« AnteriorContinua »
XIV. Of Works of Supererogation. ·VOLUNTARY Works, besides, over and above God's commandments, which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without
• That all men might rightly judge of good works, it hath been declared in the second part of this Sermon, what kind of good works they be that God would have his people walk in, namely, such as he hath commanded in his holy Scripture, and not such works as men have studied out of their own brain, of a blind zeal and devotion, without the word of God: and by mistaking the nature of good works, man hath most highly displeased God, and hath gone from his will and commandments.Sects and feigned religions were neither the fortieth part so many among the Jews, nor more superstitiously and ungodlily abused, than of late days they have been among us: which sects and religions had so many hypocritical and feigned works in their state of religion, as they arrogantly named it, that their lamps, as they said, ran always over, able to satisfy not only for their own sins, but also for all other their benefactors, brothers, and sisters of religion, as most ungodlily and craftily they had persuaded the multitude of ignorant people; keeping in divers places, as it were, marts or markets of merit, being full of their holy relics, images, shrines, and works of overflowing abundance ready to be sold-yea also vain inventions, unfruitful ceremonies, and ungodly laws, decrees, and councils of Rome, were in such wise advanced, that nothing was thought comparable in authority, wisdom, learning, and godliness, unto them; so that the laws of Rome, as they said, were to be received of all men as the four Evangelists, to the which all laws of princes must give place: and the laws of God also partly were left off and less esteemed, that the said laws, decrees, and councils, with their traditions and ceremonies, might be more duly kept, and had in greater reverence. Thus was the people through ignorance so blinded with the godly shew and appearance of those things, that they thought the keeping of them to be a more holiness, a more perfect service and honouring of God, and
. Now the Spirit speaketh ex- iv. 1. 3. Beware lest any man spoil pressly, that in the latter times you through philosophy and vain some should depart from the faith, deceit, after the tradition of men, giving heed to seducing spirits, after the rudiments of the world, and doctrines of devils ;-—forbid- and not after Christ. Col. ii.8. Let ding to marry, and commanding to no man beguile you of your reward abstain from meats, which God in a voluntary humility and wo hath created to be received with shipping of angels-not holding thanksgiving of them which be- the head.-Wherefore if ye be dead lieve and know the truth. 1 Tim. with Christ from the rudiments of
arrogancy and impiety: "for by them men do
more pleasing to God, than the keeping of God's commandments. Such hath been the corrupt inclination of man, ever superstitiously given to make new honouring of God of his own head, and then to have more affection and devotion to keep that, than to search out God's holy commandments, and to keep them. And furthermore, to take God's commandments for men's commandments, and men's commandments for God's commandments, yea, and for the highest and most perfect and holiest of all God's commandments. And so was all confused, that scant well learned men, and but a small number of them knew, or at the least would know, and durst affirm the truth, to separate or sever God's commandments from the commandments of men. Whereupon did grow much error, superstition, idolatry, vain religion, overthwart judgment, great contention, with all ungodly living. Hom. v. 3.
• The law of God is the full and, in all points, perfect rule of the righteousness which is required of man, which commandeth those things that are to be done, and forbiddeth the contraries. In this law God hath restrained all things to his own will and judgment, so as no godliness toward him, nor dutifulness toward men, can be allowed of him, but that only which doth in all things agree with the straitness of this rule. Vainly therefore do mortal men invent to themselves forms of godliness and duty after their own fancy: for God hath set forth to us his law written in two tables, as a most sure rule both of our worshipping of God, and of our duties to men, and therewith also hath declared that there is nothing on earth more pleasant and acceptable to him than our obedienee. Nowell, p. 8.
“ What works shall I do,” said a prince, 66 to come to everlasting life ?” (Matt. xiv.) To whom Jesus answered, “ If thou wilt come to everlasting life, keep the commandments.” But the prince, not satisfied herewith, asked farther, “Which commandments ?” The Scribes and Pharisees had made so many of their own laws and traditions, to bring men to heaven, besides God's commandments, that this nian was in doubt whether he
the world, why, as though living in vers and strange doctrines. For it the world, are ye subject to ordi- is a good thing that the heart be nances, (touch not; taste not; han- established with grace; not with dle not; which all are to perish meats, which have not profited with the using ;) after the com- them that have been occupied mandments and doctrines of men ? therein. Heb. xiii. 9. Their fear Which things have indeed a shew toward me is taugbt by the precept of will-worship, and humility, and of men. Isa. xxix. 13. Not giving neglecting of the body; not in any heed to Jewish fables, and comhonour to the satisfying of the mandments of men, which turn flesh. Col. ii. 18—23.
from the truth. Tit. i. 14. Ye shall b Be not carried about with di- not add unto the word which I
declare, that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required : whereas Christ saith plainly, When
should come to heaven by those laws and traditions, or by the law of God; and therefore he asked Christ which commandments he meant. Whereunto Christ made him a plain answer, rehearsing the commandments of God, saying, “ Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother, and Love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. xix.) By which words Christ declared, that the laws of God be the very way that doth lead to everlasting life, and not the traditions and laws of men.
