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§ 41. The Augsburg Confession, 1530.
I. Editions, Latin and German. In the general collections of Lutheran Symbols, by Rechenberg, Walch, Hase, Müller, etc. (see § 40).
II. Separate Editions of the Augs. Conf.—in Latin or German, or both—by Twesten (1816), Winer (1825), Tittmann (1830), Spieker (1830), M. Weber (1830), Wiggers (1830), Beyschlag (1830), Funk (1830), Förstemann (1833), Härter (1838). The best critical edition of the Latin and German texts, with all the variations, is contained in the Corpus Reformatorum, ed. Bretschneider and Bindseil, Vol. XXVI. (issued, Brunsvigæ, 1858), pp. 263 sqq.
For lists of older editions, see Köllner, Symbolik, I. p. 344–353, and Bindseil, in Corp. Ref. Vol. XXVI. pp. 211–263.
III. English Translations. In Henkel's Book of Concord, 1854, and a better one by Dr. Charles P. Krauth: The Augsburg Confession, literally translated from the original Latin, with the most important Additions of the German Text incorporated, together with Introduction and Notes. Philadelphia, 1869. The same, revised for this work, Vol. II. pp. 1 sqq.
IV. Historical and Critical documents and works on the Augsburg Confession:
Philippi Melanthonis Opera in the second and twenty-sixth volumes of the Corpus Reformatorum, ed. Bretschneider and Bindseil. Vol. II. (Halis Saxonum, 1835) contains the Epistles of Melanchthon from Jan. 1, 1530, to Dec. 25, 1535; Vol. XXVI. (Brunsv. 1858, pp. 776), the Augsburg Confession itself, with all the preliminary labors and important documents connected therewith.
Luther's Briefe, in De Wette's ed., Vol. IV. pp. 1–180.
E. Sal. Cyprian: Historia der Augsburgischen Confession, etc. Gotha, 1730, 4to.
Christ. Aug. Salig: Vollständige Historie der Augsburg. Confession und derselben Apologie, etc. 3 Thle. Halle, 1730–35, 4to.
G. G. Weber: Kritische Geschichte der Augsb. Conf. aus archivalischen Nachrichten. Frank. a. M. 1783–84, 2 vols.
K. Pfaff: Geschichte des Reichstags zu Augsburg, im Jahr 1530, und des Augsb. Glaubensbekenntnisses bis auf die neueren Zeiten, Stuttgart, 1830, 8vo; 2 Parts.
Carl Eduard Förstemann: Urkundenbuch zur Geschichte des Reichstags zu Augsburg, im Jahr 1530, etc., 2 vols. Halle, 1833–35, 8vo.
C. Ed. Förstemann: Neues Urkundenb. zur Gesch. der ev. Kirchen-Reform. Hamb. 1842, Vol. I. pp. 357–380. Die Apologie der Augsburg. Confession in ihrem ersten Entwurfe.
A. G. Rudelbach: Die Augsb. Conf. aus und nach den Quellen, etc. Leipzig, 1829. Histor. critische Einleit. in die Augsb. Conf., etc. Dresden, 1841.
J. E. Calinich: Luther und die Augsb. Confession (gekrönte Preisschrift). Leipz. 1861.
G. Plitt: Einleitung in die Augustana. Erlangen, 1867–68, 2 Parts.
O. Zöckler: Die Augsburgische Confession als Lehrgrundlage der deutschen Reformationskirche historisch und exegetisch untersucht. Frankfurt a. M. 1870.
Comp. also Ranke: Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation, III. pp. 186 sqq. (3d ed. 1852), and the relevant sections in Marheineke, Merle D’Aubigné, Hagenbach, and Fisher, on the History of the Reformation.
See lists of Literature especially in Köllner, Symb. I. pp. 150 sqq., 345 sqq.; also J. T. Müller, Die Symb. Bücher der evang. luth. Kirche, XVII.; C. P. Krauth, Select Analytical Bibliography of the Augsb. Conf. (Phila. 1858); and Zöckler, Die Augsb. Conf. pp. 1, 8, 15, 21, 31, 35, 44, 52, 61, 74, 85–88; and Corp. Ref. Vol. XXVI. pp. 102 sqq.
ORIGIN AND HISTORY.
The Augsburg Confession, at first modestly called an Apology, after the manner of the early Church in the ages of persecution, was occasioned by the German Emperor Charles V., who commanded the Lutheran Princes to present, at the Diet to be held in the Bavarian city of Augsburg, an explicit statement of their faith, that the religious controversy might be settled, and Catholics and Protestants be united in a war against the common enemies, the Turks.406406 The imperial letter convening the diet, dated Bologna, Jan. 21, 1530, was purchased by J. P. Morgan, 1911, for $25,000 and presented to William II., who, in turn, decorated Mr. Morgan with the order of the Black Eagle.—Ed. Its deeper cause must be sought in the inner necessity and impulse to confess and formularize the evangelical faith, which had been already attempted before. It was prepared, on the basis of previous drafts, and with conscientious care, by Philip Melanchthon, at the request and in the name of the Lutheran States, during the months of April, May, and June, 1530, at Coburg and Augsburg, with the full approval of Luther. It was signed, August 23, by seven German Princes (the Elector John of Saxony and the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, etc.) and the deputies of two free cities (Nuremberg and Reutlingen). This act required no little moral courage, in view of the immense political and ecclesiastical power of the Roman Church at that time. When warned by Melanchthon of the possible effects of his signature, the Elector John of Saxony nobly replied: 'I will do what is right, unconcerned about my electoral dignity; I will confess my Lord, whose cross I esteem more highly than all the power of the earth.'
On the 25th of June, 1530, the Confession was read aloud, in the German language,407407 By Dr. Christian Baier, Vice-Chancellor of the Elector of Saxony, after some introductory remarks of Chancellor Brück, who composed the Preface and the Epilogue; see below. The Emperor at first did not want to have it read at all, but simply presented; yielding this point, he sought to diminish its effect by having it read in Latin, but the Lutheran Princes resisted, and carried their point. 'We are on German soil,' said the Elector John, 'and therefore I hope your Majesty will allow the German language.' He did not allow it, however, to be read in a public session of the Diet in the large City Hall, but merely before a select company of Princes, counselors, and deputies of cities, in the small chapel of the episcopal palace, where he resided. before the assembled representatives of Church and State, and in the hearing of a monarch in whose dominions the sun never set.
