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Author: Bell, Lilian, -1929
Title: Basil to Calvin
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The World's Great Sermons, Volume I,
Edited by Grenville Kleiser

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Title: The World's Great Sermons, Volume I
       Basil to Calvin

Author: Various
        Edited by Grenville Kleiser

Release Date: April 10, 2004 [EBook #11981]

Language: English

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_The World's Great Sermons_

VOLUME I

BASIL TO CALVIN




_By Grenville Kleiser_

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FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY NEW YORK AND LONDON




THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS


Compiled By


GRENVILLE KLEISER


Formerly of Yale Divinity School Faculty;
Author of "How to Speak in Public," Etc.


With Assistance from Many of the Foremost Living Preachers and Other
Theologians


INTRODUCTION BY LEWIS O. BRASTOW, D.D.
Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology in Yale University



IN TEN VOLUMES


VOLUME. I--BASIL TO CALVIN




Copyright, 1908, By Funk & Wagnalls Company

_Printed in the United States of America_




PREFACE


The aim in preparing this work has been to bring together the best
examples of the products of the pulpit through the Christian centuries,
and to present these masterpieces in attractive and convenient form. It
is believed that they will be found valuable as instruction to ministers
of to-day. They should also be helpful to others who, tho not preachers,
yet seek reading of this kind for the upbuilding of personal character
and for strengthening their Christian faith.

The sermons have been chosen in some cases for their literary and
rhetorical excellences, but in every case for their helpfulness in
solving some of the problems of Christian living. No two persons are
likely to agree upon "the best" of anything, and readers will probably
wish in particular instances that some other clergymen or sermons had
been included. It is confidently believed, however, that the list here
given is fairly representative of the preaching that characterized the
age to which each sermon respectively belongs.

While some of the sermons of the early centuries may not seem exactly
fitted to modern needs, it is thought that those presented will repay
careful perusal, since they each contain a distinct message for later
generations. Moreover, a comparison extending over the whole field of
sermonic literature, such as the preacher may make with this collection
before him, should prove most valuable as showing what progress and
changes have come over homiletic matter and methods. Such a comparison
should in fact throw much light on the spirit and conditions of various
homiletic periods.

In choosing sermons by living preachers considerable difficulty has been
found, not only in deciding upon sermons, but upon preachers. The list
might have been extended indefinitely. Whenever possible the preacher,
when living, has himself been consulted as to what he considered his
most representative sermon.

Thanks are due, and are hereby acknowledged, to numerous clergymen,
publishers, librarians, and others who have generously assisted the
compiler in this undertaking. Most grateful acknowledgment is also made
to the Rev. Epiphanius Wilson and the Rev. W.C. Stiles for valuable
editorial assistance.

GRENVILLE KLEISER.

_New York City, October, 1908._




INTRODUCTION


Collections of sermons by noted preachers of different periods are not
an altogether uncommon contribution to literature. Italy, Germany,
Holland, France, Great Britain and the United States have in this way
furnished copious illustrations of the gifts of their illustrious
preachers. Such treasures are found in the Latin and even in the Greek
Church. Protestant communions especially, in line with the supreme
significance which they attach to the work of the pulpit, have thus
sought to magnify the calling and to perpetuate the memory and the
influence of their distinguished sons. Still more comprehensive attempts
have been made to collate the products of representative preachers in
different Protestant communions, and thus to bring into prominence
various types of sermonic literature. It is in this way that the
Christian world has come to know its pulpit princes and to value their
achievements.

The collection contained in the volumes before us is, however, more
varied and comprehensive, reaching as it does from the fourth to the
twentieth century, than any collection known to the writer. In the
selection Professor Kleiser has brought to his task a personal knowledge
of homiletic literature that is the product of much observation and
study during many years, and an enthusiasm for his work that has been
fostered by close intercourse in professional service with preachers and
theological students. He has had the assistance also of men whose
acquaintance with homiletic literature is very extensive, whose critical
judgments are sound and reliable and who may be regarded as experts in
this branch of knowledge. These volumes, therefore, may be accepted as a
judiciously selected collection of sermons by many of the most notable
preachers of the ancient and modern Christian world. Their value as
illustrating varieties of gift, diversities of method, racial, national
and ecclesiastical peculiarities, and above all progress in the science
and art of preaching, may well be recognized even by a generation that
is likely to regard anything that is more than twenty-four hours old as
obsolete.

LEWIS O. BRASTOW.

_Yale University, New Haven, Conn., October, 1908._




CONTENTS


VOLUME I


PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

BASIL (329-379).
     The Creation of the World

CHRYSOSTOM (347-407).
     Excessive Grief at the Death of Friends

AUGUSTINE (354-430).
     The Recovery of Sight by the Blind

WYCLIF (1324-1384).
     Christ's Real Body Not in the Eucharist

SAVONAROLA (1452-1498).
     The Ascension of Christ

LUTHER (1483-1546).
     The Method and Fruits of Justification

LATIMER (1485-1555).
     On Christian Love

MELANCHTHON (1497-1560).
     The Safety of the Virtuous

KNOX (1505-1572).
     The First Temptation of Christ

CALVIN (1509-1564).
     Enduring Persecution for Christ




BASIL

THE CREATION OF THE WORLD


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Basil, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and styled "The Great," was the
founder of Eastern monasticism, defender of the Nicene doctrines and
doctor of the Church. He was born at Caesarea in 329, and was thoroughly
educated in all that a teacher like Libanius could impart at Rome, and
Himerius at Constantinople. Returning home, he plunged into the
pleasures of social life, but was induced by his sister to visit the
hermits of Syria, Palestine and Egypt. Attracted during his travels to
the religious life, he secluded himself in a lonely spot in inclement
Pontus.

During his monastic life of seven years (357-364) he formulated the
monastic rule still observed by Eastern monks. Ordained presbyter in
364, he labored in founding religious institutions of various kinds. He
attracted notice by his growing Nicene predilections, and was elected
bishop of his native town (370) and virtual primate of Asia Minor. His
conduct in dealing with the Arians was uncompromising yet conciliating.
As a theologian he stands next to his brother Gregory and to Athanasius,
but he excels them both in the literary charm and variety of his Greek
style. He died in 379.



BASIL
329-379

THE CREATION OF THE WORLD

_The earth was without form and void._--Gen. i, 2.


In the few words which have occupied us this morning we have found such
a depth of thought that we despair of penetrating farther. If such is
the forecourt of the sanctuary, if the portico of the temple is so grand
and magnificent, if the splendor of its beauty thus dazzles the eyes of
the soul, what will be the holy of holies? Who will dare to try to gain
access to the innermost shrine? Who will look into its secrets? To gaze
into it is indeed forbidden us, and language is powerless to express
what the mind conceives.

However, since there are rewards, and most desirable ones, reserved by
the just Judge for the intention alone of doing good, do not let us
hesitate to continue our researches. Altho we may not attain to the
truth, if, with the help of the Spirit, we do not fall away from the
meaning of Holy Scripture, we shall not deserve to be rejected, and with
the help of grace, we shall contribute to the edification of the Church
of God.

"The earth," says Holy Scripture, "was without form and void"--_i.e._,
invisible and unfinished. The heavens and the earth were created
together. How, then, is it that the heavens are perfect whilst the earth
is still unformed and incomplete? In one word, what was the unfinished
condition of the earth and for what reason was it invisible? The
fertility of the earth is its perfect finishing; growth of all kinds of
plants, the up-springing of tall trees, both productive and unfruitful,
flowers' sweet scents and fair colors, and all that which, a little
later, at the voice of God came forth from the earth to beautify her,
their universal mother.

As nothing of all this yet existed, Scripture is right in calling the
earth "without form." We could also say of the heavens that they were
still imperfect and had not received their natural adornment, since at
that time they did not shine with the glory of the sun and of the moon,
and were not crowned by the choirs of the stars. These bodies were not
yet created. Thus you will not diverge from the truth in saying that the
heavens also were "without form." The earth was invisible for two
reasons: it may be because man, the spectator, did not yet exist, or
because, being submerged under the waters which overflowed the surface,
it could not be seen, since the waters had not yet been gathered
together into their own places, where God afterward collected them and
gave them the name of sea.

What is invisible? First of all, that which our fleshly eye can not
perceive--our mind, for example; then that which, visible in its nature,
is hidden by some body which conceals it, like iron in the depths of the
earth. It is in this sense that the earth, in that it was hidden under
the waters, was still invisible. However, as light did not yet exist,
and as the earth lay in darkness because of the obscurity of the air
above it, it should not astonish us that for this reason Scripture calls
it "invisible."

But the corrupters of the truth, who, incapable of submitting their
reason to Holy Scripture, distort at will the meaning of the Holy
Scriptures, pretend that these words mean matter. For it is matter, they
say, which from its nature is without form and invisible--being by the
conditions of its existence without quality and without form and figure.
The Artificer submitting it to the working of His wisdom clothed it with
a form, organized it, and thus gave being to the visible world.

If the matter is uncreated, it has a claim to the same honors as God,
since it must be of equal rank with Him. Is this not the summit of
wickedness that utter chaos, without quality, without form or shape,
ugliness without configuration, to use their own expression, should
enjoy the same prerogatives as He who is wisdom, power, and beauty
itself, the Creator and the Demiurge of the universe enjoys? This is
not all. If the matter is so great as to be capable of being acted on by
the whole wisdom of God, it would in a way raise its hypostasis to an
equality with the inaccessible power of God, since it would be able to
measure by itself all the extent of the divine intelligence.

If it is insufficient for the operations of God, then we fall into a
more absurd blasphemy, since we condemn God for not being able, on
account of the want of matter, to finish His own works. The
resourcelessness of human nature has deceived these reasoners. Each of
our crafts is exercised upon some special matter--the art of the smith
upon iron, that of the carpenter on wood. In all there is the subject,
the form and the work which results from the form. Matter is taken from
without--art gives the form--and the work is composed at the same time
of form and of matter.

Such is the idea that they make for themselves of the divine work. The
form of the world is due to the wisdom of the supreme Artificer; matter
came to the Creator from without; and thus the world results from a
double origin. It has received from outside its matter and its essence,
and from God its form and figure. They thus come to deny that the mighty
God has presided at the formation of the universe, and pretend that he
has only brought a crowning contribution to a common work; that he has
only contributed some small portion to the genesis of beings; they are
incapable, from the debasement of their reasonings, of raising their
glances to the height of truth. Here, below, arts are subsequent to
matter--introduced into life by the indispensable need of them. Wool
existed before weaving made it supply one of nature's imperfections.
Wood existed before carpentering took possession of it, and transformed
it each day to supply new wants and made us see all the advantages
derived from it, giving the oar to the sailor, the winnowing-fan to the
laborer, the lance to the soldier.

But God, before all those things which now attract our notice existed,
after casting about in His mind and determining to bring into being that
which had no being, imagined the world such as it ought to be, and
created matter in harmony with the form which He wished to give it. He
assigned to the heavens the nature adapted for the heavens, and gave to
the earth an essence in accordance with its form. He formed, as he
wished, fire, air, and water, and gave to each the essence which the
object of its existence required.

Finally he welded all the diverse parts of the universe by links of
indissoluble attachment and established between them so perfect a
fellowship and harmony that the most distant, in spite of their
distance, appeared united in one universal sympathy. Let those men,
therefore, renounce their fabulous imaginations, who in spite of the
weakness of their argument, pretend to measure a power as
incomprehensible to man's reason as it is unutterable by man's voice.

God created the heavens and the earth, but not only one-half of each; He
created all the heavens and all the earth, creating the essence with the
form. For He is not an inventor of figures, but the Creator even of the
essence of beings. Further, let them tell us how the efficient power of
God could deal with the passive nature of matter, the latter furnishing
the matter without form, the former possessing the science of the form
without matter, both being in need of each other; the Creator in order
to display his art, matter in order to cease to be without form and to
receive a form. But let us stop here and return to our subject.

"The earth was invisible and unfinished." In saying "In the beginning
God created the heavens and the earth" the sacred writer passed over
many things in silence--water, air, fire, and the results from them,
which, all forming in reality the true complement of the world, were,
without doubt made at the same time as the universe. By this silence
history wishes to train the activity of our intelligence, giving it a
weak point for starting, to impel it to the discovery of the truth.

Thus, we are told of the creation of water; but, as we are told that
the earth was invisible, ask yourself what could have covered it and
prevented it from being seen? Fire could not conceal it. Fire brightens
all about it, and spreads light rather than darkness around. No more was
it air that enveloped the earth. Air by nature is of little density and
transparent. It receives all kinds of visible objects and transmits them
to the spectators. Only one supposition remains: that which floated on
the surface of the earth was water, the fluid essence which had not yet
been confined to its own place.

Thus the earth was not only invisible; it was still incomplete. Even
to-day excessive damp is a hindrance to the productiveness of the earth.
The same cause at the same time prevents it from being seen and from
being complete, for the proper and natural adornment of the earth is its
completion: corn waving in the valleys, meadows green with grass and
rich with many-colored flowers, fertile glades and hilltops shaded by
forests. Of all this nothing was yet produced; the earth was in travail
with it in virtue of the power that she had received from the Creator.
But she was waiting for the appointed time and the divine order to bring
forth.

"Darkness was upon the face of the deep." A new source for fables and
most impious imaginations may be found by distorting the sense of these
words at the will of one's fancies. By "darkness" these wicked men do
not understand what is meant in reality--air not illumined, the shadow
produced by the interposition of a body, or finally a place for some
reason deprived of light. For them "darkness" is an evil power, or
rather the personification of evil, having his origin in himself in
opposition to, and in perpetual struggle with, the goodness of God. If
God is light, they say, without any doubt the power which struggles
against Him must be darkness, "darkness" not owing its existence to a
foreign origin, but an evil existing by itself. "Darkness" is the enemy
of souls, the primary cause of death, the adversary of virtue. The words
of the prophet, they say in their error, show that it exists and that it
does not proceed from God. From this what perverse and impious dogmas
have been imagined! What grievous wolves, tearing the flock of the Lord,
have sprung from these words to cast themselves upon souls! Is it not
from hence that have come forth Marcions and Valentinuses and the
detestable heresy of the Manicheans which you may, without going far
wrong, call the putrid humor of the churches?

O man, why wander thus from the truth and imagine for thyself that which
will cause thy perdition? The word is simple and within the comprehension
of all. "The earth was invisible." Why? Because the "deep" was spread
over its surface. What is "the deep?" A mass of water of extreme depth.
But we know that we can see many bodies through clear and transparent
water. How, then, was it that no part of the earth appeared through the
water? Because the air which surrounded it was still without light and
in darkness. The rays of the sun, penetrating the water, often allow us
to see the pebbles which form the bed of the river, but in a dark night
it is impossible for our glance to penetrate under the water. Thus,
these words, "the earth was invisible," are explained by those that
follow; "the deep" covered it and itself was in darkness. Thus the deep
is not a multitude of hostile powers, as has been imagined; nor
"darkness" an evil sovereign force in enmity with good. In reality two
rival principles of equal power, if engaged without ceasing in a war of
mutual attacks, will end in self-destruction.

But if one should gain the mastery it would completely annihilate the
conquered. Thus, to maintain the balance in the struggle between good
and evil is to represent them as engaged in a war without end and in
perpetual destruction, where the opponents are at the same time
conquerors and conquered. If good is the stronger, what is there to
prevent evil from being completely annihilated? But if that be the case,
the very utterance of which is impious, I ask myself how it is that
they themselves are not filled with horror to think that they have
imagined such abominable blasphemies.

It is equally impious to say that evil has its origin from God; because
the contrary can not proceed from its contrary. Life does not engender
death; darkness is not the origin of light; sickness is not the maker of
health. In the changes of conditions there are transitions from one
condition to the contrary; but in genesis each being proceeds from its
like and from its contrary. If, then, evil is neither uncreated nor
created by God, from whence comes its nature? Certainly, that evil
exists no one living in the world will deny. What shall we say, then?
Evil is not a living animated essence: it is the condition of the soul
opposed to virtue, developed in the careless on account of their falling
away from good.

Do not, then, go beyond yourself to seek for evil, and imagine that
there is an original nature of wickedness. Each of us--let us
acknowledge it--is the first author of his own vice.

Among the ordinary events of life, some come naturally, like old age and
sickness; others by chance, like unforeseen occurrences, of which the
origin is beyond ourselves, often sad, sometimes fortunate--as, for
instance, the discovery of a treasure when digging a well, or the
meeting of a mad dog when going to the market-place.

Others depend upon ourselves; such as ruling one's passions, or not
putting a bridle on one's pleasures; the mastery of anger, or resistance
against him who irritates us; truth-telling or lying, the maintenance of
a sweet and well-regulated disposition, or of a mood fierce and swollen
and exalted with pride. Here you are the master of your actions. Do not
look for the guiding cause beyond yourself, but recognize that evil,
rightly so called, has no other origin than our voluntary falls. If it
were involuntary, and did not depend upon ourselves, the laws would not
have so much terror for the guilty, and the tribunals would not be so
pitiless when they condemn wretches according to the measure of their
crimes.

But enough concerning evil rightly so called. Sickness, poverty,
obscurity, death, finally all human afflictions, ought not to be ranked
as evils, since we do not count among the greatest boons things which
are their opposites. Among these afflictions some are the effect of
nature, others have obviously been for many a source of advantage. Let
us be silent for the moment about these metaphors and allegories, and,
simply following without vain curiosity the words of Holy Scripture, let
us take from darkness the idea which it gives us.

But reason asks, Was darkness created with the world? Is it older than
light? Why, in spite of its inferiority, has it preceded it? Darkness,
we reply, did not exist in essence; it is a condition produced in the
air by the withdrawal of light. What, then, is that light which
disappeared suddenly from the world so that darkness should cover the
face of the deep? If anything had existed before the formation of this
sensible and perishable world, no doubt we conclude it would have been
in the light. The orders of angels, the heavenly hosts, all intellectual
natures named or unnamed, all the ministering spirits, did not live in
darkness, but enjoyed a condition fitted for them in light and spiritual
joy.

No one will contradict this, least of all he who looks for celestial
light as one of the rewards promised to virtue--the light which, as
Solomon says, is always a light to the righteous, the light which made
the apostle say, "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet
to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Finally, if
the condemned are sent into outer darkness, evidently those who are made
worthy of God's approval are at rest in heavenly light. When, then,
according to the order of God, the heaven appeared, enveloping all that
its circumference included, a vast and unbroken body separating outer
things from those which it enclosed, it necessarily kept the space
inside in darkness for want of communication with the outer light.

Three things are, indeed, needed to form a shadow: light, a body, a dark
place. The shadow of heaven forms the darkness of the world. Understand,
I pray you, what I mean, by a simple example--by raising for yourself at
midday a tent of some compact and impenetrable material, you shut
yourself up in sudden darkness. Suppose that original darkness was like
this, not subsisting directly by itself, but resulting from some
external causes. If it is said that it rested upon the deep, it is
because the extremity of air naturally touches the surface of bodies;
and as at that time the water covered everything, we are obliged to say
that darkness was upon the face of the deep.

"And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters?" Does this
Spirit mean the diffusion of air? The sacred writer wishes to enumerate
to you the elements of the world, to tell you that God created the
heavens, the earth, water and air, and that the last was now diffused
and in motion; or rather, that which is truer and confirmed by the
authority of the ancients, by the Spirit of God he means the Holy
Spirit. It is, as has been remarked, the special name, the name above
all others that Scripture delights to give to the Holy Spirit, and by
the Spirit of God the Holy Spirit is meant, the Spirit, namely, which
completes the divine and blessed Trinity. You will always find it
better, therefore, to take it in this sense. How, then, did the Spirit
of God move upon the waters? The explanation that I am about to give you
is not an original one, but that of a Syrian who was as ignorant in the
wisdom of this world as he was versed in the knowledge of the truth.

He said, then, that the Syriac word was more expressive, and that, being
more analogous to the Hebrew term, it was a nearer approach to the
Scriptural sense. This is the meaning of the word: by "moved" the
Syrians, he says, understand brooded over. The Spirit cherished the
nature of the waters as one sees a bird cover the eggs with her body and
impart to them vital force from her own warmth. Such is, as nearly as
possible, the meaning of these words--the Spirit moved: that is,
prepared the nature of water to produce living beings: a sufficient
proof for those who ask if the Holy Spirit took an active part in the
creation of the world.

"And God said, Let there be light." The first word uttered by God
created the nature of light; it made darkness vanish, dispelled gloom,
illuminated the world, and gave to all being at the same time a sweet
and gracious aspect. The heavens, until then enveloped in darkness,
appeared with that beauty which they still present to our eyes. The air
was lighted up, or rather made the light circulate mixed with its
substance, and, distributing its splendor rapidly in every direction, so
dispersed itself to its extreme limits. Up it sprang to the very ether
and heaven. In an instant it lighted up the whole extent of the world,
the north and the south, the east and the west. For the ether also is
such a subtle substance and so transparent that it needs not the space
of a moment for light to pass through it. Just as it carries our sight
instantaneously to the object of vision, so without the least interval,
with a rapidity that thought can not conceive, it receives these rays of
light in its uttermost limits. With light the ether becomes more
pleasing and the waters more limpid. These last, not content with
receiving its splendor, return it by the reflection of light and in all
directions send forth quivering flashes. The divine word gives every
object a more cheerful and a more attractive appearance, just as when
men pour in oil into the deep sea they make the place about them smooth.
So, with a single word and in one instant the Creator of all things gave
the boon of light to the world.

"Let there be light." The order was itself an operation, and a state of
things was brought into being than which man's mind can not even imagine
a pleasanter one for our enjoyment It must be well understood that when
we speak of the voice, of the word, of the command of God, this divine
language does not mean to us a sound which escapes from the organs of
speech, a collision of air struck by the tongue; it is a simple sign of
the will of God, and, if we give it the form of an order, it is only the
better to impress the souls whom we instruct.

"And God saw the light, that it was good." How can we worthily praise
light after the testimony given by the Creator to its goodness? The
word, even among us, refers the judgment to the eyes, incapable of
raising itself to the idea that the senses have already received. But if
beauty in bodies results from symmetry of parts and the harmonious
appearance of colors how, in a simple and homogeneous essence like
light, can this idea of beauty be preserved? Would not the symmetry in
light be less shown in its parts than in the pleasure and delight at the
sight of it? Such is also the beauty of gold, which it owes, not to the
happy mingling of its parts, but only to its beautiful color, which has
a charm attractive to the eyes.

Thus, again, the evening star is the most beautiful of the stars: not
that the parts of which it is composed form a harmonious whole, but
thanks to the unalloyed and beautiful brightness which meets our eyes.
And further, when God proclaimed the goodness of light, it was not in
regard to the charm of the eye, but as a provision for future advantage,
because at that time there were as yet no eyes to judge of its beauty.

"And God divided the light from the darkness." That is to say, God gave
them natures incapable of mixing, perpetually in opposition to each
other, and put between them the widest space and distance.

"And God called the light day, and the darkness he called night." Since
the birth of the sun, the light that it diffuses in the air when shining
on our hemisphere is day, and the shadow produced by its disappearance
is night. But at that time it was not after the movement of the sun, but
following this primitive light spread abroad in the air or withdrawn in
a measure determined by God, that day came and was followed by night.

"And the evening and the morning were the first day." Evening is then
the boundary common to day and night; and in the same way morning
constitutes the approach of night to day. It was to give day the
privileges of seniority that Scripture put the end of the first day
before that of the first night, because night follows day: for, before
the creation of light, the world was not in night, but in darkness. It
is the opposite of day which was called night, and it did not receive
its name until after day. Thus were created the evening and the
morning. Scripture means the space of a day and a night, and afterward
no more says day and night, but calls them both under the name of the
more important: a custom which you will find throughout Scripture.
Everywhere the measure of time is counted by days without mention of
nights. "The days of our years," says the Psalmist; "few and evil have
the days of the years of my life been," said Jacob; and elsewhere "all
the days of my life."

"And the evening and the morning were the first day," or, rather, one
day.--(_Revised Vers_). Why does Scripture say "one day," not "the first
day?" Before speaking to us of the second, the third, and the fourth
days, would it not have been more natural to call that one the first
which began the series? If it, therefore, says "one day," it is from a
wish to determine the measure of day and night and to combine the time
that they contain. Now, twenty-four hours fill up the space of one
day--we mean of a day and of a night; and if, at the time of the
solstices, they have not both an equal length, the time marked by
Scripture does not the less circumscribe their duration. It is as tho it
said: Twenty-four hours measure the space of a day, or a day is in
reality the time that the heavens, starting from one point, take to
return thither. Thus, every time that, in the revolution of the sun,
evening and morning occupy the world, their periodical succession never
exceeds the space of one day.

But we must believe that there is a mysterious reason for this? God, who
made the nature of time, measured it out and determined it by intervals
of days; and, wishing to give it a week as a measure, he ordered the
week to resolve from period to period upon itself, to count the movement
of time, forming the week of one day revolving seven times upon itself:
a proper circle begins and ends with itself. Such is also the character
of eternity, to revolve upon itself and to end nowhere. If, then, the
beginning of time is called "one day" rather than "the first day," it is
because Scripture wishes to establish its relationship with eternity. It
was, in reality, fit and natural to call "one" the day whose character
is to be one wholly separated and isolated from all others. If Scripture
speaks to us of many ages, saying everywhere "age of age, and ages of
ages," we do not see it enumerate them as first, second, and third. It
follows that we are hereby shown, not so much limits, ends, and
succession of ages as distinctions between various states and modes of
action. "The day of the Lord," Scripture says, "is great and very
terrible," and elsewhere, "Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord:
to what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness and not
light." A day of darkness for those who are worthy of darkness. No;
this day without evening, without succession, and without end is not
unknown to Scripture, and it is the day that the Psalmist calls the
eighth day, because it is outside this time of weeks. Thus, whether you
call it day or whether you call it eternity, you express the same idea.
Give this state the name of day; there are not several, but only one. If
you call it eternity still it is unique and not manifold. Thus it is in
order that you may carry your thoughts forward toward a future life that
Scripture marks by the word "one" the day which is the type of eternity,
the first-fruits of days, the contemporary of light, the holy Lord's
day.

But while I am conversing with you about the first evening of the world,
evening takes me by surprize and puts an end to my discourse. May the
Father of the true light, who has adorned day with celestial light, who
has made to shine the fires which illuminate us during the night, who
reserves for us in the peace of a future age a spiritual and everlasting
light, enlighten your hearts in the knowledge of truth, keep you from
stumbling, and grant that "you may walk honestly as in the day." Thus
shall you shine as the sun in the midst of the glory of the saints, and
I shall glory in you in the day of Christ, to whom belong all glory and
power for ever and ever. Amen.




CHRYSOSTOM

EXCESSIVE GRIEF AT THE DEATH OF FRIENDS


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Chrysostom (that is, "Of the Golden Mouth") was a title given to John,
Archbishop of Constantinople. He was born of a patrician family at
Antioch about 347, and owed much to the early Christian training of his
Christian mother, Anthusa. He studied under Libanius, and for a time
practised law, but was converted and baptized in 368. He made a profound
study of the Scriptures, the whole of which, it is said, he learned to
repeat by heart.

Like Basil and Gregory he began his religious life as a hermit in the
desert. After six years he returned to Antioch, where he gained
reputation as the greatest preacher in the Eastern Church. Raised to the
metropolitan See of Constantinople in 397, his fulminations against the
corruptions of the court caused him to be banished, after a stormy
ministry of six years. He was recalled in response to popular clamor,
but removed again, and shortly after died, in 407. He was a great
exegete, and showed a spirit of intellectual liberty which anticipated
modern criticism. Sermons to the number of one thousand have been
attributed to him.



CHRYSOSTOM
347-407

EXCESSIVE GRIEF AT THE DEATH OF FRIENDS

_But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them
which are asleep, that ye sorrow not._--1 Thess. iv., 13.


We have occupied four days in explaining to you the parable of Lazarus,
bringing out the treasure that we found in a body covered with sores; a
treasure, not of gold and silver and precious stones, but of wisdom and
fortitude, of patience and endurance. For as in regard to visible
treasures, while the surface of the ground shows only thorns and briers,
and rough earth, yet, let a person dig deep into it, abundant wealth
discovers itself; so it has proved in respect to Lazarus. Outwardly,
wounds; but underneath these, unspeakable wealth; a body pining away,
but a spirit noble and wakeful. We have also seen an illustration of
that remark of the apostle's--in proportion as the outward man perishes,
the inward man is renewed.

