster. “I desire my own happiness; I know and feel that God in Christ alone can constitute that happiness; but in answering the question, ‘What is man’s chief end?’ I pass over the first part mainly with an intellectual approbation of its moral rectitude as a requirement, ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God,’ while every fibre of my soul winds itself round the latter part—‘to enjoy Him for ever’—with unutterable, sickening, fainting desire.” There must be many who sympathise with these feelings of one who was at the same time a very prince among scholars and a simple little child in the family of God.
It is in this quality of “unutterable and fainting desire” that Ursinus and Olevianus take precedence of the Puritan divines. They put more of their hearts’ blood into their work. If we may steal from Rabbi Duncan another suggestive phrase, they did not only think with the Psalmist that the truths of which they spoke were “more precious than gold, yea, than much fine gold,” they went with him in this also, that they were “sweeter than honey and the honeycomb”: their precious things were better than “casketed jewels”—they were “meat and drink.” In large measure, the later age at which it was composed explains the colder and more statuesque character of the Westminster Catechism. When its authors deliberated and reasoned and put their pens to paper, the stress of the warfare was over. They could survey calmly, and examine with scientific care, the battlefields on which their predecessors had fought for truth and God. In their time the Reformation was a finished achievement which they could study: it was no longer an unperfected enterprise for which they were compelled to struggle. How completely natural it was that, writing in less exciting and more prosaic times, they should use language which does not quiver and palpitate with such ardency of emotion!
The ideal Catechism would surely be one which combined the poetry, the unction, the hwyl—if we may borrow the Welsh word—of Heidelberg with the precision of Westminster. Among the angels, they say, there are cherubim who know and seraphim who burn; but perhaps the highest in the heavenly throng link together the clear understanding and the fervid heart, and both know and burn. That would be a perfect epitome of Christian truth which explained its various elements with such definiteness that error was rendered impossible, and yet infused into the explanation the vitality that flows from a God-devoted soul—which joined to the cherub’s intelligence the seraph’s love. We cannot expect to get such a Catechism written for us now; but we can strive to unite Westminster and Heidelberg within our own breasts. Let us be sure that we are able to define and defend our theology, and, while we do so, let us cleave with confiding trust to the Truth Who is a Person, God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is fashionable in some quarters to belittle Catechisms and Creeds. And it is not the citizen of the world alone, nor yet that member of the Church alone whose Christianity is indeterminate in its character and neutral in its tint, who shrinks to-day from them; closely allied with these others in this respect is the devout believer, of Ritschlian sympathies—an interesting and notable figure in the religion of our time. “We remain amid scholasticism so long as we appropriate any other men’s expressions of their redeemed life,” Hermann writes, in that vital book on Communion with God. “The doctrines and thoughts of another man who is redeemed,” he goes on, “cannot redeem me.” No, they never can; but unquestionably they may help me in a most effectual way towards redemption, rendering truer and profounder my convictions of sin, explaining to me the mode in which salvation comes, unfolding its meaning and accentuating its worth.
We shall have made our hurried excursion through Reformation territory to very little purpose, if we have not learned ere this the value of its Catechisms as educators alike of mind and of heart. It was by their means that the leaders of Protestantism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries diffused among the people, young and old, that knowledge which makes wise unto salvation. They scattered it far and wide, as the husbandman does the living seed, believing that it would germinate and spring up and cover the broad fields with summer green and autumn gold.
Their hope was not disappointed. We reap in our later day the fruits of their labours. The words of the old Scottish ballad commemorate a great and blessed fact:—

     Our bairnes now weill knawis how
     To worship God with service trew:
     Whilk mony yeir our fathers deir,
     Allace therefore, full sore misknew.

     Yet God did feid His chosin indeed,
     As Noy and Lot and mony moe,
     And had respect to His elect,
     How ever the blynd warld did goe.

     Wha wald be saif first this maun haif—
     To knaw their sin, syne trow in Christ;
     Big on this ground, let lufe abound,
     With patience, prayer, hope, and trust.
     On God thou call, thanke Him of all,
     To serve thy neighbour give thy cure;
     Thy conscience free mone ever bee:
     This can give thee no creature.



[The German of the following pages is that of the Modern German editions of the Catechism]


Frage 1.—Was ist dein einiger Trost im Leben und im Sterben?
Antwort.—Dass ich mit Leib und Seele, beides im Leben und im Sterben, nicht mein, sondern meines getreuen Heilandes Jesu Christi eigen bin, der mit seinem theuren Blute für alle meine Sünden vollkommen bezahlet, und mich aus aller Gewalt des Teufels erlöset hat; und also bewahret, dass ohne den Willen meines Vaters im Himmel kein Haar von meinem Haupte kann fallen, ja auch mir Alles zu meiner Seligkeit dienen muss. Darum Er mich auch durch seinen heiligen Geist des ewigen Lebens versichert, und Ihm forthin zu leben von Herzen willig und bereit macht.

Frage 2.—Wie viele Stücke sind dir nöthig zu wissen, dass du in diesem Troste seliglich leben und sterben mögest?
Antwort.—Drei Stücke: Erstlich, wie gross meine Sünde und Elend sei. Zum Andern, wie ich von allen meinen Sünden und Elend erlöset werde. Und zum Dritten, wie ich Gott für solche Erlösung soll dankbar sein.



Frage 3.—Woher erkennest du dein Elend?
Antwort.—Aus dem Gesetz Gottes.

Frage 4.—Was erfordert denn das göttliche Gesetz von uns?
Antwort.—Dies lehret uns Christus in einer Summa: Du sollst lieben Gott deinen Herrn von ganzem Herzen, von ganzer Seele, von ganzem Gemüth, und allen Kräften. Dies ist das vornehmste und grösste Gebot. Das andere aber ist dem gleich: Du sollst deinen Nächsten lieben als dich selbst. In diesen zweien Geboten hanget das ganze Gesetz und die Propheten.

Frage 5.—Kannst du dieses Alles vollkommen halten?
Antwort.—Nein: denn ich bin von Natur geneigt Gott und meinen Nächsten zu hassen.

Frage 6.—Hat denn Gott den Menschen also bös und verkehrt erschaffen?
Antwort.—Nein: sondern Gott hat den Menschen gut und nach seinem Ebenbild erschaffen, das ist, in wahrhaftiger Gerechtigkeit und Heiligkeit; auf dass er Gott seinen Schöpfer recht erkenne, und von Herzen liebe, und in ewiger Seligkeit mit Ihm lebe, Ihn zu loben und zu preisen.

Frage 7.—Woher kommt denn solche verderbte Art des Menschen?
Antwort.—Aus dem Fall und Ungehorsam unserer ersten Eltern, Adam und Eva, im Paradies, da unsere Natur also vergiftet worden, dass wir Alle in Sünden empfangen und geboren werden.

Frage 8.—Sind wir aber dermassen verderbt, dass wir ganz und gar untüchtig sind zu einigem Guten und geneigt zu allem Bösen?
Antwort.—Ja: es sei denn, dass wir durch den Geist Gottes wiedergeboren werden.

Frage 9.—Thut denn Gott dem Menschen nicht Unrecht, dass Er in seinem Gesetze von ihm fordert was er nicht thun kann?
Antwort.—Nein: denn Gott hat den Menschen also erschaffen dass er es konnte thun; der Mensch aber hat sich und alle seine Nachkommen, aus Anstiftung des Teufels, durch muthwilligen Ungehorsam derselbigen Gaben beraubet.

Frage 10.—Will Gott solchen Ungehorsam und Abfall ungestraft lassen hingehen?
Antwort.—Mit nichten; sondern Er zürnet schrecklich, beides über angeborne und wirkliche Sünden, und will sie aus gerechtem Urtheil zeitlich und ewig strafen, wie Er gesprochen hat: Verflucht sei Jedermann, der nicht bleibet in allem dem, das geschrieben stehet in dem Buch des Gesetzes, dass er es thue.