This formed an important epoch in the history of the Reformation. The deputies, and the people who stood outside, listened attentively for two hours to the new creed. The Papists were surprised at its moderation. The Bishop of Augsburg is reported to have said privately that it contained nothing but the pure truth. Duke William of Bavaria censured Dr. Eck for misrepresenting to him the Lutheran opinions; and when the Romish doctor remarked that he could refute them with the Fathers, though not with the Scriptures, the Duke replied, 'I am to understand, then, that the Lutherans are within the Scriptures, and we are on the outside.' The Emperor himself, a bigoted Spaniard, a master in shrewd policy, little acquainted with the German language and spirit, and still less with theology, after respectfully listening for a while, fell asleep during the delivery,408408 So Brentius, who was at Augsburg at the time, reports (cum Confessio legeretur, obdormivit). Considering the length of the document, this is not inconsistent with the other statement of Jonas and Spalatin, that he, like most of the other Princes, was quite attentive (satis attentus erat Cæsar). Nor must his drowsiness be construed as a mark of disrespect to the Lutherans, for he was likewise soundly asleep on the third of August when the Romish Confutation was read before the Diet. but graciously received the Latin copy for his own use, and handed the German to the Elector of Mayence for safe keeping in the imperial archives, yet prohibited the publication without his permission. Both copies are lost.
The Diet ordered a committee of about twenty Romish theologians, among whom were Eck, Faber, Cochlæus, and Wimpina, to prepare a refutation of the Confession on the spot. Their scholastic Confutatio, the result of five successive drafts, was a far inferior production, and made little impression upon the Diet, but it fairly expressed the views of the Emperor and the majority of the States, and was accepted as a satisfactory refutation of the Confession.409409 The best text, Latin and German, of the Confutatio Confessionis Augustanæ, with ample Prolegomena and the Summary of Cochlæus, see in the 27th volume of the Corpus Reformatorum (1859), pp. 1–243. Melanchthon answered it by his 'Apology of the Augsburg Confession,' but the Diet refused even to receive the reply; and, after several useless conferences, resolved, Sept. 22 and Nov. 19, 1530, to proceed with violent measures against the Protestants if they should not return to the Catholic faith before the 15th of April of the following year.
The Elector John, justly styled the Constant, with all his loyalty to the Emperor and wish for the peace of Germany, refused to compromise his conscience, and, in full view of the possible ruin of his earthly interest, he resolved to stand by 'the imperishable Word of God.'410410 See the masterly delineation of this Prince by Ranke, in his Deutsche Geschichte, etc., Book V. Ch. 9 (Vol. III. pp. 211 sqq.). The heroic spirit of the Reformers in these trying times found its noblest expression in the words and tune of Luther's immortal battle-song, based on Psalm. xlvi.:
'A tower of strength our God is still,
A mighty shield and weapon;
He'll help us clear from all the ill
That hath us now o'ertaken.
. . . . . . . . .
'And though they take our life—
Goods, honor, children, wife—
Yet is their profit small;
These things shall vanish all—
The City of God remaineth.'
LUTHER'S SHARE IN THE COMPOSITION.411411 Comp. Rückert: Luther's Verhältniss zum Augsb. Bek., Jena, 1854; Calinich: Luther und die Augsb. Conf., Leipz. 1861 (against Rückert and Heppe); Heppe: Entstehung and Fortbildung des Lutherthums, Cassel, 1863, pp. 234 sqq.; Knaake: Luther's Antheil an der Augsb. Conf., Berl. 1863; Ratz: Was hat Luther durch Melanchthon gewonnen? in the Zeitschrift f. hist. Theol., Leipz. 1870, No. III.; Zöckler: l.c. pp. 8 sqq.
Being under the papal excommunication and the imperial ban since the Diet of Worms (1521), Luther could not safely venture to Augsburg, but he closely watched the proceedings of the Diet from the Castle of Coburg on the Saxon frontier, praying, translating the prophets, writing childlike letters to his children, and manly letters to princes, singing Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, giving his advice at every important step, and encouraging his timid and desponding friend Melanchthon.
He had taken the leading part in the important preparatory labors, namely, the Fifteen, Articles of the Marburg Conference (Oct. 3, 1529),412412 The German autograph of the Marburg Articles, in the handwriting of the Reformers, was discovered in the archives of Cassel and published by Prof. H. Heppe, of Marburg, Cassel, 1847, and also by Bindseil, in the Corpus Reform. Vol. XXVI. pp. 122–127 (in German), with the textual variations. The Articles are signed by Luther, Jonas, Melanchthon, Osiander, Agricola, and Brentius, on the part of the Lutherans, and by Œcolampadius, Zwingli, Bucer, and Hedio on the part of the Reformed. Fourteen of them were fully approved by Zwingli and his friends, and in the 15th, which treats of the Lord's Supper, they agree to disagree as to the mode of Christ's presence. the Seventeen Articles of Schwabach (Oct. 16, 1529),413413 The Articuli XVII. Suobacences (which must not be confounded with the Twenty-two Articles of a previous convent at Schwabach, near Nuremberg. A.D. 1528, see Corp. Ref. Vol. XXVI. pp. 132 sqq.) were composed by Luther, with the aid of Melanchthon, Jonas, Osiander, Brentius, and Agricola. They are only a Lutheran revision and enlargement of the Marburg Articles, and seem to have been drawn up in that town, and then presented before a convent of Lutheran princes and delegates at Schwabach, Oct. 16, and again before a similar convent at Smalcald, Nov. 29. They were first published in February or March, 1530, without the knowledge of Luther, under the title: 'Das Bekenntniss Martini Luthers auf den angestellten Reichstag zu Augsburg einzulegen, in 17 Artikel verfasst;' then by Luther himself, Wittenb. 1530; and again by Frick, in his edition of Seckendorf's Ausführl. Historie vom Lutherthum. See Corp. Ref. Vol. XXVI. pp. 129–160. which correspond to the first or positive part of the Augsburg Confession, and the so-called Articles of Torgau (March 20, 1530),414414 The Torgau Articles (Articuli Torgavienses) were formerly often confounded with the Schwabach Articles, till Förstemann first discovered them in the archives at Weimar, and brought them to light, in 1833, in the first volume of his 'Urkundenbuch,' republished in the Corp. Ref. Vol. XXVI. pp. 161–200. They were drawn up by Luther, Melanchthon, Jonas, and Bugenhagen, at the command of the Elector of Saxony (then residing at Torgau), for presentation at the approaching Diet of Augsburg, and discuss the controverted articles on the marriage of priests, the communion of both kinds, the mass, the confession, the episcopal jurisdiction, ordination, monastic vows, invocation of saints, faith and works, etc. which form the basis of its second or polemical part. But in all respects the Confession, especially the second part, is so much enlarged and improved on these previous labors that it may be called a new work.415415 Comp. on the historical details of the sources of the Augs. Conf. the Corpus Reform., Vol. XXVI 1858) pp. 113–200; Plitt: Einleitung die Augustana (1867–68), I. pp. 536 sqq., II. pp.3 sqq.; and Zöckler: Die Augsb. Conf. (1870), pp. 8–15.
