Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.—Judges 20.7.

[A Letter to the Protestants in England from John Bugenhagen of Pomerania.]
 
A Letter to the
Faithful Christian Congregation
In England
Written by
POMERANUS,
that is
John Bugenhagen of Pomerania,
A Dear Friend and Fellow Labourer of Dr. Martin Luther.

Originally Titled:

¶ A  compédious
letter which Jhon
Pomerane    cura-
te  of the congre-
gation at Witten-
berge  sent to the
faythfull christen
congregati-
on in En-
glande.

1536.
GRACE be with you, and peace from God our Father, & from our Lord Jesus Christ. We could not but rejoice, when we heard that in England, as in other countries, the joyful message of the glory of God was very well taken of divers. Notwithstanding, this also is shewed us, that many weaklings yet be drawn back again because of unknown rumours that there be noised of [about] us by them that withstand the Gospel of God;—This is our rejoicing: Nevertheless I think it not needful to withstand such lies as be uttered against the preachers of the Gospel, For whereto should this blessing be meet else, namely, Blessed be ye when men curse you, and revile {} you, &c. [Matth. 5.] But we do not allow, & support if anybody under pretence of Christian liberty behave himself unchristianly: for all they that have taken upon them the name of Christ, have also put on Christ. And this we marvel of, why some with you fear to take upon them the holy Gospel of Christ by reason of the misreport that we are misreported, not remembering that it behoveth the Son of God to be reproved of the world [Matth. 16,] & the preaching of the cross to be counted foolishness. [1 Cor. 1.] Though it were true that [which] men do falsely surmise upon us, for Christ’s cause, should not they therefore accept the glad tidings of health so freely offered them of God? What point is more foolish than this, namely that you be more curious unto my wickedness {} than to your own health? Wilt thou therefore be no Christian, because I am a sinner? Why do not they rather follow the rule of Paul saying: Prove all things, & keep that which is good. [1 Thess. 5.] If I shall have respect to man’s righteousness or unrighteousness, when shall I be delivered from errour (whereby the whole world did near perish) and know the righteousness of God? Now will the rude say, who can perceive these doubtful things? For men dispute of man’s free-will, of vows, and monasticall sects, of shrift & satisfactions, of the abuse of the blessed sacrament, of worshipping of saints that be dead, and such like. Some others say, we fear lest under this variance be some poison hid, and mischief. As though {} we went about with enticing words of man’s wisdom [1 Cor. 2.], and not with evident scriptures against whom the gates of hell hitherto could not prevail? [Matth. 16.] Or as though our adversaries brought anything else for them against us save statutes, and traditions of men, the which God doth damn, Isaiah 29, and Christ, Matth. 15. But what poison do ye fear here, whiles we attempt nothing in secret: but we propone all our doings to the whole world’s judgment. [John 18.] And because thou shalt not excuse thyself with the diversity of doctrines, to be short, we teach but one article, though we preach much daily, and write much, and do many things for our adversaries, that they also may be saved. And this is the article, namely:

¶ Christ is our righteousness.

[For] he is become unto us of God the Father, wisdom, justice, satisfaction, and redemption. [1 Cor. 1.] He that doth not grant us that, is no Christian man, and he that doth grant us it, will soon give over all righteousness of men. Here shall the heresy of Pelagius nothing avail, wherewith (though they have altered the words) those persons are infected, which boast themselves only to be Christians [to be the only Christians]. The confidence of sects, and outward works as are nowadays, shall not profit us, the which our Pharisees have brought unto us refusing the shame of Christ’s cross, in that they set our works in Christ’s stead. {} Against whom, and against the whole kingdom of Satan, we bring forth this most sure argument with Paul, saying: If righteousness come by the law & our own free-will, then died Christ in vain, Galatians 2. This righteousness which is Christ, hath witness of the law, and prophets. [Rom. 3.] But they that follow their own righteousness, do never attain to the true righteousness as the Jews did [not]. [Rom. 9.] For they cannot be brought subject under the righteousness of God. [Rom. 10.] This righteousness of Christ is thine if thou receive Christ by Faith. For Christ died not for himself, or for his own sins, but for thee and thy sins. [1 Pet. 2.] Therefore, what other thing soever thou attemptest to be made righteous by (that is) to be made free {} from the displeasure of God, from sin, from death, and from hell, it is all but hypocrisy, falsehood, and wickedness, hath it never so fair a pretence of holiness. For it shall strive against the grace of God, and deny Christ. Peradventure thou wilt ask what our opinion & teaching is of customs, of worshipping of God, of the sacraments, and such like. To this I answer, that Christ which is become our righteousness, is also our teacher: Whatsoever he hath taught us by his word, that counsel we to be observed, like as he himself hath commanded in the last chapter of Matthew. First of all he hath taught this to be the work of God, that we believe in him whom the Father hath sent us. [John 6.] And whoso believeth {} in him he is a good tree, & cannot but bring good fruit at his season [Matth. 7.]: not that fruit which hypocrisy feigneth, but that fruit which the Spirit of God bringeth forth there, of his own accord. For they which be led with Christ’s Spirit, they be the children of God. [Gal. 4; 1 Pet. 4.] Wherefore he shall live soberly, godly, and righteously: he shall worship God in spirit and truth [John 4], and not in elements of this world [Col. 2], not in change of meats, and diversity of vesture, or other hypocrisy. He shall believe or feel of the sacraments that, which God hath taught and ordained. He shall serve his neighbour in teaching, counsel, prayer, in his substance, yea with the peril of his life also, not to his friend only, but also to his enemy. These things {} hath Christ taught. To these draweth the nature of the Spirit the hearts of them that believe: & all these teach we to be done. And forasmuch as we be yet in the flesh, whatsoever is not done by the motion of these, doth not satisfy and recompence God. And because we sin daily, therefore we teach with Christ that forgiveness of sin be continually desired. Christ’s commandment to pray was: Forgive us our debts, &c. And for this faithful trust in God we assure them that the sin which resteth yet in the flesh shall not once be imputed unto them. Paul saith: I find in me (that is, in my flesh) no good. [Rom. 7.] But thanks to God that Christ is not come hither for the righteous, but for the unrighteous & sinners. [Matt. 9; Luke 5.] {} For publicans & whores shall enter into the kingdom of heaven before the Pharisees supposing them[selves] righteous by their works. What will the wicked mouth babble and say scornfully, seeing we preach, nor teach other things? God saith by Moses, [Deut. 18.]: Whoso doth not hear that prophet (meaning Christ) I will be avenged upon him: Let these enemies of the Gospel think this sentence spoken against them. The Father also saith of Christ: Hear him. [Matth. 17.] And Christ himself saith: My sheep shall hear my voice and not the voice of strangers. [John 10.] This have I written to you brethren in few words, to testify unto you the rejoicing that I have of you [Phil. 4,] and also to give accounts unto you of the good hope [1 Pet. 3,] that we {} have to God against them, that with unshamefast [shameless] lies pervert and overthrow all that we build.

Praye  ye  to  God  for  vs,     and
for  all  the  sayntes,    and  for  all
oure  aduersaryes,  that  the  wor-
de  of  God  be knowne and gro-
we in ye worlde, to his glory and
the health of men, thorow
Jesu Chryst oure
Lorde & sau-
eour To
whom
be
glory and power
for euer and
eurer.
Amen.
(. . .)
. .
.


 
Psal. xxx.
Let the lyenge lyppes be put to
sylence, which cruelly, dysday-
nedly, and despytefully speake
agaynst the ryghteous.