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WORKS OF MARTIN LUTHER -
THE SEVENTH IMAGE - THE SUPERNAL BLESSING
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THE SUPERNAL BLESSING, OR THE BLESSING ABOVE US
I DO not now speak of the eternal blessings of Heaven, which the blessed enjoy in the perfect vision of God; or father, I do speak of them in faith, and in so far as they some within our comprehension. For this seventh image is Jesus Christ, the King of glory, rising from the dead; even as, in His Passion and death, He formed the seventh image of evils. Here there is nothing at all of evil; for “Christ, being risen from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” ( Romans 6:9) Here is that furnace of love and fire of God in Zion; as Isaiah saith. ( Isaiah 31:9) For Christ is not only born unto us, but He is also given unto us. ( Isaiah 9:6) Therefore, His resurrection, and all that He wrought by it, are mine, and, as the Apostle exults in exuberant joy, “how hath He not also, with Him, given us all things?” ( Romans 8:32) But what is it that He hath wrought by His resurrection? Why, He hath destroyed sin and brought righteousness to light, abolished death and restored life, conquered hell and bestowed on us everlasting glory. These are such inestimably precious blessings that the mind of man dare scarce believe that they have become ours; as it was with Jacob, in Genesis 45:26, who, when he heard that his son Joseph was ruler in Egypt, was like one awakened out of deep slumber, and believed them not, until, after telling him all the words of Joseph, they showed him the wagons that Joseph had sent. So difficult, indeed, would it be for us to believe that in Christ such great blessings have been conferred on us unworthy creatures, did He not teach us to believe it, with many words, and by the evidence of our own experience; even as He manifested Himself to His disciples in divers appearances. ( Acts 1:3) Such are our “Joseph’s wagons.” This is indeed a most goodly “wagon,” that He is made unto us of God righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, and wisdom; as the Apostle saith in 1 Corinthians 1:30 For, I am a sinner; yet am I drawn in His righteousness, which is given me. I am unclean; but His holiness is my sanctification, in which I pleasurably ride. I am an ignorant fool; but His wisdom carries me forward. I have deserved condemnation; but I am set free by His redemption, a wagon in which I sit secure. So that a Christian, if he but believe it, may boast of the merits of Christ and all His blessings, even as if he had won them all himself. So truly are they his own, that he may even dare to look boldly forward to the judgment of God, unbearable though it be. So great a thing is faith, such blessings does it bring us, such glorious sons of God does it make us. For we cannot be sons without inheriting our Father’s goods. Let the Christian say, then, with full confidence: “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ( 1 Corinthians 15:55 ff.) That is to say, the law makes us sinners, and sin makes us guilty of death. Who hath conquered these twain?
Was it our righteousness, or our life? Nay: it was Jesus Christ, rising from the dead, condemning sin and death, bestowing on us His merits, and holding His hand over us. And now it is well with us, we keep the law, and vanquish sin and death. For all which be honor, praise, and thanksgiving unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
This, then, is the highest image of all, in which we are lifted up, not only above our evils, but above our blessings as well, and are set down amid strange blessings, brought together by another’s labor; whereas we formerly lay among evils, heaped up by another’s sin, f265 and added to by our own. We are set down, I say, in Christ’s righteousness, with which He Himself is righteous; because we cling to that righteousness by which He is well pleasing to God, intercedes for us as our Mediator, and gives Himself wholly to be our own, as our High-Priest and Protector. Therefore, as it is impossible that Christ, with His righteousness, should not please God, so it is impossible that we should not please Him. Hence it comes that a Christian is almighty, lord of all, having all things, and doing all things, wholly without sin. And even if he have sins, they can in no wise harm him, but are forgiven for the sake of the inexhaustible righteousness of Christ that swalloweth up all sins, on which our faith relies, firmly trusting that He is such a Christ unto us as we have described. But if any one does not believe this, he hears the tale with deaf ears and does not know Christ, and understands neither what blessings He hath nor how they may be enjoyed.
Therefore, if we considered it aright and with attentive hearts, this image alone would suffice to fill us with so great comfort that we should not only not grieve over our evils, but even glory in our tribulations, nay, scarcely feel them, for the joy that we have in Christ. ( Romans 5:3) In which glorying may Christ Himself instruct us, our Lord and God, blessed for evermore. ( Romans 9:5) Amen.
With these prattlings of mine, Most Illustrious Prince, in token of my willingness to serve your Lordship to the best of my poor ability, I commend myself to your Illustrious Lordship, being ready to bring a worthier offering, if ever my mental powers shall equal my desires. For I shall always remain a debtor to every neighbor of mine, but most of all to your Lordship, whom may our Lord Jesus Christ, in His merciful kindness, long preserve to us, and at last by a blessed death take home to Himself.
Your Most Illustrious Lordship’s Intercessor, BROTHER MARTIN LUTHER, Augustinian at Wittenberg.
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