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Upon that disputation rose this question, “Wherefore then serveth the law?” For reason, hearing that righteousness, or the blessing, is obtained by grace, and by the promise, by-and-by inferreth,— then the law profiteth nothing. Wherefore, the doctrine of the law must be diligently considered; that we may know, what and how we ought to judge thereof; lest that, either we reject the same altogether, as the fantastical spirits do, (which in the year a thousand five hundred and twenty-five, stirring up the rustical people to sedition, said, that the liberty of the Gospel giveth freedom to all men from all manner of laws ;) or else, lest we should attribute the force of justification to the law. For both sorts do offend against the law; the one on the right hand, which will be justified by the law, and the other on the left hand, which will be clean delivered from the law. We must therefore keep the highway, so that we neither reject the law, nor attribute more unto it than we ought to do.
That which I have before so often repeated concerning both the uses of the law, namely, the civil and the spiritual use, do sufficiently declare, that the law is not given for the righteous; but, (as Paul saith in another place,) for the unrighteous and rebellious. Now, of the unrighteous, there are two sorts; that is to say, they which are to be justified, and they which are not to be justified.. They which are not to be justified, must be bridled by the civil use of the law: for they must be bound with the bonds of the law, as savage and untamed beasts are bound with cords and chains. This use of the law hath no end ; and of this. Paul here speaketh nothing But they that are to be justified, are exercised with the spiritual use of the law for a time, for it doth not always continue as the civil use of the law doth, but it looketh to faith which is to be revealed; and when Christ cometh, it shall have its end. Hereby we may plainly see, that all the sentences wherein Paul treateth of the spiritual use of the law, must be understood of those which are to be justified, and not of those which are justified already. For they which are justified already, inasmuch as they abide in Christ, are far above
all law. The law then must be laid upon those that are to be justified, that they may be shut up in the prison thereof, until the righteousness of faith come. Not that they attain this righteousness through the law, (for that were not to use the law rightly, but to abuse it ;) but that
, when they are cast down and humbled by the law, they should fly unto Christ, “who is the end of the law to righteousness, to every one that believeth,” (Rom. X. 4.)
Now, the abusers of the law, are, first of all, the justiciaries and hypocrites, which dream that men are justified by the law. For that use of the law, doth not exercise and drive a man to faith which is to be revealed, but it maketh careless, arrogant hypocrites, swelling and presuming of the righteousness of the law, and hindereth the righteousness of faith. Secondly, they abuse the law, which will utterly exempt a Christian man from the law; as the brain-sick Anabaptists went about to do, which was the oocasion that they raised up that sedition of the rustical people. Of this sort, there are very many also at this day which profess the Gospel with us; who, being delivered from the tyranny of the Pope by the doctrine of the Gospel, do dream, that the Christian liberty is a dissolute and a carnal liberty to do whatsoever they list. These (as Peter saith, 1 Epist. ii. 16,) have the liberty of the Spirit as a cloak of maliciousness, through which the name of God and the Gospel of Christ is slandered every where; and therefore, they shall once suffer worthy punishment for this their ungodliness. Thirdly, such do also abuse the law, who, feeling the terrors thereof, do not understand that such terrors ought no longer to continue but unto Christ. This abuse in them is the cause that they fall to desperation : as, in the hypocrites, it is the cause of arrogancy and presumption.
Contrariwise, the true use of the law can never be esteemed and magnified as it is worthy, namely, that when the conscience, shut up under the law, despaireth not; -but, being instructed by the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, concludeth with itself after this sort; “I am indeed shut up as a prisoner under the law, but not for ever; yea, this shutting up shall turn to my great profit. How so? because that I being thus shut up, shall be driven to sigh and seek the hand of an helper,' &c. After this manner the law is an inforcer, which by compulsion, bringeth the hungry unto Christ, that he may satisfy them with his good things. Wherefore, the true office of the law is to shew unto us our sins, to make us guilty, to humble us, to kill us, and to bring us down to hell, and finally to take from us all help, all succour, all comfort: but yet, altogether to this end,—that we may be justified, exalted, quickened to life, carried up unto heaven, and obtain all good things. Therefore, it doth not only kill, but it killeth that we may live.
