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FIRST for the ground and argument of my sermon, I shall desire you, christian audience, to give ear unto a few words which I will recite to you out of St. Paul, written unto the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 5. The words are these, For Christ, therefore, or in Christís name, we come to you as messengers, even as God himself desiring you. We pray you, for Christís sake, that you will be reconciled unto God. For him which knew no sin, God hath made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God by him, etc. 2 Corinthians 5.
In this parcel of scripture here is brought unto you, christian audience, a high message from a high and mighty Prince, of a high matter and weighty importance. Concerning the which message, I have to notify three things unto you, by order of the letter as it lieth.
First , Beginning with Him who is the sender of this message.
Secondly , To speak of them which are the messengers.
Thirdly , To show what is the message itself here sent unto us. 1. As touching the first, St. Paul, to prepare and stir up the minds of the Corinthians to more attention, expresses first the person and author of this message, in whose name he cometh; saying, In the name of Christ we come as ambassadors, etc. In the name, saith he, of Christ. Wherein we see the words of Christ our Savior rightly accomplished, wherein he, prophesying before of this his apostle and messenger, speaketh to Ananias in this wise, saying, Go to him, for he is an elect vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and before the children of Israel, Acts 9.
In like manner, the other apostles also, whensoever they come, either showing whose servants they are, or to teach any doctrine, or to work miracles, they ever bear the name of Christ before them. With him they begin, and with him they end. Now, if messengers or ambassadors which come from earthly princes and potentates in this world, are commonly esteemed and reputed according to the estate and place of those who send them; and especially if the matter bring with it any face of temporal commodity, men are wont right gladly to receive them. How much more then ought we to be moved with this heavenly and most joyful legation, directed unto us, not from any earthly prince or lord, but from the King of kings, and Prince of all princes, especially touching such a benefit here sent and offered unto us by him, of such special and singular effect, that without it no earthly thing in all the world can make us happy, and having it, nothing can make us miserable.
I remember about the beginning of queen Maryís reign, anno 1554, there was a certain message sent, not from heaven, but from Rome; not from God, but from the pope; not by an apostle, but by a certain cardinal who was called cardinal Pole, a legate from the popeís own white side, sent hither into England.
This cardinal legate first coming to Dover, was honorably received and brought to Greenwich; where he again being more honorably received by lords of high estate, and of the privy council, of whom some are yet alive, was conducted from thence to the privy stairs of the queenís court at Westminster; no less a person than king Philip himself waiting upon him and receiving him, and so was brought to the queenís great chamber, she then being, or else pretending to be, not well at ease. Stephen Gardiner, the bishop of Winchester and lord chancellor of England, receiving this noble legate in the king and the queenís behalf, to commend and set forth the authority of this legate, the greatness of his message, and the supreme majesty of the sender, before the public audience of the whole parliament at that time assembled, there openly protested, with great solemnity of words, what a mighty message and of what great importance was then brought into the realm ó even the greatest message, said he, that ever came into England; and therefore desired them to give attentive and inclinable ears to such a famous legation, sent from so high authority.
Well, and what message was this? Forsooth, that the realm of England should be reconciled again unto their father the pope; that is to say, that the queen with all her nobility, and sage council, of so many learned prelates, discreet lawyers, worthy commons, and the whole body of the realm of England, should captive themselves, and become underlings to an Italian stranger and friarly priest sitting in Rome, who never knew England, never was here, never did or shall do England good! And this, forsooth, said Gardiner, was the greatest embassage, the weightlest legacy that ever came to England! ó forgetting belike either this message of God sent here by his apostles unto us, or else because he saw it made not so much for his purpose as did the other, he made the less account thereof.
Well then, and will ye see what a weighty message this was that Gardiner so exquisitely commendeth? First, the sender is gone, the messenger is gone, the queen is gone, and the message gone, and yet England not a rush the better. Of which message I may say, answering again to Gardiner, that this was the lightest and most trifling legacy of all legacies or messages that ever came or shall come to England, namely, that we should be reconciled again to the pope. But let the pope with his reconciliation go, as they are already gone, (God be thanked,) and I beseech God so may they be gone, that they may never come here again. England never fared better than when the pope did most curse it; and yet I hear whispering of certain privy reconcilers, sent of late by the pope, which secretly creep in corners. But this I leave to them that have to do withal. Let us again return to our matter.
We then, having this legation sent to us, not from the pope, but even from our Lord and God; not by any cardinal of Rome, but by the elect vessel of Christ the apostle St. Paul, and other apostles; let us attend with reverence, first to Him that sendeth, then to the messengers that are sent unto us; remembering how Rahab the harlot received the messengers of Moses, and was preserved, Joshua 2:6; remembering also the words of our Savior, He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me, etc. Luke 10.
Wherefore, considering with ourselves, good christian audience, the high majesty of this our supreme Prince, the sender of this message, being not only our Head and King anointed, but who also of love gave his life and blood, as this day, to be spent for our redemption; let us, for our parts, if we are his subjects, mark what our Prince requireth; let the flock hear what the Pastor teacheth; the body what the Head speaketh; the spouse what the spouse sendeth. And thus much touching the Sender of the message. 2. Now, what the messengers are, and who they are, the apostle proceeding further in the letter, thus inferreth; We, saith he, are sent as messengers, etc., speaking not of himself alone, nor of Peter alone, nor of any apostle, one more than another; but jointly joining them all in one office and calling together, without difference of degree or singularity of person, he saith, We are sent as messengers or apostles. For so signifieth the name of apostles, as much to mean as a messenger or a legate sent.
Where is to be noted by the way, that this nominative, We, in the plural number is not here to be expounded after the style of Rome. For, the swelling style of the court of Rome, useth commonly, when any mandate, brief, or sentence is given, thus to say, Nos Willielmus pro tribunali sedentes, etc. Nos Edmundus, Roberto Cluney literato, etc. We, William, etc.
So the bishop of Rome, directing forth his precepts or bulls, never speaketh in other number, but Mandamus, we command; Statuimus, we appoint; Ordinamus, we order; et Volumus, we will. And although he be but one singular person that speaks, and such as will needs be singular alone above all others; yet disdains he to speak in the singular number, but always uses the plural, to express belike his regal priesthood. Who, because he seeth great kings and emperors use this trope of writing and speaking, lest he should seem in any point inferior to them, or not to speak as big as they, uses therefore the same regal or imperial phrase of speech, with his mandamus, et volumus, etc.; when as Christ in the gospel is content to say, A new command give I unto you, not, We give to you. But let the popeís style with the court of Rome pass, which as it is but puffed up with the wind of pride, so let it vanish away with the wind also.
This is certain, that St. Paul in these words, We come as messengers, etc. meaneth no such matter, to signify either himself alone, or Peter alone, or any other of the apostles singularly; but jointly comprehendeth the whole fellowship of the blessed apostles together, and declareth, that they, all together joined in one commission, are sent in the behalf and name of Christ, as legates or messengers, and not only to these Corinthians to whom here he writeth, but inclusively to all others, wheresoever either collected or dispersed in the whole world, according as it was enjoined them by the Lordís own special commission, saying, Go into the whole world, and preach this gospel or glad message to every creature.
Well, and what shall we then say? Did this message of the apostles cease with the end of the apostles? Or did the preaching thereof extend no further, but during the continuance of their time? Yes, verily; for He which then set them on work, and sent them on this message, putting in their mouth the word of reconcilement, is the same Lord which liveth still, and ceaseth not to send messengers into his church from time to time. Some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some teachers and instructors; some with one gift, some with another, and all for the edifying of his people, to have the message of his gospel continued in the world, which still shall be continued, so long as his church shall endure; for He cannot, and will not totally and finally forsake his church, which is his kingdom.
But as it then happened in the apostlesí time, there crept in with them certain false apostles and sinister teachers, which, confounding together the law with the gospel, Moses with Christ, manís merits with mercy, confidence in works with Godís free grace and promises, labored to pervert the course of this blessed message, sent to us by the mouth of the apostles. So hath there not lacked since that time in the church, some false catholics and false teachers, not sent of God to do his message; but creeping in craftily, to lead a loitering lifts, some impudent, some negligent, some ignorant and blind, having a zeal of God, but not after knowledge, as St. Paul saith, Romans 10. Some preaching themselves, some preaching for benefices and promotions; some teaching before they have learned; some speaking that they know not, nor having experience whereof they speak; some also plain enemies to the cross of Christ, and subverters of his heavenly message; of which sort we have had heretofore too much experience of late years, when the pope had the leading of this church of England.
But, blessed be the God of all consolation, and Father of our Lord Jesus, who hath visited us from on high with such mercy and grace, and hath raised up such ministers and messengers of his holy grace and gospel to his church, which so constantly accord and tune in one string together, to set forth the lively message and truth of Christís gospel unto you; which you daily do hear, and which, as it doth me good to see, so do I most heartily rejoice from the bottom of my heart and soul, and praise God with my hearty thanks therefore. And yet, nevertheless, to speak the simple truth touching the present state of this our ministry, if I should say that nothing therein were amiss, I should indeed blanch and flatter too much. For who seeth not that many this day enter into the ministry, not as Godís messengers sent of any message from him, but winding in themselves by hook or crook, or by some compound way, parting half stakes, as it were, between their patrons and them, and having either no art to find them, or no mind to labor, make a trade of living of the ministry, more to live at ease than to labor in Godís message.
Many other abuses might be here recited, but I am not at this time to complain of any, but only to preach Christ Jesus crucified unto you. And if there be any thing in them further to be complained of, I leave it to the ministers themselves, or to their patrons that receive them, or to their bishops which induct them, to look upon it. But to our purpose; they that will be the true messengers of God, let them well consider what their office is, whose messengers they are, and do their message faithfully.
But they which allotted those offices to the ministry, thought belike to bring in the Aaronical or Levitical priesthood again, with their praying for the sins of the people, and offering continual sacrifice for the same. As for prayer, which they call Orare, I take that office as common to all christian men, and not only appropriate to the ministry to pray, I mean for sins. And as touching Sacrificare, if they mean thereby to sacrifice Christís body for sin, that office only appertaineth to Christ, and to none other. But we which are entered now into the new testament, and are passed from shadows to the body, from legal significations to spirit and truth, following the direction of Christís commission in his gospel, do say, with St. Paul, that the principal office of the ministers of the new testament is, to labor in the word and doctrine, 1 Timothy 5, that is, By word and doctrine to do Godís message, and to preach to the people, the word which God hath put in their mouths, or which he hath left unto them by his apostles. Although, beside this, divers other duties are incident to the order of ministers, as, to minister the sacraments, to pray, to offer thanksgiving, to reprove, to comfort, to lay on hands, to excommunicate, etc., yet the principal end which chiefly concerns the ministers of the new testament is, by preaching repentance, and the glad message of the gospel, to bring all men to the obedience of Christís faith, for remission of sins. 3. And thus much concerning the function of ministers, whose office is, as you have heard, to be messengers or ambasadors of Christ in dispensing the mysteries of his word. Now, touching the message that is sent by them unto us, let us consider what followeth, by the text. The words are these; Even as God, desiring you by us, we pray you, for Christís sake, or in Christís behalf, that you will be reconciled unto God, etc.
Here now cometh in the joyful message and glad tidings of the gospel, which St. Paul calleth the word of reconcilement. Wherein is to be explained unto you in order and distinctly, first, what this reconcilement is, between whom it is, by whom it cometh, with all such things, as well going before, as which follow after it. But first, forsomuch as the preaching of reconciliation imports a variance or division between God and us going before, let us something entreat of the same, and put you in remembrance of that miserable thraldom wherewith we were once oppressed, lying under the grievous wrath of God, which in my mind is much needful of all christian men thoroughly to be considered, and let us compare the same to the state which we are now called unto. For else how shall we rejoice at Godís grace, if we feel not before his judgment? Or, what thanks can they give for the gift, which never understand what lack they had? What passeth he for heaven, which feeleth no hell? Or, who careth for the physician but he that is sick?
And though I know there are a good sort of godly mourning souls in Sion, who lie groaning under the fear of Godís heavy indignation: and need rather with boldness to be refreshed,than with more fear to be dejected; yet, notwithstanding, forsomuch as the greater sort commonly have their cogitations otherwise occupied; some not touched with any sorrow, some not examining their consciences nor feeling their wound, some not tasting any hell, some not caring for any God; to help, therefore, such senseless souls, and to rouse them a little out of their careless sleep of security, let us enter into some consideration of our damnable and cursed state, wherein all we once did, and do stand by nature, all such, I say, as are not yet reconciled in Christ. For what can be more grievous and horrible than the creature to be sundered and parted from the grace and good will of his Creator and Maker? to lack his protection, to sustain his wrath, to be outlawed from our own country of paradise where we were first created; to be severed from him, without whom nothing can do us good, and we are good for nothing? For if all goodness be in him, what can be without him but that which is evil? If life leave us, what remaineth but death? If God forsake us, what receiveth us but the devil, author of all mischief, and fountain of all calamity? Of whose miserable dominion over us we have felt and tasted too much already.
Now take a man in all his abundance of riches, treasures, and pleasures, flourishing in his most felicity, bravery, and prosperity; let him be, if ye will, another Polycrates of this world, what is he of himself but a carcase, a caitiff, a subject of Satan, a prey to death; rejoicing and laughing in this world, but yet as one that laugheth in his dream, and waketh in sorrow, fraught full of fears and cares of mind, blind in soul, not knowing today what will happen tomorrow, void of all inward rest and peace of conscience, mortal, mutable, miserable, wrapped in wretchedness, prone to all wickedness, whose beginning is in travail, his standing uncertain, his end is corruption; briefly, as one living in death, and dead being alive. For how is he alive that is dead to God? Let the dead, saith our Savior, go bury the dead, etc. Matthew 8, speaking of them which lived, and yet were dead to God. And how can we be else but dead to God, except we are brought and reconciled by Christ to God?
And yet for all this, such is our dulness, that either we feel not what it is to lack the Lord, or our wilfulness is such that we care not for that we lack.
But howsoever it be, that either we will not or cannot see, the end of all things declareth what a miserable thing it is for the creature to be divided from the Creator; in whom, as every thing hath its being, so not to be in him is to be indeed nothing; whom once we had, but afterwards lost him, and in losing him have lost with him all things. By creation first we had him, by transgression afterward we lost him, and all through the means of our great progenitor Adam; who, by his disobedient presumption, brought this woeful division between God and us. Whereupon hath ensued all this rueful ruin of the whole creature and nature of man, being secluded from Godís favor and protection, and given over to death and to him that hath power of death, that is, to Satan, who ever since hath had dominion over us.
And thus may you see, good christian audience, the sorrowful state and condition of mankind, fallen from his original happiness wherein he was first planted, not into a peck of troubles, but into a hell full of all miseries, into utter desolation and destruction, death and damnation, and all through the transgression of one. Out of whose root first springeth this public infection of our nature, which we call original sin, prone to all corruption, destitute of grace and righteousness, and void of all goodness; which original canker hanging in our flesh, draweth us from God and all goodness. Whereof St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, complaineth thus, and saith, That he knoweth and feeleth that in him; that is to say, in his flesh, there is no goodness dwelling. And again, where he saith, I see another law in my members, rebelling against the law of my mind, captiving me, Romans 7. And this original sin is called, sin dwelling or lurking in us, etc. Whereby we have to understand, that beside our outward actions which break out into open sin, there lurketh also inwardly, in the bottom of our nature, a secret fomes, a breeder of sin, an original infection, or, as we may call it, a secret sparkle of the serpentís seed, infecting our nature, and drawing us from all heavenly disposition to all earthly concupiscence.
Which lurking infection in us, although it seem but a small matter to many, and especially to the papists, who use too much to extenuate it, and to make light thereof; yet we must understand that in Godís sight it appeareth a mighty matter, passing all other sins; who not only looketh upon our outward and manifest transgressions which we daily commit against his law, but also considereth the person especially, and the crooked nature, inwardly infected within us, out of which issue forth these outward transgressions, and so punisheth the same with no less penalty than the outward sins committed against the law. Like as if a mighty hunter chasing the wild wolf, and happening upon the wolfís den, findeth there the young wolflings, which as yet never did any raven; yet because of the same nature lurking in them, he useth them no otherwise than he doth the old. Even so let every man repute himself, as touching his first birth and outward man, as he originally descendeth of Adam, to be execrable unto God, and not only his outward evil doings, but also his inward nature and very person, before he begin to work, to be odious unto him.
Which being well expended and weighed in our minds, let us then cast with ourselves in what a miserable perplexity and wretched case we sinful creatures were and yet are, so many as are not yet reconciled again in Christ. For what can be more miserable than for man to be under the heavy displeasure and wrath of his God? As I said, the creature to be divided from his Creator; the pot or vessel to be displeasant or in hatred with the potter? For what are we else, but as earthen pots in the hands of our God, who formed and created us?
Now, if variance and debate breed such dangers and mischiefs amongst the creatures themselves, wheresoever it cometh, what is to be thought of that discord which is between the seely F30 creature and the Creator himself? In a commonwealth we see what a woeful state there is, where the prince with his nobles, or the nobles with the commons, cannot agree. What a hell is in that house where the husband and wife live together in continual jar!
Or who can abide to live in that city, where the citizens, through civil dissention, are dissevered in sides among themselves, one fighting against another? The harmony of music may teach us, what an amiable thing to nature it is to tune in one agreement of concord, and how contrary to nature discord soundeth. In the body, both of man and beast, where the elemental qualities and humors do not concord together in due proportion and conveniency, life there cannot consist. Briefly, if the wrath of an earthly king in this earth, be death, as the wise king speaketh in the scripture, what is it then to be under the wrath of the almighty King of all kings, and God of all creatures!
And under this wrath of our Lord and God, all we mortal wretches for sin in us, (which God created not, but hateth in us,) were woefully wrapped; and, as the scripture speaketh, We were by nature the children of wrath, etc., Ephesians 2, enemies to God, divided and sundered from him; and so continued a long time, ever since this sinful nature first took place in us.
For sin, by nature, gendereth wrath and provoketh judgment; judgment by law ministereth death and damnation: with death entereth the devil, and with him heaps of infinite miseries and calamities. And in this wretched condition lieth man by nature, that is, all we that are Adamís children. Let no man flatter himself, or think better of himself, that is, of his own original nature, than is here declared. Neither is here declared any other thing than the scripture itself concludeth, which concludeth us altogether to be under sin. All our mouths are stopped, and we destitute of the glory of God, standing all at his mercy and grace, Romans 3. We have all gone astray, saith the prophet Isaiah, every man in his own wicked way, Isaiah 53.
And are all unprofitable servants, saith Christ, yea, when we have done the best we can, Luke 17. And if our best doings are unprofitable in the sight of God to salvavation, where then shall our evil deeds become?
These premises, thus considered and concluded by the scriptures, as you have heard; what shall we say, good christian audience and beloved brethren? Shall we now despair, or is there no remedy, no hope nor help to be had? No, truly, in ourselves, in ourselves, I say, none, none at all. For the just judgment of God must needs have its course. Godís sentence once pronounced must needs proceed. And as none of us all was ever born, Christ only excepted, or is now living, that carrieth not the wound of original sin about him; so is there none of us all that possibly in himself can avoid the sentence of Godís terrible justice; but death and condemnation will needs proceed against us, under which sentence and malediction we all, every motherís son, as touching ourselves, should have perpetually continued, had not a certain dear good Friend of ours, our singular good Lord and only patron, a mighty Captain, stepped in between, who, to keep off the blow from us, bare the stroke of Godís heavy wrath, and so delivered us from death, being for us slain himself, and thereby slew all enmity between God and us, pacifying by the blood of his cross all things, both in heaven and earth, and so hath purchased this blessed and happy reconciliation between his heavenly Father and us earthly creatures.
And as he hath purchased it, so hath he sent tidings of the same here by his apostle St. Paul, and by all his other apostles, all about, throughout the whole world, to every creature. Whereof Isaiah thus speaketh, marveling and rejoicing at the coming of these messengers; How fair, saith he, are the feet upon the mountains of him that bringeth tidings, and preacheth peace, bringeth tidings of good things, and preaeheth salvation, saying to Sion, Thy God shall reign, etc. Isaiah 52. Which prophecy you see here verified by the preaching of these apostles; and not only by them, but by others also, whom Christ our Savior ceaseth not, continually, from time to time, to stir up in his church to be his messengers and legates apostolical.
Whereby all mourning souls, wheresoever you are, or whatsoever you are, that labor and are burdened, may note for your comfort, how not only the Lord offereth himself ready to be reconciled to you, if you be willing; but also lovingly and most gently sendeth forth his servants to entreat you to be reconciled unto him. As though they said, In God there is no hindrance, but you may boldly come and be reconciled whosoever desireth to be at peace with him, only let there be no stay in you. Be you willing to be reconciled, and you shall speed; come, and you shall be received; hold out your hand to take what he will give, and you shall have. What more can you desire? And yet, moreover, to encourage you to come to him, not only he offereth himself ready at your suits to be entreated, but also sendeth abroad his messengers to entreat you to come and be reconciled to him.
And further, lest ye should think those messengers to come in their own name, and so regard them the less, mark what St. Paul addeth moreover, and how he not only prayeth them, but also in a manner adjureth them, We pray you, saith he, for Christís sake ó as though he would say, As you love Christ, and will do any thing for his cause which hath so dearly bought you, we pray you, not for ourselves, but in the name of Christ, that you will be reconciled unto God.