Luther thus produced the doctrinal matter of the Confession, while Melanchthon's scholarly and methodical mind freely reproduced and elaborated it into its final shape and form, and his gentle, peaceful, compromising spirit breathed into it a moderate, conservative tone. In other words, Luther was the primary, Melanchthon the secondary author, of the contents, and the sole author of the style and temper of the Confession.416416 Kahnis, in his Luther. Dogmatik, II. p. 424, says: 'Luther war der Meister des Inhalts, Melanchthon der Meister der Form. . . . Mel. war der Mann, welcher mit Objektivität, Feinheit, Klarheit, Milde zu schreiben verstand. Und wie nie hat er diese Gabe in diesem Falle verwerthet.' Köllner (Vol. I. p. 178), Rückert, and Heppe give all the credit of authorship to Melanchthon. This is true as far as the spirit and the literary composition are concerned; but as to the doctrines, Luther had a right to say, 'The Catechism, the Exposition of the Ten Commandments, and the Augsburg Confession, are mine.'
Luther himself was satisfied that his friend was better adapted for the task, and expressed his entire satisfaction with the execution. When the Confession was sent to him from Augsburg for revision, he wrote to the Elector, May 15, 1530: 'I have read the Apology [Confession] of Master Philip; it pleases me very well, and I know of nothing by which I could better it or change it, nor would it be becoming, for I can not move so softly and gently. May Christ our Lord help, that it may bring forth much and great fruit, as we hope and pray. Amen.'417417 'Ich hab M. Philippsen Apologiam überlesen: die gefället mir fast (i.e., sehr) wohl, und weiss nichts daran zu bessern noch ändern, würde sich auch nicht schicken; denn ich so sanft und leise nicht treten kann. Christus unser Herr helfe, dass sie viel and grosse frucht schaffe, wie wir hoffen bitten. Amen.' (De Wette's ed. of Luther's Letters, IV. p. 17; Luther's Works, Erlang. ed. Vol. LIV. p. 145). After the delivery of the Confession, he wrote to Melanchthon, Sept. 15, in an enthusiastic strain: 'You have confessed Christ, you have offered peace, you have obeyed the Emperor, you have endured injuries, you have been drenched in their revilings, you have not returned evil for evil. In brief, you have worthily done God's holy work as becometh saints. Be glad, then, in the Lord, and exult, ye righteous. Long enough have ye been mourning in the world, look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh. I will canonize you as faithful members of Christ, and what greater glory can you desire! Is it a small thing to have yielded Christ faithful service, and shown yourself a member worthy of him?'418418 'Christum confessi estis, pacem obtulistis, Cæsari obedistis, injurias tolerastis, blasphemiis saturati estis, nec malum pro malo reddidistis: summa, opus sanctum Dei, ut sanctos decet, digne tractastis. Lætamini etiam aliquando in Domino et exultate, justi: satis diu tristati (al. testati) estis in mundo: respicite et levate capita vestra, appropinquat redemtio vestra. Ego canonizabo vos, ut fidelia membra Christi, et quid amplius quæritis gloriæ?' etc. (Briefe, IV. p. 165. Comp. also his letter of July 15 to Jonas, Spalatin, Melanchthon, Agricola, ib. IV. p. 96.)
The only objection which Luther ever raised to the Augsburg Confession was that it was too gentle, and did not denounce the Pope and the doctrine of purgatory.419419 In a letter to Justus Jonas, July 21, 1530: 'Satan adhuc vivit, et bene sensit Apologiam vestram Leisetreterin [the softly stepping Confession] dissimulasse articulos de purgatorio, de sanctorum cultu, et maxime de Antichristo Papa' (Briefe, IV. p. 110). Melanchthon himself confessed that he wrote the Confession with more leniency than the malice of the Papists deserved. And yet immediately after the delivery, which marks the height of his usefulness, the good man was in an almost desponding state, and was tormented by scruples whether he had not been conservative enough and taken too much liberty with the venerable Catholic Church. He was, moreover, hard pressed by Romish divines and politicians, and was ready to make serious concessions for the sake of unity and peace. Some of his best friends began unjustly to doubt his loyalty to evangelical truth, and Philip of Hesse, one of the signers of tie Confession, wrote to Zwingli, 'Master Philip goes backward like a crab.'
The Augsburg Confession proper (exclusive of Preface and Epilogue) consists of two parts—one positive and dogmatic, the other negative and polemic, or rather apologetic. The first refers chiefly to doctrines, the second to ceremonies and institutions. The order of subjects is not strictly systematic, though considerably improved upon the arrangement of the Schwabach and Torgau Articles. In the manuscript copies and oldest editions the articles are only numbered; the titles were subsequently added.
I. The first part presents, in twenty-one articles—beginning with the Triune God and ending with the worship of saints—a clear, calm, and condensed statement of the doctrines held by the evangelical Lutherans, (1) in common with the Roman Catholics, (2) in common with the Augustinian school, (3) in opposition to Rome, and (4) in distinction from Zwinglians and Anabaptists.420420 For other divisions, see Zöckler, l.c. p. 93 sqq.
(1.) In theology and Christology, i.e., the doctrines of God's unity and trinity (Art. I.), and of Christ's divine-human personality (III.), the Confession strongly reaffirms the ancient Catholic faith as laid down in the œcumenical Creeds, and condemns (damnamus) the old and new forms of Unitarianism and Arianism as heresies.
(2.) In anthropology, i.e., in the articles on the fall and original sin (II.), the slavery of the natural will and necessity of divine grace (XVIII.), the cause and nature of sin (XIX.), the Confession is substantially Augustinian, in opposition to the Pelagian and semi-Pelagian heresies. The Donatists are also condemned (VIII.) for denying the objective virtue of the ministry and the Sacraments, which Augustine defended against them.