It would, indeed, be proper to address you to-day, also, on this same
parable, and to enter the lists with those heretics who censure the Old
Testament, bringing accusations against the patriarchs, and whetting
their tongues against God, the Creator of the universe. But to avoid
wearying you and reserving this controversy for another time, let us
direct the discourse to another subject; for a table with only one sort
of food produces satiety, while variety provokes the appetite. That it
may be so in regard to our preaching, let us now, after a long period,
turn to the blest Paul; for very opportunely has a passage from the
apostle been read to-day, and the things which are to be spoken
concerning it are in harmony with those that have lately been presented.
Hear, then, Paul this day proclaiming--"I would not have you to be
ignorant concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as
others which have no hope." The parable of Lazarus is the evangelical
chord; this passage is the apostolic note. And there is concord between
them; for we have, on that parable, said much concerning the
resurrection and the future judgment, and our discourse now recurs to
that theme; so that, tho it is on apostolic ground we are now toiling,
we shall here find the same treasure. For in treating the parable, our
aim was to teach the hearers this lesson, that they should regard all
the splendors of the present life as nothing, but should look forward in
their hopes, and daily reflect on the decisions which will be hereafter
pronounced, and on that fearful judgment, and that Judge who can not be
deceived. On these things Paul has counseled us to-day in the passages
which have been read to us. Attend, however, to his own words--"I would
not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep,
that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe
that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus
will God bring with him."--I Thess. iv., 13, 14.

We ought here, at the outset, to inquire why, when he is speaking
concerning Christ, he employs the word death; but when he is speaking of
our decease he calls it sleep, and not death. For he did not say,
Concerning them that are dead: but what did he say? "Concerning them
that are asleep." And again--"Even so them also which sleep in Jesus
will God bring with Him." He did not say, Them that have died. Still
again--"We who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall
not prevent them that sleep." Here, too, he did not say--Them that are
dead; but a third time, bringing the subject to their remembrance, for
the third time called death a sleep. Concerning Christ, however, he did
not speak thus; but how? "For if we believe that Jesus died." He did not
say, Jesus slept, but He died. Why now did he use the term death in
reference to Christ, but in reference to us the term sleep? For it was
not casually, or negligently, that he employed this expression, but he
had a wise and great purpose in so doing. In speaking of Christ, he said
death, so as to confirm the fact that Christ had actually suffered
death; in speaking of us, he said sleep, in order to impart consolation.
For where resurrection had already taken place, he mentions death with
plainness; but where the resurrection is still a matter of hope, he says
sleep, consoling us by this very expression, and cherishing our valuable
hopes. For he who is only asleep will surely awake; and death is no more
than a long sleep.

Say not a dead man hears not, nor speaks, nor sees, nor is conscious. It
is just so with a sleeping person. If I may speak somewhat
paradoxically, even the soul of a sleeping person is in some sort
asleep; but not so the soul of a dead man; that is awake.

But, you say, a dead man experiences corruption, and becomes dust and
ashes. And what then, beloved hearers? For this very reason we ought to
rejoice. For when a man is about to rebuild an old and tottering house,
he first sends out its occupants, then tears it down, and rebuilds anew
a more splendid one. This occasions no grief to the occupants, but
rather joy; for they do not think of the demolition which they see, but
of the house which is to come, tho not yet seen. When God is about to
do a similar work, he destroys our body, and removes the soul which was
dwelling in it as from some house, that he may build it anew and more
splendidly, and again bring the soul into it with greater glory. Let us
not, therefore, regard the tearing down, but the splendor which is to
succeed.

If, again, a man has a statue decayed by rust and age, and mutilated in
many of its parts, he breaks it up and casts it into a furnace, and
after the melting he receives it again in a more beautiful form. As then
the dissolving in the furnace was not a destruction but a renewing of
the statue, so the death of our bodies is not a destruction but a
renovation. When, therefore, you see as in a furnace our flesh flowing
away to corruption, dwell not on that sight, but wait for the recasting.
And be not satisfied with the extent of this illustration, but advance
in your thoughts to a still higher point; for the statuary, casting into
the furnace a brazen image, does not furnish you in its place a golden
and undecaying statue, but again makes a brazen one. God does not thus;
but casting in a mortal body formed of clay, he returns to you a golden
and immortal statue; for the earth, receiving a corruptible and decaying
body gives back the same, incorruptible and undecaying. Look not,
therefore, on the corpse, lying with closed eyes and speechless lips,
but on the man that is risen, that has received glory unspeakable and
amazing, and direct your thoughts from the present sight to the future
hope.

But do you miss his society, and therefore lament and mourn? Now is it
not unreasonable, that, if you should have given your daughter in
marriage, and her husband should take her to a distant country and
should there enjoy prosperity, you would not think the circumstance a
calamity, but the intelligence of their prosperity would console the
sorrow occasioned by her absence; and yet here, while it is not a man,
nor a fellow servant, but the Lord Himself who has taken your relative,
that you should grieve and lament?

And how is it possible, you ask, not to grieve, since I am only a man?
Nor do I say that you should not grieve: I do not condemn dejection, but
the intensity of it. To be dejected is natural; but to be overcome by
dejection is madness, and folly, and unmanly weakness. You may grieve
and weep; but give not way to despondency, nor indulge in complaints.
Give thanks to God, who has taken your friend, that you have the
opportunity of honoring the departed one, and of dismissing him with
becoming obsequies. If you sink under depression, you withhold honor
from the departed, you displease God who has taken him, and you injure
yourself; but if you are grateful, you pay respect to him, you glorify
God, and you benefit yourself. Weep, as wept your Master over Lazarus,
observing the just limits of sorrow, which it is not proper to pass.
Thus also said Paul--"I would not have you to be ignorant concerning
them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not as others who have no hope.
Grieve," says he; "but not as the Greek, who has no hope of a
resurrection, who despairs of a future life."

Believe me, I am ashamed and blush to see unbecoming groups of women
pass along the mart, tearing their hair, cutting their arms and
cheeks--and all this under the eyes of the Greeks. For what will they
not say? What will they not declare concerning us? Are these the men who
reason about a resurrection? Indeed! How poorly their actions agree with
their opinions! In words, they reason about a resurrection: but they act
just like those who do not acknowledge a resurrection. If they fully
believed in a resurrection, they would not act thus; if they had really
persuaded themselves that a deceased friend had departed to a better
state, they would not thus mourn. These things, and more than these, the
unbelievers say when they hear those lamentations. Let us then be
ashamed, and be more moderate, and not occasion so much harm to
ourselves and to those who are looking on us.

For on what account, tell me, do you thus weep for one departed?
Because he was a bad man? You ought on that very account to be thankful,
since the occasions of wickedness are now cut off. Because he was good
and kind? If so, you ought to rejoice; since he has been soon removed,
before wickedness had corrupted him, and he has gone away to a world
where he stands even secure, and there is no reason even to mistrust a
change. Because he was a youth? For that, too, praise Him that has taken
him, because he has speedily called him to a better lot. Because he was
an aged man? On this account, also, give thanks and glorify Him that has
taken him. Be ashamed of your behavior at a burial. The singing of
psalms, the prayers, the assembling of the (spiritual) fathers and
brethren--all this is not that you may weep, and lament, and afflict
yourselves, but that you may render thanks to Him who has taken the
departed. For as when men are called to some high office, multitudes
with praises on their lips assemble to escort them at their departure to
their stations, so do all with abundant praise join to send forward, as
to greater honor, those of the pious who have departed. Death is rest, a
deliverance from the exhausting labors and cares of this world. When,
then, thou seest a relative departing, yield not to despondency; give
thyself to reflection; examine thy conscience; cherish the thought that
after a little while this end awaits thee also. Be more considerate; let
another's death excite thee to salutary fear; shake off all indolence;
examine your past deeds; quit your sins, and commence a happy change.

We differ from unbelievers in our estimate of things. The unbeliever
surveys the heavens and worships them, because he thinks them a
divinity; he looks to the earth and makes himself a servant to it, and
longs for the things of sense. But not so with us. We survey the heavens
and admire Him that made them; for we do not believe them to be a god,
but a work of God. I look on the whole creation, and am led by it to the
Creator. He looks on wealth, and longs for it with earnest desire; I
look on wealth, and contemn it. He sees poverty, and laments; I see
poverty, and rejoice. I see things in one light; he in another. Just so
in regard to death. He sees a corpse, and thinks of it as a corpse; I
see a corpse, and behold sleep rather than death. And as in regard to
books, both learned persons and unlearned see them with the same eyes,
but not with the same understanding--for to the unlearned the mere
shapes of letters appear, while the learned discover the sense that lies
within those letters--so in respect to affairs in general, we all see
what takes place with the same eyes, but not with the same understanding
and judgment. Since, therefore, in all other things we differ from
them, shall we agree with them in our sentiments respecting death?

Consider to whom the departed has gone, and take comfort. He has gone
where Paul is, and Peter, and the whole company of the saints. Consider
how he shall arise, with what glory and splendor. Consider that by
mourning and lamenting thou canst not alter the event which has
occurred, and thou wilt in the end injure thyself. Consider whom you
imitate by so doing, and shun this companionship in sin. For whom do you
imitate and emulate? The unbelieving, those who have no hope; as Paul
has said--"That ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope." And
observe how carefully he expresses himself; for he does not say, Those
who have not the hope of a resurrection, but simply, Those who have no
hope. He that has no hope of a future retribution has no hope at all,
nor does he know that there is a God, nor that God exercises a
providential care over present occurrences, nor that divine justice
looks on all things. But he that is thus ignorant and inconsiderate is
more unwise than a beast, and separates his soul from all good; for he
that does not expect to render an account of his deeds cuts himself
loose from all virtue, and attaches himself to all vice. Considering
these things, therefore, and reflecting on the folly and stupidity of
the heathen, whose associates we become by our lamentations for the
dead, let us avoid this conformity to them. For the apostle mentions
them for this very purpose, that by considering the dishonor into which
thou fallest, thou mightest recover thyself from this conformity, and
return to thy proper dignity.

And not only here, but everywhere and frequently, the blest Paul does
the same. For when he would dissuade from sin, he shows with whom we
become associated by our sins, that, being touched by the character of
the persons, thou shouldest avoid such companionship. To the
Thessalonians, accordingly, he says, Let every one "possess his vessel
in sanctification and honor, not in the lust of concupiscence, even as
the Gentiles which know not God." And again--"Walk not as the other
Gentiles in the vanity of their mind." Thus also here--"I would not have
you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye
sorrow not even as others who have no hope." For it is not the nature of
things, but our own disposition, which makes us grieve; not the death of
the departed, but the weakness of those who mourn.

We ought, therefore, to thank God not only for the resurrection, but
also for the hope of it; which can comfort the afflicted soul, and bid
us be of good cheer concerning the departed, for they will again rise
and be with us. If we must have anguish, we should mourn and lament over
those who are living in sin, not over those who have died righteously.
Thus did Paul; for he says to the Corinthians--"Lest when I come to you
God shall humble me among you and that I shall bewail many." He was not
speaking of those who had died, but of those who had sinned and had not
repented of the lasciviousness and uncleanness which they had committed;
over these it was proper to mourn. So likewise another writer
admonishes, saying--"Weep over the dead, for the light has failed; and
weep over the fool, for understanding has failed" (Eccles. xxii., 10).
Weep a little for the dead; for he has gone to his rest; but the fool's
life is a greater calamity than death. And surely if one devoid of
understanding is always a proper object of lamentation, much more he
that is devoid of righteousness and that has fallen from hope toward
God. These, then, let us bewail; for such bewailing may be useful. For
often while lamenting these, we amend our own faults; but to bewail the
departed is senseless and hurtful. Let us not, then, reverse the order,
but bewail only sin; and all other things, whether poverty, or sickness,
or untimely death, or calumny, or false accusation, or whatever human
evil befalls us, let us resolutely bear them all. For these calamities,
if we are watchful, will be the occasions of adding to our crowns.

But how is it possible, you ask, that a bereaved person, being a man,
should not grieve? On the contrary, I ask, how is it that being a man he
should grieve, since he is honored with reason and with hopes of future
good? Who is there, you ask again, that has not been subdued by this
weakness? Many, I reply, and in many places, both among us and among
those who have died before us. Job, for instance; the whole circle of
his children being taken away, hear what he says--"The Lord gave; the
Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." A wonderful
saying, even when merely heard; but if you examine it closely, your
wonder will greatly increase.

For consider; Satan did not take merely half and leave half, or take the
larger number and leave the rest; but he gathered all the fruit, and yet
did not prevail in uprooting the tree; he covered the whole sea with
waves, and yet did not overwhelm the bark; he despoiled the tower of its
strength, and yet could not batter it down. Job stood firm, tho assailed
from every quarter; showers of arrows fell, but they did not wound him.
Consider how great a thing it was, to see so many children perish. Was
it not enough to pierce him to the quick that they should all be
snatched away?--altogether and in one day; in the flower of life;
having shown so much virtue; expiring as by a stroke of vengeance; that
after so many sorrows this last should be inflicted; that the father was
fond of them, and that the deceased were worthy of his affection. When a
man loses vicious children, he does indeed suffer grief, but not intense
grief; for the wickedness of the departed does not allow the sorrow to
be poignant. But when children are virtuous, an abiding wound is
inflicted, the remembrance is indelible, the calamity is inconsolable;
there is a double sting, from nature, and from the virtuous character of
the departed.

That Job's children were virtuous, appears from the fact that their
father was particularly solicitous in regard to them, and rising up
offered sacrifices in their behalf, fearing lest they might have
committed secret sins; and no consideration was more important in his
esteem than this. Not only the virtue of the children is thus shown, but
also the affectionate spirit of the father. Since, therefore, the father
was so affectionate, showing not only a love for them which proceeded
from nature, but that also which came from their piety, and since the
departed were thus virtuous, the anguish had a threefold intensity.
Still further; when children are torn away separately, the suffering has
some consolation; for those that are left alleviate the sorrow over the
departed; but when the whole circle is gone, to what one of all his
numerous children can the childless man now look?

Besides these causes of sorrow, there was a fifth stroke. What was that?
That they were all snatched away at once. For if in the case of those
who die after three or five days of sickness, the women and all the
relatives bewail this most of all, that the deceased was taken away from
their sight speedily and suddenly, much more might he have been
distrest, when thus deprived of all, not in three days, or two, or one,
but in one hour! For a calamity long contemplated, even if it be hard to
bear, may fall more lightly through this anticipation; but that which
happens contrary to expectation and suddenly is intolerable.

Would you hear of a sixth stroke? He lost them all in the very flower of
their age. You know how very overwhelming are untimely bereavements, and
productive of grief on many scores. The instance we are contemplating
was not only untimely, but also violent; so that here was a seventh
stroke. For their father did not see them expire on a bed, but they are
all overwhelmed by the falling habitation. Consider then; a man was
digging in that pile of ruins, and now he drew up a stone, and now a
limb of a deceased one; he saw a hand still holding a cup, and another
right hand placed on the table, and the mutilated form of a body, the
nose torn away, the head crusht, the eyes put out, the brain scattered,
the whole frame marred, and the variety of wounds not permitting the
father to recognize the beloved countenances. You suffer emotions and
shed tears at merely hearing of these things: what must he have endured
at the sight of them? For if we, so long after the event, can not bear
to hear of this tragedy, tho it was another man's calamity, what an
adamant was he to look on these things, and contemplate them, not as
another's, but his own afflictions! He did not give way to dejection,
nor ask, "What does this mean? Is this the recompense for my kindness?
Was it for this that I opened my house, that I might see it made the
grave of my children? Did I for this exhibit every parental virtue, that
they should endure such a death?" No such things did he speak, or even
think; but steadily bore all, tho bereaved of them after bestowing on
them so much care. For as an accomplished statuary framing golden images
adorns them with great care, so he sought properly to mold and adorn
their souls. And as a husbandman assiduously waters his palm-trees, or
olives, inclosing them and cultivating them in every suitable way; so he
perpetually sought to enrich each one's soul, as a fruitful olive, with
increasing virtue. But he saw the trees overthrown by the assault of the
evil spirit, and exposed on the earth, and enduring that miserable kind
of death; yet he uttered no reviling word, but rather blest God, thus
giving a deadly blow to the devil.

Should you say that Job had many sons, but that others have frequently
lost their only sons, and that his cause of sorrow was not equal to
theirs, you say well; but I reply, that Job's cause of sorrow was not
only equal, but far greater. For of what advantage was it to him that he
had many children? It was a severer calamity and a more bitter grief to
receive the wound in many bodies.

Still, if you wish to see another holy man having an only son, and
showing the same and even greater fortitude, call to mind the patriarch
Abraham, who did not indeed see Isaac die, but, what was much more
painful, was himself commanded to slay him, and did not question the
command, nor repine at it, nor say, "Is it for this thou hast made me a
father, that thou shouldest make me the slayer of my son? Better it
would have been not to give him at all, than having given him thus to
take him away. And if thou choosest to take him, why dost thou command
me to slay him and to pollute my right hand? Didst thou not promise me
that from this son thou wouldst fill the earth with my descendants? How
wilt thou give the fruits, then, if thou pluck up the root? How dost
thou promise me a posterity, and yet order me to slay my son? Who ever
saw such things, or heard of the like? I am deceived; I have been
deluded." No such thing did he say, or even think; he said nothing
against the command, he did not ask the reasons; but hearing the
Word--"Take thy son, thine only son whom thou lovest, and carry him up
to one of the mountains which I shall show thee," he complied so readily
as even to do more than was commanded. For he concealed the matter from
his wife, and he left the servants at the foot of the Mount in ignorance
of what was to be done, and ascended, taking only the victim. Thus not
unwillingly, but with promptness, he obeyed the command. Think now what
it was, to be conversing alone with his son, apart from all others, when
the affections are the more fervently excited, and attachment becomes
stronger; and this not for one, or two, but for several days. To obey
the command speedily would have been wonderful; but not so wonderful as,
while his heart was burdened and agitated for many days, to avoid
indulging in human tenderness toward his son. On this account God
appointed for him a more extended arena, and a longer racecourse, that
thou mightest the more carefully observe his combatant. A combatant he
was indeed, contending not against a man, but against the force of
nature. What language can describe his fortitude? He brought forward his
son, bound him, placed him on the wood, seized the sacrificial knife,
was just on the point of dealing the stroke. In what manner to express
myself properly, I know not; he only would know, who did these things.
For no language can describe how it happened that his hand did not
become torpid, that the strength of his nerves did not relax, that the
affecting sight of his son did not overpower him.

It is proper here, too, to admire Isaac. For as the one obeyed God, so
did the other obey his father; and as the one, at God's bidding him to
sacrifice, did not demand an account of the matter, so the other, when
his father was binding him and leading him to the altar, did not say,
"Why art thou doing this?"--but surrendered himself to his father's
hand. And then was to be seen a man uniting in his own person the father
and the sacrificing priest; and a sacrifice offered without blood, a
whole burnt offering without fire, an altar representing a type of death
and the resurrection. For he both sacrificed his son and he did not
sacrifice him. He did not sacrifice him with his hand, but in his
purpose. For God gave the command, not through desire to see the flowing
of the blood, but to give you a specimen of steady purpose, to make
known throughout the world this worthy man, and to instruct all in
coming time that it is necessary to prefer the command of God before
children and nature, before all things, and even life itself. And so
Abraham descended from the Mount, bringing alive the martyr Isaac. How
can we be pardoned then, tell me, or what apology can we have, if we see
that noble man obeying God with so much promptness and submitting to Him
in all things, and yet we murmur at His dispensations? Tell me not of
grief, nor of the intolerable nature of your calamity; rather consider
how in the midst of bitter sorrow you may yet rise superior to it. That
which was commanded to Abraham was enough to stagger his reason, to
throw him into perplexity, and to undermine his faith in the past. For
who would not have then thought that the promise which had been made him
of a numerous posterity was all a deception? But not so Abraham. And not
less ought we to admire Job's wisdom in calamity; and particularly, that
after so much virtue, after his alms and various acts of kindness to
men, and tho aware of no wrong either in himself or his children, yet
experiencing so much affliction, affliction so singular, such as had
never happened even to the most desperately wicked, still he was not
affected by it as most men would have been, nor did he regard his virtue
as profitless, nor form any ill-advised opinion concerning the past.

By these two examples, then, we ought not only to admire virtue, but to
emulate and imitate it. And let no one say these were wonderful men.
True, they were wonderful and great men. But we are now required to have
more wisdom than they, and than all who lived under the Old Testament.
For "except your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees,
ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Gathering wisdom, then,
from all quarters, and considering what we are told concerning a
resurrection and concerning these holy men, let us frequently recite it
to our souls, not only when we are actually in sorrow, but also while we
are free from distress. For I have now addrest you on this subject, tho
no one is in particular affliction, that when we shall fall into any
such calamity, we may, from the remembrance of what has been said,
obtain requisite consolation. As soldiers, even in peace, perform
warlike exercises, so that when actually called to battle and the
occasion makes a demand for skill, they may avail themselves of the art
which they have cultivated in peace; so let us, in time of peace,
furnish ourselves with weapons and remedies, that whenever there shall
burst on us a war of unreasonable passions, or grief, or pain, or any
such thing, we may, well armed and secure on all sides, repel the
assaults of the evil one with all skill, and wall ourselves round with
right contemplations, with the declarations of God, with the examples of
good men, and with every possible defense. For so shall we be able to
pass the present life with happiness, and to attain to the kingdom of
heaven, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion, together
with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.




AUGUSTINE

THE RECOVERY OF SIGHT BY THE BLIND


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Saint Augustine (Aurelius Augustinus), one of the greatest theological
fathers of the Church, was born at Tagaste, 354 A.D., and became devoted
to the study of Cicero. As a Manichean he occasioned great anxiety to
his mother Monica. Eventually embracing Christianity, he was baptized by
Ambrose of Milan (387), on which occasion, tradition says, the Te Deum
was composed by himself and his baptizer. Appointed to the See of Hippo
in 395, he threw himself into the conflict against heresy and schism,
his principal opponents being the Donatists and Pelagians. His sermons,
powerful as they are, disappoint the modern reader by their fantastic
and allegorical interpretation of Scripture, but his "Confessions," in
which he details the history of his early life and conversion, present a
wonderful picture of personal experience. He is styled by Harnack "the
first modern man." He died at Hippo in 430.



AUGUSTINE
354-430

THE RECOVERY OF SIGHT BY THE BLIND

_Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David._--Matt. xx., 30.


I. Ye know, holy brethren, full well as we do, that our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ is the physician of our eternal health; and that to this
end we task the weakness of our natures, that our weakness might not
last forever. For He assumed a mortal body, wherein to kill death. And,
"though He was crucified through weakness," as the apostle saith, yet He
"liveth by the power of God." They are the words, too, of the same
apostle: "He dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him." These
things, I say, are well known to your faith. And there is also this
which follows from them, that we should know that all the miracles which
He did on the body avail to our instruction, that we may from them
perceive that which is not to pass away, nor to have any end. He
restored to the blind those eyes which death was sure some time to
close; He raised Lazarus to life who was to die again. And whatever He
did for the health of bodies, He did it not to this end that they should
be forever; whereas, at the last, He will give eternal health even to
the body itself. But because those things which were not seen were not
believed; by means of those temporal things which were seen, He built up
faith in those things which were not seen.

II. Let no one then, brethren, say that our Lord Jesus Christ doeth not
those things now, and on this account prefer the former to the present
ages of the Church. In a certain place, indeed, the same Lord prefers
those who do not see and yet believe to them who see and therefore
believe. For even at that time so irresolute was the infirmity of His
disciples that they thought that He whom they saw to have risen again
must be handled, in order that they might believe. It was not enough for
their eyes that they had seen Him, unless their hands also were applied
to His limbs, and the scars of His recent wounds were touched: that this
disciple, who was in doubt, might cry suddenly when he had touched and
recognized the scars, "My Lord and my God." The scars manifested Him who
had healed all wounds in others. Could not the Lord have risen again
without scars? Yes, but He knew the wounds which were in the hearts of
His disciples, and to heal them He had preserved the scars on His own
body. And what said the Lord to him who now confest and said, "My lord,
and my God?" "Because thou hast seen," He said, "thou hast believed;
blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." Of whom
spake He, brethren, but of us? Not that He spoke only of us, but of
those also who shall come after us. For a little while when He had
departed from the sight of men, that faith might be established in their
hearts, whosoever believed, believed tho they saw Him not, and great has
been the merit of their faith; for the procuring of which faith they
brought only the movement of a pious heart, and not the touching of
their hands.

III. These things, then, the Lord did to invite us to the faith. This
faith reigneth now in the Church, which is spread throughout the whole
world. And now, He worketh greater cures, on account of which He
disdained not then to exhibit those lesser ones. For as the soul is
better than the body, so is the saving health of the soul better than
the health of the body. The blind body doth not now open its eyes by a
miracle of the Lord, but the blinded heart openeth its eyes to the word
of the Lord. The mortal corpse doth not now rise again, but the soul
doth rise again which lay dead in a living body. The deaf ears of the
body are not now opened; but how many have the ears of their heart
closed, which yet fly open at the penetrating word of God, so that they
believe who did not believe, and they live well who did live evilly, and
they obey who did not obey; and we say, "such a man is become a
believer," and we wonder when we hear of them whom once we had known as
hardened. Why, then, dost thou marvel at one who now believes, who is
living innocently, and serving God, but because thou dost behold him
seeing, whom thou hadst known to be blind; dost behold him living whom
thou hast known to be dead; dost behold him hearing whom thou hadst
known to be deaf? For consider that there are those who are dead in
another than the ordinary sense, of whom the Lord spoke to a certain man
who delayed to follow the Lord, because he wished to bury his father;
"Let the dead," said He, "bury their dead." Surely these dead buriers
are not dead in body; for if this were so, they could not bury dead
bodies. Yet doth He call them dead; where but in the soul within? For as
we may often see in a household, itself sound and well, the master of
the same house lying dead; so in a sound body do many carry a dead soul
within; and these the apostle arouses thus, "Awake, thou that sleepest,
and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." It is the
same who giveth sight to the blind that awakeneth the dead. For it is
with His voice that the cry is made by the apostle to the dead. "Awake
thou that sleepest." And the blind will be enlightened with light, when
he shall have risen again. And how many deaf men did the Lord see before
His eyes, when He said, "He that hath ears to hear let him hear." For
who was standing before Him without his bodily ears? What other ears,
then, did He seek for, but those of the inner man?

IV. Again, what eyes did He look for when He spake to those who saw
indeed, but who saw only with the eyes of the flesh? For when Philip
said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us": he
understood, indeed, that if the Father were shown him, it might well
suffice him; when He that was equal to the Father had sufficed not? And
why did He not suffice? Because He was not seen. And why was He not
seen? Because the eye whereby He might be seen was not yet whole. For
this, namely, that the Lord was seen in the flesh with the outward eyes,
not only the disciples who honored Him saw, but also the Jews who
crucified Him. He, then, who wished to be seen in another way, sought
for other eyes. And, therefore, it was that to him who said, "Show us
the Father, and it sufficeth us," He answered, "Have I been so long time
with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He who hath seen Me
hath seen the Father also." And that He might in the meanwhile heal the
eyes of faith, He has first of all given him instructions regarding
faith, that so he might attain to sight. And lest Philip should think
that he was to conceive of God under the same form in which he then saw
the Lord Jesus Christ in the body, he immediately subjoined, "Believest
thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" He had already
said, "He who hath seen me hath seen the Father also." But Philip's eye
was not yet sound enough to see the Father, nor, consequently, to see
the Son, who is Himself coequal with the Father. And so Jesus Christ
took in hand to cure, and with the medicine and salve of faith to
strengthen the eyes of his mind, which as yet were weak and unable to
behold so great a light, and He said, "Believest thou not that I am in
the Father, and the Father in Me?" Let not him, then, who can not yet
see what the Lord will one day show him, seek first to see what he is to
believe; but let him first believe that the eye by which he is to see
may be healed. For it was only the form of the servant which was
exhibited to the eyes of servants; because if "He who thought it not
robbery to be equal with God" could have been now seen as equal with God
by those whom He wished to be healed, He would not have needed to empty
Himself and to take the form of a servant. But because there was no way
whereby God could be seen, but whereby man could be seen there was;
therefore, He who was God was made man, that that which was seen might
heal that whereby He was not seen. For He saith Himself in another
place, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Philip
might, of course, have answered and said, Lord, do I see Thee? Is the
Father such as I see Thee to be? Forasmuch as Thou hast said, "He who
hath seen Me hath seen the Father also?" But before Philip answered
thus, or perhaps before he so much as thought it, when the Lord had
said, "He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father also," He immediately
added, "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in
me?" For with that eye he could not yet see either the Father, or the
Son who is equal with the Father; but that his eye might be healed for
seeing, he was anointed unto believing. So, then, before thou seest what
thou canst not now see, believe what as yet thou seest not. "Walk by
faith," that thou mayest attain to sight. Sight will not gladden him in
his home whom faith consoleth not by the way. For, so says the apostle,
"As long as we are in the body we are absent from the Lord." And he
subjoins immediately why we are still "absent or in pilgrimage," tho we
have now believed; "For we walk by faith," he says; "not by sight."

