C. F. W. Walther, Sermon “On the Annual Day of Repentance”, Brosamen p. 270-278.
Condensed translation by Pastor Karl Hess,
St. Peter Lutheran Church, Joliet, IL.
September 13, 2016
Hearers, guilty together with me and yet dearly purchased by Christ!
The most terrifying punishment which God has ever allowed to happen to a land and people is without doubt the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans…
…Outside the city stormed the foe. Inside was the uproar of fanatical parties which, in wild fury, rent each other even in the face of external foes…hunger, pestilence…thousands of unburied corpses inside and outside the city gates filled the air with pestilence…A mother killed her own baby and prepared it as a last meal; the soldiers killed people in the search for gold. 1.5 million died. Land laid waste.
…Fulfilled word of Jesus…”There will be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world…and if these day’s weren’t shortened, no one would be saved.”
…But this was not the worst thing. The worst thing was this: they didn’t recognize that God’s wrath had come upon them, and they didn’t confess their sins and repent. If they had, the wrathful rod of God would have turned into His fatherly rod, and He would have snatched their soul like a brand from the fire.
But the Jews didn’t see God in it; they saw it only as the work of the Romans. (p.272) They didn’t want to see that it was God who worked through the Romans like an avenging angel. In the midst of the punishment they thought they were still God’s elect people and that their cause was righteous…and believed that at last God would give them victory, even without repentance and conversion. No exhortation and no chastening through men helped. Nor did warning-signs, which were visible in the heavens, nor did offers of peace on the part of the Romans. The people were hardened until all mercy with God and men came to an end, and the blinded people were thrown into the open doors of death and hell.
Oh dear brothers, I wish to God I could call out on this day of repentance and say, “Praise God! It’s not like this with our land and people! We recognize God’s punishing hand and repent!” But if I said that I would be a false prophet….
It’s true that not all true Christians have left America like they did Jerusalem for Pella. I don’t doubt that there are still thousands of believing children of God among our people. But, my loves, not only has the state of Jerusalem for the most part repeated itself in our land, but also most of the present virgins still here now appear to have fallen asleep, so that they still don’t see the true condition of our nation and people, as He pictures it in the divine Word. Thus they themselves stand in great danger to their souls.
In order that we may envision that condition, this hour has been consecrated.
Verse: Jeremiah 5:3
(p. 273) Lord, your eyes look for faith. You strike them, but they feel it not; you plague them, but they do not amend. They have a countenance harder than a rock, and will not be converted.
With these words, my loves, the holy prophet Jeremiah describes the state of the Jewish people shortly before the destruction of the first temple before the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. In these words is also described the present condition of our people. And that it is then also that I, to the awakening of true contrition in us all, mean now to show you. Namely:
That the prophet’s twofold complaint, “You strike them, but they feel it not,” also applies to our people:
1. The lament: “You strike them,” and
2. The lament: “But they feel it not.”
That the first part applies to our people no one can deny unless he is an atheist and no longer believes in a God in heaven, and has silenced the loud voice within all men that says “There is one God!”
It’s true that pestilence and famine comes as a consequence of failure of harvest from God, and that it is easier to see that these national disasters are not by means of men. But even if godless people alone were the mediate cause of all wars, the final cause for these [wars] is always God, who uses them as the rod of His discipline and punishment.
God is not only the Creator, but the ruler of the world…He isn’t an idle spectator who lets the world do whatever it wants. Jesus explains that not one sparrow falls from the sky without the will of the Father…and all the hairs on our heads are numbered.
“The Lord looks down from heaven and sees all the children of men…He marks all their deeds.” Psalm 33
God is not the cause of sin, but without His will no sinner can move or control heart, tongue, hand nor foot…. (p. 274) ”Whatever, therefore, the sinner would like to do, he can do nothing except fulfill what God has resolved.”
Therefore the prophet Amos cries (3:6): “Is there also disaster in the city, and the Lord hasn’t done it?” and in the prophet Isaiah the Lord Himself says, “I make the light and create the darkness; I give peace and create evil. I am the Lord, who does all these things.”
