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we might be justified, and not by works. But when a man feeleth the force and strength of the law, he doth not understand nor believe this. Therefore, he saith, I have lived wickedly, for I have transgressed all the commandments of God; and therefore, I am guilty of eternal death. If God would prolong my life certain Vears, or at least certain months, I would amend my life and live holily hereafter. Here, of the true use of the law, he maketh an abuse. Reason, being overtaken in these terrors and straits, is bold to promise unto God the fulfilling of all the works of the whole law. And hereof came so many sects and swarms of monks and religious hypocrites, so many ceremonies and so many works, devised to deserve grace and remission of sins. And they which devised such things, thought that the law was a schoolmaster to lead them unto Christ, but to a new law; or, unto Christ as a lawgiver, and not as one that abolished the law,
But the true use of the law, is, to teach me that I am brought to the knowledge of my sin and humbled, that so I may come unto Christ and may be justified by faith. But faith is neither law nor work, but an assured confidence which apprehendeth Christ, “who is the end of the law,” Rom. x. And how? Not that he hath abolished the old law and given a new, or that he is a judge which must be pacified by works, as the Papists have taught, but he is the end of the law to all those that believe ; that is to say, every one that believeth on him is righteous, and the law shall never accuse him. The law then is good, holy, and just, so that a man use it as he should do. Now they that abuse the law are, first, the hypocrites which attribute unto the law a power to justify; and secondly, they which do despair, not knowing that the law is a schoolmaster to lead men unto Christ; that is to say, that the law humbleth them not to their destruction but to their salvation ; for God woundeth that he may heal again, he killeth that he may quicken again.
Now Paul, as before I have said, speaketh of those which are to be justified, and not of those which are justified already. Therefore, when thou goest about to reason as concerning the law, thou must take the matter of the law, or that whereupon the law worketh; namely, the sinner and the wicked person; whom the law justifieth not, but setteth sin before his eyes, casteth him down and bringeth him to the knowledge of himself; it sheweth him hell, and the wrath and the judgment of God. This is, indeed, the proper office of the law. Then followeth the use of this office; to wit, that the sinner may know that the law doth not reveal unto him his sin, and thus humbleth him, to the end he should despair, but that, by this accusing and bruising, it may drive him unto Christ the Saviour and Comforter. When this is done, he is no longer under the schoolmaster. And this use is very necessary; for seeing the whole world is overwhelmed with sin, it hath need of this ministry of the law that sin may be revealed; otherwise, no man should ever attain to righteousness, as before we have largely declared. But, what worketh the law in them that are already justified by Christ? -Paul answereth by these words; which are, as it were, an addition to that which goeth before ;
But after that fuith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
That is to say, we are free from the law, from the prison, and from our schoolmaster. For when faith is revealed, the law territieth and tormeneth us no more. Paul here speaketh of faith, as it was preached and published to the world by Christ in the time before appointed. For Christ, taking upon him our flesh, came once into the world. He abolished the law with all his effects, and delivered from eternal death all those which receive his benefit by faith. If therefore ye look unto Christ, and that which he hath done, there is now no law. For he, coming in the time appointed, took away the law. Now since the law is gone, we are not kept under the tyranny thereof any more, but we live in joy
and safety under Christ, who now so sweetly reigneth in us by his spirit. And where the Lord reigneth, there is liberty. Wherefore, if we would perfectly apprehend Christ, which hath abolished the law by his death, and hath reconciled us unto his father, that schoolmaster should have no power over us at all. But the law of the members, rebelling against the law of the mind, letteth us that we cannot perfectly lay hold upon Christ. The lack, therefore, is not in Christ, but in us which have not yet put off this flesh, to which sin continually cleaveth as long as we live. Wherefore, as touching ourselves, we are partly free from the law, and partly under the law. According to the spirit, we serve with Paul the “ Law of God; but according to the flesh, the law of sin.” Rom. vii.
