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UPON THE PASSION, BURIAL, RESURRECTION, ASCENSION, AND OF THE SENDING OF THE HOLY GHOST.
BY MILES COVERDALL. JOHN 14:6.
I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man commeth unto the Father but by me.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
The Author to the Reader CHAPTER -The Passion of Jesus Christ out of the holy Evangelists CHAPTER -The Burial of Jesus Christ out of the holy Evangelists CHAPTER -The Resurrection of Jesus Christ out of the holy Evangelists CHAPTER -The Ascension of Jesus Christ out of the holy Evangelists CHAPTER -The sending of the Holy Ghost [The idea and plan of this Treatise are borrowed from one by Huldric Zuingle, entitled, “Brevis commemoratio mortis Christi ex quatuor Evangelistis per H. Zuinglium in unam seriem concinnata; sequitur historia resurrectionis et ascensionis Christi :” but the learned writer has so far improved upon his model, that it is justly entitled to the character of an original work.
There is no table of contents in the original work, nor are the different passages of the Evangelists mentioned, from which the extracts are taken. It has been thought right, for the sake of dearness and the convenience of the reader, to supply both these omissions in the present edition. In all other respects it is exactly conformable to the original copy.
An edition of this work is said by Tanner to have been published at Marpurg, 1540-47, in 8vo. The present edition is taken from a copy of the original in the Rectorial Library at Milden in Suffolk, printed by Thomas Scarlet in 1593; the use of that copy having been kindly permitted for the purpose by the authorities to whom the present charge of the Library belongs.] THE AUTHOR TO THE READER.
Since our human imperfections are such, as one sin driveth out another, and the frailty of our natures is so great, as having touched the brim of the ocean thereof, we never cease till we are overwhelmed and drowned in the bottom of the same; since of ourselves we are but grafts of a corruptious tree, children of eternal darkness, infidels who bow the knee to Baal, having uncircumcised hearts and lying lips, whose minds are fixed on the world and fastened on mammon; I thought good, christian reader, considering the self-love in us, which have converted the angels into devils, which, as Augustine witnesseth, hath builded the very Babylon of contempt of God, — to level out a way for all men to tread, a glass for all men to see, an adamant, wherewith all souls may be drawn to the beholding of their vices, the loathing of the same, and finally the amendment and hearty conversion for their misdeeds. And for that it most evidently appeareth, that the justest man falleth oftentimes a-day, and they that discern errors in themselves; and seeing then that they are in the next step to amendment, it behoveth us to consider the weakness which is in us, how far we are fallen and do fall from the protection of the just; so that in the end we may in the spring of repentance wash away original and successive sins, which have defiled our souls, and cleaving to the true corner-stone, whereon our faith should be builded, withstand the perils of perdition, which our ghostly enemy hath raised against us.
And for that truth is never known but by his contrary, and our nakedness is not disclosed, unless our eyes be opened; let us examine ourselves, and we shall find that these are inseparable errors in us, from which the justest are not exempted, namely, blindness and corruptness of judgment, pride in spirit, mistrust in God, to be slack and weary in God’s service, defacing of God’s truth, not to have God before the eyes, surmising, vanity of heart, curiosity and niceness, grudging in our hearts against the enemy, bitterness, desire of vengeance, a man’s good intent, greediness to be seen and praised, vain-glory, ambition, proper election, maintaining of our own evil, a disdainful, false, unfaithful, wicked eye, and such like pharisaical points and feats, wherewith the devil tempteth the good men that keep themselves from the gross vices. These and other innumerable vices shall every one, how good soever he be, find in himself, if he search himself uprightly and throughly to the bottom.
Seeing then, that we find ourselves so vicious, altogether sick, poisoned, and wounded unto death, we ought day and night without ceasing to complain and lament before God, to watch and pray unto God for remission of our sins; yet should we not despair of life. The true Physician of our souls came down from heaven, and through his passion hath he made us a plaister for our wounds; only let us use it and lay it to the sore.
The faithful Samaritan poureth oil and wine into our wounds, taketh us up to cure and to heal us; only let us follow him, and fashion ourselves after his image. He is the brasen serpent without sin, whom with the eyes of faith we must behold hanging and lift up upon the cross for us: he taking our sins upon himself, giveth us his own innocency.
If the burden of sin now oppresseth and grieveth us, we ought to run unto him: he shall ease us and give us rest for his blood washeth away our sins.
Him hath the Father given unto us to be our righteousness and redemption.
Besides this great treasure that God hath given us in Christ, he is set forth unto us, especially in his passion, for a pattern or example, whereby we may learn to die from sin, and find a preservative against vices to come.
For self-love and high esteeming of a man’s own self is the wellspring of all vice. Consider that Christ was not proud himself of his own highness, but took upon him the shape of a servant, and came to serve us, humbled him most lowly, loved not himself, sought not his own, desired not his honor, but the honor of his Father; all despite and reproach fell upon him.
If we ponder this by faith, all greedy love of ourselves shall fall away.
The obedience of Jesu in true belief considered expelleth and healeth our disobedience, and the idolatry of our own carnal heart. With his obedience covereth he the disobedience of all men, so far as we abide in the obedience of faith, that Christ be dearer unto us than the whole world; for the which cause we freely give over ourselves into his obedience, suffering all things for his sake. Pride and vain-glory is healed through Christ’s humility and contempt, which he suffered for us manifold. “Learn of me,” saith he; “for I am meek and lowly of heart.” Why are we so greedy of temporal things, when Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth, became for us so poor, hanging bare and naked upon the cross? The chaste pure life of Jesus Christ expelleth in us all uncleanness of the flesh. Also his martyrdom, anguish, and trouble, which in his flesh he suffered for us, quencheth the lust and concupiscence of the flesh.
Oh, how evil doth it become a believer to be ireful and greedy of vengeance, when his forerunner, being in most humility like unto a sheep, prayed for his enemies!
Envy and hatred is highly expelled, if we consider the excellent deep love of Jesu towards us. Gluttony and excess of life shall fall away from us, if we well remember that Christ for us drank vinegar mixed with gall.
As it is here showed in certain points, even so against all vices and blemishes of the soul there may remedy be found in the passion of Christ, if it be rightly used in the contemplation of faith. The old Adam ought we to lay aside, to mortify the members upon earth, and to put on Christ the Lord, as the new wedding-garment. In the cross ought to be our exercise, our joy, comfort, and life.
Hereunto also helpeth us our heavenly Father, who unto us his children, whom he most entirely loveth, suffereth manifold passions, afflictions, troubles, and anguishes, sickness, poverty, and persecution to come, to keep us upon the cross, lest we as negligent people gape for temporal earthy things. And if we will needs follow our own lusts, he hedgeth our way with thorns, nurturing and humbling us through trouble; that we, being tried and purified as the gold in the fire, may cry and call unto him, and that we may give our earthly things, seeing we find no quietness in them. He bringeth us into the land of promise, howbeit through the wilderness, through much travail and labor. Blessed are they that in patience, without murmuring, suffer the Lord to work, and do faithfully follow him.
All this, and more than I can say, ought to be the consideration and exercise, when we celebrate the supper of the Lord Jesu, that we so sprinkle the blood of Christ in our hearts, and drink it into us, that it may work in us, and bring forth fruit. Our eyes and hearts we ought to lift up into heaven, and consider what the bread and wine pointeth us unto, namely, unto the body of Christ, that was offered up upon the cross for our sins, and to his blood, that was shed for the washing away of our offenses; and that we fashion ourselves unto his image, and practice also such love one towards another. This is the proof that Paul speaketh of, with the which a faithful believer ought to exercise himself before and in the Lord’s supper, examining well his faith and love, which out of the love of God towards us is kindled and increased. First, ought a man to consider the excellent love of our Lord Jesus Christ, who so loved us, that he died for us. And seeing that he biddeth us to so high a feast of his grace, we ought also to ponder the same in such sort, that we be thankful unto him, and prepare ourselves thereafter.
St Paul saith, that there is a feeding with milk, and a feeding with strong meat, which is to be observed according to the nature and property of those that receive the meat. And in the church of God there be three sorts of men, as the same by the high illuminated good wise teacher Augustine and by others is written. f69 First, there be men, which having spent their former time past in pastime and wantonness of the world, and considering the careful end thereof, as they be inwardly moved by the grace of God, have undertaken to cease and refrain from sin, and from all occasions of sin; and in most diligent wise, as near as they can, with the assistance, grace, and help of God, to be circumspect and wary thereof; albeit they are yet weak, and have not so strong a spirit, as to lay aside and despise all worldly things out of hand.
And these are the right true beginners of repentant and penitent persons: though they be not new beginners, yet are they unto God the Lord so dear, that all things cannot sufficiently commend and praise it.
This is witnessed unto us by the holy gospel of the unthrifty son; who, when with shameful riot he had wantonly consumed his inheritance, did in time of his extreme hunger convert and turn again to his loving father, and received not only gracious forgiveness of his trespass, but also special tokens of his father’s love; as the garment, the kiss, the fat calf, the sweet minstrelsy and melody. This is the first anchor of true repentance. This is the first state concerning the blessed swine-herd, who forsaking the hogs with the cods, draft, or swillings, that he sometimes greedily filled his belly withal, and returning to his loving father, is now in his first coming again to his merciful father graciously taken up, received, and rewarded.
Whoso now with this unthrifty son forsaketh his sins, and coming again in true and hearty repentance unto God, his most loving and gracious Father, saith meekly, “O Father, I am not worthy to be called thy son, for I have sinned against heaven and before thee; O make me one of thy hired servants;” to him shall the Father deny nothing. Whoso now with an unfeigned heart and mouth may speak this unto God, and truly and unfeignedly seeketh Jesus, assuredly he findeth him and hath with him a cheerful supper. Look unto whom God in his great mercy giveth such a taste of his grace, let him render thanks and praise unto Almighty God: let him now look for it, that the Father who hath received him, will also nurture him in his own school, and through manifold adversities furnish him, prepare him, and make him more perfect. He hath been fed with the milk; he must learn also to know what hard meat meaneth. Through adversity and troublesome chances he must be tempted and proved, whether he have ought in him of the blessed seed that groweth upwards unto eternal life: which thing shall well appear and be made manifest, if in time of temptation and troubles he be not choked with the thorns, nor trodden down by the high-way-side, nor withered among the stones, but found fruitful in a good and fertile ground.
Other men there be, which are called reformers, to whom belongeth somewhat more than there doth unto the other. For like as it appertaineth to the first repentant or penitent persons, that they continually and fervently, with the confession of their sins unto God, with sorrow and lamentation, with prayer, watching, and chastising of the body, do break out away from their old sins, harnessing and arming themselves against others for to come, and earnestly withstanding and forsaking their own evil and naughty customs, if they mind to bring forth fruit, and not to fall away again; even so the reformers in the second order and manner, after the hard rooting out of vice and wickedness, must still exercise themselves in the will of God and in good works, seeking diligently experience thereof in holy scripture, and of those teachers, who by reason of long practice, and by the scriptures, can declare and teach the same way. When these men in such a steadfast purpose to walk and practice themselves in the will of God with his grace and power, do go unto the supper of the Lord, they inwardly with joy and fruit of the godly feast are nourished and refreshed. For whoso desireth to cleave unto virtue and to a godly life, shall nowhere find the same so evidently and plain, as in Christ’s passion, whereof he is mindful at the supper with faith and thanksgiving.
