A Treatise on Good Works HTML version

The Treatise, Part II
One might shudder to be alive, simply because of the misuse and blasphemy of
the holy Name of God; through which, if it shall last much longer, we will, as I
fear, openly worship the devil as a god; so completely do the spiritual authorities
and the learned lack all understanding in these things. It is high time that we pray
God earnestly that He hallow His Name. But it will cost blood, and they who
enjoy the inheritance of the holy martyrs and are won with their blood, must again
make martyrs. Of this more another time.
I. We have now seen how many good works there are in the Second
Commandment, which however are not good in themselves, unless they are
done in faith and in the assurance of divine favor; and how much we must do, if
we take heed to this Commandment alone, and how we, alas! busy ourselves
much with other works, which have no agreement at all with it. Now follows the
Third Commandment: "Thou shalt hallow the day of rest." In the First
Commandment is prescribed our heart's attitude toward God in thoughts, in the
Second, that of our mouth in words, in this Third is prescribed our attitude toward
God in works; and it is the first and right table of Moses, on which these three
Commandments are written, and they govern man on the right side, namely, in
the things which concern God, and in which God has to do with man and man
with God, without the mediation of any creature.
The first works of this Commandment are plain and outward, which we commonly
call worship, such as going to mass, praying, and hearing a sermon on holy
days. So understood there are very few works in this Commandment; and these,
if they are not done in assurance of and with faith in God's favor, are nothing, as
was said above. Hence it would also be a good thing if there were fewer saint's
days, since in our times the works done on them are for the greater part worse
than those of the work days, what with loafing, gluttony, and drunkenness,
gambling and other evil deeds; and then, the mass and the sermon are listened
to without edification, the prayer is spoken without faith. It almost happens that
men think it is sufficient that we look on at the mass with our eyes, hear the
preaching with our ears, and say the prayers with our mouths. It is all so formal
and superficial! We do not think that we might receive something out of the mass
into our hearts, learn and remember something out of the preaching, seek, desire
and expect something in our prayer. Although in this matter the bishops and
priests, or they to whom the work of preaching is entrusted, are most at fault,
because they do not preach the Gospel, and do not teach the people how they
ought to look on at mass, hear preaching and pray. Therefore, we will briefly
explain these three works.
II. In the mass it is necessary that we attend with our a hearts also; and we do
attend, when we exercise faith in our hearts. Here we must repeat the words of
Christ, when He institutes the mass and says, "Take and eat, this is My Body,