Page images
PDF
EPUB

the people the word God, and did drive away the wolf from the flock of Christ, and so did pastors; but these offices be not so divided, but one man inay be an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor, a doctor; they have divers names for thie diversity of their offices, and of their gifts.

In that God hath in his church so many ministers, he would have some to be hearers, and not all to be pastors. And in this he reproveth them, that would have every man to be a preacher : some must be preachers, and some hearers in the congregation. The ministers in the church, they should either be: apostles, prophets, or doctors, or else levites, deacons to provide for the poor. For purgatory-priests or popish priests that can do nothing else but mumble or patter over a pair of popish matins or mass; I find no place in the Scripture. Ignorant priests, not learned in the Scriptures, not able to teach and to edify others by holy doctrine, are not allowed by Saint Paul to be counted as priests or bishops, as appeareth, 1 Tim. ïïi. Tit. i. .

For what end were these ministers in the church ordained, is here shewed, that it was to instruct others in the truth, and to edify others by wholesome doce trine, and not that they should deceive any by errors, heresies, superstitions, feigned holiness, false trusts, backward or perverse judgments. The church is edified, when it is instructed in true faith and good works approved by God; and when all erroneous opinions, superstitious errors and heresies are put away. It is destroyed by false opinions, superstitiousness, evil judginents, errors and heresies of ministers in the church that serve not for the edification of the body of Christ. I cannot tell for what purpose serve so many purgatory popish priests, that know not God's word, nor will learn it to edify themselves and others in the truth ; but will hinder and let

it as much as they can, and speak evil of God's word as far as they dare.

Here he sheweth, how long it is necessary to have apostles, preachers, and teachers of God's word in the church of God; they be necessary till we come all to the unity of faith and full knowledge of God, and till we come to be perfect men in Christ; which is not in this world, but in the world to come, for now we have unperfect knowledge, then we shall have perfect knowledge; now we know by faith, then we shall know face to face. He willeth, that we shall increase daily, more and more in the knowledge of God, which knowledge increaseth as our faith increaseth: as there is increasing in age, so there is increasing in faith ; of the which increasing, is here a similitude taken. And he willeth, that men should increase in faith and in knowledge of God's word, and go forward in good works, as men do increase in age: and this increasing in faith, is by the preaching of the word of God, which may not cease as long as we shall live in this world.

Ver. 14–16. That we be no more children, wavering and carried about with every wind of doctrine, through the wickedness of men, and craftiness, whereby they lay wait for us to deceive us; but let us follow the truth in love, and in all things grow in him, which , is the head, even Christ; in whom all the body is coupled together, and one member hangeth ly another throughout all the joints, whereby one ministereth unto another, according to the operation, as every member hath his measure, and maketh that the body groweth to the edifying of itself in love.

The Apostle declareth himself, and sheweth when they shall be made perfect men and how; that is, when they shall not be children and wavering with every blast of doctrine, and be drawn this way and that way. He would not have them children, that

as long as wethe word of Gocasing in faith, in doin

be inconstant, foolish, mutable, and wavering hither and thither : but he would have them children in malice, and in knowledge, men : constant in the doctrine of truth and in faith ; and that they would not suffer themselves to be deceived by any doctrine of men, which should come in sheep's clothing, and under pretence of holiness and virtue, which should be inwardly, greedy wolves. Here the Apostle reproveth those that be unconstant in doctrine and in faith, and light of credence to every doctrine; now following this way, now that way; new, rather than true doctrine, pleaseth better for a time; and such there are many which be better pleased with the doctrine of falsehood, than with the old doctrine of truth, and therefore they get them new masters of error and believe them, and contemn the old truth. Masters of error be they that have preached pilgrimage, painting of blocks and stocks, offering up of candles to images, pardons, and other will works, neither commanded of God nor of man, leaving the works of God, commanded in holy Scripture. And also, these anabaptists be masters of error, and have deceived some by their new doctrine of falsehood, error, and heresy.

He sheweth, how those masters of error have deceived men, and brought them from the truth of holy Scripture, by falsehood, craft, and pretence of virtue and holiness and of the worship of God: but these by their pretended holiness, have deceived many, and brought from the truth to error and heresy. Such was the doctrine of them that would have the bishop of Rome to be the head corner of the church of Christ in earth, making all holiness in fasting, praying, hallowing, ringing, singing, religiousness, rites, ceremonies, customs, or otherways brought in by the bishop of Rome, and not spoken of in Scripture.

Such deceivable doctrine was the doctrine of them,

earth, making singing, religiousnt in by the

that moved men to put their trust and confidence in Creatures, in their own works, deeds, and merits, in saints, yea, in carved and graven images, in pardons, in pilgrimages, in masses ad scalam coeli, in coats, cowls, habits, hose, shoes, boots, girdles, purses, knives, and in other such-like baggage and inventions of man, invented for lucre sake. Which inventions have been profitable to bishops of Rome, the inventors and makers of this holiness; from all such deceivable doctrine, the Apostle moveth men to beware, and take heed of their wily craftiness and slight jugglings (by the which they have deceived simple men, that trusted no evil, nor falsehood), and willeth, that inen shall take the truth and follow the truth by charity, and go forwards by faith and good works, approved and appointed of God in holy Scripture, and not to leave these works and to follow our own dreams or fantasies, invented of man without God's word.

The Apostle here goeth further in his metaphor of building, by the which he willeth no other thing, but that he would men, building upon Christ, the sure foundation, should go forth in true faith, in true knowledge of Christ, and in all good works, in charity, by the which, all virtues be coupled and knit together; that they might be a perfect building in Christ, and come to his glory, of the which also we may learn, that it is the office of a preacher, not only to reprove vice and sin, but also to shew the remedy for them, how men shall get true virtue, to move, to go forwards in virtue, and in all good works and deeds commanded in Scripture, after the example of Saint Paul. · Ver. 17-19. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye walk no more as the other heathen walk, in the vanity of their mind, blinded in their own understanding; being strangers from the life which is in God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart, which, being past repentance, have given themselves over to wantonness, to work all manner of uncleanness even with grecdiness.

That the Apostle may more move us to holy life, holy manner, and conditions, he setteth before our eyes, the filthy and abominable life of Gentiles that know not Christ, nor his doctrine; and willeth, that we should walk no more after the ways of Gentiles, which walk in vanity of their minds, following their own imaginations, fantasies, and dreams, the lusts and pleasures of their own minds, which be blinded with ignorance of the truth, full of superstitiousness, vain holiness, false trusts, and vain hopes; having corrupt judgments so blinded, that they cannot, or will not see the truth, but continue still in blindness, in ignorance, in superstition, and in all vices used be, fore and condemned by the holy Scriptures of God, and will not adınit the truth to enter their hearts, nor walk in the truth of God's word. They be also far from God, and eternal life with God, from ignorance that is in them, and blindness of heart, by the which they know not God, nor yet will or desire to know him, which is most blindness of all, and a great token that God hath utterly rejected and forsaken them, from the which ignorance, I pray God save us; and froin their ignorance and blindness they come to that point that they will not repent of their sins nor leave them, but continue still in all unhappiness and mischief, giving themselves to all uncleanness, polluting themselves with all filthiness and unsatiable greediness. With such degrees and steps go evil men to all wickedness, impiety and ungraciousness, by the which we may know in what state they are, that know not God, nor his word, nor will follow God's word, but themselves in vanity of mind, igno

« PreviousContinue »