The third sort of men are called perfect : not that any man here in time may be perfect, as to lack nothing, or to have no sin in him; but therefore are they named perfect, because their exercise is such, that after long accustomate doing of virtuous deeds, after many spiritual fruits brought forth by them in patience, after many temptations, which they with the help of God have overcome, they have so wholly humbled and cast down themselves before God, being reconciled with him, that they are become one spirit with Christ their head, whom they cleave unto, whose cross and holy passion they follow without fainting, so far as their wit and power may suffer; being dead from the world and the flesh, following only the Lord Jesu Christ, suffering with him, and living with him. These with their minds and hearts step somewhat higher than the others, having their dwelling in heaven, in the sweet contemplation and beholding of God’s almightiness, wisdom, and goodness, with fervent devotion. Which men also, by enjoying of the said feast according to their belief and fervent love, receive the more excellent rites, whereby they may expel the temptations that they like not. For the devil keepeth no holy day; he sleepeth not, runneth about as a roaring lion, he ceaseth not; and therefore these men continually get them to their weapons, with the consideration of the passion of Christ. Abraham, the good friend of God, must still drive away the ravenous birds from the sacrifice, till the sun go down, and till a man cheerfully say: “In peace will I lay me down and take my rest,” etc.
This probation must be well taken heed unto; for many men not justly considering themselves, neither right discerning this meat from others, receive the food of life unto death. Not that this holy bread was instituted and ordained of Christ, to hurt any man; but because the evil man doth wickedly receive that which is wholesome, and abuseth it through unbelief, therefore justly doth Paul exhort, that there be first had a diligent examination of a man’s self, and that then he eat of this bread, and drink of this cup. Thus let every man take good heed to his own state and vocation, that this banquet may set him forward, not unto his hurt, but to eternal life.
Whoso taketh not heed unto this difference, and to himself, as, alas! carnal people do, which are not spiritually instructed; the same faileth oft in many things, and under-taketh to fly high, yea, higher than his knowledge and power may attain. Hereof then it also proceedeth, as we see before our eyes, that so few folks come to steadfast amendment, namely, even hereof, that when men are not exercised in discerning of God’s matters from others, a mad heady notion of sensuality provoketh them inordinately to sit highest at the table, whereas yet they are not worthy of the lowest place; and so will they forthwith possess the seat royal, afore they have found the asses, or kept the sheep, as of David and Saul in figure it is read. But thus ought it not to be: for though the grace of the Holy Ghost use not long fetches about, yet cometh no man suddenly to the happiest step. I speak after the common course, as it beseemeth us to talk and do in the church of God, namely, after the ordinance which he hath appointed us.
Behold St Paul, being so perfect in the law, that the world could not accuse him; being also chaste, earnest, fervent, and well exercised in all virtues; whom God, that had separated him from his mother’s womb, would call to his service. Though he was taken up into the third heaven, and saw secrets that no man can express, yet doth he not trust so much thereto, as by reason of that great grace to magnify himself, and to take upon him the office of preaching, before he being taught at Gamaliel’s feet, and baptized and instructed of Ananias, had perceived in himself and proved that same, which he afterwards out of the perfectness of the Spirit might distribute abroad unto all Christendom. This is peradventure laughed to scorn of the unexpert, proud, worldly-wise: but whoso hath ears circumcised with the fear of God, will think more upon the matter.
He that will sit now at the table of the high King, let him diligently consider what he receiveth in his soul through faith, namely, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, which feedeth and nourisheth him to eternal life, and draweth him to God, altereth him, and maketh him steadfast, which the outward bread taken with the mouth doth point and lead unto: yea, let us ponder, how great love, and what an example Christ there setteth before him, that he also must prepare the like; that is, that he to his power must follow the love, life, and passion of Christ, to the intent that he, being wounded with Christ’s love, and fastened with him upon the cross, may abide in him unto the end.
For in the passion of Christ is the instruction of the way which we ought and must follow unto eternal life. There also is information, where and how the same way and the everlasting truth is showed and found. Thus the penitent findeth the way, the reformer the undoubted unwandering truth, the perfect the very life eternal, which is Christ Jesus, and there is eternal peace. God grant that all they which read this little book, and consider this matter, may so burn in love and fervent devotion, that they continue and live in Christ, and he in them for ever! Amen.
CHAPTER - THE PASSION OF CHRIST OUT OF THE HOLY EVANGELISTS. \iMatthew 26:1-9 <402601>, Mark 14:1-25 <411401>, Luke 22:1-19 <422201>, John 13:1 <431301> The feast of sweet bread, which is also called Easter, drew nigh, namely, after two days. Then said Jesus to his disciples: Know ye, that after two days shall be Easter, and the Son of man shall be betrayed and crucified.
At the same time were the chief priests and council gathered together in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiphas; and there they counseled, how they might craftily apprehend, take, and kill him. Howbeit they feared the people. Therefore said they together: Not on the holy day, lest there be an uproar among the people. But Satan was entered into Judas called Iscariot, one of the twelve, who went out to the high priests and rulers, intending to deliver him unto them: therefore how he would deliver Jesus unto them, he told them, and said: What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? When they heard that, they were glad, and agreed with him, promising him thirty pence. Then promised he them, and sought from thenceforth opportunity, how he might deliver Jesus unto them handsomely and without any uproar.
But afore the feast which is called PASSAH, Jesus, knowing that his hour was come, and that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, while he loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
Then sent he two of his disciples, namely, Peter and John, saying: Go and prepare for us, that we may eat passah. They said: Where? Then said he:
Go into the city to one: behold, when ye enter in, one shall meet you bearing a pitcher with water; follow him into the house that he entereth into, and say unto the householder, The Master saith unto thee, My time is now here, that I will eat passah with thee. Where is now the place where the multitude shall be kept? Where is the parlor, that I shall eat passah in with my disciples? Then shall he show you a great parlor that is paved; there make ye ready.
So the disciples went, and found as the Lord had told them; and they made ready the passah At even came Jesus with the twelve, and when it was time, he sat him down at the table, and the twelve with him.
Now when he sat at the table with his disciples, and they did eat, he said: I have greatly longed and heartily desired to eat this passah with you afore I suffer. For I say unto you, that now from henceforth I will not eat of it, fill it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
Now as they did eat, Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, and brake it, gave it to his disciples, and said: Take, eat, this is my body, which shall be betrayed and delivered for you; do this in remembrance of me. Likewise also when they had eaten, he took the cup, rendered thanks, and gave unto them, saying: Take and divide among you, and drink ye all thereof. This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for you, and for many, to the forgiveness of sins. I say unto you, that from henceforth I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the day that I shall drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father. And they all drank thereof.
NOW FOLLOWETH THE DOCTRINE AND MEDITATION.
Here should we children of belief diligently ponder and consider, what Christ hath done for our sakes; namely, that he, when he had fulfilled his ministration committed to him of the Father, and now would offer up himself upon the cross for the sins of the world, and with his own death deliver man kind from the captivity of Satan, and from eternal death, declared, how he loved his own until the end, and with what: desire he longed to cat the Easter lamb with his disciples, before he suffered. Corinthians 5 <460501> , Isaiah 53 <235301> , John 1 <430101> giving them thereby to understand, that he was the true paschal Lamb, which, being slain for us, should take away the sins of the world, that the figures of the old testament might be reduced into the truth; that like as the Jews, to whom with a prescribed ordinance it was commanded yearly to eat the: Easter lamb, did the same for a memorial of their deliverance out of Egypt; so we believers also might in the new testament have a remembrance and exercise of the gracious redemption, whereas we by his death are delivered from the power of darkness, of the devil, and of sin, and brought to eternal life.
And to the intent now that the remembrance of such excellent benefits, grace, and merits of the passion of Christ, might ever be fresh and new with his disciples and all believers, our Lord Jesus Christ, when he now would go unto death, and pay the ransom for the sins of all the world, he then did eat the Easter lamb with his disciples, to finish the shadow of the old testament; and that he might be remembered thereby, he instituted the bread and wine for a sacrament and memorial of his holy body and blood.
Seeing then that we are cleansed, delivered, and redeemed with so dear and worthy a treasure, namely, with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the undefiled Lamb; we ought never to forget such an high benefit, but at all times with thankfulness to remember, that Christ our paschal Lamb was slain and offered up for us upon the cross, that we from henceforth should walk in pureness, singleness, and innocency of life; and that, when we in the supper by true faith do cat his body, and drink his blood, we might through him be so strengthened and fed to eternal life, as to abide and live in him for ever. For he is the bread of life that came down from heaven, to nourish and strengthen our weak and hungry souls, yea, to make us dead to live again.
But then eat we his flesh, and then drink we his blood, when we through true belief do ponder and consider, what he hath done and suffered for our sakes; then are we partakers of his supper and feast, when we for his sake do live, as he did for his Father’s sake. He gave himself whole unto us: so ought we to give ourselves whole unto him, and to our neighbor; to him through belief, to our neighbor through charitable love. Through faith we abide in him; by working love he abideth in us. The more we love, the more enjoy we of this meat; the more we believe, the more we love. In this shall all men know that we are his disciples, if we love one another.
THE SECOND PART. John 13:2-17. When supper was ended, after that the devil had put in the heart of Judas Iscarioth, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God, he rose from supper, and laid aside his upper garments, and took a towel and girt himself. After that poured he water into a bason, and began to wash his disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girt. Then came he to Simon Peter: and Peter said unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said. unto him, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter said unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter said unto him: Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus said unto him: He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whir; and ye are clean, but not all: for he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and received his clothes, and was set down, he said unto them again: Wet you what I have done you? Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well, for so I am. If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet: for I have given you an ensample, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his master, neither the messenger greater than he that sent him. If ye understand these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
Here ought we diligently to consider the unspeakable and fervent love of our Lord Jesus Christ, who until the end leaveth nothing undone that may serve for our welfare. Likewise also should we ponder and regard the meek lowliness of him, in that he the King of heaven doth humble himself, even to wash his disciples’ feet, which thing is accounted base and vile amongst men; yea, even unto the man that betrayed him, is not he ashamed, neither refuseth to show such lowliness and work of love.
By this we learn to declare all works of charitable love unto our neighbor, and not to be ashamed, how high soever we be, meekly to do our neighbor service, though he be poor, base, and small in reputation, yea, albeit he hath already hurt and betrayed us. We ought to learn with Christ our head to do good, not only to our brethren and friends, but also to our adversaries, enemies, evil willers, and such as love us not; even unto them should we show friendship, serving them, being gentle, mild, and loving unto them. We must pray unto the Lord, that he will grant us grace to fulfill and do that we hear and read of him.
Furthermore, considering that we daily perceive in ourselves spots and blemishes of sin, so that our feet, that is to say, our affections and desires, while we walk in the miry way, are still continually defiled and stained; we ought therefore incessantly to watch and to call unto God, that he with the water of his grace will vouchsafe to make clean our feet, and wash away the mire of earthy and carnal spots, that we in the pureness of faith may abide in Christ our head, and he in us.