And yet, neither is this also enough, which notwithstanding is so much as may make us all to marvel at his mercies. But mark, moreover, the speech of the Holy Ghost, and consider the exceeding tenderness of the unspeakable benignity of our God. We were the offenders, and he the party that was offended; we his creatures, and he our Maker; we the first breakers from him, and yet all this notwithstanding, such is the passing, and more than fatherly richness of his grace, that he not only offereth and sendeth unto us, yea, adjureth us in his own Sonís name; but also, which is more than all that can be most, even the same God prayeth us, even himself, even us, I say, such miserable and damnable wretches, that we will come and be agreed with him ó for so the tenor of our text in plain words purporteth, where he saith; Even as God himself praying you by us, we pray you for Christís sake that you will be reconciled unto God, etc. Here is offending, and yet here is praying, and praying again. Oh gentleness! Oh kindness! Man first began the division, and God beginneth first the reconciliation! God prayeth, Christ prayeth, and the apostle prayeth! Man offendeth and hath forfeited his soul to the devil, and yet is prayed! He that should pray to be forgiven, is prayed to be content to be forgiven! What should we here say or think, well beloved Corinthians here of London, but cry out with the words of Nazianzen, ďOh the readiness of Godís gracious love! Oh the easiness of his exorable reconcilement!Ē
Although it be not in my utterance, nor in any mortal tongue to express the fullness of these deep and profound mysteries of spiritual things; yet by that, as I could declare, somewhat you heard, and more may conceive with yourselves, first of the horrible wrath of God, and his strict severity against sin, with all such penalties, pains, and punishments due for the same, declared unto you. After that, you heard again of the singular and superabundant greatness of his fatherly tenderness toward us; who so willingly, so kindly, not only offereth his reconciliation, but also inviteth us, yea, prayeth us to be reconciled to him.
Now, what this reconciliation is, and what great things come thereof, it followeth likewise to be considered. Which, albeit it cannot so amply be described to you as it is in itself, yet by similitudes and examples partly it may be conceived. For, as we see in a worldly government, when any subject is under the indignation and displeasure of his prince, his state is miserable, his mind unquiet, fraught full of fear and dread, his heart out of comfort, in his life no safety, but he, living like a dead man; briefly, no calamity lacketh where the wrath of a prince hangeth. But if the trespass be pardoned, and the displeasure removed, then fear departeth, hope reviveth, comfort cometh, and life beginneth to look up. Even so, or rather much more than so, it is between God and man. For so long as we were under wrath, there was nothing in man but death, dread, damnation, hell, malediction, the tyranny of Satan, unquietness; in sum, all the miseries of hell were heaped upon the poor soul of man. But after it pleased the goodness of our God to turn from us his wrath, and to receive us again to favor, now all is turned, our fear to hope, death to life, damnation to salvation, hell to heaven, malediction to blessing; the power of Satan dissolved; care to comfort; and, in sum, all the felicities, so many as paradise can hold, do now belong to man.
But what should I set forth the high amplitude of this heavenly reconciliation of our Lord, by earthly similitudes, which by no comparison of man can be expressed? For in manís agreement, though the prince be reconciled ever so well with the subject, yet it may happen that the agreement may break off again shortly after. Again, the reconcilement that is between man and man, is commonly but for that one trespass which bred the variance, which being forgiven agreement cometh. So is it not between God and us. Neither is his reconciliation so variable or inconstant as altereth by days or times, but is the receiving of mankind into the eternal favor and mercy of God, even the same which Isaiah the prophet, chapter 54, speaketh of in these words, saying, For a little moment of time I have left thee, but in great mercies I will gather thee. In a moment of my indignation I have hid my face awhile from thee, but in my everlasting mercy I have pitied thee, saith the Redeemer thy Lord, etc.
This reconciliation now to be defined, is the receiving again of man into the perpetual favor of God, purchased by Christ to all them that by faith and repentance come unto him. Which eternal favor of God, as we showed before to be freely offered unto us, so now remaineth further to be explained what favor this is, how it is perpetual, by what cause it cometh, and to whom it belongeth. Touching the first, to declare what favor this is whereunto we are received, here is to be understood by the meaning of St.
Paul, this favor to be that which is contrary to the wrath and malediction which went before for sin. For, as that malediction did threaten unto us eternal rejection, under which we were, and should perpetually have continued had it not been stopped; so is this reconcilement a receiving again into eternal acceptation, which perpetually doth and shall continue, for Christís sake, to all faithful believers in him. And this favor I call perpetual in respect of time; for that God promiseth never to remember, nor to impute our sins any more for Christís sake, Jeremiah 31.
And hereof springeth the fountain of perpetual remission promised, Zechariah 13, where he saith, In that day shall be open to the house of David, and to the dwellers of Jerusalem, a fountain to the cleansing away of sin, etc.
Where note how the prophet saith, In that day, assigning not divers and sundry days when Christís body should be offered for sin; but signifying that one day should come, when that Lamb and sacrifice which was slain from the beginning of the world, in Godís determination, and afterward was offered actually once and no more, should suffice to purge away the sins and filthiness of all the dwellers in Jerusalem, that is, of all such as retain to him by faith. And thus have you the cause of remission of sins to be only the sacrifice of Christís body offered up to God, not every day, but in one appointed day, which we call Good Friday. For the which sacrifice sake, God hath assured his promise to all and singular persons that shall come or seek to his Son by faith, to give them free forgiveness, and never to remember nor impute their sins to them any more.
And herein standeth the difference between the popeís doctrine and ours.
For he holdeth that the sacrifice of Christís body, not one day, but every day is to be offered for sin. Contrary, we with the scriptures affirm remission of sins to be the effect only of one cause, that is, of Christís blood, our Savior, sacrificed once on Good Friday upon the cross, (and never else,) to take away all malediction of sin for ever, as well for them that were before his passion, as them that should follow after. And that is it that the scripture saith, The Lamb to be slain from the beginning of the world, (and so is he slain to the latter end,) meaning thereby the virtue and power of that sacrifice to extend universally to all times, to all men, and to all kinds of sins, from the beginning to the end of the world for ever. So that on Christís part, the cause only which worketh reconciliation and remission of sins, is his only death and blood-shedding once sacrificed actually, and never else, upon Good Friday. On our parts, the cause only that worketh this reconciliation and remission, and is of us required, is not to offer up this body again for a daily sacrifice to God, but only to believe faithfully and obediently upon him that was sacrificed for us, and so by faith to apply the merits of his passion to us. And to this faith God hath promised perpetual remission of our sins, according to the manifest testimony of the scripture; where it is in the Acts of the apostles thus expressed, That to him all the prophets bear witness, all men to receive remission of sins by him, whosoever believe in his name, etc., Acts 10.
Again, Acts 16. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and thy whole house, etc. Peter and Paul say not, Offer Christís body for a daily sacrifice to God; but only, Believe in him, and thou shalt be saved. And thus much hitherto concerning reconciliation, what it is, how it is perpetual, what is the only cause thereof, and to whom it belongeth; whereof more shall be said, Christ willing, anon.
Now as touching this reconciliation and favor of God aforesaid, as it reacheth to the free remission of all men, and to all times, as well before as after; so moreover, this is to be added, and worthy to be noted, that not only it reacheth to our sins, but extendeth to the acceptation of the nature and person also of man, so that through this reconcilement, not only our sins are done away, but also the person of man, which before was execrable unto God, is now accepted; which before was odious, is now beloved; which before was impure and unclean, is now purified, regenerated and changed as into another person; and as ye would say, made a new man in the sight of God; not because the new life of a man makes the man new in Godís sight, but because the man being first made new, and regenerated by reconciliation, brings forth afterward a new life.
And here cometh in that which we call regeneration, or new birth; not in being altered into any new bodily substance from that we were, but in being turned by reconciliation into a new state of favor and grace; as, who before were dead to God, damnable creatures, and children of wrath, but now are accepted, purged, and justified from the malediction, as well of original sin as actual; which before times were separated from God, but now restored again to grace and favor ó even the same favor of God wherein Adam stood before his fall in paradise.
Of this regeneration we read in many places in the scripture, which give us to understand this our new regenerate birth to be referred, not so much to the outward acts of life, as chiefly to the person and nature of man, altered and changed into a new state of grace and favor with God, by spiritual reconciliation; yea, before he begin to work any good action. Whereupon afterward follow the fruits of new life, which we call good works, and are called good, not so much for the worthiness of the action done, as for the worthiness of the person, the doer thereof, which is a faithful christian reconciled in Christ to God. And thereof take good works their goodness, being not only accepted for good, but also imputed in scriptures sometimes to merit; as where Christ our Savior saith, I was hungry, and ye fed me; I was in prison, and ye visited me; come, therefore, and possess the kingdom, etc., Matthew 25. Not that the value of the work deserveth that imputation, but that the work is so imputed for the faith of the person; for else, let an infidel do the same, and more too, and all is sin that he doeth. But let the christian do, be the thing ever so simple, if it be good it is accepted, and if it be otherwise, yet is it remitted; so that in a brief sum, the order of all this thus standeth; first, cometh Christ crucified and offered for us; with him cometh faith apprehending him; with faith ensueth reconciliation or justification through the promise; whereby man being reconciled unto God, which before was rejected, is made now a new creature, because he is set now in a new stock; and this is called regeneration. After regeneration of the person, which is accepted for his faith, followeth then the fruits of new obedience, which are accepted for the faithful person. But because our new obedience is always and in all men imperfect, and falleth many times into disobedience through frailty of flesh, for a remedy thereof followeth remission of sins. And thus have you the golden chain of our salvation; first, beginning with Christ; then cometh faith; then followeth reconciliation or justification; with it cometh regeneration; after which ensueth new obedience, or mortification with acceptation of good works; last of all cometh remission of sins, and maketh all sure.
Touching which remission of sins, here is further to be noted; first, that this remission is not only of all such sins as go before baptism, or regeneration; but also of such which a man repenteth him of with faith, from the beginning till the end of his life. Secondly, is to be understood, that this remission is not only for all actual sins which man committeth, but also for original sin which nature bringeth. Thirdly, neither must we think this remission of the new testament to be like to the remission of sins practiced in the old law, which stood by sacrifices. Wherein this difference there is, first, that remission which was by sacrifices, served not for all sins, nor for such as were to come, but only for such sins as were before the sacrifice; so that whensoever any new sin followed, new sacrifices were required.
Secondly, that remission stood only for actual sin, and not for original.
Thirdly, in that legal or temporal remission is moreover to be noted, that sacrifice for sin was then but a thing typical, so that albeit the crime for which the sacrifice was offered was done away, yet the person notwithstanding remained still under death and the penalty of original sin pronounced against Adam and all his posterity. Briefly, in one word to conclude, between this remission of the new testament and that of the old, so much difference there is, as is between temporal things and eternal. Of which difference let us hear what the prophet Jeremiah teacheth us, saying; Behold the days shall come, saith the Lord, and I shall make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah; not after the covenant that I made with their fathers when I brought them out of Egypt with strong hand, and they transgressed my covenant; but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; alter those days, saith the Lord, I will give my law within them, and in their heart I will write it, and I will be their God, and they my people, etc. For I will have mercy of their iniquities, and their sins I will never more remember, etc., Jeremiah 31.
By these words of the prophet, if they are well marked, we have to learn a manifest difference between the old covenant and the new; and what the grace is of the new testament, especially concerning remission of sins, which sins he saith shall never more be remembered; meaning that a day should come when God will set such a sacrifice for sin, which shall give a perpetual remedy for ever; so that, although sin shall need daily to be helped, yet no more sacrifices should be needed, but that one should serve and suffice for ever. Whereby we see remission of sins to stand otherwise now than it did then. For in the old law, though sins were purged after a sort, by sacrifices and blood of beasts, yet that remission lasted not for ever, but for certain times, so that new sins ever required new sacrifices.
Wherein appeareth the pernicious abuse of the daily sacrifice of the popeís mass, most false and contrary to all scripture, utterly subverting the truth of Godís covenant and testament. For if sin should need daily purgation by daily sacrificing, as it did before, what difference then make we between the new testament and the old, between the Christians and the Jews? Or, if Christís body, once sacrificed for sin, cannot serve except it be daily sacrificed for the purgation thereof where is then this everlasting reconciliation taught by the apostles? Or where is this never remembering of our sins any more, promised by the prophets? See Hebrews 10. How is that wound cured for ever, which every day needeth a new plaster? Briefly, how hath he made them perfect, with one oblation for ever, which are sanctified, if Christ, once offered, suffice not, but every day must be offered afresh? What perfection is in that which every day is new to begin?
If sin, (malediction F31 of sin I mean) be not once taken away for ever, how then hath Christ made us perfect for ever? Hebrews 10. Or, how hath he found out eternal redemption by once offering himself for us, Hebrews 9. For what is eternal redemption else, but eternal remission of sins? Now, where remission of sins is, and the same remission eternal, what needeth any more hosts F32 or oblations for sin? As the apostle plainly testifieth, saying,Where remission of sins is, there is no more oblation for sin, etc. Hebrews 10.
Let us reason now then with these sacrificing priests of the popeís law, after their own distinctions. A continual or daily sacrifice, say they, must ever remain in the church. For what purpose? I ask. For remission of sins, say they. So had the Jews in the old law, continual and daily sacrifices for remission of sin remaining amongst them also. What difference is now between the new testament and the old, if the danger of sin remain in both testaments alike, to be done away by continual reiteration of sacrifices? Or, if there must needs be a difference, let them show what difference it is, or wherein it consisteth else but only in the cause of remission; which in the new testament standeth one for ever, in the old testament it is daily repeated by renewing of sacrifices. Of the which cause, the apostle to the Hebrews, speaking of Christ Jesus crucified and consummated, addeth moreover and saith; Was made to all which obey him the cause of eternal salvation, etc., Hebrews 5. By the which words we are taught the cause of remission of sins to be the only body of Christ offered for us, and the same body to be once offered and never more, as in the same epistle followeth in these words declared; Now hath he once appeared in this latter consummation of the world, to the destruction of sin by his own oblation, etc., Hebrews 9.
Whereby we have to note, that as the once appearing of Christ is the only cause of destruction of sin, and remission not to be sought at any other cause but that alone, so is their doctrine vain which require any more appearings of Christ to remit sin, than only the same. And thus appeareth the true difference between remission in the old law and in the new; whereof the one, which stood by renewing of sacrifices, was temporal, the other is perfect and perpetual; perfect, I mean, as touching the cause of putting away sin, which once done standeth for ever.
But there come they with a blind distinction of bloody and unbloody, and say, that in the Jewsí law they offered the blood of goats and calves, and of other (livers sorts of beasts; but in the new law they offer continually one sacrifice and no more, which is the body of Christ, and that after an unbloody sort. Whereunto I answer, first, if they have the body of Christ, let them offer it. But they which read the scriptures do see and know that Christís body is not here to be offered; unless they mean the members of his mystical body here in earth, which they sacrifice every day, with such store of blood as is pitiful to see! But else the true body of Christ indeed, the scripture placeth to be in heaven and not in earth. Once it was in the hands of sinners, and was offered of them; but now he is out of their hands, and past all menís reach to be offered any more. Wherefore, where they say they offer the body of Christ, that is but a fantasy. For as the presence of the body here ceaseth, so ceaseth the offering thereof also.
Now, although his bodily presence were here; yet is he not to be offered to appease Godís wrath for sin any more. For, first, none can offer the body of Christ for sin to his Father, but himself; because in the new testament, to offer for sin requireth a priest which is immaculate, unpolluted, and segregated from sinners, as we read, Hebrews 7. For so it behooved that our Bishop for us should be holy, innocent, etc. And again, But the word of the oath which followeth after the old law, appointed his Son to be our perfect Priest for ever, etc. Secondly, by the types of the old law, Christ cannot be offered for sin, but it must be without the tents by the law, or else his sacrifice cannot answer to the law. Thirdly, whensoever Christ is offered for the pacifying of Godís wrath for sin, it must be upon the cross.
For so we read, Colossians 1. Pacifying all things by the blood of his cross, all things both in heaven and in earth, etc. Fourthly, it must be also with blood; for by the scripture, Without effusion of blood there is no remission, etc. Hebrews 9. Fifthly, where they say they offer no more sacrifices but one, which is the body of Christ; that is not enough, forasmuch as the scripture requireth not only the host to be one, but the time also to be one. For probation whereof, we have the plain words of scripture, Hebrews 7. where the apostle speaketh of offering for the sins of the people. For that, saith he, he hath done once, offering himself, Hebrews 7. Also, chapter 9, where the same apostle, comparing Christ entering with his sacrifice, with the high priest in the old law entering into the secret tabernacle once a year, at last concludeth and saith; So also Christ was once offered for the doing away the sins of many, etc. Again in the same chapter, excluding all offerings of Christ saving one, he saith, Not that he should offer himself at times as the high priest did; but once, for the doing away of sin, he appeared by his own oblation, etc., Hebrews 9. Sixthly, where they pretend to offer the body of Christ daily; I ask, To whom? They will say, To the Father. Wherefore? To pacify his judgment for sin.
Whereunto I answer with the gospel, that needeth not, for the gospel witnesseth. That the Father now judgeth no man any more, but hath given all judgment to his crucified Christ, John 5. Also, Hath given to him power of all flesh, John 17. Also, Hath given to him all power both in heaven and in earth, Matthew 28. Also, Christ now draweth all things to himself, John 12. Also, He hath appointed him Judge both of the quick and of the dead, Acts 10. Now, if they say, they offer Christís body, to Christ himself, for remission of sin, that is absurd and vain.
And thus much I thought necessary, having here to entreat of reconciliation, to speak against the sacrifice of the mass, for so much as these two cannot consist together, but one must needs destroy the other.
For if the reconciliation of Godís favor, purchased by Christ once for us, be perfect and perpetual, then this daily sacrificing for sin is superfluous.
And if the same must needs be continued in the church, as a necessary remedy for appeasing Godís wrath, and for expiation of sin from time to time, then must the sacrifice of Christís priesthood be imperfect, being of no more power and virtue to reconcile us unto God than the yearly and daily sacrifices of the Jews, which ever required new sacrifices to be done for sin. And where is then the killing of Godís wrath by the blood of Christ, spoken of Colossians 1? Where is the pacifying of all things, both in heaven and earth? Where is the difference between the old covenant and the new? or where is the never remembering of our sins any more? Where then are the goodly feet upon the mountains of them that bring us messages of peace, of good tidings and of salvation? Isaiah 52. Where is the day, or what day of Christ was it which Abraham saw and rejoiced? or where is the one oblation, and that once offered, which bringeth eternal redemption? Hebrews 9,10. Where is then captivity led away captive? Ephesians 4. Where is the breaking of the serpentís head? Genesis 3, the overthrow of death? the victory of hell? the hanging up of the handwriting? Isaiah 35. Where is the veil broken which separated us from God? the everlasting mirth upon the heads of them that are in Zion? or the confident dwelling of them in Jerusalem promised in Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 34, Zechariah 14? Or where is the eternal righteousness brought in, by the prophet Daniel, chapter 9, if this reconciliation be not eternal?
Briefly, to bring in any other sacrifices for sin, but only the oblation of Christís blood, and that once offered, taketh away the glad message and power of the gospel; casteth menís minds into a doubtful wavering of their salvation, and finally dissolveth the whole harmony of the scriptures, both prophetical and apostolical. For, if the prophetical lamb in the old law, once slain on the fourteenth day of the first month, and his blood sprinkled, loosed the whole congregation out of the thraldom of Egypt, so that they were never brought into the same again; so the blood of Christís cross, (to speak with the words of St. Paul,) once offered likewise on the fourteenth day of the said first month, dischargeth his whole universal church out of the bands of hell and of the devil, and that perpetually, never to be reduced thither again. And yet, notwithstanding ó as the Israelites, being brought out of Egypt, when they sinned against God, were punished in the desert, and yet the promise of the plentiful land nevertheless still went forward ó even so the elect members of Christís church, after their deliverance, when they sin against God by fragility of weak flesh, their sins are punished with temporal scourges in this world, but yet the truth of Godís everlasting favor standeth for ever, to all them that repent by faith.
As touching, therefore, the daily sacrificing of Christís body, as I proved before, so I repeat again, and in one word conclude, that no sacrifice of Christís body can serve for sin, but where Christ himself is the priest.
Neither doth the scripture admit any sacrifice propitiatory for sin, but where blood is, and where the suffering goeth withal, and the host is consumed without the tents by the fire of Godís judgment.
These things thus discoursed and proved by the scriptures, to proceed now in our text, seeing Almighty God so gently offereth unto us, as ye have heard, good audience, let us take that he giveth; seeing he calleth so graciously, let us come to him; yea, seeing he prayeth so entirely, let us grant his request; and seeingí so fatherly he spreadeth to us the arms of his reconciliation, let us with the lost son return home again to our Father.
Briefly, seeing on his part there is nothing lacking that we can desire, let us now, for our parts, do that he desireth of us. What is that? That ye will for your parts be reconciled unto God, etc. How should we be reconciled unto God? Come to Christ, submit yourselves, and believe in him with a true faith, and thus you are reconciled to the Father. For so we read, If any man serve me, him will my Father honor, John 12. And if ye have not found this Son, seek for him by repentance. Seek, saith he, and ye shall find.
Repentance seeketh, faith findeth; and if ye have found him, hold him. And how should ye hold him? Obey him, so shall ye hold him; for faith requireth obedience. Of this obedience we read, Hebrews 5. He is made to all men that obey him the cause of eternal salvation, etc. By him God is reconciled to us, though we offended. Now being reconciled, let us obey, and offend no more, lest his wrath again be kindled against us.
