- 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 t h i r d e c h a p t e r .
- BEholde what loue the father hath shewed vs / yt we shulde be callyd the sonnes of God. For this cawse the worlde knoweth [E4] youe not / because it knoweth not hym. Dearlie beloued nowe we are the sonnes of God / though yet it aperith not what we shalbe. But we knowe that when he shall appere / we shalbe like hym / for we shall se hym as he is.
The loue of God to vs warde is excedinge greate in that he hath made vs his sonnes without all deseruing of vs / & hath geuen vs his sprite thorow Christe / to certifie oure hertes therof / in that we feale that oure trust is in God / and that oure soules haue receaued health and powre to loue the lawe of God / which is a sure testimonie that we are sonnes and vnder no damnation. Nether ought it to discourage vs or to make vs thinke we were lesse beloued / because the worlde hateth vs & persecuteth vs / for the worlde knoweth vs not. Nether anye maruell / for the worlde coulde not knowe Christ hym self for all his gloriouse comyng with miracles & benefites in healinge the sicke and raisinge the deed. But for all the oppression of the worlde / we are yet sure that we are gods sonnes. And in like maner thoughe the glorie that we shalbe in appere not: yet we are sure that we shalbe like hym / when he apperithe. As darknes vanisheth awaye at the commynge of the sonne & the worlde receaueth a newe fation / & is turned in to light & sodenlie made glorious. Euen so when he appearith and we shall se hym as he is / we shall with the sight of hym / be chaungyd in to the glorie of his image & made like him. And then shal the worlde knowe both him & vs / vnto their shame & confusion.
[E4v] And all that haue this hope in him purge them selues as he is pure.
The faithe and hope of a christen man / are no dead / ydle / or baren thinges: but liuelye workinge and fructful. For when the lawe thorowe conscience of synne / hathe slayne the soule / then hope and trust in Christes bloude thorowe certifienge of the conscience that the damnation of the lawe is taken awaye / qwycken hyr agene / and make hir to loue the lawe / which is the purifienge of the soule and hir life and seruinge the lawe in the inner man. And then the said giftes of hope and faith stretch them selues forthe vnto the membres / deed with natural lust / consent / & custome to synne / and quycken them and purgeth them / with the holsome penaunce of Christes doctrine / and make them serue the lawe outwarde and beare holsome fructe of loue vnto the profecte of their neyboures / accordinge to Christes loue vnto vs. For if the sprite of christe with which God anoynteth vs and maketh vs kinges / and sealeth vs and maketh vs his sure and seueral kingdome / & which he giueth vs in ernest .2. Cor. 1. And with which he chaungeth vs in to thimage of Christe .2. Cor. 4. dwel in our 10 soules thorowe faith / the same spirite cannot but quycken the membres also / and make them fructeful. Ro. 8. Wherfore the faithe and hope of the pope which by their awne confession / may stonde with al wickednes and consent vnto al euel and be without repentaunce towarde Gods lawe (as it appereth by theyr thre capital synnes twitched of Iohn a litle a boue: pride / couetousnes and lecherie) are no true faithe & hope: but vayne wordes and visures only / accordinge to [E5] his other disgisinge and names of hypocrisie.
All that commytte synne / committe vnrightwisnes / for synne is vnrightwisnes.
That thenglishe calleth here vnrightwisnes the greke calleth Anomia / vnlawfulnes or breakynge the lawe. So that all synne is breakinge of Gods lawe / and only the transgression of Gods lawe is synne. Nowe al gods lawes ar contayned in these two poyntes / beleue in Christe / and loue thy neyboure. And these two poyntes are thinterpretinge and expoundinge of al lawes / so that what so euer edifieth in faith and loue / is to be kepte / as longe as it so doeth. And what so euer hurteth faith or loue / is to be broken immediatly: thoughe kynge / Emproure / pope or an aungel commaunde it. And al indifferent thinges that nether healpe ner hurte faithe and loue / ar hole in the handes of father / mother / master / lorde and prince. So that if they wil synne agaynst God and ouerlade oure backes / we maye wel runne awaye / if we can escape / but not aduenge oure sealues. But & if they wil breake in to thy conscience / as the pope doeth with his domme traditions / and saith / to do this saueth thy soule / and to leaue it vndone loseth thy soule / then defie them as the workes of Antichriste / for they make the synne agenst the faith that is in Christes bloude / by which only thy soule is saued / and for lack of that only damned. And how loue breaketh the lawe take an ensample. It is a good lawe that men come to the churche on the sondayes to heare Gods worde & to receaue the sacrament of the bodie and bloude of Christe / in a remembraunce of his benefites [E5v] and so to strengthen thy soule / fore to walke in his loue & in the loue of our neyboure for his sake & ce. Yet if my father / mother / or eny other that requireth my healpe be sicke / I breake that good commaundement / to do my dute to myne eldres or my neyboure. And thus al lawes ar vndre loue and giue rome to loue. And loue interpreteth them: ye & breaketh them at a tyme / thoughe God hym self commaunde them. For loue is lorde ouer al lawes.
