Wednesday, June 29, 2011
THE THIRD PART OF THE SERMON OF SALVATION.
IT hath been manifestly declared unto you, that no man can fulfill the Law of GOD, and therefore by the law all men are condemned: whereupon it follows necessarily, that some other thing should be required for our salvation then the law: and that is, a true and a lively faith in Christ: bringing forth good works, and a life according to GODS commandments. And also you heard the ancient authors minds of this saying, Faith in Christ only justifies 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 GODS free mercy, and the merits of our Savior 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 show 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. Not withstanding, such be the less to be passed upon, so that the rest may profit, which will be the most desirous to know the truth, then (when it is plain enough) to contend about it, and with contentious and captious caviling, 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 own mercy, through the only merits and deservings of his son Jesus Christ, does justify us. Nevertheless, Because faith does directly send us to Christ for remission of our sins, and that by faith given us of GOD, we embrace the promise of GODS mercy, and of the remission of our sins, (which thing none other of our virtues or works properly does) therefore Scripture uses to say, that faith without works doth justify. And forasmuch that 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 justifies us: meaning none other thing then Saint Paul meant, when he said, Faith without works justifies us. And Because all this brought to passe through the only merits and deservings of our Savior 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 discern any part of our justification for us. And this form of speaking used we, in the humbling of our selves to GOD, and to give all the glory to our Savior Christ, which 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.
They that preach faith only justifies, do not teach carnal liberty, or that we should do no good works. 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 office is, not to passe the time of this present life unfruitfully, and idly, after that we are baptized or justified, not caring how few good works we do, to the glory of GOD, and profit of our neighbors: Much less is it our office, after that we be once made Christ's members, to live contrary to the same, making our selves members of the devil, walking after his incitements, 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.
The devils have faith, but not the true faith. For that faith which brings 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 Saint Paul and Saint James call it. For even the devils know and believe that Christ was borne of a virgin, that he fasted forty days and forty nights without meat and 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 from everlasting death, and that hee rose again from death the third day: They believe that hee ascended into heaven, and that he sits 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 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.
What is the true and justifying faith. For the right and true Christian faith is, not only to believe that holy Scripture, and all the aforesaid articles of our faith are true, but also to have a sure trust and confidence in GODS 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 outward appearances, seems to be a Christian man, and yet in his living and deeds shows the contrary.
They that continue in evil living, have not true faith. For how can a man have this true faith, this sure trust and confidence in GOD, that by the merits of Christ, his sins be forgiven, and be reconciled to the favor of GOD, and to be partaker of the kingdom of heaven by Christ, when he lives ungodly, and denies 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 savior of the world: so they know also that wicked men shall not enjoy the kingdom of GOD. They know that GOD hates unrighteousness (Psalms 5.5-6), that he will destroy all those that speak untruly, 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 judgement: 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
Therefore to conclude, considering the infinite benefits of GOD, showed 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 Savior 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 stirs us up by any means to do evil things: but contrariwise, if we be not desperate persons, and our hearts harder then stones, they move us to render our selves 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 honor, 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 our selves to our neighbors, and as much as lies in us, to study with all our endeavor, to do good to every man. These be the fruits of true faith, to do good as much as lies 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 redemption: to whom be ever glory, praise, and honor, world without end. Amen.