What shall we say then? May we lose again this reconciliation? And how then standeth this favor of God perpetual which I spake of before, if it may be lost? Truth is, the favor of God is perpetual to them whom he receiveth to reconciliation; and yet, albeit this favor be perpetual, we must not think therefore that God ceaseth now to be angry with sin, and that we may live now as we list. For these things, saith St. Paul, cometh the anger of God upon the children of disobedience, etc. Ephesians 5. And yet, neither again must we make such a fickle and unstable thing of this reconciliation of God, as though whosoever sinneth, by and by were cancelled out of the book of Godís reconcilement. For how should then the elect be saved, which fall sometimes as the reprobate do, and vet are not forsaken? Whom the Lord loveth, saith the scripture, he loveth to the end; and whom he receiveth, likewise, he receiveth to the end. Or, where were then remission of sins perpetually promised to the reconciled, if frailty of sinning do break the league of reconciliation? Sin, saith St. Paul, shall not prevail over you, Romans 6. Also, St. John saith, And if you do sin, yet ye have an Advocate with the Father, and he is the propitiation for all our sins, John 2.
Here therefore, we must make a distinction of sinners; of whom some are repentant and uprising sinners, some are unrepentant. The repentant sinner I call him, who when he slideth, doth it with a repugnance of will going before, and with a repentance of heart following alter. The impenitent sinner, as he maketh no resistance before sin, so is he touched with no remorse alter following but taketh a delight in that whereof he should lament. The penitent sinner saith, I have sinned, but by Godís grace I will amend and commit no more; the other saith, I have sinned, I do sin, and I will sin, whosoever saith nay. The voice of the one is, That good that I would do, that I do not, Romans 7. The voice of the other is, The evil that I would do, that will I perform. In the flesh of the one, sin dwelleth, which St. Paul calleth, indwelling sin; but in the heart of the other, sin reigneth, and beareth the whole rule.
The difference of these two sinners considered, I answer now to the doubt, making this distinction also of reconciliation; that as there are two sorts of justification, one before God, another before man; so are there two sorts of reconciliation; the one is effectual with God, which St. Paul calleth, Secundum propositum, F33 the other is apparent only before man. Now then as touching the repentant sinner, I say, that sin in him absolutely breaketh not reconciliation between God and man. For else, where were remission of sins left to the church for a remedy to keep this atonement perpetual, if sin did break reconciliation? He that by vehemency of temptation and infirmity of flesh is fallen, or rather cast down, willing to do better, but not able to do what he would, the infirmity of this christian penitent ob-taineth remission, breaketh not reconciliation, neither loseth grace, but rather doth illustrate grace; as Christ himself, resolving this question, answereth to St. Paul, My grace, saith he, is enough for thee, for in thy infirmity, my power is more declared, etc. 2 Corinthians 12. And again, the apostle saith, Where sin aboundeth, there superaboundeth grace, Romans 5, meaning that sin which is joined with repentance. But contrariwise, they which presumptuously and obstinately, without remorse, or regard of Him whom they offend, take a pleasure and make a custom of sin, and have not (to use St. Paulís words) sin dwelling in them, but they rather dwell in sin; and not only do not resist the temptations of Satan, but rather are tempters and Satans to others to follow their sinful appetites; to such willful men, whom I account no men, but rather monsters of men, I say not, that they, in thus doing, do lose the reconcilement of God which they had, but that they never had this effectual reconcilement with God to lose; nor ever shall, unless they, through earnest repentance, seek to the Son of God by faith for remission of their sins, and are truly reconciled unto God by faithful obedience.
And why? For although they fall, yet they fall not under the law, but under grace; that is to say, though the office of the law is naturally to work wrath, yet, forsomuch as the person of the sinner is not under the law, therefore is he not under wrath; but instead of wrath cometh reconciliation, instead of the law reigneth grace.
Seeing therefore, such a loveday, F34 loving brethren, is made between God and you, through the mediation of Christís cross, be ye now reconciled unto God, as he is to you. And as ye see his fatherly kindness in offering his reconciliation, you being in all the blame; do you likewise express the like gentleness in reconciling yourselves for his sake, neighbor to neighbor, one toward another. Let all bitterness and wrath be far from you, and let not the sun go down upon your anger. When ye were offenders to God, what he hath done and doth, ye see. So if your neighbors, equals, or inferiors have offended you, or you them, stand not so much in your reputation to abase yourselves, but either come, or send forth your messengers of peace, not only to bid him good morrow, or good even, but thus say, Neighbor, I have offended you, and you me; come, therefore, let us be reconciled, and live in love and charity, like brethren in Christ, as Christ hath reconciled us both unto his Father.
And thus, as ye see, God hath given his own Son to death, to reconcile you unto him; let it not be grievous to you to give and forgive small matters to your neighbor, to nourish amity and agreement between him and you, without which agreement, I see not how manís life can consist. First, forsomuch as in this fragility of manís nature, it cannot be avoided, but where society is, offenses will either be given or taken, some cause of grudge and variance will arise between man and man, man and wife, friend and friend, yea, brother and brother, that shall set them asunder.
Then, besides this, cometh in such a multitude of make-bates, of flatterers, whispering clawbacks, backbiters, tale-carriers, sycophants, and slandering tongues, sent out as Satanís messengers, to carry and recarry misreports and false lies, to sow the seed of dissention betwixt one and another; so that take away reconciliation, and it shall not be for any to live together, one with another, in this world.
Some there are which use to give light ear to such whisperers and flatterers, and these are much to blame. Others there are as light of credit, that whatsoever they hear told that they believe, and so believe the first tale that they will not believe the second; and these one-eared men are worse than the first, worthy to have but one ear on their heads, who will not hear with both. But the third sort is worst of all; who, being inflamed by sinister reports, after they have once conceived an inward grudge against their friend or neighbor, are so stiff, so wayward, and so crabbed, that hardly or never will they be reconciled after. Such stoical stomachs and unsociable natures, which neither live here like angels, nor yet remember themselves to be but men amongst men, are to be sent to the republic of Plato, or to M. Moreís Utopia, either there to live with themselves, or else where none may live to offend them. With what measure ye mete to others, the same shall be meted again to you, saith the voice of justice, Luke 6. But here speaketh the voice of mercy and de-sireth you, that as God hath measured unto you, so ye will measure to others, lie is reconciled, as you see, unto you, be you reconciled now, one to another. And if his reconcilement be eternal, and in great matters, and for great offenses, little can ye do if in little trifles one of you will not hear with another.
But, peradventure, some will object and say, Sir, you preach much of reconciliation and agreement to be between God and us, and that he hath received us to his perpetual love and favor; but what reconciliation this is you speak of, I cannot tell. This I know, that I find here misery and sorrow enough; i sweat, I travail, I cark and care. Of the sour bread of heaviness, and bitter drink of adversity, I lack no store; turmoiled in troubles, pinched with poverty, afflicted in conscience, burdened with sins, vexed with temptations. Satan assaulteth me, hell feareth me, Godís judgment accuseth me, sickness oppresseth me, and at last death consumeth me to dust and nothing. And where then is this favor and love of God toward me, Ďwhen I feel nothing here but the wrath of God upon me?
To answer hereunto ó I grant, well beloved, that this is a sore objection indeed to flesh and blood, being not yet perfectly instructed in the knowledge and consideration of Christís kingdom. Wherein you have need of two manner of helps, whereof the one is in your preachers, the other is in yourselves. First and especially, you preachers had need here to help in setting forth the promises and glory of Christís kingdom, whereby your hearers may be established in the faith of his word, and assured in hope of things to come. For else, great and manifold are the causes of discomfort daily rising, enough to beat down a manís heart from hope of heavenly things; the sense of contrary things is strong in this world, and flesh in us is feeble. Besides this, the devil ceaseth not, hell gapeth, death rageth, conscience accuseth, the law threateneth, Godís justice terrifieth, his punishments and rods walk still from one to another. Every day lightly bringeth some example, some spectacle .or other of Godís terrible judgments before our faces. Here now the heart of man lieth in great perplexity, comfortless and distressed on every side, scarce able to take any breath of comfort, nor knowing well near whither to turn him, unless you which are preachers and spiritual physicians of the soul, minister to the weak conscience of man some comfortative, or some cordial restorative out of Godís mighty promises, and heavenly message of Christís holy gospel. Help, therefore, I beseech you, in opening to the people the promises of grace, the word of life, the glorious treasures and abundant riches, not of this present world here, but laid up for us hereafter in Christ to come. So that the faith of the people being grounded upon the sure rock of Godís word and promises, may stand firm and unmovable against all blasts of worldly temptations, waiting with hope for things, not here seen, but only hoped for, and shall be seen hereafter. And thus much for the ministers of Christís gospel.
Again, for you that are the hearers, it is also your part no less to give diligent hearing unto your preachers, and hearken to the word of God, whereby you may learn to know the difference between things here present, and things to come; between the world which here standeth, and the world which hereafter followeth; between the kingdom of this world, and the kingdom of Christ. Many there are, who, beholding the course of things here present, and setting all their delight and study therein, have their eyes fixed upon nothing else, being either so blind that they see not, or else so wilful that they pass not for things that are to come; but say, either with the foolish atheist in the psalm, There is no God; or else with the fleshly epicure say, as they were wont in the time of Nazianzen, Give me that which is here present, and let God alone with that is to come, etc.
These wretched persons are both deceived.
But they that are true christians, and have regard to their souls, must learn by their preachers, and understand by the scriptures, that besides this life, besides this world, this kingdom, these things here present, there are other things and much greater things; another life, another kingdom, another world to be looked for. Which two worlds or kingdoms, as they are contrary in effect and working, so the times of them must be distincted. For as the law hath his time, so hath grace his time also; and as death hath his time to reign here, so hath life his time to reign likewise; and as wrath hath his working yet awhile, so reconciliation shall have his time to work hereafter. So that in this world remaineth troubles, vexations, toil, labor, misery, calamity, afflictions inward, afflictions outward, the body subject to sickness, the soul to temptations, the flesh to death, the law yet standing in his force; the same penalty of sin pronounced against Adam still taketh hold upon us. Briefly, the nature of every thing in the same order, and under the same malediction wherein Adam left it, still continueth, and shall continue, touching this outward body, so long as our old Adam liveth.
Look for none other in this world, so persuading yourselves that as there hath been none heretofore, so is there none o£ you all here present but away he shall, die he shall, and shall taste corruption.
And yet, all this notwithstanding, the christian man, albeit his case in this body be miserable, under wrath and punishment, death and malediction, yet is it true, that as he is under death, so is he also under life; as he is under wrath, so is he also under reconciliation; both under the law and under grace, under misery and yet in felicity. And this distinction of times is good for every christian man to consider, which distinction is this: The wrath of God for sin towards his elect continueth but a time, his favor and reconciliation remaineth for ever; his punishments here are temporal, his promises are eternal. Over night cometh mourning, but in the morning riseth mirth; our going out is with tears, but our return again into Zion is with everlasting joy upon our heads, Isaiah 35. Sin here reigneth, conscience accuseth, the law condemneth, death executeth, the devil rageth. Thus the state of man here is miserable, but the time of this misery lasteth not, but is limited and barred.
This bar that cutteth off the time of these miseries is the passion of Christ our Savior, who hath purchased for us a new life after this, a new world after this world, a new kingdom, a new country, new possessions, new mansions, and all things new, not as they were before, but after a much better sort. Wherefore we, having and holding these promises of God, and hope of things to come, may comfort our souls and rejoice in Godís favor, not passing for this world, whether it give prosperity or adversity. If adversity come, let faith hold hope, let hope work patience. With this hope Christ suffered the cross, and so entered into his glory. With this hope Paul, with all the apostles, sustained tribulations and rejoiced in afflictions.
Through the same hope so many holy martyrs endured torments orí death: and this may be called manís passover. Even so let us also pass over the rough waves of this world, neither being dejected by adversity, nor yet puffed up with prosperity; as men whom neither the evils of the world can make worse, nor the goods of the world can make better. Whatsoever, therefore, shall betide us in this world, and though we are corrected here tot our sins, (as happeneth most commonly to the elect,) let us not measure the state of our election thereby, nor think therefore to be cast out of favor, or the league of our reconcilement to be broken, remembering what the scripture foretelleth us; saying, If they shall transgress my precepts, with rods and scourges I will visit their iniquities; but my mercy I will never remove away from them, etc. Psalm 89. So long as we carry this old Adam about, the penalty of Adam followeth us, that is, we remain under wretchedness, sin, curse of the law, death, and under the dominion of Satan. But yet, all this notwithstanding, we have a helper above them all, who, when these have done all they can and the worst they can, when sin hath accused, the law hath condemned, death hath stricken us down, our graves have swallowed us, and the devil hath showed his utmost malice against us, then cometh he, and where these have ended there he beginneth to work and show forth the power of his kingdom to justify the sinner, to discharge the law, to revive tire dead, to vanquish the devil, to wipe all tears away, turning death to life, mortality to immortality, darkness to light, mourning to mirth, sadness to solace; briefly, to make all things new of nothing, according to the operation of his power, wherewith he is able to subdue all things to himself, Philippians 3.
Thus, therefore, pondering well the difference between this present world and the world that is hid in Christ, let us not regard so much what we are, but what we shall be; not what we have here, but what we shall have; considering with ourselves that the things which we look for are yet to come, and all that Christ died for is yet to come, and belongeth not to this world. For the end of Christís passion was, not to make us rich in this earth, that we should become lords, ladies, or princes here; that we should be made honorable men, noble men, worshipful or gentlemen, or that we should abound in wealth and pleasures of this world. Which of us all, either here present or absent, that believe in the passion of Christ, doth flourish thereby any whit more in worldly prosperity, or is advanced in worldly glory, is richer in substance, stronger in body, more beautiful of person, more witty in policy, more prudent in his generation, or hath a penny more possessions, for all the blessed passion of Christ our Savior? No, no; the matters that he died for are to come; they are not here. My kingdom, saith Christ, is not of this world. Where is it then? It is in the world to come.
There is our kingdom, our country and city, our occupying, all our stock and store lieth there. This world here present, which we make so much of, is none of ours, nor worthy to be made much of. The world passeth away, saith the loving apostle, with all its concupiscence, 1 John 2. Also St. Paul, though not in the same words, yet agreeing in the same sense, saith, The figure of this world passeth or vanisheth away, etc., 1 Corinthians 7, meaning by this figure, the pomp, pride, and glory of the world; the vanity, wealth, felicity, bravery, and jollity in this earth and in earthly things; with dalliance, pastime, eating, drinking, and all other sensual delights and desires serving to carnal appetite; riches, high titles, preferments, authority, activity, policy, worldly gifts and ornaments; beauty, strength, long life, with such other like things, which carnal reason of man so highly esteemeth and magnifieth in this world. All which things, as St. Paul here calleth transitory, so in another place, writing to the said Corinthians, he accounteth them as old things, as though we would call it a former world; not as now departing and fading away, but as a thing past away already, clean gone and despatched. The old things are past and despatched, behold, saith he, all things are made new, 2 Corinthians 5. And what new thingís are these? New heaven, new earth, a new world, new life, new bodies, new minds, new possessions, new mansions, new treasures, and all things new, bran new; such as neither eye hath seen, nor ear hath ever heard of before. And all these, he saith not, shall be made new, but that they are made new already; although not yet visibly revealed to our outward sight, yet are they manifestly apparent to the spiritual eyes of our faith, in the scriptures and promises of God. And though we do not yet corporeally possess them as we shall hereafter, yet are they so sure as if they were in our hands already. Or, rather, why may I not say that we have them, and have entered corporeal possession, seeing our agent and factor is there, and hath taken possession for us? And if our Head be there already, how can it be but the body must follow after? And if Christ be the firstborn of the dead, where ever was there a first but there must needs be a second? Christ is first risen from the dead, so sure is it that we shall rise also.
And thus by occasion touching the times and difference of these two worlds and kingdoms, which belongeth to every christian man necessarily to consider; to the intent that no man either be too much discouraged with the perturbations of this life, if adversity come, nor yet too much puffed up with these vain and transitory trifles, if he live in prosperity. Which are two perilous rocks, and many make shipwreck thereat. For so commonly it fareth with the most sort of men, that if any scourge of Godís hand fall upon us, we weep and wail as though there were none other hell. And if we flourish awhile in any wealth, we laugh and sing as though there were no other heaven, yea, and almost care for no other life. But we that are christians are taught by the scriptures another lesson, whether we are in weal or woe, to turn our minds from the consideration of things here present; and to cheer up our hearts with the expectation of higher things, of better things, of eternal things, of things to come, and therein to occupy our studies and exercise our senses, not passing for the old and dead things of this world, which, as St. Paul saith, are past already. And what should men pass then for things that are past? What should we care for things that are conquered? Care ye not, saith Christ, behold, I have overcome the world, etc. Or, what should we regard things that are none of ours? For what have we to do with the world which are redeemed out of the world?
These things, therefore, of the world, let us leave to the Turks, Jews, infidels, and pagans, and if ye will, also to the papists, which are of the world. This world is none of ours, let them have it to whom it belongeth.
Our kingdom is there where our King is; our country where our Head is; our city where our freedom standeth. Seeing, therefore, we are here but strangers, let us pass forward as strangers through the desert of this desolate world. What! should we travelers take long rest in our inns? And though it should befall unto us, as it happened to the Israelites, to lay our bones here, as they did in the desert, yet let us hold fast the hope of the promised land in the generation to come, which I trust in Christ, well beloved, doth approach apace. And though as yet we have not bodily entered into it, yet with the eves of our faith let us look about us, and upward at the things which are above, and behold the glory of them at least afar off. So shall we lightly shake off the love and lust of this transitory and conquered desert.
And herein the better to help you to some sight thereof, let me desire you, with Moses, a little to climb up the hill of Nebo, mentioned Deuteronomy 34. There may ye take a view of this your spiritual country and glorious kingdom whereof I preach unto you. There shall ye see your factor and agent above mentioned, Christ Jesus, taking possession for you in heaven; yea, and which is more than all that can he most, passing all admiration, there shall ye see this our own flesh, our own very flesh, sitting at the right hand of the almighty majesty of God. There shall you see our noble and triumphant captain Joshua, our Savior Jesus, with his priests and levites, and his people following him, seven times going about the city Jericho, with trumpets of jubilee in their hands. And I doubt not but he hath gone six times about already, and when the seventh blast shall come, then beware, great Jericho! Then shall ye see the walls of this world fall down; then shall ye see the rich men of this world, with their bags of gold and silver, come tumbling down. Then shall ye behold the stout giants of this earth, the sons of Anak, brought full low. Their gay houses, their princely palaces, come rattling down; the tall trees of Libanus, the mighty oaks of Basan, the high turrets with their defensed munitions, the fair ships of Tarshish, and whatsoever is beautiful and comely in the sight of this world. Add to this the outgrown hose of England come tumbling over and over; every high mountain brought down, and low valleys exalted, Isaiah 2:40.
Moreover, there ye shall see the roaring lion, the venomous serpent and old dragon, the devil, which hath kept such a stir here so long, with all his hellish rabble of bloody persecutors; also with the great Turk, and the great caliph of Damascus, with the great caliph also of ancient Rome, F35 and all other cruel tyrants and potentates of this world, which have abused their swords to the destruction of Christís saints, fall headlong into the perpetual pit of perdition. The law shall cease; death shall be destroyed; sin, hell, malediction, with all other enemies which wrought us woe before, shall be vanquished. Briefly, there shall ye see the whole world, with all his pomp and pride, with adulterers, fornicators, usurers, and covetous persons, dwelling in sinful Jericho, with all their force and puissance broken down to dust; only the house of Rahab standing safe; that is, those penitent sinners which receive Godís message, and repent their sins, shall be preserved from the ruin.
Over and besides all this, yet one other sight I will declare to you which will do you good to behold. For there ye shall see the proud triple-crowned bishop, even the great antichrist, and the false horned lamb, which hath so exalted himself above God and his Sots, with his high mountain castle of St. Angelo; also with his whole college of Babylonical strumpets and stately prelates of Romish Jericho, drunken with the blood of persecution, blown down with the blast of Joshuaís trumpets, and with the breath of his mouth, even from the top of the capitol even unto hell. And there shall the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, all together, be tumbled into the lake of fire; that as they have kindled up the fire of persecution in this world, to burn up the bodies of Christís people, so they shall have fire and brimstone to the fill, where the smoke of their torments shall rise up for ever and ever. Revelation 14:20.
And as these things shall fall upon Christís enemies, contemners of his gospel, in such sort as the sun and moon shall stand still while Joshua, our valiant Captain, shall vanquish thirty-one kings, with all the glory of their worldly kingdoms; so, on the contrary side, ye shall see the true christian Israelites divide amongst them great spoils of all their lands and possessions. There shall ye see new Jerusalem, the heavenly metropolitan city, all garnished with glory, like a spousess prepared for her spouse, with glorious mansions, and pleasant tabernacles in it, prepared ready to receive you; even such tabernacles as Peter wished in the mount Tabor to be made, when he was rapt with glory, that he could not fell where he was, nor what he spake, Luke 9. Briefly, in that mount Nebo ye shall see what eye never saw; paradise without any serpent to tempt you any more, riches without measure, glory without comparison, life without death, day without night, liberty without thraldom, solace without ceasing, joy without ending, a land flowing with milk and honey. And here, to make an end of speaking of those things which are endless, looking in this mount well about you, ye shall see with your spiritual eye, that which Daniel with his prophetical eye did see so long before; That the kingdom, the power, and magnitude of the kingdom, that is or shall be under heaven, shall be given to the people of the highest, which kingdom shall destroy all other kingdoms, and this kingdom shall be everlasting. Daniel 7. To the which kingdom, the eternal God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is true in his promises, and glorious in all his works; both happily and speedily conduct us, through the merits of Christ Jesus, his Son and our everlasting Savior. Amen.
