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Furthermore, whereas the Scriptures do appear to give to works forgiveness of sins; the Scriptures speak of such works that be done in faith, which have always annexed forgiveness of sins ; not for the works sake, but rather for the faith that they were done in, because they that work these works, were justified before God through faith before they did work. Finally, sometimes in the Scripture, justification is attributed to works, because works declare men to themselves and to others, that they have a true and lively faith, by the which they be justified before God. And so justification of works is the declaration of a true faith, and so is justification taken sometimes in the Scripture, as in James, ii. and Luke, xvi. where Christ saith to the Pharisees, “You are they which justify yourselves before men, God knoweth your hearts.”
We, the creatures of God, ordinated to do good works. Here in these words two things we be taught. · The first is, that we be the creatures of God and his workmanship, made of him. Of the which we may fully persuade to us the love of God, for no man hateth his own work, but loveth it, and will not suffer it to perish ; and if we be the work of God (as we are indeed), we may not be proud against our Maker, or be displeased with him, saying, Why hast thou made me after this fashion or that fashion? It is not meet that the pot should say to the potter, Why hast thou made me to this use or that filthy use, and another that deserveth no better than I, to be had in
bonour and glory? Of this thing there is none other . cause to be given, but the will of the potter ; and it z: is convenient that every pot should be content with
the will of the potter, and not that he should murmur against the potter that hath preferred another before him, since the potter is in neither's debt, and both
pots have that that they have, only of the will of the potter.
The second thing is, that we should learn to know for what end we were created of God, that is to say, not that we should be idle, or live evil, and follow the pleasures of our flesh or of the world ; but that we be created to do good works, and such works, not as we think good to us, but such as God hath ordinated that we should walk in them. And here he exhorteth men to good works, lest any should think faith sufficient, and condemn good works; good works, I mean, such as God hath appointed us to do by his holy word, and not such works as men leaving God's word, have appointed to serve and · please God withal. And here in this place may. fall away pilgrimages, offerings of candles, gilding of images, and religions of men, which are works not instituted of God, but of man, and invented of man without God's word; for the which voluntary works, many have contemned, and left undone the works commanded of God, and preferred will-works above them.
He moveth us here not to stand still when we have done one good work, but to go forward from one good work to another, appointed of God, and not of ourselves, of our good intent, thought of us to honour, and please God withal ; when we cannot tell, whether God will be honoured after that way, which we have imagined to honour him. For his honour doth not consist in works found out by men, but in the works appointed in the Scripture. For if all our new-found works were taken away, no part of the works assigned by God in the Scriptures, should be taken away. I mean, if all pilgrimnages to painted stucks or stones, all gilding of images, all offering up of candles, all monks and friars, all masses of scala cæli, all trental masses were taken away, no part of the works commanded by God, should be taken away, no part of God's glory should be diminished, but rather promoted and set forward. For these works, found by man, have hindered much the true honour of God, that God hath not been truly honoured, as he should be in spirit and in truth. These will-works have letted many to do their charity, where they should have done to the poor people (bought by the precious blood of Christ) which have had need of the help of man.
Also, in that St. Paul exhorteth men, only to do the works that God hath commanded in the Scriptures, and willeth, that we shall walk in them, and go
forward in them, and increase more and more, methink in these words he teacheth works, commanded of God, to be sufficient to obtain life everlasting, if none of our new-found holy-days, or our will. works, invented of our good zeal only without God's word, be put to the works of God. We add to the works of God many works of man's invention, as who should say, God's works were not perfect, except man should put these to something to make them perfect : as if God could not give us health and life everlasting, except that we of our blind zeal should put thereto, something of our addition. I do not speak here against any godly civil ordinance, or any godly ceremony, yet used, or that inay be used in time to coine, that be made to set forth God's glory; or for any decent or comely order to be had amongst men in the world; or for any politic end, to be used amongst Christian men, as charity requireth the glory of God to be better promoted, and his word more regarded and set by, and the charity of Christians more increased, to the commodity of all good men.
Ver. 11-12. Wherefore, remember that ye (which aforetime were Gentiles after the flesh, and were called
uncircumcision, of them that are called circumcision after the flesh; which circumcision is made with hand); that ye at the same time were without Christ, and reputed aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and were strangers from the testament of promise ; therefore had ye no hope, and were without God in this world.
To this place St. Paul hath spoken generally of the grace given to all men : now, beginneth he to speak of the grace of God, given more specially to the Gentiles; when it pleased God only of his goadness, and not of the merits of the Gentiles, to call them to grace and to faith which justifieth them. And here the Apostle teacheth all preachers, after that they have shewed the general grace of God, given freely to all men, to apply the grace or the benefits of God more specially to particular men ; as to them, to whom it is spoken, to bring them to the remembrance of the benefits of God towards them; to give God thanks for them, by the knowledge of whom, came all goodness, after the example of St. Paul here in this place, which applieth the grace
of God given to the Gentiles, to these Ephesians.
He moveth these Ephesians to call to their remembrance, the state of living they were in before the grace of God, and the state they be in now, after the grace of God given them ; which thing, if they do, they will with gladness give hearty thanks to God, and glorify him for his goodness, and shew themselves thankful to God by all readiness to obey, and do God's commandiments.
He sheweth what they were before the Gospel was preached to them, and before they had received faith in Jesus Christ. First, he saith, that they had an odious name, hated of all good men, that is to say, they were called, Preputians, which vas amongst the Jews, as opprobrious a name, as is amongst us Christian men, a Turk, or a Saracen, or unchristened. And the Jews eschewed the company of the Preputians, and would neither eat, drink, nor speak with the Preputians, and abhorred their company, as we do the other people or Pagans : and he that would use the company of the Preputians, was abhorred of the Jews; as they were angry with Peter, that had preached at the commandment of God to the Gentiles (Acts, i. i.): but now, you have an holy name, landed and magnified of all good men, and also of God, the Father.
Also, before you were without Christ ; that is, not that Christ was not your Saviour and Redeemer promised, but that you knew not Christ to be your Saviour and Redeemer promised as well to the Gentiles as to the Jews; as appeareth in the promise made to Abraham, that in his seed should all the Gentiles be blessed; and that Christ was theexpectation of the Gentiles, but this mystery was hid from the world unto Christ's incarnation, that Christ should be a Saviour to all men, both to the Jews and to the Gentiles. This mystery was known to some, both of the Jews and Gentiles. But they were very few in comparison to them that were ignorant; or else it may be said, that the Jews and the Gentiles that were faithful, and believed in Christ, to come as the only Saviour of the world (by which faith, they were saved); that they knew not when Christ should come, after what manner, how, and by what means he should redeem and save the world from everlasting death; so the Gentiles were counted without Christ, because, that amoigst the Gentiles, the knowledge of Christ was not so common before Christ's incarnation as it was after; when the Gospel was preached equally to the Gentiles as to the Jews.
Also, the Gentiles were counted aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; that is to say, they were as foreigners, having no claim nor title to any profit or