« AnteriorContinuar »
and pure before I go to this bridegroom. And what is this, but going back to our father's house, wishing to bring with us that righteousness which he commands us to let go, and sending for that monk? But thou oughtest to say thus.—I know nothing about that worthiness: I care not whether I am worthy or unworthy: those things are all old and gone by. If I be outwardly unworthy as to the second table, be it so: that is my tilthiness. Yet, internally, I am beautiful by an adorning not my own. By that I am most holy, and am beautifully adorned; because, the King loveth that beauty; seeing that, I hear the Word, forget my monk, and believe in Christ my King—that I am redeemed by his blood, and justified by his merit.
Where there is this faith, whatever I do afterward pleases him : and he delights in my beauty which he himself has put upon me. Therefore, I am.not to doubt at all that I am all fair, and that all things which I do greauy please God for Christ's sake, whom I apprehend by faith as my Redeemer. So that, when I open my mouth to teach, or to pray, I am to believe that all the angels smile and rejoice; and he who hears me is to know, that he offers a sacrifice of the sweetest savour unto God. This is the experience to which we must arrive. This is to forget our father's house and people ;— to be persuaded of the present righteousness of faith, in opposition to the old righteousness of works; and then it will come to pass, that we shall be most acceptable unto God.
But the Holy Spirit uses the most exalted language, "So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty:" that is, thou wilt by this faith prevail upon him to do whatever thou desirest: so that, as one urged by the power of love, we will sponteneously follow thee, afyide with thee, and take up his abode with thee. For wherever God has given his Word, there he does not leave his work which he has begun in thee; but he brings upon thee first the temptations of the world, the devil, and the flesh; that by them he may work upon thee. These are his embraces whereby he embraceth his spouse •
through impatiency of love. Because, if we were without temptations, we should not seek him; we should not learn "to hear, see, and incline our ear." He therefore drives us, that we may the more earnestly cleave to the Word, and believe in him; and this he does, from his great love of us. But these embraces are so sweet to our flesh, that they often press tears from us! Yet they do us good.
These consolations, therefore, are exceedingly great if we could, not being afraid of their magnitude, embrace them. — That our King Christ not only takes pleasure in the Word and in faith; but that, with a love like that of a bridegroom toward his bride, he so hangs over us and is drawn towards us, that he spontaneously follows us. Such influence have we over him if we do but hear the Word, believe, and forget our own righteousness. But it is a difficult matter! May God only give us grace to enter into these things in doctrine, and in the ministry of the Word, and the symbols; and, in a degree, in our experience also; and as we have begun, may we learn to forget this monk, that he may at least not reign in us as he does in the Sacramentarians, the Anabaptists, and the Papists; whom this monk has so devoured altogether, that they are nothing but shaven monks. From which pestilence, may God in mercy save us. Amen!
The sum of the whole therefore is this.—That our beauty does not consist in our own virtues, nor even in the gifts which we have received from God, by which we put forth virtues and do all those things which pertain unto the life of the law. But in this:—our apprehending Christ and believing in him. Then it is that we are truly beautiful: and it is this beauty alone that Christ looks upon, and upon no other. Therefore, to teach that we should desire to become beautiful by religions of our own choosing, and by our own righteousness, amounts to nothing. Among men, indeed, and in the courts of great men, such things are beautiful; but in the courts of God, we must be arrayed in another beauty! There, the one and only beauty is, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ! He it is that blots out all our blemishes and wrinkles, and makes us acceptable unto God. This faith is a thing omnipotent, a beauty the most fair; besides which, there is no beauty. For out of, and without Christ, we are damned and lost, together with all that we have and all that we are!
CHRIST'S PEOPLE ALL RIGHTEOUS.
Isaiah lx. 21.
Thy people shall be all righteous.
This is a glorious text,— that all who are in the Church, that is, who believe in Christ crucified, are "righteous." But we must define what this righteousness is; for if you look at the life and walk of Christians, you will find many things which will offend you. They often sin, they often err, they often, through infirmity, are overcome by trifling things; all which seems to make against righteousness.
