- T h e e x p o s i t i o n
o f t h e f y r s t e E p i s t l e
o f s e y n t I h o n
w i t h a P r o l o g g e
b e f o r e i t :
b y W . T .
T h e f o u r t h c h a p t e r .
- DErely belouyd beleue not euery sprit / but proue the sprites whether they be of God. For many false Prophetes are gone out in the worlde.
Sprites are taken here for preachers / because of the preachinge or doctrine / which if it be good / is of the sprite of God: and if it be euell / of the sprite of the devell. Nowe ought we not to beleue euery mans doctrine vnaduisedlie / or condemne eny mans preachinge yer it be herde and sene what it is. But a Christen mans parte is to examen / iudge and trie it / whether it be true or no. Quench not the sprite saith Paule .j. Thessalo. the last. Nether despice prophesienges / but proue all thinge / and kepe that which is good. Destroye not the giftes of the sprite of God / but trie whether they be of God / & good for thedifienge of his congregation: and kepe that which is good and refuse that which ys euell. And soffre euery parsone that hath eny gifte of God / to serue God ther in / in his degre and estate / after a Christen maner and a due ordre. Why shall we trie the doctrines? Verilye for ther be many false Prophetes abrode all redy. We tolde you before that Antichriste shuld come / as oure master Christe told vs that he shuld come. But nowe I certifie you that Antichristes kyngdome is begone all redy. And his Disciples are gone out to preache. Trie therfore all doctrine. Wher with shall we trie it? With the doctrine of thappostles / and with the scripture which is the twitchestone: ye and because ye loue compendiousnes / ye shall ha[F3]ue a shorte rule / to trie them with all.
Herby knowe ye the sprite of God. Euery sprite that confessyth that Iesus Christ is come in the fleshe is of God. And euery sprite that confesseth not that Iesus Christe is come in the fleshe / is not of God. And the same is that spirite of Antichriste / of whome ye haue herde that he shulde come: And euen nowe he is in the worlde all redy.
What so euer opinion any membre of Antichriste holdeth / the grounde of all his doctrine is to destroy this article of oure fayth / that Christe is come in the fleshe. For thoughe the moste parte of all herytykes confesse that Christe is come in the fleshe after their maner / yet they denye that he is come / as the scripture testifieth & thappostles preachid hym to be come. The whole studie of the deuell and all his membres is to destroy the hope & trust that we shuld haue in Christes fleshe / and in those thinges which he suffred for vs in his fleshe / and in the testament & promises of mercie which are made vs in his fleshe. For the scripture testifieth that Christ hathe taken away the sinne of the worlde in his fleshe / & that the same houre that he yelded vp his sprite in to thandes of his father / he had full purged & made full satisfaction for all the synnes of the worlde. So that al the synne of the worlde / bothe before his passion & after / must be put awaye thorowe repentaunce to warde the lawe & faith [F3v] and trust in his bloude / without respect of any other satisfaction / sacrifice or worke. For if I once synne / the lawe rebuketh my conscience / and setteth variaunce betwene God & me. And I shall neuer be at peace with God ageyne vntill I haue herd the voice of his mowthe / howe that my synne is forgiuen me for Christes bloude sake. And assone as I that beleue / I am at peace with God .Roma. v. and loue his lawe ageyne / and of loue worke.
And that Christe hath done this seruice in his fleshe / denye all the membres of Antichriste. And hereby thou shalt knowe them. All doctrine that buyldeth the vpon Christe / to put thy trust and confidence in his bloude / is of God and true doctrine. And all doctrine that with draweth thine hope & trust from Christe / is of the deuell & the doctrine of Antichriste. Examyne the pope by this rule / and thou shalt fynde that all he doeth / is to the destruction of this article. He wresteth all the scriptures & setteth them cleane agaynste the woll / to destroye this article. He ministreth the very sacramentes of Christe vnto the destruction of this article: and so dooth he all other cerimonies / & his absolution / penance / purgatorie / dispensations pardones / vowes / with all disgisinges. The pope preachith that Christe is come to doo away sinnes / yet not in the fleshe but in water / salt / oyle / candles / bowes / asshes fryers cotes / and monkes cowles / & in the vowes of them that forswere matrimonie to kepe whores / and swere beggerie / to possesse all the treasure / riches / wealth & pleasures of the world: & haue vowed obedience / to disobey with auctorite / all the lawes bothe of God & man. For in these hypocritishe and false sacrifices / tea[F4]chyth he vs to trust for the forgyuenesse of synnes / and not in Christes flesh.
