Martin Luther

 

A COMMENTARY ON

SAINT PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS

1535

 

 

 

 

From the preface to this old, but precise translation:

The original edition of this Commentary - in Latin, like the lectures on which it was based - was prepared for the press by George Rörer, one of Luther’s most assiduous and reliable reporters, with some assistance from Veit Dietrich and more from Caspar Cruciger. These are the ‘brethren’ to whom Luther refers in his Preface. All three had attended the lectures in 1531, and Rörer, at any rate, had taken very full notes (in an abbreviated script of his own) on the whole course. These notes are printed above the published text of the Commentary in the Weimar edition of Luther’s works, and they are occasionally cited in the footnotes of the present volume, where they are referred to as ‘Rörer’s MS.’ They show, incidentally, that the course began on July 3rd and ended on December 12th, and that there were forty-one lectures in all. The whole of the published text is based on these notes, except for the exposition of Galatians 5:6, which derives from a manuscript of Luther’s own that was made available to Rörer, although it was not written specifically for this Commentary. At the end of July 1532, Rörer began to write out the lectures, consulting Dietrich and Cruciger from time to time to check his accuracy. Early in 1534 the work was in the hands of the printer, and a year later it was published. A second, revised edition followed in 1538, and a German version in 1539.

       More than thirty years later, in 1575, the first English edition was published, the translation being based on the second Latin edition. In 1577 it was ‘diligently revised, corrected, and newly imprinted againe,’ and two more printings followed before the century was out. All subsequent English editions, with one exception, appear to have been either reproductions or abridgments of the sixteenth-century translation. The best known of them is the so-called ‘Middleton’ edition, first published in 1807, which was reprinted six or seven times during the nineteenth century, and furnished the text for J.P. Fallowes’ abridgment in 1939. It takes its name from the fact that it is prefaced by a ‘Life of the Author and a complete and impartial history of the times in which he lived, by the late Rev. Erasmus Middleton, B.D., Rector of Turvey, Bedfordshire.’ Middleton was an Evangelical clergyman of the Church of England, who died in 1805. His ‘Life’ of Luther had been published in the first volume of his Biographia Evangelica in 1769. It is not clear by whom the 1807 edition of Luther’s Galatians was prepared for the press, but its general character suggests a not too skillful modernization (in respect of spelling, punctuation and so forth) of a considerably older text, without any reference to the Latin original.

       In the preparation of the present edition an original ‘Middleton’ has been used, together with a black letter edition of 1616, which was the earliest available; and the entire text has been compared with the original Latin. It would have been too long and costly an undertaking to produce a completely new, modern translation, and there was in any case much to be said for retaining the style of the Elizabethan translators, who were at least as close to Luther in spirit as in time, and who spoke English as he would have spoken it if it had been his native tongue. If their rendering of the Latin is not entirely literal, it is often more nearly so than modern speech would allow, and it retains much more of the pungent flavor of the original.

(Philip S. Watson. Handsworth Methodist College, Birmingham. )

 

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This text has been made available for the web by Tony Woodcock (GodRules.net)

 

Web-editor, cand.theol. Finn B. Andersen

from the land of the mermaids

 

 

(Luther and his Danish girlfriend)

 

 

 

LUTHER’S PREFACE

I myself can hardly believe I was as verbose when I lectured on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, as this volume indicates. But since I recognize as mine all the thoughts which the brethren have taken such pains to set down in it, I am forced to admit that I said as much and perhaps even more. For the one doctrine which I have supremely at heart, is that of faith in Christ, from whom, through whom and unto whom all my theological thinking flows back and forth day and night. Not that I find I have grasped anything of a wisdom so high, so broad and so profound, beyond a few meager rudiments and fragments; and I am ashamed that my poor, uninspired comments on so great an Apostle and chosen instrument of God should be published. Yet I am compelled to forget my shame and be quite shameless in view of the horrible profanation and abomination which have always raged in the Church of God, and still rage to-day, against this, one solid rock which we call the doctrine of justification. I mean the doctrine that we are redeemed from sin, death and the devil, and made partakers of eternal life, not by ourselves (and certainly not by our works, which are less than ourselves), but by the help of another, the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ.

       This rock was shaken by Satan in Paradise, when he persuaded our first parents that they might by their own wisdom and power become like God, abandoning faith in God, who had given them life and promised its continuance. Shortly afterwards, that liar and murderer (always true to himself) incited a brother to murder his brother, for no other reason than that the latter, a godly man, had offered by faith a more excellent sacrifice, while he himself, being ungodly, had offered his own works without faith and had not pleased God. After this there followed a ceaseless and intolerable persecution of this same faith by Satan through the sons of Cain, until God was compelled to purge the world and defend Noah, the preacher of righteousness, by means of the Flood. ‘Nevertheless, Satan continued his work in Ham, the third son of Noah, and in others too many to mention. Thereafter the whole world acted like a madman against this faith, inventing innumerable idols and religions with which everyone (as St. Paul says) went his own way, hoping to placate a God or goddess, gods or goddesses, by his own works; that is, hoping without the external [alieno] aid of Christ and by his own works to redeem himself from evils and sins. All this is sufficiently evidenced by the doings and writings of all nations.

       But these are nothing in comparison with that people of God, Israel, or the Synagogue, who were blessed beyond all others, not only with the sure promise given to the Fathers and with the Law given by God through angels, but also with the constant testimony of the words, miracles and examples of the prophets. Yet even among them, Satan (I.e. the fury of self-righteousness) had such success that after killing all the prophets they killed the very Son of God himself, their promised Messiah; and all for the same reason, namely, that they taught that we men are received into the favor of God by the grace of God, not by our own righteousness. This is the sum of the doctrine of the devil and the world from the beginning: ‘We will not appear to do evil, but whatever we do, God must approve of it and all his prophets must agree. If they do not, let them die. Let Abel perish and Cain live. Let this be our law.’ And so it is.

       In the Church of the Gentiles, however, things have been and are even worse, so that the madness of the Synagogue may well seem mere child’s play in comparison. For the Jews, as St. Paul says, did not know their Messiah; otherwise they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But the Church of the Gentiles has accepted Christ and confesses him to be the Son of God, who has been made our righteousness; and this it publicly sings, reads and teaches. Yet despite this confession, those who claim to be the Church kill, persecute and rage against those who believe and teach by word and deed nothing else but that Christ is precisely what they themselves are compelled (though insincerely) to confess him to be. For they are in power to-day under the name of Christ; but if they could keep their power without the name of Christ, they would openly declare him to be what in their hearts they think him. They have a far lower opinion of him than the Jews, who at least take him for a thola, a thief who deserved his crucifixion, whereas our people regard him as a fable, like some invented God of the heathen, as can be seen at Rome in the Papal Curia and almost everywhere in Italy.

       Since, therefore, Christ is made a mockery among his Christians (for so they wish to be called), and Cain kills Abel continually and the abomination of Satan now reigns supreme, it is necessary to pay the very closest heed to this doctrine, and to oppose Satan with it, whether we are eloquent or not, learned or not. For if all men kept silence, this rock ought to be proclaimed by tile very rocks and stones themselves. Hence I am willing to do my duty and let this extremely verbose Commentary be published in order to stir up my brethren in Christ against the wiles and malice of Satan, who in these last days has become so infuriated at the recovery of the sound knowledge of Christ, that whereas it has hitherto seemed as if men were possessed by demons and raving mad, it now seems as if the demons themselves are possessed by worse demons and raving with a more than demonic madness – which strongly suggests that the Enemy of truth and life feels the Day of Judgment to be imminent; a dreadful day of destruction for him, but a lovely day of redemption and the end of his tyranny for us.

       For he has reason to be alarmed, when all his members and his powers are so assailed, just as a thief or adulterer is alarmed when the dawn breaks upon him and he is caught in his act.

       For, leaving aside the abominations of the Pope, whoever heard of such an outbreak of monsters as we see to-day in the Anabaptists alone? Truly, in them Satan is stirring up his own everywhere with frightful commotions, as if he were intent on breathing out the last blast of his kingdom, and were seeking all of a sudden, not only to subvert the whole world with seditions, but also to swallow up completely Christ and his Church through innumerable sects. He does not vent such rage on other kinds of life or thought, like those of adulterers, thieves, murderers, perjurers, the ungodly, the sacrilegious, the unbelieving. On the contrary, he keeps them in peace in his court, pampering and indulging them in everything. Just as in the earliest days of the Church he not only tolerated but splendidly supported all the idolatries and religions of the whole world, while he everywhere harassed the Church and religion of Christ, so to-day he has no other concern than the one that is always peculiarly his own, to persecute Christ (who is, our righteousness without any works of ours) as it is written: ‘Thou shalt bruise his heel.’ But these thoughts of mine on this Epistle are being published not so much against these people as for our people, who will either thank me for my pains or pardon my weakness and temerity. I have certainly no wish that the impious should approve of them, but rather that they and their God should be irritated by them; for I produced them (with much toil) only for such as those to whom St. Paul himself wrote his Epistle – the troubled, afflicted and tempted (who alone understand these things), wretched Galatians in the faith. Those who are not such may listen to the Papists, monks, Anabaptists and all the other masters of infinite wisdom and religion, heartily despising what we say and do, without even caring to understand it.

       For the Papists and Anabaptists are to-day agreed on this one point against the Church of God (even if their words disguise it), namely, that the work of God depends on the worthiness of the person. According to the Anabaptists, baptism is nothing unless the person is a believer. From this principle (as it is called) it must follow that all the works of God are nothing if man is not good. If baptism, which is a work of God, ceases to be a work of God when man is evil, it follows that the married state, the office of a magistrate, and the station of a servant, which are works of God, are no longer works of God because men are evil. The ungodly have the sun, moon, earth, water, air, and all that is subject to man; yet since they are not godly, it must follow that the sun is not the sun, and moon, earth, water, air, are not what they are. The Anabaptists themselves had bodies and souls before they were re-baptized, but because they were not godly, they had not real bodies and souls. Similarly, their parents were not really married – as they admit – because they were not re-baptized, and therefore the Anabaptists themselves are all illegitimate and their parents were adulterers and fornicators. Yet they inherit their parents’ property, although they admit themselves to be illegitimate and without right of inheritance.

       Who cannot see here in the Anabaptists, not men possessed by demons, but demons themselves possessed by worse demons? So also the Papists still to this day insist on works and the worthiness of the person, contrary to grace, thus giving strong support (in words at least) to their brethren the Anabaptists. For these foxes are tied together by the tails, even though their heads look in opposite directions. While they outwardly profess to be great enemies, inwardly they think, teach and defend one and the same thing against our one and only Savior Christ, who alone is our righteousness. Let him who can, then, hold fast to this one article; and let the rest, who make shipwreck, be driven by the wind and waves until they either return to the ship or swim to the shore. But more about the Anabaptists another time, if the Lord Christ wills. Amen. [The foregoing formed the preface to the first edition (1535). In the second edition (1538) and subsequent editions, the following paragraphs were added after ‘swim to the shore.’] The sum and end of the complaint is that there is no hope of peace or an end of complaint so long as Christ and Belial do not agree. One generation passes, another comes. If one heresy dies, another springs up, for the devil neither slumbers nor sleeps. I myself – although I am nothing – who have now been in the ministry of Christ for twenty years, can testify that I have been attacked by more than twenty sects, of which some have entirely perished, while others still show signs of life, like parts of dismembered insects.

       But Satan, that God of all factious men, daily raises up new sects, and the latest is one which I should least of all have foreseen or expected. I mean those who teach that the Ten Commandments ought to be taken out of the Church, and that men ought not to be put in fear of the Law, but sweetly exhorted by the grace of Christ; that the saying of the prophet Micah might be fulfilled, that no man should reprove another: ‘Thou shalt not drop upon us.’ As if we did not know, or had never taught, that afflicted and contrite spirits are to be raised up through Christ, but that hard-hearted Pharaohs to whom the grace of God is preached in vain, must be put in fear of the Law. Why, they themselves are compelled to invent revelations of wrath against the wicked and unbelieving – as if the Law were or could be something other than a revelation of Wrath! Such is the blindness and pride of those self-condemned men.

       Ministers of the Word, therefore, if they would be counted faithful and prudent on the Day of Christ, ought to be very sure that St. Paul did not speak empty words or prophesy of a thing of nought, when he said: ‘There must be heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. Let the minister of Christ know, I say, that as long as he preaches Christ purely, there will be no lack of perverse persons, even among our own people, who will make it their business to cause trouble in the Church. And he may comfort himself with the thought that there is no peace between Christ and Belial, or between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the Serpent. Indeed, he may rejoice in the trouble he is caused by sects and the constant succession of seditious spirits. For this is our glory, the testimony of our conscience that we are found standing and fighting on the side of the Seed of the woman against the seed of the Serpent. Let him bite our heel and never cease biting; we for our part will not cease to crush his head through Christ, the first to crush it, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

 

 

INTRODUCTORY

I HAVE taken in hand, in the name of the Lord, yet once again to expound this Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians: not because I do desire to teach new things, or such as ye have not heard before, especially since that, by the grace of God, Paul is now thoroughly known unto you: but for that (as I have often forewarned you) this we have to fear as the greatest and nearest danger, lest Satan take from us the pure doctrine of faith, and bring into the Church again the doctrine of works and men’s traditions.

       Wherefore it is very necessary, that this doctrine be kept in continual practice and public exercise both of reading and hearing. And although it be never so well known, never so exactly learned, yet the devil our adversary, who continually rangeth about seeking to devour us, is not dead; likewise our flesh and old man is yet alive; besides this, all kinds of temptations vex and oppress us on every side. Wherefore this doctrine can never be taught, urged, and repeated enough. If this doctrine be lost, then is also the whole knowledge of truth, life and salvation lost and gone. If this doctrine flourishes, then all good things flourish, religion, the true service of God, the glory of God, the right knowledge of all things and states of life. Because therefore we would be occupied and not idle, we will there begin now where we made an end, according to the saying of the son of Sirak: ‘When a man hath done what he can, he must begin again’ (Ecclus. 18:6).

 

 

THE ARGUMENT OF THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS

First of all it behooveth that we speak of the argument of this Epistle: that is to say, what matter St. Paul here chiefly treateth of. The argument therefore is this.

       St. Paul goeth about to establish the doctrine of faith, grace, forgiveness of sins, or Christian righteousness, to the end that we may have a perfect knowledge and difference between Christian righteousness and all other kinds of righteousness. For there be divers sorts of righteousness. There is a political or civil righteousness, which emperors, princes of the world, philosophers and lawyers deal withal. There is also a ceremonial righteousness, which the traditions of men do teach. This righteousness parents and schoolmasters may teach without danger, because they do not attribute unto it any power to satisfy for sin, to placate God, or to deserve grace: but they teach such ceremonies as are only necessary for the correction of manners, and certain observations concerning this life.

       Besides these, there is another righteousness called the righteousness of the law, or of the Ten Commandments, which Moses teaches. This do we also teach after the doctrine of faith.

       There is yet another righteousness which is above all these: to wit, the righteousness of faith, or Christian righteousness, the which we must diligently discern from the other afore-rehearsed: for they are quite contrary to this righteousness, both because they flow out of the laws of emperors, the traditions of the Pope, and the commandments of God, and also because they consist in our works, and may be wrought of us either by our pure natural strength (as the sophisters term it) or else by the gift of God. For these kinds of righteousness are also of the gift of God, like as other good things are which we do enjoy.

       But this most excellent righteousness, of faith I mean (which God through Christ, without works, imputeth unto us), is neither political nor ceremonial, nor the righteousness of God’s law, nor consisteth in our works, but is clean contrary: that is to say, a mere passive righteousness, as the other above are active. For in this we work nothing, we render nothing unto God, but only we receive and suffer another to work in us, that is to say, God. Therefore it seemeth good unto me to call this righteousness of faith or Christian righteousness, the passive righteousness.

       This is a righteousness hidden in a mystery, which the world doth not know, yea, Christians themselves do not thoroughly understand it, and can hardly take hold of it in their temptations. Therefore it must be diligently taught and continually practiced. And whoso doth not understand or apprehend this righteousness in afflictions and terrors of conscience, must needs be overthrown. For there is no comfort of conscience so firm and so sure, as this passive righteousness is.

       But man’s weakness and misery is so great, that in the terrors of conscience and danger of death, we behold nothing else but our works, our worthiness and the law: which when it sheweth unto us our sin, by and by our evil life past cometh to remembrance. Then the poor sinner with great anguish of spirit groaneth, and thus thinketh with himself: ‘Alas! How desperately have I lived! Would to God I might live longer: then would I amend my life.’ Thus man’s reason cannot restrain itself from the sight and beholding of this active or working righteousness, that is to say, her own righteousness: nor lift up her eyes to the beholding of the passive or Christian righteousness, but resteth altogether in the active righteousness: so deeply is this evil rooted in us.

       On the other side, Satan abusing the infirmity of our nature, doth increase and aggravate these cogitations in us. Then can it not be but that the poor conscience must be more grievously troubled, terrified and confounded.

       For it is impossible that the mind of man itself should conceive any comfort, or look up unto grace only, in the feeling and horror of sin, or constantly reject all disputing and reasoning about works. For this is far above man’s strength and capacity, yea and above the law of God also.

       True it is, that of all things in the world, the law is most excellent: yet is it not able to quiet a troubled conscience, but increaseth terrors, and driveth it to desperation; for by the commandment sin is made exceeding sinful (Romans 7:13) Wherefore the afflicted and troubled conscience hath no remedy against desperation and eternal death, unless it take hold of the promise of grace freely offered in Christ, that is to say, this passive righteousness of faith, or Christian righteousness. Which if it can apprehend, then may it be at quiet and boldly say: I seek not the active or working righteousness, although I know that I ought to have it, and also to fulfill it. But be it so that I had it, and did fulfill it indeed, yet notwithstanding I cannot trust unto it, neither dare I set it against the judgment of God. Thus I abandon myself from all active righteousness, both of mine own and of God’s law, and embrace only that passive righteousness, which is the righteousness of grace, mercy and forgiveness of sins. Briefly, [I rest only upon] the righteousness of Christ and of the Holy Ghost, which we do not, but suffer, and have not, but receive; God the Father freely giving it unto us through Jesus Christ.

       Like as the earth engendereth not rain, nor is able by her own strength, labor and travail to procure the same, but receiveth it of the mere gift of God from above: so this heavenly righteousness is given us of God without our works or descryings. As much therefore as the earth of itself is able to do in getting and procuring to itself seasonable showers of rain to make it fruitful, even so much are we men able to do by our strength and works in winning this heavenly and eternal righteousness; and therefore we shall never be able to attain unto it, unless God himself by mere imputation and by his unspeakable gift do bestow it upon us. The greatest knowledge, then, and the greatest wisdom of Christians is, not to know the law, to be ignorant of works and of the whole active righteousness, especially when the conscience wrestleth with the judgment of God. Like as on the contrary, amongst those which are not of the number of God’s people, the greatest point of wisdom is, to know and earnestly to urge the law, works, and the active righteousness.

       But it is a thing very strange and unknown to the world, to teach Christians to learn to be ignorant of the law, and so to live before God, as if there were no law: notwithstanding, except thou be ignorant of the law, and be assuredly persuaded in thine heart that there is now no law nor wrath of God, but altogether grace and mercy for Christ’s sake, thou canst not be saved; for by the law cometh the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).

       Contrariwise, works and the keeping of the law must be so straitly required in the world, as if there were no promise or grace; and that because of the stubborn, proud and hard-hearted, before whose eyes nothing must be set but the law, that they may be terrified and humbled. For the law is given to terrify and kill such, and to exercise the old man; and both the word of grace and of wrath must be rightly divided, according to the Apostle (Timothy 2:25 f.).

       Here is then required a wise and faithful disposer of the Word of God, which can so moderate the law, that it may be kept within his bounds. He that teacheth that men are justified before God by the observation of the law, passeth the bounds of the law, and confoundeth these two kinds of righteousness, active and passive, and is but an ill logician, for he doth not rightly divide. Contrariwise, he that setteth forth the law and works to the old man, and the promise of forgiveness of sins and God’s mercy to the new man, divideth the Word well. For the flesh or the old man must be coupled with the law and works: the spirit or new man must be joined with the promise of God and his mercy. Wherefore when I see a man that is bruised enough already, oppressed with the law, terrified with sin, and thirsting for comfort, it is time that I should remove out of his sight the law and active righteousness, and that should set before him by the Gospel the Christian and passive righteousness, which excluding Moses with his law, offereth the promise made in Christ, who came for the afflicted and for sinners. Here is man raised up again and conceiveth good hope, neither is he any longer under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:14). How not under the law? According to the new man, to whom the law doth not appertain. For the law hath his bounds unto Christ, as Paul saith afterwards: ‘The end of the law is Christ’ (Galatians 3:24; Romans 10:4); who being come, Moses ceaseth with his law, circumcision, the sacrifices, the Sabbaths, yea and all the prophets.

       This is our divinity, whereby we teach how to put a difference between these two kinds of righteousness, active and passive: to the end that manners and faith, works and grace, policy and religion should not be confounded, or taken the one for the other. Both are necessary, but both must be kept within their bounds: Christian righteousness appertaineth to the new man, and the righteousness of the law appertaineth to the old man, which is born of flesh and blood. Upon this old man, as upon an ass, there must be laid a burden that may press him down, and he must not enjoy the freedom of the Spirit, or grace, except he first put upon him the new man by faith in Christ (which notwithstanding is not fully done in this life); then may he enjoy the kingdom and unspeakable gift of grace.

       This I say to the end that no man should think we reject or forbid good works, as the Papists do most falsely slander us, neither understanding what they themselves say, nor what we teach. They know nothing but the righteousness of the law, and yet they will judge of that doctrine which is far above the law, of which it is impossible that the carnal man should be able to judge. Therefore they must needs be offended, for they can see no higher than the law. Whatsoever then is above the law, is to them a great offense.

       But we imagine as it were two worlds, the one heavenly and the other earthly. In these we place these two kinds of righteousness, being separate the one far from the other. The righteousness of the law is earthly and hath to do with earthly things, and by it we do good works. But as the earth bringeth not forth fruit except first it be watered and made fruitful from above (for the earth cannot judge, renew and rule the heaven, but contrariwise the heaven judgeth, reneweth, ruleth and maketh fruitful the earth, that it may do what the Lord hath commanded): even so by the righteousness of the law, in doing many things we do nothing, and in fulfilling of the law we fulfill it not, except first, without any merit or work of ours, we be made righteous by the Christian righteousness, which nothing appertaineth to the righteousness of the law, or to the earthly and active righteousness. But this righteousness is heavenly and passive: which we have not of ourselves, but receive it from heaven: which we work not, but apprehend it by faith; whereby we mount up above all laws and works.

       Wherefore like as we have borne (as St. Paul saith) the image of the earthly Adam, so let us bear the image of the heavenly (1 Corinthians 15:49), which is the new man in a new world, where is no law, no sin, no sting of conscience, no death, but perfect joy, righteousness, grace, peace, life, salvation and glory.

       Why, do we then nothing? Do we work nothing for the obtaining of this righteousness? I answer: Nothing at all. For the nature of this righteousness is, to do nothing, to hear nothing, to know nothing whatsoever of the law or of works, but to know and to believe this only, that Christ is gone to the Father and is not now seen: that he sitteth in heaven at the right hand of his Father, not as a judge, but made unto us of God, wisdom, righteousness, holiness and redemption: briefly, that he is our high-priest entreating for us, and reigning over us and in us by race.

       Here no sin is perceived, no terror or remorse of conscience felt; for in this heavenly righteousness sin can have no place for there is no law, and where no law is, there can be no transgression (Romans 4:15).

       Seeing then that sin hath here no place, there can be no anguish of conscience, no fear, no heaviness. Therefore St. John saith: ‘He that is born of God cannot sin’ (1 John 3:9). But if there be any fear or grief of conscience, it is a token that this righteousness is withdrawn, that grace is hidden, and that Christ is darkened and out of sight. But where Christ is truly seen indeed, there must needs be full and perfect joy in the Lord, with peace of conscience, which most certainly thus thinketh: Although I am a sinner by the law, as touching the righteousness of the law, yet I despair not, yet I die not, because Christ liveth, who is both my righteousness and my everlasting and heavenly life. In that righteousness and life I have no sin, no sting of conscience, no care of death. I am indeed a sinner as touching this present life and the righteousness thereof, as the child of Adam: where the law accuseth me, death reigneth over me, and at length would devour me. But I have another righteousness and life above this life, which is Christ the Son of God, who knoweth no sin nor death, but is righteousness and life eternal: by whom even this my body, being dead and brought into dust, shall be raised up again and delivered from the bondage of the law and sin, and shall be sanctified together with the spirit.

       So both these continue whilst we here live. The flesh is accused, exercised with temptations, oppressed with heaviness and sorrow, bruised by the active righteousness of the law; but the spirit reigneth, rejoiceth and is saved by this passive and Christian righteousness, because it knoweth that it hath a Lord in heaven at the right hand of the Father, who hath abolished the law, sin, death, and hath trodden under his feet all evils, led them captive and triumphed over them in himself (Colossians 2:15).

       St. Paul therefore in this Epistle goeth about diligently to instruct us, to comfort us, to hold us in the perfect knowledge of this most Christian and excellent righteousness. For if the article of justification be once lost, then is all true Christian doctrine lost. And as many as are in the world that hold not this doctrine, are either Jews, Turks, Papists or heretics. For between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of Christ, or between active and passive righteousness, there is no mean. He then that strayeth from this Christian righteousness, must need fall into the active righteousness; that is to say, when he hath lost Christ, he must fall into the confidence of his own works. This we see at this day in the fantastical spirits and authors of sects, which teach nothing, neither can teach anything aright, concerning this righteousness of grace. The words indeed they have taken out of our mouth and writings, and these only do they speak and write. But the thing itself they are not able to deliver and straightly to urge, because they neither do nor can understand it, since they cleave only to the righteousness of the law. Therefore they are and remain exactors of the law, having no power to ascend higher than that active righteousness. And so they remain the same as they were under the Pope, save that they invent new names and new works, and yet notwithstanding the thing remains the same: even as the Turks do other works than the Papists, and the Papists than the Jews, etc. But albeit that some do works more splendid, great, and difficult by far than others, notwithstanding the substance is the same, the quality only is different: that is to say, the works do differ in appearance and name only, and not in very deed, for they are works notwithstanding, and they which do them are and remain, not Christians, but hirelings, whether they be called Jews, Mahometists, Papists, etc.

       Therefore do we so earnestly set forth and so often repeat this doctrine of faith or Christian righteousness, that by this means it may be kept in continual exercise, and may be plainly discerned from the active righteousness of the law. (For by this only doctrine the Church is built, and in this it consists.) Otherwise we shall never be able to hold the true divinity, but by and by we shall either become canonists, observers of ceremonies, observers of the law, or Papists, and Christ so darkened that none in the Church shall be either rightly taught or comforted. Wherefore, if we will be teachers and leaders of others, it behooves us to have great care of these matters, and to mark well this distinction between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of Christ. And this distinction is easy to be uttered in words, but in use and experience it is very hard, although it be never so diligently exercised and practiced; for in the hour of death, or in other agonies of the conscience, these two sorts of righteousness do encounter more near together than thou would wish or desire.

       Where I do admonish you, especially such as shall become instructors and guiders of consciences, and also every one apart, that ye exercise yourselves continually by study, by reading, by meditation of the Word and by prayer, that in the time of temptation ye may be able to instruct and comfort both your own consciences and others, and to bring them from the law to grace, from active and working righteousness to the passive and received righteousness, and, to conclude, from Moses to Christ. For the devil is wont, in affliction and in the conflict of conscience, by the law to make us afraid, and to lay against us the guilt of sin, our wicked life past, the wrath and judgment of God, hell and eternal death, that by this means he may drive us to desperation, make us bond-slaves to himself, and pluck us from Christ. Furthermore, he is wont to set against us those places of the Gospel, wherein Christ himself requires works of us, and with plain words threatens damnation to those who do them not. Now, if here we be not able to judge between these two kinds of righteousness, if we take not by faith hold of Christ sitting at the right hand of God, who maketh intercession unto the Father for us wretched sinners (Hebrews 7:25), then are we under the law and not under grace, and Christ is no more a savior, but a lawgiver. Then can there remain no more salvation, but a certain desperation and everlasting death must need follow.

       Let us then diligently learn to judge between these two kinds of righteousness, that we may know how far we ought to obey the law. Now we have said before, that the law in a Christian ought not to pass his bounds, but ought to have dominion only over the flesh, which is in subjection unto it, and remains under the same. When it is thus, the law is kept within his bounds. But if it shall presume to creep into thy conscience, and there seek to reign, see thou play the cunning logician, and make the true division. Give no more to the law than belongeth unto it, but say thou: O law, thou wouldest climb up into the kingdom of my conscience, and there reign and reprove it of sin, and wouldest take from me the joy of my heart, which I have by faith in Christ, and drive me to desperation, that I might be without all hope, and utterly perish. This thou dost besides thine office: keep thyself within thy bounds, and exercise thy power upon the flesh, but touch not my conscience; for I am baptized, and by the Gospel am called to the partaking of righteousness and of everlasting life, to the kingdom of Christ, wherein my conscience is at rest, where no law is, but altogether forgiveness of sins, peace, quietness, joy, health and everlasting life. Trouble me not in these matters, for I will not suffer thee, so intolerable a tyrant and cruel tormentor, to reign in my conscience, for it is the seat and temple of Christ the Son of God, who is the king of righteousness and peace, and my most sweet savior and mediator: he shall keep my conscience joyful and quiet in the sound and pure doctrine of the Gospel, and in the knowledge of this passive and heavenly righteousness.

       When I have this righteousness reigning in my heart, I descend from heaven as the rain making fruitful the earth that is to say, I come forth into another kingdom, and I do good works, how and whensoever occasion is offered. If I be a minister of the Word, I preach, I comfort the brokenhearted, I administer the Sacraments. If I be an householder, I govern my house and my family, I bring up my children in the knowledge and fear of God. If I be a magistrate, the charge that is given me from above I diligently execute. If I be a servant, I do my master’s business faithfully. To conclude: whosoever he be that is assuredly persuaded that Christ is his righteousness, doth not only cheerfully and gladly work well in his vocation, but also submitteth himself through love to the magistrates and to their laws, yea though they be severe, sharp and cruel, and (if necessity do so require) to all manner of burdens and dangers of this present life, because he knoweth that this is the will of God, and that this obedience pleaseth him.

       Thus far as concerning the argument of this Epistle, whereof Paul intreateth, taking occasion of false teachers who had darkened this righteousness of faith among the Galatians, against whom he setteth himself in defending and commending his authority and office.

      

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

Paul, an apostle (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the father, who raised him from the dead).

NOW that we have declared the argument and sum of this Epistle to the Galatians, we think it good, before we come to the matter itself, to shew what was the occasion St. Paul wrote this Epistle. He had planted among the Galatians the pure doctrine of the Gospel, and the righteousness of faith; but by and by after his departure, there crept in certain false teachers, which overthrew all that he had planted and truly taught among them. For the devil cannot but furiously impugn this doctrine with all force and subtlety, neither can he rest so long as he seeth any spark thereof remaining. We also, for this only cause, that we preach the Gospel, do suffer of the world, the devil, and his ministers, all the mischief that they can work against us, both on the right hand and on the left.

       For the Gospel is such a doctrine as teacheth a far higher matter than is the wisdom, righteousness, and religion of the world, that is to say, free remission of sins through Christ, etc. It leaveth those things in their degree, to be as they are, and commendeth them as the good creatures of God. But the world preferreth these creatures before the Creator, and moreover, by them would put away sin, be delivered from death, and deserve everlasting life. This doth the Gospel condemn. Contrariwise, the world cannot suffer those things to be condemned which it most esteemeth and best liketh of, and therefore it chargeth the Gospel that it is a seditious doctrine and full of errors, that it overthroweth commonwealths, countries, dominions, kingdoms and empires, and therefore offendeth both against God and the Emperor, abolisheth laws, corrupteth good manners, and setteth all men at liberty to do what they list. Wherefore, with just zeal and high service to God (as it would seem) it persecuteth this doctrine, and abhorreth the teachers and professors thereof as the greatest plague that can be in the whole earth.

       Moreover, by the preaching of this doctrine, the devil is overthrown, his kingdom is destroyed, the law, sin and death (wherewith, as most mighty and invincible tyrants, he hath brought all mankind in subjection under his dominion) are wrested out of his hands: briefly, his prisoners are translated out of the kingdom of darkness, Into the kingdom of light and liberty.

       Should the devil suffer all this? Should not the father of lies employ all his force and subtle policies, to darken, to corrupt, and utterly to root out this doctrine of salvation and everlasting life? Indeed, St. Paul complaineth in this and all other his epistles, that even in his time the devil through his apostles shewed himself a cunning workman in this business. Likewise we also at this day do complain and lament, that Satan hath wrought greater harm to our Gospel by his ministers, the fantastical spirits, than by all the tyrants, kings, princes and bishops that have persecuted it and still do persecute it by force. And had we not watched and labored with such diligence in planting and teaching this doctrine of faith, we had not so long time remained in concord, but among us also there had long since arisen sects. But because we abide constantly in this doctrine, and it is ceaselessly urged by us, it preserveth us in fullest unity and peace. But others, who either neglect it or desire to teach (as they think) something more exalted, do fall into various pernicious errors and sects whereof there is no end, and so they perish.

       We thought good to shew here by the way, that the Gospel is such a doctrine as condemneth all manner of righteousness, and preacheth the only righteousness of Christ, and to them that embrace the same, it bringeth peace of conscience and all good things; and yet, notwithstanding, the world hateth and persecuteth it most bitterly.

       I have said before, that the occasion why St. Paul wrote this Epistle, was for that by and by after his departure, false teachers had destroyed those things among the Galatians which he with long and great travail had built.

       And these false apostles being of the circumcision and sect of the Pharisees, were men of great estimation and authority, who bragged among the people that they were of that holy and chosen stock of the Jews (John 8, Romans 4:4 ff.), that they were Israelites of the seed of Abraham, that they had the promises and the fathers; and finally, that they were the ministers of Christ, and the Apostles’ scholars, with whom they had been conversant, and had seen their miracles, and perhaps had also wrought some signs or miracles themselves for Christ witnesseth (Matthew 7:22) that the wicked also do work miracles. When men having such authority come into any country or city, by and by the people have them in great admiration, and under this color of godliness and religion, they do not only deceive the simple, but also the learned; yea, and those also which seem to be somewhat confirmed in the faith: especially when they brag (as these did) that they are the offspring of the Patriarchs, the ministers of Christ, the Apostles’ scholars, etc. Moreover, these false apostles, by all the crafty means they could devise, defaced the authority of St. Paul, saying: ‘Why do ye so highly esteem of Paul? Why have ye him in so great reverence? Forsooth, he was but the last of all that were converted unto Christ. But we are the disciples of the Apostles, and were familiarly conversant with them. We have seen Christ working miracles, and heard him preach. Paul came after us, and is inferior unto us: and it is not possible that God should suffer us to err who are of his holy people, the ministers of Christ, and have received the Holy Ghost. Again, we are many, and Paul is but one, and alone, who neither is conversant with the Apostles, nor hath seen Christ. Yea, he persecuted the Church of Christ a great while. Would God (think ye) for Paul’s sake only, suffer so many churches to be deceived?’

       Even so the Pope at this day, when he hath no authority of the Scripture to defend himself withal, useth this one argument continually against us, ‘The Church, the Church.’ ‘Thinkest thou that God is so offended, that for a few heretics of Luther’s sect he will cast off his whole Church? Thinkest thou that he would leave his Church in error so many hundred years?’ And this he mightily maintaineth, that the Church can never be overthrown. Now, like as many are moved with this argument at this day, so in Paul’s time these false apostles, through great bragging and setting forth of their own praises, blinded the eyes of the Galatians, so that Paul lost his authority among them, and his doctrine was brought in suspicion.

       Against this vain bragging and boasting of the false apostles, Paul with great constancy and boldness setteth his apostolic authority, highly commending his vocation, and defending his ministry. And (although elsewhere he never doth the like) he will not give place to any, no, not to the Apostles themselves, much less to any of their scholars. And to abate their pharisaical pride and shameless boldness, he maketh mention of the history done in Antioch, where he withstood Peter himself. Besides this, not regarding the offense that might arise thereof, he saith plainly in the text, that he was bold to accuse and reprove Peter himself, the chief of the Apostles, who had seen Christ, and had been most familarly conversant with him. I am an Apostle (saith he) and such a one as pass not what others are: yea, I was not afraid to chide the very pillar of all the rest of the Apostles. And to conclude, in the first two chapters, he doth, in a manner, nothing else but set out his vocation, his office and his Gospel, affirming that it was not of men, and that he had not received it by man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ: also, that if he, or an angel from heaven, should bring any other gospel than that which he had preached, he should be holden accursed.

 

THE CERTAINTY OF CALLING

But what meaneth Paul by this boasting? I answer: This common place serveth to this end, that every minister of God’s Word should be sure of his calling, that before God and man he may with a bold conscience glory therein, that he preacheth the Gospel as one that is called and sent: even as the ambassador of a king glorieth and vaunteth in this, that he cometh not as a private person, but as the king’s ambassador; and because of this dignity, that he is the king’s ambassador, he is honored and set in the highest place: which honor should not be given unto him if he came as a private person. Wherefore, let the preacher of the Gospel be certain that his calling is from God. And it is expedient, that according to the example of Paul, he should magnify this his calling, to the end that he may win credit and authority among the people, like as the king’s ambassador magnifieth his office and calling. And thus to glory is not vain, but a necessary kind of glorying, because he glorieth not in himself, but in the king which hath sent him, whose authority he desireth to be honored and magnified. And when in the name of the king he willeth aught to be done by his subjects, he saith not: We pray you, but: We command, we will this to ‘be done, etc. But for his private person he saith: We pray, etc.

       Likewise, when Paul so highly commendeth his calling, he seeketh not his own praise, but with a necessary and a holy pride he magnifieth his ministry; as to the Romans (11:13) he saith: ‘Forasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I will magnify mine office,’ that is to say, I will that men receive me, not as Paul of Tarsus, but as Paul the apostle or ambassador of Jesus Christ. And this he doth of necessity, to maintain his authority, that the people in hearing this, might be more attaint and willing to give ear unto him. For they hear not only Paul, but in Paul Christ himself, and God the Father sending him out in his message: whose authority and majesty, like as men ought religiously to honor, so ought they with great reverence to receive and to hear also his messengers bringing his word and message.

       This is a notable place, therefore, wherein Paul so glorieth and boasteth as touching his vocation, that he despiseth all others. If any man, after the manner of the world, should despise all others in respect of himself, and attribute all unto himself alone, he should not only show himself a very fool, but also grievously sin. But this manner of boasting is necessary, and pertaineth not to the glory of Paul, but to the glory of God, whereby is offered unto him the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. For by this boasting, the name, the grace, and the mercy of God, is made known unto the world. Thus therefore he beginneth his Epistle.

Paul an apostle, not of men, etc.

Here in the very beginning he toucheth those false teachers which boasted themselves to be the disciples of the Apostles, and to be sent of them, but despised Paul as one that was neither the Apostles’ scholar, nor sent of any to preach the Gospel, but came in some other way, and of his own head thrust himself into that office. Against those Paul defendeth his calling, saying: My calling seemeth base to your preachers; but whosoever they be which are come unto you, are sent either of men, or by man; that is to say, they have entered either of themselves, being not called, or else called by others. But my calling is not of men, nor by man, but it is above all manner of calling that can be made after the Apostles, for it is ‘by Jesus Christ, and by God the Father,’ etc.

       Where he saith ‘of men,’ I mean such as call and thrust in themselves, when neither God nor man calleth or sendeth them, but they run and speak of themselves; as at this day certain fantastical spirits do, which either lurk in corners and seek places where they may pour out their poison, and come not into public congregations, or else they resort thither where the Gospel is planted already. These I call such as are of men. But where he saith ‘by man,’ I understand such as have a divine calling, but yet by man as by means. God calleth in two manner of ways: by means and without means.

       He calleth us all to the ministry of his Word at this day, not immediately by himself, but by other means; that is to say, by man. But the Apostles were called immediately of Christ himself, as the prophets in the Old Testament were called of God himself, Afterwards the Apostles called their disciples, as Paul called Timothy, Titus, etc. These men called bishops (as in Titus 1), and the bishops their successors down to our own times, and so on to the end of the world. And this is a mediated calling, since it is done by man; yet notwithstanding it is of God. So when a prince or magistrate or I call any man, that man hath his calling by man; and this is the general manner of calling in the world since the Apostles’ time. Nor ought it to be changed, but magnified, on account of the fantastical heads, which contemn it and boast of another calling, whereby they say they are impelled by the Spirit to teach. But they are liars and impostors, for they are driven by a spirit which is not good, but evil. For it is not lawful for me to leave my appointed place as a preacher and go unto another city where I am not called, and there preach although as a Doctor of Divinity I might preach in the whole Papacy, would they but tolerate me); no, not even if I hear that falsehoods are bring taught, and souls seduced and damned which I might snatch from error and damnation by my sound doctrine. But I ought to commit the matter unto God, who in his own time wilt find occasion of lawfully calling ministers and giving the Word. For he is the Lord of the harvest, who will send laborers into his harvest; our part is to pray (Matthew 9:38).

       Wherefore we ought not to force our way into another’s harvest, as the devil is wont to stir up his ministers to do, so that they run without being called and profess with most ardent zeal to be grieved that men are being so miserably seduced, and to desire to teach them the truth and snatch than from the snares of the devil. Even, therefore, if a man with a godly zeal and a good intent seeketh by his own sound doctrine to deliver from error them that are led astray, notwithstanding there ariseth hereof a bad example, whereby occasion is given to ungodly teachers to thrust themselves in, through whom Satan afterwards occupieth the chair; and this example worketh very great harm.

       But when the prince or other magistrate calleth me, then can I with assured confidence boast against the devil and the enemies of the Gospel, that I am called by the command of God through the voice of a man. For there is the command of God through the mouth of the prince; and these are true vocations. We also, therefore, are called by divine authority, not indeed immediately by Christ, as the Apostles were, but ‘by man.’

       Now this place concerning the certainty of calling is very necessary on account of those pestilential and satanic spirits, so that every minister of the Word may boast with John the Baptist: ‘The word of the Lord is come upon me’ (Luke 3:2). When, there, re, I preach, baptize, administer the sacraments, I do these things as one commanded and called, because the voice of the Lord is come unto me: not in a corner, as the fantastical spirits do boast, but through the mouth of a man who is in the exercise of his lawful right. But if one or two citizens should ask me to preach, I ought not to follow such a private calling, since a window is thereby opened to the ministers of Satan, who following this example do harm, as we have said above. But when they which hold public offices ask me, then I ought to obey.

       Therefore, when Paul saith, ‘Not of men, neither by man,’ he beateth down the false apostles; as though he would say: Although those vipers brag never so much, what can they brag more than that they are either come ‘of men,’ that is to say, of themselves without any calling, or ‘by man,’ that is to say, sent of others? I pass not upon any of these things, neither ought you to regard them. As for me, I am called and sent neither of men, nor by man, but without means, that is to wit, by Jesus Christ himself, and my calling is like in all points the calling of the Apostles, and I am indeed an Apostle. Paul, therefore, handleth this place, of the calling of the Apostles, effectually. And elsewhere, he separateth the degree of apostleship from others, as in 1 Corinthians 12:28, and in Ephesians 4, where he saith: ‘And God hath ordained some in the Church, as first Apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers’ etc., setting Apostles in the first place; so that they be properly called Apostles, which are sent immediately of God himself, without any other person as means.

       So Matthias was called only of God (Acts 1:23 ff.), for when the other Apostles had appointed two, they durst not choose the one nor the other, but they cast lots, and prayed that God would show which of them he would have. For, seeing he should be an Apostle, it behoved that he should be called of God. So was Paul called to be the Apostle of the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). Hereof the Apostles also are called saints; for they are sure of their calling and doctrine, and have continued faithful in their office, and none of them became a castaway saving Judas, because their calling is holy.

       This is the first assault that Paul maketh against the false apostles, which ran when no man sent them. Calling, therefore, is not to be despised; for it is not enough for a man to have the Word and pure doctrine, but also he must be assured of his calling; and he that entereth without this assurance, entereth to no other end but to kill and destroy. For God never prospereth the labor of those that are not called. And although they teach some good and profitable matters, yet they edify not. So at this day, our fantastical spirits have the words of faith in their mouths, but yet they yield no fruit, but their chief end and purpose is to draw men to their false and perverse opinions. They that have a certain and holy calling must ofttimes sustain many and great conflicts, as they must do whose doctrine is pure and sound, that they may constantly abide in their salutary office, against the infinite and continual assaults of the devil and rage of the world. Here, what should he do whose calling is uncertain, and doctrine corrupt?

       This is therefore our comfort, which are in the ministry of the Word, that we have an office which is heavenly and holy, to the which we being lawfully called, do triumph against all the gates of hell. On the other side, it is an horrible thing when the conscience saith: ‘This thou hast done without any lawful calling.’ Here such terror shaketh a man’s mind which is not called, that he would wish he had never heard the Word which he teacheth; for by his disobedience he maketh all his works evil, were they never so good, insomuch that even his greatest works and labors become his greatest sins.

       We see then how good and necessary this boasting and glorying of our ministry is. In times past, when I was but a young divine, methought Paul did unwisely in glorying so oft of his calling in his epistles; but I did not understand his purpose; for I knew not that the ministry of God’s Word was so weighty a matter. I knew nothing of the doctrine of faith and a true conscience indeed, for that there was then no certainty taught in either the schools or churches, but all was full of sophistical subtleties of the schoolmen; and therefore no man was able to understand the dignity and power of this holy and spiritual boasting of the true and lawful calling, which serveth first to the glory of God, and secondly to the advancing of our ministry, and moreover, to the salvation of ourselves and of the people.

       For by this our boasting we seek not estimation in the world, or praise among men, or money, or pleasures, or favor of the world; but forasmuch as we be in a divine calling, and in the work of God, and the people have great need to be assured of our calling, that they may know our word to be the Word of God, therefore we proudly vaunt and boast of it. It is not then a vain, but a most holy pride against the devil and the world, and true humility before God.

And by God the father, who raised him from the dead

Paul is so inflamed here with zeal, that he cannot tarry till he come to the matter itself, but forthwith, in the very title, he bursteth out and uttereth what he hath in his heart. His intent in this Epistle is, to treat of the righteousness that cometh by faith, and to defend the same: again, to beat down the law, and the righteousness that cometh by works. Of such cogitations he is full, and out of this wonderful and exceeding great abundance of the excellent wisdom and knowledge of Christ in his heart, his mouth speaketh. This flame, this great burning fire of his heart, cannot be hid, nor suffer him to hold his tongue; and therefore he thought it not enough to say that he was an Apostle sent by Jesus Christ, but also addeth: ‘by God the Father, who hath raised him up from the dead.’

       But it seemeth here, that the adding of these words: ‘And by God the Father, etc.’ is not necessary. But because (as I said) Paul speaketh out of the abundance of his heart, his mind burneth with desire to set forth, even in the very entry of his Epistle, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to preach the righteousness of God, which is called the resurrection of the dead. Christ, who liveth and is risen again, speaketh out of him, and moveth him thus to Speak; therefore not without cause he addeth, that he is also an Apostle ‘by God the Father, who hath raised up Jesus Christ from the dead.’ As if he should say, I have to deal with Satan, and with those vipers, the instruments of Satan, which go about to spoil me of the righteousness of Christ, who was raised up by God the Father from the dead; by the which alone we are made righteous, by the which also we shall be raised up at the last day, from death to everlasting life. But they that in such sort go about to overthrow the righteousness of Christ, do resist the Father and the Son, and the work of them both.

       Thus Paul, even at the first entrance, bursteth out into the whole matter whereof he entreateth in this Epistle. For (as I said) he treateth of the resurrection of Christ, who rose again to make us righteous, and in so doing he hath overcome the law, sin, death, hell, and all evils (Romans 4:25). Christ’s victory, then, is the overcoming of the law, of sin, our flesh, the world, the devil, death, hell and all evils: and this his victory he hath given unto us. Although, then, these tyrants and these enemies of ours do accuse us and make us afraid, yet can they not drive us to despair, nor condemn us; for Christ, whom God the Father hath raised up from the dead, is our righteousness and victory (1 Corinthians 15:57).

       Therefore, thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory by our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

       But mark how fitly and to the purpose Paul here speaketh. He saith not: By God who hath made heaven and earth, who is Lord of Angels, who commanded Abraham to go out of his own country, who sent Moses to Pharaoh the king, who brought Israel out of Egypt (as the false prophets did, who boasted of the God of their fathers, the Creator, Maintainer, and Preserver of all things, working wonders among his people); but Paul had another thing in his heart, namely, the righteousness of Christ, and therefore he speaketh words that make much for this his purpose, saying: ‘I am an Apostle, neither of men, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who hath raised him up from the dead.’ Ye see, then, with what fervency of spirit Paul is led in this matter, which he goeth about to establish and maintain against the whole kingdom of hell, the power and wisdom of the world, and against the devil and his apostles.

And all the brethren with me

This maketh much for the stopping of the mouths of these false apostles; for all his arguments tend to the advancing and magnifying of his ministry, and contrariwise, to the discrediting of theirs; as if he should thus say:

       Although it be enough, that through a divine calling am sent as an Apostle by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who hath raised him up from the dead; yet lest I should be alone, I add over and besides (which is more than needeth) all the brethren, which are not Apostles, but fellow-soldiers: they write this epistle as well as I, and bear witness with me that my doctrine as true and godly. Wherefore we be sure that Christ is present with us, and that he teacheth and speaketh in the midst of us, and in our Church. As for the false apostles, if they be anything, they be but sent either of men or by man; but I am sent of God the Father and of Jesus Christ, who is our life and resurrection (John 11:25). My other brethren are sent from God, howbeit by man, that is to wit, by me. Therefore, lest they might say that I alone set myself proudly against so many, I have my brethren with me, all of one mind, as faithful witnesses, which think, write, and teach the selfsame thing that I do.

 

Unto the churches of Galatia

Paul had preached the Gospel throughout all Galatia, and albeit he had not wholly converted it unto Christ, yet he had many churches in it, into the which the false apostles, Satan’s ministers, had crept. So likewise at this day, the fantastical spirits come not to those places where the adversaries of the Gospel bear rule, but where Christians and good men are which love the Gospel. With such they wind in themselves even in the dominions of tyrants and persecutors of the Gospel: where they, creeping into houses under crafty pretense, pour out their poison to the subversion of many. But why go they not rather into the cities, countries, and dominions of the Papists, and there profess and maintain their doctrine in the presence of wicked princes, bishops, and doctors in the universities, as we by God’s help and assistance have done? These tender martyrs will adventure no peril, but they resort thither where the Gospel hath an harbor already, where they may live without danger in great peace and quietness. So the false apostles would not endanger themselves to come to Jerusalem to Caiaphas, or to Rome to the emperor, or to other places where no man had preached afore, as Paul and the other Apostles did: but they came into Galatia, which was won unto Christ already by the labor and travail of Paul, and into Asia, and Corinth, and such other places, where good men were that professed the name of Christ, persecuting no man, but suffering all things quietly There might the enemies of Christ’s cross live in great security, and without any persecution.

       And here we may learn that it is the lot of godly preachers, that besides the persecution which they suffer of the wicked and unthankful world, and the great travail which they sustain in planting of churches, they are compelled to suffer that thing, which they of long time before had purely taught, to be quickly overthrown of fantastical spirits, who afterwards reign and rule over them. This grieveth godly ministers more than any persecution of tyrants. Therefore, let him not be a minister of the Gospel, which is not content to be thus despised, or is loath to bear this reproach: or if he be, let him give over his charge to another. We also at this day do find the same thing to be true by experience. We are miserably contemned and vexed outwardly by tyrants, inwardly by those whom we have restored to liberty by the Gospel, and also by false brethren. But this is our comfort and glory, that being called of God, we have a promise of everlasting life, and look for that reward ‘which eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man’ (1 Corinthians 2:9). For when the great shepherd Christ shall appear, we shall receive an incorruptible crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4): who here also in this world will not suffer us to perish for hunger.

       Jerome moveth here a great question, why Paul calleth those churches, which were no churches: for Paul (saith he) writeth to the Galatians that were perverted and turned back from Christ and from grace, unto Moses and the law. Hereunto I answer, that Paul calleth them the churches of Galatia, by putting a part for the whole, which is a common thing in the Scriptures. For writing in like manner to the Corinthians, he rejoiceth on their behalf, that the grace of God was given them in Christ, namely, that they were made rich through him in all utterance and knowledge. And yet many of them were misled by false apostles, and believed not the resurrection of the dead. So we also at this day call the Roman church holy, and all its bishoprics holy, even though they be abused and the ministers of them ungodly. For God ‘ruleth in the midst of his enemies’ (Psalm 110:2), ‘Antichrist sitteth in the temple of God’ (Thessalonians 2:4), and Satan is present in the midst of the sons of God (Job 1:6). Even if the Church is ‘in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation’ (as Paul saith, Philippians 2:15), even if it is in the midst of wolves and robbers, that is to say, spiritual tyrants, it is none the less the Church. Although the city of Rome is worse than Sodom and Gomorrha, yet there remain in it Baptism, the Sacrament, the voice and text of the Gospel, the Holy Scripture, the Ministries, the name of Christ and the name of God. Those who have these things, have them; those who have not are not excused, for the treasure is there. Therefore the Roman church is holy, because it hath the holy name of God, the Gospel, Baptism, etc. If these things are found among a people, that people is called holy. So our Wittenberg is a holy town, and we are truly holy because we have been baptized, communicated, taught and called of God; we have God’s works among us, namely the Word and Sacraments, and these make us holy.

       I say these things to the end that we may diligently distinguish Christian holiness from other kinds of holiness. The monks called their orders holy (although they durst not call themselves holy); but they are not holy; because, as we said above, Christian holiness is not active, but passive holiness. Wherefore let no man call himself holy on account of his manner of life or his works, if he fasteth, prayeth, scourgeth his body, giveth alms to the poor, comforteth the sorrowful and afflicted, etc. Else should the Pharisee in Luke (18:11 f.) also be holy. The works indeed are good, and God straitly requireth them of us, but they make us not holy. Thou and I are holy, Church, city and people are holy, not by their own, but by an alien holiness, not by active, but by passive holiness, because they possess divine and holy things, to wit, the vocation of the ministry, the Gospel, baptism, etc., whereby they are holy.

       Albeit then, that the Galatians were fallen away from the doctrine of Paul, yet did Baptism, the Word, and the name of Christ, remain among them.

       There were also some good men that were not revolted, which had a right opinion of the Word and Sacraments, and used them well. Moreover, these things could not be defiled through them that were revolted. For Baptism, the Gospel, and other things, are not therefore made unholy, because many are polluted and unholy, and have an evil opinion of them: but they abide holy and the same that they were, whether they be among the godly or the ungodly: by whom they can neither be polluted, nor made holy. By our good or evil conversation, by our good or evil life and manners, they be polluted or made holy in the sight of the heathen, but not afore God. Wherefore, the Church is holy even where fantastical spirits do reign, if only they deny not the Word and Sacraments. For if these be denied, there cannot be the Church. Wherefore, wheresoever the substance of the Word and Sacraments remaineth, there is the holy Church, although Antichrist there reign, who (as the Scripture witnesseth) sitteth not in a stable of fiends, or in a swine-sty, or in a company of infidels, but in the highest and holiest place of all, namely, in the temple of God. Wherefore, although spiritual tyrants reign, yet there must be a temple of God, and the same must be preserved under them. Therefore I answer briefly to this question, that the Church is universal throughout the whole world, wheresoever the Gospel of God and the Sacraments be. The Jews, the Turks, and other vain spirits, are not the Church, because they fight against these things and deny them. Hitherto as touching the title or inscription of this Epistle. Now followeth the salutation or greeting of Paul.

Grace be with you and peace from God the father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ

I hope ye are not ignorant what grace and peace meaneth, seeing that these terms are common in Paul, and now not obscure or unknown. But forasmuch as we take in hand to expound this Epistle (which we do, not because it is needful, or for any hardness that is in it, but that our consciences may be confirmed against heresies yet to come), let it not be tedious unto you, if we repeat these things again, that elsewhere and at other times we teach, preach, sing, and set out by writing. For if we lose the article of justification, we lose all things together. Therefore most necessary it is, chiefly and above all things, that we teach and repeat this article continually; like as Moses saith of his law. For it cannot be beaten into our ears enough or too much. Yea, though we learn it and understand it well, yet is there none that taketh hold of it perfectly, or believeth it with all his heart. ‘So frail a thing is our flesh, and disobedient to the spirit.

       The greeting of the Apostle is strange unto the world, and was never heard of before the preaching of the Gospel. And these two words, grace and peace, comprehend in them whatsoever belongeth to Christianity. Grace releaseth sin, and peace maketh the conscience quiet. The two fiends that torment us are sin and conscience. But Christ hath vanquished these two monsters, and trodden them under foot, both in this world and the world to come. This the world doth not know, and therefore it can teach no certainty of the overcoming of sin, conscience and death. Only Christians have this kind of doctrine, and are exercised and armed with it, to get victory against sin, despair and everlasting death. And it is a kind of doctrine neither proceeding of free-will, nor invented by the reason or wisdom of man, but given from above. Moreover, these two words, grace and peace, do contain in them the whole sum of Christianity. Grace containeth the remission of sins, peace a quiet and joyful conscience. But peace of conscience can never be had, unless sin be first forgiven. But sin is not forgiven for the fulfilling of the law: for no man is able to satisfy the law. But the law doth rather show sin, accuse and terrify the conscience, declare the wrath of God, and drive to desperation. Much less is sin taken away by the works and inventions of men, as wicked worshippings, strange religions, vows and pilgrimages. Finally, there is no work that can take away sin; but sin is rather increased by works. For the justiciaries and merit-mongers, the more they labor and sweat to bring themselves out of sin, the deeper they are plunged therein. For there is no means to take away sin, but grace alone. Therefore Paul, in all the greetings of his epistles, setteth grace and peace against sin and an evil conscience. This thing must be diligently marked. The words are easy; but in temptation it is the hardest thing that can be, to be certainly persuaded in our hearts, that by grace alone, all other means either in heaven or in earth set apart, we have remission of sins and peace with God.

       The world understandeth not this doctrine; and therefore it neither will nor can abide it, but condemneth it as heretical and wicked. It braggeth of freewill, of the light of reason, of the soundness of the powers and qualities of nature, and of good works, as means whereby it could deserve and attain grace and peace; that is to say, forgiveness of sins and a quiet conscience.

       But at is impossible that the conscience should be quiet and joyful, unless it have peace through grace; that is to say, through the forgiveness of sins promised in Christ. Many have carefully labored, by finding out diverse and sundry religious orders and exercises for this purpose, to attain peace and quietness of conscience; but by so doing they have plunged themselves in more and greater miseries: for all such devices are but means to increase doubtfulness and despair. Therefore there shall be no rest to my bones or thine, unless we hear the word of grace, and cleave unto it steadfastly and faithfully. Then shall our conscience undoubtedly find grace and peace.

       The Apostle doth fitly distinguish this grace and peace from all other kinds of grace and peace whatsoever. He wisheth to the Galatians grace and peace, not from the emperor, or kings and princes: for these do commonly persecute the godly, and rise up against the Lord and Christ his anointed (Psalm 2:1); nor from the world (‘for in the world,’ saith Christ, ‘ye shall have trouble,’ John 14:33), but from God our Father etc., which is as much as to say, he wished unto them a heavenly peace. So Christ saith: ‘My peace I leave unto you: my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth it, do I give it unto you’ (John 14:27). The peace of the world granteth nothing but the peace of our goods and bodies. So the grace or favor of the world giveth us leave to enjoy our goods, and casteth us not out of our possessions. But in affliction and in the hour of death, the grace and favor of the world cannot help us, they cannot deliver us from affliction, despair and death. But when the grace and peace of God are in the heart, then is a man strong, so that he can neither be cast down with adversity, nor puffed up with prosperity, but walketh on plainly and keepeth the highway. For he taketh heart and courage in the victory of Christ’s death; and the confidence thereof beginneth to reign in his conscience over sin and death; because through him he hath assured forgiveness of his sins: which after he hath once obtained, his conscience is at rest, and by the word of grace is comforted. So then a man being comforted and heartened by the grace of God (that is, by forgiveness of sins and by this peace of conscience), is able valiantly to bear and overcome all troubles, yea even death itself. This peace of God is not given to the world, because the world never longeth after it nor understandeth it, but to them that believe. And this cometh to pass by no other mean, than by the only grace of God.

       A rule to be observed, that men ought to abstain from the curious searching of God’s majesty.

       But why doth the Apostle add moreover in this salutation: ‘And from our Lord Jesus Christ’? Was it not enough to say: ‘And from God our Father’?

       Why then doth he couple Jesus Christ with the Father? Ye have oftentimes heard of us, how it is a rule and principle in the Scriptures, diligently to be marked, that we must abstain from the curious searching of God’s majesty, which is intolerable to man’s body, and much more to his mind. ‘No man’ (saith the Lord) ‘shall see me and live’ (Exodus 33:20). The Pope, the Turks, the Jews, land all such as trust in their own merits, regard not this rule, and therefore removing the mediator Christ out of their sight, they speak only of God, and before him only they pray, and do all that they do.

       As for example, the monk imagineth thus: ‘These works which I do, please God, God will regard these my vows, and for them will save me.’ The Turk saith: ‘If I keep the things which are commanded in the Alcoran, God will accept me, and give me everlasting life.’ The Jew thinketh thus: ‘If I keep those things which the law commandeth, I shall find God merciful to me, and so shall I be saved.’ So also a sort of fond heads at this day, bragging of the spirit of revelations, of visions, and such other monstrous matters, I wot not what, do walk in wonders above their reaches. These new monks have invented a new cross and new works, and they dream that by doing them they please God. To be brief, as many as know not the article of justification, take away Christ the mercy seat, and will needs comprehend God in his majesty by the judgement of reason, and pacify him with their own works.

       But true Christian divinity (as I give you often warning) setteth not God forth unto us in his majesty, as Moses and other doctrines do. It commandeth us not to search out the nature of God: but to know his will set out to us in Christ, whom he would have to take our flesh upon him, to be born and to die for our sins, and that this should be preached among all nations. For seeing the world by wisdom knew not God in the wisdom of God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1 Corinthians 1:21 ff.). Wherefore, when thy conscience standeth in the conflict, wrestling against the law, sin and death in the presence of God, there is nothing more dangerous than to wander with curious speculations in heaven, and there to search out God in his incomprehensible power, wisdom and majesty, how he created the world, and how he governeth it. If thou seek thus to comprehend God, and wouldest pacify him without Christ the mediator, making thy works a means between him and thyself, it cannot be but that thou must fall as Lucifer did, and in horrible despair lose God and all together. For as God is in his own nature unmeasurable, incomprehensible, and infinite, so is he to man’s nature intolerable.

       Wherefore if thou wouldest be in safety, and out of peril of conscience and salvation, bridle this climbing and presumptuous spirit, and so seek God as Paul teacheth thee (1 Corinthians 1:21 ff.): ‘We (saith he) preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block unto the Jews, and foolishness unto the Grecians: but unto them which are called, both Jews and Grecians, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.’ Therefore begin thou there where Christ began, namely, in the womb of the Virgin, in the manger, and at his mother’s breasts, etc. For to this end he came down, was born, was conversant among men, suffered, was crucified and died, that by all means he might set forth himself plainly before our eyes, and fasten the eyes of our hearts upon himself, that he thereby might keep us from climbing up into heaven, and from the curious searching of the divine majesty.

       Whensoever thou hast to do therefore in the matter of justification, and disputest with thyself how God is to be found that justifieth or accepteth sinners: where and in what sort he is to be sought; then know thou that there is no other God besides this man Christ Jesus. Embrace him, and cleave to him with thy whole heart, setting aside all curious speculations of the divine majesty, for he that is a searcher of God’s majesty shall be overwhelmed of his glory. I know by experience what I say. But these vain spirits which so deal with God that they exclude the mediator, do not believe me. Christ himself saith: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh to the Father but by me’ (John 14:6). Therefore besides this way Christ, thou shalt find no other way to the Father, but wandering: no verity, but hypocrisy and lying: no life but eternal death. Wherefore mark this well in the matter of justification, that when any of us shall have to wrestle with the law, sin, death and all other evils, we must look upon no other God, but only this God incarnate and clothed with man’s nature.

       But out of the matter of justification, when thou must dispute with Jews, Turks, Papists, Heretics etc., concerning the power, wisdom and majesty of God, then employ all thy wit and industry to that end, and be as profound and as subtle a disputer as thou canst: for then thou art in another vein. But in the case of conscience, of righteousness and life (which I wish here diligently to be marked) against the law, sin, death and the devil, or in the matter of satisfaction, of remission of sins, of reconciliation, and of everlasting life, thou must withdraw thy mind wholly from all cogitations and searching of the majesty of God, and look only upon this man Jesus Christ, who setteth himself forth unto us to be a mediator, and saith: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you’ (Matthew 11:28). Thus doing, thou shalt perceive the love, goodness and sweetness of God thou shalt see his wisdom, power and majesty sweetened and tempered to thy capacity: yea, and thou shalt find in this mirror and pleasant contemplation, all things according to that saying of Paul to the Colossians: ‘In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,’ and: ‘For in him dwelleth the fullness of the godhead bodily’ (Colossians 2:3; 2:9). The world is ignorant of this, and therefore it searcheth out the will of God, setting aside the promise in Christ, to its own great peril. ‘For no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him’ (Matthew 11:27).

       And this is the cause why Paul is wont so often to couple Jesus Christ with God the Father, even to teach us what true Christian religion is, which beginneth not at the highest, as other religions do, but at the lowest. It will have us to climb up by Jacob’s ladder, whereupon God himself leaneth, whose feet touch the very earth, hard by the head of Jacob (Genesis 28;12). Wherefore, whensoever thou art occupied in the matter of thy salvation, setting aside all curious speculations of God’s unsearchable majesty, all cogitations of works, of traditions, of philosophy, yea and of God’s law too, run straight to the manger, and embrace this infant, and the Virgin’s little babe in thine arms, and behold him as he was born, sucking, growing up, conversant among men, teaching, dying, rising again, ascending up above all the heavens, and having power above all things. By this means shalt thou be able to shake off all terrors and errors, like as the sun driveth away the clouds. And this sight and contemplation will keep thee in the right way, that thou mayest follow whither Christ is gone.

       Therefore Paul, in wishing grace and peace not only from God the Father, but also from Jesus Christ, teacheth first, that we should abstain from curious searching of the divine majesty (for God no man knoweth) and to hear Christ, who is in the bosom of the Father, and uttereth to us his will, who also is appointed of the Father to be our teacher, to the end that we should all hear him.

 

 

CHRIST IS GOD BY NATURE

The other thing that Paul teacheth here, is a confirmation of our faith that Christ is very God. And such like sentences as this is, concerning the godhead of Christ, are to be gathered together and marked diligently, not only against the Arians and other heretics, which either have been or shall be hereafter, but also for the confirmation of our faith: for Satan will not fail to impugn in us all the articles of our faith ere we die. He is a most deadly enemy to faith, because he knoweth that it is the victory which overcometh the world (1 John 5:4). Wherefore it standeth us in hand to labor that our faith may be certain, and may increase and be strengthened by diligent and continual exercise of the Word and fervent prayer, that we may be able to withstand Satan.

       Now, that Christ is very God, it is manifestly declared, in that Paul attributeth the same things equally unto him which he doth unto the Father, namely, the giving of grace, the forgiveness of sins, peace of conscience, life, victory over sin, death, the devil and hell. This were by no means lawful for him to do, nay, it were sacrilege this to do, except Christ were very God, according to that saying: ‘I will not give my glory unto another’ (Isaiah 42:8). Again: no man giveth that to others which he himself hath not. But seeing Christ giveth grace, peace and the Holy Ghost, delivereth from the power of the devil, from sin and death, it is certain that he hath an infinite and divine power, equal in all points to the power of the Father.

       Neither doth Christ give grace and peace as the Apostles gave and brought the same unto men by preaching of the Gospel; but he giveth it as the Author and Creator. The Father createth and giveth life, grace, peace, and all other good things. The self-same things also the Son createth and giveth. Now, to give grace, peace, everlasting life, to forgive sins, to make righteous, to quicken, to deliver from death and the devil, are not the works of any creature, but of the Divine Majesty alone. The angels can neither create nor give these things; therefore these works pertain only to the glory of the sovereign Majesty, the Maker of all things: and seeing Paul doth attribute the self-same power of creating and giving all these things, unto Christ equally with the Father, it must needs follow that Christ is verily and naturally God.

