THE ATTACK ON THE SACRAMENTS
IN the midst of the excitement of the late winter and early spring, Martin found time to give form to his mature convictions on the subject of the forgiveness of sins. This he did in two sermons, prepared with unusual care, On the Manner of Confession and On Good Works. Both set forth ideas that had been ripening in his mind ever since the Romans lectures, had appeared in the course on Galatians, and were now finding their way into the commentary on Psalms.
The sermon on confession goes back to a request of Spalatin, who had, as it appears, asked him repeatedly for a formula of confession. In January, 1519, in the interval between the early negotiations with Miltitz and the preparation for the duel with Eck, Martin wrote out in Latin a simple formula,1 from which a German extract, A Brief Instruction for Confession, appears to have been made and published by Spalatin. Here, after a short introduction, Martin lists under each of the Ten Commandments the offenses which might be committed and should be confessed. These traverse the thoughts and actions of a man of his day, both in social relationships and in the laboratory of the soul's imaginings and desires. The First Commandment, for example, is broken when we have conferences with magicians or consult astrologers, when we make a league with the devil or divine the future by means of stones and herbs, as well as when we seek from the saints only temporal blessings or trust in our own righteousness. The Commandment to honor our parents requires that we should hold in honor princes, lords, and councilors, whether they be good or evil; that against murder is broken when we fail to pray for our enemies; that against stealing when we lend money at interest.
This German sketch found its way into the press and circulated widely____________________