Frage 11.—Ist denn Gott nicht auch barmherzig?
Antwort.—Gott ist wohl barmherzig, Er ist aber auch gerecht; derhalben erfordert seine Gerechtigkeit dass die Sünde, welche wider die allerhöchste Majestät Gottes begangen ist, auch mit der höchsten, das ist, der ewigen Strafe an Leib und Seele gestraft werde.



Frage 12.—Dieweil wir denn nach dem gerechten Urtheil Gottes zeitliche und ewige Strafe verdienet haben, wie möchten wir dieser Strafe entgehen und wiederum zu Gnaden kommen?
Antwort.—Gott will dass seiner Gerechtigkeit genug geschehe; deswegen müssen wir derselben entweder durch uns selbst oder durch einen Andern vollkommene Bezahlung thun.

Frage 13.—Können wir aber durch uns selbst Bezahlung thun?
Antwort.—Mit nichten: sondern wir machen auch die Schuld noch täglich grösser.

Frage 14.—Kann aber irgend eine blosse Creatur für uns bezahlen?
Antwort.—Keine: denn erstlich will Gott an keiner andern Creatur strafen was der Mensch verschuldet hat; zum Andern, so kann auch keine blosse Creatur die Last des ewigen Zornes Gottes wider die Sünde ertragen, und Andere davon erlösen.

Frage 15.—Was müssen wir denn für einen Mittler und Erlöser suchen?
Antwort.—Einen solchen, der ein wahrer und gerechter Mensch, und doch stärker denn alle Creaturen, das ist, zugleich wahrer Gott sei.

Frage 16.—Warum muss Er ein wahrer und gerechter Mensch sein?
Antwort.—Darum, weil die Gerechtigkeit Gottes erfordert dass die menschliche Natur, die gesündiget hat, für die Sünde bezahle; aber Einer, der selbst ein Sünder wäre, nicht könnte für Andere bezahlen.

Frage 17.—Warum muss Er zugleich wahrer Gott sein?
Antwort.—Dass Er aus Kraft seiner Gottheit die Last des Zornes Gottes an seiner Menschheit ertragen, und uns die Gerechtigkeit und das Leben erwerben und wieder geben möchte.

Frage 18.—Wer ist aber derselbe Mittler, der zugleich wahrer Gott und ein wahrer gerechter Mensch ist?
Antwort.—Unser Herr Jesus Christus, der uns zur vollkommenen Erlösung und Gerechtigkeit geschenkt ist.

Frage 19.—Woher weisst du das?
Antwort.—Aus dem heiligen Evangelio: welches Gott selbst anfänglich im Paradies hat geoffenbaret; in der Folge durch die heiligen Erzväter und Propheten lassen verkündigen, und durch die Opfer und andere Ceremonien des Gesetzes vorgebildet; endlich aber durch seinen eingeliebten Sohn erfüllet.

Frage 20.—Werden denn alle Menschen wiederum durch Christum selig, wie sie durch Adam sind verloren worden?
Antwort.—Nein: sondern allein diejenigen, die durch wahren Glauben Ihm werden einverleibt, und alle seine Wohlthaten annehmen.

Frage 21.—Was ist wahrer Glaube?
Antwort.—Es ist nicht allein eine gewisse Erkenntniss, dadurch ich Alles für wahr halte was uns Gott in seinem Worte hat geoffenbaret; sondern auch ein herzliches Vertrauen, welches der heilige Geist durch das Evangelium in mir wirket, dass nicht allein Andern sondern auch mir Vergebung der Sünden, ewige Gerechtigkeit und Seligkeit von Gott geschenket sei, aus lauter Gnaden, allein um des Verdienstes Christi willen.

Frage 22.—Was ist aber einem Christen nöthig zu glauben?
Antwort.—Alles, was uns in Evangelio verheissen wird, welches uns die Artikel unseres allgemeinen, ungezweifelten christlichen Glaubens in einer Summa lehren.

Frage 23.—Wie lauten dieselben?
Antwort.—Ich glaube in Gott Vater, den Allmächtigen, Schöpfer Himmels und der Erden. Und in Jesum Christum, seinen eingebornen Sohn, unsern Herrn: der empfangen ist von dem heiligen Geiste, geboren aus Maria der Jungfrau; gelitten unter Pontio Pilato, gekreuziget, gestorben und begraben; hinabgefahren in das Todtenreich; am dritten Tage wieder auferstanden von den Todten; aufgefahren gen Himmel; sitzet zu der Rechten Gottes des allmächtigen Vaters; von dannen Er kommen wird zu richten die Lebendigen und die Todten. Ich glaube in den heiligen Geist; eine heilige allgemeine Kirche; die Gemeinschaft der Heiligen; Vergebung der Sunden; Auferstehung des Fleisches, und ein ewiges Leben.

Frage 24.—Wie werden diese Artikel abgetheilt?
Antwort.—In drei Theile: Der erste ist von Gott dem Vater, und unserer Erschaffung; der andere von Gott dem Sohne, und unserer Erlösung; der dritte von Gott dem heiligen Geiste, und unserer Heiligung.

Frage 25.—Dieweil nur ein einiges göttliches Wesen ist, warum nennest du drei, den Vater, Sohn, und heiligen Geist?
Antwort.—Darum, weil sich Gott also in seinem Wort geoffenbaret hat, dass diese drei unterschiedlichen Personen der einige, wahrhaftige, ewige Gott sind.


Frage 26.—Was glaubest du wenn du sprichst: Ich glaube in Gott Vater, den Allmächtigen, Schöpfer Himmels und der Erden?
Antwort.—Dass der ewige Vater unseres Herrn Jesu Christi, der Himmel und Erde, sammt allem was darinnen ist, aus nichts erschaffen, auch dieselbigen noch durch seinen ewigen Rath und Vorsehung erhält und regiert, um seines Sohnes Christi willen mein Gott und mein Vater sei; auf welchen ich also vertraue, dass ich nicht zweifle, Er werde mich mit aller Nothdurft Leibes und der Seele versorgen; auch alles Uebel, so Er mir in diesem Jammerthal zuschickt, mir zu gut wenden; dieweil Er es thun kann, als ein allmächtiger Gott, und auch thun will, als ein getreuer Vater.

Frage 27.—Was verstehst du unter der Vorsehung Gottes?
Antwort.—Die allmächtige und gegenwärtige Kraft Gottes, durch welche Er Himmel und Erde, sammt allen Creaturen, gleich als mit seiner Hand noch erhält, und also regiert, dass Laub und Gras, Regen und Dürre, fruchtbare und unfruchtbare Jahre, Essen und Trinken, Gesundheit und Krankheit, Reichthum und Armuth, und Alles, nicht von ohngefähr, sondern von seiner väterlichen Hand uns zukomme.

Frage 28.—Was für Nutzen bekommen wir aus der Erkenntniss der Schöpfung und Vorsehung Gottes?
Antwort.—Dass wir in aller Widerwärtigkeit geduldig, in Glückseligkeit dankbar, und auf’s Zukünftige guter Zuversicht zu unserm getreuen Gott und Vater sein sollen, dass uns keine Creatur von seiner Liebe scheiden wird; dieweil alle Creaturen also in seiner Hand sind, dass sie sich ohne seinen Willen auch nicht regen noch bewegen können.


Frage 29.—Warum wird der Sohn Gottes Jesus, das ist, Seligmacher genannt?
Antwort.—Darum, weil Er uns selig macht von unsern Sünden, und weil bei keinem Andern einige Seligkeit zu suchen noch zu finden ist.

Frage 30.—Glauben denn die auch an den einigen Seligmacher Jesum, die ihre Seligkeit und Heil bei Heiligen, bei sich selbst, oder anderswo suchen?
Antwort.—Nein: sondern sie verläugnen mit der That den einigen Seligmacher und Heiland Jesum, ob sie sich sein gleich rühmen. Denn entweder Jesus nicht ein vollkommener Heiland sein muss, oder die diesen Heiland mit wahrem Glauben annehmen müssen Alles in Ihm haben, das zu ihrer Seligkeit vonnöthen ist.

