The Source of It. Because the devil, a mighty, evil, deceitful spirit, hates the children of God. For them the holy cross serves for learning the faith, for [learning] the power of the word, and for subduing whatever sin and pride remain. Indeed, a Christian can no more do without the cross than without food or drink.
The Entreaty. The touch of Christ sanctifies all the sufferings and sorrows of those who believe in him. Whoever does not suffer shows that he does not believe that Christ has given him the gift of sharing in his own passion. But if anyone does not wish to bear the cross which God places upon him, he will not be compelled to do so by anyone—he is always free to deny Christ. But in so doing he must know that he cannot have fellowship with Christ or share in any of his gifts. For example, a merchant, a hunter, a soldier risk so much pain for the sake of an uncertain gain and victory, while here, where it is certain that glory and blessedness will be the result, it is a disagreeable thing to suffer even for a bit, as Isaiah 54 [:7], Christ in John 16 [:20–22], Peter in I Peter 1 [:6], and Paul in II Corinthians 4 [:17] usually put it, “for a little while,” and momentarily. (Luther’s Works, v.43 p.184-185)
Art. XVIII Das der mensch Zwar i eusserlichë dinge ein freÿen willen habe aber in Geistliche sache
“That men indeed have a free will in worldly things except in spiritual matters.”
Gen. 6, v. 5 ; And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
1st Cor. 2, v. 14 ; But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him : neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]