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we might know him; namely, that he is our Saviour who takes away our sins; who delivers us from all evils; who reconciles us to his Father; and who makes as righteous and saved without any of our own works. He who does not know Christ thus, is manifestly deceived. For even if thou know that he is the Son of God who died and rose again, and now sitteth at the right hand of God, yet thou hast not known Christ aright, nor will this knowledge profit thee any thing: but it is necessary that thou know and believe, that he did all these things for thy salvation. Wherefore, all that they have hitherto preached and taught in the schools, is vain; because, they were destitute of this knowledge of Christ, and advanced no farther than discussing how much pain the Lord Christ's passion must have cost him before he could, as he now does, sit down at rest in heaven, and rejoice in himself: therefore their hearts remain utterly barren, and lively faith cannot grow therein. Whereas, Christ ought not to be preached as living and reigning for himself, but as being ours. Otherwise, what need was there for him to come down upon earth and shed his blood? But he was sent into the world that by him the world might be saved; which he himself saith, John chap. iii. was necessary, that he might accomplish that work which his Father sent him into the world to do. And that mission and coming is not to be understood of the divine nature only, but rather of the human nature, and of the office which Christ bore. For as soon as he was baptized he commenced his office, and began to do that for which he was sent, and for which he came into the world:—to preach the truth, and to declare unto men, that all who should believe in him should be saved. For this purpo:e, he shewed himself openly, studiously made himself known, and offered unto us grace in and through himself.
As obedient children.
That is, walk as becometh obedient children. Obefanct in the scriptures means faith. But the Pope with ms schools, and herds of monks have, by perverting this word, warped and twisted, according to their own lies and vanities, every thing that is read in the scriptures concerning obedience. So, as soon as they saw that great passage, 1 Kings v., "To obey is better than sacrifice," and found that obedience was so highly extolled in the scriptures, they laid hold of it in order to draw men into this error;—to think, that to do all that they should impose upon them, was the obedience which is so much commended in the scriptures. And thus, they would draw us from the word of God to their own lies and diabolical obediences! Whereas, he is the obedient child of God, who hears, and by faith embraces, the Gospel and word of God! Therefore, whatever is not the word, pay no regard to it, but rather tread it under thy feet!
Not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.
Here St. Peter adduces a passage from the Old Testament, Levit. xix., where the Lord saith, "Be ye holy, for I am holy:" that is, because I am the Lord your God, and ye are my people, it is right that ye should be as I am. For he that rightly acts the part of a lord, studies to make his people like himself; that they may be obedient in all things, and ready to conform themselves to his will. Hence it is, that, as the Lord our God is holy, so also we his people are holy: that is, when we walk in faith. For the scripture by no means has to do with the saints that are dead, but always speaks of those saints which are alive, and are still upon the earth : even as the prophet David, Ps. lxxxvi. boasts that he is holy: saying, " Preserve thou my soul, O Lord, for I am holy."
But our wise ones pervert this passage also; saying, that the prophet had some peculiar revelation, and therefore, called himself " holy." Wherein they plainly confess, that they are both destitute of faith, and know nothing of the revelation of Christ; if it were not so, they would at once understand what it is. For whoever is a Christian, knows that this revelation of Christ is in his own experience: and he who has not this experience is no Christian. For he that is a Christian, enters into communion with Christ and ah his benefits. And hence, as Christ is holy, so he must be holy; or else, he must deny that Christ is holy. For if thou art baptized, thou hast put on the garment of holiness—which is, Christ: as Paul testifies.
This term "holy," [saint,] signifies that which is made the peculiar property of God, and which belongs to him alone: which we commonly term, consecrated. Therefore, Peter here says, Ye have consecrated yourselves unto God, therefore, take heed that ye suffer not yourselves to be led away again into the lusts of the world; but yield yourselves unto God, that he may reign, live, and work in you ; then shall ye be holy, even as he is holy!