       Many such arguments are in John, where it is proved and concluded by the works which are attributed to the Son as well as to the Father, that the divinity of the Father and of the Son is all one. Therefore the gifts which we receive of the Father, and which we receive of the Son, are all one. For else Paul would have spoken otherwise, after this manner: Grace from God the Father, and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ. But in knitting them both together, he attributeth them equally, as well to the Son as to the Father. I do therefore so diligently admonish you of this thing, because it is dangerous lest among so many errors, and in so great variety and confusion of sects, there might step up some Arians, Eunomians, Macedonians, and such other heretics, that might do harm to the churches with their subtilty.

       Indeed the Arians were sharp and subtle fellows. They granted that Christ hath two natures, and that he is called very God of very God, howbeit in name only. Christ (said they) is a most noble and perfect creature, above the angels, whereby God afterward created heaven and earth, and all other things. So Mahomet also speaketh honorably of Christ.’ But all this is nothing else but goodly imaginations, and words pleasant and plausible to man’s reason, whereby the fantastical spirits do deceive men, except they take good heed. But Paul speaketh otherwise of Christ. Ye (saith he) are rooted and established in this belief, namely, that Christ is not only a perfect creature, but very God, who doth the self-same things that God the Father doth. He hath the divine works not of a creature, but of the Creator, because he giveth grace and peace: and to give them is to condemn sin, to vanquish death, and to tread the devil under foot. These things no angel can give. But seeing they are attributed unto Christ, it must needs follow that he is very God by nature.

Which gave himself for our sins

Paul in a manner in every word handleth the argument of this Epistle. He hath nothing in his mouth but Christ; and therefore in every word there is a fervency of spirit and life. And mark how well and to the purpose he speaketh. He saith not: Which hath received our works at our hands, nor, which hath received the sacrifices of Moses’s law, worshippings, religions, masses, vows, and pilgrimages; but ‘hath given’ – What? Not gold, nor silver, nor beasts, nor paschal lambs, nor an angel, but ‘himself.’ For what?

       Not for a crown, not for a kingdom, not for our holiness or righteousness, but ‘for our sins.’ These words are very thunder-claps from heaven against all kinds of righteousness; like as is also this sentence of John: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.’ Therefore we must with diligent attention mark every word of Paul, and not slenderly consider them or lightly pass them over; for they are full of consolation, and confirm fearful consciences exceedingly.

       But how may we obtain remission of our sins? Paul answereth, that the man which is called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, hath given himself for them. These are excellent and comfortable words, and are promises of the old law, that our sins are taken away by none other mean, than by the Son of God delivered unto death. With such gunshot and such artillery must the Papacy be destroyed, and all the religions of the heathen, all works, all merits and superstitious ceremonies. For if our sins may be taken away by our own works, merits and satisfactions, what needed the Son of God to be given for them? But seeing he was given for them, it followeth that we cannot put them away by our own works.

       Again, by this sentence it is declared, that our sins are so great, so infinite and invincible, that it is impossible for the whole world to satisfy for one of them. And surely the greatness of the ransom (namely, Christ the Son of God, who gave himself for our sins) declareth sufficiently, that we can neither satisfy for sin nor have dominion over it. The force and power of sin is set forth and amplified exceedingly by these words: ‘Which gave himself for our sins.’ Therefore here is to be marked the infinite greatness of the price bestowed for it, and then it will appear evidently that the power of it is so great, that by no means it could be put away, but that the Son of God must needs be given for it. He that considereth these things well, understandeth that this one word ‘sin’ comprehendeth God’s everlasting wrath and the whole kingdom of Satan, and that it is a thing more horrible than can be expressed; which ought to move us and make us afraid indeed. But we are careless, yea we make light of sin, and a matter of nothing: which although it bring with it the sting and remorse of conscience, yet notwithstanding we think it not to be of such weight and force, but that by some little work or merit we may put it away.

       This sentence therefore witnesseth, that all men are servants and bondslaves to sin, and (as Paul saith in another place) are ‘sold under sin’ (Romans 7:14); and again, that sin is a most cruel and mighty tyrant over all men; which cannot be vanquished by the power of any creatures, whether they be angels or men, but only by the sovereign and infinite power of Jesus Christ, who hath given himself for the same.

       Furthermore, this sentence setteth out to the consciences of all men which are terrified with the greatness of their sins, a singular comfort. For, albeit sin be never so invincible a tyrant, yet notwithstanding, forasmuch as Christ hath overcome it through his death, it cannot hurt them that believe in him.

       Moreover, if we arm ourselves with this belief, and cleave with all our hearts unto this man Christ Jesus, then is there a light opened and a sound judgment given unto us, so as we may most certainly and freely judge of all kinds of life. For when we hear that sin is such an invincible tyrant, thus incontinent by a necessary consequence we infer: Then what do the Papists, monks, nuns, priests, Mahometists, Anabaptists, and all such as trust in their works, which will abolish and overcome sin by their own traditions, works preparative, satisfactions, etc.? Here forthwith we judge all those sects to be wicked and pernicious; whereby the glory of God and of Christ is not only defaced, but also utterly taken away, and our own advanced and established.

       But weigh diligently every word of Paul, and specially mark well this pronoun, ‘our’; for the effect altogether consisteth in the well applying of the pronouns, which we find very often in the Scriptures; wherein also there is ever some vehemency and power. Thou wilt easily say and believe that Christ the Son of God was given for the sins of Peter, of Paul, and of other saints, whom we account to have been worthy of this grace; but it is a very hard thing that thou which judgest thyself unworthy of this grace, shouldest from thy heart say and believe that Christ was given for thine invincible, infinite and horrible sins. Therefore generally and without the pronoun, it is an easy matter to magnify and amplify the benefit of Christ, namely, that Christ was given for sins, but for other men’s sins, which are worthy. But when it cometh to the putting to of this pronoun ‘our,’ there our weak nature and reason starteth back, and dare not come near unto God, nor promise to herself that so great a treasure shall be freely given unto her; and therefore she will not have to do with God, except first she be pure and without sin. Wherefore, although she read or hear this sentence: ‘Which gave himself for our sins,’ or such like, yet doth she not apply this pronoun ‘our’ unto herself, but unto others which are worthy and holy; and as for herself, she will tarry till she be made worthy by her own works.

       This then is nothing else, but that man’s reason fain would that sin were of no greater force and power than she herself dreameth it to be. Hereof it cometh that the hypocrites, being ignorant of Christ, although they feel the remorse of sin, do think notwithstanding that they shall be able easily to put it away by their good works and merits; and secretly in their hearts they wish that these words, ‘Which gave himself for our sins,’ were but as words spoken in humility, and would have their sins not to be true and very sins indeed, but light and small matters. To be short, man’s reason would fain bring and present unto God a reigned and counterfeit sinner, which is nothing afraid nor hath any feeling of sin. It would bring him that is whole, and not him that hath need of a physician; and when it feeleth no sin, then would it believe that Christ was given for our sins.

       The whole world is thus affected, and especially they that would be counted more holy and religious than others, as monks, and all justiciaries.

       These confess with their mouths that they are sinners, and they confess also that they commit sins daily, howbeit not so great and many, but that they are able to put them away by their own works: yea and besides all this, they will bring their righteousness and deserts to Christ’s judgment-seat, and demand the recompense of eternal life for them at the judge’s hand. In the meanwhile notwithstanding (as they pretend great humility), because they will not vaunt themselves to be utterly void of sin, they feign certain sins, that for the forgiveness thereof they may with great devotion pray with the publican: ‘God be merciful unto me a sinner’ (Luke 18:13). Unto them, these words of St. Paul, ‘for our sins,’ seem to be but light and trifling; therefore they neither understand them, nor in temptation, when they feel sin indeed, can they take any comfort of them, but are compelled flatly to despair.

       This is then the chief knowledge and true wisdom of Christians, to count these words of Paul, that Christ was delivered to death, not for our righteousness or holiness, but for our sins (which are very sins indeed, great, many, yea infinite and invincible), to be most true, effectual and of great importance. Therefore, think them not to be small, and such as may be done away by thine own works; neither yet despair thou for the greatness of them, if thou feel thyself oppressed therewith, either in life or death; but learn here of Paul to believe that Christ was given, not for feigned or counterfeit sins, nor yet for small sins, but for great and huge sins; not for one or two, but for all; not for vanquished sins (for no man, no nor angel, is able to overcome the least sin that is), but for invincible sins.

       And except thou be found in the number of those that say ‘our sins,’ that is, which have this doctrine of faith, and teach, hear, learn, love and believe the same, there is no salvation for thee.

       Labor therefore diligently, that not only out of the time of temptation, but also in the time and conflict of death, when thy conscience is thoroughly afraid with the remembrance of thy sins past, and the devil assaileth thee with great violence, going about to overwhelm thee with heaps, floods and whole seas of sins, to terrify thee, to draw thee from Christ, and to drive thee to despair; that then I say, thou mayest be able to say with sure confidence: Christ the Son of God was given, not for the righteous and holy, but for the unrighteous and sinners. If I were righteous and had no sin, I should have no need of Christ to be my reconciler. Why then, O thou peevish holy Satan, wilt thou make me to be holy and to seek righteousness in myself, when in very deed I have nothing in me but sins, and most grievous sins? Not feigned or trifling sins, but such as are against the first Table: to wit, great infidelity, doubting, despair, contempt of God, hatred, ignorance and blaspheming of God, unthankfulhess, abusing of God’s name, neglecting, loathing and despising the Word of God, and such like.

       And moreover, these carnal sins against the second Table: as not to yield honor to my parents, not to obey the magistrates, to covet another man’s goods, his wife, and such like; albeit that these be light faults in respect of those former sins. And admit that I have not committed murder, whoredom, theft and such other sins against the second Table, in fact; yet I have committed them in heart, and therefore I am a transgressor of all God’s commandments, and the multitude of my sins is so great that they cannot be numbered: ‘For I have sinned above the number of the sands of the sea’ (Prayer of Manasses, 9).

       Besides this, Satan is such a cunning juggler, that he can make of my righteousness and good works, great sins. For so much, then, as my sins are so weighty, so infinite, so horrible and invincible, and that my righteousness doth nothing further me, but rather hinder me before God: therefore Christ the Son of God was given to death for them, to put them away, and so save all men which believe. Herein therefore consisteth the effect of eternal salvation, namely, in taking these words to be effectual, true, and of great importance. I say not this for nought, for I have oftentimes proved by experience, and I still daily find, what an hard matter it is to believe (especially in the conflict of conscience) that Christ was given, not for the holy, righteous, worthy, and such as were his friends, but for the ungodly, for sinners, for the unworthy, and for his enemies, which have deserved God’s wrath and everlasting death.

       Let us therefore arm ourselves with these and such like sentences of the holy Scripture, that we may be able to answer the devil (accusing us, and saying: Thou art a sinner, and therefore thou art damned) in this sort:

       Because thou sayest I am a sinner, therefore will I be righteous and saved.

       Nay (saith the devil) thou shalt be damned. No (say I) for I fly unto Christ, who hath given himself for my sins; therefore, Satan, thou shalt not prevail against me in that thou goest about to terrify me in setting forth the greatness of my sins, and so to bring me into heaviness, distrust, despair, hatred, contempt and blaspheming of God. Yea rather, in that thou sayest I am a sinner, thou givest me armor and weapon against thyself, that with thine own sword I may cut thy throat, and tread thee under my feet: for Christ died for sinners. Moreover, thou thyself preachest unto me the glory of God; for thou puttest me in mind of God’s fatherly love towards me, wretched and damned sinner: ‘Who so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16). And as often as thou objectest that I am a sinner, so often thou callest me to remembrance of the benefit of Christ my Redeemer, upon whose shoulders, and not upon mine, lie all my sins; for ‘the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,’ and ‘for the transgressions of his people was he smitten,’ (Isaiah 53:6,8).

       Wherefore, when thou sayest I am a sinner, thou dost not terrify me, but comfort me above measure.

       Whoso knoweth this one point of cunning well, shall easily avoid all the engines and snares of the devil, who, by putting man in mind of his sin, driveth him to despair and destroyeth him, unless he withstand him with this cunning and with this heavenly wisdom, whereby alone sin, death and the devil are overcome. But the man that putteth not away the remembrance of his sin, but keepeth it still and tormenteth himself with his own cogitations, thinking either to help himself by his own strength, or to tarry the time till his conscience may be quieted, falleth into Satan’s snares and miserably afflicteth himself, and at length is overcome with the continuance of the temptation; for the devil will never cease to accuse his conscience.

       Against this temptation we must use these words of St. Paul, in the which he giveth a very good and true definition of Christ in this manner: Christ is the Son of God and of the Virgin, delivered and put to death for our sins.

       Here, if the devil allege any other definition of Christ, say thou: The definition and the thing defined are false; therefore I will not receive this definition. I speak not this without cause, for I know what moveth me to be so earnest that we should learn to define Christ out of the words of Paul. For indeed Christ is no cruel exactor, but a forgiver of the sins of the whole world. Wherefore if thou be a sinner (as indeed we are all) set not Christ down upon the rainbow as a judge, (for so shalt thou be terrified, and despair of his mercy), but take hold of his true definition, namely, that Christ the Son of God and of the Virgin is a person, not that terrifieth, not that afflicteth, not that condemneth us of sin, not that demandeth an account of us for our life evil passed; but that hath given himself for our sins, and with one oblation hath put away the sins of the whole world, hath fastened them upon the cross, and put them clean out by himself (Colossians 2:14).

       Learn this definition diligently, and especially so exercise this pronoun ‘our,’ that this one syllable being believed may swallow up all thy sins; that is to say, that thou mayest know assuredly, that Christ hath taken away the sins, not of certain men only, but also of thee, yea and of the whole world.

       Then let not thy sins be sins only, but even thy own sins indeed; that is to wit, believe thou that Christ was not only given for other men’s sins, but also for thine. Hold this fast and suffer not thyself by any means to be drawn away from this most sweet definition of Christ, which rejoiceth even the very angels in heaven that is to say, that Christ, according to the proper and true definition, is no Moses, no lawgiver, no tyrant, but a mediator for sins, a free giver of grace, righteousness, and life; who gave himself, not for our merits, holiness, righteousness and godly life, but for our sins.

       Indeed Christ doth interpret the law, but that is not his proper and principal office.

       These things, as touching the words, we know well enough and can talk of them. But in practice and in the conflict, when the devil goeth about to deface Christ, and to pluck the word of grace out of our hearts, we find that we do not yet know them well and as we should do. He that at that time could define Christ truly, and could magnify him and behold him as his most sweet Savior and High-priest, and not as a strait judge, this man had overcome all evils, and were already in the kingdom of heaven. But this to do in the conflict, is of all things the most hard. I speak this by experience.

       For I know the devil’s subtleties, who at that time not only goeth about to fear us with the terror of the law, yea and also of a little mote maketh many beams; that is to say, of that which is no sin he maketh a very hell (for he is marvellous crafty both in aggravating sin and in puffing up the conscience even in good works), but also is wont to fear us with the very person of the mediator; into the which he transformeth himself and, laying before us some place of Scripture or saying of Christ, suddenly he striketh our hearts, and sheweth himself unto us in such sort as if he were Christ indeed, leaving us sticking so fast in that cogitation, that our conscience would swear it were the same Christ whose saying he alleged. Moreover, such is the subtlety of the enemy, that he will not set before us Christ entirely and wholly, but a piece of Christ only, namely, that he is the Son of God, and man born of the Virgin. And by and by he patcheth thereto some other thing, that is to say, some saying of Christ, wherewith he terrifieth the impenitent sinners, such as that is the thirteenth of Luke: ‘Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.’ And so, corrupting the true definition of Christ with his poison, he bringeth to pass that albeit we believe Christ to be the mediator, yet in very deed our troubled conscience feeleth and judgeth him to be a tyrant and a judge. Thus we being deceived by Satan, do easily lose that sweet sight of our High-priest and Savior Christ; which being once lost, we shun him no less than the devil himself.

       And this is the cause why I do so earnestly call upon you to learn the true and proper definition of Christ out of these words of Paul: ‘which gave himself for our sins.’ If he gave himself to death for our sins, then undoubtedly he is no tyrant or judge which will condemn us for our sins.

       He is no caster-down of the afflicted, but a raiser-up of those that are fallen, a merciful reliever and comforter of the heavy and broken-hearted.

       Else should Paul lie in saying: ‘which gave himself for our sins.’ If I define Christ thus, I define him rightly, and take hold of the true Christ, and possess him indeed. And here I let pass all curious speculations touching the divine majesty, and stay myself in the humanity of Christ, and possess him indeed. And here I let pass all curious speculations touching the divine majesty, and stay myself in the humanity of Christ, and so I learn truly to know the will of God. Here is then no fear, but altogether sweetness, joy, peace of conscience, and such like. And herewithal there is a light opened, which sheweth me the true knowledge of God, of myself, of all creatures, and of all the iniquity of the devil’s kingdom. We teach no new thing, but we repeat and establish old things, which the apostles and all godly teachers have taught before us. And would to God we could so teach and establish them, that we might not only have them in our mouth, but also well-grounded in the bottom of our heart, and especially that we might be able to use them in the agony and conflict of death.

That he might deliver us from this present evil world

In these words also Paul effectually handleth the argument of this Epistle.

       He calleth this whole world, which hath been, is, and shall be, the present world, to put a difference between this and the everlasting world to come.

       Moreover, he calleth it evil, because that whatsoever is in this world, is subject to the malice of the devil reigning over the whole world. For this cause the world is the kingdom of the devil. For there is in it nothing but ignorance, contempt, blasphemy, hatred of God, and disobedience against all the words and works of God. In and under this kingdom of the world are we.

       Here again you see that no man is able by his own works or his own power to put away sins, because this present world is evil and (as St. John saith) ‘lieth in the evil One’ (1 John 5:19). As many therefore as are in the world, are the captive members of the devil, constrained to serve him and do all things at his pleasure. What availed it then, to set up so many orders of religion for the abolishing of sins; to devise so many great and most painful works, as to wear shirts of hair, to beat the body with whips till the blood flowed, to go on pilgrimage to St. James in harness, and such other like? Be it so that thou doest all these things, yet notwithstanding this is true, that thou art in this present evil world, and not in the kingdom of Christ. And if thou be not in the kingdom of Christ, it is certain that thou belongest to the kingdom of Satan, which is this evil world. Therefore all the gifts, either of the body or of the mind, which thou enjoyest, as wisdom, righteousness, holiness, eloquence, power, beauty, and riches, are but the slavish instruments of the devil, and with all these thou art compelled to serve him, and to advance his kingdom.

       First, with thy wisdom thou darkenest the wisdom and knowledge of Christ, and by thy wicked doctrine leadest men out of the way, that they cannot come to the grace and knowledge of Christ. Thou settest out and preachest thine own righteousness and holiness; but the righteousness of Christ, by which only we are justified and quickened, thou dost hate and condemn as wicked and devilish. To be brief, by thy power thou destroyest the kingdom of Christ, and abusest the same to root out the Gospel, to persecute and kill the ministers of Christ and so many as hear them.

       Wherefore, if thou be without Christ, this thy wisdom is double foolishness, thy righteousness double sin and impiety, because it knoweth not the wisdom and righteousness of Christ: moreover, it darkeneth, hindereth, blasphemeth, and persecuteth the same. Therefore Paul doth rightly call it the evil or wicked world; for when it is at the best, then is it worst. In the religious, wise, and learned men, the world is at the best, and yet in very deed in them it is double evil. I overpass those gross vices which are against the second Table, as disobedience to parents, to magistrates, adulteries, whoredoms, covetousness, thefts, murders, and maliciousness, wherein the world is altogether drowned, which notwithstanding are light faults, if ye compare them with the wisdom and righteousness of the wicked, whereby they fight against the first Table.

       This white devil, which forceth men to commit spiritual sins that cry themselves up for righteousness, is far more dangerous than the black devil, which only enforceth them to commit fleshly sins, which even the world acknowledgeth to be sins.

       By these words then, ‘That he might deliver us’ etc., Paul sheweth what is the argument of this Epistle: to wit, that we have need of grace and of Christ, and that no creature, neither man nor angel, can deliver man out of this present evil world. For these are works belonging only to the divine majesty, and are not in the power of any, either man or angel: namely, that Christ hath put away sin, and hath delivered us from the tyranny and kingdom of the devil; that is to say, from this wicked world, which is an obedient servant and a willing follower of the devil his God. Whatsoever the murderer and father of lies either doth or speaketh, that the world, as his most loyal and obedient son, diligently followeth and performeth. And therefore it is full of the ignorance of God, of hatred, lying, errors, blasphemy, and of the contempt of God; moreover, of gross sins, as murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, robberies, and such like, because he followeth his father the devil, who is a liar and a murderer. And the more wise, righteous, and holy that men are without Christ, so much the more hurt they do to the Gospel. So we also, that were religious men, were double wicked in the papacy, before God did lighten us with the knowledge of his Gospel, and yet notwithstanding under the color of true piety and holiness.

       Let these words then of Paul remain as they are indeed, true and effectual, not colored or counterfeit, namely, that this present world is evil. Let it nothing at all move thee, that in a great number of men there be many excellent virtues, and that there is so great a shew of holiness in hypocrites.

       But mark thou rather what Paul saith, out of whose words thou mayest boldly and freely pronounce this sentence against the world, that the world with all his wisdom, power and righteousness, is the kingdom of the devil; out of the which God alone is able to deliver us by his only begotten Son.

       Therefore let us praise God the Father, and give him hearty thanks for this his unmeasurable mercy, that hath delivered us out of the kingdom of the devil (in the which we were holden captives) by his own Son, when it was impossible to be done by our own strength. And let us acknowledge together with Paul, that all our works and righteousness (with all which, we could not make the devil to stoop one hair’s breadth) are but loss and dung (Philippians 3:8). Also let us cast under our feet and utterly abhor all the power of free-will, all pharisaical wisdom and righteousness, all religious orders, all masses, ceremonies, vows, fastings, and such like, as a most filthy defiled cloth (Isaiah 64:6) and as the most dangerous poison of the devil. Contrariwise, let us extol and magnify the glory of Christ, who hath delivered us by his death, not from this world only, but from this evil world.

       Paul then by this word ‘evil,’ sheweth that the kingdom of the world, or the devil’s kingdom, is the kingdom of iniquity, ignorance, error, sin, death, blasphemy, desperation and everlasting damnation. On the other side, the kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of equity, light, grace, remission of sins, peace, consolation, saving health, and everlasting life, into the which we are translated (Colossians 1:13) by our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory world without end. Amen.

According to the will of God and our father

Here Paul so placeth and ordereth every word, that there is not one of them but it fighteth against those false apostles for the article of justification. Christ (saith he) hath delivered us from this wicked kingdom of the devil and the world; and this hath he done according to the will, good pleasure, and commandment of the Father. Wherefore we be not delivered by our own will or cunning (Romans 9:16), nor by our own wisdom or policy, but for that God hath taken mercy upon us, and hath loved us; like as it is written also in another place: ‘Herein hath appeared the great love of God towards us, not that we have loved God, but that he hath loved us, and hath sent his only begotten Son to be a reconciliation for our sins’ (1 John 4:10). That we are then delivered from this present evil world, it is of mere grace, and no desert of ours. Paul is so plentiful and so vehement in amplifying and extolling the grace of God, that he sharpeneth and directeth every word against the false apostles.

       There is also another cause why Paul here maketh mention of the Father’s will, which also in many places of St. John’s gospel is declared, where Christ, commending his office, calleth us back to his Father’s will, that in his words and works we should not so much look upon him, as upon the Father. For Christ came into the world and took man’s nature upon him, that he might be made a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, and so reconcile us to God the Father; and that he alone might declare unto us how that this was done through the good pleasure of his Father, that we, by fastening our eyes upon Christ, might be drawn and carried straight unto the Father.

       For we must not think (as before we have warned you) that by the curious searching of the majesty of God, any thing concerning God can be known to our salvation, but by taking hold of Christ, who according to the will of the Father hath given himself to death for our sins. When thou shalt acknowledge this to be the will of God through Christ, then wrath ceaseth, fear and trembling vanisheth away, neither doth God appear any other than merciful, who by his determinate counsel would that his Son should die for us, that we might live through him. This knowledge maketh the heart cheerful, so that it steadfastly believeth that God is not angry, but that he so loveth us poor and wretched sinners, that he gave his only begotten Son for us. It is not for nought, therefore, that Paul doth so often repeat and beat into our minds, that Christ was given for our sins, and that by the good will of the Father. On the contrary part, the curious searching of the majesty of God, and his dreadful judgments, namely, how he destroyed the whole world with the flood, how he destroyed Sodom, and such other things, are very dangerous, for they bring men to desperation, and cast them down headlong into utter destruction, as I have shewed before.

Of God and our father

This word ‘our’ must be referred to both, that the meaning may be this: ‘of our God and of our Father.’ Then is Christ’s Father and our Father all one.

       So in the twentieth of John, Christ saith to Mary Magdalene: ‘Go to my brethren, and say unto them: I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and to your God.’ Therefore God is our Father and our God, but through Christ. And this is an apostolic manner of speech, and even Paul’s own phrase, who indeed speaketh not with such picked and gay words, but yet very fit and to the purpose, and full of burning zeal.

To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen

The Hebrews are wont in their writings to intermingle praise and giving of thanks. This custom the Hebrews and the Apostles themselves do observe.

       Which thing may be very often seen in Paul. For the name of the Lord ought to be had in great reverence, and never to be named without praise and thanksgiving. And thus to do, is a certain kind of worship and service to God. So in worldly matters, when we mention the names of kings or princes, we are wont to do it with some comely gesture, reverence, and bowing of the knee: much more ought we when we speak of God, to bow the knee of our heart, and to name the name of God with thankfulness and great reverence.

I marvel

Ye see here how Paul handleth his Galatians, which were fallen away and seduced by the false apostles. He doth not at the first set upon them with vehement and rigorous words, but after a very fatherly sort, not only patiently bearing their fall, but also in a manner excusing the same.

       Furthermore, he sheweth towards them a motherly affection, and speaketh them very fair, and yet in such sort, that he reproveth them notwithstanding: howbeit with very fit words and wisely framed to the purpose. Contrariwise he is very hot and full of indignation against those false apostles their seducers, upon whom he layeth the whole fault: and therefore forthwith, even in the entrance of his Epistle, he bursteth out into plain thunderings and lightnings against them. ‘If any man’ (saith he) ‘preach any other Gospel than that ye have received, let him be accursed’ (Galatians 1:9). And afterwards in the fifth chapter, he threatened damnation unto them: ‘Whoso troubleth you shall bear his condemnation, whatsoever he be’ (Galatians 5:10 ff.). Moreover, he curseth them with horrible words, saying: ‘Would to God they were cut off which trouble you.’ These are dreadful thunderclaps against the righteousness of the flesh or of the law.

       He might have handled the Galatians more uncourteously, and have inveighed against them more roughly after this manner: Out upon this backsliding, I am ashamed of you, your unthankfulness grieveth me, I am angry with you; or else thus tragically have cried out against them: O ungracious world, O wicked dealings, etc.! But forasmuch as his purpose is to raise up them that were fallen, and with a fatherly care to call them back again from their error to the purity of the Gospel, he leaveth those rough and sharp words, especially in the first entrance, and most gently and mildly he speaketh unto them. For, seeing he went about to heal them that were wounded, it was not meet that he should now further vex their green wound by laying to it a sharp and a fretting plaster, and so rather hurt the wounded than heal them. Therefore, of all the sweetest and mildest words, he could not have chosen any one more fit than this: ‘I marvel’; whereby he signifieth both that it grieved him and also displeased him, that they had fallen away from him.

       And here Paul is mindful of his own rule, which he giveth hereafter in the sixth chapter, where he saith: ‘Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one with the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.’ This example must we also follow, that we may shew ourselves to bear like affection toward such as are misled, as parents bear towards their children, that they may perceive our fatherly and motherly affection towards them, and may see that we seek not their destruction, but their welfare. But as for the devil and his ministers, the authors of false doctrine and sects, against them we ought, by the example of the Apostle, to be impatient, proud, sharp and bitter, detesting and condemning their false jugglings and deceits with as much rigor and severity as may be. So parents, when their child is hurt with the biting of a dog, are wont to pursue the dog only, but the weeping child they bemoan and speak fair unto it, comforting it with the most sweet words.

       The Spirit therefore that is in Paul, is wonderful cunning in handling the afflicted consciences of such as are fallen. Contrariwise, the Pope breaketh out violently like a tyrant, and rappeth out his thunder-cracks and cursings against the miserable and terrified in conscience: which thing may be seen in his bulls, and especially in that bull touching the Lord’s Supper. The bishops also do their duty never a whit better. They teach not the Gospel, they are not careful for the saving of men’s souls, but only they seek lordship and sovereignty over them, and therefore their speakings and doings are altogether to maintain and support the same. In like manner are all the vain-glorious doctors and teachers affected.

That so soon

Ye see how Paul complaineth, that to fall in faith is an easy matter. In respect whereof, he warneth Christians in another place, that he which standeth, should take heed that he fall not (1 Corinthians 10:12). We also do daily prove by experience, how hardly the mind conceiveth and retaineth a sound and steadfast faith; also with what great difficulty a perfect people is gotten to the Lord. A man may labor half a score years ere he shall get some little church to be rightly and religiously ordered; and when it is so ordered, there creepeth in some mad brain, yea and a very unlearned idiot, which can do nothing else but speak slanderously and spitefully against sincere preachers of the Word, and he in one moment overthroweth all. Whom would not this wicked and outrageous dealing move?

       We by the grace of God have gotten here at Wittenberg the form of a Christian church. The Word among us is purely taught, the sacraments are rightly used, exhortations and prayers are made also for all estates, and to be brief, all things go forward prosperously. This most happy course of the Gospel some mad head would soon stop, and in one moment would overturn all that we in many years with great labor have builded. Even so it befell to Paul, the elect vessel of Christ. He had won the churches of Galatia with great care and travail, which the false apostles in a short time after his departure overthrew, as this and diverse other of his epistles do witness. So great is the weakness and wretchedness of this present life, and so walk we in the midst of Satan’s snares, that one fantastical head may destroy and utterly overthrow in a short space, all that which many true ministers, laboring night and day, have builded up many years before. This we learn at this day by experience to our great grief, and yet we cannot remedy this enormity.

       Seeing then that the Church is so soft and so tender a thing, and is so soon overthrown, men must watch cheerfully against these fantastical spirits; who, when they have heard two sermons, or have read a few leaves in the Holy Scriptures, by and by they make themselves masters and controllers of all learners and teachers, contrary to the authority of all men. Many such also thou mayest find at this day among handy-crafts men, bold and malapert fellows, who, because they have been tried by no temptations, did never learn to fear God, nor had any taste or feeling of grace. These, for that they are void of the Holy Ghost, teach what liketh themselves best, and such things as are plausible and pleasant to the common people. Then the unskilful multitude, longing to hear news, do by and by join themselves unto them. Yea, and many also which think themselves well seen in the doctrine of faith, and after a sort have been tried with temptations, are seduced by them.

       Since that Paul therefore by his own experience may teach us, that congregations which are won by great labor, are easily and soon overthrown, we ought with singular care to watch against the devil ranging everywhere, lest he come while we sleep, and sow tares among the wheat.

       For though the shepherds be never so watchful and diligent, yet is the Christian flock in danger of Satan. For Paul (as I said) with singular study and diligence had planted churches in Galatia, and yet he had scarcely set his foot (as they say) out of the door, but by and by the false apostles overthrew some, whose fall afterward was the cause of great ruin in the churches of Galatia. This so sudden and so great a loss, no doubt, was more bitter unto the Apostle than death itself. Therefore let us watch diligently, first every one for himself, secondly all teachers, not only for themselves, but also for the whole Church, that we enter not into temptation.

Ye are removed away

Here once again he useth not a sharp, but a most gentle word. ‘He saith not I marvel that ye so suddenly fall away, that ye are so disobedient, light, inconstant, unthankful; but, that ye are so soon removed. As if he should say: Ye are altogether patients or sufferers; for ye have done no harm, but ye have suffered and received harm. To the intent therefore, that he might call back again those backsliders, he rather accuseth those that did remove, than those that were removed; and yet very modestly he blameth them also, when he complaineth that they were removed. As if he would say: Albeit I embrace you with a fatherly affection, and know that ye are fallen, not by your own default, but by the default of the false apostles; yet notwithstanding, I would have wished that ye had been grown up a little more in the strength of sound doctrine. Ye took not hold enough upon the Word, ye rooted not yourselves deep enough in it, and that is the cause that with so light a blast of wind ye are carried and removed.

       Jerome thinketh that Paul meant to interpret this word ‘Galatians’ by alluding to the Hebrew word Calath, which is as much to say, as ‘fallen or carried away.’ As though he would say: Ye are right Galatians, both in name and in deed; that is to say, fallen or removed away. Some think that the Germans are descended of the Galatians, neither is this divination perhaps untrue. For the Germans are not much unlike to them in nature.

       And I myself also am constrained to wish to my countrymen more steadfastness and constancy; for in all things we do, at the first brunt we be very hot but when the heat of our affections is allayed, anon we become more slack, and with what rashness we begin things, with the same we give them over and utterly reject them.

       At the first when the light of the Gospel, after so great darkness of men’s traditions, began to appear, many were zealously turned to godliness: they heard sermons greedily, and had the ministers of God’s Word in reverence.

       But now, when religion is happily reformed with so great increase of God’s Word, many which before seemed to be earnest disciples, are become contemners and very enemies thereof. Who not only cast off the study and zeal of God’s Word, and despise the ministers thereof, but also hate all good learning, and become plain hogs and belly-gods, worthy (doubtless) to be compared unto the foolish and inconstant Galatians.

From him that hath called you in the grace of Christ

This place is somewhat doubtful, and therefore it hath a double understanding. The first is: From that Christ that hath called you in grace.

       The other is: From him (that is to say, from God) which hath called you in the grace of Christ. I embrace the former. For it liketh me, that even as Paul a little before made Christ the Redeemer, who by his death delivereth us from this present evil world, and also the Giver of grace and peace equally with God the Father; so he should make him here also the Caller in grace: for Paul’s special purpose is, to beat into our minds the benefit of Christ, by whom we come unto the Father.

       There is also in these words – ‘from him that hath called you in grace’ – a great vehemency; wherein is contained withal a contrary relation, as if he should say: Alas how lightly do you suffer yourselves to be withdrawn and removed from Christ, which hath called you, not as Moses did, to the law, works, sin, wrath and damnation, but altogether to grace! So we also complain at this day with Paul, that the blindness and perverseness of men is horrible, in that none will receive the doctrine of grace and salvation. Or if there be any that receive it, yet they quickly slide back again and fall from it; whereas notwithstanding, it bringeth with it all good things, as well ghostly as bodily, namely, forgiveness of sins, true righteousness, peace of conscience, and everlasting life. Moreover it bringeth light, and sound judgment of all kinds of doctrine and trades of life; it approveth and – establisheth civil government, household government, and all kinds of life that are ordained and appointed of God; it rooteth up all doctrines of error, sedition, confusion, and such like; it putteth away the fear of sin and death; and to be short, it discovereth all the subtle sleights and works of the devil, and openeth the benefits and love of God towards us in Christ. What (with a mischief) means the world to hate this Word, this glad tidings of everlasting comfort, grace, salvation and eternal life, so bitterly, and to persecute it with such hellish outrage?

       Paul before called this present world evil and wicked, that is to say, the devil’s kingdom; for else it would acknowledge the benefit and mercy of God. But forasmuch as it is under the power of the devil, therefore doth it most spitefully hate and persecute the same; loving darkness, errors, and the kingdom of the devil, more than the light, the truth, and the kingdom of Christ (John 3:19). And thus it doth not through ignorance or error, but through the malice of the devil; which thing hereby may sufficiently appear, in that Christ the Son of God, by giving himself to death for the sins of all men, hath thereby gained nothing else of this perverse and damnable world, but that for this his inestimable benefit, it blasphemeth him and persecuteth his most healthful Word, and fain would yet still nail him to the cross if it could; therefore, not only the world dwelleth in darkness, but it is darkness itself, as it is written in the first of John.

       Paul therefore standeth much upon these words ‘From Christ who hath called you’; as though he would say: My preaching was not of the hard laws of Moses, neither taught I that ye should be bond-slaves under the yoke; but I preached mere grace and freedom from the law, sin, etc., that is to say, that Christ hath mercifully called you in grace, that ye should be freemen under Christ, and not bondmen under Moses, whose disciples ye are now become again by the means of your false apostles, who by the law of Moses called you not unto grace, but unto wrath, to the hating of God, to sin and death. But Christ’s calling bringeth grace and saving health; for they that be called by him, instead of the law that worketh sorrow, do gain the glad tidings of the Gospel, and are translated out of God’s wrath into his favor, out of sin into righteousness, and out of death into life. And will you suffer yourselves to be carried, yea and that so soon and so easily, another way, from such a living fountain, full of grace and life? Now, if Moses by the law of God call men to God’s wrath and to sin, whither shall the Pope call men by his own traditions? The other sense, that the Father calleth in the grace of Christ, is also good; but the former sense concerning Christ serveth more fitly for the comforting of afflicted consciences.

Unto another Gospel

Here we may learn to espy the crafty sleights and subtleties of the devil. No heretic cometh under the title of errors and of the devil, neither doth the devil himself come as a devil in his own likeness, especially that white devil which we spake of before. Yea, even the black devil, which forceth men to manifest wickedness, maketh a cloak for them to cover that sin which they commit or purpose to commit. The murderer, in his rage, seeth not that murder is so great and horrible a sin as it is indeed, for that he hath a cloak to cover the same. Whoremongers, thieves, covetous persons, drunkards, and such other, have wherewith to flatter themselves and cover their sins.

       So the black devil also cometh out disguised and counterfeit in all his works and devices. But in spiritual matters, where Satan cometh forth not black, but white, an the likeness of an angel, or of God himself, there he passeth himself with most crafty dissimulation and wonderful sleights, and is wont to set forth to sale his most deadly poison for the doctrine of grace, for the Word of God, for the Gospel of Christ. For this cause, Paul calleth the doctrine of the false apostles, Satan’s ministers, a gospel also, saying: ‘Unto another gospel’; but in derision, as though he would say: Ye Galatians have now other evangelists and another gospel; my Gospel is now despised of you; it is now no more an estimation among you.

       Hereby it may easily be gathered, that these false apostles had condemned the Gospel of Paul among the Galatians, saying Paul indeed hath begun well, but to have begun well is not enough, for there remain yet many higher matters; like as they say in the fifteenth chapter of the Acts: It is not enough for you to believe in Christ, or to be baptized, but it behooveth also that ye be circumcised; ‘for except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.’ This is as much to say, as that Christ is a good workman, which hath indeed begun a building, but he hath not finished it; for this must Moses do.

       So at this day, when the fantastical spirits, Anabaptists and others cannot manifestly condemn us, they say: These Lutherans have the spirit of fearfulness, they dare not frankly and freely profess the truth, and go through with it. Indeed they have laid a foundation, that is to say, they have well taught faith in Christ; but the beginning, the middle and the end must be joined together. To bring this to pass, God hath not given unto them, but hath left it unto us. So these perverse and devilish spirits extol and magnify their cursed doctrine, calling it the Word of God, and so under the color of God’s name they deceive many. For the devil will not be ugly and black in his ministers, but fair and white; and to the end he may appear to be such a one, he setteth forth and decketh all his words and works with the color of truth, and with the name of God. Hereof is sprung that common proverb among the Germans: ‘In God’s name beginneth all mischief.’

       Wherefore let us learn that this is a special point of the devil’s cunning, that if he cannot hurt by persecuting and destroying, he doth it under a color of correcting and building up. So nowadays he persecuteth us with power and sword, that when we are once taken away and dispatched, he may not only deface the Gospel, but utterly overthrow it. But hitherto he hath prevailed nothing, for he hath slain many who have constantly confessed this our doctrine to be holy and heavenly, through whose blood the Church is not destroyed, but watered. Forasmuch, therefore, as he could prevail nothing that way, he stirreth up wicked spirits and ungodly teachers, which at the first allow our doctrine, and teach the same with a common consent together with us; yet afterwards they say that it is our vocation to teach the first principles of Christian doctrine, but that the true mysteries of the Scriptures are revealed unto them from above, by God himself; and that they are called for this purpose, that they should open them to the world.

       After this manner doth the devil hinder the course of the Gospel, both on the right hand and on the left, but more on the right hand (as I said before) by building and correcting, than on the left by persecuting and destroying; wherefore, it behooveth us to pray without ceasing, to read the Holy Scriptures, to cleave fast unto Christ and his holy Word, that we may overcome the devil’s subtleties, with the which he assaileth us both on the fight hand and on the left. ‘For we wrestle not again flesh and blood, etc.’ (Ephesians 6:12).

Which is not another Gospel, but that there be some which trouble you

Here again he excuseth the Galatians, and most bitterly reproveth the false apostles, as though he would say: Ye Galatians are borne in hand, that the Gospel which ye have received of me, is not the true and sincere Gospel, and therefore ye think ye do well to receive that new gospel which the false apostles teach, and seemeth to be better than mine. I do not so much charge you with this fault, as those disturbers which trouble your consciences and pull you out of my hand. Here you see again how vehement and hot he is against those deceivers, and with what rough and sharp words he painteth them out, calling them troublers of the churches, which do nothing else but seduce and deceive innumerable poor consciences, giving occasions of horrible mischiefs and calamities in the congregations. This great enormity we also at this day are constrained to see, to the great grief of our hearts, and yet are we no more able to remedy it than Paul was at that time. This place witnesseth, that those false apostles had reported Paul to be an imperfect apostle, and also a weak and erroneous preacher; therefore he again here calleth them the troublers of the churches, and overthrowers of the Gospel of Christ. Thus they condemned each other. The false apostles condemned Paul, and Paul again the false apostles. The like contending and condemning is always in the Church, especially when the doctrine of the Gospel flourisheth; to wit, that wicked teachers do persecute, condemn and oppress the godly; and on the other side, that the godly do reprove and condemn the ungodly.

       The Papists and the fantastical spirits do at this day hate us deadly, and condemn our doctrine as wicked and erroneous; yea moreover, they lie in wait for our goods and lives: and we again do with a perfect hatred detest and condemn their cursed and blasphemous doctrine. In the meantime, the miserable people are at no stay, wavering hither and thither, as uncertain and doubtful to which part they may lean, or whom they may safely follow; for it is not given to every one to judge Christianly of such weighty matters. But the end will shew which part teacheth truly, and justly condemneth the other. Sure it is that we persecute no man, oppress no man, put no man to death, neither doth our doctrine trouble men’s consciences, but delivereth them out of innumerable errors and snares of the devil. For the truth hereof, we have the testimony of many good men who give thanks unto God, for that by our doctrine they have received certain and sure consolation to their consciences. Wherefore, like as Paul at that time was not to be blamed that the churches were troubled, but the false apostles, so at this day it is not our fault, but the fault of the Anabaptists, Sacramentarians and other frantic spirits that many and great troubles are in the Church.

       Mark here diligently, that every teacher of works and of the righteousness of the law, is a troubler of the Church and of the consciences of men. And who would ever have believed that the Pope, cardinals, bishops, monks, and that whole synagogue of Satan, specially the founders of those religious orders (of which number, nevertheless, God might save some by miracle) were troublers of men’s consciences? Yea, verily, they be yet far worse than were those false apostles; for the false apostles taught, that besides faith in Christ, the works of the law of God were also necessary to salvation; but the Papists, omitting faith, have taught men’s traditions and works not commanded of God, but devised by themselves without and against the Word of God: and these have they not only made equal with the Word of God, but also exalted them far above it. But the more holy the heretics seem to be in outward shew, so much the more mischief they do; for if the false apostles had not been endued with notable gifts, with great authority, and a shew of holiness, and had not vaunted themselves to be Christ’s ministers, the apostles, disciples, and sincere preachers of the Gospel, they could not so easily have defaced Paul’s authority, and led the Galatians out of the way.

       Now, the cause why he setteth himself so sharply against them, calling them the troublers of the churches, is for that besides faith in Christ, they taught that circumcision and keeping of the law was necessary to salvation.

       The which thing Paul himself witnesseth in the fifth chapter following; and Luke in Acts 15 declareth the same thing in these words: ‘That certain men coming down from Judaea, taught the brethren, saying, Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved.’ Wherefore the false apostles most earnestly and obstinately contended that the law ought to be observed; unto whom the stiff-necked Jews forthwith joined themselves, and so afterwards easily persuaded such as were not established in the faith, that Paul was not a sincere teacher, because he regarded not the law. For it seemed unto them a very strange thing, that the law of God should utterly be taken away, and the Jews, which had always until that time been counted the people of God, to whom also the promises were made, should now be rejected. Yea, it seemed yet a more strange thing unto them, that the Gentiles, being wicked idolators, should attain to this glory and dignity, to be the people of God, without circumcision and without the works of the law, by grace only and faith in Christ.

       These things had the false apostles amplified and set forth to the uttermost, that they might bring Paul into more hatred among the Galatians. And to the end that they might set them the more sharply against him, they said that he preached unto the Gentiles freedom from the law, to bring into contempt, yea and utterly to abolish, the law of God and the whole kingdom of the Jews, contrary to the law of God, contrary to the custom of the Jewish nation, contrary to the example of the Apostles, and to be short, contrary to his own example: wherefore, he was to be shunned as an open blasphemer against God, and a rebel against the whole commonweal of the Jews; saying that they themselves ought rather to be heard, who, besides that they preached the Gospel rightly, were also the very disciples of the Apostles, with whom Paul was never conversant. By this policy they defamed and defaced Paul among the Galatians, so that by this their perverse dealing, of very necessity Paul was compelled with all his might to set himself against these false apostles, whom he boldly reproveth and condemneth, saying that they are the troublers of the churches and overthrowers of Christ’s Gospel, as followeth.

And intend to pervert the Gospel of Christ

That is to say, they do not only go about to trouble you, but also utterly to abolish and overthrow Christ’s Gospel. For these two things the devil practiceth most busily: first, he is not contented to trouble and deceive many by his ungodly apostles, but moreover he laboreth by them utterly to overthrow the Gospel, and never resteth till he hath brought it to pass. Yet such perveters of the Gospel can abide nothing less than to hear that they are the apostles of the devil; nay, rather they glory above others in the name of Christ, and boast themselves to be the most sincere preachers of the Gospel. But because they mingle the law with the Gospel, they must needs be perverters of the Gospel. For either Christ must remain, and the law perish, or the law must remain, and Christ perish; for Christ and the law can by no means agree and reign together in the conscience. Where the righteousness of the law ruleth, there cannot the righteousness of grace rule; and again, where the righteousness of grace reigneth, there cannot the righteousness of the law reign; for one of them must needs give place unto the other. And if thou canst not believe that God will forgive thy sins for Christ’s sake, whom he sent into the world to be our high priest; how then, pray thee, wilt thou believe that he will forgive the same for the works of the law, which thou couldest never perform, or for thine own works, which (as thou must be constrained to confess) be such, as it is impossible for them to countervail the judgment of God? Wherefore, the doctrine of grace can by no means stand with the doctrine of the law. The one must simply be refused and abolished, and the other confirmed or established. But even as the Jews were averse from this doctrine of faith and grace, so are we also averse from it. I myself would willingly keep both the one and the other: to wit, the righteousness of grace as that which justifieth, and the righteousness of the law as that for which God should have respect unto me. But as Paul saith here, to mingle the one with the other is to overthrow the Gospel of Christ. And yet, if it come to debating, the greater part overcometh the better. For Christ with his side is weak, and the Gospel but a foolish preaching. Contrariwise, the kingdom of the world, and the devil the prince thereof, are strong. Besides that, the wisdom and righteousness of the flesh carry a goodly shew. And by this means, the righteousness of grace and faith is lost, and the other righteousness of the law and works advanced and maintained. But this is our comfort, that the devil with all his limbs cannot do what he would. He may trouble many, but he cannot overthrow Christ’s Gospel. The truth may be endangered, but it cannot perish; assailed it is, but vanquished it cannot be; for ‘the Word of the Lord endureth for ever’ (1 Peter 1:25).

       It seemeth to be a light matter to mingle the law and the Gospel, faith and works, together; but it doth more mischief than a man’s reason can conceive, for it doth not only blemish and darken the knowledge of grace, but also it taketh away Christ with all his benefits, and it utterly overthroweth the Gospel, as Paul saith in this place. The cause of this great evil is our flesh, which, being plunged in sins, seeth no way how to get out but by works, and therefore it would live in the righteousness of the law, and rest in the trust and confidence of her own works. Wherefore, it is utterly ignorant of the doctrine of faith and grace, without the which, notwithstanding, it is impossible for the conscience to find rest and quietness.

       It appeareth also by these words of Paul: ‘And intend to pervert the Gospel of Christ,’ that the false apostles were exceeding bold and shameless, which with all their might set themselves against Paul. Wherefore he again, using his spirit of zeal and fervency, and being fully persuaded of the certainty of his calling, setteth himself strongly against them, and wonderfully magnifieth his ministry, saying:

But though that we, or an angel from heaven, preach unto you otherwise than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed

Here Paul casteth out very flames of fire, and his zeal is so fervent that he beginneth also almost to curse the angels. Although, saith he, that we ourselves, even I and my brethren Timothy and Titus, and as many as teach Christ purely with me (I speak not now of those seducers of consciences), yea, or if an angel from heaven preach unto you, etc.; notwithstanding I would rather that I myself, my brethren, yea and the very angels from heaven also, should be holden accursed, than that my Gospel should be overthrown. This is indeed a vehement zeal, that he dare so boldly curse, not only himself and his brethren, but also even an angel from heaven.

       The Greek word anathema, in Hebrew herem, signifieth a thing accursed, execrable, and detestable, which hath nothing to do, no participation or communion with God. So saith Joshua: Let the city of Jericho be a perpetual anathema, that it be never built again (Joshua 6:17,26). And in the last of Leviticus it is written: If a man or any beast shall have been devoted to anathema, let him be slain and not permitted to live (Leviticus 27:28). So God had appointed that Amalech and certain other cities accursed by God’s own sentence, should be utterly razed and destroyed (Exodus 17:13 f.). This then is the mind of Paul I had rather that myself, and other my brethren, yea, and an angel from heaven, should be accursed, than that we or others should preach any other gospel than that we have preached already. So Paul first curseth himself; for cunning artificers are wont first to find fault with themselves, that they may the more freely and sharply afterwards reprove others.

       Paul therefore concludeth, that there is no other Gospel beside that which he himself had preached. But he preached not a Gospel which he had himself devised, but the same which God promised before by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1). Therefore he pronounceth himself and others, yea, even an angel from heaven, to be undoubtedly accursed, if they teach any thing contrary to the former Gospel: for the voice of the Gospel once set forth, shall not be called back again till the Day of Judgment.

As we said before, so say we now again, if any man preach unto you otherwise than that you have received, let him be accursed

He repeateth the self-same thing; only changing the persons. Before, he cursed himself, his brethren, and an angel from heaven; here, if there be any (saith he) besides us, which preach unto you any other gospel than that ye have received of us, let them also be accursed. Therefore, he plainly excommunicateth and curseth all teachers in general, himself, his brethren, an angel, and moreover all others whatsoever, namely, all those false teachers his adversaries. Here appeareth an exceeding great fervency of spirit in the Apostle, that he dare curse all teachers throughout the whole world and in heaven, which pervert his Gospel and teach any other: for all men must either believe that Gospel that Paul preached, or else they must be accursed and condemned. Would to God this terrible sentence of the Apostle might strike a fear into their hearts that seek to pervert the Gospel of Paul; of which sort at this day (the more it is to be lamented) the world is full.

       This changing of persons is here to be marked. For Paul speaketh otherwise in his first cursing than he doth in the second. In the first he saith: ‘If we, or an angel from heaven, preach unto you any other gospel than that we have preached unto you’; in the second: ‘Than that ye have received.’ And this he doth of purpose, lest the Galatians should say: We, O Paul, do not pervert the Gospel that thou hast preached unto us; we understood thee not rightly, but the teachers that came after thee have declared unto us the true meaning thereof. This (saith he) will I in no case admit. They ought to add nothing, neither to correct it; but that which ye heard of me is the sincere Word of God; let this only remain. Neither do I desire myself to be another manner of teacher than I was, nor you to be other disciples. Wherefore, if ye hear any man bringing any other gospel than that ye have heard of me, or bragging that he will deliver better things than ye have received of me, let him and his disciples be both accursed. But such is the nature of the ministers of Satan, that on this crafty wise they know how to creep and steal into the minds of men: they confess that they which taught the Gospel before them, began well indeed, but that this is not enough. So at this day the fantastical heads do grant unto us this meed of praise, that we have rightly begun the business of the Gospel. But because we detest and condemn their blasphemous doctrine, they call us new papists, twice as bad as the old. In this wise the thieves and robbers make entrance for themselves into the sheepfold of the Lord, that they may steal and kill and destroy (John 10:1,10): for first they confirm our teaching, then they correct us and expound more clearly (as they dream) that which we have not sufficiently, or less rightly, understood. In the same manner the false apostles gained access to the Galatians. Paul (they said) hath indeed laid the foundation of Christian doctrine, but the true way of justification he doth not hold, because he teacheth men to turn aside from the law: this, therefore, that he was not able rightly to deliver unto you, receive ye from us. But Paul will have naught else taught by any, nor aught else heard and received by the Galatians, save that which he himself taught them before, and they heard and received from him.

       They, then, (saith he) which do teach or receive aught else, let them be anathema.

       The first two chapters, in a manner, contain nothing else but defenses of his doctrine, and confutations of errors; so that, until he cometh to the end of the second chapter, he toucheth not the chiefest matter which he handleth in this Epistle, namely, the article of justification. Notwithstanding, this sentence of Paul ought to admonish us, that so many as think the Pope to be judge of the Scripture, or the Church to have authority over the Scripture, are accursed: which thing the [popish] schoolmen have wickedly taught, standing upon this ground: The Church hath allowed four gospels only, therefore there are but four; for if it had allowed more, there had been more. Now, seeing the Church might receive and allow such and so many gospels as it would, therefore the Church is above the Gospel. A goodly argument, forsooth. I approve the Scripture, ergo I am above the Scripture! John Baptist acknowledgeth and confesseth Christ, and pointeth to him with his finger, therefore he is above Christ! The Church approveth the Christian faith and doctrine, therefore the Church is above them! For the overthrowing of this their wicked and blasphemous doctrine, thou hast here a plain text like a thunderbolt, wherein Paul subjecteth both himself and an angel from heaven, and doctors upon earth, and all other teachers and masters whatsoever, under the authority of the Scripture. This queen ought to rule, and all ought to obey and be subject unto her. They ought not to be masters, judges, or arbiters, but only witnesses, disciples, and confessors of the Scripture, whether it be the Pope, Luther, Augustine, Paul, or an angel from heaven. Neither ought any doctrine to be taught or heard in the Church besides the pure Word of God, that is to say, the holy Scripture; otherwise, accursed be both the teachers and hearers together with their doctrine.

For now preach I man’s doctrine, or God’s?

These words are spoken with the same vehemency of spirit that the former were, as if he should say: Am I, Paul, so unknown amongst you, which have preached so openly in your churches? Are my bitter conflicts, and so many sharp battles against the Jews, yet unknown to you? It appeareth (I think) sufficiently unto you by my preaching and by so many and so great afflictions which I have suffered, whether I serve men or God. For all men see that by this my preaching, I have not only stirred up persecution against me in every place, but have also procured the cruel hatred both of mine own nation and of all other men. I shew therefore plainly enough, that I seek not by my preaching the favor or praise of men, but to set forth the benefit and glory of God.

       Neither do we seek the favor of men by our doctrine; for we teach that all men are ungodly by nature, and the children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).

       We condemn man’s free-will, his strength, wisdom, and righteousness, and all religion of man’s own devising: and to be short, we say that there is nothing in us that is able to deserve grace and the forgiveness of sins; but we preach that we obtain this grace by the free mercy of God only, for Christ’s sake: for so the heavens shew forth the glory of God and his works, condemning all men generally with their works (Psalm 19:1 f.).

       This is not to preach for the favor of men and of the world. For the world can abide nothing less than to hear his wisdom, righteousness, religion and power condemned; and to speak against those mighty and glorious gifts of the world, is not to flatter the world, but rather to procure hatred and indignation of the world. For if we speak against men, or any thing else that pertaineth to their glory, it cannot be but that cruel hatred, persecutions, excommunications, murders and condemnations must needs follow.

       If then (saith Paul) they see other matters, why see they not this also, that I teach the things that are of God, and not of men? That is to say, that I seek no man’s favor by my doctrine, but I set out God’s mercy offered unto us in Christ; for if I sought the favor of men I would not condemn their works. Now, forasmuch as I condemn men’s works, that is to say, because I shew God’s judgment out of his Word (whereof I am a minister and apostle) against all men, how that they are sinners, unrighteous, ungodly, children of wrath, bondslaves of the devil and damned; and that they are not made righteous by works or by circumcision, but by grace only, and faith in Christ: therefore I procure unto myself the deadly hate of men; for they can abide nothing less than to hear that they are such; nay rather, they would be praised for wise, righteous and holy. Wherefore, this witnesseth sufficiently, that I teach not man’s doctrine. After the same manner Christ speaketh also in the seventh of John: ‘The world cannot hate you, but me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil’ (John 7:7), and in the third of John: ‘This is condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness more than light, because their works were evil’ (John 3:19).

       Now, that I teach the things which are of God, saith the Apostle, hereby it may sufficiently appear, that I preach the only grace, the mercy, the goodness and the glory of God. Moreover, he that speaketh, as Christ saith, those things which his Lord and Master hath commanded him, and glorifieth not himself, but him whose Apostle he is, bringeth and teacheth the sure Word of God. But I teach those things only which are commanded me from above: neither glorify myself, but him that sent me. Besides that, I stir up against myself the wrath and indignation of both the Jews and Gentiles: therefore my doctrine is true, sincere, certain, and of God, neither can there be any other, much less any better, than this my doctrine is.

       Wherefore, whatsoever doctrine else teacheth not as mine doth, that all men are sinners, and are justified by faith only in Christ, must needs be false, wicked, blasphemous, accursed and devilish; and even such also are they which either teach it or receive it.

       So we with Paul do boldly pronounce all such doctrine to be accursed as agreeth not with ours. For neither do we seek by our preaching the praise of men, or the favor of princes or bishops, but the favor of God alone, whose only grace and mercy we preach, despising and treading under foot whatsoever is of ourselves. Whosoever he be, then, which shall teach any other gospel, or that which is contrary to ours, we are bold to say that he is sent of the devil, and hold him accursed.

Or go I about to please men?

That is, do I serve men or God? He hath always a glance at the false apostles. These, saith he, must needs seek to please and to flatter men; for by this means they seek, that they again may glory in their flesh. Moreover, because they will not bear the hatred and persecution of men, they teach circumcision, only to avoid the persecution of the Cross of Christ: ‘as followeth in the fifth chapter (Galatians 5:11).

       So at this day ye may find many which seek to please men, and to the end they may live in peace and security of the flesh, they teach the things which are of men, that is to say, ungodly things; or else they allow the blasphemies and wicked judgments of the adversaries, contrary to the Word of God, against their own conscience, that they may keep still the favor of princes and bishops and not lose their goods. But we, because we endeavor to please God and not men, do stir up against us the malice of the devil and hell itself: we suffer the reproaches and slanders of the world, death and all the mischiefs that can be devised against us.

       So saith Paul here: I seek not to please men, that they may raise my doctrine, and report me to be an excellent teacher, but I desire only to please God; and by this means I make men my mortal enemies. Which thing I find by experience to be most true; for they requite me with infamy, slander, imprisonment, the sword, etc. Contrariwise the false apostles teach the things that are of men, that is to say, such things as be pleasant and plausible to man’s reason; and that to the end they may live in ease, and purchase the favor, good-will and praise of the people. And such men find that they seek for: for they are praised and magnified of men. So saith Christ also (Matthew 6:2), that hypocrites do all things to be praised of men. And in the fifth of John he sharply reproveth such: ‘How can ye believe,’ saith he, ‘which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh of God alone?’ (John 5:44). The things which Paul hath hitherto taught, are in a manner examples only. In the meantime, notwithstanding, he is very earnest everywhere in proving his doctrine to be sincere and sound. Therefore he exhorteth the Galatians that they forsake it not for any other doctrine.

For if I should yet please men, I were not the servant of Christ

These things are to be referred to the whole office and ministry of Paul, to shew what a contrariety there was between his conversation before in the Jewish law, and his conversation now under the Gospel. As if he would say: Do ye think that I go about still to please men, as I did in times past?

       So he speaketh afterwards in the fifth chapter: ‘If I yet preach circumcision, why do I suffer persecution?’ (Galatians 5:11). As though he would say: Do ye not see and hear of my daily conflicts, great persecutions and afflictions? After I was converted and called to the office of apostleship, I never taught man’s doctrine, neither sought I to please men, but God alone. That is to say, I seek not by my ministry and doctrine the praise and favor of men, but of God.

       Here again is to be marked, how maliciously and craftily the false apostles went about to bring Paul into hatred among the Galatians. They picked out of his preachings and writings certain contradictions (as our adversaries at this day do out of our books) and by this means they would have convinced him that he had taught contrary things. Wherefore they said, that there was no credit to be given unto him; but that circumcision and the law ought to be kept: which thing he himself also by his example had allowed, because he had circumcised Timothy according to the law, had purified himself with other four men in the temple at Jerusalem, and had shaven his head at Cenchrea, etc. (Acts 16:3; 21:24; 18:18). These things they craftily surmised, that Paul by the commandment and authority of the Apostles was constrained to do: which notwithstanding he had kept freely, bearing with the infirmity of the weak brethren (which yet understood not the Christian liberty) lest they should be offended. To whose cavillations thus he answereth: How true it is which the false apostles forge against me for the overthrowing of my Gospel, and setting up of the law and circumcision again, the matter itself sufficiently declareth. For if I would preach the law and circumcision, and commend the strength, the power, and the will of men, I should not be so odious unto them, but should please them.

Now I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me, was not after man. For neither received I it of man, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Here is the principal point of this matter: which containeth a confutation of his adversaries, and a defense of his doctrine, to the end of the second chapter; and it is a kind of perpetual history which Paul here reciteth. In the harmonizing whereof, St. Jerome turneth himself anxiously about and laboureth exceedingly. But he toucheth not the heart of the matter, for he considereth not what Paul purposeth, or whereunto he hath regard.

       Now the histories in the Scriptures are oftentimes briefly told and out of due order, so that they cannot easily be harmonised : as for example, the denials of Peter and the history of the passion of Christ, etc. So here Paul reciteth not the entire history. Therefore I labor not, neither am much troubled about the harmonising of it, but here I consider only what is the mind of Paul, and whereunto he hath regard.

       Now here is the principal point of this matter: My Gospel is not according to man, neither received I it of man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ.

       Upon this he standeth, this he urgeth and with an oath confirmeth, that he learned not his Gospel of any man, but received it by the revelation of Jesus Christ. And in that he sweareth, he is constrained so to do, that the Galatians may believe him, and also, that they should give no ear to the false apostles: whom he reproveth as liars, because they had said that he learned and received his Gospel of the Apostles.

       Where he saith that his Gospel is not after man, he meaneth not that his Gospel is not earthly, for that is manifest of itself; and the false apostles bragged also that their doctrine was not earthly but heavenly: but he meaneth that he learned not his Gospel by the ministry of men, or received it by any earthly means, as we all learn it either by the ministry of men, or else receive it by some earthly means, some by hearing, some by reading, and some by writing, etc.; but he received the same only by the revelation of Jesus Christ. If any man list to make any other distinction, I am not against it. Here the Apostle sheweth by the way, that Christ is not only man, but that he is both true God and man, when he saith that he received not his Gospel by man.

       Now, Paul received his Gospel in the way as he was going to Damascus, where Christ appeared unto him and talked with him. Afterwards also he talked with him in the temple at Jerusalem (Acts 22:17 ff.). But he received his Gospel in the way, as Luke reciteth the story in the ninth of the Acts. ‘Arise,’ saith Christ, ‘and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.’ He doth not bid him go into the city, that he might learn the Gospel of Ananias; but Ananias was bid to go and baptize him, to lay his hands upon him, to commit the ministry of the Word unto him, and to commend him unto the Church, and not to teach him the Gospel, which he had received afore (as he glorieth in the same place) by the only revelation of Jesus Christ. And this Ananias himself confesseth, saying: ‘Brother Saul, the Lord which appeared to thee in the way, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight.’ Therefore he received not his doctrine of Ananias, but being already called, lightened and taught of Christ in the way, he was sent to Ananias that he might also have the testimony of men, that he was called of God to preach the Gospel of Christ.

       This Paul was constrained to recite, to put away the slander of the false apostles, who labored to bring him into hatred with the Galatians, saying that Paul was inferior to the rest of the Apostles’ scholars, who had received of the Apostles that which they taught and kept; whose conversation also they had seen a long time, and that Paul himself had also received the same things of them, although he did now deny it. Why then would they rather obey an inferior, and despise the authority of the Apostles themselves, who were not only the fore-elders and teachers of the Galatians, but also of all the churches throughout the whole world?

       This argument, which the false apostles grounded upon the authority of the Apostles, was strong and mighty, whereby the Galatians were suddenly overthrown, especially in this matter. I would never have believed, had I not been taught by these examples of the churches of Galatia, of the Corinthians and others, that they which had received the Word of God in the beginning with such joy (among whom were many notable men) could so quickly be overthrown. O good Lord, what horrible and infinite mischiefs may one only argument easily bring, which so pierceth a man’s conscience, when God withdraweth his grace, that in one moment he loseth all together. By this subtilty then the false apostles did easily deceive the Galatians, being not fully stablished and grounded, but as yet weak in the faith.

       Moreover, the matter of justification is brittle: not of itself, for of itself it is most sure and certain, but in respect of us. Whereof I myself have good experience. For I know in what hours of darkness I sometimes wrestle. I know how often I suddenly lose the beams of the Gospel and grace, as being shadowed from me with thick dark clouds. Briefly, I know in what a slippery place even such also do stand as are well exercised and seem to have sure footing in matters of faith. We have good experience of this matter: for we are able to teach it unto others, and this is a sure token that we understand it; for no man can teach unto others that whereof he himself is ignorant. But when in the very conflict we should use the Gospel, which is the Word of grace, consolation and life, there doth the law, the Word of wrath, heaviness and death prevent the Gospel, and beginneth to rage; and the terrors which it raiseth up in the conscience, are no less than was that horrible shew in the mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16). So that even one place of the Scripture containing some threatening of the law overwhelmeth and drowneth all consolations besides, and so shaketh all our inward, powers, that it maketh us to forget justification, grace, Christ, the Gospel, and all together. Therefore in respect of us, it is a very brittle matter, because we are brittle.

       Again, we have against us even the one half of ourselves: that is to say, reason, and all the powers thereof. Besides all this, the flesh resisteth the spirit, for it cannot believe assuredly that the promises of God are true.

       It fighteth therefore against the spirit, and (as Paul saith) it holdeth the spirit captive (Galatians 5:17; Romans 7:23), so that it cannot believe so steadfastly as it would. Wherefore we teach continually, that the knowledge of Christ and of faith is no work of man, but simply the gift of God, who as he createth faith, so doth he keep it in us. And even as he first giveth faith unto us through the Word, so afterwards he exerciseth, increaseth, strengtheneth and maketh perfect the same in us by the Word.

       Therefore the highest worship that a man can offer unto God, and the very sabbath of sabbaths, is to exercise himself in true godliness, diligently to hear and to read the Word. Contrariwise, there is nothing more dangerous than to be weary of the Word. He therefore that is so cold, that he thinketh himself to know enough, and beginneth by little and little to loathe the Word, that man hath lost Christ and the Gospel, and that which he thinketh himself to know, he attaineth only by bare speculation; and he is like unto a man, as St. James saith, ‘who beholding his face in a glass, goeth his way, and by and by forgetteth what his countenance was’ (James 1:23,24).

       Wherefore let every faithful man labor and strive with all diligence to learn and to keep this doctrine: and to that end, let him use humble and hearty prayer, with continual study and meditation of the Word. And when we have done never so much, yet shall we have enough to keep us occupied.

       For we have to do with no small enemies, but strong and mighty, and such as are in continual war against us, namely, our own flesh, all the dangers of the world, the law, sin, death, the wrath and judgment of God, and the devil himself, who never ceaseth to tempt us inwardly by his fiery darts, and outwardly by his false apostles, to the end that he may overthrow, if not all, yet the most part of us.