V. Our whole business, then, brethren, in this life is to heal this eye
of the heart whereby God may be seen. To this end are celebrated the
Holy Mysteries; to this end is preached the Word of God; to this end are
the moral exhortations of the Church, those, that is, that relate to the
corrections of manners, to the amendment of carnal lusts, to the
renouncing the world, not in word only, but in a change of life: to this
end is directed the whole aim of the Divine and Holy Scriptures, that
that inner man may be purged of that which hinders us from the sight of
God. For as the eye which is formed to see this temporal light, a light
tho heavenly yet corporeal, and manifest, not to men only, but even to
the meanest animals (for this the eye is formed to this light); if
anything be thrown or falls into it, whereby it is disordered, is shut
out from this light; and tho it encompasses the eye with its presence,
yet the eye turns itself away from, and is absent from it; and tho its
disordered condition is not only rendered absent from the light which is
present, but the light to see which it was formed is even painful to it,
so the eye of the heart too, when it is disordered and wounded, turns
away from the light of righteousness, and dares not and can not
contemplate it.

VI. And what is it that disorders the eye of the heart? Evil desire,
covetousness, injustice, worldly concupiscence; these disorder, close,
blind the eye of the heart. And yet, when the eye of the body is out of
order, how is the physician sought out, what an absence of all delay to
open and cleanse it, that they may be healed whereby this outward light
is seen! There is running to and fro, no one is still, no one loiters,
if even the smallest straw fall into the eye. And God, it must be
allowed, made the sun which we desire to see with sound eyes. Much
brighter, assuredly, is He who made it; nor is the light with which the
eye of the mind is concerned of this kind at all. That light is eternal
wisdom. God made thee, O man, after His own image. Would He give thee
wherewithal to see the sun which He made, and not give thee wherewithal
to see Him who made thee, when He made thee after His own image? He hath
given thee this also; both hath He given thee. But much thou dost love
these outward eyes, and despisest much that interior eye; it thou dost
carry about bruised and wounded. Yea, it would be a punishment to, if
thy Maker should wish to manifest Himself unto thee, it would be a
punishment to thine eye, before that it is cured and healed. For so Adam
in Paradise sinned, and hid himself from the face of God. As long, then,
as he had the sound heart of a pure conscience, he rejoiced at the
presence of God; when that eye was wounded by sin, he began to dread the
divine light, he fled back into the darkness, and the thick covert of
trees, flying from the truth, and anxious for the shade.

VII. Therefore, my brethren, since we too are born of him, and as the
apostle says, "In Adam all die"; for we were all at first two persons;
if we were loath to obey the physician, that we might not be sick; let
us obey Him now, that we may be delivered from sickness. The Physician
gave us precepts, when we were whole; He gave us precepts that we might
not need a physician. "They that are whole," He saith, "need not a
physician, but they that are sick." When whole, we despised these
precepts, and by experience have felt how to our own destruction we
despised His precepts. Now we are sick, we are in distress, we are on
the bed of weakness; yet let us not despair. For because we could not
come to the Physician, He hath vouchsafed to come Himself to us. Tho
despised by man when he was whole, He did not despise him when he was
stricken. He did not leave off to give other precepts to the weak, who
would not keep the first precepts, that he might not be weak; as tho He
would say, "Assuredly thou hast by experience felt that I spoke the
truth when I said, Touch not this. Be healed then now, at length, and
recover the life thou hast lost. Lo, I am bearing thine infirmity; drink
then the bitter cup. For thou hast of thine own self made those my so
sweet precepts, which were given to thee when whole, so toilsome. They
were despised, and so thy distress began; cured thou canst not be,
except thou drink the bitter cup, the cup of temptations, wherein this
life abounds, the cup of tribulation, anguish, and suffering. Drink
then," He says, "drink, that thou mayest live." And that the sick man
may not make answer, "I can not, I can not bear it, I will not drink";
the Physician, all whole tho He be, drinketh first, that the sick man
may not hesitate to drink. For what bitterness is there in this cup
which He hath not drunk? If it be contumely, He heard it first when He
drove out the devils. "He hath a devil, and by Beelzebub He casteth out
devils." Whereupon, in order to comfort the sick, He saith, "If they
have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they
call them of His household?" If pains are this bitter cup, He was bound,
and scourged, and crucified. If death be this bitter cup, He died also.
If infirmity shrink with horror from any particular kind of death, none
was at that time more ignominious than the death of the cross. For it
was not in vain, that the apostle, when setting forth His obedience,
added, "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

VIII. But because He designed to honor His faithful ones at the end of
the world, He hath first honored the cross in this world; in such wise
that the princes of the earth who believe in Him have prohibited any
criminal from being crucified; and that cross which the Jewish
persecutors with great mockery prepared for the Lord, even kings, His
servants, at this day, bear with great confidence on their foreheads.
Only the shameful nature of the death which our Lord vouchsafed to
undergo for us is not now so apparent, Who, as the apostle says, "Was
made a curse for us." And when, as He hung, the blindness of the Jews
mocked Him, surely He could have come down from the cross, who, if He
had not so willed, had not been on the cross; but it was a greater thing
to rise from the grave than to come down from the cross. Our Lord, then,
in doing these divine and in suffering these human things, instructs us
by His bodily miracles and bodily patience, that we may believe and be
made whole to behold those things invisible which the eye of the body
hath no knowledge of. With this intent, then, He cured those blind men
of whom the account has just now been read in the Gospel. And consider
what instruction He has by this cure conveyed to the man who is sick
within.

IX. Consider the issue of the thing, and the order of the circumstances.
Those two blind men sitting by the wayside cried out, as the Lord passed
by, that He would have mercy upon them. But they were restrained from
crying out by the multitude which was with the Lord. Now do not suppose
that this circumstance is left without a mysterious meaning. But they
overcame the crowd who kept them back by the great perseverance of their
cry, that their voice might reach the Lord's ears; as tho he had not
already anticipated their thoughts. So then the two blind men cried out
that they might be heard by the Lord, and could not be restrained by the
multitude. The Lord "was passing by," and they cried out. The Lord
"stood still," and they were healed. "For the Lord Jesus stood still,
and called them, and said, What wilt ye that I shall do unto you? They
say unto Him, That our eyes may be opened." The Lord did according to
their faith, He recovered their eyes. If we have now understood by the
sick, the deaf, the dead, the sick, and deaf, and dead within; let us
look out in this place also for the blind within. The eyes of the heart
are closed; Jesus passeth by that we may cry out. What is meant by
"Jesus passeth by?" Jesus is doing things which last but for a time.
What is meant by "Jesus passeth by?" Jesus doth things which pass by.
Mark and see how many things of His have passed by. He was born of the
Virgin Mary; is He being born always? As an infant He was suckled; is He
suckled always? He ran through the successive ages of life until man's
full estate; doth He grow in body always? Boyhood succeeded to infancy,
to boyhood youth, to youth man's full stature in several passing
successions. Even the very miracles which He did are passed by; they are
read and believed. For because these miracles are written that so they
might be read, they passed by when they were being done. In a word, not
to dwell long on this, He was crucified; is He hanging on the cross
always? He was buried, He rose again, He ascended into heaven, now He
dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him. And His divinity
abideth ever, yea, the immortality of His body now shall never fail. But
nevertheless all those things which were wrought by Him in time have
passed by; and they are written to be read, and they are preached to be
believed. In all these things, then, Jesus passeth by.

X. And what are the two blind men by the wayside but the two people to
cure whom Jesus came? Let us show these two people in the Holy
Scriptures. It is written in the Gospel, "Other sheep I have which are
not of this fold; them also must I bring, that there may be one fold and
one Shepherd." Who then are the two people? One the people of the Jews,
and the other of the Gentiles. "I am not sent," He saith, "but unto the
lost sheep of the house of Israel." To whom did He say this? To the
disciples; when that woman of Canaan, who confest herself to be a dog,
cried out that she might be found worthy of the crumbs from the Master's
table. And because she was found worthy, now were the two people to whom
He had come made manifest, the Jewish people, to wit, of whom He said,
"I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel"; and the
people of the Gentiles, whose type this woman exhibited, whom He had
first rejected, saying, "It is not meet to cast the children's bread to
the dogs"; and to whom, when she said, "Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of
the crumbs which fall from their master's table," He answered, "O woman,
great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt." For of this
people also was that centurion of whom the same Lord saith, "Verily I
say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,"
because he had said, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my
roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." So then
the Lord even before His passion and glorification pointed out two
people, the one to whom He had come because of the promises to the
Fathers, and the other whom for His mercy's sake He did not reject; that
it might be fulfilled which had been promised to Abraham, "In thy seed
shall all the nations be blessed."

XI. Attend, now, dearly beloved. The Lord was passing by, and the blind
men cried out. What is this "passing by?" As we have already said, He
was doing works which passed by. Now upon these passing works is our
faith built up. For we believe on the Son of God, not only in that He is
the Word of God, by whom all things were made; for if He had always
continued in the form of God, equal with God, and had not emptied
Himself in taking the form of a servant, the blind men would not even
have perceived Him, that they might be able to cry out. But when he
wrought passing works, that is, when He humbled Himself, having become
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, the two blind men
cried out, Have mercy on us, thou Son of David. For this very thing that
He, David's Lord and Creator, willed also to be David's son, He wrought
in time, He wrought passing by.

XII. Now what is it, brethren, to cry out unto Christ, but to correspond
to the grace of Christ by good works? This I say, brethren, lest haply
we cry aloud with our voices, and in our lives be dumb. Who is he that
crieth out to Christ, that his inward blindness may be driven away by
Christ as He is passing by, that is, as He is dispensing to us those
temporal sacraments, whereby we are instructed to receive the things
which are eternal? Who is he that crieth out unto Christ? Whoso
despiseth the world, crieth out unto Christ. Whoso despiseth the
pleasures of the world, crieth out unto Christ. Whoso saith, not with
his tongue but with his life, the world is crucified unto me, and I unto
the world, crieth out unto Christ. Whoso disperseth abroad and giveth to
the poor, that his righteousness may endure forever, crieth out unto
Christ. For let him that hears, and is not deaf to the sound, sell that
ye have, and give to the poor; provide yourselves bags which wax not
old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not; let him as he hears the
sound as it were of Christ's footsteps passing by cry out in response to
this in his blindness; that is, let him do these things. Let his voice
be in his actions. Let him begin to despise the world, to distribute to
the poor his goods, to esteem as nothing worth what other men love, let
him disregard injuries, not seek to be avenged, let him give his cheek
to the smiter, let him pray for his enemies; if any one who have taken
away his goods, let him not ask for them again; if he have taken
anything from any man, let him restore fourfold.

XIII. When he shall begin to do all this, all his kinsmen, relations,
and friends will be in commotion. They who love the world will oppose
him. What madness this! You are too extreme! What! Are not other men
Christians? This is folly, this is madness. And other such like things
do the multitude; cry out to prevent the blind from crying out. The
multitude rebuked them as they cried out; but did not overcome their
cries. Let them who wish to be healed understand what they have to do.
Jesus is now also passing by; let them who are by the wayside cry out.
These are they, who know God with their lips, but their heart is far
from Him. These are by the wayside, to whom, as blinded in heart, Jesus
gave His precepts. For when those passing things which Jesus did are
recounted, Jesus is always represented to us as passing by. For even
unto the end of the world there will not be wanting blind men sitting by
the wayside. Need then there is that they who sit by the wayside should
cry out. The multitude that was with the Lord would repress the crying
of those who were seeking for recovery. Brethren, do you see my meaning?
For I know not how to speak, but still less do I know how to be silent.
I will speak then, and speak plainly. For I fear Jesus passing by and
Jesus standing still; and therefore I can not keep silence. Evil and
unknown Christians hinder good Christians who are truly earnest and wish
to do the commandments of God, which are written in the Gospel. This
multitude which is with the Lord hinders those who are crying out,
hinders those, that is, who are doing well, that they may not by
perseverance be healed. But let them cry out, and not faint; let them
not be led away as if by the authority of numbers; let them not imitate
those who become Christians before them, who live evil lives themselves,
and are jealous of the good deeds of others. Let them not say, "Let us
live as these so many live." Why not rather as the Gospel ordains? Why
dost thou wish to live according to the remonstrances of the multitude
who would hinder them, and not after the steps of the Lord who passeth
by? They will mock, and abuse, and call thee back; do thou cry out till
thou reach the ears of Jesus. For they who shall persevere in doing such
things as Christ hath enjoined, and regard not the multitude that hinder
them, nor think much of their appearing to follow Christ, that is of
their being called Christians; but who love the light which Christ is
about to restore to them more than they fear the uproar of those who are
hindering them; they shall on no account be separated from Him, and
Jesus will stand still, and make them whole.

XIV. For how are our eyes made whole? That as by faith we perceive
Christ passing by in the temporal economy, so we may attain to the
knowledge of Him as standing still in His unchangeable eternity. For
there is the eye made whole when the knowledge of Christ's divinity is
attained. Let your love apprehend this; attend ye to the great mystery
which I am to speak of. All the things which were done by our Lord Jesus
Christ, in time, graft faith in us. We believe on the Son of God, not
on the word only, by whom all things were made; but on this very word,
"made flesh that He might dwell among us"; who was born of the Virgin
Mary; and the rest which the Faith contains, and which are represented
to us that Christ might pass by, and that the blind, hearing His
footsteps as He passeth by, might by their works cry out, by their life
exemplifying the profession of their faith. But now in order that they
who cry out may be made whole, Jesus standeth still. For he saw Jesus
now standing still, who says, "Though we have known Christ after the
flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more." For he saw Christ's
divinity as far as in this life is possible. There is then in Christ the
divinity, and the humanity. The divinity standeth still, the humanity
passeth by. What means "the divinity standeth still?" It changeth not,
is not shaken, doth not depart away. For He did not so come to us as to
depart from the Father; nor did He so ascend as to change His place.
When He assumed flesh, it changed place; but God assuming flesh, seeing
He is not in place, doth not change His place. Let us then be touched by
Christ standing still, and so our eyes be made whole. But whose eyes?
The eyes of those who cry out when He is passing by; that is, who do
good works through that faith which hath been dispersed in time, to
instruct in our infancy.

XV. Now what thing more precious can we have than the eye made whole?
They rejoice who see this created light which shines from heaven, or
even that which is given out from a lamp. And how wretched do they seem
who can not see this light? But wherefore do I speak, and talk of all
these things, but to exhort you all to cry out, when Jesus passeth by. I
hold up this light which perhaps ye do not see as an object of love to
you, holy brethren. Believe, while as yet ye see it not; and cry out
that ye may see. How great is thought to be the unhappiness of men who
do not see this bodily light? Does any one become blind; immediately it
is said: "God is angry with him, he has committed some wicked deed." So
said Tobias's wife to her husband. He cried out because of the kid, lest
it had come of theft; he did not like to hear the sound of any stolen
thing in his house; and she, maintaining what she had done, reproached
her husband; and when he said, "Restore it if it be stolen"; she
answered insultingly, "Where are thy righteous deeds?" How great was her
blindness who maintaineth the theft; and how clear a light he saw, who
commanded the stolen thing to be restored! She rejoiced outwardly in the
light of the sun; he inwardly in the light of righteousness. Which of
them was in the better light?

XVI. It is to the love of this light that I would exhort you, beloved;
that ye would cry out by your works, when the Lord passeth by; let the
voice of faith sound out, that Jesus was standing still, that is, the
unchangeable, abiding wisdom of God, and the majesty of the Word of God,
by which all things were made, may open your eyes. The same Tobias, in
giving advice to his son, instructed him to this, to cry out; that is,
he instructed him to good works. He told him to give to the poor,
charged him to give alms to the needy, and taught him, saying, "My son,
alms suffereth not to come into darkness." The blind gave counsel for
receiving and gaining sight. "Alms," saith he, "suffereth not to come
into darkness." Had his son in astonishment answered him, "What then,
father, hast thou not given alms, that thou speakest to me in blindness;
art not thou in darkness, and yet thou dost say to me, Alms suffereth
not to come into darkness?" But no, he knew well what the light was
concerning which he gave his son instruction, he knew well what he saw
in the inner man. The son held out his hand to his father, to enable him
to dwell in heaven.

XVII. To be brief; that I may conclude this sermon, brethren, with a
matter which touches me very nearly, and gives me much pain, see what
crowds there are which rebuke the blind as they cry out. But let them
not deter you. Whosoever among this crowd desire to be healed; for
there are many Christians in name, and in works ungodly; let them not
deter you from good works. Cry out amid the crowds that are restraining
you, and calling you back, and insulting you, whose lives are evil. For
not only by their voices, but by evil works, do wicked Christians
repress the good. A good Christian has no wish to attend the public
shows. In this very thing, that he bridles his desire of going to the
theater, he cries out after Christ, cries out to be healed. Others run
together thither, but perhaps they are heathens or Jews? Ah! indeed, if
Christians went not to the theaters, there would be so few people there
that they would go away for very shame. So then Christians run thither
also, bearing the Holy Name only to their condemnation. Cry out then by
abstaining from going, by repressing in thy heart this worldly
concupiscence; hold on with a strong and persevering cry unto the ears
of the Savior, that Jesus may stand still and heal thee. Cry out amid
the very crowds, despair not of reaching the ears of the Lord. For the
blind man in the Gospel did not cry out in that quarter where no crowd
was, that so they might be heard in that direction, where there was no
impediment from persons hindering them. Amid the very crowds they cried
out; and yet the Lord heard them. And so also do ye even amid sinners,
and sensual men, amid the lovers of the vanities of the world, there
cry out that the Lord may heal you. Go not to another quarter to cry out
unto the Lord, go not to heretics and cry out unto Him there. Consider,
brethren, how in that crowd which was hindering them from crying out,
even there they who cried out were made whole.




WYCLIF

CHRIST'S REAL BODY NOT IN THE EUCHARIST


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

John Wyclif, eminent as scholar, preacher, and translator, was born in
1324 in Spresswel, near Richmond, Yorkshire, England. Known as the
"Morning Star of the Reformation" he was a vigorous and argumentative
speaker, exemplifying his own definition of preaching as something which
should be "apt, apparent, full of true feeling, fearless in rebuking
sins, and so addrest to the heart as to enlighten the spirit and subdue
the will." On these lines he organized a band of Bible preachers who
worked largely among the common people.

Much of Wyclif's popularity was due to his clear and simple style. While
not a great orator, he introduced a popular method of preaching that was
widely copied. He died at Lutterworth in 1384. The Church considered him
a heretic, for he taught the right of the individual to form his own
opinions after personal study of the Scriptures. He was the first
Englishman to translate the Bible systematically into his native
Anglo-Saxon. In 1428, by order of Pope Martin V, his bones were exhumed
and burned, and the ashes thrown into the river Swale.



WYCLIF
1324-1384

CHRIST'S REAL BODY NOT IN THE EUCHARIST

_This is my body_.--Matt. xxvi., 26.


Now understand ye the words of our Savior Christ, as He spake them one
after another--as Christ spake them. For He took bread and blest, and
yet what blest He? The Scripture saith not that Christ took the bread
and blest it, or that He blest the bread which He had taken. Therefore
it seemeth more that He blest His disciples and apostles, whom He had
ordained witnesses of His passion; and in them He left His blest word,
which is the bread of life, as it is written, "Not only in bread liveth
man, but in every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Also
Christ saith, "I am the bread of life that came down from heaven." And
Christ saith also in John, "The words that I have spoken to you are
spirit and life." Therefore it seemeth more that He blest His disciples,
and also His apostles, in whom the bread of life was left more than in
material bread, for the material bread hath an end. As it is written in
the Gospel of Matthew xv. that Christ said, "All things that a man
eateth go down into the belly, and are sent down into the draught;" but
the blessing of Christ kept His disciples and apostles, both bodily and
[ghostly] spiritual. As it is written, that none of them perished but
the son of perdition, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, and often
the Scripture saith that Jesus took bread and brake it, and gave it to
his disciples, and said, "Take ye, eat ye, this is my body that shall be
given for you." But He said not this bread is my body, or that bread
should be given for the life of the world. For Christ saith, What and if
ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? "It is the
Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing." Also Christ saith
in the Gospel, "Verily, verily I say unto you except the wheat corn fall
into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth
forth much fruit"

Here men may see by the words of Christ that it behooved that He died in
the flesh, and that in His death was made the fruit of everlasting life
for all them that believe on Him, as it is written "For as by Adam they
all die, even so by Christ shall all live, and every man in his own
order; for as one clearness is in the sun, another in the moon, and a
star in clearness is nothing in comparison to the sun; even so is the
rising again of the dead for we are sown in corruption and shall rise
again incorruptible, we are sown in infirmity, and shall rise again in
strength; we are sown in natural bodies, and shall rise again spiritual
bodies." Then if Christ shall change thus our deadly bodies by death,
and God the Father spared not his own Son, as it is written, but that
death should reign in him as in us, and that he should be translated
into a spiritual body, as the first rising again of dead men; then how
say the hypocrites that take on them to make our Lord's body? Make they
the glorified body? Either make they again the spiritual body which is
risen from death to life or make they the fleshy body as it was before
he suffered death? And if they say also that they make the spiritual
body of Christ, it may not be so, for what Christ said and did, He did
as He was at supper before He suffered His passion; as it is written
that the spiritual body of Christ rose again from death to life. Also
that He ascended up to heaven, and that He will abide there till He come
to judge the quick and the dead. And if they say that they make Christ's
body as it was before He had suffered His passion, then must they needs
grant that Christ is to die yet. For by all Holy Scriptures He was
promised to die, and that He should give lordship of everlasting life.

Furthermore, if they say that Christ made His body of bread, I ask, With
what words made He it? Not with these words, _Hoc est corpus meum_;
that is to say in English, "This is my body," for they are the words of
giving, and not of making, which He said after that He brake the bread;
then parting it among His disciples and apostles. Therefore if Christ
had made of that bread His body, [He] had made it in His blessing, or
else in giving of thanks, and not in the words of giving; for if Christ
had spoken of the material bread that He had in His hands when He said,
_Hoc est corpus meum_, "This is my body," it was made before, or else
the word had been a lie. For if I say, This is my hand, and if it be not
a hand, then am I a liar; therefore seek carefully if ye can find two
words of blessing, or of giving of thanks, wherewith Christ made his
body and blood of the bread and wine. And that all the clerks of the
earth know not, for if ye might find or know those words, then should ye
wax great masters above Christ, and then ye might be givers of His
substance, and as fathers and makers of Him, and that He should worship
you, as it is written, Thou shalt worship thy father and mother. Of such
as desire such worship against God's law, speaketh St. Paul of the man
of sin, that enhanceth himself as if he were God. And he is worshiped
over all things as God, and showeth himself as he were God. Where our
clergy are guilty in this, judge ye or they that know most, for they say
that when ye have said, _Hoc est corpus meum_, that is to say, "This is
my body;" which ye call the words of consecration, or else of making;
and when they are said over the bread, ye say that there is left no
bread, but it is the body of the Lord. So that in the bread there
remaineth nothing but a heap of accidents, as witness ruggedness,
roundness, savor, touching, and tasting, and such other accidents. Then,
if thou sayest that the flesh and blood of Christ, that is to say, his
manhood, is made more, or increased by so much as the ministration of
bread and wine is, the which ye minister--if ye say it is so--then thou
must needs consent that the thing which is not God today shall be God
tomorrow; yea, and that the thing which is without spirit of life, but
groweth in the field by kind, shall be God at another time. And we all
ought to believe that He was without beginning, and without ending; and
not made, for if the manhood of Christ were increased every day by so
much as the bread and wine draweth to that ye minister, He should
increase more in one day by cart-loads than He did in thirty-two years
when He was here in earth.

And if thou makest the body of the Lord in those words, _Hoc est corpus
meum_; that is to say, "This is my body"; and if thou mayest make the
body of the Lord in those words, "This is my body," thou thyself must be
the person of Christ, or else there is a false God; for if it be thy
body as thou sayest, then it is the body of a false knave or of a
drunken man, or of a thief, or of a lecherer, or full of other sins, and
then there is an unclean body for any man to worship for God! For even
if Christ had made there His body of material bread in the said words,
as I know they are not the words of making, what earthly man had power
to do as He did? For in all Holy Scripture, from the beginning of
Genesis to the end of the Apocalypse, there are no words written of the
making of Christ's body; but there are written that Christ was the Son
of the Father, and that He was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and that he
took flesh and blood of the Virgin Mary, and that He was dead, and that
He rose again from death on the third day, and that He ascended to
heaven very God and man, and that we should believe in all Scriptures
that are written of Him, and that He is to come to judge the quick and
the dead, and that the same Christ Jesus, King and Savior, was at the
beginning with the Father and the Holy Ghost, making all things of
naught, both heaven and earth, and all things that are therein; working
by word of His virtue, for He said, Be it done, and it was done, whose
works never earthly man might comprehend, either make. And yet the words
of the making of these things are written in the beginning of Genesis,
even as God spake them; and if ye can not make the work that He made,
and have the word by which He made it, how shall ye make Him that made
the works? You have no words of authority or power left you on earth by
which ye should do this, but ye have feigned this craft of your false
errors, which some of you understand not; for it is prophesied, "They
shall have eyes and see not, and ears and hear not; and shall see
prophesies, and shall not understand, less they be converted; for I hide
them from the hearts of those people; their hearts are greatly fatted."
And this thing is done to you for the wickedness of your errors in
unbelief; therefore be ye converted from the worst sin, as it is
written, "When Moses was in the hill with God," the people made a calf
and worshiped it as God. And God spake to Moses, "Go, for the people
have done the worst sin to make and worship alien gods."

But now I shall ask you a word; answer ye me, Whether is the body of the
Lord made at once or at twice? Is it both the flesh and the blood in the
host of the bread; or else is the flesh made at one time, and the blood
made at another time; that is to say, the wine in the chalice? If thou
wilt say it is full and wholly the manhood of Christ in the host of
bread, both flesh and blood, skin, hair, and bones, then makest thou us
to worship a false god in the chalice, which is unconjured when ye
worship the bread; and if ye say the flesh is in the bread, and the
blood in the wine, then thou must grant, if thy craft be true, as it is
not indeed, that the manhood of Christ is parted, and that He is made at
two times. For first thou takest the host of bread, or a piece of bread,
and makest it as ye say, and the innocent people worship it. And then
thou takest to thee the chalice, and likewise marrest, makest, I would
have said, the blood in it, and then they worship it also, and if it be
so as I am sure that the flesh and blood of Christ ascended, then are ye
false harlots to God and to us; for when we shall be houselled ye bring
to us the dry flesh, and let the blood be away; for ye give us after the
bread, wine and water, and sometimes clean water unblest, or rather
conjured, by the virtue of your craft; and yet ye say, under the host of
bread is the full manhood of Christ. Then by your own confession must it
needs be that we worship a false god in the chalice, which is unconjured
when we worship the bread, and worship the one as the other; but where
find ye that ever Christ or any of His disciples taught any man to
worship this bread or wine?

Therefore, what shall we say of the apostles that were so much with
Christ, and were called by the Holy Ghost; had they forgotten to set it
in the creed when they made it, which is Christian men's belief? Or else
we might say that they knew no such God, for they believe in no more
gods but in Him that was at the beginning, and made of naught all
things visible and invisible, which Lord took flesh and blood, being in
the Virgin, the same God. But ye have many false ways, to beguile the
innocent people with sleights of the fiend.

For ye say that in every host each piece is the whole manhood of Christ,
or full substance of Him. For ye say as a man may take a glass, and
break the glass into many pieces, and in every piece properly thou
mayest see thy face, and yet thy face is not parted; so ye say the
Lord's body is in each host or piece, and His body is not parted. And
this is a full subtle question to beguile an innocent fool, but will ye
take heed of this subtle question, how a man may take a glass and behold
the very likeness of his own face, and yet it is not his face, but the
likeness of his face; for if it were his very face, then he must needs
have two faces, one on his body and another in the glass. And if the
glass were broken in many places, so there should be many faces more by
the glass than by the body, and each man shall make as many faces to
them as they would; but as ye may see the mind or likeness of your face,
which is not the very face; but the figure thereof, so the bread is the
figure or mind of Christ's body in earth, and therefore Christ said, As
oft as ye do this thing do it in mind of me.

Also ye say this, As a man may light many candles at one candle, and
yet the light of that candle is never the more nor ever the less; so ye
say that the manhood of Christ descendeth into each part of every host,
and the manhood of Christ is never the more nor less. Where then
becometh your ministrations? For if a man light many candles at one
candle, as long as they burn there will be many candles lighted, and as
well the last candle as the first; and so by this reason, if ye shall
fetch your word at God, and make God, there must needs be many gods, and
that is forbidden in the first commandment, Exod. xx. And as for making
more, either making less, of Christ's manhood, it lieth not in your
power to come there nigh, neither to touch it, for it is ascended into
heaven in a spiritual body, which He suffered not Mary Magdalen to
touch, when her sins were forgiven to her.