If we want to know the reason for war and bloodshed, we must lift our thoughts up higher, because no people on earth could terrify another with war were it not, as Daniel says, “Concluded in the council of the watchers, and deliberated on in the discussions of the holy ones.” That is, in the council of the Triune God…Thus in Holy Scripture it is said of God that He is a “true man of war”, who “governs the wars in all the world, who breaks the bow, shatters spears, and burns the chariots with fire”… Also that He visits the peoples’ sin and falling away with war and bloodshed…The prophets threatened His covenant people over and over and finally really punished them with bloody wars, for instance through Nebuchadnezzar, God’s chosen instrument…
So it’s clear without a doubt that “You strike them” applies to our people at this time.
For a long line of years God rained streams of love on our land and people. He made it a place of refuge for the poor and oppressed of all nations, and opened thousands of wells of wealth here, gifted us with all the blessings of religious and civil freedom; in short He made this place an earthly paradise, “so that our America stood as a wonder before the eyes of all nations.”
He wanted to lead our people to repentance through the riches of His kindness. But what has happened? Our people, like Nebuchadnezzar, didn’t give God the glory for these benefits…Our people have propagated the idolatry of themselves, their freedom, their might, their wealth. Instead of being led to God, we fell from God more and more and said to gold nuggets, “My consolation!” Open atheism, false oaths, despising of the Word of God and desecration of the Sabbath, disobedience to parents and uproar (p. 275) against authority, murder, unchastity, deceit of all kinds, usury, bribery, false witness, unrighteous judgment—all these have become such everyday horrors that nobody is surprised or appalled by them—horrors which, unpunished by men, now already for long years have cried loudly to heaven for vengeance.
Thus God finally decided no longer to look on with His despised, mocked patience; thus He has finally allowed the fulfillment of John’s vision to go forth, who in his Revelation wrote: “And behold, I saw a pale horse, and he who sat on it, whose name was called death, and hell followed after him.” A terrifying war has broken out, such as has been seldom seen in the world before. Already hundreds of thousands have fallen…and only God knows how many departed in the midst of their sins and were cast into hell. Thousands and thousands have turned into weeping widows and orphans, or lie groaning in camps of pain…or live as cripples throughout the land. Thousands of peaceful homes, yes, whole cities and villages have been transformed into soot and ashes and their formerly blooming…fields into wastes. Thousands upon thousands of formerly peaceful neighbors have been transformed into bitter foes, who mortally hate each other. In whole great swathes of land families which once lived in golden peace surrender themselves in fear to murderous raids in the stillness of the night. And, what is most terrifying of all, thousands upon thousands have lost the little spark of faith and love which had been lit in their hearts in the torrential flood of the passions of war.
In His wrath, God has punished sin with sin. With every further day of wartime, the last sensation of love, morals, discipline, respectability, and domestic happiness dies away in ever more hearts, and the hosts of war, returning home, will deluge the land with still greater hosts of new sins.
O the great, O the fearful wrath of God!
Still, my loves, this is only one side of the picture of the present condition of our people and our land. Still another, disproportionately more terrifying, our text shows us, when it not only says, “You strike them,” but rather also, “But they feel it not”; not only: “you plague them,” but also: “But they do not amend themselves. They have a countenance harder than a rock, and will not be converted.” Let us then direct our gaze now also on this still darker side.
My loves, if our people had allowed this nearly two-year long distress of war to serve for the purpose for which God sent it to us, then we would have to kiss the bloody rod with tears of joy today, the rod wherewith God has struck us and our people, and with which He still is striking us. And we would have to thank Him for it.
But what is actually happening? Can we say, “Lord, you strike them and they feel it?”
Businessman feels the loss of business…propertied class feels the devaluation of property. Taxpayers feel the burden of increased taxes. Soldiers in the field feel the hardness of their service. Father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter and friend feel the pain of fallen loved ones, destruction of their hometowns, fields, the insecurity of their lives. Servants of mammon, greedy and usurers feel how their speculations of ever greater riches have been crossed out, halted, and ended. The poor feel how even their barest needs have increased in price.
