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§ 48. The Saxon Visitation Articles, 1592.


Articuli Visitatorii, Anno Christi 1592 in Electoratu et Provinciis superioris Saxoniæ publicati, et Judicibus Con istoriorum, Superintendentibus, Ministris ecclesiarum et scholarum, nec non Administratoribus bonorum ecclesiasticorum, quin et ipsis Patronis et Collatoribus ad subscribendum et servandum propositi et demandati. They are printed in Corp. juris eccles. Saxonici, Dresden, 1773, p. 256, and added to Hase's edition of the Lutheran Symbols, pp. 862–866, the Berlin edition of the Concordia (1857), pp. 849–854, and Müller's Symb. Bücher, pp. 779–784.

Gründliche Verantwortung der vier streitigen Artikel, etc. Leipzig, 1593.

A. Hunnius: Widerlegung des Calvinischen Büchleins wider die vier Artikel, 1593.

Comp. Schroekh: Kirchengeschichte seit der Reformation, Vol. IV. pp. 660 sqq.; Henke: Art. Hunnius in Herzog, Vol. VI. pp. 316–321; Müller: Symb. Bücher, pp.cxxi. (Introd.) sqq.; G.Frank: Geschichte der Protest. Theologie (1864), Vol. I. pp. 290 sqq.


The Four Articles of Visitation of Electoral Saxony owe their origin to the revival and second overthrow of Crypto-Calvinism, and reflect the fierceness and bitterness of this contest.701701   See above, p. 283. They continued in force till the present century, but never extended their authority beyond Saxony. They are strongly anti-Calvinistic, and may be regarded as an Appendix to the Formula of Concord, with which they fully agree.

They were written in 1592, and first published in German in 1593.702702   Under the title: 'Visitation-Artikel im gantzen Churkreiss Sachsen. Sampt derer Calvinisten Negativa und Gegenlehr, und die Form der Subscription, welchergestalt dieselbe beyden Partheien sich zu unterschreiben sind vorgelegt worden.' Their object was to perpetuate the reign of exclusive Lutheranism. They are based on the articles of a Colloquy between Andreæ and Beza at Mömpelgard (1586). The chief author was Dr. Aegidius Hunnius, one of the foremost Lutheran divines of his age, a native of Winnenden in the Duchy of Würtemberg, professor of theology at Marburg (1576–1592), and afterwards at Wittenberg (d. 1603).703703   He was aided in the composition by Mart. Mirus, George Mylius, and Joshua Lonnerus. Mirus was called by Hospinian 'Inquisitor Saxoniæ, because, as the Lutherans explained this term of reproach, he cleaned the Lord's vineyard of cunning foxes and wild hogs. His last wish was to die an enemy of Calvinists and Papists. Frank, l.c. Vol. I. p. 296. He was commissioned with several others to visit the churches and schools of Saxony for the purpose of suppressing every trace of Crypto-Calvinism. All clergymen and teachers, and even the civil officers, were required to subscribe the four Articles or lose their places. A great feast of thanksgiving closed the visitation.

The hardest fate was reserved for Chancellor Crell, who, after ten years' imprisonment, was executed (1601), ostensibly for political offenses, 346but really for opinions which were once honored by the name of Philip Melanchthon. The preachers who attended this auto-da-fé of hyper-Lutheran orthodoxy told Crell that by his wicked Calvinism he had caused in many cases a dangerous delay of infant baptism, undermined the authority of the ministry, and deserved the fire of hell. They laughed at his prayer on the scaffold; whereupon he prayed to God not to change their laughter into weeping. The executioner, holding the severed head high up in the air, said: 'This was a Calvinistic stroke.'704704   See Frank, Vol. I. p. 297, and Henke's monograph on Casp. Peucer und Nic. Crell, 1865.