OF THE SERMON THAT CHRIST MADE UNTO HIS DISCIPLES AFTER THE SUPPER. Matthew 26:31-35 , Mark 14:18-21 , Luke 22:31-34 , John 13:18-38 Then said Jesus unto his disciples: This night shall you all be offended because of me. For it is written: I shall smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered. But when I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him: And though they all be offended because of thee, yet will I not be so. Then said Jesus to him: Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me three times. Upon this spoke Peter further: Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee: and so said all the disciples likewise. But Jesus said: I speak not of you all, I know whom I have chosen. He that eateth bread with me, shall lift up his heel against me. This I tell you aforehand, ere it come to pass; that when it is done, ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth him whom I send, receiveth me; and whose receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me.
When Jesus had spoken this, he was troubled in spirit, and protested, and said: Verily, verily, I say unto you, one of you shall betray me, yea, even he that eateth with me. The disciples looked one upon another, and doubting of whom he spoke, they were very sorry and dismayed, and began to say one after another: Lord, is it I? Then said Jesus: One of the twelve, even he that dippeth his hand with me in the platter, he shall betray me. The Son of man goeth, as it is written of him: but woe unto him, by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Better it were for him, that he never had been born. Then said Judas that betrayed trim: Lord, is it I? Then spoke Jesus: Thou hast said.
One whom Jesus loved among the disciples lay upon Jesus’ lap. To him beckoned Peter, and said: Who is he, that he speaketh of? Now when he leaned on Jesus’ breast, he said unto him: Lord, who is it? Jesus answered: lie it is, unto whom I shall reach the sop. And when he had dipped in the bread, he gave it unto Judas Simon Iscarioth; and after the sop entered the devil into him. And Jesus said unto him: That thou doest, do it quickly.
None of those that sat at the table, perceived why he spoke this: some thought, seeing Judas had the purse, that Jesus had commanded him to buy something necessary at the feast, or to give something unto the poor.
Now when he had taken it, he went out immediately, and it was night.
Now when he was gone forth, Jesus said: Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified by him, then shall God glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. Little children, I am yet a small time with you. Ye shall seek me, and as I said unto the Jews, whither I go, ye cannot come. And now I say unto you: A new commandment I give you, to love one another; as I have loved you, that ye even so love one another. Herein shall all men know and perceive, that ye are my disciples, if ye have love among yourselves. Then said Simon Peter: Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, and said:
Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me hereafter. Then said Peter unto him: Why may not I now follow thee? I will jeopard my life for thee. Jesus answered, Wilt thou jeopard thy life for me? Verily, verily,! say unto thee: afore the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
Good virtuous children should hearken most diligently unto the words of their father, and fasten them in their hearts; but specially those words which he speaketh and committeth unto them, now when he mindeth by death to depart from them, and to take his leave of them. For the same words, being the last, pierce very deep into the heart, and are never forgotten. Seeing then that we are God’s children, and Christ here nameth us so to be with his disciples; we ought very diligently to ponder and consider all his words and doctrine, but specially such as he uttered unto them when he now would go to his passion. For there shall we find an ardent, earnest, and fervent doctrine, full of most excellent, godly, and inestimable love, proponed, and thrust into their hearts, with words sweeter than honey. In this oration bringeth he forth specially that same, which most of all concerneth his disciples. First, the Eternal Wisdom declareth, that he is ignorant of nothing, that unto him there is nothing’ hid. He knoweth what shall happen unto them through weakness of the flesh and fear of men: albeit our feebleness and imbecility doth always break forth, presume, and brag more than we are ever able to perform, as we have example in Peter. Such heady rashness the Lord rebuketh, admonishing us of our own weakness and fall.
Moreover, we ought to consider in Christ our head and forerunner, how earnestly and lovingly he mentioneth and warneth the traitor, setting his great offense before his eyes, and always touching him, to remove him from his wicked purpose. Yet maketh he mention of him, and of the vice, in such sort, that he never desireth his hurt, but only his conversion and amendment. His desire is, that he were reformed, not that he should be bewrayed, or that any harm should happen unto him by him or others.
Such lenity and gentleness ought we also to show and declare unto our enemies, and those that hurt us; if it only concern us, we should not be desirous of vengeance. And though we all ought sore to mourn in the church, that is to say, in the christian congregation, if there be transgressors and naughty people, applying our diligence the best we can, that such be not therein; yet where as their vices be secret, and as yet not opened, we ought in love and patience to bear and suffer them until the harvest, when the Lord shall purge and cleanse his floor. Besides this, we ought not to cease with warning and advertisement, with correction and doctrine, that they may leave off from their obstinate wickedness.
And when the congregation of God through his grace is quit of such evil people, and discharged of such wicked blemishes, God must be thanked, and diligence applied, that no wicked thing breed therein again.
But above all things must we regard that principal and I new commandment, which Christ giveth us; namely, upon the love, that he after a new sort hath declared and performed; by the which love he reneweth those that are his, and plentifully endueth them through the Holy Ghost, whom he giveth in their hearts. Love comprehendeth and fulfilleth all laws: therefore Christ leaveth all other commandments, and admonisheth us only of love.
Love hath he himself showed us aforehand; of him must we learn to love.
Love is the assured and unfailing evidence of the children of God. Whose hath not it, though he had all other virtues, yet hath he nothing, neither is it profitable to him that he hath. If he have love, then hath he all things that are necessary for his health and salvation. Therefore ought we to regard nothing so much as love. There is nothing more acceptable, nothing more perfect, nothing better in heaven and earth, than love: for it is of God, and may rest nowhere else but in God. Only love maketh us godly, and shapeth us likest unto God; namely, that love which springeth and groweth out of a pure heart, out of a good conscience, and of an unfeigned faith. Nevertheless we must love one another, not with words only and with tongues, but with the deed, and in the truth, even with our whole hearts, as Christ loved us. John 14:1-14. <431401> Jesus said unto his disciples: Let not your hearts be troubled. If ye believe in God, believe in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you even unto myself, that where I am, ye may be also: and whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Then said Thomas: Lord, we wet not whither thou goest; and how is it possible for us to know the way? Then said Jesus: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye had known my Father also. And now ye know him, and have seen him. Philip said unto him; Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus said unto him: Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
Believest thou not, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, is he that doth the works. Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me. At least believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do, the same shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified by the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
When the disciples of Christ heard of his death and departing, what trouble should fall upon them, and what should happen unto them through the weakness of the flesh, they were very heavy and dismayed; for they had great a love unto the Lord, and loath were they to depart from him, and yet might they not follow him at this time. Therefore lovingly doth the Lord comfort and strengthen them, saying: Be not afraid, let not your heart be troubled. This comfort is spoken unto us all; for while we live here, we must look for much trouble and adversity, whereof springeth many times heaviness, fear, and unpatiency in our flesh. Therefore Christ, who corporally is absent from us, but present among us with his grace, speaketh unto us inwardly by his Spirit in our hearts, or outwardly by his word and exhortation, comfortably strengthening and mightily comforting our feebleness; giving us gladness also in sorrow.
To be without adversity, if it please God otherwise, is not good for us; to be rash and heady is hurtful. Therefore bringeth he us in between fear and hope, that we should turn neither to the right hand nor to the left. Much adversity suffereth he to come unto us, so that oft-times fearfulness and sorrow falleth on us: but this keepeth us in his awe, cutteth our comb, bringeth down our pride, and humbleth us. Out of this we learn, that if any human infirmity and feebleness fall upon us, as it did upon the disciples in the Lord’s passion, we shall not utterly despair, nor fall away through fearfulness; but remember, that in this time it happeneth so of course, that we must suffer and bear much trouble and adversity, to the intent that the glory and power of God may be opened in our weakness: and yet in all our adversity must we be manly and stout, valiantly fighting for his name’s sake. And though of weakness we be fallen in the field, yet will he have compassion upon us, and graciously forgive our fall. For who would not be afraid to fall, when the earnest and fervent apostle Peter fell so sore, and all the other disciples fled from the Lord? If this chanced to the beloved disciples, no man need to think the contrary, but the like may happen unto him. He that standeth, let him stand fast in the fear of God, and look that he fall not.
Christ unto his own that stand in this conflict and dangerous battle, giveth the shield or target of faith, which they cast up, and receive all strokes and shot therein. Believe ye in me, saith he. Whoso believeth in Christ, believeth in God; for Christ is God. This faith giveth strength, and overcometh all adversity. As if Christ would say: Be not afraid by reason of my bodily absence. Though ye see me no more from henceforth with bodily eyes, yet with my grace and comfort will not I forsake you, but be with you until the end of the world. I will always remain with you; only look that ye believe in me, continuing and cleaving fast unto me with the belief of the heart; so will I defend, deliver, and save you for ever. Be not afraid for any adversity; put your confidence in me. After your trouble, there is prepared for you an excellent great joy, and an exceeding unspeakable reward. For in my Father’s house are many dwellings, which from everlasting have been prepared for all the elect, that believe in me, and follow me under the cross. I will not deceive you, I will show you no unfaithful touch; I will not disappoint you, into no fool’s paradise nor false hope will I bring you. If the mansions were not prepared for you in my Father’s house, I would tell it you: but doubt ye not in my promise; fall ye not off from faith and hope; stay your belief and affiance steadfastly upon me; hope undoubtedly for the dwellings to come, which are ordained and prepared of my Father for you. Here is nothing but misery and trouble; here is no abiding, no dwelling, but a pilgrimage. Here ye are among strangers: but in my Father’s house are many dwellings, not only for me, but also for you. And forasmuch as now through my death I will furnish and perfectly open and make an entrance into the same dwellings, which were prepared for you of my Father afore the creation of the world; be not you therefore dismayed by reason of my death. My death shall be your life and salvation. Through my death go I before you, and make you a way unto heaven. Look what the Father of his gracious goodness hath ordained for you from everlasting, that will not he give you, but through me; therefore must I die, and with my death open you the entrance unto life.
And albeit that through my death and ascension I shall corporally depart from you; yet will I not fail you, neither forsake you. Like as by my death I open unto you the entrance into the heavenly mansions, so will I send you my holy Spirit, who shall furnish you, and make you meet for such dwellings. That I go from you, it is done for your wealth; therefore be not sorry, that I open the dwellings unto you. I will come to you again, and receive you to myself; that ye may always be with me in my Father’s kingdom. For he that serveth me, shall also be eternally with me in my Father’s house. Thither will I bring you through my power and grace; fear ye not, and believe in me. Thus ye know whither I go, namely, unto the Father, to work your welfare: ye know also through what way ye must follow me, even through faith and adversity. Abide ye steadfast in faith, and put your trust in me; so will I be your faithful mediator and attorney in the presence of God my Father.
And if we would say, as Thomas did, that we know not the way, the Lord Jesus instructeth us further, and saith, that he is “the way, the truth, and the life.” This ought we poor sinners well to fasten in our hearts, that Christ is the only way which bringeth us unto God, and that no man may come unto the Father but by him. We should not therefore erect or choose unto ourselves any other way. Only by Christ must we come unto God: this hath he spoken, that is the truth itself, and cannot lie. In the way is he our guide, and by it he leadeth us unto himself, and so by himself unto God. Through this way we come to life, and though we must die in adversity for his sake, yet in him we find eternal life; for he is the life and resurrection. Whose believeth on him cannot die, but cometh out of death into life; and though he die, yet shall he live in him everlastingly.
