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and of the whole world. Then let not thy sins be sin's, but even thy own sins indeed: that is, to wit, believe thou that Christ was not only given for other men's sins, but also for thine. Hold this fast, and suffer not thyself by any means to be drawn away from this sweet definition of Christ, which rejoiceth even the very angels in heaven; that is to say, that Christ, according to the proper and true definition, is no Moses, no lawgiver, no tyrant, but a mediator for sins, a free giver of grace, righteousness, and life, who gave himself, not for our merits, holiness, righteousness, and godly life, but " for our sins." Indeed, Christ doth interpret the law, but that is not his proper and principal office.
These things as touching the words we know well enough, and can talk of them, but in practice and in conflict, when the devil goeth about to deface Christ, and to pluck the word of grace out of our hearts, we find that we do not yet know them well and as we should do. He that, at that time, could define Christ truly, and could magnify him and behold him as his most sweet Saviour and High-Priest, and not as a strict judge, this man had overcome all evils, and were already in the kingdom of heaven. But this to do in the conflict, is of all things the most hard. I speak this by experience. For I know the devil's subtleties; who, at one time, not only goeth about to fear us with the terror of the law, yea and also of a little mote maketh many beams; that is to say, of that which is no sin he maketh a very hell, (for he is marvellous crafty both in aggravating sin and in puffing up the conscience even in good works,) but also is wont to fear us with the very person of the Mediator; into the which he transformeth himself, and laying before us some place of the scripture, or some saying of Christ, suddenly he striketh our hearts, and sheweth himself unto us in such sort, as if he were Christ indeed; leaving us sticking so fast in that cogitation, that our conscience would swear it were the same Christ whose saying he alleged. Moreover, such is the subtlety of the enemy, that he will not set before us Christ entirely and wholly, but a piece of Christ only, namely that he is the Son of God, and man born of the Virgin; and by-and-by, patcheth there some other thing; that is to say, some saying of Christ wherewith he terrifieth the impenitent sinner, such as that in the 13th of Luke, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish;" and so, corrupting the true definition of Christ with his poison, he bringeth to pass, that albeit we believe him to be Christ the true Mediator, yet in very deed our troubled conscience feeleth and judgeth him to be a tyrant and a judge. Thus, we being deceived by Satan, do easily lose the sweet sight of our HighPriest and Saviour Christ: which being once lost, we shun him no less than the devil himself.
And this is the cause, why I do so earnestly call upon you to learn the true and proper definition of Christ out of these words of Paul, "who gave himself for our sins." If he gave himself to death for our sins, then undoubtedly he is no tyrant or judge, which will condemn us for our sins; he is no caster down of the afflicted, but a raiser up of those that are fallen; a merciful reliever and comforter of the heavy and broken-hearted. Else should Paul lie in saying, "who gave himself for our sins." If I define Christ thus, I define him rightly, and take hold of the true Christ and possess him indeed. And here, I let pass all curious speculations touching the divine Majesty, and I stay myself in the humanity of Christ; and so, I learn truly to know the will of God. Here is then no fear, but altogether sweetness, joy, peace of conscience, and such like. And here withal there is a light opened, which sheweth me the true knowledge of God, of myself, and of all creatures, and all the iniquities of the devil's kingdom. We teach no new thing, but we repeat and establish old things which the apostles and all godly teachers have taught before ns. And would to God we could so teach and establish them, that we might not only have them in our mouth, but also well-grounded in the bottom of our heart; and especially, that we may be able to use them in the agony and conflict of death.
THE SIN AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST.
There are six sins against the Holy Ghost: which, although they be essentially the same, yet differ in their actings, or rather in their sinful workings.—Presumption, fighting against the known truth, obstinacy, desperation, envy of the grace in a brother, and final impenitency.
These act or work thus.—In the time of security and peace, presumption, fighting against the truth, and obstinacy: in the time of soul-straits and trouble, desperation, envy, and impenitency.
1. The reprobate, in the time of security, is confident and presumptuous; and seems sure that he in his works please God, and will be righteous as he is in himself, as the pharisees.
2. If he be reproved, he grows proud, and resists the truth which makes against him; and although he knows it is the truth, yet he will not cease from his presumption; and thus, he fights against the known truth.