But all of this is not the feeling which the Prophet meant when He said, “You strike them, but they don’t feel it.”
He means here the feeling that God is the one who strikes, that this striking is the punishment of our sins, that it is God’s wrath which has come over this Sodomitical land, that these are finally God’s judgments wherewith God in His burning wrath, unto the lowest hell, visits our people’s forgetting of God and godlessness.
But where is this feeling? There is still nothing of this feeling to be observed among our people. Much more is the old security in sin still ever present, the old pride, the old idolatry in ourselves and our works.
As the only reason for all this misfortune that has come upon us, our people regards the foe that is fighting against us; himself justified and blessed. Therefore only his opponent is execrated and cursed. But he sees nothing of God’s sword of vengeance [lifted up] over him. If one bears witness frankly and freely to our people that God is punishing our sins with this war, the answer would be like the answer of those inhabitants of Sodom, of whom it says that when they were informed of God’s judgment “It was laughable to them.” Yes, not only will people be blind and deaf to this, but still more will declare you to be a traitor to the nation, a desecrator and slanderer of the majesty of the people. And as against Stephen, who spoke against Jerusalem and the temple, people will pick up stones to throw at you as if against people who are not worthy of having the earth sustain them.
So then, in truth, the prophet Jeremiah has described the condition of our people when he writes: “You strike them, but they feel it not; you plague them, but they do not amend their ways. They have a face harder than a rock, and do not want to be converted.”
But now, my listeners, what is our condition? Must we not also admit to our own shame that even among us the majority have not recognized and felt from the beginning on in this war the punishment of our sins, the wrath and judgment of God over our people? Where are our tears of repentance over our joint guilt in the common misery? Where are our daily prayers, supplications, wrestlings, and struggle with God for contrition and grace for us and our unfortunate people? Haven’t we rather cheered those who in this war saw nothing besides the birth pangs, full of hope, of a new age of perfect freedom and equality? Haven’t we gotten our opinions about this war from the godless, atheistic newspapers instead of taking them from the unerring Word of God? Instead of looking to the Lord of all Lords, whose fierceness against our fallen people has been awakened, and who alone, above all, “carries out such desolations on earth”, have we not looked to men, and thus nurtured hatred of foes and party-anger within ourselves—indeed, even helped to increase this fire from the netherworld into a bright flame in others? Have we not taken part in the universal confidence of our people in its own might and intelligence and in its deification of men? That we have faithfully stood by the authority God has set over us, that was right; but have we not at the same time committed ourselves to the plans of those partisans which puff themselves up hypocritically with their loyalty as long as the government serves their purposes, but which cast away the mask when it appears to want to pursue another course? Those partisans which intend nothing else than to overthrow everything, and to bring about those conditions in which equality, mob rule, and impudence count for freedom?
Oh, how many have fallen into this whirlpool, of whom one frankly expected something completely different! Truly, twenty years ago such things would not have been possible in our congregation.
Twenty years ago (1843), when we were still without our own house of God, we would have considered that fact that we as Christians must follow another way than the world. We wanted at that time not to be condemned with the godless world. But we have gone backward. We have fallen. The spirit of the world has broken in among us and has carried out terrible devastations among us.
Oh my brothers and sisters, it is time; it is already high time that we remember, that we rise up from our fall, that we turn back. If we don’t want to do this, then the spirit of the world, even if he perhaps still leaves the external form of a right-believing church—still, in short he will have eaten through our core like an evil worm, and we will become an empty shell. We will have the name of being alive while we are dead.
Oh, then hear me to day, in order that you hear God again! Don’t turn away indignant from your old cure of souls (Seelsorger) who chastens you, that God Himself may not one day depart from you in the hour of your death! For I don’t speak to you in my own name, but in the name of the Lord, the Most High, to which I have been solemnly called and sworn by you.
Let each one then test his previous conduct and his condition according to God’s Word with heartfelt sighs for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
Also, as true spiritual priests, help one another to a right knowledge of himself, and let everyone allow himself to be helped to this end. Confess then to God your deviations from His Holy Word with remorse and a stricken heart, and comfort yourselves against your sins with the sweet promises of divine grace in Christ, given to all repentant sinners. Let no one here wait on another. Begin, each one, with himself, without first consulting with flesh and blood.
