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but shew ourselves more thankful to God, giving him thanks for his benefits, and praise to him, as the author of all goodness ; and know surely, that the truth comes to light, not for our merits or deservings, but of the goodness of God; as after Christ's passion came to the Gentiles, the Gospel and the truth of it by the Apostles.
If men would consider this place well, and deeply weigh it, they should see clearly, of how little effect and strength be reasons made of carnal men, by the which someas yet, cannot think or be persuaded in their hearts, that this is the truth that is now-a-days preached by true and faithful preachers in this realm. They ground their reasons ofttimes of men and of customs, saying, how can it be thought that God would suffer the truth so long to be hid from his people, and suffer men so long to be deceived with falsehood? To this, I answer, and say, the Gentiles might so have said to God, but none said so, but those that would not receive the Gospel, believe it, and be saved. The faithful ask no cause of the will of God, but study to know God's will and to do it.
Also, they say, were there not as holy men in times past as are now, as well learned as are now ; as wise men as now be; why would not God shew to them his truth as now? Of the will of God I will not dispute, I can give no cause of his will, why he will this thing, and why that thing. He willeth all things to the best, to his glory, and to our profit. It is enough for me to know that God willeth this thing, and that he giveth his gifts of his mercy and goodness, and not for the merits of men. The knowledge of the truth, it is the gift of God given at the will of God, and not of inan, and given when it pleaseth God to give it, and when God seeth it most for his glory and for the profit of man.
So, the will is the cause of the truth now shewn to the world, and not the holiness of fathers, the learning or wis. dom of men. And of our part is received, that we should take the truth now shewn, with gladness, giving to God hearty thanks, and living after the truth, as these Ephesians that were faithful did.
Ver. 8–12. Unto me, the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the heathen, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see, what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God. Which made all things through Jesus Christ, to the intent that now unto rulers and powers in heaven might bé known ly the congregation, the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose, which he hath shewn in Christ Jesu our Lord; by whom, we have boldness and entrance in all confidence through faith on him.
The Apostle repeateth the same thing he hath spoken before, but in other words; of the which, he teacheth that one sentence may be spoken of the preacher divers times without a fault, especially if it be such a sentence as is meet to be surely fixed and rooted in the hearts of the hearers, and be for their profit to be known surely.
Learn, here, meekness and lowliness of heart of this Apostle St. Paul ; which so did humble himself, and set himself under others, that he called himself least of all Saints or Apostles ; not worthy to be called an Apostle of Jesus Christ, because he did persecute the church of Christ, as he saith, 1 Cor. XV. But yet he was made the Apostle of Christ, although he, sometime before his conversion, did
persecute Christ's church. Of the which we may learn, what a Lord is God, which of his goodness doth make a faithful preacher and defender of his word, of a persecutor ; a sure pillar of his church, of a pluckerdown of it. Of the which we may learn, the goodness of God towards sinners, and his power ; not to despair of any man, as long as he shall live here in this world. But God may, by his grace, turn him from his sins and naughtiness, and bring him to goodness, and make of an evil man a good man, and the true servant of God; and to condemn the old saying, “ once evil, always evil,” which is an evil saying, and worthy to be condemned and abolished.
The Apostle saith, it was given to him of the grace of God that he should preach the unsearchable riches of Christ amongst the heathen. And these unsearchable riches were the mystery of the Gospel, that St, Paul preached to the Gentiles, by whose preaching, the Gentiles received faith, and were brought to eternal salvation. Behold, what the Apostle calleth the mystery that was hid from the world so long in God; he calleth it, the unsearchable riches of Christ. They are called unsearchable riches, because no man can come to the true knowledge of them of his own might, power, works, merits, or deservings, with, out the grace of God. Or else they are unsearchable, because no man obtaineth them all, but every one that believeth, obtaineth one part or another of the riches of God, that is sufficient for his salvation. For if one mortal man should possess all the riches of God, he would be too proud, he would condemn every other man, and think himself to have need of no man, but every inan to have need of his help, and he of no man, nor yet of God's help, and would make himself equal with Christ, and with God the Father ; which things God would not. Therefore, he giveth to no mortal man all his riches, as he did to Christ Jesus. After this way the riches of God are called unsearchable, for no man can have all God's riches, or see all his glory, yea, no man can perceive
the glory that God hath ordained for them that love him, i Cor. ii.
Here also the Apostle teacheth all preachers to humiliate themselves, and to exalt the word of God, to glorify and magnify it above all things in this world, above all riches, honours, pleasures, profits, or other goods mortal in this world. For there is no riches worldly, worthy to be compared with the word of God; and they are reproved that prefer worldly goods, riches, honours, before God's word; and in this, many be offenders, as appeareth by outward tokens and signs, that give inore diligence, labour, and pain, and more apply themselves to the study of such sciences, that may bring worldly riches and honours, than to the knowledge of God's word; which are tokens, that men more regard worldly riches than God's word.
This place checketh gentlemen, rich men in the world, that put their children to the temporal law, that they may get worldly riches ; rather than to the study of God's word, to get heavenly riches. Their acis do shew how unkind they be to God, of whom they have their worldly riches; and also it pertaineth to genilenen to know God's law, that they might rul a cording to God's will, Jos. i. I will not speak of ih m which openly condemn, and be mockers of Go ''s word, thinking nothing profitable but that that bringeth worldly honours and riches.
The mystery of God that was hid from the world, Yea, and from the powers in heaven, now God hath made it open to all inen, and angels in heaven, which others did not know this mystery ; or if they did know it, they knew it not so perfectly before, as they did after it was preached by the Apostles, called and sent of God to do that message, as by Paul, Peter, and others, which here be called the church, because they were as the chief ministers in the church.
In that he saith, this mystery was opened to the heavenly powers. As to the angels, archangels, and others in heaven by the Apostles of Christ ; I think, the Apostle meaneth, not that the Apostles taught the angels this mystery of the calling of the Gentiles to the faith by the Gospel preached, but rather the contrary, that the angels taught the Apostles, and brought it from God to the Apostles, for the angels be as serving spirits, Heb. i. And so when the Apostles did preach the Gospel, and by their preaching, the Gentiles were converted from their infidelity to the faith of Christ, they did see the conversion of the Gentiles, that they did not see before so clearly, and by what means ; so by the Apostles, this mystery was made open to the heavenly powers. Or else this speaking that the Apostle here useth, is a manner of speaking, by the which he meaneth, that this mystery was shewed and declared openly and plainly to all the world by the Apostles ; to whom God shewed this mystery; when his pleasure was it should be shewn, and this mystery be also calleth the manifold wisdom of God, which God hath determined to be shewn by Christ Jesus, hy whom he made all things, and restored to their perfectness ; when it was the will of the Father, they should be made perfect, and restored to their perfectness.
He sheweth also, that by Christ we have boldness, and sure trust with all confidence to come to the Father, and to be partakers of his kingdom and glory; and that not by Peter, Paul, John, James, or by our works, deeds, or merits, but only by Christ Jesus, and for his sake alone.
Ver. 13. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not, because of my tribulations, that I suffer for you, which is your praise.