And here an end of the first part of this my text which I have read to you out of St. Paul. Wherein hath been declared unto you the gracious and joyful message sent of God, in the name of Christ, by his apostles, messengers, and ministers unto you. By the which message ye have heard how Almighty God not only is reconciled to you, but also how lovingly he entreateth you to be reconciled unto him. Further, what this reconciliation of God is, how firm it standeth and perpetual, what went before it, what variance there was between him and us, and how this variance was reconciled, and Godís wrath pacified by one oblation once done for ever; moreover what things follow after this reconciliation, with the golden chain and principal points of our salvation depending upon the same; and finally, how far the time of the law and of wrath lasteth, and when the time of grace beginneth: what difference is between these two times; and how a christian is both under wrath, and also under reconciliation in divers respects; of the outward man first, and then of the inward man; with other things not unworthy to be mused upon, partly is set forth in this former part unto you.
Now let us pray, as we first began, making our earnest invocation to Almighty God, for the universal state of Christís Church, and all other estates and degrees in order particular, as custom, and also duty requireth, etc.
THE SECOND PART OF THE SERMON.
In the former part of this Good-Fridayís sermon, ye heard, loving audience, according to my weak ability, uttered unto you, the joyful message of Godís reconciled favor and grace recovered again, which we had once lost through our just deserts; and were under wrath, in great danger perpetually to be cast away, both bodies and souls. But so it pleased the gracious goodness of our merciful God, mercifully to receive us again to love, and to become now of a terrible justicer, F36 a tender Father towards us. Not that there is my change or alteration in his nature, but that mercy and justice striving together, mercy got the upper hand. Or rather, that mercy and justice joining together for our redemption, hath brought to pass, that, upon merciful causes going before, the just effect of Godís wrath, which the law before did work, by good justice must needs give place, and reconciliation come in; because that justice, always standing upon just causes, it must needs follow that the cause being altered and removed away, the effect also must needs cease. So long as we were under the law and sin, so long were we under wrath, that is under Godís just punishment for sin. For the law, as St. Paul saith, worketh wrath. But after that mercy and justice, joining both together, have vanquished the law, that is, the curse of the law, now then by good order of justice followeth reconciliation; and yet no nature in God is changed, but his marvelous wisdom excellently declared.
Now what causes these were, and how they wrought, and how mercy and justice together conjoined in putting away the law and sin, consequently here remaineth in the second and latter parcel of this my text to be opened by Christís help unto you. Now therefore let us read out the words of the apostle, which follow: ó For Him that knew no sin, God made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God by Him, etc.
Here now cometh the preaching of Christ Jesus crucified; of whom you have often heard, and yet never heard enough; of whom many have preached, and yet never was preacher able to search or reach the length, breadth, and profundity of his cross. In which cross I find two thingís most contrary concur together, the vilest death, and the most glorious person that ever suffered. What thing so miserable as death? What thing so happy as life? Again what death so vile as the death of the cross? What person so glorious as the only begotten Son of the living God? Which two things being so contrary, meet together in one tree, according as we read in Prudentiusís hymn: ó ďDeath and life have conflicted together in wondrous combat.Ē Such a hard matter it was, and such a high price, to repair again the reconcilement between God and us. Touching the tractation of the which matter, as entering now into a new sermon and a new division, three principal things we have in this for you to consider, and me to speak of.
The first is, The great innocency that was in Christ, which we have to note in these words, For him that knew no sin.
The third is, The triumph of Christ, with other effects which followed after his passion, expressed in these words, That we might be made the righteousness of God by him. 1. Of the innocency of Christ, the scriptures in sundry places give witness by many ways, as well by prophetical types and shadows, as also by other evident demonstrations. Noah, the perfect man and righteous preacher in the first age of the world, in whose righteousness and in whose ark the remnant of all earthly creatures were saved from the flood; what doth he preach unto us besides the true history, but this just and innocent Jesus, Savior of the world? Genesis 6:7. The typical lamb, called the passover, which prefigured the heavenly Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world, was commanded to be a male of a year old, immaculate, without spot or blemish. Also all other burnt-offerings were commanded in the old law to be pure and unspotted, for no other cause but only to signify that Christ, whereof they were figures and signs, should be the true innocent sacrifice, which should make and hath made satisfaction for all our sins.
Isaiah prophesying of the innocency of this spotless sacrifice crucified for us, expresseth that which St. Paul here preacheth, and saith in plain words that He never knew iniquity, nor that any fraud was found in his mouth, Isaiah 53. And again, the same prophet describing the flower rising out of the root of Jesse, replenished with Godís Holy Spirit, addeth moreover, And righteousness shall be his girdle about his loins, etc., Isaiah 11.
Jeremiah calleth his name, The bud of righteousness, and our righteous Lord, etc., Jeremiah 33. In Daniel he is called, The Holy One of all holy, Daniel 9. Zechariah also, prophesying of this righteous Prince, Behold, saith he, thy King shall come to thee, righteous, and a Savior, being humble, and sitting upon a poor ass, etc. Zechariah 9. Many other places there are in holy scripture, which testify of the righteousness, holiness, and innocency of this immaculate person, of whom it is written, Which of you can rebuke me of sin? Against whom also we read, that the prince of the world came, and found in him nothing, as St. John writeth, John 14, meaning thereby his innocency to be such, and the perfection of iris life so absolute, that no creature could stain or charge him with blot or blemish. So absolutely he performed the law, and every jot thereof, both the first table and the second, in loving God above all things, and his neighbor as himself, that neither was there lacking in him any thing that the law required, nor ever was found any else able to accomplish the same law, besides himself alone. For so it behooved him, which should die for all, to be holy and innocent alone, and none but he, according as we read and sing in the hymn of Ambrose, Thou only art holy, etc. And so he was and is, and none else holy and innocent in the world but he.
And therefore, false is the doctrine of those untrue catholics, who, disputing of keeping the law of God, seem to extol the entire natural powers of man, so far as though it were in manís power and will to satisfy the performance thereof. In which number is Lombard, Thomas Aquinas, Anselmus, Bonaventure, Alexander de Hales. Albeit these, as they do not fully agree in all places with themselves, so because they would seem somewhat to start from the error of Pelagius, they add, moreover, some addition of Godís grace to help free will; and so flying from one error fall into another, teaching that a man in this life, being once justified, may fulfill Godís law and avoid all sin. After these cometh John Scotus; who, reasoning upon these words of St. Augustine, that a man without grace cannot eschew all sin, etc., seemeth to resolve the question thus, that a man, by free will, without grace cannot eschew or cease from all sin, but severally may eschew this sin or that sin, and so every particular sin one after another; and bringeth this similitude, of one being in a vessel full of riftes or holes, in which although he can stop one hole after another, yet cannot stop them all; for while he stoppeth one, saith he, allother is olden, etc. Thomas Aquinas, likewise reciting the sentence of the schoolmen, saith, that the power of manís will, of itself, is able to do things both good and bad without grace. Howbeit he cannot make the work that is good to merit, but by the help of grace itself, etc. So that hereby appeareth the opinion of these catholics to be, that albeit manís free power without grace sufficeth not to eschew all sin, nor to make his good works to be meritorious; yet being assisted with grace, he is able in this life to avoid all and every kind of sin, and to fulfill the righteousness of Godís law.
Insomuch that Scotus in another place thus reasoneth; that it is not uncredible but that many such are in the church, which live the whole year without mortal sin; yea, and by Godís grace many are which much longer time keep themselves from deadly sin, and exercise moreover many works of perfection, of whose merits riseth the treasure-house of the church, etc.
Scot. lib. 4. dist. 17.
Furthermore, after these followed others of later years, as Eckius, Pighius, Hosius, and others, upon whose untidy reasons and arguments, certain of our English papists also grounding their vain opinion, do likewise teach now in these our days, that it lieth in possibility here in this life for a man alter he is justified, to fulfill the righteousness of the law by grace, and to avoid all mortal sin; that is to mean, that such abundance of grace and power is given of God, here, in this life, to them that are baptized in Christ, and call for Godís grace, that although for venial sins he may say in humility and in truth, Forgive us our trespasses, etc. yet as touchingí mortal sins, he may so live, calling for that grace, that he need not, except he will, to fall into deadly sin, but may satisfy the law of God fully and perfectly, in such sort as the same law of God cannot have wherein to condemn or accuse any work of his, etc. For these are their own very words.
First, for confirmation of their doctrine, they allege the testimonies of Augustine, where he saith, that God neither could command things that were impossible, because he is just; nor would condemn man for that he could not avoid, etc., and addeth in another place, saying that God would never condemn the slothlid servant, if he had commanded that he could not achieve. Also in his book, De Natura et Gratia, ďWe firmly believe,Ē saith he, ďthat God, who is just and good, could never command things that were impossible to be done,Ē etc. Secondly, out of Jerome they allege this place where he saith, We detest their blasphemy, which say, that God hath commanded any thing impossible to be done, etc. Thirdly, they allege further the words of our Savior, Take my yoke upon you; for my yoke is sweet, and my burden light, etc. Matthew 11. Fourthly, also for example they infer Zacharias and Elizabeth, who in scripture are said to be just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame, etc. Luke 1.
Whereunto briefly I answer; and first, as touching St. Augustine, albeit I could well answer him by his own retractions, where he better advising himself as may appear, hath these words, All the commandments, saith he, are accounted to be done, when that is pardoned which is not done, etc.
And likewise might I expound Jerome by Jerome, whereas he in another place speaking of the commandments to be possible, though he denieth it not to be true, yet he asketh how that saying is to be understood; meaning that although the commandments are possible to us after a certain manner, yet absolutely and simply he doth not so affirm. Well, and what if this were granted, that God hath given a law to man which man cannot keep, what great thing were here to be detested, or what prejudice hereby should ensue either to Godís justice or goodness in giving a law impossible for us perfectly to be kept, more than in giving us the sun, the brightness whereof it is impossible for us to behold, and yet to walk in the light thereof every man as he may? If a cunning physician should come with an excellent potion to his patient grievously sick, and say, Either ye must drink this, or ye cannot live; and if the weak stomach of the party cannot brook it, yet is the physician nothing to blame, but keepeth the true order of physic.
Scilurus Scytha, when he gave his children every one a fagot, commanding them to break it, knew right well before, that they were not able to do it, and yet in so doing did he both fatherly and wisely, to the intent his children might learn thereby to see their own weakness, and not to trust to their own private strength too much.
If we, by grace helping us, say they, are not able to perform fully and perfectly the righteousness of the law, then were God unjust in commanding things impossible; and unmerciful in condemning the servant for that which he cannot avoid. But that were detestable blasphemy to say.
Therefore, say they, it must needs be concluded that it is not impossible for a justified man, by Godís grace to perform the perfect fulfilling of the law.
Whereunto I answer by the scriptures, that if God had given such a law to be fulfilled of man which no man could fulfill, and that all men for not fulfilling the same should be condemned, then might they with some reason object this blasphemy unto us. But now we confess and say, that God hath given a law to be fulfilled of man, and that he commandeth nothing impossible. Yea, and furthermore, with the scriptures, confess that man hath fulfilled this law actually, really, and thoroughly in all points; and yet all this being confessed, neither is it true which they infer, that the justified man therefore is able by grace to fulfill the real perfection of the law; neither is it true that he which fulfilleth it not, shall therefore be condemned; neither that in God is any unrighteousness or unmercifulness in all this to be inferred, but he remaineth still most just and merciful. Yea, and to say truth, his mercy and justice could not otherwise both stand and appear together, but only by this way above confessed. And how is all this proved?
First, that God hath given a law to be fulfilled, we all confess. Secondly, that Christ from the beginning, before the law was given, was preordinate to be incarnate and to take our nature, no man can deny. Thirdly, that the same Christ in the same our nature hath utterly fulfilled and discharged the law, it is manifest. And how then is that to be accounted impossible to man, which man so clearly hath accomplished? Fourthly, that in the same nature and humanity of Christ, the Son of God and the son of man, the whole nature of mankind is included, the scripture teacheth; and therefore is he called the second Adam.
For as all we were included in the nature of Adam, who first disobeyed, and by him are condemned, so are we likewise generally included in the human nature of this second Adam which first obeyed, and by him saved. 8o that we, being now in Christ, that is to say, God beholding our whole nature in the nature of his own Son, his fulfilling is our fulfilling, and what he doth, that we do, especially in all such points as belong to his humanity.
And therefore is he denominated in scripture to be our righteousness. For as this proposition is true, Christ died for all men; so is this proposition true also, Christ was made innocent for us all. So that what he hath fulfilled, we also have fulfilled, although not after the same manner, yet in as good effect as if it had been done after the same manner, lie for us, we by him; he actually performed, we by imputation; he by virtue and merit, we by gift and grace. And this is the perfect grace that we have to fulfill the perfection of the law. Other grace than this God never gave, nor ever will give to any justified person really and absolutely to satisfy the perfect righteousness of the law. Neither doth it stand with the glory of Christ, that any such perfect grace should be given us. For, if by our infirmity the strength of Christ be made perfect, as Christ himself answereth to St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 12, so contrariwise, by our perfection the virtue of Christís cross is lessened. Not that there is any such perfection in us indeed, whose righteousness, as St. Augustine saith, consists more in the remission of sins than in the perfection of virtues; but such is the blindness of many, that, standing in a vain persuasion of their perfection when they are imperfect, they falsely flatter themselves to be something, when indeed they are stark nothing; and after the example of the Laodiceans imagine themselves to be rich and gay, when indeed they be utterly empty and naked. Revelation 3. Fifthly, And though it be so, as it is indeed, that no such grace is given to us from above to attain to the high perfection of the law; yet, notwithstanding, by the grace of God we bring to the law such obedience as we may. And though we bring not that perfection of fulfilling the law, which needeth no remission, yet we bring that endeavor of well doing, which the Lord, for faithís sake, both accepteth in us, and also crowneth.
And as for that imperfection which remaineth, God imputed not for his Christ, who hath purchased for us perpetual reconciliation and remission of sins. Sixthly, By these hitherto declared, it appeareth that although we, for our parts, neither by nature, nor by grace, can possibly satisfy the full innocency of the law, yet neither is it true which our adversaries do infer, speaking absolutely, that God hath commanded things impossible to man.
For so much as man hath utterly discharged whatsoever God hath commanded, how then can the commandments be said to be impossible to man, which man hath fulfilled? And though we, for our parts, speaking particularly, cannot perform the same, yet that argueth neither blasphemy to be in us, to say we cannot fulfill the commandments, nor any unrighteousness or unmercifulness in God, in giving that which we cannot perform. For as we acknowledge God to be just in giving the law, to declare thereby what we should be; so we have to acknowledge doubly, and to thank his mercy, first for giving such a person unto us who hath satisfied the law for us; and also in not condemning us for our parts not fulfilling it ourselves; but hath set in the church a perpetual remedy, which is, remission of sins to help and supply that which lacketh in us. Whereby, as our adversaries may see, neither is there any unmercifulness in God, nor blasphemy in us; so we may see in their doctrine to be no truth. Seventhly and lastly, Forsomuch as the Council of Trent, and all our adversaries, stand so much upon this argument; that the law is not impossible to be performed of us, because God hath given it unto us, who of his justice cannot command things impossible; here, therefore, is to be noted out of the scriptures, that they seem not sufficiently hitherto to have considered the first original and entering of the law. Which law, I mean the law of nature, imprinted in the soul and conscience of every mortal man, (for as touching the law of Moses written in outward tables, which is but a renewing of the law wrought in man before, we speak not,) entered first into the world, not so much by the voluntary purpose and will of God, speaking of the ordinary will of God revealed in the scriptures, as it was procured and enforced by man himself against Godís will and warning. For when man in paradise was in state of innocency, he was not obediently content with that felicity wherein he was, but disobediently would needs extend his hand to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And albeit Almighty God gave him sufficient warning before what danger would follow, yet he, of willful presumption, would taste of the fruit forbidden.
Which being done, then began his eyes to be open; then did he see, then did he know, and then began he to cover himself. Now, if the law of nature did not first enter with this knowledge into the world, let the adversaries themselves tell me when it began to enter. If it did, then let them answer how the law first was given, whether by Godís own free motion and mere doing, or else by manís own seeking and procurement. To conclude, therefore, if man procured the law upon his own head, which, when he had done, he was not able to perform, then let us not say that God gave a law to man, which man could not fulfill; but let us say, that manís own willfulness procured a law to himself, which afterwards was not in his possibility to accomplish. But of this enough. The rest I refer to the exercised spiritual christian to muse more upon.
Furthermore, as touching their allegation of Christís words, Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is sweet, and my burden is light, etc., by which words they argue the commandments of God to be easy and possible to be kept. I answer, that these words of Christ mean not the law of Moses, but are to be understood of the receiving of Christ to be our Messias and Savior, and that we should become subjects under his kingdom, that is, to believe in him, and to be his disciples; who, in so doing, shall find his yoke and our subjection under him to be pleasant and sweet. For there shall we have remission of all our sins, shall overcome the devil and the world, shall be free from death, shall be eased from ceremonies, shall be raised in the resurrection to everlasting life, and in the mean time shall taste the sweet comforts of the Holy Ghost in our hearts, etc.
Again, where they allege the example of Zacharias and Elizabeth, whom the scripture commendeth, to be both just before God, and to walk in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord, etc., Luke 1. To this I could answer thus, that if Zacharias and Elizabeth were both just before God, it was not because God could not, but because he would not find fault with them. But let mine own answer go, I will set St. Jerome to answer hereunto; where he declareth two manner of perfections to be in holy scriptures; one which is agreeable to the virtues of God, and is void of all sin and immutable. And this, saith he, is appropriate only unto God, and was here declared in Christ. The other which agreeth to our fragility and is not pure from all sin, and is called perfect, not by comparison to Godís justice, but so accounted in the knowledge of God, who seeth the good endeavor of the frail creature, and accepteth the same; and in the same place produceth this example both of Zacharias and Elizabeth, and also of Job. The like answer also may be gathered out of St. Augustine, who, speaking of the worthiness which is in just men here, saith that it may be called perfect, so far as they both truly acknowledge, and humbly confess, their own imperfection going withal, etc. So that of the righteousness of Zacharias we may say as St. Paul said, by the righteousness of Abraham, That if he have any thing to glory, he hath to glory with men, but not with God, Romans 4. In whose judgment, saith David, no flesh shall be justified, etc. <19E301> Psalm 143, only the flesh of the Son of God excepted, who only being just, died for the unjust, as St. Peter witnesseth.
Whereupon I ground this reason: ó Christ died for the unjust; Zacharias and Elizabeth were not unjust before God, as they say; therefore, Christ died not for them. Which is absurd to grant; so that rather this argument is to be holden from the contrary. Christ died for the unjust; Christ died for Zacharias and Elizabeth; therefore, Zacharias and Elizabeth were unjust, etc. Again, they that do the commandments, do live therein; Zacharias and Elizabeth lived not in the commandments, but died; therefore Zacharias and Elizabeth did not all the commandments so justly as they should.
Thus then the righteousness and innocency of man being overthrown, as ye have heard, let us now repair to our matter again, and seek true innocency where it is to be found, that is, in Christ only, and in no flesh else, whether it be justified or unjustified; whether before baptism, or after baptism; whether by grace with nature, or by nature without grace. For neither that nature is given, nor that grace dispensed to any man living in this flesh, to be found innocent by the law, save only to Him of whom it is written; God giveth not to him the Spirit after measure, etc. Let his innocency therefore stand alone, that he may be as he is, alone holy; not merely exceeding us by comparison of greater and less, but utterly confounding us for our unrighteousness, knowing what is written of us. There is none that doth good, no not one, etc. Psalm 14. And here also let the title of the ďholy father,Ē F37 called ďmost holy,Ē fall down for shame. Of His fullness then let us receive, not as men having somewhat, but as utterly empty of all goodness. Let us humble ourselves with confession of humility, so ascribing all righteousness unto Him, that we forget not what God speaketh of our righteousness by his prophet, saying, All our righteousness is like a beggarly patched piece of a defiled cloth, Isaiah 64. Such are our works, not speaking only of our works before justification; but also even they that follow after justification, if God should look upon them in judgment, without Christ, are no better.
Of this innocency of Christ Jesus, the immaculate Lamb of God, I preach the more earnestly, and stand the longer, because in the same consisteth one of the principal effects of our redemption, joined with the effusion of his blood. For as his perfect innocency, without the shedding of his blood, could not serve our turn, so neither the death of his body, without his innocent life, could redeem us. For so it behooved innocency to redeem iniquity, the just to die for the unjust. Wherein appeareth the wondrous wisdom of Godís almighty majesty in working our redemption. Who, seeing the generation of mankind fallen from so happy a state, wherein he was first created, into such a miserable decay and destruction, both of body and soul, and all through his own willful presumption, in procuring the necessity of the law upon his own head, the strength whereof he could not accomplish, nor avoid the penalty; being subject thereby to the power of death and tyranny of Satan, wrapped in ignorance, drowned in darkness, running headlong to all idolatry and vanity, void of all regard and care of his Creator; whom neither counsel could reform, nor any earthly help restore, not only being past recovery, but almost past all possibility, but that nothing is impossible with God ó he, I say, of his wisdom beholding, and of his mercy pitying this misery of man, found a singular way for man.
