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he hath been from everlasting, if this had not been spoken to us from heaven : neither is any thing added or taken away from him by this name; but we must think that this praise and honour of Christ was spoken for our sakes ; as it is said in John xiL 30. "Jesus answered and said, this voice came not because of me, but for your sakes." He hath no need that it should be said unto him, that he is the Son of God ; for he knew this before; and hath had from everlasting by his nature, that which he heareth.
This word teacheth us to know Christ, in which knowledge our salvation consisteth, as witnessed by Isaiah, Paul, and Peter. But how does it teach us to know him 1 it teacheth us to know him as the Son of God, who pleaseth the Father; by which the Father cheereth the hearts of all the faithful, and greatly delighteth them with comfort and heavenly love. When Christ speaketh, or doth any thing for me, I remember these words of the Father, that he is the beloved Son; then I am forced to think, that all which Christ speaketh and suffereth for my sake, doth well please the Father. How can God show himself more liberal and loving, than by being pleased that Christ his Son doth deal so kindly and tenderly with us ; that he looks upon us with so much affection, and with such unusual love, as to suffer and die for our sakes.
But we are cold, and sluggish, and unthankful wretches; we pass over such precious words as things of no importance ; as if uttered by man; as being contained in a book, or written on paper, as things utterly decayed; as if grown out of use by long custom; as if they pertained to Christ, and not to us. Being dull and senseless, we do not perceive that they belong not to Christ, but were committed to writing and are extant for our sakes only. Christ being in so great favour with God in all things, and at the same time serving us, as he himself witnesseth, we are without doubt in the same favour with God, as Christ himself. "If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." John xiv. 23. Also, xii. 26. "Where I am, there shall also my servant be." Again; I pray that they may be one, even as we are one; I in thee, and thou in me, and they in me.
But where is Christ? In the favour of God; in the depth of his heart: there also are we, if we know and love Christ; there our refuge is placed, where no evil can come. But in this, faith is required ; the works of the law, and our own merit, will not prevail. Christ is here declared the only Son of God ; which at once overthrows whatsoever maketh itself God. Men and satan, who please themselves, and love themselves only, seek not after God, but strive to become gods themselves: but God will say unto these very different things from what he said unto Christ. Christ is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, seeing that he glorifieth not himself, although he be God: but ye are wretches, in whom I allow nothing, seeing that ye glorify yourselves, being but creatures and men.
This sentence given of Christ, humbleth the world, and showeth them all to be void of divinity; and ascribeth it to Christ, all for our benefit, if we believe and admit this sentence ; or to our condemnation, if we contemn it. Then we may say at once, without Christ there is no favour, nor any beloved Son; but the wrath and sore displeasure of God.
We shall now quote certain sentences out of the scripture concerning Christ, whereby is declared that through him we are loved by the Father, and without him are refused. Thus it is said, John i. 16, 17. "Of his fulness, (to wit, Christ's,) have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." John iii. 13. "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." John iii. 16, 17, 18. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that (he world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John iii. 35, 36. "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth on him." John vi. 40. "This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life ; and I will raise him up at the last day." John vii. 37, 38. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Titus iii. 4, 5, 6, 7. "But after that the kindness and love of . God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, being justified by his grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Many other such sentences occur, particularly in the epistles of Paul, which any one may gather for himself.
The fruit and virtue of Christ''s Resurrection.
We have heard in the treatise of the Lord's passion, that it is not sufficient merely to know the history thereof; neither is it sufficient to know how and when Christ rose; but both the use and profit of his passion, as well as his resurrection, should be preached and known; to wit, what Christ obtained by them for us. Where only the deed of the history is preached, it is frivolous preaching, and without fruit; which both satan and wicked men as well know, read and understand, as we do. But when the use of them are preached, wherein they profit, that indeed is a fruitful and wholesome sermon, and full of sweet consolation.
Christ hath declared the use and profit of his passion and resurrection, when he talked with the women: Mat. xxviii. 10. "Be not afraid; go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me." These are the first words which they hear of Christ after his resurrection from the dead; whereby he confirmeth all his sayings, also all his benefits showed to them before ; and that they should come unto those who should believe thereafter. Here he calleth not only his apostles his brethren, but also all them that believe in him ; although they do not see him visibly as the apostles did.
Shall any one come forth and boast of his merit, or of the strength whereby he is able to merit any thing 1 What had the apostles merited 1 Peter denied Christ thrice: and all the rest of the apostles fled from him: he might have called them runaways, and forsakers of their standing in the midst of their conflicts ; yea, traitors and wicked men, rather than brethren. Wherefore of mere mercy and grace this word was brought unto them by the matrons, which the apostles themselves did perceive. This word is full of all consolation and comfort; that Christ careth for such wretched men as we are; yea, and that he doth call us his brethren. If Christ be our brother, I would fain know what good things we shall want 1
They that are brethren by consanguinity, use goods common among themselves, having the same father, and the same inheritance; otherwise they would not be brethren. So we also possess good things in common with Christ; enjoying the same father, and the same inheritance ; which inheritance is not diminished by parting it, as worldly inheritances are,-but is always made abundant; for it is a spiritual inheritance. A corporal inheritance, when distributed into divers parts, is made smaller; but in the spirit, the case is such, that he who hath received part thereof, hath obtained the whole. What is the inheritance of Christ 1 In his power are life and death, sin and grace, and whatsoever is contained in heaven and earth; his are eternal verity; strength, wisdom, and righteousness.
All power is given unto him; he hath rule over all things; over hunger, thirst, prosperity, adversity, &c. He reigneth over all things, whether they be in heaven or in earth, spiritual or corporal; all things are in his power, as well eternal as temporal. Now if I cleave unto him by faith, I shall be made partaker of all his good things: I shall not obtain part of the inheritance only, but I shall possess with him everlasting wisdom, and eternal strength. I shall not be grieved with hunger, sin shall not oppress me, neither shall I be afraid of death. Hereby we may easily understand the sayings frequently uttered' by the prophets, especially in the Psalms; as where David saith, Ps. xxxiv. "The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall not