Thursday, August 17, 2006

#1969-ML to the Council in Nuernberg in collaboration with Melanchton

God's grace through our LOrd Jesus Christ. Honorable,wise,favored Lords! On E.W.'s question we have discussed it with one another and as far as the public general absolution we do not oppose or reject it for this reason that also the preaching of the Holy Gospel itself is fundamentally and actually an absolution wherein forgiveness is proclaimed publicly and in general to many people or to one person publicly or privately; therefore the absolution may be public and in general or also and especially used in private as the proclamation may occur in general or privately and one might comfort many in general or one alone especially; though not all believe thereon the absolution is not to be rejected since it is to be understood whether it is general or special requires faith and helps those who believe it as also the Gospel is the proclamation of forgiveness to all men all over the world and no one is excepted from this universal; however it requires our faith and it helps no one who does not believe thereon and yet the universal (universalis) must remain. It may be thought that no one will desire the private absolution so long as one has the general and it remains but to that we say that it has the form in the right conditions to give the conscience that special consolation Which it needs; thus one must instruct the conscience that the comfort of the Gospel helps each individually and the Gospel must be applied to each in particular through Word and Sacrament as you in your discretion know that the conscience of each one strugles whether this great grace of Christ belongs to it. That is likely understood that on that account the private absolution should not lapse and the application preserved as well the plain understanding of the Gospel and the power of the keys; very few people will remember to use the common absolution and apply it to themselves as spoken to each one individually and applied and that this is the unique office and work of the Gospel certainly to forgive sin by grace. For these reasons we hold that the common absolution is not to be rejected and nevertheless the private application of absolution should be preserved. God protect E.W. graciously at all times. We are at all times ready and willing to serve E.W. Dated at Wittenberg on the Friday after Easter (18 April) Anno 1533. D. Martinus Luther, Philippus Melanchton.

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