The four Articles give a very clear and explicit summary of those peculiar doctrines which distinguish the Lutheran creed from those of all other Protestant churches. The first refers to the Lord's Supper, and teaches the real presence and oral fruition of the true and natural body of Christ by all communicants. The second treats of the Person of Christ, and teaches, in support of the eucharistic omnipresence, the communication of the attributes whereby the human nature of Christ became partaker of the whole majesty, honor, power, and glory of his divine nature. The third teaches baptismal regeneration and the ordinary necessity of baptism for salvation.705705   Baptism was performed with exorcism in Lutheran churches, and it was counted one of the chief crimes of the Crypto-Calvinists that they abolished this rite. A Saxon pastor who baptized without exorcism gave great offense to the peasants, who cried after him: 'The naughty priest has not expelled the devil' (Der lose Pfaffe hat den Teufel nicht ausgetrieben). The fourth teaches the universal atonement, and the vocation of all men to salvation, with the possibility of a total and final fall from grace.

In the negative part the opposite doctrines of the Calvinists are rejected. These were henceforth held in perfect abhorrence in Saxony, and it was a common proverb, 'Rather a Papist than a Calvinist.'706706   It is almost incredible to what extent the Lutheran bigotry of those days carried its hatred of Zwinglianism and Calvinism. We give a few characteristic specimens. Schlüsselburg (Superintendent of Ratzeburg), one of the most learned champions of Lutheran orthodoxy, in his Theologiæ Calvinistarum Libri Tres, Francoforti ad Mænum, 1592, tries to prove that the Calvinists are unsound in almost every article of the Christian faith ('Sacramentarios de nullo fere doctrinæ Christianæ articulo recte sentire'), and has a special chapter to show that the Calvinistic writings overflow with mendaciis, calumniis, conviciis, maledictis, et contumeliis. He regards many of their doctrines as downright blasphemy. Philip Nikolai, a pious Lutheran pastor at Unna, afterwards at Hamburg, and author of two of the finest German hymns ('Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern,' and 'Wachet auf! ruft uns die Stimme'), called the God of the Calvinists 'a roaring bull (Wucherstier und Brüllochs), a bloodthirsty Moloch, a hellish Behemoth and Leviathan, a fiend of men!' (Kurtzer Bericht von der Calvinisten Gott und ihrer Religion, Frkf. 1597; Die erst Victoria, Triumph und Freudenjubel über des Calvin Geistes Niederlag, 1600; Calvinischer Vitzliputzli, etc. See Frank, Vol. I. p. 280. Provost Magirus, of Stuttgart, thought that the Calvinists imitated at times the language of Luther, as the hyena the human voice, for the destruction of men. John Modest wrote a book to prove that the Sacramentarians are no Christians, but baptized Jews and Mohammedans ('Beweis aus der heiligen Schrift dass die Sacramentirer nicht Christen sind, sondern getaufte Juden und Mahometisten, Jena, 1586). John Prätorius, in a satire (Calvinisch Gasthaus zur Narrenkayffen, etc.), distinguishes open Calvinists, who have no more sense than a horse or an ass; secret Calvinists, who fish in the dark; and several other classes (see Frank, Vol. I. p. 282 sq.). The second Psalm, speaking of the rebellion against Jehovah and his Anointed, was applied to the Calvinists, and their condemnation was embodied in catechisms, hymns, and popular rhymes, of which the following are fair specimens:    'Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort
    Und wehr der Calvinisten Mord.'

   'Wenn ein Calvinist spricht, Gott grüss dich,

    So wünscht sein Herz, der Tod hol dich.'

   'Gottes Wort und Luther's Lehr

    Vergehet nun und nimmermehr,

    Und ob's gleich bisse noch so sehr

    Die Calvinisten an ihrer Ehr.'

   'Gottes Wort und Lutheri Schrift

    Sind des Papsts und Calvini Gift.'


As the Articles are a very clear and succinct statement of the specific doctrines of Lutheranism as opposed to Calvinism, and not easy of access, they are here given in full:

Articulus I.

De Sacra Cœna.

pura et vera doctrina nostrarum ecclesiarum de sacra cœna.

I. Quod, verba Christi: 'Accipite et comedite, hoc est corpus meum: Bibite, hic est sanguis meus,' simpliciter, et secundum literam, sicut sonant, intelligenda sint.

