- 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 .
C h a p i t r e . i .
- Here begynnethe the first Epistle
of Saynte Iohn.
THat whiche was frome the begynninge declare we vnto you / which we haue herde / which we haue sene with our eyes / whiche we looked vpon / and oure handes have handled of the worde of life. For the life apperide / and we haue sene / and beare witnesse and shewe vnto yowe that everlastinge life / whiche was with the father and apered vnto vs.
In that saint Iohn saithe. The thinge which was from the beginninge / and the euerlastinge life that was with the father / he witnessithe that Christe is very God / as he dothe in the begining of his gospel sainge. The word or the thing / was at the beginninge / and the thinge was with God / and that thing was god / and al thinges were made by it.
And when he saith / which we hard and sawe with our eyes / and our handes handled him / he testifieth that Christ is very man also / as he dothe in the beginninge of his Gospel sayenge. The worde or that thing was made fleshe / that is / became man. And thus we haue in playne & open wordes a manifest article of oure faythe / that our sauiour Christe is very god & veri man. [A8v] Whiche article who so ever not only belevithe / but also belevithe in it / the same is the sonne of God / and hath euerlastinge life in him / & shal never come in to condemnacion / as it is writen Iohn the .i. He gaue them power to be the sonnes of God / in that they belevyd in his name. And Iohn the .iij. he that belevythe in the sonne hathe ever lastinge life. And a litle before in the said chaptre. He that belevythe in him shal not be condemnyd. And to beleue in the wordes of this article / is that eatynge of Christes fleshe and drinkinge his bloude of which is spoken Iohn .vi. The wordes whiche I speake ar sprite & life / & the fleshe profiteth not at al / meaninge of the fleshly eting of his body / & fleashly drinkyng of his bloude. There is therfor greate difference betwene belevinge that there is a God & that Christ is God & man / and to beleue in God and Christ God and man / and in the promyses of mercie that are in hym. The first is commune to good and bad / and vnto the deuels therto and is called the faithe and beleue of the historie. The seconde is propre vnto the sonnes of God and is their life / as it is written. The rightwise liveth by faithe / that is / in puttinge his trust / confidence / and hole hope in the goodnes / mercie / and helpe of God / in al aduersities / bodely and gostlie / and all temptacions / & even in sinne and hel / howe depe so ever he be fallen therin.
But as he whiche fealythe not his disease / can longe for no healthe / euen so it is impossible for any man to beleue in Christes bloude / excepte Moses have had hym first in cure / and withe his lawe have robbyd him of his rightwisnes / and condemned him vnto everlastinge deeth and haue shewyd hym vnder what damnation they [B1] ar in by byrthe in Adam. And howe all their dedes (appere they neuer so holie) ar yet but damnable synne because they can refer nothinge vn to the glorie of God / but seke them selues / their awne proffyt / honoure and glorie. So that repentaunce toward the lawe must go before this belefe / and he whiche repentythe not / but consentythe vnto the life of synne hathe no parte in this faithe.
And when Iohn callyth Christ the euerlasting life that was with the father / he signifieth that Christ is our life / 20 as after in the pistle / & in the first also of his gospell sayenge. In hym was life. For vntill we receaue life of Christ by faithe we ar dead & can be but deade / as saith Iohn in the .iij. He that beleuyth not in the sonne / can se no life / but the wrathe of God abydithe vpon hym. Of whiche wrathe we ar heyres by byrthe sayth Paule. Ephe. ij. Of which wrathe we ar ignorant / vntill the lawe be publisshed / & walke quietlie after oure lustes / and loue God wickedly / that he shuld be content therwith and mayntene vs therin contrary vnto his Godly & righteous nature. But assone as the lawe (whose nature is to vtter synne .Rom. iij. and to sette man at variance / withe God) is preached / then we first awake out of oure dreame / and se oure damnation / and hate the lawe whiche is so contrary vnto oure nature / & grouge against God therto / as yoinge children doo against their eldres when they first commande / and counte God a cruell tyraunte because of his lawe in that he condemneth vs for that thing which we can not loue / nor of loue fulfyll.
