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the just cause of truth, liberty and religion. He would not come to any compromise with his enemies, or recur to palliatives and improper remedies to cure the evil: he aimed a deeper blow; to strike at the very root of an authority so prejudicial and opposite to the principles" and rights of true Christianity. He did not, however, pull down before he knew what he could build up in its stead; all his proceedings were stamped with marks of the most circumspect prudence and caution. The minds of men were prepared by degrees for such a necessary and useful innovation in the doctrines of the church. As a good shepherd, he did not take care of the sheep only, but of the lambs also; having provided for the adult the most salutary spiritual food, by the translation of the bible, he wrote his catechism to instruct the rising generation in the principles of religion.
It is not pretended that Luther was a sun without a spot; but it must be confessed that he was a great reformer, and a sincere christian. He showed on all occasions respect to superiours, and obedience to lawful authority. But when he found himself treated in an unjust manner, and authority abused for the oppression of innocence and truth, he looked upon emperors, kings, and popes, with contempt; and called them as enemies of God, by names which they were not used to hear from their flatterers. In his treatise, entitled, "Popery established by the Devil," he calls the pope, instead of holy, a hellish father. If a change of heart by the grace of God and influence of the Holy Spirit, if a true and living faith in Christ the Redeemer of the world, if the love of God's word and fervent prayer, constitute the character of a good christian, Luther is entitled to it in an eminent degree. A short time before his death, he was often heard praying that the Lord might receive his soul, and establish the kingdom of truth and peace after his death. The Lord has heard his prayers; for though he is dead, yet he speaketh; and his doctrines are so deeply rooted, that they still flourish independent of the hand which planted them. May we, from this sketch of the life and character of that great man, be convinced of what God has done in former times for establishing our faith by this reformer; and endeavour to copy that illustrious example of faith, which he has left us as a christian.
Git. IV. from the first to the seventh verse, inclusive.
1. Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
2. But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
3. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
4. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
6. To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
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 hard, but because there is so little knowledge of faith left in the world, with which it cannot be that one rightly understands Paul, who every where treats of faith with such force of spirit. 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 treatise 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 the working; between a man and his work. Justification is of man, and not of 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 work, 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, of 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
Erenounces all men which are unregenerate, and ave that nature which they received of their parents unchanged, to be unrighteous and wicked, according to that saying, Ps. 116. "All men are liars," that is, unable to perform their duty, and to do those things which they ought to do; and Gen. 6. "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 marvellously wise; but who indeed is unwise and blind, gainsaying her God, and reproving him of lying; being furnished with her follies and feeble armour, 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 every where in schools, colleges, and monasteries, wherein no other saints than Cain was, have rule and authority. Now from this errour 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 favour of God: by this means they continually disagree with God, showing themselves to be the posterity of Cain. God hath respect unto man, these to 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