Furthermore, we must take sure hold upon Christ’s promise, which in life and death shall strengthen and comfort us; in that he promiseth us, he will give us all that we desire in his name. Wherefore in all our necessity and trouble we ought to have recourse only unto him, or unto God his Father in his name. And then do we pray in his name, when we desire that which may serve to the honor of his Father, that the Father may be honored through the Son, and in the Son, when we desire such wholesome good things, as the Spirit of Christ moveth us unto.
All this doth stir up in us patience, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost, belief in Christ, who is our God and head; whom by his doctrine and wonderful miracles we have learned to be very good in deed. The holy scripture also, both of Old and New Testament, doth sufficiently declare the same, as Esa. 7, 9, 42, 49, 62, Hier. 23, 33, Mich. 5, Zach. 13, Mala. 3.
Christ calleth himself the Son of God, and teacheth every where, that we ought to believe on him. Now if he were not very true God, then had he deceived us, then had he taught us wrong, and then were he himself a false teacher; for we must believe in none, save only in God. If Christ now were not God, how should we believe in him? If he were a false teacher, then would not the Father have commanded us to hear him; then had not he spoken from heaven these words, “This is my dearly beloved Son, hear him:” then had not he also confirmed his cause with miracles, raised him up from death, taken him up into heaven, and set him on his right hand: for he hateth all liars, and hath no pleasure in the wicked.
John 8 <430801> “Afore Abraham was, I am.” Christ saith, that “the Father hath given him all power in heaven and earth.” Matthew 28 <402801> Which sentence alone were sufficient and strong enough, to prove that Christ is God; for God giveth his glory and honor to none other. Esa. 42 He saith also, that “what the Father hath, it is his.” John 17 <431701> And, John 20 <432001> , saith Thomas unto Christ: “My Lord and my God.” By him were all things created. John 1 Colossians 1 <510101> Then must he needs be God; for no creature is the maker or creator of all things. Paul saith: “He is the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1 <460101> The wisdom of God is eternal. Proverbs 8 Ecclesiastes 24 <212401> , Romans 1 <450101> , 9 <450901> In the Epistle to the Hebrews, what doth Paul else, even from the beginning, until he come far within it, but bring in testimonies, that Christ is very God? John saith: “Every spirit which confesseth, that Jesus came in the flesh, is of God.” Out of the which it followeth, that as concerning his divine nature, he was from everlasting, afore he came in the flesh. Item: Paul to the Hebrews saith: “God took upon him the seed of Abraham :” then must he needs be eternal God, before the humanity was. As also John saith: “The Word was God, and the Word became man.” Item: “No man hath seen God at anytime.
The Son of God which is in the Father’s bosom, he hath opened it unto us.” John 3 <430101> . Saith Christ: “No man ascendeth into heaven, save he that came down from heaven.” Now canst thou not say, that he came down, as touching his human nature; for that took he first upon him in the Virgin Mary. Luke 1 <420101> Then must it needs be true, that he came down concerning his Godhead; as he oft saith: “I came forth from the Father ;” and Paul, Philippians 2 <500201> “He took upon him the shape of a servant.”
And, 1 John 5 <620501> “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us understanding to know him, who is the true God: and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. The same is the true God, and the eternal life.”
Seeing then that God hath given us his Son to be our righteousness, our sanctification, savior, redeemer, ransom, life, light, and head, to believe and trust in him, and finally by him to be saved, he must needs then be the true living God; else might not, neither should our heart trust nor cleave unto him. This ought a believing heart fully and well to take hold of, and steadfastly to stand thereupon. John 14:15-24 If ye love me, keep my commandments; and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because the world seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless, but will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me; for I live, and ye shall live. That day shall ye know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, the same is he that loveth me; and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will show mine own self unto him. Judas said unto him, not Judas Iscariot: Lord, what is the cause that thou wilt show thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him: If a man love me, he will keep my sayings; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and will dwell with him. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings: and the words which ye hear, are not mine, but the Father’s which hath sent me.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
Christ promiseth his disciples, that is, such as believe on him, that he will give them whatsoever they make petition for, or desire; yea, if they love him. For faith without love is dead, and hath no strength. Where there is faith in man, there followeth love. Many of us say, We believe in Christ, and we love him, yet we keep not his commandments. Such men ought well to note the words that Christ here speaketh: “Whoso loveth me, keepeth my commandments.” The disciples thought that they loved Christ right, because they were sorry for his departing; but Christ teacheth us, that love consisteth in the keeping of his commandments. If we will declare our love towards God, it must not be done only with word and tongue, but with keeping of his precepts. “The eyes of the Lord behold the righteous, and his ears consider their prayers.” God will not that we, whom he through his grace hath admitted for his own children, and purified through faith, should go idle. Faith, which God giveth us in our heart, standeth not idle: we have for this purpose’ received it, even to keep his commandments. Now is it his commandment, that we deny and mortify ourselves, hate and despise the world, take up our cross upon us, and follow him, stoutly and manfully confessing and acknowledging him before the wicked world, loving one another, as he hath loved us; innocently and godly leading our lives, whereby we may daily receive the more gifts at his hand. For if we keep not his grace that he giveth us, if we do not continually and daily reform ourselves, and with all diligence fashion our lives after his life, it is but right that we lose again what we have received.
And if any man saith, it were impossible for man to keep God’s commandments, (as it is true indeed,) yet unto us that believe in Christ are all things possible, not in ourselves, but in Christ our head. If we abide in him through faith, then hard and impossible things are light and possible unto us; for in him that strengtheneth us we may do all things. And if we love God, then for his sake that is beloved we may do and suffer all things; for there is nothing but love overcometh it. Our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilleth the commandments and will of his heavenly Father. So far as we now are his members incorporated with him, and abiding in him as our head through faith, our daily exercise, ferventness, and diligence shall be in undertaking to perform and keep his commandments. And if we out of a true belief do apply such diligence to keep his precepts, then may it be perceived that we love God.
And if that, after such diligence in keeping God’s commandments, there be ought lacking, (as we shall ever here want something,) we must cry unto our heavenly Father, and pray: O Father, forgive us our debts and trespasses.” And then have we with him a faithful Mediator, even Jesus Christ the righteous, who maketh intercession for us, and taketh our faults upon himself; and, what we are not able, that fulfilleth he for us. Thus is it his first and highest commandment, which he earnestly requireth of us, that we believe in him. Where the same faith is right, it brings with it love, which keepeth all the commandments. Now when we begin to break our minds off from earthy worldly things, and to set them upon godly heavenly things, which Christ calleth us unto; then take we in hand to be obedient unto God the Father, after the example and pattern of Christ; for he loved us first. If we now also love him, and practice ourselves in his love, then shall he help us to keep his commandments.
And to the intent that we may be able to put our trust in him, to love him, and to observe his precepts, he promiseth us his holy Spirit, to work all such things in us.
He comforteth also his disciples and all his elect in this world; as if he would say: “Be not ye afraid, neither sorrowful, by reason of my departing. Albeit I now die, and go corporally from you unto the Father, yet will I always have a fatherly love, faithfulness, and care for you; neither will I leave you friendless, as those that are utterly destitute of all help and consolation. I will pray unto the Father, so that he shall send you another to succor and comfort you. While I have been with you myself, I have instructed and taught you in all things that were necessary for your welfare. Unto all such works as are acceptable unto my Father, have I exhorted you; unto all good things have I moved you; from all evil have I defended you; in all trouble and adversity have I comforted you. I have been your teacher, your exhorter, your attorney, your advocate, and mediator; so that ye have lacked nothing, neither hath any man hurt you.
Seeing now I have hitherto never failed you, I will also from henceforth not forsake you, but pray unto my Father, who shall send unto you the Holy Ghost. The same shall perfectly bring to your remembrance, and be your teacher in all that I have showed you; he shall exhort and admonish you, aid, succor, and comfort you; so that ye shall not be without consolation. He shall be your tutor and defender; neither shall he be with you only for a time, as I have been, but even in your hearts shall he dwell with you, and never depart from you.
Of this helper, comforter, teacher, and tutor, shall ye also have need; for great trouble and persecution shall the world move against you. To overcome the same, is your flesh too feeble: therefore will I send you down from heaven a power, whereby in all adversity ye may be able to stand fast, and to have the victory.
O the unspeakable love of our Lord Jesu Christ, who taketh such diligent care for us, and endueth us with so excellent a gift, namely, his own holy Spirit! With what modesty and soberness, with how pure and honest behavior ought we to walk, seeing that God hath into our hearts given his holy Spirit, who utterly abhorreth and loatheth all vice and all filthiness of sin? Great diligence ought we therefore to apply, in keeping clean and undefiled our bodies and souls, which God through his holy Spirit hath purified and consecrated to be his own dwelling place and temple, lest we expel the chaste Spirit of God. For in no froward soul abideth he, neither dwelleth he in that body which maketh itself slave and thrall unto sin. The ears of our mind ought we to open, and to hearken whereof this Spirit admonisheth us, and what doctrine he in our Savior’s words doth teach us; and his motion ought we to follow. Afraid ought we not to be: he that is in us is stronger than all our enemies.
This Spirit hath Christ by his prayer and merits obtained of his Father; for he prayed with weeping and tears, and was heard for his worthiness’ sake.
He is called also the Spirit of truth, because he proceedeth of the truth, teacheth the truth, and maketh us true: we are else of our own nature altogether liars, in constant, untrue, and dissembling hypocrites; and whatsoever the world speaketh and doth, it is nothing but vanity and lies.
Therefore God showeth not himself unto them, for they love him not; which thing they declare, in that they refuse his word. But whoso receiveth his word, showeth thereby that he loveth Christ and God: him will God love again, and open himself ever more and more unto him. This is a high reward, which God giveth unto his lovers; that he cometh unto them, maketh his dwelling, and abideth always with them, working all good things in them and by them. Therefore ought we earnestly to hear his word, to love him, and to keep his commandments. And so even the same his own Spirit, which he gave us at the beginning, shall he still grant unto us more perfectly from time to time. Thus shall that Spirit pour out love in our hearts, and endue them with more perfection. The love of the world, which is not of God the Father, shall this Spirit root out and daily consume; but the love of God it shall continually plant and increase. The more love there is, the more groweth the knowledge of God; yea, the more God’s knowledge increaseth, the more fervent and perfect is love.
Grant us, O gracious Father, thy holy Spirit, to take possession of our heart; that it may only trust in thee, love thee above all things, keep thy commandments, and cleave still unto thee for evermore. Amen. John 14:25-31 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But that comfort which is the Holy Ghost, whom my Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have taught you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither fear.
Ye have heard that I said unto you, I go, and come unto you. If ye loved me, ye would verily rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now have I showed you before it come, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter will I not talk many words with you; for the ruler of this world cometh, and hath naught in me. But that the world may know, that I love the Father; as the Father gave me commandment, even so do I. Arise, let us go hence.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
The Lord Jesus continueth his oration in comforting his disciples, and in telling them what the office of the Holy Ghost should be. Whereby we learn, that all reading and hearing, yea, and all doctrine, bringeth utterly no fruit, if the Holy Ghost do not give us understanding, and teach us the word of God. For the disciples were ignorant and forgetful: many things that Christ had told them, they understood not; many things had they forgotten; in many things they doubted. Such like happen also unto us.