What was that? He would not, saith Theodoret, of his absolute power work our deliverance; neither would he arm his mercy alone, to set us out of the thraldom of him which had the nature of man in captivity. No, no; mercy alone in this case could not well serve, his justice could not bear it.
And why? The cause Theodoret showeth, lest if Godís mercy had saved some and not all; the enemy which had been transgressor also himself, might have quarreled that this mercy of God had not been indifferent but partial to some, and not equal to all sinners. And therefore the high providence of Almighty God wrought another way, which was both full of mercy, and no less defensed with justice. So that by this way both his mercy is declared, his justice salved, Satan with the wicked justly condemned, the godly repentant, though they are sinners, saved, and all this done by true justice; and yet God not partial, and the same also merciful. And what way was this? Almighty God, seeing our nature overcome by a subtle serpent, too weak to encounter with that enemy, united two natures in one person, his nature and ours together, and so clothing God in man, sent forth this person to encounter with the devil, and by pure innocency of his manhood, to recover that for man which man before had lost.
Thus then cometh Christ our Lord to us, and for us to be incarnate, and was born of a virgin, his mother, after a miraculous manner; at whose birth the angels began to sing, and nature itself to be astonied. After this came the eighth day, in which he was circumcised according to the law, that by fulfilling the law he might redeem us from the bondage of the law. Not long after, being pursued by Herod, he was sent out of Jewry into Egypt, where he remained until they were dead that sought his life; to answer the type of Moses, who, before he should deliver the people, fled into the land of Midian from the hands of Pharaoh, where he remained till answer came from God, that he should return again into Egypt; for they are all dead, said he, that sought thy life, Exodus 4. After this, being of twelve years of age, he came to the temple, and there three days disputed with the doctors, who then were busy, no doubt, about the question of Messias; where he first began to show some little sparkle of his divinity, being occupied in the work of his Father. At length, growing up in years, he came to the age of thirty, or thereabout; when God began to reveal his Son more manifestly to the world in sending the Holy Spirit in visible similitude of a dove upon him, declaring moreover, in audible voice, the same to be his well-beloved Son, whom we must hear, Luke 3.
Thus Jesus, being baptized to fulfill all righteousness, revealed by his Father, replenished with the Holy Ghost, and testified by John Baptist, from thence was had immediately into the desert, as to a stage, there to try hand to hand with the devil. Where after he had fasted forty days and forty nights, to fulfill the time of Mosesís fast, who was so long in the mount with God, without meat or drink, the enemy, not ignorant what was testified of him before, and yet seeing him outwardly but as a weak man, and also now to wax hungry, after the infirmity of flesh, was the more bold to set upon him. And as he first threw down Adam in paradise by eating, so thinking likewise to supplant this second Adam by eating, tempted him to turn stones to bread, and so after an unlawful manner to eat. When this would not be, he invaded him with other sundry and grievous assaults, but in the end he could not prevail. Innocency held by obedience, obedience held by the word, Christ overcame, man had the victory, the devil had the foil, the angels bare witness, and the poor body of Jesus was refreshed.
This done and finished, Christ, to declare his divine power here in earth, to the end that men might know their Messias, coming from thence abroad began to work wonderful miracles, turning water into wine, feeding with few loaves thousands of men and children in the wilderness, helping the lame, curing of cripples, cleansing the lepers, restoring the blind to their sight, the deaf to their hearing, the dumb to their tongues; healing all diseases amongst the people, calming the seas, ceasing the winds, walking on the waters, comforting the afflicted, expelling out devils by his word, opening the graves, raising the dead, with other innumerable signs and wonders. 2. All which great and passing miracles notwithstanding, the cruel Jews yet ceased not to envy and malign him, and at last brought him to the torments of death, which he, with all patience, sustained. Wherein cometh now the second member of my division to entreat of the bitter pains of Christís passion, which he for us suffered, for his own part most willingly; for their part most unjustly: for our salvation most happily; albeit for the manner of the handling to all good hearts most lamentably. Touching the manner and handling whereof forsomuch as it is sufficiently recorded in the history of the four evangelists, I shall the less need to stand long in repeating those things, which to no christian man ought to be unknown. First, how the malicious priests and pharisees, after they had taken counsel together, and had sent with Judas their officers with clubs and staves, to apprehend Jesus; he, seeing them, asked whom they sought; they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Twice he asked, twice they fell backward, and twice he suffered them to rise. Whereby appeareth what Christ could have done in saving himself if he would. For power in him there lacked not; cause for him to die there was not; as his life was innocent, so was there no law to condemn him. No, neither his Father, salving his justice, could lawfully enforce him.
Only his own good will, and obedience to his Fatherís will it was, and none other. Whereof we hear what the Father himself speaketh by his prophet, saying, If he will lay down his life for sin, he shall see a long lasting seed come after him, etc. Isaiah 53. Again, in the same prophet we read, He was offered because he himself so would, etc.
Then they took and bound him, and brought him first to Annas, father-inlaw to Caiaphas; who asked him of his doctrine and of his disciples; he answered, that he never taught in corners, but openly in the synagogue and in the temple, and therefore willed him to ask them that heard him.
Whereat one of the high priestís servants, a parasite, a caitiff, a swashbuckler, F38 a rakehell, gave him a blow on the blessed cheek, asking if he answered the high priest so. To whom Christ again mildly and coolly answered, saying, If I have spoken ill, bear witness of the ill; but if I have spoken well why smitest thou me? From Annas he was sent bound to Caiaphas, where lying witness was brought against him, that he should speak against the temple. Whereunto Christ held his peace. Then was he asked and adjured to tell them true, whether he were Christ. To this he spake, If I answer you, neither will ye credit me; neither if I ask you, ye will answer me, nor let me go. But this I tell you, ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, etc. Upon this, after that the wretches had scorned, reviled, and beaten him about the head and face, and blindfolded him, bidding him prophesy who did smite him, they brought him then to the secular power, that is, to Pilate the temporal judge, in the guildhall. Where were laid many accusations against him, and never one true; that he was a seducer of the people, a teacher of new doctrine, and forbad tribute to be paid to Caesar, and made himself a king. Pilate then, after certain questions, hearing that he was of Galilee, sent him over to Herod; who, thinking to hear some news, or to see some strange miracle, was glad to have him. But when Christ would give him no answer, in derision he put him in a long white robe, and sent him again unto Pilate.
Then the priests and seniors of the people gathered themselves again in a great number, to accuse him before Pilate. To whose accusations, our blessed Savior, holding his peace, gave no word to answer. Pilate, marveling at his silence, and perceivingí no cause in him worthy of death, and that all this proceeded of willful malice, and also admonished of his wife to have nothing to do with him, sought means, what he might, to deliver him. And forsomuch as the manner was for the judge to give the Jews one of the prisoners toward the feast of Easter, he asked whether they would have Jesus or Barabbas the murderer. They required Barabbas to be delivered, crying, Crucify him, Crucify him, upon Jesus, the Son of the living God. And when Pilate asked them what he should do with their king, and said that he found no cause of death in him, they said, they would have no king but Caesar, and if he let Jesus go, he was not Caesarís friend.
Whereupon, Pilate, for fear, seeing he could no otherwise do, called for water to wash his hands, and so gave Jesus to the will of the Jews. Who then took Jesus, and when they first had scourged his blessed body with as many stripes, ye may be sure, as the law would give, which were forty lacking one, then they took off his coat, and put upon him a scarlet pall, F39 platting a sharp crown of thorns upon his tender head, so that the blood came trickling down, and put a reed in his hand instead of a scepter. Then began the cursed Jews again, some to smite him upon the head with a reed, some to spit upon him, some to mock and deride him, with scornful kneeling and blasphemous rebukes, jesting and scoffing at him, as the Philistines did at Samson the same day when he whelmed the whole house upon their heads, and slew them all, Judges 16, to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah, who saith, Upon whom have ye made your scorns and mocks? upon whom have ye opened your blasphemous mouths, and bleared out your tongues, you adulterous and sinful generation? Isaiah 57.
Thus, when the malicious multitude of the caitiffs had taken their pleasure upon him within the guildhall court, the soldiers then put off his purple attire, and arraying him again with his own coat, led him through the city, with his cross on his back, toward the mount of Calvary, till by the way his holy body fainting under the burden, they pressed one Simon of Cyrene to help him with the cross up the hill; and so, coming to the place of Calvary, called Golgotha, after they had nailed him hand and foot fast to the cross, they lifted him up between two thieves; one on the right hand, a blessed confessor, whose name we know not, we may call him saint thief; the other on the left hand, a blasphemous wretch.
When they had all this done, which the good counsel of the Lord had preordained, yet the cankered Jews left him not, but still continued in their furious malice, staring at him, and railing upon him, with all kinds of scornful and opprobrious blasphemies, nodding their heads, and bidding him, Now come down from the cross and save thyself, thou that wouldest destroy the temple of God, and in three days build it again, etc. Thus spake they to fulfill the words of the psalm, saying, All they stared upon me and mocked me; they spake with their lips, and nodded their heads. And what spake they with their lips? He trusted in the Lord, now let him come and deliver him; let him now come and save him, if he do love him, and will have him, etc., Psalm 22. For so spake the princes of the priests and seniors of the people, saying, Others he saved, but himself he cannot save.
If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in him. While the Jews and the priests thus were scorning him, in the mean time, the soldiers which crucified him, drew lots for his coat, because it was seamless, and could not well be divided, to fulfill the rest of the Psalm that followed, saying, They parted my garments amongst them, and upon my coat they drew lots.
The pains and torments which this innocent Lamb of God sustained upon the cross were great, the rebukes and scorns which he underwent were greater; but especially that which he suffered in spirit and soul was greatest of all; when as he, not only in body decaying for weakness and bleeding, but also in soul fainting with anguish and discomfort, began to cry with a loud voice, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? seeming by these words to be in such a ease as happeneth to Godís children sometimes, thinking with themselves that God hath utterly left and forsaken them. Not that God did ever forsake his Son Christ, but this was the voice of his human nature, teaching us not to think it strange, though our feeble heart do faint sometimes through despair or lack of present comfort, as happeneth many times even to the elect children of God.
After all this done, yet one thing lacked more to the fulfilling of the scriptures and finishing of his martyrdom, which in the sixty-ninth psalm was also prophesied of him in these words, They gave me gall for my meat, and when I was dry, they gave me vinegar to drink, etc. which here happened also. For, as Christ our Savior, approaching now to his death, began to languish in body, and to call for drink, saying, I thirst, there was a vessel of vinegar not far off, wherewith they filled a sponge, and so putting it upon a reed, set it to his mouth to drink. So little courtesy did Christ our Lord find in his own country among the Jews, for all his so great miracles and benefits bestowed upon them, that in his thirst he could not obtain a cup of sweet water of them. So thirsty were they of his blood who was so thirsty of their salvation. Which bloody cruelty of theirs cost them afterward full dear; as in the story of their destruction, notoriously did appear to all the world. Thus, after the vinegar was offered him, and he tasted a little thereof, perceiving now all things to be finished, he said, All now is finished, and so it was. For, whatsoever was prefigured or prophesied in the scriptures before of his suffering was now accomplished.
First, that he should be sold to the hands of his enemies. For, as Joseph was sold by Judas to the Egyptians, so was he to the pharisees. David was persecuted by his own children and servants, so was Christ. As David said, Let us depart hence, the same words spake Christ. That he should come sitting upon an ass, poor and humble; so did he. That his friends should all forsake him, so did his disciples. That he should be falsely accused; so was he. That he, should be scourged and wounded for our iniquities; it came to pass. The slaying of the Easter lamb declared that he should die an innocent at Easter; and so did he. The roasting of the lamb declared the hot judgment of God upon him for our sins; he felt no less. Samson was scorned and derided of his enemies, but what followed? Samson being thus derided, overthrew the house, and did more hurt to them, and profit to his people by his death, than by all his life before; even so did Christ. In Isaiah, it was prophesied of his beating about the face and cheeks; so it came to pass. In the Psalms, it was foreshowed of goring his hands and his feet, of telling all his bones, of nodding their heads, of their opprobrious mocks, of dividing his garment, of giving him bitter vinegar. In Zechariah, it was prophesied that the day also should be darkened until evening; and so it was. All these things being now complete which belonged to the pains of his bitter passion, and that Christ our heavenly Savior perceived now nothing to lack more to the fulfilling of our redemption, immediately upon the same commended his spirit to his Fatherís hands with a mighty cry, and so letting down his head, he gave up the ghost.
But before I come to this final dosing up of his life, let us first hear and see, how Christ, thus hanging and silent upon the cross, beginneth his victory, to east out the prince of this world, and what he saith unto him, though not in open speech, yet in effect of spirit, and power of his passion. For this we must understand, that the drift and purpose of Christís death was not to fight with man, nor to wrestle against flesh and blood. No, no; rather he fought for man, and prayed for them that crucified him, saying, Father, forgive them; they know not what they do. His coming and wrestling was against them that were stronger than man, against the principalities and powers, and rulers of darkness of this world, against the spiritual subtle serpent, the old dragon the devil. Who, when he had done and ended his utmost tyranny and violence against him, then Christ the puissant conqueror, where the devil and the world had finished, there beginneth now to work, reasoning with the devil in this effect of words. ďNow art thou taken, thou foul fiend, and fastened in thine own snares.
Thou proud Goliath, which thoughtest no man in all Israel able to match thee; now hast thou found in Israel a man after flesh, able not only to match thee, but also to overmatch thee, who with thine own sword shall strike off thine own head. Thou hast digged a pit, and hast fallen into it thyself, and that worthily. See whither thy wiliness joined with cruelty hath brought thee! So long hast thou raged and reigned, thou foul spirit, in the world, which hath been long under thy tyranny, in most miserable thraldom; not for any just empire thou hadst of thyself over them, but for their wretched sins, which deserved such a cruel tyranny to be set over them. Their wickedness made thee strong, not thy worthiness. Seeing they were not content at the first beginning to be governed by their Creator which made them, he justly gave them such a governor as they deserved, to scourge and plague them for their unjust rebellion. And now, because thou hast had such dominion, and used such tyranny over them at thy pleasure, and none able hitherto to resist thee, thou thoughtest therefore to practice the like violence and tyranny upon my poor flesh also, and hast done what thou canst against me. ďFirst, after my birth, thou didst set Herod to persecute me; thou temptedst me in the desert. What means afterward didst thou seek to trip and ensnare me! Yet my time was not come. At length when the hour of darkness came, thou didst take and bind me, and set thy ban-dogs to bait: me, false witnesses to accuse me, unjust judges to condemn me, thy ministers to scourge me, thy soldiers with this sharp garland to crown me, thy sycophants to scorn me, and after thou layedst this heavy cross upon my shoulders; and not content with that, thou hast strained also my poor body upon the same, and nailed me fast both hand and foot. In these my torments and bitter pains I was dry, requiring a little drink, and thou gavest me vinegar. All this I take to be thy doing, and no oneís else. For this people are but thy instruments and workmen; thou art he that settest them on. Thou art the master of these revels, the ringleader of this dance, the captain of this crew. And as thou art the arch enemy to all mankind, so because thou seest me come in similitude of sinful flesh, thou art mine enemy also, and hast wrought me all this villany, bringing me to this cross, and making me a spectacle here to all the world. And yet, not satisfied with all this, after thou hast thus hailed and nailed me to this contumelious gibbet, now to make amends, in mockery thou biddest me come down if I can, and save myself. Yes, Satan, I can come down, and will come down and save myself. For that power have I, both to lay down my life and to take it again, and therefore I will save myself, but so as I may also save all mankind with me; and not at thy pleasure I will do it, but in such order as the scriptures require; for I come therefore, to fulfill the scriptures. ďAnd seeing all this is now fulfilled that belongeth to my passion, and that thou hast done what thy uttermost malice can; now, where thou dost end, there will I begin to show what I will and can do. And forsomuch as thou hast thus fastened my body to this cross, I ask thee now, Satan, what have I offended, or what cause hadst thou to do this unto me? Behold this body with all the members thereof; here is my mouth, what guile or blasphemy did ever pass these lips? My tongue, as it hath been ever talking of heavenly things, and preaching the will and message of my heavenly Father, ready to instruct and exhort all men, so what idle or angry word did it ever utter? When did it ever speak evil of any, or defame any creature, or flatter with the truth at any time? What concupiscence came ever in these eyes of mine, or lust into my heart? My hands, which have always been stretched forth to do all men good, thou hast here stretched upon the tree, and what have these hands ever committed? though I have been stricken, when did they ever offer to strike any? they have washed poor menís feet, they have touched and healed foul lepers; what harm have they done to any, either man or child? whose goods did they ever spoil? what bribe or bribes came ever between these fingers? My weary feet likewise thou hast nailed to the cross, which never stepped to any evil, nor walked in any wicked way; but always have been occupied, travelling in my Fatherís errand, and in my appointed vocation, ready to run and go, both day and night, to succor my neighbors, sparing no travel, from place to place, from city to city; to set forth Godís glory, and call all men to the kingdom of life; continually laboring on foot, without easement either of horse or mule, save only a little before my passion, to fulfill the scriptures, I used the help of a poor ass to ease me into the city. From my feet go to my head, which thou hast so sharply pierced with a crown of thorns. What hath this head committed or devised that might turn either to the dishonor of God or disprofit of my neighbor? Briefly, from top to toe, what part findest thou in all my body that deserved thus to be handled? From my bodily parts go further to the inward motions and affections of the mind; search me both within and without. What pride, disdain, hate, envy, malice, hypocrisy, vain-glory, self-love, did ever stir in me? Did I not humble and debase myself always under all men? Examine my whole life to the precise law of God, and search me body and soul; if I have not in body and soul, honored my Lord my God with body and soul, with all my heart, and my whole strength; if I have taken His name in vain; if I have not sanctified the sabbath-day; if I have not honored my father and mother, obeying my Father to the death, even to the death of the cross; if I have not ever loved my neighbor as myself, yea, better than myself; if I ever lusted alter my neighborís house, his wife, his ox, ass, or any thing he hath; if I have not ever done to others as I would be done to myself, etc. ďWhen thou temptedst me in the desert, did I give thee place? Have not I always resisted thee? Come, search, I say, and ransack my whole life, summon a parliament of all thy wicked spirits, call also thy scribes and pharisees unto thee; try and spy all my works, thoughts, cogitations, words, and doings. This I say to thee and to them all, Which of you all can charge me with any sin? Which if thou canst do, then mayest thou justly bring me to this confusion, and hold me in this death, for the reward of sinners by the law, is death. But if thou canst find, no such thing in me, (as thou canst not,) wherein to charge me, either to do that was against the law, or Godís law to command any jot which I have not fully observed; then is it no right, neither will I suffer either thee or death to hold that which belongeth not to you; but justly will deliver myself out of the thraldom of death, and not only myself; but also will deliver them out of prison of death, whom thou hast hitherto captired; and letting them out, thee only will I chain up in death and darkness, as a transgressor of Godís holy law, because the law of God justly committeth to death them that are transgressors. The law saith, Thou shalt not kill, and he that striketh and killeth shall be guilty of judgment, etc. And here thou hast persecuted and laid hands upon me which am guiltless, and most unjustly hast shed innocent blood. See, Satan, whither thy greediness hath brought thee. So greedy wast thou to devour all men, that now thou hast swallowed one bone or morsel that shall choke thee, and make thee give up again all that ever thou hast eaten before! ďRememberest thou not how Adam, our old progenitor, having all the fruit and the whole orchard of paradise at his will, was not therewith content, but needs would reach his hand to the tree which only was forbidden; and by that one lost all the other, and deserved death for his disobedience? No less was it forbidden thee by justice, finding no cause in me, to murder me upon this tree, which is ordained for the guilty and not for the innocent.
