Preface

Written in Latin by Philip Melanchthon (1531)

Translated from the Latin into German by Justus Jonas (1531)

English Translation Copyright 2014 by Jon Alan Schmidt

Link to Bente/Dau Translation from Latin (1921)

Philip Melanchthon, to the reader:

[1] As the Confession of our most gracious lords, the Elector of Saxony and the Princes of these parts, had been publicly read at Augsburg before his Imperial Majesty and the estates of the empire, several theologians and monks prepared a reply against and Confutation of the same Confession. Afterwards, his Imperial Majesty, having had it read for their Majesties--the Electors, Princes and Estates of the Empire--wanted our Princes henceforth to consent to believe such an opinion, as well as to teach and maintain it.

[2] But because our people heard that in this reply of the theologians many articles were rejected, which they could not reject without burdening the conscience before God, they requested a copy of the reply or Confutation, in order that they might actually see and consider what the opposition understood to condemn, and might answer back that much more correctly regarding their cause and the reasons that they had brought forward.

And in this great, most highly important matter--pertaining not to that which is temporal, but to a common religion, the salvation of all and the welfare of conscience, and on the other hand also to great peril and burden of the same--our people were certain that the adversaries would quite willingly and gladly present such a copy without any complaint, or even offer it to us.

But our people were not at all allowed to obtain this, except with the most onerously attached obligations and conditions, to which they could in no way consent.

[3] A negotiation was afterwards conducted, along with several routes of kindness and reconciliation, wherein our people most gladly volunteered to bear, to submit to, and to do whatever they could without burdening the conscience. [4] But the adversaries stood firmly that we should consent to several manifest abuses and errors; and as we neither could nor wanted to do this, his Imperial Majesty again desired that our Lords and Princes should consent to believe and to maintain what the Confutation of the theologians stated, which our Princes altogether refused to do.

For how could their Electoral and Princely Graces agree to a treatise on such high and most all-important matters, pertaining to many souls and consciences including their own, which no one had delivered to them nor begrudged them to read over or wanted to present to them; especially since they had heard in the lecture that some articles were rejected that they could not yield without acting publicly against God and their own respectability?

[5] For this reason, their Electoral and Princely Graces directed me and some others to prepare a defense or Apology of our first Confession, in which would be indicated to his Imperial Majesty the reasons why we could not accept the Confutation, and why it was not well-founded. [6] Because we were denied a copy over our pleas, requests, and highest solicitation, our people had to capture and record the summation of the argument almost in haste and on the fly during the reading of the Confutation; and we had to prepare the Apology that time while still being denied a copy. [7] This Apology our people at last submitted to his Imperial Majesty as they took their leave from Augsburg, in order that his Majesty might understand that we had very great and highly important reasons why we had not been able to consent to the Confutation; but his Imperial Majesty refused to accept the offered Apology.

[8] Afterwards a decree was nevertheless published, in which the adversaries boasted without grounds that they had refuted our Confession from Holy Scripture.

[9] Contrary to this, however, everyone now has our Apology and defense, from which it will be seen how and what the adversaries have judged. For we have told here how it really fared, and not otherwise, as God knows. Likewise, we have also clearly indicated how they have condemned several articles contrary to the manifest, bright Scripture and clear Word of the Holy Spirit, and how they may nevermore say truthfully that they had answered against us one tittle out of Holy Scripture.

[10] Although I initially commenced this Apology at Augsburg with consultation and several other concerns, I have now done something so that it should be published in print. For this reason, I also write my name here, so that no one may complain that the book was published without a name.

[11] I have so far, as much as it was possible for me, endeavored to speak and to act in accordance with the usual form of Christian doctrine, so that one could with time more easily come back together and conform; although I might with propriety have led these matters farther from their usual form.

[12] But the adversaries are acting against this matter in such an unfriendly way, as if to remind themselves that they seek neither truth nor unity, but only to drink our blood.

[13] Now on top of that, I have written this time in the most moderate way; but where something is harsh in this book, I want it to have been said, not against his Imperial Majesty or the princes, whom I gladly show proper honor, but against the monks and theologians. [14] For I have only recently obtained the Confutation to read properly, and observe that much therein is written in such a dangerous, such a venomous and envious way, that in several places it might deceive even pious people .

[15] I have not, however, dealt with all the quarrelsome, wanton scheming of the adversaries; for there would be countless books to write about that. I have taken up their best and highest reasons , that this may be and forever remain standing as a clear and plain testimony--to high and low estates, to this generation and our posterity, to all native Germans as well as the entire world, all foreign nations--that we have purely, divinely, and correctly taught about the Gospel of Christ. [16] We truly have no desire for or pleasure in disunity, nor are we so utterly hard as a log or stone that we do not consider our course.

For we see and observe how the adversaries in this matter, with great venom and bitterness, seek and thus far have sought our bodies, our lives, and everything we have.

But we know the manifest, divine truth, without which the church of Christ cannot be or remain, and we know not to disavow or dismiss the eternal Holy Word of the Gospel.

For this reason, should we await or endure still greater opposition, danger or persecution for the sake of the Lord Christ and these highest, most important matters--on which the entire holy Christian faith, the entire Christian church depends--we gladly will suffer in such entirely divine, correct matters, and console ourselves completely that it is also certain that the holy, divine Majesty in heaven and our dear Savior Jesus Christ are pleased with this; and after this time, there will be people and our posterity who will judge these matters very much differently and with more credit.

[17] For the adversaries themselves cannot negate or deny that many of the highest, most necessary articles of Christian doctrine--without which the Christian church, together with the entire Christian doctrine and name, would be forgotten and perish--have been brought again to light by our people. For I will not state here this time, with what quarrelsome, vain, useless, childish doctrines many necessary things were suppressed among the monks, theologians, canonists and sophists; it should probably come.

[18] We have (praise God) the testimony of many high, honest, upright, God-fearing people--who thank God from the heart for the inexpressible gifts and mercies--that they have from us much clearer, more certain, more proper, more correct doctrine and consolation of consciences in all the most important parts of the entire Scripture, than is ever found in all the books of the adversaries.

[19] As the recognized, bright truth is ever being trampled underfoot, we therefore will commend this matter here to Christ and God in heaven, Who is the Father of orphans and widows and the Judge of all the forsaken, and Who will (we know this to be true) adjudicate this matter and judge correctly. And Your matter it is, Lord Jesus Christ, Your Holy Gospel; may You look upon so many afflicted hearts and consciences, and Your churches and little assembly, which suffer fear and need from the devil; may You sustain and strengthen Your truth. Put to shame all hypocrisy and lies, and so give peace and unity, so that Your honor comes first and Your kingdom grows and increases vigorously against all the gates of hell without ceasing.