In replying to the general observations, which constitute the introduction of the Plea, we shall pursue the order of their occurrence.
“We shall, in this short tract,” says the author, “not speak of the objections, which in the Definite Platform are set forth against some errors, contained in some other symbolical books of the Lutheran Church, but we shall confine ourselves exclusively to the errors pointed out in the Augsburg Confession, the work of Luther and Melancthon themselves, and the only one of our Confessions which was universally received as such, by the whole Lutheran Church in all parts of the world,” p. 4. This concession is no less honorable to the reverend author, than the fact itself is important in the discussion of the subject before us. As the contrary has frequently been asserted in this country, in the face of history, it seems proper to advert to its details. The facts in the case are the following:
The Form of Concord was rejected in Denmark, Sweden, Hessia, Pommerania, Holstein, Anhalt, and the cities of Strasburg, Frankfurt a. m. Speier, Worms, Nuerenberg, Magdeburg, Bremen, Dantzig, &c. For particulars see Koellner’s Symbolik, Vol. I, pp. 575-77.
The Smalcald Articles were rejected by Sweden and Denmark.
The Apology to the Augsburg Confession, was denied, official authority, by Sweden and Denmark.
The Larger Catechism of Luther, in Sweden and Denmark.
Even the Smaller Catechism of Luther was not
received as symbolic in
Sweden. See Guericke’s Symbolik, pp. 67, &c., 113.
Here, then, we perceive, that those ultra Lutherans of our day, who insist on the whole mass of former symbols as essential to Lutheranism, must unchurch a very large portion of the Lutheran Church even of the sixteenth century. But among these we can by no means class the author of the Plea, who is evidently a Lutheran of the more enlightened and liberal class.
The author of the Plea represents “the Augsburg Confession, as the unexceptionable password of the adherents of the Lutheran Church for three centuries.” The idea designed probably is, that the great mass of doctrines taught in this confession has been thus received. For it is a historical fact, that cannot be contested, that private confession, which is enjoined in the eleventh, twenty-fifth and twenty-eighth Articles of the Augsburg Confession, and was retained by Luther, Melancthon and their churches, was from the begining [sic] rejected by the entire Lutheran Church in Sweden and Denmark, as well as other places, and a public confession of the whole church, such as is now employed in Germany and this country, introduced in its stead. See Siegel’s Handbuch, Vol. I., p. 200.