And therefore, for thy unlawful greediness shalt thou be rewarded with the same price as he was. For it is no reason, that he which was seduced by thee, should be punished; and thou which wast both the author of his falling, and also guilty of the like transgression thyself, shouldest escape unpunished. As Adam, therefore, being lord of paradise, lost all he had for presuming upon one fruit forbidden, so, because thou, having authority given upon all sinners, hast likewise presumed upon one that is no sinner, hast forfeited thereby to me all thine authority which thou hadst before. So that henceforth I discharge all wretched sinners from thy jurisdiction, and the power of death, whosoever come to me. Avoid, therefore, thou cruel murderer; surrender thy hold out of thy possession; let go thy captives; yield from thee the bill of debt, wherewith thou hast them indebted to my Father, and condemned unto death; whom now I here discharge, and receive for my people, and set them free for ever. ďAnd lest thou shouldest think me herein to do thee any wrong, or to do more than I may, I would therefore thou shouldest well know, Satan, that neither I will here proceed with thee by my absolute power, as I might by reason of my divine nature, which I have united here to my humanity, for that were but to overcome thee by myself for myself; neither yet by mere mercy will save sinners from thee, but by plain justice and order of law I will proceed with thee, and in my manhood I will conquer thee, not for myself, but for man, because in my manhood I have satisfied the debt of all mankind. Which being discharged, then good right it is that the books should be cancelled, so that thou shalt have no more claim nor title to them. For this cause, I took this nature of man upon me, and came in similitude of sinful flesh, suffering thee all this while to work thy extremity against me, not that I needed for mine own part to have fallen into thy hand except I would; but for their sake, because I would clear them out of all debt whom thou hadst in durance. ďNow, therefore, whatsoever it is that they owe to my Father, or to his law, here I offer myself bound to answer by the law the uttermost farthing for them. If their bodies have offended almighty God, my body hath made amends. If their souls are impure, my soul hath made a recompense. If the law require life for life, blood for blood, head for head, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot; I set my life, my blood, my head, eye, tooth, heart, hand, foot, and every member of my body for theirs. For what member in all my body is it, that thou hast not tormented? And though thou hast justly condemned them, and death deservedly hath slain them; yet I, being wrongfully condemned of thee, do here abandon thy just condemnation. And because their deserved death also shall be dissolved, as I have paid all other debts, so will I also pay the debt of death, and lay down my life for them. Which being done, neither shalt thou, nor death, nor the law, have any more interest upon them. For as by disobedience of one, all his posterity coming after him were worthily condemned to death; so by the same justice it is convenient, that by my obedience, all my posterity, that is, all they which issue out of me, by spiritual regeneration of faith and baptism, should be partakers of my life.Ē
After this effect of speech, when Jesus had spoken to the Devil; speaking likewise unto Death, he saith to him, ďAnd thou terrible tyrant, thou dreadful Death, armed with the justice of God; the mortal enemy to all flesh; whom no man was ever yet able to resist, and which art so ready here and so boldly set up by Satan to seek my life, neither shalt thou escape my hands. For, as thou art the destruction to all others, so will I be thy destruction; thy death, O death; thy sting, O hell. And as I have overthrown the devil, thy master, and expelled him from his kingdom, and spoiled him of all his munitions; so will I also swallow thee up in victory, and throw thee down headlong for ever. And albeit I need not to suffer thy force unless I list, for mine own part, because thou hast no power upon me, and might therefore save myself from thy cruel danger if I would; yet for my love to mankind, because their life shall not perish whom my death may save, and because I will not save myself without them, but will deliver them out of thy hands, for their sakes, to pay their debt, and that by my undeserved cross, I may cross them out of the book of death which have deserved death, I am content. Come, death, therefore, and do thine office, I willingly here yield my life to thee. And yet neither will I yield it to thy hands, nor give it over at thy pleasure. And although thou come here with thine iron coulter or brazen maul to break my bones, yet will I not suffer thee so to do, neither shalt thou break one bone of me. To fulfill the scripture, I give over my life; yet not at thy will, but at mine own pleasure. For be it known to thee, O Death, that I have power to lay down my life, and to resume it again at mine own will.Ē And thus Jesus speaking, bowed down his head, and gave up his spirit to the hands of his Father, and so departed.
And now, lest ye should think these words of Christ above recited, to be invented of me, as a rhetorical fiction, and not confirmed rather by authentic scripture, ye shall hear what the Lord Jesus himself speaketh out of the prophets and out of evangelists, and his holy apostles, and what the virtue of his passion daily speaketh in our hearts by his Holy Spirit. First, ye read in St. John, what Christ our Savior, speaking of Satan, saith, The prince of this world cometh, and in me he hath nothing, etc., John 14, meaning that Satan was coming to lay hands upon him, and had no lawful cause so to do. And therefore, because he without lawful cause would presume to set upon him, we read what followeth after in the same evangelist. Now, saith the Lord, is the prince of this world judged, etc., John 12. And in another place, Now, saith Christ, is the judgment of this world, now the prince of this world shall be east out. Also in the same place, When the Son of man, saith our Savior, shall be lifted up, I will draw all things to myself, etc., John 12. And in St. Luke he saith, When a strong armed man watcheth his house, all is in peace which he possesseth; but when a stronger than he cometh and overcometh him, he taketh from him his munition wherein he trusted, and divideth his goods, etc., Luke 11. In Genesis 3, we read also, that the Seed of the woman shall break the serpentís head. Furthermore, when we read the words of Moses to Pharaoh, although it is in other persons, yet therein is represented and shadowed to us the very proceeding and working of Christ our spiritual deliverer, against the spiritual Pharaoh, the great prince of this world, the devil.
And here an end of Christís sorrowful pains. After whose death the cruel tormentors, setting a sharp spear to his side, thrust it to his tender heart, from which soon streamed out blood and water, to fill up the full ransom of our redemption. And thus have ye the whole course of Christís blessed passion briefly run over, with the principal parts and circumstances thereof.
Wherein hath been noted to you his selling, his binding and handling, his haling and tossing to and fro, first to Annas, then to Caiaphas, then to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, from Herod to Pilate again, from Pilate to the guildhall, from the hall to the bar, where he was falsely accused, from the bar to the post and pillar, where he was cruelly scourged, from the pillar through the city, from the city to the mount, from the mount up to the rack of the cross, where no drop of blood was left in all his body. What torments of death were lacking? What misery could be added more than he in this passion sustained? Here were whips and scourges, pricks and thorns, cords and ropes, buffets and blows, mocks and mowes, F40 railing and reviling, hammer and nails, cross and gibbet, thirst and vinegar, reed and spear, with such like tortures and other pangs of his innocent passion, to use the words of Nazianzen, these were the instruments of our redemption. All these he, most patiently for our sakes, suffered in his most blessed body. Which, though they are now past in him, yet is it good for us ever to have them still in fresh mind and memory, not only on this Good Friday, but every day, both daily and hourly. Whereby we may learn daily to suppress this proud flesh of ours, and to crucify with him our crooked affections. For what flesh now can well be proud, beholding our Lord and Savior so poor on the cross? Or who can set by the world, that seeth the world to be such an extreme enemy to the Son of God our Redeemer? and not only to him, but also to all his members to him belonging? Or what soul, having any spark of grace, can now give himself over to sin, considering this terrible judgment and severity of God upon his own natural and only begotten Son, for our sins, which otherwise could not be cleared, but by such a dear price, that is, the heart blood of such a glorious person. But of this enough, which rather should be mused upon in your hearts, than amplified in words. 3. Having thus passed over the pains and punishments of Christ; to proceed now to the third and last part of my text, it remaineth further to entreat next of the glorious triumph of our Savior, which consequently followed after his death. Touching which death of his, many things are singularly to be considered, or rather to be wondered at, which pass the course of all nature and example of all others. For to all other men so commonly it happens, be they ever so victorious or puissant in this life, that when death cometh, it maketh an end of all their felicity and triumphs; who leave all behind them, and carry nothing with them, but are carried themselves to nothing. But in this death of Christ all is contrary. For here, death is turned to life, extreme contempt to eternal glory, poverty to riches, misery to felicity; life endeth and life beginneth; death conquereth and is conquered; that which is wont to be the end to all other, is to him a new beginning.
Such a glorious thing was death to him, which is so miserable to all others; and not to him alone glorious, but by him also glorious to us all; so that of one death riseth a double victory, a double triumph. He overcoemth and we overcome; he triumpheth, and we triumph; he by himself, and we by him. And though he overcometh alone, yet he overcometh not for himself alone, but for us. For in his victory consisteth our victory, in his righteousness standeth our righteousness, according to the words of St.
Of this glorious victory of Christ after his death, the scripture in many places recordeth, as in the gospel of St. Luke; So it behooved, saith he, that Christ should suffer, and afterward to enter into his glory, etc,. Luke 24. And what glory this is, St. Paul to the Philippians showeth; where, after he had first set forth the great humility of his obedience to death, and to the death of the cross, proceeding then further, and wondering at his exaltation, he saith, Wherefore God hath exalted him, and given him a name above all names, that in the name of Jesus should every knee bow, both of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that all tongues should confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, unto the glory of God the Father, etc., Philippians 2.
Of his kingdom also, and of his power, following after his passion, thus we read in the evangelists; Repent and amend, saith John Baptist, for the kingdom of heaven draweth near, etc., Matthew 3. And in St. Matthew 10 and St. Luke 10, where Christ, speaking to his disciples, biddeth them go forth and preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven draweth near, etc. Again, speaking to his disciples, he telleth them that he would not drink of that vinegrape, till he drank it again with them in the kingdom of his Father, etc., Matthew 26. Or, until the kingdom of God were come, Luke 22.
Again, All things are given to me of my Father, etc., Luke 10. Again, in another place, he confesseth, that the Father hath given all judg ment to his Son, John 5. Also, that his Father had given unto him power of all flesh, John 17. And, I will draw all things to myself, etc., John 12. All which places are to be understood, not absolutely in respect of his divinity, but of his humanity; not as he is God, the Word, but as he is Godman, God and man, or God in man; God clothed with man, two natures in one person united; so is this power given him. Whereby, whosoever now will be saved, must come to him; whosoever will come to the Father, must come by him; who not only is the way to life, but is both the Way and Life.
As there was no corn to be had in all the countries about Egypt, but only by the hands of Joseph, who after long affliction was so highly exalted; so is there no grace, no life, no remission, no Holy Ghost, now to be looked for, but at the hands of this our crucified Joseph. He is the brazen serpent which only healeth the serpentís wounds. He is that holy temple, where God only is to be found and worshipped, and no where else. Without him there is no hearing God, no helping God, no God for us at all. He that seeketh or searcheth any God, unless this God clothed in man, wadeth as in the ocean sea, where he findeth no bottom.
This I speak for causes. Some such I see which seem to profess a certain form of religion, but not according to Christ Jesus, or, as St. Paul saith, not holding the head. And although nothing be more intolerable to manís nature, than God in his naked, unmeasurable, and incomprehensible majesty, as Martin Luther truly saith, yet some such there are, fantastically spirited, who, setting Christ aside, wander in their speculative contemplations, they cannot tell whither, thinking to find out a God to save them by their own works and service, which they shall never find. So the Jew thinketh to be saved by the law of Moses, the Turk by his alcoran, the papist by his good deeds, the monk and friar by his works of perfection.
Whosoever therefore hath to deal with God for his justification, salvation, remission of sins, and life everlasting, let him strain his brain no further with climbing speculations; but humbly seek and come to this incarnate God, Christ Jesus crucified, God dwelling in man, clothed with man, Mediator between God and man, the natural Son of God, and natural son of a virgin, bone of our bones, and flesh of our flesh, and there begin his salvation, as Luther well teacheth, where Christ beginneth his incarnation, and fall down to the manger and to the lap of the virgin, where this child lieth, and there behold this blessed Son, given to us, born for us, sucking, growing, conversant here in middle earth, teaching, preaching, bleeding, dying, rising again, ascending above all heavens, having full power above all things. And no doubt but this child shall bear him out, and bring him at length where he shall see face to face. In the mean season, let us anchor here in this haven, where we shall find rest and safe harbor, and beware we go no further nor lower, but only to this crucified person, except we go in his name, and be sure to take him with us wheresoever we go. If he be our King, whither then can the subject go further than to his liege prince and sovereign? If he be our Shepherd, whither can the wandering sheep seek but to his Pastor? Whither should the desolate conscience fly but to his own Bishop? Who is the glory to the wife, but the husband? Where can the member look for succor, but at the head? Or, what is it that we can lack, either in heaven or earth, but this our Head, our Husband, our Bishop, our Pastor, our Prince and King is able to supply? When the people of Egypt fainted for hunger and sought for corn, yet when they had all done, at length they were all sent to Joseph to be served. In Him ye are complete, saith St. Paul, Colossians 2. as though he would say, there is nothing in all the world lacking to your necessities, but in him ye have it fully and perfectly. If ye would have grace, peace, mercy, quietness of conscience, forgiveness of sins, spiritual comfort, gifts of the Holy Ghost, resurrection, the favor of God, reconciliation, heaven, and life everlasting, he hath it in his own hands to give you; for in him it hath pleased God that all fullness should dwell, saith St. Paul, Colossians 1. And thus briefly ye have heard to what power and glory Christ our Savior is now advanced, after his death and ignominious sufferings.
Now of his victory and triumph a word or two. Albeit I am somewhat weary, and have made you weary also, I fear with long standing; yet were it pity that such heavenly matter coming now to hand, should pass untouched. In worldly victories and great triumphs, when any famous act is done, or prowess achieved, the captain is wont to bring before his triumphal chariot some notable spoil, or certain of his principal enemies subdued by him, for a spectacle to the people. So David brought the head and sword of Goliath into Jerusalem; Augustus brought Parthian spoils into the city of Rome; Sapor, king of Persia, brought Valerian the emperor in a golden cage. Of divers other famous and triumphant victories we read in histories; as of Alexander in subduing the barbarians; Themistocles in repelling the Persians; Emilius the Macedonians; Scipio, the son of Emilius, against Hannibal and the Numantians; Pompey against the Armenians and Asians; Caesar against. Pompey; Lucullus against Mithridates; Marcellus against the Sicilians and Carthaginians, with divers more. But amongst all victories, stratagems, and triumphs, never was, nor ever shall be any to be compared with this glorious conquest of Christ our Savior, which exceedeth all triumphs that ever were, so far as the enemies whom he subdued were exceeding in strength above all enemies that man either did or ever could overcome. For the enemies whom those valiant warriors by violence and force of soldiers oppressed, though they were able in arms, yet were they but men, and such as might be overcome by men. But these, over whom this our Conqueror triumphed, were such adversaries as conquered even the conquerors themselves, yea, all conquerors that ever were; whom no flesh could withstand, no sword repress, no policy avoid.
And these hath he vanquished, not by aid of any creature but only by himself, fighting alone. Of the which adversaries the first was the spiritual great Goliath, the devil, the mighty monarch of this world. The other was Death, the capital enemy to all flesh and blood. Of whose most happy overthrow, partly I have touched before. Besides these and with these cometh another great enemy, or rather greater than they, which being called in scripture Godís heavy wrath or hatred, was a sore and intolerable adversary to man; whom this worthy Captain likewise put to flight and slew. And how? By his cross; that is, in being slain himself. Whereof we read in scripture thus, By his cross he hath reconciled us to God, killing enmity or wrath in himself, Ephesians 2.
With this wrath, or rather before this wrath and hatred of God, cometh another strong enemy called sin, with a cruel company of deadly adversaries waiting upon him, as hell, damnation, desperation, destruction, expulsion, the worm of conscience, thraldom, captivity, malediction; of which malediction first we read in Genesis, Cursed be the earth for thy sake; with toil and great labor thou shalt feed thereof, and get thy bread with the sweat of thy face, till thou return to the earth again from whence thou camest; for earth thou art, and unto earth thou shalt return, etc., Genesis 3. Again, of this malediction we read, Deuteronomy 28.
Cursed be thou in the city, cursed in the field, cursed be all that thou hast and possessest; cursed be thou, and all thy offspring, etc., with a number of other miserable calamities, which not only we may read in that chapter pronounced against us, but daily may feel by experience working in us.
Whereof ensue all these hard distresses and heaps of infinite miseries, slavery, oppression under tyrannous persecutions, plagues, murders, wars, dangers by land, dangers by water, dangers by all elements, servitude, penury, imprisonments, casualties, ruins, adversities, injuries, fears, cares, heartbreakings, heart-burnings, cruel handlings, painful sufferings, sighs and sorrows, losses, grievances, afflictions of body, afflictions of spirit; and who is able to recite all the effects of Godís malediction laid upon man for sin? All which heaps and multitudes of world malediction, the death of this our Lord and Sovereign hath dissolved and despatched, triumphing by himself over them all, according to the words of St. Paul, Galatians 3.
Christ, to redeem us from the curse of the law, was made for us accursed; that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, etc.
Besides these triumphs and valiant conquests of Christ our Savior above specified, remaineth another triumph as glorious as all the rest, against a mighty, a sore, and a stout enemy, of whom all our enemies took their force. This enemy was of so great effect and divine authority, that so long as he reigned over us, neither could we be safe for hint, nor yet was it in our power by any means to avoid him from us. But before I begin to speak of this enemy, I will first here be like Joseph of Arimathea, and reverently take down the body of our Lord from the cross and lay him in his sepulcher, till ye shall hear of him within these three days more again.
And here having now taken down the crucified body of Jesus from the cross, to occupy your eyes, and delight your minds, I intend by the grace of Christ crucified to set up here in Paulís cross, or rather in Christís cross, another crucifix, a new crucifix, a new rood F41 unto you, a crucifix that may do all christian hearts good to behold. This crucifix is he that crucified all mankind, and hath brought many a man to the gallows, to the cross, to the gibbet, and at last crucified our Lord and Savior also. So severe was he, that he spared none; so strong, being armed with Godís justice and judgment, that none could escape him. And now shall you see him hanged up and crucified himself; the most joyful and most happy sight that ever came to man. Lift up your heads, therefore, O ye faithful of the Lord, with joyful thanks unto God; and as you lamented even now in beholding the innocent Son of God wrongly crucified and bleeding upon the cross; so now rejoice as much in beholding this new crucifix which before was a crucifier and a judge, but now both judged and crucified himself, to all your comforts. Ye muse peradventure, and marvel what great crucifix this should be; and no doubt a great crucifix it is, and therefore required a great crucifier, and so he had. Both great conquerors and both themselves crucified, howbeit not of like greatness, nor of like condition. The one our Savior, the other our condemner; the one for a few hours crucified, the other for ever; the one wrongfully, the other justly put to the cross; the one of his own mere will, the other of mere force and conquest. Of the one I have preached unto you already, which is Christ Jesus crucified; of the other St. Paul now shall tell you.
His name is, The Law of the Commandments, called otherwise, The Handwriting that is against us. Whereof ye shall hear what St. Paul speaketh, both in the epistle to the Ephesians, <490201> chapter 2, and also the Colossians, <510201> chapter 2. This law, saith he, of commandments, or Godís handwriting that was against us in decrees, he hath made void, abolished, and hath affixed to his cross, and spoiling principates and potentates, hath made an open show of them, triumphing over them openly in himself. And so have ye upon one cross two crucifixes, two most excellent potentates that ever were, the Son of God, and the law of God, and wrestling together about manís salvation, both cast down, and both slain upon one cross, howbeit not after like sort. First the Son of God was overthrown, and took the fall, not for any weakness in himself, but was contented to take the foil, for our victory. By this fall, the law of God in casting him down, was east in his own trip and forgot himself. For where the law saith, He that doeth the commandments shall live in them, Christ kept the law, and yet contrary to the law, lived not in it. And therefore as it was against all order of justice and law that he should be condemned, which never knew any sin; so stood it with good justice, that the law, which offended in condemning the innocent, should forfeit his right to him whom he wrongfully had offended.
Whereupon, in conclusion it followed, that the law which before was holy, profitable, immaculate, and necessary, being now found a transgressor, must needs give place to a holier person, who never transgressed, and so rightly was taken as guilty and culpable, and fast nailed hand and foot to the cross; according as we read in St. Paulís words, The law condemnatory which was written against us in commandments he cancelled, and affixed to his cross, triumphing in himself etc., Colossians 2.
Where it is to be understood in crucifying this law of God, not that the commandments of God are now crucified and abolished, so that they are now not to be obeyed or practiced of us any more. St. Paul saith not, that the commandments of Godís law are crucified, but the handwriting that was against us in commandments to be crucified, etc. meaning thereby the curse, malediction, or condemnation of the law to be extinguished; so that the commandments of God, though they teach what is to be done, yet they condemn not them which are in Christ Jesus; and though they bear rule in the body so long as it liveth here, yet they rule not over the conscience to condemnation. For therefore was Christ made accursed for us, to redeem us from the curse of the law, etc., Galatians 3. So that Christ, and the law, in a true christian conscience, are contrary and incompatible, as the schoolmen term it; or, as we may say in plain English, are two things which cannot stand together; but either Christ must give place and the law stand, or else the law, (the condemnation of the law I mean,) must end, and Christ reign in the conscience of the christian penitent. For both these, Christ and the law, grace and malediction, cannot govern together. But Christ, the Son of God, who once died, can die no more, but must reign for ever.
Wherefore, the law with his strength, sting, and curse, must surcease and have an end: so that as Christís kingdom first beginneth upon the cross, even so the kingdom of the law upon the same cross, and at the same time, expireth.
And here cometh in that which in scripture is called christian liberty. Of which liberty St. Paul thus writeth to the Galatians, Christ was made under the law, that he might redeem them which were under the law in bondage, etc., Galatians 4. And again, In the liberty, saith he, wherein Christ hath set you, stand fast, and come no more under the yoke of bondage, etc. By which liberty is meant, not the liberty of flesh, for us to run at large and do what we list (as many there are now-a-days which abuse christian liberty to carnal license) but the liberty belonging only to the inward conscience of a justified christian, which once was in bondage of the law, not only to obey it, but also in danger of perpetual death and malediction by disobeying the same. From this danger Christ now hath utterly cleared all true penitent and trembling consciences, setting them at liberty, not from the use and exercise of the law, but from the dominion and judicial authority of the law.
And that is it which St. Paul here speaketh and meaneth, saying, He hath despatched the obligation or handwriting that was against us in decrees, and hath crucified it fast to the cross, etc., Colossians 2. Wherein the phrase of St. Paulís speech should be noted. If he had but said, that Christ had plucked us out from the danger of the law, or that he had stayed the sentence of judgment against us, or had reprieved us from the condenmation of the law, it had been much, and a joyful matter, no doubt of singular comfort unto us. For what more comfort can be to a guilty person, cast by the law, than to hear the peremptory sentence of judgment against him stayed, revoked, or turned away? And yet, in this comfort, some fear remaineth withal, so long as the authority of the Judge endureth, and the law still standeth, whom he offended. But now mark, O ye faithful of the Lord, especially you that labor and are laden in conscience, and ponder well the heavenly message of this worthy apostle, what he speaketh of the law, and how he speaketh. He saith not that the sentence of judgment is stayed, and that we are pardoned; nor saith that the action is fallen and we are reprieved. No, no; he goeth further, and telleth us plainly, that the law, which was against us, our accuser and condemner, is slain, killed, crucified, and nailed fast, both hand and foot, and so crucified, not as Christ was, to rise again the third day; neither hath the law such power to rise again as the Son of God did, but remaineth slain and abolished, never to rise again nor to have power against them that are in Christ Jesus.
