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Encouragement in Christ

January 7, 2010 Comments off

Calvin commentary Mat 19:25

Mat 19:25  When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

25.And his disciples, when they heard these things, were greatly amazed. The disciples are astonished, because it ought to awaken in us no little anxiety, that riches obstruct the entrance into the kingdom of God; for, wherever we turn our eyes, a thousand obstacles will present themselves. But let us observe that, while they were struck with astonishment, they did not shrink from the doctrines of Christ. The case was different with him who was lately mentioned; for he was so much alarmed by the severity of the commandment, that he separated from Christ; while they, though trembling, and inquiring, who can be saved? do not break off in an opposite direction, but are desirous to conquer despair. Thus it will be of service to us to tremble at the threatenings of God: whenever he denounces any thing that is gloomy or dreadful, provided that our minds are not discouraged, but rather aroused.

The work of the Holy Spirit in purging believers from sin

January 3, 2010 Comments off

By John Owen

The Holy Spirit is the chief worker of holiness in us on the basis of the blood shed by Christ on the cross by which the right for the Holy Spirit to work holiness in us was purchased.

This holiness, or sanctification, is produced in us by two means: faith and troubles or afflictions.

We are purged from sin by the Spirit of God. It is from our depraved natures that sin comes with all its pollution. So it is by the renewal of our natures back into the image of God that we are made holy (Ephesians 4:23, 24; Titus 3:5). The Holy Spirit cleanses us by strengthening our souls by his grace to fulfil our duties and to resist actual sins. But if we sin, it is the blood of Christ that cleanses us ( 1 John 1 :7-9).

It is the blood of Christ applied to our souls by the Holy Spirit that actually purges our souls from sins (1 John 1:7; Rev. 1:5; Hebrews 9:14; Ephesians 5: 25, 26; Titus 2:14), as Zechariah anticipated ( Zechariah. 13:1).

The blood of Christ here is the blood of his sacrifice, along with its power, virtue and effectiveness.

Blood in the Old Testament

The blood of a sacrifice was considered as an offering to God to make atonement and reconciliation. It was sprinkled on things for their purging and sanctification (Leviticus 1:11; 16: 14; Hebrews 9:19, 20, 22). So the blood of Christ is considered as the offering up of himself by the eternal Spirit to God to make atonement for sin and to procure eternal redemption. It is sprinkled by the same Spirit on the consciences of believers to purge them from dead works (Hey 9:12-14; 12:24; 1 Peter 1:2). But the blood of Christ in his sacrifice is still always in the same condition as it was in that hour in which it was shed. It is the same in strength and effectiveness.

Cold or congealed blood was of no use for sprinkling. Blood was appointed for atonement, because the life of the animal was in the blood (Lev.17:11). But the blood of an animal soon went cold and then it clotted. But the blood of Christ is always hot and never congeals, because it has the same Spirit of life and sanctification still moving in it. So we have a new and living way to God (Hebrews 10:20). It is always living, yet always as if newly slain.

There were different sorts of propitiatory offerings where the blood was sprinkled. There was the continual burnt offering. By this and the sprinkling of its blood, the congregation was purified to be holy to the Lord. This is how cleansing from secret and unknown sins was symbolized.

On the Sabbath day, the sacrifice was doubled both in the morning and the evening. This showed a special and more abundant pouring out of mercy and purging grace.

There was a great annual sacrifice at the feast of expiation when by the sacrifice of the sin offering and the scapegoat the whole congregation was purged from all known and great sins and brought into a state of legal holiness.

There were occasional sacrifices for everyone according to each person’s sense of need. There was a way continually ready for any man’s purification by his bringing an offering.

Now the blood of Christ must continually and on all occasions accomplish spiritually what these sacrifices accomplished legally (Hebrews 9:9-14). And so it does.

The red heifer

In the book of Numbers we read of another way by which God’s people under the Old Testament were purified (Numbers 19). A red heifer was sacrificed. The blood was taken and sprinkled on the tabernacle, but the heifer was burned. The ashes of the heifer were then kept and when anyone wished to be purified from legal pollutions, some of the ashes were mixed with water and sprinkled on the unclean person. Now, as the ashes of the red heifer were always available for purification, so is the blood of Christ to us now. Any unclean person who did not purify himself with the ashes of the heifer was to be cut off from the people (Numbers 19:20). And so it is also with those who refuse to be purified by the blood of Christ as the ‘fountain opened for sin and uncleanness’ (Zechariah 13:1).