       This argument therefore of the false apostles had a goodly shew, and seemed to be very strong. Which also at this day prevaileth with many, namely, that the Apostles, the holy fathers and their successors have so taught; that the Church so thinketh and believeth. Moreover, that it is impossible that Christ should suffer his Church so long time to err. Art thou alone, say they, wiser than so many holy men, wiser than the whole Church? After this manner the devil, being changed into an angel of light, setteth upon us craftily at this day by certain pestiferous hypocrites, who say: We pass not for the Pope or bishops, the greatest despisers and persecutors of the Word, and we abhor the hypocrisy of monks, and such like; but we would have the authority of the holy catholic Church to remain untouched. The Church hath thus believed and taught this long time. So have all the doctors of the primitive Church, holy men, more ancient and better learned than thou. Who art thou, that darest dissent from all these, and bring unto us a contrary doctrine? When Satan reasoneth thus, conspiring with the flesh and reason, then is thy conscience terrified and utterly despaireth, unless thou constantly return to thyself again, and say:

       Whether it be St. Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine, either St. Peter, Paul, or John, yea or an angel from heaven, that teacheth otherwise, yet this I know assuredly, that I teach not the things of men, but of God that is to say, I attribute all things to God alone, and nothing to men.

       When I first took upon me the defense of the Gospel, I remember that Doctor Staupitius, a most worthy man and Vicar of the Augustinian order, said thus unto me: This liketh me well, that this doctrine which thou preachest, yieldeth glory and all things else unto God alone, and nothing unto men: for unto God (it is clear as day) there cannot be attributed too much glory, goodness, etc. This saying did then greatly comfort and confirm me. And true it is, that the doctrine of the Gospel taketh from men all glory, wisdom, righteousness, etc., and giveth the same to the Creator alone, who maketh all things of nothing. We may also more safely attribute too much unto God, than unto man: for in this case I may say boldly: Be it so, that the Church, Augustine and other doctors, also Peter and Apollos, yea even an angel from heaven, teach a contrary doctrine, yet my doctrine is such, that it setteth forth and preacheth the grace and glory of God alone, and in the matter of salvation, it condemneth the righteousness and wisdom of all men. In this I cannot offend, because I give both to God and man that which properly and truly belongeth unto them both.

       But thou wilt say: the Church is holy, the Fathers are holy. It is true; notwithstanding, albeit the Church be holy, yet is it compelled to pray: ‘Forgive us our trespasses’ (Matthew 6:12). So, though the Fathers be holy, yet are they saved through the forgiveness of sins. Therefore neither am I to be believed, nor the Church, nor the Fathers, nor the Apostles, no, nor an angel from heaven, if we teach any thing against the Word of God; but let the Word of the Lord abide for ever for else this argument of the false apostles had mightily prevailed against Paul’s doctrine. For indeed it was a great matter, a great matter I say, to set before the Galatians the whole Church, with all the company of the Apostles, against Paul alone, but lately sprung up and of small authority. This was therefore a strong argument, and concluded mightily. For no man saith willingly that the Church erreth, and yet it is necessary to say that it erreth, if it teach any thing besides or against God’s Word.

       Peter, the chief of the Apostles, taught both in life and doctrine besides God’s Word; therefore he erred and was deceived. Neither did Paul dissemble that error (although it seemed to be but a light fault) because he saw it would turn to the hurt of the whole Church, but withstood him even to his face, because he walked not after the truth of the Gospel (Galatians 2:11). Therefore neither is the Church, nor Peter, nor the Apostles, nor angels from heaven, to be heard, unless they bring and teach the pure Word of God.

       This argument, even at this day, is not a little prejudicial to our cause. For if we may neither believe the Pope, nor the Fathers, nor Luther, nor any other, except they teach us the pure Word of God, whom shall we then believe? Who, in the meanwhile, shall certify our consciences, which part teacheth the pure Word of God, we or our adversaries? For they brag that they also have the pure Word of God and teach it. Again, we believe not the Papists, because they teach not the Word of God, neither can they teach it. Contrariwise, they hate us most bitterly, and persecute us as most pestilent heretics and seducers of the people. What is to be done in this case? Shall it be lawful for every fantastical spirit, to teach what himself listeth, seeing the world can neither hear nor abide our doctrine? For although we glory with Paul, that we teach the pure Gospel of Christ (to the which not only ought the Emperor, the Pope and the whole world to yield, but they ought also to receive it with outstretched hands, embrace it lovingly, and give diligent care that it be everywhere taught. But if any man teach otherwise, whether the Pope, or St. Augustine, or an Apostle, or an angel from heaven, let him be anathema with his gospel), yet we profit nothing, but are compelled to hear that this our glorying is not only vain, rash, and arrogant, but also devilish and full of blasphemy. But if we abase ourselves, and give place to the rage of our adversaries, then both the Papists and Sectaries wax proud. The Sectaries will vaunt that they bring and teach some strange thing which the world never heard of before.

       The Papists will set up again and establish their old abominations. Let every man therefore take heed, that he be most sure of his calling and doctrine, that he may boldly say with Paul: ‘Although we, or an angel from heaven, preach unto you otherwise than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed’ (Galatians 1:8).

For ye have heard of my conversation in times past in jewish religion, how that I persecuted the church of God extremely and wasted it: and profited in the jewish religion, above many of my companions of mine own nation

This place hath in it no singular doctrine. Notwithstanding, Paul allegeth here his own example, saying: I have defended the traditions of the Pharisees, and the Jewish religion, more constantly than ye and all your false teachers. Wherefore, if the righteousness of the law had been anything worth, I had not turned back from it: in the keeping whereof, notwithstanding, before I knew Christ I did so exercise myself, and so profit therein, that I excelled many of my companions of mine own nation.

       Moreover, I was so zealous in defense of the same, that I persecuted the Church of God extremely, and wasted it. For having received authority of the high priests, I put many of the saints in prison (Acts 26:10), and when they should be put to death,’ I pronounced the sentence; and punishing them throughout all the synagogues, I compelled them to blaspheme, and was so exceeding mad upon them, that I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

And was much more zealous of the traditions of my fathers

He calleth not here the traditions of the fathers, pharisaical or human traditions; for in this place he treateth not of the pharisaical traditions, but of a far higher matter, and therefore he calleth even that holy law of Moses, the fathers’ traditions: that is to say, received and left as an inheritance from the fathers. For these, saith he, when I was in the Jewish religion, I was very zealous. He speaketh after the same manner to the Philippians: ‘As concerning the law,’ saith he, ‘I was a Pharisee, concerning zeal, I persecuted the Church, and as concerning the righteousness of the law, I was unrebukable’ (Philippians 3:6). As though he would say: Here I may glory, and may compare with the whole nation of the Jews, yea even with the best and holiest of all those which are of the circumcision; let them show me, if they can, a more zealous and earnest defender of Moses’ law, than I have been. This thing (O ye Galatians) ought to have persuaded you not to believe these deceivers, which magnify the righteousness of the law as a matter of great importance; whereas, if there were any cause to glory in the righteousness of the law, I have more cause to glory than any other.

       In like manner say I of myself, that before I was lightened with the knowledge of the Gospel, I was as zealous for the papistical laws and traditions of the fathers, as ever any was, most earnestly maintaining and defending them as holy and necessary to salvation. Moreover, I endeavored to observe and keep them myself, as much as was possible for me to do; punishing my poor body with fasting, watching, praying, and other exercises, more than all they which at this day do so bitterly hate and persecute me, because now I take from them the glory of justifying by works and merits. For I was so diligent and superstitious in the observation hereof, that I laid more upon my body than without danger of health it was able to bear. I honored the Pope of mere conscience, and unfeignedly, not seeking after prebends, promotions and livings: but whatsoever I did, I did it with a single heart, of a good zeal, and for the glory of God. But those things which then were gainful unto me, now with Paul I count to be but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord. But our adversaries, as idle bellies, and tried with no temptations, believe not that I and many others have endured such things: I speak of such as with great desire sought for peace and quietness of conscience, which notwithstanding in so great darkness it was not possible for them to find.

But when it had pleased God (which had separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace) to reveal his son in me, that I should preach him among the gentiles, immediately I communicated not with flesh and blood. Neither came I again to Jerusalem, to them which were apostles before me, but I went into Arabia, and turned again unto Damascus

This is the first journey of Paul. Jerome here toileth hard, saying that Luke in the Acts writeth nothing of the journey of Paul into Arabia; as if it were needful to set down the events and doings of every single day, when that were impossible. Let it suffice that we have some particulars and a certain number of histories out of which we can take examples and instruction.

       And here he witnesseth that straightway, after he was called by the grace of God to preach Christ among the Gentiles, he went into Arabia, without the advice of any man, to that work whereunto he was called. And this place witnesseth by whom he was taught, and by what means he came to the knowledge of the Gospel and to his apostleship. ‘When it had pleased God,’ saith he. As if he would say: I have not deserved it, because I was zealous of the law of God without judgment, nay rather, this foolish and wicked zeal stirred me up, that God so permitting, I fell headlong into more abominable and outrageous sins. I persecuted the Church of God, I was an enemy to Christ, I blasphemed his Gospel, and to conclude, I was the author of shedding much innocent blood. This was my desert. In the midst of this cruel rage, I was called to such inestimable grace. What? Was it because of this outrageous cruelty? No forsooth. But the abundant grace of God, who calleth and showeth mercy to whom he will, pardoned and forgave me all those blasphemies; and for these my horrible sins, which then I thought to be perfect righteousness, and an acceptable service unto God, he gave unto me his grace, the knowledge of his truth, and called me to be an Apostle.

       We also are come at this day to the knowledge of grace by the self-same merits. I crucified Christ daily in my monkish life, and blasphemed God through my false faith, wherein I then continually lived. Outwardly I was not as other men, extortioners, unjust, whoremongers; but I kept chastity, poverty and obedience. Moreover, I was free from the cares of this present life. I was only given to fasting, watching, praying, saying of masses, and such like. Notwithstanding, in the meantime, I fostered under this cloaked holiness and trust in mine own righteousness, continual mistrust, doubtfulness, fear, hatred and blasphemy against God. And this my righteousness was nothing else but a filthy puddle, and the very kingdom of the devil. For Satan loveth such saints, and accounteth them for his dear darlings, who destroy their own bodies and souls, and deprive themselves of all the blessings of God’s gifts. In the meantime notwithstanding, wickedness, blindness, contempt of God, ignorance of the Gospel, profanation of the Sacraments, blaspheming and treading of Christ under foot, and the abuse of all the benefits and gifts of God, do reign in them at the full. To conclude, such saints are the bondslaves of Satan, and therefore are driven to think, speak and do whatsoever he will, although outwardly they seem to excel all others in good works, in holiness and strictness of life.

       Such we were under the Popedom: verily no less, if not more, contumelious and blasphemous against Christ and his Gospel, than Paul himself, and specially I; for I did so highly esteem the Pope’s authority, that to dissent from him, even in the least point, I thought it a sin worthy of everlasting death. And that wicked opinion caused me to think that John Hus was a cursed heretic, yea and I accounted it an heinous offense but once to think of him; and I would myself, in defense of the Pope’s authority, have ministered fire and sword for the burning and destroying of that heretic, and thought it an high service unto God so to do. Wherefore if you compare publicans and harlots with these holy hypocrites, they are not evil. For they, when they offend, have remorse of conscience, and do not justify their wicked doings; but these men are so far from acknowledging their abominations, idolatries, wicked will-worshippings and ceremonies to be sins, that they affirm the same to be righteousness, and a most acceptable sacrifice unto God, yea, they adore them as matters of singular holiness, and through them do promise salvation unto others, and also sell them for money, as things available to salvation.

       This is then our goodly righteousness, this is our high merit, which bringeth us unto the knowledge of grace: to wit, that we have so deadly and so devilishly persecuted, blasphemed, trodden under foot, and condemned God, Christ, the Gospel, faith, the Sacraments, all godly men, the true worship of God, and have taught and stablished quite contrary things. And the more holy we were, the more were we blinded, and the more did we worship the devil. There was not one of us but he was a bloodsucker, if not in deed, yet in heart.

When it pleased God

As though he would say: It is the alone and inestimable favor of God, that not only he hath spared me, so wicked and so cursed a wretch, such a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a rebel against God, but beside, that, hath also given unto me the knowledge of salvation, his Spirit, Christ his Son, the office of an Apostle, and everlasting life. So God beholding us guilty in the like sins, hath not only pardoned our impieties and blasphemies of his mere mercy for Christ’s sake, but hath also overwhelmed us with great benefits and spiritual gifts. But many of us are not only unthankful unto God for this his inestimable grace, and as it is written (2 Peter 1:9), do forget the cleansing of their old sins; but also opening again a window to the devil, they begin to loathe his Word, and many also do pervert and corrupt it, and so become authors of new errors. The ends of these men are worse than the beginnings (Matthew 12:45).

Which had separated me from my mother’s womb

This is an Hebrew phrase. As if he said: Which had sanctified, ordained, and prepared me. That is, God had appointed, when I was yet in my mother’s womb, that I should so rage against his Church, and that afterwards he would mercifully call me back again from the midst of my cruelty and blasphemy, by his mere grace, into the way of truth and salvation. To be short, when I was not yet born, I was an Apostle in the sight of God, and when the time was come, I was declared an Apostle before the whole world.

       Thus Paul cutteth off all deserts, and giveth glory to God alone, but to himself all shame and confusion. As though he would say: All the gifts both small and great, as well spiritual as corporal, which God purposed to give unto me, and all the good things which at any time in all my life I should do, God himself had before appointed when I was yet in my mother’s womb, where I could neither wish, think, nor do any good thing. Therefore this gift came unto me by the mere predestination and free mercy of God before I was yet born. Moreover, after I was born, he supported me, being laden with innumerable and most horrible iniquities. And that he might the more manifestly declare the unspeakable and inestimable greatness of his mercy towards me, he of his mere grace forgave my abominable and infinite sins, and moreover replenished me with such plenty of his grace, that I did not only know what things are given unto us in Christ, but preached the same also unto others. Such are the deserts and merits of all men, and especially of those old dotards, who exercise themselves wholly in the stinking puddles of man’s own righteousness.

And called me by his grace

Mark the diligence of the Apostle. ‘He called me,’ saith he. How? Was it for my pharisaical religion, or for my blameless and holy life? For my prayers, fastings and works? No. Much less for my blasphemies, persecutions, oppressions. How then? By his mere grace alone.

To reveal his son in me

You hear in this place, what manner of doctrine is given and committed to Paul: to wit, the doctrine of the Gospel, which is the revelation of the Son of God. This is a doctrine quite contrary to the law, which revealeth not the Son of God, but it showeth forth sin, it terrifieth the conscience, it revealeth death, the wrath and judgment of God, and hell. The Gospel therefore is such a doctrine, as admitteth no law yea, it must be separate as far from the law, as there is distance between heaven and earth. This difference in itself is easy and plain, but unto us it is hard and full of difficulty. For it is an easy matter to say, that the Gospel is nothing else but the revealing of the Son of God, or the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and not the revealing of the law. But in the agony and conflict of conscience, to hold this fast and to practice it indeed, it is a hard matter, yea to them also that be most exercised therein.

       Now, if the Gospel be the revealing of the Son of God, as Paul defineth it in this place, then surely it accuseth not, it terrifieth not the conscience, it threateneth not death, it bringeth not to despair, as the law doth; but it is a doctrine concerning Christ, who is assuredly neither law nor work, but our righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). Although this thing be more clear than the sunlight, yet notwithstanding, the madness and blindness of the Papists hath been so great, that of the Gospel they have made a law of charity, and of Christ a lawmaker, giving more strait and heavy commandments than Moses himself. But the Gospel teacheth, that Christ came not to set forth a new law, and to give commandments as touching manners: but that he came to this end, that he might be made an oblation for the sins of the whole world, and that our sins might be forgiven, and everlasting life given unto us for his sake, and not for the works of the law, or for our own righteousness.

       Of this inestimable treasure freely bestowed upon us, the Gospel properly preacheth unto us. Wherefore it is a kind of doctrine that is not learned or gotten by any study, diligence, or wisdom of man, nor yet by the law of God, but is revealed by God himself, as Paul saith in this place; first by the external Word, then by the working of God’s spirit inwardly. The Gospel therefore is a divine Word that came down from heaven, and is revealed by the Holy Ghost, who was also sent for the same purpose: yet in such sort notwithstanding, that the outward Word must go before. For Paul himself had no inward revelation, until he had heard the outward. Word from heaven, which was this, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’ (Acts 9:4). First, therefore, he heard the outward Word, then afterwards followed revelations, the knowledge of the Word, faith, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

That I should preach him among the gentiles

‘It pleased God,’ saith he, ‘to reveal his Son in me.’ To what purpose? Not only that I myself should believe in the Son of God, but also that I should preach him among the Gentiles. And why not among the Jews? Lo, here we see that Paul is properly the Apostle of the Gentiles, albeit he preached Christ among the Jews also.

       Paul comprehendeth here in a few words, as he is wont, his whole divinity, which is: to preach Christ among the Gentiles. As if he would say: I will not burden the Gentiles with the law, because I am the Apostle and evangelist of the Gentiles, and not their lawgiver. Thus he directeth all his words against the false apostles. As though he would say: O ye Galatians, ye have not heard the righteousness of the law, or of works, to be taught by me; for this belongeth to Moses, and not to me, Paul, being the Apostle of the Gentiles. For my office and ministry is to bring the Gospel unto you, and to show unto you the same revelation which I myself have had.

       Therefore ought you to hear no teacher that teacheth the law. For among the Gentiles, the law ought not to be preached, but the Gospel; not Moses, but the Son of God; not the righteousness of works, but the righteousness of faith. This is the preaching that properly belongeth to the Gentiles.

Immediately I communicated not with flesh and blood

St. Jerome hath here a great contention against Porphyrius and Julian, which charge Paul with arrogance because he would not confer his Gospel with the rest of the Apostles; also because Paul calleth the Apostles ‘flesh and blood.’ But Paul here making mention of flesh and blood, speaketh not of the Apostles. For by and by he addeth: ‘Neither came I again to Jerusalem, to them which were apostles before me.’ But this is Paul’s meaning, that after he had once received the revelation of the Gospel from Christ, he consulted not with any man in Damascus, much less did he desire any man to teach him the Gospel; again, that he went not to Jerusalem, to Peter and the other Apostles, to learn the Gospel of them, but that forthwith in Damascus, where he received baptism of Ananias, and imposition of hands (for it was necessary for him to have the outward sign and testimony of his calling), he preached Jesus as the Son of God. The same also writeth Luke, Acts 9.

Neither came I to Jerusalem, to them that were apostles before me, but went into Arabia, and turned again unto Damascus

That is, I went into Arabia before I saw the Apostles or consulted with them, and forthwith I took upon me the office of preaching the Gospel among the Gentiles: for thereunto I was called, and had also received a revelation from God. In vain therefore doth Jerome inquire what Paul did in Arabia. For what else should he do, but preach Christ? For to this end (saith he) was the Son of God revealed in him, that he might preach him among the Gentiles. Wherefore he betaketh himself forthwith from Damascus, a Gentile city, unto Arabia, where also were Gentiles, and there doeth his office with his might. He did not then receive his Gospel of any man, or of the Apostles themselves, but was content with his heavenly calling, and with the revelation of Jesus Christ alone. Wherefore this whole place is a confutation of the false apostles’ argument, which they used against Paul, saying that he was but a scholar and a hearer of the Apostles, who lived after the law; and moreover, that Paul himself also had lived according to the law, and therefore it was necessary that the Gentiles themselves should keep the law, and be circumcised. To the end therefore that he might stop the mouths of these cavillers, he rehearseth this long history: Before my conversion, saith he, I learned not my Gospel of the Apostles, nor of any other of the brethren that believed (for I persecuted extremely, not only this doctrine, but also the Church of God, and wasted it); neither after my conversion, for forthwith I preached, not Moses with his law, but Jesus Christ at Damascus, consulting with no man, neither as yet having seen any of the Apostles. So we also can boast, that we have not received our doctrine from the Pope. The holy Scripture and the outward symbols we have indeed from him, but not the doctrine, which hath come unto us by the gift of God alone. Whereunto hath been added our own study, reading and inquiry.

       The argument of our adversaries, therefore, is a thing of naught, which they use at this day, saying: Who should believe your doctrine, ye Lutherans, seeing ye are in no public office? Ye ought to take your doctrine from the Pope and the bishops, which are ordained and in a lawful function, etc.

Then after three years I came again to Jerusalem, to visit Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. And none other of the apostles saw I, save James, the lord’s brother.

Paul granteth that he was with the Apostles, but not with all the Apostles.

       Howbeit he declareth that he went up to Jerusalem to them, not commanded, but of his own accord, not to learn any thing of them, but only to see Peter. The same thing Luke also writeth in the ninth chapter of the Acts, that Barnabas led Paul to the Apostles, and declared to .them, how that he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he spake unto him; also that he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. This witness beareth Barnabas of him. All his words are so framed, that they prove his Gospel not to be of man. Indeed he granteth that he had seen Peter, and James the brother of our Lord, but none other of the Apostles besides these two, and that he learned nothing of them.

       He granteth therefore, that he was at Jerusalem with the Apostles; and this did the false apostles rightly report. He granteth moreover, that he had lived after the manner of the Jews, but yet only among the Jews. For this rule did Paul keep: ‘When thou art at Rome, live after the Roman manner.

       And this is it which he saith in 1 Corinthians 9 (19 ff.): ‘When I was free from all men, I made myself servant to all men, that I might win the more.

       To the Jews I became as a Jew, etc. I was made all things to all men, that I might save all.’ He granteth therefore, that he was at Jerusalem with the Apostles, but he denieth that he had learned his Gospel of them. Also he denieth that he was constrained to teach the Gospel as the Apostles had prescribed. The whole effect then of this matter lieth in this word, ‘to see’:

       I went, saith he, to see Peter, and not to learn of him. Therefore neither is Peter my master, nor yet James. And as for the other Apostles, he utterly denieth that he saw any of them.

       But why doth Paul repeat this so often, that he learned not his Gospel of men, nor of the Apostles themselves? His purpose is this, to persuade the churches of Galatia, which were now led away by the false apostles, and to put them out of all doubt that his Gospel was the true Word of God; and for this cause he repeateth it so often. And if he had not prevailed herein, he never could have stopped the mouths of the false apostles. For thus they would have objected against him: We are as good as Paul, we are disciples of the Apostles as well as he; moreover, he is but one alone, and we are many; therefore we excel him, both in authority and in number also.

       Here Paul was constrained to glory, to affirm and swear, that he learned not his Gospel of any man, neither received it of the Apostles themselves. It was most necessary for him thus to glory, and it was no vain boasting, as Porphyrius and Julian falsely declare, who perceived not (as Jerome likewise did not) what Paul was about. For his ministry was here in great danger, and all the churches likewise, which had used him as their chief pastor and teacher. The necessity therefore of his ministry, and of all the churches, required that with a necessary and holy pride he should vaunt of his vocation, and of the knowledge of the Gospel revealed unto him by Christ, that their consciences might be thoroughly persuaded that his doctrine was the true Word of God. Here had Paul a weighty matter in hand: namely, that all the churches might be kept in sound doctrine; yea, the controversy was in deed, as touching life and death everlasting. For if the pure Word of God be once taken away, there remaineth no consolation, no life, no salvation. The cause therefore why he reciteth these things,, is to retain the churches in true and sound doctrine. His purpose is therefore to show by this history, that he received his Gospel of no man.

       Again, that he preached for a certain time, namely, the space of three or four years, both in Damascus and Arabia, by revelation from God, before he had seen any of the Apostles, even the selfsame Gospel that the Apostles had preached. Jerome here maketh sport with the mystery of the fifteen days. He saith also that Paul in those fifteen days was taught of Peter and instructed in the mystery of the Ogdoad and Hebdoad. But these things have nothing to do with the fact. For Paul saith in plain words that he came to Jerusalem to see Peter, and stayed with him fifteen days. If his purpose had been to learn the Gospel of Peter, he must needs have stayed there several years.

       In fifteen days he could not have been made so great an apostle and teacher of the Gentiles – not to mention that in these fifteen days (as Luke testifieth, Acts 9:28 ff.) he spake with boldness in the name of the Lord and disputed with the Greeks, etc.

And now the things which I write unto you, behold I witness before God I lie not

Wherefore addeth he an oath? Because he reporteth an history. He is constrained to swear, to the end that the churches might believe him; lest the false apostles should say: Who knoweth whether Paul speaketh the truth or no? Here you see that Paul, the elect vessel of Christ, was in so great contempt among his own Galatians, to whom he had preached Christ, that it was necessary for him to swear that he spake the truth. If this happened then to the Apostles, to have so mighty adversaries that they durst despise them and accuse them of lying, what marvel is it if the like at this day happen unto us, which in no respect are worthy to be compared with the Apostles? He sweareth in a matter (as it seemeth) of no weight, that he speaketh the truth, namely, that he tarried not with Peter to learn of him, but only to see him; but if you weigh the matter diligently, it is very weighty and of great importance, as may appear by what is said before. In like manner we swear after the example of Paul, in this wise: God knoweth that we lie not, etc.

After that, I went into the coasts of syria and cilicia

Syria and Cilicia are countries near situate together. This is it that he still goeth about to persuade, that as well before he had seen the Apostles as after, he was always a teacher of the Gospel, and that he received it by the revelation of Christ, and was never any disciple of the Apostles.

For I was unknown by face unto the churches of judaea which were in Christ. But they heard only some say, he which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which before he destroyed. And they glorified God in me

This he addeth for the sequel and continuance of the history, that after he had seen Peter, he went into Syria and Cilicia, and there preached, and so preached, that he won the testimony of all the churches in Judaea. As though he would say: I appeal to the testimony of all the churches, yea even of those which are in Judaea; for the churches do witness, not only in Damascus, Arabia, Syria and Cilicia, but also in Judaea, that I have preached the same faith which I once withstood and persecuted. And they glorified God in me, not because I taught that circumcision and the law of Moses ought to be kept, but for the preaching of faith, and for the edifying of the churches by my ministry in the Gospel. Ye therefore have the testimony not only of the people of Damascus and of Arabia, etc., but also of the whole catholic Church in Judaea, etc.

    

CHAPTER 2

Then fourteen years after, I went up again to Jerusalem

PAUL taught that the Gentiles were justified by faith only, without the works of the law. This doctrine when he had published abroad among the Gentiles, he cometh to Antioch, and declareth to the disciples what he had done. Then they which had been trained up in the old customs of the law, rose against Paul with great indignation, for that he preached to the Gentiles liberty from the bondage of the law. Whereupon followed great dissension, which afterwards stirred up new troubles. Paul and Barnabas stood strongly to the truth, and testified, saying: Wheresoever we preached among the Gentiles, the Holy Ghost came and fell upon those which heard the Word; and this was done throughout all the churches of the Gentiles.

       But we preached not circumcision, neither did we require the keeping of the law, but we preached only faith in Jesus Christ; and at this preaching of faith, God gave to the hearers the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost, therefore, doth approve the faith of the Gentiles, without the law and circumcision; for if the preaching of the Gospel, and faith of the Gentiles in Christ, had not pleased him, he had not come down in a visible shape upon the uncircumcised which heard the Word. Seeing then by the only hearing of faith he came down upon them, it is certain that the Holy Ghost by this sign hath approved the faith of the Gentiles; for it doth not appear that this was ever done before at the preaching of the law.

       Then the Jews and many of the Pharisees which did believe, and notwithstanding bare yet a great zeal to the law, earnestly striving to maintain the glory thereof, set themselves fiercely against Paul (who alarmed that the Gentiles were justified by faith only, without the works of the law), contending that the law ought to be kept, and that the Gentiles ought to be circumcised; for otherwise they could not be saved, And no marvel; for the very name of the law of God is holy and dreadful. The heathen man, which never knew any thing of the law of God, if he hear any man say: This doctrine is the law of God, he is moved therewith. How then could it be but the Jews must needs be moved, and vehemently contend for the maintenance of the law of God, which even from their infancy had been nusled and trained up therein?

       We see at this day, how obstinate the Papists be in defending their traditions and doctrines of devils; wherefore, it was much less to be marveled that the Jews did so vehemently and zealously strive for the maintenance of their law, which they had received from God. Custom is of such force, that whereas nature is of itself inclined to the observation of the law, by long continuance it so confirmeth nature, that now it becometh a double nature. Therefore, it was not possible for the Jews which were newly converted to Christ, suddenly to forsake the law; who, though they had received the faith of Christ, thought it necessary notwithstanding to observe the law. And with this their weakness God did bear for a time, until the doctrine of the Gospel might be plainly discerned from the law. So he bare with the infirmity of Israel in the time of king Ahab, when the people halted between two religions. He bare also with our weakness whilst we were under the blindness of the Pope. For he is long-suffering, and full of mercy. But we must not abuse this goodness and patience of the Lord, nor continue still in our weakness and error, since the truth is now revealed by the clear light of the Gospel.

       Moreover, they that stood against Paul, affirming that the Gentiles ought to be circumcised, had to lay for themselves, first the law and custom of the country, theft the example of the Apostles, and last of all, the example of Paul himself, who had circumcised Timothy. Wherefore, if Paul in his defense said that he did not this of necessity, but for Christian love and liberty, lest they which were weak in faith should be offended, which of them would comprehend or believe him? Hereunto all the people would answer: Since it is evident that thou hast circumcised Timothy, thou mayest say what thou wilt; notwithstanding thou hast done it. For this is a matter far passing all man’s capacity, and therefore they could not understand it.

       Moreover, no defense can serve when a man hath lost the favor of the people, and is fallen into such deadly hatred and contempt. Paul therefore seeing this contention and these clamors daily to increase more and more, and being also warned by revelation from God, after fourteen years (besides those wherein he had preached in Damascus and Arabia) goeth up again to Jerusalem, to confer his Gospel with the other Apostles; yet not for his own cause, but for the people’s sake.

       Now, this contention touching the observation of the law, exercised Paul a long time after, and wrought him much trouble; but I do not think that this is the contention which Luke speaketh of in the fifteenth of the Acts, which happened, as it appeareth, by and by after the beginning of the Gospel; but this history which Paul here mentioneth, seemeth to be done long after, when Paul had now almost eighteen years preached the Gospel.

With barnabas, and took with me titus

He joineth unto himself two witnesses, Barnabas and Titus. Barnabas was Paul’s companion in preaching to the Gentiles freedom from the servitude of the law. He was also a witness of all those things which Paul did, and had seen the Holy Ghost given unto the Gentiles, which were uncircumcised and free from Moses’s law, by the only preaching of faith in Jesus Christ. And he alone stuck to Paul in this point, that it was not necessary that the Gentiles should be burdened with the law, but that it was enough for them to believe in Christ. Wherefore, by his own experience he testifieth with Paul against the Jews, that the Gentiles were made the children of God and saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ, without the law of circumcision.

       Titus was not only a Christian, but also the chief overseer in Crete; for unto him Paul had committed the charge of governing the churches there (Titus 1); and this Titus was a Gentile.

And I went up by revelation

For unless Paul had been admonished by revelation, he had not gone up to Jerusalem: but because God warned him by a special revelation, and commanded him to go up, therefore he went. And this he did to bridle, or at least to appease, the Jews that believed and yet obstinately contended about the keeping of the law, to the end that the truth of the Gospel might the more be advanced and confirmed.

And I communicated with them touching the gospel

You hear then, that at length after eighteen years he went up to Jerusalem, and conferred with the Apostles touching his Gospel.

Which I preach among the gentiles

For among the Jews he suffered the law and circumcision for a time, as the other Apostles did: ‘I am made all things unto all men,’ saith he (Corinthians 9:22); yet ever holding the true doctrine of the Gospel, which he preferred above the law, circumcision, the Apostles, yea and an angel from heaven. For thus saith he unto the Jews: ‘Through this Christ, is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.’ And he addeth very plainly: ‘and from all things, from the which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses, by him every one that believeth is justified ‘ (Acts 13:38 f.). For this cause he teacheth and defendeth the doctrine of the Gospel so diligently every where, and never suffereth it to come in danger.

       Notwithstanding, he did not suddenly break out at the first but had regard unto the weak. And because the weak should not be offended, there is no doubt but he spake to the Jews after this manner: If that unprofitable service of Moses’ law, which nothing availeth to righteousness, do so highly please you, ye may keep it still for me, so that the Gentiles which are not bound to this law, be not charged therewithal.

       Paul therefore confesseth, that he conferred the Gospel with the Apostles.

       But (saith he) they profited me or taught me nothing: but I rather for the defense of the liberty, of the Gospel, in the presence of the Apostles, did constantly resist those which would needs force the observation of the law upon the Gentiles, and so did overcome them. Wherefore your false apostles lie, in saying that I circumcised Timothy, that I shaved my head in Cenchrea, and that I went up to Jerusalem, at the commandment of the Apostles. Nay rather, I glory that in going up to Jerusalem by the revelation of God, and not at the commandment of the Apostles, and there conferring my Gospel with them, I brought to pass the contrary, that is to say, obtained that the Apostles did approve me, and not those which were against me.

       Now, the question whereupon the Apostles conferred together in this assembly, was this: whether the keeping the law were necessary to justification or no. To this Paul answered: I have preached unto the Gentiles, according to my Gospel which I received from God, faith in Christ, and not the law, and at this preaching of faith, they received the Holy Ghost; and hereof Barnabas shall bear me witness. Wherefore I conclude, that the Gentiles ought not to be burdened with the law, nor to be circumcised. Notwithstanding, I give no restraint to the Jews herein: who if they will needs keep the law and be circumcised, I am not against it, so that they do it with freedom of conscience. And thus have I taught and lived among the Jews, ‘being made a Jew unto the Jews;’ holding ever the truth of my Gospel notwithstanding.

But particularly with them that were the chiefest

That is to say, I did not only confer with the brethren, but with those that were the chiefest among them.

Lest by any means I should run, or had run in vain

Not that Paul doubted, that he ran or had run in vain, forasmuch as he had now preached the Gospel eighteen years, (for it followeth incontinent in the text, that he had continued firm and constant all this while, and had prevailed); but for that many did think that Paul had therefore preached the Gospel so many years in vain, because he had set the Gentiles at liberty from the observation of the law. Moreover, this opinion daily more and more increased, that the law was necessary to justification. Wherefore, in going up to Jerusalem by revelation, he meant so to remedy this evil, that by this comerence all men might plainly see his Gospel to be in no point contrary to the doctrine of the other Apostles, to the end that by this means he might stop the mouths of the adversaries, which would else have said that he ran or had run in vain. Note here by the way, the virtue of man’s own righteousness, or the righteousness of the law, to be such that they which teach it, do run and live in vain.

But neither yet titus which was with me, though he were a grecian, was compelled to be circumcised

This word ‘was compelled’ sufficiently declareth what the conference and conclusion was: to wit, that the Gentiles should not be constrained to be circumcised, but that circumcision should be permitted to the Jews for a time: not as necessary to righteousness, but for the reverence to the fathers: and for charity’s sake towards the weak, lest they should be offended, until they were grown up more strong in faith. For it might have seemed a very strange and unseemly thing, upon a sudden to forsake the law and traditions of the fathers, which had been given to this people from God with so great glory.

       Paul then did not reject circumcision as a damnable thing, neither did he by word or deed enforce the Jews to forsake it. For in 1 Corinthians 7:18 he saith: ‘If any man be called being circumcised, let him not add uncircumcision.’ But he rejected circumcision as a thing not necessary to righteousness, seeing the fathers themselves were not justified thereby, but it was unto them as a sign only, or a seal of righteousness (Romans 4:11), whereby they testified and exercised their faith. Notwithstanding, the believing Jews which were yet weak and bare a zeal to the law, hearing that circumcision was not necessary to righteousness, could understand this no otherwise, but that it was altogether unprofitable and damnable. And this fond opinion of the weak Jews the false apostles did increase, to the end that, the hearts of the people being stirred up against Paul by this occasion, they might thoroughly discredit his doctrine. So we at this day do not reject fasting and other good exercises as damnable things; but we teach that by these exercises we do not obtain remission of sins. When the people hear this, by and by they judge us to speak against good works.

       And this opinion the Papists do confirm and increase by their preachings and writings. But they lie, and do us great wrong. For many years past, there was never any that taught more sound and godly doctrine as touching good works, than we do at this day.

 

       Paul therefore did not so condemn circumcision, as though it were sin to receive it or keep it: for the Jews would have been highly offended: but it was decided in this conference and council, that it was not necessary to justification, and therefore not to be forced upon the Gentiles. So this moderation was found, that for the reverence of the fathers, and charity towards the weak in faith, the Jews should keep the law and circumcision still for a time; notwithstanding they should not thereby seek to be Justified. And moreover, that the Gentiles should not be burdened therewith, both because it would have been to them a very strange thing, and also a burden intolerable (Acts 15:10). Briefly, that none should be constrained to be circumcised, or any restrained from circumcision. Jerome and Augustine do sharply contend concerning this place of Paul.

       This word ‘was compelled’ maketh for the defense of Augustine. Jerome understood not the matter. For it is not here in dispute, what Peter or Paul did in the matter of circumcising or not circumcising, as Jerome thinketh.

       Wherefore he marvelleth how Paul durst reprehend in Peter that which he himself, did; for (saith he) Paul circumcised Timothy, and lived as a Gentile with the Gentiles and as a Jew with the Jews, etc. He thinketh it to be no serious matter that is here in dispute. Therefore he concludeth that neither had sinned; but he feigneth that both had dissembled with an official falsehood, But in truth, all these their disputings were and are serious and concerning matters of very great weight. Therefore they did nothing by dissimulation.

       Now this was the principal question: Whether the law be necessary to justification or no? Concerning this especial theme, whereon hangeth the whole sum of Christian doctrine, Paul and Peter do here contend. Paul was too grave a man to assail and rebuke Peter thus freely in the presence of the whole church of Antioch for the sake of a trifling matter. He assaileth him for the sake of the chief article of Christian doctrine. For when the Jews were absent, Peter ate with the Gentiles, but when the came, he withdrew himself, etc. There Paul reprehendeth him because by his dissimulation he compelled the Gentiles to do as the Jews. The whole force lieth in the word, ‘thou compellest.’ This Jerome seeth not.

       Paul therefore compelled none that would be circumcised, to remain uncircumcised, so that he knew circumcision not to be necessary to justification. This constraint would Paul take away. Therefore he suffered the Jews to keep the law, so that fa6a they did it with a free conscience. For he had ever taught, as well the Jews as the Gentiles, that in conscience they ought to be free from the law and circumcision; like as all the patriarchs and all the faithful in the Old Testament were free in conscience and justified by faith, and not by the law or circumcision. And indeed, Paul might have suffered Titus to be circumcised; but because he saw that they would compel him thereunto, he would not. For if they had prevailed therein, by and by they would have gathered that it had been necessary to justification, and so through this sufferance, they would have triumphed against Paul. So also we leave every man free to put on or put off a cowl, to enter or to leave a monastery, to eat flesh or herbs; only, let him do these things freely and without offense of conscience, to please a brother or as an example of charity; and let him know that all of these things avail nothing in the matter of satisfying for sins and obtaining grace, etc. But as in Paul’s time the false apostles would not leave circumcision and the observation of the law indifferent, but required the same as necessary to salvation, so at this day our adversaries do obstinately contend that men’s traditions cannot be omitted without peril of salvation: and thus of an example of charity, they make an example of faith, when notwithstanding there is but one example of faith, which is to believe in Jesus Christ. And this, as it is alone necessary to salvation, so doth it also indifferently pertain to all men. Notwithstanding the adversaries would rather worship the devil ten times instead of God, than they would suffer this. Therefore they are daily hardened more and more, and seek to establish their impieties and blasphemies against God, defending the same by force and tyranny, and will not agree or consent unto us in any point. But what then? Let us go on boldly in the name of the Lord of Hosts, setting forth the glory of Jesus Christ and fighting valiantly against the kingdom of Antichrist by the Word and by prayer, that the name of God alone may be sanctified, that his kingdom may come, and that his will may be done (Matthew 6:9 f.).

       And that this may speedily come to pass, we desire even from the bottom of our hearts, and say, Amen, Amen.

       This triumph of Paul therefore was very glorious: namely, that Titus who was a Gentile, although he were in the midst of the Apostles and all the faithful, where this question was so vehemently debated, was yet not constrained to be circumcised. This victory Paul carrieth away, and saith that in this conference it was decided by the consent of all the Apostles, the whole Church also approving the same, that Titus should not be circumcised. This is a strong argument, and maketh very much against the false apostles. And with this argument, ‘Neither was Titus corn-peeled to be circumcised,’ Paul was able to repress and mightily to convince all his adversaries. As if he should say: Why do these counterfeit apostles so falsely report of me, saying that I am compelled to keep circumcision by the commandment of the Apostles, seeing I have the witness of all the faithful in Jerusalem, and moreover of the Apostles themselves, that by my pursuit and travail the contrary was there determined? And I did not only there prevail that Titus should not be circumcised, but the Apostles also did approve and ratify the same. Your counterfeit apostles therefore do lie deadly, which slander me under the name of the Apostles, and thereby deceive you; for I have the Apostles and all the faithful, not against me, but with me; and this I prove by the example of Titus.

       Notwithstanding, Paul, as I have often said, did not condemn circumcision as an unprofitable thing, neither constrained he any man thereunto. For it is neither sin nor righteousness to be circumcised or uncircumcised, as it is neither sin nor righteousness to eat or drink. For whether thou eat or eat not, thou art neither better nor worse (1 Corinthians 8:8). But if any man should add thereto either sin or righteousness, and say: If thou eat thou sinnest, if thou abstain thou art righteous (or the contrary), he should show himself both foolish and wicked. Therefore to join ceremonies with sin or righteousness, is great impiety: as the Pope doth, who in his form of excommunication threateneth to all those that do not obey the law of the Bishop of Rome, the peril of their souls, and so maketh all his laws necessary to salvation. Wherefore the devil himself speaketh in the person Of the Pope and in all such decrees of the Pope. For if salvation consisteth in keeping of the Pope’s laws, what need have we of Christ to be our justifier and Savior?

Because of the false brethren that crept in, who came in privily to espy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage. To whom we gave not place by subjection for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you

Here Paul sheweth the cause why he went up to Jerusalem, and there conferred his Gospel with the other Apostles, and why he would not circumcise Titus: not that he might be the more certain, or confirmed in the Gospel by the Apostles, for he nothing doubted thereof: but that the truth of the Gospel might continue in the churches of the Galatians, and in all the churches of the Gentiles. We see then. that the business of Paul was no light matter.

       Now, where he speaketh of the truth of the Gospel, he sheweth that there be two gospels, a true and a false gospel. Indeed, the Gospel of itself is one, simple, true, and sincere: but by the malice of Satan’s ministers it is corrupt and defaced. Therefore where he saith: ‘the truth of the Gospel,’ he would have us to understand also the contrary. As if he would say: The false apostles do also preach a faith and a gospel, but they are both false; therefore have I set myself so constantly against them. And in that I would not give place unto them, this have I brought to pass, that the truth of the Gospel continueth with you. So the Pope and the fantastical spirits do brag at this day, that they teach the Gospel and faith in Christ. True it is: but with such fruit as the false apostles once did, whom Paul calleth before in the first chapter, troublers of the churches and subverters of the Gospel of Christ. On the other side, he saith that he teacheth the truth of the Gospel As if he should say: Those things which the false apostles teach, brag they never so much that they teach the truth, are nothing else but stark lies. So all heretics pretend the name of God, of Christ, of the Church, etc. Also they pretend that they will not teach errors or lies, but most certain truth and the purest Gospel of Christ.

       Now the truth of the Gospel is, that our righteousness cometh by faith alone, without the works of the law. The corruption or falsehood of the Gospel is, that we are justified by faith, but not without the works of the law. With this condition annexed, the false apostles preached the Gospel.

       Even so do our sophisters and Papists at this day. For they say that we must believe in Christ, and that faith is the foundation of our salvation: but it justifieth not, except it be furnished with charity. This is not the truth of the Gospel, but falsehood and dissimulation. But the true Gospel indeed is, that works of charity are not the ornament or perfection of faith: but that faith of itself is God’s gift and God’s work in our hearts, which therefore justifieth us, because it apprehendeth Christ our redeemer. Man’s reason hath the law for his object, thus thinking with itself: This I have done, this I have not done. But faith being in her own proper office, hath no other object but Jesus Christ the Son of God, delivered to death for the sins of the whole world It looketh not to charity; it saith not What have I done?

       What have I offended? What have I deserved? But [it saith]: What hath Christ done? What hath he deserved? Here the truth of the Gospel answereth thee: He hath redeemed thee from sin, from tile devil, and from eternal death. Faith therefore acknowledgeth that in this one person, Jesus Christ, it hath forgiveness of sins and eternal life. He that turneth his eyes away from this object, hath no true faith, but a fantasy and a vain opinion, and turneth his eyes from the promise to the law, which terrifieth and driveth to desperation.

       Wherefore those things which the popish schoolmen have taught concerning the justifying faith being furnished with charity, are nothing else but mere dreams. For that faith which apprehendeth Christ the Son of God, and is furnished with him, is the same faith that justifieth, and not the faith W rich includeth charity. For faith, if it is to be sure and steadfast, must lay hold upon nothing else but Christ alone, and in the conflict and terrors of conscience it hath nothing else to lean unto, but this precious pearl Christ Jesus. Wherefore he that apprehendeth Christ by faith, although he be never so much terrified with the law, and oppressed with the weight of his sins, yet may he be bold to glory that he is righteous. How, or by what means? Even by that precious jewel Christ Jesus, which he possesseth by faith. This our adversaries understand not, and therefore they cast away this precious pearl Christ, and in his place they set charity, which they say is their precious jewel. Now, when they cannot tell what faith is, it is impossible that they should have faith; much less can they teach it unto others. And as for that which they will seem to have, it is nothing else but natural reason, an opinion, a very dream, and no faith.

       This I say, to the end ye may perceive and note that by these words, ‘the truth of the Gospel,’ Paul vehemently reproveth the contrary. For thereby he reprehendeth the false apostles, because they had taught a false gospel, requiring circumcision and the observation of the law as necessary to salvation, Moreover, they went about by wonderful craft and subtilty to entrap Paul; for they watched him narrowly, to see whether he would circumcise Titus or no; also, whether he durst withstand them in the presence of the Apostles: and for this cause he reprehendeth them bitterly. ‘They went about,’ saith he, ‘to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.’ Wherefore the false apostles armed themselves on every side, that they might convince and confound him before the whole congregation. Besides this, they went about to abuse the authority of the Apostles, in whose presence they accused him, saying’ Paul hath brought Titus, being uncircumcised, into the company of all the faithful; he denieth and condemneth the law in your presence, which are Apostles. If he dare be so bold to attempt this here and before you, what will not he attempt in your absence among the Gentiles?

       Wherefore when he perceived that he was so craftily assailed, he strongly withstood the false apostles, saying: We did not suffer our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus to come in danger, although the false brethren sought by all means to snare us and put us to much trouble; but we overcame them even by the judgment of the Apostles themselves, and we would not yield unto them, no not one hour (for, no doubt, their drift was to have caused Paul to surcease from this liberty at least for a time), since we saw that they required the observation of the law as necessary to salvation. But if they had alleged nothing else but charitable bearing with the brethren, no doubt but Paul would have given them place. But it was another thing that they sought: to wit, that they might bring Paul, and all that stuck to his doctrine, into bondage. Therefore he would not yield unto them, no, not the space of one moment.

       In like manner do we also offer to the Papists all that is to be offered, yea and more than we ought. Only we except the liberty of conscience which we have in Christ Jesus. For we will not be compelled or suffer our consciences to be bound to any work, so that by doing this thing or that, we should be righteous, or leaving the same undone we should be damned.

       We are contented to eat the same meats that they eat, we will keep their feasts and fasting days, so they will suffer us to do the same with a free conscience, and leave these threatening words, wherewith they have terrified and brought under their subjection the whole world, saying: We command, we charge, we charge again, we excommunicate, etc. But this liberty we cannot obtain; like as Paul also could not in his time. Therefore we do as he did. For when he saw that he could not obtain this liberty, he would not give place to the false apostles even the space of one hour.

       Wherefore, like as our adversaries will not leave this free unto us, that only faith in Chris justifieth: so on the other side, neither will we nor can we give place unto them, that faith furnished with charity justifieth. Here we will and we ought also to be rebellious and obstinate against them, for else we should lose the truth of the Gospel: we should lose our liberty which we have, not in the emperor, not in the kings and princes, not in the Pope, not in the world, not in flesh, blood, reason etc., but which we have in Christ Jesus. We should lose faith in Christ, which, as before I have said, apprehendeth nothing else but that precious jewel Christ Jesus. This faith, whereby we are regenerate, justified, and engrafted into Christ, if our adversaries will leave unto us sound and uncorrupt, we offer unto them that we will do all things, so that they be not contrary to this faith. But because we cannot obtain this at their hands, we again for our part will not yield unto them one hair’s breadth. For the matter Which we have in hand is weighty and of great importance, even touching the death of the Son of God: who by the will and commandment of the Father was made flesh, was crucified, and died for the sins of the world. If faith here give place, then is this death, resurrection etc. of the Son of God in vain: then is it but a fable that Christ is the Savior of the world: then is God found a liar, because he hath not performed that he promised. Our stoutness therefore in this matter is godly and holy; for by it we seek to preserve our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, and thereby to retain the truth of the Gospel ;. which if we lose, then do we also lose God, Christ, all the promises, faith, righteousness, and everlasting life.

       But here will some man say: The law is divine and holy. Let the law have his glory; but yet no law, be it never so divine and holy, ought to teach me that I am justified and shall live through it. I grant, it may teach me that I ought to love God and my neighbor; also to live in chastity, soberness, patience, etc.; but it ought not to shew me how I should be delivered from sin, the devil, death and hell. Here I must take counsel of the Gospel, I must hearken to the Gospel, which teacheth me, not what I ought to do (for that is the proper office of the Law), but what Jesus Christ the Son of God hath done for me: to wit, that he suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. The Gospel willeth me to receive this, and to believe it. And this is the truth of the Gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consisteth. Most necessary it is therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually. For as it is very tender, so it is soon hurt. This Paul had well tried, and of this have all the godly also good experience.

       To conclude, Paul would not circumcise Titus, and (as he saith) for no other cause, but for that certain false brethren were crept in, to espy out their liberty, and would have constrained Paul to circumcise Titus. Paul seeing this constraint and necessity, would give no place, no, not for one hour, but strongly resisted them; and therefore he saith: ‘Neither Titus which was with me, being a Gentile, was compelled to be circumcised’ etc. (Galatians 2:3). If they had required this in the way of brotherly charity, doubtless he would not have denied it. But seeing they would have done it as a necessary thing, and that by compulsion, to the evil example of others, to the overthrowing of the Gospel, and to bring men’s consciences into bondage, therefore he set himself mightily against them, and prevailed so, that Titus was not circumcised.

       It may seem but a small matter to be circumcised, or not circumcised. But when a man hath an affiance in keeping of it, or else is in fear for not keeping of it, here God is denied, Christ is rejected, the grace and all the promises of God are refused. But if .circumcision be kept without this addition, there is no danger. If the Pope would in this sort require of us the keeping of his traditions, as bare ceremonies, it should not be so grievous unto us to keep them. For what labor were it to wear a cowl, or to go about with a shaven crown, seeing we otherwise use ceremonies? But to add there: to this great evil, that in this trifle, nay, this thing of naught, there lieth either life or death everlasting, it is devilish and blasphemous.

       In this matter, whosoever thou art that keepest silence, be thou anathema.

       I will eat, drink, wear the cowl, and do whatsoever the Pope desireth, only so that he will suffer all these things to be free. But seeing he will exact them as necessary to salvation, binding consciences to them and placing the service of God in them, here we must by all means resist. It doeth no hurt to carve wood, stone, a statue, but to set it up for the service of God, and to attribute divinity to the wood, stone, or statue, this is to worship an idol in the place of God. Therefore we must diligently consider what matter Paul hath in hand, lest we speak foolishly as Jerome doth, who supposed the question and disputation to be about the things themselves.

       In this he erred. For the question is not whether wood is wood, or stone is stone, but it concerneth the addition, that is to say, the use of the things: to wit, whether this wood is God, whether divinity dwelleth in this stone.

       Here we answer that wood is wood, etc. So ‘circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing,’ saith Paul (1 Corinthians 7:19), but to place righteousness, the fear of God, the confidence of salvation, the fear of death, in these things, it is to attribute divinity to ceremonies. Therefore not an hair’s breadth must we yield to our adversaries, as Paul yielded not to the false apostles; for neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, nor tonsure, nor cowl pertaineth unto righteousness, but grace only and alone. This is ‘the truth of the Gospel.’

But of them which seemed to be somewhat (what they were in times past) it is no matter. To me) etc.

His speech is elliptical, for there are wanting the words: ‘I received nothing.’ But it is a light fault in the Holy Ghost speaking in Paul if he offendeth somewhat against the grammar. He speaketh with great fervency, and he that is fervent cannot so exactly in speaking observe grammatical rules and rhetorical precepts.

       Now this is a vehement and a stout Confutation. For he giveth not to the true Apostles themselves any glorious title; but as it were abasing their dignity, he saith: ‘Which seemed to be somewhat,’ that is, which were in authority, upon whom the determination of all matters depended.

       Notwithstanding, the authority of the Apostles was indeed very great in all the churches, and Paul also did not seek any whir to diminish their authority. But he thus contemptuously answereth the false apostles, which set the authority and dignity of the Apostles against Paul in all the churches, that thereby they might weaken his authority, and bring his whole ministry into suspicion. This Paul might not suffer. To the end, therefore, that the truth of the Gospel and liberty of conscience in Christ might continue among the Galatians, and in all the churches of the Gentiles, he answereth stoutly to the false apostles, that he passed not how great the Apostles were, or what they had been in times past; and whereas they alleged the authority of the name of the Apostles against him, it touched him nothing at all. He confesseth that the Apostles are indeed somewhat, and their authority is to be reverenced: notwithstanding, his Gospel and ministry ought not to be overthrown for the name or title of any, how great soever he be, whether an Apostle, or an angel from heaven.

       And this was one of the greatest arguments that the false apostles used against Paul. The Apostles, said they, were familiarly conversant with Christ for the space of three years. They heard and Saw all his preachings and miracles. Moreover, they themselves preached and wrought miracles while Christ was yet living in the world: whom Paul never saw in the flesh, and as touching his conversion, it was long after the glorification of Christ.

       Wherefore they should now consider which of these they ought more to believe: Paul which was but one and alone, and also but a disciple, yea and one of the last of all; or the chiefest and most excellent Apostles, which long before Paul were sent and confirmed by Christ himself. To this Paul answereth: What of all this? This argument concludeth nothing. Let the Apostles be never so great, yea let them be angels from heaven, it is no matter to me. The controversy is not here concerning the excellency of the Apostles, but concerning the Word of God and the truth of the Gospel.

       This ought to be kept pure and uncorrupt; this ought to be preferred above all things. Therefore how great Peter and the other Apostles have been, what great miracles they have wrought, it is no matter to me. This is it that I only seek, even that the truth of the Gospel may continue among you.

       This seemeth to be but a slender answer of Paul, when of purpose he so condemneth the authority of the Apostles, which the false apostles alleged against him, and giveth no other solution to their mighty argument than this: It is no matter to me. Notwithstanding, he addeth a reason of the confutation:

God accepteth no man’s person

This place he allegeth out of Moses, who useth the same, not once but many times: ‘Thou shalt not accept in judgment the person of the rich man or of the poor’ (Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17). And this is a principle of divinity: ‘God is no accepter of persons’ (Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Romans 2:11; Acts 10:34; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25). With the which saying he stoppeth the mouths of the false apostles. As though he would say: Ye set those against me which seem to be somewhat; but God careth not for such things. He regardeth not the office of an Apostle, or Bishop, or Prince. It is not the dignity or authority of men that he looketh upon. And in token hereof, he suffered Judas, one of the chiefest Apostles, and Saul one of the greatest kings, yea and the first of all, to fall away and to be damned.

       Ishmael also and Esau he refused, being both first-born. So shall you find throughout all the whole Scripture, that God oftentimes, rejected those which in outward shew were very .good and holy men. And in these examples God seemeth sometimes to be cruel; but it was most necessary that such fearful examples should be shewn, and also be written. For this vice is naturally grafted in us, that we highly esteem the persons and dignity of men, and more regard the same than the Word of God. Contrariwise God will have us to fix our eyes, and to rest wholly upon the Word itself; he will not have us to reverence and adore the apostleship in the persons of Peter and Paul, but Christ speaking in them, and the Word which they bring and preach unto us.

       This the natural man cannot see: but the spiritual man only discerneth the person from the Word, the veil of God from God himself. Now this veil of God is every creature. Moreover, God here in this life dealeth not with us face to face, but veiled and shadowed from us; that is, as Paul saith in another place: ‘We see him now through a glass darkly: but then face to face’ life (1 Corinthians 13:12). Therefore we cannot be without veils in this life. But here wisdom is required, which can discern the veil from God himself; and this wisdom the world hath not. The covetous man, hearing that man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4), eateth the bread, but he seeth not God in the bread; for he beholdeth the veil only [and outward shew]. So he doth with gold and other creatures, trusting to them so long as he hath them: but when they leave him, he despaireth. And thus he honoreth not the Creator, but the creatures, not God, but his own belly.

       This I speak, lest any man should think that Paul utterly condemneth these [outward] veils or persons. For he saith not, that there ought to be no person, but that there is no respect of persons with God. There must be persons and outward veils; God hath given them, and they are his good creatures; but we must not worship them. All the matter as in the using of things, and not in the things themselves, as before I have said. There is no fault in circumcision or uncircumcision (‘for circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing’), but in the use thereof. To worship circumcision and put righteousness in it, and unrighteousness in uncircumcision, that use is damnable, and ought to be taken away: which being removed, both circumcision and uncircumcision are good things.

       So the prince, the magistrate, the preacher, the school-master, the scholar, the father, the mother, the children, the master, the servant, are persons and [outward] veils, which God will have us to acknowledge, love, and reverence as his creatures, which also must needs be had in this life; but he will not have us to worship them, that is, so to reverence them that we trust unto them and forget him. And to the end that we should not too much magnify the [outward] persons, or put any trust in them, God leaveth in them offenses and sins, yea great and foul sins, to teach us what difference there is between the person and God himself. David, that good king, because he should not seem to be a person upon whom men should trust, fell into horrible sins, adultery and murder. Peter, that excellent Apostle, denied Christ. These and such-like examples, whereof the Scripture is full, ought to warn us, that we repose not our trust in the person [and outward veil], nor think that when we have the person we have all things; as it is in popery, where they judge all things according to the outward veil, and therefore all popery is nothing else but a mere respecting of persons. God hath given his creatures to our use, and to do us service, and not as idols, that we should do service unto them. Let us then use bread, wine, apparel, possessions, gold, silver, and all other creatures. But let us not trust or glory in them; for we must trust and glory in God alone. He only is to be loved, he only is to be feared and honored.

       Paul calleth here the apostleship or office of the Apostles (which wrought, many and great miracles, taught and converted many to the faith, and were also familiar with Christ) the person of man.

       Briefly, this word ‘person’ comprehendeth the whole outward conversation of the Apostles, which was holy, and their authority, which was great.

       Notwithstanding, saith he, God esteemeth not these things; not that he esteemeth them not at all, but in the matter of justification he regardeth them not, be they never so great and so glorious. For we must diligently mark this distinction, that in matters of divinity we must speak far otherwise than in matters of policy. In matters of policy, as I have said, God will have us to honor and reverence these outward veils or persons as his instruments by whom he governeth and preserveth the world. But when the question is as touching religion, conscience, the fear of God, faith, and the service of God, we must not fear these outward persons, we must put no trust in them, look for no comfort from them, or hope deliverance by them, either corporally or spiritually. For this cause God will have no respect of persons in judgment; for judgment is a divine thing. Wherefore I ought neither to fear the judge, nor trust in the judge; but my fear and trust ought to be in God alone, who is the true Judge. The civil judge or magistrate, I ought indeed to reverence for God’s cause, whose minister he is: but my conscience may not stay or trust upon his justice and equity, or be feared through his unjust dealing or tyranny, whereby I might fall into any offense against God, in lying, in bearing false witness, in denying the truth, etc. Otherwise I will reverence and honor the magistrate with all my heart.

       So I would also honor the Pope and love his person, if he would leave my conscience free, and not compel me to sin against God. But he will so be feared and adored, as cannot be done without offense to the majesty of God. Here since we must needs lose the one, let us lose the person and stick to God. We could be content to suffer the dominion of the Pope, but because he abuseth the same so tyrannously against us, and would compel us to deny and blaspheme God, and him only to acknowledge as our lord and master, clogging our consciences, and spoiling us of fear and trust which we should have in God, therefore we are compelled by the commandment of God to resist the Pope; for it is written: ‘We must rather obey God than men’ (Acts 5:29). Therefore, without offense of conscience, which is our singular comfort, we contemn the authority of the Pope. Muntzer and other mad heads desired the destruction of the Pope, but they sought to accomplish this with arms, not with the Word; and so they withstood him for the sake of his person, and not for God’s sake. We for our part would gladly shew favor to Behemoth and his scales, with all the persons and dignities which they have, if they would but leave us Christ. But because we cannot obtain this of them, we contemn their persons’ and say boldly with Paul: ‘God respecteth no man’s person.’ There is a certain vehemency therefore to be noted in the word ‘God.’ For in the cause of religion and the Word of God, there must be no respect of persons. But out of religion, and in matters of policy, we must have regard to the person: for otherwise there must needs follow confusion and an end of all reverence and order, In this world God will have an order, a reverence, and a difference of persons. For else the child, the scholar, the servant, the subject would say: I am a Christian as well as my father, my school-master, my master, my prince; why then should I reverence him?

       Before God, then, mere is no respect of persons, neither of Grecian nor of Jew, but all are one in Christ; although not so before the world.

       Thus Paul confuteth the argument of the false apostles as touching the authority of the Apostles, and saith that it is nothing to the purpose. For the question is not here concerning the respect of persons, but there is a far weightier matter in hand, that is to say, a divine matter concerning God and his Word, and whether this Word ought to be preferred before the apostleship or no. Whereunto Paul answereth: So that the truth of the Gospel may continue, so that the Word of God and the righteousness of faith may be kept pure and uncorrupt, let the apostleship go, let an angel from heaven, let Peter, let Paul altogether perish.

Nevertheless they that seemed to be the chief, did communicate nothing with me

As though he would say I did not so confer with the Apostles, that they taught me any thing. For what should they teach me, since Christ by his revelation had before sufficiently taught me all things, and since I have now preached the Gospel the space of eighteen years among the Gentries, and Christ hath wrought so many miracles by me, whereby he hath confirmed my doctrine? Wherefore it was but a conference, and no disputation.

 

       Wherein I learned nothing, neither did I recant, nor yet defend my cause, but only declared what things I had done’ to wit, that I had preached to the Gentiles faith only in Christ, without the law, and that by this preaching of faith the Holy Ghost came down upon the Gentiles, which immediately spoke with divers tongues. Which thing when the Apostles heard, they witnessed that I had taught the truth; wherefore the false apostles do me great wrong, which pervert and turn all these things clean contrary. Now this pride of Paul, whereby he saith that the other Apostles communicated nothing unto him, is not a fault, but most necessary; for had he yielded here, the truth of the Gospel had perished. But if Paul would give no place to the false apostles, which set the authority of the true Apostles against him, much less ought we to give place to our adversaries, which have nothing else to brag of but the authority of their idol the Pope. I know that the godly ought to be humble, but against the Pope I will and I ought to be proud with an holy pride, and say: Thou Pope, I will not be subject unto thee; I will not take thee for my master, for I am sure that my doctrine is true and godly. But the Pope will not hear this doctrine; nay, he would force me to obey his laws and his decrees, and if I will not, he will by and by excommunicate and condemn me as a heretic and deserter of the Church. Such pride therefore against the Pope is most necessary. And if we should not be thus stout and proud, and in the Holy Ghost utterly condemn both him with all his doctrine, and the devil, the father of lies, speaking in him, we should never be able to defend this article of the righteousness of faith. We do not then contemn the authority of the Pope because we would bear rule over him, neither would we go about to exalt ourselves above all sovereign power, since it is evident that we teach all men to humble and submit themselves to the higher powers ordained of God; but this is it that we only seek, that the glory of God may be maintained, and the righteousness of faith may be kept pure and sound.

       Wherefore, if the Pope will grant unto us, that God alone by his mere grace through Christ doth justify sinners, we will not only carry him in our hands, but will also kiss his feet. But since we cannot obtain this, we again in God are proud against him above measure, and will give no place, no, not one hair’s breadth, to all the angels in heaven, not to Peter, not to Paul, not to an hundred emperors, nor to a thousand popes, nor to the whole world. Be it far from us that we should here humble ourselves, since they would take from us our glory, even God himself that hath created us and given us all things, and Jesus Christ who hath redeemed us with his blood. Let this be then the conclusion of all together, that we will suffer our goods to be taken away, our name, our life, and all that we have; but the Gospel, our faith, Jesus Christ, we will never suffer to be wrested from us. And cursed be that humility which here abaseth and submitteth itself. Nay rather let every Christian man here be proud and spare not, except he will deny Christ.

       Wherefore, God assisting me, my forehead shall be more hard than all men’s foreheads. Here I take upon me this rifle, according to the proverb: cedo nulli, I give place to none. Yea, I am glad even with all my heart, in this point to seem rebellious and obstinate. And here I confess that I am and ever will be stout and stern, and will not one inch give place to any creature. Charity giveth place, for it ‘beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things’ (1 Corinthians 13:7), but faith giveth no place, yea it can suffer nothing, according to this ancient verse: Non patitur ludum fama, fides, oculus; that is, Man’s good name, his faith, and his eye, will not be dallied withal. Wherefore, a Christian, as touching his faith, can never be too proud nor too stout, neither must he relent or give place, no, not the breadth of one hair: for faith maketh a man here like unto God (2 Peter 1:4): but God suffereth nothing, he giveth place to none, for he is immutable; so is faith immutable, and therefore may suffer nothing, give place to no man. But as touching charity, let a Christian man yield and suffer all things, for therein he is but a man.

But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter (for he that was mighty by Peter in the apostleship of the circumcision, was also mighty by me towards the gentiles), &c.

With these words Paul mightily confuteth the false apostles, for here he challengeth to himself the same authority which the false apostles attributed to the true Apostles; and he useth here a figure which is called an inversion, returning their argument against themselves. The false apostles, saith he, do allege against me the authority of the great Apostles, to maintain their cause; but I, contrariwise, do allege the same against them for my defense, for the Apostles are on my side. Wherefore, O my Galatians, believe not these counterfeit apostles, which brag so much of the authority of the Apostles against me. For the Apostles, when they saw the Gospel of the uncircumcision to be committed to me, and knew of the grace that to me was given, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, approving my. ministry and giving thanks unto God for the gifts which I had received. Thus he returneth the argument of the false apostles upon themselves. And in these words there is an ardent vehemency, and more contained in matter, than in words is able to be expressed. Wherefore also it cometh to pass that Paul, forgetting the grammar, hath confounded the construction.

       Now when he saith: ‘which were reputed to be pillars,’ this was no empty shew, but they were in very truth held to be pillars. For the Apostles were reverenced and honored throughout the whole Church, and with them was the authority to approve and publish the doctrine of the truth, and to condemn the contrary. This is a very notable text, wherein Paul saith that the Gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto him, and of the circumcision unto Peter, when notwithstanding, Paul almost everywhere preached to the Jews in their synagogues, and Peter likewise to the Gentiles. There are examples and testimonies of both in the Acts. Peter converted the Centurion with his family, which was a Gentile (Acts 10:1 ff.). He wrote also to the Gentiles, as his first Epistle testifieth. Paul, preaching Christ among the Gentiles, entereth notwithstanding into the synagogues of the Jews, and there preacheth the Gospel (Acts 9:20; etc.). And our Savior Christ, in Matthew and Mark, commandeth his Apostles to go throughout the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15). Paul likewise saith: ‘the Gospel preached to every creature which is under heaven’ (Colossians 1:23). Why then doth he call himself the Apostle of the Gentiles, and Peter with the other, the Apostles of the circumcision?

       Paul hath respect unto this, that the other Apostles remained specially in Judea and Jerusalem, until God called them .unto other places. Thus stood the matter then for the time, that while the political state of the Jews continued, the Apostles still remained m Judaea; but when the destruction of Jerusalem approached, they were dispersed throughout the whole world.

       But Paul, as it is written in the Acts (13:2), by a singular vocation was chosen to be the Apostle of the Gentiles, and being sent out of Judaea, he traveled through the countries of the Gentiles. Now were the Jews dispersed almost throughout the whole world, and dwelt here and there in cities and other places among the Gentiles. Paul coming thither, was wont to go into the synagogues of the Jews, and by this occasion he first brought unto them, as the children of the kingdom, this glad tidings, that the promises made unto the fathers were accomplished by Jesus Christ. When they would not hear this, he turned to the Gentiles, as Luke witnesseth, Acts 13:46, where he bringeth in Paul thus boldly speaking against the Jews: ‘It was necessary that we should first preach the word of God unto you; but seeing ye reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo! we turn to the Gentiles;’ and Acts 28:28: ‘Be it known therefore unto you, that this salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they shall hear it.’ Wherefore, Paul was sent specially unto the Gentiles.

