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ner as much as if he should say, that the fault is not in us, if we be damned, but in God, which, with this circumstance requireth his law to be accomplished of us.
These things I do the more diligently repeat, that you may see how far they have strayed from the true sense of the scripture, which have said that by our own natural strength we may love God above all things; or at least, by the work wrought we may deserve grace and everlasting life. And because God is not content that we fulfil the law according to the substance of the deed, but will have us also to fulfil the same according to the mind of the commander. Therefore the scripture farther compelleth us to have a quality above nature poured into us from above, and that is charity; which they call formal righteousness adorning and beautifying faith, being also the cause that faith justifieth us. So faith is the body, and the shell; charity the life, the kernel, the form and furniture. These are the monstrous dreams of the schoolmen.
But we, instead of this charity, do place faith: and we say, that faith apprehendeth Jesus Christ, who is the form which adorneth and furnisheth faith as the colour adorneth and beautifieth the wall. Christian faith, therefore, is not an idle quality or empty husk in the heart, which may be in deadly sin until charity come and quicken it; but, if it be true faith, it is a sure trust and confidence of the heart, and a firm consent whereby Christ is apprehended. So that Christ is the object of faith, yea rather, even in faith Christ himself is present. Faith, therefore, is a certain obscure knowledge, or rather darkness which seeth nothing: and yet, Christ apprehended by faith sitteth in this darkness, like as God in Sinai and in the temple sat in the midst of darkness, (Exod. xix. 9. 1 Kings viii. 10.) Wherefore, our formal righteousness is not charity beautifying and furnishing faith, but it is faith itself, which is as it were a certain cloud in our hearts: that is to say, a steadfast trust and afiance in the thing which we see not, which is Christ: who, although he be not seen at all, yet is he present.
Faith therefore justifieth, because it apprehendeth and possesseth this treasure, even Christ present. But this presence cannot be comprehended of us, because it is in darkness as I have said. Wherefore, where assured trust and affiance of the heart is, there Christ is present; yea even in the cloud and obscurity of faith. And this is the true formal righteousness whereby a man is justified, and not by charity as the Popish schoolmen do most wickedly affirm.
To conclude, like as the schoolmen say that charity furnisheth and adorneth faith, so do we say, that it is Christ whick furnisheth and adorneth faith; or rather, that he is the very form and perfection of faith. Wherefore, Christ apprehended by faith and dwelling in the heart, is the true Christian righteousness for the which God counteth us righteous and giveth us eternal life. Here is no work of the law, no charity, but a far other manner of righteousness, and a certain new world beyond and above the law. For Christ or faith is not the law, nor the work of the law !
FAITH STANDING IN THE POWER OF GOD.
I PETER I.
Who are kept by the power of God through faith.
We (saith he) in hope wait for that glorious inheritance into which we have come by faith. For these things take place in this order.— Faith is begotten by the word; our new-birth is by this faith; and by this new-birth we are translated into that hope; wherein, we with certainty wait for those good things, being fully assured of them. Wherefore, Peter here properly saith, that these things come through faith, not through our own works.
Moreover, Peter here significantly saith that we are “kept by the power of God unto salvation.” For there are many, who, having heard the Gospel, that faith only justifies without works, immediately rush forward and say, “And we too believe:' imagining, that the fancy which they form out to themselves, is faith. Whereas we have taught, and that out of the scriptures, that it is not in our own power to do even the least works without the Spirit of God. How then shall we arrogate to ourselves the power of doing that by our own powers which is the greatest of all works-to believe? Such cogitations as these, therefore, are mere figments and dreams. The power of God must be present with us, which may work in us, as Paul sets it forth in the Ephesians, chap. i. "God gave unto you the Spirit of wisdom, that ye may know what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us ward, who believe according to the working of his mighty power,” &c. For it is not only of the will of God, but of a certain power, that we believe: for such is this mighty concern, that, to create faith in any one, is a work of no less moment than it was to create heaven and earth.