And ye knowe that he apperid to take awaye oure sinnes / and ther is no synne in hym.
Christe died not alone to purchasse pardone for oure forsynnes / but also to slaye al synne and the life of synne in oure membres. For all we that are baptised in the name of Christ saith Paule .Rom. 6. are baptised to die with him concernynge synne / and that as he after his resurrection dieth no moare / so we after oure baptym shuld walke in a newe life and synne no moare. Oure membres are crucified with hym / in al that parteyneth vnto the life of synne. And if in Christ be no synne / then how can ther be wilful synne in the faith that is in hym / or in the quycke membres that thorow faith growe out of him? Euery man therfore that hath the true faith of Christ / purgeth hym self / as he is pure.
All that abide in hym synne not. And all that synne haue nether sene hym nor knowen hym.
As ther is no synne in Christ the stocke / so can there be none in the quycke membres that liue and growe in hym by faith. And they that gi[E6]ue them selues to synne haue nether sene / knowen / or fealt by faith the mercie that is in hym. Oure holy father then which forbiddeth Matrimonie and giueth his disciples licences with his holy blessinge to kepe hores: and pluralities / vnions / and totquot / to robbe the parishes / hath nether sene nor knowen Christe / no moare haue his disciples that consent vnto his iniquitie. And if they knowe hym not / they cannot truely describe him vnto vs. It foloweth then that their preachinge is but hypocrisie.
Litle children let no man begyle you. He that worketh rightwisnes is righteous / as he is rightwise.
Iudge men by their dedes. For who so euer hath the light of God in his soule / he wil let his light shyne / that men shal se his good workes. And therfore where ye se not the rightwisnes of workes in the membres outward / there / be sure / is no rightwisnes of faith in the harte in warde. Let no man mocke youe with vayne wordes. Who so euer preachith the Christe in worde and dede / hym take for Christes vicare. And them that wold proue them selues his vicars with Sophistrie / and when it is come to the poynte make a swerd only their mightie arguments / and liue contrarie to al his doctrine / and in al their preachinges blaspheme & rayle on his blesside bloude / take for the vicares of antichrist.
He that synneth is of the deuell / for ye deuell synneth from ye beginninge. But for this cause apperid the sonne of God: Euen to destroy ye workes of [E6v] the devell. All that are borne of God doo no sinne / for his sede abideth in them and they cannot synne / because they be borne of God: And herby are the sonnes of God knowen / and also the sonnes of the deuell.
God & the deuel are .ij. contrarie fathers .ij. contrarie fountaines / and .ij. contrarie causes: the one of al goodnes / the other of al euel. And they that do euel are borne of the deuel and first euel by that birth / yer they do euel. For yer a man do any euel outwarde of purpose / he conceaued that euel first in his mynde and consented vnto it / and so was euel in his hert yer he wrought euel / and yer he conceyued euel in his hert he was borne of the deuell and had receaued of his seede and nature: By the reason of which nature / seede and birth / he workyth euel naturally / and can do no nother. As christe saithe Iohn .8. ye are of the father the deuel and therfore wil do the lustes of youre father.
And on the other side / they that do good ar first borne of God and receaue of his nature and seede / and by the reason of that nature and seede / are first good yer they doo good by the same rule. And Christ which is contrarie to the deuel came to destroye the workes of the deuel in vs & to giue vs a newe birth / a newe nature / and to sowe newe seed in vs / that we shulde / by the reason of that birthe / synne no moare. For the seed of that birth / that is to wete the sprite of god and the liuelie seed of his worde / sowen in oure hartes / kepeth oure hertes that we cannot con[E7]sent to synne / as the seede of the deuel holdethe the hartes of his / that they cannot consent to good. This is contrarie vnto the pope in two poyntes / in One that he saith / that oure good dedes make vs first good / and teachith vs not to beleue in Christes bloude / ther to be washed and made first good. And in a nother / that he saith / god choseth vs first for oure good qualities and properties and for thenforcement and good endeuoure of our frewil. What good endeuoure is there where the deuel possesseth the hole herte / that it can consent to no good?