But when Christ is preachid / howe that God for his sake receauyth vs to mercie / & forgiuyth [B1v] vs all that is past / & hence forthe rekeneth not vnto vs oure corrupte & poysoned nature / and takyth vs as his sonnes / and puttyth vs vnder grace and mercie / and promysithe that he will not iudge vs by the rigorousnes of the lawe / but nourture vs with all mercie and patience / as a father most mercyfull. Only if we will submitt oure selues vnto his doctryne and lerne to kepe his lawes. Ye and he will therto consyder our mekenes / and what so euer chaunseth neuer takythe away his mercy / tyll we cast of the yoke of oure profession first / & run away with vtter defiaunce / that we wyll neuer come more at scole. Then oure stubborne & harde hertys mollifie and wax softe / and in the confidence and hope that we haue in Christ and his kindenes we go to God boldly as vnto oure father and receaue life / that is to say loue vnto God and vnto the lawe also.
That whiche we haue sene & herd we declare vnto youe that ye may haue felowship with vs / and that oure felowshipe may be with the father / & with his sonne Iesus Christ. And thes thinges we wryte vnto you that youer ioy may be full.
To bringe vnto the felowshipe of God and Christ / and of them that beleue in Christ / is the final entent of al the scripture / why it was giuen of God vnto man / & the only thinge whiche all trewe preachers seke / & wherbi ye shal euer knowe & discerne the true worde of God frome all false / & counterfayted doctryne of vayne traditions [B2] & the true preacher frome the wylie hypocrite. We preache vnto youe (saithe Iohn) that ever lastinge life whiche we haue herd / & in heringe receaued thorowe fayth & ar suer of it / to drawe youe to vs out of the felowshipe that ye haue with the damned deuells in synfull lustes and ignoraunce of God / for we seke youe & not youres as saith Paule .ij. Corin. xij. We loue youe as oure selues in God / and therfor wold haue youe felowes / and equall with vs / & byld youe vpon the foundation layde of the Apostles and Prophetys which is Christ Iesus / & make youe of the houshold of God for euer / that ye / & we / felawes & brethern / and coupled to gether in one sprite / in one faithe and in one hope / might haue oure felowshipe therby with God / and become his sonnes and heyres / and with Iesus Christ / beinge his brethern & coheyres / and to make youre Ioy full thoroue that glade tydinges / as the Aungell said vnto the shepardes Luc .ij. Beholde I shewe youe greate Ioye that shalbe vnto all the people / howe that ther is a sauioure borne vnto you this day which is Christ the lord. And thes tydinges we bringe you with the word of God only which we receauid of his sprite / and owte of the mowthe of his sonne as true messengers.
We preache not oure selues / but Christ oure lorde / & vs youre seruauntes for his sake / we do not loue oure selues / to seke yours vnto vs / that after we had with wiles robbyde youe of all ye haue / we shulde exalt oure selues ouer youe & seperat oure selues from youe & make oure selues a seuerall kyngdome / fre & franke raynyng ouer youe as hethen tyrauntes & holdinge youe in bondage to serue our lucre & lustes tanglinge your [B2v] conscience withe doctryn of man which draweth from God and Christ and fearinge youe with the bugg of excommunication agaynst Godys word. Or if that seruyd not / shakyng a shwerd at youe.
And this is the tydinges whiche we haue herd of hym / and declare vnto youe / that God is light and in hym is no darknes at all. If we say that we haue felowship with hym / & yet walke in darknes we lye / and do not the truthe. But and if we walke in light as he ys in lyght / then haue we felowship to gether / & the bloud of Christ his sone / clensith vs from all synne.
As the deuell is darknes and lyes / so is God light and trueth only / and ther is no darknes of falshed and consentynge to wikednes in hym. And the brightnes of his light is his word and doctrine / as the .c. and .xix. Psalme saith. Thy word is a lantern vnto my fete and a light to my pathes. And Christ is the light that lightneth all men. And Thapostles ar called the light of the world / because of the doctrine. And all that knowe trueth ar light. Ye wer once darknes saith Paule .Ephe. v. But nowe light in the lorde / walke therfor as the chyldren of lyght. And good workes ar callyd the frutes of light. And all that lyue in ignoraunce ar called darknes / as he saith afterward / he that hateth his brother walketh in darknes. For if the light of the glori[B3]ous Gospell of Christ did shyne in his harte / he coulde not hate his brother.
