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tnore than a man or an angel; and as they are the highest surely he must be the true God. Again, seeing that he is sent of God, and is his Son, he must needs be another person; so the apostle teaches here, the Father and the Son are one God, and two persons. Of the Holy Ghost we shall speak hereafter.
The second thing which ought here to be considered, is, that Christ is very man, and the son of •man. Thus Paul teaches when he saith, "made of a woman ;" for surely that which is made or born of a woman, is man; thus it is necessary that we believe as the Lord himself declares; John vi. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you:" but to eat his flesh and drink his blood, is nothing else than to believe that Christ took these upon him, and did also yield them up to death for our sake. This is that covenant which was promised to Abraham; "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Gen. xxii. Christ is this seed, and therefore the true son of Abraham's flesh and blood. Hereby it appears that those prevail nothing, who make a way unto themselves, to come to God by their own works and godliness ; and neglecting Christ, strive to come directly to God, as do the Turks and Jews. But Christ alone is the mediator and blessed seed, by whom thou must receive blessings, otherwise thou shalt continue forever in malediction.
Christ himself saith, John vi. "No man cometh to the Father but by me." The nature of God is higher than that which we are able to attain unto; wherefore he hath humbled himself, and taken upon him that nature which is best known, and most familiar to us; to wit, even our own. Here he looks for us, here he will receive us ; he that will seek him here shall find him; he that asks shall be heard; here is the throne of grace and true mercy seat, from which none are driven that with true faith resort to> it. They who neglect him, as though he were made man for nought, and in the mean time pray to God without a mediator, shall pray, but none shall help them; they shall cry, but none shall hear them.
The third thing which is here set forth for us to believe, is, that Mary the mother of Jesus was a virgin. This Paul affirms, when he says that he was made of a woman, and not of a man. The covenant of God promised to Abraham required these two things; that Christ should be the true son of Abraham, that is, his seed, flesh and blood; and that he should also be born free from sin. Thus it was brought to pass, that he should of Mary, being very woman, and the daughter of Abraham, be born very man, and the right offspring of Abraham; and that he should also be born without the commixion of man; a virgin having conceived by means of the Holy Ghost, it came to pass, that Christ became the true seed of Abraham, and yet free from all contagion of Adam; and is also the author of eternal blessing to them that believe.
The fourth tiling to be considered in this place, is, that Christ hath satisfied the law for us; which he witnesseth of himself, Mat. v. "I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it." This also the condition of the covenant requires; for if by this seed of Abraham all men must be delivered from the curse, it is necessary that by it the law be fulfilled. Men are by nature the children of wrath, and subject to the curse, it must needs be accursed, whatsoever they do ; for it is before proved at large, that he which is evil, can work nothing that is good: likewise, that we can do nothing that God will approve, unless we ourselves be approved of him before. ,
The law requires the heart, which cannot be performed by them that are not as yet regenerated.br the spirit; therefore it must needs be that all the sons of Adam are guilty of transgressing the law; and unless Christ perform that which the law requires of them, they must perish by the curse thereof. When Christ went about to show that the law required the heart, and to condemn the works which proceeded not from a heart that is godly and consenting to the law, he was accused of the Pharisees, of having come to destroy the law. In order to take away this false opinion, he said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, for I am not come to destroy,, but to fulfil;" yea, and I will give a spirit unto them that are mine, which shall justify their hearts by faith, and incline them to truly good works.
The same is usual with Paul also ; who, when he had rejected the works of the law, and extolled faith, answering such an objection, saith, Rom. iii. "Do we then make the law of no effect 1 God forbid: yea, we establish the law:" for we teach that the fulfilling of the law is by Christ. The like objections are frequently made to us, as though we forbid good works, when we disallow of monasteries and their works, and teach that they must first by faith become good and approved of God; whereby they may afterwards do truly good works, by which their flesh may be chastised, and their neighbours benefitted.
As the law stays us with threatenings and promises,' we oftentimes abstain from evil, and do those things that are good; howbeit, we do them not for the love of goodness and hatred of evil, but for fear of punishment, and in anticipation of reward: wherefore being left to ourselves, we are servants of the law; neither do we hear it any otherwise than servants do their hard and cruel master. But those that are not under the law, that is, are not against their wills in subjection to it, do good works and abstain from evil, being neither terrified by the threatenings, nor allured with the promises thereof; they voluntarily bear a love to honesty, and hate that which is dishonest; being from their hearts delighted with the law of God, they desire to. live no otherwise than the law commands.
Those that are such, are sons ; whom, not nature, but that blessed seed of Abraham, that is, Christ, could make such; renewing by his grace and spirit the hearts of them that believe in him: wherefore not to be under the law, is not to be free from it, that they may do those things that are contrary to it, but it is to do good and .abstain from evil, not through compulsion, but by free love and with pleasure, even as if the law did not command them. This is the true liberty of a christian, and the deliverance of him from the law; whereof Paul speaks, 1 Tim. i. "The law is not made for a righteous man," &c. which is as much as if he had said, a righteous man of his own accord doth good, and abstains from evil, having no regard either to rewards or punishments; and Rom. vi. "Ye are not under the law, but under grace;" that is, ye are sons, not servants ; and also Rom. viii. "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption."
The fifth thing that Paul here commands for us to believe, is, that Christ for our sake was made under the law, that he might deliver us from the bondage of it; and of unwilling servants, make us free sons. Paul saith, speaking of Christ, " He was made under the law, that he might redeem them which were under the law;" that is, might deliver them from the law. He delivers them from it, not by abolishing it, but by fulfilling it; giving a free spirit which shall do all things willingly without anyrespect to its promises or threatenings. This was the condition of Adam and Eve before they had sinned. But by what means is this spirit given and liberty obtained 1 no otherwise than by faith; for he that truly believes that Christ came for this cause, that he might deliver us from the law, and that he hath already delivered him, he, I say, hath indeedreceived the spirit of liberty, and doth verily obtain that which he believeth ; for both faith and the spirit come together.
When the angel went into the prison to deliver Peter, both of them were in the prison together: Peter was there, being cast in by Herod, not of his own accord; but the angel went in of his own accord, wherefore it was free for him to go forth whenever he pleased: he was there for Peter's sake, and not for his own; whom when Peter heard and followed, it was free for him also to go forth out of the prison. The prison here represents the law ; Peter our conscience; and the angel Christ. Christ being absent, our conscience is held captive by the law; being unwilling of itself, it is moved unto good things by the threatenings and promises thereof. The keepers of the prison are the teachers which declare the force of the law to us. So we, being bound in the prison of the law, Christ comes to us and makes himself subject to the law, and does the works of the law with his own accord; yea, and doth them for our sake, that he may join us unto him.
If now we cleave to him, and follow him, we go forth; but this cleaving to, and following him, is nothing else than to believe in him, and not to doubt that he became man, and was made subject to the law for our salvation; whereby he makes us ready and willing to do with pleasure all things that the law requires. The greater our faith is, the more ready and willing our minds are to do those things that God commands: this is the true deliverance from the law, and from the condemnation of sin and death. By faith we must pass from sin and death, to righteousness and life. Unless we understand the nature of faith, we shall be but little benefitted by the writings of Paul.