And finallie there is great difference betwen the synne of them that beleue in Christe vnfaynedlye / and the synne of them that beleue not. For they that beleue / synne not of purpose and of consent to wickednesse that it is good / castinge and compassinge afore hande without grudge of conscience to bringe their purpose aboute. As ye se oure hypocrites haue vexed al Christendome this .xx. yeares to bringe a litle lust to effecte. Their fathers conceyued mischeue .viij. hundreth yeares agoo. And the sonnes consent vnto the same and haue no powre to departe therfrom. And therfore their synne is deuelishe & vnder the damnation of the lawe. But if he that beleueth / synne: he doeth it not of purpose / or that he consenteth vnto the life of synne: But of infirmitie / chaunce / and some greate temptation that hath ouercome hym. And therfore his sinne is venial and vnder mercie and grace / thoughe it be murther / thefte / or adulterie: and not vnder the damnation of the lawe. So that his father shal scourge hym / but not cast hym away or damne hym. Mark in the synne of Saul and of David. Saul euer excused his synne / and coulde [E7v] not but persecute the wil of God. And Dauid confessid his sinne / withe greate repentaunce at the first warning / when soeuer he forgot hym selfe.
All that worke not rightwisnes are not of God. Ner he that loueth not his brother. For this is the tydinges which ye herde at the begynnynge / that we shulde loue one a nother / and not be as Cain which was of the devell and slewe his brother. And wherfore slewe he hym? For his dedes were euell and his brothers righteous. Maruell not my brethren thoughe ye worlde hate youe.
The lawe of rightwisnes is / that we loue one a nother as Christe loued vs / & he that hath not this lawe liuinge in his harte / and when the tyme is / bringeth not forthe the fructes therof / the same is not of god / but of the deuel whose byrthe and properties of the same ye se described in Cain / howe he resisted God and persecuted the Children of God for their belefe and workes therof. And as ye se in Cain and his brother Abell / so shal it euer continewe betwen the children of God and of the deuel vnto the worldes ende. Wondre not therfore thoughe the worlde hate youe.
We knowe that we are translated from deeth to life / because we loue the brethren. He that loueth not his [E8] brother / abideth in deathe. Al that hate their brethren ar mourtherars / and ye knowe that no mourtherar hathe eternall life abidynge in hym.
If thou loue thy brother in Christ / and art ready to do and to suffre for hym as Christe did for the / then thou arte sure therby that thou arte the sonne of god and heyre of life and deliuered from death and damnation. So haue Christen men signes to knowe whether they be in the state of grace or no. And on thother syde he that hath no power to loue his brethern / may be sure that he is in the state of death and damnation. A nother is this let euery man looke vpon his hart / and be sure that he which hateth his brother hath slayen hym before God and is a murtherar. And murtherers shal not obtein the kingdome of god .Gala. 5. But are Cains brethren and the deuels children / and arte heyres of death and euer vnder damnation. Compare the regiment of the spiritualte which haue had the temperall swerde in their handes nowe aboue .viij. hundreth yeares vnto this doctrine of Iohn and Iudge whether they haue led vs truely after the steppes of Christes doctrine or noo.
Herby we are assured of loue / because he left his life for vs / and therfore ought we to leave owr lives for oure brethren. He then that hathe the substaunce of the worlde / and seyth his brother haue nede and shutteth [E8v] vp his compassion frome hym / howe dwellith the loue of God in hym?
If we fealt the loue of Christes deeth / it wold sure set oure hert on fire to loue hym ageyne and oure brethren for his sake / and shulde neuer cease to sley oure resistinge membres vntill we could not only be wel content / that oure brethren were in prosperouser state then we / but also vntil we coulde blesse them when they curse vs / and pray for them when they persecute vs / and to soffre deeth for them / to testifie the worde of their soules health vnto them / and with loue to ouercome them / and to wynne them vnto Christe. If nowe euery christen man ought to haue this ruele of his profession before his eyes to lerne it / that he shulde loue his brother as Christe did hym / to departe with his life for his brotheres ensample / howe far are they of frome good scolars / that connot finde in their hertes to departe with a litle of the abundaunce and superfluite of theyr temperal goodes / to helpe theyr neybours nede?