By walkynge vnderstonde / consentinge / doynge / and workinge. If then we walk in darknes / that is / consent and work wykednes / and say we haue felowship with God we lye. For / to haue felowshipe with hym / is to knowe and consent and professe his doctrine in oure hertes. Nowe if the commaundementes of God be writen in oure hertes / oure membres can not but practise them and shewe the frute. So whether light or darknes be in the hert / it wyll apere in the walkinge. For thoughe our membres be neuer so deade vnto vertue / yet if oure soules knowlege the truthe & consent vnto rightwisnes / we haue the sprite of life in vs. And saith Paule Roma. viij. If the sprite of hym that reysed vp Iesus from deth be in youe then will he that raysed vp Iesus from deeth / quicken your mortall bodies / by the reason of the sprite that dwellyth in youe. So that it is not possible for hym that knoweth the trueth & consentyth therto to contynewe in synne. And then finally if we haue the light in oure hertes & walke therin / then we haue felowship with God / and ar his sonnes and heires / and ar purged from all synne thoroue Christes bloud.
If we saye we haue no synne we disceaue oure selues and trueth is not in vs.
If we thinke ther is no synne in vs / we ar begyld and blynde and the light of Godes word is not in vs / & ether folowe synne as bestys without conscience at all. Or if we se the grosse synnes / as Murther / Thefte / and adultery / yet [B3v] we haue hanged a vayle of false gloses vpon Moses face and / se not the brightnes of the lawe / howe that it requireth of vs as pure an herte to God / and as greit loue vnto oure neybours as was in oure sauioure Iesus and ceaseth not before to condemne vs as synners.
If we knowlege oure synnes he is faythfull and iust to forgive vs oure synnes and to clense vs frome all vnrightwisnes.
If we confesse oure synnes / not in the prestes eare (thoughe that tradition restoryd vnto the right vse were not damnable) but in our hertes to God with trewe repentance and fast beleue. Then is he faithful to forgiue and to purge vs / because of his merciful truthe and promise. For he promysed Abraham that in his seede all the world shuld be blesside frome the curse of sinne. And hathe aboundantlie renued his everlastinge mercie vnto vs in the newe testament / promysinge that oure sinnes shalbe forgiven vs in Christes bloude / if we repent and trust therto.
If we say we haue not synned we make him a lyer and his worde is not in vs.
For his word testifieth against vs / that we ar al synners / ye and else Christe died in vayne. Salomon. saith .3. Reg. 8. That there is noman that synneth not agaynst God. And Paule proueth by thauctorite of the scripture vnto the Romayns that we ar al synners with out exception. [B4] And the scripture witnessith that we ar damnable synners / and that oure nature is to synne. Which corrupt and poysoned nature / thoughe it be begunne to be healed / yet is it never thorowe hole vntil the hower of death. For the which cause with al our best frutes / ther growe wedes amonge. Nether can ther be any dede so perfecte that could not be amendyd. When a blynde bongler wonderyth at his gloriouse workes / a connynge worke man that hathe a clere iudgment perceaveth that it is impossible to make a worke that coulde not be made better. Nowe the lawe requireth workes of vs in the hiest degre of perfection and ceaseth not to accuse vs / vntil our workes flowe naturallie / as glorious in perfection as the workes of Christ. And Christ teachith vs to pray in our pater noster forgeue vs our trespasses as we forgeue our trespasers. Wherby ye may easlie vnderstonde that we synne daily one against a nother and al against God. Christ taught also to pray that oure father shuld not let vs slyp in to temptation / signifieng that our nature can not but sinne if occasions be geven / except that God of his especial grace kepe vs bake. Which pronite to synne is damnable synne in the lawe of God. Dauid prayed in the .68. Psalme. Let not the tempest drowne me / let me not fal in to the bottom / and let not the pyt shut hir mowthe vpon me / as who shulde saye. Fyrst kepe me God frome synnynge / then if I shal chaunce to fall as no fleshe can escape / one tyme or other / then cal me shortly bake agayne / and let me not synk to depe therin / & thoughe I yet fal never so depe / yet Lorde let not the way of mercie be stopped / signifieng that it is impossible to stand of our selfs / & moche lesse to ryse agen. [B4v] Whiche impotencie and feblenes is damnable in the lawe of God / except that we sawe it / and repentyd and wer fled to Christ for mercie.