The cleansing blood of Christ

Now the blood of Christ cleanses us from all our sins. The blood of Christ takes away from the sinner all the loathsomeness of sin in the sight of God. Now the sinner is seen as one who is washed and purified and fit to stand in his holy presence (Isaiah 1:16-18; Psalms 51:7; Ephesians 5:25-27). The blood of Christ takes shame out of the conscience, and gives the soul boldness in God’s presence (Hebrews 10:1922). When these things are done, then sin is purged and our souls are cleansed.

But how do we become partakers of that cleansing blood? It is the Holy Spirit who shows us and spiritually convinces us of the defilement caused by sin (John 16:8). Only when we see how sin has defiled us will we be driven to the blood of Christ for cleansing.

The Holy Spirit proposes, declares and presents to us the only true remedy for our cleansing. Left to ourselves, we turn to the wrong means (Hosea 5:13). It is the Holy Spirit who shows us the things of Christ (John 16:14).

Faith and cleansing

The Holy Spirit also works faith in us by which we are made partakers of the purifying virtue of the blood of Christ. By faith we receive Christ and by faith we receive all that Christ has to give us (Psalms 51:7; Leviticus 14: 2-7; Numbers 19:4-6; Acts 13:39; Hebrews 9:13,14; 10:1-3).

The actual application by faith of Christ’s blood for cleansing lies in four things. Firstly, we must look by faith to Christ’s blood as shed on the cross for our sins, as the Israelites of old looked at the brass serpent on the pole to be healed from the poison of the snakes that bit them (Isaiah 45:22; Num. 21:8; cf. John 3:14). Secondly, faith actually trusts in and relies on Christ’s blood for cleansing from all sin (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:13, 14; 10:22). Thirdly, faith fervently prays for that cleansing blood to be applied (Hebrews 4:15, 16). And fourthly, faith accepts the truth and faithfulness of God to cleanse by the blood of Christ.

The Holy Spirit actually applies the cleansing, purifying virtue of the blood of Christ to our souls and consciences so that we are freed from shame and have boldness towards God.

It is by faith that our souls are purified (Acts 15:9). Faith is the hand of the soul that takes hold of the blood of Christ for cleansing.

There are two unfailing evidences of a sincere faith. Inwardly, it purifies the heart and outwardly, it works by love (1 Peter 1:22; Titus 1:15).

We are purified by faith because faith is the chief grace by which our nature is restored to the image of God and so freed from original defilement (Colossians 3:10; l John 3:3). It is also by faith on our part that we receive the purifying virtue and influences of the blood of Christ (Deuteronomy 4:4; Joshua 23:8; Acts 11:22). Furthermore, it is chiefly by faith that our lusts and corruptions which defile us are killed, subdued and gradually driven out of our minds (Hebrews 12:15;James 1:14; John 15:3-5).

Faith takes hold of the motives presented to us in order to stir up to holiness, and to use all the ways God has given us by which we can prevent ourselves being defiled by sin, and by which our minds and consciences may be cleansed from dead works.

Two excellent motives are presented to us. The first excellent motive comes from the wonderful promises of God given to us now (2 Corinthians 7:1). The second motive comes from the thought of being like Christ when we see him as he is in eternal glory ( l John 3:2, 3).

AFFLICTIONS AND HOLINESS

God sends troubles to purge us from sin (Isaiah 31:9; 48:10; 1 Corinthians 3:12, 13).

When we are under the dominion of sin and its judgment, troubles are a curse and often result in further sinful acts. But when grace reigns in us, troubles are a means of sanctifying us and the means by which graces are strengthened, resulting in holiness. Christ’s cross cast into the waters of affliction makes them wholesome and a great means of grace and holiness (Exodus 15:22-25). All the pain and suffering that his people experience, he feels first (Isaiah 63:9; Acts 9:5; Colossians 1:24).

