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our profession, so that we never cast off the yoke of God from our necks, neither yield up ourselves unto sin, for to serve it, but fight afresh, and begin a new battle.
HOW À CHRISTIAN MAN CANNOT ERR, AND
· HOW HE MAY YET ERR.
AND as they sin not, so they err not. And on the other
side as they sin, so they err: but never unto death and damnation. For they never sin of purpose, nor hold any error maliciously, sinning against the Holy Ghost, but of weakness and infirmity. As good obedient children, though they love their father's commandments, yet break them oft, by the reason of their weakness. And as they We sin of
frailty and cannot yield themselves bond unto sin, to serve it: even weakness. so, they cannot err in any thing that should be against the promises which are in Christ. · And in other things their errors be not unto damnation, though they be never so great, because they hold them not maliciously. As now, if some, when they read in the New Testament of Christ's brethren, would think that they were our lady's children, after the birth of Christ, (because they know not the use of speaking of the Scripture or of the Hebrews, how that nigh kinsmen be called brethren, or haply they might be Josephs' children, by some first wife, neither can have any to teach him for tyranny that is so great,) yet could it not hurt him, though he died therein, because it hurteth not the redemption that is in Christ's blood. For though she had none but Christ, I am, therefore, never the more saved; neither yet the less, though she had had. And in We may such like, an hundred that pluck not a man's faith from err, and
yet be Christ, they might err, and yet be nevertheless saved ; saved. no though the contrary were written in the gospel. For as in other sins, as soon as they be rebuked, they repent :
even so here, as soon as they were better taught, they should immediately knowledge their error and not resist.
But they which maliciously maintain opinions against the Scripture, or that they cannot be proved by the Scripture; or such as make no matter unto the Scripture, and salvation that is in Christ, whether they be true or no; and for the blind zeal of them make sects; breaking the unity
of Christ's church, for whose sake they ought to suffer all Who they things; and rise against their neighbours, whom they ought be, that err from the to love as themselves, to slay them; such men, I say, are way of
fallen from Christ, and make an idol of their opinions. faith.
For except they put trust in such opinions, and thought them necessary unto salvation, or with a cankered conscience went about to deceive, for some filthy purpose, they would never break the unity of faith, or yet slay their brethren. Now is this a plain conclusion, that both they that trust in their own works, and they also that put confidence in their own opinions, be fallen from Christ; and err from the way of faith that is in Christ's blood; and therefore, are none of Christ's church, because they be not built upon the rock of faith.
FAITH IS EVER ASSAILED AND FOUGHT WITHAL.
MOREOVER, this our faith which we have in Christ, Faith is.
is ever fought against, ever assailed and beaten at ever assailed with with desperation : not when we sin only, but also in all desperation.
temptations of adversity, into which God bringeth us, to nurture us, and to shew us our own hearts, the hypocrisy and false thoughts that there lie hid, our almost no faith at all, and as little love, even then haply when we thought ourselves most perfect of all. For when temptations come, we cannot stand; when we have sinned, faith is feeble; when wrong is done us, we cannot forgive; in
and readiz ness to do
sickness, in loss of goods, and in all tribulations we be impatient; when our neighbour needeth our help, that we must depart with him of ours, then love is cold.
