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be given. This milk is nothing else than the Gospel itself, which is also the very seed of which we are conceived and born, as we have observed before: and the same is also the food by which we are fed after we have grown up: it is also the armour with which we are furnished and equipped. And what farther shall I say? This same Gospel is every thing to us. And that which, being mingled, corrupts this sincerity, is the doctrine of men. Wherefore it is, that the Holy Spirit here gives an admonition, that every one of those who are born again in Christ, should look well to the kind of milk which he sucks, and should himself learn to judge of every kind of doctrine.
The breasts also which give forth this milk, and which the infants suck, are those who teach in the church of Christ. Hence, the bridegroom says to the bride in Cant, iv., "Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins." Between these, ought to hang the bundle of myrrh; as the bride saith Cant. i. "A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me, he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts." Which signifies, that Christ only, is always to be preached. This spouse ought always to be betwixt the breasts. Otherwise, if Christ be not purely preached, the milk is corrupted and all things are preposterous and pernicious.
And this preaching is pure, where it is preached as the chief thing of all, that Christ gave himself to death for us, and by it plucked and delivered us from sin, death, and hell: this is fruitful preaching, and, as it were, sweet milk. But by-and-by also, the cross must be preached: namely, that we must suffer as he also suffered : this, is strong drink, and pure wine. Therefore, to the new-born babes in Christ, softer food must first be given; that is, milk must be admininistered. This cannot be done more conveniently than by preaching unto them first, and before all things, Christ; who is by no means harsh, and nothing but sweet and rich grace; wherein, there is nothing that can hurt, nothing that can grieve. And this is that true milk, sincere, and pure from deceit.
And again, by " milk" here, Peter has reference to the scriptures, which he quotes most abundantly. The Lord commanded, Exod, xxiii. and Deut. xiv. "Thou shah not dress a kid, while it is suckled by its mother." I pray you for what cause did God command this to be written? Of what consequence was it if the kid were killed while it suckled? He doubtlessly commanded it, that it might signify that which Peter here teaches. Nor is it any thing else than if he had said, Take heed that thou preach tender things, and by degrees, to new-born and weak Christians. Let them be well fed, and grow fat by the knowledge of Christ. Do not overload them with strong doctrine: for, by reason of their tender age, they are not able to bear it. But by-and-by, when they are grown up and have gained some strength, then kill them and sacrifice them on the cross.
To the same purpose is that caution which we read Deut. xxiv.—That the new married husband ought not to be forced to go to war in the first year, lest he should be slain: but ought to remain at home and delight himself in his new-married wife. Nor does this signify any thing else, but that we should for a time indulge those who are yet babes in the faith of Christ, and treat them tenderly, until they be grown stronger: whom, by-andby, when they are grown up, the Lord will bring to the cross, and take care that they shall be slain like other Christians: and then, the kid shall be killed.
That ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
It is by no means enough to have heard the Gospel once: it must be inculcated continually, that by it we may grow. According to every one's strength of faith, so he ought to be looked after, and so he ought to be fed. But as for those who have not yet heard the Gospel, do not imagine that these things are spoken to them: they know not what this milk, or this wine is: and therefore, the apostle adds, " If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." As though he had said, He who has not tasted this, such an one cannot understand this thing in his heart, nor know that its taste is sweet. But those who have tasted it, such are always dwelling upon this food, even the word; they know what the taste of it is, and they are acquainted with its marvellous sweetness.
