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God's pleasure. Before, they followed the prince of the air, and were obedient to his will (this prince of the air is that evil spirit, that worketh in sturdy, froward, and disobedient persons to God's will, and that do not believe God); but now, they walk after the will of God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of heaven and earth, whose Spirit bringeth and leadeth to all good works of God.
Who is he that knoweth he is called from sin, death, hell, and eternal damnation, to justice, life, heaven, and eternal joy, and bliss, and will not give thanks, laud, and praise to Him that brought him to this joy and felicity? Truly, I think no man, but would give great thanks when he remembereth the benefits of his calling ; and for that cause, St. Paul here compareth these two states together, that every one of us may remember in what case we were, before Christ called us to his knowledge by his word. For, as these Ephesians were, so were we; and the same thing he writeth to them, he writeth to us; it agreeth as well to us, as to them, and is all one thing, as touching our state.
This place sheweth, that all men that come of Adam, be subject to sin, and for sin, are worthy of eternal death ; none being able to deliver themselves from death and damnation. Of the which we may learn, that no man by his own nature, might, power, or free-will, can save himself from death and hell; but whosoever be saved, that they be saved by the only grace of God, and not by their own merits, or by the merits of saints departed.
You see what followeth sin ; death and punishment follow sin, as the reward for sin ; and that those that want the grace of God, cannot but fall into sin, and go from one sin to another, and walk after the lusts of the flesh, and apply themselves to the will of the devil, which worketh in evil men, and
man's judgment, or by the might of man's nature; for how could there be any hope of life of them, which were by nature the children of the wrath of God, and condemned to death? But then God, which is by nature good, gentle, merciful, and rich in mercy; of his great charity and love toward us, hath restored us, dead by sin, to life again by Jesus Christ ; and that not of our good works, but freely and for Christ's sake only, by whom is our life. The goodness of God in this point, is more to be noted toward us: that he hath loved us when we were his enemies, evil and wicked sinners, that then he would not suffer us to perish in our sins, but hath delivered us from death to life, to be heirs of his kingdom.
And that he would make us sure of perpetual health and life, he saith, that God hath quickened us and raised us again with Christ, and made us to sit among the heavenly company with Christ, and that by the only mercy and grace of God, by the which we are saved. Here the Apostle speaketh in the time past, for the time to come, for the certainty of the things to come by Christ; and lest any should be wavering in hope, or doubtful of the promises of God to be fulfilled, as man's promises. God willeth that men should be as sure of his promises by faith and hope of them, as if they were received indeed, which hope is never deceived.
The raising up of Christ from death to life, maketh us sure that we shall arise from death to life; yea, we which are in these. last times ; in the which thing is shewed, the rich grace of God, and his mighty power to all the world and for all times.
Ver. '8--10. For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boasi himself.. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesu; unto good works, to the which God ordained us before, that we should walk in them.
Here we may learn of Paul; ofttimes, if need be, to repeat one thing which we would have surely known, and printed in men's hearts, specially this thing, that our salvation cometh not of ourselves, of our works, or merits of man, but only of the grace of God through faith. In the which words St. Paul reproveth all them, that think our justification doth come by other things, than by the grace of God and by Christ : as by prayers, beads hallowed at Sion, by masses of scala cæli, by rosaries of our Lady, by St. Francis' girdle, coat, cowl, or habit, hose, shoes, or boots, girdles, purse, or knife, mattins, masses, or even-song, or any other such-like, without the grace of God, and without faith, of the which cometh life everlasting
To faith in the Scripture, is attributed our justification, not because faith is the author of our justification ; for the author of our justification is Christ ; but justification is attributed to faith, because faith receiveth the mercy of God, and believeth the promises of God made to just men and believers, to be fulfilled. So faith is the organ, and the mean by the which we perceive our justification to come of the only mercy of God, and it maketh us to believe the Scriptures, that shew, that we are justified by grace through faith, without all works. Good works go not before faith, but they follow faith and our justification by faithi, make us certain that we be justified, as shall be (God willing) more plainly hereafter declared.
Albeit, that we be justified by faith, and know we have our sins forgiven of God's goodness through faith, yet we have no cause, why we should glory in ourselves. For faith is not of us, but it is the gift of God, and not the work of our power, as saith St.
Paul (2 Cor. i.): “We are not able of ourselves to think any good thought, as of ourselves : but all our ability is of the Lord.” Also, St. Paul (Rom. xi.) saith, “If by grace we be saved, now it is not of works, for grace is then no grace: but if it be of works, now it is no grace."
Not of works, lest any man should boast himself, Our health and justice is not of any works. For if it were of works, then might men boast themselves in their works; but man hath not wherein he inay boast himself. “ For what hast thou, O man, that v thou hast not received, and if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as though thou hadst not received it? Therefore, he that will glory, let him glory in God;” of whom cometh redemption, justification, health, salvation, and life everlasting in bliss.
But, some peradventure will say ; If our works do not justify us, we will do no good works; or what should it profit us to do good works, if by works we be not justified ? To this St. Paul here maketh
answer, saying, that we are the creatures of God, : made to do good works, which God hath prepared
that we should walk in them. So, we may not
cease from doing of good works, although good c. works do not justify us. For good works are to be : done to the glory of God, and without blasphemy of
God. It is blasphemy to God to attribute to works, what is to be attributed and given only to God. Only to God is to be ascribed our justification, our salvation, forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting. Wherefore, good works are not to be done for this
intent, that they should justify us, deserve the grace s of God, take away sins, and bring life everlasting
by reason of the work in itself. But good work's are to be done of us Christian men, to shew and declare our faith to us and to all the world ; to declare our love, and kindness of our heart towards
God, for the benefits given to us ; to make our calling certain and sure, so that we might do the will of God, and avoid his displeasure, both in this world and also in the world to come (2 Pet. i.) ; that we might shew our readiness to do the will of God; that we might provoke other men to glorify God with ' Us (Mat. v.); that we might agree to our creation, - and profit other men in goods and gifts, given us of God for that end ; and that we should be always to the glory of God without fault before him by love (Eph. i.). For these causes and divers others, good works are to be done.
Some, peradventure, will say ; If good works do not justify us, take not away sin, and give everlasting life ; wherefore, in the Scriptures are justification, forgiveness of sin, and life eternal, attributed to good works so often? To this I. answer, that Scripture ofttimes spcaketh after the manner of men. The father ofttimes enticeth his son to do his will, by promise of a reward. So the Scripture speaketh after the manner of fathers or of men, where it promiseth justification, forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting to them that keep the commandments of God, and that be faithful: as Christ saith (Mat. xviii.), “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments of God.” Here the Scripture speaketh after the manner of men, enticing every man to keep God's commandments, promising them a reward, if they keep God's commandments. He meaneth not here, that the keeping of the commandments deserveth life everlasting : but rather that life everlasting is freely given to them that keep the commandments of God; and they may be sure of life in joy and bliss to come, that keep the commandments. And they that keep not God's commandinents, may be sure they shall have no life in the world to come, but shall be damned perpetually in hell.