« PreviousContinue »
benefits of God, not to forget them, to laud and thank God for them. This place checketh those that forget God and his benefits, or think they have of themselves, of their labours, pains, and merits, these goods they have ; or think they have some things of God, and other part of saints of all images, and so divide God's glory, part to God, and part to an image of wood or of stone, made by man's hand. As some ignorant persons have in times past, thanked God for their health, and the blessed Lady of Wal. singham, of Ipswich, St. Edmund of Bury, Etheldred of Ely, the Lady of Red-bone, the holy blood of Hayles, the holy Rood of Begles of Chester, and 60 of other images in this realm, to the which hath been much pilgrimage, and much idolatry, supposing the dead images could have healed them, or have done something for them to God, for the which, the ignorant have crouched, kneeled, kissed, bobbed, and licked the images, giving them coats of clothof-gold, of silver, and of tissue, velvet, damask, and satin ; and suffered the lively member of Christ to be without a russet-coat, or a sack-cloth to keep him warm from the cold, lest for cold he should perish; so, we have clothed stocks and stones, and suffered Christ to perish for cold and die without the house; and builded goodly houses for an old idol, a stock, or a stone, carved, and painted for lucre sake.
Secondly, we may learn, that we have received not one spiritual blessing, but all spiritual blessings ; as our creation, redemption, justification, forgiveness of sin, and life everlasting, of no other but of Christ Jesus, and by no other means but for Christ's sake, through faith, that we should give all praise and thanks only to God, and offer up ourselves thankful sacrifices, ready to obey God's will above all things, ready to suffer with patience all injuries, wrongs, and afflictions for God and his word. And this is the truc sacrifice of Christians, daily and hourly to be offered up to God for his benefits, of all Christians.
Thirdly, as he hath chosen us before the foundation of the world was laid, so he hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings before the foundation of the world was laid. And as this election of God was only of the mere grace, will, and pleasure of God, so were all his blessings toward us intended of his only goodness, and not of our merits or deservings : what thing could we deserve, before we were born, that provoked God to love us, or was the cause why that God loved us ? Nothing.
Fourthly. That we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Now he sheweth the cause why God elected us in him, before the beginning of the world; that we should be holy, and without fault or blame before him in love. Methinketh the Apostle doth speak these words, to stop the ungodly mouths of carnal men, which say ; "If we be elected and chosen of God to immortal glory, what maketh matter what we do? Do what we will, wa shall at the last, come to that glory and bliss. If we be not chosen and predestinated to be saved, what skilleth of our works? They shall not profit us to obtain life everlasting in joy. If we do all the commandments, that God hath commanded to be done, at the end we shall be rejected and damned, if we be not predestinated of God to be saved by Christ Jesus through faith.” That no man should speak sa ungodly, or reason with himself on this manner, and condemn good works, despise to live holily, and care not how he live, whether he keep God's commandments or no, St. Paul saith, that God hath elected and chosen us to be holy before him in love, that is to say, whosoever will be holy, and give themselves ta serve God, to keep his commandments, to live a life
pure and clean from all vice and sin, to believe in God, to trust Christ only to be his Saviour, Redeemer, Justifier, Deliverer from sin, death, hell, and eternal damnation, and give himself to love God above all things in this world, preferring God's glory above all earthly things, and to deserve good to every man, studying alway to scek the glory of God and the profit of other men, according to the will and pleasure of God, for whose sake only, good works that God commandeth in Scripture are to be done ; which works they do, that be chosen and elected of God to eternal salvation. Who be elected of God to salvation, who be not, we cannot tell ; but by the putward works that they do.
Signs of God's predestination are these. First, God of his goodness clecteth, and chooseth whom he will, only of his mere mercy and goodness, without all the deservings of man : whom he hath elected, he calleth them for the most part by preaching of the Gospel, and by the hearing of the word of God, to faith in Christ Jesus: and through faith he justifieth them, forgiveth sins, and maketh them obedient to hear his word with gladness, to do that thing that God's word commandeth them to do in their state and calling. Wherefore, to hear the word of God with gladness, to believe it, to know that it is the mean by the which God hath ordained, to bring to salvation them that believe, to order their lives according to the commandment of the word of God, to do all good works commanded in the Scriptures to the uttermost of their power, these be the signs of salvation. Of the contrary part, whosoever be not glad to hear the word of God, but despise it, condemn it, regard it no more than Æsop's fables; or think the word of God to be foolishness, a vain thing, of no profit nor pleasure, a thing to be hated and set at nought; and so give no credence to it, care not for it, care not to keep God's commandments, but are all set to seek the pleasures and the glory of this world : whosoever is so affected, it is a token that they be not the children of salvation, but of perdition and eternal damnation : of these works that follow, we may have a conjecture, who be ordained of God to be saved, and who to be dainned.
Ver. 5-10. And ordinated us before to receive us as children through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will, unto the promise of the glory of his grace, whereby he hath made us accepted in the Beloved, in whom we have redemption through his blood, forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his
grace, which he hath shewed upon us abundantly in all wisdom and prudence, and hath opened unto us the mystery of his will, according to his pleasure, which he had purposed in himself ; that it should le preached, when the time was full come, that all things should be gathered together by Christ, both the things which are in heaten, and also the things that are upon earth, ly him.
St. Paul repeateth here with many plain words, the things he had spoken before, that is to say, that we were elected of God in him, to be saved before the beginning of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before God hy love ; the same thing is repeated again in other words : which thing the Apostle doth, because he would have this thing surely known and rooted in every man's heart and mind: of the which, preachers may learn to repeat one sentence once, or twice, which they would have known most chiefly, and most surely printed in the heart.
God hath ordained us, that we should be his children by adoption, and that not of our deserving or merits, but only by his mercy and grace, and by the merits of Christ's passion, that all the praise and thanks should be given only to God for it, and no
thing to ourselves : he hath made us his children by adoption, that we should shew our Father in all holiness of life, that we should follow his footsteps in our life.
According to the pleasure of his will; these he addeth, lest any should say that we be made the children of God by adoption, for our merits, or for the merits of our Lady, Peter, or Paul, or of some other man, and not only for the pleasure of God, of whom we have all things that be good ; and his will only alone is the cause of them, and no other cause is to be asked why God hath elected and chosen us to be his children by adoption, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven, but only his will, mercy, and pleasure, that all praise and thanks might alone be given to him and to none other creaturc; work, deed, nor man.
Unto the praise of the glory of his grace; here he declareth for what end he hath elected us to be his children by adoption ; that he might be praised, glorified of all men, which hath macle lis sinners, his well-beloved children, and that by Jesus Christ alone, which hath pacified the ire of the Father, and reconciled us to his favour, to whom we be made well beloved through the death of Christ.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, forgiveness of sins. Two things are here declared : one is, that by Christ we are redeemned from the malediction of the law; from sin, death, hell, eternal damnation, and from all captivity and thraldom of the devil; and by Christ be restored to the liberty of the Spirit of God. The other is, that we have forgiveness of our sins only by Christ's blood, shed for us opon the cross.
Mark, the remission of sins is given to us by the blood of Christ ; and not by the pope's parlons, masses, and scala cæli; by pilgrimages to Paul, Peter, VOL, II.