This tasting, is, when I believe in my heart that Christ gave himself for me, and put himself in my stead: and that now, all my sins and all my destruction are his, and his life mine. When that is taken up and entered into by the heart, its taste is wonderfully sweet: for how can it be that I should not be anointed with joy and pleasure at this, if I rejoice so much when any friend gives me only a hundred pounds? But he who does not take up this in his heart, he cannot be affected with any joy concerning it. Moreover, they taste the most of these things, who are exercised with the burthen of death, or are tormented with an unhealed conscience: to them, as the proverb saith, 'hunger is the best sauce:' that hunger, renders this food wonderfully savory. For the heart and conscience, when they have begun to feel their plagues, can hear of nothing so sweet as the Gospel: they are always longing for this; they can smell the savor of it afar off: and they can never be satisfied with it. Thus Mary sings, "He filleth the hungry with good things." Whereas those obstinate men, who live upon their own holiness, and lean upon their own works, and feel nothing of their sins, and plagues, taste nothing of these things. So when a hungry man sits down to the table, all the dishes have to him a savoury taste; but he who has already eaten to the full, has no relish for their savouriness at all; nay, even the most delicious meats are to him disgustful. Therefore, the apostle saith, "If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." As though he had said, If ye have not yet tasted this, my preaching these things to you is all in vain.
TRUE FAITH, TRUE OBEDIENCE, AND
I PETER i . 13.
Hope with all confidence in the grace which' he offered unto you by the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children.
The nature of Christian faith, is, to trust to the word of God with all reliance, to commit itself unto the word with all safety, and to undertake whatever is required with all confidence. And therefore Peter saith, then are the loins of your mind girded up, then is your faith sound and sincere, when you do what you do with this fall reliance upon the word of God; not regarding what will be endangered that belongs to you, whether your property, your fame, your body, or even your life. And therefore, he has in these words beautifully described sincere, and truly unfeigned faith. For faith must not be indolent and sleepy, which would rather be a dream than &ith, but it must be lively and efficacious: so that the man may expose himself to all things with all confidence, resting wholly on the word, not in the least regarding what kind of a portion God shall allot to him, fart undergoing with the same mind both adversity and prosperity. Thus, if I am to die, it behoves me to coma' mit myself with all confidence unto Christ, to offer my neck freely, relying upon the word which cannot deceive me, and boldly to triumph over the powers of my adversaries. Moreover, it is necessary that faith go right on, and suffer not itself to be hindered or terrified by any thing, but cast away all opposition which it may either hear, see, or feel. In a word, Peter requires such a faith as standeth not in imagination, nor in word, but fa power.
Moreover, Peter saith, "Hope in the grace which is offered unto you :" that is, ye did not merit this great grace, but it is offered unto you wholly free. For the G«pel,T which proclaim* this" grace unto "as;'we neve/ found out or thought of ourselves, but the Holy Spirit revealed it unto the world from heaven. And what is there offered unto us r Even those things of which we have spoken already:—that he who believes in Christ, and cleaves to his word, partakes, together with him, of all his benefits: he is in truth the Lord over sin, death, the devil, and hell, and sure of eternal life! This immense treasure is, as the German proverb saith, brought to our mouths and put into our bosoms, without any working or merit of ours : nay, when we never expected, never knew, and never thought of any such thing, Wherefore, the apostle exhorts us to expect this grace with all assurance, because, God who offers it unto us, most certainly cannot lie.
By the revelation of Jesus Christ.
God offers his grace to no one but by Christ; wherefore, no mortal man can presume to come into his presence without this Mediator: this also we have shewn before. For he will hear no one but him who brings with him as an advocate Christ his well-beloved Son; he will only look on him; and, for his sake, those who cleave to him. Wherefore, he requires that we acknowledge his Son, as him through whose blood we are received into his favour, and now dare to appear before him. Because it was for this that Christ the Lord came into the world, and, having assumed flesh and blood, united himself unto us,—that he might obtain for us grace to appear before his Father. It was by this faith that all the prophets and patriarchs were preserved, and attained unto salvation. For they must all have had faith in that promise which was made unto Abraham, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Wherefore, the faith of the Jews, the Turks, and all those who trust in their own works, and hope by them to obtain heaven, is a nothing at all. And therefore Peter saith, that grace is offered unto us; but, by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Or, to set it forth more plainly, by Jesus Christ being revealed unto us. By the Gospel, it is declared unto us what Christ is, that