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God speaketh, reason judgeth his word to be heresy and the word of the devil, for it seemeth unto it absurd and foolish.
But faith killeth reason, and slayeth that beast which the whole world and all creatures cannot kill. So, Abraham killed it by faith in the word of God whereby seed was promised unto him of Sarah, who was barren and now past child-bearing. Unto this word reason yieldeth not straightway in Abraham, but it fought against faith in him, judging it to be an absurd, a foolish, and impossible thing that Sarah, who was now not only ninety years old, but also was barren by nature, should bring forth a son. Thus, faith wrestled with reason in Abraham, but herein faith got the victory, and killed and crucified reason, that most cruel and pestilent enemy of God. So, all the godly, entering with Abraham into the darkness of faith, do still reason; saying, reason, thou art foolish : thou dost not savour those things which belong unto God: therefore, speak not against me, but hold thy peace. Judge not, but hear the Word of God and believe it. So, the godly by faith, kill such a beast as is greater than the whole world; and thereby, do offer unto God a most acceptable sacrifice and service.
And, in comparison of this sacrifice of the faithful, all the religions of all nations, and all the works of all monks and merit-mongers, are nothing at all. For by this sacrifice, first, as I said, they kill reason, a great and mighty enemy of God. For reason despiseth God and denieth his wisdom, justice, power, truth, mercy, majesty, and divinity. Moreover, by the same sacrifice, they yield glory unto God: that is, they believe him to .be just, good, faithful, true, &c. : they believe that he can do all things : that all his words are holy, true, lively, and effectual, &c. : which is a most acceptable obedience unto God. Wherefore, there can be no greater or more holy religion in the world, nor more acceptable unto God, than faith is !
Contrariwise, the justiciaries and such as seek righteousness by their own works, lacking faith, do many things. They fast, they pray, they watch, they lay crosses upon themselves. But because they think to appease the wrath of God, and deserve grace by these things, they give no glory to God: that is, they do not judge him to be merciful, true, and keeping promise, &c. but to be an angry Judge which must be pacified with works. And by this means, they despise God and make him a liar in all his promises; and they deny Christ and all his benefits. To conclude, they thrust God out of his seat, and set themselves in his place. For they, rejecting and despising the word of God, do choose unto themselves such a service of God, and such works, as God hath not commanded. They imagine, that God hath a pleasure therein ; and they hope to receive a reward of him for the same. Therefore, they kill not reason, that mighty enemy of God, but quicken it: and they take from God his majesty and his divinity, and attribute the same unto their own works. Wherefore, only faith giveth glory to God, as Paul witnesseth of Abraham. “ Abraham (saith he) was strong in the faith, and gave glory to God; being fully assured, that whatsoever God had promised he was able to perform; and therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness,” Rom. iv. 20, 21.
Christian righteousness, consisteth in the faith of the heart, and God's imputation. It is not without cause that he addeth this sentence out of the 15th chapter of Genesis, “ And it was imputed unto him for righteousness.” For Christian righteousness, consisteth in two things : that is to say, in the faith of the heart, and in God's imputation. Faith is indeed a formal righteousness, and yet, this righteousness is not enough: for after faith, there remain yet certain remnants of sin in our flesh. This sacrifice of faith began in Abraham, but at the last it was finished in his death. Wherefore, the other part of righteousness must needs be added also, to finish the same in us ; that is to say, God's imputation. For faith giveth not enough to God, because it is imperfect, yea rather, our faith is but a little spark of faith which beginneth to render unto God his true divinity. We have received the first-fruits of the Spirit, but not yet the tenths. Besides this, reason is not utterly killed in this life. Which may appear by our concupiscence, wrath, impatiency, and other fruits of the flesh, and of infidelity yet remaining in us. Yea the holiest that live have not yet a full and continual joy in God, but have their sundry passions, sometimes sad, sometimes merry, as the scriptures witness of the prophets and apostles. But such faults are not laid to their charge because of their faith in Christ; for otherwise, no flesh should be saved. We conclude, therefore, upon these words, “it was imputed to him for righteousness," that righteousness indeed beginneth through faith, and by the same we
have the first-fruits of the Spirit: but because faith is weak, it is not made perfect without God's imputation. Wherefore, faith beginneth righteousness, but imputation maketh it perfect unto the day of Christ.
