|Chapter 73||The Earth|
1. This does not only apply to the papacy, but to all so-called sects or denominations, because where Christ is not preached in His true Spirit and in His truth, there is false prophethood in the place of a true church.
2. If one or the other sect also says: See, I have no images, therefore my confession must be the purest, then I say: Image or not image decides nothing, but only the life according to the Word. For to purify a doctrine in itself of all ceremonial things, no matter how much, in order to make it more suitable for the reception of 'pure reason', means, in other words, nothing else than to continually reason about a given doctrine, but never to live according to it, just as if someone bought a house, and would like to constantly clean and polish it inside and out to make it more and more suitable for a dwelling, but for all the cleaning and polishing, and for all the constantly better making it habitable, no inhabitant ever gets in. Is not the next chaste [Austrian mountain cabin - tr], which is continually inhabited, better than such a house?
3. It is the same with the church; it is still better if it has some kind of standard in which it's believers find some kind of stability, than if it is like such a church in which nothing but sweeping and chewing is going on all the time. Their confessors stand by and watch, like idle people at a house-building, who also criticize and make comments; but at the same time it does not occur to anyone to hand only a brick and a bushel of mortar to a working mason for the benefit of the master of the house, and there the idlers consider themselves much better than the workers.
4. Behold, this is a true picture of the many denominations; they do nothing out of sheer preparation and criticism, and are continually attack those who are not of their denomination, and make fun of their blindness, and continually crying out: Come here, that we may take the mote out of your eyes, but they are not at all aware of the beam in their own eye.
5. It is true that there are a thousand enormous abuses in the Roman Catholic Church, but there are also many good things in it, because love and humility are preached, and if someone follows nothing but that, he will not be lost.
6. But what shall I say of a sect that teaches nothing but faith and rejects works? There, as you say, baptism and chrismation are corrupted; for it is written loudly and openly that faith without works is dead, and I Myself have clearly said many times: Do not be vain hearers, but doers of My word! This obviously shows that faith alone is of no use, but works.
7. What good is the light of the sun to the earth if it is not connected with the powerful heat?
8. What is the use of all knowledge and science to a man if he does not apply it?
9. Or what is the use of merely believing in the cold winter that a burning wood in the stove can warm the room? Will the room be warmed by faith? I do not believe it.
10. In short, the strongest faith without works is like a thirsty person who merely wants to cover himself with a warm thought in a cold room in order to warm himself. Of course, this is the cheapest blanket; but whether this blanket will warm anyone, may be judged by those poor people who in severe winters have not infrequently been found frozen stiff in their rooms, and mostly for the reason that they had no other blanket than a barest blanket of thoughts.
11. Just as this covering of thoughts is of no use without a real covering, so faith is of no use without works. Faith is only the receiving organ of a teaching that leads to a certain activity; whoever merely receives these instructions in his faith but does not act on them, ask: What then does this instruction serve him for? I say: To nothing else than to a foolish critic, just as all the rules of musical art are of no use to one, and he is not able to perform even the easiest and simplest; but such a mere rule-holder is then foolish, and criticizes every artist as if he could really perform the most excellent himself. But I say: A beggar musician is still worth more than such a critic, who himself can do nothing, but wants to judge everything.
12. So I prefer such a church, where something happens, than one where nothing happens; because it is better to give someone a piece of bread, than to make a thousand plans for the care of the poor, and still give nothing to the poor, when he comes to such a planner. Planning is all right, but giving must also be there, otherwise faith is again without works, where poor mankind starves by the hundreds.
13. But whoever wants to live rightly can do so in every church; for one main rule is: Test everything, and keep what is good.
14. If you have bathed a child, throw away only the water of the bath; but keep the child, and the child is love!
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