Confession is not abolished by our ministers. For the custom is retained among us, not to administer the Sacrament unto those who have not been previously examined and absolved. The people, moreover, are diligently instructed with regard to the comfort afforded by the words of absolution, and the high and great estimation in which it is to be held; for it is not the voice or word of the individual present, but it is the word of God, who here forgives sins; for it is spoken in God’s stead, and by his command. Concerning this command and power of the keys, it is taught with the greatest assiduity how comfortable, how useful they are to alarmed consciences, and besides how God requires confidence in this absolution, no less than if the voice of God was heard from heaven; and by this we comfort ourselves, and know that through such faith we obtain the remission of sins. Concerning these useful points, the priests, who taught respecting confession, formerly did not utter a single word, but merely tormented our consciences with long enumerations of sins, with expiations, with indulgences, with pilgrimages, and the like. And many of our adversaries themselves have acknowledged, that we write and treat of true Christian repentance with greater propriety than had been done before for many years.

And thus it is taught respecting confession, that no one should be forced to specify sins; for this would be impossible, as the Psalmist says: “Who can understand his errors?” Psalm 19, 13. And Jeremiah says: “The heart is deceitful above all things: who can know it?” Jer. 17, 9. Poor, frail human nature is plunged so deeply in sin, that it is unable to perceive or to acknowledge every sin; and should those sins alone be pardoned, which we are able to enumerate, it would avail us but little. It is, therefore, unnecessary to urge people to specify their sins. Thus the Fathers also maintained, as may be shown from Distinct. 1, de Pænitentia, in which the words of Chrysostom are quoted: “I say not that thou shouldest betray thyself publicly, or accuse thyself before another one, or present thyself as culpable, but obey the Prophet, who says, ‘Commit thy way unto the Lord,’ Ps. 37, 5. Therefore confess unto God the Lord, the righteous judge, in thy prayer, do not relate thy sins with the tongue, but in thy conscience.” Here it may be seen clearly, that Chrysostom does not insist upon our sins being enumerated by name. The Glossa in Decretis de Pænitentia, Distinct. 5, cap. Consideret, also teaches that confession is not commanded in the Scriptures, but that it was instituted by the church. Yet by our ministers it is taught with diligence, that confession, because of absolution, which is the chief part in it, should be retained for the purpose of consoling alarmed consciences, and for some other reasons.