       But because he was a debtor unto all, and became all things unto all men, therefore occasion being offered, he went into the synagogues of the Jews, where not only the Jews, but also the Gentiles, heard him preaching Christ.

       Otherwhiles, he preached publicly in the market-place, in houses, and by the rivers’ sides. He was specially then the Apostle of the Gentiles, as Peter was of the Jews; who, notwithstanding, preached Christ to the Gentiles also when occasion was offered.

 

       And here he calleth uncircumcision the Gentiles, and circumcision the Jews, by a figure named synecdoche, which under a part comprehendeth the whole; which figure is commonly used m the Scripture: the Gospel then of the uncircumcision, is that which was appointed to be sent unto the Gentiles. This Gospel, saith he, was committed unto him, as the Gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; for as Peter preached the Gospel among the Jews, so did he among the Gentiles. Here it is to be noted, that the Hebrews take the genitive construction variously, now actively, now passively ; which oftentimes obscureth the sense. Examples are to be found everywhere in Paul and in the whole Scripture; as for example this phrase, ‘the glory of God,’ which is not a little obscure, since it can be interpreted both actively and passively.

       Actively, the glory of God is that glory which God hath in himself; passively, it is that wherewith we glory in God. Likewise fides Christi, or ‘the faith of Christ,’ etc. We for the most part interpret such phrases passively, thus: the faith of Christ is that wherewith Christ is believed. In like manner, ‘the Gospel of God’ is taken actively, as that which God alone giveth and sendeth into the world, but ‘the Gospel of the circumcision and of the uncircumcision’ is taken passively, as that which is sent to the Gentiles and the Jews and is received of them. Now Paul meaneth nothing else but that the Gospel of the uncircumcision, that is to say, the Gospel which was to be sent to the Gentiles, had been committed unto him, like as the Gospel of the circumcision had been committed unto Peter.

       This he often repeateth, that Peter, James, and John, which seemed to be the pillars of the church, taught him nothing, nor committed unto him the office of preaching the Gospel, as having authority and rule over him.

       But they themselves, saith he, did see that the Gospel was committed unto me, but not by Peter; for as I did not receive or learn the Gospel of man, so did I receive no commandment by man to preach the same, but both the knowledge and the commandment to preach it among the Gentiles, I received immediately from Christ; like as the charge was given of God unto Peter to preach the same among the Jews.

       This place witnesseth very plainly that the Apostles had like calling, like charge, and all one Gospel. Peter preached no other Gospel than the rest of the Apostles did, neither did he appoint to others their charge and office; but there was an equality among them all, for they were all taught and called of God, that is, both their vocation and charge was wholly and immediately from God. There was none, therefore, greater than other, none that had any prerogative above other. And therefore, when the Pope vaunteth that Peter was the chief of the Apostles, that thereby he might confirm and establish his primacy, it is an impudent lie.

For he that was mighty by Peter etc.

This is a confutation of another argument of the false apostles. Why do the false apostles boast, saith he, that the Gospel of Peter was mighty, that he converted many, that he wrought many and great miracles, raised up the dead, and with his shadow healed the sick? (Acts 5:15). I grant all these things to be true: but Peter received this power from heaven. God gave a virtue to his word, so that many did believe him, and great miracles were wrought by him. The same power had I also; which I received not of Peter, but the same God and the same Spirit which was mighty in Peter, was mighty in me also. I had the same grace; I taught many; I wrought many miracles, and through my shadow also I healed the sick. And this Luke testifieth in these words: ‘And God wrought no small miracles by the hands of Paul, so that from his body were brought unto the sick napkins and handkerchiefs, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them’ (Acts 19:11 f.). Read more hereof in Acts 13,16,20,28.

       To conclude, Paul will be counted in no point inferior to the rest of the Apostles; and herein he glorieth with a godly and a holy pride. Necessity constrained him stoutly to withstand Peter, and the burning zeal he had for the glory of God moved him so to do. Certain profane spirits, as Julian and Porphyrius, not considering this, thought it to be but a carnal pride that caused Paul thus to do; such as at this day we see in the Pope and his bishops. But Paul had not here his own business in hand, but a matter of faith. Now, as concerning faith we ought to be invincible, and more hard, if it might be, than the adamant stone; but as touching charity, we ought to be soft, and more flexible than the reed or leaf that is shaken with the wind, and ready to yield to every thing. Therefore the controversy was not here touching the glory of Paul, but the glory of God, the Word of God, the true worship of God, true religion, and the righteousness of faith, to the end that these things might still remain pure and uncorrupt.

And when they knew of the grace that was given unto me, James and cephas and John (which were counted to be pillars) gave to me and to barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should preach unto the gentiles, and they unto the circumcision

That is to say, when they heard that I had received my calling and charge from God, to preach the Gospel among the Gentiles, and that God had wrought so many miracles by me; moreover, that so great a number of the Gentiles were come to the knowledge of Christ through my ministry, and that the Gentiles had received the Holy Ghost, without the law and circumcision, by the only hearing of faith; they glorified God for this grace which was given unto me.

       He calleth grace here, whatsoever he had received of God: to wit, that of a persecutor and waster of the Church he was made an Apostle, was taught by Jesus Christ, and enriched with spiritual gifts. And here withal he sheweth, that Peter gave testimony unto him that he was a true Apostle, sent and taught not by himself, nor by the other Apostles, but by God alone; and so he not only humbly acknowledged the ministry and authority of Paul, and the gifts of the Spirit which were in him, as heavenly things, but also approved and confirmed the same, and yet not as a superior and ruler, but as a brother and witness. James and John did likewise the same. Wherefore he concludeth that they which are esteemed for the chief pillars among the Apostles, are wholly with him, and not against him.

The right hands of fellowship

As if they should have said: We, O Paul, in preaching the Gospel, do agree with thee in all things; therefore in doctrine we are companions, and have fellowship together therein; that is to say, we have all one doctrine, for we preach one Gospel, one baptism, one Christ, and one faith. Wherefore we can teach or enjoin thee nothing, since there is one mutual consent betwixt us in all things. For we do not teach any other or more excellent things than thou dost; but the same gift which we have, we see to be in thee also, saving that to thee is committed the Gospel. of the uncircumcision, as the Gospel of the circumcision is unto us. But we conclude here, that neither uncircumcision nor circumcision ought to hinder our society and fellowship, since it is but one Gospel which we both preach. This place admonisheth us that there is but one and the same Gospel for both Gentiles and Jews, monks and laymen, young and old, men and women, etc. There is no respect of persons, but for all men the Word and doctrine is one and the same. Whosoever heareth and believeth it, is saved, no matter whether he be uncircumcised or circumcised.

       Hitherto Paul hath proved by manifest witness, not only from God, but also from man, that is to say, the Apostles, that he had truly and faithfully preached the Gospel. Therefore he sheweth that whatsoever the false apostles said to diminish his authority, is but feigned and forged matter, and that the testimony of the Apostles maketh for him, and not for the false apostles. But for that he is alone and without witness, therefore he addeth an oath, and calleth God to record that the things which he hath spoken are true.

Warning only that we should remember. The poor, which thing also I was diligent to do.

After the preaching of the Gospel, the office and charge of a true and faithful pastor is, to be mindful of the poor. For where the Church is, there must needs be poor; who for the most part are the only true disciples of the Gospel, as Christ saith: ‘The poor have the glad tidings of the Gospel preached unto them’ (Matthew 11:5) For the world and the devil do persecute the Church, and bring many to poverty, who are afterwards forsaken and despised of the world. Moreover, the world not only offendeth herein, but also is careless for the preservation of the Gospel, true religion, and the true service of God, there is none that will now take any care for the maintenance of the ministers of the Church, and erecting of schools; but for the erecting and establishing of false worship, superstition and idolatry, no cost was spared, but every man was ready to give most liberally and largely. And hereof came so many monasteries, so many cathedral churches, so many bishoprics in the Pope’s church, where all impiety reigned, With so great revenues provided for their sustentation; whereas now a whole city thinketh much to support one or two poor ministers and preachers of the. Gospel, which before, while the Pope and all impiety reigned, did sustain sundry monasteries of monks, friars, nuns, and whole swarms of massing priests etc. To be brief, true religion is ever in need, and Christ complaineth that he is hungry, thirsty, harborless, naked, and sick (Matthew 25:35). Contrariwise, false religion and impiety flourisheth and aboundeth With all worldly wealth and prosperity.

       Wherefore a true and faithful pastor must have a care of the poor also: and this care Paul here confesseth that he had.

And when Peter was come to Antiochia, I withstood him to his face: for he was to be blamed

Paul goeth on still in his confutation, saying that he not only hath for his defense the testimony of Peter and the other Apostles Which were at Jerusalem, but also that he withstood Peter in the presence of the whole church of Antioch. He sheweth here a matter not done in a corner, but in the face of the whole church. And this is a marvellous history, which hath given occasion of false accusation to many, as Porphyrius, Celsus, Julian and other, which charge Paul with pride, because he assailed the chief of the Apostles, and that in the face of the whole church; whereby (say they) he exceeded the bounds of Christian modesty and humility. But it is no marvel that they thus think and speak who perceive not the point of this disputation of Paul. For, as I before have said, he hath here no trifling matter in hand, but the chiefest article of all Christian doctrine. The utility and majesty whereof whoso rightly esteemeth, to him all other things shall seem but vile and nothing worth. For what is Peter? What is Paul? What is an angel from heaven? What are all other creatures to the article of justification? Which if we know, then are we in the clear light: but if we be ignorant thereof, then are we in most miserable darkness. Wherefore, if ye see this article impugned, or defaced, fear not to resist either Peter or an angel from heaven. For it cannot be sufficiently extolled. But Porphyrius and the others, beholding the great dignity of Peter, do admire his person and forget the majesty of this article. Paul doeth the contrary: he doth not sharply inveigh against Peter, but handleth him with reverence enough; but because he seeth the majesty of this article of justification to be in danger for the dignity of Peter, he taketh no account of his dignity, that he may keep the same pure and uncorrupt. For it is written: ‘He that loveth father or mother, or his own life more than me, is not worthy of me’ (Matthew 10:37).

       Wherefore we are not ashamed, for the defense of the truth, to be counted and called of the hypocrites, proud and obstinate, and such as will be only wise, will hear none, will give place to none. Here we must needs be obstinate and inflexible. For the cause why we offend man, that is to say, tread down the majesty of the person or of the world, is so great, that the sins which the world judgeth to be most heinous, are counted singular virtues before God. In that we love our parents, honor the magistrates, shew reverence to Peter and other ministers of the Word, we do well. But here we have in hand the cause neither of Peter, nor parents, nor magistrate, nor of the world, nor of any other creature, but of God himself.

       Here if I give no place to my parents, to the magistrate, or an angel from heaven, I do well. For what is the creature in respect of the Creator? Yea, what are all creatures, being compared unto him? Even as one drop of water in respect of the whole sea. Why then should I so highly esteem Peter, which is but a little drop, and set God aside, which is the whole sea?

       Let the drop therefore give place to the sea, and let Peter give place unto God. This I say to the end that ye should diligently weigh and consider the matter whereof Paul intreateth: for he intreateth of the Word of God, which can never be magnified enough. Augustine hath better weighed this matter than Jerome, who hath respect unto the dignity and authority of Peter, and reasoneth thus: Peter was the chief Apostle, therefore it was not meet that he should be reproved of Paul; and if Paul reproved him, he did but dissemble therein. Thus unto Paul he attributeth dissimulation, alleging that he feigned Peter to be reprovable to the end that he might promote his own apostleship and defend his Gentiles: but Peter he excuseth every way, and attributeth unto him the truth. This is a most untoward inversion of the text, which plainly declareth that Peter was reprovable and had strayed from the truth; also that other Jews had dissembled with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by them into that dissimulation. These plain words Jerome seeth not, for he sticketh only to this: Peter was an Apostle, therefore he was unreprovable and could not sin. To this sentence Augustine answereth, saying: It is not to be borne that there should be dissimulation in Paul, seeing he confirmeth with an oath that he speaketh the truth.

       Wherefore Jerome and Erasmus do injury to Paul, when they interpret these words: ‘to his face’ to mean: ‘on the face of it,’ that is, not from the heart, but in outward shew only; alleging that Paul resisted Peter, not sincerely, but with a necessary dissimulation, lest the Gentiles should be offended if he altogether kept silence. But ‘to his face’ signifieth ‘in his sight’; for he resisted Peter openly and not in a corner, Peter himself being present and the whole church standing by.

       And where he saith ‘to his face,’ this clause maketh specially against the venomous vipers and apostles of Satan, which slander those that are absent, and in their presence dare not once open their mouth; as the false apostles did, whom also here he toucheth by the way, which durst not speak evil of him in his presence, but in his absence slandered him most spitefully. So did not I (saith he) speak evil of Peter, but frankly and openly I withstood him, not of any colorable pretense, ambition, or other carnal affection, or disease of the mind, but because he was to be blamed and sharply removed.

       Here let other men debate whether an Apostle may sin or no: this say I, that we ought not to make Peter’s fault less than it was indeed. The prophets themselves have sometimes erred and been deceived. Nathan of his own spirit said unto David, that he should build the house of the Lord (2 Samuel 7:3). But this prophecy was by and by after corrected by a revelation from God, that it should not be David, because he was a man of war and had shed much blood, but his son Solomon, that should build up the house of the Lord. So did the Apostles err also: for they imagined that the kingdom of Christ should be carnal and worldly, as we may see in the first of the Acts, when they asked of Christ, saying: ‘Lord wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ (Acts 1:6); and Peter, although he heard this commandment of Christ: ‘Go into the whole world,’ etc. (Mark 16:15), had not gone unto Cornelius, if he had not been admonished by a vision (Acts 10:9 ff.) And in this matter he did not only err, but also committed a great sin, and if Paul had not resisted him, all the Gentiles which did believe, had been constrained to receive circumcision and to keep the law. The believing Jews also had been confirmed in their opinion: to wit, that the observation of these things were necessary to salvation; and by this means they had received again the law instead of the Gospel, Moses instead of Christ. And of all this great enormity and horrible sin, Peter by his dissimulation had been the only occasion. Therefore we may not attribute to the saints such perfection as though they could not sin.

       Luke witnesseth that there was such great dissension between Paul and Barnabas (which were put apart together for the ministry of the Gospel among the Gentiles, and had traveled through many regions and preached unto them the Gospel) that the one departed from the other. Here we must needs say, that there was a fault either in Paul or Barnabas. And doubtless it could not be, but that the discord was exceeding great which separated these two, being joined together in such a holy fellowship, as the text witnesseth. Such examples are written for our consolation. For it is a great comfort unto us, when we hear that even the saints, which have the Spirit of God, do sin. Which comfort they would take from us which say that the saints cannot sin.

       Samson, David, and many other excellent men, full of the Holy Ghost, fell into great sins; Job and Jeremiah curse the day of their nativity (Job 3:3 ff.; Jeremiah 20:14); Elijah and Jonah are weary of their life, and desire death (1 Kings 19:4; Jonah 4:8). Such errors and offenses of the saints, the Scripture setteth forth to the comfort of those that are afflicted and oppressed with desperation, and to the terror of the proud. No man hath so grievously fallen at any time, but he may rise again. And on the other side, no man taketh so fast footing, but he may fall. If Peter fell, I may likewise fall. If he rose again, I may also rise again. And such examples as these are, the weakhearted, and tender consciences ought to make much of, that they may the better understand what they pray for when they say: ‘Forgive us our trespasses,’ and: ‘I believe the forgiveness of sins.’ We have the self-same spirit of grace and prayer which the Apostles and all the saints had, neither had they any prerogative above us.

       We have the same gifts which they had, the same Christ, Baptism, Word, forgiveness of sins; all which they had no less need of than we have, and by the same are sanctified and saved as we be. And this I say against the monstrous commendations and praises wherewith the foolish sophisters and monks have adorned the saints, and have said that the Church is in such wise holy as being altogether without sin. indeed the Church is holy, as our faith confesseth : ‘I believe a holy church,’ etc.; and yet notwithstanding it hath sin. Therefore also it believeth the remission of sins, and prayeth : ‘Forgive us our debts’ (Matthew 6:12). Wherefore the Church is not said to be holy formally, as the wall is said to be white from the whiteness inhering. That inherent holiness is not enough, but Christ is its perfect and entire holiness; and where that which inhereth is not enough, Christ is enough.

For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the gentiles

The Gentiles which were converted to the faith did eat meats forbidden by the law, and Peter being conversant with the Gentiles which were converted, did eat with them, and drunk wine also which was forbidden, knowing that herein he did well, and therefore boldly transgressed the law with the Gentiles. Paul confesseth that he also did the like, when he saith, that he became as a Jew to the Jews, and to them that were without law, as though he were without law: that is to say, with the Gentiles he did eat and drink like a Gentile, and kept no law at all; with the Jews, according to the law, he abstained from all things forbidden in the law; for he labored to serve and please all men, that he might gain all (1 Corinthians 9:19 ff.).

       Wherefore Peter in eating and drinking with the Gentiles stoned not, but did well, and knew that it was lawful for him so to do. For he shewed by this transgression that the law was not necessary to righteousness, and also delivered the Gentiles from the observation of the law. For if it were lawful for Peter in one thing to break, the law, it was lawful for him to break it in all things. And Paul doth not here reprove Peter for his transgression, but for his dissimulation, as followeth.

But when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision

Here then ye see Peter’s offense, as Paul plainly setteth it forth. Paul accuseth him not of malice or ignorance, but of dissimulation and infirmity, in that he abstained from meats forbidden in the law, fearing lest the Jews which came from James should be offended thereby, and had more respect to the Jews than to the Gentiles. Hereby he gave occasion, as much as in him was, to overthrow Christian liberty and the truth of the Gospel. For in that he did withdraw and utterly separate himself, abstaining from meats forbidden in the law (which notwithstanding he had eaten of before), he ministered a scruple of conscience to the faithful, thus to gather upon his example: Peter abstaineth from meats forbidden in the law; therefore he that eateth meats forbidden in the law, sinneth and transgresseth the law; but he that abstaineth is righteous and keepeth the law, for else would not Peter have withdrawn himself; but because he hath done so, and of purpose refuseth those meats which before he did eat, it is a sure argument that such as eat against the law do sin, and such as abstain from meats which the law forbiddeth, do keep the law, and are justified thereby.

       Here note (as Jerome doth not), that the end of this act of Peter is reproved of Paul, and not the act itself; for the act in itself was not evil. To eat and drink, or not to eat or drink, is nothing; but the end, that is’ ‘if thou eat, thou sinnest; if thou abstain, thou art righteous,’ is evil. So circumcision of itself is good, but this end is evil: ‘if thou be not circumcised after the law of Moses, thou canst not be saved.’ Also to eat meats prohibited in the law, is not evil but this shrinking and dissimulation of Peter is evil. For it might be said: Peter abstaineth from meats forbidden in the law; wherefore if thou dost not likewise abstain, thou canst not be saved. This Paul might in no wise dissemble; for the truth of the Gospel was here in danger. To the end therefore that this truth might continue sound and uncorrupt, he resisted Peter to his face.

       And here we must make a distinction. For meats may be refused two manner of ways. First, for Christian charity’s sake. And herein there is no danger: for to bear with the infirmity of my brother, is good. So Paul himself both bid and taught. Secondly, by abstaining from them to obtain righteousness and salvation, and for not abstaining, to sin and to be damned. Here accursed be charity with all the service and works of charity whatsoever. For thus to refrain from meats, is to deny Christ, to tread his blood under our feet, to blaspheme the Holy Ghost, and to despise God and all holy things. Wherefore, if we must lose the one, let us rather lose man our friend and brother, than God our Father. For if we lose God our Father, man our friend and brother cannot continue.

       Jerome, not seeing this, understood neither this place nor the whole Epistle besides. He thinketh this to be but a feigned reprehension of Paul, and therefore he excuseth Peter’s fall, saying that it was done by ignorance. But Peter offended not through ignorance, but through dissimulation, and thereby had established the necessity of the law, had constrained both Gentiles and Jews to revolt from the truth of the Gospel, had given them great occasion to forsake Christ, to deny grace, to return to the Jewish religion, and to bear all the burdens of the law, if Paul had not reproved him, and by that means revoked the Gentiles and Jews which were offended through this example of Peter, to the liberty which is in Christ Jesus, and to the truth of the Gospel. Wherefore if a man would here set forth and amplify Peter’s offense, it should appear to be very great, and yet was it not done by malice or ignorance, but by occasion and fear only.

       Thus we see what ruins may come by one man’s fall and offense, if it be not well seen to and corrected in time. Wherefore, we may not trifle with this article of justification; neither is it without good cause that we do so often and so diligently put you in mind thereof.

       And it is much to be marveled that Peter, being such an excellent Apostle, should thus do: who before, in the Council of Jerusalem, stood in a manner alone in defense of this article, and prevailed therein, namely, that righteousness cometh by faith without the law. He that before did so constantly defend the truth and liberty of the Gospel, now by his fall in abstaining from meats forbidden in the law, is not only the cause of great offense, but also offendeth against his own decree. ‘Wherefore let him which thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall’ (1 Corinthians 10:12).

       No man would think what danger there is in traditions and ceremonies: which notwithstanding we cannot want. What is more necessary in the world than the law and the works thereof? Yet there is great danger lest by the same, men be brought to the denial of Christ. For of the law cometh oftentimes a trust and affiance in works, and where that is, there can be no trust in Christ. Christ therefore is soon denied and soon lost, as we may see in Peter; who knew this article of justification better than we do, and yet how easily should he have given occasion of such an horrible ruin, if Paul had not withstood him, that all the Gentiles should thereby have fallen away from the preaching of Paul, and by this means should have lost the Gospel and Christ himself? And this should have been done under a holy pretense. For they might have said: Paul, hitherto thou hast taught us that we must be justified by grace without the law; thou seest now that Peter doth the contrary: for he abstaineth from meats forbidden in the law, and hereby he teacheth us that we cannot be saved except we receive circumcision and observe the law, etc.

And the other jews dissembled likewise with him insomuch that barnabas was brought into their dissimulation also

Here you may plainly see, that Paul chargeth Peter with dissimulation. (Contrariwise, St. Jerome chargeth Paul.) If Peter dissembled, then did he certainly know what was the truth, and what was not. He that dissembleth, sinneth not of ignorance, but deceiveth by a color which he knoweth himself to be false. ‘And other,’ saith he, ‘dissembled likewise with Peter, insomuch that Barnabas also (who was Paul’s companion, and had now a long time preached among the Gentiles faith in Christ without the law, together with Paul) was brought into their dissimulation.’ Ye have here then Peter’s offense plainly described to be mere dissimulation, which afterwards had been an occasion of the ruin of the Gospel then newly received, if Paul had not resisted him.

       And this is a wonderful matter, that God preserved the Church, being yet but young, and the Gospel itself, by one only person. Paul alone standeth to the truth; for he had lost Barnabas his companion, and Peter was against him. So sometimes one man is able to do more in a council than the whole council besides. Which things the Papists themselves do witness. And for example they allege Paphnutius, who withstood the whole council of Nicaea (which was the best of all that were after the council of the Apostles at Jerusalem), and prevailed against it.

       This I say, to the end that we should diligently learn the article of justification, and make a plain difference between the law and the Gospel, and that in this matter we should do nothing by dissimulation, nor give place to any man, if we will retain the truth of the Gospel, and faith sound and uncorrupt which, as I have said, are soon hurt. Wherefore in this case, away with reason, that enemy to faith, which in temptations of sin and death, leaneth not to the righteousness of faith, or Christian righteousness (for thereof it is utterly ignorant), but to her own righteousness, or at the least, to the righteousness of the law. Now, as soon as the law and reason join together, faith 1oseth her virginity; for nothing fighteth more strongly against faith than the law and reason. And these two enemies cannot be conquered, but with great labor and difficulty; which we must conquer notwithstanding, if we will be saved.

       Wherefore, when thy conscience is terrified with the law, and wrestleth with the judgment of God, ask counsel neither of reason nor of the law, but rest only upon grace and the word of consolation, and so stand herein, as if thou hadst never heard anything of the law, ascending up into the darkness, where neither the law nor reason do shine, but only the dim light of faith, which assureth us that we are saved by Christ alone without any law.

       Thus the Gospel leadeth us beyond and above the light of the law and reason, into the deep secrets of faith, where the law and reason have nothing to do. Notwithstanding we must hearken also unto the law, but in place and time. Moses, while he was in the mountain where he talked with God face to face, had no law, made no law, ministered no law. But when he was come down from the mountain, he was a law-giver, and governed the people by the law. So the conscience must be free from the law, but the body must be obedient to the law.

       Hereby it appeareth that Paul reproved Peter for no light matter, but for the chiefest article of all Christian doctrine, which by Peter’s dissimulation was in great danger. For Barnabas and the other Jews dissembled together with him, which did all offend, not through ignorance or malice, but for fear of the Jews; whereby their hearts were so blinded, that they did not see their sin. And certainly it is much to be marveled, that such excellent men as Peter, Barnabas, and other, should so suddenly and so lightly fall, especially in that thing which they knew to be well done, and had also before taught unto others. It is a perilous thing therefore (as Dr. Staupitius often admonished us), to trust to our own strength, be we never as holy, never so well learned, and although we think ourselves never so sure of that we know; for in that whereof we think ourselves most sure, we may err and fall, and bring ourselves and others into great danger. Let us therefore diligently, and with all humility, exercise ourselves in the study of the holy Scriptures, and let us heartily pray that we never lose the truth of the Gospel.

       Thus we see then, that we are nothing with all our gifts, be they never so great, except God assist us. When he leaveth us to ourselves, our wisdom and knowledge is nothing. Except he sustain us continually, not even the highest learning, no, not divinity her very self, availeth anything at all.

       For in the hour of temptation it may suddenly come to pass, that by the subtilty of the devil, all the comfortable places of the Scripture shall be taken out of our sight, and such places only as contain threatenings, shall be set before our eyes, which shall oppress us and utterly confound us. Let us learn therefore, that if God withdraw his hand, we may soon be overthrown; and let no man glory of his own righteousness, wisdom, and other gifts, but let him humble himself and pray with the Apostles, ‘Lord, increase our faith! (Luke 17:5).

But when I saw that they went not the right way to the truth of the gospel

This is a wonderful example of such excellent men and pillars of the churches. There is none but Paul that hath his eyes open, and seeth the offense of Peter, of Barnabas and the other Jews which dissembled with Peter. On the other side, they do not see their own offense; nay, they rather think that they do well in bearing charitably with the infirmity of the weak Jews. Wherefore it was very necessary that Paul should reprove their offense, and not dissemble it, and therefore he accuseth Peter, Barnabas and other, that they went not the right way to the truth of the Gospel; that is to say, they swerved from the truth of the Gospel. It is a great matter that Peter should be accused of Paul as one that was fallen from the truth of the Gospel. He could not be more grievously reprehended. Yet he suffered it patiently; and no doubt but he gladly acknowledged his offense.

       I said before, that many have the Gospel, but not the truth of the Gospel.

       So Paul saith here, that Peter, Barnabas, and other of the Jews, went not the right way to the truth of the Gospel: that is to say, they had the Gospel, but they walked not uprightly according to the Gospel. For albeit they preached the Gospel, yet through their dissimulation (which could not stand with the truth of the Gospel) they established the law: but the establishing of the law is the abolishing of the Gospel.

       Whoso then can rightly judge between the law and the Gospel, let him thank God, and know that he is a right divine. In the time of temptation I confess that I myself do not know how to do it as I ought. Now the way to discern the one from the other, is to place the Gospel in heaven, and the law on the earth; to call the righteousness of the Gospel heavenly and divine, and the righteousness of the law earthly and human, and to put as great difference between the righteousness of the Gospel and of the law, as God hath made between heaven and earth, between light and darkness, between day and night. Let the one be as the light and the day; and the other as the darkness and the night. And would to God we could further separate the one from the other. Wherefore, if the question be concerning the matter of faith or conscience, let us utterly exclude the law, and leave it on the earth; but, if we have to do with works, then let us light the lantern of works and of the righteousness of the law. So let the sun and the inestimable light of the Gospel and grace shine in the day, and the lantern of the law in the night. Wherefore, if thy conscience be terrified with the sense and feeling of sin, think thus with thyself: Thou art now remaining upon earth; there let the ass labor and travail; there let him serve and carry the burden that is laid upon him; that is to say, let the body with his members be subject to the law. But when thou mounted up into heaven, then leave the ass with his burden on the earth; for the conscience hath nothing to do with the law or works, or with the earthly righteousness. So doth the ass remain in the valley, but the conscience ascendeth with Isaac into the mountain, knowing nothing at all of the law or the works thereof, but only looking to the remission of sins and pure righteousness offered and freely given unto us in Christ.

       Contrariwise in civil policy, obedience to the law must be severely required. There nothing must be known as concerning the Gospel, conscience, grace, remission of sins, heavenly righteousness, or Christ himself, but Moses only with the law and the works thereof. If we mark well this distinction, neither the one nor the other shall pass his bounds, but the law shall abide without heaven; that is, without the heart and conscience: and contrariwise, the liberty of the Gospel shall abide without the earth; that is to say, without the body and members thereof. Now therefore, as soon as the law and sin come into heaven (that is, into the conscience), let them by and by be cast out. For the conscience, being feared with the terror of the wrath and judgment of God, ought to know nothing of the law and sin, but of Christ only. And on the other side, when grace and liberty come into the earth (that is, into the body), then say:

       Thou oughtest not to dwell in the dregs and dunghill of this corporal life, but thou belongest unto heaven, etc.

       This distinction of the law and the Gospel, Peter confounded through his dissimulation, and thereby persuaded the believing Jews, that they must be justified by the Gospel and the law together. This might not Paul suffer, and therefore he reproved Peter; not to put him to any reproach, but to the end that he might again establish a plain difference between these two; namely, that the Gospel justifieth in heaven, and the law on earth. But the Pope hath not only mixed the law with the Gospel, but also of the Gospel hath made mere laws, yea and such as are ceremonial only. He hath also confounded and mixed political and ecclesiastical matters together; which is a devilish and hellish confusion.

       This place, touching the difference between the law and the Gospel, is very necessary to be known, for it containeth the sum of all Christian doctrine.

       Wherefore let all that would love and fear God, diligently learn to discern the one from the other, not only in words, but in deed and in practice; that is to say, in heart and conscience. For as touching the words, the distinction is easy: but in time of temptation thou shalt find the Gospel but as a stranger and a rare guest in thy conscience; but the law, contrariwise, thou shalt find a familiar and a continual dweller within thee; for reason hath the knowledge of the law naturally. Wherefore when thy conscience is terrified with sin,. which the law revealeth and increaseth, then say thou:

       There is a time to die and a time to live; there is a time to hear the law, and a time to despise the law; there is a time to hear the Gospel, and there is a time to be ignorant of the Gospel. Let the law now depart, and let the Gospel come; for there is now no time to hear the law, but the Gospel. But thou hast done no good: nay, thou hast done wickedly, and hast grievously sinned. I grant; notwithstanding I have the remission of sins through Christ, for whose sake all my sins are forgiven me. But out of the conflict of conscience, when external duties must be done, then, whether thou be a minister of the Word, a magistrate, a husband, a teacher, a scholar, etc., there is no time to hearken to the Gospel, but thou must hear the law and follow thy vocation.

I said unto Peter openly: if thou, being a jew livest as the gentiles and not as the jews, why constrainest thou the gentiles to do like the jews?

That is to wit, thou art a Jew, and therefore thou art bound to live like a Jew; that is, to abstain from meats forbidden in the law. Notwithstanding thou livest like a Gentile; that is to say, thou freely doest contrary to the law, and transgressest the law. For, as a Gentile which is free from the law, thou eatest common and unclean meats, and therein thou doest well. But in that thou, being afraid at the presence of the brethren converted from the Jewish religion, abstainest from meats forbidden in the law, and keepest the law, thou compellest the Gentiles to do as the Jews; that is, thou constrainest them of necessity to observe the law. For in that thou abstainest from profane meats, thou givest occasion to the Gentiles thus to think Peter abstaineth from those meats which the Gentiles use to eat, which also he himself before did eat; therefore we ought likewise to avoid the same, and to live after the manner of the Jews; otherwise we cannot be justified or saved. We see then that Paul reproveth not ignorance in Peter (for he knew that he might freely eat with the Gentiles all manner of meats), but dissimulation, whereby he compelleth the Gentiles to live like the Jews.

       Here I say again, that to live as the Jew, is not evil of itself; for it is a thing indifferent, either to eat swine’s flesh, or any other meats. But so to play the Jew, that for conscience sake thou abstainest from certain meats, this is to deny Christ, and to overthrow the Gospel. Therefore when Paul saw that Peter’s act tended to this end, he withstood him, and said: Thou knowest that the keeping of the law is not necessary to righteousness, but that we are justified only through faith in Christ, and therefore thou keepest not the law, but transgressest the law, and eatest all manner of meats.

       Notwithstanding, by thy example thou constrainest the Gentiles to forsake Christ and to return to the law. For thou givest them occasion thus to think: Faith only is not sufficient to righteousness, but the law and works are also required; and this Peter teacheth us by his example: therefore the observation of the law must needs be joined with faith in Christ, if we will be justified. Wherefore, Peter by his example is not only prejudicial to the purity of doctrine, but also to the truth of faith and Christian righteousness.

       For the Gentiles received this thereof, that the keeping of the law was necessary to righteousness; which error in case it be admitted, then doth Christ profit us nothing at all.

       Hereby it plainly appeareth to what end this discord between Paul and Peter tendeth. Paul doth nothing by dissimulation, but dealeth sincerely, and goeth plainly to work; but Peter dissembleth, as the text plainly saith, and his dissimulation Paul reproveth. Wherefore, in Paul there is no dissimulation, but pure and Christian severity and holy pride, which had been a fault if Peter had committed but some light sin, and had not sinned against the principal article of Christian doctrine. But because the truth of the Gospel suffereth by the fault of Peter, Paul neither will nor can leave off his defense of it; and to the end that it may be kept sound and uncorrupt, he hath no care of Peter, and Barnabas and all the rest are nothing to him.

       Wherefore Porphyrius and Julian do wrong unto Paul, when they allege that he of mere arrogance did reprehend Peter. Nay, even reason itself, if it do but perceive the end of the matter which Paul hath in hand, is forced to confess that it is better that Peter should be set aside, than that the majesty of God should give place and faith be put in danger. For that is the issue which is here in debate: either Peter must be severely rebuked, or Christ removed utterly away. Here it is better that Peter should perish and depart into hell, if need be, than that Christ should be lost. To this sentence ought Porphyrius and all other to assent; and no man can deny but that Paul in this case did well and godly. If it had been a disputation about some indifferent matter (as in comparison of it, that discord between Paul and Barnabas, Acts 15:39, is plainly but a vain thing and a jest), then might Paul have yielded. But in this the greatest of causes, he must give no place at all. Let every Christian therefore be proud after the example of Paul. Charity beareth all things, believeth and hopeth all things, but faith ruleth, commandeth, triumpheth, and doeth all things, giving place unto none; for all things ought to be subject and give place unto faith – all peoples and nations, kings and Judges of the earth, as it is said in Psalm 2:10 f. : ‘grow therefore be wise, O ye kings; be instructed O ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, etc. Else shall ye perish from the way.’ Therefore the effects, offices and virtues of charity and of faith are plainly contrary the one to the other.

       Therefore the whole force lieth in this clause: ‘Thou compellest the Gentiles to do as the Jews,’ that is to say, thou compellest them to fall from grace and faith to the law and works, and to deny Christ, as though he had sinned and died in vain, etc. This word: ‘Thou compellest,’ containeth all those perils and sins, which Paul urgeth and amplifieth throughout all this Epistle. For if that compulsion or necessity be admitted, then is faith abolished; and where faith perisheth, all the promises of God are made void, all the gifts of the Holy Ghost trodden under foot, and all men must of necessity simply perish and be damned.

       Many properties of this kind doth Paul attribute to the righteousness of the law throughout this whole Epistle.

       Since then it is so dangerous a thing to have to do with the law, and that this fall was so sudden and so great, as it had been from heaven above even down into hell, let every Christian diligently learn to discern between the law and the Gospel. Let him suffer the law to rule over the body and the members thereof, but not over the conscience. For that queen and spouse may not be defiled with the law, but must be kept without spot for her only husband Christ, as Paul saith (2 Corinthians 11:2): ‘I have espoused you to one husband, etc.’ Let the conscience have her bride-chamber, not in the low valley, but in the high mountain: m the which let Christ lie and there rule and reign, who doth not terrify and afflict sinners, but comforteth them, pardoneth their sins, and sayeth them Wherefore let the afflicted conscience think upon nothing, know nothing, set nothing against the judgment of God, but the word of Christ, which is the word of grace, of remission of sins, of salvation and everlasting life. But this to perform indeed, is a hard matter For man’s reason and nature cannot steadfastly cleave unto Christ, but oftentimes it is carried away with the cogitations of the law and sin, and so always seeketh to be at liberty after the flesh, but according to conscience a servant and slave.

We which are jews by nature, and not sinners of the gentiles

That is to say, we are born unto the righteousness of the law, to Moses, and to circumcision, and even in our birth we bring the law with us. We have the righteousness of the law not by choice, as the Gentiles, but by nature, as Paul before saith of himself in the first chapter: ‘being zealous of the traditions of the fathers etc. Wherefore, if we be compared with the Gentiles, we are no sinners; we are not without the law and without works, like unto the Gentiles: but we are Jews born, we are born righteous, and brought up in righteousness. Our righteousness beginneth even with our birth; for the Jewish religion is natural unto us. For God commanded Abraham to circumcise every man-child the eighth day (Genesis 17:10 ff.). This law of circumcision, received from the fathers, Moses afterwards confirmed. It is a great matter therefore, that we are Jews by nature.

       Notwithstanding, although we have this prerogative, that we are righteous by nature, born to the law and the works thereof, and are not sinners as the Gentiles, yet are we not therefore righteous before God. Even though thou shewest me there, re a man most excellent, that is a Jew by birth, and from his birth hath kept the law most perfectly, yet is he not therefore righteous before God. We are indeed circumcised, but we are not justified thereby. For circumcision is a ‘seal of righteousness’ (Romans 4:11); and children circumcised in the faith of Abraham are not saved for their circumcision, but for their faith. Be we never so much Jews born, and never so holy, and able to glory against the Gentiles that we have the justification of the law, the true worship of God, the promises, the fathers, (which is great glory indeed), yet are we not therefore righteous before God, neither have any advantage over the Gentiles.

       Hereby it is evident, that Paul speaketh not here of ceremonies, saying that after the revelation of Christ they are deadly, as Origen and Jerome do affirm, but of a far weightier matter, namely, of the nativity of the Jews, whom he denieth to be righteous although they be born holy, be circumcised, keep the law, have the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the fathers, the true worship, God, Christ, the promises, live in them and glory in the same – as they say: ‘We are the seed of Abraham,’ and: ‘We have one father, which is God’ (John 8:33,41); and in the Epistle to the Romans (2:17): ‘Behold thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law,’ etc. Wherefore, although Peter, Paul, and the other Apostles were the children of God, righteous according to the law, and very Apostles of Christ, yet they were not therefore pronounced righteous before God. For although thou hast all these together – the law, the works and the righteousness thereof, circumcision, the adoption, the covenants, the promises, the apostleship, etc. – yet Christian righteousness cometh not thereby: for none of all these is faith in Christ, which only (as followeth in the text) justifieth, and not the law. Not that the law is evil or damnable; for the law, circumcision and such-like, are not therefore condemned because they justify not: but Paul therefore taketh from them the office of justification, because the false apostles contended that by them, without faith, and only by the work wrought, men are justified and saved. This was not to be suffered of Paul; for without faith all things are deadly. The law, circumcision, the adoption, the Temple, the worship of God, the promises, yea God and Christ himself, without faith, profit nothing. Paul therefore speaketh generally against all things which are contrary to faith, and not against ceremonies only.

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the laws but by the faith of Jesus Christ

This word, ‘the work of the law,’ reacheth far and comprehendeth much. This I say because of the secure and idle sophisters and monks, which do obscure such words in Paul, yea they obscure and corrupt his whole argument concerning justification, with their foolish and wicked glosses which even they themselves do not understand. Take thou the work of the law therefore generally for that which is contrary to grace. Whatsoever is not grace, is the law, whether it be judicial, ceremonial, or the Ten Commandments. Wherefore if thou couldest do the work of the law according to this commandment: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,’ etc. (not to say here that no man yet ever did or could do so), yet thou shouldest not be justified before God; for a man is not justified by the works of the law. But hereof we will speak more largely hereafter.

       The work of the law then, according to Paul, signifieth the work of the whole law, whether it be judicial, ceremonial, or moral, Now, if the work of the moral law do not justify, much less doth circumcision justify, which is a work of the ceremonial law. Wherefore, when Paul saith (as he oftentimes doth) that a man is not justified by the law, or by the works of the law (which are both one) he speaketh generally of the whole law, setting the righteousness of faith against the righteousness of the whole law, or all that can be done, whether by divine power or by man’s own strength, according to the law. For by the righteousness of the law, saith he, a man is not pronounced righteous before God but the righteousness of faith God imputeth freely through grace, for Christ’s sake.

       The law, no doubt, is holy, righteous and good, and consequently the works of the law are holy, righteous and good: yet notwithstanding a man is not justified thereby before God. We must therefore reject the opinion of Jerome and others, which dream that Paul here speaketh not of the works of the moral law, but of the ceremonial law, although they are forced to admit that the ceremonial law also was good and holy. For assuredly circumcision and other laws concerning the rites of the Temple were righteous and holy; for they were no less commanded and ordained of God than the moral laws. But here they say: But after Christ the laws of ceremonies were deadly. This they invent out of their own head. Neither doth Paul speak here of the Gentiles, unto whom the ceremonies are deadly, but of the Jews, unto whom they were good; yea, and Paul himself did keep them. Therefore even at that time, when the laws of ceremonies were holy and just and good, they could not justify.

       Paul therefore speaketh not of a part of the law only (which also is good and holy), but of the whole law, saying that a work done according to the whole law justifieth not. Neither speaketh he of sin against the law, or a work of the flesh, but of the work of the law,’ that is, a work done according to the law. Therefore, to do no murder, not to commit adultery, etc., whether it be done according to nature, or the strength of man, or free-will, or according to the gift and power of God, yet it justifieth not.

       Now the works of the law may be done either before justification or after.

       Before justification, many good men even amongst the pagans, as Xenophon, Aristides, Fabius, Cicero, Pomponius Atticus and others, performed the deeds of the law and did notable works. Cicero suffered death valiantly in a good and just cause. Pomponius was a constant man, and loved truth, for he never made a lie himself, nor could suffer the same in any other. Now, constancy and truth are noble virtues and excellent works of the law, and yet were they not justified thereby. After justification, Peter, Paul, and all other Christians have done and do the works of the law, yet are they not justified thereby. ‘I know not myself guilty in any thing (saith Paul) and yet am I not thereby justified ‘ (1 Corinthians 4:4). We see then that he speaketh not of any part of the law, and not of sins against the law, but of the whole law and all the works thereof.

       The Divinity of the Popish Sophisters, commonly called the Schoolmen. Wherefore the wicked and pernicious opinion of the Papists is utterly to be condemned, which attribute the merit of grace and remission of sins to the work wrought. For they say that a good work before grace, is able to obtain grace of congruence [which they call meritum de congruo because it is meet that God should reward such a work]. But when grace is obtained, the work following deserveth everlasting life of due debt and worthiness which they call meritum de condigno ]. As for example if a man being in deadly sin, without grace, do a good work of his own good natural inclination – that is, if he say or hear a mass, or give alms and such like – this man of congruence deserveth grace. When he hath thus obtained grace, he doth now a work which of worthiness deserveth everlasting life.

       For the first, God is no debtor; but because he is just and good, it behooveth him to approve such a good work, though it be done in deadly sin, and to give grace for such a service. But when grace is obtained, God is become a debtor, and is constrained of right and duty to give eternal life.

       For now it is not only a work of free will, done according to the substance, but also done in grace which maketh a man acceptable unto God, that is to say, an charity. This is the divinity of the Antichristian kingdom; which here I recite, to the end that the disputation of Paul may be the better understood (for two contrary things being set together, may be the better known); and moreover, that all men may see how far from the truth these blind guides and leaders of the blind (Matthew 23:18) have wandered, and how by this wicked and blasphemous doctrine they have not only darkened the Gospel, but have taken it clean away, and buried Christ utterly. For if I being in deadly sin, can do any little work which is not only acceptable in God’s sight of itself, and according to the substance, but also is able to deserve grace of congruence, and when I have received grace, I may do works according to grace, that is to say, according to charity, and get of right and duty eternal life; what need have I now of the grace of God, forgiveness of sins, of the promise, and of the death and victory of Christ?

       Christ is now to me unprofitable, and his benefit of none effect; for I have free will and power to do good works, whereby I deserve grace of congruence, and afterwards by the worthiness of my work, eternal life.

       Such monstrous and horrible blasphemies should have been set forth to the Turks and Jews, and not to the Church of Christ. And hereby it plainly appeareth, that the Pope with his bishops, doctors, monks, and all his religious rabble, had no knowledge or regard of holy matters, and that they were not careful for the health of the silly and miserable scattered flock.

       For if they had seen, but as it were through a cloud, what Paul calleth sin, and what he calleth grace, they would never have compelled the people to believe such abominations and execrable lies. By deadly sin they understood only the external work committed against the law, as murder, adultery, theft, and such like. They could not see that ignorance, hatred, and contempt of God in the heart, ingratitude, murmuring against God, and resisting the will of God, are also deadly sin, and that the flesh cannot think, speak, or do, anything but that which is devilish and altogether against God. If they had seen these mischiefs fast rooted m the nature of man, they would never have devised such impudent and execrable dreams touching the desert of congruence and worthiness.

       Wherefore we must properly and plainly define what a wicked man or deadly sinner is. He is such a holy and bloody hypocrite as Paul was when he went to Damascus, to persecute Jesus of Nazareth, to abolish the doctrine of the Gospel, to murder the faithful, and utterly to overthrow the Church of Christ. And who will not say, but that these were horrible sins against God? Yet could not Paul see them. For he was so blinded with a perverse zeal of God, that he thought these abominations to be perfect righteousness and most acceptable service unto God: and shall we say that such as defend these horrible sins to be perfect righteousness, do deserve grace?

       Wherefore with Paul, we utterly deny the merit of congruence and worthiness, and affirm that these speculations are nothing else but mere deceits of Satan, which were never done in deed, nor notified by any examples. For God never gave to any man grace and everlasting life for the merit of congruence or worthiness. These disputations therefore of the schoolmen touching the merit of congruence and worthiness, are nothing else but vain toys and dreams of idle brains. Yet hereupon is the whole Papacy grounded. For there is no religious person, but he hath this imagination I am able by the observation of my holy order to deserve grace of congruence, and by the works which I do after that I have received this grace, I am able to heap up such treasure of merit, as shall not only be sufficient for me to obtain eternal life, but also. too give or sell unto others.

       Thus have all the religious orders taught, and thus have they lived. And to defend this horrible blasphemy against Christ, the Papists do at this day attempt against us what they can; and there is not one of them all, but the more holy hypocrite and meritmonger he is, the most cruel and deadly enemy he is to the Gospel of Christ.

THE TRUE WAY TO CHRISTIANITY

Now, the true way to Christianity is this, that a man do first acknowledge himself by the law, to be a sinner, and that it is impossible for him to do any good work. For the law saith: Thou art an evil tree, and therefore all that thou thinkest, speakest, or doest, is against God. Thou canst not therefore deserve grace by thy works which if thou go about to do, thou doublest thy offense; for since thou art an evil tree, thou canst not but bring forth evil fruits, that is to say, sins. ‘For whatsoever is not of faith, is sin’ (Romans 14:23). Wherefore he that would deserve grace by works going before faith, goeth about to please God with sins, which is nothing else but to heap sin upon sin, to mock God, and to provoke his wrath.

       When a man is thus taught and instructed by the law, then is he terrified and humbled, then he seeth indeed the greatness of his sin, and cannot find in himself one spark of the love of God: therefore he justifieth God in his Word, and confesseth that he is guilty of death and eternal damnation. The first part then of Christianity is the preaching of repentance, and the knowledge of ourselves.

       The second part is: if thou wilt be saved, thou mayest not seek salvation by works; for God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. He was crucified and died for thee, and bare thy sins in his own body. Here is no congruence or work done before grace, but wrath, sin, terror and death. Wherefore the law doth nothing else but utter sin, terrify and humble, and by this means prepareth us to justification, and driveth us to Christ. For God hath revealed unto us by his Word, that he will be unto us a merciful father, and without our deserts (seeing we can deserve nothing) will freely give unto us remission of sins, righteousness and life everlasting, for Christ his Son’s sake. For God giveth his gifts freely unto all men, and that is the praise and glory of his divinity. But the justiciaries and merit-mongers will not receive grace and everlasting life of him freely, but will deserve the same by their own works. For this cause they would utterly take from him the glory of his divinity. To the end therefore that he may maintain and defend the same, he is constrained to send his law before, which as a lightning and thundering from heaven, may bruise and break those hard rocks.

       This briefly is our doctrine as touching Christian righteousness, contrary to the abominations and blasphemies of the schoolmen concerning the merit of congruence and worthiness, or works before grace and after grace.

       Which monstrous dreams were devised by such as were never exercised with any temptations, never had any true feeling of sin, or of the terror of death, and therefore they know not what they say, or what they teach.

       Moreover, they can shew no example of any work done either before or after grace that could justify before God. Wherefore they are nothing else but vain toys and foolish fables, whereby the Papists deceive both themselves and other. For Paul here plainly affirmeth, that no man is justified by the works of the law either going before grace (whereof he speaketh in this place) or coming after grace. You see then that Christian righteousness is not such an essential quality engrafted in the nature of man, as the schoolmen do imagine, when they say:

THE DIVINITY OF THE SCHOOLMEN

When a man doth any good work, God accepteth it, and for that work he poureth into him charity, which they call charity infused. This charity, say they, is a quality remaining in the heart, and this they call formal righteousness (which manner of speaking it is expedient for you to know), and they can abide nothing less than to heart hat this quality forming and adorning the soul, as whiteness doth the wall, should not be counted righteousness. They can climb no higher than to this cogitation of man’s reason, that man is righteous by his own formal righteousness, which is grace making him acceptable unto God, that is to say, charity. So to this quality cleaving unto the soul, that is to wit, charity (which is a work after the law, for the law saith: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,’ etc.), they attribute formal righteousness [that is to say, true Christian righteousness], and they say that this righteousness is worthy of everlasting life, and he that hath it is formally righteous; and moreover he is effectually or actually righteous, because he now doth good works, whereunto everlasting life is due. This is the opinion of the Popish schoolmen, yea, even of the best of them all.

       Some others there be which are not so good, as Scotus and Occam, which said, that for the obtaining of the grace of God, this charity infused or given of God, is not necessary; but that a man even by his own natural strength, may procure this charity above all things. For so reasoneth Scotus If a man may love a creature, a young man a maiden, a covetous man money, which are the less good, he may also love God, which is the greater good. If he have a love of the creature through his natural strength, much more hath he a love of the Creator. With this argument were all the sophisters convicted, and none of them all was able to refute it.

       Notwithstanding thus they reply:

       The Scripture compelleth us to confess (say they) that God, besides that natural love and charity which is engrafted in us (wherewith alone he is not contented), requireth also charity which he himself giveth. And hereby they accuse God as a tyrant and a cruel exactor, who is not content that we keep and fulfill his law, but above the law (which we ourselves are well able to fulfill), requireth also that we should accomplish it with other circumstance and furniture, as apparel to the same. As if a mistress should not be contented that her cook had dressed her meat excellently well, but should chide her for that she did not prepare the same, being decked with precious apparel, and adorned with a crown of gold. Now what a mistress were this, who when her cook had done all that she was bound to do, and also exactly performed the same, would moreover require that she should wear such ornaments as she could not have? Even so, what a one should God be, if he should require his law to be fulfilled of us (which notwithstanding by our own natural strength we observe and fulfill) with such furniture as we cannot have?

       But here lest they should seem to avouch contrary things, they make a distinction, and say that the law is fulfilled two manner of ways: first according to the substance of the deed, and secondly, according to the mind of the commander. According to the substance of the deed, say they, we may fulfill all things which the law commandeth, but not according to the mind of the commander, which is, that God is not contented that thou hast done and fulfilled all things which are commanded in the law (although he hath no more to require of thee), but he further requireth, that thou shouldest fulfill the law in charity not that charity which thou hast by nature, but that which is above nature and heavenly, which he himself giveth. And what is this else but to make of God a tyrant and a tormentor, which requireth that of us which we are not able to perform? And it is in a manner as much as if they should say, that the fault is not in us if we be damned, but in God, which with this circumstance requireth his law to be accomplished of us.

       These things I do the more diligently repeat, that you may see how far they have strayed from the true sense of the Scripture, which have said that by our own natural strength we may love God above all things, or at least, by the work wrought we may deserve grace and everlasting life. And because God is not content that we fulfill the law according to the substance of the deed, but will have us also to fulfill the same according to the mind of the commander, therefore the Scripture further compelleth us to have a quality above nature poured into us from above; and that is charity, which they call formal righteousness, adorning and beautifying faith, being also the cause that faith justifieth us. So faith is the body and the shell: charity the life, the kernel, the form and furniture. These are the monstrous dreams of the schoolmen.

       But we, in the stead of this charity do place faith, and whereas they say that faith is the bare outline, and charity the lively colouring and filling up of the same, we say contrariwise that faith Jesus Christ, who is the form which adorneth and furnisheth faith, as the color adorneth and beautifieth the wall. Christian faith therefore is not an idle quality or empty husk in the heart, which may be in deadly sin until charity come and quicken it: but if it be true faith, it is a sure trust and confidence of the heart, and a firm consent whereby Christ is apprehended: so that Christ is the object of faith, yea rather he is not the object, but, as it were, in the faith itself Christ is present. Faith therefore is a certain obscure knowledge, or rather darkness which seeth nothing, and yet Christ apprehended by faith sitteth in this darkness like as God in Sinai and in the Temple sat in the midst of darkness (Exodus 19:9, 20:21: 1 Kings 8:10,12). Wherefore our formal righteousness is not charity furnishing and beautifying faith, but it is faith itself, which is, as it were, a certain cloud in our hearts: that is to say, a steadfast trust and affiance in the thing which we see not, which is Christ: who although he be not seen at all, yet he is present.

       Faith therefore justifieth, because it apprehendeth and possesseth this treasure, even Christ present. But the manner of this presence cannot be comprehended of us, because it is in darkness, as I have said. Wherefore, where assured trust and affiance of the heart is, there Christ is present, yea even in the cloud and obscurity of faith. And this is the true formal righteousness, whereby a man is justified, and not by charity, as the popish schoolmen do affirm.

       To conclude, like as the schoolmen say that charity furnisheth and adorneth faith, so do we say that it is Christ which furnisheth and adorneth faith, or which is the form and perfection of faith. Wherefore Christ apprehended by faith, and dwelling in the heart, is the true Christian righteousness, for the which God counteth us righteous and giveth us eternal life. Here is no work of the law, no charity, but a far other manner of righteousness, and a certain new world beyond and above the law. For Christ or faith is not the law nor the work of the law. But concerning this matter, which the schoolmen neither taught nor understood, we intend to speak more largely hereafter. Now it shall be enough that we have shewed, that Paul speaketh not here of the ceremonial law only, but of the whole law. I have plainly declared already, how great is the error of the schooldivines, which have taught that a man thus obtaineth remission of sins and justification, namely, if by works going before, which they call merits of congruence, he deserve grace, which to them is a quality that cleaveth to the will, being given by God over and above that love which we have by our natural powers. When a man hath received this grace (say they), he is formally righteous and truly a Christian. This, I say, is an ungodly and pestilent opinion, for it maketh not a Christian, but a Turk, a Jew, an Anabaptist, a fantastical head, etc. For what man is there that would not be able by his own strength without grace to do a good work and in this way merit grace, etc.? After this manner have these dreamers made of faith an empty quality in the soul, which alone and without charity availeth nothing at all, but when charity is added thereto, it is effective and justifieth. And the works that do follow (say they) have power to merit eternal life of worthiness, since God for the sake of the charity which he hath infused into man’s will, doth accept the work following unto eternal life. For thus say they that God accepteth a good work unto eternal life, but an evil work he non-accepteth unto condemnation and eternal punishment. They have heard somewhat in a dream concerning acceptation, and then they have attributed this relation unto works. All these things are false and blasphemous against Christ. Howbeit not all speak so well, but some, as we have said, have taught that we are able of our own natural strength to love God above all things. It is profitable to know these things, to the end that the argument of Paul may be made the more clear.

THE TRUE RULE OF CHRISTIANITY

Contrary to these vain trifles and doting dreams (as we have also noted before) we teach faith, and give a true rule of Christianity in this sort: first, that a man must be taught by the law to know himself, that so he may learn to say with the prophet: ‘All have sinned and have need of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23); also, ‘There is not one righteous, no not one: not one that understandeth, not one that seeketh after God: all have gone astray’ (Romans 3:10 ff.; Psalm 14:1 ff.; 53:1 ff.); also: ‘Against thee only have I sinned’ (Psalm 51:4). Thus we by a contrary way do drive men from the merit of congruence and worthiness. Now, when a man is humbled by the law, and brought to the knowledge of himself, then followeth true repentance (for true repentance beginneth at the fear and judgment of God), and he seeth himself to be so great a sinner that he can find no means how he may be delivered from his sin by his own strength, endeavor and works. Then he perceiveth well what Paul meaneth when he saith that man is the servant and bond-slave of sin (Romans 7:14); also that God hath shut up all under sin (Romans 11:52; Galatians 3:22) and that the whole world is guilty before God (Romans 3:19). Then he seeth that all the divinity of the schoolmen touching the merit of congruence and worthiness, is nothing else but mere foolishness, and that by this means the whole Papacy falleth.

       Here now he beginneth to sigh, and saith in this wise: Who then can give succor? For he being thus terrified with the law, utterly despaireth of his own strength: he looketh about, and sigheth for the help of a mediator and Savior. Here then cometh in good time the healthful word of the Gospel, and saith: ‘Son, thy sins are forgiven thee’ (Matthew 9:2). Believe in Christ Jesus crucified for thy sins, etc. If thou feel thy sins and the burden thereof, look not upon them in thyself, but remember that they are translated and laid upon Christ, whose stripes have made thee whole (Isaiah 53:5).

       This is the beginning of health and salvation. By this means we are delivered from sin, justified and made inheritors of everlasting life; not for our own works and deserts, but for our faith, whereby we lay hold upon Christ. Wherefore we also do acknowledge a quality and a formal righteousness in the heart: not charity (as the sophisters do) but faith; and yet so notwithstanding, that the heart must behold and apprehend nothing but Christ the Savior. And here it is necessary that you know the true definition of Christ. The schoolmen being utterly ignorant hereof, have made Christ a judge and a tormentor, devising this fond fancy concerning the merit of congruence and worthiness.

       But Christ, according to his true definition, is no lawgiver, but a forgiver of sins and a Savior. This doth faith apprehend and undoubtedly believe, that he hath wrought works and merits of congruence and worthiness abundantly. For he might have satisfied for all the sins of the world by one only drop of his blood; but now he hath shed it plentifully, and hath satisfied abundantly. ‘By his own blood hath he entered into the holy place once for all, and obtained eternal redemption’ (Hebrews 9:12); and ‘We are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a reconciliation unto us, through faith in his blood’ (Romans 3:24 f.). Wherefore it is a great matter, by faith, to lay hold upon Christ bearing the sins of the world. And this faith alone is counted for righteousness (Romans 3-4).

       Here is to be noted, that these three things, faith, Christ, acceptation, or imputation, must be joined together. Faith taketh hold of Christ, and hath him present, and holdeth him inclosed, as the ring doth the precious stone.

       And whosoever shall be found having this confidence in Christ apprehended in the heart, him will God account for righteous. This is the mean, and this is the merit whereby we attain the remission of sins and righteousness. Because thou believest in me, saith the Lord, and thy faith layeth hold upon Christ, whom I have freely given unto thee that he might be thy mediator and high priest, therefore be thou justified and righteous.

       Wherefore God doth accept or account us as righteous, only for our faith in Christ.

       And this acceptation, or imputation, is very necessary: first, because we are not yet perfectly righteous, but while we remain in this life, sin dwelleth still in our flesh; and this remnant of sin God purgeth in us. Moreover, we are sometimes left of the Holy Ghost, and fall into sins, as did Peter, David, and other holy men. Notwithstanding we have always recourse to this article: that our sins are covered, and that God will not lay them to our charge (Romans iv.). Not that sin is not in us (as the sophisters have taught, saying, that we must be always working well until we feel that there is no sin remaining in us): yea, sin is indeed always in us, and the godly do feel it, but it is covered, and is not imputed unto us of God for Christ’s sake; whom because we do apprehend by faith, all our sins are now no sins.

       But where Christ and faith be not, there is no remission or covering of sins, but mere imputation of sins and condemnation. Thus will God glorify his Son, and will be glorified himself in us through him.

       When we have thus taught faith in Christ, then do we teach also good works. Because thou hast laid hold upon Christ by faith, through whom thou art made righteous, begin now to work well. Love God and thy neighbor, call upon God, give thanks unto him, praise him, confess him. Do good to thy neighbor and serve him: fulfill thine office. These are good works indeed, which flow out of this faith and this cheerfulness conceived in the heart, for that we have remission of sins freely by Christ.

       Now what cross or affliction soever do afterwards ensue, they are easily borne, and cheerfully suffered. For the yoke that Christ layeth upon us, is sweet, and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). When sin is pardoned, and the conscience delivered from the burden and sting of sin, then may a Christian bear all things easily: because he feeleth all things within sweet and comfortable, therefore he doeth and suffereth all things willingly. But when a man walketh in his own righteousness, whatsoever he doeth is grievous and tedious unto him, because he doeth it unwillingly.

       We therefore do make this definition of a Christian, that a Christian is not he which hath no sin, or feeleth no sin, but he to whom God imputeth not his sin because of his faith in Christ. This doctrine bringeth strong consolation to afflicted consciences in serious and inward terrors. It is not without good cause, therefore, that we do so often repeat and beat into your minds the forgiveness of sins, and imputation of righteousness for Christ’s sake: also that a Christian hath nothing to do with the law and sin, especially in the time of temptation. For inasmuch as he is a Christian, he is above the law and sin. For he hath Christ the Lord of the law present and inclosed in his heart (as we have said) even as a ring hath a jewel or precious stone inclosed in it. Therefore when the law accuseth and sin terrifieth him, he looketh upon Christ, and when he hath apprehended him by faith, he hath present with him the conqueror of the law, sin, death and the devil: who reigneth and ruleth over them, so that they cannot hurt him.

       Wherefore a Christian man, if ye define him rightly, is free from all laws, and is not subject unto any creature, either within or without: inasmuch as he is a Christian, I say, and not inasmuch as he is a man or a woman, that is to say, inasmuch as he hath his conscience adorned and beautified and enriched with this faith, with this great and inestimable treasure, or, as Paul saith, ‘this unspeakable gift’ (2 Corinthians 9:15), which cannot be magnified and praised enough, for it maketh us the children and heirs of God. And by this means a Christian is greater than the whole world. For he hath such a gift, such a treasure in his heart, that although it seemeth to be but little, yet notwithstanding the smallness thereof, is .greater than heaven and earth, because Christ, which is this gift, is greater.

       While this doctrine, pacifying and quieting the conscience, remaineth pure and uncorrupt, Christians are made judges over all kinds of doctrine, and are lords over the laws of the whole world. Then can they certainly judge that the Turk with his Alcoran is damned, because he goeth not the right way, that is, he acknowledgeth not himself to be a miserable and damnable sinner, nor apprehendeth Christ by faith, for whose sake he might be assured that his sins are pardoned. In like manner they boldly pronounce sentence against the Pope, that he is condemned with all his kingdom, because he so walketh and so teacheth (with all his religious rabble of sophisters and schoolmen), that by the merit of congruence we must come to grace, and that afterward by the merit of worthiness we are received into heaven. Here saith the Christian: this is not the right way to justify us, neither doth this way lead to heaven. For I cannot, saith he, by my works going before grace, deserve grace of congruence, nor by my works following grace, obtain eternal life of worthiness: but to him that believeth in Christ, sin is pardoned and righteousness imputed. This trust and this confidence maketh him the child of God and heir of his kingdom; for in hope he possesseth already everlasting life, assured unto him by promise. Through faith in Christ therefore all things are given unto us, grace, peace, forgiveness of sins, salvation and everlasting life, and not for the merit of congruence and worthiness.

       Wherefore this doctrine of the schoolmen, with their ceremonies, masses, and infinite foundations of the papistical kingdom, are most abominable blasphemies against God, sacrileges and plain denials of Christ, as Peter hath foretold in these words: ‘There shall be,’ saith he, ‘false teachers among you, which shall privily bring in damnable heresies, denying the Lord that hath bought them,’ etc. (2 Peter 2:1). As though he would say: The Lord hath redeemed and bought us with his blood, that he might justify and save us; this is the way of righteousness and salvation. But there shall come false teachers, which denying the Lord, shall blaspheme the way of truth, of righteousness and salvation; they shall find out new ways of falsehood and destruction, and many shall follow their damnable ways.

       Peter throughout this whole chapter most lively painteth out the Papacy, which neglecting and despising the Gospel and faith in Christ, hath taught the works and traditions of men: as the merit of congruence and worthiness, the difference of days, meats and persons, vows, invocation of saints, pilgrimages, purgatory, and such like. In these fantastical opinions the Papists are so misled, that it is impossible for them to understand one syllable of the Gospel, of faith, or of Christ.

       And this the thing itself doth well declare. For they take that privilege unto themselves which belongeth unto Christ alone. He only delivereth from sins, he only giveth righteousness and everlasting life; and they most impudently and wickedly do vaunt that we are able to obtain these things apart from Christ by the merits of congruence and worthiness. This, saith Peter and the other Apostles, is to bring in damnable heresies and sects of perdition. For by these means they deny Christ, tread his blood under their feet, blaspheme the Holy Ghost, and despise the grace of God. Wherefore no man can sufficiently conceive how horrible the idolatry of the Papists is.

       As inestimable as the gift is which is offered unto us by Christ, even so and no less abominable are these profanations of the Papists. Wherefore they ought not to be lightly esteemed or forgotten, but diligently weighed and considered. And this maketh very much also for the amplifying of the grace of God and the benefit of Christ, as by the contrary. For the more we know the profanation of the papistical Mass, so much the more we abhor the detest the same, and embrace the true use of the Mass, which the Pope hath taken away, and hath made merchandise thereof, that being bought for money, it might profit others. For he saith that the massing priest, an apostate denying Christ and blaspheming the Holy Ghost, standing at the altar, doth a good work, not only for himself, but also for others, both quick and dead, and for the whole Church, and that only by the work wrought, and by no other means.

       Wherefore even by this we may plainly see the inestimable patience of God, in that he hath not long ago destroyed the whole Papacy, and consumed it with fire and brimstone, as he did Sodom and Gomorrah. But now these jolly fellows go about, not only to cover, but highly to advance their impiety and filthiness. This we may in no case dissemble, We must therefore with all diligence set forth the article of justification, that as a most clear sun, it may bring to light the darkness of their hypocrisy, and discover their filthiness and shame. For this cause we do so often repeat and so earnestly set forth the righteousness of faith, that the adversaries may be confounded and this article established and confirmed in our hearts.

       And this is a most necessary thing: for if we once lose this sun, we fall again into our former darkness. And most horrible it is, that the Pope should ever be able to bring this to pass in the Church, that Christ should be denied, trodden under foot, spit upon, blasphemed, yea and that even by the Gospel and sacraments; which he hath so darkened, and turned into such an horrible abuse, that he hath made them to serve him against Christ, for the establishing and confirming of his detestable abominations. O deep darkness! O horrible wrath of God!

Even we, I say, have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified etc.

This is the true mean of becoming a Christian, even to be justified by faith in Jesus Christ, and not by the works of the law. Here we must stand, not upon the wicked gloss of the schoolmen, which say, that faith then justifieth, when charity and good works are joined withal. With this pestilent gloss the sophisters have darkened and corrupted this and other like sentences in Paul, wherein he manifestly attributeth justification to faith only in Christ. But when a man heareth that he ought to believe in Christ, and yet notwithstanding faith justifieth not except it be formed and furnished with charity, by and by he falleth from faith, and thus he thinketh:

       If faith without charity justifieth not, then is faith in vain and unprofitable, and charity alone justifieth; for except faith be formed and beautified with charity, it is nothing.