My litle children let vs not loue in worde ner withe the tonge / but with the dede and of a trueth. For therby we knowe that we be of the trueth / and so shall we certifie oure hertes in his sight.
If we haue power to worke / then doeth the worke certifie oure hertes / that oure faith in christe and loue to god and oure neyboure for his sake are vnfayned / and that we are true children [F1] and no hipocrites. And then are we bolde in oure conscience before God. And this is it that petre meaneth .ij. Petr. j. where he biddeth vs ministre in oure faith vertue / Godly liuinge and all maner of good workes / and therwith to make oure vocation and election / or oure callinge and chosinge sure. For the sight of the worke doth certifie vs that God hath called vs & chosen vs vnto grace and mercie.
But and if when the tyme of workinge is come / I fle and haue no powere to worke / then will oure conscience accuse vs of synne & transgression with in the herte before God / & so for feare of the rod we dare not be bolde / but drawe bak and stand a loofe.
Let a childe haue neuer so mercifull a father yet if he breake his fathers commaundementes / thoughe he be not vnder damnation / yet he is euer chid & rebuked and nowe and then lasshed with the rodde: by the reason wherof he is neuer bold in his fathers presens. But the childe that kepith his fathers commaundementes / is sure of hym self and bold in his fathers presens / to speake and axe what he will. They that ministre well / get them good degre and greate confidence in the faithe that is in Christe Iesu / saith Paule. j. Timo. iij. He that worketh is bolde before God and man. For his conscience accuseth hym not within / nether haue we ought to wite hym with all or to cast in his teeth. And as with out the sight of the workes Iacob Thappostle can not se thy faith Iaco. 2. no moare shalt thou euer be sure or bold before God or man.
But if oure hertes condemne vs / God is greater then oure harte / and [F1v] knoweth all thinge.
If oure conscience accuse vs of synne / God is so great and so mightie that it cannot be hidde.
Derely beloued if oure hertes condemne vs not / then we trust to godward. And what so euer we axe / that shall we receaue of hym / be cause we kepe his commaundementes and doo the thinges which are pleasaunt in his sight.
Kepinge of the commaundementes maketh a man se his faith & to be bolde therin. And faith when it is without conscience of synne / goeth in to God boldlie / & is stronge & mightie in praier to coniure God by all his mercies / and therwith optayneth what so euer he axeth / of all his promises. And the texte saith because we kepe his commaundementes. Ye verely his commaundementes make vs bolde. But the kepinge of mens traditions & domme cerimonies make not bolde befor God / ner certifie oure conscience that oure faith is vnfayned. Thou shalt not knowe by sprinkelinge thy self with holy watter / ner kyssinge the pax / nor with takinge asshes / or thoughe thou were annoynted with all thoyle in teames strete that thy faith is sure. But & if thou couldest finde in thyne herte to bestowe bothe life and goodes vpon thy neyboure in a iust cause / and hast proued it: then art thou sure / that thou louest Christe / and felest that thou hast thy trust in his bloude.
And this is his commaundement yt [F2] we beleue in his sonne Iesus Christe / and loue one another / as he gaue commaundement.
Faith is the first & also the roote of all commaundementes. And out of faith springeth loue: & out of loue workes. And when I breake any commaundement I synne agaynst loue. For had I loued I had not done it. And when I synne against loue I synne against faith. For had I ernestly & with a full trust remembred the mercie that Christe hath shewed me / I must haue loued. Wherfore when we haue broken eny commaundement / there is no nother waye to be restored agayne / then to go throughe repentaunce vnto oure faithe agayne / & axe mercie for Christes sake. And assone as we haue receaued faith that oure synne is forgiuen / whe shall immediatly loue the commaundement agayne / and thorowe loue receaue powre / to worke.
And he that kepeth his commaundementes abydeth in hym / and he in hym. And hereby we knowe that there dwelleth in vs of his sprite which he gaue vs.
Thorow the workes we are sure that we contynewe in Christ / and Christe in vs / & that his sprite dwellyth in vs. For his sprite it is that kepeth vs in faithe / and thorowe faithe in loue and thorowe loue in workes.