(3.) The general Protestant views in opposition to Rome appear in the articles on justification by faith (IV.), new obedience (VI.), the Gospel ministry (V.), the Church (VII., VIII.), repentance (XII.), ordination (XIV.), ecclesiastical rites (XV.), civil government (XVI.), good works (XIX.), the worship of saints, and the exclusive mediatorship of Christ (XX.). Prominence is given to the doctrine of justifition by faith, which, though very briefly stated in its proper place (P. I. Art. IV.), is elsewhere incidentally referred to as the essence of the Gospel.421421 Part II. Art. 5 (De discrimine ciborum): 'Of this persuasion concerning traditions many disadvantages have followed in the Church. For first the doctrine of grace is obscured by it, and the righteousness of faith, which is the principal part of the Gospel (doctrina de gratia et justitia fidei, quæ est præcipua pars Evangelii), and which it behoveth most of all to stand forth and to have the pre-eminence in the Church, that the merit of Christ may be well known, and faith, which believeth that sins are remitted for Christ's sake, may be exalted far above works.'
(4.) The distinctive Lutheran views—mostly retained from prevailing Catholic tradition, and differing in part from those of other Protestant churches—are contained in the articles on the Sacraments (IX., X., XIII.), on confession and absolution (XI.), and the millennium (XVII.). The tenth article plainly asserts the doctrine of a real bodily presence and distribution of Christ in the eucharist to all communicants (without determining the mode of the presence either by way of consubstantiation or transubstantiation),422422 The wording of the article—quod corpus (in German, wahrer Leib) et sanguis Christi vere (wahrhaftiglich) adsint et distribuantur vescentibus in Cæna Domini—leaves room for both theories. The Papistical Confutation, while objecting to the articles de utraque specie and de missa, in the second part of the Augsb. Conf., was satisfied with Art. X. of the first part, provided only that it be understood as teaching the presence of the whole Christ under the bread as well as the wine. ('Decimus articulus in verbis nihil offendit, quia fatentur, in eucharistia post consecrationem legitime factam corpus et sanguis Christi substantialiter et vere adesse, si modo credant, sub qualibet specie integrum Christum adesse.') In the Apology of the Confession (Art. X.), Melanchthon asserts the corporalis præsentia, and even substitutes for vere adsint the stronger terms vere et substantialiter adsint. The Lutheran Church, as represented in Luther's writings and in the Form of Concord (R. 729), rejects transubstantiation, and also the doctrine of impanation, i.e., a local inclusion of Christ's body and blood in the elements (localis inclusio in pane), or a permanent and extra-sacramental conjunction of the two substances (durabilis aliqua conjunctio extra usum sacramenti); but it teaches consubstantiation in the sense of a sacramental conjunction of the two substances effected by the consecration, or a real presence of Christ's very body and blood in, with, and under (in, cum, et sub) bread and wine. The word consubstantiation, however, is not found in the Lutheran symbols, and is rejected by Lutheran theologians if used in the sense of impanation. The philosophical foundation of this dogma is the ubiquity (either absolute or relative) of Christ's body, which is a part of the Lutheran Christology. and disapproves of dissenting views (especially the Zwinglian, although it is not named).423423 Et improbant secus docentes (derhalben wird auch die Gegenlehr verworfen). The omission of Zwingli's name may be due to regard for his friend, the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, but that he was chiefly intended must be inferred from the antecedent controversies, especially the l5th Article of the Marburg Conference, and from the strong opposition of Melanchthon to Zwingli's theory before 1536 or 1540, when he modified his own view on the Eucharist. See below. The Anabaptists are expressly condemned (damnamus), like heretics, for their views on infant baptism and infant salvation (IX.), the Church (VIII.), civil offices (XVI.), the millennium and final restoration (XVII.). These articles, however, have long ceased to be held by all Lutherans. Melanchthon himself materially changed the tenth article in the edition of 1540. The doctrine of the second advent and the millennium (rejected in Art. XVII.) has found able advocates among sound and orthodox Lutheran divines, especially of the school of Bengel.
II. The second part rejects, in seven articles, those abuses of Rome which were deemed most objectionable, and had been actually corrected in the Lutheran churches, namely, the withdrawal of the communion cup from the laity (I.), the celibacy of the clergy (II.), the sacrifice of the mass (III.), obligatory auricular confession (IV.), ceremonial feasts and fasts (V.), monastic vows (VI.), and the secular power of the bishops, as far as it interferes with the purity and spirituality of the Church (VII.).
The style of the Latin edition is such as may be expected from the classic culture and good taste of Melanchthon, while the order and arrangement might be considerably improved.
The diplomatic Preface to the Emperor is not from his pen, but from that of the Saxon Chancellor Brück.424424 Förstemann, Urkundenbuch, etc., I. p. 460, and Bindseil, Corp. Ref., Vol. XXVI. p. 205. Chancellor Brück (Pontanus) wrote the Preface in German, and Jonas translated it into Latin. A copy in the Seminary Library at Wittenberg has the remark, probably from the hand of Jonas, after the inscription, 'Præfatio ad Cæs. Car. V.:' 'Reddita e Germanico Pontani tunc per Justum Jonam. It is clumsy, tortuous, dragging, extremely obsequious, and has no other merit than to introduce the reader into the historical situation. The brief conclusion (Epilogus) is from the same source, and is followed by the signatures of seven Princes and two magistrates.425425 There was considerable controversy as to the genuineness of the signatures of two of seven Princes, viz., John Frederick of Saxony (the son of the Elector John) and Duke Francis of Lüneburg. See Köllner, l.c. pp. 201 sqq. Several manuscript copies omit both Preface and Epilogue, as not belonging properly to the Confession.
CHARACTER AND VALUE.
