Another from lecture 13, continuing to discuss:
In the fourth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is preached to those who are already in terror an account of their sins or the Gospel to those who live securely in their sins.
We cannot, indeed, prescribe to sinners a certain degree of penitence; for an examination of the Holy Scriptures on this point reveals the fact that the degree of penitence, with those persons whose conversion has been recorded, has been quite different. But every person must have experienced something of the bitterness of penitence, or he will never even begin to relish the sweetness of the Gospel. In leading a person to salvation, God may permit him to obtain faith without previously passing through a great deal of anguish and fear; but He always compensates for that later. Those whom God in His mercy has led quickly to faith and joy in their Savior must by that same mercy be merged again and again in genuine sorrow over their sins lest they fall away. Time believers [zeitgläubigen — “Those who believe for a time”] have been described by the Lord as follows: the seed of the divine Word promptly takes root in them, causing faith to spring up in them rapidly. They receive the Word with joy, but are not profited by it. Unless the rocky subsoil in their hearts has been pulverized by the Law, the sweet Gospel is of no benefit to them.
It is indeed a common observation that all those who have passed through great and profound sorrow at the beginning have become the best and most stalwart Christians. Those who in their youth were deeply merged beneath floods of anguish and sorrow on account of their salvation turned out to be the best pastors and theologians.
…A young man who has arrived at “faith” in God’s Word by a sterile conviction of his intellect is a pitiful sight. If he is an acute reasoner, he can easily be led to accept all sorts of errors and become a heretic, because he has never passed through any real anguish of soul. But any one who has experienced the power of the Word and passed through the ordeal of genuine and serious penitence will not easily slip into the hidden spiritual sink-holes, for he has been made wary by experience. When his reason begins to hold forth to him, he clings to the Word and bids his reason be silent. God grant that you have not only been polite listeners to my remarks and resolve to put them to practise in the ministry, but that you also have experienced them in your own hearts.