Whereby the case of our salvation standeth firm and substantial, without all fear of judgment and condemnation. For if there be no accusing nor condemning but by the law, then to kill the law which killeth us, what is it else but to discharge us from condemnation for ever? He that delivereth his friend for a time out of his enemyís hand, doth him a pleasure; but he that killeth the enemy and riddeth him quite out of the way, giveth perpetual safety. So remission of sins by Christ, if it were for some times, and not for all times; for some sins, and not for all sins; then the law had lived still. But now the killing and crucifying of the law, importeth full remission to be absolute, and our safety to be perpetual. Whereby cometh now the saying of the apostle to be true, that there is no condemnation now to them that are in Christ Jesus, which walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, etc., Romans 8. For the law being slain, which was the accuser, who shall now lay accusation against the elect? It is God that justifieth, and who is he then, or where is he that shall condemn? If ye will needs know where he is, St. Paul will tell you. There he is, saith he, upon the tree, upon the cross of Christ fast crucified. A dead man, saith our proverb, can do no hurt. Even so no trembling conscience needeth now to fear the power of the law, that is in Christ. Neither is there to him now any law to condemn him, as the said apostle most comfortably teacheth us, saying, Sin shall not prevail over you, Romans 6. And why? Because the law, which is the power of sin, 1 Corinthians 15 is now dead to us. So that like as if a woman be discharged from her first husband, being dead, and hath married another man, the first husband hath no more power over her; even so we now, being espoused unto Christ our second husband, are freed utterly from our first husband, the law; and, as St. Paul in the same place saith, are no more under the law, that is, under the dominion and malediction of the law, but under grace; that is, under perpetual remission of sins, committed not only before our justification, but as well also after, and during all our life long.
Adding this lesson withal, as followeth in the same place, not that sinners should sin the more therefore because they are under grace, but, that weak infirmity might be relieved, broken consciences comforted, and repentingí sinners holpen from desperation, to the praise of Godís glory. For as God forgiveth not sinners because they should sin; so neither doth infirmity of falling diminish the grace of Christ, where faith with repentance followeth.
These things standing so, seeing that our first husband, the law, is now deceased, as St. Paul telleth us, let us weigh our state with the scriptures, and yoke ourselves no more under subjection of the law, from whom we are delivered. I speak not here with AEtius, Eunomius, or with the Anomean heretics F42 against the due obedience of Godís holy law, (as our adversaries falsely belie us,) but I speak with St. Paul against the malediction and condemnation of the law, under whose jurisdiction all we were once contained, as the wife under the law of her husband. To him first we were by nature coupled, being to us a sharp and a bitter husband, and rather a tyrant, or an austere warder and schoolmaster, than a husband, and could in no case be divorced from him, but only by death. And now St.
Paul here bringeth us word, that he is dead to us, and we to him, By the body of Christ, that we may lawfully now marry another husband, even Him that is risen again from the dead, to fructify unto God, through obedience of good life.
And thus much touching the triumph of this glorious Prince. Wherein you have heard what mighty and perilous enemies he hath subdued, and all by himself; and yet not for himself, but for us; forsomuch as the debt was not his but ours, which he for us did acquit. For we had forfeited to the devil our soul, to death our bodies, our conscience to the law. He then, taking our quarrel in hand, trod upon the serpentís head, threw down the devil, destroyed death, captived captivity, and crucified the law. So that the labor was his, the victory is ours; he had the pains, we have the profits, according as we read in John 4. Others, saith he, have labored, and you have entered into their labors, etc. Also in the same place, One soweth the ground, and another reapeth the fruit, etc.
Now, what fruit it is we do reap by this blessed sowing of Christ, (who not only was the sower, but also the seed sown,) it is showed now in the end of our text and message, in these words of the apostle, That we might be made the righteousness of God by hint.
In which few words is briefly compacted all the felicity that ever can come to mankind. For as sin was the spring original of all the miseries and mischiefs that ever happened to man before; so now righteousness likewise is the original cause that bringeth life and all goodness to man. Here then is righteousness set against sin, two contraries fighting, one to counterpoise with the other, both of equal force to contrary effects. For as sin and wickedness was perfect in us, which brought death and condemnation to man, so again that righteousness which bringeth life and eternal salvation, must likewise be perfect in man. Which, because it cannot be found in our own actions, must be sought in the actions of another, and imputed to us as our own, which may stand effectual. And that is it which the apostle here saith, That we might be made the righteousness of God by him, etc. As much as to say, that we might be accounted righteous before God with that righteousness., not which is in us and is imperfect, but which is in Christ, and by him is imputed to us through faith, which justifieth us before God.
Wherefore, we must remember here to make a distinction of righteousness, by the Scripture, which according to the doctrine of St. Paul is taken two manner of ways. One kind of righteousness is that which is called the righteousness of God, or righteousness of faith, and the same also may be called righteousness passive. The other kind of righteousness is that which is called our own righteousness, or righteousness of works. Which also in us is called righteousness active. And this distinction is necessary to be marked, or else we shall be greatly deceived, and wander blindfold in the doctrine of salvation.
Of these two sorts of righteousness, the first, which is the righteousness of faith, is it which only standeth before God and none other, and therefore is called of St. Paul the righteousness of God; because it hath so pleased God, by his promise, to accept and impute this righteousness, standing by faith in his Son, to everlasting salvation. Whereupon St. Paul to the Philippians, writing of the difference between these two sorts of righteousness, refuseth the righteousness of the law, that he might be found in Christ, having not his own righteousness but the righteousness of Christ, which is of faith, Philippians 3. Again, the said apostle, writing of the Jews, which sought for righteousness and found it not; and also of the Gentiles, which sought not for it and yet found it, showeth the reason why.
Because, saith he, the one sought it as by works and the law, and came not to it; who not knowing the righteousness of God, and seeking to set up their own righteousness, did not submit themselves to the righteousness which is of God. The other, who were the Gentiles, sought not for it, and yet obtained righteousness, that righteousness which is of faith, etc., Romans 9. Also, in the third chapter of the same epistle, St. Paul writing of this righteousness which ariseth by faith in Christ, calleth it Godís righteousness, coming not by our works, but by his promised imputation, in these words; Whom God, saith he, hath set up for a propitiation by faith in his blood, thereby to make manifest his own righteousness in tolerating our sins, etc. Again, in the same chapter his words are plain and manifest. The righteousness of God, saith he, is by faith in Jesus Christ, in all and upon all that do believe. And likewise where he writeth in the first chapter in this wise; For the righteousness of God by it is revealed from faith to faith, etc.
And thus have ye heard of Godís righteousness through faith, coming not by our works, but by Godís grace and imputation; how St. Paul commendeth it, and how God alloweth it to justification, Now, as touching the other kind of righteousness which is called our righteousness, and cometh by manís working, and not only by imputation, ye shall hear what the scripture reporteth. All our righteousness, saith Isaiah, is like a defiled cloth, Isaiah 64. When ye have done all ye can, saith our Savior, say that ye are but unprofitable servants, Luke 17. Likewise St. Paul, Philippians 3. speaking of the righteousness which cometh by the law, and weighing the same with the other righteousness which standeth by faith in Christ, so greatly abhorreth that sort of righteousness of his own, that he hath accounted, and doth still account, all those things which he thought before to be excellent vantage, now to be loss, and filthy dung, that he might win Christ, and be found in him, not having his own righteousness by the law, but that righteousness which cometh of God through faith. And thus ye see the true righteousness which standeth before God, not to proceed of the law, but of faith; not to be ours, but Godís righteousness; not to be active, but merely passive; that is, not that we are the agents or doers thereof, but only receivers of it at the hands of God, according as the phrase of this our text rightly purports. For the apostle saith not actively, that we should make or work the righteousness of God; but passively, that we should be made the righteousness of God. By whom? Not by ourselves, lest we should glory in ourselves; but by another; that is, by Him that was made sin for us, and suffered his passion for us, to whom be glory for ever.
Wherefore, whosoever studieth to be found righteous in Godís sight, let him learn diligently by the doctrine of St. Paul, to make a separation, as far as is from heaven and earth, between these two; that is, between the righteousness of works, and righteousness of faith; and in anywise beware he bring none other means for his justification but only this, which the apostle here speaketh of, By Him, that is, only by faith apprehending the body or person of Christ Jesus crucified.
And thus much concerning the triumph of Christ crucified, and what fruit and virtue redoundeth to us by his glorious passion. By which passion you have heard how all our enemies are subdued, all gotten, all cleared and discharged, all finished and consummated; by the blood of whose cross all things are pacified, both in heaven and in earth, Colossians 1. By the body of whose flesh we are reconciled. By whose blood we have redemption and remission of our sins, Ephesians 1, and we that once were far off, are made near unto God, Ephesians 2. By whose stripes we are made whole, Isaiah 53. By whose death, death is destroyed and life brought to light, 2 Timothy 1. And he also destroyed which had the power of death, that is, the devil; and they delivered which lived under fear of death all their life in bondage, Hebrews 2. By whose flesh is taken away the division and separation between God and us, Ephesians 2. In whose one body both Jews and Gentiles are united to one God, Ephesians 2. By whose obedience we are made just, Romans 5. By whose righteousness we are justified to life. By whose curse we are blessed from malediction of the law, Galatians 3. By whose poverty we are rich, <470801> Corinthians 8. Who is our peace, Ephesians 2. Who is our Advocate with the Father, and the propitiation for our sins,1 John 2. Who was made of God for us our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 1 Corinthians 1. Who saveth his people from all their sins, Matthew 1. Who taketh away the sins of the world, John 1. Who hath torn to pieces the obligation against us, Colossians 2. Who justifieth the wicked by faith, Romans 4. By whom we are at peace with God, Romans 5. By whom we have boldness to enter with all confidence through faith in him, Ephesians 3. In whom we are made full and complete, Colossians 2. Jonah was no sooner cast out of the ship into the sea, than the tempestuous winds ceased, and the sea ceased its raging, Jonah 1. The paschal lamb was no sooner slain, and its blood upon the posts, than the people, even the same night, were delivered out of Pharaohís thraldom, Exodus 12.
Infinite it were to express, and joyful to behold in the scriptures, all the admirable treasures and riches contained in this glorious passion of Christ our Savior, which have no end in them. But because the sermon must have an end, wherewith I have wearied you enough and myself more, therefore, not to overweary you with more prolixity I think good to cease, after I shall add a word or two to show you to whom, and by what means these excellent benefits of Christís passion are to be applied, whereof needful it is somewhat to be said. For as all we christians agree in this, that Christ is our Redeemer, and that he died for the sins of the world; so we all agree not in this, by what means the merits of Christís passion are to be applied unto as.
Our adversaries, which hold with the church of Rome, and persecute us for holding with the gospel, say, that the mean cause, or instrumental cause or condition whereby the passion of Christ is made available and effectuous to us, is not only our faith in Christ, but divers and sundry other helps they join besides; as auricular confession, contrition sufficient, and satisfaction, propitiatory sacrifice of the mass, pardons and indulgences of the pope, the storehouse of the church; merits and invocation of the saints, to believe the church of Rome, and to be subject to the bishop thereof. And these they take as necessary matters to salvation, which, unless a man do annex as time and occasion serveth, the death of Christ cannot be applied, say they, as meritorious alone to salvation! Other concurrents also they add besides these above-named, which, albeit they touch not so near the necessity of salvation, yet they help well forward, and augment the working and merits of Christís passion to our salvation. And these they count to be merits of supererogation, councils, works of perfection, building of monasteries, giving to churches, hearing of masses, entering to religion, austerity of life, keeping of vows, willful poverty, and such like.
Contrary to this doctrine, we affirm, with the word of God, that as the blood of our Savior is the only material cause, and the promise of God in his word the formal cause, of our salvation; so again we say, that the same promise of God in his word standeth free and firm, without any condition at all, as of necessity annexed to justification, save only one, which is faith in Christ. For although works of mercy and charity are also required in scripture, yet that is not because the doctrine of promise requireth them as conditions to the act of justifying, but because the doctrine of the law requireth them, as necessary duties to the institution of life. Of this promise, being free and absolute without all other conditions, St. Paul thus plainly testifieth; Therefore by faith, saith he, cometh the inheritance, as after grace, because the promise might be firm and sure to all the seed, etc. Romans 4. In which words ye see no conditions required to promise but only faith. Anti also why other conditions are excluded ye hear the cause; For that the promise, saith he, might be sure. And why sure? For else, if it should depend upon works and merits of men, it were always unsure and uncertain. For who ever knoweth when he hath done and deserved enough? And therefore it is that we say, Faith only justifieth; because the scripture teacheth us to be saved by promise, which promise were no promise, if it stood upon conditions. A gift that standeth upon conditions cannot be free. And if the inheritance come by the law, then it cometh not of promise. Now life everlasting, saith the scripture, is the gift of God, and cometh not of works.
When the womanís seed was first promised to Adam, what had he deserved? Genesis 3. God promised to Abraham a seed wherein all nations should be blessed, of free gill, without all conditions, before he came out of his country, to follow the Lord, Genesis 12. The same Abraham had Isaac his son by Sarah his wife. Also Isaac had Jacob by Rebecca, but yet both Abraham and Isaac, with their wives, were past all strength to have children before God kept his promise. What deserved the tribes of Israel when God delivered them from the bondage of Pharaoh? In Exodus 3, God promised to Moses to give the people a land of milk and honey; yet we read of no condition annexed to that promise, and though their deserts in the desert were very simple, yet God kept his promise.
What made Jacob loved and Esau hated? the son of the free woman to be received, and the son of the bond woman to be cast out? Not deserving, but election; not the law of works, but the promise of God. How was the throne of David established for ever, and the throne of Saul refused? Not by weighing their merits, but by electing the persons, and by promise without conditions. Even so it hath pleased God, through Christ, his Son, to give to his little flock a kingdom; which kingdom, because he hath promised only to faith, and hath annexed no other conditions, therefore we, holding upon the free promise, say, that faith only justifieth us; not denying many things else to be required to the action of life, but excluding them as conditions in the act of justifying, which office of justifying goeth only with faith in scripture, and hath none other condition or mean annexed to it.
Now, to define what this faith is that justifieth, here is to be understood, that the true faith, whereupon dependeth the whole condition of our justifing, must ever look to its right object, which is the body of Christ, the Son of God, crucified. For else many kinds there are of faith, as every thing that is true may be believed, but not the believing of every true thing doth justify. He that believeth there is but one God who created all things of nought, believeth truly. And off this faith speaketh St. James, Thou believest that there is one God, etc., James 2; yet this faith, without the object of Christ crucified, justifieth not. Likewise, he that believeth God to be just, omnipotent, merciful, and that he is true of promise, believeth well and holdeth the truth. So he that believeth that God hath his election from the beginning, and so persuadeth himself to be one of the same elect and predestinate, hath a good belief, and is well persuaded; but yet the same persuasion, unless it apprehend the right object withal, serveth not to salvation. The Jew, though he say that he believeth in one God, Maker of heaven and earth, and persuadeth himself that God hath elected the seed of Abraham, and though he is ever so devout in his prayers, charitable in his alms, or precise in keeping the law, and believeth ever so steadfastly that God is true of promise, yet is he never the nearer to salvation for all this.
No more is the Turk in doing and believing all the same. Briefly, whatsoever religion, rule, sect, profession, persuasion, or speculation, be it ever so contemplative, or whatsoever faith or belief it be that is not joined with this object, and grounded upon this head corner stone, that faith may go with a certain truth, but goeth not with true justification.
The faith which availeth to justification, is that faith only whose object is the body and passion of Jesus Christ crucified. Like as in the act of healing, the eyes of the Israelites and the body of the brazen serpent went together; so in the act of justifying, these two, faith and Christ, have a mutual relation, and must always concur; faith as the action which apprehendeth, Christ as the object which is apprehended. So that neither the passion of Christ sayeth without faith, neither faith helpeth, unless it be in Christ its object.
Whoso believeth in me, I will raise him up in the last day. Ye believe in God, believe also in me, John 14. He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life, John 3. Without me ye can do nothing, John 15.
Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life, etc., John 3. He that is in me; he that loveth me; he that heareth me; he that abideth in me; he that receiveth me, John 15. Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, John 6. That they may receive remission of sins through their faith in me, Acts 26. To him all the prophets give witness, to have remission of sins, whosoever believeth in his name, Acts 10. He that believeth, and is baptized, etc. Matthew 28. He that believeth in me shall do the works that I do, and greater than these, John 14. Of such like places the scripture is full; wherein the verb of believing never appeareth to go without his pronoun, nor faith without his object.
Furthermore, as this justifying faith ever goeth with its object, so to the same faith this also must be required ó that it stand not only in outward profession, in words, in tongue and talk, as swimming only in the lips; nor in outward forms, in shows and gestures only, which is but a dead and an idle faith, making a hypocrite before men, rather than a justified man before God; but must enter further into the inward heart, and as the sustenance of the soul, must inwardly be received and digested. For as sustenance of bread and drink, being holden only in the hand, or gazed upon with the eye, nourisheth not, except the same be inwardly received and conveyed into the stomach; and yet neither the receiving of every thing sustaineth manís body, except it be meat and drink, which have a condition properly to nourish; in like sort is it with faith. For as believing of every truth, or faith of every object sayeth not, but the faith only which is in Christís blood; so neither again doth the same blood of Christ profit us, except it be inwardly received by faith. And as the sun, fountain of all light, shineth not but only to such as have eyes to see, nor yet to them unless they open their eyes to receive light; so, the body of Christ crucified being the material sustenance only of our souls, it followeth that the same sustenance must be received by faith into our inward hearts, or else it is not effectual.
Upon which premises thus discussed, now I come to the definition of justifying faith, which by the doctrine of St. Paul is this ó An inward apprehending in heart of Christ Jesus the Son of God, believing by his death freely to be purged from all our sins, and to be justified by his resurrection.
And this faith, because it is the only condition which the promise of God requireth in scripture to our justification, and none other; therefore we, with the scriptures, say, that faith only of all actions, qualities, gifts, motions, or sciences in man, doth only justify; not excluding thereby good works from christian life, but only from the office of justifying. Not separating faith from works, but distinguishing their ends; concluding thus, that good works are effects of christian faith; not causes of justification.
But this doctrine, as it hath many adversaries, and great objections, so it requireth a more copious tractation. In the mean time, briefly to show how good works are the effects of faith, ye shall hear what St. Paul saith in the matter; whereby mark I pray you the genealogy of good works. Faith, saith he, which worketh by love, etc., Galatians 5. Where ye see, first, how faith gendereth love, love begetteth good works; love followeth faith, good works follow love, faith goeth before as mother to them both. And this is the right and natural genealogy of good works. Love in man commonly never beginneth unless it be provoked by some advantage or benefit; and how then shall a man heartily begin to love God, except he first see his love and benefits in Christ his Son towards him? Or, how shall a man work lively except first he love heartily? And therefore, in the doctrine of the church of Rome, which of late hath so darkened these mercies of God in Christ, I marvel how either a man could love well or live well.
But of this enough, and here an end, not for lack of matter, but for very weariness. 1 have overspent the time, I see, and my voice likewise, and almost myself also. In standing upon these matters, I have stood so long, that I am weary of standing. Wherefore, I shall desire you, look for no solemn peroration of me. Only instead of a repetition, I will conclude with a little short exhortation, as weary as I am, praying you, as I first began, according to the words of my message, I pray you for Christís love; and not I alone, but all the ministers and messengers of Christ in all England with me, do pray you, with St. Paul, and with all the apostles of Christ; and not we only, yea, God himself, by all his apostles, ministers, and messengers, we all do pray and entreat you, not as messengers of men, nor of any bishop, no, nor of the bishop of Rome. The bishop of Rome, if he be a true bishop, is but a messenger himself, and that only in his own diocese where he is bishop.
In Christís name, we pray you, that you, what or wheresoever ye are, that have been hitherto strangers, unacquainted with or enemies unto God, now ye will draw near, and be reconciled, and be friends, not with the bishop, whom we call pope of Rome, who as I understand of late hath sent his proctors and messengers to reconcile you to him. Alas he is no god, nor yet good man; his reconciliation can do us no good, and is not worth a rush. Our message is, that ye will be reconciled unto the living God. And as you have long tasted of his wrath, so now begin to taste his friendship. A better friend ye cannot have; yea, to say the truth, no other friend ye lack but him; whom if ye have your friend, no enemy can do you hurt. If he be your enemy, no friend can do you good. His friendship, if ye desire, ye need not seek it far, it is here offered unto you for taking. But then ye must take it while it is offered; Behold now the acceptable year; yet is the good time, the golden time, yet is the day of salvation, 2 Corinthians 6. Yet today lasteth, and the gate yet is open wherein the wise virgins may enter; but if it be once shut again, the foolish virgins shall never have it open any more, Matthew 25. Ye that are rich, remember your cousin Dives, the rich man in hell; who, because in his lifetime, when he might have had whole fountains of favor, and refused, afterward would have had one drop of water, and could not. Take therefore while it is offered. Refuse not, lest ye be refused. Crave and have. Come, and spare not. Beheld, and fear not.
For what should hinder you to be bold, having such a patron to make your way for you? If Godís wrath do fear you, He hath killed it. If ye dread the law, He hath hanged it. If your heart condemn you, He is greater than your heart.