The Augsburg Confession breathes throughout an earnest and devout evangelical Christian spirit, and is expressed in clear, mild, dignified language. It professes to be both Scriptural and churchly, and in harmony even with the Roman Church as known from the genuine tradition of antiquity.426426 At the conclusion of the first part, the Confession says: 'Hæc fere summa est doctrinæ apud nos, in qua cerni potest, nihil inesse, quod discrepet a scripturis, vel ab ecclesia catholica, vel ab ecclesia romana, quatenus ex scriptoribus nota est,' and in the Epilogus: 'Apud nos nihil esse receptum contra scripturam, aut ecclesiam catholicam, quia manifestum est, nos diligentissime cavisse, ne qua nova et impia dogmata in ecclesias nostras serperent.' Hence the Confession frequently appeals not only to the Scriptures, but also to the Fathers (Augustine, Ambrose, Chrysostom, etc.) and the canon law (Decretum Gratiani, veteres canones, and the exemplum ecclesiæ). It is remarkably moderate and conciliatory in tone, and free from all harsh or abusive terms. It is not aggressive, but defensive throughout. Hence its original modest name Apology.427427 Melanchthon wrote to Luther: 'Mittitur tibi Apologia nostra, quanquam verius Confessio est.' Afterwards it was also frequently called the 'Saxon Confession' and the 'Evangelische Augapfel' (Prov. vii. 2). It pleads only for toleration and peace. It condemns the ancient heresies (Arianism, Manicheism, Pelagianism, Donatism), which were punishable according to the laws of the German Empire. It leaves the door open for a possible reconciliation with Rome.428428 Ranke, l.c. III. p. 201: 'In diesem Sinne der Annäherung, dem Gefühle des Nochnichtvollkommengetrenntseins, dem Wunsche, eine wie im tieferen Grunde der Dinge waltende, so in einigen Einzelnheiten des Bekenntnisses sichtbare Verwandtschaft geltend zu machen, war die Confession gedacht und abgefasst.' Zöckler, l.c. p. 318: 'Die Augustana ist in ihren Antithesen, sowohl nach der römischen wie nach der reformirten Seite hin, das mildeste, friedliebendste, gegnerischer seits am leichtesten zu ertragende aller evangelisch-lutherischen Symbole. Popery itself, and many of its worst abuses, are not even touched, at least not expressly. The modest and peaceful author wrote under a painful sense of responsibility, with a strong desire for the restoration of the unity of faith, and hence he avoided, all that might give unnecessary offense to the ruling party.429429 Comp. the Preface, and the repeated assurances of Melanchthon, e.g., in a letter of May 21, 1530, to Joachim Camerarius (Corp. Ref. II. p. 57): 'Ego Apologiam paravi scriptam summa verecundia, neque his de rebus dici mitius posse arbitror.' And in a letter to the same, dated June 19 (ib. p. 119): 'Non dubitabam quin Apologia nostra videretur futura lenior, quam mereatur improbitas adversarioram.'
But the same motive made him unjust toward his fellow-Protestants, who differed from him far less than both differed from the Romanists. The Lutheran divines, after refusing at Marburg all connection with the Zwinglians, yet, being unable to convince the Catholic majority, felt that by protesting against what they regarded as ultra-Protestant radicalism they would better succeed in securing toleration for themselves. One of their leaders, however, Philip of Hesse, openly sympathized with Zwingli, and had to be specially urged by Luther to subscribe the Confession, which he did with a dissent from the tenth article. The majority of the citizens of Augsburg likewise adhered to Zwingli at that time.430430 See the remarks of L. Ranke, III. p. 220 sq. Kahnis also (Luth. Dogm. II. p. 436) admits that 'the desire for an understanding with the Papists made Melanchthon a very decided opponent of the Swiss, and even of the Strasburgers.'
The Augsburg Confession is the fundamental and generally received symbol of the Lutheran Church, which also bears the name of 'the Church of the Augsburg Confession.' It is inseparable from the theology and history of that denomination; it best exhibits the prevailing genius of the German Reformation, and will ever be cherished as one of the noblest monuments of faith from the pentecostal period of Protestantism.431431 For a hearty estimate of the value of the Confession from the Lutheran stand-point, see Dr. Krauth's introduction to his translation, pp. xlvii. sqq., and his Conservative Reformation, pp. 255 sqq.: 'With the Augsburg Confession,' he says in both places, 'begins the clearly recognized life of the Evangelical Protestant Church, the purified Church of the West, on which her enemies fixed the name Lutheran. With this Confession her most self-sacrificing struggles and greatest achievements are connected. It is hallowed by the prayers of Luther, among the most ardent that ever burst from the human heart; it is made sacred by the tears of Melanchthon, among the tenderest which ever fell from the eyes of man. It is embalmed in the living, dying, and undying devotion of the long line of the heroes of our faith, who, through the world which was not worthy of them, passed to their eternal rest. The greatest masters in the realm of intellect have defended it with their labors; the greatest Princes have protected it from the sword by the sword; and the blood of its martyrs, speaking better things than vengeance, pleads forever, with the blood of Him whose all-availing love, whose sole and all-atoning sacrifice, is the beginning, middle, and end of its witness.'
But its influence extends far beyond the Lutheran Church. It struck the key-note to other evangelical confessions, and strengthened the cause of the Reformation every where. It is, to a certain extent, also the Confession of the Reformed and the so-called Union Churches, in Germany, namely, with the explanations and modifications of the author himself in the edition of 1540, which extended, as it were, the hand of fellowship to them (see below). In this qualified sense, either expressed or understood, the Augsburg Confession was frequently signed by Reformed divines and Princes, even by John Calvin, while ministering to the Church at Strasburg, and as delegate to the Conference of Ratisbon, 1541;432432 Calvin wrote to Rev. Mart. Schalling, at Ratisbon, 1557: 'Nec vero Augustanam Confessionem repudio, cui pridem volens ac libens subscript, sicut eam auctor ipse interpretatus est' (Epp. p. 437). Similarly in his Ultima Admonitio ad Joach. Westphalum, Genev. 1557. It is not quite certain whether it was the Altered or the Unaltered Confession which Calvin subscribed at Ratisbon, but probably it was the former, as he says that it contained nothing contrary to his doctrine, and as he appealed without fear to Melanchthon himself as the best interpreter. The Altered edition had appeared a year before, and had been actually used at the previous Conference at Worms, though Eck protested against it. See Köllner, p. 241; Zöckler, pp. 40, 41; Ebrard, Dogma vom hell. Abendmahl, II. p. 450; Stähelin, Joh. Calvin, I. p. 236; G. v. Polentz, Geschichte des französischen Calvinismus, Vol. I. p. 577; Vol. II. p. 62. by Farel and Beza at the Conference in Worms, 1557; by the Calvinists at Bremen, 1562; by Frederick III., (the Reformed) Elector of the Palatinate, at the convent of Princes in Naumburg, 1561, and again at the Diet of Augsburg, 1566; by John Sigismund, of Brandenburg, in 1614. It is true that till the close of the Thirty-Years' War (1648) the Reformed were tolerated in the German Empire only as allies of the Augsburg Confession,433433 'Augustanæ Confessioni addicti,' 'Augsburgische Confessionsverwandte.' but even afterwards they continued their friendly relation to it, and maintain it to the present day without feeling any more bound by it.434434 In the electoral, afterwards royal, house of Brandenburg, the Augsburg Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism have always lived in peace together. The Great Elector, Frederick William, as patron of the German Reformed, professed in their name, when the Westphalian Treaty was concluded, their cordial adherence to the Confession of 1530 (Profitentur dicti Reformati Augustanam Confessionem augustissimo Imp. Carolo V. anno 1530 exhibitam corde et ore). There are, however, German Reformed congregations of a more strictly Calvinistic type (e.g., in Elberfeld), which would rather adopt the Canons of the Synod of Dort than the Augsburg Confession.