Thus, hitherto, the Apostle has described and taught that grace which is offered unto us by the Gospel, and the preaching of Christ. And now, what does he teach as in consequence of this grace;—that we firmly persevere in a pure and sincere mind of faith; assured, that No work whavever that we can either do or think, can be of any avail unto our salvation. But when these things are preached, immediately this reasoning begins, and this conclusion is drawn:—Well! if this be the case, then there is no need for me to do any good at all! Thus, those thick-headed ones run away into such an opinion; (or shall I rather call it madness?) and, of the Christian life, make a state of carnal licentiousness; imagining, that they may do just what they list. These the Apostle Peter here opposes, and anticipates their foolish reasoning; teaching, that the Christian liberty and freedom from all works is to be used with respect to God only; for with respect to, and before him, I am to use faith only, without any works; that I may as scribe unto him the honour due unto his name, and may acknowledge him to be my God who is just, true, and merciful! It is this faith that sets us free from sin and all evils. But when I have rendered these things unto God, then, whatever portion of life I live afterwards, I live to my neighbour, that I may serve him and do biui good. The chiefest of all works that proceed from faith, is, that I confess Christ with my mouth, and bear a testimony for him with my blood; being ready to lay down my life for him, when it should be required of me. But still, God has no need even of this work: wherefore, we are to do this, only, that our faith may be proved and manifested, and may win others unto the faith. And moreover, other works follow; all of which must be directed to this end,—that by them I may serve my neighbour; all which works, nevertheless, God must work in us. Therefore nothing is our own—we' can arrogate nothing unto ourselves.
SAVING WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND
HIS CRY OF ABBA FATHER IN THE HEART.
—A DESCRIPTION OF TRUE PRAYER.
Galatians iv. 6.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts.
The Holy Ghost is sent two manner of ways. In the primitive church, he was sent in a manifest and visible appearance. So he came upon Christ at Jordan in the likeness of a dove; (Matt. iii. 16,) and in the likeness of fire upon the apostles and other believers, (Acts ii. 3.) And this was the first sending of the Holy Ghost; which was necessary in the primitive church, for it was expedient that it should be established by many miracles because of the unbelievers; as Paul witnessetl}—" Strange tongues, (saith he,) he for it sign and a token; not to them that believe; but to them that believe not," (1 Cor. xix. 22.) But after that the church was gathered together and continued with those miracles, it was not necessary that this visible sending of the Holy Ghost should continue any longer.
Secondly, the Holy Ghost is sent by the word into the hearts of the believers; as here it is said, "God sent the Spirit of his Son," &c. This sending is without any visible appearance; to wit, when by the hearing of
the external word, we receive an inward fervency and light, whereby we are changed and become new creatures; whereby also, we receive a new judgment, a new feeling, and a new moving. This change, and this new judgment, is no work of reason or of the power of man, but is the gift and operation of the Holy Ghost, which cometh with the word preached, which purifieth our hearts by faith, and bringeth forth in us spiritual motions. Therefore, there is a great difference betwixt us and those, which, w ith force and subtilty, persecute the doctrine of the Gopel. For we, by the grace of God, can certainly judge by the word of the will of God towards us, also of all laws and doctrines, and of our own life and of the life of others. Contrariwise, the Papists and Sectaries cannot certainly judge of any thing. For they corrupt, they persecute, and blaspheme the Word. Now, without the Word, a man can give no certain judgment of any thing.
And although it appear not before the world that we be renewed in spirit, and have the Holy Ghost, yet notwithstanding, our judgment, our speech, and our confession, do declare sufficiently, that the Holy Ghost with his gifts is in us. For before, we could judge rightly of nothing: we spake not as now we do; we confessed not that all our works were sin and damnable: that Christ was our only merit both before grace and after, as now we do in the true knowledge and light of the gospel. Wherefore, let this trouble us nothing at all that the world (whose works we testify to be evil) judgeth us to be most pernicious heretics and seditious persons, destroyers of religion and troublers of the common peace, possessed of the devil speaking in and governing all our actions. Against this perverse and wicked judgment of the world, let this testimony of our conscience be sufficient; whereby we assuredly know, that it is the gift of God that we do not only believe in Jesus Christ, but that we also preach and confess him before the world. As we believe with our heart, so do we speak with our mouth, according to that saying of the Psalmist, "I believed, and therefore have I spoken," (Psalm cxvi. 10.)