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Martin Luther: Fewer laws, better government


 

MartinLuther“Experience, all chronicles, and the Holy Scriptures as well, teach us this truth: the less law, the more justice; the fewer commandments, the more good works.  No well-regulated community ever existed long, if at all, where there were many laws.  Therefore, before the ancient law of Moses, the patriarchs of old had no prescribed law and order for the service of God other than the sacrifices, as we read of Adam, Abel, Noah, and others.  Afterward circumcision was enjoined upon Abraham and his household, until the time of Moses, through whom God gave the people of Israel a variety of laws, forms, and practices, for the sole purpose of teaching human nature how utterly useless many laws are to make people righteous.  For although the law leads and drives away from evil to good works, it is impossible for man to do them willingly and gladly, for he has always an aversion to the law and would rather be free.  Now where there is unwillingness, there can never be a good work.  For what is not done willingly is not good, but only seems to be good….

 

Another result of many laws is that many sects and divisions in the congregations arise from them.  One adopts this way, another that, and there grows up in each man a false, secret love for his own sect, and a hatred, or at least a contempt for and a disregard of the other sects.  Thus brotherly, free, and mutual love perishes and selfish love prevails.”

 

Martin Luther, A Treatise on the New Testament, That Is, the Holy Mass.  AE 35, pp. 79-80

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