The last, and the most memorable occasion since 1530, on which this noble Confession was publicly acknowledged, but with a saving clause as to the interpretation of the tenth article relating to the doctrine of the Lord's Supper, was at the German Church Diet of Berlin, 1853, composed of over 1400 clergymen, of four denominations—Lutheran, German Reformed, Evangelical Unionists, and Moravians.435435 The unanimous declaration of the Berlin Church Diet reads thus: 'The members of the German Evangelical Church Diet hereby put on record that they hold and profess with heart and mouth the Confession delivered, A.D. 1530, at the Diet of Augsburg, by the evangelical Princes and States to Emperor Charles V., and hereby publicly testify their agreement with it, as the oldest, simplest common document of publicly recognized evangelical doctrine in Germany (dass sie sich zu der im Jahr 1530 auf dem Reichstags zu Augsburg von den evangelischen Fürsten und Ständen Kaiser Karl V. überreichten Confession mit Herz und Mund halten und bekennen, und die Uebereinstimmung mit ihr, als der ältesten, einfachsten gemeinsamen Urkunde öffentlich anerkannter evangelischer Lehre in Deutschland, hiedurch öffentlich bezeugen).' So far orthodox Lutherans might agree. But now follows a qualification to save the consciences of the Reformed and Unionists: 'With this we connect the declaration that they and each one of them adhere to the particular confessions of their respective churches, and the Unionists to the consensus of the same; and that they do not mean to interfere with the different positions which the Lutherans, Reformed, and Unionists sustain to the Tenth Article of the Augsburg Confession, nor with the peculiar relations of those Reformed congregations which never held the Augustana as a symbol (Hiemit verbinden sie die Erklärung, dass sie jeder insonderheit an den besonderen Bekenntniss-Schriften ihrer Kirchen, und die Unirten an dem Consensus derselben festhalten, und dass der verschiedenen Stellung der Lutheraner, Reformirten und Unirten zu Artikel X. dieser Confession, und den eigenthümlichen Verhältnissen derjenigen Reformirten Gemeinden, welche die Augustana niemals als Symbol gehabt haben, nicht Eintrag geschehen soll).' See Evang. Kirchenztg. of Berlin, for 1853, pp. 775 sqq. While fully recognizing the importance of this testimony in opposition to rationalism and popery, we should remember, first, that it has no official or ecclesiastical character (the German Kirchentag, like the Evangelical Alliance, being merely a voluntary association without legislative or disciplinary power); and, secondly, that it is a compromise, which was expressly repudiated by the anti-Union Lutherans (the professors at Erlangen, Leipzig, and Rostock), as 'a frivolous depreciation of the most precious symbol of German Evangelical Christendom.'
On this fact and the whole history of the Augsburg Confession some German writers of the evangelical Unionist school have based the hope that the Augsburg Confession may one day become the united Confession or œcumenical Creed of all the evangelical churches of Germany.436436 So Dr. W. Hoffmann, late Court Chaplain of the Emperor of Germany (Deutschland Einst und Jetzt im Lichte des Reiches Gottes, Berlin, 1868, pp. 476 sqq. and 512 sqq.); Consistorialrath Leop. Schultze (Die Augsb. Confession als Gesammtlbekenntniss unserer evang. Landeskirche, Bremen, 1869); to some extent also Prof. Zöckler (l.c. p. 330), who proposes that the Augsburg Confession be made, not indeed the Union Symbol, but the Confederation Symbol of German Evangelical Christendom. This scheme stands and falls with the dream of a united and national Protestant Church of the German Empire. Aside from other difficulties, the Reformed and the majority of Unionists, together with a considerable body of Lutherans, can never conscientiously subscribe to the tenth article as it stands in the proper historical Confession of 1530; while orthodox Lutherans, on the other hand, will repudiate the Altered edition of 1540. The Invariata is, after all, a purely Lutheran, that is, a denominational symbol; and the Variata is a friendly approach of Lutheranism towards the Reformed communion, which had no share in its original production and subsequent modification, although it responded to it. Neither the one nor the other edition can be the expression of a union, or confederation of two distinct denominations, of which each has its own genius, history, and symbols of faith. Such an expression must proceed from the theological and religious life of both, and meet the wants of the present age. Great as the Augsburg Confession is, the Church will produce something greater still whenever the Spirit of God moves it to a new act of faith in opposition to the unbelief and misbelief of modern times. Every age must do its own work in its own way.
The Augsburg Confession was first completed in Latin,438438 Corp. Reform. Vol. XXVI. p. 205. but the German text was read before the Diet. Both copies were delivered in manuscript to the Emperor, but both disappeared: the German copy, first deposited in the imperial archives at Mayence, was probably sent with other official documents to the Council of Trent (1545), and then to Rome; the Latin copy to Brussels or Spain, and no trace of either has been found. For two hundred years the opinion prevailed that the 'Book of Concord' contained the original text, until Pfaff and Weber, by a thorough investigation on the spot, dispelled this error.439439 The Latin text of the Book of Concord is substantially from Melanchthon's quarto edition of 1531, and was supposed to correspond entirely with an imaginary Latin manuscript in Mayence. The German text purports to be a true copy of the original manuscript in Mayence, but is derived from a secondary source, viz., the printed text in the Corpus Brandenburgicum, 1572, which, again, was based upon a carelessly written copy of the Confession before its final revision. Chancellor Pfaff, of Tübingen, first discovered at Mayence that the original German copy was lost long ago, and he published, in 1730, what was regarded as a true copy of the original; but he was fiercely assailed by Adami, Feuerlin, and others, and his discovery traced to a Jesuitical lie. In 1781 Georg Gottlieb Weber, chief pastor at Weimar, was allowed to make a thorough search in the archives of Mayence, and found to his surprise that the copy shown him as the original was the printed German octavo edition of 1540, bearing on the title-page the words 'Wittenberg, M.D.X.L.' He published the results of his patient investigation in his Kritische Geschichte der Augsb. Confession aus archival. Nachrichten, Frankf. a. M. 1783–4, 2 vols.