Ye are of God litle children / and haue ouercome them. For greater is he that is in you / then he that is in the worlde.
He that dwellith in youe / and worketh in you thorowe faith / is greater then he whiche dwellith & worketh in them thorowe vnbelefe. And in his strengthe / ye abide by youre profession / and confesse youre lorde Iesus / howe that he is come in the fleshe & hath purged the synne of all that beleue in his fleshe. And thorowe that faith ye ouercome them in the very turmentes of deeth. So that nother their Iuglinges / nether their pleasures / nether their thretninges / or their tourmentes / or the verye deeth wherwith they sley your bodies / can preuaile against you.
They be of the worlde / and therfore they speake of the worlde / and the worlde attendith vnto them. We be of God: and he that knoweth God hearith vs. And he that is not of God hearith vs not. And hereby we knowe the sprite of trouthe and the sprite of erroure.
Ther be and euer shalbe .ij. generations in the worlde: one of the deuell / whiche naturally herken vnto the false apostels of the deuell / because they speake so agreable vnto their natural complextion. And a nother of God / which herken vnto the [F4v] true Apostles of God / & consent vnto their doctrine. And this is a sure rule to iudge sprites with all / that we iudge them to haue the sprite of trouthe / which harken vnto the true doctrine of Christes Apostles: & them to haue the sprite of erroure which harken vnto wordly & deuelishe doctrine / abhorringe the preachinge of thapostles. And loke whether the popes doctrine be not worldly or no / if pride & couetousnes be worldly / ye & lechurie to. For what other is all his doctrine then of benefices / promotiones / dignities busshoprikes cardenalshepes / vicarages / parsonages / prebendes / change of bisshoprikes / & resynynge of benefices / of vnions pluralities / totquots / & that whiche comythe once in to their handes / may not out agayne: ye & of hores & concubynes / & of captyuinge of consciences for couetousnes / & all that herken to that doctrine abhor the doctrine of thappostles & persecute it / and them that preache it.
Dearly beloued let vs loue one a nother / for loue is of God. And all that loue are borne of God / and knowe God. And he that loueth not / knoweth not God: for God is loue.
Iohn singeth his old songe ageyne / & techeth an infallible & sure token which we may se & feale at oure fyngers endes / & therby be out of all doubte / that oure faith is vnfayned & that we knowe God & be borne of God / & that we herken vnto the doctrine of thapostles purely & godly & not of eny curiosite / to seke glorie & honoure therin vnto oure selfes / & to make a cloke ther of to couer oure couetousnes / and fylthy lustes. Which token is / if we loue one a nother. [F5] For the loue of a mans neyboure vnfaynedly springeth out of the vnfayned knowlege of god in Christes bloude. By which knowlege we be borne of god & loue god & our neyboures for his sake. And so he that loueth his neybour vnfaynedly / is suer of himself / that he knoweth god / & is of god vnfainedly. And contrary wise / he that loueth not / knoweth not god. For god in Christes bloude is such a loue that if a man sawe it / it wer impossible that he shulde not breake out in to the loue of god agene & of his neyboure for his sake.
Herein apered the loue of God vnto vs warde because / God sent his only sonne in to the world / yt we shuld lyve thorow hym. Herin is loue: not yt we loued god / but yt he loued vs / & sent his sonne / a satisfaction for our synnes.