Hereof it followeth, that, as touching the conscience, we are fully delivered from the law; and therefore, that schoolmaster must not rule in it; that is, he must not afflict it with his terrors, threatenings, and captivity. And albeit it go about so to do never so much, yet is not the conscience moved therewith. For it hath Christ crucified before her eyes, who hath removed all the offices of the law out of the conscience, putting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, &c. (Col. ii.) Therefore, even as a virgin knoweth no man, so the conscience must not only be ignorant of the law, but also it must be utterly dead unto the law, and the law likewise unto the conscience. This is not done by any works, or by the righteousness of the law, but by faith which apprehendeth and layeth hold upon Christ. Notwithstanding, sin cleaveth still in the flesh, as touching the effect thereof, which oftentimes accuseth and troubleth the conscience. So long then as the flesh doth remain, so long this schoolmaster the law doth also remain; which many times terrifieth the conscience, and maketh it heavy by revealing of sin and threatening of death. Yet it is raised up again by the daily coming of Christ; who, as he came once into the world in the time before appointed to redeem us from the hard and sharp servitade of our schoolmaster; even so, he cometh daily
unto us, spiritually, to the end that we may increase in faith, and in the knowledge of him, that the conscience may apprehend him more fully and perfectly from day to day, and that the law of the flesh and of sin, with the terror of death and all evils that the law bringeth with it, may be daily diminished in us more and more. As long then as we live in the flesh, which is not without sin, the law oftentimes returneth and doth his office, in one more and in another less, as their faith is strong or weak; and yet, not to their destruction, but to their salvation. For this is the exercise of the law in the saints; namely, the continual mortification of the flesh, of reason, and of our own strength, and the daily renewing of our inward man, as it is said in 2 Cor. iv.
We receive then the first-fruits of the Spirit: the leaven is hid in the mass of the dough, but all the dough is not yet leavened : now it is yet, but only begun to be leavened. If I behold the leaven, I see nothing else but pure leaven. But if I behold the whole mass, I see that it is not all pure leaven: that is to say, if I behold Christ, I am altogether pure and holy, knowing nothing at all of the law, for Christ is my leaven. But if I behold my own flesh, I feel in myself covetousness, lust, anger, pride, and arrogancy; also, the fear of death, heaviness, hatred, murmuring and impatiency against God. The more these sins are in me, the more Christ is absent from me; or, if he be present, he is felt but a little. Here we have need of a schoolmaster to exercise and vex this strong ass the flesh, that, by this exercise, sins may be diminished, and a way prepared unto Christ. For as Christ came once, corporally, at the time appointed, abolished the whole law, vanquished sin, and destroyed death and hell; even so, he cometh, spiritually, without ceasing, and daily quencheth and killeth those sins in us.
This I say, that thou mayest be able to answer if any shall thus object, Christ came into the world, and at once took away all our sins and cleansed us by his blood; what need we, then, to hear the Gospel or receive the sacraments ? True it is, that, inasmuch as thou beholdest Christ, the law and sin are quite abolished. But Christ is not yet come unto thee; or, if he be come, ret, notwithstanding, there are remnants of sin in thee; thou art not yet thoroughly leavened. For where concupiscence, heaviness of spirit, and fear of death is, there is yet also the law and sin. Christ is not yet thoroughly come; but when he cometh indeed, he driveth away fear and heaviness, and bringeth peace and quietDess of conscience. So far forth then as I do apprehend Christ by faith, so much is the law abolished in me. But my flesh, the world, and the devil, do hinder faith in me that it cannot be perfect. Right gladly I would, that that little light of faith which is in my heart were spread throughout all my body and all the members thereof; but it is not to be done; it is not by-and-by spread, but only beginneth to be spread. In the mean season, this is our consolation, that we who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, do now begin to be leavened. But we shall be thoroughly leavened, when this body of sin is dissolved, and we shall rise new creatures, wholly, together with Christ.
Albeit then that Christ be one and the same yesterday, to-day, and shall be for ever; (Heb. xiii. 8.) and albeit that all the faithful which were before Christ, had the Gospel and faith; yet, notwithstanding, Christ came once in the time before determined. Faith also came once when the apostles preached, and published the Gospel throughont the world. Moreover, Christ cometh also spiritually, every day. Faith likewise cometh daily by the word of the Gospel. Now when faith is come, the schoolmaster is constrained to give place with his heavy and grievous office. Christ cometh also, spiritually, when we still more and more do know and understand those things which by him are given unto us, and increase in grace and in the knowledge of him, 2 Pet. iii.