Therefore ought we at all times to pray unto God, that he will send us his holy Spirit, to admonish and provoke us, to comfort and strengthen us, to instruct and teach us all things that are necessary for us to salvation. He is the right heavenly schoolmaster: when he cometh into us, he expelleth all ignorance away.
But forasmuch as there remaineth much trouble and adversity unto all faithful believers, while they live in this time, of Christ doth therefore promise them his peace against the turmoiling, unquietness, and trouble of this world. In the world are many hurley-burlies and adversities; in Christ we find true peace and quietness. And Christ unto those that are his giveth such a peace, as surmounteth all understanding; in the which peace they being coupled and knit, are able valiantly to overcome all enemies and adversity. For inasmuch as they know, and be undoubtedly assured through faith, that their sins are forgiven and taken away by Christ, that the Father of heaven is favorable and gracious unto them, that they be his own children and inheritors, they do little pass what thing outwardly happeneth unto them. All adversity and trouble that outwardly is laid upon them, is through the inward joy and peace which they have in God clean swallowed up, and so forgotten. They settle and stay their hearts upon salvation and eternal peace.
The peace of the world seeketh quietness and rest of the body, throweth away the cross, and flieth from it: the peace of Christ rejoiceth in the midst of adversity, and overcometh the cross. For faithful believers look unto Christ, who went before them unto the Father, and after his passion and death took possession of so high honor and glory, and hath carried their nature up so high unto the right hand of the Father, where he now ruleth as a mighty king of heaven and earth. Oh, how great comfort, how sure a hope giveth it c, unto us, when we see our own nature, our own flesh and bones, incorporated unto Christ, the only-begotten Son and eternal word of God, in so high honor and glory! How can it be otherwise, but we must needs hope, that our weak flesh also shall be taken up?
Look what is past in the head, the same shall assuredly be fulfilled in the members; for without the members cannot’ the head be. Which thing considered, and through true belief printed in the heart, maketh a man patient and cheerful in all adversity, giveth peace and joy in all trouble. Let the prince of this world, through his ministers and members, stir up all vexation against us, yet hath he no vantage of us, if we be in Christ. Easily might he find somewhat in ourselves, but in Christ nothing; such innocency doth Christ make us partakers of. Tempt us he may, and thrust at us; but to overcome us he is not able, so far as we abide in Christ. In us is death a punishment of sin; in Christ it is obedience and love. For seeing the Father loveth the Son, and of very love gave him unto death for us, the Son would of love obey the Father; and as he also loved us, so would he willingly and obediently suffer death for us, that all the world might see his obedience, and that we might learn of him to obey our heavenly Father, even unto the death, and faithfully follow his precept; and that likewise, whereas it toucheth his glory, we should be afraid neither of adversity nor death, considering how obediently he died for our sakes. John 15:1-8. <431501> I am a true vine, and my Father is an husbandman. Every branch that bringeth not fruit in me, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth, that it may bring forth more fruit. :Now are ye clean through the words which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me can ye do nothing. If a man bide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they burn. If ye abide in me, and my words also in you, ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, and become my disciples.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
Under this fair similitude doth Christ teach his Church, that without him we can do nothing, but in him all things. Now forasmuch as he through his grace hath incorporated us unto himself, we ought with great diligence to apply ourselves, that we may abide in him, and bear fruit. For as long as we are in him, we live, that is, we receive lively virtue and sap of him, namely, his Spirit. For whoso cleaveth unto the Lord, and is incorporated unto him through faith, the same is become one spirit with him. Corinthians 6:1. For hereby know we that we are in him, and he in us, in that he hath given us of his Spirit. 1 John 4:1 For why? In the vineyard the branches are of one nature and kind. Thus the only-begotten Son of God took our nature upon him, is become man, and giveth us of his Spirit, and maketh us to be of a godly mind and spiritual nature. Out of the same pith and sap do all manner of godly virtues and good works break forth.
Galatians 5 <480501> , Psalm 85 <198501> . (86) For through his grace are we his operation and work in Christ Jesu, created unto good works, wherein we are bound to walk. And seeing we have received Jesus Christ of God the Father, we ought to walk in him, that in him we may be well rooted and stand fast.
But hereby know we that we are in him, if we walk as he hath walked. For whoso saith, that he abideth in him, then even as he walked, so must we do. 1 John 2 <620201> But if we would say, that we were in him, and had fellowship with him, and yet would walk in darkness, (seeing he is the light, wherein is found no darkness at all,) then were we liars, and went not about with the truth. But if we walk in light, as he is light, and we children of light, then have we fellowship and company with him, and the blood of Christ purgeth us from all sin. 1 John 1 <620101> .
Whoso now is unthankful to the grace of God, and doth not practice himself in good works to God’s glory, the same is cut off, and as an unfruitful dry branch, thrown into the fire and burnt. Faith grafteth us into Christ; love declareth that we are planted in, and it knitteth the members with the head. Where the Spirit of Christ followeth from the head into the members, from the stock into the branches, there are fruits of the Spirit; for by the fruit is the tree known.
Christ through his word and Spirit hath pacified us, that is, he hath called and separated us from the world and from the filthiness of the flesh unto good works. And into his own service and school of godly nurture hath he admitted us, and written up our names. He hath begun to purge and cleanse us from carnal lusts, and from all uncleanness of the world, accepting us into the number of those that die from the world, and that now from henceforth will live unto him, and bring forth fruit. But that is not enough; we must also obediently wait upon the grace that he hath placed us in, applying our diligence, watching, and praying, that from so high a vocation, from so excellent grace and honor, we fall not away again. 1 Corinthians 10 <461001> It is not enough to have begun, there must be a steadfast continuance. He that forsaketh the head again, hath neither spirit nor virtue; for without him we are able to do nothing. Therefore through faith and love ought we to abide in him, having respect unto him in all things; so shall we bring forth much fruit unto him. Then abide we in him, when we do that he commandeth us, and love that which he promiseth us.
Howbeit, these fruits that we bring forth are not ours, but the Father’s; to him ought we to bring them forth, unto his honor must they extend.
For when God’s light doth appear and shine in our conversation, and many folks thereby are drawn unto God, the Father of heaven is honored, his name is hallowed, and then are we his disciples. For we have learned of him, how Christ was obedient unto the Father, and sought his glory in all things; and so do we likewise.
Hereunto ought all our prayers to extend, that we may bring and win much unto Christ. Therein is the Father praised, when we bring unto him much fruit; but that might we not, if God had not given us his Son, that we might be his branches, and he our vine.
Where faith is, there is the Holy Ghost, which teacheth to wish and pray for that only, which may serve for God’s honor; and that is the cause, why he that prayeth, obtaineth all his desire: for God may not give over his glory. Whoso undertaketh to further that, him doth he assist and help. John 15:9-17 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you. Continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that ye love together, as I have loved you. Greater love than this hath no man, that a man bestow his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth call I you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doth. But you have I called friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father, have I opened unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit remain: that whatsoever ye ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. This command I you, that ye love together one another.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
Oh, how excellent great consolation is this to us all, which believe in Jesus Christ, and are undoubtedly assured in ourselves, that Christ loveth us as his own children and disciples, howsoever the world judge us to be forsaken of him! If this love came right into our heart, oh, how earnest and fervent should we be to love him again, to further his honor, to keep his commandments, and in charitable love to serve our neighbors! Then should all good works and keeping of God’s commandments flow out of faith; namely, when we believe that God is favorable and loving unto us, yea, that he is our Father, and his Son Jesus Christ our king, head, and brother. This faith worketh through love: for we could not love God, if he had not loved us first. His grace, love, and mercy preventeth us.
Therefore doth Christ ever still set forth his love before us, as a light torch, to kindle us in love towards him and our neighbors. If we believe this grace, committing us cheerfully unto his love, which he hath declared, and continually doth practice towards us, if we still abide therein; then shall this faith upon the love of God work great things in us and by us, and shall move us with good will gladly and cheerfully to observe his commandments. And if we keep his commandments, every man shall have an assured token, that we be and continue in the love of God; that is, that we keep ourselves unto his love.
Seeing then that he loveth us exceeding much, and we finding the same in our hearts, through faith, do comfort ourselves thereupon, there must needs follow love to our neighbors, joy, peace, softness of mind, gentleness, patience, etc. Galatians 5:1. <480501> Now that Christ doth not slenderly, but most notably love his disciples, and all in them, he proveth it himself divers ways. First, in that he giveth his life for us, and dieth for us upon the cross; for greater love hath no man, than to die for his friend. Thus Christ with his death and blood sealeth his love towards us.
Secondly, in that he counteth and esteemeth us, not as servants, but as dear friends, brethren, and heirs with him. And the same declareth he in this, that all things which he hath heard of his Father, and sucked out of that fatherly heart, he openeth them unto us, and writeth the same through his holy Spirit in our hearts. All his secret, his godly will he giveth us to understand. For we which be in Christ do know through an undoubted faith, and feel it also in our hearts, that God is our Father through Christ, and that in him he hath admitted and chosen us, that he is reconciled with us through the blood of his dear Son, that lie loveth, preserveth, and defendeth us. Therefore do we also patiently and cheerfully bear all adversity in this time for his sake, considering we know, that so is the good pleasure of our dearest Father.
Thirdly, Christ declareth his excellent love towards us, in that he did choose us afore the world was created, and loved us when we were yet his enemies, calling us by his word, and appointing us to bring forth fruit unto him.
Fourthly, in that we obtain at the Father’s hand all that we pray and desire in the name of Jesu.
Are not these sure tokens of an exceeding love of God towards us? After that we once have perceived such love, oh that we always remained therein! Which cometh to pass, when we apply ourselves unto his commandments, and when we in obedience and patience are content to be at his will, as he for our sake was obedient unto his Father, even until the death of the cross. :Now that we might know what his commandments be, he concludeth them in a short sum, and saith: “Love ye one another together, as I have loved you.” As if he would say: Seeing I have declared my love so worthily, so notably, and with so great faithfulness towards you, that I have not refused to die for you; therefore is it my will, and so is it reason also, that ye likewise show such love one towards another; for I have given you example afore, that ye should do as I have done, and follow my footsteps, This shall not only be very seemly unto you, but much profit also and great honor shall it bring you. For like as my Father, as ye shall shortly see, shall after my passion bring me unto glory, so shall he also do unto you, so far as ye endure steadfast in adversity, and continue in love one towards another. Like as I with great travail and labor have showed you the way and will of God my Father, and therefore go now unto death to make you living; so ought ye also to be minded one towards another. Look that ye serve one another in love; lead all men unto God; and the grace of God, which he giveth unto the world through me, publish ye unto all men, though ye must lose your life therefore. John 15:18-25 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me, before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own. Howbeit, because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than the Lord.
If they have persecuted me, so will they persecute you. If they have kept my sayings, they will also keep yours.
