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and thus enforce the works of the law, 'Do this and thou shalt live.' And again, ' If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,' &c. Which things are indeed true and right, if thou do but understand them rightly. But the true sense of these words must be explained unto me: for if I know not the real meaning of those parts where I am enjoined to be righteous and to keep the commandments, how am I to attain unto it? Or how am I to know what it is to be righteous? If you say, it is to have a pure heart and a good conscience, and to do all that God commands, you say well. But, my friend, perform thou that thyself first, or at least shew me the man who can say he has performed it: for thou wilt not so purify my heart for me by thy doctrine that God shall not be able to accuse and condemn me. The law (as I have abundantly shewn before) requires such a pure heart, as is attended with a good conscience before God. But by what means do we attain unto such a good conscience? Here is the question, and this is the point upon which our whole controversy turns. This conscience is not attained unto, by thy preaching about the judgment-seat, that is the law, but by our having a pure and unfeigned faith which apprehendeth Christ, in whom it obtains a fulness of all things which the law requireth. Thus, all things are performed by thee, when thou hast attained unto a good conscience, seeing that thou art now become righteous and justified before God. For although many things are wanting in thee, yet Christ stands as thy advocate; who has such a fulness of righteousness, as can fill up thy defects and the defects of all men.
Thus do we point out the way, whereby we may become righteous before God, while those others only shew the way of obtaining that honesty and righteousness which avail before men, which indeed they teach *etl enough; but they contend, that this same ought to ♦a* before God; and thus, confound air things together, with h greater hodge-podge than ever was made by asycooft, because they have had no experience* m these matters., and know not what they say, nor whereof they
attirm. For what avails all that perpetual bawling of thine, that 'if a man would enter into life he must keep the commandments,' &c. r by uttering which words, thou wilt point out nothing of the way wherein righteousness is to be attained. For if thou descend a little into thyself, and examine thyself strictly, thou wilt find that thou wast originally conceived and born in sin, ami hast lived in the same, and that thou canst not perform that which the law demands. Why then dost thou with vain words deceive others, saying, 'Be thou righteous and thou shalt be saved?' From which no profit whatever can be derived, there being no mention made ot the way by which we attain unto righteousness. Here again thou wilt say unto me, ' But good works must be done !'—Right! But how am I to stand in the divine judgment, even if I have wrought many good works and for a long time,- and have been righteous before men, as you have taught me to be? for how shall I be assured that I am equally righteous in the sight of God r Because, my heart and conscience will rise up and testify to the contrary against me.
But thou oughtest so to teach me as Paul every where teaches, that righteousness is to proceed from a faith unfeigned, and that, before all things, the mercyseat is to be apprehended, whereby all those deficiencies that are found in us are to be supplied. And then these words, ' Keep the commandments of God,' will be rightly understood. For the law requires of thee a perfect righteousness, that will avail before God as well as before men. When thou hast attained unto this, then go forth unto the assembly and among the multitude ot men, in the exercise of charity and the performance of good works. By this order of things, every thing is rendered effectual, and the above-mentioned commands of the scripture are fulfilled. For thus, the man does what the law requires. First, before God: not indeed by his own strength or goodness, but through Christ, without whom we can do nothing acceptable before God. And then, by his own good works before men. And now he is perfectly righteous: internally, by faith in Christ; and externally, by his own works; but so, that there remain a place for a mutual pardon from one man to another. Therefore, the righteousness of Christians stands much more in the remission of sins, than in any works of their own. But this order of things those vainly prating talkers have utterly perverted, and enforce works only, without making any mention of the remission of sins.
But, behold, the apostle Paul thus strikes at the. error and ignorance of those, who thus boast of the law and enforce it by their perpetual preaching; and yet, at the same time, having themselves no knowledge of nor showing at all the way in which the law is to be satisfied; understanding nothing whatever of the matter, and only prating and bawling again and again, that the law and the commandments are to be kept; and saying, 'If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,' &c. And thus, at this day, all books are filled with this turn, and nothing else is vomited out in any of the sermons that are heard but this vainly prated stuff, of which they themselves understand nothing. And it is concerning such that Paul is here speaking; for such, never bring forth one word about the sum of the Christian doctrine; that is, how charity is to flow out of a spare heart attended with a good conscience and faith unfeigned. All they say, is,' Keep the commandments.' But, though they are ever aiming at the mark, they never hit it: and therefore, they adulterate and falsify charity, heart and conscience. They utterly leave out the main point of the whole matter, namely, "faith unfeigned;" whereas, if that be not right and pure, all things must of necessity be adulterated whereby one can attain unto righteousness and stand therein. Hence, whatever they teach is a mere bugbear, and bordering upon juggling; and not at all unlike those things which are looked at through a coloured glass, which appear to be of the same colour as the glass, but in reality are not w. And they imagine that they are viewed of God in the same way, and that they appear unto him as they have lived before men: which, as it appears unto them,
has been righteously. But if such were the way with God, then he might have kept Christ and the Gospel to himself. For what necessity would there have been for his sending Christ from heaven, to obtain for us that by his precious blood, which we already had in ourselves, and could bring unto him? And surely he would be the most foolish of all mortals, who should uselessly give away a most precious treasure which nobody needed.
Hence, you see how these men teach their own dreams, concerning which they themselves know nothing certainly, nor have had any experience therein, and do nothing else but fill men with errors, not being able to shew how that to which they exhort is to be obtained. They drag indeed men unto works, and thereby leave them confirmed in their original nature and habits, from which they ought to be delivered. And such are indeed pestiferous and detestable characters, and are justly accused and condemned by Paul in the severest manner,. And it appears that those, with reference to whom Paul spake, were men of no common authority and estimation, seeing that he says of them, that they wished to be called and considered teachers of the law, and greater and above the apostles themselves.
Wherefore, are we to take diligent heed that we hold fast this text, and lay it up in the secret recesses of our hearts: for it is most signally expressed, and contains the pure and perfect doctrine:—how we are to be righteous both before God and men as the law requires, and to embrace in our experience these three things in one bond, as it were, — a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. And it is from all these things that our life flows, and in these it consists and stands; and it is thus that we satisfy and fulfil the law. But we are first of all most carefully to take heed, that we bring Christ unto the law, who is the end and perfection thereof, and is our righteousness and fulness before God; which we cannot find in ourselves, and never can attain unto, but by faith. And how much soever the law may be enforced and set forth in any other way, itis all without knowledge or understanding. —Let it suffice for the present, to have thus spoken upon this passage by way of exposition.
A SERMON OF CONSOLATION ON THE COMING OF CHRIST AND THE SIGNS THAT SHALL PRECEDE THE LAST DAY.
• And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth, distress of nations through perplexity, fyc.
Is' the Gospel for to-day, Christ our Lord gives us a particular declaration of the state of things that there shall be in the world, when the end thereof shall be at hand. Whence we may be instructed as to the time when that great and terrible day shall be near, when our Lord Jesus Christ shall openly come himself unto judgment; so that we may not be compelled to remain in doubt, nor to fluctuate through any uncertain opinions. Nay, he plainly tells us the particular signs which shall be in that latter time, and which shall usher in that great day. And indeed, it is not likely that so great an event as the signal and ultimate change of all things, should not be marked with many and great signs, when the much less important changes in countries and kingdoms take place according to predicted signs.
But, as this Gospel has already been copiously set forth before, so that it is well understood by all, and many are fully acquainted with it, I shall not here speak of the doctrine which it contains, but shall treat