The twenty-two manuscript copies, still extant in public or private libraries, are inaccurate, defective, and represent the various stages of revision through which the Confession passed before the 25th of August under the ever-improving hands of the author. There was no time, it seems, to make authentic copies of the final revision.
The printed editions (six in German, one in Latin), which were hastily issued during the Diet by irresponsible, anonymous publishers, are full of errors and omissions, and were condemned by Melanchthon.
Consequently, we must depend entirely upon the author's own printed editions; but even these differ very much among themselves, and the German text differs from the English.440440 The various readings in Bindseil's edition, in the Corpus Reformatorum, cover as much space as the text itself. Fortunately the changes are mostly verbal and immaterial, and where they alter the sense (as in the edition of 1540), they can be traced to their proper origin.
By the subscription of the Lutheran Princes and the delivery at the Diet, the Confession had become public property, and should have remained unaltered. But at that time neither editors nor publishers were careful and scrupulous in handling official documents. Luther himself changed the Articles of Smalcald after they had been publicly acknowledged. Melanchthon regarded the Confession, not as a fixed and binding creed, but as a basis for negotiation with the Papists, and as representing a movement still in progress toward clearer light.441441 Comp. the concluding words: 'Si quid in hoc confessione desiderabitur, parati sumus latiorem informationem, Deo volente, juxta Scripturas exhibere.' He therefore kept improving it, openly and honestly, in every new issue, as he would his own work, and in the edition of 1540 he even embodied some doctrinal modifications in the desire of promoting the cause of truth and peace.
The editio princeps was issued by the author in both languages, together with the Latin Apology and a German translation of it by Jonas, at Wittenberg in 1531, in spite of the imperial prohibition, yet with the consent (though not by order) of the Elector of Saxony.442442 Under the title: 'Confessio Fidei | exhibita invictiss. Imp. Carolo V. | Cæsaris Aug. in Comiciis | Augustæ, | Anno | M.D.X.X.X. | Addita est Apologia Confessionis. | Beide, Deutsch | und Latinisch. | Ps. 119. | Et loquebar de testimoniis tuis in conspectu Regum, et non confundebar. | Witebergæ.' (In 4). At the end: 'Impressum per Georgiam Rhau. | M.D.X.X.X.I.' This is the title of the copy in the royal library at Dresden, which Melanchthon gave to Luther, with the words, in his own handwriting (below the title): 'D. Doctari Martino. Et rogo ut legat et emendet.' See Corp. Ref. Vol. XXVI. p. 235. Bindseil (pp. 246 sqq.) shows that the Confession was already printed (but not issued) in November, 1530, and that the whole volume, with the Apology, was finished in April or May, 1531. Some copies of the printed Confession seem to have reached Augsburg before the close of the Diet. The text was taken, not from Melanchthon's own manuscript copy (which had been delivered to the Emperor), but, as he says, ex exemplari bonæ fidei (probably the private copy of the Landgrave Philip of Hesse), and contained already verbal changes and improvements.443443 He wrote to Joachim Camerarius, June 26 (a day after the delivery at Augsburg): 'Ego mutabam et refingebam pleraque quotidie, plura etiam mulaturus, si nostri συμφράδμονες [counselors] permisissent.' Corp. Ref. II. p. 140. Kaiser has shown that Melanchthon made a number of changes in the first edition—Beitrag zu einer Kritischen Literär-Geschichte der Melanchthonischen Original-Ausgabe der lat. und deutsch. Augsb. Conf. und Apologie, Nürnberg, 1830. Comp. Köllner, l.c. I. p. 340, and Corp. Ref. Vol. XXVI. pp. 251 sqq.
The emendations in subsequent editions before 1540, though quite numerous, do not materially affect the sense, and seem to have been approved; at all events, they were acquiesced in by the Lutherans themselves.444444 Luther, who took similar liberty with the Smalcald Articles, expresses no judgment, in his writings, on these variations; but he must have known of them, and tolerated them as unessential, even those of 1540, which appeared six years before his death. The sayings attributed to him on this subject by both parties are apocryphal, at all events unreliable, viz., the word of censure: 'Philippe, Philippe, ihr thut nicht recht, dass ihr Augustanam Confessionem so oft ändert; denn es ist nicht euer, sondern der Kirchen Buch;' and the word of indirect approval (1546): 'Lieber Philipp, ich muss es bekennen, der Sache vom Abendmahl ist viel zu viel gethan' (the matter of the Lord's Supper has been much overdone). The latter utterance, however, which Luther is reported to have made shortly before his death, has received a high degree of probability by the discovery of the testimony of Pastor Hardenberg, of Bremen (1547–1550), who publicly and solemnly declared to have heard it, together with another living witness (Canon Herbert von Langen, at Bremen), from Melanchthon's own lips. See Erlanger Reform. Kirchenzeitung for 1853, No. 40. The first Lutheran divine who publicly censured and condemned the Variata was Flacius, at the colloquy of Weimar, 1560. He was followed by Mörlin, Stössel, Wigand, Chytræus, Heshusius, and others.