But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they should not have had sin; but now have they nothing to cloak their sin withal. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. If I had not done works amongst them which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they seen, and have hated both me, and also my Father: even that the saying might be fulfilled, which is written in their own law: They have hated me without any cause.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
Like as Christ in the aforesaid words hath given unto his disciples, and to us that believe in him, an excellent consolation in his love, which is infinite great towards us; so doth he now comfort us against such trouble and adversity to come, as outwardly happeneth unto us, and against the hate and persecution, wherewith the children of the world recompense us for our love and well doing. Love ought we to have towards all men: such godly love shall move us earnestly to further God’s glory, to bring all men to the knowledge and love of God, and to withdraw them from fleshly lusts and worldly vices. When we now of a godly zeal begin thus to rebuke vice, and to reprehend the carnal lusts of the children of the world, then they that are drowned in the shameful vices of the world and the flesh, may not suffer it, but hate, trouble, and vex us, molest, persecute us, and put us unto death, contemning and despising the word which we offer them from God, whereby they might be saved, and going about by all means to root it out.
But all this ought not to drive us back, or discourage us; for in this world must we seek no high honor nor praise, but willingly humble and submit ourselves under the rebuke and cross with Christ our head. Christ also exhorteth us to follow his footsteps, and to do after his example, and not to forsake the truth and love of our neighbor for their hatred; but constantly to proceed and do our best to guide all men unto God. And if for such our faithfulness and love there happen reproach and trouble to us, we ought to rejoice, that God doth us so great honor, as to grant us to suffer somewhat for his name’s sake. If we lived as do the children of the world, we should not be hated of them, and happily we needed to fear but little danger. But Christ hath taken us from the world, and hath chosen and called us to good works and to innocency of life. Nothing hath he omitted, that might serve to our welfare; faithfully therefore ought we to follow his vocation, and not do as the unthankful Jews, that despise his doctrine and works. He talketh yet daily with us, provoketh and calleth us; therefore ought we to cease from sin, and not to fashion ourselves after the world. For if we would live to please the world, to serve it, and to hunt after the favor and praise of it, we should not be faithful ministers of Jesus Christ. We ought not to look for worldly honor; but to have respect to the eternal glory, which we shall have with Christ our head, yea, so far as we suffer rebuke and dishonor with him. When he lived in this time, and practiced the truth against the Pharisees, he was reviled, put to shame and death. The same happeneth also unto us; for we are not above the Lord.
An evil token were it, if the world loved us. Patiently therefore and with joy ought we to bear such rebuke and shame, as happeneth unto us for his name’s sake by those that hate the truth. For our honor and reward is great in heaven; but after our trouble shall the same be first opened, as it happened also unto Christ our head first after the cross. John 15:26-16:7 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth of the Father, he shall testify of me. And ye are witnesses also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. These things have I said unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall thrust you out of their synagogues, and excommunicate you; yea, the time shall come, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth service unto God. And such things shall they do unto you, because they know not the Father, neither me.
But these things have I told you, that when the hour is come, ye may remember that I told you. These things said I not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said such things unto you, your hearts are full of sorrow. But I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away. For if I go not away, that Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
Forasmuch as it is our bounden duty to bear witness unto Christ with our mouth and life, and yet our weak flesh feareth the hatred and resistance of the world; Christ therefore promiseth us here, that he will send us strength from heaven, namely, the Holy Ghost, first in our hearts to bear witness unto Christ, and then to open our mouths, that we may testify the Lord Christ and his truth manfully and without fear. Certain it is, that “all they which will live here godly in Christ Jesu, must suffer persecution.” But seeing that to suffer such adversity our flesh is far too slow, cold, and feeble, God giveth us the Spirit of his Son, to move, strengthen, and preserve us in all goodness. This Spirit poureth out love into our hearts, expelleth all fear and terror, as we see in Peter on Whitsunday, and maketh us to overcome all adversity.
We are branches in Christ the true vine, albeit as yet very weak and tender, soon blown away with the wind, or smitten down other ways: but forasmuch as out of Christ we receive yet the sap and virtue of spirit and life, we are in life preserved, that we wither not away. Of this now must we be mindful in all adversity, so that without ceasing we pray unto God for his holy Spirit, who is our instructor, comforter, and teacher. We ought to have respect unto our foregoer and finisher of our faith; remembering, that we suffer not as thieves and evil doers, but for his sake, yea, and that of the wicked. This shall make our adversity and cross the more easy and light, when we feel the comfort of the Spirit, and behold how shameful a death Christ suffered for us. Therefore should there no fear make us to shrink from the confession of Christ and his truth. We are not they that speak, but it is the Spirit of the Father which speaketh in us.
We may not fear those that kill the body; we may not be ashamed of him: so shall he also knowledge us, and make us honorable in his Father’s sight.
The honor of this world should not be dearer unto us than the glory of God. And though we die for it, yet ought we not to shrink or stir from the confession of the truth.
This engendereth many times much heaviness and fear in us, that we consider only that which is present, little regarding that which is to come and everlasting; and because we think, that when God thrusteth us into adversity, he is far from us: whereas he then is most of all with us by his grace, comfort, and strength, and trieth us through the cross, standing behind the wall, and looking through the grate upon our conflict and battle, yea, helping us to fight and to overcome. Therefore must we not always be children, we must not hang still at the breast, seeking milk as children do; but grow to a perfect age, learning to know Christ the Lord after the Spirit, as he now governeth, and is a mighty King; under whose banner we must fight valiantly, and endure the cross unto the death; throwing behind us all things in this world, and lifting up our eyes and hearts into heaven, whence our help: cometh, and into the which Christ is gone, to prepare for us. an everlasting dwelling. John 16:8-14 And when the Spirit is come, he will rebuke the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye shall see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged already. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he is come, which is the Spirit of truth, he will lead you into all truth. For he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and show unto you.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
In these words doth Christ show us the office of the Holy Ghost, and what he worketh by his disciples, and by all faithful believers in the world. The whole world is set upon wickedness and iniquity; and when that is rebuked, it hateth and persecuteth those that rebuke it. Whereout it followeth oftentimes, that through imbecility and weakness of the flesh we cease from rebuking of vice and sin.
Now when we find it to be thus, that the infirmity of our flesh, and the terrible threatening of the world, will hinder us or utterly draw us back from the free rebuking of vice; we ought to pray unto God our Father for to give us the Spirit of his Son, that he may pour out love into our hearts, and expel all fear, that with stout stomachs and words we may reprehend the vices of the world, and valiantly resist them. This Spirit shall teach us the thing, that neither our flesh nor the world is instructed in. All we of nature do err, and every one wandereth his own way, that is, every one followeth his own purpose and intent; and if we believe not in Christ, we perish in our sins. And this is the greatest sin of all, wherein the world is wrapped, afore it receive the truth. Not to believe in Christ is a sin out of the which all vice and wickedness doth grow. How great this sin is, no man is able to know, only the Spirit of God openeth it: therefore the Spirit teacheth us, how far we go astray. And if we come to Christ from this erroneous way of unbelief, all sins are forgiven us through Christ, and not imputed us to our damnation.
Neither is it enough to know that we have erred, or do yet err; but we must know also, which is the right way, wherein, when error is forsaken, we must walk to attain unto godliness and bliss. This right way doth the Spirit also show to be even Christ, who is our way, our righteous ness, and goodness; which way nevertheless the world will not go. To believe in Christ, is the true way to attain unto righteousness and salvation: whoso now departeth not from the erroneous way of unbelief and vice, and will not walk in Christ, the way of all virtue and goodness, which all the world, alas! so abhorreth, the same is convict, that the judgment of eternal pain doth righteously fall upon him, seeing the light is set before him, and he will rather abide and perish in darkness. But is not this a just judgment, that the world should perish in sin, and be punished for ever, considering that God hath graciously sent unto them his own Son, promising everlasting life and salvation in him, who with his blood hath washed away our sins, mightily overcome death, sin, and the prince of this world, delivered us out of his power and heavy yoke, and taken possession of the kingdom and glory with his Father; and yet they will not know, receive, nor honor Christ, as their chief king and Lord, but still serve the prince of this world in vice and sin, and not submit themselves under the easy yoke of Christ, and of his love and virtues?
O dear children, let us depart out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus Christ the Son of God: let us regard his word with diligence; let us hearken what God speaketh in us; and though there be many things that as yet we know not, many that we do not understand and perceive, we will earnestly pray unto God for his Spirit, who is the right schoolmaster and teacher. He shall lead us into all truth, he shall renew us in the spirit of our mind, and teach us to understand, what the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God is. He shall plant and root us in love, that we may comprehend with all saints, what is the length, the breadth, the height, and depth; that we may also know the exceeding love of the knowledge of Christ, that we might be filled in all godly perfectness. Thus the Spirit teacheth us all truth, when he poureth love into our hearts.
This schoolmaster teacheth all believers here in time, every one as much as he can comprehend, and kindleth spiritual hearts with greater desire. He that now increaseth in love, that is, whoso loveth that whereof God giveth him knowledge, and desireth to know that which as yet he knoweth not, him doth the Spirit lead into all truth. For the more that love groweth, the more perfect is knowledge. And in this school of the love which the Spirit poureth into our hearts, the faithful believer learneth more, than all books and all men can teach him: but the more a man learneth and can, the more must he acknowledge and confess, that he can nothing towards that which we shall know, when we shall clearly and perfectly see God face to face.
Unto us shall it be enough and sufficient, that we in spirit and in the truth know Jesus Christ, which was crucified, and that he shine and be glorified in our mortal body, in our hearts, mouth, and in our whole life. John 16:16-22 After a while ye shall not see me, and again after a while ye shall see me; for I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves: What is this that he saith unto us, After a while ye shall not see me, and again after a while ye shall see me; and that I go to my Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, After a while?
We cannot tell what he saith. Jesus perceived that they would ask him, and said unto them: This is it that ye inquire of between yourselves, that I said, After a while ye shall not see me, and again after a while ye shall see me. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: ye shall sorrow, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman, when she travaileth, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but when she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore are in sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy shall no man take from you.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
An excellent comfort doth Christ give here unto his disciples, who by reason of his departing were in great sorrow and heaviness. But like as the disciples of Christ, because of his passion, abode for a little season in great cumbrance, fear, and trouble, and yet received great joy out of the resurrection, when he showed himself unto them; even so in adversity ought not we to be faint-hearted, but comfort ourselves in this, that the Lord doth not long leave those that are his. Though he hide himself for a time, he shall shortly show us his gracious countenance again, and refresh us with rich comfort. The adversities of faithful believers are not only short, but also they end with unspeakable joy. After adversity and death followeth everlasting joy and eternal life. We are here with Christ our head in trouble and on the cross, where the world laugheth at us and rejoiceth.