Frage 31.—Warum ist Er Christus, das ist, ein Gesalbter genannt?
Antwort.—Weil Er von Gott dem Vater verordnet, und mit dem heiligen Geiste gesalbet ist, zu unserm obersten Propheten und Lehrer, der uns den heimlichen Rath und Willen Gottes von unserer Erlösung vollkommen offenbaret; und zu unserm einigen Hohenpriester, der uns mit dem einigen Opfer seines Leibes erlöset hat, und immerdar mit seiner Fürbitte vor dem Vater vertritt; und zu unserm ewigen König, der uns mit seinem Wort und Geist regiert, und bei der erwordenen Erlösung schützet und erhält.

Frage 32.—Warum wirst aber du ein Christ genannt?
Antwort.—Weil ich durch den Glauben ein Glied Christi, und also seiner Salbung theilhaftig bin; auf dass auch ich seinen Namen bekenne, mich Ihm zu einem lebendigen Dankopfer darstelle, und mit freiem Gewissen in diesem Leben wider die Sünde und den Teufel streite, und hernach in Ewigkeit mit Ihm über alle Creaturen herrsche.

Frage 33.—Warum heisst Er Gottes eingeborner Sohn, so doch wir auch Kinder Gottes sind?
Antwort.—Darum, weil Christus allein der ewige natürliche Sohn Gottes ist; wir aber um seinetwillen aus Gnaden zu Kindern Gottes angenommen sind.

Frage 34.—Warum nennest du Ihn unsern Herrn?
Antwort.—Weil Er uns mit Leib und Seele von der Sünde, und aus aller Gewalt des Teufels, nicht mit Gold oder Silber, sondern mit seinem theuren Blut, Ihm zum Eigenthum erlöset und erkaufet hat.

Frage 35.—Was heisst, dass Er empfangen ist von dem heiligen Geiste, geboren aus Maria der Jungfrau?
Antwort.—Dass der ewige Sohn Gottes, der wahrer und ewiger Gott ist und bleibet, wahre menschliche Natur aus dem Fleisch und Blut der Jungfrau Maria, durch Wirkung des heiligen Geistes, an sich genommen hat; auf dass Er auch der wahre Same Davids sei, seinen Brüdern in Allem gleich, ausgenommen die Sünde.

Frage 36.—Was für Nutzen bekommst du aus der heiligen Empfängniss und Geburt Christi?
Antwort.—Dass Er unser Mittler ist, und mit seiner Unschuld und vollkommenen Heiligkeit meine Sünde, darin ich bin empfangen, vor Gottes Angesicht bedecket.

Frage 37.—Was verstehst du unter dem Wörtlein, Gelitten?
Antwort.—Dass Er an Leib und Seele die ganze Zeit seines Lebens auf Erden, sonderlich aber am Ende desselben, den Zorn Gottes wider die Sünde des ganzen menschlichen Geschlechts getragen hat, auf dass Er mit seinem Leiden, als mit dem einigen Sühnopfer, unsern Leib und Seele von der ewigen Verdammniss erlösete, und uns Gottes Gnade, Gerechtigkeit und ewiges Leben erwürbe.

Frage 38.—Warum hat Er unter dem Richter Pontio Pilato gelitten?
Antwort.—Auf dass Er unschuldig unter dem weltlichen Richter verdammet würde, und uns damit von dem strengen Urtheil Gottes, das über uns ergehen sollte, erledigte.

Frage 39.—Ist es etwas mehr, dass Er ist gekreuziget worden, denn so Er eines andern Todes gestorben wäre?
Antwort.—Ja: denn dadurch bin ich gewiss dass Er die Vermaledeiung, die auf mir lag, auf sich geladen habe; dieweil der Tod des Kreuzes von Gott verflucht war.

Frage 40.—Warum hat Christus den Tod müssen leiden?
Antwort.—Darum, weil wegen der Gerechtigkeit und Wahrheit Gottes nicht anders für unsere Sünden möchte bezahlet werden, denn durch den Tod des Sohnes Gottes.

Frage 41.—Warum ist Er begraben worden?
Antwort.—Damit zu bezeugen, dass Er wahrhaftig gestorben sei.

Frage 42.—Weil, denn, Christus für uns gestorben ist, wie kommt es dass wir auch sterben müssen?
Antwort.—Unser Tod ist nicht eine Bezahlung für unsere Sünde, sondern nur eine Absterbung der Sünden, und Eingang zum ewigen Leben.

Frage 43.—Was bekommen wir mehr für Nutzen aus dem Opfer und Tod Christi am Kreuz?
Antwort.—Dass durch seine Kraft unser alter Mensch mit Ihm gekreuziget, getödtet und begraben wird, auf dass die bösen Lüste des Fleisches nicht mehr in uns regieren, sondern dass wir uns selbst Ihm zur Danksagung aufopfern.

Frage 44.—Warum folget: Hinabgefahren in das Todtenreich?
Antwort.—Dass ich in meinen höchsten Anfechtungen versichert sei, mein Herr Christus habe mich durch seine unaussprechliche Angst, Schmerzen und Schrecken, die Er auch an seiner Seele am Kreuz und zuvor erlitten, von der höllischen Angst und Pein erlöset.

Frage 45.—Was nützet uns die Auferstehung Christi?
Antwort.—Erstlich hat Er durch seine Auferstehung den Tod überwunden, dass Er uns der Gerechtigkeit, die Er uns durch seinen Tod erworben hat, könnte theilhaftig machen. Zum Andern, werden auch wir jetzt durch seine Kraft erwecket zu einem neuen Leben. Zum Dritten, ist uns die Auferstehung Christi ein gewisses Pfand unserer seligen Auferstehung.

Frage 46.—Wie verstehst du, dass Er ist gen Himmel gefahren?
Antwort.—Dass Christus vor den Augen seiner Jünger ist von der Erde aufgehoben gen Himmel, und uns zu gut daselbst ist, bis dass Er wiederkommt zu richten die Lebendigen und die Todten.

Frage 47.—Ist denn Christus nicht bei uns bis an das Ende der Welt, wie Er uns verheissen hat?
Antwort.—Christus ist wahrer Mensch und wahrer Gott: nach seiner menschlichen Natur ist Er jetzt nicht auf Erden; aber nach seiner Gottheit, Majestät, Gnade und Geist, weicht Er nimmer von uns.

Frage 48.—Werden aber auf diese Weise die zwei Naturen in Christo nicht von einander getrennt, so die Menschheit nicht überall ist, da die Gottheit ist?
Antwort.—Mit nichten: denn weil die Gottheit unbegreiflich und allenthalben gegenwärtig ist, so muss folgen dass sie wohl ausserhalb ihrer angenommenen Menschheit, und dennoch nichts destoweniger auch in derselben ist, und persönlich mit ihr vereiniget bleibt.

Frage 49.—Was nützet uns die Himmelfahrt Christi?
Antwort.—Erstlich, dass Er im Himmel vor dem Angesicht seines Vaters unser Fürsprecher ist. Zum Andern, dass wir unser Fleisch im Himmel zu einem sichern Pfand haben, dass Er, als das Haupt, uns seine Glieder auch zu sich werde hinauf nehmen. Zum Dritten, dass Er uns seinen Geist zum Gegenpfand herabsendet, durch welches Kraft wir suchen was droben ist, da Christus ist, sitzend zur Rechten Gottes, und nicht das auf Erden ist.

Frage 50.—Warum wird hinzugesetzt, dass Er sitze zur Rechten Gottes?
Antwort.—Dass Christus darum gen Himmel gefahren ist, dass Er sich daselbst erzeige als das Haupt seiner christlichen Kirche, durch welches der Vater Alles regiert.