Therefore all the sacraments that are left here in earth are but minds
of the body of Christ, for a sacrament is no more to say but a sign or
mind of a thing passed, or a thing to come; for when Jesus spake of the
bread, and said to His disciples, As ye do this thing, do it in mind of
me, it was set for a mind of good things passed of Christ's body; but
when the angel showed to John the sacraments of the woman and of the
beast that bare her, it was set for a mind of evil things to come on the
face of the earth, and great destroying of the people of God. And in
the old law there were many figures or minds of things to come. For
before Christ, circumcision was commanded by a law; and he that kept not
the law was slain. And yet St. Paul saith, "And neither is it
circumcision that is openly in the flesh, but he that is circumcised of
heart in spirit, not the letter whose praising is not of men, but of
God." Peter saith in the third chapter of his epistle, "And so baptism
of like form maketh not us safe, but the putting away of the filthiness
of the flesh, and the having of good conscience in God by the rising
again of our Lord Jesus Christ from death, that we should be made heirs
of everlasting life, He went up into heaven, and angels, and powers, and
virtues, are made subjects to Him."

And also the Scripture saith of John Baptist, that he preached in the
wilderness and said, "A stronger than I shall come after me, and I am
not worthy to kneel down and unlace His shoe;" and yet Christ said that
he was more than a prophet. See also Isaiah xl., Matt. xi. How may ye
then say that ye are worthy to make His body, and yet your works bear
witness that ye are less than the prophets? for if ye were not, ye
should not teach the people to worship the sacraments or minds of Christ
for Christ himself; which sacraments or figures are lawful as God taught
them and left them unto us, as the sacrifices or minds of the old law
were full good. As it is written, "They that kept them should live in
them." And so the bread that Christ brake was left to us for mind of
things passed for the body of Christ, that we should believe He was a
very man in kind as we are, but as God in power, and that His manhood
was sustained by food as ours. For St. Paul saith He was very man, and
in form he was found as man. And so we must believe that He was very God
and very man together, and that He ascended up very God and very man to
heaven, and that He shall be there till He come to doom the world. And
we may not see him bodily, being in this life, as it is written, Peter i.,
for he saith, "Whom ye have not seen ye love, into whom ye now not
seeing believe." And John saith in the first chapter of his Gospel, "No
man saw God; none but the only begotten Son that is in the bosom of the
Father, He hath told it out." And John saith in his first epistle, the
third chapter, "Every man that sinneth seeth not him, neither knoweth
him." By what reason then say ye that are sinners that ye make God?
truly this must needs be the worst sin, to say that ye make God, and it
is the abomination of discomfort that is said in Daniel the prophet to
be standing in the holy place; he that readeth let him understand.

Also Luke saith that Christ took the cup after that He had supped, and
gave thanks and said, "This cup is the new testament in my blood that
shall be shed unto the remission of sins for man." Now, what say ye; the
cup which He said was the new testament in His blood, was it a material
cup in which the wine was that He gave his disciples wine of, or was it
His most blest body in which the blest blood was kept till it was shed
out for the sins of them that should be made safe by His passion? Needs
must we say that He spake of His holy body, as He did when He called His
passion or suffering in body a cup, when He prayed to His father, before
He went to His passion, and said, "If it be possible that this cup pass
from me, but if thou wilt that I drink it, thy will be done?" He spake
not here of the material cup in which He had given His disciples drink;
for it troubled not Him, but He prayed for His great sufferance and
bitter death, the which He suffered for our sins and not for His own.
And if He spake of His holy body and passion when He said, "This cup is
the new testament in my blood," so He spake of His holy body when He
said, "This is my body which shall be given for you," and not of the
material bread which He had in His hand. Also in another place He called
His passion a cup, where the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him, and
asked of Him that her two sons, when He came to His kingdom, might sit
one on His right, and one at His left side. And He answered and said,
"Woman, thou wottest not what thou asketh; then He said to them, May ye
drink of the cup that I shall drink? and they said, Yea, Lord. And He
said, Ye shall drink of my cup, but to sit on my right hand or left hand
it is not mine to give, but to the Father it is proper." But in that He
said, Ye shall drink of my cup, He promised them to suffer tribulation
of this world as He did, by the which they should enter into life
everlasting, and to be both on his right hand. And thus ye may see that
Christ spake not of the material cup, neither of himself, nor of his
apostles, neither of material bread, neither of material wine. Therefore
let every man wisely, with meek prayers, and great study, and also
charity, read the words of God and holy Scriptures; but many of you are
like the mother of Zebedee's sons to whom Christ said, "Thou knowest not
what thou askest." So, many of you know not what ye ask, nor what you
do; for if ye did, ye would not blaspheme God as ye do, to set an alien
God instead of the living God. Also Christ saith, "I am a very vine;
wherefore then worship ye not the vine God, as ye do the bread? Wherein
was Christ a very vine, or wherein was the bread Christ's body, in
figurative speech, which is hidden to the understanding? Then if Christ
became not a material or an earthly vine, neither did a material vine
become His body. So neither the bread, material bread, was changed from
its substance to the flesh and blood of Christ."

Have ye not read in John the second, when Christ came into the temple,
they asked of Him what token He would show, that they might believe Him.
And He answered them, "Cast down this temple, and in three days I shall
raise it again;" which words were fulfilled in His rising again from
death; but when He said, "Undo this temple," in that that He said this,
they were in error, for they understood it fleshly, and had supposed
that He had spoken of the temple of Jerusalem, because He stood in it.
And therefore they accused Him at His passion full falsely. For He spake
of the temple of His blest body, which rose again in the third day. And
right so Christ spake of His holy body when He said, "This is my body
which shall be given for you," which was given to death, and to rising
again to bliss, for all that shall be saved by him. But like as they
accused him falsely of the temple of Jerusalem, so now a days they
accuse falsely against Christ, and say that Christ spake of the bread
that He brake among His apostles; for in that Christ said this, they are
deceived, take it fleshly, and turn it to the material bread, as the
Jews did to the temple; and on this false understanding they make
abomination of discomfort, as is said by Daniel the prophet, and in
Matthew xxiv., to be standing in the holy place; he that readeth let him
understand.

Now, therefore, pray we heartily to God, that this evil may be made
short for the chosen men, as He hath promised in His blest Gospel; and
the large and broad way that leadeth to perdition may be stopt, and the
straight and narrow way that leadeth to bliss may be made open by Holy
Scriptures, that we may know which is the will of God, to serve Him in
truth and holiness in the dread of God, that we may find by Him a way of
bliss everlasting. So be it.




SAVONAROLA

THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Girolamo Savonarola was born at Ferrara in 1452, and was admitted in
1475 into the novitiate of the Dominican Order, where he soon made
himself conspicuous for eloquence, and in Florence attracted many
hearers by his diatribes against corruption. Florence, having lost its
independence as a republic, was completely under the sway of the Medici,
who became arrayed against Savonarola, who aimed at establishing an
ideal Christian commonwealth. When he attacked the Pope Alexander VI.
his doom was practically sealed. In 1495 he was forbidden to appear in
the pulpit, and four years later was excommunicated. He rebelled against
papal authority, but the people of Florence grew tired of the strict
rule of conduct imposed by his teaching, and he was imprisoned and tried
for heresy and sedition. On May 23, 1498, he was hanged and his body
burned. His puritanism, his bold rebuking of vice, his defiance of every
authority excepting that of his own conscience, seem to anticipate the
efforts made by Calvin to regenerate Geneva. Both men failed in their
splendid attempts at social reformation, but both left an example of
heroic altho somewhat short-sighted unselfishness, which has borne fruit
in history.



SAVONAROLA
1452--1498

THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST[1]

[Footnote 1: Reprinted by permission of Messrs. G.P. Putnam's Sons from
"The World's Orations," the translation having been copyrighted by
Messrs. Putnams.]

_While he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into
heaven_.--Luke xxiv., 51.


Beloved in Christ Jesus, the wise men of this world divide all created
things into two classes; one class they name substances, the other
accidents. The substances are those things that exist through themselves
without requiring anything else on which to rest, as the earth, water,
air, the heavens, animals, stones, plants, and similar things. The
accidents can not exist by themselves, but only by resting on something
else, as color, odor, taste, and other such things. But because our
knowledge is entirely through the senses, and we are able to know
anything only when its accidents fall upon our senses, we have,
therefore, knowledge of the accidents rather than of the substances. The
eyes are for colors, the ears for sounds, the nose for scents, the
tongue for flavors, the touch for heat and cold, for hard and soft. Each
sense has its own sphere of knowledge and brings what it has perceived
before the imagination, and this hands it over to the reason within,
which reads and illuminates the productions of the imagination, judges
them, and in this way comes to a knowledge of the substances. But the
reason has little light if it is separated from the body, for God has
joined soul and body together; and so by means of the senses knowledge
becomes definite and complete. For if the soul out of the body were
richer in knowledge, it would be in vain that it should be in the body.
God and nature have done nothing in vain, and therefore the soul's union
with the body ministers to its perfection.

The soul's knowledge, however, will not be complete so long as it lives
in this mortal body. It does not while here come to the fundamental
distinctions and causes of the substances, because it is obliged to know
the inner side of things through their externals. Therefore man is able
only imperfectly to know an incorporeal substance; how much less can he
know the uncreated infinite being of God? But if he can not know the
being of God, he will not be able to know many other infinite things
which are in Him. We ought therefore not to be surprized that there is
much in God which we can not understand, and that very many truths of
the faith we can not yet prove since we do not yet know everything. The
great God in His rich mercy saw our poor knowledge and came into our
flesh and assumed it that He might work for us, die, and rise again
from the dead; until after a life full of love He raised Himself above
the world of sense into His eternity. But so long as our Redeemer lived
with His apostles they loved too much that which they saw of Him,
because they were bound down to their senses, and were therefore unable
to rise to the knowledge of His Spirit. It was necessary that He should
disappear in the heavens that He might lift their souls far above the
world of sense up to Himself. Their natural powers could not do this;
therefore He gave to His elect a light from above. Ascending on high He
led captivity captive, for ascending into the heavens He took with Him
the prey which the devil had made of the soul of men ever since the fall
of our parents. The Lord has given gifts unto men (Eph. iv. 8), inasmuch
as He has imparted to them the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. Now they
leave everything of this world, and rise above by following Christ, who
gives to them for a light the light of faith. Let us speak this morning
of this faith which leads to the Savior.

"Awake thou that sleepest and Christ shall give thee light." Be not held
captive by flesh and sense, which hold thee fast in sleep; rise to
Christ, He will give thee light. See, His flesh is above. What do ye say
to that, ye wise men of this world? Everything that has weight tends
downward, but His flesh is of thy heart. Thou hast refused the service
of the Lord, who has ascended to prepare for thee the highest glory.

I call upon all men and women, all whose lives are ruined in sorrows and
troubles. What do ye fear? He who believes that Christ is above no
longer fears anything. Come then all ye into His service. Jesus reproved
the unbelief and the hard-heartedness of His disciples, because they did
not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. Without faith it
is impossible to please God. No doubt the apostles said: How can we
believe these women? But these women were of pure heart before God, and
therefore the Savior reproved His disciples. Ye deserve still sharper
reprimands. To the disciples a few women announced the news that He had
risen. Ye hear all this, and in addition all the glorious revelations in
which the Lord after this manifested Himself on earth. Why do ye not
come to serve Christ? Ye do not truly believe, because ye are so full of
sin, and despise God's commandments. Ye do not deserve the gift of
faith. He who has faith should show it in his deeds, that he may have
what he says he has, and may know what he has; namely, the certainty of
the divine word, which can not err, the goodness of God, and His
guidance into all goodness. On account of thy sins, thou hast not the
true light which would have enabled thee to see all goodness. Thou art
sunk in vice, drunken with greed and luxury, and all the works of this
world. Thou seekest only power and glory. And wherefore? If thou hadst
faith, thou wouldst not seek such things, for thou wouldst know that
faith would give thee a much higher crown. From these sins have come thy
unbelief and thy hardness of heart. Therefore the words of faith do not
touch thy heart: it is a heart of stone and iron. Throw off thy load of
sin and give thy will to righteousness; then will thy hard-heartedness
end, and God will bestow on thee the gift of faith. What wilt thou? Why
standest thou so uncertain and irresolute? Why dost thou not hasten to
Him, and see how He leaves thy life, how He goes into the heavens, to
which He bids thee come up. Leave at length thy sensual life and enter
the pathway of Christ. Hesitate no longer, begin to-day, put it not off
until to-morrow. If thou hast faith, thou canst not delay longer, and if
thy heart is right before God, He will give thee the light of faith
which will enable thee to distinguish the false from the true faith, and
so when on the right road not to fall into error. Then wilt thou know
for thyself that the Gospel makes good men out of those who truly
believe, and thine experience will tell thee that thou hast no occasion
to doubt.

A story from the Old Testament might perhaps serve as a parable and make
clearer what I mean. When Balak heard of Israel's march, he was afraid
and sent to call Balaam to curse Israel for him. Balaam set out on his
way with his ass, accompanied by an angel of the Lord, because Balaam
was going to Balak with an evil intention. The beast sought in vain to
turn into the field, and finally fell down between two walls, and
suffered under blows and curses, until the prophet saw the angel and
perceived his sin. Balak is the devil who would ruin the people of God;
by Balaam we can understand the nobles, the prelates, the preachers, the
learned, who are held captive by their arrogance. The two servants are
those who follow the proud, serve them, and flatter them, especially the
lazy clergy and monks, who so far as outward show goes live a virtuous
life, but who live for ceremonies and take care not to speak the truth.
To these belong many citizens who live apparently virtuously and hide
their pride. Because they commit no sins of the flesh which can be
noticed, they are full of piety in their outward ceremonies, but within
full of arrogance. These are the members of the devil, for the devil
neither eats, drinks, nor sleeps, he is neither a miser nor a wanton,
but is within full of pride as are these. By the ass we are to
understand the simple people. They are led in the way of sin by the
ceremonies of the lazy, since they are not thought fit for the worship
of the heart, and must be led by masses, penance, and indulgences, and
they throw away what might be of profit for money and for candles. The
lazy give them council in their sermons: Give some vestment, build a
chapel, and thou wilt be freed from any danger of going to hell. Do not
believe these mountebanks; no outward act can bring you to Paradise, not
even miracles and prophecy, but only the grace of God, if you have
humility and love.... Before the ass stood an angel with a sword. This
is Christ, who speaks to the ass: Walk no longer in the path of sin, for
I have ready for you a great scourge. The ass alone saw the angel; for
the simple first hear the word of the Lord, but Balaam and such as are
with him will hear nothing of it. The ass left the path of captivity and
went out into the field, into the way of the Lord. "For the kingdom of
heaven is like treasure hid in a field; which when a man found he sold
all that he had and bought that field." So the simple go into the holy
field of the Scriptures and say: "Let me look around a little, for the
flowers of this field bear fruit." Yea, our fathers, the prophets,
apostles, and martyrs bore fruit, they who died with joy for the truth.
These are they who go into the field and speak the truth in the face of
death. Come into the city, where the nobles and the masters taken
captive by sin crowd together, cry the lazy troop of monks: O fathers,
it would be well if when you spoke of these things, you touched not
this string, by which you allow yourselves to fall into disgrace and
disfavor. They have said that already to me. Our persecution begins if
we begin to preach. But Jesus was willing to die for the truth of what
He said; should we forsake the truth in order not to displease men? No,
we will say it in every way, and with Balaam's ass go into the field.

Think not that I am such a fool as to undertake these things without
good reason. I call heaven and earth to witness against me if I do not
speak the truth. For against all the world is my sermon; every one
contradicts it. If I go about with lies, then I have Christ against me;
therefore I have heaven and earth against me, and how then could I
stand? As such a trifler with holy things how should I dare rise up?
Believe me, I speak the truth, I have seen it with my eyes, and touched
it with my hands. Believe it! If I speak not the truth, I consign myself
body and soul to destruction; but I tell you I am certain of the truth,
and I would that all were as I am. I say that of the truth on which I
stand, not as tho I wished that others had my failings as well. So come
then into the service of Jesus; come to the truth, come here, I bid you.
Do ye not know how I explained the revelation of St. John? There were
many who said that I spoke too much in detail, and went too deep into
it. There stood the angel before the ass, and wanted it to go out into
the field, but Balaam smote it; and ye know not how much opposition I
must yet undergo. The lazy monks were the first who called me a fool and
revolutionist, and on the other side stood the weak and the simple, who
said in their innocent faith: "Oh, if we could only do what He teaches!"
Then I had war with the citizens and the great judges of this time, whom
my manner of preaching did not please. I was between two walls; the
angel warned me, threatening eternal death from this road, and I
received Balaam's blows. Ye know my persecution and my danger; but I
knew that I was on the way to victory and said always: No human being
can drive my cause from the world. Balaam, thou leanest thy foot against
the walls, but do as thou wilt, I will crush thy foot; I leaned on the
wall, on Christ, I leaned on His grace, I hoped; leave off thine anger
and threatening, thou canst not get me away from the wall. I say to all
of you: Come to the truth, forsake your vice and your malice, that I may
not have to tell you of your grief. I say it to you, O Italy, I say it
to you, O Rome, I say it to all of you; return and do penance. There
stands before you the holy truth; she can not fall; she can not bend or
give way; wait not until the blows fall.

In everything am I opprest; even the spiritual power is against me with
Peter's mighty key. Narrow is my path and full of trouble; like Balaam's
ass, I must throw myself on the ground and cry: "See, here I am; I am
ready to die for the truth." But when Balaam beat his fallen beast, it
said to him: "What have I done to thee?" So I say to you: "Come here and
tell me: what have I done to you? Why do you beat me? I have spoken the
truth to you; I have warned you to choose a virtuous life; I have led
many souls to Christ." But you answer: "Thou hast spoken evil of us,
therefore, thou shouldst suffer the stripes thou deservest." But I named
no one, I only blamed your vices in general. If you have sinned, be
angry with yourselves, not with me. I name none of you, but if the sins
I have mentioned are without question yours, then they and not I make
you known. As the smitten beast asked Balaam, so I ask you: "Tell me, am
I not your ass? and do you not know that I have been obedient to you up
to this very moment, that I have even done what my superiors have
commanded, and have always behaved myself peaceably?" You know this, and
because I am now so entirely different, you may well believe that a
great cause drives me to it. Many knew me as I was at first; if I
remained so I could have had as much honor as I wanted. I lived six
years among you, and now I speak otherwise, nevertheless I announce to
you the truth that is well known. You see in what sorrows and what
opposition I must now live, and I can say with Jeremiah: "O, my mother,
that thou hast borne me a man of strife and contention to the whole
earth!" But where is a father or a mother that can say I have led their
son into sin; one that can say I have ruined her husband or his wife?
Everybody knows my manner of life, therefore it is right for you to
believe that I speak the truth which everybody knows. You think that it
is impossible for a man to do what the faith I have preached tells him
to do: with God it would be easy for you.

The ass alone saw the angel, the others did not; so open your eyes.
Thank God, many have them open. You have seen many learned men whom you
thought wise, and they have withstood our cause: now they believe; many
noted masters who were hard and proud against us: now humility casts
them down. You have also seen many women turn from their vanity to
simplicity; vicious youths who are now improved and conduct themselves
in a new way. Many, indeed, have received this doctrine with humility.
That doctrine has stood firm, no matter how attacked with the intention
of showing that it was a doctrine opposed to Christ. God does that to
manifest His wisdom, to show how it finally overcomes all other wisdom.
And He is willing that His servants be spoken against that they may show
their patience and humility, and for the sake of His love not be afraid
of martyrdom.

O ye men and women, I bid you to this truth; let those who are in
captivity contradict you as much as they will, God will come and oppose
their pride. Ye proud, however, if you do not turn about and become
better, then will the sword and the pestilence fall upon you; with
famine and war will Italy be turned upside down. I foretell you this
because I am sure of it: if I were not, I would not mention it. Open
your eyes as Balaam opened his eyes when the angel said to him: "Had it
not been for thine ass, I would have slain thee." So I say to you, ye
captives: Had it not been for the good and their preaching, it would
have been wo unto you. Balaam said: "If this way is not good, I will
return." You say likewise, you would turn back to God, if your way is
not good. And to the angel you say as Balaam said: "What wilt thou that
we should do?" The angel answers thee as he answered Balaam: "Thou shalt
not curse this people, but shalt say what I put in thy mouth." But in
thy mouth he puts the warning that thou shouldst do good, convince one
another of the divine truth, and bear evil manfully. For it is the life
of a Christian to do good and to bear wrong and to continue stedfast
unto death, and this is the Gospel, which we, according to the text of
the Gospel for today, shall preach in all the world.

What wilt thou have of us, brother? you ask. I desire that you serve
Christ with zeal and not with sloth and indifference. I desire that you
do not mourn, but in thankfulness raise your hands to heaven, whenever
your brother or your son enters the service of Christ. The time is come
when Christ will work not only in you but through you and in others;
whoever hears, let him say: "Come brother. Let one draw the other. Turn
about, thou who thinkest that thou art of a superior mind and therefore
canst not accept the faith." If I could only explain this whole Gospel
to thee word for word, I would then scourge thy forehead and prove to
thee that the faith could not be false and that Christ is thy God who is
enthroned in heaven, and waits for thee. Or dost thou believe? Where are
thy works? Why dost thou delay about them? Hear this: There was once a
monk who spoke to a distinguished man about the faith, and got him to
answer why he did not believe. He answered thus: "You yourself do not
believe, for if you believed you would show other works." Therefore, to
you also I say: If you believe, where are your works? Your faith is
something every one knows, for every one knows that Christ was put to
death by the Jews, and that everywhere men pray to Him. The whole world
knows that His glory has not been spread by force and weapons, but by
poor fishermen. O wise man, do you think the poor fishermen were not
clever enough for this? Where they worked, there they made hearts
better; where they could not work, there men remained bad; and therefore
was the faith true and from God. The signs which the Lord had promised
followed their teaching: in His name they drove out the devil; they
spoke in new tongues; if they drank any deadly drink, they received
therefrom no harm. Even if these wonders had not occurred, there would
have been the wonder of wonders, that poor fishermen without any miracle
could accomplish so great a work as the faith. It came from God, and so
is Christ true and Christ is thy God, who is in heaven and awaits thee.

You say you believe the Gospel, but you do not believe me. But the purer
anything is, so much the nearer it stands to its end and purpose. The
Christian life purifies the heart, and places it very near to the truth.
To the Christian life will I lead you, if you would have the knowledge
of the truth. If I had wished to deceive you, why should I have given
you as the chief of my gifts the means of discovering my fraud? I would
be verily a fool to try to impose upon you with a falsehood which you
would soon detect; only because I offered you the truth, did I call
you. Come here, I fear you not; the closer you examine, the clearer the
truth will become to you.

There are some, however, who are ashamed of the cross of Jesus Christ,
and say: If we should believe that, we should be despised everywhere,
especially by the wisest. But if you would know the truth, look only on
the lives of those who would have to cry wo on their unbelief if they
should be measured by deeds. If you are ashamed of the cross, the Lord
was not ashamed to bear that cross for you, and to die on that cross for
you. Be not ashamed of His service and of the defense of the truth. Look
at the servants of the devil, who are not ashamed in the open places, in
the palaces, and everywhere to speak evil and to revile us. Bear then a
little shame only for your Lord; for whoever follows Him will, according
to our gospel, in His name drive out the devil; that is, he will drive
out his sins, and lead a virtuous life; he will drive out serpents; he
will throw out the lazy who come into the houses, and say evil things
under the pretense of righteousness, and so are like poisonous serpents.
You will see how children can withstand them with the truth of God, and
drive them away. If a believer drinks anything deadly it will not hurt
him: this deadly drink is the false doctrines of the lazy, from whom, as
you contend with them, a little comes also to you. But he who stands
unharmed in the faith, cries to you: See that you do good; seek God's
glory, not your own. He that does that is of the truth, and remains
unharmed. The Lord says further of the faithful: They shall lay their
hands on the sick and shall heal them. The hands are the works, and the
good lay such hands on the weak that they may support them when they
totter. Do I not teach you according to the Gospel? Why do you hesitate
and go not into the service of the Lord? Do you ask me still what you
ought to do? I will, in conclusion, tell you.

Look to Christ and you will find that all He says concerns faith. Ask
the apostle; he speaks of nothing else than of faith. If you have the
ground of all, if you have faith, you will always do what is good.
Without faith man always falls into sin. You must seek faith in order to
be good, or else your faith will become false. Christ commanded His
disciples to preach the Gospel to all the world, and your wise men call
a man a little world, a microcosm. So then preach to yourself, O man,
woman, and child. Three parts the world has in you also. Preach first of
all to your knowledge, and say to it: If you draw near this truth, you
will have much faith; wherefore do you hesitate to use it? To your will,
say: Thou seest that everything passes away; therefore love not the
world, love Christ. Thereupon turn to the second part of your world,
and say to it: Be thankful, my memory, for the mercies God has shown
thee, that thou thinkest not of the things of this world but of the
mercy of thy creation, and thy redemption through the blood of the Son
of God. Then go to the third part, to thy imagination, and proclaim to
it: Set nothing before my eyes but my death, bring nothing before me but
the Crucified, embrace Him, fly to Him. Then go through all the cities
of thy world and preach to them. First say to thine eyes: Look not on
vanity. To thy ears say: Listen not to the words of the lazy, but only
to the words of Jesus. To thy tongue say: Speak no more evil. For thy
tongue is as a great rock that rolls from the summit of a mountain, and
at first falls slowly, then ever faster and more furiously. It begins
with gentle murmuring, then it utters small sins, and then greater,
until it finally breaks forth in open blasphemy. To thy palate say: It
is necessary that we do a little penance. In all thy senses be clean,
and turn to the Lord, for He it is who will give you correction and
purity. To thy hands say: Do good and give alms; and let thy feet go in
the good way. Our reformation has begun in the Spirit of God, if you
take it to heart that each one has to preach to himself. Then will we in
the name of Jesus drive out the devils of temptation. Yes, call upon
Jesus as often as temptation approaches: call upon Him a hundred times
and believe firmly, and the temptation will depart. Then will we speak
with new tongues; we will speak with God. We shall drive away serpents;
the enticement of the senses are these serpents. If we drink anything
deadly it will not hurt us; if anger and lust arise in us, at the name
of Jesus they will have to give way. We shall lay our hands upon the
sick and heal them; with good deeds shall we strengthen the weak soul.
If thou feelest thy weakness, flee to God, and He will strengthen;
therefore He is thy only refuge. He is thy Savior and thy Lord, who went
into the heavens to prepare a place for thee, and to wait thee there.
What do you intend to do? Go and follow Jesus, who is praised from
everlasting to everlasting. Amen.




LUTHER

THE METHOD AND FRUITS OF JUSTIFICATION


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Martin Luther, leader of the Reformation, was born at Eisleben in 1483,
and died there 1546. His rugged character and powerful intellect,
combined with a strong physique, made him a natural orator, so that it
was said "his words were half battles."

Of his own method of preaching he once remarked:

"When I ascend the pulpit I see no heads, but imagine those that are
before me to be all blocks. When I preach I sink myself deeply down; I
regard neither doctors nor masters, of which there are in the church
above forty. But I have an eye to the multitude of young people,
children, and servants, of which there are more than two thousand. I
preach to them. When he preaches on any article a man must first
distinguish it, then define, describe, and show what it is; thirdly, he
must produce sentences from the Scripture to prove and to strengthen it;
fourthly, he must explain it by examples; fifthly, he must adorn it with
similitudes; and lastly, he must admonish and arouse the indolent,
correct the disobedient, and reprove the authors of false doctrine."



LUTHER
1483--1546

THE METHOD AND FRUITS OF JUSTIFICATION

_Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing
from a servant, though he be Lord of all; but is under tutors and
governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we
were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when
the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a
woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that
we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath
sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son, and if a son, then an
heir of God through Christ_.--Gal. iv., 1-7.


This text touches the very pith of Paul's chief doctrine. The cause why
it is well understood but by few is, not that it is so obscure and
difficult, but because there is so little knowledge of faith left in the
world; without which it is not possible to understand Paul, who
everywhere treats of faith with such earnestness and force. I must,
therefore, speak in such a manner that this text will appear plain; and
that I may more conveniently illustrate it, I will speak a few words by
way of preface.

First, therefore, we must understand the doctrine in which good works
are set forth, far different from that which treats of justification; as
there is a great difference between the substance and its working;
between man and his work. Justification pertains to man, and not to
works; for man is either justified and saved, or judged and condemned,
and not works. Neither is it a controversy among the godly, that man is
not justified by works, but righteousness must come from some other
source than from his own works: for Moses, writing of Abel, says, "The
Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering." First, He had respect
to Abel himself, then to his offering; because Abel was first counted
righteous and acceptable to God, and then for his sake his offering was
accepted also, and not he because of his offering. Again, God had no
respect to Cain, and therefore neither to his offering: therefore thou
seest that regard is had first to the worker, then to the work.