If a man had once felt within in his conscience the fiarce wrath of god towarde synners and the terrible and most cruel damnacion that the lawe threteneth: & then beheld with the eyes of a strong faith / the mercie / fauoure and grace the takyng away of the domnation of the lawe and restoringe ageyne of life / frely offred vs in Christes bloud / he shulde perceaue loue / and so moche the moare / that it was shewed vs / when we were synners and enimies to God .Roma. 5. and that without al deseruinges / without oure endeuourynge / enforcynge and preparyng our selfes / and without al good motions / qualities and properties of oure frewil. But when oure hertes were as dead vnto al good workyng / as the membres of hym whose soule ys departed [F5v] which thinge to proue / and to stoppe the blasphemous mowthes of al our aduersaries / I wil of innumerable textes reherse one in the begynninge of the seconde chaptre to the Ephe. where Paule saith thus. Ye were deed in trespasse and sinne in which ye walked accordinge to the course of the worlde and after the gouernoure that ruleth in the ayre / the sprite that worketh in the children of vnbelefe / amonge which we also had oure conuersation in tyme past / in the lustes of oure fleshe: and fulfilled the lustes of the fleshe & of the mynde (so that the fleshe & the mynde were agreed both to sinne / and the mynde consentyd as wel as the fleshe) and were by nature the children of wrath / as wel as other. But god beinge rich in mercie / thorow the greate loue wherwith he loued vs / euen when we were deed in sinne / hath quickened vs with Christ: for by grace ar ye saued: and with hym hath reysed vs vp and with him hath made vs sitte in heauenly thinges thorow Iesus Christe / for to shewe in tyme to come thexceadinge riches of his grace / in kyndnes to vs warde in Iesus Christe. For by grace are ye saued thorow faith / and that not of youre selues: for it is the gift of god / & cometh not of workes / lest eny man shulde bost hym self. But we are his workemanship created in christe Iesu vnto good workes / vnto which God ordened vs before that we shulde walke in them. The texte is playne / we were stone deed and without life or powre to do or consent to good. The hole nature of vs was captiue vnder the deuel and led at his wil. And we wer as wycked as the deuel nowe is (Except that he nowe sinneth againe the holy gost) & we consentid vnto sinne / with soule & body & hated the lawe of god. But [F6] god of his grace only quyckened vs in Christe / & raysed vs out of that death and made vs sitte with Christe in heauenly thinges. That is / he set our hertes at rest and made vs sitte fast in the life of Christes doctrine / and vnmoueable from the loue of Christ. And finally we ar in this our seconde birthe gods workemanshipe & creation in Christ: so that as he which is yet vnmade / hath no life nor powre to worke / no moare had we til we were made ageyne in Christe. The preachinge of mercie in Christe quickened oure hertes thorow faithe / wrought by the spirite of christe whiche God powred in to oure hertes / yer we wist.
Derely beloved / if God so loved vs / then ought we loue one a nother.
If we felt the loue of god in Christes bloude / we could not but loue ageyne / not only god and Christe / but also al that are bought with christes bloude. If we loue god for the pleasures that we receaue / then loue we oure selues. But if we loue hym to do hym pleasure ageyne: that can we no nother wise do / then in louynge oure neyboures for his sake / them that are good / to contynue them in their goodnes / and them that are euel / to drawe them to good. Loue is thinstrument wherwith faith maketh vs gods sonnes and fasshoneth vs lyke thimage of god / and certifieth vs that we so are. And therfore commaundeth Christ .Matth. the fift. Loue your enimyes / Blesse them that curse youe / pray for them that persecute youe / that ye may be the sonnes of your heuenly father / which makith his sonne rise ouer good & badde / & sendeth his raine [F6v] vpon iust and vniust: ye whiche made the sonne of his mercie shyne vpone vs and sent the rayne of the bloude of his dere and only childe vpone oure soules / to quicken vs and to make vs se loue to loue agene.
No man hath at eny tyme sene God. If we loue one a nother God dwelleth in vs / and his loue is perfect in vs.
Thoughe we cannot se god / yet if we loue one a nother / we be sure that he abideth in vs / and that his loue is perfecte in vs: that is / that we loue hym vnfaynedly. For / to loue god truly and to giue hym thankes / is only to loue our neyboure for his sake. For vpon his persone thou canest bestowe no benefite. And for as moche as we neuer sawe god / let vs make no image of hym ner do him ani imageseruice after our awne imagination / but lat vs go to the scripture that hathe sene hym / and there wete what fation he is of and what seruice he wilbe seruyd withe. Blynd reason saith god is a kerued post & wilbe serued with a Candle. But scripture saith god is loue and wilbe serued with loue. If thou loue thy neyboure then art thou the image of god thy selfe / and he dwellith in the liuinge temple of thine herte. And thy louynge of thy neyboure for his sake / is his seruice and worshipe in the spirite / and a candle that burneth before hym in thyne harte & casteth out the light of good workes before the worlde / and draweth al to God / and maketh his enmyes leaue their euel / and come and worship hym also.