Frage 51.—Was nützet uns diese Herrlichkeit unsers Hauptes Christi?
Antwort.—Erstlich, dass Er durch seinen heiligen Geist in uns, seine Glieder, die himmlischen Gaben ausgiesst. Darnach, dass Er uns mit seiner Gewalt wider alle Feinde schützet und erhält.

Frage 52.—Was tröstet dich die Wiederkunft Christi, zu richten die Lebendigen und die Todten?
Antwort.—Dass ich in aller Trübsal und Verfolgung mit aufgerichtetem Haupt eben des Richters, der sich zuvor dem Gerichte Gottes für mich dargestellt und alle Vermaledeiung von mir hinweg genommen hat, aus dem Himmel gewärtig bin; dass Er alle seine und meine Feinde in die ewige Verdammniss werfe, mich aber, sammt allen Auserwählten, zu sich in die himmlische Freude und Herrlichkeit nehme.


Frage 53.—Was glaubest du vom heiligen Geiste?
Antwort.—Erstlich, dass Er gleich ewiger Gott mit dem Vater und dem Sohne ist. Zum Andern, dass Er auch mir gegeben ist, mich durch einen wahren Glauben Christi und aller seiner Wohlthaten theilhaftig macht, mich tröstet, und bei mir bleiben wird bis in Ewigkeit.

Frage 54.—Was glaubst du von der heiligen allgemeinen Kirche?
Antwort.—Dass der Sohn Gottes, aus dem ganzen menschlichen Geschlecht, sich eine auserwählte Gemeine zum ewigen Leben, durch seinen Geist und Wort, in Einigkeit des wahren Glaubens, von Anbeginn der Welt bis an’s Ende versammle, schütze und erhalte, und dass ich derselben ein lebendiges Glied bin und ewig bleiben werde.

Frage 55.—Was verstehst du durch die Gemeinschaft der Heiligen?
Antwort.—Erstlich, dass alle und jede Gläubigen, als Glieder, an dem Herrn Christo und allen seinen Schätzen und Gaben Gemeinschaft haben. Zum Andern, dass ein Jeder seine Gaben zu Nutz und Heil der andern Glieder willig und mit Freuden auzulegen sich schuldig wissen soll.

Frage 56.—Was glaubest du von der Vergebung der Sünden?
Antwort.—Dass Gott um der Genugthuung Christi willen aller meiner Sünden, auch der sündlichen Art, mit der ich mein Leben lang zu streiten habe, nimmermehr gedenken will, sondern mir die Gerechtigkeit Christi aus Gnaden schenket, dass ich in’s Gericht nimmermehr soll kommen.

Frage 57.—Was tröstet dich die Auferstehung des Fleisches?
Antwort.—Dass nicht allein meine Seele nach diesem Leben alsbald zu Christo ihrem Haupt genommen wird; sondern auch, dass dies mein Fleisch, durch die Kraft Christi auferwecket, wieder mit meiner Seele vereiniget, und dem heiligen Leibe Christi gleichförmig werden soll.

Frage 58.—Was tröstet dich der Artikel vom ewigen Leben?
Antwort.—Dass, nachdem ich jetzt den Anfang der ewigen Freude in meinem Herzen empfinde, ich nach diesem Leben vollkommene Seligkeit besitzen werde, die kein Auge gesehen, kein Ohr gehöret, und in keines Menschen Herz gekommen ist; Gott ewiglich darin zu preisen.

Frage 59.—Was hilft es dir aber nun, wenn du dies Alles glaubest?
Antwort.—Dass ich in Christo vor Gott gerecht, und ein Erde des ewigen Lebens bin.

Frage 60.—Wie bist du gerecht vor Gott?
Antwort.—Allein durch wahren Glauben an Jesum Christum. Also, dass ob mich schon mein Gewissen anklagt, dass ich wider alle Gebote Gottes schwerlich gesündiget, und derselben keines je gehalten habe, auch noch immerdar zu allem Bösen geneigt bin, doch Gott ohne all mein Verdienst, aus lauter Gnaden, mir die vollkommene Genugthuung, Gerechtigkeit und Heiligkeit Christi schenket und zurechnet, als hätte ich nie eine Sünde begangen noch gehabt, und selbst allen den Gehorsam vollbracht, den Christus für mich hat geleistet, wenn ich allein solche Wohlthat mit gläubigen Herzen annehme.

Frage 61.—Warum sagst du, dass du allein durch den Glauben gerecht seiest?
Antwort.—Nicht dass ich von wegen der Würdigkeit meines Glaubens Gott gefalle; sondern darum, dass allein die Genugthuung, Gerechtigkeit und Heiligkeit Christi meine Gerechtigkeit vor Gott ist, und ich dieselbe nicht anders denn allein durch den Glauben annehmen und mir zueignen kann.

Frage 62.—Warum können aber unsere guten Werke nicht die Gerechtigkeit vor Gott oder ein Stück derselben sein?
Antwort.—Darum, weil die Gerechtigkeit, so vor Gottes Gericht bestehen soll, durchaus vollkommen und dem göttlichen Gesetz ganz gleichförmig sein muss; aber auch unsere besten Werke in diesem Leben alle unvollkommen und mit Sünden befleckt sind.

Frage 63.—Verdienen aber unsere guten Werke nichts, so sie doch Gott in diesem und dem zukünftigen Leben will belohnen?
Antwort.—Die Belohnung geschieht nicht aus Verdienst, sondern aus Gnaden.

Frage 64.—Macht aber diese Lehre nicht sorglose und verruchte Leute?
Antwort.—Nein; denn es unmöglich ist dass die, so Christo durch wahren Glauben sind eingepflanzet, nicht Frucht der Dankbarkeit sollen bringen.


Frage 65.—Dieweil denn allein der Glaube uns Christi und aller seiner Wohlthaten theilhaftig macht, woher kommt solcher Glaube?
Antwort.—Der heilige Geist wirket denselben in unsern Herzen durch die Predigt des heiligen Evangeliums, und bestätiget ihn durch den Gebrauch der heiligen Sacramente.

Frage 66.—Was sind die Sacramente?
Antwort.—Es sind sichtbare heilige Wahrzeichen und Siegel, von Gott dazu eingesetzt, dass Er uns durch den Gebrauch derselben die Verheissung des Evangeliums desto besser zu verstehen gebe und versiegele: nämlich, dass Er uns von wegen des einigen Opfers Christi, am Kreuz vollbracht, Vergebung der Sünden und ewiges Leben aus Gnaden schenke.

Frage 67.—Sind denn beide, das Wort und die Sacramente, dahin gerichtet, dass sie unsern Glauben auf das Opfer Jesu Christi am Kreuz, als auf den einigen Grund unserer Seligkeit, weisen?
Antwort.—Ja freilich; denn der heilige Geist lehret im Evangelio, und bestätiget durch die heiligen Sacramente, dass unsere ganze Seligkeit stehe in dem einigen Opfer Christi für uns am Kreuz geschehen.

Frage 68.—Wie viel Sacramente hat Christus in neuen Testament eingesetzt?
Antwort.—Zwei: die heilige Taufe, und das heilige Abendmahl.


Frage 69.—Wie wirst du in der heiligen Taufe erinnert und versichert, dass das einige Opfer Christi am Kreuz dir zu gut komme?
Antwort.—Also, dass Christus dieses äusserliche Wasserbad eingesetzt, und dabei verheissen hat, dass ich so gewiss mit seinem Blut und Geist von der Unreinigkeit meiner Seele, das ist, allen meinen Sünden gewaschen sei, so gewiss ich äusserlich mit dem Wasser, welches die Unsauberkeit des Leibes pflegt hinzunehmen, gewaschen bin.