THE SCHOOL OF THE LAW.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.
Here again he joineth the law and the Gospel together, (which are separate so far asunder,) as touching the affections and inward man, when he saith, “The law is a schoolmaster to Christ." This similitude also of the schoolmaster is worthy to be noted. Although a schoolmaster be very profitable and necessary to instruct and to bring up children, yet, shew me one child or scholar which loveth his master. What love and obedience the Jews shewed unto their Moses! It appeareth that in every hour (as the history witnesseth) they would with all their hearts have stoned him to death, (Exodus xvii. 4.) It is not possible therefore that the scholar should love his master. For how can he love him which keepeth him in prison ; that is to say, which suffereth him not to do that which he gladly would? And if he do any thing against his commandment, by-and-by he is rebuked and chastised; yea, and is constrained moreover to kiss the rod when he is beaten. Is not this (I pray you) a goodly righteousness and obedience of the scho
lar, that he obeyeth his master severely threatening and so sharply correcting him, and kisseth the rod ? But doth he thus with a good-will ? As soon as the master hath turned his back, he breaketh the rod, or casteth it into the fire. And if he had any power over his master, he would not suffer himself to be beaten of him, but rather he would beat him. And yet, notwithstanding, the schoolmaster is very necessary for the child, to instruct and chastise him : otherwise, the child, without his discipline, instruction, and good education, should be utterly lost.
The schoolmaster therefore is appointed for the child, to teach him, to bring him up, and to keep him as it were in prison. But to what end, or how long? Is it to the end that this strict and sharp dealing of the schoolmaster should always continue? Or that the child should remain in continual bondage ? Not so, but only for a time; that this obedience, this prison and correction, might turn to the profit of the child; that when the time cometh he might be his father's heir. For it is not the father's will that his son should be always subject to the schoolmaster, and always beaten with rods; but, that by his instruction and discipline, he might be made able and meet to be his father's successor.
Even so, saith Paul, the law is nothing else but a schoolmaster : not for ever, but until it have brought us to Christ: as in other words he said also before, “ The law was given for transgressions until the blessed seed should come.” Also, “The scripture hath shut all under sin," &c. Again, "We were kept under, and shut up to faith which should after be revealed.' Wherefore, the law is not only a schoolmaster, but it is a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. For what a schoolmaster were be, which would always torment and beat the child, and teach him nothing at all? And yet, such schoolmasters there were in time past, when schools were nothing else tut a prison, and a very hell, and the schoolmasters cruel tyrants and very butchers. The children were aways beaten, they learned with continual pain and travel, and few of them came to any proof. The law is
not such a schoolmaster. For it doth not only terrify and torment, (as the foolish schoolmaster beateth his scholars and teacheth them nothing,) but, with his rods he driveth us unto Christ. Like as a good schoolmaster instructeth and exerciseth his scholars in reading and writing, to the end that they may come to the knowledge of good letters and other profitable things, that afterwards, they may have a delight in doing of that, which before, when they were constrained thereunto, they did against their wills.
By this goodly similitude, Paul sheweth what is the true use of the law; namely that it justifieth not hypocrites, for they remain without Christ in their presumption and security: and contrariwise, that it leaveth not in death and damnation those that are of a contrite heart, (so that they use it as Paul teacheth) but driveth them unto Christ. But they, which in these terrors still continue in their wickedness, and do not apprehend Christ by faith, do fall at length into desperation. Paul, therefore, in this allegory of the schoolmaster, most lively expresseth the true use of the law. For, like as the schoolmaster reproveth his scholars, grieveth them, and maketh them heavy; and yet, not to the end that this bondage should always continue, but that it should cease when the children are well brought up and instructed accordingly; and that afterwards, without any constraint of the schoolmaster, they should cheerfully enjoy their liberty and their father's goods : even so, they which are vexed and oppressed with the law, do know, that these terrors and vexations shall not always continue, but that thereby they are prepared to come unto Christ which is to be revealed, and so to receive the liberty of the spirit, &c.
That we may be made righteous by faith. The law is not a schoolmaster to bring us unto another lawgiver which requireth good works, but unto Christ our Justitier and Saviour; that, by faith in him,