3. He obstinately perseveres in this presumption and fighting; and thus, dies in his sins hardened, seared, and incorrigible.—On the other hand
1. The reprobate when they begin to feel the wrath of God, they at once, like Cain and Judas, despair, and do not believe that their sins are pardoned; but imagine, that their sin is greater than the grace of God.
2. When they see, that they are rejected, they envy all men their salvation; and would that no one were saved, but that all should perish with themselves.
3. They persevere in this envy and desperation, and will not suffer themselves to be converted. And as obstinacy is a certain final impenitency in the time of security; that is, in presumption and fighting against the truth; so, final impenitency is a certain obstinacy in the time of soul-straits, that is, in desperation, envy, &c.
CHRIST DELIGHTING IN THE BEAUTY
Psalm xlv. 11.
This is a most sweet promise. For the Holy Spirit knoweth that this monster, Monk, sticks fast in our heart, —that we want to be pure and without spot before God. Thus, under Popery, all my temptation was this. I used to say «that I would willingly go to the sacrament if I were but worthy.' Thus we seek, naturally, a purity in ourselves; and we examine our whole life and want to find a purity in ourselves, that we might have no need of grace, but might be pronounced righteous upon the grounds of our own merit. This inclination is rooted in our flesh; and the Holy Spirit knows that we wish for a beauty in ourselves. And hence, when we would pray, we think thus, 'willingly would ^ I pray, but I am not worthy that God should hear me.'
These cogitations come from that monstrous monk, (of whom I have spoken before,) that dwells in our own breasts, and intoxicates our conscience with a looking to our own worthiness, and a desiring not to pray before we are better. But thus, it will come to pass that thou wilt never pray, if thou wilt wait until thou art worthy. For if it be required that we be first righteous, why do we pray in the Lord's prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses?" Rather, when thou feelest that thou art-a sinner and unfit to pray, thou shouldst then go the most to prayer and to the sacrament. For in what other way wouldst thou become righteous, but by the Word and Sacrament? Thou wilt certainly never become righteous by thvself and thine own works. Thus, there is in us all this pestilent reasoning of our own monk, that we are always looking for our own purity.
The Holy Spirit saith, therefore, I will give thee wholesome counsel; and if thou wilt hear me thou shalt become a virgin all fair, For, if thou wouldst be beautiful in the sight of God, so that all thy works should please him, and he should say, 'Thy prayer pleaseth me; all that thou sayest, doest, and thinkest pleaseth me;' proceed thou thus;—"hear, see, and incline thine ear;" and thou shalt thus become all fair. When thou hast heard, hast seen, hast forgotten all thine own righteousness, all the law, all traditions, and all that monkery, and hast believed, then art thou fair; not in thine own beauty, but in the beauty of the King who has adorned thee with his Word; because, he has brought unto thee thereby his righteousness, his holiness, truth, and fortitude, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
But here, first of all, our own reasoning deceives us; which the monk that is born with us still retains; and which sticks close to our flesh and conscience. And next, the efficacy of the Word; for, because it is preached in common, and seems to have no conspicuous appearance, therefore, we do not think that we are sufficiently adorned when we have the Word only, when we are baptized, have partaken of the Lord's Supper, and are called by the Gospel. This adorning we do not think to be the highest ornament, as to appearance, because it is vile, and as it appears, common to all. For, say the Anabaptists, what adorning is it to be wetted with water?—It is thus that fleshly eyes judge! But, if thou look at baptism with spiritual eyes, thou wilt see, that baptism clothes thee with the adorning of Christ. And what better and more precious adorning wouldst thou wish for, than that with which Christ is adorned himself, and adorns his disciples?
Thus, the Holy Spirit declares, that we are to be made beautiful by a beauty not our own. When (saith he) thou hast heard, hast believed, and hast forgotten thine own righteousness, so that thou desirest to know nothing wherein to trust but the adorning of the bridegroom Christ, then shalt thou be truly beautiful, and "So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty." But what do we? Directly the contrary! We go back U our father's house, which he commands us to forget Ah I (say we) I am a sinner. I want to become worth;