       And to confirm this pernicious and pestilent gloss, the adversaries do allege this place, 1 Corinthians 13:1 f.: ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, etc., and have no love, I am nothing.’ And this place is their brazen wall. But they are men without understanding, and therefore they can see or understand nothing in Paul; and by this false interpretation, they have not only perverted the words of Paul, but have also denied Christ, and buried all his benefits. Wherefore we must avoid this gloss as a most deadly and devilish poison, and conclude with Paul, that we are justified, not by faith furnished with charity, but by faith only and alone. We must not attribute the power of justifying to that form [sc. charity] which maketh a man acceptable unto God, but we must attribute it to faith, which apprehendeth and possesseth in the heart Christ the Savior himself. This faith justifieth without and before charity.

       We grant that we must teach also good works and charity, but it must be done in time and place, that is to say, when the question is concerning works, and toucheth not this article of justification. But here the question is, by what means we are justified and attain eternal life. To this we answer with Paul, that by faith only in Christ we are pronounced righteous, and not by the works of the law or charity not because we reject good works, as our adversaries accuse us, but for that we will not suffer ourselves to be turned aside from the principal point of this present matter as Satan most desireth. Wherefore since we are now in the matter of justification, we reject and condemn all good works’ for this place will admit no disputation of good works. In this matter therefore we do generally cut off all laws and all the works of the law.

       But the law is good, just, and holy. True, it is. But when we are disputing of justification, there is no time or place to speak of the law; but the question is, what Christ is, and what benefit he hath brought unto us.

       Christ is not the law, he is not my work, or the work of the law, he is not my charity, he is not my chastity, obedience, or poverty, but he is the Lord of life and death, a mediator and a Savior of sinners, a redeemer of those that are under the law. In him we are by faith, and he in us. This bridegroom must be alone with the bride in his secret chamber, all the servants and family being put apart. But afterwards, when he openeth the door and cometh forth, then let the servants and handmaidens return, to fulfill their ministry. There let charity do her office, and let good works be done.

       We must learn therefore to discern all laws, yea even the law of God, and all works, from the promise of the Gospel and from faith, that we may define Christ rightly. For Christ is no law, and therefore he is no exactor of the law and works, but he is the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29). This doth faith alone lay hold of, and not charity, which not withstanding, as a certain thankfulness, must follow faith.

       Wherefore victory over sin and death, salvation and everlasting life, come not by the law, nor by the works of the law, nor yet by the power of freewill, but by the Lord Jesus Christ only and alone. Therefore faith alone apprehending this justifieth, as appeareth by a sufficient division and induction: The victory over sin and death cometh by Jesus Christ only and alone: therefore it cometh not by the works of the law, nor yet by our will, etc. Here we will gladly suffer ourselves to be called ‘solarians’ by our adversaries, which understand nothing of this disputation of Paul.

That we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law

Paul speaketh not here of the ceremonial law only, as before we have said, but of the whole law. For the ceremonial law was as well the law of God as the moral law was. As for example, circumcision, the institution of the priesthood, the service and ceremonies of the Temple, were as well commanded of God, as the Ten Commandments. Moreover, when Abraham was commanded to offer up his son Isaac in sacrifice, it was a law. This work of Abraham pleased God no less than other works of the ceremonial law did, and yet was he not justified by this work, but by faith; for the Scripture saith: ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness’ (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3).

       But since the revealing of Christ, say they, the ceremonial law killeth and bringeth death. Yea, so doth the law of the Ten Commandments also, without faith in Christ. Moreover, there may no law be suffered to reign in the conscience, but only the law of the spirit of life, whereby we are made free in Christ from the law of the letter and of death, from the works thereof, and from all sins: not because the law is evil, but for that it is not able to justify us; for it hath a plain contrary effect and working. It is an high and an excellent matter to be at peace with God, and therefore in this case, we have need of a far other mediator than Moses or the law, than our own will, yea even than that grace which they call the love of God. Here we ourselves must be nothing at all, but only receive the treasure which is Christ, apprehended in our hearts by faith, although we feel ourselves to be never so full of sin. These words therefore of the Apostle ‘That we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law,’ are very effectual, and not in vain or unprofitable, as the schoolmen think, and therefore they pass them over so lightly.

       Hitherto ye have heard the words of Paul which he spake unto Peter; wherein he hath briefly comprised the principal article of all Christian doctrine, which maketh true Christians indeed. Now he turneth to the Galatians, to whom he writeth, and thus he concludeth: Since it is so, that we are justified by faith in Christ, then by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Because by the deeds of the law, no flesh shall be justified

‘Non omnis caro’ is a Hebraism which offendeth against the grammar. So Genesis 4:5: ‘That not every one that findeth him should smite him.’

       The Greeks and Latins speak not so. ‘Not every one’ signifieth ‘no one’ and ‘not all flesh’ signifieth ‘no flesh.’ But ‘not all flesh’ in Latin seemeth to say ‘some flesh.’ Howbeit the Holy Ghost keepeth not this strictness of the grammar.

       Now ‘flesh,’ in Paul, doth not signify (as the schoolmen dream) manifest and gross sins; for those he useth to call by their proper names, as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and such like (Galatians 5:19 ff.): but by flesh, Paul meaneth here, as Christ doth in the third chapter of John: ‘That which is born of the flesh, is flesh’ (John 3:6). Flesh therefore signifieth the whole nature of man, with reason and all other powers whatsoever do belong to man. This flesh, saith he, is not justified by works, no not even of the law. He saith not: Flesh is not justified by works contrary to the law, as are murder, adultery, drunkenness, and such like, but by works done according to the law, which are good. Flesh therefore, according to Paul, signifieth all the righteousness, wisdom, devotion, religion, understanding and will, that is possible to be in a natural man. Now if a Jew is not justified by works done according to the law of God, much less shall a monk be justified by his order, a priest by the mass and canonical hours, a philosopher by his wisdom, a divine by his divinity, a Turk by the Alcoran.

       Briefly, though a man be never so wise and righteous according to reason and the law of God, yet with all his righteousness, works, merits, devotion and religion, he is not justified.

       This the Papists do not believe, but being blind and obstinate, they defend their abominations against their own conscience, and continue still in this their blasphemy, having in their mouths these execrable words: He that doth this good work or that, deserveth forgiveness of his sins; whosoever entereth into this or that holy order, and keepeth his rule, to him we assuredly promise everlasting life. It cannot be uttered what an horrible blasphemy it is to attribute that to the doctrines of devils, to the decrees and ordinances of men, to the wicked traditions of the Pope, to the works and merits of monks and friars, which Paul the Apostle of Christ taketh from the law of God and the works thereof. For if no flesh be justified by the works of the law of God, much less shall it be justified by the rule of Benedict, Francis, or Augustine, in which there is not one jot of true faith in Christ: but this only they teach, that whosoever keepeth these things hath life everlasting.

       Wherefore I have much and often marveled, that these sects of perdition reigning so many years in so great darkness and errors, the Church could endure and continue as it hath done. Some there were whom God called purely by the text of the Gospel (which notwithstanding remained in the pulpit) and by Baptism. These walked in simplicity and humbleness of heart, thinking the monks and friars and such only as were anointed of the bishops, to be religious and holy, and themselves to be profane and secular, and not worthy to be compared unto them. Wherefore they finding in themselves no good works to set against the wrath and judgment of God, did fly to the death and passion of Christ, and were saved in this simplicity.

       Horrible and unspeakable is the wrath of God, in that he hath so long time punished the contempt of the Gospel and Christ in the Papists, and also their ingratitude, in giving them over unto a reprobate mind (Romans 1:24. ff.), insomuch that they blaspheming and denying Christ altogether as touching his office, instead of the Gospel, received the execrable rules, ordinances and traditions of men, which they devoutly adored and honored, yea and preferred the same far above the Word of God, until at length they were forbidden to marry, and were bound to that incestuous single life; wherein they were outwardly polluted and defiled with all kinds of horrible wickedness, as adultery, whoredom, uncleanness, sodomy, and such other abominations. This was the fruit of that filthy single life.

       So God, punishing sin with sin, inwardly gave them over unto a reprobate mind, and outwardly suffered them to fall into such horrible crimes, and that justly, because they blasphemed the only Son of God, in whom the Father would be glorified, and whom he delivered to death, that all which believe in him might be saved by him, and not by their own rules and orders. ‘Him that honoreth me,’ saith he, ‘I will honor’ (1 Samuel 2:30). Now, God is honored in his Son (John 5:23). Whoso then believeth that the Son is our mediator and savior, he honoreth the Father, and him again doth God honor, that is to say, adorneth him with his gifts, forgiveness of sins, righteousness, the Holy Ghost, and everlasting life.

       Contrariwise, ‘They that despise me,’ saith he, ‘shall be despised’ (Samuel 2:30; Matthew 10:33).

       There is then a general conclusion: ‘By the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified.’ This do thou amplify and run through all states and conditions of life thus: Ergo no monk shall be justified by his order, no nun by her chastity, no citizen by his probity, no prince by his beneficence, etc. The law of God is greater than the whole world, for it comprehendeth all men, and the works of the law do far excel even the most glorious will-works of all the merit-mongers; and yet Paul saith that neither the law nor the works of the law do justify. Therefore we conclude with Paul, that faith only justifieth. This proposition he goeth about to confirm in this manner:

If then while we seek to be justified in Christ, we ourselves are found sinners, is Christ therefore the minister of sin? God forbid

These are not Latin phrases, but Hebrew and theological. If this be true, saith he, that we are justified by Christ, then is it impossible that we should be sinners, or should be justified by the law. On the contrary, if this be not true, but that we must be justified by the law and the works of the law, it is then impossible that we should be justified by Christ. One of these two must needs be false. Either we are not justified by Christ, or we are not justified by the law. But the truth is that we are justified by Christ; therefore we are not justified by the law. He reasoneth therefore after this manner: ‘If then while we seek to be made righteous by Christ,’ etc. That is: If we seek to be justified by faith in Christ, and so being justified are yet found sinners, having need of the law to justify us being sinners: if we have need, I say, of the observation of the law to justify us, so that they which are righteous in Christ are not righteous, but yet have need of the law to justify them: or if he that is justified by Christ must yet further be justified by the law, then Christ is nothing else but a lawgiver and a minister of sin.

       Therefore he that is justified and holy in Christ, is not justified or holy, but hath yet need of the righteousness and holiness of the law.

       But we are indeed justified and made righteous in Christ; for the truth of the Gospel teacheth us, that a man is not justified in the law, but in Christ.

       Now, if they which are justified in Christ are yet found sinners, that is do yet still belong to the law, and are under the law (as the false apostles teach), then are they not yet justified. For the law accuseth them, and sheweth them to be yet sinners, and requireth of them the works of the law, as necessary to their justification. Therefore they that are justified in Christ, are not justified; and so it followeth, that Christ is not a justifier, but a minister of sin.

       With these words he vehemently chargeth the false apostles and all meritmongers, that they pervert all together: for they make of the law grace, and of grace the law, of Moses Christ, and of Christ Moses. For they teach that besides Christ and all the righteousness of Christ, the observation of the law is necessary to justification. And thus we see that by their intolerable perverseness, they make the law Christ for by this means they attribute that to the law, which properly belongeth unto Christ. If thou do the works of the law, say they, thou shalt be justified; but if thou do them not, thou shalt not be justified, although thou do believe in Christ never so much. Now if it be so, that Christ justifieth not, but is the minister of sin (as it needs must follow by their doctrine), then is Christ the law for we have nothing else of him (seeing he teacheth that we are sinners) than that we have by the law. So Christ being the teacher of sin, sendeth us to the law and to Moses, as to our justifier.

       It cannot be therefore, but that the Papists and all such as are ignorant of the righteousness of Christ, or have not the true knowledge thereof, must needs make of Christ Moses and the law, and of the law Christ. For thus they teach: It is true (say they) that faith in Christ justifieth, but withal we must needs keep the commandments of God. For it is written: ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments’ (Matthew 19:17). Here even at the first dash, Christ is denied and faith abolished, because that is attributed to the commandments of God, or to the law, which belongeth to Christ alone. For Christ, according to his true definition, is a justifier and a redeemer from sins. If I attribute this to the law, then is the law my justifier, delivering me from my sins, because I do the works thereof: and so now the law is Christ, and Christ utterly loseth his name, his office and glory, and is nothing else but a minister of the law, reproving, terrifying, presenting and sending the sinner to another that may justify him: which is the proper office of the law.

       But the proper office of Christ is, after the law hath pronounced a man to be guilty, to raise him up again, and to loose him from his sins, if he believe the Gospel. ‘For Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to everyone that believeth’ (Romans 10:4); he is ‘the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29). But the Papists and the Anabaptists, because they understand not this doctrine, do turn all clean contrary, making of Christ Moses, and of Moses Christ. And this is indeed (although they will say otherwise) their principal proposition: that Christ is Moses. Moreover, they deride us, because we do so diligently teach and so earnestly require faith. Ha, ha, (say they), faith, faith wait thou the time until thou come to heaven by faith. Nay, thou must strive to do greater and weightier matters. Thou must fulfill the law of God, according to that saying: ‘Do this, and thou shalt live (Luke 10:28). Thou must suffer many things, shed thy blood, leave thy house, wife, children, imitate the example of Christ. Faith, which ye so highly extol, doth nothing else but make men careless, idle and negligent. Thus are they become nothing else but ministers of the law, and law-workers, calling back the people from Christ to Moses, from baptism, faith, the promises of Christ, to the law and works, turning grace into the law, and the law into grace.

       Who would ever believe that these things could so easily be confounded and mingled together? There is no man so unsensible, which doth not perceive this distinction of the law and grace to be most plain and manifest.

       For the very nature and signification of the words maketh this distinction and difference. For who understandeth not that these words, law and grace, do differ in name and signification? Wherefore it is a monstrous thing, that this distinction being so plain, the adversaries should be so devilish and perverse, as to mingle together the law and grace, and to transform Christ into Moses. Therefore I oftentimes say, that this doctrine of faith is very plain, and that every man may easily understand this distinction of the law and grace, as touching the words; but as touching the use and practice, it is very hard.

       The Pope and his school-doctors do plainly confess, that the law and grace are diverse and distinct things, and yet when they come to the use and practice thereof, they teach clean contrary. Faith in Christ, say they, whether it be gotten by the strength, operation and qualities of nature, or whether it be faith infused and poured into us of God, yet is it but a dead faith, if charity be not joined therewith. Where is now the distinction and difference of the law and grace? Indeed, they do distinguish them in name, but in effect they call grace charity. Thus do all they which so straitly require the observation of the law, and attribute justification to the law and works. Wherefore whosoever doth not perfectly understand the article of justification must needs confound and mingle the law and grace together.

       Let every godly man therefore diligently learn above all things, to put a difference between the law and grace in deed and in practice: not in words only, as the Pope and the fantastical spirits do; who as touching the words, do confess that they are two distinct things; but in very deed (as I have said), they confound and mingle them together, for they will not grant that faith justifieth without works. If this be true, then Christ profiteth me nothing. For though my faith be never so perfect, yet after their opinion, if this faith be without charity, I am not justified; and although I have never so much charity, yet I love not enough. And thus Christ apprehended by faith is not a justifier, grace profiteth nothing, neither can faith be true faith without charity (or as the Anabaptists say: without the cross, passion and shedding of blood). But if charity, works and the cross are present, then the faith is true faith and justifieth.

       With this doctrine the fantastical sects do darken and deface the benefit of Christ again at this day: they take away from him the glory of a justifier, and make him a minister of sin. They have learnt nothing from us but to repeat the words: the matter itself they understand not. They would have it appear that they also teach the Gospel and the faith of Christ purely, as we do, but when it cometh to the use and practice, they are teachers of the law, in all things like to the false apostles themselves. For even as they throughout all the churches did require circumcision and the observation of the law besides faith in Christ, insomuch that without circumcision and keeping of the law, they denied the justification of faith (for ‘Except ye be circumcised,’ said they, ‘after the law of Moses, ye cannot be saved’ (Acts 15:10)): even so, at this day, these straight exactors of the law, besides the righteousness of faith, do require the keeping of the commandments of God, according to that saying: ‘Do this and thou shalt live’ (Luke 10:28); also, ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments’ (Matthew 19:17). Wherefore there is not one among them, be he never so wise, that understandeth the difference between the law and grace; for by their very use and practice and the testimony of facts they are convicted.

       But we put a difference, and say, that we do not here dispute whether we ought to do good works: whether the law be good, holy and just, and whether it ought to be kept or no; for this is another manner of question, But our question is concerning justification, and whether the law do justify or no. This the adversaries will not hear: they will not answer to this question, nor make any distinction as we do; but only cry out, that good works ought to be done, that the law ought to be observed. We know that well enough. But because these are divers distinct matters, we will not suffer them to be mingled together. That good works ought to be done, we will hereafter declare when time shall serve. But since we are now in the matter of justification, we set aside here all good works, for which the adversaries do so earnestly strive, ascribing unto them wholly the office of justifying which is to take from Christ his glory and to ascribe the same unto works.

       Wherefore this is a strong argument, which I have oftentimes used to my great comfort: ‘If then while we seek to be made righteous by Christ,’ etc.

       As though Paul should say: If we being justified by Christ, are counted yet as not justified and righteous, but as sinners which are yet to be justified by the law, then may we not seek justification in Christ, but in the law. But if justification cometh by the law, then cometh it not by grace. Now if justification cometh not by grace but by the law, what hath Christ done and wrought by his passion, by his preaching, by his victory which he hath obtained over the law, sin and death, and by sending the Holy Ghost? We must conclude therefore, that either we are justified by Christ, or else that we are made sinners, culpable and guilty through him. But if the law do justify, then can it not be avoided, but it must needs follow, that we are made sinners through Christ, and so Christ is a minister of sin. The case standing thus, let us then set down this proposition: Every one that believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ is a sinner, and is guilty of eternal death, and if he fly not unto the law, doing the works thereof, he shall not be saved.

       The holy Scripture, especially the New Testament, maketh often mention of faith in Christ, and highly advanceth the same: which saith that whosoever believeth in him is saved, perisheth not, is not judged, is not confounded, hath eternal life, etc. (John 3:16, etc.). But contrariwise they say, he that believeth in him is condemned, etc., because he hath faith without works, which doth condemn. Thus do they pervert all things, making of Christ simply a destroyer, and of Moses a Savior. And is not this an horrible blasphemy, so to teach, that by doing the works of the law thou shalt be made worthy of eternal life; but by believing in Christ thou shalt be made guilty of eternal death; that the law being kept and accomplished saveth, and faith in Christ condemneth?

       The selfsame words, I grant, the adversaries do not use but in very deed such is their doctrine. For faith infused, say they, which properly they call faith in Christ, doth not make us free from sin, but that faith which is furnished with charity. Hereof it followeth that faith in Christ, without the law and works, saveth us not. This is plainly to affirm, that Christ leaveth us in our sins and in the wrath of God, and maketh us guilty of eternal death. On the other side, if thou keep the law and do the works thereof, then faith justifieth thee, because it hath works, without the which faith availeth nothing. Therefore works justify, and not faith. For that which causeth anything to be so, is itself more so, and if it be works that cause faith to justify, then works do justify more than faith. O horrible impiety!

       What pernicious and cursed doctrine is this?

       Paul therefore groundeth his argument upon an impossibility and a sufficient division. If we being justified in Christ, are yet found sinners, and cannot be justified but by another mean than Christ, that is to wit, by the law, then cannot Christ justify us, but he only accuseth and condemneth us: and so consequently it followeth, that Christ died in vain, and these with other like phrases are false: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world’ (John 1:29); also: ‘He that believeth in the Son, hath everlasting life’ (John 3:36). Yea the whole Scripture is false, which beareth witness that Christ is the justifier and savior of the world. For if we be found sinners after that we be justified by Christ, it followeth of necessity that they which fulfill the law without Christ are justified. If this be true, then are we either Turks, or Jews, or Tartarians, professing the name and word of Christ in outward show, but in deed and verity utterly denying Christ and his Word. But Paul will have faith to be ‘unfeigned’ (1 Timothy 1:5). It is a great error and impiety therefore to affirm that faith infused, except it be adorned with works of charity, justifieth not. But if the adversaries will needs defend this doctrine, why do they not then reject faith in Christ altogether: especially seeing they make nothing else of it but a vain quality in the soul, which without charity availeth nothing? Why do they not call a spade a spade? That is: why do they not say in plain words, that works do justify and not faith? Yea, why do they not generally deny, not only Paul, but also the whole Gospel (as in very deed they do), which attributeth righteousness to faith alone and not to works?

       For if faith and works together do justify then is the disputation of Paul altogether false, which plainly pronounceth, that a man is not justified by the deeds of the law, but by faith alone in Jesus Christ.

Is Christ therefore the minister of sin?

This is a kind of speech used of the Hebrews, which Paul in Corinthians 3 (7 ff.) doth also use where he most divinely and plainly speaketh of these two ministries: to wit, of the letter and the spirit, of the law and grace, or of death and life. And he saith that Moses hath the ministry of the law, which he calleth the ministry of sin, of wrath, death and condemnation. For Paul is wont to give reproachful names unto the law of God, and amongst the Apostles he only useth this manner of speech: the other do not so speak. And very necessary it is, that such as are studious of the holy Scripture should understand this manner of speech used of the Apostle.

       Now a minister of sin is nothing else but a lawgiver, or a schoolmaster of the law, which teacheth good works and charity, and that a man must suffer the cross and afflictions, and follow the example of Christ and of the saints. He that teacheth and requireth this, is a minister of the law, of sin, of wrath and of death: for by this doctrine he doeth nothing else but terrify and afflict men’s consciences, and shut them under sin. For it is impossible for the nature of man to accomplish the law yea, in those that are justified and have the Holy Ghost, the law of the members fighteth against the law of the mind (Romans 7:23). What will it not then do in the wicked which have not the Holy Ghost? Wherefore he that teacheth that righteousness cometh by the law, doth not understand what he saith or what he affirmeth, and much less doth he keep the law, but rather he deceiveth himself and others, and layeth upon them such a burden as they are not able to bear, requiring and teaching impossible things, and at the last he bringeth himself and his disciples unto desperation.

       The proper use and end therefore of the law is, to accuse and condemn as guilty such as live in security, that they may see themselves to be in danger of sin, wrath, and death eternal, that so they may be terrified and brought even to the brink of desperation, trembling and quaking at the falling of a leaf: and in that they are such, they are under the law. For the law requireth perfect obedience unto God, and condemneth all those that do not accomplish the same. Now, it is certain that there is no man living which is able to perform this obedience; which notwithstanding God straitly requireth of us: the law therefore justifieth not, but condemneth, according to that saying: ‘Cursed is he that abideth not in all things written in this law,’ etc. (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10). Therefore he that teacheth the law is the minister of sin.

       Wherefore it is not without good cause, that Paul in 2 Corinthians 3 calleth the ministry of the law the ministry of sin: for the law accuseth consciences and sheweth sin, which without the law is dead. Now the knowledge of sin (I speak not here of that speculative knowledge of hypocrites, but of a true knowledge, by which we see the wrath of God against sin, and feel a true taste of death) terrifieth the heart, driveth down to desperation, killeth and destroyeth (Romans 7:11). Wherefore these schoolmasters of the law and works, are called in the Scriptures oppressors and tyrants. For as the taskmasters in Egypt did oppress the children of Israel with corporal servitude, so do these lawgivers and taskmasters drive men into spiritual and most miserable bondage of soul, and at length bring them to desperation and utter destruction. These do neither know themselves nor feel the force of the law; neither is it possible for them to have quietness and peace of conscience in great and inward terrors, and in the agony of death, yea though they have observed the law, loved their neighbours, done many good works, and suffered great afflictions: for the law always terrifieth and accuseth, saying: Thou never didst accomplish all that is commanded in the law; but accursed is he that hath not done all things contained therein, etc. Wherefore these terrors remain still in the conscience and increase more and more; and if such schoolmasters of the law be not raised up by faith and the righteousness of Christ, they are driven down headlong to desperation. Of this thing there is a notable example in the ‘Lives of the Fathers’ concerning a certain eremite who, shortly before he died, stood sad and motionless for three days with his eyes fixed on the heavens. Being asked why he did so, he answered that he feared death. When his disciples sought to comfort him, saying that he had no cause to fear death, since he had lived a most holy life, he replied: ‘Holily have I lived indeed, and kept the commandments of God: but the judgments of God are far other than those of men.’ This man, when he perceived death at hand, although he had lived blamelessly and had kept the law of God, was yet not able to have a quiet mind, because it came into his thought that God judgeth far otherwise than men. And so he lost confidence in all his good works and merits, and unless he was raised up by the promise of Christ, he must have despaired. So the law can do nothing else but strip us bare and make us culpable, and then there is no counsel or help, but all is lost. Here the life and martyrdoms of all the saints are not able to help us.

       This also was notably figured when the law was given, as we may see in the 19th and 20th of Exodus. Moses brought the people out of the tents to meet with the Lord, that they might hear him speak unto them out of the dark cloud. Then the people being astonished and trembling for fear, fled back (which a little before had promised to do all that God had commanded) and, standing aloof off, said unto Moses: ‘Who can abide to see the fire, and to hear the thunderings and noise of the trumpet? Talk thou with us, and we will hear thee: but let not God talk with us, lest we die.’ So the proper office of the law is to lead us out of our tents and tabernacles, that is to say, from the quietness and security wherein we dwell, and from trusting in ourselves, and to bring us before the presence of God, to reveal his wrath unto us, and to set before us our sins. Here the conscience feeleth that it hath not satisfied the law, neither is it able to satisfy it, nor to bear the wrath of God, which the law revealeth when it bringeth us forth after this manner before the presence of God, that is to say, when it feareth us, accuseth us, and setteth before us our sins. Here it is impossible that we should be able to stand; and therefore being thoroughly afraid, we fly, and we cry out with the children of Israel: ‘We shall die, we shall die: let not the Lord speak unto us, but speak thou unto us,’ etc.

       He then which teacheth that faith in Christ justifieth not without the observation of the law, maketh Christ a minister of sin, that is to say, a schoolmaster of the law, which teacheth the selfsame doctrine that Moses did. By this means Christ is no Savior, no giver of grace, but a cruel tyrant, who requireth impossible things (as Moses did), which no man is able to perform. See how all the meritmongers do take Christ to be but a new lawgiver, and the Gospel to be nothing else but a certain book which containeth new laws concerning works, as the Turks dream of their Alcoran. But as touching laws there is enough in Moses. The Gospel then is a preaching of Christ, which forgiveth sins, giveth grace, justifieth and saveth sinners. Now whereas there are commandments found in the Gospel, they are not the Gospel, but expositions of the law, and matters depending upon the Gospel.

       To conclude, if the law be the ministry of sin, then it is also the ministry of wrath and of death. For as the law revealeth sin, so doth it terrify a man, it showeth unto him the wrath of God, and striketh into him a terror of death.

       For this the conscience by and by gathereth Thou hast not kept the commandments of God, therefore is God offended and angry with thee.

       And it thinketh this to be an infallible consequence: I have sinned, therefore I must die. And so it followeth, that the ministry of sin is the ministry of wrath and death. For after that sin is revealed, by and by ensueth the wrath of God, death, and damnation. For thus reasoneth the conscience: Thou hast sinned, therefore God is angry with thee: if he be angry with thee, he will destroy thee and condemn thee for ever. And hereof it cometh, that many which are not able to bear the judgment and wrath of God, which the law setteth before their eyes, do kill, hang, or drown themselves.

God forbid

As though he would say: Christ is not the minister of sin, but the giver of righteousness and eternal life. Wherefore Paul separateth Christ far from Moses. Let Moses then tarry on the earth; let him be the schoolmaster of the letter, and exactor of the law; let him torment and crucify sinners. But the believers, saith Paul, have another schoolmaster in their conscience: not Moses, but Christ, which hath abolished the law and sin, hath overcome the wrath of God, and destroyed death. He biddeth us that labor and are oppressed with all manner of calamities, to come unto him. Therefore when we fly unto him, Moses with his law vanisheth away, so that his sepulcher can nowhere be seen (Deuteronomy 34:6), and sin and death can hurt us no more. For Christ our instructor is Lord over the law, sin, and death, so that they which believe in him are delivered from the same. It is therefore the proper office of Christ to deliver from sin and death; and this Paul teacheth and repeateth everywhere.

       We are condemned and killed by the law, but by Christ we are justified and restored to life. The law astonisheth us, and driveth us from God; but Christ reconcileth us to God, and maketh for us an entrance, that we may boldly come unto him. For he is the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world. Now, if the sin of the world be taken away, then is it taken away from me also, which do believe in him. If sin be taken away, then is the wrath of God, death and damnation taken away also. And in the place of sin succeedeth righteousness; in the place of wrath, reconciliation and grace; in the place of death, life; and in the place of damnation, salvation. Let us learn to practice this distinction, not in words only, but in life and lively experience and feeling. For where Christ is, there must needs be joy of heart and peace of conscience: for Christ is our reconciliation, righteousness, peace, life and salvation. Briefly, whatsoever the poor afflicted conscience desireth, it findeth in Christ abundantly. Now Paul goeth about to amplify this argument, and to persuade as followeth.

For if I build again the things that I have destroyed, I make myself a trespasser.

As if he should say: I have not preached to this end, that I might build again those things which I once destroyed. For if I should so do, I should not only labor in vain, but should make myself also a transgressor, and overthrow all together, as the false apostles do that is to say, off, race and of Christ I should again make the law and Moses; and contrariwise of the law and Moses I should make grace and Christ. Now, by the ministry of the Gospel I have abolished sin, heaviness of heart, wrath and death. For thus have I taught: Thy conscience, O man, is subject to the law, sin and death; from which thou canst not be delivered either by men or angels. But now cometh the Gospel, and preacheth unto thee remission of sins by Jesus Christ, who hath abolished the law, and hath destroyed sin and death; believe in him, and so shalt thou be delivered from the curse of the law, and from the tyranny of sin and death; thou shalt be righteous and have eternal life.

       Behold how I have destroyed the law, by the preaching of the Gospel, to the end that it should not reign m thy conscience any more. For when the new guest Christ Jesus cometh into the new house, there to dwell alone, Moses the old inhabiter must give place unto him, and depart some whither else. Also where Christ the new guest is come to dwell, there can the law, sin, wrath, and death have no place; but there now dwelleth mere grace, righteousness, joy, life, mere filial trust in the Father, now pacified and reconciled unto us, gracious, longsuffering, and full of mercy, for his Son Christ’s sake. Should I then, driving out Christ, and destroying his kingdom, which I have planted through the preaching of the Gospel, now build up again the law, and set up the kingdom of Moses? Indeed this should I do, if I should teach circumcision and the observation of the law to be necessary to salvation, as the false apostles do; and by this means, in the stead of righteousness and life, I should restore again sin and death. For the law doth nothing else but utter sin, procure God’s wrath, kill and destroy.

       What are the Papists (I pray you), yea the best of them all, but destroyers of the kingdom of Christ, and builders up of the kingdom of the devil and of sin, of wrath and eternal death? Yea, they destroy the Church, which is God’s building, not by the law of Moses, as did the false apostles, but by men s traditions and doctrines of devils. And even so, the fantastical heads which are at this day, and shall come after us, do destroy and shall destroy those things which we have built; do build, and shall build up again those things which we have destroyed.

       But we by the grace of Christ holding the article of justification, do assuredly know that we are justified by faith only in Christ. Therefore we do not mingle the law and grace, faith and works together; but we separate them far asunder. And this distinction or difference between the law and grace, let every seeker after godliness mark diligently, and let him suffer the same to take place, not in letters and syllables, but in practice and experience; so that when he heareth that good works ought to be done, and that the example of Christ is to be followed, he may be able to judge rightly and say: Well, all these things will I gladly do. What then followeth? Thou shalt then be saved and obtain everlasting life? Nay, not so. I grant indeed, that I ought to do good works, patiently to suffer troubles and afflictions, and to shed my blood also, if need be, for Christ’s cause: but yet am I not justified, neither do I obtain salvation thereby.

       We must not therefore draw good works into the article of justification, as the monks have done, which say that not only good works, but also the punishments and torments which malefactors suffer for their wicked deeds, do deserve everlasting life. For thus they comfort them when they are brought to the gallows, or place of execution: Thou must suffer willingly and patiently this shameful death; which if thou do, thou shalt deserve remission of thy sins and everlasting life. What an horrible thing is this, that a wretched thief, a murderer, a robber, should be so miserably seduced in that extreme anguish and distress, that even at the very point of death, when he is now ready to be hanged, or to have his head cut off, he should be deprived of the Gospel and glad tidings of Christ, which only is able to bring comfort and salvation, and should be commanded to hope for pardon and remission of his sins, if he willingly and patiently endure that opprobrious death which he suffereth for his mischievous deeds? What is this else but to heap upon him which is already most miserably afflicted, extreme perdition and destruction, and through a false confidence in his own death, to show him the ready way to hell?

       Hereby these hypocrites do plainly declare, that they neither teach nor understand one letter or syllable concerning grace, the Gospel, or Christ.

       They retain only in outward show the name of the Gospel and of Christ, that they may beguile the hearts of the people. Notwithstanding they denying and rejecting Christ indeed, do attribute more to the traditions of men, than to the Gospel of Christ. Which thing to be true, so many kinds of worships, so many religious orders, so many ceremonies, and so many willworks do plainly witness: all which things were instituted as available to deserve grace, righteousness and everlasting life. In their confessions they made no mention of faith or the merit of Christ, but they taught and set forth the satisfactions and merits of men, as it may plainly appear in this form of absolution (I speak nothing here of other matters) which the monks used among themselves, yea and such as would be counted more devout and more religious than others: which I think good here to set down, that our posterity may see how great and how horrible the kingdom of the Pope as.

THE FORM OF A MONKISH ABSOLUTION

‘God forgive thee my brother. The merit of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of blessed Saint Mary, always a virgin, and of all the saints: the merit of thine order, the straitness of thy religion, the humility of thy confession, the contrition of thy heart, the good works which thou hast done and shalt do for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, be unto thee available for the remission of thy sins, the increase of merit and grace, and the reward of everlasting life. Amen.’

       Ye hear the merit of Christ mentioned in these words: but if ye weigh them well, ye shall perceive that Christ is there altogether unprofitable, and that the glory and name of a justifier and Savior is quite taken from him, and given to monkish works. Is not this to take the name of God in vain? Is not this to confess Christ in words, and in very deed to deny his power and blaspheme his name? I myself also was once entangled with this error: I thought Christ to be a judge (although I confessed with my mouth, that he suffered and died for man’s redemption) and ought to be pacified by the observation of my rule and order. Therefore when I prayed or said Mass, I used to add this in the end’ ‘O Lord Jesus, I come unto thee, and I pray thee that these burdens and this straitness of my rule and religion may be a full recompense for all my sins.’ But now I give thanks unto God the Father of all mercies, which hath called me out of darkness unto the light of his glorious Gospel, and hath given unto me plentiful knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whose sake I count all things (as Paul doth, Philippians 3:8 f.) to be but loss, yea I esteem them but as dung, that I may gain Christ, and that I may be found in him, not having mine own righteousness out of the rule of Augustine, but that righteousness which cometh by faith in Christ; unto whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be praise and glory world without end. Amen.

       We conclude therefore with Paul, that we are justified by faith only in Christ, without law and works. Now after that a man is once justified, and possesseth Christ by faith, and knoweth that he is his righteousness and life, doubtless he will not be idle, but as a good tree he will bring forth good fruits. For the believing man hath the Holy Ghost, and where the Holy Ghost dwelleth, he will not suffer a man to be idle, but stirreth him up to all exercises of piety and godliness, to the love of God, to the patient suffering of afflictions, to prayer, to thanksgiving, to the exercise of charity towards all men. Wherefore we also say that faith without works is vain and nothing worth.

       This the papists and fantastical spirits do thus understand: that faith without works justifieth not, or that faith, be it never so true and sincere, if it have not works, is of no avail. That is false; but faith without works, that is to say, a fantastical cogitation and mere vanity and dream of the heart, is false faith and justifieth not.

       Hitherto we have handled the first argument, wherein Paul contendeth that either we cannot be justified by the law, or else that Christ must needs be the minister of sin. But this is impossible: wherefore we conclude, that justification cometh not by the law. Of this place we have largely intreated, as it is well worthy, and yet can at not be taught and beaten into men’s heads sufficiently.

For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God

These are marvelous words, and unknown kinds of speech which man’s reason can in no wise understand. And although they be but few, yet are they uttered with great zeal and vehemency of spirit, and as it were in great displeasure. As if he should say: Why do ye boast so much of the law, whereof in this case I will be ignorant? But if ye will needs have the law I also have my law. Wherefore, as though he were moved through indignation of the Holy Ghost, he calleth grace itself the law, giving a new name to the effect and working of grace, in contempt of the law of Moses and the false apostles, which contended that the law was necessary to justification: and so he setteth the law against the law. And this is a sweet kind of speech, and/till of consolation, when in the Scriptures, and specially in Paul, law is set against the law, sin against sin, death against death, captivity against captivity, hell against hell, the altar against the altar, the lamb against the lamb, the passover against the passover.

       In Romans 8:3 it is said: ‘For sin he condemned sin in Psalm 68:18, Ephesians 4:8: ‘He hath led captivity captive’; in Hosea 13:14: ‘O death I will be thy death: O hell I will be thy destruction!’ So he saith here, that through the law he is dead to the law. As if he said: the law of Moses accuseth and condemneth me; but against that accusing and condemning law, I have another law, which is grace and liberty: This law accuseth the accusing law, and condemneth the condemning law. So death killeth death: but this killing death is life itself. But it is called the death of death, by a vehement indignation of spirit against death. So righteousness taketh the name of sin, because it condemneth sin, and this condemning of sin is true righteousness.

       And here Paul seemeth to be an heretic, yea of all heretics the greatest; and his heresy is strange and monstrous. For he saith that he being dead to the law, liveth to God. The false apostles taught this doctrine: Except thou live to the law, thou livest not to God; that is to say, unless thou live after the law, thou art dead before God. But Paul saith quite contrary: Except thou be dead to the law, thou canst not lave to God. The doctrine of our adversaries at this day, is like to the doctrine of the false apostles of that time. If thou wilt live to God, say they, live \0 the law, or after the law.

       But contrariwise we say: If thou wilt live to God, thou must utterly die to the law. Man’s reason and wisdom understandeth not this doctrine; therefore it teacheth always the contrary, that is If thou wilt live unto God, thou must keep the law; for it is written, ‘Do this and thou shalt live.’ And this is a special principle amongst all the divines’ He that liveth after the law, liveth unto God. Paul saith plainly the contrary: that is, we cannot live unto God, unless we be dead to the law. Wherefore we must mount up to this heavenly altitude, that we may be assured that we are far above the law, yea, that we are utterly dead unto the law. Now, if we be dead unto the law, then hath the law no power over us, like as it hath no power over Christ, who hath delivered us from the same, that through him we might live unto God. All these things tend to this end, to prove that we are not justified by the law, but by faith only in Jesus Christ.

       And here Paul speaketh not of the ceremonial law; for he sacrificed in the Temple, circumcised Timothy, shaved his head at Cenchrea. These things had he not done, if he had been dead to the ceremonial law, but he speaketh of the whole law. Therefore the whole law, whether it be ceremonial or moral, to a Christian is utterly abrogate, for he is dead unto it. Not that the law is utterly taken away nay, it remaineth, liveth, and reigneth still in the wicked. But a godly man is dead unto the law like as he is dead unto sin, the devil, death, and hell which notwithstanding do still remain, and the world with all the wicked shall still abide in them.

       Wherefore when the sophister understandeth that the ceremonial law only is abolished, understand thou, that Paul and every Christian is dead to the whole law, and yet the law remaineth still.

       As for example: Christ rising from death is free from the grave, and yet the grave remaineth still Peter is delivered from the prison, the sick of the palsy from his bed, the young man from his coffin, the maiden from her couch, and yet the prison, the bed, the coffin, the couch do remain still. Even so, the law is abolished when I am not subject unto it, the law is dead when I am dead unto it, and yet remaineth still. But because I by another law am dead unto it, therefore it is dead also unto me: as the grave of Christ, the prison of Peter, the couch of the maiden, etc. do still remain; and yet Christ by his resurrection is dead unto the grave, Peter by his deliverance is freed from the prison, and the maid through life is delivered from the couch.

       Wherefore these words: ‘I am dead to the law,’ are very effectual. For he saith not ‘I am free from the law for a time, or: I am lord over the law; but simply ‘I am dead to the law,’ that is to say, I have nothing to do with the law. Paul could have uttered nothing more effectual against the justification of the law, than to say: ‘I am dead to the law,’ that is, I care nothing at all for the law; therefore I am not justified by it.

       Now, to die to the law, is, not to be bound to the law, but to be free from the law and not to know it. Therefore let him that will live to God, endeavor that he may be found without the law, and let him come out of the grave with Christ. The soldiers were astonished when Christ was risen out of the grave; and they also which saw the maiden raised up from death to life, were amazed. So man’s reason and wisdom is astonished and becometh foolish, when it heareth that we are not justified except we be dead to the law for it is not able to reach into this mystery. But we know that when by faith we apprehend Christ himself in our conscience, we enter into a certain new law, which swalloweth up the old law that held us captive. As the grave in which Christ lay dead, after that he was risen again was void and empty, and Christ vanished away; so when I believe in Christ, I rise again with him, and die to my grave, that is to say, the law which held me captive: so that now the law is void, and I am escaped out of my prison and grave, that is to say, the law. Wherefore the law hath no right to accuse me, or to hold me any longer, for I am risen again.

       It is necessary that men’s consciences be diligently instructed, that they may understand the difference between the righteousness of the law and of grace. The righteousness of grace, or the liberty of conscience, doth in no wise pertain to the flesh. For the flesh may not be at liberty, but must remain in the grave, the prison, the couch: it must be in subjection to the law, and exercised by the Egyptians. But the Christian conscience must be dead to the law, that is to say, free from the law, and must have nothing at all to do with it. It is good to know this; for it helpeth very much to the comforting of poor afflicted consciences. Wherefore, when you see a man terrified and cast down with the sense and feeling of his sin, say unto him:

       Brother, thou dost not rightly distinguish; thou placest the law in thy conscience, which should be placed in the flesh. Awake, arise up, and remember that thou must believe in Christ the conqueror of the law and sin. With this faith thou shalt mount up above and beyond the law, into that heaven of grace where is no law nor sin. And albeit the law and sins do still remain, yet they pertain nothing to thee; for thou art dead to the law and sins.

       These things are easily said: but blessed is he which knoweth how to lay sure hold on them in distress of conscience, that is, which can say when sin overweighteth him, and the law accuseth and terrifieth him: What is this to me, O law, that thou accusest me, and sayest that I have committed many sins? Indeed I grant that I have committed many sins, yea and yet still do commit sins daily without number. This toucheth me nothing: I am now deaf and cannot hear thee. Therefore thou talkest to me in vain, for I am dead unto thee. But if thou wilt needs dispute with me as touching my sins, get thee to my flesh and members my servants: teach them, exercise and crucify them, but trouble not me, not Conscience, I say, which am a lady and a queen, and have nothing to do with thee: for I am dead to thee, and now I live to Christ, with whom I am under another law, to wit the law of grace, which ruleth over sin and the law. By what means? By faith in Christ, as Paul declareth hereafter.

       But this seemeth a strange and wonderful definition, that to live to the law is to die to God; and to die to the law, is to live to God. These two propositions are clean contrary to reason, and therefore no crafty sophister or law-worker can understand them. But learn thou the true understanding thereof. He that liveth to the law, that is, seeketh to be justified by the works of the law, is and remaineth a sinner: therefore he is dead and condemned. For the law cannot justify and save him, but accuseth, terrifieth, and killeth him. Therefore to live unto the law is to die unto God and contrariwise, to die to the law is to live unto God. Wherefore if thou wilt live unto God, thou must die to the law: but if thou wilt live to the law, thou shalt die to God. Now, to live unto God, is to be justified by grace or by faith for Christ’s sake, without the law and works.

       This is then the proper and true definition of a Christian: that he ‘as the child of grace and remission of sins, which is under no law, but is above the law, sin, death and hell. And even as Christ is free from the grave, and Peter from the prison, so is a Christian free from the law. And such a respect there is between the justified conscience and the law, as is between Christ raised up from the grave, and the grave; and as is between Peter delivered from the prison, and the prison. And like as Christ by his death and resurrection is dead to the grave, so that it hath now no power over him, nor is able any longer to hold him, but the stone being rolled away, the seals broken, and the keepers astonished, he riseth again, and goeth away without any let; and as Peter by his deliverance is dead to the prison, and goeth whither he will; even so the conscience by grace is delivered from the law. ‘So is every one that is born of the Spirit’ (John 3:8). But the flesh knoweth not from whence this cometh, nor whither it goeth, for it cannot judge but after the law. But on the contrary, the Spirit saith: Let the law accuse me, let sin and death terrify me never so much, yet I do not therefore despair; for I have a law against the law, sin against sin, and death against death.

       Therefore when I feel the remorse and sting of conscience for sin, I behold that brazen serpent Christ hanging upon the Cross. There I find another sin against my sin which accuseth and devoureth me. Now, this other sin (namely in the flesh of Christ) which taketh away the sin of the whole world, is almighty, it condemneth and swalloweth up my sin. So my sin, that it should not accuse and condemn me, is condemned by sin, that is, by Christ crucified: ‘who is made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God through him’ (1 Corinthians 5:21). In like manner I find death in my flesh, which afflicteth and killeth me: but I have in me a contrary death, which is the death of my death; and this death crucifieth and swalloweth up my death.

       These things be not done by the law or works, but by Christ crucified; upon whose shoulders lie all the evils and miseries of mankind, the law, sin, death, the devil and hell: and all these do die in him, for by his death he hath killed them. But we must receive this benefit of Christ with a sure faith. For like as neither the law nor any work thereof is offered unto us, but Christ alone: so nothing is required of us but faith alone, whereby we apprehend Christ, and believe that our sins and our death are condemned and abolished in the sin and death of Christ.

       Thus have we always most certain and sure arguments which necessarily conclude that justification cometh by faith alone. For how should the law and works avail to justification, seeing that Paul is so earnest both against the law and works, and saith plainly that we must be dead to the law, if we will live to God. But if we be dead to the law, and the law be dead to us, then hath it nothing to do with us. How then should it avail anything at all to our justification? Wherefore we must needs say, that we be pronounced righteous by grace alone, or by faith alone in Christ, without the law and works.

       This the blind sophisters do not understand, and therefore they dream that faith justifieth not, except it do the works of charity. By this means faith which believeth m Christ, becometh unprofitable and of none effect; for the virtue of justifying is taken from it, except it be furnished with charity. But now let us set apart the law and charity until another time, and let us rest upon the principal point of this present matter; which is this, that Jesus Christ the Son of God died upon the cross, did bear in his body my sin, the law, death, the devil and hell. These invincible enemies and tyrants do oppress, vex and trouble me, and therefore I am careful how I may be delivered out of their hands, justified and saved. Here I find neither law, work, nor charity, which is able to deliver me from their tyranny. There is none but Christ only and alone, which taketh away the law, killeth my sin, destroyeth my death in his body, and by this means spoileth hell, judgeth and crucifieth the devil, and throweth him down into hell. To be brief, all the enemies which did before torment and oppress me, Christ Jesus hath brought to nought: he hath spoiled them and made a show of them openly, triumphing by himself over them (Colossians 2:15), in such sort, that they now rule and reign no more over me, but are constrained to serve me.

       By this we may plainly see, that there is nothing here for us to do only it belongeth unto us, to hear that these things have been wrought and done in this sort, and by sure and confident faith to apprehend the same. And this is the true formed [and furnished] faith indeed. Now, when I have thus apprehended Christ by faith, and through him am dead to the law, justified from sin, delivered from death, the devil and hell, then I do good works, I love God, I give thanks to him, I exercise charity towards my neighbor.

       But this charity or works following, do neither form nor adorn my faith, but my faith formeth and adorneth charity. This is our divinity; which seemeth strange and marvellous, or rather foolish, to carnal reason: to wit, that I am not only blind and deaf to the law, yea delivered and freed from the law, but also wholly dead unto the same.

       This sentence of Paul: ‘through the law I am dead to the law,’ is full of consolation. Which if it may enter into a man in due season, and take sure hold in his heart with good understanding, it may so work, that it will make him able to stand against all dangers of death, and all terrors of conscience and sin, although they assail him, accuse him, and would drive him to desperation never so much. True it is, that every man is tempted: if not in his life, yet at his death. There, when the law accuseth him and sheweth unto him his sins, his conscience by and by saith: Thou hast sinned. If then thou take good hold of that which Paul here teacheth, thou wilt answer: I grant I have sinned. Then will God punish thee. Nay, he will not do so.

       Why, doth not the law of God so say? I have nothing to do with that law.

       Why so? Because I have another law which striketh this law dumb, that is to say, liberty. What liberty is that? The liberty of Christ, for by Christ I am utterly freed from the law. Therefore that law which is and remaineth a law to the wicked, is to me liberty, and bindeth that law which would condemn me; and by this means that law which would bind me and hold me captive, is now fast bound itself, and holden captive by grace and liberty, which is now my law; which saith to that accusing law: Thou shalt not hold this man bound and captive, or make him guilty, for he is mine; but I will hold thee captive, and bind thy hands that thou shalt not hurt him, for he liveth now unto Christ, and is dead unto thee.

       This to do, is to dash out the teeth of the law, to wrest his sting and all his weapons from him, and to spoil him of all his force. And yet the same law notwithstanding continueth and remaineth still to the wicked and unbelievers: and to us also that be weak, so far forth as we lack faith, it continueth yet still in its force; here it hath its edge and teeth. But if I do believe in Christ, although sin drive me never so much to despair, yet staying upon this liberty which I have in Christ, I confess that I have sinned: but my sin which is a condemned sin, is in Christ which is a condemning sin. Now this condemning sin is stronger than that which is condemned: for it is justifying grace, righteousness, life and salvation. Thus when I feel the terror of death, I say Thou hast nothing to do with me, O death; for I have another death which killeth thee my death, and that death which killeth is stronger than that which is killed.

       Thus a faithful man by faith only in Christ, may raise up himself, and conceive such sure and sound consolation, that he shall not need to fear the devil, sin, death, or any evils. And although the devil set upon him with all might and main, and go about with all the terrors of the world to oppress him, yet he conceiveth good hope even in the midst thereof, and thus he saith: Sir Devil, I fear not thy threatenings and terrors, for there is one whose name is Jesus Christ, in whom I believe; he hath abolished the law, condemned sin, vanquished death, and destroyed hell; and he is thy tormentor, O Satan, for he hath bound thee and holdeth thee captive, to the end that thou shouldest no more hurt me, or any that believeth in him.

       This faith the devil cannot overcome, but is overcome of it. ‘For this (saith St. John) is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcometh the world, but he which believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?’ (1 John 5:4 f.).

 

       Paul therefore, through a vehement zeal and indignation of spirit, calleth grace itself the law, which notwithstanding is an exceeding and inestimable liberty of grace which we have in Christ Jesus. Moreover he giveth this opprobrious name unto the law for our consolation, to let us understand that there is now a new name given unto it, for that it is not now alive any more, but dead and condemned. And here (which is a pleasant sight to behold) he bringeth forth the law, and setteth it before us as a thief and a robber which is already condemned and adjudged to death. For he describeth it as it were a prisoner having both hands and feet fast bound, and all his power taken away, so that it cannot exercise his tyranny, that is to say, it cannot accuse and condemn any more; and with this most pleasant sight, he maketh it contemptible to the conscience; so at now he which believeth in Christ, dare boldly and with a certain holy pride triumph over the law after this manner: I am a sinner; if thou canst do anything against me, O law, now do thy worst. So far off is it then, that the law is now terrible unto him which doth believe.

       Since Christ is risen from death, why should he now fear the grave? Since Peter is delivered from the prison, why should he now fear it? When the maiden was at the point of death, then might she indeed fear the bed: but now being raised up, why should she fear it? In like manner, why should a Christian which verily possesseth Christ by faith, fear the law? True it is, that he feeleth the terrors of the law, but he is not overcome of them; but staying upon the liberty which he hath in Christ, he saith: I hear thee murmuring, O law, that thou wouldest accuse me and condemn me; but this troubleth me nothing at all; thou art to me as the empty grave was unto Christ; for I see that thou art fast bound hand and foot; and this hath my law done. What law is that? Liberty, which is called the law, not because it bindeth me, but because it bindeth my law. The law of the Ten Commandments did bind me. But against that law I have another law, even the law of grace; which notwithstanding is to me no law, neither doth it bind me, but setteth me at liberty. And this is a law against that accusing and condemning law; which law it so bindeth, that it hath no power to bind me any more. So against my death which bindeth me, I have another death, that is to say, life, which quickeneth me in Christ; and this death looseth and freeth me from the bonds of my death, and with the same bonds bindeth my death. So death which bound me is now fast bound; which killed me, is now killed itself by death – that is to say, by very life itself.

 

       Thus Christ, with most sweet names, is called my law, my sin, my death, against the law, against sin, against death: whereas in very deed he is nothing else but mere liberty, righteousness, life and everlasting salvation.

       And for this cause he is made the law of the law, the sin of sin, the death of death, that he might redeem from the curse of the law, justify me and quicken me. So then, while Christ is the law, he is also liberty, while he is sin, he is righteousness, and while he is death, he is life. For in that he suffered the law to accuse him, sin to condemn him, and death to devour him, he abolished the law, he condemned sin, he destroyed death, he justified and saved me. So is Christ the poison of the law, sin and death, and the remedy for the obtaining of liberty, righteousness and everlasting life.

       This manner of speech which Paul here useth, and is proper unto him alone, is very pleasant and full of consolation. Likewise in the seventh chapter to the Romans, he setteth the law of the spirit against the law of the members. And because this is a strange and marvellous manner of speaking, therefore it entereth more easily into the mind and sticketh faster in the memory. Moreover, when he saith: ‘I through the law am dead to the law,’ it soundeth more sweetly than if he should say: I through liberty am dead to the law. For he setteth before us, as it were, a certain picture, as if the law were fighting against the law. As though he should say: O law, if thou carat accuse me, terrify me, and bind me, I will set above and against thee another law, that is to say, another tyrant and tormentor, which shall accuse thee, bind thee and oppress thee. Indeed thou art my tormentor, but I have another tormentor, even Christ, which shall torment thee to death; and when thou art thus bound, tormented and suppressed, then am I at liberty. Likewise if the devil scourge me, I have a stronger devil, which shall in turn scourge him and overcome him. So then grace is a law, not to me, for it bindeth me not, but to my law; which this law so bindeth, that it cannot hurt me any more.

       Thus Paul goeth about to draw us wholly from the beholding of the law, sin, death, and all other evils, and to bring us unto Christ, that there we might behold this joyful conflict: to wit, the law fighting against the law, that it may be to me liberty; sin against sin, that it may be to me righteousness; death against death, that I may obtain life; Christ fighting against the devil, that I may be the child of God; and destroying hell, that I may enjoy the kingdom of heaven.

That I might live unto God

That is to say, that I might be alive in the sight of God. Ye see then that there is no life unless ye be without the law, yea unless ye be utterly dead unto the law, I mean in conscience. Notwithstanding, in the mean season (as I have often said) so long as the body liveth, the flesh must be exercised with laws, and vexed with exactions and penalties of laws. But the inward man, not subject to the law, but delivered and freed from it, is a lively, just and holy person, not of himself or in his own substance, but in Christ, because he believeth in him, as followeth.

I am crucified with Christ

This he addeth, to declare that the law is a devourer of the law. Not only, saith he, I am dead to the law through the law, that I may live to God, but also I am crucified with Christ. But Christ is Lord over the law, because he is crucified and dead unto the law: therefore am I also lord over the law; for I likewise am crucified and dead unto the law, forasmuch as I am crucified and dead with Christ. By what means? By grace and faith. When through this faith I am crucified and dead unto the law, then the law loseth all its power which it had over me, even as it hath lost all its power which it had over Christ. Wherefore, even as Christ himself was crucified to the law, sin, death and the devil, so that they have no further power over him; even so I through faith being now crucified with Christ in spirit, am crucified and dead to the law, sin, death and the devil, so that they have no further power over me, but are now crucified and dead unto me.

       Paul speaketh not here of crucifying by imitation or example, (for to follow the example of Christ, is also to be crucified with him), which crucifying belongeth to the flesh. Whereof Peter speaketh (1 Peter 2:21): ‘Christ suffered for you,’ saith he, ‘leaving unto you an example that ye should follow his steps.’ But he speaketh here of that high crucifying, whereby sin, the devil and death are crucified in Christ, and not in me. Here Christ doth all himself alone. But I believing in Christ, am by faith crucified also with Christ, so that all these things are crucified and dead also unto me.

Nevertheless I live

I speak not so, saith he, of my death and crucifying, as though I now lived not yea I live, for I am quickened by his death and crucifying through the which I die; that is, forasmuch as by grace and faith I am delivered from the law, sin and death, I now live indeed. Wherefore that crucifying and that death whereby I am crucified and dead to the law, sin, death and all evils, is to me resurrection and life. For Christ crucifieth the devil, he killeth death, condemneth sin, and bindeth the law: and I believing this, am delivered from the law, etc. The law therefore is bound, dead and crucified unto me, and I again am bound, dead, and crucified unto it. Wherefore even by this death and crucifying, that is to say, by this grace or liberty, I now live.

       Here (as before I have said) we must observe Paul’s manner of speaking.

       He saith that we are dead and crucified to the law, whereas in very deed the law itself is dead and crucified unto us. But this manner of speech he useth here of purpose, that it may be the more sweet and comfortable unto us. For the law (which notwithstanding continueth, liveth and reigneth in the whole world, which also accuseth and condemneth all men) is crucified and dead unto those only which believe in Christ therefore to them alone belongeth this glory, that they are dead to the law, sin, etc.

Yet now not I

That is to say, not in mine own person, nor in mine own substance. Here he plainly sheweth by what means he liveth; and he teacheth what true Christian righteousness is, namely, that righteousness whereby Christ liveth in us, and not that which is in our person. Therefore when we speak of Christian righteousness, we must utterly reject the person. For if I hold to the person, or speak thereof, then there is made of the person, whether I will or no, a worker subject to the law. But here must Christ and my conscience become one body, so that nothing remain in my sight but Christ crucified and raised from the dead. But if I behold myself only and set Christ aside, I am gone. For by and by I fall into this cogitation: Christ is in heaven, and thou art on the earth; how shalt thou now come unto him?

       Forsooth I will live holily, and do that which the law requireth, so shall I enter into life. Here returning to myself, and considering what I am, and what I ought to be, and what I am bound to do, I lose the sight of Christ, who alone is my righteousness and life. Who being lost, there is no counsel nor succor now remaining, but certain desperation and destruction must needs follow.

       And this is a common evil among men. For such is our misery, that when temptation or death cometh, by and by setting Christ aside, we consider our own life past, and what we have done. Here, except we be raised up again by faith, we must needs perish. Wherefore we must learn in such conflicts and terrors of conscience (forgetting ourselves and setting the law, our life past, and all our works apart, which drive us to the consideration of ourselves only) to turn our eyes wholly to the brazen serpent Jesus Christ crucified, and assuredly believe that he is our righteousness and life, nor fearing the threatenings and terrors of the law, sin, death, the wrath and judgment of God. For Christ, on whom our eyes are fixed, in whom we live, who also liveth in us, is Lord and conqueror of the law, sin, death and all evils: in whom most certain and sure consolation is set forth unto us, and victory given.

Nevertheless I live, yet not I now, but Christ liveth in me

Where he saith, ‘Nevertheless I live,’ he speaketh it, as it were in his own person. Therefore he by and by correcteth himself, saying: ‘Yet not I now.’

       That is to say, I live not now in my own person, ‘but Christ liveth in me.’

       Indeed the person liveth, but not in himself, nor for anything that is in him. But who is that ‘I’ of whom he saith, ‘Yet not I’? This ‘I’ is he which hath the law, and is bound to do the works thereof; who also is a certain person separate from Christ. This person Paul rejecteth; for ‘I’ as a person separate from Christ belongeth to death and hell. Therefore he saith: ‘Now not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ Christ is my form [my furniture and perfection] adorning and beautifying my faith, as the color or the clear light do garnish and beautify the wall. (Thus are we constrained grossly to set forth this matter. For we cannot spiritually conceive, that Christ is so nearly joined and united unto us, as the light or whiteness are unto the wall.) Christ therefore, saith he, thus joined and united unto me and abiding in me, liveth this life in me which now I live; yea Christ himself is this life which now I live. Therefore Christ and I in this behalf are both one.

       Now Christ living in me abolisheth the law, condemneth sin and destroyeth death; for it cannot be, but at his presence all these must needs vanish away. For Christ is everlasting peace, consolation, righteousness and life; and to these the terror of the law, heaviness of mind, sin, hell and death, must needs give place. So Christ living and abiding in me, taketh away and swalloweth up all evils which vex and afflict me. This union or conjunction, then, is the cause that I am delivered from the terror of the law and sin, am taken out of myself, and translated into Christ and his kingdom, which is a kingdom of grace, righteousness, peace, joy, life, salvation, and eternal glory. Whilst I thus abide and dwell in him, what evil is there that can hurt me?

       In the mean season the old man abideth without, and is subject to the law: but as concerning justification, Christ and I must be entirely conjoined and united together, so that he may live in me and I in him. And this is a wonderful manner of speech. Now because Christ liveth in me, therefore whatsoever of grace, righteousness, life, peace and salvation is in me, it is all his, and yet notwithstanding the same is mine also, by that inseparable union and conjunction which is through faith; by the which Christ and I are made as it were one body in spirit. Forasmuch then as Christ liveth in me, it followeth that as there must needs be present with him, grace, righteousness, life and eternal salvation; so the law, sin, and death must needs be absent: yea the law must be crucified, swallowed up and abolished of the law, sin of sin, death of death, the devil of the devil. Thus Paul goeth about to draw us wholly away from ourselves, from the law and works, and to transplant us into Christ and the faith of Christ; so that in the matter of justification we should think upon nothing else but grace, separating the same far from the law and works, which in this matter ought to have no place.

       Paul hath his peculiar phrase or kind of speech, which is not after the manner of men, but divine and heavenly, nor used of the Evangelists or of the rest of the Apostles, saving only of John, who is also wont sometimes so to speak. And if Paul had not first used this phrase, and set forth the same unto us in plain words, the very saints themselves durst not have used it. For it seemeth a very strange and monstrous manner of speaking thus to say: I live, I live not; I am dead, I am not dead; I am a sinner, I am not a sinner; I have the law, I have not the law. Which. phrase is sweet and comfortable to all those that believe in Christ. For in that they behold themselves, they have both the law and sin; but in that they look unto Christ, they are dead to the law, and have no sin. If therefore in the matter of justification thou separate the person of Christ from thy person, then art thou in the law, thou abidest in it, and livest in thyself and not in Christ, and so thou are condemned of the law, and dead before God. For thou hast that faith which (as the sophisters dream) is furnished with charity. Thus I speak for example’s sake. For there was never anyone found that was saved by this faith. And therefore what things soever the popish sophisters have written touching this faith, are nothing else but vain toys and mere deceits of Satan. But let us grant that such there be as have this faith: yet are they not therefore righteous. For they have but an historical faith concerning Christ, which the devil also and all the wicked have.

       Faith therefore must be purely taught: namely, that by faith thou art so entirely and nearly joined unto Christ, that he and thou are made as it were one person; so that thou mayst boldly say: I am now one with Christ, that is to say, Christ’s righteousness, victory and life are mine. And again, Christ may say: I am that sinner, that is, his sins, death etc. are mine, because he is united and joined unto me, and I unto him. For by faith we are so joined together, that we are become one flesh and one bone, as Ephesians 5:30: ‘We are the members of Christ’s body, of his flesh and of his bones.’ So that this faith doth couple Christ and me more near together, than the husband is coupled to his wife. This faith therefore is not an idle quality, but the excellency thereof is such, that it utterly confoundeth these foolish dreams of the sophisters touching their formed faith and charity, their merits, works, and worthiness. These things I would gladly set forth more fully, if by any means I could.

       Hitherto we have declared this to be the first argument of Paul, that either Christ must needs be the minister of sin, or else the law doth not justify.

       When he had finished this argument, he set forth himself for an example, saying that he was dead unto that old law by a certain new law. Now he answereth two objections which might have been made against him. His first answer is against the cavillations of the proud, and the offense of the weak. For when remission of sins is freely preached, then do the malicious by and by slander this preaching, as Romans 3:8: ‘Let us do evil, that good may come.’ For these fellows, as soon as they hear that we are not justified by the law, forthwith do maliciously conclude and say: Why then, let us reject the law. Again, if grace do there abound, say they, where sin doth abound, let us then abound in sin, that we may be justified, and that grace may the more abound. These are the malicious and proud spirits which spitefully and wittingly slander the Scriptures and sayings of the holy Ghost, even as they slandered Paul whilst the Apostles lived, to their own confusion and condemnation, as it is said, 2 Peter 3:16.

       Moreover, the weak, which are not malicious, are offended when they hear that the law and good works are not to be done as necessary to justification. These must be helped, and must be instructed how good works do not justify how they ought to be done, how not to be done.

       These ought to be done, not as the cause, but as the fruits of righteousness: and when we are made righteous, we ought to do them; but not contrariwise, to the end that when we are unrighteous, we may be made righteous. The tree maketh the apple, but not the apple the tree.

       He said before’ ‘I am dead’ etc. Here the presumptuous and malicious might soon take occasion to cavil after this manner: What sayest thou Paul? Art thou dead? How then dost thou speak? How dost thou write?

       The weak also might soon be offended, and say unto him: What art thou Paul? Do we not see that thou art living, and dost such things as pertain to this life? To this he answereth: ‘I live indeed, and yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ There is then a double life. The first is mine, which is natural or animal; the second is the life of another, that is to say, the life of Christ in me. As touching my natural life I am dead, and now I live another life. I live not now as Paul, but Paul is dead. Who is it then that liveth? The Christian. Paul therefore, as he liveth in himself, is wholly dead through the law; but as he liveth in Christ, or rather as Christ liveth in him, he liveth by another life; for Christ speaketh in him, worketh in him, and exerciseth all the operations of life in him. This cometh not now of the life of Paul, but of the life of the Christian. Therefore thou malicious spirit, where I say that I am dead, now slander my words no more. And thou that art weak, be not offended, but distinguish and divide this matter rightly. For, as I said, there are two lives: to wit, my natural life, and the life of another. By mine own life I live not: for if I did, the law would have dominion over me, and hold me in captivity. To the end therefore that it should not hold me in captivity and bondage, I am dead to it by another law and this death purchaseth unto me the life of another, even the life of Christ; which life is not mine by nature, but is given unto me by Christ through faith.

       Secondly, this objection might also have been made against Paul: What sayest thou Paul? Dost thou not live by thine own life, or in thine own flesh, but in Christ? We see thy flesh, but we see not Christ. Wouldst thou then delude us by thine enchantments, that we should not see thee present in flesh, living as thou didst before, having the five senses and doing all things in corporal life as others do? He answereth:

And that which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God

As if he should say: True it is that I live in the flesh, but this life, whatsoever it is, I esteem as no life; for in very deed it is no true life, but a shadow of life, under the which another liveth, that is to say, Christ, who is my true life indeed: which life thou seest not, but only hearest, as ‘thou hearest the sound of the wind but knowest not whence it cometh or whither it goeth’ (John 3:8). Even so thou seest me speaking, eating, laboring, sleeping, and doing other things, and yet thou seest not my life.

       For this time of life which I now live, I live indeed in the flesh, but not of the flesh, or according to the flesh, but in faith, of faith, and according to faith. Paul then denieth not that he liveth m the flesh, because he doth all things that belong to a natural man. He useth also carnal things, as meat, drink, apparel, and such like, which without doubt is to live in the flesh; but he saith that this is not his life: and although he useth carnal things, yet he liveth not through them, as the world liveth through the flesh and after the flesh: for it neither knoweth nor hopeth for any life besides this.

       Therefore, saith he, this life which I now live in the flesh, whatsoever it is, I live in the faith of the Son of God. For this word which I now corporally speak, is the word not of the flesh, but of the Holy Ghost, and of Christ.

       This sight which goeth in or cometh out at mine eyes, proceedeth not of the flesh, that is to say, it is not governed of the flesh, but of the Holy Ghost. So my hearing cometh not of the flesh, although it be in the flesh, but it is in and of the Holy Ghost. A Christian speaketh none other but chaste, sober, and holy things, which pertain unto Christ, to the glory of God and the profit of his neighbor. These things come not of the flesh, neither are done according to the flesh, and yet are they in the flesh. For I cannot teach, write, pray, or gave thanks, but with those instruments of the flesh, which are necessary to the accomplishing of these works: and yet notwithstanding these works proceed not of the flesh, but are given by God from above. In lake manner I behold a woman, but with a chaste eye, not lusting after her. This beholding cometh not of the flesh, although it be in the flesh, because the eyes are the carnal instruments of this sight; but the chasteness of this sight cometh from heaven.