From this it is plainly gathered that no work can be acceptable to God,
unless he which worketh it was first accepted by Him: and again, that no
work is disallowed of Him unless the author thereof be disallowed
before. I think these remarks will be sufficient concerning this matter
at present, by which it is easy to understand that there are two sorts
of works, those before justification and those after it; and that these
last are good works indeed, but the former only appear to be good.
Hereof cometh such disagreement between God and those counterfeit holy
ones; for this cause nature and reason rise and rage against the Holy
Ghost; this is that of which almost the whole Scripture treats. The Lord
in His Word defines all works that go before justification to be evil,
and of no importance, and requires that man before all things be
justified. Again, He pronounces all men which are unregenerate, and have
that nature which they received of their parents unchanged, to be
righteous and wicked, according to that saying "all men are liars," that
is, unable to perform their duty, and to do those things which they
ought to do; and "Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart are
only evil continually"; whereby he is able to do nothing that is good,
for the fountain of his actions, which is his heart, is corrupted. If he
do works which outwardly seem good, they are no better than the offering
of Cain.

Here again comes forth reason, our reverend mistress, seeming to be
marvelously wise, but who indeed is unwise and blind, gainsaying her
God, and reproving Him of lying; being furnished with her follies and
feeble honor, to wit, the light of nature, free will, the strength of
nature; also with the books of the heathen and the doctrines of men,
contending that the works of a man not justified are good works, and not
like those of Cain, yea, and so good that he that worketh them is
justified by them; that God will have respect, first to the works, then
to the worker. Such doctrine now bears the sway everywhere in schools,
colleges, monasteries wherein no other saints than Cain was, have rule
and authority. Now from this error comes another: they which attribute
so much to works, and do not accordingly esteem the worker, and sound
justification, go so far that they ascribe all merit and righteousness
to works done before justification, making no account of faith, alleging
that which James saith, that without works faith is dead. This sentence
of the apostle they do not rightly understand; making but little account
of faith, they always stick to works, whereby they think to merit
exceedingly, and are persuaded that for their work's sake they shall
obtain the favor of God: by this means they continually disagree with
God, showing themselves to be the posterity of Cain. God hath respect
unto man, then unto the works of man; God alloweth the work for the sake
of him that worketh, these require that for the work's sake the worker
may be crowned.

But here, perhaps, thou wilt say, what is needful to be done? By what
means shall I become righteous and acceptable to God? How shall I attain
to this perfect justification? Those the gospel answers, teaching that
it is necessary that thou hear Christ, and repose thyself wholly on Him,
denying thyself and distrusting thine own strength; by this means thou
shalt be changed from Cain to Abel, and being thyself acceptable, shalt
offer acceptable gifts to the Lord. It is faith that justifies thee,
thou being endued therewith; the Lord remitteth all thy sins by the
mediation of Christ His Son, in whom this faith believeth and trusteth.
Moreover, He giveth unto such a faith His Spirit, which changes the man
and makes him anew, giving him another reason and another will. Such a
one worketh nothing but good works. Wherefore nothing is required unto
justification but to hear Jesus Christ our Savior, and to believe in
Him. Howbeit these are not the works of nature, but of grace.

He, therefore, that endeavors to attain to these things by works
shutteth the way to the gospel, to faith, grace, Christ, God, and all
things that help unto salvation. Again, nothing is necessary in order to
accomplish good works but justification; and he that hath attained it
performs good works, and not any other. Hereof it sufficiently appears
that the beginning, the things following, and the order of man's
salvation are after this sort; first of all it is required that thou
hear the Word of God; next that thou believe; then that thou work; and
so at last become saved and happy. He that changes this order, without
doubt is not of God. Paul also describes this, saying, "Whosoever shall
call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call
on Him in whom they have not believed? and, how shall they believe in
Him of whom they have not heard? and, how shall they hear without a
preacher? and, how shall they preach except they be sent?"

Christ teaches us to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers
into His harvest; that is, sincere preachers. When we hear these preach
the true Word of God, we may believe; which faith justifies a man, and
makes him godly indeed, so that he now calls upon God in the spirit of
holiness, and works nothing but that which is good, and thus becomes a
saved man. Thus he that believeth shall be saved; but he that worketh
without faith is condemned; as Christ saith, he that doth not believe
shall be condemned, from which no works shall deliver him. Some say, I
will now endeavor to become honest. It is meet surely that we study to
lead an honest life, and to do good works. But if one ask them how we
may apply ourselves unto honesty, and by what means we may attain it,
they answer, that we must fast, pray, frequent temples, avoid sins, etc.
Whereby one becomes a Carthusian monk, another chooses some other order
of monks, and another is consecrated a priest; some torment their flesh
by wearing hair-cloth, others scourge their bodies with whips, others
afflict themselves in a different manner; but these are of Cain's
progeny, and their works are no better than his; for they continue the
same that they were before, ungodly, and without justification: there is
a change made of outward works only, of apparel, of place, etc.

They scarce think of faith, they presume only on such works as seem good
to themselves, thinking by them to get to heaven. But Christ said,
"Enter in at the strait gate, for I say unto you, many seek to enter in,
and can not." Why is this? because they know not what this narrow gate
is; for it is faith, which altogether annihilates or makes a man appear
as nothing in his own eyes, and requires him not to trust in his own
works, but to depend upon the grace of God, and be prepared to leave and
suffer all things. Those holy ones of Cain's progeny think their good
works are the narrow gate; and are not, therefore, extenuated or made
less, whereby they might enter.

When we begin to preach of faith to those that believe altogether in
works, they laugh and hiss at us, and say, "Dost thou count us as Turks
and heathens, whom it behooves now first to learn faith? is there such a
company of priests, monks, and nuns, and is not faith known? who knoweth
not what he ought to believe? even sinners know that." Being after this
sort animated and stirred up, they think themselves abundantly endued
with faith, and that the rest is now to be finished and made perfect by
works. They make so small and slender account of faith, because they are
ignorant what faith is, and that it alone doth justify. They call it
faith, believing those things which they have heard of Christ; this kind
of faith the devils also have, and yet they are not justified. But this
ought rather to be called an opinion of men. To believe those things to
be true which are preached of Christ is not sufficient to constitute
thee a Christian, but thou must not doubt that thou art of the number of
them unto whom all the benefits of Christ are given and exhibited; which
he that believes must plainly confess, that he is holy, godly,
righteous, the son of God, and certain of salvation; and that by no
merit of his own, but by the mere mercy of God poured forth upon him for
Christ's sake: which he believes to be so rich and plentiful, as indeed
it is, that altho he be as it were drowned in sin, he is notwithstanding
made holy, and become the son of God.

Wherefore, take heed that thou nothing doubt that thou art the son of
God, and therefore made righteous by His grace; let all fear and care be
done away. However, thou must fear and tremble that thou mayest
persevere in this way unto the end; but thou must not do this as tho it
consisted in thy own strength, for righteousness and salvation are of
grace, whereunto only thou must trust. But when thou knowest that it is
of grace alone, and that thy faith also is the gift of God, thou shalt
have cause to fear, lest some temptation violently move thee from this
faith.

Every one by faith is certain of this salvation; but we ought to have
care and fear that we stand and persevere, trusting in the Lord, and not
in our own strength. When those of the race of Cain hear faith treated
of in this manner, they marvel at our madness, as it seems to them. God
turn us from this way, say they, that we should affirm ourselves holy
and godly; far be this arrogance and rashness from us: we are miserable
sinners; we should be mad, if we should arrogate holiness to ourselves.
Thus they mock at true faith, and count such doctrine as this execrable
error; and thus try to extinguish the Gospel. These are they that deny
the faith of Christ, and persecute it throughout the whole world; of
whom Paul speaks: "In the latter times many shall depart from the
faith," etc., for we see by these means that true faith lies everywhere
opprest; it is not preached, but commonly disallowed and condemned.

The pope, bishops, colleges, monasteries, and universities have more
than five hundred years persecuted it with one mind and consent most
obstinately, which has been the means of driving many to hell. If any
object against the admiration, or rather the mad senselessness of these
men, if we count ourselves even holy, trusting the goodness of God to
justify us, or as David prayed, "Preserve Thou me, O Lord, for I am
holy," or as Paul saith, "The Spirit of God beareth witness with our
spirit that we are the children of God"; they answer that the prophet
and apostle would not teach us in these words, or give us an example
which we should follow, but that they, being particularly and specially
enlightened, received such revelation of themselves. In this way they
misrepresent the Scripture, which affirms that they are holy, saying
that such doctrine is not written for us, but that it is rather peculiar
miracles, which do not belong to all. This forged imagination we account
of as having come from their sickly brain. Again, they believe that they
shall be made righteous and holy by their own works, and that because of
them God will give them salvation and eternal blessedness.

In the opinion of these men it is a Christian duty to think that we
shall be righteous and sacred because of our works; but to believe that
these things are given by the grace of God, they condemn as heretical;
attributing that to their own works which they do not attribute to the
grace of God. They that are endued with true faith, and rest upon the
grace of the Lord, rejoice with holy joy, and apply themselves with
pleasure to good works, not such as those of Cain's progeny do, as
feigned prayers, fasting, base and filthy apparel, and such like
trifles, but to true and good works whereby their neighbors are
profited.

Perhaps some godly man may think, if the matter be so, and our work do
not save us, to what end are so many precepts given us, and why doth God
require that they be obeyed? The present text of the apostle will give a
solution of this question, and upon this occasion we will give an
exposition thereof. The Galatians being taught of Paul the faith of
Christ, but afterward seduced by false apostles, thought that our
salvation must be finished and made perfect by the works of the law; and
that faith alone doth not suffice. These Paul calls back again from
works unto faith with great diligence; plainly proving that the works of
the law, which go before faith, make us only servants, and are of no
importance toward godliness and salvation; but that faith makes us the
sons of God, and from thence good works without constraint forthwith
plentifully flow.

But here we must observe the words of the apostle; he calls him a
servant that is occupied in works without faith, of which we have
already treated at large; but he calls him a son which is righteous by
faith alone. The reason is this, altho the servant apply himself to good
works, yet he does it not with the same mind as doth the son; that is,
with a mind free, willing, and certain that the inheritance and all the
good things of the Father are his; but does it as he that is hired in
another man's house, who hopes not that the inheritance shall come to
him. The works indeed of the son and the servant are alike; and almost
the same in outward appearance; but their minds differ exceedingly: as
Christ saith, "The servant abideth not in the house forever, but the son
abideth ever."

Those of Cain's progeny want the faith of sons, which they confess
themselves; for they think it most absurd, and wicked arrogancy, to
affirm themselves to be the sons of God, and holy; therefore as they
believe, even so are they counted before God; they neither become holy
nor the sons of God, nevertheless are they exercised with the works of
the law; wherefore they are and remain servants forever. They receive no
reward except temporal things; such as quietness of life, abundance of
goods, dignity, honor, etc., which we see to be common among the
followers of popish religion. But this is their reward, for they are
servants, and not sons; wherefore in death they shall be separated from
all good things, neither shall any portion of the eternal inheritance be
theirs, who in this life would believe nothing thereof. We perceive,
therefore, that servants and sons are not unlike in works, but in mind
and faith they have no resemblance.

The apostle endeavors here to prove that the law with all the works
thereof makes us but mere servants, if we have not faith in Christ; for
this alone make us sons of God. It is the word of grace followed by the
Holy Ghost, as is shown in many places, where we read of the Holy Ghost
falling on Cornelius and his family while hearing the preaching of
Peter. Paul teaches that no man is justified before God by the works of
the law; for sin only cometh by the law. He that trusts in works
condemns faith as the most pernicious arrogancy and error of all others.
Here thou seest plainly that such a man is not righteous, being
destitute of that faith and belief which is necessary to make him
acceptable before God and His Son; yea, he is an enemy to this faith,
and therefore to righteousness also. Thus it is easy to understand that
which Paul saith, that no man is justified before God by the works of
the law.

The worker must be justified before God before he can work any good
thing. Men judge the worker by the works; God judges the works by the
worker. The first precept requires us to acknowledge and worship one
God, that is, to trust Him alone, which is the true faith whereby we
become the sons of God. Thou canst not be delivered from the evil of
unbelief by thine own power, nor by the power of the law; wherefore all
thy works which thou doest to satisfy the law can be nothing but works
of the law; of far less importance than to be able to justify thee
before God, who counteth them righteous only who truly believe in Him;
for they that acknowledge Him the true God are His sons, and do truly
fulfil the law. If thou shouldst even kill thyself by working, thy heart
can not obtain this faith thereby, for thy works are even a hindrance to
it, and cause thee to persecute it.

He that studieth to fulfil the law without faith is afflicted for the
devil's sake; and continues a persecutor both of faith and the law,
until he come to himself, and cease to trust in his own works; he then
gives glory to God, who justifies the ungodly, and acknowledges himself
to be nothing, and sighs for the grace of God, of which he knows that he
has need. Faith and grace now fill his empty mind, and satisfy his
hunger; then follow works which are truly good; neither are they works
of the law, but of the spirit, of faith and grace; they are called in
the Scripture the works of God, which He worketh in us.

Whatsoever we do of our own power and strength, that which is not
wrought in us by His grace, without doubt is a work of the law, and
avails nothing toward justification; but is displeasing to God, because
of the unbelief wherein it is done. He that trusts in works does nothing
freely and with a willing mind; he would do no good work at all if he
were not compelled by the fear of hell, or allured by the hope of
present good. Whereby it is plainly seen that they strive only for gain,
or are moved with fear, showing that they rather hate the law from their
hearts, and had rather there were no law at all. An evil heart can do
nothing that is good. This evil propensity of the heart, and
unwillingness to do good, the law betrays when it teaches that God does
not esteem the works of the hand, but those of the heart.

Thus sin is known by the law, as Paul teaches; for we learn thereby that
our affections are not placed on that which is good. This ought to teach
us not to trust in ourselves, but to long after the grace of God,
whereby the evil of the heart may be taken away, and we become ready to
do good works, and love the law voluntarily; not for fear of any
punishment, but for the love of righteousness. By this means one is
made of a servant, a son; of a slave an heir.

We shall now come to treat more particularly of the text. Verse 1. "The
heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, tho he
be lord of all." We see that the children unto whom their parents have
left some substance are brought up no otherwise than if they were
servants. They are fed and clothed with their goods, but they are not
permitted to do with them, nor use them according to their own minds,
but are ruled with fear and discipline of manners, so that even in their
own inheritance they live no otherwise than as servants. After the same
sort it is in spiritual things. God made with His people a covenant,
when He promised that in the seed of Abraham, that is in Christ, all
nations of the earth should be blest. That covenant was afterward
confirmed by the death of Christ, and revealed and published abroad by
the preaching gospel. For the gospel is an open and general preaching of
this grace, that in Christ is laid up a blessing for all men that
believe.

Before this covenant is truly opened and made manifest to men, the sons
of God live after the manner of servants under the law; and are
exercised with the works of the law, altho they can not be justified by
them; they are true heirs of heavenly things, of this blessing and grace
of the covenant; altho they do not as yet know or enjoy it. Those that
are justified by grace cease from the works of the law, and come unto
the inheritance of justification; they then freely work those things
that are good, to the glory of God and benefit of their neighbors. For
they have possest it by the covenant of the Father, confirmed by Christ,
revealed, published, and as it were delivered into their hands by the
gospel, through the grace and mercy of God.

This covenant Abraham, and all the fathers which were endued with true
faith, had no otherwise than we have: altho before Christ was glorified
this grace was not openly preached and published: they lived in like
faith, and therefore obtained the like good things. They had the same
grace, blessing, and covenant that we have; for there is one Father and
God over all. Thou seest that Paul here, as in almost all other places,
treats much of faith; that we are not justified by works, but by faith
alone. There is no good thing which is not contained in this covenant of
God; it gives righteousness, salvation, and peace. By faith the whole
inheritance of God is at once received. From thence good works come; not
meritorious, whereby thou mayest seek salvation, but which with a mind
already possessing righteousness thou must do with great pleasure to the
profit of thy neighbors.

Verse 2. "But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of
the Father." Tutors and governors are they which bring up the heir, and
so rule him and order his goods that he neither waste his inheritance by
riotous living, nor his goods perish or be otherwise consumed. They
permit him not to use his goods at his own will or pleasure, but suffer
him to enjoy them as they shall be needful and profitable to him. They
keep him at home, and instruct him whereby he may long and comfortably
enjoy his inheritance: but as soon as he arrives to the years of
discretion and judgment, it can not but be grievous to him to live in
subjection to the commands and will of another.

In the same manner stands the case of the children of God, which are
brought up and instructed under the law, as under a master in the
liberty of sons. The law profits them in this, that by the fear of it
and the punishment which it threatens, they are driven from sin, at
least from the outward work: by it they are brought to a knowledge of
themselves, and that they do no good at all with a willing and ready
mind as becomes sons; whereby they may easily see what is the root of
this evil, and what is especially needful unto salvation; to wit, a new
and living spirit to that which is good: which neither the law nor the
works of the law is able to give; yea, the more they apply themselves to
it, the more unwilling they find themselves to work those things which
are good.

Here they learn that they do not satisfy the law, altho outwardly they
live according to its precepts. They pretend to obey it in works, altho
in mind they hate it; they pretend themselves righteous, but they remain
sinners. These are like unto those of Cain's progeny, and hypocrites;
whose hands are compelled to do good, but their hearts consent unto sin
and are subject thereto. To know this concerning one's self is not the
lowest degree toward salvation. Paul calls such constrained works the
works of the law; for they flow not from a ready and willing heart;
howbeit the law does not require works alone, but the heart itself;
wherefore it is said in the first psalm of the blest man, "But his
delight is in the law of the Lord: and in His law doth he meditate day
and night." Such a mind the law requires, but it gives it not; neither
can it of its own nature: whereby it comes to pass that while the law
continues to exact it of a man, and condemns him as long as he hath such
a mind, as being disobedient to God, he is in anguish on every side; his
conscience being grievously terrified.

Then, indeed, is he most ready to receive the grace of God; this being
the time appointed by the Father when his servitude shall end, and he
enter into the liberty of the sons of God. For being thus in distress,
and terrified, seeing that by no other means he can avoid the
condemnation of the law, he prays to the Father for grace; he
acknowledges his frailty, he confesses his sin, he ceases to trust in
works, and humbles himself, perceiving that between him and a manifest
sinner there is no difference at all except of works, that he hath a
wicked heart, even as every other sinner hath. The condition of man's
nature is such that it is able to give to the law works only, and not
the heart; an unequal division, truly, to dedicate the heart, which,
incomparably excels all other things, to sin, and the hand to the law:
which is offering chaff to the law, and the wheat to sin; the shell to
God, and the kernel to Satan; whose ungodliness if one reprove, they
become enraged, and would even take the life of innocent Abel, and
persecute all those that follow the truth.

Those that trust in works seem to defend them to obtain righteousness;
they promise to themselves a great reward for this, by persecuting
heretics and blasphemers, as they say, who seduce with error, and entice
many from good works. But those that God hath chosen, learn by the law
how unwilling the heart is to conform to the works of the law; they fall
from their arrogancy, and are by this knowledge of themselves brought to
see their own unworthiness. Hereby they receive that covenant of the
eternal blessing and the Holy Ghost which renews the heart: whereby
they are delighted with the law, and hate sin; and are willing and ready
to do those things which are good. This is the time appointed by the
Father, when the heir must no longer remain a servant, but a son; being
led by a free spirit, he is no more kept in subjection under tutors and
governors after the manner of a servant; which is even that which Paul
teaches in the following:

Verse 3. "Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the
elements of the word." By the word elements thou mayest here understand
the first principles or law written; which is as it were the first
exercises and instructions of holy learning; as it is said: "As
concerning the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach
you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God." "Beware
lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the
tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world." "How turn ye again
to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in
bondage."

Here Paul calls the law rudiments; because it is not able to perform
that righteousness which it requires. For whereas it earnestly requires
a heart and mind given to godliness, nature is not able to satisfy it:
herein it makes a man feel his poverty, and acknowledge his infirmity:
it requires that of him by right which he has not, neither is able to
have. "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life." Paul calls them
the rudiments of the world, which, not being renewed by the Spirit, only
perform worldly things; to wit, in places, times, apparel, persons,
vessels, and such like. But faith rests not in worldly things, but in
the grace, word, and mercy of God: counting alike, days, meats, persons,
apparel, and all things of this world.

None of these by themselves either help or hinder godliness or
salvation. With those of Cain's progeny, faith neither agrees in name or
anything else; one of them eats flesh, another abstains from it; one
wears black apparel, another white; one keeps this day holy, and another
that; every one has his rudiments, under which he is in bondage: all of
them are addicted to the things of the world, which are frail and
perishable. Against these Paul speaks, "Wherefore, if ye be dead with
Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as tho living in the world,
are ye subject to ordinances: touch not, taste not, handle not, which
all are to perish with the using, after the commandments and doctrines
of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship and
humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying
of the flesh."

By this and other places above mentioned, it is evident that
monasteries and colleges, whereby we measure the state of spiritual men
as we call them, plainly disagree with the Gospel and Christian liberty:
and therefore it is much more dangerous to live in this kind of life
than among the most profane men. All their works are nothing but
rudiments and ordinances of the world; neither are they Christians but
in name, wherefore all their life and holiness are sinful and most
detestable hypocrisy. The fair show of feigned holiness which is in
those ordinances does, in a marvelous and secret manner, withdraw from
faith more than those manifest and gross sins of which open sinners are
guilty. Now this false and servile opinion faith alone takes away, and
teaches us to trust in, and rest upon, the grace of God, whereby is
given freely that which is needful to work all things.

Verse 4. "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His
Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under
the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." After Paul had
taught us that righteousness and faith can not come to us by the law,
neither can we deserve it by nature, he shows us by whom we obtain it;
and who is the author of our justification. The apostle saith, "When the
fulness of the time was come"; here Paul speaks of the time which was
appointed by the Father to the Son, wherein He should live under
tutors, etc. This time being come to the Jews, and ended, Christ came in
the flesh; so it is daily fulfilled to others, when they come to the
knowledge of Christ, and change the servitude of the law for the faith
of sons. Christ for this cause came unto us, that believing in Him we
may be restored to true liberty; by which faith they of ancient times
also obtained the liberty of the Spirit.

As soon as thou believest in Christ, He comes to thee, a deliverer and
Savior; and now the time of bondage is ended; as the apostle saith, the
fulness thereof is come.

Verse 6. "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His
Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Here we see plainly that
the Holy Ghost cometh to the saints, not by works, but by faith alone.
Sons believe, while servants only work; sons are free from the law,
servants are held under the law, as appears by those things that have
been before spoken. But how comes it to pass that he saith "because ye
are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit," etc., seeing it is before
said that by the coming of the Spirit we are changed from servants to
sons: but here, as tho we could be sons before the coming of the Spirit,
he saith "because ye are sons," etc. To this question we must answer,
that Paul speaks here in the same manner that he did before, that is,
before the fulness of the time came, we were in bondage under the
rudiments of the world: all that shall become sons are counted in the
place of sons with God: therefore he saith rightly, "because ye are
sons," that is, because the state of sons is appointed to you from
everlasting, "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son," to wit, that
He might finish it in you, and make you such as He hath long since of
His goodness determined that He would make you.

Now if the Father give unto us His Spirit, He will make us His true sons
and heirs, that we may with confidence cry with Christ, Abba, Father;
being His brethren and fellow heirs. The apostle has well set forth the
goodness of God which makes us partakers with Christ, and causes us to
have all things common with Him, so that we live and are led by the same
Spirit. These words of the apostle show that the Holy Ghost proceeds
from Christ, as he calls Him his Spirit. So God hath sent forth the
Spirit of His Son, that is, of Christ, for He is the Spirit of God, and
comes from God to us, and not ours, unless one will say after this
manner, "my Holy Spirit," as we say, "my God," "my Lord," etc. As He is
said to be the Holy Spirit of Christ, it proves Him to be God of whom
that Spirit is sent, therefore it is counted His Spirit.

Christians may perceive by this whether they have in themselves the Holy
Ghost, to wit, the Spirit of sons; whether they hear His voice in their
hearts: for Paul saith, He crieth in the hearts which He possesseth,
Abba, Father; he saith also, "We have received the Spirit of adoption,
whereby we cry Abba, Father." Thou hearest this voice when thou findest
so much faith in thyself that thou dost assuredly, without doubting,
presume that not only thy sins are forgiven thee, but also that thou art
the beloved Son of God, who, being certain of eternal salvation, durst
both call Him Father, and be delighted in Him with a joyful and
confident heart. To doubt these things brings a reproach upon the death
of Christ, as tho He had not obtained all things for us.

It may be that thou shalt be so tempted as to fear and doubt, and think
plainly that God is not a favorable Father, but a wrathful revenger of
sins, as it happened with Job, and many other saints: but in such a
conflict this trust and confidence that thou art a son ought to prevail
and overcome. It is said "The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us
with groanings which can not be uttered; and that He beareth witness
with our spirit that we are the children of God." How can it therefore
be that our hearts should not hear this cry and testimony of the Spirit?
But if thou dost not feel this cry, take heed that thou be not slothful
and secure; pray constantly, for thou art in an evil state.

Cain saith, "My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, Thou
hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth, and from Thy
face shall I be hid; and it shall come to pass that every one that
findeth me shall slay me." This is a dreadful and terrible cry, which is
heard from all Cain's progeny, all such as trust to themselves and their
own works, who put not their trust in the Son of God, neither consider
that He was sent from the Father, made of a woman under the law, much
less that all these things were done for their salvation. And while
their ungodliness is not herewith content, they begin to persecute even
the sons of God, and grow so cruel that, after the example of their
father Cain, they can not rest until they slay their righteous brother
Abel, wherefore the blood of Christ continually cries out against them
nothing but punishment and vengeance; but for the heirs of salvation it
cries by the Spirit of Christ for nothing but grace and reconciliation.

The apostle here uses a Syrian and Greek word, saying, Abba, Pater. This
word Abba, in the Syrian tongue, signifies a father, by which name the
heads of monasteries are still called; and by the same name, hermits in
times past, being holy men, called their presidents: at last, by use, it
was also made a Latin word. Therefore that which Paul saith is as much
as Father, Father; or if thou hadst rather, "my Father."

Verse 7. "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son, and if a
son, then an heir of God through Christ." He saith, that after the
coming of the Spirit, after the knowledge of Christ, "thou art not a
servant." A son is free and willing, a servant is compelled and
unwilling; a son liveth and resteth in faith, a servant in works.
Therefore it appears that we can not obtain salvation of God by works,
but before thou workest that which is acceptable to Him, it is necessary
that thou receive salvation; then good works will freely flow, to the
honor of thy heavenly Father, and to the profit of thy neighbors;
without any fear of punishment, or looking for reward.

If this inheritance of the Father be thine by faith, surely thou art
rich in all things, before thou hast wrought any thing. It is said "Your
salvation is prepared and reserved in heaven, to be showed in the last
time," wherefore the works of a Christian ought to have no regard to
merit, which is the manner of servants, but only for the use and benefit
of our neighbors, whereby we may truly live to the glory of God. Lest
that any think that so great an inheritance cometh to us without cost
(altho it be given to us without our cost or merit), yet it cost Christ
a dear price, who, that He might purchase it for us, was made under the
law, and satisfied it for us, both by life and also by death.

Those benefits which from love we bestow upon our neighbor, come to him
freely, without any charges or labor of his, notwithstanding they cost
us something, even as Christ hath bestowed those things which are His
upon us. Thus hath Paul called back the Galatians from the teachers of
works, which preached nothing but the law, perverting the Gospel of
Christ. Which things are very necessary to be marked of us also: for the
Pope, with his prelates and monks hath for a long time intruded, urging
his laws, which are foolish and pernicious, disagreeing in every respect
with the Word of God, seducing almost the whole world from the gospel of
Christ, and plainly extinguishing the faith of sons, as the Scripture
hath in diverse places manifestly prophesied of His kingdom. Wherefore
let every one that desires salvation, diligently take heed of him and
his followers, no otherwise than Satan himself.




LATIMER

ON CHRISTIAN LOVE


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Hugh Latimer, reformer and martyr, was born in Leicestershire, England,
in 1485, or two years later than Luther. On completing an education at
Cambridge, he took holy orders and preached strenuously in favor of the
Lutheran views. As a profound canonist, he was placed on the commission
appointed to decide on the legality of Henry VII's marriage with
Katharine of Aragon. His decision in favor of Henry gained him a royal
chaplaincy and a living.

Appointed Bishop of Worcester in 1535, he preached boldly the reformed
doctrines, but lost favor at court, and when Gardiner and Bonner pushed
a reactionary movement to the front, he retired from his see (1539).
Latimer lived in peaceful retirement under Edward VI, but under Mary he,
with other reformers, was arrested and thrown into the Tower. Brought to
Oxford for examination, he refused to recant, and was confined for a
year in the common prison, and on October 16, 1555, put to death by
fire, along with Ridley, at a place opposite Balliol College, where the
Martyr's Memorial was subsequently erected.



LATIMER
1485--1555

ON CHRISTIAN LOVE

_This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved
you_.--John xv., 12.


