"In God alone can man ever find peace. God can be known only through Christ, but how lay hold on Christ when his ways are likewise so incredible? The answer is not by sight but by faith which [p224] walks gaily into the darkness. Yet once again, how shall one come by this faith? It is a gift of God. By no act of will can it be induced . . .
"No, but man is not left entirely without recourse. He can expose himself to those channels of self-disclosure which God has ordained. They are all summed up in the Word. It is not to be equated with Scripture nor with the sacraments, yet it operates through them and not apart from them. The Word is not the Bible as a written book because 'the gospel is really not that which is contained in books and composed in letters, but rather an oral preaching and a living word, a voice which resounds throughout the whole world and is publicly proclaimed.' This Word must be heard. This Word must be pondered. 'Not through thought, wisdom, and will does the faith of Christ arise in us, but through an incomprehensible and hidden operation of the Spirit, which is given by faith in Christ only at the hearing of the Word and without any other work of ours.' More, too, than mere reading is required. 'No one is taught through much reading and thinking. There is a much higher school where one learns God's Word. One must go into the wilderness. Then Christ comes and one becomes able to judge the world.'
"Likewise faith is given to those who avail themselves of those outward rites which again God has ordained as organs of revelation, the sacraments.
"'For although he is everywhere and in all creatures and I may find him in stone, fire, water, or rope, since he is assuredly there, yet he does not wish me to seek him apart from the Word, that I should throw myself into fire or water or hang myself with a rope. He is everywhere, but he does not desire that you should seek everywhere but only where the Word is. There if you seek him you will truly find, namely in the Word. These people do not know and see who say that it doesn't make sense that Christ should be in bread and wine. Of course Christ is with me in prison and the martyr's death, else where should I be? He is truly present there with the Word, yet not in the same sense as in the sacrament, because he has attached his body and blood to the Word and in bread and wine is bodily to be received.'
[p225] "These were Luther's religious principles: that religion is paramount, that Christianity is the sole true religion to be apprehended by faith channeled through Scripture, preaching, and sacrament."
(Chapter XIII, No Other Foundation, pp. 223-225, boldface added)
"Luther was, in fact, less impelled to voice a protest against immoral abuses in the Church than were some of his contemporaries. For one reason he was too busy. In October, 1516, he wrote to a friend:
"I could use two secretaries. I do almost nothing during the day but write letters. I am a conventual preacher, reader at meals, parochial preacher, director of studies, overseer of eleven monasteries, superintendent of the fish pond at Litzkau, referee of the squabble at Torgau, lecturer on Paul, collector of material for a commentary on the Psalms, and then, as I said, I am overwhelmed with letters. I rarely have full time for the canonical hours and for saying mass, not to mention my own temptations with the world, the flesh, and the Devil. You see how lazy I am. "
(Chapter IV, The Onslaught, pp. 68-69)