       Thus a Christian useth the world and all creatures, so that there is no difference between him and the infidel. For in their apparel, in their feeding, in their hearing, seeing, speaking, gestures, countenances and outward appearance they are like, as Paul saith also of Christ: ‘In outward appearance he was found as a man’ (Philippians 2:7). Yet notwithstanding there is great difference. For I live in the flesh, I grant, but I live not of myself; but that which I now live in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God. This which I now speak, springeth out of another fountain than that which thou heardest of me before. Paul before his conversion spake with the same voice and tongue wherewith he spake afterwards; but his voice and his tongue were then blasphemous, and therefore he could speak nothing else but blasphemies and abominations against Christ and his Church. After he was converted he had the same flesh, the same voice and tongue which he had before, and nothing was changed: but his voice and his tongue then uttered no blasphemies, but spiritual and heavenly words, to wit, thanksgiving and the praise of God: which came of faith and the Holy Ghost. So then I live in the flesh, but not of the flesh or after the flesh, but in the faith of the Son of God.

       Hereby we may plainly see whence this other and spiritual life cometh which the natural man doth in no wise perceive, for he knoweth not what manner of life this is. He heareth the sound of the wind, but whence it cometh, or whither it goeth he knoweth not. He heareth the voice of the spiritual man, he knoweth his face, his manners, and his gestures; but he seeth not whence those words, which are not now wicked and blasphemous as before, but holy and godly, or whence those motions and actions do come. For this life is in the heart by faith, where the flesh is killed, and Christ reigneth with his Holy Spirit, who now seeth, heareth, speaketh, worketh, suffereth, and doth all other things in him, although the flesh do resist. To conclude, this life is not of the flesh, although it be in the flesh; but of Christ the Son of God, whom the Christian possesseth by faith.

Who loved me, and gave himself for me

Here have ye the true manner of justification set before your eyes, and a perfect example of the assurance of faith. He that can with a firm and constant faith say these words with Paul: ‘I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,’ is happy indeed. And with these words Paul taketh away the whole righteousness of the law and works, as afterwards we will declare. We must therefore diligently weigh and consider these words: ‘The Son of God loved me, and gave himself for me.’ It was not I then that first loved the Son of God, and delivered myself for him; as the sophisters dream that they love the Son of God, and deliver themselves for him. For they teach that a man, ex puris naturalibus, that is, of his own pure natural strength, is able to do meritorious works before grace, and love God and Christ above all things. These fellows prevent the love of God and Christ; for they do that is in them, say they; that is, they become monks, they do not only fulfill the commandments, but also they observe the counsels, they do the works of supererogation, and sell their superfluous merits to laymen, and so, as they dream, they give themselves for Christ, and thereby save both themselves and others, turning the words of Paul: ‘Which loved me’ etc., clean contrary, and saying: We have loved Christ and given ourselves for him. Thus while the wicked, being puffed up with the wisdom of the flesh, imagine that they do what in them lieth, they love God, they deliver themselves for Christ: what do they else but abolish the Gospel, deride, deny, and blaspheme Christ, yea, spit upon him and tread him under foot? They confess in words that he is a justifier and a savior: yet m very deed they take from him the power both to justify and save, and give the same to their own will-works, their ceremonies and devotions. This is to live in their own righteousness and works and not in the faith of the Son of God.

‘To do what in him lieth.’

Wherefore this is not the true way to attain justification, that thou shouldst begin to do that, which in thee lieth: as the sophisters and school doctors do teach, which affirm that if a man do what in him lieth, God will infallibly give unto him his grace. Which proposition is an article of faith with them.

       And to shew that they understand no whit of the doctrine of Paul and the Gospel, they say that this clause: ‘do what in him lieth,’ ought not to be straitly urged, but it sufficeth if it be taken as a physical point, and not as a mathematical and indivisible, which cannot exist. That is to say, it is enough if we do those things which may be approved by the judgment of any good man: for then grace shall surely follow, not indeed by reason of the merit of congruence in itself, but by reason of the infallibility of God, who is so good and just, that he must needs give grace as a recompense for good works, etc. And hereof cometh this verse: – Ultra posse viri non vult Deus ulla requiri.

       That is, God will no more require of man, Than of himself perform he can.

       Indeed this is a good saying if it be used rightly, and in place convenient that is, in the government of commonweals or families, or in things natural. As for example: if I being in the kingdom of reason, do govern a family, build a house, or execute the office of a magistrate, doing as much as I am able, or that which in me lieth, therein I am excused. For this kingdom hath its bounds and limits: to the which also these sayings (‘to do what in us lieth,’ or ‘to do as much as we are able’) do properly pertain. But the sophisters apply these sayings to the spiritual kingdom, wherein a man can do nothing else but sin: for he is ‘sold under sin’ (Romans 7:14). But in external things (such I mean as pertain to civil and household government) man is not a servant, but a lord of these corporal affairs. Wherefore the sophisters have done wickedly in applying these sentences to the Church, which properly pertain to the government of commonweals and families.

       For the kingdom of man’s reason and the spiritual kingdom must be separate far asunder.

       Moreover, they say that nature is corrupt, but the qualities of nature notwithstanding are sound and uncorrupt, which also they attribute even unto devils. Upon this ground they reason after this manner: if the natural qualities of man be sound and uncorrupt, then is his understanding pure and his will good axed uncorrupt, and so consequently all the qualities of nature are perfect m him. To know these things, it is necessary for you, that the purity of the doctrine of faith may be preserved. Where they say then that the natural qualities of man are sound and uncorrupt, I do grant this. But if thereof they do infer that a man is able of himself to fulfill the law, to love God, etc., then I deny the consequence; and here I make a distinction between the natural and the spiritual qualities, and I say that the spiritual qualities are not sound, but corrupt, yet are utterly quenched through sin both in man and devil, so that there is in them nothing else but corrupt understanding and a will continually striving against the will of God, which thinketh nothing else but that which is against God. Notwithstanding I grant that the natural qualities are uncorrupt. But what qualities are they? That a man drowned in ungodliness, and a bondslave of Satan, hath will, reason, free choice, and power notwithstanding to build a house, to execute the office of a magistrate, to guide a ship, and to do such other things as are subject unto man, according to Gen 1. For these things are not taken from him: generation, civil government, household management, are not done away, but they are confirmed by these sayings; which the sophisters have falsely applied to the spiritual qualities. They took them, no doubt, from the Fathers, but because they did not well understand than, they wrested them to things spiritual, and thus mingled and confounded things civil and ecclesiastical. Our part therefore is to restore these things to their purity, and to remove these scandals from the Church. We do not then deny but that these sentences are true in the corporal kingdom: but if ye bring them into the spiritual kingdom and the presence of God, I utterly deny them; for there, as I said, we are clean overwhelmed and drowned in sins.

       Whatsoever is in our will is evil; whatsoever is in our understanding is error. Wherefore in matters pertaining to God, man hath nothing but darkness, errors, malice, and perverseness both of will and understanding.

       How then shall he work well, fulfill the law, love God, etc.?

       Wherefore Paul saith here that Christ first began and not we. ‘He, even he (saith Paul) loved me and gave himself for me.’ As if he said: He found in me no good will or right understanding; but this good Lord had mercy upon me. He saw me to be nothing else but wicked, going astray, contemning God, and flying from him more and more; yea rebelling against God, taken, led, and carried away captive of the devil. Thus of his mere mercy preventing my reason, my will, and my understanding, he loved me, and so loved me, that he gave himself for me, to the end that I might be freed from the law, sin, the devil, and death.

       Again, these words: ‘The Son of God loved me, and gave himself for me,’ are mighty thunderings and lightnings from heaven against the righteousness of the law and the doctrine of works. So great and so horrible wickedness, error, darkness and ignorance was in my will and understanding, that it was impossible for me to be ransomed by any other means than by such an inestimable price. Why do we then vaunt of the integrity and soundness of nature, of the rule of reason, of freewill, and of doing what in us lieth? Why do I offer, to pacify the wrath of God (who as Moses saith, ‘is a consuming fire,’ Deuteronomy 4:24), this my rotten stubble and straw, yea horrible sins, and claim of him to reward me with grace and everlasting life for them, since here I learn such wickedness to lie lurking in my nature, that the whole world and all creatures thereto were not able to countervail the indignation of God, but that the very Son of God himself must needs be delivered for the same?

       But let us consider well this price, and let us behold this captive delivered (as Paul saith) ‘for me,’ the Son of God I mean, and we shall see him without all comparison to exceed and excel all creatures. What wilt thou do when thou hearest the Apostle say that such an inestimable price was given for thy sins? Wilt thou bring thy cowl, thy shaven crown, thy chastity, thy obedience, thy poverty? What shall all these do? Yea, what shall the law of Moses avail, and the works of the law? What shall all the works of all men, and all the sufferings of the martyrs profit thee? What is the obedience of all the holy angels in comparison of the Son of God delivered, and that most shamefully, even to the death of the Gross, so that there was no drop of his most precious blood, but it was shed, and that for thy sins? If thou didst but rightly consider this price, thou shouldst hold as accursed all these ceremonies, vows, works, and merits before grace and after, and throw them all down to hell. For it is an intolerable and horrible blasphemy to imagine that there is any work whereby thou shouldst presume to pacify God, since thou seest that there is nothing which is able to pacify him but this inestimable price, even the death and blood of the Son of God, one drop whereof is more precious than the whole world.

For me

Who is this ‘me’? Even I wretched and damnable sinner, so dearly beloved of the Son of God, that he gave himself for me. If I then through works or merits of congruence and worthiness could have loved the Son of God, and so come unto him, what needed he to deliver himself for me? Hereby it appeareth how coldly the Papists handled, yea how they utterly neglected the holy Scriptures, and the doctrine of faith. For if they had considered but only these words, that it behoved the Son of God to be given for me, it had been impossible that any order or sect should have sprung up amongst them. For faith would by and by have answered: Why dost thou choose this kind of life, this religious order, this work? Dost thou this to please God, or to be justified thereby? Dost thou not hear, O thou wretch, that the Son of God shed his blood for thee? This true faith in Christ would easily have withstood all manner of sects.

       Wherefore I say (as I have oftentimes said) that there is no remedy against sects, or power to resist them, but this only article of Christian righteousness. If we lose this article, it is impossible for us to withstand any errors or sects; as we may see at this day in the fantastical spirits, the Anabaptists and the Sacramentarians: who being fallen away from this article of justification, will never cease to fall, err, and seduce others until they come to the fullness of all iniquity. There is no doubt, but they will raise up innumerable sects, and still devise new works. But what are all these things (though they have never so goodly a shew of holiness), if ye compare them to the death and blood of the Son of God, who gave himself for me? Consider well, I pray you, who this Son of God is, how glorious he is, how mighty he as. What is heaven and earth in comparison of him? Let all the Papists and all the authors of sects, yea thought the whole world take their part, be thrown down into hell, with all their righteousness, works and merits, rather than the truth of the Gospel should be blemished, and the glory of Christ perish. What mean they then to brag so much of works and merits? If I being a wretch and a damned sinner could be redeemed by any other price, what needed the Son of God. to be given for me? But because there was no other price either in heaven or in earth, but Christ the Son of God, therefore it was most necessary that he should be delivered for me. Moreover, this he did of inestimable love; for Paul saith ‘which loved me.’

       Wherefore these words: ‘which loved me’ etc., are full of faith. And he that can utter this little word ‘me,’ and apply it unto himself with a true and a constant faith as Paul did, shall be a good disputer with Paul against the law. For he delivered neither sheep, ox, gold, nor silver, but even God himself entirely and wholly, ‘for me,’ even for ‘me,’ I say, a miserable and wretched sinner. Now therefore, in that the Son of God was thus delivered to death for me, I take comfort and apply this unto myself. And this manner of applying is the very true force and power of faith. He that worketh speaketh not thus: ‘Christ loved me,’ etc.

       These words (which are the pure preaching of grace and Christian righteousness indeed) Paul setteth against the righteousness of the law. As if he said: be it so that the law is a heavenly doctrine, and hath also his glory; yet notwithstanding it loved not me, nor gave itself for me; yea, it accuseth me, terrifieth me, and driveth me to desperation. But I have now another which hath delivered me from the terrors of the law, sin, and death, and hath brought me into liberty, the righteousness of God, and eternal life.

       Who is called the Son of God, which loveth me and giveth himself for me; to whom be praise and glory for ever.

       Faith therefore, as I have said, embraceth and wrappeth in itself Christ Jesus the Son of God, delivered to-death for us, as Paul here teacheth, who being apprehended by faith, giveth unto us righteousness and life. For Christ is the Son of God, which of mere love gave himself for our redemption. And with these words Paul setteth out most lively the priesthood and offices of Christ: which are, to pacify God, to make intercession for sinners, to offer up himself a sacrifice for their sins, to redeem, to instruct, and to comfort them, etc. Let us learn therefore to give a true definition of Christ, not as the school-divines and meritmongers do, which make him a new lawgiver, who abolishing the old law hath established a new. To these Christ is nothing else but an exactor and a tyrant. But let us define him as Paul here doth: namely, that he is the Son of God, who not for our desert or any righteousness of ours, but of his own free mercy and love, offered up himself a sacrifice for us sinners, that he might sanctify us for ever.

       Christ then is no Moses, no exactor, no giver of laws, but a giver of grace, a Savior, and one that is full of mercy: briefly, he is nothing else but infinite mercy and goodness, freely given and bountifully giving unto us. And thus shall you paint out Christ in his right colors. If you suffer him any otherwise to be painted out unto you, when temptation and trouble cometh you shall soon be overthrown. Now, as it is the greatest knowledge and cunning that Christians can have, thus to define Christ; so of all things it is the hardest. For I myself even in this great light of the Gospel, wherein I have been so long exercised, have much ado to hold this definition of Christ which Paul here giveth so deeply hath the doctrine and pestilent opinion that Christ is a lawgiver, entered even as it were oil into my bones.

       Ye young men therefore are in this case much more happy than we that are old. For ye are not infected with these pernicious errors, wherein I have been so nusled and so drowned even from my youth, that at the very hearing of the name of Christ my heart hath trembled and quaked for fear: for I was persuaded that he was a severe judge. Wherefore it is to me a double travail and trouble to correct and reform this evil: first to forget, to condemn, and to resist this old grounded error, that Christ is a lawgiver and a judge; for it always returneth and plucketh me back: then to plant in my heart a new and a true persuasion of Christ that he is a justifier and a Savior. Ye (I say) that are young, may learn with much less difficulty to know Christ purely and sincerely, if ye will. Wherefore if any man feel himself oppressed with heaviness and anguish of heart, he must not impute it unto Christ, although it come under the name of Christ, but unto the devil, who oftentimes cometh under the color of Christ, and transformeth himself into an angel of light.

       Let us learn therefore to put a difference between Christ and a lawgiver, not only in word but also in deed and in practice; that when the devil shall come under the shadow of Christ, and shall go about to trouble us under his name, we may know him not to be Christ, but a very fiend indeed. For Christ when he cometh, is nothing else but joy and sweetness to a trembling and broken heart, as here Paul witnesseth, who setteth him out with this most sweet and comfortable title when he saith: ‘Which loved ME, and gave himself for me.’ Christ therefore in very deed is a lover of those which are in trouble or anguish, in sin and death, and such a lover as gave himself for us: who is also our High Priest, that is to say, a mediator between God and us miserable and wretched sinners. What could be said, I pray you, more sweet and comfortable than this? Now, if these things be true (as they are indeed most true, or else the Gospe1 must be nothing but a fable), then are we not justified by the righteousness of the law: but much less by our own righteousness.

       Read therefore with great vehemency these words ‘ME’ and ‘FOR ME,’ and so inwardly practice with thyself that thou with a sure faith mayst conceive and print this ‘ME’ in thy heart, and apply it unto thyself, not doubting but that thou art of the number of those to whom this ‘ME’ belongeth: also that Christ hath not only loved Peter and Paul and given himself for them, but that the same grace also which is comprehended in this ‘ME,’ as well pertaineth and cometh unto us, as unto them. For as we cannot deny but that we are all sinners, and are constrained to say that through the sin of Adam we are all lost, were made the enemies of God, subject to the wrath and judgment of God, and guilty of eternal death (for this do all terrified hearts feel and confess, and more indeed than they should do); so can we not deny but that Christ died for our sins, that he might make us righteous, For he died not to justify the righteous, but the unrighteous, and to make them the friends and children of God, and inheritors of all heavenly gifts. Therefore, when I feel and confess myself to be a sinner through Adam’s transgression, why should I not say that I am made righteous through the righteousness of Christ, especially when I hear that he loved me, and gave himself for me? This did Paul most steadfastly believe, and therefore he speaketh these words with so great vehemency and full assurance. Which may he grant unto us, in some part at the least, who hath loved us, and given himself for us. Amen.

I do not abrogate or reject the grace of God

Now he prepareth a way to the second argument of this Epistle. And here ye must diligently consider, that to seek to be justified by the works of the law, is to reject the grace of God. But, I pray you, what can be more execrable or horrible, than to reject the grace of God, and to refuse to be justified by faith in Christ? It is enough and too much already that we are ungodly and transgressors of all the commandments of God; and yet we commit moreover the very sin of sins, in that we do so confidently refuse the grace of God and remission of sins offered unto us by Christ. This blasphemy is more horrible than can be expressed. There is no sin which Paul and the other Apostles did so much detest, as the contempt of grace and denial of Christ; and yet there is no sin more common. Hereof it cometh, that Paul above the rest, doth so sharply inveigh against Antichrist, for that he taketh away grace and denieth the benefit of Christ our High Priest, who offered up himself a sacrifice for our sins. Now, thus to deny Christ, what is it else but to spit in his face, to tread him under foot, to set himself in his place, and to say; I will justify thee and I will save thee? By what means? By masses, pilgrimages, pardons, merits and such like. We see then how proudly Anti-Christ hath lift himself against and above God, and set himself in the place of Christ, rejected the grace of God, and denied the faith. For this is his doctrine: Faith availeth nothing (saith he) unless it be joined with works. And by this false and detestable doctrine he hath defaced, darkened, and utterly buried the benefit of Christ, and in the stead of the grace of Christ and his kingdom, he hath established the doctrine of works and the kingdom of ceremonies, and hath confirmed the same with mere trifles and doting dreams, and by this means he hath wrested the whole world out of Christ’s hands (who alone ought to reign in the conscience), and hath thrown it down headlong into hell.

       Hereby we may easily understand what it is to reject and refuse the grace of God, even to seek to be justified by the law. Now who hath ever heard that a man by keeping of the law, rejecteth grace? Do we then sin in keeping of the law? No forsooth. But we despise grace when we observe the law to this end, that we may be justified through it. The law is good, holy, and profitable, and yet it justifieth not. He then that keepeth the law to be justified thereby, rejecteth grace, denieth Christ, despiseth his sacrifice, and will not be saved by this inestimable price, but will satisfy for his sins through the righteousness of the law, or deserve grace by his own righteousness. And this man blasphemeth and despiseth the grace of God.

       Now, what an horrible thing is it to say that any man should be so devilish as to despise the grace and mercy of God! And yet notwithstanding all the world doth so: albeit it cannot abide that any man should so judge of it, but will seem to do high service and honor unto God. Now followeth the second argument.

For if righteousness come by the law, then Christ died in vain

Here again I admonish you, that Paul speaketh not of the ceremonial law only, as the sophisters do continually dream. This error did Origen and Jerome first set forth, which taught most perniciously in this matter, and all the school-doctors did follow them; and at this day Erasmus doth approve and confirm their error. But the godly ought utterly to reject the doting dreams of these men, which do so corrupt Paul with their foolish glosses; for they speak of a thing whereof they never had any knowledge or experience. As if, forsooth, the ceremonies also were not good and holy! For without doubt, the ordination of the priesthood, circumcision, the sacrifices, the worship and sense of God, and such like holy works, were all ceremonies. Therefore he speaketh of the whole law.

       These words of Paul ought diligently to be weighed and considered in this wise. Is it true that Christ suffered death or not? Again, did he suffer in vain or not? Here we are constrained to answer, except we be stark mad, that he suffered in very deed, and that he suffered not in vain, nor for himself, but for us. If then he suffered not in vain, it followeth of necessity that righteousness cometh not by the law.

       Take now therefore both laws, the ceremonial law and the moral, or the Ten Commandments, and imagine that thou art come so far by the merit of congruence, that the Spirit is given unto thee, and that thou hast charity, (although this were something monstrous, and is nowhere to be found in the nature of things); but imagine, I say, that by doing what in thee lieth, thou obtainest grace, art righteous, possessest the Spirit.

       Whence cometh all this? Of the merit of congruence? Then hast thou no need of Christ, but for thee he is unprofitable and hath died in vain.

       Then do thou take even the law of the Ten Commandments itself, wherein is commanded the highest worship and service of God (that is to say: the fear of God, faith in God, the love of God, and the love of our neighbor), and shew me any man that hath been justified thereby; yet it remaineth true notwithstanding, that Christ died in vain. For he that is justified by the law of the Ten Commandments, hath power in himself to obtain righteousness, since by putting no impediment and by doing what in him lieth, he infallibly deserveth grace and the Holy Ghost is poured into him, so that he is able to love God and his neighbor. This being granted, it must needs follow that Christ died in vain. For what need of Christ which loveth him and giveth himself for him, hath he that without Christ is able by the merit of congruence to obtain grace, and then to work well and deserve eternal life by the went of worthiness, or at the least to be justified by his keeping of the law? Then let Christ be taken away with all his benefits, for he is utterly unprofitable, But why was he born? Why was he crucified? Why did he suffer? Why was he made my High Priest, loving me and giving ‘himself an inestimable sacrifice for me? In vain, no doubt, and to no purpose at all, if righteousness cometh by no other means than the sophisters teach: for then I find righteousness in the law or in myself, apart from grace and Christ.

       Is this horrible blasphemy, to be suffered or dissembled, that the Divine Majesty, not sparing his own dear Son, but delivering him up to death for us all, should not do all these things seriously and in good earnest, but as it were in sport? Before I would admit this blasphemy, I would not only that the holiness of all the Papists and meritmongers, but also of all the saints and holy angels should be thrown into the bottom of hell, and condemned with the devil. Mine eyes shall behold nothing else but Christ the Son of God. He ought to be such a treasure unto me, that all other things should be but dung in comparison of him. He ought to be such a light unto me, that when I have apprehended him by faith, I should not know whether there be any law, any sin, any righteousness, or any unrighteousness in the world. For what are all things which are in heaven and earth in comparison of the Son of God, Jesus Christ my Lord, who loved me and gave himself for me?

       Wherefore, to reject the grace of God is an horrible sin, and commonly reigning throughout the world; whereof all merit-mongers are guilty. For while they seek to be justified by the merit of congruence, or by their own works and sufferings, or by the law, they reject the grace of God and Christ, as I have said. And of all these abominations the Pope hath been the only author. For he hath not only defaced and trodden under his feet the Gospel of Christ, but hath also replenished the world with his cursed traditions. And hereof, among other enormities, his bulls and pardons are a sufficient witness; whereby he absolveth, not such as believe, but such as are Contrite, make confession to a priest, and reach out their helping hand [to the maintenance of his pomp and traditions]: which is as much as to say that Christ died for naught, and that grace is empty and vain. Wherefore the abominations and blasphemies of the Pope’s kingdom are beyond measure; and yet even now in this great light of the truth, the blind and obstinate sophisters do continue still in their wicked opinions and doting dreams, saying that the qualities of nature do remain sound and uncorrupt, and that men are able to prepare them. selves to grace by their own good deeds and merits. And so far off is it that they will acknowledge their impiety and error, that they do yet still obstinately defend the same even against their own conscience.

       But we do constantly affirm with Paul (for we will not reject the grace of God) that either Christ died in vain, or else the law justifieth not. But Christ died not in vain: therefore the law justifieth not. Christ the Son Of God, of his own free grace and mercy hath justified us: therefore the law could not justify us; for if it could, then had Christ done unwisely in that he gave himself for our sins, that we thereby might be justified. We conclude therefore, that we are justified neither by our own works and merits before grace or after, nor by our cross and afflictions, nor yet by the law, but by faith Only in Chest.

       Now if my salvation was so costly and dear a price unto Christ, that he was constrained to die for my sins, then all my works, with all the righteousness of the law, are but vile and nothing worth in comparison of this inestimable price. For how can I build that for a farthing, Which cost many thousand talents of gold? Now the law (to speak noticing of other matters which are of much less value) with all the works and righteousness thereof, is but as a farthing if ye compare it unto Christ: who by his death and resurrection hath vanquished my death, and hath purchased unto me righteousness and everlasting life. Should I then despise and reject this incomparable price, and by the law or by the works of congruence and worthiness (vile dross and dung, for so Paul calleth them, if they be compared unto Christ) seek that righteousness which Christ freely and of mere love hath given unto me already, and hath cost him so great a price, that he was constrained to give himself and even his own heart-blood for me? This, as I have said, the whole world doth, and especially such as will be counted more holy and religious than others. Whereby they plainly witness that Christ died in vain, although with their mouths they confess the contrary never so much: which is most horribly to blaspheme the Son of God, to spit in his face, to tread him under foot, to count the blood of the Testament as an unholy thing, etc.

       Paul here disputing of righteousness, hath no civil matter in hand, that is, he speaketh not of civil righteousness (which God notwithstanding alloweth and requireth, and giveth rewards thereunto accordingly; which also reason is able in some part to perform), but he intreateth here of the righteousness that availeth before God, whereby we are delivered from the law, sin, death and all evils, and made partakers of grace, righteousness and life, and finally, are now become lords of heaven and earth and of all other creatures. This righteousness neither man’s law, neither the law of God is able to perform.

       The law is given besides and above reason, to be a light and a help to man, and to shew him what he ought to do, and what to leave undone.

       Notwithstanding man, with all his strength and reason, yea with this great light also and heavenly benefit (the law I mean) cannot be justified. Now if that which is the most excellent thing in the world (the law I say, which as a bright shining sun is joined to the dim lamp and earthly light of man’s reason to lighten and direct it) is not able to justify, what can reason do, I pray you, without the law? What? Doubtless nothing else but that which the Pope with his dreaming sophisters and his whole synagogue hath done, who with their own traditions have darkened the light even of the First Commandment. Wherefore there is not one of them that is able rightly to understand any one syllable of the law, but every man walketh in mere darkness of man s reason. And this error is much more pernicious and deadly, than that which proceedeth of the doctrine of works and the law.

       These words therefore are very effectual and full of power when he saith: ‘If righteousness come by the law, then Christ died in vain.’ He speaketh here nothing of man’s strength, reason or wisdom, be it never so great (for the greater it is, the sooner it deceiveth a man), but he saith plainly without all condition: ‘If by the law,’ etc. Wherefore reason lightened, aided and directed by the law, yea even by the law of God, is so unable to attain righteousness, that it draweth a man from righteousness, and rejecteth Christ. Set thou therefore the death of Christ alone against all laws, and determine with Paul to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2), that no light may shine beside him. Then shalt thou be learned indeed, righteous and holy, and shalt receive the Holy Ghost, which shall preserve thee in the purity of the Word and faith: but set Christ aside, and all things are but vain.

       Here again we see what a goodly commendation Paul giveth to the righteousness of the law, or man’s own righteousness, namely, that it is a condemning and rejecting of the grace of God, and an abolishing of the death of Christ. Paul is no great rhetorician, and yet see what matter he ministereth to him that listeth to play the rhetorician. What eloquence is able sufficiently to set forth these words: ‘to reject grace,’ ‘the grace of God’; also, ‘that Christ died in vain’? The horribleness whereof is such that all the eloquence in the world is not able to express it. It is a small matter to say, that any man died in vain: but to say that Christ died in vain, is to take him quite away. Whoso listeth to play the rhetorician, hath here matter enough to dilate and amplify at large, what a horrible and blasphemous doctrine it is to set up the righteousness of the law and works, For what can be more blasphemous and horrible, than to make the death of Christ unprofitable? And what do I else, if I keep the law to this end, that I may be justified thereby? Now to make the death of Christ unprofitable, is to make his resurrection, his victory, his glory, his kingdom, heaven, earth, God himself, the majesty of God, and briefly all things else, unprofitable and of none effect.

       This thundering and lightning from heaven against the righteousness of the law and man’s own righteousness, should make us abhor it. And here with this thunderclap falleth down all the orders of monks and friars, with all such religion and righteousness as consisteth either in the keeping of the law or in the following of a self-appointed rule. For who will not detest his own vows, his cowl, his shaven crown, all men’s traditions, yea the very law of Moses also, if he hear that for these things he rejecteth the grace of God, and maketh the death of Christ unprofitable. The world hearing this, doth not believe that it is true. It thinketh that such horrible wickedness cannot enter into any man’s heart, that he should reject the grace of God and esteem the death of Christ as a thing of naught. And yet this sin commonly reigneth. For whosoever seeketh righteousness apart from faith in Christ, whether by works, by satisfactions, or afflictions, or by the law, rejecteth the grace of God and despiseth the death of Christ, whatsoever he protesteth with his mouth to the contrary.

      

CHAPTER 3

O foolish galatians!

PAUL here sheweth his apostolical care and burning zeal which he beareth to the Church; so that in disputing and confuting, he intermingleth sometimes gentle exhortation, and sometimes he sharply reproveth, according to his own rule given to Timothy. ‘Preach,’ saith he, ‘the word: be instant in season and out of season: reprove, rebuke, exhort’ (Timothy 4:2). Here the simple reader may haply be deceived if he be not circumspect, to think that Paul in teaching keepeth no order at all. And indeed after the manner of the rhetoricians he observeth none: but as concerning the spirit he useth a goodly order.

       Now after that he hath sufficiently proved, and with two strong arguments confirmed this article, that Christian righteousness cometh not by keeping of the law, but by faith in Christ, and withal hath confuted the doctrine of the false apostles; in the midst of this discourse he turneth his talk to the Galatians, and reproveth them, saying: ‘O ye foolish Galatians,’ etc. As if he should say: Alas, from whence are ye fallen, O ye miserable Galatians? I have most carefully and diligently taught you the truth of the Gospel, and ye also have received the same of me with fervent zeal and great diligence.

       How then cometh it to pass, that ye are so suddenly fallen away from it? ‘Who hath bewitched you?’

       He reproveth the Galatians very sharply, as it seemeth, when he calleth them fools, bewitched, and disobedient to the truth. Now whether he did this of zeal or compassion, I will not here contend: both may be true. A carnal man would interpret this to be a reviling., rather than a godly reprehension. Did Paul then give an evil example, or was he spiteful against the churches of Galatia, because he called them foolish and bewitched? No, not so. For with a Christian zeal it is lawful for an Apostle, a pastor, or preacher, sharply to reprove the people committed to his charge: and such reprovings are both fatherly and godly. So parents, of a fatherly and motherly affection, do sharply reprove and rebuke their children: which they would not bear if another should do it. The schoolmaster sometimes is angry with his scholar, he rebuketh him and beateth him: all which he taketh in good part, and would not bear it at the hands of his equal. The magistrate likewise is angry: he reproveth and punisheth such as are under his charge. And this discipline is not only good, but also very necessary: without the which nothing can be well done. Wherefore, unless the magistrate, the minister, the father and mother be angry, and use to reprove or rebuke when the case requireth, he is unprofitable, and never shall discharge his office rightly.

       Wherefore sharp chidings and bitter words are as necessary in every kind of life, as any other virtue else. Yet notwithstanding, this anger must be so tempered, that it proceed not of any envy or malice, but only of a fatherly affection and Christian zeal; that is to say, it ought not to be childish or woman-like, seeking revenge; but only for the correcting of the fault; as the father correcteth not his child with desire to revenge, but only that the child thereby may be the better. And these kinds of anger are good, and are called in the Scripture zeals or jealousies. For in chastising my brother, my child, my scholar or subject in this sort, I seek not his destruction, but his profit and welfare.

       It may be then that Paul here rebuketh the Galatians, either of a very zeal (not to destroy them, but by this means to reduce them into the way again, and to amend them) or else of pity and compassion, as it were by way of complaint, for that it grieveth him that they should be so miserably seduced. As if he should say: I am sorry and ashamed to hear of this your miserable case, your wretched doings, etc. In like manner do we also reprehend the miserable: not that we tread them down, or upbraid them with their misery, but as having compassion on them, and seeking their amendment. This I say, lest any man should cavil, that Paul railed upon the churches, contrary to the rule of the Gospel.

       In like manner Christ rebuketh the Pharisees, calling them serpents, the generation of vipers, the children of the devil (Matthew 23:33 etc). But these are the rebukings of the Holy Ghost. They are fatherly and motherly, and as the chidings of a faithful friend; as it is said also in the Proverbs: ‘better are the wounds of a friend, than the kisses of an enemy’ (Proverbs 27:6). Thus one and the self-same rebuke, if it come out of the mouth of a father, may be a great benefit; but if it proceed out of the mouth of our equal or enemy, it is a spiteful reproach. When two men do one thing, in the one it is commendable, and in the other it is reproved. But when Christ and Paul do reprove, it is done with singular virtue and commendation; but when a private man shall do the like, it is in him a great vice. Therefore one and the self-same word in the mouth of Paul is a benefit; but in the mouth of another it is a reproach.

       There is a certain vehemency to be noted in this word ‘Galatians.’ For he calleth them not brethren, as elsewhere he is wont to do; but he calleth them by the name which was proper to their country. And it seemeth that it was the natural vice of that nation to be foolish; like as it was the fault of the Cretans to be liars. As if he should say: As ye are called, even so are ye indeed, and so ye continue; that is to say, foolish Galatians; and so you shew yourselves to be even now in the business of the Gospel (wherein notwithstanding ye ought to have been most wise) yet ye continue still in your own nature, and are no changelings. In like manner we also distinguish nations by their vices. For each nation hath its own peculiar vices: the Germans are ever ready for revolution, the Italians are arrogant, etc. Thus Paul by way of correction, putteth the Galatians in mind of their own nature.

       Moreover we are here admonished, that according to the flesh, there are yet natural vices remaining in the churches, and in Christians. Grace maketh not such a change in the godly, that forthwith they become altogether new creatures, and perfect in all things; but there remain yet certain dregs of their old and natural corruption. As if a man that is naturally inclined to anger, be converted to Christ, although he be mollified by grace (the Holy Ghost so framing his heart, that he is now become more meek and gentle), yet this natural vice is not utterly quenched in his flesh.

       Likewise, such as are by nature hard, although they be converted to the faith, yet notwithstanding they do not utterly put off this hardness, but a remnant of it cleaveth in them still. Hereof it cometh, that the holy Scriptures and the Gospels, which do contain all one truth, of diverse spirits are diversely handled. One in teaching is mild and gentle; another more rough and rigorous. Thus the Spirit of God, being poured into diverse vessels, doth not quench at once the vices of nature; but during the whole of this life he purgeth that sin which is rooted, not only in the Galatians, but also in all men of all nations.

       Albeit then, that the Galatians were lightened and did believe, and had now received the Holy Ghost by the preaching of faith, notwithstanding this remnant of vice, this tinder of foolishness, which did easily catch the flame of false doctrine, remained in them still. Wherefore let no man trust so much in himself, as to think that when he hath received grace, he is thoroughly purged from his old vices. Indeed many things are purged in us, and principally the head of the serpent; that is to say, infidelity and ignorance of God is cut off and bruised, but the scaly body and the remnants of sin remain still in us. Let no man therefore presume so much of himself, that when he hath once received faith, he can by and by be thoroughly changed into a new man: nay, he shall keep somewhat of his old vices still cleaving unto him, though he be never so good a Christian.

       For we are not yet dead, but we still live in the flesh; which, because it is not yet pure, continually lusteth against the spirit (Galatians 5:17). ‘I am carnal,’ saith Paul, ‘sold under sin,’ and ‘I see another law in my members rebelling against the law of my mind’ (Romans 7:14,23). Wherefore the natural vices that were in us before we received faith, do still remain in us after that we have received faith: saving that now they are subdued to the spirit, which hath the upper hand to keep them under, that they rule not; and yet not without great conflict. This glory is due to Christ alone, and this title he alone beareth, that he is pure and without blemish: ‘who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth’ (1 Peter 2:22).

Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?

Here have ye another commendation of this goodly righteousness of the law, and of our own righteousness, namely, that it maketh us to contemn the truth: it bewitcheth us in such sort, that we do not believe nor obey the truth, but rebel against it.

OF THE BODILY AND SPIRITUAL WITCHCRAFT

Paul calleth the Galatians foolish and bewitched, comparing them to children, to whom witchcraft doth much harm. As though he should say: It happeneth to you as it doth to children, whom witches, sorcerers, and enchanters are wont to charm by their enchantments, and by the illusion of the devil. Afterwards, in the fifth chapter, he rehearseth sorcery among the works of the flesh, which is a kind of witchcraft; whereby he plainly testifieth, that indeed such witchcraft and sorcery there is, and that it may be done. Moreover, it cannot be denied but that the devil liveth, yea, and reigneth throughout the whole world. Witchcraft and sorcery therefore are the works of the devil; whereby he doth not only hurt men, but also by the permission of God, he sometimes destroyeth them. Furthermore, we are all subject to the devil both in body and goods; and we be strangers in this world, whereof he is the prince and God. Therefore the bread which we eat, the drink which we drink, the garments which we wear, yea the air and whatsoever we live by in the flesh, is under his dominion. Therefore he is able by his witches to do harm to children, causing them heart-pains, blindness, etc., and even utterly to do away with a child and put himself in its cradle instead. I have heard tell of such a child in Saxony, which did suck the milk of five women and yet could not be sated. And examples of this sort are many.

       Now witchcraft is nothing else but a machination and illusion of the devil, who is able (it is said) to make whole again a member of the body, either in a child or a grown man, that he hath corrupted with his wiles. But this he doth in such wise that he restoreth an eye or other member that seemeth to have suffered injury, but in very deed hath suffered none. For he so deluded the senses of them that he hath bewitched, and of others which do behold them, that they do not judge it to be an illusion, but a true lesion. But since in due time he removeth the lesion, it is plain that it was no true lesion, but an illusion; for a true lesion cannot be healed or restored.

       A notable example of this thing is to be found in the Lives of the Fathers, passing the Metamorphoses of the poets. There came to St. Macarius in the desert where he dwelt, the parents of a certain virgin which did believe their daughter to have been turned into a cow, for they could perceive no form but that of a cow. Bringing her to St. Macarius, therefore, they besought him to offer prayer for her, that her human form might be restored. But Macarius when he heard this, said: I see no cow, but a virgin. For he had spiritual eyes, and therefore Satan was not able to delude him with his tricks, as he had deluded the parents and the daughter: whose eyes the evil spirit had so deceived that they would have sworn that what passed before their bewitched sight took place in very deed. But when St. Macarius prayed for the girl, asking not that she might recover the human form which she had never lost, but that God would take away this illusion of the devil from her, then the eyes both of the parents and of the daughter were opened, and they perceived that what they had thought to be seriously done, was but a sport and jest of the devil.

       Such is Satan’s cunning and power to delude our senses. And no marvel, seeing a change of sense and color may be brought about through glass.

       Most easily therefore doth he make sport of men with his wiles, so that they imagine themselves to see things which in truth they see not, or to hear a voice, thunder, a flute or a trumpet, which in truth they hear not.

       So the soldiers of Julius Caesar thought that they heard the sound of a pipe or trumpet: whereof Suetonius maketh mention in his Life of Caesar. One of uncommon size and shape (saith he), seated hard by, suddenly appeared playing on a pipe: unto whom there ran not only shepherds, but also many soldiers from their stations, together with some trumpeters, to hearken unto him. Whereupon he snatched a trumpet from one of them and sprang with it towards the river, where he sounded a mighty alarm and then made for the farther bank, etc. Satan then is well able to affect all the senses, so that a man would swear he did see, hear, touch, a thing which notwithstanding he doth not see, etc.

       But he doth not only bewitch men after this gross manner, but also after a more subtle sort and much more dangerous; wherein he is a marvellous cunning workman. And hereof it cometh that Paul applieth the bewitching of the senses to the bewitching of the spirit. For by this spiritual witchcraft that old serpent bewitcheth not men’s senses, but their minds with false and wicked opinions: which opinions, they that are so bewitched do take to be true and godly. Now, that he is able to do this, he sheweth plainly enough at this day in the fantastical heads, the Anabaptists and the spirits that do blaspheme the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ: whose minds he hath so bewitched with his sport, that they do embrace lies, errors and horrible darkness as the most certain truth and the clearest light. Neither will they suffer themselves to be drawn away from these dreams of theirs by any admonitions or passages of Scripture, since they are most firmly persuaded that they alone are wise and have a right judgment in holy things, while all others are blind. They therefore do the very same as the parents of the girl, which being taken with Satan’s wiles, were so persuaded, that they would have sworn that their daughter was not a woman, but a cow, and there was nothing that they were less able to believe, than that this was a trick and illusion of the devil. For they had with them the testimony of all their senses: their eyes saw the form of a cow, their ears heard the voice of a cow, etc.; and against common sense, they thought, it was not meet to fight.

       But that we ought to fight against common sense in the case of bodily witchcraft, this example of Macarius sheweth; and much more ought we to do the same in the case of spiritual witchcraft. For here the devil doeth from within, what there he doeth from without: there he deceiveth with shapes and colors in the senses, here with plausible opinions in matters of doctrine, whereby (as I have said) he so bewitcheth the hearts of men that they would swear that their vain and wicked dreams were the most certain truth. After this manner he hath in our time bewitched Munzer, Zwingli and others, by whom he hath bewitched yet others innumerable.

       Briefly, so great is the malice of this sorcerer the devil, and his desire to hurt, that not only he deceiveth those secure and proud spirits with his enchantments, but even those also which have a right understanding of the Word of God and the Christian religion: yea, as touching myself, to say the truth, he sometimes assaileth me so mightily, and oppresseth me with such heavy cogitations, that he utterly shadoweth my Savior Christ from me, and in a manner taketh him clean out of my sight. To be brief, there is none of us all which is not oftentimes bewitched by false persuasions: that is to say, which doth not fear, trust, or rejoice where he ought not, or doth not sometimes think otherwise of God, of Christ, of faith, of his vocation, etc. than he should do.

       Let us therefore learn to know the subtle sleights of this sorcerer, lest if he find us sleeping in security, he deceive us by his enchantments. True it is, that by his sorcery he can do no hurt to our ministry: yet is he with us in spirit. Day and night he rangeth about, seeking how he may devour every one of us alone, and unless he find us sober and armed with spiritual weapons, that is to say, with the Word of God and faith, he will devour us.

       This is the cause that he oftentimes stirreth up new battles against us. And indeed it is very profitable for us that he thus assaileth us, and by his subtle trains exerciseth us; for by this means he confirmeth our doctrine, he stirreth up and increaseth faith in us. Indeed we have been many times cast down, and yet still are cast down in this conflict, but we perish not: for Christ hath always triumphed, and doth triumph through us. Wherefore we hope assuredly, that we shall also hereafter by Jesus Christ obtain the victory against the devil. And this hope bringeth unto us sure consolation, so that in the midst of our temptations we take courage and say: Behold, Satan hath heretofore tempted us, and by his false illusions hath provoked us to infidelity, to the contempt of God, despair, etc. yet hath he not prevailed, nor shall he prevail hereafter. Greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Christ is stronger, who hath and doth overcome that strong one in us, and shall overcome him for ever (Luke 11:21 f.). Notwithstanding the devil sometimes overcometh us in the flesh, that we may have experience of the power of a stronger against that strong one, and may say with Paul, ‘When I am weak, then am I strong’ (Corinthians 12:10).

       Let no man think therefore that the Galatians only were bewitched of the devil: but let every man think that he himself might have been, and yet may be bewitched by him. There is none of us so strong that he is able to resist him, and specially if he attempt to do it by his own strength. Job was an upright and a just man, fearing God, and there was none like unto him upon the earth (Job 1:8), but what power had he against the devil, when God withdrew his hand? Did not this holy man horribly fall? Therefore this enchanter was not only mighty in the Galatians, but he goeth about continually to deceive, if not all men, yet as many as he can, with his illusions and false persuasions: ‘For he is a liar, and the father of lies’ (John 8:44). And by this his craft he bewitcheth at this day, as I have said, the fantastical spirits. In these he reigneth and maketh them more hard andunyielding than any anvil. They will not suffer themselves to be taught, they will hear no reason, nor admit the Scripture, but they seek only how with false invented glosses out of their own head, they may elude the places of Scripture that are brought against them, and defend their own dreams which they import into the Scripture: which is a manifest sign that they are taken with the devil’s sorcery.

Who hath bewitched you?

Here Paul excuseth the Galatians, and layeth the fault upon the false apostles. As though he should say, I see that ye are not fallen through wilfulness or malice; but the devil hath sent the enchanting false apostles amongst you, my children, and they do so bewitch you with their doctrine of the law, that now ye think otherwise of Christ than ye did afore when ye heard the Gospel preached by me. But we labor both by preaching and writing unto you, to uncharm that sorcery wherewith the false apostles have bewitched you, and to set at liberty those which are snared therewith So we also at this day do labor by the Word of God against those fantastical opinions of the Anabaptists and Sacramentarians, that we may set at liberty those that are entangled therewith, and reduce them to the pure doctrine of faith, and there hold them. And this our labor is not altogether in vain; for we have called back many whom they have bewitched, and have delivered them out of their snares: the which had never been done by their own strength, had they not been admonished by us and recalled by the Word of God.

       For even as it is impossible that a man should deliver himself from the bewitching of his senses (as the parents could see no form but of a cow before the prayer of Macarius), so it is impossible that those who art bewitched in spirit should deliver themselves by their own strength, unless they are delivered by those whose minds are not ensnared by this sorcery.

       For such is the efficacy of Satan’s deceit in them that are deluded thereby, that they would boast and swear that they did possess the most certain truth: so far are they from confessing that they err. And although we labor never so much to convince some, and especially the chief authors of sects, by the Scriptures, yet is our labor in vain; for they straightway bring forth their glosses wherewith they evade the Scriptures.

       Wherefore they are nothing amended by our admonitions, but are much more hardened and more obstinate than they were before. And surely I could never have believed, but that I have good experience thereof at this day, that the power of the devil is so great, that he is able to make falsehood so like the truth. Moreover (which is yet much more horrible) when he goeth about to overwhelm sorrowful consciences with over-much heaviness, he can so cunningly and so lively change himself into the likeness of Christ, that it is impossible for the poor tempted and afflicted soul to perceive it: whereby many simple and ignorant persons are deceived and driven down to desperation, and some also destroy themselves; for they are so bewitched of the devil, that they believe this to be a most certain truth, that they are tempted and accused, not of the devil but of Christ himself.

       Such a thing happened in the year of our Lord 1527 to that miserable man Dr. Kraus of Halle, which said: ‘I have denied Christ, and therefore he standeth now before his Father and accuseth me.’ He being blinded with the illusion of the devil, had so strongly conceived in his mind this imagination, that by no exhortation, no consolation, no promises of God, he could be brought from it; whereupon he despaired and so miserably destroyed himself. This was a mere lie, a bewitching of the devil, and a fantastical definition of a strange Christ, whom the Scripture knoweth not.

       For the Scripture setteth forth Christ, not as a judge, a tempter, an accuser; but a reconciler, a mediator, a comforter, a savior, and a throne of grace.

       But the poor man, deluded by the devil, could not then see this; and therefore, against all Scripture, he thinketh this to be an undoubted truth: ‘Christ accuseth thee before his Father; he standeth not for thee, but against thee; therefore thou art damned.’ And this temptation is not of man, but of the devil, which that enchanter most strongly imprinteth in the heart of the tempted. But unto us which are led and taught by another Spirit, it is a cursed lie, and a bewitching of the devil. But unto those that are thus bewitched, it is so certain a truth that none can be more certain.

       Seeing then that the devil, that deviser of a thousand wiles, is able so to print in our hearts so manifest and shameful a lie, that we would swear a thousand times it were an undoubted truth, we must not be proud, but walk in fear and humility, calling upon Christ our Lord, that we be not led into temptation. Worldly and secure men, which having heard the Gospel once or twice preached, do by and by imagine that they have received abundance of theSpirit, fall at length in like manner, because they fear not God, they are not thankful unto him, but persuade themselves that they are able, not only to hold and defend the doctrine of true religion, but also to stand against the devil in any assault or conflict, be it never so great. Such are meet instruments for the devil to bewitch and to throw down to desperation.

       On the other side, say not thou: I am perfect, I cannot fall; but humble thyself, and fear, lest if thou stand to-day, to-morrow thou be overthrown.

       I myself, although I be a doctor of divinity, and have now preached Christ, and fought against the devil in his false teachers a great while, by mine own experience have found how hard a matter this is. For I cannot shake off Satan as I desire, neither can I so apprehend Christ as the Scripture setteth him forth; but oftentimes the devil setteth before mine eyes a false Christ.

       But thanks be to God who keepeth us in the Word, in faith and in prayer, that we may walk before him in humility and fear, and not presume of our own wisdom, righteousness and strength, but trust in the power of Christ, who is strong when we are weak, and by us weak and feeble creatures continually overcometh and triumpheth: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

       This bewitching then, and this sorcery, is nothing else but a plain illusion of the devil, printing in the heart a false opinion of Christ and against Christ; and he that is deluded with this opinion, is bewitched. They therefore that have this persuasion, that they are justified by the works of the law, or the traditions of men, are bewitched; for this persuasion is clean contrary to faith and to Christ. Paul useth this word ‘bewitching’ in contempt of the false apostles, which so vehemently urged the doctrine of the law and works. As if he should say: What a devilish bewitching is this? For as the senses are perverted by bodily witchcraft, so are the minds of men also deluded by this spiritual witchcraft.

That ye should not obey the truth

The Galatians at the first did gladly hear and obey the truth. Therefore when he saith, ‘Who hath bewitched you?’ he sheweth that they being bewitched by the false apostles, were now fallen away from the truth, which before they did obey. But this seemeth yet a more bitter and vehement kind of speech, when he saith that they do not believe the truth.

       For he signifieth by these words that they are bewitched, and that he would deliver them from this witchery, and yet they will not acknowledge nor receive this benefit. For it is certain that he did not reduce all the Galatians from the errors of the false apostles unto the truth, but that many of them remained yet still bewitched. Therefore he useth these sharp and vehement words, ‘Who hath bewitched you?’ etc., as if he would say: Ye are so deluded and bewitched that now ye cannot obey the truth; I fear lest many of you are utterly lost, and so fallen away, that ye will never return again to the truth. Here you have another goodly commendation of the righteousness of the law, or man’s own righteousness, that it so bewitcheth men that they are not able to obey the truth. The Apostles and the Fathers of the primitive Church often made mention of this matter, as 1 John 5:6: ‘There is a sin unto death, for the which prayer shall not be made; ‘ also Hebrews 6:4 ff.: ‘It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift..., if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance,’ etc. At first sight these words sound as though some Novatus had spoken them. But the Apostles were compelled thus to speak on account of the heretics (although they did not thereby deny to the fallen a return through penitence to the communion of the faithful, as the Novarians did). And we also at this day ought thus to speak on account of the authors and masters of errors and sects, and say that such men never return to the truth. There are some indeed that return, but these are they which have been bound with a lighter spell. Not so the leaders and authors of the sorcery, which ought to retain that title which Paul here giveth them, namely, that they will not hear nor endure the truth, but rather are careful how they may resist the truth, and how they may avoid the arguments and the Scriptures adduced against them. For they are taken captive and are fully persuaded that they have the most certain truth and the purest understanding of the Scripture. He that is in such persuasion, heareth not and much less giveth place to others. So I myself will in no wise hearken to aught that is contrary to my doctrine; for I am certain and persuaded through the Spirit of Christ, that my teaching concerning Christian righteousness is true and certain.

Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was evidentlyset forth

It was bitterly spoken where he said before, that they were so bewitched that they could not obey the truth; but it is more bitterly said, when he addeth, that Christ was so lively described before them, that they might handle him with their hands, and yet they would not obey the truth. Thus he convinceth them even by their own experience. As though he would say:

       Ye are so bewitched and deluded with the perverse opinions of the false apostles, that now ye will not obey the truth. And whereas I have with great travail and diligence set forth Christ crucified plainly before your eyes, yet doth this profit you nothing at all.

       In these words he hath respect to the former arguments, whereby he proved, that to those that will be justified by the law, Christ is but the minister of sin, that such do reject the grace of God, and that to them Christ died in vain. Which arguments he had before more vehemently prosecuted and more largely amplified in their presence, even as if a painter had portrayed Christ Jesus crucified before their eyes. Now being absent, he putteth them in mind of the same things, saying: ‘to whom Jesus Christ was described in your sight’. As if he said: There is no painter that with his colors can so lively set out Christ unto you, as I have painted him out by my preaching; and yet notwithstanding ye still remain most miserably bewitched.

Crucified among you

What did I then paint out? Even Christ himself How was that done? In this sort, that he was crucified among you. He useth here very rough and sharp words. Before, he said that they seeking righteousness by the law, rejected the grace of God, and that to them Christ died in vain. Now he addeth moreover, that they do even crucify Christ, who before lived and reigned in them. As if he should say: Ye have now not only rejected the grace of Gods not only to you Christ died in vain, but also he is most shamefully crucified among you. After the same manner speaketh the Epistle to the Hebrews: ‘Crucifying to themselves again the Son of God, and making a mock of him, etc.’ (Hebrews 6:6).

       If a man did but hear the name of a monk, of his shaven crown, of his cowl, of his rule, it should make him afraid (how much soever the Papists do adore these abominations, and brag that they are perfect religion and holiness, as I and others did judge of them before God revealed his Gospel unto us: for we were brought up in the traditions of men, which darkened Christ and made him utterly unprofitable unto us), when he heareth Paul say, that even they which seek to be justified by the law of God, be not only deniers and murderers of Christ, but also they do most wickedly crucify him again. Now, if they be crucifiers of Christ which seek to be justified by the righteousness of the law of God, and the works thereof, what are they, I pray you, which seek salvation and eternal life by the dregs and filth of man’s righteousness and by the doctrines of devils?

       But who could ever believe or think that it was so horrible and so abominable a sin to be made a religious man (for so they call them) namely to be made amassing priest, a monk, a friar, a nun? Doubtless no man. Yea they themselves say moreover, that monkery is a new baptism. Can there be any thing more horrible than that the kingdom of the Papists is the kingdom of such as spitefully spit in the face of Christ the Son of God, and crucify him again? For indeed they crucify him afresh (who was once crucified and rose again) both in themselves, in the Church, and in the hearts of the faithful; for with their spiteful reproaches, rebukes, slanders and injuries, they spit upon him, and with their wicked opinions they wound him and thrust him through, so that in them he dieth most miserably: and in the stead of him they set up a glorious witchcraft, whereby men are so miserably, charmed and deluded, that they cannot know Christ to be their justifier, their reconciler and savior, but a minister of sin, their accuser, their judge and their destroyer, which must be pacified no otherwise than by our works and merits.

       And out of this opinion did afterwards spring the most pestilent and pernicious doctrine that is in the whole papacy, which is this: If thou wilt serve God, and merit forgiveness of sins and everlasting life, and also help others that they may attain to salvation, then enter thou into a monastery, vow obedience, chastity, poverty, etc. The monks and friars, being taken and puffed up with this opinion of holiness, bragged that they only were in the life and state of perfection, and that other Christians led but a common life, for they did no undue works, or more than they were bound to do; that is, they did not vow and keep chastity, poverty, obedience, etc., but they were only baptized, and kept the Ten Commandments: but as for themselves, besides that which was common as well to them as to other Christians, they kept also the works of supererogation and the counsels of Christ; wherefore they hoped to have merits and a place in heaven among the principal saints, far above the common sort of Christians.

       This was undoubtedly a monstrous illusion of the devil, whereby he hath bewitched almost the whole world. And every man, the more holy he would seem to be, the more he was snared with that witchery, that is to say, with the pestilent persuasion of his own righteousness. And this was the cause that we could not know that Jesus Christ was our mediator and savior, but we thought that he was a severe judge, which should be pacified by our works: which was nothing else but most horribly to blaspheme Christ, and as Paul said before, to reject the grace of God, to make the death of Christ of none effect, and not only to kill him, but also most shamefully to crucify him again. And this is the right meaning of that which Christ allegeth out of Daniel: ‘the abomination standing in the holy place’ (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15). Wherefore every monk and religious person, and every justiciary seeking remission of sins and righteousness by his own works or by his afflictions, is a crucifier of Christ now reigning and living, although not in the proper person of Christ, yet in his own heart and in the hearts of others. And whosoever do enter into monasteries to the end that by the keeping of their rule they may be justified, do enter into the dens of thieves, and such as crucify Christ again.

       Wherefore Paul useth in this place very severe and sharp words, to the end that he may fear and call back the Galatians from the doctrine of the false apostles. As if he should say: Consider well what you have done. Ye have crucified Christ again (and this I do so plainly shew and paint out before your eyes, that ye may see it, yea and touch it with your hands) because ye seek to be justified by the law. But if righteousness come by the law, then is Christ a minister of sin, and his death altogether in vain. If this be true, then must it needs follow that Christ is crucified again in you.

       And it is not without cause that he addeth this clause, ‘in you’ or ‘among you.’ For Christ is no more crucified, he dieth no more in his own person, as is said in Romans 6, but he dieth in us when we, rejecting pure doctrine, grace, faith, free remission of sins, seek to be justified by works of our own choosing, or even by the works commanded in the law. Here Christ is crucified in us again. Now this false and wicked persuasion, to seek to be justified by the law or by works, is nothing else (as I have before more amply declared) but the illusion and enchantment of the devil, wherewith men are so bewitched, that in no wise they can acknowledge the benefit of Christ: yea, in all their life they can do nothing else but deny the Lord who hath bought them, and in whose name they were baptized, and crucify him again in themselves. Whosoever then hath any fear of God or love unto Christ and his true religion, let him fly quickly out of this Babylon, and let him tremble at the very name of the Papacy. For the impiety and abomination thereof is so horrible, that no man is able to express it with words, neither can it be otherwise seen, than with spiritual eyes only.

       These two arguments Paul prosecuteth and beateth into the heads of the Galatians very diligently: first, that they are so bewitched of the devil, that they obey not the truth most clearly set forth before their eyes; secondly, that they crucify Christ again in themselves. These seem to be simple and plain words, and without any high eloquence, but in very deed they are so mighty, that they exceed all the eloquence of man. It cannot therefore be comprehended, but only in spirit, how great an impiety it is to seek to be justified by the righteousness of the law, or by our own righteousness. For, as Paul saith here, it is nothing else but to be bewitched of the devil, to be disobedient to the truth, and to crucify Christ again. Are not these goodly commendations of the righteousness of the law and man’s own righteousness?

       The Apostle therefore is inflamed with a vehement zeal, and with bitter words he reproveth and condemneth the presumption of man’s own righteousness, rising upon the observation of the law of God, and chargeth it with this impiety, that it crucifieth again the Son of God. Seeing then it is so dangerous a thing, it cannot be beaten down enough, or condemned as it should be; for thereof ensueth such a fall as is no less than the fall of Lucifer, and such a loss as can never be recovered; and therefore he useth so sharp and rigorous words against it, that he spareth not the very law of God, against the which he so bitterly inveigheth, that he seemeth utterly to reject and condemn it. And this doth he, being constrained by great necessity; for otherwise he could not with stand the false apostles, nor defend the righteousness of faith against them. Albeit then that the law be holy, just, and good, yet must it put on as it were the vizor of an hypocrite that seeketh to be justified by works. Now he presseth them with an argument from experience, which they could not deny, saying:

This only would I learn of you: received ye the spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

He speaketh these words with a certain indignation and contempt. If I had nothing else against you but even your own experience, saith he, yet have I enough. As if he should say: Go to now; answer me I pray you, which am your scholar, for ye are so suddenly become doctors, that ye are now my masters and teachers: ‘Received ye the Holy Ghost by the works of the law, or by preaching of the Gospel?’ With this argument he so convinceth them, that they have nothing to reply again. For their own plain and manifest experience is altogether against them: to wit, that they had received the Holy Ghost, not by the works of the law, but by the preaching of the Gospel.

       Here again I warn you, that Paul speaketh not only of the ceremonial law, but of the whole law. For he groundeth his argument upon a sufficient division. If he should speak of the ceremonial law only, it were not a sufficient division. It is an argument therefore standing upon two parts, whereof the one must needs be true, and the other false; that is, either ye received the Holy Ghost by the law, or by the hearing of faith. If by the law, then not by the preaching of faith; if by the preaching of faith, then not by the law. There is no mean betwixt these two. For all that is not the Holy Ghost or the preaching of faith, is the law. Here are we in the matter of justification. But to attain to justification, there is no other way but either the word of the Gospel, or the word of the law. Wherefore the law is here taken generally, as wholly separate from the Gospel. But it is not the ceremonial law only that is separate from the Gospel, but also the moral law, or the law of the Ten Commandments. Wherefore Paul speaketh here of the whole law.

       He groundeth this argument upon a sufficient distinction, after this sort:

       Tell me, saith he, ‘Received ye the Holy Ghost by the works of the law, or by the preaching of the Gospel?’ Answer me to this. Ye cannot say that this was done by the law. For so long as ye were under the law, and did the works thereof, ye never received the Holy Ghost. Indeed ye taught and heard the law of Moses every sabbath: but it hath not been heard or seen that ever the Holy Ghost was given to any, either doctor or disciple, through the preaching of the law. Moreover, ye have not only taught and heard the law, but also ye have labored with all your power to perform the same by your works, whereby ye should most of all have received the Holy Ghost, if he had been given by the law, seeing ye were not only teachers and hearers, but also doers of the law: and yet ye cannot shew me that this was done at any time. But as soon as the hearing of faith or the Gospel came unto you, by and by ye received the Holy Ghost by the only hearing of faith, before ye had done any work, or shewed any fruit of the Gospel.

       For as Luke witnesseth in the Acts, at the only preaching of Peter and Paul, the Holy Ghost came upon those which heard the Word, through whom also they received diverse gifts, so that they spake with new tongues, etc. (Acts 10:44).

       It is manifest therefore that by the only preaching of faith, ye received the Holy Ghost before ye did any good work, or brought forth any fruits of the Gospel. On the other side, the accomplishing of the law never brought the Holy Ghost; much less could the only hearing of the law do it. Therefore not only the hearing of the law, but that affection and zeal also, whereby ye go about to accomplish the law by your works, is vain and unprofitable.

       Wherefore although a man labor to do all things; that is to say, although he have a zeal of God, and with all his endeavour to go about to be saved by the law, and exercise himself day and night in the righteousness thereof; notwithstanding he doth but labor and consume himself in vain. For they which are ignorant of the righteousness of God, and go about to establish their own righteousness (as Paul saith in another place) do not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3). Again: ‘Israel which followed after the law of righteousness, attained not to the law of righteousness,’ etc. (Romans 9:31). Now Paul speaketh here of the manifestation of the Holy Ghost in the primitive Church. For the Holy Ghost came down in a manifest likeness upon those that did believe, and by this sign did plainly witness that he was there present at the preaching of the Apostles; also that they which heard the word of faith preached by the Apostles, were accepted as righteous before God ; for else the Holy Ghost would not have come down upon them.

THE ARGUMENT OF THE BOOK CONTAINING THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

       Wherefore we must diligently weigh and consider the force of this argument, which is so often repeated in the Acts of the Apostles. Which book is written to confirm and establish this argument: for it teacheth nothing else but that the Holy Ghost is not given by the law, but by the hearing of the Gospel. For when Peter preached, the Holy Ghost forthwith fell upon all those that heard the Word; and in one day three thousand which were present at the preaching of Peter, believed and received the Holy Ghost (Acts 2). So Cornelius received the Holy Ghost, not by the alms which he gave, but when Peter had opened his mouth, and was yet speaking, the Holy Ghost fell upon all them which with Cornelius heard the Word (Acts 10). These are manifest arguments of experience, and divine works which cannot deceive us.

       Luke also writeth of Paul in the fifteenth of the Acts, that when he had preached the Gospel together with Barnabas among the Gentiles, and was returned to Jerusalem, he set himself against the Pharisees and the disciples of the Apostles, which urged circumcision and the keeping of the law, as necessary to salvation: whose mouths he so stopped (saith Luke) in shewing what things he and Barnabas had done amongst the Gentiles, that the whole Church was amazed at the hearing thereof, especially when they heard that God had wrought so many and so great signs and wonders by them among the Gentiles. And when they which bare a zeal to the law, did greatly wonder how it could be that the uncircumcised Gentiles, not doing the law, nor the works thereof, nor having the righteousness of the law, should notwithstanding attain to this grace, to be justified and receive the Holy Ghost as well as the Jews that were circumcised: here Paul and Barnabas did allege nothing else but manifest experience; wherewith they were so confounded, that they had nothing to reply again. By this means Paulus Sergius, the lieutenant, and all those cities, regions, kingdoms, and countries where the Apostles had preached, by the only hearing of faith did believe, without the law and the works thereof.

       In the whole book therefore of the Acts, there is nothing else handled in effect, but that it behoveth as well Jews as Gentiles, as well righteous as unrighteous, to be justified by faith alone in Christ Jesus, without the law and the works thereof. The which thing doth appear as well by the preaching of Peter, of Paul, of Stephen, of Philip, and the other Apostles, as also by the examples of the Gentiles and the Jews. For as God gave the Holy Ghost to the Gentiles which lived without the law, by the preaching of the Gospel, so did he give the same to the Jews; yet not by the law, nor by the ceremonies and sacrifices commanded in the law, but by the only preaching of faith. Now if the law had been able to justify, and the righteousness of the law had been necessary to salvation, then doubtless the Holy Ghost had not been given to the Gentiles which kept not the law.

       But experience itself doth plainly witness, that the Holy Ghost was given unto them without the law (and this did the Apostles, both Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and others see): therefore the law doth not justify, but faith only in Christ, which the Gospel setteth forth.

       These things are diligently to be marked, because of the adversaries, which do not consider what is handled in the Acts of the Apostles. I myself in times past also read this book, when indeed I understood in it nothing at all. Therefore when thou hearest or readest in the Acts of the Apostles, or wheresoever it be in the Scriptures, this word ‘Gentiles,’ thou must know that it is not to be understood literally of the common nature of the Gentiles, but it carrieth with it a spiritual meaning, and is to be taken, not for those which are under the law, as were the Jews (as before is said in the second chapter: ‘We being by nature Jews, and not sinners of the Gentiles’ etc.), but for those which are without the law. Wherefore to say that the Gentiles are justified by faith, is nothing else, but that men which observe not the law nor do the works thereof, which are not circumcised, which sacrifice not, etc., are justified and receive the Holy Ghost. By what means? Not by the law and the works thereof (for they have no law), but freely and without any other means, except only the hearing of the Gospel.

       So Cornelius and his friends whom he had called to his house, do nothing, neither look they upon any works going before, and yet as many as are present, receive the Holy Ghost. No man speaketh but Peter. They sitting by do nothing: they think not of the law, much less do they keep it; they sacrifice not; they care not for the receiving of circumcision, but only are bent to hear that which Peter speaketh. He by his preaching brought the Holy Ghost into their hearts, as it were visibly: for they spake with tongues, and glorified God.

       But some men may here cavil and say: Who knoweth whether it were the Holy Ghost or no? Well, let them cavil. Sure it is that the Holy Ghost, so bearing witness, doth not lie, but hereby sheweth that he accepteth the Gentiles for righteous, and justifieth them by no other means, than by the only voice of the Gospel, or hearing of faith in Christ preached. We may see also in the Acts how greatly the Jews marvelled at this new and strange thing. For the faithful which were of the circumcision, and came with Peter to Caesarea, seeing the gift of the Holy Ghost to be poured out also upon the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, were astonished (Acts 10:45).

       Also they that were at Jerusalem complained of Peter for that he went in to men uncircumcised, and did eat with them (Acts 11:3). But when they heard the matter declared by Peter in order as it was done touching Cornelius, they marvelled and glorified God, saying: ‘Then hath God also given salvation unto the Gentiles.’

       This report therefore and this fame, that God had given salvation also to the Gentiles, was at the first not only intolerable, but also a great offense even to the believing Jews. Which they could not easily shake off: for they had this prerogative above all other nations, that they were the people of God. The adoption, the glory, the worship, etc,, belonged to them (Romans 9:4). Moreover, they exercised themselves in the righteousness of the law, they labored all the day long, they bare the burden and heat of the day (Matthew 20:12). Moreover, they had the promises as touching the observation of the law; therefore they could not but murmur against the Gentiles, and say: Behold the Gentiles come but even now, and have not suffered any heat, or borne any burden; notwithstanding they have the same righteousness and Holy Ghost without labor, which we by labor and by the heat and burden of the day could not obtain. Indeed they have labored, but that was but one hour, and by this labor they are more refreshed than wearied. Wherefore then hath God tormented us with the law, if it avail nothing to the obtaining of righteousness? He now preferreth the Gentiles before us which have been so long burdened with the yoke of the law. For we which are the people of God, have been vexed all the day long; but they which are not the people of God, neither have any law, nor have done any good at all, are made equal with us.