Seeing the time is so far spent, we will take no more in hand at this
time than this one sentence; for it will be enough for us to consider
this well, and to bear it away with us. "This I command unto you, that
ye love one another." Our Savior himself spake these words at His last
supper: it was the last sermon that He made unto His disciples before
His departure; it is a very long sermon. For our Savior, like as one
that knows he shall die shortly, is desirous to spend that little time
that He has with His friends, in exhorting and instructing them how they
should lead their lives. Now among other things that He commanded this
was one: "This I command unto you, that ye love one another." The
English expresses as tho it were but one, "This is my commandment." I
examined the Greek, where it is in the plural number, and very well; for
there are many things that pertain to a Christian man, and yet all those
things are contained in this one thing, that is, love. He lappeth up
all things in love.

Our whole duty is contained in these words, "Love together." Therefore
St. Paul saith, "He that loveth another fulfilleth the whole law"; so it
appeareth that all things are contained in this word love. This love is
a precious thing; our Savior saith, "By this shall all men know that ye
are my disciples, if ye shall love one another."

So Christ makes love His cognizance, His badge, His livery. Like as
every lord commonly gives a certain livery to his servants, whereby they
may be known that they pertain unto him; and so we say, yonder is this
lord's servants, because they wear his livery: so our Savior, who is the
Lord above all lords, would have His servants known by their liveries
and badge, which badge is love alone. Whosoever now is endued with love
and charity is His servant; him we may call Christ's servant; for love
is the token whereby you may know that such a servant pertaineth to
Christ; so that charity may be called the very livery of Christ. He that
hath charity is Christ's servant; he that hath not charity is the
servant of the devil. For as Christ's livery is love and charity, so the
devil's livery is hatred, malice and discord.

But I think the devil has a great many more servants than Christ has;
for there are a great many more in his livery than in Christ's livery;
there are but very few who are endued with Christ's livery; with love
and charity, gentleness and meekness of spirit; but there are a great
number that bear hatred and malice in their hearts, that are proud,
stout, and lofty; therefore the number of the devil's servants is
greater than the number of Christ's servants.

Now St. Paul shows how needful this love is. I speak not of carnal love,
which is only animal affection; but of this charitable love, which is so
necessary that when a man hath it, without all other things it will
suffice him. Again, if a man have all other things and lacketh that love
it will not help him, it is all vain and lost. St. Paul used it so: "Tho
I speak with tongues of men and angels, and yet had no love, I were even
as sounding brass, or as a tinkling cymbal. And tho I could prophesy and
understand all secrets and all knowledge; yet if I had faith, so that I
could move mountains out of their places, and yet had no love, I were
nothing. And tho I bestowed all my goods to feed the poor, and tho I
gave my body even that I were burned, and yet had no love, it profiteth
me nothing" (I Cor. xiii). These are godly gifts, yet St. Paul calls
them nothing when a man hath them without charity; which is a great
commendation, and shows the great need of love, insomuch that all other
virtues are in vain when this love is absent. And there have been some
who taught that St. Paul spake against the dignity of faith; but you
must understand that St. Paul speaks here not of the justifying faith,
wherewith we receive everlasting life, but he understands by this word
faith the gift to do miracles, to remove hills; of such a faith he
speaks. This I say to confirm this proposition. Faith only justifieth;
this proposition is most true and certain. And St. Paul speaks not here
of this lively justifying faith; for this right faith is not without
love, for love cometh and floweth out of faith; love is a child of
faith; for no man can love except he believe, so that they have two
several offices, they themselves being inseparable.

St. Paul has an expression in the 13th chapter of the first of the
Corinthians, which, according to the outward letter, seems much to the
dispraise of this faith, and to the praise of love; these are his words,
"Now abideth faith, hope and love, even these three; but the chiefest of
these is love." There are some learned men who expound the greatness of
which St. Paul speaketh here as if meant for eternity. For when we come
to God, then we believe no more, but rather see with our eyes face to
face how He is; yet for all that love remains still; so that love may be
called the chiefest, because she endureth forever. And tho she is the
chiefest, yet we must not attribute unto her the office which pertains
unto faith only. Like as I can not say, the Mayor of Stamford must make
me a pair of shoes because he is a greater man than the shoemaker is;
for the mayor, tho he is a greater man, yet it is not his office to make
shoes; so tho love be greater, yet it is not her office to save. Thus
much I thought good to say against those who fight against the truth.

Now, when we would know who are in Christ's livery or not, we must learn
it of St. Paul, who most evidently described charity, which is the only
livery, saying, "Love is patient, she suffereth long." Now whosoever
fumeth and is angry, he is out of this livery: therefore let us remember
that we do not cast away the livery of Christ our Master. When we are in
sickness, or any manner of adversities, our duty is to be patient, to
suffer willingly, and to call upon Him for aid, help and comfort; for
without Him we are not able to abide any tribulation. Therefore we must
call upon God, He has promised to help: therefore let me not think Him
to be false or untrue to His promises, for we can not dishonor God more
than by not believing or trusting in Him. Therefore let us beware above
all things of dishonoring God; and so we must be patient, trusting and
most certainly believing that He will deliver us when it seems good to
Him, who knows the time better than we ourselves.

"Charity is gentle, friendly, and loving; she envieth not." They that
envy their neighbor's profit when it goes well with him, such fellows
are out of their liveries, and so out of the service of God; for to be
envious is to be the servant of the devil.

"Love doth not frowardly, she is not a provoker"; as there are some men
who will provoke their neighbor so far that it is very hard for them to
be in charity with them; but we must wrestle with our affections; we
must strive and see that we keep this livery of Christ our master; for
"the devil goeth about as a roaring lion seeking to take us at a
vantage," to bring us out of our liveries, and to take from us the knot
of love and charity.

"Love swelleth not, is not puffed up"; but there are many swellers
nowadays, they are so high, so lofty, insomuch that they despise and
contemn all others; all such persons are under the governance of the
devil. God rules not them with His good spirit; the evil spirit has
occupied their hearts and possest them.

"She doth not dishonestly; she seeketh not her own; she doth all things
to the commodity of her neighbors." A charitable man will not promote
himself with the damage of his neighbor. They that seek only their own
advantage, forgetting their neighbors, they are not of God, they have
not His livery. Further, "Charity is not provoked to anger; she thinketh
not evil." We ought not to think evil of our neighbor, as long as we
see not open wickedness; for it is written, "You shall not judge"; we
should not take upon us to condemn our neighbor. And surely the
condemners of other men's works are not in the livery of Christ. Christ
hateth them.

"She rejoiceth not in iniquity"; she loveth equity and godliness. And
again, she is sorry to hear of falsehood, of stealing, or such like,
which wickedness is now at this time commonly used. There never was such
falsehood among Christian men as there is now, at this time; truly I
think, and they that have experience report it so, that among the very
infidels and Turks there is more fidelity and uprightness than among
Christian men. For no man setteth anything by his promise, yea, and
writings will not serve with some; they are so shameless that they dare
deny their own handwriting; but, I pray you, are those false fellows in
the livery of Christ? Have they His cognizance? No, no; they have the
badge of the devil, with whom they shall be damned world without end,
except they amend and leave their wickedness.

"She suffereth all things; she believeth all things." It is a great
matter that should make us to be grieved with our neighbor; we should be
patient when our neighbor doth wrong, we should admonish him of his
folly, earnestly desiring him to leave his wickedness, showing the
danger that follows, everlasting damnation. In such wise we should
study to amend our neighbor, and not to hate him or do him a foul turn
again, but rather charitably study to amend him: whosoever now does so,
he has the livery and cognizance of Christ, he shall be known at the
last day for his servant.

"Love believeth all things"; it appears daily that they who are
charitable and friendly are most deceived; because they think well of
every man, they believe every man, they trust their words, and therefore
are most deceived in this world, among the children of the devil. These
and such like things are the tokens of the right and godly love;
therefore they that have this love are soon known, for this love can not
be hid in corners, she has her operation: therefore all that have her
are well enough, tho they have no other gifts besides her. Again, they
that lack her, tho they have many other gifts besides, yet is it to no
other purpose, it does then no good: for when we shall come at the great
day before him, not having this livery (that is love) with us, then we
are lost; he will not take us for His servants, because we have not His
cognizance. But if we have this livery, if we wear His cognizance here
in this world; that is, if we love our neighbor, help him in his
distress, are charitable, loving, and friendly unto him, then we shall
be known at the last day: but if we be uncharitable toward our
neighbor, hate him, seek our own advantage with His damage, then we
shall be rejected of Christ and so damned world without end.

Our Savior saith here in this gospel, "I command you these things"; He
speaketh in the plural number, and lappeth it up in one thing, which is
that we should love one another, much like St. Paul's saying in the 13th
to the Romans, "Owe nothing to any man, but to love one another." Here
St. Paul lappeth up all things together, signifying unto us that love is
the consummation of the law; for this commandment, "Thou shalt not
commit adultery," is contained in this law of love: for he that loveth
God will not break wedlock, because wedlock-breaking is a dishonoring of
God and a serving of the devil. "Thou shalt not kill"; he that loveth
will not kill, he will do no harm. "Thou shalt not steal"; he that
loveth his neighbor as himself will not take away his goods. I had of
late occasion to speak of picking and stealing, where I showed unto you
the danger wherein they are that steal their neighbor's goods from them,
but I hear nothing yet of restitution. Sirs, I tell you, except
restitution is made, look for no salvation. And it is a miserable and
heinous thing to consider that we are so blinded with this world that,
rather than we would make restitution, we will sell unto the devil our
souls which are bought with the blood of our Savior Christ. What can be
done more to the dishonoring of Christ than to cast our souls away to
the devil for the value of a little money?--the soul which He has bought
with His painful passion and death. But I tell you those that will do
so, and that will not make restitution when they have done wrong, or
taken away their neighbor's goods, they are not in the livery of Christ,
they are not his servants; let them go as they will in this world, yet
for all that they are foul and filthy enough before God; they stink
before His face; and therefore they shall be cast from His presence into
everlasting fire; this shall be all their good cheer that they shall
have, because they have not the livery of Christ, nor His cognizance,
which is love. They remember not that Christ commanded us, saying, "This
I command you, that ye love one another." This is Christ's commandment.
Moses, the great prophet of God, gave many laws, but he gave not the
spirit to fulfil the same laws: but Christ gave this law, and promised
unto us, that when we call upon Him He will give us His Holy Ghost, who
shall make us able to fulfil His laws, tho not so perfectly as the law
requires; but yet to the contention of God, and to the protection of our
faith; for as long as we are in this world, we can do nothing as we
ought to do, because our flesh leadeth us, which is ever bent against
the law of God; yet our works which we do are well taken for Christ's
sake, and God will reward them in heaven.

Therefore our Savior saith, "my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,"
because He helpeth to bear them; else indeed we should not be able to
bear them. And in another place He saith, "His commandments are not
heavy"; they are heavy to our flesh, but being qualified with the Spirit
of God, to the faithful which believe in Christ, to them, I say, they
are not heavy; for tho their doings are not perfect, yet they are well
taken for Christ's sake.

You must not be offended because the Scripture commends love so highly,
for he that commends the daughter commends the mother; for love is the
daughter, and faith is the mother: love floweth out of faith; where
faith is, there is love; but yet we must consider their offices, faith
is the hand wherewith we take hold on everlasting life.

Now let us enter into ourselves, and examine our own hearts, whether we
are in the livery of God, or not: and when we find ourselves to be out
of this livery, let us repent and amend our lives, so that we may come
again to the favor of God, and spend our time in this world to His honor
and glory, forgiving our neighbors all such things as they have done
against us.

And now to make an end: mark here who gave this precept of love--Christ
our Savior Himself. When and at what time? At His departing, when He
should suffer death. Therefore these words ought the more to be
regarded, seeing He Himself spake them at His last departing from us.
May God of His mercy give us grace so to walk here in this world,
charitably and friendly one with another, that we may attain the joy
which God hath prepared for all those that love Him. Amen.




MELANCHTHON

THE SAFETY OF THE VIRTUOUS


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Philip Melanchthon (Schwarzerd) was born at Bretten, in Baden, in 1497.
His name is noteworthy as first a fellow laborer and eventually a
controversial antagonist of Luther. At the Diet of Augsburg, in 1530, he
was the leading representative of the Reformation. He formulated the
twenty-eight articles of the evangelical faith known as the "Augsburg
Confession." The Lutherans of extreme Calvinistic views were alienated
by Melanchthon's subsequent modifications of this confession, and by his
treatises in ethics. He and his followers were bitterly assailed, but
his irenic spirit did not forsake him. He was a true child of the
Renaissance, and is styled by some writers "the founder of general
learning throughout Europe." While he was never called or ordained to
the ministry of the Church, he was in the habit of addressing the local
religious assemblies or collegia from time to time, and, being a man of
profound piety, his sympathetic and natural style of delivery made him
an impressive speaker. He died in 1560, and his body was laid beside
that of Martin Luther.



MELANCHTHON
1497--1560

THE SAFETY OF THE VIRTUOUS

_Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand._--John x, 28.


To Thee, almighty and true God, eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
maker of heaven and earth, and of all creatures, together with Thy Son
our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost--to Thee, the wise, good,
true, righteous, compassionate, pure, gracious God, we render thanks
that Thou hast hitherto upheld the Church in these lands, and graciously
afforded it protection and care, and we earnestly beseech Thee evermore
to gather among us an inheritance for Thy Son, which may praise Thee to
all eternity.

I have in these, our assemblies, often uttered partly admonitions and
partly reproofs, which I hope the most of you will bear in mind. But
since I must presume that now the hearts of all are wrung with a new
grief and a new pang by reason of the war in our neighborhood, this
season seems to call for a word of consolation. And, as we commonly say,
"Where the pain is there one claps his hand," I could not, in this so
great affliction, make up my mind to turn my discourse upon any other
subject. I do not, indeed, doubt that you yourselves seek comfort in the
divine declarations, yet will I also bring before you some things
collected therefrom, because always that on which we had ourselves
thought becomes more precious to us when we hear that it proves itself
salutary also to others. And because long discourses are burdensome in
time of sorrow and mourning, I will, without delay, bring forward that
comfort which is the most effectual.

Our pains are best assuaged when something good and beneficial,
especially some help toward a happy issue, presents itself. All other
topics of consolation, such as men borrow from the unavoidableness of
suffering, and the examples of others, bring us no great alleviation.
But the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified for us and
raised again, and now sits at the right hand of the Father, offers us
help and deliverance, and has manifested this disposition in many
declarations. I will now speak of the words: "No man shall pluck my
sheep out of my hand." This expression has often raised me up out of the
deepest sorrow, and drawn me, as it were, out of hell.

The wisest men in all times have bewailed the great amount of human
misery which we see with our eyes before we pass into eternity--diseases,
death, want, our own errors, by which we bring harm and punishment on
ourselves, hostile men, unfaithfulness on the part of those with whom we
are closely connected, banishment, abuse, desertion, miserable children,
public and domestic strife, wars, murder, and devastation. And since
such things appear to befall good and bad without distinction, many wise
men have inquired whether there were any Providence, or whether accident
brings everything to pass independent of a divine purpose? But we in the
Church know that the first and principal cause of human woe is this,
that on account of sin man is made subject to death and other calamity,
which is so much more vehement in the Church, because the devil, from
the hatred toward God, makes fearful assaults on the Church and strives
to destroy it utterly.

Therefore it is written: "I will put enmity between the serpent and the
seed of the woman." And Peter says: "Your adversary, the devil, as a
roaring lion, walketh about and seeketh whom he may devour."

Not in vain, however, has God made known to us the causes of our misery.
We should not only consider the greatness of our necessity, but also
discern the causes of it, and recognize His righteous anger against sin,
to the end that we may, on the other hand, perceive the Redeemer and the
greatness of His compassion; and as witnesses to these, His
declarations, He adds the raising of dead men to life, and other
miracles.

Let us banish from our hearts, therefore, the unbelieving opinions which
imagine that evils befall us by mere chance, or from physical causes.

But when thou considerest the wounds in thy own circle of relations, or
dost cast a glance at the public disorders in the State, which again
afflict the individual also (as Solon says: "The general corruption
penetrates even to thy quiet habitation"), then think, first, of thy own
and others' sins, and of the righteous wrath of God; and, secondly,
weigh the rage of the devil, who lets loose his hate chiefly in the
Church.

In all men, even the better class, great darkness reigns. We see not how
great an evil sin is, and regard not ourselves as so shamefully defiled.
We flatter ourselves, in particular, because we profess a better
doctrine concerning God. Nevertheless, we resign ourselves to a careless
slumber, or pamper each one his own desires; our impurity, the disorders
of the Church, the necessity of brethren, fills us not with pain;
devotion is without fire and fervor; zeal for doctrine and discipline
languishes, and not a few are my sins, and thine, and those of many
others, by reason of which such punishments are heaped upon us.

Let us, therefore, apply our hearts to repentance, and direct our eyes
to the Son of God, in respect to whom we have the assurance that, after
the wonderful counsel of God, He is placed over the family of man, to be
the protector and preserver of his Church.

We perceive not fully either of our wretchedness or our dangers, or the
fury of enemies, until after events of extraordinary sorrowfulness.
Still we ought to reflect thus: there must exist great need and a
fearful might and rage of enemies, since so powerful a protector has
been given to us, even God's Son. When He says: "No man shall pluck my
sheep out of my hand," He indicates that He is no idle spectator of woe,
but that mighty and incessant strife is going on. The devil incites his
tools to disturb the Church or the political commonwealth, that
boundless confusion may enter, followed by heathenish desolation. But
the Son of God, who holds in His hands, as it were, the congregation of
those who call upon His name, hurls back the devils by His infinite
power, conquers and chases them thence, and will one day shut them up in
the prison of hell, and punish them to all eternity with fearful pains.
This comfort we must hold fast in regard to the entire Church, as well
as each in regard to himself.

If, in these distracted and warring times, we see States blaze up and
fall to ruin, then look away to the Son of God, who stands in the secret
counsel of the Godhead and guards His little flock and carries the weak
lambs, as it were, in His own hands. Be persuaded that by Him thou also
shalt be protected and upheld.

Here some, not rightly instructed, will exclaim: "Truly I could wish to
commend myself to such a keeper, but only His sheep does He preserve.
Whether I also am counted in that flock, I know not." Against this
doubt we must most strenuously contend, for the Lord Himself assures us
in this very passage, that all who "hear and with faith receive the
voice of the gospel are His sheep"; and He says expressly: "If a man
love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will
come to him and make our abode with him." These promises of the Son of
God, which can not be shaken, we must confidently appropriate to
ourselves. Nor shouldst thou, by thy doubts, exclude thyself from this
blest flock, which originates in the righteousness of the gospel. They
do not rightly distinguish between the law and the gospel, who, because
they are unworthy, reckon not themselves among the sheep. Rather is this
consolation afforded us, that we are accepted "for the Son of God's
sake," truly, without merit, not on account of our own righteousness,
but through faith, because we are unworthy, and impure, and far from
having fulfilled the law of God. That is, moreover, a universal promise,
in which the Son of God saith: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

The eternal Father earnestly commands that we should hear the Son, and
it is the greatest of all transgressions if we despise Him and do not
approve His voice. This is what every one should often and diligently
consider, and in this disposition of the Father, revealed through the
Son, find grace.

Altho, amid so great disturbances, many a sorrowful spectacle meets
thine eye, and the Church is rent by discord and hate, and manifold and
domestic public necessity is added thereto, still let not despair
overcome thee, but know thou that thou hast the Son of God for a keeper
and protector, who will not suffer either the Church, or thee, or thy
family, to be plucked out of His hand by the fury of the devil.

With all my heart, therefore, do I supplicate the Son of God, our Lord
Jesus Christ, who, having been crucified for us, and raised again, sits
at the right hand of the Father, to bless men with His gifts, and to Him
I pray that He would protect and govern this little church and me
therein. Other sure trust, in this great flame when the whole world is
on fire, I discern nowhere. Each one has his separate hopes, and each
one with his understanding seeks to repose in something else; but
however good that may all be, it is still a far better, and
unquestionably a more effectual, consolation to flee to the Son of God
and expect help and deliverances from Him.

Such wishes will not be in vain. For to this end are we laden with such
a crowd of dangers, that in events and occurrences which to human
prudence are an inexplicable enigma, we may recognize the infinite
goodness and presentness of God, in that He, for His Son's sake, and
through His Son, affords us aid. God will be owned in such deliverance
just as in the deliverance of your first parents, who, after the fall,
when they were forsaken by all the creatures, were upheld by the help of
God alone. So was the family of Noah in the flood, so were the
Israelites preserved when in the Red Sea they stood between the towering
walls of waters. These glorious examples are held up before us, that we
might know, in like manner, the Church, without the help of any created
beings, is often preserved. Many in all times have experienced such
divine deliverance and support in their personal dangers, as David
saith: "My father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord taketh me
up"; and in another place David saith: "He hath delivered the wretched,
who hath no helper." But in order that we may become partakers of these
so great blessings, faith and devotion must be kindled within us, as it
stands written, "Verily, I say unto you!" So likewise must our faith be
exercised, that before deliverance we should pray for help and wait for
it, resting in God with a certain cheerfulness of soul; and that we
should not cherish continual doubt and melancholy murmuring in our
hearts, but constantly set before our eyes the admonition of God: "The
peace of God which passeth all understanding keep your heart and mind";
which is to say, be so comforted in God, in time of danger, that your
hearts, having been strengthened by confidence in the pity and
presentness of God, may patiently wait for help and deliverance, and
quietly maintain that peaceful serenity which is the beginning of
eternal life, and without which there can be no true devotion.

For distrust and doubt produce a gloomy and terrible hate toward God,
and that is the beginning of the eternal torments, and a rage like that
of the devil.

Now you must guard against these billows in the soul, and these stormy
agitations, and, by meditation on the precious promises of God, keep and
establish your hearts.

Truly these times allow not the wonted security and the wonted
intoxication of the world, but they demand that with honest groans we
should cry for help, as the Lord saith, "Watch and pray that ye fall not
into temptation," that ye may not, being overcome by despair, plunge
into everlasting destruction. There is need of wisdom to discern the
dangers of the soul, as well as the safeguard against them. Souls go to
ruin as well when, in epicurean security, they make light of the wrath
of God as when they are overcome by doubt and cast down by anxious
sorrow, and these transgressions aggravate the punishment. The godly, on
the other hand, who by faith and devotion keep their hearts erect and
near to God, enjoy the beginning of eternal life and obtain mitigation
of the general distress.

We, therefore, implore Thee, Son of God, Lord Jesus Christ, who, having
been crucified and raised for us, standest in the secret counsel of the
Godhead, and makest intercession for us, and hast said: "Come unto me,
all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." I call
upon Thee, and with my whole heart beseech Thee, according to Thine
infinite compassion, forgive us our sins. Thou knowest that in our great
weakness we are not able to bear the burden of our woe. Do Thou,
therefore, afford us aid in our private and public necessities; be Thou
our shelter and protector, uphold the churches in these lands, and all
which serves for their defense and safeguard.




KNOX

THE FIRST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

John Knox, the great Scottish reformer, was born at Giffordgate, four
miles from Haddington, Scotland, in 1505. He first made his appearance
as a preacher in Edinburgh, where he thundered against popery, but was
imprisoned and sent to the galleys in 1546. In 1547 Edward VI secured
his release and made him a royal chaplain, when he acquired the
friendship of Cranmer and other reformers. On the accession of Mary
(1553) he took refuge on the Continent. In 1556 he accepted the charge
of a church in Geneva, but, after three years of tranquillity, returned
to Scotland and became a popular leader of the Reformation in that
country. His eloquence lashed the multitude to enthusiasm and acts of
turbulent violence. As a preacher his style was direct and fearless,
often fiery, and he had a habit of pounding the pulpit to emphasize
particular truths. He died in 1572.



KNOX
1505--1572

THE FIRST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST

_Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted
of the devil_.--Matt. iv., 1.


The cause moving me to treat of this place of Scripture is, that such as
by the inscrutable providence of God fall into divers temptations, judge
not themselves by reason thereof to be less acceptable in God's
presence. But, on the contrary, having the way prepared to victory by
Jesus Christ, they shall not fear above measure the crafty assaults of
that subtle serpent Satan; but with joy and bold courage, having such a
guide as here is pointed forth, such a champion, and such weapons as
here are to be found (if with obedience we will hear, and unfeigned
faith believe), we may assure ourselves of God's present favor, and of
final victory, by the means of Him, who, for our safeguard and
deliverance, entered in the battle, and triumphed over His adversary,
and all his raging fury. And that this being heard and understood, may
the better be kept in memory; this order, by God's grace, we propose to
observe, in treating the matter: First, What this word temptation
meaneth, and how it is used within the Scriptures. Secondly, Who is here
tempted and at what time this temptation happened. Thirdly, How and by
what means He was tempted. Fourthly, Why He should suffer these
temptations, and what fruits ensue to us from the same.

First, Temptation, or to tempt, in the Scriptures of God, is called to
try, to prove, or to assault the valor, the power, the will, the
pleasure, or the wisdom--whether it be of God, or of creatures. And it
is taken sometimes in good part, as when it is said that God tempted
Abraham; God tempted the people of Israel; that is, God did try and
examine them, not for His own knowledge, to whom nothing is hid, but to
certify others how obedient Abraham was to God's commandment, and how
weak and inferior Israelites were in their journey toward the promised
land. And this temptation is always good, because it proceeds
immediately from God, to open and make manifest the secret motions of
men's hearts, the puissance and power of God's word, and the great
lenity and gentleness of God toward the iniquities (yea, horrible sins
and rebellions) of those whom He hath received into His regimen and
care. For who could have believed that the bare word of God could so
have moved the heart and affections of Abraham, that to obey God's
commandment he determined to kill, with his own hand, his best-beloved
son Isaac? Who could have trusted that, so many torments as Job
suffered, he should not speak in all his great temptation one foolish
word against God? Or who could have thought that God so mercifully
should have pardoned so many and so manifest transgressions committed by
His people in the desert, and yet that His mercy never utterly left
them, but still continued with them, till at length he performed His
promise made to Abraham? Who, I say, would have been persuaded of these
things, unless by trials and temptations taken of His creatures by God,
they had come by revelation made in His holy Scriptures to our
knowledge? And so this kind of temptation is profitable, good, and
necessary, as a thing proceeding from God, who is the fountain of all
goodness, to the manifestation of His own glory, and to the profit of
the suffered, however the flesh may judge in the hour of temptation.
Otherwise temptation, or to tempt, is taken in evil part; that is, he
that assaults or assails intends destruction and confusion to him that
is assaulted. As when Satan tempted the women in the garden, Job by
divers tribulations, and David by adultery. The scribes and Pharisees
tempted Christ by divers means, questions, and subtleties. And of this
matter, saith St. James, "God tempteth no man"; that is, by temptation
proceeding immediately from Him He intends no man's destruction. And
here you shall note, that altho Satan appears sometimes to prevail
against God's elect, yet he is ever frustrated of his final purpose. By
temptation He led Eve and David from the obedience of God, but He could
not retain them forever under His thraldom. Power was granted to Him to
spoil Job of his substance and children, and to strike his body with a
plague and sickness most vile and fearful, but He could not compel his
mouth to blaspheme God's majesty; and, therefore, altho we are laid open
sometimes, as it were, to tribulation for a time, it is that when He has
poured forth the venom of His malice against God's elect it may return
to His own confusion, and that the deliverance of God's children may be
more to His glory, and the comfort of the afflicted: knowing that His
hand is so powerful, His mercy and good-will so prompt, that He delivers
His little ones from their cruel enemy, even as David did his sheep and
lambs from the mouth of the lion. For a little benefit received in
extreme danger more moves us than the preservation from ten thousand
perils, so that we fall not into them. And yet to preserve from dangers
and perils so that we fall not into them, whether they are of body or
spirit, is no less the work of God than to deliver from them; but the
weakness of our faith does not perceive it: this I leave at the present.

Also, to tempt means simply to prove or try without any determinate
purpose or profit or damage to ensue; as when the mind doubteth of
anything, and therein desires to be satisfied, without great love or
extreme hatred of the thing that is tempted or tried. David tempted;
that is, tried himself if he could go in harness. (I Sam. xvii.) And
Gideon said, "Let not thine anger kindle against me, if I tempt thee
once again." So the Queen of Sheba came to tempt Solomon in subtle
questions. This famous queen, not fully trusting the report and fame
that was spread of Solomon, by subtle questions desired to prove his
wisdom; at the first, neither extremely hating nor fervently loving the
person of the king. And David, as a man not accustomed to harness, would
try how he was able to go, and behave and fashion himself therein,
before he would hazard battle with Goliath so armed. And Gideon, not
satisfied in his conscience by the first that he received, desired,
without contempt or hatred of God, a second time to be certified of his
vocation. In this sense must the apostle be expounded when he commands
us to tempt; that is, to try and examine ourselves, if we stand in the
faith. Thus much for the term.