Frage 70.—Was heisst mit dem Blut und Geist Christi gewaschen sein?
Antwort.—Es heisst, Vergebung der Sünden von Gott aus Gnaden haben, um des Blutes Christi willen, welches Er in seinem Opfer am Kreuz für uns vergossen hat; darnach auch durch den heiligen Geist erneuert, und zu einem Glied Christi geheiliget sein, dass wir je länger je mehr der Sünde absterben, und in einem gottseligen, unsträflichen Leben wandeln.

Frage 71.—Wo hat Christus verheissen dass wir so gewiss mit seinem Blut und Geist als mit dem Taufwasser gewaschen sind?
Antwort.—In der Einsetzung der Taufe, welche also lautet: Gehet hin, und lehret alle Völker, und taufet sie im Namen des Vaters, und des Sohnes, und des heiligen Geistes. Wer da glaubet und getauft wird, der wird selig werden; wer aber nicht glaubet, der wird verdammt werden. Diese Verheissung wird auch wiederholt, da die Schrift die Taufe das Bad der Wiedergeburt und die Abwaschung der Sünden nennet.

Frage 72.—Ist denn das aüsserliche Wasserbad die Abwaschung der Sünden selbst?
Antwort.—Nein; denn allein das Blut Jesu Christi und der heilige Geist reiniget uns von allen Sünden.

Frage 73.—Warum nennet denn der heilige Geist die Taufe das Bad der Wiedergeburt und die Abwaschung der Sünden?
Antwort.—Gott redet also nicht ohne grosse Ursache: nämlich, nicht allein dass Er uns damit will lehren dass, gleichwie die Unsauberkeit des Leibes durch Wasser, also unsere Sünden durch’s Blut und Geist Christi hinweg genommen werden; sondern vielmehr, dass Er uns durch dies göttliche Pfand und Wahrzeichen will versichern, dass wir so wahrhaftig von unsern Sünden geistlich gewaschen sind, als wir mit dem leiblichen Wasser gewaschen werden.

Frage 74.—Soll man auch die jungen Kinder taufen?
Antwort.—Ja. Denn dieweil sie sowohl als die Alten in den Bund Gottes und seine Gemeine gehören, und ihnen in dem Blut Christi die Erlösung von Sünden und der heilige Geist, welcher den Glauben wirket, nicht weniger denn den Alten zugesagt wird; so sollen sie auch durch die Taufe, als des Bundes Zeichen, der christlichen Kirche einverleibt und von der Ungläubigen Kinder unterschieden werden, wie im alten Testament durch die Beschneidung geschehen ist, an welcher Statt im neuen Testament die Taufe ist eingesetzt.


Frage 75.—Wie wirst du im heiligen Abendmahl erinnert und versichert, dass du an dem einigen Opfer Christi am Kreuz und allen seinen Gütern Gemeinschaft habest?
Antwort.—Also, dass Christus mir und allen Gläubigen von diesem gebrochenen Brot zu essen, und von diesem Kelch zu trinken befohlen hat, und dabei verheissen: Erstlich, dass sein Leib so gewiss für mich am Kreuz geopfert und gebrochen, und sein Blut für mich vergossen sei, so gewiss ich mit Augen sehe dass das Brot des Herrn mir gebrochen und der Kelch mir mitgetheilet wird; und zum Andern, dass Er selbst meine Seele mit seinem gekreuzigten Leib und vergossenen Blut so gewiss zum ewigen Leben speise und tränke, als ich aus der Hand des Dieners empfange und leiblich geniesse das Brot und den Kelch des Herrn, welche mir als gewisse Wahrzeichen des Leibes und Bluts Christi gegeben werden.

Frage 76.—Was heisst den gekreuzigten Leib Christi essen und sein vergossenes Blut trinken?
Antwort.—Es heisst nicht allein mit gläubigem Herzen das ganze Leiden und Sterben Christi annehmen, und dadurch Vergebung der Sünden und ewiges Leben bekommen; sondern auch daneben durch den heiligen Geist, der zugleich in Christo und in uns wohnet, also mit seinem gebenedeiten Leibe je mehr und mehr vereiniget werden, dass wir, obgleich Er im Himmel und wir auf Erden sind, dennoch Fleisch von seinem Fleisch und Bein von seinen Gebeine sind, und von einem Geiste, wie die Glieder unseres Leibes von einer Seele, ewig leben und regiert werden.

Frage 77.—Wo hat Christus verheissen dass Er die Gläubigen so gewiss also mit seinem Leib und Blut speise und tränke, als sie von diesem gebrochenen Brot essen und von diesem Kelch trinken?
Antwort.—In der Einsetzung des Abendmahls, welche also lautet: Unser Herr Jesus, in der Nacht da Er verrathen ward, nahm Er das Brot, dankete, und brach es, und sprach: Nehmet, esset, das ist mein Leib, der für euch gebrochen wird; solches thut zu meinem Gedächtniss. Desselben gleichen auch den Kelch, nach dem Abendmahl, und sprach: Dieser Kelch ist das neue Testament in meinem Blut; solches thut, so oft ihr es trinket, zu meinem Gedächtniss, Denn so oft ihr von diesem Brot esset, und von diesem Kelch trinket, sollt ihr des Herrn Tod verkündigen, bis dass Er kommt. Und diese Verheissung wird auch wiederholet durch St. Paulum, da er spricht: Der Kelch der Danksagung, damit wir danksagen, ist er nicht die Gemeinschaft des Blutes Christi? Das Brot, das wir brechen, ist das nicht die Gemeinschaft des Leibes Christi? Denn Ein Brot ist es, so sind wir viele Ein Leib, dieweil wir alle Eines Brots theilhaftig sind.

Frage 78.—Wird denn aus Brot und Wein der wesentliche Leib und Blut Christi?
Antwort.—Nein: sondern wie das Wasser in der Taufe nicht in das Blut Christi verwandelt, oder die Abwaschung der Sünden selbst wird, deren es allein ein göttliches Wahrzeichen und Versicherung ist; also wird auch das heilige Brot im Abendmahl nicht der Leib Christi selbst, wiewohl es nach Art und Gebrauch der Sacramente der Leib Christi genennet wird.

Frage 79.—Warum nennet denn Christus das Brot seinen Leib, und den Kelch sein Blut, oder das neue Testament in seinem Blut; und St. Paulus, die Gemeinschaft des Leibes und Blutes Jesu Christi?
Antwort.—Christus redet also nicht ohne grosse Ursache: nämlich, dass Er uns nicht allein damit will lehren dass, gleichwie Brot und Wein das zeitliche Leben erhalten, also sei auch sein gekreuzigter Leib und vergossenes Blut die wahre Speise und Trank unserer Seelen zum ewigen Leben; sondern vielmehr, dass Er uns durch dieses sichtbare Zeichen und Pfand will versichern, dass wir so wahrhaftig seines wahren Leibes und Blutes durch Wirkung des heiligen Geistes theilhaftig werden, als wir diese heiligen Wahrzeichen mit dem leiblichen Mund zu seinem Gedächtniss empfangen; und class all sein Leiden und Gehorsam so gewiss unser eigen sei, als hätten wir selbst in unserer eigenen Person alles gelitten und genug gethan.

Frage 80.—Was ist für ein Unterschied zwischen dem Abendmahl des Herrn und der päpstlichen Messe?
Antwort.—Das Abendmahl bezeuget uns dass wir vollkommene Vergebung aller unserer Sünden haben durch das einige Opfer Jesu Christi, so Er selbst einmal am Kreuz vollbracht hat; und dass wir durch den heiligen Geist Christo werden einverleibet, der jetzt mit seinem wahren Leib im Himmel zur Rechten des Vaters ist, und daselbst will angebetet werden. Die Messe aber lehret dass die Lebendigen und die Todten nicht durch das Leiden Christi Vergebung der Sünden haben, es sei denn dass Christus noch täglich für sie von den Messpriestern geopfert werde; und dass Christus leiblich unter der Gestalt Brots und Weins sei, und derhalben darin soll angebetet werden. [Und ist also die Messe im Grunde nichts anders denn eine Verläugnung des einigen Opfers und Leidens Jesu Christi, und eine vermaledeite Abgötterei.]

