« PreviousContinue »
and provoke all others to glorify God and worship him in spirit and truth, as it is our office and duty to do.
Even we that before believed, after that we heard the word of truth, the Gospel of health. As who should say, we that believed in Christ before the word was preached to the Gentiles, our office is not only to glorify God in ourselves, but to bring all others to glorify God with us, as much as shall lie in our power. This place reproveth them that dissuade men from the word of God, from learving of it, from reading of it, from sermons, by the which means God hath ordained men to be brought to glorify God in spirit and in merit, as he would be glorified of all men.
Also he saith, ye believed after that ye heard the word of truth. In these words he sheweth how faith cometh, that is to say, by hearing of the word of truth, according to St. Paul's saying (Rom. x.), “faith is of hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Also, he sheweth here what is the word of truth : it is the Gospel of health, and so it is called : because, it bringeth everlasting health to all them that faithfully believe, shewing their faith in good works.
In whom, when ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Here is shewed, what fruit doth come of hearing of the word of truth, that by it is gotten faith, without the which, no man can please God; and having it, all things please God ; and those that believe, receive the spirit of God, as an earnest to put them in surety, that they shall receive and have all things that be promised them to have by God's word, that is to say, that they shall have life everlasting, and the inheritance of heaven and for a surety of that promise, the believers receive the Holy Ghost, as an obligation for the performance of that promise ; by the which they be made as sure to have the promise of God, as if they had received it already
This place maketh against them that say, no man can kuow whether he is in the favour of God or no; or whether he be worthy of hatred or love of God, alleging for him the saying of Ecclesiastes, ix. To whom this answer I make, that men cannot know of themselves, whether they be in the favour of God or no; but that they may know by the Holy Spirit, whom they have thắt believe faithfully. If a man may know whether he hath faith or no, he may know whether he be in the favour of God or no. If he have true faith, God favoureth him; if he lack faith, God favoureth him not. So a man may know by faith the spirit of God, to be given to glorify us, of God's favour and love towards us, and that God favoureth us, as long as we shall have faith, and the spirit of God, which faithful believers have and possess. So, a man may know whether he is now at this present time in the favour of God or no, hated or beloved; but what he shall be to-morrow, the next day, or in time to come, no man can tell. Therefore, he that standeth in the favour of God by faith, by the Holy Ghost, let him look that he' fall not froin God by unfaithfulness, and incredulity, and by unkindness, contemning of God's word, and disobedience to God's commandinents, and so fail from the favour of God, lose faith, and the Holy Spirit of God, and lose life eternal.
As for the words of Ecclesiastes, ix, where it is written, “ that no man can know whether he is worthy of hatred or love;" the words are to be understood thus : that of good or evil, that chance to men in this world, no man can know whether he is worthy of hatred or love ; for good and evil, prosperity and adversity chance equal to good men and evil men, and oft-times it chanceth, that evil men have. more prosperity than good men';. evil men have
riches, wealth, and pleasure, good men have poverty, need, pain, and punishinent. Wherefore, of prosperity or adversity in this world, is no man to be esteemed more or less in the favour of God, seeing these things chance equally to the good and the evil in this world. I would that every man should not only think himself, that he is in the favour of God, but also know it surely that God favoureth him: except he thiuk so, how can he favour God for love, if he doubt whether God love him or no, or in this thing be wavering, and think sometimes God loveth him, sometimes he loveth him not. The spirit of God is given us, to put us in a surety, that God favoureth us; and if we lack this spirit, we be not of Christ. “ We have also received the spirit of adoption : by whom we call, Father, Father ; and this spirit sheweth to our spirit, that we are the children of God." (Rom. viii.) Therefore, I would that every man should certainly think, and persuade with himself, that he is in the favour of God, and that God will give him everlasting life, joy, and bliss, in the world to come ; which they that believe now, hare by faith, and in the world to come, shall possess indeed. Then I suppose, they would continue in faith, and shew their faith by all good works commanded in the Scripture.
Some also here will ask, how shall we know whether we have faith and the spirit of God, or no. This thing may be known by the fruits, and by the works, and motions, that they shall perceive in their hearts. If they perceive that they be glad to hear God's word, to read it, to study it, be glad it goeth forward for God's glory only, do believe it to be true, and that God will perforin-and bring to pass all things proinised or threatened in his word, that he will reward good men, and punish evil men in the world to come, if they shall perceive a readiness, a towardness to be obedient to do God's commandments, yea, to do it indeed for God only, to the uttermost of their power; if these things they perceive in themselves, they be sure signs that they be in the favour of God, have faith and the spirit of God, and shall have life everlasting. On the contrary part, if you perceive in yourself no desire, lust, or will to hear the word of God, to read it, to study it, yea, think it is but foolishness, a vain thing, an unprofitable thing, or that you care nothing for it, or that you hate it, and envy it, and the professors of it, persecute them as authors of devils' doctrine, you feel yourself nothing ready to obey the commandments of God, but ready to all pleasure of the flesh and of the world, to do sin and naughtiness; these be sure tokens, that you be out of the favour of God, lack faith and the spirit of God, and be in the high displeasure with God. Of these things, and tokens shewed, you shall know whether you be in the favour of God, more sure than by the sight of the holy blood of Hales, or by the going through Saint Wilfred's needle ; and also, if you be out of God's favour, you lack faith and the spirit of God, that moveth and stirreth men alway to all good works, for God only, alone regarding his will and pleasure.
That we might be his own to the praise of his glory. For what end God hath chosen us, and made the word of God to be preached to us. Surely for this end, that we should have faith, receive the Holy Spirit, and be made sure of God's favour towards us, and that he loveth us, and that we should glorify him again, by faith, by love to him and to our neighbour, to do the works of God, commanded us to do in the holy Scripture in our vocation and calling, and that only for God, and have no respect to ourself. Thus we may here know, what fruit
cometh of the word of God preached, that is to say, through the Holy Spirit is given, certainty of God's favour, knowledge of God's will, and of our office and duty both to God, and also to our neighbour, and life everlasting.
Ver. 15-18. Wherefore, also, insomuch as I have heard of the faith which ye have in the Lord Jesu, and of your love unto the saints, I cease not to give thanks for you, and make mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom, and open unto you the knowledge of himself, and lighten the eyes of your understanding, that ye may know what is the hope of your calling, and what the riches of his glorious inheritance is upon the saints.
St. Paul here sheweth the office of one Christian man toward another, that it is to give thanks to God for faith, hope, charity, and other gifts spiritual, given to others of God. And in this he teacheth Christian men what they should do, when they hear that the word of God is purely and truly preached, without all dregs of man's inventions, dreams, or fantasies; and that others receive faith, and exercise the works of charity to the poor people, that they should give laud, praise, and thanks to the Lord for it; to desire of God, that they may continue in the truth, and go forward in it, and increase every day more and more in all godly knowledge and spiritual wisdom, that they may know what is the hope, that is to say, the thing that they hoped for, which is the heavenly inheritance which they hope and look for, to the which God hath called them, these be the duties of Christian men one to another, to wish and desire of God, and not to be sorry that so much spiritual knowledge of God be shewed to the rude and ignorant people, as is now shewed in our time.