« ПредишнаНапред »
say, let it not trouble the conscience. For she alone ought to live with Christ her spouse in the kingdom of liberty and adoption.
If then (saith he) by the Spirit of Christ ye cry "Abba Father," then are ye indeed no longer servants, but free men and sons. Therefore, ye are without the law, without sin, without death; that is to say, ye are saved; and ye are now quite delivered from all evils. Wherefore, the adoption bringeth with it the eternal kingdom and all the heavenly inheritance. Now, how inestimable the glory of this gift is, man's heart is not able to conceive, and much less to utter. In the meantime, we see this but darkly, and as it were, afar off; we have this little groaning and feeble faith, which only resteth upon the hearing and the sound of the voice of Christ in giving the promise. Therefore we must not measure this thing by reason, or by our own feeling, but by the promise of God.. Now, because he is infinite, therefore, his promise is also infinite, although it seem to be never so much enclosed in these narrow straits; (these anguishes I mean.) Wherefore, there is nothing that can now accuse, terrify, or bind the conscience any more. For there is no more servitude, but adoption; which not only bringeth us unto liberty from the law, sin, and death; but also, the inheritance of everlasting life!
INTERNAL WARFARE OF THE CHILD OF GOD.
GALATIANS v. 17.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
When Paul saith that "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh," he admonisheth us that we must feel the concupiscence of the flesh; that is to say, not only carnal lust, but also pride, wrath, heaviness, impatience, incredulity, and such like. Notwithstanding, he would have us so to feel them, that we consent not unto them nor accomplish them; that is, that we neither think, speak, nor do those things which
the flesh provoketh us unto. As, if it move us to anger, yet we should be angry in such wise as we are taught in the fourth Psalm, that we sin not. As if Paul would thus say, I know that the flesh will provoke you unto wrath, envy, doubting, incredulity, and such like; but resist it by the Spirit, that ye sin not. But if ye forsake the guiding of the Spirit and follow the flesh, ye shall fulfil the lusts of the flesh, and ye shall die; as Paul saith in the eighth to the Romans. So, this saying of the apostle is to be understood, not of fleshly lusts only, but of the whole kingdom of sin.
And these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
These two captains or leaders, saith he, the flesh and the Spirit, are one against another in your body, so that ye cannot do what ye would. And this place witnesseth plainly, that Paul writeth these things to the faithful; that is, to the church believing in Christ, baptized, justified, renewed, and having full forgiveness of sins. Yet notwithstanding, he saith she hath flesh rebelling against the Spirit. After the same manner he speaketh of himself in the seventh to the Romans, “I, (saith he) am carnal and sold under sin." And again, "I see another law in my members, rebelling against the law of my mind, and leading me captive under the law of sin which is in my members." Also, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" &c.
Here not only the schoolmen, but also some of the old fathers are much troubled, seeking how they may excuse Paul. For it seemeth unto them absurd and unseemly, to say, that the elect vessel of Christ should have sin. But we credit Paul's own words, wherein he plainly confesseth, that he is sold under sin, that he is led captive of sin, that he hath a law in his members rebelling against him, and that in his flesh he serveth the law of sin. Here again they answer, that the apostle speaketh in the person of the wicked. But the wicked do not
complain of the rebellion of their flesh, of any battle or conflict, or of the captivity and bondage of sin; for sin mightily reigneth in them. This is therefore the very complaint of Paul, and of all the faithful. Wherefore they have done very wickedly, which have excused Paul and all the faithful to have no sin. For by this persuasion, (which proceedeth of ignorance of the doctrine of faith,) they have robbed the church of a singular consolation, they have abolished the forgiveness of sins, and made Christ of none effect.