Frage 81.—Welche sollen zum Tische des Herrn kommen?
Antwort.—Die sich selbst um ihrer Sünden willen missfallen, und doch vertrauen dass dieselbigen ihnen verziehen, und die übrige Schwachheit mit dem Leiden und Sterben Christi bedeckt sei; begehren auch je mehr und mehr ihren Glauben zu stärken und ihr Leben zu bessern. Die Unbussfertigen aber und Heuchler essen und trinken sich selbst das Gericht.

Frage 82.—Sollen aber zu diesem Abendmahl auch zugelassen werden, die sich mit ihrem Bekenntniss und Leben als Ungläubige und Gottlose erzeigen?
Antwort.—Nein: denn es wird also der Bund Gottes geschmähet, und sein Zorn über die ganze Gemeinde gereizet; derhalben die christliche Kirche schuldig ist, nach der Ordnung Christi und seiner Apostel, solche bis zur Besserung ihres Lebens durch das Amt der Schlüssel auszuschliessen.

Frage 83.—Was ist das Amt der Schlüssel?
Antwort.—Die Predigt des heiligen Evangeliums und die christliche Busszucht; durch welche beide Stücke das Himmelreich den Gläubigen aufgeschlossen und den Ungläubigen zugeschlossen wird.

Frage 84.—Wie wird das Himmelreich durch die Predigt des heiligen Evangeliums auf und zugeschlossen?
Antwort.—Also, dass nach dem Befehl Christi allen und jeden Gläubigen verkündigt und öffentlich bezeuget wird dass ihnen, so oft sie die Verheissung des Evangeliums mit wahrem Glauben annehmen, wahrhaftig alle ihre Sünden von Gott, um des Verdienstes Christi willen, vergeben sind; und hinwiederum allen Ungläubigen und Heuchlern, dass der Zorn Gottes und die ewige Verdammniss auf ihnen liegt, so lange sie sich nicht bekehren: nach welchem Zeugniss des Evangeliums, Gott beide in diesem und dem zukünftigen Leben urtheilen will.

Frage 85.—Wie wird das Himmelreich zu und aufgeschlossen durch die christliche Busszucht?
Antwort.—Also, dass nach dem Befehl Christi diejenigen, so unter dem christlichen Namen unchristliche Lehre oder Wandel führen, nachdem sie etlichemal brüderlich vermahnet sind, und von ihren Irrthümern oder Lastern nicht abstehen, der Kirche, oder denen so von der Kirche dazu verordnet sind, angezeiget, und so sie sich an derselben Vermahnung auch nicht kehren, von ihnen durch Verbietung der heiligen Sacramente aus der christlichen Gemeine, und von Gott selbst aus dem Reich Christi werden ausgeschlossen; und wiederum als Glieder Christi und der Kirche angenommen, wenn sie wahre Besserung verheissen und erzeigen.



Frage 86.—Dieweil wir denn aus unserm Elend, ohne all unser Verdienst, aus Gnaden durch Christum erlöset sind, warum sollen wir gute Werke thun?
Antwort.—Darum, dass Christus, nachdem Er uns mit seinem Blut erkauft hat, uns auch durch seinen heiligen Geist erneuert zu seinem Ebenbild, dass wir mit unserm ganzen Leben uns dankbar gegen Gott für seine Wohlthat erzeigen, und Er durch uns gepriesen werde. Darnach auch, dass wir bei uns selbst unsers Glaubens aus seinen Früchten gewiss seien, und mit unserm gottseligen Wandel unsern Nächsten auch Christo gewinnen.

Frage 87.—Können denn die nicht selig werden, die sich von ihrem undankbaren, unbussfertigen Wandel zu Gott nicht bekehren?
Antwort.—Keineswegs: denn, wie die Schrift sagt, kein Unkeuscher, Abgöttischer, Ehebrecher, Dieb, Geiziger, Trunkenbold, Lästerer, Räuber und dergleichen, wird das Reich Gottes erben.

Frage 88.—In wie viel Stücken besteht die wahrhaftige Busse oder Bekehrung des Menschen?
Antwort.—In zwei Stücken: in Absterbung des alten, und Auferstehung des neuen Menschen.

Frage 89.—Was ist die Absterbung des alten Menschen?
Antwort.—Sich die Sünde von Herzen lassen leid sein; und dieselbe je länger je mehr hassen und fliehen.

Frage 90.—Was ist die Auferstehung des neuen Menschen?
Antwort.—Herzliche Freude in Gott; und Lust und Liebe haben, nach dem Willen Gottes in allen guten Werken zu leben.

Frage 91.—Welches sind aber gute Werke?
Antwort.—Allein die aus wahrem Glauben, nach dem Gesetz Gottes, Ihm zu Ehren geschehen; und nicht die auf unser Gutdünken oder Menschensatzung gegründet sind.

Frage 92.—Wie lautet das Gesetz des Herrn?
Antwort.—Gott redet alle diese Worte:


Ich bin der Herr, dein Gott, der Ich dich aus Egyptenland, aus dem Diensthause, geführet habe. Du sollst keine anderen Götter vor Mir haben.


Du sollst dir kein Bildniss, noch irgend ein Gleichniss machen, weder dess, das oben im Himmel, noch dess, das unten auf Erden, oder dess, das im Wasser unter der Erde ist; du sollst sie nicht anbeten, noch ihnen dienen. Denn Ich, der Herr, dein Gott, bin ein starker, eifriger Gott, der die Missethat der Väter heimsucht an den Kindern bis in’s dritte und vierte Glied derer, die Mich hassen; und thue Barmherzigkeit an vielen Tausenden, die Mich lieben und meine Gebote halten.


Du sollst den Namen des Herrn, deines Gottes, nicht missbrauchen; denn der Herr wird den nicht ungestraft lassen, der seinen Namen missbraucht.


Gedenke des Sabbathtages, dass du ihn heiligest. Sechs Tage sollst du arbeiten, und alle deine Werke thun; aber am siebenten Tage ist der Sabbath des Herrn, deines Gottes; da sollst du keine Arbeit thun, noch dein Sohn, noch deine Tochter, noch dein Knecht, noch deine Magd, noch dein Vieh, noch der Fremdling der in deinen Thoren ist. Denn in sechs Tagen hat der Herr Himmel und Erde gemacht, und das Meer, und alles was darinnen ist, und ruhete am siebenten Tage; darum segnete der Herr den Sabbathtag, und heiligte ihn.


Du sollst deinen Vater und deine Mutter ehren, auf dass du lange lebest im Lande, das dir der Herr, dein Gott, giebt.


Du sollst nicht tödten.


Du sollst nicht ehebrechen.


Du sollst nicht stehlen.


Du sollst kein falsch Zeugniss reden wider deinen Nächsten.


Lass dich nicht gelüsten deines Nächsten Hauses; lass dich nicht gelüsten deines Nächsten Weibes, noch seines Knechts, noch seiner Magd, noch seines Ochsens, noch seines Esels, noch Alles was dein Nächster hat.

Frage 93.—Wie werden diese Gebote eingetheilt?
Antwort.—In zwei Tafeln: deren die erste in vier Geboten lehret, wie wir uns gegen Gott sollen halten; die andere in sechs Geboten, was wir unserm Nächsten schuldig sind.

Frage 94.—Was fordert der Herr im ersten Gebot?
Antwort.—Dass ich, bei Verlierung meiner Seelen Heil und Seligkeit, alle Abgötterei, Zauberei, abergläubische Segen, Anrufung der Heiligen oder anderer Creaturen, meiden und fliehen soll, und den einigen wahren Gott recht erkennen, Ihm allein vertrauen, in aller Demuth und Geduld von Ihm allein alles Gute erwarten, und Ihn von ganzem Herzen lieben, fürchten, und ehren; also, dass ich eher alle Creaturen übergebe, denn in dem Geringsten wider seinen Willen thue.