And thus we learn and feel that there is no goodness All power nor yet power to do good, but of God only. And in all a such temptations, our faith perisheth not utterly, neither good, com
eth of God, our love and consent unto the law of God. But they be and not of weak, sick, and wounded, and not clean dead. As a good ourse child, whom the father and mother have taught nurture A very and wisdom, loveth his father and all his commandments, and perceiveth of the goodness shewed him, that his father loveth him, and that all his father's precepts are unto his wealth and profit, and that his father commandeth him nothing for any need that his father hath thereof, but seeketh his profit only, and therefore hath a good faith unto all his father's promises, and loveth all his commandments, and doth them with good will, and with good will goeth to school. And by the way, haply, he seetli company play, and with the sight is taken and ravished of his memory, and forgetteth himself, and standeth and beholdeth, and falleth to play also, forgetting father, and mother, all their kindness, all their laws, and his own profit thereto. Howbeit, the knowledge of his father's kindness, the faith of his promises, and the love that he hath again unto his father, and the obedient mind, are not utterly quenched, but lie hid, as all things do when a man sleepeth, or lieth in a trance. And as soon as he hath played out all his lusts, or been warned in the mean season, he cometh again ful though
they slip, unto his old profession. Neverthelater, many temptations yet they
fall not. go over his heart, and the law as a right hang-man tormenteth his conscience, and goeth nigh to persuade him that his father will cast him away and hang him, if he catch him; so that he is like, a great while, to run away, rather than to return unto his father again. Fear and dread of rebuke, and of loss of his father's love, and of punishment, wrestle with the trust which he hath in his father's goodness, and as it were give his faith a fall. But it riseth
Faith in the goodness of God is our stay,
again as soon as the rage of the first brunt is past, and his mind more quiet. And the goodness of his father, and his old kindness cometh unto remembrance, either of his own courage, or by the comfort of some other. And he believeth that his father will not cast him away or destroy him, and hopeth that he will no more do so.
And upon that he getteth him home, dismayed. But not altogether faithless. The old kindnesses will not let him despair. Howbeit, all the world cannot set his heart at rest, until the pain be past, and until he have heard the voice of his father, that all is forgiven.
THE MANNER AND ORDER OF OUR ELECTION.
EVEN so goeth it with God's elect. God chooseth
them first, and they not God, as thou readest John xv.
John xv. And then he sendeth forth and calleth them, and sheweth them his good will which he beareth unto them, and maketh them see both their own damnation in the law, and also the mercy that is laid up for them in
Christ's blood, and thereto what he will have them do. If we con- And then when we see his mercy, we love him again, and
choose him and submit ourselves unto his laws, to walk in merciful God is unto them. For when we err not in wit, reason and judgment
of things, we cannot err in will and choice of things. choose but The choice of a man's will doth naturally and of her own submit our selves unto accord follow the judgment of a man's reason, whether he
judge right or wrong. So that in teaching only resteth the pith of a man's living. Howbeit, there be swine that receive no learning but to defile it. And there be dogs that rent all good learning with their teeth. And there be pope-holy, which, following a righteousness of their own feigning, resist the righteousness of God in Christ. And there be that cannot attend to hearken unto the truth for
us, we cannot
rage of lusts, which when lusts abate, come and obey well enough.
And therefore, a Christian man must be patient and Christian suffer long to win his brother to Christ, that he which at- be patient. tendeth not to day, may receive grace and hear to-morrow. We see some at their very latter end, when cold fear of death hath quenched the heat of their appetites, learn and consent unto the truth, whereunto, before they could give none care, for the wild rages of lusts that blinded their wits. · And though God's elect cannot só fall that they rise not again, because that the mercy of God ever waiteth Mercy
waiteth upon them, to deliver them from evil, as the care of a kind ever on the father waiteth upon his son, to warn him and to keep him elect from occasions, and to call him back again if he be gone too far: yet they forget themselves ofttimes, and sink down into trances and fall asleep in lusts for a season. But as soon as they be awaked they repent and come again without resistance. God now and then withdraweth his hand and leaveth them unto their own strength, to make them feel that there is no power to do good but of God only, lest they should be proud of that which is none of theirs. God laid so sore a weight of persecution upon David's back that passed his strength to bear. So that David. he cried oft out of his Psalms, saying, that he had lived well, and followed the right way of God in vain. For the more he kept himself from sin, the worse it went with him, as he thought; and the better with his enemy Saul, the worse he was. Yet God left him not there, but comforted him, and shewed him things which before he wist The elect not of, how that the saints must be patient, and abide of God's harvest, until the wickedness of ungodly sinners be patience
and be long full ripe, that God may reap it in due season.. " :: God also suffered occasions, stronger than David, to fall upon him, and to carry him clean out of the way. Was he not ready for a churlish answer to have slain Nabal, and all the males of his house, so much as the child in the
of God must have