But the edition of 1540, which appeared in connection with an improved edition of the Apology,445445 Under the title (as given in Corp. Reform. l.c. p. 243): 'Confessio | Fidei exhibita | invictiss. imp. Carolo | V. Cæsari Aug. in Comiciis | Augustæ. | Anno. M.D.X.X.X. Addita et Apologia Confessionis diligenter recognita. | Psalmo CXIX. | Vitebergæ, 1540.' The words diligenter recognita (in the German edition, mit vleis emendirt) openly indicate the changes. differs so widely from the first that it was subsequently called the Altered Augsburg Confession (Variata), in distinction from the Unaltered (Invariata) of 1530 or 1531.446446 The best text of the Variata, with the variations of later editions, is given in Corp. Reform. Vol. XXVI. pp. 349 sqq.; the history in Köllner, I. pp. 235–267, and the books there quoted; also in Zöckler, l.c. pp. 35 sqq. In Vol. II. of this Symb. Library the principal changes are noted in foot-notes under the text of the Confession. It attracted little attention till after the death of Melanchthon (1560), when it created as much trouble as the insertion of the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed. The Altered Confession, besides a large number of valuable additions and real improvements in style and the order of subjects,447447 In Art. 4, 5, 6, 18, 20, 21, of Part First, and the order of the first five articles in Part Second. embodies the changes in Melanchthon's theology,448448 In Art. 4, 5, 10, 18, 20. which may be dated from the new edition of his Loci communes, 1535, and his personal contact with Bucer and Calvin. He gave up, on the one hand, his views on absolute predestination, and gradually adopted the synergistic theory (which brought him nearer to the Roman Catholic system); while on the other hand (departing further from Romanism and approaching nearer to the Reformed Church), he modified the Lutheran theory of the real presence, at least so far as to allow the Reformed doctrine the same right in the evangelical churches. He never liked the Zwinglian view of a symbolical presence, nor did he openly adopt the Calvinistic view of a spiritual real presence, but he inclined to it, and regarded the difference between this and the Lutheran view as no bar to Christian fellowship and church communion.
Hence in the edition of 1540 he laid greater stress on the necessity of repentance and good works, and softened down the strong expressions against the freedom of will. The other and more important change which gave most offense to orthodox Lutherans, is in the tenth article, concerning the Lord's Supper, where the clause on the real presence, and the disapproval of dissenting views are omitted, and the word exhibeantur is substituted for distribuantur. In other words, the article is so changed that Calvin could give it his hearty consent, and even Zwingli—with the exception, perhaps, of the word truly—might have admitted it.449449 Zöckler, l.c. p. 38, thinks that the Calvinistic view would require credentibus instead of vescentibus. This would be true, if the original distribuantur had been retained, and not exchanged for the more indefinite exhibeantur. He admits, however, that the tenth article is 'calvinisirend' and 'bucerianisirend' in the sense of the Wittenberg Concordia of 1536, whereby Bucer, with Melanchthon's express co-operation, and the subsequent consent of Calvin, endeavored to unite the Lutherans and the Swiss. The difference will best appear from the following comparison:
|Edition 1530. Latin Text.||Edition 1540.|
'De Cæna Domini docent, quod corpus et sanguis Christi vere adsint, et distribuantur vescentibus in Cæna Domini; et improbant secur docentes.'450450 The German text of 1530 (1531) differs from the Latin, and is even stronger: 'Vom Abendmahl des Herrn wird also gelehret, dass wahrer Leib (the true body) und Blut Christi wahrhaftiglich (corresponding to the vere in the Latin text) unter (der) gestalt (under the form) des Brots und Weins im Abendmahl gegenwärtig sei, und da ausgetheilt und genommen wird (distributed and received). Derhalben wird auch die Gegenlehr verworfen.'
'De Cœna Domini docent, quod cum pane et vino vere exhibeantur corpus et sanguis Christi vescentibus in Cæna Domini.'
'Concerning the Lord's Supper, they teach that the body and blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed (communicated) to those that eat in the Lord's Supper. And they disapprove of those that teach otherwise.'
'Concerning the Lord's Supper, they teach that with bread and wine are truly exhibited the body and blood of Christ to those that eat in the Lord's Supper.'
The difference between the two editions was first observed, not by Protestants, but by the Roman controversialist, Dr. Eck, at a religious conference in Worms early in the year 1541. Melanchthon and the Saxon theologians made there the altered edition the basis of negotiations, but Eck complained of changes, especially in Art. X., from the original copy of 1530, which he had procured from the archives of Mayence. Nevertheless, the Variata was again used, either alone or alongside with the Invariata, at several subsequent conferences, probably at Ratisbon, 1541, certainly at Ratisbon in 1546, and at Worms, 1557. It was expressly approved by the Lutheran Princes at a convention in Naumburg, 1561, as an innocent and, in some respects, improved modification and authentic interpretation of the Invariata. It was introduced into many Lutheran churches and schools, and printed (with the title and preface of the edition of 1530) in the first collection of Lutheran symbols, called Corpus Doctrinæ Philippicum, or Misnicum (1559).451451 See Weber, l.c. II. pp. 214–336; Köllner, l.c. pp. 248 sqq.
But after 1560, strict Lutheran divines, such as Flacius and Heshusius, attacked the Variata, as heretical and treacherous, and overwhelmed it with coarse abuse. A violent theological war was waged against Melanchthonianism and Crypto-Calvinism, and ended in the triumph of genuine Lutheranisrn and the transition of some Lutheran countries to the Reformed Church. The 'Book of Concord' (1580) gave the text of the Invariata in the happy illusion of presenting it, especially the German, in its original form. The Melanchthonians and the Reformed still adhered to the Variata. The Westphalian Treaty, in 1648, formally embraced the Reformed, together with the Roman Catholics and Lutherans, in the peace of the German Empire; and henceforth subscription to the Augsburg Confession of 1530 or 1540 ceased to be a necessary condition of toleration.452452 Instrum. Pacis Osnabr. Art. VII. § 1: 'Unanimi quoque . . . consensu placuit, ut quicquid publica hæc transactio, in eaque decisio gravaminum ceteris Calholicis, et Augustanæ Conf. Addictis statibus et subditis tribuunt, it etiam iis, qui inter illos Reformati vocantur, competere debeat.' Quoted by Jacobson in art. Westf. Friede, in Herzog's Real-Encycl. XVIII. p. 24. Nevertheless, some interpreted this decree as including only such of the Reformed as subscribed the Invariata. All other Christians are expressly excluded by the Treaty; and yet the Popes have always, though vainly, protested in the strongest terms (damnamus, reprobamus, cassamus, annullamus, vacuamus) even against this partial concession to the principle of religious freedom; taking the ground that Papists alone have a legal right to exist on German soil. See Gieseler, Lehrbuch der K. G. III. I. p. 431 sq.
The Confession, as delivered before the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, or, in the absence of the original text, the edition of 1531, carefully prepared by Melanchthon himself, is the proper historical Confession of Augsburg, and will always remain so. At the same time, the altered edition of 1540, though not strictly speaking a symbolical book of binding authority any where,453453 An attempt was made in the Bavarian Palatinate, in 1853, through the influence of Dr. Ebrard, to raise the Variata to the dignity of a symbolical book, but it proved abortive. is yet far more than a private document, and represents an important element in the public history of the Lutheran Church in the sixteenth century, and the present theological convictions of a very large party in that denomination.
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