The Popish sophisters and schoolmen dispute also of imputation, when they speak of the good acceptation of the work; but, beside and clean contrary to the scrip
for they wrest it only to works. They do not consider the uncleanness and inward poison lurking in the heart
, as incredulity, doubting, contemning and hating of God; which most pernicious and perilous beasts, are the fountain and cause of all mischief. They consider no more but outward and gross faults and unrighteousness, which are little rivers proceeding and issuing out of those fountains. Therefore, they attribute acceptance to works: that is to say, that God doth accept our works, not of duty, but of congruence. Contrariwise, we, excluding all works, do go to the very bead of this beast which is called reason, which is the fountain and head-spring of all mischiefs. For reason feareth not God: it loveth not God; it trusteth not in God, but proudly contemneth him. It is not moved with his threateninys or his promises; it is not delighted with his words or works, but it murmureth against him: it is angry with him, and judgeth and hateth him. To be short, it is an enemy to God (Rom. viii. 7,) not giving him his glory. This pes
tilent beast reason, I say, being once slain, all outward and gross vices should be nothing.
Wherefore, we must first and before all things go about by faith to kill infidelity, the contempt and hating of God, and murmuring against his judgment, his wrath, and all his words and works. For then do we kill reason, which can be killed by none other means, but by faith : which, in believing God, giveth unto him his glory, notwithstanding that he speaketh those things which seem both foolish, absurd, and impossible unto reason: notwithstanding also, that God setteth forth himself otherwise than reason is able either to judge or to conceive: that is to say after this manner :- I will account and pronounce thee as righteous, not for the keeping of the law, not for thy works and thy merits, but for thy faith in Jesus Christ mine only begotten Son, who was born, suffered, was crucified, and died for thy sins; and that sin which remaineth in thee, I will not impute unto thee. If reason then be not killed, and all kinds of religion, and all services of God under heaven that are invented by men to get righteousness before God, be not condemned, the righteousness of faith cannot take place.
When reason heareth this, by-and-by it is offended; it rageth and uttereth all her malice against God; saying, Are then my good works nothing? Have I then laboured and borne the heat of the day in vain ? (Matt. xx. 11.) Hereof ariseth those uproars of nations, of kings and princes against the Lord and against his Christ (Psalm ii.) For the world neither will nor can suffer that his wisdom, righteousness, religions, and worshippings, should be reproved and condemned. The Pope with all his Popish rabblement will not seem to err, much less will he suffer himself to be condemned.
Wherefore, let those which give themselves to the study of the Holy Scripture, learn out of it this saying, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness," to set forth truly and rightly this true Christian righteousness after this manner; – that it is a faith and contidence in the Son of God; or rather, a
confidence of the heart in God though Jesus Christ. And let them add this clause as a difference, — which faith and confidence is accounted righteousness for Christ's sake. For these two things, as I said before, work Christian righteousness; namely, faith in the heart which is a gift of God and assuredly believeth in Christ; and also, that God accepteth this imperfect faith for perfect righteousness for Christ's sake, in whom I have begun to believe. Because of this faith in Christ, God seeth not my doubting of his good-will towards me, my distrust, my heaviness of spirit, and other sins which are yet in me. For as long as I live in the flesh, sin is truly in me. But because I am covered under the shadow of Christ's wings, as is the chicken under the wing of the hen, and dwell without all fear under that most ample and large heaven of the forgiveness of sins which is spread over me, God covereth and pardoneth the remnant of sin in me; that is to say, because of that faith wherewith I began to lay hold upon Christ, he accepteth my imperfect righteousness even for perfect righteousness, and counteth my sin for no sin, which, notwithstanding, is sin indeed.
So we shroud ourselves under the covering of Christ's flesh; who is “our cloudy pillar for the day, and our pillar of fire for the night (Exod. xiii. 21,) lest God should see our sin. And although we see it, and for the same do feel the terrors of conscience, yet, fleeing unto Christ our Mediator and Reconciler, through whom we are made perfect, we are sure and safe. For as all things are in him, so, through him, we have all things, who also doth supply whatsoever is wanting in us. When we believe this, God winketh at the sins and remnants of sin
yet sticking in our flesh, and so covereth them as if they were no sins. Because (saith he) thou believest in my Son, although thou have many sins; yet, notwithstanding, they shall be forgiven thee, until thou be clean delivered from them by death.
Let Christians learn with all diligence to understand this article of Christian righteousness. And to this end, let them read Paul, and read him again both often and