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unto Christ our high Bishop, but unto our works and merits. Here, on the one side, doubting and desperation must needs tollow; but on the other side, assurance of God's favour and joy of the Spirit. For we cleave unto God who cannot lie. For he saith, behold I deliver my Son to death, that, through his blood, he may redeem thee from thy sins and from eternal death. In this case, I cannot doubt unless I utterly deny God. And this is the reason that our doctrine is most sure and certain, because it carrieth us out of ourselves; that we should not lean to our own strength, our own conscience, our own feeling, our own person, and our own works, but to that which is without us; that is to say, the promise and truth of God, which cannot deceive us. This the Pope knoweth not, be he never so just and so wise, whether he be worthy of love or of hatred. But if he be just and wise, he knoweth assuredly that he is beloved of God; or else, he is neither just nor wise.
Moreover, this sentence of Solomon speaketh nothing at all of the hatred or favour of God towards men, but it is a moral sentence reproving the ingratitude of men. For such is the perverseness and ingratitude of the world, that the better a man deserveth, the less thanks he shall have: and oftentimes, he that should be his most friend, shall be his most enemy: contrariwise, such as least deserve, shall be most esteemed. So David, a holy man and a good king, was cast out of the kingdom. The prophets, Christ, and his apostles, were slain. To conclude, the history of all nations witness, that many men well deserving of their country, were cast unto banishment by their own citizens, and there lived in great misery; and some also shamefully perished in prison. Wherefore Solomon, in this place, speaketh, not of the conscience having to do with God, nor of the favour or judgment, the love or hatred of God, but of the judgments and affections of men among themselves. As though he would say, there are many just and wise men, by whom God worketh much good and giveth peace and quietness unto men: but so far off are they from acknowledging the same, that oftentimes they requite them again most unkindly and uncourteously for their well doings and deservings. Therefore, although a man do all things well, and never so well
, yet he knoweth not whether, by this his diligence and faithfulness, he deserves the hatred or favour of men.
So we, at this day, when we thought we should have found favour among our own countrymen, (for we preach unto them the Gospel of peace, life, and eternal salvation,) instead of favour, we have found bitter and cruel hatred. Indeed, at the first, many were greatly delighted with our doctrine, and received it gladly. We thought they would have been our friends and brethren, and that with one consent together with us they would have planted and preached this doctrine to others. But now we find, that they are false brethren and our deadly enemies, which sow and spread abroad false doctrine; and that which we teach well and godly, they wickedly pervert and overthrow, stirring up offences in the churches. Whosoever, therefore, doth his duty godly and faithfully, in what kind of life soever he be, and for his well-doing receiveth nothing again but the unkindness and hatred of men, let him not tease and torment himself therefore, but let him say with Christ,“ They hated me without a cause.'
“ For that they should have loved me, they slandered me; but I did pray,” (Ps. cxix. 3, 4.)
The Pope, therefore, with this devilish doctrine whereby he commanded men to doubt of the favour of God towards them, took away God and all his promises out of the church, buried all the benefits of Christ, and abolished the whole Gospel. These inconveniences do necessarily follow; for men do not lean to the promises of God, but to their own works and merits. Therefore, they cannot be assured of the good-will of God towards them, but must needs doubt thereof; and so, at length, despair. No man can understand what God's will is, and what pleaseth him, but in his good Word. This Word assureth us, that God hath cast away all the displeasure which he had conceived against us, when he gave his only begotten Son for our sins, &c. Wherefore, let us utterly abandon this devilish doubting wherewith the whole Papacy was poisoned, and let us be carefully assured that God is merciful unto us, that we please him, that he hath a care over us, and that we have the Holy Ghost which maketh intercession for us with such crying and groaning as cannot be expressed.
Now this is the true “ crying” and “ groaning” indeed, when a man in temptation calleth upon God, not as a tyrant, not as an angry judge, not as a tormentor, but as a “ Father;" although this groaning be so soft and so secret, that it can scarcely be perceived. For in serious temptations and in the time of trial, where the conscience wrestleth with the judgment of God, it is wont to call God not a “ Father," but an unjust, an angry, a cruel tyrant and judge. And this crying which Satan stirreth up in the heart, far surpasseth the cry of the Spirit, and is strongly felt. For then it seemeth, that God hath forsaken us and will throw us down into hell. So the faithful complain oftentimes in the Psalms, “ I am cast down from the presence of God,” (Ps. xxxi. 22.) Also, “ I am become as a broken vessel," &c. This is not the groaning that crieth “ Abba Father,” but the roaring of God's wrath, which crieth strongly, O cruel judge, O cruel tormentor, &c. Here is now the time that thou turn away thine eyes from the law, from works, and from the sense and feeling of thy conscience, and lay hold by faith of the promise; that is to say, of the Word of grace and life, which raiseth up the conscience again; so that now, it beginneth to groan and say, Although the law accuse me, sin and death terrify me never so much, yet, O my God, thou promisest grace, righteousness, and everlasting life, through Jesus Christ. And so, the promise bringeth a sighing and a groaning which crieth, “ Abba Father.”