II. Quod in Sacramento duæ res sint, quæ exhibentur et simul accipiuntur: una terrena, quæ est panis et vinum; et una cœlestis, quæ est corpus et sanguis Christi.

III. Quod hæc Unio, Exhibitio et Sumptio fiat hic inferius in terris, non superius in cœlis.

IV. Quod exhibeatur et accipiatur verum et naturale corpus Christi, quod in cruce pependit, et verus ac naturalis sanguis, qui ex Christi latere fluxit.

V. Quod corpus et sanguis Christi non fide tantum spiritualiter, quod etiam extra Cœnam fieri potest, sed cum pane et vino oraliter, modo tamen imperscrutabili et supernaturali, illic in Cœna accipiantur, idque in pignus et certificationem resurrectionis nostrorum corporum ex mortuis.

VI. Quod oralis perceptio corporis et sanguinis Christi non solum fiat a dignis, verum etiam ab indignis, qui sine pœnitentia et vera fide accedunt; eventu tamen diverso. A dignis enim percipitur ad salutem, ab indignis autem ad judicium.

Articulus II.

De Persona Christi.

pura et vera doctrina nostrarum ecclesiarum de hoc articulo, de persona christi.

I. In Christo sunt duæ distinctæ Naturæ, divina et humana. Hæ manent in æternum inconfusæ et inseparabiles (seu indivisæ).

II. Hæ duæ Naturæ personaliter ita sunt invicem unitæ, ut unus tantum sit Christus, et una Persona.

III. Propter hanc personalem Unionem recte dicitur, atque in re et veritate ita se habet, quod Deus Homo, et Homo Deus sit, quod Maria Filium Dei genuerit, et quod Deus nos per proprium suum sanguinem redemerit.


IV. Per hanc Unionem personalem, et quæ eam secuta est, exaltationem, Christus secundum carnem ad dexteram Dei collocatus est, et accepit omnem potestatem in cœlo et in terra, factusque est particeps omnis divinæ majestatis, honoris, potentiæ et gloriæ.

Articulus III.

De Baptismo.

pura et vera doctrina nostrarum ecclesiarum de hoc articulo s. baptismatis.

I. Quod unum tantum Baptisma sit, et una ablutio, non quæ sordes corporis tollere solet, sed quæ nos a peccatis abluit.

II. Per Baptismum tanquam lavacrum illud regenerationis et renovationis Spiritus Sancti salvos nos facit Deus et operatur in nobis talem justitiam et purgationem a peccatis, ut qui in eo fœdere et fiducia usque ad finem perseverat, non pereat, sed habeat vitam æternam.

III. Omnes, qui in Christum Jesum baptizati sunt, in mortem ejus baptizati sunt, et per Baptismum cum ipso in mortem ejus consepulti sunt, et Christum induerunt.

IV. Baptismus est lavacrum illud regenerationis, propterea, quia in eo renascimur denuo et Spiritu Adoptionis obsignamur ex gratia (sive gratis).

V. Nisi quis renatus fuerit ex aqua et Spiritu, non potest introire in regnum cœlorum. Casus tamen necessitatis hoc ipso non intenditur.

VI. Quicquid de carne nascitur, caro est, et natura sumus omnes filii iræ divinæ: quia ex semine peccaminoso sumus geniti, et in peccatis concipimur omnes.

Articulus IV.

De Prædestinatione et æterna Providentia Dei.

pura et vera doctrina nostrarum ecclesiarum de hoc articulo.

I. Quod Christus pro omnibus hominibus mortuus sit, et ceu Agnus Dei totius mundi peccata sustulerit.

II. Quod Deus neminem ad condemnationem condiderit, sed velit, ut omnes homines salvi fiant et ad agnitionem veritatis perveniant, propterea omnibus mandat, ut Filium suum Christum in Evangelio audiant, et per hunc auditum promittit virtutem et operationem Spiritus Sancti ad conversionem et salutem.

III. Quod multi homines propria culpa pereant: alii, qui Evangelium de Christo nolunt audire, alii, qui iterum excidunt gratia, sive per errores contra fundamentum, sive per peccata contra conscientiam.