Oh, if we would do that, then the plan which Satan has in mind, to fight through this war against our salvation, and to cheat us through the same, would be foiled. Because when God strikes, and one feels it; when God plagues, and one amends, then God repents of all the evil that He had thought to do to us; the pain will turn into medicine, the misfortune to good fortune and the bloody war itself to means of, if not temporal, still spiritual and eternal peace.
But because God alone can give the willing and the doing, alone can give grace and peace, temporal and eternal salvation to any individual and to whole peoples, let us, in closing, cast ourselves on our knees, and call upon God together for us and our people, for the whole Christian Church, and the whole redeemed world, as we sing the indicated hymn of prayer, no. 368: Kyrie eleison.
 Luther’s translation.
 Daniel 4:17, Luther’s translation: Solches ist im Rat der Wächter beschlossen und im Gespräch der Heiligen beratschlaget…KJV: This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
 Exodus 15:3 (Luther’s translation: Der Herr ist der rechte Kriegesmann.)
 Psalm 46:10 (Luther’s translation: Der den Kriegen steuert in aller Welt; der Bogen zerbricht, Spiesse zerschlaegt, und Wagen mit Feuer verbrennt.)
 Revelation 6:8 (Luther’s translation: Und siehe, und ich sah ein fahl Pferd, und der daraufsaß, des Name hieß Tod, und die Hölle folgte ihm nach.)
 Psalm 46:9 (Luther’s translation: Kommt her, und schauet die Werke des Herrn, der auf Erden solch Zerstoeren anrichtet…)
 i.e. the Litany.
It belongs in common to all Christians that they preserve the doctrine and their faith, but especially they which carry out the preaching office, that each in his particular station can stand up for it and answer useless talkers. “Do you not hear that God has applied this station to me, and commanded me faithfully to wait upon it, and threatens me with His wrath if I were to leave it undone, and do something else?” That is not only to remain firm in his own station, unhindered and undefeated, but instead also to beat, reject, and refute with the Word of God whatever hinders us and wants to draw us back. St. Paul shortly before this text teaches how this is to be done through all stations—man, woman, young, old, lords, servants, maids, etc. For it is determined that each Christian, in whatever station he is in, must always stand in the midst of struggle, where the devil attacks and storms against him with his promptings, with false, evil thoughts, or through evil, useless talkers, which would incite him to leave his station, not to mention what our own flesh does. Therefore it is not enough that we keep our own castle safe…rather also, that we drive the devil away and beat him back through God’s Word, which is our sword, as we shall hear.
- For this an Armor is Required.
PUT ON THE ARMOR OF GOD.
That we should be strong and have such power with us wherewith we can beat the foe, he now wants to interpret himself and clarify how and through what we must do this, or what our armament and weapons should be. And he first calls us to buckle on armor, as people of war who are armed for a fight, and who will put up stiff resistance. But he indicates not the kind of armor which one uses here on earth to protect the body, but instead that which is called “the armor of God.” That is a curious kind of armor. Where would we get it, or where is the armorer who can forge such armor? Well then, he will hereafter name what it is and explain, one after another, the things that belong to this armor of God.
- And indeed an Armor of God.
But here he is still talking generally. This armor must be an armor not of a man, but instead of God Himself. Here on earth one finds no armorer who can forge armor that will work against the devil. Here then there exists no human strength, power, nor wisdom and understanding that will work against this foe. He can turn everything into powder and ashes simply by blowing on you with his breath. Therefore, because you are a different kind of warrior, he wants to say, and because you have another kind of foe against you, so you must also have another kind of armor than the world has or can make.
- For the Matter over Which we Must Fight is of God.
