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ving 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, although 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 aaith, "The servant abideth not in the house forever, but the son abideth ever." John viii.
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 or the sons of God, nevertheless they are 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, honour, &c. 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 ser*
vants and sons are not unlike in works, but in mind and faith they have no resemblance.
The apostle endeavours 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 makes us sons of God. It is the word of grace followed by the Holy Ghost, as it is showed in many places, especially in Acts x. where we read of the Holy Ghost falling on Cornelius and his family, while hearing the preaching of Peter. Paul teaches, Rom. iii. 7. 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 errour 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 leorker 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 in him alone, which is the true faith whereby we become the sons of God. Thou canst not be delivered from the evil of infidelity by thy own power, nor by the power of the law; wherefore all thy works Which thou doth 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, which 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 cannot obtain this faith thereby, for thy works are even a hinderance 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 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 infidelity 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; npt 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.
Being a continuation of the first.
We shall now come to treat more particularly of the text. Verse I. "The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though 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 blessed; Gen. xxii. That covenant was afterwards confirmed by the death of Christ, and revealed and published abroad by the preaching of the 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, although they cannot be justified by them; they are true heirs of heavenly things, of this blessing and grace of the covenant; although 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 neighbom's. For they have and possess 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: although 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 neighbours.
Yerse 2. "But is under tutors and governours until the time appointed of the father." Tutors and governours 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 judgement, it cannot but be grievous to him to live in subjection to the commands and will of another.