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§ 120. The Roman Confutation and the Protestant Apology.


I. Corpus Reformatorum (Melanchthonis Opera), ed. by Bretschneider and Bindseil, vol. XXVII. (1859), 646 columns, and vol. XXVIII. 1–326. These volumes contain the Confutatio Confessionis Augustanae, and the two editions of Melanchthon’s Apologia Conf. Aug., in Latin and German, with Prolegomena and critical apparatus. The best and most complete edition. There are few separate editions of the Apology, but it Is incorporated in all editions of the Lutheran Symbols; see Lit. in § 119. The Latin text of the Confutatio was first published by A. Fabricius Leodius in Harmonia Confess. Augustanae, 1573; the German, by C. G. Müller, 1808, from a copy of the original in the archives of Mainz, which Weber had previously inspected (Krit. gesch. der Augsb. Conf., II. 439 sqq.).

II. K. Kieser (R. Cath.). Die Augsburger Confession und ihre Widerlegung, Regensburg, 1845. Hugo Lämmer: Die vor-tridentinisch-katholische Theologie des Reformations-Zeitalters, Berlin, 1858, pp. 33–46. By the same: De Confessonis Augustanae Confutatione Pontificia, in Neidner’s "Zeitschrift für Hist. Theol.," 1858. (Lämmer, a Lutheran, soon afterwards joined the Roman Church, and was ordained a priest, 1859, and appointed missionarius apostolicus, 1861.) G. Plitt (Luth.):Die Apologie der Augustana geschichtlich erklärt, Erlangen, 1873. Schaff: Creeds, etc., I. 243. The history and literature of the Apology are usually combined with that of the Confession, as in J. G. Walch, Feuerlin-Riederer, and Köllner.


The Roman "Catholic Confutation," so called, of the Augsburg Confession, was prepared in Augsburg by order of the Emperor Charles, by the most eminent Roman divines of Germany, and bitterest opponents of Luther, especially Drs. Eck, Faber, Cochlaeus, in Latin and German.971971    The full title is Catholica et quasi-extemporanea Responsio Pontificia seu Confutatio Augustanae Confessionis. The first draught was verbose and bitter ("verbosior et acrior"); the second, third, fourth, and fifth were briefer and milder. The final revision, as translated into German, was publicly read before the Emperor and the Diet, in the chapel of the episcopal palace, Aug. 3, and adopted as the expression of the views of the majority.

The document follows the order of the Augsburg Confession. It approves eighteen doctrinal articles of the first part, either in full or with some restrictions and qualifications. Even the fourth article, on justification, escapes censure, and Pelagianism is strongly condemned.972972    The first draught, however, had a lengthy attack upon Luther’s sola fide. The tenth article, on the Lord’s Supper, is likewise approved as far as it goes, provided only that the presence of the whole Christ in either of the substances be admitted.973973    "Decimus articulus in verbis nihil offendit si modo credant [principes, the Lutheran signers] sub qualibet specie integrum Christum adesse." But Article VII., on the Church, is rejected;974974    Because it is defined as a congregatio sanctorum, without including mali et peccatores. also Art. XX., on faith and good works, and Art. XXI., on the worship of saints.975975    Because it rejects the invocation of saints."Hic articulus confessionis toties damnatus penitus rejiciendus est et cum tota universali ecclesia reprobandus."

The second part of the Confession, on abuses, is wholly rejected; but at the close, the existence of various abuses, especially among the clergy, is acknowledged, and a reformation of discipline is promised and expected from a general council.976976    "Quod autem de abusibus adstruxerunt, haud dubie norunt Principes omnes et status imperii, neque a Caes. Maiestate, neque ullis a Principibus et christiano aliquo homine vel minimum abusum probari, sed optare tum Principes, tum status imperii, ut communi consilio ac consensu adnitantur, ut, sublatis abusibus et emendatis, utriusque status excessus aut penitus aboleantur, aut in melius reformentur, ac tandem ecclesiasticus status multis modis labefactatus, ac christiana religio, quae in nonnullis refriguit et remissa est, ad pristinum decus et ornamentumrestituatur et redintegretur. Qua in re Caes. Maiestas, ut omnibus constat, hactenus plurimum et laboris et curae insumsit, et in reliquum ad hoc negotii omnem suam operam ac studium serio collocaturam benigne pollicetur." Corp. Ref., XXVII. 182 sq.

The tone of the Confutation is moderate, owing to the express direction of the Emperor; but it makes no concession on the points under dispute. It abounds in biblical and patristic quotations crudely selected. As to talent and style, it is far inferior to the work of Melanchthon. The Roman Church was not yet prepared to cope with the Protestant divines.

The publication of the Confutation as well as the Confession was prohibited, and it did not appear in print till many years afterwards; but its chief contents became known from notes taken by hearers and from manuscript copies.

The Lutheran members of the Diet urged Melanchthon to prepare at once a Protestant refutation of the Roman refutation, and offered the first draught of it to the Diet, Sept. 22, through Chancellor Brück; but it was refused.

On the following day Melanchthon left Augsburg in company with the Elector of Saxony, re-wrote the Apology on the journey,977977    He worked so hard at it at Altenburg, even on Sunday, that Luther reminded him to observe the Fourth Commandment. and completed it leisurely at Wittenberg, with the help of a manuscript copy of the Confutation, in April, 1531.

The Apology of the Augsburg Confession is a scholarly vindication of the Confession. It far excels the Confutation in theological and literary merit. It differs from the apologetic Confession by its polemic and protestant tone. It is written with equal learning and ability, but with less moderation and more boldness. It even uses some harsh terms against the papal opponents, and calls them liars and hypocrites (especially in the German edition). It is the most learned of the Lutheran symbols, and seven times larger than the Confession, but for this very reason not adapted to be a symbolical book. It contains many antiquated arguments, and errors in exegesis and patristic quotations. But in its day it greatly strengthened the confidence of scholars in the cause of Protestantism. Its chief and permanent value is historical, and consists in its being the oldest and most authentic interpretation of the Augsburg Confession, by the author himself.

The Apology, though not signed by the Lutheran princes at Augsburg, was recognized first in 1532, at a convent in Schweinfurt, as a public confession; it was signed by Lutheran divines at Smalcald, 1537; it was used at the religious conference at Worms, 1540, and embodied in the various editions of the Confession, and at last in the Book of Concord, 1580.

The text of the Apology has, like that of the Confession, gone through various transformations, which are used by Bossuet and other Romanists as proofs of the changeableness of Protestantism. The original draught made at Augsburg has no authority, as it was based on fragmentary notes of Camerarius and others who heard the Confutation read on the 3d of August.978978    Corp. Ref., XXVII. 267 sqq. Melanchthon himself did not hear it. The first Latin edition was much enlarged and improved; the German translation was prepared by Justus Jonas, assisted by Melanchthon, but differs widely from the Latin.979979    Ibid., 379 sqq.; XXVIII. 1 sqq. Both were published together with the Augsburg Confession in October, 1531. Changes were made in subsequent editions, both of the Latin original and the German translation, especially in the edition of 1540. Hence there is an Apologia invariata and an Apologia variata, as well as a Confessio invariata and a Confessio variata. The Book of Concord took both texts from the first edition.980980    See on the different editions the "Corp. Ref.," XXVI. 697 sqq. and XXVII. 379 sqq.; the Latin text of 1531, p. 419 sqq.; the German translation with the variations of ed. II. (1533), ed. III. and IV. (1540), ed. V. 1550), ed. VI. (1556), in vol. XXVIII. 37-326.



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