IV. Quod omnes peccatores pœnitentiam agentes in gratiam recipiantur, et nemo excludatur. etsi peccata ejus rubeant ut sanguis; quandoquidem Dei misericordia major est, quam peccata totius mundi, et Deus omnium suorum operum miseretur.

Sequitur Falsa et Erronea Doctrina Calvinistarum.

De Sacra Cœna.

I. Quod supra posita verba Christi figurate intelligenda sint, et non secundum literam, sicut sonant.

II. Quod in Cœna tantum nuda signa sint, corpus autem Christi tam procul a pane, quam supremum cœlum a terra.

III. Quod Christus illic præsens sit tantum virtute et operatione sua, et non corpore suo. Quemadmodum sol splendore et operatione sua in terris præsens et efficax est, corpus autem solare superius in cœlo existit.

IV. Corpus Christi esse typicum corpus, quod pane et vino tantam significetur et præfiguretur.

V. Quod sola fide, quæ in cœlum se elevet, et non ore, accipiatur.

VI. Quod soli digni illud accipiant, indigni autem, qui talem fidem evolantem sursum in cœlos non habent, nihil præter panem et vinum accipiant.

Falsa et Erronea Doctrina Calvinistarum.

De Persona Christi,

quæ potissimum iii. et iv. articulo purioris doctrinæ repugnat.

I. Quod Deus Homo, et Homo Deus est, esse figuratam locutionem.

II. Quod humana Natura cum divina non in re et veritate, sed tantum nomine et verbis communionem habeat.


III. Quod Deo impossibile sit ex tota omnipotentia sua præstare, ut corpus Christi naturale simul et instantanee in pluribus, quam in unico loco sit.

IV. Quod Christus secundum humanam Naturam per exaltationem suam tantnm creata dona et finitam potentiam acceperit, non omnia sciat aut possit.

V. Quod Christus secundum Humanitatem absens regnet, sicut Rex Hispaniæ novas Insulas regit.

VI. Quod damnabilis idololatria sit, si fiducia et fides cordis in Christum non solum secundum divinam, sed etiam secundum humanam ipsius Naturam collocetar, et honor adorationis ad utramque dirigatur.

Falsa et Erronea Doctrina Calvinistarum.

De Sacro Baptismo.

I. Baptismum esse externum lavacrum aquæ, per quod interna quædam ablutio a peccatis tantum significetur.

II. Baptisimum non operari neque conferre regenerationem, fidem, gratiam Dei et salutem, sed tantum significare et obsignare ista.

III. Non omnes, qui aqua baptizantur, consequi eo ipso gratiam Christi aut donum fidei sed tantum electos.

IV. Regenerationem non fieri in, vel cum Baptismo, sed postea demum crescente aetate, imo et multis in senectute demum contingere.

V. Salutem non dependere a Baptismo, atque ideo Baptismum in causa necessitatis non permittendum esse in Ecclesia, sed in defectu ordinarii Ministri Ecclesiæ permittendum esse, ut infans sine Baptismo moriatur.

VI. Christianorum infantes jam ante Baptismum esse sanctos, ab utero matris, imo adhuc in utero materno constitutes esse in fœdere vitae æternæ cæteroqui Sacrum Baptisma ipsis conferri non posse.

Falsa et Erronea Doctrina Calvinistarum.

De Prædestinatione et Providentia Dei.

I. Christum non pro omnibus hominibus, sed pro solis electis mortuum esse.

II. Deum potissimam partem hominum ad damnationem æternam creasse, et nolle, ut potissima pars convertatur et vivat.

III. Electos et regenitos non posse fidem et Spiritum Sanctum amittere, aut damnari, quamvis omnis generis grandia peccata et flagitia committant.

IV. Eos vero, qui electi non sunt, necessario damnari, nec posse pervenire ad salutem, etiamsi millies baptizarentur, et quotidie ad Eucharistiam accederent, præterea vitam tam sancte atque inculpate ducerent, quantum unquam fieri potest.


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