For all this ought not we to be unquiet in ourselves. Very shortly will the matter change and turn upside down; so that their laughter and joy shall be altered into weeping and eternal sorrow: but our heaviness shall God shortly end with great fruit and joy, and the same joy shall no man be able to take from us, when we with Christ our head shall everlastingly be glad and rejoice, when all tears shall be wiped away from our eyes, and we discharged of all travail and labor of this time. John 16:23-33 In that day shall ye ask me no question. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs; but the time will come, when I shall no more speak to you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of my Father. At that day shall ye ask in my name. And I say not unto you, that I will pray unto the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I am come out from God. I went out from the Father, and came into the world; and I leave the world again, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and thou speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee any question. Therefore believe we, that thou camest from God. Jesus answered them, Now ye do believe. Behold, the hour draweth nigh, and is already come, that ye shall be scattered every man unto his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. These words have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world shall ye have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
Many times doth Christ promise us, whatsoever we pray, to obtain the same of the Father of heaven; whereby he may stir up our hearts faithfully to cry unto God, the gracious and loving Father, whose love towards us is exceeding great, neither can he say us nay, that hath given and bestowed upon us his own Son. Yea, not only hath he sent down unto us his dear and only-begotten Son, to take the nature of man upon him, and to die for us; but hath also into our hearts given his holy Spirit, with whom he hath sealed us, and certified us of his love, pouring the knowledge and love of Christ into our hearts. How can we then doubt of his love and faithfulness? How is it possible, that in all our trouble and heaviness we should not unto him only have recourse, seeking help and comfort at his hand? The Son for our sake came forth from the Father, humbled, and made himself of no reputation, took all reproach, shame, and trouble upon himself for our welfare. To the Father was he obedient, until the death of the cross; and after that he through his blood had washed away our sins, and finished the work of our salvation, he arose again from death through the power and might of his Father, overcame death for us, and with his ascension opened heaven, and prepared an entrance unto God, carrying up our nature and flesh unto the honor and glory which he had from everlasting, and giving us therein a hope and sure comfort, that we also shall with him have everlasting joy and glory for ever.
Seeing then that he came out from the Father, we ought to hearken unto him, and not to despise his word. He is the eternal wisdom of God, he is the truth, no false teacher can he be; forasmuch as he cometh from God, and is his only-begotten Son. To contemn so dear an ambassador and messenger of God, must needs have great punishment; and though we are not able in most perfection to understand his doctrine, truth, and love, (for here in this time is our knowledge imperfect;) yet should we consider that the Father loveth us, and faithfully ought we to cry and pray unto him for his Spirit, that shall teach us all truth, so much as is necessary and profitable for us; which knowledge from day to day shall increase, till we shall see him face to face, and have the perfect knowledge of him. Our nature is weak and feeble, the nature divine is high and incomprehensible.
Some first-fruits and beginnings of God’s knowledge have we received already. God hath cast and planted a little seed of knowledge in our hearts, which through his grace and moisture shall daily grow, increase, and prosper. Of such knowledge as we have of God, we may not presume, neither of our weak faith, nor yet ascribe too much unto our own strength, tie that standeth, let him look that he fall not. We think many times that we are very strong in faith; but adversity showeth how feeble we be, and how soon we shrink. Therefore in all trouble and distress of this world we ought to comfort ourselves, and trust only in the grace and strength of Christ. In him shall we find peace and quietness, in him shall we overcome all our enemies: for his overcoming is our victory, his power is our strength. The world is not able to hurt and plague us, more than of our gracious Father is permitted unto them for our wealth.
While we live here, we are in misery, affliction, and distress: but seeing that the head hath overcome, the members ought not to doubt of the victory. Let us with steadfast belief look unto Christ, the fountain of life, our foregoer and finisher of our faith; and let us stoutly step forth after him, let us go the way that he is gone, and hath trodden, and made before.
Afflictions shall serve us unto high honor, as they served Christ the Lord unto glory. In Christ we find the peace and rest of our consciences and souls; in him we know and find the goodness and love of God the Father; out of him receive we power, strength, comfort, and eternal life; only let us look, that we turn not the eyes of our heart and faith away from him.
Our welfare consisteth in the steadfast belief and love of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Though we may many times stumble, fall, and be proved by sundry temptations and afflictions; yet is the same good and profitable for us, that we may the better learn to know our own weakness, and again, the strength and grace of God. If it were not profitable for us, Christ had not suffered his disciples to fall so grievously. But in all distress he putteth his hand under us, and in adversity he leaveth us not alone, as he also left not his own Son alone. Though all men fly away from us, yet have we God with us. John 17:1-8 <431701> These words spoke Jesus, and lift up his eyes to heaven, and said:
Father, the hour is come: glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. This is life eternal, that they know thee the only very true God, and whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now glorify me thou, Father, with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee ere the world was. I have declared thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world. Thine they were, and thou gavest them me, and they have kept thy sayings. Now they know that all things, whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee: for I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them, and know surely, that I came out from thee, and do believe that thou didst send me.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
Christ the true, only, and chief priest, who now would offer up himself to the Father upon the cross for our sins, after that he had loved his own unto the end, comforting and strengthening them, turneth now himself in an earnest and fervent prayer unto his heavenly Father, for an ensample and doctrine unto his disciples and all faithful believers, that they in all temptations and afflictions should with an earnest and fervent prayer have recourse unto the Father of heaven. That he taught afore in words, the same declareth he now in the deed; showing not only what, but also how, and after what sort, we ought to pray; not only for ourselves, but also for those that are given and committed unto us of God, and whom we have comforted and exhorted. Our eyes and hands ought we to lift up unto heaven, from whence our help cometh; which doing is a token of a devout, humble, and lowly mind: yea, the eyes, not only of the body, but also of the heart and belief.
But unto this end principally ought all our prayers to be. directed, that the heavenly Father may be glorified. The devil, the prince of this world, through his adherents, causeth the name and truth of Christ, his doctrine and knowledge, to be rooted out and despised. Seeing then that we are God’s children, we should in nothing be so earnest, as in saving the honor of our Father, and in furthering his glory. Which thing cometh to pass, when we notify to men upon earth his grace, faithfulness, love, and great mercy, which he by his only-begotten and dear Son hath declared and showed unto mankind; when we lead men unto God from earthly vices and false gods’ service, and when we direct all things to his glory. Thus is Christ also honored and glorified by us, when we through the gospel do publish unto all men his power and goodness, his honor and glory; when we know, that he is our Savior, our righteousness, and sanctifying; when we know, that the Father hath given all things into his power; that to those whom the Father hath granted to him he may give everlasting life. Which life everlasting consisteth in this, that we know the living God, and his Son Jesus Christ, whom he sent into this world. For God the Father cannot be known without Christ Jesus his Son, neither is there any more Gods, but only one, on whom we hope and trust. The way to God is Christ, whom God therefore sent down, that by him the mercy and grace of the Father might be opened and appear unto us. Wherefore if we will have eternal life, that is, the knowledge of God, we must believe in Christ, and know him; and by him as the way and mediator we must know God the Father.
Whoso refuseth Christ, cannot have the Father. What should it help thee to think, that thou knowest God, the highest goodness of all, if thou hast not him, by whom thou art delivered from sin and eternal plague?
Where as God, the original of all goodness, is known, and our mind through Christ his Son assured of his grace; namely, that he is favorable unto us, and that he therefore hath separated us out of the world, to the intent that by his Spirit he might make us like unto his Son, righteous and blessed; there doth there spring in our hearts a comfortable trust unto God, a love, and such joy, as nothing in this world may be compared unto.
There also doth arise in us a diligence to keep his commandments, godly and innocently to live. Thus cometh our health originally out of the grace and mercy of our heavenly Father, who, afore the world was created, did choose us in Christ Jesu his Son unto eternal life, and in the book of life wrote up our names. After the same did the Father grant unto us the Son, and gave him power over all men. Now that we are given unto Christ, he openeth unto us the name of his Father, through the outward word, and through his Spirit in the heart. When we believe in him, which to do also cometh of him, then increaseth the knowledge of God in us. Out of that knowledge groweth an assured confidence in God, the highest good; of this assured trust cometh love towards him; and when God granteth us all this, he sayeth us, and giveth us eternal life.
This is an high worthiness and honor of Christ, in that the Father giveth him all things into his hand, that he may give everlasting life unto faithful believers. No man can have life, but through Christ. Whoso believeth not in Christ, remaineth in death, and the wrath of God abideth upon him. But then giveth he us eternal life, when we receive his word, and know that he came out from God, and that the Father sent him the Savior of the world.
And when we thus are become faithful believers, then keep we his commandments:, for faith studieth and is diligent to please God. This honor and dignity of Christ, his power and kingdom, are first opened unto the world, after his death and cross, in the resurrection and ascension. Of the which honor and glory we also in due time shall, after our measure, be partakers, if we suffer with him. For the high Priest, who hath prayed for us, is heard of the Father, and glorified with eternal honor and glory.
Wherefore we may not doubt in the remnant that he prayeth for still on our behalf; he shall be, and is for his worthiness’ sake heard, and hath his request. Of this we will consider more. John 17:9-23. I Pray for them, and pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me; for they are thine, and all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now am I no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. When I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name.
Those that thou gavest me have I kept, and none of them is lost, but the lost child, that the scripture might be fulfilled. Now come I to thee, and these words speak I in the world, that they might have my joy full in them. I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I desire not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou keep them from evil. They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. Sanctify them with thy truth: thy saying is truth. As thou sentest me into the world, so have I sent them into the world; and for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. I pray not for them alone, but for those also which shall believe on me through their preaching; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; and that they may be also one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory that thou gavest me, have I given them, that they may be one, as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
This prayer of our high Priest and mediator Christ Jesus is fervent, earnest, full of the fire of godly love, full of great secrets and spiritual instructions. Herein may we learn to know, what high honor, dignity, and power, Christ by his obedience and patience, hath obtained with his Father, wherein consisteth our peace, joy, and welfare; what care and love Christ beareth towards those that are his, and how he committeth them unto his Father. First, he prayeth for his disciples, whom he did choose to publish his truth; afterward prayeth he for all such as should come to the faith by their preaching until the world’s end. And forasmuch as the disciples had a great weighty matter in hand, full of danger and adversity, (for they must needs procure to themselves great hatred of the world,) he first prayeth for them, that the Father will strengthen, comfort, and preserve them through his power, and defend them from all evil.
In this are we taught diligently, chiefly, and specially, to pray for those, unto whom is committed the preaching of the gospel; for a chargeable and great work carry they upon their shoulders, by means whereof, among all others, they have special need of the grace, help, and assistance of God.
But our prayer ought we to frame as Christ hath framed his. First, we must in our prayer to God make special mention of his own grace and mercy; whereby he choosing them to such an office, hath given them unto Christ his Son. Forasmuch then as they are the ministers of him and of his Son, and seeing the Son is so dear, worthy, and beloved unto the Father, our prayer must be, that he for his Son’s sake will defend and preserve them, as in him and by him they are worthy.
Secondly, considering that for his sake and his word, which they declare, they are persecuted of the world, it is requisite that God preserve them in his own work. For great need have they of his fatherly protection, while they yet live in the weak feeble flesh, and are mortal men.
Thirdly, their office serveth to many men’s health and welfare; their office is necessary and profitable to the whole world, which walketh in blindness and darkness; for they are the light of the world, that through doctrine and living must shine to many men’s life; which without the assistance and help of God cannot come to pass.
