Page images

(Rom. v.), " Where sin abounded, grace did more abound:" the benefits and merits of this Seed abound and are more available before the judgment of God, than sin, the flesh, the devil, and the world. This treasure and inestimable riches must be perfectly known of every person, that will be saved. It is only in Christ and in the knowledge of him, what he is and what is his office.


What Christ is.

He is the Son of the living God and the perpetual Virgin Mary both God and man, the true Messias, promised unto man from the beginning of his fall. Whom St. John calleth the Word of eternal essence and divine majesty, saying, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John, i.) St. Paul (Col. i.) calleth him "the image of God, &c." and (Heb. i.) "the brightness of God." The creed of Nice calleth him "light of light," the natural Son of God, in whom dwelleth the fountain of all divinity naturally, as Paul saith (Col. ii.), " In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;" meaning, that he is not the Son of God by adoption or acceptation into grace, as Abraham, David, and other holy saints: but naturally the Son of God, equal with the Father in all things, as John saith, "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." So doth St. John prove him in all his writings to be the very true and everlasting God, and not, as Ebion and Cerinthus said, that he was but very man only: he was made mortal man, as John saith, " And the Word was made flesh," to save the damned man from immortal death: and to be a mediator and intercessor unto God for man. (Matt. xi. John, iii. Isa. xi.)

This Scripture doth not only teach us the knowledge of salvation, but doth comfort us against all the assaults, subtilties, and crafts of the devil, that God would of his inestimable love rather suffer his only Son to die for the world, than all the world should perish. Remaining always, as he was, very God immortal, he received the thing he was not, the mortal nature and true flesh of man, in the which he died, as Peter saith. (1 Pet. iv.) Irenæus hath these godly words: "Christus fuit crucifixus & mortuus, quiescente verbo, ut crucifigi & mori possit." The divine nature of Christ was not rent, or torn, or killed, but it obeyed the will of the Father. It gave place unto the displeasure and ire of God, that the body of Christ might die. Being always equal with his Father, he could, if he had executed his divine power, have delivered this body from the tyranny of the Jews.

These words of Irenæus do wonderfully declare unto us what Christ is, and agree with Paul (Phil.ii.), "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant:" seeing, he was sent into the world to suffer this most cruel death and passion, he would do nothing that should be contrary to his vocation, but, with patience praying for his enemies, submitted himself unto the ignominy and contempt of the cross; suffering pains innumerable without grudge or murmur against the holy will of his Father: his Godhead hiding itself, until the third day, when it restored the soul again unto the body, and caused it to rise with great triumph and glory (Rom. i. Matt. xxviii. John, xx. Luke, xxiv. Mark, xvi.), repeating the doctrine, that before his death he preached unto the world, that he was both king and

lord, high bishop and priest, both of heaven and of earth. "All power is given unto me both in heaven and in earth: go therefore, teach all nations, &c." (Matt. xxviii.)

He, that before was most vile and contemptible in the sight of the world, now by right and just title claimeth the dominion and empire of all the world. How mighty a prince he is, the creation of the world and the preservation thereof declare. How merciful towards them that repent, we know by daily experience in ourselves and by the example of others, Adam, David, Manasseh, and Peter. How cruel and rigorous for sin, the punishment that we suffer and the calamities of this world declare, especially the death of his most innocent body. How immortal his ire is against such as repent not, Saul, Pharaoh, Judas, with others, declare. How mighty and fearful a lord this, our Saviour Jesus Christ, is, read his title and style, Nahum, i. where the Prophet threateneth the destruction of Nineveh and the whole kingdom of the Assyrians. As the princes of the world use to declare in their letters patent, of what power, force, and strength they be, and the names of the realms and dominions that they have under their protection and governance, to fear their enemies, that they make no resistance, nor move the peace of so mighty a prince: so such a title giveth the Prophet unto God, to fear the city of Nineveh and kingdom of the Assyrians, saying, "What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time." This is the style of the God omnipotent, our Saviour Jesus Christ, in whose name all powers bow their knees in heaven, in earth, and in hell. (Phil. ii.)


Of the Priesthood of Christ.

Now that the Scripture hath taught us to know, that Christ is both God and man, I will briefly entreat of his office: first, of his priesthood; then, of his kingdom and reign over his church till the world's end; then, for ever in solace with his elect, in perpetual mercy and favour: but with such, as contemn in this world his holy commandment and pleasure, in severe justice and immortal hatred and ire for ever. (John, iii.)

St. Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews proveth him' to be the Priest, called by God unto that function and office of the high Bishop; "Christ glorified not himself to be made an high-priest: but He, that said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedeck." (Heb. v.) By whose obedience unto the cross he gave everlasting health to as many as obeyed him. And in all things he executed the very true office of a bishop, to whom it appertained to teach the people; which was the chiefest part of the bishop's office, and most diligently and straitly commanded by God. As all the books of Moses and the Prophets teach, and Christ commanded Peter (Jöhn, xx.): and Paul all the bishops and priests of his time. (Acts, xx.)

Of Christ's authority and preaching, Moses and Stephen (Acts, vii. Deut. xviii.) say thus, "A' Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me: Him ye shall hear." He, that will not hearken unto his voice, shall be as none of the people of God. This authority to preach, the Father gave unto him in the hearing of the Apostles (Matt. iii. 17), and bound his church to receive his doctrine, saying,

[blocks in formation]

"This is my dear beloved Son, in whom I delight, hear him." He taught the will of his Father unto the world, and how they might be saved from death infernal (John, xvii. 6. Matt. xi. 5, 6, 7), so that they repented and believed the Gospel. (Matt. iii. Mark, x.) He left nothing untaught, but, as a good doctor, manifested unto his audience all things necessary for the health of man. As the woman confessed (John, iv.), "Messias, when he is come, will tell us all things." He preached not only himself, but sent his Apostles and disciples to manifest unto the world, that the acceptable time of grace was come, and the sacrifice for sin born into the world. (Matt. x. John, x.) Aud after his resurrection he gave them commandment to preach, and likewise what they should preach. "Go ye unto all the world, and preach the Gospel, which I have taught you, to every creature." (Matt. xxviii. Mark, xvi.) The which doctrine Luke thus expoundeth: "That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke, xxiv.) "In his name," that is to say, "in the knowledge and faith of his merits they should preach repentance and remission of sin unto all the world as they did most sincerely and plainly without all glosses or additions of their own invention, and were as testimonies of the truth, and not the authors thereof." (Acts, i. John, i.)

So doth Paul teach with gravity and manifest words, what is to be judged of himself and all other ministers: "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." (2 Cor. v.) Always in their doctrine they taught the thing, that Christ first taught, and Gol's holy

« PreviousContinue »