ARTICLE II.– OF THE MASS.
That the mass under Popery must be the greatest and most terrible abomination, since it is directly and strongly opposed to this chief article; and yet of all Papal idolatries it was the most embellished and applauded. For it was maintained that such offering, or work of the mass, even when performed by an artful knave, liberates men from sins, both in this life, and in purgatory,– a thing which the Lamb of God alone can do, as already said. No part of this article can be yielded or rescinded; for the first article will not allow it.
But if there be a rational Papist any where, we might speak to him in the following friendly manner:– First, why do you still adhere so strenuously to the mass, since it is a mere human device, not commanded of God? And we may safely abandon all human devices, as Christ, Matt. 15, 9, says: "In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
Secondly, it is an unnecessary thing, which we can omit without sin or danger.
Thirdly, we can, according to the institution of Christ, obtain the Sacrament in a far better and a more acceptable way, yea, this way is alone acceptable. What use is it, then, to force men into difficulty and misery, for the sake of a fictitious advantage, when we can have it otherwise more happily and better?
Let the doctrine be publicly preached to the people, that the mass as a human invention, may be left unobserved without sinning, and that no one who does not observe it will be condemned, but may be saved without the mass and through better means, and we will venture to assert that the mass will then be discontinued of itself, not only among the illiterate populace, but also among all pious, sincere, and intelligent Christians; much more so, if they should hear that it is a dangerous thing, invented and devised without the Word and will of God.
Fourthly, inasmuch as incalculable and inexpressible abuses, resulting from the mercenary purposes to which the mass has been devoted, have obtained in all the world, it should be discontinued, for the purpose of restraining these abuses alone, even if the mass itself had something useful and good in it. How much rather, then, should we suffer it to cease, in order to prevent such abuse perpetually, since it is entirely unnecessary, useless, and dangerous, and since we can have every thing necessary and useful, with certainty, without the mass.
Fifthly, since the mass neither is nor can be any thing else,– as the canons and all the books declare,– but a work of man, (even of artful knaves,) by which each one wishes to reconcile himself and others to God, and to merit and obtain grace and remission of sins; for so, even at best, it is regarded– and how could it be otherwise?– consequently we should and must condemn and reject it. For this is directly in opposition to the chief article, which declares that neither a wicked nor a pious performer of mass, but the Lamb of God and the Son of God bears our sins.
And if any one, for the purpose of making a pious appearance, should pretend that he would, as a devotional exercise, give or administer the Lord's Supper to himself, there could be no sincerity in this; for if he had a sincere desire to commune, it could be administered to him best and most appropriately in the Sacrament, according to the institution of Christ. But for a person to administer the Sacrament to himself, is a human presumption, uncertain and unnecessary, as well as forbidden. Neither does he know what he is doing, since, without the Word of God, he follows false conceptions and fantasies of men. Nor would it be right, if all else were unexceptionable, for one to use the common Sacrament of the church according to his own caprice, and to sport with it at his pleasure, independently of the Word of God, and apart from the communion of the church.
This article, concerning the mass, will be the main point in the council. For if it were possible for them to yield to us in every other article, yet they cannot yield in this. As Campegius said at Augsburg: "He would rather permit himself to be torn into pieces, than allow the mass to be discontinued." So would I rather, by the help of God, suffer myself to be reduced to ashes, than permit a performer of mass with his works, whether he be good or bad, to be equal or superior to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thus we are and remain eternally separated and opposed to each other. They truly feel, that if the mass falls, Popery will cease; before they would suffer this to come to pass, they would put all of us to death, if it were possible.