Frage 95.—Was ist Abgötterei?
Antwort.—An Statt des einigen wahren Gottes, der sich in seinem Wort hat offenbaret, oder neben demselben etwas Anderes dichten oder haben, darauf der Mensch sein Vertrauen setzt.

Frage 96.—Was will Gott im zweiten Gebot?
Antwort.—Dass wir Gott in keinem Wege verbilden, noch auf irgend eine andere Weise, denn Er in seinem Wort befohlen hat, verehren sollen.

Frage 97.—Soll man denn gar kein Bildniss machen?
Antwort.—Gott kann und soll keineswegs abgebildet werden; die Creaturen aber, ob sie schon mögen abgebildet werden, so verbietet doch Gott derselben Bildniss zu machen und zu haben, dass man sie verehre, oder Ihm damit diene.

Frage 98.—Mögen aber nicht die Bilder, als der Laien Bücher, in den Kirchen geduldet werden?
Antwort.—Nein: denn wir sollen nicht weiser sein denn Gott, welcher seine Christenheit nie durch stumme Götzen, sondern durch die lebendige Predigt seines Worts will unterwiesen haben.

Frage 99.—Was will das dritte Gebot?
Antwort.—Dass wir nicht allein mit Fluchen, oder mit falschem Eid, sondern auch mit unnöthigem Schwören, den Namen Gottes nicht lästern oder missbrauchen, noch uns mit unserm Stillschweigen und Zusehen solcher schrecklichen Sünden theilhaftig machen; und, in Summa, dass wir den heiligen Namen Gottes anders nicht, denn mit Furcht und Ehrerbietung gebrauchen, auf dass Er von uns recht bekennet, angerufen, und in allen unsern Worten und Werken gepriesen werde.

Frage 100.—Ist denn mit Schwören und Fluchen Gottes Namen lästern so eine schwere Sünde, dass Gott auch über die zürnet, die, so viel an ihnen ist, dieselbe nicht helfen wehren und verbieten?
Antwort.—Ja freilich: denn keine Sünde grösser ist, noch Gott heftiger erzürnet, denn Lästerung seines Namens. Darum Er sie auch mit dem Tode zu strafen befohlen hat.

Frage 101.—Mag man aber auch gottselig bei dem Namen Gottes einen Eid schwören?
Antwort.—Ja; wenn es die Obrigkeit von ihren Unterthanen oder sonst die Noth erfordert, Treue und Wahrheit zu Gottes Ehre und des Nächsten Heil dadurch zu erhalten und zu fördern. Denn solches Eidschwören ist in Gottes Wort gegründet, und derhalben von den Heiligen im alten und neuen Testament recht gebraucht worden.

Frage 102.—Mag man auch bei den Heiligen oder andern Creaturen einen Eid schwören?
Antwort.—Nein: denn ein rechtmässiger Eid ist eine Anrufung Gottes, dass Er, als der einige Herzenskündiger, der Wahrheit Zeugniss wolle geben, und mich strafen so ich falsch schwöre; welche Ehre denn keiner Creatur gebühret.

Frage 103.—Was will Gott im vierten Gebot?
Antwort.—Gott will erstlich, dass das Predigtamt und Schulen erhalten werden, und ich, sonderlich am Feiertag, zu der Gemeinde Gottes fleissig komme, das Wort Gottes zu lernen, die heiligen Sacramente zu gebrauchen, den Herrn öffentlich anzurufen, und das christliche Almosen zu geben. Zum Andern, dass ich alle Tage meines Lebens von meinen bösen Werken feiere, den Herrn durch seinen Geist in mir wirken lasse, und also den ewigen Sabbath in diesem Leben anfange.

Frage 104.—Was will Gott im fünften Gebot?
Antwort.—Dass ich meinem Vater und Mutter, und allen, die mir vorgesetzt sind, alle Ehre, Liebe, und Treue beweisen, und mich aller guten Lehre und Strafe mit gebührlichem Gehorsam unterwerfen, und auch mit ihren Gebrechen Geduld haben soll: dieweil uns Gott durch ihre Hand regieren will.

Frage 105.—Was will Gott im sechsten Gebot?
Antwort.—Dass ich meinen Nächsten weder mit Gedanken, noch mit Worten oder Geberden, viel weniger mit der That, durch mich selbst oder Andere, schmähen, hassen, beleidigen oder tödten; sondern alle Rachgierigkeit ablegen, auch mich selbst nicht beschädigen, oder muthwillig in Gefahr begeben soll. Darum auch die Obrigkeit dem Todtschlag zu wehren, das Schwert trägt.

Question 105.—What does God require in the sixth commandment?

Frage 106.—Redet doch dieses Gebot allein vom Tödten?
Antwort.—Es will uns aber Gott durch Verbietung des Todtschlags lehren, dass Er die Wurzel des Todtschlags, als Neid, Hass, Zorn, Rachgierigkeit, hasse, und dass solches alles vor Ihm ein heimlicher Todtschlag sei.

Frage 107.—Ist’s aber damit genug dass wir unsern Nächsten, wie gemeldet, nicht tödten?
Antwort.—Nein: denn indem Gott Neid, Hass, und Zorn verdammt, will Er von uns haben dass wir unsern Nächsten lieben als uns selbst; gegen ihn Geduld, Friede, Sanftmuth, Barmherzigkeit, und Freundlichkeit erzeigen; seinen Schaden, so viel uns möglich, abwenden; und auch unsern Feinden Gutes thun.

Frage 108.—Was will das siebente Gebot?
Antwort.—Dass alle Unkeuschheit von Gott vermaledeiet sei, und dass wir darum ihr von Herzen feind sein, und keusch und züchtig leben sollen, es sei im heiligen Ehestand oder ausserhalb desselben.

Frage 109.—Verbietet Gott in diesem Gebot nichts mehr denn Ehebruch und dergleichen Schanden?
Antwort.—Dieweil beide unser Leib und Seele Tempel des heiligen Geistes sind, so will Er dass wir sie beide sauber und heilig bewahren; verbietet derhalben alle unkeusche Thaten, Geberden, Worte, Gedanken, Lust, und was den Menschen dazu reizen mag.

Frage 110.—Was verbietet Gott im achten Gebot?
Antwort.—Er verbietet nicht allein den Diebstahl und Räuberei, welche die Obrigkeit straft; sondern Gott nennet auch Diebstahl alle böse Stücke und Anschläge, damit wir unseres Nächsten Gut gedenken an uns zu bringen, es sei mit Gewalt oder Schein des Rechtes, als unrechtem Gewicht, Elle, Maass, Waare, Münze, Wucher, oder durch einiges Mittel, das von Gott verboten ist; dazu auch allen Geiz und unnütze Verschwendung seiner Gaben.

Frage 111.—Was gebietet dir aber Gott in diesem Gebot?
Antwort.—Dass ich meines Nächsten Nutzen, wo ich kann und mag, fördere; gegen ihn also handele, wie ich wollte dass man mit mir handelte; und treulich arbeite, auf dass ich dem Dürftigen in seiner Noth helfen möge.

Frage 112.—Was will das neunte Gebot?
Antwort.—Dass ich wider Niemand falsch Zeugniss gebe, Niemand seine Worte verkehre, kein Afterreder und Lästerer sei, Niemand unverhört und leichtlich verdammen helfe; sondern allerlei Lügen und Trügen, als eigene Werke des Teufels, bei schwerem Gotteszorn vermeide; in Gerichts und allen andern Handlungen die Wahrheit liebe, aufrichtig sage und bekenne; auch meines Nächsten Ehre und Glimpf, nach meinem Vermögen, rette und fördere.

