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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 which 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 be
J'ond 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 whom Paul saith, 1 Cor. iv. "I will come unto you, and will bow 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. W herefore, 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 unto 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 detemiinately 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.
Paul, 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 ow works at our- hands, nor who hath received the sacrifices of Moses's law, worshippings, religions, masses, Tows, 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 then will it appear evidently, that the power of it is so great that by no means it could be put away, but that the Son of God must needs be given for it. He that considereth these things, well understandeth, that this word Sin co»prehendeth God's everlasting wrath and the whole kingdom of Satan, and that it is a thing more horrible than can be expressed; which ought to move us and make us afraid indeed. But we are careless, yea, we make light of sin and a matter of nothing, which although it bring with it a sting and remorse of conscience, yet notwithstanding, we think it not to be of such weight and force, but that by some little work or merit we may put it away. This sentence therefore witnesseth, that all men are servants and bond-slaves of sin, and, (as Paul saith in another place,) "sold under sin." And again, that sin is a most cruel and mighty tyrant over all men; which cannot be vanquished by the power of any creatures, whether they be angels or men, but by the sovereign and infinite power of Jesus Christ, "who hath given himself for the same."
Furthermore this sentence setteth out to the consciences of all men which are terrified with the greatness of their sins, a singular comfort. For albeit sin be never so invincible a tyrant, yet notwithstanding, for as much as Christ hath overcome it through his death, it cannot hurt them that believe in him. Moreover, if we arm ourselves with this belief, and cleave with all our hearts unto this man Jesus Christ, then is there a light opened and a sound judgment given unto us, so as we may most certainly and freely judge of all kinds of life. For when we hear that sin is such an invincible tyrant, thus, incontinent, by as necessary consequence we infer,—then, what do Papists, Monks, Nuns, Priests, Mahometists, Anabaptists, and all such as trust in their works, which will abolish and overcome sin by their own traditions, works preparative, satisfactions, &c.? Here forthwith we judge all those sects to be wicked and pernicious: whereby the glory of God and of Christ is not only defaced, but also utterly taken away, and our own advanced and established.