All our troubles and distresses are God’s means to make us more and more like his Son (Romans 8:29). They help us to have a deeper sense of the vileness of sin as God sees it. Troubles are used by God to discipline and correct his children. As such, they are not to be despised (Hebrews 12:3-11). Troubles help us to rely less and less on created things for our comfort and to rejoice more in the things of Christ (Galatians 6:14). Troubles help us to kill our lusts or corrupt desires. We are delivered more and more from the pollutions of sin and are made more and more holy, as he is holy (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Troubles are God’s ways of drawing out from us all the graces of the Spirit in order that they may be constantly and diligently exercised.

THE WAY TO THE CLEANSING FOUNTAIN

Try to understand the loathsomeness of sin with its defiling effects and the great danger of not being cleansed from sin (Rev. 3:16-18). Search the Scriptures and consider seriously what it teaches about our condition after we lost the image and likeness of God (Psalms 53:3). He who has received the testimony of Scripture about his polluted state will try and find the reason for it. He will search out his own sores and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’

Pray too for light and guidance about your pollution and how to deal with it. Natural light is not enough to know the depth of your depravity (Romans 2: 14, 15).

To be purged from the pollution of sin, we must be ashamed of the filth of sin (Ezra 9:6;Jer. 3:25). There are two sorts of shame. There is legal shame which is produced by a legal conviction of sin. For example, Adam, after his fall, felt a shame which led to fear and terror. So he ran and hid from God. There is also evangelical shame which arises from a sense of the vileness of sin and the riches of God’s grace in pardoning and purifying us from it (Ezekiel 16:60-63; Romans 6:21).

Sadly, however, many are completely insensitive to their true condition. They are more ashamed about how they stand in the eyes of men than how their hearts appear in the sight of God. Some are pure in their own eyes (Proverbs 30:12), e.g., the Pharisees (Isaiah 65:4,5). Others even openly boast of their shame and sin. They proclaim their sins like Sodom (Isaiah 3:9; Jeremiah 6:15; 8:12) and not only boast of their own sins, but approve of and delight in those who also sin like them (Romans 1:32).

Our duty to understand God ‘s way of cleansing

The importance of this duty is taught us by God himself. The legal institutions of the Old Testament show us the importance of this duty, for every sacrifice had something in it for purifying from uncleanness. The greatest promises in the Old Testament focus on cleansing from sin (e.g., Ezekiel 36:25, 29). In the gospel, the greatest of our needs is shown to be the need of being cleansed from sin.

The cleansing power of the blood of Christ and the Spirit’s application of that blood to our hearts is presented to us in the covenant promises (2 Peter 1:4). The only way to enjoy personally the good things presented in the promises is by faith (Hebrews 4:2; 11:17; Romans 4:19-21; 10:6-9).

Two things make such faith effectual. The first is the excellence of the grace or duty itself. Faith discards all other ways of cleansing. It gives all glory to God for his power, faithfulness, goodness and grace in spite of all difficulties and oppositions. Faith glorifies God’s wisdom for working out this way for us to be cleansed. It glorifies God’s infinite grace in providing this fountain for all uncleanness when we were lost and under his curse. Thus we are united to Christ from whom alone comes all our cleansing.

Duties of believers

The first duty is to be in continual self-abasement. In your own estimation, put yourself in the lowest seat, as Christ told the Jews to do when at a feast. Remember the defiled and polluted state from which you have been delivered (Dent. 26:1-5; Ezekiel 16:3-5; Psalms 51:5; Ephesians 2:11-13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Titus3:5).

The second duty is to be continually thankful for that deliverance from the original pollution from sin which Christ has given you (Luke 17:17; Revelations 1:5, 6). We are to value the sprinkling of the blood of Christ in the sanctification of the Spirit. Be aware of that inward joy and satisfaction you may have because you have been delivered from that shame which deprived us of all boldness and confidence in coming to God, and be thankful. Praise God for these things.

We must, therefore, watch against all sin, especially its early stirrings in the heart. Remember its danger and punishment. Consider the terror of the Lord and the threatenings of the law. Do not sink into that servile fear that longs to be rid of God, but seek that fear which keeps from sin and makes the soul more determined to hold on to God. Consider the loathsome, polluting effect of sin (I Colossians : 3:16, 17; 6:15-19).

Walk humbly before the Lord. Remember that the best works we do are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). When we have done all we are commanded to do, we are still to see ourselves as unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10).

Starve the root of sin (James 1:13-15). Do not feed your sinful desires.