So that this is to be taken for a most true lesson taught by Christ's own mouth, that the works of the moral commandments of God be the very true works of faith which lead to the blessed life to come. Hom. v. 2.
• We say also that every person is born in sin, and leadeth his life in sin: that nobody is able truly to say, his heart is clean: that the most righteous person is but an unprofitable servant: that the law of God is perfect, and requireth of us perfect and full obedience: that we are able by no means to fulfil that law in this worldly life: that there is no one mortal creature, which can be justified by his own deserts in God's sight: and therefore that our only succour and refuge is to fly to the mercy of our Father by Jesus Christ, and assuredly to persuade our minds, that he is the obtainer of forgiveness for our sins. Jewell.
For truly there be imperfections in our best works: we do not love God so much as we are bound to do, with all our heart,
command you, neither shall ye di- commanded him? I trow not. So minish ought from it, that ye may likewise ye, when ye shall have keep the commandments of the Lord done all these things which are your God which I command you. commanded you, say, We are unDeut. iv. 2. Every word of God profitable servants: we have done is pure; add thou not unto his that which was our duty to do. words, lest he reprove thee, and Luke xvii. 9, 10. Can a man be thou be found a liar. Prov. xxx. 5, profitable unto God, as he that 6. Whatsoever thing I command is wise may be profitable unto you, observe to do it: thou shalt himself? Job xxii. 2. If thou not add_thereto, nor diminish be righteous, what givest thou from it. Deut. xii. 32. In vain him? or what receiveth he of they do worship me, teaching for thine hand? Job xxxv. 7. All doctrines the commandments of things come of thee, and of thine men. Matt. xv. 9.
own have we given thee. 1 Chron. e Doth he thank that servant be. xxix. 14. cause he did the things that were
ye have done all that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants.
mind, and power: we do not fear God so much as we ought to do: We do not pray to God, but with great and many imperfections: we give, forgive, believe, live, and hope imperfectly: we speak, think, and do imperfectly : we fight against the devil, the world, and the flesh imperfectly. Hom.ii. 2.
XV. Of Christ alone without sin. aCHRIST in the truth of our nature was made like unto .us in all things, 'sin only except; from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh, and in his spirit. Ile came to be the
a Necessary it was that what man had offended against God, man should atone and satisfy it. Being made man, he did, as it were, put upon him our person, that he might therein take upon him, bear, perform, and fulfil the parts of our salvation. Nowell, p. 45. See also Article II.
• It behoved that he who should and could satisfy for sins, and entirely restore wicked and damned persons, should not himself be defiled or blemished with any stain or spot of sin, but be endued with singular and perfect uprightness and innocency. Therefore when the seed of man was wholly corrupt and defiled, it behoved that in the conception of the Son of God there should be the marvellous and secret working of the Holy Ghost, whereby he might be fashioned in the womb of the most chaste and pure Virgin, and of her substance, that he should not be defiled with the common stain and infection of mankind. Christ therefore, that most pure Lamb, was begotten and born by the Holy Ghost and the conception of the Virgin without sin, that he might cleanse, wash, and put away our spots, who, as we were first conceived and born in sin and uncleanness, so do still from thenceforth continue in unclean life. Nowell, p.
45. • He is the pure and undefiled “ Lamb of God, which taketh
* God was manifest in the flesh. points tempted like as we are, yet 1 Tim. iii. 16. The Word was made without sin. Heb. iv. 15. Every flesh. John i. 14. In the likeness spirit that confesseth that Jesus of sinful flesh, Rom. viii. 3. When Christ is come in the flesh is of God. he cometh into the world, he saith, 1 John iv. 2. A body hast thou prepared me. b Which of you convinceth me Heb. 8. 5. A Virgin shall conceive of sin ? John viii. 46. Such an and bear a son. Is. vii. 14. Unto High Priest became us, who is us a child is born. ix. 6. God sent holy, harmless, undefiled, separate forth bis Son, made of a woman. from sinners. Heb. vii. 26. He Gal. iv. 4. Made of the seed of did no violence, neither was any David according to the flesh. Rom. deceit in his mouth. Is. liii. 9. i. 3. Made in the likeness of men; Who did no sin, neither was guile and being found in fashion as a man, found in his mouth. 1 Pet. ii. 22. he humbled himself. Phil. ii. 7, 8. In him is no sin. 1 John iii. 5. He Forasmuch as the children are par- made him to be sin for us, who takers of flesh and blood, he also knew no sin. 2 Cor. v. 21. The himself likewise took part of the prince of this world cometh, and
In all things it behoved him hath nothing in me. John xiv. 30. to be made like unto his brethren, e Whatsoever hath a blemish, Heb. ii. 14. 17. He was in all that shall ye not offer : for it shall