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God's commandments. And also you heard the ancient authors' minds of this saying, 'Faith in Christ only justifieth man,' so plainly declared, that you see, that the very true meaning of this proposition or saying, 'We be justified by faith in Christ only,' (according to the meaning of the old ancient authors) is this: We put our faith in Christ, that we be justified by him only, that we be justified by God's free mercy, and the merits of our Saviour Christ only, and by no virtue or good works of our own, that is in us, or that we can be able to have, or to do, for to deserve the same; Christ himself only being the cause meritorious thereof.
Here you perceive many words to be used, to avoid contention in words with them that delight to brawl about words, and also to shew the true meaning, to avoid evil taking and misunderstanding; and yet peradventure all will not serve with them that be contentious; but contenders will ever forge matters of contention, even when they have none occasion thereto. Notwithstanding, such be the less to be passed upon, so that the rest may profit, which will be more desirous to know the truth, than (when it is plain enough) to contend about it, and with contentious and captious cavillation, to obscure and darken it. Truth it is, that our own works do not justify us, to speak properly of our justification; that is to say, our works do not merit or deserve remission of our sins, and make us, of unjust, just before God: but God of his mere mercy, through the only merits and deservings of his Son Jesus Christ, doth justify us. Nevertheless, because faith doth directly send us to Christ for remission of our sins; and that by faith given us of God, we embrace the promise of God's mercy, and of the remission of our sins, (which thing none other of our virtues or works properly doth,) therefore the Scripture useth to say, that faith without works doth justify. And forasmuch as it is all one sentence in effect, to say, 'faith without works, and only faith,' doth justify us; therefore the old ancient fathers of the church, from time to time, have uttered our justification with this speech, ‘Only faith justifieth us :' meaning none other thing than St. Paul meant, when he said, Faith without works justifieth us [Gal. ii. 16]. And because all this is brought to pass through the only merits and deservings of our Saviour Christ, and not through our merits, or through the merit of any virtue that we have within us, or of any work that cometh from us; therefore, in that respect of merit and deserving, we forsake, as it were, altogether again, faith, works, and all other virtues. For our own imperfection is so great, through the corruption of original sin, that all is imperfect that is within us, faith, charity, hope, dread, thoughts, words, and works, and therefore not apt to merit and deserve any part of our justification for us. And this form of speaking use we, in the humbling of ourselves to God, and to give all the glory to our Saviour Christ, who is best worthy to have it. Here you
have heard the office of God in our justification, and how we receive it of him freely, by his mercy, without our deserts, through true and lively faith. Now you shall hear the office and duty of a Christian man unto God, what we ought on our part to render unto God again, for his great mercy and goodness. Our They that office is, not to pass the time of this present preach faith life unfruitfully and idly, after that we are do not teach baptized or justified, not caring how few good carnal liberty, works we do, to the glory of God, and profit should do no of our neighbours: much less is it our office, good works. after that we be once made Christ's members, to live contrary to the same; making ourselves members of the devil, walking after his enticements, and after the suggestions of the world and the flesh, whereby we know that we do serve the world and the devil, and not God. For that faith which bringeth forth (without repentance) either evil works, or no good works, is not a right, pure, and lively faith, but a dead, devilish, counterfeit, and feigned faith, as St. Paul and St. James call it (1 Cor. xiii. 2; James ii. 17]. For even the devils know and believe that Christ was born of a virgin ; that he fasted have faith, bat forty days and forty nights without meat and faith. drink; that he wrought all kind of miracles, declaring himself very God. They believe also, that Christ for our sakes suffered most painful death, to redeem us from everlasting death, and that he rose again from death, the third day: they believe that he ascended into heaven and that he sitteth on the right hand of the Father, and at the last end of this world shall come again, and judge both the quick and the dead. These articles of our faith the
What is the
devils believe, and so they believe all things that be written in the New and Old Testament to be true: and yet for all this faith they be but devils, remaining still in their damnable estate, lacking the very true Christian faith. For the right and true Christian faith is, not only to believe that Holy Scripture, and all true and justifythe foresaid articles of our faith are true, but ing faith. also to have a sure trust and confidence in God's merciful promises, to be saved from everlasting damnation by Christ: whereof doth follow a loving heart to obey his commandments. And this true Christian faith neither any devil hath, nor yet any man, which in the outward profession of his mouth, and in his outward receiving of the sacraments, in coming to the church, and in all other vutward appearances, seemeth to be a Christian
and yet in his living and deeds sheweth the contrary. For how can a man have this true faith, this sure They that contrust and confidence in God, that by the tinue in evil merits of Christ his sins be forgiven, and he true faith. reconciled to the favour of God, and to be partaker of the kingdom of heaven by Christ, when he liveth ungodly, and denieth Christ in his deeds ? Surely no such ungodly man can have this faith and trust in God. For as they know Christ to be the only Saviour of the world, so they know also that wicked men shall not enjoy the kingdom of God. They know that God hateth unrighteousness; that he will destroy all those that speak untruly (Psalm v. 46); that those which have done good works which cannot be done without a lively faith in Christ) shall come forth into the resurrection of life, and those that have done evil shall come unto the resurrection of judgment. Very well they know also, that to them that be contentious, and to them that will not be obedient unto the truth, but will obey unrighteousness, shall come indignation, wrath, and affliction, &c. (Rom. ii. 8, 9). Therefore to conclude, considering the infinite benefits of God, shewed and given unto us mercifully without our deserts, who hath not only created us of nothing, and from a piece of vile clay, of his infinite goodness, hath exalted us (as touching our soul) unto his own similitude and likeness; but also, whereas we were condemned to hell and death everlasting, hath given his own natural Son, being God eternal, immortal, and equal unto himself in power and glory, to be incarnated, and to take our mortal nature upon him, with the infirmities of the same, and in the same nature to suffer most shameful and painful death for our offences, to the intent to justify us, and to restore us to life everlasting: so making us also his dear children, brethren unto his only Son our Saviour Christ, and inheritors for ever with him of his eternal kingdom of heaven.
These great and merciful benefits of God, if they be well considered, do neither minister unto us occasion to be idle, and to live without doing any good works, neither yet stir us up by any means to do evil things : but contrariwise, if we be not desperate persons, and our hearts harder than stones, they move us to render ourselves unto God wholly, with all our will
, hearts, might, and power, to serve him in all good deeds, obeying his commandments during our lives; to seek in all things his glory and honour, not our sensual pleasures and vain-glory; evermore dreading willingly to offend such a merciful God and loving Redeemer, in word, thought, or deed. And the said benefits of God, deeply considered, move us for his sake also to be ever ready to give ourselves to our neighbours, and as much as lieth in us, to study with all our endeavour to do good to every man. These be the fruits of true faith ; to do good as much as lieth in us to every man, and above all things, and in all things, to advance the glory of God, of whom only we have our sanctification, justification, salvation, and redemiption. To whom be all glory, praise, and honour, world without end. Amen.
A SHORT DECLARATION OF THE TRUE,
LIVELY, AND CHRISTIAN FAITH.
A dead faith.
The first coming unto God, good Christian