Now to the person tempted, and to the time and place of his temptation.
The person tempted is the only well-beloved Son of God; the time was
immediately after His baptism; and the place was the desert or
wilderness. But that we derive advantage from what is related, we must
consider the same more profoundly. That the Son of God was thus tempted
gives instructions to us, that temptations, altho they be ever so
grievous and fearful, do not separate us from God's favor and mercy, but
rather declare the great graces of God to appertain to us, which makes
Satan to rage as a roaring lion; for against none does He so fiercely
fight as against those of whose hearts Christ has taken possession.

The time of Christ's temptation is here most diligently to be noted. And
that was, as Mark and Luke witness, immediately after the voice of God
the Father had commended His Son to the world, and had visibly pointed
to Him by the sign of the Holy Ghost; He was led or moved by the Spirit
to go to a wilderness, where forty days he remained fasting among the
wild beasts. This Spirit which led Christ into the wilderness was not
the devil, but the holy Spirit of God the Father, by whom Christ, as
touching His human and manly nature, was conducted and led; likewise by
the same Spirit He was strengthened and made strong, and, finally,
raised up from the dead. The Spirit of God, I say, led Christ to the
place of His battle, where He endured the combat for the whole forty
days and nights. As Luke saith, "He was tempted," but in the end most
vehemently, after His continual fasting, and that He began to be hungry.
Upon this forty days and this fasting of Christ do our Papists found
and build their Lent; for, say they, all the actions of Christ are our
instructions; what He did we ought to follow. But He fasted forty days,
therefore we ought to do the like. I answer, that if we ought to follow
all Christ's actions, then ought we neither to eat nor drink for the
space of forty days, for so fasted Christ; we ought to go upon the
waters with our feet; to cast out devils by our word; to heal and cure
all sorts of maladies; to call again the dead to life; for so did
Christ. This I write only that men may see the vanity of those who,
boasting themselves of wisdom, have become fools.

Did Christ fast those forty days to teach us superstitious fasting? Can
the Papists assure me, or any other man, which were the forty days that
Christ fasted? plain it is he fasted the forty days and nights that
immediately followed His baptism, but which they were, or in what month
was the day of His baptism, Scripture does not express; and altho the
day were exprest, am I or any Christian bound to counterfeit Christ's
actions as the ape counterfeits the act or work of man? He Himself
requires no such obedience of His true followers, but saith to the
apostles, "Go and preach the gospel to all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; commanding them to
observe and keep all that I have commanded you." Here Christ Jesus
requires the observance of His precepts and commandments, not of His
actions, except in so far as He had also commanded them; and so must the
apostle be understood when he saith, "Be followers of Christ, for Christ
hath suffered for us, that we should follow His footsteps," which can
not be understood of every action of Christ, either in the mystery of
our redemption, or in His actions and marvelous works, but only of those
which He hath commanded us to observe. But where the Papists are so
diligent in establishing their dreams and fantasies, they lose the
profit that here is to be gathered; that is, why Christ fasted those
forty days; which were a doctrine more necessary for Christians than to
corrupt the simple hearts with superstition, as tho the wisdom of God,
Christ Jesus, had taught us no other mystery by His fasting than the
abstinence from flesh, or once on the day to eat flesh, for the space of
forty days. God hath taken a just vengeance upon the pride of such men,
while He thus confounds the wisdom of those that do most glory in
wisdom, and strikes with blindness such as will be guides and lanterns
to the feet of others, and yet refuse themselves to hear or follow the
light of God's word. From such deliver thy poor flock, O Lord!

The uses of Christ's fasting these forty days I find chiefly to be two:
The first, to witness to the world the dignity and excellence of His
vocation, which Christ, after His baptism, was to take upon Him openly;
the other, to declare that he entered into battle willingly for our
cause, and does, as it were, provoke his adversary to assault Him: altho
Christ Jesus, in the eternal counsel of His Father, was appointed to be
the Prince of Peace, the angel (that is, the messenger) of His
testament, and He alone that could fight our battles for us, yet He did
not enter in execution of it, in the sight of men, till He was commended
to mankind by the voice of His heavenly Father; and as He was placed and
anointed by the Holy Ghost by a visible sign given to the eyes of men.
After which time He was led to the desert, and fasted, as before is
said; and this He did to teach us with what fear, carefulness, and
reverence the messengers of the Word ought to enter on their vocation,
which is not only most excellent (for who is worthy to be God's
ambassador?) but also subject to most extreme troubles and dangers. For
he that is appointed pastor, watchman, or preacher, if he feed not with
his whole power, if he warn and admonish not when he sees the snare
come, and if, in doctrine, he divide not the Word righteously, the blood
and souls of those that perish for lack of food, admonition, and
doctrine shall be required of his hand.

But to our purpose; that Christ exceeded not the space of forty days in
His fasting, He did it to the imitation of Moses and Elias; of whom, the
one before the receiving of the law, and the other before the
communication and reasoning which he had with God in Mount Horeb, in
which He was commanded to anoint Hazael king over Syria, and Jehu king
over Israel, and Elisha to be prophet, fasted the same number of days.
The events that ensued and followed this supernatural fasting of these
two servants of God, Moses and Elias, impaired and diminished the
tyranny of the kingdom of Satan. For by the law came the knowledge of
sin, the damnation of such impieties, specially of idolatry, and such as
the devil had invented; and, finally, by the law came such a revelation
of God's will that no man could justly afterward excuse his sin by
ignorance, by which the devil before had blinded many. So that the law,
altho it might not renew and purge the heart, for that the Spirit of
Christ Jesus worketh by faith only, yet it was a bridle that did hinder
and stay the rage of external wickedness in many, and was a schoolmaster
that led unto Christ. For when man can find no power in himself to do
that which is commanded, and perfectly understands, and when he believes
that the curse of God is pronounced against those that abide not in
everything that is commanded in God's law to do them--the man, I say,
that understands and knows his own corrupt nature and God's severe
judgment, most gladly will receive the free redemption offered by Christ
Jesus, which is the only victory that overthrows Satan and his power.
And so by the giving of the law God greatly weakened, impaired, and made
frail the tyranny and kingdom of the devil. In the days of Elias, the
devil had so prevailed that kings and rulers made open war against God,
killing His prophets, destroying His ordinances, and building up
idolatry, which did so prevail that the prophet complained that of all
the true fearers and worshipers of God he was left alone, and wicked
Jezebel sought His life also. After this, his fasting and complaint, he
was sent by God to anoint the persons aforenamed, who took such
vengeance upon the wicked and obstinate idolaters that he who escaped
the sword of Hazael fell into the hands of Jehu, and those whom Jehu
left escaped not God's vengeance under Elisha.

The remembrance of this was fearful to Satan, for, at the coming of
Christ Jesus, impiety was in the highest degree among those that
pretended most knowledge of God's will; and Satan was at such rest in
his kingdom that the priests, scribes and Pharisees had taken away the
key of knowledge; that is, they had so obscured and darkened God's Holy
Scriptures, by false glosses and vain traditions, that neither would
they themselves enter into the kingdom of God, nor suffer and permit
others to enter; but with violence restrained, and with tyranny struck
back from the right way, that is, from Christ Jesus Himself, such as
would have entered into the possession of life everlasting by Him.
Satan, I say, having such dominion over the chief rulers of the visible
Church, and espying in Christ, such graces as before he had not seen in
man, and considering Him to follow in fasting the footsteps of Moses and
Elias, no doubt greatly feared that the quietness and rest of his most
obedient servants, the priests, and their adherents, would be troubled
by Christ. And, therefore, by all engines and craft, he assaults Him to
see what advantage he could have of Him. And Christ did not repel him,
as by the power of His Godhead He might have done, that he should not
tempt Him, but permitted him to spend all his artillery, and received
the strokes and assaults of Satan's temptations in His own body, to the
end He might weaken and enfeeble the strength and tyrannous power of our
adversary by His long suffering. For thus, methinks, our Master and
Champion, Jesus Christ, provoked our enemy to battle: "Satan, thou
gloriest of thy power and victories over mankind, that there is none
able to withstand thy assaults, nor escape thy darts, but at one time
or other thou givest him a wound: lo! I am a man like to my brethren,
having flesh and blood, and all properties of man's nature (sin, which
is thy venom, excepted); tempt, try, and assault me; I offer you here a
place most convenient--the wilderness. There shall be no mortal to
comfort me against thy assaults; thou shalt have time sufficient; do
what thou canst, I shall not fly the place of battle. If thou become
victor, thou shalt still continue in possession of thy kingdom in this
wretched world; but if thou canst not prevail against me, then must thy
prey and unjust spoil be taken from thee; thou must grant thyself
vanquished and confounded, and must be compelled to leave off from all
accusation of the members of my body; for to them appertains the fruit
of my battle, my victory is theirs, as I am appointed to take the
punishment of their sins in my body."

What comfort ought the remembrance of these signs to be to our hearts!
Christ Jesus hath fought our battle; He Himself hath taken us into His
care and protection; however the devil may rage by temptations, be they
spiritual or corporeal, he is not able to bereave us out of the hand of
the almighty Son of God. To Him be all glory for His mercies most
abundantly poured upon us!

There remains yet to be spoken of the time when our Lord was tempted,
which began immediately after His baptism. Whereupon we have to note
the mark, that altho the malice of Satan never ceases, but always seeks
for means to trouble the godly, yet sometimes he rages more fiercely
than others, and that is commonly when God begins to manifest His love
and favor to any of His children, and at the end of their battle, when
they are nearest to obtain final victory. The devil, no doubt, did at
all times envy the humble spirit that was in Abel, but he did not stir
up the cruel heart of Cain against him till God declared His favor
toward him by accepting his sacrifice. The same we find in Jacob,
Joseph, David, and most evidently in Christ Jesus. How Satan raged at
the tidings of Christ's nativity! what blood he caused to be shed on
purpose to have murdered Christ in His infancy! The evangelist St.
Matthew witnesses that in all the coasts and borders of Bethlehem the
children of two years old and less age were murdered without mercy. A
fearful spectacle and horrid example of insolent and unaccustomed
tyranny! And what is the cause moving Satan thus to rage against
innocents, considering that by reason of their imperfections they could
not hurt his kingdom at that instant? Oh, the crafty eye of Satan looked
farther than to the present time; he heard reports by the three wise
men, that they had learned by the appearance of a star that the King of
the Jews was born; and he was not ignorant that the time prophesied of
Christ's coming was then instant; for a stranger was clad with the crown
and scepter of Judah. The angel had declared the glad tidings to the
shepherds, that a Savior, which was Christ the Lord, was born in the
city of David. All these tidings inflamed the wrath and malice of Satan,
for he perfectly understood that the coming of the promised Seed was
appointed to his confusion, and to the breaking down of his head and
tyranny; and therefore he raged most cruelly, even at the first hearing
of Christ's birth, thinking that altho he could not hinder nor withstand
His coming, yet he could shorten his days upon earth, lest by long life
and peaceable quietness in it, the number of good men, by Christ's
doctrine and virtuous life, should be multiplied; and so he strove to
cut Him away among the other children before He could open His mouth on
His Father's message. Oh, cruel serpent! in vain dost thou spend thy
venom, for the days of God's elect thou canst not shorten! And when the
wheat is fallen on the ground, then doth it most multiply.

But from these things mark, what hath been the practise of the devil
from the beginning--most cruelly to rage against God's children when God
begins to show them His mercy. And, therefore, marvel not, dearly
beloved, altho the like come unto you.

If Satan fume or roar against you, whether it be against your bodies by
persecution, or inwardly in your conscience by a spiritual battle, be
not discouraged, as tho you were less acceptable in God's presence, or
as if Satan might at any time prevail against you. No; your temptations
and storms, that arise so suddenly, argue and witness that the seed
which is sown is fallen on good ground, begins to take root and shall,
by God's grace, bring forth fruit abundantly in due season and
convenient time. That is it which Satan fears, and therefore thus he
rages, and shall rage against you, thinking that if he can repulse you
now suddenly in the beginning, that then you shall be at all times an
easy prey, never able to resist his assaults. But as my hope is good,
so shall my prayer be, that so you may be strengthened, that the world
and Satan himself may perceive or understand that God fights your
battle. For you remember that being present with you and treating of the
same place, I admonished you that Satan could not long sleep when his
kingdom was threatened. And therefore I willed you, if you were in mind
to continue with Christ, to prepare yourselves for the day of
temptation. The person of the speaker is wretched, miserable, and
nothing to be regarded, but the things that were spoken are the
infallible and eternal truth of God; without observation of which, life
neither can or shall come to mankind. God grant you continuance to the
end.

This much have I briefly spoken of the temptation of Christ Jesus, who
was tempted; and of the time and place of His temptation. Now remains to
be spoken how He was tempted, and by what means. The most part of
expositors think that all this temptation was in spirit and in
imagination only, the corporeal senses being nothing moved. I will
contend with no man in such cases, but patiently will I suffer every man
to abound in his own knowledge; and without prejudice of any man's
estimation, I offer my judgment to be weighed and considered by
Christian charity. It appears to me by the plain text that Christ
suffered this temptation in body and spirit. Likewise, as the hunger
which Christ suffered, and the desert in which He remained, were not
things offered to the imagination, but that the body did verily remain
in the wilderness among beasts, and after forty days did hunger and
faint for lack of food; so the external ear did hear the tempting words
of Satan, which entered into the knowledge of the soul, and which,
repelling the venom of such temptations, caused the tongue to speak and
confute Satan, to our unspeakable comfort and consolation. It appears
also that the body of Christ Jesus was carried by Satan from the
wilderness unto the temple of Jerusalem, and that it was placed upon
the pinnacle of the same temple, from whence it was carried to a high
mountain and there tempted. If any man can show to the contrary hereof
by the plain Scriptures of God, with all submission and thanksgiving I
will prefer his judgment to my own; but if the matter stand only in
probability and opinion of men, then it is lawful for me to believe as
the Scripture here speaks; that is, that Satan spake and Christ
answered, and Satan took Him and carried Him from one place to another.
Besides the evidence of the text affirming that Satan was permitted to
carry the body of Christ from place to place, and yet was not permitted
to execute any further tyranny against it, is most singular comfort to
such as are afflicted or troubled in body or spirit. The weak and feeble
conscience of man under such temptations, commonly gathers and collects
a false consequence. For man reasons thus: The body or the spirit is
vexed by assaults and temptations of Satan, and he troubles or molests
it, therefore God is angry with it, and takes no care of it. I answer,
tribulations or grievous vexations of body or of mind are never signs of
God's displeasure against the sufferer, neither yet does it follow that
God has cast away the care of His creatures because He permits them to
be molested and vexed for a time. For if any sort of tribulation were
the infallible sign of God's displeasure, then should we condemn the
best beloved children of God. But of this we may speak hereafter. Now to
the temptation.

Verse 2. "And when he fasteth forty days and forty nights, He was
afterwards an hungered." Verse 3. 'Then came to Him the tempter,' and
said, 'If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made
bread,' etc. Why Christ fasted forty days and would not exceed the same,
without sense and feeling of hunger, is before touched upon, that is, He
would provoke the devil to battle by the wilderness and long abstinence,
but He would not usurp or arrogate any more to Himself in that case than
God had wrought with others, His servants and messengers before. But
Christ Jesus (as St. Augustine more amply declares), without feeling of
hunger, might have endured the whole year, or to time without end, as
well as He did endure the space of forty days. For the nature of mankind
was sustained those forty days by the invisible power of God, which is
at all times of equal power. But Christ, willing to offer further
occasion to Satan to proceed in tempting of Him, permitted the human
nature to crave earnestly that which it lacked, that is to say,
refreshing of meat; which Satan perceiving took occasion, as before, to
tempt and assault. Some judge that Satan tempted Christ to gluttony, but
this appears little to agree with the purpose of the Holy Ghost; who
shows us this history to let us understand that Satan never ceases to
oppugn the children of God, but continually, by one mean or other,
drives or provokes them to some wicked opinions of their God; and to
have them desire stones to be converted into bread, or to desire hunger
to be satisfied, has never been sin, nor yet a wicked opinion of God.
And therefore I doubt not but the temptation was more spiritual, more
subtle, and more dangerous. Satan had respect to the voice of God, which
had pronounced Christ to be His well-beloved Son, etc. Against this
voice he fights, as his nature is ever to do against the assured and
immutable Word of God; for such is his malice against God, and against
His chosen children, that where and to whom God pronounces love and
mercy, to these he threatens displeasures and damnation; and where God
threatens death, there is he bold to pronounce life; and for this course
is Satan called a liar from the beginning. And so the purpose of Satan
was to drive Christ into desperation, that he should not believe the
former voice of God His Father; which appears to be the meaning of this
temptation: "Thou hast heard," would Satan say, "a voice proclaimed in
the air, that Thou wast the beloved Son of God, in whom His soul was
pleased; but mayst Thou not be judged more than mad, and weaker than the
brainless fool if Thou believest any such promise? Where are the signs
of His love? Art Thou not cast out from comfort of all creatures? Thou
art in worse case than the brute beasts, for every day they hunt for
their prey, and the earth produces grass and herbs for their sustenance,
so that none of them are pined and consumed away by hunger; but Thou
hast fasted forty days and nights, ever waiting for some relief and
comfort from above, but Thy best provision is hard stones! If Thou dost
glory in thy God, and dost verily believe the promise that is made,
command that these stones be bread. But evident it is that so Thou canst
not do; for if Thou couldst, or if Thy God would have showed Thee any
such pleasure, Thou mightest long ago have removed Thy hunger, and
needest not have endured this languishing for lack of food. But seeing
Thou hast long continued thus, and no provision is made for Thee, it is
vanity longer to believe any such promise, and therefore despair of any
help from God's hand, and provide for Thyself by some other means!"

Many words have I used here, dearly beloved, but I can not express the
thousandth part of the malicious despite which lurked in this one
temptation of Satan. It was a mocking of Christ and of His obedience. It
was a plain denial of God's promise. It was the triumphing voice of him
that appeared to have gotten victory. Oh, how bitter this temptation
was no creature can understand but such as feel the grief of such darts
as Satan casts at the tender conscience of those that gladly would rest
and repose in God, and in the promises of His mercy. But here is to be
noted the ground and foundation. The conclusion of Satan is this: Thou
art none of God's elect, much less His well-beloved Son. His reason is
this: Thou art in trouble and findest no relief. There the foundation of
the temptation was Christ's poverty, and the lack of food without hope
of remedy to be sent from God. And it is the same temptation which the
devil objected to Him by the princes of the priests in His grievous
torments upon the cross; for thus they cried, "If he be the Son of God,
let him come down from the cross and we will believe in him; he trusted
in God, let him deliver him, if he have the pleasure in him." As tho
they would say, God is the deliverer of His servants from troubles; God
never permits those that fear Him to come to confusion; this man we see
in extreme trouble; if He be the Son of God, or even a true worshiper of
His name, He will deliver Him from this calamity. If He deliver Him not,
but suffer Him to perish in these anguishes, then it is an assured sign
that God has rejected Him as a hypocrite, that shall have no portion of
His glory. Thus, I say, Satan takes occasion to tempt, and moves also
others to judge and condemn God's elect and chosen children, by reason
that troubles are multiplied upon them.

But with what weapons we ought to fight against such enemies and
assaults we shall learn in the answer of Christ Jesus, which follows:
But He, answering, said "It is written, man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God." This
answer of Christ proves the sentence which we have brought of the
aforesaid temptation to be the very meaning of the Holy Ghost; for
unless the purpose of Satan has been to have removed Christ from all
hope of God's merciful providence toward Him in that His necessity,
Christ had not answered directly to his words, saying, "Command that
these stones be made bread." But Christ Jesus, perceiving his art and
malicious subtility, answered directly to his meaning, His words nothing
regarded; by which Satan was so confounded that he was ashamed to reply
any further.

But that you may the better understand the meaning of Christ's answer,
we will express and repeat it over in more words. "Thou laborest,
Satan," would Christ say, "to bring into my heart a doubt and suspicion
of My Father's promise, which was openly proclaimed in My baptism, by
reason of My hunger, and that I lack all carnal provision. Thou art bold
to affirm that God takes no care for Me, but thou art a deceitful and
false corrupt sophister, and thy argument, too, is vain, and full of
blasphemies; for thou bindest God's love, mercy, and providence to the
having or wanting of bodily provision, which no part of God's Scriptures
teach us, but rather the express contrary. As it is written, 'Man doth
not live by bread alone, but by every word that proeeedeth out of the
mouth of God,' that is, the very life and felicity of man consists not
in the abundance of bodily things, or the possession and having of them
makes no man blest or happy; neither shall the lack of them be the cause
of his final misery; but the very life of man consists in God, and in
His promises pronounced by His own mouth, unto which whoso cleaves
unfeignedly shall live the life everlasting. And altho all creatures in
earth forsake him, yet shall not his bodily life perish till the time
appointed by God approach. For God has means to feed, preserve, and
maintain, unknown to man's reason, and contrary to the common course of
nature. He fed His people Israel in the desert forty years without the
provision of man. He preserved Jonah in the whale's belly; and
maintained and kept the bodies of the three children in the furnace of
fire. Reason and the natural man could have seen nothing in these cases
but destruction and death, and could have judged nothing but that God
had cast away the care of these, His creatures, and yet His providence
was most vigilant toward them in the extremity of their dangers, from
which He did so deliver them, and in the midst of them did so assist
them, that His glory, which is His mercy and goodness, did more appear
and shine after their troubles than it could have done if they had
fallen in them. And therefore I measure not the truth and favor of God
by having or by lacking of bodily necessities, but by the promise which
He has made to me. As He Himself is immutable, so is His word and
promise constant, which I believe, and to which I will adhere, and so
cleave, whatever can come to the body outwardly."

In this answer of Christ we may perceive what weapons are to be used
against our adversary the devil, and how we may confute his arguments,
which craftily, and of malice, he makes against God's elect. Christ
might have repulsed Satan with a word, or by commanding him to silence,
as He to whom all power was given in heaven and earth; but it pleased
His mercy to teach us how to use the sword of the Holy Ghost, which is
the word of God, in battle against our spiritual enemy. The Scripture
which Christ brings is written in the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy. It
was spoken by Moses a little before His death, to establish the people
in God's merciful providence. For in the same chapter, and in certain
others that go before, He reckons the great travail and divers dangers
with the extreme necessities that they had sustained in the desert the
space of forty years, and yet, notwithstanding how constant God had been
in keeping and performing His promise, for throughout all perils He had
conducted them to the sight and borders of the promised land. And so
this Scripture more directly answers to the temptation of Satan; for
thus does Satan reason, as before is said, "Thou art in poverty and hast
no provision to sustain thy life. Therefore God takes no regard nor care
of Thee, as He doth over His chosen children." Christ Jesus answered:
"Thy argument is false and vain; for poverty or necessity precludes not
the providence or care of God; which is easy to be proved by the people
of God, Israel, who, in the desert, oftentimes lacked things necessary
to the sustenance of life, and for lack of the same they grudged and
murmured; yet the Lord never cast away the providence and care of them,
but according to the word that He had once pronounced, to wit, that they
were His peculiar people; and according to the promise made to Abraham,
and to them before their departure from Egypt, He still remained their
conductor and guide, till He placed them in peaceable possession of the
land of Canaan, their great infirmities and manifold transgressions
notwithstanding."

Thus are we taught, I say, by Christ Jesus, to repulse Satan and his
assaults by the Word of God, and to apply the examples of His mercies,
which He has shown to others before us, to our own souls in the hour of
temptation, and in the time of our trouble. For what God doth to one at
any time, the same appertains to all that depend upon God and His
promises. And, therefore, however we are assaulted by Satan, our
adversary, within the Word of God is armor and weapons sufficient. The
chief craft of Satan is to trouble those that begin to decline from his
obedience, and to declare themselves enemies to iniquity, with divers
assaults, the design whereof is always the same; that is, to put
variance betwixt them and God into their conscience, that they should
not repose and rest themselves in His assured promises. And to persuade
this, he uses and invents divers arguments. Sometimes he calls the sins
of their youth, and which they have committed in the time of blindness,
to their remembrance; very often he objects their unthankfulness toward
God and present imperfections. By sickness, poverty, tribulations in
their household, or by persecution, he can allege that God is angry, and
regard them not. Or by the spiritual cross which few feel and fewer
understand the utility and profit of, he would drive God's children to
desperation, and by infinite means more, he goeth about seeking, like a
roaring lion, to undermine and destroy our faith. But it is impossible
for him to prevail against us unless we obstinately refuse to use the
defense and weapons that God has offered. Yea, I say, that God's elect
can not refuse it, but seek for their Defender when the battle is most
strong; for the sobs, groans, and lamentations of such as fight, yea,
the fear they have lest they be vanquished, the calling and prayer for
continuance, are the undoubted and right seeking of Christ our champion.
We refuse not the weapon, altho sometimes, by infirmity, we can not use
it as we would. It suffices that your hearts unfeignedly sob for greater
strength, for continuance, and for final deliverance by Christ Jesus;
that which is wanting in us, His sufficiency doth supply; for it is He
that fighteth and overcometh for us. But for bringing of the examples of
the Scriptures, if God permit, in the end we shall speak more largely
when it shall be treated why Christ permitted Himself thus to be
tempted. Sundry impediments now call me from writing in this matter,
but, by God's grace, at convenient leisure I purpose to finish, and to
send it to you. I grant the matter that proceeds from me is not worthy
of your pain and labor to read it; yet, seeing it is a testimony of my
good mind toward you, I doubt not but you will accept it in good part.
God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant unto you to find favor
and mercy of the Judge, whose eyes and knowledge pierce through the
secret cogitations of the heart, in the day of temptation, which shall
come upon all flesh, according to that mercy which you (illuminated and
directed by His Holy Spirit) have showed to the afflicted. Now the God
of all comfort and consolation confirm and strengthen you in His power
unto the end. Amen.




CALVIN

ENDURING PERSECUTION FOR CHRIST


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

John Calvin was born in 1509, at Noyon, France. He has been called the
greatest of Protestant commentators and theologians, and the inspirer of
the Puritan exodus. He often preached every day for weeks in succession.
He possest two of the greatest elements in successful pulpit oratory,
self-reliance and authority. It was said of him, as it was afterward
said of Webster, that "every word weighed a pound." His style was
simple, direct, and convincing. He made men think. His splendid
contributions to religious thought, and his influence upon individual
liberty, give him a distinguished place among great reformers and
preachers. His idea of preaching is thus exprest in his own words: "True
preaching must not be dead, but living and effective. No parade of
rhetoric, but the Spirit of God must resound in the voice in order to
operate with power." He died at Geneva in 1564.



CALVIN
1509--1564

ENDURING PERSECUTION FOR CHRIST

_Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp bearing his
reproach_.--Hebrews xiii., 13.


All the exhortations which can be given us to suffer patiently for the
name of Jesus Christ, and in defense of the gospel, will have no effect
if we do not feel assured of the cause for which we fight. For when we
are called to part with life, it is absolutely necessary to know on what
grounds. The firmness necessary we can not possess, unless it be founded
on certainty of faith.

It is true that persons may be found who will foolishly expose
themselves to death in maintaining some absurd opinions and dreams
conceived by their own brain, but such impetuosity is more to be
regarded as frenzy than as Christian zeal; and, in fact, there is
neither firmness nor sound sense in those who thus, at a kind of
haphazard, cast themselves away. But, however this may be, it is in a
good cause only that God can acknowledge us as His martyrs. Death is
common to all, and the children of God are condemned to ignominy and
tortures as criminals are; but God makes the distinction between them,
inasmuch as He can not deny His truth. On our part, then, it is
requisite that we have sure and infallible evidence of the doctrine
which we maintain; and hence, as I have said, we can not be rationally
imprest by any exhortations which we receive to suffer persecution for
the gospel, if no true certainty of faith has been imprinted in our
hearts. For to hazard our life upon a peradventure is not natural, and
tho we were to do it, it would only be rashness, not Christian courage.
In a word, nothing that we do will be approved of God if we are not
thoroughly persuaded that it is for Him and His cause we suffer
persecution, and the world is our enemy.

Now, when I speak of such persuasion, I mean not merely that we must
know how to distinguish between true religion and the abuses or follies
of men, but also that we must be thoroughly persuaded of the heavenly
life, and the crown which is promised us above, after we shall have
fought here below. Let us understand, then, that both of these
requisites are necessary, and can not be separated from each other. The
points, accordingly, with which we must commence are these: We must know
well what our Christianity is, what the faith which we have to hold and
follow, what the rule which God has given us; and we must be so well
furnished with such instructions as to be able boldly to condemn all the
falsehoods, errors, and superstitions which Satan has introduced to
corrupt the pure simplicity of the doctrine of God. Hence, we ought not
to be surprized that, in the present day, we see so few persons disposed
to suffer for the gospel, and that the greater part of those who call
themselves Christians know not what it is. For all are, as it were,
lukewarm; and instead of making it their business to hear or read, count
it enough to have had some slight taste of Christian faith. This is the
reason why there is so little decision, and why those who are assailed
immediately fall away. This fact should stimulate us to inquire more
diligently into divine truth, in order to be well assured with, regard
to it.