Herby we knowe that we abyde [F7] in hym / and he in vs. For he hath given vs of his sprite.
He that hathe not Christes spirite / the same is none of his. Roma. 8. If we haue the sprite of God / then are we sure. But howe shall we knowe whether we haue the spirite? Axe Iohn & he wil say / if we loue one a nother.
And we haue sene and doo testifie that the father hath sent his sonne / the saviour of the worlde. Who so euer confessith that Iesus is the sonne of God / in hym dwelleth God / and he in God. And we haue knowne and beleued the loue yt God hath to vs.
First thappostles taught no fables / but that they sawe and receaued of God by the witnesse of his sprite. Secondaryly Iohn ascendith vppe one stepe hier / from loue to faith / and saith he that beleueth that Iesus is Gods sonne / hathe god in hym. And I doubte not but the pope & his defenders wil answere Iohn and say / then the deuel hath god in hym / and is also in god. For other faith then suche as the deuell hathe / felt they neuer any. But Iohn preuenteth them / we haue knowen and beleued the loue that god hath to vs. That is / we beleue not only with story faith / as men beleue olde cronicles / but we beleue the loue and mercie that god shewed vs / and put oure trust and confidence therin (And so taketh scripture belefe) we beleue that Iesus is the sonne of god / made man and slayne for our sinnes / which is a token of greate loue. And that [F7v] loue beleue we and trust therto. Wher Paule saith .i. Corinth. xij. No man can cal Iesus lorde except the holy gost had taught hym. But thorow the holy gost he meanyth not with the mowthe only / but in the herte with vnfayned faithe / puttinge his hope and trust in the lordeshipe which he hath ouer sinne / damnation / hel and deeth. For so coulde no man cal Iesus lorde / except the holy gost had taught hym / as Christ saith Math. xvi. flesh and bloude showed the not that.
But yet how shal I se my faith? I must come downe to loue agayne / and thence to the workes of loue / yer I can se my faith. Not alway but somtyme thou shalt feale thy faith with out the outwarde dede / as in greate aduersite and persecution when the deuell assauteth the withe desperation / and leyeth thy sinnes before the / & wold beare the in hande that god had cast the awaye and left the socourles / for thy sinnes sake. Then cometh faith forth with her shilde / & turnyth backe agayne the dartes of the deuel / and answereth: Nay for Iesus is the sonne of God: ye and my verie god and my very lorde / & hath taken away my sinnes and al damnation. And this trouble and aduersitie which is come vpon me / by settinge on of the and of thy lymmes / is only to make me feale the mercie of my father & his powre & healpe within in my soule / & to sley the rest of the poisen which remaineth in the flesh.
God is loue and he that abideth in loue / abideth in god / & god in hym.
This haue we herde aboue and it is easy to be vnderstonde.
Herfore is loue perfect with vs / [F8] that we shulde haue confidence in the day of Iudgement.
Howe so euer this texte sounde / this me thinketh shulde be the meanynge: that we shulde prouoke eche other to loue / and euer haue those ensamples of edifienge before our eyes that shuld most moue vs to loue. For perfite loue seruith to make a man bolde / because it is the kepinge of the commaundementes. And therfore he that is perfecte in loue / when he seith hym selfe yet in this worlde to be vnto his neyboure as god is vnto hym / and to be lyke his heauenly father in al ensample of kyndnesse / is bolde in the presence of god: ye though he come to iudge sinners. When on thotherside / they that contynew euer in their wickednes and growe not in loue / fal often. And therfore their conscience euer accuseth them and putteth them in feare / bi the reasone of the freshe memori of thoffence / that they cannot attonce be bolde / thoughe they haue neuer so greate promises of mercie.
Ther is no feare in loue. But perfect loue castith out feare. For feare hath paynfulnes. He therfore that feryth / is not perfect in loue.