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son.
This is the shutting up and the conclusion of that which he said before. As if he should say, this being true, that we have received the Spirit by the Gospel, whereby we cry;
" Abba Father;" then is this decree pronounced in heaven,—that there is no bondage any more, but more liberty and adoption. And who bringeth this liberty? Verily this groaning. By what means ? The Father offereth unto me, by his promise, his grace, and his fatherly favour. This remaineth then-that I should receive this grace. And this is done, when I again with this groaning do cry, and with a childly heart do assent unto this name of " Father.” Here then the Father and the son meet, and the marriage is made up without all pomp and solemnity; that is to say, nothing at all cometh between; no law nor work is here required. For what should a man do in these terrors and horrible darkness of temptations? Here is nothing else but the Father promising and calling me son by Christ, who was made under the law, &c. and I receiving and answering by this groaning, saying " Father.” then is no exacting; nothing is required, but only that childly groaning that apprehendeth a sure hope and trust in tribulation, and saith, thou promisest and callest me thy child for Christ's sake, and I again receive thy promise and call thee “ Father.” This is indeed to be made children simply and without any works. But these things, without experience and practice, cannot be understood.
Paul, in this place, taketh the word “servant” otherwise than he did before in the third chapter; where he saith, “ There is neither bond nor free,” &c. Here, he calleth him a " servant” of the law, which is subject to the law; as he did a little before, “ We were in bondage under the rudiments of the world.” Wherefore, to be a servant, according to Paul in this place, is to be guilty and captive under the law, under the wrath of God and death; to behold God, not as a merciful Father, but as a tormentor, an enemy, and a tyrant. This is indeed to be kept in bondage and Babylonical captivity, and to be cruelly tormented therein. For the law delivereth not from sin and death, but revealeth and increaseth sin and engendereth wrath. This bondage (saith Paul, Rom. iii. 20, Rom. iv. 15,) continueth no longer, it oppresseth us and maketh us heavy no more, &c. &c. Paul saith, “ Thou shalt be no more a servant.” But the sentence is more general if we say, There shall be no bondage in Christ any more, but more freedom and adoption. For when faith cometh, that bondage ceaseth ; as he said before in the third chapter.
Now if we, by the Spirit of Christ crying in our heart “Abba Father," be no more servants, but children; then it followeth, that we are not only delivered from the Pope and all the abominations of men's traditions, but also from all the jurisdiction and power of the law of God. Wherefore, we ought in no wise to suffer the law to reign in our consciences, and much less the Pope with his vain threatenings and terrors. Indeed, he roareth mightily as a lion, (Apoc. x.) and threateneth to all those that obey not his laws, the wrath and indignation of Almighty God, and of his blessed apostles, &c. But here, Paul armeth and comforteth us against these roarings; when he saith, “ Thou art no more a servant, but a son.” Take hold of this consolation by faith, and say, O law, thy tyranny can have no place in the throne where Christ my Lord sitteth ; there, I cannot hear thee, (much less do I hear thee, O Antichrist,) for I am free and a son; who must not be subject to any bondage or servile law. Let not Moses, therefore, with his laws (much less the Pope) ascend up into the bride-chamber there to lie; that is to say, to reign in the conscience; which Christ hath delivered from the law, to the end that it should not be subject to any bondage. Let the servants abide with the ass in the valley; let none but Isaac ascend up into the mountain with his father Abraham, (Gen. xii. 5.) That is, let the law have dominion over the body and over the old man ; let him be under the law and suffer the burden to be laid upon him ; let him suffer himself to be exercised and vexed with the law: let the law limit and prescribe him what he ought to do, what he ought to suffer, and how he ought to live and govern himself among men. But let it not defile the bed in which Christ should rest and sleep alone; that is to