Thus ought we to pray for the ministers of the word, and to desire, that God through his holy name and power will defend, strengthen, comfort; and preserve them in all adversity; but principally that he will give them grace to be one, coupled together in the band of peace, love, and uniformity; that they may be of one spirit, and of one mind; that in one spirit they may further and plant the honor of God; that like as Christ neither spoke nor did anything, but that which was acceptable and wellpleasing unto the Father, they also in their sayings and doings may have respect unto God’s glory; and that they, being rooted and fortified in love, ] be not vanquished nor overcome of the pleasures or threatenings of this world. Secondly, that in all their labor and travail, in all adversity and persecutions, he will put into their hearts his own comfort and spiritual joy. For the world hath manifold mirths, pastimes, and pleasures; much bragging and willfulness useth it in the riches and fleshly voluptuousness thereof. But the true ministers of Christ, seeing he hath severed them: from the world, must and ought to refrain and absent themselves from all worldly joy and voluptuousness; yea, it is they that ought to dissuade the world from such wantonness and vanity; by means of whose faithful admonition there falleth much hatred and trouble upon them; neither were it to the furtherance of God’s honor and our commodity, to have them utterly taken away out of this world. Therefore doth Christ desire, and so must we with him, that from evil, namely, from the devil the prince of this world, who stirreth the world against them, they may of the Father in the world be defended and kept.
Thirdly, that he will sanctify and cleanse them afore other men, that they may be holy and pure vessels in the house and temple, that is, in the church of God: for they are means and instruments, by whom God ministereth his grace and truth unto men; therefore is it also convenient, that they be pure and holy. This cometh through the truth that God putteth in their mouth and heart by the Holy Ghost, which inwardly purifieth them. But then are they holy, when they teach truth, and live godly. Into the world hath Christ sent them, as the Father sent him into the world. The Father sent Christ into the world, that he should destroy the kingdom of the devil and of the world; that he should declare unto the world the grace and mercy of God towards mankind; that he should bring men from sin and from false idolatrous faith to the true living God, and to a virtuous conversation; that he with the light of truth should shine upon those which sat in darkness; that he should bring the knowledge of God into the world, and exhort men to the amend-merit of life. Even this hath Christ given in commission to his apostles, and to all ministers of the word to do. This is their office, this is their ministration, unto this have they great need of the grace, power, and assistance of God. Therefore ought we most earnestly to pray for them: for if they fail or fall, it hurteth the whole church; yea, out of the same there groweth slander unto the name of God in the sight of the unbelievers, and an occasion of falling to such as are weak of faith. Therefore Christ also offered himself to the Father for them, and sanctified them, that they might be pure and holy, not in outward appearance, but from the heart, and in the truth; that through their uniformity and love, through the word of truth which they preach, through the holiness of their doctrine and living, all men and the whole world might know and understand, that God hath sent them; yea, that God sent his Son Christ into the world, unto whom they with mouth and life bear record, and who also everywhere shineth out of them with words and deeds.
Not only for them hath Christ prayed, but also for us, as many as hearken and believe the word of truth preached by them. Wherein first we may perceive and see the love, faithfulness, and great care of Christ for us, how earnestly the trusty Shepherd of our souls committeth his poor sheep into his Father’s protection, how faithfully our Mediator and Advocate prayeth for us; whereby also he setteth forth a doctrine unto us, how and what we shall pray of our heavenly Father.
First, that he will make us one by his holy Spirit in the truth, in the unity of faith, and in love unseparable, that we may all be of one mind, one body, and one spirit in Christ Jesu our Head, and to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; that we all being illuminated by his Spirit, may in word and deed, yea, in our whole life, seek and further the glory of our heavenly Father, that we may all be one among ourselves and with God; whereby all the world may spy, see, and perceive, that we are God’s children and Christ’s disciples. Secondly, that of his fatherly goodness he will defend, save, and preserve us his own poor sheep, which be in the midst among wolves and manifold dangers, and seeing we be yet in the world, do not live after the world; that it will please him to keep us from the evil, namely, from the prince of this world, that though the same our enemy doth tempt and plague us, he never yet have power to prevail against us.
Thirdly, that inasmuch as we, being in sin conceived and born, have hitherto lived in sin, and seeing that albeit we are cleansed already by his word and faith, yet the uncleanness of the flesh and of the world doth daily defile us, it will please him through his truth to purge and sanctify our bodies, our souls, and our whole lives, that we may become an holy temple; of his grace, pure, clean, and holy vessels, consecrated and sanctified to God’s own use. He hath once purified and hallowed us through the blood of his Son, and unto the Father hath Christ sanctified and offered up himself an holy acceptable sacrifice for our sins; but the devil, the world, and our flesh, is ever busy to lead us away again from God and from true holiness. Therefore must we daily pray unto him, that through his holy Spirit, and through his holy truth, he will continually purge, cleanse, and sanctify us, that we be not dissembling hypocrites, but godly and unfeigned even from our hearts, and that we be not stained in the filthiness of this world, but to refrain from all uncleanness, through the assistance of his grace; that we may also offer up our bodies an holy acceptable sacrifice to God the Lord, as he offered up himself upon the cross for bur sakes. John 17:24-26 Father, I will, that they which thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may see my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the making of the world. O righteous Father, the world also hath not known thee, but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
After that Christ had committed his unto the Father, that he will care for them, defend, and keep them, while they live in the world; he desireth now that it will please the finally also to save them, and to take them to himself into his kingdom. With the which prayer, he giveth a great consolation to his disciples, and all faithful believers, that we might be the more cheerful to serve him, considering the high reward that is prepared for us; that for his sake we should joyfully and stoutly bear all adversity, seeing he will make us, yea, hath made us already, partakers of his glory and of his kingdom.
Oh the great grace and incomprehensible love of God towards us, who through his mercy and great love, whereas we were children of wrath and damnation, hath made us his own children, elect and beloved; and when we were dead in sin, hath with his Son raised us up from death, revived us, and made us sit with him among those of heaven in Christ Jesu; to declare unto the ages to come the riches of his grace in kindness and love to us ward, through Jesus Christ.
Forasmuch now as God hath caused the light of his glory, even Christ, to shine into our hearts, and through the light of faith hath kindled and purified our hearts; it is meet that in this time we live as children of light, to the intent that men may see the brightness of those good works which proceed of faith, to the praise of our heavenly Father.
And though we be not as yet bodily with Christ, yet our hearts and minds are always above, there as Christ sitteth at the right hand of God: our conversation and being is in heaven; albeit we are in corporal misery, with heart we desire to die, and to be with Christ. We are sure, if this earthly house were fallen and broken down, that we have one everlasting in heaven. We are dead, but our life is reserved with Christ in God. It is not evident yet what we be: but when Christ our life shall show himself, then shall we also appear with him in glory; even when we shall rise up, and be taken up in the air, and be with him for ever, and see his honor and glory, which the angels delight to see and behold.
Oh, how great pleasure and joy is it, to behold the eternal light that never quencheth, in the which no darkness hath place; from the which shall be expelled and cast out all they that would not receive and know the light which God hath sent into the world to illuminate them, but are blinded by the prince of this world, lest the light of the gospel should shine upon them. No wrong doth the righteous Father unto them, when he plagueth them, and taketh the light front them. A righteous and just judgment is it, seeing the gracious Father so mercifully sent them the light of the truth, and they yet so maliciously and stubbornly have despised and refused it.
Yea, reason it is, that they perish in untruth, in lies, and in everlasting blindness; forasmuch as they would receive darkness rather than the light, lies rather than the truth. And considering that they have forsaken the brightness of the truth and of the Son of God, they must needs be cast into utter darkness, and never enjoy the light.
O gracious Father, grant unto us, which through thy Son have known thy name, that in such knowledge and light of the truth we may increase more and more; that the love wherewith thou lovest thy dear Son may be and remain in us; and that thy only-begotten Son Jesus Christ our head, may in us his members, continue still, work, live, and bring forth fruit acceptable unto thee. John 18:1, 2 <431801>, Matthew 26:36-39 , Mark 14:32-36 , Luke 22:39-42 And when Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples, as he was wont, over the brook Cedron, unto mount Olivet, into a village called Gethsemane, where as was a garden, into the which Jesus went with his disciples. Judas now, who betrayed him, knew also the place: for Jesus used oft to come thither with his disciples. Jesus said unto his disciples, Sit ye here till I go yonder and pray. And he took unto him Peter and the two sons of Zebede, and began to be heavy and sorry. And a fear and terror came upon him.
O Father, unto thee are all things possible; take this cup from me; howbeit not my will, but thy will be done.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.
After that Jesus hath established his disciples in faith and love, comforting and strengthening them against adversity and trouble to come in this world, promising also unto them the Spirit, love, defense, and protection of his Father; he goeth now to meet his traitor and enemies, and beginneth the work of our redemption. Awake up now, O thou faithful and devout soul, and go after thy Redeemer; follow his footsteps; gather up diligently the drops of his blood, and sprinkle them with a true faith in thine heart: take up the bundle of myrrh, and lay it at thy breast, O thou noble bride and spouse of Christ; his passion that he suffereth for thee, write then in thy mind; learn to die from all sin, from thyself, and from the world, that thou mayest be crucified unto the world, and the world unto thee.
Death is ugsome, and very terrible unto the flesh; but joyful and welcome is it unto all such as are instructed in the secret science of God, namely, that death unto faithful believers is an end of all trouble, an entrance into a better and eternal life.
Christ, in that he goeth forth to meet death, declareth that he will suffer, not of compulsion, but willingly; whereby he comforteth us. But whereas he is heavy, and trembleth before his disciples, and confesseth how he feareth death; the same is done for our wealth, to declare unto us the weakness and feebleness that our flesh receiveth at the sight of adversity: for in all things, sin except, it was his good pleasure to become like unto us his brethren; he would take upon a true man, who felt our adversity in his own flesh, and so could have compassion on us. Besides this, he showeth also to whom our weakness ought to resort for comfort and help in adversity, namely, to our Father in heaven, before whom we must fall down with devout and fervent prayer, and unto him disclose and open our anguish and trouble.
To this prayer, he seeketh and chooseth out a place meet and convenient for the same; for prayer is a lifting up of the mind in God, which among the multitude of men and confusion of worldly matters cannot well be done. Therefore Christ showeth us, what great diligence we ought to use in prayer, when the enemy falleth in, that the mind may cleave unto God constantly and without shrinking: and what gesture the body ought to show in prayer, Christ also declareth, in that he falleth down to the earth upon his face, and prayeth with the voice and words. God hath no need of our prayer: but unto us is nothing more profitable and better, than oft and fervently to pray. And the greater the adversity is; the more ardent and earnest should the prayer be; as we see here in Christ our head, whose passion is very great in body and in mind: for the which cause also, as a very true man, he showeth the same his passion and heaviness to his disciples.
The strongest of all is weak; and the comforter of all hearts hath need of comfort himself: he that expelleth all terror and fear, doth himself fear and tremble. But all this cometh to pass for our learning; that when we be in temptations, we should not doubt in the help of God; and that none of us, being in danger and adversity, and feeling himself loath to suffer, or pensive and slow to tame the motions and wickedness of the flesh, should therefore shrink and be faint hearted; but with a constant faith to resort unto God, complaining to him of his trouble, with hearty prayer that he will bring the hard and painful beginning to a blessed and joyful end; that in all adversity we may consider, as well the excellent and great fruit which proceedeth thereof, as also the gracious good-will of our heavenly Father, to whom we ought wholly and perfectly to give over and offer up ourselves; that neither through the multitude of sins, neither through the greatness of adversity, we despair nor fall away; but with his help and assistance manfully to go through. Matthew 26:40,41, Mark 14:37, 38 , Luke 22:45, 46 Jesus came again to his disciples, and found them sleeping. Then said he unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? Couldest thou not watch with me one hour? Watch ye, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
DOCTRINE AND FRUIT.