Righteousness then before God, is not the doing or suffering this or that, but the being illuminated by the Holy Ghost, and the knowing and confessing that Jesus Christ is our Saviour, who by his death, has redeemed as from death and sin. This righteousness is held forth in the Word, and is received by faith alone: which faith doses with the Word, and the man believes that he, by the death and merits of Christ, is righteous.
But this faith is no light thing. For it is impossible that the Gospel can be believed, without a divine power. And even those who have received the Holy Spirit, cannot hold fast this faith without the greatest conflicts. And the cause thereof is, that this righteousness is a thing invisible, which we are not to feel, but only to believe. But, because our flesh is corrupt and often falls into sins, our minds cannot, without a great deal of trying exercise, raise themselves up to believe, contrary to our present sense of sin, that we are righteous, not by our own righteousness, (for that under all these sins and infirmities is brought to nothing,) but by the righteousness of Christ; who therefore was made righteousness unto us, and sacrificed for our sins upon the cross, because it was impossible unto us to fulfil the law.
The mind must, therefore, be exercised to know, that its righteousness is out of itself, and treasured up in Christ. Otherwise, how could it stand in the judgment of God, seeing that we sin continually? If therefore thou hast sinned, and thy conscience bites thee, here thou oughtest to have firm faith, and to overcome sin through Christ and say,—Although I have sinned, yet I am righteous; because, I have for my light the Lord himself; because, I have Christ in whom there is no guilt of sin.
And that the righteousness of Christ is thine, thou hast the most weighty testimonies. First, the word of God itself; which saith that Christ died for thee. Again, thou hast baptist; for we are all baptized into his death, which he underwent for us. Thou hast also the sacrament of the altar; in which, by clear words and by an external sign, he confirms that his body was delivered for thee, and that his blood was shed for thee.
This therefore is our righteousness whereby we are righteous before God: it is without us afar off, placed far beyond all our own works and imaginations. Wherefore, we are deceived, if we make ourselves to be either righteous or unrighteous from our own works: for we ought to feel and confess, that we are righteous by a confidence in the death of Christ. They who do not this, do an injury to Christ, and make their sins to be greater than the death and innocent passion of Christ. Moreover, they deny the word of God and the sacrament, the signs of grace.
This, nevertheless, is true; that, with respect to thyself and thy "old man," thou sayest rightly that thou art a sinner: (for as much of flesh and blood as there is remaining in thee, so much sin hast thou remaining :) but because thou art baptized and illuminated by the Spirit, with respect to this "new man," thou art truly righteous. But for as much as baptism, the sacraBent of the altar, the word of God, nay Christ himself, w things that are placed without thee; so also, thy righteousness is placed without thee: therefore, the private sins of our flesh cannot destroy it. For the prophet saith that our sun is eternal: therefore, our righteousness is eternal, and not- to be overcome by temporal sms. It is not pride for a man to say that he is righteous: nay, to say the contrary, and to believe in thine Mart that thou art not righteous, is to deny Christ and to blaspheme the name of Christ, who gave himself to be our "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption," 1 Cor. i.
NEWBORN BABES IN THE FAITH OF CHRIST AND THEIR TASTING THE GRACIOUS SAVOUR OF THE GOSPEL.
1 Petek ii. 2.
As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word. J
Here, the simile which he adduces, is this.—Ye are newly born by the word of God; wherefore, be ye like unto new-born babes: that is, they desire nothing but milk. As therefore they desire the breasts, and milk; so ought ye to desire the word, and be carried out' in longings after it with all the heart; and to believe, that all the dainties which it contains, are there treasured up for you, that ye may suck out milk, sincere, and pure from all deceit.
These are figurative words. For he does not speak of corporal milk; even as he does not speak of a corporal sucking, or a corporal birth. But he is speaking here of another milk which is "sincere," that is, spiritual; which is imbibed by the soul and sucked out by the heart. This milk should be pure from deceit, for corrupted wares are often sold. It is, however, a matter of great moment, and utterly necessary, that to new-born and infant Christians, sincere and uncorrupt milk should