Hence, it is manifest that those know not what they say, who say, How is it that faith can do all things, seeing that, many believe who do no good work whatever ? For they imagine that their dream is faith, and that faith can exist without good works. We however say with Peter that faith is the power of God: and in whomsoever God works this faith, he is born again and comes forth a new creature; and then, from this faith, there follows, naturally, nothing but good works. Wherefore, it is without cause that you say to a Christian do this or that good work; because, without any commanding, he does nothing but work good works spontaneously. All that he requires is to be admonished, that he deceive not himself with that false and fictitious faith. Therefore, away with these empty vain talkers who have plenty of prating about those things which are nothing but a froth and vanity of words: concerning wliom Paul saith, 1 Cor. iv. “ I will come unto you, and will know not the words of them that are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God standeth not in word but in power.” Where this power of God is wanting, there, neither true faith, nor any good works exist. Wherefore, they are open liars, who boast of the name and faith of Christ, and yet, nevertheless live a reprobate life. For undoubtedly, if the power of God were upon them, they must be different persons.
But what does Peter mean when he saith, “Who are kept by the power of God upto salvation ?"- That this faith, which the power of God, (which is present with us, and of which we are full,) works in us, is a matter so excellent and so great, that by it, we have a clear and certain knowledge of all those things which pertain unto salvation, and are able by it to judge and freely pronounce sentence on all things which are in the world. This doctrine is pure, the other false; this life is acceptable, the other reprobate; this working is good, the other evil. And whatsoever a man of this kind determinately declares, it is so, and is truth. For he cannot be deceived, but is preserved and kept by the power of God, and stands a judge of all doctrine.
On the other hand, where faith and the power of God are wanting, there is nothing but error and blindness. There reason is driven, now to this work, now to that: because it is imagining to ascend into heaven by its own works, and is ever thinking thus :— Behold this shall bring thee to heaven! Do this and thou shalt certainly be made partaker of felicity. Hence it is that those numberless floods of colleges, monasteries, altars, priesthoods, and monkeries, have spread themselves over the world. Into such blindness does God permit them to fall who do not believe. Whereas, in us who believe he keeps a sound mind in all things, that we might not be damned under this blindness, but might attain unto salvation.
HOW TO MEDITATE UPON AND APPLY THE DEATH AND SACRIFICE OF CHRIST.
GALATIANS i. 4.
Who gave himself for our sins. Panl, in a manner, in every word handleth the ar gument of this Epistle. He hath nothing in his mouth but Christ, and therefore in every word there is a fervency of spirit and life. And mark how well and to the purpose he speaketh. He saith not, who hath received our works at our hands, nor who hath received the sacrifices of Moses's law, worshippings, religions, masses, vows, and pilgrimages, but “ hath given.” What? Not gold, nor silver, nor beasts, nor paschal lambs, nor an angel, but “ himself.” For what? Not for a crown, not for a kingdom, not for our holiness or righteousness, but " for our sins." These words are very thunder-claps from heaven against all kinds of righteousness. Like as is also this sentence of John, “ Behold the lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world." Therefore we must with diligent attention mark every word of Paul, and not slenderly consider them or lightly pass them over, for they are full of eonsolation, and confirm fearful consciences exceedingly.
But how may we obtain remission of our sins ? Paul answereth, that the man which is called Jesus Christ the Son of God, hath given himself for them. These are excellent and most comfortable words, and are promises of the whole law,--that our sins are taken away by none other mean than by the Son of God delivered unto death. With such gun-shot and such artillery must the Papacy be destroyed, and all the religions of the heathen, all works, all merits, and superstitious ceremonies. For if our sins may be taken away by our own works, merits, and satisfactions, what needed the Son of God to be given for them? But seeing he was given for them, it followeth, that we cannot put them away by our own works.
Again : by this sentence it is declared, that our sins are so great, so infinite and invincible, that it is impossible for the whole world to satisfy for one of them: and surely the greatness of the ransom, (namely, Christ the Son of God, who gave himself for our sins,) declareth sufficiently, that we can neither satisfy for sin, nor have dominion over it. The force and power of it is set forth and amplified exceedingly by these words, “who gave himself for our sins.” Therefore, here is to be marked, the infinite greatness of the price bestowed for it; and