Frage 113.—Was will das zehnte Gebot?
Antwort.—Dass auch die geringste Lust oder Gedanken wider irgend ein Gebot Gottes in unser Herz nimmermehr kommen; sondern wir für und für von ganzem Herzen aller Sünde feind sein, und Lust zu aller Gerechtigkeit haben sollen.

Frage 114.—Können aber die zu Gott bekehret sind, solche Gebote vollkommen halten?
Antwort.—Nein: sondern es haben auch die Allerheiligsten, so lange sie in diesem Leben sind, nur einen geringen Anfang dieses Gehorsams; doch also, dass sie mit ernstlichem Vorsatz nicht allein nach etlichen, sondern nach allen Geboten Gottes anfangen zu leben.

Frage 115.—Warum lässt uns denn Gott also scharf die zehn Gebote predigen, weil sie in diesem Leben Niemand halten kann?
Antwort.—Erstlich, auf dass wir unser ganzes Leben lang unsere sündliche Art je länger je mehr erkennen, und so viel desto begieriger Vergebung der Sünden und Gerechtigkeit in Christo suchen; darnach, dass wir ohne Unterlass uns befleissen, und Gott bitten um die Gnade des heiligen Geistes, dass wir je länger je mehr zu dem Ebenbilde Gottes erneuert werden, bis wir das Ziel der Vollkommenheit nach diesem Leben erreichen.


Frage 116.—Warum ist den Christen das Gebet nöthig?
Antwort.—Darum, weil es das vornehmste Stück der Dankbarkeit ist, welche Gott von uns erfordert; und weil Gott seine Gnade und heiligen Geist allein denen will geben, die Ihn mit herzlichem Seufzen ohne Unterlass darum bitten, und Ihm dafür danken.

Frage 117.—Was gehört zu einem solchen Gebet das Gott gefalle, und von Ihm erhört werde?
Antwort.—Erstlich, dass wir allein den einigen wahren Gott, der sich uns in seinem Wort hat geoffenbaret, um Alles, das Er uns zu bitten befohlen hat, von Herzen anrufen; zum Andern, dass wir unsere Noth und Elend recht gründlich erkennen, uns vor dem Angesicht seiner Majestät zu demüthigen; zum Dritten, dass wir diesen festen Grund haben dass Er unser Gebet, unangesehen dass wir’s unwürdig sind, doch um des Herrn Christi willen gewisslich wolle erhören, wie Er uns in seinem Wort verheissen hat.

Frage 118.—Was hat uns Gott befohlen von Ihm zu bitten?
Antwort.—Alle geistliche und leibliche Nothdurft, welche der Herr Christus begriffen hat in dem Gebet das Er uns selbst gelehret.

Frage 119.—Wie lautet dasselbe?
Antwort.—Unser Vater, der du bist in dem Himmel: Geheiliget werde dein Name. Dein Reich komme. Dein Wille geschehe auf Erden, wie im Himmel. Unser täglich Brot gieb uns heute. Und vergieb uns unsere Schulden, wie auch wir vergeben unsern Schildigern. Und führe uns nicht in Versuchung; sondern erlöse uns vom Bösen. Denn dein ist das Reich, und die Kraft, und die Herrlichkeit in Ewigkeit. Amen.

Frage 120.—Warum hat Christus befohlen Gott also anzureden: Unser Vater?
Antwort.—Dass Er gleich im Anfang unsers Gebets in uns erwecke die kindliche Furcht und Zuversicht gegen Gott, welche der Grund unsers Gebets soll sein; nämlich, dass Gott unser Vater durch Christum geworden sei, und wolle uns viel weniger versagen, warum wir Ihn im Glauben bitten, denn unsere Väter uns irdische Dinge abschlagen.

Frage 121.—Warum wird hinzugethan: Der du bist in dem Himmel?
Antwort.—Auf dass wir von der himmlischen Majestät Gottes nichts Irdisches gedenken, und von seiner Allmächtigkeit alle Nothdurft Leibes und der Seele gewarten.

Frage 122.—Was ist die erste Bitte?
Antwort.—Geheiliget werde dein Name. Das ist: Gieb uns erstlich dass wir Dich recht erkennen, und Dich in allen deinen Werken, in welchen leuchtet deine Allmächtigkeit, Weisheit, Güte, Gerechtigkeit, Barmherzigkeit und Wahrheit, heiligen, rühmen und preisen; darnach auch, dass wir unser ganzes Leben, Gedanken, Worte und Werke, dahin richten dass dein Name um unsertwillen nicht gelästert, sondern geehret und gepriesen werde.

Frage 123.—Was ist die zweite Bitte?
Antwort.—Dein Reich komme. Das ist: Regiere uns also durch dein Wort und Geist, dass wir uns Dir je länger je mehr unterwerfen; erhalte und mehre deine Kirche; und zerstöre die Werke des Teufels und alle Gewalt, die sich wider Dich erhebt und alle bösen Rathschläge die wider dein heiliges Wort erdacht werden, bis die Vollkommenheit deines Reichs herzukomme, darin Du wirst Alles in Allem sein.

Frage 124.—Was ist die dritte Bitte?
Antwort.—Dein Wille geschehe auf Erden, wie im Himmel. Das ist: Verleihe dass wir und alle Menschen unserm eigenen Willen absagen, und deinem allein guten Willen ohne alles Widersprechen gehorchen; dass also Jedermann sein Amt und Beruf so willig und treulich ausrichte, wie die Engel im Himmel.

Frage 125.—Was ist die vierte Bitte?
Antwort.—Unser täglich Brot gieb uns heute. Das ist: Wollest uns mit aller leiblichen Nothdurft versorgen, auf dass wir dadurch erkennen dass Du der einige Ursprung alles Guten bist, und dass ohne deinen Segen weder unsere Sorgen und Arbeit, noch deine Gaben, uns gedeihen; und wir derhalben unser Vertrauen von allen Creaturen abziehen, und allein auf Dich setzen.

Frage 126.—Was ist die fünfte Bitte?
Antwort.—Vergieb uns unsere Schulden, wie auch wir vergeben unsern Schuldigern. Das ist: Wollest uns armen Sündern alle unsere Missethat, auch das Böse so uns noch immerdar anhänget, um des Bluts Christi willen nicht zurechnen; wie auch wir dies Zeugniss deiner Gnade in uns finden, dass unser ganzer Vorsatz ist unserm Nächsten von Herzen zu verzeihen.

Frage 127.—Was ist die sechste Bitte?
Antwort.—Und führe uns nicht in Versuchung; sondern erlöse uns vom Bösen. Das ist: Dieweil wir aus uns selbst so schwach sind, dass wir nicht einen Augenblick bestehen können; und dazu unsere abgesagten Feinde—der Teufel, die Welt, und unser eigen Fleisch—nicht aufhören uns anzufechten; so wollest Du uns erhalten und stärken durch die Kraft des heiligen Geistes, auf dass wir ihnen mögen festen Widerstand thun, und in diesem geistlichen Streit nicht unterliegen, bis dass wir endlich den Sieg vollkommen behalten.

Frage 128.—Wie beschliessest du dieses Gebet?
Antwort.—Denn dein ist das Reich, und die Kraft, und die Herrlichkeit in Ewigkeit.—Das ist: Solches alles bitten wir darum von Dir, weil Du als unser König, und aller Dinge mächtig, uns alles Gute geben willst und kannst; und dass dadurch nicht wir, sondern dein heiliger Name, ewig soll gepriesen werden.

Frage 129.—Was bedeutet das Wörtlein: Amen?
Antwort.—Amen heisst: Das soll wahr und gewiss sein; denn mein Gebet viel gewisser von Gott erhöret ist, denn ich in meinem Herzen fühle dass ich solches von Ihm begehre.

Heidelberg Catechism. (1900). The Heidelberg Catechism: The German Text, with a Revised Translation and Introduction: German (S. iii–101). London: Andrew Melrose.

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