Come continually to Jesus Christ for cleansing by his Spirit and the sprinkling of his blood on your conscience to purge them from dead works – those works by which the soul, neglecting the fountain established for its cleansing, attempts to cleanse itself from sin and its pollution.

Question. But how can he who is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners be united to and have communion with those who are defiled and in a state of darkness? Does not Scripture tell us that there can be no fellowship between righteousness and unrighteousness, and no communion between light and darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14)?

Answer Those who are wholly under the power of their original defilement neither have nor can have union or communion with Christ (I John 1:6). No unregenerate person can be united to Christ.

Whatever our defilements may be, Christ who is light is not defiled by them. Light is not polluted by shining on a heap of manure. A sore on the leg does not defile the head, though the head suffers with the leg.

Christ’s purpose in uniting himself to us is to purge us from all our sins (Ephesians 5:25-27). It is not necessary that in order to be united to Christ we be completely sanctified. We are united to Christ in order to be completely sanctified (John 15:1-5). Thus, where the work of sanctification and spiritual cleansing is really begun in someone, there the whole person is now considered to be holy. Our union with Christ is directly by the new creation in us. This new creation which is united to Christ was formed in us by the Spirit of holiness and is itself therefore holy.

There are many sins by which believers are defiled. But there is a way of cleansing still open to them. If they continually use that way of cleansing, no defilement of sin can hinder their communion with Christ.

Under the Old Testament, provision was made for defilement. If a person did not make use of this provision when defiled, he was cut off from the people. God has provided us with the blood of Christ to cleanse us from all the defilement of sin, and he expects believers to use it. If we do not make use of it we cannot have communion with Christ, nor can we have real fellowship with other believers (I John 1:6, 7).

We ought to pray as David did (Psalms 19:12, 13). His prayer was a constant humble acknowledgement of sins. ‘Who can understand his errors?’ He sought a daily cleansing from those defilements which the least and most secret sins bring with them. ‘Cleanse me from secret faults.’ He prayed to be kept from ‘presumptuous sins’, or willful sins committed deliberately against known light. So long as believers are kept within the bounds set in David’s prayer, even although they are defiled by sin, yet there is in them nothing inconsistent with their union with Christ. Our blessed head is not only pure and holy, he is also gracious and merciful. He will not cut off a member of his body because it is sick or has a sore in it.

Conclusion. There is, then, a great difference between true holiness wrought in us by the Holy Spirit and a morally decent life produced by self-effort. Moreover the life of holiness wrought in us by the Holy Spirit needs to be kept pure and undefiled by the Spirit of God and the blood of Christ, whereas the morally decent life, produced by self-effort, endeavors to keep itself pure by ‘good resolutions’.

The 95 theses

January 1, 2010 Comments off

by Martin Luther

1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.

3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.

4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.

6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.

7. God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.

8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.

9. Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.

10. Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.

11. Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Mt 13:25).

12. In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.

13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far as the canon laws are concerned, and have a right to be released from them.

14. Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.

15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.

16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.

17. It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily decrease and love increase.

18. Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.

19. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.

20. Therefore the pope, when he uses the words “plenary remission of all penalties,” does not actually mean “all penalties,” but only those imposed by himself.

21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.

22. As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.

23. If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.

24. For this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.

25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.

26. The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.

27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.

28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.

29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.

30. No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.

31. The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.

32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.

34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.

35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.

36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.

37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.

38. Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.

39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.

40. A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them — at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.

41. Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.

42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.

43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.

44. Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.

45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.

46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.

47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.

48 Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.

49. Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.

50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.

51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.

52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.

53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.

54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.

55. It is certainly the pope’s sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

56. The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.

57. That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.

59. St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.

60. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure.

61. For it is clear that the pope’s power is of itself sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.

62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.

63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last (Mt. 20:16).

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.

66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.

67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.

68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.

69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.

70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.

71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.

72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.

73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.

74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.

75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.

76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.

77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.

78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written, 1 Co 12[:28].

79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.

80. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.

81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.

82. Such as: “Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church? The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.

83. Again, “Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”

84. Again, “What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do not rather, because of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love’s sake?”

85. Again, “Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?”

86. Again, “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”

87. Again, “What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?”

88. Again, “What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?”

89. “Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?”

90. To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.

91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.

92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)

93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!

94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).

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