But he also therefore calls it the armor of God, to indicate what the matter is over which we are fighting, namely, that the war belongs to God Himself. And we are His warriors. Since we fight for Him and His cause, we must also use His armor, with which He makes war. As if he should say, “You have a Lord, who is the foe of the devil. His is the crown and the Godhead. Therefore if you want to have Him for your Lord, and you want to hold with Him and become a partaker of His good things, then you must also have His foes against you, and you must go to war and struggle against them.” Everyone who wants to be under a lord must also march under his banner, and have his enemies for enemies. Since now the devil is God’s enemy, and wants to destroy His Kingdom, you should not think that you will be secure from him. Instead arm yourself for war, and indeed even with the armor with which He Himself makes war through His Christendom. So He wants with this to give us courage, because we in the world and through our whole life must stand in struggle and controversy, and suffer that all will bluster and storm against us. He wants us to know that these things do not happen on account of ourselves, but rather by God’s will. And our struggle is not ours, but rather belongs to God Himself. He wants to encourage us that we stand in His service, and much more to comfort us that He will not leave us, but instead will most faithfully stand by us and help. He wants us to be encouraged that we are not working in vain, but rather that He, powerfully working through us, will be victorious.
- Because God wants to take honor from the proud devil through weak people.
For He is man enough for the devil, and could easily fight the devil with a finger, yea, with a Word, and could restrain all his ranting and raging. Still He wants to use us for this purpose, and play a trick on the proud, wrathful spirit, that he puts against him and taunts him by one such poor, weak vessel, which stands against him as a little spark against a strong wind, that he might blow us out with a breath. Still he wants to beat him through such weak vessels, and through us to take honor from such a proud, mighty foe, that He might make known His divine power in our weakness. This [angers?] the devil, that God taunts him with such frail junk, and he attacks us wrathfully and ferociously, and would in a flash smash us like a heap of pottery. Therefore we must be armed against him, and also have an armor wherewith we can defend ourselves. This armor is not ours, but rather alien, namely God’s power and might, so that we might not glory in ourselves, nor give up within ourselves, as we would if we tried to stand with our own might against this foe.
- The Great Cunning of Satan.
THAT YOU CAN STAND AGAINST THE CRAFTY ATTEMPTS OF THE DEVIL.
Here he begins now to paint and show what kind of foe we have, and how he prepares himself to make war and to attack us. He reveals to us his works and arts wherewith he pursues us. He says this, and will say further, so that we will therefore protect ourselves and well arm ourselves with the armor of God. But he calls his conflict and war arts “crafty attempts” to show that the devil is such a foe who is not only mightier than we (as he soon hereafter will say), but rather also very tricky, and wicked. He sets up all his attacks with cunning and trickiness. He does not attack us openly and freely under our eyes, like a foe from whom we can protect ourselves, and see where he would break in. Rather he creeps up on us and looks where he may secretly and treacherously take us captive, where we least expect it. So you need not worry that he will attack you where he sees you armed, where you yourself expect him and have grasped the sword. Rather, look where you are run down and undefended. There he can find a hole, where he creep up to you, that he may suddenly and unforeseen catch and fell you.
Georg Zeämann, Superintendant of Stralsund, Germany (1580-1638)
O Lord Jesus Christ, faithful guardian of mankind, I thank you from my heart that you do not leave us to be surprised by Your coming, but instead You faithfully warn us beforehand. Rouse me, dear Lord, from the slumber of fleshly security, that I may diligently guard myself against sins against conscience and, as a wise servant, stand in constant preparedness, awaiting Your glorious appearing from heaven with highest joy and desire, for it is our only and last hope in this wretched time. Come Lord Jesus. Hurry, Lord. Bring to an end the evil days, so that the poor community [of Your Church] may not give up hope. O heavenly foundation and cornerstone, strike the image on its feet of clay and iron, and crush them, and lead us into the new heaven and the new earth, wherein righteousness dwell. Let your saints take the kingdom and eternally possess it. Let yourself be moved to this by Your divine promise and ardent love toward your bride, won at such great cost, and by the fervent longing of the whole creation, the unceasing sighs of Your pious Christians, and the blood of so many thousands of martyrs which has been shed for Your name’s sake. On account of these things, come, dear Lord Jesus, and hurry with Your judgment. Let Your glorious, majestic voice be heard, that heaven and earth may quake. No day passes but that we wait for You, and we would gladly soon be with You. Amen, Lord Jesus, Amen.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen and bring to completion the work that You have begun in us. Yes, hurry to us with the glorious day of our redemption, which by the grace of God we heartily desire, and for which we sigh and wait in a true faith and with a good conscience. Because of this your judgment we have served the unthankful world. But no improvement is to be hoped for it; instead it is the enemy both of their salvation and ours. Come, dear Lord Jesus! And whoever loves You, let him say, “Come, dear Lord Jesus.” Amen.
