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The Office of a justified Man.
What the office of a justified man is, Paul declareth, Tit. ii. "The grace of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and fleshly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." By these words Paul forbiddeth all impiety and dishonest life, and sheweth man, that is justified, what he should do: not to live after the concupiscence of the flesh, but soberly; not unjustly and doing wrong unto others, but rather to profit and do well unto all men.
It sufficeth not man justly to keep his goods, but he is bound justly to dispense his goods unto others, whether they be of the body or of the mind; religiously and not superstitiously. A notable word godly," as the word of God teacheth, and not as man's laws contrary unto God's law teach, "waiting for the blessed hope, &c." He provoketh men to live well, and taketh his reason from the profit and commodity that followeth a godly life, which is immortal life at the coming of Christ to judgment.
Likewise he proves it with another argument: "The Son of God gave neither gold nor silver for our purgation, but his own body and precious blood." It is therefore an unworthy thing and not becoming a Christian man, who by faith hath received this purgation, to live a vicious and ungodly life. But we should be an holy people and followers of good works. There is a great virtue in this word, "Zelotein." It is not sufficient to work well, except the justified man with a godly zeal and ardent desire follow this good work begun. Therefore Paul saith, "It is a good thing to be zealously affected in a good thing," and not
only a performer of good works. Whereby we know, that although we be delivered from the malediction, curse, and damnation of the law, so that we retain a true faith, and with confidence in Christ repugn sin and overcome the terrors thereof; yet are we bound to the obedience of the law, which is God's will to keep us from living ill. And the more the justified man beholdeth the law, the more increaseth the knowledge of sin; the more he beholdeth the mercy of God in Christ, the more is his faith increased.
The law is also necessary for the justified man, to teach him with what works he should exercise his faith withal and obedience unto God. We may not choose works of our own wisdom to serve him withal; but he would us to be governed by his word, as David saith, "Thy word is a light to my feet." Also, "In vain they worship me, following the traditions of men." The wisdom of man, not governed by the word of God, doth soon err. It is carried for the most part with affections, and chooseth the works that be contrary to the law of God. Therefore this is true, that the ordinance of God still remains in the justified man immutable, that he must obey the law and serve in his vocation according to the Scripture; that the exterior facts may bear testimony to the inward reconciliation.
The Scripture is more diligent and more ample in teaching the Christian justified man obedience unto God and a virtuous life, than it is to shew us our salvation in Christ; and that is for this purpose only, that we should not by our licentious liberty receive the grace of God in vain. It is more easy for man to know the Gospel, than to follow the life of the Gospel. Another man may preach Christ, but the hearer must follow Christ.
The science of the Scripture is practical and not speculative; it requireth a doer and not a speaker only.
There be many that dissemble faith, and have a certain show of religion, when indeed in the inward man there is no faith at all. Let every man therefore search his own conscience, with what faith he is endued, and remember that Christ said, "It is a strait way and narrow that leadeth to life (Matt. vii.), and but a few that walk therein." Therefore our only remedy is to pray for grace and
Printed in Zurich by Augustine Fries,
WHEREIN IS DECLARED WHAT A CHRISTIAN MAN IS BOUND TO BELIEVE OF GOD, HIS KING, HIS NEIGHBOUR, AND HIMSELF.
"The heart believeth to justice, confession by the mouth is to salvation." Rom. x.
Imprinted at London by John Day, dwelling over Aldersgate, A. D. 1550.