       And for this cause the council of the Apostles, upon great necessity was assembled at Jerusalem to satisfy and pacify the Jews, who though they believed in Christ, yet was this opinion notwithstanding deeply rooted in their hearts, that the law of Moses ought to be observed. There Peter, upon his own experience, set himself against them saying: ‘If God hath given the same grace unto the Gentiles, which he hath given unto us which have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could let God?’ (Acts 11:17). Again: ‘God who knoweth the hearts, bare them witness in giving unto them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us. And he put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why tempt ye God, to lay a yoke on the disciples’ necks, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?’ etc. (Acts 15:8 ff.). With these words, Peter at once overthroweth the whole law. As if he should say: We will not keep the law; for we are not able to keep it; but we believe through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be saved, even as they did. So Peter here standeth altogether upon this argument, that God gave unto the Gentiles the selfsame grace that he gave to the Jews. As though he would say: When I preached to Cornelius, I learned by my own experience, that the Holy Ghost was given without the law to the Gentiles, by the only hearing of faith: therefore in no case are they to be burdened with the law. To conclude, since it is certain that neither we nor our fathers were ever able to fulfill the law, it behoveth you also to reject this error, that righteousness and salvation cometh by the law. And this the believing Jews did by little and little; but the wicked, which by this preaching were the more offended, at the length were altogether hardened.

THE COMMENDATION OF THE BOOK CONTAINING THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

So in the Acts ye shall find the experience, the preachings, and also the examples of the Apostles for the confirmation of this matter, against this obstinate opinion touching the righteousness of the law. And we ought therefore the more to love, and the more diligendy to read this book, because it containeth most substantial testimonies, which are able to comfort and confirm us against the Papists, our Jews; whose abominations and colored hypocrisy we impugn and condemn by our doctrine, that we may set forth the benefits and glory of Christ. Who, though they have no substantial matter to allege against us (whereas the Jews mights have laid against the Apostles, that they had received the law and all these ceremonies from God), yet notwithstanding they are no less obstinate in defending their cursed traditions and abominations, than the Jews were in maintaining their law which they had received from God, glorying and bragging that they sit in the place of bishops, and that the authority to govern the churches is committed unto them. Whereby they would bring us into bondage, and force us to say that we are justified, not by faith alone, but by faith formed and adorned with charity. But we set against them the book of the Acts. Let them read this book, and consider the examples contained in it, and they shall find this to be the sum and the argument thereof: that we are justified by faith only in Christ without works, and that the Holy Ghost is given by the only hearing of faith at the preaching of the Gospel, and not at the preaching of the law, nor by the works of the law.

       Wherefore thus teach we: O man, although thou fast, give alms, honor thy parents, obey the magistrate, etc., yet art thou not justified thereby. This voice of the law: ‘Honour thy parents,’ or any other else, either heard or fulfilled, doth not justify. What then? To hear the voice of the spouse, to hear the word of faith: this word being heard, doth justify. Wherefore?

       Because it bringeth the Holy Ghost which justifieth a man [and maketh him righteous before God].

       Hereby we may see what is the difference between the law and the Gospel.

       The law never bringeth the Holy Ghost, but only teacheth what we ought to do: therefore it justifieth not. But the Gospel bringeth the Holy Ghost, because it teacheth what we ought to receive. Therefore the law and the Gospel are two quite contrary doctrines. To put righteousness therefore in the law, is nothing else but to fight against the Gospel. For Moses with his law is a severe exactor, requireth of us that we should work, and that we should give: briefly, it requireth and exacteth. Contrariwise, the Gospel giveth freely and requireth of us nothing else, but to hold out our hands, and to take that which is offered. Now to exact and to give, to take and to offer are clean contrary, and cannot stand together. For that which is given, I take: but that which I give, I do not take, but I offer it unto another.

       Therefore if the Gospel be a gift, and offereth a gift, it requireth nothing.

       Contrariwise, the law giveth nothing, but it requireth and straitly exacteth of us, yea even impossible things.

OF CORNELIUS IN THE TENTH OF ACTS

Here our adversaries set against us the example of Cornelius (concerning whom also the Master of the Sentences and Erasmus in his Diatribe do dispute). Cornelius , say they, was (as Luke witnesseth) a good man, just, and learing God, which gave alms to the people, and prayed to God continually. Therefore of congruence he did merit the forgiveness of sins, and the sending of the Holy Ghost. I answer: Cornelius was a Gentile, and this cannot the adversaries deny; for the words which Peter allegeth in Acts 10:28, do plainly witness the same. ‘Ye know,’ saith he, ‘that it is unlawful for a man that is a Jew, to accompany with one of another nation’ etc. He was therefore a Gentile, and not circumcised, not keeping the law, yea not once thinking of it, because it pertained nothing unto him: and yet notwithstanding he was justified and received the Holy Ghost. And this argument, as I said, is handled throughout the whole book of the Acts: to wit, that the law availeth nothing to righteousness.

       Let this suffice then for the defense of the article of justification, that Cornelius was a Gentile, not circumcised, not keeping the law: therefore he was not justified by the law, but by the hearing of faith. God justifieth therefore without the law, and so consequently the law availeth nothing to righteousness. For otherwise God would have given the Holy Ghost to the Jews only, which had the law and kept it, and not the Gentiles which had not the law, and much less did accomplish it. But God wrought clean contrary: for the Holy Ghost was given to them that had not the law. Manifest experience therefore testifieth that the Holy Ghost is given to them that do not the law. Wherefore righteousness cometh not by the law.

       By this means, the objection of the adversaries, which do not understand the true manner of justification, is answered.

       Here again the adversaries object against us, and say: Be it so that Cornelius was a Gentile, and did not receive the Holy Ghost by the law, yet notwithstanding forasmuch as the text saith plainly, that he was a just man, fearing God, giving alms, etc., at may seem that by these works he deserved to have the Holy Ghost afterwards given unto him. I answer, that Cornelius was a just and a holy man in the Old Testament, because of his faith in Christ which was to come, as all the fathers, prophets and godly kings in the Old Testament were righteous, having received secretly the Holy Ghost through faith in Christ to come. But the popish sophisters put no difference between faith in Christ to come, and in Christ which is already come. Wherefore if Cornelius had died before Christ was revealed, yet had he not been damned, because he had the faith of the fathers, which were saved by faith only in Christ to come (Acts 15:11). He remained then always a Gentile, uncircumcised and without the law, and yet notwithstanding he worshipped the selfsame God whom the fathers worshipped, by faith in the Messiah to come. But now, because the Messiah was already come, necessary it was that it should be shewed unto him by the Apostle Peter, that he was not now to be looked for, but that he was already come.

       And this article concerning faith in Christ to be revealed, and in Christ now revealed (that I may touch this also by the way), is very necessary to be known. For seeing that Christ is now revealed, we cannot be saved by faith in Christ to come, but we must believe that he is already come, hath fulfilled all things, and abolished the law. Therefore necessary it was also that Cornelius should be brought to another belief, not that Christ was yet to come, as he did believe before: but that he was already come. So faith giveth place to faith: ‘from faith to faith’ (Romans 1:17).

       The schoolmen therefore are deceived, when they say for the maintenance of their opus congrui, or merit before grace, that Cornelius by the natural and moral works of reason, deserved grace and the sending of the Holy Ghost. For to be a just man and fearing God, etc., are the properties, not of a Gentile or of a natural man, but of a spiritual man, who hath faith already.

       For unless he did believe in God and fear God, he could not hope to obtain any thing of him by prayer. The first commendation therefore that Luke giveth unto Cornelius, is this, that he is a righteous man and fearing God: afterwards he commendeth him for his works and alms-deeds. This our adversaries do not consider, but lay hold only upon this sentence, that he gave alms to the poor: for that seemeth to make for the establishing of their merit of congruence [or desert going before grace]. But first the person or the tree must be commended, and then the works and the fruit. Cornelius is a good tree, for he is righteous and feareth God: therefore he bringeth forth good fruit, he giveth alms, he calleth upon God; and these fruits please God because of his faith. Wherefore the angel commendeth Cornelius for his faith in Christ which was to come, and bringeth him from that faith, to another faith in Christ which was already come, when he saith: ‘Call for Simon, whose surname is Peter: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do,’ etc. (Acts 10:5 f.): Like as then Cornelius was without the law before Christ was revealed; even so after Christ was revealed, he received neither the law nor circumcision. And as he kept not the law before, so did he not keep it afterwards. This argument therefore concludeth strongly:

       Cornelius was justified without the law, therefore the law justifieth not.

NAAMAN THE SYRIAN.

Likewise Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5) was, no doubt, a good and godly man, and had a true opinion of God. And although he was a Gentile and belonged not to the kingdom of Moses, which then flourished; yet notwithstanding his flesh was cleansed, and the God of Israel was revealed unto him, and he received the Holy Ghost. For thus he saith: ‘Now I know assuredly that there is no other God in all the world but in Israel.’He doth nothing at all, he keepeth not the law, he is not circumcised; but only he prayeth that so much of that earth might be given unto him, as two mules should be able to carry away. Moreover it appeareth that faith was not idle in him. For thus he speaketh to the prophet Elisha: ‘Thy servant will henceforth neither offer burnt sacrifice, nor offering unto any other God, saving the Lord. But in this thing the Lord be merciful unto thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I do bow down (I say,) in the house of Rimmon, the Lord be merciful to thy servant in this point.’ To whom the prophet: saith: ‘Go in peace.’ So was he justified. The Jew hearing this, fretteth for anger, and saith: What!

       Should the Gentile be justified without the keeping of the law? Should he be compared with us which are circumcised?

THE GENTILES JUSTIFIED WITHOUT THE LAW, EVEN WHEN THE LAW AND POLICY OF MOSES WAS YET IN FORCE

Therefore God, long before, when the kingdom of Moses was yet standing and flourishing, did shew that he justified men without the law, as indeed he justified many kings in Egypt and in Babylon; also Job, and many other nations of the East. Moreover, Niniveh a great city was justified, and received the promise of God, that it should not be destroyed. By what means? Not because it heard and fulfilled the law; but because it believed the word of God which the prophet Jonas preached. For so saith the prophet: ‘And the Ninivites believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth;’ that is to say, they repented. Our adversaries do craftily pass over this word ‘believed’, and yet the effect of all together resteth therein.

       Thou readest not in Jonas: And the Ninivites received the law of Moses, were circumcised, offered sacrifice, fulfilled the works of the law; but, Believing the word, they repented in sackcloth and ashes.

       This was done before Christ was revealed, when that faith yet reigned, which believed in Christ to come. If then the Gentiles were justified without the law, and received secretly the Holy Ghost, when the law was yet in force, why should the law be required as necessary to righteousness, which by the coming of Christ is now abolished? Wherefore this is a strong argument, grounded upon the experience of the Galatians: ‘Received ye the Holy Ghost by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?’ (Galatians 2:2). For they were compelled to grant that they heard nothing of the Holy Ghost, before the preaching of Paul: but when he preached the Gospel, then they received the Holy Ghost.

       So we also at this day, convicted by the testimony of our own conscience, are constrained to confess, that the Holy Ghost is not given by the law, but by the hearing of faith. For many heretofore in the Papacy, have gone about with great labor and study, to keep the law, the decrees of the fathers, and the traditions of the Pope; and some, with painful and continual exercises in watching, fasting and praying, did so weary and weaken their bodies, that afterwards they were able to do nothing; whereby notwithstanding they gained nothing else, but that they miserably afflicted and tormented themselves. They could never attain to a quiet conscience, and peace in Christ, but continually doubted of the good will of God towards them. But now, since the Gospel teacheth that the law and works do not justify, but faith in Christ, hereupon followeth a most certain knowledge and understanding, a most joyful conscience, and a true judgment of every kind of life, and of all things else whatsoever. The believing man may now easily judge that the Papacy, with all the religious orders and traditions thereof is wicked: which before he could not do. For so great blindness reigned in the world, that we thought those works which men had devised, not only without the will of God, but also contrary to his commandment, to be much better than those, which the magistrate, the householder, the teacher, the child, the servant etc. did at the commandment of God.

       Indeed we ought to have learned by the Word of God, that the religious orders of the Papists (which alone they call holy) are wicked, since there is no commandment of God, or testimony in the holy Scriptures as touching the same. Contrariwise, other orders of life, which have the Word and commandment of God, are holy and ordained of God. But we were then wrapped in such horrible darkness, that we could not truly judge of anything. But now, since the clear light of the Gospel doth appear, all kinds of life in the world are under our sure and infallible judgment. We may boldly pronounce out of the Word of God, that the condition of servants, which before the world is most vile, is far more acceptable unto God than all the orders of monks. For by his Word God commendeth, approveth and adorneth the state of servants, and so doth he not the orders of monks.

       Therefore this argument grounded upon experience, ought to prevail with us also. For although many men in the Papacy wrought many and great works, yet could they never be certain of the will of God towards them, but they were always in doubt; they could never attain to the knowledge of God, of themselves, of their calling; they never felt the testimony of the Spirit in their hearts. But now that the truth of the Gospel appeareth, they are fully instructed by the only hearing of faith, in all these things.

 

       It is not without cause that I do so largely intreat of these things, for it seemeth but a very small matter, that the Holy Ghost is received by the only hearing of faith, and that there is nothing else required of us, but that we, setting apart all our works, should gave ourselves only to the hearing of the Gospel. Man’s heart doth not understand nor believe that so great a treasure, namely, the Holy Ghost, is given by the only hearing of faith; but reasoneth after this manner: Forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death, the giving of the Holy Ghost, of righteousness, and everlasting life, are great things; therefore if thou wilt obtain these inestimable benefits, thou must perform some other great and weighty matter. This opinion the devil doth well like and approve, and also increaseth the same in the heart.

       Therefore when reason heareth this: Thou canst do nothing for the obtaining of the forgiveness of sins, but must only hear the Word of God, by and by it crieth out, and saith: Fie, thou makest too small account of the remission of sins, etc. So the inestimable greatness of the gift, is the cause that we cannot believe it; and because this incomparable treasure is freely offered, therefore it is despised.

       But this we must needs learn, that forgiveness of sins, Christ and the Holy Ghost are freely given unto us at the only hearing of faith, notwithstanding our horrible sins and demerits. And we must not weigh, how great the thing is that is given, and how unworthy we are of it (for so should the greatness of the gift, and our unworthiness terrify us); but we must think that it pleaseth God freely to give unto us this unspeakable gift, unto us, I say, which are unworthy, as Christ in Luke saith: ‘Fear not little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give unto you (lo, to give unto you, saith he) the kingdom’ (Luke 12:32). To whom? To you unworthy, which are his little flock. If I then be little, and the thing great (nay rather of all things the greatest) which is given unto me, I must think, that he also is great and only great, which giveth it. If he offer it and will give it, I consider not mine own sin and unworthiness, but his fatherly good will towards me which is the giver, and I receive the greatness of the gift with joy and gladness, and am thankful for so inestimable a gift given freely unto me, to me, I say, unworthy, by the hearing of faith.

       Here again foolish reason is offended, and reproveth us, saying: Where ye teach men to do nothing at all for the obtaining of so great and inestimable a gift, but to hear the Word of God, this seemeth to tend to the great contempt of grace, and to make men secure, idle and dissolute, so that they slack their hands and do no good at all. Therefore it is not good to preach this doctrine, for it is not true; but men must be urged to labor and exercise themselves unto righteousness, and then shall they obtain this gift. The selfsame thing the Pelagians in times past objected against the Christians. But hear what Paul saith in this place: Ye have received the Holy Ghost, not by your own labor and travail, not by the works of the law, but by the hearing of faith. Briefly, hear what Christ himself saith, and what he answereth to Martha, being very careful, and hardly bearing that her sister Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus and hearing his word, should leave her to minister alone. ‘Martha, Martha,’ saith he, ‘thou carest, and art troubled about many things, but one thing is needful. Mary hath chosen the good part which shall not be taken from her’ (Luke 10:41 f.). A man therefore is made a Christian, not by working, but by hearing: wherefore he that will exercise himself to righteousness, must first exercise himself in hearing the Gospel. Now when he hath heard and received the Gospel, let him give thanks to God with a joyful and a glad heart, and afterwards let him exercise himself in those good works which are commanded in the law, so that the law and works may follow the hearing of faith. So may he quietly walk in the light which is Christ, and boldly choose and do works, not hypocritical, but good works indeed, such as he knoweth to please God and to be commanded of him, and contemn all those hypocritical shadows of free-will works. Our adversaries think that faith, whereby we receive the Holy Ghost, is but a light matter: but how high and hard a matter it is, I myself do find by experience, and so do all they which with me do earnestly embrace the same. It is soon said, that by the only hearing of faith, the Holy Ghost is received: but it is not so easily heard, laid hold on, believed and retained, as it is said. Wherefore if thou hear of me that Christ is that Lamb of God, sacrificed for thy sins, see also that thou hear it effectually. Paul very aptly calleth it ‘the hearing of faith,’ and not the word of faith(although there be small difference); that is, such a word as thou hearing dost believe, so that the word be not only my voice, but is heard of thee, and entereth into thy heart, and is believed of thee: then it is truly and indeed the hearing of faith through the which thou receivest the Holy Ghost; which after thou hast once received, thou shalt also mortify thy flesh.

       The faithful do find by their own experience, how gladly they would hold and embrace the Word when they hear it, with a full faith, and abandon this opinion of the law and of their own righteousness: but they feel in their flesh a mighty resistance against the Spirit. For reason and the flesh will needs work together. This saying: ‘Ye must be circumcised and keep the law,’ cannot be utterly rooted out of our minds, but it sticketh fast in the hearts of all the faithful. There is in the faithful, therefore, a continual conflict between the hearing of faith and the works of the law. For the conscience always murmureth, and thinketh that this is too easy a way, that by the only hearing of the Word, righteousness, the Holy Ghost, and life everlasting is promised unto us. But come once to an earnest trial thereof, and then tell me how easy a thing it is to hear the word of faith. Indeed he which giveth is great: moreover, he giveth great things willingly and freely, and upbraideth no man therewith: but thy capacity is strait and thy faith weak, making it hard for thee, so that thou art not able to receive his proffered gift. But let thy conscience murmur against thee never so much, and let this ‘must’ come never so often into thy mind, yet stand fast and hold out, until thou overcome this ‘must.’ So, as faith increaseth by little and little, that opinion of the righteousness of the law will diminish. But this cannot be done without great conflicts.

Are ye so foolish, that after ye have begun in the spirit, ye would now end in the flesh?

This argument being concluded, how that the Holy Ghost cometh not by the works of the law, but by the hearing of faith; he beginneth here to exhort and terrify them from a double danger or incommodity. The first is: ‘Are ye so foolish, that after ye have begun in the Spirit, ye would now end in the flesh?’ The other followeth: ‘ Have ye suffered so great things in vain?’ As if he said: Ye began in the Spirit; that is, your religion was excellently well begun. As also a little after he saith: ‘Ye ran well,’ etc. But what have ye gotten thereby? Forsooth ye will now end in the flesh.

       Paul setteth here the Spirit against the flesh. He calleth not the flesh (as before I have said) fleshly lust, beastly passions, or sensual appetites, for he intreateth not here of lust and such other fleshly desires, but of forgiveness of sins, of justifying the conscience, of obtaining righteousness before God, of deliverance from the law, sin, and death; and yet notwithstanding he saith here, that they, forsaking the Spirit, do now end in the flesh. Flesh therefore is here taken for the very righteousness and wisdom of the flesh, and the judgment of reason, which seeketh to be justified by the law.

       Whatsoever then is most excellent in man, the same here Paul calleth flesh, to wit, the highest wisdom of reason, and the righteousness of the law itself.

       And this place must be well considered, because of the slanderous and cavfillng Papists, which wrest the same against us, saying that we in popery began in the Spirit, but now, having married wives, we end in the flesh. As though a single life, or not to have a wife, were a spiritual life; and as though it nothing hindered their spiritual life, if a man, not contented with one whore, have many. They are madmen, not understanding what the Spirit, or what the flesh is. The Spirit is whatsoever is done in us according to the Spirit; the flesh, whatsoever is done in us according to the flesh without the Spirit. Wherefore all the duties of a Christian man, as to love his wife, to bring up his children, to govern his family, honor his parents, obey the magistrate, etc. (which unto them are worldly and carnal) are the fruits of the Spirit, These blind buzzards cannot discern things which are the good creatures of God, from vices.

       Here is also to be noted, that Paul having said that the Galatians began in the Spirit, ought now to say in the active voice: ‘Ye do end.’ Howbeit he doth not so, but he saith: ‘Ye are ended,’ in the passive voice. For the righteousness of the law, which Paul here calleth the flesh, is so far off from justifying, that they which after the receiving of the Holy Ghost through the hearing of faith, fall back again unto it, are ended in it, that is to say, are utterly destroyed. Therefore whosoever teach that the law ought to be fulfilled to this end, that men might be justified thereby, while they go about to quiet their consciences, they hurt them, and while they would justify them, they condemn them.

       Paul hath always a glance at the false prophets; for they still urged the law, saying: Faith only in Christ taketh not away sin, pacifieth not the wrath of God, justifieth not; therefore if ye will obtained these benefits, ye must not only believe in Christ, but therewith ye must also keep the law, be circumcised, keep the feasts, sacrifices, etc. Thus doing ye shall be free from sin, from the wrath of God, etc. Yea rather, saith Paul, by the selfsame things ye establish unrighteousness, ye provoke the wrath of God, ye add sin to sin, ye quench the Spirit, ye fall away from grace, and utterly reject the same, and ye, together with your disciples, do end in the flesh.

       This is the first danger, from the which he terrifieth the Galatians, lest if they seek to be justified by the law, they lose the Spirit, and forego their good beginnings for a wretched end.

Have ye suffered so many things in vain?

The other danger or incommodity is this: ‘Have ye suffered so many things in vain?’ As though he would say: Consider, not only how well ye began, and how miserably ye have forsaken your good beginning and your course well begun; moreover, that not only ye have lost the first fruits of the Spirit, being fallen again into the ministry of sin and death, and into a doleful and a miserable bondage of the law; but consider this also, that ye have suffered much for the Gospel’s sake, and for the name of Christ: to wit, the spoiling of your goods, railings and reproaches, dangers both of bodies and lives, etc. All things were in a happy course and great towardness with you. Ye taught purely, ye lived holily, and ye endured many evils constantly for the name of Christ. But now, all is lost, as well doctrine as faith, as well doing as suffering, as well the Spirit as the fruits thereof in you.

       Hereby it appeareth sufficiently, what incommodity the righteousness of the law, or man’s own righteousness bringeth: to wit, that they which trust in it do lose at once unspeakable benefits. Now, what a miserable thing is it, so suddenly to lose such inestimable glory and assurance of conscience towards God? Also to endure so many grievous afflictions and perils of goods, wife, children, body and life, and yet notwithstanding to sustain all these things in vain? And out of these two places, much matter might be gathered to set forth and amplify at large the goodly commendation of the righteousness of the law or man’s own righteousness, if a man would stand upon every parcel by itself, and declare what spirit it was wherewith they began; what, how great, and how many the afflictions were which they endured for Christ’s sake. But no eloquence can sufficiently set forth these matters; for they are inestimable things whereof Paul here entreateth: to wit, the glory of God, victory over the world, the flesh and the devil; righteousness and everlasting life; and on the other side, sin, desperation, eternal death, and hell. And yet notwithstanding in a moment we lose all these incomparable gifts, and procure unto ourselves these horrible and endless miseries, and all by false teachers, when they lead us away from the truth of the Gospel unto false doctrine. And this do they, not only very easily, but also under a shew of great holiness, bring to pass.

If notwithstanding it be in vain

This he addeth as a correction; whereby he mitigateth the reprehension that goeth before, which was somewhat sharp. And this he doth as an Apostle, lest he should terrify the Galatians too much. Although he chide them, yet notwithstanding he always doth it in such sort, that he poureth in sweet oil withal, lest he should drive them to desperation.

       He saith therefore: ‘If notwithstanding it be in vain.’ As if he would say:

       Yet I have not cast away all hope of you; but if ye will so end in the flesh, that is to say follow the righteousness of the law and forsake the Spirit, as ye have begun, then know ye, that all your glory and affiance which ye have in God, is in vain, and all your afflictions are unprofitable. Indeed I must needs speak somewhat roughly unto you in this matter; I must be fervent in the defense thereof, and somewhat sharp in chiding of you, especially the matter being so weighty and constraining me thereunto, lest ye should think it to be but a trifle to reject the doctrine of Paul and receive another. Notwithstanding, I will not utterly discourage you, so that ye repent and amend. For sickly and scabbed children may not be cast away, but must be tendered and cherished more diligently than they which are in health. So that Paul here like a cunning physician, layeth all the fault in a manner upon the false apostles, the authors and only cause of this deadly disease. Contrariwise he handleth the Galatians very gently, that by his mildness he might heal them. We therefore by the example of Paul, ought in like manner to reprehend the weak, and so to cure their infirmity, that in the meantime we leave not off to cherish and comfort them, lest if we handle them too sharply, they fall into desperation.

He therefore that ministereth to you the spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doth he it through the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

This argument grounded upon the experience of the Galatians, doth so well like the Apostle, that after he hath reproved and terrified them, setting before them a double danger, he now repeateth the same again and that with a more large amplification, saying: ‘He which ministereth ‘ etc. That is to say: Ye have not only received the Spirit by the hearing of faith, but whatsoever ye have either known or done, it came by the hearing of faith.

       As though he would say: It was not enough that God gave you once the Spirit; but the same God hath also enriched you with the gifts of the Spirit, and increased the same in you, to the end that when ye have once received the Spirit, it might always grow and be more and more effectual in you.

       Hereby it is plain, that the Galatians had wrought miracles, or at the least, had shewed such fruits of faith as the true disciples of the Gospel are wont to bring forth. For the Apostle elsewhere saith: ‘That the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power’ (1 Corinthians 4:20). Now, the power is not only to be able to speak of the kingdom of God; but also in very deed to shew that God through his Spirit is effectual in us. So before in the second chapter, he saith of himself: ‘He that was effectual in Peter among the Jews, was also effectual in me among the Gentiles’ (Galatians 2:8).

       When a preacher then so preacheth, that the Word is not fruitless, but effectual in the hearts of the hearers: that is to say, when faith, hope, love, patience etc. do follow, there God ministereth the Spirit, and worketh miracles in the hearers. In like manner Paul saith here, that God hath given his Spirit to the Galatians, and hath wrought miracles among them.

       As though he would say: God hath not only brought to pass through my preaching, that ye should believe, but also that ye should live holily, bring forth many fruits of faith, and suffer many afflictions. Also by the same power of the Holy Ghost, of adulterers, of wrathful, impatient, and covetous persons, and of very enemies, ye are become liberal, chaste, gentle, patient, and lovers of your neighbors. Whereupon afterwards he giveth testimony of them in the fourth chapter, that they received him as an angel of God, yea rather as Christ Jesus; and that they loved him so entirely, that they were ready to have plucked out their own eyes for him.

       Now, to love thy neighbor so heartily, that thou art ready to bestow thy money, thy goods, thine eyes, and all that thou hast for his salvation, and moreover to suffer patiently all adversities and afflictions, these, no doubt, are the effects and fruits of the Spirit, and these, saith he, ye received and enjoyed before these false teachers came among you. But ye received them not by the law, but of God, who so ministered unto you, and daily increased in you his Holy Spirit, that the Gospel had a most happy course among you, in teaching, believing, working and suffering. Now, seeing ye know these things (being convicted even by the testimony of your own consciences), how cometh it to pass that ye shew not the same fruits that ye did before: that is, that ye teach not truly, that ye believe not faithfully, that ye live not holily, that ye work not rightly, and that ye suffer not patiently: finally, who hath so corrupted you, that you bear not so loving affection towards me, as ye did before? That ye receive not Paul now as an angel of God, nor as Jesus Christ? That ye will not pluck out your eyes to give them unto me? How cometh it to pass, I say, that this fervent zeal of yours waxeth so cold towards me, and that ye now prefer before me, the false apostles, which do so miserably seduce you?

       In like manner it happeneth unto us at this day. When we first preached the Gospel, there were very many that favored our doctrine, and had a good and reverend opinion of us; and after the preaching thereof, followed the fruits and effects of faith. But what ensued? A sort of light and brainsick heads sprang up, and by and by destroyed all that we had in long time and with much travail planted before; and also made us so odious unto them which before loved us dearly, and thankfully received our doctrine, that now they hate nothing more than our name. But of this mischief the devil is the author, working in his members contrary works, which wholly fight against the works of the Holy Ghost. Therefore (saith the Apostle) your experience, O ye Galatians, ought to teach you, that these excellent virtues proceeded not of the works of the law: for as ye had them not before the hearing of faith, so ye have them not now, when the false apostles reign in the midst of you.

       We likewise may say at this day to those which vaunt themselves to be Gospellers, and to be freed from the tyranny of the Pope: Have ye overcome the tyranny of the Pope, and obtained liberty in Christ, through the Anabaptists and other such fantastical spirits, or through us who have preached faith in Jesus Christ? Here if they will confess the truth, they must needs say: No doubt, by the preaching of faith. And true it is, that at the beginning of our preaching, the doctrine of faith had a most happy course, and down fell the Pope’s pardons, purgatory, vows, masses, and such like abominations, which drew with them the ruin of all popery. No man could justly condemn us; for our doctrine was pure, raising up and comforting many poor consciences, which had been long oppressed with men’s traditions under the papacy, which was a plain tyranny, a racking and crucifying of consciences. Many therefore gave thanks unto God, that through the Gospel (which we first, by the grace of God, then preached) they were so mightily delivered out of these snares, and this slaughterhouse of consciences. But when these new fond heads sprang up (who by their denial of the bodily presence of Christ in the Supper, their profanation of Baptism, their destruction of images and abolition of all ceremonies, sought to overthrow popery all at once, and so to darken our repute) then began our doctrine to be evil thought of: for it was commonly bruited abroad that the professors thereof disagreed among themselves.

       Whereat many being greatly offended, fell quite from the truth, putting the Papists in comfort, that we, together with our doctrine, should shortly come to nought, and by this means they should recover their former dignity and authority again.

       Wherefore, like as the false apostles vehemently contended that the Galatians, now justified by faith in Christ, ought to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses, if they would be delivered from their sins, and from the wrath of God, and obtain the Holy Ghost, and yet notwithstanding by the selfsame means they burdened them the more with sins (for sin is not taken away by the law, neither is the Holy Ghost given through it, but only it worketh wrath, and driveth men into great terrors): so at this day these rash heads, which sought to provide for the welfare of the catholic Church, and at once to overthrow and utterly cast out all popery by the abolition of ceremonies, etc., by these self-same things have done no good, but Father harm to the Church: they have not overthrown the papacy, but have more established it.

       But if they had, as they began, with a common consent together with us, taught and diligently urged the article of justification; that is to say, that we are justified neither by the righteousness of the law, nor by our own righteousness, but by only faith in Jesus Christ: doubtless this one article, by little and little, as it began, had overthrown the whole papacy, with all her brotherhoods, pardons, religious orders, relics, ceremonies, invocation of saints, purgatory, masses, watchings, vows, and infinite other like abominations. But they leaving off the preaching of faith and true Christian righteousness, have gone another way to work, to the great hindrance both of sound doctrine and of the churches. It hath happened unto them somewhat after the manner of the German proverb about fishing before the net. For they have driven away the fish that the net would have taken, by seeking to catch them with their own hands.

       Wherefore the papacy at this day is cast down, not by those tumults of the sectaries, but by the preaching of the article of justification. This article hath not only weakened the kingdom of Antichrist, but it hath also sustained and defended us against his violence. And had we not had this defense, both the sectaries had long since perished, and we together with them. Yet so far off are they from acknowledging this benefit, that (as the Psalmist saith, Psalm 109:5) the love which they owe unto us, they do withhold from us, and with hatred and enmity do furiously assail us. Now the article of justification, which is our sole deftnce, not only against all the force and craft of men, but also against the gates of hell, is this: that by faith only in Christ, and without works, we are pronounced righteous and saved. If this be the true manner of justifying (as without doubt it is, or else the whole Scripture must needs be done away), then straightway it followeth that we are not pronounced righteous through monkery, vows, masses, or any works. And here without the abolition of any external thing, without tumult, without any force of man, without any attacking of the Sacraments, by the Spirit atone, popery is cast down. Neither is this victory gotten by us, but by Christ whom we preach and confess.

       And this that I now say, the thing itself doth testify. For at that time when first the papacy began to totter and fall, the sectaries did nothing at all, for they could do nothing, but held their peace. And we moreover did teach and urge nothing but this article o f justification, which alone at that time did threaten the authority of the Pope and lay waste his kingdom. But when the sectaries saw that the papacy did totter and fall, and that the fishes did gather to the net, they sought to destroy and utterly blot out popery all at once, and to snatch from us the glory and take with their own hands all the fishes that were congregated at the net; but they played at the work, for they did not catch them, but only drove them away.

       As much therefore as the false apostles did bring righteousness to the Galatians by teaching them that they must observe the law, so did the sectaries overthrow the papacy by their tumults. Images and other abuses in the Church would have fallen down of themselves, if they had but diligently taught the article of justification. But they were driven by vainglory, for they would gladly have heard it published abroad that they themselves had overthrown the papacy. Wherefore, neglecting the article of justification, they stirred up those tumults whereby they well-nigh overwhelmed us, and confirmed the Papists in their abominations. Such success hath our endeavor when we seek not the glory of God, but our own.

       Neither the Pope nor the devil did fear those tumults; but the doctrine of faith, which preacheth that Christ alone is victor over sin, death and the devil, is farsome to him. For it destroyeth his kingdom and (as I have said) it sustaineth and defendeth us at this day against all the gates of hell. And did we not hold fast to this anchor, we should be compelled again to adore the Pope, neither would there be any way or means of resisting him. For should I join myself unto the sectaries, then were my conscience uncertain; for they without any right do set themselves against the Pope, since they seek their own glory and not the glory of God.

       Therefore, were I not armed with other weapons than they, I should not dare to attack the papacy, much less to presume that I could lay it waste.

       But they say: The Pope is Antichrist! Doubtless; but he in turn replieth, that he hath a ministry of teaching, that with him is the authority to administer the Sacraments, and to bind and to loose, and that he possesseth this power by hereditary right as handed down in succession by the Apostles. Therefore he is not thrust out of his seat by these external tumults, but by this means, if I say: O Pope, I will kiss thy feet, and acknowledge thee to be the supreme Pontiff, if thou wilt adore my Christ, and allow that we have remission of sins and eternal lift through his death and resurrection, and not by observation of thy traditions, if thou wilt grant this, I will not take from thee thy crown and authority: but if not, I will constantly cry out that thou art Antichrist, and declare all thy worships and religions to be not only the denial of God, but supreme blasphemy against God, and idolatry. This the sectaries do not, but they seek by external force to take away the Pope’s crown and authority; therefore their endeavor is in vain. But this before all must be done, that the Pope’s impieties and abominations may be exposed, wherewith under the color of holiness and religion he hath deceived the whole world. If I do this, I shall see what afterward remaineth. For I have taken away the kernel and leave him the husks. They contraiwise do take away the husks and leave him the kernel.

       To be brief: as by the works of the law no miracles are wrought, so of those external works which the sectaries do urge, nothing is made in the Church but tumults, more confusion, and hindrance of the Spirit. And this doth experience testify. For they laid not low the Pope, by their overturning of images and attacking of the Sacraments, but they made him the more proud. But by the Spirit he hath been and is still at this day cast down, that is to say, by the preaching of faith, which testifieth that Christ was delivered for our sins. Here the righteousness and the servitude of the laws of the Pope must needs fall down in ruins. In the meanwhile notwithstanding, I have often declared and still do declare that I am ready to bear the traditions of the Pope, if only he will leave them free, and not bind consciences to them so that men think that they are justified when they keep them and damned when they keep them not. But this he doth not. For if he bound not consciences to his traditions, where were his power? Therefore it is most of all his care to hold men’s consciences fast bound and captive with his laws. Hence cometh this saying: Thou canst not be saved except thou obey the Roman See; likewise this thundering and lightning in his bulls: Let him that with bold temerity presumeth to resist, know that he shall bear the wrath of almighty God, etc. Here he altogether taketh away salvation from all that obey not his laws. Contrariwise, he promiseth unto all such as keep them, eternal life.

       So he urgeth us into the net of the righteousness of works, as if none might be justified and saved without the observation of his laws. Briefly, he maketh no mention of faith, no, not one word, but teacheth only his own things. But if he would grant, that all his laws avail nothing to righteousness before God, then I in turn would grant him much; but then would his kingdom fall down of itself. For if the Pope lost his power to save and to damn, he would be no more than a mere idol. Briefly: the righteousness of the heart is ignorant of all laws, not only of the Pope, but even of Moses also, since true righteousness cometh not of works of law, but of the hearing of faith, which is followed by the virtues and fruits of the Spirit.

As Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Hitherto Paul reasoneth upon the experience of the Galatians, and with this argument he urgeth them vehemently. Ye, saith he, have believed, and believing have done miracles, and have shewed many notable signs; and moreover ye have suffered many afflictions, all which things are the effects and operations, not of the law, but of the Holy Ghost. This the Galatrans were constrained to confess. For they could not deny these things which were before their eyes, and manifest to their senses; and therefore this argument, grounded upon their own experience, is very strong.

       Now he addeth the example of Abraham, and rehearseth the testimony of the Scripture. The first is out of Genesis 15:6: ‘Abraham believed God,’ etc. This place the Apostle her: mightily prosecuteth, as also he did in his Epistle to the Romanes. ‘If Abraham,’ saith he, ‘was justified by the works of the law, he hath righteousness and rejoicing, but not before God, but before men’ (Romans 4:2 ff.). For before God he hath sin and wrath.

       Now he was justified before God, not because he did work, but because he did believe. For the Scripture saith: ‘Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness.’ This place doth Paul there notably set forth and amplify, as it is most worthy: ‘Abraham,’ saith he, ‘was not weak in faith, neither considered he his own body which was now dead, being almost an hundred years old: neither the deadness of Sarah’s womb: neither did he doubt of the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, and gave glory to God, being fully assured, that whatsoever God had promised, he was able to do. Now, it is not written for him only, that it was imputed to him for righteousness, but for us also,’ etc. (Romans 5:19 ff.).

       Paul by these words, ‘Abraham believed,’ of faith in God, maketh the chiefest worship, the chiefest duty, the chiefest obedience, and the chiefest sacrifice. Let him that is a rhetorician, amplify this place, and he shall see that faith is an almighty thing, and that the power thereof is infinite and inestimable; for it giveth glory unto God, which is the highest thing that can be given unto him. Now, to give glory unto God, is to believe in him, to count him true, wise, righteous, merciful, almighty: briefly, to acknowledge him to be the author and giver of all goodness. This reason doth not, but faith. That is it which maketh us divine people, and (as a man would say) it is the creator of divinity, not in the substance of God, but in us. For without faith God loseth in us his glory, wisdom, righteousness, truth, mercy, etc. To conclude, no majesty or divinity remaineth unto God, where faith is not. And the chiefest thing that God requireth of man is, that he giveth unto him his glory and his divinity: that is to say, that he taketh him not for an idol, but for God; who regardeth him, heareth him, sheweth mercy unto him, helpeth him, etc. This being done, God hath his full and perfect divinity, that is, he hath whatsoever a faithful heart can attribute unto him. To be able therefore to give that glory unto God, it is the wisdom of wisdoms, the righteousness of righteousnesses, the religion of religions, and sacrifice of sacrifices. Hereby we may perceive, what an high and excellent righteousness faith is, and so by the contrary, what an horrible and grievous sin infidelity is.

       Whosoever then believeth the Word of God, as Abraham did, is righteous before God, because he hath faith, which giveth glory unto God; that is, he giveth to God that which is due to him (for thus do the jurists define the just man, namely, that he is he which rendereth to every man his due). For faith saith thus: I believe thee, O God, when thou speakest. And what saith God? Impossible things, lies, foolish, weak, absurd, abominable, heretical, and devilish things, if ye believe reason. For what is more absurd, foolish, and impossible, than when God saith unto Abraham that he should have a son of the barren and dead body of his wife Sarah?

       So, if we will follow the judgment of reason, God setteth forth absurd and impossible things, when he setteth out unto us the articles of the Christian faith. Indeed, it seemeth to reason an absurd and a foolish thing, that in the Lord’s Supper is offered unto us the body and blood of Christ; that Baptism is the laver of the new birth, and of the renewing of the Holy Ghost; that the dead shall rise in the last day; that Christ the Son of God was conceived and carried in the womb of the Virgin Mary, that he was born, that he suffered the most reproachful death of the Cross, that he was raised up again, that he now sitteth at the right hand of God the Father, and that he hath power both in heaven and in earth. For this cause Paul calleth the Gospel of Christ crucified, the word of the cross and the foolishness of preaching (1 Corinthians 1:18,21), which to the Jews was offensive, and to the Gentiles foolish doctrine. Wherefore reason doth not understand that to hear the Word of God and to believe it, is the most perfect way of worshipping God: but it thinketh that those things which it chooseth and doth of a good intent, as they call it, and of her own devotion, please God. Therefore when God speaketh, reason judgeth his Word to be heresy and the word of the devil, for it seemeth unto it absurd and foolish.

       But faith killeth reason, and slayeth that beast which the whole world and all creatures cannot kill. So Abraham killed it by faith in the Word of God, whereby seed was promised unto him of Sarah, who was barren and now past child-bearing. Unto this Word, reason yielded not straightway in Abraham, but it fought against faith in him,judging it to be an absurd, a foolish, and impossible thing, that Sarah, who was now not only ninety years old, but was also barren by nature, should bring forth a son. Thus faith wrestled with reason in Abraham: but herein faith got the victory, killed and sacrificed reason, that most cruel and pestilent enemy of God. So all the godly, entering with Abraham into the darkness of faith, do kill reason, saying: Reason, thou art foolish, thou dost not savor those things which belong unto God; therefore speak not against me, but hold thy peace; judge not, but hear the Word of God and believe it. So the godly by faith kill such a beast as is greater than the whole world, and thereby do offer to God a most acceptable sacrifice and service. And in comparison of this sacrifice and service of the faithful, all the religions of all nations, and all the works of all monks and meritmongers are nothing at all. For by this sacrifice, first, as I said, they kill reason, the greatest and mightiest enemy of God: for reason despiseth God, denieth his wisdom, justice, power, truth, mercy, majesty, and divinity. Moreover, by the same sacrifice they yield glory unto God: that is, they believe him to be just, good, faithful, true, etc., they believe that he can do all things, that all his words are holy, true, lively and effectual, etc., which is a most acceptable obedience unto God. Wherefore there can be no greater or more perfect religion in the world, nor more acceptable service unto God, than faith is.

       Contrariwise, the justiciaries, and such as seek righteousness by their own works, lacking faith, do many things. They fast, they pray, they watch, they lay crosses upon themselves. But because they think to appease the wrath of God, and deserve grace by these things, they give no glory to God: that is, they do not judge him to be merciful, true, and keeping promise, etc., but to be an angry judge, which must be pacified by their works. And by this means they despise God, they make him a liar in all his promises, they deny Christ and all his benefits: to conclude, they thrust God out of his seat, and set themselves in his place. For they neglecting and despising the Word of God, do choose unto themselves such a service of God and such works as God hath not commanded. They imagine that God hath a pleasure therein, and they hope to receive a reward of him for the same.

       Therefore they kill not reason, that most bitter enemy of God, but quicken it; and they take from God his majesty and his divinity, and attribute the same unto their own works. Wherefore only faith giveth glory unto God, as Paul withesseth of Abraham. ‘Abraham (saith he) was made strong in faith, and gave glory to God, being fully assured, that whatsoever God had promised he was able to perform, and therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness’ (Romans 4:20 ff.).

Christian righteousness consisteth in faith of the heart, and God’s imputation.

It is not without cause that he addeth this sentence out of the fifteenth chapter of Genesis: ‘and it was imputed to him for righteousness.’ For Christian righteousness consisteth in two things; that is to say, in faith of the heart, and in God’s imputation. Faith is indeed a formal righteousness, and yet this righteousness is not enough; for after faith there remain yet certain remnants of sin in our flesh. This sacrifice of faith began in Abraham, but at the last it was finished in death. Wherefore the other part of righteousness must needs be added also to perfect the same in us: that is to say, God’s imputation. For faith giveth not enough to God formally, because it is imperfect, yea rather our faith is but a little spark of faith, which beginneth only to render unto God his true divinity. We have received the first fruits of the Spirit, but not yet the tenths; neither is reason utterly killed in this life. Which may appear by our concupiscence, wrath, impatiency, and other fruits of the flesh and of infidelity yet remaining in us. Yea, the holiest that live, have not yet a full and continual joy in God, but have their sundry passions, sometimes sad, sometimes merry, as the Scriptures witness of the prophets and Apostles. But such faults are not laid to their charge because of their faith in Christ, for otherwise no man should be saved. We conclude therefore upon these words: ‘It was imputed to him for righteousness’, that righteousness indeed beginneth through faith, and by the same we have the first fruits of the Spirit; but because faith is weak, it is not made perfect without God’s imputation. Wherefore faith beginneth righteousness, but imputation maketh it perfect unto the day of Christ.

       The popist sophisters and schoolmen dispute also of imputation when they speak of the good acceptation of the work: but besides and clean contrary to the Scripture; for they wrest it only to works. They do not consider the uncleanness and inward poison lurking in the heart, as incredulity, doubting, contemning, and hating of God, which most pernicious and perilous beasts are the fountain and cause of all mischief. They consider no more but outward and gross faults and unrighteousness, which are little rivers proceeding and issuing out of those fountains. Therefore they attribute acceptation to good works; that is to say, that God doth accept our works, not of duty indeed, but of congruence. Contrariwise we, excluding all works, do go to the very head of this beast which is called Reason, which is the fountain and headspring of all mischiefs. For reason feareth not God, it loveth not God, it trusteth not in God, but proudly contemneth him. It is not moved either with his threatenings or his promises. It is not delighted with his words or works, but it murmureth against him, it is angry with him, judgeth and hateth him: to be short, ‘it is an enemy to God’ (Romans 8:7), not giving him his glory. This pestilent beast (reason I say) being once slain, all outward and gross sins should be nothing, Wherefore we must first and before all things go about by faith, to kill infidelity, the contempt and hating of God, murmuring against his judgment, his wrath, and all his words and works; for then do we kill reason, which can be killed by none other means but by faith, which in believing God, giveth unto him his glory, notwithstanding that he speaketh those things which seem both foolish, absurd, and impossible to reason; notwithstanding also, that God setteth forth himself otherwise than reason is able either to judge or conceive, that is to say, after this manner: I will accept and pronounce thee as righteous, not for the keeping of the law, not for thy works and thy merits, but for thy faith in Jesus Christ mine only begotten Son, who was born, suffered, was crucified, and died for thy sins; and that sin which remaineth in thee, I will not impute unto thee. If reason then be not killed, and all kinds of religion and service of God under heaven that are invented by men to get righteousness before God, be not condemned, the righteousness of faith can take no place.

       When reason heareth this, by and by it is offended; it rageth and uttereth all her malice against God, saying: Are then good works nothing? Have I then labored and borne the burden and heat of the day in vain? Hereof rise those uproars of nations, kings and princes, against the Lord and his Christ (Psalm 2:2). For the world neither will nor can suffer that her wisdom, righteousness, religions, and worshippings should be reproved and condemned. The Pope, with all his popish rabblement, will not seem to err, much less will he suffer himself to be condemned.

       Wherefore let those which give themselves to the study of the holy Scripture, learn out of this saying: ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness,’ to set forth truly and rightly this true Christian righteousness after this manner: that it is a faith and confidence in the Son of God, or a confidence of the heart in God through Jesus Christ; and let them add this clause as a difference: Which faith and confidence is accounted righteousness for Christ’s sake. For these two things (as I said before) work Christian righteousness: namely, faith in the heart, which is a gift of God and assuredly believeth in Christ; and also that God accounteth this imperfect faith for perfect righteousness, for Christ’s sake, in whom I have begun to believe. Because of this faith in Christ, God seeth not my doubting of his goodwill towards me, my distrust, heaviness of spirit, and other sins which are yet in me. For as long as I live in the flesh, sin is truly in me. But because I am covered under the shadow of Christ’s wings, as is the chicken under the wing of the hen, and dwell without all fear under that most ample and large heaven of the forgiveness of sins, which is spread over me, God covereth and pardoneth the remnant of sin in me: that is to say, because of that faith wherewith I began to lay hold upon Christ, he accepteth my imperfect righteousness even for perfect righteousness, and counteth my sin for no sin, which notwithstanding is sin indeed.

       So we shroud ourselves under the covering of Christ’s flesh, who is our ‘cloudy pillar for the day, and our pillar of fire for the night’ (Exodus 13:21), lest God should see our sin. And although we see it, and for the same do feel the terrors of conscience, yet flying unto Christ our mediator and reconciler (through whom we are made perfect), we are sure and safe: for as all things are in him, so through him we have all things, who also doth supply whatsoever is wanting in us. When we believe this, God winketh at the remnants of sin yet sticking in our flesh, and so covereth them, as if they were no sin. Because, saith he, thou believest in my Son, although thou have many sins, yet notwithstanding they shall be forgiven thee, until thou be clean delivered from them by death.

       Let Christian learn with all diligence to understand this article of Christian righteousness, which the sophisters neither do nor can understand. But let them not think that they can learn it thoroughly in one lesson. Wherefore let them read Paul, and read him again, both often and with great diligence, and let them compare the first with the last; yea let them compare Paul wholly and fully with himself: then shall they find it to be true, that Christian righteousness consisteth in these two things: namely, in faith which giveth glory unto God, and in God’s imputation. For faith is weak (as I have said) and therefore God’s imputation must needs be joined withal: that is to say, that God will not lay to our charge the remnant of sin, that he will not punish it, nor condemn us for it; but will cover it and will freely forgive it, as though it were nothing at all; not for our sake, neither for our worthiness and works, but for Jesus Christ’s sake in whom we believe.

       Thus a Christian man is both righteous and a sinner, holy and profane, an enemy of God and yet a child of God. These contraries no sophisters will admit, for they know not the true manner of justification. And this was the cause why they constrained men to work well so long, until they should feel in themselves no sin at all. Whereby they gave occasion to many (which, striving with all their endeavor to be perfectly righteous, could not attain thereunto) to become stark mad; yea and infinite number also of those which were the authors of this devilish opinion, at the hour of death were driven unto desperation. Which thing had happened unto me also, if Christ had not mercifully looked upon me, and delivered me out of this error.

       Contrariwise, we teach and comfort the afflicted sinner after this manner:

       Brother, it is not possible for thee to become so righteous in this life, that thou shouldest feel no sin at all, that thy body should be clear like the sun, without spot or blemish; but thou hast as yet wrinkles and spots, and yet art thou holy notwithstanding. But thou wilt say: How can I be holy, when I have and feel sin in me? I answer: In that thou dost feel and acknowledge thy sin, it is a good token; give thanks unto God and despair not. It is one step of health, when the sick man doth acknowledge and confess his infirmity. But how shall I be delivered from sin? Run to Christ the physician, which healeth them that are broken in heart, and saveth sinners.

       Follow not the judgment of reason, which telleth thee, that he is angry with sinners; but kill reason and believe in Christ. If thou believe, thou art righteous, because thou givest glory unto God, that he is almighty, merciful, true, etc. Thou justifiest and praisest God: to be brief, thou yieldest unto him his divinity, and whatsoever else belongeth unto him.

       And the sin which remaineth in thee, is not laid to thy charge, but is pardoned for Christ’s sake in whom thou believest, who is perfectly just; whose righteousness is thy righteousness, and thy sin is his sin.

       Here we see that every Christian is a true priest: for first he offereth up and killeth his own reason, and the wisdom of the flesh; then he giveth glory unto God, that he is righteous, true, patient, pitiful, and merciful. And this is that daily sacrifice of the New Testament which must be offered evening and morning. The evening sacrifice is to kill reason; the morning sacrifice is to glorify God. Thus a Christian daily and continually is occupied in this double sacrifice and in the exercise thereof. And no man is able to set forth sufficiently the excellence and dignity of this Christian sacrifice.

       Christian righteousness, therefore, as I have said, is the imputation of God for righteousness or unto righteousness, because of our faith in Christ, or for Christ’s sake. When the popish schoolmen hear this strange and wonderful definition, which is unknown to reason, they laugh at it. For they imagine that righteousness is a certain quality poured into the soul, and afterwards spread into all the parts of man. They cannot put away the imaginations of reason, which teacheth that a right judgment, and a good will, or a good intent is true righteousness. This unspeakable gift therefore excelleth all reason, that God doth account and acknowledge him for righteous without any works, which embraceth his Son by faith alone, who was sent into the world, was born, suffered, and was crucified etc. for us.

       This matter, as touching the words, is easy (to wit, that righteousness is not essentially in us, as the Papists reason out of Aristotle, but without us in the grace of God only and in his imputation; and that there is no essential substance of righteousness in us besides that weak faith or firstfruits of faith, whereby we have begun to apprehend Christ, and yet sin in the meantime remaineth verily in us); but in very deed it is no small or light matter, but very weighty and of great importance. For Christ which is given unto us, and whom we apprehend by faith, hath done no small thing for us, but (as Paul said before): ‘He hath loved us and given himself in very deed for us: he was made accursed for us,’ etc. (Galatians 2:20; 3:13). And this is no vain speculation, that Christ was delivered for my sins, and was made accursed for me, that I might be delivered from everlasting death. Therefore to apprehend that Son by faith, and with the heart to believe in him given unto us and for us of God, causeth that God doth account that faith, although it be imperfect, for perfect righteousness.

       And here we are altogether in another world, far from reason, where we dispute not what we ought to do, or with what works we may deserve grace and forgiveness of sins; but we are in a matter of most high and heavenly divinity, where we do hear this Gospel or glad tidings, that Christ died for us, and that we, believing this, are counted righteous, though sins notwithstanding do remain in us, and that great sins.

       So Christ also defineth the righteousness of faith. ‘The Father himself,’ saith he, ‘loveth you’ (John 16:27). Wherefore doth he love you? Not because ye were Pharisees, unreprovable in the righteousness of the law, cirumcised, doing good works, fasting, etc.; but because ‘I have chosen you out of the world’ (John 15:19), and ye have done nothing, but that ‘ye have loved me and believed that I came out from the Father.’ This object ‘I’ being sent from the Father into the world, pleased you. And because you have apprehended and embraced this object, therefore the Father loveth you, and therefore ye please him. And yet notwithstanding in another place he calleth them evil, and commandeth them to ask forgiveness of their sins. These two things are quite contrary: to wit, that a Christian is righteous and beloved of God, and yet notwithstanding he is a sinner. For God cannot deny his own nature: that is, he must needs hate sin and sinners; and this he doth of necessity, for otherwise he should be unrighteous and love sin. How then can these two contradictories stand together: I am a sinner, and most worthy of God’s wrath and indignation; and yet the Father loveth me? Here nothing cometh between, but only Christ the mediator. The Father, saith he, doth not therefore love you because ye are worthy of love, but because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from him.

       Thus a Christian man abideth in pure humility, feeling sin in him effectually, and confessing himself to be worthy of wrath, the judgment of God, and everlasting death for the same, that he may be humbled in this life: and yet notwithstanding he continueth still in a pure and holy pride, in the which he turneth unto Christ, and through him he lifteth up himself against this feeling of God’s wrath and judgment, and believeth that not only the remnants of sin are not imputed unto him, but that also he is loved of the Father, not for his own sake, but for Christ’s sake, whom the Father loveth.

       Hereby now we may see, how faith justifieth without works, and yet notwithstanding, how imputation of righteousness is also necessary. Sins do remain is us, which God utterly hateth. Therefore it is necessary that we should have imputation of righteousness, which we obtain through Christ and for Christ’s sake, who is given unto us and received of us by faith. In the meantime, as long as we live here, we are carried and nourished in the bosom of the mercy and long-sufferance of God, until the body of sin be abolished, and we raised up as new creatures in that great day. Then shall there be new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness shall dwell.

       In the meanwhile under this heaven sin and wicked men do well, and the godly also have sin dwelling in them. For this cause Paul (Romans 7:23) complaineth of sin which remaineth in the saints; yet notwithstanding he saith afterwards (Romans 8:1) that there is no damnation to them which are in Christ Jesu. Now, how shall these things, so contrary and repugnant, be reconciled together, that sin in us is no sin, that he which is damnable shall not be condemned, that he which is rejected shall not be rejected, that he which is worthy of the wrath of God and everlasting death shall not be punished? The only reconciler hereof is the mediator between God and man, even the man Jesus Christ, as Paul saith: ‘there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesu?

Ye know therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

This is the general argument and whole disputation of Paul against the Jews, that they which believe, are the children of Abraham, and not they which are born of his flesh and blood. This disputation Paul vehemently prosecuteth in this place, and in the fourth and ninth chapters to the Romans. For this was the greatest confidence and glory of the Jews: We are the seed and children of Abraham. He was circumcised and kept the law; therefore if we will be the true children of Abraham, we must follow our father, etc. It was, no doubt, an excellent glory and dignity to be the seed of Abraham. For no man could deny but that God spake to the seed and of the seed of Abraham. But this prerogative nothing profited the unbelieving Jews. By reason whereof Paul, especially in this place, mightily striveth against this argument, and wresteth from the Jews this strong affiance in themselves; and this could he, as the elect vessel of Christ, do above all other. For if we at the beginning should have disputed with the Jews without Paul, peradventure we should have prevailed very little against them.

       So then Paul contendeth against that confidence of the Jews, which did so proudly boast, saying: ‘We are the seed of Abraham’ (John 8:33). Well, what then? Abraham was circumcised and kept the law; we do the same.

       All this I grant; but will ye therefore look to be justified and saved? Nay not so. But let us come to the patriarch Abraham himself, and let us see by what means he was justified and saved. Doubtless, not for his excellent virtues and holy works; not because he forsook his country, kindred, and father’s house; not because he was circumcised and observed the law; not because he was about to offer up in sacrifice at the commandment of God, his son Isaac, in whom he had the promise of posterity: but because he believed God. Wherefore he was not justified by any other means than by faith alone. If ye then will be justified by the law, much more ought Araham your father to be justified by the law. But Abraham could not otherwise be justified, nor receive forgiveness of sins and the Holy Ghost, than by faith alone. Since this is true by the testimony of the Scripture, why stand ye so much upon circumcision and the law, contending that ye have righteousness and salvation thereby, whenas Abraham himself, your father, your fountain and headspring, of whom ye do so much glory, was justified and saved without these by faith alone? What can be said against this argument?

       Paul therefore concludeth with this sentence: ‘They which are of faith are the children of Abraham ‘, that corporal birth or carnal seed maketh not the children of Abraham before God. As though he would say: There is none before God accounted as the child of this Abraham (who is the servant of God, whom God hath chosen and made righteous by faith) through carnal generation; but such children must be given him before God, as he was a father. But he was a father of faith, was justified and pleased God, not because he could beget children after the flesh, not because he had circumcision and the law, but because he believed in God. He therefore that will be a child of the believing Abraham, must also himself believe, or else he is not a child of the elect, the beloved and the justified Abraham, but only of the begetting Abraham, which is nothing else but a man conceived, born and wrapt in sin, without the forgiveness of sins, without faith, without the Holy Ghost, as another man is, and therefore condemned.

       Such also are the children carnally begotten of him, having nothing in them like unto their father, but flesh and blood, sin and death: therefore these are also damned. This glorious boasting then: ‘We are the seed of Abraham’, is to no purpose.

       This argument Paul setteth out plainly in the ninth to the Romans by two examples of the holy Scripture. The first is of Ishmael and Isaac, which were both the seed and natural children of Abraham, and yet notwithstanding Ishmael (which was begotten of Abraham as Isaac was, yea and should also have been the first-begotten, if carnal generation had had any prerogative, or could have made children to Abraham) is shut out, and the Scripture saith: ‘in Isaac shall thy seed be called.’ The second is of Esau and Jacob, who when they were yet in their mother’s womb, and had done neither good nor evil, it was said: ‘the elder shall serve the younger. I have loved Jacob, and Esau have I hated.’ Therefore it is plain, that they which are of faith, are the children of Abraham.

       But some will here object (as the Jews do, and certain cavilling spirits at this day), saying that this word ‘faith’ in the Hebrew signifieth ‘truth,’ and therefore we do not rightly apply it; and moreover, that this place out of Genesis 15:6 speaketh of a corporal thing, namely of the promise of posterity, and therefore is not well appllied of Paul to faith in Christ, but ought simply to be understood of the faith of Abraham, whereby he believed according to the promise of God, that he should have seed: and hereby they would prove that the arguments and allegations of Paul do conclude nothing. In like manner they may cavil also, that the place which Paul a little after (Galatians 3:11) allegeth out of Habakkuk, speaketh of faith as touching the full accomplishing of the whole vision, and not of faith only in Christ, for the which Paul allegeth it. Likewise they may wrest all the eleventh chapter to the Hebrews, which speaketh of faith and the examples of faith. By these things such vainglorious and arrogant spirits do hunt for praise, and seek to be counted wise and learned, where they least of all deserve it. But because of the simple and ignorant, we will briefly answer to their cavillations.

       To the first I answer thus, that faith is nothing else but the truth of the heart; that is to say, a true and right opinion of the heart as touching God.

       Now, faith only thinketh and judgeth rightly of God, and not reason. And then doth a man think rightly of God, when he believeth his Word. But when he will measure God without the Word, and believe him according to his own reason, he hath not the truth of God in his heart, and therefore he cannot think or judge of him as he should do. As for example: when a monk imagineth that his cowl, his shaven crown, and his vows do please God, and that grace and everlasting life is given unto him for the same, he hath no true opinion of God, but false and full of impiety. Truth therefore is faith itself, which judgeth rightly of God, namely, that God regardeth not our works and righteousness, because we are unclean; but that he will have mercy upon us, look upon us, accept us, justify us, and save us, if we believe in his Son, whom he hath sent to be a propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). This is a true opinion of God, and in very deed nothing else but faith itself. I cannot comprehend nor be fully assured by my reason, that I am received into God’s favor for Christ’s sake; but I hear this to be pronounced by the Gospel, and I lay hold upon it by faith.

       To the second cavillation I answer, that Paul doth rightly allege the place out of the fifteenth of Genesis, applying it to faith in Christ. For with faith always must be joined a certain assurance of God’s mercy. Now this assurance comprehendeth a faithful trust of remission of sins for Christ’s sake. For it is impossible that thy conscience should look for anything at God’s hand, except first it be assured, that God is merciful unto thee for Christ’s sake. Therefore all the promises are to be referred to that first promise concerning Christ: ‘The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head’ (Genesis 3:15). So did also the prophets both understand it and teach it. By this we may see that the faith of the fathers in the Old Testament, and ours now in the New is all one, although they differ as touching their outward objects. Which thing Peter witnesseth in the Acts when he saith: ‘which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear. But we believe through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be saved even as they did’ (Acts 15:10 f.); and Paul saith: ‘Our fathers did all drink of that spiritual rock that followed them, which rock was Christ’ (1 Corinthians 10:4); and Christ himself saith: ‘Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad’ (John 8:56). Notwithstanding, the faith of the fathers was grounded on Christ which was to come, as ours is on Christ which is now come. Abraham in his time was justified by faith in Christ to come, but if he lived at this day, he would be justified by faith in Christ now revealed and present; like as I have said before of Cornelius, who at the first believed in Christ to come, but being instructed by Peter, he believed that Christ was already come. Therefore the diversity of times never changeth faith, nor the Holy Ghost, nor the gifts thereof. For there hath been, is, and ever shall be one mind, one judgment and understanding concerning Christ, as well in the ancient fathers, as in the faithful which are at this day, and shall come hereafter. So we have as well Christ to come, and believe in him, as the fathers in the Old Testament had. For we look for him to come again in the last day with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead, whom now we believe to be come already for our salvation.

       Therefore this allegation of Paul offendeth none but those blind and ignorant cavillers. For us notwithstanding it is not lawful to return unto Christ to come (save inasmuch as we look for him at the last day as our Redeemer which shall deliver us from all evils). For in so doing we should believe that Christ was not yet revealed, but was still to be revealed. And so we should deny Christ and all his benefits, and make God a liar, testifying that he had not yet fulfilled his promises, as do the Jews.

       Paul therefore, as I have said, rightly allegeth that place out of Genesis, which speaketh of the faith of Abraham, and applieth it unto faith in Christ.

       For all the promises past, were contained in Christ to come. Therefore as well Abraham and the other fathers, as also we, are made righteous by faith in Christ: they by faith in him then to come, we by faith in him now present.

       For we entreat now of the nature and manner of justification, which is all one both in them and in us, whether it be in Christ to be revealed, or in Christ now revealed and present. It is enough therefore that Paul sheweth that the law justifieth not, but only faith, whether it be in Christ to come, or in Christ already come.

       At this day also Christ to some is present, to other some he is to come. To all believers he is present: to the unbelievers he is not yet come, neither doth he profit them anything at all: but if they hear his Word and believe, then he is present unto them, he justifieth and saveth them.

Ye know therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

As if he would say: ye know by this example of Abraham, and by the plain testimony of the Scripture, that they are the children of Abraham which are of faith, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, without any respect either to reason, or unto the law, or unto works, or to the carnal generation of the fathers. For not by the law, but by the righteousness of faith, the promise was made unto Abraham, that he should be heir of the world: that is to say, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, and that he should be called the father of nations And lest the Jews should falsely interpret this word ‘nations,’ applying it unto themselves alone, the Scripture preventeth this, and saith not only, ‘a father of nations,’ but ‘a father of many nations have I made thee’ (Genesis 17:4; Romans 4:7). Therefore Abraham is not only the father of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles. Hereby we may plainly see that the children of Abraham are not the children of the flesh (since he is not the father of the Gentiles according to the flesh), but the children of faith, as Paul in Romans 4 declareth: ‘who is the father of us all (as it is written: I have made thee a father of many nations) before God whom he did believe:’ so that Paul maketh two Abrahams, a begetting and believing Abraham. Abraham hath children, and is a father of many nations. Where? Before God, where he believeth: not before the world, wherehe begetteth. For in the world he is a child of Adam, and a sinner or (which is more) he is a worker of righteousness of the law, living after the rule of reason, that is, after the manner of men: but this pertaineth nothing to the believing Abraham.

       This example therefore of Abraham wrappeth in it the holy Scripture itself, which saith that we are counted righteous by faith. Wherefore this is a strong and a mighty argument two manner of ways, both by the example of Abraham, and also by the authority of the Scripture.

And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles through faith

These things pertain to the former argument. As if he should say: Ye Jews do immoderately glory in the law; and ye commend and extol Moses above measure because God spake unto him in the bush, etc. As the Jews do proudly brag against us (as I have myself at sundry times heard) saying: Ye Christians have Apostles, ye have a Pope, bishops etc.; but we Jews have patriarchs, prophets, yea we have God himself, who spake unto us in the bush, in Sinai, where he gave unto us the law, and in the Temple, etc. Such a glory and such an excellent testimony allege ye for yourselves against us, if ye can. To this answereth Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles: This your proud bragging and boasting is to no purpose; for the Scripture prevented it, and foresaw long before the law, that the Gentiles should not be justified by the law, but by the blessing of Abraham’s seed, which was promised unto him (as Paul saith afterwards) four hundred and thirty years before the law was given. Now the law being given so many years after, could not hinder or abolish this promise of the blessing made unto Abraham, but it hath continued firm, and shall continue for ever. What can the Jews answer to this?

       This argument grounded upon the certainty of time, is very strong. The promise of blessing is given unto Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the people of Israel received the law. For it is said to Abraham:

       Because thou hast believed God, and hast given glory unto him, therefore thou shalt be a ‘father of many nations.’ There Abraham by the promise of God is appointed a father of many nations, and the inheritance of the world for his posterity and issue after him, is given unto him before the law was published. Why do ye then brag, O ye Galatians, that ye obtain forgiveness of sins, and are become children, and do receive the inheritance through the law, which followed a long time, that is to say, four hundred and thirty years after the Promise? In Baptism is the promise of salvation: ‘He that believeth etc., shall be saved’ (Mark 16:16). If any man here denieth (as the fantastical spirits do) that righttousness and salvation is given unto an infant when first it is baptised, making a mock of the promise on this wise, namely that it availeth when a man is come to the use of reason and is now able to work well, and by doing good works to obtain that which is contained in the promise; also, that Baptism is not a sign of the goodwill of God towards us, but only a mark whereby the believers are discerned from the unbelievers, etc. : such an one doth utterly take away salvation from Baptism, and attribute it unto works. So the false apostles and their disciples did in all things. They preached the law and the glory thereof immoderately, but the promise made unto Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the law was given, they neglected and despised, and would in no wise know that Abraham (of whom they gloried notwithstanding as the father of their whole nation) being yet uncircumcised, and living so many ages before the law, was made righteous by no other means than by faith alone, as the Scripture most plainly witnesseth: ‘Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness’ (Genesis 15:6). Afterwards, when he was now accounted righteous because of his faith, the Scripture maketh mention of circumcision in the seventeenth of Genesis, where it saith: ‘This is my covenant which ye shall keep between me and you’ (Genesis 17:10).

