Neostadiensium Admonitio Christiana De Libro Concordiae

Neostadiensium Admonitio Christiana De Libro Concordiae

quem vocant, a quibusdam theologis nomine quorundam ordinum Augustanae confessionis edito (Neostad. in Palatinatu, 1581). Under this title the Reformed theologians assembled by Johann Casimir at Neustadt published a work against the Lutheran Formula of Concord. Most of these theologians were driven out of Heidelberg by elector Ludwig, who sided with the Lutheran party, but were well received by the zealous Calvinist John Casimir. He appointed a number of them to the gymnasium at Neustadt, which remained a Reformed seminary as long as Heidelberg continued Lutheran, i.e., from 1576 to 1583. This Admonitio, composed by Ursinus, and therefore also contained in the Ursini Opera (2:486 sq. [Heidelb. 1612]), is the most important of the Lutheran protests against the Formula of Concord, and closely connected with the Historia der Augsburger Confession (published at Neustadt in 1580). It consists of a lengthy introduction on the evils of party feeling, the unavoidableness of doctrinal differences, etc., and of twelve chapters, treating,

1, on the person of Christ and restoration of the true doctrine;

2, same concerning the Eucharist;

3, reply to the false accusations against our Church on account of certain dogmas;

4, on the authority of the Confession of Augsburg;

5, on the true meaning of that confession;

6, of the authority of Luther;

7, of the unjust judgment passed on our doctrine in the Book of Concord;

8, of the false assertions contained in that work;

9, of the contradictions contained in it;

10, of the conduct of the theologians concerning the Formula of Concord, and of the duty of the Christian state in ecclesiastical controversies;

11, of the evils attending the carrying out of the Formula of Concord;

12, exposition of the true and correct manner of establishing unity in the Christian Church. It is a remarkable work. Thus on page 115 we read:

"The importance of the Confession of Augsburg is sometimes greatly exaggerated, as when it is held that ally one who departs even from the letter of it is a heretic. Besides, we do not dissent from its real meaning. The canonical books alone are divine, and form the sole rule of doctrine. All other works on doctrine may indeed possess ecclesiastical authority, but not divine, and can only be received in so far as they agree with the Scriptures. Among them are ecumenical works which no one has a right of his private authority to alter, while there are others peculiar to some churches which are less to be observed, as one can be a member of the Universal Church without endorsing them, and because other churches have the same right of drawing up particular confessions according to their requirements. They do not abolish the decisions of the Universal Church; nor do they decide on what is truth or what error, but only on what does or does not agree with the doctrines of their Church. They therefore cannot be looked upon as symbols, as is attempted to be done concerning the Confession of Augsburg and the Formula of Concord, which would then be obligatory for all Christians. It is neither possible nor advisable to impose on all churches the same formula; it is therefore better to allow every Church liberty to draw up its own confession according to its requirements and to the necessities of controversy, provided they all hold fast to the fundamental truths of Christianity. This is the case with several confessions of the present time, which are all necessary, and the Confession of Augsburg has no privilege over any other, however good it may be in itself. Neither of it nor of any other can it be said that whosoever rejects it is a heretic. It was framed in the early days of the Reformation, when light was only beginning to struggle against papal obscuration, and many points were yet imperfectly defined. It were both wrong and absurd to forbid learned teachers, and even the framers of the confession themselves, from making the doctrines profit by their increased experience, or even establishing them in a clearer and better manner. Besides, this confession is only the work of a few, and flamed under the pressure of circumstances amid a disturbed Diet; consequently under fear of danger, and the necessity of dealing most gently with papal abuses. It is therefore neither as full nor as explicit as many would desire, and requires subsequent improvements." This extract suffices to show that the Admonitio Neost. is yet worthy of a careful perusal. The chapter on the authority of Luther is especially remarkable for its true evangelical character, but it is least read by those whom it may benefit most. The party of the Formula of Concord attacked the Admonitio, and it was defended by the opponents of the formula, particularly by Ursinus himself (Opp. volume 2). See Herzog, Real

Encyklopdaie, 10:263 sq.; Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and its Theology, page 288 sq.

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