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I. The Christian man is a most free lord of all, sub
ject to none.
all, subject to all.
Though these two things may seem to be contradictions, yet when they shall be found to harmonize, they will sweetly make for our present purpose. Both these propositions then are of Paul himself, who saith, i Cor. ix., “ For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all.” Again, Rom. xiii
. “ Owe no man any thing, but to love one another.” For the nature of love is, to be dutiful and affectionately obedient unto the object beloved. Thus Christ, though Lord of all, was yet " made of a woman, made under the law;" at the same time free, and a servant; at the same time, in the form of God, and in the form of a servant, Gal. iv.
But let us at the beginning, enter into these things
liberty; nor, on the other hand, be of any avail to cause
For, what can it avail unto the liberty of the soul, if
, therefore, reach to the liberty or bondage of the soul.
So also, it can avail nothing unto this liberty, if the body be adorned with holy robes after the manner of priests; if it be continually in holy places and occupied in holy duties ; if it pray, fast, and abstain from certain meats ; if it perform every holy exercise that is wrought, or can be wrought by the body. Something far beyond all this is necessary unto the righteousness and liberty of the soul! For all the things just mentioned may be performed by any, even the most wicked, nor would they, after all
, be any more than hypocrites !-On the other hand
, it cannot injure the liberty of the soul, if the body be clothed in common garments, and continue in common places; if it eat, and drink as do others; if it never pray aloud; if it do none of all those services which, we have just observed, may be done by hypocrites.
In a word, to reject all things :-neither speculations, meditations, nor the greatest devotional efforts of which the human mind is capable, avail any thing. One thing, and that only can effect the life, the righteousness, and the liberty of a Christian—and that is, the most holy Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ: as he saith John xi., “ I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me shall never die.” Again, John viii., “ If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” And again, Matt. iv., "“ Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth
. of God."
This, then we may consider as a fixed and absolute certainty; that the soul may endure the want of every thing but the Word of God. Deprived of this, it cannot receive benefit from any one thing; but having this, it is rich, wanting nothing: for it is the Word of life, of truth, of light, of peace, of righteousness, of salvation, of joy, of liberty, of wisdom, of strength, of grace, of glory, EW of all good that passeth understanding! And this is the reason why the prophet, throughout the whole of his Octonary, and in many other places, sighs out so many prayers, cries, and groans, concerning the Word of God?
And hence, as, on the one hand, no greater plague The can be inflicted by the anger of God than when he sends a famine of hearing the Word, as in Amos viii.; so, on the other, there can be no greater token of his favour than when he sends his Word : as in Psalm cvii., "He sent his Word and healed them, and delivered them out of their destructions." Nor was Christ sent unto any other office, than that of the Word. Nor was the apostolical, episcopal, nor the whole ministerial order, called and ordained to any other purpose, than the ministry of the Word.
But you will ask which Word of God is this? and how must it be made use of? for there are so many words of God.--I answer, the apostle Paul, Rom. i., explains which it is. The gospel of God concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was incarnate, and crucified; and who is risen again, and glorified by the Holy Ghost the sanctifier. For, the preaching of Christ, feeds, justifies, sets free, and saves the soul that believeth what is preached. For faith alone is the saving and effectual use of the Word of God : as in Romans x., “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Again, “ Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” And again, Romans i., “The just shall live
that in do
by his faith.” Nor can the word of God be received and embraced by any works whatever, but by faith only. And therefore it is clear, that as the soul needs nothing but the Word unto life and righteousness, it is justified, without any works, by faith only. For if it could be justified by any thing else, it would have no need of the Word
; and consequently no need of faith. And moreover, this faith can by no means consist together with any works: that is, if thou presume to be justified by any works, of any kind or denomination whatever, together with faith. For this would be, to “halt between two opinions:” to “worship Baal,” and to “ kiss the hand:” which, as Job saith, is the greatest of all iniquity. Therefore, when thou beginnest to believe
, thou at the same time beginnest to learn, that all things in thyself are unrighteous, sinful, and damnable: according to that passage, Romans iii., “ All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, there is none that doeth good, no not one: they are all gone out of the way, they are all together become unprofitable.” When thou hast known this in thyself, thou wilt feel the necessity of Christ as having sufered and risen again for thee, and of believing in him: that thou mightest, by this faith, become another man, in finding all thy sins forgiven thee, and thyself justified by the merits of another, even of Christ only.
Since, therefore, this faith can have dominion no where but in the inner man, as Paul saith, Rom. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness:” it is evident, that the inner man can be made righteous, set free, and saved, by no external work or circumstance whatever
, and that no work whatever can have any thing at all to do with it: even as on the other hand, it 13 by no external sin or work whatever, but solely by the nternal iniquity and unbelief of the heart, that man becomes the guilty and damnable bond-slave of sin. And therefore
, it should be the first great aim of every Chrisbam
, laying aside all idea of works, to strengthen more hat more his faith only, that through the same he might
which give a summary of the divine doctrines contained in them, and instruct the reader in the kind of language which is there used; so that the honest and good heart, may draw the firmest testimonies of the true doctrine
DEDI from the very fountains. For it was the great aim of Luther, not to let any rest in his own writings, but to lead the minds of all to the fountain head. He would have us all to hear the voice of God. He wished to see, by that voice, the fire of genuine faith and calling upon si baut God kindled in men, that God might be worshipped in truth, and that many might be made heirs of eternal life.
“ This anxious desire of his, therefore, and these his labours, it becomes us to spread abroad with grateful poet hearts: and taking him for an example, to remember states that it behoves, each of us to strive to adorn, according to his ability, the church of God. For to these two ends especially the whole of our life, its studies and designs, ielie bing should be directed.-- First, to promote the glory of God. Beer And secondly, to profit his church.--Concerning the former, St. Paul says, “Do all to the glory of God.” Concerning the latter, it is said in the 122d Psalm, “ "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” To which exhortation, there is added, in the same verse, a most sweet promise, “They shall prosper that love thee." These commands, and promises from above, invite all to receive the true doctrine of the church, to love the ministers of the des Gospel, and wholesome teachers, and to unite in desires and devoted endeavours to spread abroad the doctrine of truth, and to promote the concord of the true che of God.-Reader, farewell. Wirtemberg, June 1,
London, April 1, 1823.