If ye be sick, He came therefore to play the physician. If ye be hungry, He is the bread of like. If ye be poor, He was made poor for you, to make you rich. If Godís curse lie upon you, he was made accursed for you. If ye be sinful, He was made sin for you, that you might be made the righteousness of God by him. What can we have more of him, or what can he do more for us than this, which is all? For he that hath bestowed his own Son upon us, how can it be but he will give with him all things to us? All things are yours, saith the Lord to us by his apostle, 1 Corinthians 3.
Which being so, seeing then he hath done so much for you, remember your duties again, and say with the psalmist, What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord, <19B601> Psalm 116. Dearly beloved brethren and countrymen, ye see how dearly He hath loved you; requite his love with love again. He hath called you to favor and grace, use it, abuse it not.
Yesterday ye were sick and weak, this day with his blood he hath recovered you, with his wounds he hath cured you. I call every day, this day, whensoever a sinner repenteth his sin, and turneth to Christ.
Yesterday ye were sinners, this day he hath purged you and made you righteous. Remember what ye were, and keep you as ye are, and sin no more. Yesterday thou wast a piteous Canaanite, stooping and shrinking down with thy back to the ground eighteen years together, Luke 13, this day the death of Christ hath loosed thee of thy bands, and set thee straight; go upright now, and bend down to the earth no more. Yesterday thou wast piteously arrayed with the poor woman who having the blood issue twelve years, and having spent all her substance upon physicians, came and touched his garment, and stole health from him; this day, not the garment, but the blood of Christ hath cured thy blood-guiltiness; now fall into such diseases no more, Luke 8. Thou wast yesterday a lame cripple from thirty-eight years, lying by the water pool and hadst no man to cast thee into the pool, John 5. Now is One come, not to throw thee into the water, but to throw water upon thee, even from his own heart; wherefore, being now made whole, go thy ways, and carry away thy bed; let thy long bed of laziness carry thee no more. With what a mighty voice cried Christ to Lazarus! So loud he cried, that the dead heard him, and came out of his grave. Lazarus was dead but four days; thou hast lain stinking in thy sepulcher so many years. Now cometh one, and saith, Come out, Lazarus!
Come out, therefore, and cast away thy headcloth and winding sheet from thee, and be no more like them that go down to the pit, John 11. Matthew 8. Yesterday thou wast a foul leper; today thou art made clean, take heed of the like hereafter, Luke 5. Yesterday thy hand was dried and benumbed by an old disease called pinching tenacity; now cometh One, and biddeth thee hold out thy hand, and giveth thee a plaster.
And here have I a suit to my lord mayor, before forgotten, but now remembered. God give it may speed, so shall his honor, with all this flourishing city, I trust, speed the better. My suit is for the poor, not for one poor man or two, but for all the whole poverty in general of this city.
Forsomuch as I well understand such a way to be devised by Godís good providence for the succor of all the poor inhabitants of this city, so that there shall hereafter need neither begging in the streets, nor yet in pulpits any more, and the same device to lack but a little setting forward through authority. F43 My humble petition, therefore, is, even for His sake which was made poor for us all, that my lord mayor that now is, or that shall hereafter succeed, with the sage senators of this city, gravely perpending the case, if they shall find the same device neither hurtful to the hospitals, nor chargeful to the city in alluring beggars; but rather a means necessary to avoid idle counterfeits, and profitable for the sustentation of the true needy; especially in this time of plague, and now in time of summer, before winter approacheth; then that they, joining their consent and authority with the approbation of their reverend ordinary and learned bishop of this see, who, with his grave archdeacons, do all well allow of the same, will give their furtherance herein, and put that in use, or at least in probation of time, which yet lieth in form, and tarrieth but only the happy consent of your authority. Thus much 1 thought by the way, to beg of you in this sermon, because there should need no more begging in other sermons hereafter.
And I pray God this may be the last, if it be his will. If this city of London, through diligence of good preachers be now planted in such ripe doctrine as God be thanked it is, and hath the name thereof above all cities and quarters of England besides, how requisite is it then, with this your forwardness of good doctrine, to be joined like readiness of good working!
Let it not be seen nor said in London, that here is great talking of the gospel, but little walking after the gospel. And if your teachers do rightly teach you, that by faith only in Christ you are justified; now let not the papists then falsely outface you, that your preachers teach you no good works; neither let them upbraid your christian knowledge, for lack of christian conversation. But rather, by good living stop their mouths, that either by your works you may win them to glorify your Father which is in heaven, or at least, they may have no occasion to cavil which would carp at your faith.
Truth is, that by faith alone (in respect of other works of the law) ye are justified, as your preachers teach. And yet the same faith, being alone, she is not alone: in her office alone, in practice not alone. The queen, though in her state and office she is alone, yet she goeth not without her maids of honor after her. The office of the eye alone is in the head to see, yet the eye is not without other members of the body which have all their offices appropriate to them. Let every thing stand in its proper charge and office; yet must every thing need in some respect the society of another. The root sucketh of the ground, the body receiveth of the root, the branch taketh of the body, the fruit shooteth out of the branches. These successively go together. So faith groundeth upon Christís passion, faith giveth the sap of love, love blossometh forth in good works. In faith therefore, be constant, in love fervent, in works diligent, and in doctrine keep order. Let not the effect presume before the cause, nor the daughter go before the mother.
Work well, not for justification, but for love.
Love not because God should love you, but because he hath loved you, and hath justified you; therefore, being now justified, love him, and for his love obey him.
And thus keeping a right order, let us join, as spiritual men, these spiritual matters together, and play the right joiners; joining not, as many do now-adays, house to house, land to land, lordship to lordship, office to office, bag to bag, benefice to benefice, parsonage to vicarage, prebend to prebend, with a deanery for a vantage; F44 living to living, another living to that, and for all that yet never contented nor satisfied. How this devilish desire of more cometh into the heads of some christian ministers, I cannot but muse. These joinings are naught. If we will be true gospellers, we must learn another joining, a better joining than this; which is, to join works to works, faith to faith, faith to works, and good works to faith; as did Paul and James, and so to join St. Paul and St. James together. There hath been a long contention and much ado in the church, how to join these two apostles together. And though in preaching much has been said, and learning showed; yet when all is said, there is none can join these two together better than you yourselves to whelm we preach. And how is that?
Join the lively faith of St. Paul, with the good works of St. James, and bring both these into one life, and then hast thou reconciled them both, and so shalt thou be sure to be justified, both before God by Paulís faith, and before man by St. Jamesís works. And this is a perfect and a natural conjunction, when faith goeth with works, life with doctrine, practice with knowledge, zeal with science, expressing with professing, keeping with hearing, deeds with words, which are as inseparable companions, and in a christian manís life would not he sundered one from the other. Faith without works maketh but a carnal gos-peller; works without faith make but a pharisaical hypocrite. But then they must go in their right order together, the handmaid not before the mistress. In case of justification and peace of conscience, faith is it alone which doth all. For faith hath wings, and flieth up to heaven, and there holdeth the promise, and wrestleth with the law, with Godís judgment, and with the conscience of man, for everlasting life. Charity and works have no wings, but tarry below, and are occupied between neighbor and neighbor, and are as busy in earth as faith is in heaven; so that neither is idle, but both laboring. And though they are diversely occupied in sundry functions, yet are they both dwelling, as Mary and Martha, in one house; that is, in the life of every true christian, linked and coupled as sisters, with a true christian copulative together. Of this conjunction Christ our Savior thus speaketh; Blessed are they, saith he, which hear the word of God. Here is faith; mark now the copulative, and which keepeth the same, Luke 8. Likewise St. Paul, using the same copulative, saith, Having faith, and a good conscience, etc. 1 Timothy 1.
This christian copulative, I beseech you, christian brethren, practice now in your lives; so that you, abounding in faith, may abound also in good works; and as ye abound in works that are good, so ye will abstain from all that is contrary, joining with this copulative of good works, the negative also of evil works mentioned in the epistle of St. Paul to Titus, where he exhorteth us, that we, denying or renouncing impiety and our worldly desires, will live soberly, justly, and godly in this present life, Titus 2.
To conclude here with this exhortation of St. Paul, I beseech you with him, that you, being the dear and reconciled children now in God, will shake off and renounce your former impieties and appetites of this world. I say not this impiety or that impiety, this sin or that sin. I say not here as others are wont unto you, to leave your usury, your oppression, your bribery, your deceitful arts, with other such like. No, no; I go further than that; this I say, Leave and cast away the whole world from you, which is nothing else but a great heap, or a chaos, or a confusion of all abominations, packed as in one fardel F45 together. This world, I say, east clean away, with all his appurtenances from you. For what have we to do, that are christians, with this damned and execrable world? Christ hath conquered it, hath redeemed you from it. The devil possesseth it, and will you possess it also with him?
Hath Christ taken such pains for you, to bring you out of Egypt, and yet you will not come? To be in the world, to live in the world, and to occupy the world, I say not against it; neither do I mean in casting away the world, that you should east away your riches, your possessions, your offices, promotions, and dignities; but that you should cast away your affections from them. Use them, but abuse them not; have them, but as trifles, and as though you had them not; make of them, but make not your god of them.
Neither be you conformed, saith St. Paul, alter the shape of this world, but with St. Paul be you crucified to the world, and let the world be crucified to you. Now what fantasy, what vanity, what bravery and bribery, what proiling F46 and turmoiling is amongst you in this world tot worldly things, for gold and silver, that is for red earth and white earth, as though Christ had never come to redeem you unto another world than this! What mean you, my brethren and countrymen of England? Heaven is yours, both heaven and earth is yours; Christ hath reconciled you; his blood hath purged you; his faith doth justify you; his appearing will glorify you! God is yours, all is yours, all shall be yours! And what should move you then to pass for this world so much, which passeth away; and, as you shall see I trust, shortly shall perish before your eyes. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, we beseech thee. The Spirit of Christ Jesus our Savior, and the might of his majesty, who was crucified for your sins, preserve you from this sinful world, and from the corruption thereof to the day of his glorious coming.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus for thy glory; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory for ever. Amen. The Prayer in this Sermon, made for the church and all the states thereof: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who wast crucified for our sins, and didst rise again for our justification; and ascending up to heaven, reignest now at the right hand of thy Father, with full power and authority ruling and disposing all things according to thine own gracious and glorious purpose: we, sinful creatures, and yet servants and members of thy church, do prostrate ourselves and our prayers before thy imperial Majesty, having no other patron or advocate to speed our suits, or to resort unto, but thee alone, beseeching thy goodness to be good to thy poor church militant here in this wretched earth, sometimes a rich church, a large church, a universal church, spread far and wide through the whole compass of the earth, now driven into a narrow corner of the world, and having much need of thy gracious help. First, the Turk with his sword, what lands, nations, countries, what empires, kingdoms, and provinces, with cities innumerable hath he won, not from us, but from thee! Where thy name was wont to be invocated, thy word preached, thy sacraments administered, there slow reigneth barbarous Mahomet with his filthy Alcoran. The flourishing churches in Asia, the learned churches of Greece, the manifold churches in Africa, which were wont to serve thee, now are gone from thee! The seven churches of Asia, with their candlesticks, whom thou didst so well forewarn, are now removed. All the churches where thy diligent apostle St. Paul, thy apostles Peter, and John, and other apostles so laboriously travailed, preaching and writing to plant thy gospel, are now gone front thy gospel. In all the kingdom of Syria, Palestine, Arabia, Persia, in all Armenia, and the empire of Cappadocia, through the whole compass of Asia, with Egypt, and with Africa also, (]unless amongst the far Ethiopians, F47 some old steps of christianity peradventure yet do remain,) either else in all Asia and Africa, thy church hath not one foot of free land, but all is turned either to infidelity or to captivity, whatsoever pertaineth to thee. And if Asia and Africa only were decayed, the decay were great, but the defection were not universal. Now in Europe a great part also is shrunk from thy church. All Thrace, with the empire of Constantinople, all Greece, Epirus, Illyria, and now of late all the kingdom almost of Hungary, with much of Austria, with lamentable slaughter of christian blood is wasted, and all become Turks.
Only a little angle of the west parts yet remaineth in some profession of thy name. But here, alas, cometh another mischief as great or greater than the other. For the Turk with his sword is not so cruel, but the bishop of Rome on the other side is more fierce and bitter against us, stirring up his bishops to burn us, his confederates to conspire our destruction, setting kings against their subjects, and subjects disloyally to rebel against their princes, and all for thy name! Such dissension and hostility Satan hath set amongst us, that Turks are not more enemies to christians, than christians to christians, papists to protestants; yea, protestants with protestants do not agree, but fall out for trifles. So that the poor little flock of thy church, distressed on every side, hath neither rest without, nor peace within, nor place almost in the world where to abide, but may cry now from the earth, even as thine own reverence cried once from thy cross; My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Amongst us Englishmen, here in England, after so great storms of persecution, and cruel murder of so many martyrs, it hath pleased thy grace to give us these halcyon days, which yet we enjoy, and beseech thy goodness still to continue. But here also, alas, what should we say? So many enemies we have, that envy us this rest and tranquillity, and do what they can to disturb it. They which are friends and lovers of the bishop of Rome, although they eat the that of the land, and have the best preferments and offices, and live most at ease, and ail nothing, yet are they not therewith content. They grudge, they mutter and murmur, they conspire and take on against us. It fretteth them that we live by them or with them, and cannot abide that we should draw the bare breathing of the air, when they have all the most liberty of the land. And albeit thy singular goodness hath given them a queen so calm, so patient, so merciful, more like a natural mother than a princess, to govern over them, such as neither they nor their ancestors ever read of in the histories of this land before; yet all this will not calm them; their unquiet spirit is not yet content; they repine and rebel, and needs would have, with the frogs of AEsop, a Ciconia, F48 an Italian stranger, the bishop of Rome, to play the king over them; and care not if all the world were set on fire, so they with their Italian lord might reign alone. So fond are we Englishmen of strange and foreign things, so unnatural to ourselves, so greedy of new fangled novelties, never contented with any state long to continue, be it ever so good; and furthermore, so cruel one to another, that we think our life not quiet, unless it be seasoned with the blood of others. For that is their hope, that is all their gaping and looking, that is their golden day, their day of jubilee, which they thirst for so much, not to have the Lord to come in the clouds, but to have our blood, and to spill our lives.
That, that is it which they would have; and long since this they would have had their wills upon us, had not thy gracious pity and mercy raised up to us, this our merciful queen, thy servant Elizabeth, somewhat to stay their fury. For whom, as we most condignly give thee most hearty thanks, so likewise we beseech thy heavenly majesty, that as thou hast given her unto us, and hast from so manifold dangers preserved her before she was queen ó so now in her royal estate she may continually be preserved, not only from the hands, but from all malignant devices wrought, attempted, or conceived of enemies, both ghostly and bodily against her. In this her government, be her governor, we beseech thee; so shall her majesty well govern us, if first she be governed by thee. Multiply her reign with many days, and her years with much felicity, with abundance of peace and spiritual life. That as she hath now doubled the years of her sister and brother, so, if it be thy pleasure, she may also overgrow in reigningí, the reign of her father.
And because no government can long stand without good counsel; neither can any counsel be good except it be prospered by thee; bless, therefore, we beseech thee, both her majesty and her honorable council, that they both rightly may understand what is to be done, and she aecordingly may accomplish that which they do counsel, to thy glory, and furtherance of thy gospel, and public wealth of this realm.
Furthermore, we beseech thee, Lord Jesus, who with the majesty of thy generation dost drown all nobility, being the only Son of God, heir and Lord of all things, bless the nobility of this realm, and of other christian realms; so, as they, christianly agreeing among themselves, may submit their nobility to serve thee; or else let them feel, O Lord, what a frivolous thing is that nobility which is without thee.
Likewise, to all magistrates, such as are advanced to authority or placed in office, by what name or title soever, give we beseech thee a careful conscience, uprightly to discharge their duty, that as they are public persons to serve the commonwealth, so they abuse not their office to their private gain, or private revenge of their own affections; but that justice being administered without bribery, and equity balanced without cruelty or partiality, things that are amiss may be reformed, vice abandoned, truth supported, innocence relieved, Godís glory maintained, and the commonwealth truly served.
But especially to thy spiritual ministers, bishops, and pastors of thy church, grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, Prince of all pastors, that they, following the steps of thee, of thy apostles and holy martyrs, may seek those things which are not their own, but only which are thine, not caring how many benefices, nor what great bishoprics they have, but how well they can guide those they have. Give them such zeal for thy church, as may devour them; and grant them such salt, wherewith the whole people may be seasoned, and which may never be unsavory; but, quickened daily by thy Holy Spirit, whereby thy flock by them may be preserved.
In general, give to all the people, and the whole state of this realm such brotherly unity in knowledge of thy truth, and such obedience to their superiors, that they neither provoke the scourge of God against them, nor their princeís sword to be drawn against her will, out of the scabbard of long sufferance, where it hath been long hid. Especially, give thy gospel long contiuuance amongst us. And if our sins have deserved the contrary, grant us we beseech thee, with an earnest repentance of that which is past, to join a hearty purpose of amendment to come.
And, forasmuch as the bishop of Rome is wont on this Good Friday, and every Good Friday to accurse us as damned heretics, we here curse not him, lint pray for him, that he, with all his partakers either may be turned to a better truth; or else, we pray thee, gracious Lord, that we never agree with him in doctrine, and that he may so curse us still, and never bless us more as he blessed us in queen Maryís time! God of his mercy keep away that blessing from us!
Finally, instead of the popeís blessing, give us thy blessing, Lord, we beseech thee, and conserve the peace of thy church and course of thy blessed gospel. Help them that are needy and afflicted. Comfort them that labor and are heavy laden. And above all things continue and increase our faith. And forasmuch as thy poor little flock can scarcely have any place or rest in this world, come Lord, we beseech thee, with thy, It is finished, and make an end, that this world may have no more time nor place here, and that thy church may have rest for ever.
For these and all other necessities requisite to be begged and prayed for, asking in Christís name, and as he hath taught us, let us say the Lordís prayer.
Our Father which art in heaven, etc.
A POSTSCRIPT TO THE PAPISTS.
Because here remaineth behind an empty page of white paper to be supplied with some writing or other; I thought no better matter for my purpose than to write a word or two to you, which hold so devoutly with the proceedings of Rome, craving at your hands, that, forasmuch as the controversies between you and us are weighty, and chiefly stand upon the effect and working of Christís passion, you will therefore give the reading hereof; either to consent to the doctrine, if ye think it consonant or to refute the same if ye mislike it. My saying and meaning this: 1. That if ye find by the scripture or God, or any approved doctor, that the sacrificed body of the Son of God, suffering once upon the cross on Good Friday, is not the only material and sufficient cause of our perfect salvation, remission of sins and justification. 2. Or, that the promise of God, which is to salvation, standeth not free, without any condition of work or works to be added to that effect, save only faith in that person: 3. Or, that faith in Christ is not the only mean and instrument whereby this passion is made to us effectual; you will bring out your proofs, show forth your learning, and what you can say. And if you will not let the world be judge, yet let the world hear your reasons, let truth with judgment be tried, let railing, trifling, and scoffing go. Blood and persecution is no way to find truth, but to blind truth. The scriptures, in matter of salvation, are plain and evident, teaching simply without trope or figure, and soon will try the cause.
By the which scriptures, if you shall find the contrary to be true, that is, 1. that the passion of Christ crucified is the only material and efficient cause immediate which worketh our salvation, which appeaseth Godís wrath, and pacifieth all things in heaven and in earth, taketh away the sins of the world, and disannulleth the damnation and malediction of the law for ever, from all them that are in Christ Jesus. 2. that the promise of God to salvation in Christ, is free, without condition of any works of the law to the same end to be annexed, save only faith. 3. And that the same faith in Christ is only the mean and condition whereby the passion of Christ worketh, and the promise of God giveth to us justification. These verities, I say, thus standing by the scripture, seeing our justification and remission of sins standeth consummated by Christ, free by promise, and assured by faith; then declare unto us, I beseech you, which so magnify the religion of Rome, how standeth with Godís religion your auricular confession for loosing of sins, satisfaction for the same, works of perfection and supererogation, masses, trentals, your propitiatory sacrifice, praying of saints and to saints departed, pardons, purgatory for cleansing of sin, building and entering into monasteries for remission of sins, pilgrimages, stations of Rome, jubilees, straitness of orders, with an infinite number of such like? All which implements of your church, to what use now do they serve, or how can they stand with scripture, but either they must derogate from Christís passion, or else the passion of Christ must needs make them void?
For the same Christ Jesus crucified, I desire you, therefore, if ye see these evidences to be true, then be reconciled to the truth, and as St. Paul desireth you, Be ye reconciled to God. Let the religion of God stand simple, as he left it himself. Manís additions in Godís matters are but fantasies. In other matters add what ye list; but in matter and cause of salvation, Christ left: nothing behind him to be added any more, either by apostles, or martyrs, or bishops, or any other; but hath consummated the perfection thereof fully by himself, leaving nothing therein imperfect.
Whereunto he that addeth blasphemeth, and doth no less than infringe the testament of the Lord. As the presumption is great, so I exhort you in the Lord to beware, remembering the warning of St. Paul, That if any apostle, or angel from heaven shall preach any other gospel besides that which is received and planted, Galatians 1. Ye know what followeth, (let him be accursed.) The Lord of grace open your eyes to see, and your hearts to embrace the knowledge of his truth, to his glory, and your spiritual comfort, and everlasting life in him. Amen.