       With this argument Paul mightily convinceth the false apostles, and sheweth plainly that Abraham was justified by faith only, both without and before circumcision, and also four hundred and thirty years before the law.

       This selfsame argument he handleth in the fourth chapter to the Romans: to wit, that righteousness was imputed to Abraham before circumcision, and that he was righteous being yet uncircumcised; much more then he was righteous before the law.

       Therefore, saith Paul, the Scripture did well provide against this your glorious bragging of the righteousness of the law and works. When?

       Before circumcision and before the law. For the law was given four hundred and thirty years after the promise, whereas Abraham was not only justified without the law and before the law, but was also dead and buried: and his righteousness without the law did not only flourish until the law, but also shall flourish even to the end of the world. If then the father of the whole Jewish nation was made righteous without the law and before the law, much more are the children made righteous by the same means that their father was. Therefore righteousness cometh by faith and not by the law.

Preached the gospel before unto Abraham, saying: in thee shall all the gentiles be blessed.

The Jews do not only lightly pass over, but also do deride, and with their wicked glosses do corrupt these excellent and notable sentences: ‘Abraham believed God’ etc.,’I have appointed thee a father’ etc., and such like, which highly commend faith and contain promises of spiritual things. For they are blind and hard-hearted, and therefore they see not that these places do entreat of faith towards God, and of righteousness before God. With like malice also they handle this notable place of the spiritual blessing: ‘In thee all the nations of the earth shall be blessed’ (Genesis 12:3). For, say they, to bless signifieth nothing else but to praise, to wish well or pray for prosperity, and [to be blessed is] to be glorious in the sight of the world. After this manner the Jew, say they, which is born of the seed of Abraham, is blessed; and the proselyte or stranger which worshippeth the God of the Jews and joineth himself unto them, is also blessed. Therefore they think that blessing is nothing else but praise and glory in this world; in that a man may glory and vaunt, that he is of the stock and family of Abraham. But this is to corrupt and pervert the sentences of the Scriptures, and not to expound them. By these words, ‘Abraham believed,’ Paul defineth and setteth before our eyes a spiritual Abraham, faithful, righteous, and having the promise of God; an Abraham, I say, which is not in error, and in the old flesh: which is not born of Adam, but of the Holy Ghost. And of this Abraham renewed by faith and regenerate by the Holy Ghost, speaketh the Scripture, and pronounceth of him, that he should be a father of many nations; also that all the Gentiles should be given unto him for an inheritance, when it saith: ‘in thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.’

       This Paul vehemently urgeth by the authority of the Scripture which saith, ‘Abraham believed God,’ etc. (Genesis 15). The Scripture then attributeth no righteousness to Abraham, but in that he believeth; and it speaketh of such an Abraham, as he is accounted before God. Such sentences therefore of the Scripture do set forth unto us a new Abraham, which is separate from the carnal marriage and bed, and from the carnal generation, and make him such a one as he is before God; that is to say, believing and justified through faith; to whom now believing God maketh this promise: ‘Thou shalt be a father of many nations,’ and: ‘in thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.’ Whereof this is the meaning (saith Paul): that the Scripture preventeth and beateth down all braggings and boastings of the Jews as touching the law, since the inheritance of the Gentiles was given unto Abraham, not by the law and circumcision, but long before the same, by the only righteousness of faith.

       Therefore, whereas the Jews will be counted and called blessed, because they are the Children and seed of Abraham, it is nothing else but a vainglorious brag. It is, no doubt, a great prerogative and glory before the world, to be born of Abraham’s seed, as Paul sheweth (Romans 9), but not so before God. Wherefore the Jews do wickedly pervert this place concerning the blessing, in applying it only to a carnal blessing, and do great injury to the Scripture, which speaketh most manifestly of the spiritual blessing before God, and neither can or ought otherwise to be understood. This is then the true meaning of this place: ‘In thee shall be blessed.’ In which ‘thee?’ In thee Abraham believing, or in thy faith, or in Christ (thy seed) to come, in whom thou believest, all the nations of the earth (I say) shall be blessed ; that as, all the nations shall be that blessed children, even like as thou art blessed; as it is written, ‘so shall thy seed be’ (Genesis 15:5).

       Hereof it followeth that the blessing and faith of Abraham is the same that ours is; that Abraham’s Christ is our Christ; that Christ died as well for the sins of Abraham as for ours. For ‘Abraham saw my day and rejoiced’ (John 8:56). All things therefore are the same. Wherefore we may in no wise suffer the Jews to make light of this word ‘blessing’ or to corrupt it.

       They look but through a veil into the Scripture, and therefore they understand not what or whereof the promise is which was made to the fathers; which we notwithstanding ought to consider above all things: so shall we see that God speaketh to Abraham the patriarch, not of the law nor of things to be done, but of things to be believed; that is to say, that God speaketh unto him of promises which are apprehended by. faith. Now, what doth Abraham? He believeth those promises. And what doth God to that believing Abraham? He imputeth faith unto him for righteousness; and addeth further many more promises: as, ‘I am thy defender,’ ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed’, ‘Thou shalt be a father of many nations,’ ‘So shall thy seed be.’ These are invincible arguments, against the which nothing can be said, if the places of the holy Scripture be thoroughly considered.

So then they which are of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham

All the weight and force hereof lieth in these words: ‘With faithful Abraham.’ For he putteth a plain difference between Abraham and Abraham; of one and the selfsame person making two. As if he said: There is a working, and there is a believing Abraham. With the working Abraham we have nothing to do. For if he be justified by works, he hath to rejoice, but not with God. Let the Jews glory as much as they will of that begetting Abraham, which is a worker, is circumcised, and keepeth the law: but we glory of the faithful Abraham, of whom the Scripture saith, that he received the blessing of righteousness through his faith, not only for himself, but also for all those which believe as he did; and so the world was promised to that Abraham which believed. Therefore all the world is blessed; that is to say, receiveth imputation of righteousness, if it believe as Abraham did.

       Wherefore the blessing is nothing else but the promise of the Gospel. And that all nations are blessed, is as much to say, as all nations shall hear the blessing; that is, the promise of God shall be preached and published by the Gospel among all nations. And out of this place the prophets have drawn many prophecies by a spiritual understanding: as, ‘Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession’ (Psalm 2:8); and again, ‘Their voice hath gone through all the earth’ (Psalm 19:4). Briefly, all the prophecies of the kingdom of Christ, and of the publishing of the Gospel throughout all the world, have sprung out of this place: ‘In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.’ Wherefore, to say that the nations are blessed, is nothing else but that righteousness is freely given unto them; or that they are counted righteous before God, not by the law, but by the hearing of faith; for Abraham was not justified by any other means than by hearing the word of promise, of blessing, and of grace, Therefore, like as Abraham obtained imputation of righteousness by the hearing of faith; even so did all the Gentiles obtain, and yet do obtain the same. For the same Word that was first declared unto Abraham, was also afterward published to all the Gentiles.

       Hereby then we see that to bless signifieth nothing else, but (as I said before) to preach and teach the word of the Gospel, to confess Christ, and to spread abroad the knowledge of him among all the Gentiles. And this is the priestly office and continual sacrifice of the Church in the New Testament, which distributeth this blessing by preaching, by ministering of the Sacraments, by absolving the penitent, by comforting the brokenhearted, by distributing the word of grace which Abraham had, and which was also his blessing; which when he believed, he received the blessing. So we also believing the same, are blessed. And this blessing is a great glory, not before the world, but before God. For we have heard that our sins are forgiven us, and that we are accepted of God; that God is our Father, and that we are his children; with whom he will not be angry, but will deliver us from sin, from death and all evils, and will give unto us righteousness, life, and eternal salvation. Of this blessing (as I have said) do the prophets preach in every place, who did not so coldly consider those promises made unto the fathers as the wicked Jews did, and as the popish schoolmen and the sectaries do at this day, but did read them and weigh them with great diligence, and also drew out of those promises whatsoever they prophesied concerning Christ or his kingdom. So the prophecy of Hosea: ‘I will redeem them from the power of the grave: I will deliver them from death:

       O death, I will be thy death: O grave, I will be thy destruction’ (Hoseah 13:14), and such-like places of the other prophets, did all spring out of these promises, in the which God promised to the fathers the bruising of the serpent’s head and the blessing of all nations.

       Moreover, if the nations be blessed, that is to say, if they be accounted righteous before God, it followeth that they are free from sin and death, and are made partakers of righteousness, salvation, and everlasting life, not for their works, but for their faith in Christ. Wherefore that place of Genesis 12:3, ‘In thee shall all the nations be blessed,’ speaketh not of the blessings of the mouth, but of such a blessing as belongeth to the imputation of righteousness, which is available before God, and redeemeth from the curse of sin, and from all those evils that do accompany sin. Now this blessing is received only by faith. For the text saith plainly: ‘Abraham believed, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.’ Wherefore it is a mere spiritual blessing: and there is no blessing indeed but this; which, although it be accursed in the world (as indeed it is) yet is it available before God. This place therefore is of great force, that they which are of faith, are become partakers of this promise of the blessing made unto the believing Abraham. And by this means Paul preventeth the cavillation of the Jews, which brag of a begetting and a working Abraham, and righteous before men, and not of a believing Abraham.

       Now, like as the Jews do glory only of a working Abraham, even so the Pope setteth out only a working Christ, or rather an example of Christ. He that will live godly (saith he) must walk as Christ hath walked, according to his own saying in John 13:15: ‘I have given you an example, that you should do even as I have done unto you.’ We deny not but that the faithful ought to follow the example of Christ, and to work well; but we say that they are not justified thereby before God. And Paul doth not here reason what we ought to do, but by what means we are made righteous. In this matter we must set nothing before our eyes, but Jesus Christ dying for our sins and rising again for our righteousness; and him must we apprehend by faith, as a gift, not as an example. This, reason understandeth not; and therefore as the Jews follow a working, and not a believing Abraham, even so the Papists, and all that seek righteousness by works, do behold and apprehend, not a justifying, but a working Christ; and by this means they swerve from Christ, from righteousness and salvation. And like as the Jews which were saved, ought to follow the believing Abraham; so we also, if we will be delivered from our sins and be saved, must take hold of the justifying and saving Christ, whom Abraham himself also by faith did apprehend, and through him was blessed.

       It was indeed a great glory that Abraham received circumcision at the commandment of God, that he was endued with excellent virtues, that he obeyed God in all things; as it is also a great praise and felicity to follow the example of Christ working, to love thy neighbor, to do good to them that hurt thee, to pray for thine enemies, patiently to bear the ingratitude of those which render evil for good: but all this availeth nothing to righteousness before God. The excellent deeds and virtues of Abraham were not the cause that he was counted righteous before God; so likewise the imitation and following of the example of Christ doth not make us righteous before God. For, to make us righteous before God, there is far more excellent price required, which is neither the righteousness of man, nor yet of the law. Here we must have Christ to bless us and save us, like as Abraham had him for his blesser and savior. How? Not by works, but by faith. Wherefore, as there is great difference between the believing and the working Abraham; so there is great difference between Christ blessing and redeeming, and Christ working and giving example. Now Paul speaketh here of Christ redeeming, and Abraham believing; and not of Christ giving example, or of Abraham working. Therefore he addeth purposely, and that with great vehemency: ‘ They which are of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham.’

       Wherefore we must separate the believing and the working Abraham as far asunder as there is distance between heaven and earth. He that believeth in Christ, is altogether a divine person, the child of God, the inheritor of the world, a conqueror of sin, death, the world and the devil: therefore he cannot be praised and magnified enough. Let us not suffer this faithful Abraham to lie hid in his grave, as he is hid from the Jews; but let us highly extol him and magnify him; and let us fill both heaven and earth with his name; so that in respect of this faithful Abraham, we see nothing at all in the working Abraham. For when we speak of this faithful Abraham, we are in heaven. But afterwards, doing those things which the working Abraham did, which were carnal and earthly, and not divine and heavenly (save inasmuch as they were given unto him of God), we are among men in earth. The believing Abraham therefore filleth both heaven and earth. So every Christian with his faith filleth heaven and earth; so that besides it, he ought to behold nothing.

       Now, by these words, ‘shall be blessed,’ Paul gathereth an argument of the contrary: for the Scripture is full of oppositions, as when two contraries are compared together. And it is a point of cunning to mark well these oppositions in the Scriptures, and by them to expound the sentences thereof. As here this word ‘blessing’ importeth also the contrary: that is to say, ‘malediction.’ For when the Scripture saith that all nations which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham, it followeth necessarily that all, as well Jews as Gentiles, are accursed without faith, or without the faithful Abraham. For seeing the promise of blessing for all nations was given to Abraham, there is plainly no blessing to be looked for, but only in the promise made unto Abraham, now published by the Gospel throughout the whole world. Therefore, whatsoever is without that blessing, is accursed.

       And this Paul sheweth plainly when he saith:

For as many as are of the works of the law, are accursed

Here ye see that the curse is as it were a flood, swallowing up whatsoever is without Abraham; that is to say, without faith and the promise of the blessing of Abraham. Now if the law itself, given by Moses at the commandment of God, maketh subject to the curse them which are under it, much more shall the laws and traditions so do, which are devised by man’s reason. He therefore that will avoid the curse, must lay hold upon the promise of blessing, or upon the faith of Abraham, or else he shall remain under the curse. Upon this place therefore, ‘shall be blessed in thee,’ it followeth that all nations, whether they were before Abraham, in his time, or after him, are accursed, and shall abide under the curse for ever, unless they are blessed in the faith of Abraham, unto whom the promise of the blessing was given to be published by his seed throughout the whole world.

       To know these things it is very profitable, for they help greatly to comfort troubled and afflicted consciences; and moreover they teach us to separate very far the righteousness of faith from the righteousness of the flesh, or civil righteousness. For we must note that Paul is here in hand, not with a matter of policy, but with a divine and spiritual matter, lest any mad brain should cavil, and say that he curseth and condemneth politic laws and magistrates. Here Jerome laboureth, saying nothing to the point, and the popish sophisters are more dumb than fishes. Wherefore the readers must be admonished that in this place there is nothing handled as touching civil laws, manners, or matters political, (which are the ordinances of God, and good things, and the Scripture elsewhere approveth and commendeth the same), but of a spiritual righteousness, by the which we are justified before God, and are called the children of God in the kingdom of heaven. To be brief, there is nothing handled here concerning the bodily life, but concerning everlasting life, where no blessing is to be hoped for, or righteousness to be sought, either through the law, or the traditions of men, or whatsoever can be named in this life, besides the promise of Abraham’s blessing. Let civil laws and ordinances abide in their place and order; let the magistrate make never so good and excellent laws: yet notwithstanding they deliver no man from the curse before God. The kingdom of Babylon ordained of God, and by him committed unto kings, had excellent laws, and all nations were commanded to obey them: notwithstanding, the obedience of the laws did not save it from the curse of the law of God. In like manner we obey the laws of princes and magistrates, but we are not therefore righteous before God: for here we are in another matter.

       It is not without cause that I do so diligently teach and repeat this distinction; for the knowledge thereof is very necessary. Albeit there are few that mark it or understand it indeed. Again, the confounding and mingling together of the heavenly and the civil righteousness, is very easy. In the civil righteousness we must have regard to laws and works; but in the spiritual, divine and heavenly righteousness, we must utterly reject all laws and works, and set the only promise and blessing of Abraham before our eyes, which layeth before us Christ the giver of this blessing and grace, and our only savior. So that this spiritual righteousness, secluding the law and all works, looketh only unto the grace and blessing which is given by Christ, as it was promised to Abraham, and of him believed.

       Hereby we may plainly see that this argument is invincible. For if we must hope to receive this blessing by Christ alone, then it must needs follow on the contrary, that it is not received by the law. For the blessing was given to faithful Abraham before the law and without the law. Now like as Abraham believed in Christ which was to come, the giver of the blessing: so and by the same faith we believe in Christ which is come and present, and so are we now justified by faith, as Abraham was then justified by faith.

       They therefore which are under the law, are not blessed, but remain under the curse.

       This the Pope and bishops do not believe, nor can believe, neither can they abide this doctrine. Yet must we not hold our peace, but must confess the truth and say, that the papacy is accursed; yea, all the laws and civil ordinances of the Emperor are accursed; for according to Paul, whatsoever is without the promise and faith of Abraham, is accursed. When our adversaries hear this, by and by they pervert and slander our words, as though we taught that the magistrates should not be honored, but that we raise up seditions against the Emperor, that we condemn all laws, that we overthrow and destroy commonweals, etc. But they do us great wrong.

       For we put a difference between the corporal and the spiritual blessing, and we say that the emperor is blessed with a corporal blessing. For to have a kingdom, laws and civil ordinances, to have a wife, children, house and lands, is a blessing. For all these things are the good creatures and gifts of God, But we are not delivered from the everlasting curse by this corporal blessing, which is but temporal and must have an end. Therefore we condemn not laws, neither do we stir up sedition against the Emperor; but we teach that he must be obeyed, that he must be feared, reverenced and honored, but yet civilly. But when we speak of the blessing after the manner of divines, then we say boldly with Paul, that all things which are without the faith and promise of Abraham, are accursed and abide under that everlasting curse of God. For there we must look for another life after this, and another blessing after this corporal blessing.

       To conclude, we say that all corporal things are the good creatures of God.

       Therefore (as I have said) to have a wife, children, goods, to have laws and politic ordinances and ceremonies, are the good blessings of God in their place; that is to say, they are temporal blessings belonging to this life. But these blessings the justiciaries and law-workers of all ages, as the Jews, Papists, Sectaries, and such like, do confound and mingle together. For they put no difference between corporal and spiritual blessings. Therefore they say: ‘We have a law, and this law is good, holy, and righteous; therefore we are justified through it.’ Who denieth but that the law is good, holy, and righteous? But yet it is also the law of malediction, of sin, of wrath, and of death. Wherefore we must make here a distinction between the corporal and spiritual blessing, and say that God hath a double blessing: one corporal for this life, and another spiritual for the everlasting life.

       Therefore, to have riches, children, and such like, we say it is a blessing, but in his degree: that is to say, in this life present. But as touching life everlasting, it is not enough to have corporal blessings; for the very wicked do therein abound most of all. It is not sufficient that we have civil righteousness or the righteousness of the law; for therein also the wicked do specially flourish. These things God distributeth in the world freely, and bestoweth them both upon the good and bad, like as he suffereth the sun to rise both upon the good and the evil, and sendeth rain upon the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:45); for he is liberal unto all. And to him it is a small matter to put all creatures under the feet of the wicked, Romans 8:20: ‘The creature is subject to vanity, not of his own will.’

       They therefore which have but only these corporal blessings, are not the children of God, blessed before God spiritually, as was Abraham; but they are under the curse, as Paul here saith: ‘Whosoever are under the works of the law are under the curse.’

       Paul might have said by a general proposition: Whatsoever is without faith, is under the curse. He saith not so, but he taketh that which besides faith, is the best, the greatest and most excellent among all corporal blessings of the world: to wit, the law of God. The law, saith he, indeed is holy and given of God; notwithstanding it doth nothing else but make all men subject to the curse, and keep them under the same. Now if the law of God do bring men under the curse, much more may the same be said of inferior laws and blessings. And that it may be plainly understood what Paul calleth it to be under the curse, he declareth by this testimony of the Scripture, saying:

For it is written: cursed is every man that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them (Deuteronomy 27:26).

Paul goeth about to prove by this testimony taken out of Deuteronomy, that all men which are under the law, or under the works of the law, are accursed, or under the curse; that is to say, under sin, the wrath of God, and everlasting death. For he speaketh not (as I have said before) of a corporal or politic, but of a spiritual and eternal curse, which must needs be the curse of everlasting death and hell. And this is a wonderful manner of proving. For Paul proveth this affirmative sentence: ‘Whatsoever are of the works of the law, are under the curse,’ by this negative, which he borroweth out of Moses: ‘Cursed is every one that abideth not in all things,’ etc. Now these two sentences of Paul and Moses seem clean contrary. Paul saith: Whosoever shall do the works of the law, is accursed.

       Moses saith: Whosoever shall not do the works of the law, is accursed.

       How shall these two sayings be reconciled together? Or else (which is more) how shall the one be proved by the other? What manner of proving were it, I pray you, if I should seek to prove this sentence: If thou keep the commandments of God, thou shalt enter into life? Should I not prove the contrary by the contrary? Truly a fine manner of proving! And yet this proof of Paul is very similar. This place no man understandeth, unless he also know and understand the article of justification. Jerome laboureth abundantly, but leaveth it unexplained.

       Paul, no doubt, being among the Galatians, had before more largely entreated of this matter: for else they could not have understood it, seeing he doth here but touch it by the way. But because they had heard him declare the same unto them before, they being now again put in mind thereof, do call it to remembrance. And these two sentences are not repugnant, but do very well agree. We also do teach in like manner: that the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified (Romans 2:13); and contrariwise: they that are of the works of the law, are under the curse. For the article of justification teacheth, that whatsoever is without the faith of Abraham, is accursed: and yet notwithstanding the justification of the law must be fulfilled in us (Romans 8:4). To a man that is ignorant of the doctrine of faith, these two sentences seem to be quite contrary, and as utterly foolish as to say: If thou shalt have fulfilled the law, thou shalt not have fufilled it ; but if thou shalt not have fulfilled it, thou shalt have fulfilled it.

       First of all therefore, we must mark well whereupon Paul entreateth in this place, whereabout he goeth, and how he looketh into Moses. He is here (as before I have often said) in a spiritual matter, separated from policy and from all laws, and he looketh into Moses with other eyes than the hypocrites and false apostles do, and expoundeth the law spiritually.

       Wherefore the whole effect of the matter consisteth in this word ‘to do.’

       Now to do the law, is not only to do it outwardly, but to do it truly and perfectly. There be two sorts then of doers of the law: the first are they which are of the works of the law, against whom Paul inveigheth throughout all this Epistle. The other sort are they which are of faith, of whom we will speak hereafter. Now, to be of the law, or of the works of the law, and to be of faith, are quite contrary, yea even as contrary as God and the devil, sin and righteousness, death and life. For they are of the law, which would be justified by the law. They are of faith, which do assuredly trust that they are justified through mercy alone for Christ’s sake. He which saith that righteousness is of faith, curseth and condemneth the righteousness of works. Contrariwise, he which saith that righteousness is of the law, curseth and condemneth the righteousness of faith. Therefore they are altogether contrary the one to the other. And Paul speaketh not here of the law and works in respect of their essence, but of the use and opinion of them which consisteth herein, that the hypocrites do seek to be justified by the law and works.

       He that considereth this, shall easily understand, that to observe the law, is not to do that which is commanded in the law in outward shew only (as the hypocrites imagine), but in spirit: that is to say, truly and perfectly. But where shall we find him that will so accomplish the law? Let us see him and we will praise him. Here our adversaries have their answer ready, saying:

       The doers of the law shall be justified (Romans 2:13).’ Very well. But let us first define who be these doers of the law. They call him a doer of the law, which doth the works of the law, and so by those works going before, is justified. This is not to do the law according to Paul: for as I have said, to be of the works of the law, and to be of faith, are contrary things.

       Therefore to seek to be justified by the works of the law, is to deny the righteousness of faith. Wherefore these justiciaries and law-workers, when they do the law, even in so doing deny the righteousness of faith, and sin against the first, the second, and third commandment, yea even against the whole law. For God commandeth that we should worship him in faith, and in the fear of his name. On the contrary they make righteousness of works, without faith and against faith: therefore in that they do the law, they do clean contrary to the law, and sin most deadly. For they deny the righteousness of God, his mercy and his promises: they deny Christ with all his benefits, and in their heart they establish, not the righteousness of the law (which they understand not, and much less do it), but a mere fancy and an idol of the law. Therefore we must needs say, that not only in doing of the law, they do it not, but also they sin, and deny the Divine Majesty in all his promises. And to this end the law was not given.

 

       Wherefore they, not understanding the law, abuse the law, and as Paul saith: ‘They being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God’ (Romans 10:3). For they are blind, and know not how they ought to judge of faith and of the promises, and therefore without all understanding they rush into the Scripture, taking hold but of one part thereof, to wit the law, and this they imagine that they are able to fulfill by works. But this is a very dream, a bewitching and illusion of the heart; and that righteousness of the law, which they think they do fulfill, is nothing else in very deed, but idolatry and blasphemy against God.

       Therefore it cannot be but they must needs abide under the curse.

       It is impossible therefore that we should do the law in such sort as they imagine, and much less that we should be justified thereby. This thing first the law itself testifieth, which hath a clean contrary effect: for it increaseth sin, it worketh wrath, it accuseth, it terrifieth and condemneth. How then should it justify? Moreover, the promise also sheweth the very same thing.

       For It was said unto Abraham: In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.’ There is no blessing therefore but in the promise of Abraham; and if thou be without that promise, thou art under the curse. If thou be under the curse, thou fulfillest not the law, because thou art under sin, the devil, and everlasting death: all which do assuredly follow the curse. To conclude: if righteousness should come by the law, then should the promise of God be in vain, and in vain should he pour out his blessing in so great abundance. Therefore when God saw that we could not fulfill the law, he provided for this long before the law, and promised the blessing to Abraham, saying: ‘In thee shall all the nations be blessed.’ And so hath he testified that all the nations should be blessed, not by the law, but through the promise made unto Abraham. They therefore that lay hold on the law, and seek to be justified thereby, despising the promise, are accursed.

       Wherefore ‘to do’ is first of all to believe, and so through faith to perform the law. We must first receive the Holy Ghost, wherewith we being lightened and made new creatures, begin to do the law, that is to say, to love God and our neighbor. But the Holy Ghost is not received through the law (for they which are under the law, as Paul saith, are under the curse), but by the hearing of faith, that is to say, through the promise. We must be blessed only with Abraham in the promise made unto him, and in his faith.

       Therefore before all things, we must hear and receive the promise, which setteth out Christ, and offereth him to all believers; and when they have taken hold upon him by faith, the Holy Ghost is given unto them for his sake. Then do they love God and their neighbor, then do they good works, then do they carry the cross patiently. This is to do the law indeed; otherwise the law remaineth always undone. Wherefore if thou wilt define truly and plainly what it is to do the law, it is nothing else, but to believe in Jesus Christ, and when the Holy Ghost is received through faith in Christ, to work those things which are commanded in the law: and otherwise we are not able to perform the law. For the Scripture saith, that there is no blessing without the promise, no not in the law. It is impossible therefore, to accomplish the law without the promise, which is the preaching of Christ who was promised to Abraham, that through him the world should be blessed.

       There is not one therefore to be found in all the world, unto whom this name and title, to be called a doer of the law, appertaineth, without the promise of the Gospel. Wherefore this word ‘doer of the law’ is a feigned term, which no man understandeth unless he be without and above the law in the blessing and faith of Abraham. So that the true doer of the law is he, who receiving the Holy Ghost through faith in Christ, beginneth to love God and to do good unto his neighbor. So that this word ‘to do’ must comprehend faith also which maketh the tree, and when the tree is made, then follow the fruits. The tree must be first, and then the fruit. For the apples make not the tree, but the tree maketh the apples. So faith first maketh the person which afterwards bringeth forth works. Therefore to do the law without faith, is to make the apples of wood and earth without the tree: which is not to make apples, but mere fantasies. Contrariwise, if the tree be made, that is to say, the person or doer, which is made through faith in Christ, works will follow. For the doer must needs be before the things which are done, and not the things which are done before the doer.

       The doer then is not so called of the things that are done, but of the things that are to be done. For Christians are not made righteous in doing righteous things, but being now made righteous by faith in Christ, they do righteous things. In politic matters it cometh so to pass, that the doer or worker is made of the things which are wrought, as a man in often playing the zither (as Aristotle saith) becometh a zitherist: but in divine matters the workers are not made of the works going before, but the persons made and framed already by faith, do now become doers and workers. Of such speaketh Paul when he saith: ‘The doers of the law shall be justified’ (Romans 2:13), that is, shall be counted righteous.

       Yea, the very sophisters and schoolmen are compelled to confess, and so they teach also, that a moral work outwardly done, if it be not done with a pure heart, a good will, and true intent, it is but hypocrisy. And hereof cometh the proverb among the Germans: The cowl covereth many a knave.

       For the vilest and wickedest knave in the world may counterfeit the same works that a godly man worketh by faith. Judas did the same works that the other Apostles did. What fault was there in the works of Judas, seeing he did the selfsame works that the other Apostles did? Here mark what the popish sophister answereth out of his moral philosophy. Although he did the selfsame works (saith he) which the other Apostles did, notwithstanding, because the person was reprobate, and the judgment of reason perverse, therefore his works were hypocritical and not true, as were the works of the other Apostles, how like soever they seemed to be in outward shew. Wherefore they themselves are constrained to grant that in politic and external matters, works do not justify, unless there be joined withal an upright heart, will, and judgment. How much more are they compelled to confess the same in spiritual matters, where before all things, there must be a knowledge of God, and faith which may purify the heart? They walk therefore in works and in the righteousness of the law, as Judas did in the works of the Apostles; not understanding what they say or whereof they speak. And although Paul saith plainly everywhere that the law justifieth not, but worketh wrath, uttereth sin, revealeth the indignation and judgment of God, and threateneth everlasting death: yet notwithstanding, reading these things, they see them not, much less do they understand them. Therefore they deserve not to be called hypocrites, but visors and shadows of disguised hypocrites, most miserably bewitched, in that they dream that they are justified by the works of the law. Wherefore, as I have said, this word ‘doer of the law,’ as they define it, is an imagined term, a very monster, and nowhere to be found.

       Wherefore, when Paul proveth this place, ‘Whosoever are of the works of the law, are under the curse,’ by this sentence of Moses, ‘Cursed is every one that abideth not in all that is written in this book,’ he proveth not one contrary by another, as at the first sight it may appear, but he proveth it rightly and in due order. For Moses meaneth and teacheth the selfsame thing that Paul doth, when he saith, ‘Cursed is every one which doth not all,’ etc. But no man doth them. Therefore whosoever are of the works of the law, keep not the law. If they keep it not, they are under the curse. But seeing there be two sorts of men that are doers of the law (as before I have said), that is to say, true doers and hypocrites, the true doers must be separated from the hypocrites. The true doers of the law are they which, through faith, are the good tree before the fruit, doers and workers before the works. Of these speaketh Moses also: and except they be such, they are under the curse. But the hypocrites are not of this sort; for they think to obtain righteousness by works, and by them to make the person just [and acceptable]. For thus they dream: We that are sinners and unrighteous, will be made righteous. How shall that be? By good works. Therefore they do even like as a foolish builder, which goeth about of the roof to make the foundation, of the fruit to make the tree. For when they seek to be justified by works, of the works they would make the worker, which is directly against Moses, who maketh such a worker subject to the curse, as well as Paul doth. Therefore while they go about to do the law, they not only do it not, but also deny (as I have said) the first commandment, the promises of God, the promised blessing of Abraham; they renounce faith and they go about to make themselves blessed by their own works: that is to say, to justify themselves, to deliver themselves from sin and death, to overcome the devil, and violently to lay hold upon the kingdom of heaven. And this is plainly to renounce God, and to set themselves in the place of God. For all these are the works of the Divine Majesty alone, and not of any creature either in heaven or in earth.

       Hereupon Paul was able easily to foreshew out of the first commandment, the abominations that were to come, which Antichrist should bring into the Church. For all they which teach that any other worship is necessary to salvation, than that which God requireth of us by the first commandment, which is the fear of God, faith and the love of God, are plain Antichrists, and set themselves in the place of God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). That such should come, Christ himself foretold when he saith, Matthew 25:5: ‘Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ.’ So we also at this day may boldly and easily pronounce, that whosoever seeketh righteousness by works without faith, denieth God and maketh himself God. For thus he thinketh: If I do this work, I shall be righteous, I shall be a conqueror of sin, death, the devil, the wrath of God, and of hell, and shall obtain life everlasting. And what is this else, I pray you, but to challenge that work unto himself which doth belong to God alone, and to shew indeed that he himself is God? Therefore it is an easy matter for us to prophesy, and most certainly to judge of all those which are without faith, that they are not only idolators, but very idols, which deny God and set themselves in the place of God. Upon the same ground Peter also prophesieth when he saith: ‘There shall be among you false teachers, which privily shall bring in damnable heresies, and shall deny the Lord that brought them,’ etc. (Peter 2:1).

       And in the Old Testament all the prophecies against idolatry sprang out of the first commandment. For all the wicked kings and prophets, with all the unfaithful people, did nothing else but that which the Pope and all hypocrites always do. They, contemning the first commandment and worship appointed of God, and despising the promise of Abraham’s seed, even that Seed in whom all nations should be blessed, ordained a wicked worship clean contrary to the Word of God, and said: With this worship will we serve God and set out his praise, which hath brought us out of the land of Egypt. So Jeroboam made two golden calves and said: ‘Behold thy Gods, O Israel, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt’ (I Kings 12:28). This he said of the true God which had redeemed Israel, and yet both he and all his people were idolaters; for they worshipped God contrary to the first commandment. They only regarded the work: which being done, they counted themselves righteous before God. And what was this else, but to deny God himself, whom they confessed with their mouth, and said that he had brought them out of the land of Egypt? Paul speaketh of such idolators when he saith: ‘They profess that they know God, but in their deeds they deny him’ (Titus 1:16).

       Wherefore all hypocrites and idolaters go about to do those works which properly pertain to the Divine Majesty, and belong to Christ only and alone. Indeed they say not in plain words: I am God, I am Christ, and yet in very deed they proudly challenge unto themselves the divinity and office of Christ, and therefore it is as much in effect as if they said: I am Christ, I am a savior, not only of myself, but also of others. This the monks have not only taught, but also have made the whole world to believe: to wit, that they are able, not only to make themselves righteous through their hypocritical holiness, but also others unto whom they communicate the same: whereas notwithstanding it is the proper office of Christ alone to justify the sinner. The Pope in like manner, by publishing and spreading his divinity throughout the whole world, hath denied and utterly buffed the office and divinity of Christ.

       It is expedient that these things should be well taught and well weighed: for thereby we may learn to judge of the whole Christian doctrine, and the life of man; also to confirm men’s consciences, to understand all prophecies and all the holy Scriptures, and rightly to judge of all other things. He that knoweth all these things rightly, may certainly judge that the Pope is Antichrist, because he teacheth a far other manner of worship, than the first Table setteth out. He may perfectly know and understand what it is to deny God, to deny Christ, and what Christ meaneth when he saith: ‘Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ’ (Matthew 24:5); what it is to be against God, and to be lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; what it signifieth that Antichrist sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as God; what it is to see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, etc. (Matthew 24:15; Daniel 9:27).

       Now hereof spring all these mischiefs, that this cursed hypocrisy will not be justified by the divine blessing, nor formed by God the creator; it will not be merely passive matter, but will actively work those things which it should patiently suffer God to work in it and receive of him. Therefore it maketh itself a creator and a justifier through its own works, despising the blessing promised and given to Abraham and to his believing children; so that every hypocrite is both the matter and the worker (although this be against philosophy, for one and the selfsame thing cannot act upon itself): the matter, because he is a sinner; the worker, because he putteth on a cowl, or chooseth some other work, through the which he hopeth to deserve grace, and to save himself and others: therefore he is both the creature and the creator. No man therefore can express with words, how execrable and horrible it is to seek righteousness in the law by works, without the blessing. For it is the abomination standing in the holy place, which denieth God, and setteth up the creature in the place of the creator.

       The doers of the law therefore are not the hypocrites, observing the law outwardly; but the true believers, who, receiving the Holy Ghost, do accomplish the law: that is to say, they love God and their neighbor, etc.

       So that the true doer of the law is to be understood, not in respect of the works which he worketh, but in respect of the person now regenerate by faith. For according to divinity, they that are made righteous, do righteous things; but according to philosophy it is not so, but contrariwise, they that do righteous things, are made righteous thereby. Therefore we, being justified by faith, do good works; through the which (as it is said, 2 Peter 1:10) our calling and election is confirmed, and from day to day is made more sure. But because we have only the first fruits of the Spirit, and have not as yet the tenths, and the remnants of sin do still remain in us, therefore we do not the law perfectly. But this imperfection is not imputed unto us which do believe in Christ, who was promised to Abraham, and hath blessed us. For we are nourished and tenderly cherished in the mean season, for Christ’s sake, in the lap of God’s long-sufferance. We are that wounded man which fell into the hands of thieves, whose wounds the Samaritan bound up, pouring in oil and wine, and afterwards laying him upon his beast, he brought him into the inn, and made provision for him, and departing, commended him to the host, saying, ‘Take care of him,’ etc. (Luke 10:30 ff.). And thus we in the meantime are cherished as it were in an hospice, until the Lord put to his hand the second time, as Isaiah saith, that he may deliver us (Isaiah 10:11).

       Wherefore the sentence of Moses: ‘Cursed is every one that abideth not in all things that are written in this book,’ is not contrary to Paul, who pronounceth all them to be accursed which are of the works of the law. For Moses requireth such a doer, as may do the law perfectly. But where shall we find him? Nowhere. Moses himself confesseth that he is not such, for he saith that there is none guiltless before God (Exodus 34); and David saith: ‘Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant,’ etc. (Psalm 143:2); and Paul: ‘For what I would, that do I not,’ etc. (Romans 7:15).

       Wherefore Moses together with Paul doth necessarily drive us to Christ, through whom we are made doers of the law, and are not accounted guilty of any transgression. How so? First by forgiveness of sins and imputation of righteousness, because of our faith in Christ. Secondly, by the gift [of God] and the Holy Ghost, which bringeth forth a new life and new motions in us, so that we may also do the law effectually. Now that which is not done is pardoned for Christ’s sake; and moreover, what sin soever is left in us, is not imputed. So Moses agreeth with Paul, and meaneth the selfsame thing that he doth, when he saith: ‘Cursed is every one that abideth not,’ etc. For he saith that they do not the law, because they would justify themselves by works, and concludeth with Paul, that they are under the curse. Therefore Moses requireth true doers of the law, which are of faith, even as Paul condemneth those which are not true doers, that is to say, which are not of faith. Herein is no repugnance, that Moses spake negatively and Paul affirmatively, so that you define rightly what is meant by this word ‘do.’ So both sentences are true, to wit, that all are accursed which abide not in all that is written in this book; and, that all they are accursed, which are of the works of the law.

AN ANSWER TO THOSE ARGUMENTS WHICH THE ADVERSARIES ALLEGE AGAINST THE DOCTRINE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH

Seeing this place offereth unto us an occasion, we must say something as touching the arguments which our adversaries do object against the doctrine of faith, which is, that we are justified by faith alone. There are many places both in the Old Testament and in the New, as concerning works and rewards of works, which our adversaries do allege, and think themselves able thereby utterly to overthrow the doctrine of faith which we teach and maintain. Therefore we must be well furnished and armed, that we may be able, not only to instruct our brethren, but also to answer the objections of our adversaries.

       The schoolmen, and all such as understand not the article of justification, do know no other righteousness than the civil righteousness and the righteousness of the law, which after a sort the Gentiles also do know.

       Therefore they borrow certain words out of the law and moral philosophy, as ‘to do’, ‘to work,’ and such like and they apply the same unto spiritual matters: wherein they deal most perversely and wickedly. We must put a difference between philosophy and divinity. The schoolmen themselves grant and teach, that in the order of nature, being goeth before working; for naturally the tree is before the fruit. Again, in philosophy they grant, that a work morally wrought is not good, except there be first a right [judgment of] reason and a good will 49 [or a good intent]. So then they will have a right [judgment of] reason and a good will to go before the work: that is to say, they make the person morally righteous before the work. Contrariwise, in divinity [and in spiritual matters], where they ought most of all so to do, such senseless asses they are that they pervert and turn all quite contrary, placing the work before the right[judgment of] reason and good will.

       Wherefore, doing is one thing in nature, another in philosophy, and another in divinity. In nature the tree must be first, and then the fruit. In moral philosophy, doing requireth a good will and a right [judgment of] reason to work well, going before. And here all the philosophers are at a stay, and can go no further. Therefore the divines say, that moral philosophy taketh not God for the object and final cause. For Aristotle, or a Sadducee, or a man of any civil honesty, calleth this right reason and a good will, if he seek the public commodity of the commonwealth, and the quietness and honesty thereof. A philosopher or law-giver ascendeth no higher. He thinketh not through a right [judgment of] reason and a good intent to obtain remission of sins and everlasting life, as the sophister or the monk doth. Wherefore the heathen philosopher is much better than such an hypocrite. For he abideth within his bounds, having only consideration of the honesty and tranquillity of the commonwealth, not mingling heavenly and earthly things together. Contrariwise, the blind sophister imagineth that God regardeth his good intent and works Therefore he mingleth earthly and heavenly thing,together, and polluteth the name of God. And this imagination he learneth out of moral philosophy, saving that he abuseth it much worse than the heathen man doth.

       Wherefore we must ascend up higher in divinity with this word ‘doing’ than in nature and in philosophy, so that it may be made altogether new. For when it is transferred from natural things to moral matters, it is no longer the same; neither is it the same when it is taken from philosophy and the law into divinity: but here it must have a quite new signification, and must require a right judgment of reason and a good will, not morally, but divinely; which is, that I know and believe by the word of the Gospel, that God hath sent his Son into the world to redeem us from sin and death. Here ‘doing’ is a new thing, unknown to reason, to philosophers, to lawyers, and unto all men: for it is a ‘wisdom hidden in a mystery’ etc. (1 Corinthians 2:7). Therefore in divinity the work necessarily requireth faith itself going before.

       Therefore when our adversaries do allege against us the sentences of the Scripture touching the law and works, where mention is made of working and doing, thou must answer them, that they are terms pertaining to divimty, and not to natural or moral things. If they be applied to natural or moral things, they must be taken in their own signification. But if they be applied to matters of divinity, they must include such a right [judgment of] reason and good will, as is incomprehensible to a man’s reason. Wherefore doing in divinity must be always understood of a faithful doing. So that this faithful doing is another realm, and as it were a new kingdom, separate from the [natural or] moral doing. Therefore, when we that are divines speak of doing, we must needs speak of that faithful doing: for in divinity we have no other right reason, no good will [or intent] besides faith.

       This rule is well observed in the eleventh chapter to the Hebrews. There are recited many and sundry works of the saints, out of the holy Scripture: as of David, who killed a lion and a bear, and slew Goliath. There the sophister or schoolman, that foolish ass, looketh upon nothing else but the outward appearance of the work, as a cow stareth at a new door. But this work of David must be so looked upon, that first we must consider what manner of person David was, before he did this work; to wit, that he was such a person, whose heart trusted in the Lord God of Israel, as the text plainly witnesseth: ‘The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine’; also: ‘Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, upon whom thou hast railed this day. And the Lord shall close thee in my hand, and I shall smite thee, and take thine head from thee’ etc., ‘because the Lord saveth not with sword nor spear’ etc. (Samuel 17:37, 45 ff.). You see then that he was a righteous man, acceptable to God, strong and constant in faith, before he did this work.

       This doing of David, therefore, is not a natural or moral doing, but a faithful doing.

       So it is said of Abel in the same Epistle, that through faith he offered up a better sacrifice unto God than Cain (Hebrews 11:4). If the schoolmen happen upon this place as it is read in Genesis 4:3 ff, (where it is simply set out, how that both Cain and Abel offered up their gifts, and that the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offerings), by and by they take hold of these words: ‘they offered their oblations’, and ‘the Lord had respect to the offerings of Abel’, and cry out saying: Here ye see that God had respect to offerings; therefore works do justify. So that these filthy swine do think that righteousness is but a moral thing, only beholding the vizor or outward shew of the work, and not the heart of him that doth the work: whereas notwithstanding even in philosophy they are constrained, not to look upon the bare work, but the good will of the worker. But here they stand altogether upon these words: ‘they offered up gifts’ and ‘the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offerings,’ and see not that the text saith plainly in Genesis, that the Lord had respect first to the person of Abel, which pleased the Lord because of his faith, and afterwards to his offerings. Therefore in divinity we speak of faithful works, sacrifices, oblations and gifts, that is to say, which are offered up and done in faith, as the Epistle to the Hebrews declareth saying: ‘Through faith Abel offered up a better sacrifice;’ ‘through faith Enoch was translated;’ ‘through faith Abraham obeyed God’ etc. We have here then a rule set forth in the eleventh to the Hebrews, how we should simply answer to the arguments objected of the adversaries as touching the law and works, that is to say: this or that man did this or that work in faith; and by this means thou givest a solution to all their arguments.

       Hereby it appeareth manifestly that in divinity the work is nothing worth without faith, but thou must needs have faith before thou begin to work.

       For without faith it is impossible to please God, but he that will come unto God must believe (Hebrews 11:6). Wherefore in the Epistle to the Hebrews it is said, that the sacrifice of Abel was better than the sacrifice of Cain, because he believed: therefore the work or the sacrifice of Abel was faithful. Contrariwise in Cain, because he was ungodly and an hypocrite, there was no faith [or trust] of God’s grace [or favor], but mere presumption of his own righteousness; and therefore his work whereby he went about to please God, was hypocritcal and unfaithful. Wherefore the adversaries themselves are compelled to grant, that in all the works of the saints faith is presupposed, for the which their works do please God [and are accepted of him]. Therefore in divinity there is a new doing, clean contrary to the moral doing.

       Moreover, we are also wont to distinguish faith after this manner, that faith is sometimes taken without the work, sometimes with the work. For like as an artificer speaketh diversely of the matter whereupon he worketh, and likewise a gardener of the tree being barren or fruitful; even so the Holy Ghost speaketh diversely of faith in the Scripture: sometimes (as a man would say) of an abstract or absolute faith, sometimes of a concrete, compound, or incarnate faith. Now, an absolute or abstract faith is this, when the Scripture speaketh absolutely of justification, or of the justified, as is to be seen in the Epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians. But when the Scripture speaketh of rewards and works, then it speaketh of the compound, concrete, or incarnate faith. We will rehearse some examples of this faith, as: ‘Faith which worketh by love;’ ‘Do this and thou shalt live;’ ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments;’ ‘He that doth these things shall live in them;’ ‘Decline from evil, and do that which is good.’ In these and such-like places (as there are many in the holy Scripture) where mention is made of doing, the Scripture always speaketh of faithful doing. As when it saith: ‘Do this and thou shalt live,’ it meaneth thus: See first that thou be faithful, that thou have a fight [judgment of] reason and a good will, that is to say, faith in Christ. When thou hast this faith, work on with God’s blessing.

       What marvel is it then, if merits and rewards be promised to this incarnate faith: that is to say, to the working faith, as was the faith of Abel, or to faithful works? And why should not the holy Scripture thus speak diversely of faith, when it speaketh divers ways of Christ, as he is God and man: that is to say, sometimes of his whole person, sometimes of his two natures apart, either of his divine or of his human nature? If it speak of the natures apart, it speaketh of Christ absolutely: but if it speak of the divine nature united in one person to the human nature, then it speaketh of Christ compound and incarnate. There is a common rule among the schoolmen of the communication of the properties, when the properties belonging to the divinity of Christ, are attributed to the humanity: which we may see everywhere in the Scriptures. As in Luke 2:10 f., the angel calleth the infant born of the Virgin Mary, the Savior of men and the universal Lord both of the angels and men; and in the first chapter he calleth him the Son of God (Luke 1:32). Hereupon I may truly say, that that infant which lay in the manger and in the lap of the Virgin, created heaven and earth and is Lord of the angels. Here I speak indeed of a man; but man in this proposition is a new word and (as the schoolmen themselves do grant) hath relation to the divinity: that is to say, this God which was made man, hath created all things. Creation is attributed only to the divinity [of Christ], for the humanity doth not create; and yet notwithstanding it is truly said that the man created, because the divinity, which alone createth, is incarnate with the humanity, and therefore the humanity together with the divinity is partaker of the same properties. Wherefore it is well and godly said: this man Jesus Christ brought Israel out of Egypt, stroke Pharaoh, and wrought all the wonders from the beginning of the world, etc.

       Therefore when the Scripture saith: ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments of God,’ ‘Do this and thou shalt live,’ etc., first we must see of what manner of keeping and doing it speaketh: for in these and in such-like places, as I have said, he speaketh of a compound faith, and not of a naked and simple faith. And the meaning of this place: ‘Do this and thou shalt live,’ is this: thou shalt live because of this faithful doing; or, this doing shall give unto thee life because of thy faith alone. After this manner faith is attributed to faith alone, as creation is to the divinity. And yet notwithstanding, as it is truly said that Jesus the son of Mary created all things, so also justification is attributed to the incarnate faith, or to the faithful doing. Therefore we must in no wise think with the sophisters and hypocrites, that works do absolutely justify, or that merits and rewards are promised to moral works, but to faithful works only.

       Let us therefore suffer the Holy Ghost to speak, as he doth in the Scriptures, either of naked, simple and abstract faith, or of compound, incarnate and concrete faith. All things which are attributed to works, do properly belong unto faith. For works must not be looked upon morally, but faithfully and spiritually. In theology, faith must always be the divinity of works, and so spread throughout the works as is the divinity throughout the humanity of Christ. He that cometh nigh unto the heat in heated iron, cometh nigh unto the iron; and he that hath touched the skin of Christ, hath verily touched God. Faith therefore doth all alone in the works [of the faithful]. Abraham is called faithful, because faith is spread throughout the whole person of Abraham: so that, beholding him working, I see nothing of the carnal or of the working Abraham, but the believing Abraham only. These things I do so diligently repeat, that I may shew you the doctrine of faith, and that ye may be able rightly and casey to answer the objections of the adversaries, which do mingle together philosophy and theology, and of moral works make spiritual and theological works. A theological work is a faithful work, and a theological man is a faithful man; also, a right reason and a good will is a faithful reason and will: in such wise that faith is universally the divinity in work, person and members, as the one and only cause of juitification, which notwithstanding afterward is attributed to the matter because of the form, that is, to the work because of the faith. Eternal and infinite power is given unto the man, Christ, not because of his humanity, but because of his divinity. For the divinity alone created all things, without any help of the humanity; nor did the humanity conquer sin and death, but the hook hidden under the worm, whereon the devil did fasten, conquered and devoured the devil, which sought to devour the worm. Therefore the humanity alone would have effected nothing, but the divinity, joined with the humanity, alone did all things, and the humanity because of the divinity. So here faith alone justifieth and doth all things: and yet notwithstanding the same is attributed unto works, but because of the faith.

       These words therefore, ‘to do’, ‘to work’, may be taken three ways: substantially (or naturally), morally, and theologically – (though the sophisters have invented certain neutral works, which they alarm to be neither good nor bad). In substances, or natures, and in moral matters (as I have said), these words are taken in their common and natural signification. But in theology they become altogether new words, and acquire a new signification. Wherefore, all the hypocrites that wilt be justified by the law, and have false opinions concerning God, do belong unto the moral doing; against whom Paul here disputeth. For they have such a doing as proceedeth out of a right reason and a good will that are but moral or human. Therefore their works are merely moral or rational; whereas the works of the godly are theological, which include faith.

       Wherefore when thou readest in the Scriptures concerning the fathers, prophets and kings, how they wrought righteousness, raised up the dead, overcame kingdoms, etc., thou must remember that these and such-like sayings are to be expounded according to a new and theological grammar, as the Epistle to the Hebrews expoundeth them: ‘By faith they wrought righteousness, by faith they raised up the dead, by faith they subdued kings and kingdoms (Hebrews 11:33 ff.). So that faith incorporateth the work, and giveth it his perfection. And this the adversaries, if they be well in their wits, cannot deny, neither have they anything to say or object against it. Indeed they can cry out that the Scripture speaketh oftentimes of doing and working. And we always answer them again, that is speaketh also of faithful doing. For first ought reason to be lightened by faith before it worketh; but when a true opinion and knowledge of God is held as right reason, then is the work incarnated and incorporated into it: so that whatsoever is attributed to faith, is afterwards attributed to works also, but yet because of faith only and alone.

       Wherefore they which study divinity, must learn to put a difference between the true and the hypocritical, the moral and the spiritual doing [of the law]. So shall they be able to declare the true meaning of all those places which seem to maintain the righteousness of works. Now the true doing, as I have said, is a faithful and a spiritual doing, which he hath not that seeketh righteousness by works. Therefore every worker of the law and every moral saint is accursed. For he walketh in the presumption of his own righteousness against God, whilst he will be justified by man’s will and reason, and so in doing of the law he doth it not. And this, according to Paul, is to be under the works of the law: that is to say, that hypocrites do the law, and yet in doing it they do it not; for they understand this word ‘doing’ according to the moral grammar, which in divinity availeth not. Indeed they work many things, but of their own presumption and without the knowledge of God and faith, as the Pharisee did (Luke 18:10 ff.) and as Paul did before his conversion: therefore they are blind and do err, and so remain under the curse. Wherefore again I admonish you, that such sentences as the adversaries do allege out of the Scriptures concerning works and rewards, must be spiritually expounded. As, if they allege this sentence out of Daniel 4:27: ‘Redeem thy sins by alms-deeds,’ thou must not here expound these words morally, but spiritually. So shalt thou see that this word ‘redeem’ signifieth no moral, but a faithful doing, that is to say, it includeth faith. For in the Scriptures the work requireth also a good will and a right [judgment of] reason to go before, not moral, but spiritual, which is faith. By this means thou shalt be able to stop the mouths of the sophisters. For they themselves are compelled to grant (and so teach they also out of Aristotle), that every good work proceedeth out of man’s choice [or freewill]. If thisbe true in philosophy, much more in divinity must a good will and right [judgment of] reason guided by faith go before the work. And this do all words of the imperative mood signify in the Scriptures, and all such words also as teach the law, as the Epistle to the Hebrews doth plainly declare: ‘By faith Abel offered’ etc.

       Now, admit the case that this solution is not sufficient (although it be indeed most sure and certain), yet notwithstanding let this be the argument of all arguments and the very lodestar of Christians against all the temptations and objections, not only of the adversaries, but also of the devil himself, namely to apprehend and to hold fast the head, which is Christ. Moreover, admit that the sophisters, being more crafty and subtle than I, should so snare and entangle me with their arguments, which they bring for the maintenance of works against faith, that I should know no way to wind myself out (which notwithstanding it is impossible for them to do), yet will I rather give reverence and credit to Christ alone, than be persuaded with all the places they are able to allege for the establishing of the righteousness of works against the doctrine of faith.

       Wherefore, they must be simply and plainly answered after this manner:

       Here is Christ, there are the testimonies of the Scriptures touching the law and works. Now, Christ is the Lord of the Scripture and of all works. He also is Lord of heaven, the earth, the sabbath, the temple, righteousness, life, wrath, sin, death, and generally of all things whatsoever. And Paul his Apostle sheweth that he was made sin and became accursed for me (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13). I hear then that I could by no other means be delivered from my sin, my death and my malediction, but by his death and blood-shedding. Wherefore I most assuredly conclude, that it behoved Christ himself to overcome my sin, death and malediction in his own body, and not the works of the law or mine own works. And hereunto reason is naturally constrained to yield and say, that Christ is not the work of the law, or my work; that his blood and death is not circumcision, the observation of the ceremonies of the law, much less a monk’s cowl, a shaven crown, abstinence, or vows; and that his victory, which he hath given unto me, is not a Carthusian. Wherefore, if he be the price of my redemption, if he be made sin and malediction that he might justify and bless me, I care not if thou bring a thousand places of the Scripture for the righteousness of works against the righteousness of faith, and cry out never so much that the Scripture is against me. I have the Author and Lord of the Scripture with me, on whose side I will rather stand than believe thee; Albeit it is impossible that the Scripture should be against this doctrine, unless it be amongst the senseless and obstinate hypocrites; but to the godly and such as have understanding, it giveth witness for its Lord. See therefore how thou canst reconcile the Scripture, which thou sayest is against my doctrine. As for me, I will stick to the Author of the Scripture.

       Therefore if any man thinketh himself not well able to reconcile such places of the Scripture concerning works, or to answer unto the same sufficiently, and yet notwithstanding is constrained to hear the objections and cavillations of the adversaries, let him answer simply and plainly after this sort: Thou settest against me the servant, that is to say, the Scripture, and that not wholly, neither yet the principal part thereof, but only certain places as touching works. But I come with the Lord himself, who is the King of Scripture, and is made unto me the merit and price of righteousness and salvation. On him I lay hold, him I stick to, and leave works unto thee, which notwithstanding thou never didst. This solution neither the devil nor any justiciary can ever wrest from thee or overthrow.

       Moreover thou art in safety before God: for thy heart abideth fixed in the object which is called Christ, who was nailed to the Cross and accursed, not for himself, but for us, as the text saith: ‘made a curse for us.’ Hold fast this, and lay it against all the sentences of the law and works whatsoever, and say: Dost thou hear this, Satan? Here he must needs give place, for he knoweth that Christ is his Lord and master.

And that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: ”for the just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 1:4).

This is another argument, grounded upon the testimony of the prophet Habakkuk. And it is a sentence of great weight and authority, which Paul setteth against all the sentences touching the law and works. As if he should say: What need we any long disputation? Here I bring forth a most evident testimony of the prophet, against the which no man can cavil: ‘The just shall live by faith.’ If he live by faith, then he liveth not by the law: for the law is not of faith. And here Paul excludeth works and the law, as things contrary to faith. The sophisters (as they are alway ready to corrupt the Scriptures) do wrest and pervert this place after this manner. ‘The just man doth live by faith:’ that is to say, by a working faith, or formed [and made perfect] with charity: but if it be not formed with charity, then doth it not justify. This gloss they themselves have forged, and by the same they do injury to the words of the prophet. If they did call formed [or furnished] faith the true and spiritual, or as Paul saith ‘unfeigned’ faith, which God calleth faith, this their gloss should not offend me; for then faith should not be separated from charity, but from the vain opinion of faith: as we also put a difference between a counterfeit faith and a true faith. The counterfeit faith is that which heareth of God, of Christ, and of all the mysteries of his incarnation and our redemption: which also apprehendeth and beareth away those things which it heareth, yea and can talk goodly thereof, and yet there remaineth nothing else in the heart, but a naked opinion and an empty sound of the Gospel. And in very truth it is no faith, for it neither reneweth nor changeth the heart: it maketh not a new man, but leaveth him in the vanity of his former opinion and conversation: and this is a very pernicious faith, which it were better not to have. The moral philosopher is much better than the hypocrite having such a faith.

       Wherefore, if they would make a distinction between the faith formed and the false or counterfeit faith, their distinction should nothing offend me.

       But they speak of faith formed [and made perfect] with charity, and make a double faith, that is to say, formed and unformed. This pestilent and devilish gloss I utterly detest. Although, say they, we have faith infused, [called fides infusa ,] which is the gift of the Holy Ghost, and also faith gotten by our own industry, [called fides acquisita ,] which we do get for ourselves by many acts of believing: yet both of them lack their form [and perfection, which is charity,] and are formed with charity. So faith alone (as they dream) is like a painting and a thing of beauty in a dark place, which cannot be perceived until light, that is to say charity, is added unto it. And thus charity is the form of faith, and faith the mere matter of charity. This is to prefer charity before faith, and to attribute righteousness, not to faith, but to charity. Wherefore when they do not attribute righteousness to faith, but only in respect of charity, they attribute to faith nothing at all.

       Moreover, these perverters of the Gospel of Christ do teach, that even that faith which they call faith infused, and not received by hearing, nor gotten by any working, but created in man by the Holy Ghost, may stand with deadly sin, and that the worst men may have this faith: therefore, say they, if it be alone, it is idle and utterly unprofitable, even though it work miracles. Thus they take from faith her office, and give it unto charity; so that faith is nothing, except charity which they call the form [and perfection] thereof, be joined withal. Therefore according to this pestilent invention of the sophisters, faith – that miserable virtue – must be a kind of unformed chaos, without any work, efficacy and life, being only passive matter. This is a devilish and blasphemous kind of doctrine, which utterly defaceth and overthroweth the doctrine of faith, and carrieth a man clean from Christ the mediator, and from the faith which layeth hold on Christ himself. For if charity be the form [and perfection] of faith, as they dream, then am I by and by constrained to say, that charity is the principal part of the Christian religion; and so I lose Christ, his blood, his wounds, and all his benefits, and now I rest upon charity, I love, and I fall into a moral doing, even as the Pope, the heathen philosopher, and the Turk doth.

       But the Holy Ghost, which giveth to all men both mouth and tongue, knoweth how to speak. He could have said (as the sophisters do wickedly imagine): The righteous man liveth by faith formed [and made perfect with charity]. But this he omitteth of purpose, and saith plainly: ‘The righteous liveth by faith.’ Let these dotish sophisters go, therefore, with this their wicked and pestilent gloss. We will still hold and extol this faith, which God himself hath called faith: this is to say, a true and a certain faith, which doubteth not of God, nor of his promises, nor of the forgiveness of sins through Christ, that we may dwell sure and safe in this our object Christ, and may keep still before our eyes the passion and blood of the mediator and all his benefits. Now, faith alone which layeth hold upon Christ, is the only means that we suffer not these benefits to be taken out of our sight.

       Wherefore, rejecting this pestilent gloss, we must understand this place of faith only and alone. And this Paul himself declareth, when he reasoneth after this sort against faith formed with charity.

And the law is not of faith

The schoolmen say: The righteous man doth live, if his faith be formed [and adorned with charity]. But contrariwise Paul saith: ‘The law is not of faith.’ But what is the law? Is it not also a commandment touching charity?

       Yea, the law commandeth nothing else but charity, as we may see by the text itself: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,’ etc. (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37). Again: ‘Shewing mercy unto thousands that love’ (Deuteronomy 5:10). Also: ‘On these two commandments hangeth the whole law and the prophets’ (Matthew 22:40). If the law, then, that commandeth charity, be contrary to faith, it must needs follow that charity is not of faith. So Paul plainly confuteth the gloss which the sophisters have forged touching their formed faith, and speaketh only of faith, setting apart the law. Now the law being set apart, charity is also set apart, with all that belongeth to the law, and faith only is left which justifieth and quickeneth.

       Paul therefore reasoneth here out of a plain testimony of the prophet, that there is none which obtaineth justification and life before God, but the believing man, who obtaineth righteousness and life without the law and without charity, by faith alone. The reason is, because the law is not of faith: that is, the law is not faith or anything belonging to faith, for it believeth not; neither are the works of the law faith: therefore faith is a thing much differing from the law, like as the promise is a thing much differing from the law. For the promise is not apprehended by working, but by believing.

       Therefore as in philosophy at the first division a difference is put between substance and accident, so in divinity there is as great a difference between the promise and the law, and consequently between faith and works, as there is distance between heaven and earth. But if there be a difference between the promise and the law, then is there a difference also between faith and works. It is impossible therefore that faith should be of the law.

       For faith only resteth in the promise, it only apprehendeth and knoweth God, and standeth only in receiving good things of God. Contrariwise the law and works consist in doing, and in giving unto God: as Abel in offering his sacrifice giveth unto God; but he believing receiveth of God. Paul therefore concludeth mightily out of this place of Habakkuk, that the righteous man liveth by faith alone. For the law in no wise belongeth unto faith, because the law is not the promise. But faith resteth only upon the promise. Wherefore, as there is a difference between the law and the promise, so there is also between works and faith. That gloss therefore of the schoolmen is false and wicked, which joineth the law and faith together; yea rather it quencheth faith, and setteth the law in the place of faith.

       And here note, that Paul always speaketh of such as would do the law morally, and not according to divinity. But whatsoever is said of such good works as divinity requireth, the same is attributed to faith alone.

But the man that shall do these things, shall live in them

These words I do understand to be irony. Notwithstanding I deny not that they may be expounded morally, to wit, that they which do the law morally, that is to say, without faith, shall live therein: that is, they shall not be punished, but shall have corporal rewards thereby. But I take this place as I take that saying of Christ: ‘This do, and thou shalt live’ (Luke 10:28), so that it is a certain irony or mockery. Yea, do thou it indeed!

       Paul here goeth about to shew what is the very true righteousness of the law and of the Gospel. The righteousness of the law is to fulfill the law, according to that saying: ‘He that shall do those things, shall live in them.’

       The righteousness of faith is to believe, according to that saying: ‘The righteous man doth live by faith.’ The law therefore requireth that we should yield somewhat unto God. But faith requireth no works of us, or that we should give anything unto God, but that we believing the promise of God, should receive of him. Theretore the office of the law is to work, as the office of faith is to assent unto the promises. For faith is the faith of the promise, and the work is the work of the law. Paul therefore standeth upon this word ‘doing:’ and that he may plainly shew what is the righteousness of the law, and what is the righteousness of faith, he compareth the one with the other, the promise with the law and faith with works. He saith, that of the law there cometh nothing else but only doing: but faith is a clean contrary thing, namely, that which assenteth to the promise and layeth hold upon it.

       These four things therefore must be perfectly distinguished. For as the law hath his proper office, so hath the promise. To the law pertaineth doing, and to the promise believing. Wherefore, as far as the law and the promise are separate asunder, so far also are doing and believing, even if thou understand ‘doing’ spiritually. For Paul treateth here of another matter. He urgeth the distinction between doing and believing, that he may separate charity from faith and shew that faith alone justifieth, because the law, whether it be done morally or spiritually, or be not done, helpeth nothing at all unto justification. For the law pertaineth unto doing; and faith is not a thing of this kind, but a thing altogether diverse, which is required before the law is done, that it may be pre-existent and so there may come to pass a lovely incarnation.

       Wherefore, faith always justifieth and quickeneth : and yet it abideth not alone, that is to say, it is not idle. Indeed it abideth alone in its degree and office, for it justifieth always alone; but it becometh incarnate and is made man, that is to say, it is never idle or without charity. So Christ according to his divinity is a divine and eternal substance or nature without beginning; but his humanity is a nature created in time. These two natures in Christ are not confused or mingled, and the property of each must be clearly distinguished. It belongeth unto the humanity, to have a beginning in time, but unto the divinity to be eternal and without beginning; and yet notwithstanding these two do agree, and the divinity that hath no beginning is incorporated into the humanity that hath a beginning. As, therefore, I am constrained to distinguish between the humanity and the divinity, and say: humanity is not divinity, and yet a Man is God, so here I make a distinction and say: the law is not faith, and yet faith worketh, and faith and works agree concretely or compoundly, and yet each hath and preserveth its own nature and proper office. Ye see the cause then why Paul allegeth this place, namely, that he may separate faith and charity far asunder.

       Fie upon the sophisters therefore with their cursed gloss and their [blind distinction of] faith formed [and unformed]. Let us constantly declare that these terms, ‘faith formed’, ‘faith unformed’, ‘faith gotten by man’s industry’ and such like, are very monsters devised by the devil, to no other end but to deface and destroy the true Christian doctrine and faith, to blaspheme and tread Christ under foot, and to establish the righteousness of works. Let us declare this, I say, that we may hold fast the true and right faith without works. Indeed works must follow faith, but faith must not be works, or works faith; but the bounds and the kingdoms of the law or works, and of faith, must be rightly distinguished the one from the other.

       When we believe, therefore, we live only by faith in Christ, who is without sin, who is also our mercy-seat and remission of sins. Contrariwise, when we observe the law, we work indeed, but we have not righteousness and life. For [the office] of the law is not to justify and give life, but to shew forth sin and to destroy. Indeed the law saith: ‘He that shall do those things shall live in them.’ But where is he which doth them? Where is he which loveth God with all his heart, etc., and his neighbor as himself? Therefore no man doth the law, and although he go about to do it never so much, yet in doing it he doth it not: therefore he abideth under the curse. But faith worketh not, but believeth in Christ the justifier. Therefore a man liveth not because of his doing, but because of his believing. But a faithful man performeth the law; and that which he doth not, is forgiven him through the remission of sins for Christsake, and that which remaineth of sin is not imputed unto him.

       Paul therefore in this place, as also in Romans 10, compareth the righteousness of the law and of faith together, where he saith: ‘He that shall do those things,’ etc. As though he would say: It were indeed a goodly matter if we could accomplish the law; but because no man doth it, we must fly unto Christ, who is the end of the law to righteousness to every one that believeth. He was made under the law, that he might redeem us that were under the law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 4:4). Believing in him we receive the Holy Ghost, and we begin to do the law; and that which we do not, is not imputed unto us because of our faith in Christ. But in the life to come we shall no more have need of faith, for then we shall not see darkly through a glass (as we do now), but we shall see face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12): that is to say, there shall be the brightness of eternal glory, in which we shall see God even as he is. There shall be a true and a perfect knowledge and love of God, a right reason and a goodwill: not moral and not theological, but heavenly, divine and eternal. Here in the meantime, in spirit by faith, we look for the hope of righteousness.

       Contrariwise, they that seek forgiveness of sins by the law and not by faith in Christ, do never perform the law, but abide under the curse.

       Paul therefore calleth them only righteous, which are justified through the promise, or through faith in the promise, without the law. Wherefore, doing the law is a feigned thing, which signifieth nothing