And in the might of His strength.
- Paul here uses quite emphatic words.
This is certainly unclearly spoken, and it is neither good German, Latin, nor Greek, but instead quite Hebrew. Still we must retain the words, because he had reason to talk this way. He saw and thought farther than we do in the way we are accustomed to talk. We said it with more words according to our way like this: “Stand firm, and hold on, that you do not become lazy and lax, nor become delinquent in that which you intend to do. And each should do and think that this is the teaching of God’s Word, which it has commanded, and is to God well-pleasing, a true service of God, and so on.” But this is said much more strongly and nobly, that he says, “If you do this, then you are strong in the Lord.” And he adds to this further, “In the might of His strength,” that is, in our German, “in His mighty strength,” or “in His great power.”
- We have need of two powers: a power for defense and a power for victory.
But for this reason he puts the two parts forward, “be strong” and “in the might of His strength”, to indicate that there are two powers which we must have. The first is that we remain firm in that which we should believe and do, and not desist. That is called “being strong” for yourself. The second is that one not only firm and well keep safe what we already have, and protect himself, rather also that one resist, that we not be taken, and our foes be beat back, so that we afterwards stand. Like a captain in a city—he needs not only to keep the city safe and have everything in his keeping, that the city might not be conquered and overcome. Rather also, he needs to be able himself to strike back against the foe, and rout them, and beat them into flight. The first serves to the end that I might not be overcome; the second, that I overcome the foe and become victorious over him. The first is a power of defense, but the second is called a war-power and a power for victory, which not only for himself stands and is strong, but can also sally forth and undercut the foes. The second requires much greater armament than the first.
- Both must come from God.
Therefore he calls it a might of divine strength, or the mighty strength of God. For we have such tremendous, mighty foes against us, namely the spirits in the air (as he will say), which are above us, and we beneath them, and one of them is stronger than all men. And they mean business against us, and set against us with all powers, where they see that we have the faith and want to strengthen ourselves in it. Then they direct all weapons, guns, and arrows against us, in order to overthrow such firmness. Because they do not gladly let us come to the point that we begin to grasp the word and believe, but much less that we remain with it, and that we arm ourselves against them and hide ourselves away, that they should not find us out and destroy us. There are very few such people which bear up until the end under such blows against them, and gallantly win the victory, even if they begin very well. But in the struggle, when the devil presses them hard, and continues without ceasing, they let him make them tired, and do not continue to stand. For it is finally not possible for a man to persist where this mighty strength of God does not come to enable one to withstand these unremitting storms of the foes, and to beat them back.
- How a preacher must be armed with these twofold powers.
You may now show examples of this through all manner of stations. For instance: for a pastor and preacher it is not enough that he be certain of his doctrine, and faithfully carry out his office without regarding what would hinder him—poverty, being despised, unthankfulness, and all manner of opposition. But instead it also belongs to his office that he can face the devil, confute and rebut false doctrine and error, as St. Paul requires both parts in Titus 1, that a bishop should not only be so skilled that he holds to the word, both to teach and exhort, but that he also be mighty through the same saving doctrine to punish those who speak against it, and to stop the mouth of the unnecessary washers (Anabaptists?). Because it never fails that as soon as the Word and doctrine will be purely and clearly handled, the devil will send his messengers and sow his tares. There one must fight that they be put down and the error eradicated. Even though it is not possible that one can so stop the mouths of the devil and his rotten-spirits, so that they quit and keep silence, still it is enough that one so drive them, and turn around their thing, that they cannot preserve its appearance, and thus deny them some souls and get back some from out of the error. Because Christ Himself had his Pharisees and Sadducees whom He could not entirely silence nor convert; still He so turned them around and drove them, that they could not muster anything [against His teaching]. Such people Christianity also must have, who can strike down the adversary and the opposition, take from the devil his weapons and armor, that he be put to shame. But strong warriors are required for that, who have the Scriptures in full might, and can turn around their false interpretation, and know how to take their own sword, that is, the same passages of Scripture which they use, and with them to strike them on the head, so that they bounce back. Not all can be so skilled so as to contend for the doctrine and the articles of the faith. Therefore they must have preachers and teachers, which daily study in the Scriptures, and handle them, that they before all others can debate and fight. Nevertheless every Christian should be so armed, that he is certain for himself of his faith and the doctrine, and that he ground himself with passages out of God’s Word, so that he can persist against the devil, and also fight himself when he wants to guide someone else, and so help preserve and contend for the doctrine.