Wherefore, when Paul saith, "I see another law in my members," &c. he denieth not that he hath flesh and the vices of flesh in him. It is likely, therefore, that he felt sometimes the motions of carnal lust. But yet, no doubt, these motions were well suppressed in him by the great and grievous afflictions and temptations both of mind and body wherewith he was in a manner continually exercised and vexed, as his epistles do declare; or, if he at any time be merry and strong, and felt the lust of the flesh, wrath, impatiency, and such like, yet, he resisted them by the Spirit, and suffered not these motions to bear rule in him. Therefore, let us in no wise suffer such comfortable places, (whereby Paul describeth the battle of the flesh against the Spirit in his own body,) to be corrupted with such foolish glosses. The schoolmen, the monks, and such other, never felt any spiritual temptations; and therefore, they fought only for the repressing and overcoming of fleshly lust and lechery ; and being proud of that victory which they never yet obtained, they thought themselves far better and more holy than married men. I will not say, that under this holy pretence they nourished and maintained all kinds of horrible sins, dissension, pride, hatred, disdain, and despising of their neighbours, trust in their own righteousness, presumption, contempt of all godliness and of the word of God, infidelity, blasphemy, and such like. Against these sins they never fought: nay rather, they took them to be no sins at all: they put righteousness in the keeping of their foolish and wicked vows, and
unrighteousness in the neglecting and contemning of the same.
But this must be our ground and anchor-hold,that Christ is our only and perfect righteousness. If we have nothing whereunto we may trust, yet these three things, as Paul saith, faith, hope, and love, do remain. Therefore, we must always believe and always hope; we must always take hold of Christ as the head and foundation of our righteousness." He that believeth in him shall not be ashamed," (Rom. ix. 33.) Moreover, we must labour to be outwardly righteous also: that is to say, not to consent to the flesh, which always enticeth us to some evil, but to resist it by the Spirit. We must not be overcome with impatiency for the unthankfulness and contempt of the people which abuseth the Christian liberty; but, through the Spirit, we must overcome this and all other temptations. Look then, how much we strive against the flesh by the Spirit, so much are we outwardly righteous. Albeit this righteousness doth not commend us before God.
Let no man therefore despair, if he feel the flesh oftentimes to stir up new battle against the Spirit; or if he cannot by-and-by subdue the flesh, and make it obedient unto the Spirit. I also do wish myself to have a more valiant and constant heart, which might be able not only boldly to contemn the threatenings of tyrants, the heresies, offences, and tumults which Satan and his soldiers, the enemies of the Gospel, stir up; but also, might by-and-by shake off the vexations and anguish of spirit; and briefly, might not fear the sharpness of death, but receive and embrace it as a most friendly guest. But "I find another law in my members, rebelling against the law of my mind," &c. Some other do wrestle with inferior temptations, as poverty, reproach, impatiency, and such like.
Let no man marvel, therefore, or be dismayed, when he feeleth in his body this battle of the flesh against the Spirit; but let him pluck up his heart and comfort himself with these words of Paul, "the flesh lusteth against
the spirit." Also "these are contrary one to another, so that ye cannot do those things that ye would." For by these sentences, he comforteth them that be tempted. As if he should say, it is impossible for you to follow the guidings of the Spirit in all things, without any feeling or hinderance of the flesh; nay the flesh will resist, and so resist and hinder you, that ye cannot do those things that ye gladly would. Here it shall be enough, if ye resist the flesh and fulfil not the lust thereof; that is to say, if ye follow the spirit and not the flesh; which easily is overthrown by impatiency, coveteth to revenge, biteth, grudgeth, hateth God, is angry with him, despaireth, &c. Therefore, when a man feeleth this battle of the flesh, let him not be discouraged therewith; but let him resist in spirit, and say, I am a sinner, aad I feel sin in ine; for I have not yet put off the flesh, in which sin dwelleth so long as it liveth; but I will obey the spirit and not the flesh; that is, I will, by faith and hope, lay hold upon Christ; and, by his Word, I will raise up myself, and being so raised up, I will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.
It is very profitable for the godly to know this, and to bear it well in mind, for it wonderfully comforteth them when they are tempted. When I was a monk, I thought by-and-by that I was utterly cast away if at any time I felt the lust of the flesh; that is to say, if I felt
evil motion of fleshly lust, wrath, hatred, or envy against any brother. I essayed many ways to quiet my conscience; but it would not be, for the concupiscence and lust of my flesh did always return; so that I could not rest, but was continually vexed with these thoughts: -This or that sin thou hast committed; thou art infected with envy, with impatiency, and such other sins; therefore, thou art entered into this holy order in vain, and all thy good works are unprofitable. If then I had rightly understood these sentences of Paul, "The flesh lusteth contrary to the spirit, and the spirit contrary to the flesh, and these two are one against another, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would do," I should not have so miserably tormented myself; but should have