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not to stand in our own conceit, but ever to mistrust ourselves, as St. Paul teacheth, saying, “ Whosoever standeth, let him take heed he fall not.” And therefore inay not put trust in ourselves, but rather in God.:
Further in this saying of our Saviour is comprehended a great comfort. For those, that are ac. counted of the world to be the most vile slaves and abjects, may by this saying have a hope to be made the first and the most principal ; for although they be never so low, yet they may arise again, and become the highest. And so this is to us a comfortable sentence, which strengtheneth our faith, and keepeth us from desperation and falling from God.
And ać the end he saith, “ Many are called and few are chosen." These words of our Saviour are very hard to understand, and therefore it is not good to be too curious in them, as some vain fellows do, who seeking carnal liberty, pervert, toss, and turn the word of God, after their own mind and purpose. Such (I say), when they read these words, inake their reckoning thus, saying: “ What need I to mortify my body with abstaining from all sin and wickedness? I perceive God hath chosen some, and soine are rejected. Now, if I be in the number of the chosen, I cannot be dainned: but if I be accounted among the condemned number, then I cannot be saved, for God's judgments are immutable.” Such foolish and wicked reasons some have, which bring them either to desperation, or else to carnal · liberty. Therefore, it is as needful to beware of such reasons or expositions of the Scriptures, as it is to beware of the devil hiinself,
But if thou art desirous to know whether thou art chosen to everlasting life : thou mayst not begin with God, for God is too high : thou canst not comprehend him. The judgments of God are
unknown to man, therefore thou mayst not begin there. But begin with Christ, and learn to know Christ, and wherefore he came, namely, that he came to save sinners, and made hiinself a subject to the law, and a fulfiller of the same, to deliver us from the wrath and danger thereof, and therefore was crucified for our sins, and rose again, to shew and teach us the way to heaven, and by his résurrection to teach us to arise from sin ; so also his resurrection teacheth and admonisheth us of the ge'neral resurrection. He şiţteth at the right hand of God, and maketh intercession for us, and giveth us the Holy Ghost, that comforteth and strengtheneth our faith, and daily assureth us of our salvation. i,
Consider, I say, Christ and his coming, and then begin to try thyself, whether thou art in the book of lite, or not. If thou findest thyself in Christ, then thou art sure of everlasting life. If thou be without him, then thou art in an evil case. For it is written, " No man coineth; unto the Father, but through ine." Therefore, if thou knowest Christ, then thou' mayst know further of thy election. But when we are about this matter, and are troubled within ourselves, whether we be elect or no, we must ever have this maxiın or principal rule before : our eyes, namely, that God beareth a good will · towards us, God loveth us, God beareth a fatherly heart towards us...
But you will say, How shall I know that, or how shall I believe that? We may know God's will to· wards us, through Christ., God hath opened him
self unto us by his Son Christ. For so saith John, · the Evangelist : “ The Son, which is in the bosom
of the Father, he hath revealed;" therefore, we - ipay perceive his good will and love towards us : hc hath sent the same, his Song into this world, which hath suffered most painful death for us. Shall I now
think that God hateth me? Or shall I doubt of his love towards me? '
Here you see, how you shall avoid the scrupulous and most dangerous question of the predestination of God. For if thou wilt inquire his councils, and enter into his consistory, thy wit will deceive thee, for thou shalt not be able to search the councils of God. But if thou begin with Christ, and consider his coming into the world, and dost believe, that God hath sent him for thy sake, to suffer for thes, and to deliver thee from sin, death, the devil, and hell; then, when thou art so armed with the knowledge of Christ, then, I say, this simple, question cannot hurt thee; for thou art in the book of life, which is Christ himself. “ Also we learn by this last sentence, that “ many
are called;" that the preaching of the gospel is uni- Versal: that it pertaineth to all mankind : that it is written, " Through the whole earth their sound is heard.”. Now, seeing that the gospel is universal, it appeareth that he would have all mankind saved, and that the fault is not in him, if we be damned. For it is written thus, 66 God would have all inen to be saved." His salvation is sufficient to save all mankind, but we are so wicked of ourselves, that we refuse the same, and we will not take it, when it is offered unto us, and therefore he saith, “ Few are chosen,” that is, few have pleasure and delight in
it, for the most part are weary of it, they cannot “abide it. And there are some, that hear it, but they
will abide no danger for it: they love more their · riches and possessions, than the word of God. And therefore, ts few are chosen," there are but a few that stick heartily unto it, and can find in their hearts to forego this world for God's sake and his holy word." There are some now-a-days, that will O bsidik.i's . i
not be reprehended by the gospel, they think themselves better than it.
Some again are so stubborn, that they will rather forswear themselves, than confess their sins and wickedness. Such men are cause of their own damnation, for God would have them saved, but they refuse it, like as did Judas the traitor, wh. Ch. ist would have had to be saved, but he refused his salvation. He refused to follow the doctrine of his master, Christ. And so, whosoever heareth the word of God and followeth it, the same is elect by him. And again, whosoever refuseth to hear the word of God, and to follow the same, is damned. So that our election is sure, if we follow the word of God. Here is now taught you, how to try out your election, namely, in Christ. For Christ is the accounting-book and register of God. Even in the same book, that is, Christ, are written all the names of the elect.
Therefore we cannot find our election in ourselves, neither yet in the high council of God; for; “ Unsearchable are the judgments of the Most High." Where shall I then find my election? In the accounting-book of God, which is Christ : for thus it is written, “ God hath so entirely loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, to that end, that all, that believe in him, should not perish, but have life everlasting.” Whereby appeareth most plainly, that Christ is the book of life, and that all, that be lieve in him, are in the same book, and so are chosen to everlasting life, for only those are ordained, which believe.
Therefore, when thou hast faith in Christ, then thou art in the book of life, and so art thou sure of thy election. And again, if thou be without Christ and have no faith in him, neither art sorry for thy wickedness, nor have a mind or purpose to leave and forsaké sin, but rather exercise and use the same; then thou art not in the book of life, as long as thou art in such a case; and therefore shalt thou go into everlasting fire, namely, if thou die in thy wickedness and sin without repentance.
. But there is none so wicked, but he may have a, remedy: what is that? Enter into thine own heart, and search the secrets of the same. Consider thing own life, and how thou hast spent thy days. And if thou find in thyself all manner of uncleanness and abominable sins, and so seest thy damnation before thine eyes, what shalt thou then do ? Confess the same unto thy Lord God, be sorry that thou hast offended so loving a Father, and ask mercy of him in the name of Christ, and believe stedfastly that he will be merciful unto thee in the respect of his only Son, who suffered death for thee. And then have a good purpose to leave all sin and wickedness, and to withstand and resist the affections of thine own flesh, which ever fight against the spirit, and to live uprightly and godly after the will and commandment of thy heavenly Father. If thou go thus to work, surely thou shalt be heard, thy sins shall be forgiven thee, God will shew himself true in his promise. For to that end he hath sent his only Son into this world, that he might save sinners. Consider therefore, I say, wherefore Christ came into this world ; consider also the great hatred and wrath that God beareth against sin; and again consider his great love, shewed unto thee, in that he sent his only Son to suffer most cruel death, rather than that thou shouldest be damned everlastingly.
Consider, therefore, this great love of God the Father; amend thy life, fly all occasions of sin and ; wickedness, and be loth to displease him. And in
this doing thou mayst be assured that though thou hadst done all the sins of the world, they shall neither