- But a Christian Should Firmly Abide by His Calling
Therefore, as one must, through the Word make himself firm and certain in the Lord against the attacks of unbelief or the despising of the Word, so also we have here to bring it about, that we strengthen ourselves well with the same Word of the Lord, which is our only strength and armor (as we will hear), that we remain firm in our calling. For we know that God included our station and work in His command, is well-pleased with it, and that we could do nothing better. So each servant or maidservant in the house should look upon their station and work, as that God has called them to it, so that they faithfully serve their masters and say, “I know that my station and work pleases God well, and that there is no more precious work on earth.” The reason? Because God has commanded me no other. Therefore I want to remain in it, and not allow myself to be torn away from it to another, nor to be swayed to impatience and unfaithfulness. Likewise a pious wife, if he is a Christian, and knows and believes God’s Word, and afterward waits upon her station—she does the most precious work on earth. She must not seek something else, nor go into a cloister or become an anchoress, but instead firmly remain with her calling, and say: “My Lord Christ has suffered for me, and through His death has relieved me, and redeemed me from sins, made me righteous and blessed. And He requires nothing more of me than that I should believe this, and calls me afterwards to wait diligently upon my office. Here I want to remain.” See! If each in his station or office strengthened himself and made himself firm upon the Word of God, then everything would go right and well, and we would have a paradise, yes, a kingdom of heaven here on earth, and each could do his work with pleasure and joy, without all trouble and care. On the other hand, wherever this certain and firm understanding is not found, there a person does his work maliciously and with displeasure, and gets blows and misfortune as his wages, making for himself both an ungracious God, and a sour life.
But such strength is quite rare in the world. For how many are they now, who so take up the subject, that they be certain of their faith and life in their hearts, that they can firmly hold to them and despise all other things? Yes, the whole world does not come to this point that they intend to have God’s Word and to live according to it. It is desired nowhere, rather despised in the highest degree. The majority live according to their insolence toward God’s Word and strengthen themselves only in their wickedness and devilish ways…But we talk now of those which would gladly be Christians and who are serious about the Word, which have trouble and labor with it and must defend themselves with all might so that they do not also get into such ways, that they do not regard the word or faithfully wait upon their calling.
As the devil cannot let faith go unattacked, so that he may tear us away from the Word, so also can he not leave our life in peace either, and he has no rest until he makes you falter. He drives such thoughts into the heart that you should find your station tedious, not desire it, and become impatient with it. Whoever now here is not armed so that he can stand fast, nor knows how to defend himself with the Word, the devil soon overcomes, as he did the others, which he totally rules with lack of desire and boredom in their stations. He lets no one find pleasure in his station and work. Even the heathen lament this, because they saw and felt it everywhere, what a noxious plague it is, that no one lets himself be satisfied with his office and station, but instead always gapes after another and holds it to be better. As they say, an ox would gladly be a horse, and again the horse an ox; a farmer or townsman would gladly be a nobleman, the nobleman a prince, the prince emperor, etc. Out of displeasure with one’s calling follows unfaithfulness, that no one his commanded office and work diligently waits upon, but instead despises it and either undertakes another, or cheats his neighbor in it and does him wrong.