Still, however, to be well informed and grounded is not the whole that
is necessary. For we see some who seem to be thoroughly imbued with
sound doctrine, and who, notwithstanding, have no more zeal or affection
than if they had never known any more of God than some fleeting fancy.
Why is this? Just because they have never comprehended the majesty of
the Holy Scriptures. And, in fact, did we, such as we are, consider well
that it is God who speaks to us, it is certain that we would listen more
attentively, and with greater reverence. If we would think that in
reading Scripture we are in the school of angels, we would be far more
careful and desirous to profit by the doctrine which is propounded to
us.

We now see the true method of preparing to suffer for the gospel. First,
We must have profited so far in the school of God as to be decided in
regard to true religion and the doctrine which we are to hold; and we
must despise all the wiles and impostures of Satan, and, all human
inventions, as things not only frivolous but also carnal, inasmuch as
they corrupt Christian purity; therein differing, like true martyrs of
Christ, from the fantastic persons who suffer for mere absurdities.
Second, Feeling assured of the good cause, we must be inflamed,
accordingly, to follow God whithersoever He may call us: His Word must
have such authority with us as it deserves, and having withdrawn from
this world, we must feel as it were enraptured in seeking the heavenly
life.

But it is more than strange that, tho the light of God is shining more
brightly than it ever did before, there is a lamentable want of zeal! If
the thought does not fill us with shame, so much the worse. For we must
shortly come before the great Judge, where the iniquity which we
endeavor to hide will be brought forward with such upbraidings that we
shall be utterly confounded. For, if we are obliged to bear testimony to
God, according to the measure of the knowledge which He has given us,
to what is it owing, I would ask, that we are so cold and timorous in
entering into battle, seeing that God has so fully manifested Himself at
this time that He may be said to have opened to us and displayed before
us the great treasures of His secrets? May it not be said that we do not
think we have to do with God? For had we any regard to His Majesty we
would not dare to turn the doctrine which proceeds from Him into some
kind of philosophic speculation. In short, it is impossible to deny that
it is our great shame, not to say fearful condemnation, that we have so
well known the truth of God, and have so little courage to maintain it!

Above all, when we look to the martyrs of past times, well may we detest
our own cowardice! The greater part of those were not persons much
versed in Holy Scripture, so as to be able to dispute on all subjects.
They knew that there was one God, whom they behooved to worship and
serve--that they had been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, in
order that they might place their confidence of salvation in Him and in
His grace--and that, all the inventions of men being mere dross and
rubbish, they ought to condemn all idolatries and superstitions. In one
word, their theology was in substance this--There is one God who created
all the world, and declared His will to us by Moses and the prophets,
and finally by Jesus Christ and His apostles; and we have one sole
Redeemer, who purchased us by His blood, and by whose grace we hope to
be saved: All the idols of the world are curst, and deserve execration.

With a system embracing no other points than these, they went boldly to
the flames, or to any other kind of death. They did not go in twos or
threes, but in such bands that the number of those who fell by the hands
of tyrants is almost infinite! We, on our part, are such learned clerks
that none can be more so (so at least we think), and, in fact, so far as
regards the knowledge of Scripture, God has so spread it out before us
that no former age was ever so highly favored. Still, after all, there
is scarcely a particle of zeal. When men manifest such indifference, it
looks as if they were bent on provoking the vengeance of God.

What then should be done in order to inspire our breasts with true
courage? We have, in the first place, to consider how precious the
confession of our faith is in the sight of God. We little know how much
God prizes it, if our life, which is nothing, is valued by us more
highly. When it is so, we manifest a marvelous degree of stupidity. We
can not save our life at the expense of our confession with out
acknowledging that we hold it in higher estimation than the honor of
God and the salvation of our souls.

A heathen could say that "It was a miserable thing to save life by
giving up the only things which made life desirable!" And yet he and
others like him never knew for what end men are placed in the world, and
why they live in it. It is true they knew enough to say that men ought
to follow virtue, to conduct themselves honestly and without reproach;
but all their virtues were mere paint and smoke. We know far better what
the chief aim of life should be, namely, to glorify God, in order that
He may be our glory. When this is not done, wo to us! And we can not
continue to live for a single moment upon the earth without heaping
additional curses on our heads. Still we are not ashamed to purchase
some few days to languish here below, renouncing eternal kingdom by
separating ourselves from Him by whose energy we are sustained in life.

Were we to ask the most ignorant, not to say the most brutish, persons
in the world why they live, they would not venture to answer simply that
it is to eat, and drink, and sleep; for all know that they have been
created for a higher and holier end. And what end can we find if it be
not to honor God, and allow ourselves to be governed by Him, like
children by good parents; so that after we have finished the journey of
this corruptible life, we may be received into His eternal inheritance?
Such is the principal, indeed the sole end. When we do not take it into
account, and are intent on a brutish life, which is worse than a
thousand deaths, what can we allege for our excuse? To live and not know
why is unnatural. To reject the causes for which we live, under the
influence of a foolish longing for a respite of some few days, during
which we are to live in the world, while separated from God--I know not
how to name such infatuation and madness!

But as persecution is always harsh and bitter, let us consider how and
by what means Christians may be able to fortify themselves with
patience, so as unflinchingly to expose their life for the truth of God.
The text which we have read out, when it is properly understood, is
sufficient to induce us to do so. The apostle says, Let us go forth from
the city after the Lord Jesus, bearing His reproach. In the first place,
he reminds us, altho the swords should not be drawn against us nor the
fires kindled to burn us, that we can not be truly united to the Son of
God while we are rooted in this world. Wherefore a Christian, even in
repose, must always have one foot lifted to march to battle, and not
only so, but he must have his affections withdrawn from the world, altho
his body is dwelling in it. Grant that this at first sight seems to us
hard, still we must be satisfied with the words of St. Paul (I Thess.
iii.), that we are called and appointed to suffer. As if He had said,
Such is our condition as Christians; this is the road by which we must
go if we would follow Christ.

Meanwhile, to solace our infirmity and mitigate the vexation and sorrow
which persecution might cause us, a good reward is held forth: In
suffering for the cause of God, we are walking step by step after the
Son of God, and have Him for our guide. Were it simply said that to be
Christians we must pass through all the insults of the world boldly, to
meet death at all times and in whatever way God may be pleased to
appoint, we might apparently have some pretext for replying that it is a
strange road to go at peradventure. But when we are commanded to follow
the Lord Jesus, His guidance is too good and honorable to be refused.
Now, in order that we may be more deeply moved, not only is it said that
Jesus Christ walks before us as our Captain, but that we are made
conformable to His image; so St. Paul says in the eighth chapter to the
Romans that God hath ordained all those whom He hath adopted for His
children, to be made conformable to Him who is the pattern and head of
all.

Are we so delicate as to be unwilling to endure anything? Then we must
renounce the grace of God by which He has called us to the hope of
salvation. For there are two things which can not be separated--to be
members of Christ, and to be tried by many afflictions. We certainly
ought to prize such a conformity to the Son of God much more than we do.
It is true, that in the world's judgment there is disgrace in suffering
for the gospel. But since we know that believers are blind, ought we not
to have better eyes than they? It is ignominy to suffer from those who
occupy the seat of justice, but St. Paul shows us by his example that we
have to glory in scourings for Jesus Christ, as marks by which God
recognizes us and avows us for His own. And we know what St. Luke
narrates of Peter and John (Acts v., 41); namely, that they rejoiced to
have been counted worthy to suffer infamy and reproach for the name of
the Lord Jesus.

Ignominy and dignity are two opposites: so says the world, which, being
infatuated, judges against all reason, and in this way converts the
glory of God into dishonor. But, on our part, let us not refuse to be
vilified as concerns the world, in order to be honored before God and
His angels. We see what pains the ambitious take to receive the commands
of a king, and what a boast they make of it. The Son of God presents His
commands to us, and every one stands back. Tell me, pray, whether in so
doing are we worthy of having anything in common with Him? there is
nothing here to attract our sensual nature, but such notwithstanding
are the true escutcheons of nobility in the heavens. Imprisonment,
exile, evil report, imply in men's imagination whatever is to be
vituperated; but what hinders us from viewing things as God judges and
declares them, save our unbelief? Wherefore, let the name of the Son of
God have all the weight with us which it deserves, that we may learn to
count it honor when He stamps His marks upon us. If we act otherwise our
ingratitude is insupportable.

Were God to deal with us according to our desserts, would He not have
just cause to chastise us daily in a thousand ways? Nay more, a hundred
thousand deaths would not suffice for a small portion of our misdeeds!
Now, if in His infinite goodness He puts all our faults under His foot
and abolishes them, and instead of punishing us according to our
demerit, devises an admirable means to convert our afflictions into
honor and a special privilege, inasmuch as through them we are taken
into partnership with His Son, must it not be said, when we disdain such
a happy state, that we have indeed made little progress in Christian
doctrine?

Accordingly, St. Peter, after exhorting us (I Peter iv., 15) to walk so
purely in the fear of God, as not to suffer as thieves, adulterers, and
murderers, immediately adds, that if we must suffer as Christians, let
us glorify God for the blessing which He thus bestows upon us. It is
not without cause he speaks thus. For who are we, I pray, to be
witnesses of the truth of God, and advocates to maintain His cause? Here
we are poor worms of the earth, creatures full of vanity, full of lies,
and yet God employs us to defend His truth--an honor which pertains not
even to the angels of heaven! May not this consideration alone well
inflame us to offer ourselves to God to be employed in any way in such
honorable service?

Many persons, however, can not refrain from pleading against God, or, at
least, from complaining against Him for not better supporting their
weakness. It is marvelously strange, they say, how God, after having
chosen us for His children, allows us to be trampled upon and tormented
by the ungodly. I answer: Even were it not apparent why He does so, He
might well exercise His authority over us, and fix our lot at His
pleasure. But when we see that Jesus Christ is our pattern, ought we
not, without inquiring further, to esteem it great happiness that we are
made like Him? God, however, makes it very apparent what the reasons are
for which He is pleased that we should be persecuted. Had we nothing
more than the consideration suggested by St. Peter (I Peter i., 7), we
were disdainful indeed not to acquiesce in it. He says that since gold
and silver, which are only corruptible metals, are purified and tested
by fire, it is but reasonable that our faith, which surpasses all the
riches of the world, should be so tried.

It were easy indeed for God to crown us at once without requiring us to
sustain any combats; but as it is His pleasure that until the end of the
world Christ shall reign in the midst of His enemies, so it is also His
pleasure that we, being placed in the midst of them, shall suffer their
oppression and violence till He deliver us. I know, indeed, that the
flesh rebels when it is to be brought to this point, but still the will
of God must have the mastery. If we feel some repugnance in ourselves,
it need not surprize us; for it is only too natural for us to shun the
cross. Still let us not fail to surmount it, knowing that God accepts
our obedience, provided we bring all our feelings and wishes into
captivity, and make them subject to Him.

When prophets and apostles went to death, it was not without feeling
some inclination to recoil. "They shall carry thee whither thou wouldst
not," said our Lord Jesus Christ to Peter. (John xxi., 18.) When such
fears of death arise within us, let us gain the mastery over them, or
rather let God gain it; and meanwhile, let us feel assured that we offer
Him a pleasing sacrifice when we resist and do violence to our
inclinations for the purpose of placing ourselves entirely under His
command: This is the principle war in which God would have His people
to be engaged. He would have them strive to suppress every rebellious
thought and feeling which would turn them aside from the path to which
He points. And the consolations are so ample that it may well be said,
we are more than cowards if we give away!

In ancient times vast numbers of people, to obtain a simple crown of
leaves, refused no toil, no pain, no trouble; nay, it even cost them
nothing to die, and yet every one of them fought for a peradventure, not
knowing whether he was to gain or to lose the prize. God holds forth to
us the immortal crown by which we may become partakers of His glory: He
does not mean us to fight at haphazard, but all of us have a promise of
the prize for which we strive. Have we any cause then to decline the
struggle? Do we think it has been said in vain that if we die with Jesus
Christ we shall also live with Him? Our triumph is prepared, and yet we
do all we can to shun the combat.

But it is said that all we teach on this subject is repugnant to human
judgment. I confess it. And hence when our Savior declares, "Blest are
they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake" (Matt, v., 10), He
gives utterance to a sentiment which is not easily received in the
world. On the contrary, He wishes to account that as happiness which in
the judgment of sense is misery. We seem to ourselves miserable when
God leaves us to be trampled upon by the tyranny and cruelty of our
enemies; but the error is that we look not to the promises of God, which
assure us that all will turn to our good. We are cast down when we see
the wicked stronger than we, and planting their foot on our throat; but
such confusion should rather, as St. Paul says, cause us to lift up our
heads. Seeing we are too much disposed to amuse ourselves with present
objects, God in permitting the good to be maltreated, and the wicked to
have sway, shows by evident tokens that a day is coming on which all
that is now in confusion will be reduced to order. If the period seems
distant, let us run to the remedy, and not flatter ourselves in our sin;
for it is certain that we have no faith if we can not carry our views
forward to the coming of Jesus Christ.

To leave no means which may be fitted to stimulate us unemployed, God
sets before us promises on the one hand and threatenings on the other.
Do we feel that the promises have not sufficient influence, let us
strengthen them by adding the threatenings. It is true we must be
perverse in the extreme not to put more faith in the promises of God,
when the Lord Jesus says that He will own us as His before His Father,
provided we confess Him before men. (Matt x., 32; Luke xii., 8.) What
should prevent us from making the confession which He requires? Let men
do their utmost, they can not do worse than murder us! and will not the
heavenly life compensate for this? I do not here collect all the
passages in Scripture which bear on this subject: they are so often
reiterated that we ought to be thoroughly satisfied with them. When the
struggle comes, if three or four passages do not suffice, a hundred
surely ought to make us proof against all contrary temptations.

But if God can not will us to Himself by gentle means, must we not be
mere blocks if His threatening also fail? Jesus Christ summons all those
who from fear of temporal death shall have denied the truth, to appear
at the bar of God his Father, and says, that then both body and soul
will be consigned to perdition. (Matt. x., 28; Luke xii., 5.) And in
another passage He says that He will disclaim all those who shall have
denied Him before men. (Matt. x., 33; Luke xii., 10.) These words, if we
are not altogether impervious to feeling, might well make our hair stand
on end. Be this as it may, this much is certain; if these things do not
move us as they ought, nothing remains for us but a fearful judgment.
(Heb. x., 27.) All the words of Christ having proved unavailing, we
stand convinced of gross infidelity.

It is in vain for us to allege that pity should be shown us, inasmuch as
our nature is so frail; for it is said, on the contrary, that Moses,
having looked to God by faith, was fortified so as not to yield under
any temptation. Wherefore, when we are thus soft and easy to bend, it is
a manifest sign, I do not say that we have no zeal, no firmness, but
that we know nothing either of God or His kingdom. When we are reminded
that we ought to be united to our Head, it seems to us a fine pretext
for exemption to say that we are men. But what were those who have
trodden the path before us? Indeed, had we nothing more than pure
doctrine, all the excuses we could make would be frivolous; but having
so many examples which ought to supply us with the strongest proof, the
more deserving are we of condemnation.

There are two points to be considered. The first is, that the whole body of
the Church in general has always been, and to the end will be, liable to
be afflicted by the wicked, as is said in the Psalms (Psalms cxxix., 1),
"From my youth up they have tormented me, and dragged the plow over me
from one end to the other." The Holy Spirit there brings in the ancient
Church, in order that we, after being much acquainted with her afflictions,
may not regard it as either new or vexatious when the like is done to
ourselves in the present day. St. Paul, also, in quoting from another
Psalm (Rom. vii., 36; Psalm xliv., 22), a passage which says, "We have
been led like sheep to the slaughter"; shows that that has not been for
one age only, but is the ordinary condition of the Church, and shall be.

Therefore, on seeing how the Church of God is trampled upon in the
present day by proud worldlings, how one barks and another bites, how
they torture, how they plot against her, how she is assailed incessantly
by mad dogs and savage beasts, let it remind us that the same thing was
done in all the olden time. It is true God sometimes gives her a truce
and time of refreshment, and hence in the Psalm above quoted it is said,
"He cutteth the cords of the wicked"; and in another passage (Psalm
cxxv., 3), "He breaks their staff, lest the good should fall away, by
being too hardly pressed." But still it has pleased Him that His Church
should always have to battle so long as she is in this world, her repose
being treasured up on high in the heavens. (Heb. iii., 9.)

Meanwhile, the issue of her afflictions has always been fortunate. At
all events, God has caused that tho she has been prest by many
calamities, she has never been completely crusht; as it is said (Psalm
vii., 15), "The wicked with all their efforts have not succeeded in that
at which they aimed." St. Paul glories in the fact, and shows that this
is the course which God in mercy always takes. He says (I Cor. iv., 12)
that we endure tribulations, but we are not in agony; we are
impoverished, but not left destitute; we are persecuted, but not
forsaken; cast down, but we perish not; bearing everywhere in our body
the mortification of the Lord Jesus, in order that His life may be
manifested in our mortal bodies. Such being, as we see, the issue which
God has at all times given to the persecutions of His Church, we ought
to take courage, knowing that our forefathers, who were frail men like
ourselves, always had the victory over their enemies by remaining firm
in endurance.

I only touch upon this article briefly to come to the second, which is
more to our purpose, viz., that we ought to take advantage of the
particular examples of the martyrs who have gone before us. These are
not confined to two or three, but are, as the apostle says (Heb. xii., 1),
"So great a cloud of witnesses." By this expression he intimates that
the number is so great that it ought, as it were, completely to engross
our sight. Not to be tedious, I will only mention the Jews, who were
persecuted for the true religion, as well under the tyranny of King
Antiochus as a little after his death. We can not allege that the number
of sufferers was small, for it formed, as it were, a large army of
martyrs. We can not say that it consisted of prophets whom God had set
apart from common people, for women and young children formed part of
the band. We can not say that they got off at a cheap rate, for they
were tortured as cruelly as it was possible to be. Accordingly, we hear
what the apostle says (Heb. xi., 35), that some were stretched out like
drums, not caring to be delivered, that they might obtain a better
resurrection; others were proved by mockery and blows, or bonds and
prisons; others were stoned or sawn asunder; others traveled up and
down, wandering among mountains and caves.

Let us now compare their case with ours. If they so endured for the
truth which was at that time so obscure, what ought we to do in the
clear light which is now shining? God speaks to us with open mouth; the
great gate of the kingdom of heaven has been opened, and Jesus Christ
calls us to Himself, after having come down to us that we might have
him, as it were, present to our eyes. What a reproach would it be to us
to have less zeal in suffering for the gospel than those who had only
hailed the promises afar off--who had only a little wicket opened
whereby to come to the kingdom of God, and who had only some memorial
and type of Jesus Christ? These things can not be exprest in a word, as
they deserve, and therefore I leave each to ponder them for himself.

The doctrine now laid down, as it is general, ought to be carried into
practise by all Christians, each applying it to his own use according
as may be necessary. This I say, in order that those who do not see
themselves in apparent danger may not think it superfluous as regards
them. They are not at this hour in the hands of tyrants, but how do they
know what God means to do with them hereafter? We ought therefore to be
so forearmed that if some persecution which we did not expect arrives,
we may not be taken unawares. But I much fear that there are many deaf
ears in regard to this subject. So far are those who are sheltered and
at their ease from preparing to suffer death when need shall be that
they do not even trouble themselves about serving God in their lives. It
nevertheless continues true that this preparation for persecution ought
to be our ordinary study, and especially in the times in which we live.

Those, again, whom God calls to suffer for the testimony of His name
ought to show by deeds that they have been thoroughly trained to patient
endurance. Then ought they to recall to mind all the exhortations which
were given them in times past, and bestir themselves just as the soldier
rushes to arms when the tempest sounds. But how different is the result.
The only question is how to find out subterfuges for escaping. I say
this in regard to the greater part; for persecution is a true touchstone
by which God ascertains who are His. And few are so faithful as to be
prepared to meet death boldly.

It is a kind of monstrous thing, that persons who make a boast of having
a little of the gospel, can venture to open their lips to give utterance
to such quibbling. Some will say, What do we gain by confessing our
faith to obstinate people who have deliberately resolved to fight
against God? Is not this to cast pearls before swine? As if Jesus Christ
had not distinctly declared (Matt viii., 38) that He wishes to be
confest among the perverse and malignant. If they are not instructed
thereby, they will at all events remain confounded; and hence confession
is an odor of a sweet smell before God, even tho it be deadly to the
reprobate. There are some who say, What will our death profit? Will it
not rather prove an offense? As if God hath left them the choice of
dying when they should see it good and find the occasion opportune. On
the contrary, we approve our obedience by leaving in His hand the profit
which is to accrue from our death.

In the first place, then, the Christian man, wherever he may be, must
resolve, notwithstanding dangers or threatings, to walk in simplicity as
God has commanded. Let him guard as much as he can against the ravening
of the wolves, but let it not be with carnal craftiness. Above all, let
him place his life in the hands of God. Has he done so?

Then if he happens to fall into the hands of the enemy, let him think
that God, having so arranged, is pleased to have him for one of the
witnesses of His Son, and therefore that he has no means of drawing back
without breaking faith with Him to whom we have promised all duty in
life and in death--Him whose we are and to whom we belong, even though
we should have made no promise.

In saying this I do not lay all under the necessity of making a full and
entire confession of everything which they believe, even should they be
required to do so. I am aware also of the measure observed by St. Paul,
altho no man was ever more determined boldly to maintain the cause of
the gospel as he ought. And hence it is not without cause our Lord
promises to give us, on such an occasion, "a mouth and wisdom" (Luke
xxi., 15); as if he had said, that the office of the Holy Spirit is not
only to strengthen us to be bold and valiant, but also to give us
prudence and discretion, to guide us in the course which it will be
expedient to take.

The substance of the whole is, that those who are in such distress are
to ask and obtain such prudence from above, not following their own
carnal wisdom, in searching out for a kind of loop-hole by which to
escape. There are some who tell us that our Lord Himself gave no answer
to those who interrogated Him. But I rejoin, First, That this does not
abolish the rule which He has given us to make confession of our faith
when so required. (I Peter iii., 15.) Secondly, That He never used any
disguise to save His life: and, Thirdly, That He never gave an answer so
ambiguous as not to embody a sufficient testimony to all that He had to
say; and that, moreover, He had already satisfied those who came to
interrogate Him anew, with the view not obtaining information, but
merely of laying traps to ensnare Him.

Let it be held, then, as a fixed point among all Christians, that they
ought not to hold their life more precious than the testimony to the
truth, inasmuch as God wishes to be glorified thereby. Is it in vain
that He gives the name of witnesses (for this is the meaning of the word
martyr) to all who have to answer before the enemies of the faith? Is it
not because He wished to employ them for such a purpose? Here every one
is not to look for his fellow, for God does not honor all alike with the
call. And as we are inclined so to look, we must be the more on our
guard against it. Peter having heard from the lips of our Lord Jesus
(John xxi., 18) that he should be led in his old age where he would not,
asked, What was to become of his companion John? There is not one among
us who would not readily have put the same question; for the thought
which instantly rises in our mind is, Why do I suffer rather than
others? On the contrary, Jesus Christ exhorts all of us in common, and
each of us in particular, to hold ourselves "ready," in order that
according as He shall call this one or that one, we may march forth in
our turn.

I explained above how little prepared we shall be to suffer martyrdom,
if we be not armed with the divine promises. It now remains to show
somewhat more fully what the purport and aim of these promises are--not
to specify them all in detail, but to show the principal things which
God wishes us to hope from Him, to console us in our afflictions. Now
these things, taken summarily, are three. The first is, that inasmuch as
our life and death are in His hand, He will preserve us by His might
that not a hair will be plucked out of our heads without His leave.
Believers, therefore, ought to feel assured into whatever hands they may
fall, that God is not divested of the guardianship which He exercises
over their persons. Were such a persuasion well imprinted on our hearts,
we should be delivered from the greater part of the doubts and
perplexities which torment us and obstruct us in our duty.

We see tyrants let loose: thereupon it seems to us that God no longer
possesses any means of saving us, and we are tempted to provide for our
own affairs as if nothing more were to be expected from Him. On the
contrary, His providence, as He unfolds it, ought to be regarded by us
as an impregnable fortress. Let us labor, then, to learn the full import
of the expression, that our bodies are in the hands of Him who created
them. For this reason He has sometimes delivered His people in a
miraculous manner, and beyond all human expectation, as Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego, from the fiery furnace, Daniel from the den of
lions; Peter from Herod's prison, where he was locked, chained, and
guarded so closely. By these examples He meant to testify that He holds
our enemies in check, altho it may not seem so, and has power to
withdraw us from the midst of death when He pleases. Not that He always
does it; but in reserving authority to Himself to dispose of us for life
and for death, He would have us to feel fully assured that He has us
under His charge; so that whatever tyrants attempt, and with whatever
fury they may rush against us, it belongs to Him alone to order our
life.

If He permits tyrants to slay us, it is not because our life is not dear
to Him, and held in a hundred times greater honor than it deserves. Such
being the case, having declared by the mouth of David (Psalm cxvi., 13),
that the death of the saints is precious in His sight, He says also by
the mouth of Isaiah (xxvi., 21), that the earth will discover the blood
which seems to be concealed. Let the enemies of the gospel, then, be as
prodigal as they will of the blood of martyrs, they shall have to
render a fearful account of it even to its last drop. In the present
day, they indulge in proud derision while consigning believers to the
flames; and after having bathed in their blood, they are intoxicated by
it to such a degree as to count all the murders which they commit mere
festive sport. But if we have patience to wait, God will show in the end
that it is not in vain He has taxed our life at so high a value.
Meanwhile, let it not offend us that it seems to confirm the gospel,
which in worth surpasses heaven and earth.

To be better assured that God does not leave us as it were forsaken in
the hands of tyrants, let us remember the declarations of Jesus Christ,
when He says (Acts ix., 4) that He Himself is persecuted in His members.
God had indeed said before, (Zech. ii., 8), "He who touches you touches
the apple of mine eye." But here it is said much more expressly, that if
we suffer for the gospel, it is as much as if the Son of God were
suffering in person. Let us know, therefore, that Jesus Christ must
forget Himself before He can cease to think of us when we are in prison,
or in danger of death for His cause; and let us know that God will take
to heart all the outrages which tyrants commit upon us, just as if they
were committed on His own Son.

Let us now come to the second point which God declares to us in His
promise for our consolation. It is, that He will so sustain us by the
energy of His Spirit that our enemies, do what they may, even with Satan
at their head, will gain no advantage over us. And we see how He
displays His gifts in such an emergency; for the invincible constancy
which appears in the martyrs abundantly and beautifully demonstrates
that God works in them mightily. In persecution there are two things
grievous to the flesh, the vituperation and insult of men, and the
tortures which the body suffers. Now, God promises to hold out His hand
to us so effectually, that we shall overcome both by patience. What He
thus tells us He confirms by fact. Let us take this buckler, then, to
ward off all fears by which we are assailed, and let us not confine the
working of the Holy Spirit within such narrow limits as to suppose that
He will not easily defeat all the cruelties of men.

Of this we have had, among other examples, one which is particularly
memorable. A young man who once lived with us here, having been
apprehended in the town of Tournay, was condemned to have his head cut
off if he recanted, and to be burned alive if he continued steadfast to
his purpose. When asked what he meant to do, he replied simply, "He who
will give me grace to die patiently for His name, will surely give me
grace to bear the fire." We ought to take this expression not as that of
a mortal man, but as that of the Holy Spirit, to assure us that God is
not less powerful to strengthen us, and render us victorious over
tortures, than to make us submit willingly to a milder death. Moreover,
we oftentimes see what firmness he gives to unhappy malefactors who
suffer for their crimes. I speak not of the hardened, but of those who
derive consolation from the grace of Jesus Christ, and by His means,
with a peaceful heart, undergo the most grievous punishment which can be
inflicted. One beautiful instance is seen in the thief who was converted
at the death of our Lord. Will God, who thus powerfully assists poor
criminals when enduring the punishment of their misdeeds, be so wanting
to His own people, while fighting for His cause, as not to give them
invincible courage?

The third point for consideration in the promises which God gives His
martyrs is, the fruit which they ought to hope for from their
sufferings, and in the end, if need be, from their death. Now, this
fruit is, that after having glorified His Name--after having edified the
Church by their constancy--they, will be gathered together with the Lord
Jesus into His immortal glory. But as we have above spoken of this at
some length, it is enough here to recall it to remembrance. Let
believers, then, learn to lift up their heads towards the crown of glory
and immortality to which God invites them, thus they may not feel
reluctant to quit the present life for such a recompense; and, to feel
well assured of this inestimable blessing, let them have always before
their eyes the conformity which they thus have to our Lord Jesus Christ;
beholding death in the midst of life, just as He, by the reproach of the
cross, attained to the glorious resurrection, wherein consists all our
felicity, joy, and triumph.




END OF VOL. I.






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