Loue is not paynful but maketh al thinge easy and plesaunt: feare of punyshment for the trespace newly commytted is payneful: Therfore wher loue is perfect ther is no suche feare. Loue is the fullfillinge of all commaundementes. And therfore where loue is parfecte / there is no synne. And wher the conscience doth not accuse of sinne / ther is faith bold to go in to god [F8v] and to stond before hym / and loke hym in the face / and to coniure hym by al his mercies / and to axe the petitions of his desire. Lacke of loue is the breaking of the commaundementes and cause of synne. And wher the conscience accuseth of sinne / ther faith is abbashed / dismayed / asshamed and affrayed to go in / for feare of rebuke. Loue therfore seruith to make a man bold in the day of iudgment and in al temptations.
Iohn speakyth not generally of al maner feare / but of that only which the conscience of synne putteth a man in. For diuerse feares ther be that accompany love and growe as she doeth. The moare a woman loueth her childe / the moare she careth for it and feareth lest ought shuld chaunce it a misse. Euen so the moare we loue oure brethren / the moare we care for them / and feare lest eny temptation shulde trouble them. As Paule saith .2. Cor. 11. who is sycke and I am not sycke? who is offended or hurt and myne hert burneth not? Howe cared he for Timothe / for Titus / & for al that wer weak / and for the Corinthians / Galathians / and for al congregations? and howe diligently wrote he to them in his absence? and the moare we loue god / the moare diligent and circumspect ar we / that we offende hym not. And tel me I pray the / who so euer hast had experience / what a payne and grefe / ye and what a freating coresey is it vnto the harte of a true louer of god / to here the poysen generation of vipers / the pestilent secte of hypocritishe pharises / wittingly and willinglie to blaspheme and rayle on the open ond manifest truthe of the holy gost?
If ye wil se howe bolde loue is: go to Moses .Exod. 32. and Numeri. 14. And ther behold [G1] howe he coniureth god and among al saith: Forgiue this poeple or put me out of the booke that thou hast writen. As who shulde say / thei be thy people and thou commaundest me to loue them. And for thy sake I loue them and teache them and care for them / as a mother that had borne them and loue them no lesse then my self. Wherfore if thou loue me as thou promisest me / then saue them with me: or if not / then cast me away with them / and let me haue suche parte as they take. And Paule said asmoche. Roma. 9. Loke vpon worldly loue / and se what pagientes she playeth nowe and then and how dronken a thinge it is: and be sure / where the loue of god is perfecte / she wil not only go betwene bodely death & her louer / but also betwene hym and hel. If a man wolde take of this / that a man might be so perfecte in this life / that he might not be perfecter / it wolde not folowe. For thoughe the spirite at a tyme get the vpper hand of the fleshe / and wyneth hyr selfe so to god / that she cannot tel whether she be in the body or no: yet the fleshe wil pul her downe agene and not let hyr contynewe / and nowe and then plucke of some of hyr feathers / for mountynge so hie ageyne. For Moses fel thorow vnbelefe wel ynoughe after that feruentnes.
We loue hym / because he louyd vs firste.
We deserue not the loue of god first / but he deserueth our loue / & loueth vs first / to winne vs & to make vs his frendes of his ennimies. And as sone as we beleue his loue / we loue agayne. And so faith is mother of al loue. And as gret as my faith is so greit is loue / thoughe faith cannot be perfectly sene / but thorow the workes of loue [G1v] and in the fyre of temptation.
If a man saye / I loue god / and hateth his brother: he is a lier. For how can he yt loueth not his brother whome he seeth / loue God whom he seeth not? And this commaundement haue we of hym: that he which loueth God / loue his brother also.
To loue a mans neyboure in god is a sure rule to knowe that we loue god: & not to loue hym / is a sure token that we loue not God: & to hate our neybour is to hate god. For to loue god is to do his commaundementes as Christe saith Iohn .15. Ye ar mi louers if ye do those thinges which I haue commaundyd you: & the commaundement is to loue our neyboures: then he that loueth not his neybour / loueth not god. And likewise to hate the commaundement / is to hate god that commaunded it: & the commaundement is to loue our neyboures: he then that hateth his brother whom god biddeth hym loue / hateth God.